1 Thursday, 4 December 2008
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The witness entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 2.15 p.m.
6 JUDGE MOLOTO: Good afternoon, to everybody in and around the
7 courtroom. Madam Registrar, will you please call the case.
8 THE REGISTRAR: Good afternoon, Your Honours. Good afternoon,
9 everyone in and around. This is case number IT-04-81-T, the Prosecutor
10 versus Momcilo Perisic.
11 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much. Could we have appearances
12 for today starting with the Prosecution.
13 MR. THOMAS: May it please Your Honours, Barney Thomas, Rafael La
14 Cruz, and Carmela Javier for the Prosecution.
15 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much. And for the Defence.
16 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] Good afternoon, Your Honours. Good
17 afternoon to everyone in the courtroom. Mr. Perisic's Defence will today
18 be represented by Tina Drolec and Milos Androvic, our assistants; Daniela
19 Tasic, our case manager; and I as his Defence counsel.
20 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much, Mr. Lukic. May I just
21 mention that due to some other business that Judge David had to attend
22 to, the Chamber is sitting pursuant to rule 15 bis this afternoon.
23 Good afternoon, Mr. Koster. Just to remind you, sir, that you
24 are still bound by the declaration you made at the beginning of your
25 testimony to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing else but the
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I know that, thank you.
3 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you.
4 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
5 WITNESS: EELCO CHRISTIAN MARTIN JODOCUS KOSTER
7 [Witness answered through interpreter]
8 Cross-examination by Mr. Lukic [Continued]
9 Q. Mr. Koster, good afternoon. Let us continue -- well, I won't be
10 taking much time to cross-examine you today. If you recall, the day
11 before yesterday when we were about to end, I was asking questions about
12 your conversation with General Mladic, and you mentioned the instructions
13 that you had received from your operation centre, that you were to relay
14 to Mladic the message to contact your superior, Mr. Karremans.
15 My first question to you is, did you hear whether the two of them
16 actually got in contact? Did you receive any feedback about their
17 contacts, if any?
18 A. [No interpretation]
19 JUDGE MOLOTO: We are not receiving any interpretation.
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I chose to stay in my position.
21 JUDGE MOLOTO: The witness had said a lot more than just that.
22 THE INTERPRETER: May the witness please repeat what he said.
23 JUDGE MOLOTO: Will you please repeat yourself, Mr. Koster, I'm
24 sorry about that.
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, thank you, Your Honour. In
1 answer to your question, I told to General Mladic that he should contact
2 my commander. He chose not to do so, and he stayed with me, so I do not
3 know whether maybe they had contact afterwards. But at the time when he
4 was with me, they had no contact.
5 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation]
6 Q. And in the following days, did Mr. Karremans go to Potocari?
7 A. Commander Karremans did at a certain moment come to my position,
8 but General Mladic was not at my position at that time.
9 Q. The same day when you yourself had this encounter with Mladic,
10 first encounter?
11 A. No, no. He was not at my position, Karremans. They did not have
12 contact at my position.
13 Q. No. My question is only whether on that day when you had the
14 first encounter with Mr. Mladic and when you relayed to him this message
15 that he should contact Karremans, whether on that day Karremans came to
16 Potocari later on once Mladic had left?
17 A. Yes, yes. Karremans, Commander Karremans, at a certain time
18 came to my location, but I do not remember whether that was the same day
19 or the day after.
20 JUDGE MOLOTO: Just so that I follow, is it not so, Mr. Koster,
21 that Mr. Karremans was in the same compound with you at Potocari but in a
22 different building from where you were with Mr. Mladic, or am I
23 misunderstanding something?
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] What you say is correct. I was
25 outside the compound with the refugees, and Mr. Karremans was in the
1 compound, and he was not in my position, not where I was.
2 JUDGE MOLOTO: And this compound is in Potocari?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, it is.
4 JUDGE MOLOTO: Because I wasn't understanding your question when
5 you say did he come to Potocari.
6 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] Because it was my understanding
7 having read some other transcripts that Mr. Karremans was in Srebrenica
8 at the time, but now we heard from the witness -- well, this is why I
9 actually wanted to ask this question, but now we've cleared that up.
10 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you.
11 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation]
12 Q. Mr. Koster, you left the enclave of Srebrenica, and you left
13 Potocari on the last convoy; I think it was on the 21st of July. Now, my
14 question, is that so?
15 A. Indeed. I left the enclave with the last convoy, but the exact
16 date I cannot remember offhand.
17 Q. Well, this is not important to me. I want to ask you whether you
18 recall if Colonel Karremans was on the same convoy, whether he left the
19 enclave on the same convoy as you did.
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. I will now show you a segment of the transcript of your evidence
22 in the -- in the proceedings to confirm the indictment against Karadzic
23 and Mladic. That's P383, page 16. Could we please have that up in
24 e-court. You answered some questions that were asked by the Trial
25 Chamber. Could we see the lower part. That's line 25, Judge Odio Beneto
1 asking you questions, and she asked you: [In English] "Had you, your
2 team, ask for help to your superiors or to the superior of command of
3 NATO or UNPROFOR to face this emergency?"
4 [Interpretation] Your response is: [In English] "I did not, no."
5 "Did you receive any additional support for help before or after
6 11th of July?"
7 And answer is: "No."
8 A. The translation was not complete, so could you please repeat the
9 question. That may be difficult, maybe, but please do repeat the
11 Q. [Interpretation] You have the transcript in front of you,
12 starting with line 26 in the English language. [In English] "Had you,
13 your team, asked for help to your superiors or to the superior command or
14 NATO or UNPROFOR to face this emergency?
15 Answer: "I did not, no. No."
16 "Did you receive any additional support for help before or after
17 11th of July?"
18 Answer: "No."
19 A. I do remember that I said that, yes, so --
20 Q. [Interpretation] I was about to ask the question. In fact, I
21 merely wanted to first show this part of the transcript to the witness.
22 My question is: Do you recall if any of your superiors, Karremans or
23 whoever, from your unit tell you that at that time, in the period after
24 the 11th, that any intervention was sought from NATO or UNPROFOR
25 regarding the situation that ensued after the 11th of July, and I'm
1 referring in particular to the huge number of refugees that showed up at
3 A. I do not remember. At that time, I was very busy handling the
4 situation at my position, and I do not recall whether I had contact with
5 my superiors about this.
6 JUDGE MOLOTO: That's not the question. The question is not
7 whether you had contact with your superiors. The question is: "Do you
8 recall if any of your superiors, Karremans or whoever from your unit,
9 told you" -- or "tell you that at that time, in the period after the
10 11th, that any intervention was sought from NATO or UNPROFOR regarding
11 the situation..." Did Karremans give you any report about any help that
12 he sought from somebody else?
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I can't remember that at this time,
14 Your Honour. I'm sorry.
15 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much.
16 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation]
17 Q. Now, I'll ask you something about another topic, and it concerns
18 your testimony and some of the documents admitted into evidence.
19 You described how on the 13th in the afternoon, you heard that
20 near the base there were about nine corpses, and you then went there with
21 your colleague Mr. Van Shaik. Do you remember where you were when you
22 heard these rumours, when this information reached you.
23 A. Yes, the information reached me in two different ways. I heard
24 about this when I was at the compound, and I subsequently heard about it
25 when I was at my position with the refugees.
1 Q. Do you remember whether you were told this by the refugees or
2 your colleagues from your unit?
3 A. I remember that the contact at the compound was with my
4 colleagues, and they told me over there that there were rumours about
5 that, but I don't know for certain, when I was back at my position with
6 the refugees outside the compound, I don't know whether I heard that from
7 the refugees as well as from my colleagues.
8 Q. You remained at the base in Potocari until the last part of the
9 convoy left, and in your previous testimony you mentioned the date of the
10 21st of July.
11 My question is the following: When was the evacuation of
12 civilians completed? When were all the civilians taken away from the
13 base in Potocari? Do you remember that?
14 A. Well, I have a question for clarification purposes. Do you mean
15 the refugees who were out of the compound or all refugees who were at the
17 Q. I mean both. The refugees, that is.
18 A. Thank you. The refugees outside the compound, I remember that
19 was on the 13th. It happened on the 13th. At the time I went back to
20 the compound and when I wanted to make my way back to my position outside
21 the compound, I was told that the refugees had already been evacuated.
22 As far as the refugees at the compound were concerned, I can't say with
23 absolute certainty on what day the last ones left.
24 Q. Can you tell us that in relation to the time when you left, did
25 you remain at the base on your own for a few days after the refugees left
2 A. No.
3 Q. Do you remember that there was a group of wounded who were
4 evacuated after the refugees left and that some international
5 organisations were present at their evacuation?
6 A. Yes, I remember that.
7 Q. After the large group is evacuated, the group that was outside
8 the base on the 13th of July, you went back to your regular tasks, that
9 is, your preparations to leave the enclave; is that correct?
10 A. Yes, that's correct.
11 Q. Until you left the enclave definitely, did you continue to have
12 the kind of daily briefings you had had before these events?
13 A. I don't know whether they were issued every day. I was informed
14 about the state of affairs, but I don't know whether that happened every
16 Q. When you say you were informed, I assume you had some sort of
17 meeting where the officers gathered and received information. That's my
18 understanding of the word "briefing."
19 A. Yes, but I cannot tell you whether that happened every day.
20 JUDGE MOLOTO: But did it happen in that manner? Did you get the
21 briefing in the form of a group of officers being briefed by somebody
22 else, maybe a superior, or did you get informed by written notes to
23 wherever you were? I thought that was the gravamen of the question.
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I request that the --
25 I would like to clarify the answer. Information was distributed in the
1 format of a briefing, as you meant, but also orally. I can't tell you
2 how many times I was given a briefing or how many times I was simply in
3 oral contact with my colleagues.
4 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation]
5 Q. Before these events, you had briefing meetings twice a day, in
6 the morning and in the afternoon, regular meetings of the officers in
7 your unit. Do you remember that?
8 A. Yes, I remember that.
9 Q. At these meetings, information that officers had obtained was
10 exchanged, and the superiors gave you tasks and told you what to do next.
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. During your stay in the enclave after these events until the time
13 you left the enclave definitely with the last group of convoys of members
14 of your unit, you heard of no massacres, murders, or other crimes on the
15 territory of Potocari, Srebrenica, and the entire enclave; is that
17 A. During that period, there were various rumours that circulated,
18 but I did not receive official reports during a briefing apart from my
19 own perception of the nine dead that I found.
20 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] Could we have part of P383, page 17,
21 on the screen again.
22 Q. You answered Judge Beneto's questions here, and it's line 16.
23 I'll read it in English. [In English] "Did you hear about massacre
24 committed by Serb soldiers, again, Muslims, in around Srebrenica,
25 Potocari, Bratunac at that time?"
1 "No, I only learned on Wednesday that there were position, there
2 were rumours about eight or nine bodies."
3 "After those days have you heard about massacre committed?"
4 "No, only when I returned in the news."
5 [Interpretation] My question is the following: When you say when
6 "I returned in the news," do you mean when you returned to the
8 A. Yes.
9 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] I have no further questions, Your
11 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much, Mr. Lukic.
12 Mr. Thomas.
13 MR. THOMAS: Thank you, Your Honours.
14 Re-examination by Mr. Thomas:
15 Q. Good afternoon again, Colonel.
16 Colonel, you were asked on Tuesday by my learned friend at page
17 22554, Your Honours, of the transcript at line 18, you were asked if
18 whether in the course of your meeting with General Mladic you had any
19 reason to suspect that he would not be taking the refugees to a safe
20 territory; and as part of your answer to that question, you said that
21 there was cause for you to doubt the certainty that he would, indeed,
22 relocate them in a proper manner.
23 Do you remember the questions that you were asked on Tuesday
24 about this issue?
25 A. Yes, I remember that question.
1 Q. Colonel, did you or any other members of DutchBat do anything
2 about those concerns that you had?
3 A. Yes. We expressed those concerns, and ultimately we were able to
4 turn those into action when the male were separated from the female
5 refugees. We tried to get as many men as possible onto the buses and
7 Q. Get as many -- which men? Sorry, which men on the buses and
9 A. In this case, the men who were selected by the Bosnian Serb
10 soldiers from the refugees, we tried to get them on the buses and trucks
11 after all.
12 Q. And how would you do that?
13 A. It was tricky because we needed to use oral tactics and use
14 arguments to wrest people free from the Bosnian Serb soldiers and to pull
15 them away from them, to get them -- to propel them in the direction of
16 the mass of refugees, and sometimes that worked, but other times the men
17 were dragged along, anyway, and taken away in the direction of the white
18 house, so it was very tricky.
19 Q. What sort of arguments would you use?
20 A. In my case, it was a bit easier for my fellow members of the
21 military because I was able to invoke my rank and state that I objected
22 to the men being taken away, and sometimes I was able to voice that in
23 more forceful terms, and the Bosnian Serb soldiers responded to that, and
24 then I would use the doubt on the part of the Bosnian Serb soldiers to
25 take the younger men and the more elderly men away and, in the confusion,
1 to propel them toward the buses. We tried to indicate that we objected
2 to the men being separated from the women.
3 Q. Did you or other DutchBat soldiers have concerns for the people
4 already on the buses?
5 A. Yes, in two ways. One was, what is going to happen to these
6 people and where they were headed, because it was unclear to us where
7 they would be taken, and in which direction; and B, what would happen to
8 them? We had no idea. We hadn't been told, so we were concerned about
10 Q. Did you or other DutchBat officers do anything about that
12 A. Yes. We tried basically on every bus or truck to place at least
13 one DutchBat serviceman so that we had a clear view and some control over
14 where the refugees were going and what would happen to them. I believe I
15 remember that we succeeded with one of the first buses, but on the next
16 buses and trucks, my people were sent away.
17 Q. Who would send them away?
18 A. The Bosnian Serb servicemen sent them away. They did not agree
19 to DutchBat soldiers accompanying the transport of the refugees.
20 Q. Besides trying to get DutchBat soldiers onto the buses
21 themselves, did you take any other steps?
22 A. Yes. In the end, we tried to accompany the refugees in an
23 orderly as manner as possible to the buses, and we tried to stay near the
24 refugees. When they started to leave the position where the refugees
25 were and started walking along the road past the bus, we tried to escort
1 them because at first they were beaten and kicked by the Bosnian Serb
2 servicemen. The refugees were beaten and kicked, so we tried to stop
3 that by standing in between them and trying to be present in as many
4 places as possible to provide some supervision over how the refugees were
5 being evacuated. It was very tricky because we had very few people on
7 Q. Once buses were loaded up and were either preparing to leave or
8 were leaving, did you take any -- or you -- I'm sorry. Did you or any
9 other DutchBat soldiers take any steps at that point?
10 A. I'm sorry. I don't completely understand that question. Could
11 you please repeat it one more time.
12 Q. Once the buses were filled and about to go or had begun to leave,
13 did you or any other DutchBat soldiers take any steps at that point?
14 A. Yes. The steps we took included reporting that the buses were
15 setting off on the ops room, and by the ops room they tried to escort the
16 evacuation. One or two jeeps tried to escort it, and we then protested
17 and told the local commander of the Bosnian Serb military on site that
18 they had to wait until we were able to escort the convoy of refugees and
19 could be there, but they did not wait.
20 JUDGE MOLOTO: What is an ops room? There's something mentioned
21 in your answer, Mr. Koster. It's page 13, line 6, if you look at your
22 screen. It's typed in there but incomplete.
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Operations room. I mean the
24 operations room, Your Honour. Ops room.
25 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you so much.
1 MR. THOMAS:
2 Q. Just so that we're clear, Colonel, whose jeeps were attempting to
3 escort the buses?
4 A. [In English] The jeeps from DutchBat.
5 Q. And were any of the jeeps able to leave with the buses?
6 A. [Interpretation] Well, the number of jeeps was very limited,
7 including the people who had to drive the jeeps. There were very few of
8 them. As far as I can remember, they tried, but I'm not sure whether
9 they succeeded. I know that they tried to do so with the first convoy,
10 and with the other convoys, the jeeps were stopped.
11 Q. By whom?
12 A. The jeeps were blocked by the Bosnian Serb military who did not
13 agree to the jeeps escorting the buses and trucks.
14 Q. Do you know what happened to the jeeps once they were stopped by
15 the Bosnian Serb soldiers?
16 A. No. All I know is that they were blocked, but I don't know what
17 happened to them.
18 MR. THOMAS: Colonel, thank you. That's all I have for you.
19 Their Honours might have some questions for you, if you would kindly wait
21 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you.
22 Questioned by the Court:
23 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Mr. Koster, I have a couple of
24 questions for you regarding the corpses you saw. You said that you saw
25 eight or nine of them; is that right?
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] That's correct, Your Honour.
2 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Was that before the refugees
3 arrived or once they were already with you?
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The last, Your Honour, that
5 happened when the refugees were at my location.
6 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Were they bodies of soldiers or
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] They were the bodies of civilians,
9 Your Honour.
10 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Do you have any idea of how they
11 were killed, or was it impossible to know that?
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I found these civilians, and they
13 had bullet wounds in their back, so my idea is indeed that they were
15 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Thank you.
16 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much. Any questions arising from
17 the Judge's questions, Mr. Thomas?
18 MR. THOMAS: Your Honour, just one matter by way of clarification
19 in relation to that subject.
20 JUDGE MOLOTO: Yes.
21 MR. THOMAS: The 92 ter package which has been filed does not
22 contain the previous testimony relating to those nine bodies, and that
23 was not a matter canvassed with Colonel Koster in his direct examination,
24 and the reason for that is because it constitutes one of the agreed facts
25 contained in the filed agreed facts on Srebrenica filed before this Trial
1 Chamber. So I just wanted to alert Your Honours to the reason why it
2 doesn't appear in the package. It's a matter which, as far as the
3 parties are concerned, doesn't require any evidence because it is agreed.
4 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much, Mr. Thomas.
5 MR. THOMAS: Thank you, Your Honours.
6 JUDGE MOLOTO: Do you confirm, Mr. Lukic?
7 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, on the part of the
8 Defence, there is still the unsolved problem of the last version of the
9 agreed facts and whether or not they are adjudicated facts. We are still
10 discussing this with the OTP. So that this particular incident is, in
11 our view, an adjudicated fact.
12 JUDGE MOLOTO: In short, in a very short answer, you do not agree
13 with your learned friend that this is an agreed fact? Okay. It's in the
14 hands of the parties, obviously.
15 MR. THOMAS: Your Honour, I wonder if I could be heard on that
17 JUDGE MOLOTO: It is appropriate to be heard on that? Go ahead.
18 MR. THOMAS: There is obviously going to be some difficulty, Your
19 Honour, if my learned friends for the Defence wish to now suggest that
20 the -- what is an agreed fact, a filed agreed fact, is no longer an
21 agreed fact. We have witnesses such as Colonel Koster who are being
22 tendered on the basis that they do not need to testify in relation to
23 such matters because they have been agreed.
24 Now, I know my learned friend is wishing to - and there have been
25 discussions about this - to somehow change the status of these agreed
1 facts to ones of adjudicated facts, but at the moment nothing has been
2 advanced in respect of that matter, and so what we are left with is --
3 are filed agreed facts.
4 JUDGE MOLOTO: Fine. Let me cut you short, Mr. Thomas, and I'll
5 tell you why I want to do that. If there are discussions taking place
6 between the parties about whether or not to change the status of those
7 facts, I want to believe that at this stage it is not the intention of
8 the parties to make the Chamber privy to those discussions, and we would
9 like to stay ignorant of those discussions. At this point, the issue is
10 that Judge Picard asked questions, you gave an explanation why you didn't
11 deal with those questions, and your explanation is that it's because
12 these are agreed facts. Your learned friend says, no, they are not
13 agreed facts. The only way to resolve the issue at this point is to say,
14 here is the filing of the agreed facts. What takes place between the
15 parties in an attempt to change that status is still a private matter
16 between the parties, and we don't want to hear about it.
17 MR. THOMAS: Understood, Your Honour, in which case I simply wish
18 to record that the present position is that these are agreed facts.
19 JUDGE MOLOTO: That's what you say. Your learned friend says
20 something else. We can't take the matter any further at this stage.
21 MR. THOMAS: Except, the record, Your Honour, shows that they are
22 agreed facts. There's a filed joint submission.
23 JUDGE MOLOTO: If you want to refer to that filed submission, by
24 all means, you can do so, either now or at any other time when it's
25 convenient for you.
1 MR. THOMAS: Well, where I was getting to, Your Honour, is that
2 in the event that the status of the agreed facts changes, the Prosecution
3 reserves the right to recall Colonel Koster if the issue, for example, of
4 the nine bodies is going to become contested, because --
5 JUDGE MOLOTO: Fair enough, and I'm sure you'll raise that with
6 your learned friend in your private discussions.
7 MR. THOMAS: Yes, sir.
8 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much.
9 MR. THOMAS: Thank you, Your Honour.
10 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Lukic, do you have any questions to the
11 witness arising from the questions by the Bench?
12 MR. LUKIC: No, Your Honour.
13 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you so much.
14 Mr. Koster, thank you very much. This brings us to the end of
15 your testimony, and we just want to say thank you for coming to testify
16 at the Tribunal. You are now excused. You may stand down, and please
17 travel well back home. I know you don't have far to go. You are home
18 already, but still, it's snowing outside. Travel well.
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
20 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much.
21 [The witness withdrew]
22 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Thomas.
23 MR. THOMAS: With no other witnesses scheduled to give testimony
24 today, Your Honours, that concludes what we can usefully assist you with.
25 I understand from the Registry, however, that there might be some
1 procedural matters that Your Honours wish to raise at the conclusion of
2 Colonel Koster's testimony today, or that was the message that we
3 received earlier in the week.
4 JUDGE MOLOTO: I seem to remember having said that, but at this
5 point in time I must confess, I don't remember what it was that was to be
6 raised. It will be raised in due course when it is remembered. Thank
7 you so much.
8 You want to stand, Mr. Lukic?
9 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] I can only remind Your Honours that
10 the Defence was to state its position on the three questions of the
11 Chamber concerning 98 bis. We have filed a written response, so there is
12 probably no need for us to state our position orally now.
13 JUDGE MOLOTO: The three issues, what are you talking about? Are
14 you talking about site visits, 98 bis, and what have you? Are those the
15 three issues you are talking about? Yes, I guess the Chamber will come
16 back to the parties on that.
17 That being the case, I don't think there's anything else to
18 raise. Then we'll have to adjourn until next week on Tuesday the 9th at
19 quarter past 2.00 in the afternoon, courtroom II. Court adjourned.
20 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 2.58 p.m.
21 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 9th day of
22 December, 2008, at 2.15 p.m.