1 Wednesday, 8 March 2006
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 9.08 a.m.
5 JUDGE ORIE: Good morning to everyone in this courtroom and those
6 assisting us just outside the courtroom.
7 Mr. Registrar, would you please call the case.
8 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning, Your Honours. This is case number
9 IT-00-39-T, the Prosecutor versus Momcilo Krajisnik. Thank you.
10 JUDGE ORIE: Thank you, Mr. Registrar. Before we invite the
11 Defence to call its next witness, there are a few practical matters on our
12 agenda, the first one being that the Defence has asked some time in
13 relation to what I would call the Savkic exhibits. We would like to
14 address the issue of these exhibits relating to Witness Savkic, and we are
15 talking about P1055, 1056, 1057, 1059, 1060, 1065, and 1066.
16 On the 2nd of March, the Chamber requested the Defence to either
17 file a brief written submission or to address the matter in court, and I
18 hear now Mr. Josse will need five minutes. Since we did not receive any
19 submissions, we now give you an opportunity to respond to the Prosecution
20 on this matter.
21 MR. JOSSE: Your Honour, could I ask that I do that tomorrow.
22 I've consulted -- or Mr. Stewart has consulted with our learned friends
23 from the Prosecution. This is all to do with the various timetabling
24 difficulties that --
25 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, we'll do it tomorrow.
1 MR. JOSSE: Thank you.
2 JUDGE ORIE: Then there is -- there are a few other matters on
3 which I'll give you -- not always a decision but sometimes a statement,
4 and I'll start with a statement of guidance requested by the Defence. In
5 a motion of the 2nd of March, 2006, the Defence has asked that the Chamber
6 could assist a Defence witness in obtaining a passport. The Chamber is
7 aware that it is unusual for the Tribunal to request passports from local
8 authorities, in particular because this might draw undue attention to
9 those persons as prospective witnesses. However, should the Defence have
10 a specific, different request, the Chamber is ready to hear it. But --
11 and there's no difference of treatment between Defence and Prosecution
12 witnesses in this respect.
13 The Defence has also approached the Chamber with a request for
14 guidance regarding the addition of new witnesses to its list, and the
15 Chamber allows this modification to the list of witnesses on the
16 understanding that the time limits for the Defence case remain the same.
17 Then the next issue I would like to address is -- I'd like to
18 address the Defence regarding the potential testimony of the accused. If
19 the accused decides to give oral evidence, the Chamber notes that,
20 according to the Rule 65 ter summary provided, the Defence intends to
21 address the topic of the accused's personal history during the examination
22 of this witness. In order to make the most efficient use of his testimony
23 pursuant to Rule 89(F) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, the Chamber
24 invites the Defence to make a written submission on this topic. The
25 submission could include, but need not to be limited to: Family,
1 education and training, places of residence, personal interests, and early
2 professional career. The Chamber suggests that the submission not address
3 the accused's professional career related to the indictment. The Defence
4 is also invited to include a description of the circumstances of the
5 accused's arrest in April 2000. And for the purposes of this submission,
6 the Defence may include information on the accused's personal history,
7 both before and after the indictment period.
8 The Chamber would like to emphasise that the submission does not
9 preclude examination on these topics by either party and Judges. The
10 Chamber asks that the submission be filed two weeks prior to the
11 commencement of the accused's testimony.
12 I now would like to address the Defence regarding its e-mail
13 message dated the 2nd March, 2006, in which it expressed its preference
14 for the Chamber to recess on Friday, the 21st, and Monday, the 24th of
15 April, 2006, in observance of Orthodox Easter.
16 The Chamber is sympathetic to the religious practices of the
17 accused, witnesses, and Tribunal staff. Under the circumstances, however,
18 the Chamber is unable to follow the Defence's suggestion. The current
19 schedule of this case leaves the Chamber no flexibility to choose the days
20 on which it will sit. In addition, the Chamber is required to respect UN
21 holidays, and thus cannot sit on those days due to the unavailability of
22 support staff. Two additional days of recess would make it more difficult
23 for the Chamber to hear as much of the most highly relevant evidence as
24 possible in the time frame allotted for the case.
25 However, since the courtroom schedule has not yet been determined
1 for the month of April, the Chamber is willing to explore with other
2 Chambers and the Registry the possibility of sitting for a morning session
3 on Friday, the 21st of April, and an afternoon session on Monday, the 24th
4 of April, in order to allow the accused the maximum amount of
5 uninterrupted time for religious observance. And the Chamber asks that
6 the Defence inform the Chamber at this time if it would like the Chamber
7 to make such a request.
8 The Trial Chamber would like to address the Prosecution and the
9 Defence regarding source material and photographic material. The Chamber
10 has sought access to material on other occasions to assist it in the
11 understanding and evaluation of the evidence presented. It has done so in
12 respect of Prosecution witnesses and Defence witnesses. For example, the
13 Chamber sought additional information on the death of Husein Hotic,
14 referred to by Witness Pasic, in December 2005, as well as the production
15 of Witness Prstojevic's diaries in June 2005.
16 With respect to the source material, paragraphs 337 through 349 of
17 the Nielsen report discuss the Republika Srpska MUP draft annual report
18 for 1992, produced by the Republika Srpska Ministry of Internal affairs in
19 January of 1993. Paragraph 347 makes reference to: "An abundance of
20 internal and external reports related to internal affairs and the security
21 situation which had been produced," including approximately 150 issues of
22 the "Bulletin of Daily Events," over 90 documents received by the Prime
23 Minister, and over 80 documents received by the president and members of
24 the Presidency. Dr. Nielsen testified, based on his analysis, that the
25 reports to high-level officials contained no reference to women and
1 children being rounded up in mopping-up operations and that the daily
2 bulletins from 1992 contain "very little trace" of references to detention
3 facilities and mopping-up operations. This testimony is on transcript
4 pages 13945 to 13955 -- I made a mistake. I said -- I think I said "45"
5 but I repeat it: The testimony is on transcript pages on pages 13954 to
7 The Chamber finds it probable that the source material Dr. Nielsen
8 relied upon would enable the Chamber to better understand the reporting
9 mechanisms he describes. It may also provide the Chamber with a more
10 objective basis to verify his conclusions. The Chamber would therefore
11 like to ask whether the following groups of documents are available to the
12 Prosecution, in order of preference, if this matter requires further
13 research: First, the group of over 80 documents received by the president
14 and members of the Presidency; second, the group of over 90 documents
15 received by the Prime Minister; and third, the group of approximately 150
16 issues of the Bulletin of Daily Events. The Prosecution may reply orally
17 as soon as I have finished reading this statement or by e-mail to the
18 Chamber's staff by the end of business on Friday, the 10th of March, 2006.
19 The Chamber would also like to request from the parties
20 photographic material regarding the destruction of property. During both
21 the Prosecution and the Defence cases, the Chamber has been presented with
22 evidence on the destruction of property during and following the attacks
23 and take-over of towns, villages, and municipalities. This evidence has
24 included witness testimony, various forms of documentation, and some
25 photographic material, notably photographs submitted by an expert witness
1 on destruction of cultural property. Evidence has been presented, both in
2 respect of indictment municipalities - that evidence was usually led by
3 the Prosecution - and non-indictment municipalities, which was usually led
4 by the Defence.
5 The Chamber finds that oral testimony is often better understood
6 if it is illustrated through pictures. If a witness testified that houses
7 in his village were destroyed, the Chamber would like to gain a visual
8 impression of such destruction and requests the parties to provide
9 exemplary photographic material from 1992 which illustrates the
10 destruction of property addressed in the presentation of evidence.
11 In relation to the indictment municipalities, the Chamber requests
12 the Prosecution to provide a representative sample, which is not the same
13 as a complete set of. So we are requesting the Prosecution to provide a
14 representative sample of photographic material categorised by
15 municipality, clearly labelling the object of the photograph and the date
16 in 1992 when the photograph was taken. The Defence is also invited to
17 present samples of photographic material for indictment municipalities as
18 well as photographic material for non-indictment municipalities to the
19 extent -- the letter, to the extent addressed in the evidence. However,
20 whereas we are obliging the Prosecution to produce photographs in its
21 possession, the Defence need only submit such material if it wishes to do
23 The Chamber requests the parties to submit this material in court
24 no later than the 31st of March.
25 The last matter I'd like to raise is that the Chamber would like
1 to address the Defence regarding video footage related to an attack on a
2 JNA convoy in Tuzla on the 15th of May, 1992. This video footage was
3 referred to by Witness Momcilo Micic on the 13th of December, 2005, and
4 the Defence asked - I refer to transcript page 19455 - whether the
5 Prosecution had disclosed the relevant material to the Defence. At the
6 housekeeping session on the 23rd of February of this year - the transcript
7 page 20846 - the Prosecution confirmed that the videos were in its
8 possession, and on the 28th of February responded to the Chamber that all
9 of the requested material had been delivered to the Defence. The Chamber
10 is now inquiring whether the Defence has had the opportunity to review
11 this material; and, if so, whether it intends to introduce it as evidence.
12 These were the matters the Chamber wanted to raise at this moment
13 prior to inviting the Defence to call its next witness.
14 [Trial Chamber and legal officer confer]
15 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, may I specifically draw the attention of the
16 Defence to my invitation to inform us, if possible now, whether the
17 Chamber should make an effort, because that always takes some time and the
18 earlier you are, the better the chances are, to try to schedule sitting on
19 Friday, the 21st of April, in the morning - and we all know that the
20 Friday afternoon is not the most popular moment to sit - and to sit on
21 Monday, the 24th of April in the afternoon.
22 MR. STEWART: Most certainly, Your Honour. There are three or
23 four points that Your Honour raises that I can very quickly deal with.
24 The first on that -- well, thank you for the offer, Your Honours, but it's
25 apparent through communication here that that particular change is a
1 matter of relative indifference to Mr. Krajisnik, in which case we
2 wouldn't ask the Trial Chamber or anybody else to go to any trouble in
3 relation to that particular issue. But thank you for that.
4 JUDGE ORIE: And I hope it's clear enough that the Chamber is not
5 in any way in control on whether the UN observes Orthodox Easter or any
6 other Easter available. So therefore, we have to follow. Otherwise -- if
7 choices would have been made otherwise, we would have followed as well.
8 MR. STEWART: Your Honour, I did explain to Mr. Krajisnik that
9 such decisions were taken at a different level in different circumstances.
10 We understand that.
11 Second, Your Honour, in relation to what we do understand - and
12 thank you again - is the Chamber's readiness to assist if it can in
13 relation to the passport. We hope that isn't going to arise, Your Honour.
14 We're going to pursue that again this evening to see what the up-to-date
15 position is. But thank you, Your Honour. If there is something specific,
16 we will, with respect, come back to the Trial Chamber straight away on
18 So far as the video footage is concerned, Your Honour, that has
19 been viewed by a member of our team, obviously one of our B/C/S speakers.
20 I will need to speak to him about it, Your Honour.
21 I think the next point is -- yes, in relation to the suggestion,
22 as a part of Mr. Krajisnik prospective testimony that might dealt with by
23 89(F), I'm happy to tell Your Honour that what Your Honour has indicated
24 matches just about a hundred per cent what is in advanced preparation, so
25 there should be absolutely no difficulty in meeting that timetable and,
1 with respect, we concur that that is a more than sensible way of dealing
2 with that particular aspect of the evidence.
3 Your Honour, I think those are all the practical points on which
4 an immediate response might be helpful from me right now.
5 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. Then we'll see for the 21st and the 24th of
6 April, you say it's not very substantial, then the Chamber will feel free
7 to follow any other wish expressed by parties or preferences expressed
8 within the team.
9 MR. STEWART: Indeed, Your Honour. Perhaps there's one more thing
10 I should say, Your Honour, since we have had some disruption, just
11 absolutely briefly, just really to put on the record so that people
12 understand what's happened. The witness that was going to come was, first
13 of all, affected by the very bad weather in southern Europe and then very
14 unhappily when that witness finally was either at or very near to the
15 airport was then suddenly and unexpectedly affected by a particular
16 personal situation which meant that he was unable to travel, and it was
17 unreasonable to ask him to travel in those circumstances, so that double
18 -- those double incidents, Your Honour, have put us in the unfortunate
19 position of not having that witness. It's regrettable, but it was not
20 under anybody's control in the end.
21 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. I've asked myself whether, due to the very
22 tight schedule we have at this moment, whether such a late arrival of
23 witnesses -- and of course these personal circumstances would not have
24 been influenced by it, but of course snow doesn't fall every day, whether
25 we would always work as close to the edge, with all the risks of falling
1 off. So therefore, if the Defence would try to get a little bit more time
2 on arrival of witnesses. I do not know exactly what the rules are, how
3 much time there would be available for the Defence to invite the witnesses
4 to come.
5 MR. STEWART: May I absolutely assure Your Honour that as a matter
6 of fact the Defence, we always do what we can to bring the witnesses as
7 early as possible, but the limitations imposed, first of all, quite
8 naturally, Your Honour, by -- negotiation with a witness as to how much
9 time they spend away from home is number one; and secondly, we always
10 have, in effect, to negotiate it - and they are very helpful - with the
11 Victims and Witnesses Section, so, Your Honour, we certainly follow the
12 policy of bringing witnesses here as early as possible. And I indicated
13 specifically to the Trial Chamber yesterday that in relation to the next
14 witnesses coming up, I specifically made the choice and made the request
15 and gave instructions, as necessary, to bring this witness earlier rather
16 than later, which has had exactly the beneficial effect that Your Honour
18 JUDGE ORIE: I just wanted to stress that if there are any
19 bureaucratic reasons which would prevent you from getting the witnesses
20 here at such time that not every minor delay would create an empty
21 courtroom and no hearing of evidence, that the Chamber certainly would
22 assist you.
23 MR. STEWART: Well, that -- certainly, Your Honour. We take
24 account weather, but it's a bit difficult when the weather is worse than
25 since records began in parts of southern Europe and we can't really
1 anticipate that. But, Your Honour, we note the point.
2 JUDGE ORIE: Yes.
3 [Defence counsel confer]
4 [Trial Chamber and legal officer confer]
5 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Harmon, we've heard from Mr. Stewart.
6 MR. STEWART: I'm sorry, Your Honour -- I'm sorry, Your Honour, I
7 was just -- Mr. Josse just wanted to consult on something.
8 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. No, I wanted to address -- I -- unless there's
9 anything else you would like to --
10 MR. STEWART: Oh, I think -- while consulting with Mr. Josse, I
11 heard my name and sometimes if I hear my name, in a Pavlovian way, Your
12 Honour, I just stand -- I just get on my feet, but I'll reverse the
13 Pavlovian process.
14 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, that's not easy because it's a Pavlovian
16 Mr. Harmon, you were invited to -- or at least I said you may
17 reply orally as to the availability of the documents referred to on the
18 Nielsen report, but you have an opportunity to give us the information
19 through e-mail to our staff by the end of business on next Friday. I
20 don't know which one you prefer.
21 MR. HARMON: Your Honour, I have made an inquire by e-mail to see
22 if those documents are available. Perhaps I can give you an oral response
23 today by the close of business; and if not, I will respond by e-mail.
24 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. I'll keep that in mind.
25 Having dealt with the practical issues, we are now at a point that
1 the Chamber invites the Defence to call its next witness.
2 Mr. Josse.
3 MR. JOSSE: Your Honour, in fact, I'm going to ask for a short
4 period of time. It really fits in with the issue to do with the witness
5 who couldn't get here. Clearly my personal and our team preparations have
6 been badly affected by the situation. I had some e-mail contact with
7 Mr. Harmon yesterday. Mr. Stewart spoke to him. The Prosecution have
8 understandably informed the Defence that they will be unable to
9 cross-examine this witness today in any event. Could I ask for a break
10 now of 40 minutes. The witness is in the building. I promised him I
11 would see him once again, and then I will commence my examination of the
12 next witness.
13 JUDGE ORIE: Yes.
14 Do you consider it to be a possibility to finish his
15 examination-in-chief today?
16 MR. JOSSE: I think there's a -- I think there's a -- a chance.
17 JUDGE ORIE: Okay. Let's then take that break immediately.
18 MR. JOSSE: Thank you.
19 JUDGE ORIE: 40 minutes' adjournment.
20 --- Recess taken at 9.34 a.m.
21 --- On resuming at 10.25 a.m.
22 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Josse.
23 MR. STEWART: Your Honour, just on that single point about the
24 video, the answer is: Yes, Your Honour, we do propose to adduce that
25 video in evidence.
1 JUDGE ORIE: Then I take it, Mr. Harmon, there's no need to have
2 this video introduced through any witness or it's -- could just be -- you
3 would not oppose --
4 MR. HARMON: No, Your Honour.
5 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, then, Mr. Stewart, if you would tender it, it
6 will then get a number, and as soon as you're ready to do that, the
7 Chamber will admit it into evidence.
8 MR. STEWART: Thank you, Your Honour.
9 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Josse, are you ready to call your next witness,
10 which as I understand would be Mr. Poplasen?
11 MR. JOSSE: That's right. Thank you for the time.
12 JUDGE ORIE: Then, Madam Usher, could you please escort the
13 witness into the courtroom.
14 [The witness entered court]
15 JUDGE ORIE: Good morning. Yes.
16 THE WITNESS: [No interpretation].
17 JUDGE ORIE: From your answer, the "dobro jutro," I take it that
18 you can understand me -- that you hear me in a language you understand,
19 Mr. Poplasen. At least, I assume that you're Mr. Poplasen.
20 Mr. Poplasen, before you give evidence in this court, the Rules of
21 Procedure and Evidence require you to make a solemn declaration that
22 you'll speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The
23 text of this declaration is now handed out to you by Madam Usher. May I
24 invite you to make that declaration.
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
1 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
2 JUDGE ORIE: Thank you, Mr. Poplasen. Please be seated.
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
4 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Poplasen, you'll be first examined by Mr. Josse,
5 counsel for the Defence.
6 Mr. Josse, you may proceed.
7 WITNESS: NIKOLA POPLASEN
8 [Witness answered through interpreter]
9 Examination by Mr. Josse:
10 Q. Your name is Nikola Poplasen. You graduated in political science
11 at the faculty in the University of Sarajevo in 1969. You then undertook
12 various post-graduate studies, which led eventually to your getting a
13 Ph.D. You then became an academic in the faculty of political science in
14 Sarajevo, and you have published a number of books. That's all correct as
15 a very brief resume of your activities before the war?
16 A. Yes, except for the fact that it wasn't 1969. It was 1974.
17 Q. Thank you. And after the war, you continued as an academic but in
18 Banja Luka. That's also right?
19 A. And during the war, from 1993 onwards.
20 Q. We -- your evidence will, for the most part, deal, of course, with
21 your political activities before and during the war, so I will leave those
22 out for a moment. But it is correct, isn't it, that after the war you
23 became, in 1998, the president of the Republika Srpska until you were
24 removed from that office by the then High Representative?
25 A. Yes, yes.
1 Q. Thank you.
2 A. At the elections in 1998, yes.
3 Q. You were elected in a ballot as president?
4 A. That's correct.
5 Q. You were originally a member of the League of Communists. Is that
7 A. Yes, that's correct.
8 Q. It is right that virtually all political science academics were
9 members of that league?
10 A. A large number of people, all who are of age, according to my
11 analyses, 11 million inhabitants of the former Yugoslavia were at one time
12 or another in the League of Communists. 11 million different people, that
13 was a specific situation in the socialist country where, if one wanted to
14 get any kind of job or promotion, most often they would have to become a
15 member of that league.
16 Q. Some time prior to the 1990 elections, you left the League of
18 A. A few years before that.
19 Q. You were not a candidate in the 1990 elections. Is that correct?
20 A. No, I wasn't. I was not a member of any political party, nor did
21 I participate as a candidate in the elections.
22 Q. As we will learn, you have never been a member of the SDS.
23 A. No. No, I have never been a member of the SDS.
24 Q. This Chamber has heard evidence from a number of witnesses about
25 fears and concerns of Serbs after the election and in the lead-up to the
1 war. I'm not going to ask you to deal with those topics, but it is right
2 that in 1991 you were invited to join the Political Council of the SDS?
3 A. Yes. The social and psychological situation for a few years
4 leading up to 1988 and 1989 became very tense in the former Yugoslavia.
5 Tension could be felt between very different social groups, especially
6 ethnic and religious groups. And in the late 1980s, on the political
7 scene of the former Yugoslavia, the so-called national parties grew very
8 strong. In the Republic of Croatia, the Serbian Democratic Party was
9 established first. After that, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Party of
10 Democratic Action was established, advocating mainly Muslim interests; the
11 HDZ advocating Croatian interests; and after that, as a response to all
12 that, the Serb Democratic Party. This party became very popular. It had
13 some very clear national ideas. It participated in the elections in 1990
14 and obtained the vast majority of Serb votes. It started its activities
15 and established an advisory body which was initially called the Council of
16 the Serb Democratic Party, but later on, when some other auxiliary bodies
17 were established by that party for economics, culture, and so on, the
18 council was no longer an all-purpose council, but was dubbed the Political
19 Advisory Council. The president of this council was for a time Professor
20 Nikola Koljevic, who is a personal acquaintance and friend of mine and had
21 been for many years before those events, and he asked me to become a
22 member of the council, not a member of the SDS, and to participate in the
23 work of that council where I could express my opinions and comments
24 freely, thus contributing to the work of that body. I accepted his
25 invitation, and towards the end of the first half of 1991 I was appointed
1 a member of that council and participated in its work.
2 Q. You have helpfully dealt there with the advent of the SDS. Did
3 you view the SDS as a regular - by that I mean ordinary - political party,
4 or did you in some way see it in other terms?
5 A. I have to first state some general facts which may be of
6 assistance to the Chamber in connection with your question. As regards my
7 personal convictions and view of the events in the late 1980s, it was
8 clear to me that throughout Yugoslavia dramatic events were forthcoming
9 and that within Yugoslavia, but also abroad, there would be forces
10 contributing to the destruction and break-up of that country. The energy
11 of the people was channeled into the national parties. Other forms of
12 association were completely suppressed in the media, in the public
13 speeches of the representatives of the international community, in the
14 public speeches of the newly emerging political elite. And all this was
15 indicating that there would be a renewal of interethnic conflicts.
16 On the other side was a significant group of politicians who had
17 been members of the League of Communists and who were very dogmatic. They
18 were hard-liners, adhering to the conviction that the former Yugoslavia
19 could be preserved. These dogmatic hard-liners relied on some tenets of
20 international law, on the fact that Yugoslavia existed as the only
21 internationally recognised state in the area, and that this Yugoslavia had
22 a very strong army. However, the role of the army was to preserve the
23 external borders. That's what was stated in the constitution of the
24 former Yugoslavia. But they had not counted on the fact that the civilian
25 leadership of Yugoslavia and of the republics of which Yugoslavia
1 consisted - Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, and so
2 on - the desire emerged to destroy the then-Yugoslavia. The civilian
3 leaders of Yugoslavia and of the republics, in this case the Republic of
4 Bosnia and Herzegovina, were actually looking for other solutions, which
5 would lead to a reorganisation in political terms of the territory making
6 up Yugoslavia. And they were motivated by national ideas. Significant
7 problems arose due to that. This meant that territories with a majority
8 population of a single ethnic group would not experience war, but that it
9 was very likely that a war would break out where the population was mixed.
10 In my view, the Serbs -- when I say "the Serbs," I am referring
11 primarily to the Serb political leaderships but also to the Serb
12 population which had to be educated by the political and cultural elite --
13 in those circumstances, my expectations were that the Serbs would
14 formulate their own interests in that country which was called Yugoslavia
15 in such a way that everything would be done to avoid bloodshed and to
16 avoid a head-on conflict with members of other national groups and
17 religious affiliations, because the Serbs, for the most part, were
19 Therefore, in my view, there had to be a certain kind of
20 reconstruction of Yugoslavia but with the agreement among the elites of
21 all the nations inhabiting the territory of the former Yugoslavia. SDS
22 formulated, in part, some of my views. The SDS was offensive in its
23 representation of itself to the public and to the members of the other
24 ethnic and national groups. They wanted to find ways, new ways, of living
25 together in which no nation would be subjugated or suppressed in economic,
1 cultural or religious terms.
2 I liked this approach where changes, which were inevitable, were
3 to be expected but where a policy would be followed which would avoid
4 bloodshed and destruction and where compromises would be made in the
5 search for equality. This was the idea advocated by the SDS, and in the
6 Political Council we had many discussions on how Bosnia and Herzegovina
7 could be organised and how the Serb people could be organised.
8 You asked me about the year 1991. One has to understand that
9 Yugoslavia still existed in 1991, and I was aware of the fact that
10 discussions about the Serb people and the -- and Serb interests implied
11 the Serb nation as a whole, all the Serbs living in the former Yugoslavia.
12 This interest had to be brought into dialogue with interests of the other
13 nations; Muslims, Montenegrins, Croats, and so on. This was the key
14 reason for my participating in the work of the Political Council of the
15 SDS. I was not an SDS member, so I was not bound by any statutory norms
16 of the SDS. I was not obliged, as a non-party member, to respect any kind
17 of party discipline. To be sure, I expressed my opinions in public or, on
18 more than one occasion, through the electronic media or through comments
19 in a newspaper called Javnost and other publications in Serbia,
20 Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
21 MR. JOSSE: Your Honour, I didn't stop the witness because, for
22 the most part, he clearly realised that these were all topics that I was
23 going to -- and he's covered many of the issues that I was going to ask
24 him about in subsequent questions.
25 Q. Mr. Poplasen, you've gone all -- most of the way, but perhaps not
1 all the way, in explaining exactly why you didn't join the SDS in, shall
2 we say, 1991. I'd like you to explain your thinking in that year, not
3 with the benefit of hindsight; in other words, not -- ignore what happened
4 subsequently. Why in 1991 did you say to yourself: I'm not going to join
5 the SDS?
6 A. I apologise, but I don't see the logic behind your question.
7 Activity or public activity, as a member of a political party, is only
8 possible if you have prospects for the future, if you have a goal,
9 something you want to achieve. And this goal is always situated in the
10 future, and it is from this aspect that specific issues are analysed. A
11 man has to decide whether joining a party will lead to the goal he
13 It was my opinion in that period that the Serbs, as a whole, had
14 to have a goal, which was to live peacefully, without conflicts with other
15 nations or social groups; and in order to achieve this, they had to be
16 connected with each other. The former Yugoslavia gave that, not only to
17 the Serbs but also to the other nations because the Muslims are also
18 scattered in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia. So are the
19 Albanians, so are the Croats. The Slovenes least of all, that's true.
20 But I was simply weighing whether the Serb Democratic Party would satisfy
21 this orientation of mine. However, as time went on, 1991, 1992, and so
22 on, it became evident that the SDS was wavering; accepting something, then
23 not accepting it. For a time they wanted all the Serbs to live in one
24 state, then they didn't want that. And then the SDS would accept the
25 illegal recognition of Bosnia and Herzegovina as an internationally
1 recognised state.
2 A number of facts emerged where the SDS or its leadership accepted
3 legal violence over the former Yugoslavia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and
4 then based its policies on unacceptable foundations. However, of all the
5 political parties, it most fully advocated the interests of the Serbian
6 people, and that was why I was willing to cooperate and provide support on
7 certain issues but not always. And I did not want to become a member,
8 which would imply that I fully accepted the platform and the statute of
9 the SDS. I was not completely satisfied with the Serbian Democratic
10 Party, although of all the major parties, I found it more congenial than
11 any other.
12 Q. The Political Council, you've already told us that you and others
13 engaged there in theoretical-type discussions. Was that primarily what
14 its role was, as far as you were concerned?
15 A. Well, better to say theoretical political discussions. That was
16 the role of the council in the SDS. The SDS had other bodies making
17 decisions. The Political Council could not make any decisions. There was
18 the Presidency of the SDS, there was the Executive Board, there was the
19 party president. It was up to them, first of all, whether they would
20 attend sessions of the council at all; and secondly, whether they would or
21 would not adopt a suggestion made by the council. It was up to the
22 leadership of the SDS to decide that. The leadership of the SDS was not
23 bound to report to us at all. It was, however, the custom when someone
24 from the leadership attended a session of the Political Council and we had
25 questions, to answer our questions and make some comments to help us in
1 our work. But we were not given any feedback as to what was done with our
2 advice and our suggestions later on.
3 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Josse, if you would allow me one question for
5 You said -- when you discussed SDS policy, you said: The SDS
6 would accept the illegal recognition of Bosnia and Herzegovina as an
7 internationally recognised state. Could you give me the factual basis of
8 this statement. When did the SDS express that it would accept the illegal
9 recognition of Bosnia and Herzegovina as an internationally recognised
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] You see, Bosnia and Herzegovina
12 asked for international recognition, but this was contrary to the
13 constitution, without the agreement of the Serbian people and
14 representatives the Serbs --
15 JUDGE ORIE: I do understand what you meant by "illegal
16 recognition." You said the SDS would accept that illegal recognition.
17 When and where did they accept that and by what means?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] After the recognition, the
19 representatives of the SDS and the members of the state leadership who
20 were SDS members set out to negotiate with the representatives of the
21 Muslim and Croatian people and the international community based on the
22 recognition of the country --
23 JUDGE ORIE: May I -- you are referring to the -- what is often
24 called the Cutileiro negotiations? Is that what you had in mind?
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The SDS accepted the Cutileiro
1 plan. It accepted it, as did Mr. Alija Izetbegovic and the members of the
2 Muslim people, but he withdrew his signature --
3 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Poplasen, I'm just seeking where you said "the
4 SDS accepted the illegal recognition," what you were referring to. Do I
5 understand that you are referring to the position the SDS and its
6 leadership took in the negotiations which led to the Cutileiro plan? This
7 Chamber has heard evidence on who signed it and who withdrew, and we have
8 heard a lot of evidence. Were you referring to that negotiations when you
9 said "the SDS accepted the illegal recognition of the Bosnia and
10 Herzegovina as an internationally recognised state"? Were you referring
11 to that?
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, after the Cutileiro
13 plan. Your question also included the behaviour of the SDS. It was
14 evident from the behaviour of the SDS that the rejection of the Cutileiro
15 plan, which, in my view, was a good plan for all the nations, that this
16 was leading to a bad situation. And from the behaviour of the SDS, it was
17 evident that this political fact was accepted. They entered into
18 negotiations. To be sure, it was in an attempt to find a new solution and
19 to change something, but they entered the whole procedure of political and
20 legal negotiations, which showed that they were recognising the situation,
21 that they were giving up the idea of a firmer association with other Serb
22 areas. So this was a deviation from the position that the SDS had had
23 before the Cutileiro plan. I don't recall that there was any formal
24 session of any body of the party in which it was stated that they accepted
25 Bosnia and Herzegovina, but it is quite evident from the way they acted
1 that they were accepting this unequally constituted Bosnia and
3 JUDGE ORIE: I still have some problems in understanding this.
4 From the evidence we heard, it seems to appear that once the Cutileiro
5 plan failed, that one of the major developments on from that moment was to
6 -- to have Republika Srpska as the main orientation of the SDS in terms
7 of administration of government -- well, all kind of other matters. I'm
8 just trying to find where you find the -- because it's all rather vague.
9 You say: The behaviour shows that. This Chamber has heard quite some
10 evidence which seems to demonstrate that the main efforts were to have
11 Republika Srpska as the -- as the -- if not state, at least the entity
12 which would take its own decisions on matters relating to government,
13 justice, defence. So therefore, I'm wondering where exactly you saw the
14 behaviour of the SDS to be such that it would still consider the Bosnia
15 and Herzegovina as an accepted, internationally recognised state.
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I will simplify this. The majority
17 of the Serbian people supported the SDS in Bosnia-Herzegovina. There was
18 also the SDS in the Republic of the Serbian Krajina within the Republic of
19 Croatia. There was the SDS in Serbia as well, which wasn't as influential
20 and as significant. However, the SDS of Bosnia and Herzegovina was
21 greatly supported by the people in Serbia, even those who were not SDS
22 members in Serbia. What had to be done was the following: The SDS had to
23 lobby strongly for a sort of a meeting, a congress, where the Serbian
24 representatives from all the areas of the Republic of Serbian Krajina,
25 which was called at the time the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and
1 Herzegovina, from Montenegro and Serbia would meet and try to find some
2 sort of an agreement. And this is what the SDS gave up as an idea; that
3 is what I was referring to.
4 I fully agree with your observation that the Serbian Democratic
5 Party was working on making the Republika Srpska stronger in political,
6 economic, and military terms, but it did not work on getting closer to the
7 Republic of the Serbian Krajina, to Serbia, or Montenegro because this
8 problem could only be solved in one way, and this was the main point of
9 contention of a difference in position between the SDS and the Serbian
10 Radical Party. I concluded from there that the SDS leadership --
11 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, please -- please finish your answer.
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Therefore, based on this fact that I
13 mentioned, I concluded that the political moves and the conduct of the SDS
14 were focussed on Bosnia-Herzegovina as an internationally recognised
16 JUDGE ORIE: So if I well understand your testimony, you say:
17 While giving up the perspective of being united in one state, all Serbs
18 being united in one state, that, for you, made clear that the SDS was
19 accepting Bosnia and Herzegovina as an independent state?
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, roughly, that is it.
21 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. Thank you.
22 Please proceed, Mr. Josse.
23 MR. JOSSE:
24 Q. I was asking you about the Political Council. You had - and again
25 helpfully - made some reference to the leadership of the SDS and their
1 involvement in that council. Perhaps before we turn to that, it's right
2 that you attended approximately 50 per cent of the meetings of the
3 Political Council whilst you were a member of that body?
4 A. Probably yes, although I did not keep minutes or have notes of
5 that. I suppose that I attended roughly 50 per cent - not less - of the
6 meetings. The council met once weekly, rather frequently, therefore. I
7 was not able to attend some of them, but I attended others.
8 Q. The leadership attended intermittently. Could I ask you first
9 about Radovan Karadzic. How frequently did he attend, if you're able to
11 A. One could not say that he attended the meetings on a regular
12 basis. He attended the meetings periodically, probably when his duties
13 permitted him to do so. Radovan Karadzic also attended periodically,
14 Professor Koljevic chaired the meetings, Mrs. Plavsic also attended the
15 meetings. Mr. Krajisnik attended several of these meetings, I don't know
16 how many as well, and probably some other members of the Executive Board.
17 I did not pay particular attention to that and to see who was there in
18 terms of their role; I was more focussed on the discussion of those who
19 attended the meeting.
20 Q. Are you able to comment on the contributions, if any, made by
21 Dr. Karadzic?
22 A. He did not take, really, an active part in the meetings. He
23 followed the discussion. He did not raise any issues in particular. I
24 only recall his reaction to our statement that something was happening, he
25 would merely say that the party leadership was taking care of those
1 matters. He did not clarify what he meant by that. His interventions
2 were rather brief and mostly had to do with the fact that he had been
3 informed of a matter or with -- with providing some information. He would
4 tell us that the party leadership had taken appropriate decisions.
5 Perhaps he did not trust the Political Council that much because the
6 council consisted of some people who were not members of the SDS. He was,
7 perhaps for that particular reason, very brief in his addresses and did
8 not go into any details.
9 Q. Same question, please, for Mr. Krajisnik.
10 A. As far as I remember, Mr. Krajisnik attended these meetings
11 several times, and I recall him just as I see him now. He normally took
12 notes during the meetings. In the intervals to these meetings, since he
13 was already at the time the speaker of the parliament of
14 Bosnia-Herzegovina of the Assembly or, in particular, after the close of
15 these meetings, I recall that at the time the parliamentary sessions were
16 broadcast live on the TV and I had several questions to put to him on some
17 occasions. He answered that it was very difficult to secure the equality
18 of all the peoples and that we had to be aware of the fact that we were
19 just one of the peoples there, that all of his efforts were focussed on
20 this, but that he would never lose the Serb interests out of sight.
21 I took him to be a busy sort of man; that's why I did not pursue
22 him with any questions. I was not a personal acquaintance of
23 Mr. Krajisnik, and that is why I did not meet with him outside these
24 council meetings. This exchange of ours that we had would take place
25 either during the breaks or after these meetings.
1 Q. Could I ask you to clarify that. You didn't know Mr. Krajisnik
2 before 1991. That's right, isn't it?
3 A. I can't be very specific, but I definitely did not know him before
4 1990. It is possible that in the course of 1990 I met him because I used
5 to take a walk and talk to Mr. Koljevic, and then we would go to the
6 office of the SDS Main Board, where we would meet the members of the
7 board. And I might have met with Mr. Krajisnik there, although I'm not
8 sure, of course. In the past several years I met hundreds of people and I
9 tend to forget the dates and the names. In any case, we did not meet
10 before 1990.
11 In 1991, through the Political Council, and in particular through
12 Mr. Krajisnik's political activity, his personality could be outlined. I
13 don't think he could have had any impression as to my personality because
14 I was not that public a person. However, I grew to know him in that
15 period, especially with the start of the war operations, when we met and
16 socialised more frequently.
17 Q. Your --
18 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Josse, may I ask for one clarification.
19 When you spoke of the role, Mr. Poplasen, the role of Mr. Karadzic
20 in the Political Council, you said: "He would tell us that the party
21 leadership had taken appropriate decisions."
22 What did you understand to be the party leadership?
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I meant the party Presidency and the
24 Executive Board. That was the leadership which met frequently, as far as
25 we know. The Serb Democratic Party was in power at the time and it had to
1 take decisions within the state bodies. Now, when it comes to important
2 matters, one knows that it is within the parties that discussions take
3 place first, before the representatives in the government who are members
4 of the party take further decisions. I understood these people to be
5 party leadership members who were members of the state bodies which dealt
6 with these matters, tried to avoid conflicts, tried to push for
7 constitutional changes that would prevent the situation from
8 deteriorating. One has to also take into account the fact that we
9 expected that some sort of discussion was still taking place on the level
10 of Yugoslavia and that we still hoped that Yugoslavia would continue
12 JUDGE ORIE: You've answered my question. Thank you.
13 Please proceed, Mr. Josse.
14 MR. JOSSE:
15 Q. You wrote an article in 1991 in Oslobodjenje in which you set out
16 your support for the idea of forming a People's Council as a second
17 legislative house or body within the republic. Is that correct?
18 A. Yes, that's correct. This was a period of tension and intense
19 efforts to find solutions. The way I saw it, the constitutional problem
20 had to first be solved, and that's why I suggested that the People's
21 Council be established as the second chamber in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where
22 representatives of the three constituent nations would be equally
23 represented; namely, Serbs, Croats, and Muslims, and that within this
24 council national interests would be preserved. And this was also the way,
25 in my view, to avoid outvoting of one of two nations -- of one nation over
1 two, and that was the best way to make compromises; to make an
2 authoritative body that would continually point to the fact that bloodshed
3 and war was the worst of all solutions to that problem. This article was
4 published in the daily newspaper, which at the time had a very high
5 circulation. It was subsequently upheld by many readers in their letters
6 to the editor. As far as I remember, there was this letter, "The last
7 call for help by a thirsty person in a desert." This was published by a
8 person in Oslobodjenje who energetically supported my suggestion, and he
9 was later an official of the Croatian Democratic Union in
10 Bosnia-Herzegovina, however things turned out for the worse later on.
11 Unfortunately, after the bloodshed and destruction that took
12 place, the Dayton Accords saw that the right solution was in establishing
13 the People's Council, and it was in fact established.
14 Q. Thank you --
15 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Josse, first of all we are talking about an
16 article, and of course if the Chamber could read that article, then we
17 would become more familiar with the ideas of the witness. Sometimes I do
18 not fully understand them.
19 You said: Muslims, Serbs, and Croats would be equally represented
20 in this council for the people, I think you said. And that would avoid
21 outvoting. I still do not understand. I mean, if every nation would have
22 one-third of the votes, still Muslims and Croats could outvote the Serbs,
23 even in this new body. Or is this a wrong understanding? But that's of
24 course -- I put the question not having any knowledge of this article.
25 MR. JOSSE: I'd also like to read the article. We don't have it,
1 I'm afraid.
2 JUDGE ORIE: Yes.
3 MR. JOSSE: But the witness --
4 JUDGE ORIE: Of course, all kinds of details as to whether the
5 publisher was fully supporting the ideas, et cetera, of course seems to be
6 of relatively minor relevance, so therefore -- but let's try to understand
7 your testimony. How could, in this new body where there was equal
8 representation, how could you avoid outvoting?
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I tried to be brief, that is why I
10 didn't go into detail. It was implied that there would be another chamber
11 of representatives where decisions would be taken by a qualified majority
12 -- simple majority, I suppose. In the Council of the Peoples, the
13 decisions would be taken either by consensus or by simple majority of
14 votes of every people separately. You are quite right: One of the
15 provisions regulating the procedure of the Council of the People would be
16 that the decision-making would be done through consensus or by a simple
17 majority of votes taken from each of the peoples individually, not all of
18 them together. That is why in this way outvoting would be prevented.
19 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. Now, let's just assume that the Muslims would
20 by majority vote against a certain proposal, there would be no consensus,
21 neither would there be a majority of votes of each of the peoples
22 individually. So is that a correct understanding?
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Something of the sort is possible.
24 It, in fact, happened, and that's why there was a war. We had outvoting,
25 which is a fact. However, one presupposes that a debate by reasonable
1 persons leads to reasonable arguments. The Council of the People would be
2 able to re-introduce a certain matter on the agenda on a number of
4 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. But from what I understand is that a system of
5 being outvoted, which of course is very unpleasant if you are outvoted
6 again and again, even if you have reasonable arguments, would be replaced
7 by or supplemented by a system where one of the nations could just block
8 any proposal by saying that no majority of this nation would support the
9 idea, and therefore consensus was not there, neither was there a majority
10 by all the three nations separately. I'm just trying to understand how it
11 really resolved a problem which, from what I understood until now from the
12 testimony, seemed to be very much a problem that could not or could not
13 easily be resolved by this kind of structures but could, as you said
14 before, perhaps only be resolved by everyone using common sense and not
15 using majority positions or exploiting minority positions with a more or
16 less effective veto.
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, you have just explained
18 the situation as we are experiencing it currently in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
19 This is the constitutional situation in which we are now, where one people
20 can block the other or any sort of solution. However, there is a specific
21 situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina where we have an arbiter who is not from
22 Bosnia-Herzegovina, if we can put it that way, who deblocks the -- such a
23 stalemate. However, one can conclude that a High Representative would not
24 be in Bosnia-Herzegovina for good and that representatives of the
25 different people, if they want to live together, have to seek and find
1 some legal mechanisms that would allow them to do so.
2 JUDGE ORIE: You say the situation has not really changed within
3 Bosnia-Herzegovina, apart from someone now there to take decisions where
4 decision-making is -- is not going as one would wish it to go. But the
5 matter is clear to me.
6 Mr. Josse, the Chamber would very much like to focus on these kind
7 of analyses. If the witness says: Well, outvoting was a problem but we
8 created the new body so as to avoid outvoting, whereas, at least for me,
9 it was totally not understandable how outvoting could be avoided, and
10 under the new system that I would say everyone is stuck in a similar
11 situation, would be the same as in -- without this new body. These are
12 the kind of dilemmas, I would say, the Chamber is very much interested in
13 to hear about and not just to say: We had a new body and that would
14 resolve the matters. Yes.
15 MR. JOSSE: That's a very helpful indication, Your Honour. My
16 only observation is, as is clear, this gentleman has a great deal of
17 detailed knowledge, notwithstanding -- bearing in mind his profession.
18 And if one asks him questions like that, he's bound to take quite a long
19 time in giving a full explanation.
20 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, unless you immediately interrupt and say: How
21 could this new system avoid outvoting? If you would have stopped him
22 there and immediately asked the question, then perhaps -- and perhaps
23 guide him a bit in his answers to that, because as it appears now,
24 outvoting was avoided but another mechanism which would obstruct
25 decision-making in a sensible way as much as the outvoting system did
1 would remain.
2 Please proceed.
3 MR. JOSSE: Thank you.
4 Q. I want to ask you a little about your own personal observation of
5 tensions building up within Sarajevo. Did you see any visible signs that
6 Muslims were taking up arms?
7 A. The fact that the Muslims were arming themselves went around and
8 it was much discussed. Later on it was confirmed by the Muslim side on
9 the television and in the papers; however, one could also notice out in
10 the street. From the start of the school year, that's to say in September
11 and October of 1991, in the yard of the faculty of political science,
12 where I worked as deputy dean, one could see uniformed persons walking by,
13 and very often they carried weapons. There were members of the so-called
14 Patriotic League. These were, therefore, not the police or any other
15 regular law enforcement forces, but rather members of a force that had not
16 been regulated by either the constitution or the law. Quite
17 understandably, this contributed to instilling fear in people. And as you
18 had occasion to see - this was recently published in the press - when you
19 take a look at the provisions that were passed whereby double pensionable
20 years of service were to be recognised for those who, as of April that
21 year, participated in the arming process of the Muslim or Bosniak people
22 in Bosnia. This evidently refers to those who contributed to the arming
23 process and set up various units. This is now a piece of legislation
24 which shows that this was indeed a fact. This could also be felt by the
25 people in general out in the street. There were efforts to stop the
1 situation from deteriorating, and this is in fact the topic that we have
2 just discussed a moment ago.
3 JUDGE ORIE: Could you tell us what year you meant when you are
4 talking about April.
5 Yes, I'm sorry.
6 MR. JOSSE: Yes, I was about to ask the same thing, Your Honour.
7 JUDGE ORIE: You said "as of April." April of what year?
8 "... who, as of April that year, participated in the arming process ..."
9 April of what year?
10 MR. JOSSE:
11 Q. The double pensions, Mr. Poplasen, is what the learned Judge is
12 referring to.
13 A. April 1991. This was the law on pensions or, rather, on social
14 welfare in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in the federation, that is. And I saw it
15 published in a journal called Liljan. I believe the Defence has a copy of
16 this information. They were quoting this provision, and it mentions the
17 date and all the other details.
18 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Josse, Judge Hanoteau would like to ask a
20 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [Interpretation] Please, I have a question. You
21 said: "Later it was confirmed by the Muslim side on the televisions and
22 the newspapers."
23 Could you please clarify this: When you said "later," what does
24 it mean "later"? And when was it confirmed by the Muslims? On what
25 occasion? What did you mean exactly by this? Could you expound on this?
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I'll tell you what I mean by that.
2 My memory is not so detailed, but more than once there were interviews on
3 television with political and military leaders of the Army of
4 Bosnia-Herzegovina. For example, with Sefer Halilovic. In this interview
5 he explained that the Muslim people, in the course of 1990 and 1991, armed
6 themselves, that certain formations were established, they were expecting
7 conflicts, and he spoke of his own significant contribution to this.
8 And this is not an isolated example. There are many such
9 interviews in the electronic media and in various publications which show
10 the same kind of facts, and this is not difficult to establish.
11 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [Interpretation] Yes, but those interviews, those
12 publications, was it after the war, during the war, or right before the
13 war? When exactly did that occur in time?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Towards the end of the war and after
15 the war. These are people remembering these events.
16 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [Interpretation] Thank you.
17 MR. JOSSE:
18 Q. I would like, Mr. Poplasen, to move on, please, to April of 1992.
19 There came a time when you had left Sarajevo for some sort of trip and you
20 were physically unable to return because of a roadblock or some such-like
21 problem. Is that correct?
22 A. I was unable to go back. You are right when you say that I was
23 away on a trip, and on my return to Sarajevo there were barricades at the
24 entrance to the town. And I was unable to pass through. The road was
25 physically blocked. That was the morning of the 6th of April. From the
1 Sokolac-Rogatica side in front of the tunnel called Kozja Cuprija, there
2 was a roadblock. On one side of the tunnel were armed Serbs; on the other
3 side were armed Muslims. Not only I, but nobody could pass through. The
4 place was exposed to gun-fire, so I returned to Pale, which is not far
6 Q. And in Pale you got in touch with Professor Koljevic. Is that
8 A. Generally speaking, yes. This went for a few days. I found
9 accommodation in a building called Hotel Panorama, and two or three days
10 later, because Pale is not a big place, it's a small town, I ran into some
11 people in the street who were from the leadership of the Serbian
12 Democratic Party. They said that there were quite a few of them there and
13 that they were staying in a hotel on the edge of Pale. I went there and
14 there I met up with Professor Koljevic and some other people, and then
15 things took a different course.
16 Q. I think it might be helpful, Mr. Poplasen, if we -- or you
17 summarised to the Chamber your activities in this part of 1992 and then we
18 went back and looked at them again in a little bit more detail. Correct
19 me if I'm wrong, but you basically worked alongside Professor Koljevic for
20 approximately the next two months. Is that right?
21 A. A little less. What happened was the following. One should bear
22 in mind that before the 6th of April, that is sometime in March, in the
23 town of Sarajevo itself, not in Pale, after the misunderstanding in the
24 National Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina, an Assembly of the Serbian
25 people of Bosnia and Herzegovina was established and -- the elected MPs or
1 its members. And they elected a government of the Serbian Republic of
2 Bosnia and Herzegovina. This Assembly, in January 1991, adopted the
3 constitution of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. So there was
4 already an Assembly, a government, there were certain documents, and the
5 people who were members of the government and the members of the Assembly
6 found themselves in Pale. And then they began to organise their political
7 life, legal affairs, defence, and so on.
8 I met up with Professor Koljevic, and I was engaged in looking for
9 premises where these people could carry out their work and where work
10 could begin on the -- on regulating the legal status of all this work and
11 to organise contacts with the media. This was a lot of work, which is why
12 I was in contact with Professor Koljevic. He was later in contact with
13 President Karadzic and other members of the leadership of the Serb
14 Democratic Party, whom I saw from time to time. But mostly I cooperated
15 with Professor Koljevic on the issues I have mentioned.
16 This went on for about two months, perhaps, until towards the end
17 of May 1992, when I left that kind of work and went to a unit, and around
18 the -- that was around the 20th of May. I went to a unit some 50
19 kilometres away from Sarajevo -- from Pale, which was commanded by a good
20 friend of mine. Some days later, at the invitation of Professor Koljevic,
21 I returned to Pale because he asked me to accept the role of republican
22 commissioner in Vogosca municipality in order to regulate affairs in that
23 municipality. I accepted his proposal. The Presidency issued this
24 decision, and towards the end of June - I think it was the 28th of June,
25 if my memory serves me well, I think it was the holiday of Vidovdan - I
1 went to Vogosca as commissioner in that municipality. Occasionally I
2 stayed in Vogosca. I didn't spend all my time there.
3 One of the reasons for my dissatisfaction was my leaving Pale in
4 -- that's why I went to the unit instead of working with the SDS. But in
5 the meantime I clarified my political position and began establishing the
6 Serb Radical Party of Republika Srpska. While I was in Vogosca as a
7 republican commissioner, I had a car at my disposal, of course, which was
8 owned by the Presidency of Republika Srpska. I used that car for party
9 purposes. Very often -- I often toured all of Republika Srpska in the
10 course of 1992, and in most municipalities I participated in the
11 establishing of the steering committees of the Serb Radical Party, but
12 this used up a lot of time, energy, and fuel. Of course I did not give up
13 my role as commissioner in Vogosca, which I visited from time to time,
14 because the commissioners I had -- which had been appointed were doing
15 their job, and it was not up to us to hold power there but, rather, to see
16 that the existing authorities were performing their duties in accordance
17 with the law. This is very briefly a sketch of my activities after April
19 Q. Thank you. Breaking that down, you began by telling the Chamber
20 that you were involved in logistical work in Pale. You did that in
21 conjunction with Mr. Divcic. Is that right?
22 A. Yes. When wartime operations began, there was a place called
23 Kikinda. It was a vacation hostel and it had been abandoned. There were
24 problems with the utilities there and the furnishings and so on --
25 Q. I'm going to stop you because Mr. Divcic has told this Chamber
1 about his activities there. It's right, isn't it, that he, as he in fact
2 told the Chamber, concentrated on such logistical work, but you, in due
3 course, started getting involved in more policy-orientated work in
4 conjunction with Professor Koljevic.
5 A. That's correct. Several days after that - I can't recall the
6 exact date now - President Karadzic arrived in Pale from Sarajevo. This
7 was not on the 6th of April but a few days after that, about a week
8 afterwards. Mr. Koljevic was there, and they had already agreed about the
9 distribution of certain duties. And I accepted Professor Koljevic's
10 suggestion that with him I should work on assessing international
11 relations, contacts, and correspondence. In connection with this, I had
12 daily meetings with Professor Koljevic where we discussed in great detail
13 the positions taken by the United Nations, the European Community, the
14 great powers, and so on, and discussing what our response should be. I
15 assume that this had an influence on Professor Koljevic's letters and
16 Professor Karadzic's letters, but I don't know how much of this is true
17 because Professor Koljevic spoke English very well. He had a degree in
18 English, and I did not look into his correspondence. But in any case my
19 activities were focussed on that area.
20 Up to a point, I was also active in organising the work of the
21 Serbian radio and television station in Pale, but about a month and a half
22 later, some problems emerged that had to do with humanitarian aid. This
23 could not be monitored. There were technical problems. How to establish
24 whether 20 trucks of humanitarian aid which had been sent had arrived at
25 their destination. There was no method I could use to establish that. As
1 the organs of the government had moved from Pale to Jahorina, it made work
2 even more difficult because there were only a few telephone lines that
3 could be used by the entire government there.
4 I was not happy with this state of affairs, and so I informed the
5 Prime Minister, and Professor Koljevic and I left to go to a unit. Maybe
6 I was not being objective, maybe it was not possible to organise things
7 otherwise, but it seemed to me that an extra effort should be invested
8 because some things were beginning to happen - I won't say it was criminal
9 activity - but things that it was difficult to monitor and track. So I
10 left Pale to go to that unit, but then when they called me back, I
11 returned, as I've already stated.
12 Q. I'd like you to deal briefly with the unit. The unit was where
13 physically, please?
14 A. It's north of Sarajevo. Its command post was some 10 kilometres
15 away from the town of Olovo. Formerly it was in a village called Nisici,
16 and the name of the unit was the Nisici Brigade. It was commanded by a
17 civilian, Slavko Kojic, and I spent about a fortnight or 20 days there,
18 helping him with advice in his command, advising him in his work, also
19 talking to the civilian refugees, because a large number of Croats had
20 fled through the territory of Nisici from Kiseljak and Visoko, and this
21 unit was giving them logistical aid, food and so on, and directing them in
22 the route they wanted to go. This unit was not at that time engaged in
23 military conflicts. We were dealing with problems that were a consequence
24 of the war: Feeding the population, dealing with refugees, finding
25 accommodation for people, and so on.
1 Q. For the avoidance of any doubt, did you join the army?
2 A. No. I joined the army only in 1994 when I was mobilised, as were
3 other military-age men. I was mobilised into the student brigade in
4 November 1994 as a university professor. Before that, I was working at
5 the university.
6 JUDGE ORIE: Judge Hanoteau would like to put a question to you.
7 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [Interpretation] Before we go any further, you
8 told us that you had helped Mr. Koljevic when you were with him, that you
9 also contributed to the work done by -- or for the radio and television in
10 Pale. Could you be more explicit. Could you give us some details as to
11 what your actual work was then.
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] What I was doing with Professor
13 Koljevic, it was analysing, commenting, harmonising attitudes towards the
14 position taken by the international factors, towards the Serbian people
15 and Republika Srpska. At that time the European Community, the United
16 Nations, and the great powers were putting forward various initiatives and
17 various evaluations of the leadership of --
18 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [Interpretation] Sorry for interrupting you. I
19 did understand what your work was with Mr. Koljevic, but you also said
20 that you participated in the work of the radio and television, or "I
21 contributed," "I helped," and I want to know exactly what you were doing
22 there. Thank you.
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] At the point in time I mentioned,
24 Serbian radio and television did not exist. We had to create the
25 conditions for it to start operating. We had to find premises. We had to
1 see whether it could be in the community club or somewhere else. We had
2 to find people who had previously worked in Sarajevo in Bosnia and
3 Herzegovina television and who had the necessary skills, who could see
4 where equipment could be obtained. We also had to gather together some
5 journalists. We had to get the Assembly organs to pass the necessary
6 documents. All this was very time-consuming and exhausting, and if you
7 don't have telephone lines, if transport is a problem, if you have to go
8 around looking for a person who's supposed to be at his work-place but is
9 not there for some reason, you use up a lot of time.
10 When a man arrived in Pale, a literary man called Todor Dutina,
11 who had experience with the media, he took over all this work. President
12 Karadzic tasked him to take over this job as the director, and my
13 obligations then ceased in that respect. Immediately after Mr. Dutina
14 took this over - I can't recall the exact date - the first signal
15 appeared. First SRNA began operating, the Serbian news agency, then
16 Serbian radio-television, then Serbian radio began operating, obviously as
17 a result of the hard work of Todor Dutina and his team. I made only the
18 first few steps, which were technical and logistical, but the actual
19 programme was something that was done by others.
20 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [No interpretation].
21 MR. JOSSE: Well, I was about to say given the long break I
22 earlier requested, I've lost track and I'm entirely in Your Honours'
24 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. Well, we could have a break now or somewhere
25 within the next five minutes.
1 MR. JOSSE: This would be a convenient moment.
2 JUDGE ORIE: This would be a convenient moment. We'll then have a
3 break and re-start at 20 minutes past 12.00.
4 --- Recess taken at 11.54 a.m.
5 --- On resuming at 12.28 p.m.
6 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Josse, please proceed.
7 MR. JOSSE:
8 Q. Mr. Poplasen, how did you get to hear that you were going to be
9 appointed a republican commissioner?
10 A. Well, yes, a commissioner, or an emissary you could say. But as
11 far as I remember, one of the drivers or a courier reached Nisici, where I
12 was staying, and informed me that Professor Koljevic had asked for me to
13 come to Pale as soon as possible. I can't remember what date it was, but
14 at any rate it must have been in the first half of June 1992. As I
15 arrived in Pale, Professor Koljevic told me about the initiative he had
16 launched and that he thought that a number of us were to assume the role.
17 He said that in his opinion these were people who would be able to
18 formulate the position of the state leadership of the Serbian Republic of
19 Bosnia-Herzegovina, which was renamed Republika Srpska. He also told me
20 that this was a role entailing coordination and investigation as to
21 whether the local authorities were acting within the constitutional
22 purview and to point to any deficiencies in their work.
23 This was necessary due to the fact that communication was very
24 bad. Communication lines were severed between the government and the
25 leadership of Republika Srpska and certain territories. Whenever the
1 lines were functioning, it was impossible to present a political view in
2 two minutes over the phone. That is why occasionally we had consultations
3 with members of the Presidency and the government of Republika Srpska who
4 were in charge of the work of commissioners. Following these
5 consultations, we would each go back to the municipalities we were in
6 charge of, take stock of the situation there, and report back to the
7 government accordingly. The emphasis was placed on something that I and
8 my party emphasised as important, which was the maintenance of the rule of
9 law and the effort to constitute the state on legal bases.
10 During any war, there are frequent instances of violations of
11 laws, and there is also the possibility for chaos to reign. I saw this as
12 one of the ways to prevent a chaotic situation and to constitute the state
13 along certain legal principles, but also to solve some specific problems
14 that the local authorities were unable to solve because of their very
15 infrequent contacts with the state leadership. That is why I accepted
16 Professor Koljevic's initiative and, as I've said, I received a written
17 and signed decision to that effect by the Presidency of the republic where
18 different commissions were listed and the roles of the commissions, as was
19 the role of myself as a commissioner. I went to Vogosca and reported to
20 the president of the Municipal Assembly and the president of the board.
21 Q. There's a lot of information there, Mr. Poplasen. Again, you've
22 dealt, in that long answer, with matters that I was going to turn to, so
23 that's very helpful. But just before you deal specifically with going to
24 Vogosca, I'd like you to have a look, please, at the minutes of the 5th
25 Session of the Presidency, copies of which I have for all concerned.
1 MR. JOSSE: Your Honour, this, I am told, is part of P64, P65.
2 The other copies were for the interpreters' booths, if it's thought
4 Q. We see at -- on this document that you were appointed a
5 commissioner, along with five other people who are named in the document.
6 Do you have any recollection whether you attended this session of the
8 A. No. I don't remember that. I did not attend meetings of the
9 republican Presidency. I don't recall being present; however, the minutes
10 seem to be reliable and are consistent with my knowledge. All the more so
11 because I was told the decision was taken on the 10th of June, and indeed
12 all of these six persons listed here are familiar to me. I know them and
13 they did assume their roles as commissioners, although on territories
14 different than mine. And it's on that basis that I conclude that the
15 minutes are reliable.
16 MR. JOSSE: I don't know whether I've got the exhibit number
17 wrong. I see Mr. Harmon helpfully assisting on that.
18 JUDGE ORIE: I think it's 529, tab 112.
19 MR. HARMON: I have P64, P65, Treanor 12, tab 157.
20 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, perhaps I may have confused the minutes with the
21 decision. So it's P64 Treanor, tab 17. In which binder, Mr. --
22 MR. HARMON: No, Your Honour, it's P64, and then it's P65, Treanor
23 12, tab 157.
24 JUDGE ORIE: Thank you for your assistance, Mr. Harmon.
25 MR. JOSSE:
1 Q. The next issue I'd like you to address is the term that was
2 applied to the job that you were given. In the English translation that I
3 have, it says: "A list was compiled of commissioners of the SBH state
4 leadership, the following persons are appointed commissioners."
5 On occasions we've heard the expression in English "war
6 commissioners." Is there any difference? Are we talking about the same
8 A. I think it's enough to say "commissioners," although war
9 commissioners were dubbed that way because the word "war" denotes the time
10 in which they were active. However, it's enough to say "commissioners."
11 That's to say, the emphasis is placed on the fact that they are
12 commissioners because they were not primarily concerned with war matters
13 in terms of being military personnel. They did not have any powers over
14 the army, and especially not in relation to war operations. It is true
15 that this was a time of war throughout the territory, almost, but it would
16 not be proper to tie these commissioners up primarily with war because
17 their duties were of a -- of a civil nature.
18 Q. You have already given us a description of the job and an
19 explanation as to why you took the assignment. You were about to tell us
20 about your going to Vogosca and how you put the job of a commissioner into
21 effect in that municipality. Please do so now.
22 A. To put it in several sentences, my duty was not to make any
23 decisions or determine any measures, but simply to gain insight into the
24 work of the local authorities. I made contact with the president of the
25 Municipal Assembly and the president of the Executive Board. I informed
1 them of the decision of the republican Presidency, which they accepted.
2 They informed me of the state of affairs in the municipality where, at the
3 time of my arrival there, there were occasional war conflicts along some
4 of the lines. And they were periodical. One could not say that they were
5 intense war operations or activities at the time that I arrived there;
6 however, they had quite a few difficulties with their communication lines
7 with the outside world.
8 There was one part of territory that was under the control of the
9 Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina. When you went from Sarajevo towards Vogosca,
10 there was the area around Olovo which was also under the control of the
11 Army of BiH. And there was a lateral route across a mountain which was
12 not easily trafficable. It was a dirt road. They had trouble bringing in
13 supplies and had a dearth of food and medical supplies. They had
14 difficulties in contacting whatever medical institutions were near when
15 they had the wounded coming in, and we were discussing about the possible
17 Another difficulty was that quite a few councilmen were either
18 away travelling or were wounded, some had been killed, and the Municipal
19 Assembly could not meet that often because they could not get in touch
20 with them. However, the Executive Board met at least once a week in -- it
21 met as a government, of course, but since there was a war on, it was also
22 able to discharge some of the duties of the local parliament. I took
23 stock of the situation and reported to Professor Koljevic, who was in
24 charge of following the work of the commissioners. As I've said, I
25 travelled quite often. I would go to Vogosca on some such matter.
1 Since the commission itself was also set up, some of the persons
2 who were quite active in Vogosca were deemed by me to be appropriate for
3 that function. I provided Professor Koljevic with their names, and in my
4 absence they were able to implement all the duties that were provided for
5 the commission, and that's the way the work was done in Vogosca.
6 Q. You observed a dispute of a trivial nature between the president
7 of the Municipal Assembly in Vogosca and the president of the Executive
8 Council, and presumably tried to resolve that. Is that correct?
9 A. That's correct. Between Mr. Stanic, who was president of the
10 Municipal Assembly, and Mr. Koprivica. There was not -- you wouldn't be
11 able to call it a conflict, but there was this friction which had to do
12 with the work of the Municipal Assembly and the work of the Executive
13 Board. Mr. Stanic wanted the Assembly to meet, but he simply could not be
14 reasoned with. If he was unable to summon the minimum of deputies after
15 having sent five invitations to them, then he had to simply come to terms
16 with the fact that the Municipal Assembly cannot meet and that, in the
17 absence of these sessions, the Executive Board could not simply -- not do
18 anything. Mr. Stanic eventually came to terms with this and placed
19 himself at the disposal of the work of the Executive Board and the local
20 leadership, although it took several meetings between Mr. Koprivica and
21 Mr. Stanic in order for them to understand that any conflict is only
22 superfluous and that the matter had to be solved.
23 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, Judge Hanoteau would like to put a question to
24 the witness.
25 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [Interpretation] Just a question. You said when
1 Mr. Josse talked about the republican commissioner. You said:
2 "Commissioner or emissary."
3 What exactly did that mean for you? It seems that you made an
4 analogy between those two words "commissioner" and "emissary."
5 Could you please explain this. Thank you.
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] When one says "komesar" it reminds
7 one of the communist times where a komesar had the duty to assess people
8 in moral and political terms and to produce his own opinions about the
9 person. So under the system where -- from which I come from, the term
10 "komesar" "commissioner," has that connotation, whereas the other term in
11 B/C/S "povjerenik," commissioner is a person who simply needs to
12 accurately report on whatever he was tasked with to his superior body
13 without changing the status quo in terms of legal regulations. This was
14 our idea, that whatever could not be reported on in writing had to be
15 reported on verbally. We -- our point of departure was that there were
16 regulations governing the work of the local authorities, and we as
17 commissioners were supposed to double-check whether the existing
18 regulations were being consistently applied rather than introduce anything
19 new. We had to double-check whether the local authorities acted in
20 keeping with the regulations existing in Republika Srpska. If they are
21 found not to do so, our duty was first to caution the local authorities
22 about this and then the republican bodies, which were supposed to act on
23 it from there. We did not have the authority to issue any orders.
24 However, the local authorities were very well aware of the fact - at
25 least, this was the way things were supposed to be - that after our
1 intervention it was the Presidency or the government's turn to intervene.
2 Our requests were logical and based on law, and it was a much better
3 course of action for them to accept these comments of ours.
4 The B/C/S term "komesar," to me, means something completely else,
5 quite an arbitrary way of proceeding and looking for -- or rather, a
6 fault-finding activity, rather than that which was issued to a
8 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [Interpretation] Well, you said there were very
9 few lines of communication, just a few telephone lines. So those
10 emissaries, wasn't it their job to circulate the instructions coming from
11 central power? Since there were no lines of communication, wasn't that
12 their job, the job of the emissary?
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, it was one of the tasks. If no
14 other way was possible, then they would bring a piece of paper containing
15 the given regulation or simply verbally inform them of regulations. There
16 were people in the local authorities who were perhaps assigned to some
17 other tasks, war assignments and so on and so forth. We as commissioners
18 had that sole task, to report on the accurate situation from the ground to
19 the republican level and then go back to the local level and inform them
20 of the outcome of this consultation. In some instances the local
21 authorities would not be aware of there having been a regulation passed.
22 There was need to inform them thereof because in some cases the Official
23 Gazette was unable to travel as fast to these areas.
24 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [Interpretation] Yes, but when you're answering my
25 questioning, saying in English: "It was one of our tasks. If no other
1 way was possible, then they would bring a piece of paper ..." and so on.
2 Did it ever happen personally that you -- that you had to actually
3 bring to Vogosca decisions or pieces of paper, as you say, on behalf of
4 central power to Vogosca?
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I know of such instances in some
6 other municipalities. I personally did not have need to act that way, but
7 I personally reported to the government and Presidency of Republika Srpska
8 on the situation in Vogosca. As far as I knew, the Executive Board
9 operated in satisfactory terms, given the general situation. That's why I
10 did not have any need for any additional interventions.
11 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [Interpretation] I'm sorry to be so lengthy,
12 Mr. Josse.
13 There's a sentence that you said, in English, you said that: "The
14 commission itself was -- the commission itself was set up and it was
15 deemed for the function ..." and so on.
16 Does that mean that on-site a commission was set up? What did you
17 mean by that? You recommended people who were very active, as you say in
18 English: "... deemed by me as appropriate for that function." What did
19 you mean by that exactly?
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Aside from me as the commissioner of
21 the Presidency of Republika Srpska, a local commission was set up based on
22 my proposal. There was me and there were four more people from the local
23 community. I put their names on paper, and I sent the paper to Professor
24 Koljevic, and these people were appointed municipal commissioners by
25 Professor Koljevic on the basis of my initiative. They had the same role
1 as the one described for a commissioner, which does not mean that they
2 didn't have other duties within the Municipal Assembly or Executive Board.
3 Whenever I went to Vogosca, these people would be there to inform me on
4 whatever matter interested me.
5 Interestingly enough, Vogosca is a municipality of Sarajevo and it
6 was physically easier for them to reach Pale, where the Presidency was
7 housed, unlike some commissioners that was a hundred kilometres away from
8 Pale. This was also the reason why it did not take them as long to get
9 hold of Official Gazettes with new regulations. In these other cases
10 where the municipalities were further off, then the republican
11 commissioner had to take a hard copy of these regulations with him and
12 visit the municipality.
13 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [Interpretation] Who were the four members of this
14 commission? Not the names, but who were the -- their position? Who were
15 those people? Where did they come from?
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] In the documentation I noticed that
17 there was this decision with the names. These were people who lived and
18 worked in the Vogosca area.
19 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [Interpretation] What was their position, their
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] You see, I don't recall what their
22 functions before the appointment as commissioners were; I only know that I
23 wanted one of them to be a lawyer, the other one to be an economist, the
24 other one -- the third one to have public relations experience. I wanted
25 to have people from all walks of life so that I could rely on them and on
1 the information they provide me with. I think that I've been more or less
2 correct in naming their professions. I believe that they were within
3 these same professions before they were appointed commissioners in their
4 municipality and they were familiar with the people in the municipality.
5 They knew the area. To me it was a totally new environment because I had
6 not been to Vogosca before the war.
7 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [Interpretation] So we're very clear: They had no
8 real power except that they could control whether what the administration
9 was doing was in accordance with the regulation. That's all they did.
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] That's correct, but perhaps I should
11 add that they also had to coordinate among them to see whether what was
12 done was in accordance with the regulations and to coordinate between
13 their level and the republican bodies, but they did not have any powers
14 because they were not given any by the law. The regulations governing
15 local authorities were a different matter, and they had to be abided by.
16 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [Interpretation] Thank you.
17 JUDGE ORIE: I have a few follow-up questions in this respect.
18 Mr. Poplasen, you told us that you tried to find people from all
19 kind of backgrounds. Was there any officer, military officer, in the war
20 commission appointed in Vogosca, in the area where you worked?
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. There was a colonel who was
22 close to retirement age and who was not a brigade commander but had an
23 unusual coordinating role, in my view. His role was to evaluate the
24 military operations on that territory, and as I knew the man from before
25 the war because he used to teach in the Department for National Defence at
1 the faculty of political sciences, I put him in the committee to report to
2 me on military affairs. The other members were not in the military, nor
3 did they participate in the work. Colonel Vukovic's task was to evaluate
4 the situation and report to me on the problems that arose. I was
5 primarily interested in problems of logistics, health care in the
6 military, and so on.
7 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. Yes. Was there any -- you emphasised that the
8 commission was very much focussing on the legality of the local
9 government. Did they in any way have any role in supporting the -- the
10 military, or was it totally separate?
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The military and military activities
12 were a separate matter. What does "providing assistance to the military"
13 mean? The members of the units in the area of Vogosca were mainly
14 civilians who were mobilised locally and who belonged to those battalions
15 and the Vogosca Brigade.
16 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. Was there any role for the war commissions in
17 whatever relation with military matters?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Perhaps, if obtaining food and other
19 material for the population and the military is part of military activity.
20 The civilian authorities, including the commission, had to make sure there
21 was no hunger in the area. One cannot say that food was not distributed
22 to everyone, including members of the military. But the commission had
23 nothing to do with issues such as fuel, ammunition, or weapons.
24 JUDGE ORIE: Was this a specific task to the commission or was it
25 just your interpretation of -- that no one should suffer any hunger?
1 THE WITNESS: [Microphone not activated]
2 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone for the witness, please.
3 JUDGE ORIE: Microphone.
4 Madam Usher, could you please assist the witness.
5 There seems to be a problem with the -- is it plugged in properly,
6 Madam Usher?
7 THE WITNESS: [Microphone not activated]
8 [Interpretation] Can you hear me now?
9 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, I can hear you now.
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] In my assessment, it was not humane
11 to have someone go hungry if such a situation can be avoided.
12 JUDGE ORIE: My question was not whether you would personally
13 decide for someone to starve, but my question was whether this kind of
14 support for the military was a specific task of the commission or that it
15 was just your own interpretation of what was humane.
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, it was not a specific task, for
17 the commission to look after meals for the soldiers. We didn't even have
18 any insight into their food situation. It was the general food situation
19 in the municipality because communications had been cut off, as had
21 JUDGE ORIE: So the conditions of work for the military was not an
22 official part of your job?
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, it wasn't.
24 JUDGE ORIE: If I look at the -- the decision of the 10th of June,
25 decision of the same date by which you were appointed, and let me just
1 read part of what war commissions should do, and I'm referring to P529,
2 tab 112. It reads: "They shall cooperate with the authorities with a
3 view to creating conditions for the work of military organs and units
4 engaged in defending the Serbian people."
5 That sounds a bit different from the answer you just gave. Could
6 you assist me in reconciling them.
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] They shall cooperate on creating the
8 conditions. This can mean that a building has to be provided for the
9 command, or perhaps an outpatients clinic, a field hospital --
10 JUDGE ORIE: Let me please -- I do understand. That's exactly
11 why, when I put the question to you, I said: "So the conditions of work
12 for the military was not an official part of your job?"
13 Your answer was: "No, it wasn't."
14 Now you start explaining what it was. Now you say they shall
15 cooperate on creating the conditions, whereas in my earlier question I
16 referred to those conditions and you said it was not an official part of
17 the job. I mean, I do understand what creating conditions could mean;
18 that it could be -- well, whatever, a building, food, a field hospital.
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I don't understand your additional
20 question, Your Honour.
21 JUDGE ORIE: Well, you earlier answered to my question that there
22 were in no way -- it was in no way part of the job -- let me just read it
23 literally. I asked you: "So the conditions of work for the military was
24 not an official part of your job?"
25 And of course I was referring to your job as a state commissioner.
1 Your answer was: "No, it wasn't."
2 Now, being confronted with these lines of a decision by which war
3 commissions are created, you start explaining how the commissions were
4 part of the job by explaining that it could be providing for building or
5 outpatients clinic, et cetera. So I have some difficulties in reconciling
6 your earlier answer with the last one.
7 MR. JOSSE: Your Honour.
8 JUDGE ORIE: Yes.
9 MR. JOSSE: In my submission, it would help if the witness could
10 be shown the document.
11 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, well, of course we could try to -- Mr. Usher --
12 Mr. Registrar, could you find P -- you might not have it here, but you can
13 find it on -- perhaps print that out. It's P529, 112.1. It's a tif file
14 which, if you move to your computer, Q drive, Exhibits, 112.1.
15 MR. HARMON: Your Honour.
16 JUDGE ORIE: Yes.
17 MR. HARMON: Sorry, we are in the position to broadcast the B/C/S
18 version on the screen, if that would be of assistance.
19 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, we could do that as well, but I see -- yes, and
20 rightly, Mr. Registrar, you ignored whatever I said about the English
21 version because it would not assist the witness very much, although he
22 might read English.
23 Witness, could you please - and that's what my question was about
24 - read the last sentence of Article 3 of this decision of the 10th of
25 June, 1992.
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] "The war commission shall cooperate
2 with the organs of authority on creating conditions for the military
4 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. And last part of the sentence, "and ..."
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It's article 4. "And units in the
6 defence of the Serbian people."
7 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, the units in the defence. So when I asked you
8 whether the creation of conditions for the work or the conditions for the
9 work of military organs were of any concern to the commissioners, you
10 said, no, it was not, whereas from this part of this decision I understand
11 that it was part of their official task, to cooperate in creation -- in
12 the creation of such conditions.
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] If I may make an observation.
14 JUDGE ORIE: Yes.
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] In my initial response I explained
16 the answer to your question very well. When I speak of the conditions of
17 work, what I mean is that the fighters and their family members should not
18 go hungry. If the military command wants to move into a school, then a
19 decision has to be issued. That means conditions.
20 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. My next question then was whether this was an
21 official task of such a commission or whether it was just your
22 interpretation of humanity. You said it was not an official task. Then I
23 asked: So the conditions were not of your concern, and then you said:
24 No, they were not, whereas I now confront you with a document which says
25 that this was an official task and not just consideration of humanitarian
1 concern -- a personal consideration of humanitarian concern. But let's
2 move on.
3 Mr. Josse.
4 MR. JOSSE:
5 Q. Do you want, Mr. Poplasen, to comment on the assertion the learned
6 Judge has just made?
7 A. Yes. This interpretation of -- my interpretation of the word
8 "humane" and the tasks here is a little exaggerated. Should people die of
9 hunger or not. Eliminating hunger; is this something that is simply a
10 humanitarian approach or is it implementation of Article 3? The essence
11 of the problem was that the commission did not have any war tasks. But
12 when war operations are underway, everything has to do with war. The
13 music that is played on the radio can be linked up to the war because it
14 creates a certain mood or a certain attitude. You can interpret this ad
15 infinitum. It doesn't say here anywhere that the commission has any
16 military tasks. If civilian authorities have to issue a document, handing
17 over a school to the army rather than having the army take it by force,
18 that's not what is meant by military tasks. And other regulations have to
19 be passed. The army decides how long it will keep the building; that's
20 how I understand conditions, not in any other way. When I said that we
21 had no competences over the military, I was referring to planning,
22 military operations, decisions as to who would participate in a military
23 operation, when it would be carried out, by what means, supplies of
24 weapons and ammunitions, command over the units, forming units, and so on
25 and so forth. These are all military matters. I accept if a building, a
1 premises, a food, health care, information, if these are considered to be
2 conditions for military activity, then, yes, I accept this.
3 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Poplasen, the matter is clear enough.
4 Mr. Josse, please proceed.
5 MR. JOSSE:
6 Q. Are you able to help the Chamber with how often you were in
7 Vogosca at the time you were a commissioner?
8 A. One might say that I was not performing my duty properly because,
9 as I explained, I was making use of the car and the fuel to tour the
10 republic and set up branches of the Serb Radical Party. I would spend a
11 few days in Vogosca, then be absent for a week or two or three, and this
12 was observed by other people in the commission and the civilian
13 leadership. Of course while I was there, if I noticed anything where I
14 felt to intervene -- I had to intervene, I did intervene. But you could
15 say that I was there quite rarely, not really often.
16 Q. Whilst you were there, did you observe at any time a place of
17 either detention or collection of Muslim civilians?
18 A. Yes. In the town of Vogosca, on the outskirts of the town, I went
19 to have coffee and a brief conversation in a former restaurant or cafe
20 called Sonja, or Sanja, or something like that. Mr. Vlace [phoen] was
21 there; he was allegedly the warden. I parked the car in the parking lot
22 in front of the establishment, and different people went in and out. I
23 noticed Serb soldiers and people who might be described as prisoners or
24 detainees, but they moved about quite freely. There was no armed guard in
25 front of the building and there were no armed guards inside. The soldiers
1 who were carrying weapons had them slung over their shoulders as part of
2 their baggage. While I was having this conversation, I understood that
3 there was certain people there who were occasionally sent to do work duty
4 and that they were in some sort of transit. I don't know to where, but
5 they were not obliged to stay in their rooms, they were not under very
6 strict supervision, and they were able to move around to a certain extent.
7 The problem of food was touched upon. I assumed that these were Muslims
8 who wanted to leave Vogosca for one reason or another, and they happened
9 to be there while waiting. I drew attention to the problem of food, and
10 then we reached some decisions about supplies for the whole town, of
11 finding new means to supply the town.
12 This is what I observed. My impression was that this was some
13 kind of detention centre or prison because people were collected there and
14 they were under control, although not with weapons. So I wrote a letter
15 to the Ministry of Justice of Republika Srpska in which I expressly asked
16 that this institution, which I described in my letter, had to be either
17 disbanded, or -- I don't remember exactly what I said but it must still
18 exist somewhere, or that it should be integrated into the judicial system
19 of Republika Srpska. My proposal was that this should be treated as part
20 of a prison which existed from before in the Serbian part of Sarajevo,
21 which had its regulations, its staff, its premises, and that it should be
22 regulated in this manner. I think I sent a copy of this letter to
23 Mr. Koljevic also. In any case, it was forwarded to the Ministry of
24 Justice and, to the best of my knowledge, the Ministry of Justice
25 responded to this fact.
1 Q. What do you mean by "responded to this fact"?
2 A. I mean that they issued the appropriate decisions; i.e., they
3 integrated this -- these premises into the prison system of Republika
4 Srpska, thereby including it in the system of rules and regulations. I
5 was not able to follow this up in detail because it was already the summer
6 of 1992, and the commission was abolished at the end of that year and I
7 had nothing further to do with the organs of Republika Srpska; I was doing
8 something quite different after that.
9 MR. JOSSE: Could the witness be shown P379, which I know the
10 registrar very helpfully has to hand. Probably best to put it on the
11 ELMO, please.
12 Q. Is that the place -- my microphone is off? My microphone is
13 permanently on, the red light is permanently on.
14 That one doesn't work at all; the red light is not on at all. And
15 on these two, the red light is on permanently.
16 JUDGE ORIE: Well, use the one to the extent possible --
17 MR. JOSSE: If I can be heard, Your Honour, I'll go on.
18 JUDGE ORIE: I have no problems hearing you, but the interpreters
19 need to hear you.
20 MR. JOSSE: Very well.
21 Q. Looking at the photograph, Mr. Poplasen, which is P379, is that
22 the place that you are -- have just been talking about?
23 A. No, no. The building I mentioned looked quite different; there
24 was no fence around it either. And architecturally it didn't even
25 resemble this building.
1 Q. Does that building remind you of anything, ring any bells,
2 something you've seen before, anything that might assist the Chamber?
3 A. It doesn't remind me of anything. This is a typical building such
4 as the buildings built by migrant workers who return from abroad and then
5 build a huge house with ten rooms that they never use. Houses like that
6 can be found everywhere, all over the place.
7 Q. Thank you.
8 MR. JOSSE: Since I've referred to that particular exhibit, Your
9 Honour, I'll deal, if I may, with a topic slightly out of turn because I
10 think it will make a little bit more sense.
11 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, please do so, but could we first -- let me just
12 see whether I missed something. The name of the warden of the prison was
13 -- I might have missed it. You may have said it.
14 MR. JOSSE: The witness did say it, Your Honour, but in fact it
15 was transcribed, understandably, wrongly. The name was Brano Vlaco,
16 V-l-a-c-o, in Latin.
17 Q. Is that correct, Mr. Poplasen?
18 A. Yes, yes, that's correct.
19 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, please proceed.
20 MR. JOSSE:
21 Q. Does the name Ramiz Juzik [phoen] mean anything to you?
22 A. No, I've never heard that name before. I don't know any person
23 called that. I have never either met or heard of anyone with that name.
24 Q. At any time in 1992, did you visit the Rajlovac barracks?
25 A. I think I understand your question. In the course of 1992, I did
1 not visit the Rajlovac barracks or any barracks. I did not enter any
2 barracks, any place where soldiers sleep or are trained, either in
3 Rajlovac or any other place.
4 Q. It's been alleged in this courtroom that you in common with --
5 along with Mirko Krajisnik and someone called Vlasto Apostolski visited
6 those barracks on the 7th of August, 1992, and viewed a man who had been
7 severely beaten. What do you say to that allegation?
8 A. The name of Mirko Apostolski [as interpreted] doesn't mean
9 anything to me. I don't know the person. As for Mr. Mirko Krajisnik, I
10 met him later. I don't think it happened in 1992, but rather in 1993.
11 And this meeting of ours was very brief and very fleeting. Somebody
12 introduced him to me as Mirko Krajisnik --
13 THE INTERPRETER: The witness's microphone is off again.
14 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, it seems to be on again, but there seems to be
15 some secret powers controlling our microphones at this moment.
16 Mr. Josse, may I draw your attention to the fact that on the
17 transcript it appears that in your question a Vlasto Apostolski was
18 mentioned whereas the witness responded in relation to a Mirko Apostolski.
19 MR. JOSSE: Thank you, Your Honour. I noticed that.
20 Q. Let's be clear about it: Does the name Vlasto Apostolski mean
21 anything to you?
22 A. Obviously I have to repeat this: The name of Vlatko [as
23 interpreted] Apostolski doesn't mean anything to me.
24 Q. That's fine. Thank you. You told us about Mirko Krajisnik. Is
25 there any truth in your visiting the Rajlovac barracks and viewing,
1 sadistically almost, the man who'd been beaten?
2 A. That's a complete fabrication. I didn't see the man, I didn't go
3 to the barracks, I didn't know and I don't know the man Apostolski,
4 whereas I met Mirko Krajisnik later.
5 Q. I'm going to move on, if I may. The next issue I'd like you to
6 address is one you have alluded to, and that is your decision to form the
7 Serbian Radical Party. Why did you feel it was necessary to form that
8 political party?
9 A. The problem is how to answer your questions -- question in under
10 45 minutes. The first reason is that, in my opinion, pluralism was needed
11 in Republika Srpska because the SDS rule, even though there was a war on,
12 reminded me of the one-party system we had in the socialist system.
13 The second reason is that my assessment was that in 1992 the
14 Serbian issue was not resolved --
15 THE INTERPRETER: Again the microphone seems to be switching off.
16 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, there is a technical problem with our
17 microphones, because I can't switch mine off -- on. There seems to be a
18 general problem in controlling microphones. I specifically ask the
19 attention of the technicians for that. Let's try to see whether we can
20 continue for the next ten minutes, but if it becomes hopeless -- I'll keep
21 mine on, then that's the safest, from what I understand. Perhaps if we
22 don't touch them, nothing will change. But first of all, we now should
23 take care that the witness's microphone is functioning. Let me see.
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I think it's working.
25 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, it's -- I'm afraid that I was at the basis of it
1 all, my block note being half on the priority button. I apologise, and
2 I'll never take priority --
3 MR. JOSSE: I've succeeded in being shut out now, Your Honour,
4 have I?
5 JUDGE ORIE: Yes.
6 MR. JOSSE: Yes.
7 Q. Mr. Poplasen, you have given us the first reason for setting up
8 your political party. So far as the second reason is concerned, you were
9 saying that in 1992 the Serbian issue was not resolved. Please go on.
10 A. In 1992, in my assessment, the circumstances in Bosnia and
11 Herzegovina, in the Balkans, and in the area in general, the resolution of
12 the Serbian national issue was going to take quite a long time, several
13 decades, including all the other outstanding issues in the Balkans. That
14 was why I was convinced that we have to have a very clear-cut orientation
15 for the future. The policy had to be well-rounded and well-thought out
16 because the next decade was the one where one could expect tensions,
17 conflicts, and the expression of interests -- of some traditional
18 interests of some of the countries around the Balkans, and I'm referring
19 primarily to German and the Vatican.
20 The third reason is one we already mentioned, which is that the
21 SDS, which had formed legitimate government, having won the elections, had
22 occasionally deviated from its policies. I think we've mentioned that
24 The fourth reason was that, in my assessment, in this period of
25 time the Serbian Radical Party in Yugoslavia, not to say in Serbia, was
1 the party that best formulated the policy that I found acceptable, and
2 that was the Serbian Radical Party with its leader, Vojislav Seselj.
3 And lastly, the fifth reason was that, morally speaking, I could
4 not accept leaving Republika Srpska by car or by bus and accepting some
5 comfortable position as a lecturer somewhere, which was quite easily
6 available to me. I was offered such a job in Belgrade. I simply could
7 not agree to abandon my people and the community I lived in. When you
8 look at all these reasons together, it was for these reasons that I worked
9 in Republika Srpska to set up all the different branch offices in the
10 lead-up to the inaugural session of the party.
11 In early 1993, I had already taken up employment with the faculty
12 in Banja Luka, and on the 20th of March, 1993, the inaugural session of
13 the Assembly of the Serbian Radical Party was held. At this inaugural
14 session, where I was elected president of the party, some of the names of
15 the commissioners we saw on the list there, one of them was vice-president
16 of the party and another one was general secretary of the party. In
17 addition to the jobs we had, like my employment with the faculty, we
18 intensely worked on the political platform of our party. As an opposition
19 party, we were also in a position to criticise the Serbian Democratic
20 Party. Quite often, we exaggerated in our criticism for propaganda
22 Already in 1994, we assessed that we were quite highly rated as a
23 party by the population of Republika Srpska, and we started insisting the
24 general elections being called. This was one of the reasons why, although
25 on quite a rarely -- rare basis, I demanded that I meet with the --
1 Mr. Krajisnik, who was speaker of the Assembly, as president of my party.
2 And on several occasions, I also asked to meet with President Karadzic,
3 although, admittedly, I went to see him as part of a delegation of the
4 Serbian Radical Party as a whole.
5 The leadership of the Serbian Radical Party, which had already
6 become a parliamentary party in Serbia - I'm referring to the one led by
7 Vojislav Seselj - this party would come to visit Republika Srpska, and I
8 would be part of that delegation because I was at the same time
9 vice-president of the whole party. It is true that our head office was in
10 Belgrade, and this was called the central party administration for all the
11 offices. And I was vice-president of this central party, of which
12 Mr. Vojislav Seselj was president, and at the same time I was president of
13 the Serbian Radical Party of Republika Srpska.
14 There was this legal play, we could call it that. Since we had
15 accepted the legitimacy of Serbian Democratic Party, which had in turn
16 apparently accepted the recognition of Bosnia-Herzegovina, maybe not in a
17 decision but through it's conduct, we registered the party in Republika
18 Srpska, that's why it's called the Serbian Radical Party of Republika
19 Srpska, and formally speaking, it was independent. Formally speaking, I
20 did not have any ties with the Serbian Radical Party and Vojislav Seselj.
21 However, we had this central administration, central homeland
22 administration, of which I was a member. So formally we were only linked
23 to this administration because had we been established as a party from a
24 different country, we would not have been able to take part in the
25 elections. That is why we formally registered there. And we exerted
1 pressure for the general elections to be called.
2 President Karadzic had quite a few harsh statements leveled
3 against our party, maybe it was motivated by the fact that our party was
4 quite popular. At any rate, in this dynamics, our party grew and the
5 elections kept being postponed. In our constant press releases, we
6 criticised steps taken by the Serbian Democratic Party. And one of the
7 targets of our criticism was the Socialist Party and President Milosevic.
8 The crucial parts of our criticism are explained in -- can be deduced from
9 my numerous statements and books which I wrote and which contain some of
10 my public statements from the period, that's to say between 1992 and 1995.
11 There are several books dealing with these events alone. There were
12 three key issues why we criticised the Serbian Democratic Party and
13 Belgrade, and so on and so forth. I already mentioned one.
14 Q. I'm going to stop you there because in fact that was my very next
15 question. I was going to ask you what your dispute was with the SDS.
16 MR. JOSSE: I see the time and I'll resume tomorrow with that
17 question, if I may, Your Honour.
18 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, you may.
19 We'll first ask the witness to be escorted out of the courtroom,
20 but before doing so, Mr. Poplasen, I would like to instruct you not to
21 speak with anyone about the testimony you have given until now and you're
22 still about to give tomorrow.
23 Madam Usher, could you please escort Mr. Poplasen out of the
25 We'd like to see you back, Mr. Poplasen, tomorrow morning --
1 MR. JOSSE: Afternoon --
2 JUDGE ORIE: -- afternoon at quarter past 2.00. Yes.
3 [The witness stands down]
4 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Josse, could you give us an estimate on how much
5 time you'd still need.
6 MR. JOSSE: Your Honour, I'm bound to be another session, I'm
8 JUDGE ORIE: Yes.
9 MR. JOSSE: I'm glad Your Honour's raised the issue in the absence
10 of the witness. I was in two minds whether I should, because of course
11 I'm aware that the Defence don't have any other witnesses in The Hague --
12 JUDGE ORIE: Yes.
13 MR. JOSSE: -- and the Court is going to need to make a decision
14 about Friday. But I suspect the decision is made, based on what I've just
16 JUDGE ORIE: I noticed that many of the answers very often go with
17 some detail into areas which seems not always to be relevant. Of course,
18 it's difficult for me to forecast at this moment how important any
19 conflict with other parties was, because it's not the position of the
20 party of the witness that is the core of what we would like to hear about,
21 but of course we can never exclude that from this conflict.
22 MR. JOSSE: Well, I --
23 JUDGE ORIE: It appears what the other parties --
24 MR. JOSSE: Could I just tell the Court what my thinking is on
25 that? I would imagine the Prosecution are bound to ask the witness what
1 he thought was wrong with the SDS, for I'm anxious to deal with it first.
2 He's going to cross-examine after. It's, in my submission, a fairly core
3 issue and this witness is well-known as a fierce critic, on occasions, of
4 the SDS, and a critic of what they did in 1992. Therefore, in my
5 submission, it's pretty pertinent.
6 JUDGE ORIE: Well, I'm -- without knowing the type of criticism,
7 it's of course difficult for this Chamber to form any opinion about it,
8 and the Chamber of course does not want to form any opinion about it
9 before we have heard the testimony of the witness. But you are the one
10 who would know best how relevant it is. I noticed that very often the
11 witness goes on and goes on.
12 MR. JOSSE: Yes, he --
13 JUDGE ORIE: And then I hesitate to stop him and ask you whether
14 these were exactly the issues you would like to have raised in your next
16 MR. JOSSE: Not really, although the only thing I would say,
17 particularly about this witness, is he does tend to cover matters which I
18 would have had to come to in due course. So very little of what he says
19 is superfluous in the submission that I make.
20 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. Well, let's try to see how we can deal with the
21 -- his examination as efficiently as possible tomorrow.
22 Mr. Harmon, may I take it, although I'm aware of the unpleasant
23 situation the Prosecution finds itself in in this respect, that you could
24 cross-examine the witness tomorrow once Mr. Josse has finished?
25 MR. HARMON: We will be in a position to start our
1 cross-examination, yes, Your Honour.
2 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. Thank you very much. Then we will adjourn
3 until tomorrow, quarter past 2.00, same courtroom.
4 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1.48 p.m.,
5 to be reconvened on Thursday, the 9th day of
6 March, 2006, at 2.15 p.m.