1 Monday, 26 November 2007
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 2.14 p.m.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Registrar, please call the
7 THE REGISTRAR: Good afternoon, Your Honours. Good afternoon,
8 everyone in and around the courtroom. This is case number IT-04-74-T, the
9 Prosecutor versus Prlic et al. Thank you, Your Honours.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. Registrar. Today
11 is the 26th of November 2007. My greetings to the representatives of the
12 OTP, they are all here. The same for the Defence counsel, the accused and
13 all the people assisting us in our work. As you know, today we are going
14 to have a witness who is to testify over two days. On Wednesday and
15 Thursday, we'll start at 8.00 in the morning, since we are going to have a
16 video conference as well as a witness who is coming for the admission of a
17 single document, so he should be pretty short.
18 Before proceeding, I'll give the floor to the Deputy Registrar --
19 to the registrar for some IC numbers, sorry.
20 THE REGISTRAR: Thank you, Your Honour, several parties have
21 submitted lists of documents to be tendered through Witness EA. The list
22 submitted by the OTP shall be given Exhibit number IC 722; the list
23 submitted by 2D shall be given Exhibit number IC 723; the list submitted
24 by 3D shall be given Exhibit number IC 724; the list submitted by 4D shall
25 be given Exhibit number IC 725; while the list submitted by 5D shall be
1 given Exhibit number IC 726. Thank you, Your Honour.
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. Registrar.
3 I wanted to point out to the parties that the Trial Chamber issued
4 several decisions last week. They were filed and I invite you to read
5 them. There is a major one, that was the second order modifying the
6 schedule. You may know it, you may not; the Trial Chamber decided that
7 the Prosecution case would finish on the 24th of January 2008. The 98 bis
8 arguments will be submitted from the 28th of January to the 6th of
9 February 2008. Each of the accused will have three hours to submit their
10 arguments. As to the Prosecution, they will have nine hours and the Trial
11 Chamber said that there would be no rejoinder, following which, further to
12 65 ter G rule, the lists will be filed at the latest the 3rd of March
13 2008. As to the pre-Defence case conference, it will be on the 13th of
14 March 2008. It is aimed, as you know, to fix the number of witnesses and
15 the time for each of the witnesses.
16 As to the beginning of the Defence case, it will take place on the
17 17th of March 2008.
18 So please read the order which was drafted in French but you
19 should receive the translation in English very shortly.
20 Let us move for -- to private session for a few moments,
21 Mr. Registrar, please.
22 [Private session]
11 Pages 25001-25003 redacted. Private session.
10 [Open session]
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] And let's have the witness
12 brought in.
13 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, we are back in open session.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. The Prosecution will
15 have three hours. The Defence three and a half hours. Mr. Pusic will
16 have one hour and the other Defence teams 30 minutes each. Of course,
17 you're free to give away some of your time, as you please. But we thought
18 that Mr. Pusic's team should have one hour for cross-examination.
19 [The witness entered court]
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Good afternoon, sir. Let me
21 check that you can hear me. If you hear me, say so, please.
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good afternoon, yes, I can hear you.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Sir, before you read
24 out the solemn declaration, please state your first name, family name, and
25 date of birth.
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] My name is Amor Masovic. I was born
2 on the 29th of November 1955 in Sarajevo.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Have you got a current
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] At present, I am one of the three
6 directors of the institute for missing persons in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and
7 the vice presiding person of the commission for missing persons.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Have you had an
9 opportunity to testify before a national or international court as to the
10 events that took place in your country or is this the first time you're
11 going to testify?
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I testified in two cases before this
13 Tribunal, in 2001, from the 20th to the 22nd of March, and from the 24th
14 to the 25th of September, and I have also testified on a number of
15 occasions before the state court of Bosnia-Herzegovina for war crimes
16 committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia, and before the
17 cantonal courts in the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and in front of
18 the district court and the council for war crimes in Belgrade.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you. So I see that you've
20 testified on several occasions, including twice before this Tribunal. In
21 which cases, could you tell me?
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] In March 2001, the -- my testimony
23 was in the trial of the Prosecutor versus Milorad Krnojelac and in
24 September, unless I'm much mistaken, of that same year it was the
25 Prosecutor versus Mitar Vasiljevic, those two trials.
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Please read out the
2 solemn declaration, sir.
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
4 the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
5 WITNESS: AMOR MASOVIC
6 [Witness answered through interpreter]
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, sir. Please sit
9 Let me provide some information regarding the way these two
10 hearing days are going to unfold, briefly, because you already are
11 experienced when it comes to testifying before this Tribunal. So you will
12 be first put questions by Mr. Stringer, based on documents he's going to
13 submit to you. I suppose you have seen the documents together with
14 Mr. Stringer, at least this weekend. Following which and this should take
15 the whole day today, tomorrow or perhaps already early -- later this
16 afternoon you will have cross-examination by several counsel, as you see
17 here today, but each Defence team represents a -- one accused and they
18 each will put questions to you in cross-examination. You have four judges
19 before you. They, too, can ask questions. Generally speaking, we put our
20 questions once the examination-in-chief and cross-examination have taken
21 place, but since you may have a document in front of you we may like to
22 put questions at that time rather than look for the document later. And
23 if we do so, we put follow-up questions as we call them.
24 As you know, we have breaks every 90 minutes and we break for 20
25 minutes. If at any time you do not feel well, just tell us so. If you
1 wish to ask a question of the Judges, do not hesitate either. Raise your
2 hand. If you do not understand a question, ask the person putting it to
3 reformulate, to rephrase it. So this is how the testimony is going to
4 take place. Let me also tell you that depending on the kind of questions
5 and answers provided, if at any point in time your answer is likely to
6 incriminate you because at the time you had certain functions, you may
7 decide or say that you do not want to answer the question. This is
8 something really quite out of the ordinary. We've never come across such
9 a situation but if it were to arise, the question -- the Trial Chamber may
10 ask you to answer the question all the same. Let me give the floor to the
11 OTP for the examination-in-chief.
12 MR. STRINGER: Thank you, Mr. President, and good afternoon to you
13 and to Your Honours, counsel and to all of the other people around the
15 Examination by Mr. Stringer:
16 Q. Good afternoon, Mr. Masovic, welcome.
17 A. Good afternoon.
18 Q. In the introduction that you've already given in response to the
19 questions from the President, you indicated that currently you are working
20 and associated with the Institute for Missing Persons in
21 Bosnia-Herzegovina; is that correct?
22 A. Yes. I'm one of the three directors of the institute, and the
23 vice presiding officer of the federal commission, that is to say the
24 commission of one of the two Bosnia-Herzegovinian entities for missing
1 Q. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions about those two
2 commissions, both the state-level Institute for Missing Persons, and then
3 also the federal or the federation level commission that you've just
4 mentioned. Can you just perhaps tell the Judges what are these two
5 entities, what are the differences between them and most importantly, what
6 are the responsibilities and the mandates of these two commissions that
7 you're associated with?
8 A. The Dayton Accords provided for the existence of two entities in
9 Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Federation and Republika Srpska. The governments
10 of both these two entities, at the beginning of 1996, passed decisions on
11 the establishment of commissions for the tracing of missing persons. That
12 was a necessity because Bosnia and Herzegovina was faced with a large
13 number of missing persons that went missing during the aggression on
14 Bosnia-Herzegovina. The number reached about 30.000, in fact. So as on
15 the basis of the peace agreement reached in Dayton, it was decided to help
16 resolve the problem of missing persons. The governments took the decision
17 or made decisions to form the commissions. The commission established by
18 the then-government of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina was called the
19 State Commission for the Tracing of Missing Persons. And I was appointed
20 as its president, and I remained in that position right up until the
21 beginning of last year when it ceased to exist, when that state commission
22 ceased to exist. At the same time, the Government of Republika Srpska
23 formed its own commission for missing persons, or the tracing of missing
24 persons, with headquarters in Banja Luka. The mandate of those two
25 commissions was in a way the same, but it also differed. It was the same
1 in the sense that both commissions had the task of tracing and looking for
2 missing persons, missing persons applies to both missing civilians and
3 missing soldiers who went missing in military operations as well as
4 persons that went missing and came from the territories of other states,
5 especially the neighbouring states. That is to say, Serbia and Montenegro
6 and at the time the Republic of Croatia, persons who went missing on the
7 territory of the former Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
8 Now, the difference in the mandates, the basic difference between
9 these two submissions, the state commission whose president I was and the
10 commission of Republika Srpska lay in the following. The state commission
11 tried, it did not always succeed, but it did try, not to differentiate and
12 make any difference between the ethnic -- ethnicities of the missing
13 persons whereas the commission of Republika Srpska engaged in the tracing
14 of missing Serbs. The state commission tried to encompass everybody
15 during their exhumations or investigations right up to the month of June
16 or July 1996, to look for all missing persons, when, at that time, in
17 Banja Luka, an agreement was signed on inter-ethnic exhumations, which
18 allowed these two commissions the right to conduct exhumations of mass
19 graves, individual graves or whatever, on the territory of the other
20 entity. In 1997, the federal commission for missing persons was
21 established which de jure was formed in 1997, but de facto started working
22 sometime later. That is to say, roughly at around the year 2000, when the
23 government of the federation started to finance it.
24 Q. Okay. And let me just jump in at this point because I want to
25 clarify, the federal commission that you've just mentioned, formed in
1 1997, this then would be a commission comprised of representatives of the
2 Croat and the Muslim or Bosniak communities then in Bosnia-Herzegovina; is
3 that correct?
4 A. That's right, yes.
5 Q. Okay. And then again getting back to the institute for missing
6 persons which you are associated with also at this time, it's my
7 understanding that this institute for missing persons or MPI, as it's
8 called, is a more recently established entity under the law at the state
9 level of Bosnia-Herzegovina and that it is intended then to bring together
10 representatives of the three groups or nations as well as the
11 international commission for missing persons; is that correct?
12 A. The agreement on co-financing of the institute that you're
13 referring to was signed between the government of Bosnia-Herzegovina or,
14 rather, the council of ministers, and the representatives of the
15 international commission for tracing missing persons on the 30th of August
16 2005. And since it was an international agreement, what was needed was
17 that it be ratified by the parliament of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and that
18 followed several months later. I think that took place on the 28th of
19 November 2005, and from that day on, from November 2005, up to the present
20 day, the institute has been in existence, the institute for tracing
21 missing persons, it has the directors, the supervisory board, executive
22 board, it still does not have the necessary employees but we expect to
23 have a full staff once the papers and documents of the institute are
25 Q. Okay. And is it correct to say, Mr. Masovic, that in one capacity
1 or another, you've been directly involved at a high level with the
2 commissions responsible for locating and identifying missing persons in
3 the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina in the years since the conflict ended
4 in 1995?
5 A. That's right. I'm the president of the commission at state level.
6 I am the deputy chairperson of the federal commission, dating back to
7 1997. And I'm one of the three directors of the institute for tracing
8 missing persons since March 2006.
9 Q. And as I understand it, you're also a member, currently, of the
10 federation parliament in Bosnia-Herzegovina as well; is that correct?
11 A. Yes. That's right. I'm a deputy in one of the two houses of the
12 federation of the parliament of the country.
13 Q. Okay. Now, I'd like to take you back, then, just to briefly
14 describe for the Trial Chamber the role that you played prior to the end
15 of the conflict in respect of prisoners of war, prisoner exchange and
16 attempts to locate missing persons at that time before the conflict ended.
17 Were you involved in that and if you could tell us a bit about the extent
18 of your involvement?
19 A. When the aggression against the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina
20 started, that is to say, already in April 1992, the then-Government of the
21 Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina formed a commission which was called the
22 state commission for the exchange of prisoners of war and persons who have
23 been deprived of liberty, and records of persons who were killed, wounded
24 or missing. And I joined that commission in the second half of August
25 1992, and for a time I was a member of that commission, and for a time I
1 was also the vice-president of the commission, and in the latter stage,
2 after the Dayton Accords, I was the acting president of that state
3 commission. The commission's mandate emanated from its title. Well, it
4 did what its title said. It was in charge of seeing that as many
5 prisoners of war as possible or civilian persons who were in detention in
6 enemy camps or prisons be freed through the process of exchange, and the
7 other essential task of the commission was to make records of all those
8 who had been killed, wounded or missing, persons killed, wounded or
9 missing during the conflict.
10 Q. Okay. Now, can we say that during -- that Sarajevo is your home
11 and that this is the place where you were based and that you worked from
12 during the entire time of the conflict and afterwards?
13 A. That's correct. Throughout all that time, Sarajevo was also the
14 seat of all these commissions, both during the war and after the war, save
15 for the commission that I spoke about which was seated in Banja Luka, the
16 commission for the missing persons of the Republika Srpska.
17 Q. And then in directing your attention now to the summer and to the
18 fall, the autumn, of 1993, then, is that when you became involved yourself
19 in respect of prisoner exchange, prisoners of war issues, as between the
20 Armija and the HVO, the Muslims and the Croats, in that conflict?
21 A. I was not directly involved in the exchanges but one may say I was
22 involved indirectly by receiving information from the commissions that
23 were part of the state commissions that were called district commission
24 for exchanges. They would inform me about the exchanges that had been
25 undertaken at the local levels between the BiH army and the Croatian
1 Defence Council, and this went on up to autumn 1993 approximately, and
2 after that, I became directly involved in the process of liberating
3 prisoners which involved the BiH army and the Croatian Defence Council.
4 Q. Okay. So that prior then to the autumn of 1993, you were focused
5 primarily or perhaps even exclusively on prisoner issues in respect of the
6 conflict with the Serbs?
7 A. That's correct.
8 Q. Do you know a gentleman named Berislav Pusic?
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] One moment, please. Yes,
10 Mr. Ibrisimovic?
11 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] I believe that there is a
12 mistake in the transcript. The gentleman said that he occasionally
13 received information, not all the time. Occasionally he would receive
14 information from the district commissions up to autumn 1993, and it was
15 recorded that he received information all the time.
16 MR. STRINGER: Well, I don't think that's what is reported at
17 least in the English transcripts. I'm looking at line 1 of page 15 where
18 it simply indicates the witness said that he was involved indirectly by
19 receiving information from the commissions. I don't know that the witness
20 said that he received information all the time. I don't think it's a very
21 important point but I could ask the witness to clarify that,
22 Mr. President.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes. But I thought you were
24 going to ask that question. Since you haven't I'm going to do that
1 Sir, we understand that as of the month of August 1992 you were in
2 charge of taking care of prisoner exchanges in Sarajevo but I'm interested
3 in this. Before August 1992, what were you doing? How come you were
4 appointed to that position? What were you doing before August 1992?
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Before August 1992, I was attorney
6 at law in Sarajevo.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So you were a lawyer, attorney
8 at law and who appointed you in August 1992?
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] In 1992, in the month of August, I
10 was appointed as a member of the state commission, and the members were
11 appointed by the Government of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you for the information.
13 MR. STRINGER: Thank you, Mr. President.
14 Q. Now, Witness, I just before the intervention, I --
15 A. What was your question? You asked me whether I knew
16 Mr. Berislav Pusic and my answer to that is yes.
17 Q. Okay. Can you tell us when you first met Mr. Pusic personally?
18 A. I believe that I first met him in Medjugorje in the headquarters
19 of the Spanish Battalion, the then protection forces also known as
20 UNPROFOR, on the 29th of December 1993.
21 Q. Okay. In front of you you have a binder of exhibits and you and I
22 have had an opportunity to go through most of these previously. Let me
23 direct you to Exhibit 7417. P 07417.
24 Now, sir, this is a report dated the 31st of December 1993. It
25 appears to be over the signature or I should say over the name of
1 Mr. Pusic, and it's referring to a meeting that you had with him on the
2 29th of December. Can you tell the Trial Chamber, please, the
3 circumstances that led to this meeting and what you remember about the
4 meeting, why it is at this point that you were meeting with Mr. Pusic in
6 A. The circumstances that led to my departure from Medjugorje are
7 partly clear from the document that I have before me. After the
8 negotiations or various attempts at negotiations about the exchange of
9 prisoners of war at local level, and when I say local level, I mean one
10 part of Herzegovina comprising Mostar, Jablanica, Prozor, Konjic, and
11 Capljina, there was a stalemate in the negotiations at the local level.
12 In the meantime, three sticking points surfaced in the relations between
13 the BiH army and the Croatian Defence Council. In addition to the ongoing
14 topical subject, at least when it came to the BiH army, and that was the
15 issue of camps, i.e., prisons, in the territory under the control of the
17 Therefore, there were the three following topics that arose which
18 were a direct cause of my departure for Medjugorje: The first one was the
19 13 imprisoned members of the BiH army who were captured on the 10th of May
20 1993 in a building popularly known as Vranica building, and the footage of
21 that event and their appearance before the cameras of the Croatian
22 television were not only in the region but also across the world, and this
23 is what resulted in a very electrified atmosphere in the territory of
24 Mostar and the territory under the control of the BiH army because the
25 parents of these soldiers wanted the problem to be resolved.
1 Q. Mr. Masovic, I'm hearing you talk and I'm also listening to the
2 interpretation, and although the interpreters haven't said anything yet
3 it's possible that it would assist them if you could try to speak a little
4 more slowly so that they can be sure to capture all of your words and put
5 them into the languages that we are all listening in here. So I apologise
6 for cutting you off there. You were talking about --
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, I'd like to say something.
8 Mr. Masovic, when I asked the question, I learned that you were attorney
9 at law and you are now an MP so you know what you are talking about. The
10 prosecutor presented to you a document. It is mentioned in English,
11 "exchange of detainees". And whilst I was listening to you, I heard you
12 say, "prisoners of war". This is what I want to know: When you mention
13 the exchange of prisoners, are we speaking about military detainees,
14 military prisoners, or military and civilian prisoners? Because in this
15 document, at least in the translation in English, which may not be
16 absolutely faithful to the original, it is indicated as being the
17 Commission for Exchange of Detainees and Other Persons. Therefore I
18 suppose the other persons are civilians. So when you're answering the
19 question put to you, do make a distinction, please, between prisoners of
20 war, who generally are military personnel that have been captured, and
21 those who have a civilian status so that we know where we are going. You
22 have the floor again, Mr. Stringer.
23 MR. STRINGER: Thank you, Mr. President. I'll try to bear that in
24 mind myself in the questions that I'm asking, although it is my intention
25 to explore this issue in greater detail with the witness.
1 Q. Mr. Masovic, now that we have this little bit of a break because
2 you were giving us a lot of information and so I'd like to break down a
3 little bit what it is that we have so far in respect of this exhibit,
4 7417. You had indicated first of all, I believe, that there had been
5 negotiations taking place at a lower level or at a different level which
6 had reached a sticking point, I think was at least the words I got in
7 English. And if you could just very briefly amplify on that, the extent
8 to which negotiations and communications had been taking place prior to
9 your involvement in the Mostar area in respect of prisoner exchange, as
10 far as you knew, who was doing the talking on the side of the Armija or
11 the Muslims?
12 A. Before I answer your question, if you will allow me, Your Honours,
13 I would like to go back to what you said about the status of prisoners of
14 war. In my further testimony, when I speak about prisoners or prisoners
15 of war, I'm always going to imply both categories, both the prisoners in
16 terms of the Third Geneva Conventions and civilians in terms of the Fourth
17 Geneva Conventions, given the fact that both groups were in the camps, in
18 the prisons, sometimes they shared or often they shared the same rooms,
19 and they were treated the same way by the prison or camp authorities. All
20 of the negotiations from the beginning of April 1992 to the Dayton peace
21 accords that took place and that I was involved in, be it with the Serb
22 side or the Croatian side, always involved both categories of prisoners,
23 to put it that way. In other words, as I provide my further answers when
24 I say prisoners, I will imply both categories.
25 And now, as far as the prosecutor's question is concerned, I said
1 in the introduction to my testimony that my first immediate contact with
2 regard to the exchanges of prisoners from the territory of Herzegovina
3 took place on the 19th of October 1993. I was a member of a mixed
4 delegation consisting of governmental and non-governmental officials,
5 namely the then-Minister of External Affairs, Mr. Silajdzic, Mr. Ivo
6 Komsic, Mr. Andjelovic who was a priest, and I represented a local level.
7 There was another representative of a commission from Konjic. We
8 discussed the exchange of prisoners between Herzegovina and Konjic. That
9 exchange comprised a large number of people, I believe around 800
10 prisoners altogether were liberated on that occasion, on the 19th of
11 October 1993.
12 In the negotiations on the Croatian side, there were members of
13 the HVO from Konjic, nobody from Mostar. They were rather all from
14 Konjic. On that occasion, the army released 309 prisoners from Konjic and
15 the HVO released approximately 550 people from Herzegovina and from two
16 prisons in the vicinity of Konjic including the so-called Tuzla
17 delegation, a delegation consisting of nine civilians, among whom was also
18 a Muslim mufti from Tuzla, Mr. Husein Efendi Kavazovic. I will go back
19 now to the reasons for my departure to Medjugorje because I-- I'll give
20 only one reason which was the Vranica group. The second reason for my --
21 Q. Sorry to interrupt. I wanted to get back because you may have
22 misunderstood my last question so perhaps I could just direct your
23 attention to the third paragraph of the document that's in front of you
24 there, in which Mr. Pusic is writing that the republican commission of the
25 ABiH have not been fully informed. He's saying that there is another
1 meeting that is scheduled in shortly after beginning of January and so I
2 just wanted to ask you briefly again, this indicates that there had been
3 some negotiations between Mr. Pusic and others prior to your involvement.
4 And I just wanted to ask you if that is -- corresponds to what you said
5 earlier about negotiations in the Mostar area that had been taking place
6 at a lower level with Mr. Pusic?
7 A. Precisely so. The third paragraph is correct. The negotiations
8 took place at the local level, between the east and west part of Mostar.
9 They were partly successful. They resulted in some exchanges of
10 prisoners, some handovers of the fallen soldiers or civilians, up to the
11 moment of the blockade which was the reason for my going to Medjugorje.
12 Q. And then in terms of issues that resulted in this blockade or
13 this -- the sticking points, as you were mentioning, one of which, the
14 first one, you've already described and we will be talking about it in
15 much greater detail, the issue of the Vranica, the soldiers captured at
16 the Vranica building, is -- well, why don't you tell us, there were two
17 others, I believe, that you wanted to tell us and if you could just
18 indicate for the Trial Chamber briefly what were the other two issues that
19 were causing this blockade in negotiations?
20 A. The second reason for the stalemate was the capturing of between
21 70 and 73, the figures differ, of members of the HVO and several members
22 of the Croatian army in the Herzegovina region. They were kept in the
23 Armija's prison in the eastern part of Mostar. The Croatian side, i.e.,
24 the Croatian Defence Council, was very interested in their release.
25 However, in a certain way, all further negotiations about the release of
1 these men were stipulated from the Eastern Mostar, i.e., they depended on
2 the information about the destiny of the Vranica prisoners, namely the
3 families of those prisoners put a lot of pressure on the command of the
4 4th Corps of the BiH army to involve those people in the negotiations and
5 to have them released, as they were seen on TV screens. And these
6 families put an ultimatum to the army.
7 Q. So then as I understand it, the issue of any release of the HVO
8 prisoners or HV prisoners from East Mostar was linked or was dependent
9 upon a similar resolution of the issue of the Vranica prisoners? You need
10 to say yes or no for the record.
11 A. That's correct. At that time, those two issues were mutually
12 dependent, and one depended on the other. The third reason for my
13 departure for Medjugorje was the blockade of two medical helicopters of
14 the BiH army in Medjugorje. Those helicopters were part of the medical
15 corps and their task was to transport the wounded between Zenica and
16 Central Bosnia to Split for treatment there. Or further transfer to third
17 countries for treatment or recovery. These helicopters, as far as I can
18 remember, were grounded by force in Medjugorje and kept there. After
19 that, Croatian families of the 70 Croats who were kept in -- as prisoners
20 in Eastern Mostar blocked those helicopters and the eight-member crews
21 including a nurse, were urgently evacuated to the Spanish Battalion base
22 in Medjugorje. The helicopters were -- remained in a school playground or
23 a plateau, I'm not sure that there was a school in question. And the
24 Croatian families said that they would only allow the helicopters to take
25 off if their family members were liberated from the prison in Eastern
2 There was another reason for me to go to Medjugorje and that was
3 the task that I had been given directly from the then-President of the
4 Presidency of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mr. Izetbegovic, and the
5 task was to try and establish the lot and release the assistant commander
6 for logistics of the 4th Corps or the -- of the BiH army, Mr. Mirsad
7 Mahmutcehajic whose lot was not known at the time. It was not known
8 whether he was among the living. Also Mr. Zijad Demirovic who was a
9 highly positioned member of the SDA party in Herzegovina. At that time
10 his lot was not known either. So those were the reasons for my going to
11 Medjugorje and participating in the negotiations there on the 29th of
12 December 1993, all the reasons that I have just mentioned.
13 Q. It sounds as though, then, all of these -- all four of these
14 reasons that you've described, Vranica, the helicopters, HVO prisoners,
15 Mr. Mahmutcehajic and Demirovic, these were all linked together or had
16 become linked together in one way or another by the sides?
17 A. That's correct. Throughout all these talks, the things got so
18 complicated that all these things depended on each other and were mutually
19 conditioned. You said four reasons. And I would say that the first
20 reason that I said at the beginning was to try and establish the real
21 condition of the total number of prisoners in the camps in Herzegovina and
22 parts of Central Bosnia in which the Croatian Defence Council had its
23 prisons or camps. That was the first and the principal reason, and then
24 there were some particular reasons after that, the four that I mentioned,
1 At that meeting in Medjugorje, we also discussed certain
2 individual cases, such as was the case of Mersa Krzic, who had been
3 arrested. She had been the director of the Natron Maglaj company. On the
4 other side, Mr. Sandrk participated in those negotiations and he inquired
5 about the lot of 200 Croats from Bugojno who according to him had been
6 taken away in the direction of Gornji Vakuf, and their lot was not known.
7 He asked me to inform him about the lot of these people. And there were
8 also some other individual cases discussed on that date, on the 29th of
9 December 1993.
10 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... Let me take you to the next
11 paragraph, then, after the one we were just looking at. This goes a
12 little bit toward the issue or the question raised by the president
13 already. This document indicates, according to Mr. Pusic, that it's
14 necessary or he's asking them to submit a list of the detained persons of
15 the Muslim ethnicity held in prisons "under your control," and this is a
16 document that's being directed to the Tomislav military district, the Rama
17 brigade. Could I ask you just to comment on that issue, the extent to
18 which during this period there were persons of Muslim ethnicity, whether
19 or not civilians or soldiers, who were in the custody of the HVO in these
20 various locations?
21 A. It's very difficult for me to tell you precisely because
22 immediately before the meeting in Medjugorje on the 29th of December 1993,
23 I believe over 3.000 prisoners had been liberated pursuant to an order
24 which was believed to have arrived from Mr. Tudjman, the President of
25 Croatia, and there order was carried out through Mr. Mate Boban, i.e.,
1 through the Commission for Exchanges of Prisoners that was run by
2 Mr. Pusic. I believe that by then already 3.000 people had been released
3 and we did not have the exact information about the remainder of the
4 prisoners in the Herzegovina prisons, as well as in some other camps and
5 prisons in Livno, Kaonik, Kiseljak, Kresevo and so on and so forth. I
6 believe that at that time, however, it was believed that some 700-plus
7 prisoners were still kept in the prisons and camps of the Croatian Defence
9 Q. Let me direct you to another exhibit in the binder, sir. It's
10 marked as Exhibit 6929. And Mr. Masovic, this is not a report or a
11 document made by you or one that you would have seen at the time but there
12 are just a couple points in it that I'd like to raise with you. I'm
13 looking about halfway down the first page of the English, the original
14 language version. And this is making reference to a meeting in Medjugorje
15 which doesn't appear that you were present at but it may be that you can
16 comment on some of these issues. There is a reference to Mr. Pusic
17 informing that he was not prepared to accept an all-for-all exchange. Do
18 you see that part?
19 "At the second meeting with the president of the HVO prisoner
20 exchange committee, Mr. Berko Pusic, he informed ECMM that in this
21 instance he was not prepared to accept all-for-all as it would mean HVO
22 releasing 2500 Muslims and receiving only 70 HVO prisoners."
23 And then this continues down a couple lines, makes a reference to
24 the issue of the helicopters, as you've already described, and so
25 recognising that this document is dated just prior to about a month prior
1 to your involvement, 28th of November 1993, I wanted to ask you about two
2 things. First of all, the HVO position, based on you knew it to be and
3 after you did get involved, in respect of all-for-all exchange. What does
4 all-for-all mean?
5 A. Well, Mr. Pusic says that in the document, all-for-all. And
6 all-for-all meant that the ratio of those freed would be drastically --
7 well, under inverted commas, of course, to the detriment of the Croatian
8 Defence Council. Now, why do I say that? Because in the camps or prisons
9 of the Croatian Defence Council, throughout the time, from the very
10 beginning of the conflict, right up until the end or rather the Washington
11 agreement and after the Washington accords as well, throughout that time,
12 there were mostly civilians there or a far greater number of civilians
13 than there were members of the Armed Forces of the Republic of
14 Bosnia-Herzegovina, or in this case members of the BH army. And
15 liberation or setting people free according to the all-for-all principle
16 in certain times would mean for the HVO a ratio of one to ten, for
17 example. That is to say that the HVO had to release ten prisoners,
18 Bosniaks, and for that only one HVO member would be released or one Croat.
19 So that kind of agreement was not to the advantage of the HVO, and
20 Mr. Pusic, not just once but a number of times, at meetings, although
21 sometimes he emphasised that he did wish to have the all-for-all principle
22 in the exchange, in the implementation of these kinds of agreements, the
23 all-for-all ones, there was always some obstruction or some additional
24 conditions laid down which deferred the process or overrode these
25 agreements of all-for-all exchanges.
1 Q. Beginning with your first meeting with Mr. Pusic, then, on the
2 29th of December 1993, could you give the Trial Chamber in general terms
3 an idea of how many meetings then you had with Mr. Pusic on the issues of
4 prisoner exchange during the time prior to the end of the conflict in
5 Bosnia-Herzegovina in November of 1995? I want to break up your testimony
6 between the pre-conflict and the post-conflict period. So this period of
7 time prior to the end of the conflict, how many meetings did you have with
8 Mr. Pusic in respect of prisoner exchange issues?
9 A. Up until the signing of the peace agreement for Bosnia and
10 Herzegovina in Dayton or rather in Paris, I think that the number of
11 meetings, there were a number of meetings held to discuss the exchange of
12 prisoners of war or the question of missing persons was dealt with after
13 the Washington agreements and I'm sure there were more than 50 such
14 meetings, and some of them went on for several days, two or even three
15 days. So the meetings were interrupted, then taken up the next day, then
16 they weren't completed the following day but went into the third day. So
17 I think there were more than 50 such meetings in different areas including
18 Medjugorje where they mostly took place. Then they were held in Kiseljak,
19 in Sarajevo, in Gornji Vakuf, Tuzla and I think -- yes, in the post-Dayton
20 period there were some more meetings outside Bosnia-Herzegovina, but after
22 Q. What was the focus -- can you describe whether there is any
23 change, then, in the focus of the meetings and the discussions you were
24 having with Mr. Pusic at the time the conflict was still taking place
25 versus then after the conflict ended?
1 A. If I wanted to be brief and precise, and to depict the real image
2 for you, so you could understand, in the war period, that is to say up to
3 the signing of the Washington agreements, when the BH army and the
4 Croatian Defence Council were in play, and in the focus of the meetings
5 were living persons. That is to say, POWs, people who were alive,
6 including civilians. Now, in the post-Dayton period or post-Washington
7 period, what they focused on, what we focused on in our meetings were the
8 dead, the missing which were later seen to be dead. They turned out to be
9 dead, not just missing. So during the war we dealt with living people.
10 In the post-war period we dealt with the missing and dead.
11 MR. KARNAVAS: Just a point of clarifying, Mr. President and
12 Your Honours. He keeps talking about the post-war period and he's
13 interchanging between Washington agreement which is the creation of the
14 Federation, and of course the Dayton peace accords signed in Dayton and
15 then after in Paris. Which one does he mean? And again, the indictment
16 stops at a particular point in 1994. Now, unless there is some contextual
17 purposes, I just think we need to be a little more focused and perhaps a
18 little more precise with the gentleman.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes. Would you kindly be a
20 little bit clearer in what you're saying?
21 MR. STRINGER: I'll try to clarify that, Mr. President.
22 Q. Witness, we know that the conflict between the Croats and the
23 Muslims ended with the Washington agreement at the beginning of March
24 1994. And let's focus on your dealings with Mr. Pusic prior to the
25 Washington agreement and during the couple of months that followed, and
1 I've got some documents to show you that relate to that, and so -- and
2 then we'll talk a bit -- then we'll talk about the issues that follow in
3 respect of the missing persons and dead in the years that followed the
4 Washington agreement.
5 During this period of time, your meetings with Mr. Pusic, prior to
6 and around the time of the Washington agreement, just tell us, based on
7 your observations, what was his title, what was his role, what was his
8 level of responsibility and authority in respect of the prisoner issues?
9 A. Well, I'm going to tell you what I know about. And what I know
10 about is this: That he was the number one man or the chief of the
11 commission or service for the exchange of prisoners of war and other
12 persons, although already at the time in Medjugorje I learnt that in a way
13 he did some other things too, which had nothing to do with the exchanges
14 and that kind of thing was the evacuation of civilian persons from
15 territories under the control of one armed force to another territory
16 controlled by another force or, rather, BH army territory to HVO
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Now I'm rather surprised
19 actually, and I'll tell you why. You said that you met Mr. Pusic for the
20 first time at Medjugorje on 29th December 1993. The conflict between the
21 HVO and the ABiH goes back to September 1993 but before that as well, we
22 know that from the witnesses that have come already from 1992 it's clear
23 that there were conflicts, there were prisoners taken, so given that, you
24 appear to be, number 1, in charge on the Bosnia-Herzegovinian side and
25 then according to what you say, your counterpart Mr. Pusic represented the
1 HVO. How is it that you only met each other in December? That's the
2 particular point that I don't follow. Can you explain that? The conflict
3 therefore goes back actually at least a year in time. In fact rather more
4 than a year.
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The conflict, the mass conflict
6 between the BH army and the Croatian Defence Council started from
7 mid-April 1993. So that's when I met Mr. Pusic for the first time. That
8 is to say six months after the conflict actually began. And I explained
9 in my introduction the reasons for that. The first reason was that up
10 until then, up until my direct contact with Mr. Pusic, things functioned.
11 That is to say, they evolved on a local level in Central Bosnia, Travnik,
12 Zenica, Stari Vitez, Vitez, Busovaca, Kiseljak, in Herzegovina, around
13 Mostar, Konjic, Jablanica, Prozor, exchange did take place both of
14 prisoners of war and the bodies of persons who had been killed. So there
15 was no need for me physically to be present at meetings with Mr. Pusic.
16 So that's one reason.
17 The second reason is the following: Sarajevo and that's common
18 knowledge, I believe, was under a complete siege, blockade, on the one
19 hand, and after the conflict with the Croatian Defence Council, Mostar too
20 was completely blocked off. So that every time I had to leave Sarajevo, I
21 would have to rely on assistance given to me by the protection forces
22 because the only way in which I could reach Jablanica, which was under the
23 BH army or to East Mostar under the BH army's control or Medjugorje under
24 the HVO's control, the only way was for me to get into an APC and for the
25 UNPROFOR protection forces to transport me there, which wasn't easy.
1 There were incidents along the way, there were situations where my life
2 was endangered, in these APCs, but their details, I don't know whether
3 they are essential now for me to tell you about them.
4 But six months after the massive conflict between the BH army and
5 the Croatian Defence Council was the first time I physically met
6 Mr. Pusic. I have already said that before my meeting with Mr. Pusic, and
7 that was on the 19th of October 1993, a major exchange took place. I
8 don't know whether Mr. Pusic took part and if so to what extent in this
9 massive exchange but it was agreed upon in Konjic on the territory that
10 was controlled under the BH army, and a Mr. Pusic -- since Mr. Pusic was
11 not directly involved in the negotiations to free more than 800 prisoners,
12 including the Tuzla delegation, with the mufti, Husein Efendi Kavazovic.
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you very much indeed for
14 your answer which does actually clarify for me that you only met in
15 December 1993. Mr. Stringer?
16 MR. STRINGER: Thank you, Mr. President.
17 Q. Witness, my last question to you, and you've answered it, which
18 was to describe in general terms the role and the responsibilities of
19 Mr. Pusic as you observed them to be based on your dealings during this
20 period just before and just after the Washington agreement. Let me ask
21 you now, based on that experience with Mr. Pusic during this period, and
22 perhaps also based on your experience on the October 1993 release which
23 you've already talked about, could you tell us your observations,
24 conclusions in respect of HVO policy in the taking of prisoners and the
25 release of prisoners, whether they be civilian or military?
1 MR. KARNAVAS: Mr. President, if I may object at this point, there
2 is a lack of foundation. If -- there are two parts to this question; the
3 first part is the taking of prisoners. Now, I want to know exactly what
4 are we talking about? And secondly, what is his foundation for this, what
5 is the basis of his knowledge? He comes into the situation at a
6 particular point so at months, which place, what events. If we could take
7 it step by step.
8 MR. STRINGER: Mr. President, the question was very limited to the
9 witness's dealings with Mr. Pusic during the period just prior to and just
10 after the Washington agreement. So let us say end of December, January,
11 February, the witness will talk about dealings and agreements with
12 Mr. Pusic in March as well. In addition, the witness has testified about
13 his dealings with others in the HVO in October 1993 and I expressly asked
14 the witness about that so I think the foundation has been laid and the
15 Trial Chamber and counsel are obviously free to --
16 MR. KARNAVAS: He asked about a policy. That's what caught my
17 attention first of all, and I believe there is a lack of foundation. He
18 can talk about what his dealings were with a particular individual or
19 individuals at a particular time but now to ask about a policy of events
20 such as "the taking of prisoners," that's his words, not mine, I'm not
21 adopting them, unless he can lay a foundation, we are talking about a lot
22 of events in a lot of different places. The gentleman does not have, at
23 least to my knowledge, he doesn't -- he doesn't -- he lacks the foundation
24 at this point. It's beyond his -- unless he can lay it through a series
25 of questions, non-leading, hopefully.
1 MR. STRINGER: Well, Mr. President, the witness is dealing with
2 the HVO authorities about Muslim persons under their control. I think the
3 witness is competent to testify about who those people are, they are the
4 prisoners who have been taken, and the HVO policy in respect of releasing
5 those people.
6 MR. KARNAVAS: Now, I just want to make sure that I understand
7 because now we're twisting it a little bit. We are talking about HVO
8 policy of release. First it was HVO policy of taking and that's what drew
9 my objection. I just want to make sure, what are we talking about? It
10 was a compound question to start with.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Stringer, would you
12 reformulate your question? I follow the discussion where I think you
13 referred to December 1993 going through to just before the Washington
14 agreement, March 1994, and it's for that period that you wish the witness
15 to provide the Court information you're talking about Mr. Pusic; is that
17 MR. STRINGER: Yes, Mr. President.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Would you reformulate the
19 question and relate it to a specific time period?
20 MR. STRINGER:
21 Q. So, witness, then the time period that I'd like to ask you about
22 is the months of January, February, March and April of 1994, and my
23 question first of all, I asked you about policy in respect of taking of
24 prisoners. Let me ask it this way: Based on your dealings with Mr. Pusic
25 and the HVO, as well as your experience with the HVO in the October 1993
1 release that you testified about, what was the general composition, who
2 were the prisoners, in the camps, in the custody of the HVO? Were they
3 civilians, were they soldiers, were they both? What can you tell us about
4 the nature of the Muslims who are referred to by Mr. Pusic in the exhibit?
5 Muslim -- persons of Muslim ethnicity.
6 A. I'm not going to talk about politics and policy. I'm going to
7 tell you about practice, the practice that I witnessed, and about what
8 Mr. Pusic told me personally not only me but the representatives of the
9 international community as well, including the ICRC. And Mr. Pusic said
10 the following: "All men between 18 and 65 years of age are soldiers, and
11 they should all be in camps or prisons." And that practice, and I had an
12 opportunity of checking that out by talking to hundreds and hundreds of
13 prisoners who had been released from camps in Herzegovina, in particular,
14 that practice was implemented. That is to say, people were 18 to 65, but
15 not only them. In the prisons, there were boys or young boys who were not
16 yet 18. And there were those who were over 65 years of age. So that was
17 the practice that was applied.
18 The second practice that was partially successful, partially,
19 which Mr. Pusic implemented and advocated publicly, was this: He
20 maintained that all Croatians who lived on the territory not under HVO
21 control were potential prisoners and that it was his task to see that
22 those people were transferred from that territory, the territory where
23 they were potential prisoners, to territory under the control of the
24 Croatian Defence Council. So that practice too in countless cases was
25 implemented. Sometimes the local authorities allowed this to take place.
1 Sometimes they did not. And I'm talking about the local authorities in
2 this case on territory under BH army control, with the proviso that the
3 status of those categories of those civilian persons depended from case to
4 case. It differed from case to case. The vast majority of them were in
5 their own homes, in their houses, in their apartments, but there were
6 other cases where those civilian persons were not in their own homes.
7 They were not in their own flats. They were in some refugee centres and
8 there were also cases and I have to say that quite openly, be quite frank,
9 that some of those civilians were also deprived of their liberty and that
10 was at the level of incidents that took place. So there were cases where
11 a civilian would be captured without any legal basis.
12 Q. Let me take you back to the first point you just raised, which was
13 the practice of -- or the view that all the Muslim males between the ages
14 of, I believe you said 18 to 65, are prisoners. That practice, then, when
15 it was implemented and they were arrested, when it came to release, did
16 that raise any particular issues or dilemmas on the side of the Muslim
17 negotiators such as yourself?
18 A. Mr. Pusic asked us for assistance in putting that kind of practice
19 into effect, the principle of a one-for-one exchange. Now, in
20 implementing agreements like that, what Mr. Pusic asked me personally to
21 do was that we should release the persons who were in prison, HVO members,
22 and in certain cases members of the Croatian army, whereas in return, on
23 the principle of one-for-one, he would release the Bosniak individuals who
24 were in this category of civilians ranging in ages between 18 and 65, who
25 were incarcerated in camps or prisons held by the HVO. So for us in
1 Sarajevo, for the government, for the Presidency, we were faced with a
2 moral dilemma, whether to agree to release from prison an HVO member, for
3 example, who had been captured, and in reciprocity to have a Bosniak
4 released by the other side. Some international organisations such as the
5 High Commission for Refugees, High Commission for Refugees, exerted direct
6 pressure on the government in Sarajevo to undertake this type of exchange
7 of, well, in inverted commas, POWs.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] This principle, one-for-one, we
9 have been talking about this awful principle for sometime now. But can we
10 clarify this? In the areas which were controlled by the ABiH, wasn't the
11 same practice adopted? Wasn't it also the case that civilians were
12 arrested, Croatians aged between 18 and 65 years old, and following that,
13 all-in-all was implemented? This is a question that I'm asking you.
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No. That wasn't the practice. That
15 wasn't the rule. I said that there were incidents and cases like that
16 where Croatians, civilians, without any legal grounds, were taken off,
17 taken into custody and taken to prison. That happened sporadically, as
18 incidents. But the rule that the government adhered to, as did the BH
19 army, was that it was only the POWs who could be held in prison and could
20 be exchanged in the sense of the Third Geneva Convention and those
21 civilian persons of Croatian ethnicity who had been captured or rather who
22 had been incarcerated for crimes that came under the republican laws of
23 Bosnia-Herzegovina recognised as crimes and that were brought into
24 connection with the war conflict, however that law was not applied only to
25 Croatian civilians. The law was also applied to all civilians regardless
1 of their ethnicity and they were crimes that they had committed such as
2 armed rebellion, for instance, refusal to be mobilised. Another case in
3 point, illegal possession of weapons or explosives. So the kinds of
4 criminal acts that everybody could be held responsible regardless of their
5 ethnicity. So those are the two categories. And if we are speaking of --
6 people of Croatian ethnicities who were in the prisons.
7 MR. STRINGER: Mr. President, I believe it's time for the break.
8 MR. KARNAVAS: Just -- and perhaps just one observation,
9 Mr. President. I noticed that earlier he had talked about when the Croats
10 are in -- are being detained, they are in refugee camps. When the Muslims
11 are being detained, they are in prisons. The Croat men of military age
12 which they had to serve they are civilians when they are captured where
13 the Muslims of military age which they had to serve they are somehow
14 treated as prisoners. I believe this deserves follow-up questions that
15 should not be dealt on cross-examination but rather the Bench perhaps
16 should elicit information from this particular gentleman. He seems to be
17 making some rather interesting distinctions which fly in the face of logic
18 and common sense not to mention the law that was applying at the time.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you very much, indeed.
20 You will have noted that was the reason I asked my earlier question but
21 Mr. Stringer I think will certainly come back to this and if necessary the
22 judge will as well. It's now quarter to 4.00. We are going to take a
23 20-minute break.
24 --- Recess taken at 3.45 p.m.
25 --- On resuming at 4.06 p.m.
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The hearing is resumed.
2 Mr. Stringer, you have the floor.
3 MR. STRINGER: Thank you, Mr. President.
4 Q. Mr. Masovic, let me take to you a different exhibit now. It's
5 toward the front of the binder, number 5945. This goes to the issue that
6 was raised just before the break, 5945 is a -- it's an interview of
7 Mr. Pusic that's published on the 19th of October 1993 in the publication
8 "Slobodna Dalmacija" and I want to take you to one of the questions and
9 Mr. Pusic's response to the question and ask you to give us your comment
10 on that. I can't take you to the Croatian version, but I want to go to
11 the fifth page of the English version, at the bottom, and the journalist
12 is asking Mr. Pusic: "Have you been holding talks about the release of
13 detained Croatian soldiers?" Were you able to find that part in the
14 original language version? The question is: "Have you been holding talks
15 about the release of detained Croatian soldiers?"
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Now, the response that's given is Mr. Pusic indicates that they
18 are negotiating the release of both civilians and captured Croatian
19 soldiers, "At the moment the Muslim side does not consider the civilians
20 prisoners but in my opinion, every civilian is a potential prisoner, if he
21 is not free to go where he wants.
22 "So at first sight, all these are irrelevant details which the
23 Muslim side in almost all negotiations presents as its conditions knowing
24 that we cannot agree to them, all with the aim of preventing the exchange
25 of detainees."
1 Now, this statement of Mr. Pusic's, is that consistent then with
2 the views that he expressed in his dealings with you about who the
3 prisoners are, how the prisoners are defined, at least in respect of the
4 Croats, either civilians or soldiers, who were in the territory held by
5 the Armija?
6 A. Yes, yes. What he said corresponds to what I have stated.
7 However, the point is not Mr. Pusic's claim that they are all potential
8 prisoners. Behind that statement, you can discern a very dangerous
9 intention. And the intention was, and I've already spoken about that
10 practice, that those civilians should be taken out from their places of
11 residence and transferred from those territories where they were all
12 alleged potential prisoners to be transferred to the territory under the
13 control of the HVO. That was the intention, i.e., that was the common
14 practice that was in place, based on this statement of Mr. Pusic that all
15 of them were potential prisoners.
16 Q. Now, on the Muslim side, then, what was the Muslim policy in
17 respect of these proposals to exchange all Croats for example, who were in
18 the areas held by the ABiH?
19 A. I can't answer that question because I don't know what were the
20 policies of the side that you're referring to as the Muslim side. Such a
21 side did not exist, as far as I know, in the conflict in
22 Bosnia-Herzegovina. I can talk about the policies of the government that
23 appointed me as the head of the commission for the exchanges of POWs.
24 Q. And that was my question. What were the policies that you were
25 implementing based upon the instructions you received from the government?
1 A. My task was to participate in the negotiations about the exchange
2 of prisoners of war and persons deprived of liberty, which implied a
3 circle of individuals who found themselves in the prisons in the territory
4 under the control of the government and those individuals had either been
5 convicted or charged with a limited number of crimes stipulated by the
6 then-law that could have been considered to be in connection with the
7 armed conflicts as it is defined in the agreement dated 1st October 1992,
8 which was reached in Geneva, at the time when there were still no
9 large-scale conflicts between the BiH army and the Croatian Defence
10 Council. In other words, that agreement in Geneva provided for the
11 release of prisoners of war and civilians who were imprisoned in
12 connection with the crimes that had to do with the war conflicts. That
13 was the policy of the government in Sarajevo as well as the policy that I
14 was duty-bound to implement in practice when I was involved in the
15 exchanges of POWs and persons deprived of freedom.
16 Q. Was it the policy of the government that all males between the
17 ages of 18 and 65, who were of Croat or non-Muslim ethnicity, that all
18 such males would be arrested and held by the Armija for exchange purposes?
19 A. No, absolutely not. I don't know how is it possible to state
20 something like that, given the well-known facts that such individuals of
21 non-Bosniak ethnicity throughout the whole period of the aggression
22 against Bosnia-Herzegovina, there were hundreds of thousands of such
23 individuals residing in the territory under the control of the government
24 forces. In Sarajevo alone we are talking about over 60.000 such people.
25 In Tuzla as well, in Zenica, in Bihac and in other towns and settlements
1 that were under the control of the government throughout the aggression.
2 If this were true, if that policies were in place, all those people would
3 have found themselves in prison, which did not happen. And the best proof
4 of that are the reports of the International Committee of the Red Cross
5 which had access to the prisons and camps, if we are talking about the
6 Serb forces and partly about the Croatian Defence Council. In order to
7 illustrate my words I'm going to give you some data. When it comes to the
8 relationship between the BiH army and the HVO, the number of exhumed
9 victims in the territory --
10 Q. I'm going to ask you that question in a little bit. We are going
11 to be talking about the recent exhumation and I'm going to be asking you
12 for some figures on that, Mr. Masovic, so let me just take to you that
13 point in my outline by first going to Exhibit number 8084.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] One moment, before we move to
15 that exhibit. I'm still with the interview given by Mr. Pusic. In this
16 framework, he says that according to the reports he has available, 10.149
17 Croats are allegedly detained in the prisons of the Republic of Bosnia and
18 Herzegovina, and based on this figure, a question is put to him how many
19 civilians are there, how many soldiers are there? And he says there are
20 3.149 soldiers. As for the remainder, they are civilians. So if I
21 subtract that I have 7.000 Croat civilians who are detained by the Muslim
22 side. What do you think of this? Are these figures exaggerated ones?
23 Are they real figures? What do you have to say as to the figures
24 mentioned by Mr. Pusic?
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Never ever, until this very day, did
1 I see a list of prisoners, either prisoners of war or civilians that would
2 show these numbers. None of the international representatives saw it
3 either. And to be honest, I don't think that Mr. Pusic ever saw the list
4 either. This list simply cannot exist because these names and family
5 names simply do not exist anywhere. I would find it intriguing if such a
6 list were presented during this trial, since there is a claim that it
7 exist in the records. Quite the contrary: Throughout the conflict, the
8 number of people missing, first imprisoned and then missing, and I'm
9 talking about members of the HVO or Croatian civilians, according to the
10 BiH army, never surpassed the figure of 1100, not for a single moment and
11 I'm talking about the combined number of prisoners of war and civilians
12 together. I'm also saying that the number of prisoners of war I --
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Sorry, but you're talking about
14 potential prisoners, and the journalist asking the questions asks how many
15 Croats there are that would be detained according to the ICRC records.
16 And he answers, 850. What do you think of that?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This is precisely what I've just
18 said. I started saying that a number of registered according to my
19 information never surpassed the figure of 1100, and I believe that this
20 corresponds with what Mr. Pusic said in the interview about the
21 International Committee of the Red Cross figures.
22 MR. STRINGER: Thank you, Mr. President.
23 Q. While we are on the Red Cross, let me take you to Exhibit 7852,
24 7852. Do you recognise this, sir, as a letter that was directed to you by
25 the ICRC, the Red Cross?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Now, the date of this letter is the 12th of February 1994 so this
3 is getting close to the time of the Washington agreement. The second page
4 of this exhibit contains numbers according to the ICRC of the number of
5 Muslim prisoners who are detained as of this time; do you see that?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. My question is whether, in your view, the figures that were
8 published or provided to the two parties, the two sides, by the ICRC
9 tended to be in your view accurate or not accurate? Is this in your view
10 a fairly accurate indication of the number of Muslim prisoners who were
11 being held at this point?
12 A. Yes. This is relatively correct, but I know for certain that
13 subsequently, the ICRC registered in some of these places some other
14 prisoners that were not on the original list, and I'm talking about
15 Kiseljak, Livno, in Grude and Grude is missing from here completely, and I
16 believe that the ICRC subsequently registered another prison in Grude
17 whereas I don't see Grude as a prison here.
18 Q. The next exhibit I wanted to take you to is Exhibit 8084. And
19 while you're finding that exhibit, Mr. Masovic, I'll just say that what we
20 are doing now is we are moving a couple of weeks after the Washington
21 agreement, to the 17th of March 1994. You recognise this as an agreement
22 that you and Mr. Pusic signed in respect of remaining prisoner releases to
23 take effect after the Washington agreement?
24 A. Yes. I recognise this. This is the Gornji Vakuf agreement dated
25 17 March 1994, which was signed by Mr. Pusic and myself in the presence of
1 some witnesses.
2 Q. In paragraph 1.1 of that document, it provides that on the 19th of
3 March 1994, a variety of prisoners will be released from different
4 locations; do you see that?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. There is a reference -- there is a reference here to 73 prisoners
7 from the prison in Mostar. Do you know who that is referring to? Which
9 A. This refers to the prisoners that we have just discussed because
10 of whom I went to Mostar in December 1993. They were members of the HVO
11 and several members of the HV who had been imprisoned in East Mostar.
12 They were one of the reasons for which the exchange process reached a
13 stalemate at one point.
14 Q. So the issue of getting release of those prisoners was never
15 resolved until this time a couple weeks after the Washington agreement was
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Praljak?
18 THE ACCUSED PRALJAK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, the witness
19 has several times mentioned several prisoners of the HV. Can we have
20 their names in order for us to be able to prepare until tomorrow and see
21 who these people actually were and what happened to them?
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes. Could you ask the witness?
23 The problem is that Mr. Praljak says that he needs the names for
24 cross-examination. He needs to know who these people are.
25 Sir, you spoke about HV prisoners. We are talking about the
1 Croatian army. How many of them were there? In this document you and
2 Mr. Pusic signed, do we find an explicit mention of these HV prisoners?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] They are not mentioned in this
4 document. If the fact that they were in the prison in East Mostar is in
5 dispute, I can try and obtain their names before tomorrow. I can try. I
6 don't know whether I will succeed. I don't know them by heart. If there
7 is any dispute about the fact that they were members of the HV.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] [Previous translation
9 continues] ... according to you, so were they members of the HV army who
10 were imprisoned in East Mostar? How many? 10, 20? Five? Do you have
11 any figure?
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. There were prisoners in
13 East Mostar, very few of them, maybe two or three altogether, and they
14 were not the first members of the Croatian army that had been taken by the
15 BiH army. Somewhat before that we had handed over the bodies of nine
16 members of the HVO [as interpreted] who had been killed in an operation.
17 They were handed over to Mr. Pusic at the local level. They were members
18 of the HV.
19 MR. STRINGER: Thank you, Mr. President. My only observation
20 would be that I know that General Praljak has excellent counsel and I'm
21 sure they will be able to investigate that as well before tomorrow.
22 Q. The other part of this document that I wanted to take you to is
23 paragraph 2.1 and it's just staying with the first paragraph 1.1, 1.1 is
24 talking about a release of prisoners that is to take place simultaneously
25 on the 19th of March; do you see that?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. And then in paragraph 2.1, there is what appears to be envisioned
3 a second round of releases that is to take place on the 22nd of March; is
4 that correct? Is that how it was to work?
5 A. Yes. Precisely so. That's how it worked. That's how it was
7 MR. KARNAVAS: If I could ask my learned colleague to ask
8 non-leading questions? This is a rather critical area. If we can just
9 get a narrative so he can lay the foundation of what the procedure was,
10 but for counsel to be leading and prodding this particular witness, who
11 he's had several days at least to question and to proof, I don't think
12 it's quite appropriate and the gentleman is a lawyer as well. He's a
13 professional witness, in other words.
14 MR. STRINGER: Well, Mr. President, if I'm leading, I apologise.
15 I think it's pretty self-evident I'm trying to keep things moving but we
16 can ask the witness to describe what's being talked about in this
17 paragraph. I'm actually mostly interested in the prisoners from
18 Central Bosnia, Zepce, Novi Seher, Maglaj, Zenica and had intended to ask
19 the witness specifically what he recalls about those prisoners who were at
20 the Heliodrom.
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] As it is written in the agreement,
22 that's literally how it was implemented. So everything it says in the
23 agreement was realised in the way in which it was written. I'm reading
24 the provisions of the entire agreement and also speaking on the basis of
25 my recollections and I think that each of the individual points including
1 point 3 of 2 was implemented as the ICRC had stipulated.
2 MR. STRINGER:
3 Q. And then just to finish this document, 3.1 then makes a reference
4 to a final exchange or release, I should say, that is to take place on the
5 24th of March. Do you see that?
6 A. It's a meeting, not release. We agreed to meet again on the 24th
7 of March 1994 in Gornji Vakuf, in order to discuss the release of all the
8 remaining prisoners of both sides. And I think that the meeting took
9 place in Mostar, if I remember correctly, and that we didn't adhere to the
10 letter of the agreement in that sense because it was in Mostar rather than
11 what it says here but I'm not quite sure, but I think it was the 24th of
12 March anyway.
13 Q. Do you remember what the issues were that were delaying the
14 release of these prisoners who had come from the Central Bosnia areas?
15 A. The only reason, as far as I recall, was a certain lack of
16 confidence and trust that prevailed between the two sides or between us as
17 the heads of the commission, whether the other side would abide by what
18 had been agreed and put it into practice, in view of certain previous
19 agreements which had not been implemented and our experience there. So
20 the only reason that I can remember is that quite simply we needed to see
21 how the release would function of the 19th and 22nd of March so that the
22 last stage of the release to be effected.
23 Q. Now, this agreement then appears to --
24 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Sorry, if I may in this context, does that mean
25 that these prisoners from Central Bosnia were kept as some sort of a pawn,
1 almost like hostages, by the HVO?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It's difficult to answer that
3 question. We did agree to agreement like that, to developments like that.
4 And my signature was placed on the agreement. I wasn't forced by anybody
5 to sign it but I did sign it. That's what the agreement was like. And
6 that's how we implemented it. Now, I can't remember in this particular
7 case why it was that people from Central Bosnia were the last or amongst
8 the last to leave Heliodrom, but I can just assume or guess at why that
9 happened. The exchange was agreed at the level of Mostar, and the most
10 important prisoners on both sides were from the Herzegovina area. So at a
11 local level, in Herzegovina, it was important to pull the people out as
12 soon as possible from that part of Bosnia-Herzegovina. What could have
13 happened possibly, the number of people from Central Bosnia remained in
14 the group of the last people to be released because of that.
15 JUDGE TRECHSEL: May I ask whether on the other hand, and I don't
16 find an answer in this document, whether the -- your side also had a
17 certain reserve of prisoners that they with held for later release?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] That we held a certain number of
19 prisoners? Well, there were a number of prisoners whom we released
20 subsequently, and I think they were prisoners from the prison in Sarajevo
21 and Zenica and possibly in some other places but those prisoners were left
22 for the second stage of the release process. It wasn't the prisoners from
23 Central Bosnia and Heliodrom held by the HVO. They weren't the only
24 left-over prisoners in the conflicts between the BH army and the HVO. So
25 the government, I think, had some ten or more prisoners in prisons in
1 Sarajevo and Zenica and I think in Travnik as well, who were released in
2 the subsequent stage.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Ibrisimovic? Just a moment.
4 Before we give Mr. Ibrisimovic the floor, can I just follow on from this
5 question already raised? In paragraph 3.1, it states that on the 24th of
6 March, there is to be a new meeting held because you sign a document on
7 the 17th of March 1994. In paragraph 3.1, it states that there are still
8 prisoners held in Central Bosnia by the HVO and by the ABiH but in
9 paragraph 3.2, which has to be related to paragraph 3.1, it states that
10 the HVO requests that there be a visit to Tarcin and Smijovic [phoen] in
11 order to verify whether any Croats are being held in captivity in those
12 locations. Isn't that actually the real reason for waiting one week to
13 sort everything out? Since there were suspicions that there were people
14 still being held in Mehurici and in Tarcin?
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour. I think that
16 that's exactly how it was. So I was talking about a certain dose of
17 mistrust between the representatives of the commission and Mr. Pusic
18 already in Vakuf and I think that was recorded by the representative of
19 the international community as well, he insisted upon the fact that the
20 government was holding in some secret places a certain number of Croats,
21 and he requested that the ICRC visit those so-called secret places. The
22 international -- ICRC committee did that and reported back to us. They
23 told us that there were no secret prisons or any new secret prisoners, so
24 then we continued with the process of releasing prisoners overall.
25 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. Might
1 I be of assistance to the Trial Chamber and Mr. Masovic with regard to
2 paragraph 2.2 and that is what the asked by Judge Trechsel was on, Catici
3 and Vares were mentioned and that was under the BH army's control. Now,
4 could the witness explain the status of Catici to us, please? And that
5 will perhaps make it more understandable and the people who were in Catici
6 as well?
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] In paragraph 2.2, there is mention
8 of three different locations. One of them was under the control of the
9 Croatian Defence Council and that was called Rotilj. And it's a suburb of
10 Kiseljak in actual fact, under HVO control. The other two locations
11 mentioned are Vares, which at that time was under the control of the BH
12 army. And it was specifically in Vares that 32 members of the Croatian
13 Defence Council are mentioned who were released from prison there. So
14 they were at liberty on the territory of Vares which was under the control
15 of the BH army.
16 Now, the third place that was mentioned is a place called Catici,
17 that too was under the control of the BH army. Now what the status was of
18 persons in these three locations should be looked at. Rotilj had an
19 undefined -- they had an undefined status, their status was not clear.
20 People that I interviewed who had left Rotilj claimed that they had been
21 captured and held contrary to their own will, held in Rotilj. However, I
22 think - let me repeat, I think - that the ICRC when it visited these
23 people, did not record these people as having been captured, as persons
24 captured, but as some individuals who found themselves in isolation and
25 the ICRC used the term "isolated persons" referring to these people in
1 Rotilj. So that was what I can tell you with respect to Rotilj.
2 Now, Vares. Vares is what it says here, 32 former HVO members,
3 had been taken prisoner and in keeping with the provisions of the
4 Washington accords, were released from prison and later on they were able
5 to move around and go where they wished. I think there were 30 or 31 of
6 them who left the Vares territory and just one of them stayed on in the
7 territory of Vares. Anyway, they were allowed to move around, they were
8 given free passage and when they were transported from Vares, they weren't
9 people who had been deprived of their liberty.
10 Now the third group of persons were Croats, I think they were
11 exclusively or almost exclusively civilians who happened to find
12 themselves at the base of the French Battalion, the French Battalion's
13 base in Catici. And that's what it says in this agreement, in the
14 paragraph of this agreement that was signed by Mr. Pusic and myself. Now,
15 if you want to ask me why they happened to be in the French Battalion base
16 in Catici in the first place, my answer would be probably because they
17 didn't feel safe and secure in their own homes near Catici or in Catici
18 themselves where they lived. So they found themselves under UNPROFOR
19 control and they were not individuals who had been captured or deprived of
20 liberty, neither were they isolated persons as being isolated by the
21 government forces. This agreement provided for the fact that for
22 exclusively humanitarian reasons the problems of all these persons in
23 Rotilj, Vares and Catici be resolved and that is what was done.
24 MR. STRINGER: Thank you, Mr. President.
25 Q. So Mr. Masovic, then, just to bring this document to a close, I
1 think you've indicated that to a quite a large extent, the agreement, the
2 various items provided for in this agreement, were ultimately implemented
3 and the prisoners were released in accordance with this agreement,
4 certainly for the most part; is that correct?
5 A. I think that this agreement was implemented in its entirety, with
6 the exception of the meeting in Gornji Vakuf, but that's not essential.
7 It was to have taken place on the 24th of March but I think that actually
8 it did take place but not in Gornji Vakuf but rather in Mostar, if my
9 memory serves me.
10 Q. So there was resolution in respect of the 70 or the 73 HVO and HV
11 soldiers that were one of the sticking points items from the beginning?
12 Is that correct?
13 A. I'm not sure I understood the question. What did you ask me?
14 Q. Initially, your initial involvement was in part related to the
15 issue of the HVO --
16 A. Ah, yes, yes, and my answer to your question is yes, this did
17 resolve the problem of the 73 HVO and HV members. This agreement resolved
19 Q. Now another issue you mentioned early on was the situation
20 involving Mr. Demirovic and Mr. Mahmutcehajic. Are you able to tell the
21 Trial Chamber whether this agreement or any other ultimately then resolved
22 the issue of their release or their detention?
23 A. Well, it was a form of political agreement, if I can put it that
24 way, which took place between two presidents, Mr. Izetbegovic on the BH
25 side and Mr. Tudjman on the Croatian side and then subsequently, after
1 that, this was confirmed by the foreign ministers of Bosnia-Herzegovina
2 and the Republic of Croatia, that is to say, Mr. Silajdzic and Mr. Granic,
3 and I implemented it later on without the participation of my opposite
4 number, Mr. Pusic, who was opposed to the agreement.
5 The agreement was as follows: It said that two HVO members who
6 had been arrested in Sarajevo because of having committed some crime of
7 treason or whatever, because they were the commanders of a brigade, the
8 commander and deputy commander of a HVO brigade in Sarajevo, Mr. Slavko
9 Zelic and another deputy of his, I've forgotten his name just now. Anyway
10 the agreement was that those two should be released and that the HVO on
11 the other side shall release Mr. Mahmutcehajic as the top-ranking officer
12 of the BH army held in captivity throughout the conflict in
13 Bosnia-Herzegovina, both between the Serb and Croatian side and Mr. Zijad
14 Demirovic be released too. Now, I arrive with Mr. Slavko Zelic by
15 UNPROFOR helicopter. I came to the confrontation line, if I can call it
16 that, because the Washington agreement had already been signed but
17 nonetheless there was still a check-point between the BH army and HVO
18 south of Mostar in a place called Bisce Polje, I believe, and the other
19 gentleman who was supposed in the helicopter with me refused to cross over
20 into territory controlled by the HVO so he stayed on in Sarajevo and this
21 created a fresh problem because after that, on the Croatian side, to all
22 intents and purposes, the exchange was brought into question, according to
23 the two-for-two principle.
24 I was forced, from Mostar, to telephone Mr. Mato Granic and talk
25 to him, as well as Mr. Bozic and Mr. Izetbegovic, as well as
1 Mr. Silajdzic. I also had to talk to Mr. Pusic and contact all those
2 people and I think some others too, Mr. Orucevic another one, and after a
3 certain amount of trouble over a period of four or five days, Mr. Zelic
4 was with me in Mostar but it was decided ultimately that the exchange
5 should take place but that it would be two-to-one, that is to say, that
6 the HVO should release Mr. Mahmutcehajic and Mr. Demirovic and that the
7 government should release Mr. Zelic in view of the fact that this other
8 member of the brigade command, the Kralj Tvrtko Battalion, refused to
9 cross over into HVO-controlled territory and that took place on the 29th
10 of March 1994. Two prisoners, Mr. Mahmutcehajic and Mr. Zelic --
11 Q. Mr. Masovic, we are being asked to have you slow down just a bit
12 for the interpreters and also the court reporters. I think actually
13 you've brought us right to the end of that --
14 A. Well, I finished what I had to say.
15 Q. Yes.
16 A. Well, I wanted to add was that Mr. Pusic did not attend the actual
17 handover of these two prisoners. He was angry with me because allegedly,
18 I had done this without his knowledge, worked without his knowledge,
19 towards the release of Mr. Mahmutcehajic and Mr. Demirovic and the ICRC
20 brought in the prisoners without the presence of the representatives of
21 the commission or Mr. Pusic.
22 Q. Now, your agreement with Mr. Pusic 19th of March or 17th of March,
23 I should say, did that then result in resolution of the other sticking
24 point which was the Vranica issue, the issue of the Vranica soldiers who
25 had been captured and had gone missing on the 10th of May 1993?
1 A. When we drew up the agreement, I was conscious of the fact
2 although I didn't have direct evidence of this, that 13 members of the BH
3 army from Vranica were not alive and that in a way it would not be
4 rational and not opportune or reasonable and wise to insist that they be
5 released while holding all the other prisoners in camps and prisons
6 belonging to the HVO. I didn't think that would be wise because of these
7 13 people to leave more than a thousand others in camps.
8 Q. Now, we are now at a point in time that is after the Washington
9 agreement so that the hostilities have for the most part ended and, as you
10 indicated before, now the mission for you and for Mr. Pusic as well, I
11 would think, changed, the focus of your work changed; is that correct?
12 A. Several other exchanges were to take place, the last taking place
13 on the 21st of April, I believe, and then Mr. Pusic and I focused our
14 attention on the second part of our mission, that is to say, to record and
15 investigate the fate of all those who from the beginning of the conflict,
16 that is to say from 1992 onwards, had disappeared or were missing and that
17 nothing was known of their fate.
18 Q. So from this period, then, say, end of March 1994, going forward
19 then into the years that followed the conflict, how many years, then, did
20 you communicate, negotiate, with Mr. Pusic in respect of locating missing
21 persons? How long did that relationship between you and Mr. Pusic
22 continue after the conflict ended?
23 A. Well, our contacts more or less intensely went on for as long as
24 Mr. Pusic was in the federal commission for tracing missing persons, and I
25 think that was sometime in 1999, when Mr. Pusic, by the then-High
1 Representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina, was replaced because of certain
2 activities in another commission at state level, and that commission was
3 called the commission for de-mining.
4 Q. So during this then post-conflict period from March-April 1994
5 until the time that he was no longer involved in the missing persons,
6 approximately how many times did you meet with him in respect of these
7 issues of locating, finding missing persons?
8 A. Sometimes those meetings were more intensive, sometimes less. We
9 would meet in different places for different reasons, but I think that we
10 met more than 60 or 70 times in all. We would meet on the territory of
11 Bosnia-Herzegovina and outside BH territory. Sometimes to deal with the
12 problem of missing persons, sometimes we were parts of other delegations
13 such as the central commission for missing persons. Then there was a
14 joint military commission of some sort, and we were members of some other
15 structures and organs where generals would meet or high-ranking officers
16 who met from both sides to discuss some current problem.
17 Q. Tell the Trial Chamber please the issue of the missing Vranica
18 soldiers, how much of an issue did that remain in the months and the years
19 immediately following the end of the conflict? How prominent an issue was
20 that for you?
21 A. It was very important for the position that I occupied and the job
22 I did because the problem was one that was a burden to our relations, to
23 the two sides' relations, even after the establishment of peace, after the
24 Washington agreements. Relationships particularly in Mostar were highly
25 tense because of the problem of missing persons in Vranica and even while
1 I'm testifying the problem still exists. It still hasn't been resolved.
2 And even today, 14 years post festum after they had been captured and
3 after they had gone missing it's still a problem for people on the east
4 and west bank of the Neretva River.
5 Q. And why is this particular issue, these 12, what has, in your
6 view, raised this to the issue of such importance or significance in the
7 Mostar area?
8 A. Their status is specific, if you compare the status of other
9 prisoners or other prisoners who are missing. We have a list of missing
10 persons made up by the International Red Cross committee, people
11 registered in Heliodrom or some other camp, and we still haven't found
12 those persons. We still have lists of them. But the problem of the 13
13 Vranica prisoners took on special significance because of the fact that
14 the act of their having been captured was filmed, it was caught on
15 camera. And then their families and their co-fighters and nearest and
16 dearest or relations of theirs saw them being taken prisoner alive and
17 this is footage that is frequently shown on Bosnian television stations to
18 commemorate the anniversary of when they were captured, every 10th of May
19 that footage is shown again and again. So that is why the problem is kept
20 alive of those 13 prisoners. They weren't the only BH army members who
21 were captured and went missing but that's why they take on such a lot of
22 importance if you compare them to all the other events and incidents.
23 MR. STRINGER: Mr. President, Exhibit P 09036 is a short video
24 clip that we've prepared. I think the same images are already in
25 evidence. We think that this particular one is a bit better quality so we
1 decided to use this one today, and I'll ask if we can just show the video
2 segment that we've got and then I'm going to ask the witness some
3 questions about that.
4 [Videotape played]
5 MR. STRINGER:
6 Q. Mr. Masovic, is that at least some of the video that you've just
7 mentioned in terms of its having been broadcast in the -- in
9 A. Yes. That's precisely that footage. A shorter version of the
10 whole tape.
11 Q. Now, let me take you to your binder, Exhibit 8542. Do you
12 recognise this document, sir?
13 A. If this is a document called "Press release for the general
14 public," this is not the document that I --
15 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... I don't think you have the
16 right one, 8542.
17 A. I apologise. I recognise this document. This is a document I
18 drafted and signed and submitted to the families of the Vranica prisoners.
19 Q. Now, I think we should clarify at the beginning, because this
20 document contains the names of 12 individuals, already in your testimony
21 you've made reference to 13 prisoners. So could you clarify for the Trial
22 Chamber, please, what the 12 comes from and what the number 13 then comes
24 A. On the video footage that we just saw, you can see 12 members of
25 the army captured in the Vranica building and that indeed was the case.
1 12 of them were captured in the Vranica building. The 13th person who is
2 mentioned very often within the context of the Vranica building or the
3 prisoners from the Vranica is Fedja Huskovic. He was indeed captured on
4 the same day, also he was a member of the BiH army. His parents also
5 resided in Mostar and his parents also joined the other parents, the other
6 12 sets of parents, of the prisoners, in order to raise the awareness of
7 the international local public in order to help them and to learn about
8 their destiny. However, that person was not captured in the Vranica
9 building together with the others.
10 Q. Okay. And he's not on the videotape?
11 A. No. He does not appear on the videotape. And the moment of --
12 when he was captured was not recorded by a film camera.
13 Q. I'd like to direct you to the very last sentence that you write in
14 this certificate and ask if you could just explain what you're referring
15 to here? What you're saying is that the explanations given by the HVO
16 saying that some of those persons are currently abroad are not acceptable
17 for the state commission.
18 What are you referring to there?
19 A. During my initial contact with Mr. Pusic, on the 29th December
20 1993, when I raised the question of the destiny of the 13 members of the
21 army who had been captured in the Vranica building, Mr. Pusic told me
22 something along these lines. Eight of them are alive. Ask Orucevic about
23 their destiny. He was the one who exchanged them.
24 At that moment, I didn't know how reliable that information was or
25 wasn't. Obviously I got in touch with Mr. Orucevic as well as with some
1 other people who were in Mostar involved in the process of exchanges. For
2 example, the men called Safo Orucevic, Sefkija Djiho and Alija Alikadic,
3 and they told me that this was not correct because none of them ever
4 appeared alive, none of the 13 of them. In other words, when Mr. Pusic
5 told me that Mr. Orucevic had exchanged those 8 of the 13 men from Vranica
6 and sent them abroad this was obviously not accurate, and this is the
7 intention of my last sentence in which I inform the parents' committee
8 that the explanation given by the HVO saying that some of those persons
9 are currently abroad are not acceptable to the state commission.
10 Q. Now, and just so it's clear, you mentioned Mr. Orucevic; is that
11 Mr. Safet Orucevic who was mayor of Mostar at the time?
12 A. Yes. Mr. Pusic actually told me, ask Safo Orucevic about the
13 destiny of these people. He'll tell you.
14 Q. The next Exhibit is 8565, 8565. Now, Mr. Masovic, if I could just
15 direct your attention to the bottom, if you recognise the signature down
16 there at the bottom of this communique, tell us what this document is and
17 who has signed it?
18 A. The document was signed by Mrs. Azra Penava, I suppose. She was
19 Fahir Penava's wife. This is a communique for the public which followed
20 at the local level in Mostar after the session of the Presidency of the
21 municipality of Mostar. At the session, the problem of the 13 prisoners
22 from Vranica was discussed amongst other things.
23 Q. And this person, Azra Penava, she's just so we are clear, can you
24 tell us again who is she is? The record isn't quite clear on that at the
1 A. Mrs. Penava was the wife of one of the 12 members of the BiH army
2 who had been captured on the 10th of May and who appeared on the video
3 footage that we have seen today.
4 Q. And I wanted to ask you -- well, does she play any particular role
5 in respect of all of the families of these missing soldiers from the
6 Vranica building?
7 A. I would say that all of them together played a very important role
8 throughout all that time because they put pressure on the authorities,
9 which unfortunately did not bear any results. They have not stopped
10 putting that pressure for 14 years now. I personally have received over a
11 hundred letters from the Amnesty International organisation, from various
12 countries, from various continents, and in all of these letters, the
13 representatives of the Amnesty International have been inquiring about the
14 destiny of the 13 army members from the Vranica building. Obviously I
15 have never been able to tell them much, but that we are still trying to
16 find what their destiny is but without any success. Mrs. Penava was the
17 head of that committee and she was the most active member of the -- that
18 committee. She has been the most active member of the committee for 14
19 years now.
20 Q. Exhibit 8595. It's the next one in the binder. This is dated the
21 17th of August 1995. Do you recognise this as a letter from Mr. Pusic?
22 A. Yes. According to the letterhead and the signature, this will be
23 the letter that Mr. Pusic sent to the office of the ombudsman of the
24 federation in reference to the disappearance of three men that he mentions
25 here, they were members of the BiH army. One of them was from the group
1 of 12 from Vranica. The third person on the list, Fahir Penava.
2 Fedja Huskovic is also mentioned among the 13 but he's not in the footage.
3 And also Fadil Djelilovic [phoen] is mentioned, and he is one of the
4 persons of whose destiny I don't know anything at the moment.
5 Q. I wanted to direct your attention down below that. There is a
6 reference to BH army general Jusuf Prazina, nicknamed Juka. And I wanted
7 to then ask you to -- whether you, in any of your conversations with
8 Mr. Pusic or whether Mr. Prazina's name has come up with connection with
9 these prisoners from the Vranica building?
10 A. I didn't mention him but Mr. Pusic often mentioned Mr. Prazina as
11 a -- the person who allegedly was familiar with the destiny of the 13
12 members of the BH army from Vranica. He repeated it on several occasions,
13 even before the letter sent to the ombudsman and later throughout all the
14 time while Mr. Pusic was active in the commission for the missing persons.
15 Q. Do you know who this person, Jusuf Prazina is? Was he a member of
16 the ABiH or do you know his status?
17 A. Mr. Prazina was the commander of one of the local units in
18 Sarajevo of the BiH army for a while, and then because of some things that
19 bordered on crime or were considered to be criminal acts, the way was
20 found for him to be demobilised and to leave Sarajevo. After that, at
21 least this is what was speculated at the time, he was outraged for having
22 been expelled from the army and allegedly he joined the units of the
23 Croatian Defence Council. I know that there were some problems for a
24 while, that he held a point south of Jablanica, that people were robbed
25 there, travelling from Mostar to Sarajevo, and then rumour had it that he
1 had joined the units of the HVO. I don't have any direct information. I
2 am speaking from the knowledge that I gained from the media and from what
3 I heard on the grapevine in Sarajevo at the time. After the war,
4 allegedly, he was killed in a showdown somewhere in Western Europe, I
5 believe in Belgium but I'm not sure.
6 Q. Do you recall having a conversation with Mr. Pusic about the
7 Vranica prisoners that took place in Geneva or I should say in the area of
8 Geneva, Switzerland?
9 A. I remember that conversation. This was one in a series of
10 conversations about Vranica which had taken place before Geneva and after
11 the meeting in Geneva. Mr. Pusic, myself and several others --
12 Q. Forgive me, let me just ask a couple of questions that lead up to
13 this. Tell us, first of all, when did this particular meeting take place?
14 Do you recall the month and the year, the date?
15 A. Mr. Pusic and I were in Geneva between 16 and 21 July 1997. In
16 Geneva or in the vicinity of Geneva. During the meeting of the working
17 group of the International Committee of the Red Cross for the missing
19 Q. Had you and Mr. Pusic been participating in a series of meetings
20 of this working group?
21 A. Yes. We were both active representatives in that working group
22 and we both participated in its work. There were the so-called active
23 representatives and observers. Mr. Pusic and I were in the ranks of the
24 active participants, i.e., the representatives of the working group for
25 the missing persons.
1 Q. Then in the course of this series of meetings in Geneva, you had a
2 conversation with Mr. Pusic about Vranica, the Vranica prisoners?
3 A. As for the conversation about the prisoners from Vranica, there
4 was such a conversation but not in Geneva. This was during the period
5 between the 16th and 21 July 1997.
6 Q. Why don't you just tell the Trial Chamber then about the meeting
7 where it took place.
8 A. On the last day of the 11th meeting of the International Red
9 Cross, i.e., the working group in Geneva, the ICRC organised an excursion
10 for all the participants in the meeting. We were taken to the Geneva Lake
11 and we were also taken to Montreux. It was and the 20th of July 1997.
12 Mr. Pusic and I were talking on the lake in -- near the monument to
13 Freddie Mercury, the frontman of the Queen band. Mr. Pusic had a very
14 interesting proposal for me. He told me literally that he was prepared to
15 give 16 members of the BiH army from Vranica should I give him 21 Croats
16 who had been captured in Bugojno by the government forces and who had gone
17 missing after having been captured. They were taken from the prison and
18 nothing further was known about their destiny. At that moment, this was a
19 surprise for me because this was the first time a reference was made to 16
20 prisoners. Before that, the reference was always made to either 12 or 13
21 prisoners. The first time ever Mr. Pusic mentioned the figure of 16 which
22 I was not clear on at first, and later on, on reflection, I suppose that
23 he wanted to strike a balance between the 16 members of the army and 21
24 members of the HVO from Bugojno because he might have thought that this
25 would have been the way for him to learn about the destiny of those
1 members of the HVO. I did not pay too much heed to that offer.
2 I immediately replied that I would try and investigate although I
3 knew even at that moment that it would be very difficult or impossible for
4 me to obtain any information about these persons from Bugojno because
5 already at the time it was almost certain that none of them had survived
6 and that after having been taken from the prison, they were actually
7 killed and the place where they were buried is not known. At that moment,
8 already, I knew that I could not and I wasn't able to accept that proposal
9 by Mr. Pusic but I promised I would investigate. After that I did not pay
10 too much attention to that proposal, i.e. 16 for 21 because I believed at
11 that moment that it was not a serious proposal on the part of Mr. Pusic.
12 I did not take that proposal seriously.
13 Q. Excuse me. In respect of these prisoners, these are HVO prisoners
14 from Bugojno, correct? To this day do we know the fate of those men?
15 A. Certainly nothing is known about the destiny of those 21 men who
16 had been in the prison and taken from it. It is absolutely certain, after
17 14 years, that they are no longer alive.
18 My colleague, Marko Jurisic and I tried to investigate. We went
19 to six or seven different locations including a diving team that did a
20 search in a lake near Bugojno. We followed a trace. We were digging. We
21 had contacts with the alleged perpetrator of a crime against these people.
22 Unfortunately, all this was to no avail and to this very day, I am not
23 aware of their destiny.
24 Q. At this meeting in which Mr. Pusic discussed these Vranica
25 prisoners with you, was anyone else present?
1 A. My colleague from the commission who was in charge of the Mostar
2 region, her name was Sanja Mulac, she was nearby. Later on, I tried to
3 talk to Sanja Mulac about that and she was equally surprised when she
4 heard Mr. Pusic's proposal mentioning a total of 16 members of the BiH
6 Q. Let me take you to the last document, the last exhibit in the
7 binder, number 10354.
8 Do you recognise that exhibit, Mr. Masovic?
9 A. Yes. This is a photo which was taken on the 19th of July 1997 in
10 Geneva as we were leaving for a dinner party organised by the
11 International Red Cross for the participants of the 11th meeting of the
12 working group for the missing persons.
13 Q. And do you recognise Mr. Pusic in that photograph?
14 A. Yes. Mr. Pusic is the first on the left in this photo.
15 Q. And then the person next to him?
16 A. The person next to him is Mrs. Sanja Mulac, the head of the office
17 for the missing persons in Mostar.
18 Q. And then are you in that photo as well?
19 A. I am the fifth person in the photo, from left to right.
20 Q. Now, Mr. Masovic, I'd like to move forward now some ten years and
21 ask you whether you recall hearing of a potential or a mass grave site in
22 the area between Mostar and Siroki Brijeg in the month of May 2007.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Ibrisimovic?
24 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. Could
25 Mr. Masovic maybe identify the other people depicted in the photo? I
1 don't think that that should be a problem. He has identified Mrs. Mulac,
2 himself and Mr. Pusic.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes. You can indicate the names
4 of the other persons that are on this photo.
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] In addition to the names that I've
6 already mentioned from left to right, Mr. Pusic, Mrs. Mulac, Mr. Perkovic,
7 the lady from the ICRC, I believe her name is Margaret. Then myself. I
8 don't know the name of the next person but I know that she was a member of
9 the local Red Cross, i.e., the Red Cross of Bosnia-Herzegovina based in
10 Sarajevo. And the last person is Mrs. Fadila Mujic, a member of an
11 association of the family members of the persons missing from Srebrenica.
12 She was a member at the time. She no longer is. At that time she was in
13 charge of one of the Srebrenica associations of the missing persons.
14 MR. STRINGER: Thank you, Mr. President.
15 Q. Witness, then, bringing you back to my last question, in May of
16 this year, did you or your colleagues with the commission hear of a grave
17 site that had been located or potentially located in the area between
18 Mostar and Siroki Brijeg?
19 A. On the 17th May of this year, Mrs. Mulac called me from Mostar to
20 inform me that an exhumation was underway of a number of victims in a
21 location near Mostar on the Mostar-Listica-Siroki Brijeg road. The
22 exhumation was carried out by our colleagues from Republika Srpska, i.e.,
23 from a different entity. Mrs. Mulac believed at the time that among the
24 victims there were no Serbs or at least that's what she had been told when
25 she arrived in the location, but rather that the victims in the mass grave
1 were actually of Bosniak ethnicity. After that, I told Mrs. Mulac that I
2 would turn up on the following day, on the 18th of May, in the location of
3 that exhumation, and I did.
4 Q. Now, you indicated that on the first day, the 17th of May, this is
5 an exhumation that was being undertaken by representatives of the
6 Republika Srpska. Why is it that people from the RS, then, would have
7 been out at this location west of Mostar?
8 A. The source that helped to locate the mass grave claimed that the
9 victims in the grave were Serbs. I believe that he even said that there
10 were between seven and 12 bodies in the grave, and that they had been
11 killed on either the 14th or the 15th of June 1992 near Mostar in a
12 neighbourhood called Podvelezje. Governed by the agreement on the
13 inter-entity exhumations that stipulated that the exhumation should be
14 carried out by the entity for which it was considered that the victims
15 belonged to, and in this case the victims were believed to be the Serbs,
16 then the Republika Srpska contacted the competent prosecutor in order to
17 undertake the exhumation. That's why Republika Srpska turned up in
18 Western Mostar. Had we had information that the victims were either
19 Bosniaks or Croats, in that case, the exhumation would have been carried
20 out by my commission, i.e., the federal commission for the missing
22 MR. STRINGER: Mr. President, I'll just continue. I'm not sure
23 what the breaking point is. I can continue for a couple minutes, I think,
24 and move through a couple exhibits rather quickly with your permission.
25 Q. Witness, let me then ask you to turn to Exhibit 10322. And I'll
1 venture perhaps to ask a couple questions that could be possibly perceived
2 as leading in order to move a little more quickly through this. I know
3 that counsel can and will object if they think I've crossed the line.
4 Mr. Masovic, is this an exhumation report that was made by the authorities
5 of the Republika Srpska dated the 17th of May 2007?
6 A. Yes. This is a report that was compiled by the district
7 prosecutor's office and district prosecutor, Mr. Salvarica [phoen] from
8 the district Prosecutor's Office in Trebinje in Republika Srpska.
9 Q. And now, it appears to me to be the fourth name down. Is that a
10 reference to Ms. Mulac, your colleague whom you've already referred to in
11 your testimony?
12 A. Yes. That is Mrs. Sanja Mulac, representative of our commission
13 from the federation.
14 Q. So her name is not spelled correctly there but that is who we are
15 talking about. And was she then present at the site when the exhumation
16 was carried out on the 17th of May?
17 A. In the original document, her name is properly written and
18 spelled, Sanja Mulac. In the English translation there is a mistake. It
19 says Mulic, it should be Mulac, but her name is properly written in the
20 original document.
21 Q. Very well.
22 A. But she was present and as I said a moment ago, she contacted me
23 that day and informed me that she considers that the victims were Bosniaks
24 since certain traces of their uniforms were found.
25 Q. Then the next exhibit is 10323. And then is this the exhumation
1 report then for the following day, the 18th of May 2007?
2 A. Yes. That's the exhumation report. This time compiled by the
3 main prosecutor of the district Prosecutor's Office in Trebinje. Her name
4 was Slobodanka Gacinovic and she did so on the 18th of May 2007 after the
6 Q. And were you present then yourself at the exhumation site on the
7 18th of May?
8 A. Yes, I was.
9 Q. And I see that on the second page of the translation, third name
10 down, it appears they've misspelled your name but I think we determined
11 yesterday that your name is not correctly spelled in the original document
13 A. That's right. Not in the original document or in the translation
14 is my name written properly.
15 Q. Now, just one last question before the break. I think it's useful
16 to raise this now before we go into greater detail. This exhumation then
17 and the events that followed, has that all resulted in final official
18 determinations regarding the remains and the identities of the remains,
19 the victims found, at this location?
20 A. The interpretation I heard does not end in a question mark, as a
21 question, so I'm not sure what you actually asked me.
22 Q. We are going to be looking at a series of documents that relate to
23 the subsequent work done on the remains found at this site. My question
24 is: Are any findings on all of this final and official as of this point
25 in time?
1 A. Everything that was ongoing and done after the exhumation was
2 official, but some of it wasn't final.
3 Q. All right. And that's my question: Have we made a final,
4 official determination of the identity of all of the persons or victims
5 whose remains are found at this location?
6 A. Let me say first of all that on location, 16 bodily remains from
7 found, incomplete, of the victims so none of these 16 victims have been
8 completed. There are bodily parts missing or parts of the skeleton that
9 are missing. But for 15 of those 16, a preliminary identity has been set
10 used DNA methods of identification. But we still don't have the identity
11 of one of those victims.
12 Q. And because these are preliminary DNA findings, I just want to
13 sort of flag this for everyone, I'm not going to be asking you about some
14 of the items found at the site such as watches, rings, things of that
15 nature which relate to identification issues related to family members.
16 We are only going to talk about the DNA results; is that correct?
17 MR. KARNAVAS: Before -- the gentleman can answer the question. I
18 assume they prepared him in the back. But before he answers any questions
19 with respect to DNA, I suspect they are going to have to lay a foundation.
20 If he's here merely to say this is the report that was handed to us,
21 certainly we don't need the gentleman. It doesn't mean that the DNA
22 results, if they are results, are accurate because that has to be brought
23 in through an expert but certainly I would object to having this person
24 turn into an expert to testify about DNA evidence when in fact, at least
25 as far as I know, he's an advocate, he's a lawyer. Maybe on the side he's
1 gone to medical school or he's got some other degrees in science.
2 MR. STRINGER: Mr. President, if we could go to private session I
3 could tell the Chamber where I'd like to go and where I don't want to go
4 with this.
5 [Private session]
11 Pages 25071-25077 redacted. Private session.
3 [Open session]
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You have 45 minutes remaining,
5 Mr. Stringer by which time you should try to conclude. You've used two
6 hours and seven minutes already.
7 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, we are back in open session.
8 [The witness entered court]
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Stringer?
10 MR. STRINGER: Thank you, Mr. President.
11 Q. Witness, at the time that we took the break, you were looking at
12 Exhibit P 0 -- I'm sorry, P 10323 which is the exhumation report dated 18
13 May 1993. Do you see that?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. And I think you indicated that you were then present at this site
16 called the Goranci site on that day?
17 A. On the 18th of May, the second day of the exhumation, the locality
18 is called Prikinac – Prikinac, the microlocation is the Rimski Bunar or
19 Roman well.
20 Q. Can you tell the Trial Chamber, please, in general terms, the
21 extent of your experience as the commissioner or as a director of the
22 commission on missing persons, your experience on this process that begins
23 with an exhumation and then carries through DNA testing ultimately to
24 identifying the victims for their families? How experienced are you in
25 that process and what is the actual level of participation? What is it
1 that you do?
2 A. Well, in the process of identification itself, I have been engaged
3 in that for more than 15 years now, since 1992, October of that year, when
4 I attended the identification of a body -- of bodies which were handed
5 over to the commission whose vice-president I was for purposes of
6 identification in an exchange, up until 2000, the identification of
7 witnesses was conducted by using the classical method, the method of
8 recognising the victim by close family member.
9 Q. I just want to make sure we have got the record is correct. I'm
10 seeing the English translation or the English transcript that you are
11 talking about the identification of witnesses. I think --
12 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter apologises. Victims.
13 MR. STRINGER:
14 Q. -- Identification of victims is what we are talking about.
15 A. Yes, yes. I said identification of victims.
16 Q. So then, since the year 2000, how did the method of identification
18 A. Arriving on the territory of the former Yugoslavia, the
19 international commission for missing persons, which established special
20 laboratories for DNA identification in Tuzla, launched the process of
21 identification using the DNA method. And by comparing the blood samples
22 taken from the surviving family members of the missing persons and by
23 comparing them to the skeletal remains or the DNA structure obtained from
24 the skeletal remains of the exhumed victims. If matching takes place, or
25 rather, if the DNA from the blood sample and from the skeletal remains is
1 the same, then we say we have a positive match and that means that we have
2 identified the victim preliminarily, and that was the case with the 15
3 exhumed victims from the Goranci grave site.
4 After the DNA analysis, and after obtaining a positive match, we
5 undertake the process of a final identification, and that is done in the
6 following way: The matching DNA results are put to the family members,
7 they are shown to them, as relating to a specific victim and then
8 ante-mortal and post-mortal information is compared and checked once
9 again, the height of the victim is looked into, the age of the victim, any
10 clothing that was present, and might be recognised by a family member, or
11 some personal objects, personal effects, such as pens, lighters, watches,
12 items of jewellery or anything else. And then the family members try and
13 identify those objects and items and match them to the victims. Once this
14 entire process has been completed, a minutes is compiled, a report on the
15 identification of the victim, and a family member, close family member,
16 signs the report and then the bodily remains are available to the families
17 for burial.
18 The procedure is such that the DNA samples taken from the victims
19 are taken by a local forensic expert or forensic expert working pursuant
20 to instructions from the prosecutor and he takes one or if need be more
21 DNA samples, if we are dealing with victims that are not compact, as in
22 the Goranci site grave, which is a secondary grave site. The bodies of
23 the victims were completely decomposed. Some of the -- some parts of the
24 skeleton are missing and they probably remained in the primary location
25 where the victims were buried first. And that primary location is unknown
1 to us.
2 Q. Since you've come back to this particular site, let me ask you
3 about that. Do you know from this particular site how many bones or
4 artifacts are missing, that is, not found at this site?
5 A. [No interpretation] ... ribs or vertebrae.
6 Q. Let me ask you if you could just start your answer again. We
7 stopped getting the interpretation there. The question was, yeah, if you
8 know, how many bones or artifacts are missing from this site?
9 A. It's difficult for me to give a precise number of skeletal parts
10 that are missing. But we estimate that it's more than 50, more than 50
11 bones are missing, from the 16 victims. Mostly they are small bones that
12 are missing, such as finger bones, bones of the fingers, hands, feet,
13 ribs, vertebrae. Some parts of larger bones such as the upper arm or
14 lower arm. And especially parts of the skull are missing, with these
15 victims, which once again indicates that those skulls were damaged and
16 destroyed either when the victim was liquidated or when the victims were
17 transported from the primary site to the secondary site.
18 MR. KARNAVAS: I do object to this testimony. He's not -- unless
19 there is a foundation that he is an expert where he's now talking, he's
20 giving expert opinion. Now, they've had experts. Have the experts
21 determined that there was a --
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Karnavas, the Chamber always
23 listens very closely to what you're saying but the witness has worked in
24 this area for 15 years. I don't think anybody else is better positioned
25 to talk about this subject. Sir, could I ask you a question of my own?
1 For the last 15 years or so you've been working in this area. Have you
2 been involved with Srebrenica, for example?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Maybe just one sentence will suffice
4 to provide the entire explanation. I'm probably the one who has attended
5 the higher number of exhumations or identifications than any expert
6 witness in the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Why is that? Because the
7 expert witnesses focus on the work of one court in very narrow area, the
8 area of my activity is Prijedor, Srebrenica, Zvornik, the entire state of
9 Bosnia-Herzegovina and neighbouring states so I believe that I have a lot
10 of experience and that I can talk about whether a skeleton is complete or
11 incomplete after exhumation.
12 MR. KARNAVAS: He is testifying as an expert we haven't been
13 noticed that he's an expert witness. So I object. If he's testifying
14 that he has some background information, again, I don't think that he's
15 qualified but if he's testifying as an expert, he is not been brought here
16 as an expert witness. We have no notice and I would object to him
17 testifying on -- as that because now he's claiming to be an expert.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Please carry on, Mr. Stringer.
19 MR. STRINGER: I'm running short of time so I'm going to keep
20 marching on and --
21 Q. Let me just, on the last point, Mr. Masovic, do you have an idea
22 in general how many exhumations have been carried out under the auspices
23 of the commission for which you've been the commissioner or the director?
24 How many exhumations are you responsible for in your years?
25 A. Over 370 mass graves, the graves containing five plus victims.
1 Over 2.000 individual graves. Over 18.000 victims, including the
2 Srebrenica victims, is something that my commission has been involved in.
3 In other words, over 18.000 victims were exhumed as part of the mandate of
4 my body over the past 11 years. Over 15.000 victims have been identified
5 of the 18.000 that have been exhumed.
6 Q. Now, let me -- I want to take you quickly through a series of
7 exhibits here and ask you just to tell us very briefly what they are,
8 whether you recognise them, and then we will come back and I'll ask you
9 some more general questions about them. So if you would turn to Exhibit
10 10337? Again, just for the technical booth, this is the -- we are getting
11 into the evidence now that we are going to be asking be put under seal.
12 Witness, can you just take a look at this and tell the
13 Trial Chamber what this is or what these three documents are that are in
14 this exhibit?
15 A. These are the three so-called positive matches, i.e., three
16 confirmations that the skeletal samples which were taken from various
17 parts of one body belong to one and the same person, and based on the
18 comparison with the blood of the surviving family members, it is confirmed
19 with a degree of certainty of 99 and -- 99 thousand 99 [as interpreted]
20 that this person is Camo Alija. And that he was a member of the BiH army
21 who had been captured in the Vranica building and one of those that we had
22 occasion to see on the video footage. In this specific case we are
23 talking about the upper jaw.
24 Q. Excuse me, Mr. Masovic. I really apologise for cutting you off
25 but I'm going to move on so that we can cover all 15 of these very briefly
1 just so that we are attending to all of them. So you've just mentioned
2 Mr. Camo Alija as being in this Exhibit 10337. One question about these
3 reports, these DNA reports, are these the types of reports that come to
4 you in the normal course of your work on the commission and then dealing
5 with the families?
6 A. Yes. This is a copy of the original report which is typically
7 submitted to the forensic expert who takes the bone samples from the
8 victim and then he submits the report to the competent prosecutor's office
9 and to us as a commission in order to enable us to get in touch with the
10 victim's family and inform them that we have a positive match, i.e., a
11 positive identification. In other words, that it had been established
12 through the DNA analysis that the victim is their potential relative.
13 Q. Now turning to Exhibit 10338 can you tell us who these results
14 pertain to?
15 A. These results pertain to Mr. Senad Cehic. Again we have several
16 DNA analysis results in several samples were taken from the body,
17 Senad Cehic is also one of the captives from Vranica that we saw on the
18 video footage.
19 Q. And then 10339.
20 A. In this case, the victim who was preliminarily identified is
21 Dzevad Colic, also a member of the Vranica group. He was also identified
22 on the video footage that we saw.
23 Q. Okay. Now when you say preliminarily identified, now, what
24 exactly does that mean?
25 A. I've just explained that this means that the family will be
1 informed, in this particular I've already informed all the families in the
2 case of the Goranci mass grave. The family has been informed about the
3 positive match and the families have to prepare for the final act which is
4 the signing of the record on identification of the victim after which the
5 victim will be handed over to the family who will then determine the date,
6 the place where the body will be buried.
7 Q. Next is 10340.
8 A. Mr. Mimo Grizovic, confirmation that we had a match between the
9 skeletal remains and the blood samples provided by his mother and his
10 father. He is also one of the victims seen on the Croatian television
11 video footage depicting the capturing of the Vranica group.
12 Q. 10341.
13 A. Mr. Vahidin Hasic, a confirmation that that indeed was him, based
14 on comparing the blood samples of his mother and his father and the
15 skeletal remains which were taken from his body, another from the Vranica
16 group depicted in the video footage.
17 Q. 10342?
18 A. Dzevad Husic. In this case, the blood sample was taken from his
19 father and his sister. We had a positive match based on the DNA method.
20 He's also one of the Vranica group that were depicted in the video
22 Q. 10343?
23 A. Zlatko Mehic, the blood sample was taken from his mother and his
24 father. We had a positive match, again this was a long-haired young man
25 in boots with hands in his pockets on the video footage, one of the
1 Vranica group as well.
2 Q. 10344?
3 A. Nenad Milojevic, the blood sample taken from father and mother,
4 there was a positive match, also he was featured on the video footage in
5 the Vranica group. In this case his mother was also given an object that
6 was found by the mortal remains that she was able to identify. The object
7 was the young man's ring.
8 Q. 10345?
9 A. Mr. Fahir Penava. Blood was taken from his wife, his daughter,
10 his son and his mother and we had a positive match, i.e., confirmation
11 that this was preliminarily identified Fahir Penava, one of the Vranica
12 group featured in the video footage.
13 Q. And it's the wife of Mr. Penava, Azra Penava is the one you spoke
14 of earlier in your testimony?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. The next is 10346?
17 A. Mr. Nazif Sarancic. Blood was taken from mother and father,
18 positive match by the DNA method. One of the Vranica group from the video
20 Q. 10347? Before we talk about this next one then, Mr. Masovic, so
21 far, we've been talking about soldiers who were identified in the Vranica
22 footage. Now, these next five, what can you tell us about those?
23 A. What can I -- what I can tell you with certainty is that all the
24 prisoners that were featured on -- in the video footage of the Croatian
25 television were not preliminarily identified by the DNA method and it is
1 absolutely certain at the moment that two of the 12 were not found in the
2 mass grave in Goranci. As for the remaining six who were exhumed, in
3 addition to the Vranica group, five were identified. One victim's
4 identification is still pending.
5 Q. Now, of the Vranica group and the 12 on the video as well as the
6 13th, then we do not have an identification for Hasan Balic, Selfko Pobric
7 or Fedja Huskovic; is that correct?
8 A. Not only do we not have their positive identification but it is
9 also abundantly clear that their bodies were not in this mass grave
10 because the blood taken from their family members did not match any of the
11 DNA samples taken from the skeletal remains. So we are absolutely certain
12 that they were not in that group of bodies.
13 Q. Now, these remaining five whose remains or parts of their remains
14 were found, is there anything in general that you can tell the Trial
15 Chamber about these individuals in terms of where they were last seen or
16 their status as missing persons?
17 A. We provided a laboratory with a total of nine names of whom we
18 knew that they had gone missing between the 9th of May which was the
19 beginning of the conflict in the Mostar region and the 13th of May which
20 was the date that we noticed on the watch of one of the victims. We
21 submitted the names of nine names and of those names, the laboratories.
22 By way of DNA methodology. Established that they were from that group,
23 Sabit Askraba, Hamza Filipovic, the Drace brothers, Alica and Dragan
24 Drace, and Esad Husic. Those were the five names. All of them save for
25 one whose status is not clear, but four of them at the moment of
1 disappearance were members of the army who did not go missing in combat.
2 It is certain that the Drace brothers, Alica and Dragan, had been taken
3 from Alica Drace's apartment, one of the brothers' apartment, and it was
4 either the 10th or the 11th of May. In any case, all five of them had
5 been reported as missing in the period between the 9th and 11th of May.
6 Q. And for the record, Mr. President, the tests for Sabit Askraba are
7 at Exhibit 10347. Those for Alica Drace are at 10348. Those results from
8 Dragan Drace are at 10349. The results for Hamza Filipovic are at 10350.
9 And finally, the results for Esad Husic are at 10351.
10 Now, Mr. Masovic, if I could just take you quickly back, you could
11 perhaps inform the Trial Chamber of -- about Exhibit 10324. Can you tell
12 the Trial Chamber what this exhibit is, please?
13 A. This is photo documentation of the scene by the ballistic expert,
14 a member of the commission for missing persons of Republika Srpska based
15 in Banja Luka. He is their permanent member. Upon his arrival at the
16 location of the mass grave, he took some 150 photos starting with the
17 situation that he found at the site and then in the course of the
18 exhumation itself.
19 MR. STRINGER: Mr. President, we did not load all these photos
20 into e-court just because it takes so much space and it takes a long time
21 to bring them up so rather than using the ELMO for them, I think I'll just
22 leave it at that, unless the Trial Chamber has any specific questions
23 about any of the photographs.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I do actually have a question
25 for you, sir, Witness. I'm looking at photo number 1 which indicates a
1 field with some bushes, that type of thing. Photo 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. And
2 that brings us on to the location of the bodies but earlier on you talked
3 about a source that had indicated that there were Serbs that were buried.
4 But in order for us to go to exactly the location as indicated on photo
5 number 7, the source must have been indicated very, very clearly or
6 precisely as to where was located the point where the bodies had been
7 buried because otherwise, the situation is impossible.
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I'm speaking based on my own
9 experience in locating mass graves and I can claim with a high degree of
10 reliability that without a witness who can identify the microlocation of
11 the mass grave, it would be impossible, absolutely impossible, to identify
12 the mass grave because there were no changes in the vegetation, in the
13 configuration of the terrain. In other words, the mass grave would not
14 have been identified if he hadn't brought our colleague from the
15 commission of the Republika Srpska to the site and pointed the site to him
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Please, Mr. Stringer.
18 MR. STRINGER: I see that the photos are in e-court so they
19 magically obtained them somehow. They're good.
20 Q. Witness, one thing going back to the DNA testing, the preliminary
21 results that now you've commented on, in the years that you've been
22 involved in this process with the ICMP, do you know of any times when
23 these preliminary DNA results have actually turned out to have yielded an
24 incorrect identification?
25 THE ACCUSED PRALJAK: [No interpretation]
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Apparently Mr. Praljak has not
2 heard what's been said apparently.
3 MR. STRINGER: I don't think the witness heard me either. I'll
4 ask the question again.
5 Q. Witness, my question was whether in all the years that you've been
6 involved in this process with the ICMP, do you know of any times when
7 these preliminary DNA results have actually turned out to have yielded an
8 incorrect identification?
9 A. No, absolutely not. I have to say that the laboratory in Tuzla
10 has carried out over 10.000 preliminary identification through the DNA
11 analysis for the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, for the entire
12 area of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo. We marked the 10.000th DNA
13 identification recently and not a single one of them proved to be
14 incorrect. It is impossible actually. The DNA analysis has served us to
15 correct some mistakes that we made up to the year 2000 in the course of
16 the so-called classical identifications. The DNA analysis has helped us
17 to correct some misidentifications through the recognising of the clothes,
18 the effects, which were wrong, and now I'm not aware of a single case,
19 either from Kosovo, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, that led to a wrong
20 conclusion, that the DNA analysis identified one person and then
21 subsequently something else proved the preliminary identification wrong.
22 We simply have not had such cases.
23 Q. And my final question is this: And you've mentioned this issue of
24 a secondary site, and I know that you're not an expert and that it's for
25 others to conclude whether or not in a formal official way this is a
1 primary or secondary site so let me just ask you about the issue in
2 general, say, for example, Srebrenica. Have you had experiences in
3 dealing with remains that have been found in secondary sites in connection
4 with Srebrenica and other exhumations?
5 A. Yes. This is my experience with some locations in the
6 municipalities of Prijedor and Srebrenica, but the cases of secondary mass
7 graves were even more drastic, for example, in Srebrenica, where we have a
8 victim whose body was found in four different locations and the distance
9 between the four of them is more than 30 kilometres. In other words, when
10 his body was moved from the primary grave, the excavators and the lorries
11 that transported those skeletal remains and, mind you, those mass graves
12 contained over 1.000 victims, simply transported the remains to four
13 different graves. This person, a young man from Srebrenica, despite the
14 fact that his remains were found in four different locations, this
15 person's body is still not complete. Some parts of his skeleton are still
16 missing and this is where the DNA method is very important because without
17 the DNA method we would never be able to say that his body had been
18 reburied in four different locations. Owing to the DNA analysis we are
19 able to partially complete that body from the four different locations.
20 Q. And then in terms of the process that takes place in which the
21 families are identified, they are presented with the DNA testing results
22 and other artifacts, could you then tell the Trial Chamber the impact on
23 the families of these victims then when you have situations in which
24 secondary grave sites are involved so that not all of the body parts, the
25 remains, can be recovered? How does that impact this whole process?
1 A. If we are talking about a primary mass grave, this implies that
2 the bodies are complete and for the family, this is the end of their
3 personal agony. They stop suffering the uncertainty, the pain that is
4 connected with that which lasts for a decade in certain cases. When it
5 comes to the secondary mass graves, and Goranci will probably be one of
6 them because a lot of the skeletal remains are still missing, the families
7 agony continues even after the identification is completed. Why? When
8 the families recognise the ten victims from Vranica, when we hand over the
9 mortal remains to them, when these mortal remains are buried and when
10 after their graves there are tombs -- above their graves, there are
11 tombstones, this is still not the end of the agony for their family
12 because we, after having located if we ever do, the primary grave, in that
13 grave we will again find parts of the same victims, the same ones that had
14 already been handed over to the families and we will again have to knock
15 on the doors of the same families and inform them that we have actually
16 located yet another bone or the -- a part of the skull of their husband.
17 In other words, the agony of these members whose dearest were buried in
18 the secondary graves do not stop with the identification but they rather
19 continue and go on and on.
20 MR. STRINGER: Thank you, Mr. Masovic. Mr. President --
21 JUDGE TRECHSEL: May I just --
22 MR. STRINGER: No further questions.
23 JUDGE TRECHSEL: May I just add one very small question? Are
24 there any efforts made when you have a secondary grave to find the primary
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I'm personally involved in that.
2 I'm in contact with a source who brought us to the secondary location and
3 we are trying to use that same source to get to the primary location but
4 not only to the primary location but also to the mortal remains of the
5 remaining three from the Vranica group for whom we are now certain that
6 they are not in this particular mass grave, and we hope that we will
7 succeed in our efforts.
8 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you very much.
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Stringer, you have completed
10 your leading examination. The counter-examination, the cross-examination
11 will take place tomorrow. There will be no contact with the Prosecution.
12 Over that period, you're now a witness before justice so tomorrow we will
13 reconvene at 2.15. By the way on Wednesday and Thursday, we will be
14 holding session in the morning starting at 8.00. So we'll recommence
15 tomorrow at 2.15.
16 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 7.01 p.m.,
17 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 27th day of
18 November, 2007, at 2.15 p.m.