1 Wednesday, 7 March 2007
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The witness entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 2.14 p.m.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Registrar, call the case,
8 THE REGISTRAR: Good afternoon, Your Honours. This is case number
9 IT-04-74-T, the Prosecutor versus Prlic et al.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. Registrar.
11 On this Wednesday we're going to continue the proceedings, and if
12 the registrar has no IC numbers to give us, I'm going to give the floor to
13 Mr. Praljak straight away, and he has exactly 23 minutes left.
14 WITNESS: MARIJAN BISKIC [Resumed]
15 [Witness answered through interpreter]
16 THE ACCUSED PRALJAK: [Interpretation] Good afternoon,
17 Your Honours. Good afternoon to the Prosecution.
18 Cross-examination by the Accused Praljak: [Continued]
19 Q. [Interpretation] And good afternoon, General. I have seven and a
20 half more minutes from Counsel Alaburic, but I hope that I'll be able to
21 get through my cross-examination before that. I'd like to have document P
22 04235 shown, please, P 04235. It's a document dated the 16th of August,
23 1993, and when the witness arrived and at a meeting in Zagreb, I'm sure,
24 too, he was or had to have been informed of the previous situation. I'm
25 going to show him what all this looked like on the ground and what the
1 actual state of affairs was.
2 This document is one which I as the HVO commander requested from
3 my commanders. I asked them to provide me with a report about the
4 situation on the battlefield and what the units there were, and then I
5 wrote myself a report, because I was in the Uskoplje area at the time.
6 But can you see the document, sir?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. It says here that at the Rama-Uskoplje battlefield 20 units were
9 engaged with a total of 4.424 men in 20 units, and the 21st was the
10 artillery. Do you see those facts and figures?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Let us now look at my explanations. Out of the total number, and
13 I'm writing this for myself, for my own purposes for the Main Staff,
14 deduct 10 per cent for various reasons, sickness, death, and so on, and if
15 you deduct from that all the logistics and the accompanying service and
16 the fatigue of the men from Jajce and 40 per cent of these Sebesici people
17 were psychologically, mentally disturbed, and part of the Bugojno people
18 had escaped of the 5th Guards Brigade, there are only 130, the only proper
19 unit numbering 20 men at the time, it says up at the top there, was
20 Filipovic's, and pursuant to an oral order they are supposed to leave the
21 area and in fact most of them have already left, and there are no Klica's
23 Now, my comment is not commensurate to the thinking of the
24 American army or foreign legion, but I see -- I see at the bottom --
25 THE INTERPRETER: Would the accused repeat the word he said,
1 please. Could he repeat the word. Could Mr. Praljak repeat the word he
3 THE ACCUSED PRALJAK: [Interpretation] May we have the document
4 raised up, please, so we can see the bottom of the document.
5 Q. And at the end my comment is of a report that I'm writing actually
6 to myself, I say "Fuck it." So do you see that down there, sir?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. According to your information, when you arrived later on was --
9 the situation in these volunteer units was -- the situation in these
10 volunteer units of the HVO were such that the only possible comment was
11 precisely the comment that I wrote down on that document?
12 A. General, retired General, now, we were informed of this same
13 situation by General Tole, the facts and figures are more or less the same
14 and the same thing was confirmed at the beginning of the operation in the
15 Uskoplje area. There were a lot of units, while very few operationally
16 capable people.
17 Q. Tell me, did the operation in Uskoplje fall through?
18 A. It was stopped sometime in mid -- or, rather, at the end of
19 November because we didn't have enough manpower.
20 Q. Since we're discussing this point and you were down there, I had
21 to go back to Uskoplje in order to see to the situation there to prevent
22 the breakthrough of the BH army into Rama.
23 A. I don't remember that. I was involved on other assignments and
24 tasks. I really can't answer that question.
25 Q. Thank you. Let's move on to P 06482. 6482. The document that's
1 going to appear is dated the 6th of November, that is to say two days
2 before your arrival in 1993. I am issuing an order for meeting to be held
3 and that -- to attend the meeting are all commanders of the areas,
4 brigades, all the commanders. Bruno Busic, Ludvig Pavlovic, and other
5 units. Do you see that order?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. It says in point 4 there that the meeting will take place in
8 Tomislavgrad on the 7th of November, 1993, and that it will commence at
9 1800 hours. The signature there - may we have the next page, please - is
10 Major General Slobodan Praljak. Do you see that signature? Can we have
11 the page turned, please?
12 A. I haven't got it up on the screen yet. I can see it now.
13 Q. So can we note -- do you agree with me there that two days
14 before your arrival I called for a meeting of all my commanders in
16 And now I'd like to have the next document, 3D 00793. 3D 00793.
17 It's the minutes from that meeting, and it says at the top that it is
18 Tomislavgrad on the 7th of November, the Croatian Community of
19 Herceg-Bosna, and so on and so forth, and that the meeting was held on the
20 7th, and you can see what else it says. While we've got the first page up
21 on our screens. This has been sent to the president of the Croatian
22 Republic of Herceg-Bosna, the Sabor parliament of the HR HB, to the
23 government of the HR HB, and to the Main Staff of the HR HB. Can you see
24 all that?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Then we have the points listed with the requests, instructions,
2 demands. The government of the HR HB should immediately sit down to hold
3 a meeting and keep meeting until the teams visit the field and units
4 and -- as well as to bring decisions which are commensurate to the field
6 Second, that government commissioners must be appointed with all
7 authorisation instead of municipal HVO commissioners.
8 Now, in your work, was it one of the most difficult things to see
9 how the municipal organs and authorities were -- for instance, their
10 relationship to the army and everything else?
11 A. Yes. That's what most of the commanders said, and those are the
12 kinds of reports that I received.
13 Q. I haven't got time to elaborate the influence that existed, so
14 we'll leave that to a later date.
15 It talks about the mobilisation of all available manpower, and
16 then in point 5 it says to establish rigorous control on the border with
17 RH, referring to the fluctuation of men and goods, merchandise.
18 Now, an individual or a group of people in Herceg-Bosna, soldiers,
19 could they just take off their uniforms, leave their rifles, cross the
20 border, and go to Croatia without anybody doing anything?
21 A. Check-points had been erected. Now, how far they were efficacious
22 before my arrival, I can't say. I don't know. But with my arrival we
23 became more rigorous in allowing people to leave Herceg-Bosna.
24 Q. General, do you know that today the borders between Croatia and
25 Bosnia-Herzegovina have more than 300 secret passages?
1 A. I didn't speak of those passages. I was speaking about the
2 check-points where control was enforced, but I'm sure there were many
3 other points that weren't controlled and where you could cross
5 Q. So can we conclude that they could leave without any sanctions
6 taken? You couldn't do anything effective to punish transgressions of
7 that kind; is that correct?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Now, in point 6 it says to stop one, and only one, command line,
10 line of command. Now, did you encounter that problem that different
11 people through different channels had different ways of influencing the
12 system of command within the HVO?
13 A. Well, we tried to establish a firm line of command or chain of
14 command. We did a lot in at that respect.
15 Q. Thank you. Now, look at the commanders, officers of the HR HB
16 of the military districts of Tomislavgrad and Mostar. The others, for
17 well known reasons, from Central Bosnia and Posavina were not able to
19 May we look at page 2, please. Page 2 on the screen, please.
20 There you have the list of names. Tell me, please, are those all
21 the commanders from this area? Did all the commanders sign this?
22 A. Well, I can see their names on the screen, and I can say that I
23 know a lot of them.
24 Q. Thank you. Now, next document is 3D 00796. 3D 00796.
25 The document that's going to come up on your screen now refers to
1 a meeting of a smaller number of my commanders -- or, rather, of
2 commanders. The meeting was held in Tomislavgrad on the 26th of October,
3 1993. Can you see that?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. And it goes into more details and addresses the problems in a
6 clearer fashion as regards the army. And if you take a look at the second
7 paragraph, you will see what we're requesting.
8 First of all, military activities are addressed, which would
9 ensure the legitimate historical and democratic goals of the Croatian
10 people and its survival in these areas. So we're not speaking about a
11 state, about separation, or anything else. We're talking about
12 democratic, legitimate goals of a constituent peoples people and its
13 survival there. Can you see that?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. In point 1 it says: "The time has come when will we're no longer
16 able to establish the army on the basis of voluntariness, on voluntary
17 principles. If the conditions for introducing the regular army still do
18 not exist, we must establish mobile stand-by brigades proportionately to
19 all the municipal territories."
20 Do we agree that these mobile brigades mean that they're not
21 closely connected to the territory of a municipality which with the
22 influence that a community can wield, especially as the municipality has
23 paid them? Is that right? Is that how we can understand this
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Now, look at point 3. The same thing is repeated. "It is also
2 necessary to adopt regulations on blocking all border crossings in order
3 to regulate the entrance and exit of military conscripts ..."
4 This is a problem that you encountered, too, did you not?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. In point 4 it says: "To deal with the status of deserters."
7 I'm sure you had the problem of deserters and had to deal with the
9 A. Yes, we did have that problem, and 3.500 or 4.000 people were
11 Q. Were there a lot of people who were put in prison?
12 A. I don't know.
13 Q. Do you know that a single person was -- who was convicted for
14 desertion actually served a prison sentence?
15 A. I didn't have information like that when I was down there. I
16 don't know.
17 Q. In point 5 it says to: "Regulate the composition of the active
18 military police and instructions as well as criteria for work contain
19 special instructions on arrest and bringing into custody deserters."
20 So here we're dealing with deserters again. Are you aware that
21 the people that remain on the battlefront find it very difficult to see
22 other people fleeing and nothing done to punish them? Does that undermine
23 the morale of the soldiers?
24 A. Well, yes, it does in a way.
25 Q. Thank you. Do you know that the HVO had a set of rules on
2 A. Yes, but I didn't see it.
3 Q. "We," in point 7, "demand that a disciplinary code be created for
4 units which shall correspond to the war conditions."
5 May we have page 2, please. Page 2, point 9.
6 It says: "To establish criteria on the return of all students to
7 the units including discontinuation of their college education until the
8 end of the war."
9 Do you know that a lot of young people appeared to enroll in
10 university courses in order to -- not to have the duty to defend the
11 territory of the HR HB? They registered fictitiously.
12 A. Well, I don't know whether they actually registered or not, but I
13 know that a large number of them did apply for university courses.
14 Q. And then it -- it goes on to say that at the level of the
15 municipality everybody used the influence they could wield, and they would
16 go before medical commissions to be classed as incapable for military
17 service and thus not have to do any military service or fight.
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Item 11: "Ask the government of the Republic of Croatia to revoke
20 all refugees from municipalities of Herceg-Bosna from their refugee
21 identifications in order to be returned to brigades."
22 Do you know that people simply transferred to Croatia, registered
23 themselves as refugees?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. And they were no longer concerned in the least about whether they
1 were liable for military service in the republic of Croatia and
2 Herzegovina and the Croatian community of Herceg-Bosna, because both the
3 ABiH and the HVO were regular units of the Republic of Bosnia and
4 Herzegovina; is that correct? Do you have that information yourself?
5 A. Yes, I do.
6 JUDGE PRANDLER: I only would like to ask you if this point 11,
7 when it says that you are asking the government of the Republic of Croatia
8 to revoke -- excuse me, to revoke all refugees from municipalities of
9 Herceg-Bosna from the refugee identifications in order to be returned to
10 brigades compositions, I wonder if this kind of demand or asking the
11 government would have been in conflict with the rules to be applied
12 internationally on refugees or on other people, because I really feel
13 that -- that if a refugee left his or her country and would like to stay
14 for well-established reasons, then probably it is a bit too much to ask
15 for the government to revoke their kind of certification and permission
16 to stay in their country. So I wonder if that issue was considered.
17 And although the witness answered to this question after you asked
18 him, "Do you have that information yourself," he said that, "Yes, I do,"
19 but then in this case probably that was a kind of cooperation between
20 the government of the Republic of Croatia and your government and
22 So it is my question if you consider this issue for revoking the
23 permissions as legally established.
24 THE ACCUSED PRALJAK: [Interpretation] Judge Prandler, here it says
25 not to refugees but refugees who are liable for military service. So
1 we're talking about deserters, not about refugees. No one touched the
2 refugees. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia had an agreement at the time
3 on military cooperation and an agreement on military cooperation -- the
4 agreement on military cooperation signed by Tudjman and Izetbegovic also
5 provided for the fact that a deserter in one country can't be considered
6 as a refugee in another country. That's what item 11 is about.
7 Q. Mr. Biskic, do you agree with what I have said?
8 A. Yes. Here we are discussing men who are liable for military
10 Q. Let's have a look at item 13 --
11 JUDGE PRANDLER: I'm sorry, I only would like to ask -- the
12 witness has confirmed that meaning, but on the other hand, at least in the
13 English translation, there is no mentioning of a kind of -- those who are
14 deserters, but it says, "demand from the government," et cetera, "to
15 revoke all refugees from municipalities," and it is only in the end it is
16 said that, "in order to be returned to brigades' compositions," but it
17 could be interpreted in a way that they were not members of the brigade
18 before. But anyway, you wanted to include them and to -- to draw them
19 into the military brigades after -- when they returned. But anyway, I
20 took -- I took, in a way, into consideration what both the witness and the
21 Accused Praljak said. Thank you.
22 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's comment: The English translation
23 is faulty.
24 THE ACCUSED PRALJAK: [Interpretation]
25 Q. I will ask the translators, the interpreters to precisely
1 interpret item 11. Could General Biskic read it out?
2 A. "Demand that the government of the Republic of Croatia revoke the
3 status of refugees for all refugees who are liable for military service if
4 they're from the municipality of Herceg-Bosna, and they should be sent
5 back to brigades in the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna."
6 Q. Thank you, sir, this is very clear now. People liable for
7 military service who fled from HR HB brigades, is that how we should
8 interpret item 11?
9 A. Yes. That's how I understand the item, and I know this is a
10 problem that did exist.
11 Q. Thank you very much. Let's move on to item 13. "Show no mercy
12 when dealing with the black market and crime, and urgently take the
13 following measures: Have -- hold a meeting with all the chiefs of the
14 SIS; have identical criteria for the work of the civil police, the
15 military police, the active forces, and the brigade military police in all
16 SIS services; create regulation codes on establishment of military police,
17 create the regulation code for the work of the border police," et cetera,
18 et cetera.
19 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
20 THE ACCUSED PRALJAK: [Interpretation]
21 Q. It was forwarded to the Prime Minister, the minister of defence,
22 and the command of the HVO Main Staff. And have a look at the
23 signatories. Do you know these commanders of brigades and of military
24 districts, sir?
25 A. I can't see the signatures.
1 Q. Could we scroll up, please. Scroll up, please. It's in
3 A. I can see the names now.
4 Q. Can you confirm that you know these people on the whole?
5 A. Yes, most of them. I know almost all of them.
6 Q. General, did you come across the same problems? Did you try to
7 deal with them?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Let's now have a look at the following document -- or, rather, I
10 have something else I would like to raise. At a meeting in Zagreb that
11 you had on the 6th of November, 1993 were such problems analysed? Were
12 you informed of the nature of the problems that existed down there?
13 A. Well, not perhaps to this extent, but problems that concerned the
14 Uskoplje area in Central Bosnia were discussed, and according to what
15 General Tole said, one could draw the conclusion that there were in fact
16 many problems.
17 Q. Very well. Were you aware of the fact that General Tole, the
18 chief of my HVO staff at the time, was in Zagreb, although I was unaware
19 of the fact and had not authorised that?
20 A. I wasn't aware of that.
21 Q. On the basis of these documents, can one see, and this is the
22 conclusion you reached down there as well, that the social systems in that
23 area were almost completely paralysed for reasons that we can't go into
24 right now? Could we put it in this way, roughly speaking?
25 A. Well, yes, in a certain sense, although I wouldn't go into giving
1 an assessment of the civil structures, but as far as the chain of command
2 is concerned, when we arrived there, there were many problems, and this
3 also includes some problems that concern mobilisation, logistics, and the
4 entire security system or providing security for a sufficient number of
5 HVO members who were to engage in defence at the front line.
6 Q. And this was because of the duration of the war, the number of the
7 dead and the wounded, the number of refugees, fear, exhaustion, despair.
8 Is what I have just said correct?
9 A. It's correct.
10 Q. There were international plans and meetings that yielded no
11 results; is that correct?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Are you aware of the fact at a meeting in Split on the 5th of
14 November, 1993, I, because of such unresolved problems, offered my
15 resignation but also asked that Mate Boban resign because of the desperate
16 situation? Were you aware of such information?
17 A. No.
18 Q. Could we now see 3D 00405. 3D 00405. It's an information from
19 SIS in Rama on an incident in Prozor. It's -- it concerns the military
20 police. The source, SIS employees. This is what it says. The
21 information has been checked. Is that what it says?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. At the time you were down there in the area?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. And here it says, after -- it says that Mr. Andabak had a
1 suggestion for the new command, it says that there was a revolt on
2 behalf -- or carried out by part of the military police. And there was a
3 refusal to obey the new command. And then it says these people are under
4 the leadership of Ante Baketaric. They were led by Ante Baketaric. They
5 came to the military police building. They took charge of the radio set,
6 weapons, ammunition, and an armed combat vehicle, and they moved all of
7 these items to the Duga restaurant where they apparently have a new base.
8 And then it says in that way UN passage was also blocked. The UN was
9 passing by at the time, and the passage of a number of buses transporting
10 soldiers to their shift on the Uskoplje battlefield was also blocked.
11 A. We should scroll up so that we can see the second page of the
13 Q. Here it says afterwards there was an all-out shoot -- an all-out
14 shoot-out in the town and thousands of bullets were fired and the town of
15 Prozor was blocked. Are you familiar with this incident?
16 A. Yes, I'm familiar with the incident. I cannot now remember all
17 the details, but for the first two months that I spent down there we
18 frequently had to deal with problems in Rama.
19 Q. And were there such problems or similar problems in other parts of
20 the HZ HB? Was there shooting, drugs? Was there looting, banditry? Were
21 there dead people every day?
22 A. Well, not every day in all area, but, yes, there were such cases.
23 Q. Well, I don't really mean every day in all places and so on, but
24 was the number of such incidents, such problems, so significant that it
25 wasn't possible to deal with these problems for months? We can see this
1 on the basis of your reports too.
2 A. I think that we were gradually gaining control of the situation in
3 December when the civil police started acting, and I think that such
4 problems were less frequent in February, March, April, and after that
6 Could we now see 3D 00113, please. 3D 00113.
7 This is also a report from Mr. Zvonko Katovic. We will see this
8 on the last page. He's the deputy commander for the SIS in the
9 Tomislavgrad military district. It's addressed to the Main Staff in
10 Posusje, and to the SIS administration in Mostar.
11 Can you see this document?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. It's Tomislavgrad. The date is the 20th of June, 1994. And this
14 is a report on the problems that existed, and there are dates mentioned.
15 Unfortunately, I can't go through the whole report, but we'll first
16 discuss the well-known event of the 25th of February, 1994?
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Just a minute before we move
18 on. You have already used up one minute of Mr. Petkovic's time, so all
19 the additional time you take up shall be deducted from Mr. Petkovic's
20 time, and I believe that Mr. Petkovic only gave you seven minutes.
21 Counsel Alaburic, how much time has the accused been granted?
22 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, we agreed on
23 allocating General Praljak seven and a half minutes, which is what -- in
24 fact what Mr. Praljak said.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So you have already taken up
1 half a minute extra, Mr. Praljak.
2 THE ACCUSED PRALJAK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I will now
3 conclude. I would just like to comment on this document, and then I will
5 Q. Sir, are you familiar with this report?
6 A. Not with the report because at the time I was no longer in
7 the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna. As for the event of the 25th
8 of February, yes, I'm familiar with that event. We discussed it
10 Q. Are you familiar with the event in which a certain Banja Luka hit
11 and captured Colonel -- Colonel Skender in December 1993?
12 A. Yes. I think it was in December 1993.
13 Q. Can you see that there were two men killed here, that three tanks
14 were taken out?
15 A. No, I can't see it here.
16 Q. It's the second paragraph -- or, rather, the third one. It says
17 three tanks were brought in front of the building where the command post
18 was located and they threatened to destroy it. Can you see that in the
19 third paragraph?
20 A. Yes, I can see it in the third paragraph.
21 Q. You're familiar with that event? Yesterday I asked you and you
22 said that you didn't know whether they called me to assist --
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Praljak, put your final
24 question that relates to this document. What is it that you want the
25 witness to tell you with regard to the contents of the document? And
1 everyone has read the document.
2 THE ACCUSED PRALJAK: [Interpretation]
3 Q. Many problems are referred to in this document, problems that
4 occurred in the municipality at the time that you were present there. Are
5 you familiar with these problems, and how much time did you need in order
6 to bring order to just one municipality in order to gain control of just
7 one municipality?
8 A. Well, as far as Rama is concerned, it was really a municipality
9 which required a lot of work, a lot of effort.
10 Q. Thank you, General.
11 THE ACCUSED PRALJAK: [Interpretation] I have now concluded my
12 cross-examination. I have now finished.
13 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours.
14 Cross-examination by Ms. Alaburic:
15 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Biskic, good afternoon.
16 A. Good afternoon.
17 Q. I am Defence counsel for General Milivoj Petkovic, and will
18 address you as such, and I'm going to go through some of the things we've
19 already heard. I shall ask you for more detailed information, and, asked
20 by Judge Trechsel something, I don't think the answer was quite correct.
21 So we'll deal with that. But I would like to provide their Judges with
22 more comprehensive answer to what General Praljak asked you about the
23 refugee ID cards for persons who were liable for military service, who
24 were conscripts.
25 So, Mr. Biskic, to the best your knowledge, the regulations that
1 were in force in Herceg-Bosna at the time, did they state that men, if
2 going abroad, must be given permission from the municipality where they
3 were resident?
4 A. I assume so, yes, because most of the regulations were inherited
5 from the former state, and that was an obligation that had to be
7 Q. In your opinion, the request that Mr. Praljak asked you about, did
8 it relate precisely to military conscripts who had gone to another state,
9 the Republic of Croatia, without permission from the department of
11 A. Yes. That's how I understood it.
12 Q. Thank you. Now, Mr. Biskic, you told us that in November 1993
13 you came to Herceg-Bosna, and you told us that you became assistant
14 command -- assistant chief of the Main Staff for the military police; is
15 that right?
16 A. Yes. At the beginning I was taken to that duty without any
17 appointment papers. I was orally appointed, in fact, to that post.
18 Q. And you told us that nobody had occupied that post before you?
19 A. That's what I had been told.
20 Q. You said that that is why there was no hand-over of duty because
21 there were no papers, no documents, nor was there an individual whom you
22 can take over this duty from; is that correct?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Now, since in the transcript my question wasn't recorded in line
25 7, 8, and 9 of this page, let me repeat that it was the assistant chief of
1 the Main Staff of the HVO. That was the title.
2 A. I apologise, but I have to correct you. There was no -- it wasn't
3 a commander, but the chief of staff was General Ante Roso, and I was the
4 assistant for the SIS and military police but without this establishment
6 Q. Yes. The -- we know that for a time the term used was the
7 commander of the Main Staff, and later on and before that it was chief of
8 the Main Staff. But anyway, it was the same post meaning the number one
9 man in the Main Staff; right?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Now, some three weeks later you were appointed assistant minister
12 for security.
13 A. Yes. That was on the 1st of December.
14 Q. Can we then agree that in the Main Staff before you there was
15 not -- no person dealing with military security and the military police?
16 A. As far as I know, from that period of time there was no person who
17 performed those duties.
18 Q. Can we then conclude that the time you spent in the Main Staff was
19 about three weeks and that that was a sort of timeout until the
20 regulations were compiled in the defence department and the prerequisites
21 laid down for your appointment as assistant security minister?
22 A. Yes, you can understand it that way, with the proviso that already
23 in November I began working with Minister Jukic.
24 Q. All right. Fine. Now, I'd like Mr. Biskic to try and analyse how
25 come in the Main Staff nobody before you, and I hope you'll agree, or
1 after you for that matter, performed the security tasks within the
2 military police. Let us take a look at the security service first.
3 Do we agree that we use the term SIS, S-I-S, and we are thinking
4 of the security and information service; is that right? Shall we clear
5 that point up?
6 A. Yes, that's right.
7 Q. Now, was SIS the administration -- an administration or department
8 in the Ministry of Defence?
9 A. Yes. It was a defence department and later a department in the
10 Ministry of Defence.
11 Q. And was there a head, a chief at the top of that department?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Did the department have its organisational centres and
14 organisational units, which were called centres, and they were active in
15 a part of the territory of held -- of Herceg-Bosna? Would that be
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. At the head of that centre was the head of the centre; right? The
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Were there SIS employees in the commands of the military districts
22 of these areas in the HVO units as well?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Were there assistant commanders in the military districts and
25 brigades and other HVO units?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Were these assistant commanders for security responsible to the
3 superior centre or administration, and did they report back to the centre
4 or administration about all security related matters of interest?
5 A. Yes. They were supposed to report to the centres. The centres
6 were supposed to report to the administration, and also they were
7 duty-bound to send in reports to the commanders of the HVO units.
8 Q. Yes. That was my next question. So the commanders of units
9 were authorised to issue orders in the area of security or
10 counter-intelligence; is that right?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Now, in December 1993, you issued an order about competence and
13 authority in issuing orders within SIS. It is P 07258.
14 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] So may we have that document up on
15 e-court, and could the witness be provided with a set of my own documents,
16 a bundle of my documents, please, Usher. That will facilitate our work.
17 Q. Now, Mr. Biskic, the document is dated the 19th of December, 1993,
18 in which you explain the reporting to security service of the HVO, and on
19 the basis of this document of yours we drew up a schematic.
20 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] So it is 4D 00507, this schematic.
21 May we place it on the ELMO.
22 Q. Mr. Biskic --
23 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Perhaps we could ask the usher to
24 place the copy on the ELMO. The number is 4D 00507. So may we have it on
25 the overhead projector, please?
1 Q. Mr. Biskic, I don't want to spend too much time on the topic of
2 SIS, discussing SIS, but I'd just like to ask you to take a look at this
3 schematic, and document P 72 -- 07258 can compare the correctness of this
4 schematic. And I'm asking you, Mr. Biskic, whether on that --
5 A. I haven't got it up here yet. I can't see it.
6 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] The usher can take my copy and
7 place it on the ELMO. Usher.
8 These are the relationships and chain of command. Can we have a
9 look at the lower right-hand portion, because we didn't draw the diagram
10 for each military district because the organisation was the same for all
11 of them. So may we have a clear view of the lower right-hand corner.
12 Q. Mr. Biskic, can you tell us whether this schematic reflects the
13 relationships within all the institutions deal with matters of security?
14 A. Yes. In principle, yes, it does.
15 Q. Fine. Thank you.
16 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] I don't think we need tender this
17 as an IC document because we'll be tendering it as one of our own
19 Q. Now, Mr. Biskic, having seen this sketch, do we agree that the
20 Main Staff of the HVO does in the exist in the chart of the security
21 service system?
22 A. But as far as I remember, a department for security within the
23 Main Staff was established.
24 Q. When was it established? In December 1993?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. But it's not contained in your letter.
2 A. I think it was a surname beginning with "Ch." A gentleman whose
3 surname began with "Ch." He was appointed to that department.
4 Q. I can see nothing here related to the Main Staff.
5 A. Well, probably -- well, there are documents about the authority
6 and powers of that department, but he probably didn't have authority --
7 any authority towards the centres themselves, so that this diagram can be
8 accepted in principle, but I would be very happy if you could find that
9 part somewhere.
10 Q. Well, I don't know that there's a document like that which says
11 that a centre like that was established attached to the Main Staff.
12 A. It wasn't called centre. It was called department for security or
13 sector for security and probably it dealt with the security of the Main
14 Staff. But as I say, I can't say that with any precision.
15 Q. As it doesn't exist in your document, and there is no other
16 document about this, can we then conclude that up until the material
17 time in the Main Staff there was no organisational unit of SIS? Is that
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Now with respect to the military police, and we're going to deal a
21 great deal more with the military police, and I'm sure my colleagues will,
22 too, so I'll be brief about the military police, may we take a look at a
23 document that we discussed, and it is P 07018. It is an order of the then
24 minister of defence about the reorganisation of the military police. P
25 07018 is the document number. Just briefly. May we have a look at item 4
1 of this order. Would you please look at it, Mr. Biskic.
2 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Can we zoom in on item 4, point 4?
3 I can't see it.
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It says that -- I apologise, but I
5 can't see point 4, so may we scroll down the document? Can we scroll
7 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
8 Q. Mr. Biskic, this is in the Prosecution bundle.
9 A. Well, you can read it out.
10 Q. It says: "The management and come -- part of the military process
11 is done by the administration of the military police and then the
12 assignments and task are enumerated. It establishes the basis for the
13 development of the military police, the basis for the establishment of the
14 military police," and it goes on to enumerate the other tasks, and it says
15 that the military police administrations have obsolete priority in
16 implementing the tasks assigned to them.
17 Tell us, please, this authorisation command of the military
18 police, does that refer to all military police units?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Now, in points 4.3 and 4.4, we have the relationships between the
21 military police and certain HVO unit commanders, and this is interesting
22 from the aspects of the people from the Main Staff. And in point 4.3 it
23 says that the commanders of the 2nd and 3rd Battalion of the military
24 police in carrying out their daily tasks are subordinated to the
25 commanders of the HVO military districts, and I'm skipping a sentence now,
1 and it goes on to say, a report on the daily engagement shall be sent out
2 to the military police administration, to the commander of the military
3 district, to the assistant commander for SIS in the military district, to
4 the military prosecutor, the military court judge, and the MUP police
6 Tell me, Mr. Biskic, from this provision it would emerge that the
7 Main Staff is not in the chain of command vis-a-vis the 2nd and 3rd
8 Battalion of the military police. Is that correct?
9 A. Well, the Main Staff is in the chain of command towards the
10 military districts.
11 Q. Yes. But I'm asking you about the battalions of the military
13 A. That's quite right. There's no logic that this should be in that
14 particular chain of command, if we're going to speak about the hierarchy
15 of the chain of command.
16 Q. The Main Staff similarly in -- is not in the reporting chain.
17 A. Let me remind you of what we said yesterday. We looked at a
18 bulletin yesterday, and so in that sense daily reports were sent to the
19 Main Staff of the HVO as well, because reference is made here to the daily
21 Q. But there's no mention of the Main Staff?
22 A. When it comes to the level of the administration of the military
23 police then all the reports are collected together and the bulletin was
24 sent to the chief of the Main Staff as well. I'd like to remind you of
25 bulletin number 2 that we discussed, I think yesterday or the day
2 Q. So may we now conclude that these are individual reports, so
3 individual reports do not go to the Main Staff; is that correct?
4 A. No. No. Not as such, but in a processed form, a daily report for
5 all the areas of responsibility of military police units, from the 17th of
6 November they did receive them, and I do believe that this was --
7 reporting was similar prior to that. But as of that date they did receive
8 reports on daily engagement.
9 Q. Mr. Biskic, let's clarify what we mean by collective reports and
10 individual reports so that we avoid any misunderstanding. I don't think
11 that there is any misunderstanding.
12 A. No, there isn't. I think we're speaking -- talking about same
13 thing and I'll try and explain.
14 Q. Well, there's no need because we seem to be spending too much time
15 on this and I have more important topics to deal with. So please tell me
16 now --
17 MR. KARNAVAS: If they could slow down a little --
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Counsel Alaburic, you're not
19 wasting time. What you're saying is very important, and this leads me to
20 ask a question, and I have to ask this question.
21 General, the Petkovic Defence team is asking you if, in the
22 chain of command, according to the chain of command, the Main Staff,
23 which at the time was helped by General Roso, but before that was headed
24 by General Petkovic, was within the chain of command concerning military
25 police matters, and the Defence counsel maintains that it is not.
1 Now, it would appear from your answers that on several occasions
2 you indicated that it was kept abreast of the situation through reports,
3 and now the Defence is distinguishing between general reports and
4 individual reports. But in looking at this particular document, I can
5 observe, and I'd like you to help me out here and tell me your position,
6 on the 3rd of December the minister of defence sends out an order to
7 everybody on the fact that the military police battalions were engaged,
8 the 1st Battalion Mostar, the 2nd in Livno, et cetera, et cetera. And
9 following on from what you suggest - and this is marked in the document -
10 we see here that it says, "With the agreement of General Roso."
11 Now, I want to understand this. If General Roso was not in this
12 chain of command, why did you ask for his agreement? On the other hand,
13 if he was in the chain of command, then we could understand that your
14 suggestion was also submitted to him for his approval. Can you see in
15 B/C/S the version of the document? It says, "With the agreement of
16 General Roso." It's in the document. So ...
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours -- Your Honour, I have
18 understood your question. Naturally the chief of the Main Staff agreed to
19 the new establishment of the military police. The chief of the Main Staff
20 is in command of all the units of the HVO. The chief of the Main Staff
21 has no reason to directly command the battalions of military police. He
22 can do so through military districts. And every order of the chief of the
23 Main Staff that was forwarded to me in order to engage additional military
24 police forces, well, naturally I thought such an order was binding, in my
25 opinion. As far as the system of reporting is concerned, there were daily
1 reports. Units would send reports to the military police administration.
2 They'd compile a summary report and forward the summary report to all the
3 addresses we discussed yesterday or the day before yesterday. When we
4 were discussing the bulletin of the military police, that's -- that
5 concerns daily engagement.
6 As far as specific tasks, though, that are concerned, that they
7 would receive from commanders of military districts, well, naturally,
8 given the line of reporting, if the commander of a military district
9 received a report, it was his duty to inform the main command, especially
10 if there was something of interest. And in this way the chief of the Main
11 Staff would receive information. It would be through the daily reports of
12 individual units. I'm talking about the period during which I was present
13 down there.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Counsel Alaburic, do
16 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] I'll continue from where I stopped
18 Q. Mr. Biskic, if I'm not mistaken, we agreed that the Main Staff is
19 not in the direct chain of command with respect to the military police.
20 It's not a part of the system of reporting as far as individual reports
21 are concerned, but they would receive a collective summary report from the
22 military police administration; is that correct?
23 A. Yes, it is.
24 Q. As far as the agreement of the chief of the Main Staff is
25 concerned, tell me, Mr. Biskic, are you familiar with the former rules on
1 the organisation and reorganisation of the military police?
2 A. Well, to an extent, yes.
3 Q. Tell me, in any of those documents and at any time, did you see a
4 signature that represented someone's agreement of the chief -- or, rather,
5 the agreement of the chief -- or, rather, the agreement of the chief of
6 the Main Staff or the commander of the Main Staff?
7 A. No, I didn't see that, but I must explain something to you.
8 Q. I'm only interested in whether you saw this or not.
9 A. No, I didn't.
10 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours --
11 JUDGE TRECHSEL: We are interested, Witness. If you have
12 something to explain, please do explain.
13 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] I would just like to say that I
14 have nothing against the witness explaining this, but I would then be
15 grateful if the -- his answer wasn't deducted from my time. Thank you.
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I would like to explain that this
17 order was in a certain sense an order that regulated the system of command
18 at the time. There was a new structure. And after this order there were
19 these booklets that were compiled in the department for the structuring of
20 the HVO. I can't remember who did it. And then there was a new rule book
21 on the work of the military police that was signed by the president of the
22 Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna. And previously there was also a rule
23 book on the work of the military police of the HVO. It was April 1993, I
24 think, and there were these booklets I have mentioned.
25 So this order, in a certain sense, when these booklets and rules
1 came into force -- well, in a certain sense you could say that these --
2 this order was subsequently put into those two documents, into the
3 booklet, and the rule book of the military police at the time that --
4 chief of the Main Staff did not express his agreement with regard to this
5 matter. That's what I wanted to explain to you.
6 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
7 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
8 Q. Mr. Biskic, in 1993 was the military police in the Republic of
9 Croatia organised in a more or less similar way?
10 A. Yes, in an almost identical way.
11 Q. Is it correct to say that today in the Republic of Croatia the
12 military police within the main -- is within the Main Staff of the
13 Croatian army?
14 A. Well, my answer will be yes, but at different times the military
15 police was structured in a different way in the armed forces the Republic
16 of Croatia.
17 Q. Very well. Now we can move on to another subject that concerns
18 detention centres and taking people out to perform labour, detainees out
19 to perform labour.
20 Mr. Biskic, we have seen minutes from meetings recently,
21 meetings that were held in order to implement the order of the late
22 President Mate Boban, an order of the 10th of December, 1993 that
23 concerns disbanding all detention centres. And if I have read it
24 correctly, at those meetings there were no representatives of the
25 Main Staff present.
1 A. I believe that you are right.
2 Q. Would you agree with me if I said that the HVO Main Staff had no
3 authority to establish or disband collection -- or, rather, detention
5 A. I didn't know who was authorised, and I didn't see the exact
6 contents of the decision of the president of Herceg-Bosna on disbanding
7 these centres. So that's the only answer I could provide to that
9 Q. Would you agree with me that the HVO Main Staff had no authority
10 to appoint or dismiss wardens of individual detention centres?
11 A. Well, I can't give you a precise answer to that question either,
12 because I didn't see any decisions. I didn't see who would sign such
13 decisions that concerned wardens. As far as the Heliodrom is concerned, I
14 think it was the military police administration that was responsible, but
15 I never saw such things.
16 JUDGE PRANDLER: Excuse me. Excuse me for interrupting you.
17 General, I would like only to ask you, you said before, and I believe
18 again you repeated, that, "I can't give you a precise answer," you said to
19 the counsel to that question, "if only because I didn't see any
20 decisions." And again before that you also mentioned that you didn't
21 know the content of the decision which was actually promulgated by
22 President Boban.
23 Now, I am a bit surprised, because yesterday you have taken note
24 of -- you took note of a document about a meeting which you yourself
25 convened, and you have been there and you explain that it was a meeting
1 about the implementation of the presidential decision. So I wonder if --
2 if I see here a problem here that you had to be aware what the decision
3 was and what was the background. So I wonder if you would enlighten me
4 about this issue. Thank you.
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I understand your
6 question. There's no problem as far as my answer concerns. Yesterday I
7 really did say that I hadn't seen a written decision. I hadn't seen the
8 contents of such a decision. I didn't know who was bound by this
9 decision. Mr. Jukic designated me as the person responsible for
10 disbanding those collection centres. That's what I said yesterday, and
11 I'm repeating this today.
12 And secondly, I didn't see a single decision on appointing
13 wardens of the previous collection centres apart from the fact that I on
14 the 8th of December, 1993, issued an order according to which there should
15 be a -- Mr. Stanko Bozic as an acting officer for the company for
16 collection centres. So I was implementing a decision of the president of
17 Herceg-Bosna, but I didn't see this decision in its written form.
18 JUDGE PRANDLER: Thank you very much for your answer.
19 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, maybe I can be of
20 assistance. The decision is really simple. There is one sentence. It's
21 quite simple. "All the collection centres should be disbanded," and
22 that's perhaps why this order wasn't copied. It was simply necessary to
23 find a way in which this decision could be implemented. Very well.
24 Q. Mr. Biskic, I'm asking you about the period up until your arrival,
25 if you have any information about this; if not, you can just say so and
1 then we can move on.
2 Did you ever see a decision of any kind or notes of any kind
3 according to which the Main Staff was establishing the rules of procedure
4 in a detention centre of any kind?
5 A. No, I never saw such a thing.
6 Q. Or, rather, the house rules.
7 Did you ever see a decision or notes according to which the Main
8 Staff was to participate in categorising people who had been deprived of
9 their liberty?
10 A. No, I never saw such an a thing.
11 Q. Yesterday we discussed Prosecution document P 07075. Mr. Biskic,
12 this is your letter dated the 18th of December, 1993, a letter on --
13 establishing a military police company to provide security for centre for
14 POWs. The date is the 8th of December, not the 18th, as it says in the
16 And there is one sentence in that letter of yours that I'm
17 particularly interested in. "I hereby forbid without approval of the
18 security service prisoners from being taken out to perform labour."
19 Sir, tell me, did you -- or, rather, did your sector have the
20 authority to issue permission to take detainees out to perform labour?
21 Did you have such authority?
22 A. Well, I didn't have such authority. The chief of the Main Staff
23 would authorise individuals in his orders. He quite precisely stated who
24 had such authority.
25 Q. What is the legal basis for order issued by General Roso? Can you
1 tell me that? And how was it possible for General Roso to order you to do
2 anything as the deputy minister of defence?
3 A. Well, I didn't say that General Roso issued an order to me.
4 General Roso issued an order to all HVO units, according to which it was
5 forbidden to take detainees out from collection centres, and he ordered
6 that all those who had been taken out of collection centres should be
7 returned to them. But since you have asked me a question about the letter
8 dated the 8th of December, and since the military police security to
9 provide -- that was designated to provide security for a collection centre
10 was under the military police, and under my sector, by virtue of that
11 fact, I stated in that item of my letter that I was making Mr. Bozic also
12 responsible to inform the sector of the letters he had received and that
13 referred to the order issued by the chief of the Main Staff.
14 Q. Mr. Biskic, would you agree with me that the chief of the Main
15 Staff, Mr. Roso, had no authority over the Heliodrom, but he did have
16 authority over HVO units?
17 A. Yes, I agree with that.
18 Q. Do you agree that the chief of the Main Staff can forbid his units
19 to take detainees out to perform labour, but he cannot order the Heliodrom
20 administration to act in any way when it comes to taking detainees out to
21 perform labour?
22 A. Well, it depends on how we interpret the chain of command. In
23 practice things were somewhat different.
24 Q. I'm interested in the chain of command. Could the chief of the
25 Main Staff issue an order of any kind to the prison warden -- or, rather,
1 to the warden of the collection centre?
2 A. I don't think he issued any such order, but if he had issued it,
3 it would certainly have been implemented.
4 Q. I'm now interested in legal matters. Was he in a position to
5 issue such orders? Did he have such authority? Do you agree that he did
6 not have the authority to issue such orders to the Heliodrom warden or to
7 the warden of any other collection centre?
8 A. Well, as I have already say, if the chief of the Main Staff had
9 ordered me to asked forces to the military police in any part of the
10 Republic of Herceg-Bosna, I would have carried out the order. I wouldn't
11 have asked myself whether he had the authority to issue such orders or
12 not, because it was a state of the war and it was also a matter of
13 implementing an order of someone who was at the head of the HVO, and this
14 is how we acted in Croatia.
15 JUDGE PRANDLER: [Microphone not activated]. For the sake of the
16 interpreters, may I ask you to slow down and to have a pause between your
17 questions and answers. Thank you.
18 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
19 Q. Mr. Biskic, in order for you to abide by such an order issued by
20 General Roso -- well, I understand what you have said, but what we are
21 interested in right now is the actual legal relationship between the chief
22 of the Main Staff, and in this specific case the deputy minister, and
23 we're interested in the authority for the -- that General Roso might have
24 to act in a certain way, the authority he has on a legal basis.
25 A. Well, he had no such legal basis to act, because I was not in the
1 Main Staff.
2 Q. Very well so we do agree as far as that is concerned. Now, let us
3 discuss an answer you gave to a question put to you yesterday by
4 Judge Trechsel, I believe. Judge Trechsel asked you the following: If
5 the Heliodrom warden had good grounds to believe that prisoners would be
6 taken out to perform labour at the front line, could he have refused the
7 request to hand other detainees to perform labour? Your answer was he
8 couldn't refuse to do this if there was authorisation from an authorised
9 official. Is that answer correctly quoted?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Mr. Biskic, at the time of the former Yugoslavia and right up
12 until the present in all the countries of the former Yugoslavia, do you
13 remember whether the rules on the armed forces established that a member
14 of the military who received an order to act in a criminal way could
15 refuse to act in such a way?
16 A. Yes. My answer is yes, but let me go back to the previous
17 explanation I provided you with, because we are now trying to guess
18 whether Stanko Bozic could have been aware of the situation.
19 Q. Judge Trechsel posed a very precise and definite question. He
20 said: "If he had good reason to believe that those prisoners would be
21 taken up to the front line." So it wasn't guesswork. It was a
22 probability. And in view of previous experience, perhaps the certain
23 knowledge that this would happen. So now the question was: Could the
24 warden have refused to let those detainees be taken out. Do you wish to
25 correct your answer, reconsider?
1 A. No, I don't want to consider my answer.
2 Q. Very well. Now, tell me, do we agree that criminal codes of the
3 SFRY to the present day in Croatia, and indeed in Bosnia-Herzegovina,
4 establish the right of a subordinate to refuse to carry out an order from
5 his superior if they consider it to be a serious crime, and especially if
6 they would consider it to be a war crime?
7 A. Yes, that's the case today and that was always the case.
8 Q. Tell me, do you consider that prison wardens belong to some sort
9 of hierarchical chain of responsibility and relationship to the Main Staff
10 or the Ministry of Defence or any other institution, for that matter,
11 whose member could demand that detainees be taken out to perform labour?
12 A. I'm not quite sure I understand your question. Could you repeat
13 it please.
14 Q. Do you agree that somebody can issue an order to somebody
15 else, somebody superior -- somebody subordinate to him in the chain of
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Now, in that sense, to whom was the warden subordinate to? Be
19 more specific.
20 A. Heliodrom.
21 Q. When you were there?
22 A. According to Mr. Lavric, the acting person of the 22nd of
23 November, it was the military police.
24 Q. Tell me, was any HVO unit able then to issue an order to the
25 warden of the Heliodrom?
1 A. Well, if we remember that the order from General Milivoj Petkovic
2 of October, we said that without permission from the Main Staff detainees
3 could be -- could not be taken out to perform labour. All I can say is
4 that the practice was that, if this came from the Main Staff, then the
5 warden of Heliodrom automatically complied with the order, but I'm
6 guessing here.
7 Q. Mr. Biskic, wouldn't it be proper, faced with a situation of that
8 kind, to call this, "request to be given prisoners" instead of an order?
9 Can we term it a "request"? Would you agree with me there?
10 A. Well, I don't know how the warden took this. I can agree with
11 you; however, I cannot say what the warden thought, so I can't tell you
12 what the warden had in mind and thought about this at that time.
13 Q. Now, do you know that the letters -- the documents were titled
14 "request" or things like that?
15 A. Well, as I say, I can't answer this because I didn't see the
16 documents which made the request.
17 Q. Regardless of practice and regardless of the fact that it wouldn't
18 enter anybody's mind not to comply with a request made by someone, in the
19 formal and legal sense would the warden of Heliodrom be authorised to
20 prevent detainees being taken out to perform labour, if he thought they
21 would be taken out to the front line?
22 A. Well, the answer I gave yesterday I gave using concrete examples
23 because I never saw somebody take them where they were forbid to go.
24 Q. I'm not asking you, Mr. Biskic, about what actually happened. I'm
25 asking you about authorisation, along the lines of Judge Trechsel. Could
1 the warden had done this if he had wanted to?
2 A. Well, most probably he could have. Now, what the repercussions
3 would have been, I don't know, but I assume that he could have. Had I
4 been in his place, that's probably how I would have acted.
5 Q. Now, do you know of any situations in which the -- with the change
6 of the warden of a detention centre the situation in the centre changed
7 drastically, including this matter of prisoners being taken out to perform
8 labour, thanks to this new number-one man in the prison, the new warden?
9 A. Well, I have no experience in that regard.
10 Q. Very well. Tell me now, please, Mr. Biskic, you and your
11 collaborators who came to Herceg-Bosna at that time and together with
12 everybody else who was there at the time invested great efforts to enforce
13 efficient and effective control over whether people were taken out to do
14 labour or not, and you encountered a great deal of difficulty, did you
16 A. Yes. It was a -- problems related to their return were also very
17 serious, as well as them being taken out in the first place.
18 Q. All right. And I'm sure one of my colleagues will ask you
19 about that so I'd like to move on to another area, and that is the
20 relationship between the civilian authorities and the military units, in
21 general terms.
22 Now, in the minutes from a meeting of the offices of the military
23 police dated the 14th of December, 1993, and this was Prosecution document
24 P 07169, the following was recorded, your words, that the municipal
25 brigades were being disbanded and that they were moving to a unified
1 salary list so that somebody could not receive a salary regularly, whereas
2 somebody else had not received a salary for three months. And this is
3 quotation which is on page 10 of the B/C/S text, and it is on page 23 of
4 the English.
5 Do you remember that? Do you remember saying that, Mr. Biskic?
6 A. Well, I saw that in the transcript, and I think that it is
8 Q. Can you explain to us what you meant by a municipal brigade?
9 A. Well, I said yesterday that some of the brigades of the Croatian
10 Defence Council were financed by the municipalities. There was no uniform
11 payment of salaries, and I attended meetings discussing that issue because
12 in some places in December the system of paying out salaries from the
13 defence ministry had started, and also at discussions at meetings with
14 respect to reporting from commanders and military districts, it was noted
15 that individual brigades were receiving their salaries on a regular basis,
16 whereas others had not received them for several months, so that these
17 municipal brigades -- well, that wasn't their official title and name, but
18 they were in part under the auspices, if I can put it that way, of the
20 Q. Tell me, when you arrived in Herceg-Bosna, did you come across a
21 situation by which this problem had been evidenced and that steps had been
22 taken to resolve it, or did you discover the problem?
23 A. No. I think the problem existed beforehand and that they were
24 doing their best to try and solve it.
25 Q. That's why I would like us to look at a document together now. It
1 is 4D 00508.
2 A. Is that this one here?
3 Q. Yes. It is 4D 00508, and they are the minutes from a government
4 meeting of the HR HB held on the 9th of October, 1993. The subject was
5 the military security situation, and reports were submitted by
6 Minister Stojic and Generals Praljak and Petkovic. And we can see that
7 they dealt critically with the functioning of the civilian authorities,
8 and in the second paragraph they say that -- they pointed out the adverse
9 consequences of the inconsistent application of rules and regulations and
10 the voluntariness in conduct on the part of the civilian authorities in
11 individual municipalities which affected the combat readiness and morale
12 of the soldiers and the functioning of a unified financial system, which
13 had a negative effect on securing the same materiel position for all of
14 the armed forces.
15 So is this the same problem that you noticed and tried to solve?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Let us see what the government tried to do to solve the problem.
18 And among other things, in point 2 it says that proposals will be made to
19 the house of representatives to enact regulations which would regulate
20 relationships between the central and local authorities, and, due to
21 wartime circumstances, that the authority would be centralised. And then
22 based on a unified financial system we must secure payments into the HR HB
23 budget, and so on.
24 Tell us now, please, Mr. Biskic, and this is something that
25 General Praljak asked you about, and it's a very important question for
1 us, this system of financing, did it strengthen the influence of the
2 municipal officials on the HVO units which were active on the territory of
3 individual municipalities?
4 A. Yes, certainly.
5 Q. Tell us, for that reason, the effective control of any central
6 organ including the Main Staff, was it significantly diminished because of
8 A. Yes.
9 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I see that the time
10 has come for us to take a break, so if we continue after the break.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes. It is 10 to 4.00 almost,
12 and we'll reconvene at 10 past 4.00.
13 --- Recess taken at 3.47 p.m.
14 --- On resuming at 4.10 p.m.
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The hearing is resumed. Counsel
16 Alaburic, you have 22 minutes left, or 21 minutes and 60 seconds to be
18 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Yes. Thank you, Your Honour. I
19 see that my last question on page 42, line 7 and 8 wasn't fully recorded,
20 so I'd like to repeat my question. It related to the financing system of
21 the brigade at the level of the municipalities and whether this system
22 strengthened the position of the municipal officials and their influence
23 on the military units which were active on the territory of individual
24 municipalities. That was my question, and the answer was, "Yes, of
25 course, yes, certainly."
1 Q. Is that right, Mr. Biskic, for the record?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. All right. Thank you. Now, as we're looking at the minutes of
4 the extraordinary government meeting, can we look at the last point which
5 relates to preventing crime, crime prevention. And I would like to ask
6 you the following in that regard, Mr. Biskic: Were there any complaints
7 from citizens about the conduct of members of the armed forces? Did the
8 public complain?
9 A. Well, I don't have any concrete examples, but in general terms,
11 Q. I'm particularly interested in hearing whether the Croat
12 population complained about certain adverse conduct on the part of the
13 armed forces, whether under the effects of alcohol or for some other
14 reason engaged in impermissible acts.
15 A. Directly, no, but judging by SIS and military police reports there
16 were complaints of that kind.
17 Q. All right. Thank you. Now a few words, Mr. Biskic, in view of
18 your enormous military experience, to help us understand some things that
19 happened in Herceg-Bosna better. If I understood you correctly, you said
20 you knew that the HVO -- or, rather, the armed forces of Herceg-Bosna
21 began to be established in April 1992. Is that right?
22 A. Well, my knowledge about that dates from that time.
23 Q. Can we agree then that this was a period when there were war
24 conflicts with the army of Republika Srpska and the former JNA?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. And after that -- or, rather, at the same time conflicts erupted
2 with the BH army; is that right?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. And we could conclude that in fact the army of Herceg-Bosna, the
5 HVO, was created exclusively under wartime conditions; is that right?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Now, you arrived in Herceg-Bosna in November 1993, which means
8 about a year and a half after the army of Herceg-Bosna had been
9 established; is that right?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Tell us, Mr. Biskic, from military literature and perhaps based on
12 your own experience as well, do you know of any case, any instance,
13 whereby an army was created under wartime conditions and that in the space
14 of a year from its inception or when the official decision was taken about
15 its establishment that it was able to function according to the book and
16 according to the rules and regulations that apply to an organised army
17 with a long-standing tradition? Would that -- could that have been
18 expected, with firm hierarchal relationships and everything else, of an
19 army in a democratic country?
20 A. Well, certainly not.
21 Q. Could you explain what the main problems were in establishing an
22 army in wartime, and what was realistically possible when establishing
23 that army and exerting control over that army? Or let me try and be more
24 precise. Is it possible in such a short space of time under wartime
25 conditions with a great many refugees, a very long front line, financial
1 problems, problems in mobilising the citizens, and the many other problems
2 that -- many of which were raised by General Praljak, was it possible to
3 have an army over which a commander or commanders, including the Main
4 Staff, really had effective control at all times in all places over every
6 A. No.
7 Q. Tell me, Mr. Biskic, please, army law, a legislation, can you have
8 all this legislation and the appointment of judges and so on, and the very
9 next day to have military courts which would function in the kind of way
10 that this functions in a normal, stable country which is at peace?
11 A. Certainly not.
12 Q. Do you have any knowledge as to how much time is needed for a
13 legal system and legislation to begin to function in keeping with rules
14 and regulations that apply in democratic countries?
15 A. I don't have that kind of experience. I can't answer. Do you
16 want me to answer?
17 Q. Yes, please.
18 A. I don't have any experience in that area, so it would be difficult
19 for me to say how much time would be needed for that to take effect.
20 Q. Now, if something is not clear, I was referring to military law,
21 and that's why Judge Trechsel wanted to interfere -- intervene. It wasn't
22 recorded clearly enough, but the witness answered with respect to the
23 functioning of the legal system and the justice system as it applies to
24 the army.
25 Mr. Biskic, do you have any experience and can you make any
1 comparison with the organisation of the army and legislation under wartime
3 A. I must say that this is an area that I have not studied, so it's
4 difficult for me to stay, but I know that all armies established at
5 wartime required a long time for all the systems to be established and
6 everything else.
7 Q. Would you agree with me that a commander or any other official in
8 the army or in -- the authorities in wartime conditions, when there is the
9 danger of having individual parts of the country being controlled by an
10 enemy army, that his primary efforts should be geared towards preventing
11 that from happening, that is to say to keep control of the territory and
12 preserve the entity that they are defending, or would it be his primary
13 task to attempt on the territory that they have under control to take
14 legal proceedings against some criminal acts? If you were faced with an
15 alternative, would it be logical to expect commanders to deal with the
16 first task in hand and almost exclusively so?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. When you explained how you arrived in Herceg-Bosna and how you
19 were engaged, and you referred to your interview with the OTP, and you
20 said there were so many problems and so many tasks that you had to carry
21 out that you were unable to worry about the past. You had to deal with
22 the present problems and establish a basis for the future. Is that
24 A. Yes, it is.
25 Q. Would you agree if I said that such rules were established and
1 such priorities that were established also applied to the period before
2 your arrival and especially concerned the period of the most intense war
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. And to conclude, there is one other thing I would like to ask you
6 about. In the spring of 1994, General Roso went away from the Main Staff.
7 Where did he go?
8 A. General Roso went to the Joint Staff of the HVO and the ABiH in
9 Sarajevo. I think it was April.
10 Q. Do you know who was then appointed as the chief of the HVO Main
12 A. Yes, General Milivoj Petkovic.
13 Q. Tell me, that was in the spring of 1994. Isn't that correct? In
15 A. Yes I don't know the exact date.
16 Q. Was that a time when it was necessary to implement the Washington
17 Agreement and also the military agreement on peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina
18 which was signed in Split on the 12th of March of that same year and it
19 became an integral part of the Washington Agreement?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Thank you very much.
22 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I have now concluded
23 my cross-examination. I just need to provide you with one explanation
24 since I still have a little time left. I would like to thank my
25 colleague, Daryl Mundis, who informed me of the documents that he wanted
1 to tender, although he hadn't presented them to the witness, Biskic. I
2 prepared part of my cross on the basis of that -- on -- I prepared for my
3 cross-examination on the basis of those documents, but as these documents
4 won't be tendered, I will conclude now.
5 Thank you, Witness.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Counsel.
7 The Judges have a question to ask you.
8 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I have a question, Mr. Biskic, which refers to
9 the interrogatory -- to the cross-examination by General Praljak, and it
10 relates to document 3D 00796. I did not want to interrupt at the time,
11 but -- so it comes a bit late now.
12 Can you find that? It is in the -- the file that was at your
13 disposal when General Praljak questioned you. This is the document dated
14 26th of October, with the many problems, and there in number 9 it is said,
15 "set the unique criteria on return of all students to units, all students
16 to units." In number 11 reference is made to Herceg-Bosna, or Bosnia and
17 Herceg -- no, Herceg-Bosna, but here it really says, "all students." How
18 is this to be explained? Is this some kind of -- of Croatian mobilisation
19 that takes effect, or is it simply an omission to say that it should only
20 refer to students in some relation with Herceg-Bosna?
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I can't answer that
22 question. I think that General Praljak can certainly answer the
23 question. I don't know whether they're referring to students in the
24 Republic of Croatia who are from Bosnia and Herzegovina or perhaps from
1 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you. Mr. Praljak is not at this moment a
2 witness here, so if that ever should happen, I will come back with a
3 question. Thank you.
4 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, perhaps I could be of
5 assistance. You could remind perhaps the witness at the time there was
6 not a single university in the Republic of Herceg-Bosna, at that time.
7 There was one in Neum.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Now for the next
9 Defence team. You have 75 minutes.
10 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I know
11 you're looking at me in that way because you have a very fat binder before
12 you, but these voluminous documents, but I will only quote certain parts
13 from the documents, and I think I'll have some minutes left if my client
14 believes he needs to put additional questions to the witness.
15 Cross-examination by Ms. Tomasegovic Tomic:
16 Q. [Interpretation] Good day, sir.
17 A. Good day.
18 Q. I'll be dealing with the military police on the whole since I'm
19 defending Valentin Coric in this case. I assume you understand why I will
20 be dealing with this topic.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Counsel, could you speak a
22 little closer to the microphone. Could you approach the microphone since
23 the interpreters are having some difficulty hearing you.
24 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation] Can they hear me now? Is
25 this all right?
1 Q. I'd now like to go back to the time of your arrival in
2 Herceg-Bosna and the role you played when you assumed your duties in the
3 Ministry of Defence. We've already heard about this. There was a
4 security sector in the ministry of defence within which there was the
5 military police administration and the SIS administration.
6 When you became the deputy defence minister on the 1st of
7 December, 1993, you were simultaneously the chief of the security sector.
8 It follows that you also the superior of -- you also, the superior of the
9 chief of the military police.
10 A. Yes, when I became the deputy minister I was the superior of the
11 chief of military police of the HVO.
12 Q. I want to go back to the time before your arrival. I know that
13 you have already told us that you weren't precisely familiar with all the
14 events, but you'd nevertheless gathered quite a lot of information. So I
15 would like to go through some documents that concern the structure of the
16 defence department, which preceded the Ministry of Defence de facto and de
17 jure. Could we see P 00586 on the screen, please. That is document that
18 concerns -- P 00586. This is a document on the structure of the defence
19 department. 18th of October, 1992 is the date.
20 THE INTERPRETER: The 17th, interpreter's correction.
21 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation]
22 Q. I'm interested in items IV and V. It's the third page in the
23 Croatian version and in the English. I'll now read through the part I'm
24 interested in. It says, "for certain sectors the head will have
25 assistance. Item I, assistant for the head of security." I'm only
1 interested in this at the moment because that is the sector I'm interested
2 in. Item V says: "The deputy head for security shall be responsible for
3 the security section which shall encompass the SIS and the military police
4 administration. The deputy for security shall also perform the duties of
5 the chief of the security administration."
6 This decision shows that within the then defence department there
7 was a deputy security officer who was responsible for the security sector,
8 and it also included the SIS administration and the military police
9 administration. Am I correct?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Is it correct that according to this structure the deputy for
12 security would be superior to the chief of the military police
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Item V says the deputy head for security is at the same time the
16 chief of the security administration. When we have a look at this
17 structure, does the deputy for security at the time of the existence of
18 the defence department have the same duties and responsibilities, given
19 his position, as those that you had subsequently in the Ministry of
21 A. Well, when we have a look at this decision, yes, that is the
23 Q. Let's have a look to document P 02477, and it concerns the
24 structure that was established at a somewhat later date, a decision on the
25 internal --
1 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Before -- before we leave this document --
2 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
3 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Before we leave this document, do you know,
4 Mr. Biskic, whether in fact there was a deputy head for security before
5 you were there in the Ministry of Defence?
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, as I have already
7 said, I wasn't assigned my duties by anyone. When I arrived, there were
8 the chiefs of the SIS administration and of the military police
9 administration, but no one introduced himself to me as the deputy head for
11 JUDGE TRECHSEL: You have -- certainly you have found certain
12 documents at least. Have you ever come upon any trace of someone having
13 held the function that on paper existed? Did you have any trace of this?
14 Did someone tell you about this? You must have inquired. It's the
15 natural reaction that you say, "Who did this before me?"
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, as I have already
17 said, when I arrived down there I was initially the deputy chief of the
18 Main Staff for security within the military police. Later, in the course
19 of discussions in November, I took over the role of an assistant, and as
20 of the 1st of December I actually or really took over these duties. I
21 didn't come across a single document, nor did anyone tell me that
22 Mr. Ivica Lucic, who was the chief of the SIS administration, acted as the
23 deputy head for security.
24 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
25 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation]
1 Q. I wanted to see P 02477 on the screen. It's a decision on the
2 internal organisation of the defence department dated the 20th of May,
3 1993. P 02477.
4 Under A I'll read out item number II, which reads as
5 follows: "Assistant heads for sectors the defence department manage the
6 work for their sectors and are responsible for it in accordance with the
7 guidelines issued by the head of the defence department and the
8 established work programme."
9 And now I would like to have a look at the following item, the
10 next item, IV, item IV under B. It's the end of the second page and
11 the beginning of the third page in the English version, and it reads
12 always follows. I'll just read out one sentence that is important to
13 me: "Within the security sector we shall also find the military police
14 administration as a component."
15 I'd just like to note that the defence department wasn't changed
16 by this new structure, at least not as far as its component parts were
17 concerned. I won't go into any other details.
18 Am I correct?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Witness AV, when he was the chief of the SIS, from the time the
21 department was established and right up until his arrival he played that
23 A. Well, I don't know if it was from the beginning, but I knew about
24 a certain period.
25 Q. Which one?
1 A. I think it's throughout 1993. As for whether it was also the case
2 prior to that date, I don't know, but I assume he was there from the very
4 Q. You said that in the course of your work you dealt with the
5 structure and situation in the military police, and you mentioned the
6 problems that the military police encountered in the course of its
7 operations. I've heard some things about it in the course of your
8 examination-in-chief, and I found out other things from your interview
9 with the investigators. I'd just like to mention some problems that I
10 noted in your presentation. They concern problems as far as being engaged
11 at the front lines is concerned, the problems that concern coordination of
12 the work of the Ministry of the Interior and the SIS, the MUP and the SIS,
13 and also the problem of failing to understand the chain of command and
14 authority of the military police and of various HVO commanders.
15 Do you remember all of these matters?
16 A. Yes, that's correct.
17 Q. Let's have a look at the documents and deal with this period by
18 period. These are documents that have already been shown in the
19 courtroom, and they should assist us to deal with the matter more
20 thoroughly. And I also think this is an excellent opportunity for me to
21 adequately examine all these documents now.
22 Could we now have the following document on the screen: P 00128.
23 It's a report on the work of the HVO in 1992. Page 7 in the Croatian
24 version, page 5 in the English version. Item III is the one we're
25 interested in. It concerns the situation in districts. "Defence," second
1 paragraph -- or, rather, first. I'll read out the first sentence first
2 paragraph. It says: "The defence department of the HVO HZ HB was
3 officially established at a session of the Presidency of the HZ HB on the
4 15th of May, 1992." And then I'll move on to the first sentence in the
5 following paragraph. Structural organisation and work in this sphere in
6 practice began with the -- with the appointment of the head of the defence
7 department on the 3rd of July, 1992."
8 Am I correct to draw the conclusion that this shows that the
9 defence department - and the military police administration was part of
10 it - in fact started being structured and started operating on the 3rd of
11 July, 1992?
12 A. Yes, if you're asking me a question.
13 Q. This report was compiled out of reports from various HVO
14 departments, different departments of the HVO, and I'd like to go through
15 some points that are important to me. May we first take a look in the
16 Croatian version page 11, and in English it is on page 8, the paragraph
17 begins on page 8 and then goes on to page 9. It's the last paragraph. It
18 is part of the report relating to the functioning of SIS. It says: "A
19 separate problem was the limited work of the civilian police, functioning
20 of the civilian police and the MUP organs, and the lack of functioning on
21 the part of the judiciary. So functioning in certain situations was
22 limited and determined by these factors, which had a considerable
23 influence on effectiveness in individual cases. In that respect, contacts
24 were established with representatives of the departments for the interior
25 with the aim of overcoming the ensuing problems and misunderstandings,
1 especially with regard to the competence and authority in the work of the
2 services mentioned."
3 Am I right in concluding that this reflects the problems that you
4 encountered when you took up your post in the HZ HB, which was later to be
5 the HR HB, and this was reflected in the work of the military police?
6 A. Yes, I do agree with that, but I can't see that on page 11.
7 Q. I'm sorry, I'm reading it on e-court, but I'll tell you the number
8 on the hard copy, and on the hard copy it's on page 9.
9 I'd like to move on now. Let's move on to the next page. It is
10 page 9 of the English, last paragraph. Last paragraph of page 9 and then
11 continues on to page 10. And in the Croatian version it is page 12, and
12 it says number 10 in -- on the hard copy, and this relates to the military
14 It says the following: "Commands of the operative groups were
15 established and a Joint Command of the military police administration was
16 formed; however, territorial obstacles and war conflicts in certain areas,
17 particularly in Bosanska Posavina and some parts of Central Bosnia, have
18 prevented the establishment of functional links between all military
19 police units despite all efforts."
20 In the transcript of your interview with the OTP I found that you
21 had problems with this functional link and the poor contacts with Central
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. So is this what the situation was like on the ground at the
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. I'd like to move down two paragraphs -- or, rather, we're skipping
3 one paragraph and going on to the next one, second sentence.
4 "Since military police stations have not been adequately enough
5 staffed to prevent crime, efforts have been made to act in the sphere of
6 crime in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior organs."
7 Tell me, do you know that the military police units encountered
8 problems with staffing at that time and the technical resources?
9 A. Yes, I am aware of cooperation at that time along those lines.
10 Q. So can I conclude from this paragraph that efforts were made as
11 far as was possible to cooperate in that area, too, with the Ministry
12 of the Interior? And I assume we're dealing with the civilian police
14 A. Well, I also assume that what is referred to is the civilian
16 Q. I'd like to move on now to page 13, and it is page 11, second
17 paragraph of the English version, and your page 11 too. And we begin with
18 the second sentence of that paragraph, which says: "In the course of
19 September, reorganisation was undertaken of the military police
20 administration and the military police units so that as of the 1st of
21 October, 1992, within the frameworks of its competencies and remit, the
22 military police has operated in accordance with new organisational schemes
23 regulated by the instructions for the work of the military police of the
24 HVO HZ HB. The military police administration is organised through the
25 department of general and traffic military police and the crime prevention
2 From what I've read, I conclude that the crime prevention
3 department within the military police was established and started working
4 on the basis of this new establishment on the 1st of October, 1992. Am I
6 A. Yes, one could conclude that.
7 Q. Now, may we go on to page 15 of the Croatian text?
8 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Excuse me. I have a -- I have a question about
9 the -- but I have pressed it all right.
10 I have problems with understanding, what is the meaning of "is
11 organised through the department of general and traffic military
12 police"? "Organised through," I do not understand the meaning of this.
13 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation] I don't know whether the
14 witness will agree with me, but I believe the military police organisation
15 was composed of departments one of which was the general and traffic
16 military police and the other department was the crime prevention
18 Q. Am I right witness?
19 A. Yes, you are.
20 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
21 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation].
22 Q. May we now have page 15 of the Croatian version which is page 13
23 of the English version, first paragraph, and the third paragraph in the
24 Croatian version, and I'm reading it. "Apart from the activities
25 mentioned within the frameworks of its competence and authority, the
1 military police units on several occasions became involved at combat up at
2 the front line. The members of the military police in such cases perform
3 all their combat assignments successfully. Going about their duties from
4 the beginning of the war to the present day, eight members of the military
5 police laid down their lives, and 48 members of the military police were
6 wounded, whether seriously or less seriously."
7 Now, I assume that what I've just read out is in conformity with
8 what you said about the involvement of the military police up at the front
9 line. Is that right?
10 A. Yes. It testifies to continuity.
11 Q. Is it also true and correct that when the military police was
12 engaged up at the front line that this in a way handicapped them -- was a
13 handicap in performing their regular police tasks otherwise, which, in
14 view of their numbers, was made more difficult, or when the units came
15 back from the battlefield they suffered from fatigue and weren't able to
16 go about their normal daily duties. Am I right there?
17 A. Yes, I agree with you.
18 Q. May we now have the next part of the document on our screens. In
19 Croatian it is page 21. It is your page 19, and in English it is page 18,
20 the last paragraph.
21 In the Croatian version, I'm going to read the second paragraph.
22 We've already been through this document, so I'm just going to briefly
23 tell you what it's about. It describes the tasks and assignments of the
24 civilian police, what they did, and towards the middle of the paragraph we
25 can see that they also dealt withal solving crimes, war crimes, genocide,
1 classical forms of crime, and so on. So I think that we can agree that
2 those are all things that the civilian police deals with.
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. May we now move on to the next page. In English it is on page 19,
5 third paragraph. In the Croatian version it is the first paragraph of
6 page 21, and I would like to read the penultimate sentence there which
7 says the following: "The age structure of the perpetrators of crimes in
8 this area indicates that it was persons from the ages of 25 to 30 who
9 perpetrate crimes of this kind, and they were individuals who at the time
10 they committed the offences wore uniforms."
11 It's your page -- on your page 20, the penultimate sentence. And
12 then let's move on to the next page. It is your page 21. On e-court it
13 is page 23, and for the English it is on page 20. It is the fourth
14 paragraph in English and third in the Croatian, and it states as
15 follows: "Armed combat in the area and all its implications --"
16 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Excuse me. I just note that our version of the
17 text does not contain any reference to wearing of uniforms. Maybe it's a
18 mistake in the translation, but I think you should know that.
19 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation] I'll check that straight
21 JUDGE TRECHSEL: While you check, maybe I may ask a question to
22 the witness.
23 Witness, we have heard several times of the engagement of military
24 police at the front line. This is a problem. Can you tell us who was
25 responsible for this? Who sent military police to the front line? Did
1 the military commanders order them or request for their assistance, or
2 did the military police take the initiative? Do you know how this came
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I think that the military police
5 cannot take the initiative on its own. This was pursuant to a request or
6 command by a commander of the HVO.
7 JUDGE TRECHSEL: And do you think that the military police
8 authorities could not refuse?
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] If you recall, Your Honour, my
10 answer to General Praljak, I said everything depended on the situation.
11 If the situation was such that there was nobody to defend the front line,
12 then of course all forces should be included for the defence of the front
14 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
15 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation] I apologise, Your Honour.
16 Judge Trechsel is quite right. In the English version, that word has
17 indeed been omitted about the uniforms, but you can look at the original
18 text, and you can see that I read out what it said. So I'm sorry that the
19 translation there is faulty.
20 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I trust you.
21 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation] It is a Prosecution
22 document, so I didn't think I need check it, but you can check the
23 Croatian version, the original.
24 The next page I'd like to look at is page 23 in the Croatian
1 Q. Witness, it is on your page 21. And in the English it is on page
2 20, paragraph 4.
3 "The armed combat that has taken place in this area and all its
4 implications have undoubtedly been reflected in the sphere of crime as
5 manifested in the uncontrolled violation of the law by the commission of
6 all sorts of offences. To a considerable extent this has been favoured by
7 the non-functioning of the rule of law and of some police stations and by
8 numerous and widespread crimes committed by uniformed persons."
9 Tell me, please, would this description of the situation as
10 provided by the department of the interior be a realistic rendition of the
12 A. Yes. That's partially the situation that I encountered when I
14 Q. So if we look at this it, then we can see that the civilian police
15 dealt with crimes perpetrated by persons in uniform. Am I right in saying
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. May we now look at page 30? It is your page 28, and in English
19 it is page 27, second paragraph. In the Croatian version it is the fourth
20 and last paragraph, and it relates to the legal system and the
21 administration, and I'm reading out the first sentence which
22 says: "Provisions on the establishment of military legal system was
23 undertaken, and at a meeting of the 17th of October, 1992, a provision was
24 passed on military district courts and district military prosecutors'
1 Now, when the military police deals with crimes, its role - that's
2 my conclusion - is reduced to filing criminal reports, uncovering the
3 perpetrators, bringing them to justice. In this instance, the military
4 prosecutor's office and then to the military courts for the military. In
5 other words, for the military police to be able to perform its work
6 successfully and to prevent crime and to bring the perpetrators to
7 justice, this would require military judicial bodies and the military
8 legal system to function properly.
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. From what I've read out here, we can see that the provision to
11 establish military judiciary bodies and district military courts was
12 passed on the 7th of October, 1992, as late as that.
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. I'd like to move on now to another period and area, so may we have
15 on e-court document P 04699 next, please. And it is once again an HVO
16 report, this time for the period from January to June 1993. Page 20 in
17 the Croatian version. It is on page 18 for you, and page 12 for the
18 English, second paragraph, and it is the third paragraph in the Croatian
20 This concerns the activities of the SIS administration at the
21 time, and I'll read out the sentence: "The service registered a number of
22 crimes at the same time committed by members of the HVO both in the
23 territory of Central Bosnia and in the territory of Mostar, as well as in
24 other municipalities."
25 We can see that the SIS was also involved in making a record of
1 crimes committed and of the perpetrators concerned when these people were
2 members of the HVO; is that correct?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Could we now have a look at the following page in the Croatian
5 version, page 21; page 12 in the English version, and you have number
6 19 on the document. It's under the military police administration, and
7 it says the following, I'll read out the second paragraph under the
8 title "Military Police Administration": "Because of the increasingly
9 complex situation in the territory of the HZ HB and the isolation of
10 individual operative zones, it was planned to form light assault
11 militaries police companies that would operate in the territory of
12 Herceg-Bosna. Assistant chiefs were appointed for the North-western
13 Herzegovina operative zone, the Central Bosnia operative zone, and the
14 Posavina operative zone. The powers of the military police administration
15 chiefs were transferred to the UVP assistant chiefs, who were ordered to
16 work as quickly as possible in organising light assault companies."
17 Was this an attempt to try and link up the units in a more
18 functional manner so that they were in a chain of command linking them up
19 with the chief of particular operative zones? And this concerned the
20 problems of communication that we were discussing.
21 A. Yes, I assume so.
22 Q. Let's now have a look at the following page, 22 in the Croatian
23 version, page 13 in the English version. I'll read out the paragraph.
24 And you have the number 20 on the top of the page.
25 "The military police administration's crime prevention department
1 was transferred by transferring its powers to the operative zone level.
2 This kind of organisation initially showed good results. Courses for
3 officers dealing with problems of crime are being held at the training
4 centre in Ljubuski. Employees of this department, in cooperation with
5 employees of the internal affairs department, have been fully performing
6 activities from within their own domain."
7 When we read through this passage, would you agree with me if I
8 said that this demonstrates that efforts were made to ensure that the
9 crime department was professionally enabled and that they cooperated with
10 the Ministry of the Interior at the time?
11 A. Yes, that's possible.
12 Q. Let's have a look at page 27 in the Croatian version. It's page
13 26 in the English version. And the number you have on the top is 25.
14 It's the fourth paragraph in the English version, and the second paragraph
15 in the Croatian version.
16 Before I read that out, when you spoke to the investigators, you
17 identified the problem of unauthorised entry into the prison, among other
18 things, taking detainees out to perform labour. And when you assumed your
19 duties, you were even informed of pressure exerted on military policemen
20 who were hindered when it came to performing their duties; is that
22 A. To a certain extent, yes.
23 Q. I'll now read through this passage. "In the recent period in the
24 area of the HB, over 6.000 prisoners of war were present in the centres.
25 There are now over 4.000 detainees present."
1 I'll now skip something. It says: "Significant number of
2 detainees taken out to perform labour, which makes it possible for them to
3 flee. There were a number of such cases, but we don't have the
4 possibility of increasing the number of military policemen. The
5 processing of detainees is being performed by SIS officials and the crime
6 department officials. Wardens in prisons have been appointed and they're
7 responsible for all tasks that include coordination. The military police
8 have the task of providing security for the detainees. We have noticed
9 that forcible entry has been made into these centres, and investigations
10 or violent investigations have been carried out by certain commanders.
11 This sort of behaviour must be forbidden and made impossible."
12 You're familiar with this?
13 A. Yes. As far as taking detainees out to perform labour, I wasn't
14 aware of the fact that the military police provided security for all these
15 centres, because according to the report of an acting officer dated the
16 22nd of November --
17 Q. I didn't even think about that, but I think we agree that the
18 military police did provide security, but I'm only asking you about the
19 situation, where it provided security.
20 A. As far as taking them out to perform labour, that's correct. That
21 was established later on. Violent investigations, I have no information
22 about conducting investigations in a violent manner, but I have no reason
23 to doubt that what is stated here is true.
24 Q. I'd now like to see page 29 in the Croatian version and page 17 in
25 the English version.
1 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Seventeen?
2 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation] Yes, it's page 17 in the
3 English version and it continues on page 18, the passage I will be reading
5 Q. I'll read out the second paragraph in the Croatian version and its
6 penultimate paragraph in the English version. We're still dealing with
7 the military police.
8 "The chain of command was often broken because of the abuse of
9 competence, and usurpation of powers."
10 Tell me, were you familiar with this problem?
11 A. Well, as I have said, there were problems within the system of
12 command and control.
13 Q. Now let's have a look at the following paragraph. It's on the
14 same page in the Croatian version, and it continues in the English
15 version. It says: "Over 3.000 military police organised in eight
16 battalions form a compact military unit with a clearly defined position in
17 the HVO structure. This is a wartime organisational structure which is
18 sometimes inferior to the peacetime police structure, so that mistakes
19 occur in the most ordinary police procedure. Light assault battalions
20 participate in the most difficult war operations, achieving great
21 successes, mostly with great sacrifices. Of 3.000 members of the military
22 police, over 300 have been killed or seriously wounded."
23 What I have read through confirms that during this period, too,
24 the same problem was present, the problem that concerns the front line and
25 the fact that the military police was engaged at the front line.
1 A. Yes, right up until mid-December 1993.
2 Q. There is something else I'd like to have a brief look at in this
3 document. It concerns the MUP during this period. It's page 35 in the
4 Croatian version, page 21 in the Croatian version, and the number you have
5 at the top is 31. Paragraph 6 in the English version -- or, rather, the
6 first paragraph under the title the police department.
7 It says: "The situation as far as law and order in the territory
8 of the HZ H and B reflects the wartime situation throughout the territory.
9 In such conditions, we believe that the situation of law and order is a
10 particularly complex one, because the character of war is such that there
11 are certain consequences. For example, theft and an increased level of
12 all forms of crime."
13 Would you agree with that?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Could we now have a look at page 36 in the Croatian version and
16 page 22 in the English version, paragraph two in both versions. "We
17 should point out that over 50 per cent of these violations were committed
18 by people in uniform." I'll skip the next part. It says: "According to
19 the rules of service that are applicable, police officers intervened in
20 cases involving uniformed persons, but such cases were immediately and
21 without delay handed over to the military police."
22 I think that this also demonstrates that at that period of time
23 there was cooperation and coordination to the extent it was possible to
24 have such cooperation and coordination between the military police and the
25 civil police.
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Would you agree would me if I said that one of the problems of the
3 military police when dealing with crime was the fact that it wasn't quite
4 clear what the authority of the civil police, the military police, and the
5 SIS was?
6 A. To a certain extent, yes. Who was responsible for what was not
7 quite clear.
8 Q. Could we see P 00950 now. It's page 3 in the English version.
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Just a minute, before we move on
10 to this document.
11 General, when you assumed your duties in November did you have
12 this type of document in your possession?
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. For the sake of the
15 transcript, I'd like to point out that on page 26 in the English version,
16 it's page 563796, mention is made of war crimes, and it says that there
17 were 256 persons who were concerned. There were 4 genocide -- cases of
18 genocide, 31 war crimes against civilians, 149 cases of rebellion, 4
19 crimes committed against POWs, and 4 cases of destruction of companies,
20 but it adds that all those concerned were Serbs. So I wanted to point
21 that out.
22 Counsel Tomic.
23 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation]
24 Q. While waiting for the document on the screen, the document I've
25 referred to was P 00950, tell me, apart from the tasks of the military,
1 police I have mentioned and the problems I have mentioned with regard to
2 military police, is it correct to say that the military police had to
3 carry out certain tasks that the civil police would usually carry out in
4 peacetime? It was involved in the work of the border police in escorting
5 humanitarian convoys. And when you assumed your duties you tried to
6 alleviate the burden that the military police had in order to enable them
7 to perform their duties with greater ease.
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. The document is -- represents the minutes from a session of the HZ
10 HB. I think the date is the 28th of December, 1992, but it's not quite
11 legible. But it is certainly December 1992. In the English version I'll
12 be reading out page 3. It's page 2 in the Croatian version. It goes on
13 to page 4, and it says: "Mr. Stojic mentions the problems caused by the
14 fact that military courts were still not functioning, and he emphasised
15 the fact that there were over 1.000 reports filed by the military police
16 that hadn't been dealt with, and he also mentioned the problems of
17 prisoners in the course of investigations. They cannot be detained
18 without a court decision."
19 I'll now step one passage and move on.
20 "Mr. Stojic points out that our military police force cannot work
21 without the military court, and they will release all the prisoners if
22 military courts don't start functioning as soon as possible, and they will
23 assume responsibility for this."
24 Were you familiar with such a situation? As far as I can
25 remember from your conversation with The Hague investigators, at the
1 time that you arrived there the situation with the military courts and
2 military prosecutor's office hadn't been solved. So you were trying to
3 find people who were from Bosnia and Herzegovina but were in fact in
4 Croatia, people who had the necessary professional expertise to start
5 these institutions.
6 A. Yes, it's true that the military police did file criminal
7 reports, but that the military courts -- or, rather, the courts failed to
8 react in a prompt manner, and we had these problems at the time I held my
10 Q. Let's have a look at 5D 00548.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] General, very briefly. I don't
12 want to intervene given our time restrictions, but this document notes
13 that in December 1992 the military courts were practically not functioning
14 because many cases hadn't been dealt with. You assumed your duties almost
15 a year later, in November 1993, and we had the impression that at that
16 time the situation had not advanced. Did you establish that the situation
17 was the same or, rather, that the military courts weren't functions and
18 that cases were still delayed, although that one year prior to this date
19 attention had been drawn to this problem? Mr. Stojic himself had
20 emphasised the existence of this problem.
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I understand the
22 question. I can't fully answer if because I wasn't responsible for the
23 work of military prosecutors' offices and for military courts, but on the
24 basis of what we discussed yesterday, I believed that there were certain
25 shortcomings in the work of the prosecutor's office and the military
1 courts. I also suggested to Mr. Susak that steps should be taken in this
2 respect to help the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you. Counsel Tomic.
4 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
5 Q. I wanted 5D 00548 on e-court, please. And it is a request for the
6 re-investigation of the engagement of the military police units up at the
7 front line of the 29th of September, 1993, request for re-examining of
8 engagement of the units of the military police on the front lines. It was
9 signed by the chief of the military police, Mr. Valentin Coric, and it
10 says the following: "On a number of occasions we have warned and we're
11 doing so again that the ministry -- military police administration,
12 because of intensive and non-stop engage of the of the units of the
13 military police on the front lines and at the same time due to the
14 impossibility of bringing the units up to strength with new soldiers
15 unable to perform the military police tasks according to its competence
16 and authority. If the situation on the battlefield has been accepted and
17 that the units of the military police in Central Bosnia and Posavina must
18 be engaged up at the front lines, we are of the opinion that the total
19 engagement of the military police in two zones in Herzegovina should be
21 I'd like to skip the next paragraph, and then later on we see the
22 number of persons killed mentioned over the past five months. It says 11
23 kill, 74 severely wounded, 10 killed, 54 severely wounded, et cetera. I
24 don't have time to read all the figures, but it says: "If this trend
25 continues the military police will soon face a situation where it lacks
1 the necessary number of men as is becoming a unit which is being
2 extinguished, and crime is seriously on the increase and threatens to
3 bring about anarchy on the hurt of the HZ HB. I announce with full
4 responsibility that with the forces remaining after the schedule of the
5 units of the military police on the front lines, we're not capable of
6 performing regular military police tasks let alone more complex
7 interventions and the more significant military political tasks. Because
8 of the aforementioned, we demand that the engagement of the military
9 police at the front lines be re-examined and we suggest that the military
10 police forces be withdrawn from the front line so that they can carry out
11 regular military police duties and that they should be sent to the front
12 line only in exceptional circumstances."
13 Do you agree with what it says here?
14 A. I agree fully.
15 Q. Tell me, please, from this can we see that Mr. Coric before you,
16 before you took up your duties, endeavoured to save the military police
17 from going to the front lines for the same reasons that you were able to
18 apply later on when you took up your post?
19 A. Yes.
20 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Mr. Biskic, we have seen that this problem has --
21 has gone on and on. I have not forgotten your answer that in a moment of
22 urgency it is necessary that the commanders take military police to engage
23 in the front line, but that is understandable as an exception. The fact
24 that here it seems to have been systematic. Does that not denote a
25 fundamental defect in the organisation of the military activities?
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Before you answer, I'd like to
2 complete the question or ask a complementary question, because this
3 document is a very important one and testifies to the position of the
4 author of this document, who is Mr. Coric.
5 We have heard a whole series of witnesses testifying about the
6 military actions that took place, and the modus operandi was briefly as
7 follows. I haven't got a concrete case in mind, but in general terms the
8 start of a military action. There was shelling first. After the shelling
9 you have the military police. The military police arrests either
10 combatants or civilians, to leave that for the moment, and then the people
11 arrested by the military police, a number of witnesses have said that they
12 were military police because they had their belts and so on. Anyway, the
13 military police would take these people prisoner, arrest them. Then the
14 proceedings are set in place and all the rest of it.
15 So everything we have heard indicates that the military police was
16 used in combat operations. Now, what I'd like to hear from you now is the
17 following: Is it a basic task of the military police to be up at the
18 front line and to take part in combat operations, because here we also see
19 that -- we see the number of victims from amongst the ranks of the
20 military police, and there were a great deal of casualties, fatalities and
21 casualties in the military police which came about in action, in combat.
22 So tell us, it was one of the tasks of the military police to be up at the
23 front lines, and when you arrived in November, did you do anything to
24 change the way in which the military police forces were deployed? So did
25 you change things in such a way that after November the military police
1 were no longer used in combat operations?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I understand the
3 question and I'll try and answer as briefly as possible.
4 It wasn't the basic being task of the military police to engage in
5 combat operations, in offensive actions or defensive actions. When I
6 arrived, I asked the chief of the General Staff, who was General Roso at
7 the time, to issue an order for the withdrawal of the military police
8 units from the front line. We were not able to achieve that in the month
9 of November, but I think that sometime in mid-December we were successful
10 in part and at the end of December all the military police forces were
11 withdrawn from the front line. They remain longer at Rama -- or, rather,
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you for that answer, which
14 was a very precise answer with respect to the withdrawal of troops -- or,
15 rather, the military police forces as of November. That's what you told
16 us, and that the decisions were taken in December and they were withdrawn
17 from the front line, and we can see that on line 11 of page 75.
18 Yes, Mr. Karnavas.
19 MR. KARNAVAS: There was a question posed by Judge Trechsel. I'm
20 not sure whether Judge Trechsel is satisfied with -- it does cover in part
21 but not in full, and I think it is a question that -- that deems worthy of
22 being answered.
23 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you, Mr. Karnavas. Indeed I think it
24 was -- it was -- sort of got under an avalanche.
25 Can you assess whether there was a fundamental organisational and
1 planning defect which led to this habit of engaging military police for
2 tasks which it is not equipped, trained, and -- and created for?
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I'm tempted to complement the --
4 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Yes?
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I cannot assess the decisions of the
6 commanders of the HVO and chief of the Main Staff of the day. I wish to
7 believe that they were not along the lines of removing the military police
8 from performing their military police tasks. I believe that they were
9 guided by the need to defend Croatian lands. Of course, this had a
10 negative effect on the work of the military police itself, and from my
11 experience gained from the armed forces of the Republic of Croatia, I led
12 a military police unit in the Maslenica operation myself in 1993, so that
13 this is not an exception.
14 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you for a very diplomatic answer.
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, Mr. Praljak, you wanted to
16 say something in addition to what we have heard?
17 THE ACCUSED PRALJAK: [Interpretation] Witness, in Croatia the
18 light assault battalions of the military police, were they precisely
19 formed for that reason, to be able to take part in combat when the command
20 deems necessary? Otherwise, it would appear that it was -- it depended on
21 somebody's will. So is that correct, that they were formed to serve the
22 defence of the territory and war, because why would the military police
23 need to be in Zurich if Zurich were not taken over by some army? So it's
24 defence first. It's not somebody's whim. It is the rules of combat that
25 dictate it.
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I answered this question
2 yesterday -- or, rather, today, and let me state again. In the armed
3 forces of the Republic of Croatia, we had a light assault brigade, but it
4 was established in order to perform combat assignments. I cannot claim
5 why the light assault battalions of the military police were established,
6 and with the new set-up and organisation they were abolished. I abolished
8 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] I apologise, Your Honour. In the
9 transcript I think that there is a mistake, whether in the transcript or
10 the interpretation. It is line 76 [as interpreted]. I think the witness
11 said that he cannot enter into the decisions of the Supreme Commander and
12 Main Staff, where it says "commanders in the plural. So was it the
13 Supreme Commander or commanders? Could the witness enlighten us? So who
14 made the decision and why the decision was made and Judge Trechsel's
15 answer was -- the witness said, "I cannot enter into the decisions of the
16 main -- Supreme Commander."
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I said the commander of the Croatian
18 Defence Council and the chief of the Main Staff, because for a time there
19 was the commander and after -- he was commander and afterwards he was
20 chief of the Main Staff.
21 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] I see. I heard you say "commander"
22 in the singular, not commanders in the plural, because it says the plural
23 in the transcript.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] To follow on from what
25 Mr. Praljak said and the question I wanted to ask in addition, you're the
1 first witness who seems to be best placed to speak about the military
2 police. We have Mr. Coric, but as he's not testifying, you're the first
3 witness who can give us a valid -- valid answers to the questions asked
4 about the military police.
5 Now, I have a question that I've been wanting to go ask you. We
6 have had witnesses who have spoken to us about the fact that the military
7 police were well equipped in terms of weapons, equipment and materiel,
8 clothing, uniforms, et cetera. So one gained the impression that the
9 military police was a highly disciplined unit, because in the army if
10 you have discipline and discipline can be seen, it is in the military
12 Now, by vocation, it is it up to you to address anybody who
13 engages in infractions of military police law. So it's a well-disciplined
15 Now, one gains the impression that within those military police
16 units there were individuals who were trained, as General Praljak -- along
17 the lines that General Praljak said. So the high command, is that what
18 motivated them to resort to these soldiers and use them on the grounds for
19 offensive or defensive actions as you said? That's a hypothesis, a
20 working hypothesis. But as you are a specialist in the area and this is
21 the first time that we actually have a specialist here to answer our
22 questions, and you're an a high-ranking officer, it would be interesting
23 to hear your views on that. That's why I'm asking you the question.
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, the military police units in
25 general terms should really be the best equipped part of the armed forces
1 in applying their authority within the military police remit. Of course,
2 members of the military police are trained in other skills, too, but the
3 military police units don't have the equipment necessary. Well, I don't
4 know what the light assault brigades had -- battalions had, but usually
5 they are not commensurate to combat activities, and they usually just have
6 light weapons. But let me stress again that it is standard practice in
7 the armed forces of the Republic of Croatia during the homeland war that
8 when the situation demanded it, of course for a short period of time, we,
9 too, as members of the military police, the armed forces of Croatia, were
10 engaged in combat assignments. But not for long periods, and not in large
11 numbers as it says in the report by the chief, Mr. Valentin Coric, dated
12 the 29th of December.
13 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I'm looking
14 at the clock. Can we take a break so that I could summarise and look
15 through the questions that I still want to ask?
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. That will give the
17 registrar some time to do the maths.
18 We reconvene in 20 minutes' time.
19 --- Recess taken at 5.36 p.m.
20 --- On resuming at 5.59 p.m.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Counsel Tomic, you have 26
22 minutes left.
23 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours.
24 Q. Could we now have a look at document P 00957. Could we have that
25 document on the screen. It concerns the structure of the HVO military
1 police, dated the 26th of December, 1992. To make it easier for everyone
2 to follow, I'll start with the second paragraph, and I'll read out the
3 first sentence of every paragraph, and then I'll read the last two
4 paragraphs on the last page. Since that will be sufficient for my
6 It says: "The 1st Battalion of the military police is active and
7 it's directly tied to the military police administration and its chief and
8 it is active in the entire territory of the HZ HB. The 2nd Battalion has
9 its headquarters in Tomislavgrad and covers the North-western Herzegovina
10 operative zone. The 3rd Battalion has its headquarters in Mostar and
11 covers operative zone of eastern Herzegovina. The 4th Battalion has its
12 headquarters in Travnik, Vitez, and covers the operative zone of Central
13 Bosnia. The 5th Battalion is for the Posavina operative zone."
14 And the last two paragraphs: "The battalion commanders and
15 military police commanders in operative zones, when carrying out their
16 daily tasks shall be immediately subordinated to the commander of the
17 operative zone. They shall carry out all orders that concern military
18 police duties and are in accordance with authorities and responsibilities
19 of the military police. Military police platoons in brigades shall carry
20 out orders of the brigade commander and shall do so within the field of
22 Tell me, are you familiar with this structure?
23 A. Yes, I am.
24 Q. Is this structure clear to you?
25 A. Yes, it is.
1 Q. I'd now like to have a look at 5D 00538. These are the minutes
2 that concern coordination with commanders of the operative zone of
3 north-Western Herzegovina. It's dated the 9th of March, 1993. It's been
4 signed by commander Zeljko Siljeg.
5 Item 1 shows that the subject was the structure and the tasks of
6 the military police. And on the following page we have the first item.
7 This is what I will now read out.
8 Item 1, I will read out two paragraphs. You'll see what is
9 concern. "The commander of the operative zone presented the main problems
10 that related to establishing and commanding and controlling the military
11 police. According to the establishment scheme, establishment scheme for
12 structuring this force, the 2nd Battalion of the military police in this
13 operative zone -- is in this operative zone and under its command. And
14 equipping, training -- and equipping and training shall be carried out by
15 the military police administration. Brigades in their zones of
16 responsibility can use units of military police that have been formed in
17 their zones of responsibility. Military police platoons and brigades
18 shall be formed by all brigades that shall equip them, train them, and
19 they are exclusively the responsibility of the brigades and in accordance
20 with the line -- and this shall be done in accordance with the line of
21 command, with the chain of command. The commander of the military police
22 when carrying out military police tasks is immediately subordinated to the
23 commander of the operative zone, and military police platoons within
24 brigades shall carry out orders of the brigade commander and shall do so
25 within the field of their responsibility. When engaging the military
1 police, the commander of the military zone shall inform the chief of the
2 military police administration, and when the military police is engaged by
3 the brigade commander he shall inform the commander of the operative zone,
4 and the commander of the military police battalion."
5 And now let's have a look at the following page, the last
6 paragraph, page 3 in the English version, third paragraph on the same page
7 in the Croatian version, it says: "The military police in the OZCH when
8 so ordered shall provide daily regular and interim reports to the
9 operative zone and to the brigades. The commander of the operative zone
10 shall authorise the chief of the SIS of the operative zone North-western
11 Herzegovina to command the military police battalion."
12 As far as I have understood from your testimony to date, one of
13 the main problems that concerns the military police was that often the
14 role of the military police was misunderstood in the field, and the way in
15 which orders were issued and the way in which the chain of command
16 functioned was misunderstood. So such coordination is the result of such
17 problems. Would you agree with me?
18 A. Yes, I believe so.
19 Q. Could we now have document P 01678 on the screen.
20 JUDGE TRECHSEL: May I just pick up on this? We have seen now
21 that in the practical operation the military police is under the command
22 of the commander of the operational zone. Is that correct?
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] According to what has been read out
24 here, yes, what concerns carrying out military police tasks.
25 JUDGE TRECHSEL: And the commander of the operation zone in turn
1 is in line of command under the chief of staff. Is that also correct?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
3 JUDGE TRECHSEL: So then one can say that there is a line of
4 command from the chief of staff to the military police as far as the
5 operational work is concerned?
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] According to daily operative orders,
8 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
9 JUDGE PRANDLER: I would also like to ask a question concerning
10 this document which was now introduced by Ms. Tomasegovic Tomic. That is
11 the document 00538. And in this document you will find -- there is no
12 page numbers here but only the number of 2749, 2749, and this part starts
13 with the following: "Briefing by commanders in areas of responsibility."
14 And the first -- the first paragraph speaks about the Petar Kresimir for
15 the 4th Brigade presented by Martin Kulis, deputy commander. I wonder if
16 the interpreters found it, but I hope that's yes. And in that very
17 briefing there is an interesting sentence. It says that they, meaning I
18 believe the Petar Kresimir Brigade, "They have joined up their left wing
19 with the HV Croatian army forces in the Peruca." So I repeat the
20 sentence. They have joined up the HV Croatian army forces in the Peruca
22 I would like to ask the witness -- of course I do not know the
23 region and I do not know if the Peruca direction, it was still within
24 Herceg-Bosna or was it in the Republic of Croatia, and the joining the
25 left wing meant a kind of military operation and military cooperation, or
1 it was at the borderline where they have actually joined up their wings.
2 So it is my question to you, General.
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I understand your
4 question. Peruca is in the Republic of Croatia. However, it's very close
5 to the border between the Republic of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
6 Croatian army forces, I assume these were units from Sinj. I'm referring
7 to the armed forces of the Republic of Croatia. They held the line there,
8 and they reach the border. I believe the Petar Kresimir Brigade came from
9 the border on the other side. And contact was established in the sense
10 that there was no no man's area. So the HVO forces were in the territory
11 of Bosnia-Herzegovina and of the Croatian army in Croatia. That's how I
12 understand this part here. There was no empty space.
13 JUDGE PRANDLER: Yes. Thank you very much.
14 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation] Could we have P 01678 on
15 the screen. First the first page. In the English version it's on the
16 second page, 2.
17 Q. This is a response with regard to the conclusions from the
18 minutes. It's been signed by Valentin Coric. In the first paragraph it
19 says the following: "The -- this -- in the document on the structure of
20 the military police, it states that when carrying out daily police tasks
21 the commander of the battalion, the 2nd Battalion of the OZ should be
22 immediately under the commander of the operative zone, and the commanders
23 of operative platoons immediately under the brigade commander. The
24 military police shall also carry out individual requests or commands from
25 the chief of the SIS, but the chief of the SIS of the operative zone
1 cannot receive general authorisation to command the military police
2 battalion as this is in violation of the regulations on organisation of
3 the defence department and regulations on the organisation of the military
4 police administration. The operative zone commander is not competent to
5 change these regulations by his decision or command.
6 "Therefore, the operative zone commander shall be responsible, and
7 if he is absent an individual officer shall replace him. Responsibility
8 cannot be transferred to the chief of the SIS in general terms."
9 Would you agree with me that this document is an attempt by
10 Mr. Coric to establish the structure to those to whom it's not clear and
11 to avoid future misunderstandings when it comes to the military police and
12 its responsibilities?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Could we now have the following document: P 04262. This is a
15 warning from Mr. Petkovic on behalf of the Main Staff of the HVO, dated
16 the 17th of August, 1993. The title is "The brigade military police
17 responsibilities -- or, rather, command responsibilities," and it
18 says: "Quite frequently the inefficiency of the brigade military police
19 is a subject of which the commanders often contact the chief of the
20 military police. I here by warn the brigade military police is under the
21 direct command of brigade commanders. It is also within the brigades and
22 has the status as another unit of the brigade. Recruiting manpower is to
23 be carried out only from the military structure of a brigade, and the
24 commander has the right to replace every military policeman. The chief of
25 the military police can only be asked for professional assistance. All
1 problems within the brigade police are your problems, and you should solve
2 them through the system of command."
3 As far as I know, you have also encountered problems with the
4 brigade police.
5 A. Yes, because the system of command was not clear -- or, rather,
6 they were outside the system, and for this reason this was disbanded.
7 Q. Thank you very much. I'd like to move on to another area now.
8 When we talked over of the past few days, we discussed a question,
9 according to the information you received and as was explained to you,
10 there were just two military prisons in the period before you arrived and
11 when you arrived. There were Ljubuski and Heliodrom; right?
12 A. Yes. I spoke about a report of the acting head of the military
13 police who informed me that under the authority of the military police
14 Ljubuski and Heliodrom were under them, and Gabela were under the Home
15 Guard Regiment.
16 Q. Now, the Prosecutor showed you a document. I'm not going to look
17 for the number now, but I'll remind you of it, it was a document for the
18 record P 07494, which Mr. Pusic -- a document which Mr. Pusic addressed to
19 you asking that people be transferred from Heliodrom to Gabela, and in
20 your own handwriting you wrote that you did not agree with that. You
21 remember the document that we're talking about?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. When I read the transcript from your interview with the
24 investigators from The Hague, when you were shown this document and you
25 were asked for your explanation why you wrote that you didn't agree, among
1 other things you said that because you considered that it says that Gabela
2 was the military police investigation prison, whereas you didn't consider
3 it to be a military investigating prison. Do you remember that?
4 A. Yes. At that point in time Gabela was no longer topical.
5 Q. And the information that you had before that you received from
6 Mr. Lavric to the effect that Gabela -- that Gabela was under the home
7 guard security system.
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Tell me, when we were discussing prisons earlier on, you said that
10 when your arrival you instructed people to comply with the Geneva
11 Conventions and conduct with the POWs but that you did not know whether
12 anybody did this before you.
13 A. I said that I did not look to see whether this was stated before,
14 but I wrote the instructions and manual again because you can never have
15 too much of a good thing.
16 Q. Now, there was another document, document P 06805. You don't have
17 to look for the document, I'll just remind you. They were answers by Mr.
18 Lavric to your questions. I think you had some 10 questions, or 13
19 questions that you asked him, and he responded to those questions, and we
20 can check this out later on, but within the frameworks of those questions
21 he relates to the instructions and order given by Mr. Coric linked to
22 Heliodrom of the 22nd of September, 1992. I don't know whether you
23 remember that?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. May we have on e-court the following document P 00514, which is
1 instructions on the work of the central military prison of the Croatian
2 Defence Council in Mostar dated the 22nd of September, 1992.
3 A. May I have the number again?
4 Q. P 00514.
5 A. Thank you.
6 Q. And it is signed by the head, Valentin Coric, and under item 1 it
7 says: "The duties of the commander of the central prison," and among
8 other things under point 2 it says that he is responsible for ensuring
9 that prisoners of war are treated in conformity with the 1949 Geneva
11 Then similarly on page 8 of the English version, page 8, please,
12 and in the Croatian version it is on page 4, and it says: "Home rules in
13 the central military prison of the HVO in Mostar," and it says what
14 prisoners of war are, what military prisoners are. Under point 3 it says
15 that all POWs should be treated in compliance with the 1949 Geneva
16 Conventions. Under point 4 it stipulates the right of prisoners to
17 medical assistance, health care, and so on.
18 Would you agree that this in a sense are also a sense of
19 instructions as to how to -- prisoners of war are to be treated, the same
20 kind of instructions that you gave previously?
21 A. Yes. These are guidelines an instructions which refer to
22 everyone, not only to the central military prison. This is more detailed
23 and prescribes how the work should be done in practice. I should like to
24 say that when I first met Mr. Valentin Coric and when our two
25 administrations cooperated in 1992 we personally handed to him our set of
1 our instructions which we applied in Croatia, so that already at that time
2 he was interested in this area.
3 Q. May we now have on e-court the following document P 03651. It
4 is a document from the crime prevention department of the military police
5 describing the decisions reached at a meeting held in Ljubuski on the
6 22nd of July, 1993, in the military police administration, signed by
7 Mr. Vidovic, and I'm going to read the portions that are of interest to
8 me, paragraphs 2, 3, and 4.
9 At the meeting it was reiterated what the activities and
10 competence of the crime prevention department were. It was assessed that
11 direct cooperation with the active police force, that is the military
12 police and MUP and the district military court, was good and the decision
13 was wholly clear and there was no overlap, while our cooperation with
14 officers of the central military remand prison must be indirect, and this
15 is realised through the institution of the District Military Court for
16 which we process crimes to the extent of evaluating whether there are
17 grounds for bringing criminal proceedings to bear and the SIS inasmuch as
18 cooperation is necessary. Thus all detained persons without -- where
19 criminal proceedings had not been taken or a criminal report filed are on
20 the -- according to the order of the chief of the military police
21 administration unknown to our department. This refers solely to a large
22 number of Muslims who were brought indiscriminately to the SVIZ prison and
23 after that they were forgotten. Through inertia the crime prevention
24 department conducted interviews with over 2.000 people but not a single
25 one of them was of any interest as far as crime was concerned. The
1 question posed by Mr. Coric, chief of the military police administration,
2 regarding our duties was therefore justified and was the reason for them
3 issuing the above order for us to start dealing with crime.
4 "After the head of the department of administration and justice
5 had had to produce a report on the SVIZ pursuant to the decision of this
6 department, it was the task of the warden of the SVIZ, as well as adopting
7 all decisions regarding detainees."
8 There seems to be an error in the transcript. Just a moment I'll
9 read it again.
10 "Since the head of the department of administration and justice
11 was duty-bound to compile an a report on SVIZ pursuant to the decisions of
12 the institutions of this department, it was the task of the department of
13 justice to appoint the warden of the SVIZ as well as adopting all
14 decisions regarding detainees."
15 Tell me, please, in this document are the duties of the military
16 police properly defined as well as the role of the military court with
17 respect to the prisons and the military police?
18 A. I think so, yes.
19 Q. All right. Fine.
20 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Everything is clear. You say -- I would like to
21 know what the sentence -- the following sentence means: "As concern
22 disciplinary measures as against HVO soldiers, these will be decided by
23 the person issuing them." It seems a bit redundant, that the decision is
24 decided by the person issuing the decision. Maybe it's a problem of
1 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation] I think that that's what
2 it says, exactly as you read it, and what it means is this, I think: It
3 is the disciplinary code of conduct or rules which I haven't time to go
4 into but which we went into with Mr. Tomljanovich, and the witness said
5 something about that yesterday, but I can advise you to look at the
6 following document, which is document -- well, Judge Trechsel, you can
7 check it out there, P 00293, Article 19 and 29. I think that it will be
8 clearer, because this sentence is indeed rather confusing. So it's -- P
9 00293, Articles 19 and 29 will provide a fuller explanation of what that
10 sentence means, and I'd like now to move on to the next document, which
11 is --
12 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I just want to say it makes common sense to tell
13 me to look it up, but it's not actually adversarial procedures.
14 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation] I apologise, Your Honour,
15 but it's very difficult for me to comment on what this actually means.
16 Mr. Coric is going to throw light onto the matter.
17 THE ACCUSED CORIC: [Interpretation] I am going to ask the General
18 a question. If any HVO commander were to issue a disciplinary measure,
19 for instance, 15 days in prison for violation of offences, 15 days in
20 detention, then that detention would be served at Heliodrom. So that,
21 Mr. -- Judge Trechsel, is what this refers to.
22 Is that right, Witness? Is that an answer to what the Judge asked
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Mr. Coric, yes, I'm clear on what
25 this means. It is disciplinary measures which come under the competence
1 of the commander of the HVO in a given circumstance, and I think that when
2 I arrived we freed the military police of detaining people who were in
3 detention through a disciplinary measure that has been taken, and that is
4 the case in armies all over the world. So the sentence, as far as I'm
5 concerned, is clear.
6 THE ACCUSED CORIC: [Interpretation] Can -- Your Honours, may I ask
7 the witness one more question?
8 Do you know that when Heliodrom was established, that is to say in
9 September, it was a facility where such sentences were served as well?
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I know there were members of the HVO
11 there who were serving disciplinary sentences. I don't know which
12 documents justified this, but I have no reason to doubt that this was the
14 THE ACCUSED CORIC: [Interpretation] Thank you very much.
15 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you. It took more time than I anticipated
16 and it leaves things less clear than they were before for me but I shall
17 not insist. Sorry for taking -- interrupting you.
18 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation]
19 Q. Could we now see document P 04756 on the screen. These are the
20 minutes from a session of the heads of defence -- the defence department
21 held on the 2nd of December, 1993. Could we see the document on the
22 screen, Croatian version page 3, and the English version page 4. I'll
23 read out three brief paragraphs.
24 "Then Mr. Coric presented certain problems that the military
25 police encounters. Above all, given engagement of the military police at
1 the front line, the quality of the military police's composition has been
2 adversely affected. Materiel is being taken away from the command of
3 various individuals. There's the brigade police that's not part of the
4 military police. And similarly the work in military prisons is very
5 poor. The head wanted to take the floor and said the following: 'I
6 believe that we have two military prisons, the Heliodrom and the military
7 prison in Ljubuski. As for other places where detainees are being held,
8 in Gabela and Dretelj, I don't consider them to be military facilities,'
9 and refused to personally endorse the work of these institutions."
10 Tell me, does this reflect everything that you knew about when you
11 arrived there? This isn't new information.
12 A. I would just like to interpret something and said that Heliodrom
13 and Ljubuski were under the military police. According to a report of the
14 officer responsible, the home Guards Unit were providing security for
15 Gabela. I don't know whether this responsibility was such, Ministry of
16 Defence later on, I didn't establish this.
17 Q. When you say under the military police or, rather, the
18 responsibility of the military police, does this mean that the military
19 police provided security?
20 A. Yes, at the Heliodrom and in Ljubuski, according to the report of
21 the chief, acting chief.
22 Q. On a number of occasions you have told me that when you arrived at
23 the site -- and later on you did not find out who was responsible for the
24 detention units or the prisons. It doesn't matter what we call them.
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Now let's have a look at the last document that I will showing
2 you, P 06848. I'll read out the last paragraph. This is a report from
3 the SVIZ warden. Josip Praljak has signed the document. It's dated the
4 24th of November, 1993. The report was addressed to General Roso,
5 Mr. Lavric, and Mr. Jukic. The report states the following: "I believe
6 that it is high time to take steps to ensure that the prison functions
7 more adequately and to provide better security, and to decide who can
8 issue orders on allowing detainees to be taken out to perform labour, and
9 to see who is responsible for the SVIZ in Mostar."
10 Tell me, is this a good reflection of the events, of the
12 A. Well, I haven't seen this report. I hope that the person who sent
13 it provided a correct description of the situation.
14 Q. I have another question. When my colleague, Ms. Alaburic,
15 cross-examined you, she asked you about detainees being taken out to
16 perform labour and about who had the authority to send people out to
17 perform labour. You were asked whether the warden could refuse to give --
18 or to hand over detainees, to help them if they had a legitimate request.
19 You said that in practice things worked in a somewhat different manner,
20 but you didn't really explain this. Can you tell me what the situation
21 was when it came to practice? Could Mr. Bozic, the warden, have said that
22 when he received request or an order or an approval, I don't care what we
23 call this document at this point in time, but when he received such a
24 document how would he act?
25 A. I said that in legal terms, officially, yes, he could act in this
2 Q. But could he have in practice refused to comply with such an
3 order? What would be the consequences have been?
4 A. I said that in practice I never saw such a case. He didn't refuse
5 such permission if he had been provided with such a request.
6 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours.
7 I have no more questions. Perhaps there is some time left for Mr. Coric.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] It would appear that the 75
9 minutes have been used up.
10 Mr. Coric, your time has been used up unless Mr. Ibrisimovic will
11 give you a few minutes. I don't know.
12 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I've already
13 told Mr. Karnavas that I would let him have some of my time, so I have
14 no additional time. I'll use the time left until the end of this
16 THE ACCUSED CORIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, if I have no
17 time to put questions to the witness, would you at least allow me to say
18 that -- or would you at least allow me to inform you of the subjects I
19 wanted to touch on, if possible? If not, well, that doesn't matter.
20 MR. KARNAVAS: Mr. President, I think in light of the time that we
21 have left, that is we have all day tomorrow, plus we have some time today,
22 I don't see allowing Mr. Coric 10 or 15 minutes would effect us finishing
23 this witness on time, in light of what I have and what the Stojic team
24 has. So I think this is one exception, especially since Mr. Coric was
25 the head of the military police, I think it's --
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, but one exception after
3 MR. KARNAVAS: It's the first exception I've asked for.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Well, Mr. Mundis, what is it
5 that you wanted to say?
6 MR. MUNDIS: Thank you, Mr. President. I just wanted to put on
7 the record that we have 10 or 15 minutes of redirect, if that's possible,
8 for tomorrow but ...
9 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, if I may remind you
10 that I haven't used up all of my time, so perhaps I could retroactively
11 give the Coric Defence that time.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, yes. You have.
13 Mr. Ibrisimovic, you have given Mr. Prlic your 60 minutes. That's
14 what I would like to know.
15 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I think there's a
16 slight misunderstanding. I gave Mr. Prlic the time I wasn't going to use;
17 those to Mr. Coric, the matter is in your hands. It's not for me to
18 decide who will use up the time allocated.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Coric, you have 10 minutes.
20 Please go ahead, but you should have reached an agreement with your
21 counsel when it comes to the questions that you wanted to ask. Please go
22 ahead, you have 10 minutes.
23 THE ACCUSED CORIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour, and
24 I'd like to thank everyone who has made this possible.
25 Cross-examination by the Accused Coric:
1 Q. [Interpretation] General, yesterday you said that we would meet
2 and see each other during the wartime period. Could you briefly describe
3 our cooperation at the time? Were we partners from two states? Did we
4 have such a relationship on a permanent basis or was one person superior
5 to another? Could you say something very briefly?
6 A. Well, thank you, Mr. Coric, for that question. From the very
7 beginning of the combat in the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina and later
8 in the territory of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna, from the very
9 beginning we had the relationship that exists between partners, and we
10 mutually respected each other. That's my experience.
11 Q. Thank you. My following question, General, concerns the prisons.
12 Are you aware of the fact that in Herceg-Bosna we had prisoners before we
13 had prisons?
14 A. Well, I think that neither that, not on the basis of any documents
15 but I think that was the case.
16 Q. Do you know that in Herceg-Bosna there was no hospital for the
17 mentally ill throughout the war?
18 A. I never really gave much thought to the matter, but there's no
19 reason for me not to believe you.
20 Q. I'm putting this question to you because I know that we have to
21 respect the fact that such ill people were in the streets, and I'm talking
22 about the general security situation. Do you agree with me?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Thank you very much. On a number of occasions my counsel
25 mentioned the problem of responsibility for prisons. Are you aware of the
1 fact that some prisons were established at local levels?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Some prisons were secured by Ministry of the Interior staff?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Others by the home guard and others by the military police?
6 A. Yes, as in the case of Rama, yes.
7 Q. We could discuss that matter in detail. What I would now like to
8 ask you is, would it be logical for someone to suggest that a central
9 military prison be established very rapidly? In April the conflict
10 started, and this suggestion was made in June.
11 A. I agree with you.
12 Q. Did one react rapidly and was a prison established on the 22nd of
13 September? Was that fast, in 1992?
14 A. Well, if it's from June to September, I wouldn't say that that is
15 fast, if I have understood your question correctly. I apologise.
16 Q. Very well, that might be the case too. As for the central
17 military prison, which did not exist at all, was it time to take the
18 decision, to construct the facility, to find the staff?
19 A. I agree.
20 Q. General Praljak mentions money.
21 A. Yes, by all means.
22 Q. Do you know that the first staff team at the Heliodrom after the
23 22nd of September was mostly composed of security officers from the former
24 district prison in Mostar? Have you heard about that?
25 A. No.
1 Q. Do you know that during that period of time even the prisoners in
2 the district prison had been placed at the Heliodrom?
3 A. Yes. I subsequently found out about that.
4 Q. You saw the establishment and organisation and the instructions
5 given to the warden that was appointed on the 22nd of September. Do you
6 know that the head of the military police administration until the end of
7 his term of office, that is to say October or November of 1993 - that was
8 me - that apart from that signature on that document there were no direct
9 written or oral instructions to the prison warden?
10 A. Probably, but I'm not aware of any document which would say
12 Q. Thank you. Now I'd like to move on to the military police work.
13 I think the two of us should know what it entails.
14 Now, in the prison itself, if we're speaking about the central
15 military prison at Heliodrom, you need to provide security for the
16 detainees. Now, from everything that you saw, was that job done by the
17 Military Police Platoon within the 5th Battalion of the military police in
18 Mostar? Did they provide that service?
19 A. I think so, yes.
20 Q. And does that come under the work of the military police, to
21 secure the detainees? Did the police do its work?
22 A. Yes, in peacetime. In wartime the military police does provide
23 security for prisoners of war.
24 Q. Now, the crime investigation department, that's another area that
25 the military police does, and you had a report from Mr. Vidovic of Mostar.
1 Is that something that the military police also engages in?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. And the third thing that the military police does in a prison, and
4 I'm referring to the Heliodrom now, is to transfer detainees and to ensure
5 security for them from one prison to another, and let me tie this up, to
6 provide security and escorts when there are exchanges or when detainees
7 are taken to hospital, for example. Does that come under the remit of the
8 military police as well?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Now, General, did you ever see any other work done by the military
11 police at my time in relation to the detainees? Do you have a document
12 that comes to mind perhaps about some other assignments?
13 A. No, I don't remember.
14 Q. Thank you. When in Ljubuski at a meeting with the heads of
15 departments I expounded on the work of the crime prevention military
16 police and their work with detainees in that regard, then in his report
17 Mr. Vidovic says that I instructed that cooperation with the warden be
18 indirect. Does that bring to mind all the things that I said, that there
19 is no command and orders issued towards the warden?
20 A. Of course.
21 Q. Thank you. Now, there's another unwieldy construction there in
22 Mr. Vidovic's writings, but how did you understand him when he said that
23 after my explanation that the crime prevention police can only talk to
24 people and decide about their fate if they are being criminally
25 investigated, when Vidovic said that everybody else as far as the military
1 police are concerned are unknown? Does that come within the general
2 concept of the military police?
3 A. If I understood this part of what Mr. Vidovic said correctly, then
4 I consider that he was speaking about individuals who had committed
5 certain offences and crimes and that these are the people that the crime
6 investigation police were interested in, not the others.
7 Q. Thank you, General. And now my last question and last topic are
8 the light assault soldiers.
9 Now, would you agree with me --
10 THE INTERPRETER: Light assault forces.
11 THE ACCUSED CORIC: [Interpretation]
12 Q. -- that the light assault forces and units were established first
13 and foremost as units for anti-terrorist combat? Do you agree with me?
14 A. Well, I said that in Croatia they were exclusively intended for
15 combat operations, and so I assume that what you say is true and
17 Q. The light assault units were units which intervened, went into
18 action, if the regular forces who held the front line lost their positions
19 at the front line. Then somebody had had to intervene quickly with light
20 weapons. You know the kind of light weapons that the light assault forces
21 had. Is that part of their job too?
22 A. Yes, I would say that that could be part of their job.
23 Q. When defensive operations or offensive operation are being carried
24 out, does the military police provide security for the zone of combat
1 A. It should do, yes. An entry and exit from the zone of combat
3 Q. Right. Now, usually, generally speaking, such operations within
4 the frameworks of the military police, are they accompanied and followed
5 by smaller units of light assault forces who intervene if the defence
6 positions are being lost? Is that, too, the job of the light assault
8 A. Yes, they can be deployed in that manner as well.
9 Q. However, were you witness to the fact that there were abuses of
10 military police units, that some commanders who held command over certain
11 parts of the front line and certain positions used the light assault
12 forces for days and months to guard the line? Were you witness of that?
13 A. Well, that's the situation I came across when I arrived. I found
14 light assault forces up at the line and now -- the military policemen also
15 up at the front line.
16 Q. General, do you know that after my departure from the military
17 police, that is to say at the beginning of the November when you arrived,
18 that I left 162 killed military fighters behind me and over 500 wounded do
19 you know about that figure, those figures?
20 A. Yes and I think there may have been more people killed than the
21 figure you mentioned.
22 Q. Yes. I'm talking about the period when I was there.
23 And finally, we cooperated at a time when I was minister of the
24 interior. Do you remember that by coordinating our work and engaging in
25 joint activities we performed the following activities: First the MUP
1 took over the border. MUP took over the escort -- provided escorts for
2 humanitarian conveys and that we withdrew both police forces from the
3 front line and that we formed a joint sabotage units -- intervention
4 forces, rather, in all the municipalities, and that we solved the motion
5 difficult problems together jointly? Would you answer that, please?
6 A. My answer to all those questions is in the affirmative. Yes.
7 Q. Did you have any complaints with respect to my work or --
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] We have overstepped the time.
9 You took 15 minutes, in fact.
10 MR. KARNAVAS: Your Honour, Your Honour, I'll give him a couple of
11 minutes, I think. But I must say and I must complain that this is the
12 sort of questioning that we should be getting --
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] How does this concern you? It
14 is Mr. Coric's problem.
15 MR. KARNAVAS: Overall. Overall.
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] As a general rule, we can stay
17 here for hours, but we have been extremely flexible in giving Mr. Coric 15
18 minutes, whereas his counsel had 75 minutes, and he's not complaining,
19 Mr. Coric isn't complaining, you're complaining, unless you're going to
20 take over the defence of Mr. Coric. If so, tell us.
21 MR. KARNAVAS: I am making an observation on behalf of all of the
22 accused because this seems to be a constant topic among us. And, Your
23 Honour, you indicated that for the first time we have an expert and now we
24 have two experts and I think this is to help you. And I'm not defending
25 Mr. Coric, but I'm defending every -- my own client because I want to be
1 treated the same way. So I think a couple of minutes is not going to
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You will have two hours. You
4 will have two hours for addressing all the issues.
5 Mr. Coric, since you are the principal person concerned, what do
6 you wish to add?
7 THE ACCUSED CORIC: [Interpretation] Well, I would end with this
9 Thank you, Mr. Karnavas; I would have a lot of questions to ask
10 Mr. Biskic.
11 Q. Mr. Biskic, my last question was can you tell Their Honours, can
12 you tell the Judges whether you ever complained about our cooperation
13 during both periods when I was head of the military police administration
14 and the MUP?
15 A. Thank you. I've already answered that question. I never had any
16 problems, nor did I consider that you in any way obstructed anything or in
17 any way attempted to obstruct my work after your departure from the
18 military police.
19 Q. Thank you very much.
20 THE ACCUSED CORIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, thank you.
21 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Mr. Biskic, in answer to a question of Mr. Coric,
22 you have said that there were no command and orders issued towards the
23 warden. I am not quite sure what -- what this means. Were you saying
24 that the chief of the military police had no authority over the warden of
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I didn't say that. The
2 question that Mr. Coric asked me was whether I had seen, apart from the
3 home rule -- house rules, whether I saw any special orders or separate
4 orders or anything else, and I said no.
5 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you for that clarification.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] General, I have a question I'm
7 going to ask you, which concerns you and has less to do with the accused,
8 but it's a question which follows on from what Mr. Praljak was
9 demonstrating -- demonstrating yesterday with regard to dual citizenship.
10 If I understood you correctly, you said you arrived in the month
11 of November because you thought that having been important in
12 Bosnia-Herzegovina it was your duty to be present, to be there with your
13 compatriots who were in the same situation as you were. So it was under
14 those conditions that you joined the ranks of the HV. Do you agree with
15 what I've said so far, the summary I've made of your position so far?
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, I do agree. However, it says
17 "the Croatian army." It should say HVO. Not HV but HVO. The ranks of
18 the HVO.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Now, several months
20 ago we had the American ambassador who was in Zagreb, and he met
21 Mr. Tudjman, and the witness who testified said that the American
22 government let Mr. Tudjman understand that there were important changes at
23 the level of the HVO, and the witness told us that there were two
24 individuals who were concerned, Mr. Mate Boban and Mr. Praljak. And the
25 ambassador who was a witness told us that they -- these people were
1 removed after that.
2 Now, if we look at this chronologically, how the events came to
3 pass, it is important to note that this happened in November, that is to
4 say the precise time when you arrived there to take up your duties. And
5 on the basis of the documents that we looked through here, we saw that you
6 did an enormous task because you made decisions every day, wrote reports
7 every day, and that you did a great amount of work. But what I'm
8 interested in is whether your arrival over there in the month of November
9 was the result of your personal initiative or did somebody at the level of
10 Croatia, the Croatian government, did someone from the Croatian government
11 ask you whether you could go over there and try and assist in military
12 organisation or organisation in general terms? So did you do so at your
13 own initiative, because you decided to, or did somebody instruct you to do
14 so and ask you to go there?
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I don't know whether I
16 said this yesterday or the day before, but when I talked to the
17 Prosecutors, at the beginning of the war on the territory of
18 Bosnia-Herzegovina I asked to go to Posavina, which is where my extended
19 family lived, my family and my wife's family. However, because of the
20 duties in the ministry of the defence of the Republic of Croatia, I was
21 not able to engage directly in the HVO, and until I went to the Croatian
22 Republic of Herceg-Bosna I always had this wish, this desire, and the
23 people whom I worked with knew about that, knew about this wish of mine.
24 And I have already explained how I came to go to the Croatian Republic of
25 Herceg-Bosna, and if need be I'll repeat those reasons.
1 So I did not go there pursuant to an order of any kind. I
2 considered what Mr. Bobetko -- General Bobetko said, but it was simply a
3 way of fulfilling our duties the way each of us felt, that they should go
4 to help the country they were born in and the people they belonged to.
5 I don't know how you linked up the departure of Mr. Praljak and
6 the late Mr. Mate Boban. I don't know how they left. I know that
7 General Praljak left before we arrived. As to Mr. Boban, I think he was
8 still there when I left the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna. He
9 remained as president.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you for that very clear
12 It is 7.00. The Prlic Defence will have two hours, 60 minutes,
13 plus 60 minutes given by Mr. Pusic, which makes two hours. And as far as
14 Mr. Stojic is concerned, 75 minutes. Is that right, Counsel Ibrisimovic,
15 because I have the impression that there have been calculation problems.
16 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, we're trying to
17 establish a scheduling order. I didn't say that I gave all my time to
18 Mr. Prlic, but the time left over from my cross-examination of this
19 witness, any time left over. I won't use all my time. I'll just deal
20 with what the witness did when he arrived vis-a-vis Mr. Pusic and what he
21 did. I won't deal with the other accused.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So if I understand you
23 correctly, you're going to start off your cross-examination tomorrow, and
24 if there's any time left over from your 60 minutes you're going to give
25 that time to Mr. Prlic. So that is -- seems to be very precise. And I
1 think Mr. Karnavas will have two hours or -- well, anyway, it's 7.00. I
2 invite you back for our sitting at 2.15.
3 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 7.05 p.m.,
4 to be reconvened on Thursday, the 8th day
5 of March, 2007, at 2.15 p.m.