1 Wednesday, 8 May 2002
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [Accused Naletilic not present]
5 --- Upon commencing at 2.19 p.m.
6 JUDGE LIU: Call the case, please, Madam Registrar.
7 THE REGISTRAR: Good afternoon, Your Honours. This is case number
8 IT-98-34-T, the Prosecutor versus Naletilic and Martinovic.
9 JUDGE LIU: We notice that Mr. Naletilic is not here.
10 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] That is right, Your Honour. We were
11 -- have not been told the reason. I suppose he's not feeling well.
12 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Madam court deputy?
13 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, I received a phone call from the detention
14 centre and he will be resting this afternoon. He's sending a waiver.
15 JUDGE LIU: Yes. So we'll proceed without Mr. Naletilic's
17 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Yes, of course, Your Honours, because
18 I have the general authorisation of my client that we can always proceed
19 even in his absence.
20 JUDGE LIU: Thank you very much. Could we have the witness,
22 [The witness entered court].
23 JUDGE LIU: Good afternoon, Witness.
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good afternoon.
25 JUDGE LIU: Would you please make the solemn declaration, please?
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
2 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
3 WITNESS: DAMIR ZORIC
4 [Witness answered through interpreter].
5 JUDGE LIU: You may sit down, please.
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
7 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Seric?
8 MR. SERIC: [Interpretation] Thank you very much, Mr. President.
9 I'd forgotten to switch my microphone on.
10 Examined by Mr. Seric:
11 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Zoric, just a brief comment before we begin,
12 to make it easier for to us follow one another, and the -- and so that the
13 interpreters can follow it and that we'll also help the Chamber and our
14 learned friends, also enable everybody to follow you, we shall both
15 therefore endeavour to try as slow as possible, yet not too slow so as not
16 to slow down the pace of the proceedings, but -- and to help you with
17 this, I do not know whether you can see on the monitor the transcript, as
18 I'm talking?
19 A. Yes, I do.
20 Q. Well, then, you can look at this black dot at the end and when it
21 stops it means I have finished and you can start your answer. Will that
22 be all right?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Dr. Zoric, to start with, will you please introduce yourself, give
25 us your brief facts from your curriculum vitae?
1 A. I'm Damir Zoric, I was born on the 1st of January, 1960, in Grude,
2 Bosnia-Herzegovina. My family migrated to Zagreb when I was still a boy
3 and ever since I've been living in Zagreb. I'm married, a father of
4 two, all my education was in Zagreb. The elementary, the secondary, the
5 faculty of philosophy in Zagreb and that is where I also obtained my Ph.D.
6 Degree. I studied -- I read history and ethnology, that is roughly the
7 equivalent much cultural anthropology in western terms. I also worked at
8 the same department as a scientific worker and performing different
9 duties, and as -- from 1991, I worked in the government of the Republic of
10 Croatia, first as an adviser to the deputy Prime Minister for humanitarian
11 affairs, that is the time when the government of national unit, and that
12 was August, 1991, was formed in Zagreb. And then pursuant to the order of
13 the same government, I founded and was the main secretary of the
14 government office for expelled persons and refugees, and I did that until
15 about April, 1993. I was then elected to parliament in the first
16 elections for the counties Chamber of the diet of Croatia. It was roughly
17 the senate in a two-Chamber diet, and as the leader, or head of the
18 parliamentary opposition, I was elected as one of deputy speakers of that
20 From the -- from late 1995, I once again went back to work with
21 refugees and expelled persons, and I first became the deputy and then the
22 head of that office. I held that position for slightly less than two
23 years. After that, I was appointed by the government, the director of the
24 state pensioners' fund. In February, rather in January, 1999, I was
25 appointed the ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo, and I held
1 that office until the 1st of November, 2000. After that, I went back to
2 Zagreb. And now I work for a private company.
3 Q. During your term as a MP, which party did you belong to?
4 A. At that time I was a member of the leading opposition party, which
5 in 1991, and for a part of 1992, made part of the government of national
6 unity together with all the other parties but at the time when
7 I was elected, it led the opposition in Croatia.
8 Q. Thank you. And during your time as a MP, because these are the
9 years of -- that we are concerned with, was there any decision passed by
10 the diet in relation to the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina?
11 A. I do not know if the diet ever took any operative decisions.
12 Decisions that were taken there were always decisions either hearing
13 reports and adoption of reports as to the relations between the two
14 states, things that were done, different procedures taking place between
15 the two states. In other words, all the chief decisions on the
16 recognition and all the rest had already been adopted before I became a
17 MP. I do not know which specific decision you have in mind.
18 Q. I don't have in mind any specific decision.
19 MR. PORIOUVAEV: Maybe it's a technical error but I cannot find
20 the transcript to which party did Mr. Zoric belong, opposition party but
21 what was the name of the party?
22 JUDGE LIU: Yes, yes, maybe you could clarify it for us,
23 Mr. Seric?
24 MR. SERIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
25 Q. Mr. Zoric?
1 A. It was called the Croatian Social Liberal Party, and it is -- it
2 was the first party that was founded in Croatia in 1989. And I was one --
3 I was among its founders.
4 Q. Thank you. When I asked you about diet decisions I didn't mean
5 any specific decision. What I had in mind was in view of the very close
6 relations between the two states, did any decision or perhaps a discussion
7 preceding such a decision reflect mutual respect or disrespect?
8 A. All discussions, agreements, decisions, all -- everything that
9 went on in the Croatian diet had to do with agreement between the Republic
10 of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. All these decisions are public, they
11 were all published by the Official Gazette. I do not think that there is
12 a single decision, such as the one you mentioned, that would belittle the
13 other or that would show disrespect to the other state. No, they all
14 pursued the regulation of relations between the Republic of Croatia and
15 the B and H. That is to one state with another state.
16 Q. Were there some bipartite agreements that would be the subject
17 of debate in the diet concerning any salient issues between the two
18 states, borders, for instance?
19 A. As far as I know, the Republic of Croatia has the largest number
20 of signed bilateral, that is interstate agreement with
21 Bosnia-Herzegovina. With no other state have we ever had so many
22 agreements. At different stages, after their conclusion, after their
23 ratification, they have been ratified. Others have not. Some of them
24 have been ratified by one side, not by the other. But with that country,
25 we have the largest possible number of agreements. The Republic of
1 Croatia has signed agreement on borders with the state of
2 Bosnia-Herzegovina, that agreement was signed at a meeting of the
3 stability pact in 1999, in early August, 1999, and that is the only border
4 agreement which two states emerged from the former Yugoslavia ever signed.
5 There are no two other states which have succeeded in resolving that
6 matter. And Croatian has done it with Bosnia-Herzegovina, after very
7 major effort, after a lot of effort invested and that agreement was signed
8 by presidents Tudjman and Izetbegovic.
9 Q. Mr. Zoric, the diet adopted the constitution of the Republic of
10 Croatia. What do you know about the diet at that time? If you know, were
11 there any -- did the -- did Croatia undertake any obligations, any
12 responsibility, towards the Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina?
13 A. The constitution in one of its articles, and I believe it is the
14 tenth, I'm not quite sure, but I think it was the tenth article which
15 stipulated that the Republic of Croatia was bound to take certain care
16 about Croats outside the Republic of Croatia, which also of course
17 included the Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina because they are outside the
18 Republic of Croatia but that also relates to the Croats living in
19 Voyvodina and in Italy.
20 Q. Mr. Zoric, do you know anything about some, as I call them,
21 transcripts of President Tudjman?
22 A. Well, this was quite a topic in the media. I know what the
23 majority of people with an average knowledge in Croatia, with all the
24 controversies and all the controversies that accompanied the story about
25 transcripts so that I can say -- I can talk about them only on the basis
1 only of what I learned from the media or things that I know from the area
2 of legislation, that is how such issues should be treated by law.
3 Q. And will you tell us that?
4 A. This matter is regulated by a special act, I do not know what it
5 is called. It's something about the protection of archival documentation
6 or something. I'm not quite sure what this is called but there are some
7 other regulations on that that is the state secret, the classification of
8 information, so there is a procedure which I think makes part of some
9 normal, regular state norm, states how one treats such matters. As far as
10 I know, the current government, after all that happened in that regard,
11 decided to place these documents under seal, under protection, for the
12 next 20 or 30 years, and said that it should be treated as prescribed by
13 the Statute.
14 Q. Do you know why such a decision following the discussions in the
16 A. Well, I know some of the reasons, either from media or from some
17 private contacts with my colleagues who are still in the diet, and are
18 still members of individual parliamentary boards. And who suggested such
19 discussion and decision --
20 JUDGE LIU: Yes?
21 MR. PORIOUVAEV: Your Honour maybe the witness will just clarify
22 the period of time, when the legislation was adopted, because Croatia is a
23 new state.
24 JUDGE LIU: Yes. Mr. Seric, would you please ask this question to
25 the witness so that it will clarify this issue?
1 JUDGE CLARK: Sorry, Mr. Seric, do you or Mr. Krsnik intend to
2 call a witness who will actually tell us the date and the name of the
3 various acts that have been referred to and show us the act? Because this
4 witness is, as you know, giving his information based on what he has
5 acquired from the media, which is not always the most reliable source.
6 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Yes, of course, Your Honour, you know
7 that we've always avoided the media but we shall be tendering these laws
8 through our next witness, and this gentleman here was a MP so there were
9 parliamentary boards which discussed these matters. We only have to wait
10 a little, and then you will hear why all that happened, and the most
11 important thing, Your Honour, is what the defence has been claiming
12 from day one, and that is that the transcripts that we see here have got
13 here illegally and so on and so forth, I don't want to testify here.
14 JUDGE CLARK: [Previous translation continues] ... Has very fairly
15 said that he doesn't really know, he knows of but he doesn't know
16 precisely, so if you're going to call another witness, we don't have to
17 push this witness so hard on his memory.
18 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] May I take your liberty, Your Honour,
19 with all due respect but this gentleman personally knows about that from
20 the parliamentary boards which discussed it, and their decision was very
21 important. We just have to it wait a little bit.
22 JUDGE CLARK: He said himself, Mr. Krsnik, and Mr. Seric, on a
23 number of occasions, that the media is his sole source of information.
24 That's the only reason why I had hoped there would be somebody who would
25 be able to quote chapter and verse.
1 MR. SERIC: [Interpretation].
2 Q. Mr. Zoric, let us round this off. Do you have any personal
3 knowledge about the presidential transcripts, their fate, or is it only
4 second hand information from what you heard or read?
5 A. Let me explain. When I said that I did not know exactly, it's
6 simply that I really wouldn't be able to quote the name of the law because
7 laws are usually have very long and intricate names but it is called
8 roughly law on the protection of archival documents and other -- and I
9 think it relates to the confidentiality, state secret and so on and so
10 forth. I mean these laws have very long titles. That is it. But I know
11 roughly what it's called and where I could find it. I mean this law does
12 exist, and people who are directly involved in this matters can show you.
13 But regardless of what the media wrote or did not write, this was a matter
14 which was of a paramount political importance at a certain point in time.
15 And people that I talked with and who are my close friends and who hold
16 high offices in the diet, in the national security board and other boards,
17 they insisted on the respect, on the compliance with the law, and I think
18 that made the government adopt some operative decisions to store, to keep
19 this documentation in conformity with the law.
20 JUDGE LIU: Witness, could you tell us when that legislation was
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] After its recognition, Croatia
23 pursued a very intensive legislative activity and these laws were adopted
24 during the previous government. When exactly, if I -- I find it difficult
25 to say but it must have been seven perhaps or more years ago, before they
1 became the chief topic in the media and political life and these laws have
2 not suffered any changes, they are still in force. That is, they are not
3 laws which were taken by the new parliamentary majority but the earlier
4 one. And that of course also goes for most other laws in Croatia.
5 MR. SERIC: [Interpretation].
6 Q. Very well. As you were an active participant, being a MP, in the
7 work of the supreme legislative body, can you tell the Chamber what was
8 the diet's policy with regard to Bosnia and Herzegovina and what were its
9 manifestations and I mean the time -- I mean your term, that is 1992,
10 1993? Let us focus on that particular period of time.
11 A. I was elected to the diet in 1993. The diet, in conformity with
12 its procedure and laws and the constitution, of course, which governed its
13 work, the diet adopted all sorts of declarations, conclusions, decisions,
14 which were then addressed to the government. All the discussions pursued
15 -- and sometimes they took a very long time, but we all pursued consensus
16 on those important issues, because the awareness prevailed regardless on
17 what side of the diet I sat on, that these are matters of paramount
18 importance, and the -- and the MPs tried to bring, to coordinate, and to
19 arrive at unanimous decisions so that -- and they did always, so that
20 whenever it came to matters relative to Bosnia-Herzegovina, such
21 decisions, such conclusions were usually after these long debates passed
22 unanimously. And when there were certain disagreements during the war, or
23 regarding the situation in one or the other country, then it was always
24 said that they needed to be solved in agreement with the international
25 community, with the mediation of the international community, and so that
1 the -- all constituent peoples in the B and H, that is what the
2 constitution of that country said, and their former constitutions as well,
3 that is the Serbs, Muslims, Bosniaks and Croats, that their mutual
4 relations should be solved in an equal and mutually acceptable way.
5 Q. You were then the representative of the strongest opposition party
6 in the diet. Can you tell us, but very briefly, very briefly indeed,
7 something -- the relations between the HDZ of Croatia and HDZ of
8 Bosnia-Herzegovina because that was frequently raised here and the
9 attitude of the HDZ as the party in government to the parliamentary
11 A. Well, at that time they had the majority, and like every party
12 that has the majority they had the opportunity to pass the decisions on
13 their own, but in a number of cases that were of particular importance,
14 attempts were always made to reach a consensus. They didn't take our
15 views into account on all occasions but in the majority of cases,
16 particularly cases of this nature that we are now talking about, they did,
17 and most of the conclusions were reached by consensus. I can't remember
18 now any decisions or conclusions that were imposed or pushed through by
19 the majority.
20 Q. Dr. Zoric, you say that you were born in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The
21 Prosecution claims that the purpose of the Croatian Community of
22 Herceg-Bosna was to create close ties with the Republic of Croatia and
23 that the Republic of Croatia let it be known that they support the efforts
24 and the endeavours of the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna. Can you
25 tell us whether there were any discussions in the diet, in this sense, in
1 the going in the direction of any kind of recognition of the Croatian
2 Community of Herceg-Bosna or the acceptance of this territory, this part
3 of Bosnia and Herzegovina?
4 A. No. We knew very well where the borders were between the two
5 states. We knew very well what the Republic of Croatia was and what
6 Bosnia and Herzegovina was. We distinguished between the two. And as for
7 the cooperation and the close ties, I think that it's quite natural,
8 because it's quite natural all over the world, because cross-boundary
9 cooperation is something that everybody strives for. As for the actual
10 recognition, this was not even discussed at all. It was not mentioned.
11 I'm not aware of any official paper accepted or adopted by the parliament
12 or the diet where any form of internal organisation or structure within
13 Bosnia and Herzegovina, including those by Croats, where such structures
14 would be mentioned. We always spoke about the Republic of Croatia and
15 Bosnia and Herzegovina, and we spoke about the peoples living in
16 Bosnia-Herzegovina. And they were the categories in the constitution,
17 Croats, Bosniaks or Muslims, because that was the term used at the time,
18 and Serbs. And about the need for them to come to solution that would be
19 satisfactory to all sides that would be reached by negotiations. The
20 international community engaged in similar efforts at the same time. All
21 the international mediators that were active, either in Croatia or in
22 Bosnia and Herzegovina, or in both states at the same time, they did the
23 same. From Mr. Vance, who was the special envoy for a time, then
24 Mr. Herbert Ochem [phoen] And then Cutilheiro, Vance-Owen, Stoltenberg and
25 all the others. In 1991 and 1992, I had the opportunity to take part in
1 such meetings, because I was a member of the first governmental commission
2 for the cooperation with UNPROFOR at the time when General Satish Nambiar
3 was the force commander, and I am really quite familiar with the general
4 orientation of the general kind of advice that the international mediators
5 gave us, the general thrust.
6 JUDGE LIU: Well, I understand that you are eager to give your
7 testimony, but if the Defence counsel need more information, he will ask
8 follow-up questions. Let's concentrate on the questions asked by Defence
10 JUDGE CLARK: Also, can I ask you, Mr. Zoric, when exactly in 1993
11 did you become a member of the opposition party in government? Which
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I did not become a member of the
14 opposition party in 1993. That was in 1989 that I joined that party.
15 JUDGE CLARK: Well, when did you become an elected member of
16 parliament. That's what I'm talking about. You said it was 1993. When
17 in 1993?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] In spring. I think it was in
19 April. That's when the elections were held.
20 MR. SERIC: [Interpretation].
21 Q. Mr. Zoric, we will now come to an area that you actually dealt
22 with, the operation of your office for the expelled persons and refugees.
23 Can you please tell us what happened in light of the huge number of
24 expelled persons and refugees? How did the Republic of Croatia and its
25 institutions treat the refugees and the expelled persons, first from the
1 Republic of Croatia and then we will deal more specifically with the
2 problem of such persons coming from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
3 JUDGE LIU: Yes?
4 MR. PORIOUVAEV: Your Honour, maybe my learned colleague will
5 split somehow the questions because it's a very, very long and complicated
7 JUDGE LIU: Yes.
8 MR. PORIOUVAEV: It will it be very difficult to follow the
9 witness's testimony.
10 JUDGE LIU: Yes. I agree with that, and I also advise the Defence
11 counsel to concentrate on the refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
12 MR. SERIC: [Interpretation] Very well, Mr. President. That's what
13 I intended but I wanted to start from the very beginning of the operation
14 of the office, it to see whether there was any difference in the
15 treatment. That's why I wanted to lay the foundation for my next
17 Q. Mr. Zoric, let's start from the establishment of the office for
18 the expelled persons and refugees.
19 A. In Croatia, there was a rather small service that was part of the
20 ministry for social welfare, that was to deal with or take care of the
21 expelled persons after the beginning of the aggression against the
22 Republic of Croatia. However, in summer, 1991, already, the number of
23 such persons was so great, and it grew so rapidly, that it became quite
24 clear that a specialised service should be established as soon as
25 possible. We did not have any such services before. We didn't have any
1 experience or any knowledge as to how this job should be done, nor did we
2 expect that anything of that magnitude would happen. So in autumn, 1991,
3 we started the preparations for the establishment of a specialised office
4 which would be a part of the government, and I was asked to help establish
5 it and organise it, and I accepted the job. What we did was we took the
6 social welfare offices, which existed in every municipality and which
7 dealt with social welfare issues, we instructed them to concentrate and to
8 devote most of their attention to the expelled persons and refugees from
9 the Republic of Croatia, and then we organised several of such municipal
10 offices into regional offices, depending on the actual concentration of
11 the refugees and expelled persons, where their numbers were greater.
12 There were some 20 such regional offices and they did not fully correspond
13 to the territorial structure of the Republic of Croatia, which is divided
14 into counties. They were organised on the functional principle, not
15 territorial, where there was a greater number of persons that had to be
16 taken care of we had a regional office to do that there. In 1992, Croatia
17 had about 250.000 internally displaced persons so that after the
18 occupation of, capture of Vukovar, in one night only, more than 20.000
19 people arrived in Zagreb. Since it was already winter time, that was in
20 late November, we found accommodation for them in hotels. And later, we
21 tried to find accommodation for them to the social welfare premises or
22 buildings. That was quite difficult because there is a slight difference
23 between, let's call it a council flat and the Hotel Intercontinental. In
24 March, in spring 1992, we already had about 20.000 refugees who had come
25 from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and at that time, we already had the office
1 of the UNHCR, the UN high commissioner for refugees. Later on, there was
2 also the international organisation for migrations and virtually every
3 humanitarian organisation had its office. And we tried to coordinate our
4 assistance with their assistance. Croatia had already adopted some
5 regulations regarding the rights of the displaced persons and refugees,
6 because there is a certain difference in the international law between a
7 person having the status of refugee and a person having the status of the
8 displaced person. The UNHCR advised us in this respect because as I have
9 already said, we did not have any experience with this kind of thing.
10 We cooperated very well with the UNHCR. I gave them my office to
11 their disposal, and we actually worked in the same building for a while.
12 And then sometime in 1993, when the entire -- when the whole crisis
13 escalated due to the intensification of their operations in
14 Bosnia-Herzegovina, they had to seek new premises, larger premises, but at
15 first we worked in the same building, and then the IOM, the international
16 organisation for migrations, used the same building where we were.
17 In March, 1992, Croatia had about 20.000 refugees from Bosnia and
18 Herzegovina, from the areas where Bosnian Serbs had set up their
19 autonomous regions, as they called it, and these were the areas where they
20 expelled all the non-Serb inhabitants, that is Muslims and Croats. The
21 ratio is -- was at the time about 70 per cent of Muslims and about 30 per
22 cent of Croats, because that was the ethnic composition of the population
23 in the areas such as Prijedor, Bosanska Dubica and some other areas in
24 north-western Bosnia.
25 JUDGE LIU: I'm sorry to interrupt you. I think your answer is
1 too long, and the Defence counsel will guide you question by question and
2 step by step. We will come to that point.
4 MR. SERIC: [Interpretation] Thank you very much, Mr. President,
5 but since the witness probably senses where my questions are going, he
6 now, in effect, answered ten of the questions that I wanted to ask him.
7 And thereby he speeded up the process.
8 Q. Can you please tell us how did the Republic of Croatia, and your
9 office, treat the refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina? Where was
10 accommodation found for them? Was there any difference in the way that
11 they were treated?
12 A. At first, they were housed in the buildings where the displaced
13 persons from Croatia were already housed. But in the spring of 1992, we
14 had already -- we already had no free accommodation left, and the number
15 of people coming from Bosnia and Herzegovina rose rapidly. As I already
16 said n March, we had slightly less than 20.000 refugees and only a month
17 later, we had 200.000 refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina, which means
18 that in just one month, almost 180.000 people came to Croatia, and then in
19 August, the figure rose to 370.000 refugees. This information is
20 completely the same as the information that can be obtained from the
21 international organisations, and in such conditions, it became very hard
22 to provide appropriate accommodation for all of them.
23 And then we started building several settlements or project --
24 housing projects in Croatia, several of them, with the assistance of the
25 international community and in coordination with the UNHCR. But according
1 to the law, they all had the same kind of treatment and they all had the
2 same rights.
3 Q. Mr. Zoric, we heard some witnesses say that their accommodation
4 in, for instance, on the island of Obonjan, they described it almost as a
5 camp of some sort. What is your knowledge of this?
6 MR. PORIOUVAEV: Objection. I have never heard any witness here
7 in the courtroom talking about Obonjan.
8 MR. KRSNIK: Yes, we have.
9 JUDGE LIU: Well, I think that refugee centre in that island was
10 mentioned in the direct examinations, in the Prosecution's case, but I
11 don't remember whether it is described as a camp of some sort. And
12 Mr. Seric, maybe you could ask a general question to this witness about
13 the situations in that refugee centre on that island?
14 MR. SERIC: [Interpretation] Yes, that's exactly what I will do.
15 It's really simpler that way.
16 Q. Can you describe for us what was the accommodation like and in
17 particular what was the accommodation like on the island of Obonjan?
18 A. I can describe it for you, but I agree with all those who say that
19 being a refugee is not something nice. It is a very difficult position to
20 find yourself in. These are the people who have been expelled and because
21 of some great tragedy or suffering or fear, they had to find refuge
22 somewhere else. I heard people say that we organised -- that we set up a
23 camp but this is something that really makes no sense because there is a
24 very big difference between a person coming to a place of his own free
25 will, seeking refuge, and on the other hand a person who is brought
1 somewhere by force. And forced to go there. We were not happy that these
2 people had come and that we had to take care of them.
3 MR. PORIOUVAEV: Your Honour, again, the time frame, when? Which
4 is the period of time the witness is talking about? 1992, 1993 or maybe
6 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Seric, you may ask some questions specifying
7 the time frame for us.
8 MR. SERIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, the witness did specify
9 it a few questions ago, he said -- he specified the exact time when about
10 370.000 refugees had come to Croatia from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and he
11 said that it was in 1993 in April?
12 A. Well, it was in 1992 already.
13 Q. Yes, but this figure was valid for 1993. But he can repeat it.
14 Please do, sir.
15 A. In spring of 1992, in March, 1992, we had slightly less than
16 20.000 refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina, from the areas where the
17 Bosnian Serbs had expelled people because they organised their SAO
18 Krajinas there, the Serbian autonomous regions of Krajina. And only a
19 month later, the figure rose to 200.000 people. And by August, the figure
20 was 370.000 people. This figure shows the -- how fast their number rose,
21 and I think that it also corresponds to the period when the military
22 operations in that area intensified, as the weather got better the war got
23 worse and escalated. We who had to deal with this, who had to take care
24 of about 300.000 people who were internally displaced in the Republic of
25 Croatia, this put us in a very difficult situation where we had to do the
1 impossible. All the more so because at the beginning, we did not have any
2 international assistance in this regard. The representatives of the
3 international communities, I do not want to belittle their contribution,
4 but I think that I'm telling the truth if I say that at first they came in
5 small delegations and they saw the way the situation was, and they merely
6 reported to their headquarters, and these people had to be housed, they
7 had to be fed, they had to receive medical treatment, their children had
8 to it attend school. And this entire logistics had to be organised. We
9 would not have been able to do so had we not had the great solidarity of
10 the population, the population showed great solidarity. The entire areas
11 close to the border --
12 JUDGE LIU: Yes?
13 MR. PORIOUVAEV: Your Honour it seems to me that we are getting
14 too far away from the Obonjan island.
15 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Seric. If you have any further questions
16 concerning of the Obonjan island, please proceed.
17 MR. SERIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I have a slightly
18 different temperament from Mr. Krsnik, but Mr. Prosecutor asked the
19 witness to go back and to go through his whole testimony right from the
20 beginning, and now he is dictating to me, he is telling me how to conduct
21 my examination and to go straight back to Obonjan. I think he may be
22 right, but at any rate, he wanted to intervene when I wanted to ask a
23 question about Obonjan, he wanted to hear about the time frame, but at any
24 rate, can you please tell us what were the housing conditions at the -- on
25 the island of Obonjan? What were the transportation links from the island
1 to the main land? What was it like?
2 A. It is not a large island. It is located near Sibenik, off the
3 coast near Sibenik. There was a boy scouts camp there. I think it was an
4 international camp because it was called the seventh continent. There
5 were some buildings where we could house these people. There was an
6 outpatient clinic, there was the kitchen. And there were also some
7 buildings where people could be housed, at least in the summer. There was
8 a -- even a theatre, and other things that are necessary for social life.
9 There was even a swimming pool. But as soon as the people were housed
10 there, we immediately started building permanent housing so that, as early
11 as in autumn, the permanent solid housing existed on the island. We did
12 it in cooperation with the German government. And the people from the
13 doctors without borders, it's a French organisation of physicians, and
14 some other organisations that I cannot recall at this moment, they worked
15 together with us, right from the beginning. And the representatives from
16 the UNHCR also went there.
17 At first, because of the war which was being waged in Sibenik at
18 the time in 1991, the local transportation services were abandoned. They
19 no longer existed. But however, we insisted that boat line be
20 re-established. And this service exists to this day. And at our request,
21 the service was established. The vessel was not large. It could
22 accommodate perhaps 50 to 60 people but that's the same boat that connects
23 the main land with all the other islands in this area. So you could not
24 put 1.000 people on a boat and make it possible for them to go to the
25 mainland to the town, and to see a movie. Perhaps 30 of them could go.
1 But they were not tourists, they were refugees.
2 Q. Mr. Zoric, was there a decree or a law regulating the rights of
3 the refugees? And was it valid for everybody in a systematic manner?
4 A. At first there was a decree that was passed by the government and
5 it was used as the foundation for the law regulating this very issue. The
6 legal advisers of the international organisations, primarily the UNHCR,
7 helped us to harmonise the terminology and the standards with the
8 international standards when drafting this law, and this law was passed
9 even before the escalation of the refugee crisis. I mean the refugees
10 from Bosnia-Herzegovina. The law regulated the rights of the refugees and
11 displaced persons to care in the same way. The only difference is that in
12 legal terms, there was a difference or a distinction between the displaced
13 persons, internally displaced persons, and the refugees, persons who had
14 come from another state. There were refugees from Serbia, from Kosovo,
15 from Bosnia-Herzegovina, and regardless of the part of Bosnia and
16 Herzegovina that they came from, they were always treated as refugees.
17 But the rights that they enjoyed were the same as the rights of the
18 Croatian citizens who had been expelled from the occupied areas. They
19 were entitled to accommodation, food, education primary medical care, and
20 in cases of life and death, I think --
21 Q. Mr. Zoric, where did the funds come from?
22 A. The only reliable source of funds was the Croatian budget, and
23 about 85 per cent of the needed funds came from the budget, and about 15
24 per cent came from international sources, that is donations and the
25 international organisations. Donations were something that came from time
1 to time and were of a rather limited scope, and these people had to live
2 every day, and care for them of course cost every day. The biggest shock
3 for me personally, when I did that, came sometime in early 1992 when we
4 had to organise funerals for some of these people, because there were also
5 people who died as refugees, especially if they were old or sick. And
6 there was no humanitarian organisation which would assume upon itself to
7 cover those costs. In Zagreb most of these people were put up and it was
8 about 15 per cent of the Zagreb population, and in Zagreb, as in every
9 large city, funeral is a very costly matter. Now, the question arises
10 where to find cemeteries for these people? The question arises of
11 respecting their religious beliefs and traditions. Hardly any one of them
12 would agree to cremation because they all somehow lived confident that
13 they would eventually be buried back in their local cemeteries. But it
14 was all very expensive and in such -- under such circumstances, the only
15 reliable source of funds is the budget. As far as I know, the Republic of
16 Croatia spent about 1.6 billion dollars, American dollars, for these
17 particular purposes. Of that, about half a billion for refugees.
18 Q. Mr. Zoric, did Croatia send humanitarian aid to Bosnia and
19 Herzegovina, both for Croats and Muslims?
20 A. Yes. I personally did that. Not only for humanitarian but also
21 for practical reasons, because we knew that it was better to support those
22 people so that they could stay in their own country rather than come to us
23 and be dependent on our care, especially since we were fast learners and
24 understood that there was also a war in human beings. After shelling,
25 they would also send you usually 15 or 20.000 people so as to produce
1 chaos in the rear. And it was not easy to help all those people and that
2 is why we thought it was much better to help them in places where they
3 already lived. Of course the other reason for that was the humanitarian
4 one. We were witness to the great relief and understanding that people
5 from other countries showed towards us and we thought that we should also
6 help the needy in our turn, and I personally took some convoys into some
7 parts of BH, not only to those populated by Croats but also to those
8 inhabited by Muslims, and after all, if you are moving through mixed
9 areas, taking food along, then it is only logical that all sides will
10 expect you to help them, and we did that.
11 Q. Mr. Zoric, can you tell us and especially Their Honours something
12 about the registration of refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina in the Republic
13 of Croatia and in particular with regard to men of military age?
14 A. A person who would find himself or herself in our territory would
15 apply to the nearest office to be registered, and then would be issued
16 papers, identity papers showing their status. We could not differentiate
17 between able-bodied men of military men, of non-able bodied, because the
18 law and a realistic fear of war to also be a reason for the recognition of
19 the status. That is what the international conventions stipulate. But
20 representatives of the Muslim side in Sarajevo, in the course of talks
21 in Zagreb, and that included Mr. Izetbegovic, regularly demanded from us
22 not to receive -- not to grant the refugee status to any able-bodied men.
23 And then there would be some -- then media or religious representatives or
24 somehow else, they invited them to join the struggle for the freedom of
25 their country, but we, our office, could not deny them this status and we
1 did not do that. And after all, one can see it from the rosters of these
2 people, because these were not only women and children, there were also
3 men, that is families as often as not, and we often worked to bring
4 families together.
5 Q. Do you know in your offices work and your personal work, were
6 there any members of the BH Army in Croatia who were either refugees or
7 receiving treatment after wounding?
8 A. Yes, there were such. My office had a large warehouse at the
9 Zagreb fair grounds, and an adjacent pavilion, or rather an adjacent hall,
10 served as a warehouse for -- as Bosnian Muslim logistics warehouse. And
11 it involved civilians and their highest religious representatives in
12 Croatia and in Sarajevo. They were collecting everything from food on.
13 But we were also aware that there were other things there. And as for the
14 treatment? The -- an overwhelming majority of the members of the Bosnian
15 army was treated in Sarajevo, no, excuse me, in Split, because that would
16 be natural point of destination as the only point of entry into or exit
17 from Bosnia was towards the Croatian coast. On the other hand, throughout
18 the siege of Bihac, and it was under siege for several years, all the
19 logistics came from Zagreb. That is from the Zagreb airport. Helicopters
20 took off every day to take into that area all the basic necessities for
21 these people and there were about 50.000 people in that enclave under
22 siege. So you can imagine the logistics bridge, this air lift, which was
23 provided supplying them with both weapons and food and fuel and all the
24 rest they needed to survive for almost three years of an encirclement, and
25 I know that several helicopters of that kind unfortunately were brought
1 down and with tragic consequences.
2 Q. Can you give us the time frame for this last thing?
3 A. Well, this went on all the time, between 1995 -- until the
4 liberation, until the Croatian Army joined forces with the federation
5 army, on the Croatian-Bosnian border near Plitvice, that is until 1995.
6 Q. Mr. Zoric, can you tell us, but in a sentence or two, the
7 structure of refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina? Can you give us a
8 couple of figures, some statistics, if you please?
9 A. In the beginning, the largest number of refugees from
10 Bosnia-Herzegovina were Muslims, Bosniaks, about 70 per cent of them, and
11 a little less, about 30 per cent, were Croats. And a small, small -- and
12 the others, including some Serbs, accounted for the rest, but a very small
13 percentage. Later on, the number of Muslims -- the share of Muslims
14 dropped but the overall number increased, so that it was about half-half,
15 50-50. One half came from the areas which are more or less the Serb
16 entities of BH and the other half came from the areas which today roughly,
17 more or less, represent the federation that is the Croat-Bosniak entity.
18 From 1993, and especially from 1994 onward, when some front lines had
19 already stabilised, some people returned to BH, but most of them had
20 already gone to other countries, mostly to third countries, mostly West
21 European countries, because those countries took in certain quotas of
22 people. And in view of a large number of migrants from the former
23 country, who had been living -- who have already been living in western
24 Europe, many of them just took in other relations so that after three or
25 four months in Croatia, those refugees usually went on, as a rule to
1 Germany but also to other countries, the Netherlands, Norway, a little
2 less to other countries. And I assumed, that is one of the reasons why
3 people on Obonjan felt a little isolated. Let me go back to that
4 because it wasn't so easy for them perhaps to communicate with
5 representatives of international organisations as those who were in
6 Zagreb, say, or in Split. And that was why we asked the UNHCR, and it was
7 on that, to send a representative and they also opened a small office
8 there. Apart from that, if I may, and I wish to mention this, after this
9 facility was vacated, that is when the war ended and when the refugees
10 left, this island -- I mean all the accommodation facilities there have
11 been converted to a foreign languages centre and I gave you a publication
12 which shows what kind of activities are pursued there today, and these are
13 all the facilities that once accommodated refugees. This document, this
14 publication, I was given by my son who brought it from his school, and he
15 will also go there this summer.
16 Q. Thank you very much. We will tender it later on. I believe this
17 is now time for the break, Mr. Zoric.
18 MR. SERIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, we can continue after the
20 JUDGE LIU: Yes, I think it's time for the break. Since we have
21 only one accused this afternoon, we will have 20 minutes' break. We will
22 resume at ten to 4.00.
23 --- Recess taken at 3.30 p.m.
24 --- On resuming at 3.51 p.m.
25 JUDGE LIU: Yes. Could we have the witness, please?
1 Yes, Mr. Seric?
2 MR. SERIC: [Interpretation] [no interpretation].
3 THE REGISTRAR: English translation?
4 THE INTERPRETER: One, two, three? Is it better?
5 MR. SERIC: [Interpretation] It's all right. It seems there was
6 some problem with the interpretation. Now it's all right.
7 Q. Can you tell us, you told us about accommodation conditions. Now,
8 can you tell us what do you know about the quantity, quality and the
9 manner of food preparation for refugees, in particular preparation of food
10 for Muslim Bosniaks, refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina?
11 A. When the crisis escalated in a month, in some facilities they
12 became a majority. And then some of them began to request that food be
13 prepared for them in a different way, in conformity with their customs.
14 And they also had, of course, their hygienic habits were different, and we
15 of course had to respect that whenever we could. And that is how we began
16 to open new facilities to put the Bosniak refugees. They themselves
17 opened some of these facilities through their organisations, their mother
18 country, cooperatives, Merhamet, their charity organisation, and we then
19 took in those we could. Some of these facilities did not meet even the
20 basic, the minimum, standards of hygiene so that we closed them down and
21 accommodated refugees elsewhere, so that some of these facilities which
22 sprang up practically overnight in some parts of Zagreb, we moved those
23 refugees to Varazdin for instance, where we refurbished a barracks or
24 rather two large barracks for that particular purpose.
25 Q. Mr. Zoric, did religious -- were religious communities active
1 among the refugees? And did they provide religious services for Bosniak
3 A. Yes. One of such organisations, international organisations, was
4 Igasa this is an international Islamic -- international organisations.
5 There were others too but this was one of the bigger ones, and Merhamet
6 also did that. And in many facilities, they had their makeshift praying
7 facilities, or we would set aside a building for that, and they also had
8 their own schools with curricula of their choice. And whenever possible,
9 we endeavoured to integrate school children in the regular schooling
10 system of our country, so that all refugee children, that is I do not know
11 of any case, of any child, not being in school. All the children
12 regularly attended school in the Republic of Croatia so that in Zagreb and
13 a number of larger places, we had classes which were almost twice as
14 required by the educational standards. We simply filled the class rooms
15 to capacity. But all the children were incorporated, all the children had
16 education provided for them, and in those places where the teachers were
17 refugees themselves, we helped them start their own supplementary classes
18 or schools where they could instruct children in those specific particular
19 subjects which could not be provided, which could not be taught by our
20 teachers. There were several such schools, and to all intents and
21 purposes in every refugee centre you could find such a school.
22 Q. Let us now focus on the period of the conflict between the BH Army
23 and the Croat Defence Council in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
24 What was the -- how did the institutions of the Republic of Croatia, and
25 your office, treat Bosniaks, Muslims, during the conflict?
1 A. Our attitude did not change, during some periods of time, perhaps
2 there were some additional psychological burden, and that would apply
3 particularly to refugees, but basically, the -- our attitude did not
4 change. They were received in Croatia throughout, and they were taken
5 care of in an identical way.
6 Q. What was their attitude towards institutions, the office and the
7 other institutions of the Croatian state?
8 A. Well, sometimes there were some quite funny situations, where the
9 refugees somehow supported one side or the other because there were
10 members of various ethnic communities involved in the conflict housed in
11 the same location. Sometimes these -- this caused tensions among them and
12 we sometimes had situations when husbands who would come to visit their
13 families during the weekend would spend time in the same housing facility
14 and then they would go back to their original homes and continue to fight
15 each other. Sometimes we had some offending or derogatory attitude but
16 that's life. We tried to provide the same level of care in accordance
17 with our legal and humane obligations. We never had any objections lodged
18 by any major international organisations protesting against any violations
19 of the refugee rights. Quite the contrary. We always received
20 commendations from the international organisations saying we really did
21 our job well. And the international communities at the time that dealt
22 with this issue were mostly staffed by the people who had experience from
23 various other crises in Asia, South America, Africa and so on so perhaps
24 they were really able to make a comparison with our situation.
25 Q. Thank you very much. What do you know about the political
1 activities of the refugees, Bosniak Muslims in Croatia? Were they able to
2 participate in any parties or any other organisations? Were they able to
3 take part in the elections?
4 A. Throughout this time period, Zagreb was in fact more of the
5 capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina than Sarajevo itself, because Sarajevo
6 was isolated and Zagreb was not. So their entire communications with the
7 world went through Zagreb. Various representatives were located there,
8 and they had the full freedom of activity, be it humanitarian activity,
9 political activity, whatever they needed at any given point in time. And
10 they were able to conduct these activities through Zagreb. The entire
11 supply system went through Croatia. All the people got in and got out
12 through Croatia. There was a single bridge, to be more specific the only
13 bridge that linked the south and north. It was half torn down but all the
14 traffic went through that bridge across that bridge, and the traffic was
15 never halted. As for the political activities, in 1996, the first
16 post-war elections were held in Bosnia and Herzegovina under the auspices
17 of the OSCE, and one of the countries where the voting took place outside
18 of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, among the people who had left the
19 country, was Croatia. I was in charge of that operation. About 120.000
20 people registered to vote, and in accordance with the rules that were put
21 in place by the OSCE, politicians from various political parties were able
22 to visit places where refugees, a larger number of refugees were. Croats
23 or Muslims. Trying to persuade them to vote for them. And about 120.000
24 people took part in the elections. There were three major political
25 options that were presented to those people in Croatia. The political
1 parties of the -- the political party of the Croats in BiH, that is the
2 HDZ, and they visited areas where there were major concentrations of
3 Croats. As for the Muslims, there was the SDA party and the party led by
4 Mr. Abdic, the party that represented mostly people from the Cazin area.
5 And they indeed got most of the votes in the elections. So they were able
6 to conduct this type of activity. And at the end of the elections, our
7 government received the commendation and the expression of gratitude from
8 the then presiding or president of the OSCE, ambassador Falk [phoen].
9 Q. Dr. Zoric, do you know anything through your activities and the
10 activities of your office about the equipping and arming of the BH Army
11 members? I am talking about the period 1992-1993?
12 A. Yes, I do know that they had some training centres in Croatia.
13 Practically the first weapons they got they got the weapons from Croatia.
14 All of their logistics, all the aid that they received, including the
15 weapons, reached them through Croatia.
16 Q. Thank you very much. Dr. Zoric, in light of your introductory
17 statement when you introduced yourself to us, I would like to know
18 something about the issue of dual citizenship for Croats from Bosnia and
19 Herzegovina. What can you tell us about it?
20 A. According to the Croatian constitution, every Croat regardless of
21 where he or she lives is entitled to the Croatian citizenship. My brother
22 lives in America. He is a Croat citizen. And at the same time an
23 American citizen. Likewise, the Croats who do not have permanent
24 residence in Croatia, including those in Bosnia and Herzegovina, who are
25 citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, have the right to apply for the
1 Croatian citizenship and are usually given it. And there is also another
2 possibility. Croat citizens can also apply for the BH citizenship. I am
3 a Croatian citizen, a citizen of the Republic of Croatia and when my term
4 of office ended in Bosnia-Herzegovina, since I was born in that country, I
5 was entitled to apply for B H citizenship, and I did get that citizenship
6 so now I also have dual citizenship. I'm from Croatia and I have BH
7 citizenship and most of the Croats who live in BiH have Croat citizenship
8 too. That doesn't, however, apply only to Croats. I also know that large
9 number of Bosniaks and even Serbs from Banja Luka applied for and got
10 Croatian citizenship. And during my office, terms of office as an
11 ambassador, I often had to intervene in cases involving the application
12 for our citizenship for the family members of certain eminent persons from
13 Sarajevo or Banja Luka. And a substantial number of well-known public
14 figures applied for and got Croatian citizenship and they are able to
15 travel all over the world with their Croatian passports.
16 Q. Do you know, since you were born there and in light of the issue
17 of dual citizenship, were there any volunteers from Bosnia and
18 Herzegovina, especially from Herzegovina, in the Croatian Army in the
19 course of the aggression of the Serbs and the JNA against Croatia?
20 A. Yes, there were quite a few people, many people, who organised
21 themselves because Croatia at that time did not have an organised
22 structure to deal with it, who simply came en masse to various theatres of
23 war in Croatia, to Vukovar and also in the Dubrovnik theatre and to the
24 Zadar theatre, for instance. As time went by, and in light of the
25 historical developments, a large number of Croats from Bosnia and
1 Herzegovina emigrated to Croatia. My family is one of such families. And
2 in accordance -- according to the 1991 census in Croatia, about 492.000
3 inhabitants -- Croatian inhabitants had originally come from Bosnia and
4 Herzegovina, were of BH origin. And the war brought so many other people
5 to Croatia. So the links were already close in the former state, in the
6 former Yugoslavia. The peoples were integrated. They were in a way
7 always going towards the centres of their own republics. So it was quite
8 logical for people from the Croatian areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina to
9 study in Zagreb or in Split and not in Sarajevo. And also some Serbs from
10 Croatia, in fact the majority of them preferred to study in Belgrade than
11 in Zagreb. It was some kind of an integration. People were trying to get
12 integrated into the life of their own people, nation, not of their own
13 republic. So there was this strong sense of belonging to one people, to a
14 single people. And then when the aggression began, people really came en
15 masse to defend the Republic of Croatia.
16 Q. Do you know what happened to them after the Serbian side and the
17 JNA attacked Bosnia and Herzegovina?
18 A. When UNPROFOR came to Croatia, after the signing of the Sarajevo
19 declaration, I think it was on the 3rd of January, 1992, these theatres of
20 war stabilised more or less so that by March, by the spring, the war had
21 already moved to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the substantial number of
22 these people went back. You have to bear in mind that these people --
23 that the entire families lived on various addresses. Would you live in
24 Bosnia and Herzegovina, your brother would be in Zagreb or in Split so one
25 and the same family, members of one and the same family lived in two
1 states. So it was quite logical for people to go back and to defend the
2 areas where they were from. As a lay person in military terms it was
3 quite ridiculous for me to -- when I heard people insist on going to fight
4 as volunteers to their own village because they felt that they would be
5 able to protect their village and prevent the village from being taken.
6 They didn't have any military knowledge. And they failed to see that
7 there were various methods of capturing territory. But at the beginning
8 there was this strong sense that everybody should go back to their own
9 villages and defend their own area. So they all went back and a large
10 number of them went back, and defended their homeland. As for myself, it
11 would be quite hard for me to define where my homeland is. I've lived in
12 Zagreb for almost 30 years. But Bosnia and Herzegovina is also my
14 Q. Dr. Zoric you were the ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to
15 Bosnia-Herzegovina. In which period was that?
16 A. I was the ambassador from February 1999 until November 2000.
17 Q. When you were the ambassador representing the interests of the
18 Republic of Croatia there, what was the state structure that you found in
19 Bosnia and Herzegovina?
20 A. Well, to be quite frank, it was rather strange, but it wasn't
21 something that we could do anything about. It was a state composed of two
22 entities. One of the entities is very much centralised and has all the
23 state attributes, has all the instances, the parliament, the President of
24 the republic, the vice-president. Its own customs, the military. So it
25 has all the instruments that a state needs to have. It's highly
1 centralised. And it belonged to only one people in Bosnia and
2 Herzegovina, that's the Republika Srpska. And the return of the refugees
3 to this area went quite slow, and until this day, there hasn't been much
4 progress made in this respect. A large number of people has been unable
5 to return. So it's a centralised structure called the entity. Its name
6 is the Republika Srpska on the one hand. And on the other hand there is
7 an entity that belongs to it two peoples, Bosniaks and Muslims, Bosniaks
8 and Croats. That's how it was defined. It is very decentralised. It's
9 comprises ten or so cantons. Some of them are mononational, belong to
10 only one people, and some cantons belong to both peoples and they had
11 special administrative arrangements. They also had their own judiciary.
12 Its own government, its own military, which has two components. The
13 Federation armed forces consisted of the BH Army as the Bosniak component,
14 and the Croatian Defence Council as the Croatian component. Now they are
15 in the joints armed forces of the Federation so that when you take all
16 that together, it was a rather unusual state structure. At the same time,
17 the state had the high representative of the international community who
18 in effect run -- ran the country, and the closest parallel in the history
19 of states would be a monarch an enlightened absolutist monarch who was
20 able to suspend the decisions of the parliament, of the government, to
21 remove from the office members of the Presidency, which the Presidency I
22 mean had the representatives of the three peoples, two elected from one
23 entity and one from the other entity. So it was a very strange
24 structure. It is the country that has the largest number of ministers in
25 the world. I think that they had at that time about 160 ministers because
1 every canton had its own government. It was a structure that has not been
2 recorded in modern history of statehood. So it was a country that --
3 where everybody wanted that state to -- that situation to change. But the
4 problem was that the three different sides used the same terms that had
5 entirely different meanings for them. When a Bosniak says "Sarajevo" he
6 means his capital and all that such a town would symbolise, but for Serbs,
7 that meant something entirely different, when they say "capital" that's
8 Banja Luka. Sarajevo can be a large city that is an administrative
9 centre. For Croats, the term "capital" would mean something entirely
10 different. So when a Bosniak says "Bosnia and Herzegovina," he or she,
11 they do not mean the same thing that Croats do when they say "Bosnia and
12 Herzegovina" or when Serbs say the same word. So the same terms had very,
13 very different meanings.
14 Q. Mr. Zoric, when you took on the office of the ambassador, who did
15 you give your credentials to in Sarajevo?
16 A. At that time, I gave my credentials to the member of the
17 Presidency, Jelavic who stood in for the Serbian member of the
18 Presidency, Mr. Radisic, who for some reason was absent from Sarajevo. I
19 don't know what the reason was. But at any rate, the three members, all
20 three members of the Presidency had equal rights and they could stand in
21 for each other. As the ambassador to Croatia, of course I got my approval
22 from that country and it was signed by all three members of the
23 Presidency, Croat, Serb and Bosniak.
24 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Seric, those questions are very interesting,
25 and we know the present situation in that country, but I wonder whether
1 it's related to this case. Ask some more concentrated questions which are
2 directly related to this case.
3 MR. SERIC: [Interpretation] Well, I only have three more
4 questions, so I will be concluding my examination quite soon any way. I
5 think key could perhaps shed some light in retrospect to the relation of
6 the Croats to the situation in 1993 and in 1995, after the Washington
7 Agreements and in fact, to this very day, because according to the
8 indictment, Croatia had tried to partition Bosnia and Herzegovina
9 throughout this period, and to annex parts of that country to Croatia, but
10 at any rate, I will continue with my examination.
11 Q. In light of your humanitarian work did you receive any
12 commendations or any signs of gratitude from Bosniaks for your work?
13 A. Yes, I did. If I knew that it would become such an important
14 issue I would have kept more of them. I got some from Bosniaks, some from
15 Croats and some that were given to me jointly.
16 Q. Did you meet Alija Izetbegovic?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. What were your relations with Alija Izetbegovic or official
19 relations through you from -- between Zagreb and Mr. Izetbegovic?
20 A. Very good, and very fair. Just as they are supposed to be between
21 statesmen and an ambassador accredited to that state. Unlike other
22 ambassadors, I met with him quite often and with other members of the
23 Presidency, either together or separately, because at that time it was a
24 period of very lively activity because we signed a number of agreements,
25 annexes to agreements that were signed pursuant to the Dayton peace
1 accords because it was signed just after I came into office. That was the
2 agreement on the special relations between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the
3 Republic of Croatia, and on the basis of this agreement, which was in
4 itself based on the Dayton peace accords, more than 30 annexes had to be
5 drafted regulating some issues of mutual interest, from cross border
6 cooperation, the issue of transport, traffic, trade, assistance in cases
7 of natural disasters, and a number of other agreements. So I had to meet
8 members of the Presidency quite often, and I cooperated with them very --
9 it was a very fair relation, and also with the members of the government
10 of the federation, the majority of them were Bosniaks, but I was able to
11 cooperate with them very well, and I had fond memories of these two years.
12 Q. Do you know that the then president of the Republic of Croatia,
13 Franjo Tudjman, awarded a decoration to Alija Izetbegovic and Haris
14 Silajdzic, do you know when and how?
15 A. It was done before I came into office when the two states signed
16 an agreement on friendship and cooperation, and Mr. Izetbegovic received
17 the highest order. I think it is called the Order of King Dmitar Zvonimir
18 with a sash. It is the highest decoration that is awarded only to
19 statesmen. And this was covered by the media. It was on TV quite often.
20 So myself, like all the other citizens, I was able to see that. I think
21 it happened in Split, in the beginning of 1995. And I think that Mr.
22 Haris Silajdzic was also awarded this decoration because he was the Prime
23 Minister of Bosnia-Herzegovina at the time.
24 Q. Mr. Zoric, thank you very much.
25 MR. SERIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I don't have any further
2 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Krsnik, any direct examination?
3 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Just a few questions, Mr. President.
4 I think that some things perhaps need to be clarified. But my colleague
5 mostly asked all the questions that I wanted to ask.
6 Examined by Mr. Krsnik:
7 Q. First of all, Mr. Zoric, for all the international activities and
8 the passing of the decisions and all the decisions relevant for
9 international law, who is in charge -- who is entitled to pass such
10 decisions in the Republic of Croatia? If this is not too difficult a
11 question for you in legal terms, because I have to be quite general.
12 A. There was the constitutional and legal jurisdiction for the
13 executive decision. It was the government. But all the agreements had to
14 be ratified by the Croatian diet, the parliament, so all the international
15 agreements had to be ratified by the Croatian diet, and a number of these
16 agreements, that pertained --
17 JUDGE LIU: Yes?
18 MR. PORIOUVAEV: It seems to me that Mr. Krsnik's question is not
19 relevant to the case at all. We are too far away from the issue.
20 JUDGE LIU: Well, maybe this question is not relevant. Maybe he
21 will follow up a question which is relevant to this case. Let us hear
22 what is the follow-up question.
23 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours. Precisely.
24 Q. So does the President of the state and the party that -- in the
25 Republic of Croatia is able -- are they able to make a decision such as
1 the decision to send the military forces to another state without the
2 approval of the parliament?
3 A. No. Before the.
4 MR. PORIOUVAEV: I wonder if our witness has a legal background
5 just to give evidence on purely legal issues. I object.
6 JUDGE LIU: Well, this witness is a member of the parliament. He
7 could testify in that capacity of the decisions adopted during that
8 period. I think this is the qualification for this witness who testified
9 on this question. Of course, this Tribunal will weigh the evidence given
10 by this witness in the later stage.
11 Yes, Mr. Krsnik.
12 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
13 Q. Witness, it is claimed here that the President Tudjman and the HDZ
14 made the decision to send the Croatian Army to Bosnia and Herzegovina in
15 order to annex the HZ HB to Croatia. Even if they had wanted to do that,
16 could they have done that without the approval of the parliament?
17 A. The statement of the high representative of the UN in Sarajevo,
18 General Klein was disseminated quite recently. He reminded the public
19 about various offers from the then Bosniak leadership to President Tudjman
20 to take Herzegovina and to let the rest of BiH go its own way. As you
21 know, this highly credible, and I think respectable, person does not talk
22 out of turn, and he also stated, I think it was about a month ago, that
23 the offer was rejected, that it was never accepted. And also, we have
24 some recent statements by President Izetbegovic and his associates that
25 this was just a tactical move to embroil Croatia in another type of game
1 where, in my mind at least, it would never, ever be able to liberate its
2 own occupied territories, Vukovar and Knin because some other principles
3 would have applied in that case. Had Croatia done something like that in
4 Bosnia-Herzegovina, how then would it have been able to liberate its own
5 territories that were held by Serbs at the time?
6 Q. According to your knowledge, did the Croatian parliament ever
7 discuss or make any decisions authorising the Croatian Army to enter
8 Bosnia and Herzegovina?
9 A. No. Quite clearly no.
10 Q. Questions are asked here about ranks. Was the Croatian diet
11 responsible for adopting a law on ranks in the Croatian Army?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. And when was this law passed?
14 A. Well, I'm not a military man so I would not be able to give you an
15 exact answer but I believe it was rather early, that is sometime in 1992
16 that this matter was regulated by law. Croatia once a republic in a
17 different state, it did not have its own army. The army of the former
18 country was predominantly Serb and when non-Serb members left it, it
19 became completely Serb. It sided with Milosevic, so that in 1991, Croatia
20 had to create its own army, and it was formed from some three elements.
21 On one hand from those men who joined in and who in the early operations
22 were volunteers, and who showed their value. And on the other hand, there
23 were also people who came out from the former JNA, who were therefore
24 designated to certain posts in that new army.
25 Q. I'm asking you this because --
1 JUDGE LIU: Witness, I have to remind you to slow down because
2 whatever you say will be translated in into the other two languages. The
3 interpreters were far behind you.
4 Yes, Mr. Krsnik.
5 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Thank you.
6 Q. I asked you this because it is suggested here that the ranks in
7 the Croatian Army were given to people without any military education
8 simply because they were close to the policies, be it of President Tudjman
9 or the HDZ. Who is it that -- who were people who were conferred the
10 ranks by the decision of the Croatian parliament?
11 A. There were many, many people but President Tudjman was the
12 commander of the army by definition and as any Supreme Commander he would
13 select his command staff, but basically, people who in 1991 participated
14 in the war and had success in that war first doing it without any ranks,
15 later on there were also conferred upon certain ranks. A large number of
16 people got those ranks some of them were reserve ranks but not all the
17 ranks had to do with the military. They could belong to the military
18 medical personnel. They could be administrative, personnel and so on and
19 so forth.
20 Q. Perhaps we -- there is discerning with us, but was there a law, a
21 decision taken by the diet conferring ranks upon people who were not
22 members of the army, such as, for instance, the leader of your opposition
24 A. Yes, but he was a member of the government, and as a member of
25 the cabinet, he was conferred a rank because it was a wartime government
1 and it was somehow deemed that everybody who was at war and everybody who
2 had to do something with the war should also have a military rank. And
3 the same then held true of the -- of the President of my former party.
4 Q. And two more questions, --
5 A. But excuse me, one cannot really say that the ranks were conferred
6 upon people because of some closeness to. These were important matters,
7 and these things were visible. They were visible to everybody. The whole
8 public was aware of that. Nobody could be appointed high military officer
9 without its meeting with its reflection in the public. So these things
10 were not -- so these were serious matters and I suppose were treated as
11 such. After all our former president of the republic was a military man
12 himself. He had the highest military rank in the former army, so that he
13 was a very strict person, and I really doubt that it might happen
14 anything, that any slipshod decisions, any sloppy moves, could have been
15 made in this area.
16 Q. When you mean the former president, you mean?
17 A. I mean President Tudjman who was the youngest general at the time
18 when Yugoslavia was liberated from fascism. He was the youngest Tito's
19 general so he had military experience behind him. He was the head of the
20 personnel department in Belgrade for a number of years, and he therefore
21 knew very well, he had to know, he could not but know the procedure and I
22 do not -- I'm not aware of any case that perhaps military rank was
23 conferred upon somebody who did not deserve it. After all, all these
24 matters were very serious and it was thank to his skills he won this war,
25 which was not all that easy and there were many people who were saying
1 that it would crumble away in two or three weeks time because he had to
2 confront an army which was the fourth strongest army in Europe and in 1991
3 we didn't have all that many weapons, but I know this is an old story, I
4 do not know whether we have to start this story all over again but Croatia
5 was disarmed at the time.
6 Q. [Interpretation] You mentioned the dual citizenship,
7 since were you an ambassador, do you know how many Muslim Bosniaks
8 obtained Croatian nationality and this especially applies to high SDA
10 A. A very large number of people were granted that nationality in
11 Sarajevo. One might speak even of several thousand such individuals, and
12 members of their families, after all, spent the war, the years, the war
13 years, and that -- I mean members of families of high officials, be it
14 state or military, lived in Zagreb, and the very fact that they spent five
15 years in Croatia already entitled them to the Croatian nationality. Many
16 of them applied for it and were given it, not only a large number of
17 politicians but also public figures, sportsmen, media stars and so on and
18 so forth.
19 Q. And what about ordinary people?
20 A. Well, much larger numbering of ordinary people. Much larger
21 number. One could speak perhaps about 30 or so thousand people.
22 Q. And at the time of elections in Croatia, and I mean Bosniak
23 Muslims with Croatian nationality can they participate in the Croatian
25 A. Every national may participate in the elections because that is
1 one of the fundamental rights. When the elections are taking place
2 abroad, then the poling stations are at places agreed with the relevant
3 state. In Bosnia-Herzegovina we organised these elections at the time
4 when I was the ambassador there by getting the consent, by getting the
5 consent of the Presidency of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina and those
6 elections were organised in various official places, that is in the
7 embassy, in consular offices, so that we have a large number of our
8 citizens, of our nationals, and for practical reasons we requested such a
9 consent. We simply sought authorisation to be provided with additional
10 polling stations in order to avoid crowding.
11 Q. Right, right. The answer is important. They could vote. They
12 could vote there in the elections held in the Republic of Croatia?
13 A. Yes, that's right. Yes.
14 Q. And the other way around?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. And my final question. Perhaps I wasn't all that clear in the
17 beginning. Namely -- of course it was not deliberate. When I said that
18 you perhaps personally would have some knowledge of the presidential
19 transcript, my question is whether you talked to people who were
20 representatives of the diet boards or members of the government, why, and
21 when was the decision taken to place all these documents, all these
22 transcripts, under seal?
23 A. On a couple of occasions, I talked with, for instance,
24 representative of the board for the home affairs and security in the
25 diet. She is my personal friend and I know that everybody was upset about
1 what was happening and that the coalition majority and the same holds true
2 of the then opposition, that is representatives of the former power and
3 amongst all of them, the opinion prevailed that law ought to be respected
4 in the case of those papers, and that in some cases, when such papers
5 appeared in public, that the judiciary in Croatia did not recognise their
6 legal validity because their authenticity was not proven. I have no way
7 of knowing that, but I know that people who were called upon to decide
8 about that were very upset by it all and that is why it was decided that
9 the law should be respected strictly and a procedure was prescribed
10 concerning the storage of those documents in the Croatian state archives,
11 and also, a special commission was appointed to then regulate the
12 treatment of those documents and I believe this commission operates at the
13 level of the government.
14 JUDGE LIU: Yes.
15 MR. PORIOUVAEV: Your Honour, maybe the witness will clarify
16 when it happened?
17 JUDGE LIU: Yes. The question has been asked. When was this
18 decision taken?
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] That decision was taken last year.
20 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation]
21 Q. But the law on the archival -- on the archives acts, what was it?
22 A. I think it has been in force since 1993 and if not since 1993,
23 then there is another law regulating, stipulating that all the legal
24 matters with the Croatia has failed to resolve by itself in its parliament
25 as an independent state that in all such cases it would adopt the former
1 legislation that is the legislation of the former state so that one can
2 take it that from the very beginning, Croatia, as this matter has been
3 regulated legally, even in the new state because Croatia took over and
4 adopted all the legislation of the former state which was not contrary to
5 its own legislation. So that there were no problems. There was an
6 archives law which existed throughout the existence of the state.
7 Q. And my last and final question. If I told you -- if I told you
8 that these transcripts turned up before this Court, could they turn up
9 against the will and wishes of the diet or the government in conformity
10 with the law?
11 A. They could not turn up here if it was not done in a manner
12 prescribed by law, and I do not know if that is the case. There is a
13 procedure and you should know it, I do not know it, perhaps you do I do
14 not know that but they could turn up here only if they were provided in
15 the legally prescribed manner.
16 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Thank you very much, Your Honours. I
17 have no further questions. No, no, I'm sorry. I've also forgotten, I
18 will now show you Exhibit D1/326 and D1/327. Could they please be given
19 to the parties?
20 MR. KRSNIK: Madam Registrar, we can do it with both immediately.
21 Q. [Interpretation] Witness, first exhibit, D1/326, this is the
22 colour one, can you tell the Court what is that?
23 A. This is the publication which I mentioned, and where school
24 children in Croatia are offered the summer school of foreign languages and
25 that summer school is organised on the village of Obonjan in the facility
1 where we used to accommodate refugees. These facilities were built for
2 the accommodation of refugees there. And as it looks and what these
3 buildings look like now, did they look like that when the refugees were
4 there? Well more or less, except of course they were painted because when
5 different people are there, I mean such buildings are pretty much ruined
6 but there were no architectural changes. This refugee centre was
7 refurbished, was furnished and organised, thanks to a special organisation
8 which is called Gemeinschaft Fuer Technische Zusammenarbeit from Germany.
9 It is a special office of the German government, and they helped us to do
10 that. And now it is very suited for children. And this is this
11 prospectus from the school. My son brought it to me because he wanted to
12 go there and I guess he will.
13 Q. And the other document, D1/327 it is in B/C/S as we call it here.
14 Can you tell us what it is about?
15 A. This is a letter of gratitude and is signed 9th of January, 1993,
16 and it has its official number. It was from the staff of the armed forces
17 in Maglaj of the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, because I had supplied them
18 with some food and other items for the defence. Maglaj is a place south
19 of Derventa or north of Zenica in the heart of Bosnia. And it was signed
20 by Brigadier Sulejman Herceg therefore one can assume that he was a
21 Bosniak. And Anto Marinac, commander of the HVO staff in Maglaj so
22 judging by the name he's a Croat from Bosnia. I have several of such
23 letters of gratitude but I have kept this one.
24 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Krsnik, as for those photos, I see little
25 probative values in this case. As for this letter, we need the
2 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, yes, of course, we
3 shall translate it, in problem. It's not a big problem. It is not a big
4 document. And as for Obonjan, I'm confused because a number of witnesses
5 spoke about Obonjan and called it a camp, and I will write a motion and
6 quote witnesses for the Prosecution who said that. And that is why I
7 brought these photographs, to show you what kind of camp is it, and I
8 wanted to tender it through this witness. That was the reason why I did
9 it. And there were several witnesses who spoke about that. And the
10 Prosecution is well aware of that.
11 Thank you very much for coming here and helping the Chamber to
12 come as close to the truth as possible. Thank you very much.
13 JUDGE LIU: Yes. Any cross-examination?
14 MR. PORIOUVAEV: Yes, Your Honour, but we have a couple of minutes
15 just to distribute our exhibits?
16 JUDGE LIU: Yes, please.
17 MR. MEEK: Mr. President, just a housekeeping matter I believe the
18 witness just spoke about D1/327 as being a letter of gratitude. And in
19 fact, that is in fact D1/326.
20 JUDGE LIU: Yes.
21 MR. MEEK: And the pictures are 1/327 so I just wanted to clear
22 the record up a little bit.
23 JUDGE LIU: Yes. Thank you very much.
24 Yes, you may proceed.
25 MR. PORIOUVAEV: Thank you, Your Honour.
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French
13 and English transcripts. Pages 11090 to 11102.
1 Cross-examined by Mr. Poriouvaev:
2 Q. Mr. Zoric, good afternoon, I'm trial attorney representing the
3 Prosecution and I've got some questions to you?
4 A. Good afternoon.
5 Q. Just to complete the story with these pictures, my question is:
6 When did the last refugee leave the Obonjan island?
7 A. As soon as the peek of the crisis was over. I'd say that in 1995,
8 they were all gone by that time. That particular accommodation facility
9 was used for a very short time, at least much less than a number of
11 Q. And when this famous camp was opened?
12 JUDGE LIU: What do you mean by --
13 MR. PORIOUVAEV:
14 Q. I mean the language camp, I'm sorry.
15 A. I don't know what you mean by camp.
16 Q. It is written here international, some language camp. That's why
17 I called it camp.
18 A. That was a refugee centre open at the time when the refugee crisis
19 in Croatia escalated. I already said that between March and April, we
20 received more than 200.000 people, and that the figure doubled over the
21 next two months, and then we had to open a number of such facilities
22 because that is where we could accommodate them.
23 JUDGE LIU: Witness, the question is a very simple one. That is
24 when this camp was opened -- I mean the language institute opened. Do you
25 know that?
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Oh, I'm sorry. I think it's been in
2 operation for several years. I'm not really sure. But that place, that
3 centre, existed throughout as a separate company. I mean it's an
4 institution. And then for a while, we used this institution to
5 accommodate people there, contrary to its original purpose, because we had
6 no where else to put them, but aware of the predicament of those people,
7 as soon as some other possibility presented itself, we took those people
8 to some better places.
9 MR. PORIOUVAEV:
10 Q. Thank you very much, Witness. I have no further questions
11 relevant to this picture.
12 Mr. Zoric, just one question so far in respect of presidential
13 transcripts. As far as I understood from your testimony, you were never
14 present when the transcript, presidential transcripts, were being drafted,
15 am I right?
16 A. I do not know what you mean, where they were drafted, when they
17 were made. I suppose I was not in such an office to be there, and I
18 simply do not know who made them.
19 Q. Okay. And you didn't have access to presidential transcripts, am
20 I right?
21 A. I think that nobody had access to presidential transcripts apart
22 from persons authorised by statute, and also there was never a need to
23 gain access to them, nor was there any knowledge about their existence.
24 These transcripts have become the subject of the day over the past two
1 Q. Now let us put aside this issue. We will return to it if we have
2 time in the beginning -- at the end of the cross-examination.
3 MR. PORIOUVAEV: Your Honour, I will try to focus myself on
4 Herzegovina issues, which are directly relevant to our case, because the
5 rest of the issues are very well covered by the witness in his direct
7 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Seric?
8 MR. SERIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. If it is
9 correct what my learned friend is saying, then I do not know how -- what
10 do -- does his cross-examination have to do with my direct examination?
11 In my direct examination, there was not a single question that concerned
12 the activities of Herceg-Bosna or humanitarian issues in Herceg-Bosna.
13 This man was not responsible for work with refugees and expelled persons
14 in Herceg-Bosna, but in Republic of Croatia, and my direct examination had
15 to do with that and only with that. So what is the foundation for the
16 cross-examination and when I go through this documents that were supplied
17 by the Prosecution, we see that all these documents have to do with the
18 work and operation of similar offices to the one in which Mr. Zoric worked
19 in Herceg-Bosna, and I do not know what could be the foundation for such
21 JUDGE LIU: Well, during the testimony, the witness said that he
22 was in charge of the overall humanitarian aid issues throughout that
23 period and throughout that territory, which might include the branch
24 office in Herzegovina. Let us see what kind of question the Prosecution
25 will concentrate on, and at the same time, I have to remind the Prosecutor
1 that your cross-examination should somehow relate to subject matter of
2 this case.
3 MR. PORIOUVAEV: Yes, Your Honour, I will do my best, and of
4 course I'm authorised to make questions according to rules of
5 cross-examination relevant to the credibility of a witness, and of course,
6 Herceg-Bosna is a part of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and some of the refugees
7 were from Herceg-Bosna, including refugees who were placed in Obonjan and
8 other refugee centres. That's why -- that's the foundation.
9 JUDGE LIU: Well, ask your question.
10 MR. PORIOUVAEV: Yes, Your Honour.
11 Q. Mr. Zoric, what exactly was your position called in the office of
12 displaced persons and refugees?
13 A. The office was called the office of the government of the Republic
14 of Croatia for displaced persons and refugees, and I was
16 Q. And who was the head of the office?
17 A. The head of the office was Dr. Adalbert Rebic.
18 Q. Witness, let's agree on the following. In my questions, I will
19 not give the full name of your office because it will take a while. Let's
20 limit ourselves to the term "office" all right? Your office.
21 A. All right, fine.
22 Q. And who was your immediate superior as the general-secretary?
23 A. My immediate superior was Adalbert Rebic. And above him in the
24 government, men who coordinated these activities, and it was deputy Prime
25 Minister, Dr. Mate Granic.
1 Q. And who exactly were your functions as the general-secretary?
2 A. Organisation mostly, but that was the time when we couldn't really
3 make strict assignments and be responsible for only one or another thing.
4 In the early days we often worked during the state of alert, when lights
5 went out, sometimes we wouldn't be able to go home because of the
6 situation. We had to spend the night in our office so it is very
7 difficult to say what were strictly the terms of reference. But generally
8 speaking my task was to look after the organisation or rather to see how
9 much flour we have, how do we get it, how we shall distribute that flour,
10 how to get trucks to take it away, where to find money, things like that.
11 Q. In one of the documents I came across person whose name is Josip
12 Esterajher, correct? Excuse my pronunciation, "riner" or "rajher"?
13 A. Yes, I know who you mean. He is Josip Esterajher. He arrived
14 from Vukovar. He managed to break through following the occupation of
15 Vukovar and he worked there as a journalist, as a radio journalist.
16 Q. And what was his position in your office?
17 A. His position was that I had him as my assistant because I simply
18 needed a capable man to work with me, and he was my assistant. What he
19 became later, when I left, I believe he headed some departments, but I was
20 the one who hired him as my assistant. And he was -- he organised the
21 media promotion of the office in his early days working with numerous
22 journalists who arrived in Zagreb.
23 Q. Mr. Zoric, who else, apart from Mr. Rebic, was authorised to sign
24 official documents coming out of your office?
25 A. For a while, Rebic had a deputy but it was already at the time
1 when I was leaving the office, so that another person was brought in, and
2 he helped him as his deputy. Since the volume of work has grown
4 Q. Were you authorised to sign documents for Mr. Rebic?
5 A. Well, if he -- yes, if I had his authorisation to do that, but I
6 mostly signed some administrative papers, such as bills, or relations with
7 people who worked in that office, and so on and so forth. That is, I was
8 to organise the secretary's office there, organise work in that office and
9 so on and so forth.
10 Q. Now I would like the usher just to show to the witness two
11 exhibits, that is 566.3, and 286.1. You should put both documents in
12 front of the witness so that he could compare those two documents because
14 A. This is not Dr. Rebic's signature. I saw his signature so many
15 times. This is not his signature.
16 Q. Witness, I didn't ask you a question yet?
17 A. All right.
18 Q. So you have two documents in front of you. Both documents are
19 drafted, made, just in the name of Mr. Rebic, but as far as I see, they
20 are signed by different people, am I right?
21 A. I didn't get the chance to see the second document, but this
22 signature is not the signature by Mr. Rebic and I also have to warn you of
23 the fact that we had a large number of forgeries at that time and that we
24 handed these forgeries to the police, quite often we did issue such papers
25 but whether these papers are credible or not, it is really hard to say on
1 the basis of a photocopy. We had so many cases of documents being forged
2 and we always asked the police to investigate these matters. These
3 talk -- such documents were issued when the family of people --
4 Q. Witness, you're not answering my question?
5 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Krsnik?
6 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I think it really would
7 be fair for the witness to be allowed to complete his explanation, because
8 I think that the issue of the forgeries of document is quite important. I
9 think it would be fair to let him finish.
10 JUDGE LIU: Well, I think the witness should answer the question
11 first. Then, if he need to explain to the Prosecutor, he may do that.
12 MR. PORIOUVAEV: Your Honour, I did not ask a question yet.
13 JUDGE LIU: Well, the question you asked is that they are signed
14 by the different people, am I right?
15 MR. PORIOUVAEV: Yes.
16 JUDGE LIU: Yes.
17 MR. PORIOUVAEV:
18 Q. My next question is what document are you talking about? What
19 document do you have in front of you now? Just tell me the number of the
21 A. My answer pertains to both documents, both documents that I have
22 in my hand. I tried to tell you how such documents were issued, and I
23 also wanted to warn you that people forged such documents quite often.
24 The document bearing number 101547467 indicates quite clearly that this is
25 a document sent to somebody living in Zagreb. The address is had much
1 street number 2. I assume that this is a person who sought permission to
2 house some refugees in his own home. We issued such approvals as the
3 office in charge of such matters, and that also meant that we would take
4 upon ourselves to fulfil some needs of these people, because then such
5 people would arrive to Croatia and seek other status, not refugee status.
6 That meant that we would have to assume other obligations. And as the
7 office in charge of these matters, we had to issue our approval. And we
8 had to suggest to other authorities, relevant authorities, such as the
9 border police, to let a person into Croatia or not. If somebody stated
10 that they wanted to come to Croatia as the -- as a refugee, coming from a
11 village or a town called Siroki Brijeg, I wouldn't sign such an approval
12 because that town remained free throughout the war, and there was no
13 reason for a person to flee such a town.
14 Q. Witness, thank you very much but let's agree on the following.
15 It's a cross-examination. Normally the questions are very brief and the
16 responses should be brief. If I need your explanations, I will ask you,
17 by all means, or if the judges need explanations, they will ask you. But
18 no need to make explanations to each question, unless you're asked to do
19 that. I'm sorry. Otherwise, we'll never complete our cross-examination.
20 I'm sorry. But is that signature familiar to you?
21 A. I have already said what my view of the signature is. I am quite
22 suspicious of it. I do know the person to whom this -- whose signature
23 this purports to be. He is a priest. And he really have my doubts. I
24 have already said that there have been numerous cases of abuse that have
25 all been referred to the police for their investigation.
1 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Seric?
2 MR. SERIC: [Interpretation] The witness has already said what I
3 wanted to say. In his first answer, when he was asked to express his view
4 of the signature, he said that he might be able to give a better answer if
5 he were shown the original of the signature. And then he would be better
6 able to answer the question.
7 MR. PORIOUVAEV: Your Honour, I'm in doubt now if we should go for
8 a break or not, because my learned colleagues are making some signs to me.
9 JUDGE LIU: Yes. Well, we might have a break for 20 minutes. So
10 we will resume at 20 minutes to 6.00.
11 --- Recess taken at 5.13 p.m.
12 --- On resuming at 5.43 p.m.
13 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Prosecutor?
14 MR. PORIOUVAEV: Thank you, Your Honour.
15 Q. Mr. Zoric, let's pass on to the second document. Do you have it
16 in front of you? That's Exhibit 566.3. Witness, is it correct that this
17 document is signed by someone else for Mr. Rebic? Do you know the person
18 to whom this signature belongs?
19 A. No.
20 Q. And who was authorised to sign documents for Mr. Rebic in August,
21 1993? Did he have a deputy at that time?
22 A. At that time, I was not in the office.
23 JUDGE LIU: Yes?
24 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, in view of the fact
25 that 80 per cent of the documents in this binder are new documents,
1 documents that have not been admitted by this Trial Chamber, we see that
2 the first document has the stamp of the Zagreb archive, yet the second one
3 does not have any stamp indicating its origin so could we please establish
4 the source of this document?
5 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Krsnik, it is on the list provided by the
6 Prosecution, could you see that this document was provided by that person
7 himself, which is on the second page of the whole binder. Am I right?
8 MR. PORIOUVAEV: Thank you, Your Honour.
9 Q. So you don't know?
10 A. I don't know who signed it, and -- but I can see from this
11 document that a person seeking the issuing of this document indicating
12 that he was travelling from Bosnia to Slovakia, through Slovenia. At that
13 time the persons from Bosnia-Herzegovina were unable to enter Slovenia
14 without a visa. They needed a visa. And the same went for many other
15 European countries, they were unable to get into these countries without a
16 visa. And since we were unable to find accommodation for such refugees,
17 they sought approval to go to third countries or perhaps they went to such
18 countries on a business trip. I don't know.
19 Q. Thank you, Witness. Let's put aside these exhibits and go on with
20 our cross-examination. So, Witness, you just told me that you were in
21 charge of, let's say, general questions, organisations of functioning of
22 your office, right?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. And who was in charge of the communication of your office with
25 corresponding offices in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Herceg-Bosna and third
2 A. I don't know what the corresponding offices would be, so I can't
3 answer your question.
4 Q. I mean the same offices, offices for refugees and displaced
6 A. Well, our contacts with them were quite scarce because it was
7 difficult to establish such contacts, because despite the fact that the
8 distance was not great, there would be a number of battle fields
9 separating us, so communications were very difficult at that time,
10 particularly in 1993.
11 Q. Okay. And were you in charge of -- sorry, refugee centres?
12 A. In a way, yes, I was in charge. I had to make sure that the costs
13 were met and to pay for the salaries of the people working in those
15 Q. But was there anyone else in your office who was, let's say --
16 whose functions were, let's say, limited to controlling of functioning of
18 A. There were about 30 of us working in the office. There was a
19 section that was in charge of it. There were five or six people there.
20 They took care of the logistics in such centres. I think that those
21 people still continue to perform this job. Unfortunately. Because I
22 think that there are still some 30.000 people who have been unable to go
23 back and they are still housed in one or another of those centres.
24 Q. Why I ask this question because I'm -- I've got a summary in front
25 of me, and the summaries just -- issued on the 15th of April, and
1 according to the summaries, you were also head of the refugee camps in the
2 Republic of Croatia. Is it correct?
3 A. On the 15th of April, 1993, I could not have been the head of the
4 refugee camps because I was already a member of the parliament.
5 Q. I'm sorry, Witness, maybe it was a slip of my tongue. I'm talking
6 about the summaries of your potential testimony in court. Summary of 15th
7 of April, 2002, sorry if I have misled someone here. So I would like to
8 clarify this situation. Were you the head of the camps or not, in 1993 --
9 the head of the camps in 1993?
10 A. Yes, until spring, but every centre had its own manager. We had
11 596 facilities where we housed people. So it was impossible for a single
12 person to run almost 600 of such centres. Some were in the process of
13 being closed down. Some were opened up recently. But the -- there were
14 always quite a few people housed there, and there was a person who was
15 managing such centres always. And we always tried to ensure the
16 participation of the people who were housed there. So they had their own
17 tasks and roles. People who wanted to work in the kitchen or if some of
18 them were experts, I don't know, teachers, then they would be given this
19 job. So in effect they managed the centres themselves, and we from Zagreb
20 merely made sure that they had enough food, to provide dermatological
21 care, in other words to protect the outbreak of any diseases, to meet
22 their costs and the electricity bills and food bills and so on, to pay for
23 the funerals and organise funerals and things like that, as I have already
24 said, but I would really be hard put to manage almost 600 such places.
25 Every place had its own manager or if there were some smaller locations,
1 then one person would be in charge of several. But we were the office at
2 the level of the government that took care of that.
3 Q. Thank you. Do you mean the spring of 1993? I'm looking just in
4 the transcript, "Yes, until spring." Do you mean spring of 1993?
5 A. Yes, because I believe that it was sometime in April that I left
6 the office because I was elected to the diet. So I had to become -- take
7 my post in the parliament because I became the -- one of the deputy
8 speakers of the -- of the parliament. And it was also impossible for
9 somebody to be in the executive and in the legislature at the same time so
10 I had to leave my previous office.
11 Q. So when did you exactly did you leave your office?
12 A. Well it's really difficult for me to say because it's been eight
13 years. I think it was April 1993. I think that's specific enough because
14 I didn't know this date would become so important. But at any rate it was
15 in April, 1993.
16 Q. You were talking about legislation that was adopted in Croatia in
17 respect of refugees and displaced persons. Could you just clear up when
18 exactly that legislation was adopted?
19 A. At first we had just a decree that was issued by the government.
20 That was in 1991. And also for a part of 1992. But decrees had a limited
21 period of validity so that the government had to extend its period of
22 validity in accordance with its competence, and since the decrees also had
23 to be amended and improved, they were amended accordingly and I think that
24 in 1992 or 1993, they were adopted as a law, in accordance with the
25 international standards governing this area. I'm referring to the
1 treatment of the refugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons. Also
2 another law was passed later regulating the issue of humanitarian aid, who
3 is entitled to deliver such aid, which items are -- can be delivered,
4 duty-free or free of customs, to prevent any possible abuses in this
5 respect, but at any rate, these two laws governed this area. And all the
6 other regulations and laws valid in the Republic of Croatia were also
8 Q. Witness, is it correct that somewhere in February, 1993, your
9 office announced that all refugees in Croatia would be registered or were
10 registered in February from the 10th of February to the 28th of February?
11 A. It's quite likely that the dates are correct, because we conducted
12 the census and the registration of refugees on several occasions, to be
13 able to determine precisely who they are, where they come from, and where
14 they are housed. They came in a rather chaotic manner, overnight, several
15 tens of thousands would arrive. Some of them went on their own initiative
16 and -- to the third countries, abroad. They left one facility to go to
17 another. They failed to deregister. So we simply had to know what we had
18 on our hands. The records sometimes did not reflect the actual situation.
19 I mean the population. And I think at that time 12 per cent of the
20 overall population in Croatia consisted of refugees or displaced persons.
21 It would be equal to 35 million people with the refugee status in the
22 United States of America. That would be the same ratio. Croatia was a
23 small country and we had to carry out this census. We got really quite
24 correct data from the census and it helped us to organise ourselves and to
25 organise the return, to prepare for the return of the refugees when --
1 once it became possible. And other censuses were carried out later on.
2 Q. According to the legislation, I mean the laws that were valid at
3 that time, for what period of time the status of refugee was granted?
4 A. The refugee status, according to our law and according to the laws
5 of other countries is a temporary form of protection so that it was
6 granted for a period of six months, and if after the expiry of the
7 six-month period, if the conditions that have led the person to become a
8 refugee still existed, in other words if the area from which he or she
9 came was still occupied, if he still had reasons to fear, in other words
10 if all these reasons which led him to become a refugee still existed, his
11 refugee status was extended.
12 Q. But is it correct that the announcement that was made by your
13 office limited the status of refugees to three months?
14 A. I don't think I could confirm that. I do not think that that was
16 Q. Yes, Witness. Why I'm claiming that, if a few minutes I will show
17 you a document which -- from where I took this information. But was it
18 also announced by your office that all refugees or displaced -- and
19 displaced persons were supposed to go through a new registration?
20 A. Yes. We took that decision because it was absolutely necessary,
21 whenever I travelled it a foreign country requiring a visa, then they
22 authorised me to go there for seven days. I recently went to the United
23 States and it said -- and my visa said exactly how many days I could spend
24 there. I had to show it to immigration authorities. To Croatia, people
25 came for different reasons. Some were refugees, some came on business and
1 some people were just crossing and going to third countries. For instance,
2 nobody could go to Austria through Bosnia-Herzegovina without passing
3 through Croatia. In order to make sure that everybody really enjoyed the
4 status he was to have, we needed to register those people and issue them
5 with relevant documents. All people that were registered were also issued
6 with identity documents, with a photographs
7 among other things in order to avoid any misuse, because there were such
8 cases. I have to repeat that. The refugees staying in this country are
9 also issued about identity documents and are registered upon their
10 arrival. Moreover, the files of third countries, that is countries which
11 came to Croatia and took over certain quotas of refugees, which matched
12 their registration procedures, were much stricter, when representatives of
13 the Red Cross from some western countries came to Croatia to register
14 refugees, then they would provide with asylum, with temporary shelter in
15 their country, they took down many more particulars than we did, and that
16 included medical examinations. I can tell you that they never took over
17 sick persons. They left them to us to care for them. So that we had
18 to -- some 30 odd facilities where we look after persons who had been
19 abandoned by everybody, and that includes Croats, Muslims and some Serbs
20 from BH, and from Croatia. And who could not get temporary protection in
21 third countries. I suppose that is what their laws were like, much
22 stricter than ours.
23 JUDGE LIU: Witness, please concentrate on the questions asked by
24 the Prosecution. If he needs more information, he will ask you the
25 following questions. Just give a very concise answer to the questions.
1 Yes, Mr. Prosecutor?
2 MR. PORIOUVAEV: Thank you, Your Honour.
3 Q. Is it true that there were some unlicensed refugee centres which
4 were supposed to be closed after that statement made by your office?
5 A. Yes. There were, and we managed to close down most of such
6 facilities because these facilities did not provide even the minimal
7 conditions, either sanitary or any other, to accommodate people. They did
8 not have any electricity supply or the voltage was too low. They would
9 have no bathrooms or something. And we then closed them down and moved
10 them to other temporary facilities.
11 Q. Now, I would like the witness to be shown Exhibit 243, just page
12 6. I must warn my learned colleagues that we have a B/C/S translation of
13 the relevant part of this document. You will find it just in the end of
14 this exhibit. So Mr. Usher, I would like you also to check the
15 translation just after the last page of this exhibit.
16 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Seric?
17 MR. SERIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I see that the English
18 document has 15 pages, and I still cannot find -- I cannot find the
19 translation of the document. I'm really trying very hard but I can't find
21 MR. PORIOUVAEV: It's at the end of this document, just check it.
22 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Krsnik?
23 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, if Mr. Prosecutor can
24 help us, does he wants to say that only these five sentences were
25 translated out of these 15 pages of the document?
1 MR. PORIOUVAEV: Yes, because the rest of the pages, the rest of
2 the information is not relevant to Croatia at all. That's why no need to
3 overstrain our resources.
4 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] I am sorry, I know enough English to
5 see in English say, "Prisoners and detainees, refugees, health matters,
6 local Red Cross."
7 JUDGE LIU: Well, I think the Prosecutor is directing our
8 attention to the specific paragraph that is paragraph 38.
9 MR. PORIOUVAEV: Yes, 38.
10 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Well, then you could have produced it
11 also in English, only that particular passage, to produce it in English
12 and then just say which document it came from. Here we have a whole
13 document, so it would have been fair to have the whole document translated
14 so that we can see that nothing has been taken out of the context, and it
15 would be fair to show the whole document to the witness, because it is an
16 integral part of a report.
17 JUDGE LIU: Well, let's proceed on the basis of the document
18 provided for us by the Prosecution, and later on, this Trial Chamber will
19 judge whether there is a need to translate the whole document into B/C/S.
20 MR. PORIOUVAEV:
21 Q. Witness, do you have the translation of the document?
22 A. I don't know what complete document you are talking about but I do
23 have some piece of translation, some information, some text, about
24 refugees in Croatia, which says that the refugees will be registered
25 between the 10th and 28th of February, after which they will have refugee
1 status for three months. And that anyone not registered will be treated
2 as a foreigner. This means that the law on the movement and residence of
3 foreigners will apply to them. There is such a law in Croatia. And
4 according to it -- and it stipulates the conditions under which people can
5 stay in Croatia. I do not know what is the Bosnian government in
6 Croatia. We also referred it to the government of BH. So this is not --
7 this is atypical terminology, and, yes, we did seek the channel from which
8 we could use to get the official authorities in Sarajevo tell us which
9 were -- which areas in Bosnia-Herzegovina were safe so that we wouldn't
10 have to admit people from those areas, also if it is some municipality
11 which was free and safe, and we didn't know about it in Zagreb, then why
12 would people from there come to Croatia and say, "We are refugees"? It
13 would lack sense. That is why we wanted them to tell us these areas are
14 vulnerable. We wanted the official authorities in Sarajevo to tell us
15 which areas in that country are affected by war.
16 JUDGE LIU: I think the question is concentrated on the time
18 MR. PORIOUVAEV: Yes.
19 Q. And witness, I must explain to you this is an ECMM report dated
20 the 7th of February, 1993, on humanitarian activity. And this passage is
21 taken from this report. And let's return to the problem of these maybe
22 misinterpretation of three months or six months. So did you give them --
23 I mean to the refugees and displaced persons, three or six months to solve
24 all their problems?
25 A. They had to report every month to have their status extended, and
1 it was extended invariably. It is completely irrelevant whether they were
2 granted a status for three months or six months because this is a
3 technical issue, and if that period of time, three months or six months,
4 expired, and somebody would still have to be treated as a refugee, then
5 the status would be extended. We have refugees in Croatia to this day.
6 Q. And anyone not registered shall be treated as a foreigner. Maybe
7 you will brief a little bit the Trial Chamber what is the difference
8 between the status of refugee and foreigner, according to your legislation
9 that was valid at that period of time.
10 A. There is a big difference. If you recognise the status of refugee
11 to someone in your country then you are bound to provide him with
12 accommodations, schooling for the children, medical treatment, and all the
13 rest that is necessary so that such a person is taken care of for life.
14 If somebody is only a foreigner in this country, then he must bear the
15 costs if he falls ill, then he must pay the costs of his treatment. If he
16 doesn't have accommodation, then he has to go to a hotel. Then he's a
17 foreigner. If he's come there to study, to -- then there are again
18 regulations which say under which conditions they may be allowed to do
19 that. And the law on aliens in the Republic of Croatia, all these
20 conditions are strictly specified from studies to treatment to
21 specialization to so and so forth. At that time in Croatia, if I'm
22 interpreting it correctly, without any visa, without any authorisation,
23 one could live for three months in Croatia. After that, one needed a
24 visa. In many countries, that was much more strict and -- but I repeat,
25 Croatia was a country at war at the time and 12 per cent of its population
1 had the refugee status. For a country much 4 million, I repeat, it is
2 equal as 35 million would be in the United States.
3 Q. Yes. But do citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina need a visa to
4 cross the Croatian border? Let's say in 1993, from the beginning, until
5 the period of time when you were still in office.
6 A. Not only then. Croatia is the only country, the only European
7 country, in which the nationals of -- into which the nationals of
8 Bosnia-Herzegovina can enter without a visa. To this day, they cannot go
9 anywhere with a BH passport without a visa. Not even to Slovenia. Only
10 they can come and they could come to Croatia without a visa throughout.
11 Q. But do soldiers of, let's say, ABiH and HVO need some sort of safe
12 conduct to cross the border of your state at this same period of time?
13 A. As soldiers, they could not come to Croatia. As private persons,
14 yes. I have already said that the Sarajevo authorities asked us not to
15 grant the status of refugees to able-bodied persons, and it often placed
16 us before a two-edged sword because if we recognised refugee status to
17 somebody then that person would enjoy the international protection and the
18 UNHCR protection. It was not up to us to judge who is able-bodied in
19 Bosnia and who isn't. That was that country's business but at meetings in
20 Zagreb, President Izetbegovic very often requested that an end be put to
21 the reception of refugees who are capable of defending their country, and
22 all we could do was convert it into a moral appeal to people to go back to
23 their country. But if members of an able-bodied BH national had been
24 granted the refugee status in Croatia, his wife and children, then we had
25 absolutely no possibility whatsoever to refuse such a person, the father
1 of the family, because under the international humanitarian law we also
2 had to respect the request for joining families. So many people who
3 didn't feel like fighting in BH used that, and we had no way of preventing
4 it, nor did we prevent it.
5 Q. My next question is, according to this document, just your office
6 promised that more suitable accommodation will be found for the refugees.
7 What did you mean by "more suitable accommodation"?
8 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, let the Prosecutor ask
9 a more correct question. It says very clearly here, "And all unlicensed
10 refugee centres", "unlicensed centres, will be closed." Refugee centres
11 which are unlicensed. And all you said were refugee centres which are not
12 suitable enough. And it is suggested that these were centres without
13 proper conditions.
14 MR. PORIOUVAEV: I'm sorry, I must respond to this objection.
15 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Prosecutor, read that sentence from, "In
16 addition" to the end and put your question to this witness.
17 MR. PORIOUVAEV:
18 Q. We already talked about unlicensed refugee centres. And now my
19 question is the second part of this sentence. What did they mean by "more
20 suitable accommodations" in comparison with those unlicensed and closed
22 A. I shall be very happy to answer that, sir. In the summer of 1992,
23 on the main railway station -- at the main railway station in Zagreb, for
24 a month, there were two trains with several thousand women and children.
25 Those were trains in which people had arrived from Bosnia before the
1 bridge across the Sava was demolished in Samac or Brod. No other
2 neighbouring state allowed those trains to go there. And people who were
3 in them wanted to draw attention to themselves, and refused to be moved
4 from those trains. So you can well imagine the sanitary conditions in a
5 train at the main railway station, in a train which is stationary for a
6 month, and all the dangers it carries. And they were such about 30 such
7 facilities. They would spring up overnight. People perhaps were not
8 responsible for that because they did not know who to turn to. And
9 perhaps of their own, they organised their accommodation perhaps in some
10 sheds, some shacks, in some abandoned areas, but in a facility which
11 houses 50 and when you have electrical installations for 50 people, you
12 can't simply have 1.000 people. So there was constantly a danger of fire
13 in some of these facilities. And it was primarily for reasons of hygiene
14 that these people needed to be transferred to some organised facilities,
15 to some other facilities, which we provided together with the
16 international organisations. A number of such locations for refugee
17 accommodation from 1991 onward were furnished by international
18 humanitarian organisations in order to accommodate the refugees. That
19 means suitable, adequate, proper accommodation. All those words can be
20 used for the Croatian word which says Priclandon [phoen].
21 Q. Witness, thank very much but I would like to limit my question to
22 1993, after this decision was announced. I mean in March, April, 1993,
23 what kind of new, more suitable accommodations were created?
24 A. Well, for instance, facilities in Varazdin. It is a town 60
25 kilometres from Zagreb. There in the centre of town were two large
1 barracks used by the former army. They were left empty and we refurbished
2 it them and thus had adequate accommodations there, and the logistics
3 possibilities in that centre. And there we moved people who, until then,
4 had lived under inhumane conditions, in some make shift areas. And the
5 same happened in Pula or for instance in Karlovac. It was something that
6 was absolutely necessary. And whoever saw that accommodation could only
7 be astounded by some of the things.
8 In some holiday homes, for instance, some holiday centres, workers
9 holiday centres, there was no sewage, for instance, in some of that. And
10 three years later, after three years of the refugees' life in them, the
11 conditions simply became unbearable, and then they had to be moved. Some
12 resisted those moves. That is true. Perhaps because they engaged in
13 prostitution and had some additional sources of income because we had such
14 cases too. Prostitution not only in the centre itself but also in the --
15 in the town, in the place where the centre was. And that is an illicit
16 activity and a very dangerous one.
17 Q. Witness, let's abstain from the problem of prostitution now and
18 go on to the centres still. What about the refugee centre in Gasinci and
19 Korcula? Were they new refugee centres? And when were they set up?
20 A. The refugee centre at Gasinci had much was set up after the fall
21 of Vukovar. They were people who came from east Slavonia. And since it
22 was a very spacious area, we could accommodate there several thousand
23 people so that to all intensive purposes it was a large Bosnian town.
24 Before that, Gasinci was a military training area, where one took
25 general -- when one took tests to become a general in the Yugoslav
1 People's Army. The Yugoslav People's Army used to be there and it had all
2 the conditions for the accommodation of a large number of people, a large
3 kitchen, a large canteen, a school, infirmary, play grounds, and there
4 were fishing ponds. They are still there.
5 Q. How many --
6 A. And as for Korcula, I really cannot say when that started, because
7 the facilities in Dalmatia were former tourist resorts, tourist facilities
8 so I presume that was the case of Korcula. But I repeat we had about 600
9 different facilities. I cannot be quite sure. Gasinci, I know it because
10 it was the first large centre we started, and we spent quite a lot of
11 money to reconvert it and adapt it for the new purposes for refugees, and
12 there were several international organisations active there throughout and
13 that includes the UNHCR, the International red cross and so on and so
14 forth. Almost 30.000 people passed through that centre during its
16 Q. And in what cases, the people who were living on the territory of
17 the Republic of Croatia -- I mean displaced persons, refugees -- were
18 subject to repatriation, according to this announcement?
19 A. Displaced persons who were not subject to repatriation, they were
20 subject to return home. And they could go home when their areas became
21 free, but until 1995, when the largest part of Croatia, hitherto occupied,
22 were liberated, we did not register a single return. We only began to see
23 more and more expulsions. And it was only 2001 that they could return.
24 Where could they it go in? To devastated areas, to mined areas, that is
25 without reconstruction, so it took another two or three years during which
1 it was impossible to return. And besides, during -- if you live as a
2 refugee for six or seven years, so many things change in your life,
3 children grow up, got used to living in one place, they already left, it's
4 very difficult for them to go back.
5 Q. My next question will be, you just stated today that at some
6 point, you were engaged in the problems of granting citizenship.
7 A. No, no. I had nothing to do with that, except that like everybody
8 else I had to go through a procedure before the authorities issuing
9 passports. No, I didn't play any role there. Perhaps it was a
10 misunderstanding. I apologise if there was one, but no, all the matters
11 relative to nationality to citizenship are within the mandate of the
12 Ministry of the Interior, and as an ambassador, if that is what you mean,
13 I could perhaps recommend some persons from the countries to which I had
14 been accredited, I could recommend certain persons be admitted into
15 Croatian nationality. They came to us and we would then forward their
16 applications to Zagreb, with or without our recommendation.
17 Q. But were you aware of the problems of granting citizenship in the
18 period of time when you were holding your office?
19 A. I don't know what problems you mean and who would have these
21 Q. I will clarify. How long did the procedure of getting citizenship
22 of the Republic of Croatia normally take, let's say, in 1993, when you
23 were in office?
24 A. I don't know that, because I did not seek -- I did not apply for
25 citizenship at that time. I already had the citizenship. I guess it's
1 very simple thing. Those who had the citizenship of the -- one of the
2 republics, as that existed in the former state, if they had permanent
3 residence or if they were born in the Republic of Croatia, they were
4 granted Croatian citizenship. Those who had come from other republics,
5 who had temporary residence in the Republic of Croatia, to them the
6 appropriate, relevant provisions of the law on citizenship in the
7 Republic of Croatia applied. And I'm really not competent to comment
8 on that.
9 Q. Okay. Thank you very much, if you can't, you can't. Now, let's
10 pass on to another subject. That's the problem of just moving of people
11 to the third countries. Did it take place in the time when you were in
12 the office?
13 A. Yes, while I was in the office, people went to third countries.
14 Some went on their own initiative, they organised it, their family members
15 who were already in those countries sent letters of guarantee to them.
16 One couldn't get into some of the countries, for instance, Germany,
17 without a letter of guarantee issued by somebody who would be able to take
18 care of you. But in some cases, it happened that, for instance, the
19 Netherlands or Denmark would send special trains where several thousands
20 of people would be selected and then taken to those countries.
21 Q. Witness, you told today that in any case, most of the people who
22 were leaving for third countries were crossing the territory of the
23 Republic of Croatia, right? What kind of documents did they need at that
24 time just to have this right to cross the territory -- the border in and
25 cross it out?
1 A. They needed some kind of a letter of guarantee, if they wanted to
2 be taken care of in Croatia. We approved what they said they would do.
3 If somebody said, "I travel from place X to Budapest," then we would
4 confirm that this person was indeed travelling to Budapest. For us that
5 meant that that person would not cheat us, that he would not stay in Split
6 saying, "I have a chronic illness and now you have a duty to accept me as
7 a refugee and put me in one of your hospitals." We couldn't do that
8 because we already had a large number of people who had that status. And
9 in mid-1992, Croatian government urged the western countries to accept
10 more refugees. I'm not a military strategist but my feeling was that the
11 aggressor wanted to smother those areas that he could not reach with his
12 artillery, with refugees, to send as many refugees to these areas,
13 paralysing the rear so to speak, so that for instance in the town of
14 Makarska which is on the Croatian coast quite close to the border, we
15 would have twice as many refugees than the original inhabitants, in some
17 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Krsnik?
18 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] The number of refugees didn't get
19 into the transcript. The number is 700.000 refugees.
20 JUDGE LIU: Yes, I did not see any number on the transcript.
21 MR. PORIOUVAEV:
22 Q. Witness, I would like to ask about the so-called transit visa.
23 Did you have transit visa at that period of time? And for how long, if
24 they existed, they were valid?
25 A. No. There were no transit visas, and there is no piece of paper
1 indicating that it is the transit visa. I know from my experience in
2 consular affairs what a transit visa is. There were letters of
3 recommendation or something like that. That was always sought by the
4 family members or somebody -- some other interested party. And then
5 the -- that person would be able to identify himself. That was a way to
6 specify who that person was and where that person was going. It was a
7 weird situation. You would receive 10.000 refugees one day, and then the
8 next day, you would receive a delegation of businessmen and you would try
9 to cut a deal with them of some kind. So there has to be a difference
10 between the two. But, sir, we were very much aware of the fact that we
11 were the first country of call, the first asylum country. I got an
12 explanation about that from the UNHCR. And the first asylum countries
13 have certain obligations that other countries do not have. Other
14 countries were very much afraid of the great influx of refugees. France,
15 for instance, did not want to accept any refugees in an organised way.
16 They accepted only those who went there on their own initiative. That was
17 a big problem during the conferences, international conference in Geneva.
18 I know what the problem was. Germany had accepted the largest number of
19 refugees and they wanted other European countries to share the burden.
20 JUDGE LIU: Mr. Prosecutor, I wonder all those questions is
21 relevant to this case.
22 MR. PORIOUVAEV: I think that all these questions are relevant to
23 the case because it's just the period of time, 1993, when the war started,
24 and just in the end of the stay of our witness in his office, the
25 situation was, as he explained to us, and it's quite possible that after
1 that, the situation changed, with the beginning of this armed conflict
2 between the HVO and the BiH. That's why I asked so, let's say, closely
4 JUDGE LIU: Well, we know that there are a lot of refugees during
5 the period of war at that time coming from Bosnia and Herzegovina to
6 Croatia. We know that. There is no dispute about that. So what's the
7 point for your cross-examination on that issue?
8 MR. PORIOUVAEV: Your Honour, just taking into consideration the
9 period of time when the witness was in the office of displaced persons and
10 refugees, I must say that I'm about to complete my cross-examination now,
11 and all the questions which will be relevant to some other periods of time
12 may be asked, if other witnesses appear here before the Court room and
13 maybe then I will try to compare the situation. That's what the idea of
14 my cross-examination today.
15 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Seric?
16 MR. SERIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. I will be
17 very brief. You have in fact anticipated my objection. Rule 90(h) (ii)
18 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence states that in the
19 cross-examination of a witness, counsel should put to the witness the
20 nature of the case of the party so if the Prosecutor is attacking this
21 witness regardless of whether he is trying to impeach him or contradict
22 the contents of his testimony, then let him say that he does not agree
23 with his statement that Croatia accepted refugees, but after all, you,
24 Your Honours, have just said that the Trial Chamber is very much aware of
25 that, and that you do not see the point of the cross-examination.
1 JUDGE LIU: Thank you very much.
2 Yes. You may continue your question.
3 MR. PORIOUVAEV: Should I answer the objection, first of all, I
4 think? Should I give my response to the objection by the defence?
5 JUDGE LIU: Well, you may do that but we are not debating on the
6 legal issues at this moment.
7 MR. PORIOUVAEV: That's if this was an objection, what was the
8 point of the examination-in-chief of this witness?
9 JUDGE LIU: Well, I think the Defence counsel raised an objection
10 concerning your cross-examination on that point, and you may move on.
11 MR. PORIOUVAEV: Okay. Your Honour. I will conclude my
12 cross-examination with that.
13 JUDGE LIU: Any re-examination?
14 MR. SERIC: [Interpretation] No, thank you, Mr. President.
15 JUDGE LIU: Any questions from the judges? Yes, Judge Diarra.
16 Questioned by the Court:
17 JUDGE DIARRA: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
18 During your testimony, Witness, you spoke about what the refugees
19 could exchange -- and I'd like -- you said that you are a cultural
20 anthropologist and I'd like to draw on that knowledge. I heard one word
21 very often here which you did not use today but I'm quite sure you know
22 what it means and perhaps you can tell me and you can tell me if that word
23 was used in those exchanges that you told us between the refugees that you
24 saw them and whether you saw any -- whether they reflected some animosity
25 between Muslims and Croats who lived together in those camps. Did you
1 hear any such word, any such exchange?
2 A. Yes, I'm familiar with the word, and I believe I know what its
3 origin is. It is -- which is the word balija, and it had historically
4 different meaning from the one that it has today. Once upon a time,
5 perhaps centuries ago, it meant a group within several Muslim communities
6 in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and it meant a kind of the lowest stratum of that
7 society, mostly those who raised sheep somewhere in the mountains so that
8 the Muslims in towns called them balijas. It was pejorative word but it
9 mostly was an indication of their social status. Later on, the pejorative
10 meaning of that word was taken over by the population of the other two
11 peoples, and that was a kind of a deprecating word they used when
12 referring to Muslims. Generally speaking, in those different areas, there
13 is no ethnic community or -- I mean you do not find a single ethnic which
14 doesn't have some bad, some derogatory term for the other two people. So
15 that some of the more primitive members of those communities would use the
16 term balijas for Muslims, but that term originated within their own ranks
17 to refer to the lowest stratum of their own society and I believe it is of
18 Persian origin it was used during conflicts, yes, it was but there were
19 surprisingly few of them. In view of the situation that prevailed in
20 their own countries. I mean, these people were never so isolated that
21 they could not watch the news from the areas they had come from. Very
22 often they were accommodated together or very near. I explained why they
23 had to be separated at times. So that at times, there were certain
24 tensions which I tried to calm down and also, if I made add, with regard
25 to what the Prosecutor asked, whether after the conflict in BH between the
1 Muslims and Croats there were some changes in our attitude to refugees, I
2 must most emphatically say that no, that our attitude to them did not
3 change and in all the logistics were still supplied from Croatia for them,
4 all the time, until the end of the war, and personally, later on, as a MP,
5 I was the one who led several convoys to Tuzla. Tuzla was never a town
6 with a Bosnian Croat majority or the controlled by the HVO because it was
7 the army of BH which controlled it. And yet I took them all the way from
8 the Adriatic coast there, and those were very dangerous trips. Had my
9 attitude or anyone's attitude to those refugees changed, somebody in
10 Sarajevo would have begrudged me that and very seriously. And as you
11 know, there were three sides. And if you side with any of the sides more
12 than is normal, then that is -- then it is viewed wrongly by others. So
13 that despite all the psychological burden, and I repeat psychological,
14 mental burden, because it wasn't easy to watch reports about massacres of
15 Croats, and there were an a number of them too, we nevertheless in spite
16 of all that, we tried to calm, to placate people and to calm the
17 situation. So on a number of occasions, I led delegations to Bosnia and I
18 was the first deputy of the Croatian diet who attended Bugojno in order
19 to --
20 JUDGE DIARRA: [Interpretation] Yes. Thank you. I think you
21 answered the question which bothered me. Thank you very much.
22 JUDGE LIU: Any questions out of judge's question?
23 MR. PORIOUVAEV: No, Your Honour. Thank you very much.
24 JUDGE LIU: Thank you.
25 Well, witness, thank you very much for coming to The Hague to give
1 evidence. We all wish you good luck in your future. The usher will show
2 you out of the room.
3 [The witness withdrew]
4 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Krsnik?
5 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I would now like to
6 ask, through you, the Prosecutor, as regards -- as regards document
7 P566.3, I would like you to instruct the Prosecutor to tell me how he came
8 to -- into possession of this document from Mr. Rizvanbegovic, and if
9 there is a statement from Mr. Rizvanbegovic as to the way in which he came
10 into contact with the Prosecutor and how he gave the document to the
11 Prosecutor, all the more so because the witness stated that this document
12 might be a forgery, or indeed he stated that it was a forgery.
13 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Krsnik, you know, we -- well, I think the
14 Prosecution will tell you more information about the source of this
15 document, but for a document to be used in this courtroom, we only want
16 the establishment of the minimum foundations of that document, because
17 that is the cross-examination. Let us hear whether there is anything more
18 the Prosecution would like to tell you.
19 MR. PORIOUVAEV: The only thing that I can tell the Trial Chamber
20 that we received this document from the person who indicated in the
21 document. Whether we took witness statements from him or not, I think I'm
22 not obliged to answer to the Defence.
23 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, since this name has
24 been mentioned and used in this courtroom, I think that they are obliged,
25 because, as the Defence has been claiming for a very long time, it would
1 be very important to find out why this person gave this certificate and
2 what he testified about, because I keep saying here that this trial is
3 full of -- that many of the documents proffered are forgeries and that
4 many of the testimonies are influenced by the AID.
5 JUDGE LIU: Well, it's a very serious allegation, Mr. Krsnik. If
6 you have some objections to the admission of certain documents, you are
7 entitled to make those objections.
8 MR. KRSNIK: I will make. Thank you, Your Honour.
9 JUDGE LIU: Thank you. At this moment, I would like to ask you
10 whether you have any documents to tender through this witness.
11 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Just the two documents that were
12 tendered, D1/326 and D1/327.
13 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Prosecutor?
14 MR. PORIOUVAEV: I think that this picture is not relevant at
15 all. As for the second document, it was not translated. I was unable to
16 read it.
17 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Krsnik, I think I have expressed my view on
18 those two documents. One is not translated. We are waiting for the
19 translation. The other one, I believe the pictures add very little
20 probative value to this case.
21 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] With all due respect, Your Honours,
22 fortunately I have a very good memory and I do know what the Prosecution
23 witnesses have been saying. For the Defence, this is of great probative
24 value, except if the Trial Chamber has already formed its view on the
25 witnesses testifying about the conditions of the -- at the Obonjan
1 facility. If some of the witnesses - now I can't recall their
2 pseudonyms - if they were saying that this area was like a concentration
3 camp, I will use up this evening to look up these witnesses. So I just
4 wanted you to see -- for the head of that office to confirm what the
5 island looked like at the time, to prove that these witnesses were indeed
6 lying, because if they lie about the conditions in Obonjan, then their
7 entire testimony is brought into question. Why did they strive to present
8 that island as a concentration camp here in the courtroom? At least, this
9 is the way that my small lawyer's mind thinks, and I have to act like a
10 lawyer, as a Defence counsel here.
11 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Krsnik, I understand from the print on those
12 pictures, they are taken in 2002.
13 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Yes, yes, but the witness --
14 JUDGE LIU: Almost ten years past the period which is in the
16 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Yes, but the witness confirmed that
17 the location looked totally the same at the time where the camp -- where
18 the refugee camp was there. That is what the witness confirmed here in
19 the courtroom, that it looked the same as it does here on these pictures.
20 That's what this witness testified under oath.
21 JUDGE CLARK: I do not believe, Mr. Krsnik, that you're correct
22 about that. I think the witness said that the premises are the
23 same. But you can take any concentration camp, fill it with 20.000
24 people, take them out, clean it and put 100 people in, and you can't say
25 that it is no longer a concentration camp. It depends on what you do with
1 the same premises afterwards and how many people are there. If you have a
2 dormitory that sleeps six people in normal times and during wartime
3 sleeps 60, then somebody has reason to complain. It has no relevance.
4 The condition of the premises, with happy, healthy language students ten
5 years after the event doesn't help us to understand what the place was
6 like in 1993.
7 You have to see my point, Mr. Krsnik. And I share the view of the
8 President. These photographs are of happy, healthy people, who are not
9 overcrowded and who are not guarded and who are free to come and go. And
10 I think the witness who spoke about the camp, [redacted]
15 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honour, Judge Clark, first of
16 all, there were no guards. These people went there of their own free
17 will, and the state took care of them. If somebody shut you up in Hotel
18 Intercontinental against your will, you can call it a concentration camp
19 because you are imprisoned or detained there, but if you go there of your
20 own free will, then you cannot call it the concentration camp. This
21 witness did not mention any guards, and he said that everybody was free to
22 come and go as they wanted. My intention was not to show happy, healthy
23 people in this brochure, but what the place looked like. You can see the
24 little bungalows, you can see the swimming pool, you can see the school,
25 and not just happy, healthy people. That was the time when Croatia did
1 all it could to accommodate these refugees, not in camps with guards and
2 not against their will. But if you think it's not relevant, I will now,
3 as always, bow to your will.
4 JUDGE CLARK: I honestly feel it has very little relevance to this
5 case and we've probably spent too much time on it but ...
6 JUDGE LIU: So as a compromise, we will not admit it into evidence
7 but it has an ID number there. It's just as a reference document in the
8 future, if the issue comes up.
9 Yes, on this point, whether the Prosecution has any documents to
11 MR. PORIOUVAEV: Your Honour, I ask you to allow me to just
12 reshuffle all my documents, and tomorrow I will present my list of
13 exhibits, if any, I will tender into evidence.
14 JUDGE LIU: Thank you very much.
15 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I'm sorry. If I
16 understand the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of this Tribunal correctly,
17 only documents that have been shown to this witness can be admitted, and
18 he was only shown three documents and that's all, not more than that.
19 JUDGE LIU: Well, I think we will apply the same standards in the
20 admitting of the documents for the both parties.
21 Well, the time is up, you understand, and tomorrow morning we will
22 have a new witness. Sorry, tomorrow afternoon, we will have the new
23 witness. I believe that is the witness number 1 in the list you are
25 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Yes. He is going to be heard in
1 public. That's Mr. Milan Kovac. So it will be fully a public session.
2 JUDGE LIU: Thank you very much.
3 So we will rise until tomorrow afternoon.
4 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at
5 7.00 p.m., to be reconvened on Thursday,
6 the 9th day of May, 2002, at 2.15 p.m.