1 Monday, 23 November 2009
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 2.16 p.m.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Registrar, kindly call the
7 THE REGISTRAR: Good afternoon, Your Honours. Good afternoon,
8 everyone in and around the courtroom.
9 This is case number IT-04-74-T, the Prosecutor versus Prlic
10 et al. Thank you, Your Honours.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. Registrar.
12 Today is Monday, 23rd of November, 2009. Let me first greet the
13 accused, the Defence counsel, and all the OTP representatives, together
14 with all the people assisting us.
15 Mr. Registrar, you have a couple of IC numbers for us.
16 THE REGISTRAR: That's correct, Your Honour. Thank you.
17 Some parties have submitted lists of documents to be tendered
18 through Witness Bozo Pavlovic. The list submitted by 4D shall be given
19 Exhibit IC01116. The list submitted by 1D shall be given
20 Exhibit IC01117. The list submitted by 2D shall be given
21 Exhibit IC01118. The list submitted by 3D shall be given
22 Exhibit IC01119. The list submitted by 5D shall be given
23 Exhibit IC01120. And, finally, the list submitted by the Prosecution
24 shall be given Exhibit IC01121.
25 Thank you, Your Honours.
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Registrar.
2 The Trial Chamber has three oral rulings. The first oral ruling
3 is as follows:
4 Just before the opening of the hearing, we heard that Mr. Kovacic
5 wanted to take the floor to ask leave to reply to the motion for
6 documentary evidence. The Trial Chamber deliberated the issue and
7 requests Mr. Kovacic to file his submissions in writing, by way of a
8 written motion, in which he will set out his reasons.
9 Second decision. It has to do with the time allotted for the
10 testimony of Witness 4D-AB.
11 Witness 4D-AB will be testifying this week. The Petkovic Defence
12 wishes to have three hours for their examination-in-chief and one hour
13 and a half for redirect, if any. Based on the two 65 ter summaries filed
14 by the Petkovic Defence, the Trial Chamber notes that Witness 4D-AB will
15 testify, inter alia, to the relations between Croats and Muslims in the
16 Konjic municipality in 1992 and 1993, the conflicts between the HVO and
17 the ABiH in that same municipality in 1993, and the departure of Croats
18 from the municipality in 1993.
19 The Trial Chamber is of the view that these various topics are,
20 in principle, outside the scope of the indictment and could only be
21 relevant if some specific stringent conditions are met that have already
22 been set out by the Trial Chamber, notably in its decision of the
23 21st of July, 2009.
24 The Trial Chamber rules, therefore, that three hours are
25 sufficient for the Petkovic Defence to carry out their
1 examination-in-chief and redirect, if any. In the absence of any
2 specific requests by the parties, the Trial Chamber hereby grants
3 three hours to the Prosecution for their cross-examination and a total of
4 one hour and a half to the other Defence teams for their
5 cross-examination of the witness.
6 So, in a nutshell, the Petkovic Defence will have three hours,
7 all included, for this witness. As to the other Defence teams, they will
8 have altogether one hour and a half, and the Prosecution will have three
10 Third oral ruling regarding motions for leave to add
11 Exhibit P11102. The Trial Chamber recall that this exhibit is a report
12 signed by Mr. Boro Antelj, who was the commander of the Herzegovina Corps
13 in the VRS. This document is dated the 25th of April, 1993, and deals
14 with relations between Croats and Muslims in the Konjic and Jablanica
15 municipalities in March 1993.
16 The Petkovic Defence, by way of motion filed on Friday,
17 20th of November, 2009, asked leave to add the exhibit to its 65 ter list
18 also because the Petkovic Defence plans to submit this document to the
19 witness we're going to hear soon. Therefore, the Trial Chamber asks the
20 Prosecution and the other Defence teams whether they have any objection
21 to this motion for leave to add the exhibit as filed by the
22 Petkovic Defence.
23 Let me turn to the Prosecution. Do you have any objection?
24 MR. BOS: No, Your Honours, we don't have an objection.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you.
1 Now turning to the other Defence teams, do you have any
2 objections? It doesn't seem to be the case.
3 Therefore, in the absence of any objections by the parties, and
4 inasmuch as the Trial Chamber believes that this, at first sight,
5 presents prima facie indicia of probative value, relevance, and
6 reliability, decides to add Exhibit P11102 to the Petkovic Defence's
7 65 ter list.
8 This witness, who is about to testify, has been granted
9 protective measures. Before he or she comes into the room and takes an
10 oath, I'll ask the usher to drop the blinds, and then they will be lifted
11 when the examination-in-chief begins.
12 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, while we're lowering
13 the blinds, I'd just like to say something briefly.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You're not supposed to speak --
15 if this is about the reply, we have already ruled, unless it is about
16 something else.
17 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Well, perhaps I can send a message.
18 That will be simpler, not to take up more time.
19 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, thank you for your
20 decisions, and I'd like to say good afternoon to you all.
21 I'd just like to clarify one point, and that is that we didn't
22 ask for an hour and a half for the redirect of this witness, but we had
23 only foreseen the possibility of needing up until one hour for redirect,
24 which might mean 10 minutes.
25 And as far as the importance of this witness's testimony is
1 concerned, we're going to try and demonstrate today how, in April 1993,
2 the conflict began between the Croats and Muslims. Thank you.
3 [The witness entered court]
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Let's move for a few moments
5 into private session, please, Mr. Registrar.
6 [Private session]
21 [Open session]
22 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, we're back in open session. Thank
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] In open session, let me say
25 this to the person who's about to testify: that he'll first answer
1 questions by Ms. Alaburic, and Ms. Alaburic will also submit documents to
2 him. They're to be found in a binder that the witness has in front of
3 him. After this examination, the other Defence counsel around
4 Ms. Alaburic, and they represent the other accused - Ms. Alaburic
5 represents Mr. Petkovic - the other Defence teams can also ask questions
6 of the witness, following which the Prosecutor, who's to your right, can
7 proceed to his cross-examination and ask questions. You have four Judges
8 in front of you. They can at any time put questions to you, based on
9 your answers to the parties or based on the documents submitted to you.
10 Witness, if you sense that there is a mistake in questions put by
11 Judges, for instance - it can happen - please do not hesitate and point
12 it out. Say why we said something wrong. It should not happen, but you
13 never know, so that you feel absolutely at ease with the questions put to
15 Be very specific in your answers, please. If you fail to
16 understand a question, please ask the person asking the question to
17 rephrase it.
18 We have breaks every hour and a half, but it may happen that you
19 don't feel well. Just point it out to us, and you can have a break then.
20 You have now become a witness of the Court, because you have
21 taken a solemn declaration. Therefore, you're not to have any contact
22 whatsoever with Ms. Alaburic or with anybody else because you are now a
23 witness for justice.
24 This is what I wanted to say so that everything can unfold very
25 peacefully and serenely.
1 I greet you again, Ms. Alaburic, and you may proceed.
2 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, thank you.
3 I'd like to say good afternoon to you once again, as well as to
4 my colleagues of the Prosecution and Defence. Good afternoon to you,
5 too, the accused, and everybody else working with us this afternoon.
6 Now, as we're going to start off with your CV, I'd like us to
7 move into private session for a few moments, please.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, let's move back into
9 private session for a few moments.
10 [Private session]
11 Page 47066 redacted. Private session.
6 [Open session]
7 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, we're back in open session. Thank
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very good. We are in open
11 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
12 Q. Witness, this is a document. It is a decree from 2007 about
13 beneficial years of service for retirement, and in Article 1, part 2, it
14 says that:
15 "Members of the former Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina are considered
16 to be members of the Croatian Defence Council and the Army of BH."
17 Now, my question to you, Witness, is: Is it true and correct
18 that the soldiers and officers of the BH Army and HVO were able to go
19 into retirement under equal conditions, enjoying equal conditions and
21 A. Yes, that is correct.
22 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please, Counsel. Microphone.
23 Microphone, Counsel.
24 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
25 Q. Now, Witness, let's try and explain to Their Honours briefly the
1 importance of Konjic and the Konjic area in general. I'm going to ask
2 you questions, and I'd like to ask you for brief answers.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Ms. Alaburic, I have a question
4 for the witness.
5 With all the previous witnesses, I haven't asked the question.
6 You may be able to answer this question or not. And if you can't, tell
7 me so. Here's the question: You were a soldier in the HVO, and then
8 after the events, when peace was restored, we have this document, 2D1181,
9 that acknowledged that you could receive a pension paid by the federation
10 budget as a former HVO soldier. I'd like to know this: When the
11 Government of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina adopted this
12 regulation on the 29th of August, 2007 - that's the date of the
13 regulation - as far as you know, were there any prior discussions within
14 the government or in the media as to the fact that the then government
15 acknowledged the legitimacy of HVO soldiers? We remember that at the
16 time there had been a decision by the Constitutional Court that had
17 proclaimed the HVO as an illegal entity. Do you have an answer to this
18 question or not? Well, if you don't, I'll just take note of it. But
19 since you are somebody who receives the pension, it may be that you
20 followed the whole debate and discussion.
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I can't give you an exact answer.
22 I'm afraid I didn't understand your question properly.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So it may be that you did not
24 understand my question because it's a legal question, but I'm going to
25 rephrase it.
1 You are given this retirement pension. As a result, did you
2 follow all the discussion there was in the government of the federation
3 when they decided, in August 2007, to grant retirement pensions to the
4 HVO soldiers, while the Constitutional Court at the time had declared the
5 HVO illegal, unlawful? You're not a lawyer, you may not be able to
6 answer the question, and I may have to ask it of someone else, but you
7 may have an answer.
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I'll try and answer your question.
9 As far as I know, the creation of the Army of the Federation, all
10 the members of the BH Army -- well, the BH Army was equal in every way to
11 the HVO as an army.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Try to speak up, Witness. It's
13 hard to hear you. Can you speak up?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] As far as I know, in the creation
15 of the Army of the Federation, when that army was created, the members
16 had equal rights as did the members of the HVO. And on the basis of that
17 establishment of the Army of the Federation, we enjoyed the same rights
18 as members of the BH Army.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you for your answer.
20 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I didn't prepare any
21 documents on this topic, but I'd just like to remind you that the
22 Constitutional Court decision related to the establishment of the
23 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna. The Constitutional Court never made
24 a ruling to the effect that the HVO was unlawful and unconstitutional, so
25 that from the Washington Accords onwards, in 1994 to the present day, it
1 is without a doubt that all members of the HVO have equal rights as the
2 Army of BH.
3 Q. Now, Witness, let's start off with Konjic. To the best of your
4 knowledge, did Konjic have any importance in terms of communication in
6 A. Yes, it did. Konjic is very important in Bosnia-Herzegovina
7 because it was on a main road running from Sarajevo across Jablanica,
8 Mostar, towards the Adriatic Sea. And the second importance of Konjic
9 was that it was in the hinterland of the city of Sarajevo, and there was
10 the infrastructure that stayed on from the former JNA, so that was the
11 best place for the Supreme Command to relocate to, and the Chief of Staff
12 of the BH Army as well.
13 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, Counsel, please.
14 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
15 Q. Tell us, please, was Konjic important to the economy of
17 A. Yes. Konjic had a factory called "Igman," and the factory --
18 there was an ammunitions factory within the Igman factory for infantry
19 weapons. It had the 4.5- to the 14.5-millimetre type of ammunition that
20 it produced there.
21 Q. Witness, do you know whether Konjic had any special significance
22 in the defence plans which were prepared by the former Yugoslav People's
24 A. Yes. Right next to the Igman factory, that is, its plant for the
25 production of ammunition, there was the ARK bunker, and it was meant to
1 be used for the accommodation of the Supreme Command headed by the then
2 Supreme Commander Tito.
3 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Let me just explain to the Bench
4 that if you want more information about the ARK, we have prepared the
5 following document; namely, 4D2001. It includes several photographs. So
6 if you want additional information about that, we can go into that too.
7 Q. Witness, please continue.
8 A. So the ARK bunker was located -- or, rather, built in such a way
9 that over 150 people could stay there for over a year without being
10 forced to leave and without having communication with the external world.
11 Q. Basically, that bunker was dug into a mountain and had several
13 A. Yes, and the same applies to the ammunition factory too.
14 Q. Were there any important telecom facilities nearby?
15 A. Yes. Right above ARK, there was the Zlatar Mountain, and there
16 were seven underground storeys in which there was a large telecom centre.
17 And right across, at Kiser in the Goraznica [phoen] area, there was
18 another telecom centre and emitting base.
19 Q. In early 1992, who ran that ARK facility?
20 A. At that time, the Yugoslav People's Army managed the facility,
21 and they were tasked that in the event that they would have to retreat
22 from that facility, they, too, destroy it.
23 Q. If you know, tell us, sir, was it customary in the plans of the
24 Yugoslav People's Army to destroy a facility if they had to retreat from
25 it and would prove unable to preserve it?
1 A. I believe that they only tried to destroy extremely important
2 facilities in such cases.
3 Q. Can you tell us what happened to ARK and when?
4 A. When the JNA was withdrawing, retreating, Colonel Velickovic,
5 whose responsibility it was to take care of the facility and the entire
6 barracks that guarded the ARK, he received orders from General Kukanjac
7 for the event that he was unable to preserve the facility, that he should
8 destroy it. And they made such an attempt because the entire facility
9 had been connected to the ammunition factory and the explosives
10 production plant which was on the other side of the hill, viewed from
11 ARK, and it should have blown up during their withdrawal from ARK, from
13 Q. Tell us, Witness, did the -- were the JNA's plans successful?
14 A. No, they were unable to carry out those plans because with the
15 former JNA there was a civilian serving in the JNA, and he was an
16 electrician whose duty it was to maintain the ventilation system, and he
17 was a Croat by ethnicity, and when the army was retreating through the
18 emergency exit, that man, Rajko, cut the wires that connected the
19 facility to the warehouse. And without the wires, it couldn't explode.
20 Q. Tell us, how did that Rajko cut through those wires?
21 A. He used his hands and teeth, and he broke his teeth in the
22 process, but he was able to preserve the entire ARK and the surrounding
23 facilities. He was only unable to break the wire that went to the
24 warehouse where the anti-aircraft guns and the recoilless guns were kept.
25 That warehouse was destroyed.
1 Q. After the JNA had withdrawn from ARK, who ran the facility?
2 A. Rajko and a sergeant returned to ARK. He had also worked there.
3 His name was Serif. And members of the ABiH guarded the facility.
4 Q. And who controlled the telecom centre of Zlatar?
5 A. It was controlled by members of Croatian ethnicity.
6 Q. Tell us, Witness, do you have any information of that facility
7 being interesting to the Supreme Staff of the ABiH?
8 A. Yes. All the time in late 1992, representatives of the ABiH,
9 under the leadership of Vehbija Karic, were coming there, and he tried to
10 move the Supreme Command from Sarajevo to ARK. And the president,
11 Alija Izetbegovic, also came there himself several times.
12 Q. Let us now look at another document. Let's skip the one relating
13 to ARK. The document is 4D427.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, I was listening to you
15 carefully. You told us that when the JNA withdrew, they wanted to
16 destroy this ARK. Listening to you, I wondered why the JNA would want to
17 destroy something that could be useful, and I was pondering your answer
18 and I was making a comparison with the former Soviet Union, Russia, that
19 withdrew from a lot of satellite countries. You know that on the
20 8th of September, 1992, Russia had signed an agreement with Lithuania,
21 and when Russia withdrew, they did not break or destroy anything. Why
22 did the JNA want to destroy anything? Do you have an explanation for
23 this behaviour by the JNA?
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] We had no agreement at that time
25 with the former JNA. They probably thought that the side able to use ARK
1 would be in an advantageous position with regard to the municipality of
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Well, you're saying there was
4 no agreement and that they destroyed everything in order to obtain an
5 advantageous position. Does this mean that they already had very -- had
6 war-mongering ideas towards the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina?
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, of course.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well, thank you.
9 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
10 Q. Can you tell us, Witness, which time-period we're talking about,
11 speaking about ARK and the withdrawal of the JNA? Please mention a year
12 and a month.
13 A. We're talking about the end of April and early May 1992.
14 Q. Witness, was that a time when the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina had
15 already been on for a while?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Tell us, who were the warring parties at that moment?
18 A. At that moment, the warring parties were: the JNA, with members
19 or volunteers from the Serbian people; and, on the other hand, the
20 Territorial Defence, with members of the Muslim and Croat peoples.
21 Q. All right, sir. So we were saying that the Supreme Command of
22 the ABiH was interested in the area of Konjic and they wanted to relocate
23 the staff from Sarajevo, so let us take a look at document 4D427. It's a
24 statement of the deputy chief of the Supreme Command Staff of the
25 Armed Forces of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mr. Jovan Divjak,
1 from early December 1992. And in item 3 he says:
2 "The objective of my stay in the area of Konjic was, together
3 with the chief of the Supreme Command Staff of the Armed Forces of BiH,
4 who was to leave Sarajevo between the 20th and the 30th of September,
5 1992, and a number of other officers from the Supreme Command Staff, to
6 form a forward command post in Konjic from where combat operations in the
7 territory of the Republic of BiH would be controlled. Believing that the
8 Chief of Staff of the Supreme Command and the other officers would be on
9 Igman, that is, at Konjic, I felt that the Supreme Command would be able
10 to function much better than it had until then in the occupied town."
11 Can you comment this statement of the number 2 man of the ABiH,
12 Jovan Divjak, in the light of what you said about the intention to
13 relocate? Does it corroborate what you said?
14 A. Yes, this fully corroborates what I said earlier.
15 Q. Let us now look at the following document, which at first sight
16 is unrelated with the story we are trying to tell to the Bench at the
17 moment, but at a later stage we will see how it fits into the overall
18 picture. The document is 4D1175. Sorry, 1D1410. It's a decision of the
19 Cabinet of Bosnia-Herzegovina from September 1992, and the subject is
20 that all displaced persons and refugees that have a work obligation or
21 who are conscripts and are in the territory of the Republic of Croatia
22 shall return to Bosnia-Herzegovina. That will not apply only to such
23 persons as are ill.
24 At the moment, we are interested in paragraph 4 of this document,
25 which reads:
1 "Collection centres for the organised return of citizens of
2 Bosnia-Herzegovina who have military or work obligations in the
3 Republic of BiH are: Zenica, Tuzla, Visoko, Jablanica, Konjic, and other
4 places selected by the Ministry of Defence."
5 And it goes on to say that:
6 "The collection centres shall undertake all measures necessary to
7 organise the reception, provide accommodation, and send citizens of BiH
8 to their military and work obligations."
9 This is in evidence already, so there is no need to ask many
10 questions about this.
11 During the proofing, sir, you tried to make a sketch of the area
12 that is mentioned as -- that is mentioned and where the collection
13 centres were.
14 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Could I please ask the usher to
15 take over the map the witness has prepared. [In English] Put it on the
16 ELMO, please. [Interpretation] And I would like to put it on the -- or
17 to have it on the ELMO.
18 Q. So let us see which territory we are talking about.
19 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please, for counsel. Microphone,
21 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] I apologise for the microphone,
22 because I must constantly switch it off and on, and I apologise in
23 advance for omitting to do so.
24 Q. Witness, the towns mentioned as the venues of the collection
25 centres you underlined with a black pen; is that correct?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. And the green line circles the area that constitutes a logical
3 hole and the area where all these places are to be found; is that
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Can you confirm that it was you who drew this map based on the
7 document we read out a minute ago?
8 A. Yes.
9 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Could an IC number please be given
10 to this document. And let's leave the document with the witness, because
11 we will dwell on this some more.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Registrar, could we have an
13 IC number.
14 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, Your Honour.
15 The document shall be given Exhibit IC01123. Thank you,
16 Your Honours.
17 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] We're going to deal with this map,
18 Your Honour, and we'll try and show you everything that went on precisely
19 in this area here and as it is linked to the refugees who were brought
20 into the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
21 Q. Now, Witness, a few words about the general situation. We're not
22 going to dwell on it for too long because we don't have the time, but to
23 start off with: You said that Bosnia-Herzegovina, in this area of
24 Konjic, was defended together -- was defended jointly with the Croats and
25 Muslims from the JNA and the BH Serbs; have I understood you correctly?
1 A. Yes, that's correct.
2 Q. Tell us, please, did the members of both nations, both ethnic
3 groups, fight together in the units of the Territorial Defence?
4 A. Yes, they did.
5 Q. And tell us, please, when did the majority of Muslims separate
6 and join the BH Army, and the Croats, for their part, separated and
7 joined the HVO?
8 A. Most of the Muslims separated and joined the BH Army, and the
9 Croats went over to the HVO, after an action that we launched jointly
10 along the axis of Bradina, and that was not in the interests of the
11 Croatian people. It was pursuant to an order from the then coordinator
12 and commander. He was a Muslim, and his name was Zejnil Delalic.
13 MR. BOS: Could we maybe have a date of when this happened,
15 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Yes, I'm waiting for the name
16 Zejnil Delalic to be correctly spelt. It's on the list. That's right.
17 Q. Now, tell us, Witness, what month and year was that? When did
18 this separation happen?
19 A. This operation was in May 1992.
20 Q. And when did the two commands separate or the command separate?
21 A. With the liberation of the village of Bradina at Ivan Sedlo, the
22 road was opened towards Sarajevo and information could flow freely, and
23 all the BH Army officers could come into Konjic freely, but the situation
24 became tense.
25 Q. Witness, I'm sure my colleague from the Prosecution will ask
1 you --
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Just a moment. I want
3 something to be on the transcript.
4 Ms. Alaburic, earlier when I put the question to the witness
5 about his retirement pension and about whether the HVO was legal or not,
6 put him -- I put a question to him in this respect, and you took the
7 floor saying but that the decision of the Constitutional Council dealt
8 with the HDZ but not with the military branch of the HVO. I didn't have
9 the document at hand at the time, so I didn't add anything. However, I
10 now have the decision of the Constitutional Court of September 18, 1992,
11 notably item 5, which states that the Decree on the Armed Forces of the
12 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna is illegal. And in its reasoning, the
13 Constitutional Court mentions a number of paragraphs dealing with the
14 Armed Forces of Herceg-Bosna.
15 I wanted to add this to put it on the transcript. I'm not going
16 to launch a debate here, of course. When I put this question to the
17 witness, I had in mind that the Constitutional Court had not validated
18 the armed forces. I wanted this to be on the transcript. It is a
19 decision which was published on the "Official Bulletin" of the Republic
20 of Bosnia-Herzegovina on September 10, 1992, a Friday.
21 Please, you may resume.
22 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I don't know whether
23 there was a mistake in the interpretation or in what I said or what you
24 said, but I did not say that the decision of the Constitutional Court
25 referred to the HDZ, but that it related to the decision on the formation
1 of the HZ-HB, that is to say, the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna.
2 And as far as this provision is concerned, the Decree on the
3 Armed Forces, there's no dilemma that that legal act was deemed
4 unconstitutional, proclaimed unconstitutional, but that at the same time
5 Alija Izetbegovic endeavoured to set up a joint command. But I think
6 we'll have ample time to go into that general question in due course.
7 Q. Witness, we said that in May or June, there was tension, and that
8 the command separated into Croatian and Muslim forces. Did I understand
9 you correctly?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Now let's take a look at the first document in this next section,
12 which is 4D1175, and this is an appointment of Mr. Zejnil Delalic, and
13 you mentioned him a moment ago, being appointed as commander of the
14 Tactical Group of the BH Army on the territory of, among other things,
15 Konjic. It is a decision taken by Sefer Halilovic, and it is dated the
16 11th of July, 1992.
17 Tell us, please, Witness, at the time did you know that
18 Mr. Zejnil Delalic had command functions in the BH Army at the time?
19 A. Yes.
20 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, Ms. Alaburic was very
22 brief on this. I thought she was going to put more questions on this
23 issue. We saw a very important question; 1D1410, September 24th, 1992,
24 which is planning for the return of refugees or displaced persons in
25 Croatia. This document provides for collection centres to be set up in
1 the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and among these there are a number of
2 cities; Zenica, Tuzla, Visoko, Jablanica, Konjic, and maybe other places.
3 As far as you remember, could you tell us whether in Konjic,
4 after September, you saw a number of refugees come back from Croatia?
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, I did, Your Honour.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. You saw them. Were
7 they numerous or was it just a few individuals?
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] They were families coming back, and
9 there were lots of them.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Could you tell us, because it's
11 important, when exactly this happened, what month?
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] That took place roughly in October
13 and November 1992.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] October and November 1992.
15 Could you tell us whether these refugees returned after the Prozor events
16 which occurred in October?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No. The refugees weren't coming to
18 Konjic from Prozor. Maybe they just went to Jablanica, or reached
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] That's not the question I asked
21 you. Please listen to me carefully.
22 Some events occurred in Prozor in October. I would like to know
23 the following: I would like to know whether the refugees who were in
24 Croatia went to Konjic after October.
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] As to the events in Prozor, I
1 hardly know anything about that. I don't know what was going on in
2 Prozor. All I know is about the situation in the Konjic area, and I know
3 that refugees were coming in throughout the time even before September,
4 but most of the refugees arrived in the period that I just said a moment
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I assume that these refugees
7 who had left for Croatia, then who came back, had left because of the
8 Serbs. Is that the reason?
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, they left because of the
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Praljak.
12 THE ACCUSED PRALJAK: [Interpretation] Your Honour, all my
13 attempts to switch channels and hear what the witness is saying have not
14 borne fruit for the last 15 minutes. I haven't been able to get onto the
15 right channel. I didn't want to interrupt anyone, but I must now because
16 I'm not getting the interpretation from the French or I can't hear the
17 witness. Anyway, there's something wrong with the channels. Thank you.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Try and solve the problem.
19 Registrar, could you maybe tell the Technical Services that there's a
20 problem, that General Praljak is not getting the right interpretation.
21 He's not on the right channel, obviously.
22 Let's move on. Ms. Alaburic, we will try and find a solution to
23 these technical issues, but you can move on in the meanwhile.
24 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
25 Q. Now, Witness, let's look at a few other documents when there were
1 efforts to resolve the conflict peacefully and an agreement is reached.
2 Now look at 4D421, please, the next document. It's an order from the
3 Command of the 4th Corps of the BH Army, Arif Pasalic, dated the
4 14th of January, 1993, and sent, among others, to the brigade in Konjic.
5 And in point 3, it says:
6 "At all costs, avoid conflicts with the HVO, regardless of the
7 attempts of extremist factions which are doing everything to see that
8 relations between the Muslims and Croats deteriorate."
9 And my first question to you is this: Witness, did you have any
10 knowledge of the fact that members of the BH Army in Konjic were
11 receiving instructions to avoid conflicts and to endeavour to resolve any
12 differences by peaceful means?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Now, in this document mention is made of extremist factions doing
15 everything to effect a deterioration between Muslim and Croat relations.
16 Now, how do you interpret this term "extremist factions"? Who were these
17 extremist factions?
18 A. Extremist factions, those were people who -- let me quote an
19 example straight away. They had all become mobilised into a unit, which
20 was called the Muderiz, and all the people coming in from outside whom we
21 considered to be extremist because they did not wish for any kind of
22 co-operation with the Croats.
23 Q. Tell us, please, Witness, at that time did you feel any
24 difference between your local Muslims and the Muslims who had come in
25 from outside because they had been persecuted or had come in for any
1 other reason?
2 A. Yes, there was an enormous difference because we held the
3 front-lines of the defence facing the Serbs, for example, with the local
4 Muslims, against the JNA, whereas these others came into the various
5 settlements and villages which had been left vacant by the Serb people,
6 and they organised themselves into those units. The best known of these
7 was the one I mentioned earlier on, the Muderiz unit.
8 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I just interrupt to ask Mr. Praljak whether the
9 translation is working.
10 You signal that, yes. Thank you.
11 Please go on.
12 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
13 Q. You were telling us what the units were, the units composed of
14 persons whom you considered to be extremists compared to your local
15 Muslims. Is that right?
16 A. Yes. Yes, they were units, and I've already mentioned one, the
17 Muderiz unit, and their commander was this man Nezim Halilovic, who was a
18 religious leader. He was the main imam in Konjic municipality, and he
19 mobilised the people that were coming in from outside and sending them
20 for training, and created his unit in that way, which, to my knowledge,
21 was within the composition of the 7th Muslim Brigade and had the task in
22 Konjic of causing problems and excesses.
23 Q. We saw that an important function in the army was one occupied by
24 Zejnil Delalic. Now, did you consider him to be a member of these
25 extremist factions or did you consider him to be a moderate, prone to
1 co-operation with the Croats?
2 A. I considered Zejnil Delalic to be a more extremist Muslim. He
3 was not in favour of any co-operation -- any major co-operation with the
5 Q. Now let's look at the next document, 4D74.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, you said that among
7 the ABiH there was some extremist forces, extremist forces. You were
8 very specific when you said that, but as far as you know, could you tell
9 us whether among the HVO there were also some extremists or whether there
10 weren't any?
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I can't say exactly whether there
12 were or not. But in the area where I was, there were no extremists of
13 that kind.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you.
15 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
16 Q. Tell me, please, Witness, at that time -- and we see here that
17 the document was sent to the Suad Alic Brigade in Konjic and then to the
18 Neretvica Brigade once again in Konjic, and the Neretva Brigade in
19 Jablanica, which was close by, so can you tell us, overall, at the
20 beginning of 1993, the BH Army in the area, how many soldiers did it
22 A. The BH Army, at the beginning of 1993, had three brigades, which
23 means around 10.000 men.
24 Q. And how many soldiers did the HVO have at the time in the area?
25 A. The HVO had about 1300 to 1500 soldiers.
1 Q. Let us take a look at the following document, 4D74. This is a
2 document of the BiH Army military police. They request instructions for
3 further activity because, as they say, on the 20th of January, 1993, they
4 received a request from the official organs of the HVO of Konjic and
5 Jablanica for the setting up of joint check-points and mixed patrols.
6 And at the end of the document, it says, I quote:
7 "Since we now have an order that those check-points be manned by
8 members of our battalion alone, we are writing to you to elicit your
9 opinion and get clarification on further work."
10 Tell us, Witness, who controlled the check-points along the
11 communications in the Konjic area?
12 A. On the -- on Highway 17, all check-points were controlled by the
13 ABiH, except for one at Drecelj, which was a joint check-point manned by
14 two Croatian soldiers and two Muslim soldiers.
15 Q. Tell us about this request from the HVO for joint check-points
16 and mixed patrols. Was it approved or not?
17 A. It was not approved.
18 Q. Let us take a look at the following document to see what kind of
19 instructions the Croats received regarding misunderstandings and
20 incidents. The document is 4D433. This is an order issued by the chief
21 of Main Staff of the HVO at Konjic. It's dated January the 20th, 1993.
22 It is an order to calm down the situation. It also says that:
23 "Juka's men must immediately be relocated from your territory."
24 Tell me, Witness, did you see the document at that time?
25 A. I did not see it, but I was familiarised with it at the briefing
1 in our brigade, and I knew that parts of Juka's unit were immediately
2 relocated from our area to Mostar.
3 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Excuse me. Ms. Alaburic, before it disappears,
4 on page 29, line 7, the witness spoke about check-points and said they
5 "were all controlled by the ABiH except for one at Drecelj," or
6 "Drecelj." I thought I heard "Dretelj," but is this something different,
7 or is it "Dretelj"?
8 Maybe you can tell me, Witness.
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, it is not "Dretelj,"
10 it is "Drecelj."
11 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
12 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
13 Q. Let us look at the following document, which we consider the
14 second most important document for the topic we are discussing. It's
15 document 4D1522. It's an order of the president of the Presidency of the
16 Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mr. Alija Izetbegovic, from the end of
17 February 1993.
18 Tell me, Witness, from the definition of this order, what is this
19 order about?
20 A. This is the order for secret mobilisation.
21 Q. You've already said "secret." Let us look at the upper
22 right-hand corner, where it says that -- where the status of this order
23 is spelled out. It says: "Defence of the Republic, Military Secret,
24 Strictly Confidential."
25 Tell me, Witness, based on your knowledge of military documents,
1 is there another mark that could make a document more highly classified
2 than this one?
3 A. No, this is the highest degree of confidentiality. There are no
4 more highly classified documents than this.
5 Q. Witness, if I put it to you that Alija Izetbegovic, on the
6 20th of June, 1992, signed a decision of the Presidency about a general
7 and public mobilisation which was published in all media, can you tell us
8 whether the first mobilisation has any degree of confidentiality or is it
9 classified in any way?
10 A. No, that mobilisation was made public in all the media.
11 Q. Let us see the leaderships of which municipalities
12 Alija Izetbegovic is addressing. We're talking about the municipalities
13 of Ilidza, Hadzici, Jablanica, Konjic, Zenica, and Visoko. If we
14 remember the circle you drew on document IC1123, could you please tell us
15 which town from that circle is not mentioned here in this list?
16 A. Only Tuzla is not mentioned on this list but was on the other
18 Q. Let us now look at the content of this strictly confidential
19 mobilisation order. It says that:
20 "Urgently, within 24 hours, lists of military conscripts must be
21 compiled, conscripts residing on your territory ..."
22 And then it says that:
23 "This register should include refugees from these areas who may
24 have joined the BH Army units engaged in combat operations in your
1 Witness, please help us to correctly interpret this paragraph.
2 Does this mean that the refugees who had already been members of a unit
3 of the ABiH should be singled out from these units, and re-assign them to
4 other units that will be composed exclusively of refugees?
5 A. Yes.
6 MR. BOS: Your Honours, I hope, in relation to this document,
7 that Ms. Alaburic can refrain from asking leading questions.
8 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I considered this to
9 be clear in itself, but I will make an effort. There is no need for me
10 to ask leading questions.
11 Q. The next paragraph, it says:
12 "Representatives authorised by the Supreme Command," that is, the
13 Presidency of BiH, "will come to your war presidencies and participate,
14 in accordance with the lists, in the mobilisation which will be carried
15 out by you."
16 Witness, is it usual in any army for a mobilisation carried out
17 in six municipalities to be done with the participation of the presidency
18 of a country?
19 A. No, it is not usual.
20 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I'm sorry. Witness, may I ask you on what
21 research this assessment of yours is based? How do you know about all
22 the mobilisation systems around the world?
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] In all the mobilisations carried
24 out during our war, there is no single instance in which the
25 representatives of the executive branch of government carried out in
1 that. This was done by the local staffs. But in this case -- this case
2 is different. People are mobilised and taken to a certain place which
3 will be visited by representatives of the executive branch of government,
4 who will see to it that the recruits be assigned to individual units.
5 And the place where they are to meet is also not known; it is also
6 strictly confidential.
7 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you. Can I then take it that your answer
8 referred to what you know about the former Yugoslavia, to put it simply?
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, former Yugoslavia, and I'm
10 also referring to my experience from this latest war in
12 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, tell me straight away
14 if I'm wrong. So we have this document in front of us signed by
15 Mr. Izetbegovic, the president of the Presidency, as you can see. He's
16 the president of the Presidency, and this is a document dated
17 25th of February, 1993. It is a mobilisation order. It appears to apply
18 to conscripts residing in various municipalities, including refugees who
19 may come from several places, and this order tells them to join the
20 BH Army. And who is tasked with implementing the mobilisation? Well,
21 apparently the war presidencies of the above municipalities, including
22 the Konjic municipality.
23 So in your view, did Mr. Izetbegovic have the right to take these
24 sort of decisions or not?
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I think that President Izetbegovic
1 had no right to conduct mobilisation. This wasn't usual. It was mostly
2 done by municipal staffs in the towns which are hereby ordered to carry
3 out mobilisation.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So you say that, in your view,
5 it was for municipalities to take those steps; it was not something that
6 Izetbegovic could do. So I do note your answer. However, back then, so
7 as far as you can see, and you're here to express your view, did the
8 Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina exist as such?
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. So if it did exist
11 and had to face danger, an external or internal danger, was the
12 Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina entitled to mobilise citizens to
13 defend the interests of the republic?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The state of Bosnia-Herzegovina
15 does have the right to mobilise citizens. But what is this about? In
16 this case, Bosnia-Herzegovina has proclaimed a mobilisation, and it, too,
17 had been forwarded to the municipalities to carry that out. But it isn't
18 usual for the representatives of the executive branch of government to
19 come and control the implementation of the mobilisation order and oversee
20 the assignment of recruits to units.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I understand your answer, but
22 let us imagine -- of course, I wasn't there, so I can't tell, but let us
23 imagine that there was a Croat, a Bosnian, and a Serb as representatives
24 of the executive and that there would be the Croat, Bosnian and the Serb
25 representing the tripartite presidency, if the three of them had come,
1 would that have been in line with the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, as
2 you saw it?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] If there had been three members of
4 the Presidency, that is, representatives of all the three constituent
5 peoples, yes, in that case, certainly.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So am I to infer from your
7 answer that, for you, the Konjic municipality was entirely Bosnian?
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, the Konjic municipality at that
9 time was not entirely Bosniak.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] What was the ratio?
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The Croats accounted for about
12 27 per cent, and the Bosniaks for about 52 per cent, according to the
13 1991 census.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So, in other words, the
15 majority group was the Bosniaks?
16 THE WITNESS: [No interpretation].
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] As I understand it -- you see,
18 I'm trying to understand your reasoning. The grudge you have against
19 this document is that it failed to involve the Croats in this
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. This wasn't about mobilising
22 Croats, but this was an extraordinary mobilisation of displaced persons
23 who had come from Croatia and arrived to this area, and they had been
24 accommodated in collection centres.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I understand your point of view
1 better now. Thank you for answering these questions.
2 I believe it's time for a 20-minute break.
3 --- Recess taken at 3.45 p.m.
4 --- On resuming at 4.12 p.m.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The court is back in session.
6 The Trial Chamber's Legal Officer has been seized by the
7 Petkovic Defence for a request to extend the dead-line for an IC list.
8 The Trial Chamber discussed the matter and grants the motion. Therefore,
9 the dead-line is tomorrow for filing the IC list in reply.
10 Is that what you'd asked for, Mr. Stewart?
11 MR. STEWART: Actually, I asked for the dead-line to be the
12 following day, Your Honour, because it is tomorrow, which was the
13 problem; it's 9.00 tomorrow, which is always a bit of a tight squeeze.
14 But also I've spoken informally to one or two of the other Defence teams,
15 but not all of them, on the break. I rather assume that they would have
16 no objection to having the same extension. So I wasn't -- if they don't
17 want it, they can say so, but I had in mind, having spoken informally to
18 one or two of them, and Mr. Stringer very kindly indicated he had no
19 objection to that extension generally, so far as responses were
20 concerned, and the same would apply to the Prosecution, no doubt.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, Mr. Stringer.
22 MR. STRINGER: I don't want to complicate things, Mr. President.
23 When I spoke to Mr. Stewart, it was my understanding that they were
24 asking only about an extension for filing the Petkovic response on the
25 IC. I don't know that it changes our response. So if --
1 MR. STEWART: I beg your pardon. If that -- that was my mistake,
2 if that was the misunderstanding. It's only this, Your Honour, that in
3 time for us to consider whether to put in any objections to the IC list,
4 and of course then if we do consider we need to put in objections, to put
5 them in, in the circumstances where we are Monday afternoon/Tuesday
6 morning, just from a practical point of view, we're just asking for that
7 concession of an extra day to deal with the matter. That's what it is.
8 I rather thought -- I apologise if I didn't indicate to
9 Mr. Stringer that I felt all the Defence teams would be in the same
10 position, and it's up to them if they don't want this extension. But I
11 rather assume that the same would apply, in practical terms, to
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, it was very clear in the
14 Judges' views. You have an additional 24 hours.
15 MR. STEWART: Thank you, Your Honour. That is very clear. Thank
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Please proceed, Ms. Alaburic.
18 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
19 Q. Witness, just a few more words about this document. And here it
20 goes on to say that the assembled people would be transported to the area
21 in which they would be collected, which will be known to the authorised
23 Tell me, please, Witness, did you or any of the inhabitants --
24 Croatian inhabitants of the Konjic area, as far as you know, to the best
25 of your knowledge, at that point in time did they know that this kind of
1 mobilisation was underway of refugees on your territory?
2 A. No, we didn't know that. We didn't know the location at which
3 they were being collected. All we knew was that it was done quickly, it
4 was a quick mobilisation. And in addition to the people that were coming
5 in from outside, from other parts, the conscripts, there were locals who
6 were being mobilised, young boys of 16 upwards. And I can support this
7 by giving you a fact. I know of a young boy of 16 like that who took my
8 mother in for interrogation.
9 Q. I'd like you, Witness, to refrain from going into the details of
10 that, because then we would have to move into private session to protect
11 you. But I think we'll have ample opportunity of discussing that when we
12 come to discussing the conflicts. Thank you for that answer.
13 Just briefly staying with this document, it says that the lists
14 should be sent to the Supreme Command Staff, and a report on the
15 mobilisation carried out. Now, according to your knowledge from the
16 former Yugoslavia and from Bosnia-Herzegovina itself, was it customary
17 for reports on mobilisation to be sent to the top levels of command in
18 the army?
19 A. No, no, that wasn't usual. It would be done within the
20 territorial defence of the municipality carrying out the mobilisation.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, I was listening to
22 your very precise answers to the questions put to you, and my feeling is
23 that it was some kind of underground mobilisation, basically only with
24 Muslims. Logically, shouldn't it have been that the Konjic municipality
25 received the document from the president of the Presidency, and then the
1 municipality would meet together with the Muslims and the Croats, the
2 president of the municipality would explain that there is a need to
3 mobilise the citizens due to various types of danger, and that each and
4 every one is asked to take part in this national mobilisation effort, and
5 then, thereafter, everyone is going to spread the news, the message, and
6 all that would be done in a transparent fashion? Now, why did it not
7 happen that way?
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Mr. President, Your Honour, you
9 just described how this should have been done through the normal
10 channels, but it wasn't done like that. It went clandestinely, and we
11 could see that the members of the Muslim people, that is to say, members
12 of the BH Army, had other intentions that they didn't want the Croatians
13 to know, or the Croatian Defence Council.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You, yourself, when did you
15 learn -- did you hear that there was this, quote/unquote, "underground
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I, personally, learnt about it
18 after the first blockade of the town of Konjic, which was on the
19 23rd of March, 1993, because at the check-points at the time -- well, the
20 check-points were set up by members of the BH Army, and I saw the people
21 there and also the young boys that I mentioned earlier on.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Thank you.
23 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
24 Q. Now let's look at the next document, Witness, which is 3D547.
25 It's an order from Sefer Halilovic, sent to Arif Pasalic, and in the
1 introduction Sefer Halilovic is criticising individuals in the Konjic
2 municipality. He says that they were too prone to co-operating with the
3 Croats and that they should, therefore, be replaced from their positions.
4 Now, from that introductory part, Witness, who were these
5 individuals from Konjic municipality?
6 A. Individuals from Konjic municipality were Rusmir Hadzihuseinovic,
7 Jasmin Guska, and Midhat Cerovac.
8 Q. In point 3 of this order, Sefer Halilovic orders Arif Pasalic to
9 replace those who come under his authority and to propose the necessary
10 personnel changes to be made, and that the Supreme Command and the
11 Presidency of the parties should undertake to do this.
12 Now, at that time, and we're talking about January 1993, did you
13 have any knowledge to the effect that the BH Army wished to replace those
14 commanders who were prone to -- were in favour of co-operation with the
16 A. No, not at that time.
17 Q. And when did you learn about this?
18 A. We learnt about it later on, when they had already been replaced
19 and when, instead of Mr. Hadzihuseinovic, as head of the Konjic
20 municipality, Dr. Safet Cibo came to replace him.
21 Q. Let's look at a document about that, which is the next one. It
22 is P10 --
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] One moment, please. Witness,
24 I'm reading this document for the first time, so allow me to dig a little
1 We realise that Mr. Halilovic is incriminating very seriously
2 four individuals who represented the authority in Konjic; the president
3 of the municipality, the chief of police, et cetera, and also the
4 commander of the 7th Konjic Brigade. Unless I'm mistaken, these four
5 individuals were all Muslims. Mr. Halilovic incriminates them because he
6 says that they co-operate with the Croats in connection with the
7 Greater Croatia policy. Now, you were there at the time. Did you have a
8 feeling that there was a Greater Croatia policy that was such that also
9 Muslims would agree with it, if it existed at all?
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, at that time I was
11 there, and there was no Croatian policy in the area. And what we're
12 dealing with here is people who wanted to co-operate with the Croats, and
13 they wanted to avoid a conflict between the Croats and the Muslims, so
14 they represented the interests of their people. Rusmir Hadzihuseinovic
15 was one of the founders of the SDA party in Bosnia. He represented his
16 own ethnicity, but at the same time he wanted to resolve issues through
17 peaceful means and was in favour of co-operation with the Croats.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, you may know this or
19 not. General Praljak testified over several months and was sitting there
20 where you're sitting today. I remember he once said that Mr. Halilovic
21 played a sort of dubious game, and one could be led to believe that he
22 was a Serbian agent. Now, upon reading this document, one may wonder, is
23 Mr. Halilovic not trying to create a problem between communities, but
24 also amidst the Muslims themselves? Because it looks as if he was
25 excommunicating people, asking people to be prosecuted, and more
1 specifically these four individuals who are mentioned in the preliminary
2 part of the order.
3 Do you know Mr. Halilovic or not?
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I do not know Mr. Halilovic
5 personally, and I don't really know in what capacity he was there,
6 whether as a spy or whatever else. I just know the orders he issued, and
7 the kind of orders that reached us, and what the effect of those orders
8 was. So every one of his orders gave rise to some disputes between the
9 Croats and Muslims.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Sir, look at item 4. If it had
11 been complied with, if criminal proceedings had been started against
12 these four individuals, if they had been arrested, what would have been
13 the psychological impact of it at the level of the Konjic municipality?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] These four individuals -- or,
15 rather, the first person, that is, Rusmir Hadzihuseinovic, was replaced,
16 and proceedings were taken against him later on. Now, Jasmin Guska for a
17 time acted as the chief of the Police Administration, and Mr. Cerovac,
18 too, stayed in his position as commander of the Suad Alic Brigade. It
19 was only Rusmir Hadzihuseinovic who was replaced, and legal proceedings
20 were taken against him.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] He was indeed replaced, but he
22 was not arrested, he was not put in jail?
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I don't know if you can see that
24 from the documents, but he was in prison in Tarcin, in the silo there.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So you're saying that the
1 president of the municipality, unless there is a mistake in the
2 translation, that he was imprisoned in Tarcin; is that right?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] That's right.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] When he was imprisoned, how did
5 the Muslim community react? Did they say that he was a traitor or did
6 they not understand anything?
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I don't really know, because when
8 he was in detention, I wasn't in Konjic myself. I was in that small
9 enclave away from Konjic, so I had no information about how the
10 population reacted to that.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Ms. Alaburic.
12 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
13 Q. Tell us now, please, Witness, how did the Croatian population in
14 Konjic react to the replacement of Mr. Hadzihuseinovic and Safet Cibo
15 coming to head the municipality?
16 A. The Croatian people in Konjic municipality did not support the
17 arrivals of -- the arrival of Safet Cibo. They considered that
18 Rusmir Hadzihuseinovic was legally elected, the legally elected mayor of
20 Q. Let us take a brief look at the documents that we have already
21 seen in this courtroom, but for the picture to be complete. P10668,
23 Under item 16, which refers to Konjic, it says:
24 "The following person is elected president of the War Presidency
25 of Konjic Municipal Assembly, Safet Cibo."
1 And he is elected by the Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Do
2 you know, Witness, that it happened in the first half of March 1993?
3 A. Yes. I knew about it because Dr. Safet Cibo, immediately after
4 arriving at Konjic, had a speech on Radio Konjic, where he made public
5 why he had come, and he had come to establish the authorities on behalf
6 of those who had sent him; in other words, to disarm the HVO and put them
7 under the control of the ABiH.
8 Q. Let us look at the following document, 4D --
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, there's something I
10 don't understand. Mr. Cibo was elected, but who elected him? Was there
11 a political campaign? Who elected him? Was he elected by the people or
12 was he elected by his friends who decided that he would be best suited
13 for the job? How did the election actually occur?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I said a minute ago
15 that Dr. Safet Cibo was appointed by President Alija Izetbegovic, and he
16 was appointed mayor. The legally elected mayor, Rusmir Hadzihuseinovic,
17 had been replaced. Later, we learned that Sefer Halilovic, the chief of
18 the Main Staff of the ABiH, had also assigned him to military structures.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You just said that
20 Mr. Safet Cibo was appointed; he was not elected, he was appointed. But
21 in the document, it is mentioned that he was elected, which is why I put
22 the question to you. This document is not reflecting the truth, which is
23 that Mr. Cibo was appointed and not elected?
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Mr. Safet Cibo was not elected;
25 maybe from the circle of the people who appointed him, they may have
1 elected or selected him, but not elected by the people.
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Which is why you are saying
3 that his predecessor had been legally elected?
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, sir.
5 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours.
6 If I may add that in the area of the former Yugoslavia, the
7 notions of appointment and election are sometimes confused. But it is
8 now clear that we're speaking about an appointment by the Presidency of
9 BiH. Thank you for this question and the explanation.
10 Q. Witness, let us take a look at document 4D451. It's a request
11 for the assessment of the constitutionality of a decree filed by
12 Rusmir Hadzihuseinovic, and by doing so he appeals the decision of the
13 Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina to appoint Safet Cibo.
14 Did you know, Witness, that Mr. Hadzihuseinovic tried to defend
15 his rights before the Constitutional Court of BiH?
16 A. Yes, I did.
17 Q. Did you have any information about whether or not
18 Dr. Hadzihuseinovic was successful with his appeal, and was Safet Cibo
19 replaced from his position?
20 A. No, Dr. Hadzihuseinovic was unsuccessful, and Safet Cibo remained
21 a mayor of the Konjic/Jablanica municipality. And I said a minute ago,
22 but it cannot be seen from the documents, that Dr. Hadzihuseinovic was
23 also detained at a silo at Tarcin.
24 Q. Let us now look at document 4D454.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Ms. Alaburic, as a Judge, I
1 would like to know whether the Constitutional Court ruled on this motion
2 that had been seized through Mr. Rusmir Hadzihuseinovic. Did it actually
3 rule on this?
4 MS. ALABURIC: [No interpretation].
5 [Interpretation] Your Honours, I'm sorry. I'll repeat.
6 Unfortunately, our attempts to find the answer to that question
7 were unsuccessful, so I am unable to say whether or not the
8 Constitutional Court decided about this appeal and what its possible
9 decision was. But we know for sure that Dr. Safet Cibo remained in the
10 position to which he was appointed.
11 Q. Witness, so let us deal with document 4D454. We will deal with
12 it in great detail, although it has been analysed in this courtroom
13 several times over. It's a document which the Defence of
14 General Petkovic considers crucial for the understanding of the situation
15 in the area of Konjic and Jablanica in late March 1993.
16 This is a protocol at the joint meeting of the representatives of
17 the Army Command of RBiH and the police stations of the Jablanica,
18 Hadzici and Konjic municipalities.
19 My first question: The municipalities Hadzici, Jablanica and
20 Konjic, are they inside the circle that you drew on document IC1123?
21 A. Yes, they are.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I apologise, Witness, but I'd
23 like to come back to the earlier document because I'm a bit puzzled.
24 We have proof that the president of the municipality actually
25 seized the Constitutional Court. I put the question to Ms. Alaburic, and
1 she said that she researched but was unsuccessful in her research and
2 couldn't find the answer to this motion.
3 Now, you know that you were -- you know about -- you said that
4 you knew about this motion, so could you give us your impression on the
5 Constitutional Court? Were these judges that were obeying political
6 orders? What did you feel about them? Whenever there's a motion,
7 there's always a response to this motion, so why is it that the president
8 of the municipality of your locality actually made this legal request to
9 the Constitutional Court and didn't get any answer? What's your take on
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I don't know what happened before
12 that court, but probably some kind of decision was made following his
13 appeal, and the decision must have been negative. His appeal must have
14 been refuted.
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You believe that the appeal
16 must have been refuted, but if the Constitutional Court had not made any
17 decision on this, what would you have inferred from this?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] My conclusion in that case would be
19 that the judges had been appointed by the same people who also appointed
20 Mr. Safet Cibo.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well.
22 Ms. Alaburic.
23 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
24 Q. So we're analysing this document. In the upper right-hand
25 corner, we can see the status of the document. It again reads: "Defence
1 of the Republic, Highly Confidential."
2 Tell us, Witness, this is the highest classification, isn't it?
3 A. Yes, it is.
4 Q. Let us look at the conclusions on the following page. Under 2,
5 check-points are listed. Six are enumerated. The check-point of
6 Aleksin Han, on which communication is that check-point?
7 A. This check-point is on the M-17 road from Jablanica to Mostar.
8 Aleksin Han is a bridge over the Neretva River, south of Jablanica, in
9 the direction of Mostar.
10 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone.
11 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
12 Q. These six check-points, on which communication are they?
13 A. They are all on the Jablanica-Sarajevo road, the M-17 road.
14 Q. Who controls these check-points?
15 A. All these check-points are controlled by the ABiH.
16 Q. Let us look at Conclusion 5. It says:
17 "At the localities of Jablanica, Donje Selo and Bradina, an
18 RBiH Army unit of the strength required for the execution of these
19 conclusions has to be on permanent alert."
20 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] I would like to ask the usher to
21 hand this map to the witness and put it on the ELMO.
22 Q. Tell us, Witness, who made this map?
23 A. I did.
24 Q. You marked something with the number 5. Tell us what this green
25 line represents which is marked "5."
1 A. This number 5 marks check-point 5, and this is the
2 direction [indicating].
3 Q. Do you have any information about new ABiH brigades arriving in
4 the area at the time?
5 A. Yes. We had information at the time that between Jablanica and
6 Ivan Sedlo, or to be more precise, from Rogica [phoen] Sedlo to
7 Jablanica, all the way to Bradina, there were two newly arrived army
9 Q. Was there a special forces unit at Bradina?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. What was it called?
12 A. The special forces brigade at Bradina was called the Zulfikar
14 Q. All right. Let us now look at item 6. We will return to the map
15 later. Item 6 reads:
16 "The police station at Buturovic Polje is to be put into full
18 Can you explain to us, Witness, what this actually means?
19 A. This, in fact, means the following: At the police station at
20 Konjic, a month before this, police officers of Croatian ethnicity had
21 basically been kicked out because they had lost all their positions of
22 authority, and there was none left; whereas at Buturovic Polje, there was
23 a police station in which there were both Croatians and Muslims alike,
24 and this order really means that the Muslims are to take over that police
1 Q. Does this really mean that the Croats should be kicked out?
2 A. Yes, exactly, that's what it means.
3 Q. Let us now look at Conclusion number 7. It says:
4 "Defence lines towards the aggressor are to be strengthened, and
5 full control of the area in the direction Jablanica-Kute-Here-Scipe is to
6 be established."
7 Tell us, Witness, did you represent this Conclusion number 7 on
8 this map?
9 A. Yes. These are these three directions from Jablanica toward
10 Kute, Here, and Scipe.
11 Q. And under the same item, it continues:
12 "... these forces are to be linked with army forces in
13 neighbouring municipalities."
14 Tell us, which areas are these in neighbouring municipalities?
15 Could you please define the area using geographical terms of reference
17 A. This is the area of the Konjic municipality from Konjic and
18 Bradina toward Klis; that is, the Neretvica Valley, and establishing a
19 connection to the areas around Kute, Here, and Scipe.
20 Q. Does it reach Boksevica?
21 A. Yes, exactly, it does.
22 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] I would now like to ask the Bench
23 to pay close attention to what the witness is about to show.
24 Q. Please show us, from left to right, what that would have meant.
25 Which area had to be taken for the forces from neighbouring
1 municipalities to join up?
2 A. [Indicates]. So the area toward Here-Kute-Scipe should be taken,
3 and the forces from the neighbouring municipalities would go from Bradina
4 toward Konjic, and from Repovac they would go down to the
5 Neretvica Valley. In that case, from Bradina, Konjic, Celebici, and I
6 needn't continue listing other place names, they would reach the
7 Neretvica Valley, where they would link up with the forces at Kute, Here,
8 and Scipe.
9 Q. Please initial this map.
10 A. [Marks]
11 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] And I ask an IC number be given to
12 this document.
13 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I'm sorry, excuse me.
14 Witness, could you point out where Konjic is positioned on this
15 map, because we cannot read anything here. It's all very blurred for our
17 THE WITNESS: [Indicates]
18 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Perhaps you mark it "Konjic" and you put a "K"
19 there. Thank you.
20 THE WITNESS: [Marks]. Here it is. I underlined it with this
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The witness has protective
23 measures, but he signed the document, so we must put this exhibit under
25 Can we have an IC number under seal, please, Mr. Registrar.
1 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, Your Honour. The document just signed by
2 the witness shall be given Exhibit IC01124, under seal.
3 Thank you, Your Honours.
4 MS. ALABURIC: 1024 or 1124? 11, okay.
5 [Interpretation] That's the right number now. It's been
7 Q. Now, let's leave the map for a moment and look at document 4D626.
8 Document 4D426 -- 626. 626. It's a map showing the general area of
9 Konjic, similar to the one we were looking at a moment ago. The map was
10 drawn by General Petkovic. We've already looked at it in this courtroom.
11 The blue indicates places taken by the BH Army until the 24th of April,
12 1993, and the red indicates places which up until that time, including
13 that date, the BH Army was still launching attacks on.
14 Tell us, Witness, in the proofing sessions for today's testimony,
15 did you analyse this map?
16 A. Yes, I did.
17 Q. Tell us, please, do you have any suggestions to make? Are there
18 any locations which fell into BH Army hands that have not been marked on
19 this map?
20 A. Yes, there are.
21 Q. Tell us, please, which those locations are.
22 A. They are Donje Selo, Galjevo - Galjevo is marked - Repovica,
23 Pokojiste, Celebici.
24 Q. And tell us, please, with that addition of yours, does this map
25 correctly reflect the situation in this part of Konjic municipality at
1 the end of April 1993?
2 A. Yes, it does.
3 Q. Would you now draw circles 'round the locations you've just
4 mentioned; that is to say, Donje Selo, Pokojiste, Celebici?
5 A. [Marks]
6 Q. Have you done that?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. I have to say I don't see what you've circled here, and could you
9 do it on the screen, please?
10 A. Donje Selo, Pokojiste, Celebici [indicating].
11 Q. I'm afraid we can't see it on our screens. Witness, can you see
12 something on your screen when you're drawing on the map?
13 A. Yes, I can.
14 THE REGISTRAR: Counsel, just a second. The usher is coming to
15 rectify the issue. Thank you.
16 JUDGE TRECHSEL: In the meantime, to use the time, Witness,
17 against whom was the ABiH fighting in these localities?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The BH Army in these localities was
19 fighting against the Croatian Defence Council.
20 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
21 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, usher.
22 Q. Now, with that new pen, you can mark in those places.
23 A. Donje Selo [marks], Pokojiste [marks], Celebici [marks], Repovica
24 [marks], Kanjina [marks] and Podorasac [marks].
25 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, do you agree that the
1 witness not sign this document so we do not have to have it under seal?
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Could we have an IC number,
3 Registrar, please.
4 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honour, the aspect of the document just
5 marked by the witness shall be given Exhibit IC01125. Thank you,
6 Your Honours.
7 JUDGE TRECHSEL: May I suggest that the witness puts "AB," his
8 pseudonym, on the document, so this is better than nothing and doesn't
9 have the danger of a signature.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Please place
11 "4D-AB" on the document.
12 THE WITNESS: [Marks].
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, I am discovering this
14 map drawn by General Petkovic. This is the situation on April 24, 1993.
15 I am not versed in the military art like you are or like General Petkovic
16 is, but any reasonable trier of fact could infer from this map that the
17 HVO's military situation was becoming critical, insofar that a number of
18 localities had been captured by the ABiH, that others were about to fall.
19 Konjic was an enclave or pocket, so in military terms one could think
20 that the next objective of this offensive was going to be Jablanica.
21 As far as you know, at the end of April 1993 was the military
22 situation of the HVO critical or becoming critical?
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, Mr. President, it did become
24 critical, because until the end of that particular month all these places
25 fell and had been taken control of by the BH Army. There was just one --
1 no, Konjic wasn't under siege. Konjic was under BH Army control. It was
2 just an enclave around Zaselje and so on, that we were there, so that
3 enclave remained.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So after drawing up this
5 military panorama, couldn't you think that the next military target was
6 going to be Jablanica?
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, that's right.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. We'll see.
9 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, we're going to try
10 and demonstrate that to you in due course.
11 Q. Now, Witness, we have dealt with that map. Now look at the next
12 document following on from that map. It is 4D140. It's a list of
13 villages in Konjic municipality, and it was compiled in the Office for
14 Refugees of the HZ-HB, Office for Refugees and Displaced Persons. Is
15 that list correct, villages which fell into the hands of the BH Army and
16 from which the Croatian population moved out? Whether they were
17 displaced, forced out, or whatever, that's not important now.
18 A. Yes, the list is correct.
19 Q. Now let's go back to the IC number, IC1124. I think you still
20 have it on your screen, on the ELMO.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Just a minute. A follow-up
22 question, Witness.
23 I have just now seen the list of these villages, these
24 23 villages, and my eye was immediately drawn to "Trusina." I remember
25 very early on General Praljak wanted to present documents on massacres
1 that had occurred in Trusina. Could you tell us how far Trusina is from
2 Konjic in kilometres?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Trusina is a distance of about
4 20 kilometres from Konjic.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] At the time, did you receive
6 any information according to which there had been murders against the
7 Croatian inhabitants in a Croatian village, notably in Trusina?
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] At the very beginning of the
9 conflict between the BH Army and Croatian Defence Council, our
10 communication lines were poor because the BH Army interrupted our
11 communications, so we didn't have information coming in about what was
12 happening in other areas, nor in Trusina. We only learnt about that
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You say that you learned about
15 it later. How many months later, how many years later, or days later? I
16 don't know.
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I think it was two months
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] When you heard that massacres
20 had occurred in a number of Croatian villages, at the Konjic
21 municipality, a municipality which was not included in the indictment,
22 could you tell us what happened, psychologically, in Konjic? You know,
23 the people, inhabitants of Konjic, learning just a few months later that
24 some of his [as interpreted] fellow Croats had been murdered, what do you
25 feel about that?
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I have to correct you. The
2 inhabitants of Konjic municipality and Konjic, as a town, was also in the
3 hands of the BH Army. I, myself, was in the enclave, the small pocket
4 that was called Drecelj-Zabrdje-Zaslivlje-Turija, and it was in those
5 places that we didn't have information. The telephones were down, the
6 communications system was down, and we had daily fighting going on.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. You're saying that
8 the population in Konjic was already held by the ABiH, and in your
9 enclave, all lines of communication were down and you had no idea what
10 happened outside your enclave.
11 Ms. Alaburic.
12 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I'd just like to
13 correct the transcript in line 16, the enclave that the witness was
14 talking about was the enclave that he defined as Drecelj, Zabrdje,
15 Zaslivlje, and Turija. Zaslivlje, Turija. Turija. That's right.
16 Q. Now, Judge Antonetti asked you to explain, but there's no
17 dilemma. When you said that it was only two months later that you
18 learned about Trusina, do you mean you and the people who were in the
19 enclave with you, or did you mean Croatians in general?
20 A. I just meant myself and the people who were in the enclave with
22 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Would the usher now bring up
23 IC1124, the document we were looking at earlier on.
24 Q. It is the map, Witness, that you marked with "5" and "7."
25 Now, Witness, if we recall what the situation was like on the
1 24th of April, 1993, I'd like to ask you now, using this map, moving from
2 right to left, to show us what territory the BH Army had taken control
4 A. It had taken control of this territory here [indicates], and I've
5 already explained that, from Konjic towards the Neretvica River Valley.
6 On the 24th, during that period, there was a small enclave, Vrce, which
7 was not in the hands of the BH Army.
8 Q. If I were to ask you the following question, up until that date,
9 the 24th of April, was the conclusion realised to a large extent that we
10 saw under item 7 of this document, 4D454, the minutes from the meeting
11 held on the 20th of March, what would you say? Was that implemented or
13 A. Yes, almost entirely.
14 Q. Very well. Now let's go back to document 4D454 so that we can
15 analyse it fully. Do you have it, Witness?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Now, under item 8, it says that an HVO unit should be relocated
18 in, the Nihad Kulenovic unit. Tell us, please, Witness, where was that
19 unit supposed -- where was it to be relocated, where from and where to?
20 A. It was in the village of Ovcari, and they asked that it be
21 relocated to Ljubina. Now, in that HVO unit -- in the Croatian Defence
22 Council unit that was called Nihad Kulenovic, you had members of the
23 Muslim -- or, rather, you had Muslims in the unit with only three Croats.
24 Darko Pandza [phoen] as commander of the unit, then there was Milan and
25 Bacva [phoen], two Croats from Citluk or, rather, Medjugorje.
1 Q. Tell us, please, Witness, Ljubina, is that a hill?
2 A. Yes, it is a strategic elevation above Konjic separating the
3 defence lines towards the Serbs and the Yugoslav People's Army, and it
4 was a key feature in this general area, the most important elevation in
5 that small enclave of ours which managed to resist the BH Army, and --
6 Q. Tell us slowly. Which enclave was that?
7 A. It was this enclave here that I mentioned: Drecelj, Zabrdje,
8 Zaslivlje, Turija.
9 Q. Tell us, please, Witness, the BH Army, did it manage to relocate
10 this HVO unit to Ljubina according to plan?
11 A. The BH Army was not successful in doing that, and the reason was
12 that the company commander at that time who held that position did not
13 agree to that relocation because -- if you want me to clarify, I can go
14 on -- because within the composition of this unit, the Nihad Kulenovic
15 unit, most of the members were Muslims. As for Ljubina, we already held
16 that following an agreement with the -- well, the Muslims and the HVO or
17 Croats held that, so had we exchanged our HVO Croat members at that
18 particular locality and brought in members of the HVO who were Muslims,
19 we would have -- or, rather, the enclave could not have survived because
20 we would have been under a total siege and wouldn't have had control of
21 that important elevation.
22 Q. Tell us, please -- Witness, this document is dated the
23 20th of March, 1993. At that point in time, in the HVO units, were there
24 Muslim soldiers who had joined you during 1992? Were they still there?
25 A. On the 24th, in our HVO units, there was not one Muslim, except
1 for the Nihad Kulenovic unit, because on the 23rd of March, that is, one
2 month earlier, all HVO members of Muslim ethnicity had left the HVO.
3 Q. Do I understand you correctly to say that three days earlier, on
4 the 23rd of March, when this document was drafted, the Muslims were still
5 in the HVO?
6 A. Yes, yes. I'm sorry, I made a mistake. I leapt forward to
8 Q. Let us take a look at Conclusion number 9. It says:
9 "Prepare the ABiH units to take the Zlatar facility as soon as
11 Is that the telecom centre above ARK hill?
12 A. Yes, that is that telecom centre that was located above ARK, and
13 that is the most important telecommunications facility by means of which
14 it was possible to set up communications in all the former Yugoslavia.
15 It was dug into a mountain, it had seven underground storeys, and it was
16 under complete protection, just like the ARK which was beneath it. And
17 without the Zlatar facility, the ARK facility would have practically been
18 cut off from the outside world, even including Sarajevo, so it would have
19 been left without any function.
20 Q. Please take a look at Conclusion number 13. It says:
21 "The elaboration of a plan of unitary operations for all forces
22 in these areas is to be started immediately ..."
23 How do you read this order, and how would you have interpreted it
24 as a member of VOS if you had received it at that time?
25 A. Attack plans are to be worked out urgently for the sectors in
1 which the units were active that were familiar with this plan.
2 Q. Let us look at Conclusion number 15. The Drecelj check-point is
3 mentioned here. You said it was the only check-point controlled jointly
4 by Croats and Muslims. It was to be dismantled by the 25th of March. If
5 this conclusion had been implemented, what would that have meant with
6 regard to the presence of Croats at that check-point?
7 A. If this had been implemented, the Croats would have been removed
8 from this check-point by which the M-17 road would have been under total
9 control, so that there would have been no single Croat member of HVO
10 along that communication.
11 Q. All right. We're done with this document. Let us see what
12 happened on the same day in the vicinity. Document 4D450.
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I have one last question on
14 this document.
15 When reading this lengthy document, it looks like there is a
16 specific plan, a very detailed plan, but my attention was drawn to item
17 number 16. Under item 16, the following people are to be informed of
18 these conclusions, and I discover that Mr. Izetbegovic is to be informed,
19 even though he's in New York. He might have other things in mind in
20 New York, but it seems he wants to be kept abreast of the way the plan is
21 going. So what do you think of this? Mr. Izetbegovic is in New York,
22 but wants to be informed of everything going on, notably what happens at
23 the Drecelj post. What conclusion can you drawn from this?
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I don't understand your question
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Let me repeat.
2 When reading this lengthy document, this very detailed document
3 which gives information on all the operations underway, I note that at
4 item 16 there is a list of the people who are to be informed of these
5 conclusions, a number of eminent people; the Wartime Presidency, the
6 Supreme Command, the Ministry of Interior, the 4th Corps Command, and the
7 Wartime Presidency in Jablanica, Konjic and Hadzici. But Mr. Izetbegovic
8 must also be informed, even though he is in New York. It is written on
9 this document, and my question is the following: Could you tell us why
10 Mr. Izetbegovic wants to follow the implementation of this plan? Why is
11 he supposed to be kept abreast of all these developments, even the small
12 post in Drecelj? I mean, he is in New York. He probably has other
13 things to do than checking on what's happening in Drecelj. What does
14 this all mean, according to you?
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I can explain.
16 When this document was drafted, the small enclave of Drecelj was
17 not yet in existence. This was a plan for the action of the liberation
18 of the Neretva Valley to be launched. Drecelj was not yet in existence.
19 So I think that the president was to be informed of the entire plan and
20 not only about the item mentioning Drecelj. Drecelj is not important
21 here if the plan is carried out.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So you are saying that
23 President Izetbegovic had to be informed of the plan, this plan that had
24 to do with the Neretva Valley. But according to you, why is it that
25 Mr. Izetbegovic, who is in New York, must be kept abreast of the
1 advancement of the plan, of the progress of the plan? Maybe you don't
2 know. Just tell us.
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I mean, Mr. Izetbegovic had to be
4 kept abreast because he was one of the people who knew of that plan, and
5 they wanted to inform him of their activities in the Neretva Valley.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] But he is in New York. Why
7 does he have to be informed all the way in New York? Wouldn't it be
8 enough just to inform the Presidency in Sarajevo? Why is it that he must
9 be informed, personally? Is there a meaning, militarily or politically
10 or diplomatically? I don't know if you are competent to answer, I don't
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, yes, probably it does.
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You're saying that you cannot
14 answer. Very well.
15 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
16 Q. Witness, let us now look at two documents to see what's happening
17 with Mr. Cibo on the 20th of March, 1993, that is, on the same day when
18 these conclusions were adopted.
19 The first document is 4D450, 450. It's a decision of the
20 Regional Committee of the SDA for Herzegovina for Safet Cibo to be
21 co-opted into the Regional Committee of the party. Did you know,
22 Witness, that Dr. Cibo was member of a highly positioned body in the SDA
24 A. Yes, I did.
25 Q. Look at the following document, 1D2756, 2756. This is an order
1 issued by Sefer Halilovic by which Safet Cibo is assigned to the
2 4th Corps of the ABiH.
3 Tell me, Witness, did you know that Dr. Cibo had a position in
4 military structures, too, the structures of Muslim authorities?
5 A. Yes.
6 MR. BOS: Your Honours, I'm going to object because of the
7 leading questions. Ms. Alaburic is posing a lot of leading questions to
8 this witness, and she should not put these questions into a leading form.
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Ms. Alaburic.
10 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, these are not
11 leading questions. I was merely asking the witness whether he knows or
12 doesn't know something. And the document is an exhibit anyway, so I'm
13 not showing it to tender it; I'm merely asking the question whether he
14 was aware of the fact or not.
15 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Objection overruled. The objection is
16 overruled. You're right, Ms. Alaburic.
17 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
18 Q. We are now approaching the moment of the first conflict, the
19 23rd of March, 1993.
20 Witness, please look at document 4D438. It's a report of the
21 ABiH from Konjic which says:
22 "We inform you that the situation in our area of responsibility
23 is the following: 150 members of the HVO captured, town blocked, life in
24 town paralysed. We continue with arrests."
25 Signed: "Midhat Cerovac."
1 Witness, did you know Mr. Cerovac?
2 A. I did.
3 Q. Is this an accurate description of the situation at Konjic on the
4 23rd of March, 1993?
5 A. Yes, it is.
6 Q. Let us look at the next document, 4D125. So it's a joint order
7 of the chief of the HVO Main Staff and the commander of the 4th Corps of
8 the ABiH, dated the 23rd of March, 1993, the order to the effect of
9 disengaging. Did you know about this order?
10 A. Yes, I did.
11 Q. Tell us, Witness, what was the weather like at the time in the
12 area of Konjic?
13 A. On the 23rd of March, it wasn't really sunny, but it wasn't that
14 cloudy either. But on the 24th of March, there was a snowfall in the
15 Konjic municipality.
16 Q. Can you tell us how much snow fell that evening or that night?
17 A. About 30 centimetres of snow.
18 Q. Let us now look what happened until the end of the month.
19 Document 4D806.
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, document 4D125 is
21 really puzzling me. When I see all the documents from the 4th Corps that
22 we have perused through, obviously there was an operation in the
23 Neretva Valley underway. And on March 24, unless I'm wrong,
24 General Petkovic and General Pasalic write a joint order calling for an
25 immediate stop of everything. They want the release of all persons
1 arrested, et cetera. So there I'm totally flabbergasted. I don't
2 understand. So either there's a BH Army offensive underway, but then why
3 would Pasalic ask for this operation to be halted, or there's an HVO
4 offensive underway in the framework of an HVO plan, but then why would
5 the operation be stopped? How is it that the two chiefs of these two
6 armies agree on stopping everything? Could you give us a military
7 explanation of this order?
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I can say the following: This is a
9 document dated the 23rd of March, 1993, and the one before about the
10 aggression was from April. And on the 23rd of March, 1993, the ABiH
11 tried, with this action -- or, rather, tried to launch this action, which
12 they finally did in April. So on the 23rd of March, in the morning, the
13 whole town was blocked. All roads were blocked by the ABiH. Cars -- it
14 was impossible to drive cars. It was only possible to pass on foot.
15 At the check-point set up by the ABiH, members of the HVO were
16 disarmed. Individuals were detained, and others were let go without
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, I was putting this
19 question to you because I did see the previous document, 4D438, dating
20 March 23rd, and here we discover that 150 HVO soldiers were captured,
21 that the city of Konjic is blocked, that the life in town is paralysed,
22 and that "we continue with arrests." That's what the last bullet says.
23 So obviously important things are happening, but on the very same day
24 Pasalic, together with General Petkovic, makes an order that goes against
25 all this. So is it because that there's sort of a double dealing with
1 the international community going on, we solve matters covertly, and
2 openly we try to pretend that we want a cease-fire and that we want
3 peace, and we order cease-fires? Or is it because within the ABiH,
4 itself, or within the HVO, itself, some people were carrying on different
5 policies, which may explain why we have such a contradiction between
6 document 4D38 [as interpreted] and 4D125? I'm trying to see the
7 rationale behind all this, because we have an all-out attack, on one
8 hand, and then, on the other hand, the person who supposedly should be in
9 charge of this attack is signing a truce with General Petkovic. What do
10 you make of this?
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I can explain it like this:
12 Mr. Pasalic had his headquarters in Mostar, and at Konjic, it was the
13 brigades that were ordered to do so, namely, the 7th Suad Alic Brigade,
14 the Neretvica Brigade, and the newly arrived brigades in Konjic
15 municipality carried out that task, which means that on the 23rd of March
16 they disarmed about 150 soldiers, which means that the action agreed upon
17 on the 20th of March and was signed and stamped with eight stamps, that
18 its implementation began on the 23rd; that is, three days later. We
19 insisted and requested our superiors that something be done because we
20 were taken by surprise. On the 23rd, in the early-morning hours, our
21 premises, the premises of the 2nd Battalion, were also blocked.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. But you're not
23 answering my question. Maybe you can't. But I'm very surprised because,
24 on the one hand, the BiH Army is launching an offensive, captures the
25 city of Konjic, but, on the other hand, Mr. Pasalic, an eminent member of
1 the BH Army, signs a document according to which all this operation
2 should be stopped. I don't understand, but maybe you cannot understand
3 either because it's not in your field of competence. We'll see, anyway.
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Can I? Well, I can say that we
5 insisted on negotiations and solving the problem through peaceful means,
6 which probably General Milivoj Petkovic, our superior officer, tried to
7 do with Mr. Pasalic. Now, how sincere Mr. Pasalic's intentions were, I
8 really can't say.
9 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, your questions are
10 quite understandable and logical, and I hope that we will be able to
11 provide answers to them by the end of this examination, but just let's
12 get through the documents.
13 Q. Now, let's look at this 23rd of March. The conflict, in fact,
14 was stopped straight away; is that right, Witness?
15 A. Yes.
16 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I'm sorry. Excuse me, Ms. Alaburic. I think we
17 should be very clear about this.
18 What we have here is an order, we have seen an order, so the
19 question would be: Was this order implemented?
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This order was implemented, in
21 part, but not on that same day, the 23rd of March. It was implemented
22 several days later.
23 MR. STEWART: Your Honour, could I just observe that, since all
24 these dates are critical, that on 4D125, before we leave it, now for some
25 reason the date has got completely missed off the translation. It's very
1 clear on the Croatian original, the one 23rd of March. It's just not
2 there at all in the English. I just note that.
3 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Witness, can you be a bit more precise and say
4 what parts were implemented and which were not implemented?
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] All parts of this order were
6 implemented. And a cease-fire was implemented, but not on that day;
7 several days -- three or four days after this order of the 23rd of March
8 was passed.
9 JUDGE TRECHSEL: How about the release of detained persons?
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] When a complete truce was put in
11 place, then the commission started their work, and it was their task to
12 release prisoners and to return the materiel and technical equipment.
13 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
14 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
15 Q. Tell us, please, Witness, who did the HVO have in detention at
16 that time?
17 A. At that time, the HVO had in detention a part of the Muderiz
18 unit, as it was called.
19 Q. Now let's look at a few more documents on the topic we've just
20 discussed. 4D806 is the first one.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Sorry, Ms. Alaburic.
22 Witness, under item 6 of this order, it is said:
23 "Understood that the possibility of aiding Tuzla, Usora and
24 Sarajevo is dependent on your relations."
25 I can understand as far as Sarajevo is concerned, but what about
1 Tuzla and Usora? What was the problem in Tuzla and in Usora, if you
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I don't know what problems they had
4 in Tuzla and Usora.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you.
6 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
7 Q. Now, Witness, as I said, the next document I'd like to deal with
8 is 4D806, which is a permission and an order from the chief of the
9 Main HVO Staff, and a joint commission of the BH and the HVO is mentioned
10 which was sent to Konjic with the aim of calming the situation down where
11 there were tensions.
12 Tell us, Witness, did you know about the formation of this joint
14 A. Yes, I did know about it.
15 Q. Very well. Let's take a look at the next document, which is
16 4D1556. 4D1556 is the number. This is a report from Arif Pasalic, sent
17 to his superior, Sefer Halilovic, in which he informs him about the
18 establishment of a commission which was to go to Jablanica and Konjic.
19 And in point 2, it states the names of the members of that commission who
20 were to contribute to the normalisation of relations.
21 Tell us, Witness, did you know of the existence of this
23 A. Yes, I did.
24 Q. Did you attend the arrival of this commission in Konjic?
25 A. No, I wasn't there when the commission came to Konjic because I
1 was up at my positions at that time; that is to say, I was in Zlatar, the
2 facility that I mentioned earlier on. However, I did take part in
3 another commission that worked to calm the situation.
4 Q. Tell us, please, the commission you worked in, did it have any
5 authorisations with respect to filling in the trenches?
6 A. Yes, it did have that kind of authorisation, but what was more
7 important was the exchange of prisoners and the return of MTS, which the
8 BH Army refused to do. It refused to return the materiel and technical
9 equipment, and weapons, in fact, which it had seized from members of the
11 Q. Let's look at the next document, 4D1558, once again an order from
12 Arif Pasalic of that same day, the 23rd of March, 1993. And he is
13 issuing this order to his units and commanders, telling them that they
14 should establish contact with the Command of the Herceg Stjepan Brigade
15 straight away and to release all prisoners on both sides.
16 Tell us, please, Witness, this Herceg Stjepan Brigade, did it
17 have anything to do with you?
18 A. Yes, it did. I was a member of the Herceg Stjepan Brigade.
19 Q. And at the time, did you reach an agreement with the BH Army to
20 release all the prisoners?
21 A. Yes, we had negotiations like that for the release of all
22 prisoners who were in detention at that time.
23 Q. Very well. Now let's look at a different type of document now.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes. We're going to have a
25 break. It's 20 to 6.00. We'll break for 20 minutes.
1 --- Recess taken at 5.40 p.m.
2 --- On resuming at 6.02 p.m.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Ms. Alaburic.
4 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
5 Q. Witness, let's look at P1712, the next document, to see what the
6 neighbouring brigade in Prozor was doing, the HVO, how they saw the
7 situation in Konjic.
8 Now, this is a report from Petar Kolakusic from the Rama Brigade
9 in Prozor of the 23rd of March, 1993, and he says that:
10 "Dramatic news is coming in from Konjic about the situation in
11 the town," reporting that there're wounded and captured on both sides.
12 "They request from the Rama Brigade artillery to open fire at the
13 villages of Kruscica, Studencica and Jasenik."
14 "We are asking for further instructions."
15 Now, my question to you, Witness, is this: Was the situation
16 in -- has the situation in Konjic been described properly? Was it that
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Now, you from Konjic, did you ask for artillery support from the
20 Rama Brigade?
21 A. Yes, we did.
22 Q. Did you receive that artillery support?
23 A. No, we did not.
24 Q. Let's try and see the reasons for that now. Staying with that
25 same piece of paper, we have the response from the commander of the
1 operations zone, Zeljko Siljeg, who says:
2 "Do not open fire because today the chief of the Main Staff of
3 the HVO and Mr. Pasalic today issued an order on a cessation to all
4 hostilities, so prevent any deterioration in the situation through
5 peaceful means," that is to say, through negotiations.
6 Now, my question to you, Witness, is this: Did you ever receive
7 an order saying that you should resolve the problems in a different way,
8 any problems that you might have with the BH Army?
9 A. Yes, we were always given orders to try to resolve the situation
10 peacefully and to resort to negotiations and agreement without making the
11 situation even more tense, and even to give way in certain situations in
12 our relationships with the BH Army. That's what we did. We made several
13 concessions to the BH Army when it came to some MTS that they were asking
15 Q. Let's take a look at the next document, 4D1168. And Arif Pasalic
16 is authorising Esad Ramic --
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Sorry for taking a few seconds
18 to react to the previous document.
19 My problem is as follows, Witness: We have a request for
20 assistance, artillery. Looking at the document, I may be wrong, but it
21 looks as though this was actually a telex, because there's no signature,
22 and we can see that this document was filed, because we can see a stamp,
23 23rd of March, 1993. Then Colonel Siljeg took his pen and gave a written
24 explanation to say that there'll be a cessation, et cetera. Hence my
25 question. This is rather strange, as a method, because if Colonel Siljeg
1 receives this fax, that means that he can send a return fax. Why does he
2 decide to write an order to say that nothing is going to be done? And I
3 asked myself whether this was not written later on, because in the heat
4 of the action he received this fax. We might have the hour of receipt if
5 we had the entire document. We could see the top part of the document,
6 but it's not visible here, so it's really difficult when you work with
7 copies. It's best to work with an original document, but we can't ask
8 too much, can we? But supposing that he received this request, because a
9 request for artillery support has to be done straight away, it can't be
10 done three hours or a week later, also because we're dealing with very
11 dramatic news here, as can be seen in the document. And Colonel Siljeg
12 took his pen and wrote by hand. I don't know how he managed to send this
13 handwritten order. In the army, is this something normal?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] With the situation we were in, we
15 asked for reinforcement from the Rama Brigade. Now, this fax from the
16 Rama Brigade was sent on to Mr. Siljeg, and Siljeg responded probably in
17 writing, because we didn't send the fax, but most probably the response
18 was sent in some other way.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So as I understand it, you
20 requested artillery support. And who did you ask this of; of the
21 operative zone, of the North-West Operative Zone?
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] From the North-West Zone of
23 Operations and, more precisely, the Rama Brigade.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Who received your
25 fax? Was it Colonel Siljeg or was it the Rama Brigade? Because the
1 operative zone is not the Rama Brigade. Siljeg is the commander of the
2 operative zone, isn't he?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] We sent the request to the
4 Rama Brigade because the situation was such that we were unable to
5 contact Mr. Siljeg, and Rama forwarded our request to Mr. Siljeg because
6 they weren't allowed to use their artillery without Siljeg's approval.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] When you made this request to
8 Rama, did you -- or when you make a request, do you make a request by
9 telephone or by fax? How do you go about it?
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I'll tell you exactly by which
11 means, because the request went from our 1st Battalion which was in the
12 area of Klis and Kostajnica, and I personally was not in the area. I was
13 at Konjic.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So you know that there had been
15 a request, but you can't say anything as to the details. Thank you.
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
17 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
18 Q. Tell me, Witness, based on your experience, did it happen often
19 that military commanders wrote their orders by hand and it was later
20 retyped, or did they type their orders themselves?
21 A. No, most times the orders were handwritten, and later on they
22 were typed in various ways.
23 Q. All right.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I have used telexes. Like
25 everybody else, I know how they work. This document we have shows that
1 the commander of the operative zone has received the telex, because we
2 can see the stamp, the incoming stamp. So if he has received the telex,
3 I asked myself, If he is able to receive telexes, why can't he send any?
4 And we have something handwritten. It's not a return telex, but I can
5 see that you can't answer because you were not there and you don't know
6 anything about it. Of course, if Colonel Siljeg had been here, we could
7 have asked this of him.
8 Ms. Alaburic, please proceed.
9 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] All right. Your Honours, I
10 believe we'll have an opportunity to explain what happened with this
11 document later and what is usual in drafting replies.
12 Q. Let us take a look at document 4D1168. It's an authorisation
13 issued by Arif Pasalic to two gentlemen to visit the area of Konjic,
14 Jablanica, and Prozor and contribute to the reduction of tensions between
15 the HVO and the ABiH.
16 Tell me, Witness, does any of these names mean anything to you,
17 and if so, which?
18 A. Yes, Esad Ramic is mentioned here.
19 Q. Did you know him?
20 A. I did.
21 Q. Was he from Konjic?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Was he a member of the commission supposed to calm down the
25 A. Yes, he was one of the members of that commission.
1 Q. Here, the powers of the members of the commission are listed.
2 According to your knowledge, is this an accurate description of their
4 A. Yes, it is.
5 Q. Let us now look at document 2D1402, 2D1402. Let us see what the
6 significance of the events in Konjic was. These are the conclusions from
7 a session of the HVO of the HZ-HB, dated 24 March 1993. We can read here
8 in the conclusions that:
9 "Calm the current situation in the municipalities of Konjic and
10 Jablanica with all political means ..."
11 Tell me, Witness, can you repeat, because you have said so
12 already, in a way, whether you also received suggestions from the highest
13 political bodies to calm tensions by political means?
14 A. Yes, we did.
15 Q. Let us now look at document 4D397. This is a document from
16 mid-1992. Let us see whether there was continuity with regard to the way
17 of resolving disputes.
18 This document, dated 20 June 1992, is signed by Milivoj Petkovic,
19 and it says that the Territorial Defence and HVO are constituent parts of
20 the Armed Forces of BiH, and it goes on to say :
21 "Instead of strengthening your mutual bonds in the fight against
22 our common enemy, who is on the threshold of your municipality, you are
23 preparing to use arms against each other."
24 "In the name of Croats and Muslims, I beg you to overcome this
1 You are duty-bound to do that as members of the armed forces of
2 BiH. Tell me, Witness, did you consider yourself as defending
4 A. Yes.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, sorry for taking some
6 time to ask my questions. You know, Ms. Alaburic is very fast, so by the
7 time I've read the document, the previous document, and I've seen who
8 signed it, I have to ask a question because it is an important one. And
9 if I fail to do it, I don't fulfill my role.
10 On the 24th of March, Mr. Prlic signed a document which shows
11 conclusions of a meeting raising problems or alluding to problems, and it
12 also asks that the presidents of municipalities get together. Under
13 item 7, I can see that Mr. Prlic is asking for the co-presidency of the
14 International Conference, that is, Mr. Vance and Mr. Owen, together with
15 the European Mission and Mr. Izetbegovic, be informed of it all. So any
16 reasonable Judge might infer that Mr. Prlic is perfectly transparent,
17 wants everybody to be informed of what is happening. Based on this
18 document, I'm thinking that if an emissary had been sent from Geneva,
19 somebody neutral tasked with looking at what is happening on the ground,
20 he or she would very quickly have seen who had started -- who was
21 responsible for the situation.
22 You were around there. As far as you can see, if you had
23 somebody coming from outside, from Geneva, or from somewhere else, for
24 that matter, from Berlin or Paris, had come to the area, would that
25 person have been able to know who had done what and why these incidents
1 took place in the Konjic municipality, in the Jablanica municipality,
2 before the 24th of March, 1993?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I think so.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So your answer is, Yes. So
5 this international representative, what would they have highlighted, what
6 salient feature would they have found?
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I can't answer that question. I'm
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] But do you think that they
10 could have ascertained the causes and the situation as it really was?
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, if they had closely followed
12 the events on the ground and if they had taken into consideration the
13 reports coming from both sides, that is, the HVO and the ABiH.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Ms. Alaburic.
15 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
16 Q. Let us return to document 4D397. My question is whether you
17 considered that the HVO, that is, the major force of the Croats in
18 Bosnia-Herzegovina, was part of the Army of the Federation of
20 A. Yes, that's what we considered.
21 Q. Let us take a look at a number of documents from March 1993.
22 4D872, it's a report from the 1st Battalion, Klis, dated 24 March 1993.
23 This battalion belonged to your brigade; is that correct?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. In paragraph 1, it is stated that the forces of the Army
1 fiercely attacked the positions of the HVO, and the
2 military police and the 2nd Battalion were blocked in Konjic. In the
3 city, the flags are being burned and people arrested. Is that an
4 accurate description of the events on that day?
5 A. Yes, it is. I have already said as much.
6 Q. It goes on to say:
7 "In the village of Strgovnica, our people were disarmed early
8 this morning, and the HVO cannot transport its wounded to medical care
10 Is that an accurate description of the situation on the ground?
11 A. Yes, it is.
12 Q. I'm now skipping two paragraphs, and toward the bottom of the
13 page it reads:
14 "We received unverified information from Konjic that the
15 Suad Alic Brigade had been tasked to defeat us militarily on all
16 positions around Konjic."
17 My question is: Did you have such information about such orders
18 being given to the Suad Alic Brigade, or is this based on an analysis of
19 the events on the ground, or might something else be the source of this
21 A. This information is correct, and whoever happened to be at Konjic
22 on that day understood that the action of disarming and defeating the
23 forces of the HVO in this area was in progress because the entire town
24 and the outskirts of the municipality were blocked so that no single
25 member of the HVO could move freely, which Midhat Cerovac, the commander
1 of the 7th Brigade, admitted that because they had disarmed 150 HVO men.
2 Q. All right. Witness, let's move on to April 1993 and --
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, this is a very
4 detailed document with many detailed items. We learned, for instance,
5 that at the time of the attack, the ABiH had encrypted their radio
6 transmissions, so it's not innocent at all. In Trusina, women and
7 children had been used as human shields, for instance, and there are
8 other examples. But we also find out that the artillery pieces, well,
9 there were T-82 and 102-millimetre mortars, and they had been displaced
10 from the front that was against the Chetniks to be used there.
11 You were then a military man. Was it usual to remove weaponry
12 from the front against the Serbs to use them against those with whom you
13 were fighting the Serbs side by side? So how do you account for that?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Here's how I explain it: According
15 to the order to disarm HVO members, the lines against the Serbs were
16 stable, and this wasn't the first time ABiH members from the
17 front-line -- or moved their weaponry from the front-line, such as
18 mortars, and took them to other places.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] A minor detail, a political
20 one. The one who drafted this document, Zeljko Mlikota, said this: He
21 said that based on his analysis, there are Muslim politicians who would
22 be in favour of putting an end to the conflict, but they had no influence
23 on the army. The army is not under their influence, it is said. So in
24 the military action of the ABiH, it seems as if it is happening outside
25 the control of some military politicians who seem to be overwhelmed, and
1 that, as a matter of fact, the ABiH intended, rather, to set up a new
2 Muslim authority. So one could believe that within the actual Muslim
3 side, there were differences of opinion between the political part and
4 the military. It's written in here. So what do you think of this? I'm
5 asking for your wise advice.
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I don't know what Zeljko Mlikota
7 meant to say, but it was a well-known fact that there were Muslim
8 politicians who were not in favour of direct conflict, such as
9 Rusmir Hadzihuseinovic. He was probably meant. He tried to reach
10 agreement with the Croatian representatives about not increasing tensions
11 between Croats and Muslims and to preserve peace in the area.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I've just asked you something
13 about the Muslims. I'm going to have the same questions regarding the
15 Was it your feeling that at the level of the HZ-HB, there may
16 have been differences between the military structure and the political
17 structure? Were there any differences at all or aren't you aware of the
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] As far as Konjic is concerned,
20 I can say that all -- everybody from the civilian military structures
21 tried to calm down the situation and avoid a conflict.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So you're saying that as far as
23 Konjic is concerned, there were no problems between the Croat politicians
24 and military; everybody wanted the end of the conflict. Is that what you
25 want to say?
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No. What I mean to say is that the
2 civilian and military structures wanted to reach an agreement with the
3 Muslim representatives in order to avoid a conflict between the Croats
4 and Muslims, so they tried to normalise relations.
5 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
6 Q. Witness, let's begin with April 1993, and the first document is
7 P1803, P1803. This is a report from the SIS, Rama Brigade, dated the
8 4th of April, 1993. I'm going to read out a section mentioning Konjic.
9 It says:
10 "In the north-eastern part of Konjic municipality," or "in the
11 eastern part of the municipality leading to Konjic municipality, there
12 were frequent provocations and attempts at attacking villages exclusively
13 populated by Croats."
14 And they are Ivanci, Pajici, and Vratna Gora.
15 "... and because of the fighting and great danger there, the
16 civilian population has moved out. We would like to mention that all
17 these provocations are coming from the villages of Scipe and Kruscica
18 from Konjic municipality."
19 Now, tell us, Witness, this part relating to Konjic, is that a
20 correct report or not?
21 A. Yes, it is, the report is correct.
22 Q. And was this territory on which your battalion was in charge of
23 the defence or some other unit?
24 A. This was territory that our 1st Battalion was in charge.
25 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, Counsel.
1 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
2 Q. Let's repeat that question and answer - it hasn't been recorded -
3 to make life easier. Is this the area for which your battalion was in
4 charge, in defence terms?
5 A. Our 1st Battalion was in charge of this area.
6 Q. Very well. Now let's look at the next document, which is P1810.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] One moment, please. One minor
8 detail in this document. Well, it is a minor detail.
9 Luka Markesic is the author of this document, and this is a
10 situation report he drafted in April, and he reports many facts. But my
11 attention is drawn to the end of the document, in which he mentions
12 incidents with various groups, and he explains that they are forging
13 money, that there is weapon smuggling, looting of apartments and cars and
14 so on, and the author of this report wishes all this to be prosecuted.
15 So you know the events. Can you tell us whether there were
16 groups of people out of control, rogue individuals who would commit
17 various offences, so that the entire army could be blamed if people
18 believed that they were HVO members?
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Probably there were individuals,
20 but as far as I know, in my area, where I was, there weren't any such
21 individuals, rogue individuals.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] There was no such group in your
23 zone. Very well.
24 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
25 Q. Now, Witness, let's look at the next document, which is P1810,
1 1810. It's a collective report by the Main Staff, dated the
2 5th of April, and the summary report relates to the 4th of April. And
3 let's look at item 3, the part which relates to Konjic. It says here
4 that from the check-point in Ostrozac, Croats are not being allowed to
5 pass through to Konjic on the pretext that they are preventing people
6 from moving out. Now, is that correct or not?
7 A. Yes, that information is correct.
8 Q. Then it goes on to say that in the village of Prijeslop, a group
9 of BH Army members stormed into the area and looted, damaged property,
10 and expelled the remaining women and children. Is that part correct?
11 A. Yes, that part is correct.
12 Q. Now let's look at the next document, which is 2D774. It's
13 already an exhibit, so we can go through it fairly quickly. This is a
14 report from the 1st Battalion, Klis, which is your brigade; right?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. The report talks about numerous provocations. The village of
17 Gornji Prijeslop is mentioned. Then there's mention about shooting at
18 the barracks and at HVO forces in Seonica, and intensive entrenchment on
19 the part of the Muslim forces. And, finally, it says that threats can be
20 heard ever more frequently by members of the HVO, saying that the Easter
21 in Klis will be a bloody one.
22 Now, Witness, to the best of your knowledge, is what is set out
23 here correct?
24 A. Yes, it is.
25 Q. Right, let's go on to the next document, which is 2D775.
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mention is made in this
2 document of Jusa Hadzajlic, aka Homeini. Apparently, he was someone
3 fueling the conflict, and it's indicated that he could be a KOS member.
4 What is "KOS," in your view?
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] In my opinion, it is the
6 Counter-Intelligence Service.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, but for whom?
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, I don't know. KOS was in the
9 former JNA. It was the Counter-Intelligence Service. I can't tell you
10 more than that.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Could it be that this Homeini
12 person was an agent, a Serbian agent, who'd been infiltrated and who
13 would cause conflicts by making speeches, conflicts between the HVO and
14 the ABiH, and would in this way prevent any negotiation? Is that
15 possible, is that something impossible?
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It is possible, yes.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You say it's possible.
18 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
19 Q. Witness, let's look at the next document, 2D775. It's already an
20 exhibit. It is a report from Slavko Puljic in which, among other things,
21 he says that there was an attack on the barracks in Seonica. Tell us,
22 please, Seonica, which army was in Seonica, which forces?
23 A. Members of the Croatian Defence Council were in the barracks at
25 Q. It goes on to say that after the Ivan Sedlo and Duboki Potok
1 barracks, that would be the third perfidiously taken barracks. Is it
2 true that these barracks were seized from the HVO?
3 A. Yes, these barracks were seized during the first attack on the
4 23rd of March.
5 Q. Let's look at 2D76 [as interpreted], the next document, please.
6 2D776. Once again, Slavko Puljic. It is dated the 9th of April, 1993,
7 and he speaks about further provocations and sniper fire targeting
8 certain Croatian villages. He talks about entrenchment and the looting
9 of empty Croatian villages.
10 Now, to the best of your knowledge, Witness, is this report
11 correct or not?
12 A. Yes, it is correct.
13 Q. Very well. Let's go on to the next document, and we'll stay with
14 that document a little longer. It's a very important document, in the
15 view of the Petkovic Defence. It is 2D246. The document, 246, yes --
16 2D246. That's right, yes. The document is an exhibit, but let's try and
17 analyse it now, linked to the protocol or minutes that we analysed at
18 length on the meeting between the police and the BH Army on the
19 23rd of March, which is document 4D454.
20 In point 2 of this document -- or let's identify the document.
21 Who compiled this document, Witness, which unit?
22 A. Enes Kovacevic. That is the unit that was in Jablanica, and the
23 commander was the commander of the Neretva unit from Jablanica.
24 Q. All right. Let's see what the BH Army in Jablanica was planning
25 for that day, the 14th of April, 1993.
1 In point 2 of this order, and you've read the document, Witness,
2 previously, because we don't have time to read it from start to finish,
3 anyway, in the last portion of that point it says that they should be on
4 the ready to carry out decisive defence in the direction of Prozor. Now,
5 tell me, Witness, if we were to compare this order with your drawing
6 where you marked the axis of operation, which was on document IC1124, can
7 you tell us what axis this was, which direction?
8 A. It was the direction from Jablanica in the direction of the three
9 villages, Here, Kute and Scipe, so from the western part of
10 Mount Boksevica and part of the front part of Boksevica towards Mrakovo
11 and the other village.
12 Q. Let's take look at the assignment of the 2nd Battalion set out in
13 point 3. Tell us what the task of the 2nd Battalion was. What was the
14 2nd Battalion supposed to take control of?
15 A. The 2nd Battalion, let me see. That battalion was supposed to
16 take positions towards Ostrozac and Konjic.
17 Q. And what about the 2nd Company?
18 A. The 2nd Company was to deploy the position from Jablanica moving
19 towards Sovici and Doljani, towards Boksevica.
20 Q. I see, towards Boksevica, right. Now let's look at the
21 3rd Battalion in point 4. It says the task of the 3rd Battalion was to
22 take up positions immediately. And what position was that?
23 A. The 3rd Battalion was immediately to deploy south of Jablanica
24 towards Mostar at Aleksin Han.
25 Q. In your opinion, what was the object of this combat operation, as
1 defined in point 4 of this order?
2 A. The objective of the combat operation, as defined in point 4, was
3 to block all the access roads going towards Konjic and passing through
4 Jablanica, which meant preventing all possibility of HVO members to come
5 to Konjic as reinforcement and assistance.
6 Q. You said Aleksin Han was a point south of Jablanica in the
7 direction of Mostar; is that right?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Now, if the BH Army, as is stated here, were to take up these
10 positions, take control of these positions, for you, from the direction
11 of Mostar across Jablanica, could any reinforcements and assistance reach
13 A. No, because that unit would have cut across the communication
14 line from Mostar to Konjic and so prevented any reinforcements from
15 coming in.
16 Q. Mostar-Konjic is a relatively long stretch. Now, the positions
17 described in point 4, did they enable the HVO, from the direction of
18 Mostar, reaching Jablanica?
19 A. It was an obstacle and cut across this communication line, which
20 made it impossible to go from Mostar to Jablanica. At Aleksin Han, a
21 bridge was destroyed and an improvised bridge put up.
22 Q. In point 5, it says that positions towards Risovac should be set
23 up and that the 5th Platoon should be stationed in the village of
24 Doljani, and that it should be prepared to carry out decisive defence
25 until the reinforcements arrive. It says:
1 "Reinforce the position at Obruc by armour-piercing devices and
2 one platoon and set up traffic control."
4 "Once the combat operations start, to prevent a breakthrough in
5 the direction of the villages of Sovici and Doljani."
6 So not to allow passage towards Sovici and Doljani. Now, tell
7 us, with this kind of position, would the HVO forces be prevented from
8 arriving in Jablanica? And if your answer is a positive one, then from
9 what direction?
10 A. Yes, this did prevent arrival through Risovac and Sovicka Vrata
11 and Posusje. It prevented them from arriving in Jablanica.
12 Q. Tell us, please, Witness, had the BH Army managed to realise its
13 plan, that is to say, to prevent HVO forces from Mostar from reaching the
14 Jablanica area, and from Posusje in the area of Risovac and Sovicka Vrata,
15 what would have happened to the HVO in the area of Konjic municipality?
16 A. In Konjic municipality, the HVO did not have any possibility of
17 sending in reinforcements from whatever direction, which means that the
18 BH Army, by this plan, prevented the arrival of reinforcements and
19 assistance to the Croats in Konjic municipality, and no unit managed to
20 break through and help us in Konjic.
21 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
22 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
23 Q. Let us now look at item 6. Mention is made again of the
24 direction Jablanica-Plasa, if I read it well, Risovac:
25 "... fully prepared to carry out sabotage against fire positions
1 and fire points in the area between Plasa and Sovicka Vrata, and assist
2 the 4th Battalion in the area of Sovicka Vrata and Borovik."
3 Tell us, along which direction are the places mentioned here?
4 A. They are at the Risovac plateau. It's in the direction of
6 Q. So it's the communication from Jablanica to Posusje?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. Under item 7, it is stated that the escort company, following the
9 completed mobilisation, should take positions and be prepared to carry
10 out offensive operations. What is this escort company composed of?
11 A. The escort company is composed of mortar units, hand-held
12 rocket-throwers, and recoilless guns.
13 Q. Under item 8, we can read that:
14 "Soldiers are to be issued two sets of ammunition each ..."
15 Tell us, Witness, based on this information about combat sets of
16 ammunition, what kind of action are the soldiers preparing for?
17 A. They are preparing for combat activity.
18 Q. Let us look at item 9. It says that the troops should be
19 supplied with dry meals through the logistics base. When are dry meals
20 provided to troops?
21 A. Only for combat activity.
22 Q. Let's try to sum up. In the first items, the direction of combat
23 activity is defined. You said that it was along the communication to
24 Prozor or Boksevica. Did I understand you correctly? You said that
25 subsequent tasks consist in blocking roads in order to prevent aid coming
1 to the HVO from the directions of Mostar and Posusje; did I understand
2 that correctly?
3 A. Yes, you did.
4 Q. If we were to look at a map marked IC1123 -- sorry, 1124. That
5 is the map with the positions at number 5 and 7. Witness, do you still
6 have that map?
7 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] In that case, I would ask for the
8 map to be handed to the witness again.
9 Q. Now we have the map. We said that point number 7 is according to
10 the attack plan of 23rd of March, 1993. It was document 4D454. And now
11 please show us, Witness, in accordance with this order dated the
12 14th of April, what is the direction of combat activity of the ABiH
13 brigade at Jablanica?
14 A. The plan of combat activity for the brigade at Jablanica is this
15 direction [indicates], take positions in this direction toward Kute and
16 Scipe --
17 THE INTERPRETER: The witness has moved away from the microphone.
18 We can't hear him properly.
19 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
20 Q. Just a minute. Let us just precisely describe it, because there
21 is no need to mark it. You didn't say the starting position.
22 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I'm sorry. We're having a technical problem.
23 Witness, you are speaking too far away from the microphone.
24 Therefore, the interpreters cannot hear you and cannot translate you.
25 It's a bit awkward for you, I'm afraid, but it is necessary that you try
1 to overcome these problems.
2 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
3 Q. So, Witness, we said the direction of activity is from where and
4 in what direction?
5 A. From Jablanica toward Prozor and the villages of Here, Kute and
6 Scipe, and the second part towards Boksevica, that is, this part of
7 Boksevica [indicates] toward the Neretva and the lake.
8 Q. Do raise the map a little a level to let us see. Now, tell me,
9 the positions that the ABiH should take to prevent help from the south
10 and the west to arrive, that is, from Mostar and Posusje, show them to
12 A. From the direction of Mostar, this is this part where the --
13 where there was a bridge which was demolished, Aleksin Han, and a pontoon
14 bridge was constructed instead [indicates], and there was a railroad line
15 from Mostar to Jablanica, so this communication must be cut.
16 Q. And Posusje?
17 A. Posusje is in this direction here toward Doljani and Sovici and
18 Sovicka Vrata [indicates]. Here, it was -- or, rather, they had to cut
19 the communication from Posusje, that is, the Risovac plateau.
20 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Witness, for this.
21 Your Honours, I believe that we can finish for today. We will
22 try to show tomorrow whether the ABiH was able to reach its objectives.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You're right.
24 As you know, we will fortunately be sitting in the morning this
25 week. We'll start tomorrow at 9.00.
1 I believe Ms. Alaburic has about an hour left. I don't have the
2 exact countdown, but it must be close to an hour. Well, our Registrar,
3 quick as a fox, is telling us that you've used two hours and
4 four minutes. You have 56 minutes left, all in all. I was four minutes
5 off. I apologise for that.
6 I wish you all a very pleasant evening, and we'll meet tomorrow
7 at 9.00.
8 [The witness stands down]
9 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 6.59 p.m.,
10 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 24th day of
11 November, 2009, at 9.00 a.m.