1 Tuesday, 20th July, 1999
2 (Open session)
3 (The accused entered court)
4 (The witness entered court)
5 --- Upon commencing at 9.02 a.m.
6 THE REGISTRAR: Case number IT-95-16-T, the
7 Prosecutor versus Zoran Kupreskic, Mirjan Kupreskic,
8 Vlatko Kupreskic, Drago Josipovic, Dragan Papic, and
9 Vladimir Santic.
10 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you. Mr. Terrier?
11 MR. TERRIER: Good morning, Mr. President.
12 Good morning, Your Honours. Good morning.
13 After I looked through the transcript, I
14 should like to make some corrections which, it seems to
15 me, to be important to begin with.
16 I didn't give a proper answer to Judge May's
17 question about the place where the film was shot, the
18 soldiers with ribbons. I tried to check out the date,
19 but all we have is information on the film, and that is
20 the 20th of April, 1993. That is all that we know
21 about it. But I'm told that this is a fragment of a
22 two-hour video cassette with a number of short films
23 which make part of the HVO propaganda.
24 Of this two-hour videotape, we have already
25 shown a number of films, and particularly I'm sure Your
1 Honours will remember showing soldiers going through
2 Ahmici before the conflict of the 16th of April, 1993,
3 and that was Exhibit 354 [incorrect interpretation].
4 The cassette was given to the Defence, and they also
5 used it. That is all that I know about this tape. I
6 can only add that it was by a person from Zenica who
7 turned it over to the Tribunal in 1997.
8 Then on page 11451 of the transcript, I asked
9 the witness, and I believe it was improperly translated
10 or at least not fully properly translated, the
11 transcript says that I asked the witness, it was
12 Witness B, and I shall not mention the name because we
13 are in open session, why did he say that he saw at his
14 place a rifle, helmet, and a package of ammunition. I
15 was talking about a military kit, military bag or
16 something like that, I don't know how one translates,
17 but it's not the ammunition.
18 At any rate, on page 11486, I asked the
19 witness to confirm, and the witness confirmed, said
20 that he left the depression to go see his house on the
21 19th of April, 1993, and I was talking about the 18th
22 of April, 1993, and the witness was referred to the
23 18th of April, not the 19th. Those were the
24 corrections that I wish to make.
25 Yes, Mr. President, somebody said that I
1 talked about -- that the exhibit is not 354 but 352.
2 That is the tape. I will begin.
3 WITNESS: ZORAN KUPRESKIC (Resumed)
4 Cross-examined by Mr. Terrier:
5 Q. Good morning. Witness, we shall resume, if
6 you please, where we left off yesterday, and that is
7 the question when did you realise and understand what
8 had been going on in Ahmici in the morning of the 16th
9 of April? You told us yesterday, and I reread your
10 statement carefully, that during the first hours, you
11 thought that the Mujahedin were attacking the village
12 and that fighting was going on. Later on, you said
13 that you realised that it was Muslim houses which were
14 on fire, and you discovered that Muslim civilians were
15 the victims and that they were being killed. But you
16 also added that you thought that the combat, that some
17 of the fighting continuing. Did I understand you well?
18 A. Well, some you did understand and some, I
19 believe, was misinterpreted because I said that during
20 the first few hours, I realised that fighting was going
21 on up there and that the fire came from both sides.
22 After my first departure to see my family and return, I
23 could see in the direction of Zume, towards the main
24 road, some Muslim houses burning, and also I learned
25 that several people were killed down there. I didn't
1 say whether they were civilians or soldiers because I
2 did not know what they were. After I learned from my
3 relative, Ivica, that it was Muslim houses burning, not
4 ours, that was information which told me that it was
5 the Muslims who were the victims, and I still did not
6 know whether they were civilians or soldiers or how or
7 in what way, but to my mind, fighting was going on.
8 In the evening, before it went dark, around
9 the mosque, around the mosque, what was going on around
10 the mosque was fighting. However, I say that even
11 today, I still do not know who attacked whom and how,
12 and I can only conclude from results that I learned
13 later on and saw that it was, indeed, the Muslims who
14 were victimised there, and their houses had burnt down
15 and things like that.
16 Q. Why is it that you think that in the
17 afternoon of the 16th of April, in particular, around
18 their mosque, the fighting was going on? Were you
19 observing the situation at the time? Did you hear
20 something at the time? Did you see anything? Were you
21 told something? What was it that led you to believe
22 that fighting was going on around the mosque in the
23 afternoon of the 16th of April?
24 A. We saw no detonations, but since the gunfire
25 was intensive, we were hiding in the same place down
1 there, and a detonation came some half an hour later,
2 approximately, I'm saying. There was fierce fighting
3 on both sides because some bullets even hit the wood
4 where we were, that is, from the other side.
5 After that half hour of that very intensive
6 gunfire, it abated and we heard a detonation, and the
7 minaret of the mosque went down. We did not see the
8 exact moment when it was demolished, but in view of the
9 detonation and the cessation of gunfire, we could take
10 a peek between the tree trunks to come up, and we could
11 see the fire next to the mosque and we could not see
12 the minaret anymore.
13 Q. Yes, I understand that, but my question was
14 slightly different. I wanted to know, on the basis of
15 which information or which observation did you think
16 that the fighting was still going on around the mosque
17 in the village of Ahmici or anywhere in Ahmici in the
18 afternoon of the 16th of April?
19 A. I'm not referring to afternoon hours. I'm
20 talking about the evening, about 7.00 or 8.00 in the
21 evening. After UNPROFOR left the village, that was
22 around noon, perhaps around 12.00 or perhaps 1.00, the
23 gunfire continued after that, but it was intermittent
24 and it wasn't as intensive as it was in the morning.
25 That gunfire, at around 7.00 or 8.00 in the evening,
1 was just as intensive as in the morning. Well, I can't
2 claim, but it was much more intensive than a tiny
3 moment after the departure of the UNPROFOR.
4 Again, I say it was around 7.00 or 8.00 in
5 the evening, and the bullets were flying around. I
6 mean, it seemed to us that they were very near us, but
7 they could have been very far away, but we felt them
8 coming from the other side, and that is why I concluded
9 that it was a full-scale combat.
10 Q. Witness, we heard different Defence witnesses
11 who told us here that at 1.00 -- that at a particular
12 time on the 16th of April, and I'm not mentioning any
13 hour, Vlatko Kupreskic left Ivica's shelter and went
14 home. On the 16th of April, was it in the morning or
15 in the afternoon? I mean, this is something that can
16 be discussed at some other time. So is it that Vlatko
17 Kupreskic went back home on the 16th of April, either
18 towards the late morning or in the afternoon, it
19 doesn't really matter, and you did not go back to your
20 house, only on the 18th of April? Why could Vlatko
21 Kupreskic do that and you didn't?
22 A. Well, I don't know. Perhaps Vlatko is braver
23 than I am. I don't know. Vinko Sakic told us that
24 Vlatko had been to his place. I did not see him. I do
25 not know when it was that Vlatko went home. Whether
1 simply the anxiety about his father, who had stayed at
2 home, prevailed on him, I really don't know. But what
3 I knew about the burning of Muslim houses, what I knew
4 about the Muslim houses around our houses burning, I
5 simply wasn't thinking about my own house. With all
6 those houses on fire, I never thought about my house.
7 Besides, I had no particular valuables in that house,
8 apart from the house itself, because we had not even
9 moved into it yet. Only two rooms were inhabitable at
10 the time.
11 When I saw all that, I never thought about my
12 house. I simply didn't care about it. I cared about
13 my family, about my wife, about three small children,
14 and my own life. What Vlatko thought at the time, I
15 don't know.
16 Q. You are telling us that somebody told you
17 that he saw Vlatko Kupreskic, but this is not mentioned
18 in the transcript. Could you please repeat it?
19 A. Niko Sakic told us that Vlatko had gone to
20 his place.
21 Q. It was then that he told you, when you were
22 in the depression, not on some other day? It was then
23 that he told you that?
24 A. On the 16th, in the afternoon, Niko Sakic
25 came to see us on several occasions, and on one of
1 those occasions when he came, on the 16th, in the
2 afternoon of the 16th, he told us that Vlatko had been
3 to him.
4 Q. Do you remember saying during your
5 examination that that day you called Ivan Josipovic,
6 who was a friend of yours. Do you remember saying that
7 during your testimony?
8 A. I said that I called on the 17th. I don't
9 remember if it was in the morning when I went to see my
10 family or in the afternoon, and I said that I called
11 several persons that morning, not only Ivan Josipovic
12 but Zdravo Matkovic and [redacted], and I tried to call
13 some others, I couldn't get through, and so on.
14 Q. Could you tell us, who is Ivan Josipovic?
15 A. Ivan Josipovic is a worker like Zdravo
16 Matkovic. They also worked with me there.
17 Q. At that moment, was he a member of the
18 military police?
19 A. No.
20 Q. Do you know a Ivan Josipovic who was a member
21 of the military police?
22 A. I know another Ivan Josipovic who worked for
23 the civilian police. I believe he was a judge or
24 something like that.
25 Q. But they are not one and the same person?
1 A. No.
2 Q. You spoke about Nikola Omazic and other
3 witnesses. You remember that during that debate we had
4 the opportunity of looking at a document showing that
5 Nikola Omazic had been wounded that 16th of April in
6 Ahmici while he fought in the ranks of the Vitez
7 Brigade. When you saw Nikola Omazic, did you
8 understand that he was a member of the Vitez Brigade,
9 that he was in Ahmici in order to participate in the
11 A. I could never say that of Omazic and I could
12 never interpret it that way because I saw him without a
13 uniform with a rifle. He never stood guard with us,
14 and I just don't know where he was. I know that he was
15 a man prone to drinking. I don't think he was a
16 serious enough man to do anything.
17 Q. Do you remember that document or would you
18 like me to -- that military document, do you remember
20 A. Yes, I remember that document, and I learnt
21 on the 17th that Nikola had been wounded in the
22 afternoon of the 16th, but I learned that from Mirko
24 Q. Before I change the subject, I should like to
25 ask you another question referring to Nikola Santic,
1 Mirjan Santic, and perhaps some others. When you
2 reflect on that day of the 16th of April, don't you
3 have a feeling that the aggressor was perfectly
4 informed about the topography of Ahmici and its
5 villagers, that is, who lived in which house? We know
6 that amongst Muslim and Croat houses, there is a
7 traditional difference, but we also saw that there were
8 some exceptions to that, yet the aggressor did not make
9 a mistake. Don't you have a feeling, don't you think
10 that the aggressor must have been accompanied by
11 persons from the inside from the village who took part
12 in the aggression? Have you ever reflected about --
13 did you ever give it a thought?
14 A. Well, I could make some guesses or speculate
15 or think about this, but about some of Kupreskics'
16 houses: Our houses are not mixed with the Muslim
17 houses. As you go from Zume towards Ahmici by our
18 houses, the last Croat houses are ours and the
19 following houses are all Muslim.
20 Secondly, if it were so, such a large number
21 of people know that, not only from Ahmici. It could be
22 from a border area, from Santici and other places.
23 Very many people are aware of the situation. Perhaps
24 in some other places, it is not like that, perhaps they
25 are mixed and they alternate perhaps, but in our case,
1 that is not so.
2 Q. I simply thought, for instance, I had in mind
3 Fahrudin's house. That was a rectangular house near
4 Josipovics' house, yet the aggressors never made a
5 mistake; isn't that so?
6 A. I said I don't know. It's down by the road.
7 And I said that down there, there are some houses which
8 are mixed, but that is not the case with my house or
9 our houses.
10 Q. I believe you said, but I don't have the
11 exact reference, I think this was yesterday or the day
12 after yesterday or, rather, on Friday, sorry, that
13 around your house, the Kupreskic houses, you saw, on
14 the 18th of April, two Muslim houses which were still
15 intact; do you remember that?
16 A. Yes, I do.
17 Q. Whose houses were they?
18 A. As far as I remember, these houses are intact
19 to this day. This is a new house under a roof
20 belonging to Semsudin Ahmic, a son, and a new house
21 belonging to the son of Mehmed Krdzalic. I don't know
22 his name. I believe he lived in Austria or somewhere
23 outside and he was building the house there. From what
24 I know, those houses were never damaged. In addition
25 to those, Bilics' and Strmonjes' houses in Zume.
1 Q. These houses which you are referring, which
2 were still intact, were they habitable and inhabited on
3 the 16th of April, 1993?
4 A. Krdzalic's son's house, no, it was not
5 habitable, and Semsudin Ahmic's house, well, perhaps
6 one room could be used, but I'm not sure. So it's
7 quite possible that one room was habitable, but don't
8 take my word for it.
9 Q. Nevertheless, you are not disputing the fact
10 that in your particular area, around your house, around
11 Kupreskics' houses, all the Muslim houses, that is,
12 those which were habitable and inhabitable, were
14 A. Yes, that is true.
15 Q. Now I should like to talk to you about the
16 family of (redacted) and her daughters. Could you
17 tell us, on what kind of terms were you with her
19 A. I only met late (redacted) of that whole family
20 and we would greet. I don't think that I met his wife
21 more than on a couple of occasions. And children, I
22 don't think I ever saw them. Perhaps they were playing
23 with other children but I didn't realise they were
24 (redacted) children.
25 Q. You are talking about (redacted), about the
1 father of the family who was killed on the 16th of
2 April, 1993?
3 A. Yes, I am.
4 Q. Is it true that (redacted) was in the car repair
6 A. Yes, I know that he was into that because he
7 had his shop registered. I'm not sure whether it was
8 registered, but I know that he was into that business.
9 Q. Have you been to their house?
10 A. I've never visited their house.
11 Q. Have you ever been to (redacted)'s car repair
13 A. No. I said already I've never in my life
14 been to that house or that shop, not even near that
15 house, although my house is relatively near, but I've
16 never been to that house or even in front of it.
17 Q. What is the distance between his house and
18 your house, approximately?
19 A. His house is some 30 or 40 metres from his
20 father's, Sakib's house, further than my own, that is,
21 down there towards the road. First comes Sakib's
22 house, then his yard, then the stable, and after that
23 is (redacted) house.
24 Q. But you told us that you were on very good
25 terms with (redacted), his house is 60 or 80 metres from
1 yours, and yet you never went to see him?
2 A. Yes. Well, I didn't say I was on very good
3 terms with him. We were on neighbourly terms, "Hi."
4 "Hi." "How are you?" "How are you?" That was about
5 it. But I never paid him a visit nor did he ever come
6 to see me at my place.
7 MR. TERRIER: Mr. President, I should now
8 like to refer to testimony in a private session,
10 (Private session)
13 page 11504 redacted – private session
13 page 11505 redacted – private session
13 page 11506 redacted – private session
13 page 11507 redacted – private session
13 page 11508 redacted – private session
15 (Open session)
16 MR. TERRIER:
17 Q. Witness, you remember [redacted]
18 [redacted] There again, since you
19 heard all of them, you heard all of his testimony and
20 you heard that he pointed to you and your brother in a
21 very specific and accurate way, and he pointed to you
22 both as being the perpetrators of the death of the four
23 people in his family who were in the house at the
24 time. What did [redacted] statement arouse in you
25 in terms of thinking?
1 A. It makes me think that due to this statement,
2 I have suffered a lot throughout this time, but what
3 can I do? I was not there, and we had an opportunity
4 to see that what I'm talking about now is the same
5 thing that that witness also testified to, at least in
6 the first several statements. But as things developed,
7 as things evolved, at first, he was in a hospital, and
8 then when he was able to exchange stories and points of
9 view, and this is just my own point of view, then I
10 think that he came to the idea that he should not point
11 to somebody who came from Busovaca or from somewhere
12 else. He may have said, "Well, I know Zoran and
13 Mirjan, and I'll say that." This is what I'm guessing,
14 obviously, and I have no proof of that.
15 Q. Could you tell us what kind of terms you were
16 on with that family before the 16th of April, 1993?
17 Were you on good terms with Sakib Ahmic, but also with
18 his children and grandchildren or, let's say, his
20 A. My God, these were just normal, regular
21 relationships. I lived there for 30 years. Those
22 relationships did not change a single bit until that
23 situation which was around in those days. We would
24 greet each other, and we did that a couple of days
25 before that as well as 15 years before that, we would
1 greet each other in the say way. I would see Sakib. I
2 would greet him. I knew Naser, and Naser was even
3 closer to my brother Mirjan. I didn't know the
4 children and the grandchildren. I saw those children
5 all mingled together, and I didn't know whose were
6 whose. The children would just play, and we would not
7 exchange any greetings.
8 Q. I'm not talking about the grandchildren. Let
9 us talk about Naser Ahmic. Did you just say that you
10 were on friendly terms with him? Could you say that?
11 A. I said I had friendly relations, amicable
12 relations with everyone. Naser did not stand out in
13 relation to (redacted) or (redacted), the other two
14 brothers. I just know that my brother worked at the
15 Sutra company, and he would see Naser more often.
16 Also, they are of the same generation. He is not of my
18 Q. But, for instance, would Naser go to your
19 house or did you go to his house?
20 A. No, Naser never came to my house, and he did
21 not have his own house. He lived with his father, so I
22 couldn't go there myself. But as far as Sakib's house
23 is concerned, I was there a few times as a child.
24 Q. Therefore, as an adult, you never went to
25 Naser and Sakib Ahmic's house?
1 A. No.
2 Q. Did you know, even if you never went to their
3 house, where exactly Sakib lived? Where did he live in
4 that house? Which was his room? Did you know that?
5 A. I knew that Sakib lived in the house. I knew
6 that he had problems with his wife, that they had
7 separated. Then here I learned that he got the
8 basement and that the top part of the house was his
9 wife's, and I don't know exactly where he was, where he
11 Q. Therefore, prior to the 16th of April, you
12 thought that Sakib Ahmic lived in the cellar of that
13 house; is that what you thought?
14 A. I said that I didn't know. I said that I
15 didn't know because I saw him by his house. When he
16 was going into his garden, he would emerge into the
17 garden both from underneath and from the top of the
18 house, so I didn't know.
19 Q. Witness, we are in a public hearing now. I'm
20 not going to mention the name of this person. This is
21 a friend of yours in Vitez, a friend of yours who used
22 to live in Vitez. She stated in paragraph 26 of the
23 said statement, she said the following, and I'd like to
24 know from you whether this statement is accurate. She
25 said the following:
1 "Zoran told me that he had been threatened
2 by them, the Jokers, in Ahmici on the morning of the
3 attack. After removing his family and parents from
4 Ahmici, he returned to Ahmici and joined soldiers in
5 the trenches." I will go on.
6 "They," the soldiers, I suppose, "were
7 firing at Muslim civilians who were trying to run
8 away. One of the Jokers noticed that Zoran was not
9 firing. He put a gun to his temple and said, 'If you
10 don't shoot the civilians, I will kill you.' Zoran
11 told them he couldn't shoot at these people because he
12 knew them. He went back to the trench and pretended to
13 shoot at them, but actually he was firing shots in the
15 Is this what you said?
16 A. No. If you want me to, I can say what I told
17 her, and I don't know how then from there she may have
18 construed the story as she did, but that's not how I
19 told her what happened.
20 Q. Could you tell us what may have caused such
21 confusion in this person's mind?
22 A. I don't know. The only thing I can think of
23 is that she wanted to help me by giving such a
24 statement, but I know that on the 18th of April, in
25 Upper Pirici, I was forced to dig a trench. There was
1 no pistol pointed to my temple. Mirko Sakic and I both
2 dug, as well as the others around us. I did not
3 mention to [redacted] the Jokers, nor did I see them
4 there because there was the military police present.
5 As far as the civilians and shooting is concerned, I
6 did not see a single civilian, nor did anybody shoot at
7 civilians there while I was there. Perhaps this story
8 may be linked to Zume. When some people were brought
9 there, the military policemen shot over their heads,
10 trying to scare them into going back home. So this may
11 have been construed by [redacted], but I don't know
12 what she may now confirm.
13 Q. We will see that later, since she's going to
14 be summoned as a prosecution witness. This same person
15 stated in paragraph 31, and now she was talking about a
16 much later time, following the time when you were
17 indicted. She met you then in 1994, and according to
18 her, you asked her whether she was willing to provide
19 an alibi to you that would say that you were at her
20 place at the time of the attack, and she said that
21 there was no way that could be accepted; is that so?
22 A. That is not even remotely so. First of all,
23 in 1994, there was no indictment; that was in 1996. It
24 was in 1996 when we got together. We were in Ljilja's
1 Second, I would have been crazy if I had
2 suggested something like that. I was an innocent
3 person, so why would I have asked for such a thing? I
4 could have just said that I was with my wife in the
5 shelter. So I never suggested anything like that. I
6 only asked her whether she was prepared, if this would
7 be necessary, because I still did not believe that it
8 would come to this, to write down what happened. She
9 was still not prepared at that time to testify, but she
10 was prepared to make a written statement. At first,
11 she didn't dare. First, she wanted to write it down
12 and then sign it, and then later on, she didn't want
13 that either. There were Muslim colleagues of hers who
14 were in Zenica, and I also asked her whether she could
15 ask them whether they, these colleagues of mine, would
16 also say something, give some statements, and she
17 promised that she would try to do that.
18 MR. TERRIER: Your Honour, I have no further
19 questions for the witness. I would like -- I think I
20 made a mistake. I want to check that. Exhibits 375
21 and 376 have already been admitted into evidence.
22 I have one last little problem. During the
23 cross-examination, I did not mention the written
24 statement by Fuad Berbic. Does that mean that the --
25 MS. SLOKOVIC-GLUMAC: There is no
2 JUDGE CASSESE: There doesn't seem to be a
4 MR. TERRIER: I'll repeat what I said.
5 During the cross-examination, I did not use the written
6 statement made by one of the witnesses for whom the
7 Court had kindly agreed to me using the statement.
8 Does that mean that the Prosecution does not have to
9 call that witness as a witness?
10 JUDGE CASSESE: You mean Fuad Berbic.
11 MR. TERRIER: Yes. Thank you, Your Honour.
12 MS. SLOKOVIC-GLUMAC: Thank you,
13 Mr. President. I have one question. Given that the
14 Prosecution had the permission of the Trial Chamber to
15 quote certain excerpts from the statement, does the
16 Defence have the same right? This is in reference to
17 the statement of Fuad Berbic.
18 JUDGE CASSESE: I'm wondering whether
19 actually the Prosecutor quoted from this statement. I
20 think he didn't quote anything from this particular
21 statement. In this case, you would not be authorised
22 to do so.
23 MS. SLOKOVIC-GLUMAC: That is correct. He
24 did not quote anything from the statement, but we also
25 believe that he had the right to use certain statements
1 and elicit comments from the witness on them. So we
2 also believe that it would be useful for ascertaining
3 the truthfulness of certain portions of the statement,
4 in other words, just to make statements, I would not
5 quote them, but I would just like to elicit comments on
6 certain points from these statements.
7 MR. TERRIER: Your Honour, allow me a very
8 brief comment following what Mrs. Glumac said. I did
9 not use, I did not mention the statement, as the
10 Defence just said. Therefore, it seems somewhat
11 strange that, during the redirect examination, a
12 statement which was not used previously, neither in the
13 examination-in-chief, nor in the cross-examination,
14 should be used. I am only referring to the general
15 rules applied here in these proceedings.
16 JUDGE CASSESE: Yes, I think the Prosecutor
17 is right. Could you please refrain from quoting from
18 this document?
19 MS. SLOKOVIC-GLUMAC: Thank you.
20 Re-examined by Ms. Slokovic-Glumac:
21 Q. Mr. Kupreskic, tell me, first of all, in
22 relation to some of these statements that you made to
23 the Prosecutor, I'm just going to ask you a few
24 questions by way of additional clarification. Tell us,
25 when you said that you worked in the folklore society,
1 you said that you were not paid by anyone for your
2 performances, and that for a given time you, as a
3 society, had sponsors; is that right?
4 A. Yes, that's right.
5 Q. When you performed on Bajram on the 24th of
6 March, 1993, was that paid for by a Muslim organisation
7 or did they organise everything that had to do with
8 your performance, that is to say, at least to cover
9 your costs, if not give you a fee?
10 A. In most cases, we only had costs to cover.
11 The only things we got was perhaps having a glass of
12 juice for the children, perhaps having a drink, having
13 a bite to eat. That would be it.
14 Q. I'm asking you specifically about your
15 performance for Bajram. Did anybody pay for anything?
16 A. No, no one paid anything.
17 Q. So you were not financially motivated at all
18 to perform; is that correct?
19 A. Yes, that is correct.
20 Q. You also said that you tried, after the war,
21 to contact persons who were members of your folklore
22 society, Napredak, and you wanted to get them back so
23 that you could restart, and you mentioned some names,
24 including Ahmet Delic.
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. You also said that he had joined you. Could
2 you tell us what he is by ethnicity?
3 A. Ahmet Delic is of Muslim faith. I only
4 realised then that his mother was from Ahmici. I
5 didn't know that before.
6 Q. Did Ahmet Delic make a statement in
7 connection with your character?
8 A. Yes, precisely what I asked [redacted] to do
9 and some others, those who dared.
10 Q. The Prosecutor mentioned, in connection with
11 the military document that was presented to you
12 concerning the analysis of your personality which was
13 obviously made by a military security service, the
14 Prosecutor mentioned a change in your position in
15 November 1993. Could you briefly describe the military
16 situation in Vitez in the second half of 1993, not to
17 say the end of 1993?
18 A. I know you that could not get out of Vitez.
19 Croats were surrounded by Muslim forces all around. We
20 were in trenches, and we responded to various attacks
21 only by infantry fire. I did not have the opportunity
22 to do so very often but others did. In Krizancevo
23 Selo, at the end of the year, there were over 80 dead.
24 Soon afterwards, Bucici Kuce, the same. In a word,
25 terrible. My wife and children were just a few
1 kilometres behind me, and my mother and father were
2 only 500 metres behind me. Could anyone have gotten
3 out, I think they all would have, but it was impossible
4 to leave.
5 Q. In that area, after the war started and after
6 that part of the Lasva River Valley was encircled by
7 the Muslims, was there any other way out for the Croats
8 there, except to fight?
9 A. No.
10 Q. Did you have any other way out?
11 A. Had I had another way out, I would have made
12 use of it.
13 Q. What would you have made use of?
14 A. I'm trying to say that had I had any other
15 way out, I would have resorted to it. On the 16th,
16 17th, 18th, the only thing -- I only did what I thought
17 was good and reasonable to do. Had I had any other
18 options, I would have done that. Zoran Kupreskic did
19 that. I don't know what else I could have done.
20 Q. Tell us, to the best of your knowledge, when
21 did a person become a member of the reserve force?
22 A. A person becomes a member of the reserve
23 force in the age span from 18 to 60 in the former
24 Yugoslav People's Army. In the former Yugoslav
25 People's Army, all the time one spent outside the
1 Yugoslav People's Army, and apart from the period when
2 you were mobilised, you are a military-aged and
3 military-able man, but you're a member of the reserve.
4 So if you're mobilised, you're a soldier, and if you
5 are not mobilised, you are a civilian, but you are part
6 of the reserve force. So we were all part of the
7 reserve force.
8 Q. So a person who is in the reserve force is a
9 civilian. Does such a person go to one's regular work?
10 A. If this person has a job, then that that
11 person goes to work. It depends on whether this person
12 has a job.
13 Q. According to the laws of the former
14 Yugoslavia, were you duty-bound to respond to
15 mobilisation call-up?
16 A. Certainly, by all means. Every military-aged
17 man is duty-bound to respond to a mobilisation
19 Q. What was the consequence of avoiding
20 mobilisation or not responding to mobilisation call-up?
21 A. Well, I don't know. I think a criminal
22 report is filed. A criminal report is filed. There is
23 criminal prosecution.
24 Q. Tell me, in terms of the reserve force that
25 we're talking about over here, who are military
1 conscripts? Are these two words synonymous, "military
2 conscripts" and "reserve force"? Is it one and the
3 same thing?
4 A. A military conscript and the reserve forces
5 are not the same thing. Military conscripts are all of
6 us, from the age of 18 to 60. Men, I mean. Well,
7 afterwards, there was women too. I think that in the
8 former Yugoslavia, for a given period of time, women
9 were included as well. All are military conscripts,
10 irrespective of what they did at that time.
11 Q. So what is the difference between the reserve
12 force and military conscripts?
13 A. Well, we're all military conscripts. The
14 reserve force are civilians. They are not engaged in
15 the army. So a man who gets call-up papers and is
16 mobilised becomes a soldier, and then when he is
17 demobilised, he goes back to the reserve force. Again,
18 he is a military conscript, but he's a civilian now.
19 Q. So military conscript actually includes the
20 reserve force, the active force, and the military as
21 such; is that correct?
22 A. That is general terminology.
23 Q. Tell me, is taking an oath a precondition for
24 a person to become a soldier?
25 A. No. Taking an oath is a ceremony that, in
1 the Yugoslav People's Army -- well, I remember when I
2 did that, when I did my service in the military in the
3 former Yugoslavia, my parents came, and that is usually
4 a ceremonial event, when your friends would come. I
5 did my military service in Krusevac in Serbia because I
6 came from Vitez, but I was not mobilised to the HVO.
7 So then to take an oath does not mean that you have to
8 take an oath in order to become a soldier. That has
9 nothing to do with it.
10 Q. You said that you were mobilised, in your
11 opinion, as you were taken to the front line on the
12 18th of March, 1993 -- I mean, the 18th of April,
13 1993. What did you get on that occasion? When did you
14 receive weapons, equipment, a uniform from the HVO?
15 A. On that occasion, I did not receive a thing.
16 What I had I took along with me, and I got a uniform, I
17 can't remember exactly when, perhaps this was September
18 or August. A month or two after I had joined the
19 command of the company; that is when I got a uniform.
20 Q. Do you know where the weapons of the former
21 Yugoslavia, rather, the JNA, were kept? Did military
22 conscripts keep these weapons at home?
23 A. No way. When men would come back from the
24 JNA, they would not bring their rifles with them. When
25 you'd come back home, you'd just come with your
1 military booklet. You would leave all your weapons and
2 everything. You would be deissued.
3 Q. That relates to weapons and uniforms; is that
5 A. Yes, absolutely. Uniforms, weapons, badges,
6 everything that you got when you went to serve in the
7 JNA, you would have to leave. So, for example, when a
8 person would come and when he would get various things
9 from the JNA as well, then he would simply have to
10 return all of that.
11 Q. Do you know where JNA weapons were held?
12 A. In barracks.
13 Q. Oh, in barracks. Do you know which
14 barracks? Around Vitez or in Vitez itself?
15 A. In Vitez, there was not a military barracks.
16 There was only a warehouse at Slimena. I didn't even
17 know about it at the time. I knew there was a military
18 warehouse of the JNA, but what was in it, I did not
19 know. Later, as things developed, we saw what was
21 Q. One of these warehouses was the one at
22 Slimena; is that right?
23 A. Yes, that is right. That is right, but that
24 is the municipality of Travnik, not the municipality of
1 Q. In relation to this and your status and your
2 possession of weapons, we saw the film that was made by
3 Professor Bringa. The Muslims say that the weapons
4 they had they got as military conscripts from the JNA,
5 the automatic rifles that they had, that they got that
6 from the JNA. Was that possible?
7 A. I claim that it is impossible. Either that
8 was the translation that was received or perhaps these
9 people actually said it, but it's impossible.
10 Q. Tell me, in relation to the military ID that
11 is mentioned in (redacted) and that the
12 Prosecutor asked you about, tell me, what did it look
13 like? Can you describe it exactly? Can you exactly
14 describe this military ID? Did it have a picture?
15 A. I cannot remember it exactly, but as far as I
16 can remember, it did have a picture, just like the
17 military booklet, the ID from the JNA. I think there
18 was a picture.
19 Q. So there was a photograph in it?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. You said that you thought that it was a
22 replacement for the military booklet; is that correct?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Tell us, what was the importance of this
25 particular ID? What did it actually mean?
1 A. Well, what the importance was -- well, I
2 don't know. I imagine that after the TO and the HVO
3 were separated in Vitez, this was probably an attempt
4 to see who was there and to abolish the old military
5 IDs of the JNA and to issue something new. It was not
6 similar to the military booklet of the JNA. The
7 military booklet had a lot of pages and there were some
8 instructions, et cetera, whereas this ID was just a
9 single small sheet of plastic, I remember it was made
10 in our company, and I remember it said "Member of the
11 HVO." And what else did it say? I can't remember.
12 But I know that my rank was not recognised from the
13 Yugoslav People's Army, so it's impossible that it said
14 "Commander." What it did say exactly, that I do not
16 Q. You say that your rank was not recognised so
17 it was not possible that it said "Commander." So what
18 did it say?
19 A. Well, it only could have said "Soldier" or
20 perhaps nothing. I don't know.
21 Q. What about the other members of the reserve
22 force; did they have such IDs too?
23 A. Well, everyone should have, but whether
24 everyone did so -- well, at that time, I'm not going to
25 say that paperwork was a travesty, but hardly any of it
1 was done.
2 Q. Tell me, was it indispensable for you to have
3 such an ID? What did you use it for? What did you
4 actually prove with it? Could you have done without
5 that ID?
6 A. Of course I could have done without that ID.
7 It didn't prove a thing.
8 Q. You also said that you believed that it was
9 issued to you sometime in the summer of 1992; is that
11 A. Well, approximately a few months before the
12 first conflict. It was July or August. I don't know.
13 Q. At that time, in July or August, when you say
14 that it was issued to you, was there some kind of a
15 military unit in Vitez?
16 A. I don't know whether there was an organised
17 military unit, but I know that some had volunteered to
18 go to Vlasic, to the front line against the Serbs.
19 There were groups, I don't know, of about 20 or 30
20 people, I don't really know -- or I don't know who led
21 them either. So I don't know that they were
22 particularly organised at the time.
23 Q. Which is the first military unit that was
24 established in the territory of Vitez that you found
25 out about, and when was this?
1 A. There was some kind of a Vitez battalion.
2 Q. When?
3 A. This is the period of 1992 when this
4 battalion joined the Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade, that is
5 to say, Travnik and Vitez joined forces. I don't know
6 when this was exactly. And sometime in 1993, again
7 there was a brigade both in Vitez and in Travnik, Novi
8 Travnik, and then the Vitez Brigade was established.
9 Q. In connection with (redacted), you said that
10 you gave your military ID, that you put your name on
11 the door in order to protect her, that you spent the
12 night at her place, and that that was the only way that
13 you believed you could help her at the time and that is
14 why you did that.
15 A. Perhaps there were other ways of doing it,
16 but I was not aware of any and she was not either. She
17 did not propose anything either. I would have acted
18 according to her proposal too, but we didn't know what
19 else could have been done.
20 Q. At the time, in your opinion, and on the
21 basis of what you saw was happening, that is to say,
22 after these events in Ahmici and the knowledge that you
23 had concerning events in Vitez those days, was it
24 dangerous to help Muslims and why?
25 A. Well, it was dangerous. (redacted) herself told
1 me, when I went to see her, that Croats who were
2 helping Muslims in such a way had problems. She always
3 told me about these people, about these unknown men in
4 uniforms and black uniforms, the police, et cetera, and
5 I said yesterday that, for example, if I were inside
6 with my wife and children and if some men like that
7 would barge in, how could they tell who was a Croat and
8 who was a Muslim? I cannot say that there would be
9 killing, but I don't know what they would be doing.
10 They would perhaps be mistreating us. I don't know
11 what they'd do.
12 Q. Were you afraid at the time too? Did you
13 think that it was dangerous?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Who were you afraid of?
16 A. These same men that (redacted) had described, and
17 in addition to that, I saw people similar to that on
18 the 16th and the 18th. Ivica Kupreskic said that these
19 were the Jokeri. I don't know. I had associated them
20 with that down there, although I had not seen it. I
21 was afraid of them.
22 Q. Tell me something else. You said that you
23 came to the end of the review and you saw parts of the
24 review in the summer of 1993 in Vitez and yesterday we
25 also saw footage of a review from December 1992.
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Tell me, were there any differences between
3 that which we saw yesterday and what you saw in August
4 1992 at the stadium in Vitez? Are there any
5 differences between these two reviews?
6 A. There were some differences. On this
7 footage, I saw men in uniform, and most of them had
8 weapons too, but in Vitez, this was not the case.
9 There were quite a few without weapons and without
10 uniforms. And I said that there were some men in blue
11 uniforms, that was the Civil Defence; and then in white
12 uniform, these were nurses. I did not see any of that
13 yesterday in the footage we saw.
14 Q. Several witnesses quoted by the Prosecutor
15 yesterday referred to you using some military
16 terminology, such as "commander," they would say a
17 "local commander," "commander at Grabovi." Will you
18 please look at these photographs, these aerial
19 photographs? Will you please make small circles around
20 the places which belonged to Grabovi? So will you
21 please indicate the area of Grabovi?
22 A. You mean all the population, both Muslim and
24 Q. Yes.
25 THE REGISTRAR: D28/1.
1 MS. SLOKOVIC-GLUMAC:
2 Q. So will you please tell us which area was
3 usually referred to as Grabovi?
4 A. (Marks). This.
5 Q. So this then encompasses Kupreskics' houses,
6 that area, and the Muslim houses around them.
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. In that area of Grabovi, how many of the
9 houses were Croat?
10 A. There were four Kupreskic houses and two more
11 but where the Kupreskic owners did not live in them,
12 and there were two Vidovic houses, so six Croat houses.
13 Q. So two Vidovic houses which -- below that
14 lower part.
15 A. No, no, no. I'm sorry. There was also a
16 third Vidovic, Milka Vidovic's house, so three Vidovic
17 houses and four Kupreskic houses.
18 Q. And when somebody would say Grabovi, he would
19 be confining himself to that area?
20 A. Well, yes. In our local parlance, Grabovi
21 would mean that.
22 Q. How many Muslims and how many Croats were
23 there in Grabovi?
24 A. I wouldn't know the exact number of Muslims
25 in Grabovi alone, but I should say it was three- or
1 four-to-one. That would be the ratio roughly. I
2 wouldn't know more exactly.
3 Q. How many Croats were there of military age,
4 so men who could be what you call reservists or perhaps
5 soldiers? In Grabovi, I mean.
6 A. Five. Five men.
7 Q. Could you please list them?
8 A. Myself, my brother, Ivica, Ivica Kupreskic,
9 Dragan Vidovic, Mirko Vidovic.
10 Q. And other Kupreskics were not there; is that
12 A. It is, yes.
13 Q. Right. So Abdulah Ahmic calls you a
14 commander in the area called Grabovi, and all you have
15 is five men.
16 A. I was never a commander. I was a man who
17 assigned guards sometime between the first conflict at
18 the end of January, and then I returned and was just a
19 play soldier and Dragan assigned guards after that.
20 But nobody ever addressed me as a commander, neither of
21 those soldiers or Muslims.
22 Q. But did you ever issue some verbal or written
23 orders at any time before the 18th of April, '93?
24 A. No.
25 Q. You said that on the 20th of October, '92,
1 almost all Muslims left the village. What did you mean
2 by that? Does it refer to Muslims in Upper Ahmici,
3 Zume Muslims, or Muslims from some other part of
5 A. I should say that I did not say almost all.
6 The village of Gornji Ahmici, Upper Ahmici, or Pirici,
7 nobody left on the 20th of October. They all stayed
8 home. People who lived nearer to the gunfire left,
9 that is, Muslims around the school and the mosques and
10 those Muslims who lived closer to my place, and we, the
11 Kupreskics, left too.
12 Q. In relation to the agreement, D27/1, which
13 the Prosecutor showed you yesterday, that was the
14 agreement which features your signature, you recognise
15 also the signatures of other participants to that
16 agreement. Would you know if there is another Fahrudin
17 Ahmic in the village apart from Fahrudin Ahmic who was
18 Mirjan's friend?
19 A. There's another Fahrudin Ahmic who also lives
20 there nearby, near the road, and his name is Fahrudin
22 Q. Are you familiar with Fahrudin Ahmic's
23 signature, I mean, the one who was killed? Have you
24 ever seen his signature?
25 A. I may have, but if I saw such a signature
1 now, I wouldn't be able to say "Yes" or "No." I
2 wouldn't be able to recognise it.
3 Q. So could you really establish whose signature
4 it is?
5 A. I couldn't, no.
6 Q. In relation to the events of the 20th of
7 October, that is what you said in your testimony, but
8 in several places it is directly quoted and mentioned
9 the way in which the roadblock was removed. Do you
10 know how this barricade was lifted, the one that was on
11 the road near the sub-trail on the 20th of October?
12 A. All that I know about the removal of that
13 barricade is that it was a military action of the
14 soldiers who came from Busovaca and peasants, that it
15 was a military defeat of men who were manning the
16 roadblock, the Muslims. There were no negotiations
17 about how to remove it. It was removed by military
19 Q. As for the ceasefire, was that negotiated or
20 did the Muslims simply withdraw?
21 A. The fire stopped around 3.00 or 4.00 on the
22 20th, that is, when the gunfire stopped, and not a
23 single bullet could be heard after that, and some
24 negotiations began a day or two later. I said already
25 one thing about that, not about the ceasefire, that is,
1 but how to bring the tension down, and the gunfire had
2 already stopped before that.
3 Q. In relation to the testimony of Witness Y
4 which was referred to by the Prosecution and he said
5 that you allegedly asked, as a local commander, that
6 you asked the Muslims to discontinue their guard duty.
7 As a local commander of Grabovi, were you vested with
8 any kind of authority that the Muslims should and would
10 A. They did not have to respect whatever I said
11 or did, but they could, of course, because we were
12 friends, we knew one another, and I did say yesterday
13 what were my words at that meeting, and I was not
14 asking or requesting the Muslims not to go on guard
15 duty. I mean, who was I, what was I to tell them not
16 to do that? I was talking, Let us not be on the road.
17 I mean, why not go on as we did before?
18 Q. But were you in a position to order Muslim
19 guards anything?
20 A. I couldn't order anything, my guards
21 anything, let alone Muslim guards. All I could do was
22 kindly ask any of my guards to go out and stand guard.
23 If he refused to -- well, I could go on trying to
24 prevail upon him to go, to agree to it, but apart from
25 that, I could do nothing, absolutely nothing.
1 MS. SLOKOVIC-GLUMAC: Mr. President, I
2 believe this would be a good time to take a break,
3 because in the second part, I will want to show some
4 documents to the witness.
5 JUDGE CASSESE: All right.
6 --- Recess taken at 10.33 a.m.
7 --- On resuming at 11.01 a.m.
8 MS. SLOKOVIC-GLUMAC:
9 Q. Mr. Kupreskic, still in relation to
10 cross-examination by the Prosecution, only a couple of
11 things more. Tell us, in your answers to introductory
12 questions of the Prosecution, namely, whether all the
13 Muslim houses in the village were burnt down, you did
14 not mention that there were also some Croat houses
15 demolished. Why didn't you mention those houses, and
16 do you know that some Croat houses were also burnt down
17 that day?
18 A. I did not mention it because it seems to me
19 insignificant. There were Muslims and Croats
20 victimised that day, but Croat houses were also
21 damaged. All the Croat houses were damaged, window
22 panes, roofs, and so on. Dragan Vidovic's, Mirko
23 Vidovic's, and many other houses were damaged. All the
24 houses near the scene of the fighting were damaged, but
25 it was really minor. There were also two houses in
1 Pirici, Gavro Vidovic's old house and his sister's
2 summer cottage in Gornji Pirici, Upper Pirici. In
3 Zume, there were also a couple of houses that were
4 damaged by shells. But I repeat, it was such minor
5 damage or, rather, it simply does not lend itself to
6 comparison with what happened to Muslim houses, so I
7 simply thought that what -- I don't know.
8 Q. Didn't you say that there were two houses
9 which were intact near the Kupreskics houses?
10 A. I did.
11 Q. Were there some houses intact along the road
12 going through Zume?
13 A. Those houses which were intact in Pirici, I
14 don't know whether three or four houses, but Ramo
15 Bilic's, Zijad Bilic's, and their brothers, I believe
16 his name is Asim or something like that, he lives in
17 Vienna but he built a house up there, and the Strmonja
18 sons lived in those houses. All these houses are
19 intact. I know that two or three Muslim houses intact
20 are near my sister's house in Santici belonging to
21 Serif Ahmic and his son, Ljilja, or something like
22 that. Their houses are also in one piece.
23 Q. These Bilic's houses, where are they exactly?
24 A. They are in Pudzine Kuce. As we go from our
25 houses to the Pudzine houses or towards the Vrebac's
1 shelter, we must go by those houses. They are on our
2 way there.
3 Q. How many times did you walk past those houses
4 on the 16th, 17th, or 18th?
5 A. I went by some ten times altogether, going
6 there, coming back.
7 Q. Their inhabitants were Ramo Bilic and his
8 family and the Strmonja families. They were in Anto
9 Vidovic's shelter; is that so?
10 A. It is, yes. It is some 40 metres or so. It
11 is across the road where Niko Vidovic's shelter was.
12 Q. Do you know who roused those people, who woke
13 them up that morning?
14 A. I do not know who woke them up in the
15 morning, whether Niko Sakic or Jevco. I don't know.
16 Q. Do you know if Niko was the one who prevailed
17 upon them to go to the shelter?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. You also said that after the first conflict
20 on the 20th of October, 1992, there were several
21 reports about Mujahedin attacks from Barin Gaj. Were
22 you in touch with people in Ahmici, with Muslims in
23 Ahmici in relation to those reports and used in your
24 family's transfer to Zume?
25 A. I can remember one occasion when we moved out
1 our families in the evening, around 9.00, I don't know,
2 to Zume, to that Vrebac shelter. It could have been
3 earlier. Then we came back to near the stable or
4 behind my uncle's house where we usually spent our time
5 on such occasions and that Fuad Berbic had called by
6 telephone my uncle's house where my aunt was. She
7 never went anywhere, she was always there in Ivica
8 Kupreskic's house, and she called me to tell me that
9 Fuad had been asking for me. Judging by his questions,
10 somebody must have let him know that the Kupreskics and
11 their families should go to Zume, and Fuad was calling
12 to ask me what it was all about, Fuad asking me. I
13 said that we'd heard that there were Mujahedin and that
14 we should go with the children, and he was telling me,
15 "Oh, come on, Zoran. There's nobody there. Wait.
16 I'll let you know if anything." And I said, "Fuad, I
17 do believe you and I don't, but what's to it? I can go
18 to Zume and come back." Indeed, an hour or two later,
19 he called again to say that he'd made a round and there
20 was nothing there, and, indeed, nothing was there.
21 That is what I remember. It was after the
22 20th of October. It could have been some 20 days
23 later, perhaps a month after that. I don't really
25 Q. On such occasions when you went to take your
1 family to Zume, which road would you take?
2 A. We always took the shortest possible route
3 from our house, by my uncle's house to Niko Sakic's,
4 because that is the shortest route.
5 Q. Why didn't you use that route through Ahmici
6 towards the road and then following the road to the
7 other side, to Zume?
8 A. Because that is too far, because that is
9 simply too long. From the Muslim side, there would be
10 reports of an attack, and then we simply wouldn't dare
11 take it, but we used to take the shortest route.
12 Q. Was this one of the reasons why you did not
13 use the car?
14 A. Ivica and Dragan Vidovic had cars. He would
15 need two or three minutes to Niko Sakic's house, if he
16 was using the road, and if you wanted to use the car,
17 then you had to go back to the main road. It would
18 almost take more time to go there using the road. So I
19 didn't use it and they didn't use it either.
20 Q. Let's say in the situation when your children
21 were to be transported, your parents, you had three
22 small children, some personal effects, wouldn't it have
23 been more convenient if you used the car?
24 A. As I said, it would have been more
25 convenient, but we didn't do it. We would have to go
1 through part of the village where the Muslims were, and
2 if there were Mujahedins there to join them, if there
3 were any foreigners there, we didn't know whether there
4 were any soldiers there so -- for instance, in Barin
5 Gaj, like on the 19th and 20th, when Ivica saw it
6 there, that was our first experience of this kind.
7 Bullets were raining, not at my brother and my own, but
8 this is how we felt. Based on this experience, I did
9 not dare stay at home in the same way as I did on the
10 20th. So based on that experience, I would use the
11 shortest way, rather than go around through the Muslim
12 populated area.
13 MS. SLOKOVIC-GLUMAC: I'm not sure whether we
14 should go into private session at this point. I need
15 to mention a name
16 (Private session)
13 page 11542 redacted – private session
13 page 11543 redacted – private session
13 page 11544 redacted – private session
13 page 11545 redacted – private session
13 page 11546 redacted – private session
13 page 11547 redacted – private session
13 (Open session)
14 MS. SLOKOVIC-GLUMAC:
15 Q. Mr. Kupreskic, let me ask you in conclusion:
16 You've been sitting here for already a year now. You
17 have been listening to the course of this trial, you've
18 been listening to witness statements, and some of them
19 have indeed levelled terrible accusations against you.
20 Tell me, what do you think about this? What is your
21 experience of this? From an emotional point of view,
22 how have you been following this trial and how do you
23 explain all of this to yourself?
24 A. Through superhuman effort and strength, I try
25 to remain calmed, composed, but not wishing at any
1 point in time to underestimate the victims of Ahmici
2 because indeed the Muslim people had suffered there.
3 I was not there. There is not a single move
4 that I made that I reproach myself for, at least I
5 cannot see anything of that kind, and I do not want to
6 underestimate in any way the suffering of those poor
7 people there, my neighbours.
8 However, this war has fundamentally changed
9 my life. My mother has -- myself, my brother, and our
10 sister -- she lost her husband, our father, she lost
11 her brother, she lost 15 close relatives, and now she
12 lives on her own in Ahmici on a pension of 100 marks.
13 I'm practically a refugee. I have been a
14 refugee until I received an apartment from my company.
15 My wife had terrible problems. A year ago,
16 she underwent surgery. Psychological reasons led to
17 this surgery, and she can have no more children.
18 Two of my children got ill. They suffer from
19 bronchitis, a disease which is very difficult to cure,
20 and my wife pays 200 to 300 marks per month for
21 medicines, and she is thanking God for the fact that
22 our children have started recovering from this illness;
23 otherwise, it takes a long time for it to be treated.
24 Our eldest son has just completed the seventh grade.
25 He's an adolescent. At that age, children wish to have
1 a great many things, and it is very difficult for her
2 to raise him the way I had been raised.
3 I was raised in a patriarchal Christian
4 family. I got a Christian upbringing: Think no evil,
5 let alone do an evil. For 15 years, I've been
6 doing yoga, which teaches one not to harm animals or
7 plants, let alone human beings. For 20 years, I have
8 been friends with people of different professions,
9 different backgrounds, different ethnic backgrounds,
10 religious backgrounds. I never had any conflict with
11 any man except a conflict of opinions.
12 I started talking about my eldest son. Our
13 eldest son has started making trouble. He started
14 lying and doing this and that, and it is hard on my
15 wife. She cannot cope with him on her own and I cannot
16 help her.
17 When some witnesses were here and when they
18 were pointing their fingers, my heart wanted to jump
19 out of my body. However, I am prepared to do anything
20 to prove that I am innocent. And I am available to the
21 Honourable Court at any point in time, at any moment, I
22 am ready to answer their questions whenever. That is
23 what I wish to say.
24 MS. SLOKOVIC-GLUMAC: Very well. Thank you,
25 Mr. Kupreskic.
1 We have concluded, Mr. President.
2 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you. Mr. Kupreskic, I
3 have a few questions, but I would like to go into
4 private session.
5 (Private session)
13 page 11552 redacted – private session
13 page 11553 redacted – private session
7 (Open session)
8 THE INTERPRETER: Your microphone is still
9 on, Your Honour.
10 JUDGE CASSESE: Counsel Slokovic-Glumac, are
11 you going to call another witness?
12 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone.
13 MS. SLOKOVIC-GLUMAC: Mr. Mirjan Kupreskic,
14 could you please take the stand?
15 JUDGE CASSESE: Would you please make the
16 solemn declaration?
17 THE ACCUSED MIRJAN KUPRESKIC: I solemnly
18 declare that I will speak the truth, the whole truth,
19 and nothing but the truth.
20 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you.
21 Counsel Slokovic-Glumac?
22 MS. SLOKOVIC-GLUMAC: Thank you,
23 Mr. President.
24 WITNESS: MIRJAN KUPRESKIC
25 Examined by Ms. Slokovic-Glumac:
1 Q. Mr. Kupreskic, could you please introduce
2 yourself to the Court, and would you tell us where and
3 when you were born, what your address is?
4 A. First of all, I have to apologise because I
5 have a bit of stage fright. My name is Mirjan
6 Kupreskic. I was born on the 21st of October, 1963 in
7 the town of Vitez.
8 Q. What is your address? What is your residence
9 in Vitez?
10 A. You mean at the time when I was born? I
11 lived in Pirici.
12 Q. I'm asking now, about the last address you
14 A. Now it is Petra Svacica. I don't know
15 exactly the number of the house.
16 Q. You were born in Pirici; is that right?
17 A. I was born in Vitez and I lived in Pirici.
18 Q. You went to elementary school in Pirici or,
19 rather, Ahmici?
20 A. It was in Ahmici, four years of elementary
21 school in Ahmici, and then I went to the elementary
22 school in Stanica, up to the eighth grade.
23 Q. Did you complete secondary school and where?
24 A. In 1978, I completed the eighth grade, and I
25 got a scholarship from the company Slobodan Princip
1 Seljo in Vitez where our father was employed. I got
2 this as an exemplary student and probably thanks to my
3 father and his work. I had received a scholarship from
4 this company, and I went to work Trstenik to be trained
5 as a technician.
6 Q. Where is Trstenik? How far away is it from
8 A. Trstenik is about 400 kilometres away from
9 Vitez. It is in the Republic of Serbia.
10 Q. You spent four years there, and after that,
11 what did you do after that?
12 A. In 1982, in the summer of 1982, I completed
13 my education and I went back to Vitez. Two months
14 later, I immediately got a job in the Slobodan Princip
15 Seljo factory, since I had had their scholarship, and I
16 was supposed to have a job of this kind; however, I got
17 a job as a mechanical technician rather.
18 Q. How long did you work in the SPS, until when?
19 A. I worked in the SPS until the beginning of
20 1992 when I went on leave. This was the end of
22 Q. In the meantime, in this period from when you
23 got a job until you went on leave in 1992, what did you
24 do? Were you in the army? Did you do your military
1 A. In 1982 when I got a job and until April
2 1984, I mean, then I went to the JNA, and a year later,
3 I came back, and then I got a job at the same company.
4 Q. Did you get married in the meantime?
5 A. In 1987, I got married to Ljubica. Then, her
6 maiden name was Vrebac, and now her last name is
7 Kupreskic. In 1987, we got a daughter, Marija, on the
8 6th of September, and three years later, on the 6th of
9 September, our son Marko was born.
10 Q. After you went on leave in February 1992,
11 after that period, did you work anywhere?
12 A. After 1992, the financial situation was very
13 precarious, critical. All my revenues boiled down to
14 music, to this orchestra of mine that was there
15 together with me. So financially, I depended on music
16 entirely, nothing else.
17 Q. Did you get a job somewhere officially?
18 A. Sometime in August, I don't know exactly when
19 this was, 1992, my cousin, Ivica Kupreskic, opened a
20 wholesale company, and he asked me whether I would like
21 to take care of this wholesale business. Given this
22 financial crisis that we were undergoing, I
23 wholeheartedly embraced this offer.
24 Q. This was in August 1992?
25 A. Yes, second half of August 1992.
1 Q. Until when did you work in this company?
2 A. I worked there until the 15th of April,
3 1993. During the war, I did not work, and immediately
4 after the war, when I was demobilised, I returned to
5 that job again.
6 Q. This wholesale business that belonged to the
7 Sutra company, where was it?
8 A. This wholesale business where I first started
9 working was in Ahmici. This was a newly built
10 building, and it was owned by Vlatko Kupreskic. That's
11 where I worked perhaps some ten days before the war
12 broke out because Ivica's plan was to open a new big
13 wholesale business in the town of Vitez itself, where
14 the retail store was, and right next to this retail
15 store was a big building where he wanted to open this
16 bigger wholesale business, and I was supposed to take
17 over this facility. I was supposed to take care of all
18 these goods, and it was all supposed to go through me.
19 Q. In other words, some ten days before the
20 conflict, you moved to the Vitez store?
21 A. Yes, I moved from the wholesale to the retail
22 outlet, and expecting that the wholesale business would
23 begin to operate fully, I started to work for this
24 retail outlet because formally, the saleswoman who
25 worked there had some other obligations, and she left
1 the store, so I took over.
2 Q. When did you resume your work for the Sutra
4 A. You mean after the war? I think it was
5 sometime in April 1994 when I requested to be
6 demobilised, and so I was -- rather, as soon as it
7 started working, I was back there.
8 Q. After April 1994, did you ever put the
9 uniform on again?
10 A. After April 1994, no. No, I did not put the
11 uniform on.
12 Q. You said that you were born in Vitez but had
13 been living in Pirici ever since your birth. The first
14 village -- Pirici comes immediately after the --
15 adjoins the Muslim village of Ahmici. So you've lived
16 in the vicinity of Muslims all your life and lived
18 A. I've lived in Pirici in my old parental home
19 ever since I was born. I went for the first four
20 grades of elementary school in Ahmici, and all my
21 neighbours and all my school fellows were Muslims
22 together with me. All the children who were there, we
23 all moved for the senior four elementary grades to
24 Dubravica, so we were all together once again. After
25 the eighth grade of elementary school, I went to
1 Trstenik with Asim Berbic, who was my neighbour, and he
2 spent all four years in Trstenik together with me. We
3 shared a room with two beds. We never separated for a
4 single day during those four years.
5 Let me make it clear. He is Junuz Berbic's
6 son, and Fuad Berbic is his uncle.
7 Q. So Asim Berbic, with whom you spent those
8 four years and shared a room in the hostel, is a
9 Muslim; is that so?
10 A. It is.
11 Q. What was your parent's attitude to Muslims?
12 How were you brought up?
13 A. I can say that my parents had more friends
14 among the Muslims than among the Croats. I could name
15 here the majority of those neighbours who, at a time
16 when I was a young boy, of course, I wasn't there when
17 I went to school, but again after I came back, I saw
18 them, and as far as I saw it, the majority of those
19 neighbours were Muslims, and they were on very good
20 terms with my folk.
21 Q. What Muslims were close friends of your
22 parents? Who are they?
23 A. I can say that about Alaman Ahmic, who moved
24 in at some later late. I do not think that a day would
25 pass without the late father and him playing cards or
1 being together, and Niko Sakic who joined them there.
2 Then Redzib Ahmic and his wife were often in our home,
3 and my parents often went to visit them. Mehmed
4 Hrustanovic, Mejo, Mehmed, I don't know exactly. Zarfa
5 and his wife were also on very close terms with my
6 parents. Then down next to the mosque, Hilmija Ahmic
7 and his wife were also on very good terms with my
8 people, and often we visited one another. Then the
9 hodza of Ahmici, he was also on good terms. Fahrudin
10 Pjanic and his wife Rosa were on exceptionally good
11 terms with my parents. I can't remember if Muhamed
12 Ahmic and Vahida Ahmic, I think she was my
13 mother's bosom friend. They never separated. I could
14 go on and on with this.
15 Q. These people, Redzib Ahmic and Hrustanovic,
16 they are all people from houses next to yours; isn't
17 that so?
18 A. Hrustanovic and Redzib Ahmic lived nearby.
19 Alaman Ahmic has his house closest to our house, and
20 Hilmija Hazim and Muhamed Pjanic, they are a bit
21 further way. They are around the mosque, that cluster
22 of houses around the mosque.
23 Q. What about Sakib Ahmic? He is your parents
24 peer. He was also your neighbour.
25 A. Yes, I could mention Sakib Ahmic like those
1 others, except that there were times when Sakib -- that
2 was his conduct, and I'd heard, I mean he was rather
3 prone to drinking alcohol, so he would keep apart. But
4 there was no major strife.
5 Q. But from time to time, would there be any
6 trouble with Sakib Ahmic, to your knowledge?
7 A. Well, yes, indeed, there were some
8 misunderstandings about the boundary, because my father
9 had it with him, and my brother and I and the younger
10 generations paid no attention to that.
11 Q. How did they socialise? They are people of
12 more or less the same age. What did they do together?
13 A. I already said, Alaman Ahmic, for instance, I
14 said that hardly a day would pass without him playing
15 cards. They mostly played cards together. They also
16 had their own topics, which only they knew. They went
17 on holidays, for instance, on a Croat holiday, then
18 they would come to pay us a visit, and, likewise, if it
19 was a Muslim holiday, then we would, of course, return
20 the visit.
21 Q. The younger generation, what did you do and
22 what terms were you on with Muslims and how did you
24 A. When I was a child, I would often go with my
25 parents to those visits, but then as time went by and
1 we grew up, then, of course, we led a different kind of
2 life or, rather, there was a kind of modernisation. We
3 would not go to each other's houses. We met somewhere
4 around the town, in cafeterias and around there. Some
5 true, real friends, some topics brought us together or
6 simply life brought us together, and it was only then
7 that we went to one another's houses. But it was just
8 life and the kind of work that sometimes took us
9 apart. We had less time for any house calls.
10 Q. When you got married and the rest of them
11 married, were you best men to one another?
12 A. Yes, of course, particularly those of us who
13 were together in this folklore company, and we were
14 together. Yes, of course, we were best men to one
15 another, and, of course, we married between us. I
16 could mention three or four marriages which were the
17 product of that friendship in that folklore company.
18 Q. You mean marriages between Croats and
19 Muslims; is that so?
20 A. Between Croats and Croats, and Croats and
21 Muslims, and Croats and Serbs. They all intermarried,
22 all variations.
23 Q. One group of people, apart from those in the
24 village, was this a group of people from the folklore
25 company with whom you and Zoran frequently met and
1 socialised for awhile?
2 A. Most of the people who were in that company
3 were friends. Yes, of course, we were friends with
4 them, and naturally, there are people who are much
5 closer to you, and then that friendship grows into
6 something higher, into something better. But I was a
7 pal with all of those people who are in that company.
8 With some of them, I was very close friends.
9 Q. Who were those closest friends?
10 A. Fahrudin Ahmic, the late Fahrudin Ahmic. I
11 don't think I should waste any words about that. He
12 was not only a friend from the folklore company, but he
13 was also a man who was in the band with me together,
14 that is, we had various things that we did together,
15 which brought us together. So in the orchestra, in the
16 band beside him, there was Nedzad Barucija who was a
17 singer, another Muslim. I must separate them now into
18 Muslims, Croats, and Serbs. I never did that before,
19 but now I have to do that.
20 Now, as far as Nedzad Barucija is concerned,
21 I need to say that it was thanks to me that he made a
22 cassette, recorded a cassette. Perhaps he would have
23 never recorded it had it not been for me who somehow
24 introduced him to those people who sang and the
25 orchestra. There was also Mustafa Dzidic who danced in
1 the folklore and Amir Sivro. There was also Ibrahim
2 Salkic, another dancer, Veljko Cato, who was my best
3 man, and he's a Serb. Miro Vujinovic, another Serb,
4 and he was also my best man. He was with the
5 orchestra, not with that orchestra that we were in
6 the folklore company but another band that was a
7 semi-professional orchestra.
8 I could go on and on naming various people.
9 These are the ones that just come to my mind right
11 Q. Did any changes happen in your relations
12 after the first conflicts in 1992?
13 A. I can say that after that first conflict,
14 that those -- that it may have brought us even closer
15 together. Because of all those events, we simply did
16 not want anything like that to affect us in any way,
17 and we were all very eager to come even closer together
18 in view of that.
19 Q. What happened with the relations amongst you
20 after the war? Do you keep in touch with your Muslim
22 A. After the war, I received an information, I
23 don't know exactly how I got it, I did not mention a
24 number of people, I did not mention somebody else.
25 Naim Mekic from Kacuni, I just forgot him. Throughout
1 the time our semi-professional orchestra existed he was
2 a singer, semi-professional, and I learned that he was
3 inquiring about me, whether I was alive and what has
4 happened to me. I believe that it was Zdravko Vrebac
5 who told me that he had been inquiring about me.
6 After I learned that, I went to Zdravko and
7 told him, "Well, why don't we go in the car and go to
8 Kacuni?" Because Kacuni was separated. There was this
9 checkpoint in Kacuni at that time, and Zdravko agreed,
10 so we got into the car, I switched it on --- and I
11 don't remember it was three or four months after the
12 war ended --- and I remember we got in the car, and we
13 got a crate of beer with us to take it to Naim's.
14 We got to this checkpoint and Muslim
15 policemen were at that checkpoint there. Most of those
16 people recognised both me and Zdravko, because when we
17 played, I would often go to Naim or Naim would come to
18 me, so those people knew me because we simply
19 socialised with that music. So when I turned up at
20 that checkpoint, these people welcomed me very
21 cordially and asked me, "Are you going so that Naim and
22 you can play once again?" I treated them to that beer
23 which we had with us, and so they said, "We will go and
24 look for Naim. You wait here, we are sure to find him,
25 so don't move anywhere."
1 Some 10 or 15 minutes later, they came back,
2 and they told me that they had found him and to wait
3 and that he would come, and then another 10 or 15
4 minutes later, we met, and it is really very hard to
5 describe that meeting.
6 Q. That was when?
7 A. Well, I did say I'm not quite sure, whether
8 it was March or April 1994, that is, as soon as all
9 that fighting ended.
10 Q. Did you have any contact or were you in touch
11 with other Muslims after the war?
12 A. When I began -- when I resumed my job at the
13 wholesale in Vitez up there, it was a country -- when
14 was that? Was it in 1994, perhaps 1995, when Mustafa
15 Dzidic and I did say that -- he was our close friend in
16 the folklore company. He came to me, he came to the
17 wholesale, to Veleprodaja, and I saw him there.
18 Otherwise, before that, when we were friends, when we
19 were bachelors, and after that, we were trying to dress
20 properly, to look after what we wore and how we would
22 Then on that occasion, when I saw this man,
23 he really looked very wretched. It would be hard for
24 me to describe what he looked like. We talked. It was
25 our first meeting after the war. He told me that he
1 was in very dire straits financially. I knew about his
2 house which I, my brother, and other friends were
3 building together with him. We were there to place the
4 concrete foundation, and I knew that he had a very
5 convenient space in his house, in the lower part of his
6 house. During that conversation, it occurred to us
7 that perhaps he might try and open a shop down there
8 and that I would try with Ivica to take over part of
9 our merchandise because at that time one could open a
10 retail shop for about 2.000 or 3.000 marks and start
11 quite a successful business with that. Perhaps he even
12 came on that occasion to see if we could help him.
13 So, anyway, we talked, and then it occurred
14 to me that perhaps I might try to do something. So I
15 got in touch with Ivica and I told him that, and Ivica
16 said, "Well, you know that man well. You're his
17 friend, and I'm not going into that, but if you are
18 backing that, then you will guarantee that, because
19 after all, you are responsible for all that
20 merchandise." I assumed the risk, and I cannot say if
21 the merchandise that I offered to put at his disposal
22 was 2.000 or 3.000 marks. I put it in my vehicle
23 because I had a car, that was the first time I had a
24 car, I never had a car before, and in a trailer, I then
25 took it to Stari Vitez, to the old part of the town
1 where his house was, I took all this merchandise there.
2 After that, he came on a number of occasions,
3 and we agreed that he would pay for that merchandise as
4 he sold it, gradually. So at times, he would bring 100
5 marks or 150, 250, depending on how he operated and how
6 he managed. So he would return 100, 200 marks, and
7 then take again another batch of goods.
8 Until the time when I came here, whether it
9 was 1.000 or perhaps 1.200 marks that he still owed me,
10 I don't know. I never saw him again. But I know that
11 he was still due me that part of the debt for which I
12 am responsible, that is, I have to pay that money
13 back. But let it be.
14 Q. Apart from those people, did you socialise
15 with some other people, with some other Muslims, after
16 the war?
17 A. I can say about Ahmed Delic, he's a
18 younger bloke and he used to dance in the folklore
19 company before the war and after the war and even
20 during the war when we once tried to have a concert for
21 Christmas, but we failed because of all that was
22 happening, and immediately in the wake of the war,
23 Ahmed Delic joined the folklore company again, and we
24 absolutely made no difference -- I mean, it was the
25 same before the war and after the war, even though he
1 is younger than I am and we were not all that close, as
2 with Mustafa Dzidic and some others.
3 Q. You socialised with these people at a time
4 when you realised that the indictment was issued
5 against you?
6 A. Yes. In addition to them, if I may just add
7 regarding the contacts – (redacted)
9 Q. You don't need to mention the name. It is
10 Witness CB.
11 A. Very well. Witness CB. I remember, that was
12 also in 1994 in the summertime, my wife and both my
13 children had left for Split because both of my children
14 have eyesight problems. So she went there to have them
15 examined and get them eyeglasses. I came back home, it
16 was late, between 11.00 and 12.00, and the phone rang.
17 I picked up the phone, and the witness was on the
18 phone. For a couple of minutes, I was stunned. I
19 didn't know how she could have found the phone number.
20 I didn't know where she was. I must say, I sat down in
21 the hallway. I could not stand on my feet. I did not
22 know how she was able to find me and how she summoned
23 strength to do so.
24 We talked. First it was about this friend --
25 she cried more than talked. And during this
1 conversation, we both expressed our desire to see each
2 other and meet, and I don't know how much time had
3 passed, 15, 20 days, I came in my car to Gavrine Kuce,
4 between Zenica and Vitez, and very little traffic went
5 back and forth. She said that she would come to this
6 checkpoint by bus and that I should come in my car to
7 pick her up. I did so and then drove her back to my
8 place, and we stayed there for several hours. I did
9 not know of a single Muslim who had come to Ahmici
10 after the war which took place. She may have been the
11 first ever.
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Do you know whether, at that time, in some
15 media, on the radio or in some papers in Zenica, your
16 name was being mentioned in connection with these
18 A. Yes, at that time, it is true, and it wasn't
19 only my name that was being mentioned but all the
20 Kupreskics and all the neighbours who were Croats, and
21 at that time, she also said that she had heard about it
22 and she obviously did not believe it because she would
23 not have come to visit me and stay in my house. So I
24 was the first person whom she contacted after all this
25 because we were true friends.
1 Q. In the conversation you had with her, did she
2 at any time complain about your not having saved her
3 husband that day?
4 A. At no time did she ever mention it nor did we
5 ever arrive at that issue of my being able to save her
6 husband, and she never asked me any such question,
7 whether I could.
8 Q. Regarding the people whom you mentioned that
9 you socialised with before and after the war, we tried
10 to contact some of them and attempted to have them come
11 over here to testify as witnesses. What is the problem
12 in their not coming here?
13 A. I don't know specifically what the problem
14 may be, but perhaps pressure for these people to say
15 who were the perpetrators and then perhaps pressure not
16 to help us. I did not believe in truth that it would
17 come to this, that I would be tried here, but when I
18 got here and when I realised what was going on, I
19 tried, through you, to contact some of these friends to
20 provide statements about me, and you tried too, and you
21 know what you succeeded in getting. They said what --
22 and you can say what they did when contacted the first,
23 second, or third time.
24 Q. Of the two persons you mentioned, we received
25 character statements, Mustafa Dzidic and Naim Maric --
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. -- do you know why they are not able to come
3 here and testify before this Tribunal what type of
4 person you are? Do you know whether they have
5 problems? Did they say? Do you know of their having
6 problems about coming here?
7 A. I don't have specific knowledge, but when you
8 first talked to Naim Maric, you know that he cried when
9 he spoke, and after that he said that he was prepared
10 to do anything. I don't know whether later on there
11 were threats or something, but he was not prepared to
12 sign the statement.
13 As far as Mustafa Dzidic is concerned, you
14 talked to him, and at first he said that he would
15 testify by video link regarding my character, but then
16 he decided to just sign it; and when it came to signing
17 it, he said that he was afraid.
18 I don't know whether they were threatened,
19 but everything leads me to believe that these people
20 have received some threats. These people know me and
21 my brother, and knowing them as much as I do, given
22 what we have done for them, I think that this is the
23 least that they would have done, give this type of
24 character witness statement.
25 Q. In your statement, you said that in February
1 1992 you were laid off at the SPS where you had worked,
2 that at the time you had no financial means to support
4 A. Yes. Sometime in 1992, I think it was in
5 February, I was temporarily, provisionally laid off, as
6 most people in SPS, and the only way of my getting any
7 financial means was through playing music and dance.
8 Q. So in addition to being part of the folklore
9 group, you also had an orchestra, a band that you
10 played with?
11 A. I have to make a distinction here. We had a
12 folklore group, and that was -- I did it out of
13 enthusiasm. I was also an accompanist with a group.
14 Until 1991, Nail Kacar, who was a professor of music in
15 Zenica, I was an accompanist after he left to go back
16 to teach full time, and myself, Fahrudin Ahmic, and
17 Zdravko Vrebac were the only three steady musicians.
18 There were two additional musicians who would join us
19 if we had larger performances. So Zdravko Vrebac,
20 Fahrudin Ahmic, and I were the only permanent
21 musicians. We also then had a semi-professional group,
22 band, and I partly supported myself with that, and
23 those three, Ivo Jandric, Miro Vujinovic, a Serb, and
24 then Naim Mekic would sometimes join us as additional
1 Q. Did your wife work at that time?
2 A. No, she never worked and even today she is
3 not employed.
4 Q. So the only money you ever received at that
5 time you received through your work as a musician?
6 A. Yes, all the money that I ever received in
7 that period of time, until I started working for the
8 wholesale Sutra, was from music.
9 Q. At that time, you started with the village
10 guards in the village; is that right?
11 A. I don't know if this was in February or
12 March, but these village guards were established. I
13 don't know how this happened. I know that Zoran told
14 me. He asked me whether I wanted to join in, and I
15 said, "Sure. Why not?" But I said that if I had
16 enough time because this was a period when I played,
17 and I played in the evenings, and these guard duties
18 were nightly duties. So whenever I could, I would go
19 and stay on that guard.
20 Q. According to the witness statements, it would
21 seem that only several persons were doing this guard
23 A. You mean in the very beginning? As far as I
24 know, when I first started doing it, I was together
25 with Mirko Vidovic. At first we said, "Why don't you
1 pair off with whomever you feel comfortable, with whom
2 you share some interests?" And so this is what we
3 did. At that time, Ivica was not around, he had gone
4 to Germany. Sometimes Mirko Sakic, Miroslav Pudja,
5 Nikola Samija, Drago Grgic, I think that Miro Vidovic
6 and Miro Samija were also involved. So altogether,
7 about ten persons.
8 Q. Can you tell me, given your involvement in
9 music, did you have problems in keeping up with guard
10 duties every night with those ten men? So if you were
11 only about ten, then you pretty much would have to
12 appear there every night?
13 A. Given the number of persons, everybody would
14 have to take a two-hour shift. Whenever I did not
15 play, of course I was on guard duty, but when I did,
16 that was a priority because that was the only means of
17 support. Sometimes if I would stay up well into the
18 night playing, then obviously I couldn't go out on
19 guard duty the next night.
20 Q. Until when did this guard duty go on in your
22 A. I can only speak about myself. They went off
23 and on until the first conflict, and at that time, we
24 were there at that barn, and then for a month, it was
25 interrupted again. I cannot name every interruption,
1 and I don't know if there were 10, 15 days or a month,
2 I wouldn't come out for several days, but I know that
3 there were a number of interruptions.
4 Q. Can you say whether there was an assignment
5 sheet made for every night of duty?
6 A. As far as I know, there was no assignment
7 sheets. The first time I went out was with Mirko
8 Vidovic because we agreed to pair off together, and the
9 agreement was -- I think it was 10.00 to 12.00, 12.00
10 to 2.00, so if we were out 10.00 to 12.00 first night,
11 then the second night would be 12.00 to 2.00 and then
12 the following night 2.00 to 4.00 and then 4.00 to 6.00
13 and then start all over again. If I did not come out
14 for the guard duty, if it coincided with my playing
15 engagement, then for those two hours, nobody would come
17 Q. What type of weapon did you bring with you to
18 the guard duty?
19 A. At first, during the initial period, it was a
20 rifle which was the property of Mirko Sakic, it was a
21 hunting rifle; and after that, Miroslav Pudja also
22 brought in a -- I think it was an automatic rifle. So
23 those were those two rifles which were used for guard
25 Q. Did you have your own rifle?
1 A. I did not have my own rifle. Only in
2 December when Didaks, who came as refugees from Turbe,
3 moved into Ivica Kupreskic's brother's house, Zarko
4 Didak gave me an old M48 rifle because he had used it
5 previously at the front line against the Serbs.
6 Q. When he gave you that rifle, did he also give
7 you some ammunition?
8 A. He gave me two boxes. There may have been
9 ten rounds apiece per box that went with that rifle.
10 Q. Did you have a uniform?
11 A. I did not have a uniform. Sometimes if it
12 rained or if it was cold, Zoran had received a
13 camouflage blouse or a top, a jacket, and it's
14 water-resistant, he received it from someone, so I
15 would sometimes borrow it from him.
16 Q. Did you receive one from the HVO later; that
17 is to say, after the war broke out, did you get some
18 other equipment or weapons?
19 A. While I was at the front line during the war
20 above Ahmici, in the trenches, I personally did not get
21 a rifle, but in the trenches there were better weapons
22 or such weapons. So they remained in the trenches, and
23 those were the weapons that I used while I was up there
24 in the trenches. Also some uniforms were handed out,
25 jackets, depending on who got what.
1 Q. This guard duty went on until the first
2 conflict, you said?
3 A. Are you referring to the first part?
4 Q. Yes.
5 A. They went on until the first conflict with
6 these brief breaks, as I said, but they were rather
7 loose, so to speak.
8 Q. Did you know how guards were organised on the
9 Muslim side?
10 A. I did not know how they were organised, but I
11 knew that they had guards too, and that before this
12 part of ours, when we started standing guard, that they
13 and part of Zume had already been standing guard.
14 While we were standing guard, we would often be
15 together with them. We would walk along this road
16 towards the school, especially Mirko and I, when we
17 were on guard duty, we would like to stop by at the
18 elementary school where one of their radio transmitters
19 was. And I mentioned Nedzib Ahmic, who was an elderly
20 man and a close friend to my late father and mother, he
21 was a very interesting man, very witty, and sometimes
22 he would be at that school. Mirko and I, when we were
23 on duty, we would like to go down there immediately
24 because then the two hours would go by quickly. He was
25 a very interesting man, very witty.
1 Q. When were there problems in connection with
2 your going to the school?
3 A. On one occasion -- well, I cannot say this
4 was a problem, but we would often go to the school and
5 we were at the school, and as far as I can remember,
6 Sefik Pezer was there most of the time because he was
7 trained probably as to how to use this radio
8 transmitter, and a few other people, I can't remember
9 exactly who was there because they actually asked us to
10 leave because they were supposed to transmit something
11 via radio, and that was a sign to us that we were not
12 supposed to hear what they were supposed to report.
13 After that, we were embarrassed to go to the
14 school, and that's why I didn't stop by there anymore,
15 and I told either Zoran or, I don't know who else, that
16 that is what we were told. After that, we avoided
17 stopping by. We did it rarely.
18 Q. What is this kind of radio transmitter that
19 they had at the school?
20 A. Well, it was about this big (indicating) and
21 it had antennae. I don't know exactly whether this was
22 an RUP; it was olive grey-green. Yes, that was the
23 colour, yes.
24 Q. What about your guard patrols? Did they have
25 any radio transmitters?
1 A. None whatsoever. I am not aware of any such
2 thing in the part where I was.
3 Q. You say that was not a problem, but let's say
4 that this was a lesser incident, when you were asked to
5 leave the school. After that, did Croat guards stop by
6 that school or did you stop with this entirely?
7 A. I think that no one stopped by at the school,
8 no one entered the school, but we still walked along
9 that road. We would again see each other, spend time
10 together. I personally, when I was with Mirko, after
11 that time I did not enter the school. Whether somebody
12 else had entered it after I did, that I don't know.
13 Q. Did you have any other obligations in
14 addition to going out for guard duty? Were you engaged
15 elsewhere at the time?
16 A. What are you referring to?
17 Q. Well, for example, Civil Defence.
18 A. Well, no. As far as the military part is
19 concerned, guard duty or whatever, no, I was not
20 engaged anywhere else except for this guard duty, which
21 I accepted.
22 Q. In relation to the events of the 20th of
23 October, 1992, can you briefly tell the Trial Chamber
24 whether you had any knowledge that this conflict would
25 break out? Did you notice anything on the 19th of
1 October, 1992?
2 A. On the 19th of October, it was a normal day
3 to me, like any other day. I worked at the wholesale
4 outlet. I met all these people; people would come in
5 to buy goods. After I finished work on that day, I
6 remember that, with Zoran and Dragan Vidovic, I went to
7 help him to bring in some wooden boards. I know that
8 on our way back, we came across this checkpoint that
9 was at the entrance to the village. It had been placed
10 there earlier on, and I remember when I went out for
11 folklore rehearsals or when I went out to play music,
12 it was not directly on the road. People stood by the
13 road. It was quite normal. We would say hello. They
14 did not stop me. And I saw that evening too.
15 However, on our way back, there was this
16 wooden device in the middle of the road, and we simply
17 said hello. Nothing happened. They removed this
18 wooden device. I saw a few neighbours from the
19 village. There were a few people who were not from the
20 village, who were unknown to me. There were different
21 uniforms; some people had uniforms, others did not.
22 Some had rifles, others did not.
23 Q. The checkpoint that you're talking about is
24 the checkpoint that was on the road to Ahmici; right?
25 A. Yes, the road that leads from the main road
1 to the road to Ahmici, some 20, 30 metres along that
2 road. There was a garage there, a shed of the late
3 Sakib Ahmic, the one from the road, and then near that
4 shed, there were some elements that were placed, and
5 also there, there was a cover, a nylon cover if it
6 would rain. So people moved there anyway. But that
7 evening, this wooden device, so to speak, was put in
8 the middle of the road.
9 Q. This checkpoint was held by the Muslims; is
10 that correct?
11 A. In twilight on the 19th, these men I saw were
12 Muslims, the ones I knew; and the ones I did not know,
13 I can only assume who they were.
14 Q. But you said that, a few days earlier, this
15 barricade on the road was present, wasn't it?
16 A. Yes. But it was not placed on the road, it
17 was next to the road.
18 Q. The men from the village, the Croats, the
19 people from the village, were they bothered by the fact
20 that somebody was checking up on them and that a
21 checkpoint or a roadblock was being put on the part of
22 the road that leads to their village?
23 A. Well, personally, it didn't bother me because
24 it ensured my safety too, that somebody would be
25 checking on who was coming in, because I lived there
1 too, after all, and there was quite a bit of crime at
2 the time. So they are taking care of me too, they are
3 guarding me too, if you look at it that way. Whether
4 it bothered someone else, that, I don't know.
5 Q. The other roadblock that was by the Catholic
6 cemetery, did you find out about it on that day?
7 A. On the 19th, I did not know anything about
9 Q. That night between the 19th and the 20th, did
10 you go out on guard duty?
11 A. I did not. As far as I can remember, that
12 night, I went out to play some music, and in the
13 morning, I opened the shop and I worked down there. I
14 hadn't slept much. I helped Zoran with the wooden
15 boards, and I could not go out for guard duty that
16 evening. It turned out that during the night, they
17 called me, and again, I spent part of the night until
18 the morning out there although I had so little sleep.
19 So that's the 20th.
20 Q. Who called you?
21 A. Zoran telephoned me, and he said that he was
22 at Ivica's and that I should come to Ivica's too. I
23 don't know exactly what time it was, day had not broken
24 yet, and I found Zoran at Ivica's, and Ivica told me
25 what he had seen, and he already conveyed that to
1 Zoran, that he had seen a group, 20 or 30 men, who had
2 passed from the upper part of Ahmici by this warehouse,
3 the wholesale, and that he saw them get into the
4 school. When I was there, you could already see in the
5 direction of the school -- Ivica's terrace is pretty
6 high up and you can see the school quite well -- and in
7 part of the classroom, there was a light that was on,
8 so you could see the silhouettes of persons. He said
9 that he saw two men below Zoran's window, which worried
10 us the most at that point. Partly it was worrisome
11 because of the time when they came. They used to come
12 earlier too and they would go from the school to the
13 front, to Visoko, I don't know exactly where they went
14 to, and this was either during the day or twilight, but
15 this, this was during the night.
16 Q. You saw them during the night and you heard
17 them pass through your village. Did you wake up your
19 A. I did not see them. Ivica told me that he
20 had seen them, and I saw in the school what I described
21 to you.
22 Q. Well, that's what I was referring to.
23 A. But I did not wake up my family at the time.
24 They were asleep at home, but we decided to stay awake,
25 Ivica, Zoran, and I, to see what all this was about,
1 and that's how we were up until daybreak.
2 Q. What happened at daybreak?
3 A. At daybreak, I remember well that we were
4 sitting on Ivica's terrace, and there was always a
5 table with plastic chairs on Ivica's terrace, and
6 that's where we sat. This was the usual time for the
7 morning prayer from the mosque, and when I went to work
8 to the SPS, that was the time when I would leave, and
9 that is when this morning prayer could be heard.
10 That morning, it was different in relation to
11 every other morning. There was a kind of -- well, it
12 was like the gurgling of a brook. It's hard for me to
13 describe, but I could notice that it sounded different
14 from what it sounded like all the other mornings.
15 Also, you could hear something being said. I could not
16 understand what was being said, but something was being
18 Just when these words stopped, there was a
19 strong detonation. I remember how we jumped up from
20 the detonation. On Ivica's terrace, there was some
21 kind of a rug, and since this was a concrete terrace,
22 that's why they kept the rug, and then as I jumped up,
23 I remember that I slipped on the rug and I fell, and
24 then we ran into the house. Then there was a complete
25 lull in what we had heard. I can't tell you whether
1 this was 15 or 20 minutes or up to half an hour.
2 I remember that my late father came, because
3 he was probably awakened by this detonation, and he
4 came there to see us, and after a certain period of
5 time, the late Enver Sehic came, who was our next-door
6 neighbour, he lived right next door to my house, that
7 is to say, just above my house, and 7 or 10 days before
8 that, Zoran and I went to help Enver to bring in
9 firewood. So on that morning, he was supposed to help
10 me, or perhaps it was the other way around - I can't
11 remember exactly whether we had already taken care of
12 my firewood and we were supposed to take care of his
13 now - and he came to see whether we would be going to
14 get this firewood or not, because of this detonation
15 that had taken place, so we stayed there together.
16 An hour or an hour and a half later, after
17 this detonation, this strong small arms fire began
18 which was right above our houses.
19 Q. How could you assess the direction from which
20 the shooting came? Did you hear shooting or what?
21 A. We heard shooting, and it was coming from
22 down below, that is to say, from the road, from the
23 cemetery, from that part, and the bullets, we could
24 have estimated that they were flying above our heads,
25 but I don't know exactly how far away. I cannot judge
1 the distance.
2 Q. Could you see Croat or Muslim soldiers?
3 A. I could not at that point. At that point,
4 when the shooting started, I ran to my house and I told
5 my wife to get the children ready so that we would
6 flee, and at that point, I didn't even know where we
7 would flee.
8 I returned from my home once again, and then
9 I saw Zdravko Vrebac. He was running up to me, and he
10 addressed me as "Kum" because he was the godfather of
11 my small son Marko, and he came to help me. He did not
12 know what was going on. We went to my house. He took
13 Marko or Marija, I can't remember who my kum picked up,
14 but I was carrying one of my children and he was
15 carrying the other one; and under this host of bullets
16 that were flying above our heads, we literally ran into
17 my uncle's house, and we hid there for about five or
18 ten minutes, until there was a lull in the shooting.
19 Q. Your uncle's house, that is the house of Ivo
20 Kupreskic; is that correct?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. You spent some time there until there was a
23 lull in the shooting, and then where did you go after
25 A. I forgot to mention something else. That
1 Dragance, as we called him, Dragan Vidovic, helped him,
2 and Milutin Vrebac. They were together with Zdravko
3 Vrebac, when he came, so they helped Zoran so that he
4 could take care of his children. So we were all there
5 together in my uncle's house until there was a lull in
6 the shooting. When there was a lull in the shooting,
7 then we managed to get to the depression that we passed
8 through, and I took my children and my wife also came
9 with us to Zdravko's house -- to Zdravko Vrebac's
10 sister's house, rather, where there was a shelter that
11 they used before that, and then Zdravko, since he had
12 come to see me, then we went there together.
13 Q. Very well. We know what happened on that
14 day. Tell me, what did you see out of all these things
15 that were taking place? Did you see civilians,
16 soldiers? Did you see who was attacking who?
17 A. Who was attacking who? That, we could not
18 see. During the course of the day, we could see from
19 the lower part that -- from Zume, part of the Muslims
20 were running towards Gornji Ahmici, the upper part, and
21 they were bringing some of their cattle along, and
22 there were women. We were at Niko Sakic's, near the
23 depression, in my uncle's house, and if we were at Niko
24 Sakic's, then we could see the lower part. Or if we
25 would go close to the shed, through this part of the
1 forest, you could see part of the warehouse and the
2 road that went up. So we could see that.
3 Q. So you did go up to this shed; is that right?
4 A. We were in that part between the shed and the
5 depression and Niko Sakic's house.
6 Q. In addition to the civilians who were
7 fleeing, did you see any military men?
8 A. I did not see any military men.
9 Q. You and your neighbours, your neighbours who
10 were there with you, did you use weapons in any way on
11 that day?
12 A. Absolutely no one used any weapons, and in
13 that group of these people who were there with us,
14 perhaps there were two or three rifles, I don't know,
15 we had used some of them on guard duty, and whether
16 there were some other rifle, that, I don't know, but
17 absolutely no one used a weapon.
18 Q. Was there any combat activity in your part of
19 the village?
20 A. No.
21 Q. And in Zume?
22 A. I'm not aware of any.
23 Q. And the people who were in that depression on
24 the 20th, that is to say, you and your neighbours, were
25 you in uniform?
1 A. I cannot recall whether somebody had a
2 camouflage jacket or whether somebody had had a full
3 uniform. It depended on who was on guard duty and
4 depending on who had worn what on that morning.
5 Q. According to you, when did the gunfire stop?
6 When do you think you heard the last bursts that day?
7 A. As far as I could judge, it was in the
8 afternoon hours. Whether it was around 3.00 or 4.00, I
9 wouldn't know, but it was in the afternoon. In the
10 afternoon hours was when the gunfire ended.
11 Q. What did you do after that? Did you go back
13 A. Some five or six days later, when all our
14 neighbours had gone back, my brother and I and our
15 families and our parents also went back because our
16 families were the only ones from the Kupreskics'
17 houses, my wife, my children, Zoran's wife and his
18 three children.
19 Q. How old were your children at the time?
20 A. Marko, my son, was one year old, and Marija
21 was four.
22 Q. Do you know anything about the negotiations
23 conducted on the return of Muslims?
24 A. I know that Zoran attended a meeting at
25 Nenad's home, that then he went with Fuad down. As far
1 as I know, the only reason was the return both of our
2 families home and of our neighbours home, because to
3 spend the night, unless there is someone in your house
4 or around your house, was very difficult under the
5 circumstances. So that the only reason was the return
6 both of us and of our neighbours.
7 Q. What were you afraid of if the houses around
8 you were empty?
9 A. Well, if you live alone in some part
10 somewhere and there was gunfire the night before or
11 during the day, then it's very difficult really to be
12 so brave and spend the night alone in the house with
13 one's wife and small children.
14 Q. So you thought that you could be attacked?
15 A. I don't know what I thought at the time. I
16 was simply afraid.
17 Q. And those other houses, Kupreskic houses,
18 apart from yours and your father's, Zoran's, Ivica's,
19 and Vlatko's houses, they were all empty, were they?
20 A. Ivica's brothers' houses, Branko and Josip's
21 houses, were completely empty because they were both in
22 Germany; that is, Branko had gone to Germany, it must
23 be some 15 years before that, and Josip left, oh,
24 towards the end of '91 or '92, had also gone to
25 Germany, and there was a third brother, Ranko, who did
1 not have a house of his own, he lived over at his
2 uncle's, but he was also in Germany; and their sister,
3 Marija, was also in Germany. So Ivica's family was in
4 Germany and Ivica was the only one who was at home in
5 his house at that period of time because he had come
6 back, and then myself and Zoran with our families and
8 Q. After you returned home, you said it was
9 about five or six days after the conflict. Did any
10 changes take place there in what you did, I mean, night
12 A. I know that at night, but whether it was on
13 the 20th or 21st, I don't remember exactly. We agreed,
14 because of all that gunfire, that we really should
15 begin to take this guard duty seriously. I believe
16 that I was exposed to the harshest criticism because I
17 was often absent from that duty, but it was force
18 majeure at the time. I mean, I had to play music and
19 all that. But we all said that we should take it more
20 seriously, as I know we told Zoran that he should also
21 pay more attention, that is, if anyone failed to
22 appear, then somebody else should turn up instead, you
23 know, to cover for those two or three hours.
24 Q. Was another, a new checkpoint perhaps set up
25 at the entrance into the village?
1 A. When you ask me about those negotiations, I
2 was not present at any of those negotiations nor did I
3 take part. I don't really know whether I -- why I was
4 absent. Had anyone asked me to attend, I probably
5 would have, but I know that nobody ever asked me to
7 However, I do know about a meeting, if one
8 can call it a meeting, which took place on Ivica's
9 terrace because it was right after that meeting,
10 whether the same day or the next day, Ivica came to my
11 place and said that they had agreed that that
12 checkpoint, which I described already which was at the
13 entrance into the village, that they had agreed that
14 now we, together with our Muslim neighbours, should be
15 there, the two of us. I said that -- he said, "I
16 agreed to be the first one to man it," so would I join
17 him? And I said yes. So he and I were the first ones
18 there. There was also a fellow who testified here, I
19 won't mention his name, he was also with me and with
20 Ivica, and as far as I can remember, Sidik Ahmic was
21 there because his house is right next to the road
23 Q. What was the understanding, that both Muslims
24 and Croats should man the checkpoint together, is it --
25 A. Yes, two each.
1 Q. Yes, two Muslims and two Croats. For how
2 long was this checkpoint in operation?
3 A. That was the first time I was there, and
4 after that, I didn't go there again. But as far as I
5 know, perhaps a week later, it stopped functioning,
6 that is, I don't know that anyone manned it after that,
7 neither the ones nor the others.
8 Q. Which means that the checkpoint was removed,
9 doesn't it?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. But the guard duty went on, didn't it?
12 A. During that period of time, the guard duty
13 was as I said it, that we should take -- we decided to
14 take things more seriously, and perhaps we did. But, I
15 don't know, it could have been a week later when I
16 began to work again, I mean, for that wholesale, and I
17 was still again busy with that job, and people began to
18 go back to their regular work because the situation
19 became more stable, if I may put it that way, so that
20 people relaxed somewhat and then discontinued it. At
21 that time, in November, I was very busy at this
22 wholesale place because at that time we were
23 distributing winter preserves which the Sutra company
24 got and was distributing to all the citizens in the
25 Vitez municipality.
1 Q. This distribution of winter food supplies or
2 winter preserves, it was an organised campaign to
3 supply all the population in the Vitez territory at
4 cut-down prices; is that so?
5 A. Well, that was an offer that came from the
6 manager. It was accepted at the municipal level. I
7 didn't know that. I didn't go into that. But I know
8 it was accepted and that I bore the brunt of that
9 distribution of those winter supplies because I was put
10 in charge of that.
11 Q. So you began to do it sometime towards the
12 end of October and you said on the 1st of November,
13 isn't it?
14 A. Yes, in late October, early November. As
15 soon as the wholesale unit went back into operation is
16 when we began doing this.
17 Q. So these winter supplies and preserves were
18 also intended for Muslims, weren't they?
19 A. They were intended for everybody, regardless
20 of their ethnicity and whoever applied for this. It
21 was done by neighbourhood communities who compiled
22 lists or whatever, but whoever applied for those winter
23 supplies got some of them.
24 Q. At that time, did you visit Muslim villages
25 around Vitez?
1 A. Well, we began to distribute those winter
2 supplies at the wholesale unit too, that is, some
3 people came to the premises and would get their share,
4 and sometimes we also took it to parts of villages,
5 whether they were Muslim or Croat. I know, for
6 instance, specifically that Ivica and I went to Sivrino
7 Selo and distributed it at Muharem Sivro's because he
8 was the president of the neighbourhood community or
9 something. Before that, he used to work in the same
10 company with me. We were in his house where we
11 distributed those winter supplies, and he was one of
12 those who received some of that.
13 MS. SLOKOVIC-GLUMAC: Thank you.
14 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you. We will adjourn
15 until tomorrow.
16 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at
17 1.00 p.m., to be reconvened on
18 Wednesday, the 21st day of July, 1999 at
19 9.00 a.m.