1 Friday, 21 November 2008
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The witness entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 9.05 a.m.
6 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Madam Registrar. Good morning to you. Could
7 you call the case, please.
8 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning, Your Honours. This is case
9 IT-05-88-T, The Prosecutor versus Vujadin Popovic, et al.
10 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you, ma'am. Good morning, everybody. All
11 the accused are present except accused Popovic, who sent a waiver.
12 Prosecution is today represented by Mr. McCloskey and Mr. Thayer.
13 Absent amongst the Defence teams, I notice Mr. Ostojic, Mr. Bourgon --
14 no, he is here. Sorry, I couldn't see. So not Mr. Bourgon.
15 Mr. Lazarevic, and that's it.
16 Good morning to you, Mr. Simic. Welcome back.
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good morning.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Zivanovic.
19 MR. ZIVANOVIC: Good morning, Your Honours.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Good morning.
21 MR. ZIVANOVIC: I would just like to introduce a new member of
22 our Defence team. It is Mr. Shah Noor. Thank you.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Shah Noor, you are most welcome, and good
24 morning to you.
25 So, Mr. Krgovic, you hadn't finished, I understand, yesterday.
1 You still had a few questions to go?
2 MR. KRGOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I had the whole night
3 to ponder upon that, and after that I think that I will stick to my
4 original time and that I will need another hour to finish. I've been
5 sent a new list of documents -- or, rather, I sent you a new list of
6 documents. I'll try and be as short as possible, but I think that I'll
7 stick to my initial time.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Can you please proceed.
9 WITNESS: NOVICA SIMIC [Resumed]
10 [Witness answered through interpretation]
11 Cross-examination by Mr. Krgovic: [Continued]
12 Q. [Interpretation] Good morning, Mr. Simic, once again.
13 A. Good morning.
14 Q. Yesterday, I showed you a document about the establishment of the
15 army Republika Srpska. I need a clarification. This was the
16 establishment of the army Republika Srpska, and at the beginning we saw
17 the Main Staff with its sector, then corps with its units, and then at
18 the end, independent units within the Main Staff. Would that be correct?
19 My explanation of this document, is it correct?
20 A. Yes, you are absolutely correct.
21 Q. Mr. Simic, in your interview with the OTP in 2004, you spoke a
22 lot about reporting and sending reports. The Prosecutor asked you how
23 you sent reports to the Main Staff, and I wanted to remove an ambiguity
24 that arose from that interview. Although in your examination-in-chief
25 you already tackled that and explained to a large extent, but I want to
1 concentrate on reports about morale. The reports that were sent to the
2 superior command, irrespective of the area, were signed by yourself,
3 weren't they?
4 A. Your Honours, all the documents that went from my commands were
5 signed by me, and they were brought to me for signature by those who
6 drafted it, and that included my assistant for morale who dealt with his
7 part of the report.
8 Q. When you sent your regular combat reports, the part of -- about
9 morale, was part of that combat report together with other parts dealing
10 with other topics?
11 A. Yes, that's correct.
12 Q. Likewise, when you sent interim report on morale in your unit,
13 those reports were sent by you, and you sent it directly to the commander
14 along the line of the subordination and in keeping with the principle of
15 the unity command, which was in place in the army of Republika Srpska;
16 wouldn't that be correct?
17 A. Yes, Your Honours. That's correct, and that's how documents were
18 received. They all arrived at my desk, and then I distributed the
19 documents among the organs. What dealt with combat morale would be
20 forwarded to my assistant for morale.
21 Q. And that should have been the working principle in the army
22 Republika Srpska, and you went -- you adhered to that when you joined the
23 General Staff of the army Republika Srpska, so as you climbed up the
24 ladder, you still continued to stick to the same principle; is that
1 A. Your Honours, this was the way the army functioned. The military
2 functioned in that way, and I adhered to that principle.
3 Q. General, the Prosecutor in his interview put a lot of questions
4 to you about the role of morale, the importance of morale for the army
5 Republika Srpska, and you provided quite a lot of details in answering to
6 the Prosecutor's question -- questions about morale. In answering the
7 Prosecutor's questions --
8 MR. KRGOVIC: [Interpretation] For my learned friends, this is
9 page 171 of the witness interview that was provided in 2004.
10 Q. You provided a lot of details. I will not read the entire
11 portion; correct me if I'm wrong in paraphrasing that part. Within the
12 system of the military, morale is second in significance immediately
13 after the training of the commands and units; wouldn't that be correct?
14 A. Your Honours, when you assess the combat readiness of a unit,
15 that combat readiness is assessed according to a set of elements. The
16 first element is the command or the system of command and communications.
17 That's the first element. The second element is the unit's morale. The
18 third element is education and training. After that, follow logistics
19 and all the other things.
20 Your Honours, the tradition of our army, of our military, is to
21 consider that if a fighter is ready to sacrifice his life for the
22 interests and goals of a war, then he will do it even when undersupplied
23 and when he misses some other elements necessary for warfare. I am not
24 underestimating other elements that do have an impact on the combat
25 readiness of a unit, but the notion of morale in a war that we waged,
1 when the state of war was never declared, and when the entire structure
2 of one's society underwent a major change, because we left the socialist
3 system and went straight into a war, and in the meantime, there was no
4 new system put in place to replace the old system.
5 The elements that served as the foundation of morale until then
6 all of a sudden became marginal, negligible, amongst other things,
7 socialist, self-management, morale, [indistinguishable], the legacy of
8 the national liberation war, the fraternity and unity that we had before
9 the war; and all of a sudden we lost all that, and we had to find some
10 new foundations to base combat morale on. There was one element, of
11 course, and that was a general threat for the people, but we had to go
12 back to our traditions from the times when kings ruled, and we had to go
13 back to our religion. That's what we had to resort to. All those things
14 compounded the situation when we had to prepare units and individuals for
15 combat and when we had to assess their morale on something.
16 Q. Mr. Simic, there are several factors that impact morale, as
17 you've just told us. In addition to the military elements, to call it
18 that way, there are other elements, for example, the way a soldier is
19 armed; wouldn't that be correct? I see a nodding, which means that you
20 have answered positively to my question.
21 Secondly, how he is trained, clothed, fed, how his family is
22 taken care of, so all these factors come into play, and they practically
23 involve all the organs of a command. And the underlying goal is to
24 achieve this objective, to have a soldier well-prepared to fight?
25 A. Your Honours, everything's correct, but primarily it is the
1 situation in a society, the functioning of authorities. This is
2 something that has a major impact on morale. The assistants for morale
3 cannot create morale. Morale is created by an entire society, by the
4 whole of a military organisation, and the Supreme Commander is primarily
5 responsible for morale and then all the commanders below him; and
6 assistants for morale are just professional organs who monitor the state
7 of morale and propose or suggest things to the commander based on their
9 Q. You have just prompted me to put my next question. You are
10 talking about the significance and importance of morale, but not of the
11 significance and importance of the organ of morale. When you emphasize
12 his role on a large scale of the factors that impact combat readiness,
13 you are talking about morale but not the importance of the assistant for
15 A. Your Honours, the commander is responsible for the situation in
16 his unit across all elements. In order for him to be able to incorporate
17 that into his command function, he has assistants for each of these
18 elements. How important is an element at a given situation depends
19 largely on the situation. For example, when we have problems with the
20 ammunition, fuel, or the state of replenishment of our unit, then the
21 most important person would be the assistant for logistics. And when the
22 internal organisation is at risk, then it is the assistant for
23 intelligence who is most important. If we want to weigh --
24 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Zivanovic.
25 MR. ZIVANOVIC: I'm sorry to interrupt, but as far as I know the
1 witness did not -- didn't say the word "if." It is page 6, line 14. It
2 was without word "if." I didn't hear the word "if."
3 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. I mean, just next time wait until he
4 finishes what he is saying, and then we can correct it at the end of his
5 statement. This way, we have interrupted him halfway through answering a
6 question unnecessarily.
7 MR. ZIVANOVIC: Sorry.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Simic. Sorry for the interruption. I had
9 stopped you at the following: "And when the internal organisation is at
10 risk, then it is the assistant for intelligence who is most important.
11 If we want to weigh ..."
12 That's where you stopped. If you could continue from there,
13 please. Thank you.
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours. The
15 essence of the matter lies in the fact that you can't really weigh
16 exactly the prevalent importance of an element in a given situation. In
17 the hierarchy functions, it all depended on the rank of the assistant.
18 That was one of the factors. If that person had a higher rank and more
19 experience, he would be the most important among my assistants.
20 Colonel Jelacic was my assistant for morale, and I was fortunate
21 in having him because he had a lot of experience. He was very important
22 to me as a person, as a colleague, as my second in command, not only when
23 it came to the assessment of morale, but that is my specific trait. I
24 don't want to have this spilling over to the Main Staff or some other
25 commands. That was me, and that was my command. I am not saying that it
1 applied across the board.
2 MR. KRGOVIC: [Interpretation]
3 Q. Unlike you who respected your assistant for morale, before with
4 this Trial Chamber we heard the testimonies of commanders of certain
5 units who believed that morale primarily depended on the commander and
6 not on somebody who is sitting in an office sending him studies on
7 morale, which very often have nothing to do with what is happening in the
8 field. Are you aware of such attitudes towards assistants for morale in
9 the army of Republika Srpska?
10 A. Your Honours, I also said that the commander was the person the
11 most important for morale, and I -- I believe that this is the most
12 important and the basic thing, but I am also saying that the position of
13 the assistant for morale is also very important when the commander needs
14 assistance and help in his function, and his function is command and
15 control. There were cases when the role of the assistant for morale was
16 minimized, but I believe that the commanders who thought that way did
17 themselves this service because they complicated things for themselves
18 unnecessarily. Their system of decision-making and command of their unit
19 suffered as a result of that.
20 Q. Mr. Simic, the Prosecutor next asked you whether the army of
21 Republika Srpska or the commander of the army Republika Srpska could
22 command the military without the organ for morale, and you said: "No."
23 I would kindly ask you to --
24 MR. KRGOVIC: [Interpretation] I apologise. I believe we have a
25 problem with translation. I am going to read in English, because my
1 learned friend has just suggested that what has been transcribed does not
2 correspond what was said during the interview.
3 [In English] "Could Mladic have run the VRS without a morale
4 department at the Main Staff?"
5 You say -- your answer was: "No."
6 Q. [Interpretation] Generally speaking, I've shown you the
7 establishment of the army Republika Srpska. That's what you saw
8 yesterday. If we were to adhere to the rules, could Mladic have led the
9 military without any one of the organs that are envisaged by the
10 establishment? I'm talking about finance, logistics, morale, personnel,
11 all the organs that are envisaged by the establishment. The way I
12 understood your answer --
13 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Ms. Fauveau.
14 MS. FAUVEAU: [Interpretation] I just want my colleague to clarify
15 wherever he is talking about the staff organs or the unit organs, the
16 unit command organs.
17 MR. KRGOVIC: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour. The Prosecutor's
18 question in the interview was also ambiguous. When he says "Main Staff"
19 in his question, by the same token when I am talking about this, I'm
20 talking about the Main Staff.
21 JUDGE KWON: Mr. Krgovic, could you kindly read the question in
22 English, again? It's not clear to me.
23 MR. KRGOVIC: "Could Mladic have run the VRS without..."
24 JUDGE KWON: Without a morale department.
25 MR. KRGOVIC: "... a morale department at the Main Staff?"
1 JUDGE KWON: Thank you.
2 MR. KRGOVIC: [Interpretation]
3 Q. I apologise. We've had a minor issue with the transcript, but I
4 believe that now you understand my question. The way I understood your
5 answer, because before that you spoke about the establishment of the
6 military, the Main Staff, and your unit, and then the next question was
7 put to you specifically about the organ for morale, not about any other
8 organs, and in that way you were led, in my view, to raise the
9 significance and importance of the role of the organ for morale in the
10 Main Staff.
11 I'm asking you, given the establishment and the way you answered
12 the previous question, would you say that this applies across the board
13 to all the organs of the Main Staff? Would I be right in thinking that?
14 A. Your Honours, every organ has its own place. If we could do
15 without any one of them, they would not have been incorporated into the
16 establishment; hence, if Mladic could have done without his organ for
17 morale, he would have eliminated his organ for morale and he would have
18 sent his men in to fight without him. The essence of the matter is this:
19 Not only could he not do without his organ for morale, he could not do
20 without anybody, but the problem is how much he was willing to accept his
21 organ for morale's proposals. But at the end of the day, the commander
22 is the one who is in charge of decisions, and if he did not listen to his
23 -- the suggestions of his assistant for morale, the mistake is his if the
24 situation turns against him. But that's the commander's risk, a risk
25 that he has to take. A wise commander will listen to his associates, to
1 his assistants, because we in the military say, the more heads, the more
2 they know.
3 Q. Your Honour -- well, as far as I understood your response,
4 Witness, it's up to the commander what weight he will give to each
5 particular organ in any specific situation or in general?
6 A. Your Honours, as I've said previously, depending on the
7 situation, a particular organ can be engaged to a greater or lesser
8 extent; and the commander is the one who decides. I think I've been
9 quite clear on that issue.
10 Q. Sir, after this interview, you gave another interview to the
11 Prosecutor in 2007; and answering the Prosecutor's questions - and this
12 is on page 83 - speaking about General Gvero, you said the following:
13 "Gvero was not allowed to issue orders either. He was perhaps
14 the fifth on the list who are allowed to say something. Whatever you
15 have for Gvero, anything, to accuse him of anything is ridiculous.
16 During half the war, Mladic and Gvero were not on good terms. They were
17 in an argument with one another."
18 Do you remember having said that to the Prosecutor?
19 A. Your Honours, I don't want to prejudge your decisions here. This
20 is my personal opinion concerning the guilt of General Gvero. What I
21 said is correct, and I will confirm once again. They were on bad terms
22 with one another, and General Gvero was handicapped in that he could not
23 do his job properly. The proposals he gave to the commander, the
24 commander didn't like. It would have been better for all of us if he had
25 listened to him on many points. General Gvero, like all the commander's
1 assistants and all the members of the staff, did not have the right to
2 command except for the Chief of Staff of the General Staff, General
3 Milovanovic, and the deputy of the commander of the Main Staff. That is
4 the principle of unity of command which is respected and abided by in the
5 army. General Gvero could issue orders only to his close associates in
6 his own sector for morale, those five or six men around him. They were
7 the only ones he could command and nobody else.
8 And that was not actually command; it was control, because it was
9 team work, and these were officers subordinate to him. Commanding
10 implies issuing combat orders, issuing orders to the units, whereas
11 control takes place within a certain organ or sector and so on.
12 Q. General, you had occasion to attend meetings of the extended
13 collegium of the Main Staff where all the assistant commanders and corps
14 commanders were present. Did it often happen that General Mladic failed
15 to invite General Gvero to such a meeting and for you to meet his deputy
16 or someone else from his organ at the meeting?
17 A. Your Honours, at the meetings in the Main Staff, I don't know
18 what happened there; but at the briefings on combat readiness, regardless
19 of the extent to which he respected General Gvero, Mladic had to invite
20 him. He had to invite him because the rest of us would have asked why he
21 wasn't there if he hadn't invited him. But I did hear that he was
22 excluded for a time from decision-making --
23 THE INTERPRETER: Or, rather, not decision-making, interpreter's
24 correction --
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] -- but from reporting, briefing,
1 and making conclusions in the Main Staff.
2 MR. KRGOVIC: [Interpretation]
3 Q. What was General Gvero's relationship with the political
4 leadership including President Karadzic?
5 JUDGE AGIUS: Assuming that you are in a position to answer that
7 JUDGE KWON: And if I can add that if I could hear from the
8 witness what his relation with General Gvero was like.
9 MR. KRGOVIC: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour. That was
10 supposed to be my last topic, but if you wish I can introduce it now with
11 the witness.
12 JUDGE KWON: Yes, please.
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Please, let's go in sequence.
14 Let's go in order because, of course, His Honour is the senior person
15 here, so his question comes first.
16 I am aware, Your Honours, that General Gvero, as for many years,
17 he had been a professor at the high political school of the JNA, the
18 post-secondary school. He was felt to be someone from communist times
19 because he had taught Marxism and philosophy, and they didn't like him.
20 Quite openly, they didn't like him, and they gave him the nickname the
21 Red Devil, alluding to his past as a professor and to the fact that he
22 had been a member of the communist party.
23 As for my relationship with him, General Gvero was the most
24 senior person in the command, in the Main Staff, and also the oldest. He
25 had been promoted to the rank of general far -- a long time before the
1 rest of us had been promoted. We were young generals, and in the case of
2 most of us, he had been our teacher in our post-graduate studies. In
3 relation to the others, he was a humanist compared to all the others,
4 both by his nature and by the nature of his job. Whenever there was a
5 problem I had to solve, I first tried to go through him because I knew he
6 would understand me.
7 The problems I had with the Batkovic camp were connected with
8 this. I hope I am not speaking at too great a length, but I just want to
9 say that there I found about 90 civilians who were not supposed to be in
10 a military camp under any heading. I ordered that these persons be
11 released. We asked them where they wanted to go. They asked to go back
12 to their homes, because someone from the local authorities had collected
13 them from their homes, rounded them up, and put them in a military camp,
14 and this was inappropriate because it was a prisoner of war camp and
15 there were no grounds for these people to be there.
16 I knew that the civilian authorities would attack me for this
17 reason, and that's why I rang up General Gvero and told him what I had
18 decided. I didn't ask for his approval. Had I asked for someone's
19 approval, I would have called up General Mladic. He said to me, Be
20 careful; make sure that some fools don't kill them; make sure they go
21 over to the Muslim side across our demarcation line. I understood this
22 to be his concern for the lives of these people.
23 We asked again those unfortunate people, we asked them again
24 where they wanted to go, but they insisted that they wanted to go back to
25 their homes, so we sent them back to their homes. It's true that I was
1 attacked by the top-level authorities for this reason, but General Gvero
2 protected me in the Main Staff, and so I did not have to suffer any
3 consequences, and I think we did a good job there.
4 Q. General, thank you for your exhaustive reply and explanation. I
5 will now move on to another topic.
6 In his interview from 2004, the Prosecutor put some questions to
7 you and showed you a number of documents. I will now show you one of
8 these documents.
9 MR. KRGOVIC: [Interpretation] Could the witness be shown document
10 P33, please. Mr. Simic --
11 JUDGE KWON: Sorry, you are going to skip the issues of
12 Mr. Gvero's relation with Karadzic? This is --
13 MR. KRGOVIC: No, Your Honour, because I have a specific topic.
14 I will keep that for my last portion of the -- I would like to show him
15 some documents and ...
16 JUDGE KWON: Very well. Thank you. I was just to remind you of
17 the topic you had mentioned.
18 MR. KRGOVIC: [Interpretation] This topic is directly connected to
19 the relation between General Simic and General Gvero, which is why I want
20 to deal with it now.
21 Q. Mr. Simic, do you remember being shown this document by the
23 A. I remember, Your Honours. He asked me how come General Gvero was
25 Q. And he suggested several answers to you. He asked you whether
1 General Gvero -- let me just for the sake of the transcript, let me say
2 that this is on page 89 of the interview of 2004.
3 The Prosecutor asked you whether Gvero issued commands to the
4 forces, and your answer was no. He asked you further, if Mladic wanted
5 to reach Krstic, did he go through Gvero at the forward command post;
6 your answer was no. And then you spoke in general terms about the
7 situation that occurs when a commander goes out into the field and he
8 takes his team with him. You said, I assume when General Mladic went to
9 visit a unit he always put together a team to accompany him, so I assume,
10 as he was the assistant for morale and worked international
11 organisations, that that was the reason he took him with him.
12 And then you put forward another assumption, towards the end of
13 this topic; it's also clear what Krstic said to Mladic about what was
14 happening. He could have or was able to check this with Gvero who was
15 independent there. And then the Prosecutor suggested a further question:
16 This team put together by Mladic to observe these operations which were
17 taking place, that was that was the reason why Gvero was at the forward
18 command post. And you say, after the Prosecutor's question, formulated
19 in this manner, "I think that's how it was. There could have been
20 another reason, but under normal circumstances that would be the case."
21 The Prosecutor suggested a possibility to you here. You said: "I
22 assume ..." I'm telling you now that there is another possibility, that
23 Gvero - and witnesses have testified to this - was on his way to Belgrade
24 and dropped in at the forward command post, called up the Main Staff to
25 he tell them he was there, and then continued on his way. Do you allow
1 for this possibility, also, and did it happen that when Gvero was
2 travelling towards the west, he would drop in to see you either at the
3 forward command post or at the command, and what would happen on those
4 occasions? Could you answer that, please?
5 A. Your Honours, at the beginning of my testimony I said that I did
6 not know and was not aware of how the operation in Srebrenica unfolded
7 because I was not involved in it or informed about it. The questions put
8 to me by the Prosecutor were questions I answered in general terms, about
9 what would happen as a rule without actually knowing what had happened in
10 that specific instance, and that's why you should take my response with
11 reservations. If a forward command post is established, that's what
12 happens. That's what I was saying. Some years later, I learned that a
13 forward command post had not been established, that Mladic had not
14 brought a team with him, and that Gvero chanced to pass that way and the
15 road was blocked, and then he dropped in at Vlasenica to see what was
16 going on. I was not categorical in my reply, and I said so in the
17 interview. I do not wish to accuse General Gvero. He could not have
18 issued command to Krstic if he was there because Mladic was with Krstic.
19 He was not authorised to issue commands, and he was not authorised to
20 monitor Krstic, either. He probably just dropped in and then was given a
21 task as he happened to be there, but his job was to deal with journalists
22 and with international organisations for the most part.
23 I hope I've been clear.
24 Q. General, did it happen sometimes that General Gvero would drop in
25 to see you either at your forward command post or the command of your
1 corps when he was passing by unannounced?
2 A. Unlike General Miletic, who rarely left the Main Staff because of
3 the nature of his job, the other assistants of the commander of the Main
4 Staff would frequently visit the units; and whenever they were on their
5 way towards Banja Luka - that is, towards the 1st and 2nd Krajina Corps -
6 they would always drop by to see me, find out what was going on, refuel
7 their vehicles, and so on, and I was always pleased to see them. They
8 were all my colleagues and friends.
9 I tried to be a good host. General Gvero was a passionate
10 smoker, and he would always be very pleased if I set aside some
11 cigarettes for him because I was a non-smoker.
12 Q. And when General Gvero came to see you in your unit, he would
13 call up the staff to tell them he was with you so that if there was
14 anything to be passed on or conveyed, that could be done. I see you
16 A. I am waiting for the interpretation to finish. Your Honours,
17 that is correct. That's correct because the trip would take several
18 hours sometimes, so he would make a call to see if there was anything
19 new, if there were any new tasks for him and so on, and then he would
20 continue on his way on his original task.
21 Q. Mr. Simic, I wanted to show a document --
22 JUDGE KWON: Mr. Krgovic, if you are moving away from this
23 document, while we have this document in front of us: General Simic, I
24 understand your explanation that General Gvero was not in the position to
25 issue any command or order, et cetera. But I wonder whether you could
1 tell us why General Tolimir inserted, added General Gvero as one of the
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, he's here informing
4 General Gvero about the order of the Supreme Commander, because,
5 probably, there was to be a press conference or something of that sort so
6 that he would be informed. It's not an order. This is information,
7 information he probably needed in order to carry out his main task, his
8 job, especially as relations with UNPROFOR are mentioned here, and that
9 was his constant duty, to take care of that.
10 JUDGE KWON: Thank you.
11 MR. KRGOVIC: [Interpretation]
12 Q. General --
13 MR. KRGOVIC: [Interpretation] Could the witness be shown 6D137,
15 Q. General, I assume you haven't seen this document before. It's a
16 document sent by President Karadzic to General Gvero. Does this document
17 and the tone of the document reflect the relationship between General
18 Gvero and President Karadzic in the course of the war? The document is
19 dated 1994, and it dates from December of that year.
20 A. Your Honours, first, it's inappropriate for the Supreme Commander
21 to communicate directly with the assistant commander of the Main Staff.
22 If he had any comments or objections, this should have been sent through
23 the commander of the Main Staff. Secondly, the tone here is political.
24 That's not how you talk to a soldier. And in the last sentence, military
25 language is used. This was some sort of a fierce argument, and one can
1 see that the Supreme Commander was very intolerant towards General Gvero
2 and really didn't like him.
3 Q. General, is it -- do you know that in April 1995 at an assembly
4 of Republika Srpska a decision was made for General Gvero to be pensioned
5 off and replaced and that this was done at the initiative of President
7 A. Your Honours, throughout the war there were attempts to replace
8 not only General Gvero as the assistant for morale in the Main Staff but
9 also the assistants in the brigades to be replaced by persons from the
11 commitments, had no other qualifications to carry out those tasks and
12 those jobs; specifically, the initiative to replace him came from several
13 deputies, and evidently it was supported by President Karadzic. And
14 regardless of the fact that in a certain period General Mladic was not on
15 good terms with General Gvero, he opposed this decision and refused to
16 replace his assistant.
17 I don't know whether this was an expression of solidarity with
18 Gvero or General Mladic's intolerance and dislike of the Supreme
19 Commander, or - and this would be more understandable for me - because
20 Gvero was an expert for his job and there was no one else who could
21 replace him there. Maybe that was the reason for this decision. But,
22 Your Honours, these are all my own thoughts. I have no specific evidence
23 to support them.
24 Q. Did you hear that Miroslav Deronjic was supposed to take the
25 position of the assistant for morale in the Main Staff, thus replacing
1 General Gvero?
2 A. Your Honours, this is just another proof how politicians thought.
3 That person did not have any qualities that would qualify him for that
4 position. This gentleman was nothing but a member, albeit highly
5 positioned members of the SDS
6 Q. General, in your interview on page 215 - I am talking about the
7 interview that you provided in 2004 - you used the term describing
8 yourself, i.e., you used a sentence to describe yourself. And you said
9 that the worst thing in the world for a person to be is an unwanted child
10 or an unwanted [as interpreted] general. This is what you said when you
11 referred to yourself.
12 MR. KRGOVIC: [Interpretation] Just to correct something in the
13 transcript. Unloved General.
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This is a bit farfetched, Your
15 Honours. However, the authorities used us as professionals; still, they
16 never trusted us and never liked us. One thing about that animosity was
17 the fact that General Gvero was before all of us; he was the least loved
18 or the most hated of all of us, I dare say.
19 MR. KRGOVIC: [Interpretation]
20 Q. But General Mladic also did not care too much about you, as far
21 as I could tell from this interview.
22 A. Your Honours, I would not go into there. General Mladic had his
23 own moments. He went through different periods, and I always spoke my
24 mind. And when the indictment was issued against him, I told him that he
25 should withdraw. He refused that, and he saw that as treason, as my
1 personal offence of him. But I was only being honest and sincere. I
2 spoke my mind. I told him what I thought.
3 Q. General, thank you for your answers. I am now moving very
4 briefly to another topic, which concerns the developments in March 1995.
5 In the course of your testimony, you have spoken about the Muslim
6 offensive on Mount Majevica, as a result of which you lost some
7 positions, and you lost some territories, and the transformer in Stolice
8 came under threat. That was in March, was it not? Correct me if I'm
9 wrong. Looking at the combat reports that were shown to you, I could
10 tell that Spreca and everything surrounding that operation was taking
11 place in March 1995. Am I right in thinking that?
12 A. Yes, Your Honours. That's precisely the period when all the
13 things happened.
14 Q. You had quite a busy schedule in those days, and you had a lot of
15 problems in your unit. Would I be right in saying that?
16 A. Yes. I was in Majevica all that time.
17 Q. Yesterday in answering Miletic's Defence questions, you were
18 speaking in very general terms about the drafting of directives issued by
19 any body, the Supreme Command, the Main Staff, in very general terms.
20 Let me ask you very concretely: In March 1995, did you receive from the
21 Supreme Command a request to submit your thesis for a directive that was
22 in the pipeline?
23 A. Your Honours, when a directive is being prepared, one of the ways
24 to contribute and submit materials is to analyse combat readiness. It
25 can be done in a more direct way by asking from operative forces to
1 submit a detailed report on certain issues, which then allows the Supreme
2 Command to carry out proper planning. There are several occasions when
3 we are asked to do that by the Main Staff and by the Supreme Command. I
4 believe that the Supreme Command did ask us to answer certain questions
5 for this directive.
6 Q. And as far as I can remember, you did answer their request?
7 A. Your Honours, yes, but it was inappropriate for the request to
8 reach commands directly. It didn't go through the Main Staff. And then,
9 following the proper procedure, we sent our answer to the Main Staff,
10 which then forwarded it to the Supreme Command.
11 JUDGE AGIUS: One moment, Mr. Krgovic. It's all right. Go
13 MR. KRGOVIC: [Interpretation] Can the witness please be shown
14 Exhibit number 6D311. Can the witness please be shown the second page of
15 the document as well.
16 Q. Mr. Simic --
17 MR. KRGOVIC: [Interpretation] This would be the second page in
18 English as well. We are interested in the signature. Can we now go back
19 to the first page, please?
20 Q. Mr. Simic, this is a stamp of your command, but this is not your
21 signature. I can see here "za," on behalf of, and somebody's signature.
22 Who signed the document on your behalf?
23 A. Your Honours, I already said that I had been on Majevica on that
24 time. We processed this document, we analysed the document, at our joint
25 meeting. We agreed that it should be typed up, and I authorised the duty
1 operations officer at the time, Colonel Gengo, to sign on my behalf and
2 to dispatch it, because when the document was ready for dispatch I was no
3 longer at the command. In order to avoid any delays in the dispatching
4 of the document, I authorised him to sign it.
5 Q. These are a thesis for Directive Number 7, aren't these?
6 A. [No interpretation]
7 Q. And it arises --
8 JUDGE AGIUS: One moment. Yes, Ms. Fauveau.
9 MS. FAUVEAU: [Interpretation] [No interpretation] Could we have
11 JUDGE AGIUS: I didn't get what you said, and I don't think the
13 MS. FAUVEAU: [Interpretation] [No interpretation]
14 MR. KRGOVIC: [Interpretation] The date on the document is 24th
15 of March. The General has just told us that they discussed the document
16 earlier and that he authorised his chief of operations and training to
17 draft the document and dispatch it because he, himself, was on Mount
18 Majevica at the time.
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I said that he was
20 the duty operations officer. It so happened that he was also the chief
21 of the operations and training. He is -- he was the one who drafted the
22 document. The document was first produced in a handwritten form, and
23 then it was verbatim typed up. I initialed it in the handwritten form,
24 and I authorised the duty operations officer to send it on my behalf. He
25 was at the command post --
1 MR. KRGOVIC: [Interpretation] Just a correction for the
2 transcript. Just a correction in the transcript. One witness's "yes"
3 was not recorded. The witness said "yes" to my question, whether these
4 were the thesis for Directive Number 7, but that was not recorded.
5 Q. Mr. Simic, you answered "yes" to this question, did you not?
6 MR. KRGOVIC: [Interpretation] The witness did answer yes, but,
7 again, the answer has not been transcribed.
8 Q. Please, could you speak up and say "yes"?
9 A. Your Honours, after so many years and so many dates, I can't be a
10 hundred per cent sure of the date, but it would be roughly around that
11 time, and I believe that one can establish a link between the date and
12 the development in question.
13 Q. Mr. Simic, it transpires from the document that it was sent to
14 Major General Subotic, the advisor to the president, and he was the same
15 person from whom you had received a request to provide your input for the
16 directive. Would you agree with me on that?
17 A. Your Honours, it says in the document that the document answers
18 to the advisor's question. However, the document with the accompanying
19 letter was sent to the General Staff because it was not appropriate for
20 me to communicate directly with the advisor of the president of the
22 Q. Among the various inputs in the document, nothing was taken into
23 account as far as I could tell, and this was clearly your position that
24 you had put forward in some earlier occasions.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Ms. Fauveau.
1 MS. FAUVEAU: [Interpretation] Could we ask the witness to remove
2 the headsets to avoid all confusion.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. He understands English, too, so I think
4 he will have to leave.
5 JUDGE KWON: But she's speaking in French but --
6 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, but -- she's speaking in French. It will be
7 translated into English, and someone has to reply in English. So let's
8 see what your question is or what your comment is.
9 MS. FAUVEAU: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I believe that the
10 speculations of my colleague are going much too far, because to say that
11 in the directive these proposals were not accepted, okay. But here we
12 see the date, 24th of March; the directive is dated 8th of March, so
13 perhaps we need to establish first of all if the proposals were drawn up
14 for Directive Number 7 or for something else, and I would like to ask my
15 learned colleague to indicate the source of this document.
16 JUDGE AGIUS: I think insofar -- I don't know, my colleagues
17 would or would not agree with me. If they don't, please speak up. But
18 insofar as he's giving this Directive 7 an interpretation of his own,
19 he's got a right to give it an interpretation of his own and ask
20 questions. With regard to the --
21 [Trial Chamber confers]
22 JUDGE AGIUS: And you can deal with it on redirect in any case.
23 As regards the source of the document, perhaps Mr. Krgovic can deal with
25 MR. KRGOVIC: Yes.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. So, General, please put your headphones
3 MR. KRGOVIC: [Interpretation]
4 Q. Mr. Simic, is there any doubt in your mind that this document
5 maybe does not originate from your corps, that it maybe was not drafted
6 in your command?
7 A. Your Honours, I'm looking at the heading. This is the letterhead
8 of my corps. The document was filed on the last page. I can see the
9 signature of the person whom I authorised to sign it, and it also bears a
10 stamp of my corps.
11 Q. The contents of the document corresponds to what you had
12 discussed at the command meeting and what you drafted in handwriting, to
13 the best of your recollection?
14 A. Your Honours, would you then allow me, please, to read the entire
15 document to be absolutely certain? A lot of time has passed, and I can't
16 be entirely sure what I am being asked about. Can I be given some time
17 to read the entire report, and then I will be able to answer with a
18 higher degree of certainty. Maybe something has been changed in the
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Stop, stop. Both of you. Would 20 minutes be
21 enough for you, 20 minutes?
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I need five. I am a fast reader,
23 Your Honour.
24 JUDGE AGIUS: But we are going to give you 20 because we are
25 going to have the break now as we announced yesterday. Yes, Ms. Fauveau.
1 MS. FAUVEAU: [Interpretation] My question on the source, the
2 source from which my colleague obtained this document, that's what I am
3 interested in.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. We'll have a 25-minute break, and we'll deal
5 with all this -- 20 minute break, and we'll deal with all this when we
6 reconvene. Thank you.
7 --- Recess taken at 10.20 a.m.
8 --- On resuming at 10.44 a.m.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: So let's continue. Mr. Krgovic.
10 MR. KRGOVIC: [Interpretation]
11 Q. Mr. Simic, were you able to look at this document? To the best
12 of your recollection, the contents of this document correspond to what
13 you discussed at your command and what you ordered to be done, letters in
14 compliance with a request from the Supreme Command; is that correct?
15 A. Your Honours, this is not a request for a directive. This is a
16 completely different document which stemmed from the serious situation on
17 the western front where at the request of General Milovanovic a state of
18 war was declared in two municipalities in the Krajina. And this gave him
19 much more favorable conditions, and he was able to stop the advance and
20 launch a counter-offensive, and to restore all the lost positions.
21 In view of the fact that we had similar problems in our area, we
22 also sent frequent requests, either that a state of war be declared or
23 for some measures to be introduced, which would make it easier for us
24 commanders to command. I wish to mention once again, Your Honours, that
25 a war was being waged and the civilian authorities were living and
1 working as if it was peacetime. They had office hours. They took annual
2 leave. The coffee bars were full of men, especially in the wartime, and
3 they -- there were not enough men at the front line. There was fuel for
4 civilians at all the petrol stations. It could be bought for money, but
5 there was no fuel for the army, and many other things were going on
6 inappropriate to a country and a society which was in a state of war. A
7 state of war, however, had not been declared, not to mention the fact
8 that people were being killed and there was no state of war. So it would
9 the appear that we were doing maneuvers and exercises. It was under
10 these conditions that we asked for new conditions to be put in place
11 because suddenly combat activities began on all the fronts because there
12 was a major offensive on.
13 We were asked to propose some of the measures that the civilians
14 authorities were supposed to introduce because the thesis here are not
15 military. These are things that we are proposing that the civilian
16 authorities should do in order to assist us. Where I was, unfortunately,
17 none of this was adopted by the civilian authorities.
18 This document was not drawn up by the operations organ. It's
19 just by chance that it was signed by Gengo because at the bottom on the
20 left-hand side, you can see the initials of the person who drew up the
21 document and the person who typed it out. The content of the document
22 corresponds to the conclusion I arrived at based on consultations with my
24 Your Honours, I ask you not to doubt the reliability of this
25 document because it was signed on my behalf by Gengo. He was an
1 associate I trusted implicitly. Had I not trusted him, I would have
2 replaced him.
3 Q. For the sake of Their Honours - and Mr. Simic, I have the
4 original of this document - if there are any doubts about its
5 reliability, if any party wishes to inspect the document I have it
7 Mr. Simic, I agree with you when you say that when the Supreme
8 Command, which incorporated both the military and civilian authorities,
9 asked you for proposals as to how certain political issues should be
10 resolved and that an overall political strategy be adopted, which is how
11 I understood your document; do you agree with me?
12 A. Your Honours, I hope I was clear. The terminology is not
13 military. These are political issues and are proposals as to what the
14 civilians authorities should do to improve the conditions in the army for
15 the implementation of its tasks.
16 Q. And what you wrote in this document is what you said at the
17 briefing on combat readiness in January of that year as you testified a
18 few days ago before this Court; is that correct?
19 A. Your Honours, these problems had persisted since the beginning of
20 the war. The war was in its fourth year and I think had been resolved,
21 and even after this, nothing was resolved, because there was no political
22 will for the war to end in peace and without undue delay.
23 Q. And it's logical that when the president of the republic wants to
24 set up a political framework for the directive and to have consultations
25 and draw up the thesis for the directive, that he should ask for
1 suggestions and collect information and proposals from various organs;
2 isn't that right?
3 A. Your Honours, the president probably consults his political
4 organs concerning political issues. It was surprising to us that the
5 army was asked to give proposals concerning political issues. Nothing
6 had been done previously, none of this, and we except this to yield some
7 results, but unfortunately it didn't. He sought our opinion here, and he
8 did not take it into account.
9 Q. It's normal when the president is drawing up a directive to ask
10 for the opinion of the Ministry of Defence when he's assessing the
11 security situation or the security situation that he should ask for the
12 opinion of the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of the Interior, and so
13 on and so forth when drawing up some non-military parts of the directive;
14 isn't that right?
15 A. That's how I understand this document. Your Honours, I have
16 never been a president, but common sense tells me that that's how it
17 should be.
18 Q. Mr. Simic, in March 1995, the only directive that was drawn up
19 was Directive Number 7; is that right?
20 A. Your Honours, I don't know whether any other directive was drawn
21 up, but this one, the number 7, is the only one that reached us, and it
22 was followed by specific orders. Later, there was another one which was
23 drawn in the Krajina over there and had to do with the fall of
24 municipalities in western Krajina, but that directive unfortunately
25 arrived with a delay and could not be implemented because of the
1 conditions in the war theater.
2 Q. As there are certain discrepancies in the date and as you, as you
3 said, were facing a very difficult situation at Majevica, this does not
4 mean that it relates to another request. Did you get any other request
5 from the Supreme Command apart from this one which you responded to?
6 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Ms. Fauveau.
7 MS. FAUVEAU: [Interpretation] Your Honour, the witness clearly
8 indicates on page 29 -- 28, line 9, that this request concerning this
9 document is not a request for the directive.
10 [Trial Chamber confers]
11 MR. KRGOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, yes, but the witness
12 said to the military part of the directive. Now he's talking about the
13 political framework of the directive.
14 Q. Mr. Simic --
15 JUDGE AGIUS: Let him --
16 MR. KRGOVIC: [Interpretation]
17 Q. For the sake of the transcript --
18 JUDGE AGIUS: Let him answer the question. Let him answer the
19 question. I think -- you have a very valid point, Ms. Fauveau. I'm not
20 arguing the point raised, but I think we have got a very straightforward,
21 intelligent witness here, and he can give us a straight answer. Thank
22 you. I know I have made you happy.
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. This has
24 made me happy, indeed. Let me say again, the directive had already been
25 drawn up, but the same requests happened to be in the directive because
1 we had been repeating them like parrots for years. This is another
2 document which arrived after the directive. It did not come from the
3 Main Staff but from the advisor to the former minister, General Subotic,
4 and it was sent directly to us, bypassing the General Staff, which was
5 inappropriate. And in a way, it was actually politics interfering in
6 command, because any bypassing of authority is highly detrimental to the
7 army. I don't know what specifically the Defence counsel is getting at,
8 because one in the same question is constantly repeated, but I think this
9 has nothing to do with Directive Number 7. It does have to do with the
10 emergency measures which the president -- the Supreme Commander
11 introduced in certain municipalities in the Krajina, and our request that
12 the same be done in our territories where there was intensive combat
13 going on to make our life easier.
14 I am available to clarify if anything needs clarification, but I
15 continue to assert that this is not linked to the directive. It's only
16 by chance that the same points are raised, because we had written three
17 or four such requests previously to the Main Staff.
18 MR. KRGOVIC: [Interpretation]
19 Q. Mr. Simic, I accept what you say. It's your opinion. The
20 document speaks for itself. It says here that these are thesis proposed,
21 so I don't want to enter into a polemic with you.
22 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Krgovic, one moment. Yes, Mr. Simic.
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, please, if
24 Mr. Krgovic reads the part that makes up the body, it says here
25 "proposals" -- let me read to the end. "Proposals for the directive to
1 the RS President on special measures in the IBK zone of responsibility."
2 Please, these are extraordinary measures. This is not a regular
3 directive. Let's not keep going back to the directive when the directive
4 has no connection with this document. I don't know what is supposed to
5 be achieved here. We keep running around in circles. I thought this was
6 going to be over two hours ago.
7 MR. KRGOVIC: [Interpretation]
8 Q. Mr. Simic --
9 JUDGE AGIUS: One moment. Let me explain something to you,
10 General. Mr. Krgovic, who is representing General Gvero here, has a
11 right -- he's cross-examining you, and as such he's got a right to put
12 questions. He may at times be in agreement with what you say, sometimes
13 in disagreement with what you say. You may hold different opinions. But
14 he has a right to ask you further questions to make sure, if there is
15 something he doesn't agree with in your testimony, that he obtains more
16 clarification from you.
17 So I am going to suggest to Mr. Krgovic, if he has further
18 questions on this issue, to put them slowly. Try not to overlap,
19 Mr. Krgovic, because you have been overlapping. And then, if you have
20 further answers, you give them. If you have nothing to add to what
21 you've stated earlier, leave it at that.
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, while counsel are
23 conferring, let me say that I have the best of intentions to assist, but
24 as a person who has been efficient all his life, I try to make the best
25 use of time and space.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, I appreciate that. No one doubts your
2 intentions are to try and help us understand what really happened.
3 Mr. Krgovic.
4 MR. KRGOVIC: [Interpretation]
5 Q. Mr. Simic, when it says here "proposals for the directive," what
6 directive is being referred to?
7 A. Your Honours, it says here -- let me repeat what it says here in
8 the preamble: "The proposals for the directive of the president of
9 Republika Srpska on special measures in the IBK zone of responsibility."
10 So this refers to the directive of the Supreme Commander, that
11 is, the president of Republika Srpska.
12 Q. Mr. Simic, another clarification about another topic, and I'll
13 finish. When you described the conversation with General Gvero
14 concerning Batkovic, in what year did that conversation take place? From
15 your interview, I see it was 1992; is that correct? Is that the event
16 you are referring to in your interview?
17 A. Your Honours, that's correct. It was in 1992, either on the 5th
18 or 6th of September, because I was taking up my duties, my new duties,
19 and it was then that I learned about the situation in the Batkovic camp,
20 which deeply disappointed me. I was a new commander there, and I had the
21 best intentions of introducing order.
22 MR. KRGOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. Simic. I have no
23 further questions for you. Thank you, Your Honours.
24 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you, Mr. Krgovic. Mr. Haynes, I understand
25 you have a cross-examination, too, no?
1 JUDGE KWON: Before Mr. Haynes starts, General Simic -- it's me
2 here, not him. In answering Mr. Krgovic's question relating to Deronjic,
3 you said that he was far from qualified; he's not qualified at all. But
4 I don't think you actually answered the question whether or not you heard
5 that Deronjic was supposed to be appointed as assistant for morale.
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I did not know who the
7 person in question was at the time. I only learned subsequently. When
8 this was happening, I didn't know who was being proposed, but I realised
9 that it was somebody from the inner circle of the Serbian democratic
10 party. And the intention, I suppose, was for the military to be
11 politicised, and we in the military are strongly opposed to that attempt.
12 As far as his personal skills are concerned, I don't know. The
13 gentleman may have a university degree, but I had in mind the particular
14 qualities that an assistant for morale, political and religious issues,
15 have to have. You need special education for that.
16 I hope that I've managed to clarify the matter for you.
17 JUDGE KWON: Thank you. Do you remember, by any chance, who you
18 heard that news or rumor from?
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, even the Assembly
20 talked about Gvero's replacement. It was no secret at all. It was, if
21 anything, a public secret because it was aired on TV. It was just a
22 matter of days when this would happen. At that moment, he was not in
23 favour with anybody. The political authorities did not like him. His
24 superior, General Mladic, was not particularly fond of him.
25 JUDGE KWON: I meant Deronjic, not Gvero, not the replacement of
1 Gvero, but specifically by Deronjic.
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I don't even know this
3 man. The family name doesn't mean anything. He could have been called
4 Simic for all I care. All I know is that he did not have the right
6 JUDGE KWON: Very well. Thank you.
7 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Thank you.
8 Mr. Haynes.
9 MR. HAYNES: Thank you, Mr. President.
10 JUDGE AGIUS: Can we have an estimate of how long you will --
11 MR. HAYNES: 20 or 30 minutes.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. All right. So that means, Mr. Thayer, that
13 you will start your cross-examination today. I don't suppose you will
14 finish it today?
15 MR. THAYER: No, Mr. President.
16 JUDGE AGIUS: All right.
17 MR. THAYER: And just for clarification, we'll be breaking at
18 noon as yesterday?
19 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, exactly.
20 Yes, Mr. Haynes.
21 Cross-examination by Mr. Haynes:
22 Q. Good morning, General Simic. As you know, I represent Vinko
23 Pandurevic who in 1995 was the commander of the Zvornik Brigade. I want
24 to start by asking you a number of questions which arise from the very
25 long interviews you gave to the Office of the Prosecutor when I think it
1 was anticipated you might be a Prosecution witness in the Perisic case;
2 was that your understanding?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. And I'm going to try and take things chronologically as far as
5 possible. Now, at the beginning of the war in Bosnia, when you arrived
6 to the territory of Eastern Bosnia, there was a good deal of paramilitary
7 activity in and around the town of Bijeljina, wasn't there?
8 A. Yes, Your Honours. I had quite a few problems before I was able
9 to deal with that situation.
10 Q. Thank you. You've anticipated my next question. The
11 paramilitary units in and around Eastern Bosnia didn't welcome the
12 presence of army units, did they?
13 A. Your Honours, paramilitaries are all those who don't want to be
14 under the military command. When I came to the territory, I found
15 several small groups, mostly from Serbia, with some self-proclaimed
16 leaders who were engaged in operations independently on their own, but
17 their most prevalent activity was plundering and other sorts of crime.
18 My life was also at stake when I confronted them directly; my life came
19 under threat.
20 Q. Thank you, Mr. Simic. You've answered my next question. In
21 terms of the establishment of military units within the army of Republika
22 Srpska, I want to address one particular problem, which I think you're
23 aware of, and that was one of your subordinate commanders, the commander
24 of the 3rd Samborski Brigade who was in fact murdered. Can you tell us
25 what you know about that?
1 A. Your Honours, I found a certain number of units there. On my
2 personal initiative, we established two more brigades and we reorganised
3 another one. We -- or established a Majevica and a Siberia brigade, and
4 I appointed two active servicemen as commander and Chief of Staff. They
5 had been pensioned off, but then they were reactivated upon my proposal.
6 Unfortunately, when a shift was being sent to a position, a drunken
7 soldier fired a burst of fire and killed both of them in the very centre
8 of Bijeljina. Now, that soldier was subsequently tried, but this left a
9 very somber impression on the entire military.
10 Q. Did you ever discover or establish any motive on the part of that
11 soldier for the murder of his own commander?
12 A. Your Honours, the investigation established that the person in
13 question had been drinking in town, had opened fire even before that and
14 wounded a woman; and when the police came to arrest him, he offered
15 resistance and he found shelter with a unit that was being assembled to
16 go to the front line. He had already got on a bus when the police came
17 and blocked the bus with an intention to arrest that person.
18 The commander and the Chief of Staff got off, followed by several
19 soldiers, and the drunken soldier wanted to deal with the police, and in
20 trying to do so he killed his commander and Chief of Staff. I was not
21 under any impression that it was premeditated, that it was his intention
22 to kill them, that he had a motive of any sort.
23 Q. Very well. Thank you. Now, I want to move on, please, to some
24 comments that you've made in the past about General Mladic. Can we take
25 it that during the four years of war you had a close working relationship
1 with General Mladic and you knew him personally?
2 A. I've already said that I would talk to him every day on the
3 phone, and on several occasions he came to my unit; he inspected my
4 subordinated units together with me, and we also saw each other at
5 briefings in the Main Staff. I kept my distance in this particular case
6 because that was the way a soldier would behave. It was part of my
7 military behaviour.
8 Q. Thus, it was your impression, wasn't it, that he was deeply
9 affected by the death of his daughter and that that affected his style of
10 leadership of the army?
11 A. Your Honours, General Mladic had the misfortune of his daughter
12 committing suicide, and I believe that he must have been deeply shaken as
13 a human being, because for three months we could not communicate with him
14 after that. I thought that when one suffered such a loss and such a
15 shock, that such a person should not perform any responsible tasks for a
16 while. This should have been done because he suffered high intensity
17 stress, and in my personal view under such circumstances no man could be
18 expected to show normal reactions and normal judgments.
19 On the other hand, he himself as a person was quite independent,
20 and it may not be my call to say so, but he was also very stubborn, and
21 very often he would not take anybody's proposal into account, and he was
22 very independent. He had his own will when he made decisions.
23 Q. Thank you very much. The three adjectives I drew from your
24 earlier interview, and I was going to ask you if you still agreed with,
25 was that he became more difficult to deal with, vengeful, and
1 dictatorial. Would you still agree with that?
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Thayer.
3 MR. THAYER: And before the General answers, Mr. President, if we
4 could have just some time-frame that we are talking about. That might
5 make the testimony a little bit more helpful.
6 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Haynes.
7 MR. HAYNES:
8 Q. Yes. Can you help us as to when General Mladic's daughter died?
9 And I'm sure it's a matter we can agree between us and the Prosecution so
10 that we have got a time-frame, can't we?
11 JUDGE AGIUS: Well, let's cut it short. If you know the date,
12 please, we don't need the witness to say it.
13 MR. HAYNES: Well, I don't know the precise date.
14 JUDGE AGIUS: You don't know.
15 MR. HAYNES: We're talking about 1995.
16 JUDGE AGIUS: But it happened in 1995.
17 MR. HAYNES: Yes.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: So, General Simic.
19 MR. HAYNES:
20 Q. Going back to the original question, did you find him to be
21 vengeful, more dictatorial, and more difficult to deal with?
22 A. Your Honours, the fact is that he was no longer the same person.
23 This certainly left a mark on him. Whether he was more revengeful, in a
24 certain way he was. He never spared himself, so he never spared us
25 either. He was even more persistent, even more harsh, and he had even
1 more demands upon us. However, due to the situation in the battlefield
2 was such, we had millions of problems. When we thought that the war was
3 nearly over, it only started then.
4 I believe that another thing that had an impact on him were the
5 convoys of refugees from Krajina whom he received in western Bosnia.
6 Before the war, he served as a commander in the territory of Knin, and he
7 was familiar with the region and with the people. It's very difficult
8 for me, Your Honours, to talk about all this. He was no longer as
9 cheerful as he was before, and that's a fact. Sometimes before that
10 event, he would even joke with me; we would crack jokes. After this sad
11 event, no such thing. Nothing.
12 Q. In terms of his determination to have his own way, one of the
13 things you said in your interviews on more than one occasion was that if
14 somebody had stood up to him over the Srebrenica operation, they would
15 have found themselves killed. Do you still stand by that?
16 A. Your Honours, this is a hypothetical question. I was not in
17 Srebrenica. I don't know whether anybody stood up to him. It's all
18 about the situation over there, and how could anybody have stood up to
19 him? If his life was threatened, he would have reacted appropriately.
20 When there was an attempt at my life -- actually, when there was that
21 group that prepared to kill me, I had no choice but to arrest them. If
22 somebody had opened fire, I would have killed them. If I were to say
23 anything about his situation in Srebrenica and about his reaction to some
24 hypothetical things, I don't think it would be appropriate for me to
25 speculate on that.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Haynes, I have a slight suspicion that there
2 may have been a mistranslation of your question. The way the witness
3 answered your question makes me suspect that. Can you make a specific
4 reference to any part of his interviews with the Prosecution?
5 MR. HAYNES: I'm going to leave the matter there.
6 JUDGE AGIUS: All right.
7 MR. HAYNES: I'm not going to push it any further.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you.
9 MR. HAYNES:
10 Q. Can we move on now, please, to more recent events. In the spring
11 of 1995, as you've told us, you took place -- you took part in Operation
12 Spreca. Now, that was an operation which involved not only the East
13 Bosnia Corps but also units of the Drina Corps, specifically the Zvornik
14 Brigade; is that correct?
15 A. Correct.
16 Q. And I hope I have understood what you have said about that
17 operation correctly, that it was badly organised and chaotically
18 coordinated between all the units; is that right?
19 A. Your Honours, the operation was well-organised. However, the
20 weather was bad; it was cold, and soldiers who mounted an attack and
21 moved on for 2 kilometres, but then they did not have any way to find
22 shelter. They had to return, so the result was zero. Second of all, the
23 entire -- the Zvornik Brigade did not participate as a whole, and when
24 two corps are involved or two brigades are involved, then if things don't
25 go well, then one blames another.
1 We saw the interview in which my colleague is blaming things on
2 me, but the most important thing is that we did not achieve any
3 successes, or if we did, our successes fell short of what we had planned.
4 The operation was not badly planned; it was badly executed.
5 Q. Would I be right to suggest to you that during the whole of that
6 operation, you did not speak to Vinko Pandurevic, the commander of the
7 Zvornik Brigade?
8 A. I don't know whether you have noticed, but I've told you that the
9 corps commander was present in the zone of the Zvornik Brigade, so I did
10 not talk to his subordinate but to the commander himself. I was at his
11 operation post on the morning when the operation was launched, and I was
12 there all day. In other words, I had my contacts and I talked to
13 Mr. Pandurevic's superior.
14 Q. But were you aware what combat activities the Zvornik Brigade
15 were carrying out, and were they aware of what combat activities your
16 units were carrying out?
17 A. They did know, Your Honours. We exchanged information. We
18 occasionally met. The commander of the Main Staff was there, in my zone
19 and in their zone. Let me clarify. I had received an order to organise
20 our cooperation; however, the Zvornik Brigade was not subordinated to me.
21 We worked together in cooperation.
22 Q. Very well. It may be that I have misunderstood you, but I had
23 understood your evidence to be that the coordination of that operation
24 was not good. Am I correct in that assumption or not?
25 A. Your Honours, there was a good plan for cooperation, but it was
1 not acted upon. If one unit starts moving sooner than the other, then
2 cooperation goes out of the window because cooperation is planned for a
3 certain area and for a certain time; but if one unit does things at a
4 different time and a different place, then there is no longer
5 coordination or cooperation.
6 Q. And just to leave the topic there, is that what happened in
7 Operation Spreca 95?
8 A. Yes, Your Honour. That's what happened. The Zvornik Brigade was
9 moving faster than my units. They wedged into the enemy's deployment
10 lines, but then after a while, they had to withdraw to their initial
11 positions. So at the end of the day, the operation was not successful.
12 Q. Thank you. Well, we'll leave that, General Simic, and we're
13 going to go to another topic, which is the ability of commanders to
14 remove officers. And I'm going to show you the first document I have --
15 MR. HAYNES: Which is P702, please.
16 Q. Now, you stated the principle yesterday, but I think this is the
17 document that provides the principle, which is that an officer of the
18 rank of colonel and above can only be removed in effect by the president
19 of Republika Srpska, can't he?
20 A. Your Honours, there are very strict rules in the military as to
21 who removes and appoints personnel. When I said that I removed my
22 associate, I said that I did not personally remove him. I suspended him
23 from his duties, and I requested from the Main Staff to remove him from
24 his position because it was not I who had appointed him. If I did
25 appoint anybody, it would be lower-ranking officers. So what I did, I
1 could only do through the Main Staff. I could not remove anybody from
2 their position because such an act had repercussions that are beyond my
3 scope, the salary for the promotion and so on and so forth. What I could
4 do was just to suspend a person. If he had been involved in crime, I
5 could start criminal proceedings; if it was a matter of discipline, then
6 there were disciplinary measures; and if I just did not like his style of
7 work or if I did not cooperate well with him, I could send a proposal to
8 my superior command to remove his from his duties.
9 Q. Thank you. But that sort of protection wasn't afforded to all
10 ranks, was it? For example, as a brigade commander you could remove from
11 office an officer of the rank of second lieutenant without seeking the
12 approval of the Main Staff; that's right, isn't it?
13 A. Again, it depended on this person's position. If he was in a
14 position acting as a captain first class or major, then the answer would
15 be no because it would not have been within the brigade commander's
17 Q. No, that's why I chose the rank that I did. A brigade commander
18 could remove a second lieutenant, couldn't he, within this law?
19 A. Well, in principle, the answer is yes, but if that second
20 lieutenant occupied a post that by establishment should be occupied by a
21 person of his rank; however, if a second lieutenant occupied a post that
22 called for a higher-ranking person, a captain first class or a major,
23 then the answer is no. I thought I had made myself clear the first time
25 Q. General Simic, now you have. Thank you. I now understand what
1 you're saying.
2 MR. HAYNES: Can we have a look, please, at 7D485 now.
3 Q. And in particular, General Simic, can you look at paragraph 3.
4 Did you see this or a similar document to this in or about May of 1994?
5 A. Yes, I did, and this one is familiar to me.
6 Q. So that we are clear, was this a restatement of a principle, or
7 did this change the position vis-a-vis a commander's authority over his
8 security organ?
9 A. Your Honours, in my previous testimony I pointed out that
10 assistants to the commander with respect to a certain element, such as
11 the assistant for logistics, also follow the personnel situation - in
12 this case, the logistical and rear personnel in the subordinate units -
13 and draw up a chart, a working chart, and the organ for morale does the
14 same. The same is done in the security area. The chief of the sector
15 for security has to keep track on the security officers in the brigades
16 and other units because these are persons who have to undergo special
17 training, and they have to undergo a special check to make sure they're
18 suitable for this service. No one can be appointed, no officer can be
19 appointed, to a post without their approval. That's why I asked General
20 Tolimir to replace my chief of security in the corps and give me somebody
22 When I explained all this to the commander and to him, he took my
23 opinion into account and sent me Lieutenant-Colonel Jakovljevic [as
24 interpreted], who had been the security chief in the 30th Division in
25 Banja Luka. He was an experienced security officer who adhered strictly
1 to the rules.
2 In this document, this officer is drawing attention to the fact
3 that these people cannot be dismissed without approval because there were
4 many attempts to downgrade these people, because if some civilians abused
5 their positions and this is reflected in the army and an officer writes
6 about this, then they say that the military is interfering, but it's all
7 important for the military. And then they want to replace the security
8 officer, and there is pressure from the civilian structures, just as they
9 wanted to replace some morale officers, including General Gvero.
10 Q. But do you --
11 JUDGE AGIUS: One moment, Mr. Haynes.
12 MR. THAYER: Mr. President, I apologise for the intervention. At
13 page 47, line 6, I believe the General named Lieutenant-Colonel Milenko
14 Todorovic, and it's just not captured, but just to avoid confusion later
15 on, I think that's the name.
16 MR. HAYNES: Thank you, Mr. Thayer.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: Let's continue, Mr. Haynes.
18 MR. HAYNES:
19 Q. Just one more question on this document, General. In paragraph
20 3, the procedure for approval is outlined, and then somebody has
21 underlined the words: "Not a single member of the VRS can be appointed
22 or to dismissed from duties in security and intelligence organs of the
23 VRS without this approval."
24 Do you agree with that as a statement of the employment position
25 of members of the security and intelligence organs?
1 A. Your Honours, in my previous reply I said that these were persons
2 who were especially trained for that duty. You can't take a battalion
3 commander and appoint him chief of security unless he has gone through a
4 course and been prepared because he will not be able to deal with a job
5 properly, otherwise. And this is a warning to that effect, that persons
6 should not be appointed according to someone's wishes, but that they have
7 to be people who are qualified to perform this task.
8 Q. I'm going to try one more time, General Simic; then I'm going to
9 leave it. Is the underlined portion of that document correct, yes or no?
10 A. That's correct.
11 JUDGE AGIUS: One moment. One moment.
12 MS. NIKOLIC: [Interpretation] Asked and answered twice.
13 MR. HAYNES: Three times, and he just gave the answer "yes."
14 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Let's proceed now. Mr. Haynes.
15 MR. HAYNES:
16 Q. I just want to show you one further document, which is P2741.
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I can say it a fourth
18 time if need be. I can say "yes" a fourth time if need be, so we don't
19 have to return to the same question yet again.
20 MR. HAYNES: Don't worry, General Simic. We're not going to.
21 We're going to move on to another one. I'm going to show you a another
22 document, which is P2741.
23 Q. Again, General Simic, can you have a look at it and see whether
24 this a document that is familiar to you and a document that you saw in
25 the latter part of 1994?
1 A. Your Honours, I know about this document. This is a warning, an
2 instruction, as to how commanders should treat the specific organs,
3 because evidently some of the them did not know how to behave towards
5 Q. And I'm going to ask you one very simple question. Did you take
6 the view, when you first saw this document as a corps commander, that it
7 changed the relationship between a commander and his security organ or
8 merely restated the position as it was?
9 A. Your Honours, I'm a trained officer, and I knew how one should
10 treat the security organs. This is an instruction intended for those
11 young commanders who had arrived without having completed any training
12 beyond military academy, and they didn't know how to behave. So they
13 made use of these people in ways other than what they were supposed to be
14 doing. Nothing changed here. I acted like that even before.
15 Q. Thank you. Then I will leave this topic now, General Simic.
16 Now, I want to move on to something you were telling us about a
17 unit from your corps that went to the Zvornik area. And just so we give
18 it some background, your headquarters were in Bijeljina; is that right?
19 A. Yes. Yes, in Bijeljina.
20 Q. And that would be, would you agree with me, about a 120
21 kilometres from Srebrenica?
22 A. Maybe more.
23 Q. Thank you. You told us about speaking to General Miletic on the
24 telephone. Can you recall what date that was when you had the
25 conversation with General Miletic on the telephone about picking up
1 prisoners from the Zvornik area?
2 A. Your Honours, I am not quite sure. I thought it was before the
3 fall of Srebrenica, but following the trial of General Krstic, I thought
4 that these prisoners would not be able to arrive in the primary school in
5 Pilica before the fall of Srebrenica. So this was after the fall of
7 Q. Thank you. And can you recall whether it was at a time when, as
8 you told us, you could hear artillery fire from Bijeljina?
9 A. Your Honours, after the fall of Srebrenica, artillery fire
10 continued because the operation at Zepa was ongoing, and all this was
11 across from where I was.
12 Q. Okay. Now, during the month of July of 1995, did you only send
13 the one unit to the Zvornik area?
14 A. Your Honours, I didn't send a single unit to the Zvornik area.
15 I -- in the border area between my corps and the Drina Corps, I sent a
16 battalion commander of the military police with a military police company
17 to the village of Pilica, to report there with the intention of taking
18 prisoner a certain number of members of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina
19 for exchange purposes. It was not our intention to participate in the
20 combat activities. Actually, there were none in that area.
21 Q. So it was a platoon. How many men was that, and whose command
22 were they under?
23 A. I already said I didn't send the battalion commander to make the
24 situation more serious because he was a major, whereas the battalion
25 commander was a lieutenant, and there are 30 soldiers in a platoon.
1 THE INTERPRETER: Platoon commander, interpreter's correction.
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I didn't send a platoon. I sent a
3 company numbering about 80 men.
4 MR. HAYNES:
5 Q. Right, and how did they go to Pilica from Bijeljina? Presumably
6 they were transported in some way?
7 A. Your Honours, I ordered the commander apart from the
8 establishment vehicles he has at his disposal to take a certain number of
9 transport vehicles from his unit in order to be able to transport those
10 soldiers when they were taken prisoner.
11 Q. So it's about 30 men with a commander being transported and
12 taking with them a number of transport vehicles; that's correct?
13 A. You understood this correctly. I think there were two combat
15 MR. HAYNES: Well, I wonder if we could have a look, then, please
16 at the Zvornik brigade duty officers' notebook for the 16th of July of
17 1995. That's P377 at page 146, both in English and B/C/S. And we are
18 looking for an entry at 1050.
19 Q. Can you see the entry at 1050 where it says: "35 soldiers from
20 the Eastern Bosnia Corps were send to the forward command post"? Can you
21 see that?
22 A. I do. I see it, Your Honour.
23 Q. Do you know where the forward command post of the Zvornik Brigade
25 A. I don't know, Your Honours. I didn't send anyone to the forward
1 command post.
2 Q. These must be the soldiers that went -- that you thought had gone
3 to Pilica, mustn't they? 16th of July, 35 soldiers from your corps being
4 sent to the forward command post of the Zvornik Brigade. This must be
5 the unit that came from Bijeljina to Pilica as you believed.
6 A. Your Honours, this unit did not go further than Pilica. It
7 didn't go beyond Pilica. Perhaps someone told him they would go to the
8 forward command post, but they didn't. They didn't go beyond Pilica
9 because in Pilica they came across a barricade, and the road was closed
10 for traffic.
11 Q. According to your recollection, how long was this unit of men out
12 of your zone of responsibility and in Pilica? When did they come back?
13 A. Your Honours, like every normal commander, I expected our
14 opponents to launch an assault on the forces -- on our forces to cut off
15 the corridor and draw out our forces. Under normal circumstances, that
16 would have been what was expected, so I took my forces and went to the
17 corridor. I was there in the area of Brcko, and I came back at around
18 1800 hours, and I met the battalion commander while driving through the
19 town. He was wearing a civilian suit. He was wearing civilian clothes.
20 I stopped and I was angry. I said, Why are you not performing your task?
21 And he said, We came back right away. And I said, Why did you come back?
22 Why didn't you carry out the task? And he said, When we got to Pilica,
23 in the school we found people there. They gave them to us. We
24 transported them. There they are in Batkovic. They're having lunch,
25 they're having a bath, and they're being listed by the Red Cross.
1 I was a bit angry, and then I had to apologise for thinking that
2 he hadn't completed the task. This unit did not go beyond Pilica, and it
3 came back very quickly. It did not participate as a combat unit but more
4 as an escort unit transporting prisoners.
5 MR. HAYNES: Well, I wonder, therefore, in the light of that
6 answer whether we can look at page 185 of the zone duty officers'
7 notebook, both in English and B/C/S.
8 Q. And what you need to focus on, General Simic, is the bracketed
9 section right in the middle of the page where it says: "Deputy commander
10 called from Bijeljina, the unit from Baljkovica is to be sent back to
11 Bijeljina..." and the platoon was sent to Bijeljina.
12 Now, this is the Zvornik Brigade duty operations officers'
13 logbook for the 26th of July. Did you have any knowledge as commander
14 that a platoon of your men were in the Baljkovica forward command post
15 area of the Zvornik Brigade for ten days?
16 A. Your Honours, we are now -- first, we're talking about the
17 police, and now we're talking about a platoon from Baljkovica.
18 Baljkovica is not in my area. It's in the border area between the East
19 Bosnia Corps and the Drina Corps. I don't know what a platoon in
20 Baljkovica would be doing going to Bijeljina, if it was from Baljkovica.
21 MR. HAYNES: Well, can we have a look at P3 for a second --
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I haven't finished, please. I
23 haven't finished.
24 Your Honours, not a single unit of the East Bosnia Corps
25 participated in the Srebrenica operation.
1 MR. HAYNES:
2 Q. Well, I just want to see if I can help you with what this entry
4 MR. HAYNES: We're going to have a look at P346, which is the
5 regular combat report for the 26th of July, 1995.
6 Q. And can you look at the last bullet point under paragraph 2,
7 because this clears up any ambiguity in the duty officers' logbook, where
8 it says: "At its own request, the police platoon from Bijeljina was sent
9 back to its destination."
10 So it wasn't a unit from Baljkovica. That's where it was being
11 deployed. It was a unit from Bijeljina, which must make it the same
12 police unit you've been talking about, mustn't it?
13 A. Your Honours, first of all, in the second part we can see that
14 there was an ambush in the areas of Pantorica [phoen], Rabic, and the
15 school in Baljkovica, which means that Baljkovica is in the area of the
16 Drina Corps. Secondly, the police platoon from Bijeljina doesn't have to
17 be a military police platoon from Bijeljina. It's the civilian police,
18 not the military police. So please don't mix up the civilian police and
19 the military police. The civilian police came to Pilica [as
20 interpreted], took these prisoners, took them to Batkovic, and came back
21 in a matter of three hours, and they had nothing to do with the combat
22 operations in the area of the Zvornik Brigade. That's an insinuation, I
24 Q. Very well. I just want to show you one more document before we
25 finish --
1 MR. HAYNES: And that's 7D712, please.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Thayer.
3 MR. THAYER: I'm sorry to intervene, especially right at the
5 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, go ahead.
6 MR. THAYER: Just a clarification for the transcript. The
7 transcript says: "The civilian police came to Pilica..." and I'll just
8 leave it there. I just want to note that in case it needs clarification.
9 MR. HAYNES: Thanks. I hadn't spotted that.
10 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Haynes.
11 MR. HAYNES: I'm not going to tidy that up because I just want to
12 show this gentleman one more document, and then I'll finish at the break.
13 JUDGE AGIUS: Any time it's convenient to you, we'll have the
15 MR. HAYNES: Well, I'm going to finish.
16 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay, thank you. Then go ahead.
17 MR. HAYNES: Thank you.
18 Q. Of course, the prison camp at Batkovici was within your, as it
19 were, zone as commander of the East Bosnia Corps, wasn't it?
20 A. Yes, it was.
21 Q. And you were just telling us about how the commander of this
22 police platoon had told you later the same day that the people he had
23 collected had been registered by the Red Cross and were sitting having a
24 meal or something; is that right?
25 A. That's what he told me.
1 MR. HAYNES: I wonder whether we could have a look. It's just
2 perhaps the second page of this document, so that the witness can see the
3 substance of it rather than the cover. There should be a list of names,
4 so can we try the third page. Thank you. Can we turn that around so
5 that the witness can identify what it is.
6 Q. Have you ever seen a document like that before, General Simic?
7 A. No, Your Honours. I did not deal with exchanges. There was a
8 commission that did that.
9 Q. But were you aware that -- that prisoners taken to Batkovici were
10 registered and this sort of information was taken from them?
11 A. That was the normal procedure, Your Honours.
12 Q. Thank you. Well, I'll have to leave it there. But just one last
13 thing. In relation to this excursion by a police platoon to Pilica, who
14 did you inform that they were coming in the Zvornik Brigade or the Drina
16 A. Your Honours, I've already said three times that I asked General
17 Miletic to contact them and tell them that this unit be arriving. He
18 promised me he would do that and that I could begin preparations.
19 Q. And did you check back with him whether he had and who he had
20 spoken to?
21 A. I passed this on to the duty operations officer because I -- as I
22 told you, I had to go to the Brcko corridor urgently, so I didn't check
23 that personally.
24 Q. That's the duty operations officer of the East Bosnia Corps?
25 A. That's right.
1 MR. HAYNES: Thank you, General Simic.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you, Mr. Haynes. We'll have a 20-minute
3 break starting from now.
4 --- Recess taken at 12.05 p.m.
5 --- On resuming at 12.28 p.m.
6 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Thayer.
7 MR. THAYER: Thank you, Mr. President.
8 Cross-examination by Mr. Thayer:
9 Q. Good afternoon, General.
10 A. Good afternoon.
11 Q. We met briefly in the witness room a couple of days ago, but
12 allow me to introduce myself formally for the record. My name is Nelson
13 Thayer. I'll be asking you some questions on behalf of the Prosecution.
14 Now, sir, during your service as a JNA officer, is it fair to say
15 that except for the three years - I believe you spoke about - in Sarajevo
16 at the Viktor Bubanja barracks, you sent most of your career at the 329th
17 Armoured Brigade at the Kozara barracks in Banja Luka?
18 A. Yes, Your Honours, but I also spent two stints in education in
20 Q. What I'd like to do, General, just briefly, is get a better idea
21 of the geographic territory covered by your corps' area of
23 MR. THAYER: If we could have 65 ter 2108. That's also map 3 in
24 the map book.
25 Q. I just want to ask you a couple of quick questions just to give
1 us a better idea of the lay of the land in your territory.
2 Sir, we can see, at least in English, the East Bosnian Corps in
3 the upper right-hand corner of the map with Bijeljina marked there. Do
4 you see that, General?
5 A. Yes, Your Honours. I can see that. However, the map does not
6 reflect the true situation, because the corps went westwards up to the
7 river Bosna, whereas here I can see the area depicted only up to Brcko.
8 Q. Thank you, General. And we have the Drina river to your right
9 border and the river Sava to the north; is that correct?
10 A. Correct. And then from the mouth of the river Bosna to the town
11 of Modrica, and then it follows the ethnic border all the way to
13 Q. And you just mentioned Brcko. In addition, you also had the
14 Ugljevik obstina in your AOR
15 A. Just for your information, in my AOR there were the following
16 municipalities: Bijeljina, Ugljevik, Lopare, Brcko, Pelagicevo, Samac,
17 and a part of Modrica.
18 Q. And as we can see from the map, your corps was contiguous to the
19 south with the northern-most reach of the Drina Corps and the Zvornik
20 municipality, correct?
21 A. Correct.
22 Q. Okay.
23 MR. THAYER: We're done with the map. Let me move along. Thank
25 Q. I just want to identify some of your key staff in 1995. We've
1 heard some names, and we've seen some names in documents, and we may see
2 a few, so let me just make sure I've got some of these members of your
3 command and staff correct. In 1995, was Colonel, later Major-General,
4 Budimir Gavric your Chief of Staff?
5 A. And also my deputy.
6 Q. And was Colonel Radenko Gengo still your ops chief in 1995?
7 A. Radenko Gengo was not my ops chief. He was the assistant Chief
8 of Staff, Budimir Gavric, for operations and training. Your Honours, I
9 would kindly ask you to take into account that the establishment of the
10 army of Republika Srpska was taken over from the establishment of the
11 former JNA, which was based on the Russian doctrine and the old kingdom
12 of Yugoslavia's doctrine. The Prosecutor mentions this ops chief, which
13 is part of the NATO structure and plays a different role than our chief
14 of operations and training.
15 In NATO, the assistant for operations is in command of operation.
16 He has the right to command. Our assistant for operations and training
17 does not have the right of command, either at the level of the brigade or
18 the corps level or the Main Staff level. Please make sure you take this
19 into account.
20 Q. Thank you, General. And was the late Colonel Slobodan Jelacic
21 still your assistant commander for morale in 1995?
22 A. Yes, Your Honours, he was.
23 Q. And again, in 1995 was Colonel Milenko Todorovic still your
24 security chief?
25 A. Milenko Todorovic, colonel, was the security chief in my corps.
1 Q. And was he the security chief who replaced the one you spoke
2 about yesterday, or was there one in between?
3 A. Your Honours, I must go back a bit further. Milenko Todorovic
4 was initially there for three months, and then for family reasons - he
5 had some problems - he had to leave Bijeljina, and he was replaced by his
6 deputy, a young major who had a rather hard time finding his ground. And
7 then he was replaced by Colonel Petar Jakovljevic at my request.
8 Unfortunately, he has died in the meantime. Before that, he was the
9 chief of security in the 30th Infantry Division of the 1st Krajina Corps.
10 After a year, maybe a year and a half, he returned to the 1st Corps, and
11 Todorovic returned to his original position where he remained until the
12 end of the war.
13 So this would be my correction of that part of the interview from
14 which I omitted this information.
15 Q. Thank you for the clarification. Now, in the AOR of your corps,
16 there was a Main Staff logistics base, correct?
17 A. That's correct. According to our rules, in the zone of
18 responsibility you can also find a unit that is directly tied to the Main
19 Staff. In my case, it was the 35th logistics base.
20 Q. And that was located in Bijeljina; is that right?
21 A. Correct. It was headquartered in the Vojvoda Stepa barracks in
23 Q. And if we were to see that abbreviated, it would be written 35
24 POB; do I have that right?
25 A. Yes, it would be 35.Pob. Its commander was Colonel Jovo
2 Q. This may be an obvious question to you, General, but that means
3 it wasn't under your direct command, correct?
4 A. No, Your Honours. Although it was in my zone, it was not under
5 my command. However, due to some problems in the garrison, we had to
6 cooperate. In addition to that, I also had a Prosecutor's Office and a
7 corps, which were also not under my command. But I had to provide them
8 with my military policeman to provide security. I had to supply them
9 with fuel. They even complained they did not have vehicles. So
10 sometimes I would meet with them as the commander of the territory to
11 help them deal with their problems, the problems they encountered in
12 their work. Having said that, I would like to emphasize that they were
13 not under my command.
14 Q. Okay, General. I'd like to turn your attention to a different
15 area for a little while. And specifically, I want to take you back to a
16 meeting you told the OTP about in 2004 during your interview. That
17 meeting took place on the 2nd of September, 1992, in Bijeljina. Do you
18 recall that meeting, General?
19 A. I do, Your Honours.
20 Q. And what was the purpose of that meeting? Please tell the Trial
22 A. Your Honours, I was new to my duty as -- as a corps commander,
23 and in the takeover of duties I received a document issued by the
24 municipality of Bijeljina by which it ordered the command of the East
25 Bosnia Corps to leave the territory not only of Bijeljina but entire
1 Semberija and that the barracks should be handed over to a paramilitary
2 formation called Tigrovi or also known as Arkan's Guard. I called the
3 gentleman in question, whose name I can't remember at the moment - I
4 believe that his name was Jokovic - and I told him that he did not have
5 any authorities and that he cannot command the military and that what he
6 sent me was sheer nonsense and it should be withdrawn. However, he was
7 persistent, and he was impertinent, and he told me, First, obey the order
8 and then complain.
9 And then I took this document of his. I stapled it to my
10 document, and I asked them to answer me, Who's my commander? Who is
11 above me. And I sent that both to the Main Staff and also to the members
12 of the presidency through the Main Staff, i.e., to the Supreme Command.
13 I took that opportunity to talk to them as well. That same evening,
14 General Mladic called me and asked me to meet him in the office, and he
15 wanted to see the president as well -- the president was also supposed to
16 come and that they would come with helicopter. However, two helicopters
17 arrived later, but there was a general with his inner circle and present
18 were the members of the presidency and some party members whom I didn't
19 know that well.
20 Then we all left to the municipality of Bijeljina, to whom he had
21 sent an order before asking them for all the Assemblymen together. He
22 wanted to see all the deputies and members of the Republika Srpska
23 parliament, and I believe that a commissioner of the government for
24 Semberija was also there, Mr. Miskin. In addition to the president,
25 General Subotic was there as the Minister of Defence; I believe that the
1 Minister of the Interior was also there; and prime minister, Mr. Dzeric.
2 They were all there.
3 After a very heated discussion that took place at the meeting,
4 the president replaced the president of the municipality. I believe that
5 he was taken into custody, and the other people who were present at the
6 meeting also took part in the discussion. On the following day upon
7 General Mladic's order, I briefed General Mladic and others with the
8 situation in the corps, and I introduced them to my commanders who talked
9 to him about the situation in their respective units. Well, that -- they
10 did just to take the opportunity, since they were already there.
11 Q. Okay, General. I may not have asked my question clearly enough.
12 Do you recall a meeting in which President Karadzic spoke and
13 Mr. Krajisnik spoke, as well, and which was also attended by various
14 corps commanders? We may be talking about the same meeting; we may not
15 be, I just want to make sure we are before we go any further.
16 A. I believe that we're talking about the same meeting. The
17 objectives of the war, the strategic objectives of the war were put forth
18 on that occasion.
19 Q. Okay. I just want to make sure. It's Friday, and I may be a
20 little slow. Do you recall what President Karadzic spoke about at this
21 meeting in addition to the topics you've already told us about? Just
22 generally speaking, General.
23 A. Your Honours, after such a long time it's very difficult for me
24 to remember, but I know that when we're talking about the strategic goals
25 of the war, it wasn't him who put those forth. It was actually the
1 speaker of the parliament, Mr. Krajisnik, who did that. President
2 Karadzic spoke mostly about the local issues, the interference of the
3 local government in the command of the military. He was rather angry,
4 and he threatened the municipal authorities and his people from the
5 party, warning them that this should not repeat again.
6 Q. And both General Mladic and General Gvero were there, and they
7 both addressed this gathering, as well, correct?
8 A. Yes, Your Honours, and the basic thesis that they supported at
9 the meeting was the necessity to proclaim the state of war, which would
10 lead to the normal functioning of every segment of society and put
11 conditions in place for fighting in the war.
12 Q. You --
13 A. I apologise. I know that General Gvero said that the war had
14 been opposed -- imposed upon us but that it was a just war - I remember
15 that sentence very well - and that at all social capacities had to focus
16 on that one task.
17 Q. You told us a moment ago that Mr. Krajisnik spoke about the six
18 strategic objectives of the Serbian people in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Was
19 this the first time that you had heard of these strategic objectives,
20 these six strategic objectives, General?
21 A. Your Honour, I heard those for the first time. I can repeat
22 them. I don't know whether I can do it in the right order. The first
23 goal was for us to be separated from the Muslims; the second goal was
24 something to do with corridors, the corridor through Posavina and one to
25 Herzegovina, I believe; the third was Sarajevo as a divided city; and the
1 fourth, the border on the Drina, but the Serbian border on the Drina; the
2 fifth was the border on the Neretva river; and the sixth goal was exit to
3 the sea, if my memory serves me well. I believe it does. It was
4 something more or less to that effect.
5 Q. Now, during your 2004 interview, you brought with you several
6 notebooks or war diaries containing notes of meetings and so forth. The
7 investigators copied your 1992 diary, but you made it clear that as for
8 the rest of them, those contained your personal thoughts and private
9 notes, and you preferred that they be kept secret, and we're going to
10 respect that, General. But we do have your 1992 diary, so let's have a
11 quick look at a couple of pages from that, and then I'll move on to some
12 other questions.
13 MR. THAYER: May we have 65 ter 3927 please, and if I have my
14 math right, it will be page 35 of the document.
15 Q. And while we're waiting for this, General, just so you know, if
16 you see me looking away, I'm not being rude. I'm just making sure that
17 I'm following the transcript, the simultaneous transcript.
18 Now, if we look to the left at the bottom, you identify the
19 speaker - and I'm sorry we don't have a translation of this in English.
20 But --
21 A. Do you want me to read it?
22 Q. Well, can you just read -- if you've identified who the speaker
23 is, can you just tell us who that is there that you've underlined on the
24 lower left at the bottom, there.
25 A. This was written in a hurry, and the handwriting is not really
1 legible, but it was written by Mr. Krajisnik, and I can read you what I
2 wrote if you want it to be interpreted.
3 Q. Well, my question is actually more simple, and I'll just put it
4 to you directly. Lower left-hand corner, you identify the speaker as the
5 president of the assembly, Krajisnik; is that correct, General?
6 A. No, it was Krajisnik.
7 Q. Okay. Thank you, General. Now, if we look to the right, do you
8 see where you've written "strategic goals"?
9 A. Yes, I do. I haven't grown old yet. It's just the way I said it
11 Q. And would you just read what you wrote as you were listening to
12 President -- Mr. Krajisnik present those objectives.
13 A. "Strategic goals:
14 "1. The first goal is separation from the Muslims.
15 "2. Corridors.
16 "3. Division of Sarajevo.
17 "4. The Drina river valley - Serbs.
18 "5. Border on the river Neretva.
19 "6. Exit to the sea."
20 Q. Thank you, General.
21 MR. THAYER: And we're done with the General's notebook. Thank
23 Q. General, in your interview you referred to, and I quote: "The
24 Serbian traditional aspiration of both sides of the Drina river." Can
25 you just tell us as simply as you can, what does that mean when you told
1 us about that in 2004 after reviewing these six strategic goals? Can you
2 tell us how you understood that, what you meant to say?
3 A. Your Honours, the ethnic area of the Serbs through the centuries
4 stretched from Serbia through Bosnia-Herzegovina, partly Slavonia, and up
5 to about half of Croatia. Unfortunately, because of wars and the large
6 losses suffered by the Serbs in every war and especially in World War II,
7 the ethnic map shrank little by little. However, among the people, the
8 desire always persisted for the Serbs to live in a single state. This
9 was achieved after World War II, but with the creation -- or, rather,
10 with the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the creation of new states, this
11 ceased to be the case, and the situation reverted to what it had been
12 before World War I.
13 The Bosnian Serbs always felt that Serbia was their homeland,
14 their motherland, and their wish has always been to live in a single
15 state with the Serbs in Serbia. This was especially strong, this feeling
16 in the border areas between Bosnia and Serbia where the links - not only
17 traffic links but also family links - were very well developed.
18 Q. Now, General, during your interview, you made an observation in
19 the context of the Srebrenica enclave and directive or -- I apologise,
20 Strategic Goal 4. Is it fair to say that the -- with the Srebrenica
21 enclave being situated where it is geographically, in the Drina river
22 valley, that liberating Srebrenica was certainly key to achieving
23 Strategic Goal number 4?
24 A. Your Honours, the Drina river valley was Serbian even when the
25 Srebrenica enclave was in existence, and it would probably not have been
1 a problem at all had the enclave behaved as such, complying with
2 international standards. It was a protected area, so it should have
3 disarmed, and in that case, there would probably not have been any
4 problems. There wouldn't have been any problems with the arrival of
5 humanitarian aid, either.
6 However, the units in the enclave remained armed. There were
7 constant incursions against the surrounding Serbian villages, and this
8 constantly worked to create a negative charge, not only among the
9 surrounding population but all the inhabitants of the Republika Srpska
10 and the wish to have Srebrenica finished once and for all, and probably
11 the only way to do this was by military means. In my view, it would have
12 been much better had it been done through negotiations or some sort of
13 exchange of territories, but evidently the will for that did not exist on
14 the other side.
15 Q. Understood, General, and you'll hear no argument from the
16 Prosecution that the Bosnian Muslims in the Srebrenica enclave did some
17 bad things, both before the establishment of the safe area and during its
18 establishment. My question to you, though, is again, I think as you
19 observed in your interview, with respect to the enclave itself and its
20 position vis-a-vis that border that you were talking about, it was
21 important to liberate that enclave in order to achieve that - as you said
22 - traditional Serb dream of having a borderless Drina river valley?
23 A. Your Honours, I repeat. Had the enclave been demilitarised and
24 had it not represented a threat, no one would have interfered with it. I
25 think that the decision of the political and military leaderships to
1 defeat the enclave by military means was probably caused by the threat it
3 Whether it had anything to do with the goals of the war, well, as
4 I've already said, from the source of the river --
5 THE INTERPRETER: Or, rather, interpreter's correction: From the
6 mouth of the river Drina.
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] -- apart from a small area in Zepa,
8 the river Drina was in the hands of the Serbian army. I don't think that
9 was the decisive factor. I may be wrong, Your Honours, but that's my
11 MR. THAYER:
12 Q. Now, General, I thought you provided you a very insightful
13 encapsulation in your interview of how the strategic goals were
14 translated into military tasks, and this was at page 138 of your
15 interview. You said, and I quote: "So the armed forces, the army had to
16 receive -- had to be given these strategic goals, which they were given,
17 and then it was up to the Main Staff to transform this strategic goal,
18 which is a political goal, into the military" -- and there is a word
19 missing in the transcript, and maybe you can help us out with that --
20 "... through operations, through time planning, through use of manpower,
21 forces, et cetera."
22 A. Your Honours, that's the normal procedure, for politics to
23 determine the goals. I have to say right away, it's politics that starts
24 a war, wages a war, and ends a war. The military and the armed forces
25 are only a means by which this is implemented. In wartime, it's
1 implemented through the military. In peacetime, goals are implemented
2 through political means. Strategic goals are put before the military,
3 and the military has to implement short-term and long-term tasks.
4 You have seen that one of the goals was the border on the
5 Neretva, which we never achieved. One of the strategic goals was an exit
6 to the sea, which we never had achieved. Even the division of Sarajevo
7 was not done properly because we only a very small part of Sarajevo in
8 these demarcations and so on. Whether this was the primary goal of
9 politics, I don't know because it became topical because of events on the
10 ground. Well, I can't say whether it did or not, but as a rule it's the
11 politicians or, rather, the Supreme Commander, the Supreme Defence
12 Counsel that sets the strategic goals and -- and imposes a time-frame on
13 what has to be done.
14 Let me repeat: It would have been much easier had a state of war
15 been declared. I am convinced the war would not have lasted for four
16 years, and it would have been waged according to all the principles that
17 should be upheld in a just way and that all the crimes that unfortunately
18 occurred would not have occurred. As a rule, or, rather, in general, I
19 can answer your question as follows: It's politics that sets the goals
20 and the military that implements them.
21 Q. And you spoke - I think it was yesterday, General - about the
22 annual process of analysis, learning from the prior year's successes and
23 failures, and how that process leads to the Main Staff and the Supreme
24 Command drafting the strategic tasks that are to be implemented in the
25 forthcoming period. I just want to make sure I've got -- I've understood
1 your testimony correctly.
2 We saw the 1994 briefing on combat readiness being conducted at
3 the very end of January of 1995, and then just over a month later,
4 Directive 7 is issued. Do I have that correct, General?
5 A. Yes, you understood me correctly.
6 Q. And was it the case that directives would typically follow these
7 combat readiness briefings?
8 A. As a rule, a directive is a general document, and it ought to
9 reflect the tasks for at a year; but because of the situation on the
10 ground and various new details that come up, it can be issued more
11 frequently if some things cease to be valid or other things come up, and
12 that's what happened in 1992, for example. We had three or four
13 directives - or it may have been 1993; I don't remember anymore - and
14 then there came a time when there was only one directive per year.
15 Q. So to condense it just a bit, General, would you agree that
16 Directive 7 is an example of what you've spoken about, what you've been
17 speaking about, this transformation of the strategic political goals into
18 concrete military tasks to achieve those goals?
19 A. Let me repeat. The commander of the Main Staff of the Supreme
20 Commander can issue a directive. In this case, he was present at the
21 briefing and he issued the directive, and it was only drawn up by persons
22 in the Main Staff who did the technical part of the job. But it's a
23 result of the consultation that was held, and it reflects the tasks set
24 by the Supreme Commander.
25 Q. And in the case of Directive 7, that does go back to the briefing
1 that was held at the end of January; is that fair to say, General?
2 A. That's correct, yes.
3 Q. Now, in the couple of minutes we've got left today, and on the
4 topic of politicians, during the war you never joined the SDS, did you,
6 A. That's correct, or after the war either.
7 Q. And was there ever any attempt to get you to join, any influence
8 brought on you to do that?
9 A. Yes, Your Honour. Once, even the president of the republic came
10 to see me and tried to persuade me to do that.
11 Q. Now, when you were in the JNA, you were a member of the Communist
12 Party because the fact was you couldn't be an officer without being a
13 member; is that fair to say, General?
14 A. That's correct. It was a one-party system, and I said to the
15 president, We are creating a new kind of society now with a multi-party
16 system. I do not wish to be the general of a single party. I wish to be
17 a general of the people, of the whole army, and for this reason I don't
18 want to join any political party. I feel this is incompatible with the
19 duty of an officer because then if the government changes, we have to
20 change all the officers, and officers are experts. They're
21 professionals. That wouldn't be possible.
22 Q. And when you were a corps commander, for example, you faced
23 hostility from local, municipal, political authorities because they
24 didn't trust you; they called you an old communist, for example. Is that
1 A. Unfortunately, the members of the party who were in power
2 mistrusted us because we did not join their party. That's why they paid
3 more attention to the reserve officers than they did to us who are
4 professional officers. Throughout the war, I felt that I was there due
5 to force of circumstances, because of my professional knowledge, but if
6 they had someone else that they would replace me very quickly.
7 Q. And yourself and other professional JNA-trained officers were, in
8 fact, branded as old communists or un -- reconstructed communists and so
9 forth; is that correct, General?
10 A. Your Honours, whoever held any responsible post in the former
11 Yugoslavia could not do so unless he was a communist. We used to say
12 that you couldn't even be the security man at the door or a fireman if he
13 didn't join the communist party; and once the war broke out, only we
14 officers were treated as old communists, and everybody else pretended
15 they hadn't been communists. And when they had nothing else to hold
16 against me, they would say, You're an old communist. Well, I had been,
17 but I wasn't anymore. But the person saying that had also been a
18 communist before, and he said, Well, I've renounced that. Had I not
19 renounced it, I would not have participated in the war.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Shall we stop here?
21 MR. THAYER: I see it's time for the break.
22 JUDGE AGIUS: General, we are going to stop here. We'll continue
23 Monday in the morning. In the meantime, have a nice weekend, and please
24 refrain from communicating with anyone on the subject matter of your
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I'm disappointed. I
2 am here for the 14th day now. I thought we would be finished before
3 that. I thought I would be at home over the weekend.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: We had hoped, too, but at least you will be able to
5 enjoy the weather. Thank you.
6 Ms. Fauveau.
7 MS. FAUVEAU: [Interpretation] Your Honour, in order to avoid any
8 confusion, I wanted to tell you that the following witness is not on the
9 list for next week because we thought that he would be able to testify
10 this week. It's the witness that's to be found on the list for this
12 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Okay. Thank you. So we stand
14 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1.16 p.m.,
15 to be reconvened on Monday, the 24th day of
16 November, 2008, at 9.00 a.m.