1 Tuesday, 17 April 2007
2 [Open session]
3 [The witness entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 9.06 a.m.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: Good morning, everybody. Madam Registrar, could you
6 kindly call the case, please.
7 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, this is Case IT-05-88-T, the
8 Prosecutor versus Popovic et al.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, ma'am. All the accused are present. I
10 see Mr. Josse absent, Mr. Bourgon, as he had indicated yesterday and the
11 rest are -- seem to be present, Mr. McCloskey and Mr. Vanderpuye for the
13 All right. Just before we continue, I just wanted to make an
14 announcement. On the 27th of April, we were scheduled to sit in the
15 afternoon. We have succeeded in moving it to the morning, all right? And
16 there is also another day in May where we are trying to do the same but
17 since it's not yet confirmed, I will confirm it in due course. Thank you.
18 Good morning to you, Mr. Ristic.
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good morning.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: And welcome back. I hope you had a good rest.
21 Today we will continue with the cross-examination, with your testimony and
22 hopefully finish.
23 WITNESS: LAZAR RISTIC [Resumed]
24 [Witness answered through interpreter]
25 JUDGE AGIUS: So, Mr. Haynes will take over and Mr. Bourgon will
1 continue after he returns.
2 MR. HAYNES: Yes, I think also Mr. Meek may have a few questions
3 of this witness but other than that, I don't think any of the accused
4 propose to cross-examine.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you.
6 Cross-examination by Mr. Haynes:
7 Q. Good morning, Mr. Ristic.
8 A. Good morning.
9 Q. So that you know who I am, I'm counsel for Vinko Pandurevic and I
10 will be asking questions on his behalf.
11 I hope, if you won't mind, if I begin with a few personal
12 questions. Would you mind telling us how old you are?
13 A. I'm 49.
14 Q. And are you a married man?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Where were you born?
17 A. In the village of Grbavci, near Zvornik.
18 Q. And have you lived there all your life?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Prior to the war, was that a Serbian village?
21 A. The village has about 40 households, Donji Grbavci consists of
22 Serbian households and then around that village there are also Muslim
23 villages or more hamlets. I would rather call them hamlets. And they had
24 mixed population, both Muslim and Serbian.
25 Q. Thank you. I wonder if you could just briefly tell us what
1 military experience you had had before the start of the war in Bosnia in
3 A. I had no military experience whatsoever before the war.
4 Q. Thank you very much. But when the war started, it's right, as you
5 told us yesterday, that you became the platoon commander for the TO in
6 your village, didn't you?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. Were the villages in the area of Bosnia in which you lived
9 defended in precisely the same way at the start of the war, by the
10 formation of TOs from the local population?
11 A. Initially, both Serbian and Muslim population kept guard, each
12 protecting their own village. Later on, in 1992, at the initiative of the
13 Crisis Staff, we organised platoons and companies in villages consisting
14 of men who were fit for military service. They selected commanders for
15 platoons and companies. In my village we had a platoon because it was a
16 small village and I only had 25 men fit for military service when we first
17 went to the positions in June.
18 Q. And were the Serbian defence forces linked in any way at the start
19 of the war or were they, as it were, separated by intervening Muslim
21 A. Initially, these forces operated only in villages and then in June
22 when we went to positions, it was already separate. We had our positions
23 at Parlog. We went to the positions on the 11th of June in the evening
24 and we remained there throughout the entire time.
25 Q. Thank you. And I think as you told us yesterday, throughout the
1 entire time, up until the 15th of July of 1995, you had no combat
2 experience at all, did you?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. I just want briefly to deal with your commanding officer,
5 Pero [Realtime transcript read in error "pf"] Vidakovic. Was he somebody
6 who, prior to the war, had had any experience as a military officer?
7 A. He had no experience whatsoever, just like I didn't.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Haynes, can you repeat his first name, please,
9 again, because it didn't show up in the transcript.
10 MR. HAYNES: Yes. It might be easier if the witness said it
11 because he will get it right and I probably won't.
12 Q. Would you just give us the name of your commanding officer,
13 please, Mr. Ristic?
14 A. Pero Vidakovic.
15 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you.
16 MR. HAYNES:
17 Q. Now, in June of 1992, the Zvornik Brigade was formed, wasn't it?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. And from that time until the arrival of Vinko Pandurevic as its
20 commander it had a number of different commanders, didn't it?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. I think in total five, would that be right?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. And although a brigade was formed, its composition was still the
25 same people who had comprised the TOs prior to that time, the -- in your
1 area, that's right, isn't it?
2 A. Yes. All companies which existed were companies from villages.
3 They were on the positions, and they were there during that period of
4 time, before Pandurevic arrived. People changed, some came, some went,
5 but the essence remained the same.
6 Q. And so the 4th Battalion which covered the area in which you were
7 born and brought up was commanded by a man with no military experience and
8 comprised substantially of non-professional, non-full-time soldiers,
9 that's correct, isn't it?
10 A. Yes. In our battalion, a lot of commanders succeeded each other,
11 Commander Vidakovic was either the 7th or the 8th commander.
12 Q. Thank you very much. And the purpose of the formation of the
13 Zvornik Brigade was to defend the Serbian-occupied territory that had been
14 established by June 1992, wasn't it?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. And in particular, and we'll come to have a look at it in a
17 minute, your battalion, the 4th Battalion, had a defence line which it was
18 responsible for?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Now, I just want to look at, with you, please, the strength of the
21 Zvornik Brigade in terms of numbers and military hardware. And I wonder
22 if to that end, we could have in e-court, please, P00382 at page 2 in the
23 B/C/S and the English, please. In fact, given that it's just a list, we
24 probably only need to look at it in one language so we'll stay with the
25 B/C/S, please.
1 If you look down that list, hold it there, please, you will see
2 the manning strength of the respective battalions of the Zvornik Brigade,
3 and this is a document that's dated the 20th of July of 1995, and if the
4 document could be moved just slightly to the left, you will see,
5 Mr. Ristic, that the numbers of the 4th Battalion are said to be 543.
6 Would that be about right, according to your understanding of the strength
7 of the battalion in July of 1995? I think for the witness the document
8 needs to go a little bit to the left.
9 A. It's most likely an accurate piece of information. Yesterday I
10 said 450 but 543 is probably an accurate figure. It's been a long time so
11 I forgot and I never had the exact data on our strength. There were a lot
12 of people who were listed as members of the battalion but were on sick
13 leave or something like that, but yes, this figure must be correct.
14 Q. And if the document could be just brought up a little bit and to
15 the left, the total number of men available to the Zvornik Brigade, I mean
16 down rather than up, available to the Zvornik Brigade in July of 1995 was
17 5010 according to this document. Would that be about right?
18 A. It's most likely correct. I know that there were about 5.000 but
19 as for the exact figure, yes, this seems like an accurate one.
20 Q. Thank you. And if you could just be patient with us a little bit
21 longer, Mr. Ristic, I'm going to ask you to look at another document and
22 that's P00381, at page 4 in the English, or page 3 in the B/C/S. Again
23 it's a list and it probably doesn't need to be in both languages.
24 Given that it's in B/C/S, I wonder if you could just confirm for
25 us that what we see on this page, and again it's a document from July of
1 1995, is a spreadsheet setting out the weapons available to the
2 Zvornik Brigade. Would you agree with that? Perhaps we could go back up
3 to the top of the page. Mr. Ristic, you agree that that shows us the
4 weaponry available to the Zvornik Brigade?
5 A. Yes, I agree. This was the weaponry. I don't have the exact
6 figures as to the weaponry. This is official information and, yes, we did
7 have these weapons in the brigade.
8 Q. And perhaps it might be an idea so that the English speakers
9 understand it if we now look at it in English so we can see what those
10 weapons were. In the English it's page 4. Thank you very much,
11 Madam Usher.
12 And so, for example, we can see that there were over 2.000
13 semi-automatic rifles available, nearly 2.000 automatic rifles, rocket
14 launchers, anti-aircraft machine-guns, mortars, Howitzers, self-propelled
15 guns, rocket launchers and the like. That was the range of weaponry
16 available to the Zvornik Brigade in July of 1995, wasn't it?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Now, I want to move on. You told us yesterday that on the 1st of
19 July you were present at a meeting at Zvornik Brigade command at which
20 Vinko Pandurevic announced he was taking a force to Srebrenica. Do you
21 recall that?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. And in fact, your battalion contributed some men to that force; is
24 that right?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Were you aware of the size of the force that was taken from the
2 Zvornik Brigade to Srebrenica?
3 A. I can't remember. Maybe it was discussed but I can't remember
4 that information.
5 Q. Well, I'm going to try and jog your memory. Do you recall that it
6 was a battalion plus additional logistical support that was taken to
8 A. That would roughly be the case, the size of a battalion.
9 Q. And a battalion was about 500 men, wasn't it?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. So that we are clear, remaining behind in Zvornik, therefore, were
12 about 4 and a half thousand soldiers plus most of the weaponry that we've
13 seen on the documents we've just been looking at?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. And that was a perfectly adequate force to defend the lines that
16 the Zvornik Brigade was designed to control, wasn't it?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Now, I want to move on from that, please, if I may, and just
19 discuss with you briefly the period of time you spent working as a deputy
20 security commander in the 4th Battalion. Can you just remind us what
21 period it was that you were served as a deputy security commander?
22 A. From March 1993, for roughly two years, probably until May of
23 1995, when I moved to the establishment position of assistant battalion
25 Q. Thank you very much, Mr. Ristic. And just to summarise what you
1 told us yesterday, effectively, there were two areas of your work as a
2 security commander. One was external security, which was, as it were,
3 intelligence about the enemy, and the other was internal security that
4 involved investigations into members of your own forces. Would that be
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. And as part of your work as a deputy security commander, you had
8 regular meetings with the brigade security commander, didn't you?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. I'm not sure you told us this but how regular would they be?
11 Weekly, monthly?
12 A. It was never determined. It was upon invitation by the chief of
13 brigade, but this was not on any regular terms. It was upon invitation.
14 Q. And at these meetings with the brigade security commander, were
15 the security commanders or deputy commanders from the other battalions
16 also present?
17 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Vanderpuye?
18 MR. VANDERPUYE: I'm not sure that --
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
20 MR. VANDERPUYE: I'm not sure that my learned friend is referring
21 accurately to the role of the head of security as a commander. I wondered
22 if we could just clarify that for the record. I believe that he's using
23 it in a colloquial sense in terms of referring to the head of the unit or
24 the organ but I just want the record to be clear as to -- because
25 "commander" has certain military connotations.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Haynes?
2 MR. HAYNES:
3 Q. What was the title of your position in the battalion between March
4 1993 and May of 1995?
5 A. From March 1993 to March 1995, is this what you're referring to?
6 Q. Yes.
7 JUDGE AGIUS: Actually, before he said May 1995.
8 MR. HAYNES: I said May 1995 as well in my question.
9 Q. You were telling me the role you fulfilled as a security officer.
10 I want you to tell me what the title of your office was as you understood
11 it to be.
12 A. Assistant commander for security of the battalion.
13 Q. And who was your direct line superior? And what was his title?
14 A. The battalion commander was the supreme superior in the battalion.
15 Q. Who was your direct superior in terms of the security branch of
16 the battalion?
17 A. There was nobody else in the battalion, which means that my
18 superior in the battalion was my commander, and deputy commander by
19 establishment. They were above me. I received my orders from them and I
20 cooperated with the assistant commander for security in the brigade. The
21 chief of security in the brigade, that is. I was subordinate to my
22 commander and this was my position in the battalion.
23 Q. Thank you very much. And just so we're clear, who was chief of--
24 JUDGE AGIUS: Exactly. All right.
25 MR. HAYNES:
1 Q. Who was chief of security in the brigade?
2 A. Drago Nikolic was the chief of security in the brigade.
3 Q. And was it with him that you held or that you attended regular
4 meetings of security officers?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. And what did you understand Drago Nikolic's title to be?
7 A. Chief of security in the Zvornik Brigade.
8 Q. Thank you very much. Well, now we've made that ten-minute
9 diversion, I hope the Prosecution is satisfied.
10 Now, at these regular meetings, did you discuss matters relating
11 to investigations into members of your own battalion and other soldiers in
12 the brigade?
13 A. I don't know what they did in the brigade when it came to these
14 issues. I know that there were no investigations in the battalion. The
15 security in the organ in the battalion could talk to the soldiers and this
16 is what was done to the soldiers who caused problems or had problems, and
17 then in consultation with the brigade, which had its legal office, they
18 had their legal officers, we asked for their assistance. Our soldiers
19 would receive assistance on this -- these matters from the legal officers
20 and the chief of security, but we are talking minor disciplinary matters
21 only, those were just minor problems, absence from duty or things like
22 that, nothing major.
23 Q. In terms of your line of reporting, when it came to investigations
24 into internal security, to whom would you report?
25 A. Everything that happened in the battalion regarding these matters
1 would be communicated to the commander by the assistant commander for
2 security if it did not concern the commander himself. He knew everything.
3 He had authority to punish a soldier with up to seven days imprisonment if
4 this soldier committed a disciplinary offence.
5 Q. Were you ever a party to investigations that concerned a
7 A. No.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: Sorry for interrupting you like this, Mr. Haynes,
9 but I think we need to make this clear. When on page 10 at lines 11 to
10 14, in response to Mr. Vanderpuye's intervention, you asked the witness to
11 explain exactly his title, his position and title, he described himself as
12 the assistant commander for security. Then very rightly so, when, in
13 lines 22, 23, he said, at least according to the transcript, "I cooperated
14 with the assistant commander for security in the brigade," which would be
15 himself, then there was this clarification that that means the chief of
16 security in the brigade, and he explained to us who that is.
17 Now, if we come back to your last question and his last answer, or
18 the previous -- the penultimate one, he says, "Everything that happened in
19 the battalion regarding these matters would be communicated to the
20 commander by the assistant commander for security, if it did not concern
21 the commander himself." Who would be the assistant commander for security
22 in this case? Would it be himself or would it be what was previously
23 referred to as the chief of security? I'm referring specifically to page
24 12, lines 5 and 6.
25 MR. HAYNES: Yes. I don't know if the witness followed that. I'm
1 going to see if I can ask a couple of questions to clear it up for you.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: I think it needs to be cleared up.
3 MR. HAYNES: Yes, thank you very much.
4 Q. It's a hypothetical situation because you've told us it never
5 occurred in your experience, but if there was an investigation which
6 involved the commander of a battalion, as I understand the position, that
7 would not be communicated to the commander of the battalion. Is that
9 A. That is correct. In case the battalion commander was involved in
10 making certain mistakes that would jeopardise the security of the
11 soldiers, then the assistant commander in the battalion could report to
12 the chief of security in the brigade of what had happened, in which case
13 this person, in agreement with the commander of the brigade or the chief
14 of brigade, would call this person and based on the information that he
15 had received from the assistant commander for security, they would carry
16 out investigation, if this commander had jeopardised the position and the
17 work of the battalion. If -- I -- I wanted to say that I was the
18 assistant commander in the battalion for security. This is something that
19 I might have omitted when I spoke about my title.
20 Q. Now, in a case where the investigation involved a soldier other
21 than the commander, the investigations of the security organ would be
22 communicated to the battalion commander; is that right?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. And who would communicate the result of your investigations to the
25 battalion commander? Would that be you or would that be a brigade officer
1 for security?
2 A. Assistant commander of battalion for security would be the first
3 to report to his commander about those events because this concerned a
4 soldier from our battalion and if we were not able to resolve the issue
5 and deal with the problem, then we would go to the brigade.
6 Q. Thank you. I hope that's cleared it up. If it hasn't, I'll
7 accept any guidance as to where I can go from here but other than that,
8 I'm going to leave it.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: I think you can proceed. It's clear enough. But in
10 order to help us, since you were an assistant commander for security in
11 the battalion, and it seems to have been also an assistant commander for
12 security in the brigade, try to keep that distinction in mind as you
13 proceed so that responsibilities are kept distinct and clear. All right?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] In the brigade, the title was chief
15 of security, and in the battalion, it was the assistant commander for
16 security. This is the difference. In the brigade, the chief was
17 subordinated to the brigade commander, and the case was the same in the
18 battalion. That was the rule.
19 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. That's very clear now. Mr. Haynes,
20 again my apologies for the interruption but --
21 MR. HAYNES: I think it was quite justified, Your Honour. There
22 were a lot of confusing terms flying around at the moment.
23 Q. I want to move on now and deal with your role as deputy commander
24 of the battalion, if I may. You dealt with this a lot yesterday so I'm
25 not going to go over the same ground but I want to just ask you how it was
1 that you received orders as a deputy commander.
2 A. You mean from the brigade? From the brigade command?
3 Q. Well, that's a separate question I'm going to move on to, from
4 whom you could receive orders. I'm really asking the medium by which you
5 received orders. Did you receive orders in writing?
6 A. I said it yesterday. The orders that came from the brigade
7 arrived either directly via the telephone, looking for somebody from the
8 command, if the commander was there they would be looking for him first.
9 But a lot of the orders also came through the communications officers who
10 received the order from their counterparts in the brigade and then they
11 would forward the order to the -- to a member of the command, the
12 commander himself or any other member of the command who was there.
13 Q. Thank you. Now, that's how you would receive orders from the
14 brigade. Was there any other source from which you could receive orders
15 as a battalion commander or deputy commander?
16 A. I received orders from the battalion commander, and I also
17 received orders when he wasn't there, when he was absent, I received
18 orders from the brigade command.
19 Q. Was it possible that you would receive orders from a superior
20 officer at corps, at the corps command?
21 A. It was possible, probably, but I did not have an opportunity to
22 receive any such order.
23 Q. And going back to what we were discussing earlier, as a security
24 commander, could you receive orders from somebody other than, as it were,
25 your battalion commander?
1 A. I did not have an opportunity to receive orders from anybody else.
2 I never received orders from the security organs in the brigade. We had
3 meetings. That's how we worked. I don't remember ever having received an
4 order or ever having a possibility to receive an order.
5 Q. Receiving orders from the brigade would necessarily have involved
6 you receiving orders from Vinko Pandurevic; is that right?
7 A. When Vinko Pandurevic was in the brigade, he would issue orders to
8 us. If he was absent, there was a chief who was responsible, who would
9 issue orders, and there were also others but in any case, the work in the
10 battalion boiled down to the work with the duty officer, if the commander,
11 the chief, were absent. We had received communication about all events
12 through the duty officer in the brigade.
13 Q. In terms of the orders you received from Vinko Pandurevic, did you
14 ever receive from him an order to do anything illegal or criminal?
15 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Vanderpuye?
16 MR. VANDERPUYE: I think there is perhaps some confusion with
17 respect to the capacity in which these orders were or might have been
18 received from the brigade commander. The witness has testified in terms
19 of his occupation in three capacities, one was as the assistant commander
20 for security within the battalion, the other was as the deputy commander
21 of the battalion, and finally he had testified in terms of standing in for
22 the commander of the battalion. It's not clear in the context of the
23 question in which capacity the witness would have or could have received
24 these orders from the brigade commander and the distinction between those
25 capacities has certain implications in terms of the authority or the
1 command authority of the position which is being referred to and the
2 possibility to receive orders directly from the brigade command. So I
3 just wondered if my colleague could be more precise in framing the
5 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Haynes?
6 MR. HAYNES: I can't even begin to understand what that objection
7 is. I'm going to move on and Mr. Vanderpuye can tidy it up in
8 re-examination if he can make what he's saying clear to the witness.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: I think that's fair enough because basically if you
10 cut it down into pieces what he's been saying in these last -- he's
11 explaining that he did not receive orders from this one or that one or --
12 and he points to Vinko Pandurevic as the one he would receive orders from
13 when he was there. Otherwise, from the duty officer, et cetera, et cetera
14 so I think it's clear enough for the time being anyway. Mr. Haynes?
15 MR. HAYNES:
16 Q. The last question I asked you was whether Vinko Pandurevic had
17 ever issued you with a command to do anything criminal or illegal. Could
18 you answer that, please?
19 A. He never issued any such order to me. All his orders were in
20 military terms based on the defence of the territory and the area of
21 responsibility that we were responsible for.
22 Q. And were his orders logical and straightforward to carry out?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Did you ever refuse to carry out any order that Vinko Pandurevic
1 A. No.
2 Q. Did you ever, as it were, yourself, decide not to or to stop
3 carrying out an order that he had issued to you?
4 A. No, but it all depended on the situation. On what was going on at
5 any given moment. Sometimes we had to make independent decisions in the
6 battalion. It depended on the situation. If we had not received any
7 explanation from the brigade, if the commander was not there, we had to
8 deal with the issues very fast, but this was in the case of an attack or
9 defence and the work in the battalion. In other words, we could do things
10 unbeknownst to the commander but then we had to subsequently report to the
11 commander as to what had happened while he was absent.
12 Q. Thank you. Well, you've really pre-empted my next question which
13 was when you received orders from the brigade command you had, didn't you,
14 an obligation to report on performance of those orders?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. I want to move on now, please, to the battalion's area of defence
17 and I'd like you please to have a look at a map which is our 3D94 in
18 e-court. Now, can you see that, Mr. Ristic?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. And can you read the names of the towns and villages upon it?
21 A. I can.
22 Q. I think we are going to have to go back to the map in its original
23 form so that we can see everything on it. I'm going to ask now that the
24 usher please gives you probably pens in two different colours, if that's
25 possible. Now, taking one of those pens and I don't care which colour it
1 is, I'd like you if you would to mark the position of the defence line of
2 the 4th Battalion in July of 1995.
3 A. [Marks]
4 Q. Have you finished?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. And I'd like you now, if you would, please, to mark the position
7 of the forward command post, the EKM [sic].
8 A. Of the battalion?
9 Q. Yes, please.
10 A. [Marks] It was in the middle of the zone of responsibility, of the
11 area of responsibility.
12 Q. And would you mark, please, the depth, as it were, of the defence
13 zone which I believe is Planinci village?
14 A. [Marks] I can't remember of the order by the battalion commander.
15 It is well defined in depth of the territory but I've forgotten that.
16 Q. Okay. Thank you very much. I'd like you now, if you would, to
17 take up the other coloured pen and put some other markings on this map for
19 JUDGE AGIUS: Let's identify the ones that he has marked already.
20 MR. HAYNES: Yes.
21 JUDGE AGIUS: First --
22 MR. HAYNES:
23 Q. Would you put next to the line, "Defence line"?
24 JUDGE AGIUS: What would you like him to put?
25 MR. HAYNES: DL, I think.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. DL, please.
2 THE WITNESS: [Marks]
3 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. Thank you. Next is the EKM.
4 MR. HAYNES:
5 Q. And would you put EKM next to where you've marked the forward
6 command post?
7 A. [Marks]
8 Q. And one more thing I'd like you to mark on there, if you would.
9 Would you mark the position of the units for the rear and the support?
10 A. I will first mark the command post that was in Rebici.
11 JUDGE AGIUS: Could you put CP against that mark, please?
12 THE WITNESS: [Marks]
13 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. And then the rear -- units for the rear and
14 support, Planinci, you could put RS.
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The unit for logistical support for
16 the battalion was near the command.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: We are talking of the rear now. When you put that
18 marking near Planinci, what were you referring to, between Planinci and
19 Orahovac. What's that supposed to indicate?
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The area in depth of territory, in
21 case of an attack, the soldiers from the front end were supposed to
22 withdraw into this sector. That's what I was referring to, because that
23 was in the order of the battalion commander. It was specified what was
24 the reserve positions if the line had to be pulled back, the defence line.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: So how shall we mark that, DT? D for delta, T for
2 THE WITNESS: [Marks]
3 JUDGE AGIUS: And would you put a special marking for what
4 Mr. Haynes has indicated units for the rear and for the support?
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] [Marks] LP for logistical support.
6 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. Does that satisfy you, Mr. Haynes?
7 MR. HAYNES: It does, Your Honour, thank you very much.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: So you can move to other markings.
9 MR. HAYNES:
10 Q. Before we do I just want to clear up the position. The
11 4th Battalion had an area of responsibility or an area of defence that
12 covered the defence line, the command post, the forward command post, and
13 the areas around the markings you've made in the top left-hand corner of
14 the map, that's correct, isn't it?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. And the marking you've made above Planinci is a notional line to
17 which you were to withdraw in the event you had to abandon the defence
18 lines, that's right, isn't it?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. And just to be absolutely clear, Orahovac was not within your area
21 of defence at all, was it?
22 A. It was not.
23 Q. Now, I'd like you to take up a pen of a different colour now, if
24 you could. Have you got a different coloured pen? And I'd like you to
25 mark for me now three things. Firstly, I'd like you to mark the line
1 which the column of Muslims took moving towards you from the rear of your
2 defence line.
3 A. [Marks]
4 Q. Thank you. And would you just put a C by the side of that blue
6 A. Which letter?
7 Q. C for Charlie and for column, thank you.
8 A. [Marks]
9 Q. And I'd like you now to mark, again in blue, if you would, firstly
10 the position where you saw the flag that you referred to yesterday, and
11 secondly the position where you saw the fire that you referred to
12 yesterday. And it might be useful if you drew a flag and perhaps for the
13 fire drew an asterisk or a star.
14 A. [Marks]
15 Q. Thank you very much, indeed. I'm just going to ask you a couple
16 more questions on the map before I get you to initial it and we preserve
18 From Zvornik to the forward command post of the brigade, there are
19 a number of ways of travelling. That's correct, isn't it?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. One way would be to take the road which runs from east to west
22 across the bottom of the plan, which is the road to Crni Vrh?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. And then you would travel north past Orahovac and get to the
25 forward command post of the brigade at Delici?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Certainly one other way of going to Delici from the command at
3 Karakaj would be to travel up over Jardan which we see to the extreme east
4 of the plan. Do you agree with that?
5 A. This other road that leads to Delici, without going via Orahovac,
6 is via Jardan, Cirjak [phon] -- Jardan, Ciraci, Kitovnice, Delici.
7 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Haynes, don't you think it would be very useful
8 if the witness delineates for us, indicates on the map, the two routes?
9 And perhaps just for confirming that at least I'm right in my mind, these
10 are the two roads or routes that Mr. Sarapa wanted us to see and we saw
11 during the site visit; is that correct?
12 MR. HAYNES: Yes, Your Honour. I was merely trying to put into
13 the transcript that which I know you've experienced.
14 JUDGE AGIUS: I think it would be extremely useful for everyone if
15 the witness indicates on the map the two different routes or routes as
16 some of you would say it.
17 MR. HAYNES: Your Honour, I'm always open to helpful suggestions
18 and if the witness has understood those exchanges, perhaps he could do
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Also because on the map some of the names that he's
21 mentioned do not show up. So it will -- or at least I'm not seeing them
22 so --
23 MR. HAYNES: Thank you.
24 Q. Would you first, therefore, I don't know if we can come up with a
25 third coloured pen. We can, thank you. When you've been given a third
1 coloured pen, would you just show in perhaps dotted lines the route from
2 Zvornik to Delici using the road to Crni Vrh?
3 A. [Marks]
4 Q. Thank you. And is what you've drawn there the route going over
6 A. This is the road going via Orahovac. Orahovac, Kitovnice, Delici.
7 Q. Would you now draw the route going over Jardan?
8 JUDGE AGIUS: If we could use another colour then -- no. So I
9 think he can use red.
10 MR. HAYNES: Or he could use dots or arrows or something.
11 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes.
12 THE WITNESS: [Marks]
13 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. And to be precise, and we were on site,
14 Mr. Sarapa, the intersection that you indicated to us is the intersection
15 between -- from direction of Orahovac to Hodzici. Would that be correct?
16 In other words, that arrow which is at 9.00 in respect of Hodzici? All
17 right. Okay.
18 MR. HAYNES: Mr. Sarapa confirms that. I'm sure we can deal with
19 that in another way.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Just to have it clear this my mind, okay. Thank
22 MR. HAYNES:
23 Q. Thank you, Witness. Now we are going to preserve this which is
24 going to involve you placing some initials on that page. I would suggest
25 in the bottom left-hand corner, since it's the least cluttered area, and
1 it doesn't matter what colour you do that in and would you place the date
2 on it as well?
3 A. [Marks]
4 Q. Thank you very much. And could that now be preserved?
6 Now, I want to just conclude this topic. Your understanding of
7 the position is this, isn't it, that the battalion had, under military
8 rules, a zone of defence for which it was responsible?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. And do you understand that in military terminology, the difference
11 between a zone and a region is the number of points which define it?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. And that the area which the battalion was responsible for was
14 defined by three points: Its left, its right and its rear?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. And those are the three points that you have marked on this map
17 for us; the left and the right of the defence line and the rear where the
18 rear services were?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. And that was the area or the "rejon," the word is in B/C/S, for
21 which the 4th Battalion was responsible?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Now --
24 JUDGE KWON: Mr. Haynes, sorry to interrupt you but I don't think
25 I did follow, or I followed in full, the difference between the zone and
2 MR. HAYNES: Yes.
3 JUDGE KWON: Could you clarify it with the witness.
4 MR. HAYNES: It's my mistake because I used the wrong term and I
5 will clarify it.
6 Q. A battalion has an area or a rejon of defence, doesn't it?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. And a rejon or an area is defined by three points?
9 A. I'm not a military man, so it's a bit difficult for me to explain
11 Q. Well, the proposition I'm next going to put to you is that the
12 smallest unit of an army which has a zone for which it is responsible is a
13 brigade, and a zone is defined by four points. Do you understand or know
14 about that?
15 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Vanderpuye?
16 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. I do object to my
17 learned friend's question. I don't think that he's laid a sufficient
18 foundation as a basis of knowledge to put the question to the witness,
19 particularly given the most recent response of the witness indicating he's
20 not a military man. It's difficult for him to explain these concepts.
21 MR. HAYNES: I was only trying to answer the query of Judge Kwon
22 as to what case I was putting, if I'm going to be stopped from doing that
23 then --
24 JUDGE AGIUS: Go ahead, Mr. Haynes, if he can answer the question,
25 he will answer it. If he doesn't, then he can assist us by indicating on
1 the map the battalion's area of responsibility and the brigade's area of
3 MR. HAYNES: Yes.
4 Q. Do you understand that a brigade has a zone for which it is
5 responsible, which is defined by four points or do you not understand
7 A. I understand the notion of the area of responsibility of a
8 brigade. I know the parts of the area of responsibility. However, to
9 mark that on a map, the area of responsibility of a brigade, I couldn't do
10 that. I could only do it for my battalion because otherwise I might make
11 a mistake. I didn't really tour the entire area of responsibility.
12 Q. Thank you. I'm going to finish this topic, just by asking you
13 this: Do you understand that a battalion has a rejon for which it is
14 responsible and a brigade has a zone for which it is responsible and that
15 those are two different concepts?
16 A. The brigade had an area of responsibility that was the front end
17 of the defence of the brigade, and the battalion had an area of
18 responsibility, the front end. All battalions had their headquarters and
19 logistical support and so did the brigade, and that was the area of
20 responsibility, the front end of defence, both in the case of the
21 battalion and the brigade.
22 Q. Thank you. I'm going to leave it there. This is something we can
23 take up with other witnesses.
24 Now, one last thing on this topic, although, as you've told us,
25 Orahovac was not within your rejon, region of defence responsibility, a
1 number of your men lived and had families that were in Orahovac in July of
2 1995, didn't they?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. And those men became concerned when they heard stories about large
5 numbers of Muslims in the villages, in the village where their families
6 lived, didn't they?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. And their concern, and the threat that that created that they
9 might abandon their positions, created a military burden for you, didn't
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. It jeopardised your ability to maintain your defence line facing
13 the 2nd Corps of the Bosnian army?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Thank you. Now, I'm going to deal with one more topic and then
16 you'll be glad to hear, Mr. Ristic, I think we will be able to have a
18 Can we be clear? Whatever Gojko Simic may or may not have done on
19 the 14th of July, he didn't do it pursuant to any order given by you, did
21 A. At that time, he was not in the battalion. He was on leave, at
22 home. And he had no tasks issued to him by the battalion command.
23 Q. Thank you very much. You had two names put to you yesterday. Do
24 you remember, the names Vojo and Risto? Did you recognise the names that
25 were put to you?
1 A. Roughly, yes, if this pertains to the two men from that village.
2 I would say that's correct, if they were members from Orahovac.
3 Q. And so far as you are aware, were either Vojo or Risto on duty on
4 the 14th of July of 1995?
5 A. I can't be expected to know the duties or the post of each soldier
6 in the battalion. The line of defence of the battalion consisted of two
7 or three various sectors, and I don't know the exact tasks of each member
8 of the battalion. However, these people were members of the 2nd Company
9 of the 4th Battalion, together with other people from Orahovac.
10 Q. I mean, are you aware whether they were people who were on leave
11 similar to that of Gojko Simic?
12 A. I'm not sure. Who else was on leave in addition to Gojko Simic?
13 There were nine of them. I know for a fact about Gojko Simic being on
14 leave because I attended the party at his house. He is a relative of my
15 wife so I attended the party. That's why I know that he was on leave. As
16 for the other people, I don't know their names because the figure that I
17 gave you pertained to the entire battalion, people from the entire
18 battalion who were on leave.
19 Q. Thank you. But so that we are clear, if it were suggested that
20 those two men, Vojo and Risto, were engaged in illegal or criminal acts on
21 the 14th of July, did you order them to do that?
22 A. I didn't order them to do that, nor did I hear later that they
23 participated in these acts. I definitely did not order them to do that.
24 They had their tasks within the battalion. Now as to exact position where
25 each soldier of the battalion was, I wasn't able to monitor all that.
1 Q. Thank you, Mr. Ristic. I've concluded that topic and that
2 probably takes us to our break.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: Before we go to we have the break, yesterday, you
4 couldn't remember with precision the date of Gojko Simic's death. Do you
5 think you can remember it today? When did he die or when was he killed?
6 MR. HAYNES: Can I help with that after the break? I propose to
7 put his death certificate into evidence.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. So we'll have a 25-minute break. Thank you.
9 --- Recess taken at 10.31 a.m.
10 --- On resuming at 11.00 a.m.
11 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Haynes.
12 MR. HAYNES: Thank you, Mr. President.
13 Q. Mr. Ristic, I'm going to do my best to conclude my questions for
14 you in the next half an hour or 45 minutes. And I know it's tiring for
15 you but, please, listen carefully and answer truthfully and as accurately
16 as you can the remaining questions.
17 Just to complete an inquiry made by His Honour, I wonder whether
18 we could have put into e-court P00348 and while we are waiting for that,
19 do you recall that you in fact signed the death certificate for
20 Gojko Simic?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. And when it appears, you'll be able to help us as to the date on
23 which you did that. I think we can already see that Gojko Simic died on
24 the 16th of July 1995, didn't he?
25 A. Yes. He died on the 16th of July 1995. This is when he was found
1 dead, but the fighting started on the 15th in the evening until the 16th
2 in the afternoon. But he was actually found on the 17th of July when the
3 line had been established. On the 17th we located all the fallen soldiers
4 and Gojko Simic was among them. Most probably he got killed on the 16th
5 as it is indicated in this document.
6 Q. Thank you. I'm going to come back later on to the question of
7 members of your battalion who died but we'll leave that there. I want to
8 move on now to the question of the column and I want to start by asking
9 you some questions about the 14th of July?
10 JUDGE AGIUS: One moment, Mr. Haynes, the reason why I had asked
11 him whether he could today perhaps remember the exact date of
12 Gojko Simic's death or killing was because at least on the 14th of July,
13 according to his evidence, Gojko Simic was on break -- was on leave at
14 home. What I want to know is whether, on the day that he was killed, that
15 is apparently two days later, the 16th of July, he was still on leave or
16 whether he had resumed his duties in the battalion. That was the reason
17 why I had put the question.
18 MR. HAYNES: I'm very sorry and I'm sure that the witness
19 understands the question you wish to be answered and can deal with it
20 without any further intervention from me.
21 Q. Mr. Ristic, can you answer that question?
22 A. Yes. These soldiers were on leave from the 15th -- from the 1st
23 to the 15th. On the 14th, they sent their sons off to the army and on the
24 15th they were supposed to be back to their companies and to report to the
25 company commanders. On the 15th, the attack on the command started on the
1 front lines of the defence. This was very early in the morning. Around
2 9.00 in the morning, certain men arrived at the command because the road
3 which leaded to the companies passed by the command and they could not
4 proceed because of the shelling. It so happened that some of them
5 remained there. Some of them did rejoin their companies, but the fact of
6 the matter was that on the 15th, they were supposed to report to their
7 company commanders. I suppose that Gojko did arrive on the 15th but he
8 could not rejoin his company because of the fighting and that's why he
9 stayed with the command and that's where he got killed, on the following
11 Q. Thank you. Now, on the 14th of July, the position was this,
12 wasn't it? You were in command of the 4th Battalion because your
13 commander was absent?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Your brigade commander, Vinko Pandurevic, was also absent, to your
16 knowledge, wasn't he?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. And throughout the 14th of July, as I understand your evidence,
19 you were virtually out of contact with Dragan Obrenovic, the Chief of
20 Staff who was then commander of the Zvornik Brigade?
21 A. I was not in contact with him.
22 Q. And not to put too fine a point on it, this was -- you were facing
23 what was potentially your first combat activity, weren't you?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Did you feel you'd been abandoned by Dragan Obrenovic in a very
1 difficult situation?
2 A. You mean on the 14th? The 14th of July?
3 Q. Yes, on the 14th.
4 A. I did not think that he had abandoned me, that he had left me out
5 in the cold. I thought that he had other things to do, that he had to
6 intercept the column or escort a column. However, I had not received any
7 explanation of the situation as it was on the 14th. We didn't know what
8 this was all about. We didn't know what the situation was. But we were
9 not even interested in that in the battalion. The situation was what it
10 was. The battalion was at risk and the brigade command and the commanders
11 should have helped us, should have been there. I believe that he had his
12 duties, his tasks, for the day, and there was no need for him to think
13 about my battalion since they had not crossed Crni Vrh yet.
14 Q. Thank you. The phrase you used yesterday was that on the 14th of
15 July, you believed that the battalion was in grave danger. That's
16 correct, isn't it?
17 A. Yes. But it was only in the evening, on the 14th of July, when I
18 had received information that they were crossing Crni Vrh and that
19 Major Obrenovic could not stop them or return them, and that evening we
20 had received information that they were crossing Krizevacke Njive,
21 Baljkovica on their way to Nezuk. Obviously that evening, the situation
22 was alarming for us and we had to do something. And it was on that
23 evening that Major Obrenovic did not communicate to us directly. We
24 received information through the duty operations officer.
25 Q. Yes. Thank you very much. I wonder whether therefore you could
1 just quickly look at 7D159 to confirm that this is the information you
2 received. And can you see between 1913 hours and 2000 hours, there is a
3 reference here in the duty officer's notebook of the Zvornik Brigade to a
4 communication from Premijer?
5 A. It says that the telegram was sent at 1930 but it doesn't say who
6 it was sent to.
7 Q. I think you need to look a little lower than that. There is an
8 entry in the notebook beginning with the word "premijer". It may well be
9 that you need the page moved across a little bit to the left. In the
10 English it reads, "Inform the corps that huge columns are coming in our
11 direction, 2000 hours." And then there is a reference to the 4th Brigade,
12 tank firing from Boreslinovac [phoen]. Is that the information that you
13 received on the evening of the 14th of July?
14 A. No. That is a different piece of information.
15 Q. Very well. Well, I'm not going to go into that any further. The
16 fact of the matter is that on the 14th of July, your battalion was not
17 involved in any combat activity at all, was it?
18 A. That's correct.
19 Q. And that the first combat activity occurred at 4.30 in the morning
20 on the 15th of July?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. And that took the form of a heavy artillery attack on your front
23 from the 2nd Corps of the BiH army?
24 A. The infantry attack was launched on the link between the 4th and
25 the 6th Battalions and they opened artillery fire on the battalion
2 Q. And did that attack last for about an hour?
3 A. The attack started that morning and lasted with some interruptions
4 throughout the entire day and throughout the next day, up to the noon of
5 the following day, up to 12.00 approximately.
6 Q. I'd like you please now to look at another entry in the duty
7 officer's notebook. It's 7D166. And it's a report from you at 1.30 on
8 the afternoon of the 15th of July. It's already there in the B/C/S. You
9 are referred to as Lazo. That's a name you're known by, isn't it?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. At 1.30 on the 15th of July, you had already endured a heavy
12 attack from -- on your front, both artillery and infantry; is that
14 A. Yes. We had two fallen soldiers and several wounded, up to 1330
15 or 1400 hours, and up to the moment when Major Obrenovic arrived, that is.
16 Q. But at 1.30 you were able to report that everything was okay at
17 your end. Is that a correct assessment of the situation?
18 A. This probably meant that the line was stable. This was recorded
19 very shortly and this meant that the line was stable more or less. This
20 is what it meant.
21 Q. Thank you very much indeed. At about that time, 1.30, were you
22 aware that Vinko Pandurevic was back at command in Zvornik?
23 A. No, I wasn't aware of that.
24 Q. When did you first become aware on the 15th of July that
25 Vinko Pandurevic was back in command of the Zvornik Brigade?
1 A. When I spoke on the 15th of July, sometime late in the afternoon,
2 when I spoke to my commander, the commander of the mortar platoon,
3 Commander Pandurevic called us from the forward command post, he told me
4 that he had arrived, and that he had sent my intervention platoon to
5 assist me via the 7th Battalion to the Gavrici sector and that another
6 platoon had arrived with them. They were known as the Wolves from the
7 Drina. This -- that was the first time he ever contacted me on that day
8 and that's when I knew that he had arrived.
9 Q. Thank you very much. Can you help us as to about what time that
11 A. I can't be sure of the time because I did not consult my watch but
12 I believe that it was late in the afternoon. It was already dusk and the
13 commander of the mortar platoon asked to be allowed to change the
14 position. He did not feel safe because the 3rd Platoon of the Infantry
15 Battalion on the previous day had left that position and when
16 Commander Pandurevic contacted me, he told me that he would help deal with
17 that part of the issue and that's when I learned that the military police
18 had arrived to assist with providing security to the mortar platoon.
19 Q. Thank you, Mr. Ristic. You've led me nicely to the next question
20 I want to ask you, which is about the reinforcements which were sent to
21 help you on the 15th and going into the 16th of July. And I wonder if I
22 put them to you whether you could simply say whether you agree that these
23 reinforcements arrived or not. Two platoons arrived from the
24 Bratunac Brigade, didn't they?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. There were some units which arrived from the 2nd Battalion of the
2 Zvornik Brigade to reinforce you, weren't there?
3 A. They arrived when Major Obrenovic arrived. One platoon of the
4 2nd Infantry Battalion arrived and Major Obrenovic deployed them above the
5 command in the direction of Potocari, and he told me that one company or
6 two platoons were from Bratunac and he also deployed them in that sector
7 above the command in the direction of Potocari.
8 Q. I think you've just referred to this. There were some units from
9 the Drina Wolves which arrived to reinforce you as well, weren't there?
10 A. When their commander arrived, together with Obrenovic, he brought
11 several of his troops, I don't know whether they were just his escorts or
12 what, and one platoon that I did not see but the commander told me,
13 Pandurevic told me, that they had arrived together with our intervention
14 platoon and that they were deployed on our defence line in the area of
16 Q. And lastly another unit you've referred to a platoon of MUP
17 policemen arrived to reinforce your forces, didn't they?
18 A. On the 15th, two commanders arrived in the command. They were
19 police commanders and they were with us. And that police was civilian
20 police. They were somewhere on the link between the 4th and 6th
21 Battalions. This is where I found them when we were leaving our command
22 post on the 16th. There were some other men up there on Parlog. I don't
23 know how many of them. There were a lot of them. They were sitting there
24 and probably waiting for some order to arrive. They were sitting in
25 groups of tents on the road leading from Parlog to Delic.
1 Q. Thank you. Now, during the afternoon of the 15th of July, were
2 you aware that Vinko Pandurevic was in radio communication with a
3 commander of Muslim forces named Semso Muminovic?
4 A. I don't remember having heard that on the 15th but on the 16th I
5 am sure that I heard a conversation between our commander, Pandurevic, and
6 Semso Muminovic about a cease-fire and about the column to be let through.
7 I don't remember having heard any such thing on the 15th.
8 Q. Were you able to monitor the conversations between them in the
9 sense that were you receiving reports of them through your signalman or
10 were you able to hear them yourself?
11 A. The signalman could not follow anything like that but we heard it
12 over the Motorola that was in the possession of the commander of the Drina
14 Q. Thank you very much. I'm just going to see if I can help you with
15 your memory by asking you to look at a document. It's in e-court. It's
16 P02232, in English, page 13 and P002231, B/C/S page 17.
17 Could the English page be moved to page 13, please? It's on page
18 1 at the moment.
19 Now, Mr. Ristic, if nobody minds I'm going to explain to you what
20 this document is because I don't expect you've ever seen it before. This
21 is a book or a page from a book in which opposition forces intelligence
22 recorded radio communications between your soldiers, and I want you to
23 look, please, for an entry which is about one-third of the way down in the
24 B/C/S, which begins, "Vuk, Lovac," can you see that, "Vuk, Lovac, 1330
25 hours." And it then says, "I talked to Semso (Zuko) and he wants to
1 negotiate, he wants me to give him the frequency of the Turk who is
2 leading the group."
3 Can you see that?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. And can you read down the next entry, "Vuk spoke to Zuko again and
6 agreed the cease-fire under the pretense that they would negotiate later.
7 Then he fired one more round, one for one."
8 Now, according to the Muslim radio operators who were monitoring
9 your conversations, those were conversations that took place on the 15th
10 of July at about half past 1.00 and again at about quarter to 2.00 in the
11 afternoon. Were you aware of communications between your side and
12 Semso Muminovic at about half past 1.00 or quarter to 2.00 in the
13 afternoon of the 15th of July?
14 A. No, I wasn't aware.
15 Q. I'm going to show you another document now, please, if I may, as
16 to the question of a cease-fire on the 15th of July. And it's 7D363, and
17 I'll need page 3 in the B/C/S, please. This document at the moment only
18 has an unrevised translation so I'm not going to put that on to the
19 screen. I'm going to get the witness to read the document in B/C/S.
20 Now, on the screen at the moment, about one, two, three, four,
21 five, six lines up from the bottom, can you count them, Mr. Ristic? Now
22 we've moved it. It's now -- can you see the sentence that
23 begins, "Zavrijeni" [phoen]? Let me take it another way. There is a word
24 there that's marked with a little square bracket. Can you see that,
25 "dalasko" [phoen]?
1 A. Yes, I can see that.
2 Q. Can you count about six lines down from there, please?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. And there is a sentence that begins, "zavrijeni" [phoen]? Can you
5 see that?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Now, I wonder whether we could revert to the previous form because
8 we've lost some of the line there. Right. Now I'm going to ask you to do
9 us all a big favour now, Mr. Ristic. Would you read out loud the
10 remainder of the paragraph beginning "zavrijeni" [phoen] but read it quite
11 slowly so that the translators can translate it for us all.
12 A. "During the time spent at the positions at Crni Vrh, I observed
13 movement and regrouping of a number of Muslim units, and I think that it
14 involved several hundred of their soldiers who were in front of our line,
15 but our orders were not to open fire on them. Thus, I suppose that this
16 part was left as a passage for those units, in the direction of Tuzla, and
17 that it was the initiative of the command of the VRS, to Tuzla or, rather,
18 to the territory under the control of Muslim forces." Should I read on?
19 Q. No. That's fine. Just to place this into context for you, this
20 is a witness statement of a man called Predrag Ilic who was one of the
21 soldiers who was sent from Bratunac to help reinforce your lines. Do you
22 recall yourself giving him any orders not to fire on Muslim forces in the
23 column near Crni Vrh?
24 A. I didn't give any orders to them whatsoever.
25 Q. Who would have had the authority to give orders to those platoons
1 from Bratunac?
2 A. They were brought by Major Obrenovic, and he issued order to them,
3 but as far as I know they spent one night there and then most likely
4 during the night they abandoned the positions. Now as to whether somebody
5 ordered them to do that or they did it on their own, I don't know, and
6 they went in the direction of Orahovac.
7 Q. Thank you. Just to complete this, at about 2.00 on the afternoon
8 of the 15th of July, do I understand it that you were not aware of a
9 proposed cease-fire?
10 A. I was not aware of a proposed cease-fire. However, on the 16th,
11 sometime around 10 or 11.00 most likely, I know this because after about
12 an hour, we had to leave the command post, a man surrendered to us, he was
13 from one of the brigades in Srebrenica.
14 Q. Thank you. I don't mean to interrupt you but I'm going to come on
15 to the 16th in a little while. I want to stay, if I can, for the moment
16 on the 15th and I'd like you now --
17 JUDGE AGIUS: One moment, just before you do so, just for the
18 record, in page -- on page 37, lines 16 -- 17, sorry and 19, we have
19 Potocari there. We obviously mean to have Potocani. That's just for the
21 MR. HAYNES:
22 Q. When you said Potocari or Potocani you're talking about the
23 village that's not far away from Baljkovica, aren't you?
24 A. I saw it on the map, it's a village called Potocani. It's a
25 Muslim village near Baljkovica.
1 Q. Thank you, Mr. Ristic.
2 I'd like you now, please, to have a look at 7D167. It's another
3 page from the duty officer's notebook of the Zvornik Brigade.
4 I wonder whether the B/C/S version could just be inched a little
5 bit to the left so Mr. Ristic can read it.
6 Could you read to yourself the large paragraph in the middle of
7 that page, about the large group of armed and unarmed Turks?
8 A. I've read it.
9 Q. Thank you. What I'm going to suggest to you, I want you to think
10 about, that on the 15th of July, and that is a note from the 15th of July,
11 the column at your rear, itself, was isolated and powerless. Do you agree
12 with that?
13 A. Which column do you have in mind? What did you have in mind
15 Q. I have in mind the column that had come from Srebrenica, the
16 people who are referred to as the large group of armed and unarmed Turks?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. And do you agree that you were able at that stage to monitor their
19 communications with the 2nd Corps who were in Nezuk at your front?
20 A. Their arrival into the sector of Potocani, on the 15th, is
21 something that we observed. We followed the situation, what we could see,
22 and everything that had to do with the defence, and these activities, was
23 done by Major Obrenovic, myself, and we were assisted by Captain Legenda.
24 That was, roughly speaking, the defence of the command post, between our
25 command and Potocani, we had the trenches that were dug out where our
1 lines used to be earlier. Once they entered these trenches, they became a
2 serious risk to the command post. They were assisted by the artillery
3 support and they attacked the front end of defence in the area where we
4 were supposed to pass through.
5 Q. Thank you. You've answered the question in a way. They required
6 assistance from the artillery support at your front to represent a danger
7 to you, didn't they?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Now, I now want to move on to the 16th of July in the morning.
10 There was further fighting on the 16th of July in the morning, wasn't
12 A. It was more intense. They came closer.
13 Q. And during the course of that fighting, you captured a Muslim
14 officer, didn't you?
15 A. He surrendered himself. He was approaching the headquarters with
16 his hands up in the air. We didn't know who he was. Obrenovic said that
17 we should let him approach. He approached. I was present when he entered
18 the building where the headquarters was located. He had a wound on his
19 neck, and there was blood coming out of his wound. There was a medical
20 technician there from Vukovar who bandaged his wound because
21 Major Obrenovic ordered that he be given medical assistance. We asked him
22 if he could speak. He said he couldn't. And they brought him the paper
23 and pencil and the first thing they asked him is why he had come, why he
24 had surrendered. He said that he had come seeking to negotiate with
25 someone because they wanted to surrender. Then they asked him how many of
1 them there were. He wrote down that there were 5.000 civilians and 2.000
2 men fit for military service.
3 Major Obrenovic conveyed that to Commander Pandurevic, who then
4 said, "I will come down there to negotiate. Have him go back and come back
5 with two women." Probably just to make it safer, because he said that he
6 was an officer from a brigade from Srebrenica. However, once he left,
7 having seen the disposition of our forces, having seen that we were out of
8 ammunition because people were coming in asking for ammunition, and they
9 attacked us. We assumed that we would be unable to continue defending
10 ourselves after about one hour of combat. Thus, we pulled back towards.
11 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter didn't hear the name of the
12 place where the forces withdrew to.
13 MR. HAYNES:
14 Q. Would you repeat the name of where you drew back to?
15 A. We withdrew towards the link of the 4th and 6th Battalion going
16 from Baljkovacka Rijeka to Parlog. That was the positions of the
17 1st Company of the 4th Battalion.
18 Q. And about what time of the morning was it that this man was
19 captured and interrogated and Dragan Obrenovic spoke to Vinko Pandurevic
20 about him?
21 A. I know that we abandoned the headquarters at around 12.00. Most
22 likely an hour prior to that, maybe even longer, because they kept him at
23 the headquarters for some time but roughly that would be the time.
24 Q. And what happened to him?
25 A. He went back to his people, and this is when they started a more
1 intense attack, both using artillery and infantry forces. They had mobile
2 mortars, they came closer to the command, to the headquarters, so we were
3 forced to leave the headquarters. Our plan was to join the lines, the
4 front end of our defence. As we were pulling out and going along
5 Baljkovacka Rijeka, we approached the trenches of the 1st Platoon of our
6 1st Company. It was then that on the radio we heard Commander Pandurevic
7 informing us that he had agreed with Semso Muminovic to have a cease-fire,
8 to stop shooting. He said that they would open a passage for the people
9 to pass through without any hindrance, and that's how it happened.
10 Q. Would you just explain to us how that was physically achieved?
11 How was the corridor opened for these people to pass through?
12 A. Our 1st Company was moved. The 2nd and the 3rd Platoon of the
13 1st Company left their trenches. They went to the trenches of the
14 2nd Company near the fields or near Poljane, and this is how the corridor
15 was opened up for them to pass through. After they passed through, the
16 soldiers of the 2nd Corps of the army of BH entered the trenches. They
17 were there from the 17th in the afternoon, when they left the area, and
18 then we were able to re-establish the defence lines as they used to exist
20 Q. Now, were you aware that originally, the agreement was that the
21 corridor should only be opened for 24 hours from the -- from about 1.00 on
22 the 16th of July?
23 A. I think that that's how it was.
24 Q. Were you aware that the period which the corridor was open was
25 extended by agreement -- by further agreement between Vinko Pandurevic and
1 Semso Muminovic?
2 A. When we passed through, we had radio link with the commander and
3 whatever he and Semso Muminovic had agreed to was abided by us.
4 Q. Just to help you, I'd like you, please, to look at 7D181. This is
5 another page from the Zvornik Brigade duty officer's notebook. And I want
6 you to read the paragraph that begins with the name "Mijatovic," just to
7 yourself, please. Have you read it, Mr. Ristic?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Is it correct that on the 17th of July, Serbian soldiers under the
10 command of Mijatovic were sent out into the region to call with megaphones
11 to make sure that as many Muslims who could hear went through the open
13 A. I didn't hear this and I didn't know this. All I know is that
14 they did pass through, and that my battalion and the people who were there
15 did not shoot, that people passed without any hindrance through that area,
16 through Baljkovica, through our defence lines, as was agreed.
17 Q. Well, again, you've moved on to my next question. You saw the
18 corridor -- you saw the column pass, did you?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. And in your best estimation, how many people passed through the
21 corridor between the 16th of July and the 17th of July?
22 A. There were a lot of them. It was a huge column but I wouldn't be
23 able to estimate it. The columns were huge, going through that area, from
24 the headquarters, going along Baljkovacka Rijeka towards Poljane. They
25 didn't all take the same road. That's why it's difficult for me to
1 estimate their number but there were definitely a lot of them.
2 Q. Were some of them carrying arms?
3 A. I saw that there were women and men in the column. I saw that
4 some passed through with weapons. But I didn't really look carefully in
5 order to estimate the quantity.
6 Q. Now, as the column passed, other than the positions which you had,
7 your units had moved out of to make the corridor, did you retain all your
8 other defensive positions either side of the corridor?
9 A. The 1st Platoon of the 1st Company was in its positions. The
10 corridor was open. The 2nd Company was reinforced by the people from the
11 1st Company, the 3rd Company was in its positions and it was only the
12 mortar platoon that was withdrawn from its positions in the night between
13 the 15th and the 16th. It was withdrawn towards the command post because
14 they were at risk, they had been surrendered. That's all that we had
15 available to us concerning the members of our battalion.
16 Q. In your view how easy would it have been for your forces to
17 destroy the column as it passed?
18 A. When I came out and I saw the members of MUP, I realised that
19 there -- they were in sufficient [Realtime transcript read in
20 error "insufficient"] numbers for combat. Since the command post had
21 burned down and the Praga, there was a lot of smoke and the smoke could be
22 seen from all positions, because that area was located at the foot of the
23 hill. I also saw that the MUP members had in Kitovnice
24 self-propelled Praga vehicles, some four to five of them, that somebody
25 introduced them into combat or rather had somebody introduced them into
1 combat and the commander could have done this had he wanted, there would
2 have been a huge massacre in that area because the people that were
3 passing near our command post, going to Nezuk, could have been exposed to
4 fire from all kinds of weapons. However, the orders were what they were
5 and we complied with them. Once they took over self-propelled vehicles
6 which were at the Motovska intersection, most likely their command didn't
7 manage to get their hands on them because they opened fire towards Parlog
8 and Delici, and at that time a couple of our soldiers were killed and a
9 lot were wounded.
10 Q. I just want to clarify the transcript. At page 48, line 6, you
11 said they were insufficient numbers for combat. Did you mean by that that
12 you realise after the event that there were enough Serbian forces to have
13 destroyed the column easily?
14 A. Well, there were sufficient, outside of the area where our
15 battalion was. We didn't have enough strength to put up the opposition in
16 that area where the battalion was but including everybody else who came to
17 assist us on that day, and who did not get involved in combat and they
18 could have, I think that they most likely could have prevented the column
19 from passing through and going to Nezuk.
20 Q. Thank you. Now, Vinko Pandurevic was your brigade commander for
21 two and a half to three years, that's correct, isn't it?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. And I want you to describe for us, if you would, your relationship
24 with him as a commander.
25 A. My relationship with the commander was a decent one. His attitude
1 towards me was extremely fair. From the time that we spent together, he
2 knew that I did whatever I could and he was ready to help me at any time
3 to issue orders, and do everything that was necessary in order to defend
4 the area of responsibility.
5 Q. I want specifically to move on to the question of the treatment of
6 prisoners. You watched the column pass. I'm going to start with the
7 column. Did you see any act of murder or assassination committed on any
8 member of the column as it passed?
9 A. What I observed from where I was, I didn't see any killing or any
10 fire opened in the direction of that column by our troops, which were in
11 the area where I was myself. They could go without any problems. They
12 were not bothered or disturbed.
13 Q. The Muslim officer captured on the 16th of July and interrogated
14 by Dragan Obrenovic, was he at all times properly treated as a prisoner of
16 A. This was the case. Nobody treated him ill. Nobody interfered.
17 They just questioned him and then they allowed him to return. He was not
18 treated as a prisoner of war. He was treated as somebody who had come to
20 Q. On the 18th of July, did two teenage Muslim boys come into the
21 custody of the 4th Battalion?
22 A. We did not have detention facilities. We were in a large tent.
23 This is where we all were.
24 Q. That's probably my mistake for using the wrong word. Did you have
25 two prisoners who were young Muslim boys after the corridor had been
2 A. Are you referring to --
3 Q. Yes, I'm being corrected. It wasn't two. There were a number of
4 Muslim boys, teenage boys. Do you recall that?
5 A. Yes, yes.
6 Q. And what happened to them?
7 A. I was in that tent when they called me and told me,
8 "Commander Pandurevic is looking for you." That tent was above the road
9 leading towards Baljkovica. It was about halfway between Parlog and
10 Baljkovica, and our command had burnt down when I exited the tent,
11 Commander Pandurevic was on the road together with some three or four
12 children, I don't know exactly how many. He told us, "Give them food,
13 tell everybody not to shoot from the line. Ask somebody to take them to
14 the line." He had agreed with Semso Muminovic most probably that he would
15 take them over, that somebody would meet them. That's what happened.
16 They gave them food, one of our soldiers took them to the line, they were
17 let go and they continued in the direction of Nezuk.
18 Q. Thank you. I'd like you to look, I think, probably, at the last
19 document I'm going to show you, which is 7D362, and it's page 3 in the
20 B/C/S. I don't believe this document has yet been translated.
21 I'd like you, please, if you could help us, Mr. Ristic, to read
22 the last paragraph on that page for us and, again, if the interpreters
23 would be good enough to translate it.
24 A. "Armed groups should be considered terrorists, because recently
25 they have inflicted major losses on us. In case of the groups passing and
1 being blocked, and in case they finally lay their arms, and if there are
2 unarmed persons and civilians among them, make sure that they are treated
3 as prisoners, honouring and complying with the international conventions
4 on their protection."
5 Q. And I wonder if we could just go over the page to page 4 to
6 confirm who that was an order from. That's signed by Commander Vinko
7 Pandurevic, isn't it? And if we could just go to the first page of that
8 document --
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... The date of it, page 1,
11 please. That document is dated the 16th of July of 1993. I'd like to ask
12 you this: Is that order consistent with the manner in which you were
13 ordered to treat prisoners by Vinko Pandurevic throughout the whole period
14 that he was your commanding officer?
15 A. This is the only way. I'm not aware of any other way. This is
16 the way things should have been done, that things were supposed to be
17 done, and what I told you a little while ago is exactly this.
18 Q. Thank you. I'm nearly finished, Mr. Ristic, you'll be pleased to
19 hear. When you discovered what had happened at Orahovac, were you
20 shocked, Mr. Ristic?
21 A. I was shocked by the way things had been done. But I also said
22 that I minded my own business. This was not within my purview. I was not
23 in a position to comment. I never did. All I said was that we should not
24 have brought them there because of the danger, because of the passage of
25 the forces that could not be stopped and the possible entry of groups from
1 the direction of Nezuk, the intervention and sabotage units that might
2 have come from the direction of Nezuk. Whatever else happened, I was not
3 interested in any of that because I was not involved in any of these
5 Q. From what you now know about the treatment of prisoners at
6 Orahovac, is that sort of treatment consistent with any orders you ever
7 received from Vinko Pandurevic about how to treat prisoners of war?
8 A. I did not have an occasion to receive any such orders, but I know
9 that I never received an order contrary to any rules. They were all
10 consistent with the rules. I never received an order from Commander
11 Pandurevic as to how to treat prisoners. I said that we were a battalion
12 that was exclusively engaged in defence and we had our own area of
13 responsibility where we did that.
14 Q. Well, I'll put the question a slightly different way. From what
15 you saw of his treatment of prisoners who had come from Srebrenica on the
16 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th of July 1995, is what happened at Orahovac
17 consistent with the way he behaved then?
18 A. Probably there was a difference there, but what I as a human being
19 was bothered by at the time, and I still am, is the fact that I'm still
20 not clear why this was done in Zvornik when our commander was absent, and
21 in a way, it so happened that they came through the command of our
22 battalion where the commander was also absent. If they had been there, I
23 believe that things would not have happened the way they did, but this was
24 the way they did happen.
25 Q. Mr. Ristic, thank you very much indeed. I've finished
1 cross-examining you.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you, Mr. Haynes. Now, for the record, both
3 Mr. Josse and Mr. Bourgon entered the courtroom in the course of the
4 proceedings. Mr. Bourgon is now going to proceed with the -- his
6 Cross-examination by Mr. Bourgon: [Continued]
7 Q. Good morning, Mr. Ristic.
8 A. Good afternoon.
9 Q. Maybe I should take this opportunity to apologise for my phone.
10 Mr. Ristic, I have a few questions I'd like to ask you further to
11 my initial cross-examination yesterday and for this I would like to begin
12 by going back to the drawing that was done with my colleague representing
13 the accused Pandurevic. If we can get that on the e-court, please.
14 Okay. I think I will have to ask you because this sketch is
15 quite -- has a lot of markings on it, I think I believe it will be
16 necessary to do another one but first I'd like to ask you if you see on
17 this map before you the area of Snagovo?
18 A. There are parts. There is actually one part of Snagovo.
19 Q. And would I be right that this is completely to the south or to
20 the bottom part of this map where we can see the word "Snagovo" just
21 towards the right; is that correct?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Now, what I propose to do before the break is simply to take a new
24 version of this same map and then I will ask you to make some additional
25 markings on it. If we can get 3D94 on the screen, please. And while this
1 is being prepared the reason I was asking about Snagovo is that this is
2 the area that you mentioned yesterday that Major Obrenovic was at when you
3 received that order on the 14th of July to send the intervention platoon
4 of the 3rd Battalion to Snagovo; is that correct?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Okay. Now that we have 3D94 on the screen, I will ask you to
7 make -- and some of these markings are the same but there are some that
8 are different so I will ask with the assistance of the usher that you be
9 given the blue pen and that you draw the -- once again the forward defence
10 line of the 4th Battalion, as you did on the previous sketch.
11 A. [Marks]
12 Q. And can you write above this line, towards the left, can you write
13 4 and then the letters, B as in Bravo and N as in November, just above the
14 line towards the left.
15 A. [Marks]
16 Q. B as in Bravo and N as in November. Now, can you put a large dot
17 on the area on that line where the forward command post of the 4th
18 Battalion was and then make a circle around it?
19 JUDGE AGIUS: Do I take it, Mr. Bourgon, that you don't like the
20 way he depicted it?
21 MR. BOURGON: It's because I need to add some additional details
22 and the other one is already quite dense.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Okay.
24 MR. BOURGON:
25 Q. Can you write below the circle the letters I for India, K for kilo
1 and M for mike, IKM 4?
2 A. [Marks]
3 Q. And the number 4.
4 A. [Marks]
5 Q. Now, can you indicate, again with a dot, the command post of the
6 4th Battalion, which was in, as you mentioned before, in Baljkovica? Just
7 put a dot and write beside it the letters, K as in kilo, M as in mike, for
8 KM 4?
9 A. [Marks]
10 Q. Now, again using the blue pen, can you indicate where was the
11 forward command post of the Zvornik Brigade? And you indicated earlier on
12 that it was close to Delici; is that correct?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. And if you can indicate the letters IKM, India kilo mike, and the
15 letter Z before, right after that, to indicate the forward command post of
16 the Z Brigade, of the Zvornik Brigade, sorry?
17 A. [Marks]
18 Q. Now, would I be right in saying that the exact area where the
19 forward command post of the Zvornik Brigade was is in an area called
20 Kitovnice, which is on elevated grounds; is that correct?
21 A. Kitovnice is a village and Delici is a hamlet, a hamlet belonging
22 to the village of Kitovnice and Delici is between Kitovnice and a
23 different part.
24 Q. Now, on that forward defence line that you were assigned to, I'd
25 like you to indicate now, using the black pen, if we can, and I'd like you
1 to indicate which battalion was to your right and to draw, to the best of
2 your recollection, I understand this was not your battalion, but which
3 battalion was to your right and to draw their forward defence line.
4 A. The 6th Battalion. [Marks]
5 Q. And can you write just on top of this line, the number 6 and the
6 letters B for Bravo and N for November?
7 A. [Marks]
8 Q. Now, can you indicate on this same map the battalion that was to
9 your left and to draw their defence line, once again bearing in mind that
10 you might not know the exact location, but the forward defence line of the
11 battalion which was to your left.
12 A. [Marks]
13 Q. And --
14 A. Approximately here. I'm not sure, but I know the places where
15 that battalion was. I may not be able to locate them precisely on the
16 map, but I would say that this is approximately so.
17 Q. And you just indicated now what I was going to ask you to write
18 the letters or the number 7 followed by the letters B for Bravo and N for
19 November on this line. Now, I'd like you to indicate one more thing using
20 if we can go back to the blue pen, I'm sorry I forgot about this but the
21 location of your mortar platoon on the 15th of July. If you can just put
22 a dot where the mortar platoon of the 4th Battalion was?
23 A. [Marks]
24 Q. And then indicate with the letters M for mike, B for Bravo and the
25 number 4?
1 A. [Marks]
2 Q. Now, I'd like you to switch to the red pen and indicate the
3 forward defence line of the 2nd Corps of the Muslim army.
4 A. [Marks]
5 Q. And if you can indicate the number 2, the letter K, for kilo, and
6 then the letters A for Alpha, B for Bravo, I for India and H for hotel.
7 A. [Marks]
8 Q. Now, again using the red pen, can you indicate and draw a flag
9 where you saw that white flag that you referred to? And I refer to the
10 transcript page 80, lines 22 to 25 of yesterday.
11 A. [Marks]
12 Q. And also to indicate the fire which you referred to yesterday at
13 page 81, lines 1 to 7. If you can draw a star or some kind of an
14 indication that we can recognise a fire?
15 A. [Marks]
16 Q. Now, I'd like you to indicate once again the route which was taken
17 by the Muslim column, and also using the red pen, as far down on the map
18 as you are aware of it and to all the way across the red line?
19 A. [Marks]
20 Q. Can you put arrows and write the letter beside this arrow towards
21 the bottom part, simply with the letter K, for column.
22 A. [Marks]
23 Q. Okay. Now, one location which was mentioned to you is Crni Vrh.
24 Can you indicate where is exactly Crni Vrh?
25 A. On the road, it is not indicated here but it is on the road
1 leading from Zvornik towards Kalesija and onwards to Tuzla between
2 Planinci and Kulina.
3 Q. Now, if we can again using the red pen, I have two locations I'd
4 like you to indicate. The first one is the location where the initial
5 attack took place at 0430, the morning of 15 July, and you mentioned that
6 this took place at the junction between the 4th Battalion and the
7 6th Battalion. Can you just indicate a red circle?
8 A. [Marks]
9 Q. Now, I'd like you to indicate also, because we've heard from many
10 witnesses that some serious fighting took place in the area of Baljkovica,
11 I'd like you to, again using the red pen, make a circle that indicates
12 where the fighting took place in the area of Baljkovica including where
13 your command post of the 4th Battalion was located?
14 A. The attacks by the 2nd Corps of the BiH army were from the link
15 between the 4th and the 6th Battalions, there is a river there called
16 Baljkovacka River up to these houses in Poljane. Every trench there,
17 every trench that we held, was attacked by their intervention units. The
18 forces that were moving were probably escorting the column and they
19 launched an attack on the area around the command and all the elevations
21 Q. Now, would I be right, Mr. Ristic, in saying that where the
22 forward defence line of the 4th Battalion was, you were kind of caught in
23 a sandwich between the forward defence line of the 2nd Corps and, on one
24 side, to your front, and to your rear was the column? Is that correct?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Just before we go to the break, I would just ask to you sign this
2 sketch in the bottom right corner, indicating the letters, your initials,
3 and the date, and if we can save this sketch, which I will refer to during
4 the remainder of my cross-examination.
5 A. [Marks]
6 Q. And I believe, Mr. President, the time is -- we are due for a
8 JUDGE AGIUS: Finish this marking.
9 We will have a 25 minute break starting from now.
10 MR. McCLOSKEY: Mr. President, can we let the next witness go? I
12 JUDGE AGIUS: Yeah. I don't see Mr. Bourgon finishing any time
13 soon and then there is Mr. Meek as well with his questions. Thank you.
14 MR. McCLOSKEY: Thank you.
15 --- Recess taken at 12.32 p.m.
16 --- On resuming at 1.00 p.m.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Bourgon.
18 MR. BOURGON: Thank you, Mr. President.
19 JUDGE AGIUS: Proceed.
20 MR. BOURGON:
21 Q. Thank you for bearing with us, Mr. Ristic. I think it should not
22 be too long before we are done. Yesterday, when I ended my
23 cross-examination, and I refer to page 81 of the transcripts, lines 1 to
24 7, you mentioned that you received a phone call from Drago Nikolic on 13
25 July in the evening. Can you, just so we can catch up again where we
1 were, say what this conversation was about?
2 A. He asked me whether I could see the fire by the mosque in Nezuk.
3 I went out and I saw it. Then we continued talking with me saying that,
4 yes, I could see the fire. Then I told him that in Srpski Nezuk, there
5 was a large white flag flying. I don't remember talking about anything
7 Q. And can you help the Trial Chamber by saying at what time this
8 conversation took place on 13 July in the evening?
9 A. Probably as it was getting dark because we could see the fire.
10 The fire was visible and I think it was getting dark because I could
11 clearly see the fire.
12 Q. And bearing in mind your knowledge of the area at the time, in
13 terms of at what time darkness arrives, what time could that have been, to
14 the best of your recollection?
15 A. Most likely around 2130, at around that time. Because normally,
16 it stays light until 9.00 p.m. so this conversation probably took place
17 between 9.00 and 9.30 p.m.
18 Q. If we could have on the e-court the map which was marked by the
19 witness just before the break, please? Now, my next question, Mr. Ristic,
20 deals with the forward defence line of the 4th Battalion, which you just
21 drew on the map that is before you. And I'd like you to confirm that
22 along this line were located your three infantry companies, each having
23 somewhere around six trenches each; is that correct?
24 A. It depends on the terrain itself. And also how many people each
25 company had. It didn't have to be specifically six. Perhaps some
1 companies had more than that. I think that in our responsibility, each
2 company had more than six trenches. We had an anti-armour platoon which
3 held some two to three trenches, and then each platoon, depending on the
4 situation, held three to four trenches, depending on the terrain that
5 belonged to that company.
6 Q. And would I be right in saying that before the events related to
7 the column took place, that the 4th Battalion, the task of the
8 4th Battalion, was to hold this forward defence line and to prevent anyone
9 from the 2nd Corps to break into -- to break this line? Is that correct?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. And in the drawing that you -- that we have before us, there is an
12 area between the forward defence line of the 2nd Corps and your own
13 forward defence line. What do we find in the middle of these two lines?
14 And how do we call this area?
15 A. This is an inter-area. They had their own lines and we had our
16 own lines, and in between was an empty area where there was nothing.
17 Q. And is it the common practice for this area to be mined by both
19 A. Most likely they did, and we did some mines placed in front of the
20 front end of defence lines, in an area where we thought that some sabotage
21 units could enter. That's why we mined that area and they must have done
22 the same.
23 Q. Now, I'd like to focus on your mortar platoon and the first
24 question is a very general question but I believe it is possible that not
25 everyone is aware what a mortar is and why a mortar platoon would need
1 security. Can you, in your own words, but keeping it short, explain to
2 the Trial Chamber what is a mortar and why a mortar platoon would require
4 A. A mortar platoon was behind the front end defence line, depending
5 on the terrain. It would normally be placed at an elevation, whether it
6 was a slope, but placed in such a way so as not to be noticed. It
7 normally has a crew and according to the rules, that crew belongs to the
8 mortar platoon. It was mostly people who had knowledge about these
9 matters that manned the platoon. In addition, they also had people
10 securing the mortars overnight. Those were mostly older people who were
11 not fit for combat. There were -- there was a sufficient number of them
12 to secure the mortar crew and mortars. And there weren't enough of them
13 in order to be able to defend themselves in case of an attack. This is
14 why they needed extra men.
15 Q. And would I be right, Mr. Ristic, in saying that the mortar is an
16 indirect fire weapon, and that it is in fact a tube in which you place a
17 rocket which is then propelled into the air and lands several hundred
18 metres further down the line? Would that be a fair description of what a
19 mortar is?
20 A. Roughly so, but more than 100 metres.
21 Q. I'm sorry, I thought I said several hundred metres but it's --
22 maybe it's a translation or maybe I did not say the right thing. Now, on
23 the 14th of July in the morning you testified you received an order to
24 send the intervention platoon of the 3rd Battalion to Snagovo, and that
25 was yesterday on page 16, lines 16 to 20. What I'm interested in I want
1 to ask you the question but I already said this today on page 37 lines 3
2 to 5, military policemen from Zvornik Brigade were then sent to secure
3 your mortar platoon. Is that correct?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Now, I would like to know if you -- if you know that these
6 military policemen were from Zvornik Brigade.
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. And do you know an individual by the name of Dusan Nikolic, as
9 being one member of the military police who was sent to secure your mortar
11 A. I do know him. Actually I learned about that later because he was
12 one of those who got killed when there was a cease-fire and when he went
13 towards Parlog to go back to his unit. I heard this from a relative of
14 his who was a signalsman in our battalion.
15 Q. And are you aware that Dusan Nikolic was a relative of
16 Drago Nikolic?
17 A. Judging by the last name, yes, most likely.
18 Q. And you mentioned earlier and I thought that you did mention the
19 date, but what you found out later was that he had been killed during the
20 cease-fire so we are talking about the 16th of July; is that correct?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Now, I'd like to mention to you a few names, and if you can tell
23 me whether you know who these persons are. Markanovic, Mico, is he a
24 member of the military police of the Zvornik Brigade who was killed on the
25 16th of July, if you know?
1 A. I know about this young man because I saw when they brought him to
2 the command building. He was a red-head. My brother was there and he
3 said that he had given him a helmet. Later on, he saw that he was killed.
4 I know his name, I know that he was a red-head. I know that my brother
5 gave him a helmet and I knew his last name and I just remembered his first
6 name now that you've mentioned it.
7 Q. And he was a member of the military police?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Now, I have four more names I'd like to mention to you if you can
10 just confirm whether you know yes, yes or no, whether they were members of
11 the military police. Mico Peric?
12 A. I don't know him.
13 Q. Bosko Aleksic?
14 A. I've heard of Aleksic. I heard that he died in our area. I know
15 him by sight. I know of the last name of Aleksic but I don't know the
16 first name Bosko.
17 Q. And Slavko Katic?
18 A. He was my neighbour. He got killed in the same way as Nikolic, as
19 he was going back to his unit after the cease-fire in Parlog.
20 Q. And finally Milenko Marjanovic?
21 A. I think that I know him as well, a policeman, because I sent a man
22 to deploy them by the school building in Baljkovica. He was a member of
23 the Drina Wolves unit. Several of these policemen who secured the command
24 building were there. Major Obrenovic told me to send a man to take them
25 there, and they were killed near the school in Baljkovica, not far from
1 the battalion command.
2 Q. Now, regarding this individual, Marjanovic, you said he was a
3 policeman. Would I be right in saying that he's a military policeman?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. I now move on to something you mentioned yesterday in response to
6 one of my questions at page 55, lines 6 to 22. Or rather it was in
7 response to a question by the Prosecution. And you mentioned at that time
8 that when you left the school in Orahovac, towards the end of the day on
9 the 14th of July, that you held a meeting coming back from this area. And
10 you referred to the fact that you mentioned some kind of a danger. I will
11 quote your exact words. Where you said, "On my way back to the
12 battalion," no, sorry, "When I came back to the battalion I convened all
13 the members of the command and told them that there was a danger looming
14 over our battalion."
15 Now, what I'm interested in knowing is that this meeting was
16 called not in relation to the events in Orahovac but in relation to the
17 defence preparations for the Muslim column that was coming in your
18 direction; is that correct?
19 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Vanderpuye?
20 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. I think in light of
21 the question posed, I would ask that my learned friend read the entire
22 paragraph of the witness's answer and not selectively parse it or edit it.
23 I think that would be responsive to the question and it will also probably
24 frame it more accurately in context.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: What do you have to say to that, Mr. Bourgon?
1 MR. BOURGON: Well, if it can avoid a question in re-examination
2 then of course I'm happy to read the complete answer.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: I think we'll do it faster that way.
4 MR. BOURGON:
5 Q. Mr. Ristic, I will read the answer which you gave.
6 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you for your cooperation, Mr. Bourgon.
7 MR. BOURGON: Thank you, Mr. President.
8 Q. The question was: "Now having done that did you notify the
9 battalion that you had taken action?"
10 And your answer was: "When I came to the battalion I convened all
11 the members of the command and told them that there was a danger looming
12 over our battalion. I told them what was going on down there. I told
13 them that I let some men go, that they would be coming back the next day,
14 and I agreed with the other members of my command that that evening we
15 should transport the vehicles, ammunition, et cetera, to the area of
17 I think my colleague will be satisfied with this quote even though
18 the answer was a bit longer.
19 Now, I simply would like to know from you, Mr. Ristic, that
20 meeting was not a result of Orahovac but was simply you taking action or
21 defence preparations for the Muslim column that was coming; is that
23 A. These events in Orahovac had nothing to do with the meeting in my
24 command. It was more of a premonition and pre-emptive action. We focused
25 exclusively with the defence -- on the defence in the area of
1 responsibility of our battalion.
2 Q. Now, would I be right in saying that at that point in time, based
3 on the information that you have, which was conveyed to you by the brigade
4 command, that you considered the situation to be critical because you now
5 knew, looking at this sketch that is in front of you, that the Muslim
6 column would pass through your forward defence line? Is that correct?
7 A. Since they crossed Crni Vrh and I received no information
8 indicating that they were stopped, in the evening hours, as I heard that
9 they crossed Crni Vrh, I naturally expected that it was possible for them
10 to attack the command as well as the front end of defence lines, so we
11 focused completely on defending the command post and the front end of
12 defence lines, and I expected the column to attack, that's how it was
14 Q. Now, in response to a question that was posed to you by my
15 colleague representing Vinko Pandurevic, your response was, of course,
16 that later on you found out that there was enough manpower there, that it
17 was possible to stop the column, but would I be right in saying that on
18 the 14th, the night of the 14th and the 15th, that it was your impression
19 that the 4th Battalion did not have enough strength to put up an
20 opposition and that is why you made plans to evacuate the documents, the
21 ammunition, and the vehicles? Is that correct?
22 A. That's correct. We drew a plan, I said that yesterday. Those who
23 were able to observe this from the direction of Potocari [as interpreted],
24 if the column was small and attacked the command then, yes, we would have
25 put up reconnaissance but if the column was large enough we would not have
1 been able to resist and we would have had to withdraw. And we had to open
2 up a corridor now. As to how that could have transpired, as a hypothesis,
3 well, that's a totally different issue.
4 Q. Would I be right in saying that on 17 July, after the column had
5 passed, you had the opportunity, by -- of looking at the column from
6 elevated grounds and you did see that within the column there was a number
7 of men armed with 84-millimetre weapons; is that correct?
8 A. The main column of civilians passed through on the 16th and then
9 on the 17th, in the afternoon, when I received the order from the
10 commander to go across Memici, and that there should be normal
11 circumstances at the defence lines, at an elevated point near Poljane,
12 where we were waiting for the Muslim soldiers to leave our trenches and
13 the positions of the 1st Company, one soldier observed through binoculars
14 the area leading towards our command building, which had burned down the
15 previous day. He saw a large number of soldiers. I don't know which
16 soldiers now. And he told me that he counted 32 84-millimetre
17 machine-guns. I looked through the binoculars and I saw that there were a
18 lot of uniformed soldiers and that there were indeed a lot of these
19 84-millimetre machine-guns. I couldn't recognise who they were. What I'm
20 referring to is I couldn't tell whether they were members from Srebrenica
21 or members of the 2nd Corps of the BH army. I think that they were most
22 likely from Srebrenica because had they attacked with those weapons our
23 lines, I think that they would have succeeded in passing through. As it
24 was, they didn't succeed. This is why I think that they were only members
25 from Srebrenica. Or they had come there as reinforcement on the 17th that
1 I wasn't aware of.
2 Q. Thank you. I move on to a next question. Now I just come back
3 shortly to the phone call which you received from Trbic on the 14th of
4 July because I think there was something that I -- in the transcript that
5 is not clear to me and that requires clarification, and that was yesterday
6 on page 37, lines 9 to 25. And I would just like to confirm with you that
7 Trbic, when he requested you to send those men to secure the Orahovac
8 school never mentioned that this was an order that came from the command,
9 he only said, "Send me some men because the prisoners are -- want to break
10 out from the school," and there was no mention of the command; is that
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. And it's also my understanding from your testimony that if Trbic
14 had mentioned to you that the men were required for an execution, that you
15 would have refused the request. Is that correct?
16 A. I most likely would have refused. Now, whether he knew at that
17 point in time that there would be an execution, I don't know that. Had I
18 refused to send him men, and had they broken out and gone to the village,
19 one has to wonder what would have happened because he was from the
20 superior command after all. I wonder what would have happened to me. I
21 probably would have had problems both with the command and with that
22 village. I think that I acted the way that I acted. Had he told me that
23 they were going to shoot these men, the situation would have been
24 different because my battalion was not intended for those purposes. Now,
25 what would have happened later, I don't know.
1 Q. Now, you've again -- you lead me to my next question which is:
2 You don't exclude the possibility that Trbic knew nothing about the
3 executions when he requested those men to provide security?
4 A. He didn't tell me anything. Whether he knew or not I can't tell.
5 He didn't tell me anything about that. I didn't know anything. He just
6 said to me, "Send me a dozen men because the prisoners are about to break
7 out from the school building." I didn't ask him anything else. It was a
8 very short telephone conversation and that was it.
9 Q. I now come back briefly to your conversation with Obrenovic,
10 which, as you mentioned yesterday, I mentioned that was page 70, lines 4
11 to 16, that this conversation in his office took place at his request; is
12 that correct?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. And it is on that occasion that he suggested to you that all of
15 this had been done along some security chain of command and not through
16 the Main Staff; is that correct?
17 A. As I understood him, that was the line from the Main Staff to the
18 brigade, the security chain of command.
19 Q. And that suggestion was made to you when he was preparing his
20 defence and meeting, as you said yesterday, a number of people to ask
21 questions about the events; is that correct?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. I just have two last questions. The first one is yesterday I
24 asked you about your professional relationship with Drago Nikolic, and you
25 in your response, you explained what kind of instructions he gave you. I
1 would like you, if you can comment on the professionalism of Drago Nikolic
2 and the manner in which he conducted and he performed his functions. Can
3 you comment further?
4 A. All I can say is this: I can tell you about my contacts with him
5 concerning our work. As for the rest, I don't know anything. This was
6 just a relationship between the chief of security and me, the organ of
7 security in the battalion. We had a very decent military type of
8 relationship. I can't tell you anything else.
9 Q. And did Drago Nikolic ever issue to you instructions concerning
10 the treatment of any person detained? And if so, what kind of
11 instructions did he issue to you?
12 A. Nobody ever gave me any instructions concerning that type of work
13 during wartime. Nobody ever gave me such instructions, nor did I need
15 Q. And my last question: Did you ever hear, in your dealings with
16 Drago Nikolic, did you ever hear Drago Nikolic use some bad language or
17 derogatory terms concerning Muslims, things like balija or things like
18 Turks or things -- anything that would have made the Muslims something
19 else than the enemy at the time?
20 A. I never heard that from him. As for them being the enemy, then
21 yes. That was mentioned. But we also could have been attacked by Croats.
22 They were our enemy too. So that's the only term that he used.
23 MR. BOURGON: Thank you, Mr. Ristic, I thank you for your patience
24 and I think my colleague has a few questions to ask you. Thank you, thank
25 you, Mr. President.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, Mr. Bourgon. I have on the list
2 Mr. Meek and Mr. Josse.
3 MR. JOSSE: Yes, we've got about ten minutes after Mr. Meek, Your
5 JUDGE AGIUS: And you have how long?
6 MR. MEEK: Only a few questions, Your Honour.
7 JUDGE AGIUS: And do you have re-examination?
8 MR. VANDERPUYE: I have just a few questions on re-examination.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: We won't finish today. Go ahead, Mr. Meek. I'm not
10 pressurising any one of you. We'll finish this witness when we finish
11 him. Mr. Meek?
12 MR. MEEK: Thank you.
13 Cross-examination by Mr. Meek:
14 Q. Mr. Ristic, I'm Chris Meek and I represent Mr. Beara. I just have
15 a few questions for you. Yesterday, you spoke about the ambushes and that
16 your platoon was busy with these ambushes; is that correct?
17 A. You mean ambushes at Tisova Kosa?
18 Q. Yes. That would be correct.
19 A. Yes, yes.
20 Q. Was that on the 14th and 15th?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. And can you tell me approximately, did these ambushes last for two
24 A. Two days. On the third evening, when they were supposed to go,
25 they called in from the brigade to say that people should withdraw from
1 the positions because it wasn't safe, namely that they shouldn't set up
2 ambushes that evening because a large number of Muslims were crossing at
3 Crni Vrh and that's what we did because it was a small group of people.
4 You said on the 14th and 15th, didn't you?
5 Q. Yes, I did say the 14th and 15th.
6 A. On the 12th, in the evening, and on the 13th, in the evening, they
7 were ambushed. During the night, on the 12th we received an order to be
8 prepared that afternoon, and that they should be sent during the night
9 into the Tisova Kosa sector.
10 Q. Do you have an estimate, sir, of approximately how many of the
11 enemy combatants were killed during these ambushes?
12 A. It's very hard for me to estimate but they were killed. Fighting
13 went on across the entire area above Potocani. It lasted for two days,
14 it's very hard for me to say. I know about my battalion but I never
15 inspected any other troops. I don't know but I'm sure that there were
17 Q. And sir, when I mean casualties I'm speaking of casualties on the
18 BH army side.
19 A. I am not in a position to give you any numbers, not even
20 approximate numbers, because I was not involved in that, but I'm sure that
21 there were. In order for one to know, one would have to go to the spot to
22 see for one's self, and I was not that person but I'm sure that there were
24 Q. Okay. And understanding you weren't that person, but do you
25 believe that your information was correct, that the intelligence you were
1 receiving in regards to the locations where the ambushes took place, or
2 did you ever hear subsequently if were you successful in these ambushes?
3 A. The ambush that was set up by that platoon, that platoon was not
4 engaged in any fighting on these two evenings and as for the ambushes set
5 up by Major Obrenovic, I don't know what happened there. I only know what
6 I've heard. I heard that he could not put up resistance because the
7 ambush was broken up in a way. I wasn't there. I don't know. I never
8 inquired about the details of the events.
9 Q. Just to make it clear, when Obrenovic appeared it was on the 15th,
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. So I'm asking you on the ambushes of the 12th and 13th. You still
13 have no knowledge after the fact as to how successful those ambushes were
14 on the 12th and 13th?
15 A. Are you referring to Major Obrenovic or to my men that were
16 involved in the ambush? Let's make that clear, please.
17 Q. Your men, sir.
18 A. On these two evenings, they were deployed in Tisova Kosa, in a
19 forest. They were not engaged in any fighting. In other words they were
20 not setting up any ambushes. They were just guarding the back of our line
21 in order to prevent any attacks during the night. On these two evenings,
22 there were no fightings going on, they were just waiting in the ambushes
23 but nothing happened. There was no fighting.
24 Q. Thank you for that.
25 Would it be correct, sir, that at the brigade level, you were
1 actually a secured intelligence -- excuse me, at the battalion level, that
2 you were actually an intelligence/security officer?
3 A. Yes. During 1992, up until March 1995, from March 1992 up to
4 March 1995.
5 Q. And is it your testimony then that after March of 1995, you were
6 then solely in the security or intelligence?
7 A. From March 1993 to March 1995, security and intelligence were one
8 and the same, and I was engaged in both as an assistant commander. I was
9 engaged in both sets of activities during those two years, and after March
10 1995, the assistant commander by establishment I had command
11 responsibility but I did not have anything with the intelligence
12 establishment in the battalion. There was another man who was involved in
14 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Meek, something that needs to be clarified. If
15 you look at page 73, line 17 when he was dealing with or correcting the
16 dates. He said on the 12th, in the evening, and on the 13th in the
17 evening, they were ambushed. During the night on the 12th, we received an
18 order to be prepared that afternoon and that we -- that they should be
19 sent during the night into the Tisova Kosa area. Then if you look at page
20 75, lines -- line starting from line 4, on these two evenings, in other
21 words he's referring to the 12th and the 13th again, they were deployed in
22 the Tisova Kosa, in the forest. They were not engaged in any fighting.
23 In other words, they were not setting up any ambushes. They were just
24 guarding the back of our line, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
25 On these two evenings, there were no fightings going on, there
1 were just waiting in ambushes but nothing happened, there was no fighting.
2 This seems to be contradictory. I think we can leave it at that for the
3 time being. You'll pick this up tomorrow morning when we meet again.
4 Witness, we are going to finish here today because it's time.
5 Tomorrow, you won't be here for long. One last word of caution before you
6 leave the courtroom. You are in the same position as you were yesterday.
7 You're still testifying under oath and you are under an obligation not to
8 discuss the substance of your testimony with anyone between today and
9 tomorrow. Okay. Thank you. Have a good afternoon, everyone. Thank you.
10 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1.46 p.m.,
11 to be reconvened on Wednesday, the 18th day of
12 April, 2007, at 9.00 a.m.