1 Tuesday, 2 April 2002
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 9.05 a.m.
5 JUDGE LIU: Call the case, please.
6 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning, Your Honours. This is case number
7 IT-98-34-T, the Prosecutor versus Naletilic and Martinovic.
8 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Scott.
9 MR. SCOTT: Good morning, Your Honours. I thought we should bring
10 something to the Chamber's attention. Apparently there's been some
11 misunderstanding. We were informed on walking into the Chamber this
12 morning that the Defence intends to call Mr. - it's a public witness, I
13 think - Mr. Praljak as the next witness, which was not at all our
14 understanding or intention. It's our understanding that the next witness
15 would be the same order as was listed in their previous order, and we are
16 not prepared to go forward with Mr. Praljak at this time.
17 There was -- the issue last week was whether a certain document
18 could be provided, could be unsealed, and it would depend -- also a factor
19 was whether we would indeed be able to finish the first witness last
20 week. Due to the Chamber's accommodations on Thursday afternoon, we were
21 able to finish that witness on Thursday afternoon. We also were able to
22 have the document -- previously sealed document unsealed. And my staff
23 and I have gone forward since Thursday, preparing for the
24 cross-examination of the second listed witness and are completely
25 surprised this morning that, as the Defence has indicated, they will call
1 Mr. Praljak instead. So we're not prepared to receive his evidence at
2 this time.
3 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Meek.
4 MR. MEEK: Mr. President, Your Honours, I believe that it was last
5 Wednesday when Your Honour requested the Defence counsel if we could have
6 the second witness - due to the fact that the Prosecutor had filed a
7 notice or a request with the Appeals Chamber and didn't know how long it
8 would take to get that statement of that witness - if we could have him
9 come at a later date, and we indicated to Your Honour that we could and we
10 would call the next witness next.
11 Because I think even Mr. Stringer indicated with the motion that
12 he had filed with the Appeals Chamber, it was unclear as to when they
13 would rule on that or when they would release that statement, and they did
14 not want to cross-examine the second witness without it. So we went
15 forward and called off that second witness from your ruling on Wednesday,
16 last Wednesday, to finish the witness, first witness, on Thursday. We
17 believe, Your Honour, that -- we understood what your question to
18 Mr. Krsnik was, and that is that the second witness be called out of order
19 so that the Prosecution would have the opportunity to have the statement
20 in front of it for cross-examination.
21 Your Honour, this witness, we cannot file anything before 9.00
22 a.m. because the Registrar does not open until 9.00. Last fall, when the
23 trial started at 9.30, we could often make filings between 9.00 and 9.25,
24 before we went to court. We have a notice that we intend to file today at
25 the earliest possible time, simply notifying the Prosecution and this
1 Honourable Trial Chamber that we are requesting additional time for
2 Mr. Praljak.
3 We had estimated 3.5 hours on direct examination. After our
4 history with our first witness, we believe that we may have guesstimated
5 that time wrong, so we're notifying both the Trial Chamber and the
6 Prosecution that for Mr. Praljak we would ask for five hours direct
7 examination. We believe it's better to err on the side of telling the
8 Trial Chamber more time than less time. Therefore, we believe that the
9 Prosecution would not be in the position to cross-examine this witness
10 until sometime tomorrow in any event. We believe there is no way we can
11 finish this witness on direct examination today, even if the testimony
12 only goes 3.75 hours or four hours, and we believe it might come closer to
14 Thirdly, Your Honours, we have complied this morning with your
15 ruling from last Wednesday, the 27th, wherein you requested and ordered
16 that the Defence deliver to the Prosecution pursuant to Rule 67(A)(ii)(a),
17 the information about any witnesses who might testify in regards to an
18 alibi defence. Your Honours, we believe -- and I delivered that letter to
19 Mr. Scott this morning. Actually, Mr. Stringer took it but I notified
20 Mr. Scott that it was there. I know they have not had a chance to look at
22 THE INTERPRETER: Could counsel please slow down for the
23 interpreters. Thank you.
24 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Meek, would you please slow down for the
25 sake of the interpretation.
1 MR. MEEK: Thank you.
2 Due to the ruling that you made, we went ahead and furnished the
3 witness's name, whereabouts, what his testimony would be, and we also set
4 out in that letter why we verily believe that, in fact, this is not an
5 alibi witness.
6 I don't know how to -- we have, because of the time limits
7 involved and Rule 73(D)(i) on an interlocutory appeal, we only -- we
8 believe we have only until the day is out to file that appeal on the
9 ruling that was made pursuant to Rule 67. We obviously do not want to
10 file an appeal if the matter can be rectified otherwise. Rule 73 does
11 allow that if a Trial Chamber puts its ruling into writing and indicates
12 it will give a written decision, then any time limit would be the seven
13 days from the filing of the written decision. Again, we have -- and I
14 would be happy to provide the Chamber with a copy of the letter that we
15 sent the Prosecutor where we outlined why we believe there was confusion
16 and there is no alibi witnesses, and we believe that the ruling will
17 hamper and impede a fair procedure and trial for the accused should it
19 But in any event, Your Honours, I just wanted to bring that to
20 your attention. We are in your hands. We can deliver a copy of that
21 letter to you. But our time is running and we wanted to notify you of the
22 fact that we may have misguessed on the amount of time necessary for this
23 witness. We will try to sharpen our skills in that fashion. And, again,
24 as far as my understanding, Mr. President, this discussion Wednesday was
25 to have the second witness called off so the Prosecution could obtain the
1 copy of his former filed statement in other case with the Appeals Chamber,
2 so I don't know why there is any confusion. Thank you very much.
3 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Scott?
4 MR. SCOTT: Well, Your Honour, in looking -- in reflecting on the
5 record and going back to the transcript, I think the word counsel just
6 used is the correct word; there was discussion. There was never a
7 ruling. The Chamber never indicated that, in fact, would be the
8 schedule. There was open discussion about whether some possible
9 alternatives might be pursued at that time. There was no indication that,
10 in fact, that would be the course followed, and when no such ruling or
11 further clarification was made by the end of the day on Thursday again, I
12 and my staff spent most of the weekend not on holiday but working and
13 working to prepare to meet the second listed witness.
14 So we are not prepared to receive Mr. Praljak's -- we are not
15 prepared to cross-examine Mr. Praljak. I suppose if they would like to
16 call him and take his direct now, his cross-examination can be postponed
17 if they have no other witness here today. We are not prepared, under any
18 scenario -- it would be unfair to the Prosecution, unfair to the interests
19 we represent, to the international community and to the victims in this
20 case if we are required to prepare for cross-examination of a witness that
21 we did not understand would be called today.
22 Further, in terms of documents, Your Honours, I wish to make it
23 further clear to Your Honour that we have not been provided -- apart from
24 our own exhibits -- I have been provided this morning a letter listing 15
25 Prosecution numbered exhibits, which obviously we have. However, the
1 letter goes on to say, "There will be other documents of the Defence, not
2 yet translated, which will be identified through Praljak as well as
3 tendering of the same." We have not received a listing of those
4 documents. We have not received the documents themselves. We have not
5 received any translations. We object to any of those documents coming
6 into evidence by this Chamber's rulings, and if that's not clear, then we
7 ask again for the Chamber to clarify its rulings on the exhibits because
8 we have not been provided any exhibits for this witness except for the
9 Prosecution's own exhibits, either translated or not.
10 So we -- in addition to our objections to proceed with Mr. Praljak
11 at this time on the basis of the schedule and the order of witnesses, we
12 also object to the cross -- to the examination of Mr. Praljak at this time
13 because the exhibits have not been properly provided to the Prosecution.
14 Thank you.
15 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Krsnik? How about those documents and
16 exhibits? We understand that before the direct examinations, you have to
17 furnish those documents you are going to use in your direct examination,
18 which is quite different from the cross-examination. Yes, Mr. Krsnik?
19 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] To start off with, good morning, Your
20 Honours. And let me start off by saying that I don't know why this
21 discussion is being held because I personally - and we can look at the
22 transcript, turn the transcript back - I told the Court that Witness 3
23 would take the place of Witness 2, precisely so that the indictment --
24 that the Prosecution can prepare for Witness 2.
25 And my colleagues asked for some unsealing of documents. I said
1 that we will show full understanding. We were in similar situations and
2 much worse situations than my colleague, so this was clearly stated on
3 Thursday. I stated it in this very courtroom, and I don't understand why
4 the Prosecution is protesting in this way.
5 As far as the document is concerned, Your Honours, the Defence
6 cannot be at a disadvantage. The documents have not been translated. We
7 have invested superhuman efforts and translated the tapes ourselves into
8 the Croatian language, into literary Croatian. We have supplied the
9 translators in their booths with copies of those texts, and if they have
10 the text before them, they will be able to follow the tapes. The
11 documents have not, however, been translated. We wanted to pinpoint and
12 identify those documents so that the Trial Chamber should know which
13 documents they are and read them out. It's not a long list and the
14 interpreters will help us, but unless that is done, we will have to
15 postpone the proceedings.
16 It is not your fault, it is not our fault, and it is not the
17 Prosecution's fault, we all know that, but we have not received translated
18 copies of the documents that we tendered last time, that we sent in for
19 translation last year, in September, actually, of last year. But it is
20 nobody's fault, and I know that nobody can be blamed. The translation
21 unit and service has so much work to do and we understand that, but this
22 cannot be a disadvantage for us. We cannot pay the price of that because
23 those documents have not been translated. And now, if you curtail the
24 right of the Defence to use them, that would be unfair. They receive a
25 number, they have been sent to the translation service, and once they are
1 translated provisionally, we will be able to go forward. And as we know,
2 the witness isn't here every day. He's here today and then he'll leave,
3 and the documents are linked to this witness. We have to take them
4 together, witness and documents.
5 And if the case is as it stands, we will have to ask for a
6 postponement for the Defence to be fully prepared and then proceed
7 according to the Rules or -- and the Prosecution is well aware of this.
8 All the documents that we were able to furnish them with, we have done so
9 up until today. And some documents that were in Croatian -- and my
10 learned colleagues said that they could have them translated themselves.
11 We gave them those documents too.
12 So as I say, Your Honours, it's nobody's mistake. It's nobody's
13 fault that we worked until 7.00 on Thursday, 7.00 p.m. on Thursday. You
14 know that, in the meantime, nobody worked, and I should like to ask the
15 Trial Chamber to check this out, but I know I'm not wrong because those
16 are the words I uttered in this courtroom. I said that we would be
17 replacing Witness 3 with Witness 2, my colleagues are informing me, and
18 they have found it in the transcript. It is page -- in the record, it is
19 page 8992, line 13-20. And it says in that part of the transcript -- that
20 is to say, when I said what I said, you, Your Honours, said that we should
21 bring in the next witness.
22 JUDGE LIU: Well, there are several questions I would like to ask
23 you, Mr. Krsnik. How many documents are you going to use through this
25 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honour, do you mean the
1 documents that we haven't handed over yet? There are 14 -- rather, 15 of
2 these, and in the letter to the Prosecution, we describe which those
3 documents are. They are, for the most part, very short documents,
4 comprising of just a few sentences, and 90 per cent of them relate to
5 documents of the Defence Ministry of the Republic of Croatia, which
6 describe how many weapons were given to the BH army. I think that
7 actually all the documents deal with that subject: the quantity, the date,
8 and to whom these military materiel and equipment for the
9 Bosnia-Herzegovina army were handed over to. We selected several examples
10 from 1992 right until April 1993. Those are the documents. And not a
11 single document, Your Honours, is longer than four sentences, with a list
12 of the materiel and equipment which is enumerated in the form of lists.
13 For example -- let me give you an example. The Defence Ministry
14 of Republic of Croatia order for issuing materiel for the needs of the
15 central rear base of Grude, to be placed at the disposal of the BiH army,
16 Foca, Gorazde. And then it goes on to enumerate: ammunition, 7.62 times
17 39, et cetera, 13 million pieces, et cetera, 10, and so on. So there are
18 14 of those short documents.
19 JUDGE LIU: Did you furnish those documents without translation to
20 the Prosecution?
21 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour, and to the
22 interpretation booths and the Prosecution. We did that today. Yes,
23 today, I'm told.
24 JUDGE LIU: Is the second witness available here in The Hague?
25 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] I beg your pardon. I do apologise,
1 Your Honours. My colleague has just told me -- I have my headsets on.
2 I'm listening to you, I'm listening to this, but my colleague informs
3 me --
4 [Defence counsel confer]
5 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Actually, there's been a
6 misunderstanding. My colleague gave the documents to the interpreters in
7 the booths for interpretation purposes, but Mr. Meek was to have provided
8 the Prosecution with the documents. He will do so. There was a
9 misunderstanding. But yes, the next witness is ready and waiting to come
10 in. Witness 2 has left, Your Honour. He left on Thursday, Witness 2. He
11 was the protected witness under a pseudonym. I can't give you his name.
12 He was to have been Witness 2 when we changed places. So we have Witness
13 3 here waiting today.
14 [Trial Chamber confers]
15 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Krsnik.
16 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Just one more brief -- thank you,
17 Your Honour. I should just like to inform the Court and my colleagues
18 that Witness 4 has been taken ill, we have been informed. He was in
19 hospital. So there will be another change in the order. Witness 5 will
20 take the place of Witness 4, and he's on his way here. And unless that
21 witness recovers, then Witness 6 will take Witness 5's place, and then
22 Witness 4 will take the place of Witness 6.
23 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Krsnik, I have to say that the Defence case
24 is not well organised in terms of the documents and the witness list. I
25 hope you could file us with a new order of the list of the witnesses so
1 that we could know who will be the next and what's the change concerning
2 all those witnesses. That's the first thing I want to say to you.
3 Secondly, since we don't have much time to lose - as you
4 understand, we only have four days this week - we will continue with the
5 Witness 3 this morning and we'll give some time to the Prosecution for
6 their cross-examination at a later stage, as we did in the Prosecution's
7 case sometimes.
8 Thirdly, I hope you could furnish the documents, even without
9 translation, to the Prosecution side, and I will instruct the registrar to
10 make those documents translated as soon as possible so that to guarantee
11 the proceedings going smoothly.
12 Fourthly, as for the alibi witnesses, Mr. Meek, I hope you could
13 submit us with the letters you sent to the Prosecution, as well as the
14 summaries of the testimony of that witness so that we could make a
15 decision whether he's a witness of alibi or not.
16 MR. MEEK: Mr. President, I will do that after the first break.
17 Also --
18 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please, Counsel.
19 MR. MEEK: Excuse me. Mr. President, I will do that at the first
20 break. And what happened with the documents, they're in the translation
21 booth. They got left in the translation booth, the copy for the
22 Prosecutor, accidentally. If the usher could go to the translation booth
23 and retrieve those, they can be turned over. Sorry.
24 JUDGE LIU: Lastly, Mr. Krsnik, we'll conduct our trial according
25 to the time limit you submitted us according to 65 ter submissions. That
1 is, this witness will take three and a half hours for the direct
2 examination, not five hours. It is so decided.
3 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. But may I
4 just say that we apologise you might have gained that impression. The
5 Defence is well organised with respect to the witnesses, and we did
6 prepare everything following your instructions, and we knew all this five
7 days ago. It is just that Witness 2 and 3 were changed, and the
8 Prosecution insisted on that and we adapted ourselves. And now the fact
9 that we learnt about this next witness being taken ill, we have just
10 learnt about that. But we will try and keep up the tempo, and I do
11 apologise for having to say what I just said. I think that we did follow
12 your guidelines and orders and the requests made by the Prosecution.
13 Because Witness 2 was ready. He was here, present here, but not to lose
14 time, he returned. I'm referring to Witness 2.
15 JUDGE LIU: Well, we have made decisions already, Mr. Krsnik. So
16 you have to submit a new list of order of witnesses.
17 Usher, would you please call in the witness, please.
18 [The witness entered court]
19 JUDGE LIU: Good morning, Witness. Can you hear me?
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, I can.
21 JUDGE LIU: Good morning, Witness. Would you please make the
22 solemn declaration.
23 WITNESS: SLOBODAN PRALJAK
24 [Witness answered through interpreter]
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
1 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
2 JUDGE LIU: Thank you very much. You may sit down, please.
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
4 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Krsnik.
5 Examined by Mr. Krsnik:
6 Q. [Interpretation] Good morning, Witness.
7 A. Good morning, Mr. Krsnik.
8 Q. Witness, I will now give you just some short instructions. We
9 speak the same language so I'd like to ask you to wait for my -- until the
10 end of my question, and then answer, because of the interpreters, so that
11 they could do their job properly. And so let us start, but just let us
12 not forget that we need to break so as to facilitate the interpreters'
13 work. Thank you.
14 A. Thank you.
15 Q. Mr. Praljak, will you tell this Court, in a very few words, tell
16 us who you are, what you are, what was your education, what did you do
17 until 1990, what did you do until then, what did you do after that? Where
18 were you, that is, which posts did you hold?
19 A. My name is Slobodan Praljak. I went to the secondary school at
20 Siroki Brijeg for six years, and the last two years of my secondary school
21 I did in Mostar.
22 When I arrived in Zagreb, I enrolled in the electrical engineering
23 faculty, and after eight terms, after eight semestral terms and my thesis,
24 I graduated from it cum laude. And strangely enough, in parallel with the
25 electrical engineering, I also studied philosophy and sociology, and I
1 read them, and that was the condition then, so that I could then enroll
2 the Academy for Theatre and Film Direction in Zagreb.
3 So I graduated in philosophy -- from philosophy and sociology, and
4 my thesis were the issues of ethics and freedom in Marxian philosophy.
5 And following that, in 1972, I also graduated from the Academy for
6 Dramatic Film and Theatre Arts in Zagreb.
7 After that, I was -- I worked as a film, theatre and television
8 director. In 1988 or 1999 [as translated], I joined the democratic
9 developments in Croatia on the side of those Croats who wanted to put an
10 end to Yugoslavia, such as it was, who wanted an autonomous Croatian state
11 and who wanted to live in democracy.
12 After -- following the attack of the Yugoslav People's Army and
13 Chetniks from Serbia, and after the insurgence of Serbs in Croatia, I quit
14 my political commitment, and in early September, 1991, as a volunteer, I
15 went to Sunja, which is a small place near Sisak.
16 Q. You mean in the Republic of Croatia, is it?
17 A. In the Republic of Croatia. Some 15 days later, I took over the
18 command of the forces in the area, and that is where I stayed until March,
20 Q. Very well, Mr. Praljak. I think it will be better, because our
21 time is very limited, perhaps it will be better for me to ask you
22 questions and steer you through. So let me ask you, when did you go to
23 Bosnia-Herzegovina? Were you an officer in the Croatian army at the time?
24 A. I went to Bosnia-Herzegovina around the 20th March, 1992, and I --
25 as an officer of the Croatian army.
1 Q. And was it your decision to leave?
2 A. Yes, it was my decision.
3 Q. Mr. Praljak, tell us -- you didn't tell us where you were born.
4 Perhaps you forgot that. Do you have any relatives, any siblings, in
5 Bosnia-Herzegovina? If you do, where is it?
6 A. I was born in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Capljina, and until the age
7 of 18, I lived in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In Bosnia-Herzegovina at the time,
8 my parents still lived in Mostar. My sister and her husband and two
9 children were living in Sarajevo and teaching at the university, and I had
10 also some other relations in that area.
11 Q. Can you be more specific? Can you tell us why was it that you
12 left in March, not in some other -- not at some other time? Did something
13 important happen which prompted you to do that? And did you go of your
14 own will or was it an order?
15 A. Well, the war in Croatia was not over but it had calmed down, and
16 the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina was just starting. My knowledge and the
17 political -- of the political situation and the gist of the Yugoslav
18 People's Army and the Serb aggression made it quite clear to me that the
19 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina would be more difficult and bloodier than in
20 Croatia and that the weapons which had been moved from Slovenia and
21 Croatia with, among other things, the help of the international community
22 which had requested that the Yugoslav People's Army pull out its weapons
23 to Bosnia-Herzegovina --
24 Q. Mr. Praljak, will you please slow down.
25 A. Yes, I will. So I'm still speaking about the international
1 community. At that time, it was still unable to understand the principal
2 reason of the war in the former Yugoslavia and therefore aware of two
3 dangers, the breakthrough of the Serb forces -- of the Serb forces from
4 Bosnia-Herzegovina, via Kupres and Livno to Split, and through the Neretva
5 Valley to Ploce, and realising that it would completely disable the
6 defence of the Republic of Croatia and seal the fate of the Croat people
7 in Bosnia-Herzegovina. So my reasons of ethical nature, my duties and
8 rights, the duties and rights of every man of integrity and every patriot,
9 made me, for all those reasons, volunteer to go to Bosnia-Herzegovina and
10 try to help with the organisation of the defence in the same manner in
11 which I had done that in Croatia.
12 Q. Did you ever get an order, an official order, from the commanders
13 of the Croatian army, the parliament of the Republic of Croatia, the
14 Minister of Defence of the Republic of Croatia, that you or somebody else
15 should go there to Bosnia-Herzegovina?
16 A. In line with my declaration that I will speak the truth before
17 this Court, I affirm that neither I nor anyone else of whom I know,
18 received -- nor in line with the decisions of the diet of the Republic of
19 Croatia and the President of the state of the Republic of Croatia, who was
20 -- who is at the same time the supreme commander, such an order was not
21 issued because the order -- the decision was that the forces of the
22 Republic of Croatia, that is, the armed forces of the Republic of Croatia,
23 and under -- pursuant to the constitution of the Republic of Croatia,
24 these armed forces could not enter the territory of another state if --
25 unless a military pact had been concluded with such a state.
1 Counsel, on two occasions during the war this was violated, and if
2 you ask me when, then I will answer that.
3 Q. Yes, we shall come to that later on, because I'm trying to
4 restrict my questions because the time is limited. And now very briefly,
5 Mr. Praljak, tell me, which events preceded -- in Bosnia-Herzegovina,
6 which preceding events in Bosnia-Herzegovina confirmed the decision? Are
7 you aware of the -- do you know what the country was -- what were the
8 situation in Polog? Did it exist as a state, like Bosnia-Herzegovina --
9 like Slovenia, Republic of Croatia? Could you very briefly tell us what
10 was the situation? That is, what you know of your own knowledge.
11 A. Well, I shall try to be very brief, although disintegration of
12 states unfortunately necessitates analysis and these are measured by
13 volumes and volumes of books, tomes of books filling up entire libraries.
14 Yugoslavia disintegrated because it lost its raison d'etre. In Slovenia,
15 the war which looked like a media crime, manoeuvre of a brigade, was over
16 in a few days' time. The Serbs believed that with the disintegration of
17 Yugoslavia, the internal boundaries between republics would no longer
18 apply so that they adhered to their myth which was in force with them for
19 over 150 years, since their famous programmatic declaration, the so-called
20 Garasanin Project. And because of that, they thought that with the
21 disintegration of Yugoslavia, they were entitled to a state whose borders
22 they would conquer by military force.
23 As regards Croatia, those borders were such that Croatia would be
24 reduced to larger Zagreb territory, Karlobag, Virovitica.
25 As for Bosnia-Herzegovina, in a series of documents which have
1 become accessible today but of which we were unaware then, the Serbs
2 believed, and all their political steps within their people in
3 Bosnia-Herzegovina went in that direction.
4 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Scott?
5 MR. SCOTT: Mr. President, in the last few minutes, the witness
6 has said several times -- talking about what the Serbs believed. No
7 foundation has been shown for how this witness knows what the Serbs quote,
8 "believed." I also object that this sounds an awful lot like expert
9 opinion testimony. This witness has not been tendered as an expert. The
10 Prosecution has not been provided with an expert report, as provided by
11 the Rules, 21 days before the witness so testifies, and we would object to
12 any evidence in the nature of expert opinion being given by this witness
13 and also again object to the basis, the foundation, for his testimony,
14 about what the Serbs believed.
15 JUDGE LIU: Yes. Yes, Mr. Krsnik?
16 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, Your Honours, Your
17 Honours, the witness is testifying about his first-hand knowledge. I know
18 that perhaps it is difficult to understand for my learned friend because
19 he did not live with us at that time in the former Yugoslavia. What
20 Mr. Praljak is telling us now are not expert views. These are views that
21 we learnt about from elementary school to the university, and we lived in
22 that system, and everybody who lived there and who went through that can
23 testify about it. He is presenting his views. He is testifying about
24 what he went through. He is not presenting any expert views. He is
25 testifying about his own experience.
1 JUDGE LIU: Well, Witness, what we want to hear is what you saw,
2 what you did. That is the first-hand knowledge of the event. It is quite
3 acceptable if you say what your knowledge is. But you should not quote
4 what the others said or what the others believe.
5 Yes, Mr. Krsnik, you may continue.
6 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation]
7 Q. Witness, do you have any personal knowledge about what happened in
8 Polog and, after that, what happened in the village of Ravno, in
9 Dubrovnik, in Sibenik, Vukovar? Can you tell the Court that? In the
10 light of this, what is your personal knowledge about these things? Let us
11 start first with Ravno -- no. Let us talk about Bosnia-Herzegovina. What
12 was going on in Bosnia-Herzegovina?
13 A. Please, I hope you will understand my wish to not go beyond
14 facts. These are statements of Borislav Jovic, Garasanin, and these are
15 all facts. But I will come back to Polog. What I am testifying about are
16 Serbian units in the territory of the Republic of Croatia against whom I
17 fought. What I testify about is the massacre of the wounded in Vukovar,
18 the slaughter of the civilian population, the attacks on Zadar and
19 Sibenik, shelling of Osijek, destruction of Dubrovnik, complete
20 destruction of Dubrovnik.
21 In Bosnia-Herzegovina, it started in 1991, when the regularly
22 invited reservists of Montenegrin and Serb ethnicity in the territory of
23 Bosnia-Herzegovina were legally [as interpreted] invited and the attack on
24 the village of Ravno, which was razed to the ground and its population
25 slain. On the border between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, there is a
1 village of Uniste, which suffered the same fate, even before the village
2 of Ravno. The Serbian tanks of the Yugoslav People's Army in the village
3 of Polog, within reach of Siroki Brijeg, the tank-armoured brigade wishes
4 to arrive in Kupres so that from there, through Livno, they could cut off
5 Split. Bosnia-Herzegovina, as a state, still in Yugoslavia at the time,
6 even though multiparty parliamentary elections had already been held, does
7 not have any power to prevent such plans of the attack this time against
8 the population in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
9 We did not see -- at least, I did not see any possible sign,
10 either in the world or within the country, which at that time could or
11 wanted to stop that war, which meant that I felt, both as a man and as a
12 member of a people, and as a man of integrity, I felt it was my duty to go
13 down there and place myself in the service of the defence. At that time,
14 the tanks in Polog were stopped by the unarmed people, which next to those
15 tanks sang songs, attesting to their desire for all this to be over, to be
16 finished, without shedding blood, without war.
17 Q. Was it then shown? Was it recorded and shown across Yugoslavia
18 how these events developed in Polog?
19 A. Yes. There are television and film records of all that, they were
20 publicly broadcast, and many people have them in their personal databases.
21 Q. We do not have time to see this tape, because we must rush forward
22 because of the limits of time imposed on us by the Court.
23 Tell me, Witness: What about the state institutions at that
24 time? And I'm referring to late 1991 and early 1992, before you went
25 there. What about the state institutions in Bosnia-Herzegovina at the
2 A. I --
3 Q. I apologise. Of course, after you got there.
4 A. I volunteered to go there as the commander of the zone operations
5 around Mostar on the 10th of April, 1992.
6 Q. What was it like?
7 A. Please hear what I have to say about this. None of the things
8 that modern society understands a state or a civilised form of the
9 existence of a society was not in existence there [as interpreted]. The
10 attack on Sarajevo put an end to the state of Bosnia-Herzegovina as a
11 regulated form of state entity, which means no schools, no banks, no post
12 offices, no shops, no police, no army, no supplies, no electricity, no
13 water supply, no communication between cities and towns. It is zero
14 regulation of a society. No sovereignty, no authority, no form of order
15 was in existence there at the time.
16 Q. And what did the people do? How did they organise for this
18 A. People began to rally of their own will, and the zero degree of
19 organisation started. That is, a certain number of people volunteered to
20 undertake certain responsibilities to organise both formations and some
21 form of organised life in the rear of the front lines, which at that time
22 were largely set up against the Serbs. In the area in which I was, the
23 primary task was to stop the Serb strategic breakthrough towards Ploce in
24 Croatia, through the Neretva Valley, and from Kupres, through Livno,
25 towards Split.
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 Q. Mr. Praljak, I will now show you a document.
2 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] And will the usher please help me.
3 This is document EAC-8.
4 Q. Will you please read this document and tell us if Major General
5 Ante Roso and Brigadier Miljenko Crnjac arrived there like you or in a
6 different way or following orders? Well, read the order and then tell
8 A. Do you want me to read it aloud?
9 Q. No, no, no. Read it for yourself, because Their Honours have this
11 A. So Major General Ante Roso and Brigadier Milenko Crnjac, with an
12 "A" rather than an "E," became commanders of the zones of operations
13 mentioned here, but General Janko Bobetko should not have had to write
14 about it and had no reason to do that. We, because we went there of our
15 own free will, and General Janko Bobetko did not command, did not issue
16 orders concerning our activities there. Then the logical question is why
17 did he write this?
18 Janko Bobetko at the time was the commander of the southern front,
19 of the southern theatre of operations, and in the Republic of Croatia this
20 is the area from Split and Dubrovnik, which was imperilled, like the whole
21 southern part of Croatia. And as he was of quite an advanced
22 age - because he was in World War II. He was one of the first fighters on
23 the side of the anti-fascist coalition - and in line with the patriarchal
24 ethics and world view which exists down there, he liked to be what the
25 Russians would call elders, elders to whom people -- whom people turned to
1 for advice, for counsel.
2 Q. So he was not in command, nor was he able to command any units of
3 the HVO; is that right?
4 A. That is right. Janko Bobetko did not command any units of the
5 HVO. At this point in time - I don't know the exact date - but the
6 commander was the chief of the Main Staff of the HVO, and that was General
7 Milivoj Petkovic.
8 Q. Can you tell me what the national composition of the army was that
9 was being founded with respect to the area you were in, can we call it the
10 operative zone?
11 A. The composition of the army --
12 Q. Just a moment, please, Witness. I apologise. You have the screen
13 in front of you, so when you see that the typing and the interpretation
14 has stopped, you can continue, carry on with what you were saying. That
15 is a good indication.
16 A. The composition of the army of the Croatian Defence Council
17 corresponded, with slight differences, to the ethnic composition upon
18 which the unit was formed to begin with. In the area that I was
19 commanding at that time, and that was the area from Capljina, north of
20 Mostar, to Konjic --
21 Q. May I interrupt you, Witness? Can you tell me how you commanded?
22 Did you have a rank of any kind? Did people have ranks at all? How did
23 they accept you as commander?
24 A. No, there were no ranks at that time. I have already explained to
25 the Court that it was what we called the zero organisational level of a
1 social organisation and, by the same token, army organisation. In other
2 words, what I mean is that we were accepted exclusively on the basis of
3 the sentiments and feelings that the people had towards certain people
4 whom they had known previously and come to accept as commanders, and those
5 people were -- those qualities were their ability to organise -- for
6 example, their organisational skills, the authority they wielded in their
7 presence, the certainty of their knowledge, and above all, the fact that
8 we had come from Croatia with a great deal of war experience behind us
10 Q. Tell us, please, Witness: Was it a joint defence? Were there any
11 Muslims in the HVO units at that time? How was all this organised? Were
12 you organised with them? Was that the case?
13 A. Defence at that time was wholly joint in character. The national
14 composition or ethnic composition of the battalions, because they were
15 smaller units in Mostar, roughly corresponded in full to the national
16 composition of the population in the area that a battalion was set up, and
17 this also applied to Livno, which is where General Roso was. So that
18 according to the people, the list of persons who came to take up their
19 uniforms, you can see that in the Croatian Defence Council there were
20 units which were predominantly - which means more than 50 per
21 cent - predominantly made up of Muslims, for example.
22 Q. Thank you.
23 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] May I now ask for the usher's
24 assistance to provide us with document EAC-13, please.
25 Q. Could you read it, please, first, Witness. Read it to yourself.
1 Look through it.
2 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] And I should like to ask the
3 Prosecutor to warn me if any of these documents are under seal - we did
4 look through them, but just in case, we don't want to err - and then we
5 can move into private session. We did look through all the documents, but
6 if the Prosecution should notice that some of these documents are under
7 seal, could they please let us know. Thank you.
8 Q. If you've read the document, you see the date is the 18th of June,
9 1992, to the attention of Mr. Andabah [Realtime transcript read in error
10 "Andabak."] and Mr. Jaganjac. Let me ask you first: Did this man with
11 the surname Andabah exist?
12 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Andabah with an "H," for purposes of
13 the transcript, please. Could it be reported as it says, not with a "K"
14 but with an "H," A-n-d-a-b-a-h. Thank you. Andabah, with an "H" at the
15 end. Thank you.
16 Q. A short question: Was there somebody called -- or rather, with
17 the second name Andabah?
18 A. No.
19 Q. What about Andabak, with a "K"? And if so, do you know, was that
20 one man or several?
21 A. This here refers to Brigadier Andabak, with a "K."
22 Q. So the surname is Andabak with a "K." Is that right, Witness?
23 A. Yes, that's right, with a "K." During the war, I met three people
24 called Andabak. This particular Andabak came after me, as commander of
25 the zone of responsibility that I was talking about earlier on. And he
1 was born in the area. He originated from there.
2 Zdenko Andabak, that is another Andabak, he was commander of a
3 unit of the military police, and I also met him on several occasions
4 during the war.
5 Then there was a third man with the surname Andabak. His first
6 name was Ivan, Ivan Andabak, whom I met as commander of the Convicts
8 Q. And who is Mr. Jaganjac? Tell us that, please.
9 A. Mr. Jasin Jaganjac was a Muslim, an ethnic Muslim. He was an
10 officer of the Yugoslav People's Army. At the beginning of the war in
11 Croatia, he took off his uniform and came to fight on the side of the
12 Croatian army against the aggression.
13 Q. I apologise for interrupting, but were there many officers of that
14 type who were officers of the HVO and were ethnic Muslims? And if so, did
15 they return as officers of the HV in Bosnia-Herzegovina?
16 A. Yes, there were quite a lot of people like that, somewhat fewer
17 officers than fighters. There were more Muslim fighters than officers.
18 But many of them fought in Croatia, although they had been born or lived
19 on the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The vast majority of these people
20 at the beginning of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina returned there for the
21 simple reason that they wanted to defend their home, and that was a
22 defence of their home.
23 Q. You mean their own house? Is that what you mean when you say
25 A. Yes, that's right, their own house.
1 Q. So Mr. Jaganjac was an officer of the HV, that is to say, the
2 Croatian army?
3 A. Yes, he was an officer of the Croatian army.
4 Q. Now, he was commander of the southern front, Janko Bobetko once
5 again. Could you comment on that?
6 A. Mr. Jaganjac came down there precisely at the insistence of a few
7 of us and at his own personal request to come to Mostar. He asked to come
8 to Mostar in order to prevent any kind of expansion of the conflict
9 between the Croats and Muslims in the territory, in the area, to stop a
10 conflict from flaring up. That is my answer to your first question.
11 As to your second question, let me say this: What this order
12 issued by General Bobetko refers to is something which the army was to
13 undertake after an operation in which the Croatian Defence Council freed
14 first of all the right and after that the left bank of the River Neretva,
15 in June of 1992.
16 Q. We'll come to that later on, Witness. Thank you.
17 A. And I led that operation, and thereby this document loses all
18 meaning and sense.
19 Q. Thank you for that answer. We are just dealing with general
20 questions by way of introduction and then we'll move on to the details and
21 concrete events later on.
22 Tell us, please, what your connection was and links were with the
23 Republic of Croatia at that time. Did you have any links with the
24 Republic of Croatia at all? Did Croatia help by way of weaponry or any
25 other way? Could you tell us a little bit about that, the relationship
2 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] And I do apologise, Your Honour, but
3 just looking at the clock, I don't know whether you wish to take a break,
4 Your Honours. Is this an opportune moment or have you planned otherwise?
5 JUDGE LIU: Well, we'll stop here and we'll resume at quarter to
7 --- Recess taken at 10.15 a.m.
8 --- On resuming at 10.45 a.m.
9 JUDGE LIU: Yes, please bring in the witness.
10 Mr. Krsnik, this is a direct examination, so I hope you could
11 inform us beforehand what kind of documents you are going to use during
12 your direct examination so that we could be prepared and bring the right
13 documents here.
14 Yes, Mr. Meek?
15 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] We have informed the Court. We
16 handed in the list of documents that we shall be using.
17 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, Your Honour, I received the list but I
18 received one copy, so ...
19 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] We apologise. I thought that we had
20 submitted more copies. I do apologise, Madam Registrar, for that.
21 THE REGISTRAR: No. We only received one.
22 JUDGE LIU: Maybe during the break, we could have it copied and
23 furnished to us.
24 Yes, Mr. Krsnik, you may continue.
25 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] We shall certainly do so. Thank you,
1 Your Honour, yes.
2 Q. Mr. Praljak, let us remind ourselves, we left off with links with
3 the Republic of Croatia. Let me ask you another question. Did you
4 personally have contacts with President Tudjman?
5 A. Yes, I did have contacts with President Tudjman.
6 Q. My first question linked to the Republic of Croatia, this
7 assistance in terms of weaponry, armaments, if we could go back to that.
8 A. I've already said that partially in explaining my previous
9 answer. The Republic of Croatia was not able -- or part of the Republic
10 of Croatia, that is to say the Ministry of Defence, that part of it, and
11 within the Ministry of Defence, the main headquarters of -- staff of the
12 Republic of Croatia was not able to issue an order on the deployment and
13 use of units of the Croatian army on the territory of another state. If
14 any lower level commander were to do so, the unit and members of that unit
15 had the right to refuse to carry out an order of that kind without
16 suffering any consequences of a legal nature. And so, sir, I myself
17 participated in a public television broadcast, a programme, together with
18 the then Minister of Defence, who was Mr. Gojko Susak, we took part in the
19 same programme, and the two of us explained to the Croatian public and
20 especially Mr. Susak, Minister Susak, did, and stated loud and clear and
21 logically and unequivocally confirmed the assertions and words I stated
22 earlier on.
23 Q. Do you remember when that was, this television programme, when did
24 it take place?
25 A. It was in 1992, might have been May or June of that year.
1 Q. Thank you.
2 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] I shall now like to ask the technical
3 booth to play the tape and with the supplement number 5, the transcript
4 number 5. Could you just play the tape and I'll tell you when to stop. I
5 have skipped over a few of them to save time so I'm referring to tape
6 number 5. [In English] Exhibit number IDD 1/50E. [Interpretation] So
7 Madam Registrar, this would be number IDD 1/50, exhibit number, and the
8 interpreters have the transcript of the tape.
9 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Scott?
10 MR. SCOTT: Well, Your Honour, just for the record, we have no
11 transcript in B/C/S or English, or certainly no translation of it. Thank
13 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Krsnik, are there any translations of this
15 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] I said at the beginning that we have
16 the text in Croatian, which we have handed round to the interpreters and
17 the booths, and they will interpret it simultaneously on the basis of the
18 written text in Croatian. We ask them to do that.
19 But I have a copy for the Prosecution as well, in Croatian, so the
20 translation will appear on the transcript, actually, as the tape is
22 MR. SCOTT: Mr. President?
23 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Scott.
24 MR. SCOTT: Perhaps at least the B/C/S transcription could be
25 provided to us at the same time it's provided to the booths, please.
1 JUDGE LIU: Yes, please.
2 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Will you please start the tape and
3 I'll tell you where we shall begin.
4 [Videotape played]
5 THE INTERPRETER: [Voiceover] "Review and promotion of the 9th
6 Muslim Brigade."
7 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] That is the wrong tape. That is tape
8 number 1, cassette number 1. I say this to the technical booth. We need
9 number 5.
10 [Videotape played]
11 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] May we have a fast-forward, please?
12 Fast-forward, please. Fast-forward and I'll tell you when to stop. Stop
13 here briefly.
14 Q. Tell us, Mr. Praljak: Was that the event in Polog?
15 A. Yes, this was the event in Polog. The people stopped the tanks.
16 The President of the Presidency, Alija Izetbegovic, arrived and the crowd
17 greeted him with general ovations.
18 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Fast-forward, please. Stop here.
19 And may we rewind the tape to the beginning, please, of this particular
20 scene. From here. Could you play the tape from this point, please.
21 [Videotape played]
22 THE INTERPRETER: [Voiceover] From Zagreb.
23 "PRESENTER: If a Croatian soldier refuses to go to the front in
24 Bosnia-Herzegovina, to Derventa, for example, can he be punished as a
1 MR. SUSAK: He can't.
2 PRESENTER: I have received a group of questions from our viewers,
3 which is not any one of you particularly."
4 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation]
5 Q. Could you tell us who is speaking?
6 A. The Minister of Defence, Mr. Gojko Susak.
7 "MR. SUSAK: The officers of the HV army have told us the
8 conditions under which the HV can go to the territory of
9 Bosnia-Herzegovina. They are volunteers who were born in these
10 territories or volunteers who wished to go to defend the territory, and
11 that is the way in which we helped them. But there is no order which can
12 be issued to order somebody to go to Bosnia-Herzegovina."
13 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Thank you. May we rewind the tape,
14 please. Could you rewind the tape? And stop here. Stop here, please.
15 Play the tape. May we see the tape?
16 [Videotape played]
17 THE INTERPRETER: [Voiceover] From Zagreb.
18 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Stop, please. Stop there.
19 Q. Witness, could you tell us where you are on the tape, Witness?
20 A. I am third from the left.
21 Q. Could you tell us who the other gentlemen taking part in the
22 programme were?
23 A. First is the presenter; then we have Minister Susak; the third
24 person is myself; number 4 is General --
25 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Scott.
1 MR. SCOTT: Could we have a date for this broadcast,
2 Mr. President, please?
3 JUDGE LIU: Yes.
4 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] The witness said that he does not
5 remember the exact date, but the month was --
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The 5th or -- was May or June 1992,
7 thereabouts, May or June, 1992.
8 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation]
9 Q. Please continue, Witness.
10 A. The programme --
11 Q. Tell us who we have sitting round the table.
12 A. I reached General Lucic, who is number 4, the fourth man. Then we
13 have three other gentlemen from the Defence Ministry who were well versed
14 in subjects such as refugees and the care of refugees, financing, and so
15 on, displaced persons, et cetera.
16 Q. Mr. Praljak, if I put it to you, and if I tell you in this Trial
17 Chamber that witnesses appeared in this Trial Chamber, in this courtroom,
18 who claimed that the HV, the Croatian army, that is, was present in
19 Bosnia-Herzegovina, especially in Herzegovina, all the time, and that it
20 took part in operations with the HVO, what would you say to that?
21 A. My answer would be the following: I would say that that witness
22 was lying. This broadcast, this programme, was organised precisely
23 because of the need to clarify the constitution and the manner in which
24 the units of the Croatian army, the HV, were sent, because the
25 units -- and Derventa is mentioned here, Derventa. And this is the summer
1 of 1992 that we're talking about, and it was when the Croatian and, in
2 part, Muslim population from Posavina, part of Bosnia-Herzegovina, by the
3 river Sava, was expelled and killed. And I can even enumerate some units
4 which, although they were composed of people from the locality and the
5 territory of the Republic of Croatia, they adhered to this position and
6 refused to cross the Sava River into Bosnian and Herzegovinian territory
7 and thereby prevent the massacre carried out by the Serbs in that area.
8 In that way, having done so, the Serbs reached the river Sava, and then,
9 for many months, fought and shot at Slavonski Brod with all the weaponry
10 they had at their disposal --
11 Q. Could you explain to us where Derventa and Slavonski Brod are.
12 A. Slavonski Brod is in the Republic of Croatia and it is at the --
13 on the left bank of the Sava River; and across the river, the Sava River,
14 is the boundary, the border in that part, between the Republic of Croatia
15 and Bosnia-Herzegovina. And I should just like to say and I'd like to
16 have you know that according to the doctrine of warfare, faced with a
17 situation of this kind, when one army - in this case it was the Serb
18 army - were violating all international laws and shelled a town for months
19 on end from the immediate vicinity on the territory of another state, the
20 doctrine of war law provides for the fact that the state under attack has
21 the right to refute the enemy even by crossing into the territory of
22 another state, and this is what we call to enter the rear and in-depth
23 tactically. Unfortunately, we didn't resort to that.
24 Q. In the early part of your testimony, you mentioned that on two
25 occasions, conditionally speaking, violations took place. Will you please
1 explain it? I'm not sure I understood you properly. You said that the HV
2 was in Bosnia-Herzegovina, that they did go in on two occasions. Could
3 you please explain that to the Court.
4 A. Correct. On the 12th of December -- no. On the 12th of
5 April - I'm sorry - 1992, two days after I arrived in Herzegovina and took
6 over the command in the part that I already mentioned, I requested
7 assistance from the Croatian army because those Serbs predominated there.
8 That is, it was the regular Yugoslav People's Army, and opposite me,
9 General Perisic. General Perisic was opposite me at that time. Later on,
10 he became chief of the Main Staff of the army of Yugoslavia, and
11 vice -- and Deputy Prime Minister of Yugoslavia, with a whole corps and
12 all the power that a corps normally has at its disposal.
13 The army that we were setting up actually came down to a number of
14 groups of people who are wavering between the fear that they will suffer -
15 they and their friends and their children will suffer the same fate as was
16 suffered in Croatia - and complete disorganisation insofar as the
17 establishment of an army was concerned. How difficult it is to put an
18 organised army in place, I believe it is not necessary for me to explain.
19 And at that time, I had the hole in my defence which did exist in some
20 form and in a part right below a very small place in Herzegovina called
22 Q. Will you please explain to the Honourable Court about Medjugorje.
23 Where is it?
24 A. Medjugorje is a small locality, holy place. It is known as the
25 Virgin Mary's sanctuary. It is on the right bank of the Neretva, midway
1 between Mostar and Capljina, approximately.
2 After a -- following an agreement, a commander, I believe that he
3 was a commander of a neighbouring Split, the commander of the brigade,
4 when I asked him to, he issued a command, an order, and sent 164 men, and
5 at that time it was called the Battalion, the 4th Battalion of the 4th
6 Guard's Brigade in Split. And I mixed them up with domiciled units, with
7 local units, to strengthen the defence, because the Yugoslav People's
8 Army, commanded by General Perisic could otherwise cross -- take the road,
9 the Medjugorje-Ljubuski-Makarska, Ljubuski-Virgora-Makarska. Makarska is
10 on the coast in Croatia. And at that time, I personally was reprimanded
11 for the first time by a clerk in the American embassy, Mr. Zorelis --
13 THE INTERPRETER: Z-o-r-e-l-i-s is how the witness pronounces it.
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I asked him that we go together to
15 inspect, in order to verify my allegations.
16 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation]
17 Q. And which was the second instance, the second occasion?
18 A. As soon as we organised ourselves, that unit abandoned that
20 The second instance, sir, was in 1993, autumn, early autumn; late
21 summer/early autumn. We asked that the Croatian army extend its area of
22 defence of Dubrovnik towards Stolac, a place which is some 20 kilometres
23 east of Capljina, because in view of the narrow territory that the
24 Republic of Croatia has in Dubrovnik, it is impossible to hold defence
25 lines on the border itself. The border of Croatia above Dubrovnik is at a
1 distance from which one can fire at Dubrovnik with a pistol. The Croatian
2 army units were deployed as agreed in the area, but although this was a
3 logical defence deployment of the Republic of Croatia, the American side
4 filed a very forceful protest and the -- we -- the Croatian army pulled
5 out those units and I set up the Technical Group II and took over those
6 front lines.
7 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Could the usher please help us with a
8 document. EAC-5.
9 Q. Witness, I will now give you five or six documents and I will ask
10 you to read them all and tell us with which one of them are you familiar?
11 A. I referred to this document, so this is the 4th Battalion, 164
12 men, who were, on the 12th of April, 1992, deployed under the order of the
13 command of the 4th Guard Brigade, Mr. Mato Videk [phoen]. It was the
14 first time when acting under the orders, one battalion, that is 164 men of
15 the Croatian army, in the -- entered into the territory of the Republic of
17 Q. Two questions: How long were they there? I don't know if that is
18 in the transcript. And secondly, what was the political and legal
19 situation on the 12th of April, 1992? Has Bosnia already been
20 recognised? Can you comment on this regardless of the defence -- the
21 defence of the territory?
22 A. Well, Bosnia-Herzegovina was recognised thereabouts, I believe it
23 was after this date. So as regards Bosnia-Herzegovina, it was from the
24 point of view of law, formally speaking, it was still a part of
25 Yugoslavia, but in reality it was a -- the continuing year,
1 year-and-a-half-long aggression of the Serb forces against primarily
2 peoples, and then within peoples, these states which existed by law,
3 formally speaking, following the disintegration of Yugoslavia.
4 Q. The next document?
5 A. I believe -- excuse me. I believe that this unit stayed there
6 about a month or a month and a half, but I couldn't tell you the exact
7 number of days.
8 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Document EAC-15. And -14, AEC-14, so
9 the witness could comment on both of them at the same time.
10 Q. Mr. Praljak, you will be shown another order so you can look at
11 both of them at the same time.
12 A. Colonel Siljeg, Zeljko Siljeg, did not write accurately the
13 sentence that the officers who have assigned to the territory of the
14 Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina to join the Croat Defence Council cannot,
15 without the authority of the Croatian Ministry of Defence, leave the
16 territory. Such sentences are written out of despair, of a man made
17 responsible to defend something --
18 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Scott?
19 MR. SCOTT: Mr. President, I'm going to object to that form of
20 answer. The witness can say whether he disagrees with it for some reason,
21 and assuming he has a personal foundation for believing this document to
22 be inaccurate, but I submit that it's not a reasonable answer for him to
23 respond in such a way he says, "Well, this person, this Mr. Siljeg, didn't
24 know what he was talking about or he spoke improperly." I submit he's not
25 in a position to know that. It's not a proper way to address the
1 documents. Obviously, he wants to dismiss the documents, but I think he
2 has to do it on some other basis besides saying that the person who wrote
3 it did not know what he was talking about.
4 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Krsnik?
5 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, with all due respect
6 for my learned friends, if they show a little bit more patience, they
7 would hear why is the witness testifying, first-hand, about this. And
8 then he would know that the colonel mentioned here was his immediate
9 subordinate. They were together all the time. And he's a witness about
10 this. He is not making things up.
11 And besides, if you look at the list of witnesses, it is quite
12 logical, and I also promised that every document will be shown and
13 testified about by a person who signed it. So this same will hold true of
14 this document. But -- of course. But Mr. Praljak was directly in that
15 Main Staff and therefore he knows about what it is all about because this
16 one here is directly subordinated to him.
17 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Krsnik, I'm afraid you have to ask some
18 questions to clear it up.
19 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Very well.
20 Q. Witness, you just heard what Their Honours have asked me to do,
21 namely, whether the undersigned Colonel Siljeg was your subordinate?
22 A. He was subordinate to me whenever I was down there.
23 Q. Did you know about this so-called, would-be order that he signed?
24 Would it be in line with your orders?
25 A. No, it has no legal basis. It has the basis of a desperate man
1 who is fighting with a fundamental problem on the ground and that is that
2 the units are not organised in a manner in which an army should be
3 organised in a state which is organised and which has had an army for 120
4 or 130 years. There was a large number of people who were leaving the
5 front line and there was no way one could prevent people from quitting
6 because there was no state coercion that would make them go to the front
7 line, and it is all on a voluntary basis and therefore it fluctuates from
8 one day to the other, and Mr. Siljeg, in my interpretation, does something
9 so as to comply with his task and keep people there, but this has no legal
11 Q. Will you now look at the next order, a similar one. This is
12 EAC-14, of the 5th October, 1992, signed by Colonel Tihomir Blaskic.
13 A. Yes. It was practically the same thing, and that was to introduce
14 some kind of order, minimum order, at least in the listing of those who
15 were members of the units and who had come from the Republic of Croatia of
16 their own volition. And counsel, you can see here that two commanders,
17 Colonel Tihomir Blaskic and Colonel Zeljko Siljeg, interpret in a
18 completely different way the order that they received to make some order,
19 at least in the rosters of the HVO units. That is, in Blaskic's case,
20 there is no mention of the sentence that we argued about.
21 Q. Thank you.
22 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Now, Madam Registrar, could we have
23 document EAC-20.
24 Q. Whilst we are waiting for the document, can you tell us how many
25 volunteers, citizens - conditionally speaking, citizens - in 1991, from
1 Bosnia-Herzegovina, joined the war in Croatia and how many of them went
2 back in 1992, if you have any figures, that is?
3 A. Unfortunately, in the Croatian army, the records were not kept on
4 an ethnic basis. Had there been in the Croatian army -- no, to show that
5 in the Croatian army there were people of Croat, Muslim, and Serb
6 ethnicity. Personally, I had 17 Serbs in my unit in Sunja. But if I may
7 take the liberty to make an approximate assessment, in which case I can
8 say that a number of volunteers from Croatia in the Croat Defence Council,
9 at least insofar as units on the ground were concerned, operative units,
10 starting from Central Bosnia downward, never exceeded 700 or maybe 800
12 Q. And were they all people who had come to Croatia from Bosnia in
13 1991 and then went back to their homesteads, I mean to defend their
14 homesteads, their hearths?
15 A. Well, I cannot say all of them, but yes, I confirm that with
16 certainty for about 90 per cent of them.
17 Q. Now would you be so kind as to read this document.
18 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] This document is of the 26th of
19 November, 1992. For the record, to repeat, EAC-20.
20 Q. It is signed by the deputy commander of the OS headquarters, if
21 this OS means anything to you, Zoran Covic.
22 A. Yes. I know about orders of this nature because I also
23 participated in a whole series, in a whole string of such orders. Namely,
24 when volunteers from the Croatian army came to the territory in
25 Bosnia-Herzegovina, men did not remove the insignia of the units that they
1 had fought with in the war in Croatia, and that created major difficulties
2 for us down there, because representatives of the international community
3 never stopped saying, having seen people with such insignia, that it was
4 indeed the Croatian army down in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Regrettably, for
5 several reasons - and these are new uniforms, new patches - major problems
6 concerning the purchase, on the one hand, and on the other, all the guys
7 who had fought in Croatia wanted to come wearing those insignia because
8 they meant something more than those for whom the war was just beginning.
9 Unfortunately, or fortunately, that is how it is, how things stand
10 with all the armies. It is important to be and demonstrate that you
11 belonged to some good, valiant, and courageous unit. It applies to the
12 Marines, to the Foreign Legion, Blue Berets, Green, Red Berets, and so on
13 and so forth. And we had to grapple with this problem throughout the war,
14 for the duration of the war.
15 Q. Now I will ask you to comment on three documents.
16 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] And I'd like to ask the registrar
17 to -- Ms. Thompson for documents EAC-31, EAC-32 - they are very short
18 documents - and then Exhibit P538. I believe this document is under seal,
19 so we'll have to go into private session for that document. The EACs are
20 not under seal. First EAC, which are not under seal. When we come to
21 P538, then we'll have to go into private session.
22 Q. Mr. Praljak, in the Republic of Croatia, did refugees from
23 Bosnia-Herzegovina have their organisations, their societies, their clubs
24 across Croatia, and were they trying to help their homeland in every way
25 they could?
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 A. Yes. But the problem is broader than that. When the attack on
2 Croatia began, the international community proclaimed an embargo on the
3 import of arms for the whole of the former Yugoslavia, and as for the
4 Croats and Muslims, it meant that they were left completely unarmed,
5 opposing against a major force, as was the Yugoslav People's Army, which
6 served only the Serbian interests. All the Croats the world over,
7 Muslims, the diaspora which is scattered all over the world, they all
8 placed all their energies - that includes financial energy as well - at
9 the disposal to procure, in every way possible, to procure weapons and
10 make them available to those who wanted to fight.
11 Q. Sorry to interrupt you, but did the Croats in the diaspora, living
12 in Canada, the United States, and so on and so forth, did they also come
13 as volunteers? Do you have any knowledge of that?
14 A. Yes. Some of them came as volunteers, but they all - and I can
15 say now all, down to the last one - felt how unfair was this embargo, and
16 that in the name of the lofty principle of the right to self-defence, they
17 violated it by buying weapons and arming the people. I can testify to
18 that. At that time, Croatia was taking care of over 400.000 Muslim
19 refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina, and they also exerted themselves to help
20 with weapons if they could, and those who wanted to go back and fight,
21 they went back and fought. But an overwhelming majority of Muslim
22 combatants, then and later, and commanders, had their families
23 accommodated safely in the territory of the Republic of Croatia.
24 Q. What about Croats? Will you look at this document. So Croat
25 refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina in Croatia. You have the document before
1 you. Will you read it, please.
2 A. You're talking about some Uskoks?
3 Q. Yes. Konjic, Vukovar, Zagreb. Avenija Vukovar, Zagreb. That's
4 the address.
5 A. In Zagreb, in the Avenija Vukovar and the Velesajam, this was the
6 headquarters of a large number of organisations which rallied Croats and
7 Muslims alike, based on their place of origin, that is, the Croats and
8 Muslims of Konjic, for example, of Zepce, of Gorazde, of Mostar. And in
9 that way, they set up the units and collected all possible assistance,
10 everything they needed that was necessary. And literally, in a country
11 which had been disbanded, there was nothing. So it means that the
12 volunteers from the area could be sent over, yes, and agreement that they
13 would be received.
14 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] May we now go into private session,
15 with the Court's indulgence, please.
16 JUDGE LIU: Yes. We'll go to the private session, please.
17 [Private session]
13 Page 9328 – redacted – private session
8 [Open session]
9 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation]
10 Q. And now I have a series of questions. Do you know how the process
11 of arming the BH army developed in 1992 and 1993? How did that process
12 show itself?
13 A. The arming of the army, or rather, the Muslim forces, which call
14 themselves the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, evolved continuously throughout
15 the whole war via the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, either by the
16 Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina -- no, I mean Croatia, by Croatia, which
17 means the defence ministry of the Republic of Croatia, or what they
18 themselves succeeded in procuring, which means their own logistical units,
19 who were scattered across the globe. All this was collected up on the
20 territory of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina and transported, in
21 convoys, via the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the area controlled --
22 Q. You mean the Republic of Croatia, I believe.
23 A. Yes. I meant across the territory of the Republic of Croatia and
24 the territory of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which was under the
25 control of the Croatian Defence Council. And let me repeat: This was an
1 ongoing process throughout the war on the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina,
2 and it was placed at the disposal of the Muslim forces, or rather, the
3 army of Bosnia-Herzegovina. One part was hidden in convoys of
4 international humanitarian aid.
5 Q. I'm going to show you some documents now.
6 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Madam Registrar, they are documents
7 1D --
8 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Scott.
9 MR. SCOTT: Excuse me, Mr. President. Two objections and a
10 request for clarification. Again, I think we're painting now with far too
11 broad a brush. Could we have the dates when these provisions were being
12 provided to the Bosnian Muslim army? As the Chamber well knows, I think,
13 at this point in the trial, it might be one thing to say that Muslims were
14 armed and assisted during the early days of 1992 and fighting against the
15 Serbs, and it would be quite something else, the Prosecution would submit,
16 to say that they were being armed at the time that they were fighting each
17 other in Mostar and Stolac and other places in the middle of 1993. The
18 testimony that the witness has given over the last few minutes gives no
19 indication as to dates, locations, which units, which units were assisted,
20 in what way. Did they provide -- did they get towels and soap? Did they
21 get bullets? Were they fighting against Croat units or were they fighting
22 against Serb units? There's simply a complete lack of information to make
23 this testimony assist anyone, including the Defence. So we object to
25 Secondly, Your Honour, there's further clarification that's
1 needed. It says that some of this, the last on line 17: "One part was
2 hidden in convoys of international humanitarian aid." Was this a shipment
3 from Croatia that was hidden in conveys of international humanitarian
4 aid? Was it a shipment from someplace else? Which convoy? Which
5 international humanitarian organisation is accused of doing this?
6 Mr. President, we are, simply speaking, in extreme, broad generalities,
7 and we object.
8 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Krsnik, you may ask some specific questions
9 to clear it up.
10 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, had the Prosecution
11 shown a little more patience, we would be showing documents with dates and
12 names. So may I ask my learned colleagues to show a little patience
13 during the examination-in-chief, just as I did. I'm just pulling out IDD
14 1/51 to 54 documents, and the Prosecution has these documents, which
15 includes dates, quantities and names. We were just about to show those
17 JUDGE LIU: For the sake of the records, you might ask some
18 specific questions concerning the dates, the whereabouts.
19 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I have selected 14
20 documents out of hundreds, by way of example. So could the usher please
21 assist me. Not hundreds; there are thousands of documents of this type.
22 If necessary, we shall collect them all and tender them all as exhibits,
23 if need be.
24 I have provided the witness with all 14 documents to speed the
25 process up. The witness can read out the dates, the quantities and who
1 gave what to whom.
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The documents says, "Republic of
3 Croatia, Ministry of Defence." That is the header, the title.
4 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation]
5 Q. Witness, could you look at the document on the ELMO. [no
7 A. [In English] IDD 51. [Interpretation] The document is headed
8 "Republic of Croatia, Ministry of Defence," and it is titled,
9 "Authorisation." 7.430 pairs of boots for the needs of the -- of Tuzla,
10 the Armed Force of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Armed Forces of
11 Bosnia-Herzegovina. The party taking over the goods are Rasim, Osman,
12 Jusuf. They are all Muslims.
13 Q. The date of each document, please?
14 A. It is the 7th of October, 1992.
15 Once again, the Republic of Croatia, Defence Ministry, 10th of
16 October, Order for the Issuance of Ammunition, 7.62, times 39, number of
17 pieces, 6 million. A Lanzer RPG-7, ten pieces.
18 Q. Can you explain what "RPG" stands for?
19 A. RPG is a launcher, anti-aircraft launcher. RPG-7, 300. Mines, 82
20 millimetres, 480. Mortars, 82-millimetre mortars, five pieces. And it is
21 signed by General Colonel Ivan Cermak, who was the main logistics person
22 of the Croatian army at that time.
23 Q. For the record, the IDD number, please, of the previous document?
24 Each document, start off by giving the IDD number.
25 A. [In English] 52. [Interpretation] Document IDD 1/53.
1 Q. The date now, please?
2 A. The date is the 10th of October, 1992, Republic of Croatia,
3 Ministry of Defence, order, ammunition, 763 million pieces, similar
4 specifications as in the last document. Once again, the signature is
5 General Colonel Ivan Cermak, the chief logistics person of the Croatian
7 Document IDD 1/54 is the next document, the date is the 10th of
8 October, 1992, placed at the disposal of the central logistics base for
9 the disposal of the BH army for Foca -- for the defence of Foca and
10 Gorazde. Ammunition, 30 million pieces. Launchers, RPG-7 type launchers,
11 ten pieces. Optic sights, 40 pieces.
12 Q. Could you tell us what you mean by "optics"?
13 A. Yes. Optic sight for RPG-7 launchers. Equipment for the
14 launchers, 40 pieces. Rockets for the RPG-7, the number of pieces there,
15 996. 82-millimetre mines, mortars, 1.998 pieces. Mortars, 82-millimetre,
16 types, 20 pieces. Optic sights for mortars. A recoilless gun,
17 82-millimetre, I can't see the figure there. I think it is 70 or 40.
18 Shells, 82-millimetre shells for recoilless guns, 450 pieces. AP SMG
19 762. They are automatic rifles, 2.000 of those. And equipment for
20 automatic rifles, 2.000 pieces.
21 Q. Mr. Praljak, could you find 1993 in the documents? Look at the
22 dates, please, and find the year 1993. And I'm going to tender them into
23 evidence later on once these documents have been translated. Would you
24 read out the number of the document first, please.
25 A. IDD 1/59.
1 Q. The date?
2 A. Is the 15th of February, 1993. The Republic of
3 Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Army of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the
4 command of the 4th Corps, that is the corps of the Bosnia-Herzegovina army
5 in Mostar. The main staff of the HVO, to the attention of Mr. Bruno
6 Stojic, who was the representative of the board of the Croatian Defence
7 Council. And diesel fuel is requested, 100 tonnes of D-2 diesel fuel, 200
8 tonnes, and the D-2 diesel fuel, 200 tonnes again, for the different
9 locations. The fuel is located in Ploce, which is a territory of the
10 Republic of Croatia and a harbour. And the commander of the 4th Corps of
11 the BH army was Mr. Arif Pasalic, and he signed the document. He is
12 requesting that this fuel be okayed, although the conflict between the BH
13 and the Muslims forces were underway.
14 Q. Could you tell us where the fuel was going to?
15 A. Ploce-Mostar, Ploce-Jablanica, Ploce-Konjic, exclusively for the
16 purposes of the Muslim army.
17 Q. Can we look at another 1993 document. Before we move on to the
18 next document, do you know whether Mr. Arif Pasalic received that?
19 A. Yes, he did. Everything went through.
20 Document IDD 1/60. This was the 27th of February, 1993, and the
21 Republic of Croatia and the Defence Ministry, the Main Staff authorises
22 Mr. Hasan Rizvic --
23 Q. What was his ethnicity?
24 A. A Muslim. To transport RPG-22.
25 Q. Through which territory?
1 A. Through the territory of the Republic of Croatia and area under
2 HVO control, to territory controlled by Muslim forces, RPG-22s, ten
3 pieces; RPG-7s, two pieces; and mines for RPG-7s, 18 pieces.
4 Q. And the signature?
5 A. General Major Stipetic, Petar Stipetic, and then the deputy -- and
6 I'm not quite sure deputy of the Main Staff, but today's Main Staff deputy
7 of the armed forces of the Republic of Croatia, who in this -- who was in
8 this Tribunal.
9 This next document is IDD 1/61, Republic of Croatia, Ministry of
10 Defence, the 2nd of March, 1993, confirmation allowing the transport of
11 equipment for the requirements of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina,
12 mechanised special units, Sarajevo, in the Zagreb-Metkovic area, passage
13 through Bosnia-Herzegovina, and both these towns are in
15 Q. You mean Croatia?
16 A. Yes, Croatia. The drivers are Cavic, Sevudin, and Rizvic, Hasan.
17 Both of these two men are Bosniak Muslims.
18 Q. And the document is signed by?
19 A. By the administration of SIS, the Security Service of the Ministry
20 of Defence of the Republic of Croatia, and Miroslav Medjimorec is the
22 Q. Next document, please.
23 A. This document is numbered IDD 1/62. The heading under the coat of
24 arms is Republic of Croatia, Ministry of Defence, the Security and
25 Information Service, the administration. The date is the 15th of March,
1 1993. And this document states that in Visoko, for the requirements of
2 the logistics centre in Visoko, actually, which is a place near Sarajevo
3 and was always under the control of the Muslim forces.
4 Q. Do you know whether the main logistics centre for the BH army was
5 located in Visoko?
6 A. Yes, Mr. Krsnik, and it was one of the problems that we frequently
7 insisted that arms be sent towards the jeopardised territory of
8 Bosnia-Herzegovina, Gorazde, Srebrenica and so on, but according to our
9 information, it ended up in the main logistics centre in Visoko and was
10 ultimately used as weapons to attack the Croatian forces in the Republic
11 of Bosnia-Herzegovina. This document specifies the vehicles and the
12 drivers of those vehicles.
13 Q. Were they all Muslims?
14 A. Yes, all the drivers were Muslims and we had 4.520 pairs of boots
15 included, camouflage heavy coats, 4.820. And camouflage coats and
16 camouflage trousers, 4.000, et cetera, and 400. And all the rest is
17 illegible except for the signature, Mr. Josip Perkovic, who was, I'm
18 almost certain, then the head of the Security Service within the Ministry
19 of Defence of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
20 Q. Next, please?
21 A. The number of the document is IDD 1/63.
22 Q. What is the date?
23 A. The date is the 26th of March, 1993. Once again, the Ministry of
24 Defence of the Republic of Croatia. We have the reference number, et
25 cetera, and it issues an order for issuing materiel and equipment for the
1 requirements of the armed forces of Bosnia-Herzegovina by the logistics
2 base at Grude. The logistics base was Grude. And that was a logistics
3 base belonging to the Croatian Defence Council. A RPG-7 launcher, 75
4 pieces, mines for the RPG-7 launcher, 7.600 pieces there. A laser remote
5 device, 38 pieces. Launchers for S-2M, ten pieces. Missiles, rockets,
6 TF8ATM, 188 pieces. Bullets, 762 times 39, 800.000 pieces. Automatic
7 rifles of the 7.62 millimetre type, 75 pieces. Bullets of the 12.7
8 calibre, 21.500, PMA mines, 1.500 pieces. A device for testing launchers
9 and the TF8 missile unit, two pieces and a complete set for launching and
10 targeting anti-tank rockets, TF8, eight pieces of those. All drivers
11 driving those vehicles, and there are seven of them, were of Muslim
13 Q. And did they have their military booklet number recorded?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. And who were the people responsible for taking over these
17 A. Beslagic Emir of Sarajevo, Sabic Tarik and Juric Franjo, the last
18 being a Croat, obviously.
19 Q. What about the rest?
20 A. The rest were Muslims.
21 Q. This brings us to the last document, I believe.
22 A. We could skip the next document and go over to this final one.
23 Q. Could you given us the dates, please? I think we have missed a
24 document, skipped a document. Page 2. I saw a million bullets somewhere,
25 the figure for the ammunition was 1 million, in that last document you
1 read out. Could you turn to page 2 of that document, please.
2 A. Yes. It is the same registration number, the same order, bullets
3 for automatic 7.62 times 39 rifles, and a million pieces of those.
4 Q. And what is the date, please?
5 A. The date is the 26th of March, the same date that was on the
6 previous document.
7 Q. Who was the responsible person which person took over the
9 A. The same people, they were all Muslim drivers.
10 Q. And what was the location?
11 A. The location was Metkovic-Grude. And this was signed by the
12 future logistics head of the Croatian army, and the Ministry of Defence of
13 the Republic of Croatia, and he was Colonel Vladimir Zagorec.
14 Now we come to the last document, IDD/64.
15 Q. Could you give us the date, please.
16 A. The date is the end of March, 1993.
17 Q. Could you give us the exact date, please.
18 A. Yes, it is the 30th of March, 1993, an order from the Ministry of
19 Defence of the Republic of Croatia, for the issuance of materiel and
20 equipment for the purposes of the armed forces of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
21 Bullets of the 7.72 times 39 type, 3 million pieces, 19.600. AK-47s,
22 3.000 pieces.
23 Q. What is an AK-47?
24 A. It is a rifle.
25 Q. Is it a semi-automatic or automatic?
1 A. Automatic.
2 Q. How many pieces of those?
3 A. 3.000. Number 3 was a RPG-7 launcher, 180 pieces of those. Mines
4 for the RPG-7, 4.240 of those. Rockets of the Majlutka type. It is a
5 Russian-produced anti-tank rocket, 9 M, 14 M, 50 pieces of those. Trotil,
6 in shells, 30.625 of those.
7 Q. Could you explain what Trotil is, or Trotilion?
8 A. It is a semi-produce for the production of all explosive devices,
9 used in the factories of Vitezit in Novi Travnik and Vitez, Braca as well,
10 and in Konjic.
11 Q. And item number 7?
12 A. Item number 7 were medicines, 16 boxes of those.
13 Q. Now, tell us who the responsible persons were and the drivers?
14 A. The responsible persons were Seta Said in Sarajevo, which -- who
15 appeared several times, and as escort to the convoy, Samir Lukvancic, and
16 they were all Muslims.
17 Q. What about the 13 drivers?
18 A. All 13 drivers were Muslims.
19 Q. Are all their particulars recorded there?
20 A. Yes, they are.
21 Q. Thank you, Witness.
22 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I think that, following
23 your guidelines, this would be an opportune moment for a break.
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thousands of documents of this
25 nature could be brought into the courtroom if the Trial Chamber requires
1 them. There are thousands of documents like that and supplies to the BH
2 army via the territory of the Republic of Croatia was ongoing, continuous.
3 Q. Are you referring to the whole of 1993?
4 A. Yes, to the whole of 1993 and 1994. There were difficulties, yes,
5 but it was an ongoing process. This process was continuous and never
7 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Thank you, Witness. It's time for
8 our break and we will resume afterwards.
9 JUDGE LIU: Well, I'm afraid we have to break here. We will
10 resume at 25 to 1.00.
11 --- Recess taken at 12.05 p.m.
12 --- On resuming at 12.37 p.m.
13 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Scott.
14 MR. SCOTT: Mr. President, Your Honours, I apologise for
15 interrupting the taking of the witness's testimony, but I feel that in
16 light of the scheduling issues that have been raised this morning,
17 probably before we break today - and I'm happy to put it off until the end
18 of today's session - if we could save some time so we could address
19 further the scheduling matters. Just as a preview - or I'm in the
20 Chamber's hands - what I understand the counsel to be telling us this
21 morning, which again is completely new to us -- and I understand that
22 things happen. It certainly happened in the Prosecution case as well.
23 I'm not -- in that particular regard, I'm not throwing any stones. But it
24 does create significant problems, obviously, for the Prosecution to
25 prepare for these major witnesses.
1 These are -- it's no secret for me to say that someone like
2 Mr. Praljak, Mr. -- I don't want to say any other names because some of
3 them are protected. The Court knows the names of some of these first few
4 witnesses. These are not, without meaning to be discourteous to any
5 witness, these are not minor fact witnesses. These are very substantial,
6 what might be called policy or political witnesses. They are labour
7 intensive for both sides to prepare. Now, we learned this morning that
8 because of some other witness changes, that the witness who was set to be
9 number 5 is now apparently, if I understand correctly, now set to be
10 number 3, which could be called as early as -- well, theoretically, as
11 early as tomorrow. Now, we have been operating on the assumption that
12 with two four-day weeks and the limited court days that we have, that we
13 wouldn't probably get to Witness 5, at the earliest, until the end of next
14 week or possibly even the following week. Now we find ourselves in a
15 situation he could be testifying as soon as tomorrow.
16 Anyway, Your Honour, I said I wanted to preview that. We can do
17 it at the end of today's session, if the Court allows some time. The
18 Court may want to think about its position. But, Your Honours, the
19 Prosecution just simply cannot be in a situation, we respectfully submit
20 and ask, to be prepared to cross-examine two major witnesses within the
21 next day or two, which is completely contrary to the order that's been
22 presented to us up until this morning. Thank you.
23 JUDGE LIU: Well, could I ask you when you will be ready for the
24 cross-examination of this witness?
25 MR. SCOTT: Mr. President, I would think that we could start the
1 cross-examination of this witness by -- well, let me back up. I'm
2 assuming, although I know the Chamber has given Mr. Krsnik some definite
3 time limits, but I'm assuming that the direct examination will go into
4 tomorrow. I suspect that -- and with no offence intended, I suspect we
5 won't finish today by 13.45. Therefore, the direct can be finished
6 tomorrow. I think that in fairness, Your Honour, the cross of this
7 witness could be commenced on Thursday morning.
8 JUDGE LIU: Thank you very much.
9 Mr. Krsnik, you want to say something?
10 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Yes, of course, Your Honours. Your
11 Honours, you are well aware how the commission for victims and witnesses
12 works. Our hands are tied up in many respects when it comes to bringing
13 in witnesses, and the worst thing is that we cannot tell the witnesses
14 when their turn will come. We simply are not able to do that. It
15 happened last week, and we once again went through the transcript. On
16 Thursday, we had the whole situation cleared up, at the request of our
17 learned friends in the Prosecution. There is nothing new that Witness 3
18 is here instead of Witness 2. That was no news. The only new thing is
19 that Witness 4 ended up in the hospital, but that was a force majeure.
20 Nobody could foresee that. And to save the situation, not to be
21 reprimanded by the Honourable Court because we do not have any witnesses,
22 we brought the next witness, who will arrive tomorrow afternoon, just to
23 try to go by your order.
24 You have to understand, Your Honours, that there are so many
25 restrictions surrounding us that we cannot act otherwise. And when we
1 were in a same situation as the Prosecutor, because the Prosecutor didn't
2 know -- the Prosecution knew that Mr. Praljak would be coming up. But I'm
3 not trying now to cast stones at anyone because I respect this Prosecution
4 team. But we have never been -- we had never been allowed to prepare for
5 longer than one afternoon when we were faced with an identical situation
6 during the Prosecution case, and I can quote examples. A witness arrived,
7 the Defence was not ready, it happened twice, and we were allowed one
8 afternoon to prepare our cross-examination. It was always one day. That
9 is, one afternoon. And it can be easily corroborated.
10 So I do not think that the Prosecution is more important or should
11 be more privileged or anything than the Defence, with all the assistance
12 that they have at their disposal. Had I one per cent of what the
13 Prosecution has at his disposal, then -- but, of course, the Defence will
14 abide by whatever decision you take.
15 But one thing more, Your Honours: When we prepared this schedule,
16 when we made this summary, we simply could not foresee, we could not know,
17 how long it would take to go through documents and tapes. So, Your
18 Honours, three and a half hours shall be my direct examination, but not
19 the tapes because the tapes cannot be included in the three and a half
20 hours allotted for this witness. And this holds true of every witness.
21 You know I'm very honest, I always tell you the truth. We simply
22 did not include the time needed to show the tapes in our calculations of
23 the direct examination. And I hope you will bear this in mind if we run
24 into problems. I have a great deal to ask this witness and we are looking
25 now at the time, the time we spent today. Today it might take me more
1 than one hour, and I'm quite sure that it will be of use to the Chamber,
2 and, of course, the witness must be ready to answer all your questions,
4 Tomorrow morning, I won't have any other witness, anyway, so that
5 thank you very much.
6 JUDGE LIU: Mr. Krsnik, we quite understand it's very difficult to
7 arrange the witnesses in good order. There is something happened always
8 during the proceedings. And we have a long Easter weekend, as you
9 understand. So Mr. Krsnik, you may continue to direct examine this
10 witness until tomorrow, and if there is no witness available, we will stop
11 there. And on Thursday, the Prosecution will cross-examine that witness,
12 but right after that, we will come to the next witness. Is that fair?
13 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honours. I do think it is
14 fair. And just let me check if I understood you well. Can I show two
15 tapes today and then tomorrow we may have -- we may need another hour or
16 two, tomorrow morning, because I do not have another witness in any case,
17 so that perhaps we might spend another hour or two with this witness.
18 Altogether, I think it adds up to about four hours.
19 JUDGE LIU: Well, this is the exception. In your case, you should
20 abide by the time prescribed in your 65 ter filings, that is, three hours
21 and a half. Since we don't have the next witness, you may have a little
22 bit longer time for this witness.
23 Yes, it is so decided.
24 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours.
25 JUDGE LIU: Yes. And before our break, the Prosecution asked a
1 question that this witness claimed that one part was -- the witness
2 claimed that one part was hidden in the convoys of international
3 humanitarian aid, and I hope you could clear it up.
4 Yes. Bring the witness, please.
5 MR. SCOTT: Mr. President, while the witness is coming, I just
6 want to express -- say thank you for the Court's accommodation. Thank
8 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Krsnik, please continue.
9 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
10 Q. Mr. Praljak, before I move on to my next subject, I think we owe
11 the Honourable Court the answer to one question, and that was to the
12 objection of my learned friend regarding convoys, that weapons were hidden
13 in convoys, and I believe we owe an answer to that.
14 A. You mean convoys, humanitarian?
15 THE INTERPRETER: Could the counsel please speak into the
17 Q. I believe it had to do with your explanations about the
18 armaments. So will you please clear -- make -- explain what you meant.
19 A. International organisations throughout the international
20 community, with regard to the armament of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina,
21 that is, Muslim and Croat component in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the armament of
22 this community ran counter to the decision on the embargo on the imports
23 of weapons in the territory of the former Yugoslavia. That is
24 Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia.
25 With an incredible number of refugees, displaced persons, expelled
1 people, in the territories of the Republic of Croatia and
2 Bosnia-Herzegovina, mainly from the territory of the Republic of Croatia,
3 a very large number of humanitarian organisations acted from the Republic
4 of Croatia. There were the Red Cross and Red Crescent, but they were also
5 a number of those. There was a whole host of organisations under the
6 auspices of the church, be it the Islamic religious institution or the
7 Roman Catholic, and they were used -- the trucks or cars would have double
8 bottoms, or in flour and perhaps other foodstuffs, weapons were hidden,
9 and then they crossed over not only to Croatia but also went on to Muslims
10 in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Of course, we wanted to control it all in one way
11 or another, and after all, it was our duty because international
12 humanitarian convoys were not always checked, and then in those convoys,
13 weapons would be found. I can testify first-hand that it did not produce
14 much effect because the weapons usually ended at the point of destination,
15 because as often as not, even if something like that would be found, then
16 convoys would go on, and not only convoys with aid but including weapons
18 Q. I believe that your answer is satisfactory -- well, I don't know
19 whether it is satisfactory but it is an answer. Whether it is
20 satisfactory, it is up to our learned friends to say.
21 Let us now resume where we left off. I believe we were talking
22 about armament and your last sentence was that it applied to 1993 and into
23 1994 and that one could also supply thousands of such documents
24 corroborating this.
25 A. Yes, I said that and I stand by it. I mean, if I may, a simple
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 look at the Bosnia-Herzegovina map, the deployment of the forces of the
2 Serbs, Croats and Muslims, shows clearly that from no other side could the
3 Muslims get their weapons except from the Croatian side or from the
4 Serbian side.
5 Q. Yes. When we come to the maps. And I already thought that
6 perhaps the maps would be the easiest way to explain various things to the
7 Honourable Court, and I will then seek your help to do that. Were you a
8 witness or were you an actor in the events in the formation of the army?
9 I believe we did not yet hear the answer. In the organisation, in the
10 formation, do you have --
11 THE INTERPRETER: Could the counsel please speak into the
13 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation]
14 Q. Would you have an example to try to portray the picture, to try to
15 give us --
16 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] I'm sorry, I really turn away from
17 the microphone, but it's so difficult for me. I cannot keep my head like
18 that, and I also want to look at you because I have to show you the
19 respect, and I also have to look at the witness, and it's all very
20 awkward, and I'm very sorry but I apologise.
21 THE INTERPRETER: Unfortunately, the interpreters cannot hear the
22 counsel when he speaks out of the microphone.
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] When we imagine that Rotterdam was
24 conquered and everybody was expelled, that it had no connection with
25 Amsterdam, that they had no banks or police, all communications cut off,
1 no electricity, no water, no judiciary, no police, no nothing, so that was
2 the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina in particular because it is made up of
3 three peoples, and all the state structures were made up of all three
5 Q. But you personally, were you ever in a situation to have to use
6 your authority or your own weapons in order to organise those
7 self-organised guys, if I may put it that way?
8 A. Well, I hardly had anything else at my disposal. I, as a
9 commander, I participated in the liberation of the barracks in Capljina.
10 That barracks --
11 Q. Will you give us the year?
12 A. 1992, after the proclamation and the recognition of the Republic
13 of Bosnia-Herzegovina as a state, a part of the international community,
14 and then immediately afterwards by the Republic of Croatia.
15 Q. Do you know how it was recognised? What kind of recognition was
17 A. Bosnia-Herzegovina was recognised as a state whose boundaries were
18 defined by Badinter's Commission.
19 Q. And what about their political order?
20 JUDGE LIU: The interpreters are far behind you. You have to
21 remember that whatever you said will be translated into the other two
22 languages. You have plenty of time, I can assure you. Yes, please.
23 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Thank you once again, Your Honour.
24 Thank you for the warning. Yes, I wrote it down for me: Go slow.
25 But Mr. Praljak, you should also look at the screen.
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, I understand, Mr. Krsnik, and I
2 will answer slowly all your questions.
3 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] No. This time it was my fault. I'm
4 not blaming you.
5 Q. Now, what about the rest? What about the internal political order
6 in Bosnia-Herzegovina, if you know something about that?
7 A. I do know. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I also took part in
8 most of these talks following the referendum which was organised at the
9 request of Badinter's Commission and in which the Croats and the Muslims
10 voted for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic
11 Bosnia-Herzegovina, that state of Bosnia-Herzegovina. That is, their
12 external -- their state borders were recognised. But the notion of a
13 state or its sovereignty was simply non-existent there. And the evolution
14 of the war and all that happened in the war and why the war started and
15 why the war went on, behind all this is the fact that during those years,
16 with the help of the international community, the participation of the
17 Muslim and Croatia in those talks, attempts were made over and over again
18 how to end the war, how to find a solution for the internal order of the
19 Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Unfortunately, from the very beginning,
20 the Serbs refused any possible Bosnia and Herzegovina which would not be
21 within Yugoslavia. That was their fundamental premise. If Bosnia and
22 Herzegovina leaves the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia, then the Serb
23 people in Bosnia-Herzegovina will take out a part of its territory into
24 the Republic of Yugoslavia, that is, will secede and will not recognise
25 that state. That piece that they wanted to take was between 66 to 70 per
1 cent of the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
2 Q. What will you say if they were -- if that there were witnesses
3 here who said that Croatia wanted the same thing, or rather, that the
4 Croat people in Bosnia-Herzegovina wanted to do the same, that is, secede
5 its part of the territory and annex it to the Republic of Croatia?
6 A. I would answer to that that of course there was some thinking
7 along those lines. There were some ideas. But political and -- the
8 political activities and the state of the Republic of Croatia, the
9 Republic of Croatia never did anything to support any such thesis. This
10 thesis can be easily developed ad absurdum. That is, a state which wants
11 to secede a part of the territory of another state in which the same
12 people lives would be the first one not to recognise such a state, that
13 is, its territorial integrity. It wouldn't, prior to that, use all its
14 persuasive powers before that to talk the people of the neighbouring state
15 to participate in the referendum and say yes and opt for the integral
16 state of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Had the Croat people not said yes in the
17 referendum, yes for such a state, then Badinter's Commission would not
18 have recognised the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina such
19 as it existed in the socialist Yugoslavia because it would not have won
20 majority, simple majority.
21 During a major part of the war, the Republic of Croatia took care
22 of up to 400.000 refugees. I'm talking about the largest possible number,
23 people expelled from the Republic of Herzegovina to the Republic of
24 Croatia. The majority of these refugees were Muslims. The Republic of
25 Croatia armed, trained, and helped the formation of the army of
1 Bosnia-Herzegovina, that is, of the Muslim people in Bosnia-Herzegovina,
2 before the conflict with Croats in the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
3 Q. Mr. Praljak, I have to interrupt you because you are confusing
4 this, and I must not do this. You mean Croatia? Because I hear you. You
5 mean Croatia but you say Bosnia-Herzegovina.
6 A. Well, throughout the war, the Republic of Croatia, even before the
7 conflict between the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Croat Defence
8 Council, trained, armed, equipped members of the Muslim forces equitably,
9 without ever raising any questions. It took care of the wounded in all
10 the hospitals in the territory of the Republic of Croatia, that is, Split,
11 Karlovac, Zagreb.
12 Q. And you personally, do you know how many wounded were
13 treated -- how many wounded members of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina were
14 treated in Croatia, and do you know the years?
15 A. I'm afraid my answer will be inaccurate if I give you some
16 figures. I mean, figures are mathematics and therefore need to be
17 precise. But it must be -- can't be less than dozens of thousands during
18 the war in the hospitals.
19 Q. When you say during the war, when?
20 A. Well, from the beginning of the conflict in
21 Bosnia-Herzegovina - let us say that the beginning of the conflict was the
22 attack on the Croat village of Ravno in Herzegovina - and at the end of
23 the war, and we can take the Dayton Accords as the end of it.
24 Q. Now we've really made a very large detour from Capljina, and we
25 were --
1 A. You want me to describe an event. Well, fire was opened on that
2 locality from both sides: from the left bank of the Neretva, where General
3 Perisic's forces were, and from the barracks.
4 Q. And how far is your parental home from Capljina?
5 A. Fifty metres. And when we took the barracks, we captured 33
6 recruits, conscripts of the Yugoslav People's Army. They were of
7 different ethnic origin. They were Serbs, they were Muslims, they were
8 Hungarians, and I believe there was a Slovenian or two. And when you have
9 a situation like that, when it would be over, groups of people would
10 emerge from time to time and they would start putting the place in the
11 order as they seemed fit, and putting the world into an order as they
12 seemed fit was that such prisoners should be killed because
13 somebody -- because one of theirs had already been killed, whether it was
14 a Serb who was killed by a shell or in some other way. And the only way,
15 the only way then to prevent such a crime was the personal attitude, which
16 meant that you had to cock your rifle and give a demonstration of enough
17 energy and strength and courage to, even at the cost of fire, that is, at
18 a loss of one's own life, to defend or prevent a crime. And although I
19 was a commander, I had nobody from the state structures to call to do
20 that, to intercede.
21 So I can testify that then, and later, on at least 20 different
22 occasions, I had to do the same thing. Unfortunately, police or secret
23 police did not exist, so one couldn't go to them and tell them, "These are
24 people who tried to commit a crime, so take them in." Because there were
25 no prisons. There was nothing. All those men, all the prisoners from
1 these barracks, are safe and sound and they all went home.
2 JUDGE CLARK: Sorry. Just -- I was talking to my colleague, the
3 President, and it's not always easy to understand what's being
4 translated. That doesn't make sense. If you look at it, Mr. Krsnik, in
5 English, and go back on it again, and possibly the way we'll get around it
6 with the translation is if you allow General Praljak to stop and then
7 explain. Is he trying to say that after the attack on Ravno, that his
8 soldiers took prisoners? No?
9 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I'll attempt to have
10 Mr. Praljak to explain this, because the Defence considers it to be
11 important. This took place after the taking over of the barracks in
12 Capljina, and it is 50 metres away from the gentleman's house. It was a
13 barracks in which the members of the JNA were put up in Capljina.
14 JUDGE CLARK: Who took the barracks? Who are the protagonists?
15 Who was the victor? Who took the prisoners?
16 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation]
17 Q. Mr. Praljak, you have heard the Judge.
18 A. The place is called Capljina and it is in Herzegovina, 35
19 kilometres south of Mostar. It was the spring of 1992.
20 Bosnia-Herzegovina was a recognised state. On the left bank of the river
21 Neretva and on the right bank of the Neretva were Serb units, the forces
22 of a corps under the command of General Perisic. The talks -- the
23 discussion about leaving the barracks guaranteeing the officers the right
24 to take their pistols with them, their small arms with them, that
25 was -- but in view of the fact that Bosnia-Herzegovina was a recognised
1 state, they couldn't take the weaponry and armaments from that warehouse
2 with them. But General Perisic refused those terms. The Croatian Defence
3 Council, under my command, on that territory, liberated the barracks in
4 Capljina, and when it did so, what it found there was the following: 32 or
5 33 soldiers belonging to the Yugoslav People's Army who were recruits.
6 They were young men who had been recruited. They were conscripts from all
7 over Yugoslavia, the former Yugoslavia. They returned home safely, but in
8 order to save their lives from individuals' desire to retaliate outside
9 the law, that could only be stopped in one way. This retaliation could
10 only be prevented in one way, and that is the weapons that they would have
11 seized, that the other side had to seize weapons too. There was nothing
12 that we could refer to as a civilised, organised --
13 Q. May I interrupt you. I don't think that Their Honours will
14 understand again. Perhaps they don't understand you because of the
15 translation. Now, when you say that some people resorted to arms, they
16 resorted to arms and lifted their arms against whom?
17 A. The soldiers in the barracks.
18 Q. And to prevent them, what did you do?
19 A. I had to take up arms.
20 Q. So you cocked your weapons at those people - we don't know who
21 they are, or rather, we do know who they are - is that what you did?
22 A. No. The possibility of taking these people into detention and
23 arresting them was completely impossible. We weren't able to do that.
24 There was no form of what we call an organised, civilised society. That
25 is to say, there was no police, no legal authorities, nothing. One of
1 those soldiers, Dr. Moro, he was a Serb, he was in the HVO and became a
2 major in the HVO and was in Capljina.
3 JUDGE CLARK: General Praljak, I may be being stupid, but you see
4 words are being translated as "they" and we don't know who "they" are.
5 Were you in charge of an HVO unit which took over a former Serbian
6 army barracks and then, whereas you guaranteed safe return and conduct for
7 the 30-something conscripts who were found there, you said that you
8 couldn't guarantee that they would be well-treated by "them" or "they."
9 Who were the "they"? Were they your troops or were they the general
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Madam Judge, it is true that I
12 guaranteed -- I guaranteed the safety of the soldiers that I took into
13 custody, took prisoner, from the people that usually come in afterwards to
14 pilfer and take revenge, and there were people of that kind who were ready
15 to do so. I should like to say that there is nothing in the concept of
16 unit -- and when I say "unit," I mean myself there and my endeavour to
17 prevent a crime from taking place. A bus, for example, in which they
18 were, on board which they were, could have passed by along a road, for
19 example, without an escort, and somebody -- somebody might shell that bus
20 or shoot at it, target it, in order to take revenge for somebody who had
21 been killed by Serb shelling. The possibility of controlling the
22 situation and preventing this kind of thing from taking place was very
23 slight. We had to invest a great deal of energy and effort to organise
24 society in order to have the minimum degree of civilised behaviour
25 prevail. And we were partially successful in that.
1 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation]
2 Q. So you want to say that at that time, you cocked your own weapons,
3 and using this force, you drove away those people?
4 A. Yes, and I did so on two occasions under circumstances of that
5 kind. I was forced to do that.
6 Q. But you could have been killed yourself, depending on who was
7 fastest on the draw?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Thank you. Now, in 1992, how long did you stay on in
11 A. Formally and legally, I remained commander of that part of the
12 battleground for about a month and a half.
13 Q. You mean while you were doing your organising there?
14 A. Yes. I made endless attempts to organise forms of social,
15 civilised life and conduct. Not because the people were uncivilised in
16 any way but because the institutions themselves had crumbled. They had
17 ceased to exist within 24 hours, the central authorities and everything
18 else that goes to make a civilised form of social life. But afterwards, I
19 would go as often as the situation required and as often as I was able to.
20 Q. Did you take part in the war which was still going on with the
21 JNA, or rather, the Serbs, in Mostar? And if so, what was your role there
22 in the HVO?
23 A. At the end of May, 1992, I returned. I went back down there.
24 Although I was not officially appointed to a command position, I did in
25 fact exercise command. And in an operation there, I was together with
1 Mr. Mladen Naletilic when we liberated Mostar, the operation to liberate
3 Q. What were the Muslim -- what was the Muslims' conduct like in
4 Mostar during the war, the war against the JNA, at the time, that was
5 being waged in Mostar?
6 A. Unfortunately, once again, for reasons that can be explained, the
7 Muslims were far more passive and far less ready to defend themselves from
8 a Serb attack, the reason for this being that their political leadership,
9 throughout that time, endeavoured to reach an agreement of some kind which
10 would prevent the war. They hoped -- it is a good thing to seek
11 negotiation and agreement, but it was more than clear, and said a thousand
12 times, that it was the Serb goal to wage war. The Croats had already seen
13 what a war looked like in Croatia. They witnessed the crimes that were
14 committed in Croatia, both in Vukovar, in Skabrnja, in Zadar, and in
15 Dubrovnik, Skabrnja, Skabrnja, Zadar, Sibenik, Dubrovnik, Slavonski Brod,
16 and so on and so forth. And they knew full well that if -- unless they
17 organised their own defence, they would suffer the same fate. For that
18 reason, in their psychological preparation for war, and in the
19 organisation they undertook, they were far ahead of the Muslims in that
21 Q. Did you personally have any contacts with Mr. Alija Izetbegovic,
22 the then presiding officer in the Presidency, as a collective head of
23 state, functioning as a collective head of state? Did you have talks,
24 meetings, negotiations?
25 A. Yes, I did.
1 Q. Could you tell us what he -- what position he took in your talks?
2 A. During the first meetings, he was still convinced that
3 Bosnia-Herzegovina would be able to avoid the tragic fate that befell
4 Croatia, that the Yugoslav People's Army would choose Bosnia as its
5 domicile locality, and that the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina, as he
6 referred to them, because of a mixed population, would not go to war
7 against each other.
8 Q. I apologise for interrupting you. Please do accept my apologies.
9 When you -- Mr. Izetbegovic said the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which
10 people was he referring to in your talks, when you talked to him?
11 A. He was thinking, at the time, the Serbs, Croats and Muslims.
12 Those are the people. He didn't distinguish between them and divide them
13 up. He meant the population, the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina as a whole,
14 with all the three constituent parts.
15 Q. How many meetings did you actually have with him?
16 A. Until the end of the war, I think seven times in Sarajevo. We met
17 seven times. And he claimed at the time that the war in Croatia was not
18 their war, that is to say was not Bosnia-Herzegovina's war.
19 Q. What did that mean? What did that mean for the Muslims and Croats
20 in Bosnia-Herzegovina, that position, statement, of his?
21 A. Well, you see, Mr. Krsnik, it was like this. When somebody within
22 a country, which considers itself to be a sovereign country, attacks two
23 Croatian villages, Ravno and the other one, and destroys them and razes
24 them to the ground and kills the people, and the first among equals in the
25 Presidency, the primus inter pares of the Presidency, states that it is
1 not their war, then there is a fundamental lack of understanding and lack
2 of trust and confidence that a policy of that kind will be able to save
3 people's lives and to ensure the survival of the people living in that
5 Q. In Zagreb, Mostar and Sarajevo, the delegations of Croatia and
6 Bosnia and the meetings with the Muslims, how often were they? How often
7 did they take place?
8 A. Up until the end of 1992, there were hundreds of meetings of that
9 kind. They took place all the time. They were regular meetings, for
10 example, in Zagreb, and Split, and in Mostar and in Central Bosnia as
11 well. And incidents would occur in different places, and after each of
12 those incidents, people would sit down to the negotiating table and try to
13 analyse the situation, why the incident had taken place, and how to
14 prevent an escalation of the conflict further. Meetings with the Croatian
15 leadership were also frequent. There were tens of those, too. And a lot
16 has been written about them. Articles have been published about that
17 subject. It would be difficult to go into all of that here and now.
18 Q. Mr. Praljak, could you explain to the Trial Chamber and all of us,
19 could you help us gain an impression of these war zones and
20 Bosnia-Herzegovina? And I'm going to show you some maps which might
21 assist you in doing that.
22 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] This is a provisional number D1/65,
23 IDD 1/65 is the number, and then 66, 67, 68 and 69. And may I ask the
24 usher to give the witness the maps?
25 Q. Please take a look at the maps. They have been set out in a
1 logical sequence.
2 A. In 1991 --
3 Q. Now, if it is not difficult for you, Mr. Praljak, would you please
4 read out all that it says in Croatian? Because it is not translated.
5 A. "Part of the strategic, aggressive, offensive operation in the
6 aggression against Croatia."
7 Q. And these arrows are pointing at what?
8 A. These are plans for the attacks, and that is how the attacks did
9 indeed take place, in the Croatian territory of Baranja, from the
10 direction of the Drina, against the Croatian territory of Slavonia, and
11 then liberated -- in the liberating operation Biljeserk [phoen] and
12 Donbanja [phoen] and Kordun in Croatia, and the Knin Corps, which was
13 attacking towards Zadar and Sibenik. This here is the direction of the
14 attack from Kupres field via Livno against Split, and through the Neretva
15 valley towards Ploce. This attack was prevented, hampered and then
16 prevented when the Livensko-Tomislavgrad front line was set up, was
17 established, by the HVO in 1992, at the time of major attacks.
18 Q. Now, map number 2, please.
19 A. So January to March, 1992.
20 Q. Will you please read the main idea.
21 A. "The operative evolution -- development of the JNA for the first
22 segment of war in Bosnia-Herzegovina." These here are the forces of the
23 Yugoslav People's Army and the Serb volunteer units in the territory of
24 Bosnia-Herzegovina, in March, 1992. The 4th Corps in Sarajevo, under the
25 command of Major General Vojislav Djurdjevac. The 5th Corps in Banja
1 Luka, Major General Vladimir Vukovic. The 9th Corps, Glamoc, Kupres,
2 Grahovo, Major General Sava Kovacevic. The 10th Corps, West Bosnia,
3 Commander, Major General Spiro Vinkovic. The 13th Corps in Herzegovina,
4 made up of the Yugoslav People's Army, volunteer Serb forces from East
5 Herzegovina and reservists from Montenegro, their commander, Major General
6 Momcilo Perisic. And the 17th Corps in Tuzla, with its commander
7 Lieutenant Colonel General -- one-star General Sava Janovic.
8 Q. So this was the deployment of the forces?
9 A. Yes. This was the deployment of the forces prior to the
10 recognition of Bosnia-Herzegovina and after its recognition, and it was
11 against this enemy that we had to organise a defence.
12 Q. So this was the Defence Exhibit D66 -- no, sorry, IDD 1/66.
13 The next map, please. This is IDD 1/67.
14 A. The occupied parts of the Republic of Croatia alongside borders of
15 Bosnia-Herzegovina. The occupied parts are East Slavonia and Baranja,
16 West Slavonia, Knin, and the Banovina of the Republic of Croatia. That's
17 the name of the territory here. What is missing here, counsel, is the
18 occupied part of the southern part of Croatia, up to Dubrovnik and behind
19 Dubrovnik, up to Ston.
20 Q. So it should all be in red, is it?
21 A. Yes. So from the legal point of view, from the legal point of
22 view, formally, if we are treating this war as a war between the states,
23 then Croatia was attacked by Bosnia-Herzegovina along several strategic
24 directions. But this was the war between peoples and not a war between
1 Q. Thank you very much. Next map, please. This is IDD 1/68.
2 A. This map dates back to April, 1992, and it shows the situation in
3 the theatre of operations. That is the actual state of the front lines.
4 Blue is the HVO, or rather, the defence lines of the Croat Defence
5 Council. Green marks the Muslim forces, called Army of
6 Bosnia-Herzegovina. And red is the Army of Republika Srpska. These
7 arrows here point at the defence, and these arrows, like this one here,
8 mean the attack. In the western part of Bosnia-Herzegovina, that is
9 around Bihac, there is an enclave which is defended jointly by Muslim
10 forces, majority, and Croat forces, that is an HVO brigade, with General
11 Santic, who was killed later on.
12 Q. And did they successfully defend it until 1995? Did they defend
13 it together?
14 A. Yes, unfortunately, it had shrunk meanwhile to only a few
15 kilometres around Bihac. And then the Croat forces, the HVO and HV forces
16 -- that is, at that time, the international community allowed, and it was
17 a lawful operation, the storm all -- then liberated all of the whole of
18 this territory and arrived at the threshold, at the gate of Banja Luka,
19 and then at the request of Banja Luka, they stopped. Sarajevo is
20 besieged, Gorazde is besieged, and this here should be Srebrenica, which
21 is also besieged. Later on, these will become the places of horrific
22 genocide against the Muslim people.
23 You see that this is basically grouped according to the ethnic
24 composition of the population. The principal directions of the attack of
25 the Serb forces were via Livno, Kupres-Livno, so that they could come out
1 at Split and push back the Croat Defence Council and come to Ploce, which
2 would mean cutting off completely the very narrow and almost indefensible
3 part of the territory of the Republic of Croatia around Dubrovnik.
4 Q. Mr. Praljak, and this blue in Central Bosnia, are these are the
6 A. These are the enclaves of the Croat Defence Council. You can see
7 Travnik and Busovaca, and Zepce should be here. Zepce should be here,
8 Jajce, and so on.
9 Q. Was Jajce conquered nevertheless by the army of Republika Srpska
10 later on?
11 A. In 1992 the enclave of Jajce was very poorly defended.
12 Q. But was the defence -- were there attempts to prevent its
13 defence? Are you personally aware that it was the first, if I may call it
14 that, incident with the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, when the reinforcement
15 for the defence of Jajce arrived? Are you personally aware of that?
16 A. The situation between the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Croat
17 Defence Council in Jajce, except that it wasn't particularly good, is not
18 something that I have personal knowledge of. But what I can testify about
19 is that I, with the others, organised a unit of an army which was called
20 HOS, H-O-S. At that time, those units were tolerated, like many others,
21 even if they did not make part of the Croat Defence Council or part of the
22 army of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
23 One such unit, some 250 to 300 strong, before the fall of Jajce,
24 was armed by us and fully equipped by us, in the Capljina barracks that I
25 mentioned about when General Perisic's forces were defeated, and we sent
1 that unit as a reinforcement to Jajce. More than 60 per cent of that
2 unit's strength were ethnic Muslims. At that time, the tension in this
3 area here, the tension between Croats and Muslims, unfortunately, had
4 reached already such a degree, had become so intensive, that that unit
5 riding buses never made it to Jajce. It was stopped in Muslim villages,
6 although, and I repeat that 60 per cent of the men in this unit were of
7 Muslim origin.
8 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Scott.
9 MR. SCOTT: Excuse me, Mr. President. I think we're at another
10 area where a date would be helpful as to the attack on Jajce and when it
12 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Krsnik. Clear it up for us.
13 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation]
14 Q. Mr. Praljak, will you give us the date, please.
15 A. Well, it was autumn of 1992. I wouldn't really be able to pin
16 down the date, but if you want me, I'll try to dig it up from somewhere.
17 I could bring tomorrow the exact date. But it was the autumn of 1992.
18 Q. Will you now please be so kind and look at the next map.
19 A. I wish to mention merely that after the fall of Jajce, I went to
20 Central Bosnia, and there, together with the army of Bosnia and
21 Herzegovina and General Tihomir Blaskic, I organised there the defence in
22 front of Travnik so as to prevent the Serb forces from taking the Lasva
23 Valley and reaching Sarajevo. At that time it looked more than a
25 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] This is Exhibit ID D1/69.
1 Q. And this was the situation?
2 A. Yes. This was the situation in April 1992. And I want to show
3 that in this part where I arrived, Mostar was practically encircled by
4 Serb forces. Both Croats and Muslims were expelled from Stolac and we
5 accommodated both groups in Medjugorje and tried to incorporate them in an
6 organised defence. The Serb forces were on the right bank of the Neretva
7 and we were threatened with a complete route of our forces.
8 Q. Mr. Praljak, if I may interrupt you. We heard here witnesses who
9 said that the Croats betrayed and surrendered [indiscernible] Stolac to
10 the JNA. That is that we surrendered Stolac to the forces of the Yugoslav
11 People's Army, that we betrayed the Muslim people and left them at the
12 mercy of those others -- at the mercy of the JNA. Is that true?
13 A. Well, I would call such a statement a blatant lie, a shameless
14 lie. The truth is, for reasons that I mentioned earlier, that the Stolac
15 Muslims welcomed the JNA troops there with flowers, that they prevented
16 the Croat Defence Council from digging the trenches in the territories, in
17 the property which belonged to them. The Muslims were confident at the
18 time that in that way they would be able to avoid war and the very bad
19 fate. Such a contact of the Muslims then entailed major consequences for
20 the armies of both peoples in the territory.
21 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Scott.
22 MR. SCOTT: Mr. President, again we seem to have a recurring
23 problem with getting specification of date, and for these purposes, dates
24 are important. So I would ask what date, what particular date or
25 circumstance is he talking about now in connection with Stolac?
1 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Krsnik.
2 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours -- Your Honours,
3 I'm -- the witness need not know the exact date.
4 Q. Can you remember the months and years and all that?
5 A. No, no, no. I know this, what I just told you about. Stolac
6 refers to the period before April 1992, that is, March and early April,
7 the beginning of April 1992. And I arrived there on the 10th of April,
8 1992. And several months later -- and several months after that, we were
9 receiving Muslims fled from the area of Stolac and tried to accommodate
10 them in every way possible. And they resorted to all sorts of devices to
11 cross the Neretva, with our assistance, and as I personally participated
12 in those, I can describe that down to the minutest detail and show -- and
13 point at the houses and the whole tourist village owned by a Slovenian
14 travel agency, where we accommodated those people.
15 Q. And the town was?
16 A. Medjugorje.
17 Q. I think we are coming to the end of the session, so my last
18 question is: Did the HVO eventually liberate Stolac?
19 A. Yes. In the end of May and in early June, the Croat Defence
20 Council, in the joint struggle then with the army of Bosnia and
21 Herzegovina, but a small number of soldiers who took part in the
22 operations -- I mean, a small number of Muslims took part in this combat,
23 liberated both Stolac and the Neretva Valley and Mostar, and I personally
24 commanded the action of the liberation of Mostar.
25 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I believe that we have
1 come to the end of today's session, and I would therefore -- and that
2 would be my last question for the day. Thank you very much.
3 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Witness. I'm afraid we have to keep you here in
4 The Hague for two or three days, and all you have to remember that you are
5 still under the oath during that period. So do not talk to anybody about
6 your testimony and do not let anybody talk to you about it. We will see
7 you tomorrow morning.
8 Mr. Usher, would you please bring the witness out of the room.
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. I will
10 abide by the instructions.
11 [The witness withdrew]
12 JUDGE LIU: So we will resume at 9.00 tomorrow morning.
13 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1.45 p.m.,
14 to be reconvened on Wednesday, the 3rd day of April,
15 2002, at 9.00 a.m.