1 Monday, 5 March 2007
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 2.15 p.m.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Registrar, call the case,
7 THE REGISTRAR: Good afternoon, Your Honours. This is case number
8 IT-04-74-T, the Prosecutor versus Prlic et al.
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you.
10 On this Monday, I'd like to welcome the Prosecution that are in
11 full number, and all the Defence counsel, and of course the accused, and
12 everybody else in this courtroom.
13 I'm going to start off by giving the floor to the registrar for
14 some IC numbers.
15 THE REGISTRAR: Thank you very much, Your Honours.
16 Several parties have submitted lists of documents to be tendered
17 through Witness Josip Praljak. OTP estimated in particular 14 lists, one
18 for each bundle of documents. The first list -- the first bundle shall be
19 assigned Exhibit number 454. The second bundle shall become Exhibit -- IC
20 455. The third bundle shall become Exhibit IC 456. The fourth bundle
21 shall become Exhibit IC 457. Bundle number shall become Exhibit IC 458.
22 Bundle number six shall become Exhibit IC 459. Bundle number seven shall
23 become Exhibit IC 460. Bundle number eight shall become IC 461. Bundle
24 number nine shall become Exhibit IC 462. Bundle number 10 shall become
25 Exhibit IC 463. Bundle number 11 shall become Exhibit number IC 464.
1 Bundle number 12 shall become Exhibit IC 465. Bundle number 13 shall
2 become IC 466, while bundle number 14 shall become IC 467.
3 The list submitted by 2D shall be given Exhibit number IC 468.
4 The list submitted by 3D shall be given Exhibit number IC 369 [sic]. The
5 list submitted by 5D shall --
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] There's a mistake.
7 THE REGISTRAR: Thank you very much, Your Honour. The list
8 submitted by 5D shall being Exhibit IC 470. While the list submitted by
9 6D shall be given Exhibit number IC 471.
10 Thank you very much, Your Honours.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. Registrar.
12 The Chamber has an oral decision to render regarding the exhibits
13 presented during Witness CT's testimony and the witness appeared on the
14 11th of January, 2007. The Chamber has decided to admit into evidence
15 exhibits presented by the Prosecution on the basis of list IC 0210, on the
16 grounds that they present certain probative value and relevance. Let me
17 repeat the number. IC 02102 -- 0210.
18 The Chamber would like to note that Exhibits P 09805 and P 0880.
19 Let me repeat the number P 0888 - three 8s - 0, are admitted into evidence
20 under seal. Furthermore, the Chamber has decided to admit into evidence
21 Exhibit P 02769 presented by the Stojic Defence and exhibit P 02749
22 presented by the Coric Defence on the grounds that they represent a
23 certain probative value and relevance.
24 I should also like to tell you, although you know this, that the
25 Chamber rendered a ruling last week concerning the reduction of time that
1 the Prosecution will have, and the Chamber maintains its decision, and I
2 had an opinion apart that I set in -- forward my position with respect to
3 the Chamber's opinions and the question of reduction of time. So the
4 decision that we took reducing the time is fully upheld.
5 Now, with respect to the witness that is going to appear today, we
6 have decided that will the Prosecution will have six hours for the
7 examination-in-chief, and six hours will be the maximum time allotted.
8 Now, as to the Defence teams, the cross-examination will have the
9 following amount of time: For the Prlic Defence, 60 minutes, a maximum of
10 60 minutes. Mr. Stojic will have 75 minutes, a maximum. Mr. Praljak will
11 have 60 minutes, a maximum of 60 minutes. Mr. Coric will have a maximum
12 of 75 minutes. Mr. Petkovic will have a maximum of 75 minutes, and the
13 Pusic Defence will have a maximum of 60 minutes.
14 Now, if all the Defence teams respect the time allotted, we should
15 be over with the witness by Thursday.
16 As -- well, we received a motion from the Defence on the 2nd of
17 March regarding Josip Praljak who met someone in the month of August, so
18 Mr. Pusic and his counsel, would they please tell us about this.
19 Mr. Ibrisimovic?
20 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. I'm
21 try and explain the situation. On Friday -- on Friday, late in the
22 afternoon, we received two more statements from the Prosecution with
23 respect to this witness. We expected to receive an explanation of what we
24 had heard later on -- earlier on, and on Friday evening I presented these
25 statements to Mr. Pusic and asked him to give me a written statement about
1 that. We've received the written statement. It is being translated, and
2 I hope that we'll have a finished version by tomorrow and send in our
4 Mr. Pusic did meet Mr. Praljak as the witness explained, but not
5 in 2006 but much earlier on, so not in the summer. Thank you.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] We shall be reading the written
7 declaration and the filing very carefully.
8 I'd just like to say that on page 3, line 16, when I said that we
9 received requests, it was from the Prosecution, not the Defence. So
10 that's the mistake there.
11 We're now going to have the witness shown in, and I'm going to ask
12 Madam Usher to go and fetch the witness.
13 The Prosecution has prepared all these documents for us. We have
14 a whole bunch of them. I don't know who is going to be taking the
15 examination-in-chief. Mr. Mundis or Mr. Kruger?
16 MR. MUNDIS: Thank you, Mr. President. I will be conducting the
17 direct examination of the witness.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well, Mr. Mundis.
19 [The witness enters court]
20 WITNESS: MARIJAN BISKIC
21 [Witness answered through interpreter]
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Good afternoon, sir. I'm going
23 to start off by seeing if you can understand me in your own language and
24 hear me. If so, tell me.
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour, I can.
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] On behalf of my colleagues and
2 myself, I'd like to say good afternoon. As you know, you are a
3 Prosecution witness called to testify here about certain facts or
4 documents. Before you take the solemn declaration, I would like to ask
5 you for your first name, last name, and date of birth.
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] My name is Marijan Biskic. I was
7 born on the 7th of February, 1959.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Sir, what is your current
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I am a retired officer of the armed
11 forces of the Republic of Croatia.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So you're a retired officer.
13 What rank did you have when you retired?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I was a brigadier.
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you. And you're not
16 working at the moment? You're receiving a pension, are you?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, and I'm working in a private
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] And what are you, a consultant
20 or ...
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I'm a consultant.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] And in what area?
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Integrated security.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Have you ever testified before
25 and international or national tribunal before on the events that took
1 place in your country or is this the first time?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This is the first time.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Would you go ahead and read the
4 solemn declaration now, please.
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
6 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you. You may be seated.
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I'm going to give you some
10 information first about the proceedings of the afternoon. As the
11 Prosecutor has probably told you, because you met with the Prosecutor
12 yesterday and this morning probably, and perhaps also on Saturday, I don't
13 know, but you will be answering questions put to you by the Prosecutor, an
14 and that in this says is Mr. Mundis, who will be presenting documents as
15 well, which you probably looked through with him during the proofing
16 session, as it's called. And for their -- the Prosecution's questions we
17 have allotted a time of six hours, which would take us until tomorrow.
18 After the examination-in-chief, it will it be turn of the Defence
19 counsel and perhaps the accused as well. They will be asking you
20 questions within what we call the cross-examination, and we have divided
21 up the time amongst the Defence teams for the cross-examination and the
22 Defence teams' questions, which means that we ought to finish your
23 testimony by Thursday.
24 The four Judges sitting up at the Bench in front of you may also ask
25 you questions at all times. We're going to try and discipline ourselves
1 and not to intervene unless it's absolutely necessary, and we'll ask our
2 questions after the Prosecution has asked theirs to prevent interrupting
3 the Prosecutor, unless there is an absolute necessity to do so. If we
4 believe that the Prosecutor should have asked you a question which he did
5 not, then we will step in.
6 Do your best to be as precise as possible in your answers, and
7 since you're an officer I have no concerns on that score. I'm sure you'll
8 be able to answer the questions properly.
9 If you don't understand a question, please don't hesitate to ask
10 the person asking it to repeat it. If during the proceedings at any time
11 you feel unwell, don't hesitate to let us know and we'll take a break,
12 because I'm sure you'll find that answering questions over many hours and
13 a number of days is a very exhausting process. So we will understand it
14 if you would like to have a break.
15 We have regular breaks every one and a half hours when we take a
16 20-minute break to allow you to have a rest and to allow the technical
17 officers to change the tapes.
18 If you need to address the Chamber at any time in the course of
19 your testimony, feel free to do so.
20 So that in very general terms it is how the proceedings are going
21 to evolve.
22 I'd just like to bring up a procedural point. You are a witness
23 here, and a witness is required to answer questions, but if you consider
24 that a question threatens to intimidate [as interpreted] you, then you
25 need not answer the question. This is something that we never came
1 across, but the Chamber can compel you to reply; but this will not be held
2 against you in the proceedings. But rest assured that up until now we
3 haven't found ourselves faced with the situation, but one never knows.
4 JUDGE TRECHSEL: A small direction to line 24 of page 7, threatens
5 to incriminate and not "intimidate."
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, it's not to intimidate, it
7 is to incriminate, an answer that might incriminate you, not intimidate.
8 Although the word intimidate is incorporated in the word incriminate but
9 it's not the same thing, of course.
10 Now, Mr. Mundis, you have the floor.
11 MR. MUNDIS: Thank you, Mr. President.
12 Examination by Mr. Mundis:
13 Q. Good afternoon, Brigadier Biskic?
14 A. Good afternoon.
15 Q. Sir, I'd like to start by asking you some questions about your
16 military career and background. Can you please tell the Chamber when you
17 first joined any military force?
18 A. I joined in 1988 -- or, rather, from 1978 I was a member of the
19 former JNA.
20 Q. And can you tell us, sir, in 1978 when you joined the JNA what --
21 in what capacity were you serving commencing in 1978?
22 A. In 1978 I was -- I attended the first year of the military academy
23 in Belgrade for the land forces.
24 Q. And, sir, did you in fact complete the military academy in
25 Belgrade and, if so, in what year?
1 A. Yes, I did complete the academy in 1982 in Belgrade. That's when
2 I graduated.
3 Q. And in 1982, upon completing the academy in Belgrade, sir, were
4 you commissioned in the JNA?
5 A. Yes, I was. I was given the title of lieutenant, the rank of
7 Q. And upon graduation from the military academy in Belgrade, did you
8 undertake any additional military training or undertake any specialised
9 military training?
10 A. After I graduated I joined the 52nd Corps of the former Yugoslavia
11 in Pristina, and I was platoon commander of the military police.
12 Q. Sir, how long did you remain with the 52nd Corps of the JNA in
14 A. I was there from 1982 until 1989.
15 Q. And other than being a platoon commander of the military police,
16 what other assignments did you hold in that period from 1982 through
18 A. I was company commander and finally, in 1987, battalion commander
19 of the military police.
20 Q. So during that entire period from 1982 through 1989 you were
21 assigned military police duties; is that correct?
22 A. Yes, Mr. Prosecutor.
23 Q. And, sir, after 1989, can you tell us what your next military
24 assignment was with the JNA?
25 A. In February 1989, I moved to the military technical school in
1 Zagreb, and I was an assistant teacher in war skills.
2 Q. And for how long did you remain in this position at the military
3 technical school in Zagreb?
4 A. Until October 1991.
5 Q. And, sir, what happened in October 1991 in terms of your
6 professional career?
7 A. Before October 1991, I had contacts with the democratically
8 elected government of the Republic of Croatia, and since the aggression
9 against my country had started, I cooperated with that government. And in
10 October 1991, I left the centre of the technical school and joined the
11 armed forces of the Republic of Croatia.
12 Q. Now, Brigadier Biskic, let me ask you this. There was reference
13 on page 10, line 9 and 10, where you indicated "the aggression against my
14 country had started." Which country are you referring to when you say "my
16 A. The Republic of Croatia, because I was living in Croatia at that
18 Q. Sir, were you born in the Republic of Croatia?
19 A. I was born in Derventa, Bosnia-Herzegovina.
20 Q. Can you explain how in October 1991 you came to consider Croatia
21 to be -- or the Republic of Croatia to be your country?
22 A. Because I am a Croat and my family lived in Croatia, my wife and
23 my child.
24 Q. Now, sir, can you tell us, upon joining the army of the Republic
25 of Croatia in October 1991, what were your duties?
1 A. I was in the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Croatia, and I
2 worked to prepare the organisation and establishment of the military
3 police, and at the beginning of December, after the military police was
4 established and the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Croatia, I was
5 appointed chief of the department of the general military police and the
6 traffic police.
7 Q. And how can did you remain as the chief of the department of the
8 general military police and the traffic police?
9 A. Until June 1993.
10 Q. Did there come a time, sir, when you in your official capacities
11 within the army of the Republic of Croatia received any requests for
12 assistance from the HVO in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
13 A. As I was born on the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina, I had
14 contacts with the -- my family living in Posavina -- or, rather, Derventa,
15 my extended family, and I learnt about the situation through them, through
16 my contacts with them.
17 Q. And when you say you learned about the situation, can you give us
18 an approximate time period that you're referring to?
19 A. I'm referring to April 1992.
20 Q. And when you say "the situation," can you be more specific or
21 elaborate on what the situation was in April 1992?
22 A. Well, in 1992 is when the aggression of the former army started,
23 and the members of, if I can put it this way, part of the Serbian people
24 in territories inhabited by Croats and Muslims.
25 Q. Brigadier Biskic, do you recall approximately when you first heard
1 of the HVO as an organised force?
2 A. I think that was sometime in April 1992.
3 Q. And did you receive, sir, any requests for assistance from the HVO
4 in your official capacity with the army of the Republic of Croatia?
5 A. No, not at that time.
6 Q. Did you at any point after April 1992 receive such requests?
7 A. Well, already in May 1992 I already maintained certain contacts
8 with members of the Croatian Defence Council from the Posavina area, and
9 through the 72nd Battalion of the military police operational in Split we
10 learnt that the military police of the Croatian Defence Council was under
12 Q. And upon learning that the military police of the HVO was under
13 establishment, what steps, if any, did the military police of the republic
14 of the army of Croatia undertake?
15 A. Well, after I learnt about that, I don't know in what way, but we
16 came into contact with the chief of the department of the military police
17 of the Croatian Defence Council, and that was Mr. Valentin Coric, and I
18 think that was the second half of May.
19 Q. And when you say, sir, that you came into contact with Mr. Coric,
20 can you be more specific?
21 A. Well, I can't remember exactly when we met or whether we talked
22 over the phone, but he had contacts with my chief of department,
23 Mr. Lausic.
24 Q. Were you privy, sir, or did you at any point in time learn what
25 were the subject of these contacts or discussions between Mr. Lausic and
1 Mr. Coric?
2 A. I think that we took part in these talks together later on when we
3 met, and mostly it related to the -- to assistance in the establishment of
4 the military police of the Croatian Defence Council and conveying our
5 experience in the establishment of the armed forces of the Republic of
6 Croatia and so on.
7 Q. Can you give us some examples, sir, of the type of assistance
8 that was provided from the Republic of Croatia army to the HVO military
10 A. Well, I think that it was at the beginning of June that we found
11 ourselves on the territory of Herzegovina. I think we met in Grude with
12 the chief of the department of the military police of the Croatian Defence
13 Council, Mr. Valentin Coric. I think that's where we met.
14 Q. And do you recall any specific types of assistance that was
16 A. Well, we discussed the establishment of the military police, and
17 we gave certain instructions for how the military police was to work, of
18 course, those aspects that did not -- were not marked secret, and I think
19 at that first stage part of the military -- we gave them some military
20 police equipment such as truncheons and white belts and some other
21 equipment and clothing and other logistics -- logistical equipment.
22 Q. Do you recall, sir, what other type of logistical equipment might
23 have been supplied during this time period in 1992?
24 A. I believe that those were supplies, torches, sleeping bags, and
25 similar military police equipment. I don't think that we provided member
1 with any weapons at the time. Not we as the administration of the
2 military police of the Ministry of the Interior [as interpreted] of the
3 Republic of Croatia.
4 Q. Sir, other than this meeting that you believe occurred in Grude,
5 did you have any other meetings that included Mr. Coric in 1992?
6 A. Yes. We were together in Posavina.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Just a moment, sir. Maybe this
8 is a mistake in the transcript, in the translation of your words. In
9 line -- on page 14, line 3, you're talking about the -- the administration
10 of the military police of the Ministry of the Interior. The military
11 police in Croatia, was it under the Ministry of the Interior or the
12 Ministry of Defence?
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I did not say the administration of
14 the military police was with the Ministry of the Interior but, rather,
15 that it was with the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Croatia. The
16 military police was not under the Ministry of the Interior but under the
17 Ministry of Defence.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. I just wanted to
19 clarify this. Page 14, line 3, it should say "Ministry of Defence."
20 Mr. Mundis, you may proceed.
21 MR. MUNDIS: Thank you, Mr. President.
22 Q. This meeting, sir, that occurred in Posavina, do you recall
23 approximately when that meeting was and who attended?
24 A. I believe that this was sometime in June 1992. I don't remember
25 the exact date. Those who were commanders of military police platoons in
1 Posavina attended. I believe that the commander of the operations group
2 of eastern Posavina, Mr. Stefanek was there as well, Mr. Valentin Coric,
3 myself, and I can't recall who else was there.
4 Q. Do you recall, Brigadier Biskic, approximately -- for
5 approximately how long this assistance from the Republic of Croatia army
6 military police to the HVO military police lasted?
7 A. The military police of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of
8 Croatia in the course of the entire period in one way or another assisted
9 the military police of the HVO in the organisation of their work by
10 conveying their experiences and by providing them with military police
11 equipment. And sometime as of 1993 onwards, we also educated military
12 policemen or helped with the education of military policemen.
13 Q. Let me, sir, ask you two follow-on questions. You just told us on
14 the -- line 9 of page 15, "in the course of the entire period." Can you
15 please tell us what you meant by "the course of the entire period"?
16 A. I'm referring to the period of the Homeland War, which took place
17 between 1992 and 1995 and even after that.
18 Q. You told us, sir, also, on page 15 at lines 12 and 13, "We also
19 educated military policemen or helped with the education of military
20 policemen," and I'm wondering if you can give us some examples of what you
21 mean by education or educating military policemen.
22 A. When I said that we educated military policemen, I meant the
23 courses that we organised for traffic policemen, general policemen, also
24 assistance with the training of crime police officers, because in the
25 armed forces I -- in the military police of the Republic of Croatia we had
1 an education centre where we trained all military policemen starting with
2 foot soldiers to non-commissioned officers as well as commissioned
3 officers affiliated with the military police.
4 MR. MUNDIS: I would ask if the usher could please provide the
5 bundle of documents that has been prepared for use with this witness. I
6 would be grateful.
7 Q. Sir, you if could please turn to the first document in that
8 bundle, which is P 05001, and I would ask you, sir, if you've ever seen
9 this document before.
10 A. Yes. I've seen this document.
11 Q. Can you tell us what this document refers to, please?
12 A. This is a request by the military police of the Croatian Defence
13 Council to provide education for police officers on motorcycles and
14 follows a list of 10 members of the Croatian Defence Council who are
15 being sent for a training course in the education centre of the military
17 Q. And when you say, Brigadier Biskic, the training centre or the
18 education centre of the military police, where was this education centre
19 that you've referred to? Where was this located?
20 A. The training centre of the military police of the armed forces of
21 the Republic of Croatia was in Zagreb.
22 Q. Excuse me. Now, I'd like to turn with you to different topic,
23 sir, and that is a meeting that you had in November, 1993, with General
24 Bobetko. Do you remember that meeting?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Do you remember the specific date of that meeting?
2 A. The 6th of November, 1993.
3 Q. And at that point in time, Brigadier Biskic, 6 November 1993, what
4 position did you hold in the army of the Republic of Croatia?
5 A. I was the deputy chief of administration of the military police of
6 the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Croatia.
7 Q. And on 6 November 1993, sir, what position did General Bobetko
9 A. General Bobetko was the chief of the Main Staff of the armed
10 forces of the Republic of Croatia.
11 Q. Can you tell us, sir, approximately what time on 6 November 1993
12 this meeting took place and where?
13 A. I believe that the meeting took place in the evening in the
14 meeting room of the Main Staff.
15 Q. This was in Zagreb?
16 A. In Zagreb.
17 Q. Other than yourself, sir, and General Bobetko, who was in
18 attendance at this meeting on 6 November 1993?
19 A. General Bobetko's assistants General Agotic; General Lucic;
20 General Roso; Brigadier Crnjac; Brigadier Vrbanac; Major Butorac;
21 Major Ljubo Cesic, Rojs; and I can't recall any of the others.
22 Q. Sir, you've just provided a few names and ranks of individuals.
23 Can you tell us in which armed force or armed forces the persons you've
24 just mentioned were serving?
25 A. The armed forces of the Republic of Croatia, i.e., the Croatian
1 forces. And there was also General Tole from the Croatian Defence
3 Q. Can you recall, Brigadier Biskic, what General Bobetko told this
4 group of officers that included yourself on 6 November 1993?
5 A. General Bobetko informed us about the very complex situation in
6 the territories under the control of the Croatian Defence Council,
7 especially in Bosnia in Croatian enclaves - those were -- those were the
8 zones of responsibility of the HVO there - and he said that they decided
9 to accepted us to assist the Croatian Defence Council with a view to
10 carrying out an operation of joining up the HVO forces on the
11 Uskoplje-Vitez axis.
12 Q. Do you recall any of the specifics about the very complex
13 situation that you referred to?
14 A. General Tole provided an overview of the situation, spoke about
15 the offences carried out by the Muslim forces in the territory of Central
16 Bosnia. He spoke about the lack of ammunition and food in the area of
17 Central Bosnia, and in general terms he spoke about the problems in the
18 system of the control and command in the Croatian Defence Council.
19 Q. Do you know Brigadier Biskic, at this point in time, that is 6
20 November 1993, what position General Tole had in the Croatian Defence
22 A. I'm not sure, but I believe that he was the Chief of Staff in the
23 Main Staff of the Croatian Defence Council.
24 Q. Do you recall, sir, anything else General Bobetko told you at this
25 meeting on 6 November 1993?
1 A. Mostly we spoke about the situation and the need to help the
2 Croatian Defence Council both by sharing our experience that we gained in
3 the Croatian army, and, judging by who attended the meeting, we were of
4 different specialties and we belonged to different branches of the armed
6 Q. Now, sir, you told us a few moments ago as reflected on page 18,
7 lines 17 and 18, that General Tole mentioned problems in the system of
8 command and control in the Croatian Defence Council, and I'm wondering if
9 you can elaborate upon that or perhaps be more specific about what you
10 recall being said in this respect.
11 A. He didn't say anything specific. He did not illustrate anything.
12 He spoke in general terms about problems and the situation in the HVO, and
13 also that they would need assistance from a certain number of the officers
14 of the Croatian army who were born on the territory of Bosnia and
16 Q. And, sir, when you say they would need assistance from a certain
17 number of officers of the Croatian army, did that include the group of
18 officers that was present in General Bobetko's office on that evening, 6
19 November 1993?
20 A. Yes. This is specifically who I mean.
21 Q. Other than yourself, sir, were there any of the other individuals
22 who were present at this meeting who had a background in military police
23 or military police administration?
24 A. I was the only one with MP experience at that meeting, and I
25 believe that General Tole in the former military also was a member of the
1 military police for a while.
2 Q. Do you recall, sir, what rank you held in the Republic of Croatia
3 army on 6 November 1993?
4 A. At the moment I was a colonel, and I was to be promoted into the
5 rank of brigadier. The proposal was put forward in August 1993.
6 Q. Following this meeting on 6 November 1993 that you've told us
7 about, where did you go?
8 A. I returned home.
9 Q. And did you in fact after this meeting travel to Bosnia and
11 A. Yes. I went to Bosnia and Herzegovina on the 8th of November. I
12 arrived in Posusje sometime in the afternoon of that day.
13 Q. On the 8th of November, I -- let me ask you this, sir: This is 8
14 November 1993; is that correct?
15 A. Correct. The 8th of November, 1993. In the afternoon I arrived
16 in Posusje.
17 Q. And on that day, sir, did you travel by yourself or with anyone
19 A. A number of officers together with General Roso flew there. We
20 took regular Croatia airlines slight to Split, and from Split we were
21 given there by cars.
22 Q. And when you say, Brigadier Biskic, a number of officers together
23 with General Roso, do you recall who those officers were that travelled
24 with you on 8 November 1993 on the flight to Split?
25 A. General Roso, Colonel Dumancic, Major Butorac, Major Ljubo Cesic,
1 Rojs, Brigadier Vrbanac, Brigadier Crnjac. I believe that's it.
2 Q. And again, sir, in which armed force or armed forces were these
3 officers serving on 8 November 1993?
4 A. They were members of the armed forces of the Republic of Croatia,
5 and I believe that they were all born in the territory of Bosnia and
6 Herzegovina. However, you have to understand that up to 1991 we all lived
7 in one state, and that when the aggression started against the Republic of
8 Croatia, Croats from Bosnia-Herzegovina participated in the Republic of
9 Croatia as volunteers. When the aggression started against their own
10 homes, some of them had already returned to the territory of Bosnia and
11 Herzegovina, even before that. So that then and now I believe that it was
12 only normal for us to go and help the Croatian Defence Council.
13 Q. Brigadier Biskic, among the group of officers from the armed
14 forces of the Republic of Croatia that travelled with you on 8 November
15 1993, was one of those persons in charge or in command?
16 A. General Roso.
17 Q. And again, sir, so that we're very clear, what position did
18 General Roso hold on the 8th of November, 1993?
19 A. When we arrived in the territory of the Croatian Defence Council
20 in Posusje, he said that he was appointed the chief of the General Staff
21 of the Croatian Defence Council.
22 Q. We'll get to that in just a moment, sir. Let me try this: On the
23 7th of November, 1993, what position did General Roso hold?
24 A. I can't remember what position he held in the armed forces of the
25 Republic of Croatia, but I believe that he was the assistant for special
1 units of the Main Staff. However, I can't be sure of that. Since I did
2 not work in the Main Staff but, rather, in the Ministry of Defence, and I
3 really testimony not know the exact position that General Roso held at the
4 time, and I still don't know it to this very day.
5 Q. Can you tell us, Brigadier Biskic, about the structure of the HVO
6 at the time you arrived in Bosnia-Herzegovina on 8 November 1993?
7 A. Mr. Prosecutor, could you please be more specific? When you say
8 "structure," what do you mean?
9 Q. Let's start with, to the extent you know, can you tell us about
10 the military side of the HVO, the armed forces of the Croatian Defence
11 Council as it was structured at the time of your arrival in Bosnia and
12 Herzegovina on 8 November 1993?
13 A. As far as I can remember, I believe that at the time there still
14 existed a defence department which was being transformed into the system
15 of the Ministry of Defence, i.e., it was being organised to become the
16 Ministry of Defence. There was also the Main Staff of the Croatian
17 Defence Council. There were organisational units such as territories.
18 There were also brigades of the Croatian Defence Council, and there were
19 some operations group in the territory of Glava which were isolated.
20 There were also units of the military police of the Croatian Defence
21 Council. That would be just the basic outline of the structure that
22 existed at the time.
23 Q. Now, let's -- let me ask you some follow-up questions from what
24 you've just told us. This defence department that was in the process of
25 being transformed into a ministry of defence, testimony your arrival, sir,
1 who was in charge of that department or ministry?
2 A. I said that it was undergoing transformation. When I arrived down
3 there, there already existed the Ministry of Defence, and that was
4 Mr. Perica Jukic, and from that I inferred that the reorganisation of the
5 department of defence was underway.
6 Q. Brigadier Biskic, do you know who Bruno Stojic is?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. What position, if any, did he hold within the HVO government at
9 the time of your arrival in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 8 November 1993?
10 A. I don't know whether Mr. Bruno Stojic held a position at the time.
11 Before that he was the head of the defence department. Perica Jukic took
12 over from him. And at the moment I arrived, I don't think he played any
13 role, that he held any position.
14 Q. Now, you also mentioned a few moments ago the Main Staff of the
15 Croatian Defence Council. On 8 November 1993, at the time of your arrival
16 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, who was commanding the Main Staff of the HVO?
17 A. I believe that General Slobodan Praljak was the head of the Main
18 Staff. I don't know whether he was the chief of that body or the
19 commander. I really wouldn't know.
20 Q. And you've also told us, sir, that there were units of the
21 military police of the Croatian Defence Council. Do you know who was
22 responsible or in charge or in command of the military police units of the
24 A. The military police of the Croatian Defence Council, the military
25 police administration was at the head of it, and that was within the
1 defence department. And there was the chief at the head of the
2 administration, and that head was Mr. Valentin Coric.
3 Q. Sir, I neglected to ask you when we were talking about the Main
4 Staff, do you know who was General Slobodan Praljak's deputy within the
5 Main Staff of the HVO on 8 November 1993?
6 A. I think it was General Milivoj Petkovic as the deputy,
7 General Praljak.
8 Q. Do you know or did you have reason to learn about the structure on
9 the government side of the HVO, that is, the non-military leadership
10 within the government of the HVO on or about 8 November 1993 when you
11 arrived in Bosnia-Herzegovina?
12 A. Well, I can't say. I can't tell you about that because I didn't
13 know about it.
14 Q. So you don't know, sir, who was responsible in terms of the HVO
15 government, who the leaders were, the president or Prime Minister?
16 A. I didn't say I didn't know who the Prime Minister was. I said I
17 didn't know what the organisational establishment was like of the overall
18 Croatian Defence Council. Of course, the Prime Minister was Mr. Prlic at
19 the time, and the president of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna was
20 Mr. Mate Boban.
21 Q. Now, Brigadier Biskic, you've mentioned to us about the
22 reorganisation within the defence department. Can you please turn to what
23 should be the next document in the bundle, 7236. That is P 07236.
24 Have you seen this document before, sir?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Can you tell us -- can you tell us what this document is,
3 A. That is decision on the foundation of the establishment of the
4 Ministry of Defence for Herceg-Bosna.
5 Q. And what, sir, if you can succinctly tell us, what is the purpose
6 of this document? What does this document do?
7 MR. MURPHY: Your Honour, could we please have some kind of
8 foundation that the witness is competent to answer that question? It just
9 seems that he's being asked to speculate without any foundation as to how
10 he would know this.
11 MR. MUNDIS:
12 Q. Brigadier Biskic, do you recall when the first time you saw this
13 document was?
14 A. I saw it in December 1993.
15 Q. And do you recall the circumstances under which you came to see
16 this document?
17 A. At the time I was appointed by the Prime Minister, Mr. Prlic, as
18 assistant minister for security.
19 Q. Can you tell us within what ministry you were appointed as
20 assistant minister for security?
21 A. Assistant minister for security in the defence ministry of the
22 Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna.
23 Q. And sir, this position that you were appointed to by Dr. Prlic in
24 November -- or, sorry, December 1993, is the position that you held
25 referred to in this document?
1 A. Yes, it is mentioned, because this is the decision on the
2 foundation of the organisation of the Ministry of Defence, which
3 prescribes how the Ministry of Defence of the Croatian Republic of
4 Herceg-Bosna is to be organised.
5 Q. I'd ask you, sir, if you could briefly or quickly look through
6 this document and indicate which article or provision of this document
7 refers to the position to which you were appointed.
8 A. Article 4, the ministry decision mentions the assistant minister
9 for security. Article 4.
10 Q. We'll return to December and your appointment a little bit later
11 this afternoon. Let me now turn, sir, to -- back to 8 November 1993.
12 You told us that you arrived in Posusje. Can you tell us what was
13 located in that town on 8 November 1993?
14 A. In that town from that time the Main Staff of the Croatian Defence
15 Council was supposed to be displaced from Citluk to Posusje.
16 Q. And in fact was the Main Staff of the HVO in Posusje at that time
17 when you arrived?
18 A. I don't think so. I think it was still in Citluk.
19 Q. And when you arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 8 November 1993,
20 were you assigned to any specific duties?
21 A. General Roso gave me an assignment by which I was his security
22 assistant and assistant for the military police. He conveyed this to me
24 Q. Now, Brigadier Biskic, at the time General Roso conveyed this oral
25 order to you, what position was he holding on 8 November 1993?
1 A. I've already said that at the time he said he was chief of the
2 Main Staff of the Croatian Defence Council.
3 Q. And at that point in time, what position did General Praljak
5 A. I think at the time General Praljak was relieved of his duties,
6 but I didn't actually see the papers stating that.
7 Q. Did there ever come a time, sir, when you were shown papers to
8 that effect, or you saw official documents to that effect?
9 A. You mean on the relieving of duty of General Praljak?
10 Q. Yes, sir.
11 A. No.
12 Q. At the time General Roso became the commander of the HVO Main
13 Staff, did he have a deputy?
14 A. Well, later on I became aware of the fact that General Milivoj
15 Petkovic, as deputy head of the Main Staff of the Croatian Defence
17 Q. And what about General Tole? What position did he hold, if you
18 know, on or about the 8th of November, 1993, after this turnover of
20 A. I did not know what post he occupied, but I think he was head of
21 the staff. Not head of staff in -- in the sense that General Roso was
22 later on.
23 Q. Can you explain that answer, sir? When you say, "not the head of
24 the staff in the sense that General Roso was later on," can you explain
25 what you mean by that answer, please?
1 A. Well, I think that before that it was the commander of the
2 Croatian Defence Council, a post that was performed by Mr. Praljak, the
3 deputy was General Petkovic, and the Chief of Staff was General Tole. I
4 didn't see those documents, but that's what rumour had it.
5 Later on, with the arrival of General Roso, you had the Main Staff
6 and the chief of the Main Staff had his deputy, and within the staff you
7 had the various departments, administrations.
8 Q. Can you tell us, sir, on 8 November 1993 when you arrived in
9 Bosnia-Herzegovina, what type of uniform were you wearing?
10 A. Camouflage uniform.
11 Q. And what type of insignia did you have on your uniform?
12 A. At the time I had the Croatian Defence Council insignia.
13 Q. Prior to that day, sir, prior to the 8th of November, 1993, what
14 insignia did you wear on your uniform?
15 A. Before that I was in the armed forces of the Republic of Croatia,
16 and I had the Croatian army insignia and the military police insignia of
17 the Croatian army.
18 Q. Brigadier Biskic, can you tell us how you changed the insignia on
19 your uniform at the time you went to Bosnia and Herzegovina?
20 A. Well, quite simply. The Croatian army had just a patch, a velcro
21 patch, so I took the velcro patch off and put on the HVO velcro patch.
22 Q. Do you recall, sir, what insignia the other officers from the army
23 of the Republic of Croatia were wearing at the time of their arrival with
24 you in Bosnia and Herzegovina? I'm talking about the group that travelled
25 with you; what insignia did they have on their uniforms?
1 A. Some had uniforms, others wore civilian clothing, but by the time
2 we were down there everybody was wearing uniforms with the Croatian
3 Defence Council insignia and patches.
4 Q. Now, Brigadier Biskic, can you tell us, after your arrival on 8
5 November 1993, how long did you remain on the territory of
7 A. I remained until the 6th of May, 1994. At the time, there was a
8 two-month interruption from the 28th of January until the 25th of March,
9 because my wife was ill. So I went back to Zagreb and was on leave during
10 that time.
11 Q. Now, during that time period, sir, from 25 January until 25 March
12 1994, did you at any point in time in that approximately two month period
13 return to Bosnia and Herzegovina and, if so, when?
14 A. From the 23rd to the 25th of February I was there because in those
15 days the Defence Minister changed, and instead of Mr. Perica Jukic the
16 Defence minister became Mr. Vladimir Soljic.
17 Q. Now, sir, for the rest of the direct examination when I'm
18 referring to the period you were in Bosnia and Herzegovina, I'm referring
19 to the period from 8 November 1993 until 6th of May, 1994. Do you
20 understand that?
21 A. Yes, I do understand.
22 Q. And by no means am I trying to trick you. We all understand from
23 the 25th of January until the 25th of March, 1994 -- or the 28th of
24 January until the 25th of March, 1994, you were not in Bosnia-Herzegovina
25 with the exception of the 23rd to 25th of February. Do you understand
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Now, Brigadier Biskic, during the time period that you were in
4 Bosnia and Herzegovina, where were you drawing your salary from?
5 A. First of all, if you refer to me as brigadier, could you refer to
6 me as brigadier -- retired brigadier, because it's not the same thing. If
7 you say "Brigadier Biskic," that's one thing, and if you say "retired
8 brigadier," that's another. So could you do that, please?
9 And I received my salary in Croatia.
10 Q. And which -- which government was paying your salary?
11 A. The government of the Republic of Croatia.
12 Q. Now, sir, when did you ultimately leave the armed forces of the
13 Republic of Croatia?
14 A. On the 31st of December, 2005.
15 Q. And at any point in time, sir, from October 1991 through the end
16 of December 2005, did you resign or otherwise give up your commission in
17 the army of Republic of Croatia?
18 A. No. My involvement within the territory of the Croatian Defence
19 Council was in the form of assistance of the Republic of Croatia to the
20 Croatian people on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. And if you're
21 giving assistance to somebody, if you're helping somebody, then I
22 considered it normal that that assistance should not be paid for or,
23 rather, that I should not receive a salary down there for providing that
24 assistance. And my family lived in Zagreb, so it was logical that I
25 received my salary in Croatia.
1 The Republic of Croatia in its constitution tied up this question
2 of assistance to -- regulated the matter of assistance to Croatians on the
3 territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina. That is regulated under the
5 Q. Did you, sir, at any point in time while you were in the territory
6 of Bosnia and Herzegovina receive any form of payment from Bosnia and
8 A. No.
9 MR. MUNDIS: Mr. President, I note the time. I'm about to move
10 into a different subject. I'm wondering if this might be an appropriate
11 time for the first break.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Quite. We're going to take a
13 20-minute break and reconvene in 20 minutes' time.
14 --- Recess taken at 3.32 p.m.
15 --- On resuming at 3.52 p.m.
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The hearing is resumed. Mr.
18 MR. MUNDIS: Thank you, Mr. President.
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] A question, or, rather, an answer
20 before the next question from the Prosecutor, if I may be allowed.
21 You said that I was here as a Prosecution witness. I am here
22 pursuant to a court order, and I'm testifying about the period of time
23 that I worked in. I had no preparations either today or yesterday because
24 I just arrived yesterday at around 1300 hours.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes. When I said that you were
1 a Prosecution witness, it was because we are in a proceedings by which the
2 Prosecutor calls witnesses and so does the Defence. The Defence calls
3 witnesses, too. Now, since you have taken the solemn declaration, you are
4 a witness of the court and justice.
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
6 MR. MUNDIS: Thank you, Mr. President.
7 Q. Now, sir, let me ask you this: When you first arrived in Bosnia
8 and Herzegovina on the 8th of November, 1993, and for the rest of the
9 month of November 1993, what were your duties and responsibilities?
10 A. My duties and responsibilities upon my arrival on the territory of
11 the Croatian Defence Council or the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna
12 were, in the first stage, geared towards the preparation and organisation
13 of the military police and the security and information service,
14 intelligence service, in Uskoplje and Central Bosnia, that general area.
15 Later on in the course of November, since the Ministry of Defence was
16 being organised and established, at the meetings that were held at the
17 level of the Ministry of Defence and the Main Staff, it was decided that I
18 should be the person to coordinate the work of SIS and the military police
19 administration, which were -- already at that time was the Ministry of
20 Defence of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna, and that in the course
21 of November a decision would be made as to my concrete post within the
22 Ministry of Defence of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna.
23 Q. Mr. Biskic, when you told us that you were involved in the
24 preparation and organisation of the military police and security and
25 information service, what exactly were you doing?
1 A. From the very beginning I said that I coordinated the work of the
2 military police and the security and information or intelligence services
3 in preparation of operations, and later on during November, through my
4 work and through receiving reports from the head of SIS, Mr. Ivica Lucic,
5 who was the acting chief of the military police department, Mr. Radoslav
6 Lavric, I appraised the situation in the military police and in SIS and
7 prepared, to the with my staff, the new establishment of the military
8 police of the Croatian Defence Council and the security and information
10 Q. Mr. Biskic, based on this appraisal of the situation in the
11 military police and in the SIS, can you tell the Trial Chamber about the
12 situation that you found with respect to the military police and the SIS
13 in terms of how they were functioning and how they were operating?
14 A. When I arrived, the administration of the military police of the
15 Croatian Defence Council was working within the composition of the defence
16 department as it had been up till then, and it comprised of several
17 departments or sections, and the military police battalions were
18 operational at the level of the then military districts. The battalion of
19 the military police for south-east Herzegovina, Central Bosnia, Posavina,
20 and north-east. And attached to each of these military districts there
21 was a Light Assault Battalion and the military police platoons working
22 under the Croatian Defence Council.
23 Q. Sir, what was the relationship between the military police and the
24 Light Assault Battalion that you just mentioned?
25 A. The Light Assault Battalions of the military police were a
1 component part of the military police in the Croatian Defence Council,
2 but they were focused on involvement and assignments within combat
4 Q. Can you tell the Trial Chamber about the quality of the command
5 and control structures within the military police administration of the
6 HVO at the time you arrived on 8 November 1993?
7 A. According to the reports and in talking to the heads of the
8 department of the military police or, rather, the acting head, Mr. Lavric,
9 and meetings that we had in the Main Staff and the defence ministry, it
10 was said that there were problems in the system of control and command
11 because the military police units were involved up at the front line
12 mostly and were not able to be engaged in executing their regular tasks
13 or, rather, the regular military police assignments.
14 Furthermore, it was also noted that there were problems with
15 respect to command over the platoons of the military police within the
16 brigades. Although they were supposed to be within the chain of command
17 of the military police, this very often was not the case in practice. And
18 it was also noted that there were problems in cooperation between the
19 civilian police on the military police. Then there was not a high level
20 of cooperation between the SIS and the military police.
21 Q. Mr. Biskic, how did these problems that you've identified impact
22 upon the military police of the HVO in terms of carrying out its mission
23 or functions?
24 A. It's very difficult to answer this question. I said that there
25 were some problems and weaknesses in the work because the military police
1 for the most part was on the front line and to a lesser extent they were
2 performing regular police duties. They were also engaged in the control
3 of entry at the border crossings between Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina,
4 as well as on other duties that were supposed to pertain within the
5 purview of the civilian police.
6 Q. Were the military police units of the HVO functional or
7 dysfunctional in November 1993?
8 A. To a certain extent, yes, and to another extent no.
9 Q. Can you explain, please, what you mean by that?
10 A. This means that if most of the military police are engaged on the
11 front line, then they don't perform well in their normal policing work
12 such as the control of security in the territory under the control of the
13 HVO, prevention of crime, and other such things that they would normally
15 Q. Can you tell the Trial Chamber, sir, what happened with respect to
16 the position that you held on the 1st of December, 1993?
17 A. I don't understand your question, sir.
18 Q. Did you -- did you, sir, assume a new position on 1 December 1993,
19 and, if so, what position did you assume?
20 A. Yes, on the 1st of December, 1993, the president of the
21 government, Mr. Jadranko Prlic, appointed me as assistant minister for
22 security in the Ministry of Defence of the Croatian Republic of
24 Q. Sir, can you please turn to the document tabbed 6994 in the bundle
25 in front of you. 6994. That's P 06994.
1 Sir, have you seen this document before and, if so, can you tell
2 us what it is?
3 A. Yes. I saw this document until December 1993.
4 Q. And what is -- what is this document?
5 A. This is a decision by which I was appointed the assistant minister
6 of defence for security, and this is signed by the president by the HR HB
7 government, Dr. Jadranko Prlic.
8 Q. Could you please turn, sir, to the next document in your bundle, P
9 06998, 6998. Mr. Biskic, have you seen this document before?
10 A. I saw it when I spoke to you and before that in December 1993. I
11 didn't see it when I stayed in the territory of the Croatian Republic of
12 Herceg-Bosna because I did not read the Official Gazette at the time.
13 Q. Can you just tell us, however, what this Article 1 -- or the first
14 decision on this page relates to?
15 A. This refers to my appointment as the assistant minister of defence
16 for security issues in the Ministry of Defence of the Croatian Republic of
18 Q. Now, Mr. Biskic, can you please tell us about the functions that
19 you performed as the assistant minister for security within the Ministry
20 of Defence of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna?
21 A. As the assistant minister for security, I was superior to the
22 chief of the traffic police and the chief of information police that were
23 part of the security sector of the Ministry of Defence of the Croatian
24 Republic of Herceg-Bosna.
25 Q. And what types of duties did you undertake in this role?
1 A. This means that I was in a way responsible and superior to the
2 chiefs of various administrations for all military police tasks and the
3 tasks of information services and their purview of work --
4 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I believe
5 that we have an error in transcript. In line 22, page 36, the traffic
6 police was mentioned and this was omitted from the translation. Maybe my
7 learned friend Mr. Mundis should check whether this is true.
8 MR. MUNDIS: Perhaps there is some confusion.
9 Q. Sir, as the assistant minister for security, were you superior to
10 the chief of the traffic police?
11 A. No, no traffic police. When I said the administration of the
12 military police, I said that there was a department of traffic police.
13 The traffic police of the Croatian Defence Council consisted of general
14 police, traffic police, crime prevention police. Those were the three
15 speciality within the military police.
16 Q. Can you describe for us who reported to you in your capacity as
17 the assistant minister for security within the Croatian Republic of
18 Herceg-Bosna? What were the functional titles of the persons and the
19 names of the persons holding those positions?
20 A. People who reported to me were the chiefs of administration of
21 military police and the administration for security and information. From
22 the 11th of November, 1993, up to the beginning of January 1994, there was
23 no chief of the military police. There was just an acting chief, and that
24 was Mr. Radoslav Lavric. And the chief of the administration for security
25 information was Mr. Ivica Lucic.
1 Q. And just so the record is clear, sir, whom did Mr. Radoslav Lavric
2 replace as the chief of the military police administration on 11 November
4 A. Up to then, and I don't know whether this was on the 11th of
5 November or the 10th of November, Mr. Valentin Coric was appointed the
6 minister of the interior of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna. His
7 deputy up to then was Mr. Radoslav Lavric, and during the course of
8 November he performed the duty as the deputy and then he was appointed the
9 acting chief of the MP administration of the Ministry of Defence of the
10 Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna.
11 Q. Let me just ask you one other series of questions before we talk a
12 little bit more about your duties in December 1993, and that has to do
13 with how well the officers from the army of Republic of Croatia were
14 received by members of the HVO armed forces. Can you comment on that, the
15 situation that you faced?
16 A. When we arrived, we were given our working space. As far as I'm
17 personally concerned, I did not have any problems at the beginning or
18 later when working with the officers of the HVO with whom I had to work
19 and with whom I met there upon my arrival.
20 Q. Let's turn then, sir, to December 1993 and the period onward after
21 you had assumed the position of assistant minister for security. What
22 were the primary accomplishments that were made during the time period
23 that you were the assistant minister of security?
24 A. Are you referring to the entire period, Mr. Prosecutor, or are you
25 referring just to the November/December period.
1 Q. Well, let's start with the November/December period as a starting
2 point. What were the main accomplishments that you made in November,
3 December 1993?
4 A. During the month of November 1993, during the period when I was
5 not appointed the assistant minister, I looked at the situation in the
6 military police, in the Security Information Service. I informed myself
7 about the scope of work and authorities and competencies, and then I was
8 informed about collection centres and centres for prisoner of war. And
9 together with others, I participated in the work of the Main Staff and
10 Ministry of Defence in the preparation for passing documentation and in
11 the preparations for the reorganisation of the Croatian Defence Council
12 that was to follow later on. At first I participated in the preparation
13 for the operation in the territory of Uskoplje. I determined the role of
14 the military police and the -- and security services in that operation.
15 We passed rules of engagement during that operation for both these
16 services, and I prepared the new organisation of the security information
17 services and the military police that came into effect in December when
18 people were selected and when there were shakeups to a greater extent in
19 the military police and to a lesser extent in the information service.
20 In the course of November I learned about problems in collection
21 centres and the place where prisoners of war were accommodated in
22 Heliodrom. I proposed certain measures to the chief of the Main Staff and
23 the Ministry of Defence in order to improve the conditions of
24 accommodation, the life and work of the detainees.
25 Q. Mr. Biskic, we'll take a number of the things you've just
1 mentioned in turn, but let me ask you this: Upon your arrival in Bosnia
2 and Herzegovina in November 1993, what kind of reporting system was in
3 place with respect to the activities of the military police within the
5 A. Since I arrived to take a duty that was not occupied by anybody
6 before that, I did not receive any documentation. I did not take over any
7 documentation for anybody. I did not carry out a detailed analysis of the
8 system of reporting either in the military police or from the military
9 police to other participants in the system of reporting, and I never
10 analysed the system of reporting from the -- in the security services or
11 from the security services to the officials of the Croatian Republic of
12 Herceg-Bosna. I asked for an overview of the situation both in the
13 military police and in the security services, and based on that I
14 introduced a system of reporting, reporting to me from the chief of the
15 administrations for military police and security services and towards
16 other officials in the Ministry of Defence of the Croatian Republic of
17 Herceg-Bosna and above them at higher positions.
18 I also issued documents in order to regulate relationship between
19 the security services and the military police in order to provide for a
20 better cooperation and better reporting, as well as coordination between
21 those two services.
22 Q. Mr. Biskic, this system of reporting that you told us that you
23 introduced from the chief of administrations for military police and
24 security services, can you tell us a little bit more about how those
25 reports were produced, the frequency of those reports, and to whom those
1 reports were distributed?
2 A. I believe that at the time on the 17th of November I introduced
3 the first bulletin about the events where the military police was engaged,
4 and I also introduced the system of the reports of the security services
5 about the situation of security in the territory of the Croatian Republic
6 of Herceg-Bosna. Such reports arrived at my desk as assistant minister,
7 and in November already, as assistant chief of the Main Staff in the
8 security system, and also to the other addressees within the Ministry of
9 Defence of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna, i.e., the Main Staff of
10 the Croatian Defence Council, the billeting of the military police was
11 also sent to the addressees that were higher above to the military
12 prosecutor's office and military courts, the president of the government,
13 and the president of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna.
14 Q. What type of information was included in these bulletins and how
15 were they physically produced or who produced them and based upon what?
16 A. Daily reports that were drafted by the military police
17 administration of the Croatian Defence Council were based on the daily
18 reports of the military police units in the territory of the Croatian
19 Defence Council, and this was all based on the interventions of the
20 military police when it came to the disruption of peace or the regulation
21 and control of road traffic or crime that was investigated by the military
22 police or other activities, daily activities that the military police had
23 to perform during the 24 hours reporting period.
24 Q. Mr. Biskic, could you please turn to the next exhibit in your
25 bundle, which is marked 6722. That's P 06722.
1 Do you recognise this document, sir?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Can you tell it us what this document is, please?
4 A. This is a daily report of the military police administration of
5 the Croatian Defence Council. It is entitled "Bulletin number 2," or in
6 other words, bulletin, and before me I have document number 2, dated 18
7 November 1993, which means that the first bulletin was issued on the 18th
8 [as interpreted] of November, 1993.
9 Q. Perhaps there's -- perhaps there's an error in the English
10 transcript. It says, "which means that the first bulletin was issued on
11 the 18th of November, 1993." Is that correct?
12 A. The 17th November 1993 is the date of the first one, because the
13 18th of November was the date when the second bulletin was issued under
14 number 2. The first one was on the 17th of November, the second one on
15 the 18th, number three on the 19th, and so on and so forth.
16 Q. Now, perhaps you can just answer this question very quickly for
17 us. Next to the date on the bottom of this document, on the first page of
18 this document, it indicates a reference to Ljubuski. Can you tell us why
19 this document apparently was produced in Ljubuski?
20 A. The seat of the MP administration of the Croatian Defence Council
21 was in Ljubuski.
22 Q. Okay. And at this point in time, sir, that is in mid-November
23 1993, where were you physically working?
24 A. I was in Posusje.
25 Q. Now, Mr. Biskic, a few moments ago you mentioned in some detail
1 some of the steps you took in terms of organisation and establishment of
2 the military police or re-establishment of the military police. Can you
3 tell us in a little more detail about the steps you took in terms of
4 organising or re-organising the military police of the HVO?
5 A. At the beginning of December the Minister of Defence of the
6 Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna, Mr. Perica Jukic, at my proposal and an
7 agreement with the chief of the Main Staff of the Croatian Defence
8 Council, General Roso, signed an order on the reorganisation of the
9 military police of the Croatian Defence Council. This order in a certain
10 way was preceded by the preparations for the reorganisation that took
11 place in the course of November 1993. The reorganisation itself was
12 launched and was due to the preparations for the reorganisation of the
13 Croatian Defence Council and awareness that a new organisation is required
14 in the new times and in the new stages of the development of the Croatian
15 Defence Council.
16 Q. Mr. Biskic, what do you mean by the awareness that a new
17 organisation is required in the new times and in the new stages of the
18 development? What -- what do you mean by that, sir?
19 A. What I am saying is that every stage in the development of the
20 Croatian Defence Council called for the adjustment of the organisation in
21 the Croatian Defence Council. When General Roso be -- came to the
22 position of the Chief of the General Staff of the Croatian Defence Council
23 was the time when the Croatian Defence Council started being reorganised,
24 and before that the military police of the Croatian Defence Council was
25 reorganised as well.
1 Q. Can you turn it, sir, to document 7018, P 07018. Can you tell us
2 what this document is, sir?
3 A. This is an order by the minister of defence, Mr. Perica Jukic, on
4 the reorganisation of the military police of the Croatian Defence Council.
5 The date is 3rd December 1993.
6 Q. And, Mr. Biskic, is this the document that you just mentioned a
7 moment ago that was based upon a proposal that you had put forward?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. And, sir, can you tell us in a -- in a nutshell or very succinctly
10 what the main components or the main facets of the reorganisation that you
11 propose and which is reflected in P 07018 would be?
12 A. Under item 1 of this order you can see that units of the military
13 police are determined, their numeral signs, where they are to be
14 established and in which zone of responsibility are they to perform
15 military police duties.
16 Item 1 says that there will be a battalion of the military police
17 of the Ministry of Defence of the Croatian Defence Council with the
18 headquarters in Mostar. The 2nd Battalion headquartered in Livno, which
19 will perform duties in the areas of responsibilities of the Territorial
20 Defence -- of the territorial districts of Tomislavgrad, Posusje, Prozor,
21 and one platoon of the military police in Uskoplje. And that is how other
22 units are defined, such as the 3rd Battalion headquartered in Citluk with
23 its task in the zone of Mostar. Also, companies are determined in Siroki
24 Brijeg, Capljina, Ljubuski, Stolac. Within the 3rd Battalion were
25 military police platoons in Buna and Neum.
1 Further on under 1.4 it says that a company of the military police
2 is formed to provide security for the prisoners of war in the military
3 investigative prison headquartered in Heliodrom in Mostar. Also, there
4 will be a teaching company of the military police for the -- for the
5 training of recruits of the military police with headquarters in
6 Capljina. And in Vitez. It says Kiseljak here. This was only an
7 operations group. The Orasje, and also an operations group was in Zepce
8 where independent companies of the military police are established.
9 In -- in item 2 it is ordered that platoons of the military police
10 shall no longer be part of the brigades of the HVO but of the 2nd and 3rd
11 battalions of the Croatian Defence Council, which means that both troops
12 and their equipment will be transferred.
13 In item 3 it is said that members of the military police in the
14 brigades who do not wish to join the military police companies shall
15 return the military police equipment and join the brigades, and when they
16 do that they stop being military policemen. In the same item it is
17 defined that military policemen joining MP companies shall take with them
18 the complete equipment and weapons. And also in the same item it says
19 that motor vehicles and other equipment of the military platoons shall be
20 transferred to the military police companies and registered as returned by
21 the brigades.
22 Q. Let me just interrupt you there, Mr. Biskic, since we will all
23 have the document before you.
24 What were the -- what was the primary motivating factor in this
25 reorganisation that's outlined and detailed in a great amount of detail in
1 P 07018?
2 A. Well, the information about the establishment of the military
3 police of the Croatian Defence Council at that time, that's what led me,
4 and they were working as platoons in the brigades and battalions in the
5 military districts, and there were the light assault military battalions
6 of the military police. Similarly, the system of command between the
7 military police and the commander of the platoons in the brigades was not
8 properly defined, and I thought that there could be a simplified system
9 which at that time I felt would have been more efficacious.
10 Q. Now, sir, following this document that we've just seen or the
11 issuance of that document, were there a series of documents to lower-level
12 units implementing that more general order?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Can you please take a look, Mr. Biskic, at the document marked
15 7040, which should be the next document in the bundle. That's P 07040.
16 Can you tell it us what this document is, sir?
17 A. This document -- well, in fact it's an order that I signed as
18 assistant minister for security, and by this order I regulate the
19 implementation of the order by the minister of defence dated the 3rd of
20 December, 1993.
21 Q. Which is the document we just looked at; correct?
22 A. Yes. And I say here: "I hereby order to order the acting --" or,
23 rather, the Ministry of Defence of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna,
24 I make him responsible for the implementation of the five points.
25 Q. Now, it would appear, sir, at the bottom of this document under
1 your signature that this was sent to the minister of defence, Mr. Perica
2 Jukic, and to the minister of interior, Mr. Valentin Coric; is that
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Do you recall, sir, why this letter was addressed to Mr. Coric?
6 A. Well, Mr. Valentin Coric, as of the 11th of November, 1993, was
7 the minister of the interior of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna, and
8 in point 2 of this order, point 2 and 3, cooperation is defined with the
9 police units and police administration of the military police of the
10 Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna, and thereby I considered that this
11 order should go to the attention of minister of the interior of the
12 Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna or, rather, Mr. Valentin Coric.
13 Q. Do you recall, Mr. Biskic, any meetings that dealt with the
14 subject of cooperation between the ministry of the defence -- or
15 Ministry of Defence and the MUP that you attended with Mr. Coric in
16 December 1993?
17 A. Well, there were joint meetings between or in the Ministry of
18 Defence of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna at which the minister of
19 the interior was present, Mr. Valentin Coric. And at those meetings they
20 discussed close cooperation between the military and civilian police as
21 being necessary. And before that as well. There was a certain amount of
22 cooperation between the military and civilian police forces, and that's
23 why I considered that by this order we would move to a new establishment
24 and that we should more clearly define this cooperation. And personally
25 with the minister of the interior of HR HB, I had a meeting with the
1 assistant minister later on towards the 17th of December, 1993, where we
2 looked at more concrete forms of cooperation.
3 Q. With respect to this meeting on the 17th of December, 1993, sir,
4 do you recall some of the topics that were discussed with respect to, as
5 you put it, more concrete forms of cooperation?
6 A. Do you mean the meeting of the 17th of November or December
8 Q. December. I see a reference on the transcript to 17 December,
9 1993, that you just referred to.
10 A. Yes, that's right.
11 Q. Do you recall some of the things that were discussed in terms of
12 more concrete forms of cooperation between the MUP and the MOD?
13 A. In concrete terms the Ministry of the Interior and the ministry of
14 police of the Croatian Defence Council, well, we talked about a joint
15 patrol service and check-points and taking over supervision by the
16 civilian police or the Ministry of the Interior of the HR HB at the border
17 crossings with the republic of Croatia, and also taking over security for
18 humanitarian convoys by the civilian police or Ministry of the Interior of
19 the HR HB.
20 Q. Mr. Biskic, could you look at the next document in the binder in
21 front of you, which is marked 7218, that is P 07218.
22 A. Could you repeat that, please, the number?
23 Q. 7218. Are you familiar with this document, Mr. Biskic?
24 A. Yes. It's the document I referred to a while ago which relates to
25 the conclusions from the meeting that I held on the 17th of December with
1 the then minister of the interior, Mr. Valentin Coric.
2 Q. Could you please turn to the next document in the bundle which is
3 7243, P 07234 -- 43, sorry. 43. P 07243.
4 Are you familiar with this document, sir?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Can you tell us what this document is?
7 A. It is my order to the head of the military police administration,
8 rather, the acting minister, about the implementation of the conclusions
9 reached at the meeting of the 17th of December, 1993, with the minister of
10 the interior, Mr. Valentin Coric.
11 Q. Let me turn now, sir, to a slightly different topic concerning
12 military police restructuring. Do you recall a meeting held on the 14th
13 of December, 1993?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Can you tell us, first of all, where this meeting was held and
16 what the purpose of this meeting was?
17 A. If I remember correctly, and if we are referring to the same
18 meeting, I think it was held in Mostar with a group of officers of the
19 military police, and the topic discussed was the new organisation and the
20 tasks and assignments of the military police and their officers in the
21 ensuing period.
22 Q. And again, can you elaborate upon the tasks and assignments for
23 that period? What were you trying to accomplish with these tasks and
25 A. You mean the restructuring of the military police?
1 Q. Yes.
2 A. Is that what you mean? Well, with this restructuring of the
3 Croatian Defence Council, I wanted to ensure more -- a simpler system of
4 control and command and more efficacious implementation of military police
5 tasks. I also wanted to achieve firmer subordination and coordination
6 with all the military police units by the military police administration,
7 and I wanted to define the role of the commander of the HVO units and the
8 military police units in their areas of responsibility, and of course to
9 achieve better results, generally speaking, in the work of the military
10 police during that period.
11 Q. Can you turn, sir, to the document marked 7169, P 07169.
12 MR. KOVACIC: Perhaps -- [Interpretation] Perhaps, Your Honour,
13 before we move on, while it's still on our screens, in the previous answer
14 by the witness on page 53 [as interpreted], it says that he wished to
15 ensure stronger control, but the witness also said "clearer," "clearer
16 control," clearer relationships between the HVO and the military police.
17 So not firmer but clearer. Perhaps we could have the question repeated.
18 MR. MUNDIS:
19 Q. Mr. Biskic, in your opinion was there problems with the clarity of
20 the situation between the military police units and other HVO units?
21 A. I think that in the command and control system there were things
22 that weren't clear enough, especially the platoons of the military police
23 attached to the brigades, and this could be seen from the reports by the
24 acting person and his reports sent into the HVO.
25 Q. What do you mean by, "in the command and control system things
1 were clear enough"? Can you explain that?
2 A. I think that clearer -- what I meant by "clearer" was the
3 regulations on the work of the Croatian Defence Council signed, as far as
4 I can remember, in April 1992. It referred to the place and role of the
5 chief of the military police in issuing orders to the military police
6 units and the relationship of the brigade commander of the military
7 district vis-a-vis the military police units.
8 Q. Well, perhaps you can help clarify the situation or an
9 explanation. Was it the situation that things were simply confusing, or
10 was it the situation that with respect to the military police there was a
11 complete breakdown of command and control, or was it something else or
12 something in between?
13 A. Well, I don't think there was a breakdown in control and command,
14 but there was lack of understanding of the system of control and command.
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, Mr. Coric.
16 THE ACCUSED CORIC: [Interpretation] The witness has already given
17 the answer, but I would like to say what I intended to say in the first
18 place. I think that the term used by the Prosecutor is a very general
19 one, so when we speak of specific and concrete matters, a concrete
20 question would be in order.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Coric, could you not have
22 said it in the cross-examination? Why did you see fit to intervene at
23 this point? Right. For clarification purposes.
24 Continue, Mr. Mundis.
25 MR. MUNDIS: Thank you, Mr. President.
1 Q. Let's turn then, sir, to this document 7169 that you have before
2 you, which is P 07169. Are you familiar with this document, sir?
3 A. I am familiar with it. I saw it when I talked to the
4 Prosecutor -- or, rather, the representatives of the OTP in 2005.
5 Q. Sir, this purports to be minutes of that meeting on the 14th of
6 December, 1993, in Mostar. Can you take a look at this document and give
7 us your views as to whether this accurately reflects what occurred at that
9 A. The minutes were kept by the military police administration. I
10 can just guess, hazard a guess and says what is written down here is
12 Q. For purposes of clarification, sir, did you attend this meeting on
13 the 14th of December, 1993, in Mostar?
14 A. Yes, I was present for part of the meeting.
15 Q. Do you recall which part of the meeting you were present for?
16 A. The first part of the meeting. And it began at 1200 hours, then
17 somewhere after 1400 hours I believe I left. But I can't say when that
18 was exactly.
19 Q. And what was the primary purpose of this meeting which seems to
20 have had a large number of attendees? What was the primary reason for
21 this meeting?
22 A. The prime reason for the meeting was for me to get to know the
23 officers of the military police, to meet them in this restructuring. I
24 wanted to introduce myself. I wanted them to hear me, and I wanted to
25 answer some of their questions and queries.
1 Q. Do you recall, sir, what the general mood or atmosphere was with
2 respect to this reorganisation of the HVO military police?
3 A. What I received, the feedback and information I received and what
4 I could feel at the meeting was that the atmosphere was normal, because
5 before that there was restructuring of the military police from its
6 inception until my arrival.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] General, looking at this
8 document, one is surprised to see here that you introduce yourselves, and
9 you're introducing your collaborators, and they all come from the Republic
10 of Croatia. The names are Boro Gambiraza, there is Captain Cvitanovic, et
12 Now, a question in that regard. Why was the Republic of Croatia
13 so much present in -- at a function that only seemed to concern the HVO?
14 Why did you see the need to surround yourself with collaborators coming
15 from the Republic of Croatia? Does it mean that at the level of
16 Herzegovina, or Bosnia-Herzegovina, there was nobody capable of filling
17 those posts?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, the answer to your question,
19 Mr. President, is something that this document does. It speaks for itself
20 because next to me there were two officers from the armed forces of the
21 Republic of Croatia, and all the rest at this meeting and all the people
22 who worked to implement the new organisation both of the military police
23 of the HVO and the security and information service were and remain
24 officers or, rather, members of the Croatian Defence Council. So my
25 answer is that at the time and before me and after me there were capable
1 officers of the Croatian Defence Council.
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, but one could gain the
3 impression, looking at this from the outside, that there is -- that your
4 placing this under control, your control. What do you think about that?
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, I said at the beginning that I
6 came to help out in the -- to help out in the situation that was held by
7 the HVO, and I said I came to assist. Not pursuant to an order, but I
8 considered that since I was born on the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina it
9 was my honour and pleasure and privilege to help out. It was no control.
10 I was not subordinate to anyone, General Roso, minister Soljic, later on.
11 And while I was down there, I really felt like a member of the HVO. And
12 together with the HVO officers, I took part in the reorganisation and
13 restructuring of the military police and the security and information
14 service and the adjustment of the HVO which followed at the beginning of
16 JUDGE PRANDLER: I am sorry to interrupt you. You -- if I am not
17 mistaken, you had a sentence here which says that -- that, "I was not
18 subordinate to anyone. General Roso, minister -- minister --" I don't --
19 I cannot read that, and later on. Now, do you say you have not been
20 subordinated to anybody, meaning not subordinated to the minister himself,
21 or probably it is a question of translation? So were you subordinate as
22 assistant minister to the minister, or you were not? That is my question.
23 And as far as the translation is concerned, of course, we have to look
24 into it. Thank you.
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, let me repeat. I said
1 the following: I was not subordinate to anyone in the Ministry of Defence
2 of the Republic of Croatia. At the point in time when I arrived in the
3 territory of the Croatian Defence Council, during November I was at a time
4 subordinate to General Roso. He was my superior. And later on I was
5 subordinated to the minister of defence of the Croatian Republic of
6 Herceg-Bosna, who was Mr. Jukic. And later on once again to the minister,
7 Vladimir Soljic.
8 So once again let me repeat. I was in the system of command and
9 control of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna and I was subordinated
10 later on as assistant minister to Minister Jukic or, rather, Minister
12 JUDGE PRANDLER: Yes, thank you very much for the clarification,
13 and it was an issue of the translation. Thank you.
14 MR. KARNAVAS: Mr. President, just for clarification purposes, the
15 gentleman during his six-day interview, six or seven, I believe it's six
16 days, at one point he does indicate that he was seconded, that was the
17 term that was used and was acknowledged by the Office of the Prosecution.
18 Seconded. In other words, he was seconded from the Republic of Croatia
19 to -- to the HVO. So perhaps a line of question, and that may assist.
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] And a final question from me.
21 So this document speaks of how you intervened, and once you introduced
22 your collaborators, you said that the object of this meeting was to create
23 a military police that was honourable.
24 Now, I'm wondering about the sense and meaning of your words
25 there. Does that mean that the military police before that was not an
1 honourable one? What did you want to say by using that term? You can
2 look at the text of the document.
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I said at the beginning that I
4 assumed that they conveyed my words as I said them. However, I say with
5 full responsibility here before the Court, before the Trial Chamber and
6 everybody in the courtroom here, that I never said that they were
7 unhonourable, the military policemen of the Croatian Defence Council were
8 not honourable, and the military police of the HVO. And I do believe that
9 my words were not conveyed as I uttered them in this sentence, because had
10 I used that word, there would certainly would have been reactions from the
11 people at the meeting, because there were certainly representatives and
12 people who had worked in the military police before.
13 MR. KARNAVAS: Again for clarification purposes, during the
14 lengthy interview the gentleman did point out that the minutes of the
15 meetings were not accurately recorded. And I mention this because I think
16 in fairness to the gentleman this should be brought out. If he's going to
17 be asked about a specific section on the minutes of the meeting, in
18 fairness to the gentleman, they should also point out where he gave full
19 and fair and complete explanations as to what he believed he said or
20 others said and what the minutes may not accurately reflect what was said,
21 because he indicated that the minutes were not -- did not -- were not
22 verbatim. This was not a recorded or videotaped meeting.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you. I just note for the
24 transcript quite simply that this document indicates that the meeting
25 ended at 1555 hours and that there were two persons who signed this
1 document jointly, Mr. Radoslav Lavric and Mr. Renate Peric. And it says
2 minutes taken by Renate Peric. So Renate Peric was the editor of the
4 Continue, Mr. Mundis.
5 MR. MUNDIS: Thank you, Mr. President.
6 Q. Now, Mr. Biskic, let me ask you some more questions on this issue
7 of reporting. During the time period that you were in Bosnia and
8 Herzegovina, to whom did you report?
9 A. I shall repeat for the second time today. I reported to
10 General Roso at first, then to the Minister Jukic, and as of 25 February,
11 to Minister Vladimir Soljic. I'm talking about the ministers in the
12 Ministry of Defence of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna.
13 Q. During the time period, sir, that you were in Bosnia and
14 Herzegovina, did you make any reports to any authorities in the Republic
15 of Croatia?
16 A. I wasn't duty-bound to report to anybody, and I didn't. In that
17 position, I did not report to anybody. I did send two letters to the then
18 minister of defence of the Republic of Croatia, Mr. Gojko Susak, but not
19 as my superior but as a person who did have a certain influence on the
20 officers in the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna because he hailed from
21 Bosnia and Herzegovina. That's where he was born. And he came to the
22 territory under the control of the Croatian Defence Council quite often.
23 In order to make myself clear, I sent him two reports to inform
24 him about the situation and to ask him to use his influence in order to
25 speed up certain processes in the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna.
1 Q. Now, Mr. Biskic, I'm going to ask you some questions about these
2 two documents, but before this goes off the screen, if you could please
3 look at lines 4 and 5 of page 57 on the screen in front of you where you
4 said that you reported to General Roso, then Minister Jukic, and as of 25
5 February, to Minister Vladimir Soljic. And I'm going to ask you if that's
6 the correct name, Vladimir Soljic.
7 A. Soljic.
8 Q. Can you spell that, please? Is that spelled correctly?
9 A. Vladimir Soljic, Mr. Vladimir Soljic who took over the duty as the
10 minister of defence of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna. And I
11 believe that this was sometime in February, and I had come from Croatia
12 where I was on holiday because of the illness of my wife, and on the 25th
13 of February I got introduced to the new minister. I believe that the name
14 is Soljic, Soljic.
15 Q. Now, you told us, and this is on lines 15 and 16 of page 57, that
16 Mr. Susak came to the territory under the Croatian Defence Council quite
17 often. Do you recall, sir, approximately how many occasions in Susak came
18 to Bosnia and Herzegovina or the territory under the control of the HVO
19 during the time period you were in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
20 A. As far as I can remember, I believe some four or five times he was
22 Q. And what time period, if you can be more specific?
23 A. November December 1993, and I believe in early January of 1994.
24 Q. Did you personally attend any of the meetings that Mr. Susak was
25 present at in November or December 1993, or January 1994?
1 A. Yes. When he arrived, we had some meetings which were not
2 official, but meetings during which we discussed the situation in the
3 territory of the Croatian Defence Council, i.e., in the zone of
4 responsibility of the Croatian Defence Council.
5 Q. Were -- you've told us "We had some meetings which were not
6 official." Were there any meetings which were official?
7 A. No. What I was saying is that these were not meetings at which
8 Mr. Susak appeared as the Minister of Defence of the republic of Croatia.
9 At least this is not how I perceived him. These were meetings during
10 which he expressed interest in the situation of the Croatian Defence
11 Council, about problems, and how he as an individual, as a person, could
12 be of any assistance in all that. I don't know whether there were any
13 other meetings. I am not privy to that information.
14 Q. Can you tell us other than yourself and Mr. Susak who was present
15 at any of these meetings that you've told us about? Again in the period
16 November 1993 through January 1994.
17 A. As far as I can remember, there were the leaders of the Ministry
18 of Defence and the Main Staff. I believe that at one or two meetings
19 there was also late Mr. Boban, the president of the Croatian Republic of
20 Herceg-Bosna. At one of those meetings there was also Mr. Valentin Coric
21 as the minister of the interior.
22 Q. And when you say, sir, the leaders of the Ministry of Defence and
23 the Main Staff, the leaders of the Ministry of Defence and Main Staff of
24 what state or country?
25 A. When I said that he went there, of course I meant the Ministry of
1 Defence of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna, Minister Jukic and Roso,
2 and assistant -- assistant ministers and some of the officers of the Main
3 Staff of the Croatian Defence Council. This is who I meant.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Sir, I am still talking about
5 these meetings. You said that the meeting ended at 17.58 and that you
6 left about 15.55 because you had another meeting in Posusje. Before that
7 meeting and I'm talking about another meeting that was there Mr. Marinko
8 Maric, he started talking about the reinforcement of the front lines, and
9 he was going to tell you about the problem, and he said that since the
10 focus of attention has been moved the work cannot be continued by the
11 detainees. And you told us that this decision had come from the president
12 of the Republic of Herceg-Bosna and that you yourself were -- did not want
13 to be detained as the war criminal, like Milosevic and Izetbegovic. Do
14 you remember that intervention about that topic that was tackled, about
15 the front lines, about the work of the detainees? Why did you raise the
16 issue of war criminals within that context?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I believe that at that meeting
18 somebody raised a similar issue indeed, and the name of Marinko Maric does
19 not mean anything to me as I sit here.
20 My answer was probably along the lines of what has been recorded
21 in here. Before that, before this meeting, I believe that sometime around
22 the 10th of December the president of the Croatian Republic of
23 Herceg-Bosna, Mr. Boban, issued a decision on the dismantling of
24 collection centres and the implementation of that decision lasted between
25 sometime around 11th of December and the end of December. I believe that
1 at the end of December the decision had been fully implemented, and I
2 believe that the person who raised that issue probably was privy to some
3 information about detainees being taken to the front line where they had
4 to refortify the front line positions.
5 My answer was very clear about those working on the front line.
6 Likewise, if I mention, which I probably did, war criminals by their
7 names, since we were aware of the fact that the Muslim armed forces and
8 the armed forces of Serbia in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina also
9 used detained Croatians to work on the front lines, during that particular
10 meeting I also had information that detainees were taken by certain
11 members of the Croatian Defence Council to the war operation zones. And
12 when I learnt about that, I proposed, as early as November 1993, and I
13 asked the chief of the General Staff to issue an order on the ban of
14 taking prisoners and detainees from the collection centres. And on return
15 of those who had been taken away from the collection centres for one or
16 the other reason.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you very much for this
19 Mr. Mundis, please proceed.
20 MR. MUNDIS: Thank you very much, Mr. President.
21 Q. Mr. Biskic, can you please turn to the document marked 7064 in the
22 binder. That's P 07064.
23 Are you familiar with this document, Mr. Biskic?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Can you tell us what that document is, please?
1 A. This is a report which I sent to Mr. Gojko Susak. The date is 7
2 December 1993.
3 Q. Now, a few moments ago, sir, you told us that you sent two reports
4 to Mr. Susak. I take it then this is one of those two documents.
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Why did you send this document to Mr. Susak?
7 A. I assume that I sent it to him after I received certain
8 information about problems in the collection centres. Also, I knew that
9 the international community put pressure on the Republic of Croatia with
10 regard to the situation in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Also,
11 I thought that dealing with these issues could be accelerated if the
12 Republic of Croatia were to get involved as well as the international
13 organisations, and in that sense I sent this letter. Obviously, before
14 that I informed about the information I had Mr. Jukic and the Chief of
15 General Staff, and I also put forward some proposal for dealing with the
16 situation that apparently prevailed in the collection centres. In
17 November 1993, these individuals took certain measures in order to deal
18 with the problems that prevailed in the collection centres.
19 Q. Let me stop you there, Mr. Biskic, and ask you about the first
20 paragraph of this document, P 07064. There's a reference, or you
21 write: "I immediately observed irregularities with regard to prisoner of
22 war shelters and collection centres."
23 Can you elaborate upon that, what you mean by irregularities with
24 regard to prisoner of war shelters and collection centres?
25 A. As we were preparing for the operation that was to take place in
1 Uskoplje, or Gornji Vakuf, as you will, the chief of the SIS
2 administration in Mostar, I received initial information about some of the
3 war prisoners who had escaped and crossed the front line. I was also
4 informed at the time that there were certain problems in the collection
5 centres, and one of the problems was that the category of individuals was
6 not clear and that there was no clear authority in terms of providing for
7 the security of these collection centres.
8 Also, I learnt that there was no clear procedure for prisoners of
9 war entering those accommodation facilities and collection centres.
10 Q. What do you mean, sir, by "no clear procedure for prisoners of war
11 entering those accommodation and collection centres"? What do you mean
12 by "no clear procedure"?
13 A. According to the information that I received from the chief of the
14 military police administration of the Croatian Defence Council and the
15 Security Information Services, I thought that it was not clear how
16 detainees entered the accommodation centres and collection centres so that
17 the isolated persons were in a way accessible to members of the Croatian
18 Defence Council, and these people took those prisoners to work.
19 In order to get a clearer picture on the collection centres, on
20 the 17th November, 1993, I issued an order asking for a report from the
21 acting chief of the security services. We discussed his report
22 previously. And based on that report, I proposed certain measures to the
23 minister, Minister Jukic, which he accepted, and issued orders to the
24 effect of regulating the visits of medical officers in the course of the
25 month of November, 1993, and to the effect of improving the conditions of
1 life and stay of prisoners in the collection centres.
2 Q. Let me ask you a question about the second paragraph of this
3 document P 07064. In the first phrase of the second paragraph you
4 write: "There have been organisational omissions in RZ shelters and
5 collection centres ..."
6 What do you mean, sir, by "organisational omissions"?
7 A. At the time when I wrote this, I implied that in the same area and
8 under the authority of the same ministry, you couldn't have prisoners of
9 war. You couldn't have persons who had been taken into custody for
10 rebellion, and you couldn't have civilians who had been sent to the
11 collection centres for safety reasons. You couldn't have all of these
12 there at the same time under the authority of the same ministry. This is
13 what I meant when I said "organisational omissions."
14 Q. Thank you, sir. Could you please now turn to the next document in
15 the binder, 7234. It's P 07234.
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] A question, please.
17 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] I'm sorry, Mr. Prosecutor.
18 Before we move on to the next document, we're still talking about
19 document P 764 -- 7064. Amongst other things, the witness proposed that
20 teams of the military prosecutor's office be formed, if I understood him
22 Can I please ask the witness: Where from should have these teams
23 have arrived, from Croatia, the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna, or from
24 some other area, bearing in mind the fact that the witness has stated that
25 he was not subordinated to anybody from the republic of Croatia?
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This is true. I was not
2 subordinated to anybody from the Republic of Croatia, as the Presiding
3 Judge has just said.
4 In item 2 of my proposal to Mr. Susak, I meant the officials from
5 the military prosecutor's office and the military courts in the Republic
6 of Croatia. I assumed that in these institutions there might be people
7 who had been born in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and I wanted
8 them to come and help with the -- with the establishment of the military
9 prosecutor's office and military courts in the Croatian Defence Council,
10 i.e., in the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna.
11 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] Thank you.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Mundis, please proceed.
13 MR. MUNDIS:
14 Q. Mr. Biskic, please turn to document 7234, P 07234. Can you tell
15 us, sir, what this document is?
16 A. 7234. I apologise, is that the document you're referring to?
17 Q. Yes, sir.
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Can you tell us what this will document is, sir?
20 A. This is the second letter to Mr. Gojko Susak, who at the time was
21 the minister of defence of the Republic of Croatia.
22 Q. What was the purpose -- what was the purpose behind you sending
23 this document to Minister Susak on the 18th of December, 1993?
24 A. The reason was that I considered him influential in the territory
25 of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna, and I believe that he could help
1 with resolving some issues that I was aware of at the time in the
2 territory of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna.
3 Q. And when you say, "I believe that he could help with resolving
4 some issues," what kind of help do you believe that he could render?
5 A. By using his influence and help I meant people and materiel
6 assistance in the territory of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna.
7 Q. Could you turn, sir, to the subsection of this document dealing
8 with the Tomislavgrad ZP, please.
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Can you look, please, at the fifth paragraph of that document,
11 which in the English says: "Staffing policy is wrong. Some are favoured
12 and extolled for no reason." Do you see that sentence?
13 A. Are you referring to the second paragraph on the last page, page
15 Q. It's a different page number in the English translation, but let
16 me see. It's the sentence, sir, that says in English: "Staffing policy
17 is wrong."
18 A. It's the second paragraph, you mean.
19 Q. Yes, on the last page. Yes, that's correct.
20 A. Well, it says: "Staffing policy is wrong. Some are favoured and
21 extolled for no reason."
22 Well, I think that that is a sentence which speaks of the fact
23 that in -- among certain cadres in the Croatian Defence Council there are
24 different opinions than is evident by the results. And I can't really say
25 who this referred to specifically speaking because the sentence is a
1 general one. It's a generalised observation.
2 Q. And, sir, my last question before the next break: At the end of
3 the next paragraph there is a reference to appointing -- appointing
4 yes-men to responsible positions. Do you see that, and can you perhaps
5 explain what that's a reference to?
6 A. Which paragraph did you say? Some help here, please.
7 Q. It's the very next paragraph after the sentence concerning
8 staffing policy, at the end of that paragraph. The third sentence of the
9 next paragraph.
10 A. In that paragraph I proposed that the protagonists of assignments
11 should be clearly defined, and the civilian authorities must make their
12 contribution and not view this from the sidelines, and that they are in --
13 responsible for the situation because they tied HVO units to themselves.
14 And as far as I was informed, part of the Presidency appointed people who
15 would be yes-men and respond to them, not to the hierarchy and chain of
16 command up towards the Main Staff. So that's how I used this word
18 MR. KARNAVAS: Excuse me, Your Honour. We are -- the translation,
19 I'm told, is not correct, or it's -- it's off a little bit when it refers
20 to Presidency, because I think he's referring to local municipalities, and
21 I think this is very clear, because he makes it eminently clear in his
22 statement and his reports.
23 MR. MUNDIS:
24 Q. Let me just ask you to clarify that, sir, because you were --
25 there were two things that you said and I would like you to elaborate upon
1 them. This point is when -- this reference to "Presidency", if you could
2 explain what -- the Presidency at what level. And the second one is you
3 make reference to "the civilian authorities," and that's on line 6 of page
4 67. Can you please explain what you meant by "the civilian authorities"
5 and also explain the level of the Presidency with respect to the
6 government structure?
7 A. I didn't use the word "Presidency." I said representatives of
8 civilian authorities at the level of municipalities, because the brigades
9 of the Croatian Defence Council were organised at the time on a municipal
10 level and were financed mostly from the municipal budget. So I mean the
11 representatives of the Croatian Defence Council in the civilian authority
12 bodies at the level of the municipalities.
13 MR. MUNDIS: I note the time, Mr. President. This is perhaps a
14 good spot for the next break.
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] It is 25 to 6.00. We're taking
16 a 20-minute break.
17 --- Recess taken at 5.35 p.m.
18 --- On resuming at 5.54 p.m.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The hearing is resumed.
20 Mr. Mundis.
21 MR. MUNDIS: Thank you, Mr. President.
22 Q. Mr. Biskic, we're now going to turn to the topic of collection
23 centres and centres for prisoners of war, and just so that we're all
24 clear, can you tell us what facility or facilities you are referring to
25 when you use the phrase "collection centre"?
1 A. When I use the word "collection centres," I mean collection
2 centres --
3 THE INTERPRETER: Could the -- could the witness repeat his
4 answer, please.
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] According to the knowledge I had so
6 far, the collection centres of Gabela were mentioned, followed by
7 Heliodrom, the military investigation prison of Ljubuski, and later on
8 when we implemented the decision of the president of the Croatian Republic
9 of Herceg-Bosna, I learnt of the existence of the collection centre at
10 Rama or, rather, Prozor. And then there was, under the authority of the
11 Ministry of the Interior in Livno and Tomislavgrad, two others.
12 MR. MUNDIS:
13 Q. Sir, did you ever hear of a facility at Dretelj and, if so, how
14 would you characterise that facility?
15 A. As far as that facility is concerned, I heard about it over the
16 information media in the summer of 1993. I cannot say what kind of
17 collection centre it was. And last time you showed me a film about
19 Q. And --
20 A. However, upon my arrival it wasn't used as a collection centre,
21 the Dretelj collection centre.
22 Q. And a couple of times earlier today you've used the phrase or
23 we've seen in documents "centres for prisoners of war." What facility
24 or facilities would fall under the description, centres for prisoners of
1 A. In the documentation that we mentioned a moment ago there are
2 different titles for the collection centres. Then we have the centre for
3 prisoners of war and the military investigating prison. Now, I don't know
4 the exact titles and names, but as far as I remember from the documents
5 the collection centre existed in Gabela, and in between a collection
6 centre and a centre for prisoners of war at Heliodrom and the military
7 investigation prison was in Ljubuski.
8 Q. What about the term, sir, "detention centre"? Did you ever use
9 that term and, if so, to describe what facility or facilities?
10 A. Well, I think all these names were used without any decision as to
11 what meant what. Later on when the restructuring and reorganising took
12 place, we determined what a centre for prisoners of war was, but at that
13 time I wasn't able to determine that.
14 Q. Okay. Mr. Biskic, at the time that you arrived in
15 Bosnia-Herzegovina on the 8th of November, 1993, were you aware that there
16 were any rules or regulations governing the prisoner of war centres on the
17 territory controlled by the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna?
18 A. Upon arrival, since I wasn't in charge of that kind of thing, I
19 didn't have the documents, but later on when I became aware of the
20 situation and got to know about these matters I had documents which were
21 signed by Mr. Bruno Stojic as the head of the defence department.
22 Q. Could you please turn, sir, to document P 01474, or in your bundle
23 it should be 1474. Are you familiar with this document, sir?
24 A. Yes. Yes, I am. That's the document I referred to a moment ago.
25 Q. And to the best of your recollection, this document was in force
1 at the time you arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina; is that correct?
2 A. Yes. Nobody put it -- I do believe it was in force. It didn't go
3 out of force, and I think it was in force.
4 Q. Do you recall, sir, approximately the first time you saw this
6 A. I can't say that, but I think it was November and December 1993.
7 Q. Do you recall, sir, why you saw this document or the reason why
8 you saw this document?
9 A. I can't remember, but probably when we were discussing the
10 detention centres or collection centres somebody showed me the
12 Q. Do you recall what your reaction, if any, was when you reviewed
13 this document or saw this document for the first time?
14 A. I don't remember.
15 Q. Did there come a time, Mr. Biskic, when you sought more
16 information about the collection centres or prisoner of war centres?
17 A. I said that I issued an order to the acting deputy on the 17th of
18 November. I think that's when the document was issued. And I asked a
19 report -- for a report and information about the situation in the
20 collection centres, and I think that I asked some 13 or 14 questions.
21 Q. And upon issuing this order seeking information, what response, if
22 any, did you receive?
23 A. I received a report from the acting head of the military police,
24 Mr. Lavric.
25 Q. Can you turn, please, to the document marked 6695. That is P
2 Can you tell us, Mr. Biskic, what this document is?
3 A. This document says "An analysis of the capacities for
4 accommodation," et cetera, et cetera. It says, "Head of the military
5 police administration," and it is addressed to me. It isn't signed.
6 You showed me the document last time, and I said I wasn't sure
7 whether I saw it during that period of time, and I say the same thing here
9 Q. With respect, sir, to the information contained in this document,
10 did you at any point in time have reason to determine whether this
11 information is accurate or inaccurate?
12 A. When this document came about, the date of it, I didn't establish
13 whether it was accurate or not. However, later on when the decision was
14 implemented by the president of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna, his
15 decision, we received exact data about the situation in the collection
17 Q. And can you tell me a little bit or tell us a little bit about the
18 exact data about the situation you received concerning the collection
20 A. Mr. Prosecutor, do you mean as far as the document that I have in
21 my hands is concerned.
22 Q. Well, sir, you just told us at lines 5 through 8 on page 72,
23 "Later on when the decision was implemented by the president of the
24 Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna, we received exact data about the
25 situation in the collection is centres," and so my question at this point
1 is: Do you recall what that exact data that you received concerned, or
2 what that exact data was?
3 A. I think that pursuant to the report by the service for exchange of
4 detainees and others on the territory of the Croatian Republic of
5 Herceg-Bosna, in the decision we received a summarised report, and as far
6 as I remember, the figure was 3 -- 4.320, and I think in the report it
7 says what the exact number was per collection centre, or centre for
8 prisoners of war, or prisons, as is the term used here.
9 You showed me that report last time, and it will be able to
10 provide you with concrete figures more specifically.
11 Q. Let's turn now, sir, to 6805. That's P 06805. Mr. Biskic, are
12 you familiar with this document?
13 A. It's rather an illegible document, but I do recognise it.
14 Q. Can you tell -- can you tell us what this document is, please?
15 A. It's a document whereby the acting head of the military police
16 administration, Mr. Lavric, is responding to an order from me and the
17 questions raised with respect to the collection centres or prisons or
18 centres for POWs.
19 Q. Can you tell us, sir, if you were satisfied with the answers that
20 you received from Mr. Lavric?
21 A. Well, it's difficult to say whether I was satisfied or not. I
22 believe that Mr. Lavric provided responses and answers which were the only
23 ones he could have given at the time.
24 Q. And what do you base that conclusion on, sir?
25 A. I base that conclusion on the fact that everybody that's signing a
1 document probably stands by what he wrote. And as far as I knew
2 Mr. Lavric, the general feeling was that he was an honourable officer and
3 did not avail himself of untruths.
4 Q. Now, Mr. Biskic, as a result of this initial information that you
5 received in November 1993, what steps, if any, did you take with respect
6 to the collection centres or centres for prisoners of war on the territory
7 of Herceg-Bosna?
8 A. Well, I've already mentioned that once the first information was
9 received I informed Minister Jukic; and the chief of the Main Staff of the
10 Croatian Defence Council, General Roso. The result of that report was
11 that General Roso issued an order disallowing any detainees to be taken
12 out and saying that they should be returned. And Mr. Jukic issued an
13 order or gave a task to the assistant minister for the sector of health
14 telling him to establish a team of physicians to visit all the collection
15 centres or, rather, the places where detainees were being hold held to see
16 what the situation was like, how they were accommodated and fed and so on,
17 and to propose measures to the minister for improving the conditions.
18 At the same time, I proposed that these problems that were noted
19 should be resolved, and this I did at the meetings held in the Main Staff
20 and the Ministry of Defence of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna.
21 Q. Can you please turn, sir, to document 7075. It's P --
22 JUDGE TRECHSEL: May I interject? A very simple question.
23 Mr. Biskic, did you personally visit any detention centres?
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No. After they were dismantled, it
25 was only sometime in December or the second half of December that I
1 visited Heliodrom, but in the period of time to which this document refers
2 my answer is no.
3 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
4 MR. MUNDIS:
5 Q. Mr. Biskic, can you please turn to P 07075 or 7075 in your binder.
6 Are you familiar with this document, sir?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. Can you tell us about this document, please?
9 A. This document is the result of an order from the minister of
10 defence, Mr. Jukic, on the reorganisation of the military police. And I
11 said at the time that the military police company for providing security
12 to the centre for POWs was being established, and by this document I as
13 the assistant minister to the acting head of the military police
14 administration give instructions for certain activities linked to the
15 military police company, to establish that company, and among other
16 things, I state that until the formation establishment of the company is
17 resolved and the officers appointed and named I instruct that the acting
18 head of security be Mr. Stanko Bozic, who was the warden up until that
19 time at Heliodrom, and that I subordinate to him the commander of the
20 platoon in the Ljubuski prison, and I regulate other issues for the work
21 of that company.
22 Q. Sir, there's a sentence towards the bottom of this document that's
23 underlined that refers to taking of prisoners for labour. Do you see that
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Can you tell us why you put this sentence in this document?
2 A. Before that I said that we had a lot about certain informations
3 and that prisoners were taken for work. I also said that the chief of the
4 Main Staff had issued an order on a ban to take prisoners away and on
5 return of those who had previously been taken away.
6 Since a company was being set up in order to provide security for
7 the an accommodation of prisoners and which was part system of the
8 military police, and in that way they were subordinated to me through the
9 chief of the administration, I believe that no prisoners could be taken
10 away for work without the approval of the security sector that I was the
11 head of.
12 Q. When did you first become aware, Mr. Biskic, that prisoners were
13 being taken for labour?
14 A. I can't tell you exactly when this was, but it was in November.
15 Soon after that, the chief of the Main Staff issued an order about the ban
16 on such practices. I believe that it was in mid-November, or at least
17 this is when I received information about that.
18 Q. And, Mr. Biskic, this reference to the security sector, can you
19 tell the Trial Chamber what the security sector was and who was in charge
20 of the security sector?
21 A. In the concept of organisation of the Ministry of Defence, the new
22 concept, there was a security sector or the sector for security issues,
23 and the administration of military police was part of that sector as well
24 as the security services administration.
25 As of the 1st December, I became the assistant minister, and as
1 such I was also the head of the security sector.
2 Q. Now, Mr. Biskic, in response to a question from Judge Trechsel a
3 few moments ago, you told us that you visited Heliodrom. Do you recall
4 when that was that you went to Heliodrom?
5 A. I believe that this was in mid-December or during the
6 implementation of the decision on the president of the Croatian Republic
7 of Herceg-Bosna. I can't recall the date but this was sometime between
8 the 15th and 20th of December.
9 Q. And do you recall what you observed when you went to Heliodrom?
10 A. At the time only those who could be treated as prisoners were
11 taken to Heliodrom. Prisoners, prisoners of war, or persons against whom
12 criminal charges were filed for rebellion. You know that at the beginning
13 of the Serbian aggression against the territory inhabited by Muslims and
14 Croats and during the first stages of the defence, this defence was
15 organised jointly by Croats and Muslims, and some of the Muslims were
16 members of the -- the HVO until the beginning of their mutual conflict, as
17 you may well know. And those and as well as those who were arrested in
18 combat remained in Heliodrom, and the rest were either in the detention
19 centre in Gabela or had already left for the third countries or had been
20 released into the territory of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna or
21 had left to the territories under the control of the Muslim armed forces
22 or the armed forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In other words, the
23 decision was being under implementation and the other collection centres
24 were being dismantled.
25 Q. Mr. Biskic, at the time you -- at the time you visited Heliodrom,
1 what types of persons were being detained there?
2 A. I said that they were detained if criminal charges were raised or
3 could have been raised against them, those who could be treated as
4 prisoners of war. And I believe, at the time, Mr. Bozic told me that from
5 Prozor and Rama he received a few minors and women. And after that I
6 wrote a letter to the president of the commission for exchanges asking him
7 to take those persons over and transport them to Gabela. And I believe
8 that I stated that the numbers were higher than they should have been. I
9 inspected the outpatients' clinic, and I insisted on further measures and
10 actions that would lead to the improved conditions of life and
11 accommodation of these people there.
12 Q. Did you ever become aware, sir, that any persons who might be
13 described as mentally handicapped were being detained in Heliodrom?
14 A. As far as I can remember, last time you showed me a letter in
15 which this is stated for a fact, and then I said I didn't know whether
16 such individuals had entered the collection centre or whether the
17 consequences that they suffered were the result of their stay in the
18 collection centre. I said that I didn't know that.
19 Q. Excuse me. Do you recall issuing an oral order to Mr. Bozic
20 concerning such persons?
21 A. I think that something was said to that effect.
22 Q. Can you please look at the next document in the binder, 7209,
23 which is P 07209.
24 Do you see the reference, sir, to an oral order from yourself on
25 this document signed by Mr. Bozic?
1 A. Yes. I believe that this was during my visit to the prisoner of
2 war accommodation on the 16th of December.
3 Q. Can you turn, please, sir, to the next document, 7266, P 07266.
4 Do you recognise this document, Mr. Biskic?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Can you tell us what this document refers to?
7 A. The document refers to sending the report that was sent to me by
8 the chief of the security services administration, and it contains what
9 they observed while prisoners were being released from Heliodrom and
11 Q. Can you turn now, sir, to the next document in the binder, 7269, P
12 07269? And again, Mr. Biskic, are you familiar with this document?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Can you tell us briefly what this document relates to, please?
15 A. The document relates to the instruction on the treatment of
16 prisoners of war. I signed it, and I sent it to the administration of the
17 military police, to the administration of the SIS, to the military
18 prosecutor's office in Mostar, to the military prosecutor's office in
19 Livno, to the military court in Mostar, to the military court in Livno, to
20 the office for the exchanges of detained, to the Red Cross office in
21 Bosnia-Herzegovina, and for the attention of the minister of defence,
22 Mr. Perica Jukic, and assistant minister of health.
23 Q. Now, Mr. Biskic, do you recall what prompted you to issue these
24 instructions on 20 December 1993?
25 A. I can't remember exactly what it was, but I believe that all the
1 circumstances surrounding the collection centres prompted me to do that.
2 As of that moment, the military police took over the control over the
3 detainees, and I believe that it was necessary because of them and because
4 of all of the others involved to issue a -- an instruction on the
5 treatment of prisoners of war.
6 Q. And can you perhaps elaborate, sir, on the first part of your
7 answer when you said, "I believe that all the circumstances surrounding
8 the collection centres," prompted you to do that? What do you mean by
9 "all the circumstances surrounding the collection centres"?
10 A. It was from the previous documents that when I say circumstances
11 it was not clearly defined, which you can also see from the report of the
12 acting head of the security administration who it was who provided
13 security for the prisoners, who authorised the entry into the centres. It
14 was not clear who was in charge and who was -- who had the authority of
15 the lives and well-being of these people. And also in my conversation
16 with the head of the information services, the prisoners of war were not
17 interviewed as they should have been, and that's why yet once again I
18 wanted to issue this instruction to inform everybody again how they
19 should treat prisoners of war from the moment they are detained from --
20 to the moment when they are finally accommodated in the prisoner of war
22 Q. Mr. Biskic, when you indicate that the prisoners of war were not
23 interviewed as they should have been, what is the consequence of that?
24 A. I don't know what to say to this. Maybe we did not have the
25 accurate information about what is going on, on the other side, because
1 obviously those were detained in action were best informed about what was
2 going on in -- on the other side, and this is what both the commanders and
3 members of the intelligence always do. They question the detainees who
4 were captured in combat. A prisoner of war, of course, does not have to
5 say anything according to the Geneva Conventions, and it is well known
6 what they are supposed to say and that they shouldn't say anything else.
7 Q. What steps or procedures were in place in December 1993 to make
8 determinations as to whether persons being detained were in fact prisoners
9 of war?
10 A. I don't know what procedure you're talking about. I'm very clear
11 on the concept of prisoners of war. I did not see a procedure in place
12 save for the instruction that we had just discussed that was signed by
13 Mr. Bruno Stojic.
14 Q. Mr. Biskic, can you --
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Sir, for the Judges'
16 information, when it comes to the authorities, could you tell us from your
17 point of view who should have been detained in a military prison? Which
18 individuals could have been detained in a military prison?
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I'm going to tell you what the
20 Geneva Conventions prescribe and what is typical of any armed force. In a
21 prisoner of war centre, all those who are treated as prisoners of war,
22 according to the Geneva Conventions, can be detained. Members of the
23 Croatian Defence Council or any members of any other army that have
24 committed crimes or are being processed for a crime they have committed,
25 there are military prisons where you can keep soldiers who have breached
1 discipline, and there can also be collection centres where you put
2 inhabitants of a certain area to protect them, for their own safety.
3 MR. KARNAVAS: Again I'm told the translation is a little off,
4 Your Honour. Perhaps, I'm told, if the gentleman speaks a little slower
5 they may get a fuller translation, and I think this is rather important,
6 because from his statement he's very clear on what the treatment should
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Try to speak slower. What I am
9 interested in is the last term in your response. You said people who
10 inhabit an area, to protect them. Can you please explain? Can you
11 elaborate on this?
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I believe that it is a well-known
13 thing everywhere in the world that during a war and in an area where
14 safety is impaired that a certain number of people are moved from the area
15 for their own protection. This is what I meant when I spoke about that
16 last category.
17 You asked me a general question, and I provided you with a reply
18 in that sense.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] This category, that is "moved
20 for their own protection," what regime of accommodation do they receive?
21 Under what regime of accommodation are they placed, according to you?
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Their accommodation has to be
23 outside of the zone of combat activities, and that accommodation should
24 not be under the authority of the Ministry of Defence or, rather, the
25 armed forces. It has to be under the authority of some civilian
1 institutions, the Red Cross or some other. And again I repeat I'm talking
2 in general terms.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] And if we have a situation in
4 which a civilian from Mostar finds him or herself in Heliodrom, in your
5 view, what is that person's situation?
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It's very hard to answer this, this
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Mundis.
9 MR. MUNDIS: Thank you, Mr. President.
10 Q. Let me try one more question in this respect, sir. What
11 procedures or steps were in place to ensure that civilians who were being
12 kept for their own protection were not commingled with prisoners of war?
13 A. I have answered in general terms. I have not spoken about any
14 specific situation. I believe that there is a procedure for that as
16 Q. Do you recall what that procedure is?
17 A. Where? I apologise. I'm not clear on your question.
18 Q. On the territory under the control of the Croatian Republic of
20 A. I don't know what procedure was in place. I did not dwell upon
21 that. I deal -- dealt with the -- finding solutions to the situation that
22 I found on the ground when I was involved in all that. But at the moment
23 when the military police under my authority took over the security of the
24 prisoners, then I thought that I should issue an instruction outlining the
25 entire procedure as to how a person can be taken into the prisoners of war
1 centre, how they should be kept there, and this is exactly what the
2 instruction is about, the one that you have just shown to me.
3 Q. Now, earlier this afternoon, Mr. Biskic, you made reference to
4 closing -- the process of closing the detention centres. Do you recall
5 when that process began?
6 A. At the time when I arrived down there, and I believe that even
7 before that you mentioned Dretelj, when I arrived there Dretelj no longer
8 existed. However, we started working pursuant to the decision of the
9 president of the Republic of Herceg-Bosna that I didn't see, but it did
10 exist. I believe that it was issued on the 10th December, 1993. This was
11 a decision by the president of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna.
12 Our activities started on the 11th December.
13 Q. And when you say, "Our activities started on the 11th of
14 December," what did you start doing on the 11th of December, 1993?
15 A. I am talking about implementation of the decision issued on the
16 10th of December by the president of the Croatian Republic of
17 Herceg-Bosna, the decision concerning the closing down of the collection
19 Q. And, Mr. Biskic, what did you do to begin implementing the order
20 of the 10th of December, 1993, by the president of the Croatian Republic
21 of Herceg-Bosna?
22 A. Pursuant to an invitation to a meeting by Mr. Jukic, we held a
23 meeting on the 11th of November. I believe that that was the date. It
24 was on the 11th of December, 1993, and we agreed methods and ways how we
25 should implement that decision.
1 Q. Okay. Do you recall some of the issues that were discussed at
2 this meeting on 11 December 1993?
3 A. I believe that the goal was to set up teams that would simply say
4 which individuals should stay on in the future prisoner of war centres,
5 who are the prisoners that could stay in the area of the territory of the
6 Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna, which persons can go to a third
7 country, and which persons wished to go to the territories under the
8 authority of the Muslim forces, i.e., the forces of the army of BiH. And
9 also, we had to define such institutions which could help us implement all
11 Q. Could you please turn, Mr. Biskic, to document --
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Sir, I've been listening very
13 carefully to what you've been saying, and I have perused all the documents
14 signed by you. One question. When you took up your position, did you
15 have any relationship with the judiciary, and particularly with the
16 military prosecutor? Did you meet with any of them? Did you speak to
17 them about the prisoners of war, the procedures, the situation in certain
18 places where people were detained without any charges being raised against
19 them? Did you talk about that to a military prosecutor at all?
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Dear President, thank you for your
21 promotion. I'm not a general. I used to be a brigadier and not a
22 general. My contacts with the military prosecutor and military judiciary
23 started in December at the meeting that I've just mentioned, the meeting
24 that took place on the 11th of December. We did not talk about any
25 criminal charges and why they were not raised against certain individuals.
1 We concluded at that meeting that if the criminal charges were not raised,
2 and there were grounds to raise them, that in cooperation with the
3 military prosecutor's office, the military police, and the civilian
4 police, that this should be done in order for us to have the grounds to
5 keep somebody in detention in the prisoner of war centre.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] If I understand you well, you
7 are a former officer who was educated in the JNA. You know all the rules,
8 all the regulations. You understand about the military prosecutor's
9 office, the military courts and prisoners of war, and you know that one
10 cannot be detained if there's no decision of a military court or a
11 military judge. Did you know all that or did you not know this? Did you
12 not know about this rule?
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] As the former officer of the former
14 army, of course I am familiar with the Geneva Conventions and the
15 international humanitarian law, and I know very well who can enjoy the
16 status of a prisoner of war and who cannot. And also, as an officer of
17 the armed forces of the Croatian army and at my arrival in
18 Bosnia-Herzegovina, we applied the same rules in Croatia.
19 MR. MUNDIS:
20 Q. Mr. Biskic, can you please turn to document 7148, P 07148. Are
21 you familiar with this document, sir?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Can you tell us what this document is, please?
24 A. This is the record made at this meeting which was held on the 11th
25 of December, 1993. At this meeting we discussed the ways to implement the
1 decision of the president of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna on
2 dismantling all the collection centres in the territory of the Croatian
3 Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina [as interpreted]. I emphasise this is a
4 record. This is not a transcript.
5 Q. Mr. Biskic, you chaired this meeting on this day; is that
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. Do you recall reviewing these minutes after the meeting in
9 December 1993?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Do you recall whether there were anything reported in these
12 minutes that were incorrect or inaccurate?
13 A. Well, I don't believe anything was recorded that was inaccurate,
14 although I'm sure that not everything that was discussed was entered into
15 the minutes, because the minutes are not the same as stenographic notes.
16 But of course the key issues are contained there.
17 Q. Now, there's reference in this -- in these minutes to some
18 information conveyed by Mr. Berislav Pusic concerning the location of
19 detention centres in HR HB. Do you remember that?
20 A. Yes. Mr. Berislav Pusic was present at the meeting, and he took
21 the floor at the meeting.
22 Q. Do you remember what he said about the detention centres on the
23 territory of the HR HB and where they were located?
24 A. As far as I can see from these minutes, the first thing that
25 Mr. Berislav Pusic said was about the situation in Livno 71 where -- and
1 Tomislavgrad 42 and Gabela 1.256. I assume that that is correct.
2 Q. Well, if you look above that, sir, it says after Colonel Biskic's
3 opening remark Mr. Berislav Pusic took the floor. This is about four
4 paragraphs above what you were just referring to. Do you see that?
5 A. Yes, that's correct.
6 Q. And there's reference to detention centres operating in Capljina,
7 Gabela, Mostar, Heliodrom, Tomislavgrad, Livno, Prozor, Ljubuski?
8 A. Yes, that's correct. Before what Mr. Pusic said, I think that
9 it's when he took the floor first, he says where the detention centres
10 existed, and I think that coincides with later reports on the dismantling
11 of these centres. Sujica is probably the Tomislavgrad area, because
12 Sujica is in the vicinity of Tomislavgrad, but I can't claim that there
13 wasn't a centre in Sujica itself.
14 Q. Now, Mr. Biskic, according to the list of attendees at the top of
15 these minutes, it would appear that Mr. Goran Dodig, the assistant to the
16 Republic of Croatia minister of defence, was present. Do you recall if
17 Mr. Dodig was in fact present?
18 A. Mr. Goran Dodig was present at the meeting. I don't know in what
19 capacity though. I don't believe he was assistant to the minister of
20 defence of the Republic of Croatia. I don't think he appeared in that
21 capacity, but otherwise he's a physician and was born in the area of
22 Herzegovina, but I don't his exact role.
23 Q. So you don't -- just to be clear, you don't know his capacity or
24 role. You don't know why Mr. Dodig attended the meeting; is that correct?
25 A. Well, I don't know in what capacity he was there and who assigned
1 him to the meeting or invited him to the meeting, because I did not.
2 Q. Okay. Can you turn, sir, to the next document, 7194, P 07194. Do
3 you see this document, sir, 7194?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Are you familiar with this document?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. This reference in the first paragraph of the document to the
8 killing of a prisoner in the Gabela detention centre, can you elaborate
9 upon that, or can you provide any further information on that?
10 A. All I can say is what it says here attached to this document or
11 letter that I sent to the acting head of the military police department.
12 And I think this event is one that Mr. Previsic mentioned at a meeting of
13 the 11th of December.
14 Q. Perhaps in light of that answer Mr. Biskic if you can return to
15 the previous document, which was P 07148, and I believe it's on page 4 of
16 the Croatian version of the document, and it's page 8 in the English
18 Do you recall Mr. Previsic, at this meeting on the 11th of
19 December, 1993, talking about an incident involving a detainee in Gabela?
20 A. Yes. Judging from these minutes, Mrs. Boko -- Mr. Boko Previsic,
21 was indeed present at the meeting, as were the warden of Ljubuski and
22 Gabela and Heliodrom. And in the minutes on page 4, if that is correct,
23 and I do believe it is, Mr. Previsic informed those present that he had to
24 protect himself because a prisoner had attacked him and that he was
25 killed. And this is confirmed by the document that you mentioned, and
1 that the International Committee of the Red Cross sent to certain
2 addressees and thus reached me too.
3 Q. Do you recall, Mr. Biskic, if this incident involving Mr. Previsic
4 and this detainee was investigated by anyone from the military police?
5 A. I don't know if an investigation was launched at that time. The
6 15th of December, 1993, document that you mentioned a moment ago, well, I
7 instructed the acting head of the military police that in conformity with
8 this letter from the ICRC he should undertake the crime investigation of
9 the incident to determine where the body of the prisoner was and whether a
10 death certificate had been issued.
11 Q. That's exactly why I'm asking, Mr. Biskic. I'm asking if you
12 recall whether there was any criminal processing or whether there were any
13 steps taken to locate the body or death certificate, whether you were
14 informed about any steps taken pursuant to that part of your letter of the
15 15th of December, which is P 07194.
16 A. I don't know what was undertaken. I can't say now, but I do
17 believe that in the documents of the military police and the Ministry of
18 Defence of HR HB there is quite certainly a document on the results of
19 this investigation.
20 Q. Do you recall what the results of that investigation were?
21 A. As I said, I can't remember, but I believe that the investigation
22 provided an answer to this and established the circumstances under which
23 this happened.
24 MR. MUNDIS: Mr. President, I note the time. I'm about to turn to
25 a rather lengthy -- rather lengthy document concerning minutes of a
1 meeting, and I suggest now might be the appropriate time to break for the
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Just a follow-up question before
4 we adjourn. You received from the ICRC a letter which speaks
5 about the death of a detainee in Gabela. When the Red Cross intervenes as
6 a general rule, they don't intervene for any -- on any minor matter.
7 Now, Mr. Pogaric addresses this letter to you and indicates
8 irregularities. Now, you who was in the -- you asked the administration
9 of the military police that an investigation be conducted.
10 Now, in view of the circumstances of this incident, should you not
11 have done everything you could to see the results of the investigation,
12 because you knew full well that the Red Cross wouldn't have forgotten this
13 incident? So didn't you wonder what had happened and what the results of
14 the investigation were?
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, let me emphasise once again
16 that during that period of time I had a lot of work to do. I had to work
17 18 hours a day sometimes. And I do believe that an answer or a result was
18 forthcoming, but at this point in time I can't remember what the results
19 were. But whenever we received an a letter from the ICRC that came at the
20 time that I was there, the military police administration answered them
21 directly and sent their letter to me attention, and I do believe that
22 there was an answer to this and a result, because I don't think that the
23 International Red Cross committee raised the issue again. I can't say for
24 sure, but as I say, I don't remember that they did follow it up, which
25 means that they must have received an answer.
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you. We will adjourn
2 until tomorrow. We'll see you back, Witness, at 2.15 tomorrow. We're
3 sitting in the afternoons this week.
4 And I'd like to ask the registrar to check how much time the
5 Prosecution has used up. I would say that they have used up at least
6 three hours. You're nodding. So Mr. Mundis probably has three hours
8 Yes, you've used up three hours and nine minutes, so I was nine
9 minutes out of the time you used.
10 Anyway, we reconvene tomorrow at 2.15. And, Witness, between now
11 and then please do not speak to anybody, the Prosecutor or anybody else,
12 about your testimony.
13 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 6.59 p.m.,
14 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 6th day
15 of March, 2007, at 2.15 p.m.