1 Wednesday, 25 May 2005
2 [Open session]
3 --- Upon commencing at 2.30 p.m.
4 [The accused entered court]
5 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Madam Registrar, could you call the case,
7 THE REGISTRAR: Good afternoon, Your Honours. This is the case
8 number IT-03-68-T, the Prosecutor versus Naser Oric.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, Madam, and good afternoon to you.
10 Mr. Oric, usual question, are you receiving interpretation in your
12 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Good afternoon, Your Honours, ladies
13 and gentlemen, I can hear the interpretation in my own language and I
14 understand it completely.
15 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. Good afternoon, and you may sit down.
16 Appearances for the Prosecution?
17 MS. SELLERS: Good afternoon, Your Honours, I'm Patricia Sellers
18 for the Prosecution. With me today is Ms. Joanne Richardson who is
19 co-counsel and Ms. Donnica Henry-Frijlink who is our case manager.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, Madam, and good afternoon for you and
21 your team.
22 Appearances for Naser Oric?
23 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Good afternoon, Your Honours.
24 Appearing on behalf of Naser Oric are Mrs. Vasvija Vidovic, lead counsel,
25 Mr. John Jones, co-counsel, and with us are Adisa Mehic our legal
1 assistant and Mr. Geoff Roberts, CaseMap manager.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, Madam, and good afternoon to you and
3 your team.
4 So any preliminaries before we bring in the witness?
5 MS. SELLERS: Yes, Your Honour, we do have some preliminaries and
6 they are basically announcements. I would like to tell you that we have
7 informed the Defence counsel of these announcements. First of all, we
8 will be handing up hard copies of the transcripts of the Oric interview,
9 which means P328 and P329. In addition to that we would like to bring
10 your attention that P329 included a videotape, number 7, which was
11 actually duplicated, meaning that we had two videotapes number 7 but it
12 was put under the heading of videotape number 8 and today we are
13 rectifying that. In that manner the interview that took place on the
14 morning of May 21st 2001 is now correctly entitled videotape number 8 and
15 this is part of ERN number V002920. This should substitute -- this number
16 8 tape we are handing up today should substitute for the number 8 tape
17 that was handed up on the 10th of January and that has also been explained
18 to the Registrar.
19 The last thing I would like to inform the Trial Chamber of is that
20 there were a series of translations that numbered 38 and they were
21 translations that had not accompanied the Prosecution exhibits. They were
22 English translations and they also are being handed up today.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, Ms. Sellers. Any remarks from your
24 side? Madam Vidovic?
25 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. No
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. Let's bring the witness in, please.
3 [The witness entered court]
4 JUDGE AGIUS: Good afternoon to you, Mr. Omerovic.
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good afternoon, Your Honour.
6 JUDGE AGIUS: I will be -- and others will be also speaking in
7 English and while we speak what we are saying is being interpreted to you
8 or should be interpreted to you in your language. I want to make sure
9 first and foremost that you are receiving interpretation in your own
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I am receiving interpretation in my
12 own language.
13 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. If at any time during these proceedings
14 while you are here there are problems with your receiving interpretation,
15 please draw our attention straight away and we will rectify it.
16 I welcome you to this Tribunal and also to this Trial Chamber
17 which is presiding over the trial against Naser Oric. You are a witness
18 for the Prosecution, you have been summoned by the Prosecution, and as a
19 witness of this Tribunal, you are required before you start giving
20 evidence to make a solemn declaration equivalent to an oath, in the sense
21 that in the course of your testimony, you will speak the truth, the whole
22 truth, and nothing but the truth. As an ex-judge, I don't need to explain
23 this to you. You are going to be handed the text of the declaration.
24 Please read it out in a way that we can hear you and that will be your
25 solemn undertaking with us.
1 THE WITNESS: I solemnly declare that I will tell the truth, the
2 whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
3 WITNESS: MENSUD OMEROVIC
4 [Witness answered through interpreter]
5 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, sir. Please take a seat.
6 Ms. Richardson is going first and she will ask you a series of
7 questions. I understand she is going to finish with her questions today.
8 She will then be followed by Madam Vidovic tomorrow who will be
9 cross-examining you, and she's lead counsel for Naser Oric.
10 Ms. Richardson, you can lead the witness in the initial part as
11 regards the straightforward questions which I take it will not be
13 Examined by Ms. Richardson:
14 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you, Your Honour.
15 Q. Good afternoon, Mr. Omerovic, please state your full name for the
17 A. Mensud Omerovic.
18 Q. Please could be confirm the following information with either yes
19 or no. You were born on the 3rd of January, 1965.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: 1963, I have.
21 MS. RICHARDSON: 1963, excuse me. Thank you, Your Honour.
22 Q. That's correct, 1963?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. You were married and you are of Muslim ethnicity?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. You have two children?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. You are a lawyer and also a former judge?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. You are presently a lawyer, correct?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. You were born in Kruseva Do but you later moved with your family
8 to Bratunac?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Thank you. And you resided in Bratunac until 1992?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. You presently reside in Sarajevo?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. With respect to your criminal -- excuse me, your military
15 training, you completed this in October of 1981 and that was with the JNA?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. I'm now going to go over your professional experience. You were a
18 student and graduated from the faculty of law in Sarajevo in 1987?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. You worked as an intern in the offence court of
21 Bratunac ... [microphone not activated].
22 JUDGE AGIUS: I seem to have lost the audio.
23 [No audio]
24 MS. RICHARDSON: I'll repeat my question.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: I can hear you now. Thank you. I could hear you
1 before but not through the headphones.
2 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you.
3 Q. Mr. Omerovic could you please confirm that you worked as an intern
4 in the office of the offence court in Bratunac in 1987 and then you
5 continued working there for two and a half years? You need to answer
6 verbally so it can be recorded.
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. And what type of offences -- if you could just briefly tell
9 Your Honours that you were involved with in Bratunac?
10 A. The misdemeanour court has the jurisdiction over offences
11 prescribed by law. First and foremost, traffic violations, as defined by
12 the law on traffic safety. Then issues dealing with public order,
13 prescribed by that piece of legislation. And misdemeanour contained in
14 the tax law as well as the offences in the law on the use of natural
15 resources such as water, forests, et cetera. And the sanctions are
16 prescribed for the violations of these provisions. That is the real
17 jurisdiction of the misdemeanour court and there is also the basic act
18 regulating the procedure before such a court.
19 Q. For the two and a half years, could you tell us what your duties
20 were in that court? What was your main function, without going into too
21 much detail?
22 A. I didn't receive the interpretation.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes.
24 MS. RICHARDSON: I'll repeat the question.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, I think that's the only way of doing it.
1 Either you or I can read it out and the interpreters will translate it.
2 MS. RICHARDSON: That's fine.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: The question was the following: For the two and a
4 half years could you tell us what your duties were in that court? What
5 was your main function, without going into much detail?
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] First I worked as an intern with the
7 misdemeanour court for a year, after which I took the exam to become a
8 judge in a misdemeanour court and then I continued for another year and a
9 half to work as an expert associate. So I presided over misdemeanour
10 proceedings and I would issue decisions.
11 MS. RICHARDSON:
12 Q. Following that position in the Court of the offence court of
13 Bratunac also referred to as the misdemeanour court, could you confirm
14 that you were a lawyer for the office for commerce and social affairs in
15 1990 and following that position you worked as an inspector for taxation
16 in Bratunac in 1991?
17 A. Yes. For six months I worked with the department for commerce and
18 social affairs, with the municipality of Bratunac, and then since 1991
19 until the war broke out I worked as an inspector with the tax authorities.
20 Q. Now, following your position in Bratunac in 1991, as an inspector,
21 could you also confirm the following information, and I'm keeping this
22 somewhat brief. I understand that there may have been other incidents
23 that occurred during this period of time but we are short on time. If you
24 could confirm that you left Bratunac because -- in April of 1992 because
25 there were tensions in the area, in your village and the surrounding
1 villages as well?
2 A. I left Bratunac on the 11th of April and the reason for leaving
3 Bratunac was that I was afraid for my own security because the local Serbs
4 set up checkpoints on all exits from the town, that is on all the streets
5 that one could take to get out of the town. There they established
6 checkpoints with armed personnel and immediately prior to the 11th of
7 April, Zvornik was attacked. A few days earlier and perhaps 20 days
8 earlier, the same happened in Bijeljina and I thought Bratunac was next
9 because it was the next town by the Drina. So I was afraid that the Serb
10 forces would attack Bratunac and that I wouldn't be able to get out. And
11 out of fear for my own life and the safety of my family I decided to leave
12 Bratunac and to stay with our family in the country near Srebrenica.
13 Q. Thank you. And you arrived in Srebrenica in mid-July 1992; is
14 that correct?
15 A. Having spent three months in the village of Krusev Dol with my
16 uncle and since there was the general shortage of food - his family didn't
17 have enough for themselves - so I decided to move to Srebrenica together
18 with my wife and son, since the Serb forces withdrew from Srebrenica and
19 it seemed there was -- there were abandoned apartments that we could be
20 accommodated in. So by mid-June we were in Srebrenica and we came from
21 that village in which I spent the three months.
22 Q. Prior to your arrival in Srebrenica in July of 1992, had you been
23 to Srebrenica before?
24 A. I did quite often. Srebrenica is ten kilometres away from
25 Bratunac so I went there frequently.
1 Q. And when you arrived in Srebrenica, you testified that you were in
2 an apartment. Could you tell us if you know who the owner of that
3 apartment was?
4 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Madam Vidovic?
5 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, if my colleague from
6 the Prosecution would not pose questions leading the witness from now on.
7 MS. RICHARDSON: Your Honour, I believe I asked who the owner of
8 the apartment was. I don't believe that's a leading question.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: I don't see any validity in your objection.
10 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
11 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, let's proceed. Let's proceed with your
12 question and with the answer. I don't think we can sustain the objection.
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] After having come to Srebrenica, I
14 spent the night in an apartment in which my sister and my brother-in-law
15 were accommodated as refugees. They were in a Muslim apartment. It was a
16 very small apartment, studio-type apartment. We spent the night there and
17 then the sister of a woman who lived in the same building found out that
18 there was an empty apartment available from which a Serb family left
19 earlier. They took their things with them and left for Serbia. The key
20 to the apartment was in possession of that other woman in the building and
21 until our arrival, there was a woman in the apartment from one of the
22 villages around Srebrenica because her village was in danger so she fled.
23 But since the village was not burned down, she returned. So the apartment
24 stayed empty. We got the key and we moved in. It was a larger apartment
25 with two completely empty rooms. There were only two very old couches,
1 and a wooden stove and a bit of other furniture. That's all that was in
2 the apartment.
3 Q. Were there many other such apartments that had been abandoned?
4 A. At the beginning of April, based on my knowledge, Srebrenica was
5 left by almost all Bosniaks and Serbs because the Serbs took over. So
6 even a greater portion of the Serb population left prior to the combat
7 activities. So most of the apartments were empty.
8 Q. And who occupied these apartments? You said you and your family
9 occupied one of them. Who occupied the other apartments? And if you
10 could tell us what month you're referring to.
11 A. I came in July. Perhaps on the 15th or the 17th I arrived to
12 Srebrenica, and there were a lot of refugees in Srebrenica at the time
13 from the municipality of Bratunac from the villages of Voljevica, Zaluzje,
14 Bilice, Prisulja [phoen], Tegare and so on and so forth. I saw those
15 people because I knew a lot of them from before. They fled at the very
16 beginning to the villages surrounding Srebrenica such as Mocevice,
17 Podloznik, Strozersko, et cetera. They were accommodated in the houses of
18 the people who lived in those villages so these houses were very full.
19 There were up to 20 or 30 refugees per house, and since they had no room
20 to sleep, they had to sleep on the floor.
21 They ran out of food very quickly, the food that those people who
22 lived in those houses prior to that had. And as soon as the Serbs left
23 Srebrenica, I don't know exactly what month that was in 1992, but those
24 people simply moved from those houses where they why accommodated
25 temporarily to the town so that they could find accommodation because in
1 those villages they did not even have the bare necessities and I was told
2 this personally by my sister who did live in such a house in the village
3 of Mocevice where there were over 20 people and they had to sleep on the
4 floor and they had no food left.
5 Q. For all of 1992, and when I say all I should say from the time you
6 arrived in Srebrenica, July, August, through December, were most of the
7 refugees living in these apartments that had been abandoned?
8 A. Yes. In apartments and in houses. There were also very many
9 empty houses. My wife's sister lived in an empty house which belonged to
10 her family in Srebrenica, there were also very many Muslim flats and
11 houses and people had friends who gave them their house keys and then they
12 moved in. My brother and his family moved into a Bosniak flat belonging
13 to a colleague of his who had left for Tuzla in April. This friend of his
14 had an apartment and he allowed my brother to move into it with his
15 family. My sister also lived in a Bosniak flat in the same building I was
16 living in. My wife's sister was in a Bosniak house belonging to relatives
17 of hers. So people who had relatives or friends would get house keys from
18 them and then they would go and live in those flats and houses.
19 Q. Just staying on the housing issue with respect to refugees for one
20 moment, could you tell us if they came a point in time, just very briefly,
21 when the refugees -- where there was no more apartments or houses
22 available and the refugees were -- were some place else?
23 A. In September, perhaps, there was a wave of refugees from the Zepa
24 and Han Pijesak area. There were fierce attacks on those villages. Parts
25 of those villages were burned down. People were expelled and they set out
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 towards Srebrenica which was some sort of free territory and then sometime
2 around September, very many refugees arrived to the town centre from those
3 areas and people simply went to live wherever they could. This was
4 bearable until the time in 1993 when there was a fierce offensive against
5 Srpska, Konjevic Polje, Glogova, in the Bratunac municipality and other
6 villages in the Bratunac municipality, Podloznik, parts of Pirici and the
7 villages overlooking Srebrenica. This was a large, free area, and all
8 these people fled the Serb attacks. They left their houses, their houses
9 were burned, they all arrived in Srebrenica, and the situation was
10 disastrous. There was no accommodation left anywhere. People remained
11 outdoors. It was snowing. They lit fires, they used books, paper,
12 whatever they could find, to feed the fires and women and children sat
13 around these fires and it was a very, very upsetting sight to see all
14 this. They would sit there all night.
15 Q. Thank you. Now, when you arrived in Srebrenica in July of 1992,
16 were you aware of the presence of the Territorial Defence?
17 A. Some kind of organisation did exist. It was in fact a village
18 organisation. As the Serbs attacked and set fire to parts of villages,
19 the people who fled gathered together in the villages that remained free
20 and they simply agreed with each other that they had to resist, that they
21 had to defend themselves or they would be killed. So all of these
22 villages or groups of villages had their own local unit of sorts to defend
23 the village. That was what was like in Kruseva Do where I spent the first
24 three months. People simply gathered in a field and when they realised we
25 would all be killed, we gathered together and one of those men was elected
1 kind of commander and then some sort of guards or night patrols were
2 organised at the approaches to the village. But there was all very poorly
3 organised. There weren't any weapons. People had some hunting weapons,
4 perhaps, but they didn't want to lend them to other people. People would
5 fail to turn up for guard duty and so on.
6 Q. I need to stop you here because I need you to respond to my
7 question with respect to Srebrenica only. We are running short of time,
8 so if you could limit your answer to your knowledge of the Territorial
9 Defence in Srebrenica, I'd greatly appreciate it.
10 Now, did you learn whether or not the Srebrenica had a Territorial
11 Defence and whether anyone -- whether there was a commander of that
12 Territorial Defence?
13 A. I didn't observe on my arrival in Srebrenica that there was some
14 sort of command. I really didn't notice any such thing. In the village,
15 there were some kind of village units around Srebrenica but in Srebrenica
16 itself, I really was not aware of the existence of any kind of command.
17 Q. Did you learn of anyone by the name of Naser Oric?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. What did you learn his role was, if any, in Srebrenica?
20 A. I learned that the local people, the local village commanders, or
21 whatever you might call them, the leaders of the village defence, had a
22 meeting and agreed that Naser should be the main commander for the entire
23 defence. Somebody who would be the main man. I learned that from
25 Q. Thank you. Did you know Naser Oric before this period of time, in
1 July of 1992, before your arrival in Srebrenica?
2 A. In 1992, I would see him around. I didn't know him personally. I
3 would see him around town. He was driving a Renault 5. He used to drive
4 fast. I didn't know him personally. I didn't have a chance to meet him
6 Q. Did there come a time that you were -- while you were in
7 Srebrenica that you were approached about the establishment of a court for
9 A. At one point in time, I think I was on my way to get water. As we
10 were short of water, we had to go to a fountain and queue up to get water,
11 and as I was on my way there, I met Professor Nijaz Masic. He was a
12 professor of history - I knew him from before the war - and he told me
13 that he wanted a court to be established in Srebrenica. He actually said
14 a military court martial. I told him I didn't know there were any such
15 things as military court martials. Probably somebody who was not a lawyer
16 and who was ignorant of the law used that expression. I said there were
17 military courts, military prosecutors' offices and if somebody wanted to
18 establish a court it had to be a regular military court and there also had
19 to be an appeals court, that there had to be a military Prosecutor and so
20 on and so forth, that this had to follow a regular, legal procedure in
21 compliance with the legislation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Probably
22 somebody who was ignorant, because I know that in the last war, the
23 Partisans had in their units court martials which punished a soldier if he
24 stole something or did something else, and the commander would pass
25 judgement on the spot. So probably somebody in their ignorance used that
1 expression, military court martial, but in the legal framework, there is
2 no such thing provided for.
3 Q. Mr. Omerovic, I'd like to just go back just briefly to a series of
4 questions. You mentioned - we will get back to the court in a moment -
5 you mentioned that there was a shortage of food in Srebrenica during the
6 time you were present and I'd like you to keep your answer as brief as
7 possible. Could you tell the Trial Chamber how the -- how it was that
8 people went about getting food in Srebrenica? And if you could be as
9 brief as possible, I'd appreciate it.
10 A. When I arrived in Srebrenica in July, there was absolutely no food
11 there. The Srebrenica area is not very well supplied with food. The area
12 around Srebrenica is farm country and up until October, people would go to
13 the village of Voljevica under cover of night. In the Bratunac
14 municipality, they would pass through the Chetnik lines through the woods.
15 Columns of some ten people would go to the village of Voljevica from which
16 the inhabitants had been expelled and they would collect corn, wheat,
17 whatever they found in sacks and by night they would bring this to
19 Once when I was short of food, I myself went to the village of
20 Voljevica by night with one such group. It was really a very unpleasant
21 experience. We walked through the beds of streams, through the woods, it
22 was night, and when we approached the village, there were Chetniks down
23 there. They noticed us and opened fire. Then they set fire to a house.
24 We got scared and started to flee and then I lost my glasses and the glass
25 broke. We managed to collect some maize and some wheat in front of a
1 house. The maize was used as cattle feed and at around midnight, we set
2 out to return to Srebrenica along the same route. It started to rain. It
3 was dark. You couldn't see anything. And at one point the Chetniks saw
4 us and we fled every which way. I threw away what I was carrying and I
5 arrived in Srebrenica without anything. Some people managed to bring back
6 something and I never dared go down that way again because it was truly a
7 terrifying experience. However, until October, as long as there was food
8 there, people would take that route by night, including women and old
9 children, and that's how they would get food.
10 There was a little food that you could get from the local
11 population who had remained in their homes, but these were purely symbolic
12 quantities because they themselves were short of food. On several
13 occasions I would visit acquaintances or my wife's relatives and they
14 would give us a kilogram or two of flour and perhaps a few vegetables and
15 it was barely enough to survive on. So we were constantly hungry.
16 Q. I'd like to bring your attention specifically to December of 1992,
17 the area of Loznica Rijeka. Do you recall that period -- period of time
18 in that area?
19 A. Yes, I recall that. I have to say something before I go into
20 that. In October I went to get water in the morning, and I saw that the
21 town was empty. I found this strange. There was no one around, only an
22 elderly woman or two or an old man, and then I found out that on that day,
23 there was an operation to get food in the villages of Zanjevo, Abdulici,
24 Fakovici, and all the people had left the town. I didn't even know that
25 people were going there in search of food, and secondly, this was far
1 away. I was not physically fit enough and I wasn't used to finding my way
2 about. However, in December, when there was an action, when there was no
3 food left in the town, and an action was organised to get food, I set out
4 by night from Srebrenica. It was about 4 a.m., and I went through the old
5 town. We arrived at the village of Pribicevac and then we went downhill
6 next to the village, and when dawn broke - it was about 7.00 in the
7 morning - we were in front of the village of Podloznik. All of a sudden,
8 in our immediate vicinity, some 20 or 30 metres away, three shells landed.
9 Huge shells. And they wounded a woman who was right next to me. Her name
10 is Hajra. We carried her into a house. There was a garage downstairs.
11 The house was unfinished, and some 20 of us took shelter there. We
12 bandaged her leg. She had been wounded in the leg by shrapnel, and as
13 shells were falling, you could hear planes dropping bombs. We didn't dare
14 go any further. We went to a Bosniak house which was nearby in the
15 village of Podloznik and I spent a few hours there, and then simply I
16 didn't dare go any further. So in the afternoon, I went back towards
17 Srebrenica. At about a kilometre away from Podloznik, when I was on my
18 way back, a small plane with two wings appeared above us and started
19 shooting at us. It was a biplane, and there was a column of men, women
20 and children, including elderly men, the plane was flying low over head, a
21 hundred or two hundred metres up, and they fired at us from machine-guns.
22 I tried to hide in a haystack but I couldn't get into it. It was
23 terrible, it was really terrible.
24 Q. Thank you, Mr. Omerovic. Let me stop you so I could pose another
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Could the witness possibly remember the exact date
2 of this event?
3 MS. RICHARDSON:
4 Q. If you could please, Mr. Omerovic, answer His Honour's question?
5 JUDGE AGIUS: He's told us he's referring to events in December.
6 I'm not sure, but --
7 MS. RICHARDSON: December. Correct, Your Honour.
8 Q. Mr. Omerovic, do you recall the day -- the exact day in December
9 that this occurred?
10 A. This was sometime in mid-December, maybe the 14th or the 15th. In
11 the middle of December. It could have been the 14th, it might have been
12 the 15th. I can't be 100 per cent certain.
13 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Judge Eser?
14 JUDGE ESER: Could you please repeat the name of this village
15 because it did not appear on our transcript. The name of the village
16 where you went to.
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Podloznik. I didn't get as far as
18 the Loznica river or Bjelovac, I simply arrived in the village of
19 Podloznik. It was a Bosniak village which was still inhabited at the
20 time. The people still hadn't been expelled. I didn't go as far as the
21 Loznica river because there was already shelling there and the bombing, so
22 I didn't dare go there, neither I nor the people who were with me in that
24 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you.
25 MS. RICHARDSON:
1 Q. Who conducted the operations you just testified about? You state
2 that operations were conducted you noticed in October that the town was
3 empty as well. Could you tell Your Honours who conducted the operations?
4 JUDGE AGIUS: If he knows.
5 MS. RICHARDSON:
6 Q. If you know.
7 A. I really don't know who. I can't say who conducted the
8 operations. I really couldn't confirm that, because what I know about
9 this, well, I was not involved in that in any way.
10 Q. How did people learn of the operations?
11 A. In Srebrenica, it was difficult to tell soldiers and civilians
12 apart because people lived with their families. Some people went to stand
13 guard. Others didn't. There was never an army that was established with
14 responsibility, with order, an army like the one I served in before.
15 People continued to live in their houses. If they had a weapon they kept
16 it at home. They went on living with their families and you could never
17 be certain whether someone was in the army or not. There were large
18 numbers of people living in my building who never went to participate in
19 any kind of operation, and some people did. It was only those who were
20 duty-bound, who had lived in the villages surrounding Srebrenica which
21 were directly on the front line, it was those people who went to take up
22 shifts. But in the town itself, there was never any kind of military
23 organisation, and there was no one who could mobilise those people.
24 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Madam Vidovic?
25 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, let's just clarify.
1 The witness is using the word "action" all the time and the Prosecutor is
2 persistently using the word "operation." Could we have this clarified?
3 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes.
4 MS. RICHARDSON: Your Honour, I believe the witness said
6 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. Do you distinguish between an operation and an
7 action, Mr. Omerovic?
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. Terminologically, those are
9 two different things. An operation in my view implies an expert team. It
10 implies professionally developed plans, some kind of hierarchy,
11 organisation, and so on and so forth. These were actions to get food, to
12 survive in a city that was under siege, because no food and no aid arrived
13 from anywhere. Until October, food was brought from the village of
14 Voljevica, a Muslim village in Bratunac municipality. I know that for
15 three days food was taken from the villages of Zanjevo and Abdulici,
16 because that was a very wealthy village, and for three days people went to
17 the villages of Jago [phoen] and Osalo [phoen] because three days after
18 this action I went to see my wife's family in the village of Jagonja
19 [phoen] and they gave me a little food because they had brought it up
20 from --
21 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. Thank you. Well, you've got an answer from
22 him as to regards -- as regards operations and actions. And he seems to
23 be talking of actions but he did mention operation before so if you want
24 to direct the question to him, what he meant by that, you're free to do
1 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you, Your Honour.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: If it is necessary, because I think the matter has
3 been superseded.
4 Yes, Madam Vidovic
5 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, the witness used the
6 word "action". It was interpreted as "operations." That's why I
7 intervened, among other things.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. So if it's a question of interpretation,
9 I suppose we can move forward.
10 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you, Your Honour.
11 Q. Mr. Omerovic, were soldiers involved in the actions?
12 A. The people who lived in Srebrenica, who had weapons, for example,
13 to be specific, when this action to get food was carried out, I was in a
14 column together with women, men, elderly men, even children, ten year old
15 children. I also saw men with weapons. Perhaps we could call them
16 soldiers. These soldiers in Srebrenica had wives, children, parents,
17 families in Srebrenica, and they were trying to get hold of food. These
18 actions in essence had as their main goal to get food, enough food to
19 survive until the issue of Srebrenica was solved. We were expecting
20 someone to solve the issue of Srebrenica because we were unable to defend
21 ourselves and we had nothing to live on.
22 Q. Thank you. I would like to bring you back at this time to the
23 discussion about the Court that you had with Professor Masic, if I'm
24 pronouncing his name correctly, and if I am not, please correct me. After
25 you told him that there was no such thing as a military court martial,
1 what was his response?
2 A. He told me that he would pass this on to someone. Professor Masic
3 had fled from Bratunac, from the village of Voljevica where he had lived
4 until the war, and he was -- he had been in Srebrenica throughout this
5 time and he knew the people who were working in the municipalities, people
6 who were important in some way. When I arrived in mid-July, I didn't know
7 anyone so he told me he would pass this on to someone. I don't know who,
8 but that's what he told me.
9 Q. Did there come a time that you were asked again about this --
10 about establishing a court? And could you tell us the Trial Chamber when
11 that was?
12 A. At the session of the War Presidency, I was invited by a colleague
13 of mine, a good friend who had been at university with me, and at that
14 time he was the secretary of the War Presidency. His name was Esad Nukic.
15 I can't remember the exact date but there are minutes from that session
16 and he told me that there would be some discussion about the establishing
17 of a court and that it might be a good idea if I were to attend and
18 provide an explanation. I attended this one session where one of the
19 items on the agenda was the issue of the so-called military court martial.
20 Q. Okay. Before we get to this agenda, could you tell Your Honours
21 who was present at this meeting?
22 A. Present at the meeting were several people. It included too many
23 people. My impression was that this was a meeting in which there were
24 other participants, not only members of the War Presidency but also the
25 representatives of the villages who organised their defence, and from each
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 of the villages there was a -- one representative. That's the impression
2 I got. There was also Avdic Hajrudin who was the president of the War
3 Presidency. Then there was the secretary as well as Osman Osmanovic.
4 Q. Let me just stop you. If you know, could you tell Your Honours
5 what the position held by each person you naming as present at the
6 meeting. For instance, Osman Osmanovic, if you know?
7 JUDGE AGIUS: Hasn't that been established by other witnesses? Do
8 we need to re-establish it again by means of this witness? I don't know.
9 It's up to you. You're free to make your question but if this has already
10 been --
11 MS. RICHARDSON: I understand your point but I do think it's
12 important to -- as a follow-up.
13 JUDGE AGIUS: Go ahead.
14 MS. RICHARDSON:
15 Q. Do you know what position Osman Osmanovic held?
16 A. Until that moment, I didn't know that, but then and there I
17 learned that he held the function of the head of the TO staff of
18 Srebrenica. That's when I found out.
19 Q. Fine. And who else was at this meeting?
20 A. Hamed Salihovic was present. Then Nijaz Masic. There was a
21 representative from the postal office, Hamed Alic, and I can't remember
22 the rest. Yes, there was Zulfo Tursunovic and some other people,
23 representatives from the villages. I believe there was also Mirsad Dudic
24 and perhaps Nedzad Bektic but I'm not sure. So there were several people
25 comprising 15 or even 20 people.
1 Q. Do you recall the date of this meeting?
2 A. I can't recall precisely. It may have been in November, maybe
3 even early December. So the end of November, the beginning of December.
4 I can't be more precise since a lot of time had elapsed.
5 MS. RICHARDSON: Your Honour, at this time I would like the
6 usher's assistance, I will be -- we will be using with this witness P84.
7 And we would ask that the English be placed on the ELMO.
8 English version, I would ask the ushers to place the document
9 starting on page 19 and it's dated 19th of November, 1992. For the
10 purposes of the witness, it's ERN 02115068. I would like the witness to
11 look at -- just for the record I will put the ERN number with respect to
12 the English. I believe it's 02115068 as well, page 19. We do have
13 another ERN number. If I could have a moment, Your Honour.
14 All right. That's the ERN number we will be using.
15 Q. Mr. Omerovic, if you could look at pages -- I will be directing
16 you to pages in the B/C/S version, ERN number 02115068, 69, 70, 71 and 72.
17 Prior to -- my first question is, prior to your arrival in The Hague, had
18 you seen this document, specifically this excerpt, before?
19 A. No.
20 Q. If you could just -- well, let's take it one page at a time.
21 Beginning on the first page, it's dated -- and that's page 19 of the
22 English, the date is 9th of November 1992. It states "meeting of the
23 joint" -- "meeting of the War Presidency and the Srebrenica armed forces
24 staff." There is an agenda. If you could look at the agenda, 1 through
25 8, and tell Your Honours if this represents the discussion or the items
1 that were discussed in that meeting you just testified about?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Go to the next page. 039 -- excuse me, 03090724. This is page 20
4 of the English version of the document.
5 MR. JONES: So we can follow, Your Honour, is this witness saying
6 that he was at this meeting? We had the -- whether it's the discussion or
7 the list of the issues.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: This is how I take it.
9 MR. JONES: Perhaps he could be asked directly so we could follow.
10 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, by all means.
11 Mr. Omerovic, just to clarify this, you have been directed
12 specifically to what appear to be minutes of a meeting or joint meeting of
13 the War Presidency and the Srebrenica Armed Forces Staff that allegedly
14 took place on the 9th of November 1992. It's being put to you that you
15 answered the previous question that this is the correct agenda because you
16 were present at that meeting. Do you recall being present at this
17 particular meeting of the 9th of November 1992?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour. That was the
19 meeting. The first meeting that I attended, I was invited to offer some
20 clarification on the forming of the Court. That is the agenda.
21 JUDGE AGIUS: In fact, you already mentioned his surname is
22 mentioned later on at the end of -- anyway, go ahead, Ms. Richardson,
23 please. And we need to have a break in 2 or 3 minutes' time.
24 MS. RICHARDSON: I'll keep that in mind. I'll just ask one
25 question before the break.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, I'm sorry. No, it's Sorry it's quarter to
2 4,00, not 3.30.
3 MS. RICHARDSON: So 15 minutes, Your Honour.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: 15, 17 minutes.
5 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you.
6 Q. Do you see the name Hamed Salihovic on this document? I -- I do
7 believe it is on page, the first page of the B/C/S, towards the end.
8 Possibly -- actually, I'm mistaken. It's in the middle of the first page
9 of the B/C/S. Mr. Omerovic, do you see the name Hamed Salihovic, right
10 after the list of the agenda?
11 A. Yes, at the beginning, right after the agenda.
12 Q. Thank you. Now it states in the document you're reviewing that
13 Hamed Salihovic submitted a report on the visit by some members of the
14 command of the Srebrenica armed forces to Konjevic Polje and Cerska. It
15 also -- it also states that Avdic, if you see the president's name there,
16 I'm reading about four lines down, stated he supported the formation of
17 the subregion and the units of the armed forces but he's against
18 appointing people in this way.
19 Now, just briefly, could you tell us, as you look at this
20 discussion, by the different individuals mentioned, does this reflect what
21 was discussed about -- was there discussion, I should say, about the
22 creation of the subregion and about the subregion itself?
23 A. Hamed Salihovic submitted an extensive report on the visit of a
24 delegation of sorts. I didn't understand at the time what that delegation
25 was. I wasn't familiar with the situation. But apparently they visited
1 Konjevic Polje and Cerska. The problem was that those areas were also
2 surrounded and in a similar situation. As far as I understood, they spoke
3 with some people there because they were cut off from Tuzla and the rest
4 of the state of Bosnia-Herzegovina. They were discussing how to jointly
5 work in order to organise defence, and at the same time, Hamed Salihovic
6 spoke about a political hierarchy or formation of a subregion which was
7 contrary to the laws that were in force on the way local self-governance
8 should be organised. They were talking about either a subregion being
9 formed or that it should be formed, and so he submitted an extensive
11 Q. Thank you. Now, my next question is, if you would take a look at
12 on the B/C/S version it's ERN number 02115069, on that page, there is a
13 reference or a statement by Hamed Salihovic. It states, "I swear I do not
14 know the reasons for leaving. The formation of the subregion is legal and
15 logical continuation of the activities carried out so far. The
16 names are not important and voting took place."
17 Now, do you see the list of the three names that are mentioned
19 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Madam Vidovic?
20 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, what was read by the
21 Prosecutor is an interpretation of what the -- it doesn't exist in the
22 Bosnian original. Perhaps I can read it into the microphone. Maybe the
23 Prosecutor couldn't read what was -- perhaps the translation was incorrect
24 but this is not the original.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: [Previous translation continues] ... what we need,
1 because -- I appreciate you raising this matter, but in order to be able
2 to follow properly, I think the interpreters themselves ought to have
3 visible the text in its original handwritten format. So we either have it
4 on Sanction or we have it on the ELMO. And what I suggest, Madam Vidovic,
5 is that you read out -- don't try to translate. Read out the Serbo-Croat
6 text as you read it and the interpreters will try to translate for us.
7 MS. RICHARDSON: Your Honour, play I make another suggestion.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, of course.
9 MS. RICHARDSON: Not to be contrary, but perhaps the witness can
10 read it, if he can, so we don't get any --
11 JUDGE AGIUS: We've had the problem before, practically all the
12 witnesses we have had here have not been able to read it. So, but of
13 course if he can read it, then he can -- if he doesn't agree with
14 Madam Vidovic's reading, he can point out any discrepancies himself and
15 then we'll get the interpreters.
16 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: But let's follow -- all right. Yeah. Yes,
18 Madam Vidovic, if you can kindly start reading the part from 02115069
19 where Hamed Salihovic says whatever he says.
20 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I could kindly ask that
21 the witness follow. The Bosnian text says, "Hamed S. I swear I didn't
22 know the reasons for going there. The forming of the subregion is the
23 legal and logical continuation of the activities so far. Names are
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Precisely so.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: And how does this differ from what we have --
2 MS. RICHARDSON: Your Honour --
3 JUDGE AGIUS: -- in the -- the substance is exactly the same, I
4 see. I mean, I don't know if Mr. Jones perhaps -- I don't know what has
5 been going on between you but --
6 MS. RICHARDSON: Well, Your Honour, I could point out at least two
7 words that are different.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: We are talking of substance, not of --
9 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, at least the way it was
10 interpreted into Bosnian, the words of the Prosecution were "I swear I
11 didn't know about the reasons of the forming of the subregion," and it's
12 completely different. It says here "I didn't know the reasons for going
13 there." Full stop. "The forming of the subregion is a legal continuation
14 of the activities so far."
15 JUDGE AGIUS: [Previous translation continues] ... it's the same.
16 I mean, the problem was not you reading out something which did not exist.
17 The problem seems to have been the interpreters did not catch up with you
18 in time and they amalgamated the first and second sentences together.
19 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you, Your Honour.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: And the meaning, the significance, was -- became
21 different anyway.
22 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you for that clarification.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: I think it's clear now, I think it's clear. You
24 were referring the witness to those three names that appear on the diary
25 or call it, whatever, the minutes, and the three names are Naser O, Hamed
1 S, Zulfo S.
2 MS. RICHARDSON: And we are reading from, of course, the English
3 version. Thank you, Your Honour.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes.
5 MS. RICHARDSON:
6 Q. If you could read, Mr. Omerovic, from the B/C/S version and
7 tell -- tell Your Honours if you recall these individuals being present,
8 who they are, first of all - if you know - and whether voting did take
9 place that you recall.
10 A. Looking at the minutes, the way they are presented here and then
11 the way they were kept, it is unclear to me why these people are mentioned
12 here. What voting, for what, how. It just says "voting took place," and
13 then we have first names and just an initials and Naser O is probably
14 Naser Oric. Hamed S is probably Hamed Salihovic and Zulfo S is Zulfo
15 Salihovic. But I cannot recall as to whether the vote took place and how
16 it was voted, and why they were elected.
17 Q. Thank you.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: He didn't answer the other part of the question.
19 Assuming for the time being that these three names were the three
20 persons that you mentioned, that is Naser Oric, Hamed Salihovic and Zulfo
21 Salihovic, were these -- do you recall these three persons being present
22 at that meeting?
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The minutes in this particular
24 meeting? You have that meeting in mind, of the War Presidency?
25 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, I have this particular meeting of the 9th of
1 November at which you were present. Here we say -- we have "voting took
2 place" and then we have three names. Naser O, Hamed S, Zulfo S. You have
3 told us who in your opinion these three persons are. You ever also said
4 that you cannot recall whether they were elected, whether there was any
5 voting, that -- you can't recall anything insofar as their possible
6 election is concerned. But do you recall these three persons being
7 present at that meeting, because they could have been elected without
8 being present.
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Naser Oric was definitely not
10 present at the meeting, whereas Hamed Salihovic was. He submitted that
11 extensive report of the activities. And as for the third person, I really
12 cannot recall because there were several people there.
13 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. Next question, please.
14 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you, Your Honour, for that clarification.
15 Q. Now, Mr. Omerovic, I would like to turn your attention to another
16 part of the -- this document, and I believe this is -- the portion I'm
17 going to refer you to is located on 02115070. On the English version,
18 it's 0211570, of course, and on page 21 -- actually, if you could look at
19 the page just before that, if you look at the bottom of page 02115069,
20 continuation is on the page 0211570. There is a reference, and I'm going
21 to read six lines from the bottom of that particular section that I'm
22 referring to. It states, and this is being said by Zulfo Tursunovic, I
23 believe, who you said was present. "Some individuals are taking the law
24 into their own hands." Do you see that sentence? If you could answer
25 verbally so we are all on the same -- looking at the same material.
1 MR. JONES: Your Honour, may I just say the witness did also refer
2 to Zulfo Salihovic.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: One is with an S. The other is with a Z.
4 MR. JONES: Well, in the English.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: Because I myself was confused initially until he
6 said "Salihovic," but we have encountered both names in the past already
7 but I think I --
8 MR. JONES: I think in the B/C/S, even, Salihovic is with a Z.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: I wouldn't know.
10 MR. JONES: I'd prefer my learned friend not to guess at who --
11 which Zulfo it is.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: If it's the case I did not intervene because
13 obviously, to me, one is with an S, the other one is with a Z. But if, as
14 you're saying they are both with a Z, or Z as they say in the States, then
15 obviously you cannot assume who is who, Ms. Richardson.
16 MS. RICHARDSON: Point taken, Your Honour, and the witness can
17 tell us who said that particular -- who said that. He was there.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: I admire your optimism, Ms. Richardson.
19 MR. JONES: Yes, Your Honour, just while I'm on my feet. Also, it
20 shouldn't be taken as read either that anyone said what's reported here.
21 If the witness could be asked if he recalls. Naturally, because my
22 learned friend just said this was said and we don't know if this was said.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: According to the minutes, obviously.
24 MS. RICHARDSON: Certainly, Your Honour, according to the minutes
25 and what I'm -- and the document that I'm reading from.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Let's proceed.
2 MS. RICHARDSON:
3 Q. If you could take a look at that particular section that starts
4 with Zulfo, "Some individuals are taking the law into their own hands,
5 this will continue to happen as long as the police are not doing their
6 job." Unfortunately in the English version there is a word crossed out so
7 I can only begin from the next sentence, "he mentioned several instances
8 of breach of law and order, I have 11 outlaws who have stolen," and then
9 there is a reference to oil, "broken into a school, now they are stealing
10 sheep. The military court must start operating."
11 And next, there is the name Osman appears and there is a -- some
12 language, may or may not have been said by him but in the document it's
13 next to his name. It states, "There are cases of abuse of power. Some
14 individuals are not -- respects decisions and our self will, the court
15 must start operating. This will -- this is still a long way to go to rule
16 of law so we have to do the best we can. " [as read] And I will stop
18 Do you recall that discussion taking place at this meeting?
19 A. There was discussion on this topic as well at the meeting,
20 concerning the problems of structuring the police that stopped operating
21 at the beginning of April, as well as all of the other bodies of
22 authority, the police, the judiciary, the executive authorities. They all
23 stopped with work. There was the state of chaos, nothing was functioning.
24 So they discussed this because the head of police, Becir Bogilovic was
25 also present at the meeting. And this was probably said by Zulfo
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 Tursunovic. He expressed those problems. He mentioned that there should
2 be a way found in order to establish such bodies, to deal with these
4 MS. RICHARDSON: Your Honour, I'm looking at the time.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: Whenever it's convenient for you.
6 MS. RICHARDSON: This is fine, Your Honour, thank you.
7 JUDGE AGIUS: So we'll have a 25-minute break. Everyone please
8 try to be punctual so that we try to recover a little bit of the lost
10 --- Recess taken at 3.47 p.m.
11 --- On resuming at 4.15 p.m.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, let's continue and Ms. Richardson please try to
13 avoid proving again what has been proved abundantly by many other
14 witnesses already and stick to the real purpose for which you brought this
15 witness here, which according to the declaration that we have here is on
16 the court system.
17 MS. RICHARDSON: Yes, Your Honour. And do I believe that this
18 area of examination is important with respect to what occurred in the
19 meeting of the War Presidency.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: But we lost the first hour on what was happening in
21 the area roughly starting from round about April et cetera. I mean,
22 when --
23 MS. RICHARDSON: Your Honour, I'll try my best to move as quickly
24 as possible.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: You need to finish today. So it's -- there is no
1 question about it. I will -- come 7.00, that will be the end.
2 MS. RICHARDSON: Your Honour, if my co-counsel Ms. Sellers would
3 like to give the Court some information about scheduling that may impact
4 on Your Honour's decision at this point.
5 MS. SELLERS: Your Honour, I was going to address you at the end
6 of this session but for your information we will be calling one of our
7 Office of the Prosecutor investigators, as you know on the schedule, and
8 we anticipate that that will not take a court day. That will probably
9 take, at least for the Prosecution side, a half hour at most.
10 JUDGE AGIUS: Which one is this?
11 MS. SELLERS: Mr. Gamini Wijeyesinghe.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: But you had indicated one hour next week.
13 MS. SELLERS: Yes, that will take probably less time. And it --
14 I'm -- can --
15 JUDGE AGIUS: That's next week.
16 MS. SELLERS: Yes, I understand, Your Honour. But also there is
17 another witness we will be addressing you about tomorrow morning and there
18 is a possibility with a very slight change also in schedule that we'll
19 have a bit more ability to have court time in case there is any indication
20 of running over and we will end on schedule.
21 JUDGE AGIUS: Ms. Sellers, I hate being difficult, but you had
22 indicated three hours for this witness over two days, okay? Three hours,
23 one day for you, one day for the -- we lost 15 minutes. Yes, we lost 15
24 minutes in the beginning but to be honest with you, I have still got to --
25 some of the questions in the previous session, okay, were relevant and I
1 couldn't stop Ms. Richardson but in reality he is being asked to confirm
2 what others have testified about and which they have confirmed already.
3 MS. SELLERS: Your Honour, the rest of the examination will be
4 more pointed and we hope could conclude if not only as for a brief bit of
5 tomorrow's time but there will be changes.
6 JUDGE AGIUS: 15 minutes here I would be able to concede but not
7 more than 15 minutes.
8 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you, Your Honour. I do appreciate that,
9 Your Honour.
10 Q. Mr. Omerovic, I would ask you to go back to the document you were
11 examining before the break and if you could -- unfortunately, we are
12 running short on time so I would ask you to keep your comments as brief as
13 possible. Just confirming or commenting briefly on the information
14 contained. I would refer your attention to ERN number 02115070, at least
15 the beginning portion on that page. On the English version, it is page
16 21. Now, if you look towards the middle portion on the B/C/S version,
17 there is a reference to Hamdija, and just to be brief, there is mention by
18 him that "the Court is not functioning and trouble makers" -- "we do not
19 have a state or authorities to -- or authority so we have to do the best
20 we can. Troublemakers should be detained for three days then put on
22 So also, right after that, there is a reference to the military
23 police and the civilian police. And I would ask you if you could keep
24 your comments brief, if you recall having -- being present when this
25 discussion took place and if you look at the next page so that you can
1 just --
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Let him answer that question first.
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I didn't understand the first part
4 of the question.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: The first part of the question is: Ms. Richardson
6 has read out to you a part from the -- these minutes and she is asking you
7 whether you recall this debate going on, taking place, at that meeting of
8 the 9th of November of 1992.
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I have before me a
10 version which is not typed out. It's handwritten and the copy is very
11 bad. It's very difficult for me to read anything here. It's hard for me
12 to find my way around this document.
13 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. I appreciate that. Let me read out to
14 you the two -- the two parts myself and forget the text that you have
15 there. The interpreters will try to help me out by interpreting to you.
16 There is a part here which a certain Hamdija allegedly says the following:
17 "There is still some shooting. When this is not done properly everything
18 goes downhill. In these matters we should start from the commander." And
19 then there is Becir who allegedly says the following: "We are all being
20 honest. We are also to blame. Units are stealing from other units. If a
21 vehicle belongs to the armed forces and if someone is a member of the
22 armed forces, the civilian police do not have the right to intervene."
23 And then there is a note which says "Conclusion, file a report against the
24 unit commander and pass it off to the staff." And then there is the next
25 bulleted entry which says, "The Court is not functioning. We do not have
1 a state or authorities as we -- so we have to do the best we can.
2 Troublemakers should be detained for three days and then put on trial."
3 And then supposedly someone also says, "The military police and the
4 civilian police include VES military occupational speciality in the JNA
5 Yugoslav People's Army." Do you remember this kind of debate going on
6 during that meeting?
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, I do. This debate was
8 conducted at the meeting concerning the chaos caused by the war and the
9 fact that all organs had ceased functioning. The police, the court, the
10 executive government, the legislative branch of government had all stopped
11 functioning in 1992 so that individuals were committing acts which were
12 not allowed.
13 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay, your next question, Ms. Richardson.
14 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you, Your Honour.
15 Q. There is also a mention, Mr. Omerovic, in the same document. It
16 states that the court cannot pass final judgments, it has not been formed
17 properly, it is a preventive task. Could you comments on whether or not
18 that was said by anyone in the meeting?
19 A. Yes, it was -- this was said at the meeting. In Srebrenica, the
20 court could be re-established but all the appeals courts were outside
21 Srebrenica, either in Tuzla or in Sarajevo. So that if a court was
22 organised and if it started working, we could not have judgement that was
23 final, and there would be no point in having the court then. Whether it
24 was Zulfo Tursunovic who said that or somebody else on the basis of the
25 opinion I had previously presented to Mr. Masic, saying that final
1 judgements could not be passed in the regular procedure. Because
2 Srebrenica was surrounded, we could not deliver the appeals briefs to
3 Tuzla or Sarajevo. We were unable to do that so that even had we
4 organised a court and got it functioning, it could not have completed the
5 job. We could only have done part of the job and then we would have had
6 to stop.
7 Q. My final -- thank you. My final question with respect to this
8 document, if you look further towards the end of the page, it's the
9 beginning of 021157072, it states, it's on page 22 of the English and on
10 the B/C/S it's 5072, it states, "a military court has been set up, legal
11 officer Rasid [phoen], to work in the police. If Rasid doesn't turn up,
12 Omerovic will work for the police." Could you comment on that, tell us --
13 tell Your Honours whether or not that was said during the meeting?
14 A. I must clarify this. I think that this meeting which was
15 organised was erroneously organised in formal and legal terms. If the War
16 Presidency reached some decisions, this had to be done according to the
17 proper procedure. They had to be on the agenda. The War Presidency had
18 to have rules of procedure, and there had to be a method of voting, and
19 passing decisions. It says here military court, but I can assert with
20 full responsibility that no decision was reached at that meeting about the
21 establishing of a court, nor was there a vote on this. So I am absolutely
22 certain that this was a misinterpretation by the person taking the
23 minutes. The gentleman or rather Zulfo Tursunovic at one point said we
24 shall try people, and on the basis of that sentence of his, you cannot
25 conclude that a decision was reached that a court be established. It's
1 correct what it says here that it was said that a lawyer Resid Sinanovic,
2 he was referred to here. Before the war he was for a time the chief of
3 the public security station or the chief of police, because there were no
4 lawyers in the police, and he was to be engaged and at that time he was in
5 a village. I think it was, Podloznik where he had family, and if he could
6 not be reached, that I was to become active and work in the police. This
7 was an agreement, but in formal and legal terms, there was no vote. So it
8 was not a formal decision. It was more like a conversation.
9 Q. Thank you. That's the last question that I have with respect to
10 that document. Thank you to the usher for assisting.
11 Mr. Omerovic, had you met Zulfo Tursunovic prior to your arrival
12 in Srebrenica?
13 A. No, no. I had never met him before.
14 Q. Did you have any knowledge of him, aside from the fact that you
15 just stated that you hadn't met him personally, did you hear anything
16 about him?
17 JUDGE AGIUS: Again, haven't we heard this from others? Do you
18 need to waste your time with this witness on this?
19 MS. RICHARDSON: Your Honour, I'm about to put an exhibit to the
20 witness and I would like to lay the foundational questions. However, if I
21 can put the picture, the photograph, right now to the witness in the
22 interests of time.
23 Q. Mr. Omerovic, can you describe Zulfo Tursunovic, his physical
25 A. I met him during the war. I didn't know him before. He is a very
1 large man, tall, with bushy eyebrows. He looked like a man from the
2 villages, like a man from the mountains.
3 Q. Thank you.
4 MS. RICHARDSON: At this time, Your Honour, I'd like the usher's
5 assistance in showing an exhibit to this witness, and we do have copies to
6 distribute to the Court.
7 Q. This photograph is on sanction as well it's ERN number 03592919.
8 Mr. Omerovic, please take a look at this photograph that is in front of
9 you and tell the Trial Chamber whether you recognise this person and who
10 this person is.
11 A. Yes. This is Mr. Zulfo Tursunovic.
12 Q. Thank you. Now I would like to go to another area.
13 JUDGE AGIUS: Do you want to tender this?
14 MS. RICHARDSON: Yes, Your Honour, I do, and if we could have an
15 exhibit number.
16 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes what's the next number.
17 THE REGISTRAR: P548.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: P548. Thank you.
19 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you.
20 Q. My next series of questions, Mr. Omerovic, has to do with your
21 knowledge of the police. Could you first tell us if you were aware of the
22 presence of the civilian police in Srebrenica during the period of time
23 that you were -- that you were there?
24 A. On my arrival in Srebrenica, I observed that in the police
25 building where up to the outbreak of the war the public security station
1 of Srebrenica had been located, I observed that the police were located
2 there. According to my observation, there were very few policemen who had
3 uniforms, only a few policemen had uniforms, so you couldn't see them
4 around town because they weren't wearing uniforms, they didn't have
5 vehicles, they didn't have any equipment, they didn't have all the things
6 that a police force should have. I had the impression that as the police
7 in early April 1992 had simply dissolved, that men --
8 Q. I'm going to stop you at this point. I'd like you to answer my
9 question with respect to the time that you were in Srebrenica, not before.
10 So if you could just tell us, because we are short on time, whether or not
11 you were aware of the person who was the chief of police in Srebrenica
12 during the time you were present.
13 A. At the first meeting I attended, which we have just talked about,
14 the War Presidency, an extended meeting, then I noticed that Mr. Becir
15 Bogilovic was the chief of police until he was evacuated and sent to Tuzla
16 because he was wounded in the leg and he walked with a stick. So when he
17 came to this meeting, he was walking with a stick. After he was evacuated
18 for Tuzla, the police station was taken over by Mr. Hakija Meholjic and he
19 was the chief of the public security station in Srebrenica until the fall
20 of Srebrenica in July 1995.
21 Q. Thank you. Now with respect to the military police, could you
22 tell Your Honours if you were aware of the presence of the military police
23 in Srebrenica during the time you were present?
24 A. As for the military police, I can say that I observed only the
25 commander of the military police, although he didn't have any insignia
1 either. The military police, how shall I put it, didn't have insignia.
2 In this wartime situation they collected some men who carried out these
3 police duties but you couldn't recognise them by uniforms or white belts
4 or pistols. You couldn't tell that they were policemen. I only found out
5 that the commander of the military policemen was around because this was a
6 dangerous person who behaved like a local sheriff. Everybody in the town
7 was afraid of him. He walked around with pistols and a rifle. He wore a
8 hat, and I thought that he was a dangerous person and he, instead of
9 introducing law and order, he was the one actually causing chaos.
10 JUDGE AGIUS: What was his name?
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Mirsad Halilovic.
12 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you, Your Honour. I would like to mover to
13 the next exhibit that I will be using, and that's P458.
14 JUDGE AGIUS: While the exhibit is being located, Mr. Omerovic,
15 please try to restrict your answers to the question -- I mean, don't try
16 to feed us more information than you are being asked, and if a question
17 can be answered in -- by a mere yes or no, then please answer yes or no,
18 without giving any more details, such as these last two questions, were
19 you aware of the presence of the military police and your answer should
20 have been yes or no. And then if you need to explain something, you tell
21 us, and we will allow you to explain.
22 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you, Your Honour.
23 Q. Mr. Omerovic, if you could -- I'm sorry, if the usher could place
24 the English version on the ELMO, we would appreciate that, and the hard
25 copy of the B/C/S can be given to the witness.
1 Now, Mr. Omerovic, if you could take a look at this document and
2 could you just state for the record whether you saw this document prior to
3 your arrival in The Hague?
4 A. No.
5 Q. Thank you. If you turn to page 3 of the -- excuse me, page 3 of
6 the English -- sorry, page 2 of the English, page 3 -- page 3 of the
7 B/C/S, there is a date in the top right-hand corner so we are making sure
8 you're following. It's the 3rd of December 1992, and it states "The
9 following policemen attended the scheduled staff meeting at the military
10 police station." What I would like to you do is look at the list of the
11 individuals and tell us the Trial Chamber, if you recognise any of the
12 individuals on this list and whether or not they were policemen, as far as
13 you were -- as far as you were -- as far as you know, excuse me.
14 A. I recognise a few names here, under number 4, Safet Muhic, and
15 then Huran [phoen] Hasanovic, then number 11 and number 13, Dzananovic.
16 Q. To your knowledge, they were police officers in Srebrenica during
17 the time you were present?
18 A. I know that Dzananovic and Huran Hasanovic were policemen in the
19 civilian police from 1993. After the public security station was taken
20 over by Mr. Hakija Meholjic. They were in the regular civilian police
21 force. I'm not aware that they were in the military police.
22 Q. Thank you. If you could turn to page -- it appears to be page 12
23 of the B/C/S and page 5 of the English, -- excuse me, it's actually page
24 11 of the B/C/S. There is a date in the corner, the 6th of December 1992,
25 and it details a list of things missing from the house of Alija Zulic
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 [phoen] and just if you look at this it's clearly food items, if you would
2 agree with that. And finally, towards the end, the very last sentence, it
3 states "civilian police found them in Mirzada Hodzic's [phoen] house." My
4 question with respect to this information is whether or not this reflects
5 some of the incidents that occurred in Srebrenica during the time you were
7 A. There were individual incidents of theft, just as there are during
8 peacetime. Food was scarce and probably someone knew there was food in a
9 certain house and stole it. I'm sure that there were cases like this.
10 Q. All right. And if you would turn to the next page, I would like
11 to you look at, which is page 10 of the English -- pardon me.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: While this is going on, previously, I remember when
13 you first referred him to the previous extract, you said it's on page 5
14 and the English text -- in actual fact, it's on page 9, because page 5
15 refers to the 5th of November -- 5th of December, while the incident you
16 mentioned occurs on page 9 in the English text.
17 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: Let's move to the question.
19 MS. RICHARDSON:
20 Q. Page 10 and it's page 12 of the English and -- excuse me, the
21 B/C/S it's 03593135. It's dated the 7th of December and there is
22 reference to the police. "It says send a patrol to Borak every day to
23 check the guard and to bring in military age men who are avoiding guard
24 duty." My question to you is: Were you were aware that these were some
25 of the duties of the military police during the time you were present.
1 MR. JONES: The witness didn't accept there was a military police
2 so the question is inappropriate.
3 MS. RICHARDSON: Your Honour, I believe the witness testified that
4 Mirsad Halilovic was the chief of the military police.
5 MR. JONES: The commander, yes.
6 JUDGE AGIUS: He did not state that there were or that he was not
7 aware of the existence of the military police. One would assume that if
8 there is a head of the military police, there is a head because there is a
9 military police. I mean, because he wouldn't be a head --
10 MR. JONES: It may well be a one-member military police.
11 JUDGE AGIUS: But I don't think they could afford that luxury at
12 the time and -- given the circumstances. I mean, they couldn't afford
13 even uniforms. Let's put it like that. Let's move.
14 MS. RICHARDSON:
15 Q. My question was whether or not with respect to sending a patrol to
16 Borak every day to check on men of military age who were avoiding guard
17 duty if -- Mr. Omerovic, are you aware that this was a duty of the
18 military police?
19 A. I think that if there was a military police, probably in those
20 villages somebody was tasked with perhaps bringing in people who failed to
21 report for guard duty, but I can't say that with any certainty because I
22 don't know that. What I can say with certainty is that you could not see
23 that there were such men if -- if you judged by uniforms, and the same
24 applied to the civilian police. A person who told me he was a civilian
25 policeman walked about in civilian clothes and sometimes he carried a
1 hunting rifle and sometimes no weapon at all so that no citizen looking at
2 him could tell that he was a policeman.
3 Q. My question is: If you were aware that individuals who failed to
4 appear for guard duty or individuals who did not respond to -- to the --
5 to the call for any type of military action, were you aware that the
6 military police -- it was one of their duties to collect these individuals
7 in any capacity?
8 A. I'm not familiar with that, but there is an instance, an incident,
9 because in front of the building where I lived, Mr. Halilovic [as
10 interpreted] appeared with two men in civilian clothes, and he called all
11 the men to come out of the building and to line up, and then he said that
12 two villages were attacked, Bljecava [phoen] and Cezmeci [phoen], and that
13 people have to be collected to go and help the villages and that they have
14 to be drafted again. And then they made the list of those to go to each
15 of the villages, and there I saw that in a way the police were performing
16 that function. But those people never went, actually. A part of them it
17 did, a part of them came back because there were no weapons, no places to
18 sleep, so they returned to the building where I stayed.
19 Q. Just, Your Honour, it's been brought to my attention that the
20 transcript said Mr. Mirsad Halilovic, I think the transcript is just
21 reflecting the last name and that is line -- page 46, line 12?
22 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, thank you.
23 MS. RICHARDSON:
24 Q. Were you aware -- let me just draw your attention to one more area
25 in this document, and it -- on the English version it is page 15 -- excuse
1 me, page 12. On the B/C/S version, it is page 15. The date is the 8 of
2 December 1992. There is reference to the Srebrenica municipality War
3 Presidency, session being held. It's ERN number 03593138. Do you see
4 that section of the document?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Now, there is listed here an agenda but I'd like to draw your
7 attention to number 3, it states "proposal for a curfew between 2000 and
8 0500 hours and work at barriers." My question with respect to -- to this
9 information is whether or not Srebrenica had a curfew during the time you
10 were in Srebrenica.
11 A. I cannot say that for sure because I never saw such a decision
12 being made and published. I didn't see it.
13 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Omerovic, this is why I drew your attention
14 earlier on. Please answer the question. The question is a very simple
15 one. It's not whether this decision was taken, whether you were there or
16 whether -- what you know about that decision. The question is a very
17 simple one. Are you aware that there was a curfew or do you know whether
18 or not Srebrenica had a curfew during the time you were in Srebrenica.
19 This is the question. If you know, you answer yes, if you don't know, you
20 answer no.
21 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you, Your Honour.
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I really don't know. I couldn't
24 JUDGE AGIUS: All right.
25 Your next question.
1 MS. RICHARDSON:
2 Q. Now staying on that page, when I say page --
3 A. Perhaps I could clarify. There was no electricity in Srebrenica,
4 and with the dusk being coming everyone tried to stay away because it was
5 risky to move around so people did not move around. As soon as the night
6 would fall people just couldn't go out.
7 Q. Mr. Omerovic, is this the first time you're hearing about a curfew
8 being imposed in Srebrenica, today, as you look at this document?
9 A. I truly cannot remember, but from my own experience, I know that
10 when I left for Voljevica to bring the food, we went in the evening and we
11 came before dawn, and we were never stopped or prevented from moving. But
12 I did see a ramp, a barrier, at the entrance of the town, and I believe it
13 was there in order to prevent somebody coming in the town during the night
14 because some of the lines were -- and positions were close.
15 Q. All right. Thank you. Now, I have one final question with
16 respect to this document. We are staying on the same page, which is page
17 15 of the B/C/S, page 12 of the English, and this is the left column.
18 It's dated the 8th of December 1992. And I will read just quickly the
19 first -- what I'd like you to focus on. "Around 1900 hours on the 7th of
20 December 1992 the former VP" -- excuse me, "the former military police
21 commander, Mirzet Halilovic, and five or six others came outside the
22 military police station. Mirzet had a pistol and Emir had a PAP
23 semi-automatic rifle and they started shooting. They did not react to the
24 warning of the military police. Inspector Rasid came because the glass at
25 his flat was broken by a shot from a pistol. Mirzet wanted to break the
1 glass that he had allegedly placed." Can you tell the Trial Chamber
2 whether you're familiar with this incident?
3 A. I did hear about the incident. There was some shooting.
4 Q. And did it involve Mirzet Halilovic and Emir?
5 A. I didn't know who participated but I did know that there was some
6 exchange of fire around the police building but I didn't know who took
7 part in it.
8 Q. Thank you.
9 Thank you to the usher for her assistance with this document.
10 Mr. Omerovic I'd like you to next concentrate on the next series
11 of questions I will be asking you and this is respect to the lower offence
12 court or the misdemeanour court. Did there come a time following the War
13 Presidency meeting that you attended that a misdemeanour court, or
14 sometimes referred to as a lower offence court, was created?
15 A. After a while, after the meeting of the extended War Presidency, I
16 was notified that I was appointed as a misdemeanour judge and that I
17 should report to the president of the War Presidency, Mr. Hajrudin Avdic
18 concerning that issue.
19 Q. And who appointed you?
20 A. I had to have been appointed by the War Presidency.
21 Q. And did you, in fact, take up duties with respect to your position
22 as the president of the Court?
23 A. I did report to the president of the Presidency. We spoke about
24 me taking over the function of the misdemeanour judge and I was told to
25 occupy an office that was until the war used by the misdemeanour court. I
1 went to the office. The door was broken in and there were -- there were
2 no windows, window panes, shrapnel damaged the building, the furniture was
3 partially destroyed. There were no conditions to work there. There was
4 no electricity. No type machine. I didn't have a dactylographer or an
5 assistant to type documents for me. So I was formally appointed as a
6 misdemeanour judge then but I didn't have the necessary conditions to
8 And there was another thing I wanted to clarify. Out of the
9 bodies that have the competence to submit reports to the misdemeanour
10 court, there was only the civilian police as well as the secretariat of
11 defence, so they -- the instances or the authorities that were supposed to
12 submit reports to the judge did not exist at that time, and most of the
13 offences pertained to traffic violations as well as disturbing public
14 order. As concerns traffic, it was non-existent at the time in Srebrenica
15 because there was no fuel. There was no traffic. There was a truck here
16 and there.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: All right.
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] And as for public order --
19 MS. RICHARDSON: Yes, Your Honour.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Go to your next question.
21 MS. RICHARDSON: Yes, thank you.
22 Q. Now, with respect to the laws, and this is in regards to the
23 offences covered by this Court, what law did you utilise or what law were
24 you in possession of at that time when you first established the court, or
25 when you were first appointed president, excuse me.
1 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: You're putting it in a --
3 MS. RICHARDSON: I can rephrase, Your Honour.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: Let's start with the first one. Which law or what
5 law were you supposed to apply as judge of the misdemeanour court?
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The republican law on misdemeanour.
7 In the former Yugoslavia, each of the republics had its own misdemeanour
8 legislation regulating the misdemeanour proceedings. In
9 Bosnia-Herzegovina, as a republic, what was in force was the republican
10 law on misdemeanours and, as such, I was duty bound to implement that law
11 as a judge.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: Did you have a copy of it? Was it available,
13 readily available to you when you were appointed as judge of the
14 misdemeanours court?
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I did find a copy of the law in the
16 municipal building.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Ms. Richardson. I covered the two parts of
18 the --
19 MS. RICHARDSON: I appreciate it, Your Honour. Thank you.
20 Q. Did this offence court have a second instance? And I'm referring
21 specifically to time -- to the time that you were first appointed
23 A. In keeping with the law the next level was the republican
24 misdemeanour court in Sarajevo. That was the second level, the appeals
25 level, the Court above the law in Srebrenica. At the moment when the
1 Court was formed, we did not have this appeals possibility, the access to
2 it. And, in addition, until the demilitarisation of Srebrenica, perhaps
3 in April, I cannot be more precise, but I guess the dates are known, until
4 then we did not have any reports with the misdemeanour court, it didn't
5 operate. Only after the demilitarisation we had enormous problems in the
6 town as concerns public order and we held a meeting at which it was
7 decided --
8 Q. Let me stop you there because we will move into that in a short
9 time. I'd like you to focus in on the period when you were first
10 appointed president of this court. Do you remember when that was, what
11 year, what month?
12 A. That was in December 1992, perhaps around the 20th of December. I
13 tried to remind myself today. It was in December 1992.
14 Q. And at the time that you were appointed president, what role, if
15 any, did the War Presidency play with respect to this Court?
16 A. When I got appointed as judge, the War Presidency did not have any
17 role, be it appeals role or any other. When we found ourselves in the
18 situation that we had to start trying, that there was chaos in the town,
19 then the War Presidency issued a decision that that body will be the
20 appeals level. We were all aware that this was an illegal decision, but
21 given the circumstances, we had to do something in order to prevent chaos,
22 disorder, fights, shooting and everything else that was taking place in
23 the town, and we were aware of the need to do something. We didn't have
24 the possibility to communicate with Tuzla or Sarajevo. For example, in
25 the hospital saws were used to amputate peoples's limbs so we had to come
1 up with a decision.
2 Q. I apologise for interrupting you but I need you to focus on my
3 questions that are being asked of you and if you could just focus we would
4 all appreciate it.
5 With respect to the War Presidency where they acted as a second
6 instance could you tell Your Honours if there was any -- if there were any
7 cases where this in fact did happen and where you were involved?
8 JUDGE AGIUS: Which time period?
9 MS. RICHARDSON: During the time period of December 1992 or soon
10 thereafter. And this is prior to the demilitarisation period.
11 A. Before the demilitarisation, the War Presidency did not play the
12 role of the appeals body. There was -- there were no instances in which
13 it decided on any sort of appeal. And there were no appeals in the first
15 Q. Did you receive any reports regarding the failure to respond to
16 mobilisation by the -- by the -- by the police, civilian police?
17 A. I didn't receive it from the civilian police. The only two reports
18 I received, as a judge of the misdemeanour court, were the reports given
19 by the secretariat for national defence as a municipal body and they acted
20 based on the law on -- of defence of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina,
21 the pre-war one. They submitted reports against two persons who failed to
22 reply to the call for a duty guard in a village around Srebrenica.
23 Q. And what sentence was imposed with respect to this case, by you?
24 A. I examined the file, I interviewed the people, and I received a
25 typist who helped me for that from the Presidency. I listened to the
1 argument of the side submitting the report. I listened to the accused --
2 JUDGE AGIUS: I have to stop you. The question was a very simple
3 one. What sentence did you impose? If you remember what sentence you
4 imposed please tell us. If you don't remember, we'll show you the
5 documents if we have them.
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I did issue a decision. Both people
7 were issued with a detention in duration of 10 days.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: All right.
9 MS. RICHARDSON:
10 Q. And were these sentences served, the 10 days, by these
12 A. No. After the proceeding was completed, they reached an agreement
13 with the secretary for national defence to report to their respective
14 units in the villages they were. So they never went in prison, and at
15 that time there were no -- there was no instance in Srebrenica which could
16 implement the judgement.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: I suppose not implement, execute, yes, Judge Eser?
18 JUDGE ESER: Just a question of terminology, when you refer to the
19 secretary for national defence of the municipality, what do you mean with
20 national defence of the municipality?
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Each municipality before the war and
22 even today had a service, an administrative body, tasked with drafting of
23 civilians, call-ups for military exercises, as well as war deployment. So
24 this is a civilian department dealing in certain military issues. The
25 head of the secretariat was Mr. Hasanovic, Suljo.
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 Q. Thank you. With respect to the War Presidency, could you tell us
2 whether or not they ever convened, and this is prior to the
3 demilitarisation, whether they were ever convened where they issued --
4 they heard about a particular case and where a decision was made and where
5 you were involved?
6 A. I didn't understand the question. What hearing?
7 Q. I can rephrase the question. Was there any instances, any cases,
8 where a decision was made by the offence court and then later on the War
9 Presidency convened a session and heard the circumstances about this case
10 and that the first decision issued by you, and whether or not the War
11 Presidency then changed the initial decision?
12 JUDGE AGIUS: Ms. Richardson, let's simplify. If you have the
13 documents relating to these cases, go straight to the documents.
14 MS. RICHARDSON: Your Honour, unfortunately we do not have that
15 particular document or I would have put it to the witness. So I'm relying
16 on his memory at this point.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Okay.
18 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you.
19 JUDGE AGIUS: All right.
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] After the demilitarisation, when the
21 misdemeanour court started operating in full and when the civilian police
22 was established with uniforms and when they started working
23 professionally, the misdemeanour court received lots of reports and I was
24 the judge then. I passed down decisions and we would refer people to
25 detention that was within the municipal court building in Srebrenica.
1 Q. Thank you.
2 A. And we had one or two appeals at the time that was dealt by the
3 War Presidency. One or two. I'm not certain. One or two that were dealt
4 by the War Presidency. I would therefore appear at their session. I
5 would bring the file. They would be familiar with the entire file. And
6 then I would issue a recommendation and they would reduce the sentence so
7 as to make some sense out of the appeals process and that appeals
9 Q. Thank you. Now, I'd like to bring your attention to -- pardon --
10 the establishment of the basic court. Do you remember the date that this
11 Court was established?
12 A. At the beginning of June 1993, the court began operating, the
13 basic court, that is. We had a problem because humanitarian aid began
14 reaching Srebrenica and the situation was slowly going back to normal.
15 And we had lots of problems, murders, et cetera, and we didn't deal with
16 all of that via the misdemeanour proceedings. That was one thing.
17 Another thing, we had a problem with the misdemeanour court and the
18 appeals instance because the War Presidency can not be the appeals level
19 and we sent document to the Ministry of Justice in Sarajevo asking for
20 their suggestion and clarification as to how to deal with such things in a
21 very enclosed environment as Srebrenica, on how to organise the work of
22 the court. And we received a reply at the ends of May, and immediately
23 upon receiving it we approached forming the basic court in Srebrenica.
24 Q. And who was the president of this court?
25 A. The president of the court was me. I was appointed.
1 Q. And who were you appointed by?
2 A. The Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Republic of
3 Bosnia-Herzegovina. They were competent for appointments. The assembly
4 or the parliament deals with judge appointments. Since the assembly
5 couldn't meet, the president took over their function, and they made a
6 decision that I be appointed as a -- the president, and another three
7 judges, as well as the decision to appoint the basic public prosecutor for
9 Q. And who were the other three judges?
10 A. The three judges were Mr. Smail Klempic, then Mr. Jasmin
11 Karamujic, and Mrs. Enisa Dizdarevic. She married and later on assumed
12 the last name of Masic.
13 Q. And what were your duties then as president of the court?
14 A. As the president of the Court, I was duty-bound to organise the
15 functioning of the Court, to deal with personnel issues, and other
16 organisational matters, and at the same time I was a regular judge. I was
17 equal to the other three judges when we performed that function. But as
18 the president of the court, I had to deal with organisational matters
19 pertaining to the Court.
20 Q. As one of your duties, did you also visit individuals who had been
21 sentenced by your court and who were -- I should say, let me just add to
22 that, and who were in prison as a result of being sentenced by your court
23 in Srebrenica?
24 A. I didn't understand.
25 Q. I can repeat. Did there come a time that individuals were
1 sentenced by either yourself or one of the other judges as a result of
2 committing an offence, whether it was a misdemeanour or a criminal act?
3 A. After the Court was re-established, the basic court conducted both
4 misdemeanour proceedings as well as those from the domain of the criminal
5 law, as well as civil litigation, so all the issues pertaining to the
6 competences of the court. According to the director of the Ministry of
7 Defence we were told to perform the functions of the misdemeanour court
8 within the framework of the basic court so one judge would be in charge of
9 the misdemeanour proceedings and the three junction would be the panel
10 used for the appeals because the appeals could not be forwarded to
11 Sarajevo. So this is how we bridged the gap or rather dealt with the
12 problem of Srebrenica being surrounded and our inability to communicate
13 with the higher court instances.
14 Q. Thank you. And my question was whether or not individuals had
15 been sentenced by the Court or detained waiting further investigation
16 being conducted by your court. And did you visit these individuals?
17 A. The Court would issue a detention for the perpetrators based on
18 the proposal by the Prosecutor's office and then those people would be
19 sent to the municipal prison that was accommodated within the Court
20 building. As the president of the court, according to the law on criminal
21 proceedings, I had to go and see those in detention to speak with them to
22 see whether there were any problems, what is the treatment they are
23 receiving, and whether they need anything. I also approved visits to
24 those detained and at the same time in the same prison, we had people
25 sentenced within misdemeanour proceedings who received detention up to two
2 Q. Thank you. With respect to the laws that you used procedurally,
3 as well as the Criminal Code, what laws could you tell Your Honours did
4 you use with respect to the implementation?
5 A. We used the existing laws, the laws that had been in force before
6 the outbreak of the war, which we found in the municipal building in
7 Srebrenica. That was the then-valid law on criminal procedure of the
8 former Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia, which had been in
9 force in all the republics and we found a copy in the municipal building,
10 and that was what we used in our work. We also used the Criminal Code.
11 There was the federal criminal code of the former Yugoslavia as well as
12 the republican criminal codes of all the former republics. So we used the
13 laws that had been in force up to the outbreak of the war. We did not
14 have any new legislation. I'm referring to the legislation that Bosnia
15 and Herzegovina enacted after its recognition as an independent state. We
16 didn't know which laws had been adopted. We didn't have any means of
17 getting the new legislation or of communicating. That's why we acted on
18 the legislation we had, believing that that would be in essence the
19 legislation enacted by Bosnia and Herzegovina with perhaps minor changes.
20 Q. What was the jurisdiction, the subject matter jurisdiction, of the
21 basic court? Without listing all of the crimes that came under -- that
22 applied, but could you give us some examples?
23 A. We had several cases of murder. There were two cases of child
24 murder, mothers killing their babies on birth. Then we had theft from
25 forests, theft of timber. Then we had illegal appropriation of
1 state-owned property. There were crimes of theft, aggravated theft, and
2 robbery. And perhaps some other crimes but I can't recall them all now.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: And we have not -- because you put two questions in
4 one, and you directed the witness immediately to answer the second,
5 forgetting the first.
6 What was the beginning of the scale of the spectrum of the
7 jurisdiction? Where did the jurisdiction of this Court start and where
8 did it end? Which offences was it -- did it have the competence to deal
9 with, in other words?
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This was the basic court, the higher
11 level court was the high court in Tuzla.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: This Court -- please. Because we have very limited
13 time. This Court we are talking about, not any other court, where did its
14 jurisdiction start and where did it end? Let's start with the upper --
15 upper part. Did it have the competence to -- or the jurisdiction to deal
16 with offences punishable with death?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: Did it have the competence to deal with offences
19 punishable with life imprisonment?
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No.
21 JUDGE AGIUS: So, did it have the competence to deal with offences
22 punishable with imprisonment? The answer is definitely yes. Up to what
23 amount of years?
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The law provided for the competences
25 of the basic and higher courts and the basic court was competent, I
1 believe, to sentence up to ten years and the higher court for over ten
2 years. Murder was in the competence the of the high court.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: If I put it to that you the basic court came into
4 the scene where the misdemeanours court went out of the scene, would you
5 accept that? In other words, for purposes of jurisdiction? The
6 jurisdiction of the basic court begins where that of the misdemeanour
7 court finishes? Would you accept that?
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: So what was the correct position? Where did the
10 jurisdiction of the basic court start from?
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Misdemeanours courts, I must
12 clarify, were administrative courts. There is a --
13 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. All right. Let's move. Do you have the
14 distinction between contraventions and crimes in your country?
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
16 JUDGE AGIUS: Did the jurisdiction of the basic court start with
17 contraventions or did it start with crimes?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The basic court did not have the
19 competence to judge contraventions. We were told that contraventions were
20 also to be dealt with by the basic court, but it did not actually have
21 competence for that.
22 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Do you need more information than this,
23 Ms. Richardson?
24 MS. RICHARDSON: No, I just have one follow-up question.
25 Q. With respect to the sentence that is could be imposed could you
1 tell us if in fact the sentences could be imposed up to ten years or
2 anything over ten years was within the jurisdiction of the higher court in
4 A. Yes. A higher court could act as a first instance court and the
5 second instance court, unlike the basic court. The highest court in some
6 cases acted as the Court of first instance and then the appeals would go
7 to the Supreme Court. In other cases, it would act as a second instance
9 JUDGE AGIUS: It is the same in many European countries.
10 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you, Your Honour.
11 Q. With respect to the public Prosecutor's offers, was an office
12 established around that same period and could you tell us name of the
13 public Prosecutor that was appointed?
14 A. When the judges were appointed, at the same time the public
15 Prosecutor was appointed in Srebrenica, Ms. Djulzira Akagic.
16 Q. And with respect to the jurisdiction she had, was it similar to
17 the basic court, leaving aside misdemeanour offences?
18 A. No. She had competence only for crimes. As for misdemeanours,
19 the police station would submit reports to the Court directly, not through
20 the Prosecutor's office.
21 Q. Thank you. Now, I would ask you to tell us whether or not there
22 came a point in time that your court could not -- the basic court, that
23 is, could not act against certain individuals in Srebrenica.
24 A. The basic court was a civil court. It did not have jurisdiction
25 over military personnel. Exceptionally, the basic court could try
1 military personnel if they were co-perpetrators in a crime together with a
2 civilian. It was only in such cases, exceptionally, and this was
3 described in detail in the legal provisions. It was provided for -- with
4 precision by the law.
5 Q. Now, you just testified that the basic court was a civil court.
6 Now, in fact, were you -- and you also testified that there were other
7 crimes that were adjudicated by this Court. So did it have both civil and
8 criminal competences? Your Honour, I think there was a problem with
10 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, I see. I will repeat the question to you
11 myself. Are you receiving interpretation now? A question is arises, I
12 mean it's probably because Ms. Richardson comes from a common law
13 jurisdiction. A question, now, you just testified that the basic court
14 was a civil court. Now, in fact, you also testified that there were other
15 crimes that were adjudicated by this Court. So did it have both civil and
16 criminal competences? This is the question.
17 MS. RICHARDSON: Your Honour, I'll withdraw that question. In
18 fact I realise that I reverted to the common law system and he's answered
19 the question.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: That's how it is in this part of the world.
21 MS. RICHARDSON: Indeed, thank you, Your Honour. Thank you.
22 Q. No need to answer that Mr. Omerovic. With respect to the
23 Prosecutor's office, could you tell Your Honours what jurisdiction she had
24 and whether she had any limitations with respect to individuals that she
25 could initiate a criminal action against --
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Why don't you ask the direct question straight away
2 if you're referring to two persons in the military.
3 MS. RICHARDSON: I'm trying to avoid leading.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: But I'm authorising you to put that question
5 straight away.
6 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you.
7 Q. Did the Prosecutor have jurisdiction over members of the armed
8 forces, those of the military?
9 A. She did not have such jurisdiction. She was an exclusively
10 civilian Prosecutor. The military Prosecutor's office and the military
11 court were in Tuzla. She did not have this competence. However, using a
12 provision of the law on criminal procedure, allowing the courts, in order
13 to secure evidence and traces, to act even when it did not have
14 competence. In order to secure the traces of a crime, we felt that we
15 could apply these provisions even if the cases did not fall within our
16 jurisdiction. For example, a military person, a soldier, would murder
17 someone. We were not competent. But the police would report this to us
18 and the Prosecutor, the investigating judge, would go to carry out an
19 onsite investigation and we would decide on detention against such
20 persons. We had to do this in order to prevent further chaos due to the
21 circumstances we were in. But we did rely on the law in this case and
22 wherever we could, we reported on everything to the competent military
23 court in Tuzla.
24 Q. While we are on the subject matter of the procedure, could you
25 tell Your Honours in addition to the police filing a report, could you
1 tell us what other procedures were taken with respect to investigation?
2 What other steps, excuse me. First by the police.
3 A. The police, when it learned that a crime had been committed, would
4 with secure the crime scene. For example in cases of murder, would inform
5 the Court and the Prosecutor. Then an investigating team would be
6 established consisting of the investigating judge, the public Prosecutor,
7 criminal inspectors, and forensic technicians from the police. An on site
8 investigation would be carried out. Photo documentation would be
9 compiled. There would be a record of the onsite investigation, and the
10 suspect would be brought to the Court and questioned. After this, the
11 public Prosecutor would move the judge to hand down a decision on
12 detention for 30 days. After that, a panel of judges could extend
13 detention or custody for another two months. And then for three months
14 again. Custody before the raising of an indictment could not be longer
15 than six months, and by that time, the investigation had to be completed.
16 Q. And as a result, did the Court, the basic court, yourself, and the
17 Prosecutor, seek to have your authority expanded in that regard, with how
18 long you could detain someone and your authority over persons in the
20 JUDGE AGIUS: He has answered that question. The circumstances
21 were what they were. They had to do something. And although this was not
22 within the umbrella of the law, they arrogated to themselves the power to
23 do what under normal circumstances they wouldn't have had jurisdiction to
24 do. I think we can move --
25 MS. RICHARDSON: I can move on, Your Honour.
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 Q. My only other question is: Did you notify the Tuzla authorities
2 of the problems with respect to your authority over military persons?
3 A. It was extremely difficult for us to communicate with other bodies
4 outside Srebrenica. When we realised what the problems were, we thought
5 that the agony of Srebrenica would end sooner, when we set out to do our
6 work. We didn't think that we would have to keep people in custody or
7 perform work falling within the competence of other courts for a long
8 time. When we understood all these problems, then we wrote letters trying
9 to draw the attention of the competent bodies to this. We asked for
10 assistance. We had people who were in custody for triple murder, for
11 instance, and we were not competent to try them. It was very difficult
12 for the district court in Tuzla to take over this competence. I, as the
13 president of the court, sent letters seeking ways of solving the problem
14 in the best possible way.
15 MS. RICHARDSON: Your Honour, at this time I would like a document
16 to be shown to the witness. Thank you. And we will hand out copies for
17 the record.
18 Q. Now, Mr. Omerovic, if you could take a look at this document and
19 just tell us whether or not this is the first time you've seen it prior to
20 coming to The Hague and then we can move on to the very quick questions
21 that I have for you on this document. Let me direct your attention --
22 thank you. The ERN number is 0296618 -- 6618. I'd like to direct your
23 attention to the first full paragraph. I'll just read it quickly into the
24 record. "In view of the total blockade of your counties" -- "your
25 courts'," excuse me, "territory of jurisdiction, I authorise the court to
1 take on behalf of the district military court in Tuzla all investigation
2 procedures that cannot be delayed such as on site investigations,
3 interrogation, gathering of evidence. I also authorise you to take other
4 measures where the failure to take them would cause immeasurable
5 consequences. There is no other man tore act except the one you have
6 already used because no amendments of the Criminal Code have been made in
7 that direction." For the record I should state this is the 6th of
8 February 1995. It is from the district military court in Tuzla to the
9 basic court in Srebrenica.
10 Mr. Omerovic, are you familiar with what I just stated with
11 respect to this letter?
12 A. Yes. I received this letter in Srebrenica from the president of
13 the district military court. He was familiar with the problems we were
14 facing, and --
15 JUDGE AGIUS: Stop.
16 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, Your Honour.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: The question is, are you familiar with this
18 document? Because otherwise, if you continue like this, you're going to
19 put Ms. Richardson in a position where she cannot finish her questions.
20 So he is familiar with this document.
21 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you, Your Honour.
22 Q. With respect to the I am measurable consequences being referred
23 to, what were those consequence that existed at the time if you failed to
24 take immediate action?
25 JUDGE AGIUS: I think he has explained this already,
1 Ms. Richardson.
2 MS. RICHARDSON: I can move on.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: What number shall we give this document. P?
4 THE REGISTRAR: P5489, Your Honour.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: P549. I apologise to both of you If I'm being
6 abrupt. But if I don't do this, we will not finish with this witness
7 before Monday of next week.
8 MS. RICHARDSON: I appreciate your assistance in moving things
9 along, Your Honour.
10 JUDGE AGIUS: [Previous translation continues] ... statement and
11 the number of documents that he's still got to see. We have to move.
12 MS. RICHARDSON: Your Honour, the next document I would put to the
13 witness, and just briefly for confirmation, 02966619 to 02966620. It is
14 dated the 25th of January 1995. And my only question, Mr. Omerovic, is
15 whether or not you sent this letter to the district military court
16 regarding the situation in Srebrenica at the time. And specifically, the
17 situation regarding the courts, the jurisdiction of military members, and
18 the necessity of having to take action.
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Thank you.
21 MS. RICHARDSON: Your Honour, if we could have --
22 JUDGE AGIUS: Why isn't it signed? There is your name and your
23 position as president of the -- presiding judge, president, and your name,
24 but no signature. Is there an explanation for that?
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] We were unable to send any original
1 documents from Srebrenica to Tuzla. We could only on approval of the
2 war -- upon approval of the president of the War Presidency, hand over our
3 documents to be transmitted through the communications system that
4 existed. It would then be retyped and it would arrive without any
5 signature or stamp. So this is probably the document that arrived in
6 Tuzla. That's why there is no signature or stamp on it.
7 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you for the explanation. It is a very
8 important one. So this will be P550.
9 MS. RICHARDSON: I just had one quick question with respect to the
10 indication on the B/C/S as well as the English that this was telegramme.
11 Q. I would ask you if you know what type of system was used to
12 transmit this information to Tuzla.
13 A. I never saw this system, nor do I know what kind of system it is.
14 All that I know is that when we wanted to send someone, it had to be
15 approved by the president of the War Presidency and a courier would take
16 it to the person working on this. I was never there. All I know is that
17 you couldn't send an original document. It was some sort of system but I
18 couldn't explain it to you.
19 Q. Thank you.
20 MS. RICHARDSON: Your Honour, if we could have an exhibit number.
21 JUDGE AGIUS: 550.
22 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you.
23 Q. Next I would ask that the witness be shown another document, 0 --
24 excuse me DA 17-6994, and again very briefly, Mr. Omerovic, if you look at
25 this document, it's on Sanction. It's from the basic court. It's dated
1 the 12th of May 1994. It's to the district court in Tuzla. The first
2 paragraph -- the subject matter is the request for transfer of
3 jurisdiction. The first sentence I would read to you is what is stated
4 here, "before this Court the investigation proceedings have been completed
5 against several soldiers of the army of the Republic of
6 Bosnia-Herzegovina, the perpetrators of criminal acts." And towards the
7 end, there is a request regarding the transfer of jurisdiction from the
8 military -- the district military court in Tuzla to the basic court.
9 Could you confirm that this in fact was a letter that you sent to
10 the district military court regarding soldiers of the armed forces?
11 A. Just a moment, please. Give me some time to read it.
12 I can't remember this document, but probably, when I look at the
13 protocol number, it's probably a correct document. Due to the passage of
14 time I've forgotten it but I probably did send this letter.
15 Q. Thank you.
16 MS. RICHARDSON: Your Honour, I don't have any other question with
17 respect to this document. If the Prosecution could be given an exhibit
19 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, this will become P551.
20 MS. RICHARDSON: We do have another document to show the witness,
21 Your Honour, and it will be P507.
22 Q. Mr. Omerovic, if you could take a look at this document, Exhibit
23 number P507, ERN number 03648890 to 8895, it's from the Ministry of the
24 Interior in Sarajevo, security services Tuzla, public security station
25 Srebrenica, and it's to the senior public Prosecutor office. It's dated
1 the 28th of July 1993. This is -- it's entitled "criminal report," at
2 least that's what it states here and it states against Emir Halilovic. It
3 is signed by chief Hakija Meholjic, and I would ask you to just quickly
4 just look at the pages and tell me if this is -- if this is one of the
5 reports that would be sent to the basic court in support of an indictment
6 or -- I'll rephrase. Actually following the --
7 JUDGE AGIUS: Do you remember there case, to start with, and did
8 it ever end up or was it ever sent to your court?
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This case was never referred to the
10 basic court in Srebrenica. It was directly referred to Tuzla. With the
11 help of UNPROFOR and their civilian police force or somebody else, or
12 perhaps SFOR, Emir Halilovic was evacuated to Tuzla and turned over to the
13 competent military Prosecutor's office and the Court.
14 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes.
15 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you.
16 Q. Page 3 of the English, and if you could locate the section in the
17 B/C/S version that describes -- it states evidence. And it states,
18 "questioning of Emir Halilovic," and it states following that section it
19 states, "attached, statement of Emir Halilovic," the official note by the
20 deputy military police commander, et cetera. Could you tell us if in fact
21 this investigation did take place in Srebrenica, as far as you know?
22 A. All of the work in relation to this case was conducted by the
23 public security station. During 1994, the basic court, upon the request
24 of the military court in Tuzla, examined or interviewed some of the
25 witnesses. I can't remember exactly what witnesses. So the entire
1 proceedings took place in Tuzla and the public security station was
2 duty-bound to act and basically we dealt with the case based on the
3 request of the Court in Tuzla and then we forwarded our findings to Tuzla.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. We have exceeded already our time.
5 We'll have a 25-minute break and reconvene. Let's -- we will reconvene
6 exactly at quarter past six.
7 --- Recess taken at 5.50 p.m.
8 --- On resuming at 6.17 p.m.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, let's continue.
10 One moment, Ms. Richardson, because the accused is not yet seated.
11 So let's continue and finish, please.
12 MS. RICHARDSON: Yes, Your Honour, indeed that's my intention.
13 With respect to Prosecution's Exhibit 507, if I could just have the
14 usher's assistance just briefly to show this continue to point out a
15 couple of things with respect to this record. 507, thank you.
16 Q. Now, Mr. Omerovic, we were before the break discussing what
17 evidence -- what investigation was conducted in Srebrenica and also I'd
18 just like you to confirm in fact that an autopsy report was done of the
19 body of the victim, Stojan Krsmanovic, and sketches were also done of the
20 scene in the hospital, and that is referred to in the same section you
21 were reviewing prior to the break where it discusses evidence.
22 JUDGE AGIUS: What's your question, Ms. Richardson?
23 MS. RICHARDSON: I would like the witness to confirm that in fact
24 these steps were taken.
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] As a witness, I cannot confirm that.
1 I cannot confirm anything else apart from what I can see in the document.
2 The basic court in Srebrenica did not in any way participate in the
3 conducting of the investigation. It was done by the public security
4 station in Srebrenica and they forwarded the report plus the accused to
5 Tuzla. From this, I can see that the on site investigation was conducted,
6 because it is in the annex. I see this from the document but as to what
7 the reality was I'm not familiar with that.
8 Q. Thank you. I'm all done with that document.
9 MS. RICHARDSON: I'd like the witness to be shown Defence Exhibit
11 Q. Now, just in the interests of time, if you could confirm it states
12 military district court in Tuzla, it is a decision on conducting the
13 investigation and it is against Emir Halilovic. As far as you know, is
14 this the same Emir Halilovic that we -- that the criminal report was --
15 the investigation was conducted in Srebrenica?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Thank you. No further questions with respect to this document.
18 MS. RICHARDSON: I do have another document I'd like to be shown
19 the witness. We have copies, and it is on Sanction.
20 Q. Now, Mr. Omerovic, again we are running short on time. I would
21 just like you to take a look at this document and first -- just for the
22 record I should state that it's from the Srebrenica lower court to the
23 district court, to the Tuzla district court, the 25th of October 1993.
24 It's in regards to Ferid Mehmedovic and I would ask you to tell us who the
25 investigating judge was. It's on the second page of the English document,
1 Enisa Dizdarevic?
2 A. The investigating judge in this case was Enisa Dizdarevic and
3 after she got married, she became Masic.
4 Q. I should also ask you, are you familiar with this case?
5 A. In full.
6 Q. All right. And could you also confirm that an order of detention
7 was issued regarding this individual?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. And what kind of crime did he commit, without giving us the
10 details, just tell us what he was charged with.
11 A. He was charged with the criminal offence of murder.
12 Q. Thank you. And also, could you confirm that the hearing was held
13 with respect to this accused?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. And he was also interviewed or examined?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. By the investigative judge?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Also present was the public prosecutor?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Was there also a clerk of the court as well?
22 A. I don't know exactly what court clerk you have in mind. Do you
23 mean the person typing?
24 Q. All right. Well, let's answer if you can answer this question.
25 How many staff was present usually in the room with respect to a hearing
1 of this type? Court staff.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Let's look to the word which they use in their
3 language, "zapanica [phoen]." Who was the zapanica? Or was there a
4 zapanica during these proceedings? And if there was, who was he or she?
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] In addition to the investigating
6 judge, there was the typist who kept the record, the public prosecutor,
7 and no one else. The names of the people present have to be a part of the
8 minutes, and hence the typist was Huso Dizefera [phoen], and this is what
9 should be found at the end of each of the minutes.
10 JUDGE AGIUS: All right.
11 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you.
12 Q. With respect to this particular case, can you also confirm part of
13 the file that we are reviewing contains hearing records of the various
14 witnesses in this case?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Thank you.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: This document will become P552, incidentally.
18 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you, Your Honour.
19 Q. Also with respect to the detention, if you turn to page 9, that is
20 in the B/C/S 0412 of the document. It's page 12 of the English. It's
21 titled, "Decision."
22 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes.
23 MS. RICHARDSON:
24 Q. Yes, it's page 9. Did you find what I'm referring to? It's in
25 reference to the decision and it refers to the detention from the 23rd of
1 November 1993 until the 23rd of January 1994.
2 A. That is incorrect. "1993. There was detention in duration of 30
3 days as of the 23rd of October 1993 until the 23rd of November 1993."
4 That's what the Bosnian version says.
5 Q. All right. And at some point was this detention extended?
6 A. Yes. The Chamber, upon the suggestion of the public prosecutor,
7 extended the detention for another two months.
8 Q. Thank you. And you were a member of that panel?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Now, I would take you to page 12 of the B/C/S version. For the
11 English it is 17. The B/C/S is 0412 to 0413, and I would ask you to take
12 a look at --
13 JUDGE AGIUS: Incidentally, one moment, because you're saying page
14 17. The English version that I have stops at page 10. So I suppose there
15 are some pages missing but go -- please proceed.
16 MS. RICHARDSON: We will provide these pages to the Court and to
17 the Defence.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: Go ahead with your question.
19 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you.
20 Q. I'm referring to the section, it's titled "From the Ministry of
21 Internal Affairs Sarajevo, secret services centre, Tuzla, public security
22 centre. Station, Srebrenica," and it states it's signed by Hapija Mahalic
23 [phoen] and it states "In relation to your document, we are informing you
24 that we were not able to provide a medical clerk to examine the corpse,
25 therefore the corpse had been examined by the crime prevention inspector,
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 Rased Efenovic [phoen], and crime technician." Are you familiar with that
2 occurring as part of this case? And you may find it on -- I think you'll
3 find it on page 12.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: I think Mr. Jones and Madam Vidovic, you have to
5 follow on Sanction. I think it's easier for the time being, and then
6 we'll get the complete document because others wise we don't proceed.
7 MR. JONES: Unfortunately, we don't seem to have Sanction on these
8 computers either but we are managing.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: I see. No, you can press and put select on the big
10 monitor, right? And then press computer evidence and you should have it.
11 MR. JONES: Yes, thank you, Your Honour.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: What's the problem?
13 MS. RICHARDSON: I'm about to turn over my copy of the B/C/S.
14 Apparently the pages weren't attached to the B/C/S as we handed it up. As
15 it's -- they didn't attach the complete file.
16 JUDGE AGIUS: It's what I tried to say earlier on.
17 MS. RICHARDSON: I apologise, Your Honour. I didn't realise
18 that's what you were saying.
19 Q. Now, if you look at page 12, there is a note from Hakija Meholjic
20 regarding the investigation which I just read. Do you see that? Okay
21 could you just --
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... whether in fact based on
24 your knowledge of the case, whether in fact this occurred?
25 A. During the investigation, the investigating judge requested from
1 the public security station to forward evidence as to whether they have
2 carried out the autopsy of the corpse and the station here reports that
3 only the criminal inspector examined the body and no one else. And they
4 also reported having studied the criminal files, that the suspect has no
5 previous criminal record. So this is what was asked of the Court at that
6 time. They wanted to know whether an autopsy was carried out.
7 Q. Thank you. And also I would just draw your attention finally to
8 page 16 of that document. It is from the prison warden. Do you see that?
9 A. [No audible response]
10 Q. Okay. At this point, I would ask you whether or not you were
11 familiar with what is stated here, that we are informing you in regards to
12 your document number date, and this is in relation to the accused, that he
13 has left, wilfully left the Srebrenica municipality court, and then it
14 also refers further down to the fact that the individual returned to the
16 A. Yes, I am familiar with that. He seized an opportunity and during
17 the night he managed to remove the bars in his cell but he had nowhere to
18 go. He went to his house because we were under siege, and then we were
19 reported this by the prison warden, and he also told us that the suspect
20 returned himself -- by himself to the cell.
21 Q. Thank you. I don't have any other question with respect to this
22 document and I do thank the Court usher for rendering her assistance.
23 Next I would like to ask you as a follow-up to that question about
24 someone leaving the prison, could you tell Your Honours whether this was
25 the first time that prisoners had left the prison facility in Srebrenica?
1 A. In addition to this case, there was another. A person carried out
2 an armed assault against a prison and he released all those who were in
3 custody. This is Ejub Golic who came armed during the night to the prison
4 and he forced the guards to leave, perhaps there were just two of them,
5 and he was shooting during the incident and he released all of those who
6 were detained and they all went home.
7 Q. Did you -- was this in any way connected to the fact that these
8 were members of the armed forces?
9 A. At the time, in custody for the criminal offence, there was Ejub
10 Golic's close friend. He had the intention of setting him free but
11 instead he set all of those in custody free. And it is true that that one
12 person was a member of the armed forces. That was Nezir Merdzic who was
13 in detention and Ejub Golic wanted to release him and with the aid of his
14 weapons and the brute force, he did so.
15 Q. And also with respect to members of the armed forces, did you
16 receive any threats in connection with your court prosecuting these
18 A. We lived in a very small area, and on a daily basis we would meet
19 the families of those in detention. So we would receive threats,
20 sometimes from family members of those people, from their brothers, and --
21 but the only serious threat was made by Ejub Golic, who attempted to
22 assault my colleague, Mr. Klempic, and he, that very night, released the
24 Q. And did Mr. Golic question your -- the Court's jurisdiction over
25 members of the armed forces?
1 A. I am not sure as to the aim of your question.
2 Q. Well, I can rephrase, certainly. Was there an issue in Srebrenica
3 from any authority that the Court had no jurisdiction over members of the
4 armed forces?
5 A. The well-known fact was that the basic court in Srebrenica was a
6 civilian one and that it was not competent to try members of the armed
7 forces, and certain individuals of course used that to keep repeating that
8 we are violating the law, that we are not competent. And as the president
9 of the Court, I got quite worried because I didn't want to be accused for
10 something whereas I was trying to keep order, together with the other
11 judges, and I was afraid of being accused that we detained someone
13 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you. Your Honour at this time I'd like the
14 witness to be shown a document.
15 JUDGE ESER: Mr. Omerovic, you have been asked whether this case
16 was in any way connected to the fact that these were members of the armed
17 forces, and you answered "he had the intention of setting him free but
18 instead he set all of those in custody free." Now, the other people who
19 have also been set free, have they been members of the armed forces or
20 something else?
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Some yes, some no. His primary goal
22 was to release his good friend. They spent a lot of time together. They
23 lived in the same house. So not all of those detained were members of the
24 armed forces. There were people who were civilians.
25 MS. RICHARDSON: Your Honour, at this time the document is on
2 Q. Mr. Omerovic, I'd ask you to take a look at this letter. It is
3 from the army of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, independent -- the 8
4 operational group, independent mountain battalion. It's to the district
5 military Prosecutor in Tuzla. It's signed by Ejub Golic. Looking at this
6 letter -- I should just reference what this letter states without going
7 into details. It is asking -- the final three lines I'm asking you, as
8 the commander of the independent mountain battalion to inform me on
9 further detention of Mirzet and I need it for planning of certain
10 activities. It also states that the lower public prosecutor's office,
11 Srebrenica handing over the case to you for further jurisdiction while
12 keeping Mirzet's ... In custody for an indefinite period of time. Could
13 you just tell me if you, prior to coming here, if you'd seen this document
15 A. No. Not until I was shown that document by the Prosecution.
16 Q. And were you familiar with Ejub Golic before, just answer yes or
17 no, without giving us the details, prior to the events in Srebrenica?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. In your opinion, was he capable of drafting this letter, based on
20 his education?
21 A. No.
22 Q. Thank you.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: So this will become P --
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Someone had to have helped him.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. P553.
1 MS. RICHARDSON: I do have another document to be shown the
2 witness. And it is on Sanction.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: Is it all right now? Can you follow on Sanction,
4 Mr. Jones?
5 MR. JONES: Yes, following Your Honour's rapid induction, we've
6 worked out the technology.
7 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay.
8 MS. RICHARDSON:
9 Q. Mr. Omerovic, this document that you're viewing is entitled --
10 well, it's from the lower court in Srebrenica. It's dated the 16th of May
11 1994 to the military court in Tuzla. Now I just have one question with
12 respect to this document. Are you familiar with the case against the
13 accused Nazif Mesanovic?
14 A. Mesanovic, yes.
15 Q. And this individual was accused of committing what crime?
16 A. This person was accused of multiple murder. He killed three
17 people. That was the criminal offence.
18 Q. And was this case referred to the district military court in
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. And you were the Presiding Judge?
22 A. The Presiding Judge of the panel.
23 Q. Thank you.
24 Next, Your Honour?
25 JUDGE AGIUS: This will be 554.
1 MS. RICHARDSON: I'm not sure if I asked you if he was a member of
2 the armed forces.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: No, you have not asked him.
4 MS. RICHARDSON:
5 Q. Was he a member of the armed forces, Mr. Omerovic?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. The next document to be shown the witness.
8 Now, Mr. Omerovic, this is also a document in connection with
9 Nasif Mesanovic, and it's dated the 1st of August 1995. It's from the
10 lower court in Srebrenica.
11 JUDGE AGIUS: 1994.
12 MS. RICHARDSON: 1994, thank you, Your Honour.
13 Q. And it is -- can you confirm that it is an appeal that was filed
14 by the accused?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. And could you also confirm that you forwarded his appeal to the
17 district court in Tuzla?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Thank you. I have no further questions on this.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: There will become Prosecution Exhibit P555.
21 MS. RICHARDSON:
22 Q. Mr. Omerovic, did you, at the time that you were the president of
23 the court, file reports on the work of the court, meaning cases that
24 were -- that had been handled by the court, et cetera?
25 A. Yes. I did --
1 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... I can ask --
2 A. -- to the ministry in Sarajevo.
3 Q. Thank you. And I would ask that the witness be shown Defence
4 Exhibit 209. Now, if you would look at this document, it is dated the
5 10th of December 1993. It is from Srebrenica lower court and this is a
6 document that you yourself authored. If you could confirm?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. And this document is a report on the work covered by the Court
9 during the period prior to the establishment of the basic court with
10 respect to the misdemeanours, I should say.
11 A. This report is to inform the high court in Tuzla about the overall
12 work of the Court until this date, the 10th of December 1993, encompassing
13 the work of both the misdemeanour and the regular court in all cases.
14 Q. Thank you. And with respect to the work of the misdemeanour, this
15 is prior to the establishment of the basic court?
16 JUDGE AGIUS: It has to be, no? Skip it, Ms. Richardson.
17 MS. RICHARDSON: Your Honour, I can do that. I withdraw that last
18 question. Thank you, Mr. Omerovic, I don't have any further questions
19 with respect to this document.
20 I would ask that the witness be shown another document. We have
22 Q. And again, this is a report on the overall work of the court. It
23 is on Sanction. It is dated the 15th of June 1995 -- excuse me, it's from
24 the lower court, midway towards the end of the page. It's dated the 24th
25 May 1995. It's to the Ministry of Justice in Sarajevo. It's signed --
1 excuse me, was this document produced by yourself and is it as it pertains
2 to the overall work of the court during the period of time that you were
3 in Srebrenica?
4 A. Yes.
5 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you. Your Honour, if we could have an
6 exhibit number.
7 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, this will be 556, Ms. Richardson. With a P in
9 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you.
10 Q. Mr. Omerovic, did there come a time when Srebrenica sought to
11 establish a district military court?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. And could you tell us if in fact lawyers were appointed to this
15 A. Judges were appointed to that court but because of the fall of
16 Srebrenica that court never actually started its work. This took place
17 perhaps about a month before the fall of Srebrenica.
18 Q. Thank you. With respect to the Judges that were elected, were
19 they lawyers who were in and around the area of Srebrenica during 1992 and
20 1993 to 1995, I should say?
21 A. One of them lived in Zepa throughout this time. This was Ferid
22 Otojagic. Another one was in Konjevic Polje in Bratunac municipality.
23 The third one Resid Sinanovic lived for a time in the village of
24 Podloznik, and after that he was in Srebrenica.
25 Q. And did the district military court in Tuzla sought from
1 Srebrenica the names of lawyers that could be appointed to district
2 military court in Srebrenica that they were trying to establish?
3 A. In our correspondence with the district military court about the
4 impossibility of its functioning on the territory of Srebrenica, the idea
5 arose that the department of the district military court from Tuzla be
6 established in Srebrenica, and they asked for a list of lawyers who had
7 graduated from law school. But those who were appointed as judges already
8 had duties. Resid Sinanovic for example was already the secretary of
9 Bratunac municipality in exile, Dzemail Ovanovic [phoen] also had other
10 duties and the third one had another position, so that all of them had
11 other positions and they would have had to stop performing their other
12 duties and act only as judges.
13 Q. Thank you. Now I'd like the witness to be shown a document. It's
14 already -- has an exhibit number, Your Honour. It's Defence Exhibit 207.
15 Now, if you look at this document, it's from the military district
16 court in Tuzla. It is dated the 24th of April 1995, and it's to the mayor
17 of Srebrenica municipality, the main court in Srebrenica, and the division
18 command. It references the fact that "on several occasions we requested
19 and asked to you send us proposals for the appointment of judges," and
20 they list -- I should say just before the list of names, I'd like to read
21 another sentence. "On the contrary we have not received any proposals so
22 far." This is in the first paragraph. "On the contrary, we were informed
23 that you did not have any graduated lawyers on the free part of the
24 territory. However, in persistent search, the court president found out
25 that the graduated lawyers did reside," and there are a list of lawyers or
1 could you confirm that these are lawyers who were in and around
3 A. I have to clarify this. It's true that they had all graduated
4 from the faculty of law. However, they wanted a people who were free.
5 All these people already had duties they were performing. They had
6 already been appointed to other posts. So that were they appointed as
7 judges, these other posts would become vacant and they also had to be
8 filled by people who have graduated from the faculty of law. So that was
9 the problem in establishing the department of this Court.
10 Q. Thank you. I don't have any further question with respect to this
12 MS. RICHARDSON: Your Honour, I apologise. We have copies of the
14 JUDGE AGIUS: We need to stop at one minute before 7 because at 7
15 sharp I have an overseas call waiting for me.
16 MS. RICHARDSON: Okay, Your Honour, this is -- I just have a few
17 questions on this document and I'll end. For Your Honours' information,
18 tomorrow I have some -- a few photographs to be shown so that should
19 complete my examination. So if you would --
20 JUDGE AGIUS: The important thing is that I walk out of this
21 courtroom one minute before 7 to be able to get the phone call in my room.
22 MS. RICHARDSON: Okay.
23 Q. Mr. Omerovic, if you take a look at this document, it is from
24 "Command of the 28 division Srebrenica, 27th April 1995, reply to your
25 letter dated the 24th, defence of the republic military secret, district
1 military court," and I should say it's signed by Ekrem Salihovic and
2 assistant commander of intelligence. Towards the middle portion of this
3 document, there is a sentence which states, "All lawyers mentioned in your
4 request are engaged in the army or in compulsory work service." So does
5 this reflect what you just testified to previously regarding the lawyers?
6 A. Yes. Precisely so. They all had other duties to perform. And
7 other tasks.
8 Q. Thank you. It also mentions towards the lower portion of the
9 page, "it would be unacceptable for the division command to lose its only
10 lawyer, referring to Majstorovic, although we understand your need to
11 establish -- you wish to establish a military court department in
12 Srebrenica. To appoint this lawyer to a judicial post would be pointless
13 for another reason which is that in all criminal cases processed by the
14 million court so far he has participated in investigations conducted by
15 Srebrenica lower court in the capacity of a defence counsel for criminal
16 perpetrators, military personnel." Could you confirm whether in fact
17 Mr. Majstorovic did in fact represent individuals before your court in the
18 capacity of a defence attorney?
19 A. Before early 1995, he did appear in one case. In one case he was
20 authorised by the accused to represent them. I cannot recall the names of
21 the accused right now or what case it was, but if there were no attorneys,
22 where the court was, a person who was not an attorney but was a lawyer
23 could be appointed. He did appear but in only one case. Not more than
25 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you, Mr. Omerovic. Your Honour, I have no
1 further questions with respect to this document and we can end this
2 session today.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: Tomorrow you will have a few minutes.
4 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you. And a P number, if Your Honour --
5 JUDGE AGIUS: 557, please, 557. Tomorrow you will have a few
6 minutes and I would appreciate if you would meet with Madam Vidovic before
7 the sitting and agree how much she can concede to you.
8 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you, Your Honour.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you for your cooperation. We'll meet tomorrow
10 afternoon. Thank you.
11 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 7.00 p.m.,
12 to be reconvened on Thursday, the 26th day of May
13 2005, at 2.15 p.m.