1 THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL
2 FOR THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA
3 IN THE TRIAL CHAMBER
4 Case No. IT-95-18-R61
5 Case No. IT-95-5-R61
7 Thursday, 4th July 1996
10 JUDGE JORDA
11 (The Presiding Judge)
13 JUDGE ODIO BENITO
14 JUDGE RIAD
15 THE PROSECUTOR OF THE TRIBUNAL
19 RADOVAN KARADZIC
20 RATKO MLADIC
21 MR. ERIC OSTBERG, MR. MARK HARMON and MR. TERREE BOWERS appeared
22 on behalf of the Prosecution
24 (Open Session)
25 (10.00 a.m.)
1 THE PRESIDING JUDGE [In translation]: First question, can everyone hear
2 me? Mr. Harmon, can you hear me? Can you hear me, counsel for the
4 MR. HARMON: Yes.
5 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Great. Can the Registry hear me? Interpreters can
6 hear me? Everybody can hear what is going on. The visitors' gallery?
7 Everyone can hear what is going on? No technical problem? Fellow
8 Judges hear me? Terrific. Now, Mr. Harmon, we can proceed with
9 Colonel Karremans' testimony and I would ask the usher to bring him
11 MR. HARMON: Thank you, your Honour.
12 COLONEL THOMAS KARREMANS, recalled.
13 Examined by MR. HARMON, continued.
14 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Colonel Karremans, good morning. You can hear me?
15 THE WITNESS: Yes, I can, your Honour.
16 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Fine, so we shall resume with your testimony. You
17 have been called by the Prosecution in the case of the Prosecution
18 against Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. Please proceed.
19 MR. HARMON: Thank you, your Honour. Colonel Karremans, yesterday you
20 described the Bosnian Serb Army blockade that slowly strangled the
21 enclave as a convoy of terror. What effect did this have on the
22 occupants in the enclave?
23 A. I would like to stipulate some things which I have said yesterday
24 concerning the circumstances, I must say the miserable circumstances,
25 for the inhabitants of the enclave, but also for my own Battalion.
1 That could explain something on the circumstances up to 6th July.
2 Those, let us say, miserable circumstances in April, May and June were
3 caused, what I said yesterday, by refusing the incoming convoys,
4 either for the battalion or by UNHCR for the refugees. Thus, we had
5 to do with a strangulation of the enclave or, so to call, an
6 isolation, a total blockade.
7 That meant for the population, for instance, that their
8 situation was poorer than poor. There was starvation for the
9 refugees. Some died by the starvation. There was no medical
10 treatment at all for the population, no doctors, no dentists, no
11 medicines. The Medicine sans Frontieres, MSF, was not able to fulfil
12 its job in the local hospital. We could not do anything about
13 infrastructure to support the local authorities like housing, like
14 generators, power and electricity and water supply for the
16 It ended up, for instance, that hundreds of inhabitants of the
17 enclave lived literally on the garbage collection point. There was
18 no travel allowed both for the population and for the Battalion.
19 What was agreed in the beginning in 1993, so-called freedom of
20 movement, there was no freedom of movement at all.
21 Our conclusion for the inhabitants, the population of enclave,
22 was that the situation was hopeless, inhuman and a lot of suffering
23 for the people.
24 On the other side, for the Battalion, I would like to describe
25 that a little bit too, if I may, and I use a couple of parameters
1 which I also put in my reports for the higher echelons and also for
2 my national authorities. In the first place, the logistics, I have
3 told you, your Honours, a little bit about that yesterday on the
4 diesel, the lack of diesel which implied that we have to live in the
5 dark with my Battalion for a couple of months. We had no electricity
6 for water, for heating and the weather conditions in those days till
7 the end of May were extreme, a lot of rain day after day, so we
8 cannot use our vehicles, on one side, because of a lack of fuel, but
9 on the other side, the roads we had in the enclave we could not use
11 Because of the lack of diesel, we had to patrol by foot with
12 all the consequences of the mines all over the area. There was no
13 possibility of resupplying my observation posts and that is why we
14 used horses from the locals. What I said before, there was no
15 heating especially under those extreme weather conditions. We had no
16 medicines. We had no spare parts, we had no engineer equipment and
17 no food except our combat rations and we lived on combat rations a
18 long time. We called that at the end a "logistical regime".
19 Then on my own personnel, the soldiers, I had a lack of
20 personnel because they could not enter the enclave as of 26th April.
21 They got no mail from home. There was no freedom of movement. We
22 could not leave the enclave. We could not enter the enclave. The
23 third parameter were the operations. We have adjusted the orders for
24 the Battalion several times (and I explained that yesterday) from
25 eight observations posts to 12 and even 13 at the end, patrolling by
1 foot instead of using armoured personnel carriers. We made
2 contingency plans as of, let us say, the air strikes in Pale at the
3 end of May. Contingency plans were for the observation posts one
4 hour notice, and one hour notice meant that the soldiers on an
5 observation post after an order should leave the observation post
6 within an hour. That was 24 hours a day, the time we have been
8 Humanitarian support, I just explained that to you, we were
9 not able to support the population within the enclave. One of the
10 other parameters was the psychological effect on the soldiers, but
11 also on the population, the morale of the Battalion but also from the
12 population. The terrain conditions were bad and the weather
13 conditions were even badder. That ended up with 25th May that I
14 informed in a long report to all the higher echelons and to the
15 national authorities that I was not able to fulfil my mission any
16 longer. That meant the end of the mission, period.
17 Then we started with making all improvisations. Using those
18 improvisations, we could handle the mission more or less until 6th
20 Q. Colonel Karremans, based on the Bosnian Serb blockade and its effects
21 as well as the capture of 55 of your soldiers by the Bosnian Serb
22 Army, did you feel you had the means to fulfil your mission?
23 A. Not at the end. In the beginning, when we started in January, I
24 could fulfil the mission based on the mandate, based on what I had,
25 personnel, equipment, the incoming convoys, but at the end of my stay
1 over there, the answer is no.
2 Q. Now I would like to turn your attention to the actual invasion
3 itself. What was the effect on the civilian population once the
4 invasion started?
5 A. As you know, your Honours, the invasion started on 6th July. It
6 started with heavy fighting in the southern part of the enclave in the
7 direct vicinity of OP Fox Trot, and by shelling the city of Srebrenica
8 itself, the compounds and some other observation posts, but actually
9 it started in the south.
10 In the southern part of the enclave, there was the so-called
11 Swedish shelter project, a lot of housing built under Swedish
12 authorities. In that Swedish shelter project there used to live about
13 3,000 refugees. As soon as the attacks started in the southern part,
14 all those refugees flew in the northern direction towards the city of
15 Srebrenica. You can imagine there was panic, chaos in those days,
16 what I explained before, no food and there was no way to give them
17 houses in Srebrenica itself -- panic, I must say.
18 Q. Where did the people flee to?
19 A. They flee to Srebrenica.
20 Q. Did they flee to the UN compound in Srebrenica?
21 A. Not in the beginning. That was, I think, on 10th, on the Monday, and
22 of course at the last day, on Tuesday 11th.
23 Q. How many refugees were in and around the UN compound in Srebrenica?
24 A. I do not know exactly, but that must be hundreds at the compound and
25 maybe thousands around it. They were all guarded together.
1 Q. What happened to those refugees in the compound around Srebrenica?
2 A. Do I have to refer to the 11th, the last day?
3 Q. Please.
4 A. Because at that day and the days before Srebrenica itself was already
5 shelled quite some times and at the 11th, well, while all those
6 refugees were guarded together, at least most of them, the BSA started
7 shelling the city. It started shelling the compound of Srebrenica
8 itself and that ended up with a lot of wounded persons, death. Also,
9 in the morning and on the morning of the 11th, we already evacuated
10 the local hospital and we brought all the wounded persons to the
11 compound of Potocari.
12 As soon as the shelling started in the afternoon of the 11th,
13 just before the air strikes or during the air attacks, all the
14 refugees flee into the direction of Potocari, in the northern
15 direction, to the compound of Battalion staff and staff company.
16 Q. So, Colonel Karremans, some of the BSA artillery shells landed in and
17 around the UN compound itself in Srebrenica; is that correct?
18 A. That is correct, sir.
19 Q. Did that cause civilian casualties?
20 A. That caused civilian casualties.
21 Q. You mentioned as a result of the attacks on the city of Srebrenica
22 itself there was a large exodus of civilians that fled to Potocari; is
23 that correct?
24 A. That is correct.
25 Q. Did the refugees who fled from the UN compound in Srebrenica flee to
1 the UN compound in Potocari?
2 A. Yes, they did.
3 Q. Approximately, how many people gathered in and around the UN compound
4 in Potocari?
5 A. It is just an estimation, of course, but we were forced to split up
6 the group of refugees because there were so many thousands. We put,
7 let us put it that way, or "invited" is a better word, we invited
8 about 4,000 to 5,000 refugees within our own compound of Potocari and
9 then it was completely full, filled up, with refugees and our own
10 personnel. Then we had another 15,000 to 20,000 persons still outside
11 of the compound of Potocari and we used two or three shelled factories
12 just in the vicinity of the compound of Potocari.
13 Q. What was the percentage of women to men in the 25,000 refugees that
14 you say congregated in and around the compound?
15 A. About those 25,000 refugees, most of them were women, children and
16 elderly people. I think, and that is what I have stated before, there
17 were about two to three per cent men between 16 and 60.
18 Q. Could you please describe the general conditions that were present in
19 and around the compound?
20 A. Yes, I can. The general conditions from the people, the refugees, it
21 is what I explained before, was poorer than poor. They had not had
22 food and water supplies during the six days war over there. They were
23 in a very bad condition, and we had no means to supply them, only by
24 the water we had left into our own compound and some food and some
25 medicines left, but the general condition of the people was
1 miserable, more than miserable.
2 Q. Amongst those 25,000 refugees, were there some pregnant women who were
3 delivering their babies?
4 A. Yes, there were, what I heard later on, there were five pregnant
5 women with their little babies. What I heard was that one man hung
6 himself during the stay over there and life was, let us say, going on
7 during the two days that we had all those refugees around us.
8 Q. OK. Now I would like to turn your attention to air strikes. Can you
9 please describe those air strikes to the court?
10 A. Yes, I can. As everybody knows, I have asked several times for air
11 strikes, looking to the mandate, the mandate which asked in the
12 beginning of the establishing or the establishment of the safe areas
13 of Srebrenica and Zepa and Gorazde, that one needed about 40,000
14 soldiers for that, and that was diminished after negotiations to about
15 8,000; that they changed the mandate in that sense that they combined
16 it with air strikes or, let us say, close air support, air support in
18 That was one of the parts of the mandate, and that was what I
19 am referring to, that as soon as the attacks started on 6th, I asked
20 for a close air support because one of OPs was attacked, UN troops
21 were attacked, the city of Srebrenica had been shelled. There was no
22 close air support available on the days that I have asked for that,
23 except at the last day, on the 11th, on the Tuesday. I have asked
24 that in the very early morning. I expected that at 6 o'clock. I had
25 a meeting during the night from Monday to Tuesday with the local
1 authorities and the military authorities. We discussed that even,
2 and told them that we expected air strikes or close air support in
3 the very early morning on 11th. That did not come. It did not show
5 Afternoon, about 2 o'clock, the air strikes started. It had
6 no effect on the population. It had no effect on the mission of the
7 Battalion because everybody knows that the air strikes or close air
8 support was too late and too little. It had an effect on the way
9 General Mladic reacted.
10 Q. Before I get to that point, let me just clarify one point with you,
11 Colonel Karremans, was it your understanding when you were the
12 Commanding Officer of the Dutch BAT unit in Srebrenica that air
13 support was supposed to be a significant part of the protection
14 measures available to you and to the population of Srebrenica; is that
16 A. That is correct, it was.
17 Q. OK. You mentioned that there were air strikes and that they were too
18 little, too late, is that your testimony?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. What effect did those air strikes have on General Mladic?
21 A. The effect was that through the hijacked soldiers, about 30 in
22 Bratunac, on one of the BSA kasserns over there, Mladic or one of his
23 officers used the communications equipment of the vehicles over there,
24 and ordered me to stop immediately using air support; and if that was
25 not the case, if I was not able to stop that immediately, he should
1 use all this weaponry -- that is what he told -- to shell the compound
2 of Potocari, to shell the refugees within and around the compound and
3 kill the 30 hijacked soldiers.
4 Q. Did General Mladic have the ability to deliver on those threats?
5 A. He could, he had the ability, because he had guarded a lot of
6 weaponry around the compound on top of the hills like mortars, two
7 main bell tanks, artillery and, what I explained already yesterday,
8 the multiple launch rocket system from different types, all in direct
9 side or direct direction of the compound and he could use that.
10 Q. In fact, he had already used that on the UN compound in Srebrenica?
11 A. Yes, he did.
12 Q. I would like to turn to another topic now, Colonel Karremans, and that
13 is meetings you had with General Mladic. Can you explain the
14 circumstances of your first meeting with General Mladic and explain
15 when it occurred and where it occurred?
16 A. Yes, sir. The first meeting I had with General Mladic was on Tuesday
17 night at half past 8. I was notified by my OPs room, they got a
18 message, again through the same communication systems, that I had to
19 show up in Bratunac for a meeting. I did not know what kind of
20 meeting that should be, but I expected with somebody from the BSA,
21 maybe Colonel Vukovic or Nikolic, or whatsoever.
22 I was not before in Bratunac, but my LO liaison officers had a
23 couple of times been there talking about trade, about military
24 options with the BSA, so they came with me, two liaison officers. We
25 went to the hotel in Bratunac and there was a crowd of military
1 persons all in combat wear, gear, and clothes. There I met for the
2 first time General Mladic. I did not know that he was there. I have
3 not met him before, not in life, and there was also General
4 Zivanovic, the Corps Commander of the Drina Corps. We were all
5 standing there at half past 8.
6 There were a lot of press around, television, and General
7 Mladic started accusing me of all things what happened in the last six
8 days, that I was responsible for the air strikes or the air support,
9 killed some of his people, soldiers, that my soldiers had tried to
10 kill him because of shooting at him, that we were not able to disarm
11 the BiH forces within the enclave and so forth and so forth.
12 Q. While he was addressing you was he speaking calmly?
13 A. No, he was shouting more or less.
14 Q. Then what happened?
15 A. Then we got our famous glass in our hands, water.
16 Q. Would you describe how that occurred?
17 A. Yes, we just got a glass of something in our hand and did not toast
18 with that, but the circumstances were, if you can imagine, bad at that
19 time because we too did not sleep for five nights and had not had
20 hardly no food, no water, lived in shelters and bunkers. So we were
21 all, let us say, not well for the meeting like that.
22 Q. Was there a camera crew present at the meeting?
23 A. There was a camera crew present and they put everything on tape.
24 Q. After the glass was put in your hand, were pictures taken of you and
25 other Dutch officers?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. How long did that meeting last, Colonel Karremans?
3 A. Not too long. I think three three-quarters of an hour. I was able
4 to explain the poor situation of the refugees which I did. I asked
5 him for supply of food, water, medicines, and then he said to me, "You
6 will have to, you should return for a second meeting at half past 11
7 just before midnight", I should take with me a representative of the
8 refugees, if it was possible, one of the civil authorities of the
9 opstina. That was it.
10 Q. What did you then do?
11 A. Then we went back to -- we left the hotel in Bratunac and drove back
12 to the compound. The first thing I did there, I had a quick talk with
13 my Deputy Battalion Commander and were desperately looking for a
14 representative of the refugees. One of my officers knew and he saw
15 him, that the head or the director of the secondary school of
16 Srebrenica was amongst the refugees within the compound of Potocari.
17 We found him and we explained the situation, that I have had a meeting
18 with General Mladic and that he ordered, more or less, me to bring
19 with me for a second meeting one of the representatives, a
20 representative of the refugees, and asked him if he was willing to go
21 with me to that meeting, and he was.
22 Q. Did you then return to Bratunac that evening?
23 A. I returned to Bratunac that evening just before midnight, with my
24 same two liaison officers and with Mr. Mandzic. Mr. Malic was the
1 Q. Who were the representatives of the Bosnian Serb Army at that meeting?
2 A. The second meeting?
3 Q. Yes.
4 A. More or less the same which I met in the first meeting, General
5 Mladic, General Zivanovic, there was an interpreter, which I referred
6 already to yesterday, Mr. Petr, a couple of BSA officers and one or
7 two civilians who I did not know.
8 Q. At that second meeting did you request permission for convoys to pass
9 through and ask permission for some form of relief for the refugees
10 who were in and around your compound?
11 A. Yes, I did.
12 Q. Would you please describe that second meeting?
13 A. The second meeting was a little bit more friendlier than the first
14 one, I must say, and I was able to explain again the very bad
15 circumstances and the situation in and around the compound concerning
16 the refugees. Again I asked for support on medicines, water supplies,
17 food. The wounded, I had about 100 wounded persons in the field
18 dressing station, all in shelters. He made note of my requests
19 without saying if he could do something about it.
20 Then he started with his demands in, let us say, a kind of
21 monologue. He asked me and also the representative of the refugees,
22 Mr. Mandzic, that all Bosnian soldiers should lay down their weapons
23 and deliver those weapons in the hands of the BSA. He said that he
24 had a clear attitude towards the BiH soldiers, survive or disappear.
25 He asked me and the representative to come back the next
1 morning at 10.00 to have a third meeting. He promised that there
2 will be a cease-fire which I had asked for until 10 o'clock the next
3 morning, Wednesday, and if there will not be any support of the BiH
4 in delivering their weapons, action should be taken by him by again
5 shelling what he stated before of the compound and the refugees.
6 He told something about Mr. Izetbegovic, the President of the
7 Muslim people in Sarajevo, that he killed more Serb people during the
8 last years than the Bosnian Serb Army did. He stated that he was not
9 willing to use power against women and children.
10 He asked me if Naser Oric -- Naser Oric was, let us say, the
11 commanding officer of BiH forces -- if he could show up, I mean, if I
12 could take him with him for the next meeting. I explained to him
13 that we have not seen Naser Oric since April. He has not been back
14 in the enclave since April.
15 He stated that he was prepared to take over the about 100 or
16 110 wounded persons, and he guaranteed that if he had taken over or
17 should have taken over the wounded, he guaranteed that they would
18 have the same treatment as what is normal for treating the wounded,
19 according to the Conventions of Geneva, Geneva Conventions. Again he
20 stated or said or demanded that we should come back the next morning
21 with a delegation of the people, a delegation of the refugees, and if
22 it was possible, the civilian and military authorities from the
24 Again he stated that handing over the weapons by BiH soldiers
25 would mean survival of them; "If they should keep their weapons", he
1 said, "that will be their death". He stated that if BiH soldiers
2 should hand over their weapons, that they will be treated according to
3 the Geneva Conventions, and he stated at the end that the destiny of
4 the Muslim people was in his hands.
5 Q. Did he also make any statement with regard to whether NATO or the UN
6 were capable of guaranteeing the existence of the safe area?
7 A. Yes, he quoted some words on that subject, but that he already did in
8 the first meeting. I would like to say a meeting, between brackets,
9 he stated that UN forces in general were not able to fulfil, let us
10 say, the arrangements made by the cease-fire agreement and the UN
11 resolutions as of 1993. I refer to the demilitarisation of the
12 enclave. He said that in the first meeting and also in the second
13 meeting that "Your United Nations forces were not able to fulfil their
15 Q. After that second meeting did you return to the UN compound in
17 A. Yes, sir. We did return in the middle of the night -- I think that
18 meeting lasted one-and-a-half hours in total -- went back to the
19 compound of Potocari. I had a telephone call with sector north-east;
20 told him what happened that day, what happened during those two
21 meetings, what was the demanded by General Mladic. Then we started
22 looking for more representatives to have them prepared for the
23 meeting on the next morning.
24 I had a long talk again with my deputy, with some officers of
25 the Battalion staff, how to find those specific persons and at the end
1 we found them, we found a woman and one other person. So I had next
2 morning three persons for the committee of refugees.
3 Q. So the next morning there was a third meeting, is that correct,
4 Colonel Karremans?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Where did that take place?
7 A. The third meeting took place again in Bratunac, the same hotel.
8 Q. Approximately, what time did that meeting take place?
9 A. 10.30.
10 Q. Can you describe the circumstances of that meeting?
11 A. Yes. It was more or less as the second one. The same persons, at
12 least most of them, which I met in the second meeting and there were
13 some civilians as well attended that meeting. I did not know them.
14 They were introduced, but I cannot remember which jobs they had. They
15 were all from Bratunac and Zvornik. He started welcoming myself and
16 the liaison officers and also the committee of three persons.
17 Q. When you say "he" are you referring to General Mladic?
18 A. General Mladic, yes. Then the two other, let us say, the new
19 representatives were able to introduce themselves shortly, started
20 with the woman. She made some statements, very clear statements,
21 towards General Mladic about the very poor, bad, miserable
22 circumstances of all the refugees; that refugees were not responsible
23 for what happened in the enclave during the last two or three years
24 and that women and children were not responsible for those things
25 which have happened. She was the representative of all women and
1 children. They were all civilians and no military and no politicians.
2 Also, the men introduced themselves and he asked for help and
3 he said and stated, not blaming the refugees, and that they need a
4 lot of things which I have already stated, had already stated before,
5 like medicines, food, water and other supplies. He said that neither
6 he nor my Battalion staff or myself were able to make contact with
7 the Bosnian government during that night to ask for specific points
8 for that third meeting, which meant that he was not able to lean on
9 mandates or on other things to explain to General Mladic.
10 After those statements of the two other representatives and
11 Mr. Mandzic was already invited to tell something about himself during
12 the second meeting, the day before, General Mladic started his
14 Q. Will you describe that monologue, please?
15 A. It was a very long monologue. He started with a piece of history.
16 In 1992, that the Bosnian Army, the Bosnian soldiers -- and he blamed
17 Oric specially for that -- that they killed a lot of Bosnian-Serb
18 families, soldiers, civilians, that they attacked a lot of villages in
19 the surroundings of the city of Srebrenica, devastated a lot of
20 villages and that, according to that and what happened in 1993, as
21 soon as those safe havens or safe areas had been established, that the
22 destiny of poor people was in the hands of the Bosnian Serbs. That
23 was one of his other statements, he said it was too late for help,
24 help either by the Bosnian government or by the UN troops.
25 He said that there was a lot of misery in the last years, that
1 the BiH forces within the enclave had murdered a lot around the
2 enclave by raids looking for food, revenge, looking for revenge,
4 He stated that he was willing to assist refugees, those 25,000
5 refugees, but that he needed assistance, assistance by the local
6 civilian and military authorities, from which I already explained
7 that they were not available at the moment, not within that group of
8 25,000 refugees.
9 He again said regarding the BiH forces, the same expression as
10 the day before, "survive or disappear". He again requested to the
11 BiH forces to hand over their weapons, even criminals amongst them
12 could hand over their weapons.
13 The second subject he stated was that the guarded population
14 in and around the compound had the choice either to stay in
15 Srebrenica or to be evacuated, to be evacuated to Serbia, to the
16 Bosnian territory around Tuzla, or even to foreign countries. He
17 said that the whole former, at that moment, former safe area had been
18 encircled by his forces and that fightings should stop. We could hear
19 that during the night before and the day that there were still fights
20 and attacks going on.
21 He stated that he was not able to assist the refugees as long
22 as fights were going on. He stated that BiH forces could hand over
23 their weapons in the presence of UN forces, UNPROFOR, he stated in
24 general. I think he meant Dutch BAT.
25 He stated that he was willing to assist with the evacuation.
1 That was the first time in the third meeting that he used the word
2 "evacuation". Then he stated that there used to be a good life in
3 and around Srebrenica and in and around the vicinity of Srebrenica,
4 and that he liked to have the same situation, that good life before
5 1992, that he would like to have that situation back.
6 He said that, looking back or referring to that lecture in
7 history, he did not like to kill what happened in 1992 and 1993. He,
8 as a professional soldier, had no joy in killing either civilians or
9 military. Again, he offered his help and the committee of refugees
10 should think that over, think about how they could assist in the
12 He asked for our basic needs, I mean, what did we use, what
13 did the refugees use, concerning food, water, medicines, medical
14 support and so forth. He asked again how many refugees there were and
15 we answered again 25,000, around 25,000. The committee stated that
16 most of the refugees liked to go to their family and be guarded
17 together with their husbands, and he stated that nobody should be
18 forced to be evacuated. On the other hand, he said that if NATO air
19 strikes or air support should be the case in other areas in Bosnia,
20 that he should use his weaponry again and taking sanctions.
21 Q. Can you explain what he meant by that?
22 A. The same what he said or stated in the first meeting and before the
23 first meeting, that if air strikes should occur again, that he should
24 shell, let us say, the compound and the refugees in and around the
1 He said he would like to see all the men between 17 and 60. I
2 asked him, and also both the men in the delegation, "What for?" His
3 answer was that he would like to see all those persons because he
4 said, he stated, there were a lot of war criminals amongst them and
5 he would like to speak with them.
6 Again, he asked if we were able to come in contact with
7 soldiers whom Mladic knew. He was referring, of course, to Naser
8 Oric, which I explained him before that he was not available, and
9 some other persons, let us say, the commanding officers of the BiH
10 within the enclave. Again I told him that there were no BiH soldiers
11 available at the moment. So, there was no possibility to look for
12 him because we were guarded together with all the refugees in a very,
13 very small area. I mean, the compound and the two or three factories
14 just in the vicinity of it and we lost our eyes and ears in the rest
15 of the enclave. So we were not able to pick up those military
17 Then he stated in his monologue that the BiH soldiers had only
18 24 hours to hand over all the weapons. After that statement, he asked
19 some very specific conditions of the refugees. He stated that if he
20 was able to assist, he preferred in a kind of priority to look for
21 the weak persons first, for the wounded persons, and later on the
22 rest of the refugees, women and children. He said that nobody should
23 be hurt and that co-ordination and co-operation with UNPROFOR, Dutch
24 BAT in particular, was one of his priorities.
25 What I just stated, that he mentioned "evacuation" during his
1 monologue for the first time, he asked for diesel for the evacuation.
2 You can imagine that I started laughing a little bit because he was
3 exactly aware of what I had for diesel; there was none, nothing, nil,
4 and that I was not able to support him by giving him diesel. He said
5 that his forces, BSA forces, will give escort during the evacuation.
6 I said, "No, if there should be an evacuation anyway that my own
7 Battalion should escort the evacuation". Then I explained to him in
8 which way I should execute that.
9 Q. What was your proposal to General Mladic?
10 A. My proposal was to put on every vehicle one soldier, not knowing how
11 many vehicles that was. As soon as the evacuation started the same
12 day, at 3 o'clock -- I think we come to that?
13 Q. We will come to that a little later in your testimony.
14 A. Yes, I was unable to do that. I was unable to put on each vehicle
15 one soldier. Then he said that, and it was quite a remarkable
16 expression, that Allah will not help, was not able to help, and Mladic
17 could. He gave his word. He said to the commission not to be in
18 panic, not to be afraid, and asked them to send that message to the
20 I have asked again when that was possible, what happened or
21 what should happen with the men between 17 and 60. He again said or
22 stated that there were quite some war criminals amongst them, and
23 that he liked to investigate person by person what they have done and
24 what kind of persons those were.
25 At the end of that meeting, all of a sudden, he started
1 something to tell about the evacuation again, and he proposed, let us
2 say it in that way, he proposed, that Kladanj should be the point for
3 evacuation. Kladanj is a small village just on the border between
4 Bosnian-Serb territory and the Bosnian territory around Tuzla. In
5 fact, Kladanj is the first Muslim city in that area.
6 Repeated, he repeated that within 24 hours all soldiers of the
7 BiH, even in uniform or not in uniform, even war criminals amongst
8 the BiH forces, could hand over and should hand over the weapons. He
9 said, "It is better to live than to die".
10 Then he referred to something what I said again, what I have
11 said already yesterday or explained yesterday, that he knew
12 everything what was going on in the enclave, what happened in the
13 enclave day by day, and that he had persons in the enclave who
14 informed, who informed them every day. So he was well aware of what
15 was going on.
16 Then he showed to us at the end of the meeting a book, there
17 was a book of the opstina, a book in which marriages were assigned by
18 people, marriage, and that the last marriage was on 29th June. He
19 had as a piece of remembrance, I presume, a thing from, let us say,
20 the entry of the opstina.
21 He ended with something to say to the woman of the committee,
22 that she was a fine woman, that she was open, or had been open, in
23 the way of statements towards Mladic, and he did not say anything to
24 both male representatives. Last but not least, he asked us, urged us,
25 finding contact with the BiH forces and to convince them to hand over
1 their weapons within 24 hours. That was, I think, the whole meeting.
2 Q. What time did the meeting end, Colonel Karremans?
3 A. I think about noonish, about 12 o'clock, because at 12.30 I had a
4 meeting in the compound with the committee.
5 Q. What time did the first transports arrive to take the refugees away
6 from the compound?
7 A. He said during the third meeting, I forgot that to say, that the
8 evacuation should start about 1.00, but it was not well organised in
9 the beginning, or efficiently organised, so the evacuation started at
10 3 o'clock.
11 Q. So three hours from the conclusion of your meeting with General Mladic
12 transport arrived inside in and around Potocari to start take refugees
14 A. That is correct.
15 Q. What type of transport arrived?
16 A. A lot of buses, I think 20 or 30, vans, big lorries and small
17 military vehicles. I think the first evacuation was about between 40
18 and 50 vehicles and that was also, let us say, one of my decision
19 points to change from one soldier at every vehicle to what we have
20 done later on, put two vehicles with officers to escort the
22 Q. So, as a result of the number of vehicles, you realised that you did
23 not have enough troops to put on one soldier per vehicle to accompany
24 the convoy; is that correct?
25 A. That is correct, sir.
1 Q. So did you formulate another solution?
2 A. We formulated, indeed, another solution.
3 Q. Describe that solution, please.
4 A. That solution was that we should escort each convoy by two vehicles,
5 two jeeps, seater jeeps; in every jeep one officer or non-commissioned
6 officer and a driver with communications up to Kladanj and then they
7 should return and pick up, let us say, the next evacuation.
8 Q. What happened to those escort vehicles?
9 A. In the first escort or in the first evacuation, I put my personnel
10 officer, a captain, and one of the liaison officers. They managed to
11 go with all the persons in that convoy to cross the border in the area
12 of Kladanj. The vehicles left in the convoy returning to Srebrenica
13 which disappeared and that happened with the other vehicles during the
14 next evacuations too, and totally or in total 14. They were just
15 picked up en route either by BSA forces or irregular forces.
16 Q. So I understand clearly, the first escort vehicle made it to Kladanj,
17 is that correct, or made it to a point shortly -----
18 A. Six kilometres ---
19 Q. From Kladanj?
20 A. -- from Kladanj because there was a barricade, a barricade, between
21 the two borders and that meant that all refugees and later on also
22 wounded persons were forced to walk, struggle, I might say, the last
23 six kilometres to the border of Kladanj.
24 Q. Did any other of your escort vehicles make it to Kladanj?
25 A. Some of them in the beginning ---
1 Q. OK.
2 A. -- but they did not return.
3 Q. OK. So, what happened to those vehicles?
4 A. They were hijacked, stolen.
5 Q. What happened to the equipment that was used by the soldiers who
6 participated in those escorts?
7 A. The same, weaponry, their personal weapons were stolen, helmet, flack
8 jackets, private belongings were stolen.
9 Q. What was the consequence of losing those vehicles in relation to the
10 convoys that left your compound?
11 A. The consequences were, I think, three-fold. In the first place,
12 again we changed the way of escorting those convoys by putting en
13 route, and the route was about 50 kilometres, four different points,
14 let us say, contact points, so that the vehicles standing there on
15 fixed points could see convoys passing, counting the amount of
17 What we did in the beginning as soon as a convoy left, let us
18 say, the road in front of the compound, we counted the amount of
19 vehicles and gave that to the first fixed post, so they could have a
20 look and to control if the same amount of vehicles were still in that
22 The second thing we did is that I ordered troops just outside
23 the compound to work either in groups armed with their helmet and
24 flack jackets or if they work individually, like the soldiers, the
25 doctors, etc., that they should work just in a t-shirt without
1 helmet, without flack jacket and without weapon.
2 Q. Why did you do that?
3 A. Because in the beginning, especially for individuals working between
4 the refugees, they have been stolen from the BSA soldiers around,
5 there were not so many. They stole the helmet, personal weapons and
6 flack jackets, just by pointing a weapon on the head of the soldiers
7 and said, "I would like to have it, give it to me". They did not do
8 that when groups were working outside, then they did not do it.
9 Q. Did you again see General Mladic on 12th July?
10 A. That was on Wednesday, yes. On the moment that the first convoy
11 arrived, let us say, the empty vehicles, and turned around in front of
12 the compound, and the first refugees were escorted to all those buses,
13 vans and military vehicles. General Mladic appeared with his own
14 vehicle and all his officers around him and some bodyguards, of
15 course, and the press was there available too. They made all nice
16 pictures of him and what was going on over there -- a lot of
18 Q. Did you have any conversations with General Mladic on this fourth
19 meeting with him?
20 A. I had a short conversation with him about the evacuation, about what
21 he stated in the morning, that first priority should be the wounded
22 persons which he had stated, "Yes, that is correct, we should do
23 something about it. Bring them over to the hospital in Bratunac".
24 Then I said, "No, we do not do that, they stay here at the compound in
25 our own hands or they should be sent or brought to NORMEDBAT Corps",
1 that is the Norwegian medical Company in Tuzla, "escorted by either
2 the Norwegian company or by the International Red Cross".
3 Q. What was his reaction?
4 A. None.
5 Q. Please continue your description of the fourth meeting with General
7 A. He was so busy during his stay there with the press and impressing
8 his soldiers and the officers around him and talking to some refugees
9 that I had hardly no chance to talk with him longer than, I think,
10 those five minutes and that was it.
11 Q. When was your next contact with General Mladic?
12 A. The next contact was the next morning, on Thursday, Thursday morning.
13 Q. Where did that take place?
14 A. Again in front of the compound just on the opposite of the gate, main
15 gate -- again a short meeting. There was no press available or
16 present, I must say. He had only a Colonel Jankovic with him and
17 Major Nikolic, both officers of the BSA and, of course, his
18 interpreter, Petr, and some bodyguards.
19 He offered me, that was on that Thursday morning, offered me
20 that we could go or leave the compound with vehicles after or during
21 the evacuation of all the refugees.
22 Q. In other words, that the Dutch Battalion could evacuate?
23 A. Itself.
24 Q. Is that correct?
25 A. Yes, that is correct.
1 Q. What was your response?
2 A. I told them that I did not like the idea of leaving the compound
3 because of a couple of subjects. One of the subjects was that I still
4 had some military on OP Alpha, one of the observation posts was still
5 occupied. The officers and the soldiers from the day before escorting
6 the convoys were still underway, I missed them.
7 Q. In other words, they were still missing?
8 A. They were still missing. I was faced at that moment with 55 wounded
9 civilians within the compound, and I referred to the talk we had
10 before, that I like to bring them over either by NORMEDBAT Corps or by
11 the International Red Cross; that I had my Bosnian local workers on
12 the compound, I mean, interpreters from the Battalion, interpreters
13 from the United Nations military observers which I had on the
14 compound, that I had all the people of the MSF, Medicine sans
15 Frontieres, with me on the compound and that if we leave, we leave
16 altogether but after some arrangements concerning the wounded persons
17 had been made. That was my answer. He agreed with that and that is
18 why I stayed in the compound.
19 Q. Were there any other significant matters discussed at that meeting or
20 did that conclude the meeting?
21 A. That concluded the meeting.
22 Q. By the end of 13th July, had all the refugees been deported from the
23 Potocari compound area?
24 A. Yes, sir. I will look at my notebook. At 1600 on Thursday, the last
25 refugee was gone outside the compound, and then one started with the
1 evacuation of the 4,000 to 5,000 refugees which were able to stay
2 within the compound. It started at 1600 and it finished about 7
3 o'clock. That was in three hours.
4 Q. At the end of that, at 7 o'clock, then there were no further refugees
5 in and Potocari; is that correct?
6 A. No, there were no further refugees in and around Srebrenica -- I mean
7 the compound at Potocari.
8 Q. When was the next time you saw General Mladic?
9 A. The next time when I saw General Mladic was on the day of our
10 departure, on 21st July. It was on the Friday morning. We had eight
11 days to prepare our own, let us say, departure, to rest. On Friday,
12 the day after the evacuation, all of a sudden a convoy with food, a
13 lot of food, a lot of diesel was accepted and came to the Potocari
14 area. So, then we had, from that day we had food enough, diesel
15 enough, medicines, and we had eight days to recover from what happened
16 in the weeks before. I saw General Mladic on the Friday and he invited
17 me through his, I think it was, Colonel Jankovic that came to the
18 compound that morning on Friday morning or Petr, the interpreter. He
19 said that I was invited with my liaison officers to that same hotel in
20 Bratunac where I had my three meetings.
21 Q. What happened?
22 A. We drove to that hotel -- it was one vehicle -- with my liaison
23 officers. There was General Mladic with a crowd of officers, most of
24 them I knew already from the meetings. My own -- that is not the
25 right expression. The Chief of Staff of BiH command, General Nikolaj,
1 was there, a Dutch General, and his military assistant. They offered
2 us a breakfast and we had some talks over a couple of things, about
3 the weaponry. I asked him again what happened with my weaponry and
4 that I would like to have it back.
5 I knew already that we should leave at noon towards the
6 Serbian territory and then the way up to Zagreb. Again I asked,
7 "Where are all my vehicles? I would like to have them back with me".
8 Then he said after some general things, but I have forgotten those,
9 that he would like to visit the compound, look to our own convoys,
10 how we did that, the vehicles. He asked me to have a talk with the
11 soldiers and that that should occur at 11 o'clock, whether that was
12 possible in the time frame. It was not possible.
13 So I told General Mladic that it was not such a good idea
14 talking to soldiers, not such a good idea visiting the compound, but
15 he insisted in visiting the compound. He said, "OK, I will not be
16 there at 11 o'clock. I will be there escorted by the Chief of Staff
17 of BH command at 11.30".
18 I left the hotel. We went back to the compound of Potocari.
19 I had a quick talk with my deputy, seeing everything was arranged for
20 our own travel with everything which has been left. That was the
21 case, and I asked my deputy, "Are we able to start at noon?" He
22 said, yes, he could. I told him that General Mladic would come. He
23 said, "OK".
24 We went back to the gate and he was already there before half
25 past 11. He was held up by the commander of the guard, a very broad
1 Sergeant. He could not go around that Sergeant. He was held up.
2 General Mladic had a quick talk with him and then it was half past
4 I took him with me to my own briefing room within the
5 compound, had a quick talk -- I think 20 minutes -- about some general
6 things and then I asked him two specific questions. One question was,
7 "What will happen with my equipment?" I told him what equipment I
8 lost during the last two weeks. All my field vehicles, the amoured
9 personnel carriers, a lot of personal arms, machine guns, the
10 equipment of most of the observation posts. That was the first
12 Q. What was his response?
13 A. His response was that he should sort that out. He was in contact
14 with his Ministry of Internal Affairs and they should do that in close
15 combination or co-ordination, let us say, with BH command. He
16 referred to the presence of the Chief of Staff of BH command.
17 My second question, which I can remember asking him, was, just
18 a general one, I asked him what should happen or should have happened
19 if during the stay of United Nations troops in the safe areas of
20 Gorazde, Zepa and especially, of course, Srebrenica, what will happen
21 if BH soldiers were disarmed totally, completely demilitarised, if
22 they should not have executed raids outside the compound -- outside
23 the enclave, if both civilian and military authorities should live
24 according to the 1993 regulations, arrangements, and cease-fire
25 regulations. Then he answered that he, at least that was his answer,
1 he would not have thought about attacking the enclave.
2 He said it with a smile, more or less, and that was also more
3 or less the end of our discussion there in the briefing room. Then we
4 went outside to the entry of the compound, gate, main gate of the
5 compound. The guards were changed. My guards went back to their
6 company. Everybody in their vehicles and exactly at noon we started
7 leaving the compound.
8 Q. Colonel Karremans, thank you very much. I have no further questions.
9 Your Honours, I have concluded my examination of Colonel Karremans.
10 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you very much, Mr. Harmon. Let me look at
11 fellow Judges. Judge Odio Benito, I do believe you have some
12 questions. Please proceed.
13 Examined by the Court
14 JUDGE ODIO BENITO: Colonel Karremans, after leaving Srebrenica and
15 Potocari, where did the refugees go in these convoys, buses and trucks
16 you have explained?
17 A. Your Honour, all refugees which I explained left the safe area of
18 Srebrenica within an amazing short time -- that was Wednesday
19 afternoon and Thursday, the whole day -- and they have been evacuated
20 to the Kladanj area, the one, the first, let us say, Muslim city in
21 the Tuzla area.
22 Q. To the confrontation line?
23 A. To the confrontation line, exactly.
24 Q. Do you know what happened to them during the travel?
25 A. No, because they stayed in vehicles. That was one of the things I
1 would like to do in the beginning, to put a soldier per vehicle, to
2 have a look what was going on in buses or trucks. They did not inform
3 me what was going on in buses because we did not have any use for
4 that. The only thing we could do, and that was the second option, just
5 escorting those big group of vehicles, convoys, by two cars in the
7 Q. But your vehicles and cars were stolen by the Bosnian-Serb Army?
8 A. Yes, your Honour.
9 Q. What did your soldiers do after that?
10 A. Do you mean the soldiers?
11 Q. Yes, because you had soldiers in those vehicles and they lost the
12 vehicles, the helmet, everything, but what did they do?
13 A. They were guarded together during that night, the night of Wednesday
14 and Thursday, by the Bosnian Serb Army, or the irregular part of it, I
15 do not know exactly. They were guarded together, I think 12, in
16 total, or 14 officers and soldiers. They stayed over night two times.
17 Some were along that route, the route from Bratunac to Kladanj. They
18 were fed by the Bosnian-Serb Army. They could shelter, for their own
19 protection, they said. On Friday they returned through Bratunac to my
21 Q. Did you or any of your soldiers see Bosnian Serb soldiers beating,
22 killing, raping he refugees in or around Potocari in those factories
23 you mentioned?
24 A. Yes, your Honour, they did. In some cases, refugees had been beaten
25 and as soon as one of my soldiers noticed that, they stopped with it.
1 I got two reports from my soldiers on Thursday after I met General
2 Mladic; one report referring to an execution of one man and a second
3 report about an execution of nine men from which they found the
5 MR. HARMON: Your Honour, we will be presenting evidence in regard to both
6 of those incidents described by Colonel Karremans.
7 JUDGE ODIO BENITO: Thank you. (To the witness): Did you ever ask
8 General Mladic during your meetings what happened to the people,
10 A. No, because the last meeting I had with him was on 21st. That was
11 eight days later on. We were not aware of what happened with the
12 refugees. I mean, in general, I know -- I knew that they were all
13 evacuated to Kladanj area and afterwards picked up by the Pakistani
14 Battalion and by the International Red Cross, by the Norwegian medical
15 Company. They build tents, shelters, supply points for the refugees.
16 A part of them has been transported to the air base of Tuzla and
17 other parts of the amount of refugees were transported to other
18 facilities. That is the only thing I knew, and I did not discuss that
19 with General Mladic at all.
20 Q. Would you say, Colonel, that you received adequate support you asked
21 for from your superiors? During those difficult days before the fall
22 of Srebrenica, you told us that you asked for support.
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Did you receive that support?
25 A. Your Honour, I can expand on that days and days, of course. That is
1 why I was lucky that I could explain yesterday and in the beginning of
2 the morning what happened with the inhabitants in the enclave, the
3 refugees and with my soldiers.
4 We had our daily SITREPs, our daily situation reports, in
5 which we wrote everything what happened that day, what we need for
6 supplies. Besides that, I reported at different times, several times,
7 I must say, on the level of north-east command in Tuzla and the BH
8 command in Sarajevo, what I needed to fulfil my mission. I was
9 specific in that, exactly what we needed, medicines and food, diesel,
10 etc. I asked for support many, many times during our stay over there.
11 I know that there have been many discussions on all levels, above the
12 level of the Battalion, sitting there with the population isolated in
13 an enclave like Srebrenica, but we did not get any support at all.
14 Q. I am going to ask you a last question and ask for your personal
15 opinion, Colonel. Looking back, would you say that the United Nations
16 and NATO did its best to help people to save their lives?
17 A. On the one hand, yes, if we should have had our freedom of movement
18 which was one of the points of the NATO, United Nations resolutions of
19 1993, and we could travel forth and back to the safe areas, in
20 general, and to Srebrenica, in particular, for my Battalion but also
21 for the International Red Cross, the other non-governmental
22 organisations like the MSF, the UNHCR, and we were able to assist,
23 help, the refugees, I think the answer is yes; but because of the
24 strangulation and because of the isolation and not having had support
25 at all, then the answer is no.
1 Q. Strangulation and isolation ordered by General Mladic?
2 A. Yes, your Honour.
3 JUDGE ODIO BENITO: Thank you, Colonel. No further questions.
4 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you. I now ask my other fellow Judge if he
5 has any questions?
6 JUDGE RIAD: Colonel Karremans, throughout these, perhaps, five meetings
7 you had with General Mladic, did he ever take into consideration your
8 demands or was it always, as you said, a monologue and he did not
9 respond to any of your objections or claims?
10 A. I have had, let us say, three major meetings with him but meetings
11 between brackets because, in my opinion, a meeting is two directions.
12 A monologue is not a meeting. Indeed, those were monologues. In the
13 second meeting, I was able to explain the bad situation and he made
14 even notes of that and that was it.
15 In the third meeting, on Wednesday morning, the woman and the
16 other men of the committee could make their statements. They made
17 note of it and that was it. So, the conclusion, only monologues, no
18 two-way negotiations. He did listen to my requests, if I may say so,
19 but did not support them at all. He had his own line in negotiating
20 or in telling what he would like to tell, and what he would like to
22 Q. Did you express any disapproval of his method of separating men, as
23 you said, between 16 and I think 60 or 65 from women and children?
24 Did you object to that?
25 A. Yes, I did, your Honour. I objected to that already in the meeting
1 when he said that, by asking, "What is the meaning of that?" His
2 explanation was what I stated before, he would like to have the men
3 between 16 and 60 to look if there were war criminals amongst them.
4 Maybe he thought that all the Bosnian soldiers were war criminals. He
5 did not explain what he would like to do with them except that he
6 wants to speak with them all.
7 Q. Did he ask you for information about these people, to give him any
8 kind of indication where they are and who they are?
9 A. No, your Honour, he did not.
10 Q. He did not?
11 A. No, I did not.
12 Q. So there was absolutely no way of knowing about them through your
14 A. No, your Honour.
15 Q. In your last meeting with him, you said it was on Friday morning, by
16 that time it seems that you had already known about the executions you
17 mentioned. Were you aware of everything that was happening and the
18 way the refugees fleeing away were treated?
19 A. No, I think not at all. The information in those days confirmed the
20 information about, let us say, the military side of what was going on
21 in the Battalion, resupplying, what has had to be done before our own
22 evacuation, if I may say so, and last things, what happened during our
23 week that we stayed there and negotiations between some of the
24 officers of my Battalion staff and some of the BSA soldiers on wounded
25 persons -- I had still one of the Colonel surgeons in Bratunac in the
1 hospital, to look what was going on with the wounded persons over
2 there. We had discussions about the diesel because on that Friday
3 after the evacuations I got a lot of diesel; what we should do with
4 medicines and food. They were more or less the subjects we discussed
5 in a couple of, let us say, small meetings, not with General Mladic
6 (because I have not seen him after the evacuation), but with his
7 officers. I think that was it.
8 Q. But did you include any mention, not to say protest, against the
9 executions or the things you heard about in this last meeting you had
10 with him, and what was his response if you did?
11 A. I have not protested in the last meeting because I even did not
12 expect that meeting. I was not aware of that, because we became a
13 message through our communication systems, the OPs room, that had to
14 show up, let us put it that way, again in the Bratunac Hotel; and
15 sitting with his whole crowd over there we had, he was again a little
16 bit monologue-ing, and asked me how the Battalion was and how we were
17 doing and if we were prepared to move and ready to go. There was
18 hardly no opportunity to evaluate, let us put it in that way, what
19 happened in all the weeks and days before. To be frank, I have not
20 thought about the idea of asking him what happened with the refugees.
21 Q. According to you, he was present all the time and he was aware of all
22 that was happening?
23 A. He was present during the six days there of the attack and invasion
24 of the enclave -- at least I presume. He was present during the
25 evacuation. He has been there two times, which I explained, and if he
1 was not there, he was in the hotel in Bratunac which he used as
2 command post and the kassern in Bratunac which he used as command post
3 for, let us say, the other things he had to do concerning Gorazde,
4 Zepa, and I do not know what.
5 After my last meeting with him, a short meeting on that
6 Thursday morning, I have not seen him before, or if I have not seen
7 him afterwards, except that I got some orders from the higher echelon
8 about our own travel to either the Kladanj/Tuzla area or to Zagreb.
9 That was still a point of discussion on the higher echelons. One
10 asked me if could, let us say, come in contact with General Mladic,
11 to discuss that, because nobody had contact with him since the
12 evacuation, nobody from the higher commands.
13 So I got, let us say, some notes by fax, made a small letter
14 about it and sent that to his interpreter, Petr, who lived in
15 Bratunac with the request to hand it over to General Mladic and ask
16 for a response. I got a response, I think, on Friday, the same
17 Friday, when the first convoys with food and diesel came in. That
18 was the only contact on paper I had with him.
19 In his reply or in his answer he said, "Yes, I will take your
20 requests concerning your leave whenever that should occur and your
21 requests on the lost equipment", he said "lost equipment", not "stolen
22 equipment", he will take that into consideration, and asked me to have
23 patience. He should have a meeting with General Smith on Sunday and I
24 think that occurred on the 19th, and in that meeting he should discuss
25 the leave of Dutch BAT, and then he should come back, let us say, to
1 make all the arrangements for our leave.
2 Q. You speak of evacuation and you mentioned that several times he asked
3 you to assist in this evacuation; that means really the deportation of
4 the people of Srebrenica to the Bosniak site. This deportation,
5 although you did not assist, was very highly organised. You said that
6 buses came and everything was very minutely organised. So, this was
7 the headquarters of Mladic who did it?
8 A. Yes, your Honour. It was -- I think he ordered that himself and what
9 I stated before during many briefings and also hoping that everything
10 was prepared, preplanned in advance. Also, the massive crowd of buses
11 and vehicles, and I always use an example in northern western
12 countries, if you like to have 30 or 40 buses, then you have a
13 challenge, but in a country like former Yugoslavia or
14 Bosnia-Herzegovina, to gather there 30 or 40 buses you are not able to
15 do that in one day. That must be preplanned a long time before. So,
16 he had a plan and he executed that plan more or less minute by minute
17 or day by day. He ordered for the evacuation. He asked for
18 assistance of the Battalion but not more than -- you will hear that
19 from the next, I think, witnesses -- assist the people to go to the
20 buses, prevail or prevent, I must say, panic, chaos and supplying the
21 refugees as much as I could with water, food and medicines -- at least
22 what I have left over. That is the only assistance I could give.
23 Q. You mentioned that 55 soldiers were taken into custody by the Serbs, I
24 think it was on 6th July. How were they treated and how long did
25 they stay?
1 A. Your Honour, that was not on 6th July. On 6th July, on the Thursday,
2 let us say, the invasion started, the attacks, or, yes, the attacks
3 started, and the fights between both parties. In the southern part of
4 the enclave also by shelling compounds and the city of Srebrenica
5 itself. It ended up on Saturday, two and a half days later, on the
6 retreat of OP Fox Trot when one of my soldiers died.
7 After that, let us say, Saturday afternoon and Sunday and
8 Monday, he picked or he attacked a lot of observation posts by using
9 force, weapons and soldiers, encircled them and circled them and take
10 the soldiers hostage and took them with them. He guarded at the end
11 55 of my soldiers at two points, one in Bratunac, in the northern part
12 of, I say north of the enclave, and one in Simici, south of the
13 enclave. At the end, after the evacuation, they were guarded
14 together, all 55. I had a talk with them, not with all 55, but with
15 the 30 persons staying in Bratunac. I asked in the first meeting I
16 had with General Mladic if I was able or allowed to speak with them.
17 "Yes", he said, "you are able to do that, you are allowed to do that".
18 I had a small talk with the soldiers, asked them if they were treated
19 well. They said "yes", they were treated reasonably well. That same
20 applied which I heard later on already being back in Netherlands to
21 the other 25 soldiers from Simici.
22 Q. You mentioned several times that you raised the matter to the higher
23 echelons, your higher echelons. Was there a prompt response or did
24 they leave you just to your fate?
25 A. Looking to the circumstances in that time and knowing that both
1 commanding officers of the north east command and BH command were not
2 available, so I had to do with both Chief of Staffs, my direct
3 superior was, of course, the Commanding Officer of north east command
4 in Tuzla. What I did is, on every time when I think it was necessary
5 in shelters and in my own offices or in the communication centre of
6 the Battalion staff, I had direct communications with either north
7 east command or BH command.
8 We did report, we did make our reports verbally, at least I
9 did it -- it was one of my responsibilities -- to the higher echelons
10 and we did it every day at 6 o'clock by the daily situation reports
11 on paper, by fax.
12 The conclusion, my direct superior in Tuzla, but also the
13 command in Sarajevo, were well aware of what was going on and what
14 happened minute by minute in the enclave, every day of our stay over
15 there. Again, asking support, logistical support, in the weeks before
16 or even which I have stated before, close air support, no. The
17 support was worse.
18 Q. I would like to ask you also, in one of the meetings and you mentioned
19 Major Nikolic, he stated that all Muslims should leave Bosnia?
20 A. Yes, your Honour.
21 Q. That was at an official meeting?
22 A. That was -- no. We had a sequence of meetings with both parties, not
23 together. We tried to have them together around the negotiation
24 table; my predecessor did, he was not able to that, one or two times.
25 We were not because of the quarrels, because of the fights, over and
1 over. So we had every week a fixed meeting with the civil
2 authorities, with the military authorities, within the enclave and
3 also with, let us say, the Commanding Officer of the Chief of Staff of
4 the BiH forces.
5 We should have a meeting, a fixed meeting, every weeks with
6 the BSA outside, either on OP Echo or on OP Papa, but that was not
7 the case. Meetings with the BSA was always when we liked to have
8 that or when they liked to have it, very irregularly, and it was one
9 of those irregular meetings that I was involved somewhere in the
10 middle of February, if I can remember, that I met Major Nikolic and
11 it was at that meeting that he stated what I said yesterday, about
12 Muslims killed half Assembly during Second World War etc. and that he
13 hated Muslims and, in his opinion, the Muslims should leave the
14 complete territory of Bosnia.
15 JUDGE RIAD: Thank you very much, Colonel.
16 THE WITNESS: You are welcome.
17 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: I have some very short questions I would like to put
18 to you: the troops you talked about, where did they come from? What
19 was their composition? You talked about the fresh troops that arrived?
20 A. Yes, your Honour. We were -- no. Around the safe area of Srebrenica
21 there were three brigades, the so-called Skalani Brigade in the south,
22 the Bratunac Brigade in the north and a third Brigade in the west.
23 Those Brigades belonged to the regular army of the BSA, the regular
24 Drina Corps, but those three Brigades consisted of elderly soldiers,
25 soldiers from that area, an area where they belonged. As soon as on
1 6th July the invasion started or, let us say, the attack on the
2 enclave started which, General Mladic stated later on, he used three
3 new Brigades, one in the south and one in the east and he had one in
4 reserve in the north.
5 That means that he did not use the regular forces around the
6 safe area of Srebrenica. He especially used other forces which we
7 have noticed two days before 6th July. In Bratunac, there were a lot
8 of battle noise and there was a lot of noise about moving tanks,
9 artillery, military vehicles -- all those moves which we have reported
10 on a regular basis and in our daily SITREPs.
11 Q. Thank you. Do you think there were any militia, fresh people, fresh
12 militia, in these forces?
13 A. Yes. Your Honour, what I have heard, just I have heard, I have not
14 noticed that myself, that the so-called Arkan Brigade was involved as
15 well. That was a Brigade with, let us say, special forces from the
16 BSA but, personally, I have not seen them during those six days and
17 during, let us say, the evacuation of refugees. That could be
19 Q. The evacuation with the Dutch Battalion, was it possible in the plan
20 with your superior, was the Dutch Battalion asked to provide that
22 A. Do you mean the assistance, your Honour, for the evacuation of the
24 Q. I am talking about the evacuation. You have talked about a meeting
25 with General Mladic, I think it was the second or third, I cannot
1 remember, where all of a sudden he said that had you to proceed with
2 the evacuation. That seems it was not tackled during your first or
3 second meeting in Bratunac. So, I had the impression that you were
4 not surprised; you knew that there might be an evacuation or did you
5 decide, as the superior, that the evacuation would take place?
6 A. During the first two meetings, I did not have a clue what was going
7 on about the destiny of the refugees. Knowing that we had about 25,000
8 refugees in and around the compound, one of my major points was to ask
9 support as much as I could get from the BSA, what I stated before,
10 food, water, medicines, a good arrangement for my wounded, for the
11 wounded refugees, about 100 or 110. That is what I have asked for
12 during the meetings, the first meetings, with General Mladic.
13 In his third meeting, he started to talk about evacuation, and
14 that was a surprise for me as well. We arranged a committee of the
15 refugees to co-operate with them about what should be done or what
16 should we do on the circumstances under which those refugees were
17 there in and around our compound, what could we do as much as
18 possible and we needed a committee for that, to talk about it. I
19 used that committee -- I mean in a nice sense of using it -- I asked
20 them if they could assist me as much as possible, at least to respond
21 on the questions and they, that committee, went with me to the third
22 meeting. That was the meeting in which General Mladic stated or told
23 about the evacuation.
24 I was as much surprised as everybody was because the meeting
25 was at the end of the Wednesday morning and at 3 o'clock Wednesday
1 afternoon the evacuation started already. So I was confronted with
2 something new, an evacuation of 25,000 persons. Then you have to
3 think quickly -----
4 Q. Sorry, sorry. I heard what you said, but what I am trying to find
5 out, faced with that surprise, you were surprised, you said, the
6 refugee committee is surprised; did you have adequate time to ask your
7 hierarchical structure whether you could proceed in such a way or did
8 you have sufficient freedom to decide?
9 A. I had no time to -- I had time to inform my higher echelons which I
10 have done, which I did. I asked several times for what could I do,
11 how could you assist me, what should I do? No answer on that. There
12 was no policy in that either. So I could, let us say, do what was the
13 best thing to do at the moment and knowing what time was left between
14 that third meeting, and 1 o'clock was mentioned by Mladic that the
15 evacuation should start, that we were complete surprised, everybody,
16 that such a thing could happen and that he already had organised such
17 an evacuation.
18 I was not able to do anything about it, and that was why we
19 decided -- I decided in the beginning -- to put on every bus or
20 whatsoever a soldier. That was the least thing I could do, and assist
21 the refugees as much as possible going to buses by giving them food,
22 water and medical care and look for them during the evacuation.
23 Q. Thank. My final question: if you talk about the list, we talked
24 yesterday to the investigator from the Prosecutor. It seems that
25 there was a list of men in an age range which I did not quite
1 understand. Can you very quickly tell us what happened with this list
2 of men, what was their age and what happened?
3 A. We had, as you know, your Honour, 25,000 persons in and around the
4 enclave, almost all women, children and elderly people. We estimated
5 about two to three per cent men, men between 16 and 60, more or less,
6 and we did not know how many men there were -- in general, we knew --
7 how many men there were outside the compound. We have asked through
8 the interpreters and through the committee if it was possible to note
9 or, yes, set on a piece of paper all the names of those persons, male
10 persons, between 16 and 60 within the compound.
11 There was no time left to do that for all the other persons.
12 There is one person who has asked me in the past, "Why have you not
13 put the names of all the refugees on a piece of paper?" You can
14 imagine, your Honours, that that is not possible. What we have done
15 is we have put the names of men within the compound on a list, and
16 what I can remember, 239. There were about 70 which did not like that
17 and they have not done that. We have done that on purpose because we
18 like to know what could have happened with those persons. What
19 happened with the list, the lists have been faxed to Tuzla and to
21 Q. Fine. Colonel, the Tribunal would like to thank you for your
22 testimony. Last question?
23 JUDGE RIAD: Colonel, did by any chance General Mladic's office get hold
24 of this list?
25 A. I am not sure about the answer I should give now, because there are
1 two possible answers, and maybe one of the witnesses after me could
2 answer that question. There are two possible answers. One said or
3 has stated that one of my officers offered or handed over that list to
4 one of the BSA officers at the gate. Some others said, no, that was
5 not the case. I am still at this moment not aware of what was going
6 on with the list towards the BSA. I do not know. I cannot answer the
7 question, do or does the BSA, or did the BSA receive that list of
8 persons? I do not know.
9 Q. Did you ask the officer?
10 A. No.
11 JUDGE RIAD: Thank you very much.
12 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Prosecutor, based on the numerous questions we put
13 and once again thank you, Colonel Karremans, to have spent so much
14 time with us. But do you have any wish to add any supplementary
15 questions or not?
16 MR. HARMON: I do not, your Honour.
17 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Fine. Colonel, in this Mladic/Karadzic case, we
18 have finished with your testimony and we will now finish until 2.30.
19 (12.10 p.m.)
20 (Luncheon Adjournment)
21 (2.30 p.m.)
22 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Prosecutor, you have the floor.
23 MR. OSTBERG: Thank you very much. We would like to call our next
24 witness, Lieutenant Koster.
25 LIEUTENANT KOSTER called.
1 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Lieutenant Koster, do you hear me? Do you hear me?
2 Please take the statement which has been given to you and read it
4 (The witness was sworn)
5 THE WITNESS: I solemnly I declare that I will speak the truth, the whole
6 truth and nothing but the truth.
7 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you, Lieutenant. Please be seated.
8 THE WITNESS: Thank you.
9 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: I think my first question would go to the Prosecutor
10 and he will introduce you to us.
11 MR. OSTBERG: Thank you, your Honour.
12 Examined by MR. OSTBERG
13 Q. Lieutenant Koster, would you please state your full name and spell it
14 for the record?
15 A. My last name is Koster, I spell K-O-S-T-E-R.
16 Q. Thank you. What is your present occupation?
17 A. I am a logistic officer and an infantry soldier.
18 Q. In the Dutch Army?
19 A. In the Dutch Army, that is correct.
20 Q. Have you been serving with the United Nations?
21 A. Yes, I did.
22 Q. Would you please tell the court where and when?
23 A. I served in Srebrenica and that was January 1995 till July '95.
24 Q. When did you start, you say?
25 A. In January.
1 Q. In January. Was Colonel Karremans your Commanding Officer?
2 A. Yes, he was.
3 Q. What was your position with the Dutch Battalion?
4 A. My position was to be the Logistics Officer of the Battalion.
5 Q. Just give us the outline of your duties in that position?
6 A. Well, I had to manage all logistic affairs, although we had few means
7 and, well, that meant very strict planning and distributing our
8 logistic affairs.
9 Q. Where in the chain of command were you placed in that position?
10 A. I was a staff officer and my direct Commander, my Logistic Commander
11 was Major Franken.
12 Q. Thank you. Were you on duty in the beginning of July 1995?
13 A. Yes, I was.
14 Q. Where?
15 A. I was on duty in Potocari, inside the compound.
16 Q. Inside the compound, so your working place was inside the compound
18 A. Most of the time, yes.
19 Q. OK. You were there even on 11th July 1995?
20 A. Yes, I was also outside the compound then, yes.
21 Q. Will you tell us about what happened after the fall of Srebrenica when
22 refugees started to arrive in Potocari?
23 A. Yes, it was on 12th, sorry, it was on 11th July, we were ordered to
24 go outside and to form a unit to receive the refugees, so we went
25 outside and made a hole in the fence from where we could guide the
1 refugees towards the compound.
2 When we were posted outside, approximately at 1500 hours the
3 refugees arrived in a few and small groups at first and, well, most
4 of them were women and children and older women and older men. They
5 were terrified, they were afraid, looking for help, and when we were
6 there, well, we could not tell them what to do at that point.
7 Q. You said that you formed a unit to take care of the incoming refugees.
8 How big was that unit?
9 A. Well, approximately 30 men at first.
10 Q. Were you in command of these 30 men?
11 A. Yes, I was.
12 Q. You said you opened a hole in the fence?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Is that the way you led them into the compound?
15 A. Yes, we were not allowed to let them in by the main gate.
16 Q. Why?
17 A. Because of the road which led from Srebrenica to Potocari was
18 constantly on the direct sight, in direct fire from the Serbs. For
19 example, when the days before, when we left the compound by vehicle,
20 we were fired upon with mortar fire and that kind of thing. So, it
21 was better for the people to take another route and another way to the
22 compound which was more covered by trees and buildings.
23 Q. They opened that hole in the fence?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. When people started to arrive, the first ones who arrived, did you
1 show them all in into the compound?
2 A. No, we were not allowed at first. We first showed them the way to
3 the large buildings of a former bus station where bus repair and bus
4 maintenance was done, and we told them to take cover inside of these
6 Q. When you are saying that you were not allowed, allowed by whom?
7 A. By my Commander.
8 Q. Commander?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. What was the kind of shelter you gave them?
11 A. Sorry?
12 Q. What kind of shelter did you give them?
13 A. The big buildings of the former bus station.
14 Q. Outside the compound?
15 A. It was outside the compound, yes.
16 Q. Then when did they start entering the compound?
17 A. Well, that was later on that day when the total amount of people was
18 going to be a big crowd, we were ordered to let the people through the
19 compound in small groups of 25 persons, and send them through the hole
20 in the fence to the compound.
21 Q. How did these people arrive?
22 A. Well, like I said before, at first in small groups, later on there
23 was one big mass of people coming down the road from Srebrenica to
24 Potocari and, well, they came with a big noise, women crying, children
25 screaming, children also crying. Well, people were in terror. They
1 came down the road towards our position.
2 Q. On foot?
3 A. On foot, yes. When we could receive them, we just only could tell
4 them to wait and to stay at our position. We could not tell them what
5 to do and they were keeping asking these questions from, you know,
6 "What are we going to do?" or "What are the plans for now?" They were
7 very much afraid of what was going on with them, what was going to
8 happen with them, but we could not tell them, so ..... They were
10 Q. Had they walked the way from the city of Srebrenica?
11 A. Most of them. There were several vehicles from the compound in
12 Srebrenica to the compound in Potocari carrying some wounded, but when
13 they started to move, not wounded people picked their places and also
14 in every spot of the vehicle where they could hang on, they got a
16 Q. When you are talking about these vehicles, were they the UN vehicles?
17 A. Yes, they were our UN vehicles, yes, trucks.
18 Q. No other means of transportation like buses or trucks for these
19 fleeing people?
20 A. Well, some APCs for medical aid. Those APCs were also carrying some
21 kind of wounded people and some healthy people towards our position
22 and moving people toward the compound, yes.
23 Q. They started coming in small groups and then they grew more and more?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Can you make estimations, looking at what time they started and then
1 how they slowly encompassed a big crowd of people?
2 A. Yes, well, I was ordered to make a rough counting of the people
3 constantly. Well, it started by with 10 people, then hundreds of
4 people and then even more thousands of people. Well, it started
5 approximately, they started coming around about 1500 hours and, well,
6 until late in the evening it stopped. So, for example, the road had a
7 diameter of six metres and was fully crowded with people, most of them
8 women, children and older men.
9 Q. When you said you started to count them, did you do that yourself?
10 A. Yes, and later on that day I compared with my colleagues to make a
11 rough counting of the total number of people and we came to a number
12 of approximately 15,000 people.
13 Q. 15,000 people?
14 A. 15,000 people, yes.
15 Q. How many of them were led into or brought into the compound?
16 A. Well, on top of the 15,000 there were 4,000 to 5,000 people let into
17 the compound. So, at the end of the day, there were 15,000 outside
18 the compound and 4,00 to 5,000 people inside the compound.
19 Q. We are talking now about 11th July?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Did they stop coming in the evening?
22 A. Yes, they stopped and there were -- the crowds stopped. There were a
23 few people coming down the road still, but the big mass, the big mass
24 of people, the big crowd, stopped coming towards our position, yes,
25 and it was fully filled with people.
1 Q. What did 30 soldiers do to care for these people?
2 A. Well, during the day I ordered for some reinforcements because we
3 could not stand any longer to hold the people. We had some
4 interpreters to make it clear for them what to do and, well, what we
5 were doing down there was the best we could; give them some medical
6 help, telling them that we would guide them and escort them and guard
7 them and protect them for the best we could. Well, whether it was
8 help, any help needed, we were there.
9 Q. That with 30 persons?
10 A. Well, I ordered some reinforcements, so later on that day I guess it
11 would be 50 to 60 men outside.
12 Q. What kind of medical support could you give them?
13 A. Mainly first aid.
14 Q. Like bandages and things like that?
15 A. If we had some, yes, some bandages. There were several wounded men
16 and women, also women giving birth to children at our place. We also
17 had some assistance from MSF.
18 Q. MSF is?
19 A. Medicine sans Frontieres. So, the wounded we could give them only
20 the first aid because we did not have more means outside, also inside
21 the compound.
22 Q. What about giving them food and drink then?
23 A. Well, outside it was impossible for us to do because we had so scarce
24 means of food rations and all that, so we could not give them any food
25 outside the compound. From what I have learned later on is that we
1 made a soup of food rations mixed, mingled with water for the people
2 inside the compound. Outside the compound, some people were carrying
3 jerry cans and bottles of water, carrying water with them. Nearby our
4 position, there was a small well where people could get some water,
5 so that was -- it was needed because it was tremendously hot that day,
6 so water was a very needed factor over there.
7 Q. So the people inside could get some soup to eat or drink, but outside
8 could you give them anything at all, apart from the water from the
10 A. Yes, that is correct.
11 Q. Could you paint the picture of what it looked like when night fall
12 came? What did it look like in and around the compound then?
13 A. Well, it was like being on a scene. It was a little bit
14 surrealistic. Being outside, these people, I slept outside, also my
15 men slept outside. We did some patrolling that night. We had some
16 posts to protect them. Well, the big noise stopped, all the
17 screaming, etc. and all the shouting and crying stopped during the
18 night, although little children kept crying on and the noise
19 decreased, so ... but it was very surrealistic being there.
20 Q. Were there any attacks from the Bosnian Serb Army or any soldiers or
21 units attacking this amount of people?
22 A. Well, not in person but we were fired upon with mortar fire during
23 the day. Well, the shelling was not among the people, well, it was
24 very close, close firing, approximately 50 metres from our position,
25 among the houses nearby our position the explosions of the grenades
1 and the mortar grenades came down, yes.
2 Q. But these crowds of people were not shelled or fired at directly?
3 A. Not directly, no. No.
4 Q. Then you said you had some 30 people and some reinforcements; what
5 about the rest of the personnel of the Dutch Battalion? Where were
6 they deployed during this time? What I want to know is how many
7 persons, how many soldiers, of the Battalion in total were present in
8 Potocari when this flood of refugees arrived?
9 A. Well, it should be approximately 200 men, I guess.
10 Q. 200 men?
11 A. Yes, I guess.
12 Q. Where were the rest of the Battalion deployed?
13 A. They were assigned to the OPs.
14 Q. These are?
15 A. Observation posts.
16 Q. Observation posts?
17 A. Yes. Also, part of them were located in the compound of Srebrenica,
18 but most of these men and women were supply forces, so they were not
19 fighter men, they were not infantrymen.
20 Q. But the ones you are talking about in Potocari were fighting men,
21 infantry soldiers?
22 A. A few of them, yes, but most of them were supply forces.
23 Q. Most of them were supply forces. Were any of your personnel taken
24 hostage or assaulted during this day, the 11th?
25 A. No, not on 11th.
1 Q. OK. Could any of you have any rest the night between 11th and 12th
2 July last year?
3 A. Well, for me personally, no. For the most of them, I guess not
4 because you were busy helping people, doing some patrolling outside
5 the compound among the people. Well, maybe you could get an hour or
6 two sleep, but, well, it was not such a rest. You could not rest very
8 Q. Will you then turn your attention to the following day and give us an
9 account of what happened on 12th July 1995?
10 A. Well, in the morning it was relatively quietly. The people, well,
11 they woke up and started asking questions about what was going on, and
12 what we were planning to do and what the Serbs were planning to do, so
13 we could not tell.
14 We carried on giving them medical aid; still wounded people
15 came down to our position, asking for a doctor, asking for medical
16 help; still women were looking for their children like the day before
17 because they lost their children in the big crowd of people; also
18 children looking for their families and that kind of things. That
19 carried on all morning and also the sun also appeared again, so it
20 became tremendously hot again that day. Later on that day,
21 approximately at 1300 hours ---
22 Q. At what time?
23 A. -- 1300 hours, yes, we heard a noise of tanks and APCs, and I heard
24 by radio that there was a tank and an APC coming down the road toward
25 the compound. So the people, well, there was panic and the people
1 were scared and they ran down to the south of our location, and so we
2 had to wait what was going on then and wait for the Serbs to make a
4 Q. OK.
5 A. When they did they came to our position and also to the compound.
6 Q. You are talking about the army, the Bosnian Serb Army?
7 A. That is correct, yes. They came to our position and we made a
8 demarcation line of some red and white tape over the road and, well,
9 they stayed behind the tape. Some of them asked for the commanding
10 officer at my location, so that was me, and he introduced himself and
11 so did I. I cannot remember his name.
12 I asked him what he was planning to do and he did not tell me.
13 Well, after that he turned his back on me and went down to his
14 forces. At that time there were, well, approximately 20 to 30 Serbian
15 soldiers at our position at the road. Well, their action was just
16 walking around looking at the people, also shouting at the people,
17 asking questions. I had an interpreter next to me so he could
18 translate what they were saying.
19 Q. Could you give us an example of what they said to the people?
20 A. Well, most of the times they were mocking at them, and doing that it
21 was a very odd situation because they sat down on the ground and
22 started to begin singing, and they also -- they actually did not make
23 a move. They were just staying over there at their location behind
24 the red and white tape probably, I do not know what to do. So we just
25 could stay there and wait what they were going to do.
1 Q. Then what happened?
2 A. Later on that day, Major Nikolic came down also to my position and
3 he introduced himself.
4 Q. Did you know him beforehand?
5 A. Yes, I recognised him from photos in the Operations room. Well, he
6 wanted to have a look among the people and he wanted to walk through
7 to the other end of our location. At that time it was reported from
8 my southern post, which was the last units of the Bravo Company, that
9 also at their location some Serbian soldiers arrived.
10 Well, we escorted the Major Nikolic with our liaison officer
11 and an observer and he walked down through the people. After that, he
12 returned and also the situation stayed the same for a couple of hours
13 probably. Then one of the commanders came to my position and told me
14 that he would bring a vehicle loaded with bread for the people, and
15 that we should make way for this vehicle and it really appeared and
16 then they started to give bread to the people. They also had a camera
17 team accompanying them and the camera team, well, they were filming
18 while they were giving bread to the people.
19 Q. How many people did get some bread? Did they have something for
21 A. No, not at all. There was a very small truck and, well, they were
22 throwing the bread and giving the bread to the people. My interpreter
23 told me while they were doing that they were shouting at the people
24 again and mocking of them and calling them names.
25 Well, the vehicle returned for one more time also loaded with
1 bread, and also a fire truck came down to our position to give the
2 people some water and, well, one by one women were allowed to leave
3 the crowd and to fill up their bottles with water. Everything was
4 filmed by the Serbs. Then the fire truck disappeared again.
5 Later on that day, should be approximately at 1600 hours, more
6 troops came down to our position, more vehicles, more jeeps, more
7 civilian vehicles. At one time my interpreter told me that he thought
8 he had seen General Mladic, and General Mladic came to my position. He
9 introduced himself and so did I. He asked me who was the commander in
10 charge. I asked him what he was planning to do. Well, at first, he
11 did not tell me nothing and he walked right through our line of tape
12 and towards the people. At that time, of course, I reported to my
13 commanding officer and I was told that I should send Mladic to the
14 compound, to Colonel Karremans, so he could talk to him, but he would
15 not do so.
16 Q. He would not?
17 A. No.
18 Q. Who would not, Mladic?
19 A. General Mladic, no.
20 Q. So you asked him to go and talk to the commanding officer?
21 A. Yes, several times.
22 Q. He said no?
23 A. He said, "No, I am doing what I please to do and I am in charge here
24 and nobody tells me what to do, and I am outside here, and you will
25 see what is going to happen". He told us to co-operate or else there
1 would be -- we were, you know, told to co-operate with him; we would
2 be best off by co-operating.
3 Q. You said "or else", did he -----
4 A. No, we would be best off by co-operating. Those were the words said.
5 Q. Yes. Go on with the story, please.
6 A. Then he went to the people and he spoke to the people not to be
7 afraid; he should, he would take care of them. He was talking to
8 little children accompanied by a filming team, a camera team. I was
9 constantly protesting that he should go to the compound. While doing
10 that, some buses arrived and I reported that. Then I asked him again
11 what he was going to do and he was irritated, and he told me that he
12 would evacuate the people to another place. At once some of the
13 Serbian soldiers pulled down several of my men.
14 Q. What did they do?
15 A. They pulled down and pulled away several of my men who were holding
16 the civilians and, well, the Serbs told the civilians to go to the
17 buses, to get inside the buses. Well, at that time the situation was
18 taken out of our hands and we could only escort the people and provide
19 any harm of the people and they were fully in charge at that time.
20 Q. How many Bosnian Serb troops were present then, in your estimation?
21 A. Well, I estimated approximately 40, 50 men and, well, they were still
22 coming up, more men, men with dogs, all that kind of thing.
23 Q. You were outnumbered?
24 A. Yes, we were severely outnumbered, yes, that is true.
25 Q. OK, please go on.
1 A. Then I was told to escort the people and to provide any harming of
2 the people, and we could not do anything else than just escorting
3 them, and the Serbs took over and they pushed the people to go to the
4 buses and they kept on doing that till the buses were fully stuffed
5 with people. They were putting far more people inside the bus than
6 normally is usual. The buses drove away. Then we had to stop the
7 people again and we had to wait till other transport arrived at our
9 Q. Did you in any way convoy or send somebody with the buses when they
10 went away?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Tell us about that.
13 A. I learned later that we escorted the buses and the trucks by sending
14 some of our men with a jeep driving in front with the buses. But,
15 well, the first transport, well, they succeeded escorting them and the
16 other transports, well, the jeeps were taken away from us and so we
17 could not escort them any more.
18 Q. By the Serbian soldiers?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Bosnian Serb soldiers, yes. Was any separation of sexes taking place
21 before they were loaded on buses?
22 A. Yes, well, they were looking for men, older men, well, men of
23 fighting age, potential fighting men. They were separating them from
24 their families and from the rest of the people. Well, they kept on
25 doing that the whole time.
1 Q. What happened to these men who were separated from their families?
2 Where did they go?
3 A. They put them inside of a house and, from what I have seen, they
4 were just sitting there and waiting. Their personal belongings were
5 taken away and put outside of the house and I only saw these men
6 waiting. As far as we could, we were protesting against it, but we
7 were, as you said before, outnumbered so we could not be at all
9 Q. Of course. What about General Mladic, was he present when these
10 things went on?
11 A. Well, I lost sight of him. When the first buses started to drive
12 away, I lost sight of him.
13 Q. This transportation of people started, as I remember as you said,
14 about 1600?
15 A. That was the time when General Mladic arrived ---
16 Q. When he arrived.
17 A. -- and, well, it should not be more than half hour or an hour later
18 when the buses arrived and drove away.
19 Q. How many bus loads of people left Potocari this day, 12th?
20 A. I did not count them at all, but, well, they started -- sorry, they
21 ended up when night fell.
22 Q. With night fall they stopped?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Do you have any idea how many bus loads that was? Do you have any
25 idea how many people left on the first day?
1 A. No.
2 Q. Half, a third, no idea?
3 A. No, I have no estimation.
4 Q. You can make no estimation. They stopped at night fall, you said?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Still then people were inside and outside the compound?
7 A. Yes, that is correct.
8 Q. Was anybody taken out of the compound on this first day and put on the
9 buses or was that people from outside?
10 A. From what I know, there were people from outside the compound because
11 I was there. I do not know if people from inside the compound were
12 taken outside because I could not see it from my position.
13 Q. You could not see it?
14 A. I do not know that.
15 Q. OK. Then night came; can you tell us something about what happened
16 during the night?
17 A. Yes. We were told by the Serbs that we had to clear the road and to
18 join the people on the terrain in front of the former bus station.
19 Q. Clear the road from the refugees?
20 A. Yes. The road should stay open because they told us there could be
21 some transport moving to Srebrenica and from Srebrenica to Potocari.
22 Well, we collected the people at that point and we stayed there
23 patrolling during the night and the Serbs, they left. Some of them
24 came back during the night and they were taking our arms, and also our
25 vests and helmets and equipment.
1 Q. Could you describe in what way they did that?
2 A. Well, they joined, they formed groups of three or four men and then
3 they walked up to a UN soldier and told him to give away his weapon
4 and his bulletproof vest and his helmet and his equipment and when he
5 refused that, he was forced to do so.
6 Q. At gun point?
7 A. I personally at gun point, yes.
8 Q. How many of your soldiers did lose their equipment in this way?
9 A. I do not know. Many of them.
10 Q. Many out of these 30, 40 soldiers?
11 A. Yes, that is correct.
12 Q. The majority?
13 A. The majority, yes.
14 Q. That went on during the night?
15 A. Yes, in the beginning of the night. Later on that night they
16 disappeared and I did not know where they went. We were alone with
17 these people and then they were very, very quiet. Well, we kept on
18 patrolling during the night and, well, helping some sick people and
19 also again wounded people who still asked for doctors, for medical
20 help, and we had a doctor outside our position -- well, till the
21 morning came.
22 Q. OK. Then we arrive at 13th July. I will now ask you to tell the
23 court what happened on that day.
24 A. On 13th, well, we put down four APCs on the road to make some of the
1 Q. APCs stands for the -----
2 A. Armoured personnel carrier.
3 Q. Armoured personnel carrier -- armoured?
4 A. Armoured, yes, sorry -- to make some of them an artificial gate so we
5 could guide the people in a better way. Then, at approximately 700
6 hours, the buses arrived and half an hour later the Serbs arrived, and
7 then there were more and more troops coming down to our position and
8 when -----
9 Q. Again an estimation, if you can, how many troops?
10 A. At least 50, 60 of them. Again they start again to pull away my men
11 and to put the people inside of the buses and the trucks and that
12 carried on during the day.
13 Q. Any attacks on you or your personnel during the day?
14 A. No.
15 Q. Shooting?
16 A. No.
17 Q. Nothing?
18 A. We heard some shooting on the west side of the compound coming from
19 houses and that kind of thing, but not in my position, there was no
21 Q. Did this separation type of handling, this thing, did that go on even
22 this day? Did they separate men from the rest of their families or
23 was that only on the first day?
24 A. No, it still went on that day and, for example, we saw a 19 year old
25 boy being separated from his family and, well, we protested against it
1 and the Serbian soldier, he was impressed, and let the boy go to the
2 buses, but they carried on separating the men, yes.
3 Q. That went on this the 13th July all day?
4 A. From what I have seen, yes.
5 Q. When was the place emptied of refugees or everybody evacuated, when
6 was that?
7 A. I will have to look it up, one moment, please. It was on 13th July.
8 Q. 13th July?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. What time of the day, can you recall that?
11 A. Well, to be approximately, at 1800 hours. I had to do my report at
12 the compound and get some food and a few hours of sleep, two hours,
13 and it was at 1600 hours when I reported to duty in the Operations
14 room it was at 1830. I was told it was not necessary any more because
15 all the people had gone.
16 Q. All of them.
17 A. All of them had gone.
18 Q. Even the people who were in the compound?
19 A. Yes, except the wounded people.
20 Q. Except of the wounded people?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. They left the wounded people? What about the men who were separated?
23 Were they still around or were they gone also?
24 A. They were also gone.
25 Q. Did you see them go?
1 A. No, because I was on the compound asleep.
2 Q. Did you see when the people were taken from that compound into the
4 A. No, I did not see.
5 Q. You did not see that. Did you see or hear any violence during the
6 13th? Was there any shooting then or other kinds of violence?
7 A. No, not in person. We heard several single shots, like I told you
8 before, and all we did hear some rumours, it was on 12th July, while I
9 was reporting at the compound, we heard some rumours from people
10 inside the compound that there was a place where they had seen eight
11 or nine bodies laying down on the ground and on 13th July two
12 colleagues of me and I investigated that place.
13 Q. Was that in the vicinity of the compound -- outside the compound -----
14 A. Well, it was approximately, well, 500 metres away from the compound.
15 Q. What did you find?
16 A. When we came down to that place, we saw nine bodies laying in a field
17 near to a river. We went up to that location and we took pictures.
18 We did not actually investigate the bodies, but we saw seven of them
19 lying down on the ground with their face down to the ground; two of
20 them were lying on their sides, on their back. They had, well, the
21 seven of them had a shot in the back, in the middle of the back, and
22 we took pictures and we also found some papers. The bodies, they were
23 dressed in civilian clothes and, from what I could see and could make
24 of it, they were men.
25 Q. You did these findings on 13th July?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Did you hear some shooting you could relate to that incident, to these
3 people's death?
4 A. I only heard the several single shots during the day, so that is only
5 what I have heard.
6 Q. Did you see other killed people around?
7 A. Yes, that was in the morning, one man who hanged himself on the
8 ceiling of a small building, but he was already dead when we released
9 him from the rope.
10 Q. Any other incidents of that kind?
11 A. No.
12 Q. So by the evening of 13th the place was empty, there were no refugees
13 any more?
14 A. Outside the compound, inside also, no, except the wounded people.
15 Q. The wounded people. Did you see General Mladic more than these times
16 on the 12th that you talked about?
17 A. Yes, during the night on 12th and on the 13th, during that night, I
18 saw him passing by our position sitting in a jeep and he moved up to
19 Srebrenica, and later on that night he moved back towards Potocari.
20 Q. So you saw him twice during that night?
21 A. Sorry?
22 Q. You saw him twice during that night?
23 A. Yes, that is correct.
24 Q. But he did not stop?
25 A. No.
1 Q. You did not talk to him?
2 A. He just drove on.
3 Q. OK. Then when only the wounded people were left, what happened then?
4 What did you do in the coming days?
5 A. Well, for me, personally, I picked up my job again as logistics
6 officer and doing the things requested and waiting for us to leave the
7 enclave, and we were making preparations for leaving the enclave
8 because we did not know if we could leave with all our equipment or
9 just by taking our personal belongings and then leave the compound.
10 So I took up my old job.
11 Q. As a logistics officer, you can certainly tell us how much equipment
12 did you lose during these days?
13 A. Well, I do not know the exact numbers and figures. We lose weapons,
14 we did lose some jeeps.
15 Q. How many jeeps?
16 A. I do not know the exact figures.
17 Q. Can you make an estimate?
18 A. No.
19 Q. You cannot.
20 A. APCs, we lost APCs, and we lost, well, equipment, soldiers' equipment
21 and bulletproof vests and helmets.
22 Q. When did you leave? When did the Battalion leave Srebrenica?
23 A. It was on 21st, on Friday, July.
24 Q. The week after?
25 A. A week after that, yes.
1 MR. OSTBERG: Thank you very much. Your Honours, I have concluded my
3 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you, Mr. Ostberg. Fellow Judges, you have a
4 question, please proceed.
5 Examined by the Court
6 JUDGE ODIO BENITO: Thank you. Lieutenant Koster, you talk of 15,000
7 people coming from Srebrenica to Potocari looking for help, mostly,
8 you said, they were women and children and elderly people; is that
10 A. That is correct.
11 Q. Were you expecting this exodus from Srebrenica?
12 A. I am sorry. Can you repeat the question?
13 Q. Were you in Potocari, you and your team, expecting this exodus from
15 A. Yes, we were outside there to receive the refugees, yes, and we had
16 expected to come refugees to our position. That was why we were
17 posted outside.
18 Q. Were you prepared for receiving them?
19 A. No -- just being there and being posted there and doing the best we
20 can, but we did not have the equipment or medical equipment or even
21 enough food to receive them.
22 Q. Had you, your team, asked for help to your superiors or to the
23 superior command or NATO or UNPROFOR to face this emergency?
24 A. I did not, no.
25 Q. Did you receive any additional support for help before or after 11th
2 A. No.
3 Q. What happened with these people, women, children, elderly, wounded
4 people when the Bosnian Serb soldiers arrived?
5 A. Well, sorry, you are only talking now about the wounded people?
6 Q. About the women, children, elderly people in Potocari coming from
7 Srebrenica when the soldiers Serb soldiers arrived.
8 A. Well, they were afraid and they were not harmed or anything by the
9 Serbian people, from what I could see, outside the compound. Well,
10 later on, the periods we were outside, they were put inside of the
11 buses and evacuated from my position.
12 Q. Did you hear about massacres committed by Serb soldiers against
13 Muslims in and around Srebrenica, Potocari, Bratunac at that time?
14 A. No, I only learned on the Wednesday that there was a position --
15 there was a rumour about eight or nine bodies.
16 Q. After those days have you heard about massacres committed?
17 A. No, only when I returned in the news.
18 Q. Did Colonel Karremans or anyone else say "no" to General Mladic when
19 he ordered the evacuation of the refugees?
20 A. I do not know that because they already started it when I was
21 reporting it, so the situation was completely taken out of their hands
23 Q. But the refugees were under your support, under the UN support, under
24 the protection?
25 A. That is correct.
1 Q. So did you or your superior try to avoid that the refugees were taken
2 out in any way?
3 A. It was not possible to do it because we were outnumbered and we were
4 pulled away, and then the Serbs, they pushed the people and shouted at
5 the people to go to the buses now, but to get inside these buses so
6 being outnumbered we could not do anything at that time.
7 JUDGE ODIO BENITO: I see. Thank you. No further questions.
8 JUDGE RIAD: Lieutenant Kosta, you just said that you were outnumbered,
9 completely outnumbered. In fact, you were in a state of helplessness
11 A. Yes, that is correct.
12 Q. Were you at any moment threatened?
13 A. In person?
14 Q. No, the whole group in your capacity, you and your colleagues?
15 A. No, we were just told to co-operate and that would be the best for
17 Q. Yes, yes, "best for us" means that something would be worst; if there
18 is something best, then something can be worst. You mentioned that
19 Mladic himself told you, you had better co-operate, you are all right,
20 and then he told you, "You will see what is going to happen"; is that
22 A. I am sorry, I did not understand the question.
23 Q. Mladic, among his visits, he told you, "You are going to see what will
24 happen". You mentioned that from your notes.
25 A. I still do not understand the question. I am sorry.
1 Q. What did Mladic tell you?
2 A. OK. Yes, he told me that and later on he told me that he was going
3 to evacuate the people of Srebrenica.
4 Q. Yes.
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Then you mentioned that you saw them separate men in fighting age from
7 the others?
8 A. Yes, that is correct.
9 Q. Yes. Did you protest or anything?
10 A. Yes, we did.
11 Q. You did and what was the reaction to your protest?
12 A. Well, sometimes they let the men go with their families and their
13 wives and, well, at the places we were -- we could not protest or
14 where we were not located, well, we could not do a thing.
15 Q. Did they pick them just at random or did they have a list in their
17 A. No, just at random.
18 Q. Because there was a list of 200 and something people which nobody
19 knew if it was given to them or not. Do you have any idea about that?
20 A. I know about that list, yes, and it was made on the compound, at the
22 Q. I beg your pardon?
23 A. That list was made just to make sure and to inform the Serbs that we
24 were watching them ---
25 Q. Yes.
1 A. -- and keeping everything under control about what they were going to
2 do with the men, and so by that list we were also protecting them, so
3 we were checking them.
4 Q. So this list was made by your men, by the officers?
5 A. No.
6 Q. No?
7 A. It was not. It was made by a committee of the refugees inside of the
8 compound and -----
9 Q. And given to you?
10 A. No, not to me.
11 Q. I mean, to -----
12 A. My commanding officer?
13 Q. Yes.
14 A. From what I know, it was not given to the Serbs.
15 Q. You do not know if it was given to the Serbs or not?
16 A. From what I know, it was not given to the Serbs.
17 JUDGE RIAD: It was not. Thank you very much.
18 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Lieutenant, on the basis of what we have heard,
19 apparently, there are some vehicles from the Battalion that escorted
20 the jeeps, some jeeps that escorted the vehicles, so you did you have
21 some jeeps that went along with the convoys. I take it that those
22 jeeps came back, at least some of them came back, so you had a chance
23 to see some of your men before you left the compound. What did your
24 men tell you about what happened and were they aware of the events?
25 A. I only learnt from that when we left the enclave. Before that, I was
1 constantly being outside until the 13th and I did not know what was
2 going on during these escorts.
3 Q. Because the jeeps that were doing the escorting did not leave
5 A. Some of them were already taken away at our main gate and, well, that
6 is what they told me while I was doing my reports. Well, at least one
7 of them made it through and hat was the first transport, but that is
8 something I learned later when I left the enclave.
9 Q. When soldiers came back, because there was a gathering before you left
10 the enclave, what did people say to one another? What did soldiers
11 say? Did anybody tell you anything? Did they know nothing?
12 A. No.
13 Q. Nothing was said?
14 A. No.
15 Q. They did not say anything about what they might have seen? They did
16 not see anything?
17 A. No, because I was not speaking to them. I was too busy at that time
18 doing my job as a logistics officer, so I do not know anything about
19 that. I am sorry.
20 Q. Fine. You got together on a regular basis with the reports about the
21 meetings with General Mladic, or was there a compartmentalisation
22 between the different levels of command?
23 A. Can the interpreter repeat the question, please?
24 Q. Did you have any input about the meetings with General Mladic or was
25 there no information tricking down at the various levels?
1 A. No, I did not know what was going on. I did not know the exact
2 details of the meetings with General Mladic.
3 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you. Mr. Ostberg, we have no further
4 questions for the witness. So, we could have the usher show the
5 witness out? Lieutenant, the Tribunal would like to thank you for
6 your testimony which you provided on behalf of the Prosecution. Then
7 the Prosecution can show in the next witness.
8 THE WITNESS: Thank you.
9 (The witness withdrew)
10 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Just to organise our proceedings, we are going to
11 spend one hour listening to the next witness and then we shall proceed
12 to a recess at about 4.30. So, Mr. Bowers, once the witness comes in,
13 please do proceed.
14 MR. BOWERS: Thank you, your Honour. At this time the Prosecution would
15 call Corporal Groenewegen to the stand, please.
16 CORPORAL GROENEWEGEN, called.
17 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: We will be going through the interpreter. Can you
18 hear, madam? Can you hear me? Can the interpreter hear the English
19 interpretation? Can you hear the interpretation?
20 THE INTERPRETER: Yes, thank you.
21 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: So, first, you will ask the witness to read out the
22 declaration, the solemn declaration.
23 THE WITNESS: I hereby declare to speak the truth, the truth and nothing
24 but the truth.
25 (The witness was sworn)
1 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you. Please be seated. Mr. Bowers?
2 MR. BOWERS: Thank you, your Honour.
3 Examined by MR. BOWERS
4 Q. Good afternoon, Corporal Groenewegen. Would you start by stating your
5 full name and spelling it for the record, please?
6 A. My name is Groenewegen, G-R-O-E-N-E-W-E-G-E-N.
7 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you.
8 MR. BOWERS: Corporal, you currently serve in the Dutch Army; is that
10 A. That is correct.
11 Q. Would you tell the court your current rank and your responsibilities
12 and branch of service?
13 A. At this moment I am a deputy of the -- [I am sorry, the witness has
14 to speak into the microphone. It is very difficult to understand] --
15 I am a corporal. I am substitute of the Dragon infantry group.
16 Q. Corporal, have you served in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
17 A. That is correct.
18 Q. Would you tell the court the period of your tour of duty?
19 A. From July 1995 until July -- January 1995 to July 1995.
20 Q. Who was your commanding officer at that time?
21 THE INTERPRETER: Who are you talking -- sorry. [The interpreter is
22 telling the witness to speak into the microphone].
23 THE WITNESS: You mean group sergeant?
24 MR. BOWERS: That would be fine.
25 A. At that moment it was Sergeant Mulder.
1 Q. Who was your ultimate commanding officer in the area where you were
3 A. That is Lieutenant Schopman.
4 Q. Were you stationed in Potocari when you did your tour of duty in
6 A. In Potocari.
7 Q. Were you assigned to Bravo Company there at Potocari?
8 A. Negative. That is the Charlie Company.
9 Q. How many Companies were there in the Potocari area?
10 A. One Company.
11 Q. Were there other Companies within the Srebrenica enclave?
12 A. Correct.
13 Q. Could you describe those Companies, please?
14 A. That is the Bravo Company.
15 Q. Would you describe for the court your particular responsibilities when
16 you arrived in the Potocari area?
17 A. That consisted of OPs, doing OPs, that is, doing patrols on foot,
18 guard on foot, just being in the enclave occupying the enclave.
19 Q. You have used the initials "OP", does that refer to observation posts?
20 A. That is correct.
21 Q. You were serving as an infantrymen at one of the observation posts; is
22 that correct?
23 A. That is correct.
24 Q. Could you just tell the court, as an infantryman assigned to an
25 observation post, what were your daily assignments? What types of
1 things did you do?
2 A. Well, my work consisted of patrols of the OP itself.
3 Q. Were there different types of patrols that you would undertake?
4 A. That is correct.
5 Q. Could you describe those, please?
6 A. There were two kinds of patrols, border patrol, social patrol.
7 Q. What were the differences in these two patrols?
8 A. The social patrols were to have certain contact with the people and
9 to overlook situation in the enclave; the border patrols was to see
10 whether the fighting parties complied with the agreements.
11 MR. BOWERS: Your Honour, at this time if we could have Exhibit 60, the
12 map of Srebrenica enclave shown? Corporal, you were assigned to a
13 specific observation post; is that correct?
14 A. Well, I have been at two actually.
15 Q. What were the two posts that you performed your responsibilities at?
16 A. Mike and November.
17 Q. Could you please take the pointer and just show on the map the two
18 locations of the observation posts within the Srebrenica enclave?
19 A. (The witness indicated on the map).
20 Q. If you could do that again? I do not think we had the map on the
21 screen. Which observation post is that?
22 A. OP Mike.
23 Q. Could you show us the other observation post at which you served?
24 A. This is November.
25 Q. Thank you. In the first months of 1995 when you arrived at Potocari,
1 what was it like serving at these observation posts?
2 A. Well, it was quite attractive; the day consisted of patrolling, being
3 on guard, resting, a patrol every other day, so we did not really have
4 very much to do.
5 Q. Did you encounter any resistance or antagonism from the Bosnian Serb
6 Army in the vicinity of your patrols?
7 A. No.
8 Q. At some point later in your tour of duty did the situation begin to
10 A. That is correct. That was the last month.
11 Q. What happened in the last month?
12 A. It started with a complete discontinuation of convoys, hence we could
13 not continue our work because of lack of fuel, food.
14 Q. In late June/early July of 1995 which observation post were you
15 assigned to?
16 A. OP Mike.
17 Q. Could you describe for the court what started happening in the
18 vicinity of OP Mike with regard to conduct of the Bosnian Serb Army in
19 the vicinity of the observation post?
20 A. Well, from the Serb positions that we could see from our position, we
21 saw people, soldiers, who made signals towards us that we had to leave
22 the OP in the area.
23 Q. When did they start making these types of gestures?
24 A. Do you mean time?
25 Q. Yes.
1 A. It must have been in the morning.
2 Q. How many soldiers were in the Bosnian Serb Army contingent that began
3 making an indication for you to leave?
4 A. About 10 men.
5 Q. How were they armed?
6 A. From that distance, we could not see that.
7 Q. Did they yell anything that you could hear from across the way?
8 A. Positive.
9 Q. What types of things could you hear?
10 A. We do know one local word used by the local people there and it means
11 something like "shoo, go away", and that is something we could clearly
13 Q. How long did these initial verbal type of provocations last?
14 A. 10 to 15 minutes.
15 Q. Did it occur on more than one day?
16 A. I just experienced it one day.
17 Q. Eventually, did the Bosnian Serb Army in the vicinity of OP Mike take
18 any aggressive action against the observation post?
19 A. Mortars, shooting mortars towards the OP.
20 Q. When did the BSA contingent across from observation post Mike open
21 fire, when in way of time of day and day?
22 A. It must have been 10th July, almost immediately after the threats
23 themselves. That is when they started firing.
24 Q. You were personally in the observation post when the Bosnian Serb Army
25 began firing?
1 A. That is correct.
2 Q. Do you remember what time of the day it was? Was it in the morning,
4 A. In the morning.
5 Q. Could you tell approximately how many rounds fell around the
6 observation post?
7 A. Several hours -- about 20.
8 Q. How many other infantrymen were with you at the observation post Mike
9 when the mortar fire began?
10 A. 10 of us then.
11 Q. What did all of you do when the mortar fire started?
12 A. They spent almost all day in the bunker.
13 Q. Do you know if at the time the mortar attacks began on OP Mike there
14 were any other attacks occurring on observation posts in other areas
15 of the Srebrenica enclave?
16 A. Yes, they also took place at other OPs.
17 Q. How could you tell that there were other attacks on other observation
18 posts within the enclave?
19 A. We received that -- we received those communications from time to
20 time and we could hear the firing throughout the area.
21 Q. You stated that the firing lasted most of the day, correct?
22 A. Mainly during the day time.
23 Q. Was there still some firing that night?
24 A. Hardly none.
25 Q. With your own personal situation, what did you do after this shelling
2 A. We stayed in the bunker till then, that is, the OP personnel. After
3 that we resumed our work as soon as possible.
4 Q. Was there any other interference the next day when you resumed your
6 A. The morning after that, there were some, there was some mortar
7 firing. Towards the afternoon, I was taken down, down to the
9 Q. You returned to the compound because it was your turn, as far as a
10 rotation of duty, to return to the Potocari area; is that correct?
11 A. That is correct.
12 Q. When you arrived at the Potocari compound, what was the situation?
13 A. Tense. We spent quite some time there in the bunker too.
14 Q. When you returned to the compound did you have an opportunity to see
15 any weaponry that the Bosnian Serb Army had in the surrounding areas?
16 A. Negative.
17 Q. At some point later were you able to see any sort of their weaponry?
18 A. That is correct.
19 Q. What was the time and what did you see?
20 A. This would have been around noon, the afternoon. We saw the flames,
21 constantly we saw the flames, of the rockets and we saw where they
22 were coming from.
23 Q. Would this be a reference to a multiple rocket launcher of sorts?
24 A. That is correct.
25 Q. Where was the rocket launcher located?
1 A. On the nearest mountain close to OP Papa.
2 Q. Could you determine what the targets were?
3 A. No precise targets, most probably just provocation, so that the
4 people, the population, would not move.
5 Q. OK. Thank you. After you returned to the Potocari compound, at some
6 point refugees started arriving from the Srebrenica compound; is that
8 A. That is on July 11th, in the morning.
9 Q. Was Bravo Company also travelling with some of the refugees?
10 A. Yes, we saw a very big group of refugees and then an increasing
11 number of Bravo Company people.
12 Q. Did you have any responsibilities with regard to receiving this exodus
13 of refugees from the Srebrenica area?
14 A. That is correct.
15 Q. What were your responsibilities?
16 A. I started to form a line from the compound to receive the people as
17 best as possible and to move them in that direction.
18 Q. How many soldiers were stationed outside the compound in this
19 receiving line?
20 A. Approximately 30 to 50 men.
21 Q. Once you were assigned to this receiving line, did you stay out
22 amongst the refugees?
23 A. A few refugees that arrived at our side of the river, indeed, we
24 received them.
25 Q. In fact, over the next several days you even slept outside the
2 A. That is correct.
3 Q. Could you just briefly describe what you saw on July 11th when the
4 refugees arrived, just briefly state for the court what shape the
5 refugees were in and some of the sights that you saw?
6 A. The purpose was to see to it that the refugees that arrived, they had
7 to be led towards the compound, but it became clear very quickly that
8 we could not have everybody moved, go there. So the rest of the
9 people had to remain outside. As much as possible we placed them in
10 the factories, in the buildings, in the vicinity. It was very
12 Q. Did the wounded get some sort of priority as far as being allowed into
13 the compound?
14 A. That is correct. Women and children, as far as possible, were helped
15 first and then men.
16 Q. While you were on this receiving line, did you see someone inflict an
17 injury upon him in an attempt to get into the compound?
18 A. That is correct.
19 Q. What was the weather like at this time when the refugees first started
21 A. It was very hot. It was stifling.
22 Q. Was there sufficient water and toilet facilities and food for the
23 influx of refugees?
24 A. We tried to provide water as much as possible, jerry cans and barrels
25 of water. We tried to bring them as much as possible.
1 Q. You have stated that the refugees arrived approximately on June (sic)
2 11th. What happened the next day -- I am sorry, July 12th?
3 A. July 12th, Serbs started evacuating refugees.
4 Q. Were you out on the receiving line when the first soldiers arrived
5 into Potocari?
6 A. That is correct.
7 Q. About what time did these first soldiers arrive?
8 A. Afternoon.
9 Q. That was on July 12th?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. From which direction did this first group of soldiers arrive?
12 A. From OP Papa.
13 Q. Could we have Exhibit 60 so that the Corporal can point that out on
14 the map, please? Could you just show what direction the soldiers came
16 A. (The witness indicated on the map).
17 Q. OK, so they are coming from the south to the north?
18 A. The north to the south.
19 Q. North to the south. OK. From the Bratunac area?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Down towards Potocari?
22 A. That is correct.
23 Q. OK. Is there a main road that enters into Potocari?
24 A. Indeed, there was one. There was just one entry, the enclave, and
25 that was at Potocari, OP Papa.
1 Q. Would you describe for the court what type of soldiers these were that
2 first arrived?
3 A. These were not -- those are soldiers that did not wear the regular
4 clothing; all kinds of camouflage clothing and head wear.
5 Q. How were they armed?
6 A. Heavily.
7 Q. Were they armed in a standard military way or did they appear to have
8 more weaponry than is normal for a standard soldier?
9 A. It is probably at random, whatever they wanted to bring along.
10 Q. When this first group of soldiers arrived into Potocari, did you see
11 or hear any firing?
12 A. That is correct.
13 Q. Where was that occurring?
14 A. Mainly along the sides of the enclave.
15 Q. Would that be up in the hills surrounding the Potocari village?
16 A. That is correct. I could not see any further than that.
17 Q. Did you see houses catching on fire?
18 A. That is correct.
19 Q. Did you hear anything that sounded like return fire or actual combat?
20 A. No, it was just like some firing from one single party.
21 Q. How long did this firing along the periphery of the city last?
22 A. I cannot answer.
23 Q. I am sorry?
24 THE INTERPRETER: Could you repeat your answer?
25 THE WITNESS: I cannot give you an exact answer. It would be an
2 MR. BOWERS: OK. Can you give an estimate?
3 A. From the moment the soldiers arrived until night fall.
4 Q. After this first group arrived were there other soldiers that came
6 A. That is correct.
7 Q. Approximately, how long after the first group arrived did this second
8 group of soldiers come to Potocari?
9 A. 10 to 15 minutes.
10 Q. Would you describe this second group of soldiers for the court,
12 A. Sort of more uniformly dressed; almost all of them had the same
13 uniform, plus camera crews.
14 Q. Were there any soldiers with dogs?
15 A. Not at that moment, no.
16 Q. OK. The direction that the first group had come, was that the same
17 direction as the second group that arrived into Potocari?
18 A. That is correct.
19 Q. In your opinion, was there any way that this first group of heavily
20 armed soldiers could have entered the city of Potocari without the
21 knowledge of the second group that arrived?
22 A. No, it looked like that the heavily armed group would go first, to be
23 sure, and only after that the camera crews would follow, I mean, to
24 record everything.
25 Q. Did it appear that they were acting in co-ordination?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. You mentioned camera crews. What were camera crews doing?
3 A. Small groups of people with complete camera equipment, sound
4 equipment and photo cameras -- some men with photo cameras.
5 Q. Could you tell what these people were filming or taking photographs
7 A. Mainly the contact made by the Serbs quite quickly after having
8 arrived and surroundings.
9 Q. By the time this soldiers started arriving on July 12th, do you know
10 approximately how many refugees would be in the vicinity of the
11 compound at Potocari?
12 A. Inside or outside?
13 Q. Both.
14 A. Inside the compound about 2500, and outside the rest of the
16 Q. Do you have an estimate of approximately how many were outside the
18 A. No.
19 Q. What happened with the refugees once the soldiers began arriving in
21 A. Before the evacuation actually started, the people were more or less
22 left alone.
23 Q. Did they appear to be concerned when the soldiers arrived?
24 A. Yes, you saw that.
25 Q. You have mentioned that an evacuation eventually started. Can you
1 give us an approximate time of when people started being evacuated?
2 A. I do not know.
3 Q. How did this evacuation proceed? What type of vehicles were used?
4 A. As regards the vehicles, there were buses and lorries, trucks. It
5 looked quite rough.
6 Q. How long did the evacuation effort last on July 12th?
7 A. To night fall.
8 Q. Did the evacuations begin the next day on July 13th?
9 A. That is correct.
10 Q. Approximately what time on July 13th?
11 A. 7.00, 8 o'clock in the morning.
12 Q. You were still out on the line amongst the refugees?
13 A. That is correct.
14 Q. At this point in time, on the morning of July 13th, did you start
15 seeing any type of separation effort?
16 A. That is correct. As from that point in time, the men were separated
17 from the women.
18 Q. Who was doing this separation?
19 A. All the Serbs that were there in the vicinity.
20 Q. You watched this process at a fairly close range?
21 A. Yes, we were walking around in between.
22 Q. Would you describe for the court how the Serb soldiers would separate
23 a man from the crowd?
24 A. Mostly groups of three to four men. A maximum of one or two men were
25 taken away.
1 Q. Was it always a situation where the armed Serb soldiers outnumbered
2 the men that they were taking out of the crowd or the group of men
3 that they were removing from the crowd?
4 A. That is correct.
5 Q. Did you see what happened to the men that were separated out of the
7 A. The men were taken to a house that was nearby until that floor was
8 full of people and then they were deported.
9 Q. Could you see into this particular house where the men were collected?
10 A. That is correct.
11 Q. Is that because part of the front wall was missing?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Did you observe this house throughout the day?
14 A. Yes, I was there all day but I did not constantly concentrate on the
16 Q. During the course of the day, did you see men brought to the house and
17 then taken away from the house on a fairly regular basis?
18 A. That is correct. As soon as the house was almost full, if you looked
19 up after some time you saw that it was empty again.
20 Q. On the afternoon of July 13th, did you witness a killing?
21 A. That is correct.
22 Q. Approximately what time of the day was that?
23 A. 4 o'clock.
24 MR. BOWERS: Your Honour, at this point if we could have the lights
25 dimmed? We have a brief video to show. I believe that is Exhibit 61.
1 (Exhibit 61 was shown)
2 Corporal Groenewegen, do you recognise this area?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Do you recognise this house that is shown?
5 A. That is correct.
6 Q. Is this in the vicinity where you were when you saw the killing?
7 A. That is correct.
8 Q. OK, that is fine. Thank you. Now if we could have Exhibit 62 which
9 is a still photo taken from this video put on the overhead? Corporal,
10 if you could use this photograph and if we could move that up just a
11 little, please, and then use the pointer and describe to the court
12 where you were and what you saw?
13 A. That day I walked around, essentially, over here and this is the
14 house where I saw the murder being committed.
15 Q. Were there refugees in the general area here where you see the open
16 space with the grass?
17 A. It should not be there. We were there in order to send them back so
18 that they would be sent back through the ordinary route.
19 Q. What did you see that day? What happened?
20 A. From my position, the line where I was to keep people out who wanted
21 to move towards the buses, I saw that a group of Serb soldiers from
22 the crowd took one man, and then I did not take any notice of that any
23 more and then later on I heard shouting. I responded, and it appeared
24 to be the same group with a man that they had taken along.
25 Q. OK, if I could stop you a for one second?
1 A. And after -----
2 Q. How many men took the individual out of the crowd?
3 A. Four.
4 Q. Were they soldiers, armed soldiers?
5 A. All four of them were armed, yes.
6 Q. The man taken from the crowd, was he armed?
7 A. No.
8 Q. Did he resist in any way?
9 A. Impossible. He probably knew what was going to happen.
10 Q. All right. Continue and tell the court what you saw after he was
11 taken from the crowd.
12 A. At that moment he was taken from the crowd, I no longer took any
13 notice of them. Later on, when I heard the shouting, I looked towards
14 them and I saw the same group, Serbs, with the man they had taken
15 along, and afterwards around the corner he was shot dead.
16 Q. When he was taken behind the house that appears on the still
17 photograph, did you hear shouting from that area?
18 A. Not really loud shouting, but noise, a lot of noise.
19 Q. When you heard the noise, you turned and what did you see when you
20 first looked behind the house?
21 A. From the position where I was standing, I saw that the men gestured
22 to the man they had captured, so to call, to face the wall. The
23 soldiers themselves looked at one another for a second, as if they
24 were asking each other, who is going to do it. One stepped out and he
25 was about a few metres behind the man and shot him with an AK.
1 Q. Could you tell from that distance where the bullet impacted?
2 A. That must have been the head itself.
3 Q. When the soldiers took the man from the crowd behind the house, were
4 there some other Serb soldiers in the general vicinity?
5 A. Some of them working around -- walking around that could see it, yes.
6 Q. How many were also behind the house in addition to the men that were
7 responsible for extracting the individual from the crowd and shooting
9 A. The time of the murder, two at that moment.
10 Q. From where you were standing across the way, you could hear the
11 gunshot; is that correct?
12 A. That is correct.
13 Q. Did the two soldiers standing behind the house react when the man was
15 A. At the moment of the shooting they looked up in that direction, but
16 then they resumed their own work quite quickly.
17 Q. After the man was shot, what did the soldiers responsible for the
18 shooting do?
19 A. The men disappeared behind some bushes very nearby.
20 Q. Did they drag the body of the person that had been shot?
21 A. Not at that moment, not when they disappeared behind the bushes and
22 not afterwards either.
23 Q. Do you know what happened to the body?
24 A. Negative.
25 Q. Did the soldier use a single round to shoot this individual?
1 A. Yes, a single round.
2 Q. During the rest of the day on July 13th, did you continue to hear
3 these single shots throughout the day?
4 A. That is correct.
5 Q. Could you please tell the court how often during the course of July
6 13th you heard these single isolated shots?
7 A. Approximately 20 to 40 an hour.
8 Q. Could you determine approximately what area these shots originated?
9 A. Mainly from the house, the area with the houses.
10 Q. Would that be up away from where the crowd of refugees was being kept?
11 A. That is correct, a lot further, in the hills.
12 Q. In your opinion, were these single round being fired in any type of
13 combat situation?
14 A. Single shots.
15 Q. So that does not indicate any type of combat occurring, in your
17 A. Negative.
18 Q. At the time you were hearing these single shots, I assume there were
19 Serb soldiers in the area?
20 A. That is correct.
21 Q. Did they exhibit any concern when these single shots would occur?
22 A. Negative.
23 Q. Corporal, can you recognise General Mladic?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. How is it that you are able to recognise him?
1 A. From the briefings beforehand, news, the situation in general.
2 Q. Did you see General Mladic in Potocari?
3 A. That is correct.
4 Q. Approximately how many times?
5 A. About four times.
6 Q. When was that that you saw General Mladic in Potocari?
7 A. On 13th July, throughout the day.
8 Q. Could you tell the court some of the things he was doing during the
9 course of the day?
10 A. I only saw him speaking to his own people and our own people.
11 Q. Did he appear to be in charge of the situation?
12 A. That is correct.
13 Q. The day, July 13th, that you saw General Mladic in Potocari, is that
14 the same day that you saw the Serb soldiers begin separating the
15 fighting aged men out from the crowd?
16 A. That is correct.
17 Q. The day you saw General Mladic is also the same day that you saw the
18 execution of the man behind the house; is that correct?
19 A. That is correct.
20 Q. It is also the same day that you heard the continuous repetition of
21 single shots being fired in the area beyond the refugees?
22 A. That is correct.
23 Q. You recall the video showed the road running in front of the house
24 where the execution occurred?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Is that the road that General Mladic would have travelled each time he
2 arrived in Potocari?
3 A. That is correct.
4 MR. BOWERS: We have no further questions, your Honour.
5 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you, Prosecutor. Do you have any questions or
6 do you have any questions?
7 Examined by the Court
8 JUDGE RIAD: Corporal, you mentioned that you heard single shots
9 repeatedly till night fall. Did you or did your Battalion enquire
10 what it was about?
11 A. We all had our own ideas about it, but nothing was done.
12 Q. "Nothing was done", do you mean that there was no protest or objection
13 or contact with the Serbs to ask them what it was about?
14 A. If we asked, then we did not get any reaction, so we did not get any
15 answers from them.
16 Q. When this execution was undertaken at your site, was there any
17 objection to it to the Serbians or did they draw your attention to
18 what they were doing?
19 A. At that moment it was so chaotic that we were all very busy and we
20 could not react as we would normally react.
21 Q. Did you have a chance to know why they selected a man like this man to
22 execute him in public?
23 A. Negative.
24 JUDGE RIAD: Thank you very much.
25 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you, Prosecutor. I think we have finished
1 with this testimony. The Tribunal would like to thank the Corporal
2 for his testimony which we have got through the Prosecution in this
3 present case. The Tribunal would also like to thank the interpreter so
4 that we could hear the testimony of the witness. Could the usher
5 please accompany the witness out of the courtroom?
6 (The witness withdrew)
7 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Prosecutor, I suggest that we adjourn until 4.50.
8 The meeting is adjourned.
9 (4.33 p.m.)
10 (The court adjourned for a short time).
11 (4.50 p.m.)
12 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Counsel for the Prosecution, Mr. Ostberg, you have
13 submitted an application to the Trial Chamber in connection with the
14 protection of a witness. Now we today came out with an order on the
15 part of the Chamber and we have ordered that the name, address,
16 whereabouts and other identifying information concerning the person
17 previously identified by the pseudonym Witness A shall not be
18 disclosed to the public or to the media; that the name, address,
19 whereabouts and other identifying information concerning Witness A
20 shall be sealed and not included in any of the Tribunal's public
21 records; that the pseudonym Witness A shall be used whenever
22 referring to this witness in the Tribunal proceedings; that the
23 testimony of Witness A be presented using image altering devices;
24 that any discussions, should there be any, relative to the issue of
25 protective measures for pseudonym witnesses shall be held in closed
1 session; lastly, that the identity of Witness A also be protected
2 while he enters and leaves the courtroom, which means that at present
3 we have blocked off part of the room. We will see whether there are
4 any other measures that need to be taken, and once we have seen to it
5 that we have all the protection required we can remove this here
6 blocking the view.
7 I would like to know from, Mr. Ostberg, whether there are any
8 other measures. There should be an embargo, as it were, on the images
9 that are now broadcast live from our own channel that is available to
10 all television networks. If you agree, I think we should, therefore,
11 for at least 15 minutes block out the images in case one of us has a
12 slip of the tongue. What do you think of that, Mr. Ostberg?
13 MR. OSTBERG: Yes, that is also my opinion, your Honour. So I think this
14 delay also will take place. Other measures I do not require.
15 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: I see. The Registrar would like to say something.
16 Please proceed.
17 MR. BOS: I would like to know for this last measure if the technical
18 booth is ready to have a video delay at this moment, because I am not
19 sure. I think they are asking for a 10 minutes delay to install this
20 video delay, because they were not prepared for this.
21 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: We shall, therefore, adjourn for 10 minutes. So
22 that those following the proceedings will understand what the point
23 is, this is so that the protective measures taken work, because they
24 will not work if we do not delay by some 15 minutes the broadcast of
25 the images. What you have to bear in mind is that the witness who is
1 going to be entering the room might himself in his account say things
2 that might reveal the disclose either of his identity or that of other
3 persons. So it is not just in respect of this witness, but we also
4 want to protect other potential witnesses. As I said, we shall
5 adjourn for 10 minutes. I would ask the technical unit to do their
6 utmost so that we can proceed with the hearing.
7 (The court adjourned for a short time).
8 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Counsel for the Prosecution, I want to ask you that
9 if the same clauses and measures are going to be valid for tomorrow
10 we have to have this delay in the transmission of our images also
11 tomorrow, so we must be prepared tomorrow. So, we hope that this
12 information will be passed on to the technical facilities so that we
13 will not have a late start tomorrow morning.
14 You have the floor, Prosecutor.
15 MR. OSTBERG: Thank you, your Honour. I call Witness A.
16 Witness A called.
17 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Sir, first of all, can you hear me? Take your time,
18 take your time. Can you hear me?
19 THE WITNESS: [In translation] Yes, I do.
20 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: The usher is going to give you a statement which you
21 must read standing up, if at all possible. Please read it, sir.
22 THE WITNESS: I solemnly declare that I will speak the truth, the whole
23 truth and nothing but the truth.
24 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Sir, please be seated. We can draw the curtains
25 up. First of all, I would like to thank you for having come here,
1 for being prepared to come and give us your testimony. We are fully
2 aware that this is something very difficult for you. I and my
3 colleagues want to assure you that you can speak freely because you
4 are under the protection of this Tribunal. It is an International
6 Now counsel for the Prosecution -- there seems to be no sound
7 in the public gallery. Can the public gallery hear the Judge? No.
8 Can you hear the Judge from the public gallery?
9 First of all, we also must bear in mind the public gallery.
10 Counsel for the Prosecution, do you hear me? It seems there are some
11 technical sound problems. I nevertheless note that this has happened
12 once before. Each time we take protective measures for the witness it
13 seems that our system of protection does not work and we cannot have
14 the sound for the public gallery. This has already happened in a
15 Rule 61
16 hearing and I regret this very much. We will not stay here inactive, so
17 once again I have to adjourn the hearing.
18 (The hearing adjourned for a short time).
19 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Can the public gallery hear me? Is the sound
20 coming through? Counsel for the Prosecution, please proceed.
21 I just want to say that we are very appreciative that you have
22 come here. We understand the difficulties it has for you. You are
23 under the protection of the Tribunal. Therefore, you can speak freely
24 without being worried at all. Prosecutor, please proceed.
25 MR. OSTBERG: Thank you, your Honour.
1 Examined by Mr. Ostberg.
2 Q. Will you tell us, sir, if you were present in Srebrenica when the town
3 fell to the Bosnian Serb Army?
4 A. Yes, I was.
5 Q. Would you tell us what day that was?
6 A. It was on 11th July '95.
7 Q. Thank you. Sir, I would like to ask you if you feel comfortable to
8 tell the Court what you experienced that day and the following three
9 days without having me guiding you through the events. Are you
10 prepared to do that?
11 A. Yes, I am.
12 Q. Then please, sir, tell the Court what happened to you on 11th July and
13 the days to come, please?
14 A. On 11th July they came in the morning from the Civilian Defence to
15 our village and told us that the Serbs are attacking with armoured
16 vehicles from Zelen Yadar in the direction of Srebrenica. So, we were
17 expecting, afraid and panicky, what will happen with Srebrenica. We
18 listened to the news from Sarajevo wondering what might happen. Until
19 about 2 o'clock in the afternoon two planes of NATO flew over. We
20 heard detonations and knew that they were bombing. Around 3 o'clock
21 we were listening to Sarajevo news, and they said that NATO planes
22 bombed armoured vehicles of the Serbian Army, that Srebrenica will not
23 fall, it will be protected, and so we relaxed a little and went after
24 our business.
25 Then towards the evening I saw people going from the village.
1 I was in the field collecting hay with my family. I saw people
2 going from the village and my wife shouts: "Look at those people,
3 they are going", and we could see women and children and horses all
4 on the move. I told them: "Let's go home, something new must have
5 happened." When I arrived home all in my village were ready to go
6 and they said: "What are you waiting for? Why aren't you coming?
7 Don't you hear them say that Srebrenica fell and somebody has come
8 and told us to retreat, so women, children, elderly disabled should
9 go towards the UNPROFOR base in Potocarska Rijeka."
10 So with my family I entered the house. We took the basic
11 necessities, some food and something, and we started around 8 o'clock
12 from my home. We went down to Potocari and there on the way we saw
13 people sitting along the road. We said: What's happening? Why don't
14 you go to the UNPROFOR compound?" They answered: "They are not
15 letting us." So with my family I spent the night on the grounds of a
16 factory called Mart 11th or Sacmar. In the morning some went to
17 enquire what will happen, when will there be any transport, whether
18 there will be any transport, and they come back and say: "We no know
19 nothing. We don't know who will provide the transport. You will see
20 when the vehicles come, then we shall take you."
21 So the afternoon arrived until the first vehicles came to take
22 people away. So, with my family I set off towards those buses with
23 all those people. This UNPROFOR had blocked the road because the
24 people were moving in a wide front, so they were not allowing those
25 people to move the whole width of the road. They tried to narrow
12 Blank pages inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.Pages 740 to 764.
1 down the passage, so that they could enter the buses smoothly.
2 Passing by the UNPROFOR I saw some soldiers. The distance
3 between UNPROFOR and buses was about 20 metres or so. I saw some
4 soldiers also in camouflage uniforms and I saw they were all
5 UNPROFOR. I could not distinguish the clothes. After all, I had
6 never seen very many of them until that time. So I passed by this
7 human wall of UNPROFOR, and another man in a camouflage uniform of
8 UNPROFOR said: "Goran, hey, you old man", and then I realised it was
9 not an UNPROFOR man but a Serb soldier. So he took me aside to the
10 left, towards the side of the road and there were a few more people
11 standing, and they kept separating. When they separated us some 20
12 of us or so, they said, "Well, here, you go to a house so that you
13 don't stand on the road", and somebody asked: "Why are you separating
14 us?" The answer was: "Well, don't ask. You are being ordered and do
15 as you are told."
16 So we entered a house, the ground floor of the house. The
17 house was still brick, I mean it was not completed. We were there.
18 Then they brought another group there. So, there were Serb soldiers
19 around us, on guard around us. Then a Serb soldier said: "Do you
20 know Ratko Mladic?" Some said they did know him. He said: "Who
21 doesn't him will have an opportunity to meet him now." After a short
22 while, and from the same direction that we approached that house, an
23 officer appeared in our sight and he was escorted by another three or
24 four soldiers. They came to the entrance door there at the ground
25 floor. He said, "Good day to you neighbours", and some answered and
1 said, "Good day to you." He asked: "Do you know whom I am?" Some
2 were silent and some said: "Yes, we do." He said: "I am a General of
3 the Serb Army, Ratko Mladic. Those who do not know me, now have an
4 opportunity to see me." Then he said: "See what happened, what
5 befell your Srebrenica. Even the NATO pact cannot save you. All
6 their bombing of our forces was in vein. They can do nothing to us.
7 Your Srebrenica fell today. Tomorrow Zepa will fall. Gorazde is
8 going to fall the next day and then Bihac's turn is next", and so on.
9 "Why have you followed Alija Izetbegovic? Why didn't follow Fikret
10 Abdic?" Then I said: "I am not interested. I could not care less
11 about Fikret Abdic or Alija Izetbegovic. What we do care about is
12 why are you separating us from our families. Why can't we go with
13 our families when we are all elderly and where we are not able-bodied
14 men?" He said: "I need to separate some 180 of you because there are
15 so many of our Serbs in Tuzla and some 180 of them are kept captive
16 in Tuzla and then we shall exchange you." So he left us and went
17 back the same way to the pavement.
18 They continued separating group by group. Since not all men
19 could fit into the house, they were standing in front of the house.
20 Towards dusk those who were sitting in front of the house were then
21 ordered to stand up and start moving in front of all soldiers. So
22 they got up and moved. When they left we were then also ordered,
23 "Come out of the house and follow them."
24 So I came out and every 10 metres there was a Serb soldier
25 with an automatic rifle aiming at us. He was shouting, "Quicker,
1 quicker, faster, faster", that is all they were saying. So we
2 descended towards the top of the UNPROFOR compound. There were two
3 buses there on the road. In front of the buses there was a red
4 vehicle, and the last bus in the road was full of people. So we
5 boarded the first bus. Next to the first business Ratko Mladic was
6 standing together with those three or four men, soldiers, who
7 accompanying him. So when we all boarded the bus he came closer to
8 the door of that bus and told the driver: "Close the door, follow the
9 red car and off you go." So the driver closed the door of the bus
10 and the red vehicle started towards Bratunac.
11 The bus set off after the red vehicle and that is how we
12 arrived in Bratunac to a hangar. That is where the bus stopped and
13 there we were met by some 10 or 15 Serb soldiers. The door opened
14 and they ordered us to get off and enter the hangar. We got off,
15 entered, sat down and after a little while we heard another vehicle
16 arriving, another group arrives. All the same people from Potocarska
17 Rijeka were those who came. So until this hangar was filled to
18 capacity and those Serb soldiers were at the door, they introduced
19 themselves. They said where they are from and said some were from
20 Serbian, from Valjevo, from Krupa, from Sabac, from Loznica. Whether
21 they were or not I could not say, but at least that is how they
22 introduced themselves to us. Other were villagers from Bratunac.
23 So they enquired after their neighbours, Muslims who were
24 there: "Well, how come that you are here? Well, are you all right?
25 Where is your father? Where is your mother? Where are your
1 brothers?" So I could so that they knew each other. So this Muslim
2 asked them: "How are your people? Are they all right?" So they were
3 engaging in these kinds of conversations. Now when this warehouse
4 was full somebody on the outside said: "Twelve of you have to go
5 tonight. Well, you have been ordered. Is that clear?" He said it in
6 a very harsh voice and they all in unison said, "Yes, sir". Then the
7 silence fell and then with a torch lamp one came and went around us
8 and he asked: "Who is from Glogova?" There were a couple of people.
9 Then he would go again with his torch lamp around and he would pick
10 up one of them and would say, "You whom I have just lit with this
11 battery, come out then." Then he would stand up and come out. As he
12 would come out he would turn to the left from where we had come.
13 From there one could hear some blunt instruments how he was beaten.
14 Then he would start moaning, we could hear that, and then silence
15 would fall again. Then he could come with the torch lamp again and
16 find, would light another and take him out and again we would hear
17 blows and we could hear moans. When it would stop, then the next one
18 would come. Some would be beaten and he would be brought in still
19 alive, brought by two men supporting him under his arm pits. He
20 would bring him to the door and then one would shove him in the back
21 and throw him at us. This person was beaten but still alive, so he
22 would be drawn or pulled to a corner. That is what they did
23 throughout the night. Sometimes they would make a short break and
24 would then go on.
25 So it went on until the morning. When the day broke out
1 somebody said: "We don't have to keep them any longer, they're all
2 dead." Then somebody said: "Well, if they are already dead, then
3 take them out." So five of them are dead, some from beatings. So
4 five dead people were then drawn, pulled out from that warehouse.
5 Then they stopped killing and made a break.
6 Then we heard some vehicles, some freight vehicles, some heavy
7 vehicles approach the hangar. Then a man came and said: "I need some
8 10 able men to do something for us." Nobody volunteered. He was
9 asking for volunteers but nobody volunteered. Then he picked out 10
10 men. He said, "You, you, you, you, you, come out." Then went out.
11 Everybody was silent for a while. All was quiet and then we heard
12 those vehicles starting their engines once again and leaving. Those
13 10 did not return.
14 Then a tallish with black hair and said: "Let's see your
15 belongings. What have you got? Come up with them here." So some
16 people asked: "What do you want us to take off?" They said: "All
17 that you've got, bags, papers, watches", and so on and so forth. So
18 we all turned them over. Then he asked for money. He said: "Money,
19 all the money." "What money?" He said: "All kinds of money, but
20 basically marks." So what we had we began passing them from hand to
21 hand, including German marks. When he collected all that he left.
22 Then they started bringing water because we had asked for
23 water. Then they started bringing water to us to drink. We asked
24 also to go to the loo and we also were permitted to go to the loo.
25 But they told us: "Listen, when you come out of this door you turn to
1 the right, and there is a room and that's where you go, but coming
2 out you have also to look to the right. If anyone is to look
3 leftward he will never enter the hangar alive again. When you come
4 back from the loo then you have to look leftward." That is how they
5 started going out. I also went out around 9 o'clock perhaps, and
6 they had already started taking people out and killing them again. I
7 could hear some screaming. When we went to the WC to the right and
8 then to the left they said "toilet" and that is where we went. So as
9 I came out I looked to the side taking out, and I saw three or four
10 men standing side by side, the one in front holding an automatic
11 rifle and ordered: "Come to me, come to me." This man who was
12 between those two, as he was coming up a man with an iron rod hit him
13 on the head. So he fell and from the right-hand side another one hit
14 them with an axe on the back. This had a sharp edge and the axe hit
15 him and was there and he was down as a worm squirming. I turned my
16 head to the left then and they went on doing that until about 4
18 Then vehicles were heard, some heavy vehicles, arriving and
19 then they again picked out 10 to go to do something for them. Again
20 10 went out. It was very quiet. Then later on again those vehicles
21 left from that hangar.
22 Then Ratko Mladic appeared at the door and we all started:
23 "Why do you keep us here? Why do you kill us here? Why don't you
24 take us away?" He said: "Well, we could not arrange for the exchange
25 to carry out. If we could have organised the exchange so quickly all
1 this would not have happened. Some of you are exchanged and now you
2 are going to Kalesija for exchange. Except that one has to count you
3 all to see how many of you are there, so that I can provide the
4 transport for all of you." One of us stood up and counted us all and
5 told him: "We are 296 of us here." He said: "Now I will provide
6 transport for all of you." He left. Then we could again hear
7 vehicles arriving there. They were arriving and then one said:
8 "Well, come now, one by one the buses are here, so you are leaving."
9 So we stood up and went out of the hangar. As we were coming out of
10 the hangar we could see that the concrete was wet, that it was
11 washed. When I came out I saw six buses standing. So, I boarded the
12 bus of Centrotrans from Sarajevo. So we all boarded buses. There
13 there was also one Serb soldier in every bus standing by the driver.
14 The door closed and Ratko Mladic appeared on the left-hand side.
15 Some 10 to 15 Serb soldiers were also gathered round him, and he was
16 talking to them. He was telling them something but I could not hear
17 what he was saying to them because we were closed in that bus. So he
18 gave them some orders and then he left and we were still there in
19 those buses. We asked the driver: "What are we waiting for? Why
20 aren't we on our way?" He said: "I don't know. I was simply given
21 the orders to come here and where we are going or whatever, I don't
23 So we waited until it was dark. When the darkness fell the
24 buses set off towards Serbia towards the Drina. We reached the bridge
25 across the Drina, but we did not cross it. We were moving through
1 Bosnia along the left bank of the Drina. We arrived at Drinjaca and
2 there we were for about two hours in Drinjaca and then we continued
3 towards Zvornik. We passed through Zvornik and when we arrived in
4 Karaka near that aluminium plant or alumina plant we turned to the
5 left. For how long I cannot say exactly. We arrived at a school, a
6 gym, and there the buses stopped. There we were met by some 15 Serb
7 soldiers, and we were ordered off the buses. We did and entered the
8 hall. It was empty. There was no one there. It was a basketball
9 hall. It was a hall where basketball could be played.
10 We stayed there. Then later vehicles could be heard again and
11 a group came in, another group of people. When it dawned ----
12 MR. OSTBERG: Please, sir. Maybe this is a new night coming in and the
13 next day things happen again. I think this would be, your Honours, a
14 proper moment to give the witness a break and we might continue to
15 listen to his story tomorrow morning. Thank you so far.
16 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Yes, I think on behalf of my colleagues I could
17 agree with you. So we can have a break now. The hearing is adjourned
18 and we will start tomorrow at 10 o'clock.
19 (5.55 p.m.)
20 (The court adjourned until the following day)