1 Wednesday, 20 June 2007
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 2.21 p.m.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: Good afternoon, everybody. Madam Registrar, could
6 you call the case, please.
7 THE REGISTRAR: Good afternoon, Your Honours. This is case number
8 IT-05-88-T, the Prosecutor versus Vujadin Popovic et al.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, ma'am. For the record all the accused
10 are here. I don't notice any absences amongst the Defence teams. And
11 from the Prosecution, I see Mr. McCloskey, Mr. Thayer, Mr. Nicholls. And
12 no one else.
13 Good afternoon again.
14 Mr. -- I don't know who to address but I suppose Mr. Nicholls.
15 You are aware that an urgent motion, joint Defence motion, was filed
16 earlier on today, seeking certification of our yesterday's oral decision
17 relating to Witness 128 [Realtime transcript read in error "PW-128"] and
18 the postponement of the testimony of the same witness. Since the motion
19 is not only declared to be urgent but in itself is urgent, you're asked to
20 respond to it now, please.
21 MR. NICHOLLS: I'll be very brief, Your Honour. I've looked
22 through the motion and my response in short is that I don't believe that
23 the Defence have met the cumulative prongs of Rule 73(B) and I ask the
24 Court to exercise its discretion to deny the motion. The main reason for
25 my position is that the Defence's arguments about how this going forward
1 will affect the fair and expeditious conduct of the proceedings and all
2 these dire predictions of what may result seem to me to be purely
3 speculative and not grounded.
4 There is no reason to believe at this stage that the witness would
5 have to be recalled or that a cross-examination will be longer. I don't
6 see how that has been established. And if that's the case, the
7 postponement would be for no reason at all so I don't think that they've
8 met that expeditious and fairness prong. And the same goes for whether or
9 not the credibility of the witness, they will be able to challenge that.
10 Without going into the substance again of the underlying court's decision,
11 I think that the Defence is able with the information provided to do a
12 full and fair cross-examination. Should it turn out that there is any
13 reason why further questions are required, the Court has built in a remedy
14 which is to recall the witness, if necessary, if cause is shown. And I
15 think that that is -- takes away any danger of unfairness or prejudice to
16 the Defence and that it would be wrong to now send a witness home who has
17 been here for a week, postpone all of this on the mere speculation that it
18 may turn out that there may be additional questions that they need to ask.
19 Thank you.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. Does anyone of you wish to respond to
21 the Prosecution reply? Mr. Zivanovic?
22 MR. ZIVANOVIC: Thank you, I have nothing to add to my submission.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Mr. Bourgon?
24 MR. BOURGON: No, Mr. President.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. Anyone else? None? Okay.
1 We'll come back with our decision later. In the meantime, let's
2 proceed with this witness. How much more time do you need, Mr. Krgovic?
3 Mr. Stojanovic, I'm sorry.
4 MR. STOJANOVIC: [Interpretation] I think about 15 to 20 minutes,
5 Your Honour.
6 JUDGE AGIUS: Who else will be cross-examining this witness? All
7 right. So our intention today was to have just one break, since we will
8 be adjourning at 6.00, between 6.00 and 6.15 anyway, so we will need time
9 in any case to go back to our Chambers and discuss the motion, the joint
10 Defence motion. So we'll come back to you later on to tell you what is
11 going to happen.
12 [The witness entered court]
13 JUDGE AGIUS: Good afternoon to you, Mr. Stanojevic.
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good afternoon.
15 JUDGE AGIUS: We are going to proceed with your cross-examination.
16 Mr. Stojanovic will be proceeding with his questions.
17 Mr. Stojanovic.
18 MR. STOJANOVIC: [Interpretation] Good afternoon, Your Honours.
19 WITNESS: DOBRISAV STANOJEVIC [Resumed]
20 [Witness answered through interpreter]
21 Cross-examination by Mr. Stojanovic: [Continued]
22 Q. Good afternoon, Mr. Stanojevic.
23 A. Good afternoon.
24 Q. We were able to see two video clips or excerpts from the video
25 clips, and you were able to five some people. Now I would like to revisit
1 that and I would like to ask you some questions.
2 A. Fine.
3 Q. And this is P02047, Your Honours, Prosecution Exhibit, that's
4 video clip V0004458. And the time is 1.54.45 through 55.09.
5 [Videotape played]
6 MR. STOJANOVIC: [Interpretation]
7 Q. Would you agree with me that the video clip where you were able to
8 recognise yourself is in fact part of this recording?
9 A. Yes.
10 JUDGE AGIUS: One moment. The video was stopped at 1 hour 55
11 minutes 08 seconds.
12 MR. STOJANOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours, for your
14 Q. Mr. Stanojevic, the persons that we can see on this recording, the
15 civilians, they reached this hard-top road and they are heading toward the
16 UNPROFOR base; is that correct?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Since you know this area, from what direction did they come from
19 as they headed towards the UN base in Potocari?
20 A. Well, from what direction, to the right, there is this village of
21 Budak. There is also the village of Gornji Potocari and a number of
22 hamlets. I'm not able to tell you their names now.
23 Q. At that moment, in those villages, Budak, Gornji Potocari, there
24 were no members of your unit?
25 A. No, there weren't.
1 Q. You can see that you're saying, "Don't be afraid." That's what
2 you're saying on this recording; is that right?
3 A. Yes, that's right.
4 Q. What did you mean when you were saying those things to those
6 A. Well, I addressed them with the best of intentions. I saw that
7 these women were scared. I told them not to be afraid, that they were
8 free to go because this woman was crying. They wanted to pass through to
9 the UN base. So I acted in the best of intentions, and I talked to them
10 and I told them that they could pass through and that there would be no
11 problems, and that is indeed how it was. There were no problems.
12 Q. Do you know who is this man or the camera-man or the reporter to
13 your right on this recording?
14 A. I don't know this man.
15 MR. STOJANOVIC: [Interpretation] Could we now just look at the
16 following frame and then that's the end of the clip.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: What was the reason for looking for the following
18 frame, if I may ask?
19 MR. STOJANOVIC: [Interpretation] Just to hear the sentence and
20 the -- you will see the translation of those words.
21 Q. As you can see, and that's at 1.55.10 on this video recording,
22 either you or somebody else standing next to you said, "Why did you leave,
24 A. That's not what I said.
25 Q. You don't know who said it?
1 A. Well, I don't, because there were quite a few of us there.
2 Q. Thank you. I will not be needing this video recording any more
3 but I would like to ask you in your estimate, and you actually did mark
4 these locations, how far is this location where this recording was made
5 from the location where the people of Srebrenica gathered in Potocari?
6 A. 100 to 150 metres, something like that.
7 Q. In this period that you told us was between one and two hours that
8 you spent in Potocari on that date, you did not see any buses driving the
9 civilians away in the direction of Bratunac?
10 A. No, I did not.
11 Q. And your departure from this area, as you indicated, was at any
12 rate before the evacuation started; is that correct?
13 A. Yes, that's correct.
14 Q. It is our argument that no members of the PJP company that you
15 were a part of did not take part in the evacuation of the civilian
16 population from Potocari to Bratunac. Would you agree with me?
17 A. Yes. I will agree with you. We were in Bratunac at the
18 department store when the first vehicles with the civilians started
19 getting out, when the evacuation started with the first vehicles.
20 Q. When you headed from Potocari to Bratunac, you had to pass through
21 in your vehicle across the Yellow Bridge and the UN observation post; is
22 that correct?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Would you agree with me that at that time, as you were heading
25 from Potocari towards the department store in Bratunac, so that's the 12th
1 of July, that again you did not have any contacts with the UN troops and
2 that your unit did not disarm any of them?
3 A. Absolutely we did not.
4 Q. On the 12th of July, in the afternoon, you headed towards Zvornik;
5 is that correct?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. And on your arrival in the village of Sandici, you were deployed
8 along the road and I wanted to ask you, the location that you marked on
9 the aerial photograph, how far is it from the Kravica village or, rather,
10 from the warehouse in the village of Kravica?
11 A. Well, about one kilometre, maybe a bit more, but thereabouts.
12 Q. Can you remember what unit was deployed down along the road to
13 your right?
14 A. I don't remember. I think there were some troops there but I
15 can't really tell you with any certainty.
16 Q. When you say that there were some troops on the same side that you
17 were, are you referring to the Republika Srpska army troops?
18 A. Yes. I think there were some Republika Srpska army troops. I
19 didn't recognise the soldiers and they didn't wear the same kind of
20 insignia that the police wore or the Special Police Brigade wore.
21 Q. Would you agree with me that the distance from that location in
22 Sandici to Srebrenica is about ten kilometres as the crow flies?
23 A. From the town itself to Sandici, there is about 10 kilometres.
24 That's for sure.
25 Q. The village of Sandici and Vojnici [phoen] is in the area that was
1 controlled by the Republika Srpska army in 1993; is that correct?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. You talked about the attack on -- in the night between the 12th
4 and the 13th of July by the members of the 28th Division, do you remember
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Could we please look at Defence Exhibit 4DP1829, pages 27 to 28,
8 in the B/C/S version. The translation is already in e-court and if we
9 could look at -- that's 4D00108. That's page 2 of the English version.
10 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's correction: The exhibit number is
12 MR. STOJANOVIC: [Interpretation]
13 Q. As we wait for this document to come up, I would like to tell you
14 that this is an extract from the protocol book of the Bratunac health care
15 centre, and we would be looking for the entries for the 13th of July 1995.
16 Thank you. Could we perhaps scroll down a little bit? That's enough.
17 Thank you very much.
18 Mr. Stanojevic, you mentioned a member of your unit whose name was
19 Zeljko Ninkovic. You remember that?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Here, under 1471 [as interpreted], and the date is the 13th of
22 July 1995, and the time is 4.45, it says here that a member of the Special
23 Police from Zvornik was brought in from the area around the village of
24 Kravica to the Bratunac health care centre, and here there is an
25 indication that he was showing no signs of life. Do you see that?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Does that correspond to what you were testifying yesterday?
3 A. Yes. That precisely corresponds to that.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: For the record, line 21 on the previous page, page
5 8, you say, "Here, under 1471". From what I see it's 1481. Unless I'm
6 looking at the wrong entry.
7 MR. STOJANOVIC: [Interpretation] You're right. Thank you very
8 much. That's 1481. So could we have that correction for the record?
9 Q. Mr. Stanojevic, the next name is Nenad Andric, and again, his
10 record is entered here under 1482 and it's recorded here that he was
11 brought there that morning as a member of the Special Police from Zvornik
12 from the Kravica area, and it is indicated -- his injuries are described
13 here. Now, my question to you is whether Nenad Andric was wounded in that
14 attack too?
15 A. Well, I don't know their names but I do know that three, I think
16 my colleagues from Zvornik, were wounded and I think these are the people
17 mentioned here.
18 MR. STOJANOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, could we then move
19 on to the next page, that's page 3 in the English, and page 28 in B/C/S?
20 It's the same document.
21 THE REGISTRAR: The English document has only two pages.
22 MR. STOJANOVIC: [Interpretation] Well, then it's page 2 of the
23 English document. Thank you.
24 Q. Mr. Stanojevic, again, under number 1483 and 1484, it is stated
25 that on the 13th of July 1995, at 4.45, two people were brought to the
1 health care centre in Bratunac, as Zarko Radic and Nenad Filipovic also
2 members of the Special Police from Zvornik and their injuries are
3 described here. It is also indicated that they sustained those wounds in
4 the area of Kravica. Do you see that?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Would we agree that this actually confirms what you were saying
7 yesterday that three people were wounded and this one man was killed?
8 A. Yes. That is correct.
9 Q. Thank you. Before you left this area on the 13th of July, did you
10 personally receive any instructions as to how you were to treat prisoners
11 of war?
12 A. No, I did not and neither did the colleagues from my squad, from--
13 or rather people from the Bratunac police station.
14 Q. And in the end let me just ask you, you know Ljubomir Borovcanin?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. In 1993, he was your commander in the police station in Bratunac;
17 is that correct?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Do you remember that in 1993, in fact, the paramilitary units from
20 Bratunac attacked the police station in Bratunac and on that occasion the
21 building sustained some damage and Ljubomir Borovcanin himself was
22 attacked in the police station?
23 A. Yes. I do remember that but I was not in the station at that
24 time. I remember, though, the event.
25 Q. Did you hear that the --
1 JUDGE AGIUS: One moment. What was the ethnicity of these
2 paramilitary units that attacked the police station in Bratunac in 1993?
3 MR. STOJANOVIC: [Interpretation]
4 Q. Let me ask you, since you have heard of this event, could you
5 please tell us what was the ethnic background of the paramilitaries that
6 attacked the police station in Bratunac?
7 A. They were Serbs.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: You mean Serbs from Serbia or Bosnian Serbs?
9 MR. STOJANOVIC: [Interpretation]
10 Q. Were these members of the paramilitary units from Serbia and from
11 Bosnia or from Serbia or from Bosnia?
12 A. I think that there were some people from Serbia there but mostly
13 they were Bosnian Serbs.
14 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay.
15 MR. STOJANOVIC: [Interpretation]
16 Q. Did you hear that this attack on the police station, and on the
17 authorities, was in fact repelled thanks to the citizens of Bratunac who
18 joined in to defend the police station and gave their support to the
20 A. Yes. There were a few citizens there. I don't know how many of
21 them. I came later once the attack was already over. We were called in
22 to go there and I spent the entire night there at the station.
23 Q. What was the attitude of the employees in the police station in
24 Bratunac and the citizens of Bratunac towards Mr. Borovcanin?
25 A. Well, he had a lot of respect, both as a man and as a commanding
2 Q. You were in the field often together with Ljubomir Borovcanin and
3 the Special Police Brigade carrying out various tasks?
4 A. Yes. That's correct. We sometimes encountered each other in the
6 Q. Were you ever able to observe or to hear of any illegal orders
7 issued by Mr. Ljubomir Borovcanin?
8 A. No.
9 MR. STOJANOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you very much, sir.
10 Your Honours, I have no further questions for this witness.
11 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. I'll ask again -- I had some indication
12 previously that the Beara, Miletic, Popovic, Nikolic, Gvero and -- not
13 Gvero and Pandurevic, wished to cross-examine this witness. Do you wish
14 to cross-examine this witness? Mr. Zivanovic has already indicated that
15 he doesn't.
16 Mr. Meek?
17 MR. MEEK: Mr. President, we have no questions.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. Madam Fauveau?
19 MS. NIKOLIC: [Interpretation] No questions, Your Honours.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you, Ms. Nikolic. And Madam Fauveau?
21 MS. FAUVEAU: [Interpretation] We also don't have any questions,
22 Your Honour.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: Can you confirm, Mr. Krgovic and Mr. Haynes, that
24 you don't wish to cross-examine this witness. Okay. But is there
25 re-examination, Mr. Thayer?
1 MR. THAYER: No, Mr. President.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. Thank you.
3 Mr. Stanojevic, we don't have any further questions for you, which
4 means that your testimony finishes here. Our staff will assist you to
5 facilitate your return back home at the earliest. On behalf of the
6 Trial Chamber I wish to thank you for having come over to give testimony,
7 and on behalf of everyone else I also wish you to -- I wish you a safe
8 journey back home.
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
10 [The witness withdrew]
11 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Documents? Mr. Thayer? You circulated
12 already a note.
13 MR. THAYER: Yes, Mr. President, the list consists of only the
14 exhibits that were marked in court, and that do not appear in the still
15 photo book which is an exhibit to an extent which is being filled as we go
16 along through the trial with identifications from other witnesses. In
17 other words, this witness identified a number of video stills which are in
18 that still book. We will not be tendering those particular photographs at
19 this point because we'll wait until later on in the trial when we've
20 identified as many of those photographs as we can, and then offer the full
21 book at that time. Therefore, the only remaining exhibits on this list
22 are those stills which weren't in that video still book plus whatever was
23 marked in court. That's why it's considerably shorter than the previous
24 list we distributed.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Thank you, Mr. Thayer. We have received
1 a copy of the list. Is there any objection from any of the Defence teams?
2 [Trial Chamber and registrar confer]
3 JUDGE AGIUS: Let's first see whether there is any -- there are
4 any objections to the admission of these documents. We hear none.
5 The thing is, Mr. Thayer, we are making verifications actually at
6 the moment but I'm being told that the book, the album of the stills, some
7 of which were made use of yesterday, hasn't been MFI'd as yet. I'm not in
8 a position to confirm or deny that, because I'm taken by surprise as much
9 as all of you presumably are. Yes?
10 MR. THAYER: Mr. President, that may actually be the case. We've
11 certainly referred to the book during the course of the examinations and
12 in exchanging the exhibit or distributing the exhibit lists and so forth.
13 For the record, it's P01936. It is in e-court. And we have referred to
14 portions of that so far during the trial.
15 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you.
16 [Trial Chamber and registrar confer]
17 JUDGE AGIUS: From what we can see, for the time being at least,
18 is that this document that is 1936 was not used, for example, with
19 Mr. Ruez, and it was not tendered with the witness -- with the evidence of
20 Mr. van Duijn.
21 MR. THAYER: I think that's correct, Mr. President.
22 JUDGE AGIUS: I think you will need to attend to this because it
23 can create administrative problems.
24 MR. THAYER: I would suggest perhaps that we do offer it right
25 now, marked for identification, and then we'll proceed as we have,
1 whatever we establish through the testimony of witnesses, we'll offer at
2 the end and whatever is not, we'll excise from the exhibit.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. Is there any objection from any of the
4 Defence teams to have it tendered now and marked for identification? We
5 hear none. Anyway, these are documents that will be made use of in due
6 course for sure by both sides. And they have already been made use of.
7 So that will be the case. So in addition to the documents that we have
8 dealt with today, you will include this one, Madam Registrar.
9 Just one moment, please.
10 [Trial Chamber confers]
11 JUDGE AGIUS: The position, and I thank Judge Kwon for taking the
12 trouble to go back in time, searching, is that indeed during the testimony
13 of Mr. van Duijn, you did refer the witness to 1936, saying, "I am going
14 to be referring to various video stills which are contained in 65 ter
15 1936. It's a book of still images from the trial video which I believe
16 was distributed to Your Honours and to Defence counsel as well." But in
17 actual fact it was never tendered to be marked for identification, not
18 even on that occasion. So I think we've solved the matter now. Again,
19 thank you, Judge Kwon. Thank you, Mr. Thayer, and also the Defence teams
20 for their cooperation.
21 Mr. Stojanovic, do you wish to tender any documents?
22 MR. STOJANOVIC: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour, just one, which
23 is the book of protocol of the health centre in Bratunac. It already
24 exists and has been used as 4DP01829 [sic], and we have also used it with
25 another witness. Now we would like to have it admitted as a Defence
1 exhibit. We want to use one part of the English translation, 4D00108.
2 And I have just been told that the number that I have just quoted for the
3 B/C/S version, 4DP01892, this is the correct number.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: 1892 or 1829? Because in line 24, it's 1829. Line
5 3, it's 1892. And previously, I think it was --
6 MR. STOJANOVIC: [Interpretation] I believe it is 1892, that that's
7 the correct number, should be.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: On page 8, line 7, it was also 1829. Now you're
9 maintaining that it is 1892? Is it correct, 1892? All right. So
10 whenever in the transcript we have 1829, that should be corrected and
11 changed into 1892. I thank you for that clarification, Mr. Stojanovic,
12 because otherwise we would have had a confusion. And to be precise,
13 you're referring to two pages from that document where we have the entries
14 that, 1481 to 1484, correct? Okay. Thank you. Any objection on your
15 part, Mr. Thayer?
16 MR. THAYER: No, Mr. President.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. So that document is so admitted. There
18 wasn't any other cross-examinations. So we can close this chapter here.
19 I think we will now need to withdraw to have consultations on the
20 urgent joint Defence motion and the response. We'll come back to you as
21 soon as we are ready. I can't anticipate how long, but I don't anticipate
22 it to be longer than --
23 [Trial Chamber confers]
24 JUDGE AGIUS: We intend to come back in roughly 20 minutes' time.
25 --- Break taken at 3.01 p.m.
1 --- On resuming at 3.27 p.m.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Josse?
3 MR. JOSSE: I'm loath to do this but there is no one here
4 representing General Pandurevic.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: All right.
6 MR. JOSSE: I'm quite happy to cover for them whilst Your Honour
7 gives this judgement. No, seriously. It's something that happens
8 commonly in my jurisdiction. I'm quite happy to cover for my English
10 JUDGE AGIUS: Is there a way how we could check? All right.
12 MR. HAYNES: I do apologise.
13 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Sarapa, don't do it again.
14 Yes. Here is our decision. It's an oral decision. Reasons will
15 follow in a written decision. Our decision, having considered the joint
16 Defence motion and the oral reply of the Prosecution is to dismiss the
17 motion and to proceed therefore with the testimony of Witness 128. I
18 apologise if previously I referred to him as Witness PW-128; it's just
19 Witness 128.
20 Yes, Mr. Nicholls?
21 MR. NICHOLLS: Just before the witness is brought in, Your
22 Honours, I wanted to raise the issue of Rule 90(E). Out of an abundance
23 of caution, it might be advisable to advise the witness.
24 JUDGE AGIUS: And there are no protective measures in place, are
1 MR. NICHOLLS: No, Your Honour.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay.
3 [The witness entered court]
4 JUDGE AGIUS: Good afternoon to you, Mr. Acimovic.
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good afternoon.
6 JUDGE AGIUS: On behalf of the Trial Chamber I wish to welcome
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: You are about to start giving evidence. Before you
10 do so, our rules require from you to make a solemn declaration that in the
11 course of your testimony you will be speaking the truth. The text is
12 being handed to you now. Please read it out aloud and that will be your
13 solemn confirmation and undertaking with us that you will be testifying
14 the truth.
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
16 the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
17 WITNESS: SRECKO ACIMOVIC
18 [Witness answered through interpreter]
19 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, Mr. Acimovic. Please make yourself
20 comfortable. Take a seat. I'll explain to you very briefly what's going
21 to happen.
22 Mr. Nicholls for the Office of the Prosecutor will be putting some
23 questions to you, after which he will be followed upon cross-examination
24 by the various Defence teams. I don't expect your testimony to finish
25 today, possibly not even tomorrow.
1 There is one thing that I need to alert you to, hoping that this
2 has already been mentioned to you and that you are aware of its import.
3 There is a possibility that in the course of your either
4 examination-in-chief or cross-examination, questions are put to you which,
5 if answered, might tend to incriminate you. I don't know if this will
6 happen or not, but in case such questions are put to you, you have a right
7 under our rules to draw to our attention this and to ask to be exempted
8 from answering such questions. This is not an absolute rule, however.
9 We, the Judges composing this Trial Chamber, the four of us, after hearing
10 submissions, have -- can decide either to grant you the exemption that you
11 may request or not to grant you the exemption. If we grant you the
12 exemption, obviously you don't answer that question or those questions.
13 If we don't grant you the exemption, that means that we will be compelling
14 you to answer those questions, which you will need to do. However, if you
15 are so compelled to make statements in reply to questions put to you,
16 whatever you say in that reply shall not, according to our rules, be used
17 as evidence against you in any subsequent Prosecution that might be taken
18 against you, unless we are talking of false testimony.
19 Is that clear?
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
21 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. Were you aware of this right before? Had you
22 been made? Were you made aware of this right?
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Partially. In any case, yes.
24 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Okay. So I think we can start with the
25 testimony. Mr. Nicholls? He's all yours.
1 MR. NICHOLLS: Thank you, Your Honour.
2 Examination by Mr. Nicholls:
3 Q. Good afternoon.
4 A. Good afternoon.
5 Q. Could you please tell us your full name.
6 A. Srecko Acimovic.
7 Q. Could you tell the Trial Chamber when you were born, sir.
8 A. 10 May 1967.
9 Q. And where were you born?
10 A. In Rocevic.
11 Q. And you are a Bosnian Serb by ethnicity; is that correct?
12 A. Yes, yes.
13 Q. What is your present occupation? What do you do for a living?
14 A. I work in the catering industry.
15 Q. What I want to ask you now are some questions about your military
16 background. Could you very briefly, for the Judges, outline your military
17 career from 1992 through the beginning of 1995? Just the positions you
19 A. When the war started in the former Bosnia-Herzegovina, which means
20 as of 1992, I was a foot soldier. I believe that in August 1992, I became
21 a company commander. In November 1992, pursuant to an order of the
22 brigade commander, I was appointed the commander of the 3rd Infantry
23 Battalion of the Zvornik Brigade. I remained in that position up to 1995,
24 i.e., until the end of the war.
25 Q. Thank you. And did the name of that battalion change over time,
1 and what was the name of the battalion you commanded in July 1995?
2 A. In the course of the war, the unit changed its name. The
3 2nd Infantry Battalion was its name in 1995.
4 Q. And where was the command? Where was the headquarters of the
5 2nd Battalion in 1995?
6 A. In the village of Malesic.
7 Q. In July 1995, where was your family home? Where were you living
8 when you weren't at the command?
9 A. In the village of Rocevic.
10 Q. Just so we know, approximately how far was the headquarters in
11 Malesici from Rocevic?
12 A. Some 14 kilometres or so.
13 Q. And in July 1995, did Rocevic fall within the area of
14 responsibility of the 2nd Battalion or would the 2nd Battalion be the
15 battalion that would deal with any military problems in Rocevic?
16 A. No.
17 Q. Which battalions would have been the ones to deal with that?
18 A. Look here, I've told you -- actually, I told you last time that I
19 believe that the village of Rocevic did not belong to any defence sector
20 of any of the infantry battalions, in light of the fact that the defence
21 sector of infantry battalions was usually ranging between three and five
22 kilometres. In any case, the village of Rocevic was located in the area
23 of defence of the Zvornik Brigade, and that is the case.
24 Q. Thank you. Now I want to ask you about a person named
25 Drago Nikolic. Did you know an officer named Drago Nikolic in July of
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. What was his position at that time?
4 A. The assistant brigade commander for intelligence and security.
5 Q. Now, speaking of the time period before July 1995, could you just
6 briefly describe your professional relationship with Drago Nikolic, how it
7 went when you worked with him?
8 A. It was a fair relationship, the relationship between me and
9 Drago Nikolic, when it came to our cooperation and our duties. We never
10 had any disagreements, so I would say that it was a fair relationship, a
11 correct relationship.
12 Q. Did you have any kind of personal relationship with him? Did you
13 ever have drinks with him or anything like that?
14 A. In the course of the war, we spent a lot of time together. The
15 war went on for a few years. I suppose we did socialise here and there.
16 We would have a drink together, and things of that kind.
17 Q. Did you know an officer named -- a VRS soldier or officer named
18 Milorad Trbic?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. How did you come to know him?
21 A. I came to know him in 1992, I believe, when they moved into
22 Zvornik. He was assigned to my unit as a foot soldier. I'm talking about
23 the year 1992.
24 Q. Did you still know him in July 1995?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Do you recall what his position was at that time?
2 A. I believe that he was one of Drago Nikolic's assistants.
3 Q. I want to now direct your attention and ask you some questions
4 about events --
5 JUDGE KWON: Can I get his rank at the time?
6 MR. NICHOLLS: Of?
7 JUDGE KWON: Did he answer that?
8 MR. NICHOLLS: The witness's rank or Mr. Trbic's?
9 JUDGE KWON: The witness's.
10 MR. NICHOLLS: Thank you, Your Honour.
11 Q. Could you tell us your rank in July 1995 when you were battalion
13 A. I was a reserve lieutenant.
14 MR. NICHOLLS: Thank you, Your Honour.
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Otherwise --
16 MR. NICHOLLS:
17 Q. I want to ask you some questions now.
18 JUDGE KWON: Could you ask Mr. Trbic's rank as well?
19 MR. NICHOLLS:
20 Q. Did you know Mr. Trbic's rank in July 1995?
21 A. I believe that he was also reserve lieutenant.
22 Q. I'm going to ask you some questions about the days soon after the
23 fall of Srebrenica or the liberation of Srebrenica, those events. Do you
24 remember - and it's okay if you don't - but do you remember the
25 approximate date of the fall of Srebrenica?
1 A. In 1995, in the month of July, I suppose.
2 Q. At about the time of the fall of Srebrenica and the days
3 afterwards, can you briefly tell us what kind of combat tasks were facing
4 your battalion, what you were most occupied with?
5 A. We were mostly occupied with the fortification of the front lines
6 of our positions there. While this was going on, we had to move the front
7 lines of our defence of the infantry company and the defence line was
8 moved to provide for better tactical positions in front of the Serbian
9 villages of Vitinica and Odzacina.
10 Q. Thank you. And during this time, after the fall of Srebrenica,
11 the week following, did you become aware of any prisoners being held in
12 the area of the brigade, the Zvornik Brigade?
13 A. Please repeat the question.
14 Q. During the days following the fall of Srebrenica did you become
15 aware of prisoners being held anywhere in the area of the Zvornik Brigade?
16 A. As I've already told you, in my previous statements, I learned
17 about prisoners being held in the village of Rocevic.
18 Q. Could you please tell the Trial Chamber how you learned that
19 information, who you learned it from, how you came to learn that?
20 A. One of those days, I went home just briefly to take a bath. I
21 left my unit sometime around 2000 hours. I'm talking about the period
22 between 2000 and 2100 hours. When I came home and did what I had come to
23 do, in my family house I was visited by the priest of the Rocevic local
24 commune and the president of the Rocevic local commune. They asked me if
25 I had any information about prisoners who were in the gym of the Rocevic
1 elementary school. Since I had never heard of those prisoners before, I
2 was taken back by that question, and when they briefly informed me about
3 what this was all about, together with them I went to the Rocevic school,
4 and there I convinced myself that there were indeed prisoners there in the
5 gym of that school.
6 Q. Thank you. Can you please tell us -- well, first of all, when the
7 president of the local commune and the priest came to you, did they say
8 anything about these prisoners, what they thought about these prisoners
9 being held in the school? What was their feeling about that?
10 A. Rather uncomfortable. They also told me that a woman had been
11 wounded not far from the elementary school, and that there was a lot of
12 panic going around all day in the part of the village where the school
13 was, in view of the events that were going on there.
14 Q. Now, the woman who was injured, did you learn where that woman was
15 from? And what I mean was: Was that a prisoner or was that a local
16 person? Who was the woman?
17 A. That woman was also a Rocevic local. She had been standing in
18 front of her family house. She had been washing dishes at a well, and she
19 was hit and wounded there and then.
20 Q. And just to be clear for the record, I think your answer was clear
21 but hit and wounded by what? What hit her?
22 A. A sort of infantry weapon.
23 Q. And you mean that she was physically hit with a weapon or hit with
24 a bullet from an infantry weapon?
25 A. A bullet, in any case, yes.
1 Q. As best you can, from what you remember, can you describe the
2 scene at the school when you got there, who you saw, what you saw going
4 A. As I arrived in front of the elementary school, I saw unknown
5 soldiers. They were disheveled and their clothes did not look very neat.
6 Some of them were actually bare-chested. Some were wearing T-shirts or
7 military blouses. And they acted very strange. I tried to communicate
8 with them, to see what was going on and where the prisoners had come from,
9 who had brought them to the elementary school. They would not talk to me
10 about that. I insisted upon receiving information, and I used a somewhat
11 more commanding tone in that communication, but they still refused to talk
12 to me, and then I asked them if any of their commanders or commanding
13 officers were there to give me information with this regard. They told me
14 that I couldn't talk to them, that they did not have any obligation
15 towards me.
16 At one point, since I was rather brash in that conversation, one
17 of those soldiers raised his rifle and pointed it in my direction. I
18 realised at that moment that - how shall I put it? - that those soldiers
19 were under some sort of influence, alcohol or narcotics. In any case,
20 their behaviour was rather erratic.
21 Q. Did you personally go into the gym of the school?
22 A. I did not go to the gym. I entered a school-yard with the priest
23 and the president of the local commune.
24 Q. Did you see any prisoners with your own eyes while you were there
25 at that occasion?
1 A. No. But I could hear them.
2 Q. What could you hear?
3 A. I heard shouts from the gym. People were screaming for water.
4 They wanted to go to the bathroom. The temperatures were running very
5 high around that time. They had certain requests, and I could hear those.
6 Q. How long did you stay at the school when you went there with the
7 president and the priest?
8 A. At that moment, I suppose that that conversation and my contact
9 with the aforementioned soldiers went on for about half an hour or so.
10 Q. And please tell us, when you left the school, where did you go
11 next and what did you decide to do after having seen the situation in your
12 home village?
13 A. I went back to join my unit. From there, I was going to call the
14 brigade command to see if they knew anything and to inform them what was
15 going on in Rocevic. But then it occurred to me that in my former
16 logistics unit, there was a telephone that was in Kozluk. I arrived in
17 that office and from there I called the duty operations officer, the duty
18 operations officer of the Zvornik Brigade, that is.
19 Q. So approximately what time would it be -- I know it was a long
20 time ago, but roughly, when you made this phone call?
21 A. I told you that I was at the school sometime between 2000 and 2100
22 hours, and since I spent some 30 minutes talking to the soldiers, it could
23 have been any time between 2030 or 2130. I suppose, I'm not sure when I
24 had arrived there but I suppose that this would be about the right time
25 when I made that telephone call.
1 Q. Okay. Now, do you know the name of the Zvornik Brigade duty
2 officer you spoke to? Sorry.
3 A. No. I suppose that at that very moment I knew who was on the
4 other end, but I can't remember who it was as I sit here today. I only
5 know that when I called him, I wanted to ask him where and how come these
6 people were in the gym in the Rocevic school. He told me that he didn't
7 know anything about that, and then I also lost my patience and I asked him
8 whether he knew at all what was going on down there, and I explained to
9 him what was going on. I told him that the people who were guarding, I
10 suppose, a large number of soldiers, were behaving erratically, that they
11 had wounded that woman. Then he told me, and I could recognise in his
12 voice that he was scared, he told me that he didn't know anything about
13 that, that he was not abreast of the situation, which made me assume that
14 somebody was standing next to him and that he was not free to discuss that
15 topic, and then I started shouting at him, literally shouting.
16 MR. MEEK: May it please the Court, I object to this witness
17 speculating like this, reading people's minds and assuming things.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: Let's first make things clear. I don't like - and
19 I'm sure my colleagues agree with me - interrupting the witness while he
20 is giving testimony, unless it's a special case that needs interruption.
21 And this certainly is not the case because the witness is not speculating.
22 He is telling us what conclusion he came to at the time when he was on the
23 phone with this person. This is not speculation. He may have been wrong,
24 he may have been right, but this is -- was his feeling at the time when he
25 was talking or speaking to this person. And of course, you can ask
1 questions to the witness on cross-examination on whether he was
2 speculating or not. Please don't interrupt the witness in the course of
3 his answer unless it is absolutely imperative.
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Can I continue?
5 MR. NICHOLLS:
6 Q. Yes, please. You were just saying how you started shouting at the
7 duty officer. If you could you tell us what happened next in this
9 A. Then I asked if the brigade commander or the Chief of Staff were
10 there, and I insisted to be put into contact with them. But the duty
11 officer told me that the commander was not there and neither was the Chief
12 of Staff. I then said that if he gets in touch with either of the two,
13 that he must tell them about what was happening in Rocevic and tell them
14 to contact me, to call me.
15 Q. Is this when you say Chief of Staff, who are you referring to?
16 Just for the record, can you give us the name of that person?
17 A. Dragan Obrenovic.
18 Q. And then did you continue the conversation? Was there any more
19 information exchanged?
20 A. Yes. I then asked if there is anyone there besides the duty
21 officer or besides the duty officer that I could discuss this topic with
22 in the brigade headquarters, because I realised that there was nothing he
23 could do and I assumed, because he was telling me that he did not know
24 what was happening, and he told me that Vujadin Popovic had arrived just
25 at that very moment.
1 Q. What was Vujadin Popovic's position at this time, if you know?
2 A. I think he was -- in fact, he was the assistant commander for
3 intelligence and security in the corps, the Drina Corps.
4 Q. And then what happened?
5 A. I explained to him what I had learned in Rocevic, and I told him
6 what was happening down there at the school, that the soldiers were
7 killing the prisoners in front of the school there. The school was in the
8 centre of the village. I told him that they had no control over the
9 situation at all, and that there could be a general disaster and tragedy,
10 things like that. And he told me that I should not put things in such
11 dramatic terms, that I should calm down, and that those prisoners would be
12 exchanged the next morning.
13 Q. Let me stop you for one second. You've just explained a little
14 conversation you had and you said that you told him, and -- about the
15 situation at the school. What you've just said, are you talking about
16 talking to the duty officer or to Officer Popovic, what you just
18 A. With Popovic. The duty officer put me through to him or rather he
19 handed him the phone and I talked to him then, because he introduced
20 himself to me when he talked to me.
21 Q. And did Mr. Popovic tell you anything else about the prisoners or
22 what would happen other than that they would be exchanged in the morning?
23 A. No. Not at that time.
24 Q. Did he seem surprised when you told him about the prisoners at the
1 A. No. But since he gave me the answer that those prisoners would be
2 exchanged the next day, so he must have known what prisoners I was talking
4 Q. And what did you do after this conversation which you were having?
5 JUDGE KWON: Could we pause there, if I can interrupt? It's page
6 30, lines from 4 to 5, it's explanation of the witness to the duty
7 operations officer -- to Popovic. The witness said that he had seen or
8 the -- I'll read it. "I told him what was happening down there at the
9 school, that the soldiers were killing the prisoners in front of the
10 school there." I'm not sure whether the witness told us that he had seen
11 those killings. Could you clarify with the witness?
12 MR. NICHOLLS: He did not say that in his prior testimony,
13 Your Honour.
14 Q. Could you -- but we were getting to that. Could you explain,
15 please, sir, how you got that information about prisoners being killed at
16 the school that you relayed to Vujadin Popovic?
17 A. I first got this information from the president of the local
18 commune and the priest. They had come to talk to me because of that.
19 That's why they came to see me in my house. And they told me that on that
20 occasion, while those prisoners were being killed, that this woman was
21 wounded, as I described earlier.
22 JUDGE KWON: Thank you.
23 MR. NICHOLLS:
24 Q. Thank you, sir. Now, could you please tell us, going on through
25 the chronology of events, what did you do next after this phone call which
1 took place where you -- after your phone call you made from Kozluk? Where
2 did you go next?
3 A. I went back to Rocevic again to tell the president of the local
4 commune and the priest that the prisoners would be taken away to be
5 exchanged, that they would be exchanged the next day, in order to
6 alleviate their concerns, the concerns in the village, because there was
7 widespread panic there because of these events that I just described, what
8 I've just described.
9 So I got in touch with them when I came back from Kozluk, with the
10 president, but I told these soldiers that those prisoners would be
11 exchanged tomorrow and that it would be good to give some water to the
12 prisoners in the gym, and to allow them to give them what they were asking
13 for, the things that I had heard when I was in the courtyard in front of
14 the gym. But they didn't even want to discuss this topic at all, and they
15 rejected this possibility out of hand. So I and the president of the
16 local commune made the efforts again to persuade those soldiers to let the
17 prisoners have some water and to allow them to go out and to use the
18 toilet, or at least to give them some containers, some adequate containers
19 that could be used for this purpose.
20 After about 15 minutes, we reached an agreement, or, rather, they
21 agreed that the prisoners should be given some water and that some
22 containers should be given to them for their physical needs, and the
23 president of the local commune stayed there to get some of those jerrycans
24 with water and to get those containers for them and I went back to my
1 Q. Thank you. And for the record, can you tell us the name of the
2 president of the local commune who you've been referring to, if you
3 remember it?
4 A. Milan Nikolic.
5 Q. Now, when you got back to your battalion command, what did you do?
6 Did you have any discussions with anybody? What was going on there?
7 A. Yes. I informed my close associates.
8 Q. And can you tell us, as far as you remember, who you informed,
9 what their names are, what their positions were?
10 A. I think I met Vujo Lazarevic, and Mitar Lazarevic.
11 Mitar Lazarevic was the general affairs officer, and Vujo Lazarevic was
12 the assistant battalion commander for morale and religious affairs. I
13 remember that I told them, and I didn't have the deputy at that time. My
14 previous deputy had been demobilised, and the assistant for security was
15 out in the field.
16 Q. And did you make any reports to the Zvornik Brigade command after
17 this second visit to the school? Or talk to anybody there?
18 A. Again, when I returned to the unit, I contacted the duty officer.
19 I asked him again whether the commander or the Chief of Staff had arrived
20 in the meantime. I asked to be put in contact with him. But I got
21 similar replies as in my brief attempt, as I just described, that the
22 Chief of Staff was not available, that he was out in the field, that they
23 couldn't get in touch with him, things like that. And I also left a
24 message that if they should manage to get in touch with the commander or
25 the Chief of Staff, that they should notify me.
1 Q. And did you talk to anybody on that phone call besides the duty
2 officer? Did you talk to anybody else at the Zvornik Brigade in the
3 second telephone call?
4 A. I spoke to the duty officer, as I've already mentioned.
5 Q. My question is anybody else that you remember speaking to on the
6 second call?
7 A. That was later, when I got back. I had this conversation during
8 the night.
9 Q. Okay. We'll get to that. So just to be clear, did you -- the
10 conversation you described with -- having with Mr. Popovic, is that the
11 only conversation you had with him that night, with Mr. Popovic, or was
12 there any others?
13 A. I think that was the only time that we spoke in that night.
14 Q. Going on through this night, after you've returned from the school
15 the second time, did you receive any orders during the night from the
16 Zvornik Brigade, your battalion?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. What time was this that you received an order?
19 A. It was before midnight -- after midnight. I think it was between
20 1.00 and 2.00 a.m.
21 Q. Can you describe that for us, please? What orders you received,
22 how you received them and what happened?
23 JUDGE AGIUS: And where was he at the time?
24 MR. NICHOLLS: Thank you. I thought he'd said he was --
25 Q. This is while you are still back at the battalion command.
1 MR. NICHOLLS: He said he'd gone there, Your Honour.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: It's whether he was still there when he received the
4 MR. NICHOLLS: I apologise.
5 Q. Where were you when you received these orders or became aware of
6 these orders around 2.00 a.m.?
7 A. In the battalion command, when we received the telegram.
8 Q. And tell us what the telegram said.
9 A. The telegram said that a platoon of soldiers should be detached,
10 and that they should be used for the execution of the prisoners.
11 Q. Where was this telegram sent from, just to be very clear?
12 A. I think it was sent from the Zvornik Brigade, that the duty
13 officer sent it, or somebody else who was at the Zvornik Brigade command
14 at the time.
15 Q. And just to be clear, this telegram, how is that received? Is
16 that over a phone line or radio or handed by courier? How does that
17 telegram come to you at the 2nd Battalion?
18 A. This telegram was received over the telephone but it was
19 encrypted, the telegram was encrypted.
20 Q. And what was your reaction to receiving this telegram ordering you
21 to put together a platoon of soldiers to be used to execute prisoners?
22 What did you do?
23 A. Well, at that time, I was asleep, and the duty officer at the
24 battalion command who received the telegram woke me up. I was told I
25 should get up, I should go down. They woke me up. I went down. The
1 telegram had already been decoded by the time I went there to the duty
2 officer's room, and they told me about the contents of the telegram. I
3 took the telegram, I read it. We were taken aback. We were simply
4 flabbergasted that something like that could be asked of us. We were
5 simply in a state of shock. We couldn't believe that something like that
6 could be asked of anyone.
7 Q. And what did you decide to do?
8 A. I consulted my associates, the ones that I mentioned. We said
9 that we would not be detaching any of our personnel for that purpose. We
10 wrote a telegram. We indicated that we don't have any personnel for that
11 person [as interpreted] and we were also asked to inform the company
12 commanders about the contents of the telegram.
13 JUDGE KWON: Mr. Nicholls, if you could clarify with the witness
14 whether the telegram was in the form of an order and under whose name it
15 was written.
16 MR. NICHOLLS: Yes, Your Honour.
17 Q. I think you've heard His Honour's question. If you could tell us,
18 was this telegram an order? First, did you take it as an order?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. And do you know who the person signing the telegram was or whose
21 authority it purported it was under, if there was a name on the telegram
22 of who was making this order to you?
23 A. I described this in my statements that I gave in Banja Luka when I
24 was questioned there. In light of the contents of the telegram, and I've
25 already told you what was in there, it really shocked us. So we focused
1 on the contents of the telegram itself, and I didn't pay any attention to
2 the signatory. I may have seen it at that time, but I simply forgot all
3 about it later.
4 Q. Let me ask you a question just so that the transcript is clear.
5 You said that you sent a telegram and you indicated that: " ... we don't
6 have personnel," and in our transcript it says, "for that person." Is
7 that right or is it for that task or that assignment or something else?
8 It says you didn't have any personnel for that person, in line -- page 36,
9 line 8.
10 A. No. We sent a telegram that we didn't have any personnel for that
12 Q. Thank you. And where did you send this telegram to?
13 A. To the duty officer in the brigade. I think we sent it to the
14 duty officer. Or the assistant for security and intelligence.
15 Q. Now, did you receive any response to your telegram that you had
16 sent back to the brigade stating that men were unavailable for this
18 A. We received yet another telegram. I think it was within 45
19 minutes or maybe an hour. And again, the contents were the same and it
20 was stated that personnel had to be detached for this purpose and that I
21 should personally inform the company commanders about the contents of the
22 telegram but I think that in this telegram, it actually did say explicitly
23 that the company commanders should be informed about it and so, in other
24 words, the battalion command should be informed about it and the company
1 Q. And what did you do about informing the company commanders?
2 A. I think that the telegram indicated that company commanders should
3 be notified and that the communications section had already forwarded this
4 telegram to the company commanders, but now it was emphasised that I
5 personally should inform them about it. I again consulted my assistants
6 in the battalion command, and we took a very firm stand that we would not
7 be detaching any of our men for this purpose, and I got in touch with the
8 company commanders and I asked them if they had received the telegram. I
9 think I asked them if they had received the telegram. And they confirmed
10 that, yes, they had. I explained to them what agreement we had reached at
11 the battalion command, that we would refuse to obey this order, and I told
12 them that I had called them just to notify them, and so that if anyone
13 from the brigade were to check, they were to say that they had been
14 notified and we didn't ask them to supply any personnel for this purpose,
15 we merely notified them about the contents of the telegram. And I asked
16 for their support, if anything should happen because of our refusal to
17 obey this order.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: One moment. Let's pause here for the time being.
19 Now, when you say, "I again consulted my assistants in the
20 battalion command," are you referring to the two Lazarevics?
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, yes. I remember that they were
23 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. And then when you say, "I then got in
24 touch with the company commanders," could you tell us who they were,
25 please? Could you tell us their names?
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Dragan Stjepanovic, the commander of
2 the 1st Infantry Company for -- I'm not sure about the other two company
3 commanders. I don't know whether I spoke to the company commanders or
4 their assistants. I think that the commander of the 3rd Infantry Company
5 was not there in our unit at the time, and I also think that the commander
6 of the 2nd Infantry Company was in the field, but he was not in the
7 Zvornik Brigade area of responsibility. So I may have talked either to
8 the company commander or to their deputies.
9 MR. NICHOLLS:
10 Q. Could you please, if you remember, tell us the names of the
11 company commanders for the 2nd and 3rd companies?
12 A. The commander of the 2nd Infantry Company, Miroslav Stankovic.
13 The 3rd Infantry Company, Milan Radic.
14 Q. Thank you. Now, after receiving this second telegram, with
15 essentially the same orders, did you respond to that? Did you notify the
16 brigade of your decision to -- that you would not obey that order?
17 A. We forwarded that response back, and our response was negative as
18 it was the time before.
19 Q. Now, after sending this second telegram back, again, saying that
20 you would not do this, did you receive any other communications from the
21 Zvornik Brigade that night into the next morning on this subject?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Could you explain that for us, please?
24 A. Drago Nikolic get into contact with me using a civilian telephone
25 line. After we had sent our negative response back, in the telegram we
1 said that we did not have enough people for that. Then Drago Nikolic
2 called me personally using the civilian telephone line. That line existed
3 in the battalion command.
4 Q. What time did Drago Nikolic call you at the battalion command, as
5 best you can remember, approximately?
6 A. Approximately at 2.30. I cannot pinpoint the time. I can't say
7 exactly what the time was at the moment.
8 Q. That's fine. If you remember, and if you don't, that's fine too,
9 but about how long was it after you had sent back the second telegram to
10 the brigade, again refusing to take part in this?
11 A. Some ten minutes or so.
12 Q. As best you remember, what did Drago Nikolic say to you during
13 that telephone conversation?
14 A. When Drago Nikolic called me, he told me that the order had to be
15 carried out. I told him that we did not have enough people for that. And
16 I also told him that we would not carry out the order, and I told him
17 exactly this. "What's the matter with you? Drago, how can you ask us to
18 do something of that sort?" This was the context of our conversation more
19 or less.
20 He told me that the order had come from above, using these words,
21 and that this should be done. A platoon had to be allocated for that. He
22 put a pressure on me. He told me that I had to carry out that order, that
23 I could not refuse to carry out that order. Again, like the previous
24 time, in the telegram that we had sent back to the brigade, I told him
25 again that we did not have enough people for that and that we were not in
1 a position to allocate anybody for that purpose.
2 Q. How long was this conversation? As best as you can remember, how
3 long were you on the phone with Drago Nikolic?
4 A. Well, some ten minutes or so.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: To avoid any possible confusion, 2.30, you were
6 talking of 2.30 at night and not 2.30 in the afternoon? 2.30 in the
8 MR. NICHOLLS:
9 Q. This would be 2.30 in the morning after these events; is that
10 correct, witness?
11 A. Yes, yes.
12 Q. Now, did Drago Nikolic at the end of this -- well, during this
13 conversation, did he tell you what was going to happen next or give you
14 any ultimatums or how did he leave it with what was going to happen?
15 A. He told me again, as we were drawing our conversation to an end,
16 that before 7.00 in the morning, we should do everything that we possibly
17 could to allocate people for that purpose, that our deadline was 7.00 in
18 the morning. He also told me on that occasion, as our conversation was
19 drawing to an end, that we would speak again around 7.00 or 8.00 in the
20 morning. His intention was to check what I had done with this regard.
21 Q. Now, did you have -- what happened at 7.00 a.m.? Did you have any
22 communication from the brigade?
23 A. At 7.00 or at 8.00, Drago called again. He asked me whether we
24 had assigned a group of men, whether we had executed the order. I told
25 him again, like on the other few times, that we had not and we would not
1 assign anybody to that task.
2 Q. Can you describe, as best you can, as you remember,
3 Drago Nikolic's voice and manner while he was talking to you on this
5 A. He was putting pressure on me. He was talking in high tones. As
6 far as I can remember, he was swearing a lot.
7 Q. And did he give you any advice of any kind about how to actually
8 conduct this operation other than putting, again telling you to get the
9 men together? Did he give you any instruction, direction or advice on
10 what you should do to accomplish this task? You personally.
11 A. He told me this: "If [Realtime transcript read in error "In"]
12 you're not capable of getting these men together, I will personally do it
13 with my battalion command." I responded to that that I had stopped even
14 thinking about that order.
15 Q. At any time did he suggest to you that you should personally take
16 part in carrying out these executions?
17 JUDGE AGIUS: Objection sustained. That's a --
18 MR. BOURGON: It's a leading question, I don't want to interrupt
19 but there are limits, Mr. President.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: You don't need to. We allow leading questions when
21 there is no objection but when there is a founded objection, you either
22 skip the question or you rephrase the question.
23 MR. NICHOLLS:
24 Q. Do you remember anything else he told you about, about this job of
25 executing prisoners?
1 A. Please explain. What do you mean?
2 Q. You've explained about how he said, "If you're not capable of
3 getting these men together," I'm just asking you if you remember, did he
4 say anything else about the way in which these executions should be
5 carried out or what you should do personally in order to make sure they
6 are carried out?
7 A. I believe that he wanted to put pressure on us when he told us
8 that we should personally carry that out. He, I suppose, wanted us to be
9 more serious about the whole thing. He wanted us to try harder in order
10 to find men who would do it. I believe that this was what he wanted to
11 achieve in that conversation.
12 Q. And did he tell you to go anywhere or do anything during this
14 A. Towards the end of that conversation, he also told me that I
15 should personally wait for him in the school in Rocevic at 9.00 or 10.00
16 in the morning. I told him then -- I asked him actually whether he was
17 aware of the fact that I was not in a position to abandon my unit given
18 the situation that they were -- that we were in. I reminded him of the
19 telegrams that he -- that we had received during the night announcing an
20 attack on the 2nd Infantry Battalion, and I also reminded him that we
21 could expect an attack from the rear in the direction of Klisa and
22 Boskovic, i.e., in the direction of the 2nd and the 3rd Infantry
23 Battalions. I informed him about all that. I told him what my orders had
24 been. I told him that I was not supposed to leave my command post because
25 my deputy was not there, my assistant for security was not there, I was by
1 myself literally. I was the only person in the battalion command with my
2 two assistants. And I told him that I was not supposed to leave the
3 command position given the situation that we were in. My defence sector
4 had not been reinforced because we had just moved our defence line. There
5 was a lot of confusion going on during that period of time in the entire
6 area, in the units, that there were. In addition to all that, and despite
7 everything that I told him, he told me that I should personally be in
8 Rocevic. He told me that this was my order, that I should personally be
9 there and that he would be waiting for me at either 9.00 or 10.00. Now
10 I'm not sure whether he said 9.00 or 10.00.
11 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Nicholls, we need to have a break now. It will
12 be a shorter break than usual, just 20 minutes. And then we will resume
13 and continue until 6.00.
14 --- Recess taken at 4.47 p.m.
15 --- On resuming at 5.09 p.m.
16 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Nicholls.
17 MR. NICHOLLS: Thank you, Your Honours. It appears there was a
18 translation error and an error in the transcript and I've discussed this
19 with my colleagues, especially those who speak Serbian on the other side
20 and they've confirmed that there was an error. This is at lines 42 --
21 page 42 excuse me, lines 5 to 7. The transcript reads, "He told me this:
22 "In" - I think it should be if, if - "you're not capable of getting these
23 men together, I will personally do it with my battalion command."
24 What I'm told the witness said was, "If you're not capable of
25 getting these men together, you should personally do it with your
1 battalion command." In other words, that Mr. Nikolic did not say that he
2 would personally come down but that the witness should personally do it
3 with his men from the battalion command.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: Let me first ask the witness whether he confirms
5 this. Mr. Acimovic, do you confirm that this is what you actually stated?
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Could you please repeat all that so
7 that I can answer your question?
8 JUDGE AGIUS: I'll go through it myself. While you are testifying
9 in your own language, we are receiving interpretation either in English or
10 in French. It's being suggested that a part of what you said has been
11 wrongly translated to us. What we have in the transcript -- what we have
12 in the transcript is supposedly wrong. What we have in the transcript is
13 as follows: That while you were on the phone with Drago Nikolic, he told
14 you, if you are not capable of getting these men together, I will
15 personally do it with my battalion. Mr. Nikolic [sic] is suggesting that
16 this is not what you actually said but. What you said you heard
17 Mr. Nikolic telling you was if you are not capable of getting these men
18 together, then you will -- you should personally do it with your battalion
20 Is that what you actually said?
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, yes.
22 JUDGE AGIUS: All right.
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
24 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. Is there any of the Defence team that
25 disagrees with this, particularly the Nikolic Defence team?
1 Go ahead, Mr. Acimovic.
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I apologise. Can I
3 please repeat what I actually said once already?
4 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, by all means.
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] When Drago told me, "If you are not
6 able to put a group of men together for that person [as interpreted] then
7 you have to do it personally, you and your associates." I believe that he
8 wanted to put additional pressure on me when he said that. He wanted me
9 to take things really seriously, and allocate some of my men for that
11 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. Are there any of the Defence teams that
12 wish to comment on this? And you can proceed, Mr. Nicholls, with your
13 next question.
14 JUDGE KWON: I would note that on line 9 on previous page,
15 "Mr. Nikolic" should read "Mr. Nicholls".
16 MR. NICHOLLS: Thank you.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: I don't know if there are any objections to that on
18 your part, Mr. Nicholls.
19 MR. NICHOLLS: No, Your Honour.
20 Q. Now, following this conversation at approximately 7.00 a.m. that
21 you've just described with Drago Nikolic, did you discuss this
22 conversation with anyone, what he had told you? Now talking about the
23 7.00 a.m. conversation when you said, "You've got to put together this
24 squad, you should do it yourself if you can't put the men together." Did
25 you discuss that conversation with anybody?
1 A. Yes. I spoke to my two associates. We consulted each other and a
2 conclusion was that I should again try and get in touch with the Chief of
3 Staff and that I should inform him about the orders that I had been given.
4 But despite all that, I emphasise again we had firmly decided not to
5 allocate any men for that task, and that we would personally not be
6 involved, not a single soldier of my unit would get involved in those
7 things. In other words, we would not carry out the order that we had been
8 given. I called the duty operations officer again. I asked to be put
9 through at any cost to the Chief of Staff. I assumed at the time, I
10 suspected that there was a way of getting in touch with him. I asked the
11 duty operations officer to talk to the chief himself if he could, to get
12 back to me if possible and things like that.
13 I also informed the duty operations officer about the situation.
14 I notified him, but he couldn't be of any assistance. I've already told
15 you that he sounded afraid and confused to me. I realised that he could
16 not help me in any way with that matter. After that, I consulted my
17 associates, I gave them certain tasks relative to the combat readiness of
18 the unit. If there was an attack while I was absent, I made sure that
19 everything would be put in place in order to avoid any surprises. After
20 all that, at 9.00 or maybe 10.00, I went to Rocevic on my own, to see what
21 Drago wanted from me.
22 Q. Who was at the school when you got to Rocevic school? Who did you
23 see there?
24 A. Down there, I met up with Vujadin Popovic. In other words, Drago
25 wasn't there. He wasn't waiting for me down there, although he had
1 promised he would be there. Instead of him, I met up with Popovic.
2 Q. As best you remember, exactly where did you meet up with
3 Vujadin Popovic at the school? Outside? Inside? Can you describe that
4 for us, please?
5 A. I believe that we met up in front of the school. He told me to
6 get into the school, to one of the offices there. I have to tell you that
7 the school was open, the door was open. We went to one of the offices on
8 the first floor.
9 Q. Now, you talked about being informed that there were shootings
10 going on at the school. Did you see any corpses or injured people when
11 you went to the school that morning around 10.00?
12 A. Yes. When I arrived down there, the chaos had progressed. There
13 were a lot more unknown people, unfamiliar faces, in the school-yard.
14 Also, as I was passing by, I saw that there were some dead bodies,
15 corpses, lying around on the grass in front of the school bathroom.
16 Q. If you can tell us, if you remember, approximately how many
17 corpses did you see on the grass there?
18 A. I can't give you a precise answer to that question, but I think
19 that there may have been at least a dozen corpses lying around.
20 Q. Now, thank you. You talked -- you stated that you went into one
21 of the offices on the first floor with Mr. Popovic. What happened next?
22 What transpired in the office?
23 A. Already in the school courtyard, he had started shouting, as soon
24 as we met. He kept on asking me why I did not bring any men? And this
25 continued while we were climbing up the stairs to that office. He also
1 started putting pressure on me. He was swearing a lot. He kept on asking
2 me why I hadn't brought any soldiers with me, the soldiers that had been
3 requested from me. He started threatening me that I would be held
4 responsible for not carrying out an order.
5 The conversation continued, i.e., his threats continued. I told
6 him that during the previous night I had told it very loud and clear that
7 I would not allocate people for that purpose and that he could do whatever
8 he wanted as far as I was concerned and I repeated that I would not
9 allocate any soldier for that purpose, nor would I participate in anything
10 contained in that order. He started swearing again. He reminded me
11 that -- and he said it in approximately these words, "Fuck you. Do you
12 know what happened to the Serbs in Kravica and other Serb villages which
13 were torched and which are around Srebrenica?"
14 I told him, "Yes, I know. I know what happened there, because I
15 am one of the rare people who went to help those villagers. I went there
16 to help them when this was going on. I'm well familiar with the
17 situation. I know what happened to these villagers but that has nothing
18 to do with what you are requesting me to do." I told him then, "No matter
19 what the price will be to pay, I am not going to be involved. I'm not
20 going to participate in any of that." During that conversation, he left
21 the office, he gave instructions to some of his soldiers, of the soldiers
22 who were down there, and so on and so forth.
23 Q. Now, during this -- I'll call it a conversation, but this
24 difficult situation you were in, in this office in the school, was there
25 anybody else present or was it just you and Vujadin Popovic? Is there
1 anybody else present around there listening to this or observing this
3 A. It is possible that there was somebody, some of his soldiers, but
4 I'm not sure. I don't know whether there was anybody there, whether any
5 of his soldiers were there. I assume that there were but I'm not sure.
6 Q. And did he tell you to do anything else, to do anything else
7 because you had said you were not going to provide men from your
9 A. Cursing all the time and swearing all the time, he told me that it
10 was just impossible that none of my men wanted to take part in all that.
11 I also told him, and I asked him whether he was aware of the situation
12 that my unit was, the unit that I had left in my defence sector. An
13 attack could have ensued any moment from the rear of our lines. I told
14 him that. I also told him that I had to go back to my unit.
15 Q. And what did Mr. Popovic do then, if anything, to take care of the
16 problem that there weren't any people there willing to take part in the
17 executions? What did he do?
18 A. He was putting pressure on me all this time. He continued doing
19 so. He insisted on me trying to go down there, to talk to somebody, to
20 talk to somebody in the school-yard, as there were a lot of different
21 soldiers there. I've already told you that I saw them as I was coming in.
22 I told him I wouldn't do that, that I would not ask anybody to do any such
23 thing. He kept on insisting. He literally forced me to go down to the
24 school-yard and to see whether there was anybody, any individual, who
25 wanted, who was willing to take part in all that. I did that. I went
1 downstairs, but I was adamant in my mind that I would not ask any of the
2 men who were present there.
3 I remember that somebody approached me and asked me what was going
4 on, and I just told that person, within that context, what the lunatics
5 were asking for me to do. And this is exactly what I called them and I
6 told that person that I would not take part in any of that thing. I
8 Q. Could we -- sorry.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Bourgon?
10 MR. BOURGON: Thank you, Mr. President. I hate to interrupt the
11 testimony of the witness. I, just for the record, feel it is important to
12 note that as of page 50, we've entered into the material which was
13 disclosed by the witness on Sunday. Thank you, Mr. President.
14 JUDGE AGIUS: And you did not interrupt the witness any way. He
15 had finished his -- let's proceed. Thank you.
16 MR. NICHOLLS: Your Honour, I'm going to go into an area now with
17 some names that I'll be going into. I would request that we go into
18 private session.
19 JUDGE AGIUS: Any objection?
20 MR. NICHOLLS: Well, if we go into private session I'll give the
21 basis --
22 JUDGE AGIUS: I've just asked if there is any objection.
23 Mr. Meek?
24 MR. MEEK: Yes, Your Honour. We would like to know the basis for
25 the OTP to go into private session.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Nicholls, can you explain, please?
2 MR. NICHOLLS: I'd like to go into private session to do that.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, of course. Let's go into private session to do
4 that. [Part of Private Session made public by order of Trial Chamber]
5 [Private session]
6 MR. NICHOLLS: I don't think there is any reason for the witness
7 to leave but if my friends want the witness to leave - I'm hearing some
8 static from over there - that's fine, too.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: Do you understand English, Mr. Acimovic?
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, I don't.
11 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. I'll ask you to remove your -- yes, Mr. Meek?
12 MR. MEEK: Just for a point of clarification, there may be names
13 that will be in Serbian that he will understand so --
14 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. So I think he best leaves the courtroom.
15 There don't need to be at this stage.
16 MR. NICHOLLS: But just so I can say, these are the names that I'm
17 going to refer to that are contained in the supplemental information sheet
18 that has been provided to the Defence. So there's no mystery there.
19 JUDGE AGIUS: They don't need to be mentioned now at this stage
20 while we are discussing whether we should in private session for the next
21 part of the testimony or not. One moment.
22 Mr. Meek, Mr. Bourgon? I don't know. I mean ...
23 MR. NICHOLLS: I think I can clear this up possibly very simply
24 without anybody needing to leave.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. Do sit down, please. But don't put your
1 headphones on. Yes, Mr. Bourgon?
2 MR. BOURGON: Maybe at this stage, Mr. President, I can inform the
3 Trial Chamber that I would, for once, agree with the Prosecution that we
4 go into private session. The reason being is that the names that he will
5 mention are potential Defence witnesses, since yesterday. Thank you,
6 Mr. President.
7 JUDGE AGIUS: That's what I imagined I would have expected from
8 you. But Mr. Meek is objecting so we have got a conflicting approach
9 here. Yes, Mr. Meek?
10 MR. MEEK: Judge, I didn't object. I just asked for the basis to
11 go into private session.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. Yes. Go ahead with your explanation first
13 and then we will --
14 MR. NICHOLLS: Mr. Bourgon has essentially said it, that there are
15 names of persons present who will be discussed who are still living in the
16 area, and for the sake of those persons, whether they -- who may be
17 witnesses, now I hear for the Defence or for anybody, they may require
18 protective measures and we would destroy that by going through this in
19 open session, so it's for the sake of these persons, potentially, who need
21 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. Would you endorse Mr. Bourgon's position?
22 MR. MEEK: Yes, Your Honour.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. Thank you. I think the witness can put on
24 his headphones again. Yes, Mr. Bourgon?
25 MR. BOURGON: Yes, Mr. President. I'd like -- the names should be
1 in private session, but the testimony that goes along with the name
2 doesn't have to be in private session.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: Of course, I agree.
4 [Trial Chamber confers]
5 MR. NICHOLLS: I was going to say that to the extent that some of
6 the events and positions of these people would possibly reveal them to
7 other people who were present whose names I'm not going to use so I
8 can't -- I honesty cannot say where the line is.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: And we can't say either because we haven't heard the
10 testimony as yet so I think we'll play it by the ear and at any time you
11 have reservations, Mr. Bourgon, and would like any part of the testimony
12 to be in public, in open session, you will let us know and we can repeat
13 the question and the answer in open session. Agreed? Agreed? Thank you.
14 So let's proceed in private session.
15 MR. NICHOLLS: Thank you.
16 Q. Now, when you went back into the office, after having gone
17 outside -- we are in private session now, witness, and what that means is
18 that nobody outside the courtroom can hear what we're saying and they
19 won't be able to read it later or see it. It stays within the courtroom.
20 What was going on in the office when you went back inside? Had any
21 volunteers appeared? Or what was going on when you went back into the
23 A. Just a moment. Let me clear this up. I have already noted that
24 Popovic went in and out of the office, where I remained waiting for him to
25 come back. At that moment, Your Honour, he again pressurised me, exerted
1 pressure on me to take part in this, to get involved, and I refused to and
2 I said that I had to go back to my unit, for all the reasons that I've
3 already mentioned.
4 I explained to him again about the status of the unit, and
5 explosions could be heard at that time, and they were -- the sound was
6 coming from the sector manned by my unit, and I said, "I have to go back
7 to my unit." And he told me, "Wait just a moment." And he took -- I'm
8 sorry, I have to add one thing that I failed to mention earlier. During
9 this conversation, I said that he had to evacuate these men from Rocevici,
10 from the school there, that the school building was not to be used for
11 this purpose, it's a building where children go to get education, and that
12 those prisoners that we were talking about had to be evacuated from
13 Rocevici, and that if that is not done, there was the danger that the
14 soldiers from my unit who were from Rocevici might abandon their
15 positions. Because one of those companies, two companies, in fact, in
16 those companies that I've already mentioned, the soldiers were from
17 Rocevici, and the news had reached them about the wounding of this woman,
18 and it had caused general chaos on the front line.
19 I explained all that to Popovic, that some of the units, some
20 people from the unit might abandon their positions and that I would not be
21 held responsible for something like that, if that should happen, in light
22 of the fact that he was keeping me there in the school. What I want to
23 tell you is we had this conversation, if you could call it a conversation,
24 there was a lot of cursing, threats, things of that nature, and then he
25 took the civilian telephone, he picked it up, and I think he called the
1 duty officer, and he told him that vehicles should be sent to Rocevici
2 urgently. Before that I had told him that these men should be evacuated
3 or taken back to where they came from, and as for any of the villages in
4 my defence sector, or rather that he should evacuate those people from
5 Rocevici and I proposed to him the barracks in Kozluk because there were
6 conditions there to accommodate the prisoners, and I repeated that several
7 times. He called the brigade and he asked for the vehicles to be sent to
11 Pages 12967-12971 redacted. Private session
18 [Open session]
19 JUDGE AGIUS: We have to leave it there today. We'll continue
20 tomorrow. The sitting is in the afternoon. Yes it's only Friday that we
21 have the sitting in the morning. So at 2.15 tomorrow.
22 Mr. Acimovic, I need to make something very clear to you. Between
23 today and until you finish your testimony, you're not to communicate with
24 anyone or allow anyone to communicate with you, discuss the subject matter
25 of your testimony. At this point in time, you're not to communicate with
1 anybody on the subject matter. Is that clear?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Fine.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Thank you. We stand adjourned until
4 tomorrow at 2.15.
5 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 6.00 p.m.,
6 to be reconvened on Thursday, the 21st day of June,
7 2007, at 2.15 p.m.