1 Monday, 24 June 2013
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 9.48 a.m.
5 JUDGE ORIE: Good morning to everyone in and around this
6 courtroom. Madam Registrar, would you please call the case.
7 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning, Your Honours. This is case
8 IT-09-92-T, the Prosecutor versus Ratko Mladic.
9 JUDGE ORIE: Thank you, Madam Registrar.
10 We have a late start due to technical and organisational
11 problems. The Chamber was informed that both parties would like to raise
12 preliminary matters. Mr. Groome?
13 MR. GROOME: Good morning, Your Honours. The first matter
14 relates to the witness Salapura who testified last week. In particular,
15 65 ter 25979A, if you recall that is an excerpt from Djurdjevic's diary.
16 The Chamber had reserved P1590 for that exhibit but was awaiting for it
17 to be uploaded into e-court. That has now been done.
18 JUDGE ORIE: Then P1590, no objections, Mr. Stojanovic?
19 MR. STOJANOVIC: [Interpretation] No, Your Honour.
20 JUDGE ORIE: P1590 is admitted into evidence, no need to have it
21 under seal?
22 MR. GROOME: No, Your Honour.
23 JUDGE ORIE: Please proceed.
24 MR. GROOME: The second matter could I ask that we go into
25 private session for?
1 JUDGE ORIE: We move into private session.
2 [Private session]
11 Pages 13208-13212 redacted. Private session.
6 [Open session]
7 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, we are back in open session.
8 JUDGE ORIE: Thank you, Madam Registrar.
9 The Defence wanted to raise an issue as well or was it the same
10 by any chance, Mr. Lukic?
11 MR. LUKIC: It's not the same, Your Honour. We just want to ask
12 you where do we stand with our submission regarding four-day week.
13 JUDGE ORIE: I will tell you after I've conferred with my
14 colleagues. There is still some information we asked for missing. Just
15 to give you one example the latest report on the health of Mr. Mladic,
16 there were comments on the weight, the development on the weight of
17 Mr. Mladic. We asked for a whole series of measurements. We haven't
18 received that. So we are busy with it and we'll try to deliver a
19 decision as soon as possible.
20 MR. LUKIC: Thank you, Your Honour.
21 JUDGE ORIE: Any other matter? If not, then is the Prosecution
22 ready to call its next witness?
23 MS. HASAN: Good morning, Your Honours. Good morning, everyone.
24 Yes, we are ready to proceed.
25 JUDGE ORIE: Good morning to you as well, Ms. Hasan. Could the
1 witness be escorted into the courtroom. No protective measures,
2 Ms. Hasan?
3 MS. HASAN: No, Your Honour.
4 JUDGE ORIE: No associated exhibits?
5 MS. HASAN: No associated exhibit. However, this witness will
6 require a Rule 90(E) caution.
7 JUDGE ORIE: Yes.
8 [The witness entered court]
9 JUDGE ORIE: Good morning, Mr. Acimovic.
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good morning.
11 JUDGE ORIE: Before you give evidence --
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good morning.
13 JUDGE ORIE: -- the Rules require that you make a solemn
14 declaration of which the text will now be handed out to you by the usher.
15 May I invite you to make that solemn declaration.
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will
17 speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
18 WITNESS: SRECKO ACIMOVIC
19 [Witness answered through interpreter]
20 JUDGE ORIE: Thank you please be seated. Mr. Acimovic, before
21 you give your testimony, I'd like to bring to your attention that
22 witnesses, and that is therefore you at this moment, may object to making
23 any statement which might tend to incriminate that witness, so if one of
24 the answers would tend to incriminate yourself, then you may object to
25 answer that question. We could then compel you to nevertheless answer
1 the question, but testimony, if compelled in this way, shall not be used
2 in -- as evidence in any subsequent prosecution against you, if there
3 ever would be any, apart from any prosecution for giving false testimony.
4 Is this clear to you?
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
6 JUDGE ORIE: Then Ms. Hasan will now start her
7 examination-in-chief. You'll find Ms. Hasan to your right. Ms. Hasan,
8 you may proceed.
9 Examination by Ms. Hasan:
10 Q. Good morning, Mr. Acimovic. Could you please state your full
11 name for the record?
12 A. My name is Srecko Acimovic.
13 Q. Do you recall testifying in Popovic, in the Popovic case, in 2007
14 and in Tolimir in 2011?
15 A. Yes, I do.
16 Q. Have you recently had the opportunity to either listen or read
17 that testimony in those cases in a language that you understand?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Do you recall in Tolimir requesting to add some information to
20 your Popovic testimony relating to a conversation you had with drivers
21 before you left Rocevic school?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Now, taking into account your Popovic testimony, as well as your
24 testimony in the Tolimir case, including this addition you made, if you
25 were asked about those same matters here today, would you provide the
1 Chamber with the same evidence?
2 A. For the most part, yes.
3 Q. Now, now that you have taken the solemn declaration, do you
4 affirm that the testimony that you gave in those cases was true and
5 accurate, to the best of your recollection?
6 A. Yes.
7 MS. HASAN: Your Honours, I'd offer 65 ter 28991 which are the
8 Popovic excerpts and 28992, the excerpts from the Tolimir case, into
10 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Lukic?
11 MR. LUKIC: No objection, Your Honour.
12 JUDGE ORIE: Madam Registrar, we start with the Popovic excerpts.
13 65 ter 28991 receives number?
14 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, the number will be P1594.
15 JUDGE ORIE: P1594 is admitted into evidence. Second one,
16 excerpts of the Tolimir case, 28992.
17 THE REGISTRAR: Receives number P1595, Your Honours.
18 JUDGE ORIE: P1595 is admitted into evidence. You may proceed,
19 Ms. Hasan.
20 JUDGE FLUEGGE: May I just ask you, Ms. Hasan, is there any need
21 to put the second one under seal? I see in the transcript that there was
22 information given by the witness in private session. It relates to the
23 last lines of this excerpt.
24 MS. HASAN: As I understand it, because that portion is in
25 private session, it probably should go under seal. However, we can
1 provide a public version as well.
2 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, but at this moment in order to protect most
3 likely the names mentioned there, Madam Registrar, to start with, the
4 Popovic transcript which is now P1595 -- let me see, 94 -- should be --
5 one second, please.
6 [Trial Chamber confers]
7 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. The Tolimir excerpts are P1595. That should
8 be provisionally under seal, mainly because of the last half page where
9 the testimony is given in private session.
10 MS. HASAN: Mr. President, I just note that in fact, the Popovic
11 testimony also has excepts that were given in private session, so both
12 would have to be --
13 JUDGE ORIE: Then both should be under seal, P1594 and P1595, and
14 public versions should be prepared.
15 MS. HASAN: Yes, Your Honour.
16 JUDGE ORIE: You may proceed.
17 MS. HASAN: Mr. President, I'll proceed with a brief summary of
18 the witness's prior evidence.
19 JUDGE ORIE: You've explained the witness the purpose of it?
20 MS. HASAN: Yes, I have.
21 JUDGE ORIE: Please proceed.
22 MS. HASAN: Mr. Srecko Acimovic was born in the village of
23 Rocevic in the Zvornik municipality. In July of 1995 he was commander of
24 the 2nd Battalion of the Zvornik Brigade and he held the rank of reserve
25 lieutenant. In the days following the fall of Srebrenica, Mr. Acimovic
1 learned that Muslim prisoners were killed in front of the elementary
2 school in Rocevic and that a Serb woman had been injured. That evening,
3 Mr. Acimovic went to the school and noticed soldiers who appeared to be
4 under the influence of alcohol. He testified that he did not see the
5 prisoners but heard them shouting from the gym, pleading for water and to
6 use the bathroom. Mr. Acimovic asked the soldiers present there where
7 the prisoners had come from and who brought them there, but the soldiers
8 did not answer and denied him permission to speak to their commanding
10 After half an hour, the witness left the school and from Kozluk,
11 he called the Zvornik Brigade, seeking to speak to the Zvornik Brigade
12 commander, Vinko Pandurevic, or the Chief of Staff, Dragan Obrenovic. He
13 was told that neither of them was present but was put on the line with
14 Vujadin Popovic, the assistant commander for intelligence and security of
15 the Drina Corps, who had just then arrived at the brigade headquarters.
16 Popovic told the witness that the prisoners would be exchanged
17 the following morning. Acimovic then returned to the school and
18 testified that he tried to persuade the soldiers to provide them water
19 and give them access to a bathroom. Eventually, Mr. Acimovic said the
20 soldiers agreed. He returned to the battalion command where he informed
21 his associates about the situation in Rocevic.
22 Between 1.00 and 2.00 a.m. the next morning, Mr. Acimovic
23 received a coded telegram ordering the detachment of a platoon of
24 soldiers for the execution of the prisoners at the Rocevic school.
25 Mr. Acimovic refused and testified that he sent a response to that
1 effect. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Acimovic received another telegram
2 containing the same order and instructing him to inform his company
3 commanders and the battalion command of the order. Another response
4 setting out his refusal was sent.
5 Shortly thereafter, Drago Nikolic contacted Mr. Acimovic by phone
6 and told him that the order had come from above and had to be followed.
7 Nikolic give the witness until 7 a.m. to comply. Between 7.00 and 8.00
8 Nikolic gave -- Nikolic contacted Mr. Acimovic to check about whether the
9 order had been complied with. The witness again told him he would not
11 Nikolic instructed Acimovic to meet him at Rocevic at 9.00 or
12 10.00 a.m. in the morning. Mr. Acimovic again tried contacting the
13 Chief of Staff of the Zvornik Brigade without avail and then went to
14 Rocevic school where he saw many unknown people and soldiers and at least
15 a dozen corpses in the schoolyard. Vujadin Popovic was at the school and
16 instructed the witness to see whether there was anyone in the schoolyard
17 willing to take part in the executions. Acimovic testified that he
18 refused and suggested to Popovic that the prisoners should be returned to
19 where they came from or taken to the barracks in Kozluk.
20 Popovic called the brigade duty officer and requested that they
21 urgently send vehicles to Rocevic. Between 11.30 and 12.15 the witness
22 returned to the 2nd Battalion headquarters leaving other members of his
23 battalion behind at the Rocevic school.
24 That concludes the summary.
25 JUDGE ORIE: Thank you, Ms. Hasan. If you have any further
1 questions you may put them to the witness.
2 MS. HASAN:
3 Q. Witness, in your Popovic testimony, you relate that the president
4 of the local commune, as well as the priest, told you that while the
5 prisoners were at the school -- sorry, that prisoners were being killed
6 at the school and that a local woman from Rocevic had been hit with a
7 bullet and injured. Do you recall that?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Could you tell us what type of injury she sustained?
10 A. I think it was the right or the left arm, a gunshot injury from
11 infantry type weapon. In the forearm, I believe. I never had any
12 contact with her but I later found out details about the case. All the
13 information I received about her I received from the priest and the
14 president of the municipality -- of the local commune, sorry.
15 Q. Who was the source of that gunshot? What was the source? Where
16 did it come from?
17 A. I suppose that the soldiers who guarded the prisoners, soldiers
18 whom I didn't know, and I've already mentioned that I had seen several
19 corpses outside the school toilets, I suppose that when they were killing
20 those prisoners, they were firing in the direction of the woman's house,
21 so one of the bullets directed at the prisoners found her and hit her in
22 the arm during the shooting in the school. That is how it was described
23 to me.
24 Q. And just to be clear, do you know whether or not she was inside
25 her house at that time?
1 A. She was outside the house, doing some everyday work.
2 Q. How far, approximately, was her house from the Rocevic school?
3 A. As the crow flies, I believe some 150 to 200 metres.
4 Q. Now, after going to the school on the first day, so after about
5 8.00 and 9.00 p.m., you then left and went to Kozluk, to your former
6 logistics unit, where you spoke to the duty operations officer of the
7 Zvornik Brigade and you've previously testified that was sometime between
8 8.30 and 9.30 p.m. Can you tell me how long approximately your
9 conversation with the duty operations officer lasted?
10 A. I said I'm not sure about the time interval. I said I got to
11 meet the prisoners at the Rocevic school and the gym sometime around that
12 time, but I believe that it was after 9.00 when I got in touch with the
13 duty officer of the Zvornik Brigade. It was after 2100 hours.
14 Q. Okay. Just a couple of things. When you say you got to meet the
15 prisoners at the Rocevic school, what do you mean by that?
16 A. I was not aware of those prisoners at all until the president of
17 the local commune and the priest had come to my parents' house where
18 I was staying briefly on leave to take care of some personal business,
19 namely to have a bath and return to my unit immediately. While I was
20 staying with my parents they came to see me, and they had already been to
21 Malisce to look for me, and when they didn't find me there they came to
22 my parents' house and told me about what was going on. First of all,
23 they asked me if I had any information about these prisoners, I said no,
24 and then they told me what was going on in the school.
25 Q. Okay. Now we have your evidence on what you were told. So am I
1 correct then, after you spoke to the duty operations officer from Kozluk
2 that you were put on the line with Vujadin Popovic?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. And he informed you that the prisoners were to be exchanged the
5 following day; is that correct?
6 A. I was looking for some answers, and I told him what was going on
7 at Rocevic. He told me not to make a drama of it, that these prisoners
8 would be exchanged the next day and that somebody is taking care of it.
9 Q. Did he tell you who that somebody was?
10 A. I suppose he meant the unit that was in the schoolyard guarding
11 the prisoners in the gym.
12 Q. Now, once you learned that from Mr. Popovic, did you -- you went
13 back to Rocevic school. Upon your arrival there, did you inform the
14 prisoners that they were going to be exchanged?
15 A. No. I did not have any contact with the prisoners. My intention
16 was to inform the president of the local commune and the priest that
17 these prisoners would be taken the next day to be exchanged, to defuse
18 the panic prevailing in the locality around the events in the schoolyard.
19 Q. Now, Witness, when Lieutenant-Colonel Vujadin Popovic told you
20 this, were you aware that that same afternoon there were prisoners,
21 Muslim prisoners, being executed in the 4th Battalion area, in the
22 Orahovac area, that afternoon? Were you aware of that?
23 A. At that time, I had no information whatsoever concerning any
24 prisoners in the area of the Zvornik Brigade. I've just told you that
25 I found out about the prisoners at Rocevic only.
1 Q. All right. Now, you've previously testified about two telegrams
2 that you received concerning those prisoners at the Rocevic school. Can
3 you tell us, as best as you can remember today, exactly what those
4 telegrams stated, in particular start -- if you could start with the
5 first one and then tell us what the second one said?
6 A. When the first telegram arrived at my battalion command, I
7 believe it was 1.00 a.m., I was asleep. And when the telegram arrived,
8 my assistants woke me up to tell me about it.
9 Q. Okay. And can you tell us, as best as you can remember today,
10 what the telegram stated?
11 A. The telegram was in code, and my assistants had decrypted it.
12 The telegram required us to provide a platoon of soldiers, who would be
13 used to execute the prisoners.
14 Q. All right. And can you tell us now about the second telegram
15 that you received? What did that telegram state, as best as you can
17 A. Since we had responded with a telegram refusing that original
18 instruction, the customary practice was to send a dispatch saying
19 familiarise company commanders with the content of the telegram as well.
20 And of course they were telling us again to carry out the order.
21 Q. And when you say "carry out the order," which order are you
22 referring to?
23 A. To provide that platoon of soldiers for that purpose.
24 Q. So, Mr. Acimovic, did you take both the first telegram and the
25 second telegram, were those both orders?
1 A. Yes.
2 MS. HASAN: Mr. President, I note the time. This may be a good
3 time for the break.
4 JUDGE ORIE: Well, we started a bit later so therefore we might
5 continue for a while. Could I also, Ms. Hasan, I would say anything
6 between 50 and 70 per cent of your questions are fully covered by the
7 92 ter statement or 92 ter testimony. Of course, the purpose is to
8 elicit any further evidence from the witness in addition to and not to
9 repeat it. Could I remind you of that purpose.
10 MS. HASAN: Thank you, Mr. President.
11 Q. Witness, those orders that you received, can you tell us where
12 they came from, who sent them?
13 A. They came, I suppose, from the Zvornik Brigade, or they were sent
14 by the duty operations officer or the assistant commander for security,
15 Drago Nikolic.
16 Q. And can you tell us where you sent your responses to? Your
17 responses to those telegrams, where did you send them?
18 A. To the address from which it was received, but that was the job
19 of the signals unit.
20 Q. Now, Witness, right after you received the second telegram, you
21 communicated with Drago Nikolic. Do you remember your conversation?
22 A. I have to correct you on one point. It was Drago Nikolic who
23 contacted me, not the other way around.
24 Q. Okay. And during the course of that communication you had with
25 him, you've previously testified that he said you had to comply because
1 "the order had come from above." Do you recall those words?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. What did you understand that to mean?
4 A. I understood that the order had come from the command of the
5 Main Staff.
6 Q. Now, Witness, the telegrams that you received, how did you
7 receive them, via what communication channels?
8 A. I've emphasised already that when we received the first telegram,
9 I was not present, I was asleep, so my assistants, who were at that time
10 in the room of the duty officer at the battalion command, were the ones
11 who received that first telegram. In the time it took me to wake up and
12 get up, the telegram had already been encrypted and was lying on my desk,
13 and that's the first time I read it. And much, much later, I talked to
14 them to find out how the telegram had arrived, and they told me it must
15 have arrived through the usual channels, that means the signals unit, but
16 I cannot maintain anything with any certainty because I was not there
17 when the telegram was received. My assistants and associates received
19 Q. Did you have secure military lines at your battalion command
20 through which such a telegram could come through or would that have come
21 through another channel available to you?
22 A. Yes. A telegram can come through wire communications, which is a
23 secure lines, which connected the Zvornik Brigade with all its
24 subordinate units, or through radio communications, or it can be brought
25 by a messenger.
1 JUDGE ORIE: Could I seek one clarification? You are, on the
2 transcript, recorded as having said:
3 "In the time it took me to wake up and get up, the telegram had
4 already been encrypted and was lying on my desk ..."
5 May I take it that you wanted to say that it was decrypted?
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It was decrypted, yes.
7 JUDGE ORIE: Please proceed, Ms. Hasan.
8 MS. HASAN:
9 Q. And, Witness, can you tell us that decryption would typically be
10 undertaken by whom?
11 A. In view of the fact that the telegram was confidential, it would
12 be done by the duty officer at the battalion command.
13 Q. How would he go about doing that? What did he have at his
14 disposal to assist him in decrypting the telegram?
15 A. The duties officer had at his disposal a brochure entitled,
16 "Phrase book" or "code-book," and using that, you would be able to
17 decrypt all types of telegrams.
18 Q. Okay. Now, when you received both the first and the second
19 telegram, were -- you've told us that you were sleeping at the battalion
20 command during the first one. Where were you when the second one was
22 A. The second one came shortly after, 35 to 40 minutes later. I was
23 still there with my associates in the room of the duty officer, and we
24 were standing there in shock over the order received by telegram, and as
25 I said very shortly after we received the second telegram, which stressed
1 that the order had to be carried out and that the content of the first
2 telegram should be notified to company commanders.
3 Q. So was the second telegram you received also encrypted and did
4 you see the duty officer decrypt that one?
5 A. You see, I really can't remember now and I can't say anything
6 with any certainty. But it's possible that the second telegram only
7 stated that the order, number such and such, had to be carried out, and
8 that the contents of the first telegram must be notified to company
9 commanders. So there is a possibility that the second telegram repeated
10 the instructions given in the first one.
11 Q. Do you recall when you then went to Rocevic school on the second
12 day you were there speaking to Lieutenant-Colonel Popovic and making a
13 proposal about where the prisoners should be taken to? Do you recall
14 that conversation?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Now, you had proposed that they be taken back to where they came
17 from or to the barracks in Kozluk. Are the Kozluk barracks near to any
18 factory of any sort?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. What factory is that?
21 A. The factory of mineral water, Viting.
22 Q. Okay. Mr. Acimovic, the prisoners that were held at the Rocevic
23 school, can you tell us where they were ultimately transported to?
24 A. At the time when the transport began, I was not at the Rocevic
25 school. I was in my unit. But from what I learned later, those
1 prisoners were taken to a locality not far from the Standard barracks at
2 Kozluk, where they were executed on the bank of the Drina River.
3 Q. Sir, I don't know if it's recorded here on the transcript
4 incorrectly, but you mentioned the mineral water factory. Was that
5 called "Viting" or "Vitinka"? Do you recall?
6 A. Vitinka.
7 JUDGE ORIE: Ms. Hasan, if you find such a sign on the
8 transcript, it means that the transcription department will verify
9 whether it's correctly or still have to verify whether it's exactly what
10 was said. So they will do that on the basis of the audio anyhow. Please
12 MS. HASAN: I have nothing further, Mr. President.
13 JUDGE ORIE: Thank you, Ms. Hasan.
14 Then I think it would be best to take the break now and that we
15 start the cross-examination after the break.
16 We take a break of 20 minutes, Witness. You may follow the
18 [The witness stands down]
19 JUDGE ORIE: We will take a break and resume at five minutes past
21 --- Recess taken at 10.46 a.m.
22 --- On resuming at 11.07 a.m.
23 JUDGE ORIE: Could the witness be escorted into the courtroom.
24 [The witness takes the stand]
25 JUDGE ORIE: Please be seated, Witness.
1 Mr. Acimovic, you'll now be cross-examined by Mr. Lukic.
2 Mr. Lukic is counsel for Mr. Mladic. You'll find him to your left.
3 Cross-examination by Mr. Lukic:
4 Q. [Interpretation] Good morning, Mr. Acimovic.
5 A. Good morning.
6 Q. Judge Orie has already introduced me so I won't repeat that
7 information. Since we speak the same language, we'll have to pause. And
8 I believe you've already encountered that situation.
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Tell us where you served your regular military term?
11 A. In Zagreb.
12 Q. What service did you serve with?
13 A. It was a vehicle unit, and we provided our services to the
14 military academy at Cernomerec.
15 Q. Serving your military term there did not make you a reserve
16 officer; correct?
17 A. No. No, it did not make me.
18 Q. You received your rank during the war?
19 A. By decree of President Karadzic.
20 Q. Let me ask you something specific: Rocevic was not in the area
21 of responsibility of your battalion; correct?
22 A. It was not.
23 Q. Who issued the order for combat use of your 2nd Battalion to you?
24 A. Which task do you have in mind?
25 Q. In the course of those few days, starting with, say, the 11th or
1 the 12th of July, where was your unit deployed, where were you assigned
3 A. We were deployed as follows: The command of the battalion was in
4 Malicic [phoen] village and immediately in front of it was Vitinica
5 village and Seljacka Rijeka on the left-hand side. To the right there
6 was Androvicka Rijeka [phoen] up to Boskovici village.
7 Q. And what was your task there?
8 A. The task of my unit was purely defensive. The infantry -- it was
9 the infantry battalion with its assigned defence area, in the specific
10 location I designated. We were tasked with keeping positions there.
11 Q. At some point, was the area of the battalion moved?
12 A. Yes. It happened precisely in the course of the few days when
13 the Srebrenica operation was underway. We moved two infantry companies
14 in front of the Serb villages of Odzacina and Vitinica, in order to have
15 a better tactical position.
16 Q. In the course of that movement did you fortify, in engineering
17 terms, your positions?
18 A. Not fully because it was a very forbidding terrain where we did
19 not have sufficient material to secure complete fortification, in
20 engineering terms. We worked on it daily.
21 Q. Did your battalion see any fighting in that area?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Let us try and ascertain the sequence of events that you
24 mentioned, just so that it is clear to me in terms of how things
25 happened. Let's start with the first telegram. So the first telegram
1 arrived and then you responded to it?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Then the second one came?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. You responded to that one as well?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. What followed was consultation with the company commanders and
8 their deputies?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Did you receive Drago Nikolic's phone call after all of that?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. And on the next day, you met with Popovic; correct?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. A few days later, there was a meeting of the brigade command and
15 battalion commanders?
16 A. I'm not sure within what time it happened, when we had that first
17 meeting at the brigade command. I cannot say anything for certain.
18 Q. That is exactly how I found it in your statements and that is why
19 I said in the course of several days.
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Let me ask you something about the school in Rocevic. Did you
22 know at the time who were the armed people guarding the prisoners at the
23 Rocevic school?
24 A. I didn't know at the time but later I learned that they were
25 soldiers from Bratunac or some members may even have been from Visegrad.
1 Q. Is it correct that they did not even want to talk to you when you
2 addressed them?
3 A. Yes, because I suppose they didn't know me, and that is why I was
4 not their superior officer, and I couldn't issue any tasks to them or
5 talk to them.
6 Q. Thank you. When you addressed them, you seemed to have spoken
7 with an officer at the Zvornik Brigade; correct?
8 A. When do you mean exactly?
9 Q. When you visited the people in Rocevic, and then you talked to
10 someone from the Zvornik Brigade?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. And the officer told you that he believed that he was convinced
13 that the prisoners would be exchanged; correct?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Did you believe it? Was it your impression as well at that time
16 that the people would be exchanged?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. After that, to the best of your recollection, you got
19 Vujadin Popovic on the line; correct?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. He was in the command of the Zvornik Brigade at the moment?
22 A. With the duty officer. I have to say that the information on
23 exchange was provided by Popovic and not the duty officer.
24 Q. After that, you conveyed that message to the local priest and the
25 local commune president, that the people would be exchanged?
1 A. It was a relief to hear that, when I was told that the prisoners
2 would be transported and exchanged, and that is why I felt the need to
3 inform the president of the local commune and the priest. I told them
4 that the next day, during the day, the prisoners were to be exchanged.
5 Pardon me.
6 Q. Thank you. Then, together with the local commune president, in
7 Rocevic itself, you urged that the people be provided with water;
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Were they given water?
11 A. Finally, after a conversation and trying to persuade the
12 soldiers, they finally agreed to give the prisoners water and to give
13 them some kind of bowls or vessels that could be used for their needs,
14 for the needs of the prisoners who were detained in the gym.
15 Q. Thank you. The following topic I want to discuss is the
16 functioning of your battalion's command. At the command of your
17 battalion, there was always a duty officer; correct?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. The duty operations officer was in charge of receiving and
20 sending messages on behalf of the battalion, so to both receive and send
21 messages; correct?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. The duty operations officer made entries into the logbook with
24 regard to all important information received during his shift?
25 A. Either in the logbook or in certain notebooks, but in any case,
1 I agree with what you say.
2 Q. So we can say then that the duty operations officer is a link,
3 liaison, between your brigade and the Zvornik Battalion?
4 A. Yes.
5 MR. LUKIC: I think we got wrong -- it's Zvornik Brigade and
6 2nd Battalion.
7 Q. [Interpretation] Also, the duty operations officer is also a link
8 between your battalion and the companies under your command; correct?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. If a telegram was received at the battalion, under the rules,
11 would it have been necessarily recorded in the logbook kept by the duty
12 operations officer?
13 A. All telegrams, I suppose, which arrived at the battalion through
14 the telephone switchboard and the communications department should be
15 recorded into the telegram book, which is kept at the battalion command.
16 Q. Is it correct that such telegrams were immediately registered
17 upon arrival?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. We'll return to the topic of telegrams, but let me ask you
20 something else first so as to gain a better understanding of certain
21 events pertaining to mid-July 1995. I know that it isn't simple to
22 recall dates and events from this point, but according to some documents,
23 it was ascertained that the detainees arrived in Rocevic as late as the
24 14th of July, 1995.
25 A. Yes, that is not in dispute.
1 Q. Vujo Lazarevic and Mitar Lazarevic were present at the command
2 when according to you the telegrams arrived and when you sent responses?
3 A. Yes. I remember the two of them but it's possible that they were
4 not alone there at the moment. It's possible that some others were there
5 too, some of my other closer associates, but I can recall now only the
6 two of them.
7 Q. So you informed them about all of this, about the receipt of the
8 telegrams, and you discussed it all?
9 A. First of all, it was they who informed me, not the other way
10 around. They were informed of everything concerning these telegrams.
11 Q. You told them also about going to Rocevic with the president of
12 the local commune and the priest?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. With the president of the local commune and the priest, if you
15 can remember, you were at the school at Rocevic the same day when the
16 prisoners were brought?
17 A. That evening.
18 Q. In what way did Vujo Lazarevic and Mitar Lazarevic participate in
19 your exchange with company commanders?
20 A. I've already said they were in the same room, the duty officer's
21 room, where I was sitting and where the telegrams were received. We were
22 in a house at Malisce that was commandeered for the needs of the
23 battalion and we didn't have much room, so we went about our duties as a
24 battalion command doing everything in one large room in that house so
25 they were able to see and hear everything concerning the telegrams.
1 Q. I suppose they were also aware, then, of the second telegram and
2 your second reply?
3 A. I suppose they should remember it.
4 Q. Did you inform them about the telephone calls from Drago Nikolic?
5 A. They were sitting next to me as I was talking to Drago Nikolic so
6 there was no need to inform them, because they were able to hear my side
7 of the conversation.
8 Q. I said we would go back to the telegram. Today, do you know or
9 do you have in your possession, the first or the second telegram?
10 A. No, I never kept either telegram, nor do I know what happened
11 with them after I'd read them. We were not particularly concerned about
12 the fate of that piece of paper or its archiving.
13 Q. Did you hold the telegram in your hands?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Would you agree with me that the telegram was not registered
16 anywhere in your battalion?
17 A. I cannot say either yes or no, because I never made any
18 inquiries, nor was it my duty to do any filing, registration or keeping
20 Q. Since you were asked in the Popovic case about this, did you try,
21 after that testimony or before this one, to find out whether the telegram
22 had been preserved somewhere?
23 A. First of all, I did not do any investigative work after the first
24 time I gave evidence in the Srebrenica case, because I was told I am not
25 allowed to discuss it with anyone, so I did not do anything about it.
1 I didn't speak to anyone. I don't know exactly what you're driving at.
2 Q. Did you try to locate the telegram and see whether it was
3 recorded somewhere?
4 A. First of all, I had no need to locate the telegram. I had no
5 need to investigate whether it was recorded anywhere. It was not my job.
6 Q. You say you did not investigate. Can you advise us where we
7 could look for it, if we were interested?
8 A. They would probably have to be present at the archives of the
9 brigade which is handled by the signals unit, unless on some specific
10 instruction somebody has removed the documentation concerning these
11 events. Or perhaps we should take into account the possibility that if
12 the first telegram had arrived by messenger which is not impossible, then
13 I don't know where it would be recorded or filed or archived, a telegram
14 with that kind of text, but if -- if the telegram had indeed arrived to
15 the battalion command in that manner.
16 Q. So did you have a messenger at that time?
17 A. I don't understand the question.
18 Q. At that time, did you have access to a messenger?
19 A. From the brigade?
20 Q. Battalion, brigade, whatever.
21 A. No. I never contacted a messenger. If a messenger would bring
22 mail, then he would stay only as long as he needed to deliver it. He
23 wouldn't stay or linger at the battalion command, and I have to emphasise
24 it's only a possibility that the first telegram arrived by messenger
25 because I was not the one who received the first one.
1 Q. What about the second telegram? Did you receive that one?
2 A. I was present when we received the telegram through
3 communications, through the signals unit at the battalion command. That
4 second telegram required us to proceed to execute the order.
5 Q. Were you at the battalion command or in the signals unit at that
7 A. At the battalion command.
8 Q. And the signals unit was about 40 metres away; right?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. So that time, too, you were not physically present when the
11 telegram was received because it was received at the signals unit?
12 A. Yes, but the signals unit forwards the telegram to the duty
13 officer at the battalion command in the same way.
14 Q. The duty officer that night was Mitar Lazarevic?
15 A. That was not the duty operations officer. He was at the
16 battalion -- he was at the brigade command. In the battalion command we
17 simply called it duty officer.
18 Q. At any rate --
19 A. He was in charge of these activities; I suppose that's what you
20 want to hear.
21 Q. I want to hear whether that evening, at the battalion, the duty
22 officer was Mitar Lazarevic?
23 A. To the best of my recollection, it was Mitar Lazarevic but I
24 cannot say it with certainty.
25 Q. Was it also his duty to register the telegram, to record it?
1 A. If he was the duty officer, then he's probably the one who
2 archived the telegram, who filed it.
3 Q. You don't know whether that was done?
4 A. No. I never looked into it.
5 Q. So, according to you, the first and the second telegram were both
6 orders; correct?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. Do you recall whose signature was on them?
9 A. At that time I did see the signature, but with the passage of
10 time I forgot, and please don't misunderstand me, I had no intention ever
11 of concealing the name of that officer or the name of the duty officer.
12 That was common knowledge, so I had absolutely no need to withhold it,
13 but after all the questioning started, after so much time about who was
14 on duty at the brigade at the time or who had signed the telegram,
15 I couldn't remember because we focused on the content of the telegram,
16 which came as a shock to me and my co-workers, so we did not pay too much
17 attention to the signature.
18 Q. All right. And then you replied to the telegram?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Well, to whom did you reply?
21 A. That was the job of the signals unit, to send our reply to the
22 same address from which we received the telegram. I told you, I did not
23 do these things myself.
24 Q. You don't know to whom your reply was sent; is that correct?
25 A. I've already said --
1 Q. You said, "I suppose," but do you know to whom it was sent?
2 A. I don't know for certain to whom my duty officer sent our reply.
3 Q. What is the role of the duty officer at the battalion regarding
4 the sending of replies?
5 A. The duty officer was involved in the writing of our reply. I've
6 already said that they were my closest associates at the time, and
7 I consulted these two associates about the whole thing. We shared the
8 same opinion. I said we should refuse, and they supported me. So they
9 were personally involved in all of this.
10 Q. Now, was the duty officer, Mitar Lazarevic, the one who sent the
11 telegram? Technically, what was his role?
12 A. He would call the signals unit and communicate to them the text
13 of the telegram that must be sent. The signals unit, of course, calls
14 the brigade, et cetera.
15 Q. And that reply should also be registered; right?
16 A. I suppose so.
17 Q. Let's refrain from supposing.
18 A. Well, it should have been because all the telegrams, incoming and
19 outgoing, should be recorded. There must be some trace of them at the
20 brigade command.
21 Q. If it was not recorded, who would be the person who made the
22 decision not to record it?
23 A. I really wouldn't like to go into these things in which I was not
24 involved. I did not engage in such activities. I was not privy to who
25 had what intentions at that moment, and who needed what.
1 Q. At any rate, it was not your decision, it was not your order, not
2 to register that telegram?
3 A. Needless to say, we just followed the standard procedure.
4 Q. The duty officer at the battalion, was he able to decrypt a
5 telegram himself or would he require the assistance of another officer at
6 the battalion?
7 A. I believe every duty officer at the battalion command was trained
8 to decrypt telegrams and specifically would have been able to decrypt
9 that one and if he ever needed assistance, he was always able to call
10 somebody from the signals unit or ask somebody else for help, if he
11 couldn't do it himself.
12 Q. How often did you receive telegrams?
13 A. Every day.
14 Q. Did you call the commander or his deputy in the Zvornik Brigade
15 to check if the telegrams were authentic as well as the orders they
17 A. When I learned of the detainees being held at Rocevic, I tried to
18 get in touch with the brigade commander and the Chief of Staff, to tell
19 them what was going on in Rocevic, but the duty officer told me that they
20 were unavailable. He said that Vinko Pandurevic, the brigade commander,
21 had not returned to the Zvornik Brigade and that Dragan Obrenovic, the
22 Chief of Staff, was not there. I even insisted at any cost that they get
23 in touch with either one of them, and that they should call me back.
24 Q. You failed, then?
25 A. I didn't succeed that day or the next.
1 Q. Did you try again at a later stage, for example, during the
2 meeting you had a few days later at the brigade command?
3 A. Pardon me. We did not have an opportunity to discuss that topic
4 at that time. Different topics were discussed, although I can't recall
5 them now. I simply did not have occasion to open a discussion on that
6 topic in front of all those people.
7 Q. You believed the order to be unlawful, as you say, and you
8 refused to carry it out?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Did you try to get in touch with the command superior to the
11 command which issued the order to you?
12 A. Given that I talked to one of the corps officers, I didn't, and
13 the question -- the person in question was Vujadin Popovic. That was my
14 contact with a senior officer from the Zvornik Brigade superior command
15 because it was at corps level.
16 Q. How did you inform him?
17 A. What do you mean specifically?
18 Q. Did you inform him about the two telegrams?
19 A. I didn't discuss the two telegrams with him. I talked to him
20 earlier, as I explained, when I informed him about the prisoners in
21 Rocevic village.
22 Q. Did you inform the duty operations officer at the Zvornik Brigade
23 command about it? Did you talk to anyone there about your intention to
24 refuse and whether you would carry it out or not?
25 A. I had a conversation after the telegrams, perhaps an hour later,
1 which may have been around 1.30 or 2.00 a.m. I talked to Drago Nikolic.
2 He called, following our refusal to carry out the order, that is to say,
3 after we responded negatively by way of telegram. It is then that he
4 called me on a civilian line, which we had at the battalion command.
5 Q. Did the first telegram reach the companies and their commanders?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. How?
8 A. It was forwarded. Since we received the second telegram, it was
9 stated therein that the company commanders be acquainted with the
10 contents of the first telegram, and it is then that we forwarded the
11 contents of the first telegram to the company commanders.
12 Q. By what means?
13 A. Through the signals unit.
14 Q. So when the second telegram arrived, you then forwarded the first
15 and the second together?
16 A. Yes, I suppose so.
17 Q. But you are not certain? You don't know for sure?
18 A. It was forwarded to them, although I don't know whether it was
19 done together or separately. In any case, the company commanders were
20 informed of what our unit was requested to do.
21 Q. Is it correct that those telegrams, too, had to be recorded in
22 the book of telegrams?
23 A. I don't think company commanders had such registers in terms of
24 telegrams, and I have the company commanders in mind specifically.
25 Q. It seems I didn't put my question correctly. I wanted to ask you
1 whether the telegram you sent to the companies had to be recorded at the
2 battalion too, because it included both receipt and sending out of
4 A. I'm not sure it was done within our unit, in terms of telegrams
5 and information we sent from our unit. That is to say inside the unit
6 itself. I'm not sure such documents were recorded.
7 Q. The second time you informed the Zvornik Brigade, you also did it
8 by telegram; correct?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. And that telegram, too, ought to have been recorded; correct?
11 A. I suppose so.
12 Q. Under the rules, it should have been?
13 A. I can agree on that score.
14 Q. Do you know that that telegram, too, was not recorded? We don't
15 have it.
16 A. I don't know about it. I didn't know it was not recorded in the
18 Q. A moment ago, we discussed couriers. On transcript page --
19 THE INTERPRETER: Could the counsel kindly repeat the page
21 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] In the Popovic case -- please bear
22 with me. It is 1D1063. Can we have it in e-court, please?
23 Can we see the page number so I can calculate which page number
24 we need in the e-court? Can we enlarge this number, please?
25 JUDGE ORIE: First is 13066.
1 MR. LUKIC: Then it's not that date. I'll come back to this.
2 Thank you. I'm sorry.
3 JUDGE ORIE: Which date did you have in mind, Mr. Lukic?
4 MR. LUKIC: I have jotted down 22nd of June, but I need page
5 13013. So 13 is -- two 13s in one number cannot be good.
6 JUDGE ORIE: It should be the 21st of June and that is 1D01062.
7 MR. LUKIC: Thank you.
8 JUDGE ORIE: And it should be approximately page 33, I would
9 think, if you are --
10 MR. LUKIC: Let's try that. Thank you. So can we have 1D01062
11 in the e-court, please? Yes, thanks. Thank you.
12 Q. [Interpretation] This is your testimony in the Popovic case.
13 A. I only have it in English.
14 MR. LUKIC: But it's not the issue I want to explore. I will
15 definitely have to come back to this later. I need line 2 and it's not
16 the line I have.
17 Q. [Interpretation] Let me ask you about it anyway. It is my
18 mistake. I apologise. Some numbers got mixed up. Is it correct that at
19 that moment, you could not get through to the Zvornik Brigade command,
20 neither by radio or courier -- nor courier?
21 A. I'm not sure what time you are talking about.
22 Q. We are discussing the moment when you received the telegram.
23 Could you get in touch by way of radio or courier with the
24 Zvornik Brigade command?
25 A. I told you we had an open line, which worked. It was not cut
1 off. I could get in touch with the duty operations officer.
2 Q. Let me reformulate. Did you have any radio communication at the
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Could you get in touch with them by way of a courier?
6 A. Yes.
7 JUDGE MOLOTO: "In touch with them," whom, Mr. Lukic?
8 MR. LUKIC: With command of the Zvornik Brigade.
9 Q. [Interpretation] Very well. Let me ask you this. In your
10 battalion, what device, what piece of equipment, was used to receive
12 A. I stress yet again that the contents of the first telegram --
13 well, I wasn't there when it was received, and accordingly, I cannot say
14 how the telegram reached my command. As for the second telegram, I was
15 present. It was received by the signals unit through the switchboard, by
16 wire. We had wire communication with the brigade.
17 Q. My question was more general in nature, but thank you anyhow.
18 Perhaps it was put inexpertly. Do you know which device was used by your
19 battalion, a technical device, used to receive all telegrams?
20 A. You mean what kind of switchboard?
21 Q. Yes.
22 A. Well, I'm not a signals man, but -- and I can't say for sure. I
23 don't know what type of switchboard it was and what was its designation.
24 I never took an interest.
25 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Lukic, could I ask to you clarify the following?
1 The witness just said that documents, or they could use a courier to
2 transfer information. Earlier the discussion was about messengers. What
3 exactly -- because messengers were not there, couriers were there.
4 That's at least the testimony. Could you clarify with the witness what
5 exactly the difference is between a messenger and a courier?
6 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation]
7 Q. You heard the Presiding Judge Orie's question and it confused me
8 too. That is why I asked you whether there was a difference. We
9 mentioned couriers each and every time, and yet in English, two words
10 were used, the first time around couriers were mentioned, and the next
11 time around, it was messengers. Are there two positions or is it the
12 same position, the same function, that is to say people who personally
13 carry a message in their hand or bag?
14 A. It's a completely different system of delivering telegrams by
15 hand. A courier receives a telegram in person at the Zvornik Brigade and
16 takes it to the battalion command, if that's the system you had in mind.
17 Do you understand me?
18 Q. I do. But there was some confusion about the way it was
19 translated. Are there two separate functions, different types of people
20 carrying it, or is it all one and the same, courier?
21 A. Courier, if that's what it is about.
22 Q. Yes. Delivering messages by hand.
23 A. Yes. It's a courier who receives a telegram and takes it to the
24 place of delivery.
25 JUDGE ORIE: But then the evidence is confusing. First of all,
1 Mr. Lukic, I think in the beginning it was translated, I don't know
2 whether it's the same word or not, "messengers," that is on page 20 and
3 page 32, and it was later the word "courier" was used.
4 Now, could I take you back to some of your answers? You were
5 asked about the first telegram and you said it is possible that it had
6 arrived by messenger, as you said then, and you did not know whether it
7 was -- would be recorded if it was indeed arrived in that way. You were
8 then asked, "So did you have a messenger at that time?" And you said, "I
9 don't understand the question." The question was then repeated, "At that
10 time, did you have access to a messenger?" You asked, "From the
11 brigade?" Mr. Lukic said, "Battalion, brigade, whatever." You said,
12 "No. I never contacted a messenger. If a messenger would bring mail,
13 then he would stay only for as long as he needed to deliver it." Was
14 this -- were you talking about what was later translated to us as
15 courier, or was it anything else? Because later, and I'll take you to
16 that part as well, were you asked -- I take you back to page -- one
17 second, please. Were you asked, "Could you get in touch with them" - and
18 "them" was then the command of the Zvornik Brigade - "by courier?" And
19 then I think you said that -- you said, "Very well" -- no, that was the
20 question. Your answer was, "Yes." "Could you get in touch with them by
21 way of courier?" And you said, "Yes."
22 So initially you said: We didn't have messengers, we had no
23 contact with messengers. And later, when you were asked whether you
24 could get in touch with the command of the Zvornik Brigade by way of a
25 courier, your answer was, "Yes." So that confused me. Did you have a
1 possibility to send messages by courier to the Zvornik Brigade command or
2 did you not?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. I think this is not about
4 interpretation. Maybe the interpretation was not the best so that's
5 confusing you. I did have couriers at the battalion command. There were
6 also couriers at the brigade command. And that possibility of
7 communication existed. That's not in dispute.
8 JUDGE ORIE: It seems that it has been resolved.
9 Mr. Lukic, I am looking at the clock. We should take another
10 break. If the witness could follow the usher then we'll take another
11 break of 20 minutes.
12 [The witness stands down]
13 JUDGE ORIE: We take a break and we resume at 12.30.
14 --- Recess taken at 12.08 p.m.
15 --- On resuming at 12.30 p.m.
16 JUDGE ORIE: Could the witness be escorted into the courtroom.
17 [The witness takes the stand]
18 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Lukic, you may proceed.
19 MR. LUKIC: Thank you, Your Honour. I'd like to try and go back
20 to 1D01062, and I need page 36 in e-court. And it corresponds to
21 transcript page number 13015.
22 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Acimovic, I will read out this passage to
23 you so you get correct interpretation. Were you asked whether you were
24 able to communicate with Obrenovic at the time when you said you called
25 the Zvornik Brigade regarding the telegram, and in line 2, on this page,
1 it says:
2 [In English] "Q. And you are saying that you could not establish
3 communication through the duty operations officer, through the radio?
4 "A. You're right.
5 Q. And what about courier?
6 "A. No. That was not available to me because I didn't know
7 where the courier was at the time. If I had known where he was, I would
8 have probably sent him there."
9 A. I have to clear this up. It was wrongly interpreted. I said at
10 the time that I didn't know where Chief of Staff Obrenovic was, not the
11 courier. My courier was available to me at all times. I just couldn't
12 send the courier because I didn't know where to send him. I didn't know
13 where the Chief of Staff was. I received such information from the duty
14 operations officer. Do we understand each other now?
15 Q. [Interpretation] We do. And thank you for this clarification.
16 Now I read what is written here, it's true you can understand it that way
18 I'm coming back to the telegrams again. I have to, and you will
19 see later why. In your battalion, do you know whether and how this
20 telegram was typed up before being sent?
21 A. I suppose it probably has to be written down in longhand before
22 being handed over to the signalsman.
23 Q. Do you know whether this signalsman typed it into some kind of
25 A. I think it was written down in a notebook.
1 Q. The thing that confuses me is the fact that telegrams are a type
2 of communication that is dispatched via communication devices, and that
3 presuppose that is somebody types up the text and it's encrypted on that
4 device, and on the other side it's decrypted.
5 A. I apologise for interrupting you while you were speaking. It's
6 not true. This telegram we sent via wire communications. That's the one
7 we used the most because it's the most secure. The signalsman picks up
8 the telephone, he dials the voice-based telephone, at the telephone
9 exchange the telephone rings, the signalsman reads out the content of the
10 telegram to the other communication person, who probably notes it down
11 somewhere and hands it over to the duty operations officer. And the
12 equipment that you are referring to now is something we absolutely did
13 not have at the Zvornik Brigade. I don't think any of our units had any
14 need for it.
15 Q. Can we agree that what you call telegram, what you saw there, you
16 didn't receive it from the other side, you received something that your
17 signalsman had noted down in hand, or explain to us what it looked like.
18 A. I'll try to be clearer. If it is a telegram received through the
19 signals unit, then it's a telegram written down by my duty officer, in
20 his own hand, at the battalion command. And if it's a telegram brought
21 by courier, then it would have been written down at the address of the
22 sender. Let me try to reconstruct what it would look like if a courier
23 brought a telegram. The person writing the telegram would note it down,
24 put it in an envelope, seal it, give it to the courier and the courier
25 would take it to the address of the recipient. So if it was brought by
1 courier, it had been written personally by the sender.
2 Q. Now, one point of clarification, if it was brought by courier,
3 would it be typed up or would it be written in hand?
4 A. I could not maintain with certainty whether this specific
5 telegram we are discussing was typed or written in hand. I can't
6 remember. But I think that telegrams brought by courier would have been
7 written on a typewriter.
8 Q. You did not see the first telegram. As for the second one, you
9 say you were present when it arrived?
10 A. I read the first telegram but I didn't see how it had arrived.
11 Q. What about the second one?
12 A. Yes. I was present.
13 Q. Let's focus on the second telegram then. Was it then noted down
14 by your duty officer?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Would it have to go to the signals unit?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Does he note down the encrypted message to be decrypted later?
19 A. You mean the signalsman?
20 Q. I mean the duty officer. He's the one who receives the telegram,
22 A. He receives the contents of the telegram as it was sent to him.
23 If it's encrypted, then he has to decrypt it, because signalsmen should
24 not have access to the content. It was confidential. So it would have
25 to be decrypted at the battalion command by the duty officer.
1 Q. Since you say you were present when he received it, do you
2 remember whether he was writing down codes and what this code consisted
3 of, or he was writing down normal text?
4 A. I've said this before. I believe the second telegram too was
5 encrypted. It was in code. But I can't be 100 per cent sure. If it was
6 in code, then the text would consist of various words, numbers, terms,
7 et cetera. I can try to explain it to you, if you wish. That second
8 telegram, it could be very short while still preserving the desired
9 meaning. When the original order is not carried out, then the second
10 telegram would read, "Act upon order number such and such," and since we
11 have the number of the previous order, we know what it's about. So if
12 somebody possibly gained access to that second telegram, unauthorised, he
13 would be able to read it without understanding it because he doesn't know
14 the content of the first telegram.
15 Q. Yes. I see. I'm only trying to understand the logic and how it
16 worked, since you told me you, yourself, were not a signalsman.
17 So you have wire telephone communication with the brigade command
18 going via Rocevic; right?
19 A. No, not via Rocevic. I don't know the specific route of that
20 wire communication, but at any rate it was not via Rocevic because
21 Rocevic was on the opposite side.
22 Q. Did you have wire communication with the Zvornik Brigade at
24 A. Only civilian telephone.
25 Q. With companies inside your battalion, you communicated either via
1 Motorola or wire telephone communication; right?
2 A. We used only wire telephone communication. Why would we use
3 Motorolas when the communications that were secure were available? So in
4 99 per cent of cases, we used the wire communication. It was the safest,
5 the most secure form of communication with subordinate units.
6 Q. At the time there were also civilian telephone lines. Were you
7 able to contact them?
8 A. You mean the brigade? Yes.
9 Q. This telephone communication also went through the signals unit
10 in your battalion; correct?
11 A. No. It's a civilian telephone number which has absolutely
12 nothing in common with the telephone exchange at the signals unit. It
13 was a direct telephone number at the command.
14 Q. What about the forward command post of the brigade? You didn't
15 have direct communication with them, did you?
16 A. No.
17 Q. No, you did not have it; or no, I'm not right?
18 A. No, we did not have direct communication with them. We could
19 communicate with them through the telephone exchange, as with any unit
20 within the Zvornik Brigade.
21 Q. Do you know that between the Zvornik Brigade and their forward
22 command post, there was a secure telephone communication line or not?
23 A. I suppose there was one.
24 Q. You suppose or you know?
25 A. I believe there was one, because these positions were permanent.
1 They were not moving. So I suppose there was a wire telephone
3 Q. Between the Zvornik Brigade and their forward command post on the
4 one hand, and the battalion on the other hand, there was also radio
5 communication including and connecting all the radio stations in the
7 A. That's right. But that type of communication -- I mean radio
8 communication -- was used exclusively upon orders of the superiors when
9 they would say, "Switch to radio communications." They would send us
10 such a message by telegram when we were not able to use the usual lines
11 of communication.
12 Q. I wanted to go back to the issue of telegrams so I was just
13 checking what part of that topic we've already covered. Let's clear one
14 thing up. Communication and leaving aside couriers, let us discuss
15 technical communication only, oral communication by phone, in which
16 something is being dictated on one end of the line and the same thing
17 being taken down at the other end of the line, that is what you call
18 telephone [as interpreted]; correct?
19 A. Yes.
20 MR. LUKIC: I'm sorry, it says, is "what you call telephone." It
21 should be "is what you call telegram" in line 16 on page 50 of today's
23 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Lukic.
24 MR. LUKIC: It was in my question. I asked about the telegram,
25 not telephone.
1 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. But then, of course, the answer becomes -- you
2 say in B/C/S you used the word "telegram" and that reached --
3 MR. LUKIC: Yes.
4 JUDGE ORIE: Let's just verify this. When you answered the last
5 question by a "yes," did you hear the question to be that:
6 "... oral communication by phone, in which something is being
7 dictated on one end of the line and the same thing being taken down at
8 the other end of the line, that that is what you call telegram ..."
9 Is that what you answered yes to?
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
11 JUDGE ORIE: Please proceed, Mr. Lukic.
12 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
13 Q. A telegram is an important document which contains an order; is
14 that correct?
15 A. Yes, in any case.
16 Q. The telegram can be sent by either the commander or the duty
17 operations officer on his behalf; correct? Or perhaps the Chief of Staff
18 as deputy commander?
19 A. The telegram can be sent from the brigade to the battalion by the
20 duty operations officer or all superiors, including the commander, the
21 Chief of Staff, the chief of security and intelligence, the person in
22 charge of morale, personnel service, et cetera, or assistant commander
23 for logistics.
24 Q. But if one receives a telegram containing an order --
25 A. Yes. All of those I mentioned can issue specific types of order
1 within their own domain.
2 Q. Let's go back to the second telegram. If you recall, was the
3 message taken down by the person at the switchboard and then brought it
4 in or did he put it through by telephone to your duty officer at the
6 A. I think the telegram was noted down by the duty officer at the
7 battalion command.
8 Q. Was it regular procedure?
9 A. In most cases. In order to avoid duplication, that, for example,
10 a person from the signals unit writes it down, in order to cut it short,
11 the line is put through directly to the duty officer at the battalion
12 command, who then notes down the information.
13 Q. Is it correct that a telegram written by hand, based on a
14 telephone conversation, first of all needs to contain two elements: Who
15 was the spoken message received from, and who it is addressed to?
16 A. Yes, certainly.
17 Q. Such a document also needs to contain a heading stating whether
18 it's a report or an order; correct?
19 A. Yes. If it is an order, it should read, "Order," yes.
20 Q. Next, the contents need to be visible; correct?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. And at the end, it needs to contain a signature or actually a
23 signature block of the person on whose behalf or in whose name the
24 message is being conveyed?
25 A. Yes. Usually, the position of the person was noted down, such as
1 duty operations officer or brigade commander or the chief of intelligence
2 and security.
3 Q. Are you saying that there wouldn't be any names?
4 A. There is a possibility that there was no name, only the person's
5 position or duty. It actually happened in most of the cases because it
6 is well-known who the person in question is.
7 Q. When it comes to the duty operations officer, one needn't
8 necessarily know who he is?
9 A. I agree with you.
10 Q. Now, we have your reply, which is to be sent to the original
11 address from which the first and second telegrams arrived. In that
12 situation specifically, who and how -- who sends your response and how?
13 A. The duty officer at the battalion command.
14 Q. How?
15 A. He gets in touch with the signals unit and the soldier at the
16 communication centre at the battalion gets in touch with the
17 communications company at the brigade, sending the telegram. He reads it
18 out, and as for how that information is exactly received by the brigade,
19 I can't tell you precisely since I was never in a situation like that.
20 Q. Your duty officer, does he hand over a coded message, an
21 encrypted message, or a clear text, to the signalsman?
22 A. If we are discussing coded telegrams.
23 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's note: Could the counsel repeat
24 his question?
25 THE WITNESS: [No interpretation]
1 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation]
2 Q. Sorry, my question wasn't heard and now your response is not
3 being recorded because we overlapped.
4 JUDGE ORIE: Because you restart, Mr. Lukic, with your question
5 and then we'll hear the answer again.
6 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation]
7 Q. In this specific case, if you recall, how did your duty officer
8 forward the message that was supposed to be sent to the sender of the
9 second telegram? Did he hand it in encrypted or was it a simple text
10 that he handed over to your signals unit at the battalion?
11 A. As for the second telegram, I repeat, I am not certain whether it
12 was sent encrypted. It depended on what the original telegram was. If
13 it had been encrypted, then we responded the same way. If we received an
14 unencrypted telegram, we replied using the same system. Is that what you
15 wanted to ask me?
16 Q. Yes. The reply also contains the elements we mentioned a moment
17 ago, i.e. the sender, who is the message sent to, the address, contents
18 and signature?
19 A. Yes, certainly.
20 Q. Would you agree with me that the point of encrypting messages is
21 to avoid interception?
22 A. Yes, to have as few people as possible to become familiar with
23 the contents.
24 Q. Would you agree with me then that if a message is conveyed by
25 wire, there is no need for encryption because it's a secure line which
1 cannot be intercepted?
2 A. Well, you see, I'm not sure, because the soldiers in the signals
3 unit can hear it, so if it contains confidential information or orders,
4 it can be known only by the person or persons that the telegram is
5 addressed to. That is the whole point of encrypting telegrams. It would
6 defeat the purpose to encrypt a telegram if a number of different persons
7 in the signals units and the brigade and the battalion would become
8 acquainted with its contents.
9 Q. But we will agree, and I have a few technical issues to resolve,
10 but I'll try to boil it down to only one question, which is: You don't
11 know how encryption is carried out? You are not familiar with the method
12 and technology of encryption? Is a word exchanged for another word or
13 exchanged -- replaced by a number?
14 A. I don't know what you mean exactly.
15 Q. Let me explain, then.
16 A. Are you trying to say that I wasn't familiar with the procedure
17 of decrypting telegrams?
18 Q. I wanted to ask you this: Could you use the list of call signs?
19 A. Certainly. And not only myself but any duty officer in the
20 battalion had to have undergone training to decode a coded telegram. He
21 could not carry out his duty as duty officer if he couldn't read a
22 specific telegram at that point in time, and if there is such a person,
23 they shouldn't be assigned to that kind of duty. I suppose you agree.
24 Q. Then let me ask you this, although I thought I could skip over a
25 few questions. When the second telegram arrived, when you were present,
1 in terms of the code list, were words replaced by words or by numbers?
2 What kind of call sign list was in effect?
3 A. I really can't say with any certainty. I said that --
4 JUDGE ORIE: Could I -- Mr. Lukic, I think the witness said
5 before that he didn't know whether the second telegram was encrypted, yes
6 or no, so then to ask him how it was encrypted is where he doesn't even
7 know, and he explained why he -- there might have been no need to have it
8 encrypted, is not a technical question which doesn't make much sense.
9 MR. LUKIC: Yes, I will proceed from there.
10 JUDGE ORIE: Please do so.
11 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation]
12 Q. Do you know if the first telegram was encrypted or coded?
13 A. Was it encrypted? Yes.
14 JUDGE ORIE: That question has been put and answered I think,
15 three, four or five times now. Could we just try to focus on relevant
16 matters which have not been covered yet?
17 MR. LUKIC: Thank you.
18 Q. [Interpretation] As regards the first telegram, do you know which
19 code signs list was in effect at the time?
20 A. What do you mean which code signs?
21 Q. Were numbers replaced by words or words replaced by words?
22 A. It could have been both or -- at the same time or individually.
23 Q. In terms of that telegram specifically, do you recall it?
24 A. No. Definitely not. I can't remember what was used, and I hope
25 you understand.
1 Q. Well, I hope you understand I had to ask. It suffices for you to
2 say, "I don't remember." And then we can move on. Thank you.
3 Those tables or code lists, they were changed from time to time?
4 A. Yes, periodically, every fortnight or so.
5 Q. You know Dragan Jokic, the major, don't you?
6 A. Yes, certainly.
7 Q. Did you know that on the night when you received and sent the
8 telegrams and responses, that he was the duty operations officer at the
9 Zvornik Brigade command?
10 A. It's a well-known fact nowadays. I do have that information now,
11 but at that point in time I didn't. I simply didn't remember that it was
12 Dragan Jokic. I had no need not to mention his first and last name.
13 Q. I wasn't implying that at all. We have received one document
14 from the Prosecution. It's now Exhibit 1501. It's the book of the duty
15 operations officer of the Zvornik Brigade, and in that book, logbook,
16 that night that communication with you was not recorded anywhere. Do you
17 have an explanation?
18 A. I really cannot answer that question, because I had no insight
19 into any of that, nor was I able to monitor it or check even whether
20 somebody made an effort to remove that entry. So I absolutely don't see
21 how I can be of any assistance.
22 Q. You told us you called the Zvornik Brigade that night. Did you
23 try them the next morning?
24 A. I tried to call Drago, and after that I tried to get in touch
25 with the commander of the brigade and the Chief of Staff, and again
1 I received the same answer as the previous night, but I insisted, I just
2 couldn't believe that they were unable to get in touch with the commander
3 or the Chief of Staff when they had several options available to them.
4 So I used even strong language speaking to that duty officer, because
5 I thought it was obvious they just don't want me to speak to these
7 Q. Now, when you returned from Rocevic, you called the command of
8 the Zvornik Brigade again?
9 A. You mean on the 14th?
10 Q. Yes, the 14th.
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. So as you said on page 13140 on the 22nd of June, 2007, you
13 believe you called between 11.30 and 12.15.
14 A. Possibly.
15 Q. Again, from the same exhibit that I just referred to, we see that
16 in that interval, the duty operations officer was rotated, Dragan Jokic
17 was replaced by another person. Now, even that other person failed to
18 record your call. Do you remember to whom you talked that time?
19 A. I've already said countless times that I cannot remember who that
20 was. At the time when I was speaking to that person, obviously I knew
21 who I was talking to. But later, when the first questioning started in
22 the Srebrenica case, from the first time I was questioned, it's been --
23 it was seven or six years, and at that moment I couldn't really remember
24 who that person was.
25 Q. But now you know?
1 A. Now we have information, and it's not in dispute who they were,
2 but I really can't say with any certainty. How could I remember?
3 Q. It's fine. You just have to say you don't remember.
4 A. But if I can mention one thing, the commander of the brigade
5 himself, Vinko Pandurevic, in his own evidence said --
6 Q. You really shouldn't analyse other people's evidence.
7 A. He said I had tried to get in touch with him to find out how come
8 these prisoners were at the Zvornik Brigade, and thereby he confirmed
9 himself that I had really tried. But he didn't want to speak to me about
10 it. And you can certainly find it in all the material you have
12 Q. Thank you for this useful instruction but I want to know how you
13 found out. Did you follow the trials in the Srebrenica cases?
14 A. Well, it's obvious from all the stories and what you can read on
15 the internet, the short reports. I cannot pinpoint the exact source from
16 which I learned about this particular point.
17 Q. You are aware today, aren't you, that on that day you spoke to
18 Drago Nikolic, the day after you called after returning from Rocevic?
19 A. I know that I spoke to Drago on the 14th, after midnight, yes.
20 Q. The night between the 13th and the 14th, and -- or the night
21 between the 14th and the 15th?
22 A. The night when I found out about the prisoners at Rocevic.
23 Q. The night after the 14th?
24 A. That could be the 15th then.
25 Q. The night after you found out about the prisoners in Rocevic?
1 A. That would make it the early hours of the 15th. 1.00, 1.30 p.m.
2 THE INTERPRETER: a.m., interpreter's correction.
3 JUDGE ORIE: Could you avoid overlap?
4 MR. LUKIC: I'm trying all the time.
5 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. Let's proceed and keep this in mind.
6 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation]
7 Q. After your second refusal, after the second telegram, when you
8 refused to carry out the order for the second time, you were called by
9 Drago Nikolic; right?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. When did that happen?
12 A. I've already said, and I believe --
13 Q. I don't think it was recorded.
14 A. It was after midnight. It was 1.00 a.m., perhaps 2.00 a.m.
15 Q. Earlier today, my learned friend asked you, as you were asked
16 before, what Drago Nikolic had told you. You said he had told you the
17 order had come from higher up, but never before today did you say that
18 higher up meant the Main Staff. Would you agree with me that today was
19 the first time you said it meant from the Main Staff?
20 A. I do believe I said it in my earlier testimony.
21 Q. Well, I was not able to find it.
22 A. You can rest assured that I said it before, 90 per cent sure.
23 Q. The Prosecution will correct me if I'm wrong.
24 A. That's my assumption. Excuse me. That was --
25 JUDGE ORIE: You said you're 90 per cent sure. That's -- of
1 course the parties have an opportunity to verify that on the basis of the
2 transcripts. Let's proceed at this moment --
3 MR. LUKIC: Thank you, Your Honour.
4 JUDGE ORIE: -- and not enter into a debate on that matter.
5 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation]
6 Q. You say it's 90 per cent, your assumption, but still it's your
8 A. My assumption was --
9 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Lukic, I said let's not have a debate on that.
10 Ninety per cent means the witness is not perfectly certain and then to
11 start a debate on how certain or not, but I think Mr. Mladic would like
12 to consult you for a moment. And could it be done with the microphones
13 switched off and at a volume level not audible for anyone else in this
15 [Defence counsel and Accused confer]
16 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation]
17 Q. Under the rules, Drago Nikolic at the Zvornik Brigade does not
18 receive orders from the Main Staff; right?
19 A. He probably received them through the corps. In most cases, of
20 course, I agree with you.
21 Q. If an order came from the corps, could it be said that it had
22 arrived from higher up, relative to Drago Nikolic?
23 A. On that occasion, when Drago Nikolic told me that, and from the
24 way he said it, I understood it as meaning the Main Staff. Whether that
25 understanding was correct, whether I was right, I cannot maintain.
1 Q. All right.
2 A. My assumption was that it meant the Main Staff.
3 Q. All right. At that time, you had never seen anyone from the
4 Main Staff; is that correct? Nor did you receive any orders personally
5 from the Main Staff?
6 A. General Mladic was in my defence area, but I was not present
7 there at that time, and as for other members of the Main Staff, I'm not
8 sure whether I had ever been in contact with them in the field or not. I
9 cannot be sure about that.
10 Q. Let me put it differently. Today, you don't remember that you
11 had received any orders from any member of the Main Staff?
12 A. Any order that would state specifically that it came from the
13 Main Staff, no. Am I making myself clear?
14 Q. Yes, you are.
15 JUDGE MOLOTO: Just for my understanding of your question,
16 Mr. Lukic, are you talking about an order coming from the Main Staff
17 directly to him and not coming through the chain of command?
18 MR. LUKIC: Any, any kind, if he's aware that there is an order
19 coming in regard to that operation, Srebrenica operation, or action,
20 whatever we call it.
21 JUDGE MOLOTO: You're talking about this specific operation.
22 MR. LUKIC: Yes, Srebrenica operation.
23 May I proceed? Thank you. I think it's time for our next break.
24 JUDGE ORIE: We are close to that point in time. I think we
25 started at --
1 MR. LUKIC: I'm moving to another topic, so --
2 JUDGE ORIE: You're moving to another topic. Then we take the
3 break now. Perhaps we first ask the witness to be escorted out of the
5 [The witness stands down]
6 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Lukic, could you give us an indication as to how
7 much more time you would need?
8 MR. LUKIC: More than I asked for, but I hope I'll finish in a
9 time limit I asked for. I asked for three and a half hours and I doubt
10 that we can finish today with this witness.
11 JUDGE ORIE: Indeed, you asked for three and a half hours.
12 MR. LUKIC: Yes.
13 JUDGE ORIE: Let's first take the break. We will take the break
14 and perhaps during the break, Mr. Lukic, you try to find out whether --
15 especially a lot of hypothetical questions we have heard, a lot of
16 hypothetical questions, not that directly going to the knowledge of the
17 witness, whether you could perhaps skip some of those and see how much
18 time you then still need. We take the break and we resume at 10 minutes
19 to 2.00.
20 --- Recess taken at 1.28 p.m.
21 --- On resuming at 1.50 p.m.
22 JUDGE ORIE: Could the witness be escorted into the courtroom.
23 [The witness takes the stand]
24 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Lukic, you may proceed.
25 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
1 Q. Mr. Acimovic, may we continue?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. I'll go back a bit. You said that General Mladic was in the area
4 of your battalion?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Did you have in mind 1993 or 1995, and if it was 1995, at what
8 A. I think when operations in Zeca Kosa, Visoko Glavica, and that
9 area were under way.
10 Q. Timewise, when it would be?
11 A. I can't say with any certainty when it took place.
12 Q. Let's start with the year.
13 A. Well, it could have been 1994, but I really can't be any more
15 Q. Thank you. I'm only interested in whether it applied to
16 July 1995.
17 A. No. It's a different period.
18 Q. Thank you.
19 [Defence counsel and Accused confer]
20 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation]
21 Q. Apologies. Thank you for your patience, because occasionally
22 I consult with the general. You also told us that there was a group from
23 Visegrad there. Do you have any additional information to share?
24 A. I wouldn't say there was a group. There was the odd individual
25 in that unit. That's what I heard. Now, whether that piece of
1 information is correct or not, I really can't say. The unit was from
2 Bratunac, as far as I remember.
3 Q. When you say, "the unit," it was the people guarding the
4 prisoners in the school in Rocevic?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Is it a fact that they were quite young, the people who stood
7 guard over the prisoners? How would you describe them, in your own
8 words? Were they tidy or unkempt? What did they look like?
9 A. Well, it was very warm at the time. They were dressed
10 differently. Some were in T-shirts, camouflage T-shirts. Others in
11 shirts. There were even individuals who were naked to the waist. But
12 their behaviour didn't strike me as normal. They behaved in such a
13 triumphant way, implying that someone above the Zvornik Brigade was their
14 superior, as if someone else was in command and control of their unit
15 rather than the Zvornik Brigade. They were quite gung ho.
16 JUDGE ORIE: The Chamber has some difficulties in understanding
17 exactly what "gung ho" is. I'm not a native-speaking person.
18 THE INTERPRETER: Arrogant.
19 JUDGE ORIE: Thank you very much for the explanation. Let's move
21 MR. LUKIC: Thank you.
22 Q. [Interpretation] Did they give away the impression as if not
23 belonging to any regular unit and that they were paramilitaries?
24 A. I wouldn't say so. You see, at the time, the period we are
25 talking about in 1995, there were no paramilitary formations in our area,
1 in the Zvornik Brigade, that is.
2 Q. And you say that they did not come from the area?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Do you have any details about the persons in question, perhaps
5 first or last names?
6 A. No. No information could be received about the soldiers. I did
7 try to engage in a relatively normal relationship with them in order to
8 obtain some information, but their attitude was such that they lent very
9 little manoeuvring space. They simply were of the opinion that they
10 didn't need to provide whatever information.
22 JUDGE ORIE: Could we move into private session for a second?
23 [Private session]
11 Pages 13272-13277 redacted. Private session.
4 [Open session]
5 THE REGISTRAR: We are in open session, Your Honours.
6 JUDGE ORIE: Thank you, Madam Registrar. Could the parties
7 carefully consider tomorrow whether we have to continue into
8 private session or not. Perhaps Mr. McCloskey or a person named
9 McCloskey could discuss the matter with a person named Lukic and then we
10 would like to hear from you. We adjourn for the day and we will resume
11 tomorrow, Tuesday, the 25th of June, in courtroom I at 9.30 in the
13 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 2.16 p.m.,
14 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 25th day of June,
15 2013, at 9.30 a.m.