Tribunal Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Page 1480

1 Thursday, 30 October 2003

2 [Sentencing Proceedings]

3 [Open session]

4 --- Upon commencing at 3.03 p.m.

5 [The accused entered court]

6 JUDGE LIU: Call the case, please, Mr. Court Deputy.

7 THE REGISTRAR: Good afternoon, Your Honours. This is case number IT-02-

8 60/2-S, the Prosecutor versus Dragan Obrenovic.

9 JUDGE LIU: Thank you.

10 Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. For the sake of the record, may we

11 have the appearances, please, for the Prosecution.

12 MR. McCLOSKEY: Yes, Mr. President. Peter McCloskey, Stefan Waespi, and

13 Janet Stewart for the Prosecution.

14 JUDGE LIU: Thank you.

15 For the Defence?

16 MR. WILSON: I'm sorry, Your Honour, I'm having some difficulty with the

17 earphones. David Wilson and Dusan Slijepcevic for the Defence. We are

18 getting an awful lot of static. We're not sure why.

19 JUDGE LIU: Thank you. Thank you. You may sit down, please.

20 MR. WILSON: Thank you, Your Honour.

21 JUDGE LIU: Mr. Obrenovic, can you hear the proceedings in a language that

22 you understand?

23 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour, I can.

24 JUDGE LIU: Do you have anything to complain concerning of the Detention

25 Unit?

Page 1481

1 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] No, Your Honour, I have no complaints.

2 JUDGE LIU: Thank you. You may sit down, please.

3 This is a sentencing hearing for Mr. Obrenovic in accordance with the Rule

4 100 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, as well as the scheduling

5 decision made by this Chamber on the 10th of October, 2003.

6 This Trial Chamber has received the sentencing briefings by both parties,

7 as well as the supplemental submissions by both parties. So to begin with,

8 I would like to invite the parties to brief us on the highlights of their

9 submissions to this sentencing hearing.

10 Mr. McCloskey?

11 MR. McCLOSKEY: Thank you, Mr. President.

12 As Your Honours are fully aware, we're here today because Mr. Obrenovic has

13 stood up and taken responsibility for his actions and pled guilty, and we

14 are here today pursuant to that plea and the plea agreement. I want to

15 make it clear now that the Prosecution believes that Mr. Obrenovic has

16 fully cooperated with the Prosecution, and as such the Prosecution is

17 satisfied with that and believes that the sentence of 15 to 20 years is a

18 fair and just sentence. I would like to explain in more detail during my

19 closing remarks on that particular point.

20 It's just been pointed out Mr. Obrenovic does not have his earphones on,

21 and I think it is, of course, important that he hears the words of the

22 Prosecutor.

23 We've got another set of earphones over here if we need them.

24 [Trial Chamber and registrar confer]

25 JUDGE LIU: Well, would you please pause for a minute. I think there's

Page 1482

1 some technical problems.

2 Mr. Obrenovic, can you hear me?

3 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honours. Everything is fine now.

4 JUDGE LIU: Thank you. You may sit down, please.

5 Well, I'm sorry to interrupt you, Mr. McCloskey. Would you please move on.

6 MR. McCLOSKEY: Yes, Mr. President. If I could just briefly repeat to Mr.

7 Obrenovic that we are here today because he was able to stand up in this

8 courtroom and take responsibility for his actions and the actions of his

9 unit, and it is the Prosecution's belief that he has fully cooperated with

10 this office and has been truthful and credible in all respects and that I

11 would like to go into more detail regarding his cooperation during my

12 closing remarks. But I will, first of all, give a brief accounting of some

13 of the evidence that we have provided this Chamber to outline some of the

14 events that are most important in understanding this case so that the Court

15 may best review those matters and sentence this individual.

16 I will not go over the three witnesses that I've discussed in a previous

17 hearing. That's part of our submissions, and we fully stand by all our

18 submissions, and where we have stated succinctly and I believe very clearly

19 our position, and I will stand by that today. The three people that I will

20 not be referring to are -- one is Teufika Ibrahamefendic, who has provided

21 a clear record on the impact of the victims; then we have Witness I from

22 the Krstic trial, who is a survivor of the Branjevo Farm execution; and

23 then Witness DD, who is one of the mothers of Srebrenica. We do have two

24 other survivors of the mass executions in Zvornik, and I will briefly

25 remind Your Honours of this crime by just taking a moment to go over some

Page 1483

1 of the events.

2 By the afternoon, evening of the 13th July, we know from one of the

3 survivors that they begin to be moved up into buses from the town of

4 Bratunac up to Zvornik, and the first known delivery of prisoners to the

5 Zvornik Brigade is done in the evening hours at the Orahovac school, not

6 far from Zvornik, where several hundred, 500 to 1.000 Muslims were

7 eventually stored and killed the next day.

8 Also in the evening hours of the 13th, the original evidence in this case

9 saw a change of the post at the forward command post, where Drago Nikolic,

10 the Chief of Security, in the late evening hours was moved to another job,

11 an unknown job at that time, to deal with at that time, we felt, was

12 probably prisoners and we pointed that out clearly in Mr. Butler's report.

13 We now know, thanks to Mr. Obrenovic, exactly what that was about, as he

14 has told us, and that he received a call from Drago Nikolic, who had been

15 informed about the operation or the transfer of thousands of men to Zvornik

16 would be occurring beginning that evening, and Mr. Obrenovic has

17 acknowledged that he gave the authority to Drago Nikolic to begin the

18 process of separating those men, detaining those men, and killing those

19 men. He has stood and admitted that clearly, concisely, with no excuse.

20 And it provides me and the Office of the Prosecutor a tremendous value to

21 be able to get up and say this to you that clearly, and he is the one that

22 took that responsibility and finally admitted this, and that's important.

23 But what continued after he provided the authorisation, and as he said, he

24 knew that it was in the area of 3.000 men, what continued the following day

25 is more thousands of men came up, some 500 to 1.000 were shipped into the

Page 1484

1 Petkovci school not far from Zvornik where they stayed the evening of the

2 14th, and were taken out the late night hours of the 14th, early morning

3 hours of the 15th, to the site of dam not far away and systematically

4 murdered. On that same day, on the 15th -- excuse me, on the 14th and

5 early hours of the 15th, some 500 to 1.000 men were taken to the Rocevic

6 school, where on the 15th of July they were transported over to an area

7 near Kozluk. Now, we don't have a survivor of that crime, but we know from

8 forensics that it was between 500 and 1.000 people that were taken out to

9 this area near the Drina River and systematically executed.

10 We also know that on the 14th and 15th at least 1.500 to 2.000 men were

11 transported to the area of Pilica. Some 1.000, perhaps 1.200 were stored

12 at the school in Pilica on the 14th and 15th and perhaps roughly 500,

13 perhaps more, were stored in the cultural centre in the town of Pilica. On

14 the 16th of July, members of the VRS, including members of the Zvornik

15 Brigade, who were guarding these people at the school, took part in a

16 process by which these 1.200 men at the Pilica school were taken to the

17 Branjevo Military Farm and systematically killed. Then later that day some

18 500 or more men were killed inside the Pilica cultural centre in the centre

19 of town. We may never know the true numbers involved, but our forensics

20 and the information we have indicates it could be anywhere from 5.000 to

21 6.000 men that were killed in the Zvornik area at this time, perhaps more.

22 And we know from the facts of the case, from the evidence presented, and

23 from Mr. Obrenovic's own testimony that he was in command on the 13th of

24 July and on the 14th of July and on the midday of the 15th of July, and was

25 the person that must bear the command responsibility as the person that

Page 1485












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Page 1486

1 authorised this in this Zvornik Brigade, as he has done so.

2 After that, he took his position as chief of staff and was present during

3 the combat operations and, of course, the operations to murder the men in

4 the area. And we know from the evidence from Mr. Obrenovic himself that

5 there was a large operation to hide and rebury the bodies in September, and

6 that was such a crime on such a massive scale that I am reluctant to even

7 describe it any more to you than what it was, because by those words I may

8 diminish it and the victims that suffered so much.

9 But I know this Court knows about this crime, knows about this case. And

10 one of the reasons the Court can be so confident in its knowledge of the

11 true nature and horror and responsibility in this case is because of what

12 Mr. Obrenovic has had the ability and the courage to get up and do, and

13 that is take responsibility for this crime and face a very significant

14 sentence.

15 As I said, Your Honour, I will save my more detailed description of his

16 cooperation for my final statement, and I would leave you just with the

17 words that this crime -- that we haven't seen anything in Europe since

18 World War II like this, and it will obviously take very careful

19 consideration and judgement and analysis on your part as you deliberate in

20 this very important case. And I know you will do that, and I appreciate

21 that. Thank you very much.

22 JUDGE LIU: Thank you.

23 Could I now turn to Defence counsel for their opening statement.

24 MR. WILSON: Thank you, Mr. President, Judge Argibay, Judge Vassylenko. We

25 will waive any opening statement in the sense of discussing the facts of

Page 1487

1 the case and the evidence; we would prefer to save that for our closing

2 statement.

3 By way of introduction to what we will be presenting to the Court today, we

4 have four witnesses, as the Court is aware from our witness list. Two of

5 those witnesses, we have asked that they appear in closed session for

6 reasons that are in our pleadings. We also will be offering a number of

7 exhibits. We filed an exhibit list with the Court on the 28th. These are

8 all exhibits with one exception, which we have previously attached to

9 pleadings in the case.

10 After the witnesses have testified and after the Court has disposed of our

11 request to admit the exhibits and after Mr. McCloskey and I have argued,

12 Mr. Obrenovic has asked to address the Court at the conclusion of these

13 proceedings.

14 And so with that, at this point I would have nothing else to mention,

15 unless the Court has questions.

16 JUDGE LIU: Thank you very much.

17 Well, Mr. McCloskey, at this stage could I make sure that you don't have

18 any live witnesses in these proceedings.

19 MR. McCLOSKEY: No, Your Honour. In order to, well, spare those people

20 from having to come through this again, and because there is a very clear

21 record from the Krstic trial and then because of the Court's knowledge in

22 this matter and the nature of the entire proceedings, the Prosecution has

23 not felt that that was necessary and we do not have any live witnesses.

24 JUDGE LIU: And do you have any documents to tender into the evidence?

25 MR. McCLOSKEY: Mr. President, regarding documents, no. But as in the

Page 1488

1 previous matter, I should make clear - and I have discussed this with

2 Defence counsel - we would be offering the testimony of Mr. Obrenovic in

3 his trial at the Blagojevic/Jokic trial for your consideration.

4 JUDGE LIU: Thank you very much. I guess there's no objections from the

5 Defence team, so that transcript of the testimony of Mr. Obrenovic is

6 admitted into the evidence.

7 Mr. McCloskey, do you have any objections to the protective measures asked

8 by the Defence concerning the two witnesses?

9 MR. McCLOSKEY: No, Mr. President. We have discussed this and agree that,

10 out of an abundance of caution, it's the safest way to go.

11 JUDGE LIU: Thank you. So the request of protective measures for those

12 witnesses are granted.

13 Mr. Wilson, at this stage, do you have any documents to tender into

14 evidence? You may tender it through the witness or you may tender it

15 through 92 bis.

16 MR. WILSON: Your Honour, we have documents which are listed on our exhibit

17 list filed on the 28th of October. The first nine exhibits, DS1 through

18 DS9, are in fact 92 bis statements. The first eight of those are attached

19 to our sentencing brief and the ninth one is attached to the witness list

20 which we filed on the 28th. So we would offer those under the provisions

21 of Rule 92 bis.

22 JUDGE LIU: Thank you. I guess there's no objections from the Prosecution?

23 MR. McCLOSKEY: No, Your Honour.

24 JUDGE LIU: Thank you very much. Those documents are admitted into

25 evidence.

Page 1489

1 MR. WILSON: Thank you, Your Honour.

2 Your Honour, in addition to the 92 bis exhibits, we have DS10 through DS17,

3 which we've listed, and explained on our witness list. These are all

4 documents which we believe are self-authenticating and which we believe the

5 Prosecution has no objection to. All of these documents are attached to

6 our pleadings, either through our sentencing brief or to our supplemental

7 sentencing brief. And so at this time we would ask the Court to take

8 those, pursuant to the permission in Rule 100(A), as we understand it,

9 which allows the Court to consider any things that might be of assistance

10 in the sentencing. So we would not be offering these through any

11 witnesses, we would be offering these at this point, with the understanding

12 that the Prosecution has no objection to their admission.

13 JUDGE LIU: Well, why don't we make a decision now and admit those two

14 documents into evidence at this stage; do you agree with that?

15 MR. WILSON: I'm sorry, Your Honour?

16 JUDGE LIU: I think that we should admit those two documents into the

17 evidence at this stage, rather than as an attachment to the --

18 MR. WILSON: Yes, Your Honour. And we would ask that they be labelled DS10

19 through DS17, as set out on the exhibit list. We've talked to the

20 registrar and I understand it can be done in that way.

21 JUDGE LIU: Thank you very much.

22 MR. WILSON: Thank you.

23 JUDGE LIU: I see no objections from the Prosecution, so those two

24 documents are admitted into the evidence.

25 Mr. Wilson, are you ready to call your witness?

Page 1490

1 MR. WILSON: We are, Your Honour. Mr. Slijepcevic has the first witness,

2 and he will be called at this time.

3 JUDGE LIU: So there's no protective measures concerning this witness?

4 MR. WILSON: Not the first witness, Your Honour.

5 JUDGE LIU: Thank you very much.

6 [The witness entered court]

7 JUDGE LIU: Good afternoon, witness.

8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good afternoon.

9 JUDGE LIU: Would you make the solemn declaration, please.

10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak the

11 truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.


13 [Witness answered through interpreter]

14 JUDGE LIU: Thank you very much. You may sit down, please. THE WITNESS:

15 [Interpretation] Thank you.

16 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Slijepcevic.

17 MR. SLIJEPCEVIC: [Interpretation] Good afternoon, Your Honours. Good

18 afternoon to the Prosecution and to everyone in the courtroom.

19 Questioned by Mr. Slijepcevic:

20 Q. [Interpretation] Could you please, first of all, tell us your full

21 name, your first and last name.

22 A. My name is Zorica Rikic.

23 Q. Could you tell us your date of birth, please.

24 A. I was born on the 17th of November, 1953.

25 Q. What is your nationality and what is your religion?

Page 1491












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Page 1492

1 A. I'm a Bosniak, and my religion is Orthodox.

2 Q. Could you be so kind as to tell us where you were born.

3 A. I was born in Zvornik.

4 Q. When did you leave your place of birth and why?

5 A. I left my place of birth in 1979 for the sake of employment.

6 Q. Where did you find employment?

7 A. I found employment in the same company in Sarajevo.

8 Q. Until when did you work there?

9 A. I worked in Sarajevo until 1992.

10 Q. What was your job?

11 A. I was a tradeswoman.

12 Q. Was the staff in your company of -- did they come from various ethnic

13 groups?

14 A. Yes.

15 Q. Since 1979, until the time when the war broke out in Bosnia and

16 Herzegovina, up until that time, had you had nationalistic problems of any

17 kind?

18 A. No.

19 Q. Would you tell us when these problems started, if they did.

20 A. These problems started in 1992, in the month of March.

21 Q. And how did these problems arise?

22 A. There were checkpoints, barricades. On my way back from work, I and

23 others going back from work would be stopped and checked.

24 Q. Who set up those barricades?

25 A. They were set up by the Territorial Defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Page 1493

1 Q. And who at that time made up the Territorial Defence of Bosnia and

2 Herzegovina?

3 A. It was made up of the Green Berets.

4 Q. Were the Green Berets drawn only from the Muslim people?

5 A. Yes.

6 Q. In what part of Sarajevo did you live in?

7 A. I lived in the Muslim part of the town of Sarajevo.

8 Q. Until when did you live and work in Sarajevo?

9 A. I lived there until May 1992.

10 Q. And when you left Sarajevo, where did you go?

11 A. I went in the direction of Zvornik.

12 Q. Was your departure from Sarajevo safe, and how did you leave?

13 A. I left the city of Sarajevo with great difficulty on a truck, escorted

14 by SFOR from Milici to Bratunac and Ljubovija and finally arrived in Mali

15 Zvornik.

16 Q. Were you able to carry with you any of your belongings?

17 A. I didn't take anything. Only a bag and the slippers I wore at work, a

18 small nylon bag. That was all.

19 Q. Is Little Zvornik in Serbia?

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. And from Mali Zvornik, did you go back to your native town of Zvornik?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. Was it in the same month that you left Sarajevo?

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. On your arrival in Zvornik, did you ever meet Mr. Dragan Obrenovic?

Page 1494

1 A. Yes.

2 Q. When was this?

3 A. This was in February 1994.

4 Q. How do you remember this?

5 A. I remember this because that was when my father died. Dragan and

6 Bojana came to my house.

7 Q. Please tell Their Honours who Bojana is.

8 A. Bojana is Mr. Obrenovic's wife. She is a friend of my sister's. They

9 worked together in a company.

10 Q. Did you socialise with Dragan Obrenovic's wife before, before you met

11 Mr. Dragan Obrenovic?

12 A. Yes.

13 Q. After you were introduced to Dragan Obrenovic, did you begin

14 socialising with him?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. What was your relationship to Dragan Obrenovic?

17 A. I met Mr. Obrenovic as a professional officer who was ten years my

18 junior, but I respected him as if he were older than me. When he came to

19 the house I was in, I would go out of the house because I had respect for

20 him. I was nervous in his presence. He seemed such a nice person, a

21 professional soldier, and then when I got to know him better, I would stay

22 at home when he came to visit.

23 Q. In all your years of knowing Dragan Obrenovic, did you learn of his

24 being a member of any political organisation or being involved in politics

25 in any way?

Page 1495

1 A. I think that Dragan Obrenovic was not a member of any political party.

2 Q. During those same years, did you sometimes hear that Mr. Dragan

3 Obrenovic exhibited any sort of nationalism or intolerance towards any

4 other ethnic group?

5 A. No, never.

6 Q. Did he socialise equally with all -- members of all ethnic groups in

7 Zvornik?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. What was his opinion of so-called mixed marriages?

10 A. His attitude to that was normal.

11 Q. What do you mean when you say "normal"?

12 A. His attitude to that was normal. Your Honours, I'll tell you one

13 thing: I have a daughter living in Munich. She's a qualified nurse. She

14 lives in a large clinic for women. She left in 1991. She married a black

15 man. They live in Munich. She had a son with him called Kevin. And when

16 she did this, I found it very difficult. She said, "You can all renounce

17 me, but I love him and I will do it." That's when I got to know Bojana and

18 Mr. Obrenovic and I complained to them. I said, "Dragan, look what my

19 daughter's doing." And they said, "But they're young. They're in love.

20 They have a child." And when they came to visit, this child played with

21 the son of Mr. Obrenovic. They would stay with me a month, a month and a

22 half, and they would play with little Milos, Dragan's son. Everything in

23 Dragan's family was normal.

24 Q. Is your daughter-in-law a Croat?

25 A. Yes, she's a Croat.

Page 1496

1 Q. And what is Dragan Obrenovic's attitude to her?

2 A. Normal, nice. My brother, Zoran --

3 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter apologises; it's her sister-in-law, not

4 her daughter-in-law.

5 A. They loved and respected Dragan a lot. My brother also lives in

6 Germany.

7 MR. SLIJEPCEVIC: [Interpretation]

8 Q. Do you know that a relative of Dragan Obrenovic's wife is also a

9 Croat?

10 A. Yes.Q. Do you know that in 1996 the boyfriend of that relative's

11 daughter would come to Zvornik and visit Dragan Obrenovic's house wearing

12 an HVO uniform and that Dragan Obrenovic would escort him from his flat to

13 the point of exit from Tuzla?

14 A. Yes. The young man's name is Adam, and I know him and I know this

15 relative of Mr. Obrenovic's wife.

16 MR. SLIJEPCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I have a request now. May

17 with go into private session for the next question?

18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, may I say something?

19 JUDGE LIU: Yes, please, witness, you may say something.

20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I want to tell you something very important

21 today. My brother lives in Germany, and we have a restaurant in my house

22 which my brother opened. And there was a time when my brother used to

23 bring cars in from Germany, he would import them. And he imported a

24 beautiful Mercedes, and he said, "I wish I could sell this to Mr.

25 Obrenovic." And Dragan came, looked at it, and said, "Zoran, a Mercedes is

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Page 1498

1 a nice car, but I can't take it. My people don't have enough bread to

2 eat." I can never forget this.

3 JUDGE LIU: Thank you, witness.

4 We'll go to the private session.

5 [Private session]

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11 [Open session]

12 JUDGE LIU: Mr. McCloskey, do you have any questions to this witness?

13 MR. McCLOSKEY: No, Mr. President.

14 [Trial Chamber confers]

15 JUDGE LIU: Well, witness, thank you very much for coming to The Hague to

16 give your evidence. We appreciate it very much. The usher will show you

17 out of the room and we wish you to have a good journey back home.

18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you very much, Your Honours.

19 [The witness withdrew]

20 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Wilson, any protective measures for the next witness?

21 MR. WILSON: There are, Your Honour. This is one of the witnesses for whom

22 we ask protective measures.

23 JUDGE LIU: You mean --

24 MR. WILSON: We ask for a closed session for the next witness, Your Honour.

25 JUDGE LIU: Thank you.[Trial Chamber and registrar confer]

Page 1501

1 JUDGE LIU: We'll go to the private session, please.-- we'll go to the

2 closed session, please.

3 [Closed session]

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21 [Open session][The witness entered court]

22 JUDGE LIU: Good afternoon, witness.

23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good afternoon, Your Honours.

24 JUDGE LIU: Would you please make the solemn declaration in accordance with

25 the paper the usher is showing to you.

Page 1508

1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak the

2 truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.


4 [Witness answered through interpreter]

5 JUDGE LIU: Thank you very much. You may sit down, please.

6 Yes. Mr. Slijepcevic.

7 MR. SLIJEPCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.

8 Questioned by Mr. Slijepcevic:

9 Q. [Interpretation] Good day, Mrs. Boskovic.

10 A. Good day.

11 Q. First of all, I would like to thank you for having come to The Hague

12 and having agreed to testify before this Trial Chamber.

13 A. Thank you.

14 Q. If you don't understand any of my questions or if there are technical

15 problems of any kind, please feel free to say so and interrupt me.

16 Could you please tell this Trial Chamber your first and last name.

17 A. My name is Dusanka Boskovic.

18 Q. Mrs. Boskovic, when were you born?

19 A. I was born on the 19th of February, 1955 in Jegenov Lug, the

20 municipality of Kalesija, which is about 20 kilometres from Tuzla.

21 Q. Were the inhabitants of your place of birth only Serbs, or were they

22 of mixed ethnic origin?

23 A. The inhabitants were only of Serb nationality.

24 Q. And the surrounding villages, the villages surrounding your place of

25 birth, who lived there? I am referring to the population of those

Page 1509












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Page 1510

1 villages.

2 A. Muslims lived in those villages.

3 Q. Up until when did you live in your place of birth?

4 A. I lived in my place of birth until the 8th of May, 1992.

5 Q. Mrs. Boskovic, when did you get married?

6 A. On the 8th of February, 1975.

7 Q. Is it true to say that you have two sons?

8 A. Yes, I do.

9 Q. Could you tell us their names and when they were born.

10 A. The name of my first son is Sladjan Boskovic. He was born on the 10th

11 of August, 1976. The name of my second son is Zoran Boskovic, and he was

12 born on the 22nd of April, 1980.

13 Q. What is your profession, Mrs. Boskovic?

14 A. I am a tradesman.

15 Q. Where did you work until the 8th of April, 1992?

16 A. Up until the 8th of May, 1992, I worked in Tuzla.

17 Q. What was your job and in what sort of company were you employed?

18 A. It was a state-owned company called Univerzal Promet Tuzla, Univerzal

19 Trade Tuzla. And I was employ there had as a tradesman.

20 Q. And the staff employed in your company, were they of mixed ethnic

21 origin, Serbs, Muslims who work there had?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. Up until the 8th of May, 1992, had you had any sort -- any problems,

24 problems of any kind on account of nationalistic feelings?

25 A. Up until the 8th of May, 1992, up until that period we had been

Page 1511

1 involved in preparations. We had evacuated the children and older women

2 from the village. So on the 7th of May, I went to work, and in the evening

3 of the 7th I was told not to return home and that on the 8th of May all our

4 people had to leave the village.

5 Q. When did these problems first appear, and what were the reasons?

6 A. This first happened when --

7 MR. McCLOSKEY: Your Honour.

8 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. McCloskey.

9 MR. McCLOSKEY: Your Honour, I'm going to object. I don't know what the

10 relevance of the beginnings and the reasons of this conflict are, and I

11 really do not want to have to cross-examine on that point should certain

12 reasons come out.

13 JUDGE LIU: Yes.

14 MR. McCLOSKEY: And this is a -- I don't see how it's relevant to this

15 hearing.

16 JUDGE LIU: Yes. Mr. Slijepcevic, I think you have to concentrate on the

17 subject of this hearing, which is your client's character and past

18 behaviour. It has nothing to do with the conflict, unless -- unless those

19 conflict is closely related to the matter I mentioned.

20 MR. SLIJEPCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I just wanted to bring the

21 witness to talk about Zvornik. I didn't want to create an unpleasant

22 situation. I just wanted to show you how the witness got to Zvornik.

23 That's why I was asking these questions. But if you don't think that this

24 is necessary, then I will avoid asking them.

25 JUDGE LIU: Yes, please. Let's come to Zvornik as soon as possible.

Page 1512

1 MR. SLIJEPCEVIC: [Interpretation]

2 Q. Mrs. Boskovic, have I understood you correctly? Did you say that on

3 the 7th of May, 1992 someone told you that you should not return home?

4 A. Yes. My husband conveyed this message to me through a woman who was

5 leaving on the 7th, and I was told not to return home.

6 Q. What did you do then?

7 A. I worked in Tuzla until the 15th of May, 1992.

8 Q. What did you do on the 15th of May, 1992?

9 A. I then headed home, and I met a Muslim neighbour of mine who told me

10 that we should leave the place, that some troops had arrived. She doesn't

11 even know where these troops were from, which troops these were, but she

12 said she couldn't help me to leave there.

13 Q. And during that period of time, were you aware of the whereabouts of

14 your husband?

15 A. No, I wasn't.

16 Q. Where did you go on the 15th of May, 1992.

17 A. On the 15th of May, I left with a cousin of mine from Tuzla. We went

18 to Cakovici, where my older son was staying.

19 Q. And from there?

20 A. And from there, I went to Bijeljina on the 16th of May, with my son

21 and cousin. My son and I continued from Bijeljina to Zvornik to find my

22 husband there. When I arrived in Zvornik, I took my eldest son to a

23 relative in Serbia. I returned to Veleki Zvornik again to look for my

24 husband. And they told us that we couldn't contact them, that they were

25 healthy and alive, they had got out on the 8th of May. I couldn't see him

Page 1513

1 or speak to him for a month. Then when he came, we reached agreement and

2 we went to Germany with the two children in June 1992. As he stayed on

3 there on his own, we had contact; we would speak to each other while I was

4 in Germany. He asked me to return with the children; he asked me to return

5 to Zvornik.

6 In October 1992, I returned.

7 Q. At the time, did you see your husband, and where did you live with

8 him?

9 A. He met us there, and we lived in a house in which there were five

10 other families. It was one room. There was one room with the four of us.

11 Q. Was your husband a member of the Republika Srpska army?

12 A. Yes.

13 Q. What happened to your husband?

14 A. He returned there and later on we saw each other on one other

15 occasion. And on the 19th of December, he came to see us in Zvornik and he

16 said that the line had been penetrated and about 130 people had been killed

17 or had gone missing and that he had to leave.

18 He left at that point, and he told us, "Take care of yourselves. I don't

19 know how long I will be." So on the 21st of December, some people appeared

20 and informed us of his death.

21 Q. On the 21st of December, 1992, did you know Mr. Dragan Obrenovic?

22 A. No. The mothers who had been widowed, we needed assistance from

23 someone. We didn't know from whom, but we turned -- we appealed to the

24 army.

25 Q. Did the army provide you with any assistance? And who did so on

Page 1514

1 behalf of the army?

2 A. They told us that we should turn to Dragan Obrenovic, and they told us

3 that we should not all go together but that only a few of us should go to

4 talk to him. They said that they would provide us with assistance that we

5 needed. I was the first to go. It had to do with my husband's funeral,

6 clothes, food, et cetera. With regard to all these matters, the army did

7 provide us with assistance.

8 Q. In the course of 1993, did you receive any aid from Dragan Obrenovic

9 or a representative of the army?

10 A. Yes. For as long as we needed help, we were provided with help on a

11 monthly basis. And if we were short of anything, we would receive the

12 missing goods.

13 Q. Among the group of 130 widows, were there any Muslim women?

14 A. Well, I appeared in Zvornik, but I don't know those people, the

15 inhabitants. People said that they were Muslims, and Muslims would

16 socialise with us in 1992 and 1993, the Muslims who had remained in

17 Zvornik. There were three orphans there, and we would provide them with

18 some of the aid too.

19 Q. Did Dragan Obrenovic make any kind of distinction on the basis of

20 nationality?

21 A. No. He never asked us whom we gave this assistance to. He never

22 asked us what the names of the people who would receive assistance were.

23 He said, "Provide those who need assistance with assistance."

24 Q. Did Dragan Obrenovic ever help you as far as your flat is concerned?

25 A. Yes. In 1992, when my husband was killed, I moved into a flat which

Page 1515












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Page 1516

1 had been taken by a man. I moved into that flat with two children.

2 Someone from the army started maltreating me, and I went to find Dragan

3 Obrenovic to ask him for assistance again, as we had no one else to turn

4 to. He sent a soldier to see me who said, "Just choose who's going to

5 come, so that we know, because this can't happen again. It must not happen

6 again." And then later on it was a little easier for us, since we

7 benefited from someone's support.

8 The most difficult time was in 1994, when my older son was finishing

9 school. I didn't have enough money to buy him a suit, and so Dragan told

10 me to go to his flat and to take whatever my son needed. We went to his

11 flat. He gave him his suit, shirts, ties, shoes, socks. He gave him

12 everything so that he could go to a graduation ceremony with his -- with

13 his circle of friends.

14 Q. Did you at any time hear of Dragan Obrenovic having demonstrated

15 hatred towards members of the Muslim faith?

16 A. No.

17 MR. SLIJEPCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I have no further questions

18 for this witness. Thank you.

19 JUDGE LIU: Thank you.

20 Any questions, Mr. McCloskey?

21 MR. McCLOSKEY: No, Mr. President.

22 JUDGE LIU: Thank you.

23 [Trial Chamber confers]

24 JUDGE LIU: Well, witness, thank you very much for coming to The Hague to

25 give your evidence in these proceedings, and please accept our sympathy to

Page 1517

1 your sufferings during that time. The usher will show you out of the room,

2 and we wish you a pleasant journey back home. Thank you very much.

3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours.

4 [The witness withdrew]

5 JUDGE LIU: Well, I understand that the next witness is a protected

6 witness.

7 MR. WILSON: That's correct, Your Honour.

8 JUDGE LIU: And the -- my suggestion is that we have a 20-minute break and

9 during this time I hope that we'll make the necessary arrangements for the

10 next witness, and we will start in the closed session, as I understand.

11 And Ms. Stewart, would you please move your cart away to makesome room for

12 the next witness; during the break, I mean.

13 So we will resume at quarter to 5.00.

14 --- Recess taken at 4.27 p.m.

15 --- On resuming at 4.50 p.m.

16 [Closed session]

17 (redacted)

18 (redacted)

19 (redacted)

20 (redacted)

21 (redacted)

22 (redacted)

23 (redacted)

24 (redacted)

25 (redacted)

Page 1518












12 Pages 1518 to 1530 redacted, closed session














Page 1531

1 (redacted)

2 (redacted)

3 (redacted)

4 (redacted)

5 (redacted)

6 (redacted)

7 (redacted)

8 (redacted)

9 (redacted)

10 (redacted)

11 [Open session]

12 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. McCloskey, any closing argument?

13 MR. McCLOSKEY: Yes, Mr. President.

14 Mr. President, Your Honours, Mr. Obrenovic, as the deputy commander of a

15 brigade in wartime and as the man in command of the Zvornik Brigade at the

16 time, bears one of the most awesome responsibilities in human endeavours.

17 A military commander has the power of life and death in his hands; he has

18 the power of protecting his own village, his town, his women and children.

19 And of course, as we know, he has the power and responsibility over those

20 in his custody. This is an awesome power, and an even more awesome

21 responsibility. Mr. Obrenovic has stood in this court and looked us in the

22 eye and taken responsibility for the murder of thousands of individuals.

23 What possible sentence can there be for such a crime?

24 But the value to the Prosecution in this case is immense, and it's immense

25 because this man was able to stand up and take that responsibility as a

Page 1532

1 commander, the first commander in this war that I'm aware that was able to

2 do this. And I'll explain to you why that is so valuable, why that is so

3 important, both historically to the former Yugoslavia and to this Tribunal.

4 In 1998, I was part of a team that searched the Zvornik Brigade. I met with

5 Mr. Obrenovic in his office. He waited for the orders of his commanders,

6 and when he got them, he cooperated with us fully. I saw him brief his

7 troops and his staff, and for the next eight to ten hours we had full

8 cooperation and were able to do our job and do our duty without fear,

9 without any problem at all. All we had with us was one major from the

10 United States Army with a sidearm.

11 At that time, I naively saw something in the character of Mr. Obrenovic

12 that I hoped that may some day do the right thing, and today we know he

13 has, and that was much appreciated. But I think it's on a larger scale

14 that Mr. Obrenovic has provided the truth regarding Srebrenica in a simple,

15 clear, articulate fashion, as the commander in charge of one of the most

16 gruesome days in this war.

17 Now, as I've stated before, bringing the truth to the former Yugoslavia,

18 bringing it to the Muslim community and to the Serb community, has

19 historical repercussions and helps us in our duty for peace and

20 reconciliation. We know that from the responses of Muslim leaders and

21 Muslim individuals, many of whom I know that feel this incredible sense of

22 relief that the truth has finally been told by someone of unquestionable

23 military responsibility and character, character in a military sense but

24 not, unfortunately, in the sense of honour that it took at the time to walk

25 away from this. He obviously did not do that; he did not do the right

Page 1533












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13 English transcripts.













Page 1534

1 thing. He chose instead to do what his superiors had ordered him to do in

2 what unfortunately had been a part of this war ever since 1992.

3 But he brings to us today and to the former Yugoslavia and to this Tribunal

4 some hope that reconciliation can happen, that soldiers of his rank can

5 tell the truth and will come forward and will provide some basis for

6 reconciliation. We've seen some of the character of the individuals from

7 the former Yugoslavia in this court today, and that gives us hope that they

8 will take what he has started and take that home with him.

9 And importantly, what does he bring this Tribunal in this particular case?

10 Well, you saw his recounting of the events. You saw the way he answered me

11 questions, the way he is answered Mr. Karnavas's questions, Ms. Sinatra's

12 questions, clearly, concisely, without hesitation, and most importantly

13 without excuse. And I've not heard any excuses today or anything that

14 would lead me to believe that he has not accepted his responsibility. This

15 came across in court clear, and it came across with the kind of strength

16 and the kind of value that a Prosecutor rarely sees in a situation with a

17 cooperating witness. It's the kind of evidence that you will be able to

18 take back to you in your chambers and review word by word, and unless I'm

19 mistaken, you'll be able to count on it. You'll see the rest of the

20 evidence in this case and you'll be able to compare it, and that will be of

21 incredible value to you as the triers of the fact.

22 And I have no doubt that Mr. Obrenovic will testify the same way in the

23 upcoming Srebrenica trials and I'm confident there will be some. Serbia

24 must now look to what is going on in this Tribunal, and they will see the

25 truth. They will see fellow Serbs standing up, like Mr. Nikolic and Mr.

Page 1535

1 Obrenovic. And I have again naive hopes that that will in some way help

2 them, officials there in that country that I believe are harbouring most of

3 the serious accused in this case. And I know Mr. Obrenovic will stand by

4 his word and testify in those manners -- in those matters, like he did in

5 the case before us.

6 And in particular, you have had the benefit of hearing from a VRS

7 commander, brigade commander on military issues of command and control and

8 responsibility. This is an incredibly unique perspective you're getting.

9 The brigade in any army, and I think especially in the VRS, commanded the

10 men that were in the trenches. This was the vast majority of the men.

11 These are the men that, on both sides, fought and died. The commander of

12 the brigade is the one that has the responsibility for those men and for

13 the men under his custody. And we were able to hear from such a commander

14 and hear about his responsibility as a commander. And despite a rigorous

15 and difficult cross-examination, he never wavered from his responsibility

16 as commander and was able to show you what that meant much more than could

17 possibly be told from the regulations or from even the experts of the

18 Prosecution. This is of tremendous value, and it will be so in the future.

19 He was especially able to tell us - and I'm not going to go into the detail

20 on this; it's not appropriate at this time - but he was able to tell us

21 about the security branch and how the security branch worked in the command

22 and to dispel some myths in that regard.

23 As Your Honours know, he also brought to this case materials, original

24 materials, and I have explained in detail to this Court the value of those

25 materials.

Page 1536

1 So when we look at this awful, awful crime, you will ask yourselves - I

2 know you will; I know you probably already have - What possible sentence

3 can there be? But I ask you to look into this recommendation of the

4 Prosecutor, 15 to 20 years, and see that it's reasonable because of the

5 value that this man has provided this Prosecution.

6 There was a day when we stood at the base of the dam at Petkovci with four

7 survivors and huge mass graves in forensic reports and that was it. We're

8 no longer at that stage, and that is to the benefit of this Tribunal, to

9 the benefit of the former Yugoslavia, and I know to the benefit of many

10 Muslims that find great relief in seeing the truth so clearly said.

11 Now, my words today and Mr. Obrenovic's words and your judgement cannot

12 bring back the dead and it cannot assuage the grief and the misery of the

13 women and surviving men of Srebrenica. But I still have some of the naive

14 hopes I had that day in 1998, when we searched the Zvornik Brigade. I

15 think this process that we have entered into and this plea agreement that

16 you have accepted as a review is a very important part of this process, and

17 I trust and I know you will give it your most valued consideration. Thank

18 you very much.

19 JUDGE LIU: Thank you, Mr. McCloskey.

20 [Trial Chamber confers]JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Wilson, do you have any

21 closing argument?

22 MR. WILSON: I do, Your Honour.

23 JUDGE LIU: Yes, please.

24 MR. WILSON: Mr. President, Judge Argibay, Judge Vassylenko, Mr. McCloskey,

25 Mr. Waespi, and staff, Mr. Slijepcevic and I appreciate the opportunity to

Page 1537

1 speak to you on behalf of our client, Dragan Obrenovic. We've had the

2 privilege of representing him for two and a half years during which time he

3 has struggled with trying to resolve the serious charges against him, in

4 trying to reach a resolution of those charges extremely which was

5 appropriate -- I'm sorry, Your Honour.

6 JUDGE LIU: Well, please go slower.

7 MR. WILSON: All right.

8 JUDGE LIU: Because the transcript cannot correctly reflect what you said.

9 MR. WILSON: Very well.

10 JUDGE LIU: And make a pause after every sentence.

11 MR. WILSON: My apologies.

12 I was saying, Your Honour, that we've had the privilege of representing Mr.

13 Obrenovic for two and a half years. We're honoured that he chose us as his

14 lawyers representing him and helping him as he struggled to resolve the

15 extremely serious charges against him and to find a solution that was not

16 only good for him but was also an appropriate solution for the tortured

17 country which he honourably fought for and bled for, has been the

18 professional highlight of the legal careers of myself and Mr. Slijepcevic.

19 We have come to know him as a man of unusual courage, intellect, and

20 commitment.

21 We submit that you have seen those same qualities demonstrated here in your

22 courtroom. We've provided you with two briefs of the subject of

23 sentencing, and I'm not going to stand here this evening and try to go

24 through those. I know that you will read them and study them and give them

25 whatever weight they are due, and we will rest on those briefs as to the

Page 1538

1 subjects that they're covering.

2 What I would like to do this evening is to talk about two issues, two

3 questions which I think that you must consider as you decide what is the

4 appropriate sentence in this case. The first question is: Who is Dragan

5 Obrenovic? The second question is: What should you do you with Dragan

6 Obrenovic?

7 When Mr. Obrenovic made the decision to plead guilty before you, one of the

8 greatest fears of Mr. Slijepcevic and myself was that by pleading guilty at

9 the beginning of the trial, before you had had a full understanding of the

10 facts surrounding his role in these events and, in fact, the events

11 themselves, that we would be at a terrible disadvantage when we came to the

12 day, to the sentencing day.

13 We explained to him that if he pleaded guilty before the trial started, the

14 Trial Chamber would be faced possibly with sentencing him without knowing

15 any of the following things: You would not know that the crimes in

16 question took place while he was at the battle front, in active command of

17 the army units in what the Prosecution experts refer to as pitched, hand-

18 to-hand desperate combat with a vastly superior enemy force; you would not

19 know that the crimes in question took place when he was still officially on

20 convalescent leave, recovering from his earlier combat wounds. There were

21 a whole host of facts in the complex matrix of conditions in Zvornik in

22 July of 1995 that we believe that you would need to know in order to reach

23 an appropriate sentence in this case.

24 We explained to Mr. Obrenovic that even if he felt that he was guilty, he

25 had a right to go to trial and require the Prosecution to prove his guilt

Page 1539












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Page 1540

1 beyond a reasonable doubt. We explained to him that we could mount a very

2 substantial defence to the charges, that he would have numerous witnesses

3 who believed in him and who would testify as to his good character. We

4 told him that if he were found guilty after a two-year trial that at that -

5 -

6 THE INTERPRETER: Could Defence counsel please slow down a bit for the

7 interpreters.

8 MR. WILSON: I'm sorry. Your Honour, I am from the southern US usually

9 they tell me I speak too slowly, so I'll work on that.

10 We told him that if he were found guilty after a two-year trial, that at

11 that time the Trial Chamber would have a much better understanding of his

12 role in these offences and you would be in a better position to determine

13 his sentence. We stress that we felt that a better understanding of the

14 case and of his role in it was that it would be very much to his benefit at

15 any sentencing hearing.

16 There came a time, however, when Mr. Obrenovic thanked us for our legal

17 advice, but pointed out that he had a moral decision to make which was his

18 alone and that he had decided that he didn't want to contest the charges.

19 We agreed with him that ultimately that decision was his and his alone to

20 make. He asked us to approach Mr. McCloskey in open negotiations with the

21 goal of his pleading guilty. We did so, and that process resulted in us

22 being here today.

23 As we address you today, we are relieved that while you haven't had two

24 years' exposure to this case, that you have had an opportunity to -- a

25 substantial opportunity to fairly acquaint yourselves with the basic facts

Page 1541

1 of Srebrenica and with the role played by Mr. Obrenovic in those facts.

2 You know what he did do, but you also know what he did not do. You know

3 what he did, and you know what the numerous other individuals who are

4 fugitives from these charges did. Those individuals include his entire

5 chain of command, even its civilian president. Almost all of those

6 individuals remain fugitives from justice, hiding in the hills of the

7 Balkans, leaving their people to face the world's opprobrium, which has

8 naturally and inevitably flowed from the enormity of their misconduct.

9 You have also had at least some opportunity to get to know the accused,

10 Dragan Obrenovic, the man, as a person. He has appeared before you for

11 almost seven full days of testimony, including rigorous cross-examination

12 by other Defence teams and examinations by Your Honours. We believe that

13 the Prosecution is correct when they note in their brief the following

14 things: That it is "absolutely clear that he provided truthful and

15 complete testimony at the trial; that his testimony was extraordinary in

16 its objectivity, clarity, and integrity; that he testified without

17 hesitation or excuse as to his own acts; that he strived to answer all of

18 the questions truthfully and completely without regard to who asked the

19 questions and without regard to whether the truth helped or hurt any party

20 in the case."

21 In sum, as the Prosecution said, the record speaks for itself and nowhere

22 in that record does the Prosecution find any reason to doubt the testimony

23 of Dragan Obrenovic. Moreover, as Mr. McCloskey has pointed out and as he

24 has repeated this evening, Mr. Obrenovic has provided the Prosecution with

25 something that they have not had before in addressing these cases, and that

Page 1542

1 has his military expertise. He is a person who can explain to the

2 Tribunal, to the triers of fact, the extensive military communications,

3 structures, policies, and manoeuvres which you need to understand in

4 addressing this case.

5 We attached to our brief -- the latest brief -- a copy of the Wall Street

6 Journal editorial noting that "Finally the Tribunal appears to be getting

7 credible testimony which will allow it to move forward on the issue of

8 Srebrenica." We submit that it is beyond question that Mr. Obrenovic has

9 provided substantial cooperation to the Prosecution and to the Tribunal in

10 accomplishing its mission. In doing so, he has clearly met the criteria

11 for establishing mitigation under the Rules of this Court.

12 But if he has mitigated his conduct by pleading guilty and by providing

13 substantial assistance to the Tribunal, we still recognise that you are

14 faced with answering those two questions with which I began my remarks:

15 Who ultimately is Dragan Obrenovic and what should you do with him? We'd

16 like to devote the remainder of our argument to trying to answer these

17 questions.

18 As you know from the witnesses appearing on his behalf, both in Rule 92 bis

19 statements and live here today, he was never a bigoted person or an

20 individual known for mistreating anyone, prisoner or otherwise. You've

21 heard and read the statements of people from both the Serbian and the

22 Muslim community as to individual acts of kindness and courage and a

23 general reputation as a decent human being. Others who could relate

24 similar experiences exist, but did not feel free to come forward. We

25 understand their predicament.

Page 1543

1 We submit to you that the question of who is Dragan Obrenovic and how did

2 he come before you is o complex one. It's complex because Dragan

3 Obrenovic, like everybody else in this courtroom and in the world in which

4 we all exist, is a complex individual. He has strengths and yet

5 weaknesses; he has courage, and at the same time, he has fears. He has

6 noble instincts and yet obviously he has human failings. He's a man with

7 admirable humility, yet at the same time he has a mixture of the pride and

8 ambition which accompanies every successful man and woman and which on

9 occasion leads to our undoing.

10 The Nobel Laureate, William Faulkner, who wrote about a section of my

11 native country known for its own ethnic and racial problems, once said in

12 one of his novels that "no man living or dead is much better than any other

13 man living or dead." I read that passage as a young man, and I never

14 forgot it. I've kept a copy of it during the 37 years I have been a lawyer

15 trying criminal cases in one role or another. I've often returned to that

16 for the simple yet profound truth that it expresses: That we are all

17 imperfect beings, that we are all humans, with all that includes.

18 If you put Dragan Obrenovic under a microscope, he like all the rest of us

19 would turn out to be a complex being, a mixture of the contrasting and

20 conflicting forces that is exist in all of us.

21 By all accounts, until July 13th, 1995, Mr. Obrenovic had for 32 careers

22 lived an exemplary life. He had established a record of which all of us

23 would be proud. Professionally, he represented the cream of the military

24 elite. He was a young man who through his intellect, courage, and natural

25 abilities would have risen to the top of any army in the world. He was a

Page 1544

1 man who was all first among equals in any setting, from his place in his

2 nation's military academy to positions of increasing responsibility. He

3 was admired and respected by his superiors and his subordinates alike and

4 by the civilian community, which he served. He was a somewhat austere man

5 who shunned the fancy cars, uniforms, and other trappings of his rank and

6 position, all of which were his for the asking.

7 He was, in short, a soldier's soldier. He was the type of officer of whom

8 it is said in military circle, his men and women subordinates would have

9 followed him down the barrel of a cannon. He was an officer who led by

10 example, who was not an armchair commander but was always in the thick of

11 battle, whose men knew that he would not ask them to do anything which he

12 himself would not do. He was a man whose penchant for leading from the

13 front led to his serious wounding in the months before Srebrenica, which in

14 turn led to him being on the invalid list when that campaign began, a

15 status he should never have abandoned.

16 In any society, in any army, in any profession, including our own legal

17 profession, young men and women of exceptional ability, like Dragan

18 Obrenovic, are spotted by their elders and marked for great things. They

19 are pushed along at a more rapid pace than their contemporaries. They are

20 given responsibilities and promotions usually reserved for people who are

21 older, more mature, more seasoned, and more experienced. They are any

22 society's golden youth. They are the best we have to offer and our hopes

23 for the future. We, their elders, take pride in our own roles in spotting

24 young people like this and in forwarding and advancing their careers.

25 They, in turn, are led to believe that they can do anything; that no task

Page 1545












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Page 1546

1 is beyond their natural talents and abilities; that intellect and energy

2 are all that's required; and that new and more challenging assignments are

3 simply more opportunities to excel. This was the public Dragan Obrenovic

4 in July 1995, a man who in one of my colleague's cross-examination was

5 accurately described as being on the fast track for advancement in his

6 army, a man who many thought walked on water. But in truth, he did not

7 walk on water in July of 1995.

8 Like the rest of us, for all his abilities and accomplishments, he was all

9 too human and capable of succumbing to fear and failure and the other

10 forces which confronted him, as Zvornik and his small temporary command

11 threatened to fall to the enemy. So when we ask who is Dragan Obrenovic

12 and who was he in July 1995, the answer doesn't end with a list of his

13 remarkable accomplishments to that day and the endorsements of those who

14 knew him, because in addition to that, he was all too human. He was a 32-

15 year-old junior officer who had finally been pushed by his superiors into a

16 position where he was over his head. The military had finally been pushed

17 by his superiors into a position where he was over his head, a military

18 position which the Prosecution called in their opening statement an

19 untenable one, a position in which he could not win. But because he was

20 Dragan Obrenovic, he also could not say no when he was asked to help.

21 When called upon by those military superiors to leave his sickbed and

22 temporarily assume command of part of his brigade in battle, some deadly

23 combination of a sense of duty, hubris, ambition, pride or whatever kept

24 him from saying no. As always he rose to the challenge. But this time he

25 did not move mountains, he failed spectacularly. Given pathetically

Page 1547

1 inadequate forces with which to confront an overwhelming enemy descending

2 upon him from two directions, he threw himself into the struggle, denied

3 permission by his superiors to allow the more powerful Muslim 28th Division

4 to pass through his lines, he fought with what he had. Given the

5 impossible order for more mature generals to destroy the column, he was

6 ridiculed by them for being terrified and pointing out to them that both

7 his small command in the city of Zvornik faced annihilation. He watched

8 helplessly as his own soldiers began to die by the dozens. He fled his

9 command post one step ahead of the enemy, leaving behind his dead and

10 wounded.

11 And into this tableau comes the mad and atrocious plan by his military and

12 civilian leaders to massacre prisoners, a plan hatched, organised, and

13 executed by these so-called leaders from the comfort and security of their

14 own well-guarded headquarters. He has told that this has been ordered from

15 the very highest levels of the army and his government. It is a claim now

16 established by the list of indictments obtained by the Prosecution in the

17 area of Srebrenica. He was told in effect that you yourself "don't have to

18 get your hands dirty, you can continue fighting your battles," but we'll

19 need to borrow some of your MPs and then we'll need to borrow some of your

20 bulldozer drivers to dig the graves, and he should also have foreseen that

21 they might also borrow other people from the Zvornik Brigade to guard

22 prisoners and help out in the logistics.

23 And what did Dragan Obrenovic do when he was faced with this most important

24 test of his life? The young man who could not fail, failed spectacularly.

25 He gave them what they wanted. He directed his own attention to the vastly

Page 1548

1 more acceptable task of fighting the impossible battle.

2 When asked on the witness stand, "Why did you not protest," Dragan

3 Obrenovic admitted what for him must have been one of his most painful

4 admissions, "I was afraid." Given the positions of those people who

5 ordered and carried out the Srebrenica massacres, it's a logical question

6 for any of us studying this case to ask, What would have happened if he had

7 said no to their request for assistance in their gruesome job? Could Major

8 Obrenovic, on the front lines in the hills of Snagovo, have faced down

9 President Karadzic and General Mladic and everyone else up the chain of

10 command? Would they have abandoned their massive crime entailing dozens if

11 not hundreds of their subordinates if he had said no to the request for a

12 dozen MPs or half a dozen MPs on July 13th? Who should he have turned to?

13 His brigade commander? His corps commander? The commanding general of the

14 army? His president? What would have happened to Dragan Obrenovic if he

15 had said no?

16 But in the end, all of these are rhetorical questions because it didn't

17 happen that way, and in defence of himself, Mr. Obrenovic has never asked

18 anyone to speculate for him. Instead, in the words of the Prosecution, he

19 "has always taken responsibility for his actions and he has never offered

20 excuses for his conduct." He did not claim, "There was nothing I could

21 have done" or that "events were beyond my control." Rather, he confessed to

22 the most human of failures: fear - and he has steadfastly accepted

23 responsibility for the consequences of his failure. Nor, we might add, has

24 he ever attempted to blame anyone else for his shortcomings.

25 We respectfully submit to you that no one aware of his failings during

Page 1549

1 those days than Dragan Obrenovic. He is his own worst judge. He knows the

2 impact of his failure more than anyone. He has already sentenced himself.

3 He is like Lady MacBeth, sentenced forever to the Sisyphean task of

4 constantly washing her hands in a futile attempt to erase an indelible

5 stain.

6 And when you ask who is Dragan Obrenovic, you must also take into account

7 his origins and the society from which he came and the special problems of

8 that society, because here again, we are all shaped by our environment and

9 the communities we grew up in. His environment and community was that of

10 Bosnia.

11 As a result of the 1992-1995 war, much has been written about Bosnia in the

12 last decade. Many people who could not have identified it on the map

13 before that event at least have a general impression of it as a tortured

14 land located at one of the world's great cultural crossroads. Others know

15 it from the great literary works of Bosnia's Nobel laureate, Ivo Andric,

16 who told its epic story in his work "The Bridge on the Drina." Andric's

17 great novel, spanning four centuries, provides an unforgettable, uplifting,

18 and ultimately hopeful tapestry of his beautiful country, but Andric was

19 also aware of its darker side, just below the surface.

20 In a letter to a friend in 1920, he wrote the following words:

21 "Perhaps in Bosnia people should be warned everywhere and on every occasion

22 to be aware of hatred, inborn, unconscious, endemic hatred, because in that

23 land shared by four nations and four faiths, four times as much love and

24 mutual sympathy is required as in any other land."

25 Would that Ivo Andric have stood beside Dragan Obrenovic to have whispered

Page 1550

1 in his ear, "Beware...Beware."

2 And so we come to the second ultimate question here today: What should you

3 do with Dragan Obrenovic? Knowing, as he did, that he was to be charged

4 with the role in the crimes of Srebrenica, Dragan Obrenovic had three

5 choices:

6 He could join all of the other accused individuals who remained free and

7 beyond the reach of this Tribunal. Theirs is a precarious existence, yet

8 all of us know that there is a substantial chance that many, if not most of

9 them, will never see The Hague. Many of these who actually planned the

10 executions, actually ordered them, and even pulled the triggers remain free

11 in the Balkans. In the eyes of many of their countrymen, they enjoy the

12 status of heroes and they enjoy the active support of many of those

13 citizens. Dragan Obrenovic had this option when he realised that Mr.

14 McCloskey and his forces were zeroing in on him. He did not flee.

15 He could have contested the charges against him and drug out the issue of

16 his guilt for several more years. Here again he would have enjoyed the

17 continuing status of a hero among many of his fellow countrymen, and if he

18 had been ultimately convicted, he would have been viewed by those same

19 people as not only a hero but now a victim of The Hague. And when, on some

20 future distant date, after he had served whatever sentence given him, he

21 would have returned home and he would have been welcomed back as a hero and

22 a victim by some of those same people. He declined the option of denying

23 his guilt.

24 Instead, he pleaded guilty to his own involvement in the events of

25 Srebrenica and agreed to cooperate with the Tribunal in its efforts to

Page 1551












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Page 1552

1 fairly affix responsibility for what happened in July of 1995. Having

2 rejected two courses of action, which would have made him a hero to many in

3 his home country, he chose a course of action which consigned him to a very

4 different status with those same people; it is a very hard road that he has

5 chosen.

6 In accepting responsibility and cooperating with the Tribunal, Mr.

7 Obrenovic is doing what he can to balance the book of his life. His

8 remorse is genuine. His intentions are to meet his obligations under the

9 plea agreement without reservations, as the Prosecution's note in their

10 brief and in their comments here today.

11 We submit to the Trial Chamber that as human beings, repentance and

12 forgiveness are of the loftiest heights to which human spirits can aspire.

13 None of us can completely insulate ourselves from his or her surroundings

14 in the presses and circumstances of the moment in which he or she finds

15 himself or herself. It's easy for me now, at roughly twice Dragan

16 Obrenovic's age in 1995, to sit in my study in Seattle and say what

17 mistakes I would never permit myself to make. But in the privacy of my

18 innermost thoughts, I have remembered another young man who at 32 was also

19 an officer in another army during another war in another part of the world.

20 And I have asked myself if there were any imaginable circumstances that

21 could ever have made that young man stumble, as did Dragan Obrenovic. And

22 after knowing Mr. Obrenovic for two years, I'm no longer so sure of the

23 answer. I'm delighted that that young man was never -- and relieved that

24 the young man was never subjected to pressures like that. And I'm also

25 delighted that I don't even have to answer the hypothetical question of:

Page 1553

1 Were there such circumstances that could have caused that person to do

2 that?

3 There's an ancient Native American proverb that says one must walk in the

4 moccasins of another person for two days before one can fully understand

5 that person's actions and thoughts. Like many proverbs, it has stood the

6 test of time because it has universal application. It's something we all

7 recognise.

8 No one can completely insulate himself from the pressures around him any

9 more than he or she can step out of the confines of his own nature. More

10 often than not, we're all somewhat cornered by our circumstances.

11 But how one transcends those circumstances or fails to transcend them

12 depends on him and him alone. Civilised society requires individual

13 accountability. If one makes the right choice when others around him are

14 headed down the wrong roads, then properly he becomes the hero to

15 posterity.

16 But if one makes the wrong choice, that's not the end of the matter. His

17 responsibilities do not end and the book of his life is not yet closed. He

18 still must decide what he's going to do about his mistake. Should he

19 refuse to acknowledge it and fold himself into the comforting surroundings

20 of others who have taken that -- made that mistake and are also refusing to

21 acknowledge it, or should he confront that mistake, admit the mistake,

22 repent, and strive to earn forgiveness?

23 We submit that those who choose the latter road of repenting and seeking to

24 remedy their wrongs and obtain forgiveness without question demonstrate an

25 ability to overcome themselves. They also serve as models who provide

Page 1554

1 inspiration and support for the rest of us, as each of us faces our own

2 comparatively mundane crises. The Tribunal has of course recognised this

3 on many cases, including the judgement of the Erdemovic case, also a case

4 flowing from Srebrenica.

5 When I sit down in just a few moments, the active roles of myself and my

6 partner and my friend, Mr. Slijepcevic, before you will end. We have tried

7 to represent Mr. Obrenovic in the manner and toward the goal which he has

8 directed us. We have done our best for him. We will be tendering him now

9 to you for your wise judgement. We tender you not a perfect man, because

10 there aren't any of those. But neither is he an evil man. Instead, we

11 submit to you that we present to you in the form of Dragan Obrenovic simply

12 a good man with many fine qualities who, in the press of the much critical

13 moment in his life, failed to live up to his own standards and those

14 standards that are required by international law.

15 Dragan Obrenovic is a man with many redeeming qualities. He has shown

16 himself worthy of your mercy and deserving of an opportunity to salvage as

17 much of his once-promising life as you're willing to give him. Whatever

18 sentence you give him, he will make the most of it.

19 Considering all of the facts and circumstances of the case but, most

20 importantly, his role in the case, his remorse, his cooperation, and the

21 other mitigating factors which we have set out in our brief, we ask that

22 you sentence him to imprisonment for a period in the range of 8 to 12

23 years. It is a sentence which is appropriately severe given the facts

24 before you which will send the appropriate message to those who need to

25 hear that message and which is consistent with sentences in other cases,

Page 1555

1 such as that of Erdemovic and Plavsic.

2 In closing, Mr. Slijepcevic and I thank you for your courtesy and attention

3 to us as lawyers, not only today but on every day in which we have been

4 privileged to appear before you. Thank you very much.

5 JUDGE LIU: Thank you, Mr. Wilson.

6 [Trial Chamber confers]

7 JUDGE LIU: Well, we understand that Mr. Obrenovic would like to make a

8 statement.

9 Mr. Obrenovic, you may make a statement. Please be seated while making the

10 statement. Please be seated.

11 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours.

12 Your Honours, I am grateful to you for granting me leave to address you

13 today.

14 On the territory of the country in which I was born, shooting from firearms

15 was usual when celebrating the birth of a male child. These shots tell you

16 everything, what a new male member of the family means and what is expected

17 of him - strength, protection; he should be a warrior, a soldier, the head

18 of the family, as they say in our parts. Unfortunately, when other kinds

19 of shooting started in the former Yugoslavia, shooting in war, it was

20 normal for every man, every male child, to put on a uniform, take up a

21 weapon, and go to protect his homeland, his nation, and ultimately his

22 family. This was expected of him. This was his role, a sacred role.

23 There was no choice. You could be either a soldier or a traitor.

24 At the beginning of the war, it seemed as if the war and all it brought

25 with it was impossible, that this wasn't really happening to us, and that

Page 1556

1 everything would be resolved within a few days, and that finally our

2 generation would have a chance. We didn't even notice how we were drawn

3 into the vortex of inter-ethnic hatred and how neighbours were no longer

4 able to live beside each other, how death moved into the vicinity, and we

5 didn't even notice that we had got used to it. Death became our reality.

6 Unfortunately, it became everyday reality. Who before that could have

7 believed that the horrors of war would have become everyday reality? Who

8 could have believed that they could become a part of our lives? Surrounded

9 with horrors, we got used to them and went on living like that.

10 Among those horrors, things happened that were done by people who knew each

11 other, people who, until yesterday, had lived almost as family members

12 together. In Bosnia, a neighbour means more than a relative. In Bosnia,

13 having coffee with your neighbour is a ritual, and this is what we trampled

14 on and forgot. We lost ourselves in hatred and brutality. And in this

15 vortex of terrible misfortune and horror, the horror of Srebrenica

16 happened.

17 I am here before Your Honours because I wish to express my remorse. I have

18 thought for a long time, and I'm always followed by the same thought -

19 guilt. I find it very hard to say this truth. I am to blame for

20 everything I did at that time. I am trying to erase all this and to be

21 what I was not at that time. I am also to blame for what I did not do, for

22 not trying to protect those prisoners. Regardless of the temporary nature

23 of my then-post. I ask myself again and again, What could I have done that

24 I didn't do? Thousands of innocent victims perished. Graves remain

25 behind, refugees general destruction and misfortune and misery. I bear

Page 1557

1 part of the responsibility for this.

2 There is misfortune on all sides that stays behind as a warning that this

3 should never happen again. My testimony and admission of guilt will also

4 remove blame from my nation because it is individual guilt, the guilt of a

5 man named Dragan Obrenovic. I stand by this. I am responsible for this.

6 The guilt for this I feel remorse and for which I apologise to the victims

7 and to their shadows, I will be happy if this contributed to reconciliation

8 in Bosnia, if neighbours can again shake hands, if our children can again

9 play games together, and if they have the right to a chance.

10 I will be happy if my testimony helps the families of victims, if I can

11 spare them having to testify again and thus relive the horrors and the pain

12 during their testimony. It is my wish that my testimony should help

13 prevent this ever happening again, not just in Bosnia, but anywhere in the

14 world. It is too late for me now, but for the children living in Bosnia

15 now, it's not too late and I hope that this will be a good warning to them.

16 In our wartime sufferings, no one has come out as the victim; everybody is

17 suffering now. On all sides, there is still pain. What has won the

18 victory is misfortune and unhappiness, as a consequence of blind hatred.

19 The spirit of this unhappiness still hovers over our Bosnian hills, which

20 have suffered so much, and it will take years to wipe out the traces of

21 this horrible war and to have smoke rise again from people's chimneys, from

22 the hearths, and maybe decades will have to pass before the wounds in

23 people's souls are healed. If my confession, my testimony, and my remorse,

24 if my attempt to face myself contributes to the quicker healing of these

25 wounds, I will have done my duty of a soldier, a fighter, a human being,

Page 1558

1 and a father.

2 In the end, I wish to thank the Prosecution for their efforts to establish

3 the truth and for their efforts to have justice done. I would like to

4 thank you, Your Honours, for listening to me so attentively throughout my

5 testimony. I tried to answer every question put to me as correctly and

6 truthfully as I could.

7 Thank you.

8 [Trial Chamber confers]

9 JUDGE LIU: Well, it seems to me that the Judges have no questions to put

10 to Mr. Obrenovic after he made his statement.

11 At this stage, are there any other matters that the parties would like to

12 bring to the attention of this Bench?

13 Mr. McCloskey?

14 MR. McCLOSKEY: No, Mr. President.

15 JUDGE LIU: Thank you.

16 Mr. Wilson?

17 MR. WILSON: No, Your Honour.

18 JUDGE LIU: Thank you.

19 This Trial Chamber will withdraw to elaborate the evidence admitted in

20 these proceedings as well as the testimonies given by the witnesses today.

21 In the meantime, the Chamber will issue an order instructing the Registrar

22 to set a date for the delivering of the judgement before the winter recess,

23 probably in December.

24 Having said that, I declare that this hearing is closed.

25 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 6.17 p.m.