1 --- Tuesday, 9th November, 1999
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 9.10 a.m.
5 THE REGISTRAR: [Interpretation] Case number
6 IT-95-16-T, the Prosecutor versus Mirjan Kupreskic,
7 Zoran Kupreskic, Vlatko Kupreskic, Drago Josipovic,
8 Dragan Papic and Vladimir Santic.
9 JUDGE CASSESE: Good morning.
10 MR. TERRIER: Mr. Terrier. Good morning,
11 Your Honours. I wish to start my closing arguments by
12 briefly mentioning the Prosecution witnesses and, more
13 specifically, those who came from Bosnia in order to
14 testify before you. It is through them that we've
15 heard what happened on the 16th of April in Ahmici. It
16 is mainly through their testimony that we've heard
17 about the massacre.
18 Prosecution witnesses, unlike Defence
19 witnesses, have, for most of them before they testified
20 in Court, made written statements. Often they made
21 several recent statements at various times. All of
22 them, and it is quite legitimate, were faced here with
23 their written statements and it sometimes happened that
24 their credibility was challenged. And no matter what
25 the feelings may have been that have been aroused by
1those witnesses in this courtroom and among the judges,
2 I believe that one thing will have been demonstrated,
3 is that these witnesses from Bosnia did not together
4 plot against the truth but, in the contrary, all of
5 them came from Bosnia in order to help justice and to
6 manifest the truth regarding their community, their
7 family, their next of kins, their lives.
8 I shall add, at the beginning of my closing
9 arguments, that I feel that the accused themselves did
10 not help the truth to be established. Some of them,
11 and I have in mind those who testified before you, some
12 of them acknowledge that a very serious matter had been
13 committed in Ahmici on the 16th of April, 1993. They
14 acknowledged that a certain amount of non-combatants
15 were killed, but I do not have the feeling, and reading
16 the written conclusions of the Defence does confirm
17 that, I don't have the feeling that they -- the accused
18 gave up the allegations of a fight, of an armed
19 resistance taking place in Ahmici, as though the
20 resistance opposed by the victim could count to
21 mitigation for the attackers.
22 One thing is certain, at the end of this
23 trial, as was obvious before the trial even began; one
24 thing is obvious: The operation engaged in Ahmici on
25 the 16th of April, 1993, whatever its nature, maybe is
1today not claimed by a single person. And if we think
2 that if there was a fight, it was a doubtful one. If
3 it was a victory through arms, it was a shameful
4 victory. No order was issued to order the operation
5 and there is no account for it anywhere.
6 In my closing arguments I shall first speak
7 to the attack directed by the HVO forces on the 16th of
8 April, '93 against the Muslim civil population of
9 Ahmici. And I think it is important to state the
10 figures, the numbers.
11 And then coming to the legal questions and to
12 the law applied by this Tribunal, I should like to
13 define the characteristics of the attack directed
14 against the Muslim population in Ahmici.
15 I shall then turn to the evidence gathered
16 during the trial against every one of the accused.
17 And finally, I shall present recommendations
18 as to sentencing, appropriate sentencing for each of
19 the accused.
20 In order to attempt to be as close to the
21 truth as possible regarding the attack against the
22 population in Ahmici, I think it is most legitimate to
23 speak of individual tragedies. Of course there are as
24 many tragedies as there are victims. But some of the
25 testimony we've heard here in this courtroom, more than
1others, have made it possible to grasp the horror of
2 what happened in Ahmici on the 16th of April, to flesh
3 it out and to give it its full meaning.
4 In very few words I shall speak of three
5 people who came to testify here. Let us start with
6 Witness D, who testified on the 26th of August, 1998.
7 You will remember this Muslim woman, a mother, devout,
8 no doubt. She lived in Lower Ahmici, close to the main
9 road and to the Catholic cemetery. This witness told
10 us she woke up very early for prayers. Her husband
11 left for the mosque Around 5.20, as was the case for
12 all witnesses. She heard shooting directed at the
13 house. Together with her daughter, her two sons, she
14 tried to seek shelter.
15 A soldier came into the house, forced the
16 son, the oldest son, to leave through the first floor
17 balcony. The son was forced to jump, and as soon as he
18 fell he was shot dead. The younger son was forced to
19 jump as well, but he was able to escape.
20 Then the soldier forced the witness out on
21 the balcony. She saw her son lying dead with blood all
22 over his head. She saw soldiers lower down. The
23 attacker ordered her to jump from the balcony while
24 other soldiers were laughing. And she was able to see
25 her son lying dead on the ground.
1The witness would not jump. She was
2 overwhelmed by horror. And in Court she said this, in
3 order to describe the soldier facing her, "This beast
4 in front of me, senseless, he would do whatever he
5 wanted. He knew no limit." And indeed the attackers
6 on the 16th of April, '93 in Ahmici knew no limit.
7 They could kill a young man, forgive another one. They
8 had full power of death and life over people who were
9 disarmed, over women, children, over families, over a
10 whole community.
11 The testimony of Witness F, who testified
12 here on the 31st of August, 1998, made it possible for
13 us to understand what the fate was of children in the
14 midst of this tragedy. Witness F was then only 15
15 years old. He lived in a house close to the lower
16 mosque, together with his parents, his 8-year-old
17 brother, and his 4-year-old sister.
18 When the house was besieged, the father was
19 not there. The door of the house was broken down by
20 the soldiers. A grenade was thrown inside the house;
21 it rolled towards the mother. She grabbed the grenade
22 in order to try and throw it outside; the grenade
23 exploded. The mother was wounded, whilst the small
24 brother, the little brother, was killed. Another
25 grenade exploded in the house, wounding the witness in
1the legs, but she was still able to seek shelter in a
3 A soldier came into the house, threw another
4 grenade, and, as was told by the witness, he was in a
5 camouflage uniform, had black paint over his face, the
6 HVO insignia, and coloured ribbons at the shoulder.
7 Other grenades were thrown inside the house. The house
8 was in flames.
9 At the request of his mother, the witness
10 dragged the body of the young brother outside the
11 house. The mother was hit in the stomach. The witness
12 sought shelter in a barn close to the house. He
13 dragged the body of the brother there, and he took the
14 little sister there. The mother, crawling on the
15 ground, managed to get there. The witness closed the
16 barn door. Half an hour later, his mother was dead.
17 Throughout the day, throughout the following
18 night, he was going to protect his sister by putting
19 her in a concrete trough. On several occasions he
20 fainted, because he lost a lot of blood. In the night,
21 soldiers tried to break into the barn. They managed to
22 open the door slightly, throw a grenade inside,
23 shooting inside as well. Using a torch, they could see
24 the body of the mother, of the little brother, of the
25 radio. They sent a message to the authorities to say
1that everything had been killed around the mosque.
2 The next day, the witness left the barn in
3 order to seek something to eat and he saw bodies all
4 around him, the corpses of some of his neighbours,
5 among whom Husein Ahmic and the lifeless body of his
6 neighbour, Witness G. He could see Melissa, who is 7,
7 lying next to her dead mother. When he asked her to
8 come along, she said that she didn't want to go because
9 her mother was sleeping, she wanted to stay next to
10 her. Later on, the witness was taken to the Dubravica
11 school, where he was detained until the 1st of May. In
12 the meantime, a Croat soldier stole the money he was
13 able to rescue from the fire from him.
14 The testimony of Witness K was, I think, one
15 of the most moving testimonies we've heard here. You
16 will remember that Witness K lived in Grabovi, a little
17 higher than the Kupreskic houses. She lived in that
18 house, together with her husband, her son, who was ten,
19 and her two daughters, four and six.
20 The family was woken up by shooting directed
21 at the house. Bullets came through the windows. The
22 noise was deafening; they couldn't hear each other
23 speak to one another. The mother tried to protect her
24 children. She was afraid that grenades would be thrown
25 into the room. She begged that her children be
2 She told us that at a point in time, her son
3 wanted to go and have a pee. He insisted; therefore,
4 she let him go towards the sink in the kitchen. From
5 the kitchen, her son said, "I'm wounded," showing his
6 arm. His father then opened the door, the main door,
7 and shouted towards the soldiers, "You wounded my
8 child." Outside, the witness saw a soldier; he was a
9 fair-haired man with a gun. He ordered the husband to
10 leave, to come out. The husband took his child, the
11 son, in his arms, shouting again, "You hurt, you
12 wounded my son," in his bare feet, in his pyjamas.
13 Some two or three metres outside the front
14 door, the father and the son were shot dead together
15 through one burst of automatic rifle. The mother went
16 back in in order to protect her daughters. Around the
17 house, this shooting, running, shouting. The mother
18 went out again; she wanted to see her son again. She
19 looked at him and she told us, "I realised he had been
20 wounded on the right side, not on the left side."
21 However, she knew that he was dead.
22 She dragged him back into the house, kept
23 watching over her children, trying to help her
24 husband. She said, and I shall quote her, "I didn't
25 know what to do. I was absolutely panicked. I would
1pace up and down, go from one window to the other. I
2 couldn't cry. There were no tears. I would drink
3 water. I would pour water over my nape, my head, not
4 to faint; to hold on."
5 Outside, she could see the burning houses,
6 the corpses of her Muslim neighbours, among which the
7 body of a woman who was 74 years old. She sought
8 shelter. She hid her two daughters. In the afternoon,
9 she was able to go to Vrhovine.
10 We all know that testifying before a criminal
11 court is only an imperfect way of accounting for a
12 crime. It doesn't give back the noise, the furor of
13 the attacker, the panic of the victims. Through such
14 testimony, I believe that some of this very basic,
15 substantial truth about the massacre has been given
16 back to us.
17 At the end of that day of the 16th of April,
18 1993, as the final sign of their victory over the
19 civilian victims, over those families surprised in the
20 middle of the night, as the culmination of their
21 criminal intent, as a confession, they blew up the
22 concrete minaret of the lower mosque.
23 Towards Upper Ahmici, their work has been
24 mopped up. Those who didn't want to flee, who couldn't
25 flee, were killed in their houses. Witnesses Q and S
1told this Tribunal that their mother and father, who
2 were 83 and 78 years old, who were unable to flee, were
3 killed, like other people, in Upper Ahmici.
4 If we don't know for sure the number of
5 victims, at least we have some idea. Witness S, who
6 knew all the Ahmici inhabitants very well, having lived
7 there his entire life, drafted a list of those who were
8 killed during the attack.
9 We know, and I think that this is not
10 challenged by the Defence, we know that if there were
11 600 inhabitants in Ahmici before the 16th of April,
12 after that date there was not a single one left. So
13 116 people were accounted as being killed, including 28
14 women and 16 children or adolescents. Of the 116
15 victims, barely half of them were men of fighting age,
16 but it was not established during the trial that any of
17 them were killed with a weapon in his hand.
18 In addition, we were told that at that time
19 in Ahmici, there were a certain number of refugees
20 living, that is, Muslim refugees. Not everybody knew
21 them. We don't know the exact number of them today, as
22 we do not know the number of victims among them who
24 We also know that 24 people were wounded
25 during the attack, about one-third of whom were
1children. And, of course, this does not really count
2 all the victims, because the victims, there are those
3 who lost relatives, lost their homes, their lands, and
4 their property.
5 Everyone who met the survivors of Ahmici in
6 the days or weeks following the attack, while they were
7 being temporarily lodged in some sort of collection
8 centre, described their distress, their anguish, their
9 physical and moral misery, and some of them did receive
10 some psychological support or some psychiatric
11 treatment, but there are many of them who were not able
12 to have a normal life again after that date.
13 Some of those who died in Ahmici were buried
14 in Vitez on the 28th of April, 1993, and the Trial
15 Chamber remembers that the witness, Stephen Hughes, who
16 was a member of the British Battalion, was present at
17 the burial of 96 bodies of Muslims who had been
18 exchanged for three bodies of Croats.
19 The witness Nihad Rebihic, who was
20 responsible for the collective burial, told the
21 Tribunal what happened. It was established that the
22 bodies that were buried on the 28th of April in Vitez
23 came from several locations in the Vitez region. It
24 was not possible to identify all of them, but it seems
25 that 70 to 80 of the bodies that were buried that day
1came from Ahmici. These are bodies of men, women, of
2 all ages. Two bodies only of the bodies that were
3 buried that day were wearing uniforms.
4 The Prosecution has submitted to the Tribunal
5 death certificates for '93. Several families still do
6 not know where their dead are resting. Thus, Witness R
7 and her sister, Witness T, do not know where their
8 mother is buried, their mother who was killed, in front
9 of Vlatko Kupreskic's house.
10 The witness told the Tribunal that the
11 accused Vlatko Kupreskic's brother-in-law had come to
12 suggest that one of them -- come to tell one of them
13 where the place of the burial was, so long as they
14 would not testify in this trial. That individual is
15 referring to the Red Cross, which of course obviously
16 was a way of trying to make the records not clear,
17 because the Red Cross had absolutely nothing to do with
18 the burials of the victims in Ahmici. And under those
19 conditions we know that there are still in Ahmici, in
20 the surroundings of Ahmici, there are common graves
21 which are clandestine.
22 As regards the number of houses involved in
23 the attack, we know that 169 homes were destroyed
24 deliberately in Ahmici and Santici and Pirici, 102
25 homes in Ahmici alone. And we also know that the two
1mosques in Ahmici were deliberately destroyed.
2 Now, in order, to speak about law. I would
3 like to refer to the characteristics of that which
4 allow us to classify it as a crime. I would like to
5 say first that the attack on the 16th of April, 1993 is
6 a well-thought-out action, perfectly organised from a
7 technical point of view.
8 Obviously, it was not a spontaneous event of
9 a unit which had gone out of all control. Much to the
10 contrary, it is a coordinated attack of various units
11 who were placed under the same operational leadership,
12 using, from one end to the other of the village, the
13 same procedures.
14 We know that the attackers deployed at 5.20
15 in the morning, at the time when the call to prayer had
16 been given from the mosque.
17 For some time heavy weapons had been put into
18 positions on the periphery of the village and we also
19 know that the attackers were in positions in several
20 locations in the village, particularly near the
21 Catholic cemetery, in Grabovi, and on the side of the
22 house where Drago Josipovic and Dragan Papic live, and
23 the attack was deployed simultaneously from those three
25 We know that the homes occupied by the Muslim
1families were all attacked by well-armed soldiers
2 wearing camouflage uniforms or in black uniforms, as
3 described by many of the witnesses. We know some of
4 them were wearing hoods or black paint on their faces.
5 Different types of weapons were used. There were
6 anti-aircraft guns, there were rocket launchers, there
7 were sub-machine guns. The significance of these
8 weapons implies orders and war logistics. And the
9 Jokers, acting alone, obviously would not have been
10 able to implement all this by themselves.
11 Everywhere, from one end of the village to
12 the other, the houses are fired on. Grenades are
13 thrown through openings. Families are ordered to get
14 out of their homes. Some of the men were shot on the
15 spot, sometimes children. Others died as they
16 attempted to flee.
17 As soon as the homes were destroyed by
18 incendiary assets, all of the homes and all of the
19 outbuildings and the property of the Muslims,
20 specifically livestock, because some of the attackers
21 also became involved in plunder. The numbers of people
22 that were involved were obviously much greater than
23 those of a squad, because from several homes there were
24 simultaneous attacks carried out by five or six
25 soldiers. There were many of these soldiers and
1therefore they had to have been coordinated. They had
2 radio communication assets, they had colour ribbons on
3 their shoulders. They were prepared. They had
4 objectives which had been assigned to them.
5 They knew which houses had to be destroyed
6 and which houses were not to be destroyed. They knew
7 the names of the heads of the families, sometimes their
8 first names. Several witnesses that this Tribunal
9 heard said that the Croatian soldiers would mention --
10 orders that they had received that they had to obey.
11 And sometimes they heard them congratulating one
12 another because everything has gone according to plan.
13 The point of view of Major Dooley was that
14 the operation was conducted from the beginning to the
15 end in a military fashion by various units which were
16 coordinated amongst themselves and directed by somebody
17 who had control and mastery of tactical issues.
18 In the absence of resistance, it would not
19 take the HVO forces a long time to reach their goals.
20 At around noon, most likely, as Major Dooley said to
21 us, the operation was concluded in Lower Ahmici and in
23 We also know that 150 to 200 people, all of
24 them Muslims, including a large -- a great majority of
25 the women and children and some older people, some of
1whom came from Ahmici and others from other villages in
2 the Lasva Valley, were detained from the 16th of April,
3 or that is after the 16th of April, until the 1st of
4 May, within the Dubravica school. They were detained
5 and guarded by the armed HVO forces. And it was very
6 clear that the detention could not have been
8 Several witnesses also told us that during
9 the detention women were mistreated and assaulted
11 The first characteristic of the attack was
12 that it was very carefully prepared and organised and
13 that it involved significant assets in respect of
14 materiel and men.
15 The second character of that attack is that
16 because there was a military objective, this action was
17 carried out against the civilian population.
18 We do not have any indications of a Muslim
19 military presence in Ahmici on the 16th of April,
20 despite the efforts which the Defence made in order to
21 show that there was.
22 Major Dooley confirmed that in April 1993 the
23 Army of Bosnia was practically absent from the
24 Vitez-Ahmici region. Witness AA, who at the time was a
25 member of the military police under the orders of the
1accused Vladimir Santic, said that he never saw Bosnian
2 army forces in Ahmici. Therefore, there is no defence
3 which was organised on the part of the village. Major
4 Dooley saw no sign of resistance. The victims were all
5 civilians, men and women. And none of those
6 individuals was armed.
7 We also know that the Territorial Defence in
8 Ahmici at that time was not a force of a military
9 nature which would be possible to put up resistance or
10 any opposition.
11 In the beginning of 1993, Territorial Defence
12 in Ahmici, there were about 20 civilians. They might
13 have had some military obligations, but when they were
14 in Ahmici, in their families, their activity was
15 limited to moving around at night in the village in
16 order to ensure that their homes were protected, that
17 their neighbourhoods and families were protected as
18 well. Their organisation was really embryonic. Many
19 of them, overly confident, did not take these guard
20 duties seriously and tried not to go on guard duty; and
21 therefore, on the part of the members of that
22 Territorial Defence, there was very little engagement
23 and very little discipline.
24 In Ahmici there are no military facilities,
25 no barracks, no defence set-up and no storage for
1military materiel, and therefore during these
2 proceedings, this trial, the Defence was unable to
3 prove that there had been a battle pitting the armed
4 forces, one against the other, nor was it able to
5 understand that there had been a legitimate attack in
6 principle, or even mere resistance on the part of the
7 Muslims, resistance to the attack against them.
8 Colonel Watters, in his testimony, stated
9 that this was the first battlefield that he had been
10 given the opportunity to see where no dead soldier was
11 to be seen and where obviously all of the victims were
13 The third characteristic is that this
14 civilian population is Muslim. There was much
15 corroborating testimony pointed out that apparently
16 there were racist insults made against their victims,
17 and especially the use of the word balija, which is a
18 pejorative classification for Muslims which the Croats
19 used. Therefore, it is clear that the victims of the
20 attack were targeted only because they were not Croats,
21 but Muslims, and that their houses were destroyed
22 because that is where Muslim families lived.
23 A few minutes ago I mentioned the large
24 number of houses that had been destroyed. I must also
25 say that all the Muslim houses in Ahmici were
1destroyed, as were the outbuildings and livestock. And
2 the most evident result of this attack is the fact that
3 of the 600 Muslim residents in Ahmici, not one is left
4 after the 16th of April. It was an entire community
5 which was wiped off that location, and all trace of its
6 existence was erased and any possibility of a retort
7 was deliberately destroyed.
8 On the contrary, the Croat community in
9 Ahmici is intact. It was established that not a single
10 Croat civilian was hit, killed or even wounded; that
11 there was no damage made to Croat property in Ahmici,
12 no Catholic religious symbol was hit or degraded. The
13 members of the British Battalion were struck, and they
14 told so in Court by the discrepancy, by the fact that
15 the destruction in the village was obviously targeted
16 by the quasi-surgical character of this operation,
17 which wanted to exclude a religious and cultural -- a
18 political committee out of a territory.
19 I know that all the accused tried to
20 establish that their house had been hit or looted. I
21 think that in doing so they wanted to show that they --
22 their fate was that of the Muslim victims, but it is
23 obvious that not even the beginning of evidence has
24 been produced to show so.
25 It was not established either that the Croats
1had military loss, however limited, on the 16th of
2 April in Ahmici. We had long discussions revolving
3 around this issue and we know today for certain that
4 two people were wounded that belonged to the Croat
5 forces, and there were only two, Nikola Omazic and
6 Ivica Semren.
7 The last aspect of the operation directed
8 against Ahmici on the 16th of April, 1993 that is worth
9 underlining is the fact that this operation is to be
10 seen within the wider framework of a general assault, a
11 military assault with political aims. Admittedly,
12 because of the geographical extent of the village,
13 because of the number of victims in the village,
14 because of the heavy damage caused and the large amount
15 of military means implemented, shows in itself that it
16 is a large-scale crime. But it is worth showing also
17 that Ahmici is not a single, isolated fact, because
18 other Muslim villages in the Lasva Valley were then in
19 the following days attacked. And all those attacks
20 were pursuing the same goal, that of ethnic cleansing.
21 Such attacks are to be seen within the
22 framework of a deliberate, wilful policy, which is to
23 take over the power, the HVO to take over the power in
24 Central Bosnia. During this trial, through Prosecution
25 evidence, but also through some Defence witness
1testimony, we have adduced a large amount of evidence
2 about this political and military situation. We were
3 informed of the development as of November 1991 of the
4 movements of the Bosnian Croats, of its political and
5 territorial claims. These claims or objectives were to
6 have an autonomous territory, which was a first step
7 towards sovereignty.
8 Croats gave themselves an army, an army which
9 was equipped. The Croat and Muslim communities parted
10 and got further away from each other. As to the HVO,
11 it gradually took power over all aspects of civilian,
12 social and economic life.
13 Tensions between the communities, communities
14 which were allied against the Serb aggressor, such
15 tensions exacerbated to lead to the October '92 events
16 in Ahmici, which is a clear sign of it.
17 The Prosecution does not challenge, it even
18 holds it for established, that members of the Croat
19 community in Central Bosnia were too victims of
20 atrocities. It happened in other places in the Lasva
21 Valley, not on the 16th of April, but prior to or
22 possibly after the 16th of April. I have in mind the
23 testimony of Zeljka Rajic on the 27th of January, who
24 told us what happened in Dusina in January '93. But it
25 is obvious that no crime can be justified by another
1crime. But it is equally clear that in the Lasva
2 Valley during the time prior to the 16th of April,
3 1993, as far as the Muslim community was concerned, the
4 insecurity kept rising.
5 We saw much evidence of that throughout the
6 trial. I have one thing in mind in particular. It is
7 Prosecution Exhibit 352. It was a video film shot by
8 the Croat propaganda which shows us in the middle of
9 Ahmici two soldiers in black uniforms demonstrating
10 shooting skills whilst a journalist or reporter, if
11 that is a reporter, has threatening comments towards
12 the Muslims.
13 We had many signs of the war preparations
14 carried out by the Croat community in Central Bosnia,
15 or at least by the authorities, the HVO authorities. I
16 remember, in particular, all the orders issued by the
17 Operative Zone command, Blaskic, as of 1993, January
18 1993 up to April 1993.
19 Colonel Watters testified as to the general
20 character of the offensive carried out by the Croats on
21 the 16th of April. Firing or shooting started in Vitez
22 at the same time as it started in Ahmici. The way he
23 described Vitez on the 16th of April at 8.30 is that of
24 a battlefield, where all the victims are civilians.
25 The testimony of Major Dooley and of Stephen
1Hughes corroborate his testimony. Throughout the
2 valley, Muslim houses can be seen torched. All the
3 Muslim civilians have to flee or else they're killed,
4 arrested, taken to camps, such as the Kaonik camp, or
5 other detention centres.
6 A truck bomb exploded, as you remember, on
7 the 18th of April in Stari Vitez. Six people are
8 killed, eight seriously wounded. The perpetrators of
9 this attack want to terrorise the Muslim civilian
10 population, force it to leave the city, leave the
12 The Zenica shelling on the 19th of April by
13 the HVO is triggered by the same logics of terror.
14 Colonel Watters told us that the Croats had used this
15 window of opportunity that had opened then, since the
16 Muslim forces were busy on the western front against
17 the Serbs and since the media was busy because of the
18 events then taking place in Srebrenica.
19 Due to the character, the type of attack, it
20 can be characterised as a crime. We know that the
21 perpetrators are Bosnian Croats, that they acted
22 deliberately, systematically, fully aware of the goals
23 they were pursuing. We know that they wanted to
24 achieve the ethnic cleansing of the Ahmici village and
25 all of the various locations in the Lasva Valley. We
1know that their attack was directed against a civilian
2 population which was unarmed, undefended, and we know
3 that the civilian population was a Muslim population by
4 culture, tradition, and religion. We know that during
5 the attack many civilians were murdered, that their
6 property was destroyed, and that the survivors had to
7 leave their land, and we obviously can see that this
8 attack is part of an armed conflict between the HVO and
9 the military means at the disposal of
10 Bosnia-Herzegovina. Therefore, this attack can only be
11 qualified in one way: as a crime against humanity.
12 Let me now turn to the part played by the
13 Croat residents in Ahmici, before we turn to each and
14 every accused.
15 We know that prior to the war, there was
16 coexistence between the communities, that they
17 sometimes were on good terms and, anyway, were always
18 on peaceful terms with one another. But we also know
19 that as of 1991, the relationship started
21 The Croat media, radio and television started
22 broadcasting propaganda. The nationalistic feelings
23 started developing among the Croats. They had the
24 feeling that they were Catholics and Croats before they
25 were Bosnians, and they had the feeling that they did
1not belong to the same national community as the
2 Muslims, which led them to want to separate from them.
3 Several witnesses described this process of
4 separation leading to disaster. I have, in particular,
5 in mind Professor Tone Bringa. Some witnesses minced
6 facts that apparently were without any relevance.
7 There were new words that cropped up in the vocabulary
8 used by Bosnian Croats, for instance. But when you put
9 all this together, when you piece it together, then the
10 story gets its meaning.
11 There is one thing that is specific to
12 Ahmici. It was said by many witnesses, including
13 Defence witnesses, it is due to the influx of Muslim
14 refugees to Ahmici, whilst the Croat refugees from the
15 front line did not settle in the Vitez area but carried
16 on on their way. As a result, so it seems for the
17 Croats living in the Ahmici area, it gave rise to a
18 worrying situation. I remember that Ivica Kupreskic
19 said that the Ahmici population doubled in size because
20 of the influx of refugees, who were all Muslims.
21 Against this background and this process of
22 separation of communities, we saw that armed forces of
23 the HVO appeared within the village of Ahmici. One
24 should stop for a moment to consider what the HVO was
25 at that period of time.
1During the hearings, we referred at length to
2 regulations and laws, but at this stage of the
3 hearings, I wish to focus on three ideas.
4 The first is that in the circumstances at the
5 time, the operative reality preceded the administrative
6 reality. I remember that Witness DA for the Defence,
7 who was in charge of the administration and the
8 reorganisation of the Vitez Brigade, confirmed this;
9 the witness admitted that the Vitez Brigade existed on
10 the ground before it existed administratively.
11 The second idea is that as soon as the
12 Croatian community thought it was in jeopardy, there
13 was no difference between those in reserve and
14 active-duty soldiers.
15 The third idea was the contradiction between
16 active and non-active and it was replaced by the
17 opposition between a voluntary and a professional
18 member of personnel.
19 In 1992 and 1993, the Croats of Bosnia were
20 living through a period of revolution. What I mean is
21 that they were trying to establish a new national and
22 political order, built on the ruins of a former order,
23 and under those circumstances, the real and the former
24 could no longer coincide. One did not reflect the
1Furthermore, the Croats were not numerous or
2 thought they were not numerous. All of them were
3 mobilised, in fact, and the mobilisation, in the name
4 of an allegedly threatened community, was effective
5 before it became official. For example, Rudo Vidovic,
6 a restaurant owner in Zume, declared that many times,
7 even though he did not officially belong to HVO forces,
8 he went to fight the Serbs on Mount Vlasic in 1992, and
9 he also said that his son did the same on a number of
10 occasions. The witness described this as a widespread
11 practice. Some went to the front in civilian clothing,
12 others in camouflage uniform.
13 Milutin Vidovic, again for the Defence,
14 declared that twice in 1992, on the front against the
15 Serbs, for two periods of seven days each, as a
16 voluntary soldier, he went there without being
17 officially a member of the HVO. The same applies to
18 (redacted) and Ivo Pranjkovic, who was a reservist
19 and who went to the front line at Kuber on the 13th of
20 April, 1993. Also this applies to Witness Andjelko
21 Vidovic, who also told us that he went to Kuber on this
22 same date, the 13th of April, 1993.
23 Let us also recall Stipo Alilovic, who left
24 Bosnia to go to Holland on the 29th of March, 1992 and
25 who stated to the Dutch authorities, in support of his
1request for refugee status, that he had to leave Bosnia
2 because he was summoned to join the army of the Croats
3 of Bosnia.
4 Let us also recall that in his order, dated
5 the 16th of January, 1993, Colonel Blaskic ordered the
6 combat readiness of the HVO to be raised to the highest
7 level, that all armed members of the Croatian people
8 should be included in HVO units. We must assume that
9 certain consequences followed from this order, which
10 signified, at the same time, a levy, en masse, of the
11 Croats of Bosnia and their combat orders.
12 Goran Males, who testified for the Defence,
13 and who was a professional soldier, admitted that at
14 the time there was no major difference between the
15 position of a reservist and an active-duty soldier. In
16 fact, there were no reservists because the Croats were
17 too few. The register of the HVO, of the HVO soldiers,
18 makes a distinction between professionals and
19 reservists; it does not make a distinction between
20 active duty and reserve duty. All non-professional
21 soldiers are reservists, whether they are active duty
22 or not. This HVO, which, from the end of 1992 and the
23 beginning of 1993, is everywhere, it is also present,
24 of course, in Ahmici.
25 The 1st Battalion of the Vitez Brigade was
1responsible for a zone which includes Ahmici. Its
2 commander is Slavko Papic, who was frequently cited
3 during our hearings. According to many witnesses, in
4 particular, Defence witnesses, he was present in Ahmici
5 on the 16th of April, as of 4.00 in the morning, and
6 the next day. I am referring, in particular, to the
7 testimony of Milutin Vidovic.
8 What is known as the Home Guards also existed
9 in Ahmici. They were certainly still not administered,
10 but they had a commander, Nenad Santic, who is named in
11 an order dated 12th March 1993. Nenad Santic was,
12 indeed, a prominent figure at that period, as numerous
13 prosecution, as well as Defence, witnesses have
14 underlined. He issued orders of a military nature and,
15 particularly, according to the testimony of Dragan
16 Papic himself, the Croatian forces were under the
17 instructions of the commander of the operational zone.
18 Let us recall that Witness Zvonimir Santic,
19 called by the Defence, who is not from Ahmici but from
20 Rovna, stated that the village guards of Donja Rovna
21 received, before the attack of the 16th of April, an
22 order to guard the Radak Bridge from the headquarters
23 of the HVO in Busovaca.
24 Under these conditions, do we have indicators
25 and evidence of what the members of the Croatian
1community in Ahmici, Santici, and Pirici were in any
2 way involved, in a passive or active manner, in the
3 attack conducted against the Muslims? It is obviously
4 a difficult question of this trial, and of course I
5 will state my views with a great deal of caution.
6 The Defence claimed that forces came from
7 outside, that an independent unit, which was not part
8 of the regular HVO forces, arrived, but the defendants
9 themselves did incriminate themselves.
10 It should be noted that the only losses that
11 were suffered were among the inhabitants of Ahmici, and
12 Mirjan Santic, Nikola Omazic, and Ivica Semren were
13 Croats, the latter two belonging to regular units of
14 the HVO. The regular army of the HVO was present in
15 Ahmici, and the residents of Ahmici had their role
17 A second observation: The attackers were
18 perfectly well-informed. They knew who lived where;
19 they knew that this house was Muslim, another Croat,
20 even though no external difference allowed one to
21 distinguish between them. But the attackers did not
22 make a single error because not a single Croatian house
23 was destroyed. I should like to recall that several
24 witnesses said that the attackers knew the first and
25 last names of their victims.
1A third observation: The Croatian residents
2 of Ahmici were informed in advance and they evacuated.
3 Several Prosecution witnesses said that the 15th of
4 April was a rather unusual day. Witness A saw Dragan
5 Papic leave in a red Lada with his family towards
6 Busovaca and return alone half an hour later without
7 his family. Witness F also saw, on the afternoon of
8 the 15th of April, this red Lada of the Papic family
9 leave, with women and children inside; this car
10 returned later with other people inside. This same
11 witness, Witness F, in the course of that same
12 afternoon, also saw Ivica Kupreskic at the steering
13 wheel of his Mercedes leaving Ahmici with his family.
14 Witness Fahrudin Ahmic saw Vinko Vidovic on the 15th of
15 April in the evening, together with his wife and
16 children, preparing to leave in a car in the direction
17 of Busovaca. Witness F and G told the Tribunal that
18 Croatian children, their school friends, were absent on
19 the Thursday of the 15th of April, 1993.
20 A fourth observation: We know that upon the
21 initiative of Nenad Santic, a meeting was held in the
22 night between the 15th and the 16th of April, attended
23 by several inhabitants of Ahmici.
24 I should like to refer to the testimony of
25 Dragan Vidovic, who said that around 2.30 or 3.00 in
1the morning, he was called on the phone by Nenad
2 Santic, who asked him to go to the house of Witness
3 (redacted). He there found other Croat residents of
4 Ahmici; he mentions their names in the course of his
5 testimony. According to this witness, reference is
6 made to an imminent attack of Muslim forces, and the
7 witness is asked to awaken a certain number of people.
8 According to Dragan Vidovic, who declared
9 this during the examination-in-chief and also during
10 the cross-examination, (redacted) was also present
11 at the meeting, son of (redacted),
12 who later died. We know through another witness,
13 Zvonimir Cilic, that (redacted) was probably a
14 member of the military police. It is this man that
15 Witness EE said he saw in front of his door on the 16th
16 of April, in the morning, accompanied by Vlado Santic
17 and Drago Josipovic.
18 It is (redacted) who spoke during this
19 meeting and who issued instructions. We must ask
20 ourselves what he might have said to these Croatian
21 inhabitants of Ahmici.
22 A fifth observation has to do with the very
23 limited and localised scope of the evacuation. In
24 reality, this evacuation, regardless of the moment it
25 took place, whether it was on the eve or early in the
1morning of the 16th of April, affected only the Croats
2 living among Muslims; for example, the Kupreskics but
3 not the Sakics. And if, as the accused claimed, there
4 was fear of a Mujahedin attack on the village,
5 Mujahedin coming from the north, from the mountains,
6 then obviously all the Croatian houses would be at
8 Finally, I should like to refer to the
9 testimony of Professor Tone Bringa on the basis of his
10 experience from another area, which resembles Ahmici,
11 and who told us that, according to information
12 communicated to her, the attack against this village
13 was prepared from the outside but that certain Croat
14 inhabitants of the village participated in it in a
15 similar process to the one that took place in Ahmici.
16 Consequently, the Prosecution says that the
17 community of Croats in Ahmici could not and was not
18 uninformed about what was brewing, that some
19 inhabitants of Ahmici were associated with the attack
20 that was being prepared and participated in it.
21 I would now like to mention the evidence
22 which has been adduced against the -- each of the
23 accused, and start with the accused Zoran and Mirjan
24 Kupreskic. I am going to examine their situation
25 together, because it seems to me that on the ground and
1also within this trial, to a large extent they have
2 linked their fate, and the review of the facts in fact
3 does show that they were in fact inseparable.
4 The Prosecution states that the evidence that
5 was brought to this Tribunal to show that the accused
6 Zoran and Mirjan Kupreskic actively engaged in the
7 attack against the Muslim civilian population in
8 Ahmici, that they actively contributed to the HVO's
9 achieving its military and political objectives, and
10 that they were also the direct perpetrators of the
11 destruction of Witness KL's family.
12 The first element that I would like to bring
13 out to this Tribunal against the two accused is that
14 both of them are implicated in the HVO armed forces.
15 Zoran Kupreskic and his brother Mirjan both received
16 military training within the former Yugoslav army.
17 Both of them were seen by many witnesses before the
18 16th of April, 1993 in uniforms and armed, coming and
19 going in the village of Ahmici.
20 Witness S, for instance, Witness T, Witness
21 V, frequently saw Zoran moving around in HVO uniform
22 and carrying a weapon. The same holds for Mirjan
23 Kupreskic, with one reservation, however; that is,
24 Mirjan appeared less frequently in a uniform than did
25 his brother. But Witness Z states that shortly after
1the events of October 1992, he participated at a
2 checkpoint that was set up at the entrance of Ahmici,
3 together with, among other people, Mirjan Kupreskic,
4 who was wearing a camouflage uniform and carrying an
5 automatic rifle.
6 Moreover, during his testimony, the accused
7 Zoran Kupreskic did not deny that he was able to move
8 about in the village wearing a uniform, wearing his
9 brother's camouflage jacket, and he did not deny the
10 fact that he could carry out the armed guard and that
11 he was armed with an automatic AK-47 weapon.
12 Witness JJ, who perhaps even today had a very
13 close friendship with the accused Zoran Kupreskic, and
14 who worked in the same company as did the accused,
15 declared formally that Zoran Kupreskic, before the 16th
16 of April, 1993, was a member of the HVO. And she said
17 that she had personally seen that Zoran Kupreskic would
18 go to the front line against the Serbs; that he did not
19 hide that fact; that it was normal for a Croat.
20 Witness Abdulah Ahmic confirmed also that
21 Zoran, as far as he knew, would often go to the front
22 line. And this idea of a voluntary and temporary
23 engagement on the front line for the Croats is
24 something which we saw during these proceedings on
25 several occasions.
1We learned that, according to Witness JJ,
2 Zoran Kupreskic personally, while wearing a uniform,
3 took an oath of allegiance to the HVO during a ceremony
4 which took place at the Vitez city stadium, and that
5 this ceremony, obviously, had a nationalistic
6 characteristic and one of mobilisation as well.
7 Although several Defence witnesses, I
8 remember, denied that the ceremonies had ever taken
9 place, the accused Zoran Kupreskic recognised that --
10 acknowledged, rather, that he had participated in one
11 of these, but in public and wearing civilian clothes.
12 And he was unable to explain to the Tribunal, it seems,
13 why and how his friend could have made such a serious
15 The names of the witnesses or the accused
16 Zoran and Mirjan appear both in the HDZ and the HVO
17 registers, which implies that there was an old and
18 close association, both on a political and military
19 level with the Bosnian Croats. I would remind you that
20 these two documents are numbered 371 and 353.
21 I would say that in this respect it is odd
22 that we did not receive from the Defence Zoran's
23 military booklet, nor did we receive Mirjan's, which is
24 different in respect of the Defence of Vlatko
25 Kupreskic. The accused told us that the book exists
1but that each of them allegedly lost his own, but
2 neither of them had lost his demobilisation
4 Several Prosecution witnesses say that
5 according to their own observations and experience,
6 Zoran Kupreskic was not only an HVO soldier, he also
7 held a rank in it. Abdulah Ahmic said that Zoran
8 Kupreskic was the HVO Commander in Grabovi and that
9 frequently he saw him wearing a uniform and arm, and
10 would specifically see him together with Slavko Papic,
11 another HVO commander, as seemed from what some of the
12 Defence witnesses themselves said.
13 Witness Y stated that there was a meeting
14 held a few days before the attack of April 1993, which
15 was called by Zoran Kupreskic, about the question of
16 guards. It was presided over by Zoran Kupreskic.
17 During the meeting the Croatian party wanted
18 the guards set up by the Muslims -- stop operating
19 within the village, and the Muslims proposed that they
20 have joint patrols. And Zoran refused the compromise,
21 and to justify his refusal he mentioned orders that he
22 had received.
23 According to the witness, Zoran on that
24 occasion told those people he was speaking to that he
25 was going to take up a new command and that his
1responsibilities in Ahmici would be carried out by
2 somebody else.
3 The protocol of 21 October 1992, which is
4 Exhibit D27, is one of the pieces of evidence regarding
5 the important role that Zoran Kupreskic played within
6 the HVO structures and locally within the Croatian
7 community in Ahmici.
8 The document indicates what the conclusions
9 for the negotiations were for the return of Muslim
10 refugees. What did it mean? It meant that the Muslims
11 -- the Muslims in Ahmici would surrender.
12 First of all, it was established under the
13 auspices of the HVO.
14 Secondly, it prescribed the disarmament of
15 the Ahmici Muslims.
16 And thirdly, through this document, the HVO,
17 as a counterpart of disarmament, guaranteed security
18 for the Muslims.
19 We know that this document was in fact used
20 and it should be associated with the statements of the
21 witness Abdulah Ahmic and those of the Witness U.
22 Disarmament, of course, did take place, even though
23 evidently it was not total. We could remember that
24 Fahrudin Ahmic, who would see his weapons confiscated
25 by Nenad Santic, who would then give it or have it
1given to Drago Josipovic.
2 However, we know what would become of the
3 guarantees promised by those who had signed the
4 document. It appears clearly that the disarmament of
5 the Muslims in Ahmici, in accordance with that order,
6 was only able to facilitate the attack carried out on
7 the 16th of April, 1993.
8 The accused Zoran Kupreskic explained that it
9 was written as it was being dictated to him, that he
10 was the meeting secretary, and that he did not in any
11 way really participate in that decision-making process,
12 but all the other signatories of the document are dead
13 and, therefore, he did not take the risk of -- did not
14 run the risk of being challenged.
15 Witness B, however, says what the real role
16 of Zoran Kupreskic was in those negotiations. He told
17 us that the day after the first conflict of October
18 1992, he met Nenad Santic in order to negotiate the
19 return of the Muslim refugees, and with Nenad Santic he
20 went to Zoran Kupreskic's house. Zoran Kupreskic, in
21 front of him, took -- made commitments in the name of
22 the Croatian community. He guaranteed the safety of
23 the Muslim refugees when they came back and asserted
24 that there would be no problem.
25 Witness JJ stated that ten days before the
1conflict of April 1993, his friend Zoran told him that
2 he was a local HVO Commander in Ahmici. She added that
3 in the preceding days, the days preceding the 16th of
4 April, Zoran mentioned in front of her a checkpoint
5 which had been set up by the Muslims in Ahmici in order
6 to prevent Dario Kordic from coming into the village.
7 And Zoran said that he had been able to negotiate the
8 dismantling of that roadblock without any difficulty.
9 And that, I think, explains or can be
10 explained by the fact that Zoran was in a position to
11 extend his protection to his friend Witness JJ.
12 And according to that witness's testimony,
13 apparently, his name in and of itself represented a
14 safe conduct. And that the name of Zoran Kupreskic was
15 respected by soldiers, even though the statement that
16 was signed by Marijan Skopljak was considered to be
17 valueless by those very same soldiers.
18 We, the Prosecution, in the proceedings
19 established that the two accused, Zoran and Mirjan
20 Kupreskic, had played an active role and a conscious
21 role in the attack of the 16th of April against the
22 Muslim civilian population in Ahmici. And the
23 Prosecution, in order to establish this, based itself
24 on the following elements: I said that Zoran and
25 Mirjan Kupreskic each were members, and active members,
1of the HVO, and as such they can only be associated,
2 and as soon as it was conceived, in an operation
3 carried out by the HVO on the village in which they
4 lived, and that, in my opinion, the contrary -- the
5 opposite would simply be inconceivable.
6 The second element. We know that war
7 preparations were being taken around the Kupreskic
8 houses. Witness V stated on the 15th of April, 1993,
9 in late afternoon, while he was riding around in a car,
10 he saw between the houses of Ivica and Zoran Kupreskic
11 about a dozen soldiers wearing camouflage uniforms and
12 carrying weapons, as well as two civilians.
13 This group of people worried him and he spoke
14 about it immediately to some of his friends, which he
15 confirmed when he testified before the Tribunal. And
16 he said that there were -- from what he saw on the 16th
17 of April, that is, the materiel and the soldiers there,
18 it was clear that from the preceding evening of -- the
19 evening preceding the attack, there had been military
20 preparations. And assuming that Zoran and Mirjan
21 Kupreskic were still not implied [sic] at that stage,
22 what was going around their houses on the 16th of April
23 was something they simply could not not know. And
24 knowing what was happening, they could not not
25 understand what that meant.
1The third element, as was admitted by the
2 accused when they testified, in the morning that day
3 they did nothing to warn, to forewarn their
4 neighbours. And given the information that allegedly
5 was given to them, the only thing they could do is
6 think that, like them, the Muslim inhabitants of Ahmici
7 were at risk.
8 During cross-examination, Zoran Kupreskic was
9 very clear in admitting that. I quote him: "I had all
10 reasons to believe that these people were coming from
11 outside, that the Mujahedins were coming from outside,
12 and they were going to wreak havoc among my Muslim
13 neighbours. I didn't know that army. I didn't know
14 those soldiers. We heard that they were killing
15 people, cutting throats of people, that they were
16 burning houses. It may be that the Muslims were afraid
17 of them too. We were afraid of the Vitezovi, of the
18 Zuti of the TPN. The Muslims were afraid of them too.
19 We were trying to get away from them, not be close to
20 them. Therefore, I could think that the Muslims would
21 also try to get away from the village and did not
22 expect the Mujahedins to arrive."
23 And this failure to act by Zoran and Mirjan
24 Kupreskic in those circumstances could only be an
25 advantage to the attackers, could only promote the
1success in their endeavour.
2 The fourth element the Prosecution are basing
3 their arguments on is, of course, the statement by
4 Witness C. Witness C, and you will remember, Your
5 Honours, was then a very young boy. He was 13 1/2. He
6 was evicted from his house after his brother was killed
7 in front of him and he was taken to Jozo Alilovic's
8 house. He was hidden in a house very close to that of
9 Jozo Alilovic, together with Tomislav, Jozo's brother.
10 Towards late morning he saw four men in camouflage
11 uniforms arrive. They had green shoulder ribbons. And
12 he recognised among them men Zoran Kupreskic, Mirjan
13 Kupreskic, Dragan Papic's brother and Ako. You will
14 remember this man testified here in Court.
15 In Court the witnesses mixed up Zoran and
16 Mirjan, confused them. But to me this should not
17 challenge the witness's credibility, since the latter
18 pointed collectively at Zoran and Mirjan Kupreskic; he
19 clearly identified them without a single hesitation.
20 Did the witness make a mistake or did he lie? There is
21 little reason to believe that he made a mistake. He
22 knew the accused perfectly well. He saw them at close
23 range and always he was very accurate in the way he
24 told the events that he experienced.
25 Could he have lied? I would say that, as a
1rule, when a witness lies, he fails to mention third
2 parties who could come testify to say the opposite.
3 And I think that if, through a lie, Witness C wanted to
4 harm the brothers, the Kupreskic brothers, he would not
5 have mentioned other people than those two Kupreskic
7 Also, if you want to lie, you need to have a
8 reason for it, and the reason was not ascertained in
9 Court. There was no single trace of any motivation
10 that would have prompted him to lie.
11 I would like now to come to the attack on the
12 house of Witness H.
13 JUDGE CASSESE: It might be a good time for a
15 --- Recess taken at 10.30 a.m.
16 --- On resuming at 11.00 a.m.
17 JUDGE CASSESE: Mr. Terrier, is there some
18 time left at the end?
19 MR. TERRIER: I hope there will be some time
20 for questions.
21 JUDGE CASSESE: Some 15 minutes?
22 MR. TERRIER: Fine.
23 [Technical difficulty]
24 JUDGE CASSESE: Yes, everything is settled.
25 MR. TERRIER: Thank you. I had reached the
1point when there was this attack on the house of
2 Witness H.
3 You will remember, Your Honours, Witness H,
4 in April 1993, was 13 years old. She lived in a house
5 close to the Kupreskic houses; she lived there,
6 together with her father, her mother, and her two
7 younger sisters. During the trial, we saw photographs
8 of the house, and you will remember the somewhat
9 unusual layout of the house. There is a kind of
10 cellar, which can be accessed through a trapdoor which
11 is in the children's room, and there is another opening
12 out onto the garage.
13 In December 1993, this witness spoke to the
14 examining magistrate in Zenica, and also later in 1998,
15 she told this Tribunal what had happened on that day,
16 on the 16th of April, in the house.
17 When the family heard the first shots, the
18 parents came to wake up the daughters. They all went
19 down into the cellar through that trapdoor. Grenades
20 were being thrown into the house. Outside of the
21 house, in front of the garage door, the father was
22 called by his first name and he was told he had to open
23 the door. Witness H believed that those voices were
24 friendly voices, the voices of people who wanted to
25 join them in the shelter, and she told her father that
1she opened the garage door. She couldn't believe that
2 those people, the attackers, would use the first name
3 of her father to call him.
4 The father left the cellar, opened the garage
5 door, and then the witness heard that her father was
6 told to come out. The father was begging for something
7 and then shots of automatic rifle were heard. The
8 trapdoor was open above her, the one leading to the
9 children's room. She heard a male voice asking who was
10 down there. She said that her mother was in a state of
11 shock, unable to utter a word, holding tightly her two
12 little daughters.
13 The witness left the cellar and found herself
14 facing Zoran Kupreskic. He's facing her, only a metre
15 away from her, no more, and she recognised him beyond
16 any reasonable doubt. He was in a uniform, had black
17 paint over his face, and was holding an automatic
18 rifle. She told him that her mother and her sisters
19 were downstairs. He asked whether there were weapons
20 down in the cellar, whether the men were hiding in the
21 cellar, because he said that he had been ordered to
22 kill them all.
23 Then, according to the witness's testimony,
24 Zoran went away a few steps to get closer to Mirjan,
25 who was wearing the same uniform and the same equipment
1as his brother. Zoran asked Mirjan what he was to do
2 with them; Mirjan said he didn't know. Then Zoran went
3 back towards the witness and ordered everybody to leave
4 the cellar. The witness knelt down in front of Zoran,
5 begging him to spare their lives. There was Mirjan and
6 Zoran, but according to the witness, there were three
7 other soldiers in the house too, in the kitchen, one in
8 front of the front door, and they were trying to torch
9 the house with petrol.
10 Now, what do we think of this testimony?
11 First of all, there is no confusion or error possible
12 when it comes to Witness H. She says she recognised a
13 man whom she knew very well. They were only a few
14 metres from her; they spoke to her. So not only did
15 she recognise their look, she also recognised their
17 Witness H cannot have made a mistake, but
18 could she have lied? Could it be that, among
19 witnesses, some arrangement has been made, according to
20 which, as has been suggested by the Defence, or as has
21 been suggested by the accused during their testimony,
22 was there an arrangement, a pact concluded among
23 various witnesses who think that Zoran and Mirjan
24 Kupreskic should be held responsible for the Croats?
25 In order to refute such an argument, I will
1call your attention to various elements. They are as
3 First, on the 17th of December, 1993, Witness
4 H was heard by the examining magistrate in Zenica. I'm
5 trying to think of this hearing, and I refer to the
6 testimony of Mrs. Ajanovic, the examining magistrate.
7 There is no doubt left, even though the witness seems
8 to have forgotten about such a meeting.
9 As to the essential, the striking feature
10 when you look at the written statement of the 17th of
11 December, 1993, which is Defence Exhibit 1-2, on all
12 the major points, as to the fact that the attackers
13 knew of the cellar, knew that Zoran and Mirjan spoke to
14 her, that they spoke among each other, that the witness
15 had to kneel down in front of one of them; the fact
16 that she, together with her mother, were driven away
17 from the house by these people, by the aggressors; on
18 all these major points, the testimony here in this
19 Tribunal, and that made in front of the magistrate in
20 Zenica, go in the same direction.
21 As soon as December 1993, we see the name of
22 the accused, Zoran and Mirjan, in a statement taken by
23 an examining magistrate, and this is a major point to
24 be taken into account. I shall, however, notice -- and
25 this may be some kind of concession made to the
1Defence -- like Witness C, Witness H seems to confuse,
2 to mix up Zoran and Mirjan Kupreskic, and upon a closer
3 reading of her statement of December 1993, it looks as
4 though it was Mirjan, and not Zoran, who opened the
5 trapdoor, and that it was Zoran who was somewhat
6 behind. But this does not impinge at all on the
7 witness's credibility as to the essential things this
8 witness told us. She knew the accused and she may have
9 been mixed up as to the first names.
10 The second point: The written statements of
11 the mother of Witness H. The Prosecution wanted to
12 call Witness H's mother, but this person was not able
13 to testify in court in view of her state of health.
14 The Court heard the head of the Victims and Witnesses
15 Unit, who conveyed the opinion of the doctor, and a
16 medical certificate was produced. The written
17 statement of the mother was tendered into evidence.
18 It is very important, in my view, to note that on
19 the 23rd of April, 1993, in a written statement, the
20 mother of Witness H said that her daughter told her
21 that she had recognised Zoran Kupreskic in the house.
22 It is true, and again I can see that to the
23 Defence, that the mother of Witness H later made
24 statements which are broadly inconsistent. But
25 according to us, the description given of Witness H of
1her mother, a mother totally overcome by anguish and
2 panic, incapable of speaking, that can explain the
3 inconsistency of the new statement. But it is
4 important to remember that the mother, Witness H,
5 reported what her daughter had said, which this witness
6 then developed before the investigating judge and later
7 in this Court.
8 From the house of Witness H, I should like us
9 now to go on to the house of Witness KL. These two
10 houses are very close, one to another. There are some
11 ten metres between them. And there is a technical link
12 between them, which was revealed by experts of the
13 Dutch police.
14 The Court will remember that in front of the
15 house of Witness H, a cartridge was discovered, and it
16 appears to be probable, as said by Witness Kerkhoff,
17 that this cartridge discovered in front of the house of
18 Witness H, and three other cartridges found in the
19 house of Witness KL, come from the same weapon.
20 Regarding what happened in the house of
21 Witness KL, the Court will remember the very long
22 testimony by this witness. He said that in April '93
23 he lived in that house with his son, daughter-in-law, a
24 child of six or seven, who was the son of his
25 daughter-in-law, and a three-month-old baby, his
1grandson. The witness had a room adjacent to the main
2 room in the house of his family.
3 On the 16th of April at 5.30, a few seconds
4 after the first explosions, soldiers entered the
5 house. This soldier, who the witness recognised when
6 he entered the main room from his room as Zoran
7 Kupreskic. Behind him came Mirjan Kupreskic. The
8 light was on in the room and this allowed him to
9 recognise these two people. Zoran Kupreskic, according
10 to the witness, immediately shot the son of the
11 witness, and then he shot the daughter-in-law, and then
12 he went towards the young boy lying on the sofa. At
13 the same time Mirjan poured some liquid from a bottle
14 and set it on fire.
15 Witness KL was forced to the ground, his head
16 hit against the wall, and he loses consciousness for a
17 few short minutes. Zoran, according to the witness,
18 shoots in his direction, without hitting him, because
19 the bullets are in the armrest. Then the baby cries
20 out. There is a new burst of fire. Finally, the
21 attackers withdraw.
22 According to the witness, Zoran had black
23 paint on his face and both of them were dressed in
24 black uniforms. That was the testimony of this witness
25 in Court.
1This witness had, of course, before appearing
2 in Court, made a large number of statements. I shall
3 refer to the three first ones. He first made a
4 statement on the 22nd of April, 1993 before a
5 representative of a research institute for crimes
6 against humanity, and he did not name Zoran or Mirjan.
7 Then a statement on the 1st of October, 1993,
8 before an investigating judge in Zenica, and he said
9 that he did not recognise the face of the attackers,
10 but that they resembled Zoran and Mirjan.
11 A third declaration on the 20th of February,
12 1994, before a representative of the same research
13 institute, in which he names Zoran and Mirjan Kupreskic
14 as the two Ustashes who massacred his family and
15 destroyed his house.
16 Witness KL, while he was in hospital, also
17 made a statement in the form of a television interview,
18 which was broadcast in April 1993.
19 I will admit to the Defence that if we look
20 in detail at these statements and those made to the
21 investigators of the Office of the Prosecutor, there
22 are numerous contradictions. But in my view, it is
23 important to note that he did not name the attackers
24 before the 20th of February, 1994.
25 Why? The question was put to him by
1yourself, Mr. President, in Court. And he explained
2 that he did not have the courage to do so because the
3 war was on and nobody knew how it would end, and that
4 later on he came to the conclusion that he should not
5 protect the authors -- the perpetrators of the
7 These contradictions between the statements
8 of the witness and the delay of the witness naming the
9 attackers, should this lead us to believe that he was
10 interfered with, or that he deliberately testified
11 against innocents?
12 Regarding the credibility of Witness KL, I
13 shall make some general statements first. The Court
14 knows well that the written statement of a witness is
15 the result of an exercise of two people: the witness
16 and the investigator for the statement. To be exact
17 and complete, the investigator has to have talent and
18 experience, but we don't know anything of the -- about
19 the professional qualities of those who took the first
20 statements from the Witness KL.
21 Also, I should like to underline that the
22 moral qualities of the witness were fine-combed, and
23 nothing was found. A few incidents referred to by the
24 Defence are so rare and so old that one can say that he
25 has absolutely passed the test of morality. This is an
1important element to be borne in mind. He had no
2 reason to bear a grudge against the accused. And if
3 the witness lied, he had no motive to explain his
5 I should also like to underline that evidence
6 has proven that Witness KL was a witness of the
7 assassination of his family. The recounting of the
8 facts was made from the first hearings; two men, one
9 shooting the other, setting the house on fire. There
10 are contradictions, but they seem to me to be of
11 secondary importance.
12 We have his story, which was confirmed by
13 technical investigations carried out by Dutch police
14 officers. These investigations were partial, but
15 nevertheless important.
16 Witness Prudon, the Dutch police officer who
17 examined the house in July 1998, in spite of the
18 limited time at his disposal, made some discoveries,
19 and none of them contradict the story of Witness KL.
20 The bones of the baby, for instance, discovered in the
21 house, were burnt, according to this expert, at a very
22 high temperature of 1.000 to 1.630 degrees Celsius. At
23 this very high temperature, the explanation could be
24 that the attacker used a combustion accelerator. No
25 traces of that were found, that is true, but Witness
1van der Peyl, an expert, a chemical expert attached to
2 the justice ministry of the Netherlands, said that it
3 was possible, in view of the time that has passed and
4 the condition of the house, that those traces simply
5 disappeared in the course of the period of time that
6 had passed.
7 In the part of the room where Witness KL said
8 he saw Mirjan Kupreskic pour an inflammable liquid, the
9 wooden floor itself burnt, which could mean, according
10 to Witness Prudon, a concentration of fire in those
11 places, a hotbed of fire.
12 According to the story of Witness KL, there
13 are a certain number of strange points, and I myself
14 said when I learnt about it that I was astonished by
15 some of those points. But regarding most of those
16 points, Witness KL gave explanations which are quite
17 convincing. For example, I was astonished that in his
18 first statement the witness did not mention that he was
19 behind a sofa, but in the statement of Witness KL taken
20 on the 5th of May 1993 by a representative of the
21 Commission of the Rights of Man, it is said that the
22 witness hid behind a sofa. So it is quite clear that a
23 certain number of contradictions can be attributed to
24 the way in which those statements were taken.
25 Also, another example, I could not understand
1that he could escape death by disappearing behind the
2 armrest of the sofa, feeling the cartridges hit his
3 legs as they were ejected from an automatic rifle. But
4 we know that these bullets came from an AK-47, which
5 have trajectory towards the right and forward, as shown
6 by Witness Kerkhoff.
7 As for the question of identification now, I
8 should like to underline first of all that Witness KL
9 never gave a different name than those of the accused,
10 though it is true that he took some time to name them.
11 It has not been proven, it seems to me, that
12 Witness KL had publicly during his televised interview
13 in April 1993 said that he did not know the assassins
14 of his family. The two witnesses that we heard in this
15 connection do not seem to me to have been sufficiently
16 convincing, in view of the highly selective nature of
17 their memories.
18 I wish also to underline that the delay in
19 naming the attackers was only formal because, in
20 reality, very soon, and even before the end of the
21 month of April, the name of Kupreskic appeared in
22 connection with the massacre of the family of Witness
23 KL. And the source can obviously be no other than the
24 witness, the only surviving person of that massacre.
25 In fact, as early as the end of May 1993, the
1notion appears that the perpetrators of the crime were
2 neighbours. A witness was present in Zenica for an
3 international convention and who speaks the Bosnian
4 language, met Witness KL at Zenica hospital on the 7th
5 of May, and he told him that he knew the names of the
6 murderers. He said that they were neighbours from the
7 first house. In addition, Witness JJ told the Tribunal
8 that she had heard on the radio a few days before the
9 16th of April that the crimes in Ahmici had been
10 committed by several individuals who were named. The
11 name of Zoran Kupreskic was mentioned.
12 The witness said somewhat later, on the 24th
13 or 25th of April, during a meeting with the witness,
14 that Zoran himself mentioned the name of the Witness
15 KL. He said that he was accused by that family of
16 having killed one of them, and of course he denied his
17 guilt, but the fact in and of itself is important.
18 When he testified, Witness JJ asserted that he could
19 not have made any mistakes or not have confused
20 anything in respect of the moment when he received the
21 confidences from Zoran Kupreskic.
22 Very quickly and unofficially, but in a
23 certain way, Witness KL names at least Zoran
24 Kupreskic. Could he have made an error in good faith?
25 The answer, obviously, is no, because he knew both
1people that he identified very well and for a long
2 time; they were people he knew very well. The distance
3 separating them was very small and there was enough
4 light, and those two individuals did not really try to
5 hide, probably thinking that they would leave no living
6 witnesses behind.
7 There is a final possibility which was raised
8 by the Defence; that is, with the other witnesses who
9 had accused Zoran and Mirjan Kupreskic, had they set up
10 kind of a false agreement not to tell the truth? The
11 Tribunal, of course, will have its own opinion on that
12 issue, but I would like to make two comments.
13 The first is that it's very difficult to
14 believe that this type of pact could have been arranged
15 in the days that followed the massacre, given the
16 situation of the victims at that time.
17 My second comment is that it seems to me that
18 in that assertion, there is a serious contradiction
19 which affects the Defence. We're told both that Zoran
20 and Mirjan were modest individuals who played only an
21 insignificant role and that people wanted to turn them
22 into scapegoats for Croatian guilt. I believe that if
23 the witnesses had tried to find a scapegoat, that is,
24 an emblematic form of guilty, they could have found
25 other people, perhaps people who were more influential
1and more well-known than the two accused.
2 Lastly, I believe that we can understand,
3 without too much difficulty, Witness KL and the belated
4 amount of time he took in naming the attackers of his
5 family. It is not easy for that witness, who is also
6 the victim of a very serious crime, to state the names
7 of witnesses as perpetrators of those crimes.
8 We know that within the weeks and even the
9 first months following the massacre at Ahmici, the
10 situation in the Lasva Valley was very uncertain and
11 the result of the conflict was not something one could
12 foresee. The simple carrying out of justice at that
13 time was, in fact, improbable, even though officially a
14 resolution had been taken in order to set up this
15 Tribunal. The victims are isolated, without support
16 and without any resources, and probably those victims,
17 or at least some of them, could not break with Ahmici,
18 even if they had been driven out. They could not break
19 with their homes, even if their homes were lying in
20 ruins, and some of the victims must have had difficulty
21 imagining a life anywhere else than Ahmici.
22 Citing the name of a Croatian neighbour as
23 the perpetrator of a crime would be burning all the
24 bridges behind one, that is, cutting off any hope of
25 returning to Ahmici, and we can understand that to
1mention the Kupreskics as having been near the burning
2 houses is not the same thing as designating the
3 murderers of one's family.
4 I mentioned several Defence arguments. I
5 would like to mention two others. The Defence said,
6 and will continue to say, that the accused are
7 incapable of having acted as the Prosecution claims,
8 given their human qualities. I will not go into a
9 discussion in this trial of the human qualities of the
10 accused, but I must say that on the morning of the 16th
11 of April, according to what they themselves said,
12 whereas they had the time and the opportunity to flee,
13 they did not take any steps to warn their Muslim
14 friends or neighbours about a situation in which the
15 Muslims themselves could not be completely safe.
16 As regards the assistance given by Zoran to
17 his friend, Witness JJ, I would not like to challenge
18 that, but I do wonder that in the name of what was that
19 assistance given to Witness JJ. I would say that it
20 was not in the name of humanity, but rather that it was
21 in the name of a friendship, a friendship which was
22 close and exclusive, and that from that interest,
23 Witness JJ apparently was the only one who enjoyed that
25 The Defence also invokes a type of alibi;
1that is, that there was a time spent in a declivity
2 behind the houses, that they tried to see what was
3 going on, although they couldn't from that viewpoint.
4 We heard a great many witnesses who agreed on the same
5 story. All the witnesses, or at least most of them,
6 mentioned the 30 military policemen, or about 30
7 policemen, they described them all in the same way, and
8 those military police provoked among all the victims
9 the same feelings of anguish and repulsion. All of the
10 witnesses mentioned the three days that they spent in
11 the depression without being able practically to move
12 and without knowing anything about what was going on,
13 without knowing, for instance, what houses were
15 We have difficulty in believing that that
16 actually occurred, when we know that a depression could
17 not be a shelter for the accused and for their friends,
18 could not be a way of guaranteeing the safety of their
19 families; when we know that as early as the end of the
20 morning, at the latest, Zoran and Mirjan were in
21 contact with Nikola Omazic, whom we know was a member
22 of the HVO that was implicated in the attack; whereas
23 we know that as early as the middle of the day of the
24 16th of April, Vlatko Kupreskic said that he was able
25 to move about without any problems between Zume and his
1house; when we know that other individuals, during that
2 same morning, were moving about freely in order to tell
3 the accused that Fahrudin Ahmic had died. In
4 the same way, Drago Josipovic is described to us as
5 coming and going in the middle of the battlefield in
6 Ahmici. And when we know or when we remember that
7 Zoran told us that on the morning of the 16th of April,
8 he had heard women, who he recognised as being Muslims,
9 screaming with terror. And lastly, we know that the
10 purpose of the attack on the civilian population of
11 Ahmici had reached its target, at the latest, at the
12 end of the afternoon of the 16th of April, with the
13 destruction of the minaret.
14 I will not mention all the details about
15 which the witnesses agreed, after so much time has gone
16 by since the facts occurred, but it is clear to me, I
17 think, that even faced with only the allegations of the
18 Defence I just mentioned, that that alibi loses its
19 credibility. Obviously, we are struck at the stories
20 told by the witnesses of what happened on the 16th of
21 April, 1993, including what happened also -- also what
22 happened on the 20th of October, 1992, whereas the
23 circumstances were obviously completely different, and
24 everything collapses even further when we listen to
25 Witness JJ.
1Witness JJ said that Zoran, as early as the
2 16th of April, called his home in order to ask him to
3 look for a shelter. Witness JJ said that Zoran
4 Kupreskic had told him a little bit later, around the
5 21st of April, that before the first shooting during
6 the night of the 15th to the 16th of April, with his
7 car, he had taken several trips and he had brought his
8 whole family to safety in Ravno.
9 The same Witness JJ said that on the 16th of
10 April, the members of the Jokers unit were firing on
11 the fleeing civilians, that one of the Jokers noticed
12 that Zoran was not firing and then threatened him with
13 a weapon if he did not decide finally to fire. Then,
14 in order to save himself, he fired in the air, not on
15 the civilian; he fired in the air.
16 Why did he do that and why did he say that to
17 his friend, Witness JJ? If he said that, then the
18 Judges will have to decide whether this is true and
19 whether he lied to the Witness JJ. If he told the
20 truth, then he lied to the Tribunal.
21 In light of everything that we know after the
22 trial, it is clear, I believe, that for the
23 Prosecution, Zoran Kupreskic did not tell the truth,
24 either to his friend, Witness JJ, or to the Judges.
25 Both to his friend and to the Judges, Zoran Kupreskic
1had good reasons to hide the truth.
2 In light of all of these elements that were
3 heard during the proceedings, and of course during the
4 time that I have, I can only briefly mention them, and
5 I will ask the Tribunal's Judges to say that Counts 1
6 to 11 against accused Zoran and Mirjan Kupreskic were
7 established by the evidence and that all the evidence
8 to be considered, submitted to the Tribunal during this
9 trial, must be evaluated.
10 Now I will go to the situation of the accused
11 Vlatko Kupreskic.
12 Against the accused Vlatko Kupreskic, the
13 Prosecution considers that it proved that he personally
14 participated in the attack of the HVO against the
15 civilian Muslim population of Ahmici and that through
16 his behaviour and his acts, he facilitated the
17 achievement of that attack and its success. The
18 Prosecution submits that it established in the same way
19 that he was personally and directly responsible with
20 other people for the death of Fata Pezer and for the
21 wounding of her daughter, Dzenana Pezer.
22 I would first like to mention the question
23 that many witnesses of the Defence raised, that is, the
24 medical condition of the accused, Vlatko Kupreskic.
25 It is not being challenged by the Prosecution
1that Vlatko Kupreskic, when he was a child, may have
2 had serious health problems, and it is undoubtedly true
3 that the accused, in 1970, it was said that he was
4 unfit for military service. It has been established
5 that in May of 1993, there was an examining commission
6 for the HVO, and the HVO said that he was not suitable
7 for military service.
8 But before May, what was the situation? The
9 idea of service in peacetime within the former
10 Yugoslavia certainly is different from service in
11 wartimes for the Bosnian Croats in Central Bosnia,
12 under the circumstances of 1992 and 1993, and one could
13 not believe that the ordinary citizen that Vlatko
14 Kupreskic claims to have been could have put forth,
15 against the order of mobilisation in April, the fact
16 that he was judged to be unfit for service in 1970 by
17 the authorities of the former Yugoslavia.
18 The decision that he not go to the army of 27
19 May 1993, that is, Exhibit D16/3, was presented not
20 only to the accused but also to the Vitez Brigade, and
21 it's the proof that Vlatko Kupreskic was now part of
22 that brigade, and this is what confirms document 30/35,
23 which is a report on the mobilisation, in which it
24 appears that the accused was deployed into the HVO
25 active forces during the period starting on the 16th of
2 But it may be that this entire discussion as
3 to whether Vlatko Kupreskic was a member of the HVO
4 loses its relevance, is irrelevant, because it
5 appeared, through the testimony heard in court, that at
6 the relevant times, the accused was in no way
7 handicapped, limited in his movement, in his
8 activities. More often than not, he's described as
9 being a very active and dynamic person, especially
10 conducting business.
11 Later, when he was arrested, he used an
12 AK-47, which was a weapon he kept loaded and ready to
13 be fired. The Defence witness, Mario Rajic, testified
14 on the 8th of February, 1999 and said that if you want
15 to use an AK-47, you need to be trained. Therefore,
16 the accused, Vlatko Kupreskic, was, physically
17 speaking, perfectly able to carry out the part ascribed
18 to him by the Prosecution.
19 Another factor to be considered by this Court
20 is the nationalistic involvement of Vlatko Kupreskic,
21 which is beyond any doubt. This is what prompted him
22 to claim that he was part of the HVO. I refer here to
23 document 329, which is the certificate showing that
24 Vlatko Kupreskic was a member of the Vitez Brigade in
25 the period from the 16th of April, 1993 to the 15th of
2 We have heard other testimony. I referred to
3 Witness T, who stated that during October '92 she saw
4 Vlatko Kupreskic, together with his wife and another
5 man, taking weapons out of a car and taking those
6 weapons into his house.
7 I also recall the testimony of Witness H, who
8 reported an event that took place much later than the
9 16th of April, '93. When she returned to have a look
10 at her house, she met Vlatko Kupreskic, who asked her
11 what she was doing there, who told her that it was no
12 longer her house, that her house would never be hers
14 I am aware that during his testimony, the
15 accused in his Defence insisted at length on the fact
16 that Vlatko Kupreskic was a businessman conducting
17 business with members of all communities; that he had
18 business transactions with Croatia.
19 I would like to state generally that while
20 business does not necessarily mean neutrality, is not
21 tantamount to neutrality, because it can't be carried
22 out freely in time of war. On the contrary, it implies close links
23 with the authorities, and the ruling authority at the
24 time is the HVO. Indeed, looking at Exhibits 359, 377
25 and 378, you see that the accused Vlatko Kupreskic
1turns out to be much more involved than he claims to
2 have been with the HVO authorities.
3 Exhibit 359, as you recall, is an inventory
4 established by a commission. It is dated February '93
5 and signed, among other signatories, by Vlatko. His
6 signature was authenticated here in Court by his wife
7 and the document was not challenged at all.
8 Document 377 is a report dated 28th of
9 December, '92, addressed to the interior minister, as
10 to the forces of the Vitez police forces. And Vlatko
11 Kupreskic is mentioned therein as a first-class
12 inspector in charge of, I quote, "fighting offences of
13 special interest for the state."
14 Document 378 is dated the 22nd of February,
15 '93. It is an inspection report of the Vitez police,
16 mentioning the accused as a officer in charge of
17 fighting criminality, and no doubt with a special
18 mission for the state, on behalf of the state.
19 During cross-examination the accused
20 explained that this was just an administrative
21 arrangement aimed at paying him for the work he had
22 done. I regard his justification as particularly
23 inconsistent, all the more so since you know that he
24 carried out this inventory in a commission that was
25 made up only of police members and that the final
1report is no longer than three pages.
2 Obviously, these documents show that he
3 enjoyed the collaboration of the official HVO
4 authorities. These documents also show that at a given
5 point in time and for a specific period of time, Vlatko
6 Kupreskic was a member of both a civilian and special
7 police force, which could account for the fact that he
8 is not to be found among the army before April 1993.
9 But in my view, this also raises the question of today,
10 of what is still hidden or unknown today as to the part
11 played by the accused Vlatko Kupreskic at the time in
12 the Vitez area.
13 Third observation. It is in connection with
14 the alleged trip to Croatia on the eve and two days
15 before the 16th of April, 1993. I shall not dwell very
16 long on this because eventually the accused
17 acknowledged that he was present in Ahmici as of the
18 late afternoon of the 15th of April. However, I want
19 to stress the fact that according to me, we did not
20 receive the evidence beyond any reasonable doubt of
21 that trip. We have received no document by way of
22 evidence, no document showing that business dealings
23 had been concluded which could have attested of the
24 trip factually taking place.
25 The Court will remember that many Prosecution
1witnesses met Vlatko Kupreskic prior to the 16th of
2 April attack, during the preceding days, in the Vitez
3 area and in Ahmici, at a time when the accused claims
4 that he was away on a trip. I refer specially to
5 Witness B, who saw Vlatko Kupreskic on several
6 occasions from October '92 to April 1993 in the Vitez
7 hotel. He saw him on the last time on the 15th of
8 April in the afternoon of that day.
9 I also refer to Witness L, who lives along
10 the road close to Vlatko Kupreskic's house. Witness L
11 explained that he was coming back from Zume on foot on
12 the 15th of April. It was about 5.00 or 6.00 in the
13 afternoon. On his way home he passed in front of the
14 Sutre store and Vlatko Kupreskic's house, in front of
15 the store. He saw Vlatko Kupreskic together with other
16 people, some 10 people whom he didn't know. At the
17 balcony of Vlatko Kupreskic's house he saw soldiers.
18 Witness M saw, before dusk, on the 15th of
19 April, a truck stopping in front of Vlatko Kupreskic's
20 house; soldiers got off and entered his house. Witness
21 M's statement is corroborated by Witness O, who saw, in
22 the afternoon of the 15th of April, four to six
23 soldiers enter the yard of Vlatko Kupreskic's house.
24 Therefore, it is impossible for us to believe
25 that Vlatko Kupreskic may have returned from a business
1trip to Croatia in the evening of the 15th of April
2 knowing nothing of what was afoot.
3 We have to observe that his house and the
4 immediate surroundings were used for war preparations.
5 And even if the accused had not been otherwise
6 informed, he could not but have noticed that there were
7 war preparations, he could not but have understood the
8 meaning thereof.
9 I'd like also to show that the accused Vlatko
10 Kupreskic could not have ignored that the attackers
11 used this house in the offences directed by the HVO
12 forces against the civilian population at Ahmici. It
13 has been demonstrated through several pieces of
14 testimony that his house and its immediate surroundings
15 were used as of the very beginning of the attack and
16 throughout the day by the HVO forces.
17 His house was a base for action carried out
18 against the Muslim houses and their surroundings. It
19 was also used in order to close that trap organised
20 against those Muslim trying to escape towards Upper
21 Ahmici. We do remember that as of the very first
22 minutes of the attack, some neighbouring houses were
23 attacked. We remember that the first civilians trying
24 to escape, to flee towards Upper Ahmici, were stopped
25 in front of the accused's house in front of the Sutre
2 We do remember that during the morning of the
3 16th of April, many women were especially targeted,
4 were killed or wounded in front of his house.
5 Witness W was trapped lower down from his
6 house, was forced to stay there for three or four
7 hours, and his wife is then hit in the head by a bullet
8 and she didn't survive.
9 Witness X was too trapped in front of that
10 house, from 8.00 in the morning until noon. One of her
11 daughters was killed, another wounded, after her
12 husband had been shot in front of her very eyes on
13 another location at close range.
14 In front of that house Witness X saw Slavko
15 Sakic, son of Niko Sakic, a resident of Ahmici, who was
16 together with the soldiers.
17 Witness WB confirmed that his house was a
18 trap, where all those trying to escape from Ahmici were
19 caught, and that many soldiers were there gathered in
20 front of his house.
21 Witness WB told us that in the beginning of
22 the afternoon those soldiers could be heard
23 congratulating themselves for the good work done.
24 Major Dooley observed that around 1.30 on
25 that day, operations were launched with large-calibre
1guns, with 50-calibre, from his house. Witness N too
2 saw a large-calibre weapon positioned in front of the
3 Sutre store.
4 The accused alleged that his house was used
5 without his knowing it, and that he found it looted and
6 damaged by the soldiers. This allegation has not in
7 any way been proven in the course of the proceedings.
8 A document dated 5 April '95 shows that some damage was
9 caused to the house, but we also know that that same
10 house was burglarised on the 7th of May, 1994, and that
11 on that occasion some damage was caused to the front
12 door and the balcony.
13 The accused said that he had to leave his
14 house, which was uninhabitable after the 16th of April,
15 and that he lived after that as a refugee. However,
16 several days after the aggression, Corporal Skillen,
17 who was walking through the village, was surprised to
18 see on the balcony of Vlatko Kupreskic's house a woman
19 and a child sitting there which, and I quote the
20 witness, "appeared to be living a perfectly normal day
21 and behaving as if nothing had happened in the village
22 of Ahmici."
23 A little while later, passing in front of
24 that same home, Corporal Skillen noticed two adults in
25 uniform who had joined that woman and child on the
2 Witness G, hidden in a house not far from the
3 lower mosque, about three days after the massacre saw
4 Vlatko Kupreskic getting out of his car and entering a
5 house that had belonged to a Muslim.
6 I should also like to underline that several
7 witnesses reported the closeness between Franjo
8 Kupreskic, the father of Vlatko, and the soldiers.
9 Witness W said that after his wife had been
10 hit by a bullet below Vlatko's house early in the
11 afternoon, he addressed Franjo, asking him for a
12 wheelbarrow to transport his wife, or an instrument to
13 be able to make a stretcher. Franjo refused, but a
14 soldier asked him to agree, and Franjo gave him an axe
15 with which he could cut branches to make a stretcher.
16 The testimony of Witness X, which at the
17 beginning of the afternoon decided to surrender, if we
18 can use that word, to the soldiers accompanying her.
19 And she saw Franjo Kupreskic accompanied by HVO
20 soldiers, who was not threatened but, on the contrary,
21 quite at his ease. In fact, he was, if not in a
22 position of command, then he had a position of
23 influence over the soldiers who were deployed around
24 that house.
25 Consequently, in view of all these elements
1and the ease of the father of the accused, we cannot
2 believe that the house was used without the accused
3 knowing it.
4 We also have to confirm this, the testimony
5 of two witnesses, Witness H and Witness KL, according
6 to which, at the beginning of the morning, around 6.00
7 on the 16th of April, the accused Vlatko Kupreskic was
8 close to his house.
9 I come now to the testimony of Witness Q, who
10 was the main witness for the specific crime the accused
11 is charged with. Witness Q was living with Fata, his
12 wife, three of his children, his daughter-in-law, and
13 three children of his daughter-in-law. Between 5.20
14 and 5.30 that morning, when he was getting ready to go
15 to work, the shooting started. He rallied together his
16 family, as well as the family of his brother, and other
17 refugees joined them. He left his house and went to a
18 pantry, where they spent some time.
19 Later, around 8.00 or 8.30, forming a group
20 of 14, roughly 14 persons, forming a column, they
21 walked towards Upper Ahmici. All these people were in
22 civilian clothes. None of them had any weapons.
23 Witness Q was at the tail end of the column.
24 We have seen photographs and films of the place where
25 these events took place. We know that the path follows
1a narrow valley, that to the left there is a long hill
2 that separates the road from the house of Vlatko
3 Kupreskic, and on the right there is another hill
4 parallel with the first, but higher and longer.
5 Going upwards, these people were for a moment
6 exposed to the soldiers positioned in and around the
7 house of Vlatko Kupreskic. The group was trying to
8 climb the hill to the right, to move away from the road
9 where the danger was. When they reached the top of the
10 hill, they heard insults. Witness Q turned around and
11 saw four men close to Vlatko Kupreskic's house, three
12 soldiers in camouflage uniform who he cannot identify,
13 and the accused Vlatko Kupreskic in civilian clothing.
14 All were armed. Vlatko was carrying his weapon to the
16 After the cries, these men, the four men,
17 including the accused Vlatko Kupreskic, opened fire at
18 the group and the people who were fleeing. First of
19 all, the daughter of the witness is wounded. She
20 called her mother. Her mother retraced her steps. Her
21 mother is hit; in the same way and virtually at the
22 same time, one of the refugees who was a member of this
23 fleeing group.
24 At this moment Witness Q drags his daughter
25 towards the opposite side of the hill to shelter her
1from the shooting coming from Vlatko's house. Then he
2 comes back for his wife and drags her too to the place
3 where he had left his daughter.
4 Numerous witnesses and documents have been
5 used by the Defence to challenge the place indicated by
6 Witness Q as being the place where his wife was killed
7 and his daughter wounded.
8 In an effort to establish that at the moment
9 of shooting, the group could not be seen from the house
10 of Vlatko Kupreskic, the Defence relied on the
11 statements of Witness CF to a large extent.
12 We know that this Witness CF, who was a
13 refugee, did not know the topography of the area, and
14 the indications he gave five years later about it
15 obviously lack credibility.
16 We were able to note that the tail of
17 Witness Q regarding the path covered by the group and
18 the position of his wife and daughter, when the wife
19 was killed and the daughter wounded, were corroborated
20 by Witnesses P, R, S and T.
21 These witnesses told us that when they left
22 to flee towards Upper Ahmici, firing from high-calibre
23 weapons came from the south, that is, from the main
24 road, and the hill was exposed to risk, and that is why
25 the other path at that moment appeared to be safer.
1Furthermore, all the witnesses said that they
2 stopped at the food pantry, which is a building dug
3 into the hill, closed by a door, at 35 or 40 metres
4 from the house of Witness Q, according to the
5 statements given by Howard Tucker, an investigator of
6 the Office of the Prosecutor.
7 Leaving this place, they turned right towards
8 Upper Ahmici and not left, to retrace their steps and
9 go towards the house of Witness Q. Even for the
10 Defence, Witness CE, the wife of Witness CF, confirmed
12 Finally, Witness CF himself, when appearing
13 in the Tribunal, did not have precise memories.
14 According to a statement in 1998, they were shot at
15 from the direction of the Sutre store.
16 Is it a mistake regarding the place where the
17 people were killed and wounded, members of the family
18 of Witness Q? However, this was corroborated by the
19 discovery on the top of the hill of personal belongings
20 that Witness Q and Witness R recognised as belonging to
21 members of their family.
22 The Defence also challenged that Witness Q,
23 in view of the distance between him and the firing
24 soldiers, could have recognised the accused, Vlatko
25 Kupreskic. One can remember that Professor Wagenaar
1appeared on behalf of the Defence at the Tribunal, who
2 said that the identification of people at a distance of
3 60 metres, though possible, has a significant risk of
4 error of the order of 50 per cent. We can recall that
5 the distance separating the accused from the witness,
6 according to the statements of the witness, was
7 assessed to be 53 metres.
8 However, it seems to me that the experiments
9 on which Professor Wagenaar relies are not relevant, in
10 view of the specific situation, because, according to
11 his protocol, it was a question of recognising a
12 particular face from a photograph among different
13 photographs, and we have to note that this experimental
14 plan could not take into account, first of all, the
15 noteworthy difference that exists between recognising a
16 face on a photograph and a person in reality, in relief
17 and in colour, the size, the behaviour, the movement,
18 the gestures. Secondly, it does not take into account
19 the fact that the witness knew perfectly and for a long
20 time the person that he says he identified and that he
21 had seen him often.
22 The distance certainly is an important
23 factor, but we have not heard from the expert in which
24 circumstances it can be considered important. The work
25 of Professor Wagenaar is not of great assistance to us,
1that is true, but we know from personal experience that
2 it is easy for us to recognise somebody whom we know
3 well by his stature, his morphology, and his visual
4 features, even if we see him at a great distance.
5 I should like to add that the testimony was
6 partially corroborated by Witness S, who saw a group of
7 three soldiers and a civilian, and also that Witness Q
8 proved his credibility because there was no
9 inconsistency in his overall testimony.
10 The accused Vlatko Kupreskic presented an
11 alibi in court, and we heard several witnesses, among
12 them his wife, to confirm this alibi; however, without
13 entering into the details of the inconsistency and
14 uncertainty that exist, I should like very briefly to
15 say why we cannot believe his story.
16 First of all, there is an important discord
17 between the statement made on the 11th of June, 1998
18 and the testimony in court, especially regarding the
19 time when he reached his house and the presence of
20 soldiers in or around his house.
21 Also, very grave inconsistencies emerge
22 regarding the reason why he left his shelter and went
23 to his house. He said, in the course of his testimony,
24 that he was worried about his father, whom he had to
25 leave alone because of his health, and in a written
1letter to the Prosecutor in November 1997, the wife of
2 the accused said that her husband had received an order
3 to go to the house of Niko Sakic, where he had to care
4 for the wounded. According to the testimony heard by
5 this Court from the accused and Niko Sakic, it is,
6 indeed, in the house of the latter that the accused
7 Vlatko Kupreskic went after leaving the shelter.
8 Consequently, his concern for his father at
9 the time was not so great, as we know from other
10 witnesses of the Prosecution that the father of the
11 accused was not, under any circumstances, in any
12 danger, and his health would have allowed him, without
13 any doubt, to get to the shelter, as he did in fact in
14 the afternoon.
15 Apparently, the accused received orders to
16 take care of the wounded, and we have a last question
17 here, and that is why the accused did not appear when
18 the body of Mirjan Santic, for instance, was
19 transported towards Zume or when Nikola Omazic was
20 wounded, because neither Zoran Kupreskic, nor his
21 brother Mirjan, nor any other people accompanying them,
22 did see during that day the accused Vlatko Kupreskic.
23 So that it seems to me, in view of all these
24 inconsistencies, that we have very little idea as to
25 the real role played by the accused Vlatko Kupreskic in
1the course of that day, and everything seems to
2 indicate that he was very closely associated with the
3 HVO attack and, in any event, present in front of his
4 house when shootings were made and when some people
5 were killed and wounded.
6 In view of all these factors and evidence
7 collected by the Prosecution, which I have referred to
8 briefly, I ask the Court to find the accused guilty of
9 Counts 1, 12 to 15.
10 JUDGE CASSESE: Mr. Terrier, perhaps we can
11 take a break now, just a ten-minute break; otherwise,
12 we won't finish.
13 MR. TERRIER: Very well, Your Honour.
14 --- Recess taken at 12.13 a.m.
15 --- On resuming at 12.25 p.m.
16 MR. TERRIER: Thank you, Mr. President.
17 I now move to the charges against the accused
18 Dragan Papic.
19 I believe the Prosecutor has established that
20 he personally participated and actively participated in
21 the persecution of the civilian Muslim population of
22 Ahmici on the 16th of April.
23 Firstly, I would refer to his nationalistic
24 commitments, and I would refer to all of the
25 Prosecution witnesses, and there are many of them, who
1unanimously stated that before April 1993, they would
2 frequently see Dragan Papic wearing a black uniform and
3 with a rifle. All the witnesses also said that Dragan
4 Papic's behaviour toward them, that is, towards the
5 Muslims, was clearly threatening and intimidating.
6 Secondly, I refer to document 371, which is
7 the register of the HDZ for the period September 1991
8 to April 1992. The name of the accused as a member of
9 the HDZ party appears, as well as his signature.
10 I would also like to bring out that the
11 accused, Dragan Papic, at that time was an active
12 member of a military unit of the HVO.
13 I would refer to several people who
14 testified, specifically to the testimony received by
15 the Defence. For the Defence, the witness Zvonimir
16 Santic stated that on the 20th of October, 1992, at
17 around 8.00 in the morning, he saw Dragan Papic with an
18 M-60 mortar and a bag, and he said that he received the
19 order to go to Njive from Nenad Santic. This was
20 corroborated by the accused's defence during the
21 opening remarks.
22 It, therefore, appears that on the 20th of
23 October, 1992, the accused was executing military-type
24 orders and using a war weapon, because, of course, the
25 use of a mortar is a prerogative for the military and
1not a civilian occupation.
2 Witness B mentions a roadblock that was set
3 up in front of Ahmici, in front of Papic's house, in
4 November of 1992, and on the roadblock, you could see
5 sandbags and a machine gun. The witness met Nenad
6 Santic, Mario Cerkez, and Dragan Papic there, and
7 during those negotiations, Dragan Papic gave them the
8 command to dismantle the roadblock. Therefore, he is
9 the one who is in command, according to the statement
10 of Witness B.
11 Before the 16th of April, 1993, Dragan
12 Papic's house was frequently used as a base by the
13 armed HVO forces. It was still used in October 1992
14 because, according to the witnesses, and specifically
15 I'm referring to Witness D and to Witness Mehmed Ahmic,
16 shots could be seen coming from that house, and Mehmed
17 said that he himself had been the target of fire by an
18 automatic weapon.
19 In January 1993, the witness Fahrudin Ahmic
20 saw the accused, accompanied with other people,
21 carrying military materiel outside the house. Witness
22 B, after October 1992, saw heavy weaponry placed around
23 Dragan Papic's house. So the house was frequently used
24 as a centre for military activity.
25 Other elements put forth by the Prosecution,
1sometimes also by the Defence, establish the fact that
2 the accused belonged to a military unit, and I'm
3 referring to document D18/2, which is dated February
4 1993, in which the accused appears as part of the
5 personnel of the 2nd Vitez Brigade. Dragan Papic's
6 name appears there, with the detail that he was brought
7 into the army on the 23rd of June, 1992.
8 On the 16th of April, 1993, the accused's
9 house was used, as it was in October 1992, as a fire
10 base, as a support base, by the Croatian forces.
11 Several witnesses stated that significant military
12 activity was deployed on the 16th of April, 1993 around
13 that house. I am referring to the witness Fahrudin
14 Ahmic, who testified for the Prosecution, as well as
15 Witness A, who saw a machine gun on the 16th of April,
16 1993 near Dragan Papic's house.
17 Dragan Papic was in the village on the 16th
18 of April, 1993, and he participated in the attack
19 against the civilian Muslim population. Witness G
20 stated that during the morning of the 16th of April, on
21 the threshold of Ahmet Husein's house, Ahmet Husein's
22 body was lying on the ground and that at about 10
23 metres from him, he saw Dragan Papic standing. Dragan
24 Papic was wearing a uniform and carrying a rifle.
25 Other soldiers were near him, and the witness would see
1Dragan Papic during the afternoon together with other
3 This testimony appeared to be credible in
4 light of the fact that Witness G was very familiar with
5 Dragan Papic, since for a long time he had been a close
6 neighbour. And as regards his entire statement, the
7 witness did not contradict himself at all or
8 demonstrate any inconsistency in his testimony.
9 Witness A saw Dragan Papic on the next day,
10 that is, the 17th of April, again wearing a uniform, in
11 front of his house, next to a machine-gun, together
12 with other soldiers. And according to Witness A, the
13 accused made jokes at the expense of the Muslim
14 refugees who were being taken to a detention centre.
15 I would now tell you -- say that the Defence
16 stated through that witness, not through Dragan Papic,
17 who chose not to speak, that the accused was ignorant
18 of what was being planned there on the 16th of April,
19 and that throughout that day of 16th April he was not
20 in Ahmici but rather on the Radak Bridge, where he was
21 responsible for holding the guard.
22 First, in order to respond to that thesis of
23 the Defence, I would like to say that in giving the
24 closeness of the links between Dragan Papic and the
25 HVO, and what his role was during the October conflict
1of 1992, the fact that he used his house, this
2 so-called ignorance, it is a priori not credible at
4 His claimed presence on the Radak Bridge
5 calls for a number of observations. We received the
6 testimony of Ivo Vidovic for the Defence, who saw
7 Dragan Papic arriving at around 6.30, not from Ahmici,
8 but from Rovna, and we also heard the testimony of
9 Zvonimir Santic. Both of them, Ivo Vidovic and
10 Zvonimir Santic, said that they were there on very
11 strict orders, which included the fact that they should
12 in no way move away from the Radak Bridge.
13 Apparently, those men, those two witnesses in
14 particular, as well as the accused, who went with them,
15 on the 16th of April, in the first light of the
16 morning, had become soldiers, but during the
17 proceedings the Defence witnesses did not resolve the
18 question as to whether one could say when they become
19 soldiers. When did Nenad Santic find himself in a
20 position to give orders to Dragan Papic?
21 We remember the testimony of the younger
22 brother of the accused, Goran Papic, who said that
23 Dragan, with his family, had fled into the forest,
24 which is right next to his house, and that he had then
25 taken the women of the family to Rovna through --
1across the Radak Bridge. And when he came back, he
2 would take up his guard again. According to the
3 witness, it was not that morning, the 16th of April,
4 that his brother could have met Nenad Santic and
5 received the order that he carried out.
6 We must therefore consider that even if the
7 witness Goran Papic's credibility appears more than
8 suspect, if Dragan Papic, as the Defence claims,
9 received the instruction to set up the guard, those
10 instructions could only have been given to him before;
11 not that morning, but before that, probably the day
12 before the attack of the 16th of April.
13 It is possible that the accused spent some of
14 that day and the following days -- that is, a part of
15 the 16th of April and the following days -- on the
16 Radak Bridge but, as has been established by the
17 Prosecution witnesses, that he was in the middle of the
18 village on the 16th of April and on site for the
19 killings, and that that cannot be a question, as was
20 Husein Ahmic and the family of Witness G.
21 Therefore, the Prosecution believes that it
22 has demonstrated that the accused had associated
23 himself with the nationalistic cause of the Bosnian
24 Croats; that he was a member of the HVO forces,
25 whatever the legal basis for that association; that he
1was part of a chain of command; and that he was, by
2 necessity, informed about what was going to happen;
3 that he had evacuated his family; and that on the 16th
4 of April, 1993, he was present in uniform with a weapon
5 in Ahmici.
6 And the Prosecutor asks the Tribunal to find
7 him guilty of count number 1, that is, persecution.
8 Let me now move to the accused Drago
9 Josipovic. The Prosecution believes that it has
10 demonstrated that he had real nationalistic commitment,
11 even though by temperament he is less expressive than
12 Dragan. But his name is among the list of members of
13 the HDZ and he's got family connections which connect
14 him to members of the HVO, even if that does not
15 implicate him directly, and therefore that sets up a
16 context we cannot ignore.
17 In the same way, his involvement in the armed
18 units of the HVO has been established. We can remember
19 that the accused mentioned on the HVO register for the
20 period 8 October 1992 to the 15th of October 1995, he
21 is mentioned as reservist, and the fact that he signed
22 that -- signed that document, I don't believe was
24 As regards his involvement in the attack of
25 the 16th of April against the Ahmici Muslim civilians,
1I would bring out several factors to be taken into
3 Firstly, it is not contested that the
4 accused, on the 16th of April, in the morning, was
5 wearing a uniform, was carrying a weapon outside his
6 house when the firing began, when the attack began.
7 Many witnesses, both for the Defence and for
8 the Prosecution, have reported that fact. We do not
9 know through the Defence witnesses what led Drago
10 Josipovic to leave his house in the early morning of
11 the 16th of April before the attack began, wearing a
12 uniform and carrying a weapon, whereas he claimed that
13 he didn't know anything about what was going to
15 We do not know from the Defence witnesses
16 what led him to join up with the Witness DG and what
17 made him go to the location where the firing was coming
18 from at the time that the attack began. But we are
19 led, of course, to conclude that Drago Josipovic knew
20 what was going to happen and that he was outside,
21 wearing a uniform and with a weapon, before it began.
22 That meant that he had the intention to participate in
24 When he joined up with Witness DG, his family
25 was in a shelter, and it might have been Rovna, but we
1don't know how the family got there or when it went.
2 Witness Z has also stated that in the
3 afternoon of 16 April, around 16 hours 30, he was
4 alongside the main road. He saw Drago Josipovic at the
5 head of four men along the edge of the road, all
6 wearing camouflage units, all carrying automatic
7 weapons, and that given the fact that the witness knew
8 the accused very, very well, there is no possibility of
9 error or confusion possible, because that group of
10 soldiers was about 20 metres from him.
11 That same Witness Z also declared before the
12 Trial Chamber that shortly before getting into the
13 UNPROFOR vehicle, he saw a certain -- a person named
14 Aladin Karodzha, who was in the Ogrjev business and was
15 waving to him from the other side of the road. The
16 witness Kujawinski, a Sergeant in BritBat, took a
17 photograph of those moments and confirmed that at the
18 time that some of the refugees were getting into the
19 BritBat vehicle, he saw a very frightened young man,
20 who was able to get out of the Ogrjev building, after
21 having tried to open the door of the building without
22 succeeding, and so he was able to get through by
23 climbing -- by crawling under it.
24 We know that this Aladin Karodzha, who has
25 since deceased, later on had the occasion of telling
1under what circumstances he had found himself locked up
2 in the Ogrjev building.
3 Witness BB, who, like Witness Z, was getting
4 into one of the UNPROFOR vehicles, said that Aladin
5 Karodzha told him that Drago Josipovic had locked him
6 up in the building while he was accompanied with --
7 that they cut off the telephone lines and had
8 threatened him.
9 Another element to be evaluated by the
10 Tribunal is that it has to do with the soldiers acting
11 in that part of Ahmici came from his house. We know
12 through the statement of Witness CA and by the
13 statement of Witness CB, which shows us that the
14 accused, when he left his house on the 16th of April in
15 the morning, could not not have seen those soldiers or
16 could not not have understood what was going to happen
17 if he had not been otherwise informed.
18 It also appeared during the proceedings that
19 women and children, elderly people, who were Muslims,
20 were detained during that day of the 16th of April,
21 1993 in Witness DG's house before being transferred to
22 the Dubravica school. And we were able to see that the
23 accused Drago Josipovic participated actively in that
24 detention of refugees who were Muslims.
25 The Defence, of course, tried to bring out
1the fact that this grouping of Muslims in a house was
2 -- had been carried out for humanitarian, charitable
3 reasons. But in fact we notice that these Muslims were
4 put into a single house, and only that house and not in
5 another one, and that these Muslims in that house were
6 faced with extremely difficult conditions, according to
7 Witness DG. Thirty-eight people were put together in
8 two nine-square-metre rooms. The refugee said, the
9 witness, I quote, "Were standing up like wooden
10 matchsticks, one next to the other."
11 Witness DG and Drago Josipovic were present
12 in that house during the day of the 16th, as well as on
13 the 17th of April, that is, the next day. They would
14 come into the house, they would ask for people to --
15 men were there in order to come out, in order to go
16 collect bodies. According to Witness CA, they deferred
17 to their orders.
18 Nenad Santic also came to that house. The
19 next morning, that is, the 17th of April, everybody who
20 had been collected in there were transferred to Zume to
21 another house, and then on the next day they would be
22 transferred to the Dubravica school. So that when they
23 were in Zume, four people were called by the soldiers
24 and then disappeared forever.
25 Drago Josipovic accompanied the transfer of
1those Muslim refugees. He refused the Witness CA, who
2 had wanted to stay, refusing the right to go back to
3 his house.
4 It is possible that some refugees, some
5 Muslim refugees in the house, did not have the feeling
6 that they were being detained, and some of them in fact
7 might have even considered that after the hell of the
8 -- that they experienced in the beginning of the
9 morning, was now a refuge. But we saw that they simply
10 did not have a choice, and that is what Witness CB told
11 us: We did not have any other solution. That's all.
12 Therefore, this house was a detention centre,
13 a transit detention centre, and the accused Drago
14 Josipovic played an active role in the detention of
15 those individuals. And it is clear that by doing so he
16 played an active role in the HVO operations, which
17 demonstrates a very clear and established character of
19 And now I move to the statement of Witness
20 DD. Her son, her husband were killed, executed, while
21 Drago Josipovic was present, according to the
23 The witness stated, and you will remember,
24 Your Honours, in what circumstances her 15-year-old son
25 and her husband had been taken by the soldiers and
1executed. She stated that Drago Josipovic was on site
2 when the events occurred. She claimed that she saw her
3 face -- his face, sorry, especially so when at a given
4 moment Drago Josipovic lifted his balaclava in order to
5 wipe his forehead. She said that on two occasions she
6 heard his voice. The first time when the witness was
7 fighting with a soldier, Drago Josipovic intervened and
8 ordered the soldiers to leave her alone. It appears
9 that Drago Josipovic was then in the situation of
10 command over the soldiers together with him.
11 A second time she heard his voice when she
12 was taken to the barn. She was locked in the barn and
13 she heard his voice telling the soldiers coming from a
14 neighbouring house belonging to the Croats that she
15 should be saved. There again Drago is in a position of
16 command over the soldiers who are with him.
17 Lastly, I shall refer to the testimony of
18 Witness EE. In referring to this testimony, I refer to
19 charges against Drago Josipovic and Vladimir Santic.
20 We shall remember the testimony of Witness EE. We know
21 that the witness's house was very close to the
22 accused's house. We remember that Witness EE
23 recognised among the attackers who came to the
24 witness's house, among those people, Vladimir Santic
25 and Drago Josipovic, who were both, like the other
1soldiers, dressed in camouflage uniforms. Vladimir
2 Santic, according to the witness, was then wearing a
3 helmet. And there was another person named Zeljo
4 Livancic. We know that person. He took the husband
5 away and the witness is never to see her husband ever
7 The witness stated that in the moments
8 following the event when she left her house, which is
9 then being torched, she must have had dealings with the
10 accused Drago Josipovic, who told her where she had to
11 go, and she had to deal also with Vladimir Santic, whom
12 she saw passing by three metres away from her.
13 At dusk she saw Drago Josipovic once more in
14 uniform and armed, as well as Witness DG and DH.
15 Witness EE identified Drago Josipovic in
16 Court. She saw him very closely, she said, on several
17 occasions on the 16th and the 17th of April. He was
18 there where her husband was taken to and killed, and
19 she also saw him during the attack.
20 She said that she'd known him for a long time
21 and that therefore there was no way she could have made
22 a mistake or confused him for another person.
23 Equally, she identified Vladimir Santic, whom
24 she saw on two occasions within a very short distance
25 on that morning. And she knew that person very well.
1According to the Prosecution, as to the main
2 aspects of her testimony, the witness showed that she
3 was a credible witness. It is our submission that of
4 course it is up to the Trial Chamber to assess the
5 witness's credibility and testimony. We know that her
6 statement is being challenged by the Defence, which
7 brings out mainly that she mentioned three people who
8 could not possibly be present, according to the
9 Defence, on the 16th of April. I have in mind Stipo
10 Alilovic, Zeljo Livancic and Marinko Katava.
11 The only thing I want to stress as regards
12 Stipo Alilovic is that no evidence has been adduced
13 during the trial, especially not by the Defence
14 witnesses. It has not been established therefore that
15 Stipo Alilovic, who was together with his family in
16 Amsterdam and had been there since March '92, it was
17 not established by the Defence that that man could not
18 have left Holland to go back to Bosnia in the beginning
19 of '93, especially around April '93.
20 The Tribunal will assess this element, as
21 well as the scope and the relevance of Witness CD's
22 statement. Witness CD said here that Marinko Katava
23 was in Vitez on the 16th of April, around 5.30, and the
24 witness said that they saw this man again later in the
1We shall not go into further speculations;
2 however, we maintain that as regarding Zeljo Livancic,
3 we have gathered enough evidence, which came also from
4 Defence witnesses, to establish that in a very likely
5 way, almost certainly, Zeljo Livancic was present on
6 the morning of the 16th of April in Ahmici and was
7 involved in the attack carried out by the HVO against
8 the civilian population of Ahmici.
9 At any rate, with regard to the points I have
10 just mentioned, the credibility of Witness EE is not
12 With regard to Drago Josipovic, we have
13 specific evidence, corroborating evidence. We have
14 shown that, through his involvement, he had a personal
15 and active part in the action and operations carried
16 out against civilians in Ahmici. He had a very active
17 and personal commitment and participation in the
18 illegal detention of Muslims and also in the murder of
19 the husband of Witness EE. He was present on-site when
20 members of Witness DD's family were taken away and
22 From the testimony of witnesses, it appears
23 that Drago Josipovic was fully aware of why he was
24 there, he was fully aware of the fate of Witness EE and
25 Witness DD's family members, and that, therefore, in
1full knowledge, he contributed to the achievement of
2 the criminal intention of the attackers.
3 I am now moving to speak about the accused
4 Vladimir Santic.
5 Obviously, he is different from the other
6 accused, in as much as he's not a resident of Ahmici on
7 the one hand, and on the other hand, at the time, at
8 the relevant times, he has very relevant military
9 duties and responsibilities. He has a commanding role
10 which has been established and demonstrated and was not
11 challenged by the Defence.
12 I am of the opinion that we can conclude that
13 this career police officer, HVO military police member,
14 was a commander of the 4th Company of the military
15 police battalion since 1993, including the
16 anti-terrorist platoon called the Jokers.
17 Many witnesses heard in court, many documents
18 tendered into evidence, have demonstrated the military
19 commanding role played by Vladimir Santic. I
20 especially refer to the testimony of Witness AA, who
21 was a subordinate of the accused and who stated to this
22 Court that Vladimir Santic was a very strict commander,
23 had a very tight grip over the units under his orders,
24 and especially so over the unit which was to be called
25 the Jokeri, or Jokers.
1Also, the accused acknowledged that Anto
2 Furundzija was the leader of the Jokers. According to
3 Witness AA, it was proved that Anto Furundzija, the
4 head of the Jokeri platoon, could not act if he did not
5 have the approval or the orders of Vladimir Santic, who
6 was the company commander, and that Vladimir Santic was
7 very, very close to his men and also was to be seen in
8 the Bungalow.
9 On the basis of such facts, and to
10 corroborate them, we have some of the written orders
11 issued by Vladimir Santic. I refer to Exhibit 390. We
12 also have, and this is important, we have the evidence
13 showing that Vladimir Santic exerted disciplinary
14 powers over his men whenever he thought that necessary
15 or suitable. We also know that following -- before the
16 16th of April, as well as on the 16th of April,
17 Vladimir Santic was present, he was seen in the
18 Bungalow, together with his men belonging to the Jokeri
20 We equally know that Vladimir Santic did not
21 carry out his command responsibilities in an impartial
22 way, with the necessary concern that he should have had
23 regarding his public duties. He was described by
24 Witness AA as very indulgent, if not absolutely
25 passive, in the face of serious crimes and repeated
1crimes, such as looting and burglaries committed at the
2 expense of the Muslims, often by members of his unit.
3 We shall remember the very serious incident
4 of the arrest of Miroslav Bralo, who was accused of
5 killing Sakic. Bralo was arrested, detained for some
6 time at the Kaonik prison in comfortable conditions,
7 and he was then released with the passive or active
8 cooperation of Vladimir Santic.
9 Let us speak about the part played by the
10 Jokeri during the day in Ahmici. It was established by
11 testimony, not only of victims of the attack -- we have
12 heard Abdulah Ahmic, Witness A, Witness E, F, C, A, and
13 GG -- but also by members of the BritBat who entered
14 Ahmici or passed by the Bungalow on that day.
15 I refer to the testimony of Andre Kujawinski,
16 who saw in front of the Bungalow on that afternoon many
17 soldiers drinking and rejoicing, and he thought that
18 they were involved in the attack carried out on
19 Ahmici. We also remember the testimony of Lee
20 Whitworth, who later came across men from the Bungalow
21 and who had the feeling that, implicitly, the Jokers
22 claimed the authorship and their victory, their
23 so-called military victory over Ahmici.
24 Vlado Santic was present in Ahmici, together
25 with this man. That has been established as well
1beyond any reasonable doubt, particularly so by the
2 submissions or by the observations of Asim Dzambasovic,
3 by referring to the principles which govern the
4 functioning of armies in all the countries of the
5 world, explaining that a platoon leader, such as Anto
6 Furundzija, can address his hierarchy only through his
7 company commander and that all orders given to a
8 platoon can only be done so through the company
9 commander. The company commander also has the duty to
10 watch over the good execution of the orders he gives
11 and that, for that purpose, he has to be on the ground
12 with his men.
13 Starting from these elementary principles
14 applicable in all armies, we must conclude, first, that
15 the illegal orders were given to the Jokers; secondly,
16 that those orders were given by or through the
17 intermediary of the accused Vlado Santic and, of
18 course, that there may be no written trace of them;
19 thirdly, that a company commander can only accompany
20 his men on the ground, which means that in this case,
21 he had to be physically present on the 16th of April,
22 1993 in Ahmici.
23 Consequently, in view of his responsibilities
24 as the leader of the 1st Company of the 4th Military
25 Police Battalion, Vlado Santic was closely involved in
1facts of persecution and ethnic cleansing of Muslim
2 civilians of Ahmici. He gave the orders; that is, at
3 least if he received general directives, he transmitted
4 them, in spite of their clearly illegal character, and
5 completed the orders for the implementation.
6 But his contribution is even greater because
7 the accused was present on the 16th of April, early in
8 the morning, in front of the house of Witness EE and
9 together with his men.
10 I have already reviewed the testimony of
11 Witness EE, and I will not go back to it, but I wish
12 just to refer, concerning the role of Vlado Santic,
13 that the statements of Witness EE were corroborated,
14 first, by the fact that Witness CA reported that
15 Witness EE, as soon as he arrived in the collection and
16 detention centre, mentioned the name of the accused
17 Vladimir Santic as being one of the persons that she
18 saw near her house at the moment that her husband was
19 killed; secondly, Witness CB, called by the Defence,
20 also said in a clear and formal manner that she
21 remembered that Witness EE mentioned, on the 16th of
22 April, the name of Vlado Santic, who came in front of
23 her door and who refused to answer her question when
24 Witness EE asked, "What are you doing here, Vlado?"
25 A last element of evidence which I should
1like to submit, the Prosecution has submitted a video
2 film, Exhibit 253; it is a film made around the
3 Bungalow, and on this film, we see the accused.
4 Witness AA recognised categorically the place where the
5 film was shot, that is, the Bungalow, and formally
6 identified the accused Vladimir Santic. As noted on
7 the film itself, it was taken on the 16th of April, in
8 the evening.
9 We know that the Defence witness Biletic said
10 that he saw the accused in the Bungalow, surrounded by
11 his men, on the 16th of April.
12 In view of the charges against the accused, I
13 do not believe that the Defence was able to prove the
14 alibi that it alleged to be supported by Witness Ivica
15 Franjic and Davor Biletic. Ivica Franjic spoke of the
16 presence of the accused in Vitez at 6.30, and in view
17 of the short distance between Vitez and Ahmici, this
18 did not prevent him from being, at the beginning of the
19 attack, in front of the witness's house.
20 As for Witness Davor Biletic, I draw
21 attention to the inconsistencies and certain odd
22 moments of his testimony which have to be viewed with
23 great precaution. If the witness was present in the
24 Hotel Vitez, which he remembers, he is supposed to have
25 forgotten everything else that happened that morning
1and all the circumstances of that day.
2 Consequently, I do not think that Davor
3 Biletic can be in a position to contribute useful
4 testimony to the Court and, above all, that his
5 testimony is not sufficient to discredit the evidence
6 of the Prosecution.
7 Therefore, I ask the Court to find Vladimir
8 Santic to be guilty, by the orders he gave and the
9 responsibilities he had and the personal actions he
10 committed, for Counts 1 and Counts 16 to 19.
11 I said at the beginning of my closing
12 statement, Mr. President and Your Honours, that the
13 Prosecution wanted to say what they thought should be
14 the penalties handed down to each of the accused. In
15 view of the limited time I have left, and the time for
16 the questions, I refer you to the written submission of
17 the Prosecution regarding the criteria that should be
18 taken into account when determining the sanctions that
19 should be handed down to each of the accused.
20 As regards Dragan Papic, Dragan Papic, was he
21 the person that Captain Stevens recognised on the 21st
22 of April, 1993, his satisfaction that he expressed for
23 the death of the Muslims? I wish simply to underline
24 that, in view of the evidence against him, his
25 character, his fanatic commitment, the fact is, to say
1the least, plausible.
2 For the period prior to the massacre and the
3 16th of April, 1993, the accused was zealously involved
4 in HVO activities, intimidating the Muslim population
5 of Ahmici, contributing significantly to the increase
6 of tensions and insecurity. He lent his house to the
7 attacker, which turned it into a logistics base and a
8 kind of headquarters. He was active. He executed
9 orders given to him by the HVO command. He was present
10 where the killings took place. But the Prosecution
11 bears in mind the fact that no specific killing has
12 been attributed to him. Therefore, the Prosecution
13 recommends a penalty of around eight years of imprisonment.
14 Vlatko Kupreskic, I don't think that we will
15 know truly what was the extent of his role and his real
16 involvement in the actions of the HVO. At least we
17 know, without any doubt, that he was not an honest
18 businessman, totally preoccupied with his business, as
19 he pretends to be.
20 The Prosecution has shown his relationships
21 with the HVO; that he was necessarily associated with
22 the preparations for the attack and that he actively
23 contributed, without any risk to the success of the
24 attacker; that he gave assistance, at least material
25 assistance, allowing the use of his house; that he was
1together with other soldiers and he personally shot at
2 a group of Muslims consisting of women, children, and
3 elderly; and that he was a co-perpetrator of the death
4 of a mother and a young girl. We, therefore, recommend
5 the penalty of around 12 years' imprisonment.
6 Zoran Kupreskic, who claims to be devoted to
7 peace between the communities; however, the evidence of
8 the Tribunal shows that he was, in fact, far from
9 neutral. Quite to the contrary. He was actively
10 involved in favour of the Croatian cause, and he had a
11 role of responsibility. He took no steps to warn his
12 neighbours and friends, Muslims, to save them, and a
13 few months before, he signed a request demanding them
14 to disarm and guaranteeing their security.
15 The Prosecution has established that he took
16 an active and, perhaps, a determining role in the
17 aggression of the 16th of April, and, as Witness JJ
18 said, if he had any remorse, he did not convey it to
19 the Judges. But he knows what he did, and according to
20 the view of the Prosecution, he killed, persecuted,
21 without even wishing to save two children. The killing
22 of those two children is not only the product of ethnic
23 cleansing but logic, to cut the line of generation.
24 If the Judges of the Tribunal have been
25 convinced by the evidence of the Prosecution regarding
1the responsibility of the accused, the Prosecution
2 recommends a penalty which should not be less than 20
3 years of imprisonment.
4 The Prosecution submits that the involvement
5 of Mirjan Kupreskic is equal to that of his brother
6 Zoran. He was closely associated with the HVO forces
7 and shared their military and political objectives.
8 Like his brother, he did not warn his friends, not even
9 his best friend Fahrudin. When he entered the house,
10 Witness KL, accompanied by his brother, he knows what
11 to -- what he would find because he knew all the
12 members of that family and he didn't spare anyone, not
13 even the children.
14 But the Prosecution will understand that the
15 Tribunal may consider that the accused was under the influence of his brother, who
16 was older and more instructed and had a high degree of
17 responsibility in the HVO command.
18 If the Tribunal shares the view of the
19 Prosecution regarding the position of this accused, the
20 Prosecution recommends a penalty that will not be less
21 than 15 years of imprisonment.
22 As regards Drago Josipovic, we know by his
23 family surroundings and also by conviction that the
24 accused was closely linked to the HVO authorities from
25 the very first hours of the Bosnian Croat adventure.
1He was necessarily involved in the attack, the
2 preparation of the attack, and clearly also in the
3 execution of that attack. He was present when a number
4 of killings took place. He was the co-perpetrator of
5 two killings, one of a young adolescent.
6 According to the testimony heard, he had a
7 position of authority and influence over the people in
8 his -- together with him. He took part in the
9 detention of more than 30 Muslims thrown out of their
10 houses and deported outside their village.
11 The Prosecution recommends a penalty of around 15
12 years of imprisonment.
13 Vladimir Santic, among all the accused, has
14 the greatest criminal responsibility. A man of
15 authority, of experience and power. He was necessarily
16 and closely involved in the preparation of the attack
17 and in its execution. His position of command, his
18 hierarchical position, indicates that he was perfectly
19 aware as to what would happen. He was fully conscious
20 of his role. He was present on the 16th of April with
21 his men in Ahmici. He headed them and thus encouraged
23 He was also present with his men after the
24 16th of April, thereby approving their acts. And as a
25 former police officer, knowing the law and the
1characteristics of crimes, he is in a better position
2 than any of the accused to be aware of the criminal
3 nature of his behaviour, and the criminal nature of the
4 behaviour of the men that participated in the attack.
5 The Prosecution recommends a penalty of around 30
6 years of imprisonment.
7 I would now like to say some very brief
8 concluding words. We can remember at the very
9 beginning of this trial we showed a video, and in the
10 video you could see a British soldier, an anonymous
11 British soldier, who was in Ahmici when some of the
12 charred bodies were discovered. And he expresses
13 indignation, his disgust, and his protest when he said,
14 "This is 1993, not 1943." And these words are perhaps
15 the strongest and most violent of those that we heard
16 throughout this trial. But it is not only the
17 observation of that soldier which takes us back to the
18 past. We have a great many echoes in this trial of
19 what happened in that region of Europe about 50 years
20 ago. Whether it be the 16th of April of 1941 when Ante
21 Pavelic went back to Zagreb from his exile in Italy in
22 order to take over the leadership of the sinister
23 enterprise of the Ustashes, that may be a coincidence.
24 But it is obviously significant that the HVO Zenica
25 brigade took the name of Jure Francetic.
1Defence witness Jadranka Tolic, a member of
2 that brigade, said that Francetic was a historical
3 person under whose patronage they had placed
4 themselves, but he said he did not know anything
5 further than that.
6 It is well-known that Francetic was the head
7 of an Ustashes unit known as the Black unit, which
8 sowed terror in eastern Bosnia through its acts against
9 the civilian populations. In fact, by showing this
10 same hegemonic resolve, the same nationalistic and
11 historical references, the same resolve to appropriate
12 territories exclusively of violence of the same type,
13 the same content for individuals belonging to other
14 communities, some Bosnian Croats, and I am saying not
15 all of the Bosnian Croats, some of them connected those
16 two periods of history of 1943 and 1993.
17 Justice was not rendered against those
18 responsible for the Ustashes crimes. So that history
19 not repeat itself, we have this Tribunal.
20 Thank you Mr. President. I have finished.
21 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you very much,
22 Mr. Terrier.
23 I am sure that you are very tired, but I
24 would like to ask you a question about a problem which
25 was pointed out by the Defence.
1In the brief which you filed last week,
2 accused Zoran and Mirjan Kupreskic, among other things,
3 of the murder of the father of Witness H. And perhaps
4 you would remember that on the 3rd of September I had
5 asked that same question of your colleague
6 Mr. Moskowitz when I asked him whether the Prosecution
7 was going to bring charges, a specific charge that is,
8 against the two accused in respect of that murder. And
9 at that time Mr. Moskowitz said, "Yes, we had thought
10 about bringing a specific charge, but we decided not to
11 ask that the indictment be amended. In any case, you
12 will take into account the evidence that we have
13 presented." And I have in front of me the relevant
14 pages of the transcript. These are pages 1.696 FF.
15 And he added, "And you must decide to what
16 extent one could take into account that evidence as
17 regards persecution."
18 All right. Now, here is my question: What
19 is your position now about that murder? I repeat. In
20 the written brief you accused the two accused of that
21 murder, which, however, does not appear officially, in
22 the indictment. To what extent can the Tribunal take
23 into account the charges that were not actually
24 formulated in an official way in the indictment itself,
25 but which were put forth during the trial?
1MR. TERRIER: Mr. President, I will answer
2 you analogously as -- like the way Mr. Moskowitz said
3 for the Prosecution, and which you've just recalled.
4 It is true that the murder of Witness H's father is not
5 in the indictment. It is true that the evidence, at
6 least this is the point of view of the Prosecution,
7 that the evidence that was presented to the Tribunal
8 shows that most probably one or the other of the
9 accused, Zoran and Mirjan, both of them were near it
10 when that happened. But we do not say that they
11 themselves are the perpetrators of that murder. We do
12 not know who were the ones who killed Witness H's
14 However, we do know that the two accused,
15 according to the Prosecution evidence, were there.
16 Therefore, according to the point of view that I am
17 expressing today, it seems to me that it is pursuant to
18 the charge of persecution that this aspect of the --
19 both of their behaviours can be taken into account, the
20 behaviour in front of Witness H's house, not as a
21 specific crime which could be ascribed to them
22 personally, but we have a more reliable source, and
23 this is the point of view of the Prosecution, is that
24 they were in the house a few moments after Witness H's
25 father was murdered, and the exchange that took place
1there between the two accused and the Witness H.
2 Therefore, my answer to the question,
3 Mr. President, goes back to the one which was already
4 given to you by Mr. Moskowitz.
5 JUDGE CASSESE: Well, very well. Well, let
6 me ask you another question then. Therefore, you are
7 suggesting that we take into account, assuming that the
8 Trial Chamber is convinced by the Prosecution evidence,
9 that you want this --
10 MR. TERRIER: Well, more specifically, the
11 Prosecution suggests to the Trial Chamber to take into
12 account, pursuant to Count number 1, persecution, the
13 behaviour of the accused, in front of and inside
14 Witness H's house, as it appeared through the
15 Prosecution's evidence, which the Tribunal, of course,
16 will evaluate.
17 Once again, we cannot state -- we know that
18 Witness H's father was shot, was executed on that
19 location at that time, in front of his house. We also
20 know that the accused, Zoran and Mirjan Kupreskic, were
21 a few metres away from there, but we do not know any
22 more about what their role was in that execution.
23 However, we do know through Witness H what their role
24 was in Witness H's house, and lastly, pursuant to
25 persecutions that were carried out against that
2 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you. We still have a
3 few moments left. I have a few other questions. I
4 just ask one that has to do with what you said today
5 about the attack -- the armed attack and the lack of
6 resistance on the part of the Muslims. You added or,
7 rather, you noted that there were two Croats who were
8 wounded and another Croat, a Croatian soldier who was
9 killed. There was also testimony here, speaking about
10 the fact that they fired -- that they were participants
11 in at least a certain number of combat activities. How
12 can you explain that there was this minimum number of
13 exchange of rifle fire and between a group of armed
14 civilians and the Croatian soldiers?
15 MR. TERRIER: What the Prosecution is saying
16 about this question, Mr. President, is as follows: We
17 do not preclude the fact that some of the inhabitants
18 -- the Muslim inhabitants in Ahmici who might have had
19 personal weapons did not put up some degree of
20 resistance against the attack in order to protect their
21 homes and their families. We do know specifically what
22 I believe we were told by Witness V.
23 We do not preclude the fact that some type of
24 resistance was put forth against the aggressor, but we
25 do say that any resistance was very localised; that it
1was the result of civilians who were attempting to
2 protect their property and their families. It did not
3 last, that is the resistance did not last, and that in
4 the end it really did not prevent anything in that
5 attack. Perhaps it delayed things by a few moments
6 near Grabovi, but it did not prevent anything.
7 As regards the Croatian victims, we know
8 through HVO documents, not through testimony,
9 Prosecution testimony, but HVO documents that two
10 people who lived in Ahmici and who were members of the
11 Vitez Brigade battalion were wounded during that
12 action. We have no other details as to the
13 circumstances in which they were wounded, of course.
14 We were told that the person named Mirjan
15 Santic was killed. We have no documentary evidence
16 about the fact that the death took place in Ahmici on
17 that day, aside from a book which has been devoted to
18 the glory of the military police of the HVO. The
19 official documents do not mention the death of Marijan
20 Santic in Ahmici that day. But we do not exclude the
21 possibility that this may have taken place.
22 In any case, if it did take place, it is
23 through personal resistance carried out by several
24 citizens, resistance which was not organised, which was
25 spot specific. It did not last, and which did not
2 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you very much. I think
3 we can now adjourn. And we'll see you tomorrow at
5 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at
6 1.28 p.m., to be reconvened on
7 Wednesday, the 10th day of November,
8 1999, at 9.00 a.m.