1 Monday, 9 November 2009
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 2.17 p.m.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Registrar, can you kindly call
6 the case, please.
7 THE REGISTRAR: Good afternoon, Your Honours. Good afternoon
8 everyone in and around the courtroom. This is case number IT-04-74-T,
9 the Prosecutor versus Prlic et al. Thank you, Your Honours.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, registrar. Today is
11 Monday, the 9th of November, 2009. I would like to greet first and
12 foremost the accused who are all present. I would like to greet all
13 Defence counsel, as well as all the members of the OTP who are here today
14 and all the people assisting us.
15 I would like to give floor to the registrar who has got 3
16 IC numbers to give us.
17 THE REGISTRAR: Thank you, Your Honours. Some parties have
18 submitted lists of documents to be tendered through Witness Milan
19 Gorjanc. The list submitted by 4D shall be given Exhibit IC1093, the
20 list submitted by 3D shall be given Exhibit IC1094, and finally the list
21 submitted by the OTP shall be given Exhibit IC1095.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, registrar. I shall
23 ask the usher to go and fetch our witness for today, Mr. Beneta.
24 [The witness entered court]
25 WITNESS: IVAN BENETA
1 [Witness answered through interpreter]
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Good afternoon, sir. Can you
3 give me your first name, last name, and date of birth, please.
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Ivan Beneta, the 14th of March,
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you. What is your
7 current occupation? What do you actually do?
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I'm an active officer with the rank
9 of brigadier general, and I'm the assistant chief defence inspector in
10 the Republic of Croatia.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] General, have you already
12 testified before a Tribunal or is it the first time today that you
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This is my first time.
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Could you read the text of the
16 solemn declaration, please.
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will
18 speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, General. You may
20 sit down.
21 Just some information I'd like to convey to you. As you know,
22 you will be asked to answer questions put to you by Ms. Alaburic.
23 Ms. Alaburic is the Defence counsel of General Petkovic. At the end of
24 that stage, the other counsel who represent the other accused may also
25 put questions to you. The representatives of the OTP sitting to your
1 right will also put questions to you as part of their cross-examination.
2 The four Judges that make up the Bench and who are sitting before you may
3 also put questions to you on the basis of documents we have before us.
4 Please try and be as accurate as you possibly can when you answer
5 the questions. If you don't understand a question, don't hesitate to ask
6 the person putting question to you to rephrase it.
7 In addition, you have just taken the solemn declaration, which
8 means that you are now a witness of the court, and you may not contact
9 anyone at all. Since your testimony is going to last several days, you
10 should not meet up with anyone other than family members and avoid giving
11 any interviews and avoid talking about what is happening in the
13 I would also like to add something else which I have not conveyed
14 to witnesses so far because it seemed so obvious that I felt it wasn't
15 necessary. Mr. Stewart mentioned something to the Judges which we have
16 thought about.
17 When a Judge puts you a question and you feel that the Judge is
18 making a mistake when he is putting the question, if you don't agree with
19 the way the question is put don't hesitate to tell the Judge, I don't
20 agree. I believe you have made a mistake. It is not because a Judge
21 makes a mistake that you should endorse what the Judge is saying. If, on
22 the basis of the document, which says four vehicles, and the Judge says,
23 "In this document three vehicles are mentioned," you should then say,
24 "Sorry, Judge, but you've made a mistake. It says four and not three."
25 Please do not hesitate, and I encourage you to intervene if necessary.
1 So you may answer the questions freely and try and be as accurate as you
2 possibly can when you provide those answers.
3 If you were to feel uncomfortable during the hearing, you must
4 let us know and we shall then stop the hearing. A hearing can be a very
5 tiring experience, and some people sometimes feel uncomfortable in the
6 course of it. If that is the case, please let us know and we shall then
7 have a short break.
8 This is what I wanted to share with you to make sure that this
9 hearing unfolds in the best conditions possible.
10 Ms. Alaburic, I would like to greet you once again and give you
11 the floor.
12 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Good afternoon, Your Honours.
13 Good day -- good afternoon to my learned friends from the OTP and from
14 the other Defence teams. Good afternoon to you, General, and to
15 everybody else assisting us today.
16 Examination by Ms. Alaburic:
17 Q. [Interpretation] General Beneta, we will first go into your
18 biography, and then we will expand some periods of your life on some
19 military issues that the Defence of General Petkovic considers relevant
20 in these proceedings.
21 You told us when you were born. Tell us where you were born too.
22 A. I was born at Dubravica in the vicinity of Skradin, municipality
23 of Sibenik in Dalmatia.
24 Q. Which country is that?
25 A. Croatia.
1 Q. I will now read out some information about your education. You
2 will please listen, and if I say anything wrong, please correct it, and
3 if I say anything right, do confirm.
4 You graduated from the military academy of the army, and you
5 attended that academy for three years in Belgrade and one year in Zadar.
6 You also reached the end of your studies of sociology on pedagogy, but
7 you did not graduate from that faculty. After the war you completed the
8 War College of the Croatian Army, courses for working in staffs organised
9 by NATO. Furthermore, a school of management in the area of defence
10 which was organised in England. And currently, you are completing your
11 master's thesis at the Faculty of Political Science in Zagreb. The
12 course of studies is entitled "European Union Law, Politics, and
13 Economy." So law, politics, and economy, and you are writing a thesis
14 entitled "The Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Croatia and the
15 Transformation of that Country on the Path to the European Union."
16 General, have I now correctly listed all the major steps in your
18 A. Yes. All you said is correct.
19 Q. And now a few words about your service. Until 1991, you served
20 with the JNA in Zadar. At first you were at the secondary military
21 school for seven years, after which you commanded a battery in the
22 vicinity of Zadar, and in 1999 you were again teaching at the
23 education -- sorry, the year was 1989, you taught at a training centre
24 for reserve officer.
25 Is that correct with regard to the beginning of your career?
1 A. Yes, but I also would like to stress the seven years that I spent
2 at the secondary military school do not mean that I attended secondary
3 military school for seven years. I was the headmaster of that school.
4 Q. All right, General. Explain to us, please, this training centre
5 for reserve officers. Who were these reserve officers?
6 A. That was a type of training developed through the concept of All
7 People's Defence and social self-protection. The trainees were
8 able-bodied men. Instead of serving their conscript service which was
9 compulsory military service, they went through a shortened training
10 course for soldiers where they acquired military schools and a rather
11 demanding curriculum which enabled them to carry out the tasks of
12 officers. They received their officer's rank once the territorial
13 defence offices had appointed them to some unit, mostly a reserve unit,
14 and once they had competed their first exercise with that unit, and then
15 they would get their officer's rank [as interpreted].
16 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Before we continue, I would like
17 to correct the transcript. On this page, in line 9, the word "officers"
18 should have -- should also have had the attribute "reserve," so it should
19 read "reserve officers."
20 Q. General, to somebody who is not from former Yugoslavia and to who
21 the concept of All People's Defence is not familiar, how would you
22 explain to that person the difference between an active officer and a
23 reserve officer?
24 A. An active officer is developed through his military career, and
25 that is his main business for which he gets paid. A reserve officer goes
1 through compulsory military service and after that lives as a civilian,
2 but in accordance with the concept of All People's Defence and social
3 self-protection, or, in other words, the concept of the armed people,
4 apart from a job that he may hold with a company also goes to annual
5 exercises, has his own unit, mostly reserve unit, that he prepares for
6 warfare, and he is still liable to military service until the age of 65.
7 Q. General, if I understood you correctly, you said that after the
8 reserve officers' school he goes to civilian life.
9 A. Yes.
10 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, due to this
11 explanation, I would like to point out a mistake on page 6, line 22,
12 where it reads that he lives as a civilian, but the witness is -- said
13 that he lives a civilian life but remains a reserve officer.
14 Q. Tell us, General, according to that concept of All People's
15 Defence, able-bodied men, did they have duties towards the military, and
16 if so, did only some of them have any such duty or all of them?
17 A. Almost all men who are liable to military service or conscripts
18 would have their personal register card, and the defence offices would
19 post these conscripts with some units whether these were reserve units
20 that would only be established in the framework of mobilisation, or they
21 would complete the -- complete active units for wartime. There would
22 also be a work obligation, especially in the case of subjects of special
23 interest for the defence of the country, and that would be activated in
24 the case -- in case of war.
25 Q. Can you tell us, General, what was the principle criterion in
1 deciding whether a particular individual would be assigned to a military
2 unit or into civilian protection or into an enterprise or an institution
3 to work as part of his work obligation? What was the main criterion for
5 A. The principle criterion were his abilities, the best way to use
6 that person with his particular knowledge and skills.
7 Q. Last week we used the example of a chemistry engineer
8 specialising in explosives, and if you were an employee of the military
9 department, what would be your thoughts about where best to assign that
10 chemistry engineer and explosives expert?
11 A. He could be assigned as additional personnel, auxiliary
12 personnel, in a logistical unit to be replenished in wartime. So he
13 would continue as military personnel during the war. It would be a bonus
14 if he completed an additional military school, but the very fact that he
15 had served in the army would qualify him for service in a logistical
16 unit. In addition, he could be engaged in an enterprise, in a factory
17 that would produce explosives under a work obligation that could be
18 imposed on the enterprise. If he is assigned that way, that would be his
19 military obligation during the war.
20 Q. All right. I think we have clarified this concept of All
21 People's Defence as applying to reserve officers sufficiently. I'd like
22 to ask you about your work in the training -- secondary training centre
23 in Zadar.
24 Did Milivoj Petkovic also work at that centre at the same time?
25 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] Sorry, Ms. Alaburic.
1 I have one short question for you, Witness. The reserve officer
2 that remains a conscript up to the age of 60, does this reserve officer
3 increase in rank, and if he does what -- on the basis of what criteria?
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. That officer is promoted up
5 the hierarchy, and he rises in rank usually depending on military drills
6 that he completes with his unit where he is usually one of the key
7 people. These drills are held once or twice a year. And that kind of
8 promotion would be a bit slower than with professional officers.
9 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] Thank you very much.
10 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
11 Q. So, General, I asked whether Milivoj Petkovic was working in some
12 secondary training centre in Zadar at the same time.
13 A. Yes. Mr. Petkovic worked in a neighbouring training centre that
14 educated active and reserve officers in artillery.
15 Q. Did you know Mr. Petkovic at the time?
16 A. Yes, I did. We were not exactly friends, but I knew he was
17 working there. I knew he was one of the officers employed at the
18 training centre.
19 Q. Did you have any information about the quality of his work, his
21 A. No, nothing in particular, but I also didn't hear of any problems
22 connected to him and his duties. I think he was a successful officer.
23 Q. I'll ask you again about him later when we come to the
24 Croatian Army. Let me now ask you about the relationship between the
25 army and politics.
1 In the Yugoslav People's Army was there an organised aspect of
2 the League of Communists?
3 A. In the Yugoslav People's Army the only political party
4 organisation in existence was the League of Communists. It was organised
5 from grass-root level, from units up to the top military leadership in
7 Q. In the beginning of the 1990s, in all the republics of the former
8 Yugoslavia other political parties come into existence, and the political
9 authorities promote a multi-party system, and the first multi-party
10 elections are prepared. What is happening at that time with the League
11 of Communists inside the JNA?
12 A. The League of Communists remained, although time -- or the times
13 were beginning to show that there was no reason for the status quo to be
14 maintained, and certain absurd situation sometimes occurred on the
16 Q. Can you explain what kind of absurd situations briefly?
17 A. There was not a clue about how to answer the question, "Are we
18 going to continue admitting into military academies only people who were
19 morally fit," as the term went, "loyal to the League of Communists?" And
20 another question, since some serving soldiers were also part of these
21 political organisations, what were we going to do if we get suddenly 20
22 soldiers who declare that they want to organise a Liberal Party inside
23 the army?
24 Q. What was your position, General?
25 A. At that time, towards the end of 1990, I was a member of the
1 basic organisation of the League of Communists made up of teachers,
2 instructors of the training centre. Sometime in November 1990, because
3 of that situation that I just described I asked for our agenda at a
4 meeting to include the self-abolishment of that party organisation so
5 that we may set an example as to what needed to be done.
6 Despite the opposition of the chief of that organisation --
7 Q. It seems that the interpretation channels have been mixed up. It
8 seems the -- it's all right now.
9 A. May I continue?
10 Q. Yes. Please go ahead.
11 A. So in spite of the opposition of the chief of that organisation,
12 the body of the staff voted that issue to be included in the agenda. And
13 when the discussion came to that point, most of the younger staff, which
14 formed the majority, voted that we abolish ourselves. Since it had been
15 my proposal in the first place, I experienced later certain problems in
16 the weeks and months that followed.
17 Q. Tell me, General, about your position as a professional soldier.
18 Is the army supposed to perform its duty and serve regardless of which
19 political party is in power.
20 A. Yes. I definitely believe that the army must have its own set of
21 tasks and a mission that must be independent of political party aims.
22 Q. Tell me, General, in a well-organised society, who governs the
23 army? Who manages the army?
24 A. The army is governed by the head of state and in certain aspects
25 the parliament and in yet other aspects the government.
1 Q. In your view, does the professional soldier have to be
2 limitlessly, unrestrictedly obedient in following orders, or rather,
3 after all, certain limits to obedience?
4 A. Despite the fact that soldiers are trained in the spirit of
5 exceptional obedience, certain situations are described to them in their
6 training where they have the right to refuse to obey.
7 Q. Such as?
8 A. Such as the commission of a crime and violations of the
9 international laws of warfare.
10 Q. All right, General. We'll continue through your biography.
11 You joined the Croatian Army in July 1991; correct?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Can you tell us, if you know, about the position of the then
14 Croatian president, Franjo Tudjman, concerning former JNA officers? Were
15 they welcome into the Croatia army or not?
16 A. I believe that in that very peculiar situation, just before the
17 outbreak of the war and in the initial stages of the war, President
18 Tudjman was quite aware of the need to include military personnel with
19 skills and with experience in the war, and I believe he was seeking a
20 certain balance between such men and other men who did not have that
21 level of military knowledge but who in other terms seemed to be good
22 choices for appointments in the army being established.
23 Q. You, General, were first employed in the defence of Zadar. You
24 were then employed in the defence of the hinterland of Split, and soon
25 thereafter, a bit further to the south, towards Dubrovnik. Was that
1 approximately your path in geographic terms?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. And then you occupied the position of Chief of Staff of the
4 4th Guards Brigade of the Croatian Army; correct?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Can you explain what exactly are staff affairs, staff work that
7 you carried out?
8 A. This is the work of planning, according to assignments given by
9 the commander, work in supervision of the execution of the commander's
10 decisions, work in providing professional and technical assistance in
11 order to make sure that these missions and assignments are carried out as
12 best possible.
13 Q. As a rule what was the relationship between the Chief of Staff of
14 a brigade and the commander of that brigade?
15 A. The Chief of Staff of a brigade is a professional assistant to
16 the commander and the execution of his decisions. He can stand in for
17 the commander in case of the latter's absence. And it is also the duty
18 of a Chief of Staff to contribute to the implementation of the
19 commander's idea by means of planning.
20 Q. When you say that he could stand in for the commander, does that
21 mean that he could also be the deputy brigade commander?
22 A. If that unit did not have a deputy commander in reality or
23 according to its establishment, then the Chief of Staff would carry out
24 the duties of deputy commander.
25 Q. Tell us, is the deputy brigade commander inside the chain of
2 A. No. If we look at the structure of the chain of command, the
3 commander immediately supervises the commanders of the subordinate units,
4 and the staff, as well as the deputy or his personal group, are lateral
5 adjuncts, and they are not within that basic line of command, chain of
7 Q. General, I believe that your reply did not enter the transcript
8 exactly as you said. It says that the commanders of the subordinate unit
9 are subordinate to the commander, and you mentioned also the staff and
10 the deputy, et cetera. So it may be best if you would once again
11 describe the chain of command as accurately as possible.
12 A. In accordance with the principle of the unity of command, the
13 commander, or the singleness of command, commands the commanders of
14 subordinate units. And that's the chain of command. In that chain,
15 there is neither a deputy nor a staff, but the commander commands them
16 too. However, they do not command the units.
17 Q. All right. It seems perfectly clear to me now. If the Judges
18 have no questions, we can continue.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] A technical question.
20 According to what you're saying, the Chief of Staff or the deputy to the
21 commander have no authority over the chain of command. You say that it
22 is the commander who has authority over the subordinate units. The Chief
23 of Staff or the deputy to the commander are not in the chain of command
24 stricto sensu, but let me give you a case study. Let's say that we have
25 a commander, and unfortunately he has the flu and he's in ICU. He's
1 totally unable, unfit to command. Who will take over the command over
2 subordinate units?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] If the commander is absent, the
4 units are commanded by the deputy commander or the Chief of Staff in case
5 there is no deputy commander. If -- or unless otherwise decided by
6 somebody from the superordinate command.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. So you're saying
8 that if the commander is absent, the deputy then takes over the command.
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you very much.
11 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
12 Q. General, it may be good to define the notion of absence now so as
13 to avoid any misunderstanding. Is the commander considered absent if he
14 is not in his command but at some other place? What does "absent" mean?
15 A. Absent in this sense means that he is unable to command the
16 units. When I said this, I didn't mean him not being present at the
17 command post but, rather, being somewhere in the zone of operations or
18 maybe in case he went to see his -- his high-ranking officer. These are
19 not cases when his duties are shifted to either the deputy or the Chief
20 of Staff.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] General, let me take another
22 example, another case study. Let's assume that the commander is abroad
23 taking part in international negotiations. He is away from the
24 territory. Could you tell us who is in command then on the territory?
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It would be good practice in that
1 case to empower the deputy and transfer the authority to command onto him
2 in certain areas.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. And should there be
4 a written order or is a verbal order sufficient, where the commander just
5 tells his deputy, "I will be in Geneva in January and you will take
6 over," or is there need for a very specific order?
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] A written order is required,
8 because that has to do, among other things, with the income to which the
9 person is entitled.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Now, if there is no
11 written order, what can you say about the situation?
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] In that case, to my mind it follows
13 only that the commander left suddenly and had no time to do what he
14 should -- should have done. The deputy can be in a rather unpleasant
15 situation if some drastic decisions have to be taken. Daily leadership
16 and command, in order to implement decisions taken earlier, would be an
17 area in which he could move without hindrance in exercising command
18 duties, but going anywhere beyond that would be very risky.
19 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] Witness, please, this question of
20 the chain of command is crucial, and I would like to get some detailed
21 information on this. Does the commander convey his orders in a written
22 form, as Judge Antonetti was asking, or can he also transmit orders
23 verbally? And I'll put to you my second question also right away. If
24 the orders can be conveyed orally, what happens to the -- to units like
25 brigades or divisions? What about larger units? Isn't there a problem?
1 The deputy commander and members of the staff maybe could also decide to
2 give verbal orders and saying that these orders actually come from the
3 commander but do not. And in the end, the soldiers executing these
4 orders, are they able to check that these verbal orders were actually
5 given by the commander heading the chain of command?
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This is exactly what I meant when I
7 was saying that a written order should be in place about replacing -- or,
8 rather, standing in for the commander. It isn't only about the authority
9 of the commander. It also -- it's also about the implementation of the
10 commander's order when he wants them executed -- orders when he wants
11 them executed, because the deputy, too, while issuing written orders to
12 his subordinates, in the letterhead of that order or that act will state:
13 "Based on article so-and-so about general commanding, and the
14 decision to stand in for the commander from, 'til, I issue the following
16 Then, it will be clear to the subordinates that he is now
17 exercising the function of commander.
18 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] And what about there is fraud, and
19 by fraud head of staff or a member of the staff gives a verbal order to
20 the units? Should the units actually carry out the order or not?
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The units must carry out that
22 order, and the commander of the unit, if he fosters doubts, can demand
23 the verification of the authority of the deputy commander, especially if
24 we're talking about orders that are not linked to the execution of
25 previously defined tasks.
1 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] Thank you, Witness. You perfectly
2 answered my question.
3 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
4 Q. Let us return to your biography, General. We are now approaching
5 or coming closer to Bosnia. On the 4th of June, 1992, you became
6 commander of the 116th Brigade of the Croatian Army, which was located at
8 You first defend the transporter area of Eastern Herzegovina.
9 You were defending the delta of the river Neretva from the east, and then
10 you participated in the liberation of Stolac. In August 1992, you pull
11 out of Stolac. You reorganise your brigade, and in September 1992, you
12 take over command over the unit in the area of Popovo Polje in a narrow
13 area along the Croatian border toward Dubrovnik.
14 Is that an accurate summary, General?
15 A. Yes, but I must say that the unit that I commanded in the area of
16 Zavala was still the 116th Brigade but downsized due to partial
18 Q. We will speak that extensively in the continuation of this
19 examination. Let us now continue with the biography.
20 In March 1993, you leave the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina and
21 go to the command of the army district of Split; is that correct?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Please explain to us now the concept of army district. What was
24 that territorial element of the Croatian Army called previously?
25 A. It was called zone of operations.
1 Q. So it was zone of operations, and that's a synonym to army
2 district; is that correct?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. General, can you explain to us now what a zone of responsibility,
5 and can the army district of Split -- can it be said of the army district
6 of Split that the commander of that army district had a zone of
7 responsibility there?
8 A. Zone of operations is a notion from the operational layout of the
9 battle-field. So that's a zone in which operations take place. And
10 it -- when a commander gets his tasks, it is defined based on territorial
11 points. The left and right limits are very precisely defined, and it
12 includes an area both in the depth of enemy territory as well as in the
13 depth of your own territory.
14 You also asked me about the meaning of "army district."
15 Q. I asked you, actually, about the area of responsibility. What
16 would that term mean? Is the whole operation zone the area of
17 responsibility of the commander of that operations zone or army district?
18 MR. LAWS: Before his answer, may I please interrupt. And first
19 of all, good afternoon, Mr. President, and to each of Your Honours. We
20 have been dealing with this evidence now of this witness for an hour.
21 The only matter that features on the two summaries that have been
22 provided to the Prosecution is the fact that's not in dispute, that this
23 gentleman took place in the liberation of Stolac in 1992. We've dealt
24 with All People's Defence, with Zadar and Milivoj Petkovic's role there,
25 with the League of Communists in the JNA, with the work of the Chief of
1 Staff of the brigade and the chain of command, and now we're moving on to
2 deal with army districts, and I have sat, I hope, reasonably patiently
3 because they seem, with respect, to me to be matters that were either
4 peripheral or matters which the Prosecution didn't need notice of, but I
5 must raise at this stage the fact that having asked for an additional
6 summary in respect of this witness and having been given one, we've been
7 given none of this whatsoever, and I'm afraid on behalf of the
8 Prosecution I have to object to us pursuing any more lines that are going
9 to take up -- lines of examination that are going to take us into
10 detailed, and if they are important, then important issues in the case
11 without the Prosecution having the least chance to prepare itself for
12 them. And I would invite the Court to direct Ms. Alaburic to return to
13 the topics that are summarised in the two summaries which we have been
14 provided with. Thank you.
15 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, with your leave I
16 would like to respond to my learned friend.
17 I believe that it is one of the elementary rules that if the
18 witness tells us he was Chief of Staff of a brigade, to ask him what
19 exactly that means, what kind of work he performed, and what his position
20 in the chain of command was. The witness's answers, if they are judged
21 as good by the Trial Chamber, will be important for us when viewing any
22 future Chief of Staff we meet and his place in the chain of command.
23 If Mr. Beneta tells us that he had worked in an officers'
24 training centre, he should be allowed to tell us about his work in the
25 training centre as a part of the concept of All People's Defence. This
1 is no surprise, and we intend to discuss it with every future Defence
2 witness because this is extremely relevant to our Defence case. What
3 Mr. Beneta is telling us now is an explanation of the whole set of
4 categories that we have dealt before in this courtroom, and what we want
5 to do now is get a precise definition of terms.
6 The topic of the area of responsibility has been discussed at
7 great length by every participant in this courtroom, and now we have
8 before us a highly qualified general who is in a good position to explain
9 to us what that means in the Croatian Army and in NATO standards, what an
10 area of responsibility is or isn't.
11 This is the last generally military -- general military question
12 I intend to ask and then we'll move on to the Croatian Army and Croatian
13 troops. But before I move on to that, I would like Mr. Beneta to explain
14 to us what exactly an area of responsibility is and what its significance
15 is in the execution of military operations.
16 MR. LAWS: May I reply just very briefly to that and say that
17 nobody disputes that -- that this general is well placed to say things
18 which might be important. That's not my objection. My objection is
19 simply this: If they are important, then they should have been provided
20 to the Prosecution in advance as the rules and this Chamber's guidance
21 clearly state.
22 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I informed my learned
23 friends from the Prosecution and all Defence teams of all the facts that
24 this witness will be speaking to. What we are dealing with now are
25 definitions of categories, because at one point when the witness tells us
1 where he was in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the
2 116th Brigade, we will be discussing with him his area of responsibility.
3 Therefore, I thought it was a good idea to clarify the term now in the
4 introductory part. We can clarify it, of course later.
5 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Ms. Alaburic, I will not discuss whether it was
6 a good idea or not, but you have indicated what the witness was going to
7 testify about. This question of zone of operation and area, we have
8 extensively spoken with another military expert who has just testified
9 the last two weeks, and I think that the objection is justified and
10 should be upheld. So please proceed to address the questions that you
11 have actually said that you would address.
12 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Very well.
13 Q. General Beneta, then tell us then, please, when with the
14 116th Brigade you took up positions at Popovo Polje on the border between
15 Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Croatia, what was your area of
17 A. My area of responsibility was a section of the front line limited
18 on the left and on the right side. Behind my own lines it was the area
19 where I deployed my forces, and behind enemy lines it reached up to the
20 possible limit of my action.
21 Q. All right. You will show us later on the map, and that will be
22 the end of it. Let me now finish with your curriculum vitae.
23 In the summer of 1993, for about a month, you were engaged in one
24 military operation of the Croatian Defence Council in Bosnia and
25 Herzegovina, after which you returned to the army district of Split where
1 you took up position of commander of Operations Group Sibenik for
2 22 months; Is that correct?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. And the last point: You were chief of anti-aircraft defence in
5 the Croatian navy and deputy chief of the operations zone of the Main
6 Staff of the Croatian Army for modernisation. Then you were commander of
7 the centre for international military operations. After that, commander
8 of the school of warfare. And as you said in response to a question by
9 Judge Antonetti, you are now deputy chief inspector in the defence
10 inspectorate; is that correct?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Very well. We'll now move to the next subject with a working
13 title as follows: "Departure of Croatian soldiers to Bosnia and
14 Herzegovina During Wartime."
15 Do you have your set of documents in front of you, General? Look
16 at 3D343. Have you found it, General?
17 This is a letter signed by Petar Stipetic.
18 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] No, that's not the right document
19 in the electronic courtroom.
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Did you mean 443?
21 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
22 Q. Correct. I misspoke. It's 443. My mistake. 3D443, a letter by
23 General Petar Stipetic, dated 8th of April, 1992.
24 I'll ask you very specific questions. Based on this document, to
25 whom was it sent?
1 A. It was sent to the Operation Zone Split.
2 Q. At that time were you in that operation zone?
3 A. Yes. At that time I was chief of the -- Chief of Staff of the
4 4th Guards Brigade in that operation zone.
5 Q. Can you explain to us the beginning of this letter that says:
6 "Subject: Your act." What does it mean?
7 A. That means that somebody from the operations zone, let's say a
8 commander of the operations zone, had sent some sort of dispatch to the
9 Main Staff, and here in this letter - which is a response - they cite the
11 Q. From the contents of this document which approves the departure
12 of volunteers from the Croatian Army to Bosnia and Herzegovina, what
13 could you conclude about the contents of the original query sent to the
14 Main Staff?
15 A. Well, that query was a summary of requests from units, and one of
16 those units was my brigade, the 4th Brigade, namely that a position be
17 taken urgently on the situation prevailing in the units at the time.
18 Namely, a certain number of soldiers in my unit, and I believe it was the
19 same in most other units, were young men who were living in Croatia or in
20 Herzegovina, both natives of Herzegovina who had joined the fight against
21 the Serbian aggressor and the Yugoslav People's Army and who reacted in
22 the circumstances that had obviously changed in the areas where their
23 parents lived and exercised enormous pressure to be allowed to go to
24 fight in Herzegovina.
25 Q. What would have happened if these young men, these soldiers, had
1 not been allowed to go fight in Herzegovina?
2 A. I think they would have gone anyway.
3 Q. If all your soldiers hailing from Bosnia and Herzegovina at that
4 time, in the beginning of April 1994, in your unit and in other units, if
5 all of them had gone to fight in Bosnia and Herzegovina of their own
6 accord, what would have happened with the units?
7 A. First of all, our strength would have been significantly
8 diminished without any prospect of replenishment in the near future.
9 Q. General, can we specify the period? Is it April 1999 -- 1992?
10 We seem to have an error in the transcript.
11 A. Yes. We're talking about April 1992.
12 Q. Can you now explain if the units of the Croatian Army were in
13 such danger, if all the natives of Bosnia and Herzegovina left, did you
14 have any interest in -- in organising this in a different way?
15 A. Yes. It was in our interest to do it in organised fashion for a
16 number of reasons. Shall I explain?
17 Q. Please do.
18 A. At that point we had been carrying out military operations for eight
19 months already. We had built something that was very difficult to build,
20 and that was a tight knit military group that had grown in the war. To
21 let those men leave in a haphazard way would have meant that each of them
22 would have gone to their birthplace and tried of their own accord to
23 organise some sort of resistance or save their parents, something like
24 that. If they had gone like that, just by deserting, going AWOL, we
25 would have had a problem with resolving their status later. We would
1 have trouble admitting them back into the unit a month later if -- just
2 as if nothing had happened. And in addition, those of them who had
3 families in Croatia, wives, children, would have been deprived of income.
4 Q. All right, General. Let us look at P153 now. P153. That's also
5 a letter by General Stipetic. To whom was this one sent?
6 A. The letter was sent to the commander of the zone of operations of
8 Q. In the first paragraph mention is made of both Croats and Muslims
9 who want to go and defend Bosnia and Herzegovina as volunteers.
10 Tell us, General, from your own experience, too, did you treat
11 Croatian soldiers of Croatian ethnicity and of Muslim ethnicity the same
12 way or did you distinguish between them?
13 A. In my unit I had about 20 to 30 per cent of Croats hailing from
14 Bosnia and Herzegovina, and I also had Muslims who were residents of
15 Croatia or who were from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and there was no
16 difference with regard to our position about letting them go.
17 Q. Let us look at the next document about this topic. It's 3D299.
18 It's a document by Colonel Hasan Efendic from an office of
19 Bosnia-Herzegovina, sent to the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of
21 It is requested that three officers of the Croatian Army,
22 mentioned by name here, be allowed to go, although it is risky to judge
23 about a person's ethnicity based on their name, but what would you say
24 about the ethnicity of these persons mentioned here?
25 A. All these three persons are almost certainly of Muslim ethnicity.
1 Q. In the last paragraph it says:
2 "We are asking you to resolve the status of these officers, as
3 has been the case so far, by putting their status on hold, and after
4 fulfilling their tasks, they should be allowed to continue serving in the
5 Croatian Army."
6 General, if you were asked to interpret what this "as has been
7 the case so far" means with regards to the practice of letting officers
8 of Muslim ethnicity go to BiH --
9 A. Taking into consideration the date, the Croatian Army had for
10 several months permitted people to go to Bosnia and Herzegovina
11 individually because they were obviously needed there and this document
12 obviously refers to that practice, and it is requested that three more
13 persons be permitted to go in accordance with the same principle. That
14 is to keep their status in the Croatian Army, and after fulfilling their
15 task, they should have the opportunity to continue their career in the
16 Croatian Army.
17 Q. So we can conclude, General, at this time in 1992, did you have
18 any knowledge or did you observe any instances of discrimination of
19 officers of Muslim ethnicity in the Republic of Croatia who wanted to
20 join the Territorial Defence or subsequently the army of Bosnia and
22 A. Absolutely not. I had an assistant. That is, he was the chief
23 of pioneers in the brigade, who, after eight months that he had spent in
24 my unit, requested to be permitted to go to Sarajevo. He was let go. He
25 never even asked for his status to be put on hold. He -- he went to --
1 with no regard to that, and there were no problems for him to do so.
2 Q. All right, General, the let us pass on to the next topic the
3 working title of which is "The Croatian Army on the Territory of Bosnia
4 and Herzegovina."
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] One in a moment, General. I'd
6 like to still look at this document which is dated the 4th of January,
7 1993. The date is important. It is signed by Colonel Hasan Efendic. If
8 I'm not mistaken, Colonel Hasan Efendic was commander of the Territorial
9 Defence of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina before being replaced
10 by Halilovic. Is that the same person as far as you know?
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No. I don't know anything about
12 the succession of their duties. I never followed that.
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You don't know. This document
14 states that the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina had an office in
15 Zagreb. We have the address of this office, Savska Cesta, number 41. We
16 have a phone number also. This document states that there is a request
17 for help submitted to the Ministry of Defence, Croatian Ministry of
18 Defence, for the latter to second three people who will keep the same
19 status within the Croatian Army.
20 As far as you know, at the end of 1993, in the early months of
21 1993, the Croatian Army, did it actually provide at the request of the
22 Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina soldiers and officers, or, as far as
23 you know, was it the case that at the end of 1992, in the early months of
24 1993 -- there is mistake on the transcript, I said end of 1992 and in the
25 early months of 1993, did the Croatian Army actually send soldiers and
1 officers to reinforce the HVO against the ABiH and only in those cases?
2 How did things stand as far as you know?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] At that time, I was busy in the
4 4th Brigade, and later on I also was engaged with the 116th Brigade in
5 Eastern Herzegovina. So I was on the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina
6 with my unit. My estimate is that we went as deep as 20 or 25 kilometres
7 [realtime transcript read in error "metres"] into the territory of Bosnia
8 and Herzegovina.
9 I continue. You probably want to know about the situation not
10 there --
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I don't understand how there
12 can be mistakes on the transcript like that. You said 20 to 25
13 kilometres and it states "20 to 25 metres" on the transcript. You have
14 to be very careful. Everything a witness says is important. Is it 20 to
15 25 kilometres or is it 20 to 25 metres?
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It's 20 to 25 kilometres.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You have to be extremely
18 careful. Very well. Please proceed.
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I believe that your question is not focused
20 on that but whether or not there were members of the Croatian Army who were
21 let go and who were going deeper into the territory individually or in an
22 organised fashion, regardless of holding on the defence line toward Croatia
23 in the territory along the border. Yes, I know that there were departures as
24 a consequence of pressure exerted for the people to be let go, because we
25 were faced with arguments -- with such arguments that left me no choice than
1 to let those people go. If I made a mistake or not, I don't know. I thought
2 that was -- this way I would contribute to the resolution of the situation.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I'm interrupting you because
4 you are developing a number of points, but there are salient features
5 which are important.
6 When you are 20 to 25 metres [as interpreted] in depths, what
7 dates are you talking about? 20 to 25 kilometres.
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I'm referring to the period from
9 the first half of 1992 'til -- well, almost until the end of the war
10 speaking about the southern front, but that that depth was reduced to 2
11 to 4 kilometres at certain spots.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. You're saying until
13 the end of the war, but give us a date, please.
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] In the end of 1995, September,
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. You're telling us,
17 and you're under oath, that your unit was in depth in the territory of
18 the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and still under oath you are telling
19 us that you were 20 to 25 kilometres in depth and this was reduced to
20 some 4 kilometres.
21 Now, here's my question: When you received the order to go over
22 there, to go in another country, in a country which is not the Republic
23 of Croatia, what were you told exactly, "You are going there to face the
24 Serbs," or "You're going there to attack the Muslims"? Could you tell us
25 exactly what was the content of the military order which you received
1 allowing you to go in depth in a foreign country?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The order was to defend the
3 territory of Croatia and a constituent part of the order were also
4 geographical maps. It was clear from that that we were to take positions
5 from which we can successfully defend a relatively narrow stretch of
6 territory between the state border and the coastline and which would at
7 the same time allow us enough manoeuvre space.
8 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, everything the
9 witness has said now we put on a map which we will show to you, and we
10 will show you documents. We will also try to explain the reasons and the
11 legitimacy of this way of proceeding.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. It is time for the
13 break. We will break for 20 minutes.
14 --- Recess taken at 3.51 p.m.
15 --- On resuming at 4.12 p.m.
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Court is back in session.
17 General, before giving the floor to Ms. Alaburic, I have a
18 follow-up question. You're telling us that you were 20 to 25 kilometres
19 in depth. Could you tell us whether there were civilians in that
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. There were also civilians in
22 that territory.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. There were
24 civilians, but these were not Croatian citizens. These were civilians
25 who lived in the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, who were citizens of
1 Bosnia and Herzegovina.
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Now, maybe you know this or you
4 don't, and if you do, all the better because it will be easier, and if
5 you don't, well, I'll tell you about it. We have a regulation, a 1907,
6 The Hague regulation, and Article 42 of this regulation says, and I will
7 quote it slowly:
8 "A territory is considered as occupied when it is placed de
9 facto under the authority of the enemy army. The occupation is only --
10 is only for the place where the authority is located and where the
11 authority can be exercised."
12 So when you were occupying this 20 to 25 kilometres in depth, did
13 you feel like you were exercising an authority?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] In part. As unit commander I came
15 across situations when I had to deal with certain issues that could be
16 qualified as issues of authority seeking to hand it over to the civilian
17 authorities as soon as possible if the system had been disrupted.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Let me continue
19 with my question. There is another article in the 1907 regulation,
20 Article 43:
21 "The authority of the legal -- of legal power being now in the
22 hands of the occupying power, the latter will take all measures depending
23 from it in order to re-establish and to ensure, as far as possible, law
24 and order while abiding, unless possible, the rules in place in the
1 When you were in depth in that territory did you take any
2 measures to re-establish law and order and public life in this area?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Let me finish off.
5 As you know, officers of the German Army were tried by American
6 courts, and there is a very famous judgement, appeals judgement,
7 US v. Pohl and it says the following, and I'll quote it and you'll
9 "The rules of war impose on all military officers who are in
10 command the positive obligation to take all possible measures suitable to
11 the circumstances in order to control those who are under his command and
12 to prevent all actions that may lead to infringements of the rules of
14 When you were in a foreign territory, when you were stationed in
15 depth in this foreign territory, did you take any measures against your
16 own soldiers to make sure that these would not commit any infringement
17 of -- any acts that would be against the rules of war?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. In all foreseeable
19 situations, I did take such measures, and I never had any need to take
20 subsequent measures because there were no cases of disciplinary
21 infractions in such a form that anyone would be hurt, especially not
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Your answer is very
24 specific. I will finish off with one simple question.
25 When you were occupying this territory, this 20 to 25 territory
1 in depth, were there any combats in that zone?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I'm putting this question to
4 you about the combat, because when Belgium was occupied by Germany, the
5 areas of responsibility were broken in three, areas where combats were
6 under way. There the authority was the military authority a hundred
7 per cent. And then there was another area, the reserve area, where
8 authority was jointly exercised between the civilians and the military.
9 And there was a third zone, the rest of Belgium, where the only authority
10 was the civilian authority. The occupying power, of course, but civilian
11 occupying power managing this area, which is why I'm asking you whether
12 there were any combats in your own zone, and you said there were. So in
13 this zone, this area where combats were occurring, did you believe that
14 you were the only person liable or responsible and that no civilian
15 authority was in charge of anything in that area?
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] My operations and combat activity
17 that I pursued there was conducted in co-operation with the populous in
18 that area, and I did not have all the elements of an occupying power, nor
19 did I have to exercise it.
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Ms. Alaburic, you
21 have the floor.
22 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I can tell you that
23 you have now touched upon absolutely all the subjects that I wanted to
24 cover in my examination. I would just kindly ask the Trial Chamber to
25 trust us to examine our witnesses both on the Hague Conventions and the
1 principles of occupation, and that we will honestly and openly
2 demonstrate all the circumstances we believe relevant.
3 And before I resume my examination, I would only like to
4 intervene on the transcript. The question of Judge Antonetti on page 29
5 related to the fact that Croatia was sending officers and troops into
6 Bosnia and Herzegovina. The witness started to answer in line 12, 13,
7 and 14 on page 29, and a part of his answer was not recorded; namely,
8 that Croatia approved the departure of these soldiers and officers to
9 Bosnia and Herzegovina. We will correct the transcript later, but it is
10 now important to make this straight for the sake of everyone's
12 Q. We will now, using documents and maps, try to demonstrate all
13 that all you, Witness, have told us so far.
14 Last week, Witness, we had a Defence expert for Generals Praljak
15 and Petkovic Defence, and in document 4D1731 he explained that under
16 certain circumstances a state has the right to enter the territory of
17 another state if it had been attacked from the territory of that other
19 Following up on that position, I will ask you a very specific
20 question. Let us assume that the Republic of Croatia is targeted from
21 the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, let's say from the environs of
22 Trebinje. Let us define that it is the Army of Republika Srpska
23 attacking the Republic of Croatia.
24 Now, tell us, in the normal course of things what would the
25 Republic of Croatia be expected to do to stop these attacks from the
1 territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the territory of Croatia?
2 A. It would be necessary to do exactly what I eventually received as
3 a military assignment, namely to nip the threat in the bud, that is, to
4 enter the territory from which we are targeted up to a point from which
5 it is possible to make sure that these attacks would be terminated.
6 Remove the sources of threat.
7 Q. Tell us, General, under international law, at least as described
8 in the manuals of the Yugoslav People's Army, what is considered to be a
9 theatre of war?
10 A. A theatre of war is the entire territory covered by the warring
11 parties in that war. Namely, the territories of states are A and B if
12 these states are at war.
13 Q. So if the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina up to Trebinje,
14 from which Croatia is targeted, is defined by the term "theatre of war,"
15 would it be correct to say that the territory of Croatia, which is
16 targeted, like the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina from which the
17 attacks originate, is considered as one theatre of war?
18 A. Yes. Both these territories of Croatia and Bosnia and
19 Herzegovina are theatres of war.
20 Q. Very well. Look now at the next document, 4D1483. It's a map
21 showing plans of the Yugoslav People's Army from May 1991, and it was
22 made by our military expert, Milan Gorjanc, and from this map we can see
23 that it was planned from north via Livno to move towards Split, and in
24 the area of Split, cut through the territory of the republic -- of the
25 Republic of Croatia and completely isolate the territory south of Split.
1 And it was also planned from the south side, from the direction of Stolac
2 and this part of Herzegovina, to move towards the sea and then link up
3 these forces of the JNA from the south and the north and completely
4 isolate Bosnia and Herzegovina from the Republic of Croatia.
5 Now, my question, General Beneta, is this: Did you have information that
6 the Yugoslav People's Army in mid-1991 had such plans of combat activity
7 relating to this part of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia?
8 A. Yes. I had that information, because one of my assistants, now
9 General Mirko Sundov, was working -- had worked in the Territorial
10 Defence before the war broke out, and he told me about this plan called
11 S2 that had been developed as a sort of contingency plan in case
12 Yugoslavia was attacked from that side. However, it is clear from
13 everything that it was in fact a military plan to enter the territory of
14 the Republic of Croatia.
15 Q. If we go back to April 1992 when many soldiers, members of the HV
16 who hailed from BiH want to go to defend their homeland, BiH, was there a
17 military activity from the army -- by the Army of the Republika Srpska
18 much along the same lines as these that we see on the northern end of
19 this map? Namely, from the direction of Kupres and Livno?
20 A. I personally didn't take part in activities regarding the area up
21 there, but I knew that the JNA did manoeuvre in order to mass troops
22 around Kupres, and they wanted to bring as many troops there as possible.
23 Q. I will show you a map now, 4D1351 --
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] General, I have the map in
25 front of me like everyone else. Ms. Alaburic told us that this map
1 was -- was a plan, intervention plan, May 1991, and she asked you whether
2 in April 1992 the Republika Srpska had the same plan, and you answered by
3 saying that you didn't know, but I thought I understood that it would
4 have been normal for Republika Srpska to do exactly the same thing from
5 Kupres to Livno.
6 Now, when looking at this map, I was listening to what you said
7 earlier regarding this single battle-field, saying Republic of Croatia
8 and Bosnia and Herzegovina were one battle-field. Does this mean that
9 for the Republic of Croatia to be able to defend itself it had
10 militarily, and I insist on the word "militarily," to penetrate into the
11 territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in depth in this territory,
12 otherwise it would find itself in dire straits and could maybe be
13 squeezed out of the territory?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I would like to point out to the
15 Chamber that part of this plan had already been carried out through the
16 attacks of the JNA. The southern-most arrow pointing towards Slano had
17 been implemented in October 1991, and only after that did the Croatian
18 forces that were only being created had grown barely strong enough to bar
19 the enemy from go -- from going any further. So it was the task of the
20 unit of which I was commander, or Chief of Staff, to do the following:
21 After the south of Croatia had been occupied and Dubrovnik cut off, we
22 were in a situation where the south of Croatia was occupied except for
23 the town of Dubrovnik itself. That was fighting off attacks in the
24 outskirts of town.
25 With regard to the northern part, the area of Kupres, there was
1 an entire corps, and it was especially conspicuous to see the movement of
2 an armour brigade toward Kupres, which didn't have any barracks up there
3 or any other accommodation, but it was ad hoc, being moved there in order
4 to create favourable conditions for the implementation of this plan
5 thought out by the JNA before the war broke out.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Now, as a final
7 question, I was listening to you and I would like to know the following:
8 If the Serbian forces had reached Split, can we infer from this that
9 militarily the Republic of Croatia would have been in jeopardy?
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] That would have meant the
11 occupation of some 15 to 20 per cent of the territory of Croatia, only in
12 this part. A similar situation was in existence in Western Slavonia or
13 in the area of Vukovar. All that put into jeopardy the crucial interest
14 of the Republic of Croatia, namely integrity and sovereignty.
15 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
16 Q. Tell us, General, what was the only way for Croatia to try and
17 liberate this occupied southern part around Dubrovnik and further south
18 and protect itself from possible aggression on the territory around Split
19 and southward? So what was the way to -- for Croatia to protect itself?
20 A. The only possible way was military intervention. And I must
21 stress that in the area from Ston and Slano southward, that military
22 intervention is next to impossible if it takes place only in the area
23 between the coastline and the state border.
24 Q. Tell us, General, how broad is that territory?
25 A. Down there the territory has an average width of 5 kilometres,
1 ranging from 15 kilometres down to only 800 metres.
2 Q. Tell us, General, is this a mountainous area or is it a plain?
3 A. The area is mountainous, and there is only one road
4 communication, which is entirely on Croatian territory. There is also an
5 unpaved road which is higher in the mountains, but it runs partly through
7 Q. If I understood you correctly, Croatia -- for Croatia there was
8 no other way to defend itself but send troops to the territory of BiH; is
9 that correct?
10 A. Yes, it is.
11 Q. Please take a look at the next map, 4D1351. Take a look at the
12 screen, please.
13 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] If we could give the witness a
15 Q. General, this is a map showing the deployment of HVO forces.
16 Furthermore, forces of the HV as opposed to the VRS and the JNA. The
17 date is the 30th of April, 1992.
18 We have already seen this map in the proofing so that you're
19 familiar with it. Tell us whether this map reflects the deployment of
20 the units of the HV on the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
21 A. Could you repeat the date?
22 Q. The 30th of April, 1992.
23 A. Yes, it does reflect.
24 Q. Could you please mark on this map where exactly your command post
25 was. If I'm not mistaken, you were still in the 4th Guard Brigade.
1 A. Yes. The command of the brigade was here at Hutovo. I'm
3 Q. Please put a number 1 next to it.
4 A. [Marks]
5 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] So number 1, Hutovo where the
6 command of the 4th Guard Brigade was, commanded by the witness. Could we
7 please have an IC number for this map.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] IC number, please.
9 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, Your Honour. The marked version of document
10 4D1351 shall be given Exhibit IC1096. Thank you, Your Honours.
11 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Thank you. Could I now ask the
12 usher to bring this map to the witness and put it on the ELMO.
13 Your Honours, we made this map for you. The witness saw it
14 during the proofing and he will explain it to you, and we'll use it in
15 order to reduce the time necessary to discuss these issues. It's the
16 same map that we saw a minute ago, and now we'll see which combat
17 activity and what kind of combat activity took place there by mid-1992.
18 Q. General, there are territories here marked A, B, and C.
19 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] It seems that there are problems
20 with the ELMO. All right. Maybe we can move on. If it can be fixed,
21 then we'll go back to it.
22 Q. All right. Since the Trial Chamber has this map and perhaps the
23 ELMO can be repaired in the meantime, General, tell us what you wanted to
24 show on this map. What do the letters A, B, and C mark?
25 A. The letter A, the southern letter A, that is, marks the territory
1 which was liberated by the 4th and the 1st Brigades of the Croatian Army
2 in the end of May and in early June 1992.
3 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Sorry. Ms. Alaburic, we do not have the map.
4 We cannot see it, I think, so it's very difficult to follow.
5 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Then we'll skip that, Your
6 Honours, and meanwhile we'll fix the ELMO. But I want to say that this
7 map shows the activities involved in the liberation of the southern part
8 of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in one part, and the liberation of
9 Dubravska Visoravan in one part, and the Stolac operation in which the
10 witness took part. That's the territory that's 25 kilometres deep.
11 I hope the ELMO can be fixed so that we can speak about it later.
12 Q. General, the last operation that we'll show on this map is the
13 liberation of Stolac. When you spoke about an area that is 20 to 25
14 kilometres deep in which forces of the HV were engaged, did you mean
15 those operations, that is the liberation of the Dubravska Visoravan and
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Did you carry out these operations in co-operation with the
19 Territorial Defence or the ABiH, respectively; that is, with the Muslim
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Let us look at the following document: P339. It's an agreement
23 about friendship and co-operation signed by Alija Izetbegovic and
24 Franjo Tudjman of the 21st of July, 1992. Tell us, General, this date
25 July the 21st, was this after all these liberation operations that we
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. General, let us go back to the map which we now have on the ELMO.
4 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Maybe we could move it up so we
5 can see all of it.
6 Q. Tell us, General, the area you marked A.
7 A. This area here and this area were liberated in the same operation
8 when the forces of the HV started moving toward Dubrovnik -- Dubrovnik.
9 It was from the 28th or 29th of May 'til the 4th of June, 1992.
10 Q. And the territory marked B?
11 A. This territory was liberated round about the 6th of June, 1992.
12 Maybe a day earlier or later. That is immediately after the completion
13 of the operations in which the A territories were liberated. Here, too,
14 the forces of the HV and those of the HVO acted jointly.
15 Q. Did the Muslim population co-operate with you?
16 A. In the area marked A there weren't really any Muslims. And about
17 area B, I have no direct knowledge because I didn't take part in that
19 Q. And the territory marked C?
20 A. For this territory I led the combat operations, and a battalion
21 composed of people who live at Stolac and the surrounding areas marked B
22 were the ones who were involved.
23 Q. Tell us their ethnicity.
24 A. They were mostly Croats, because they were driven out when the
25 Serbian forces moved into territory B, Domanovici, and the people
1 expelled established a unit of the strength of a battalion. They -- it
2 was organised by their local authorities. They went through training,
3 and they took part in the liberation of their towns and villages.
4 Q. Was that battalion joined by the population of Stolac of Muslim
6 A. The operation was carried out in such a manner that 200 men in
7 the night of the 11th of June, 1992, were allowed to enter Stolac by the
8 assistance of the Muslim population that remained to live in Stolac,
9 which was under Serbian occupation.
10 Q. We'll go into the details later. For the time being, it matters
11 to me that these were joint actions carried out by Croats and Muslims.
12 And the territory marked C was also liberated in June 1992. Is
13 that so, General?
14 A. Yes, it is. It was from the 13th to the 15th of June
16 Q. Now, please put today's date on the map, sign it, and perhaps we
17 can get an IC number.
18 A. [Marks]
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Registrar, can we have a
20 number, please.
21 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, Your Honours. The second map marked portion
22 of the map shall be given Exhibit IC1097. Thank you, Your Honours.
23 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
24 Q. Can we now please come back to this document P339, the agreement
25 on friendship and co-operation, of 21st July, 1992, signed by Izetbegovic
1 and Tudjman.
2 So it was signed about a month after all these actions of
3 liberation. Let us look together at item 8, please. In item 8 it is
4 noted that the aggression of the Serbian and Montenegrin military forces
5 against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina is continuing, but also
6 largely against the Republic of Croatia from the contiguous areas of the
7 Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
8 My question, General, the authorities under Izetbegovic at that
9 time, did they have the power to intervene at the time in the areas from
10 which Croatia was attacked?
11 A. No. The estimate at the time, and even when you analyse it now,
12 everything indicates that they did not have the ability to intervene.
13 Q. At that time had there ever been any objections to the joint
14 military actions by the Croatian Army, the HVO, and the army of Bosnia
15 and Herzegovina that was still called the Territorial Defence at the time
16 in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina?
17 A. No. There had been no objection to these interventions.
18 Q. What about Alija Izetbegovic, the Muslim populous of those areas
19 and the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina? Did they ever consider the
20 Croatian Army an aggressor?
21 A. No, on the contrary. I can only recall the excellent
22 co-operation both on the part of the Muslim population and the authority
23 of both ethnicities.
24 Q. 4D1240 is our next document. It's a directive from the staff of
25 the Supreme Command of the armed forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, signed
1 by Sefer Halilovic.
2 What we want to know at this time is item III where neighbours
3 are defined, and those are the armed forces of the Republic of Croatia.
4 And then it says that:
5 "These armed forces, by executing offensive operations to
6 liberate the territory of parts of Croatia with the part of their forces
7 engaged in the area of Dubrovnik, coordinate most immediately with our
8 forces in the liberation of Eastern Herzegovina, especially the towns of
9 Trebinje and Stolac."
10 General, can you comment on this position of the man number one
11 in the Supreme Command Staff of the BH Army?
12 A. This is essentially correct, although I would put it even more
13 accurately perhaps. In this paragraph the focus is a bit different.
14 From this paragraph you would understand that the main vehicle of this
15 action is the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, whereas in fact you could
16 say that the Croatian Army had done more.
17 Q. But there is no dispute that this was a joint action of the
18 Croats and the Muslims?
19 A. No dispute whatsoever.
20 Q. Now look at the next document, 4D1353.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] One moment. I noticed a
22 paragraph which could be of interest on page 4. Roman numeral III.
23 There it is. It says that:
24 "The armed forces of the Republic of Croatia, conducting
25 offensive operations to liberate Croatian territory ..."
1 General, this document, stems from the supreme commander of the
2 armed forces in Sarajevo, seems to admit that the Republic of Croatia is
3 conducting a military operation to liberate its territory. This is what
4 it says in writing, doesn't it?
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. Yes, that's precisely what we
6 read there.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] And then it says that --
8 Trebinje and Stolac are mentioned, as well as the area of Dubrovnik,
9 Dubrovnik sector.
10 Ms. Alaburic.
11 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
12 Q. General, if we wanted to define all these localities mentioned
13 also by Judge Antonetti from the point of view of theatre of war, it's
14 not only a unified single theatre of war but a single battle zone.
15 A. Yes. This was declared as the southern theatre of war by the
16 Croatian command, and it includes both parties in these -- in this
18 Q. Let us look now at the next document, 4D1353. It's a map
19 developed on the basis of this document by Sefer Halilovic we have just
20 looked at. It was made by General Petkovic.
21 Could you now on this map, which is also on the screen, mark
22 where at that time, and that was September 1992, your unit was, that is,
23 the Croatian Army was.
24 A. September 1992, the Croatian Army was in this area.
25 Q. Could you put letters HV there and sign.
1 A. [Marks]
2 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] And I would ask for an IC number
3 for this map.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Registrar, can we have an IC
5 number for the map, please.
6 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, Your Honour. The marked version of document
7 4D1353 shall be given Exhibit IC1098. Thank you, Your Honours.
8 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
9 Q. Now, General, we'll look at two documents, skipping the next one,
10 to see what was going on with you in your unit. First P326. It's an
11 order issued on the 13th July, 1992, signed by Janko Bobetko, sent also
12 to TG-2. It says "Colonel Beneta."
13 Tell me, what orders did you receive herein?
14 A. This order orders me to hand over the defence positions around
15 the town of Stolac to the Croatian Defence Council. In fact, also the
16 unit that was then in defence positions were to be handed over to the
17 1st Brigade of the HVO.
18 Q. Let us clarify in follow-up to the question by Judge Antonetti.
19 In legal terms you were entering Stolac as an occupying force, and you
20 had certain special powers as a military commander. What happened with
21 these special powers after the hand-over of Stolac? Did you continue to
22 hold these powers or not?
23 A. No, I no longer had any of those powers. I had turned over both
24 the area of responsibility and the forces defending that area to the
25 1st Brigade of the Croatian Defence Council.
1 Q. All right. Let's look at the next document, 4D1406. It's an
2 order from Milivoj Petkovic, dated 1st August 1992, and item 1 says that
3 by 7 August 1992, the sectors of defence of the 116th and the 114th
4 Brigades of the Croatian Army shall be taken over by units from Grude,
5 Ljubuski, and Citluk.
6 What happened following this order?
7 A. I am aware of it, and pursuant to that order I turned over also
8 that area that a unit of the Croatian Army under me was holding north of
9 Stolac, marked on the map as north A. That part, too, I handed over to a
10 unit of the HVO, and I moved lower to defend Slano, taking up positions
11 to the left and right of a place called Zavala, towards the exit in the
12 direction of Popovo Polje.
13 Q. This place Slano is in the territory of which state?
14 A. It's a coastal settlement in the territory of Croatia.
15 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] May I now ask the usher to show
16 the witness another map to be placed on the ELMO. I hope it will work
17 this time.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] One moment.
19 Witness, you're telling us that you handed over to the HVO all
20 your powers. The document is fairly clear on that. The area you were
21 occupying, is this a part of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina?
22 Well, it is. So why did you not hand over your authority to the Army of
23 Bosnia-Herzegovina? Why did you hand your authority over to the HVO?
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, at that time in that area
25 there was no BH Army, none. There were only forces of the HVO.
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] And let's assume that if the
2 Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina had been there, what would you have done?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, can I tell you before
4 that a situation that actually happened, and then I'll answer your
6 When I was planning the operation to liberate Stolac, I had
7 assistance from Muslims who had remained in Stolac under Serb occupation.
8 When we were mounting and preparing our defence, the Muslims joined the
9 Croatian Defence Council and defended their hometown. At one point a man
10 called Mahmutcehajic wanted to form a unit of the BH Army in Stolac. I
11 enabled him to do so, and I asked that proportionally to the strength of
12 the unit he was forming he take over a part of the front line, because I
13 thought it was fair.
14 Three or four days later, around 30 young men, mainly Muslims,
15 came to the command of the sector that I had formed and asked to be
16 included in a that unit that I had positioned in defence, saying that
17 they were not going to set up any army just because an individual wanted
18 it to be so, and they had no equipment, no uniforms. And after that I
19 went back to that man and asked him if he still wanted to stick with his
20 original plan or he wanted to join the joint defence. He agreed, and he
21 became assistant commander of the Stolac sector for logistics.
22 No one would have been happier than I had we been able, had we
23 had the wherewithal to create a unit of the BH Army that would have taken
24 up part of the front line, because my men were getting killed every day
25 defending that line.
1 That attempt failed not because of my unwillingness, but because
2 of the local people who wanted instead to join a force that in that area
3 was the best prepared, the best trained, the best equipped, the most
5 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
6 Q. Thank you, General. Now we can deal with the map on the ELMO.
7 Tell me, did you draw this map over the past few days when we
8 were preparing for your testimony?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Can you explain to the Judges what this map shows?
11 A. This map shows the situation from September 1992 onwards.
12 Conditionally, I divided it into two parts. I'm showing the first part
13 now where one unit of the Croatian Army was still holding positions.
14 Very shortly afterwards, within a month, that unit, too, turned over that
15 area of responsibility to an HVO unit. I think it was the
16 Ravno Battalion. And this Croatian Army unit withdrew to the shaded area
17 I'm showing now. I shaded only the area on the other side of the border
18 that belongs to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and somewhere in that area that's
19 how the border went, and important topographic features were taken on
20 both sides of the border and defence was held throughout the war.
21 Q. This border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina is this
22 black line; right?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Can you tell us, what is the width of this territory at the
25 beginning of this section that is strongly shaded?
1 A. When you climb up the macadam road, up the hill, for one
2 kilometre approximately, that's where the border is. And then it varies
3 from 4 kilometres to 8 kilometres all the way up to Dubrovnik. Sorry, 4
4 kilometres to 800 metres all the way to Dubrovnik.
5 Q. General, can you repeat when you were talking about the width --
6 it's now been -- it's now been corrected. Thank you.
7 This territory that you're talking about, it's between the sea
8 and the Bosnian border.
9 A. Yes, I'm talking about the territory between the sea and the
10 border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the positions of Croatian forces
11 were either a bit further south inside Croatian territory or a bit more
12 forward up to 1, 1.5 kilometres. It depended more on topography than on
13 the physical border itself, because soldiers simply have their own rules
14 of action and they cannot take up positions in a depression just because
15 the border lies there.
16 Q. Let us define for the Judges, General, the width of this area
17 inside Bosnian territory at the narrowest point and at the widest point.
18 A. The widest point would be precisely from Slano towards Zavala,
19 around 8 kilometres, and the narrow part would be 100 metres from the
20 border. The front line was inside the Croatian territory, actually,
21 which we can't see on the map because topography did not allow it any
22 other way.
23 Q. Sign this map, too, General, and then I would like to ask for a
25 A. [Marks]
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] General, I have a technical
2 question. I don't have the Strugar indictment at hand when he bombed
3 Dubrovnik. However, could you tell us whether what you have mentioned
4 occurred before or after the bombing of Dubrovnik?
5 Did you understand my question? We have a map here on the ELMO
6 where we see Dubrovnik and the front line. I would like to know whether
7 this map was drawn before or after the shelling of Dubrovnik.
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, the shelling of
9 Dubrovnik lasted for quite a while, so I can't tell you that this
10 happened on a certain date. This was the situation after Croatian forces
11 lifted the blockade of Dubrovnik. Thus from the area of Slano -- or,
12 rather, Ston, a breakthrough was made towards Dubrovnik, and a bit later
13 the conditions were created for a noncombat takeover in the south with a
14 minor skirmish only, and this situation here is following all that, after
15 the Croatian forces successfully controlled not only the ground forces of
16 infantry but also tried to control the enemy artillery to stop them from
17 shelling Dubrovnik, because they were still doing it occasionally with
18 the largest calibres. However, we did not take any offensive operations
19 because of that.
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. You answered my
21 question. Now I would like to know the following: If the Croatian Army
22 had not been positioned as it is here on the map, above Dubrovnik, then
23 the service -- the Serbian forces would have been close to Dubrovnik and
24 it would have placed Dubrovnik in jeopardy, and you said that was the
25 reason why they used heavy artillery to shell Dubrovnik. Was that the
1 gist of your answer?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. They shelled Dubrovnik with
3 heavy artillery before this area was liberated. There was even direct
4 shooting from smaller calibres. They reduced their activity to the
5 greater calibres only when we pushed them away from Dubrovnik.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. So if I understand
7 you correctly, this is the first time that I'm looking into the situation
8 of Dubrovnik. If I understand correctly, if the Croatian Army hadn't
9 been there, Dubrovnik would have been in jeopardy because the Serbian
10 forces would have invaded the territory of BiH where the BiH -- where the
11 ABiH was not present, and could have easily shelled and attacked
12 Dubrovnik, which is why the Croatian Army had to be present in this area.
13 Is this what you're trying to convey?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, that is the very
15 essence the military situation. Not because I say so, but it was like
16 that on the ground. Dubrovnik was literally hanging on a thread. The
17 only connection that we had with Dubrovnik, which was a pearl of Croatian
18 culture, was by sea and at night, and we used small and fast vessels
19 to -- to go through the Yugoslav navy vessels.
20 JUDGE PRANDLER: I'm sorry to interrupt you, Ms. Alaburic, but I
21 would I like to have a follow-up question only. Here what we are having
22 in front of us as far as the map is concerned, it is from August 1992.
23 My question is that - I'm not very familiar now as far as the dates are
24 concerned with Dubrovnik - if when the siege of Dubrovnik has been
25 terminated by the Croatian army, it is what I would like to ask you, was
1 it before 1992 August or afterwards, if you remember the date.
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The attack operation on the
3 southern theatre of war to liberate Dubrovnik started on the 30th or 31st
4 of May, 1992. It lasted three to four days, and we broke through enemy
5 positions on both sides of the border, that is from the coastline all the
6 way to Popovo Polje, and hereabouts the forces were stopped partly due to
7 the intervention of the international community, I believe. And after a
8 few months, but I can't give you an exact date, after long and tough
9 negotiations an agreement was signed on a ship of the international
10 forces, I don't know which country it belonged to. So there was an
11 agreement between General Bobetko and the enemy force, that they would
12 leave the entire area all the way to Prevlaka, but the agreement didn't
13 define all -- any elements, because it mentioned a -- the departure of
14 the Yugoslav People's Army, but the plan was for the forces from the
15 Republika Srpska, that is from a part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to enter
16 that area suddenly, which would have meant that the agreement had been
17 honoured, technically, but Croatia wouldn't have gotten back its
19 When the agreement entered into force, the Croatian forces landed
20 from the sea in that area and soon reached a topographically significant
21 area. There was a brief fighting and we were able to -- to take the
22 Serbian forces by surprise and put the territory -- territory under our
23 control where it remained until the end of the war.
24 JUDGE PRANDLER: Thank you, General. Thank you.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] We need an IC number for this
2 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, Your Honour. The map just marked by the
3 witness shall be given Exhibit IC1099. Thank you, Your Honours.
4 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
5 Q. General, just for the sake of a better understanding of the map,
6 let us explain once more. Once we draw a borderline, we assume that
7 everybody knows where the border is, so please confirm that the black
8 line that you drew is the international border between Croatia and Bosnia
9 and Herzegovina. Perhaps we should return the map.
10 My friend Mr. Stewart has just told me that it all just isn't
11 clear enough. So if I could ask the usher to oblige. Could we put the
12 map back on the ELMO, please, and I'll also ask my friend Mr. Stewart to
13 keep an eye on everything to see whether everything is clear.
14 General, let's proceed in the following manner: Mark the
15 territory of the Republic of Croatia with a number 1.
16 A. [Marks]
17 Q. Perhaps we can use a marker that is more conspicuous.
18 A. [Marks]
19 Q. So a number 1 to mark the territory of Croatia. And now please
20 write BiH on the territory that belongs to that country.
21 A. [Marks]
22 Q. All right. And now please show us which is territory controlled
23 by Serbian authorities including the VRS.
24 A. [Indicates]
25 Q. The red line is the one representing it?
1 A. East of this dotted red line is the territory controlled by the
2 forces of the Republika Srpska in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
3 Q. Now, please put a number 2 on the territory controlled by the
5 A. [Marks]
6 Q. And now let's go to the part of Bosnia and Herzegovina controlled
7 by the Muslim and Croatian authorities.
8 A. The Muslim and Croatian authorities control this part of Bosnia
9 and Herzegovina, and I will mark it with a number 3.
10 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I'm sorry, Witness. When I look at the map, did
11 you not put the H of Herzegovina into Serb-controlled area? The H of
12 BiH, it is not on a territory now which is actually controlled by Serbs.
13 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, we wanted to say
14 that this is the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the country,
15 irrespective of the effective control, and the number 2 stands for the
16 Serbs, and the number 3 for Croats and Muslims. I believe that it is
17 clear now.
18 Q. Thank you very much, General.
19 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I apologise. Thank you.
20 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] It's all right. And now there is
21 another document about this subject, and I believe we'll be able to deal
22 with it until the break. So the document number is 4D475. We have
23 already seen the document in this -- in this courtroom. It is a document
24 by Miljenko Lasic, the commander of the zone of operations of South-east
25 Herzegovina and under item 3, which is on page 3 for you, he describes
1 his neighbours. It reads:
2 "To the south, right-hand side of us, defence is organised by the
3 116th Brigade of the Croatian Army."
4 Tell us, General, is this position of your brigade as stated
5 here, does it coincide with what we have just seen on that map?
6 A. Yes. This is that situation briefly described, but don't be
7 confused by this -- by this language "south" and in brackets, "right-hand
8 side," because it was actually to the south-east.
9 Q. And if we recall your biography, then we'll see that you stayed
10 there until March 1993 on these positions, namely, and then you returned
11 to Croatia; is that correct?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. According to your knowledge, did the brigade -- or the
14 Croatian Army stay there until the end of the war?
15 A. Yes, it did. And there wasn't significant movement, and I've
16 already explained how the Croatian Army forces entered the southern
18 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, we would like to go
19 into the liberation of Stolac now, so this may be a convenient moment for
20 a break and then start a new subject.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, you're right. It's time
22 for a 20-minute break.
23 --- Recess taken at 5.32 p.m.
24 --- On resuming at 5.54 p.m.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The court is back in session.
1 Mr. Stewart, you have the floor.
2 MR. STEWART: Your Honour, just very briefly. Your Honour, the
3 Prosecution have put in a list. There's only one item on it for an
4 exhibit to be tendered through -- to be admitted that was tendered
5 through Witness Gorjanc, the expert witness. We have put in our IC list
6 in the normal way asking for a number of items. Each of these
7 submissions requires a little bit more than the usual thought and
8 response, and I've discussed it with Mr. Stringer. Your Honour, subject
9 to Your Honours' approval, we would ask that we each have until Thursday
10 to respond to give our objections to the other's application.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. The Trial Chamber
12 is extending the deadline to Thursday.
13 Ms. Alaburic.
14 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours.
15 Q. General, let us now go into the issue of the liberation of
16 Stolac. Although, you have already said something about that, but we'll
17 try to deal with it systematically.
18 Tell us, to start with, the OTP in these proceedings has tried to
19 put forward several times the thesis that there was no fighting for
20 Stolac, that the Serbs merely walked out of Stolac, and that it may be
21 the outcome of some kind of agreement between the Serbs and the Croats.
22 Can you, as an eyewitness, say what -- what this was all about?
23 Was there any fighting at Stolac?
24 A. There was fighting for Stolac in which three of my soldiers were
25 killed, and there were several dozen wounded. The commander of the
1 defence of Stolac, a major by rank, in the VRS was killed and one of his
2 staff officers, and three other staff members of his were taken prisoner.
3 There was fighting for each and every position around Stolac, and
4 I must admit that I am astonished by such a view. We began the operation
5 in such a way that the intelligence organ of the 116th Brigade agreed
6 with the Muslim population from Stolac to accommodate a number of my
7 fighters and hide them away until the beginning of the attack. I didn't
8 expect it, but it happened that the Muslim representatives of the
9 authority, anticipating an attack, sent over -- sent a significant number
10 of civilians to my side of the confrontation line, and so we asked the --
11 our high command to organise and provide buses, and this population that
12 had fled Stolac was moved out of my area of responsibility and out of the
13 range of artillery.
14 After that, the attack started on -- in the afternoon of the
15 following day, but it was unsuccessful. It was repeated on the day after
16 that in the morning, but with success that time. And the things that I
17 mentioned occurred then, I mean the losses. And by midday, everything
18 was clear except for a position east of Stolac for which I didn't have
19 enough forces. At that moment, I was assisted by a unit commanded by
20 Dragan Curcic of the HVO, who took that hill which -- which could
21 threaten the town of Stolac, and a high-ranking officer from the command
22 of the zone of operation was almost killed when my commanders came to
23 inspect the situation.
24 So I completely disagree with the -- with the statement that the
25 Serbs walked away, and which can be corroborated that the very commander
1 of the defence was killed in the operation.
2 Q. So, General, you entered Stolac with your troops. Was there a
3 functioning civilian authority there which, until the beginning of the
4 attack, took care of the -- of civilians at Stolac?
5 A. No. When we entered Stolac, I have already said that the first
6 attack was unsuccessful, so that the second wave of people who had fled
7 Stolac turned up on the first evening after the unsuccessful attack,
8 because it was clear that another attack would be -- would follow.
9 The -- after two days of fighting, the Serbian population left the area
10 with the troops, but the Serbs were a minority at Stolac. We didn't --
11 we hardly saw any Serbian civilians there once we entered. And the
12 conditions had to be created for the return of the civilian population to
14 Q. We have minor problems with the transcript, so I would ask you,
15 General, to repeat the part about the second wave of refugees. So what
16 happened after the first unsuccessful attack?
17 A. After the first unsuccessful attack, the representatives of the
18 Muslim local authorities organised a group of civilians to leave Stolac
19 and cross the confrontation line to the side that I controlled, and that
20 second wave was also taken by buses away from the combat activities.
21 On the following day -- what I just described happened during the
22 night. And on the following day, in the morning, we attacked again, but
23 this time with success. We took control of all most important positions
24 around Stolac except for one. It was the detachment of -- called Bozan
25 commanded by Dragan Curcic that actually took that position, and thus
1 conditions were created to maintain defence positions and prepare for a
2 counter-attack which was to be expected in the coming period.
3 So Stolac was a vacated town, and around Stolac the forces of the
4 HV and the HVO held their positions. The establishment of civilian
5 authorities ...
6 Q. I was about to ask you about the establishment of civilian
7 authorities. So you enter Stolac. There's no one. The only organised
8 force is the army. You're in charge. And tell us, General, do you take
9 any steps toward the establishment of civilian authorities at Stolac?
10 A. It was a joint effort in which I took part to organise life at
11 Stolac, because there were indications that the population wanted to
12 return to Stolac and the surrounding areas where they had their homes and
13 land. There was also the wish of the persons who are -- or persons of
14 esteem with both the Muslim and Croatian authorities who wanted to bring
15 Stolac back to normal life.
16 Q. Do you remember approximately how much time elapsed since your
17 entry into Stolac and the establishment of a body of civilian authority?
18 A. For a few days there was intensive shelling from both sides, in
19 parallel with some talks with the Serbian side about exchanging the
20 dead bodies, but there were no conditions for civilian life, but about a
21 week after the successful attack the civilians from the area -- it was
22 both the civilians from the area and myself who launched this initiative
23 to create the conditions for the refugees to return, and around about the
24 1st of July there was a meeting between the representatives of the Muslim
25 and the Croatian communities where I put forward the military and
1 security related situation, but I also demanded from them that they take
2 upon them their responsibility, because there was an increasing pressure
3 for the civilian population to return, which they should be enabled to
5 Q. I'm going to show you the testimony of a Prosecution witness.
6 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] It was a protective -- protected
7 witness. Therefore, I ask the Trial Chamber to move into private
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Registrar.
10 [Private session]
11 Page 46597 redacted. Private session.
6 [Open session]
7 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, we're back in open session. Thank
9 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
10 Q. So, General, is it correct that at that meeting on the 1st of
11 July it was agreed that a Crisis Staff be established that will be made
12 up of 50 per cent Muslims and 50 per cent Croats and that it will
13 discharge civilian authority?
14 A. Yes. That is correct, and I believe that the witness described
15 the very meeting that I mentioned.
16 Q. The name Zeljko Raguz as president of that Crisis Staff, is it
17 familiar to you?
18 A. Yes, it is. He was the president of the Crisis Staff.
19 Q. Toward the end of 1992, Mr. Andjelko Markovic is mentioned as the
20 person discharging civilian authority at Stolac. Do you have any
21 knowledge about that or was it much later?
22 A. I left the area in early August, so that must have been after my
23 departure, and I have no knowledge about it.
24 Q. I would now like to ask you, General, to explain to the Trial
25 Chamber whether or not a military unit was being established of -- and
1 that consisted of the civilian population from Stolac. Do you know
2 anything about it, and if so, did you play any role in it?
3 A. Yes. When I entered Stolac, I positioned a battalion to defend
4 Stolac, which consisted to a great part of Croats from that area, and
5 they carried out the attack in co-operation with the local Muslim
6 leaders. Through the talks and conversations I had those days, it seemed
7 to me very logical to make an offer to the Muslims' authority there,
8 namely that younger Muslims should be included in the defence activities
9 together with ethnic Croats.
10 They accepted that. They invited young people to a place we had
11 agreed on previously as sheltered from observation from the Serbian side,
12 in the canyon of Bregava River, and over 400 people gathered there. I
13 divided what used to be a battalion into two parts, and in every squad as
14 the lowest-ranking unit, ten men strong, when I divided them - there was
15 five people in each - and I placed in each squad five people of Muslim
16 ethnicity, and thus I created two battalions of around 200 men each, with
17 a 50/50 ratio in ethnic terms.
18 Q. What about the commanding officers?
19 A. I accepted the Muslim share in leadership, but I placed two
20 Croats in commanding positions. The commander of one battalion was
21 Edin Obradovic, who had the required military skill and experience
22 because he was a former JNA officer. And in the same way we found a few
23 more people who had certain military skills and gave them appointments in
24 those two newly established battalions.
25 Q. How did Croat soldiers react, soldiers of Croat ethnicity, to
1 your efforts to include Muslims into military units?
2 A. Most of them accepted it, some with a certain amount of
3 grumbling. A few were strongly opposed. Most of these defiant ones I
4 managed to persuade from a military, human, ethical point of view, that
5 it was the only fair solution, the only right one. And two men who no
6 longer wanted to be part of this I sent away from the battalion and they
7 were no longer members.
8 Q. These two that you sent away, they had been opposed to the
9 creation of a joint Muslim-Croat army; correct?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. At that time, towards the end of June when all these operations
12 had been finished, did you organise a meeting of representatives of
13 military units, commanding officers, to see what to do next and compare
15 A. Yes. There was a meeting, a high-level meeting, in Grude, I
16 believe - I'm not quite sure - attended by Mate Boban, a few more people
17 from the Croatian government of the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna.
18 There was Mr. Petkovic. I can't remember the others, but those I named
19 are certainly -- were certainly there.
20 Q. Did Mr. Petkovic give a speech then?
21 A. Yes. He gave a cross-section of the situation from the military
22 point of view, and he presented very frankly the problems we were facing.
23 Surprisingly frankly, in my view. But I can say that I followed him with
24 a great amount of understanding.
25 Q. P279 is going to be our next document.
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, I'd like to get back
2 to what you've said, because this is important. You explained to us that
3 there was fighting in Stolac, and in the month of August 1992, the
4 Muslims had been placed on buses in order to protect them and they'd left
5 the town. And then you took control of the town because the Serbs had
6 been defeated. Therefore, at the time you enter Stolac, there are no
7 Serbs left, there are no Muslims left, there are only the soldiers you
8 are commanding. Was that exactly what the situation was like?
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] We were the only people there.
10 There were no civilians there. It was an empty town. There was nothing
11 to govern in an empty town.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] In the 1991 census, the town of
13 Stolac. I don't mean the municipality. I mean the town. There were
14 recorded more than 5.000 inhabitants. So when you entered Stolac, there
15 were no more Muslim civilians left. At that time, did Croats from the
16 HVO tell you the Muslims must not come back. All we need to do is have a
17 municipality that is solely inhabited by Croats, and then we can set up a
18 Croatian brigade. Did people tell you this or did nobody mention this to
19 you, and you on your own bat decided to set up these two battalions, one
20 being a Croatian one, the other a Muslim one?
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, if someone had told me
22 that earlier or even at that time, I would have obviously gone against
23 the orders or any such suggestion, because what I established there at
24 that time, and I have to emphasise this, not a Muslim unit and a
25 Croatian Army unit separated, but a joint army where each ethnicity was
1 represented 50/50 at the level of every company and every battalion. It
2 was mixed, 50/50, at every level. And I formed a Joint Command for these
3 two battalions, and I called them the command of sector Stolac.
4 And let me stress one more thing. At a point, that attempt that
5 I had described earlier of establishing the BH Army, which had met with
6 my understanding but eventually failed, these people now were also
7 included in the joint forces of defence.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. What did you do to
9 get the Muslim population back, those that had left on board the buses?
10 Did you ask them to come back? What did you personally do?
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Right after combat died down, I
12 asked for a Crisis Staff to be set up, because that term was the easiest
13 to use in the circumstances, because everyone knew what it meant and what
14 the jurisdiction, the powers of a Crisis Staff are. I asked for that
15 Crisis Staff, and both ethnic communities, Muslim and Croat alike,
16 accepted it and accepted that it be mixed, 50/50. That's the way they
17 set it up.
18 From that moment on, they started rapidly assuming all the
19 functions of civilian authority, organised the return of the population,
20 protection of property, transportation, medical services, supply, and all
21 the other aspects of restoring life to normal, relatively normal.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Well, a while ago you said that
23 you had captured some Serbs. What became of them? Did you imprison
24 them? Were they exchanged? What happened to them?
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] My obligations as a commander were
1 to turn over prisoners to the military police, and that's where my
2 obligations ended. I really cannot tell you what happened with them
3 after that.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So you handed them over to the
5 military police. The military police of the HVO, was it, or the military
6 police of the Croatian Army?
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, it was the HV,
8 Croatian Army, police, because at that time the HVO did not have its
9 police in that area.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] All right. The Croatian
11 politicians who were part of the crisis cell, well, were they reluctant
12 to see Muslims alongside them? Were they happy about it? Did they find
13 it a normal situation to have a 50/50 ratio or not?
14 A. The men who were initiated to become part of that Crisis Staff
15 had that kind of personality that it was very likely they would accept
16 it, and these people had authority among the population. But I also have
17 to stress that on the Muslim side there was a wide variety of attitudes
18 and thinking. And they also had to look for the right people for
19 co-operation. And what I carried away from that meeting as my conclusion
20 was that we did a good thing, that the best people had been chosen, and
21 that this was -- had a good chance of success.
22 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
23 Q. From what you know, did Croat and Muslim refugees then return to
24 Stolac or not?
25 A. Yes. At the time when I was there, for another 10 or so days, I
1 noticed the first large groups of civilians coming back to Stolac and to
2 their places around Stolac. I mean Muslims and Croats alike. Muslims
3 even came back in greater numbers because they had not been long gone,
4 and they had not had time to resettle in Croatia, whereas Croats had been
5 refugees for a longer time and for all sorts of reasons. They needed
6 more time to start returning.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] One moment.
8 Registrar, let's move into private session, because I need to say
10 [Private session]
22 [Open session]
23 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, we're back in open session. Thank
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Ms. Alaburic.
1 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, let me just say that
2 I acted the way we always acted whenever we wanted to quote a protected
3 witness, private session, full name and surname. And when we wanted to
4 use only initials, we did that in open session. I really tried very hard
5 to do the right thing, and I'm sorry this -- I made an error.
6 Q. Witness, we are discussing the return of refugees. You told us
7 Muslims were returning in larger numbers than Croats, and that leads me
8 to my next question.
9 At that time, did you ever notice that anyone in the military
10 authorities or any one of the members of the Crisis Staff took any step
11 whatsoever to prevent the Muslim refugees willing to return from coming
13 A. No. I never noticed anyone even thinking it, let alone doing
14 something. And the return of refugees depended mostly on personal
15 decisions of the people, but nobody did anyone [as interpreted] to
16 prevent them.
17 Q. All right. Let's go back to that meeting we had mentioned and
18 where you told us General Petkovic addressed it, although he wasn't a
19 general then.
20 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Document P279, please.
21 Q. This is a document we received from the Prosecution as the
22 introductory statement of General Petkovic. We don't know where, at
23 which meeting, and we do not know whether the words noted here had ever
24 really been uttered. That's why I'm going to ask you, General Beneta, to
25 the best of your recollection, at that meeting did Mr. Petkovic read from
1 a paper or not?
2 A. General Petkovic spoke. He spoke looking at his audience. I
3 would say that he spoke from the heart. I think he was inspired in that
4 speech, and he was saying the things that I believed, too, namely that in
5 that area where I was with my unit of the Croatian Army, I was
6 encountering the same problems that he was describing in his address.
7 Q. At a meeting in June 1992, was it clear who the enemy was?
8 A. Abundantly clear.
9 Q. Who was the enemy?
10 A. The Yugoslav People's Army and the armed forces of Republika
12 JUDGE TRECHSEL: May I ask a question particularly regarding
14 Mr. Petkovic sets out the tasks in four points. One is to put
15 under control the remaining area of Croatian municipalities, and number
16 four, to establish Croatian rule over all municipalities.
17 Now, I do not quite see how this relates to the Serbs being the
18 enemy. Doesn't it -- it not look as if there were a problem, at least, a
19 problem also with the Muslims, with the non-Croats generally?
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I don't know where
21 you drew that inference from when it is said:
22 "Place under control the remaining territory of Croatian
24 Back then and today, still I understood that as an area populated
25 by Croats in a percentage that is absolutely significant. I don't think
1 he meant to say absolutely Croatian and turned against everyone else.
2 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
3 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
4 Q. General, one of the issues important to us now is whether what is
5 stated here on paper was ever uttered at that meeting. So I'm asking you
6 now. If I understood you correctly, then you said that General Petkovic
7 at that meeting didn't read at all but looked at his audience and gave an
8 inspired speech. Did I understand you correctly?
9 A. Yes. I cannot say which percentage of this was actually said,
10 but I can say that he spoke in an inspired manner looking at us, and I
11 nodded in agreement several times because it seemed to me that he had hit
12 the nail on the head as he was speaking. But whether he actually read
13 out this entire text, I don't know.
14 Q. General, at this meeting was there a proposition, implicit or
15 explicit, in any manner, that the Muslims were the enemies of the Croats
16 or that they would become their enemies one day?
17 A. No. At that meeting, no such thing was said, and if it had been,
18 it would not have been in accordance with the situation on the ground,
19 because at those days, I actually established a unit consisting of
20 Muslims and Croats at Stolac.
21 Q. General, tell us to whom did you hand over your military duties
22 at Stolac before you left?
23 A. The sector of Stolac with the zone of responsibility and the
24 forces defending that zone I handed over to the first brigade of the HVO.
25 Q. Thank you, General. Our next witness will continue speaking
1 about this issue in relation to Stolac, and let us pass over to the next
2 issue. The working title is "Operation South." This is our last topic,
3 so we may actually finish your examination today.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Just a minute.
5 General, I would like to remain on this document of June 26,
6 1992, before Stolac was taken by yourself.
7 General Petkovic seems to be making a speech. At this document
8 it's never mentioned that the enemy would be the Muslims. However, there
9 is a strange sentence, item 4 where it says:
10 "To establish Croatian rule over all municipalities."
11 Municipalities which are not under HVO control, i.e., Mostar and
13 So according to you, what can this mean? To establish Croatian
14 rule over these municipalities? What did he have in mind when he said
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I apologise, but
17 which sentence are you referring to?
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] This is on paragraph four, in
19 the fourth paragraph. You have four bullet points, 1, 2, 3 and 4. I'm
20 interested in bullet point number 4.
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The item:
22 "To establish Croatian rule over all municipalities."
23 That was going on in practice the way I explained. So one week
24 after this was said, on the 1st of July a joint Staff of Croats and
25 Muslims at Stolac was established, and it was partly my initiative. At
1 that time, I took these words to mean the establishment of authority, and
2 that authority at Stolac in all segments and in every aspect of its
3 function was leaning on the Republic of Croatia. Not for political
4 reasons, but there was no communication with anybody else. No truck with
5 food or medicine for the population could have come from anywhere but
6 from Croatia. So this language here I understood and implemented on the
7 ground in the way that I have already described.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Thank you.
9 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, with regard to this
10 document, I would like us to state for the transcript that the
11 Prosecution hasn't submitted any evidence that the text that we see
12 before us on paper was ever uttered at any meeting. So we should keep
13 this in mind. And General Petkovic, who signed this document, can
14 certainly explain the meaning of any of its part, and I'm sure you will
15 ask him about it.
16 Q. General, let us move to Operation South. To start with, tell us
17 when that operation took place.
18 A. Operation South took place in mid-July 1993.
19 Q. Tell us whether that was really an operation in the sense as
20 defined by the JNA doctrine, because we have heard of differences in
21 the -- with regard to the notion of operation between the Yugoslav
22 doctrine and the NATO doctrine.
23 A. Yes, there are such differences. In accordance with the doctrine
24 that was known there at the time would not be considered an operation
25 but, rather, a battle that took a very short time and small forces were
1 involved. And under this definition of "operation," this doesn't qualify
2 as one, but merely as a battle, as an attempt.
3 Q. General, where were you at the time in 1993?
4 A. Since the end of March of that year, I was transferred to the
5 command of the military district of Split, and I was chief of
6 anti-aircraft defence at a command. I dealt with -- I dealt with the
7 issues related to the defence of the pontoon bridge near Zadar which was
8 the only connection between the south and the north of Croatian at the
10 Q. All right. Tell us, General, who sent you to participate in
11 Operation South?
12 A. Mr. Dzanko, who at the time held the rank of colonel in the
13 Croatian Army, and he was the deputy commander of the army district.
14 Q. The verb is missing from this transcript. What did Mr. Dzanko
15 do, did he ask you or order you, or what did he do?
16 A. He asked me to take part.
17 Q. Could you please repeat your answer, General.
18 A. Colonel Dzanko came to my observation point and asked me whether
19 I was willing to accompany him to South-east Herzegovina, because an
20 operation was to be staged there. I was in a position to refuse or
21 accept to accompany him. I eventually accepted.
22 Q. The transcript read "He ordered me to take part." That's why
23 we're repeating.
24 Tell us, General, if you had refused that request, would you have
25 suffered any detrimental consequences?
1 A. No. There would have been no detrimental consequences for me if
2 I had refused.
3 Q. Tell us, who was it that defined your task in that operation?
4 A. My task was defined by Mr. Dzanko at -- at the commander's
5 reconnaissance that we carried out.
6 Q. Tell me, how did Mr. Dzanko define your task?
7 A. In the introductory part when he was describing the military
8 situation to me, he said that the Muslim forces were preparing to attack
9 in the direction of the Neretva valley. When we say that, we mean the
10 Neretva delta. That is Croatian territory, which leads to the town of
11 Ploce, which is on the coast. He said that we must plan the operation,
12 an attack operation, in which the 1st and the 3rd Brigades of the HVO
13 would take part in the area south of Mostar.
14 Q. Should a part of the HVO's special unit Ludvig Pavlovic have
15 taken part in the operation?
16 A. Yes, it should have.
17 Q. Which area was to be liberated in that action?
18 A. It was our task to liberate the area between the southern
19 outskirts of Mostar up until Buna, which was controlled by Muslim forces.
20 That should have been cut through, and thus the forces south of that
21 area, that means around Blagaj, would have been cut off, and they would
22 be forced to surrender.
23 Q. According to those plans, when was the operation to begin?
24 A. It was to begin on the 13th of July.
25 Q. Did it really start on that day?
1 A. No, it did not, because in the night during -- or, rather, before
2 the start of the operation which was to commence at dawn, considerable
3 forces of the ABiH had moved through two -- two HVO brigades and
4 attacked --
5 Q. I apologise, General. For the sake of the transcript, can you
6 repeat the part about the forces of the ABiH that broke through? What --
7 A. No, they didn't break through. They infiltrated. So without
8 fighting. At night-time. They were able to move through the combat
9 disposition of the defending forces without the defenders ever noticing.
10 Q. When you say "defenders," who do you mean?
11 A. The forces of the 1st and 3rd Brigades of the HVO.
12 Q. All right. So they infiltrated. And what happened then?
13 A. Fighting broke out behind those brigades, behind their positions,
14 and there were killed and wounded soldiers on both sides. And it went on
15 that night, the following day, and the following night. Only on the day
16 that followed the first reports became available and it was possible to
17 make the first analyses. Militarily, the situation was very complex.
18 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, my following
19 questions refer to the statements made by the Prosecution witnesses about
20 these actions, and I will have some documents about that that constitute
21 a whole, so I believe now would be a logical time to break and start
22 something new tomorrow.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Absolutely. As far as time is
24 concerned, I think you have about 30 minutes left. The registrar will
25 check. Altogether you had three hours at the beginning. I said there
1 were to be about 30 minutes, not 13.
2 Witness, you will come back tomorrow morning because we're
3 sitting in the morning. Please be here for the 9.00 hearing tomorrow and
4 make the necessary arrangements.
5 Ms. Alaburic, you have used two hours and 24 minutes so far, so
6 you have 36 minutes left. Thank you.
7 I wish you all a pleasant evening. See you tomorrow.
8 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 6.58 p.m.,
9 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 10th day
10 of November, 2009, at 9.00 a.m.