1 Thursday, 14
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 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
8 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
9 WITNESS: ZVONIMIR BEKAVAC
10 [Witness answered through interpreter]
11 JUDGE MAY: If you'd like to take a seat.
12 Yes, Mr. Kovacic.
13 MR. KOVACIC: Thank you, Your Honour.
14 Examined by Mr. Kovacic:
15 Q. [Interpretation] Good morning, Mr. Bekavac. I'd like to thank you
16 for coming to the Tribunal and responding to our request. For the record,
17 would you please give us your name and surname, your date and place of
19 A. My name is Zvonimir Bekavac. I was born on the 2nd of January,
20 1943, in Vitez. I am married and the father of two children. I am an
21 engineer of the work process or organisation of work. I'm retired, and I
22 live in Vitez.
23 Q. Mr. Bekavac, you have spent your whole life in Vitez; is that
25 A. Yes, it is.
1 Q. How long have you worked in the company, that is, within the
2 frameworks of the company that we tend to refer to as the SPS?
3 A. I worked there for approximately 30 years.
4 JUDGE MAY: While we're on that subject, Mr. Kovacic, sometimes a
5 company is referred to as Vitezit and sometimes the SPS. It might be
6 helpful if we got the relationship right.
7 MR. KOVACIC: That was exactly, Your Honour, what I intended,
8 because finally we have a witness who's been there 30 years.
9 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Bekavac, could you in a few sentences explain
10 to the Trial Chamber the organisational structure of these companies? One
11 companies, five companies, three companies. Could you explain all the
12 companies belonging to the same factory that were in that locality? And
13 what is most important, could you focus on 1992 when the factory actually
14 stopped producing.
15 A. By the decree of the then government, that is to say, the
16 government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, in 1950 a company was
17 established which was called 202. That was its code. That coded company,
18 202, was later to take the name of Slobodan Princip Seljo.
19 Q. I apologise for interrupting you. The general abbreviation of
20 that Slobodan Princip Seljo is SPS; is that correct?
21 A. Yes. That SPS company produced powders, gunpowders, for the
22 purposes of the Yugoslav People's Army, primarily. Immediately after the
23 founding of that SPS company, the explosives production plant was set up
24 and the fuses plant. That was for the economy.
25 Later on in 1965, or around 1965, this company, the SPS company,
1 underwent a transformation, that is to say, up until its association and
2 pooling into a business concern called Unis-Sarajevo. After that, there
3 were a number of transformations so that when the SPS became part of
4 Unis-Sarajevo, with several other companies, when it merged - they were
5 also companies which produced finished products for the Yugoslav People's
6 Army - another transformation took place in the Vitez locality. Two more
7 firms were established. They were called Vitezit, that was one, for the
8 production of explosives and fuses once again; and Sintevit, that was the
9 other one, which produced plastics, chemical products mostly. These three
10 firms coexisted until 1993.
11 In the meantime, let me just add, these firms from Vitez became
12 separate from Unis on the basis of a referendum. The circumstances and
13 reasons for this were different; they were of an economic and financial
14 nature - I don't want to tire you with that - because we felt, and many
15 felt within the frameworks of Unis, that resources were ebbing off to
16 Sarajevo, and the workers did not want to see their resources and funds
17 siphoned off to Sarajevo.
18 In view of the fact that the SPS, after the Washington Accords, or
19 after Dayton in fact, ceased to function because of the upsets that had
20 taken place on the market itself, it was only the explosives factory that
21 functioned. And it produces products today and is now called the
22 Vitezit. That's all that remains of those companies today. So that whole
23 locality, that whole area is called Vitezit.
24 That would briefly be the history of those companies.
25 Q. Thank you very much. Maybe I could ask you another few questions
1 to clarify certain points. You mentioned that there was a referendum, and
2 the decision taken at that referendum, on the basis of a workers' meeting
3 and workers' votes, you decided to step down from Unis. When was that?
4 A. I think that that was -- I can't tell you the exact date, but it
5 was quite certainly four or five years before the conflicts broke out. I
6 think that's how I would date it. I can't tell you the exact date,
8 Q. But at any rate, it was in the late 1980s; is that right?
9 A. Yes, that's right.
10 Q. Now, that decision, was it in keeping with the legal system of the
11 former Yugoslavia?
12 A. Yes, of course, because it expressed the will of the workers.
13 Q. Let me also explain for the purposes of the Trial Chamber once
14 more, the factory was what we used to call socially owned; is that
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. And the third point that I wanted to clarify in this connection,
18 is it true that in the vernacular, in the popular terms that the
19 inhabitants used, that locality, because of the factory, was called SPS or
20 Vitezit; is that right?
21 A. It was usually called SPS because SPS was the matrix firm, the
22 first company to be set up in 1950, so that's what they called it mostly.
23 Q. Thank you. And to round off that area, we have a map for you
24 which was -- that is to say, a map here was shown earlier on. Could you
25 tell us with respect to territory and surface area, the surface area that
1 the factory was over if you look at it -- the centre of Vitez. Is it a
2 large surface area, a smaller area?
3 A. Well, I think it is larger than the centre of town. It covers a
4 larger area.
5 Q. Over the last 20 years, Vitezit -- oh, I beg your pardon, let me
6 say the SPS supplied the largest number of jobs?
7 A. Yes, they had the largest number of employees.
8 Q. How many employees in the area were there when it was at its peak?
9 A. Between 2.000 and 3.000. 2.000 and 3.000; the numbers would
10 change but it was between 2.000 and 3.000.
11 Q. Thank you. What about the ethnic structure of the workers in that
13 A. The ethnic composition of the workers in the factory were similar
14 to the ethnic composition of the population of Vitez municipality itself,
15 and there are population census which will bear that out but I say that is
16 quite certainly the case.
17 Q. In 1992, was this ethnic composition upset in any way? Did any
18 group leave the area?
19 A. I think until the outbreak of the conflict in 1993, I would say
20 that everything was normal in the factory, although there were tensions
21 because tensions existed in Vitez municipality and they did especially in
22 Bosnia-Herzegovina, but production went on until the conflict broke out.
23 Q. The factory's leadership, management, did it assume any official
24 policy or position when the multiparty system started up and when people
25 came politicised, so to speak, when they took part in politics more? So
1 what about the political life of the environment?
2 A. Well, the factory's management assumed the position that politics
3 should have nothing to do with production and I think that, to a large
4 extent, this was realised in practice because the production of
5 nitroglycerin, for example, as I'm sure the Court knows, is one of the
6 most dangerous products to produce in the world. So they did not allow
7 politics to meddle in factory matters because it would be highly dangerous
8 and detrimental. This is borne out by the fact that under such difficult
9 conditions in the factory, we had no upsets, no dangerous situations,
10 accidents or anything of that kind which did happen 10, 15, 20 years ago.
11 There were a number of casualties in the factory.
12 Q. Mr. Bekavac, did you ever happen to hear or see the factory
13 management, in the course of 1992, give the workers an oath of loyalty to
14 sign to the HVO, anything of that kind, a paper of that kind?
15 A. No, I never saw that, nothing of that kind. It quite certainly
16 did not exist, at least not in the factory. I'm sure of that.
17 Q. Towards the end of 1992 and especially at the start of 1993, the
18 factory lost its markets; is that correct?
19 A. Well, the factory did lose its customary markets because Serbia,
20 for example, was a large market. But there were other markets, some other
21 markets in Bosnia-Herzegovina, for example. And those buyers, those
22 markets were -- looked like a tiger's skin. They were patchy.
23 Q. To the best of your recollections, could you tell us who your main
24 buyers were, your principal buyers were in 1992, the latter half of 1992
25 is what we're interested in mostly.
1 A. Well, and I'm talking about the war days, as the war had already
2 started in Bosnia-Herzegovina, our products went to markets where there
3 was transport, where transport enabled the products to be taken. And I
4 know that the goods, that is to say, the gunpowders, the explosives went
5 to Tuzla, Tesanj, Visoko, Bugojno, Hrasnica, Sarajevo, and so on. So
6 those are the localities which were under the control of the BH army and
7 Vitez for the purpose of Vitez's defence, so this was under army control.
8 Q. I'd like to show you a document now.
9 May the witness be shown a Kupreskic document which gives a
10 breakdown of the finished products of the factory.
11 Mr. Bekavac, the usher will show you a document. Will you please
12 look at it. I'm sure you won't know, be able to tell us the dates and the
13 quantities produced, but could you tell us roughly whether that represents
14 a cross-section of what the factory produced, to the best of your
16 THE REGISTRAR: This will be document D113/2.
17 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
18 Q. I should like to draw your attention, to save time, to column one,
19 the left-hand side where the locations are stated, and everything on the
20 right are specifications, that is to say, quantities, prices and so on.
21 Looking at the locations, and you mentioned some of them, were those the
22 places that the shipments went to in the period that this document says,
23 that is to say, from May to December?
24 A. Yes. Some of these places have been listed and I think this is
25 quite in order and quite correct.
1 Q. Am I going too fast? I'll slow down a bit. Thank you.
2 According to your recollection, when you look at these places, is
3 it true that these were the places -- that in these places, there were
4 various armies; the BH army in some of them and HVO in others?
5 A. Visoko, the army of B and H; Tomislavgrad and Vitez, HVO and the
6 BiH army; Novi Travnik also HVO and the BiH; then BiH, Travnik the same.
7 Tuzla, that was mostly the BH army. Bugojno also the BH army, HVO.
8 Konjic, the BH army; Zavidovici, the BH army.
9 Q. Very well.
10 A. Teslic is now in Republika Srpska now, as far as I know. I think
11 it is.
12 Q. Can we agree that you delivered goods to everyone who was able to
13 pay for them and organise the taking over of the goods?
14 A. That is correct. That was the biggest problem. Taking delivery
15 was an even bigger problem than payments, but these two things are
16 correct, yes.
17 Q. Thank you very much. We will come back to the ethnic composition
18 but let us now stick to questions of production. When, in fact, as far as
19 you remember, was there a considerable decrease in the amount of goods
21 A. Well, the capacity was considerably reduced at the beginning of
22 the Serbian aggression in Bosnia and Herzegovina because that was when the
23 roads leading to Serbia were cut off, and that was when there was a
24 decline which rapidly continued. And then, more or less, we had the
25 market of Bosnia and Herzegovina and in 1993 there was a market in Croatia
1 as well. But this was after the aggression, because most of the JNA was
2 on the side of Serbia.
3 Q. I understand from this that in 1993 you made some deliveries.
4 A. Yes, in 1993, some deliveries of smaller quantities of goods were
5 made, but there was a big problem of transport. Some small amounts were
6 delivered, I know because I worked in production, and to whom these goods
7 went exactly and in what quantities, that was the responsibility of the
8 commercial department. I didn't have much to do with that.
9 Q. Thank you very much. You told us what goods the factory
10 produced. Would you tell me whether there was a product that could be
11 described as a final product, for example, a shell either for a gun or
12 something else, something that could be used as it was?
13 A. No. SPS mostly produced gun powders which were then used -- I
14 would like to draw the Court's attention to this -- but the Court probably
15 knows this, gun powder is the fuel, the nucleus of every system, the core
16 of every system. This factory was the only one in the former Yugoslavia
17 and one of the better and more up-to-date plants producing this in the
18 Balkans, but this factory did not produce any final products. It only
19 produced half-finished products which were then built into products in
20 other military factories.
21 Q. Do you agree that on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina
22 within the former Yugoslav Federation, there was a technological chain,
23 there were a number of factories which produced different parts,
24 ammunition and the materiel, and together they produced something that was
25 a single whole?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. As someone who spent about 30 years in this business, could you
3 give us some examples of part of this chain, using your job for example.
4 A. Yes, more or less the entire military industry of the former
5 Yugoslavia, for strategic reasons, was in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We
6 needn't go into why this was so. But in order to complete a final
7 product, there were several factories.
8 As we said, the SPS produced gun powder, the metal parts were
9 produced in Pretis, Vogosce, those were shell casings, shells and so on.
10 The fuses were produced in Bugojno. Another part was produced in Pobjeda
11 Gorazde. Ammunition for rifles was produced in Konjic Igman, and
12 artillery pieces by Bratsvo Novi Travnik. And this was a whole chain
13 without which anyone could do anything, so the whole chain had to
14 participate in the completion of a final product.
15 Q. In the problems that started with greater intensity in 1992, as
16 you said, at that time, in agreement with the buyers, was anything done in
17 the SPS to make your product into a final product?
18 A. Yes. Because in the Vitez municipality there were no conflicts,
19 there was no hint of a conflict yet, through various channels particular
20 products, metal products and other auxiliary material, were brought into
21 Vitez where they were assembled and delivered both to the army of BH and
22 to the HVO.
23 Q. Thank you very much. To go back to the question of the ethnic
24 makeup of the work force in the plant, was the ethnic makeup of the
25 management of the company in the SPS location the same? In other words,
1 did it reflect the ethnic makeup of the population of the Vitez
3 A. Yes, that was certainly true, because as far as politics was
4 concerned, it was the League of Communists that held power until 1992/1993
5 and they would always intervene. They would not allow anything different
6 to happen, so this always happened, everything had to be correct.
7 Q. So it was both at the level of the work force and the management.
8 A. Yes, yes. But special attention was paid to the management
10 Q. Among your colleagues in the factory, did you have any friends
11 whom you associated with in your spare time?
12 A. Yes, of course. Of course. That was quite normal.
13 Q. Could you mention anyone who was a neighbour or a friend and also
14 a colleague in the factory?
15 A. One of the managers who also held political posts in the
16 municipality and was involved in all the economic -- all the business part
17 in the factory was Hasan --
18 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter didn't catch the last name.
19 A. -- and he was my next-door neighbour.
20 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
21 Q. Was he also a friend of yours?
22 A. Yes, he was a friend of mine. Before the war, we celebrated the
23 New Year in Dubrovnik for seven or eight years running.
24 Q. For the record, would you repeat the last name.
25 A. [redacted] He was a graduate in economics.
1 Q. Thank you. Now we can go on to other topics. Did you have a
2 holiday home, a holiday house?
3 A. Yes, I had a small house on the mountain of Zabrdze, overlooking
4 Vitez, some seven or eight kilometres away.
5 Q. Was it there on its own, or was it a small weekend settlement?
6 A. Well, it was a small settlement.
7 Q. Was there a hostel there for hikers?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. In 1992, did you continue going to your weekend house?
10 A. We did, but it was not so safe then so we went very rarely. We
11 did go in the beginning of 1992.
12 Q. During that year, was there looting? Were these weekend houses
13 broken into, devastated?
14 A. Yes, there was looting because it was uninhabited. Hardly anyone
15 lived there. It was just used for holidays and weekends. My weekend
16 house was broken into twice and quite a lot of valuable things were taken
18 Q. You, the owners of these houses, did you try to do something to
19 protect your property?
20 A. Yes. We would gather there on Saturdays and Sundays and we used
21 to discuss what should be done, because we regretted the situation. We
22 had worked very hard to build these houses. They were very modest
24 Then we heard of an idea, and at first we thought we could take
25 turns guarding it. We even employed some hunters and asked them to guard
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French
13 and English transcripts.
1 our property and we would pay them. But then we heard that the HVO staff
2 was looking through the municipality of Vitez for a place to train their
3 soldiers. Because those were local people, many of them had not yet done
4 their army service, so they needed training for defence against the
5 Serbian aggression, because there was already fighting on Mount Vlasic.
6 My son went there two or three times, below Mount Vlasic. And we
7 supported this idea. Later on, this was actually implemented.
8 Q. Why did you support this idea? What benefit did you see in it for
10 A. Well, the benefit we saw for ourselves was that our property would
11 be protected, and that's how it was. Because on one occasion, the
12 soldiers caught, in the vicinity of my weekend house, someone who was
13 trying to break into the next-door weekend house. It was a young man from
14 Kruscica. Then a police commission came and drew up a record, and I think
15 a criminal report was lodged against him. That was good for us, as far as
16 we were concerned, because there were Muslims and Croats and Serbs who had
17 weekend houses there.
18 But it was safer for us to go there then, it was quite safe then,
19 so I went up there a few times, and I saw that all that was going on there
20 was the training of soldiers.
21 Q. Thank you. Did you know from before the war a person called Marko
23 A. Of course. I was his boss.
24 Q. What was he by profession?
25 A. He completed school for a qualified worker in the chemical
1 industry; then I think he went to secondary school. He was a
2 pyrotechnician, that was his job. He was responsible for elaboration at
3 the test laboratory, at the pilot plant.
4 Q. Do you know whether he had any artillery training? Was he able to
5 use artillery weapons on his own, by himself?
6 A. No, no.
7 Q. When wartime production was organised, you were there in the
8 factory; is that correct?
9 A. Yes, that's correct.
10 Q. Who was then appointed the manager of the wartime production?
11 A. It was Marko Lujic, and it was the defence office of the Vitez
12 municipality, I think, that appointed him.
13 Q. Do you remember that later on during that summer the management of
14 the factory was taken over by the defence administration of the HVO for
15 the sake of regional interests? Is that correct?
16 A. Yes, I remember that very well. It's correct. Marko Lujic then
17 had a superior to whom he was responsible.
18 Q. But he remained at the factory.
19 A. Yes, yes. He was in charge of the wartime production, and the
20 other one was in charge of the broader region. I think it was Puljici, if
21 I remember rightly.
22 JUDGE MAY: Would you explain, Mr. Bekavac, what Marko Lujic did.
23 You describe him as a pyrotechnician, according to the translation we
24 have. I don't know what that is. Pyrotechnics means something to do with
25 fireworks, but no doubt that isn't what was meant. Can you tell us what
1 Mr. Lujic's job was in the factory, please.
2 A. Yes, Your Honour. We had in the company a testing polygon, a
3 place for testing our products. Gunpowder is a very sensitive material
4 and it must not leave the factory before it is tested, before it was
5 tested at our testing plant. That was a firing range.
6 To clarify this, at the firing range there are tables for tests
7 resembling those where pilots are trained on the ground. It's a kind of
8 booth where this is simulated, and we, by simulation, tested our
9 products. Because we were working with gunpowder, which is inflammable
10 and so on, and it is combustible and burns very fast, in the terminology
11 we used, the people handling gunpowder during testing - these are not
12 highly complex tasks - we used to refer to those people as
13 pyrotechnicians, because they were technicians and this material burns and
14 the effect resembles that of fireworks.
15 Marko Lujic started working as an ordinary worker doing the
16 simplest tasks, and in time he became a kind of shift leader responsible
17 for that job and he supervised others. That was what he did up until
18 1993. So he was responsible for a group of people working with him.
19 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
20 Q. Mr. Bekavac, do you know anything about what Lujic did in 1992 and
21 1993 outside the factory, perhaps?
22 A. Oh, you know, I don't really know such things. They were involved
23 in some purchases of materiel which they needed from Gorazde, the caps.
24 They were very difficult to get. And I'm afraid to really say something
25 wrong, so I'd rather not answer that.
1 MR. KOVACIC: Your Honours, I'm now ready to go on to another
2 subject, and since there are very sensitive issues for the witness, being
3 where he was living, I mean concerning the location, I would like to ask
4 for a closed session because the witness said that he would under no way
5 mention some units or persons in --
6 JUDGE MAY: Very well.
7 [Closed session]
13 Pages 24748 to 24753 redacted – closed session.
18 [Open session]
19 THE REGISTRAR: We are in open session.
20 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
21 Q. We're back in open session, Mr. Bekavac. If you need to mention
22 any other names, or anything that you do not want said in open session,
23 you can draw our attention to that. But I don't think we shall be getting
24 into areas like that now.
25 Is it true that your mother had partially moved to the [redacted]
1 houses? Why?
2 A. Well, I suggested she did that. But she's no longer alive. I
3 must say that she was a very courageous woman. She showed the first
4 initiative, she said, "I'm go to sleep at their house so that if anybody
5 were to come or anything would happen, I could protect them." She went to
6 our next-door neighbours and spent some time there. She was there at
7 night; she didn't stay during the day but she would sleep there at night.
8 And I think she contributed to their protection, largely.
9 Q. Who was she there to protect?
10 A. She was there to protect my neighbours, first and foremost, from
11 these extremist groups and individuals who were out of anybody's control.
12 Nobody controlled them. The people from Rijeka were looking after their
13 homes, they were between the ages of 30 and 70, and not a hair on their
14 head was harmed. But there were various groups going about.
15 I know that one of my neighbours had a food store, and as soon as
16 the war started, some several days later some people whom he didn't know
17 either turned up, some special units or something of that kind - everybody
18 would proclaim himself to be a unit - and they took off all his beer,
19 food, sausages, things like that.
20 Q. Thank you. Did [redacted] leave Rijeka at one point, and
21 when did that happen if he did?
22 A. Yes, that's true, and it's rather a touching episode. I must say
23 it was very honest of [redacted]. I think it was the middle of June,
24 he came to my front door and said, "Neighbour, I have decided to leave
25 with my family and go to Zenica." He said, "I'm going mostly because I
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French
13 and English transcripts.
1 can see that you too are in danger. They know that you're protecting me.
2 So I'm going because of you. Thank you for everything you've done for
3 me." I gave him 100 Deutschemarks, and I said, "Here, have some money
4 until you can find your way."
5 Q. Thank you. And now one final question for you. He returned to
6 his house after the war, didn't he?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. And he lives there today, does he?
9 A. Yes, he does.
10 Q. You mentioned your neighbour who had the food store, a retail
11 trade. Was that Mr. Vlado Baskarad?
12 A. Yes, that's the father, and his son was Anto Baskarad; that is to
13 say, he was the nominal owner, proprietor, but I don't know whether he was
14 still alive at that time.
15 Q. Well, let's make this clear for the Court. Was he a Croat,
16 ethnically speaking?
17 A. Yes, he was.
18 Q. Did you happen to meet Cerkez in Rijeka afterwards?
19 A. Yes, I met Cerkez a couple of times in Rijeka. He would come to
20 the forestry administration. After the conflict, a sort of command cadre
21 was being formed to set up the defence, and I think we met on several
22 occasions. Because my house and yard borders on the forestry compound.
23 Q. On these occasions, did Cerkez ask you to do anything special?
24 A. We would stand around, chatting. We knew each other; we had
25 worked in the factory. Our conduct was always proper, our relations were
1 always proper, and we knew each other from the factory. We would often
2 talk about the situation. He was worried too about what was happening, he
3 was surprised. Everything with respect to the Croatian side was more or
4 less unorganised. We were afraid for ourselves and our families.
5 On one occasion, and I remember it very well, we were standing at
6 the steps to the forestry administration building and he said, "Zvonko,
7 please, to avoid having any problems, you're a serious man, talk to some
8 people at Rijeka. And all the Muslims that have stayed on, try and
9 protect them. Don't allow some idiot to make problems."
10 This was a moral responsibility on my part and gave me moral
11 support. So that later on I talked to my mother and, via some other
12 friends of mine down there, I was able to protect the people who had
13 stayed on, right up until the middle of June. Some of them stayed on
14 longer; some of them stayed on permanently. So that none of those people
15 in my immediate vicinity were either killed or wounded.
16 Q. Mr. Bekavac --
17 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Bekavac, when are we talking about? When was this
18 conversation with Mr. Cerkez?
19 A. That conversation with Mr. Cerkez took place sometime between the
20 16th and 1st of May, that is to say, the 16th of May and the 1st of April,
21 in that fortnight when it was most critical.
22 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
23 Q. You seem to have misspoken somewhere.
24 A. I said the 16th of March. The 16th of March. Is it the 16th of
25 March? I think the conflict -- the 16th of April, I see. I misspoke.
1 I'm sorry. That's a slip of the tongue. Between the 16th of April and
2 the 1st of May, thereabouts; that is to say, the time when control had not
3 yet been established over all those matters, nothing had -- there was no
4 control. And I'm talking about the Rijeka area.
5 Q. So if I understood you correctly, you don't remember the actual
6 date but you do remember --
7 A. Well, I think it was the first 15 or 20 days. The first 15 or 20
8 days. I never remember dates. I'm not good at dates.
9 Q. Thank you. And now one final question. You said you knew Cerkez
10 and that you worked in the factory, that he lived close to you. As the
11 crow flies, how far from your house to Mario's house?
12 A. As the crow flies, from my house to Mario's house, about 200, 250
14 Q. Did you ever see him socially before?
15 A. Many times in the factory, and the nature of our work was such
16 that we would often cooperate. We cooperated frequently, and we were
17 frequently together. Mario was a mountaineer, he liked going
18 mountaineering, and we went to Zabrdze, to the mountaineering hut there.
19 We would see each other in mixed company, and we had a good time together
20 on these occasions.
21 Q. Let us just go back to one point, Mr. Bekavac. I'm not quite sure
22 whether that was clear enough. The discussion you had, the conversation
23 you had with Mario Cerkez that you recounted to us, could you tell us in
24 what capacity -- that is to say, what was the characteristic of that
25 communication? Did Mario address you as a commander, in his capacity as
1 commander, or was one man speaking to another, chatting to another?
2 A. I think that it was a man-to-man talk. Although he was a
3 commander, I don't differentiate, I don't make the difference between the
4 two. But what is important for me was that it was his desire to protect
5 people, and that was the most important thing.
6 Q. Thank you, Mr. Bekavac.
7 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] I have no further questions.
8 MR. SAYERS: No questions for this witness, Mr. President.
9 MR. NICE: I wonder if we can just deal with the factory first.
10 If I haven't asked the registrar to get out Z2160 or D88.2, can I put mine
11 on the ELMO to save time. Thank you
12 Cross-examined by Mr. Nice:
13 Q. This plan shows the factory, as we can see it there on the
14 left-hand side, and indeed as you've told us, the factory area is as big
15 as or larger than Vitez. Can you help us with this, please: Acid of one
16 kind or another would play a part in the manufacturing process.
17 A. Yes.
18 MR. KOVACIC: The witness is having a problem with his sight.
19 It's probably better to tell him that he can look directly on the ELMO.
20 MR. NICE: Yes, good idea.
21 Q. Back to the question. Acid of one kind or another plays a part in
22 the manufacturing process.
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. For example, at the midpoint of April 1993 there would be very
25 large reserves of acid in that factory.
1 A. There were, but I wouldn't say they were very large. I have no
2 information as to that. But I'm sure that there was some acid, yes.
3 Because that is not my field of expertise. That was the production of
4 nitroglycerin, and that was another area.
5 Q. When we're talking of reserves of acid, we're talking about tonnes
6 of acid.
7 A. Well, probably.
8 Q. And there would also be quantities of fuel as reserves or for
9 other purposes in the factory.
10 A. Well, there was a warehouse for transport and fuel reserves, but I
11 don't know how much of that existed. It's a large compound, and I really
12 can't tell you anything more. How much there was, I don't know.
13 Q. Very well. Are you able to help us, just very generally, by
14 pointing out where the acid reserves and where the fuel reserves were
15 located? If you use the pointer and point it out, we'll then describe
16 that in some way, if you can.
17 A. This is so minutely drawn that I find it difficult to find my way
18 round it; although I'm an expert in the factory layout, I know it well.
19 The acid plant was in the upper part of the factory, towards Mount
21 What's all this here? I can't quite make it out --
22 Q. If you're having trouble --
23 A. -- but it would be in this area here. That's it.
24 Q. Thank you. And the petroleum --
25 A. This is a very small scale. That was at the entrance to the
1 factory, the petroleum.
2 Q. Very well. So the acid store --
3 A. Round about here. The fuel was separate. The acid reserves and
4 the petroleum reserves were about a kilometre away, about 1.000 metres
5 from each other. They were at a distance.
6 Q. But the acid reserves, certainly, were down towards the end of the
7 factory complex, quite near to Donja Veceriska.
8 A. No, no, the upper part. The upper part of the complex, not the
9 lower part. Acid was in the upper part, towards Zabrdze. That's where it
10 was, next to the nitroglycerin part.
11 Q. Well, we've seen where he's marked it on the map. Thank you very
13 The second thing about the factory is this -- you want to add
14 something, do you?
15 A. I don't know. This map here, I don't know. The scale is very
16 small, too small. I'll tell you everything, I'll explain to you where it
17 was, and then you can check it out. But the scale of this map is too
18 minute for me to be able to show you properly. And it doesn't say
19 anything. For example --
20 JUDGE MAY: No. Now, unless anything really turns on this, I
21 think we've spent long enough on it.
22 MR. NICE: Yes, I agree.
23 JUDGE MAY: Yes. Let's move on.
24 MR. NICE:
25 Q. As to the factory, we've heard from another witness to the effect
1 that by the 15th of December of 1992 there was barely any work anymore at
2 the Vitezit factory, that it had stopped because of a shortage of raw
3 materials, and that 90 per cent of the workers had been sent home; would
4 you agree with that description?
5 A. I said that in 1992, that is, from the beginning of the Serbian
6 aggression, production rapidly fell. In 1992 there was a little
7 production but to a lesser extent. In 1993 the finished products, as I
8 said, as I told the lawyer, elements in different ways were withdrawn and
9 distributed according to the list that I was shown.
10 Q. You've spoken about whether Muslims were losing their jobs under
11 pressure because they were Muslims. This is a very large factory with
12 many areas within it. You're not in a position to speak for what happened
13 in every single part of that factory, are you?
14 A. I can't. But I can say that where -- I can tell you about where I
15 worked. It is a relatively small town, and as we say, everything is known
16 in a small town, that word travels fast. So it was not the practice, it
17 wasn't what you were describing.
18 Q. What do you say to the possibility that in one of the factories,
19 the Sintevit company, there was a requirement for people to, as it were,
20 sign up to the HVO and that they'd lose their jobs or be put on standby if
21 they did not?
22 A. I'm hearing this for the first time from you. For me that is
23 absurd. I did not hear of that happening. If that did happen, it was
24 incognito but officially, no, quite certainly, quite definitely but it's
25 absurd that anyone would sign anything like that.
1 MR. NICE: Perhaps we can just go briefly into private session
3 [Private session]
12 [Open session]
13 THE REGISTRAR: We're in open session.
14 MR. NICE: Thank you very much.
15 Q. To make sure I understand your evidence about the factory or the
16 factories, finished weapons were being produced within Vitez even if not
17 in a single factory; is that correct?
18 A. No. The finished products, I'm speaking in general, I'm not
19 speaking about 1993 and the end of 1992, the product that we produced went
20 to where it was finished, and the finishing took place, 90 per cent of the
21 cases, in Pretis, Vogosce; Krusik in Valjevo, Serbia.
22 MR. NICE: All right. Well, can the witness please see Exhibit
23 1220.2, and if we go first to the cover sheet on the ELMO and then to page
24 11, we'll have to try and find the matching passages in the B/C/S. If I
25 can have the B/C/S version, I'll find what I want, I think, quite
1 quickly. Sorry, this is proving to be rather more difficult than I
3 Q. If you'd look at the two pages particularly that the usher will
4 hand you, this is a document prepared in the defence office of Vitez in
5 September of 1993 described as an assessment of military, political,
6 economic and other conditions in wartime. It's a long document, but if
7 the English version is put on the ELMO now at page 11, you, Mr. Bekavac,
8 will find on the page you're looking at in the original, a list of things
9 which begins with 600. Do you find that, 600 rockets for multi-rocket
10 launchers? I think it's at the top of a page.
11 A. Just let me have a look at the date, please. Yes. Okay.
12 Q. Now, if you would be good enough to go to the previous page,
13 because in the original version, this covers two pages. If you go to one
14 page before and about three paragraphs up, you'll see this short paragraph
15 reading as follows in the English: "Wartime production was organised
16 before the conflict with Muslim forces. It was organised illegally
17 because of the presence of Muslim personnel in special purpose
19 Can you help us, please, to help us understand that paragraph that
20 it comes in this September 1993 report from the Vitez defence office. Why
21 was wartime production organised illegally because of the presence of
22 Muslim personnel in special purpose production?
23 A. I don't think this was true. This isn't correct. Especially if I
24 look at who composed this document. Real wartime production began from
25 the first days. That's what it says if you have the document. When I
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French
13 and English transcripts.
1 went up there to the war production plant to work with gunpowders, I was
2 given the task of organising wartime production and to find the people to
3 do this, who were capable of working in this field, so this is not
4 correct. So what goals and purposes this was drawn up for I really cannot
5 say but it's not right.
6 Q. The next couple of paragraphs, "Organised wartime production began
7 from the first days of the armed conflict with the Muslim armed forces and
8 was organised by the Vitez municipality defence office in accordance with
9 the directive from the Vitez HVO offices through appointed wartime
10 directors or representatives of the firms." Is that correct?
11 A. Wartime production was organised some time at the beginning of
12 May, and I'm talking about myself, wartime production. And the director
13 was at the head of this, and the others working with explosives and I,
14 myself, was in charge of the gunpowder production. So that did not take
15 place immediately after the conflict broke out. Perhaps you have a
16 document which says when I came to do wartime production. And without me,
17 you couldn't organise production.
18 Q. Two more questions, one on this document and one outside it, if
19 that would be convenient before the break. I would hope to finish before
20 the break, but I've just got a few too many questions. If we jump over
21 one paragraph, please, and move to the paragraph that begins with the
22 figures, Mr. Bekavac, we see that it's said that with the production of
23 material and technical supplies well organised, the following was
24 manufactured under the most difficult conditions in two months of
25 production. It sets out 600 rockets, 5.000 shells, and we can see the
1 rest of the figures, including 3.000 kilograms of gunpowder produced for
2 the Republic of Croatia, 1.000 kilograms of gunpowder produced for local
4 Is this description of the war effort correct?
5 A. When you use the term "wartime conditions", you know, war was all
6 over. There was war going on all over. The BH army was getting ready.
7 The other person was getting ready. There were war conditions and
8 difficult war conditions of war all over the place. And when you speak
9 about these figures, it doesn't say that they were produced. It says they
10 were completed, which means that the metal parts arrived via the
11 mountains, caps came from Gorazde, and they were loaded up onto horses and
12 so on. Because Vitez, at that time, was still conditionally speaking free
13 and this kind of production could be organised. So it just says
14 "completed." It doesn't say "produced," it says "completed" the elements
15 which arrived from roundabout routes from other factories. So that was
16 not actual production.
17 Q. But is it right that you were producing at such a rate that you
18 could produce 3.000 kilograms of gunpowder to be sent to the Republic of
19 Croatia? You were in charge. Please help us.
20 A. It was produced. Now, whether it went to Croatia at this point in
21 time, I can't say. I don't know where it went. I can't say. That was up
22 to the commercial department. But when you're talking about 3.000
23 kilograms, do you know that you can produce that amount in Vitez in a
24 single day? We had enormous capacities; we could do one and a half
25 thousand tonnes of gunpowder per year.
1 JUDGE MAY: We'll adjourn now for half an hour.
2 Mr. Bekavac, please don't speak to anybody about your evidence
3 until it's over. Could you be back in half an hour's time, that will be
4 at twenty-five to twelve.
5 --- Recess taken at 11.05 a.m.
6 --- On resuming at 11.35 a.m.
7 JUDGE MAY: Yes.
8 MR. NICE:
9 Q. From the document we've just been considering, is it clear that
10 the municipal defence office were making the decisions about what should
11 happen with the product of your factories?
12 A. I don't know that. I was working in manufacturing, and I received
13 direct orders from the factory management. I was not a politician so I
14 wouldn't know that.
15 Q. Do you know enough about the process of distribution and at least
16 delivery of materials to know that in Vitez, and you've told us what a
17 small town it is, staff went from the -- the materials went from the
18 factory and they would have been eventually in the hands of the brigade,
19 the Viteska Brigade?
20 A. Well, as I say, I was involved in manufacturing. The job of who
21 was to get the finished products was not my job. I do, however, know, and
22 I did see people with insignia because there were signs according to
23 towns, and I saw vehicles in front of the management building, when I went
24 there, with Tuzla licence plates, Sarajevo, Bugojno, Konjic. I've already
25 listed all those, and there were licence plates from there.
1 Q. The last point on this topic for your assistance, please, is
2 this: Gunpowder, the extremely sensitive material it is, and valuable in
3 time of war, was no doubt kept on terms of considerable security; correct?
4 A. There was the usual security in the factory, in the plant. As for
5 the depot, there was the factory security which took the usual security
6 measures which were always normal, and it was kept under lock and key.
7 Q. So that if somebody wanted 250 kilograms of gunpowder, they'd have
8 to be an accredited purchaser and they'd have to get it in a regular way?
9 A. Well, yes, yes. That's self-evident.
10 Q. And certainly one of the people to whom you were supplying, and
11 for whom you were working, was the municipal defence office.
12 A. I did not deliver materials to anyone. I was only involved in
13 manufacturing. There was a commercial department in our factory.
14 Everybody's duty was very clear. It was my duty to be in manufacturing.
15 At that time, if I learned something else, that was my own private
17 Q. Did you learn where the gunpowder for the Vitez truck bomb came
19 A. No.
20 Q. We've heard --
21 A. Absolutely not. I don't know that. I think it was not
22 gunpowder. I think perhaps it was explosive, perhaps.
23 Q. We've heard of this truck bomb and how in reality it was an act of
24 terrorism. You must have been alarmed to know that some explosive
25 substance was available for such an act in your town, weren't you?
1 A. I heard the explosion. Of course how they came to obtain the
2 explosive substance, well, there was a state of war so to say, and there
3 were extremists walking about who were not controlled by anyone. So it is
4 not surprising if someone somehow managed to get hold of that substance
5 because, at that moment, everyone was only concerned with staying alive.
6 MR. NICE: I'm not going to debate that further. Can the witness
7 please see 544.2, a new exhibit. Just a few documents about weapons and a
8 few other topics.
9 MR. KOVACIC: Your Honour, if I may, just a technical matter.
10 Your Honour, I'm not sure that we have received earlier a document
11 discussed until now, 1220, the report on the war production.
12 MR. NICE: I'm sure we have because I remember discussing it with
13 another witness. It was one of the outstanding exhibits, and it was
14 produced on an earlier occasion and I'll be able to give detail of when in
15 a minute.
16 JUDGE MAY: That can be dealt with later.
17 MR. KOVACIC: It may be that it is under a different number.
18 MR. NICE: I'll check for Mr. Kovacic, of course.
19 Q. This document, Mr. Bekavac, is dated the 15th of March so it's
20 before the major conflict broke out. It's from the same author, Marijan
21 Skopljak, as of the last report, and we can see that it goes to the
22 command of Central Bosnia Operative Zone but also to the SPS and to one
23 other enterprise. It's a request for a written report on the
24 implementation and delivery and distribution of strategic products of
25 special importance for the defence. Just help us, is that phrase,
1 "strategic products of special importance for defence" the normal way in
2 which weapons are described?
3 A. Well, sometimes it is food that is most important, although it's a
4 usual thing. But for our products, they were always described as
5 strategic products.
6 Q. That's fine. But what we do see, it says this: "Pursuant to the
7 conclusion of the /?HVO - Croatian Defence Council/ administration of
8 Vitez, we URGENTLY request that you send us a written report on the
9 implementation of all delivery and distribution of strategic products of
10 special importance for defence between 5 March 1993 and 15 March 1993. We
11 also request you tell us who gave permission for which buyer, which item
12 and what quantity ..."
13 Doesn't this reflect quite simply that completed objects of
14 strategic importance, products of strategic importance, were being
15 provided by the SPS factory in March of 1993?
16 A. We have said that, and it's in the survey, that certain products
17 up to the beginning of 1993, that they were delivered to individual
18 buyers. They were delivered.
19 The question is not sufficiently clear to me. I don't know what
20 you are getting at with this question.
21 Q. These are documents that you can interpret better for us than we
22 can for you, and that's why I'm seeking your help. You've been seeking to
23 say to some degree, I thought, that you only provided bits and pieces for
24 final weapons. I'm suggesting to you that this document shows quite
25 clearly that there was widespread and substantial distribution of
1 completed weapons for the HVO in March of 1993, before the conflict broke
2 out. Am I correct?
3 A. No, you are not correct. It has to be said that this was a
4 chemical plant in Vitez. We did not have the kind of machinery and
5 equipment like Novi Travnik, Bratstvo, for example, or Pretis, Vogosce to
6 be able to produce and distribute these. We have said this in different
7 ways. It was assembled, these things were assembled here; although we did
8 not have sufficient professional staff, so it was done by amateurs. But
9 these things were assembled.
10 Q. They were assembled on that same site, the SPS site; have I
11 understood that correctly?
12 A. Yes, yes.
13 Q. Thank you.
14 A. It's evident in the survey presented by the defence.
15 Q. Thank you. Very briefly, 1166.2, please, which is an existing
16 exhibit. This is later in the year, Mr. Bekavac; this is the 16th of
17 August. This is a document that goes from the Croatian Defence Council,
18 Travnik defence administration. It's a request for materiel and technical
19 equipment, and it sends the specifications of what was needed in terms of
20 bullets, machine-guns, and so on.
21 Now, is that the sort of materiel that was being assembled, in
22 whatever amateur fashion, in your factory, please?
23 A. It doesn't mean what you say it means. This is a request at a
24 higher level. But nothing was assembled because bullets are finished.
25 These are rifle bullets. It has nothing to do with assembly, this
1 document here.
2 Q. Very well, Mr. Bekavac. Well, you're here, you see, as the
3 witness who knows all about the factory and factories and that's why I'm
4 seeking your help, so please be patient with me.
5 On what part of Vitez factory territory, if any, would bullets,
6 rifles, and machine-guns be either made or completed?
7 A. Well, first of all, I don't know everything about the factory, I
8 wish I did, because it was a very large compound. There was the plastics
9 department, the explosives department. And things were not completed, the
10 things you mentioned were not completed in the factory. A rifle is a
11 rifle. Where they kept rifles, I don't know. A rifle is a finished
12 product, so is a bullet.
13 Q. Just this: On this document it says at the end: "After
14 procurement, make materiel available to the Logistics Department of the
15 Command of the Central Bosnia Operative Zone and by no means to individual
16 brigades or municipalities ..."
17 When you were producing gunpowder, in thinking back, was the same
18 approach to distribution taken with your materiels?
19 A. A distinction should be drawn between before the outbreak of the
20 conflict and after. Before the outbreak of the conflict, it was
21 distributed, and there are surveys, it was distributed to everyone all
22 over Bosnia-Herzegovina. After the conflict broke out, we were part of
23 the war effort and we were struggling to defend ourselves and survive in
24 that area.
25 Q. Yes. I'm not sure that's an answer to the question. If you can't
1 answer the question, I'll move on. But I'll just give you one quick
2 chance. Does this approach to distribution via the logistics department
3 of the Central Bosnia Operative Zone, does that, in your recollection,
4 match the distribution of your gunpowder?
5 A. I produced gunpowder and we handed it over to the warehouse.
6 There were other people who were in charge of distributing it. And to
7 whom it was delivered after the outbreak of the conflict, I don't know.
8 Of course, we would not have sent it to the army of BH. It would have
9 come back to us like a boomerang.
10 Q. Do you know why documents of procurement of this kind were sent to
11 the office of Mr. Kordic, as this one was?
12 A. I don't know. That's politics at a higher level.
13 Q. Well --
14 A. But everywhere politicians are aware of certain documents, and
15 someone sent this. Perhaps Mr. Kordic asked for it but I can only assume
16 that [as interpreted].
17 Q. A quick look, please, at 1419.2, which I think relates to the --
18 it doesn't relate to, it fleshes out -- sorry, 1419.1, my mistake. I
19 produce it having in mind the blank forms and documents of D113/2 this
21 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I apologise. I have
22 no objection. I just want to make a correction to the record. I think
23 it's important. On page 41, line 5, the witness said: "Perhaps
24 Mr. Kordic did not ask for it," at least that's what I think. The witness
25 can say whether that's what he said.
1 A. Yes, yes, the word "not" is not on the record. That's my
3 JUDGE MAY: Sorry, I don't understand the sense of this.
4 "Everywhere politicians are aware of certain documents, and someone sent
5 this." This is the answer on the transcript. "Perhaps Mr. Kordic asked
6 for it but I can only assume that." Now, then, Mr. Bekavac, is that what
7 you said? What did you say?
8 A. The beginning is all right, and then I said I assume he did not
9 ask for it because it was the custom for politicians, it was the custom
10 from the old system that everything is sent to politicians so they would
11 know about everything. But that's just my assumption.
12 JUDGE MAY: That's just meaningless. That's a perfectly
13 meaningless statement. "Everywhere politicians are aware of certain
14 documents and someone sent this. Perhaps Mr. Kordic asked for it, but I
15 can only assume that."
16 Now, that is an answer which actually makes sense. To say,
17 "Perhaps Mr. Kordic didn't ask for it," doesn't make sense. Are you sure
18 that's what you said originally?
19 A. I said that for the simple reason that I personally do not know
20 Mr. Kordic at all, but I know that he was a politician in Central Bosnia
21 and that very often he was on television and so on. And I said that I
22 assume because the Defence counsel asked me whether I knew that Mr. Kordic
23 had got this. And I said I don't know, maybe someone sent it to him
24 without him asking for it, perhaps, but I can only assume that. I don't
25 know that.
1 [Trial Chamber confers]
2 JUDGE MAY: Very well.
3 MR. NICE: Exhibit 1419.1.
4 Q. This is a document dated the 24th of April of 1994 from the
5 Travnik defence administration, but it goes to Puljic and it relates to
6 wartime production in the period August 1993 to May 1994. If we turn over
7 the page, for example, to items 30 and onwards, 30 to 38, it sets out
8 details of gunpowder production in kilograms and by gunpowder type. Does
9 this seem to you to relate to the production in which you were engaged in
10 that period?
11 A. It says here "gunpowder." I did take part. Whether these are the
12 exact quantities, I cannot say now.
13 Q. Does it look about right to you or not?
14 A. I can't say with any certainty because it was eight years ago, so
15 I don't remember. I don't know.
16 Q. But did you --
17 A. I can't say with certainty.
18 Q. Did you have to provide weekly production reports, and did they go
19 to the defence administration? That's what it says at the bottom, that
20 there were weekly production reports, and we can see the heading of the
21 document. Were you reporting to the defence administration on a weekly
23 A. I'm talking about the wartime production. After the outbreak of
24 the conflict, I sent reports on production to my immediate superior, the
25 director, who was above me, my superior, and he contacted the
1 administration for wartime production.
2 Q. Last document -- sorry.
3 A. May I just add something, Your Honours?
4 JUDGE MAY: Yes.
5 A. These quantities, we often produced not according to the actual
6 needs, but it was kept in the warehouse. So this is not a reflection of
7 the amounts of final products. These are quantities of how much -- from
8 these quantities, hundreds of thousands of bullets could have been made,
9 thousands and thousands, and because there are some bullets which require
10 very little gunpowder in them, five, six, ten, or twenty grams.
11 Q. Thank you. A very brief look at 1246.1 and then we're done with
12 documents, I think. This is an existing document. We needn't look at all
13 of it. It's dated the 13th of October. It comes from the Vitez command.
14 It's signed by Mario Cerkez and the heading, the first paragraph under the
15 word Warning says: "On the basis of work today in the SPS enterprise, it
16 is clear that the level of production sometimes slumps and is sometimes
17 stable." It sets out difficulties and, in paragraph five, if you just
18 move it up a touch, a little bit further please, thank you very much. It
19 says, "We warn you that you must put an end to personal conflicts and
20 disagreements. This will get us nowhere. Save this for some other time
21 and allow material and human potential to be used in production at the
23 Do you remember Mr. Cerkez taking this degree of direct
24 involvement in the affairs of the SPS?
25 A. This is just a warning. I don't read this as his direct
1 intervention, because the date here cannot mean that it concerns only the
2 Vitez Brigade. Item five, perhaps it says, "Forget about personal
3 conflicts and disagreements." To me it looks like trying to calm the
4 situation. The production had really declined, and -- but all the output
5 at that time was envisaged for everybody, and part of it went to the BH
6 army. From the date, we can see that it was still so early in January
8 Q. Mr. Bekavac, I was going to pass from this document, but your
9 answer raises this issue. Although I had identified this document as
10 coming from the Vitez command, I had said nothing whatsoever about its
11 significance for the Vitez Brigade. I simply asked about Mr. Cerkez. Why
12 did you tell us voluntarily in your answer, please, that it cannot mean
13 that it concerns only the Vitez Brigade? Why did you tell us that,
15 A. I said it because -- well, I saw Mario Cerkez's signature. And
16 your question implied that he had asked for it only for the Vitez
17 Brigade. No. It's a warning that one needs to manufacture and work for
18 Bosnia-Herzegovina as a whole. That is both for the BH army and the HVO.
19 That is why I said that.
20 Q. Now, my question again was whether he got involved in the affairs
21 of your factory to this degree. And you see references to women engaged
22 in the production process, sheet metal --
23 A. No.
24 Q. Well, then, how come he's writing this document? This is
25 Mr. Cerkez's signature; how come he's writing this document? Can you
1 explain it, please?
2 A. You know what, this is the first time I see this document and I
3 don't know who wrote it, but I see nothing bad here. The war was raging
4 around us already and Serbs were to come down from Vlasic and enter Vitez
5 any minute. Could I remove my family from there, I would have removed
6 them from Vitez. I don't know. But I'm telling you, it was -- there was
7 a general wartime atmosphere between the BH army and the HVO -- no, there
8 were some tensions, but we were expecting an exodus.
9 Q. You're off the question, Mr. Bekavac. It's a very simple
10 question. If the answer is you don't know how he wrote this document,
11 just say so and we'll move on. Do you know why he came to write this
13 A. I've already answered it.
14 Q. Thank you.
15 A. I don't know. The first time I see it.
16 Q. Your holiday house in the few kilometres outside Vitez, you did
17 not hand your house over to the troops for them to use, did you?
18 A. We placed it at the disposal, but my cottage was not used but,
19 regrettably, it was burned down by the Muslims.
20 Q. It wasn't used by the soldiers in their training?
21 A. Soldiers, well, we turned over the keys. I don't think they used
22 mine. They did use some others and they did use the mountaineer's lodge.
23 Q. Marko Lujic. You don't know what he was doing on the 16th of
24 April because you were in your basement.
25 A. That's correct.
1 Q. When you came out of your basement, you found that your Muslim
2 neighbours had been interned. Why had they been interned?
3 A. I did not establish that straight away. It was only later, around
4 12.00, that I heard that. To my mind, they were interned or taken in
5 correctly, that is what I learned from my neighbour, [redacted], to
6 protect them in the first place. And once the conflict broke out --
7 Q. Protect them from whom, please? Who was likely to attack them?
8 A. I said in Vitez there were a large number of groups uncontrolled
9 who did as they pleased, and were hardly controlled by anyone. It was
10 very easy to come by weapons at the time.
11 Q. I'm going to come to those in a minute. Just so I can follow the
12 logic of your answer, you are telling us, are you, that these Muslims were
13 all imprisoned or interned to protect them from these other groups.
14 That's your evidence, is it?
15 A. Yes. First and foremost, yes.
16 Q. And where is your evidence for that, please? I mean, where did
17 you get that idea or was it just an idea?
18 A. That's my idea. But the practice showed also that even before the
19 conflict, there were all sorts of groups. There were robberies, plunders,
20 and so on.
21 Q. And whose decision was it to intern these Muslims so they could be
22 saved from the Herzegovinians?
23 A. It wasn't Herzegovinians at the time. They were not there. The
24 Herzegovinians were there before the conflict, as far as I know.
25 Q. Which were the groups from whom they had to be protected on the
1 16th of April, then, so that we can understand it? Give us the names of
2 the groups.
3 A. I wouldn't know the exact names. But there were all sorts of
4 groups which were not registered anywhere, which were armed and which
5 stayed behind after the retreat of Croats from the area of Jajce and other
6 municipalities up there. I did not know them. But there were quite a lot
7 of weapons around and it was very dangerous.
8 Q. Well, it had been dangerous for some time in your area. Were the
9 Muslims given the choice of this protection? Were they told, "Well, we'll
10 take you into custody if you'd like to be protected from these other
11 groups. But of course because you're people of full age, you're entitled
12 to stay at home if you wish"? Were they told that, or were they just
14 A. I don't know what they were told. But the situation before the
15 conflict was not like that. The Muslims were rather safe. "Rather," I
16 say. Pretty safe. I won't say that there were not some excesses; I mean,
17 they keep occurring here and there. But when that situation happened,
18 someone - and I don't know who - might have decided to put them up there
19 because there, they were safe. As I said today, in that shelter, in that
20 room, nobody missed a hair from his head.
21 Q. Mr. Bekavac, your account is, and you know it, absolute nonsense.
22 This was the last stages in the takeover, and it coincided with an attack
23 on the Muslims by the Croats of Vitez; that's correct, isn't it? It's as
24 simple as that.
25 A. No. That's what you say, but that is not so.
1 Q. Tell me, then, this: Was it Darko Kraljevic and the Vitezovi who
2 imprisoned the --
3 MR. KOVACIC: I would kindly ask for a closed session on that
4 question; the witness otherwise cannot answer.
5 MR. NICE: Very well.
6 THE REGISTRAR: We are in closed session.
7 [Closed session]
13 Page 24784 redacted – closed session.
20 [Open session]
21 MR. NICE:
22 Q. The last question is this: What about the threats that were made
23 to blow up the SPS factory if the Muslims proceeded with their advance on
24 Vitez? Do you remember anything about that, please?
25 A. Well, I remember it. You could read it in the press, I think.
1 Q. These were --
2 A. No, not our press, because we did not have it at the time. But
3 the Croatian press and the TV and some foreign newspapers.
4 Q. Let there be no doubt about it. These were serious threats,
5 weren't they, to blow up that factory, or was it all just propaganda? It
6 was your factory; you should know.
7 A. No, no, no. It was a desperate attempt to save people who had
8 spent a year in a complete encirclement in a ghetto.
9 MR. NICE: That's all. Thank you.
10 MR. KOVACIC: Thank you, Your Honour. I'll be quite short.
11 Re-examined by Mr. Kovacic:
12 Q. [Interpretation] Witness Bekavac, perhaps just one question to
13 support some of your theses that you explained to us. You mentioned those
14 uncontrolled groups of individuals or soldiers. Tell us one thing,
15 please: Is it true that your own brother was abducted by one such group?
16 A. I am very happy, because we met only once and you never raised
17 this, but I'm very happy that I am able to give this answer to the
18 Honourable Court.
19 On the eve of the conflict, at the time of the village guards, my
20 brother was below my house on his guard duty at 9.30, and Muslims from the
21 village of Vranjska came up, or rather to be more precise, from the hamlet
22 of Pezici. They captured my brother, took him up there. He spent two
23 days up there. They beat him; he was battered very badly. The hamlet of
24 Pezici is very high; it's between Busovaca and Vitez. They were given
25 samples of cigarettes or food or something to take up the hill, and they
1 kept firing bullets at their feet or, rather, next to their feet, to
2 frighten them. He almost died of fear on the road.
3 After that, the whole of Rijeka, practically the whole of Vitez,
4 rose, requesting that he be released. When they realised that they had
5 all risen in protest and that that did not bode well, then they released
6 him. He was badly bruised. And I remember that his return was also taped
7 on a private TV camera.
8 Q. You said that the whole place rose up in protest. Was your
9 brother a well-known person in the place?
10 A. Yes, he was a well-known athlete, and he also taught at school.
11 Once upon a time he was Bosnia-Herzegovina's table tennis champion, so
12 that he was a well-known figure there.
13 Q. Very well. Thank you. A question about the Sintevit and attempts
14 to represent things in a different light.
15 In the beginning, the Prosecutor asked you if those statements
16 which you say were not signed in your part of the company were perhaps
17 signed at the Sintevit. Tell us, do you remember, who was the Sintevit
18 manager at that time, in those months immediately preceding the conflict,
19 in 1992, beginning of 1993?
20 A. 1993, I can't really remember.
21 Q. But if I mentioned the name of Alija Basic, would that ring a
23 A. Oh, yes, yes, Alija Basic from Travnik. Yes, you're quite right.
24 An engineer, an applied chemist. Yes, he was from Travnik; he lived in
1 Q. Do you know, what was he by ethnicity?
2 A. A Muslim.
3 Q. Thank you.
4 A. And I mean an orthodox Muslim.
5 Q. Do you think that he was firing Muslims in order to secure his
7 A. Well, that cannot be excluded. But he was very close with the
8 SDA. As far as I know, he was highly involved in politics at the time so
9 that --
10 Q. And he nevertheless remained in the Vitezit all the time.
11 A. Oh, yes.
12 Q. No, I'm sorry. In the Sintevit.
13 A. Yes, yes, at the Sintevit.
14 Q. A lot was said here about the report about the wartime production;
15 I think it is Z1220.2. Just one detail. I believe the rest is clear.
16 You said that you joined the wartime -- that you started wartime
17 production sometime in early May 1993. When you came to the factory one
18 of those days, was Marko Lujic's team already there? Were he and his team
19 already there?
20 A. As far as I know, yes, they were already there. Now, what their
21 task was. But all it came down to was the preparation of the production.
22 Q. Thank you. The term "wartime conditions" was interpreted in a
23 different manner. So let me ask you this: Do you remember when was there
24 an attempt to bomb it, and when did the Yugoslav People's Army try to
25 overfly the place in 1992? Could you tell us, roughly?
1 A. I think it was -- I believe -- I think it was 1993. It wasn't
2 wintertime so it must have been summer. Spring/summer perhaps, very
3 roughly. I wouldn't know the date. I can't be more specific than that.
4 But I know that it was not wintertime, because I remember that I was in
5 front of my house at the time. That is how I know.
6 Q. But are you quite sure that it was one year before the
7 Muslim-Croat conflict?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Since then was it that the wartime production conditions were
10 introduced in the plant?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. And those wartime production --
13 A. Well, yes, they were introduced one by one. One cannot say that
14 the wartime production started straight away. But the situation, the
15 circumstances, simply necessitated the gradual transition to wartime
16 production. The term "wartime production" is used, but actually what it
17 means is just slightly stricter control, and so on. But roughly that is
18 how it was.
19 Q. Just to clarify the term once and for all. In early 1993, that
20 is, a couple of months before the conflict between the BH army and the
21 HVO, the production conditions, were they perceived as normal or as
22 special conditions, perhaps even wartime conditions?
23 A. As for the production itself, it is always the same, but there are
24 stricter measures of safety, of precaution, that is, the production
25 unfolded normally but the circumstances told us that we needed to be more
1 cautious, so there were more guards around the plant and so on. This is
2 such a sensitive, such a vulnerable factory that, you know, with a very
3 slight effort, one can cause a proper disaster.
4 Q. Yes, we understand that. Thank you. When you looked at those
5 reports about the amounts of quantities of various products put out, you
6 mentioned the figure and I should like to ask you about it something. Can
7 you tell us, under normal production conditions, for instance, in earlier
8 years, in the '80s, what was the annual output of gunpowder?
9 A. The factory could put out almost one and a half thousand tonnes
10 per day.
11 Q. Per day you mean or per year?
12 A. No, per year. I said 1.5 thousand tonnes per annum.
13 Q. Very well. And under wartime conditions, do you think that they
14 could put out the same quantity?
15 A. Oh, no, absolutely not, absolutely not.
16 Q. I think there was a misunderstanding between you and the -- my
17 learned friend. Let us try to clarify that point. You told us in the
18 beginning of your testimony today that the plant management pursued the
19 policy which you called the policy, that is, political parties, political
20 relations between people would never cross the threshold of the plant.
21 However, after the 16th of April, 1993, when the conflict broke out, the
22 plant was not run by its earlier management, was it?
23 A. Yes, that is correct.
24 Q. And you told us in your testimony that then the wartime production
25 was organised by the municipal HVO defence office, and subsequently the
1 administration; is that correct?
2 A. Yes, it is.
3 Q. So it was no longer the management and the company was no longer
4 independent; is that correct?
5 A. Yes, it is.
6 Q. Thank you. And from those same reports, in one of those
7 documents, you saw mentioned bullets, rifles, and so on and so forth.
8 Will you please answer only yes or no, but did anyone ever, at the SPS, at
9 that place, make a single rifle?
10 A. No, that was impossible.
11 Q. Anywhere, any time, did anyone make a single other piece of
12 weapon, a mortar or anything like that at that place at that time?
13 A. No - you can be a hand-held thrower [as interpreted] or whatever.
14 That is impossible.
15 Q. What about bullets?
16 A. No, that is impossible.
17 Q. Mr. Bekavac, is it right that the weapons that you manufactured
18 during the war, that is in the latter half of 1993, meant different
19 devices, different mines which were designed there at that time and
20 hitherto unknown as a military product?
21 A. Absolutely true. We used the railway carriage axles to make
22 mines. We simply had to do it. We were encircled, and we had to defend
23 ourselves so that we used railway carriage axles which are made of very
24 high-grade steel. That is what we used on our lathes, our workers
25 improvised it all.
1 Q. So the key word was "improvisation," wasn't it, Mr. Bekavac?
2 A. Oh, yes.
3 Q. Mr. Bekavac, just one more thing. One of these documents that was
4 shown you, Z1419.1, since this was shown you, I may as well ask. We have
5 the head of the service for planning and monitoring, Filip Filipovic. We
6 have his signature on the left-hand side. Is it a common procedure that
7 these services submit such reports on the quantities manufactured and so
9 A. Yes. Yes, it is.
10 Q. And this Filip Filipovic, is that that soldier, that HVO colonel?
11 Wasn't he regional commander? Is that him? Is that him or somebody else?
12 A. I think that's him.
13 Q. Military.
14 A. Yes, the military. Filip Filipovic.
15 Q. And the other one is an engineer.
16 A. No, no. This one is engineer.
17 Q. No, it says Filip Filipovic?
18 A. No. No. That's not the one. That's not the man from the army.
19 No, this was the planning and analytical department. Yes, he is an
20 engineer, and he was the head of the department for planning and analysis
21 for materiel. You got me confused because I knew that that colonel, at
22 that time, was quite a well-known figure.
23 Q. That's why I'm asking you.
24 A. Yes, that was just a slip.
25 Q. And on the right-hand side, there was a signature, I don't know if
1 you saw it.
2 A. I never even read that page. Could you please show it to me or
3 will you read it to me?
4 Q. Well, then I'll ask you. Will you agree with me -- yes, now you
5 are being shown the document. Will you agree with me that at that time,
6 the signature that figures on the right-hand side comes from a man who did
7 hold that post, head of the wartime production sector. Look at the date
8 of the document, please.
9 A. 26th of April, 1994, yes, yes. 26th of April, yes, that is
11 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] I have no further questions. Thank
13 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Bekavac, thank you for coming to the Tribunal to
14 give your evidence. It is now concluded. You are free to go.
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours.
16 [The witness withdrew]
17 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Kovacic, it may be that we could use a few minutes
18 usefully considering the rest of your case. I have now your list of
19 witnesses dated the 12th of September for next week. I notice that you
20 listed 11, but one of them has already given evidence so we're down to
21 10. Now, have you some replacements?
22 MR. KOVACIC: Yes, Your Honour, we noticed that error I think day
23 before yesterday. And partially out of that at least a group which is
24 coming. Indeed a group is coming this evening, about half of them, and on
25 Tuesday next week about other half and we are, of course, adding two
1 persons more.
2 JUDGE MAY: Very well. That will be 12 witnesses next week.
3 MR. KOVACIC: Hopefully, Your Honour.
4 JUDGE MAY: I have also in front of me your list of the 31st of
5 August which lists a total of 66 witnesses.
6 MR. KOVACIC: Correct.
7 JUDGE MAY: There are, according to the schedule which we have
8 provided, 22 days left for your case. Now, are you in a position to
9 update us about the number of witnesses you propose to call? We notice,
10 in particular, that you have only provided two affidavits to date. It
11 would seem that a number of these witnesses who are being called at the
12 moment would be appropriate candidates for affidavit evidence, and it may
13 be that you should be looking at that rather than bringing them here to
14 give evidence live.
15 Now, can you update us on the position?
16 MR. KOVACIC: Certainly. First of all, I would like to tell you
17 that we are scheduling a meeting this afternoon of our team to reconsider
18 and analyse how we did so far and what is else absolutely needed for
19 remaining time, or maybe just as to keep it on the list as contingency,
20 shall I say.
21 However, I may now just briefly tell you what is our impression,
22 but if you want, I can brief you on that status in detail on Monday, I
23 guess, is our first trial day.
24 JUDGE MAY: What can you tell us about the affidavits?
25 MR. KOVACIC: Generally two things. First, the affidavits. We
1 were working on that a lot, but the problem is basically, Your Honour,
2 that we do not have, at least as a general rule, two persons talking about
3 the same event except some circumstances which are more or less of general
4 knowledge, should I say.
5 So if we bring one on the particular event, we don't think we need
6 a second witness on the same event. We may add or not add affidavit, but
7 that will not change the time, I mean the progress of the witnesses. We
8 do have some witnesses already -- some affidavits prepared, but we are not
9 yet sure to which witness we can attach that story. So if it is important
10 testimony, we are bringing that witness here.
11 JUDGE MAY: Well, if it is another village witness, it may well be
12 -- of course, I'm just speaking for myself -- but it may well be that the
13 witness can be generally corroborative as opposed to corroborative of a
14 particular piece of evidence. You should look at the --
15 MR. KOVACIC: Yes. But you, of course, notice at least so far
16 never had two witnesses for the same village. But that is one of the
17 restrictions logically. But nevertheless, the number which I also could
18 just inform about, how does it look generally to us, the last list we
19 informed about the Chamber was 65 witnesses, roughly. Some of them are
20 kind of contingency. If particular witness listed before that is not able
21 or whatever, sick or whatever, then I can introduce other one as
22 alternative. That was done more or less on contingency basis in order to
23 avoid any argument on whether this witness, particular witness who may not
24 come, was earlier given on the list to the other side.
25 So I guess that we will be able to finish our case somewhere
1 around maybe 50 or so witnesses, perhaps, anywhere less than 55, but that
2 is exactly the job we are trying to do this afternoon.
3 JUDGE MAY: Very well. Perhaps you'd bear in mind that it's quite
4 clear that your case is going much more quickly than anticipated. The
5 witnesses have been going this week much more quickly. Cross-examination
6 has been succinct and, therefore, if you would plan to have an excess of
7 witnesses here, we may be able to get through the whole thing much more
9 MR. KOVACIC: That is exactly one of the reasons why we decided to
10 analyse the situation this afternoon.
11 JUDGE MAY: Very well.
12 MR. KOVACIC: Thank you, Your Honour.
13 JUDGE MAY: We'll hear the results of that on Monday, bearing in
14 mind that we wish to remain on schedule.
15 MR. KOVACIC: Certainly that is always -- we never considered to
16 change the schedule.
17 JUDGE MAY: Thank you. We'll sit again on Monday at half past
19 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned
20 at 12.40 p.m., to be reconvened on Monday
21 the 18th day of September, 2000, at
22 9.30 a.m.