1 Friday, 3 June 2005
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 9.03 a.m.
5 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Topolski.
6 MR. TOPOLSKI: Your Honour, I did have an application, but upon
7 my client's specific instructions I no longer have an application to make
8 this morning.
9 JUDGE PARKER: I see.
10 MR. TOPOLSKI: Mr. Musliu wishes to stay in court to hear this
11 witness. Thank you for your indulgence.
12 JUDGE PARKER: With full attendance, we can mark the roll and
13 carry on.
14 Mr. Mansfield.
15 MR. MANSFIELD: Yes. Good morning, Your Honours. The next
16 witness and, Your Honours, may be glad to know the last witness for --
17 live witness for Mr. Limaj is Fadil Bajraktari.
18 [The witness entered court]
19 JUDGE PARKER: Good morning. Would you please read allowed the
20 affirmation on the card that is given to you now.
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will
22 speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
23 JUDGE PARKER: Please sit down.
24 WITNESS: FADIL BAJRAKTARI
25 [Witness answered through interpreter]
1 JUDGE PARKER: Are you able to receive a translation of what I'm
2 saying to you?
3 There seems to be an issue there. Could that be attended to.
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It is okay. I receive.
5 JUDGE PARKER: Do you have a translation now?
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. Yes, now I do.
7 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you. Mr. Mansfield, you're on air.
8 MR. MANSFIELD: Thank you.
9 Examined by Mr. Mansfield:
10 Q. Mr. Bajraktari, I'm over here. I represent Mr. Fatmir Limaj who
11 is sitting behind me. I speak slowly because there is an interpreter,
12 and if you could do the same. It is easier in that manner.
13 A. Yes, I will.
14 Q. I want to ask you a series of questions. I'll take them in
15 chronological order. First of all, is it right that you were born in
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. And can you tell us where you were born?
19 A. I was born in Pristina.
20 Q. And have you always lived in Pristina since that time?
21 A. No, no. I have lived in my village in Kishna Reka, Drenas
23 Q. Now, for how long did you live in that -- have you lived in that
25 A. In Pristina I started to live after 1994, whereas in the village
1 I lived from -- since when I was a child until then.
2 Q. I want to ask you a little about the situation in 1998. What was
3 your work at that time?
4 A. At the time, I was a student at the faculty of philology,
5 Albanian literature and language.
6 Q. And did you do any work as a journalist at all?
7 A. No. Not in 1998.
8 Q. When did you start doing work as a journalist?
9 A. I started work as a journalist in 1999 after the establishment of
10 Kosova Press news agency.
11 Q. Now, I want to ask you about, therefore, the time before that
12 when you were, in 1998, forced to live in the mountains. That's what --
13 the period I want to ask about. First of all, when did that happen?
14 A. Yes. After the massacres that occurred in Likoshan, Qirez, and
15 then in Prekaz, I was in Pristina. I returned to my village to stay with
16 my family and to follow the reality that was created at that time. And
17 ever since, after the war, I remained there.
18 Q. And how many members of your family were there?
19 A. We were an extended family, because after the outbreak of the
20 war, my sisters who were married and were living elsewhere came and
21 joined us to the village because they felt safer there. So we had
22 children, only children we had 14 beginning from the age of 11, children
23 of my brothers and sisters. It was rather hard for us to cope.
24 Q. Now, can you just describe, before we get to the meeting with
25 Fatmir Limaj, can you just describe the conditions under which yourself
1 and your family were living?
2 A. You want to know the conditions after we went to the mountains?
3 Q. Yes, please.
4 A. Okay. The conditions of my family were the same as those of the
5 other citizens who had taken to the mountains. They were very difficult
6 indeed. It was a miserable situation for all of us, and we didn't know
7 whether we would be able to make it for the next day. We were living in
8 some makeshift places using some timber, some nylon tents. It was there
9 we stayed, prepared our food. It was in good and in bad weather we were
10 staying there. When we went to the mountains it was August, September
11 and November. During that time we remained there. And in September,
12 October, and early November the weather worsens. Sometimes it even
13 snows. The weather conditions and all the conditions in general were
14 very difficult, but they were more so for the children, because you can
15 imagine children were very young until 11 years old. The eldest of them
16 was my nephew. So for them it was very hard.
17 If you want to have a realistic idea of what we went through, I
18 have a picture of my nephew who was born in the month of May of 1999, and
19 due to lack of food and proper hygienic conditions for a baby to grow up,
20 you can see in the picture I have for yourselves what Your Honours think
21 it would be a proper idea of showing it.
22 Q. Well, just for the moment if you -- we already have some
23 photographs. If you can just describe the condition of that particular
24 child you obviously have in mind. Just describe it, if you wouldn't
1 A. The condition of that small baby was very difficult. He lacked
2 foodstuffs. He left -- he missed everything for a normal life. Just a
3 fact. He was born over four kilos, and in the seventh month of his life
4 he weighed 1.7 kilogrammes. So you can imagine being born four
5 kilogrammes when he was seven months old, he was only 1.7 kilogrammes.
6 He was only a heap of bones, nothing more.
7 Q. I want to come to the time when you met Fatmir Limaj. Do you
8 remember, first of all, when that was roughly?
9 A. Yes. Roughly it was by the mid-September.
10 Q. And where was that?
11 A. That was in the valley of our village where the population had
12 taken shelter. That is in the valley of Kishna Reka village. It is
13 situated or it is next to the Berisha Mountains.
14 Q. And can you give Their Honours a rough idea of how many people
15 we're dealing with here that were sheltering in that way?
16 A. We are talking about 1998. There were, I believe, over 4.000
17 only in that valley. I mean, inhabitants of our village and of some
18 other villages who had fled from their respective villages. They were
19 from Orlat, Terpeze and other villages, and they had taken shelter there.
20 Q. Now, had you ever met Fatmir Limaj before that time that you met
22 A. No. No, I didn't.
23 Q. Just describe the situation of the meeting. What happened?
24 A. When he first came, I didn't see him, but I saw him when he was
25 talking with some villagers. He was with some other soldiers. Out of
1 curiosity, I went near to see what they were talking about. What made me
2 join the talk, the conversation, with Fatmir, whose name I didn't know
3 and who I didn't know other than as a soldier of the KLA - that was the
4 impression he gave me from his look and from his conversation - I was
5 impressed at the way he looked at the children who were barefooted. It
6 was the spring nearby. It was a muddy place. You can imagine because of
7 the water flowing it was a muddy place and the children were walking
8 barefoot. So I felt very sad looking at the children and the villagers,
9 seeing in what conditions they were living, and I saw that he shared the
10 same sadness. I could see it in his look.
11 I started to talk with him after some conversations we had in
12 which he showed an interest in the conditions of the villagers who were
13 living in, whether they had food, whether they had clothes to wear, how
14 they were living. He asked me whether there were people with higher
15 education there, and I said yes, and then, "Why are you asking me?" And
16 then he replied, "Because it would be a good idea if we could organise
17 some sort of education for the children even though we don't have the
18 conditions for a proper school and education, but in this way at least
19 the children would have a place to go and something to do other than just
20 live in dread of being shelled and killed. So during part of the day
21 they can learn something."
22 Q. Now, what happened about this idea that he spoke about with you?
23 A. That was a very good idea in fact, an idea which I really liked.
24 So I asked him, "What shall we do?" And he promised me to see if he
25 could find some possibilities of providing us with some book -- books,
1 some pencils, some notebooks or something else. After three or four
2 days, the people there built the school -- school, a makeshift school,
3 actually, with whatever we could have there, and we received notebooks
4 and pencils for the children.
5 Q. And what role did you play, if any, in this? What did you do
7 A. My role in all this was that of a teacher. I taught the kids.
8 Q. Did you see Fatmir again about these matters on more than one
10 A. I didn't see him for the -- this particular topic, that is to
11 talk about the school and the teaching, but -- but when I saw him I asked
12 him, "What are we going to do? We don't have any curricula. Do you have
13 any ideas?" And then he said, "Yes. You must teach them as much as you
14 can in these circumstances from the books you have, but should pay
15 special attention to keep them busy and divert their attention from the
16 fear of death," which was a constant fear with them.
17 Q. During this time were there attacks by the Serbs nearby which you
18 could hear or see?
19 A. Yes. At that time all the time we were staying there there were
20 constant attacks. There was constant shelling, because we were in the
21 valley. So it was only shelling that could reach us or close to us. It
22 wasn't light gunfire that could reach us. We were never calm because of
23 that situation.
24 I have a CD here. I have recorded something from that time about
25 the conditions where we lived and how we lived.
1 Q. Did Fatmir ever come and visit the school once it was up and
2 running and speak to you or the pupils there?
3 A. Yes, he did come.
4 Q. Can you just tell us a bit about that, please.
5 A. He came a few days after we had started our lessons. He said he
6 was sorry to intervene in the lesson, but he said he wanted to know how
7 the lessons were going and how the children were doing. But we welcomed
8 him. We were very happy he was there. Not only him but we welcomed any
9 other soldier of the KLA. The children were distressed and their
10 conditions were very bad, so whoever came to visit us, we considered that
11 a great contribution because the children could see that there are
12 soldiers who can protect us and the Serbs cannot do anything to us. It
13 was important for him to speak to them and give them hope and help them,
14 and help them get their fear [as interpreted] of the Serbs and of death.
15 The children had seen on television about what the Serbs had
16 done, so the children had created an idea that if the Serbs would come,
17 they would kill them immediately. At the same time, they had heard about
18 the Delijaj massacre in Obrinje, and I think they had seen some
19 photographs that a journalist, an American journalist had made. Among
20 the victims in the photographs there was a two-year-old child, so the
21 children were terribly scared. And they were scared -- they feared that
22 they would have the same fate if the Serbs came.
23 Then the -- then Fatmir spoke with me. He asked me about the
24 conditions, where the children were living and studying, and whether the
25 children were getting used to the idea that they would have lessons every
1 day, whether they were forgetting about this fear. He smiled to the
2 children, and that was important. He was very polite to them and to me.
3 He apologised for intervening and then he left.
4 Q. Now, you dealt with obviously fear, protection, education. I
5 just want to ask you about food. Did he help with that?
6 A. The situation was very difficult because the citizens had left
7 their homes unprepared. They had taken what they could at the moment
8 because the Serb offensive that August morning, it was a very swift
9 action on the part of the Serbs. The morning was very foggy. It was
10 very early morning. We couldn't see anything that morning. Only when we
11 heard the shelling coming towards us the villagers understood that they
12 were surrounded. So you can imagine -- you can imagine what could the
13 villagers take in half an hour while the developing was going on.
14 So the food situation was very, very difficult, because it was
15 also the beginning for us, and the citizens did not know what they had to
16 take with themselves. They didn't know for how long they would stay in
17 the mountains, whether they would be in the mountains for a long time or
18 whether the Serb forces would come there and chase them away. So this
19 was the situation. They did not think of anything else, no luxuries.
20 They only wanted a piece of bread. That's what they wanted, just to
22 Q. And are you aware of how Fatmir helped with the basic
24 A. Yes. This is still the period of August 1998. In September, as
25 I told you, Fatmir showed his interest about our situation, and a few
1 days later some food came on a lorry. There was pasta, food, some sugar
2 and salt. And Fatmir said, "This is all I can do. I can't do more about
3 these people here."
4 People lived in those mountains and valleys all through 1999, and
5 later there was better organisation on the part of the KLA because during
6 winter months they had collected food supplies for the citizens and the
7 villagers in order for them to be well supplied during the war.
8 Q. Now, I want to ask you just briefly to look at some photographs.
9 MR. MANSFIELD: Your Honours have this series of photographs. I
10 think there are six. If you could just -- yes.
11 If these photographs could be put on the ELMO, please.
12 MR. NICHOLLS: Sorry, could I just ask which batch those are.
13 MR. MANSFIELD: It's the last batch, and I think its 3.
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This one is a photograph of me. It
15 was made -- it was taken in front of the school.
16 MR. MANSFIELD:
17 Q. Just so that it's on the -- sorry, it has to be recorded. So
18 this one is in fact, I think, numbered photograph 1.
19 MR. MANSFIELD: And Your Honours have it at the top of the first
21 Q. So that's photograph 1. And now would you go to photograph 2.
22 It's on the bottom of the first page of the photocopy.
23 Can you just describe what this is?
24 A. Yes. This is a photograph that I took. Sorry, it was a
25 photograph taken by a reporter of the TVSH, which is the Albanian
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 television. It is the photograph of the school. This is a photograph
2 that was taken before the lesson started. This is the school. This is
3 the place where the lessons were held.
4 There were only two classes that we organised, one on the left
5 and one on the right. There were more children than there are here in
6 the photograph.
7 Q. About how many children were you teaching?
8 A. There were 300 pupils in that school more or less.
9 Q. And can we see you, in fact, in this photograph? Are you
10 pictured in it?
11 A. Yes, in other pictures, not here.
12 Q. Can you go to the next one, number 3?
13 A. Yes, yes.
14 Q. At the top of our second page. Can you describe this scene to
15 us, please.
16 A. This photograph shows part of the place where the citizens lived.
17 You can see it's a makeshift place where they lived. The conditions were
18 very, very difficult. You can see there's a nylon tent here where the
19 people lived. Where the child is you can see that place. There's a
20 source of water where we got our water from. It was very muddy here, so
21 not many people lived in this particular place. It's only a corner of
22 the area where the people lived.
23 Q. Could you put up, please, number 4, which is at the bottom of the
24 second page.
25 A. So this is the other photograph. It's again part of the place
1 where the citizens lived. You can see that there are more tents here, so
2 more people lived here.
3 Look at the children. That's what they did all about, moving
4 about in the mud here. And the idea to have them organised in some kind
5 of school was a very good idea. I still get emotional now when I think
6 about it, because there were so many children who came to that school.
7 These children now are seven or eight -- seven years older, and now they
8 live in good conditions. And they still remember me, and they call me
9 the teacher of the mountains, and they hug me whenever they see me. And
10 it was Fatmir's idea for me to become the teacher of the mountains. So
11 this is his humane spirit. He has a grand spirit, a humane spirit. He
12 was great.
13 Q. Now, photograph number 5 on the last page of our photocopy,
15 A. This is a picture that was taken during the lesson. This is one
16 corner of the classroom, if we can call it so. The children were sitting
17 on some logs. They have some notebooks. These are the notebooks and the
18 pencils that Fatmir promised us, and they arrived a few days later I've
19 talked to him. Because these children, when they left their homes, they
20 did not anything. They did not have these notebooks or pencils, nor did
21 they have anything else, for that matter.
22 Q. I just was checking -- yes. Are you in the photograph itself?
23 Are you the person who is standing --
24 A. Yes, it's me. And I have here with me a newspaper, and that
25 newspaper contains a similar photograph to this. There is an article in
1 that newspaper that describes the conditions in which we held those
2 lessons. In order to reinforce what this photograph shows, that's what I
3 mean, if you want to look at it. I've got also a recording that a
4 cameraman did at that time.
5 In addition to working in this school, I also worked in the
6 people's tents where they lived with the children there. I went to a
7 pupil there whose brother -- whose brother had been killed. We tried to
8 work with her because she was distressed. You know, her brother was only
9 20 years old, so she was distressed. And we tried with all our efforts.
10 We did our best to support those children. We tried to make them
11 socialise. We tried to help them have the will and the desire to help
12 each other and not wait only for my word or my advice to do things.
13 These children now have overcome their traumas, and I think what
14 they -- what we did at that period of time helped them overcome their
16 Q. Now, I want to just move a little towards the end of 1998 and, in
17 particular, do you have a recollection about a particular grenade attack
18 that occurred? Yes, at or near the school.
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Can you just describe what happened and obviously any connection
21 to Fatmir Limaj there is.
22 A. Yes. Before I start to describe it, I would like to say that the
23 idea that those children could be killed by a shell, that was a fear I
24 had all the time. The children could have been killed in their places
25 where they lived, in their tents, because the enemy shelled everywhere,
1 because they did it indiscriminately.
2 I can remember one moment when the shelling started, and it was
3 very heavy shelling close to the school, and I told the children to leave
4 the school and go somewhere that was safer.
5 Fatmir and some soldiers were passing by that area at the time.
6 Fatmir had -- Fatmir took two or three children with himself and told the
7 other children also to follow him and go down the valley because it would
8 be safer there. And I still have that emotional feeling and experience
9 here with me today. I still feel that he had a great heart, a humane
10 spirit, a humane soul who thought about those children.
11 Fatmir could have continued with his -- with what he was doing,
12 going to the fighting, wherever he was going, but he stopped for the
13 children and stayed with them during the time of the shelling. And he
14 told them, "When the shelling starts, you should not stand. You should
15 lie down, because the shelling is very dangerous when you stand."
16 These are small things, but he helped them a lot. He helped me a lot as
17 well, because these pieces of advice that he gave, it was a great support
18 for me as well.
19 Q. I have only one more question and it really links to that last
20 point. What difference has Fatmir made to your life? Not just the
21 children but to you personally.
22 A. Yes, Your Honours. He has influenced my life a lot. I want to
23 go back to an earlier period. In March of 1998, I was very sick. I had
24 a kidney problem. I was in Pristina, and I went back to my village. The
25 doctor I saw for my problem was Lutfi Dervishi, and he proposed me to
1 have an operation in order to become well again. The situation in that
2 hospital was not good. The conditions were almost horrible, so this
3 operation remained an idea. So in those very difficult moments, I
4 decided to go to my village. I wanted to be close to my family, where I
6 So also when, we went to the mountains, I was feeling worse and
7 worse. A medical team came from the Red Cross, from Geneva, and they
8 took me -- they wanted to take me abroad to be cured, but Fatmir's idea
9 to have a school to teach the children made me refuse that idea. I told
10 those doctors that I won't come. I decided to stay with the children. I
11 proposed them to take two young mothers who were about to give birth.
12 I couldn't leave those children there even if I would feel well
13 again and my kidneys would become better. I did not want that life. I
14 wanted to be close to the children because my life was with them.
15 Believe me, the miracle happened. I did not go to the doctor
16 again. I did not need that surgery any more. The kidney stones that I
17 had, I passed them out by myself until February 1999. So I did not need
18 the surgery any more.
19 That's what happened to me. And today I'm fit as a fiddle. I
20 don't suffer any more. But it was Fatmir who taught me how to become a
21 teacher, to become a teacher of those children, "The teacher of the
22 mountain," as they called me.
23 I would like to describe, too, one early experience of mine.
24 When I was in the eighth grade, there was a protest of the citizens and
25 the Serb forces started to shoot against the crowd. I'm speaking now
1 about 1989 when the constitutional changes were happening in Yugoslavia.
2 So the Serbs were shooting and three citizens were killed. Several
3 others were injured. That was my first trauma as a child. That was the
4 first time when the idea occurred to me that we could be dead at any
5 moment. Whether I was a child or whether I was an adult person, they
6 would shoot at you and kill you. So that's what helped me find the force
7 and the energy within myself to be close to the children later on. I
8 never hesitated to stop and talk to the children whether it was at the
9 water spring or whether it was at their tents or in the school. That was
10 a very difficult period for all the citizens until the end of the war.
11 Q. Yes. Thank you very much.
12 MR. MANSFIELD: Could -- I wonder if Your Honours would permit
13 the photographs to be an exhibit themselves, the original photographs.
14 JUDGE PARKER: They will be received.
15 THE REGISTRAR: That will be Defence Exhibit DL16, Your Honours.
16 JUDGE PARKER: How many are there altogether?
17 MR. MANSFIELD: Five. Five.
18 THE REGISTRAR: The five photographs will be DL16.
19 MR. MANSFIELD: Thank you very much. Will you wait there please.
20 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Guy-Smith.
21 MR. GUY-SMITH: No questions, thank you.
22 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Topolski. Mr. Nicholls.
23 MR. NICHOLLS: No questions, Your Honour.
24 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Bajraktari, thank you very much for coming.
25 That concludes the evidence that has been given by you in support of Mr.
1 Limaj, and you are now, of course, free to return to your home. Thank
2 you very much.
3 THE WITNESS: [No interpretation]
4 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter would like the witness to say that
5 again. Sorry. We apologise.
6 JUDGE PARKER: I think we can leave it. It was a farewell
7 greeting. Thank you.
8 [The witness withdrew]
9 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Mansfield.
10 MR. MANSFIELD: Your Honour, that concludes the case for Fatmir
11 Limaj, save for four statements to which the Prosecution kindly have no
12 objection to be tendered under the 92 bis regulation. And once the
13 formalities have been completed, we would ask that those four statements,
14 the last one of which was mentioned only the other day, that's the
15 military officer called Clark, and obviously subject to the order of Your
16 Honour's Court.
17 JUDGE PARKER: So you are tendering in anticipation to create
18 another legal concept four statements by consent, is that it?
19 MR. MANSFIELD: Yes, that's it.
20 JUDGE PARKER: Right. They will be received, and they will be
21 given numbers when they are avail be.
22 MR. MANSFIELD: I'm most grateful. There is one other rider
23 only, and that is it arises out of the statement of Mr. Clark, the last
24 of the four. I think we have already indicated that we have sent that to
25 Mr. Churcher who gave evidence here who may or may not have anything to
1 add and we might have to obviously ask if he has something to add to
2 admit a supplemental statement, but that hasn't arisen yet.
3 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you very much. Well, on that basis that is
4 the close of your case?
5 MR. MANSFIELD: Yes, it is.
6 JUDGE PARKER: Now, Mr. Guy-Smith, you're -- things were speeded
7 up a little.
8 MR. GUY-SMITH: We stand at the ready to commence on Tuesday if
9 that is workable with the Chamber.
10 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you. And your anticipation of length of
12 MR. GUY-SMITH: If all goes as anticipated, we believe that the
13 case for Mr. Bala will conclude within the week, hopefully no later than
14 Friday therefore.
15 JUDGE PARKER: Yes. I'm just trying to ensure Mr. Topolski is on
16 adequate notice.
17 MR. GUY-SMITH: He asks me constantly and I try to reassure him
18 as much as I was.
19 JUDGE PARKER: Very well. And are you in a position to indicate
20 whether your client will be giving evidence at this stage?
21 MR. GUY-SMITH: He will -- at this point, I believe unless things
22 change radically not be giving evidence. However, he has indicated that
23 he does wish to give a statement.
24 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
25 In those circumstances --
1 [Trial Chamber confers]
2 JUDGE PARKER: I'm encouraged, Mr. Topolski, to make a very
3 gentle inquiry whether you're in a position to indicate anything of the
4 length of your case.
5 MR. TOPOLSKI: Gentle inquiry will get a gentle response and a
6 diplomatic one at the moment. That is in a state of fluidity, and I will
7 know by 4.00 today much more than I know now.
8 JUDGE PARKER: No need to say more.
9 MR. TOPOLSKI: I'd rather not.
10 JUDGE PARKER: Yes. We are grateful if I could indicate, Mr.
11 Mansfield, to your attention you've given to dealing with the essential
12 issues and confining your case accordingly.
13 MR. MANSFIELD: Thank you.
14 JUDGE PARKER: And clearly we need to adjourn now, and we'll
15 resume on Tuesday at 2.15. In the meantime, the Chamber will give
16 attention to the written motion that is before us and the submissions we
17 have received.
18 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 9.51 a.m.,
19 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 7th day
20 of June, 2005, at 2.15 p.m.