1 Tuesday, 5 May 2009
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The Accused Prlic and Coric not present]
5 [The witness takes the stand]
6 --- Upon commencing at 2.15 p.m.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Registrar, could you please
8 call the case.
9 THE REGISTRAR: Good afternoon, Your Honours. Good afternoon,
10 everyone in and around the courtroom.
11 This is case number IT-04-74-T, the Prosecutor versus
12 Prlic et al.
13 Thank you, Your Honours.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Registrar.
15 This is Tuesday, and I greet Mr. Stojic, Mr. Petkovic and
16 Mr. Pusic, as well as Defence counsels, our witness, Mr. Praljak, and I
17 also greet Mr. Mundis [as interpreted] and all his assistants. And I'm
18 also greeting everyone helping us. I apologise. It is Mr. Stringer, not
19 Mr. Mundis. I apologise. It's Mr. Stringer, representing the OTP.
20 I will give the floor to our Registrar for a couple of numbers.
21 THE REGISTRAR: Thank you, Your Honour.
22 2D has submitted its objections to documents tendered by the
23 Prosecution through Witness Dragan Juric. This list shall be given
24 Exhibit IC1002. And the Prosecution has also submitted its objections to
25 documents tendered by 2D through Witness Dragan Juric. This list shall
1 be given Exhibit IC1003.
2 Thank you, Your Honours.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Registrar.
4 Let me first issue an oral decision. It's quite short.
5 Oral decision on the Stojic Defence motion to reconsider the oral
6 decision made on April 7, 2009
7 On April 14th, 2009
8 reconsider the oral decision made on the 7th of April, 2009, in which the
9 Trial Chamber rejected the fact that Exhibit 2D01532 would be added on
10 list 65 ter of the Stojic Defence.
11 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's correction, it's 2D01533.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] In its motion, the Stojic
13 Defence submits that Exhibit 2D01533 is a crucial document for the Stojic
14 Defence case and also submits that postponing Witness Drago Juric, who
15 had been planned to testify from April 6th and 7, 2009, to April 27
16 and 28, 2009, is a new fact that would require the oral decision of
17 April 7, 2009
18 Prosecution and the other Defence teams filed no answer to this request
19 made by the Stojic Defence.
20 The Trial Chamber recalls that in its oral decision of April 7th,
21 2009, it had, inter alia, given the grounds to reject adding
22 Exhibit 2D01533 on the Stojic Defence's 65 ter list by the following
23 fact: It deemed that it had heard enough evidence on the topic that was
24 expounded in Exhibit 2D01533.
25 The Trial Chamber deems that the Stojic Defence did not
1 demonstrate that the reasoning in the impugned decision showed a mistake,
2 and because of this there is no need to reconsider the decision of
3 April 7th, 2009
4 made by the Stojic Defence.
5 Mr. Praljak, on behalf of the Trial Chamber, let me tell you that
6 we heard you yesterday, we heard your 84 bis statement, and we also
7 listened to you while you were answering the questions put to you by your
8 counsel. We note that your answers are sometimes extremely lengthy.
9 Therefore, we invite you to be more concise in your answers, to
10 be more to the point, and to answer the question more accurately, because
11 as you may know or as you may not know, everything you say is on the
12 transcript, is in the transcript, and when Judges will deliberate, they
13 will refer to the transcript. In the trial judgement, there will be, I'm
14 sure, many footnotes that will refer to the transcript. So if you start
15 expounding on a subject at length, this might be considered as a waste of
16 time for your case.
17 So please try and be very specific and very concise in your
18 answers. Don't forget that everything you say might have probative
19 value. You are under oath, of course, so this by definition means you're
20 telling the truth. Everything you say is of utmost importance, but try
21 not to water down your evidence by being too lengthy, because we might
22 lose track of the essentials. I wanted to remind you of this in order
23 for your defence to be as effective as possible and for you not to waste
24 any time.
25 I have a couple of questions to ask, following the answers that
1 you gave us yesterday. Short questions, but usually I spend the entire
2 night thinking about what has been said during the day in order to
3 revisit the issue, if need be, and here I really believe that it is
4 important to revisit this issue.
5 WITNESS: SLOBODAN PRALJAK [Resumed]
6 [The witness answered through interpreter]
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yesterday, you told us you did
8 not do your service in the JNA because you had a hip problem. You also
9 told us that you were wounded in a leg in Syria. Could you tell us
10 exactly how you were wounded in Syria
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, after being in the
12 Yugoslav People's Army for three months and then dismissed from the army
13 due to incapacity, I have a leg injury, an ankle injury, actually, not a
14 hip injury. I said my ankle was injured, and that's why I had the
15 nickname that I had, as I told you. And it was a cart in Tomislavgrad,
16 while I was a child, that the wheel went over my leg, and it was a cart
17 carrying stones. It wasn't in Syria
18 That's quite wrong. Not Syria
19 when I was a child. A horse and cart drove over my leg, and so I didn't
20 spend more than three months in the Yugoslav People's Army. That's what
21 I said.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Second question
24 Yesterday, I was listening to you with great interest, when you
25 started talking about the history of your country and when you talked
1 about the partisans and Ante Pavelic. Everything you said was extremely
2 interesting, and one could conclude from this that during this troubled
3 time in Croatia
4 who had become partisans, probably under the aegis of the late
5 Marshal Tito, and others had joined the ranks of Ante Pavelic's units and
6 were members of the Ustasha movement. This was very interesting, and I
7 understood, but maybe I made a mistake, so correct me if I'm wrong.
8 I understood that after 1945, the partisans took power with
9 Marshal Tito, and at the level of the Republic of Croatia
10 Federal Republic of Yugoslavia these people were in positions of power.
11 So you know, and this is no secret, that in the indictment and in the
12 preliminary brief, the notion of JCE, joint criminal enterprise, can also
13 involve this Ustasha phenomenon, who according to the Prosecutor these
14 Ustasha would have wanted -- these people would have wanted to recreate
15 the Greater Croatia
16 Now this is why I want to come back to what you said, because
17 this is something that was very important. You talked about
18 General Bobetko. You know as well as I do that General Bobetko is a
19 member of the JCE. It's in the indictment. But yesterday you added that
20 General Bobetko was a former partisan, so logically I could infer from
21 this that since Bobetko was a partisan, he had nothing to do with the
22 followers of Ante Pavelic. Normally, he was on the other side and he was
23 fighting against those people.
24 You were a person of importance at the time, so could you confirm
25 that General Bobetko was indeed a former partisan and that he did not
1 accept the ideas of Ante Pavelic's movement? I mean, you knew this
2 person, Bobetko. I've only seen his name, but I've had no inkling of his
3 existence beforehand.
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. Your Honour, Your Honours,
5 first of all, let me put you right. The number of partisans in World War
6 II was far greater, as an anti-fascist movement, from the number of
7 Communists, especially after 1943, who led the movement. So in 1945, all
8 the positions, political posts, military posts, posts in the economy,
9 were occupied by Communists. The Communists had come to power.
10 General Bobetko, not only was he a partisan, but he was the first
11 partisan in Europe
12 was the first unit that was established in the soil of Europe, standing
13 up to the Hitler coalition. He was a foremost fighter. He was an
14 anti-fascist throughout the war, throughout the whole of the war.
15 Afterwards, he became a general of the Yugoslav People's Army and
16 was a general until 1972, when, within the frameworks of the political
17 movement in Croatia
18 greater independence for Croatia
19 became active again when the aggression against Croatia was launched, and
20 for a time, for quite some time he was first commander of the
21 Southern Front and then Chief of the Main Staff of the Croatian Army.
22 The first chief of the Croatian Army, General Spegelj, was also a
23 partisan and a general of the Yugoslav People's Army, who had commanded
24 before that the 5th Army Aerial with its centre in Zagreb, and
25 General Tus also came from the Yugoslav People's Army, where before that
1 he was the Chief of Staff for the air force, and he replaced
2 General Spiegel as chief of the Croatia Army, and then General Bobetko
4 Franjo Tudjman was also since 1941 an active partisan, and he was
5 a general of the Yugoslav People's Army. He worked in Belgrade for many
6 years and, after that, devoted himself to work as a historian. And in
7 opposing -- well, he was in prison twice, found guilty after 1971, for
8 questioning the number of victims in Jasenovac. And I'd like to tell you
9 that most of the Croatian Government and top Croatian army leaders were
10 in fact people who had been partisans.
11 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I'd like to
12 intervene. In the transcript, I think that this is indispensable for
13 understanding because in page 7 the name is lacking, and General Praljak
14 was referring to Franjo Tudjman. Line 1 of page 7; isn't that right,
15 Mr. Praljak?
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, Dr. Tudjman was in the
17 partisan movement from 1941 to 1945. He held senior posts in the
18 partisan movement in norther Croatia
19 after that was he was in the Yugoslav People's Army and he was a general
20 in the Yugoslav People's Army.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. One last question.
22 It will be very short.
23 Yesterday, you talked about your father, and we know that he
24 worked in the State security system, and I thought I understood, but I
25 would like you to confirm this. I thought I understood that your father
1 was in favour of maintaining Yugoslavia
2 to be in favour of the Communist system, at the time he was in favour of
4 politically you grew apart from your father because you were not in
5 favour of former Yugoslavia
6 Communism. Is this how I am supposed to understand what you told us
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, you understood everything I
9 said quite correctly, but one should bear in mind just one point,
10 Your Honours, and it is this: that people in the Communist movement
11 matured, and there was a debate whether Yugoslavia was necessary or not
12 and what the powers that be should be. This came gradually. It wasn't
13 precipitous. All the people that I mentioned were, first of all,
14 partisans and Communists, hard-line Communists, but as time went by and
15 as the powers that be did some bad things, they came to understand slowly
16 that a state of that kind, in fact, represented stifling the people who
17 belonged to it; and let's call it a democratic system, and that's what
18 happened to my father in 1971, 1972, and later on. People who were ready
19 to lay down their lives for those ideals found it a difficult process, so
20 this happened bit by bit. And, in fact, it was more the people who were
21 in the partisans formerly that began to question the system and movement
22 and began to think otherwise, more so than perhaps young people who would
23 join later on.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Thank you for
25 answering these questions.
1 Let me now give the floor to your counsel, and he will resume his
2 examination-in-chief. He did use up about an hour yesterday.
3 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
4 Good afternoon to everybody in the courtroom.
5 Examination by Mr. Kovacic: [Continued]
6 Q. [Interpretation] Now, General Praljak, you were talking about the
7 media, and you said that you worked in television and the newspapers of
8 Bosnia-Herzegovina, and you said that Radio Mostar existed in 1992, it
9 was operating and functional. And with respect to the attack on the HVO
10 in 1993, I would like to ask you whether anything changed or, rather,
11 with respect to that date and the events after that date, whether you,
12 yourself, knew at the time that military targets, such as Radio Mostar,
13 were legitimate targets, and similar facilities that you mentioned.
14 MR. STRINGER: Excuse me, Mr. President. Sorry for the
16 Could we, for the record, specify perhaps more clearly the date
17 of the attack that counsel is referring to, whether it's perhaps
18 May 1993, or June 1993, or another time in 1993?
19 MR. KOVACIC: Yes, certainly. I said, "May 9, 1993." I think it
20 was a transcript question.
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Without any wish to meddle in an
22 interpretation of war law, I'm not a specialist in that, but I
23 nevertheless would like to say that the IPD of the Croatian Army that I
24 headed from 1992 onwards, when in fact the organisation was set up,
25 constantly organised seminars in which all levels of the Croatian Army
1 were spoken to about war law, and war law was interpreted for them.
2 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Mr. Praljak, the President has recalled that you
3 should answer questions and not go into giving lectures of any kind. The
4 question was whether anything changed after 9 May 1993 with regard to
5 Radio Mostar.
6 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, in my question, I
7 expressly asked Mr. Praljak what he knew about what the legitimate
8 targets were, military targets, and then as an example I said
9 "Radio Mostar." So what his knowledge was about law in that respect at
10 that time. And Mr. Praljak began his answer, the circumstances in which
11 he learnt about that. So I think it's a legitimate question. It's
12 mens rea. It's what he knew as a commander, and he started answering and
13 telling us how he came to know about that.
14 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Okay, we'll listen to the answer. Please
15 proceed, Mr. Praljak.
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Judge Trechsel, I'll do my best to
17 be as brief as possible, but it's difficult because I have to say what I
18 knew; and I knew about international war law because part of the Ministry
19 of Defence of the Republic of Croatia
20 subject; and so did I by organising a series of meetings, lectures. I
21 published brochures about international war law together with the
22 Red Cross, and I knew that international war law allowed the bombing or
23 neutralisation of telecommunications systems, communications systems, and
24 radio facilities on the opposite side.
25 And after the 9th of May, 1993, it is true that Radio Mostar, as
1 it was called, which was on the east bank -- in fact, in actual fact,
2 Radio Mostar of the 4th Corps of the BH Army at that time, because it
3 kept broadcasting, but despite the fact that we knew where its location
4 was, not a single artillery shell was fired at it. So that would be my
6 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, Counsel, please.
7 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
8 With the trial's permission, I'd like to move on to another area
9 now, and that is the question of the shelling of Mostar.
10 Q. General Praljak, would you please tell us what you know and what
11 you feel is important, as an introduction to that topic, and later on
12 we'll carry on discussing the topic through questions and answers.
13 A. Well, let's list the main points first.
14 I claim that the Yugoslav People's Army, and later on the Army of
15 Republika Srpska in 1992, in March, April, May, June and onwards,
16 destroyed Mostar, as we were able to see it on the photographs shown
17 here, and especially in the book "Urbicide" which has been provided to
18 this Tribunal, and I also claim that in September/October 1992, I
19 personally toured almost the whole of Mostar and personally saw for
20 myself what had happened and what the destruction of Mostar actually
21 entailed. During the destruction of Mostar, I was in Mostar myself for
22 most of the time. I was there personally.
23 Furthermore, in the autumn of 1992, I sent two individuals from
25 Goran Mecava. One was a worker of the IPD. The other one dealt in films
1 and was a cameraman, and he had a professional 60-millimetre camera. He
2 was a cameraman. He had the Arrow-Flex camera, and from 1.000 metres
3 with a Kodak colour negative, and I sent them to film the destruction of
4 Mostar, and that's what they did. They completed the task, and the
5 material is now to be found stored in Television Zagreb. It was
6 transferred to a positive and on videotape, so the Ministry of Defence
7 has a copy of the tape and I do too. I have it at home.
8 Now, unfortunately at that time, the time when Mostar was
9 destroyed, in Mostar there were no international observers, except for
10 maybe a few people who left. The international observers arrived in
11 greater numbers afterwards, when the conflict between the BH Army and HVO
12 had already started, and then they were able to see there was shooting on
13 both sides and that Mostar had been destroyed. And from that, they
14 concluded that it was the HVO which had destroyed Mostar.
15 Now, in the fighting between the HVO and the BH Army, buildings
16 were destroyed only at the separation line, that is to say, along the
17 boulevard, the Spanish Square, and Santiceva Street. Luckily, as far as
18 my positions are concerned or the HVO positions, during the conflict
19 between the BH Army and the HVO on the east bank, for 24 hours there were
20 members of the Spanish Battalion who spent time there, and they went
21 around counting the shells falling on the left and right bank; that is to
22 say, on both sides of the line. And from their reports, which the
23 Prosecutor has placed at the disposal of this Trial Chamber, I precisely
24 calculated just how many shells fell on the east bank of Mostar. That
25 piece of paper has been handed over to the Court, and it is an exhibit;
1 and I hope that the Prosecutor, if it should happen to find different
2 figures, will put that right; but there were some 800-odd shells.
3 And I claim that during the conflict and before, when there was
4 no conflict, that both the east bank and west bank of Mostar was shelled
5 by the artillery of the Army of Republika Srpska, more or less, to a
6 greater or lesser extent. And I also claim, to the best of my knowledge,
7 that of the number that I have stated over those five or six months fired
8 from HVO positions to the east side, it's not only the east bank but the
9 whole of the eastern area around Mostar, that at least 25 percent or
10 30 percent fell from the Serb positions so that they could keep the
11 conflict alive. And then once I would say, There you are, the BH Army is
12 shooting at us, and then the other side would say -- the BH Army would
13 say, Here we have the HVO shooting at us; and that's what would happen,
14 all this shooting to and fro.
15 I also claim that the number of about 600 projectiles over a
16 period of five or six months that were directed at exclusively military
17 facilities on the east bank, in the military sense, were at the level of
18 an attack that would be launched by a battalion, so it's a negligible
19 number for us to be able to talk about any kind of bombing for Mostar,
20 the bombing of Mostar.
21 What the Chamber is looking at here is a table showing how many
22 artillery shells must be fired according to the rules of any army in the
23 world in order to neutralise 25 percent or 50 percent of the enemy
24 forces, and so on and so forth; 5.000, 6.000, those are the figures that
25 we're looking at. The Chamber has that. If need be, I can explain that
2 MR. STRINGER: Excuse me. Sorry for the interruption. I may
3 have missed the reference, but I see the general is referring to the
4 binder that he was using yesterday, and there was a reference to a chart.
5 And if we're on one of the tabs, I'm just wondering if counsel could
6 indicate which of the tabs the general is referring to.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Praljak, what is this
8 chart? What is the reference?
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This is a table or a chart that I
10 showed here in this courtroom. No, I don't have it here. What I'm
11 saying is it has been shown. The Trial Chamber here has been shown this
12 chart or table. These are NATO charts or tables containing information
13 about how many shells and artillery weapons must fire over a square
14 kilometre in order to neutralise, say, 25 percent or 50 percent or
15 75 percent of enemy forces. That's the chart I have in mind. Of course,
16 I don't have it in front of me, but I have it in another binder that is
17 in my possession. As far as I remember, it has been made an exhibit.
18 MR. STRINGER: Okay. From glancing over, Mr. President, I think
19 we're at tab 5 that the Prosecution at least has.
20 And if I could, with respect, while I'm on my feet, as was the
21 case yesterday, the general is referring and basically testifying on the
22 basis of papers that are contained in the binder, and I think that -- and
23 we've had a number of cases throughout the trial in which witnesses are
24 testifying with notes or with pre-prepared materials, and it's not clear
25 to us, and I think it may be useful to -- I'd like to know the status, if
1 I may, of these notes. Are they going to be tendered into evidence? Are
2 these materials prepared by the general with his counsel? It seems that
3 we're not really getting live testimony so much as reading back of
4 something that's been prepared previously by the general and possibly his
6 MR. KOVACIC: If I may assist.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Kovacic, yesterday, in the
8 84 bis statement, Mr. Praljak relied on documents that were under tabs.
9 Are you going to seek to tender such documents? That is the question
10 raised, and rightly raised by Mr. Stringer. Could you enlighten us on
11 this, because he saw Mr. Praljak looking at documents and he's of the
12 view that these are documents arising from the statement or other
13 documents that you might seek to tender later on by submitting them to
14 Mr. Praljak. Could you shed some light on this?
15 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, of course I'm only
16 too glad to be given an opportunity to explain this. Nevertheless, there
17 is a number of details involved that I think might be helpful in avoiding
18 any further misunderstandings.
19 First of all, perhaps the detail raised by my learned friend, the
20 last three minutes of General Praljak's answer, in which he mentioned two
21 documents that were used and shown in this courtroom before. He is
22 referring to specific exhibits. We don't have the numbers at our
23 finger-tips or in front of us right now, but I think we all know which
24 ones we're talking about. These have been admitted. General Praljak
25 simply added up some information gleaned from all the SpaBat reports in
1 order to arrive at the total number of shells, and this is something he's
2 just explained. The other document involved was another chart showing
3 artillery information according to NATO standards, the amount of
4 ammunition used up for certain targets. These are military standards.
5 I think Mr. Petkovic helped a little with that.
6 THE ACCUSED PETKOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, if I may,
7 there is a mistake here. These are expenditure norms of the JNA and not
8 NATO. I think Mr. Kovacic misspoke. Let me just put him right on this.
9 These are expenditure norms prescribed by the JNA, not NATO.
10 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] I thank the general. He's quite
11 correct. I had come across the reference to this being about NATO
12 standards, but after the break we can provide the exact reference for
14 As for the question just posed by the Trial Chamber, and then
15 following the question by my learned friend from the OTP, General Praljak
16 prepared his opening statement assuming that he would be given three
17 hours to present his statement, as we had requested. He prepared the
18 statement on his own, unaided, based on any documents in his possession,
19 based on any documents in the Defence team's possession - he doesn't have
20 everything in the Detention Unit - and based on everything that had gone
21 on in this courtroom. You then restricted the time he was allowed, and
22 we decided to take over some of these individual topics for purely
23 practical reasons, practical reasons, since all of this is --
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] One moment, Mr. Kovacic. I'll
25 give you the floor in a moment, but there is a question to be raised
1 straight away.
2 Yesterday, when General Praljak made his statement, we followed
3 the statement based on the binder he gave us, and we could see that he
4 was reading parts of the documents that was in the binder. You told us
5 that that was his own work. Our question is as follows: Was the binder
6 given yesterday to the Prosecution? Did the Prosecution receive it? You
7 say, Yes? Please say that so it is on the record.
8 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour, yes, it was
9 served on the Chamber and the OTP in order to enable for everyone to
10 follow. This is General Praljak's statement. I'm just coming to that,
11 or I was just come to that when you asked me this question.
12 When his time was limited, we decided to try not to cause any
13 trouble, in terms of document handling, and there has been a lot of that
14 in this trial. I didn't particularly wish to separate the topics that I
15 set aside in order to do them myself and raise them with General Praljak.
16 My learned friend is now informing me that the OTP was given the binder
17 on Friday. Therefore, I'm using this same binder to ask all these
18 questions, because if we had physically separated my questions and his
19 questions, it might have made it more difficult for others to follow and
20 we might have ended up with a mountain of documents to deal with.
21 Nevertheless, I will always call the tab number for the reasoning
23 General Praljak, for the most part, is trying to follow the
24 structure of his presentation in order to keep matters as brief as
25 possible, but I see that he's also adding to what is presented there and
1 his own thoughts, but he's trying to follow the logic of the structure
2 that is already there in order to be as effective as possible.
3 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreters note, could all the other
4 microphones in the courtroom be switched off while counsel is speaking,
5 because we can't hear counsel or anyone else, for that matter.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Should the Chamber understand this to
7 mean that you will proceed to tender all documents, that is, 28 documents
8 to be found in the binder; water, telephone, electricity, information,
9 shelling of Mostar, Old Bridge
10 all these other topics in the document. Are you going to file a motion
11 in writing, possibly, to seek to tender the 28 documents, knowing that
12 you told us that Mr. Praljak read at least half of them and that he did
13 not have the time to read the others because he lacked time? If he had
14 three hours, he would have read document number 1, entitled "Water," or
15 document number 2, entitled "Telephone," et cetera?
16 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour. Your question
17 foreshadows what we hoped we might be able to do. It was for the sake of
18 efficiency and in order to aid the Judges and the OTP that we tried to
19 use this entire binder, tabs 1 through 28, after completing our questions
20 on these matters, in order to tender it, for ease of reading, and then
21 you can judge its probative value. That is up to you.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well, we got the message.
23 Yes, Mr. Stringer.
24 MR. STRINGER: Just forward record, Mr. President, the
25 Prosecution is going to object to these written texts being tendered into
1 evidence or being accepted. The general gave his opening statement
2 yesterday within the time-frame set by the Trial Chamber. He's now a
3 witness in the box. He's taken the solemn declaration. Witnesses don't
4 come to the Tribunal are read pre-prepared statements and then tender
5 those speeches or written statements into evidence. The evidence are the
6 words that come from his mouth, in my submission, Mr. President, and so I
7 don't -- I don't want to take more time on it, but I think there is a
8 distinction between what the general says and then what is contained in
9 these pre-prepared written texts that they're proposing to tender. And
10 so it's our position that the written texts are not admissible, but
11 that's for another day.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. The Trial Chamber
13 will deliberate on this topic. We note your position. We note
14 Mr. Kovacic's position.
15 Very well. Continue, please, Mr. Kovacic.
16 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Kovacic, I have a question.
18 Mr. Praljak dealt with the topic of destruction of buildings in
19 Mostar by the JNA or the Republika Srpska. He told us that he asked for
20 the destruction to be filmed. He has a film, he has a copy of it, and so
21 has the Croatian Television. Did you plan to show us the video? Because
22 this could be evidence that what is alleged in the indictment -- in the
23 indictment, it is alleged to have been destroyed by the HVO, but that in
24 fact it was destroyed by the JNA or the Republika Srpska? Are you going
25 to show this to us or not?
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I do have the
2 material. It's over an hour long. I was convinced that the book
3 "Urbicide," authored together by Muslims and Croats, describing with a
4 great degree of precision the destruction, might be better evidence
5 backing my claims than the film. But if you want me to, I could show the
6 footage as well, the Svenko [phoen] house taken from an angle above the
7 house and then swinging down. It's really dead boring and it might take
8 some time. If you really want me to, I can show you that, maybe a small
9 portion of the material, maybe everything. It depends on how much time
10 you have. But I was convinced that the book "Urbicide" and the two or
11 three exhibitions in Paris
12 present clear and unambiguous evidence as to who destroyed the Mostar
13 bridge, the Old Bridge
14 to my lawyers to judge that, and we can also attach the tape.
15 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] If I could just add a single
16 sentence to what Mr. Praljak has said.
17 We conferred with our client, and we decided to apply the
18 principle of best possible evidence. We considered this subject, and as
19 Mr. Praljak said, the best possible evidence would be his book "Urbicide"
20 prepared by an independent commission, a mixed commission, if you like.
21 We have heard witnesses who spoke about how the book came into existence.
22 The chief editor was here talking about that, as a matter of fact. That
23 is why we believe that the other piece of evidence was of lesser value,
24 as General Praljak said. But if you want to know about that
25 specifically, no problem. It is somewhat boring. It takes a long time
1 to see the whole thing. We can show you the whole thing. We can show
2 you an abridged version, but we have not included it in the 65ter.
3 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter didn't hear the last part of
4 counsel's answer.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You have in front of you Judges
6 that are going to rule on matters, and you said something that I don't
7 agree with. You said that the probative value of the movie is less than
8 the document. I don't agree, because a book or a document can have been
9 just made up; but something that has been filmed, that was filmed then by
10 a party, whatever party it was, that's something visual, unless of course
11 they were edited; but that has a higher probative value than what may
12 have been written in a book or was a photograph, because the weight of a
13 picture, in my book, is greater than what someone may say because you can
14 see precisely what happened.
15 So the reason why I'm saying this is also because I refer to
16 something I can say in open session. I refer to the decision of the ICJ
17 in the case Serbia
18 is a large part devoted to destruction in Mostar, and I noted that in
19 that part of the decision of the ICJ decision, there seems to be mention
20 of buildings that are mentioned in our indictment for facts that are
21 attributed to the HVO; hence, the interest in seeing and watching this
22 film. The footage was taken at the time, if I understood Mr. Praljak
23 properly, before HVO fire, of which he claims that it was only focused on
24 the boulevard separating the front-lines, and having no other objectives.
25 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, no objection to raise
1 about what you said. I fully agree. What I said was merely an
2 assessment that we made. We tried to think about the simplest way -- the
3 best way to present evidence, backed by live witnesses. That seemed the
4 most practical course of action to take. Obviously, we welcome your
5 suggestion, and we shall be more than glad, especially as concerns Mostar
6 1992. We might be getting to that over the next couple of days, and we
7 might have the footage ready by such time. I do have to consider the
8 form. Will we present the entire footage, or maybe just sections, or
9 maybe we shall give the whole thing to everyone and then they can pick
10 whichever sections they are most interested in, but we have absolutely no
11 reason to hold back anything that's in our possession.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] If the film is one hour long,
13 of course, you're not going to use one hour out of your time, because you
14 don't have all the time in the world, but you could maybe select five or
15 ten minutes, the most relevant part.
16 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Thank you. Thank you, Your Honour.
17 I think we know the general direction.
18 Q. General Praljak, I think you wanted to add something about this.
19 A. Yes. I'm just trying to say that I prepared this and I wrote it
20 under oath. I am here asserting that I wrote here is true. I wrote this
21 on my own, unaided. I also assert that the translation that was produced
22 in Zagreb
23 over the three hours that I hoped I would be allotted. So that's that.
24 I further assert that in Eastern Mostar, after the clashes
25 between the HVO and the BH Army or, rather, the attacks by the BH Army on
1 the HVO, the Command of the 4th Corps was in the centre of town. The
2 Command of the 1st Motorised Brigade of the BH Army was in the centre of
3 town. The Command of the Military Police was in the centre of town. The
4 mess of the BH Army, their kitchen, was in the centre of town. The
5 ammunition storage units they had, the depots and everything, was in the
6 centre of town, and the military commands, finally, were in the centre of
7 East Mostar.
8 Further, I assert that the BH Army soldiers and civilians were
9 mingling on a regular basis. It was all mixed up, and they were bringing
10 weapons in all the time. This was something that was easy enough to
11 observe on a daily basis.
12 In those conditions of war, obviously, many people were wearing
13 uniforms that weren't, strictly speaking, supposed to be wearing
14 uniforms, and there were children carrying weapons through and through.
15 What the International War of Law has to say about that, well, you
16 probably know more than I do.
17 It is the right and duty of a military commander to destroy any
18 enemy military targets. It is necessary to use a proportionate number of
19 artillery shells for that purpose. The word "proportionate" is
20 interpreted as the amount necessary to destroy or disable, for example,
21 an enemy bridge, enemy communications, enemy HQ, and so on and so forth.
22 I assert that the HVO commanders, headed by me, abided by that right and
23 that duty, or rather had we done that, the number of artillery shells
24 fired on the area of East Mostar would have been at least 1.000 times
25 greater than the number counted by the members of SpaBat, even without
1 taking into account the artillery shells of the --
2 JUDGE PRANDLER: I'm sorry to interrupt you. You used, in your
3 answer now, and I quote the word, quote, "proportionate" is termed as
4 "the amount necessary to destroy or disable, for example, an enemy
5 bridge, enemy communications, enemy headquarters, and so on and so
6 forth." Now, I would only like to underline that you misunderstood the
7 meaning of "proportionate."
8 Of course, I do not have before me now the text of the -- I mean
9 the articles of the given Geneva
10 but I am sure that the proportionate is referring to the fact that the
11 very aim of the -- to destroy a certain building or whatever should be
12 proportionate with the results of the efforts -- the military efforts
13 that is being employed by the parties concerned, that is, one or the
14 other party in the armed conflict. So, therefore, it is not about the
15 question of the ammunition, et cetera, but it is a question of being
16 proportionate with the very aim of how to complete a military operation.
17 Thank you.
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you, Judge Prandler. I tried
19 to find an exact definition of the word "proportionate." Nevertheless,
20 it is still about the putting of action, something that is targeted,
21 unless we take into account such countries usually considered to be the
22 best representatives of international law, such as the United States.
23 For example, they attacked Serbia
24 over 60 bridges [as interpreted] of the TV buildings. Proportionate,
25 that's what it means, according to their doctrine, put out of action a
1 military target as defined by military law to keep it from continuing to
2 operate. Lawyers, of course, give the definition a wide berth at times.
3 They try to avoid defining exact balance this means. "Proportionate"
4 means putting out of action, putting out of operation. All these things
5 were in the town itself, and according to standard charts, thousands and
6 thousands of shells more would have been necessary to put all these out
7 of action.
8 All the witnesses we've heard here agreed on one thing as to the
9 number of shells. The HVO commanders fell far short of taking full
10 advantage of their right, despite the fact that their mortars were next
11 to the hospital. Some of them were mounted on cars and were used to fire
12 throughout the town. Despite all of this, the smallest possible number
13 of shells under my command was fired, and those shells were fired on
14 military targets, and nothing else but military targets. I'm claiming
15 that. There is both proof in the military charts that I attached, but
16 finally it will be up to you to judge the meaning of this expression,
17 "proportionate," under the terms of the Law of War. And then I believe
18 we can study other examples from the wars waging throughout the world
19 right now at this moment by the great powers. I think that should be a
20 reference point that we should all abide by and decide and define our own
21 concepts in relation to.
22 Thank you very much. I have no more questions.
23 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, I think it's time to
24 move on to our next topic, that being the Old Bridge
25 I would like to point out one more thing to the Trial Chamber and
1 to everyone else in the courtroom. General Praljak will provide no more
2 than a set of brief reference points in relation to this topic, which is
3 a topic that has been dealt with already. We might have to return to
4 that subject, but I hope there will be no further need for that. Thank
6 Q. Please move on, General.
7 A. I assert that at the time, I commanded the operation of crossing
8 from the right-hand riverbank to the left-hand riverbank, these HVO units
9 involved, and there were some Muslim units helping, the second day or the
10 second night of the attack, and there was a guard set up around the Old
11 Bridge, no more than 150 or 200 metres away from the Serb lines. I gave
12 orders to the HVO logistics to build a cage around the bridge to protect
13 the bridge. Several lorries were needed. Thick planks to protect the
14 bridge, seven centimetres thick, to protect the whole structure. It was
15 mortar shells raining down, for the most part, and we wanted to keep
16 those from inflicting further damage on the Old Bridge because it had
17 been damaged very much already. So those planks that were wrapped around
18 the Old Bridge
19 shells, shrapnel flying throughout the area, without causing further
20 damage to the bridge. That's why I did that. There were a total of
21 between 30 and 40 young men involved in this, and as they went about
22 their tasks, they were facing grave danger. They were in danger of a
23 single shell or two shells killing 10, 12, or even 15 of them in one foul
25 MR. STRINGER: May I request counsel or the witness indicate
1 what's the time-frame that he's talking about. Thank you.
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Praljak, when you provide
3 this type of information, please provide dates, because when we write the
4 judgement, we will have to put dates to confirm or dismiss what you said.
5 So you said that you gave orders, but when did you give orders, in which
6 month, on which day? Well, it might be difficult to tell us the day, as
7 such. But I'm also surprised, Mr. Praljak. I looked at the three
8 binders, and in them I could not find any military order you would have
10 For instance, you said here that you gave an order. Was it an
11 oral order? Of course, if it was an oral order, it has less value than a
12 written order. And if you wrote an order, it must be found somewhere,
13 and then you have to produce it.
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, from what I know,
15 verbal orders have the same weight as the written orders in a war. When
16 an operation is launched, it is impossible to issue written orders; some
17 minor ones, yes. However, verbal orders are given during an ongoing
18 operation. So this was a verbal order, and people who were engaged in
19 the task, some four or five, signed a statement which will be submitted
20 to the Trial Chamber as to who had given them the order and what they did
21 and when they did it. It was in the month of June 1992, two days after
22 the beginning of the attack that started on the 14th of June, 1992
23 5.00 in the morning, or 4.00 or 5.00 in the morning. So not the first
24 night, the 14th; it was between the 15th and the 16th of June, if my
25 memory serves me properly. I am a bit confused at the moment, but that
1 was the time. It was then when 30 to 40 lads obeyed my verbal order, and
2 you will see their statements, protected the Old Bridge
3 construction and planks.
4 I also claim that at that moment, as far as our attack is
5 concerned, that bridge did not have any significant military purpose, and
6 I also claim that I don't know which commander of an organised army would
7 have exposed the lives of 30 or 40 men at the time when intense and heavy
8 fighting was going on. In some armies, it would be characterized as an
9 irresponsible act on the part of a commander, which was me at the time,
10 exposing people to excessive danger.
11 Also, I found justification for that order of mine in the
12 symbolic and culturalogical [as interpreted] meaning of the Old Bridge
13 for the citizens of the city of Mostar
14 more than anything else. I would not have protected any other bridge in
15 the same way, I would not have saved any other bridge in the same way.
16 Only the Old Bridge
17 any other bridge's significance. That's why I undertook all the
18 measures. I issued that order which, in military terms, could not have
19 been justified or reasonable, in military terms.
20 Likewise, I assert that at the time of attacks by the BiH Army in
21 the month of May, and especially after the end of June 1993, and
22 throughout the time that I'm going to demonstrate clearly as the major
23 operation Neretva 1993 which started in Bugojno and ended sometime in the
24 second half of the month of October 1993, I assert that the HVO
25 commanders of the operative zone and the brigade commanders, and the
1 artillery subordinated to them, had received clear instructions from me
2 not to fire at civilian targets or the military targets that the BH Army
3 chose to locate among the civilian population.
4 The Old Bridge was never targeted by the HVO, and I also assert
5 that it was -- if it had been targeted from Hum Hill, it would have
6 sufficed three shells in one minute to destroy the Old Bridge
7 took was three shells, the bridge was shelled, such shells could
8 penetrate the bridge, and where its statics -- where the [indiscernible]
9 bridge would have collapsed. Throughout the whole time of my command
10 down there, the bridge was never targeted. Throughout all that time, it
11 was a military target that we could see in some of the footages that were
12 made at the time, and it was also confirmed by Muslim witnesses. If that
13 bridge -- that bridge was a military target. Soldiers crossed it
14 carrying weapons and ammunition for the parts and positions of the
15 Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina which were on the right bank of the
16 River Neretva.
17 In other words, based on that and based on what I understood as
18 being implied by the law, I was entitled to destroy the bridge. All the
19 law provides for something else. There is a provision according to which
20 a commander of a division which would be equal to a commander of
21 [indiscernible], the commander of an operative zone, I or somebody else
22 would have had the discretionary right to destroy such a facility if that
23 facility signified a major value for the enemy side. I didn't do any
24 such thing. None of that was ever done.
25 There have been words about how the bridge was destroyed. I,
1 unfortunately, cannot say who destroyed it, who did it. It will always
2 remain a mystery, although I believe that it was a very dirty game
3 according to what I know and one person participated in that, known by
4 his nickname Scott, Ed Scott, who was a member of the British Army, and
5 immediately before the bridge was destroyed he had placed his camera
6 there, and so on and so forth.
7 I know one thing with a great degree of reliability. Not a
8 single member of the HVO participated in the destruction of the
9 Old Bridge
10 Old Bridge
11 this very day. The investigation started, some people were reported, and
12 then the whole thing came to a halt and never was resumed, for a simple
13 reason; the Goebbels propaganda found a culprit in Slobodan Praljak.
14 Slobodan Praljak is a scapegoat who protected the bridge throughout the
15 war in every possible way when he was commander and later on when he was
16 no longer commander.
17 By the way, the bridge was destroyed on the 9th of November,
18 1993, at 1030 hours, and as from 7.45, I was no longer the commander of
19 the Main
20 about the destruction of the Old Bridge
21 However, the Judges had in front of them some experts, the book
22 that I wrote as well, and I did that in my relentless struggle to counter
23 the harangue of lies and smears and defend myself and say that I had
24 nothing to do with the destruction of the bridge. The contrary is true.
25 I protected the bridge, I saved it, and on the 8th, when I had been
1 formally been dissolved of the duties of commander and I had the document
2 in my hand, a tank opened fire. However, my powers are too small to
3 investigate, and nobody else gives a toss about what really happened.
4 But I will not be taking the blame for it.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Praljak, let me ask the
6 Registrar to move to private session for a few minutes, please.
7 [Private session]
11 Page 39569 redacted. Private session.
3 [Open session]
4 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, we're back in public session.
5 Thank you.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Kovacic.
7 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
8 Q. General Praljak, I believe that this is enough and that we have
9 managed to synthesise the topic of the Old Bridge, and now I would kindly
10 ask you to say to the Trial Chamber what your position is based on what
11 you know about the encirclement of Mostar as qualified in the Indictment.
12 A. A town or a territory considers itself besieged when it is
13 surrounded in an unbroken line by soldiers of the opposing enemy side or
14 allied enemy forces. Until the 9th of May, 1993, the HVO and the Army of
15 Bosnia and Herzegovina together held the lines facing the Army of
16 Republika Srpska on the Herzegovinian battle-field from Konjic to Stolac
17 and Neum or, rather, what remained of unoccupied Konjic to Stolac and
19 On the 9th of May, the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina attacked
20 the HVO in Mostar, and after the situation calmed down very quickly and
21 the cease-fire was fine, the separation line remained in the town of
22 Mostar, the way we saw it along the boulevard, and outside of Mostar to
23 the north and the south. The units of the HVO and the BH Army kept their
24 positions facing the Army of Republika Srpska.
25 On the 30th of June, 1993, the BiH Army, or to be more precise
1 the Muslims in the ranks of the HVO, attacked and disarmed the Croatian
2 Defence Council and its soldiers on the joint lines of defence, and from
3 that day on the line of conflict between the HVO and the BiH Army went
4 from the north towards the South mainly along the River Neretva, all the
5 way down to Blagaj.
6 And now could I be allowed to show Your Honours -- everybody has
7 a map. Do I need to show them or are you going to look at them in your
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Praljak, it's up to you to
10 decide how you will present your evidence in the framework of the time
11 you were allotted. If you believe this is useful, do it, proceed. I'm
12 always in favour of being shown things.
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I would kindly ask for the map to
14 be put on the ELMO.
15 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Can the usher please assist the
16 witness with putting the map on the ELMO. The ERN number is IC549. It
17 has already been admitted into evidence.
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This is not the first map. I am
19 going to be showing them a sequence.
20 Look at the map, please, everybody. This is the distribution or,
21 rather, the deployment at the moment when the conflict started. The red
22 line depicts the Army of Republika Srpska. Down there is the 2nd Brigade
23 of the HVO, the 3rd Brigade of the HVO, and problems arose in Mostar that
24 I've already mentioned. That's that.
25 And after that, I would like to show --
1 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
2 Q. Just a moment, Mr. Praljak. The number is IC00596 is the one
3 that you're showing right now.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Praljak, we've just seen a
5 chart, a map. On these maps, could you tell us what is the date where we
6 see the position of these armies?
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It bears the date 9 May, 1993.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. So May 9, 1993
9 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's correction.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I make a personal observation,
11 but no one has to follow me, of course, but I look at this map and in the
12 center I see Mostar. Mostar is encircled by the VRS, by the 2nd Brigade
13 of the HVO on the top, the 3rd Brigade of the HVO on the bottom. Is that
14 how we're supposed to read this map?
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No.
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Then please explain.
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] On this map, Your Honours, you can
18 see what we heard about here, and that is that there were small conflicts
19 or skirmishes in the town somewhere around the boulevard. However, the
20 3rd Brigade of the HVO was composed of Croats and Muslims, and it was
21 holding positions facing the Army of Republika Srpska, so nothing was
22 encircled. The 2nd HVO Brigade was also made up of Croats and Muslims,
23 and it was holding the positions facing the Army of Republika Srpska once
24 again. The Bosnia-Herzegovina brigade, 1st Brigade, also held a position
25 here. You see the 2nd Brigade, where their positions end, and then this
1 continues with the 1st BH Brigade holding the position facing the Army of
2 Republika Srpska. Then in Mostar, there were no positions until the 9th
3 of May, but there were just skirmishes going on. So there was no
4 encirclement, no siege, and that was the situation before the 9th of May,
5 before the lines were to be taken up in the town itself.
6 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
7 Q. Since the map is on the ELMO, would you indicate what you're
8 talking about on the ELMO so we can see it there?
9 A. The 2nd HVO Brigade was here [indicates]. Then we have the
10 1st BH Army Brigade facing the Serbian Army and the 3rd Brigade, and
11 their units were not deployed here before the 9th of May.
12 So the Command of the 1st Brigade was located here [indicates],
13 and on the west side in Vranica we have the 4th Corps Command, and the
14 very fact that the 4th Corps Command was so deep into the west tells us
15 that the HVO had no intention of attacking anyone, because no normal
16 commander would allow his 4th Corps to have a command deep in some
17 territory that it wished to take control of. So this is the situation
18 prior to the 9th of May, 1993, and there is no siege, no encirclement,
19 quite simply joint positions manned by the BH Army and HVO facing the
20 Army of Republika Srpska.
21 Now, I'd like to make a remark here. In the 2nd and 3rd HVO
22 Brigades, there were large numbers of Muslims, and we've already seen
23 that from the tables that were shown here.
24 Our next map is the one that the Prosecutor showed, and we have
25 the lines there drawn in, the HVO lines - that's Blagaj - and the HVO
1 lines go to the left of Blagaj, as you can see them. The lines of
2 Republika Srpska take a different direction.
3 Now, on the Prosecution map, we can already see that Mostar was
4 not a town under siege. It had not been encircled. First of all, we had
5 nothing to do with the Army of Republika Srpska. We were simply holding
6 our lines north-south as the military situation developed, whereas the
7 whole northern part of Mostar across Bijelo Polje and Bjela Bridge
8 towards Jablanica was still open, and that's the map that's compiled by
9 the Prosecution.
10 And then we have another map that I compiled.
11 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] General Praljak, before we look at
12 the next map, let's have an IC number for the Prosecution map, given that
13 we received the explanation. So may we have an IC number for that,
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Registrar, for the map of July
16 1993 OTP, do we have a number?
17 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honour, that map shall be given
18 Exhibit IC1004. Thank you, Your Honour.
19 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
20 Q. Go ahead, General, please.
21 A. Your Honours, we used Google for this map, and everything is very
22 clear here. The red is the Army of Republika Srpska. The BH Army holds
23 its positions facing the Army of Republika Srpska. The HVO had its lines
24 along the Neretva River
25 area under BH Army control along the very embankment.
1 And to that map, we can add another one, so may we have an IC
2 number for this first map, please, before I move on.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] This Google map, could you tell
4 us what is the date that refer to the lines that you drew?
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] That's the situation after the
6 30th of June, 1993.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Would you like -- you want a
8 number for this map extracted from Google; right?
9 Mr. Registrar.
10 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, the Google map shall be given
11 Exhibit IC1005. Thank you, Your Honours.
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This shows that the BH Army was
13 holding positions facing the HVO and that the whole area to the north of
14 Mostar was open. And it is true and correct that there's a mountain
15 here, but it's also true and correct that the main line -- main road goes
16 through Bijelo Polje towards Jablanica and that this entire area,
17 together with Bjela Bridge
18 the Bjela Bridge
19 understand the reasons for that. Perhaps they were afraid that after
20 their futile offensive, they would not be able to reach Neum and Ploce or
21 the western borders. And after Neretva -- the offensive Neretva-93
22 proved abortive, they lost the battle and then citizens from
23 Eastern Mostar would start moving to the north, they feared. So
24 according to the information that I had at the time and that I learned
25 afterwards, they wanted to destroy Bjela Bridge
1 they had nowhere to flee and had to stay where they were, regardless of
2 the danger you face, and that you face perhaps death, too, which is
3 contrary to international war law.
4 And may I have an IC number for that map?
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Just a minute, Mr. Praljak.
6 Could you give us again the exact date at which these positions --
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] [Previous translation
8 continues] ... after the 30th of June, 1993. It's the same map, but I
9 just show the HVO positions or, rather, positions facing the HVO. And
10 the other map showed positions facing the Army of Republika Srpska. This
11 map focuses on the north. The other map, the first map, focuses on the
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well, thanks. If I
14 understood you well, the green line represented the BH positions, and if
15 I'm not mistaken, the positions of the BiH and the HVO go through Mostar
16 and separate into Mostar -- East Mostar and West through the boulevard;
17 is that it?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Not through East Mostar. They pass
19 through the Neretva River
20 then move right into Mostar West, going down Santiceva Street, down the
21 boulevard, down Donja Mahala, to where they were according to that very
22 good map we saw earlier on, and then down the Neretva River
23 further on.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Therefore, if the
25 BiH wants to move into Mostar East, according to this map that we have
1 here, they could go through the mountains in the north and then just go
2 along the VRS lines that are in red. So actually you're telling us that
3 Mostar was not encircled.
4 I'm just trying to understand what you're telling us and make
5 sense of it with this map, because as you drew this map, and this is what
6 you told us and I want you to confirm this, you are actually say that
7 there is a possibility to access Mostar East through -- coming from the
8 sector held by the BiH if you go through the mountains; yes or no?
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Not only across the mountains,
10 Your Honour. You could use the normal road from Mostar to Jablanica.
11 You could follow that road. And I claim that they took the journalists
12 across the mountains for propaganda reasons. Even when the bridge wasn't
13 in existence, there was a Macadam road running over several hundred
14 metres and you could pass by that way. So that's the first point.
15 Secondly, Your Honours, we had nothing to do with the Army of
16 Republika Srpska. We had our positions facing the BH Army, and it was
17 the BH Army attacking us, so that's what these lines show. We were under
18 siege, there was a siege, a line around a town, either joint forces --
19 but we had nothing to do with the Army of Republika Srpska. The fact
20 that the BH Army put itself in a position whereby it had two fronts and
21 two enemies, that was its choice. That's what it chose to do. And as I
22 have shown in some of the books that I wrote, they purchased weapons from
23 the Army of Republika Srpska and launched their operations against us.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] In terms of military technique,
25 that's important, because the indictment alleges that Mostar was
1 encircled. You challenge this?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Completely.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So you challenge this. But
4 from the purely military point of view, could any BH Army unit enter
5 East Mostar going through the mountains or through another route? Was it
6 feasible, without having to undergo HVO fire or without it being
7 impossible to enter East Mostar because the position would have been held
8 by the HVO?
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] From the documents that we have
10 presented here, you were able to see that from the direction of Sarajevo
11 and Central Bosnia, from Jablanica, we had Zuka coming into Mostar, and
12 with the Neretva Operation 93, they brought in reinforcements, they
13 brought in weapons and ammunition, and that an operation which according
14 to what Sefer Halilovic said, which was the first large-scale military
15 operation undertaken by the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina over an area of
16 200 kilometres of the front from Uskoplje to South Mostar, they brought
17 in two or three corps and had a complete artillery force and infantry
18 force and deployed their units. And I'm going to prove that and show you
19 that beyond a shadow of a doubt.
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Let's have an IC number for the
21 last map, Registrar, please.
22 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honour, the last map shall be given
23 Exhibit IC1006. Thank you, Your Honours.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Let's break now. It's quarter
25 to 4.00. Let's break for 20 minutes.
1 --- Recess taken at 3.48 p.m.
2 --- On resuming at 4.11 p.m.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The court is back in session.
4 Please proceed, Mr. Kovacic.
5 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
6 I think that General Praljak wanted to discuss the following map,
7 and that is 0047 [as interpreted], the IC number, 00427.
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Shall I put it on the ELMO?
9 Perhaps it will be easier that way. I've already shown this map.
10 These are the attack operations launched by the BH Army [indicates],
11 and they were known as Neretva -- under the name Neretva-93, and these
12 operations, as we've already said many times before, they began with
13 the -- well, they began in Konjic after the fall of Bugojno, when there
14 was a fierce attack from the direction of Uskoplje towards Rama, and then
15 the whole line flared up. And then they made a breakthrough, both in the
16 south around Blagaj, at around the 13th of August, 1993, that was, and
17 then later on breakthroughs towards Hum Hill. And we read excerpts from
18 the commander of Sector South. What was his name? Anyway, I'll be
19 coming back to that later on. And they came to this area which you can't
20 see on this map, but it's to within 12 kilometres of Siroki Brijeg, they
21 broke their way through in the direction of Vrde and there was very heavy
22 fighting in that area for several months, actually 2.5 months.
23 So the BH Army, according to clear-cut stands, from what the
24 commander said and the chief of the Main Staff of the BH Army
25 Sefer Halilovic said and Rasim Delic, it was quite clear -- or, rather,
1 they explained these operations in detail, very clearly, so I need not
2 say any more about them, just to say that they described what they wanted
3 to achieve, what kind of operation they launched, what their object was,
4 and how it all ended, what the outcome was.
5 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
6 Q. Thank you, General. Now, if there are no questions, I'd like to
7 move on to the next area which in the binder is topic number 9, and the
8 title is "Snipers in Mostar." General, I'm sure you can tell us a great
9 deal about that. It is topic number 8, not 9, "Snipers in Mostar" then,
10 and I'm sure you can tell us about that because you were there, you saw
11 what was going on, and so on and so forth.
12 A. There are various definitions of snipers, but in the military sense
13 it's quite clear that a sniper is every military rifle with optic sights,
14 which are used to draw the target closer –- the lenses are used
15 to see the target clearly. Now, in professional armies, you
16 choose a sniper from thousands of candidates, one or two men. Have you to
17 take into account the humidity of the air, the speed of the wind and so on
18 for a sniper -- for a sharpshooter to be effective when targeting his target.
19 Now, in the area, various observers referred to all kinds of
20 shooting as sniper fire, and so there was a general area in Mostar that
21 was referred to that way, and I claim that the examples put forward by
22 the Prosecutor here, which I challenged, I claim that the 13 cases here
23 could have been wounded in every other way, but not in the way the expert
24 witness testified about. That is absolutely incorrect. I won't
25 challenge the fact that some soldiers did have rifles with optic sights,
1 but I will deny the fact that I or any of my commanders in any way
2 whatsoever not only did not issue an order, but every time, in every
3 conversation, they banned any shooting where civilians were concerned, in
4 the direction of civilians. I cannot exclude all possibilities that --
5 more possibility that in a town that was divided, where you had
6 residential buildings, high-rises and so on, I cannot say that some
7 unknown person could have shot someone, but what I do claim is this:
8 From all the photographs that I showed you, in view of the configuration
9 of the terrain and the lines of the HVO, there were very few
10 possibilities -- there were very few areas from which this could be done.
11 Of course, the positions that were described by the expert witness in
12 South Mostar or up there on that building in the center of town where he
13 claims the shooting came from, it wasn't possible to hit people who were
14 described in those cases. That's my first point.
15 Secondly, never, during the conflict between the BH Army and the
16 HVO, did I ever receive information from anyone about the existence of
17 any sniper nest whatsoever. Now, the fact that people sitting in APCs
18 heard shooting and then said that they were fired at by snipers, that
19 goes against the grain of logic, because if you're in an APC, you can't
20 hear very much, and if you hear shooting, you can't say where the
21 shooting came from or what calibre was used, especially as you can use
22 silencers or not silencers when shooting, but the bullets have the same
23 sound whether you're shooting from a weapon with an optic sight or not.
24 So you can't differentiate between the sound of bullets coming from those
1 Q. Thank you very much. We might as well move on to our next topic.
2 This is language, the Croatian language in Bosnia and Herzegovina
3 indictment proposes a special theory on this. What have you got to say
4 on this, General?
5 A. I don't know exactly. I think this was something that Heidegger
6 said that language was the house of being. Or, I don’t know, that at the
7 beginning was the word, as stated in the Bible. Language is the very
8 essence of human existence or survival.
9 There is one thing that I would like to tell the Chamber. Back in the days
10 when we were young, in our area there was some people who were deaf and
11 dumb. They were dumb because they were deaf, but for that reason, especially
12 in rural areas, almost without exception, they were also retarded. Why?
13 Because the human brain cannot shape itself if there is no communication.
14 The child, for example, is deaf. That must be diagnosed at an early age
15 and there must be communication that is established with this child in
16 another way in order to develop the child's brain potential and for the
17 child to become a fully rational human being.
18 Many examples are known, and if you look at any psychology
19 textbook, will you come across a great many of those. Many examples are
20 described where a child, for example, grew up with a she-wolf or a
21 chimpanzee. Even in those conditions, the child will make it or will
22 survive, even though it will be retarded and will not live past the age
23 of 30. Even the animal screams and the language of anthropoid wolves is
24 sufficient to stimulate a minimum brain activity which then provides for
25 survival. If a child is left with no communication, even with the best
1 possible care, no communication would leave a child to die. And this is
2 also something you can find in those textbooks, because the child would
3 not develop the ability for its brain to govern the biological functions
4 of the body, once these functions outgrow the early instincts. All of
5 this tells us that the brain can be structured only through language, and
6 that is why every nation sees language as the very foundation of its
8 Likewise, we have many descriptions of prisons and gulags, the
9 French Guiana, for example, where the people suffered, and the horrible
10 conditions for 30 or 40 years.
11 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I'm sorry. With all respect, Mr. Praljak,
12 you're talking as an expert, and you're here as a witness. This is
13 nothing that you have observed. That's something that you have learned,
14 and we have also learned it, and we have also thoughts about it and could
15 say things about it. You're asked to speak about facts that have some
16 relevance to this case, and not to language in general. There is no
17 allegation that anyone was deprived of language.
18 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I would just like to
19 refer to a Chamber ruling dated the 21st of April, 2009, in the Perisic
20 trial. I won't take up any time for this or go into any detail. I'll
21 just quote the title. [In English] "... for Prosecution witness
22 Miodrag Starcevic."
23 [Interpretation] The decision is public, and I'll just read a
24 single sentence from paragraph 11, the last sentence, quoting the
25 Karemera case:
1 [In English] "Factual witnesses can also express opinions, so
2 long as they emanate from personal experience."
3 [Interpretation] I think as soon as we've seen the general's CV,
4 it becomes clear that he can talk about this from his own experience,
5 given his education, given his knowledge, given his qualifications.
6 I think he's perfectly qualified to talk about the subject. Thank you.
7 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I'm sorry, I strongly disagree. This is a
8 different case you're talking about. We want to hear things that are in
9 some way related to the indictment, and so far what Mr. Praljak has said
10 about language has no connection to the indictment at all. So please,
11 Mr. Praljak, limit yourself to speaking about what is of some relevance
12 to this case.
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, Mr. Kovacic. Mr. Praljak,
14 I do share my colleague's view. I've just read your filing on English.
15 It's under tab 9. It is indeed interesting, but this does not respond to
16 the indictment. In the indictment, it is alleged that there was
17 Croatisation in Herzegovina
18 is interesting. The accused should tell us, No, that did not happen as
19 alleged in the indictment by the Prosecutor, and you can provide
20 examples. We've heard witnesses on this already.
21 It would be much more useful for you and more interesting to do
22 that than to go into a theory on language that we are aware of. Of
23 course, any human being has a language, but that was not alleged in the
24 indictment. You are accused or charged, together with the other accused,
25 with setting up in Herceg-Bosna an entire system through which you
1 Croatisised [as interpreted] the language. Of course, you can meet the
2 allegation by providing examples because the Trial Chamber will have to
3 rule on that, saying yes, or no, or it happened not as alleged by the
4 Prosecutor but as said by you; but you have to provide evidence for that,
5 whilst now we are in a very general realm that does not further your
6 case. You may say that now, but the Trial Chamber together, all the
7 Judges, wanted to tell you that right now.
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I understand. I understand,
9 Your Honours. I was just trying to point out the importance for a people
10 of something like this. It is the French of all peoples who are famous
11 for being fond of their language. I don't understand, in the indictment,
12 what is suggested by the phrase "the Croatisation of language." To speak
13 Croatian is no Croatisation. Croats speak Croatian. Serbs speak
14 Serbian. In France
15 someone as something.
16 At the time, the official language in Bosnia-Herzegovina was Serbo-
17 Croatian. It's that simple. The Croats did not agree to that. I, myself,
18 don't agree. I have never agreed to Serbo-Croatian language. There is no
19 such thing as Serbo-Croatian. It's tantamount to glossing over and trying
20 to eradicate my own national identity. This is an artificial language that
21 was created in order to create a super-nationalist institute which was in
22 the service of a very harmful policy. I can't put it any other way.
23 So there's this aggressor speaking Serbo-Croatian attacking a
24 state, destroying a state, killing its people. In a situation like that,
25 to expect us to speak Serbo-Croatian is a contradiction in terms. It is
1 an irrational statement or assertion. I won't speak Serbo-Croatian. I
2 will speak Croatian. I have every right to speak Croatian. I'm not
3 saying that the French should not be speaking French, that the Serbs
4 should not be speaking Serbian, or indeed that the Bosniaks or the
5 Muslims should not be speaking Bosniak, which by the way at the time they
6 did not even call that.
7 Now, the Prosecutor claims that they felt in some way offended.
8 What does that mean, to feel offended? If I assert the right to speak my
9 own language, in my own language, causing someone else an offence, this
10 is a dangerous theory. What I state here is that, needless to say, the
11 Germans felt harmed by the Jews, so they killed 6 million Jews. What
12 does it mean, feeling harmed or offended? The law does not recognise the
13 felling of offence or harm. If you feel offended because I speak
14 Croatian in Croatia
15 That is how I was trying to show how important language is. We
16 used our own money in those schools, and I'm saying "we," it's not just
17 me, it's "we," at the time when we were supposed to speak -- well, just
18 imagine this. You have French schools in World War II, and imagine
19 someone had introduced Germano-French as the language of instruction in
20 these schools, and some people wanted to speak French but they saw those
21 people as violating the national feelings of Germans or a third person
22 actually has no language to call their own. The Bosniaks were free to
23 speak in their own language. They were free to be taught in their own
24 language, in peril, especially where the subjects involved a call for
25 that sort of thing, such as, for example, their literature, their
1 language, I would stand for that, I would fight for that. I did then,
2 and I still would. I don't want to see my rights jeopardised, but I
3 don't want another's feelings to put my own rights at risk. That is the
4 essence of the problem.
5 You see, the indictment, what the OTP wrote there, the Croats in
7 getting themselves killed while fighting people who were speaking the
8 Serbian language. You really must have some very horrible feelings in
9 order to claim anything like that. It is an unquestionable and
10 inviolable right of people to speak their own language. They have no
11 right to challenge anyone else's right to use their own language.
12 Your Honours, you know all the examples. I won't be listing
13 them. You know the Quebec
14 There were three languages being spoken. Your Honour Judge Trechsel can
15 choose his language, the language in which he will express himself, and
16 no one may feel any offence about it.
17 JUDGE PRANDLER: You're making a lecture. We do not need your
18 lecturing. We would like to know about the facts. Do you have any facts
19 by which you will refute the indictment's position or not? If not, then
20 we can go on forward. Thank you.
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, Your Honour Judge Prandler, I
22 did refute these assertions in the indictment. The Croats never imposed
23 the Croatian language on anyone. They didn't stand in the way of
24 Radio Mostar the way people spoke. The Muslim speaker was using
25 whichever language he preferred to use. I offered incontrovertible
1 evidence about the way the schools were organised by the Republic of
3 Bosniaks themselves ended up calling their own language the Bosnian
4 language. There were those experimental schools in Croatia. All this
5 was bankrolled by the Republic of Croatia
6 syllabus in those schools that wrote in the Bosnian language. All the
7 grammar had not been written up by this point. I'm not trying to lecture
8 anyone. All I'm saying is it's entirely counter-intuitive, absurd, to
9 have a right like that, an inalienable right defined as Croatisation in
10 the indictment. I don't understand what the word means, and there is not
11 a single living soul in the world who can convince me that is actually
12 means anything at all. Croatisation, what does that mean? What language
13 were we supposed to be speaking? Serbo-Croatian?
14 All right, I will stop right there. I will speak in
15 Serbo-Croatian in a war in which I am being killed and massacred? I
16 refused, before the war, whenever I could. When I wrote, I wrote in the
17 Croatian language. Therefore, this is crystal clear. I'm not going to
18 be giving a lecture on this.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Praljak, we spent a lot of
20 hours on this issue. Unfortunately, I do not have before me the
21 Constitution, but your lawyer might help me on that one, but I believe
22 that in the Constitution of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina - this
23 is from memory - there was a provision that gave every constitutive
24 nation, the Serbs, the Croats, the Muslims, the right, the possibility of
25 using their own language. Had these events not occurred, how would you
1 have settled the language problem? You were a general in the Republic of
2 Bosnia-Herzegovina and you were supposed to use your own language, but
3 the other general, who would have been a Muslim, let's say
4 General Halilovic, he was going to answer to you in his language. How
5 can you settle that issue? Or in order to understand each other, are you
6 going to both use Serbo-Croat?
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, the essence of the
8 language is not understanding. Unfortunately, we can't -- for example,
9 there is a much smaller difference between Swedish and Norwegian than
10 between Croatian and Serbian. Obviously, I have a dictionary of both
11 Croatian and Serbian, here in all differences between the language in a
12 grammatical sense and in terms of syntax, there are major differences.
13 Understanding is just part of what a language is about. I read
14 the Cyrillic script as well as I read the Latin script. I know Serbian
15 literature better than most Serbs. That is completely undisputed, and I
16 understand the Serbian language. The Bosnian Constitution did not say
17 that each people should use their own language because the prescription
18 was for the language to be called either Serbo-Croatian or Croat or
19 Serbian. Needless to say, General Pasalic wrote in any language he
20 chose. I understood that, and I would never raise any objection about
21 that, him choosing a language in which he wrote. There is no doubt about
22 that. No objections were ever raised, and every time there was
23 communication between us, orders coming and going, we always understood
24 all of that.
25 All I'm talking about here is a name, a simple name. This is a
1 fundamental right, a fundamental right for someone to call his or her own
2 language by a chosen name.
3 At the time, the Muslims, who later called themselves the
4 Bosniaks, had no name for their language, as simple as that. Yet, until
5 they found one, they wanted us to refer to that language as
6 Serbo-Croatian or Croat or Serbian.
7 Before the war, during the war, I believed and I still believe
8 that no claims can be made for anyone to do anything like that. Later,
9 they said that their language would now be called Bosniak, and they had
10 every right to be taught the Bosniak language, but all we wanted was
11 this: When we wrote something, and even nowadays that is the way it is
12 in Bosnia-Herzegovina, all of the documents must be written up in three
13 languages. I'm not sure if that applies in Switzerland, or in Canada
14 wherever, but that's what it was like over there.
15 Unfortunately, this is not practiced, the principal being there
16 are more of us than of you, you don't understand the language. That
17 would entail a great expense to use up so much paper. Let's not change
18 the grammar or the syntax. Let's just leave it as it is, because this is
19 widely understood. I consider that to be unacceptable, and I would
20 never, never settle for that. It was difficult for me to even settle for
21 this, for the name of the language being used as it is here in the
22 Tribunal, the three names, and I stand by my position. It is simply not
23 possible for someone to include in the indictment the following
24 statement: that anyone can be harmed by anything like this, that we
25 banned anyone from speaking whatever they chose. They published
1 newspapers and magazines, and that's something that has been shown here,
2 and they have their own radio in which they spoke in their own language.
3 We tried to ban that. We impose anything in that sense, or anyone else,
4 that would have been defined as Croatisation and that would have
5 constituted a violated of someone else's right, but as far as I know, the
6 HVO, no civilian, no military structure authority -- the thought had
7 never occurred to anyone at all, not even occurred to anyone.
8 MR. STRINGER: Counsel, I apologise for the interruption.
9 Mr. President, if I could just have a few brief words.
10 For the last 12 to 15 minutes, I think, in our submission, the
11 general has actually addressed himself to the issue of language as it
12 relates to the indictment. He didn't begin that way, and that was noted
13 by the President some time ago. The problem is that, the way we
14 understand the time is being kept, this last 15 minutes or so is probably
15 not going on the Defence time, and it's for the Trial Chamber to decide
16 whether or not it should, but I think just during the short time begun
17 today and yesterday, what's emerging is General Praljak is giving
18 extremely long answers, addressing himself very much towards comments and
19 questions of the Trial Chamber, and if we continue to keep time in the
20 way that we are up to this point, we will never finish this direct
21 examination. We're running at about a nine-week pace for the direct
22 examination at this point, because we're getting about an hour or less of
23 time. And I don't know what the answer is. It may be that the time
24 given responding to the Trial Chamber's questions should be included. I
25 don't know, and I'm sure counsel would have his own position on that, but
1 it seems to me that the pattern that's emerging is one that is not going
2 to work within any remotely reasonable time-frame for this direct
3 examination to be concluded.
4 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I would not like to
5 address this at any great length; maybe just one sentence in response to
6 my learned friend's words, although there was no concrete proposal; there
7 was just criticism to the effect that the system that we are applying,
8 saying that the system is not the best and the most desirable.
9 However, in this courtroom, you, Your Honours, particularly, you
10 cannot consider any changes in the rules of the game that you,
11 yourselves, prescribed at the very outset, before the game even started.
12 I believe that I don't have to provide any further explanation as to how
13 absurd this would be. Once the rules are set, then the participants in
14 the game should abide by the rules, unless they are changed, of course.
15 However, rules are never changed in the middle of a game. And this is
16 all for me on that topic.
17 Unfortunately, there was an intervention even before that, and I
18 would like to answer His Honour Judge Antonetti. It is true that there
19 is a document in e-court under 1D10236, which is the Constitution of the
20 Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. You remembered the document well,
21 and we're talking about Article 4 of the Constitution. And it is true
22 what Mr. Praljak is saying, and that is that that article envisages
23 Serbo-Croatian and Croat and Serbian as two official languages in Bosnia
24 and the Ikavian dialect as the way the languages are pronounced. The
25 Croatian variant would be the Ikavian variant. Let's not expand the
1 subject of language any further. No, I don't have anything else to add.
2 Thank you very much.
3 And the number that is being suggested to me, let me just repeat
4 the number.
5 [In English] If I may just repeat the number --
6 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Please do so.
7 MR. KOVACIC: -- for the transcript, 1D01236.
8 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you. I think the Chamber must react to
9 what Mr. Stringer has brought forward.
10 I do not envisage, and I'm sure that my colleagues agree, any
11 change in rules, but we have to distinguish two things. One is questions
12 asked by Judges, and they are time which is not counted towards the
13 Defence. Another thing is Judges recalling the witness that he is to
14 speak as a witness and not as an expert or something else. And then if
15 he continues, of course that is not answering a question by the Judges,
16 but it is continuing of his testimony. I think that is completely in
17 conformity with the rules, and I even seem to realise that you also agree
18 with this interpretation.
19 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] I absolutely agree, Your Honour.
20 However, there is a problem there. Who will be the arbiter of that?
21 Who's going to take the role of judge in such a case? Are you prepared
22 to take the stopwatch in your hand, and every time the accused opens his
23 mouth, you say, Stop, and say to the representative of the Registry, Up
24 to here, this is us, and from there it is them? I am exaggerating,
25 Your Honours. I'm sure you understand that, but this would take us too
1 far. The rules are what they are. However, if you are of the opinion
2 that the accused is going too far, you have all the prerogatives to stop
3 the situation at that moment, as you did just a moment ago, and you have
4 the right to warn the accused and to stop him sometime. It may be
5 premature, because an introduction serves to open an issue, and sometimes
6 it's not. The however, this is the way the cookie crumbles in the
7 courtroom, and since you have opened the issue, I strongly object to any
8 modification of the rules that exist. You can always control every
9 speaker in the courtroom at every moment. You can tell me or anybody
10 else, This is enough. Sit down and shut up.
11 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I'm happy to state and to see that we are in
12 agreement, Mr. Kovacic, and I even agree that there may be delicate
13 questions, but I think as a rule we can trust our Registrar, who does a
14 wonderful job on this. We will perhaps have to control it, and you too,
15 and in case that the suspicion comes up that there are problems, then we
16 could take it up again. But I think it's premature now to see more
17 problems than are actually at issue, and I think we can continue now.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Kovacic --
19 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] With all due respect,
20 Your Honours --
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Kovacic, let me cut to the
22 chase. My colleague, my fellow Judge, was absolutely right to mention
23 all this, and I fully agree with him, but you just said something. In
24 Article 4 of the Constitution, it is recognised that the citizens of
25 Bosnia-Herzegovina can use the two languages, either Serbo-Croat or
1 Croatian-Serb, and if I understood you right, the Ikavian language, which
2 means that in Mostar as well as in Herzegovina
3 Constitution of the BiH, had the possibility of speaking Croat, the
4 Croatian language. Is this what you're telling us?
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Not under the Constitution. This
6 should have been the same language, one and the same, in two different
7 forms. In schools where there was a majority Serb representation, then
8 the teaching would be in the Serbian, and in Siroki Brijeg and Grude,
9 the teaching would be in Croatian. There was no possibility to do
10 it legally without being subject to punishment. It was not possible for
11 a teacher to say, for example, to children, Children, you're now going to
12 be taught Croatian. That was not even possible in Croatia proper. The
13 term used there was "Croatian literally language," a language used by
14 novelists and writers.
15 I started talking about the problem of Croatian language on
16 account of which people ended up in war started from the declaration on
17 the Croatian literary language that was written in the 1970s by
18 intellectuals who were against unification. I reduced my speech to a
19 minimum. You cannot know things. I don't want to pretend that I'm an
20 expert, but I know a thing or two about the language.
21 At the moment when an aggression started, the people that were
22 exposed to the aggression could not speak or use the language of the
23 aggressor. They had their own language where they called Croatian, and
24 when that was introduced into school and when that was being used, then
25 it was the beginning of --
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Just a minute, Mr. Praljak.
2 Let's not spend too much time on this. Your answer to the question, of
3 course this time is not deducted from your time, but my question was of a
4 legal nature. This is what I wanted to know: With respect to the
5 Constitution of Bosnia-Herzegovina, was it possible for Croats in Mostar
6 to speak another language than that provided for in the Constitution?
7 That's all. You said, No. Perfect, you answered.
8 Mr. Kovacic, please resume.
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Mr. Kovacic.
11 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
12 I just wanted to add to this, since the document has been
13 mentioned under 1D01236, Article 4, we're talking about the Constitution,
14 that we should bear in mind that that Constitution was passed by the
15 Presidency of the former Bosnia-Herzegovina on the 24th of February,
16 1993. Even then, when the war was raging, what was being done was a
17 copying of the Constitution norm that existed during the existence of the
18 former Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia.
19 Maybe I should ask the General just one more question since we've
20 been talking about the language at such great length.
21 Q. General, you mentioned on several occasions that the Bosnian
22 language did not exist at the time. Do you maybe remember when the first
23 reference of a Bosnian language was made at public gatherings or
24 professional gatherings or when the term started becoming used at any
25 significant rate?
1 A. It was a long, long time ago, but I would not go into that
2 because that would --
3 Q. Just a moment, General.
4 A. It was a fellow citizen of the honourable Judge Prandler, Kalaj,
5 who was the governor of Bosnia-Herzegovina, who tried to invent the
6 Bosnian language, but that was connected with the annexation of
7 Bosnia-Herzegovina to Austro-Hungary, and it is a broad area. But the
8 essence of the matter is this: You lawyers should agree whether the
9 Presidency could pass the Constitution, which Presidency could pass the
10 Constitution, which Presidency can pass a Constitution? The Bosnian
11 language. The Bosnian language that was first introduced into the
12 territorial schools for the children who were Bosniaks and Muslims in the
13 Republic of Croatia
14 Q. Very well. Thank you very much.
15 A. -- because I believe in order to give them the right to use their
16 own language as a people.
17 Q. Thank you very much. I believe that we have explained things
18 very well. If there are no further questions, I would like to move on to
19 the next topic, which is number 10 in this binder, and it is the issue of
20 presidential transcripts. A lot has been said in this courtroom about
21 that. We've seen a lot of them also.
22 You have your position on that, General. Can you please tell us
23 something about that? Can you tell us what you know about the
24 presidential transcripts?
25 A. Although the integral reading of the text which we call
1 presidential transcripts does not reveal anything mean dishonourable
2 politically unacceptable unless some people stirring and insisting on
3 their ideas. However, these conversations were taped secretly, and the
4 participants did not know that they were being taped. To my question,
5 this was testified by the Prosecution Witness Manolic.
6 Second of all, what was said was abbreviated from the
7 transcription from speech into text. There was the possibility and it
8 did happen that there was a wrong match between the person who said a
9 certain word and the text attached to that person. For example, I would
10 be ascribed the words of Mr. Karnavas, Mr. Karnavas would be ascribed the
11 words of somebody else. This is because people spoke without introducing
12 themselves. I would, for example, say something, and I did not precede
13 my words by saying, This is Praljak speaking, and then the words who
14 transcribed had to speculate who it was, whether it was Praljak,
15 Karnavas, Kovacic, or whoever.
16 Number 2, Franjo Tudjman, the president of the state, did that in
17 his office because he was a historian, and he hoped that he would live
18 longer, and he wanted to use the documents for his historical synthesis.
19 The transcripts arrived at a court, in my layman terms, in a legally
20 invalid way pursuant to a private decision on the part of President Mesic
21 who gave the transcripts to the journalists and told him, Do whatever you
22 want to do with them.
23 Furthermore, speech within a family, speech in closed session,
24 speech at free seminars, of free universities, speech in editorial rooms
25 in newspapers, speech at closed sessions of judges, are all speeches that
1 imply the freedom of speech as a thesis, as a possibility, and sometimes
2 this is contrary -- what is said is contrary to what the person really
3 believes. This is examining all the possibilities, speech as a possible
4 provocation, speech as a gain. That is what is done at universities.
5 This is a freedom which doesn't imply that what is said is necessarily
6 what you actually mean, that it reflects your position. It has never
7 been so.
8 I'm going to skip the theories of the language by Saussure and
9 Chomsky. I'm going to skip all that. However, when such a text which
10 was transcribed and cannot be authorised in the spoken utters, the words
11 are often accompanied by gestures, laughter, even a sarcasm; there is
12 grovelling up to somebody, there is acted anger, and when all this is
13 reduced to the essence, what we arrive at is a text that may mean
14 absolutely different from what is actually said.
15 I remember at a session -- at a meeting, Gojko Susak had just
16 returned from Canada
17 that something is being quoted, that something is in inverted
18 commas [indicates], and, for example, he would say that Nika was an
19 excellent chef yesterday, and then he would show with his hands that her
20 dinner was not actually good, whereas in the text what you would read was
21 that Nika was an excellent chef and that she prepared a very good dinner.
22 That's why I'm saying that if the raw text would reflect the possibility
23 of what the essence of the speech was, there would be no theatre, you
24 wouldn't be able to have Moliere’s The Miser, or Don Juan, or Hamlet or King
25 Lear. They could only be played in one and only way. That's why the actors
1 play,that's why the directors direct. They take the raw text and they
2 produce those texts in hundreds of different plays, giving the words
3 multiple meanings, and that's without any further adieu when it comes to me
4 to explain what I actually said and what I meant at such meetings.
5 I would like to say that you cannot transcripts -- you cannot
6 judge the transcripts in such a way, especially not the details there of.
7 In my layman's opinion, I don't think that this can be a piece of
8 evidence in any trial.
9 Q. General, when we're talking about transcripts, I believe that two
10 questions would be in order.
11 You have looked at a lot of these transcripts; if no others, then
12 at least those that the Prosecutor has submitted. Just say "yes" or
13 "no." Did you find, in any of the so-called presidential transcripts, at
14 the beginning of such a transcript as is customary in our lands, that
15 there is a clause that the minutes from the last session are being
16 adopted? Have you ever seen that in any of the transcripts?
17 A. No.
18 Q. Thank you very much. General, you also mentioned recording. Is
19 it true that there was audio-recording in most of the situations and that
20 there was no video-recording at the same time?
21 A. I have absolutely no idea. I never saw videotapes. I never saw
22 anyone videotaping me or audiotaping me. And nobody ever told me that I
23 was being filmed or recorded, and nobody ever offered up any text for
24 authorisation. Now, I know what authorisation means, when you give a
25 statement for the press and then you authorise it. And I have an example
1 with respect to an error, a mistake. Well, if you want to ask me about
2 that, but not at the expense of my time; that is to say, how mistakes are
3 made when you convey somebody's words without putting them into context.
4 Q. Well, one more question, and we'll come to that when we look at
5 the individual transcripts, but let me ask you this now: Do you know
6 that there is no longer any original audiotapes from the sessions, that
7 they don't exist anymore?
8 A. As far as I know --
9 MR. STRINGER: I'm going to object, Mr. President. The question
10 is a leading question.
11 MR. KOVACIC: I admit, I admit. I admit that it is misleading,
12 but it is a notorious fact in Croatia
13 MR. STRINGER: That's an even greater reason not to allowing
14 leading questions.
15 MR. KOVACIC: Okay. I think that I don't have to rephrase
16 question, because Mr. Praljak is smart enough to provide --
17 Q. [Interpretation] Yes. Finish your answer, Mr. Praljak, with just
18 one sentence, if you would.
19 A. No, I won't be led. I don't know that, but from relatively
20 reliable sources, from a friend of my son's, Miroslav Tudjman, Tudjman's
21 son, that tapes were erased, so there weren't enough tapes and things
22 were erased and taped over. So that's what I know about that.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Praljak, I note a
24 contradiction in what you've just said.
25 Earlier, when your counsel asked you why all this was taped, you
1 said a couple of things. You said that you didn't know, that these were
2 secret tapes, but you also added, to justify the taping of the
3 conversations, that Mr. Tudjman was a historian and that for history he
4 wanted to put all this on record. But this being the case, and of course
5 one can understand Mr. Tudjman's approach, if he wants to keep all this
6 for the record for history, he's going to make sure that everything said
7 will be recorded for historians, for later -- for the future, and he
8 wants to make sure that everything is absolutely faithful to what was
9 actually said. And now you're just telling us that according to
10 Mr. Tudjman's son, who is a professor - there's many professors, but
11 there's another professor that we're learning about - so according to
12 this new professor, he said that they were erased -- that they were
13 erased, so there's a contradiction. So why would Mr. Tudjman want to
14 keep a record for history while, at the same time, erasing the tapes as
15 they are recorded? Do you have an explanation?
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I said all this on an
17 assumption, because Miroslav Tudjman doesn't know exactly whether these
18 tapes were erased or not. This is something he heard about later on or
19 had to surmise. It's his conjecture. According to what he said, it was
20 erased, but it's not contradictory for the following reasons.
21 At that point in time, we -- well, the president -- we weren't a
22 rich country. Of course, tapes are not very expensive, but we didn't use
23 the small cassette tapes. It was the larger tapes that were used on a
24 professional tape-recorder, the Nagra or whatever, to ensure that sound
25 was good. It's those tapes that were expensive, and he probably wanted
1 to have things written down. Now, I'm just guessing here, but I know
2 that you can't look at it as if you had a French budget to spend. There
3 was very little money for everything. There was a shortage of money in
4 every area, because there was a war on. Later on, I will present the
5 data about the unemployed, about how much the army cost.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] It is a bit surprising. You
7 might be right. I don't know. But if I compare this to what we know of
8 East Germany, where citizens' conversations were taped, and in the
9 archives all these wire-taps were kept, I assume that in Croatia there
10 were also wire-tapped conversations that were kept, and I guess in the BH
11 also there were wire-tapped telephone conversations that were kept. So
12 if you keep these kind of records, why not keep the transcripts of
13 high-level meetings between Mr. Tudjman, his ministers, and eminent
14 political personalities? Why erase all that? I really don't understand
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I did not claim that
17 I know any of this for certain. I don't know how much tapping there was.
18 I do know how much there was in the former Yugoslavia, but one thing I
19 know for sure. On Croatian Television, for example, and it filmed under
20 wartime conditions at the time, tapes were erased, the ordinary
21 better-type tapes. Very important material was erased because there
22 simply wasn't enough money to buy new tapes with, and I know that for a
23 fact. And, among other things, the Kodak negative that I mentioned
24 earlier on that I had received and sent to Mostar, I received it from
1 thousand marks. It was a great deal of money at the time, and you
2 couldn't get that money easily. It wasn't readily available. So what
3 I'm saying about television, I say that with every certainty. As to the
4 rest, I can't know.
5 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, we didn't think it
6 was necessary to put exhibits of that type on the 65 ter list. But in
7 the Kordic and Cerkez trial, the Court was shown statements by three
8 witnesses as to the circumstances of how the audiotapes were used, how
9 they were transcribed, how the tapes were erased, and then finally how
10 the electronic records on the computer were erased. So I say with full
11 responsibility, on the basis of exhibits before this Tribunal - I'm not
12 testifying, I'm just providing you with this information and you can look
13 up those testimonies - that ultimately the Prosecution showed
14 transcriptions and photocopies of transcripts of goodness knows which
15 generation in order. That's all I want to say, and if necessary I shall
16 ask that the exhibits and the witness statements from Kordic and Cerkez
17 be presented here, but I don't think that will be necessary.
18 Q. Now, General, I think we can move on to the next area, which is
19 topic number 12 in our binder, an important topic, and it is the question
20 of the assistance of the Republic of Croatia
21 A. I claim that all humanitarian convoys reached their destination.
22 All humanitarian convoys for Muslims, Croats, and for all others who
23 lived in the non-occupied part of Bosnia-Herzegovina passed through the
24 HZ-HB with permission. All those convoys were loaded up in one of the
25 Croatian ports, organised by some of the 270 registered humanitarian
1 organisations in the Republic of Croatia
2 And I also claim that as representatives of these humanitarian
3 organisations, and I know this for a fact personally, that through the --
4 through Croatia
5 and also from Western countries and Westerners converted to Islam, passed
6 through that way, and all of them entered with regular international
7 passes of humanitarian workers.
8 And I also claim that nobody in those areas were ever hungry.
9 They never went hungry, except for people in Sarajevo for some of the
10 time. And I also claim that weapons were smuggled, as was food,
11 medicines whose validity had expired. There was narcotics smuggling,
12 cigarette smuggling, and alcohol. Hazardous waste was deposited. And
13 all this led to the disapproval of the fighters and the occasional
14 unauthorised stopping of the convoys. Every such case was resolved and
15 the convoy reached its destination. That is true for the eastern part of
16 Mostar during the BiH attacks on the HVO.
17 One of the convoys that was stopped in the attack of the 30th of
18 June, well, there was an interruption for a time, as far as I know,
19 but -- and there was also another interruption when the BH Army launched
20 an all-out attack in Blagaj and the south of Mostar in 1993, and I
21 personally several times insisted that the persons be punished who would
22 stop a convoy, and that was quite normal in wartime conditions.
23 And also we were quite conscious of the fact that the convoys of
24 humanitarian aid were going to areas where there was a large population,
25 but they also went to the BH Army. Now, in what measure, I don't know,
1 and I don't know what the international war law says about stopping
2 convoys intended for the enemy army, and that civilians must be separated
3 from the army, and that the distribution of goods should be supervised.
4 But, anyway, all the convoys did get through, they all passed through.
5 There were rare cases in which they were interrupted, and everything came
6 in through Croatia
7 planes in the Sarajevo
8 So that's what I have to say on that topic.
9 Q. Now, for the benefit of the Trial Chamber, the question of aid
10 to -- from Croatia
11 A. May I just add one thing?
12 Q. Go ahead.
13 A. Never in the history of warfare did one people, like the Croats
14 in this case, help another people, that is to say, the people of
15 Bosnia-Herzegovina, and then they turned their army against the HVO, and
16 I claim that that was along with permission from Dr. Franjo Tudjman with
17 the knowledge of the Government of Croatia, and permission from them and
18 from Gojko Susak and the Minister of Internal Affairs Jarnjak and with
19 the knowledge and permission of Slobodan Praljak.
20 Never in the history of warfare did the commander of the HVO
21 allow a convoy of weapons to pass through to another army, the Army of
22 Bosnia-Herzegovina, and when that army, the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina,
23 used those weapons to attack the very people who brought those weapons
24 in. And as far as I know, this was permitted and approved by
25 Bruno Stojic and Milivoj Petkovic and Slobodan Praljak and
1 Valentin Coric, and I also know that the body called the HZ-HB, or let's
2 call it with a reservation, the government, led by Jadranko Prlic, never
3 opposed that. And I also claim that an action of that kind against one's own
4 people in every country anywhere in the world would have been characterized
5 as high treason and those persons would have ended up on the gallows.
6 What I want to tell the Judges is this, and we'll have a witness
7 to talk about that, not only about the conflict on the 9th of May and the
8 10th -- 30th of June, but after the conflict as well.
9 From the Republic of Croatia
10 BH Army, and in Zagreb
11 later on, we enabled those weapons to be packed together with tins of
12 food, and what actually happened was that those weapons in those convoys
13 were transported to the BH Army, that is to say, to their central base in
15 Now, if one of you were to give me your son and then I provide
16 weapons to someone who's going to kill your son, you can't envisage
17 anything more serious and graver than that, but the HVO did that. We
18 smuggled weapons against ourselves to enable the Army of
19 Bosnia-Herzegovina to defend itself in Tuzla, in the east in Gorazde, and
20 so on and so forth, and then quite certainly they used those same weapons
21 and pointed them at us, they used them against us. And that's what
22 witnesses have spoken about here.
23 We had a witness testifying on one occasion when he was English,
24 and we said, Yes, we gave weapons to both sides. What he meant was he
25 provided both Chiang Kai-Shek and Mao Zedong the weapons to fight each
1 other, mutually kill each other. But can imagine the French forces
2 giving weapons to Germany
3 leadership of Croatia
4 head, that did that.
5 Q. Thank you. So much about that the humanitarian convoys and one
6 of the forms of aid and assistance.
7 Now, for purposes of -- well, you were speaking generally about
8 all forms of aid from the Republic of Croatia
9 that was a general overview, but we'll take the specific instances later
10 on in due course when we come to topic 12 in our binder.
11 A. I think I've already told the Judges about this. My Defence team
12 gathered together documents relating to the aid and assistance from the
13 Republic of Croatia
14 and it has filled 92 binders. Those 92 binders were brought to The Hague
15 here, and I showed you photographs of those binders, and I couldn't bring
16 in 92 binders into the courtroom. They're all on CD-ROM and can be used.
17 Of course, in proceedings of this kind we cannot look at all the
18 documents in those 92 binders, and that's why I made a summary of those.
19 And I will provide the Court with that, and it says quite precisely how
20 many documents there are, what the documents are, and how many documents
21 are recorded in the book that I compiled.
22 We provided assistance in the form of weapons. We packed --
23 packaged those weapons in food supplies and loaded them up onto trucks,
24 UNHCR trucks. Units were set up in -- and sent to Bosnia-Herzegovina to
25 fight. There were training centres of the BH Army in Croatia. BH Army
1 pilots were trained in Croatia
2 existed in Croatia
3 point in time when the HVO allegedly attacked and expelled and so on and
4 so forth, together with Franjo Tudjman, as it said, at that point in time
5 the BH Army had logistic centres to collect weapons, to receive aid and
6 assistance, where barracks were placed at their disposal, and that's why
7 I said that large portions of the indictment are quite absurd, and the
8 world has never seen the likes.
9 Humanitarian organisations on the territory of the Republic of
11 port of Ploce
12 assistance, aid and assistance. And I don't want to repeat everything,
13 but, anyway, Croatia
14 Bosnia-Herzegovina. Croatia
15 pupils, Muslims, in their own language. They didn't call their language
16 that at the time. Anyway, there was cooperation in the field of sport.
17 For example, Croatia
18 to go to the Mediterranean Games, to attend the Mediterranean Games. So
19 all this evidence is contained in that book, and how can anyone say that
21 territory, and allows the sportsmen from that country to travel using the
22 money of the Republic of Croatia
23 training-grounds and then go to the Mediterranean Games, recognising that
24 Bosnia-Herzegovina was a Mediterranean country, whereas it only has the
25 small stretch around Neum, and then you call it Greater Croatia or
1 whatever? Certainly, we wouldn't have sent the sportsmen over there, if
2 you had plans of a different nature, whereas you lend international
3 dignity to them and you allow them to take part in these various games.
4 There was basketball competitions and so on and so forth.
5 Now, assistance to Bihac. It was not possible to keep Bihac
6 going without the efforts of the Croatian pilots and Muslim pilots. At
7 the beginning, there were certain routes that had been broken through,
8 and I took part in helping those young men out until some of them were
9 killed. I helped them carry the aid and assistance.
10 So the Republic of Croatia
11 occupied, when it was engaged in battle, when its economy and tourism had
12 completely been routed, invested all-out efforts, and if anybody were to
13 tell me that such a small country, under the given circumstances,
14 provided somebody else the assistance that Croatia provided, if you can
15 quote any example in history, then I'll be happy to say that I know
16 nothing, if you are able to say and claim that.
17 Q. We could say a great deal more about this, but General Praljak
18 will be offering more information on certain specific forms of assistance
19 at a date later on.
20 The next subject that we shall be touching upon is tab 13 in the
21 binder. I'm talking about what I think I shall rightly term the famous
22 Tudjman-Milosevic meeting in Karadjordjevo.
23 A. This is a fairy tale, a myth cooked up by a shady agent. We
24 shall be talking more about that, so I shall not speak about this now at
25 any great length, but please look at the map "Greater Serbia
1 Aspirations." I think it's right here. I will be showing all these
2 books. I'll be showing all the evidence, thousands and thousands of
3 pieces of evidence. It all points to one conclusion. The aspiration was
4 to create a Yugoslavia
5 be torn off.
6 Now, the logic eludes me. How would Franjo Tudjman think of
7 carving anything up within Bosnia-Herzegovina, dividing anything with
8 Milosevic? Milosevic wants a country all the way up to here [indicates],
9 that's what he's after, conditionally speaking. I'll get to speak more
10 about that later on. There was, I think, a total of 43 meetings between
11 the various Republican presidents after the breakup of Yugoslavia
12 Tudjman and Milosevic met a total of 43 times at these meetings and
13 conferences. 31 times out of these 43, Alija Izetbegovic was around.
14 There was a letter I handed over to the Chamber when they wanted to know
15 where the letter was from, and it states clearly Franjo, you will be
16 meeting Milosevic. I heard -- mind you, it says that I heard that he
17 will table a proposal for carving up Bosnia-Herzegovina to you. So the
18 Secret Service and everybody else, they had organised themselves already,
19 released this about rumour to the effect that Franjo would be carving
20 something up. It was a rumour that was circulated in a bid to prevent
21 the two statesmen from reaching any sort of helpful agreement.
22 How was it possible to carve up Bosnia-Herzegovina, and which
23 part of Bosnia and Herzegovina should have been annexed by Croatia
24 don't know. As the honourable Judge said, I did have a role to play
25 there. It wasn't a major role, but it was an important role, yet I never
1 had an inkling of anything like that, not in my wildest dreams.
2 Nevertheless, this was a myth perpetrated by powerful secret
3 services with certain powerful players involved. The myth is perpetuated
4 ad nauseam, and then everyone involved, and I will be presenting some
5 very specific arguments about this at a later stage, they were all saying
6 that this was entirely pointless and meaningless, that this was nonsense,
7 and then the most important thing, can you please tell me what the
8 consequences were of that agreement, all of the aid that we have seen
9 here in Croatia
11 And, Your Honours, you will see that as early as 1991,
12 Franjo Tudjman put an offer on the table to create a joint army, joint
13 armed forces. This was a proposal he tabled to Alija Izetbegovic through
14 his then high-ranking official Hamed Filipovic, and he wrote it down in
15 his own memoirs. This is all a bundle of lies and speculations that have
16 nothing whatsoever to do with reality.
17 In case you're interested, Josip Pecaric, an important
18 mathematician, I've got something about that here. He's one of the two
19 most important mathematicians as far as equations are concerned. And he
20 said, All right, this man, Milosevic, he must be insane. He had the
21 tanks, he had the cannons, and Tudjman had nothing at all. He had a
22 handful of rifles, rifles bought from Hungary for the police, and there
23 were people who bought some weapons on their own. And Milosevic comes up
24 to him, with all the military might at his disposal, and he says, Okay,
25 let's do a brotherly deal, 50:50, and carve it up. All right. This is
1 totally counter-intuitive, if you ask me. This is a meaningless topic,
2 scandalously stupid, and yet it is perpetuated on and on like that.
3 Thank you.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Praljak, I wanted to deal
5 with this later, but since you have just spoken about the division and
6 you said it was stupid, I listened to you and I looked at the map.
7 Unless I'm mistaken, I believe that part of Croatia had inhabitants of
8 Serbian origin. If there had been a division, as was said by the
9 Prosecutor, how do you think -- the issue of Serbs in Croatia, how would
10 that have been settled?
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I mean, Your Honour, you see, first
12 of all no -- nobody knows how they carved it up or where. All right,
13 I'll show it right here.
14 Most of the Serbs in Bosnia-Herzegovina lived around Banja Luka
15 and then to the east, that entire area, most of them. And then there's
16 the Muslim enclave around Bihac. The Muslims were there. And then
17 further up, across Croatia
18 Serbs living there. In terms of percentage, not too many, really. It
19 was the smallest group of Serbs. Most of the Croatian Serbs lived in
21 territorially speaking, this is what was termed the Krajina. All of the
22 rest was occupied by the Serbs. How should I show that --
23 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
24 Q. General, I think you should simply stand up.
25 [French on English channel]
1 [In English] Your Honour, even better, you got those on A3 format
2 maps, and maybe we can do that after the break. You can have the map,
3 and Praljak will explain this question.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, the time has come to have
5 a break, but Mr. Praljak, you fail to answer my question.
6 I started on the hypothesis that Tudjman and Milosevic divided
7 for themselves Bosnia and Herzegovina. Let us assume that the project
8 existed based on such a project. Here's my question: How would the
9 issue of Serbs in Krajina be settled? Would Tudjman have to accept that
10 the Krajina would go over to Belgrade
11 would be diminished, reduced? How could this have been done?
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, Your Honour, that is
13 precisely what I'm telling you. I have no idea. It defeats all logic.
14 It's entirely counter-intuitive. Franjo Tudjman never -- and maybe not
15 even then would have yielded a single inch of Croatia's territory without
16 the necessity of military defeat; nor would I have. I would have fought
17 on until I fell down. This is beyond all doubt, and it's also beyond all
18 reason, I'm afraid.
19 But there's something else, too. If someone wants to have --
20 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreters note, the interpreters can't hear
21 Mr. Praljak because he's too far away from the microphones.
22 MR. STRINGER: Excuse me. They're saying that they can't hear
23 the general because he's not close to the microphone.
24 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I'm sorry. Could not the map be transplanted a
25 bit to the right, seen from us, so that it is practically behind
1 Mr. Praljak, and we can see him and the map at the same time?
2 MR. KOVACIC: Your Honour, that is a little bit difficult with
3 moving the map, and there is another one on the other side, so maybe we
4 should do it after the break, we should prepare it.
5 THE WITNESS: [No interpretation]
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Let's have the break now, and
7 all these logistical problems can be solved then. Let's break for 20
9 --- Recess taken at 5.32 p.m.
10 --- On resuming at 5.54 p.m.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Kovacic, please proceed.
12 MR. KOVACIC: Your Honour, Mr. Praljak will respond to your
13 question. The point is only he can use the big map behind him or,
14 alternatively, you have got these A3 format maps, and he has one, so
15 whatever will be more convenient.
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I'll start out with
17 the assumption suggested to me by Judge Antonetti. I will try to pursue
18 this logic of a possible division. It would be necessary to know some
19 history, but I'll skip that.
20 At any rate, back when the stories began even before the war, the
21 Serbs, because they were what they were in Yugoslavia, believed that this
22 part of Croatia
23 surrounding Okucani and what was later termed Western Slavonia. They
24 also believed this territory to be theirs, the Banija territory south of
25 Karlovac. They also believed Lika to be theirs, this area
1 here [indicates], and then the Velebit hinterland, what we normally
2 called Zagora, the area around Knin, and then all the way down to the sea
3 coast. Obviously, they believe Zadar was theirs too, but we'll come to
4 that later, and they took these areas eventually.
5 In Bosnia
6 Mount Kozara
7 to Livanjsko Polje, Bosansko Grahovo, Bosanski Petrovac and Drvar
9 In a way, it was part of their historical consciousness. They
10 believed these areas to belong to them. Even back in World War II they
11 committed heinous crimes against the Muslims. We have had a witness here
12 who spoke about that, but I will later show what sort of casualties were
13 involved and what sort of massacres were committed along the Drina Valley
14 against the Muslims, precisely because their objective was to somehow
15 break up the Muslim ethnos here in this part of Pestar Plateau in
17 Eastern Herzegovina
18 whatsoever: Nevesinje, Trebinje, Gacko, and so on and so forth.
19 Probably they believed Eastern Slavonia to be theirs. They destroyed
20 Vukovar, they laid it to waste, and so on and so forth. So even if they
21 gave up the plan about the Karlobag-Virovitica line all the way up here,
22 I don't know about that, except they offered Franjo Tudjman something
23 like this: Here's a country, it looks like this, but what about the
24 Muslims in that case? The Muslims would then yield all of this to the
25 Croats in a country looking like that.
1 Your Honours, I really don't know. I don't know of a single
2 Croat -- I'm not talking about Franjo Tudjman. I don't know of anyone
3 who, in their wildest dreams, would think up something like that. This
4 is entirely absurd. It is entirely counter-intuitive, like nothing else
5 on earth, and that's how the situation evolved. That's as far as they
6 went, because we stopped them right there. I, myself, stopped them south
7 of Sisak, north of Sunja, when I was still fighting in Croatia, and so
8 their plans fell through, and I simply can't bring myself to understand,
9 and I don't know if anyone does. What part of Bosnia-Herzegovina are we
10 talking about, in addition to all these parts of Croatia they thought
11 were theirs, in the sense of Serbs living in those areas and it had to be
12 Serbia Yugoslavia, Yugoslavia
14 impossible task to carve it up like that, and the logic doesn't work,
15 even if we assume all these things.
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Kovacic.
17 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours.
18 Q. General Praljak, please slow down. You are trying to say too
19 many things all at once.
20 The map in front of the Chamber is 3D03545. I believe there will
21 be other opportunities to use that map. Therefore, let's keep it close
22 at hand.
23 General Praljak, we are now coming to the next meeting mentioned
24 in this trial. I'm talking about tab 14 in the binder, for the reasons
25 following. I'm talking about the Boban-Karadzic meeting that took place
1 in Graz
2 into evidence, the 6th of May, 1992 meeting. What can you tell us about
4 A. We've heard witnesses here -- well, one of them was actually at
5 this meeting, and all I'm trying to say is the following:
6 Under the assumption that something was agreed at this meeting
7 between Boban and Karadzic, some sort of a cease-fire or something like
8 that, here's what happened after the meeting: There was a large-scale
9 attack by the Army of Republika Srpska on Livno, a large-scale one.
10 Following this meeting, the HVO liberated Stolac. Following this
11 meeting, the HVO liberated, after the Serbs had previously expelled
12 nearly the entire population of East Mostar on the 15th of May, 1992, and
13 made them cross to the west bank. People were jumping into the river.
14 There were some casualties at the bridge, and so on and so forth.
15 So after that, the Croatian Defence Council liberated not just
16 the western bank but also the east. It attacked the VRS and the JNA and
17 scored an impressive success, thereby establishing the lines that we
18 looked at. There was another attack in Rama. After that, the Serb
19 forces attacked and took Jajce.
20 After this meeting, there was incessant fierce fighting around
21 Bosanska Posavina up here [indicates]. If I could just use this one, I
22 have the map, but I'm trying to use this one. That's it.
23 So following this meeting, the Serbs attacked Livno, expelling
24 from the east bank in Mostar all of the people there to the west bank.
25 The HVO, that is, we, took Stolac. We liberated the hills on the
1 right-hand riverbank, the right-hand riverbank in Mostar, and we reached
2 the right-hand riverbank. Several days after that, the HVO crossed the
3 Neretva and liberated Mostar in all this area here around Bijelo Polje
4 and all that. The Serbs then attacked Jajce and eventually took Jajce.
5 There was another attack at Rama, one which failed. There it is
7 Throughout this time, of course, following the fall of Jajce, the
8 Serb forces stopped short of Travnik. I was involved in that. I will be
9 talking about that as will my witnesses, of course. After that meeting,
10 there was fierce fighting in Posavina, in Bosnia-Herzegovina that went on
11 for months. Eventually, the Posavina area was lost and the River Sava
12 was reached, with the exception of a small section along the river.
13 Now, what was this meeting about and what was agreed after the
14 meeting? Yes, and, yes, there is something I forgot, the Operation Bura,
15 another operation that we addressed, which occurred in October or
16 November of 1992. I think we tried and were to some degree successful in
17 showing the Serbs how we could take territory or at least that it was a
18 show of force; therefore, they gave up any further substantial attacks to
19 us throughout this area. That is as much as I can tell you about that
21 Q. Thank you very much. We may be needing this map at a later
22 stage. Can it be assigned a C number, please, in case we plan on using
23 it later on?
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Registrar, please.
25 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honour, the map shall be assigned
1 Exhibit IC1007. Thank you, Your Honours.
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] There you go. Your Honours, now
3 that I'm at it, can I just say that what we see marked here are the
4 positions of the HVO, and it's over and beyond what is suggested in the
5 indictment about some Banovina or something.
6 The HVO units were established anywhere in Bosnia and Herzegovina
7 where there were any soldiers -- rather, any Croats at all. They were
8 established as armed units defending Bosnia and Herzegovina. The
9 positions marked here are only those units that were outside the
10 purported Banovina. Needless to say, the question that I might ask is:
11 Why should one establish units outside this territory to be defended,
12 territory to be purportedly annexed to Croatia? Who will they be
13 fighting? Who will they be defending from, or who will they be defending
14 against someone else? There is no inherent logic in that, but it's not
15 my inference to draw.
16 There's another map that I have on the ELMO. This is Operation
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] One moment, Mr. Praljak. Let
19 us return to the previous map. You have just spoken about the Banovina.
20 Let's look at the deployment of the HVO brigades, the 7th -- the 107,
21 108, 110, 111, et cetera. We've got red lines on this map. That's the
22 way the Serbian forces were positioned; is that right? We've got two red
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, yes.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So militarily speaking, this
1 famous, quote/unquote, "Banovina" was surrounded by Serbs; is that right?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] You see, Your Honours, Bihac is not
3 in Banovina. We have our units. Sarajevo
4 unit there. All of these units that have nothing to do with Banovina
5 apart from this one unit in Posavina, in part, in part.
6 There were many more there, many, many more. An army made up of
7 Croats and Muslims, and there is no logical link between that and Usora,
8 Gradacac and Tuzla
9 We don't have the map now, but the Banovina is about this part, around
10 Neretva, Stolac, and so on and so forth.
11 The best part is there and there is a small part that is about
12 here. All of these units were set up in an area that had nothing to do
13 with the so-called Banovina. These units had more soldiers than me, than
14 the soldiers I had available to me. The HVO numbered a total of about
15 40.000 soldiers, no more than that, or thereabouts. Fewer than 20.000
16 were actually available in this area conditionally named the Banovina.
17 More or less all the rest were under the command of the BH Army.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well.
19 JUDGE TRECHSEL: May I just ask a question still about this map.
20 Perhaps I missed something, but what is the time that is depicted? At
21 what time did this situation prevail?
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This is the situation as it was,
23 roughly speaking, back in 1992, before the Posavina area fell. This is
24 the situation or the months that followed the talks between Karadzic and
25 Boban. It remained like that from the beginning to the end, except where
1 we lost our positions, and then the units from Posavina, with the
2 exception of some who remained there to defend some sectors went under
3 the command of the Tuzla Corps of the BH Army.
4 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Another map, Operation Bura, the
6 8th of November, 1992. Again, the HVO put together some forces --
7 assembled some forces with the assistance of the BH Army, insofar as it
8 was developed at the time, and then it attacked the units of the VRS in
9 the way displayed here. One cannot say that the operation was completely
10 successful or that we had managed to ship the lines forward in any major
11 way. One thing is certain, though. We inflicted large-scale casualties
12 on them, and this was a show of force -- a sufficient show of force, in
13 fact, to dissuade them from attempting anything in the Neretva River
14 valley. It was a convincing show of force, and it told the Serbs one
15 thing; that we were a powerful army, and they would not be able to get on
16 with their ways as they had earlier on.
17 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
18 Q. General, following this explanation, and I think we have a clear
19 picture now, if my understanding's correct, please answer with "yes" or
20 "no." All of these events that you've just described, does this picture
21 not deny the possibility of an alleged agreement between Boban and
22 Karadzic in Graz
23 MR. STRINGER: That's a leading question, Mr. President.
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This is what I would like to say.
25 If there is any logic at all, then this should constitute a denial of any
1 putative [Realtime transcript read in error "punitive"] agreement. If
2 there is no logic involved, then we can say whatever we like.
3 There is another thing I would like to say. Unfortunately, I
4 missed that earlier on, but if the honourable Judges look at what I have
5 provided, there is one unit from Olovo. We forgot to mark it on the map.
6 I tracked it down later on. I knew that there was a unit in Olovo. If
7 you look at these pages here, you can see that. The BH Army, fighting
8 alongside the HVO. The name of the unit was Matija Divkovic. Another
9 unit of the HVO that we failed or forgot to mark on this map that I
10 offered. Olovo is far away from the Banovina area and it simply doesn't
11 make sense to place it in that context.
12 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] All right.
13 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Just an observation on the transcript.
14 On page 83, line 24, we read "punitive agreement." Probably it
15 should be "putative agreement" or something of that kind. Thank you.
16 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
17 Q. You have addressed a number of chapters in this binder. I would
18 now like to move on to tab 22. You wanted to skip some portions, and
19 then you skipped this one because you wanted to keep it brief, 22. Would
20 you just like to say something about this? The title is "Peoples Right
21 to Self-Determination." Is there something you would like to say about
22 this, even briefly, something to add?
23 A. I'll try to be very brief and not take up too much time with
24 this. Just the following.
25 I assert, and I have proof of that here, that James Baker, in his
1 statement, the one that is attached here, clearly backed the preservation
2 of Yugoslavia
3 move ahead. He declared Slovenia
4 Given the context of that statement made by such a high-ranking
5 representative of the United States, it was interpreted to mean, We are
6 against separatism, and you, gentlemen, it down to you to resolve the
7 situation by weapons, of course, and that's how the war was triggered.
8 And I'm saying this peacefully. This is strikingly amoral. I find it
9 stunning and terrifying. We had no weapons. We didn't even have the TO
10 weapons. All we had was endless bravery, the endless bravery of our
11 lads, but we still managed to survive and preserve our country.
12 And then the Security Council imposed an embargo on weapons. I
13 am saying this calmly and peacefully. I cannot imagine a more scandalous
14 or amoral or more miserable decision. It was a decision that was made
15 against the rights of individuals of nations to self-determination, which
16 is a right proclaimed in international law. It is also the violation of
17 the right to self-defence. It causes nausea, such as the one I read
18 about in Jean Paul Sartre's book. It's very difficult to be in trenches
19 when they pound away at you with mortars, planes, artillery weapons, and
20 you have nothing. You only have the trenches, and maybe you have a
21 handful of rifles to respond, but no more than that.
22 What followed after that was this: Croatian citizens, citizens,
23 much more than the army at that point in time, laid siege to the JNA
24 barracks in Croatia
25 were taken.
1 Varazdin, for example, was teeming with weapons and equipment,
2 but then, and I know this for sure, Croatia was forced, in order to not
3 keep evoking the Serbs, to allow the weapons to leave for
4 Bosnia-Herzegovina, no less. The weapons for Slovenia left for
5 Bosnia-Herzegovina, no less. This was probably done in a bid to convince
6 us that they would be using the weapons to plant flowers once it came to
7 Bosnia-Herzegovina. It is hard to imagine a form of political blindness
8 worse than this. What happened later on in Bosnia-Herzegovina, you know
9 that all too well. Nevertheless, there's another thing here.
10 First of all, you impose an embargo. An embargo is to be
11 observed. That's what the law says. But if you observe the embargo,
12 you'll end up getting yourself killed. I would have understood if the
13 embargo had been imposed, introduced, and then one of the great powers
14 came along and they said, No war, please, we'll protect you. You can't
15 bring in weapons in, but we'll protect you. No one is there protecting
16 you, and you have no right to purchase weapons because you violate that
17 law. This is not a formula that works, as simple as that.
18 That's how it was, the only way to get weapons was in the black
19 market, and what I'm saying is that in a more or less secret way, the
20 state authorities, the banks, the players in the economy, hundreds of
21 thousands of Muslim and Croat individuals, those from the Ukraine
23 all of those who wished to help, some of those just wanted to make money,
24 of course. The embargo was violated. Anyone who was in a position to
25 violate it did so.
1 First of all, later on, the Americans, as Ambassador Galbraith
2 said, turned more than a blind eye to everything that was going on simply
3 because they had realised at one point that this was -- there was simply
4 no moral justification for this. And then what happened was something
5 that was even worse. Weapons were purchased in this way, and that led to
6 the following: The state authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina
8 role of purchasing weapons to people who weren't always honourable people
9 and shady individuals, and these people purchased weapons which in turn
10 provides them with social status, with some sort of power, people who
11 were selling cows in order to buy weapons did not bow before the
12 authority of an army. It belonged to him. He was the one who bought the
13 uniform with his own money. And this applied to both Croatia and Bosnia
14 and Herzegovina
15 by the state bodies in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in Croatia, to say nothing
16 of the army.
17 It took a long time for the shipments to become more legal than
18 they used to be, to be placed under control, for weapons to be given to
19 people and the process to be monitored to some extent so that order could
20 be brought to the situation. This is something that to a very large
21 extent at the very outset is something that continued for a long time.
22 It was a situation where order was difficult to establish. I won't say
23 it was a situation of disorder. He said, Well, what power of command do
24 you have over me? It was my money, I bought the rifles, so I'll do
25 whatever I like. And they did with the rifles whatever they like.
1 What I want to say about these divisions, one thing I don't
2 understand to this very day: When the Croat-Muslim offensive, following
3 explicit orders by the Americans, stopped just short of reaching
4 Banja Luka. We have the indictment here that we were carving up Bosnia
5 and Herzegovina
6 a state where the Serbs, after everything that they had done, they get 49
7 percent of the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina. And the Bosnians and
8 Croats get 51 percent of its territory, and the Serbs create a state
9 called Republika Srpska. Bosnia-Herzegovina, it has no -- may I just be
10 allowed to complete my answer, please?
11 MR. STRINGER: I just wanted to ask if the general could tell us
12 the time-frame, the date of the Croat launching the offensive that was
13 stopped, just so we have a time-frame for all of this.
14 MS. TOMANOVIC: [Interpretation] There was probably an error in
15 the transcript. General Praljak said the Croats and the Muslims
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, the Croats and the Muslims,
18 that's right. That was in 1995, after the Operation -- Operation Storm.
19 First of all, one operation, then Operation Storm, then the operation
20 where the HVO liberated Kupres and reached the Livanjsko area, Livno
21 Plateau, and came to behind the forces of the Army of Bosnian Krajina,
22 and then an agreement was signed, a military agreement between
23 Alija Izetbegovic and Franjo Tudjman, and the Croatian Army was legally
24 allowed to cross over on to Bosnia-Herzegovina territory when Bihac was
25 liberated, and they moved towards Banja Luka. This is something that
1 Holbrooke writes in his book. Did we make a mistake or not when we
2 stopped them there? We thought that that was the right thing to do at
3 that time. General Gotovina was told to stop in front of Banja Luka and
4 not go forward. They were called to Dayton afterwards, and a map was
5 placed before them, and there was to be absolutely no discussion.
6 49 percent of the Serbs, 51 to the Muslims, and that was the division of
7 Bosnia-Herzegovina that was legalised, that is in force today and is
8 functioning today. 200.000 Croats were expelled from the area, never to
9 return, and I am sitting here, among other things, because it is said
10 that I started dividing up Bosnia-Herzegovina.
11 After all the documents that I've shown you, well, tell me now,
12 Prosecutors, where do you have -- where is there any logic in all this?
13 Where is the logic of it all?
14 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Very well.
15 [Defence counsel confer]
16 MS. TOMANOVIC: [Interpretation] Just a moment, please. We have
17 another mistake in the transcript. On page 88, line 23, General Praljak
18 said that 49 percent was given to the Serbs and 51 percent to the Croats
19 and Muslims together.
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] That's correct.
21 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, Counsel, please.
22 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
23 Q. General, now the next chapter in this binder is entitled
24 "Indictment." On Monday, that is to say, yesterday --
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Before you move on to the next
1 chapter, Mr. Praljak, you mention James Baker, and I looked, and then I
2 went on to the following documents. And if you don't mind, let us speak
3 about the Geneva Agreement dated 23rd of November, 1991, signed by
4 Tudjman, Milosevic, Kadijevic and Cyrus Vance. Have you got the
5 document? Have you found it?
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I've got it in my binder. Please,
7 after Baker, yes. No, this is a resolution.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] After the resolution.
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I've found it, yes.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. I've always tried
11 to understand who was the first to start. That's the issue of the
12 chicken or the egg. Now, there may be an answer here in this document
13 with four points, A, B, C and D. What do we see? Under A, Croatia
14 required to put immediately an end to the blockade of the barracks of the
15 JNA in Croatia
16 et cetera. But it seems, in the way events unfolded, and you said that
17 yourself, by the way, it seems that the Croats blocked the JNA barracks,
18 and then all the other events ensued. Can you confirm what is found in
19 this document?
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, Your Honour. On the 23rd of
21 November, 1991, in Croatia
22 Vukovar and all the rest of it on the 23rd of November, and for several
23 months I'd already been at war. There were lots of persons dead. We
24 blocked the barracks, of course we did so, that they wouldn't shatter us.
25 We blocked the barracks of the Yugoslav People's Army. When it says
1 "people's army," it means the Croatian people, too. The Croats are
2 people, too. But we purchased the weapons with our own money, sent to
3 the budget. Of course, this was under great pressure, and the weaker
4 side always has to give way. But if we had been stronger and if it had
5 been my call, I would never have de-blocked the barracks.
6 I would agree, of course, to having all the soldiers and officers
7 leave and go home, but the Yugoslav People's Army was a Yugoslav Army and
8 a peoples' army. It wasn't a Serb army so that the Serbs could control
9 it any way they like. They took the weapons from the Territorial
10 Defence. They had a lot of weapons in Serbia and were able to do what
11 they liked in their barracks. These were barracks on the territory of
12 the Republic of Croatia
13 to be deblocked. And had there not been such great pressure -- well, of
14 course President Tudjman was criticised and the people were embittered,
15 because to allow the weapons to leave and then to have them beat you in
16 all these areas which were already occupied at the time, Your Honours, to
17 have them kill you and you to leave weapons -- let weapons go that you
18 had purchased yourself, was a very serious concession which emerged from
19 weakness, not through morality, or a just cause, or whatever. And we
20 have videos to show that all the weapons went to Bosnia-Herzegovina,
21 where that dance macabre was to be continued. So it's not a matter of
22 the chicken or the egg, which came first, Your Honour.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Thank you very much
24 for your answer.
25 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, Counsel, please.
1 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
2 Q. General Praljak, for the record, you discussed the indictment and
3 it was erroneously recorded on the transcript yesterday, page 32, line
4 14. It was recorded as being topic 23, but it is Chapter 23 that deals
5 with the indictment. And what I want to ask you now is this: Well, you
6 mentioned Chapter 24 and the statement, and I'd like to ask you now
7 something about Chapter 25, which is titled "Simulation Based on
8 Percentage Comparisons," the number of victims, I'd like to underline the
9 word "simulation," and examples were taken with the number of
10 inhabitants, the surface area of countries such as France, or the USA
11 comparing it to Croatia
13 A. I prepared this simulation in my introduction when you have me
14 five hours to speak, and as far as I remember, it was Judge Antonetti who
15 showed some interest in looking into this more fully.
16 The number of victims is often looked at in absolute terms and no
17 relation to the population, so in order to show you how dreadful the war
18 was, I compiled this simulation with Croatia, which has 4 million-odd
19 inhabitants, 189.000 expelled, 11.000 killed. I think the figures are
20 greater now, but I think they are illustrative enough, 26.000 persons
21 wounded; unidentified persons died, 782. Let me add to that that about
22 1500 soldiers of the Croatian Army are still listed as missing and their
23 graves not found. By 2008, a little under 2.000 Croatian soldiers
24 committed suicide.
25 On the next map, we see France
1 in proportionate terms. And the population in Bosnia and Herzegovina
2 it were to be superimposed on France
3 million Muslims, 80 million Serbs, and I've turned the French into
4 Croats, and then there would be 10 million of those Croats or French in
5 Bosnia-Herzegovina. There would be 4.800.000 others.
6 On the next map, I superimpose France on Croatia. It's not quite
7 possible, given the shape of Croatia
8 this as far as it was possible, geographically, to do that.
9 Then I went on to page 6, and I showed you what an attack against
11 territory of Serbia
12 On page 7, I showed the French territory that would have been
13 occupied or conquered by foreign troops. And then I come to my most
14 important point on page 8. If we look at the number of inhabitants of
15 France, which is 60 million, a population of 60 million in France, that
16 the following figures would correspond, which means that about 5 million
17 Frenchmen would have been expelled, there would be four and a half
18 million refugees in France
19 wounded; unidentified persons died, 10.000. And the French soldiers,
20 French defenders, if we stick to the ratios, should have committed
21 suicide after the war to the tune of 26.000.
22 So these figures -- well, Judge Antonetti is French, and the
23 French -- this would help the French understand what the ratio of the
24 victims and fatalities were, because if you say 50 people were killed in
25 a town called Rama, that figure does not reflect the situation. And I
1 devised the same sort of thing on page 10 for the number of refugees and
2 displaced persons who were French from Bosnia-Herzegovina.
3 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Mr. Praljak, apart from the fact that I find it
4 a bit difficult in considering this to be evidence of a witness, it seems
5 to be some sort of a relatively witty, perhaps, expert essay that you
6 present to us, so this is not -- but then it is also highly polemic.
7 If you look at page 7, you have put France in there, but you have
8 completely changed the proportions. I must say, I find this rather
9 criticable [sic]. France
10 So this gives an indication that the whole thing you present here is
11 probably not very seriously presented, and I think it would be better if
12 you dropped it now.
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I don't agree, Your Honour. Look
14 here, let me explain.
15 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Mr. Praljak, I'm not arguing with you. I have
16 looked this up now on the map in Google, and France -- the size of France
17 almost would have covered or even more than the whole of Yugoslavia, and
18 here you put it only in a small part. This is polemical, and I think the
19 Chamber does not want to hear this and there's no reason for the Chamber
20 to listen to that.
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Judge Trechsel, if I may -- please,
22 I would like to respond that I did not compare France to Yugoslavia
23 This is not what I'm claiming.
24 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Mr. Praljak, I must recall that your role is
25 that of a witness. You have been sitting in this court for three years.
1 Numerous times, you have heard the Chamber telling witnesses that they
2 are not here to comment or to explain; they're here to answer questions
3 when they are asked, full stop. You have chosen to posit as a witness,
4 and this is also valid for you.
5 Mr. Kovacic, please.
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] However, you have not -- you do not
7 understand me properly. I am talking about a misunderstanding. I
8 believe that the witness has a right to point to the misunderstanding
9 from it arises your objection. I'm not denying your right to rule this
10 courtroom; however you said that France
11 it is, indeed. However, I'm talking about proportions here. I put
13 view proportions are important, Judge Trechsel, in order to see how many
14 people really died down there and what was the state of chaos, and how
15 much blood was shed, and it's important for this case, and I expect from
16 this Trial Chamber to allow me to try and explain the catastrophic
17 consequences of this war.
18 It's very important for me as a witness, as a person, for this
19 not to be a game, not to -- for me to play the game of a spectacular
20 expert. I am trying to compare facts, and I did it in the best of the
21 intentions in order to explain to everybody the atrocities of war by
22 comparing facts. I've just showed how much territory France would have
23 lost and how many victims it would have had.
24 I'm very calm, I'll listen to every objection of yours, I'll
25 stick to the rules. Rest assured I'm willing to do all that.
1 MR. KARNAVAS: If I may be of some assistance. I will attempt.
2 I believe what General Praljak is doing is not comparing the
3 actual sizes, but trying to put it in proportion, as he's just indicated,
4 saying if France
5 was for purposes to illustrate the psychological impact it would have had
6 on the Croats in light of the circumstances. Given that, I believe the
7 Trial Chamber has seen this before. Mr. Praljak has provided his
8 explanation. I believe we can move on. I believe the point was
9 established by General Praljak and is well understood at this point by
10 everyone. Thank you.
11 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Mr. Kovacic, please.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Just a minute, because there
13 might be a discrepancy of view regarding the Judges, as far as the Judges
14 are concerned, regarding this.
15 Mr. Praljak, during your preliminary statement three years ago,
16 you did mention this, you did deal with this issue, so we know all this.
17 On page 23, we have a chart, a chart that you actually drew up,
18 and we should all look at this chart because it will help us save time.
19 You say in Croatia
20 compared with other countries, like France or the USA
21 have used Hungary
22 have been no problems as far as the Bench was concerned, then we would
23 have found out that, for example, when you compare what happened in
25 739.000 killed, 1.7 million wounded, which is a huge number, and as far
1 as refugees are concerned, 46 million of refugees, which illustrates the
2 impact of what happens psychological to each and every one.
3 I think we all got your point, and Croatia might have been a
4 smaller country, but still with this we note the impact that these events
5 had on each and every one. But you already told us about this earlier.
6 We knew about this.
7 Mr. Kovacic, you have the floor.
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Very well.
9 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I would like to do two
10 things now, just forward record and for everybody's information. I would
11 like to say that the slides and the entire simulation have been
12 introduced into e-court as 3D01077, and that part refers to France
13 the following slides and simulations refer to the US of A, 3D01078. This
14 is just for an easy referencing.
15 And now if you allow me, maybe Mr. Praljak would conclude the
16 whole answer.
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, I don't have nothing else to
19 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] I suppose and I hope that everybody
20 is clear that the comparison shows how it was possible to manage the
21 situation or not.
22 Q. Mr. Praljak, now I would like to move to topic number 26, which
23 is human behaviour in civil unrest, or, rather, in complex situations,
24 which include war. Again, we have a number of slides which have been
25 produced with the intention to simplify the whole matter.
1 MR. STRINGER: Mr. President, the Prosecution objects to this
2 line of questioning. The witness is not qualified to give opinions about
3 this issue, nor is it, in our view, relevant to the case, although he
4 might intend to call an expert to testify about this at some future time.
5 We suggest it's irrelevant, the witness is not qualified, and we should
6 move to something that is more relevant.
7 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] I would say this, if I may: First
8 of all, General Praljak, in his biography, says that, amongst other
9 things, he graduated with a degree in Sociology, and this is nothing but
10 sociology. Second of all, this is the general's special field of
11 expertise. And third of all, I'm going to refer to the decision that
12 I've already quoted earlier today, which is the decision reached by
13 Judge Moloto's Chamber, dated 21 April 2009.
14 [In English] "... for Prosecution Witness Miodrag Starcevic."
15 [Interpretation] It says very clearly in paragraph 11 thereof
16 that, and I quote in English to be faithful to the original:
17 [In English] " Factual witness can also express opinions so long
18 as they emanate from personal experience."
19 [Interpretation] I believe that personal experience in this case,
20 based on your practice in this courtroom, also the knowledge of personal
21 knowledge, Your Honour. In any case, when it comes to the testimony of
22 an accused, which is a specific situation, I believe that he should be
23 given the right to explain what he knows and what he can explain, and he
24 can also say how he came by his knowledge. If there are any doubts about
25 his knowledge, there's always room to ask additional questions. Thank
1 you very much.
2 MR. STRINGER: Mr. President, the witness has no personal
3 knowledge. He wasn't in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit. He
4 wasn't in New York
5 Mr. Theo van Gogh was killed. He wasn't in Paris during the rioting
6 there, and he wasn't, I don't believe, in Vietnam when the My Lai
7 massacre occurred.
8 Now, if the general wants to talk about issues confronting him in
9 his capacity as commander, it's the -- the effect of the war and the
10 civil unrest on his troops, and how it affected or did not affect their
11 own conduct in the field, he's certainly, based on his own personal
12 experience, well qualified and positioned to talk about that. But he
13 doesn't have any experience on these issues, nor does he have any sort of
14 expertise to comment on them generally, and so in our view again this is
15 irrelevant testimony and we should simply move on.
16 MR. KOVACIC: If I may, just one sentence, Your Honour. I think
17 it was obvious, but obviously I have to say that. And excuse me, I would
18 like to switch on Croatian.
19 [Interpretation] It is the prime --
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Kovacic, regarding this
21 issue, as far as I'm concerned, but I believe my fellow Judges share my
22 opinion, Hurricane Katrina, the New York blackout, the assassination of
23 Theo van Gogh, and what happened in Paris, well, it is true that the
24 witness was not a fact witness to all this, and we are going to waste
25 time indeed. However, I believe that there is one topic which is
1 perfectly relevant. It is the massacre at My Lai. Of course, he wasn't
2 there, himself, but this case, which was actually tried, does give rise
3 to the problem of command and control.
4 Out of memory, I remember that this is an issue that is mentioned
5 in a number of documents produced by the Praljak Defence team, and,
6 Mr. Kovacic, you might ask questions to the witness on the situation that
7 a commander might be in with its -- according to the troops that are
8 subordinated to him to check whether they are in control or out of
9 control, because here I agree with Mr. Stringer. But the other topics
10 are totally irrelevant.
11 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I would like to add an observation.
12 I'm not contradicting what the President says, that the My Lai
13 experience may, as such, have something to do with matters that come up
14 here. I think that will also come up in an expertise, in an expert
15 opinion that we'll hear. But looking at what is under number 26, I am
16 struck by the fact that in -- at the end of it, pages 33 and the
17 following until 36, we have a reference to sources, and this is a rich
18 documentation of sources, and this is the style exactly of an expert
19 opinion. This is not testimony. This is an expert opinion by someone
20 who really cannot claim to be heard in these proceedings as an expert and
21 who, in fact, is heard as a witness and not as an expert. I think this
22 is very clear if one looks at the papers under number 26 as a whole.
23 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] The general will, of course, serve
24 as a fact witness as well, there's no doubt about that. However, bearing
25 in mind the methodology of work and the possibility of drawing
1 conclusions about facts in such a mega-trial where everything is packed
2 in a story that spans a period from 1991 to 1995, and even later than
3 that according to the Prosecutor, General Praljak, as the accused, was of
4 the opinion that some terms have to be explained and put on the table for
5 an easier understanding of the possibilities given to a commander in the
6 war that we are talking about here.
7 It's not difficult to start with My Lai, because it is closer in
8 terms of the issues. However, we are talking about the sociological
9 issues of chaos. Be it My Lai
10 blackout, sociological rules apply and they are the same. The general
11 has a degree in Sociology. He is an accused. He was accused a long time
12 ago, and of course as an intellectual he was dealing with all that and
13 did all the research in order to comprehend the possible arguments in
14 favour of the ability to control or the inability to control an army that
15 was established overnight.
16 In keeping with your instruction, because I don't have any other
17 choice, I'll ask the general to start with the example of My Lai, and if
18 you believe that this may apply to any other chaotic situation, then we
19 can talk about such situations as well, or maybe not. However, I would
20 kindly ask the general to explain to everybody and to put My Lai
21 context, and to see whether he, himself, found the same rules that are
22 explained here and interpreted here from the point of view of sociology
23 and sociological science, did he see the same things in
24 Bosnia-Herzegovina, where he served as a commander.
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] All this time, it seems to me --
1 okay, Judge Trechsel, I understand the notion of a fact witness.
2 However, the indictment consists of facts, but it also comprises a
3 whole --
4 MR. STRINGER: The general is not answering the question that his
5 counsel put to him, he's making a speech to the Trial Chamber. We ask
6 the witness be directed to respond to the questions that his counsel has
7 put to him and to not address rulings already made by the Trial Chamber.
8 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
9 Q. Answer the question first.
10 A. There's a simple answer to the question. It is not true that,
11 from individual crimes or particular crimes that may have happened or did
12 not happen in a certain area, this method can be used -- the induction
13 method can be used in order to draw conclusions about the existence of a
14 joint criminal enterprise. This is a political and sociological thesis,
15 it's not a legal thesis. That's why I'm saying that the example of
16 Katrina, where there was an outage and a flood, the outage in New York
17 Theo van Gogh's case where mosques were set on fire, no perpetrator were
18 found, shows a mass -- shows what is the relationship between mens rea
19 and actus reus
20 they don't know sociology and that's why my right is to defend myself in
21 the way that the indictment was construed. The indictment doesn't say
22 Praljak did this or that, committed, but strangled, killed, and so on and
23 so forth.
24 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
25 JUDGE TRECHSEL: [Previous translation continues] ... yourself.
1 You are not invited and entitled to plead your case. You have chosen to
2 posit as a witness. As a witness, you have to truthfully and, as far as
3 possible, even coolly answer the questions put to you, full stop, full
4 stop, and that is the role, and I must really ask you to stick to that
6 Please, Mr. Kovacic. Maybe it is good if you formulate, in a
7 very precise way, a question which relates to -- which is a question to a
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Mr. Kovacic, please proceed. The
10 answer is very simple. What has been done here has not been done by an
11 expert. This was researched according to my instructions and -- for me
12 to answer the question why things were happening down there contrary to
13 the wishes, the acts, the commands, and so on and so forth. This is my
14 attempt to explain in this court all the forms of a phenomenon that will
15 lead us to the truth, and that's the long and the short of it.
16 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
17 Q. Just a few more questions to explain all that. Do you, with
18 these examples and this literature, do you want to show that there is a
19 series of possibilities because of which some crimes happened in Bosnia
20 and Herzegovina
21 MR. STRINGER: I object to the leading question.
22 MR. KOVACIC: It is not a leading question.
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, sir, I claim that under the
24 conditions of such social disorders which are even less than a war,
25 because of the nature of the human being, because of the nature of
1 society, some acts are committed which cannot be ascribed to any intent
2 or actus reus
3 car manufacturers are to be blamed for the people who are killed in car
4 accidents, and there is as many as 30.000 of them in America, or maybe
5 drug manufacturers, or cigarette manufacturers, who kill millions of
6 people, but nobody closes down such factories.
7 In my case, my best feeling, and please don't be angry,
8 Judge Trechsel, I'm not trying to show my --
9 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Mr. Praljak, you are not --
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I'm trying to answer questions.
11 JUDGE TRECHSEL: No, you're saying, My claim is that, my claim is
12 that. I quote you from the translation. And you should say, I have
13 seen, I have heard, I have felt, I have smelled, your personal
14 experience. Maybe you can say, When I felt this, I felt so-and-so; or
15 you could say, My adversary, my comrade, told me so-and-so. But instead
16 you're giving us theories. This is all theory. It may be a correct
17 theory, I'm not taking a stand on that, but we should try to conduct the
18 hearing of someone as a witness the way witnesses are heard.
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, Your Honours --
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Just a minute, Mr. Karnavas. I
21 have something to say.
22 The problem we have with Mr. Praljak's testimony is the
23 following. Actually, it comes from the fact that he is a witness. The
24 question is to know whether he should testify as all other witnesses
25 we've had so far or whether he is entitled to go beyond a fact testimony
1 and defend his case -- defend himself by dealing with topics that are
2 outside what a fact witness could deal with. Few accused have testified
3 so far in this Tribunal, only a few of them, and it always gave rise to a
4 number of problems.
5 I note that we have a divergence of views within the Bench.
6 Personally speaking, I fully understand that an accused would want to
7 testify on facts, but also want to defend himself. This is my own
8 position, but I understand that I'm in a minority here in this Bench.
9 Given this, the accused is here to answer the questions put to him by his
10 counsel, and only that. He's not here to make any speculations, and he's
11 not here to enter into guess-work, or assumptions, or whatever. He is
12 here to answer the questions that are put to him point-blank. This is
13 what the majority of the Trial Chamber seems to believe. I must say that
14 personally I'm of another opinion, but I must abide by the rule of the
16 Mr. Karnavas.
17 MR. KARNAVAS: Thank you. And, again, this is just for the sake
18 of trying to add some clarity or perhaps some assistance.
19 I've been listening to the testimony quite keenly and to the
20 objections being raised and what have you. I believe that because
21 General Praljak also has military experience, in a sense he can be viewed
22 as an expert.
23 That said, however, I believe that at least at this stage of the
24 proceedings, perhaps, there will be fewer objections, both from the
25 Prosecution and from the Bench, if General Praljak would be descriptive
1 from his first-hand experiences, and then perhaps down the road, if it's
2 necessary to draw some similarities between his experiences and some
3 other events, historical events, that may be appropriate.
4 But for now, I think perhaps if General Praljak would stick to
5 providing more detail as far as first-hand experience, what it was like
6 to command, what it was like to be in a situation where soldiers were not
7 of a trained nature, such as in other countries or what have you, and
8 from that description then perhaps he could lay the predicate -- the
9 factual predicate upon which then he can explore this area. But I
10 believe maybe there's been some mis-stepping of the laying of the
11 foundation, and that's what's causing some of the problems.
12 And it's 7.00 right now, but perhaps -- you know, we're still
13 early on at this stage, this is a very engaging direct examination, and
14 I'm sure General Praljak has been listening to all of the objections. I
15 see him smiling, and I'm sure tomorrow he will be even smoother than
16 today. Thank you.
17 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, if you'll allow me
18 just one sentence. It seems that it might assist with this discussion.
19 I believe that Judge Antonetti is right, in terms of
20 General Praljak's right to testify not only about the facts, but also
21 about his specialised knowledge, which is also corroborated by our
22 experience from the examination of some Prosecutor's witnesses.
23 Let me remind you that when we had military personnel, members of
24 various forces, for example, there were UNPROFOR commanders in the
25 territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, we put questions to them not only as
1 fact witnesses, but also we put to them questions that would be more
2 appropriate to ask from a military expert. There were objections to such
3 questions, and the position of the Trial Chamber was as follows: One has
4 to use all the knowledge of such persons, and if, in view of their
5 knowledge and long experience, if such persons can help us to arrive at
6 the truth, their testimony will only be welcome, although they don't
7 enjoy the status of experts.
8 I believe that General Praljak at this moment is in an absolutely
9 similar if not the same situation, and I propose that we treat
10 General Praljak in the same way we treated commanders who came from
12 MR. STRINGER: Thank you, Mr. President. I'll be very brief
13 because of the hour.
14 With respect to my learned friend Ms. Alaburic, the point is that
15 there aren't any questions that are being put to this witness, really,
16 and the witness isn't giving any real answers. What he's doing is making
17 speeches, and it may make him feel good and it may make people elsewhere
18 feel good, but there's no information and there's no evidence --
19 testimony from a witness that's taking place here. It's just speeches
20 and statements, and that's number 1.
21 And then secondly, Mr. President, with respect -- with all due
22 respect, the Rules make no distinction between an accused who's a witness
23 and other witnesses. Accuseds who testify aren't granted special status
24 under the Rules that gives them license to make speeches or to defend
25 themselves in any way other than answering relevant questions and
1 tendering probative evidence through their testimony, in the same way
2 that all the witnesses do. So to the extent -- I know there may be
3 disagreement among the members of the Trial Chamber on this, but in our
4 view, the Prosecution submission is that simply by taking the stand, this
5 witness -- this accused doesn't enjoy any special status that
6 distinguishes him from any other witness that has testified in this
7 trial. Thank you.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] It is five past 7.00. I think
9 we have to put an end to the hearing.
10 Mr. Praljak, we shall reconvene tomorrow at 2.15. We have to
11 stop, I'm sorry, because we are now into extra time. Remember what
12 Mr. Karnavas said, because it was very relevant.
13 So we shall resume tomorrow.
14 [The witness stands down]
15 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 7.05 p.m.
16 to be reconvened on Wednesday, the 6th day of May,
17 2009, at 2.15 p.m.