1 Monday, 29 May 2006
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 2.17 p.m.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Registrar, could you call
6 the case, please.
7 THE REGISTRAR: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. Good
8 day to all. Case number IT-04-74-T, the Prosecutor versus Prlic et al.
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. Registrar. On
10 behalf of the Judges, I would like to greet everyone present in the
11 courtroom. And I would like to ask Mr. Scott to introduce his assistant
12 who is sitting to his left.
13 MR. SCOTT: Good afternoon, Mr. President, Your Honours. Joining
14 me in the courtroom today is Tonia Gillett, an attorney also with the OTP.
15 Thank you.
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. Scott.
17 I won't ask for the appearances for the Defence counsel as nothing
18 has changed.
19 Today on the 29th of May, 2006, we will be calling in a witness.
20 I'll now ask the usher to call the witness into the courtroom.
21 [The witness entered court]
22 WITNESS: MILIVOJ GAGRO
23 [Witness answered through interpreter]
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Good day, sir. I would first
25 like to make sure that you are receiving the interpretation of what is
1 being said. If so, please say that you can understand what is being said.
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I can hear you and I understand you.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Before you take the solemn
4 declaration, could you please tell me your first and last names and your
5 date of birth.
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] My name is Milivoj Gagro. I was
7 born on the 2nd of June, 1940.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] What is your current profession?
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I am a pensioner.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Sir, have you already testified
11 before an international or national court with regard to the events that
12 took place in your country in 1992, 1993, and 1994, or is this the first
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This is the first time I appear
15 before the international court.
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] And have you already testified
17 before a national court?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, I haven't.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. The usher will show
20 you the slip of paper now.
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
22 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you. You may sit down
25 Before I give the floor to the Prosecution for their
1 examination-in-chief, I would like to provide you with some information.
2 As you are aware, you have been called here as a witness for the
3 Prosecution. You will be testifying in the Prlic et al. case, as you're
4 well aware. First you'll have to answer questions put to you by the
5 Prosecution, whom you have met when being proofed for this hearing, and
6 once the examination-in-chief has been concluded, the Defence teams for
7 the accused, who are to your left, will conduct their cross-examination.
8 If the need arises and if the accused believe it is in the interest of
9 their defence, the accused may also put questions to you. The four Judges
10 sitting before you may also at any point in time put questions to you.
11 This is provided for in the Rules.
12 For example, in the Nuremberg trials, it was possible for the
13 Judges to put questions to the witness. Other international tribunals
14 have proceeded in this manner. You will notice that the questions put to
15 you can vary, depending on the party putting the question to you. The
16 Prosecution will put questions that will be phrased in neutral terms.
17 However, Defence counsel can put leading questions to you as a result of
18 which you can answer by saying either yes or no. As far as the Judges are
19 concerned, the nature of their questions is somewhat different. We are
20 trying to establish what the truth is, or we're trying to obtain certain
21 clarifications with regard to witness's testimony in the course of the
22 examination-in-chief or in the course of the cross-examination.
23 If you encounter any difficulties of any kind, please inform us of
24 the fact. You have taken the solemn declaration. You have sworn to speak
25 the truth, which means that you should not give false testimony, but you
1 are well aware of the fact.
2 In addition, every one and a half hours we will have a 20-minute
3 break. At about 1530 we will have a 20-minute break, and today it is
4 necessary to conclude by 7.00 p.m.
5 Without wasting any more time, I will now give the floor to the
6 Prosecution who will commence with their examination-in-chief.
7 Examination by Mr. Scott:
8 Q. Good afternoon, Mr. Gagro.
9 A. Good afternoon.
10 Q. Sir, can you give us your date of birth, please.
11 A. 2nd of June, 1940.
12 Q. And I thought perhaps it was in the record, but in case it was
13 not, would you again state your full name for the record.
14 A. My name is Milivoj Gagro.
15 Q. And where were you born, sir?
16 A. I was born in Hodbine, which is near Mostar.
17 Q. And, sir, do you identify yourself as a Croat?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. I would like to briefly take you through some of your personal
20 background, both educational and professional background. If I understand
21 correctly, sir, you received a degree in civil engineering from the
22 University of Zagreb in 1969. Is that correct?
23 A. That's correct.
24 Q. And you served a period of military service with the JNA during
25 the approximate time 1967 to 1968; is that correct?
1 A. Yes, during that period of time.
2 Q. And upon receiving your -- upon being discharged from the JNA and
3 receiving your degree, you went to Mostar in approximately 1969, or
4 returned to Mostar.
5 A. That's correct.
6 Q. And from approximately 1969 to 1990, you were employed at the
7 Institute of Urban Planning; is that correct?
8 A. That's correct.
9 Q. All right. That brings us up, then, to 1990. Around that time,
10 sir, did you become involved in political matters in the Mostar area,
11 1989, 1990?
12 A. It's difficult for me to specify what sort of political matters I
13 was involved in. Perhaps you could clarify your question and be more
15 Q. Did you become involved in a political party known as the Croatian
16 Democratic Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. And in that capacity or as part of that -- as part of your
19 involvement in that party, did you run for the Mostar municipal -- for a
20 position or a seat in the Mostar Municipal Assembly in the multi-party
21 elections in December, 1990?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. And were you successful in being elected to the Mostar Assembly?
24 A. Yes. I was on the HDZ list.
25 Q. Can you tell the Judges, do you recall approximately how many
1 seats comprise the Mostar Municipal Assembly as of that time, December,
3 A. The Assembly was supposed to elect 100 members.
4 Q. All right. And can you tell the Judges, of those 100 seats,
5 approximately how many seats did the HDZ party win as a result of those
7 A. At those first multi-party elections, the HDZ obtained 30 seats in
8 the Mostar Assembly.
9 Q. And you obtained one of those seats; is that correct?
10 A. One of those seats was mine.
11 JUDGE TRECHSEL: In the transcript on line 5 the answer is given
12 as, "The Assembly was supposed to elect 100 members." Is that correct or
13 is it to have 100 members?
14 MR. SCOTT:
15 Q. Mr. Gagro, did you hear the Judge's question, and could you
16 possibly clarify that?
17 A. According to the electoral programme, a hundred members of the
18 Assembly were supposed to be elected.
19 Q. If I can come at it this way, sir: Was the Municipal Assembly at
20 that time composed of approximately 100 seats or positions?
21 A. One hundred seats.
22 Q. All right. Now, sir, in addition to being elected as a member of
23 the Assembly at this time, did you then subsequently become, or as part of
24 this process become selected as the mayor of Mostar?
25 A. No. It was organised in a somewhat different manner at the time.
1 A president of the Assembly would be elected, president of the Municipal
2 Assembly, and in that capacity he had the competence of a mayor.
3 Q. All right. Well, please explain to the Judges in your own words
4 the process by which you became the mayor of Mostar in approximately 1990.
5 A. After the Assembly had been constituted, after the mandates had
6 been confirmed for the Mostar Municipal Assembly, at the first constituent
7 session the most senior member of the Assembly presided over the debates,
8 and there was an inter-party agreement, and the most senior member would
9 determine all the functions of importance for that Assembly. So at that
10 session of the Assembly, an HDZ member was proposed as the Assembly
11 president, and that was myself. There was a different representative
12 proposed for the SDS and for the SDA. They had the president of the
13 Executive Board elected. Those three positions were voted on, and all
14 three candidates were elected to those positions at that session.
15 Q. And as part of this election, who was allowed, then, to cast votes
16 for these three positions?
17 A. All 100 Assembly members.
18 Q. So all the -- all the members of the Assembly, whether they be
19 from the SDA, from the HDZ, from the SDS, or any other party, were allowed
20 to participate in this election; is that correct?
21 A. Yes. They all had the right to one vote.
22 Q. And, sir, can you tell the Judges, then, how long did you remain
23 in the position of mayor of Mostar?
24 A. I was appointed at that first session held towards the end of
25 1990, and I held that office until around the 15th of April, 1992.
1 Q. Now, sir, you've told us that you were a member of the HDZ party
2 at the time you were elected. Who was the president of the HDZ in Bosnia
3 and Herzegovina at the time of your election?
4 A. Mr. Stjepan Kljujic was.
5 Q. By the time of your election Mr. Perinovic had been replaced by
6 Mr. Kljujic?
7 A. Yes. Mr. Kljujic is someone I had never met before.
8 Q. Mr. Perinovic had been the first president of the party, of the
9 HDZ party in Bosnia-Herzegovina; is that correct?
10 A. That's correct.
11 Q. And why had he been removed from that position?
12 A. Well, those who had a lot of influence in HDZ were informed that
13 this person wasn't a full Croat, and as a result he could not adequately
14 represent the HDZ.
15 Q. Can you tell the Judges if he was not "full Croat," what else was
17 A. He was a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
18 Q. And what other ethnic group in Bosnia and Herzegovina had
19 Mr. Perinovic been identified with, which apparently caused him to lose
20 his position?
21 A. I don't know.
22 Q. Do you know how -- what process was followed in naming Stjepan
23 Kljujic as party president to replace Mr. Perinovic?
24 A. I don't know that either.
25 Q. And do you know approximately how long Mr. Kljujic remained as
1 president of the HDZ, or do you recall -- let me ask it this way, if it
2 assists you: Do you recall when approximately Mr. Kljujic ceased being
3 president of the party?
4 A. If my memory serves me well, that was towards the end of 1991, at
5 a party meeting held in Siroki Brijeg.
6 Q. Now, sir, there was a party of a similar name, the Croatian
7 Democratic Union in the Republic of Croatia -- excuse me, Republic of
8 Croatia; is that correct?
9 A. Yes. We called it the Sestrina Party; the Sister Party.
10 Q. And can you tell the Judges what relationship, if any, existed
11 between the HDZ party in Croatia and the HDZ party in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
12 A. Yes, there was a relationship. There's no doubt about that.
13 Without their assistance, it would have been very difficult for the HDZ to
14 organise itself in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
15 Q. Who in the Croatian party, the HDZ, did -- did it appear to you
16 was most involved in dealings with the party in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
17 A. As far as I know, Mr. Susak was most involved.
18 Q. And Mr. Susak was the minister of defence of Croatia at that time?
19 A. I don't think so.
20 Q. All right. Did you have any dealings or meetings with Mr. Susak?
21 A. No.
22 Q. What do you know of the nature of the dealings or meetings,
23 communications between the party in Zagreb, that is the HDZ party in
24 Zagreb, and the HDZ party in Bosnia-Herzegovina?
25 A. There were consultations.
1 Q. Sir, after you were elected as mayor of Mostar and through your in
2 the HDZ party, did you become aware of a difference in views between a
3 part of the party which may have been represented by Mr. Kljujic and
4 another part of the party represented perhaps by Mr. Boban, Mr. Kordic,
5 and people in that group?
6 A. Yes. This became obvious during a period of time that preceded
7 the outbreak of the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
8 Q. Can you briefly describe to the Judges the basic differences of
9 positions or views between Mr. Kljujic on the one hand and Mr. Boban and
10 others on the other?
11 A. Well, the main difference was that those who lived in multi-ethnic
12 areas believed that it was necessary to support the idea of co-existence,
13 to nurture this idea, whereas in areas where only one ethnic group lived,
14 well, they thought that this was a secondary matter and they thought that
15 their objectives could be pursued without trying to reach agreements with
17 Q. All right. You've identified two points of view. Can you tell us
18 which of those two points of view was held by Mr. Kljujic?
19 A. Yes. He was in favour for a single and indivisible Bosnia and
21 Q. And what view do you associate Mr. Boban with of the two views
22 that you mentioned a moment ago?
23 A. Well, he believed that many things or many ideas developed in
24 Sarajevo were not suitable to the area in which he lived.
25 Q. Well, what did -- what did Mr. Boban want to accomplish?
1 A. Well, some form of autonomy for the area in which the Croatian
2 population was in the majority.
3 Q. Now, during this time that you were a member of the HDZ and the
4 mayor of Mostar, did you observe that Mr. Kljujic and Mr. Boban came into
5 increasing conflict because of these different views?
6 A. Yes, absolutely. They would very rarely meet towards the end, and
7 when they tried to find a common language, it was very difficult. One
8 would try to find some other body that would be capable of reconciling the
9 varying positions that were irreconcilable.
10 Q. Given the division in the party, sir, can you tell the Judges, for
11 example, how would it be that if Mr. Boban hoped to accomplish a
12 particular objective or reach a particular decision, given the split in
13 the party, what sort of activities he would engage in?
14 A. Whoever was not ready to cooperate with him, well, such a person
15 would be eliminated or, rather, he would try to remove such a person from
16 the position that he held.
17 Q. And I ask you, sir, in terms of these positions that we've been
18 talking about for the last few minutes, where did you put yourself in the
19 time period 1990, 1991, 1992? What position did you hold?
20 A. Well, you see, I'm from Mostar, from a multi-ethnic area, and
21 co-existence was something that was valued. This has been the case
22 throughout history, and we could not support an idea according to which it
23 was necessary to establish divisions. At the time, those were my beliefs,
24 and I stand by those beliefs to this very day.
25 Q. Sir, let me direct your attention forward to a time in 1991. Did
1 you attend a meeting in Zagreb involving perhaps Mr. Tudjman and others to
2 discuss various policies and matters related to Bosnia and Herzegovina?
3 A. I only attended one meeting which was organised with the Bosnian
4 Croats, and I attended that meeting. That meeting was chaired by
5 Mr. Susak. Mr. Tudjman came at the end, just to say hello.
6 Q. And, sir, do you recall the approximate date of this meeting in
8 A. It's difficult for me to remember the exact date now, but the
9 meeting might have been sometime in the summer.
10 Q. Of 1991.
11 A. Yes, 1991.
12 Q. And can you tell the Judges what was discussed at this meeting?
13 Well, first of all, can you tell us a bit more about how you came to be
14 actually invited to this meeting? What series of events led up to you
15 being invited to this meeting?
16 A. Well, a moment ago we were saying that our options were different
17 and that we had different views as to how the Croatian question in
18 Bosnia-Herzegovina ought to be solved.
19 Q. Yes, but tell me more about how you actually came to be invited to
20 this meeting.
21 A. Well, unfortunately, I was left out of an invitation to a meeting
22 of a group of Croatian leaders which was in Herzegovina, and then
23 subsequently they sent out an invitation and asked me to attend the
24 Bosnian group which had rallied in Zagreb one week later.
25 Q. Did you talk to Mr. Kljujic about these events and the scheduling
1 of the two meetings?
2 A. Yes, I did, because Mr. Kljujic attended that first meeting, and
3 he was surprised not to see me there, the meeting of the Herzegovina
4 Croats. And he objected and asked why I hadn't been invited, so they
5 invited me subsequently with the Bosnian group.
6 Q. During this conversation with Mr. Kljujic, did Mr. Kljujic tell
7 you about -- anything about another -- a second meeting that he had been
8 involved in after meeting with President Tudjman?
9 A. We didn't discuss that.
10 Q. And did you in fact then go to this second meeting, or the meeting
11 that you were invited to? Before that - sorry - were you given any
12 explanation to as to why -- did you ever ask him -- were you given any
13 explanation as to why you hadn't been invited to the first meeting?
14 A. Well, to Mr. Kljujic's reaction, the answer they gave him was that
15 they weren't able to find him -- find me. Sorry.
16 Q. And when you say Mr. Kljujic's reaction, they gave him -- "the
17 answer they gave him," who gave him that answer? Who is the "they"?
18 A. The representatives of the Herzegovacka group [phoen] who
19 organised the meeting in Zagreb. I think it was Mr. Maric who took it
20 upon himself to organise the meeting and to go to Zagreb.
21 Q. Do you recall or had you done anything during that time to make
22 yourself unavailable at this earlier time, during the first meeting that
23 you were not included in?
24 A. Well, not that I was unavailable. I assume - I can't be sure -
25 that they wanted to avoid me coming to Zagreb.
1 Q. Why would they want to avoid you, sir?
2 A. Well, we were talking about a moment ago and saying that in fact
3 my position and my attitude that Mostar must remain a multi-ethnic town,
4 that we should build it up that way, did not suit people who didn't think
5 like me.
6 Q. Now, when you did go to the second meeting, the one apparently you
7 said chaired by Mr. Susak, with President Tudjman coming in toward the
8 end, what was the nature or the topic of discussions -- excuse me, the
9 topics of discussion at that meeting?
10 A. Very serious topics, because it was already a period when a bloody
11 war was raging in Croatia, and we were almost certain that the same thing
12 awaited the citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina. So it was under those
13 circumstances that we expected something to happen or, rather, that was
14 already going on in Croatia, because we understood the very grave
15 situation we were faced with, and an answer was being sought to the
16 question of how to protect Croatian citizens in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
17 Q. Did you make any proposal at that meeting about the creation of
18 something called a Community of Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina?
19 A. No. Unfortunately, in my statement which was presented here, it
20 says that I said that I proposed that, but in fact what I said is this: I
21 said I supported it. I supported the idea of creating a Croatian
22 Community of Herceg-Bosna. I think that was a mistake in the translation.
23 Q. And what was your idea of this community that you supported at
24 that time? Would it be a -- would it have a government, or what was the
25 nature of this community association that you gave your support to?
1 A. Well, not a government or any separate organisation. Quite
2 simply, the Croats lived and still live today, unfortunately, dispersed
3 all over Bosnia-Herzegovina, and this great dispersion of the population
4 broke up a necessary continuity and communication among the Croats of
5 Bosnia-Herzegovina, and that is why we sought a solution. We looked into
6 the ways and means of solving certain vital issues for survival of the
7 Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina. And I thought that that would be the best
8 solution, given the situation that we were facing.
9 Q. And were any concrete resolutions reached at this meeting in terms
10 of what would actually be done, what steps would be taken to accomplish
12 A. No. As I have already repeated here and in my statement, too,
13 they were consultations that were held, and altogether we sought the best
14 solutions. And after the meeting, we were given the assignment of going
15 to implement the conclusions, and it was the duty and obligation of all
16 people that attended the meeting and anybody else who could help them in
17 implementing the decisions taken.
18 Q. Did you, sir, subsequently to this time attend a meeting in Grude
19 on about the 12th of November, 1991?
20 A. Yes, I did. And that was a meeting held to see how to give shape
21 to the solutions that we had agreed upon in Sarajevo.
22 MR. SCOTT: Could I ask the witness to be shown Exhibit P 00071.
23 Q. Can you see the document, sir?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Can you tell us what that document is, and does this relate to the
1 meeting that you just mentioned a moment ago on the 12th of November,
3 A. Yes, it does relate to that subject matter.
4 Q. Now, if I can ask -- direct your attention to the last page of
5 that document, which is a list of -- a page of signatures. And if you
6 have that, sir, if you can look at number 22. Is that your name and your
8 A. Yes, that is my name and my handwriting.
9 Q. Looking at that document, sir, if you look at the number --
10 signature number 1 or name number 1, can you tell us whose name that
11 appears to be? I direct your attention in particular out to the far right
12 end of that line.
13 A. Yes. That's Mate Boban.
14 Q. Just a couple of others by example. Number 14 is Dario Kordic?
15 A. Dario Kordic.
16 Q. And can you assist us, please, with who signed at number 18?
17 A. Topic.
18 Q. Now, when you look -- keeping that page in mind, sir, when you
19 signed that as number 22, when you signed that document, did you
20 understand that you were signing a document in the sense of giving your
21 endorsement or approval to something that had been said before this, or
22 what was your understanding of the document, of the page of which you put
23 your signature?
24 A. No. I think the matter is quite clear. At our meeting, which was
25 held quite late, the first thing we did was to write down the names of all
1 those present and sign that, give our signatures. Now, when discussing
2 how to define the conclusions that we had been preparing, well, there was
3 a long discussion about that, and it was said that we would give our
4 conclusions subsequently.
5 Q. And when did you first learn that something called "Conclusions"
6 had been apparently typed up and circulated or publicised?
7 A. Mr. Kljujic called me up the next day and asked me how I had
8 agreed to that kind of statement and to putting my signature to that kind
9 of thing. I was surprised and denied that my signature was placed after a
10 statement that had been read out which was attached to our signatures.
11 Q. Now, with that in mind, if I can direct your attention, with the
12 registry's assistance, back to the first page of the document and the
13 section that's numbered paragraph number 1.
14 First of all, sir, when you look at that, you see there are
15 references to two meetings in Zagreb, one on the 13th and one on the 20th
16 of June, 1991. Do you see that, sir?
17 A. Yes. That's okay.
18 Q. And does that assist you in putting a date on the meeting that you
19 told us about a few moments ago when you attended the meeting chaired by
20 Mr. Susak in Zagreb?
21 A. It says the 20th of June -- of -- yes, June, 1991.
22 Q. I'm not asking what it says so much, sir, but I'm saying does that
23 assist you in putting the date on the meeting that you attended in Zagreb
24 that you told us about a few minutes ago?
25 A. I think that's the right date.
1 Q. Now, let me direct your attention to the end of that paragraph,
2 that same paragraph in which the dates are mentioned, and it contains this
3 language: "These two regional communities have jointly and unanimously
4 decided that the Croatian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina must finally
5 carry out a decisive and active policy which should lead to the
6 realisation of our centuries old dream, a joint Croatian state."
7 Now, sir, going back to what you were saying a few moments ago,
8 did you -- had you endorsed and did you agree with that statement? Was
9 that your position, your personal position?
10 A. No.
11 Q. If I can direct your attention to paragraph numbered 2. Do you
12 also recall whether or not in this meeting there was discussion -- parts
13 of the leadership of the HDZ party in Bosnia-Herzegovina which held a
14 different view, if you will?
15 A. Yes, absolutely. That was quite obvious. A different approach to
16 many who had taken part in the creation of decisions that were to govern
17 the Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina later on.
18 Q. Concerning the persons being referenced in paragraph number 2, did
19 that include Mr. Kljujic?
20 A. Yes, Mr. Kljujic, and, I'll tell you, me too; yours truly.
21 Q. Sir, it was -- I think the evidence will show and there will
22 probably not be any dispute that about six days later, on the 18th of
23 November, 1991, the existence of the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna
24 was declared. And did you attend the meeting at which that happened?
25 A. No, I did not.
1 Q. To your knowledge did Mr. Kljujic attend the meeting where the
2 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna was declared?
3 A. No.
4 Q. Do you have any idea how it was that the -- how the particular
5 individuals that came to that meeting -- that did attend that meeting, how
6 they came to be invited or included whereas others were not?
7 MR. KARNAVAS: Your Honour, I object to the form of the question.
8 Simply because someone didn't attend does not mean that he wasn't invited,
9 and I think the question assumes a fact not in evidence.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes. Mr. Scott, would you
11 restate that.
12 MR. SCOTT:
13 Q. Well, sir, I'll ask you only if you have some information that can
14 assist us. Did you -- did you learn at the time or did you have any
15 understanding as to how it was that some people attended the meeting --
16 this particular meeting on the 18th of November, and those like Mr.
17 Kljujic and yourself who did not?
18 A. Well, I think -- I don't think they invited me, because I said
19 quite clearly that I didn't agree with that kind of conclusion and those
20 decisions and that Mr. Kljujic said the same thing.
21 Q. Can you tell the -- you mentioned this earlier, but can you tell
22 the Judges any more now about whether Mr. Kljujic was removed or withdrew
23 from the party Presidency around this time or following the declaration of
24 the existence of the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna?
25 A. I think that would be right, yes.
1 Q. And do you know from conversations or from your relationship with
2 Mr. Kljujic why he either was removed or took himself out of that position
3 at that time?
4 MR. KARNAVAS: Again I'm going to object. First we need a
5 clarification. Was he -- did he withdraw or was he removed? There are
6 two different concepts there. Then he can answer the following question.
7 But I think it's -- I don't want to say misleading, but it's confusing
8 later on when we try to figure out what exactly happened to Mr. Kljujic
9 based on this gentleman's understanding and memory, and of course his
10 prior statement that we all know what he said.
11 MR. SCOTT: I'll be happy, Your Honour, to rephrase it.
12 Q. Mr. Gagro, can you tell us your understanding of when Mr. Kljujic
13 ceased being actively -- at least actively the president of the HDZ party
14 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Do you know how that came about in general
15 terms? That is, was he fired by someone? Was he discharged? Did he
16 essentially withdraw himself from the position, or can you assist the
17 Judges in how that happened?
18 A. Yes. Well, everything culminated, the disagreements between Grude
19 and Sarajevo, and this was resolved by calling an expanded session of the
20 board of the Croatian Democratic Union, and that meeting, according to
21 Kljujic's interpretation, he said he didn't convene that. As party
22 president, he was the only one in the proper place to do so. But anyway,
23 he did go to the meeting, but although he was there physically, he didn't
24 want to chair the meeting or make the opening address, and that's when
25 they ran up against a serious problem of finding who was best placed to
1 declare the meeting open and present the agenda. A solution was found,
2 and the host, the president of the Municipal Assembly of Siroki Brijeg,
3 went up to the rostrum and invited Mr. Kljujic and Mr. Boban to take their
4 seats as the president and vice-president of the party. Both men agreed,
5 and they sat down to the table and the discussion began.
6 After that, Mr. Maric, from Grude, asked to take the floor, and in
7 his presentation he hurled a number of accusations and made a number
8 insinuations against Mr. Kljujic, who couldn't stand hearing this and
9 listening to it, and demonstrably got up and said, "No. I am going to
10 resign," and he left the meeting. So that is how Mr. Kljujic, declaring
11 his own will and in an angry tone to demonstrate his dissatisfaction, left
12 the meeting, which in my view, was the aim of the gentleman from Grude.
13 They wanted to provoke him so that he took precisely that step.
14 Q. All right. Sir, just before we get too much further along, just
15 so the record is clear, a moment ago you said, looking back at page 21,
16 around line 11, "... invited Mr. Kljujic and Mr. Boban to take their seats
17 as the president and vice-president..." Is it correct, sir, that at this
18 time Mr. Kljujic, as you've already indicated, was the party president and
19 Mr. Boban was the vice-president?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. And, sir, I failed to ask you a moment ago when I asked you who
22 attended the meeting on the 18th of November, 1991, where the Croatian
23 Community of Herceg-Bosna was declared, I asked you if Mr. Kljujic
24 attended that meeting. You said no. I didn't -- I failed to ask you, do
25 you know whether Mr. Kljujic supported the establishment of the Croatian
1 Community of Herceg-Bosna as declared on the 18th of November?
2 A. Well, I can't say. I can't give you a yes or a no answer.
3 Q. Can you tell the Judges, please, once Mr. Kljujic had taken this
4 step of indicating that he was willing to resign, was anyone named at that
5 time to replace Mr. Kljujic?
6 A. No.
7 Q. Did there come a time when someone named Milenko Brkic was named
8 or put in the position, at least, as acting president of the party?
9 A. No. In fact, he did not attend the meeting.
10 Q. Sorry, not president -- perhaps I misspoke. Not president of the
11 meeting, not presiding officer at the meeting, but in terms of the
12 political party of HDZ of Bosnia-Herzegovina, was Mr. Brkic subsequently
13 selected in some fashion to be acting president in place of Mr. Kljujic?
14 A. No. He was never even considered for the position.
15 Q. Do you know who took the position after Mr. Kljujic?
16 A. Yes. For a long time there was a vacuum in this process, and
17 eventually Professor Milenko Brkic was nominated, and he accepted to be
18 nominated. I believe that this was about a month or two after that
20 Q. And do you know how long Mr. Brkic remained in that position,
22 A. Three to four months.
23 Q. And do you know who followed Mr. Brkic as party president of the
25 A. I believe that Mr. Kordic assumed that position.
1 JUDGE TRECHSEL: There is a little break, it seems. There is one
2 point that I don't know whether I misunderstood or missed something. Did
3 you, Mr. Gagro, attend that meeting which Kljujic left? Were you there?
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, I did attend it. I was there.
5 Actually, I was his host. He first came to Mostar to complain to me, then
6 I escorted him to that meeting, but he didn't say good-bye to me when he
8 MR. SCOTT:
9 Q. Now, going to a different topic, sir. The city of Mostar, in your
10 -- in these various meetings and your involvement with the HDZ, do you
11 know that when the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna was declared Mostar
12 was declared as the capital of Herceg-Bosna?
13 A. I think that it was.
14 Q. And do you recall any meetings with any other political officials
15 and anyone from the Serb side, if you will, the Serb ethnic group, who
16 ever expressed a view to you about Mostar being the Croatian capital?
17 A. Well, yes. This was already a stage when roadblocks were being
18 erected. Everyone was showing their force and demonstrating their
19 dissatisfaction, and whenever people wished to sever communications, I
20 wrote, they did so very easily according to the fashion of the so-called
21 log revolution. So such an untenable state with such roadblocks featuring
22 required a solution. Mr. Koljevic came to visit us in Mostar,
23 Mr. Koljevic, a representative of the Serbs on behalf of Mr. Karadzic, and
24 so we tried to find a way out of this situation.
25 Q. Can I just ask if you know what Mr. Koljevic's position -- you
1 said he represented Mr. Karadzic. Do you know what Mr. Koljevic's
2 position was at that time?
3 A. That is a difficult question. I cannot answer that question.
4 Q. All right. Go ahead, though, with your answer. I apologise for
5 interrupting you. What did Mr. Koljevic say about this?
6 A. As a matter of fact, the situation generally required us to find a
7 final solution to put an end to the agony which had befallen
8 Bosnia-Herzegovina. We sought to find such solutions as would be
9 satisfactory for all the parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina without a
10 conflict erupting, and at a certain point he said, "Well, here, look here,
11 we Serbs are really for Mostar to be in Croatia."
12 Q. And do you recall approximately when this meeting occurred or this
13 conversation occurred with Mr. Koljevic?
14 A. Well, it might have taken place in November or December. We were
15 deep into autumn, I remember.
16 Q. And which year, sir?
17 A. It was 1991. It was 1991. The Titograd Uzice Corps had already
18 been -- was already present in Mostar at that time.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, Mr. Kovacic.
20 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I apologise for
21 interrupting you, but there is an error in the transcript, so can we
22 please clarify this. It's line 24 -- page 24, line 19. The witness said
23 that Koljevic told him that the Serbs agreed for Mostar to be a Croatian
24 town, whereas the transcript says that they agreed -- that the Serbs
25 agreed that Mostar should be in Croatia, in the State of Croatia instead
1 of saying that it be Croatian. There's a significance difference there.
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes. Could you perhaps clarify
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] You're asking me? What he said was
5 that the Serbs didn't have anything against Mostar being Croatian. And
6 let me add to that the Croats -- the Croatian centre.
7 MR. SCOTT:
8 Q. Sir, by the time we get to this point, you've just said this was
9 approximately in November, December, 1991, had JNA and the Serb forces
10 come into the Mostar area in a substantial way in approximately September,
12 A. Yes. They came on the 19th of September in 1991, under the
13 designation the Titograd Uzice Corps. Replying to our question why they
14 were there, they said they were there to prevent inter-ethnic conflicts in
16 Q. And by the time we get into approximately March of 1992, what
17 positions did the Serbs hold or the JNA hold in the Mostar area?
18 A. 1993, you said?
19 Q. I'm sorry. In the spring or late winter, spring of 1992; March,
20 April of 1992, what positions or line did they hold in the Mostar area?
21 A. If you let me explain the real reason for the arrival of this
22 corps, then I'd have to say this: Slovenia had already gone through the
23 conflicts in Slovenia, whereas a bloody war was raging in Croatia. All
24 the forces of the JNA could pull out from Slovenia and partly from
25 Croatia. It did not withdraw to Serbia and Montenegro but actually
1 deployed them in their locations around Mostar. They had elaborated a
2 definite tactic as to how to secure their positions, and most tragically,
3 from those positions they heavily shelled Croatia as well. So that the
4 reaction of the local populace was to actually consider them an occupying
5 force and an enemy that was actually tearing -- razing to the ground
6 Croatian soil. And that is the source of this conflict which later then
7 escalated into this horrendous tragedy that we had to go through.
8 First, initially they sought to defend their airports and their
9 barracks on a wide front, but as matters developed or, rather, escalated
10 in the negative direction, they kept spreading so that they actually
11 oversaw the positions towards Citluk, towards Siroki Brijeg, towards
12 Zitomislici, and other parts around Mostar, so they had control of that
13 area. We were already then under a complete blockade and the only road
14 allowing for an exit from the city was in the direction of --
15 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter did not hear the toponym.
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This actually sowed an enormous
17 degree of discord amongst the ethnic communities in Mostar.
18 MR. SCOTT: I note the interpreter is having some difficulty, and
19 one of Mr. Gagro's microphones is not on, it appears. Maybe if someone
20 could assist him. There it is.
21 Q. All right. Now, during this time, sir, the Serbs, the JNA forces
22 being in Herzegovina, sometime during that period was something called the
23 Mostar Crisis Staff created?
24 A. Yes, it was. According to the statute of the Municipal Assembly
25 of Mostar, in the event of the imminent threat of war and when legal
1 authorities are unable to properly function, all the powers of the legal
2 authorities are then vested into a single organisation, a single house, as
3 it were, which is to say they are rallied within a Crisis Staff which then
4 decides on all spheres of life and activity.
5 Q. And can you tell the Judges approximately, sir, when the Crisis
6 Staff was established in Mostar of which you were a part?
7 A. I believe that it was already sometime mid-March that we had to
8 relocate ourselves, to withdraw from our civilian work posts into an
9 atomic shelter which ensured the security of the operation of our Crisis
11 Q. And do you mark that time as the time when the Crisis Staff had
12 been established, or referring you to again, you said on the 19th of
13 September, I believe, is when the JNA -- 1991, is when the JNA came into
14 the Mostar region. Let me ask you again: Do you recall approximately
15 when the Crisis Staff was first established?
16 A. I believe that I recall the time more or less exactly. It might
17 have been a month before that or a month later. Perhaps it was in
18 February, but at any rate, it was after -- in late 1991 and early 1992
19 that matters culminated to such an extent that it was impossible to
20 normally live and work in Mostar.
21 Q. And how was the Crisis Staff, the Mostar Crisis Staff comprised?
22 Who made up this Crisis Staff? Not necessarily particular individuals,
23 although you're free to give names if you like, but how was it established
24 and what people, what positions were created?
25 A. The Crisis Staff had a number of staff. I don't know how -- on
1 what basis that was defined, but according to the positions as deputies,
2 the Croats got four places on the Crisis Staff, the Muslims three, and the
3 Serbs two places, and these vacancies were filled with such a number.
4 They were filled up on the principle of the participation, the share of
5 the individual respective parties in the Municipal Assembly.
6 Q. And what was your position on the Crisis Staff? Were you the head
7 of the staff?
8 A. Yes. I remained at the helm of the Crisis Staff.
9 Q. And can you tell the Judges, please, a little bit more about what
10 the function of the Crisis Staff was. What sort of activities or efforts
11 did the Crisis Staff engage in during this time?
12 A. In that chaotic situation, basically, and as far as realistically
13 possible, we strove to make the situation as painless for the people as
14 possible. As we saw that there were -- the destruction of the city lay in
15 store, the first task that we wanted to address was to get the sufficient
16 number of bags and to organise shelters in the housing units where the
17 people were living.
18 The second task that we carried out was to ensure regular supplies
19 of basic necessities for the populace.
20 And thirdly, also to ensure a semblance of peace, because under
21 such abnormal circumstances, of course, lawlessness was rife, and people
22 pursued their own selfish interests in such a context. So we tried to
23 carry out these duties through our individual activities, and it
24 functioned for a period of time. We were satisfied during that period to
25 have been able to actually properly deal with the major problems that we
1 were faced with.
2 Q. At the same time, did the Mostar Municipal Assembly, the body that
3 you had first been elected to in 1990, did the Municipal Assembly continue
4 to meet and function during this time?
5 A. No. I only know that there have been a plan to hold one meeting
6 of that Municipal Assembly, to convene it for a meeting, but since the
7 conditions did not permit, no such meeting was convened.
8 MR. SCOTT: Can I ask the registry to please display to the
9 witness and in the courtroom Exhibit P 00135.
10 We can stop now, Your Honour, or whichever.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. We'll stop now and
12 we'll resume at five to four.
13 --- Recess taken at 3.37 p.m.
14 --- On resuming at 3.57 p.m.
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, Mr. Scott.
16 MR. SCOTT:
17 Q. Mr. Gagro, right before the break I was about to ask the registry
18 to please display to you Exhibit P 00135. Do you have that, sir?
19 A. Yes, I do. Yes. Yes. I see it well.
20 Q. And is this a document dated the 12th of March, 1992, by which you
21 called a meeting of the Mostar Municipal Assembly, calling a meeting for
22 the 16th of March, 1992?
23 A. Yes, it is, but obviously it lacks my signature. In fact, this
24 meeting was not held.
25 Q. The seal that is on the document, on the Croatian language
1 original, is that the -- that is the seal of your office, as far as you
2 can recognise it?
3 A. Yes, it is.
4 Q. In the agenda item number 2, the first item, you talk about
5 resigning of members of the Mostar municipality Executive Board. Is there
6 anything that you can remember and tell the Judges about what that was
7 about? What members were resigning and, if you recall, why?
8 A. Under the circumstances I described before: The SDS, the Serbs'
9 party, decided to recall its members from the Executive Board, so there
10 remained vacancies which they had occupied before, and we wanted to fill
11 those vacancies with other people, and that was to be discussed at the
12 Municipal Assembly session and a decision adopted on the matter.
13 Q. And let me ask you a similar question about the second item under
14 agenda item 2, resigning of chiefs of security service centres. What was
15 happening in that regard?
16 A. Also to fill the posts made vacant by people who had withdrawn.
17 But in fact, in this case their leadership asked them to withdraw from the
18 organs of authority of the city of Mostar, from the government of the city
19 of Mostar.
20 If you allow me, perhaps I could relate a detail that is of some
22 Savo Zimonjic was my vice-president on behalf of the SDS. Once he
23 told me that he had been invited to their staff, and they asked him,
24 "Savo, will you opt for them or for us?" Unfortunately, that was the
25 policy the SDS pursued in Mostar, and that was the manner in which these
1 people were recalled from the government organs in Mostar.
2 Q. Now, going back to the Crisis Staff, as opposed to the Municipal
3 Assembly which is reflected on this particular document, going back to the
4 points of view that we were discussing earlier this afternoon and the
5 difference between Mr. Kljujic on the one hand and Mr. Boban on the other,
6 can you tell the Judges whether the views of the Mostar Crisis Staff at
7 this time, that is in March, April, 1992, did they coincide more with your
8 views and Mr. Kljujic's views, or did they coincide with Mr. Boban's
10 A. They didn't coincide with Boban's views or with Kljujic's views.
11 We defined matters on the basis of our own ideas, on the basis of the
12 ideas we had with regard to how the town and our local commune should
14 Q. Can you tell the Judges, around this time in April of 1992, was
15 the Croatian Defence Council, or HVO, established?
16 A. Could you specify the time you are referring to.
17 Q. April of 1992.
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. And can you recall, sir, approximately, just in general, how did
20 you become aware of the establishment of the HVO? How did its existence
21 first come to your attention?
22 A. We were in contact with people who were responsible for the
23 defence of the town. After some time had passed -- or, rather, first we
24 called our own defence forces the defence forces for the town of Mostar.
25 And then after some time had passed, after a short period of time, those
1 forces were renamed the HVO.
2 Q. Did you learn at some time that some structure had been
3 established that was similar to the Crisis Staff other than the military
4 forces as you just described them?
5 A. No.
6 MR. SCOTT: If I could ask the witness to please be shown Exhibit
7 P 00157.
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This previous document ...
9 MR. SCOTT:
10 Q. Sir, if you have that document, if I could direct your attention
11 to the -- I believe it would be the sixth paragraph of that document
12 starting with the words -- starting with the word "Reminding ..." If you
13 could please find that. Do you have that, sir?
14 A. Ah, yes.
15 Q. That paragraph states: "Reminding that at the time the term used
16 for such organisations was Crisis Staffs, Boban said that, 'Actually,
17 nothing new has been created. It is just the renaming of the former
18 Crisis Staffs, giving them a new adequate Croatian designation.'"
19 Were you informed any time around that time - that is the first
20 half of April 1992 - that the Mostar Crisis Staff, of which you were the
21 head, had been renamed the HVO?
22 A. No.
23 Q. I direct your attention next to Exhibit P 00180. If you have
24 that, sir, can you tell the Judges what that is as you understand it.
25 A. Given the undefined situation that Mostar was in, given the
1 ambiguous situation it was in, it was necessary to determine who the
2 aggressor was and who represented the defence, and this is a way in which
3 we wanted to determine the roles all the parties were playing. We wanted
4 to determine who the aggressor was if the defence was represented by the
5 defence forces of Mostar.
6 Q. And, sir, this is a document -- or a decision dated the 29th of
7 April, 1992. And if you will look at the version that you have in front
8 of you, does it bear your name and signature?
9 A. Yes. You can see it quite clearly.
10 Q. Can you tell us, when you signed this document about the 29th of
11 April, 1992, what did you understand the thrust of this document to be?
12 What did it -- what did it -- what powers or direction did it give to the
13 HVO armed forces?
14 A. Well, I think that the document is quite clear about the purpose
15 of this decision. We had been attacked, and we were looking for a way to
16 defend ourselves. All the forces that were available were forces that we
17 tried to avail ourselves of. We tried to organise them to defend Mostar,
18 which was in a very difficult position. In item I, we said that the
19 Yugoslav People's Army and other paramilitary formations acting together
20 with it were declared as enemy forces and an occupying formation in the
21 territory of the municipality of Mostar.
22 Q. When you say in section -- Article number II, "The Croat Defence
23 Council municipal headquarters Mostar," who did you understand to be or
24 how was that body comprised as of the 29th of April, 1992?
25 A. Well, the only forces that we had for the defence of the town.
1 Q. What did you understand about the continued role of the Mostar
2 Crisis Staff and the Mostar Municipal Assembly under this agreement or
4 A. The role was clearly defined. It was to defend the town and to
5 liberate the town from those who were attacking it.
6 Q. Let me restate my question, and listen, please. I'm not asking
7 now about the role of the HVO specifically. What was the role, the role
8 envisaged of the Mostar Crisis Staff and the Mostar Municipal Assembly
9 under this decision?
10 A. Well, I'll repeat this: They have two tasks; to prevent the
11 aggressor from taking control of Mostar and, if possible, to expel these
12 forces from Mostar, to liberate the town. So the aggressor was to be
13 driven out of Mostar, and this was the exclusive military task of the
14 military formation that we had in the town of Mostar.
15 Q. Did this decision remove the Mostar Municipal Assembly and remove
16 the Mostar Crisis Staff from the civilian or executive administrative
17 authority in Mostar?
18 A. Do you mean did we quite simply extinguish ourselves? No, we
20 Q. Well, let me -- let me give you a specific example. If I can
21 direct your attention to -- excuse me -- Article number VII. If you'll
22 find that, please. And in the first sentence of Article VII, it says
23 that: "The HVO shall coordinate with the municipal Crisis Staff." How
24 were you going -- how was the municipal Crisis Staff, the Mostar Crisis
25 Staff, going to coordinate with the HVO?
1 A. Well, we had to approve their activities. They couldn't act
2 without being subject to the control of the civilian authorities. They
3 had to be subordinated to the civilian authorities, whatever form these
4 authorities took. At the time, it was the Crisis Staff of the Mostar
5 Municipal Assembly.
6 Q. If I can ask you to look at the second sentence of Article VII:
7 "The questions of common interest shall be resolved at joint sessions of
8 the Crisis headquarters of the Assembly and the Croat Defence Council."
9 Do you recall any time in April or May, 1992, sir, when there was any
10 joint session of the Mostar Crisis Staff or Municipal Assembly and the
12 A. No.
13 Q. On Article VIII, if I can direct your attention to Article VIII,
14 please. It indicates that: "The Crisis headquarters -- or Crisis Staff
15 of the municipality of Mostar shall establish as soon as possible the
16 temporary Executive Council, which will ensure the functioning of the
17 government bodies."
18 Did the -- either the Municipal Assembly or the Mostar Crisis
19 Staff ever have an opportunity to establish these executive government
20 bodies following this decision on the 29th of April, 1992?
21 A. That was what we ardently desired. We wanted to return to some
22 kind of a normal life, but everything escalated and we were unable to
23 establish some sort of departments that would function as -- or, rather,
24 represent the civilian local authorities.
25 Q. Sir, you told us a few minutes ago that the Serb members of these
1 bodies had been resigning or withdrawing from these bodies as of the end
2 of April, early part of May, 1992. Were the Muslim members, the Muslim
3 representatives on these bodies still participating in these bodies at
4 that time?
5 MR. KARNAVAS: Excuse me. There's just -- I think there's a need
6 to put a more precise question to the witness when he talks about
7 "bodies." "Bodies" has a wide meaning. Is he referring to departments,
8 or is he referring to an Assembly? Because we have a Crisis Staff of the
9 Assembly, of the Municipal Assembly, not to be confused with Crisis Staff
10 and Municipal Assembly and now we're talking about "bodies." So perhaps
11 we could have a more precise question so the witness can precisely give us
12 his answer. Thank you.
13 MR. SCOTT: Very well.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, Mr. Scott, please put
15 precise questions to the witness.
16 MR. SCOTT:
17 Q. Mr. Gagro, at the time of this decision, which is dated and signed
18 by you about the 29th of April, 1992, were there still active members of
19 the Mostar Municipal Assembly who were Muslim?
20 A. Are you referring to the Crisis Staff? Could you please clarify
21 this for me.
22 Q. My question was the Mostar Municipal Assembly. If it will assist
23 you, perhaps you can direct your attention back to -- if I can have the
24 usher's assistance to direct the witness to Exhibit P 00135.
25 Do you have that document, sir? You have it, sir?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Now, can you tell us, when you called this meeting -- when you
3 sent this invitation for a meeting on the 12th of March, 1992, did some of
4 the people that you invited include Muslims?
5 A. I think one has to say that the meeting wasn't held. We invited
6 all those from the valid list of Assembly members. I don't know who was
7 present, who could have responded to the invitation, et cetera, because
8 this session was simply not held.
9 Q. Sir, my question was not whether the session was held. You sent
10 an invitation. You sent a call to a meeting. Did your call to the
11 meeting including the Muslim members of the Municipal Assembly?
12 A. It was -- they were -- invitations were sent out to all the
13 members. No one was forgotten. No Serbs, no Muslims, no Croats were
14 forgotten, nor was anyone else who participated in the town Assembly. So
15 a hundred invitations were sent out to the addresses of the members of the
16 Assembly, the addresses that had been registered.
17 Q. Now, let me go -- direct your attention now specifically to the
18 Mostar Crisis Staff. As of late April, 1992, and May, 1992, did the
19 Mostar Crisis Staff at that time still include among its membership
20 persons who were Muslim?
21 A. Yes. They remained in the Crisis Staff until the end and they
22 took part in the Crisis Staff's activities.
23 Q. Can I direct your attention, please, to Exhibit P 00190. Do you
24 have that, sir?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Did you learn around this time, the 7th of May, 1992, that the HVO
2 had formed something called the Special Purpose Council of the Mostar
3 Municipal Staff?
4 A. I can see that it says "Confidential" here, but I've never seen
5 this document before.
6 Q. Did you understand that some other body had been set up to take
7 the place of the Mostar Crisis Staff as of early May, 1992?
8 A. No one informed us of the existence of such a new body that would
9 take over the role of the Crisis Staff.
10 Q. Perhaps you can assist us with this, sir: If this body was going
11 to be involved in governing or administering Mostar, how could it be that
12 its composition would remain confidential?
13 A. I really don't know. Perhaps there was a communications problem.
14 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. I
15 think that the witness has said he's never seen this document before, and
16 I therefore think that there is no purpose if one tries to discuss the
17 document now.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes. Mr. Scott, the witness
19 can't recognise this document. He's told us that this is the first time
20 he's seen it.
21 MR. SCOTT: My question wasn't about the document any longer.
22 What the witness said was he was never informed of there being some other
23 body set up to essentially fulfil the role of the Crisis Staff, and my
24 question is simply: How could such a governing body function if it
25 remained confidential? It's nothing to do with whether he's seen this
1 document or not.
2 MR. KARNAVAS: Again, Your Honour, I'm going to object to the form
3 of the question. I didn't object earlier but, again, there is some sort
4 of a suggestion, it assumes a fact not in evidence that this body actually
5 supplanted the Crisis Staff. And I guess if we would just go back to a
6 traditional way of doing direct examination: Who, what, where, why, how,
7 and explain, we won't run into those problems. But I think that the
8 question, the way it's phrased, it assumes a fact not in evidence that
9 somehow this document demonstrates that a body was set up to supplant the
10 Crisis Staff. I don't see that from the document, but I think the
11 gentleman should be asked questions if in fact something happened to the
12 Crisis Staff, and he can tell us, he can give a narrative.
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I'll put the question to the
14 witness myself.
15 Sir, the Prosecution has shown you document P 190, according to
16 which the HVO established a different body. Initially you said that you
17 were completely ignorant of the establishment of such a body, or
18 completely unaware of such a body. With regard to the Defence's
19 objection, how could you explain the fact that a different structure, a
20 different body was created behind your back without your being aware of
21 it? If you have just found out about this today, what could you tell us
22 about the matter to provide us with an explanation? How would you have
23 experienced such a thing at the time?
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, reading through some of the
25 tasks that have been listed here, I could say that these tasks could have
1 been of assistance to the town's Crisis Staff. These tasks would have
2 been welcomed. And it's not something I would perceive as being something
3 done behind my back.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] If this was to assist you, why
5 weren't you informed of the fact?
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, that's a problem I can't
7 solve. I can't answer that question. Why was it confidential? Why
8 wasn't the Crisis Staff informed of this fact? Why didn't the Crisis
9 Staff verify this decision?
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So you don't see how one could
11 explain the fact that this body was not one that you were informed of, and
12 the members of the Crisis Staff were simply not informed of the existence
13 of this body, although you said that it was for a good cause.
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, I can't provide an explanation.
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Scott, please proceed.
16 MR. SCOTT: If I can ask the witness to be shown next Exhibit
17 P 00199.
18 Q. Sir, is this a document dated the 10th of May, 1992, by Mate Boban
19 and Janko Bobetko, appointing various people to the Mostar Crisis --
20 excuse me, Mostar Municipal Staff, I believe it's described here.
21 A. Well, obviously I never received this document either. And so
22 that is something that bypassed our control, obviously.
23 Q. Sir, you were still the democratically elected mayor of Mostar.
24 You were still, as Mr. President has just indicated, you were still the
25 head of the Mostar Crisis Staff. How could it be if this body was set up
1 without you knowing about it?
2 A. I really can't say. I have no answer to that.
3 Q. Looking at the second -- well, maybe on the first page of your
4 document, but looking at the names at the bottom of the document, did you
5 know that Janko Bobetko was a general or head of the Croatian army, the
6 Republic of Croatia army?
7 A. No. We never accepted that nor approved it, and as far as I'm
8 concerned, this is very disconcerting. I have no comment to make.
9 Q. Well, why would a general in the Croatian army be signing a
10 document appointing members of the Mostar Municipal Staff?
11 A. I really don't know.
12 MR. SCOTT: Could I ask that the witness please be shown
13 Exhibit --
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Just a moment. Before we go on
15 to look at the next exhibit, sir, let's imagine that the 10th of May,
16 1992, was the date when you learnt - you in your capacity of president of
17 the Crisis Staff - that a Croatian general was signing a document putting
18 into place a structure in the municipality of Mostar. What would you have
19 done if you had learnt about this on the 10th of May, 1992? What would
20 have been your reaction, and what would you have done, faced with that
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The only thing that I could have
23 done was this: To ask for an explanation why and in what way this came
24 about, why this document was passed and why it was signed by the people
25 who signed it, who are the signatories at the bottom.
1 MR. KARNAVAS: Mr. President, if you could direct the witness's --
2 to the attention that this is in regard to the Croatian Defence Council of
3 Mostar, not anything to do with the Crisis Staff. And I think that's an
4 important distinction that needs to be brought out during this discussion,
5 that that's what we're talking about, the Croatian Defence Council, and it
6 talks about the Mostar Municipal Staff of the Croatian Defence Council.
7 There is a distinction which is perhaps why the gentleman wasn't brought
8 into the picture, but perhaps some questions with respect to this might
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Mr. Scott, please
12 MR. SCOTT:
13 Q. Sir, just to follow up on counsel's question, as of this time in
14 late April, early May, 1992, we've talked this afternoon there was the
15 Mostar Municipal Assembly, that was a body that dated back to at least
16 1990; is that correct?
17 A. Are you asking me?
18 Q. Yes.
19 A. The answer is yes, it did exist.
20 Q. And we've discussed this afternoon something called the Mostar
21 Crisis Staff, which I -- correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe you've
22 indicated was established sometime after the JNA forces arrived in the
23 Mostar region on approximately the 19th of September, 1991. Is that
25 MR. KARNAVAS: I don't believe that's the answer to the question,
1 Your Honour. I don't believe the gentleman indicated that back in 1991
2 the Crisis Staff was established. So perhaps we can get a clear date from
3 the witness himself when it was established, because it's my understanding
4 that the Crisis Staff derives from the Municipal Assembly and that the
5 Assembly ceases to function as an Assembly once you have the Crisis Staff
6 in place. Because there is a crisis, hence you can't have a hundred
7 people managing the business of a municipality.
8 MR. SCOTT: I appreciate Mr. Karnavas's testimony, Your Honour,
9 but if the witness could assist us. I believe he indicated earlier this
10 afternoon that he could not put a precise date on it so I simply left it
11 as open-ended as I could because I think -- I believe the transcript will
12 show that it was sometime after the JNA forces arrived. If he can be more
13 precise, I'm happy for the witness to be more precise on when the Crisis
14 Staff was established.
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes. Now, with respect to the
16 objection made by the Defence whether the Crisis Staff was substituted at
17 the Municipal Assembly or by the Municipal Assembly, did the Crisis Staff
18 replace the Municipal Assembly, in fact? You're nodding your head, but
19 let's hear your answer.
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, it did. It took over the role,
21 the leading role. I've said that several times, but I'll repeat it again
22 since you insist: The Crisis Staff did take over the role.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] And in order to assure
24 Mr. Karnavas, when was that exactly? What date? What did the Crisis
25 Staff replace the Municipal Assembly in the traditional line of work it
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, I hope I'll satisfy
3 Mr. Karnavas with my answer: Let me say the 15th of February.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Of what year?
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] 1992.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. We've clarified that
7 point now.
8 MR. SCOTT: With that clarification, sir -- let me ask that the
9 witness please be shown Exhibit P 00209.
10 Q. And as soon as you have that, sir, can you tell the Judges what
11 that document is, as far as you know.
12 A. Could you zoom in, please, so I can see it, see the whole
13 document. Or zoom out. Yes, I have seen this document. And this
14 document -- or, rather, it's an order from Mr. Jadran Topic where he is
15 relieving of duty the Crisis Staff of Mostar municipality.
16 Q. Did you have any information at the time, sir, that is in --
17 around the 15th of May, 1992, on what authority and on what legal basis
18 Mr. Topic, Jadran Topic, purported to dissolve the Mostar Crisis Staff?
19 A. I don't think there was any legal foundation.
20 Q. If I can direct your attention to paragraph numbered 3 under the
21 order. It says: "Until the government referred to in paragraph 2 of this
22 order is formed, the Special Purpose Council of the Mostar Municipal Staff
23 of the Croatian Defence Council shall administer the entire functioning of
24 the city and care for its citizens."
25 Now, with that in mind, could I please ask the registry to go back
1 and display Exhibit number P 00190.
2 My question to you now, sir, is we looked at this document
3 earlier, but when you received the order dated the 15th of May relieving
4 you and disbanding the Mostar Crisis Staff, did you understand that this
5 Special Purpose Council essentially took over your function?
6 A. I didn't know about this document. It was a confidential
7 document, the decision to establish the Special Purpose Council, that is.
8 And I didn't know that it would be taking over the task of the Crisis
9 Staff. I would have preferred it if they told me that loud and clear.
10 Q. Sir, can you tell the Judges in your own words, why do you
11 understand or believe that you were removed as the mayor of Mostar?
12 A. Well, probably there were people who were far more capable of
13 doing the job, of taking over the function of managing the town than I
14 was, in the position I was in.
15 Q. Did anyone tell you that, sir? Did anyone come and meet with you
16 and tell you that you were being relieved on that basis?
17 A. Unfortunately, no, they didn't. It might have been better if they
18 had the wisdom to come and tell me and say, "Thank you for your work so
19 far, but as of today we're going to appoint somebody else to replace you."
20 But they didn't do that. They didn't make that human gesture, which I
21 might have accepted as an elegant gesture and a solution that we would all
22 agree to.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, but on the 15th of May we
24 have this decision which you have in front of you, which you're looking
25 at, and I assume that you had an office in the mayor's building, you had a
1 secretary, you had a telephone. On the 16th of May you were in your
2 office. On the 17th and 18th of May -- or did they prevent you from going
3 to your office and replace you? You can tell us exactly what happened
4 after the 15th of May. Did you stay at home? What did you do? Did you
5 go to your office? What?
6 A. Not only that, we were all there together in a very nice office,
7 very nice premises which used to be the rectorate of the university in
8 Mostar, and we used it during that period as a place from which the Crisis
9 Staff functioned so that, up until this decision was taken, we worked
10 quite normally in that premises. Without any warning whatsoever, I came
11 to the door that morning, the door was locked, and I was told that we no
12 longer had access to the building. And that's how the role of the Crisis
13 Staff ended; very abruptly. And after that I stayed at home.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, but at the time there was
15 the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, was there not?
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You didn't inform Sarajevo, the
18 authorities, of what had happened in Mostar?
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Unfortunately, as to communication
20 with Sarajevo, communicating with Sarajevo, I had to go to the radio hams
21 if I wanted to communicate with Sarajevo and tell them that I was alive
22 and well. Everything else was down. All the other communication systems
23 were down.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] And in Mostar on the 15th of
25 May, 1992, were there any representatives of international organisations
1 such as the international press, foreign journalists? Did you have the
2 possibility of alerting the international community in any way of what was
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Unfortunately, at that time point in
5 time, no. No communication whatsoever. No visits. Before there were the
6 heavy clashes and the whole town was aflame, I don't know whether you can
7 imagine what the atmosphere was like. But never mind. Let me try and go
8 back to that period of time. I'm not going to go back to that period time
9 because I find it difficult to talk about it.
10 Anyway, all attempts in any way did not bear fruit. They weren't
11 considered to be reasonable, because everybody in their own heads had
12 their own concept for a solution, and everyone tried to impose his own
13 solution as being the best. Some people put the carrot before the donkey,
14 others resorted to the stick. But whatever the situation, it was a
15 chaotic situation, a nightmare, and you didn't have any way of doing
16 anything to deal with it.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Mr. Scott, please
19 MR. SCOTT:
20 Q. Just to follow up on the President's question, did you have on any
21 occasion, either shortly or any time after your removal, to communicate
22 this information to Mr. Kljujic or to any other senior party officials in
23 the HDZ-BiH?
24 A. Everything was quite clear after the decision. Everybody knew
25 what had happened in Mostar and how the situation was transformed
1 overnight. And I have to add that the Bosniak side had nothing against
2 doing things differently than they had been functioning -- than the way
3 they had been functioning. And later on -- or one year later they had
4 some provisional government which functioned in one way or another.
5 MR. SCOTT: Let me ask the witness be shown Exhibit P 00219.
6 Q. And as soon as you have that, sir, let me ask you did you see that
7 document around this time, involving the establishment of various
8 departments of the HVO municipal government?
9 A. Well, I have to say that when they shut the door in my face, shut
10 the door to my office, I made no further attempts to deal with the problem
11 that was a continuous one. And I might have even felt relieved of the
12 heavy burden that I otherwise felt my job to involve.
13 Q. Very well. Can I ask your -- excuse me.
14 MR. SCOTT: Can I ask the registry to show you now Exhibit P
16 Q. I would ask you, sir, first of all, again, did you around this
17 time have the opportunity to see the appointment of various individuals to
18 the positions in the HVO municipal government?
19 A. No, I haven't seen this document.
20 Q. I'll nonetheless direct your attention to it for a moment, sir.
21 Is it correct that, looking at this document, the person listed as number
22 3, Mumin Isic, was a Muslim?
23 A. Yes. He's a Bosniak today.
24 Q. And person number -- the person listed as number 5, Senad Kazazic,
25 is that person a Muslim, or a Bosniak by today's terminology?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Sejo Maslo, number 6, also a Muslim of Bosnia?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Number 8, Hamdija Jahic, also a Muslim or a Bosniak?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. And Mr. Jaganjac, person listed as 12, a Muslim; correct?
7 A. Well, he's not from Mostar, but I have met him so I can say that
8 he's a Bosniak, too, yes, a Muslim.
9 Q. Now, of these five Muslims that are listed on this document
10 P 00221, had any of those Muslims been Muslims that were on the Mostar
11 Crisis Staff at the time that it was disbanded?
12 A. No.
13 Q. In connection, then, with the implementation of these various
14 decisions --
15 A. Just a moment. I have to correct myself. I do apologise. I made
16 a mistake. I don't know whether Viktor Stojkic was. I'm not quite sure.
17 So it's possible that Viktor Stojkic was involved in the Crisis Staff.
18 Not directly as a member of the Crisis Staff but in the name of the
19 police, as a participant in the functioning of the Crisis Staff.
20 Q. Is Mr. Stojkic a Muslim or Croat?
21 A. Ah, yes. You were referring to Muslims. I do apologise. Well,
22 it's my mistake again.
23 Q. Sir, in reference to the 20 -- the decision dated the 29th of
24 April, 1992, and the decision by Mr. Topic on the 15th of May, 1992,
25 disbanding the Mostar Crisis Staff, can you tell us during these events
1 what role, if any, the HVO military police played.
2 A. We didn't have that notion and concept in our communications. The
3 military police was something that we did not hear of at that point in
4 time. All I can say is this: According to the principles in crisis
5 situations, the regular police force and its structures would activate
6 their reserve force, and they would join the existing police structures
7 and then work together in unison as such.
8 Q. Prior to the time that it was disbanded, did the Mostar Crisis
9 Staff have anything called military police?
10 A. No.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You didn't have any military
12 police, but did you have any authority over the civilian police?
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. And the gentleman that I
14 mentioned a moment ago was the head of the military police.
15 MR. SCOTT: I'm sorry, I think there may have been an error.
16 Q. The head of the military police or the head of the civilian
17 police, Mr. Gagro? The transcript says the person you mentioned a moment
18 ago was the head of the military police.
19 A. No. He was the head of the police of Mostar in peacetime, and as
20 such he was -- he became a member of the Crisis Staff to deal with
21 internal affairs.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] But with your permission, I'd
23 like to go back to the 15th of May. You discovered that your office was
24 closed, the key was taken away. Why didn't you go and see the civilian
25 police to ask them to help you in the situation? Now you're smiling. Is
1 that because that was impossible, because the head of the civilian police
2 would have been on the opposite side, on the other side? Is that it?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, but because that representative
4 of the police force was with me in that same office. So I had no need to
5 call him up. He was already there, and he understood the whole situation,
6 but quite obviously his authority wasn't strong enough to change anything.
7 He couldn't change matters that were defined by that decision.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Scott, please proceed.
9 MR. SCOTT:
10 Q. And just so the record is clear, sir, the person that you've been
11 referring to in the last few minutes as the head of the civilian police,
12 that was Viktor Stojkic; is that correct?
13 A. That's right, yes.
14 MR. SCOTT: Now, unless any of the Judges have any questions on
15 this particular series of questions, I'm moving forward to another topic.
16 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Yes. I would like to know a bit more precisely
17 what your reaction to this situation is. Obviously now there is a long
18 temporal distance. You are telling us this with a voice as if it was an
19 operetta, but I suppose it was not. Did you expect this to happen? Did
20 you expect to find your office shut to you one day?
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, it was highly probable.
22 MR. KARNAVAS: If I may be of assistance, Your Honour. If we can
23 go back and have the gentleman look at the preamble and maybe comment
24 based on the question that you just posed. The preamble - I have a clean
25 copy so he can read it if necessary - and perhaps that might help you with
1 further questions on this particular matter because I think he was never
2 given the opportunity to talk about the period which --
3 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Yes. This was in later May, and the decision,
4 the document we're talking about, has a preamble which refers to, I
5 quote: "The statutory decision on the establishment of temporary
6 executive power and administration in the territory of the HZ-BH, Croatian
7 Community of Herceg-Bosna, the president of the municipal HVO hereby
8 proposes the following decision." I wonder whether actually "proposes" is
9 a very adequate translation.
10 So were you aware that an alternative, concurrent executive power
11 had been established or declared or assumed or whatever you want to call
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, I was not. I was not made aware
14 of the existence of any such document by way of any communication methods
15 nor was any hint of any such document made.
16 JUDGE TRECHSEL: So you were then practically operating in May in
17 an informational vacuum. You didn't have an idea of what was happening.
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Absolutely no idea. As I said a
19 while ago, we were living a bit a chaotic situation which perhaps is hard
20 to imagine for people who did not experience that situation themselves.
21 JUDGE TRECHSEL: So I still find it a bit difficult to visualise
22 this. You went, up to the 15th May, you went to your office and "governed
23 the city," where in fact there was no power left to you. Did you not
24 realise this, or did you not seriously attempt to govern the -- the
25 affairs of the town? Can you -- can you explain a bit.
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I think that you actually
2 comprehended this in the right way. We were aware of the fact that the
3 defence forces that were defending the city and seeking to organise life
4 in the city were not cooperating with the Crisis Staff, and that was the
5 result of the -- this decision of theirs which was presented here.
6 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Here you can see a person, a man
8 proposing his own self as candidate for president, nominating his own
10 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I'm not quite clear to what you are referring
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] If you take a look at this decision,
13 it is signed by Mr. Jadran Topic, who actually nominated himself, under
14 number 1, as Jadran Topic, president.
15 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
16 MR. KARNAVAS: Your Honour, just for a point of clarification, I
17 was referring to actually the decision of May 15th where there is an
18 extensive preamble. That's the -- that's the preamble that I believe if
19 the gentleman was to be -- to look at, not this document, but I believe
20 it's 209, where it has -- but the copy was illegible. That preamble sets
21 out exactly the chaotic situation, I believe. Perhaps he could comment at
22 this point, or we can clear it up on cross-examination, it doesn't matter.
23 It would have been the other document, May 15th.
24 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I have taken a lot of time now, and I suggest
25 that you take it up in cross.
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Scott.
2 MR. SCOTT:
3 Q. Sir, just for the record, for clarification on the record, in
4 reference to a question put by Judge Trechsel a moment ago, when you're
5 talking about Mr. Topic appointing -- or excuse me, proposing or
6 recommending himself as president, you're talking about Exhibit P 00221?
7 Do you still have that?
8 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Yes.
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
10 MR. SCOTT:
11 Q. Very well. Let me ask you this about Mr. Topic at this point:
12 How was it that Mr. Topic was put in this position as president of the
13 Mostar HVO? You were democratically elected in 1990. How was Mr. Topic
14 put in this position, as far as you know?
15 A. Where he was an alternative to me. So whenever people could not
16 -- when I couldn't see eye-to-eye to people and their stances, they would
17 resolve their matters and take up matters with him. He was always there
18 for them.
19 Q. Well, let me -- hopefully, perhaps it will be the last question on
20 this topic and we'll move forward, I know we've taken a lot of time, but
21 if the witness could be shown again Exhibit P 00119.
22 Did you learn around this time, sir, independent of the -- based
23 on the document or independent of the document - I only point the
24 courtroom to the document as a point of reference - did you learn around
25 this time that Jadranko Topic had been appointed the president of the
1 Mostar HVO by Mate Boban and Janko Bobetko? Did you learn that at the
2 time that you were still the mayor of Mostar?
3 A. No, I didn't.
4 Q. Moving on, then, sir, was it -- can you tell the Judges, was it in
5 approximately June of 1992 that the JNA and Serb forces left the Mostar --
6 at least, the city of Mostar and immediate surrounding area?
7 A. I'd rather say that they fled the area, not left. But when they
8 left, they withdrew to positions from which they could control the entire
9 city. These are high elevations all around it which are -- which
10 predominantly oversaw the zone of Nevesinje, which was -- which had a
11 majority Serbian -- Serb population.
12 Q. Sir, can you tell the Judges when the Serbs and the JNA forces
13 left the city of Mostar, was this done as a result of fighting, the taking
14 up of arms by the HVO, including the Muslims against them, or did they
15 depart the town, more or less depart -- as you said a moment ago, fled the
17 A. I believe that they could feel the danger, and they were aware of
18 the fact that they could not remain on those positions, so that they
19 actually withdrew from those positions a bit willy and a bit nilly.
20 Q. Did you have any knowledge or information at the time that the
21 Serbs withdrew from the city of Mostar based on an agreement between the
22 Croats and Serbs as opposed to being forced out of Mostar by military
24 A. No, I had no such information.
25 Q. Had you heard during this time period -- we're now again -- we've
1 been talking about April, May, of 1992. In your position as mayor of
2 Mostar, had you heard anything about the Graz Agreement?
3 A. No.
4 Q. Were you aware that the Croats and the Serbs had been engaged in
5 negotiations between themselves around this time? Did that come to your
7 A. No, it didn't.
8 Q. When the JNA forces left Mostar, the city of Mostar, what happened
9 to the Serb civilians in the city of Mostar?
10 A. They withdrew from Mostar for the most part. Some of the
11 intelligentsia from among the Serbs in Mostar remained in Mostar.
12 Q. Well, can you give the Judges some estimate, please, in terms of
13 the total Serb population in Mostar as of early June -- early, mid-June,
14 1992, what percentage of the Serb population left Mostar at that time?
15 A. I should, if you'll allow me, like to use this opportunity to
16 describe why Mostar was a multi-ethnic milieu. According to the 1990
17 census, 34 were Muslims, 33 were Croats, and 18 per cent were Serbs in
18 Mostar, and 15 per cent were the others. At the time of the conflict and
19 the withdrawal of the JNA, I suppose not more than 2 to 3 per cent of
20 Serbs remained in Mostar.
21 Q. Can you tell the Judges, please, what happened to the Serb
22 Orthodox cathedral or church in Mostar after the JNA forces left the city.
23 A. Regrettably, I myself witnessed this uncivilised act. It was
24 destroyed. First it was set on fire, and then, after an interval of a day
25 or two, the rest of the remaining walls were razed to the ground. I
1 believe that not to have been a civilised act, something that our official
2 authorities in Mostar should be proud of.
3 Q. Do you know under whose command the forces were which destroyed
4 the Orthodox church?
5 MR. KARNAVAS: Object to the form of the question. It suggests
6 that a particular force destroyed it. He can ask who destroyed it as
7 opposed to leading and insinuating.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes. The proper way to put the
9 question would be to ask, "In your opinion or according to the information
10 you have, who destroyed this Orthodox church?"
11 MR. SCOTT:
12 Q. Mr. Gagro, who do you understand destroyed the Orthodox church
13 after the JNA forces left Mostar in June of 1992?
14 A. I cannot give you an answer to that, not an exact one.
15 Q. Well, what do you mean by "exact"?
16 MR. KARNAVAS: Again, I object. Now we're asking the witness to
18 MR. SCOTT: No.
19 MR. KARNAVAS: He either knows or he doesn't know.
20 MR. SCOTT: He may have a perfectly good answer, Your Honour, but
21 unfortunately, unless I have a dialogue with the witness, I can't
22 understand what he means by "exact" or "not exact."
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I'll put the question to the
24 witness myself.
25 There's an Orthodox church in your town, a church which was
1 apparently destroyed. Who did that? People who lived in Mostar, people
2 from the outside? In your opinion, who is responsible? Or perhaps you
3 don't know. But if one is the mayor of a town, it's a little surprising
4 if the mayor isn't aware of what's happening in his town.
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, you see, it is obviously hard
6 to get to the bottom of the problem, because at the moment the JNA left
7 the Mostar area, the immediate vicinity of the city, it had about 30 per
8 cent more inhabitants than otherwise, than normally, because of the large
9 influx of people into Mostar from all over the area, from the war-torn,
10 war-ridden areas. So there was a huge crowd of refugees and other people
11 coming to -- into the city. So it was very difficult to have an overall
12 overview of the conduct of all those people.
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, but that doesn't answer my
14 question as to who destroyed the Orthodox church. You seem to be
15 suggesting that refugees were responsible for that act. Is that what you
16 are saying?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, no. This is not what I'm
18 suggesting. But the situation in which we found ourselves was hard to
19 control. And one thing was certain, however: Whoever did that had to
20 have explosives, because it was blown up by explosives and it was finished
21 off by explosives. So that is the truth. Now, who did it and how and
22 what particular explosives were used, this is something that I cannot say
23 with certainty or confirm within my testimony.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Carry on, Mr. Scott.
25 MR. SCOTT:
1 Q. Sir, if I could just inquire further. When you say you don't know
2 or you don't know exactly, are you talking about you don't know the
3 particular individuals --
4 MR. KARNAVAS: Same objection, Your Honour. Same objection. Now
5 we're going to give him a smorgasbord of choices from which to pick. He
6 doesn't know, he doesn't know.
7 MR. SCOTT: That's not correct, Your Honour. This witness has
8 never said he didn't know. He said he didn't know exactly. I don't know
9 if that means he doesn't know the name of the individual who lit the fuse,
10 or if he doesn't know the group, or if he doesn't know -- as you said,
11 refugees. I'm just asking for more precise information from the witness,
12 Your Honour. We don't know what he means by "exactly." If his question
13 -- if his answer is, "I don't know the names of the individuals who
14 did it," that's one thing.
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, yes. Please continue,
16 Mr. Scott.
17 MR. SCOTT:
18 Q. Sir, if you can assist us, please. You've heard the dialogue,
19 you've heard the objections of Defence counsel, you've heard the Judge's
20 questions. Can you provide us any more assistance? When you say you
21 don't know exactly who destroyed the Serbian church, the Serb Orthodox
22 church, can you tell us anything more? You said you saw it at one point.
23 Can you tell us anything more about who was involved in destroying it?
24 A. Yes. I was an eyewitness but from a distance, as it were. I was
25 not an onlooker. I wasn't watching as an onlooker. But the fact is that
1 this was carried out at the time when there were no Serb force and this
2 was an act that I did not approve of. It would, therefore, be good to say
3 -- I should like to stress that -- that the city of Mostar never
4 accepted, never countenanced what had been done to the Serbs.
5 Q. Well, sir, are you saying you as the mayor, the person who had
6 just been relieved as mayor of Mostar, didn't countenance that, or how do
7 you know about the position of Mr. Topic and others?
8 MR. KARNAVAS: I'm going to object to that question as well, Your
9 Honour. Now we're suggesting that Mr. Topic was behind the blowing up of
10 a church. I think it's highly suggestive and it's highly improper.
11 MR. SCOTT: That's not correct, Your Honour. He just said -- the
12 witness said -- the answer is the city of Mostar never accepted or
13 countenanced that this had been done. Now we spent all afternoon with
14 this witness telling us that by June, 1992, it was the Mostar HVO which
15 had control of the city government. That's -- I haven't suggested
16 anything other than what the witness has told us all afternoon.
17 MR. KARNAVAS: "The city of Mostar" does not mean city government.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. As far as I'm
19 concerned now, but I believe that my colleagues share my opinion, at this
20 point in time we know that the Orthodox church was destroyed, but the
21 witness says he doesn't know who did it. He says one should know who
22 brought the explosives. It could have been the Serbs, the Muslims. It
23 could have been the HVO, it could have been refugees or outsiders. We
24 have no information about this. Everything else is just a matter of
1 Please continue.
2 MR. SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. President.
3 Q. Changing topics, Mr. Gagro, did you ever hear of an organisation
4 during this -- the time that you were mayor in 1991, 1992, named HOS,
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Can you tell the Judges what that was -- were -- excuse me, yes,
8 what the HOS was.
9 A. In the multi-party system of Bosnia-Herzegovina, various parties
10 were established and one of them was the HSP, which within its programme
11 and composition had defined how to act under a defence position, defence
12 conditions, and they established their defence forces and they were the
13 H-O-S, the HOS. I think that's the abbreviation. They were military
14 forces which acted through a particular party.
15 Q. It may assist the Judges in the future, sir, if you can -- when
16 you refer to this party organisation as the HSP, can you tell us what HSP
17 stood for?
18 A. The HSP is the Croatian Party of Rights. One of the oldest
19 parties that was ever formed in Croatia.
20 Q. And what was the relationship, if any, between -- strike that.
21 What was the position or policy of HOS toward Muslims being members of
22 HOS, or cooperation with Muslims?
23 A. Since the HDZ controlled the HVO to all intents and purposes,
24 which acted within defence structures in the Mostar area and further
25 afield, the HSP also established and formed its own forces, and they were
1 called HOS, and they, too, had ambitions and were ready to defend their
2 thresholds. However, unfortunately those programmes were -- well, there
3 was a discrepancy between the two, and they were acting each along their
4 own courses, which were divergent.
5 Now, your question as to whether HOS and the HVO acted along the
6 same lines as a coalition or something like that. I think we can say
7 quite openly and frankly that when General Kraljevic arrived in Ljubuski,
8 he rallied the HOS forces and there was great sympathy for it, and many
9 Croats who respected the HSP traditions intensively lobbied in support of
10 HOS, of the HOS in our area. However, at one point in time they rather
11 overstepped the boundaries of acceptability by those who were objectively
12 stronger in the area, and what happened was there was a serious parting of
13 ways as to how this knot should be resolved, Gordian knot between the HVO
14 and HOS, their misunderstanding. Unfortunately, this general, General
15 Kraljevic, who was the commander of HOS in Herzegovina, had a vision of
16 his own. It was to cooperate with the Muslims and act jointly with the
17 Muslims. And at one point in time he came to Mostar to talk to the
18 leaders of the SDA, and on his way back to Ljubuski, he and his group of
19 nine escorts were liquidated, and that's where the story ended, all this
20 story about HOS and the HVO.
21 MR. SCOTT: Your Honour, I note the time. The courtroom clock
22 seems to have stopped. I don't know if that's some sort of signal or not,
23 but it seems to be five-twenty -- almost 5.30.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes. Looking at my watch, which
25 is working, it's 5.25. So we're going to stop there, have a break, and
1 resume at about ten to six.
2 --- Recess taken at 5.28 p.m.
3 --- On resuming at 5.51 p.m.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Scott.
5 MR. SCOTT:
6 Q. Mr. Gagro, before the break you -- you had indicated on page 62,
7 starting at line 6, you said: Concerning the HVO and HOS,
8 "unfortunately, those programmes were -- well, there was a discrepancy
9 between the two, and they were acting each other along their own courses,
10 which were divergent." And then you went on with another narrative before
11 we could ask you this question: In what ways or how were the courses of
12 the HVO and HOS divergent or discrepant?
13 A. The main difference was that the HVO believed itself to be the
14 only military force active in the territory where the Croats lived,
15 whereas the HOS wanted to take over that role. So initially they
16 prevailed in Ljubuski, and they could have taken over the main defence
17 role in Capljina, et cetera. So this was the main problem, as a result of
18 which those two organisations, those two bodies didn't see eye-to-eye.
19 Q. Were they in competition with each other?
20 A. Well, one could say so.
21 Q. And what happened to the HOS after Mr. Kraljevic was killed?
22 A. Well, then they started lobbying their other leaders then, and
23 some of them join the HVO willingly, others were forced to join them.
24 They were then integrated within the defence force, and they acted in a
25 joint manner.
1 Q. Sir, moving completely further ahead to 1993, I would like to
2 direct your attention to the period of April and May of 1993. Where were
3 you living at that time?
4 A. Before the war, during the war, and after the war I lived in my
5 flat in Mostar.
6 Q. And I believe you indicated earlier that that was in what we call
7 West Mostar.
8 A. Yes. In a central part of Mostar. I could even say in the elite
9 part of the town.
10 Q. And approximately how far was your residence from the Bulevar and
11 what became the confrontation line between the HVO and the ABiH?
12 A. At, well, between 4 and 500 metres as the crow flies.
13 Q. What did you observe happening along the Bulevar in April of 1993?
14 A. What did I observe. Well, at the time after the JNA had withdrawn
15 from Mostar and after temporary authority had been established in Mostar,
16 life got back to normal, in a certain sense, and people could communicate
17 with each other. There were no obstacles to such communication. If it
18 was necessary for us to go to the left bank, we'd do so. Only the old
19 bridge remained intact, so this is the bridge we used to cross over to the
20 other side. So it was possible to communicate with the others. However,
21 prior to the conflict that broke out between the Bosniaks and the Croats,
22 immediately prior to that conflict you could see that there were opposing
23 forces that were not fighting each other, but each night one side would
24 stand on one side of the Bulevar and the other side would stand on the
25 other side. And this was a sort of stalemate. And they would remain
1 present at those sites until the morning, and in the morning they would
2 simply withdraw as if nothing had happened. It was a little odd, but I
3 can say for certain that that continued for perhaps a week. They were on
4 opposite sides. I can't really tell you how they held their weapons, but
5 they had taken up position at the Bulevar, and one of the parties was on
6 one of the sides and the other on the other side.
7 Q. Did you learn around this time that the HVO had made any demands
8 concerning the location of an ABiH army unit in West Mostar?
9 A. I didn't learn anything about demands or ultimatums of any kind,
10 but in part of the town that hadn't been affected by the lines I heard
11 that there had been some explosions. In part of the town where there were
12 no lines, there was some explosions. In the afternoon, about 5.00, this
13 could be heard. Later, we found out that a group from the HVO had
14 attacked the BH army's headquarters.
15 Q. Was this -- was this the headquarters that was located in the
16 Vranica building?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. And I'd like to direct your attention specifically to the 9th and
19 10th of May, 1993, sir. And can you tell us what happened on those days,
20 what you saw on those days.
21 A. Well, shooting broke out. That's all I could see. A conflict
22 between the HVO and the ABiH broke out.
23 Q. Did you have any -- on the 9th of May, 1993, did you have any
24 Muslim neighbours?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. What happened to them?
2 A. They stayed on, but several days later - I can't say when exactly
3 - some forces checked who was living in those flats, and those who were
4 not of Croat ethnicity had to leave their flats.
5 Q. Did you ever know or have any dealings with a man named Dario
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. And given the discussion that we had earlier today about the
9 Kljujic group on the one hand and the Boban group on the other, in which
10 of those two groups would you put Mr. Kordic?
11 A. Well, while there was -- while there were harmonious relationships
12 in the HDZ, Kordic didn't have particular position, or perhaps his
13 position was not enviable because he didn't have a job. And after some
14 time had passed, Mr. Jerko Doko, as the minister of defence of
15 Bosnia-Herzegovina, told me that he had solved his problem and that he had
16 appointed him to a position so that he could act within institutions that
17 were responsible for defence in the area he lived in.
18 Q. What did you observe of the relationship between Mr. Boban and
19 Mr. Kordic?
20 A. Kordic was a very cooperative man, and when it was necessary to
21 find solutions to certain problems, he was very active. He tried to
22 impose some of his own ideas through those activities, but at the time it
23 was already noticeable that he had opted to support Mr. Boban.
24 Q. Did you know, sir, prior to the conflict that we've talked about
25 today, did you know Jadranko Prlic?
1 A. Yes, of course. A prominent citizen of Mostar and a much
2 respected man.
3 Q. Was he as a youth the head of something called the Youth
5 A. He was at the head of everything.
6 Q. What was the Youth Organisation?
7 A. These are nice memories for those who lived at the time. If
8 communists had everything under their control, then it was necessary to
9 allow someone to have some liberty so that that person could participate
10 in active life. We had a lot of young organisation -- youth
11 organisations, a lot of pioneer organisations, many such bodies. These
12 were sort of ornaments that one could find attached to the Communist Party
13 in Yugoslavia.
14 Q. Do you know what sort of education Mr. Prlic received in terms of
15 a degree?
16 A. I know that he was a professor at the faculty of economy at the
17 university in -- in Mostar. I'm not sure whether that's the case now.
18 Q. Can you tell us, from your knowledge, sir, during this time -- or
19 even prior to this time, perhaps it was in the 1980s or the 1970s, what
20 was the Socialist Union?
21 A. Well, so that one didn't have the impression that it was only the
22 communists who were in charge of all policies in the former Yugoslavia,
23 the communists found an elegant compromise which didn't pose a threat to
24 them. One could say that the society was a democratic one, and this
25 Socialist Union was counterpart to the communists, and all working people
1 and citizens of Yugoslavia were part of this union.
2 Q. To your knowledge, was Mr. Prlic part of the Socialist Union?
3 A. Well, yes. I was too. And that was Prlic's first step towards
4 his future political career that subsequently ensued.
5 Q. Do you know that Mr. Prlic worked for, not only that he was a
6 member but that he worked professionally for the Socialist Union?
7 A. I'm not sure, but perhaps for a short period of time he was
8 professionally engaged in the Socialist Union in the town of Mostar.
9 Q. What was the Executive Council for Mostar?
10 A. What was it? Well, a body that in fact implemented the decisions
11 taken by the town Assembly. One says -- one calls it the Executive Board.
12 It implements the conclusions and decisions taken by the town Assembly.
13 Q. Was Mr. Prlic ever the president of the Executive Council for
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. And when was that, approximately?
17 A. When was that? Well, one year before the last multi-party
18 elections that were held, because for one year Prlic was the deputy
19 president -- the deputy Prime Minister of the BH government, and he left
20 his position within the Executive Board and became deputy to Mr. --
21 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter isn't sure he heard the name
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] So this is one year after the
24 elections that were held in 1990.
25 MR. SCOTT:
1 Q. Mr. Gagro, could you assist the interpreters, please, by restating
2 the name, if you did, of -- you said that Mr. Prlic was the deputy to
3 Mr. Somebody. Can you repeat the name, please.
4 A. Perhaps I was in a hurry. I wanted to clarify everything in one
5 sentence. Mr. Prlic, after he had been appointed as president of the
6 Executive Board of the Mostar Municipal Assembly remained in that position
7 for about one year. Mr. Prlic can correct me if I'm mistaken, but that's
8 my assessment, although, given all the time that has passed, it's
9 difficult for me to be precise.
10 After having held that position, he was elected as the Deputy
11 Prime Minister of the Executive Board of the Assembly of Bosnia and
12 Herzegovina. That's what it was called at the time.
13 Q. And do you know approximately how long he remained in that
15 A. Well, I assume it was for about one year.
16 Q. And was Mr. Prlic working in Mostar when you -- during the time
17 that you were mayor of Mostar?
18 A. No. When I was elected, we met. I was invited to a discussion in
19 Sarajevo. He still held the position of Deputy Prime Minister of Bosnia
20 and Herzegovina. He had the responsibility to transfer power to the new
21 authorities in Bosnia-Herzegovina because Mr. Pad [as interpreted] had
22 already left his position as Prime Minister of the government of
24 Q. During the time that you were in Mostar, were you familiar with
25 the fact that Mr. Prlic worked for a time apparently with a company
1 apparently called Hepok?
2 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Sorry if I interrupt, but you were actually
3 starting out asking for the name of the Prime Minister to whom Mr. Prlic
4 was deputy. The name has just again not been understood by the
5 interpreter, and perhaps we should get it.
6 MR. SCOTT: Yes, Your Honour. Thank you very much.
7 Q. Mr. Gagro, we're going to try again. Can you please very clearly
8 state the name of this Prime Minister, if I understand correctly, that
9 Mr. Prlic worked for or with for a time.
10 A. I assume his name was Gojko, his first name, but his surname was
11 Ubiparip. This could be translated as someone who killed a horse. That
12 would be one possible translation of his family name.
13 Q. Well, that's certainly more information than we had before. All
14 right, sir, let me go back to the question about Hepok, unless Judge
15 Trechsel has another question.
16 Let me ask you about this company called Hepok. Do you know for a
17 time whether Mr. Prlic was employed with this company?
18 A. At the end of his term of office in the former government of
19 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr. Prlic remained without a job. He returned to
20 Mostar and found work in Apro. I think that's an abbreviation. I don't
21 know what the full name is. This is a system that included many fields of
22 activity in the town of Mostar.
23 Q. Were you familiar with a company named Hepok; and, if so, what
24 kind of a company was that? What business was it engaged in?
25 A. Hepok had vineyards and similar facilities, facilities for
1 producing wine and many other facilities.
2 Q. Do you know what other lines of business this other company Apro
3 was -- A-p-r-o, was that like a parent company to Hepok?
4 A. That's correct. Apro had various fields of activities, and it
5 acted as one company that unified all these various fields of activities.
6 Q. And, sir, can you tell the Judges, what position did Mr. Prlic
7 hold during this time at this company Apro, or A-p-r-o?
8 A. I don't know. Perhaps I'm mistaken, but perhaps he was the
9 director of that company, the chairman. I'm not sure if this is correct,
11 Q. Do you know if there ever came a time when Mr. Prlic was nominated
12 or recommended for a position on the National Bank of Bosnia-Herzegovina?
13 A. Yes, because I was an active participant in that matter.
14 Q. Will you tell the Judges, please, what happened in that regard.
15 And perhaps, first of all, you can tell us, was Mr. Prlic ultimately
16 successful in being placed in that position as -- would it be the governor
17 or a governor of the National Bank?
18 A. Unfortunately, we didn't succeed. I'll tell you how he was put
19 forward as a candidate and why he wasn't accepted as our candidate for the
20 governor of the bank of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
21 At the initiative of the Prime Minister, the Croatian Prime
22 Minister of Bosnia-Herzegovina, a Croatian candidate was demanded for the
23 position of the governor of the bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was
24 for the Croats to put forward such a candidate. There were lengthy
25 discussions about that, and as suggested by Mr. Jure Pelivan, who was the
1 Prime Minister, Mr. Jadranko Prlic was proposed as a candidate. Knowing
2 Mr. Prlic and his professional and organisational skills, knowing his
3 qualifications, we were very happy to accept him as a candidate, but when
4 designating this person, and this is a matter for the Assembly of
5 Bosnia-Herzegovina, there were certain misunderstandings and he was
6 withdrawn as a candidate.
7 Q. What led to him -- you said there were certain misunderstandings.
8 Tell us what those misunderstandings were.
9 A. Well, yes, I can tell you. An explanation would require more
10 time. I don't want to tire the listeners, but I'll tell you.
11 Every party, in its statute, has set procedure for selecting
12 candidates for certain positions, the position that a candidate is being
13 put forward for. Unfortunately, as is usually the case where we come
14 from, everything was decided at the last minute, and when a formal -- when
15 a candidate had to be put to the Assembly formally for adoption, it turned
16 out that nobody had a very serious candidate to put forward. And finally,
17 when Mr. Kljujic came to see us in Mostar, Mr. Pelivan came, too, and said
18 that we had to put an end once and for all to this undefined candidacy,
19 because it was a vital post for the functioning of the organs of power and
20 authority in Bosnia-Herzegovina. We had to have a candidate, they say.
21 And then we said that the HDZ of Mostar was behind Jadranko Prlic.
22 Mr. Kljujic wasn't delighted with the name of this candidate, and the
23 explanation he gave was that the HDZ would not put forward anybody as
24 candidate who was not a member of the HDZ. However, we insisted. We
25 said, "Let's drop the formalities. Let's put this man forward and elect
1 him, because he was a key figure and should be used to help solve the
2 country's problems." And Kljujic was left in the minority, and he said,
3 "All right. I won't insist upon you not putting Prlic forward as a
4 candidate." He would remain from voting.
5 So Mr. Prlic was put forward by us as a candidate. He went
6 through the entire procedure to the commission for appointments that
7 Mr. Prlic should be elected candidate. Mr. Prlic went through the
8 commission proceedings and everything was on the table, ready for the
9 meeting that was supposed to be held that day. And then -- well, I can
10 say that Boban learnt about this, the name of this candidate, and he was
11 opposed to it. And he started insisting that we should explain how it
12 came about that we put Mr. Prlic forward was a candidate for that post.
13 And finally it turned out that it didn't pass through the HDZ branch in
14 Mostar and their meeting, that the procedure wasn't adhered to, and that
15 therefore his candidacy could not be accepted. So then it was through
16 their request that this proposal was withdrawn from the parliament of
18 Q. As a member of the HDZ, did you have any involvement in Mr. Boban
19 subsequently appointing Mr. Prlic as the head of the finance department of
20 the HVO or Herceg-Bosna?
21 A. I had no information about that, nor, to be quite frank, was I
22 delighted with Prlic's involvement along those lines. Well, let's leave
23 that. That's my own personal opinion. I won't expound it.
24 Q. Well, I'm going to have to ask you, sir, in light of what you've
25 just said in the courtroom, is why were you not delighted with Mr. Prlic's
2 A. Because all of us considered Prlic to be a man who was -- a man
3 who had skills and was a good craftsman but didn't have sympathies for the
4 HDZ. So this was a bit of a disillusionment that he had decided to
5 involve himself in a programme which was led by Mate Boban.
6 MR. SCOTT: If I can just consult my colleague, Your Honour.
7 [Prosecution counsel confer]
8 MR. SCOTT: Thank you, Your Honour. We have no further questions
9 for Mr. Gagro, and we thank the witness. Thank you.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. It is 6.25. We have
11 half an hour to go before 7.00.
12 Mr. Kovacic, are you starting the cross-examination?
13 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour. But before I do
14 so, I'd like to allow my client, Mr. Praljak, to say something. He said
15 he would take up not more than 15 minutes, and then I would like to
16 resume. Thank you.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. After that, I'm
18 going to ask the registrar to tell us how much time the Prosecution had,
19 how much time they used up. But anyway, Mr. Praljak, go ahead.
20 THE ACCUSED PRALJAK: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
21 Cross-examination by the Accused Praljak:
22 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Gagro, I'm Praljak. Good afternoon to you.
23 A. Good afternoon, Mr. Praljak, to you, too.
24 Q. I would like to clarify certain points relating to the spring and
25 beginning of summer, 1992.
1 A. Go ahead, ask me.
2 Q. In 1991, as you said, the Yugoslav People's Army arrived and the
3 paramilitaries to Mostar.
4 A. Let me just put you right. Perhaps I made a slip of the tongue.
5 I used the concept of the Yugoslav army.
6 Q. Very well. Anyway, they come to Mostar, and there was a wave of
7 20.000 refugees coming before them; is that correct?
8 A. Yes, that is correct.
9 Q. Thank you. They then took over the military structures,
10 three-quarters of the area around Mostar. That is to say the hills and
11 the town; is that correct?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. At that time in Mostar, the command of what we call forces, was he
14 Mr. Berak [as interpreted]? Was the commander of what we refer to as
16 A. Yes. Well, he wasn't in the Mostar area.
17 Q. You mean he was further afield?
18 A. Yes, further afield.
19 Q. Mr. Perak, was --
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, Mr. Scott.
21 MR. SCOTT: Your Honour, can we just -- what forces? "We just
22 call forces." Which forces with which organisation or which side or
23 party, please.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes. Let's hear who the forces
25 are. Could you be more precise?
1 THE ACCUSED PRALJAK: [Interpretation]
2 Q. The Yugoslav People's Army and the Chetniks occupied Mostar and
3 the surrounding hills; is that correct?
4 A. I can say that officially speaking it was the Titograd Uzice Corps
5 that arrived in Mostar. That was what it was officially. Otherwise -- or
6 that's what the Yugoslav army said. Now, who was in the composition of
7 that force, I can't say.
8 Q. Thank you. So as we were saying, those forces, the Uzice forces
9 or whatever, we're going to refer to them as forces, the forces of the
10 Yugoslav People's Army, occupied Mostar, did they not, and that -- all the
11 surrounding hills?
12 A. Well, that's not quite correct. They arrived in that first wave,
13 that is to say on the 19th of September. They arrived, they reached
14 Mostar, and they were armed to the teeth, but they entered in the region
15 of the airport, the Heliodrom, and the North Camp.
16 Q. Yes, that's right. After that they occupied the hills on the
17 right bank of the Neretva River towards Citluk and in-depth towards Siroki
18 Brijeg; is that right?
19 A. Yes. That was a process that evolved over a certain period of
21 Q. Thank you. Now, as I have very little time, I'm going to try and
22 get through my questions a little quicker. Thank you for your answers
23 anyway so far.
24 Now, did they on a daily basis bomb Mostar using heavy weaponry,
25 heavy guns, heavy artillery in the spring of 1992?
1 A. Yes. At the time when they started -- or let me put it this way
2 quite simply: When the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina started, they launched
3 destructive attacks on Mostar.
4 Q. Thank you. Mr. Perak -- Berak [as interpreted], the commander at
5 that time, before my arrival, before I came to be the commander, did he
6 issue an order at one point according to which the forces in Mostar should
7 leave the Mostar area and withdraw towards the west and leave the entire
8 area of Mostar to the forces of the Uzice Corps?
9 A. I don't know about that. I don't know.
10 Q. Thank you. If it is seen that Mr. Perak issued an order of that
11 kind, would it not be strange that you as the president of the Crisis
12 Staff did not know about an order of that kind? Wouldn't that be a bit
14 A. Yes, it would be a bit strange, as far as I'm concerned.
15 Q. Thank you. Now, is it correct that after that the Serb forces
16 took Stolac and the Dubrava plateau, and on the 15th of May expelled from
17 the eastern banks of the river Neretva to the right bank of the Neretva
18 all or almost all of the population, both Muslims and Croats?
19 A. That is true, but I have to say that those same forces had
20 previously conducted a massacre against the Croatian village of Ravno.
21 Q. Thank you. Now, this expulsion on the 15th of May in Mostar, did
22 it take place on exactly the same day when you --
23 A. It's a coincidence.
24 Q. I see, a coincidence. Thank you. How many people arrived on the
25 left bank from the east bank? How many more people were expelled by this
1 Uzice Chetnik force?
2 A. Well, nobody was allowed to stay there. And if they did, they
3 fared badly.
4 Q. Thank you. Now, how many bridges in that short period of time
5 were destroyed along the Neretva River from North Mostar to Capljina?
6 A. All of them except the old bridge.
7 Q. Thank you. Do you happen to know who and in what way armed the
8 people who voluntarily put their names forward to defend their houses in
9 the Capljina-Mostar area? Who supplied them with weapons and how?
10 A. Well, mostly they purchased the weapons themselves.
11 Q. Thank you. So were these volunteer units? Did anybody conduct a
12 mobilisation before that?
13 A. No. We referred to them as village guards, village watches.
14 Q. Thank you. Now, how many such groups were there in the town of
15 Mostar during the material period? That is to say April, 1992.
16 A. Everybody capable of carrying a rifle rose up to defend their
18 Q. Thank you. Now, do you know what functioned in Mostar at that
19 point in time? Let's look at the bank, the waterworks system,
20 electricity, arms, ammunition, supplies generally. Were they all
21 functioning? Financial institutions? Banks, I've already said. Was that
22 almost entirely destroyed?
23 A. Well, I can't say that it was all entirely destroyed. We did
24 manage to save something, some of that, and the town -- or, rather, the
25 municipality had 126.000 inhabitants, after all.
1 Q. Thank you. Now, when we look at Mostar itself at that point in
2 time, and we're talking about the 15th of May, you couldn't take the road
3 to Capljina and down to the coast. You couldn't go to Stolac by road.
4 You couldn't go to Nevesinje by road. You couldn't go to Jablanica and
5 Sarajevo by road. You couldn't go towards Citluk by road, and you
6 couldn't go to Siroki Brijeg by road. Is that correct?
7 A. Correct.
8 Q. Was there only one road that was passable, that you could go to
9 Mostar -- to and from Mostar on that one road?
10 A. Yes, I've already said that.
11 Q. Thank you. Now, that one road, was it covered by the artillery of
12 the Serb forces?
13 A. Unfortunately, yes, it was, and I think that about 15 people lost
14 their lives. Fifteen Mostar citizens were killed.
15 Q. And that was the only road that supplies could come into Mostar;
16 what we ate, what we used to shoot with, and everything else that the town
17 needed, that the 126.000 inhabitants of the town needed?
18 A. Yes, that's absolutely right. It was a very great problem.
19 Q. Let me repeat: So every day during that period of time the Serbs
20 were shooting at the town. There were wounded and there were dead.
21 A. Yes, that's right. Excuse me, but I'd like to define that by
22 saying there was general chaos, general chaos reigned.
23 Q. Yes, chaos. And as you say in the document we looked at here, we
24 had anarchy, anarchy and terrorism. Would that be correct?
25 A. Well, in a certain form, yes. But I think as far as terrorism is
1 concerned, we can't take terrorism as being the right concept in this
3 Q. Thank you. Now, do you know that during that period of time I
4 myself was the commander of that part of the battlefield, from Capljina to
5 the northern stretches of Mostar?
6 A. Well, I think we met, came across each other on one occasion.
7 Q. Thank you. Now, do you know that already in the month of April,
8 1992, people were getting ready to leave the western part of Herzegovina -
9 Citluk, Medjugorje, Capljina - because they were afraid of the danger that
10 loomed and the poor state of the forces of the Croatian Defence Council,
11 their lack of organisation? Do you know about that?
12 A. Yes, but I would doubt that. We weren't that prone to fear in
13 order to run away.
14 Q. Now, do you know that each municipality dug trenches right in
15 front of their municipal boundaries?
16 A. Well, when we spoke a moment ago, we asked the HVO and certain
17 municipalities to establish communications so as to organise things in a
18 simpler manner.
19 Q. Do you think that it was simple, given that brief space of time,
20 to link up and organise all those forces with all the problems that
21 existed, that you know were in existence, for them to be able to in the
22 month of June be ready, first of all to expel the Serb forces from the
23 right bank of the Neretva River and then, some ten days later on, a long
24 way from Mostar both towards Stolac and Northern Mostar? Would that have
25 been easy?
1 A. Not at all easy, no.
2 Q. When we say the Serbs left - we say that quite often - I'm sure
3 you can appreciate my sentiments here, how many lives did that cost our
4 soldiers, the fact that the Serbs left and to reach that goal?
5 A. I'm sure he know that better than me.
6 Q. Can we therefore consider, judging by the number of dead and
7 wounded, the casualties we had on our side and that the opposite side had
8 as well, that this form of conflict and clash by a military clash of two
9 military formations --
10 A. I'm not following you. I didn't understand what you meant there.
11 Q. If we have dead and wounded on both sides, casualties on both
12 sides and fatalities on both sides, can we call this a military conflict
13 and not, just strolling, the Serbs left or went?
14 A. I don't know who used that verb "left" or "went." I don't use
15 that term.
16 Q. Thank you. Just a few more brief questions. You said that
17 Mr. Perinovic was replaced, and then rumour had it that that was because
18 there was a Serb in his family, a Serb family member. But Mr. Kljujic was
19 replaced as well, and he had no Serbs in his family. And then there was
20 Brkic and some others.
21 Now, can we therefore consider that Perinovic was not replaced for
22 that particular reason?
23 A. Well, I can't go into that. Objectively speaking, it was very
24 early on, and it was a rumour that went round when I was active.
25 Q. Thank you. Now a private question. Was the sole remaining bridge
1 across the Neretva River the old bridge?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Now, when the Serbs were expelled, was it protected?
4 A. Yes, it was.
5 Q. Do you know who was in charge in the heat of battle of the job of
6 protecting the old bridge?
7 A. No.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Before I give the floor to
9 Mr. Kovacic, with respect to the questions that were asked, I'd like to
10 ask the witness: You said you met Mr. Praljak on one occasion. Do you
11 remember when that was? When did you meet him?
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, I assume -- it's difficult for
13 me to pinpoint the exact time, whether I had already been replaced or not,
14 I can't be sure about that, but I do know that Mr. Praljak invited me for
15 talks. We had courteous talks. He said that he respected the legally
16 elected organs in Mostar and that he had appointed a man whom we referred
17 to as a liaison officer. Unfortunately, that liaison officer never
18 appeared in our Crisis Staff.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. We have another
20 question for you.
21 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. I would
22 just like to clarify something. Mr. Praljak had put a question to you and
23 asked you whether you knew who had protected the old bridge in Mostar. I
24 didn't quite understand your answer. Did you know who was protecting the
25 bridge or not? Was the bridge still intact when the Serbian troops
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. The old bridge was in a fairly
3 good state when the Serbian forces were driven out of Mostar.
4 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] And were there troops or was there
5 a group that protected this bridge or was it just left intact without
6 their engagement?
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, look, in the fight -- in the
8 conflict between the JNA and the units defending the town, everyone moved
9 over to the left side, and everyone participated in escorting those
10 gentlemen into the hills. And afterwards, well, I don't know who stayed
11 on to protect and defend that bridge which was the only bridge that linked
12 the left and the right side of the Neretva River.
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Kovacic.
14 Cross-examination by Mr. Kovacic:
15 Q. [Interpretation] Good day, Mr. Gagro, my name is Mr. Kovacic. I'm
16 Defence counsel for Mr. Praljak. There are a few other questions I'd like
17 to put to you.
18 Since we're discussing the old bridge, let me put another question
19 to you about it. You said quite clearly that the bridge was in a fairly
20 good state but it had been damaged. Could this damage be seen with a
21 naked eye or was an expert required to see such damage?
22 A. Well, it was possible to see the damage to the armour, to the
23 protection for the bridge.
24 Q. Do you know what the cause of that damage was?
25 A. Well, it's obvious: Our forces had already taken up position
1 around the old bridge, and that was the only link between the two sides,
2 and Serbian forces shelled that position because they knew that forces
3 would assemble there and that was the only point at which it was possible
4 to cross from one side of the town to the other.
5 Q. So does this mean that the old bridge was damaged by the Serbian
6 forces, by the Serbian artillery when the Croats and Muslims under the HVO
7 organisation launched an offensive against the Serbian forces?
8 A. Well, look, I have to correct you because I do know that,
9 unfortunately, my colleague was killed on the bridge as a result of a
10 mortar shell. It wasn't easy for the Serbs who had withdrawn to their
11 positions to use guns and other artillery to target such a bridge, so they
12 used mortars.
13 Q. Thank you very much. Was there any damage prior to that battle?
14 A. Well, if you're asking me about peacetime, well, you know that the
15 old bridge in Mostar is one of the oldest bridges. It's existed for over
16 400 years. And it had been slightly damaged because of exposure to the
17 weather, the rain. So it had been repaired.
18 Q. I wasn't very precise. You started talking about the history of
19 the bridge.
20 A. I'm sorry. I didn't know what you were asking me about.
21 Q. My question concerned the time prior to when the bridge was
22 damaged as a result of conflicts. But when the Serbs were in control of
23 the town and when there was shooting, was the bridge damaged on that
25 A. Well, that's possible, but it wasn't that visible.
1 Q. Very well. Thank you. At the beginning of your testimony, page
2 9, line 19 of the transcript, you mentioned the establishment of the HDZ,
3 and you mentioned the sister relationship between the BH HDZ and the HDZ
4 in Croatia. You and I know what is at stake, but let's try to clarify
5 this for others who are not that familiar with the situation. Do you
6 remember when the HDZ was established in Croatia for the first time? I
7 know you can't mention dates.
8 A. In 1989. I know quite a few details about that.
9 Q. Very good. The HDZ was established in 1989 in Zagreb, and at the
10 time there were no conflicts and Yugoslavia was the Socialist Federative
11 Republic of Yugoslavia and was still in existence. It was still
12 functioning properly.
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. And other peoples and political groups at the time started
15 founding the first free parties in the former Yugoslavia; is that correct?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. And the SDA was established at that time in Sarajevo.
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Bearing in mind the period of time, those parties acted within
20 Yugoslavia. The HDZ didn't have to restrict its activities to Croatia.
21 A. Well, that was the idea.
22 Q. Would you agree that its political force was most felt in Croatia
23 because that's where the Croats lived, however, it was active in other
24 parts of the former Yugoslavia?
25 A. That's correct.
1 Q. Are you aware of the fact that towards the end of 1989 and at the
2 beginning of 1990 the HDZ established its branches in other European
4 A. I don't know about that.
5 Q. You have never heard about that?
6 A. Yes, but I don't know the details.
7 Q. But you do agree that such branches existed?
8 A. Yes, I do.
9 Q. You said that you were aware of the fact that the HDZ had been
10 established. When was it established in the Republic of Bosnia and
12 A. It was certainly before the first multi-party elections were held.
13 Q. At the time that Yugoslavia was still in existence?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. At that time - and we're still referring to the same territory
16 regardless of the existence of republics - at that time was there formal,
17 legal distinction to be made between the HDZ in Bosnia and Herzegovina and
18 the HDZ in Zagreb?
19 A. I think that that's how they wanted to organise things.
20 Q. Can you explain that?
21 A. All the HDZ in Croatia became active in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
22 It was believed that republics were zones in which Croats in
23 Bosnia-Herzegovina had their interests and Croats in Croatia had their own
24 interests. So as to avoid any overlapping, the tendency was for the HDZ
25 in Bosnia and Herzegovina to be organised on principles that would enable
1 this body to develop its political platform independently and in a way
2 that it thought was most appropriate.
3 Q. Thank you. With regard to this explanation, is that why you say
4 that these parties were sister parties? Is that based on that assessment?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Since you were a politically active man at that time, could one
7 say that the SDA was also present not only in Bosnia-Herzegovina but in
8 Croatia, too, since there were many Bosniaks, or at the time Muslims, in
10 A. I assume that it was in their interest to act in that way so as to
11 assemble their own people, to have them support a programme that they
12 supported, but I didn't really follow that.
13 Q. I'm -- I know that you are not informed of the details. This took
14 place 16 years ago.
15 A. Yes. And this was the very beginning of these events, and we
16 didn't all intensively follow the establishment of new political parties.
17 This was something new for the citizens of the former Yugoslavia.
18 Q. That's correct. But I think that your answer implies the
19 following: Do you remember that the SDA also had branches of its own that
20 were active in Croatia? I'm asking you this for the sake of the
22 A. Yes, they did have such branches.
23 MR. KOVACIC: Your Honour, I would ask for instruction. Actually
24 -- I'm sorry. I'm supposed to speak Croatian.
25 [Interpretation] Your Honours, I'm in a bit of a dilemma. I could
1 move on to another subject now, but I think it would be best if we proceed
2 in a different manner. I'd like to show the witness some photographs, so
3 perhaps it would be best to stop here and continue tomorrow morning.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. It's almost 7.00
5 p.m. now. As far as the time you have tomorrow is concerned, according to
6 the calculations made, the Prosecution has used up 2 hours and 44 minutes.
7 The Judges took up the remaining time when putting questions to the
8 witness. So in theory, the Defence should have the same amount of time.
9 That means around three hours.
10 Last week I asked you to discuss the matter among yourselves. I
11 don't know what you have decided with regard to this witness. Could you
12 tell me how much time you will need. Mr. Karnavas.
13 MR. KARNAVAS: Yes. Thank you, Mr. President. I believe that we
14 should be able to manage our time within the three-hour period, give or
15 take a minute or two. Having said that, can we then assume that the
16 witness that's to follow, that we are to be ready tomorrow afternoon,
17 since we're going to -- I understand we're going to start at 4.00. Should
18 we be ready to cross-examine the following witness that was supposed to
19 return, because he should be back. My preference would be to go ahead and
20 continue and use up the time, so ...
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes. Mr. Scott, the witness who
22 will be coming back, I thought he would be coming back on Wednesday.
23 Tomorrow it's Tuesday. Mr. Scott, do you have any information you could
24 provide us with?
25 MR. SCOTT: Your Honour, no. As you know, we're prohibited from
1 talking to the witness so we've had absolutely no communication with
2 Mr. Smajkic, so I have no idea what his plans are.
3 MR. KARNAVAS: Perhaps we could make an inquiry. I'm sure that he
4 would be travelling tomorrow. If he's here around noon or so, that would
5 give him sufficient time and we can just go ahead. I don't see the reason
6 to wait until Wednesday to commence with that.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. We'll resume
8 tomorrow at 9.00. As you know, we'll stop at half past twelve tomorrow.
9 We will then have a break until 4.00 p.m. because the Judges have a
10 Plenary to attend, and we will then resume at 4.00 p.m. tomorrow and work
11 until 7.00 p.m. Things will be a lot clearer tomorrow.
12 The registrar has also reminded me of something that's unclear in
13 the English transcript. He's drawn my attention to the fact that there's
14 something that's unclear in the transcript. Mr. Registrar, could we go
15 into private session? Fortunately, I still have my reflexes.
16 [Private session]
13 [Open session]
14 THE REGISTRAR: [Interpretation] We're back in open session,
15 Mr. President.
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. It's 7.00 p.m. The
17 clock has disappeared. I hope the registrar will provide us with a clock
18 tomorrow, a Swiss one, I hope, thank you, and I'll see you all tomorrow at
19 9.00 a.m.
20 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 7.02 p.m.,
21 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 30th day
22 of May, 2006, at 9.00 a.m.