1 Wednesday, 21 May 2008 2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The witness entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 2.20 p.m.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Registrar, please call the
8 THE REGISTRAR: Good afternoon, Your Honours. Good afternoon
9 everyone in and around the courtroom. This is case number IT-04-74-T,
10 the Prosecutor versus Prlic et al. Thank you, Your Honours.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you. Today is Wednesday,
12 21st of May, 2008. Good afternoon to the witness, to the Defence
13 counsel, to the accused, to everyone assisting us in this courtroom, and
14 to the Prosecution.
15 We are going to proceed with the cross-examination of the
16 witness. We'll start with the Defence counsel, and I believe that
17 Mr. Kovacic will be the first one.
18 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. Good
19 afternoon to everybody in the courtroom.
20 WITNESS: ADALBERT REBIC [Resumed]
21 [Witness answered through interpreter]
22 Cross-examination by Mr. Kovacic:
23 Q. Good afternoon, Dr. Rebic.
24 A. Good afternoon to you too.
25 Q. As you have told yesterday, I'm going to put a few questions to
1 you. All of them in connection with the topics that were raised in your
2 examination-in-chief, and I'm talking only about very short three topics.
3 In your testimony so far -- I apologise. Have you received a
4 document? Now you're going to receive it I can see.
5 In your testimony so far, on the first day, on page 95, line 7 -
6 I'm stating this just for the record - you mentioned a person by the name
7 of Jakov Binenfeld. You said that he was the owner of the VIP agency and
8 that agency performed a job for you, and the job in question was the
9 third census of refugees and displaced persons.
10 Dr. Rebic, let me remind you that my cross-examination is going
11 to differ from the examination in -- so far. We speak the same language,
12 and in order to make the lives of the interpreters easier, we should make
13 a short break between my questions and your answer.
14 My first question is this: Did you have an occasion to meet this
15 person, Binenfeld, in person?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Dr. Rebic, according to what you know about him, would that be a
18 person of high moral standards, enjoying a high reputation in society?
19 A. According to what I know, this person has high professional
20 qualities, a capable businessman at the time. At the time he had his own
21 agency, the name of the agency was VIP. It was the best agency at the
22 time in the Republic of Croatia
23 agreement with UNHCR, or better say on their instruction, I chose him.
24 It was a private agency, and UNHCR preferred private agency over any
25 government agency.
1 As far as his moral qualities are concerned, I wouldn't go into
2 that because I don't have any information about that. In my view, he was
3 a good man, a good businessman. I had several occasions to talk to him.
4 Q. Thank you very much. Did you perhaps learn from Mr. Binenfeld
5 himself or in any other way that he had been a very active and highly
6 positioned officer in the Zagreb
7 A. Yes, he was active in the Jewish community of Zagreb. He was not
8 very much engaged, but he was engaged in the Jewish community, and in
9 that respect he was my friend, because I -- I like Jewish people. I
10 speak Hebrew. I read Hebrew. I often go to Israel. This coming Sunday
11 I have to go to Israel
12 this had nothing to do with my decision to choose his agency for the
14 Q. I'm not interested in that part of your decision. I have no
15 doubt about your right to choose whomever you want based on whatever
16 information you have. I'm more interested in Binenfeld himself.
17 Did you have an occasion to learn that the same gentleman, Jakov
18 Binenfeld, had organised, i.e., had carried out the organisation of the
19 humanitarian convoys in the course of 1992 and 1993. And like all the
20 other humanitarian convoys, those convoys were of twofold nature. One of
21 the purposes was to take people from occupied Sarajevo, and second
22 purpose was to bring humanitarian aid to Sarajevo
23 was a person who participated in the organisation of these convoys? But
24 let me rephrase my question to avoid any objections.
25 First of all, do you know that he was involved in that project?
1 A. Yes, I know that he was involved in that project, and sometimes
2 he would come to the office to receive information with regard to the
3 situation in Sarajevo
4 wanted to know how to get there, how to help and so on and so forth. He
5 wanted to receive information from us.
6 Q. And my next question arises from your answer. Are you aware of
7 the fact that convoys of that sort did actually go to Sarajevo and come
9 A. Yes. Several convoys took humanitarian aid to Sarajevo
10 Jews out of occupied Sarajevo
11 Q. Thank you very much. I'm not interested in anything else at this
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Kovacic, the Trial Chamber
14 held that when a subject has not been dealt with during the
15 examination-in-chief, the Defence is perfectly entitled to deal with that
16 subject, but the time used will be deduced from the time allocated to the
17 Defence for its own examination-in-chief, and since we heard nothing
18 about convoys, the time you will spend dealing with that will be deducted
19 from the time you've been granted for your own examination-in-chief.
20 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, of course this is your
21 decision. I will abide by that, but if you will allow me just two
22 sentences. The witness did mention this person, Jakov Binenfeld, in the
23 examination-in-chief. He explained why he had chosen that agency, and in
24 my view one of the factors which was just confirmed by the witness was
25 the moral standing and the professionalism of that person. This is what
1 I wanted to verify. I had to ask him about the convoys in order to find
2 out whether that person did have those moral -- that moral integrity. I
3 believe that the questions are connected and that they would fall under
4 the sphere of the cross-examination.
5 And second of all, and an additional reason why I'm asking this
6 witness about the convoy, and that was only my last question, was the
7 fact that on my list, 92 bis witnesses, I have that person and his
8 statement about those convoys and Praljak's role and assistance with the
9 organisation of these convoys. If you are taking that time off my time,
10 then I believe that only the last question should be taken off my time,
11 that question about the convoys.
12 Yes. My client is reminding me that there is a document to that
13 effect. In order to avoid wasting any more time, with your leave I would
14 like to move on.
15 Q. Witness, my learned friend Karnavas showed you amongst other
16 things document D 02610. You have it in my binder which consists of only
17 two documents. This is your letter. You told us about this letter.
18 You're asking the Ministry of Culture and education to provide you with
19 the information about the number of children included in regular
20 education because this is what you had been requested to do by the
21 embassy of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We've already spoken
22 about that?
23 If you look at the number of this document and the date, and
24 could you please look at my next document which is 3D 01036. So first
25 let's identify the document. This is a letter to the government of the
1 Republic of Croatia
2 persons. The address is the address of your office. The date is 18th of
3 January. The signatory of this document is Vesna Giradi-Jurkic, Master
4 of Science, the then Minister of Education. In the first line of this
5 text pursuant to your letter number 01904, if we look at the number on
6 the document that was shown to you yesterday my question, Dr. Rebic,
7 would be this: Do you agree with me that this is obviously the answer to
8 your request dated 12 January?
9 A. I agree, although I see this document after 12 years today, but I
10 remember it well, and the number 32.000 students, refugees from Bosnia
11 and Herzegovina
12 whom 25.000 in primary schools and 6.000 in secondary schools. This
13 number -- these numbers correspond to the numbers brought by the Office
14 for Refugees and Displaced Persons in their reports based on the
15 registration for refugees.
16 Q. Okay. In order to avoid wasting time you have now read item 1 of
17 this letter. You started talking about numbers here and this confirms
18 what you said yesterday not only with regard to the figures but also with
19 regard to the system. It says here that the children were included in
20 the regular school system. That's what we're interested in. Is that
22 A. Yes, it is.
23 Q. Thank you very much. Would you then agree that this is an
24 authentic document?
25 A. Yes. This is an authentic document.
1 Q. Thank you very much. And now I will move on to another topic
2 that was raised by you. On two occasions during your testimony so far
3 you've mentioned in broader terms the cooperation with your -- between
4 your office and the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Croatia
5 of which had previously been owned by the JNA. You wanted to use them
6 for refugees because they had all the necessary infrastructure. And then
7 yesterday, towards the end of the day, you mentioned a situation when you
8 had been given an HV aircraft to transport you to Split because you had
9 some problems with refugees there.
10 My question is as follows: Is it true that your office had
11 various aspects of cooperation with the Ministry of Defence of the
12 Republic of Croatia
13 A. Yes, Mr. Kovacic. Our office had different forms of cooperation
14 with the MOD, not only when it came to taking over some of the
15 facilities, military facilities, i.e., barracks, that we needed to
16 accommodate refugees because they had all the necessary infrastructure
17 and they were not at the time required by the Croatian army. Besides
18 these facilities still had some personnel, civilian personnel, such as
19 cooks and cleaning staff. So in that respect we had a logistical
21 I remember Mr. Vukina from the MOD who was of a huge help to me
22 when it came to logistics and the accommodation of refugees and displaced
23 persons, and in light of the fact that at the very beginning the army was
24 well-organised in terms of supplies and accommodation. So we had a lot
25 of help from the MOD.
1 Q. Very well, then. Dr. Rebic, tell us, please, whether these were
2 the only topics that you dealt with in your frequent contacts, or
3 whether -- or were there any occasions when the Ministry of Defence or
4 the HV helped with some incidents, with some complex situations when you
5 had to deal with the situation immediately if not yesterday? You did not
6 have your own people, so did you sometimes turn to the Ministry of
7 Defence for help because the Ministry of Defence obviously had personnel,
8 organisation, and equipment? Can you tell us something about that?
9 A. Yes. This help primarily concerned logistics. I'm talking about
10 accommodating refugees and organising refugee centres. This is all the
11 help that we received from the MOD, logistical support.
12 Q. Thank you very much. Within the MOD did you have any cooperation
13 with the information and propaganda department? Do you remember?
14 A. No. As far as I can remember, I did not have any contacts with
15 them. They could receive information from our office if they asked for
16 it, because our information was public and accessible to all.
17 Q. During your contacts with the Ministry of Defence did you ever
18 meet General Praljak in person?
19 A. I met General Praljak and I remember that meeting. It was very
20 early on. I may not remember the exact date, but I believe that it was
21 in February or March 1992 when we had some problems at the office. So
22 together with Mrs. Rukavina -- I believe that was her name.
23 Mrs. Rukavina was the head of the regional office for refugees and
24 displaced persons in the city of Zagreb
25 accommodation and the attitude of some younger people towards the army
1 and the refugees, and he was very helpful in dealing with all these
2 problems. I remember that Mrs. Rukavina and I met in a very modest room
3 and that -- that is when I met a very modest person who gave his whole
4 heart to serving the Croatian defence.
5 Q. Just for the record, who are you referring to when you say a
6 modest person?
7 A. I -- I'm referring to Mr. Praljak. Later on Mrs. Rukavina, who
8 was a very decent and honest woman had nothing but the words of praise
9 about him. Her son fought in the army near Sisak, and at the time
10 Mr. Praljak was the head of that defence. She had only the word of --
11 words of praise for his firmness and his fair dealings towards his
13 Q. Thank you very much. When Mrs. Rukavina told you about the
14 positions around Sisak would I be -- would I jog your memory if I told
15 you that this was Sunja?
16 A. Yes, you're right there. It was Sunja. Sunja at the time was
17 theatre of major conflicts between the JNA, the Serb paramilitaries, and
18 our own Croatian army, and our lads fought very hard to repel the -- the
19 Yugoslav People's Army and not to let them through to -- all the way to
21 Q. You said that Mrs. Rukavina told you how the army and
22 General Praljak helped her in her job. Do you -- do you perhaps remember
23 an event which took place in 1992, very early in the year, when Mate
24 Granic, as the vice-prime minister promised the European Monitoring
25 Mission that he would give them the hotel in the Jakomir neighbourhood of
2 Let me just try and jog your memory and tell you that that hotel
3 at the time accommodated refugees from Vukovar, and when they were told
4 that they would be moved or at least there was an intention to do so,
5 they rebelled. They didn't want to move, and if I remember the whole
6 incident well and the papers that I read about the incident, the then
7 mayor, Marina Matulovic Dropulic, intervened and the whole situation was
8 compounded because the city had proposed the refugees from Vukovar to be
9 accommodated in the 7th -- 7 secretaries of SKOJ facility, the whole
10 thing escalated, and then the army proposed some of the hospital
11 facilities in the old Vlaska street in Zagreb. Is that the incident that
12 you had in mind when you said that there were some problems?
13 A. Not particularly that one, but I do remember that particular
14 incident. Unfortunately, this happened on Christmas, and it was really a
15 very sad thing that refugees from Vukovar whom the Serbs had expelled
16 from their own Croatian homes and killed many of them, all these people
17 were very stressed out. They were already accommodated in the facility
18 before the office, my office, was established, because they had had been
19 expelled from Vukovar in the course of the month of September, October,
20 and November 1991. And then these facilities were required by the army,
21 which means that the refugees from Vukovar had to be moved from that
23 Both refugees and displaced persons were very sensitive, and they
24 did not respond to any such attempt to move them lightly. And then
25 Mr. Granic got involved because the Office for Refugees Displaced and
1 Persons had started functioning only before Christmas. That's why
2 Mr. Granic played a somewhat bigger role. He personally spoke to all
3 these people and an agreement was reached for them to be transferred,
4 some of them to Vlaska Street or to the premises of the former military
5 hospital, and the others were moved to Kozhnice. This is what you
6 mentioned under the name of 7 secretaries of SKOJ. In Kozhnice they had
7 very good facility, very good accommodation.
8 I don't know -- I don't remember now whether this was a military
9 facility or whether this was a facility that belonged to the city of
12 any more problems with the refugees there. They -- they made themselves
13 comfortable both in the hospital and in the Kozhnice facility.
14 I visited them in both these places in Vlaska and in Kozhnice,
15 and I even celebrated the holy mass on Christmas in Kozhnice. Actually
16 it wasn't on Christmas, it was New Year's, a week after Christmas.
17 Q. Just to verify something. You said that it was around Christmas.
18 Was it '92?
19 A. No, it was 1991.
20 Q. 1991?
21 A. Yes, 1991, because Vukovar fell in 1991 towards the end of
22 October, on the 21st of October.
23 Q. And also you mentioned the hospital in Vlaska Street in Zagreb
24 or at least some of the facilities there. Was that before the war
25 property of JNA, and then pursuant to a government decree it was under
1 the control of the Ministry of Defence when the JNA left?
2 A. You are right, Mr. Kovacic. The property of the JNA was taken
3 over by the Croatian army once Croatia
4 independence, and it is only logical. The HV did not -- did not need the
5 hospital, which was very large, and that's why they decided and agreed to
6 hand over a large part of that facility to the refugees from Vukovar.
7 Q. Can we now summarise and say that in light of all these contacts
8 with the Ministry of Defence, their help and their property, could you
9 please just briefly in two sentences, because we don't have any more
10 time, could you briefly tell us whether the overall cooperation with the
11 Ministry of Defence concerning the displaced persons and later on
12 refugees, was it good? Was the Ministry of Defence willing to cooperate?
13 A. The cooperation was good. It was very useful to our office and
14 to refugees and displaced persons, and if the Croatian army had not
15 helped us, we would have had much more difficulties when it came to
16 looking after refugees and displaced persons.
17 Q. Thank you. Just one more question. Referring to the incident
18 concerning the displaced persons from Vukovar, do you remember that at
19 one point General Praljak became directly involved in the attempt to
20 convince these people from Vukovar that they should cooperate and that
21 they should move as they were asked to do? Did you have any information
22 about this?
23 A. No, I don't remember that because on that occasion I didn't visit
24 the facility myself. It was Deputy Prime Minister Granic who visited it.
25 That's why I don't remember, because I wasn't actually there.
1 Q. Thank you very much, Dr. Rebic. Those were all my questions for
3 A. Thank you, too.
4 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, with respect to my
5 calculation of time, I wish to add to my previous arguments that refugees
6 from Sarajevo
7 and document 2D 00454 was put to the witness. For this reason, I submit
8 that all my questions, including the ones concerning the convoy, did have
9 to do with the examination-in-chief. The Defence did raise that issue,
10 and it is my standpoint that my questions were within the -- that
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Thank you,
13 Mr. Kovacic. The Chamber will rule on this particular point.
14 Ms. Alaburic, you have the floor.
15 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours. I wish good day to
16 you and to everyone in the courtroom.
17 Cross-examination by Ms. Alaburic:
18 Q. [Interpretation] Good day, Dr. Rebic?
19 A. Good day.
20 THE INTERPRETER: Could there be pause between question and
21 answer, please.
22 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
23 Q. I am an attorney at law from Zagreb appearing for Milivoj
24 Petkovic. I will put a brief question to you concerning the convention
25 on the status of refugees, and after that I will put a few questions to
1 you about a document put to you by the Defence of Jadranko Prlic which
2 Their Honours were greatly interested in.
3 My first question concerns the convention on the status of
4 refugees. Could you please take a look at my document 4D 01233. In this
5 document, if we can look at it together, it says that the government of
6 the Republic of Croatia
7 multi-lateral international agreements, and it says in the introduction
8 that the Republic of Croatia
9 succession a party to the follow international agreements, and under
10 number 35 it mentions the convention on the status of refugees of 1951,
11 and under item 37 the protocol on the legal status of refugees from 1967.
12 Dr. Rebic, could you please confirm to us -- well, can you first
13 of all tell us what this date, the 8th of October, 1991, refers to? Why
14 is that the date when Croatia
15 A. If I recall correctly, that was the date when the Croatian
16 parliament -- well, I can't remember precisely, but I know that the date
17 was of importance for the Republic of Croatia
18 proposals that it should become a public holiday. I know that the
19 parliament made an important decision on that date. Can you jog my
20 memory and tell me what it was?
21 Q. I'll jog your memory. Was it then that the parliament adopted
22 the decision that Croatia
23 A. Yes, yes. You're right. I thought at first that this happened
24 in June, but you are right, it happened in October.
25 Q. In June the decision was made but then there was a three-month
1 moratorium, which is why the 8th of October, 1991, is the date when
2 independence was declared. Can you confirm, Dr. Rebic, that as of the
3 first day of its existence as an independent state, Croatia was a party
4 to these international treaties and agreements?
5 A. Yes, that's correct.
6 Q. Thank you very much. The document we discussed most yesterday
7 bears the number P 10048. Dr. Rebic, please pay attention to the
8 monitor. I believe that this will be sufficient for the purposes of my
9 examination. This is a document concerning the taking in of 500 persons
10 from Mostar. Do you remember yesterday's discussion of that document?
11 In the course of yesterday's examination, I received the
12 impression that you did not understand what it was that Their Honours did
13 not understand in connection with this document. Am I right in thinking
14 that you were confused?
15 A. Yes, you're right. I really was confused, because I didn't
16 understand what sort of clarification was expected of me. My impression
17 was that Their Honours were not aware of the geographical relations
18 between Bosnia-Herzegovina and third countries and that perhaps they were
19 not fully aware of the geography.
20 Q. Dr. Rebic, as you are not a lawyer, I'm not going to ask you the
21 same sort of questions about this document that I would ask a fellow
22 lawyer, but I believe I can put some questions to you that you will be
23 able to answer. Please tell us to whom was this document addressed? To
24 whom was it sent?
25 A. This document, as is evident, was sent to the police station in
1 Vrgorac, to the border police and to the border crossing, Banja Vrgorac.
2 The document was primarily addressed to the border police so that based
3 on this document they could let through persons who wanted to go from the
4 Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina to third countries, and to do that they
5 had to cross the territory of the Republic of Croatia
6 possible for them.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, I'm sorry to
8 interrupt. Following what you said, for your information, sir, I would
9 just like to mention that the Trial Chamber went to Bosnia-Herzegovina,
10 and I have personally been there on many occasions, so this is just for
11 your personal information.
12 Please proceed, Ms. Alaburic.
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
14 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
15 Q. Dr. Rebic, please look at the following: On the -- at the bottom
16 of the page it also says that copies were sent to the Ministry of the
17 Interior, the migration unit; is that correct?
18 A. Yes, quite understandably because the document was sent to the
19 border police.
20 Q. Please tell us, as this document was addressed to the police,
21 does this mean, in fact, that the police addressed your office and asked
22 your opinion on the request of these 500 persons to enter Croatia and to
23 gain temporary residence in Croatia
24 this document to the police because you received an inquiry from the
1 A. Well, evidently, yes, because otherwise the police would not be
2 allowed to let these people into the Republic of Croatia
4 Q. It follows further from this document that your office gave its
5 agreement to have these persons granted entry and permanent residence in
7 the approval for their entry and temporary residence. Is that correct?
8 A. The Office for Displaced Persons and Refugees gave its agreement
9 and also gave its agreement that for a time these refugees, until such
10 time as the third entity, this was evidently the UNHCR, could accommodate
11 them in the countries to which they wanted to go.
12 Q. Are you aware under Croatian legislation, or maybe you can see it
13 from this document, after the granting of approval for the entry and --
14 or, rather, was it the Ministry of the Interior which granted approval
15 for these persons to enter the country with your agreement?
16 A. No, it was not the Ministry of the Interior. It was the office
17 that decided on this, and we informed the ministry of that, because
18 refugees came under the authority of the Office for Displaced Persons and
19 Refugees not under the authority of the Ministry of the Interior as
20 happens in some other countries.
21 THE INTERPRETER: Could there be a pause between question and
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, because they didn't want to
24 take them in.
25 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
1 Q. We'll come to that. So these persons did not have refugee
2 status; is that correct?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. It follows from this document that these persons had the status
5 of refugees staying in Croatia
6 A. Yes, but because they hailed from Bosnia-Herzegovina, they had de
7 facto care because of their refugee status whether it was recognised de
8 jure or not. De facto the Republic of Croatia
9 everything it provided for refugees. We could not leave them out in the
11 Q. That's clear. So these persons are entering Croatia as
12 foreigners based on temporary residence permit, and they were
13 accommodated in the camp in Gasinci; is that correct?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Are there grounds to conclude then that you participated in the
16 issuing of this document, because these persons were being taken care of
17 in a refugee centre?
18 A. Yes, that's correct. And there was an UNHCR office in Gasinci.
19 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I'm sorry. About three times the interpreters
20 have asked to make a pause after you've spoken. Perhaps you've not heard
21 it, but it's really very trying on them, and it will be very nice if you
22 could try to comply. I very well know how difficult it is. I have all
23 the understanding, but please.
24 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Thank you. In our language we
25 didn't hear -- on our channel we didn't hear these interpreter
1 interventions. Thank you.
2 Q. Mr. Rebic, I'm not taking for granted that you're familiar with
3 Croatian legislation and regulations, but I do have to ask you the
4 following: Under Article 22, and you don't have this document before
5 you, of the Croatian law on the movement and stay of refugees, I have it
6 translated for Their Honours, and if they wish to see it in English it's
7 ready to be distributed. For the purposes of my cross-examination, it
8 will be sufficient for me to say, and this document was used in e-court
9 during the examination-in-chief, 4D 01232.
10 In Article 22, Mr. Rebic, please listen, the Croatian law states
11 that a foreigner can stay in Croatia
12 list them. The first is temporary residence, the second is extended
13 residence, the third is residence with a business visa, the fourth is
14 residence pursuant to approved permanent residence, and the third is
15 pursuant to recognised refugee status.
16 Were you aware in principle that foreigners could stay in Croatia
17 on various legal bases?
18 A. Well, I was primarily aware of the fact that anyone who came from
19 Bosnia-Herzegovina, from Vojvodina or from Serbia also, had the right to
20 stay in the Republic of Croatia
21 recognised refugee status or displaced person status for three months,
22 six months, a year, or on a temporary basis.
23 Q. So your office made decisions on one of these legal bases for the
24 stay of foreigners in Croatia
25 A. Yes, that's correct.
1 Q. A person could also stay in Croatia
2 which was decided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
3 Mr. Rebic, are you aware whether residence in Croatia on one
4 legal ground excluded the possibility of a person simultaneously staying
5 in Croatia
6 A. No, it was not excluded.
7 Q. Are you sure of that?
8 A. No, I can't be sure.
9 Q. I'll go back to this document now, 10048. That's P 10048, and
10 you will see it on your screen. It's to do with the persons arriving
11 from Mostar. And in the introduction it says in the preamble that these
12 persons are arriving in Croatia
13 residence. That's one legal ground on which the MUP decides. That's in
14 the first paragraph. And in the third paragraph it says: "Pursuant to
15 this" -- look at the last line, and I emphasise "Pursuant to this these
16 persons do not have the right to request or obtain refugee status."
17 That was the reason I asked whether one legal ground excluded the
18 others. So these two words, "Pursuant to this," or "In accordance with
19 this," these persons do not have the right to ask for refugee status, and
20 the reason is that their residence in Croatia has already been granted on
21 another legal basis, which is temporary residence; is that correct?
22 A. Yes.
23 MR. SCOTT: Excuse me, Your Honour. Just again so the record is
24 clear on this, and I think just now is a perfect illustration of the
25 problem, we continue to object to leading questions in this context.
1 This is a friendly witness, a witness entirely friendly to Ms. Alaburic.
2 He has given no adverse evidence to her client, and the Defence has been
3 given an unfair advantage by being able to put leading questions,
4 subjective direct questions to the witness just as the one just given.
5 I ask the Chamber to look at the transcript, look at the
6 question. That is a clearly leading question being put to a non-adverse
7 witness, and Prosecution continues to object to this practice. As the
8 Chamber may know we've filed a -- we've made a written motion -- filed a
9 written motion on this topic today, and this illustrates the point very
10 well. Thank you.
11 MR. KHAN: Your Honour, of course this matter has been subject to
12 a motion filed by the Prosecution. It's trite to say, however, that the
13 proposition put forward by the Prosecution is entirely novel or very
14 largely novel at least, at the very least, in this Tribunal.
15 Your Honour, it's a matter for --
16 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I'm sorry if I interrupt, but this is now
17 pending before us and the Defence will have a chance to answer. I do not
18 think it conducive to any good if we discuss it now. The Chamber has
19 taken note of the objection, and I think we leave it at that. I would
20 suggest that we do not take more time for a discussion that could go on
21 for a long time, appreciating your -- what you're saying. It's not that
22 it's wrong, but I think it is not conducive to our work at this time.
23 MR. KHAN: Your Honour, so be it. We will respond in writing.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. And I would like to
25 inform everyone that the witness told us that he was going to Israel
1 weekend, and in order to make sure that he doesn't have to come back next
2 week, let's try to avoid wasting time. And as my learned friend --
3 fellow Judge said the question is a pending one, and I would like to
4 invite Ms. Alaburic, if possible, to put neutral questions to the witness
5 just like the Judges do when they put questions to the witness.
6 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Thank you for your instruction,
7 Your Honours. I will do my best to put neutral questions to the extent
8 possible. If Dr. Rebic were a lawyer, I would put different questions,
9 but if a lawyer is putting questions to layperson about legal matters,
10 then I believe that a different approach is in order, and --
11 A. I apologise. If I may say, Your Honours, I can't be led by
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you very much, Witness,
14 for your answer. I already said this for other witnesses. Given the
15 quality of the witnesses, it seems that it is very difficult to
16 manipulate witnesses.
17 Please proceed, Ms. Alaburic.
18 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] It hasn't been my intention to
19 manipulate anybody. I believe that we will benefit most from correct
21 Q. Dr. Rebic, I remind you that we have left it off with the fact
22 that these persons could not ask for refugee status because they had been
23 permitted to stay in Croatia
24 this particular case it was prolonged stay.
25 Tell us, please, whether the status was decided by the Republic
1 of Croatia
2 another kind of request.
3 A. The Office for Refugees and Displaced Persons had a say in that
4 and they decided that in keeping with the situation that brought the
5 person to Croatia
6 status in the Republic of Croatia
7 status. If they arrived in the Croatian -- in the Republic of Croatia
8 with an express request to stay in Croatia
9 had a place to stay in a third country, then we had no reason not to
10 respect the person's will and granted a temporary stay. We did not force
11 such a person to stay in Croatia
13 Q. Dr. Rebic, for example, a refugee from Bosnia and Herzegovina
14 citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina who was fleeing from war, could they be
15 given the refugee status in several countries, for example, in Croatia
16 Great Britain, France, or was there a rule that regulated that
18 A. In practical terms somebody who enjoys -- enjoyed refugee status
19 in Croatia
21 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter's correction, and left for
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] And when leaving Croatia
24 not cancel their status in Croatia
25 that person would have dual refugee status, but it was of no use because
1 they could not enjoy benefits in both countries.
2 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
3 Q. Well, in that case we're talking about manipulation. Tell me,
4 please, was it not the rule that the refugee status could only be enjoyed
5 in one country, and if the status is obtained, for example, in Croatia
6 then only through this seat and manipulation were you able to acquire the
7 same status in a third country. Wouldn't that be correct?
8 A. Yes, it would be correct.
9 Q. Could you please now explain for the Trial Chamber, Dr. Rebic, if
10 somebody transited through the Republic of Croatia
11 go to a third country where they wanted to be granted a refugee status,
12 would obtaining the refugee status in Croatia impede on that original
14 A. No, not as far as I know, because that third country would hardly
15 be able to know that that person had already been granted the refugee
16 status in Croatia
17 were not as developed as they are today. There was no e-mails, postal
18 services, and after all, it was war. There were a lot of refugees who
19 moved all the time from one state to another. They would go. They would
20 come back. There was a lot of movement.
21 Q. Under the assumption that the documentation is in order, that it
22 was very hard to conceal any information, would it be logic -- logical
23 for a person leaving for a third country and applying for the refugee
24 status there to only pass through Croatia
25 they would not be able to be granted a refugee status in a third country?
1 A. Yes, that's understandable.
2 Q. Wouldn't it be logical for Croatia to receive transit passengers
3 from Bosnia-Herzegovina who wanted to be granted a refugee status in a
4 third country?
5 A. Yes.
6 MS. ALABURIC: Your Honours, thank you very much. I have
7 finished my cross-examination.
8 Q. Thank you very much, Mr. Rebic.
9 A. Thank you very much, Ms. Alaburic.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] One follow-up question,
11 Witness. In this courtroom many of us are more or less specialised in
12 refugee statuses, and the questions that you were asked helped to
13 understand clearly the refugee status. But I would like to put this
14 question for you. A person that for instance obtains insurances or
15 guarantee letters that Denmark
16 refugee status, your office at that point, or the government of Croatia
17 at the time, were you doing everything in your power to allow this
18 refugee to go to Denmark
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I would say that most often it was
20 the refugees themselves who organised their own departure through third
21 countries, for example, Denmark
22 as I remember, Croatia
23 countries. As I say, this is as far as I can remember.
24 It would have been very difficult, because Croatia could not
25 organise a convoy or transportation of any sort to take them first to
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. I understand that a
3 situation was quite complex, but let's suppose that we have a person who
4 comes from Mostar. That person no longer has any papers for whatever
5 reason. That person comes to your office, is taken care of by your
6 office because -- and he does not have any papers. He does not have a
7 passport of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but let's say he has to take the
8 plane to go to London
9 border crossings that he has to go through. Is your office going to give
10 him a letter, a safe-passage letter, enabling that person to go to
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Such person would receive from the
13 Office for Refugees and Displaced Persons or, better say for one of the
14 regional offices and there were a total of 21 of them all over Croatia
15 such a person would receive documents that we used to call transit visas,
16 and based on those documents such person would be received by third
17 country, for example, Denmark
18 status of refugee. Those papers showed quite clearly that the person had
19 fled from the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, that it requested a
20 transit visa in Croatia
21 for us either, and we could only believe persons -- the person, what they
22 said, because they did not provide us with any documents, no passport, no
23 birth certificate or anything. Some of these people had all their
24 documents burnt and all their family killed. They didn't have anything
25 on them. They just presented themselves as persons without any
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Fine. Mr. Scott, you have four
3 hours and 15 minutes, or four hours and 20 minutes, but we have another
4 question from the Bench.
5 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] Witness, I have a follow-up
6 question -- or two follow-up questions after the President's question.
7 Please try to be very concise when answering.
8 Which minister did your -- did your office depend on? Were you
9 under the Minister of Foreign Affairs or another ministry, or were you
10 under direct responsibility of the head of the government?
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, the Office for
12 Refugees and Displaced Persons was established by the government of the
13 Republic of Croatia
14 it was not under any other ministry. It was reporting directly to the
15 government at the time. It was Dr. Mate Granic who was the vice-prime
16 minister in charge of social issues. In other words, our office had a
17 direct link of communication with the government.
18 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] Second question. The mandate of
19 your office was to accommodate and take care of refugees and displaced
20 persons. Did you have the power to grant refugee status to individuals
21 who were outside of Croatia
22 respect, only apply to those individuals who were already in Croatia
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, our authority applied
24 to all people, to all those who were already in the Republic of Croatia
25 and had already requested a refugee status, as well as those persons who
1 were arriving from a different state, in this particular case,
2 Bosnia-Herzegovina, and came to us to request refugee status. We were
3 the only office that was able and allowed to grant that status to them.
4 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] Thank you very much.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Fine. Mr. Scott, you have the
6 floor for your cross-examination.
7 MR. SCOTT: We'll be distributing some papers, Your Honour.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You have the floor.
9 MR. SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. President. Good afternoon, Your
10 Honours, to counsel, to all those in and around the courtroom, and
11 especially Dr. Rebic.
12 Cross-examination by Mr. Scott:
13 Q. Good afternoon to you.
14 A. Thank you, and good afternoon to you, too, Mr. Scott.
15 Q. Doctor, I'm not sure, I've been thinking back over the last
16 couple of days and I'm not -- I cannot recall whether I've ever
17 cross-examined a priest before. I'm just wondering, do I need to have
18 any sort of special dispensation or any special permission to do that?
19 A. It's not necessary, no.
20 Q. Good.
21 A. Because this is not a confession, is it.
22 Q. No. We'll see. We will see. If we can just touch a bit on -- a
23 little bit more on your agency and, in fact, to follow up on some of the
24 questions that Judge Mindua put to you, and some of them may be similar,
25 but perhaps we can capture as much of this information in one spot. It
1 may ultimately assist.
2 You became involved with the Office for Displaced Persons and
3 Refugees in Croatia
4 A. That's right, yes.
5 Q. And we're just touching on the relationship with the Croatian
6 government. Do I understand correctly, sir, that in terms of a superior,
7 if the person who we might consider in colloquial terms your boss, is it
8 correct that that would have been Mate Granic who, at that time, I
9 believe was both the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime
10 Minister of the Republic of Croatia
11 A. That is correct, but at the time, at the very beginning, he was
12 not the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He was only deputy prime minister
13 responsible for social issues. And since the office was basically
14 concerned with social issues, he would have been our boss, as you put it,
15 and through him we would also be reporting to the government. It would
16 not have been fair for me to contact the prime minister directly,
17 bypassing Mr. Granic's authority. That would not have been fair, in
18 other words.
19 Q. All right. Sir, you're absolutely correct. Later -- at a point
20 later in time Mr. Granic also became -- or became the deputy prime
21 minister during the time you were still at ODPR; is that correct?
22 A. Actually, what you were going to ask me I believe is that he
23 later on became the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He already was a deputy
24 prime minister. Am I right in correcting you there?
25 Q. You're absolutely right. How often did you have dealings with
1 Mate Granic as your boss? Did you have any sort of regular weekly
2 meeting with him? Did you have to report to him your schedule, your work
3 plan? What sort of relationship did you have with Mr. Granic?
4 A. Mr. Scott, the OTP are meaning either me personally as the head
5 of the office or together with my deputy or secretary or some other
6 person who was in charge of the issues that we wanted to brief Mr. Granic
7 about. We would go to meet him. Those briefings of ours would take
8 place several times a week. There were times when we would meet on a
9 daily basis because that's what the situation called for.
10 Q. Very well. And during the period -- we're going to be focusing
11 primarily on 1992 into -- into 1994. During that time period at the
12 ODPR, who was your principal deputy or right hand, if you will?
13 A. Mr. Cepin.
14 Q. And what was the position held by Dr. Zoric?
15 A. Mr. Damir Zoric was the Secretary-General.
16 Q. Were the three of you, you, Dr. Rebic, Mr. Cepin, and
17 Mr. Zoric -- Dr. Zoric, can we accurately understand then that the three
18 of you were considered the three senior officials in the agency?
19 A. One would say the most involved in the work of the office, but
20 Mr. Cepin, my deputy, joined us a bit later when the job outgrew the
21 current personnel, and that's why the government offered me to take on a
22 deputy who helped in dealing with the issues concerning the main office,
23 the regional offices, and all the issues that concerned refugees and
24 displaced persons.
25 Q. All right. Now, building on that in terms of your dealing with
1 other offices, let me ask you. As you know, there came to be an office
2 for displaced persons and refugees, an agency by the same name in
3 Herceg-Bosna, and can you tell us who in your office, perhaps you, but
4 who in your office had the principal contacts or dealings with the ODPR
5 outside the ODPR HVO?
6 A. From the beginning of war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the ODPR had
7 contacts with Sarajevo
8 in mid-1992 in Zagreb
9 in displaced persons and refugees.
10 Q. Thank you. Doctor, just as Mr. Karnavas did, with my apology in
11 advance, there may be times when I will unfortunately interrupt you
12 because of the time limitations that we have to operate under. Let me
13 restate my question. Perhaps it wasn't clear.
14 I was not talking about the agency to deal with displaced persons
15 of the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina. My question to you
16 concerned the Office of Displaced Persons and Refugees that was set up by
17 the HVO, the Croatian Defence Council, in Mostar, and my question to you,
18 who among your office in Zagreb
19 with the ODPR HVO?
20 A. That office, the one on the territory of the Republic of Bosnia
21 and Herzegovina
22 started operating a little later than the similar office in Sarajevo
23 Consequently, pursuant to an agreement between the Republic of Croatia
24 and Bosnia-Herzegovina, it was determined that the Republic of Croatia
25 should provide logistical support to Bosnia-Herzegovina, to Sarajevo
1 the Bosniak Muslim side, and also to the Bosnian Croatian side. At that
2 time it was decided that the Republic of Croatia
3 such an office on the territory controlled by the HVO. This was done,
4 and they just like Mrs. Omersoftic came to obtain the basic information
5 and instructions on how to go about setting up such an office and then
6 they set one up in Herceg-Bosna.
7 Q. Excuse me, sir. Let me thank you for that. Let me ask my
8 question again a third time. Who, who -- the people in your office,
9 yourself perhaps, Mr. Cepin, Dr. Zoric, who in your office in ODPR
11 did you deal with -- who was the person or persons that the ODPR HVO that
12 you had your dealings with?
13 A. All three of us participated in that. Most often I as the head
14 of the office. They would come to see me and inform me about the
15 situation, just as Mrs. Omersoftic did to inform me about the situation
16 in Sarajevo
18 Q. All right. And the other part of my question, sir, is who - at
19 the end other, if you will - who were the persons, who were the officials
20 at ODPR HVO, the Herceg-Bosna agency? Who were you dealing with there?
21 A. The first person who we cooperated with was Mr. Tadic. After
22 him, the second person, the head of the Office for Displaced Persons in
23 Herceg-Bosna was Mr. Martin Raguz. I'm not sure when exactly he
24 succeeded Mr. Tadic.
25 Q. All right. And Mr. Tadic, that was Darinko Tadic, and I take it
1 he was the head of ODPR HVO --
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. -- prior to Mr. Rebic. You'll have to give a --
4 A. That's correct, yes.
5 Q. Thank you. Now let me ask you a somewhat different question,
6 sir. You've mentioned a couple of occasions perhaps since you began
7 testifying earlier this week, but can you tell the Judges
8 approximately -- during the period, let's say from the middle of 1992,
9 roughly July 1992, until mid-1994, perhaps we can say again July 1994,
10 during that approximate two-year period how often did you go to,
11 physically, Herceg-Bosna?
12 A. As Herceg-Bosna was not within my remit in any way, it was very
13 rarely, I think maybe only once or, if my memory serves me well, twice,
14 that I visited that office in Herceg-Bosna. There was no need for our
15 office or members of our office to go there, because they were quite
16 independent in their activities. They were not our extended arm, so
17 there was no reason for us to go there, because we had no competence over
18 that office.
19 Q. All right. Can I ask you if you can be provided -- this will be
20 in one of the Defence binders I believe you were shown the document by
21 Mr. Karnavas, we may need the assistance of the usher, if you can please
22 look at Exhibit 1D 02008.
23 I'm told -- I don't know this, but I'm told by my very good
24 colleague that that could be number 12 in the binder, one of the binders
25 that people have been using.
1 Do you have it, Doctor?
2 A. No, no.
3 Q. We'll have it for you in just a moment.
4 A. I'll get it now, yes.
5 Q. Thank you, Counsel.
6 A. [In English] Thank you.
7 Q. Now, this is a document that we saw previously, that you looked
8 at the other day. According to the information that we were provided,
9 Dr. Rebic, this is a document that you're familiar with. You had
10 indicated that Dr. Granic, who you identified as your boss, he informed
11 you about this document and talked to you about it. There had been a
12 meeting between Mr. Granic and Mr. Prlic because Mr. Granic indeed wanted
13 to define the relations between Croatia
14 and Dr. Prlic agreed that the Croatian ODPR would cooperate with
15 establishing a similar office in Herceg-Bosna and to essentially, if you
16 will, set that office up and get it running. That's what we've been
17 told. Is that correct?
18 A. [Interpretation] Yes, that's correct. At that time we didn't
19 have time, Granic and I, that is, to discuss in detail all the aspects of
20 the conclusions he had reached with other officials, but I was informed
21 of this in general terms.
22 Q. All right. Now, there's several aspects of this document we will
23 come back to because there's -- hopefully we'll approach our questions
24 and answers in a topical way, and there are some things that I will come
25 back to when it's perhaps more appropriate further into the examination,
1 but on the current point, if I could ask you -- if I could direct your
2 attention, for example, to paragraph number 2, paragraph number 5. You
3 can just cast your eyes on those.
4 This is consistent, is it not, with what you told us just a few
5 moments ago that there would be efforts, ongoing efforts, between the
6 ODPR Croatia and ODPR HVO to get the latter established and running and
7 that there would be close coordination, cooperation, between those two
8 agencies; is that correct?
9 A. Yes, but not just that, Mr. Scott. It was necessary to organise
10 on the territory of Herceg-Bosna accommodation for displaced persons
11 within that area. That was what the Republic of Croatia
12 It was not necessary for everyone to cross over into Croatia. Sarajevo
13 and Mostar both, and this was one of the conclusions of the friendship
14 agreement between Tudjman and Izetbegovic, it was necessary for both the
15 Bosniak Muslim side and the Croatian side in cooperation with Croatia
16 take measures themselves to look after their displaced persons, and we
17 would help them where they were unable to do this on their own if they
18 were overwhelmed by the numbers of displaced persons.
19 Q. Thank you, Doctor. If you'd look at point number 7. Perhaps you
20 can help us with this since you were the head of the agency in Croatia
21 and working closely with Mr. Granic. Perhaps you can assist us.
22 Point 7 says: "When contacting the Office of the UN High
23 Commissioner for Refugees, ensure centralised access. The contact should
24 be made only at the HVO HZ HB level, in other words, through an office
25 set up by the HVO."
1 Now, why in your experience, drawing on your experience as head
2 of the ODPR Croatia, why would you want access centralised and limited
3 only at a senior level?
4 A. As I understand point 7, the Croatian side insisted that in
5 Herceg-Bosna also conditions should be put in place assisted by the High
6 Commissioner for Refugees, and Croatia
7 The ODPR was in daily contact with the High Commissioner, with the UNHCR,
8 and there was some information, because I think the UNHCR did not have
9 its own office in Mostar, so some contacts between the UNHCR and them
10 went through us, but these contacts were not so numerous. Sometimes the
11 UNHCR got involved in solving the problems of the ODPR in Mostar
13 Q. All right. Well, perhaps we'll come to some of those instances.
14 If I can just ask you to look briefly at one other part of the document
15 before we finish with this document, at least for now.
16 MR. SCOTT: And then, perhaps, Your Honour, it might be time for
17 a break.
18 Q. If you can look at point 11, same document. If you can look at
19 point 11, just in passing, so perhaps we don't have to come back to the
20 document, at least in this respect. Another thing that Dr. Granic and
21 Dr. Prlic apparently discussed at this meeting was the assistance of
23 A. That is correct. The Republic of Croatia
24 assistance for the founding of Mostar university so that both Croats and
25 Bosniaks in Mostar could become independent in this respect also rather
1 than arriving in Zagreb
2 university in their own town, and that university still exists to this
3 day, and our professors from Zagreb
4 still go to teach in Mostar.
5 MR. SCOTT: Your Honour, it may be a good time for the break.
6 Thank you.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Let's take a
8 20-minute break, and we will resume in 20 minutes' time.
9 --- Recess taken at 3.45 p.m.
10 --- On resuming at 4.08 p.m.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. The Prosecution has
12 the floor again.
13 MR. SCOTT:
14 Q. Dr. Rebic, just on the topic of one of the accused in this case,
15 Mr. Prlic, if you could just confirm my understanding, and again this is
16 based on what I -- the information I've been given, if I can just confirm
17 that with you for purposes of the record, you believe that you -- that
18 Dr. Prlic visited Dr. Granic about a month before the fighting began in
19 the Posavina, sometime after the war started with the JNA; is that
21 A. Yes. That was when I first met Mr. Prlic in Mr. Granic 's
22 office. Mr. Granic was then the deputy prime minister.
23 Q. Can you assist us, please, with any other -- I know it's some
24 time ago, but if you can, can you give us any further information about
25 the approximate date of that, your first meeting with Mr. Prlic?
1 A. I can't recall the date. It might have been in the summer of
2 1992, maybe even a bit later in the autumn, towards the autumn. It was
3 not an official meeting between me and Mr. Prlic. I happened to be in
4 Mr. Granic's office. I had come to see the deputy prime minister about
5 something we needed. I can't remember what. And in the break I met
6 Mr. Prlic and had a brief conversation with him.
7 Q. Let me, in the interests of time, let me just indicate that again
8 the information that I've been given is that during the time -- if we can
9 say before or during the war, I'm not talking about -- I'm not talking
10 about 1995 or anytime after that, but before and during the war you can
11 recall meeting Dr. Prlic twice; is that correct?
12 A. Once I'm certain about. Whether it was twice I can't be
13 absolutely sure. I did attend some meetings which were held between
14 representatives of the government of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina
15 and Croatia
16 Q. All right. And just to finish on this, again I understand that
17 you do not recall having any what might be described as substantive
18 conversations or communications with Dr. Prlic during the war, which
19 again for these purposes we'll say 1992 to 1994; is that correct?
20 A. I had a conversation by telephone with Mr. Prlic. That I know.
21 That was when there were about a hundred and fifty Bosnian Herzegovinian
22 Muslims in the Zagreb
23 He was very sad. He said, Professor, why are you no longer receiving
24 Muslims? I said to Mr. Mouchet, this is the first I've heard of it,
25 because we are receiving everyone who comes every day regardless of
1 whether they are Bosnian Muslims or Bosnian Croats. He said to me that
2 there were -- well, he said there were 800 of them in the mosque. There
3 weren't that many, actually, as far as I can recall, and then I sent
4 Mrs. Bozena Les who was then the head of the regional office to go to the
5 mosque urgently and take a look and inform me of this.
6 MR. KARNAVAS: Your Honour, I would insist on the gentleman being
7 allowed to complete his answer. It is part of the question that was
8 being asked of him, and so I think he's entitled to give a full answer.
9 MR. SCOTT: No, Your Honour I'm entitled to a responsive answer
10 and that is the conversation with Mr. Prlic. If the Chamber wants to
11 give me more time then I'll be happy to do that, but my time is very
12 limited. My question was very specific. I don't need the whole story.
13 I want to know about his dealings. He mentioned he volunteered a
14 phone conversation with Mr. Prlic concerning 150 Bosnian Muslims at the
16 the witness go on, but let's go straight now to the conversation with
17 Mr. Prlic.
18 Q. Please, Witness. You said you had a conversation with Mr. Prlic
19 in this regard. Can you tell us what the nature of your conversation was
20 with Mr. Prlic in connection with these Muslims being at the Zagreb
22 A. When together with Mr. Mouchet I went to the mosque and saw those
23 people there, I asked them what they wanted. I asked them whether they
24 wanted to go back to Bosnia-Herzegovina or whether they wanted to ask for
25 refugee status. They were in two minds. Mouchet advised me to receive
1 them all and give them all refugee status, which is what we did. Then I
2 called up Mr. Prlic, told him what had happened. I told him about a
3 hundred and fifty refugees had arrived from Bosnia-Herzegovina and that
4 we had not been previously informed, so they had to spend three days in
5 the mosque, and they had not even applied to us, but it was only after
6 the UNHCR intervened. Then Mr. Prlic said that he would examine the case
7 and let me know.
8 He called me back soon after that. He told me that he had
9 investigated the case. He hadn't known anything about it previously, and
10 that these were people who wanted to leave and go to Croatia to be
11 somewhere safe. They were all people who had left the HVO, the Croatian
12 Defence Council, the Croatian army in Herceg-Bosna. He said to me that
13 they had paid for their transport and left because they felt they would
14 be safer, their lives would be safer in Croatia.
15 Q. All right.
16 A. That was my contact with him. That's what it amounted to.
17 Q. And on that occasion, sir, and this actually goes back to what we
18 were talking about before the break, and I asked you about your dealings
19 with the ODPR HVO, the head of that agency I believe -- I believe around
20 this time would have been Darinko Tadic. Why did you call Mr. Prlic?
21 What caused you to think that Mr. Prlic was the person that you should
22 contact to deal with this matter?
23 A. I thought he would provide me with the best information, better
24 than the ODPR, and also we didn't communicate by telephone very often
25 with that ODPR.
1 Q. All right. Let me -- let me go further on that. You say you
2 thought he would provide you with the best information. Why? Why did
3 you think that? Why did you think that it would be Mr. Prlic that would
4 provide you with the best information in this situation?
5 A. Well, firstly because I had already met him personally, so I knew
6 him. And secondly, because he was a high-ranking HVO official.
7 Therefore, he was a person who could give me the best information about
8 those people. I wanted to know what sort of people they were and how
9 they had left Bosnia-Herzegovina.
10 His first reply was that he didn't know anything about it but
11 that he would investigate. After he had investigated he called me up
12 again and he told me what I just told you.
13 Q. All right. I just want to clarify a couple of dates with you if
14 we can. You mentioned in the course of your testimony that I think
15 between 1992 -- well, no. I believe between 1993 and 1994 there were
16 three times when there was a survey or a census of the persons who had
17 come to Croatia
18 can use the term "refugee" or "displaced person" generally, not
19 necessarily in a technical sense but people who had moved, travelled to
21 census was in April, May, and June of 1992, and can I suggest to you,
22 sir, that that would have been -- that would have been the second census
23 in 1993, not in 1992?
24 A. That's correct. That's what I said. In 1992, that was the first
25 census, and it concerned displaced persons in Croatia. In 1993 there was
1 the second census -- or, rather, it was the first census of refugees from
2 Bosnia-Herzegovina, whereas the third census concerned both displaced
3 persons and refugees and it took place in 1994. If I'm correct, it was
4 sometime in June or July. So there were three censuses in all, one after
5 the other.
6 Q. Sir, there was a census in February 1993. Isn't at that correct?
7 And in fact, wasn't that the first census? That was the first census,
8 wasn't it?
9 A. That's correct, yes. No, no. In -- there was a later one in
10 February. The first one in 1992 was in April and May and it ended in
11 June. I'm using the Croatian language. I'm not looking at the
12 transcript to see what the interpreter said. It was April, May, and
14 Q. So April, June, 1992 was the first survey -- or census. Then in
15 February 1993 was the second?
16 A. That's correct. At about the same time, yes. The same months
17 that is. A little later. I think it was completed in June, because the
18 logistics were better, and the people knew better how to do it. It was
19 done faster.
20 Q. Well, sir, the document, sir, the documentation and Dr. Zoric who
21 testified here said that that survey took place in February of 1993.
22 February. So might you be mistaken?
23 A. I don't think so. You can check it in the documents. It's easy
24 to check. I don't think I'm wrong. In 1993 there couldn't have been a
25 census in February. In 1993, the census could have been taken in April,
1 May, and June, the same months as the first one more or less. February,
2 I think, is a little too early as far as I can recall. However, it can
3 be checked in the documents.
4 Q. Now, moving to another date that I would just like to correct if
5 we can, or clarify. You also mentioned in your testimony on Monday a
6 meeting with, I think, Azra Krajsek and Mr. Tadic and perhaps Mr. Raguz
7 as well, said there was a meeting to sit down and discuss a number of
8 things and you said that meeting had taken place on the 11th of April,
9 1993. Can I suggest to you -- would you recall that in fact that
10 meeting -- if you think about that particular meeting, that actually was
11 in April 1994?
12 A. That's correct. That's what I said, unless there was some
14 Q. Perhaps it was -- perhaps it was some of our confusion. That's
15 why I needed to ask and clarify.
16 A. Yes, yes. So it might have been a misinterpretation.
17 Q. All right. April 1994. All right. Thank you for that.
18 Let me ask you about some relationships with Franjo Tudjman since
19 you were asked some questions about him. Again if I can focus your
20 attention primarily on the period -- well, for this -- for this purpose
21 1991, 1994.
22 Can you tell the Judges, please, how many times do you think you
23 had any sort of face-to-face dealings, conversations, meetings with
24 President Tudjman?
25 A. Not as often as one might expect, because with reference to the
1 refugee and displaced person situation, the president of the Republic of
3 However, I attended a meeting, for example, between representatives of
4 Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia
5 were being discussed and when the friendship agreement was signed. I
6 shook hands with Tudjman on that occasion. Once I went to see the
7 president together with the community of displaced persons from Croatia
8 who were having certain problems regarding accommodation, food, and so
9 on. These were Croatian citizens.
10 And then the president invited me to attend the meeting, to hear
11 their complaints and comment on them. That was a meeting when I was
12 there in an official capacity, and before that I had a face-to-face
13 meeting with the president and I told him that he should know that these
14 were persons who could not be completely objective in their reports on
15 their accommodation and food because they were stressed out, and he told
16 me he knew that.
17 Q. All right. Well, again, sir, I need to have -- I need to move
18 forward, and I apologise for that, but again, as everyone knows, our time
19 is limited, and you've already told us about your engagement this weekend
20 which we would like to, of course, accommodate you.
21 So so far you've told us about two meetings. So during 1991 to
22 1994, you had two meetings with President Tudjman?
23 A. There were others. I was interrupted.
24 Q. Well, sir, how many? I just -- please answer my question. I'm
25 going to become increasingly -- I'm going to interrupt you because I
1 don't need all your belong answers all the time, with my apology. My
2 question is how many. You don't need to describe them. Do you
3 understand? Two, four, ten? How many times did you meet with President
5 A. Well, face-to-face only with once -- or twice. Excuse me, twice.
6 Once with reference to refugees and their accommodation, and secondly
7 when I resigned and he asked me to come and see him to try to -- and he
8 tried to persuade me to remain at the head of the ODPR, and I told him
9 no, I was definitely resigning.
10 If you have questions about these two meetings, I will answer.
11 Q. Did you ever during this 1991 to 1994 time period meet with
12 Mr. Susak, the Minister of Defence?
13 A. Yes, I did. Not face-to-face, but together with other persons in
14 connection with accommodating and securing displaced persons. Once I
15 went to see him with the minister of health, Dr. Hebrang, and
16 Dr. Kostovic, the Deputy Prime Minister, and Doctor -- what was his name?
17 He was a Doctor too. I can't recall his last name right now. That was
18 just before Operation Storm.
19 Q. So let me ask you, sir, how many times, how many times, a
20 number -- what I'm asking you for is a number. How many times did you --
21 A. Once.
22 MR. KARNAVAS: Just for the record, Your Honour, we're talking
23 face-to-face, four eyes, four ears. That's what the gentleman is talking
24 about, so we don't have confusion about how many times he was in the room
25 where discussions were being help.
1 MR. SCOTT: I'm not saying that.
2 MR. KARNAVAS: I want to make sure that we're clear on the
4 MR. SCOTT: Well, thank you for that, Counsel.
5 Q. I'm not talking about just one-on-one meetings where it was just
6 and Mr. Tudjman or you and Mr. Susak, but times when you had face-to-face
7 dealings, there may have been other people in the meeting. So so far
8 you've had two with President Tudjman and one with Dr. Susak?
9 MR. KARNAVAS: That's incorrect. Again he's using "face-to-face
10 meetings," and I'm saying that the way you -- you're shaking your head,
11 Judge Trechsel, but hear me out, please. When the gentleman is saying
12 face-to-face, he's talking one to one, nobody else in the room.
13 MR. SCOTT: How does Mr. Karnavas know that?
14 MR. KARNAVAS: I do know that. Because I do know that. Now --
15 now -- now.
16 MR. STEWART: Michael, Michael.
17 MR. KARNAVAS: Part of it has to do with the language. Now, the
18 question needs to be rephrased. When he's talking about face-to-face,
19 that's what's throwing the gentleman off.
20 MR. STEWART: Michael. Michael. I'm going to make a genuine
21 attempt to calm things down.
22 MR. KARNAVAS: I apologise, but you don't need to calm things
24 MR. STEWART: Michael --
25 MR. KARNAVAS: We need precision in the courtroom, and the
1 gentleman is entitled to have precise questions. I appreciate your
2 candour and you want to help, but the issue here is: In his own language
3 what does face-to-face mean, and it's interpreted differently in Croatian
4 than it is, say, in English. So he's talking about meetings. I think we
5 need to make a distinction.
6 MR. STEWART: Mr. Karnavas, don't start on me.
7 Ms. Alaburic and I discussed exactly this point. This is
8 precisely what we were trying to help with. Ms. Alaburic has explained
9 to me what the witness has been saying in his own language. There is a
10 very simple but repeated and understandable issue which comes up in the
11 interpretation which is that face-to-face in English is less apt than the
12 phrase one to one or one on one. Face-to-face in English doesn't just
13 mean just two people together, it means as opposed to on the telephone,
14 for example. It means physically present. Probably, and I'm as
15 complimentary as anybody about the interpretation here, but probably
16 whatever phrase the witness is using in his own language, as explained by
17 my learned leading counsel, is better translated as one-to-one rather
18 than face-to-face and that would avoid the confusion.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. This is obviously a
20 semantical problem. Mr. Stewart thinks it's better to say one to one
21 while the interpreters were saying face-to-face. And Mr. Scott, please
22 try to perhaps be a little bit more precise.
23 MR. SCOTT: Well, Your Honour --
24 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Just for the clarity, if you look at page 45,
25 line 6, the witness in answering the question of the Prosecutor, which
1 was to the meetings said, "I did meet Mr. Susak not face-to-face but
2 together with other persons." So he gave a clear answer, I think. And
3 then the question was whether this was more than once.
4 MR. STEWART: Your Honour is absolutely right. That's what
5 alerted us to the fact that there was clearly this confusion which we've
6 tried to help clear up.
7 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you, it's appreciated.
8 MR. KARNAVAS: But the issue goes to President Tudjman as well,
9 and you have to look at page 43, 44, and then if you look at the way the
10 question is being phrased, and there's no ill-intention on the part of
11 the Prosecution. However, something is being lost in translation. And I
12 understand the line of questioning. In other words, you haven't met him
13 therefore you can't opine on what the gentleman was thinking. That's the
14 line of questioning, but I think we need to be fair because the gentleman
15 indicated that he was present in the room. So the follow-up question
16 might be, Well, how often were you present in the room where things were
17 being discussed?
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The French language may perhaps
19 come to the rescue and solve this issue. In French the right way of
20 putting the question would be, "When did you see personally Mr. Tudjman
21 or Mr. Susak or individually," and the word individually or personally
22 means that there were only two persons present. So in other words it
23 goes back to what Mr. Stewart was saying, one to one. But the French
24 language is a very precise language.
25 So, Mr. Scott, please put your question.
1 MR. SCOTT: Thank you, Your Honour. And just for the record I'm
2 not excited about any of this. If there has been in fact -- if there is
3 a cultural or translation issue, then I appreciate being alerted to it,
4 but I have to agree with Judge Trechsel. I heard the same thing and it
5 seemed to me, listening to witness's answer, that he perfectly
6 understood - it appeared to me - what was translated and what came on the
7 screen, that he perfectly well understood, so I had no reason to think
9 Q. Let me, Witness, we'll have to take this a bit longer, which is
10 fine, I suppose, as long as the Chamber allows us to move in this way.
11 I'm not limiting my question to you in terms of one to one, and that's
12 not my understanding. You know a one to one meeting is if you and I were
13 in the room somewhere and it was just the two of us. Nobody else.
14 That's not what I'm talking, you understand. That's not what I'm talking
16 But I'm talking about times where you were in a meeting, it could
17 be just the two of you, but it also could be -- Susak could have been
18 there, Sarinic could have been there, anybody could have been, and I want
19 you to tell us how many times between 1991 and 1994 were you physically
20 present with President Tudjman in that sort of a way. And I don't mean
21 in a conference hall with 5.000 people, but in a meeting, personal
22 dealings, direct dealings with him that way.
23 Now, I hope -- you're an extremely well-educated man, you speak a
24 number of languages including English, so I hope you understand what I
25 mean. Can you assist us? Does that change your answer? Was it those
1 two times or is it -- would you like to add or change, modify your
3 A. I repeat and this may assist you. I met Mr. President Tudjman
4 only twice, face-to-face, individually, tete-a-tete. There were other
5 meetings, for example a meeting between the two parties when the
6 agreement on friendship was discussed. There may have been maybe five
7 such meetings that I attended.
8 As for Susak, I never met him face-to-face or individually or
9 tete-a-tete. There was always another person or two more persons present
10 who were dealing with some topical issues at the time.
11 Q. So, the answer is no -- as you say, no individual meetings, no
12 personal meetings with Mr. Susak. Going back to President Tudjman, then,
13 so hopefully we can move forward, have you now indicated then, based on
14 everything you've heard in the courtroom over the last 15 minutes, that
15 during this time period you may have had five physical interventions, if
16 you will, occasions to be with President Tudjman between 1991 and 1994?
17 A. I said that there were such occasions, but as I sit here today, I
18 can't recall them all. One of them was definitely the friendship meeting
19 that I mentioned and the next one.
20 Q. We know about that. We have a transcript of that meeting. Sir,
21 we have a transcript of that meeting. Everyone knows about that one.
22 A. Yes. The other meetings were the one when he was at the session
23 of the government of the Republic of Croatia
24 in 1995. I was there together with other persons. I was also with him
25 when I was decorated. Again there were other people present. And I
1 really can't recall any other particular occasions when that happened.
2 Q. We'll move forward sir. Now, you're familiar, are you not, there
3 was a body in the Croatian government or at the time, and maybe there
4 still is, something called the Council for Defence and National Security,
5 I understand sometimes called the VONS for short, abbreviation. Is that
6 correct? Is that correct?
7 A. VOS. I never attended VOS meetings.
8 Q. All right. Well, thank you for correcting me if I was wrong.
9 That's not the information that I was provided. But in any event you've
10 seen -- you've gone straight to my question, sir. Thank you. You never
11 attended any of those meetings. And so the Judges know, that was an
12 extreme important body that was primarily involved in the -- setting the
13 defence and national security strategy for Croatia during that time
14 period; correct?
15 A. That's correct, but I as the head of the of ODPR was not
16 requested as a member of that body or at its meetings. It was just not
17 necessary for me to be there.
18 Q. You said on Monday, sir, that --
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Praljak.
20 THE ACCUSED PRALJAK: [Interpretation] I apologise, Your Honours,
21 but in order to avoid any future confusion, the abbreviation VOS stands
22 for military and security intelligence service, and what the Prosecutor
23 is talking about is actually VONS which is the council for defence and
24 national security, whereas VOS is the intelligence military service.
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, I agree. You're right there,
2 MR. SCOTT: Thank you, Dr. Praljak. We can agree on that. I was
3 right the first time. It was the VONS.
4 Q. So moving forward then, and we know that you did not attend any
5 of the meetings of that body.
6 Now, when you testified on Monday, you said that Tudjman busied
7 himself with the idea of reviving the old agreement between the Serbs and
8 Croats. Now, when you say he busied himself, what did you mean to say by
9 that? How do -- number one, how do you know, and number two, assuming
10 you do know something about it, what do you mean he busied himself with
11 the idea of reviving the old agreement?
12 A. Mr. Scott, when I said he was dealing with the idea of Banovina
14 politician, and at the same time as a historian, as a person who was
15 quite familiar with not only the history of Croatia after the Second
16 World War but also the history before the war, and he was familiar with
17 the agreement between Serbs and Croats dating back to 1939 dealing with
18 the autonomy of Croatia
19 current territory of today's Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
20 As the political candidate, in his speeches I remember that as a
21 citizen who listened to those speeches, he would he occasionally mention
22 that idea and he would say that this Banovina of Croatia could be
23 re-established. However, from the moment when Bosnia-Herzegovina was
24 seceded from Yugoslavia
25 the first to recognise it as an independent state, and Croatia was also
1 among the first states that established diplomatic contacts with the
2 newly created state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as of that moment on
3 Tudjman stopped insisting [as interpreted] on the re-establishment of
4 Banovina, because at the moment when Bosnia-Herzegovina was established
5 as an independent state within the borders of the former Republic of
7 MR. KARNAVAS: There's a clarification. I'm told that the
8 gentleman did not say that Tudjman stopped insisting, that he never
9 insisted. And so I would ask that the gentleman be -- look at the screen
10 and be given an opportunity to correct the record.
11 Page 52, line 12. It says that, "At that moment Tudjman stopped
12 insisting." He's saying that he never insisted. This is what my
13 colleague tells me, who is a B/C/S speaker.
14 MR. SCOTT:
15 Q. Sir, you spent the last few minutes telling us that indeed, you
16 confirmed for us, that as a politician, as an HDZ politician, Tudjman did
17 speak about re-establishing the 1939 Banovina. So apparently he did talk
18 about it at some point. So did he stop -- did he stop at some point
19 pushing that idea and, if so, when and how do you know?
20 MR. KARNAVAS: Again I'm going to object to the form of the
21 question. He never said he pushed the idea. It's one thing as a
22 politician to express ideas. This is why I'm going to be on my feet and
23 I'm going to be extremely aggressive at this point.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, you speak many
25 languages, starting with your mother tongue, and you're perfectly able to
1 express yourself in that language, but you also speak English. Can you
2 please tell us again what happened with Tudjman and the Banovina? You
3 see that it's a very important matter here and that tensions are ripe
4 when we deal with this matter, so can you repeat what your feeling was in
5 terms of Tudjman and the Banovina?
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I said and I will repeat, as a
7 citizen who was listening --
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Please slow down for the
9 interpreters to properly translate what you have to tell us.
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] As a citizen I was listening to the
11 candidate of the Croatian Democratic Union running for elections in 1990,
12 and I heard him mentioning the fact of Banovina Croatia, which was
13 established in 1939.
14 When the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was established, when
15 it was recognised by Croatia
16 relations were established with the state, i.e., the Republic of Bosnia
17 and Herzegovina
18 On the contrary, he had recognised the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina
19 within the borders that it had before, and as of that time on this issue
20 for him was history. I personally never discussed the issue with him.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, in French we have a
22 word, the word "insist," and I see that in English, in the English
23 transcript, the word "insisting" has been used. In your own language did
24 you use that word? Did you use the word "insist," or did you use another
25 word, because from a linguistic point of view if you use the word
1 "insist" it implies that you mentioned the issue in the past but at some
2 point you stop dealing with it. So I'd like to know whether it's indeed
3 the word "insist" that you used in your language.
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No longer insisted, which means
5 that he no longer pondered upon the idea of re-establishing Banovina
7 recognised the new state of Republic of Croatia
8 politician, he could only talk about something that used to exist but no
9 longer existed, nor did he want the idea to come to fruition, because
10 that possibility no longer existed. That happened once he recognised the
11 state of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a newly independent state.
12 MR. SCOTT:
13 Q. Sir, you just said a moment ago that you never personally
14 discussed it with him, and when you say he no longer insisted, what
15 you're telling the Chamber is you no longer heard him say it publicly,
16 and he didn't say it to you. Now, that's what you're really telling us;
17 right? He wasn't saying it publicly, and he didn't say it to you
18 personally. That's all you can really tell us; correct?
19 A. I can tell you that he never personally spoke about that to me,
20 and I did not hear him speak about that in public after that.
21 Q. Moving forward then, sir, I've seen somewhere where you've
22 expressed the view that you -- perhaps you and other people in Croatia
23 the time thought that the Serbs or the JNA were using refugees and
24 displaced persons essentially as a weapon against Croatia
25 flooding Croatia
1 government and economy. Is that correct? Do I understand that
3 A. You understood me well, and this indeed is correct.
4 Q. Now, if I could ask you to go to, please, Exhibit 1D 02277. It
5 should be next to you I'm told. 1 -- 1D 2277.
6 This is a document that I believe Mr. Karnavas showed to you. It
7 is a letter from a group of refugees --
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Scott.
9 MR. SCOTT: Yes, Your Honour.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] We have a number of binders
11 here. We have your own binder. We have exhibits, other exhibits that
12 are loose, and we have another binder, a blue binder. So can you specify
13 what binder we're talking about here?
14 MR. SCOTT: I'll try to help as much as I can, Your Honour. The
15 problem is --
16 MR. KARNAVAS: It should be in one.
17 JUDGE TRECHSEL: The blue one.
18 MR. KARNAVAS: Yes.
19 MR. SCOTT: Thank you.
20 MR. KARNAVAS: It should be the number one from ours.
21 MR. SCOTT: If we refer to a Defence exhibit, it will, perhaps
22 with very limited exceptions, be in the Defence binder. Obviously we
23 didn't want to copy it yet another time, but we do understand the burden
24 on everyone in the courtroom with juggling these materials.
25 I think perhaps most people have found it.
1 Q. Sir, if you can look at that document which again Mr. Karnavas
2 showed you a letter dated the 7th of March, 1994 to Jadranko Prlic. Just
3 a couple of brief questions hopefully.
4 You've had extensive dealings with the -- with refugee issues and
5 displaced persons issues, and you've told us in the last few days that
6 these people -- it's a very unhappy situation for everyone. They often
7 have complaints. I suppose who wouldn't? But in the middle --
8 approximately the middle of this letter, and I don't know if the
9 paragraphs are the same in the Croatian language it would be about -- if
10 I can ask you to look at the fifth paragraph that starts with the words
11 "One school year." If you see that. I'll give you that --
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. All right. Thank you. Skipping -- we'll come back to something
14 else in a moment, but skipping towards the end of that paragraph, you
15 talk about such -- oh excuse me. I'm sorry. The letter talks about such
16 things as insecurity, frustration, anxiety, various neuroses, trauma,
17 shock. I mean, you would agree would you not these are serious matters
18 or not, or are they frivolous?
19 A. Yes, they are. You're correct there.
20 Q. And that would be true no matter if the refugee is a Croat or a
21 Serb or a Muslim?
22 A. Absolutely.
23 Q. Now, going back earlier in the paragraph, you mention -- I
24 apologise. I don't want to keep doing that. The letter mentions a
25 school year being lost because the children were not able to attend
1 classes "in their mother tongue," bracket, end bracket.
2 Now, I'm sure you touched on this during your earlier
3 examinations. Can you assist the Judges further? I mean, how much of a
4 distinction was there at that time in 1993, 1994, between the Croatian
5 language, what -- the language that Croats spoke and the language that
6 the Bosniaks spoke? As I understand it, correct me if I'm wrong, but as
7 I understand it they could understand and communicate perfectly well with
8 each other, for the most part. Is that correct?
9 A. You're right. They could perfectly understand each other. In
10 Bosnia-Herzegovina the language spoken there is predominantly Croatian.
11 Actually, the language -- the Croatian language spoken in Herzegovina
12 what we base our standard Croatian variant on.
13 When I arrived as a student in grammar school, I didn't
14 understand my teachers, but when it comes to the differences between
15 Croats and Muslims, they understand each other perfectly, but let me
16 clarify. Both in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Croatian -- in Croatia
17 Croats have a variant of Croatian which we called "received
18 pronunciation," which is somewhat different from the Bosniak language
19 which, during the times of the former Yugoslavia, was under the influence
20 of the Serb language.
21 Now, when it comes to a situation where people are under a lot of
22 stress, even one Serbian word would not go down well with them. It would
23 not have the same effect on me or my friends, but these are people who
24 were under a lot of stress and even a single word could have annoyed
1 Q. Well, let me ask you that then, and that's -- it would be
2 interesting to have a much longer linguistic discussion if we had the
3 time, but I asked you earlier about these other concerns that were
4 later -- expressed later in the paragraph, frustration, anxiety, but can
5 you tell the Judges, how -- was that a serious issue that these people
6 were not receiving -- children were not receiving classes in their mother
7 tongue (Croatian). Was that a serious issue or really it's trivial?
8 MR. KARNAVAS: Your Honour, I'm going to object. How can this
9 gentleman opine on whether it was serious to those individuals or not?
10 It might be serious to Dr. Rebic, it may not. You know, it all depends
11 on the individuals and the circumstances. I don't believe that this
12 gentleman is competent to answer that question. I think it's -- it's
13 improperly phrased and it's unfair to ask a question of that dimension.
14 MR. SCOTT: I'll rephrase. I'll rephrase.
15 Q. In your dealings with refugees or groups of refugees during the
16 time 1992 to 1994, is this sort of things -- is this something you heard
17 only once or did you hear it on a number of occasions, that is,
18 complaints about not being able to use one's own language? Or is this a
19 one time -- kind of a one-time situation?
20 A. One has to be able to understand the text. The lost year here
21 and the education in the Bosniak language refers to their stay in Central
23 they arrived in Pineta, they had education in their own Croatian
24 language, the language that they had been brought up on in Central
1 Croatian television, newspaper, and they speak is the so-called Croatian
3 Q. I appreciate that, sir, and it's like with English. There are
4 various dialects, I suppose, and accents of English. I'm sure
5 Mr. Stewart thinks that I speak English terribly, but in any event, let
6 me just -- my point is this: The point is these children went to
7 school -- apparently they went to classes. The classes used a language
8 that they -- is perfectly well understood. So what difference did it
9 make that it was not in "Croatian"? Was this just a made-up issue?
10 A. One has to read what these people say in the text. They say a
11 year was lost because they were -- it was intentionally made impossible
12 for them to attend classes in their mother tongue, Croatian. The Muslims
13 in Kakanj or Vares were asking of these children who spoke the pure
14 Croatian language at home to suddenly have imposed on them a language
15 which we in Croatia
16 a long time considered to represent Serbisation of the Croatian language,
17 which got on our nerves both in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in Croatia. And
18 it still does, because they used to talk about the Serbo-Croatian
19 language which does not exist. There is the Serbian language and the
20 Croatian language.
21 In Bosnia
22 influence the Serbian language and other areas which are more under the
23 influence of the Croatian language and that's where the Croatians and the
24 Muslims mostly live.
25 Q. All right. Well, let's move forward, and for better or worse I
1 think that's as much time we can spend on that topic unless the Judges
2 have questions.
3 Sir, you've mentioned I think perhaps more than once in the
4 course of your testimony that the Croatian border, that is the border
5 between Croatia
6 during the -- during the war, and again let's say 1992, 1994. But you've
7 also -- let me just tell you, sir, you've also indicated on a number of
8 occasions that various paperwork, transit visa, permits, approval,
9 permission, some sort of documentation was required or the border police
10 or what have you would not allow people to come across the border. Is
11 that correct?
12 A. Both are correct. It's correct that when the refugees were
13 crossing the official border crossings between the Republic of
14 Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia
15 other routes where there was no control of the border, and they did, then
16 they would arrive without being stopped by anyone and find themselves in
18 Q. Very well. All right. We all understand that in every country
19 people can enter illegal little not going through regulated check-points
20 but if a person were to enter Croatia
21 an established custom point or what he would call it, an immigration
22 point, they would require some sort of paperwork to cross the border; is
23 that correct?
24 A. Yes, yes. I would say -- well, I would not say they would have
25 to have paperwork but that they should have had paperwork, if you
1 understand me.
2 Q. All right. Just a couple of other questions. I'm just trying to
3 touch on a few things before we move into some specific topics.
4 Mr. Karnavas, I believe, showed you document -- I don't think you
5 necessarily need to look at it. If you want to I certainly won't prevent
6 you, but it was 1D 02634, which was a document about the steering
7 committee of the ODPR for Croatia
8 that, sir, is it correct, that, at least as far as I could tell, there
9 was -- was there any Muslim member on that steering committee or were
10 there any Islamic charities or humanitarian organisations who were
11 represented on the steering committee?
12 A. In that committee, Mr. Scott, there was no one of the Muslim
13 faith, because in Croatia
14 I think they amount to 1 or 1.5 per cent of the population. But there
15 were very good relations between the ODPR and Merhamet in Zagreb
16 there were frequent meetings between Aganovic, who was the head of that
17 Merhamet office, or was legally responsible for that office. We met very
18 often both in Merhamet and in my own office, especially in relation to
19 humanitarian convoys and humanitarian aid for Muslims. We were on very
20 good terms.
21 Q. And in connection with the financing of these efforts, and let me
22 say that no one -- well, I won't speak for everyone in the courtroom, of
23 course, I don't question, I never have questioned, that the Republic of
25 humanitarian issues, but just so the record is clear, based on the
1 information again that I was provided in connection with your evidence,
2 can you confirm for us for the purposes of the trial record that the
3 establishment of the Croatian refugee centres, and by that I mean centres
4 that were operated in the Republic of Croatia
5 government, were paid approximately 80 per cent funded -- funded, if you
6 will, 80 per cent by the Croatian government with the rest coming either
7 from the UN or the -- well, what we would now call the EU; is that
9 A. That's correct.
10 Q. Touching on Ms. Turkovic, she came up a number of times. Again,
11 and my understanding, sir, is that you met with Ms. Turkovic on a number
12 of occasions. She would come and visit your office or visit you in your
13 office. You had good relations with her. When there were problems she
14 raised them with you. She may have on occasion had problems with local
15 centres when those centres did not follow your instructions. Is that a
16 correct statement?
17 A. Yes, that's correct.
18 Q. Can you recall and provide to the Judges any information about
19 instances where people in the local centres did not follow your
20 instructions? Your instruction might be to do A, but the people out
21 there on the ground, so to speak, were not doing what you told them to
22 do. Can you give us some examples of that?
23 A. An example of that, Mr. Scott, might be the revocation of refugee
24 status, for example. Although instructions were sent out from the office
25 to everyone, evidently not everyone read them through with the same care.
1 There was an overall decision to revoke the status, but there were
2 certain conditions under which the status would not be revoked but would,
3 rather, be extended. I may not need to repeat this, but it concerned
4 people's whose house had been destroyed, who were ill, who had children
5 in school, or who lived in areas where there was still tension.
6 Q. If I can paraphrase another witness that the Chamber will recall,
7 is it fair to say, sir, that it's one thing to give directions and
8 another thing to have them carried out.
9 A. That's correct, which is why we decided that these instructions
10 had to be respected. And we had a meeting with Ms. Turkovic and Krajsek
11 and Ms. Hratokovic [phoen] and Darinko Tadic and Martin Raguz, because
12 when the status was revoked, Mr. Prlic also complained about this as did
13 the Bosnian-Herzegovinian embassy. Everyone from his own standpoint, of
14 course. Mr. Prlic was unable to receive large numbers of people who
15 would be welfare cases, and evidently the Bosnian embassy had its reasons
16 also. Their problem was where to -- where to receive the Muslims, where
17 to accommodate them. So they were in a more sensitive situation.
18 Q. Sir, you raised again Mr. Prlic. Now, is this the same -- is
19 this the same one conversation you referred to earlier, or are you now
20 telling us about another conversation with Dr. Prlic about refugees?
21 A. Mr. Scott, it's not a conversation. It's a document, a letter
22 sent by Mr. Prlic to the government of the Republic of Croatia
23 prime minister, that is, and then the prime minister forwarded the letter
24 to me for my information. He probably also copied it to the office. I'm
25 not sure.
1 Q. All right. Thank you for that. Sir, in looking at your report,
2 the document that we were provided which is 1D 02921, titled "My Work at
3 the Office for Displaced Persons and Refugees," just a couple of
4 questions on that.
5 You have an entry for the 13th of November, and I'll have to rely
6 on everyone to proceed chronologically through the document, but if you
7 can find your entry for the 13th of November, 1992. You make reference
8 to travelling to Belgrade
9 Yugoslav authorities. President Granic was there and some other
10 ministers." I wonder if you might tell us what that secret meeting was
12 A. This was a secret meeting that was never spoken about in the
13 Croatian media. It was an attempt to solve some pressing issues which,
14 as regards my office, the ODPR, were refugees, people expelled from their
15 homes. There were others who were representing the economy or the
16 educational system. There were several of us who tried in this way to
17 mitigate the consequences of the aggression --
18 Q. [Previous translation continues] ...
19 A. -- and to make some shifts --
20 Q. Sorry. But why was it secret?
21 A. Well, if you about back to that time, it was war. There was
22 aggression, and to speak in public about it would have caused an uproar
23 both in Serbia
24 meeting would not have been possible at all. That's why it was secret.
25 If I recall, if I'm not wrong, the prime minister at the time was
1 a gentleman who had arrived from America
2 What was his name? Tadic? Oh, yes, Panic, Panic. That's right, Panic.
3 Q. All right. All right.
4 A. He spoke and lot. He talked a lot.
5 Q. We know a lot of people like that. If I can still stay in your
6 report, in early April -- my apology. In early February 1993, you refer
7 to the registration of refugees. It says: "In early February 1993,
8 together with UNHCR, we started registering all refugees from
9 Bosnia-Herzegovina in Croatia
10 And I just wonder sir, that might refresh your recollection to
11 the questions I put to you earlier this afternoon. Wasn't that census or
12 survey in 1993 in February? It's in your report.
13 A. If it says February, that's an error.
14 Q. All right. The report is in error. So you still --
15 A. Yes. It's an error in the report, yes, because the census of
16 1993 was in the months of April, May, and June.
17 Q. All right.
18 A. Those three months. Such errors are always possible when reports
19 are compiled, but we do have documents, precise documents on the census.
20 Q. And you say in your report: "UNHCR would cover the expenses of
21 registering as had been the case with the Croatian displaced persons the
22 year before. We had an excellent experience from that project." Is that
24 A. Yes, that's correct.
25 Q. And if I can jump all the way to February of 1994, you have an
1 entry which says for the 7th of February --
2 MR. KARNAVAS: Could we have page numbers? It's easier for us to
3 kind of track.
4 MR. SCOTT: Page 20. Page 20 at least in the English version.
5 I'm sorry, that's the best I can do.
6 Q. But proceeding chronologically through the document, if you can
7 go -- if you can find -- there's an entry, sir, in your report on the 7th
8 of February 1994 and it says: "I went to see Professor Mate Granic. He
9 advised me how to behave in Livno where I was going the following day to
10 the all-Croatian Assembly of BiH Croats."
11 First of all, do you recall what this meeting, this all-Croatian
12 Assembly in Livno was in February 1994?
13 A. This was a meeting of Croats of Bosnia-Herzegovina, a meeting
14 which did not have primarily political connotations but, rather, cultural
15 connotations. It was a meeting of all Croats together to consider
16 issues, and I can't recall in detail today what these issues were. I'm
17 sure it had to do with independence.
18 Q. But, sir, you are again a highly educated man. Now -- you had
19 now been in your post for some years. You certainly were very
20 experienced in what you were doing. How is it that it was necessary for
21 Mr. Granic to advise you how to behave at the meeting in Livno? What did
22 he tell you? What instructions did he give you about attending and
23 participating in that meeting?
24 A. He gave me advice. He said if I was asked to speak at that
25 meeting that I should speak on behalf of the ODPR in a way that would
1 avoid any political implications following from my speech.
2 Q. Now, February 1994 was right around the time of -- that the
3 Washington Agreement was beginning to get some traction. It was signed
4 later in March, I believe. Do you recall whether Mr. Granic gave you any
5 particular instructions on what your position should be at that time in
6 case the topic of the Washington Agreement came up at this meeting in
8 A. Excuse me, I didn't understand your question very well. In
9 connection with what, the Washington Agreement?
10 Q. I'll repeat it. Sorry if I wasn't clear. Around this time the
11 Chamber has heard extensive evidence that around early 1994 there began
12 to be discussions -- or continued to be discussions, lest there be any
13 objection, about something that came to be known as the Washington
14 Agreement, which I believe was signed in either late February or March of
15 1994. And I just wondered do you recall any of Dr. Granic's instructions
16 to you touched upon the Washington Agreement, how that should be
17 presented or what stance you should take about that?
18 A. No. No, sir.
19 Q. All right. Now, moving to the specific questions about refugees
20 in Croatia
21 understand, sir, and there's already been evidence in the case that in --
22 on or about the 13th of July, 1992, there was a decision by the Croatian
23 government or an announcement not to accept any more refugees from Bosnia
24 and Herzegovina
25 you recall that?
1 A. Yes, I do recall that, but that was more a cry for help to third
2 countries rather than a threat.
3 Q. And do you recall how long that situation continued; that is, for
4 how long did Croatia
5 reception of refugees by Croatia
6 so, can you give us the dates?
7 A. Croatia
8 that. What you say the government decided, I don't remember the decision
9 in detail or with precision, but I would interpret it now more as an
10 expression of distress, the distress in which the country found itself,
11 and a possible stopping of taking in refugees, but in fact the reception
12 of refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina never stopped. We continued taking
13 in refugees every day.
14 Q. All right. Well, we'll come back to that in the course of the
16 Let me just ask more general questions about refugees and
17 displaced persons. Would you agree, sir, that there was a difference --
18 other witnesses and evidence have told us that there was a difference
19 between someone who had -- and I'm now talking in a very technical sense,
20 refugee status, who had been given the legal status of refugee. That had
21 significance as opposed to someone who did not have refugee status; is
22 that correct?
23 A. The difference between a person who had refugee status and a
24 person who was not a refugee either because they were not a refugee de
25 facto and didn't need the refugee status because they were well
1 accommodated and didn't want to be socially branded as a refugee or
2 perhaps simply did not wish to have that status for reasons of their own,
3 that was the only difference, but everyone who did have the status of a
4 refugee or displaced persons had all the rights they were entitled to,
5 and they were all protected.
6 May I explain that according to our censuses, about 6 per cent of
7 the persons who had arrived from Bosnia-Herzegovina had not requested
8 refugee status. These were intellectuals, people who were well off,
9 people who had houses in Croatia
10 They didn't ask for those and there were about 6 per cent of those.
11 Q. Very well. But there was an entire legal system, if you will,
12 sir, there were laws, statutes, legislation, there was a bureaucracy to
13 deal with the granting of refugee status, and you either -- at one point
14 in time you either had it -- you either had it under the law or you
15 didn't have it. And if you had refugee status under the law, that gave
16 rise to certain rights that you did not have if you did not have that
17 legal status; correct?
18 A. That is correct, but the reason these people didn't have that
19 status was that they simply didn't need to be assisted. They didn't need
20 the kind of care that refugee status would provide them with.
21 Q. Sir, I'm not talking -- I don't know exactly what you're
22 referring to, but I'm not talking about this 6 per cent. I'm -- you're
23 saying that the only people -- are you telling the Chamber that the only
24 people who didn't get refugee status in Croatia, the only people who
25 didn't get it are the ones who didn't ask for it?
1 MR. KARNAVAS: Your Honour, that's not what he stated, and I
2 suggest that perhaps Mr. Scott go back and rephrase his questions,
3 because I think now we're getting into some murky areas.
4 MR. SCOTT: I --
5 MR. KARNAVAS: I believe what Mr. Scott wishes to get from the
6 witness is the benefits that one enjoyed being a refugee versus somebody
7 who was not a refugee or was not a declared refugee, what sort of
8 benefits or lack thereof. I think that's what he's trying to get at. So
9 perhaps he could rephrase the questions, but I think now he's putting
10 words into the witness's mouth.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Mr. Scott, please
12 try to reformulate the question since it seems to raise a problem. I do
13 not share that point of view. If there's a problem, let's try to solve
15 MR. SCOTT: Nor do I, Your Honour, so I won't use my time to
16 pursue it further. The witness seems to understand, and I think everyone
17 in the courtroom has understood perhaps.
18 Q. Let me move on to a specific law. If I can ask you to look,
19 please, at 1D 02588. It will be in one of the Defence binders. First
20 binder I'm told.
21 Actually, we're probably all spending more time finding the
22 document than we really need, but just so everyone knows what we're
23 talking about, that is decree dated the 27th of October, 1992, which
24 Mr. Karnavas showed you, I believe, and you've indicated, I believe, that
25 this -- you consider this to be the law that your agency was applying,
1 following, in connection with displaced persons and refugees; correct?
2 A. Correct.
3 Q. And that is your understanding despite the fact that the decree
4 on its face only applies to internally displaced persons in Croatia
5 says nothing about persons coming from outside Croatia? You agree that
6 that's what the Statute says on its face? It says nothing about people
7 coming from outside.
8 A. I did not find an article that would directly mention refugees
9 from Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, the definition of a refugee
10 implies everybody who was expelled from Bosnia and Herzegovina and
11 arrived in Croatia
12 the person who had been expelled from a neighbouring state and arrived in
15 Q. I apologise for -- I'd rather not have to cut you off. I'm not
16 trying to be rude, but you say that, sir, but you're saying that's your
17 interpretation, but that's not what the law says. That's not -- there's
18 no language, I'll represent to you -- everyone in the courtroom can read
19 it ten times. That's not what the statute says -- the decree says. Now,
20 let me ask you to go next to 1D 02368 -- excuse me my apology, 1D 02638.
21 It's either, I'm told, in the second or third binder.
22 And once again I'm not really going to go through the details of
23 the statute or the decision or the law, but this is a law on the status
24 of displaced persons and refugees which we understand went into effect
25 sometime around the 18th of October, 1993, and we can see on the page or
1 in the document, and it's my understanding, sir, that it's your position
2 or it's the position of the ODPR Croatia that this again -- when this law
3 went into effect that this was the law that your agency followed and
4 applied in connection with displaced persons and refugees; is that
6 A. Correct, but we in the office, in keeping with the 1951 Geneva
7 Conventions, regarded as refugees all those persons who arrived from a
8 different state of the former Yugoslavia
9 of Croatia
10 time to study it, this was still the practice of our office and the
11 practice was clear. We followed that practice -- practice in our work,
12 and this was the practice that the government had to adopt in adopting my
13 reports, and my reports contained the clear definitions of displaced
14 person as a person who was displaced from their place of origin in
16 because they were expelled from there and was received by the Republic of
18 any of my reports saying that I was doing something contrary to the
19 decision or to the law for that matter.
20 Q. Well, sir, I'm not being critical of you. Please don't -- please
21 don't misunderstand. I'm not being critical of what you did. I'm just
22 trying to --
23 A. I absolutely understand I'm just trying to clarify things and
24 tell you how we worked, in any case you know that legislation is never
25 perfect, and especially when it's applied in war situations when we had
1 other things on our minds.
2 Q. I understand that, sir. But the point -- the only point for now,
3 and I want just to confirm that is the law in fact that you considered to
4 apply, but once again, and I think that everyone in the courtroom has
5 already seen that we've gone over this with another -- at least one other
6 witness. The statute on its face, the words of the law are only limited
7 to persons within the Republic of Croatia
8 flee abroad but from the Republic of Croatia
9 people coming into the Republic of Croatia
10 country. So there again -- what you've told us there's an interpretation
11 that was put on the statute according to you but even though that's not
12 what the statute says on its face; correct?
13 A. May I be even more specific? I worked with people, not with
14 papers. I worked with people under certain circumstances and in certain
15 situations, and those situations were such that people were either
16 displaced within Croatia
17 and Herzegovina
18 can tell you that we had -- we established a practice that was quite
19 clear and that reflected in all of our documents and in all of our
20 reports. If the law was different, then I was governed by
21 humanitarianism, bearing in mind that I was dealing with people rather
22 than with papers, laws, and documents.
23 Q. All right. Now, if I could ask you to turn next to 4D 01232,
24 which is the -- I think it's a document that Ms. Alaburic has shown to
25 you. It's the law on the movement and residence of foreigners.
1 4D 01232. And -- I understand that there is a loose hard copy of this
2 document because there's been at least a partial translation of the
3 various -- some the various relevant articles.
4 Sir, this is a law which you've seen before, shown to you and
5 discussed previously, but this is indeed a law that appears on its face
6 to, in fact, apply to refugees coming from outside the Republic of
8 consider this law applied; is that right?
9 A. That's right, yes.
10 Q. So what we have here is we have two laws, the 1992 law and the
11 1993 law, who don't apply on their face but you say apply. And then we
12 have another law, the law on foreigners, who does apply on its face but
13 you say it doesn't apply. Now why -- can you tell us, can you help the
14 Judges why that is the case? What explains this situation? Why doesn't
15 the law on foreigners apply? By its terms it would appear to.
16 A. I've already said that once Yugoslavia disappeared a new
17 situation was put in place. When Croatia
18 became independent states, new circumstances arose for our Ministry of
19 the Interior, and they had to adopt a certain behaviour towards
20 foreigners who arrived from different countries, Slovenia, Hungary
22 It is my impression that this is a decision that applied to those
23 citizens. On the other hand, there was a separate law that applied to
24 the movement of refugees, because refugees could not have been
25 encompassed within a law --
1 Q. Let me stop you there for a moment. We have the law, for
2 example, the second law, the law from 1993, and you've told us for some
3 days now, and Dr. Zoric told us also for some days, that by -- by the
4 middle of 1993 there was a huge refugee problem in Croatia, and clearly
5 it must have been something considered by the Croatian parliament, and --
6 is the Chamber to believe that the legislators in Croatia didn't know how
7 to write a law that would apply to people coming into Croatia from
8 outside the country? They made exactly the same mistake not once but
9 twice in writing legislation to deal with this issue?
10 A. I can't answer your question, because at the time I did not deal
11 with these documents. The ODPR dealt with looking after refugees and
12 displaced persons rather than with documents about the movement of
13 foreigners. In any case, in our office for refugees and displaced
14 persons we had a legal department as well.
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, precisely I was going
16 to put this question to you since the status of refugees is a very
17 complex legal issue. I was going to ask you the question if -- precisely
18 this, if within your office you had somebody who was able to bring up the
20 somebody show you various texts of internal law that could be applied to
21 foreigners and to refugees, and that service or that department or that
22 person, were they able to bring you a legal expertise in order to help
23 you to head this office?
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, in the ODPR there was
25 a legal service or a legal department, and this legal service dealt with
1 all those various documents. At the beginning of our work in the office
2 we had joint meetings where we analysed things, particularly the Geneva
3 Conventions and laws that concerned refugees and displaced persons.
4 This was a time, and I'm particularly referring to the year 1992,
5 when we actually learned on the job. We learned the definitions of
6 displaced persons, refugees. There were many people in Zagreb
7 not make a distinction. We learned on the job. We even invited a lawyer
8 from UNHCR. I can't remember the gentleman's name. I believe it was
9 either Heinemann or somebody else and this gentleman delivered a lecture
10 on the Geneva Conventions and what it says about looking after refugees.
11 In other words, we embarked on a learning process on how to deal with the
12 issue. And once when we managed to muster the international law we
13 passed the knowledge on to others, when we were able to fully apply these
14 laws that the Republic of Croatia
15 and adopted all of them by text that we already saw earlier today. All
16 these laws, particularly those that concerned DPs and refugees, could be
17 found in our office and they were the foundation of our work.
18 One thing is sure. Some things arose from the law and from the
19 decree, and even more things arose from -- from our everyday, day-to-day
20 contact with the real situation, with the problems that arose day in and
21 day out. And this was another source of learning for us.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Fine. I'm being told by the
23 registrar that we need to break. We'll break for 20 minutes. The
24 Prosecutor has used one hour and 37 minutes so far.
25 --- Recess taken at 5.42 p.m.
1 --- On resuming at 6.04 p.m.
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The hearing is resumed.
3 MR. SCOTT:
4 Q. Sir, if you -- if you still have 4D -- the law on foreigners,
5 4D 01232 available to you. Do you still have it there?
6 A. No. I have 233 though. Oh, yes, I do. 232. I have it, yes.
7 Q. Very well. Sir, just one final question on this. A final
8 question on this topic before moving to some other exhibits, but let me
9 ask you to go to Article 31 of the law on foreigners. I'm abbreviating
10 that, but movement and residence of foreigners. If you go to Article 31,
11 it says that, if you have that, it says: "A foreigner who has left the
12 country whose citizen he is or in which he was permanently residing as a
13 stateless person in order to avoid persecution for his political views or
14 national origin, racial or religious affiliation, may be awarded the
15 status after refugee."
16 And based on discussions we've had over the past hour or so, sir,
17 given that the status of the legislation in applying a law that doesn't
18 apply on its face, that does not apply on its face, and not applying
19 another law that appears to apply on its face, was there a studied effort
20 by your agency and the Croatian government not to apply the law on
21 foreigners because to do so would recognise that these people were
22 religious, racial, or political persecuted persons?
23 A. Well, this Article 31 in one way or another also applies to
24 refugees that we worked with, although originally it applies to
25 foreigners who were persecuted in their own countries for their
1 political, racial, or religious affiliations. In our situation, however,
2 when this comes to the ODPR, this law could have only been a framework
3 law in a certain sense, but it was not a law on which our work could have
4 been based, on which the recognition of the refugee status would be
5 granted to persons who had fled from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
6 Q. Sir, excuse me. Why? You say this was not a law on which our
7 work could have been based." It's a law. It's a law in the Republic of
9 authorities, the Sabor or whoever, and it's a law. It's on the books.
10 Your agency, your legal duty, your obligation is to enforce Croatian law.
11 Now, when you say, "This was not law that we could enforce," why not? Or
12 did your agency pick and choose which Croatian law to apply and those you
13 wanted to apply and the ones you didn't want to apply?
14 A. Well, I may have been misunderstood. I said that this law was
15 broader and that it concerned the movement and stay of foreigners in the
16 Republic of Croatia
17 Interior. It was enforced by them, and it was not in conflict with the
18 law and the decree that the ODPR applied, and that office primarily
19 received recognised refugee status and cared for refugees. In any case,
20 this law was primarily applied by the Ministry of the Interior. It did
21 not contradict what we were doing, but it was primarily applied by the
22 Ministry of the Interior.
23 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, if I may. I know from
24 experience where this is going. I know -- I know it primarily because
25 Dr. Rebic is not a legal expert as we know from his CV, and I really
1 don't know what is the foundation of the all the Prosecutor's questions,
2 but what I'm saying is that we have wasted over 15 minutes after the
3 Prosecution's question on page 72 when he first arrived at the decree on
4 refugees, which is 1D 02638.
5 In the first answer provided by the witness, which is on record
6 on page 72, line 8, the witness started his answer in the following way,
7 and I have to quote: "[In English] Correct. That we in the office in
8 keeping with the 1951 Geneva Conventions regarding -- regarded as
9 refugees all those persons who arrived from different state," et cetera,
10 et cetera. And then the witness provided additional understanding of the
11 law. And then the questions, answers, questions, answers. The
12 Prosecution obviously disregard the fact that by this answer, maybe not
13 put as a lawyer would do, but this sentence clearly shows for a person
14 who is like in this, that it was implementation of international
16 Now, I can talk about qualified lawyer and knowing the domestic
17 law. The Croatian constitution at that time before that time and today
18 as many constitutions in Europe
19 says that international conventions are obligatory. They should be
20 implemented directly regardless of the domestic law. And the witness,
21 not being lawyer, is having obviously some problem to explain us. But he
22 did mention, and by the way, what is more important particularly having
23 in mind the position of this witness, is de facto, not de jure because
24 he's not a lawyer, de facto, and de facto situation he told us about
25 cooperation with UNHCR, UNHCR sitting in his own office, UNHCR giving him
1 advice so obviously --
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes. I get the point. I get
3 the point.
4 Witness, when Mr. Scott asked you an excellent question, I
5 wondered if you understood the meaning of that question, and Mr. Kovacic
6 realised the same thing. Mr. Scott also asked you a number of questions
7 about the same things.
8 You know without being a legal expert that there is a Geneva
9 Convention of 1951, and the former Yugoslavia
10 specific references to the Geneva Conventions in the Civil Code and the
11 Penal Code of the former Yugoslavia
12 state it adopted the entire corpus of international law and legislation.
13 That's one thing.
14 So first you have the domestic laws, the Croatian laws, including
15 the law that Mr. Scott showed you. Article 1 of this law is extremely
16 similar to what we find in the Geneva Convention from 1951. It is stated
17 in that convention that someone may be granted refugee status if he is
18 persecuted for political, racial reasons. And Mr. Scott is telling you
19 quite rightly that this law applies to the office, to the ODPR. It
20 applies to everyone in Croatia
21 And listening to all this I wondered if you had grasped the meaning of
22 the question.
23 Now that you've heard my explanation, do you get the meaning of
24 the question that Mr. Scott put to you?
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Although I'm not a lawyer, I
1 understand what all of you are talking about, but this is precisely how I
2 answered. I replied that the law on movement and residence of foreigners
3 in the Republic of Croatia
4 contrary. The article that was quoted, and I believe it was Article 31,
5 was practised in our office as well. But on top of that, our office
6 abided by the Geneva Conventions on looking after refugees and
7 recognising the refugee status for all the persons arriving from a
8 neighbouring country. And I've already told you that that's why we
9 learned about the Geneva Conventions, that we had seminars together with
10 UNHCR, that we had a legal office in our office which was very familiar
11 with all these laws and conventions, and when we had our joint meetings
12 it was present to brief us about any legal problems that we might have
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Fine. I believe I understand
15 what you're saying. Not only did you apply the Geneva Conventions at the
16 office, but you also stated that on top of that you took care of these
18 If I understand correctly, not only did your office grant refugee
19 status to a number of individuals, but your office also provided
20 material, health-related assistance, to all these people who arrived in
21 the country. Is that the way I should interpret your answer?
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] That's how my answer should be
23 understood. And let me just clarify. If these refugees had arrived in
25 office would not have been charged with them.
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Fine. I understand what you
2 are telling us.
3 Mr. Scott, you have the floor. We've tried to shed some light on
4 this matter.
5 MR. SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. President. I'm -- I'm finished with
6 the topic. I think the record will speak for itself at this point. Just
7 to respond very briefing to Mr. Kovacic.
8 First off, I didn't show the witness a single document that
9 wasn't shown to him by the Defence. I didn't raise it. I didn't --
10 these are all documents the Defence put to the witness, so I simply came
11 back across on cross-examination to the same exhibits.
12 We can all agree, of course, that Mr. -- Dr. Rebic is not a
13 lawyer, but he's, again, a highly educated man who from 1991 to 1996 was
14 the head of an agency whose very job was to apply Croatian law in
15 reference -- and international law, and international law, to the subject
16 of refugees and displaced persons. So I give him the benefit of the
17 doubt that he knew -- knew that what -- what his job was and the laws
18 that did apply, including all the laws on the books of Croatia, including
19 the ones that applied on their face as opposed to the ones which didn't.
20 Q. Now, sir, if I can direct your attention to P 10406. P 10406.
21 And that should be in the Prosecution's exhibits, I believe. P 10 -- I
22 apologise if I misspoke. P 10406. All right. Well, it's in my -- if we
23 could have it on -- if we could possibly have it on e-court, please.
24 Sir, in the interest of time if you will --
25 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Maybe I can be mistaken, but I
1 don't think so. It is not a problem we don't have it in the binder, the
2 problem is it is not on the chart. So it was not planned.
3 MR. SCOTT:
4 Q. Well, sir, if you can look on the screen and assist us. This is
5 a -- this is a press article dated the 13th of July, 1992, and it goes
6 back to topic that we touched on briefly earlier this afternoon, and that
7 is that as of the 13th of July, 1992, and I'll just read the first
8 sentence of the article: "Croatia
9 accept any more refugees from war-torn Bosnia-Herzegovina."
10 And what can you tell us about that decision -- how that decision
11 was made? And I will just indicate to you that at the top of the second
12 page, at least in the English version, Mr. Zoric is quoted in this regard
13 about this: "It is unbearable. Its not a question of goodwill. We
14 don't have anywhere to put these people."
15 MR. KARNAVAS: Your Honour, I believe it's been asked and
16 answered. We already covered this ground.
17 MR. SCOTT: With who?
18 MR. KARNAVAS: Earlier, earlier today. Earlier today he was
19 asked about the decision. He commented. He commented the reason, and he
20 indicated that this was a plea but that the borders were never closed.
21 That was during the first session.
22 Now, we can go over it again, but I just want to make sure that
23 the Trial Chamber understands that this was asked and answered. Not this
24 particular document but the essence of it.
25 MR. SCOTT: Well, that's the point, Your Honour. I'm coming back
1 to a particular document on point.
2 Q. Sir, what more can you tell us looking at this document about the
3 decision on the 13th of July, 1992, not to accept any more refugees from
5 A. Mr. Scott, I really can't remember that the Republic of Croatia
6 was ever in a situation to decide to close its borders with Bosnia
8 country. I did mention that that must have been a statement --
9 Q. I didn't say whether you wanted to or whether Croatia wanted to
10 or not. The motivation is a separate issue at the moment. We have an
11 article here and we have other testimony in the case that indeed there
12 was a time when Croatia
13 Bosnia-Herzegovina. Now, can you tell us more about that -- did you make
14 that decision? Was that a decision that you made, or who in the
15 government made that decision?
16 MR. KARNAVAS: Again, I point to the earlier testimony of the
17 gentleman. He indicated that the border was never closed, that they
18 never refused refugees. He indicated that clearly in relation to this
19 particular decision. Now he's being pointed -- he's being pointed an
21 MR. SCOTT: Yes I am. I'm challenging the witness, Your Honour.
22 I don't have to accept his first answer. I can challenge the witness.
23 This is cross-examination. That's what cross-examination is about. I
24 put documents in front of him. I have other documents to put in front of
1 MR. KARNAVAS: Yes, but we have a press clipping. That's the
2 point. The press clipping is hearsay first of all. We don't have access
3 to this particular individual. We don't know what this individual had in
4 mind when he wrote this.
5 MR. SCOTT: Your Honour, press clippings have been coming into
6 for the last two years. Now, are we changing the rules here now, again?
7 MR. KARNAVAS: So am I understanding that what Mr. Scott is
8 doing, he's putting his case to the witness that the witness indeed is a
9 liar? Is that what Mr. Scott is doing because the answer has been
10 answered -- the question has been answered earlier.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Karnavas, please stop
12 conducting legal or judicial guerrilla here in this courtroom. We have a
13 press statement coming from Reuters, a very famous agency that does not
14 just publish any -- anything.
15 This relates to a statement made by the senior secretary of the
16 office, and Mr. Zoric mentions financial problems. It might be relevant
17 to find out why he made that statement. This will not cause any
18 prejudice to your case. Furthermore, this is taking place in Croatia
19 not in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
20 Mr. Scott, please proceed if you believe that we should expand
21 some portion of -- a portion of this document.
22 MR. SCOTT: Thank you, Your Honour.
23 Q. Well, let me -- let me see if I can move us forward and then
24 maybe put additional questions to you, but in light of the comments that
25 have been made, if I can direct your attention back to 1D 02008, the
1 first exhibit we looked at this afternoon in the Prosecution's
2 cross-examination. 1D 02008. Binder 1 of the Defence documents. I
3 don't have them. I don't have -- my documents aren't organised in the
4 same way as the Defence.
5 Do you have it now, sir? Dr. Rebic?
6 A. The second, please.
7 Q. If I can ask you to look on the screen. This is the document
8 that we looked at. This is the record -- the letter that Mr. Prlic had
9 sent to Dr. Granic about their meeting, the letter dated the 21st of
10 November, 1992, which we've already looked at. And if I can direct your
11 attention to the text of the enclosure, item number 1, item number 1 and
12 mindful that this is written in November 1992: "In connection with
13 refugees, it was stressed that Croatia
14 social, or material capabilities to receive a new wave of refugees from
15 Bosnia and Herzegovina that is expected. The only possibility is transit
16 to other countries."
17 Now, do you see that?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. And is that an accurate statement as of November 1992?
20 A. It is an accurate statement. The Republic of Croatia
21 had been exhausted. It did not have the physical, social, and material
22 capabilities to receive a new wave of refugees. However, despite all
23 that, we still received them because we made do as best as we could. I
24 mentioned on several occasions that we asked from the Ministry of Defence
25 to provide us with new capabilities that he had used to belong to the
1 JNA. That's where we accommodated refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina
2 Your Honours, there's one thing when is somebody on behalf of the
3 Republic of Croatia
4 and tell them about physical incapabilities of accommodating refugees
5 from Bosnia-Herzegovina, and it's a totally different thing that de facto
6 we never turned down refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina when they
7 crossed the Croatian border and arrived in Croatia.
8 I don't remember a single event in which the ODPR turned down a
9 refugee who came for help from the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina
10 simply cannot remember any such event. And this is something that I
11 understand as a cry out to the general public to sense -- to raise their
12 awareness and to try and look to Bosnia and Herzegovina and see whether
13 they themselves could deal with the problem of refugees.
14 Q. Taking for purposes of argument that additional persons were
15 physically allowed into Croatia
16 moment, we can debate that later, but assuming that was the case, was it
17 nonetheless the position of the Croatian government if those people did
18 come in after the 13th of July, 1992, they were not being given refugee
20 They may have been physically there and they may have been good
21 people who tried to assist them, but they were not given legal refugee
22 status after the 13th of July, 1992. Now, is that what you're saying?
23 Is that what this decision was saying?
24 A. In my view, no. According to the talks in Grude, if I understand
25 you correctly, on the 20th of November, 1992, these were talks in which
1 Granic pointed out the impossibility or the difficulties --
2 Q. Sorry, I'm going to ask you now to go 1D 02608. It's in the
3 Prosecution bundle I'm told. 1D 02608.
4 Sorry, it's in the Defence exhibits.
5 MR. SCOTT: Your Honour, I'm sorry. We're in the same situation
6 as everybody else, I'm afraid. There are so many binders.
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] "One time financial assistance"?
8 MR. SCOTT:
9 Q. Yes. If I can ask you please to look to paragraph numbered 1 of
10 your letter dated the -- or report or what have you dated 29th of
11 October, 1992. In number one: "To strictly obey the stipulations of the
12 Government of the Republic of Croatia
13 non-approving the refugee status to those refugees who have arrived to
16 Now, you're writing this document some months later on the 29th
17 of October, 1992. You're nonetheless referring to 13th of July, 1992, as
18 the -- as a date having some significance. So why are you referring --
19 why in October 1992 are you referring back to -- why is it significant
20 whether they have arrived before 13 July 1992?
21 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, by your leave I think
22 there is a mistranslation of this document, because in the Croatian text
23 it speaks of refugees who arrived in Croatia after the 13th of July,
24 1992, and it says in the translation "before the 13th of July, 1992
25 MR. SCOTT: Your Honour, if our -- I'm sorry. I apologise. If
1 our interpreters can assist us, I'll certainly be -- I will be governed
2 by that.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. So, Ms. Alaburic,
4 the best way to proceed is that you read that paragraph in your own
5 language, paragraph 1, and the interpreters will be able to tell us if it
6 was after or before. Go ahead, please.
7 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] The sentence begins, I quote: "We
8 asked the regional offices to request all centres for social work to:
9 "1. To strictly obey the stipulations of the government of the
10 Republic of Croatia
11 status to those refugees who arrived in Croatia after the 13th of July,
12 1992. There have been some irregularities, that is."
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. So this text should
14 read after and not before.
15 MR. SCOTT: Your Honour, I fully accept that, and I -- just for
16 the record, this is a Defence exhibit and apparently a translation is in
17 error, but really doesn't in fact -- but doesn't dramatically change my
19 Q. You still refer, sir, to a decision on the 13th of July 1992,
20 whether having a significance, maybe it was significant because something
21 happened before that date or it was significant because something
22 happened after that date, but you still tie this to the July 13, 1992.
23 Why was that?
24 A. Today after all this time I cannot recall the significance of the
25 13th of July. However, I see from this document, which I believe I
1 signed, although I don't see my signature here, and it has to do with a
2 one-time financial assistance to hosts of refugees from
3 Bosnia-Herzegovina. In this document, the regional offices are asked to
4 deliver to the office a list of all the hosts and the number of
5 Bosnian-Herzegovinian refugees they are taking in so that we can provide
6 them with one-time financial assistance of a certain sum per person, and
7 also requests of the families taking in refugees and refugees asking for
8 one-time financial assistance should be given this assistance only if
9 they show the requisite documents.
10 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... I'd like to move forward
11 unless the Chamber has --
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes. Mr. Scott, before you
13 move on to something else, I once again read paragraph 1, and I also
14 wondered, just like yourself, about the same things, but if you read
15 paragraph 1, one is under the impression that the witness sends an order
16 to regional offices regarding this issue, and he asks them to strictly
17 obey the stipulations or orders issued by the government of the Republic
18 of Croatia
19 those refugees who have arrived after the 13th of July.
20 So when one reads this sentence, one is under the impression that
21 on behalf of the government of the Republic of Croatia
22 total refusal with regard to the people who arrived after the 13th of
23 July, because there is this issue of approving or non-approving the
24 refugee status. In other words, both options seem to exist.
25 So, Witness, is this how we should interpret this paragraph,
1 because this seems to stem from your own office.
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I agree with you.
3 That is how it should be interpreted, because at that time there were
4 false cards showing refugee status, just as there were forged documents
5 testifying to displaced person status. That's why I'm saying that the
6 provisions should be respected as to who had the right and who did not
7 have the right to that status, because this has to do with financial
8 assistance which is not small.
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, but the end of the
10 sentence seems to indicate that you discovered that there were some false
11 refugees, in brackets, and that's why you're telling regional centres
12 there have been some irregularities, but you've told us already, and we'd
13 just like you to confirm.
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, that's correct.
15 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I would like to -- to continue on this issue.
16 If we look at the sentence, I think that it is difficult not to
17 understand it in the way that it makes a distinction of refugees
18 arriving. It does not say from where, but after 13 of July, obviously
19 certain refugees fall to be approved and other fall not to be approved.
20 That is not the question of forged documents. I could -- it would be
21 difficult to understand it in that way. There must be a criterion then
22 by which is certain persons coming into the country are recognised as
23 refugees and others are not recognised.
24 Can you remember what the difference is, what the criterion is
25 and explain it to us?
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This was a situation when in
2 Herceg-Bosna many areas were absolutely safe for refugees, and they were
3 able to go back. However, there were quite a few cases where some
4 persons living with refugee cards, in spite of the fact that they were
5 able to go back and had partly been able to go back, I'll give you
6 specific examples because I remember these cases.
7 There were members of a family who resided in one of those towns,
8 Ljubuski, Capljina, or elsewhere, and they had relatives living at -- by
9 the seaside, and the government was quite strict there because those who
10 were really able to go back to those areas, and Herceg-Bosna is mentioned
11 here, these were Croats then, if they were able to abandon their refugee
12 status and return to their homes and not needlessly burden the budget of
13 the Republic of Croatia
14 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Yes, that's quite clear and also quite
15 plausible. Thank you.
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, I would still like to
17 clarify this question, because it could have important consequences. It
18 would seem that on the 13th of July, 1992, is something happened. Maybe
19 something happened, and what happened is maybe that the Croatian
20 government discovered that there are some refugees who had false
21 documents, who said that they were refugees but they were not refugees,
22 and from that moment on the Croatian government decided to take new
23 measures, and you yourself, you apply these measures, and these new
24 measures do not deal with refugees who have arrived prior to the month of
25 July 1992, the 13th of July, 1992, but it concerns only the people who
1 arrived after that date. And you gave your own instructions on the 29th
2 of October.
3 Now, this first paragraph is problematic. There are some --
4 there's irregularities, there's some abuse, but in the second paragraph
5 you ask your regional centres, regional offices, to send to your own
6 office lists with very clear information on families and so on and so
7 forth, because all of this, of course, has financial consequences.
8 Now, when we read the second paragraph, doesn't it say that the
9 way to eliminate these irregularities is by requesting precise
10 information on the refugees? I see, for instance, that they are
11 requested to give their names, their first names, their last names, et
12 cetera, et cetera, their addresses, et cetera, et cetera.
13 Now, tell us, please, doesn't the second paragraph help to
14 alleviate the irregularities that exist in the first paragraph?
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, that's one of the ways
16 in which this was done. It's one of the ways in which we attempted to
17 check, to monitor the refugees to see whether they had their refugee
18 status in a justified way or in an unjustified way, because there were
19 some instances. I'm referring to some instances where there were people
20 who were de facto already living in the liberated areas, but they had not
21 given back their refugee status. They continued using it in order to
22 spend part of their time at the seaside. That was the case in point.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Mr. Scott, please
25 Ms. Alaburic first.
1 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] [Previous translation continues]
2 ... but if I may say a sentence as a lawyer hailing from the country in
3 which this document was compiled. I only wish to draw the Chamber's
4 attention to the fact that in this document there is an appeal to the
5 regional offices to comply with existing regulations in order to avoid
6 irregularities being repeated. So there is no new decision or new
7 regulation. There is only insistence on compliance with already existing
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] That's correct.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Mr. Scott, please
12 MR. SCOTT: Thank you, Your Honour.
13 Q. Sir, if we could next go to P 10407, which is in the Prosecution
14 binder, I believe. 10407.
15 If you have that, sir -- sorry to the interpreters for being so
16 far away from the microphone.
17 Sir, if you have that, this is a document coming from your
18 agency, dated the 9th of April, 1993. So again now after November some
19 additional, I don't know, five months, something like that, and
20 concerning entry and temporary residence for the following persons, and
21 toward the end of the letter in English on the second page, the top of
22 the second page, there it says: "Pursuant to the decision of the
23 government of the Republic of Croatia
24 above-mentioned persons cannot request or be granted a refugee status in
25 the Republic of Croatia
1 So, sir, once again, some nine or ten months after July 1992,
2 you're still referring to this decision in July 1992 as a basis for these
3 persons not being granted refugee status.
4 Now, please tell us why these months later -- if it was a dead
5 letter, if it was a decision but it really didn't mean anything, it was
6 ignored, people came in any way, whatever, you seem to be suggesting that
7 well, there was something in July but it really didn't mean much, with
8 all due respect. It was nothing. But that date keeps coming up, and in
9 this letter that you wrote, or someone wrote over your name, on the 9th
10 of April, 1993, you cite this as the basis of the decision. "Pursuant to
11 the decision ... of the 13th of July, 1992, the above-mentioned persons
12 cannot request or be granted refugee status ..."
13 Now, please tell us why in April 1993 are you still referring to
14 the decision of 13 July 1992
15 A. Because, Mr. Scott, in that law, to the best of my recollection,
16 it said that persons requesting transit or passage through the Republic
17 of Croatia
18 granted refugee status. They could only be granted what they had
19 requested, and in this particular case Anja Puce and Ramiz Puce from
20 Bosnia-Herzegovina were travelling to a third country, and they were
21 asking for permission to enter the country and for temporary residence in
22 the Republic of Croatia
23 the Republic of Croatia
24 have been travelling to Germany
25 therefore issued them with this permission saying that they could transit
1 through Croatia
2 Republic of Croatia
3 was the person.
4 Q. We all have the document. We can read. You don't need to read
6 MR. KARNAVAS: Your Honours, I point to the place: It's Mostar.
7 And I point to the date: We're talking April 1993.
8 MR. SCOTT: So?
9 MR. KARNAVAS: Nothing was happening in Mostar that would make
10 these individuals refugees unless Mr. Scott knows that to be a fact.
11 MR. SCOTT: Totally beside the point.
12 MR. KARNAVAS: It's not totally beside the point.
13 MR. SCOTT:
14 Q. Totally beside the point. The point is, and Dr. Rebic on this
15 one I'm not going to cut you quite so much slack, perhaps. You say,
16 "Well, they didn't ask for it," and they got what they asked for. Sir,
17 the letter says the "above-mentioned persons cannot request or be
18 granted," so they couldn't request and even if they had requested it
19 couldn't be granted. That's what it says.
20 A. Yes, that's correct because the law of the 13th of July, 1992
21 referred to here. Based on that law those persons didn't want refugee
22 status they were travelling on. They were going to live with their
23 relatives perhaps. This clause is here in order to comply with the law
24 because otherwise someone might try to bypass the law or to find
25 loopholes in the law. I am saying that these were persons from Mostar
1 who were the mediation of Zlatko Fadljevic, were travelling to a third
2 country, and who had asked for permission to transit through the
3 territory of the Republic of Croatia
4 refugee status. Had these same persons said they wanted refugee status
5 through Fadljevic, they would have been granted it.
6 Q. I'm sorry that's not what the letter says. It says they cannot
7 ask for it and if they asked for it, it would not be granted.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Just a moment. Is there a
9 problem, Ms. Alaburic?
10 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I really don't know
11 if at this stage of cross-examination I may rise to my feet at all, but
12 as this document in its legal essence is identical to the document that I
13 based my cross-examination on, P 10048, and secondly because we know that
14 Dr. Rebic is not lawyer, I only wish to draw attention to the fact that
15 in the preamble to this document it's evident that these are persons to
16 whom the status of foreign nationals in the Republic of Croatia
17 granted. Their status is temporary residence which is one of the five
18 possible legal grounds for persons staying in the Republic of Croatia
19 One legal ground excludes all the others. Therefore, because they have
20 this status of temporary residence, these persons cannot be granted the
21 status of refugees. I think it will be easier for Their Honours to
22 follow the documents if we look at them -- if we look together at
23 documents of the same nature.
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you for your assistance.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, this is a couple.
1 They were born in 1936 and 1937 in Mostar. But let's suppose that these
2 people are Mexicans who would want to transit through Croatia to go to,
3 let's say, to Denmark
4 from Belgrade
5 about Mexicans. In order to stay temporarily in Croatia they would have
6 to have somebody, a sponsor, who would financially take care of them. In
7 order to cross the border you would have to give them your approval to
8 transit through your country and that would be the subject of the
9 document; is that right? And this type document, would it be applied to
10 all nationals?
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, because it was the Ministry of
12 the Interior that would be in charge of Mexicans. I mentioned Pakistan
13 for example, previously. When referring to Mostar in Bosnia and
15 they applied to the Ministry of the Interior they said to them, "You
16 should apply to the ODPR and they will solve your problem."
17 It may assist if I tell you that the ODPR was faster and quicker
18 and more expeditious in solving these applications for transit than the
19 Ministry of the Interior simply because these people came from
20 Bosnia-Herzegovina. I can give you plenty of examples of people calling
21 me from Belgrade
22 of Croatia
23 quicker and easier for them to get their documents through the ODPR than
24 through the Ministry of Interior. That was the situation. It was
25 wartime and there are specific circumstances in every war.
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Since I see that
2 some references are made to a file, because I imagine that some
3 references are made regarding family Puce, because we see some numbers
4 here, 010-04, et cetera, et cetera. So we only have one part of the
5 file, but maybe you had another document maybe that was a guarantee given
6 by a third country, a letter, for instance, telling you that these people
7 are only asking you to transit your country because they were going
8 somewhere else.
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, yes. It's absolutely
10 possible. And that's not the only such case. There were many such
11 cases, and for every one of them our office in its archives has full
12 documentation, all the documents needed.
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Yesterday we saw a
14 photograph of the office with all the binders, and I suppose if we looked
15 inside those binders and if we checked that number one would be able to
16 find the document in question?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, certainly.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. I am not going to
19 do that work because this is something that the Defence and the
20 Prosecution should have done or could have done, but, yes, go on, please,
21 Mr. Scott.
22 MR. SCOTT: Thank you, Your Honour.
23 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone for Mr. Scott, please.
24 MR. SCOTT: Thank you. I'm just looking, Your Honour, if there's
25 anything I can finish in the next couple of minutes, and I don't -- Your
1 Honour, I might suggest we stop there.
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Go on, please,
3 until five
4 Please go ahead in order to finish this topic.
5 MR. SCOTT: All right. Thank you, Mr. President.
6 Q. Staying on this topic then, can I ask that the witness go to in
7 the Prosecution binder P 00757. If you have that, sir, 757. This is a
8 report by the Special Rapporteur Mazowiecki, dated the 17th of November,
9 1992, a report to the United Nations, and if I can please direct your
10 attention and the courtroom's attention, please, to paragraph number 74.
11 In the English document it will be on page 24. I'm afraid I can't help
12 you with the page number on the translation, sir, although you may be
13 able to read the English, but you should be able to find paragraph 74.
14 The report there is talking about refugees at Varazdin, which has
15 I think been discussed in the courtroom before, another refugee centre in
17 through the paragraph 74 it says: "Many refugees complained that they
18 lacked official refugee status. In this respect, UNHCR confirmed that
19 the refugees in the centre fall into the category of 'not registered,'
20 following the decision of Croatia
21 refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina. This had implications on the
22 assistance side, but also raised protection concerns."
23 Now, sir, once again we have a reference with apparent -- some
24 significance to a decision of the Croatian government on the 13th of
25 July, 1992, not to register refugees, at least not to give them refugee
1 status. As you've said earlier today, maybe they were still coming into
2 the country. I don't know. You say they were, but we'll accept that for
3 the moment, but they weren't being given refugee status, were they?
4 A. Mr. Scott, the fact is that these refugees were in a refugee
5 centre and Mr. Mazowiecki's report speaks about this refugee centre. I
6 was aware of that centre. It is true that it was overcrowded. It is
7 true that it did not have sanitary facilities as it should have had, as
8 some other centres had, because this was a former barracks, a military
9 barracks. However, despite the dire financial and physical straits, we
10 provided them with whatever we could. De facto they were in a refugee
12 As I sit here today, I can't remember whether these people were
13 indeed not registered or maybe they were actually registered. In other
14 words, I can't remember whether they were not registered because of the
15 law, the 13th of July, 1993, which is very hard for me to believe today,
16 or maybe UNHCR wanted to take these people under their own protection
17 because that also sometimes happened and then transported them or helped
18 them to go to third countries.
19 If I may say, I know Mr. Mazowiecki personally. I met with him
20 two or three times, once before the war in a different capacity in
22 remember very well that we discussed the issues of refugees but he never
23 mentioned this particular problem to me. Since Mr. Mazowiecki had known
24 me from before, he invited me to a hotel and then face-to-face,
25 individually, tete-a-tete, he spoke to me as a priest, as a Christian,
1 and he inquired about any violation of human rights, to the extent I know
2 about those, either in Croatia
4 MR. KARNAVAS: Excuse me, Your Honour, I'm going to insist on the
5 answer because we have a report from the particular individual that the
6 witness knew prior the war and now he's being shown a report. Obviously,
7 because of their personal relationship, Mr. Mazowiecki would have brought
8 the issue up and now he's giving a full explanation.
9 MR. SCOTT: We don't need Mr. Karnavas to say that.
10 MR. KARNAVAS: The meeting took place in Zagreb. That's why I
11 did not object initially when he brought up the issue.
12 JUDGE TRECHSEL: We've heard this.
13 MR. KARNAVAS: We need a full answer. I don't recall an
14 instance, Judge Trechsel, when you -- when you would not allow a witness
15 for the Prosecution to answer fully a question. Now he's entitled to
16 give a full explanation because he knows the drafter of this report and
17 because of the relationship. I don't see why all the reaction.
18 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Well, your reaction mostly, Mr. Karnavas. I did
19 not stop the witness nor did I intend to, but you seem to like Trechsel
20 bashing. That has become very clear.
21 MR. KARNAVAS: No. I apologise if that seems to be the case, but
22 it seems that you're pounding things.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, you know
24 Mr. Mazowiecki. You had a conversation with him about human rights
25 abuse. It's interesting. What did you tell him, but please be brief
1 because otherwise we'll go over. What did you tell him?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] In a nutshell, I drew his attention
3 to the aggression that had been committed on the part of the JNA or
4 today's Serbia
6 human rights, the expulsion of people from their own homes, the killings
7 of fathers, brothers, and mothers before the eyes of those very same
8 refugees in similar cases.
9 As for the Republic of Croatia
10 whether human rights were being violated in the Republic of Croatia
11 least I don't remember that. Our conversation mostly dealt with the JNA
12 and aggression against the Croatian Bosnia and Herzegovina.
13 I am not surprised by the report that he drafted, because he also
14 had to provide reports about the de facto situation in Varazdin, in the
15 former barracks. I also didn't find it easy to see these people in such
16 poor accommodation, but there was no other possibilities, and that is why
17 the government had issued this decision to be more strict in applying the
18 refugee status, because the Republic of Croatia
19 avoid situations in which the refugees would be provided with
20 accommodation below any standards.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Fine. We need to stop here for
22 today. We'll resume tomorrow at a quarter past 2.00. Barring any
23 procedural incidents we should be able to complete the witness's
24 testimony tomorrow. If it so happens that we can't complete your
25 testimony, you would have to come back, Witness, but let's be hopeful.
1 Let's hope that you'll be able to complete your testimony tomorrow. Have
2 a pleasant evening and I'll see all of you tomorrow.
3 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 7.08 p.m.
4 to be reconvened on Thursday, the 22nd day
5 of May, 2008, at 2.15 p.m.