1 Tuesday, 18th August 1998
2 (Open session)
3 (The accused entered court)
4 --- Upon commencing at 9.34 a.m.
5 THE REGISTRAR: Case number IT-95-16-T, the
6 Prosecutor versus Zoran Kupreskic, Mirjan Kupreskic,
7 Vlatko Kupreskic, Drago Josipovic, Dragan Papic, and
8 Vladimir Santic, alias Vlado.
9 JUDGE CASSESE: Mr. Moskowitz, you may, of
10 course, resume your examination-in-chief. May I ask
11 you and the witness to be so kind as to speak slowly,
12 and particularly the witness, after you put your
13 question, should wait for half a minute, so that the
14 interpreters can translate, interpret everything into
15 French and Serbo-Croatian. Thank you.
16 MR. MOSKOWITZ: Thank you, Mr. President.
17 Q. Now, Colonel Watters, we left off yesterday,
18 I believe, with your having described the situation as
19 it occurred to you the morning of April 16th, 1993, in
20 the Vitez headquarters, where you were receiving
21 reports of firing and fighting. Could you tell us
22 again the nature of those reports that you were
23 receiving that morning as you were in the ops room of
24 your headquarters in Vitez?
25 A. Yes, sir. The initial reports came from
1 static positions that we had and included reports or a
2 report from the Dutch transport squadron near Santici
3 and our own logistic base outside Vitez. The reports
4 centred on widespread fighting or shooting, a great
5 deal of houses on fire up and down the Lasva Valley,
6 and what was most puzzling of all were reports of large
7 mortar and artillery exchanges or shootings; between
8 200 and 300 artillery and mortar rounds had landed that
9 morning in the area of Vitez and its environs.
10 Q. At that time, as you were receiving those
11 reports, did you have a clear sense of what, in fact,
12 was going on in the Lasva Valley?
13 A. No, we didn't, sir. We couldn't work out
14 what on earth was happening initially in the early
15 hours of the 16th. The scale of the fighting had taken
16 us totally by surprise. As I explained, our focus at
17 that time was really in Tuzla and the fighting in
18 eastern Bosnia between the Serbs and the BiH, and the
19 evacuation of injured and civilians from Srbrenica
20 which our "C" company was doing at that time.
21 Q. Did you then take steps to determine what, in
22 fact, was going on, and I know yesterday you talked
23 about sending out reconnaissance missions, but now I am
24 speaking about steps that you personally took so that
25 you could assure yourself as to what was happening in
1 the Lasva Valley?
2 A. At approximately 8.00 or 8.30, I decided to
3 take a patrol out myself to get a feel for what the
4 substance was that our reconnaissance patrols had been
6 Q. Now, let me stop you there for a moment.
7 Would that have been unusual for you to actually leave
8 the operations room while your superior commander was
9 not in the operations room?
10 A. It would be unusual, sir, but as the
11 commanding officer was in Zenica, I was the de facto
12 commanding officer and felt that I had to go and get a
13 feel on the ground for what was going on.
14 Q. Continue.
15 A. I took a Warrior patrol, Warrior being our
16 armoured fighting vehicle, I took a patrol of, I think,
17 two or four Warriors, and went through Vitez and down
18 the valley, I think as far as the turning up to Jelinak
19 or the junction with Busovaca, I can't exactly remember
20 how far away, but I went a way down the valley, and
21 then returned via Vitez where we contacted the brigade
22 commander for the HVO forces in Vitez and the town
23 commander for the BiH forces in Vitez.
24 Q. Now, as you travelled through the town of
25 Vitez, taking that area first, could you describe what
1 you saw as you went down the road through Vitez, and
2 perhaps it might be illustrative of your testimony if
3 you could, with the permission of the Court, go to
4 Exhibit 1, which is the big area map of the Lasva River
5 Valley and describe what you saw by showing us the
6 route you took along the Lasva Valley, if you would,
7 with the permission of the Court? Yes, you may go.
8 A. Sir, I came out of our base at Bila school
9 and travelled up the road towards Vitez, took the right
10 fork here to go into Vitez town, and when I got to -- I
11 went past our own base here, our logistic base, drove
12 into the town, and from about this point here, I could
13 see great palls of smoke coming from the centre of the
14 town, but there were no signs of fighting in the
15 outskirts here.
16 As I drove through the outskirts, we then
17 came into the rear of the Muslim area of Vitez, Stari
18 Vitez, and there was considerable fighting and sniping
19 against our own vehicles as we moved across the
20 interface between the Croat part of the town and the
21 Muslim part of the town.
22 The contrast on crossing the line of battle
23 here was quite stark in that the centre of Vitez, Stari
24 Vitez, looked like a battle ground. There were rocket
25 launcher hits on the houses, there were an awful lot of
1 bullet strikes on the fronts of the houses, there were
2 dead bodies in the streets and dead bodies hanging out
3 of windows, certainly one is very vivid to me, and
4 there weren't massive amounts of bodies, probably about
5 seven, ten bodies within that area of the street.
6 I didn't turn left or right into the streets
7 because we were closed down, and our vision, when we
8 have the components on our vehicles closed, is quite
9 restricted and we were frightened that we would cause
10 great damage to the buildings. So we moved through the
11 town and across a very obvious interface just below the
12 Hotel Vitez or another line of battle, where we moved
13 through the Muslim quarter and into the second part of
14 the -- the Croat part of the town, and again, the
15 contrast was stark in that there were no scenes of
16 battle, there was no destruction. In fact, it was just
17 quite bizarre.
18 And then we moved through Vitez, and the top
19 part of Vitez here, although deserted, looked as it
20 always had. I mean, there had been no fighting there.
21 And then I moved on round over the bridge down to the
22 junction and then moved up through Dubravica and
23 further up the valley, and certainly on this side and
24 sort of parts of the odd house in Santici towards our
25 U.N. transport base here, was literally in flames,
1 there was smoke pouring from houses all the way up
2 Pirici, past Ahmici.
3 As I went past here, which is a cemetery,
4 down the hill and turned right, there were a line of
5 bodies, about four or five men and women in a line
6 lying dead here, and I pushed on, and I can't actually
7 remember how far I went, maybe as far as the Busovaca
8 junction or even further round towards the Jelinak
9 junction, at which point I turned round, came back, and
10 decided on the way back that I would visit the two
11 commanders in Vitez and try and find out what on earth
12 was going on.
13 I went first, I think, to the HVO brigade
14 commander in the cinema close to the Hotel Vitez,
15 Commander Mario Chekhof's (sic) headquarters, and I met
16 him there and we discussed what I had seen and what was
17 going on, and he just kept telling me the situation was
18 very confused.
19 I had already gained --
20 Q. Let me stop you there for a minute, if I
21 might? Based on the reports you had received from your
22 reconnaissance units as well as your personal
23 observation from driving through the Lasva Valley and
24 seeing the kinds of destruction that you saw, did you
25 come to a preliminary conclusion as to what, in fact,
1 was going on in the Lasva Valley on the morning of
2 April 16th?
3 A. Yes, I did, and I confronted Commander
4 Chekhof with that. It appeared to me to be a
5 pre-emptive attack by the HVO forces down the length
6 and breadth of the Lasva Valley against Muslim villages
7 and Muslim forces and had certainly taken them, the
8 Muslims and ourselves, by surprise, and that was
9 evident when I spoke with Sefkija Bilic, the BiH
10 commander in Stari Vitez, who was actually in a state
11 of shock.
12 Q. You mentioned that you saw bodies. Do you
13 have an idea of about how many bodies you saw on that
14 quick tour through the Lasva Valley?
15 A. About 20 or 30 bodies either on the road or
16 in the fields and outside the houses, and the one thing
17 that -- everlasting expression was the fact that they
18 were all civilians, none of them were in uniform, which
19 was quite shocking.
20 Q. Were they of both sexes?
21 A. Yeah, men and women and children.
22 Q. And children?
23 A. Yeah.
24 Q. Now, you mentioned --
25 A. I saw no children in Vitez. We saw children
1 further down here, lying in the fields.
2 Q. Further down toward the Ahmici area?
3 A. Yeah, on this side here.
4 Q. Pointing then to --
5 A. To the sort of -- the area of Ahmici and
6 Pirici that are adjacent to the road.
7 Q. You mentioned, I believe, seeing four bodies
8 near the cemetery. Did anything about the way those
9 four bodies were arranged give you pause for thought or
10 indicate anything to you?
11 JUDGE MAY: I think the witness said seven or
12 eight. I may have got that -- that was in Stari
13 Vitez. How many bodies was it outside the cemetery?
14 A. Outside the cemetery, there were about -- I
15 think it was four, sir, four or five.
16 JUDGE MAY: Four. My mistake.
17 A. They were at the bottom of the driveway of a
18 house, and they were in a line, they weren't covered,
19 although later in the day, when I went past them again,
20 someone had put blankets over them, but they were just
21 lying there in a neat line. I mean, they had been laid
22 out as a statement -- I mean, I don't know. But the
23 impact, certainly on my soldiers, was quite shocking.
24 MR. MOSKOWITZ:
25 Q. There may be some confusion which I would
1 like to, if we can, clarify. Those four bodies laid
2 out along the side of the road were across from the
3 cemetery, but you had seen other bodies as well during
4 your tour through the Lasva Valley; is that right?
5 A. Yes. We had seen bodies off the road.
6 These -- within Vitez, and these particular bodies were
7 literally right beside my vehicle. That's why their
8 impact was a bit greater.
9 Q. Now, I take it you did not actually get out
10 of your vehicle and do a foot search of any of these
12 A. No, I didn't. There was a lot of small arms
13 fire, and I decided that wasn't a prudent thing to do
14 at that time. I did dismount from my vehicle when we
15 returned to Vitez to visit the two headquarters. In
16 fact, my Warrior took several bullet strikes during
17 that morning, not that we were in any particular danger
18 because it's a very well-protected vehicle.
19 Q. But certainly another reason not to leave --
20 A. It was a good reason not to look out the top
21 or leave it.
22 Q. All right. Thank you, Colonel Watters. You
23 may resume your seat.
24 Now, I believe you were telling us about
25 meeting with the HVO commanders. I believe you
1 mentioned his name as Cerkez, I think is --
2 A. Mario Cerkez.
3 Q. Please tell us what happened there.
4 A. I went to his headquarters with the liaison
5 officer responsible for liaising with him, Commander
6 Dundas Whattley ^, and had a discussion with him about
7 what was going on and asked him to call his forces back
8 and to stop attacking because, you know, it was obvious
9 to us that it was the Croat HVO who were doing the
10 attacking, and he agreed to meet at noon or so in our
11 headquarters and have a cease-fire conference with the
12 Muslim forces, which we arranged.
13 Q. In the days that followed, did you
14 participate in a series of cease-fire conferences that
15 were less than satisfactory?
16 A. The cease-fire conference at 12.00 that day
17 didn't change anything despite the fact that we signed
18 bits of paper and agreed to a cease-fire and a moving
19 back of forces, exchanging of prisoners, retrieving of
20 wounded. It made no difference at all, nor did the one
21 on the morning of the 17th, which Colonel Stewart
23 It was after that first conference at 12.00
24 on the 16th that we decided we actually had to act, and
25 it was at that point that we started sending off
1 patrols into the villages to extract the civilians,
2 imposing a cease-fire by force of arms and extracting
3 the civilians from the battle zones.
4 Q. So it was essentially at that point that the
5 mission's thrust that we talked about the other day
6 shifted, to some extent, from delivering humanitarian
7 aid and support in that regard to actually becoming
8 more active in protecting civilians?
9 A. I had never thought about it in those terms,
10 but if you're looking for a transitory period, that
11 is probably it.
12 Q. Did you yourself return to Ahmici on the
14 A. No, I didn't. On the 16th, I, following the
15 initial peace or cease-fire conference, one of the
16 requirements of the BiH for agreeing to a cease-fire
17 was that the wounded that they had in Kruscica were
18 retrieved. They had no doctors in Kruscica and no
19 means to treat their wounded, and they asked if we
20 would evacuate the wounded from Kruscica, and that was
21 agreed by the HVO forces, and I led a patrol into
22 Kruscica on the night of the 16th to retrieve the
23 wounded from Kruscica and take them to a Muslim medical
24 facility in Travnik.
25 Q. Now, I would like to draw your attention --
1 before I ask you that question ...
2 A. If I could just add something to that,
3 actually? Although there was fighting in the length
4 and breadth of the valley, and by the late period of
5 the 16th, it was very sporadic small arms fire and
6 burning houses in the majority of the valley, the main
7 concentrations of fighting were in -- and resistance by
8 the BiH forces were in Kruscica and in Vitez, and it
9 was there that we, from a command perspective,
10 concentrated our efforts whilst using what resources we
11 had, as I said earlier, to go into the villages in the
12 valley and extract wounded and anyone essentially that
13 we could find who needed help.
14 Q. Thank you. Now, I want to direct your
15 attention to two days later, April 18th. Were you in
16 the ops room in your Vitez headquarters on that day?
17 A. For periods of time, I was, yes.
18 Q. Do you recall anything unusual happening on
19 that day in Stari Vitez? If not unusual, at least
21 A. Yeah. I mean, a quite catastrophic event, in
22 our thinking. We had reports of a large explosion in
23 Vitez, close to the mosque, in Stari Vitez. We didn't
24 know initially what had caused the explosion, and I
25 sent "A" Company down into Vitez to report what had
1 happened, and they reported that there had been a large
2 vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, VBID, had
3 exploded within the centre of Vitez, and that there
4 were approximately 30 homes destroyed. I think
5 about -- at that point, we thought there were six
6 people dead, eight people very seriously injured, and a
7 further number of people injured.
8 Q. You mentioned VBID. Could you tell us what
9 that is again?
10 A. It's a weapon invented by the provisional IRA
11 in Northern Ireland in the early '70s, and what it is,
12 in colloquial terms, is a car or lorry bomb, a vehicle
13 packed with explosives and a detonating device that is
14 a weapon of terror.
15 Q. What do you mean by "weapon of terror"?
16 A. It's a weapon employed in our -- up till
17 then, in our experience, in my personal experience, in
18 Northern Ireland, was a weapon deployed by terrorists
19 to break the will of the people, to terrorise the
20 people, kill and maim the people.
21 Q. What would be the purpose of a terrorist bomb
22 in Vitez on the date of April 18, in your view as a
23 military man?
24 A. There was a stalemate in the fighting. The
25 BiH forces in Vitez and Kruscica were still holding
1 out. The BiH third corps were beginning to
2 consolidate themselves and beginning to mount a
3 counterattack, and I think the VBID was deployed into
4 Stari Vitez to effect an outcome in the stalemate. I
5 think it was the act of quite desperate people to
6 deploy such an indiscriminate bomb into a heavily
7 populated area, and designed like any weapon of terror,
8 to terrorise and to drive the people out of the town,
9 which it succeeded in doing.
10 Q. And which people was it intended to drive out
11 of town?
12 A. The civilian population -- well, I mean,
13 anybody, but it's the civilian population who were most
14 traumatised by it, although so were the military.
15 About 130 people were made homeless, having had their
16 houses destroyed, and about 400 people that evening
17 left Stari Vitez and sought sanctuary at our logistic
18 base outside of town.
19 Q. And again Stari Vitez was almost an
20 exclusively Muslim area?
21 A. Almost -- at that point it was almost an
22 exclusively Muslim area.
23 Q. You mentioned acts of terror intended to send
24 a message. Was there another act of terror on the
25 following day, on the 19th of April?
1 A. Yes, there was. There was the firing of, I
2 think, eight rounds of heavy calibre artillery into the
3 middle of Zenica, which I would describe as slightly
4 more strategic terrorism.
5 Q. What do you mean by that?
6 A. The weapon that was used in Vitez could have
7 been assembled by anyone with the knowledge and
8 expertise. The firing of heavy calibre artillery
9 within the HVO was controlled at the highest levels,
10 and to fire eight rounds into Vitez would have been a
11 deliberate act by the HVO regional command as opposed
12 to a weapon of terror, which could have been deployed
13 at any level.
14 Q. Could you give us a sense of the distance
15 that the shells were fired from into Vitez and also
16 give us a sense of the size of the weapon that must
17 have been used to accomplish that?
18 A. I can't assemble any proof as to exactly what
19 weapon fired it, but our U.N. investigators who went
20 into Vitez said it was a heavy calibre artillery piece,
21 and it was --
22 JUDGE MAY: I'm going to interrupt again,
23 Mr. Moskowitz. The witness said the weapons were fired
24 into Zenica.
25 MR. MOSKOWITZ: Yes, Your Honour.
1 JUDGE MAY: He's now talking about Vitez?
2 A. I'm sorry, did I say Vitez?
3 MR. MOSKOWITZ: Maybe we should clarify that.
4 JUDGE MAY: Yes, please.
5 MR. MOSKOWITZ:
6 Q. Could you again, if you would, clarify the
7 target of this attack on the 19th and describe the
8 nature of that target, if you could, and give us a
9 sense of the general area from which the shelling took
11 A. The target on the 19th was the largely Muslim
12 town of Zenica which was the headquarters of the third
13 BiH corps, and it was that corps, on the 19th, that had
14 extracted itself from its missions in the east in
15 support of the Muslim pockets and had moved itself and
16 reconfigured itself for a counterattack against the HVO
17 in the Lasva Valley. And the eight rounds of heavy
18 artillery that fell on Zenica which caused quite a few
19 people to be killed, I can't remember the exact number,
20 was -- we had reports of certain large HVO-controlled
21 artillery pieces, one known as Nora which was in a
22 quarry not far from ourselves which we heard fire, and
23 the firing in the same time frame of the heavy calibre
24 150-millimetre sort of artillery pieces of the HVO and
25 the impacting of the rounds in Zenica correlated, I
1 mean we can never prove which gun fired those rounds,
2 but we were in no doubt that it was HVO artillery, and
3 it was a message to the Muslim third corps and the
4 Muslim BiH forces that if they continued to prosecute
5 their counterattack, then the HVO would flatten Zenica.
6 Q. And again, just to orient everyone, Zenica
7 would be the large town at the end of that mountain
8 road that you pointed out yesterday?
9 A. It would be about where the door is on the
11 Q. So if you follow that mountain road to the
12 door, you'd be in Zenica, is what you're saying?
13 A. Yes, sir.
14 Q. It's a fairly large town of about 100.000
15 people or so?
16 A. It's a large old steel town during the former
18 Q. Now, prior to April 22nd, and I want to
19 direct your attention to that date, now. Prior to
20 April 22nd, had you focused on the village of Ahmici?
21 A. From a command point of view, no. We had had
22 Warrior patrols go to Ahmici, and one particular patrol
23 brought back, I think, 16 women and children who they
24 evacuated under fire.
25 These people were carried behind a bank of
1 earth and the Warrior reversed up to the bank of earth,
2 opened the rear doors, the soldiers got out and got I
3 think up to 16 women and children in the back of the
4 Warrior and we took them to Travnik. That was one
5 incidents that stands out.
6 We had had reports that people had been in
7 Ahmici, but we had reports that people had been killed
8 in all the Muslim villages in the Lasva Valley. And we
9 had reports of atrocities committed by Muslim forces
10 against Croats and Croat villages, which we also
11 investigated. And we had found dead bodies in some of
12 these Croat villages, but not on the scale we found in
13 the Muslim villages.
14 Q. Would it be true to say that one of the
15 reasons that, prior to April 22nd, the village of
16 Ahmici did not draw your attention during those tragic
17 times was because your information was that there was
18 really no BiH army in Ahmici or in the immediate
19 environs of Ahmici, in that area?
20 A. The two centres of BiH military that we were
21 aware of were in Vitez and in Kruscica. We were
22 unaware of any concentrations of BiH forces in any
23 other villages. There were soldiers returning from
24 front-line service who lived in these villages, but
25 there weren't military installations in those villages.
1 Q. Barracks, that kind of thing?
2 A. No. And that was evident in the fact that
3 there was no fighting in those villages. The fighting
4 occurred very violently on the morning of the 16th, and
5 other than Kruscica and Vitez it got quiet, other than
6 sort of odd burning houses and so on.
7 Q. How did it come about that on April 22nd you
8 first became aware of atrocities in Ahmici?
9 A. On the 21st I chaired another cease-fire
10 conference, this one in shadow of high-level
11 negotiations between the head of the armies of the
12 armies of the BiH and the HVO. And we held a high
13 level conference in Bila school headed up by the chiefs
14 of staff of the BiH and the HVO, General Petkovic from
15 the HVO and General Halilovic from the BiH.
16 We had a cease-fire agreement based on the
17 creation of a demilitarised zone either side of the
18 Lasva Valley road from which the HVO would draw back
19 into Vitez and Busovaca and the BiH would withdraw
20 approximately, I think it was six or seven kilometres
21 from the road parallel with the mountain road towards
22 Zenica and create this buffer zone which we would
23 control and keep the two warring factions apart.
24 Q. Let me stop you for a moment there. The BiH
25 army you are describing was an army that had come into
1 the valley in response to what had happened on the
2 16th, the attack on Vitez and the Lasva Valley; is that
3 your information?
4 A. Yes, commander third corps BiH,
5 Hadzjhasanovic, I think he was, had picked up his corps
6 and moved it some considerable distance over a couple
7 of days and redeployed it in a counter attack from
8 Zenica down the mountain road and looping around to
9 link up with his forces in Kruscica.
10 At that point on the 21st the BiH counter
11 attack had pushed back the HVO, essentially into two
12 pockets; one pocket into Busovaca and one in Vitez, and
13 completely turned the tables on the HVO. And the HVO
14 at that point were in defence and the BiH were
15 conducting a very successful counteroffensive.
16 Q. Counteroffensive?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. The third army was not in the Lazva Valley on
19 April 16th?
20 A. Third corps, the elements of third corps in
21 Vitez and Kruscica, if you look up the chain of
22 command, but the actual main centre of the corps were
23 not, they were east towards Srebrenica and Konjevic
25 Q. Busy with the Serb campaign?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Continue, now, as to how you found out about
3 or discovered the atrocities that occurred in Ahmici on
4 April 22nd.
5 A. Having put together the cease-fire agreement
6 and signed up to it, and facilitated the two
7 commanders, visiting their front-line soldiers to brief
8 them on the cease-fire, which we did using our own
9 vehicles, we had said that the following morning we
10 would deploy a patrol which Colonel Stewart would lead
11 that would confirm the withdrawal of the BiH and HVO
13 The reality was that the BiH had to do a
14 considerable withdrawal, because they had made
15 considerable gains in their counter attack and were
16 actually on the Lazva Valley road and had captured the
17 key junctions on the road. They really had to
18 withdraw. The HVO had little withdrawing to do because
19 they were forced into their two pockets. So the
20 emphasis was to go and police the withdrawal of the BiH
21 forces and ensure they were signing up to their
22 agreement; because the consequences of them attacking
23 Vitez and the other HVO positions were quite
24 catastrophic in terms of the strategic situation in
25 Bosnia at that time. And if Busovaca and Vitez had
1 been taken by the BiH, the potential sort of total war
2 within central Bosnia was almost certain. And there
3 were large reinforcements coming up from Prozor of HVO
4 forces, and it was important to stop the war before
5 they joined against third corps.
6 Q. So there was a withdrawal agreement?
7 A. Yes, there was. And on the morning of the
8 22nd, Colonel Stewart led a patrol of himself,
9 reconnaissance elements from our cavalry squadron, and
10 elements from our Royal Engineer squadron to go and
11 police the lines of withdrawal. And when he got to the
12 hills above Ahmici there were still groups of BiH
13 forces from third corps who refused to withdraw, and
14 they told him that they wouldn't withdraw because of
15 the massacre of women and children in Ahmici.
16 And Colonel Stewart and ourselves were
17 unaware of a massacre in Ahmici. We knew people had
18 been killed in Ahmici, and we had effected evacuation
19 of people of Ahmici, but we didn't know of a massacre.
20 Colonel Stewart thought it was a slight exaggeration
21 and said he would go down and personally check Ahmici
22 and assure them there had not been a massacre there.
23 And he then went from there into Ahmici where he did
24 discover a number of bodies and the evidence of
25 possible, of a possible massacre.
1 Q. This would have been sometime during the
2 morning of April 22nd?
3 A. Yes, it was.
4 Q. Did you then have an opportunity to speak
5 with Colonel Stewart later that day?
6 A. Yes, Colonel Stewart came back to our
7 headquarters, and he and ambassador Thebault, who was
8 the United Nations ambassador who had been with Colonel
9 Stewart, they were both extremely shaken and angry at
10 what they had seen. And having Colonel Stewart
11 describe to me what he had seen I felt I had to visit
12 myself as his second in command, so I understood why my
13 commanding officer was in the state he was.
14 Q. Do you recall some of the things he told you
15 he saw in Ahmici that made him and the ambassador so
17 A. The scale of the destruction of the village.
18 And in one particular, and he described seeing parts of
19 a skull and that sort of thing in houses, and he also
20 believed that there were bodies in all the houses
21 because the houses had been systematically destroyed
22 and the roofs dropped. And it was his belief, after
23 seeing one particular house, that there were dozens of
24 bodies under the roofs of these houses that he wasn't
25 able to see.
1 And he drew that conclusion from a particular
2 house that had not been destroyed in which there were
3 about seven or so, six or seven bodies, which had been
4 burned and were in a hideous state. And it was the
5 sight of that and the extrapolation of that to the rest
6 of the village that had caused him to be so shocked and
8 And to be absolutely fair, as well, we felt a
9 sense of personal failure as a unit that this had
10 happened in the area that we were responsible for.
11 MR. MOSKOWITZ: I would ask the usher, who I
12 think had just left the courtroom, but we would like to
13 set up the easel to show exhibit number 5, which is the
14 enlargement of Ahmici, excuse me, exhibit number 2, the
15 enlargement of Ahmici, and ask Colonel Watters to
16 indicate the route he took on April 22nd when he
17 arrived in that village. With the permission of the
19 Q. Colonel Watters could you approach the
20 exhibit, and this is an enlargement of the area of
21 Ahmici, Santici and Nadioci, and could you show the
22 Court the route that you took into Ahmici on April
24 A. I took my Warriors and drove out of our
25 school, came past Vitez on the ring road and down to
1 the junction here, turned left, went past the large
2 minaret that had been blown up on the mosque here, and
3 then drove up to this point here, which I don't
4 remember being as large as this, we called it sort of a
5 turning circle. And in my past experience this was the
6 sort of upper reaches of Ahmici, and as far as I had
7 ever been in Ahmici.
8 When we got here it was, there were two
9 things; one was the stark contrast having driven up
10 where the destroyed houses were, there were a series of
11 houses here that were untouched by the fighting.
12 Q. Now, just for the record, so we can have it
13 clear, you're taking your pointer and drawing a circle
14 around the houses surrounding the turn around point,
15 essentially in the centre of the area map?
16 A. That's right, sir.
17 Q. And I think you said that turn around point
18 was not as large in 1993 as it appears on the map in
19 front of you?
20 A. No, it was probably a quarter of the size,
21 just sort of here.
22 Q. And again, if you would, could you describe
23 the sort of stark contrast within that circle and
24 without that circle or outside of that circle?
25 A. The contrast, as we would come up here,
1 having been through devastation, we then arrived in
2 normality again, there were normal Bosnian houses, and
3 they had not been involved in fighting.
4 And Colonel Stewart had told me that the
5 house he had found the bodies in was beyond these
6 houses, further up into upper Ahmici. I had never been
7 up there before. I decided we would dismount here, at
8 that point we came under sniper fire from this area
9 here. The rounds were going over our heads, it wasn't
10 my deduction they were trying to kill us, it was my
11 deduction they were trying to frighten us away. So I
12 sent a patrol up here to clear out the snipers. They
13 didn't make contact, and just I positioned
14 counter-snipers here while we conducted a foot patrol
15 around this area just to have a look at it. And it was
16 this area that I believed our previous extraction of
17 civilians from Ahmici had taken place, and I was
18 interested to have a look at the ground.
19 Q. Let me stop you for one moment to clarify,
20 again, the record. Sniper fire was coming from just
21 outside the perimeter of that circle you had drawn?
22 A. This is high wooded ground here and there was
23 sniper fire coming from the high ground over our heads.
24 It stopped when we deployed our soldiers up there and
25 the snipers withdrew, we never actually saw them.
1 Q. You may proceed.
2 A. I conducted a patrol around here, and began
3 to, from the evidence I saw on the ground, such as
4 positions that had obviously been occupied by soldiers
5 where the grass had been flattened down and there were
6 empty cases 7.62 long, which is the sort of sniper
7 round from a sniper rifle.
8 There were positions that made it obvious to
9 us that there had been, using our tactical doctrine and
10 superimposing it on the sign we saw on the ground,
11 there was a series of cut off positions; soldiers
12 occupying positions to either stop people infiltrating
13 or stop people exfiltrating from the operation to
14 attack the village.
15 I then, having walked around here and seen no
16 evidence of any bodies -- .
17 Q. Slow down a little bit so our translators and
18 interpreters can keep up. Thank you, Colonel.
19 A. We then mounted Warrior vehicles again and
20 moved up the village moved past the mosque, which was
21 also destroyed in this area here, and parked the
22 vehicles about here, dismounted again and conducted
23 another foot patrol in this area and found the house
24 that Colonel Stewart had described to me.
25 Q. And could you describe what you saw at that
2 A. Yes. There were a series of steps leading up
3 to a, sort of front door, and on the steps there was a
4 small burned body which obviously looked like a child.
5 And behind, I think, or beside that body was a larger
6 body of an adult, also burned really beyond
7 recognition, other than it was a large body. The rest
8 of the first floor of the house was completely wrecked,
9 but there were no more bodies.
10 We then went down into the cellar where there
11 was it was quite-- there were bodies, you could see the
12 shapes of the skulls, the rib cages, and they were in a
13 line by one of the cellar walls and they had been
14 burned, and there was evidence of a petrol can or some
15 sort of thing down there.
16 And there were -- Colonel Stewart had
17 described to me his belief was these people, from the
18 way the bodies were positioned, had been burned alive
19 in the cellar. I made a careful examination of the
20 cellar and found bullet marks on the rear of the
21 cellar, it looked like from the grouping they were from
22 an automatic weapon, and also what appeared to be blood
23 running down the cellar walls, and deduced from it that
24 probably the people had been not been burned alive but
25 had been shot in the cellar and then burned. And
1 although that sounds a strange academic thing to be
2 concerned with at that time, I wanted to be able to go
3 back to my CO and assure him that the people had not
4 been burnt alive, because that had deeply upset him.
5 We then went back up to the top of the
6 village to turn the Warriors around and there was total
7 devastation. There was not a house that had not been
8 destroyed. They had been systematically destroyed,
9 there was not the scene of battle the likes of which we
10 had seen in Vitez and my own military experience in
11 other parts of the world.
12 There were not rocket grenade explosions on
13 the walls, no great heaps of empty cases, there weren't
14 dead soldiers or the signs of where dead soldiers had
15 been, blood and so on. The thing that was shocking was
16 that the village was totally destroyed, the animals
17 were destroyed, the crop, the root cellars, everything
18 was destroyed. There was nothing to come back to that
19 village for.
20 We came back down the road and stopped again
21 at the turning circle here.
22 Q. This, again, is that area -- I don't want to
23 mischaracterise your testimony.
24 A. It was the area.
25 Q. The island of normality in a sea of
2 A. It was those sort of analogies. I was just
3 trying to make sense of it. I never thought of the
4 ethnic composition of villages in Bosnia, it wasn't
5 something we focused on. We were delivering aid to
6 people who needed it, it didn't matter who they were,
7 and we were on nobody's side.
8 I stopped because I just wanted to clear in
9 my own mind why there was this completely untouched
10 area of the village when the remainder of the village
11 was utterly destroyed. And it was if a forest fire had
12 swept through a forest, and for some reason there was a
13 small stand of trees in the middle that had not been
14 touched, and that was very curious. Why hadn't they
15 all been destroyed.
16 And I went and banged on a door of a house
17 opposite where the Warrior was, we could see people
18 moving around, curtains moving and so on. No one would
19 come out and talk to us. I asked them to come out and
20 tell us what they had seen. We assumed these people
21 had been witnesses to what had taken place. And no one
22 would come out and talk to us.
23 Q. Colonel, if I may interrupt. Did you,
24 yourself, actually go up to that house by the turn
25 around and bang on the door yourself?
1 A. With a couple of my soldiers, and a couple of
2 soldiers went behind that house to other houses and
3 banged on the doors as well, we shouted at the people
4 in the houses.
5 Q. Can you recall what you were shouting, what
6 were you saying?
7 A. Come out and talk to us, what's happening
8 here, that sort of thing.
9 Q. In a loud voice so it could be heard?
10 A. Yeah, shouting at the people through the
11 glass. We could see them moving around in the house,
12 they wouldn't come out and talk to us.
13 It became obvious as we were talking among
14 ourselves and with our interpreters, who were from the
15 local areas and had a deeper understanding than
16 ourselves of the ethnic mix of people in the village,
17 that these houses belonged to Croat people whereas the
18 remainder of the village was Muslim. And we knew it
19 was Muslim because it had a mosque and minaret. We
20 didn't realise there were parts that were not Muslim
21 until then.
22 So, guilt by association really, these people
23 were spared and the rest of the village was destroyed
24 and the people killed. And extrapolating as Colonel
25 Stewart had done, our fear was that beneath the roofs
1 of the houses were more bodies like the one in the
2 upper village.
3 Q. Did you in fact do an additional foot search
4 looking for more evidence of atrocities?
5 A. Yes. There were one or two houses that had
6 been destroyed and we went in those, and I have a vivid
7 memory of a rib cage in one of them. I couldn't tell
8 if it was a human ribcage or not, I mean, it looked
9 human but I'm not a doctor. And further down in this
10 part of the village I think there was a skull, a human
11 skull in one of the houses.
12 They were the only signs of dead people we
13 had physically seen. In the upper village the house
14 with all the bodies in it, and then a rib cage and a
15 skull. But as I said, you couldn't really examine most
16 of the houses because the roof had dropped inside the
17 walls of the house, covering everything inside the
19 MR. MOSKOWITZ: Thank you, Colonel. Could
20 you resume taking your seat.
21 At this time I would ask the usher to show
22 the witness three photographs, in that order. If you
23 would place that on the ELMO.
24 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit number
1 Q. Colonel, could you look at that photograph,
2 exhibit 10, and describe what that is, please?
3 A. That's what we used to call the Ahmici
4 mosque. You could see it from the main Lasva Valley
6 Q. Is that what you saw when you entered the
7 village of Ahmici on April 22nd?
8 A. Yes, it is. Although, I had vivid memories
9 when the minaret was standing, as well, earlier in the
11 Q. Can we show the next photograph, please?
12 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution exhibit number
14 Q. Again, Colonel, if you would describe what
15 that picture displays?
16 A. It's again a closer picture of the Ahmici
17 mosque taken from the road that ran sort of parallel to
18 the main Lasva Valley road.
19 Q. And that accurately describes what you saw on
20 April 22nd, with respect to that area?
21 A. On the way out of Ahmici we went down and
22 examined the mosque.
23 Q. When you examined the mosque did you look at
24 the minaret in particular?
25 A. Yes, I did, the minaret had been made of
1 reinforced concrete, and you could see the reinforcing
2 struts which were shiny, and it had recently been blown
3 down. It was demolished, it was a clinical, efficient
4 demolition. I mean, it hadn't been knocked over or
5 sort of shot over.
6 Q. What led you to the conclusion it had been
8 A. It was a reinforced concrete structure, and
9 when you looked at base of it, it had been blown up by
10 someone that knew what they were doing.
11 Q. Can we show the next photo?
12 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution exhibit number
14 Q. Number 12 has been placed on the ELMO,
15 Colonel, does this illustrate what you are talking
16 about regarding the minaret being demolished or blown
18 A. Yes, that's exactly what I saw. Again,
19 without making too much of the point, again, it was
20 shocking, it was an act of sacrilege against a
21 religious building.
22 Q. I think you mentioned in your earlier
23 testimony that you had also seen the destruction of a
24 mosque further down the road past the turnaround point
25 in upper Ahmici.
1 A. Yes. It hadn't been blown up like this, it
2 didn't have a minaret. It had been sort of destroyed
3 like the other houses; the roof had been dropped into
4 the building and the building had been destroyed.
5 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit number
7 MR. MOSKOWITZ:
8 Q. Colonel, this next photograph, Exhibit 13,
9 again describe what that is, please?
10 A. That's the smaller mosque further into the
11 upper part of Ahmici village.
12 Q. Does that picture illustrate what you saw
13 that day, or has there been additional damage done to
14 what you recall?
15 A. It's not exactly as I remember it. I mean --
16 I remember the building had been destroyed. I remember
17 it as having the walls intact but no roof and all the
18 windows showing inside had been burnt and gutted. I
19 don't remember the walls collapsed. They might have
20 been. It's not an image that sticks in my mind.
21 MR. MOSKOWITZ: Show the next photograph,
23 A. That's an aerial shot of the same building.
24 Q. The upper mosque?
25 A. The upper mosque.
1 MR. MOSKOWITZ: And that would be Exhibit 14.
2 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, that is correct.
3 MR. MOSKOWITZ: We are now going to tender a
4 series of photographs depicting the cellar of the
5 house. These photographs are, some of them, quite
6 graphic, and I just want to alert those who will look
7 at it that they are quite graphic.
8 Q. Colonel, could you quickly describe --
9 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
10 MR. MOSKOWITZ:
11 Q. -- what is now placed on the ELMO as --
12 THE INTERPRETER: Could counsel switch on his
14 THE REGISTRAR: This is Prosecution Exhibit
15 number 15.
16 MR. MOSKOWITZ: I'm sorry. I'm sorry.
17 Q. Colonel, could you describe what Exhibit 15
18 shows, now having been placed on the ELMO?
19 A. Yes. I took a series of photographs, I don't
20 know if this is one of them, of the building in the
21 upper part of the town that we found the bodies in.
22 This is in the cellar of that building, and you can see
23 one of the bodies, the skull of one of the bodies, sort
24 of arched back, and other parts of bodies in this area
25 here. This is the skull. And just at the back, you
1 can see what I believe was blood running down the
2 walls, and just above that blood, there is -- in fact,
3 you can see one right there -- a series of bullet marks
4 in the wall, and it appeared that the people had been
5 lined up here and then shot, and they fell in a heap
6 here, and then they were burnt.
7 MR. MOSKOWITZ: Can you place the next
9 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit number
11 MR. MOSKOWITZ:
12 Q. And this is --
13 A. That last picture I believe was this area
14 over here (indicating).
15 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please. The
16 witness's microphone is not switched on. The witness's
17 microphone, please.
18 A. The previous photograph was in this area here
19 (indicating), and this is further along the line of
20 bodies, this is another skull and parts of the body
21 here, and there were -- it was difficult to tell, but
22 there were four or so bodies there.
23 MR. MOSKOWITZ: The next photograph, please,
24 Mr. Usher?
25 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit number
2 MR. MOSKOWITZ:
3 Q. Exhibit 17.
4 A. This is the first floor of the house, as you
5 come up the steps here, and this is the larger of the
6 two bodies I earlier described lying just above the
7 steps leading into the house.
8 Q. So this is not in the basement but at the --
9 A. No, this is not in the basement. This is at
10 the top of the stairs leading into the house.
11 Q. And it would be in view of people who were
12 walking by that house?
13 A. Yes. I mean, we saw that and the smaller
14 body actually from the -- sort of the garden of the
16 MR. MOSKOWITZ: May we have the next
17 photograph, please?
18 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit number
20 MR. MOSKOWITZ:
21 Q. Again, now, does this photograph provide a
22 little more information on the bullet holes in the wall
23 that you saw and the blood?
24 A. Yeah. You can see parts of the bodies here,
25 there's part of the rib cage, and behind here is the
1 cluster of bullet marks and what we presumed to be
2 blood here (indicating).
3 MR. MOSKOWITZ: And the next photograph, if
4 you would, please?
5 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit number
7 MR. MOSKOWITZ:
8 Q. Would you tell us what is going on here?
9 A. These are members of the medical section and
10 stretcher bearers who were actually a band from the 1
11 Cheshire BRITBAT clearing the bodies from the cellar at
12 a later date, I think it was the 27th of April, when no
13 one else seemed to have moved the bodies and the
14 commanding officer made the decision that we should,
15 and we contacted an imam who came and performed a
16 religious ceremony, and then under his supervision, we
17 removed the bodies, and they were taken to Zenica for
19 Q. Zenica would be where the hospital was, the
20 morgue; is that right?
21 A. Yes, it was. Well, there was one in Travnik
22 as well, but the Muslim authorities, religious
23 authorities, asked us if we would help escort the
24 bodies to Zenica, which we said we would.
25 MR. MOSKOWITZ: Next photograph, please.
1 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit number
3 MR. MOSKOWITZ:
4 Q. This is Exhibit 20, I believe. Again,
5 quickly, we are seeing what?
6 A. That's in the cellar of the house on the same
7 day, the same people removing another body.
8 MR. MOSKOWITZ: Next photograph, please.
9 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit number
11 MR. MOSKOWITZ:
12 Q. Twenty-one, again --
13 A. The same cellar and our soldiers removing
15 MR. MOSKOWITZ: Next and final photograph of
16 this series.
17 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit number
19 MR. MOSKOWITZ:
20 Q. Number 22?
21 A. That was the smaller of the two bodies on the
22 first floor, on the steps sort of leading up towards
23 the house.
24 MR. MOSKOWITZ: Thank you.
25 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Moskowitz, are we moving from
1 those photographs?
2 MR. MOSKOWITZ: Yes, we are.
3 JUDGE MAY: It might be a convenient moment
4 to deal with this. From the point of view of
5 clarification during the rest of the trial, that house
6 has been referred to as the house where Colonel Stewart
7 found the bodies.
8 Now, for the rest of the trial, clearly we're
9 going to need to know which house that is, which house
10 the Prosecution, at least, say it is. Which house is
11 it? Can you clarify that for us so we can make a
13 MR. MOSKOWITZ: Yes, we can clarify it, but I
14 will tell the Court it will not play a major role in
15 the rest of the trial in terms of incidents that we are
16 going to present during the rest of the trial, so it
17 may not be necessary to do that, but we can do that.
18 JUDGE MAY: Yes. It occurs to me, while
19 we're on this subject, that there will, no doubt, be a
20 number of houses which are going to be referred to by
21 different witnesses, and we will need to know which
22 houses it's said they are.
23 MR. MOSKOWITZ: Yes. And we will, as you see
24 and as we proceed in this trial, have a series of
25 exhibits where houses will be referred to by number and
1 by letter as well as the names assigned to those
2 houses, and those numbers and letters will be
3 consistent from witness to witness, so that I think, as
4 we proceed, the Court will become quite familiar with
5 the relevant and important houses that we will be
6 focusing on in this case.
7 JUDGE MAY: As soon as possible. I would
8 find it helpful to have a plan with those houses
9 identified and this house in particular.
10 MR. MOSKOWITZ:
11 Q. Colonel, you mentioned the commander,
12 Stewart, arriving in Ahmici on the 22nd, before you
14 A. Yes, sir.
15 Q. You are aware that a videotape was made of
16 that visit, are you not?
17 A. Yes, I am, sir. He had a media team with
19 MR. MOSKOWITZ:
20 Q. Can we, at this moment, ask that the video,
21 which would be our next exhibit, be played, and as we
22 are watching that video, and it's a fairly short one,
23 if you would, Colonel, just give us a narrative of what
24 we are seeing and where we are in Ahmici as the video
25 is being played, if you can.
1 Yes, if you would, Colonel, what do we see
3 (Videotape played)
4 A. These are two British battalion soldiers.
5 That's a picture of the mosque there in Ahmici.
6 They're either Royal Engineers or 9/12 Lancers, I don't
7 know which they are, but they're certainly British
8 battalion. Again, the mosque in lower Ahmici, the
9 minaret. That's one of our CVRT vehicles, that's
10 something called a 432. That's the large body at the
11 house. That's the smaller body, probably a child.
12 More shots of the same bodies. Again, the smaller
14 Q. What's happening here?
15 A. These are Royal Engineers who are checking
16 for mines, for landmines or booby traps on the routes
17 around the house before Colonel Stewart's party would
18 have actually gone up to the house. Mines were a
19 constant threat. We had many soldiers injured from
20 mines during our tour there.
21 That's one of our CVRT command vehicles.
22 That's the same vehicle. That's the vehicle driver.
23 That's an ammunition box. That's an empty shell case.
24 Just general scenes of Ahmici village, the upper part
25 of the village.
1 Q. There was some sniper activity that day?
2 A. There was. These soldiers are pointing at
3 where shots had come from and they're trying to pin
4 down where the snipers are shooting from.
5 Q. Could you tell us what this is?
6 A. That's the mosque in upper Ahmici.
7 MR. MOSKOWITZ: Could you stop there for a
8 minute? Can we stop it now? Could we reverse and go
9 back to the big white house? Can we reverse and go
10 back to the big white house? Right there. No, too
11 far. That's it. Thank you.
12 Q. Does this house appear to be similar to the
13 one that you knocked on the door?
14 A. Yes, it looks like the house that faced the
15 turning circle. It was one of the houses that, in
16 stark contrast to the other houses, had not been
17 damaged at all and it still stood and was occupied.
18 Q. And I think you mentioned the sort of circle
19 of houses that were undamaged, and then outside the
20 circle, houses were damaged. Do you see the house --
21 A. That's correct.
22 Q. -- behind the undamaged house?
23 A. Yes, I do.
24 Q. And that is a damaged house?
25 A. Yes, it is.
1 Q. When you say that people were scurrying
2 around inside this house while you were knocking on it
3 and telling them to come out and talk to you, do you
4 recall where in that house you noticed curtains moving
5 and people about?
6 A. Just in the windows, certainly on the ground
7 floor, I remember seeing the curtains move and go back
9 Q. Did you notice any damage whatsoever to that
10 house by the turning circle when you went up to it and
11 knocked on the door?
12 A. I didn't see any damage, I don't remember
13 seeing any damage, and proportionately to the rest of
14 the village, which was destroyed, they appeared to be
16 Q. I know this video is not the clearest picture
17 in the world, but do you see any damage on this image
18 of this house taken on April 22nd?
19 A. Nothing -- no, I can see no damage to it at
21 Q. Thank you. You can proceed.
22 (Videotape played)
23 Q. I think you mentioned dead animals?
24 A. Yes, this is one -- the thing that was so
25 appalling is that everything was destroyed, sheep,
1 cattle, everything, and there were dead animals all
2 over the village.
3 Q. We see a dog there. Did you notice whether
4 the dogs were, in any way -- well, I don't know how to
5 put this delicately -- but involved with any of the
6 corpses that you had seen?
7 A. One of the reasons that we wanted to take
8 action to remove the corpses, was as the days
9 progressed, the corpses were obviously being eaten by
10 dogs or other wildlife.
11 Q. Now, Colonel Watters, based on everything you
12 had seen during the time period between the 16th of
13 April and the 22nd of April and everything you had
14 heard, and in particular based on what you had seen and
15 observed in the village of Ahmici, could you tell us,
16 as a military professional, what in your view had, in
17 fact, occurred in Ahmici on April 16th and 17th?
18 A. The village, which didn't appear to be
19 defended, had been systematically destroyed in a quite
20 ruthlessly efficient military operation. The surrounds
21 of the village, if you like, had been cordoned,
22 soldiers had been placed in cut-offs and we deduced that
23 from where we had seen the grass pressed down and the
24 empty cases from rifles, and then a house-clearing
25 operation, as we would describe it, had been conducted,
1 and people had been killed in their houses or had fled
2 their houses, and then simultaneously and subsequently,
3 all the houses had been burned.
4 Q. Not all, though.
5 A. All the houses had been burnt apart from, as
6 I described earlier, what we later understood to be
7 Croat houses in the village.
8 Q. And did that distinction between the houses
9 that had been destroyed, the vast majority had been
10 destroyed and the few that had not, give you an
11 indication of the kind of operation this really was on
12 April 16th?
13 A. We knew it was a Croat offensive that had
14 taken place, an HVO offensive, and we deduced later why
15 it had happened, and why it had happened then from the
16 circumstances surrounding it. It was a ruthless
17 operation, and we later came to understand why Ahmici
18 had possibly be selected for specifically savage and
19 total destruction; in that it was a centre within the
20 Lasva Valley, and indeed within the Muslim psyche of
21 Bosnia, it was quite a special place and the best
22 parallel I can probably draw is Guca Gora which is a
23 Croat village which had a similar significance to the
24 Croat peoples, and Ahmici provided a large number of
25 religious leaders to the Muslim faith within Bosnia,
1 larger than its population would suggest, so a
2 disproportionate number of young men from this village
3 had become Muslim imams and teachers. This is
4 something we didn't know until afterwards, and it made
5 it a particularly important target to the concept of
6 ethnically cleansing the Muslim people from the Lasva
7 Valley, I mean, it was a -- it was used, we believed,
8 as an example as to what would happen if you didn't
10 Q. Not perhaps dissimilar to the truck bomb
11 earlier in Vitez, an example of terror?
12 A. It certainly was an example of terror. One
13 of the things that did puzzle us later when we
14 discovered that the majority of the dead from Ahmici
15 had been taken to Vitez and we later buried a hundred
16 of those or helped the authorities in Vitez bury them
17 on the 28th, I think it was, of April, why that
18 particular house had been left, whether it had been
19 left as a deliberate sign of ritualistic terror or
20 whether it had just been overlooked, we never knew, but
21 it certainly was shocking and it certainly shocked my
23 Q. So would it be fair to say and conclude then
24 that your view of what had happened at Ahmici was that
25 this was a systematic and organised attempt to
1 ethnically cleanse that village?
2 A. I was in absolutely no doubt.
3 Q. Do you have an idea as to why it happened
4 then, on April 16th, that these systematic attacks
5 occurred throughout the Lasva Valley by the HVO? Why
7 A. There was the motive and there was the
8 opportunity, when one analysed it. The motive was to
9 ethnically cleanse the Muslim minority from the largely
10 Croat future canton ten as part of the Vance-Owen Plan
11 which was a copy cat technique that the Serbs at that
12 time were employing in Eastern Bosnia against the
13 Muslim minorities there.
14 Secondly, we believed that it was tied into a
15 wider plan to secure a Croat-controlled route from
16 Prozor around through Gornji Vakuf up through Vitez to
17 Kiseljak via the Kiseljak valley. And the securing of
18 that route had strategic implications with the
19 development of the Vance-Owen Plan and the ability of
20 the Serbs and the Muslims to close the main arterial
21 roads through the country which were blocked by the
22 Serbs and by the Muslim forces down in Mostar -- yes, I
23 mean Mostar, and so they were the reasons.
24 The opportunity, the imminence of the
25 possibility of the Vance-Owen Plan being a settlement
1 and being imposed on Central Bosnia, and from a
2 strategic military point of view the Muslim forces were
3 totally focused on the war with the Serbs in eastern
4 Bosnia and the media equally were nowhere to be seen in
5 the Lasva Valley. They were all in Tuzla watching the
6 quite dreadful scenes of the refugees coming out of
7 Srbrenica, and there was a window of opportunity. We
8 hadn't identified this before, and we had no inkling
9 that the Croats had an aspiration to secure ethnically
10 their part of Central Bosnia until, you know, the 16th
11 and 17th of April.
12 It wasn't a spontaneous -- in the past, we
13 had seen at the village level, the tactical level,
14 disagreements between opposing cultural and ethnic
15 groups spark up into conflict, and this is initially
16 what we thought it was until we understood the scale of
17 it with the use of mortars and artillery, and the other
18 confirmation of that hypothesis which we were putting
19 together -- I was putting together in our information
20 cell over the next few days, was the coordination of
21 the attacks throughout the valley and also in Prozor
22 and to the east of Prozor, to the Muslim villages
23 there, where there was a road that the bypass Gornji
24 Vakuf and could put through from Prozor straight across
25 to north of Kiseljak and Busovaca into the back of
1 Busovaca, and it appeared that the HVO were trying to
2 sort of push across from north of Prozor to Busovaca
3 and also, having essentially secured Gornji Vakuf, they
4 were securing the areas of possible BiH interdiction of
5 their arterial route into canton ten.
6 Q. Just to summarise your testimony, and tell me
7 if this is fair or not, that while the world and the
8 BiH army was looking elsewhere, the HVO took an
9 opportunity to ethnically cleanse the Lasva Valley in
10 anticipation of the Vance-Owen Plan coming into effect?
11 A. Yes, that's correct, and that was further
12 illustrated by the suing for peace over the period
13 18th, 19th, 20th, of the HVO at the strategic as well
14 as the operational level which involved the HVO not
15 giving up their gains but imposing a cease-fire at the
16 status quo of HVO gains, and this was initially
17 supported by Izetbegovic at sort of the strategic level
18 of the Muslim people but rejected at the operational
19 level because the operational commanders realised that
20 their position was totally untenable, and until they
21 had re-established their former lines and re-secured
22 their villages, they had no intention of suing for
23 peace, and it was that conflict of aspiration that
24 later led us to understand why the series of peace
25 initiatives that we negotiated up until the 21st, you
1 know, had no chance of ever happening, really, they
2 were just placating the United Nations.
3 MR. MOSKOWITZ: I just have, I think, one or
4 two very short areas to get into. I know we're at the
5 11.00 hour. I don't anticipate this will take more
6 than five minutes, ten minutes, perhaps.
7 Q. Earlier in your testimony, you had pointed
8 out for us the Dubravica school, and I want you to tell
9 us briefly what you remember on a particular day during
10 this time period when you were travelling over the
11 mountain road and noticed something unusual around the
12 Dubravica school area, if you would?
13 A. Yes. I was travelling on the mountain road,
14 and out of the Dubravica school came a column of men
15 and boys, some of whom had their hands tied behind
16 their backs, they looked like a prisoner column, and
17 they had -- some of them were also carrying spades and
18 pick axes and they were guarded by HVO soldiers, and
19 they were moving up the mountain road towards what we
20 knew were the HVO forward positions on the mountain
22 Q. Did you suspect that perhaps something was
23 going on at the Dubravica school that needed to be
24 looked into?
25 A. I mean, I deduced that the HVO were using the
1 Dubravica school as a prison camp and that my deduction
2 was that these prisoners were being taken to dig
3 trenches which is a contravention of the Geneva
4 Convention to use prisoners for such things, and on my
5 return, I reported that to the ICRC, the -- the ICRC.
6 Q. And it's your information that the ICRC then
7 went into the Dubravica school and essentially
8 negotiated a release of Muslims who were kept prisoner
9 in that school?
10 A. Yeah, a delegate from the ICRC visited the
11 Dubravica school and over a series of protracted
12 negotiations secured the release of prisoners from that
14 Q. Turning to a little different area, you
15 mentioned earlier about the burial in Stari Vitez or in
16 Vitez of the victims from the Lasva Valley attack, many
17 of whom were from Ahmici. Could you tell us what you
18 know about that burial and how that came about?
19 A. We were aware that the HVO and Vitez
20 authorities had an improvised morgue in the school in
21 Vitez, and we received a request, and I can't remember
22 whether it came from the civil or the military
23 authorities, if we would assist with the burying of up
24 to 100 bodies.
25 Q. What was the problem with those bodies?
1 A. It was a straight hygienic problem. They
2 were in various stages of decomposition, and they were
3 a considerable health threat.
4 Q. Was this on or about the 28th of April, 1993?
5 A. It was on the 28th of April, yes.
6 Q. So it would be about twelve days after the
7 attack in Ahmici?
8 A. Yeah. We sent our stretcher bearers and
9 Royal Engineers and "A" company to Vitez to assist and,
10 in reality, to actually dig a mass grave in a field
11 beside Vitez and to lay the bodies in the grave with
12 the help of the authorities and then fill it in.
13 Q. Do you remember, during that time period,
14 after the attacks on the valley, meeting a young girl
15 by the name of Melissa?
16 A. I met her in Colonel Stewart's accommodation
17 and she was in the company of two Red Cross delegates
18 and I had been invited to Colonel Stewart's
19 accommodation to join him for supper, and I was
20 introduced to the -- I knew one of the Red Cross
21 delegates, I was introduced to the other one, and a
22 young girl about the same age as my own daughter, and
23 she described how she had been in the village of Ahmici
24 and it was actually very poignant and tragic that her
25 mother and father and herself had been chased by
1 soldiers and there was a lot of noise and everyone lay
2 down on the grass, were made to get down on the grass,
3 there was a lot of noise, and then her mother and
4 father never got up again, and it's very tragic.
5 Q. And then finally, Colonel, I think you
6 mentioned the use of many different kinds of weapons
7 during the attack on the Lasva Valley. During your
8 stay there in Central Bosnia and in the Lasva Valley,
9 did you have occasion to see anti-aircraft weapons
10 placed on the back of flat bed trucks driven by HVO
12 A. Yes, I did, various types, some with two
13 barrels, some with four barrels, some 20-millimetre,
14 some up to 40-millimetre, and we were particularly
15 interested in them because they were, to our point of
16 view, they were combat indicators because they were
17 weapons that were controlled at least at the
18 operational level and not at the tactical level, so
19 where they were indicated that something important was
20 happening or was going to happen if they were deployed
22 MR. MOSKOWITZ: If I might ask the usher one
23 last time for this witness to ...
24 A. The other point we were interested in them is
25 they were one of the few weapons that we saw moderately
1 regularly that we thought would actually penetrate our
2 own armoured vehicles, so we were particularly
3 concerned about them.
4 Q. And you would make it a point, if you could,
5 to take photographs when you saw them?
6 A. Yeah. I did and everyone was instructed to.
7 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit number
9 MR. MOSKOWITZ:
10 Q. This would be Exhibit 24, when it appears on
11 the ELMO. There it is. Could you describe briefly
12 what that is and whose weapon that appears to be?
13 A. I took a photograph of either this vehicle or
14 one very similar to it in the Lasva Valley over that
15 period. It is an HVO vehicle, and, in fact, in the
16 photograph I originally had, you could quite plainly
17 see the HVO badge on the number plate. It's a
18 four-barrel anti-aircraft weapon mounted on a flatbed
19 truck, and with a crew. They quite often had a trailer
20 they towed with the ammunition in it as well.
21 Q. It's a little difficult for me anyway to make
22 out the four barrels. If you might point that out for
23 the Court, please?
24 A. The barrels are sort of pointing sky ward
25 here, one, two, three, four, that sort of area there
1 (indicating) and so that's the actual weapon itself.
2 The sandbags are probably used to stabilise the base of
3 the weapon, and these are sort of soldiers that are
4 crewing the weapon or protecting the weapon.
5 Q. Would these be HVO soldiers, based on your
7 A. It was an HVO vehicle. They're HVO
8 soldiers. I mean, in a better photograph, you'd
9 probably be able to distinguish their cap badges and
10 their badges.
11 Q. Just one last question. I'm a little
12 confused as to why there was a need for an
13 anti-aircraft weapon in Central Bosnia. Was there a
14 serious threat of air attack from anyone?
15 A. No. These vehicles -- these weapons were
16 mounted on vehicles in what we would describe as the
17 direct fire row and so they were actually used against
18 targets on the ground and I saw them actually firing
19 and they are utterly devastating.
20 Q. Are they fairly accurate weapon at distant
22 A. At distant ranges the spread of them is
23 considerable, at short ranges they are very accurate.
24 Q. When we're talking short range, what's a
25 short range for highly accurate targeting of that
2 A. I am not an expert, but from my observations
3 of the weapon firing, up to about six or so hundred
4 metres they are quite accurate. Their zone of fire is
5 quite small. As you then get longer ranges, the zone
6 of fire increases. The accuracy of zone of fire
7 remains, but the area in which the rounds fall gets
9 MR. MOSKOWITZ: Thank you, Colonel.
10 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you. Before we take a
11 break, may I ask a question to Mr. Pavkovic.
12 Mr. Pavkovic, who is going to cross-examine the witness
13 on behalf of various legal counsel?
14 MR. PAVKOVIC: Mr. President, the Defence
15 would like to notify the Trial Chamber on two issues.
16 First, we owe you our reply, and that is that the
17 Defence will make opening statements after the
18 Prosecution completes its case and before the beginning
19 of the Defence case.
20 Secondly, the Defence does not agree with the
21 position that only one of the Defence counsel should
22 carry out the cross-examination of Prosecution
23 witnesses. It is the position of the Defence that that
24 would infringe upon the rights of the Defence. Our
25 position is as follows: When there are several accused
1 on the same indictment, as we have in this case, the
2 Defence believe that the right of each Defendant should
3 not be impaired as a result, including the right to
5 That is why the Defence would like to propose
6 that it be given the chance for each Defence counsel to
7 cross-examine each of the Prosecution witnesses.
8 Thank you.
9 JUDGE CASSESE: Let me respond right away.
10 Actually, yesterday, I simply read out one of our
11 guidelines where it is clear that the Defence may
12 consider appointing one of them to cross-examine a
13 particular witness, so we didn't say that you would
14 have to appoint, in each case, only one legal counsel.
15 It goes without saying that if a witness, in
16 examination-in-chief, addresses issues relating to,
17 say, three accused, of course it goes without saying
18 that Defence counsel for each of the accused have a
19 right to cross-examine that particular witness.
20 I raised this issue yesterday because, in
21 this particular case, the witness, Colonel Watters, has
22 not spoken about any particular accused, so I thought
23 that probably in this particular case at least, only
24 one Defence counsel could cross-examine the witness on
25 behalf of all the others. But, of course, it's open to
1 you to decide who is going to cross-examine the
2 witness, and if you wish that all Defence counsel
3 should cross-examine the witnesses, why not? It just
4 was a measure designed to save time.
5 In any case, if many Defence counsel are
6 going to cross-examine the witness, they are not
7 allowed to put the same questions. This is obvious.
8 They would have to put different questions. We don't
9 want to have any repetition.
10 So maybe after the break, you will tell us
11 who is going to cross-examine the witness, how many of
12 you, so that we can see also how much time we need.
13 All right? So we will now take a 30-minute
15 --- Recess taken at 11.13 a.m.
16 --- On resuming at 11.45 a.m.
17 JUDGE CASSESE: Mr. Pavkovic?
18 MR. PAVKOVIC: Mr. President, the Defence
19 accepts your opinion and has decided that this witness
20 should be questioned by Defence counsel Ranko Radovic
21 on behalf of all Defence counsel. His
22 cross-examination will take an hour to an hour and a
23 half, and Mr. Borislav Krajina, who will question the
24 witness for about ten minutes. The other Defence
25 counsel will ask to question the witness if they feel
1 the need to do so without repeating what has already
2 been said.
3 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you. Mr. Radovic?
4 Cross-examined by Mr. Radovic:
5 Q. I am Ranko Radovic, Defence counsel for
6 Kupreskic, for Zoran Kupreskic.
7 Colonel, as I have seen from your curriculum,
8 you have worked your way up through all the ranks, is
9 that true, to the rank of Colonel?
10 A. Yes, I ...
11 (Interpreter's microphone not turned off)
12 A. ... and have all the ranks from Second
13 Lieutenant to Lieutenant-Colonel. I did not serve in
14 the ranks below officer.
15 Q. Your military training, is it directed toward
16 military matters, or has your military education and
17 experience involved political issues?
18 A. As a professional soldier for 25 years, I've
19 practised my profession and studied my profession, and
20 most military operations are designed to further
21 political ends, so I have studied the politics of war
22 as well as the practice of war.
23 Q. But the military carries through the practice
24 of war, and it is the politicians who issue political
25 directives; would you agree with that?
1 A. Yes, sir.
2 Q. You mentioned that something was happening in
3 Zenica in connection with Zivko Totic; did I understand
4 you well?
5 A. Yes, sir. On the 15th of April, Commander
6 Totic was kidnapped in Zenica and I think his four
7 bodyguards were killed.
8 Q. Who was Zivko Totic? What kind of commander
9 was he?
10 A. I understood him to be the head of the HVO
11 military police in Zenica.
12 Q. You said that this happened on the 15th of
13 April, which is one day before the events in Ahmici;
14 did I understand you well?
15 A. Yes, sir.
16 Q. Now, let us see what the witness knows about
17 the accused. You have seen a group of people in this
18 courtroom which I presume that, in your contacts with
19 the HVO in the course of your duties in the area of
20 Vitez and the surrounding area, you never met. The
21 question is: Have you ever seen these people before
22 seeing them in this courtroom?
23 A. I can't say that I have. I have no direct
24 recollection of any of the gentlemen sitting there.
25 Q. Were you familiar with the names of these
1 people? If not, I will tell you their names. Or,
2 better still, I can tell you their names to shorten the
3 procedure. They're called Zoran Kupreskic, Mirjan
4 Kupreskic, Vlatko Kupreskic, Drago Josipovic, Dragan
5 Papic, and Vladimir Santic. Do any of these names mean
6 anything to you?
7 A. The only name I recognise is Santic. I knew
8 several -- all several people called Santic in Vitez
9 but not known to me. I normally only dealt with the
10 commanders in Vitez, and I don't remember Mr. Santic
11 being a commander, but his name is familiar.
12 Q. You gave a description of the events in Vitez
13 and its environs. Can you give a description which
14 would involve the participation of any of the accused
15 in any way?
16 A. I have no direct knowledge of any of the
17 accused being involved in the events in Vitez and its
19 Q. Since you are primarily a soldier and have
20 dealt with military matters, I would like to ask you
21 whether, in your opinion, it was of strategic
22 importance for the HVO -- well, whether Ahmici was of
23 strategic importance for the HVO.
24 A. I don't believe Ahmici was of strategic
25 military importance as I was unaware that Ahmici was
1 defended as a locality, so I don't believe it was a
2 military target. What I did say in my evidence was, as
3 time went on, we believed that Ahmici had psychological
4 significance in the ethnic cleansing of the Muslim
5 population from the Lasva Valley. So it had an
6 emotional significance to the Muslim people.
7 I have not thought about the tactics of
8 ethnic cleansing. I suppose if you were to decide
9 where you would send a message to the rest of the
10 people within the Lasva Valley that they were no longer
11 welcome and they were to leave, Ahmici, with the
12 benefit of hindsight, was the perfect place to send
13 that message, and it was one of our regrets. We had
14 not realised that before.
15 Q. Does the village of Ahmici come down to the
16 Vitez-Busovaca road or, more precisely, whether the
17 road passes through Ahmici?
18 A. I couldn't tell you where Santici and Ahmici
19 and the other small villages, where the village
20 boundaries are, I'm afraid. We looked at them in the
21 area of the names on the map as the general area of the
22 villages and hadn't personally actually realised that
23 Ahmici went up as far into the valley as it did.
24 Q. In the area where Ahmici is situated, do any
25 of the houses extend on the other side of the road?
1 A. I wouldn't know, sir.
2 Q. Is there any other route from Vitez toward
3 Busovaca except for the road which passes by or runs
4 through Ahmici?
5 A. Not that I have ever travelled and not that
6 would have taken our Warrior vehicles.
7 Q. If this were the only road and you know of no
8 other, would this road then be of essential importance
9 for the manoeuvring of the HVO and for their strength?
10 A. Yes, and in my evidence previously, I
11 described the importance of that route linking from
12 Novi Travnik up to Gornji Vakuf, down past Vitez,
13 Busovaca, and down to Kiseljak. That was of strategic
14 importance to the HVO.
15 Q. When you arrived in Vitez, did you become
16 familiar with what had been going on before your
17 arrival in Vitez; more specifically, were you aware of
18 the fact that, on the 20th of October, 1992, the
19 Muslims had cut off the road by the Catholic cemetery
20 in Ahmici, thus making it impossible for HVO forces to
21 pass through?
22 A. I was not aware of that specific roadblock.
23 I was aware that from '92, until my battalion arrived
24 in October '92, and from October '92 until when I
25 arrived at the end of January, beginning of February,
1 there had been a lot of fighting in the area between
2 Busovaca and Kiseljak and in the area between the
3 Busovaca junction and down towards the -- what we would
4 describe as the Zenica flyover; and we, at various
5 times in January and February, positioned our armoured
6 vehicles at strategic points like Kaonik at the request
7 of the HVO forces for their security, for the security
8 of their people.
9 Q. We will now talk about purely military
10 matters. When there is information to the effect that
11 the opposing side is evacuating civilians from their
12 houses and when this information reaches the commanding
13 officer of the opposite side, what would this
14 information mean to the officer of the opposite side?
15 A. In a hypothetical case, if you believed that
16 the civilians are being evacuated from the area, it
17 would lead you to believe that the opposite side had
18 intent to prosecute some form of military operation,
19 and as required by the Geneva Convention, they were
20 moving the civilian population --
21 Q. Please.
22 A. It is incumbent in the Geneva Convention on
23 military commanders to ameliorate the damage to
24 civilians in the prosecuting of military operations and
25 it would be a combat indicator that there was the
1 possibility of a military operation.
2 Q. If a commanding officer who received that
3 information were to fail to undertake these actions
4 that you described, what kind of commander would he be
5 considered to be?
6 A. If a commander failed to evacuate civilians
7 from the area or attempted to evacuate civilians, then
8 he would be in contravention of the Geneva Convention.
9 He would have to have shown that he did his best to do
11 Q. Is it possible to arrive at a concentration
12 of forces required for an attack without being noticed
13 by guards on the opposite side, if they were truly
15 A. I would hope to be able to achieve it, yes.
16 Q. If the guards noticed and informed their
17 commander of this and their commander failed to take
18 any action, what kind of a commander would he be
19 considered to be?
20 I have to ask this, Mr. President, because we
21 have some witnesses who will corroborate the facts I am
22 asking about, so I would like these questions to be
23 responded to from the viewpoint of a military expert.
24 A. Again, in a hypothetical case, if a commander
25 realises that the opposition is marshalling forces, he
1 would deduce that they are probably going to attack
2 them, and as surprise is one of the principles of war,
3 the person who attacks first very often is successful
4 utilising surprise.
5 Q. If a Croat comes to a Muslim and says to him,
6 "Something is going to take place tonight," and the
7 Muslim informs his police officer what this Croat has
8 told him and they fail to take any action, what would
9 you, as a high-ranking military officer, say about this
11 A. I'm not quite sure I understand that
12 question, sir.
13 Q. There is information to the effect that a
14 Croat informed his Muslim friend that there was going
15 to be an attack that night, and this Muslim informed a
16 Muslim police officer about this and he did nothing
17 about it, he did nothing to warn the others. What
18 would you say about such a police officer from the
19 viewpoint of army intelligence?
20 A. Again, in hypothetical terms, he patently
21 failed in his duties. To put it in -- if we are
22 talking in context of what was happening in Central
23 Bosnia at that time, I might have, if I was dealing
24 with that policeman, I might have a degree of empathy
25 with his lack of action because the entire place was
1 full of rumour and counter-rumour, so it would be a
2 matter of judgement on the part of that policeman in the
3 context, and I don't think I can really comment on
4 that. But in theory, he failed to report something
5 that was significant.
6 Q. Were you familiar with a military doctrine
7 prevailing on the territory of the former Yugoslavia
8 and the former republics of the former Yugoslavia,
9 including Bosnia and Herzegovina?
10 A. I don't know what you mean by the military
11 doctrine. When I arrived, the prevailing military
12 doctrine within Central Bosnia was the defence of their
13 front-line positions against the Serbs, and to achieve
14 that, there was an alliance between the BiH and the
15 HVO. I would say the doctrine at that time of that
16 alliance was survival.
17 Q. I have seen your statement to the effect that
18 the organisation of the army was at the level of the
19 First World War, but I would like to know whether you
20 are familiar with a doctrine of national defence, all
21 people's defence?
22 A. In general terms, I am familiar with the
23 doctrine of survival, which is the mobilisation of
24 everybody to play their part in the survival of the
25 state as existed. I can't say that I studied and
1 wasn't aware of published doctrine, as I understand
2 doctrine, military doctrine, that existed for that
3 particular time and that particular alliance in
4 Bosnia. I saw no doctrine, sir, other than what I
5 witnessed with my own eyes.
6 Q. Are you familiar with the fact that there was
7 legislation on all people's defence obliging everybody
8 to take part in the defence regardless of age or
10 A. I was aware that there was a national call to
11 defend Central Bosnia and everybody had a part to play
12 in that. I never saw women or children carrying arms.
13 Q. You said that you saw no bodies of soldiers.
14 Does that mean that there were no dead soldiers, or do
15 you allow the possibility that there were corpses of
17 A. I just said what I saw. It was one of the
18 first battlefields I had ever been through where I saw
19 no dead soldiers, and it just was a stark situation.
20 Of course, there could have been soldiers away from the
21 road in the buildings or out of my sight. I didn't see
22 them. The only bodies I saw were those of civilians.
23 Q. Did I understand well that you considered
24 there were no dead soldiers because there were no
25 corpses dressed in uniforms?
1 A. That's correct. My assumption that they
2 weren't soldiers was they were not in uniforms and also
3 some of them -- some of the male corpses were old, and
4 obviously children and women, and that's why I made the
5 assumption that they weren't soldiers.
6 Q. You exclude the possibility that particular
7 soldiers of the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina took off
8 their uniforms during combat and put on civilian
9 clothing, thus concealing themselves. Among the
10 material, there is evidence to the effect that there
11 was a soldier who slept in uniform, but when the
12 fighting started, he took off his uniform and put on
13 civilian clothes.
14 A. Of course, that's a possibility. As I said,
15 what shocked me was the fact they were in civilian
16 clothes. They looked like civilians. Some of them
17 were women and children. If there had been individual
18 soldiers fighting in civilian clothes, I can't comment.
19 Q. I would now like to ask about a question you
20 have already answered. You said that surprise is an
21 essential element in a good military operation; did I
22 understand you well?
23 A. Yes, sir.
24 Q. As a commander of a platoon and lower-level
25 units, I presume that you trained your soldiers for
1 combat in a populated area.
2 A. Yes, sir. We call that part of our doctrine
3 FIBUA, fighting in built-up areas.
4 Q. I presume that all armies train; and train
5 through houses or villages in a similar way, and since
6 I was an army conscript once, I would like to see
7 whether we trained in the same way.
8 How, in fighting in built-up areas, does a
9 soldier enter a house in which he expects to find an
10 armed opponent?
11 A. Having the initial phase of the break-in of
12 the operation where you seize the initial houses in the
13 front of the village, and to do that you would probably
14 use all the fire-power at your disposal, direct and
15 indirect fire, the actual house-clearing tactic would
16 involve securing a side of the house or other sides of
17 the house are neutralised with supporting fire and also
18 the surrounding houses are neutralised so they can't
19 shoot at the soldiers assaulting the target house.
20 A team would have rehearsed and trained to
21 actually enter the house at whatever point the decision
22 was made to enter. We would normally, if possible,
23 blow a hole with a tank or a satchel charge in one of
24 the walls of the house to avoid going through the doors
25 or windows, which would be too obvious and, having
1 blown the hole in the house, would throw through
2 grenades to neutralise the initial room and then follow
3 into that room, and from there, clear the house in
4 whichever direction you had decided to clear it, either
5 going from the top down or from the bottom up.
6 Q. You gave a description which applies to an
7 army with better technology than the HVO or the BiH
8 army had because, as you yourself said, neither one of
9 these armies in the Vitez area had tanks.
10 Do you allow the possibility that an army
11 which has no tanks would first throw hand grenades into
12 the building and then burst in, shooting from
13 firearms? That is how I was taught to do it when I was
14 a conscript.
15 A. If you can't gain access through an
16 unexpected position utilising surprise, then you would
17 choose a window or a door for the initial penetration
18 point and you would throw grenades through the window
19 or through the door before you then followed, shooting
20 into that room, and then shooting through the ceiling
21 and the floor.
22 Q. You said that the fighting did not take place
23 exclusively in Ahmici but that there was fighting
24 throughout the Lasva River Valley at the same time and
25 you said that this was a highly coordinated military
1 action; did I understand you well?
2 A. Yes, sir.
3 Q. This highly coordinated military operation --
4 well, when such an action is planned, do ordinary
5 soldiers take part in the planning?
6 A. Not normally, no, sir. The commanders plan.
7 Q. Do the platoon commanders take part in such
9 A. They would plan the area of responsibility
10 delegated to them in the orders they had received from
11 their company or battalion commanders, so they would
12 plan their part of it, and that would be in what we
13 would call the battle procedure prior to the fighting,
14 and at what stage that would be would depend upon a
15 whole series of factors.
16 Q. As far as I understand, their part of the
17 planning comes only after they have been informed of
18 the attack and when they are assigned their area of
19 responsibility and the tasks they have to perform, and
20 then they plan what their soldiers have to do; did I
21 understand you well?
22 A. That's exactly so, sir, yes.
23 Q. But the initial plan, which is followed by
24 planning at the lower levels, the initial plan, at what
25 level is it worked out for such a coordinated
1 operation? Is it at brigade level or a higher staff
3 A. If we are being specific to the Lasva Valley,
4 it would have had to been planned at least the
5 operational level with the sort of regional military
6 commander planning it, who, at the time, was Colonel
7 Blaskic. He would also require resources from a higher
8 level than that, so it would have had to have been
9 planned at the regional and possibly military strategic
11 Q. When an army arrives at a position where
12 there are friendly houses, because the Prosecutor has
13 showed us Croatian houses which were not destroyed, so
14 when a friendly army comes to that house and tells the
15 owner that the house is required for military purposes,
16 is there any possibility for the owner of the house not
17 to allow this friendly army to use his house?
18 A. I'm sure I wouldn't want to remain with my
19 family in somewhere I was told was going to be a battle
20 zone anyway. I'm sure if I was the owner of that house
21 and someone came to me and said, "We're attacking the
22 village where your house is, I think you ought to
23 leave," I would leave.
24 Q. When you talked about explosions of heavy
25 artillery, we said that this was not in Vitez; did I
1 understand you well?
2 A. No, I said there was artillery and mortar
3 fire in the area of Vitez town and the surrounding
4 areas on the morning of the 16th.
5 Q. What kind of artillery? Was it just
6 artillery or mortars or was it a combined attack?
7 A. We understood it was mortars and artillery.
8 It's technically very difficult, when you are on the
9 receiving end, to tell what it is. It is just
10 something falling out of the sky and exploding. From
11 the size of the explosion, you can estimate whether
12 it's mortars or artillery, but as mortars in Bosnia
13 went up to calibres of 120-millimetre, they have the
14 equivalent power of most artillery pieces. The only
15 difference is the range over which they can be fired.
16 We did not see initially any of the
17 mortar-firing bases. We identified some of them later,
18 and they were Croat positions.
19 Q. How did you know that there were many imams
20 coming from Ahmici?
21 A. It was something that we were told as the
22 days and weeks passed. We were very puzzled as to why
23 Ahmici was singled out for such total destruction and
24 we were looking -- we were asking for reasons why
25 Ahmici was so significant compared to other towns that
1 were not military garrisons, why it had been singled
2 out, and that was one of the reasons we were given by
3 various people within our circle of acquaintance.
4 Q. So this was information that reached you from
5 Muslim sources?
6 A. Most probably. I mean, to be honest, it was
7 just a series of conversations that one had. They
8 could well have been with Muslims.
9 Q. Apart from this conflict in Ahmici over which
10 there was a battle, according to the Defence, because
11 of the road, were there any other conflicts along that
12 road at some other localities?
13 A. There were -- I think I'd have to define
14 "conflict." They appeared to be rather one-sided
15 conflicts with the exception of Vitez and Kruscica in
16 that they didn't appear to be battles, they just
17 appeared to be ethnic cleansing.
18 On the 19th of April, I was returning from
19 Zenica. In the Lasva Valley south of Ahmici, there was
20 a small group of houses, and the people from the
21 houses, as my Warrior came down the road, ran out and
22 lay down in the road in front of my Warrior. I
23 stopped, we got out, and we had an interpreter with us
24 from another United Nations' aid agency, and there was
25 a group of Croat soldiers from what we used to call
1 "the Bungalows," and they were telling the people in
2 these houses that if they didn't leave their houses,
3 they would be burnt inside them. The women and mostly
4 old men and children were absolutely petrified for
5 their lives.
6 I spoke to the commander of these soldiers
7 who said that the houses were needed for displaced
8 Croat families and that his orders were that these
9 people were to leave.
10 The people themselves seemed utterly
11 convinced that they would be killed if we left them
13 I have to admit at that time, on the 19th of
14 April, I was a little sceptical that these Croat
15 soldiers would murder these people, and we're talking
16 30 or 40 people, but their fear was so real in their
17 own minds that I decided that we would move those
18 people from there to a place of safety under the --
19 with the support of another United Nations' agency, and
20 that was a personal example that I had of what ethnic
21 cleansing meant, the threat of, "If you don't move,
22 your buildings will be burnt and you will be killed."
23 And those people decided to move.
24 For the remainder of my time in Bosnia, those
25 buildings were never burnt, but they were never
1 occupied again by the people that we had moved from
3 Q. Could you tell me, please, whether you know
4 any locality from which the Croats had been ethnically
5 cleansed by the Muslims?
6 A. I don't know in that period of time. There
7 were areas within our area of responsibility where this
8 had happened, yes, and one specific incident happened
9 during this time which was -- I think it was in
10 response to the shelling of Zenica, the Muslim forces
11 in Zenica were in the process of ethnically cleansing
12 the Croat population from Zenica, and Colonel Stewart
13 was driving across the mountain road when about 400
14 people surrounded his Warrior and explained that their
15 lives were in danger.
16 We dispatched some armoured vehicles to a
17 church, a Catholic church just outside Zenica, where we
18 remained overnight to protect these people while we
19 contacted the mayor of Zenica who sent resources and
20 buses back to bring the people back to their homes, and
21 we assisted and secured the move of them back into
22 their houses, and the -- I mean, that really was more
23 or less the end of the incident. But there was an
24 example of ethnic cleansing of Croats which, in the
25 end, didn't take place, although many Croats did leave
1 because they no longer felt safe.
2 So, yes, I did see that.
3 Q. Could you tell us, please, whether you heard
4 of the events in localities called Poculica and
5 Bobasi. These were places from which the Croats were
7 A. I certainly remember Poculica, yes, and, yes,
8 the population in Poculica had been ethnically
9 cleansed. We never found any bodies there. We believe
10 the people had left before their houses were burnt.
11 Q. You mean the Croats had left those villages?
12 A. That's right, sir.
13 Q. Who, in your opinion, is actually responsible
14 for the war between the Croats and the Muslims? Would
15 you agree that this varied from region to region and
16 depending on the period of time? So that you cannot
17 give a one-sided answer.
18 A. We never took a one-sided view. Throughout
19 Bosnia, the propensity for ethnic cleansing normally
20 laid with the majority population in any particular
21 part of Bosnia, and the minority population tended to
22 be the victim. That didn't matter -- that wasn't based
23 on religion or culture, that was just a demographic
25 For example, in Tuzla, the population that
1 were oppressed and the victims of an oppressive regime
2 tended to be the Serb minority and the Croat minority.
3 In Central Bosnia, it tended to be the Muslim minority
4 who were the victims.
5 And, so, yes, it depended on what part of
6 Bosnia, and it really depended on who the majority
7 population were. As with the Serbs in eastern Bosnia,
8 there appeared to be a requirement to create
9 ethnically homogenous areas within the State of
10 Bosnia-Herzegovina in anticipation of the Vance-Owen
11 Plan which, by its very structure, gave -- and the
12 concept of democracy gave the power to the majority
13 population in each canton, and it appeared to us that
14 throughout Bosnia, including the area controlled by the
15 Serbs, there was a requirement to rid cantons of their
16 minority populations.
17 Q. Could you tell us anything about the ratio of
18 armaments between the Muslims and the Croats, the ratio
19 and the strength of armaments? If you can, then will
20 you tell us where your information comes from?
21 A. I can only give you a very general
22 perception, and the perception was that the areas that
23 were controlled by the HVO, there were very few armed
24 Muslims within it, and the areas controlled by the BiH,
25 there were very few armed Croats.
1 The actual forces, if you looked after the
2 16th, that were engaged in the Lasva Valley, initially
3 there was an overwhelming ratio of Croats to Muslims,
4 and the Croats certainly had the monopoly of heavy
5 weapons of mortars and artillery, which remained a
6 constant throughout that period in April. As the 3rd
7 corps brought their forces back from eastern Bosnia,
8 the number of Muslims outnumbered the Croat soldiers.
9 My sources were our own observations,
10 discussions with the military commanders, and these
11 were placed in our military information summaries and
12 sent to our headquarters in Kiseljak.
13 Q. Tell us, please, whether, in order to break
14 up the HVO in Zenica, was Zivko Totic arrested and his
15 escort killed? Was that part of that operation?
16 A. No. The two incidents I have described, the
17 attack on the Croat population of Zenica, happened
18 after the kidnapping of Mr. Totic and the kidnapping of
19 Mr. Totic and the murder of his bodyguards in Zenica
20 was something that we, at first, did not understand,
21 and that is why Colonel Stewart, on the night of the
22 15th, was in Zenica having discussions with the mayor
23 and commander of 3rd BiH corps to try and find out what
24 had happened so we could provide whatever help we could
25 in recovering Mr. Totic, and we had done similar things
1 before when people had been kidnapped or vehicles
2 stolen and so on.
3 Q. But did you know that there was any HV unit
4 in Zenica or of the HOS?
5 A. There were HOV units within Zenica on the
6 outside of the town in some of the villages. I don't
7 know the actual disposition. I may have done at the
8 time, but five years later, I can't remember the
9 detail. There were certainly elements of HVO within
10 Zenica, on the outskirts.
11 JUDGE CASSESE: Sorry, Mr. Radovic. May I
12 suggest that we break now, is it all right with you,
13 for our lunch break, and we will convene at 2.00
15 I hope this will not inconvenience Colonel
16 Watters. I understand that you had to go back home,
17 but, I'm sorry, we need you here this afternoon.
18 THE WITNESS: My second-in-command is
19 commanding my battalion in Northern Ireland at the
20 moment, sir.
21 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you. All right. We
22 rise now.
1 --- Luncheon recess taken at 12.31 p.m.
1 --- On resuming at 2.05 p.m.
2 JUDGE CASSESE: Good afternoon. Mr. Radovic.
3 MR. RADOVIC: Thank you I should like to
4 explain to the Prosecutor the problem of the
5 anti-aircraft guns and how they got there.
6 Q. Could you tell us, Colonel, the Prosecutor
7 didn't quite understand what anti-aircraft guns were
8 doing in Vitez. Are you aware that there was a
9 dynamite or explosives factory in Vitez?
10 A. Yes, I was.
11 Q. Did you know that within the framework of
12 that factory, there were some anti-aircraft guns as
13 part of the Territorial Defence or as part of the
14 system I referred to earlier as all people's defence?
15 A. No, I wasn't aware that it was defended by
16 anti-aircraft guns.
17 Q. At the time, when you arrived in the area of
18 Vitez, was there a no-fly zone established already
20 A. Yes, there was.
21 Q. Did you know that before this no-fly zone was
22 established over Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serb or rather
23 Yugoslav planes tried to shell the explosives factory?
24 A. I could quite believe that. The point I made
25 about the anti-aircraft guns mounted on the flatbed
1 lorries is we had seen them used in the direct row
2 against houses and positions up and down the valley and
3 in other parts of Bosnia, and that they were, in terms
4 of the HVO and the BiH, these were prestige weapons
5 which had the combat power to make a serious
6 contribution to any battle and, in fact, when deployed
7 gave those who had them in their possession the upper
8 hand. We saw them frequently used like that. I never
9 saw them used against aircraft because I never saw any
11 Q. Do you know anything about the villages of
12 Javor, Putis, Tusina, Nezirovici, Kacuni, Bilalovac,
13 and Jelinak? These are Croatian villages within the
14 area of Busovaca which were ethnically cleansed in
15 January 1993?
16 A. Yes, I know of those villages and I know
17 there was fighting there in January '93. I know about
18 half of them personally, but I know of their existence.
19 Q. Yes, you're aware of the fighting. But were
20 those places cleansed of Croats?
21 A. The only personal experience I have, for
22 example, of the village of Jelinak was to visit it on
23 about the 24th or 25th of April where it had been
24 ransacked and the people had left it and there was one
25 dead body in it, and, yes, that term "ethnically
1 cleansed" could be used for that village.
2 Q. One further point. The Prosecutor is
3 charging the accused, regardless of whether they will
4 have evidence to corroborate all the charges as to
5 their participation in these events, that before the
6 attack on Ahmici, they did not inform the opposing side
7 of the preparations for an attack.
8 Is it customary in wartime conditions to
9 announce attack plans to the opposing side?
10 A. No, it's not, but I would contest that from
11 the evidence I had, that that was not a military
12 target. It was a village occupied largely by civilians
13 or soldiers home on leave, and it did not constitute a
14 defended locality that required attacking in the way it
15 was attacked.
16 The two defended localities of the BiH in the
17 Lasva Valley were Kruscica and Vitez. The remaining
18 villages were not defended and the speed with which
19 they were destroyed reinforces our belief at the time
20 that they were not BiH positions and were certainly,
21 under any rules of international law or war, were not
22 military targets.
23 Q. May I ask the witness to answer the questions
24 put to him and to limit his remarks to answering those
25 questions? I didn't want to interrupt him, but we are
1 not asking for the witness's opinion. But I could tell
2 you that among Prosecution witnesses, there are some 15
3 to 20 people who admit having weapons and admit
4 defending themselves, so please do not step outside the
5 framework of the question.
6 A. You're asking my opinion and you're getting
7 my opinion, sir.
8 JUDGE CASSESE: Yes. Mr. Radovic, you asked
9 whether it is customary in wartime conditions to
10 announce attack plans to the opposing sides. I read
11 out your question. And I think the witness did respond
12 to your question.
13 MR. RADOVIC: Very well. I have completed my
15 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you. Thank you so
16 much. And I think -- I think Mr. Krajina will now take
17 over? Thank you. Mr. Krajina?
18 Cross-examined by Mr. Krajina:
19 Q. Your Honours, my learned friend Radovic posed
20 a number of questions to the witness that I had
21 intended to ask him, so I will not repeat them so as
22 not to waste any time.
23 I have only one or perhaps two questions for
24 this witness.
25 Colonel, I should like to ask you to try and
1 recall the videotape shown to you by the Prosecutor. I
2 think it was Exhibit number 23, if I remember well,
3 which showed an undamaged house in Ahmici that you
4 referred to and you compared it to the neighbouring
5 destroyed buildings, and I wanted to ask you whether
6 you know which house I mean, so that I can go on with
7 my question.
8 A. Yes, sir.
9 Q. Thank you. Do you know who that house
10 belongs to, who is the owner of that house?
11 A. No, sir.
12 Q. Did you see that house directly on the ground
13 when you visited Ahmici?
14 A. Yes, I did, sir.
15 Q. Do you remember still its position within the
16 village of Ahmici, how it stands in relation to the
17 village itself or the upper Ahmici, lower Ahmici, as
18 that house is situated somewhere on the edge of lower
20 A. Yes, I described it as being opposite what we
21 used to call the turning circle where -- normally it's
22 about as far up into Ahmici as we could take our
23 Warriors, so on the map I pointed it as the white
24 cleared area. It was, if you like, the front house of
25 a group of houses that had not been destroyed.
1 Q. Could you tell us, please, as a professional
2 soldier, from the standpoint of military doctrine, what
3 was the strategic position and significance of that
4 house, if any, in relation to the military operation
5 that you described for us today?
6 A. I could not then, or even now, perceive that
7 those particular houses had, in military terms, any
8 strategic significance. The only significance we
9 discovered later was that the people who lived in them
10 were of a different ethnic background than the people
11 who lived in all the destroyed houses, but the actual
12 positions of the houses themselves, I could see no
13 particular military significance in those houses; and
14 at that time, I did not realise that they were occupied
15 by Croat people, I just couldn't understand how they
16 had survived and how there were people still in them
17 and ascertained to try and talk to the people but they
18 wouldn't come and talk to us.
19 We did presume they might be too frightened,
20 because we really did not know what had happened, and
21 we were trying to answer questions, and the largest
22 question in our mind is: Why is there one group of
23 houses that are almost untouched and another, the rest
24 of the village, absolutely destroyed? It was, you
25 know, very difficult to understand.
1 Q. But once you had grown familiar with the area
2 and after your tour of these places, could you now or
3 after that date, since the house is on the edge between
4 the Croatian houses and the Muslim houses, does this
5 position of those houses mean anything from the
6 military standpoint?
7 A. I can't draw any conclusion, sir. I have
8 never thought about it in any terms. I could see no
9 military significance for that house and other houses
10 in terms of the lay of the land and the ground, the
11 high ground and the low ground, there were other houses
12 destroyed that were in similar tactical positions to
13 that house.
14 Q. Yes. But do you recall were there houses
15 that were not destroyed and that had more or less the
16 same position as this one?
17 A. There were a clutch of houses at the top of
18 the road, and if you like, the top of lower Ahmici or
19 the bottom of upper Ahmici, there was a clutch of
20 houses with the odd one destroyed among them but a
21 definite grouping of houses that had not been
22 destroyed. That's what made them different, in our
23 view, the fact they were standing.
24 Q. If any army were to believe that this house
25 we are talking about constitutes a strategically
1 important feature from the military standpoint, in your
2 opinion would that be correct? Would there be any
3 justification to seize that house as a strategic
5 A. I can't see any reason why that house would
6 have been seized and left standing, no, sir, no more
7 than I could have chosen dozens of houses that I could
8 have used as -- for example, impromptu headquarters if
9 I had been attacking that village. I don't quite
10 understand what you're getting at, actually.
11 Q. What do you think, the army that was carrying
12 out the operation you referred to, was it trying to
13 capture those houses?
14 A. My belief was that the HVO attacked that
15 village, those houses were occupied by Croat people,
16 and the HVO, for that reason, did not attack and
17 destroy those houses, and we still saw people in those
18 houses when we returned on the 22nd, and they were the
19 only people living in Ahmici.
20 Q. In that case, is your opinion that the army
21 that was carrying out this operation, had no need to
22 use houses like this as strategic points?
23 A. I don't believe they did. The only reason we
24 believe those houses were not destroyed was because
25 they were Croat houses and the soldiers that attacked
1 the village were Croat soldiers and they didn't attack
2 their own people. That was what we deduced later. At
3 the time we first entered the village, it was a
4 conundrum that we couldn't understand.
5 Q. Could you comment if the allegation is made
6 that Croatian soldiers captured those houses and shot
7 from them, opened fire from them, because that is an
8 allegation by the Prosecution?
9 A. As they were occupied by Croat people, I
10 would suspect they didn't need to capture them, and if
11 you are now talking, did that particular house, for
12 example, have fields of fire across the open ground
13 leading down to lower Ahmici, then the answer is "Yes,"
14 from that house, you would cover the escape routes or
15 fields of fire below that part of Ahmici toward lower
16 Ahmici, but I don't know if that was the case. The
17 only fire positions we found were actually on the
18 ground in the area of that house and leading down the
19 road in the fields which I described earlier.
20 Q. If I understood you well, Colonel, it would
21 follow from this that that house was indeed suitable
22 strategically, in view of what you have just said,
23 because of the fields of fire?
24 A. I think strategic is rather a strong word.
25 I'd probably use the word "tactical," but putting
1 soldiers in that house would make tactical sense.
2 MR. KRAJINA: Yes, yes, that's fine.
3 I have no further questions. Thank you.
4 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you so much,
5 Mr. Krajina. I think there was -- yes, please,
6 Mr. Puliselic
7 Cross-examined by Mr. Puliselic:
8 MR. PULISELIC: Mr. President, I have only
9 three questions for this witness.
10 Q. Colonel Watters, in view of the information
11 that we have at our disposal, it is clear that as an
12 officer of the British army, you have a great deal of
13 experience in the military field and military
14 education. You were in Ahmici after the 16th of April,
16 I should like to ask you, when touring the
17 area, were you able to come to any conclusion as to
18 whether Ahmici had been shelled or not?
19 A. We could see no sign on the patrol that I
20 conducted of any artillery or mortar explosive sites.
21 I could not find any evidence that mortar and artillery
22 had been used against that village, but I didn't search
23 the entire village. The areas I searched, certainly
24 there were no signs.
25 Q. In an earlier statement you made, you said
1 that there were no traces of shelling.
2 A. That's what I've just said, sir, yeah. I did
3 not see any evidence that mortar or artillery fire had
4 been directed against Ahmici. There was certainly a
5 lot of it in the valley and most of it had fallen in
6 and around Vitez and Kruscica.
7 Q. In view of your familiarity with weapons, I
8 assume that you can tell us what kind of damage can be
9 made in a brick-built house with walls 30 to 40
10 centimetres thick by projectiles fired from a
11 relatively small distance with weapons of
12 12.7-millimetre calibre, that would be machine gun,
13 20-millimetre, 30.2-millimetre calibre, 40-millimetre
14 calibre, and 70-millimetre calibre, a Bofers (phoen)
16 Which one of these projectiles would
17 penetrate the wall of a house that is 30- to
18 40-centimetres thick or, rather, what kind of damage
19 would be inflicted by these kinds of projectiles?
20 Could you answer that question for us?
21 A. I wouldn't take cover behind any wall if
22 someone was shooting those at me. I think all of them
23 would penetrate a house wall. In fact, I know all of
24 them would penetrate a house wall.
25 They would leave holes of various size, and
1 when you got up to your 70-millimetre, it would also
2 depend on the make-up of the actual projectile itself,
3 whether it was an inert lump of lead just designed to
4 penetrate or whether it had an explosive head in the
5 shell head, and the larger millimetres, from 20 up in
6 this day and age can all have the capability to have
7 explosive heads.
8 Any of the heavier calibre weapons, if
9 sufficiently directed at a house, would knock it down.
10 12.7, you would have to fire an awful lot of them to
11 knock a house down.
12 Q. Thank you. Do you recall, when the BiH army
13 captured an important cross-roads at Kaonik which also
14 meant blocking the main Busovaca to Vitez road, do you
15 have any personal knowledge as to which route the
16 Croats used to establish connection between Busovaca
17 and Vitez?
18 A. To answer the first part of the question, I
19 do know that the 3rd Corps considered the capture of
20 the Kaonik junction to be one of their strategic
21 objectives in their counterattack, and this was
22 explained to me by General Halilovic at the cease-fire
23 conference on the 21st of April. I think it was
24 captured on or about the 18th, 19th, and it essentially
25 meant that communication between Busovaca and Vitez was
1 cut off other than small tracks through the woods. I
2 don't know those tracks, I know there were some.
3 But to all intents and purposes, the capture
4 of the Kaonik junction brought the -- was a marker
5 against the viability of the HVO to defend their
6 positions within the Lasva Valley because to all
7 intents and purposes the BiH counterattack had created
8 two isolated pockets of Vitez and Busovaca who were not
9 able to mutually support each other and therefore their
10 defence, in the short term, was largely untenable, and
11 that was discussed with General Petkovic, Colonel
12 Blaskic, and General Halilovic at that conference.
13 Q. In your earlier statement, you said that the
14 connection was established via the locality called
15 Donja Rovna, if you remember?
16 A. I don't remember saying that. I don't have
17 an intimate detail of the routes between -- the back
18 routes, if you will, between Busovaca and Vitez. The
19 only road that we used between those two towns was the
20 main Lasva Valley road.
21 MR. PULISELIC: Thank you very much. I have
22 no further questions, Your Honour.
23 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you, Mr. Puliselic. I
24 wonder whether Mr. Moskowitz would like to re-examine
25 the witness.
1 MR. MOSKOWITZ: Just briefly, Your Honour,
2 thank you.
3 Re-examined by Mr. Moskowitz:
4 Q. Colonel, you were asked about whether you saw
5 any signs of shelling in Ahmici on April 22nd. How
6 long did you spend in Ahmici on that day?
7 A. My aim was actually to find the house that
8 Colonel Stewart had described to me that made such an
9 impact on him. Probably not more than an hour and a
10 half, maybe two hours, and also, because of our concern
11 with landmines, we didn't move too far off the main
12 arterial roads in the town.
13 Q. So it would be fair to say you did not do a
14 thorough search of the village?
15 A. I've never said I had, sir.
16 Q. You were also asked about your familiarity
17 with commanders of the HVO. Describe for us, if you
18 will, at what level a person of your rank would be
19 dealing with, in terms of commanders in the HVO?
20 A. It was really less to do with my rank, sir,
21 more to do with my appointment. As the deputy
22 commander of BRITBAT, I concentrated on the commanders
23 at brigade occasionally, but normally only at regional
24 level. So most of the dealings I had were with Colonel
25 Blaskic and his deputy.
1 On the morning of the 16th, I was taken and
2 met the Vitez brigade commander, and I had only met
3 him, I think, once before.
4 The responsibility for establishing
5 relationships with the lower chain of command within
6 the BiH and the HVO rested with our liaison officers,
7 and that was their responsibility. And when myself or
8 Colonel Stewart wanted to meet with commanders, we
9 would normally be taken and introduced by the liaison
11 Q. You would not therefore be dealing with the
12 commanders at the village level?
13 A. No, sir.
14 Q. And so if any of these accused sitting here
15 were village-level commanders, that would be -- that
16 would not be something you would be familiar with?
17 A. No, sir, unless we would meet by chance in
18 the Hotel Vitez or something like that.
19 Q. And indeed dealing with command levels
20 beneath Blaskic at any level would not be something you
21 would be particularly familiar with?
22 A. I only did it once, and that was on the
23 morning of the 16th.
24 Q. So you were not fully aware of the command
25 personalities of the HVO below the Blaskic level at the
1 Hotel Vitez, for example?
2 A. Not -- I would probably know from our
3 military information summaries their names, but I did
4 not know them personally, no, sir.
5 Q. Now, you were also asked about other examples
6 of ethnic cleansing during this time period, and I
7 believe you mentioned an incident that occurred on
8 April 19 near the Bungalow. I wonder, if you would, if
9 you could go to the map enlargement of Ahmici and point
10 out the Bungalow so that we all know where this
11 incident occurred that you mentioned on
13 A. Here is the junction leading to Ahmici, here
14 is a very prominent cemetery, and the Bungalow is this
15 area here which was the base of a moderately small HVO
16 unit that was distinguishable by the fact that they
17 wore black uniforms as well as disruptive camouflage
18 uniforms, and the incident took place actually just off
19 this air photograph just here involving soldiers from
20 here, and it took place on the 19th of April.
21 Q. Now, the commander that you dealt with on the
22 19th, was that an HVO commander?
23 A. Yes, it was.
24 Q. What colour uniform do you recall him
1 A. He was wearing a black uniform.
2 Q. You mention that this was an example, in your
3 view, of ethnic cleansing, and I think you explained
5 A. Yes. It pre-dated the 22nd of April, and
6 what we eventually saw in Ahmici, and we believed it to
7 be characteristic of what we had seen in the early part
8 of the 16th and 17th, and that was that the civilian
9 population were forced out of their houses, and this
10 was one of the first occasions following the 16th
11 that -- and the only occasion that I personally was
12 able to interdict an incident of ethnic cleansing when
13 it was actually happened or while it happened, and
14 myself and the other member of the United Nations
15 agency who was with me, to be absolutely honest, were
16 not convinced that the people would be killed if they
17 didn't leave because it was slightly, you know, here
18 were 30 women and children and old men, and we didn't
19 believe that these HVO soldiers would mow them down
20 when we left.
21 However, as we spoke with the HVO soldiers
22 and with the people themselves from this small hamlet,
23 we decided or I decided to act because they did believe
24 they would be killed. When we later saw the situation
25 in Ahmici, we believed that that had vindicated our
1 decision because maybe indeed they would have been
3 Q. Were you able to rescue the men as well as
4 the women from that group?
5 A. We had a protracted argument with the HVO
6 soldiers who initially wouldn't let anyone leave, then
7 would allow the women and children to leave, but would
8 not allow the old men to leave, and we came up with a
9 compromise that the old men could leave not with us but
10 could walk away from the hamlet, and we suggested to
11 them that they took the old abandoned railway line
12 toward Zenica while we would remain for an hour and a
13 half with these Croat soldiers to make sure they didn't
14 follow up these men, and at the end of that, we put the
15 women and children into our vehicles and took them to
17 Q. How did the women and children react to that
18 proposed solution?
19 A. They were hugely upset. They were firmly
20 convinced they'd never see their men folk again and, in
21 fact, one old man actually had a heart attack while
22 this was all going on and my medics gave him first aid
23 and we eventually convinced the HVO that we could take
24 this man who was certainly having a genuine heart
25 attack with us. Although they initially wouldn't let
1 us, we prevailed until we could do it. Our
2 negotiations became quite heated and at that point I
3 made a decision what we were going to do and we would
4 use whatever force we were required to use to achieve
5 that and the HVO backed down and let us do that without
6 the situation deteriorating any further.
7 Q. You mention the Bungalow as being nearby.
8 Had you become familiar with that Bungalow during that
9 time period between the 16th and the 22nd?
10 A. I never visited it, but regularly in the
11 mornings or evenings driving past it, there would be
12 HVO soldiers sat out on a sort of veranda on the front
13 of the bungalow and they would wave at our vehicles as
14 we drove past, and periodically we would see members of
15 the organisation in the bungalows and this field here,
16 zeroing their Draganoff sniper rifles.
17 Q. What do you mean zeroing?
18 A. They place a piece of wood as a target in the
19 field, pace a distance from the piece of wood, and then
20 fire their rifles at a target on the wood to check the
21 alignment between the bore of the weapon and the sight
22 to make sure that it was very accurately zeroed, that
23 the bore and the sight converging at the site where the
24 soldier wanted to hit the target.
25 Q. Thank you, Colonel. Finally, you were asked
1 about who initiated ethnic cleansing in various parts
2 of Bosnia. On April 16, 1993, in the Lasva Valley,
3 based on everything you know and you saw, in your view
4 who was initiating the attack and the ethnic cleansing
5 at that time and in that place?
6 A. Without any doubt at all, it was a
7 pre-emptive attack by the HVO in a coordinated fashion
8 throughout the length and breadth of that valley, and
9 the only resistance of any material form was in Vitez
10 and Kruscica from the BiH. Every where else in the
11 first couple of days, all the Muslim people were
12 ethnically cleansed from their villages.
13 MR. MOSKOWITZ: Thank you, Colonel. No more
15 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you. I assume there is
16 no objection -- yes? Mr. Radovic?
17 MR. RADOVIC: If you will allow me only two
19 JUDGE CASSESE: Well, normally, we don't
20 allow questions ...
21 MR. RADOVIC: Just two short questions.
22 JUDGE CASSESE: We allow questions after
23 re-examination only if they arise out of questions we
24 Judges put to the witness, so therefore, at my regret,
25 we can't allow you to put any further questions.
1 I assume there is no objection to the witness
2 being released?
3 Colonel Watters, thank you so much for coming
4 here to testify in court. You may now be released.
5 THE WITNESS: Thank you, sir.
6 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you.
7 (The witness withdrew)
8 JUDGE CASSESE: Mr. Moskowitz, are you going
9 to call your next witness?
10 MR. MOSKOWITZ: Yes, Your Honour, we will
11 call Abdulah Ahmic.
12 JUDGE CASSESE: Number 3.
13 MR. MOSKOWITZ: Number 3, yes.
14 (The witness entered court)
15 JUDGE CASSESE: Good afternoon, Mr. Ahmic.
16 Could you please make a solemn declaration.
17 THE WITNESS: I solemnly declare that I shall
18 speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the
20 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you. You may be
21 seated. Mr. Moskowitz, you may proceed.
22 MR. MOSKOWITZ: Thank you, Mr. President.
23 WITNESS: ABDULAH AHMIC
24 Examined by Mr. Moskowitz:
25 Q. Good afternoon, Mr. Ahmic. Now, Mr. Ahmic,
1 you are of the Muslim faith, are you not?
2 A. I am from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosniak by
3 nationality and Muslim by faith.
4 Q. Up to April 16, 1993, you lived in the town
5 or village of Ahmici, did you not?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. How long had you lived in Ahmici?
8 A. Six years.
9 THE INTERPRETER: Sorry, we didn't hear
10 well. The translators didn't hear well.
11 MR. MOSKOWITZ:
12 Q. Would you repeat your answer?
13 A. Thirty years. I am 36 now.
14 Q. You lived in Ahmici all your life up until
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Now, with the help of the usher, I would like
18 to show Mr. Ahmic an aerial map so we can locate his
20 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit number
22 MR. MOSKOWITZ:
23 Q. Now, Mr. Ahmic, does that look familiar to
24 you, this picture that we're showing you?
25 A. Let me look. This is my house (indicating).
1 Q. You're pointing to the circle marked number
2 38; is that right?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Do you see any other houses that you can
5 identify that have been circled there?
6 A. ...Marked by the letter E, this should be
7 the house of Marija Papic, and the one marked H should
8 be the house of Pero Papic, A, Ivo Papic, number 4,
9 Sakib Ahmic.
10 Q. Sakib Ahmic is your uncle; is that right?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. There was another Sakib Ahmic who lived in
13 Ahmici in 1993; is that right?
14 A. Yes. This was my uncle, Sakib Ahmic, of
15 Mehmed and the second Sakib Ahmic was the son of Rasid.
16 Q. Now, let's look at the circle with the "A"
17 above it. You say that was the house of Ivo Papic?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Who else lived in that house with Ivo Papic?
20 A. His two sons, Dragan Papic and Goran, and his
21 daughter, Ivanca, and his wife, Rabica (Phoen). Dragan
22 Papic's wife, I don't know what her name was.
23 Q. Did you know Dragan Papic before 1993 in
25 A. Yes, I knew him.
1 Q. How did you know him?
2 A. I knew him as a neighbour. We live nearby
3 and we saw each other often.
4 Q. Do you recall having a conversation with
5 Dragan Papic sometime in 1991?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. What do you recall about that conversation?
8 A. What would be interesting to point out here
9 is that the conversation was on the topic of war.
10 Dragan Papic, in his childhood, was interested in cars,
11 bicycles, and so on. However, before the war started,
12 he became interested in weapons, armies, military
13 strategies, and even strategies used in World War II,
14 and he even told me that he had acquired some
15 literature from Zagreb which had been translated from
16 the time of fascist Germany and that he was studying it
17 and that he liked it and that the method of destroying
18 the Jews and other nations was something he supported.
19 I just looked at him and I thought: This man has
20 changed completely. And he was mostly interested in
21 various kinds of ammunition and even in planes. This
22 was one of the conversations we had which I feel should
23 be stressed here.
24 Q. During these conversations, did he mention
25 Adolf Hitler to you?
1 A. Yes, he did, he mentioned him.
2 Q. What did he say about Adolf Hitler?
3 A. That he had been a very good military leader,
4 that he had had good goals, that he had organised the
5 army incredibly well, and the people, the fascist
6 German people at the time, and that it was necessary to
7 apply this among the Croats.
8 Q. Do you recall where this conversation took
10 A. This conversation took place at this
11 cross-roads leading to the village of Ahmici and my
12 house, it was at night, about 10.00 p.m., it was here
14 Q. Why does that conversation stick in your mind
15 to this day?
16 A. I have to remember it because it was this
17 conversation which heralded the mood among the Croatian
18 people who later went on to implement this by attacking
19 their Muslim neighbours, and they had similar methods
20 of opening up camps, murders, and so on. This means
21 that they had prepared literature, they had prepared
22 the plans much earlier, the plans to attack us. This
23 was no accident. They had prepared it long before.
24 Q. I want to direct your attention to October
25 1992. There was at that time a conflict in Ahmici.
1 Could you tell us about that, what you remember about
2 that conflict in 1992, October, in Ahmici?
3 A. A conflict broke out. I will say again that
4 this was an attack by Croatian units against us because
5 of a roadblock that we had set up, I mean the people of
6 my village, on the road, and there were hundreds of
7 Croatian barricades, control points, and we had set up
8 only a single one, and the very next day, they attacked
9 the roadblock and our village. They responded
11 Q. Were you manning the barricade? Were you one
12 of the men manning the barricade that day?
13 A. No, no, I wasn't. I wasn't at the roadblock.
14 Q. If you would look at the exhibit in front of
15 you, Mr. Ahmic. Could you point out for us where you
16 recall being on the day of that conflict in October
18 A. It was in the morning, the 20th of October.
19 I happened to find myself here, where this arrow is,
20 and at around, I think, 9.00, I was moving in this
21 direction (indicating). Then I was shot at from this
22 building here, the house of Dragan Papic, marked "A,"
23 and there was not one sniper bullet but two, three, or
24 more which narrowly missed my head so I had to seek
25 cover. This is what I remember that affected me
1 personally at that time.
2 Q. Now, at that time, were you a member of what
3 they -- of what was known as the Territorial Defence?
4 A. Yes, yes, I was a member of the Territorial
6 Q. Could you explain briefly to the Court what
7 the Territorial Defence was in 1992?
8 A. I will just take a drink of water.
9 The Territorial Defence, as I see it, how it
10 started in our village, that's the easiest way to
11 explain it. When the war started in eastern Bosnia in
12 1992, the inhabitants of our village decided to
13 organise themselves in some way because of this
14 emergency situation and a leadership was elected. I
15 remember that the commander in our village was my
16 brother, Muris, he was the commander of the Territorial
17 Defence, and he went to meetings in Vitez, there was a
18 Territorial Defence headquarters there, and mostly it
19 was defensively organised, a defensively organised unit
20 which was almost unarmed.
21 Q. Would I be right in saying, Mr. Ahmic, that
22 the Territorial Defence, as you described it, was
23 originally created as a defence against Serb aggression
24 in Ahmici?
25 A. Yes, yes, you could say that.
1 Q. And was there a period of time when the
2 Territorial Defence in Ahmici was jointly operated and
3 jointly patrolled by Muslim and Croat working together?
4 A. Institutionally, it was never a joint
5 organisation, but neighbours agreed to have joint
6 patrols in some parts of Ahmici and Santici.
7 Q. And did there come a time when there was no
8 more joint patrols, when there was no more informal
9 agreement to work together?
10 A. Yes. After their attack against us on the
11 20th of October, as far as I remember, there were no
12 more joint patrols. They took over total control in
13 the lower village of Ahmici and in Santici where the
14 Bosniaks lived.
15 Q. Now, you mentioned that in October of '92,
16 you were essentially where that arrow is on the map in
17 front of you. Were you on duty as a Territorial
18 Defence person on that day?
19 A. No, no. I had no tasks. I just happened to
20 be there by chance. I had no tasks assigned to me
21 because I had no weapons, and this was an armed
22 attack. And then I remembered that it might be a good
23 thing if I were to extract civilians, and I helped
24 civilians to avoid the attack.
25 Q. You mention that you saw firing directed at
1 you from the house of Dragan Papic. Did Dragan Papic
2 know that you were the brother of the military leader
3 of the TO back in October 1992?
4 A. Yes. He must have known.
5 Q. You mentioned that there were civilians you
6 were attempting to rescue back in 1992. Where were you
7 directing your efforts in rescuing civilians from the
8 firing at that time, if you can point on the chart for
9 us, the map next to you on the ELMO?
10 A. The first thing I did was to pull out my
11 father and mother and sister from my house. I got them
12 out. My father and mother -- no, my sister and my
13 father, it was still foggy, and then I tried to pull
14 out some other people from these houses, and I got them
15 out to the upper part of Ahmici, and as the shelling
16 started of upper Ahmici around 11.00, then we started
17 to move the civilian population to the village of
18 Vrhovine which was north from our village.
19 Q. Did you notice whether any shooting was
20 directed not only at you but also at the mosque with
21 the minaret that day?
22 A. Yes, yes. The first thing that happened was
23 the minaret was hit at 7.00 with a recoilless gun from
24 the direction of Zume. I can't point it to you on this
25 photograph. And about 8.00, then they started --
1 opened fire on our men on the barricade, manning the
2 barricade, and then I think it was about 8.00, very
3 heavy infantry fire started using inflammatory
4 ammunition, and they were setting fire to houses and
5 stables in the area in which I lived.
6 Q. Now, you mentioned there was a barricade
7 placed by Muslim forces along the road. Does that map
8 in front of you by the ELMO machine show the area of
9 the road where the barricade was initially placed?
10 A. It was here, next to the Catholic cemetery,
11 right here (indicating).
12 Q. Eventually was the barricade removed?
13 A. Yes. When fire was opened on our men, the
14 men ran for shelter to save their lives.
15 Q. Did the firing continue even after the
16 barricade was removed?
17 A. Yes, yes. Our men moved to a more favourable
18 position. I wasn't nearby, but according to the
19 stories told me by others, they said that there was
20 fire, they ran out of ammunition, and then they
21 withdrew and heavy fire to upper Ahmici.
22 Q. Do you know if there were any casualties as a
23 result of that conflict?
24 A. Yes. Halid Pezer was killed. He was a
25 minor. He was under 18.
1 Q. And was he a Muslim boy?
2 A. Yes, yes.
3 Q. Now, I think you mentioned that the TO or the
4 Territorial Defence in Ahmici often were very short of
5 weapons. Could you explain why that was, and I am now
6 talking about the time period before that first
7 conflict in 1992?
8 A. When Bosnia and Herzegovina was recognised by
9 the International Community, it was Yugoslavia that
10 first committed an aggression against the eastern and
11 northern parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the only
12 route of supply for the Bosniaks was from Croatia.
13 However, the Croats from western Herzegovina to Central
14 Bosnia set up a large number of checkpoints so that any
15 attempts made to bring in materiel and equipment would
16 be seized so that the Muslim people, generally
17 speaking, the Bosniaks, were at a disadvantage. They
18 were handicapped because there was no possibility for
19 them to obtain supplies from any side, so that we were
20 left with very poor weapons, but we had to set up some
21 kind of defence institutions starting from Territorial
22 Defence and later on brigades were formed and the army,
23 but all this was only formally and on paper because it
24 was not possible to create a proper army if you don't
25 have the necessary weapons and materiel.
1 Q. Was it true that because of shortage of
2 materiel, men from Ahmici went to Turbe, for example,
3 to fight the Serbs, would often have to leave their
4 weapons at the Serb front in Turbe when they went back
5 to Ahmici on leave because the weapon was needed at the
6 Serb front?
7 A. Yes, that is correct. That is correct.
8 Whereas the Croats, particularly the Croats of Central
9 Bosnia, didn't go to the front with the Serbs. They
10 just positioned themselves on elevations in Central
11 Bosnia, and when we had the hardest time on the front,
12 they hit us in the back, so to speak.
13 Q. Now, focusing on the time period between the
14 conflict in Ahmici in 1992 and the attack on Ahmici in
15 1993, did you notice tensions rising in Ahmici between
16 the two communities, Muslim and Croat?
17 A. Yes, that was noticeable. We also noticed
18 that our neighbours were getting armed very rapidly;
19 there was a lot of movement between Busovaca and
20 Vitez. They provoked us with firing, explosions, and
21 what else was it I wanted to tell you? They had their
22 own TV channels with very inflammatory propaganda.
23 Q. After the attack or the conflict in 1992 in
24 Ahmici, and I believe you mention having to rescue some
25 civilians during that conflict, were these civilians
1 immediately allowed to return to their homes?
2 A. After some time, some arrangements were made,
3 and the population mostly returned to their homes.
4 Some of them were burnt so they couldn't go back. But
5 most of the population that had fled returned.
6 Q. And were there any conditions set before the
7 return was allowed?
8 A. Yes, as far as I know there was a prohibition
9 on carrying arms, and if our people were allowed to
10 organise patrols, then they could do so only along
11 these lines. I don't know whether they were allowed to
12 carry weapons on patrol, but they were allowed to
13 patrol along these two paths exclusively, as far as the
14 lower village is concerned.
15 Q. Who was setting this condition?
16 A. The conditions were set by our neighbours, I
17 think that the most responsible person was Zoran
18 Kupreskic who was one of the leaders and Slavko
20 Q. Was there another condition set, and now I'm
21 referring to a curfew?
22 A. Yes. They were very strict about it, and
23 they said that the curfew would start at 10.00 p.m. so
24 that we were not allowed to move about, and we noticed
25 that Croats were getting reinforcements from somewhere,
1 and I noticed here, at Mario's houses, that there was
2 some, to me, unknown people. As I was coming back from
3 my uncle's house one evening where we had had a
4 get-together, we were intercepted here, my mother, my
5 father, and my sisters by unknown people, and they
6 asked us, "Do you know -- where are you going? You
7 know there's a curfew." They tried to provoke us but
8 they didn't physically mistreat us in any sense. So I
9 noticed that they were bringing in some people from the
10 outside and that they had organised guard duty. I
11 think that this would be here, near Dragan Papic's
12 house and Mario's house, there was a concentration of
13 military forces. I never went into those woods, but
14 that is my assumption.
15 On one occasion, we saw Dragan Papic's mother
16 carrying coffee and breakfast inside, so there was some
17 personnel there probably from the outside.
18 Q. Just staying with that for a moment, did you
19 ever see any deliveries or unloading of boxes in that
20 area that you've just pointed out to us, in the Papic
21 area, during the time period between the 1992 conflict
22 and the 1993 attack?
23 A. Yes. I saw with my own eyes on a number of
24 occasions Zoran Papic bringing in, in his own car, war
25 material as well as Pero Papic. I even noticed that
1 Pero Papic was very well-versed in military
2 electronics, and I saw with my own eyes, when the truck
3 came from the direction of Busovaca, and near Ivica
4 Kupreskic's house, you can't see that on this
5 photograph -- it is up here -- boxes with ammunition
6 were unloaded, and it was placed in the basement.
7 Q. Now, you mention that weapons had to be
8 surrendered by Muslims before they were allowed to
9 return to their homes. Do you know whether, in fact,
10 weapons were surrendered?
11 A. The Bosniak inhabitants of Zume were deprived
12 of all the weapons they had. They were seized from
13 them. As far as I recall, an agreement was reached
14 that four rifles should be surrendered to them and
15 they, in fact, were. That was a condition. At first
16 they demanded that all the weapons be surrendered, but
17 our boys would not agree to that, and then they
18 returned four rifles, and after that, they were allowed
19 to go back.
20 Q. How many days or weeks after the conflict in
21 1992 were people beginning to return to their homes in
22 that part of Ahmici?
23 A. After about ten days. I just know that my
24 family was among the last to return. No, maybe more
25 days. But after a period of about ten days, some
1 people started returning, I think that we went back
2 about 20 days later or maybe a month on the outside.
3 Q. During the time period between the attack in
4 '93 and the conflict in '92, did you see Dragan Papic
5 in the village of Ahmici from time to time?
6 A. Yes, I would see him, but I rarely had any
7 contact with him. I remember something that might be
8 of interest. I saw him in Zume with his brother Goran,
9 he was carrying a sniper and wearing a military
10 uniform, and he was even waving around a device for
11 strangulation. It is a device with handles at both
12 ends. It is flexible. And then you throw it around a
13 person's neck, and that's how you choke him. He was
14 carrying this and they were laughing, he and his
16 On the main road towards Rovna, I can't show
17 you that junction here, he often carried a sniper.
18 Sometimes he wore a black uniform, sometimes a
19 camouflage uniform, sometimes he was in civilians
20 clothes, but in any event he was there, he was living
21 there in our settlement.
22 JUDGE MAY: The witness says carrying a
23 sniper. Would you clarify that?
24 MR. MOSKOWITZ: Yes, Your Honour.
25 Q. By "sniper," what do you mean, Mr. Ahmic,
1 when you saw Mr. Papic, Dragan Papic, carrying a
2 sniper, what are you referring to?
3 A. Dragan Papic carried a sniper rifle to show
4 off and to intimidate people. I told you that it was
5 quite astonishing to me that he suddenly had an
6 interest in weapons. I don't think he was on duty
7 because sniper is a device with sights that you target
8 from a distance, and so he was carrying it around
9 mostly to publicise the fact that he had one in those
11 Q. And you mention that you saw him carrying a
12 strangling device as well as the sniper rifle. What do
13 you mean by that, if you could clarify that for us as
15 A. It's a device which has two handles at each
16 end and a flex is threaded through it and it is very
17 handy if you want to strangle somebody with it.
18 Q. Now, did you ever see, in addition to that,
19 any weapons in and around Dragan Papic's house in this
20 time period that we're talking about between the two
22 A. Yes. Let me mention a detail that I
23 eye-witnessed. He would pass -- a truck would pass
24 along this road with a heavy weapon on it, a
25 four-barrelled anti-aircraft gun or machine gun, and
1 Dragan Papic would call these people to stop by in his
2 yard and Dragan Papic would climb on this anti-aircraft
3 gun and he would fire in the air and above the houses,
4 but for intimidation purposes. As far as I remember he
5 didn't damage anything, but it was all meant as some
6 kind of a provocation, using this weapon.
7 Q. Now, I want to direct your attention,
8 Mr. Ahmic, to the night before the attack on Ahmici in
9 April. Do you recall where you were that night, on
10 April 15, 1993?
11 A. I went to my uncle's with my brother Muris,
12 here (indicating) marked with number 4.
13 Q. Now, you're indicating --
14 A. Yes. I was with my brother Muris at my
15 uncle's, and we were there until 10.00 in the evening,
16 and going back home, I noticed and heard the voice of
17 Ivo Papic calling his son Dragan, "Dragan, come here,
18 come here." And I even noticed a large number of
19 personnel that had gathered there, but I didn't pay
20 much attention because, quite frequently, people would
21 gather in Dragan Papic's house. Sometimes there would
22 be as many as 30 cars in the yard and the surroundings.
23 So I assume it was some kind of a
24 headquarters, a Storja, as they call it, so they would
25 meet there quite often. It was not just our neighbours
1 but people coming from further afield, like Vitez and
2 Busovaca. So I didn't have any particular suspicions,
3 I didn't pay much attention to these men who had
4 gathered there, but Dragan Papic was certainly there
5 the night before the attack, and his father.
6 Q. Would you clarify his father as Ivo Papic; is
7 that correct?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Do you know, by the way, where Drago Papic
10 lived in that house, the house of his father Ivo. Did
11 he live on the first floor or the second floor?
12 A. I can't tell you exactly. I don't remember
13 that now. But in any event, one of them was on the top
14 floor and the other one was on the ground floor, but I
15 can't tell you exactly who was where.
16 Q. Now, on the night of the 15th, you were
17 returning home from your uncle's Sakib's house, you
18 heard this conversation between father and son from
19 across the road, Ivo and Dragan Papic, and you went
21 A. Yes. This was a loud conversation, it was
22 more like calls, they were calling each other.
23 Q. And at that time, in your house, you lived
24 with your brother, Muris, and who else, if you could
25 tell us, please?
1 A. I had a father, mother, and three sisters.
2 MR. MOSKOWITZ: Your Honour, we're at the
3 3.30 mark and this may be a good time to break.
4 JUDGE CASSESE: Yes. We will rise now.
5 Thirty minutes.
6 --- Recess taken at 3.28 p.m.
7 --- On resuming at 4.01 p.m.
8 JUDGE CASSESE: Mr. Moskowitz, before you
9 start, it just occurred to me that you didn't ask the
10 witness to state his name and date of birth. Probably
11 it would be appropriate at some stage to ask him
12 about -- to identify the witness.
13 MR. MOSKOWITZ: Probably a good idea.
14 Probably it would have been a better idea at the
15 beginning, but it's a good idea now.
16 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you.
17 MR. MOSKOWITZ: Thank you, Mr. President.
18 Q. Before we go on to the events of April 16,
19 Mr. Ahmic, could you please state your full name and
20 your date of birth for the record?
21 A. My name is Abdulah Ahmic. I was born on the
22 29th of January, 1963.
23 Q. Thank you. And before we leave Exhibit 25,
24 which is on that machine next to you, I want to
25 state -- make it clear for the record, this is a
1 blow-up of an area of Ahmici showing, at the top, the
2 cemetery, and towards the bottom, the road that
3 branches off from the main road into lower Ahmici and
4 incorporates your immediate neighbourhood or the
5 neighbourhood of Mr. Ahmic, and I want to also clarify,
6 if we could, before we go on, Mr. Ahmic, and going back
7 just briefly to the events in October '92, you
8 indicated that your family and other families evacuated
9 that part of Ahmici and that, over time, families
10 returned. Your family returned, but could you tell us,
11 was your family one of the first families to return or
12 one of the last families to return in '92 to your home?
13 A. It was one of the last families to return.
14 Q. All right. Now, let's move ahead to the
15 morning of April 16, 1993, and to illustrate your
16 testimony, I would ask the usher to show Exhibit, which
17 I believe will be marked 26, to the witness.
18 Mr. Ahmic, just to orient everyone and the
19 Court and the Defence attorneys, could you point out
20 where your house is on this Exhibit 26?
21 A. It's here in the circle marked 38
23 Q. Could you show the Court where the road into
24 Ahmici off the main road is on this blow-up?
25 A. Here (indicating).
1 Q. So this is a blow-up of an area of Ahmici
2 just below the first blow-up that we looked at, showing
3 an area of your house now at the top of the map rather
4 than at the bottom; is that right?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Now, tell us the first thing you remember
7 happening on the morning of April 16, 1993, and feel
8 free, when you so desire, to use the blow-up, Exhibit
9 26, to help you explain what happened.
10 A. The first thing I remember was that I was
11 awakened by a loud detonations (sic). This was in the
12 early morning, dawn had not yet broken, and it went on
13 for some 15 minutes, these terrible detonations. I
14 presume it was an artillery attack against certain
15 parts of our village.
16 After that --
17 Q. Now, let me stop you before you continue on.
18 You were in your house that morning, were you not?
19 A. Yes, I was in my house. I was spending the
20 night there. Me, my brother Muris, my father, and my
21 three sisters, and we were all awakened by these
23 Q. What part of the house were you sleeping in
24 and what part of the house were the other family
25 members in at that time?
1 A. Muris was sleeping in the cellar and all the
2 rest of us were sleeping on the ground floor.
3 Q. What happened next?
4 A. After the shelling, we didn't know what was
5 going on. Then we looked out of the window -- I looked
6 out of the window. The first thing I did was to call
7 my brother Muris and ask him what we should do, and he
8 said, "We can't go anywhere. The house is surrounded
9 on all sides. We'll wait."
10 Q. Before you go on -- I will occasionally
11 interrupt you, I'm sorry. You had referred earlier to
12 the fact that your brother Muris was one of the head of
13 the TO in Ahmici back in 1992. Was he still a head of
14 the TO in 1993 at the time of this attack?
15 A. No, he did not hold any post. He was
16 supposed to go to work that morning. He had a job
17 then. He was employed. He wasn't in the army at all.
18 Q. Why was he no longer the head of the TO in
20 A. He was replaced or he resigned, I don't know
21 exactly, but he was no longer ...
22 Q. Go ahead. Excuse me for interrupting, but
23 proceed now with what you recall happening.
24 A. The first thing I noticed was I noticed
25 soldiers, five, six soldiers, here, near the house
1 marked 35, the house of Ahmic Ida, and then near the
2 house of Fahrudin Ahmic marked 37. This was almost
3 simultaneous. There were four or five soldiers, they
4 were carrying a canister and setting fire to this
5 house, the house of Fahrudin Ahmic, number 37, and they
6 were -- the soldiers were walking around this house so
7 that we had no chance of going in this direction
8 because this was the only direction in which we hoped
9 we could get away, so that we were surrounded.
10 Later, the soldiers, probably the woods were
11 full of them here (indicating), near the house of
12 Dragan and Pero Papic, later they came towards our
13 house here.
14 Q. Now, Mr. Ahmic, you said you saw soldiers
15 around the house of your next door neighbour
16 Fahrudin --
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Again, that would be house number 37,
19 Fahrudin's house?
20 A. Yes, yes. Yes, but these soldiers didn't
21 come to our house, other soldiers came. I'll tell you
22 later how this happened.
23 After that, I heard a terrible detonation of
24 a bomb and two bullets were fired. That was when my
25 brother Muris was probably killed. Not much time had
1 passed and then we heard shots, a round of shots shot
2 at the front door of our house. There was no one in
3 the corridor.
4 My father and I went out. We opened the
5 door. There were two soldiers. One was tall, blond,
6 with a punk haircut with only a little hair in the
7 middle of his head and they were painted in various
8 colours. They had guns, they had bullet-proof suits,
9 and one was -- the other one was about 170 centimetres
10 tall with wavy, brown hair, and the tall one was about
11 190 centimetres tall and quite heavy in build.
12 The first thing they asked us was whether we
13 had any weapons. We said, "We don't have any
14 weapons." I had a bomb, which I gave up to the tall
15 one. And then the tall guy said to my father and me
16 that we should go out into the yard, and he went into
17 the house to search it. He returned quite soon and
18 said to the younger man, "Do as ordered." This young
19 man said, "I won't." Then he said to him again, "I
20 order you to follow orders." And he said, "No, I
21 won't." He told him that three times, and then he
22 said, "I will execute the orders, but you will remember
23 this." That's what he told him.
24 And then he said, "Stay here and guard the
25 women and the girls and I will carry out the orders."
1 And then he ordered my father and me to pass around the
2 southern side of the house. I'll tell you roughly, it
3 was around this way (indicating), and we arrived here,
4 and I noticed Muris's dead body facing the ground. He
5 was wearing jeans. He had a light blue jacket and a
6 black cap and Alpina, which is a brand of running
7 shoes. And he said to my father, "Take two steps
8 forward." My father was confused and unable to do so.
9 Then he did, and he shot at him at point-blank range in
10 the temple. I observed all this.
11 Then he told me to take two steps forward. I
12 obeyed, and he shot at me from one metre away, and the
13 bullet entered here and went out here (indicating). I
14 just felt warmth and I was spattered with blood. He
15 turned away and I pretended to fall down or, rather, I
16 fell down and remained lying there. Then I raised my
17 head and looked round and saw no one nearby. And then,
18 as fast as I could, I ran in this direction, there is a
19 valley here, and I arrived at the road here
21 Q. All right, Mr. Ahmic, let me stop you there.
22 When the soldiers entered your house, what were you
23 wearing that morning?
24 A. I had quickly put on an old pair of jeans and
25 an old pullover, something I could pull on quickly, so
1 civilian clothes I used to wear around the house.
2 Q. And what was your father wearing?
3 A. He was also dressed, he had taken his blue
4 Anorak which was hanging there and he put it on, and he
5 was wearing trousers. He thought he was to be taken
6 away somewhere to a camp or somewhere like that.
7 Q. When you were told to leave the house, what
8 happened to the women in the house and the children in
9 the house?
10 A. They stayed behind. They remained in the
11 house, in the corridor. They were pale. They were
12 completely lost. They didn't know what was going on.
13 They were completely lost.
14 Q. How many soldiers escorted you and your
15 father out of the house?
16 A. There were only two soldiers, and the ones at
17 Fahrudin Ahmic's house were watching what was going on.
18 Q. How were these soldiers armed who escorted
19 you out of the house?
20 A. They were well-armed. They were well-armed.
21 Q. Could you tell what kind of weapons they had?
22 A. They had automatic rifles, I remember that.
23 They didn't have those transport bags and the things
24 carried by the army. They were people who did certain
25 tasks. They were wearing bullet-proof suits.
1 Q. Did you or your father offer any resistance
2 to these soldiers?
3 A. No, no, none at all.
4 Q. Now, when you and your father were escorted
5 outside your home, at what point did you observe the
6 body of your brother Muris and where was he lying?
7 A. Here. We noticed just around the corner, he
8 was lying there about three metres away from the
9 house. This is where we were both shot (indicating).
10 Q. How did your father react when he saw his son
11 on the ground dead?
12 A. Well, it was very hard for him. Very hard.
13 Q. Now, the soldier asked your father to step
14 ahead, to step in front, before he shot him; is that
16 A. Yes, and he asked me to do the same.
17 Q. Was your father able to comply with the
18 soldier's orders to step ahead?
19 A. It was hard. It was very hard for him to do
20 that. Perhaps he couldn't.
21 Q. And then you talked about some discussion
22 between two soldiers about orders. Could you clarify,
23 if you would, what you heard the two soldiers say to
24 each other at this point?
25 A. The tall one, when he came out of the house,
1 he told the younger one, "Obey orders. Act as
2 ordered." And he said "No." Then he said again, "Act
3 as ordered." And he said "No." Then he told him for
4 the third time, and he said "No." And then he
5 threatened him and said, "Well, all right. I'll carry
6 out the orders, but you'll remember this." That's how
7 he said it.
8 Q. What did you think they meant when they said,
9 "Carry out the orders"? What orders do you think they
10 were talking about?
11 A. I understood at once that they were going to
12 kill us. That was a sign that they would kill us.
13 There was an order by the commanders. It was obvious.
14 Obviously, there was an order to kill.
15 Q. Did you see your father when he was shot?
16 A. Yes, I saw him. I saw the -- his brains
17 coming out and blood spattering from his head.
18 Q. And then what did the soldier say to you
19 after they did that or he did that to your father?
20 A. Then he said to me, "Take two steps
21 forward." I obeyed him. I took two steps forward, and
22 then he aimed his gun and shot.
23 Q. What were you thinking just before he shot?
24 A. You can't think about anything. If any one
25 of you here were to experience this, think about it.
1 Q. Where were you shot? I think you tried to
2 show us before. If you could point to where the bullet
3 entered your head and where it exited?
4 A. Here, the bullet entered somewhere here, and
5 this is where it came out, somewhere around here
7 Q. Do you still have a mark where the bullet
9 A. Yes, I do. If anyone wants, they can come up
10 close and see it.
11 Q. What happened after the bullet went through
12 your head? What did you do next? What happened?
13 A. I realised that I was not dead, so I fell
14 down, pretending to be dead, and I lay down on the
15 ground and I remained lying still for a few moments.
16 Then I slowly raised my head and I saw that there was
17 no one nearby, so I started to run.
18 Q. Did you, at this point, feel any pain or any
20 A. No, there were no great pains. I was still
21 bleeding, but the pain was not very bad, and, of
22 course, a person must feel a terrible shock when he
23 lives through something like this.
24 Q. And so you lay on the ground for a little
25 while, realised you weren't dead, looked around, and
1 then moved to a different position. Could you show us
2 on the blow-up beside you where you went?
3 A. There is a valley here. I went this way and
4 I went toward the north (indicating). I arrived at
5 this road, the Vitez-Busovaca road, so I came out on
6 the road hoping -- I forgot to say, while my father and
7 I were being shot, there were UNPROFOR vehicles passing
8 along this road. I hoped that a truck might come by
9 and I could then be saved. I waited for five minutes,
10 and then I noticed that nothing had come by, and I
11 noticed that they were burning houses here
12 (indicating), and soldiers were running in this
13 direction, towards me. So there is a little bridge
14 under the road here, and this is where I hid.
15 Q. Now, just to clarify your position at the
16 time that you ran from your house after being shot.
17 Where was the first position that you went to, and if
18 you could refer on the blow-up to the markings so that
19 we can see where you were, so that the record can be
21 A. I think that I came to where this little line
22 is (indicating). Then I went under the little bridge.
23 It's about 10 metres away from this circle.
24 Q. There is a little line drawn right on the
25 road next to the letter "V"?
1 A. Yes, yes. There's a little bridge here, I
3 Q. How did you hide under that bridge? What did
4 you do?
5 A. I was waist-deep in water. I hid there. I
6 stayed there the whole day and half the night until
7 10.00 p.m., and I was in water all the time; and when
8 soldiers passed by -- I'll tell you later in what
9 direction they came -- I would submerge myself under
10 the water so as not to be noticed, and I was wet the
11 whole day until 10.00 p.m.; and then I noticed, just
12 after I had hidden under the bridge, I noticed soldiers
13 coming in the direction marked "2" and they distributed
14 themselves in the direction of the arrows. There were
15 30 to 40 soldiers, it was the size of a platoon, and
16 the first person who ran up was Ivica Safradin, he was
17 a bald man, we used to call him Cica, he was the
18 commander of the military police, and he was telling
19 the soldiers to spread out in this direction. And I
20 noticed Dragan Santic, Ilija Santic, Ilija Santic from
21 Mahala, he had a moustache, he was married to a woman
22 from Nadioci, he was in the military police as well;
23 Tutic Blazo, who worked in Masinogradnja; Vlatko
24 Kupreskic, who also worked there. I noticed some other
25 people, Sureka Matkovic. There were about ten people I
1 know. Some of them were wearing military uniforms as
2 military policemen and some were dressed in civilian
3 clothes. They were all armed and they were spreading
4 out in this direction.
5 Very soon, after they passed, another group
6 came, again in the size of a platoon, 30 to 40 people,
7 in completely black uniforms, such as were worn in
8 World War II by the Ustasha, and they spread out a
9 little further away from the first group.
10 Then I noticed -- this was in the morning,
11 about two or three hours later, during the day,
12 soldiers began to arrive from the south, and they would
13 come up to the point where I was and turn in this
14 direction. These were groups of about ten soldiers,
15 and they were exceptionally well-armed. They were
16 wearing helmets and RP and RPG, these are
17 anti-artillery or armed -- armed materials, and I
18 forgot to say that they were wearing blue bands on
19 their arms; and in the groups that arrived, some had
20 green bands, some had black, white, yellow bands.
21 Three to four groups of well-armed soldiers passed
22 within a half-an-hour period in this direction.
23 I also heard that a mortar had been brought
24 to the vicinity, but I didn't see it.
25 Q. Now, you mentioned, Mr. Ahmic, that you saw
1 military police. Did the military police have a
2 specific kind of uniform that you could recognise?
3 A. Yes. They had white belts and the insignia
4 of the military police. This was easily noticeable.
5 Q. Did these soldiers, all of these soldiers
6 that you've described, did they appear to be acting in
7 a coordinated way or were they acting -- were they
8 fighting each other?
9 A. No. I think that they positioned themselves
10 on the basis of a plan. The attack was probably
11 directed towards this part of the village.
12 Q. And these were HVO soldiers then?
13 A. Yes, yes. I noticed that some had HVO
14 patches, others had HV patches, and even noticed a
15 soldier close to me with the patch of Special Purpose
16 Units, and I was able to read the words, and I was
17 wondering what kind of units they were. I hadn't heard
18 of them before.
19 Q. You refer to patches. What do you mean by
21 A. Are you referring to the ribbons, the blue
23 Q. You said HVO patches, HOV patches, special
24 purpose patches. What do you mean by patches? Where
25 are they worn and what do they look like?
1 A. These are worn here (indicating). They were
2 this sort of shape, and you could see two rifles and
3 something like that, and on top the letters HV or HVO,
4 and the special purpose units I think had round
6 Q. And do you know what "HVO" stood for?
7 A. It stood for the Croatian Defence Council.
8 It was the Croatian army in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and HV
9 was the Croatian army. These were units of the
10 Croatian army coming from Croatia, the Republic of
12 Q. Now, these soldiers that you observed
13 throughout the day, you observed them from under that
14 bridge waist-deep in water; is that right? You have to
16 A. Yes, yes, that's right.
17 Q. During the day, did you experience any more
18 discomfort from your wound to your face?
19 A. Yes. I was feeling dizzy, but I didn't
21 Q. Do you recall when about you finally got out
22 of that ditch and out of that water that day?
23 A. I got out about 10.00 in the evening. I
24 first went in this direction, but I came across a
25 dugout. As far as I recall, I saw a small window on
1 the dugout just near this letter "V." And there were
2 three or four soldiers sitting on a fence and smoking.
3 So I couldn't pass there. So I turned back and then I
4 headed in this direction.
5 However, these houses were burning and
6 visibility was high, as if it was daytime. So after a
7 short rest, there's a kind of a creek here, but here,
8 where the Roman numeral VI is marked, there were again
9 five or six soldiers smoking, and then I crawled along
10 this creek for 50 or 60 metres and then I got into this
11 house that is marked with the number 40. It was still
12 smouldering, and I went in to dry. But as soon as I
13 got in, I realised I had been discovered. There were
14 eight soldiers positioned on all four sides of the
15 building and there were two men walking along this way
16 in completely white uniforms, rather like the European
17 observers wore, but I didn't understand what they were
18 doing there. I spent the night in that house. They
19 didn't do anything. They didn't attack me.
20 And in the morning, I noticed that six had
21 left and two of them stood on guard, one on each side
22 of the building. About 8.00, I heard the voice of my
23 mother who was probably here, as Ivo Papic told me, she
24 had spent the night with my sisters in Pero Papic's
25 house, I heard her crying out and screaming, "They
1 killed my husband and my sons," and they were probably
2 taken somewhere. Ivo Papic told me later that he took
3 them to a certain place. He took them to their death.
4 He told me that he had taken them to the Bosniak lines,
5 but, in fact, he left them somewhere there and they
6 were killed by HVO soldiers.
7 Q. Now, you mention that you heard your mother's
8 voice in the house marked "H." That would be Pero
9 Papic's house; is that right?
10 A. Yes, yes.
11 Q. And you were in house number 40 in the
12 smouldering house?
13 A. Yes, yes.
14 Q. And initially there were several soldiers
15 around the house but that, in the morning, there were
16 two soldiers?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. What happened to you in that house later that
19 day or in the morning?
20 A. In the afternoon, nothing important happened
21 except that around noon, I saw cars and tractors
22 leaving Ahmici and going in the direction of Busovaca,
23 some passenger cars and some tractors were driven
24 away. What else did I notice that was important? It
25 was about noon or about 1.00 in the afternoon. A car
1 came and stopped here (indicating), military policemen
2 got out, two of them, I don't remember whether there
3 were more. They got out here, left the car, and went
4 on foot up here, and soon after that, I saw thick smoke
5 and a very strong blast, so they probably blew up the
6 minaret of the mosque. They returned, they got into
7 the car, and reached the spot where I was, right next
8 to this house. I hear them getting out, and the person
9 guarding me addressed him with the word "Commander," I
10 saw that he was a military policeman, and he answered,
11 "We have a Mujahedin here," and he said, "Throw a
12 grenade in and kill him."
13 And then he passed by here, I was sitting
14 inside. He threw in a grenade, it fell right here. I
15 just moved a little. It exploded, and I still cannot
16 hear hardly at all on this ear.
17 I pretended to be dead. And since they had
18 brought a large quantity of explosives, dynamite, they
19 continued to demolish things here. There was a plan
20 here, Hasim Ahmic and a Croat had planned to set this
21 factory up, but they blew it up, then a stable, then
22 another yellow Yugo, a Yugo is the make of a car from
23 Crvenie Zastava in Kragujevac, and then they left.
24 They said good bye to these two, and then the one who
25 threw in the grenade, he was middle-aged wearing a
1 camouflage uniform with blond hair, he had a camouflage
2 cap on his head, he was fair, and the other one was a
3 child, he was 13 or 14, and he was also wearing a
4 camouflage uniform and a cap, and both of them had
5 rifles. They sat on the window and they watched me
6 from a distance of a metre and a half or two, and they
7 watched me for a long time.
8 I lay there pretending to be dead. They must
9 have noticed I wasn't dead. They watched me for quite
10 a long time, I don't remember how long, and then the
11 younger one said, "What are we waiting for? Why don't
12 we throw in two more grenades and kill him?" And then
13 this other one said, "No, let's go over here, there's
14 dynamite. It will blow him up better."
15 I started calling out. They were probably
16 surprised. And then there were some building material
17 here, some timber piled up, and they hid behind, and I
18 stayed there waiting, didn't know what to do. Then I
19 noticed Ivo Papic coming from his house and going along
20 this way, he reached Simo Vidovic's house, which is
21 somewhere around here, and shortly afterwards, they
22 reached this part, Kasim Ahmic's stable, my uncle, I
23 waved, and then they reached me, and they asked me who
24 I was, what I wanted, and I introduced myself. I asked
25 them to help me. I said they wanted to kill me. And
1 they said, "Come out with us." And they took me out
2 and they accompanied me to Zume along this road.
3 Q. Let's pause for a moment there, Mr. Ahmic,
4 and just again to make the record clear, pertaining to
5 the military policeman or police officers who you
6 describe parking their vehicle at the junction of the
7 main road and the road into Ahmici and who then went
8 towards the lower mosque, could you again tell us that
9 you saw those military police park at the circle in the
10 blow-up marked Roman numeral VII; would that be right?
11 A. Yes, that is where they left their car. As
12 far as I remember, they didn't use the car.
13 Q. And you recognised them as military police
14 because of the white belt which was distinctive for
15 them; is that right?
16 A. Yes, yes. I even saw them here, right close
17 up, when I peeked out, when they came up to me. They
18 were some kind of commanders, but from the
19 conversation, I realised they were from Busovaca
20 because one of these men guarding me asked, "What's new
21 in Busovaca?" And he said, "Everything is fine, it's
22 under control." So I concluded that they had come from
23 Busovaca, which is a town roughly the same size as
25 Q. And then to clarify, shortly after you saw
1 the military police park their vehicle at Roman numeral
2 VII, you heard a loud explosion from the direction of
3 the lower mosque where they were heading when you lost
4 sight of them; is that right?
5 A. Yes, yes. Very shortly afterwards. First,
6 there was thick smoke as if tyres had been set on fire,
7 and then a very strong explosion, and I saw the top of
8 the minaret collapsing.
9 MR. MOSKOWITZ: With the help of the usher, I
10 would like to show the witness the next exhibit.
11 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit number
13 MR. MOSKOWITZ:
14 Q. Now, Mr. Ahmic, you indicated that you were
15 taken out of that house that you referred to on the
16 previous exhibit, Exhibit 26, I believe it was house
17 40, by Ivo Papic and could you then tell us where you
18 were taken to and what route you took to get there?
19 A. I was taken along this road (indicating) and
20 I noticed that all these houses marked with numbers
21 were Bosniak houses, they were all destroyed and burnt,
22 all the houses marked with numbers were Bosniak houses,
23 and they took me in this direction, and I got to this
24 house, somewhere here, the third house in the row. And
25 there I found quite a large number of women and
1 children who were put into rooms. They had been
2 brought there before me.
3 Q. Now, again to clarify the record, this
4 exhibit, Exhibit 26, I believe, 27 --
5 THE REGISTRAR: Twenty-seven.
6 MR. MOSKOWITZ: Excuse me, thank you, 27.
7 Q. Is a blow-up of the large Ahmici map that has
8 already been introduced into evidence, and it shows the
9 main road now farther down from where you were before
10 and it focuses on what is known as the Santici area,
11 and I believe earlier in your testimony you mentioned
12 the area called Zume, and if you would, to orient
13 everyone, where is Zume in this blow-up?
14 A. As far as I can remember, my neighbours and
15 me, we call this area Zume. They belong to the local
16 community of Santici, but it was larger, and this
17 smaller area was known as Zume. I don't think this was
18 Zume. This, this is the area we referred to as Zume
19 (indicating). But it all belonged to the local
20 community of Santici.
21 Q. It was a neighbourhood, if you will, maybe,
22 of --
23 A. Yes, a hamlet.
24 Q. In-between perhaps Santici and Ahmici, would
25 that be a way of describing it?
1 A. No, no. Zume belongs to Santici. It's part
2 of Santici.
3 Q. Thank you for that clarification.
4 A. Yes, yes.
5 Q. There are many houses here that you have
6 circled. What do those circles indicate and what do
7 they mean?
8 A. I marked the Bosniak houses that I saw had
9 been destroyed when I passed along this road with Ivo
10 and Simo. These are all Bosniak houses. It will take
11 a long time for me to list all the names of the owners,
12 but as you can see, there were many houses that were
14 Q. And these were houses that you saw with your
15 own eyes as you were walking down that main road to
17 A. Yes, yes, that is correct.
18 Q. Now, I notice there are other houses that
19 don't have circles around them. What does that mean?
20 A. Those are houses belonging to Croats which
21 were not damaged or destroyed.
22 Q. Now, you were taken by Ivo Papic, that would
23 be the father of Dragan Papic, to the third house.
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Could you then point out for us that third
1 house, and I would, with the permission of the usher --
2 maybe you don't need the usher to help you -- there's a
3 marker next to you. If you could draw a circle around
4 that third house, if you would? It's a little bit of a
5 fuzzy picture, so it may be difficult, but do your
6 best. And could you also draw, while you have that
7 marker with you, the direction of travel that you and
8 Ivo Papic and the third gentleman took as you walked
9 down from house 40 to that third house in Santici?
10 A. (Marks).
11 Q. Now, when you entered that third house in
12 Santici, what did you see?
13 A. I saw a large number of women and children.
14 They were mostly women coming from these houses
15 (indicating), those that had been burnt down and
16 destroyed, but without their men, and others had been
17 brought from the area where I used to live, women and
18 children had been brought there.
19 Q. Could you describe the scene, the mood of the
20 people that you saw in that third house, your former
21 Muslim neighbours?
22 A. All those women were in shock, they were
23 petrified, mostly all of their men, husbands and sons
24 had been killed. It was a most distressing situation,
25 but also I wasn't in a position to really observe them
1 because I was in the same situation as they.
2 Q. What happened while you remained -- and by
3 the way, this would be on April 17th, 1993, would it
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. What happened while you were in this third
7 house in Santici?
8 A. They gave us a little food, they brought some
9 food from the neighbouring houses, and then during the
10 night, about 10.00, three soldiers came in, and they
11 said they needed a man to go to the UNPROFOR base.
12 Apparently -- allegedly to ask for lorries to take us
13 to Zenica. And then he addressed me and said, "Why
14 don't you go?" And I refused. I said I couldn't, that
15 I was feeling faint, and I would probably have been
16 killed if they had taken me out because it was night
17 time. During the night, nothing important happened. I
18 remember that nearby, at this junction, there was an
19 anti-aircraft canon firing in the direction of the
20 Mahala. That's all that I saw.
21 Q. You mention Mahala. Would you describe what
22 that is?
23 A. It is a Catholic village north-west of my
24 village or north of Santici. It is on an elevation.
25 Q. Now, did you speak to anyone or did anyone
1 speak to you when that soldier came into the third
2 house and was looking for a man to go to UNPROFOR?
3 A. Yes. (redacted) whispered in my ear,
4 don't go. That is how they took out three men,
5 allegedly to bury the dead, but they never returned,
6 which means they killed those men, and this is why she
7 whispered this to me. And maybe I would have gone to
8 ask for those lorries, but I changed my mind, and
9 anyway, I really was feeling faint and I doubt I could
10 have got there.
11 Q. And (redacted), former
12 neighbour of yours, who lived in the Zume area; is that
14 A. Yes, yes.
15 Q. How did it come about that you were able to
16 leave that third house in Santici, you and the other
18 A. We spent the night there, and at about 8.00
19 in the morning, Nicika Plavcic came, he was an artist
20 from Vitez, and he told me that we would be exchanged,
21 that all of us were going to be exchanged, and that the
22 exchange would take place in Tolovici, if I remember
23 well, at the line of confrontation. Apparently there
24 were captured Croats in Poculica, and we would be
25 exchanged. What he did, in fact, was he took us to the
1 Dubravica school to a camp. As soon as we entered the
2 school playground, the soldiers shut us up. Also,
3 there were trenches around the school, so this was a
4 real military camp.
5 Q. Now, this Dubravica school that you were
6 taken to, how did you and the other people who were
7 being held captive in the third house, how did you get
8 from that house in Santici to the Dubravica school?
9 A. We all went on foot along the road. It was
10 about three or four kilometres away along an asphalt
11 road in the direction of Vitez.
12 Q. This Dubravica school, am I right in saying
13 that it is located near the conjunction of the mountain
14 road to Zenica and the main Busovaca-Vitez road that
15 you've described?
16 A. It is a regional road, not a mountain road.
17 Yes, it is close to that road, and it is close to the
18 main Vitez-Busovaca road, very close, only it's on a
20 Q. So you and the other displaced persons,
21 mostly women and children, walked or had to walk to the
22 Dubravica school; is that right?
23 A. Yes, yes.
24 Q. Describe the conditions at the Dubravica
25 school, if you would.
1 A. When we got there, there were about 30 or 40
2 men there already, mostly from Vitez, Gacice, who had
3 been brought there, as they told us, two hours before
4 us. They had also been captured. At the entrance to
5 the school, they separated the younger women and the
6 children in one set of classrooms, whereas they took us
7 into the gym.
8 Q. When you say "us," you mean the men?
9 A. No, the older women and those who were weak,
10 the infirm, but there were some younger women in the
11 gym too, but still they did separate some people and
12 put them up in the classrooms. There were women even
13 in the gym with children. I don't know why they were
14 separating them.
15 Q. How many days did you spend at the Dubravica
16 school, you and the others?
17 A. I spent five or six days there. The others
18 stayed longer. Having been wounded, I left earlier
19 because the Red Cross came and some doctors, and they
20 took me to Zenica. Others, I think, stayed for a month
21 and some even longer in that school. I think that only
22 five or six of us left under Red Cross escort to Zenica
23 on that occasion.
24 Q. What was the condition of your wound at the
25 time you left Dubravica school?
1 A. My face had swollen up and I was in bad
3 Q. While at the Dubravica school, if you could
4 give us just a brief idea of the conditions there and
5 of incidents that may have occurred while you were
6 there that you recall?
7 A. At first, the food was very poor. They gave
8 us very little. Later on, they allowed Bosniak women,
9 who were not captured from the surrounding houses, to
10 bring us food. The conditions were such that we were
11 lying on the floor. There were no blankets or
12 anything. Later on, they brought some.
13 Then the first night, they took men to dig
14 trenches to the surrounding villages to reinforce the
15 lines. The unit leaders would come. I remember Ivica
16 Safradin coming, looking for men to go to Pirici, I
17 think it was. And then Vlatko from Krcevine came,
18 "Cicin" he was called. He's my age. He was looking
19 for men for Krcevine. He was the worst. He really
20 mistreated those men who he took with him.
21 These unit leaders would come several times a
22 day and even during the night to take men out. Some
23 men would come back wounded, exhausted, mistreated, so
24 that the conditions were very bad. There were even
25 cases that a man was killed, and they would come back
1 with wounds sometimes. Who wounded them, I don't know.
2 Q. How were the women treated?
3 A. I can tell you that I noticed that there were
4 instances of rape, especially where the younger women
5 were in the classrooms. Next to me, a young man lay,
6 and his wife had been separated from him. One morning
7 his wife visited him crying, so I concluded that she
8 had been raped. And the rumour was that there were
9 rapes in this camp, in this school.
10 Q. Before we leave --
11 JUDGE CASSESE: Mr. Moskowitz, I'm sorry to
12 interrupt you. How much time do you need, because it's
13 5.00. It occurs to me that we should stop now, if you
14 can tell us --
15 MR. MOSKOWITZ: I have actually just one more
16 question on this exhibit, and then I think we ought to
17 break -- I would think that would be a good idea -- and
18 probably another -- I just want to show him some
19 photographs, and that can take sometimes a little time,
20 and that would essentially conclude the testimony.
21 JUDGE CASSESE: Your estimate was of an hour
22 and a half. Anyway ...
23 MR. MOSKOWITZ: I'll do my best.
24 JUDGE CASSESE: You can put one more question
25 and then we'll break.
1 MR. MOSKOWITZ: Yes.
2 Q. Mr. Ahmic, looking at Exhibit 27, I believe,
3 on the machine next to you, you had testified earlier
4 that you had seen Dragan Papic back in '92/'93 with a
5 sniper rifle and a strangling device, and you had
6 mentioned it was somewhere down in Zume and Santici.
7 We didn't have on the ELMO at that time that area of
8 the map. We do now. Could you show us where you saw
9 Dragan Papic between '92 and '93 carrying those
11 A. I saw him here (indicating) at this junction
12 leading to Rovna. I was coming in this way, and he and
13 his brother Goran were going the opposite way, and we
14 met here (indicating). Maybe we just exchanged
15 greetings briefly. This is where we met, at this
17 MR. MOSKOWITZ: Thank you. Thank you, Your
19 JUDGE CASSESE: All right. We will rise
20 now. I'm sorry, one second, please.
21 MR. KRAJINA: If I may, Your Honour, may I
22 make a remark? The witness has stated that Vlatko
23 Kupreskic knows Blazo Tutic because they worked
24 together in Masinogradnja, a company called
1 JUDGE CASSESE: Sorry to interrupt you. In
2 cross-examination, you can ask any question. Why do
3 you want to put this question now?
4 MR. KRAJINA: No, this has to do with a
5 correction of the transcript, Your Honour.
6 JUDGE CASSESE: I'm sorry, yes.
7 MR. KRAJINA: It seems to us that the
8 transcript was not correct regarding this particular
9 part of the witness's statement, and one may be able to
10 conclude from this that the witness actually saw Vlatko
11 Kupreskic. I'm sure that somebody will check this, but
12 I would like to draw your attention to this. Either we
13 should correct the transcript or the witness should be
14 asked once again to clarify.
15 JUDGE CASSESE: Yes, you're right. Thank
16 you. We will ask the registrar to check the
17 transcript. In any case, if there is any doubt, this
18 question will be put again tomorrow so as to clarify
19 the position of the witness.
20 Thank you. We will rise now.
21 --- Whereupon hearing adjourned at
22 5.06 p.m. to be reconvened on Wednesday,
23 the 19th day of August, 1998 at
24 9.30 a.m.