1 Monday, 15 February 2010
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The accused Petkovic takes the stand]
5 --- Upon commencing at 2.16 p.m.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Registrar, could you please
7 call the case, please.
8 THE REGISTRAR: Good afternoon, Your Honours. Good afternoon,
9 everyone in and around the courtroom.
10 This is case number IT-04-74-T, the Prosecutor versus Prlic
11 et al. Thank you, Your Honours.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Registrar.
13 Today is Monday, the 15th of January [sic], 2010. I would like
14 to welcome our witness, General Petkovic. I would also like to greet the
15 accused, as well as all the counsels and all the members of the OTP, as
16 well as everyone helping us around this courtroom.
17 Before handing down an oral decision, I would like to give the
18 floor to the Registrar, who is going to give us two IC numbers.
19 THE REGISTRAR: Thank you, Your Honour. 4D and 2D have submitted
20 their objections to the Prosecution's list of documents tendered via
21 Witness 4D-AA. This list shall be given Exhibit IC01176 and 001177
22 respectively. Thank you, Your Honours.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Registrar.
24 Oral decision dealing with a motion from the Petkovic Defence to
25 add 16 documents on the 65 ter list, dated 15th of February, 2010.
1 On the 10th of February, 2010, the Petkovic Defence has filed a
2 motion in which it asks the Chamber to add, on its 65 ter list, 16
3 documents which they intend to bring forward during the testimony of
4 Milivoj Petkovic. During the hearing of the 11th of February, 2010, the
5 Trial Chamber invited the Prosecution, as well as all other Defence
6 teams, to send their response today.
7 The Prosecution informed the Chamber, as well as the parties,
8 that it was not going to be against the motion of the Petkovic Defence.
9 The other teams from the Defence side have not issued any response.
10 The Trial Chamber notes that the motion from the Petkovic Defence
11 is extremely late, insofar as it happened one day before the testimony of
12 Milivoj Petkovic. The Trial Chamber notes, however, that neither the
13 Prosecution nor other Defence teams have brought forward any prejudice
14 linked to this tardiness. The Trial Chamber has, therefore, reviewed
15 this motion and feels that the 16 documents identified display
16 prima facie indicia of reliability, probative value, and relevance.
17 Consequently, the Trial Chamber decides to grant the motion and
18 authorises those documents to be added. And I'm going to quote them:
19 3D02408, P03027, P05573, P06027, P06397, 4D01300, 4D01346, 4D01671,
20 P01341, 4D02026, P02599, 3D00526, P00166, P02114, 4D02024, and 4D02025.
21 These documents will be added on the 65 ter list of the Defence Petkovic.
22 Judge Antonetti is adding a separate opinion to the current
23 decision, and here is the separate opinion:
24 The Trial Chamber decided to add on the 65 ter list 16 documents.
25 I share fully this decision. However, I have a different opinion as to
1 the third paragraph dealing with the tardiness of the motion, because as
2 far as I'm concerned, this means that we don't really take into account
3 the needs of the Defence, which requires constant interviews between an
4 accused and their counsel, and it could well be that during those
5 interviews the need could have arisen at the last minute to introduce a
6 document for the needs of the case, because until now neither the counsel
7 nor the accused would have felt the need or would have seen any interest
8 in lodging this document, and during the interview this could have come
10 As far as I'm concerned, Judges could not demand for all
11 documents to be mentioned on the 65 ter list before a witness comes to
12 testify because this would actually deny the rights of the Defence, which
13 are enjoyed from the beginning of the trial to the end of the trial, and
14 also during the phase where interviews are allowed between the accused
15 and his or her counsel. This comment is also valid for the Prosecutor,
16 who can also feel the need to introduce, at the last minute, a document
17 for which a new interest has been identified during the proofing phase,
18 as we call it. Therefore, in a criminal trial before an international
19 jurisdiction, it could well be that the parties, namely, the Prosecution
20 or the Defence, could feel the need, at the last minute, to bring forward
21 a new witness, and, in fact, this document would not have been mentioned
22 in the 65 ter list. And in this case, I do not feel that we should
23 mention any criteria of tardiness which was mentioned in paragraph 3 of
24 this above-mentioned decision.
25 I feel that a Trial Chamber should display flexibility in case
1 that it is faced with exceptional circumstances, and I believe that
2 interviews between the Prosecutor and its witnesses or interviews between
3 a counsel and his or her client, the accused, could lead to the need to
4 introduce, at the last minute, an additional document. This is my
5 separate opinion, bearing in mind that I fully agree with the fact that
6 we've agreed with adding those 16 additional documents.
7 Ms. Alaburic, the Registrar told me that you already used an hour
8 and 19 minutes, so you have the floor.
9 MR. KHAN: Mr. President, perhaps before my learned friend
10 addresses the Court, firstly, good afternoon. A very quick matter.
11 Perhaps Your Honours could request the Registrar to contact the computer
12 help desk. I did notify the Court that there was a problem before we
13 sat, and that hasn't been rectified, so perhaps I could have some
14 assistance. I would be very grateful.
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Registrar, please make sure
16 that Mr. Khan can have access very quickly to everything on his computer.
17 Very well. Mr. Khan, it will be dealt with. We have a very
18 sufficient Registrar, so he's done everything that's required.
19 Ms. Alaburic, you have the floor.
20 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Good afternoon to you,
21 Your Honours, and to the Prosecution, all the Defence teams. Good
22 afternoon do you, General, and everybody else in the courtroom.
23 I thank the Trial Chamber for its decision, and we can move on,
24 General, with our discussions.
25 WITNESS: MILIVOJ PETKOVIC [Resumed]
1 Examination by Ms. Alaburic: [Continued]
2 Q. The next section I'd like to deal with is the place of the
3 Main Staff of the HVO in the armed forces of Herceg-Bosna, and let's
4 start off with the documents. They're in the first binder, the second
5 set of documents, and we're dealing with organisation and establishment.
6 The first document is P289. It is a Decree on the Armed Forces
7 of the HZ-HB, passed on the 3rd of July, 1992.
8 My first question to you, General, is this: Did you take part in
9 the preparation of this decree?
10 A. No, I did not take part in the immediate drafting of this decree.
11 Q. Tell us, please, General, did you present your views to anyone
12 and say that the armed forces should be organised and what the role of
13 the Main Staff of the HVO should be like?
14 A. As far as I remember, the team working on this document did not
15 ask for any opinion from the Main Staff about any issue.
16 Q. In Article 2 of this decree, it says that:
17 "The defence system of Herceg-Bosna shall be a unified form of
18 organisation of the armed forces, administrative bodies, and legal
19 entities, with a view to ensuring the timely and organised prevention of
20 attack, or any other form of danger to the HZ-HB."
21 Now, tell us, please, General, how do you understand this
22 article? Does it mean that all the bodies of Herceg-Bosna play some role
23 in defence, in the defence of Herceg-Bosna and Herceg-Bosna in general?
24 A. Yes, that's precisely what it means. That's quite -- that's a
25 very normal and realistic article, and in other points the role of each
1 body is set out for the defence of Herceg-Bosna, because all the bodies
2 were established for one primary task, which was the defence of
3 Herceg-Bosna or the defence of Croats living on the territory of
5 Q. Tell us, please, General, was defence the reason for which
6 Herceg-Bosna, itself, was established in the first place?
7 A. As far as I know and according to what it says in the documents,
8 Herceg-Bosna was established in order to defend the Croats and everybody
9 else living in those parts, once an aggression against that area was
11 Q. Now, in Article 10 of this decree, it says that:
12 "The Defence Department shall perform staff and other
13 professional work for the needs of the Presidency of the HZ-HB."
14 And in Article 11, it goes on to say that for the performance of
15 these duties within the Defence Department, the Main Staff shall be
17 Tell us, please, General, to the best of your knowledge about
18 this decree and its contents, except for the staff and other professional
19 affairs mentioned here in this decree, were any other duties given to the
20 Main Staff?
21 A. Your Honours, just this portion of the duties were placed under
22 the responsibility of the Main Staff, that it be a staff organ of the
23 president of the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna.
24 Q. Several months later, the decree was amended, and we come to the
25 next document, P588, where we have these amendments of the 17th of
1 October, 1992. Let me put right the number of the document. It is P588.
2 So the amendments were adopted, and we have a new text of this decree.
3 And we've already said that there was a misinterpretation of Article 10.2
4 of this decree, which relates to staff and other professional duties for
5 the purposes of the Presidency of the HZ-HB.
6 So, General, could you read out Article 10, item 2?
7 MS. ALABURIC: May we have Article 10, please, and for the
8 English as well, please.
9 THE WITNESS: It says:
10 "The Defence Department shall perform staff and other
11 professional duties for the needs of the Presidency of the
12 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna within the frameworks of his remit in
13 the area of Defence except for professional duties from the remit of
14 other administrative bodies."
15 Q. And the mistranslation was that "staff duties" was translated as
16 "command duties" in the first instance, and with that we have corrected
17 that mistranslation.
18 Now, in Article 9, we see that it refers to the tasks of the
19 Croatian Defence Council, or later on, the Government of Herceg-Bosna.
20 In your opinion, what was the most important task that the Government of
21 Herceg-Bosna had?
22 A. The Government of Herceg-Bosna, as indeed other bodies, within
23 the frameworks of its duties and responsibilities, was the organiser and
24 a body which, in a way, implemented the defence system. Its prime task,
25 the one mentioned here, was to enact a defence plan for the
1 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna, which means that the government
2 participated directly in the planning process. That's the first and most
3 important duty. And let me say straight away that the defence plan, as a
4 document, was never adopted, but there were partial documents which,
5 during that war period, represented elements of that defence plan.
6 Therefore, planning for the needs of defence is set here at the level of
7 the Croatian Defence Council.
8 Q. Tell us, please, General, what is your position on the importance
9 of the affairs and duties within the Defence Department? Of these many
10 duties, which would you set aside as being the most important?
11 A. Well, Article 10 sets out 24 very broad responsibilities and
12 duties as tasks for the Defence Department, and I'd like to focus and set
13 aside several of those. The first one is monitoring and co-ordinating
14 activities aimed at achieving the agreed policy of the defence system;
15 secondly, assessing the possibility of wartime and other dangers. And
16 I'd like to add there that point 2 says "during wartime," and during a
17 war it becomes an item which could read and would read as follows:
18 "A reporting on the military security situation on the territory
19 of the HZ-HB." The third point is making plans on the use of the armed
20 forces. Point 4, setting up the system of leading and commanding of the
21 armed forces in such a way whereby the system should be built up by
22 passing the necessary acts and documents, and once these documents -- the
23 first one was the Decree on the Armed Forces. And also the Defence
24 Department adopted a number of documents and instructions which put
25 things in their proper place, if I can put it that way, and thus
1 influenced the control and command system.
2 Furthermore --
3 Q. Just a moment, General. If I might interrupt you there. There's
4 no need for us to read all the various items. I asked you what you
5 thought was most important. So according to this decree, the remit of
6 the Main Staff, did it remain the same, that is to say, that it should
7 perform staff and other professional duties for the requirements of the
8 Presidency of the HZ-HB?
9 A. Yes, with respect to these amendments that were passed in
10 October 1992, everything remained the same; that is to say, that the
11 Main Staff should perform staff and professional duties for the supreme
13 Q. Look at the next document now, please, General, 4D12 --
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] General Petkovic, when I look
15 at this document, there are two articles, Article 9 and Article 10, that
16 articles have to be interpreted according to their heading, and the
17 heading is "The competencies of the HVO, administrative bodies of the
18 HZ-HB." So a legal expert reading this may have the feeling that
19 Article 9 deals, as far as the HVO is concerned, with everything that is
20 listed from point 1 to point 8, and especially what is of the utmost
21 interest is point 7; namely:
22 "Draw up plans for preparation of the terrain for combat."
23 So here we have the HVO, probably its military component, but at
24 the same time I do not have any other details regarding this. So one
25 could think that we have Mr. Mate Boban and perhaps others. And then you
1 have Article 10, which is of a more administrative nature, and it has to
2 do with the Defence Department or perhaps what we could call the Ministry
3 of Defence, and here this is more technical or more administrative. We
4 talk about the various measures and so on and so forth. And in
5 Article 10, when we look at the Defence Department, we do not have the
6 feeling that it has any operational role. As far as the operational area
7 is concerned, it is point 7 of Article 9.
8 So since you were on the ground, I was wondering whether
9 Article 9 was giving Mate Boban the authority and perhaps giving the
10 authority to others, and whether Article 10 is only dealing with the
11 Defence Department, but it's in its administrative component and only
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, Article 9 does not
14 refer to Mate Boban as the supreme commander. Article 9 refers to the
15 executive authority of the HVO. That's the first point.
16 And point 7 that you mentioned, it says "should establish
17 plans -- draw up plans for the preparation of the terrain for combat,"
18 not for defence. I think you read it out as being for defence.
19 MS. TOMANOVIC: [Interpretation] There might be a problem of
20 translation there. Could you read out paragraph 7 in your language.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, I wondering whether you
22 could read paragraph 7 of Article 9 in your language, not in Article 10.
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, I am reading out Article 9.7.
24 It says "Determines plans for preparing the territories."
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Well, in the English
1 translation, Mr. Karnavas, since you are an expert in the English
2 language, is there not a problem in the translation?
3 MR. KARNAVAS: There's nothing about combat, so obviously whoever
4 translated this into English wanted to put a burden on the government.
5 And I don't know who is responsible for that, but the word "combat" is
6 not in there, and I think it should be corrected.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. So there was a
8 problem in the written translation. It's not going to be the only one.
9 I'm sure there will be others. Given the problem with the written
10 translation, my question is irrelevant.
11 Ms. Alaburic, please proceed.
12 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
13 Q. General, let's look at the next document, 4D1287, which is the
14 Law on Defence of the Republic of Croatia from 2002.
15 Tell us, please, General, to the best of your knowledge, at the
16 beginning of the 1990s in Herceg-Bosna, were the laws or decrees prepared
17 in such a way that they were -- that laws adopted and used from the
18 Republic of Croatia with certain amendments and modifications?
19 A. Your Honours, as far as I know, the existing laws in the Republic
20 of Croatia were used, and they were adapted to the situation in
22 Q. Now let's look at Article 11 of this document, General, to see
23 how this was defined as far as the Main Staff was concerned in 2002, for
24 the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia. And we'll see here that
25 mention is made of 31 tasks for the Main Staff, and among those tasks,
1 under item 6 we have:
2 "Command of the armed forces in conformity with the orders given
3 by the supreme commander and the minister of defence and his documents,
4 and the promotion of the system for command and control of the armed
5 forces," et cetera.
6 My question to you, General, is this: If we compare these two
7 decrees on the Law on the Defence of the Republic of Croatia, dated back
8 to 2002, and the decree we saw a moment ago, which provision wants the
9 Main Staff commander to be strong and have the main competencies?
10 A. This is a provision passed by the Republic of Croatia, compared
11 to the decree passed by Herceg-Bosna, so these tasks were not defined in
12 the Decree on the Armed Forces of Herceg-Bosna at all.
13 Q. Let's look at the next document, General. P586 is the number.
14 This a decision on the establishment of the Defence Department, and I'd
15 like us to focus on item 9, which deals with the Main Staff and its
16 organisation and establishment.
17 We've read through this particular excerpt many times in this
18 courtroom, and we've analysed it many times, but I'd like to hear your
19 opinion. It says the chief is the head of the Main Staff and that the
20 chief is responsible to the head of the Defence Department for certain
21 duties and the president of the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna for
22 other duties, and the responsibility of the head of the
23 Defence Department relates to all the administrative affairs and the
24 question of budget and materiel resources and consumption, and the
25 general establishment and life in peacetime and wartime organisation for
1 the armed forces, and responsibility to the president of Herceg-Bosna, as
2 the supreme commander. And it relates to all questions of supreme
3 command, establishment, strategic and operational plans, and the use and
4 deployment of the armed forces both in peacetime and in wartime.
5 Tell us, please, General, according to your understanding of
6 this, the chief of the Main Staff of the HVO, was he really that
7 responsible to the head of the Defence Department or, rather, the
8 minister of Defence Department and for certain affairs to the supreme
10 A. Yes, Your Honours, that is precisely how it was, whether it's
11 Article 9, item 9, but it doesn't speak about duties, but
12 responsibilities, and that's how the responsibilities were set out.
13 According to the tasks that came under the head of the
14 Defence Department, the chief of the Main Staff was responsible to the
15 head of the Defence Department. And the duties that came under the
16 domain of the supreme commander, then he would be responsible to the
17 supreme commander, everything that comes under his authority and
18 responsibility. So from this it follows that the chief of the Main Staff
19 has a dual responsibility. One is administrative affairs, vis-à-vis the
20 Defence Department, and the other is vis-à-vis the supreme commander.
21 Q. In the following item, it is defined in which respects the
22 Main Staff is superior to the command of the HVO, and it reads that it is
23 superior in the -- within the scope of general and specific powers vested
24 in him by the president of the HZ-HB.
25 A. Yes, that's what it says, that this is about the general and the
1 specific powers vested in him by the president, that is, the supreme
2 commander, which means that the specific powers of the chief of staff are
3 never outlined, but it's only defined in terms of vested in him by the
4 supreme commander.
5 Q. And the next item deals with the responsibility of brigade
6 commanders, so it says that brigade commanders shall be subordinate and
7 responsible to the supreme commander or, alternatively, the head of the
8 Department of Defence and the chief of Main Staff, within the scope of
9 their responsibility and in accordance with the powers described above.
10 Tell us, General, does this provision mean that direct
11 communication between the commander-in-chief and brigade commanders is
12 allowed or with the commanders of the zones of operations?
13 A. Yes. It is mentioned here that the commanders of the brigades
14 are subordinate to the president of the HZ-HB, as far as command
15 responsibilities go, but the --
16 THE INTERPRETER: Could the witness please repeat the second
18 MS. ALABURIC: [No interpretation]
19 Q. [Interpretation] General, could you please repeat your answer?
20 A. I'm saying that this says that the brigade commanders are
21 subordinate and responsible to the president of the HZ-HB, as their
22 supreme commander, and they are at the same time subordinate to the head
23 for his responsibilities, his powers, and to the chief of Main Staff if
24 these are the powers transferred to him by the commander-in-chief.
25 Q. When you say --
1 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Just a minute, Your Honour. I
2 would like to clarify something.
3 Q. You said "the head," and in order to make it very clear, the head
4 of what?
5 A. The head of the Department of Defence.
6 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] I apologise.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] General Petkovic, we have here
8 the last paragraph in the English version, which says that the brigade
9 command are subordinated to the president of the Croatian Community, and
10 they're also responsible to him, and the president of the
11 Croatian Community is the supreme commander. Now, this, of course, has
12 consequences regarding the command liability -- command responsibility
13 and responsibility of a superior.
14 Now, let's imagine that a brigade commander, Mr. X, directly
15 calls Mate Boban and tells him, President, let me report to you on such
16 and such situation. For example, unfortunately we shot at a house where
17 there were civilians, and unfortunately these civilians were killed, and
18 so forth and so on. And the president says, Well, it's nothing, no
19 problem. You will be covered. So the commander of the brigade does not
20 report this to the commander of his operational zone, nor to the chief of
21 staff, because the information went from the commander of the brigade
22 directly to Mate Boban, by passing the chain of command, and thus the
23 chain of command is not aware of the problem, if we look at this text.
24 Now, could you tell us whether things occurred in such a manner
25 within the HVO or whether what is written here was only theoretical and
1 was not applied practically on the field?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, this order wasn't
3 issued without a reason. It wasn't phrased this way by chance. The
4 commander-in-chief was supposed to have direct communication with the
5 brigades, and the reason is because, at the level of Herceg-Bosna in
6 connection with these instructions, there were no strictly-defined duties
7 of the Main Staff or the commander of the zone of operations. And the
8 same applies to brigade commanders. This should all be contained in one
9 document of the type -- as the same type as the document Croatia passed
10 in 2000. So there were cases of brigade commanders addressing directly
11 the commander-in-chief, or direct communication from the zone of
12 operations commander to the commander-in-chief. So documents that were
13 made at such times are not possible today, because everybody's role would
14 have to be strictly defined from the chief of General Staff to the lower
15 levels of command.
16 I repeat that there was a document passed in the Republic of
17 Croatia in 2000. There was a list of 30 duties. Under those,
18 exhaustively defined the responsibilities and powers of that commander.
19 In Herceg-Bosna, that was never done, or wasn't done at the time. Until
20 1994 or 1995, the Decree on the Armed Forces was not even amended. This
21 was made in October 1992, and that's how it stayed until the end.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. I understand that
23 you are confirming that even in the Republic of Croatia, brigade
24 commanders could directly report to the president. And any reasonable
25 trier of fact could infer from this, just like I do, that sometimes the
1 chief of staff or the commander of the operational zone was not made
2 aware of certain situations, he was bypassed given this system.
3 Now, the following question: The text that we have here on
4 brigade commanders, can it also be applied to the commander of
5 professional units? To mention one, Mr. Naletilic. Does Mr. Naletilic
6 belong to this whole system, i.e., he would report directly to the
7 president, so he would be directly subordinated to the president of
8 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna and only be liable to him?
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, you have so far been
10 able to see that that was, indeed, the case. He was directly subordinate
11 to the commander-in-chief, and he was responsible exclusively to him.
12 Only with the approval of the commander-in-chief could he be used
13 elsewhere, irrespective of the actual size of the unit at the time. But
14 he was able to give his unit such a status, and he behaved that way
15 throughout the war.
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you. I believe my fellow
17 Judge has questions for you also.
18 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Yes, please. It does not refer to Naletilic,
19 but to the general rule. I must say I find it extremely confusing that
20 there was a regulation according to which brigade commanders were
21 submitted to the chief of the operation zone and, at the same time, also
22 directly to the commander-in-chief. You have explained this by saying
23 that the duties of the General Staff and its head were not strictly
24 defined. I cannot understand why, in such a situation, one does not
25 strictly define these duties so as to have clear structures. I would
1 fear, if I put myself in the shoes of the persons concerned there, that
2 such double line of command to brigade commanders risks creating the
3 greatest insecurity.
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour Judge Trechsel, well,
5 that's not really the way it was allowed to happen. Let's assume that
6 the commander-in-chief issued an order which obliged other people. So
7 lower-level commanders, that is, brigade or operative zone commanders,
8 are responsible to him who issued the order. That's normal. In another
9 situation, if the commander-in-chief transfers powers to the chief of
10 General Staff and says, You will prepare and conduct some combat activity
11 in some area, then these are concrete tasks given to the chief, and the
12 brigade commander will be responsible to the chief of staff. But I agree
13 that this should have been put into writing much better, but it wasn't.
14 You will have noticed that nobody mentions the operative zone
15 here; only brigades. So the author of the document even left out the
16 operative zone. We will see several such documents which were amended,
17 but nobody ever added the operative zone, so it looks like we worked
18 without the operative zone all the time. So this was somebody's omission
19 which was never rectified.
20 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you. I must admit or I will admit that I
21 am much more interested in what actually happened than in what was in the
22 books. Could you tell the Chamber whether Mate Boban made use of the
23 possibility to order brigades directly in many cases or in few cases?
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, I can't really say how many
25 such situations there were, but there were situations in which they were
1 issued an order from the commander-in-chief. Sometimes the
2 commander-in-chief summoned them to him for a briefing about the
3 situation in the brigade, and sometimes the Main Staff, on behalf of the
4 commander-in-chief, would issue orders to the brigades or the operative
5 zones. So there were situations of both types.
6 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I don't find the second eventuality you
7 mentioned problematic. If the supreme commander does this via the
8 General Staff, that, to me, seems normal. If he does bypass the
9 General Staff, would he at least serve the General Staff with a copy of
10 his order or in some other way inform it properly of what he does with a
11 unit that belongs to the Main Staff, actually?
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, all units are
13 subordinate to the commander-in-chief. They're all his units. And then
14 there are also units of the Main Staff and others down the chain of
15 command. It is normal for the commander-in-chief to do what he deems
16 appropriate. That's his right. But the commander-in-chief need not
17 monitor the situation. He can issue an order, but he assigns the duty to
18 the Main Staff to monitor a situation, because the commander-in-chief is
19 an individual and cannot monitor the overall situation, whereas the
20 Main Staff and the zone of operations are a group of people that can
21 monitor the implementation of the supreme commander's orders. That's why
22 it is said that the Main Staff is a staff organ of the supreme commander.
23 That is to say that the Main Staff does all the work, because the supreme
24 commander has nobody else to work for him except for the personnel of the
25 Main Staff.
1 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] And if I may add this: Each unit,
3 from the brigade to the -- or the operative zone up to the supreme
4 commander has its staff, and superior to the staff there is the
5 commander. It's like this in the brigade and in the operative zone, and
6 at the highest level, too, there is also a staff which is much bigger
7 than lower-level staffs. And at the peak of the pyramid, there is always
8 the commander.
9 So much by way of clarification.
10 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you. Not just not to hide, I confess or I
11 state that I have served on the staffs of a division of what, in
12 Switzerland, is called an army corps, three-star general, and in the
13 General Staff of the army, so this corresponds to my experience also,
14 whereas the other organisation does not. It is special, this possibility
15 of a supreme commander giving directly orders to more than one step
16 below. Thank you.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] General Petkovic, you have
18 answered in an extremely detailed way to a great number of questions, and
19 I must ask a follow-up question, and I believe it's important.
20 We see the system as you describe it, but this -- we must put
21 this system in contrast with the indictment. So as an assumption, I
22 would like to know whether it would have been possible that as of May 9
23 and the following days in 1993, Mate Boban would have given direct
24 instructions to Naletilic. All words here are important. So did he give
25 Naletilic a direct instruction, instructing him to collect the entire
1 Muslim population of Mostar, to take them to the Velez Stadium and then
2 to the Heliodrom, and could it be possible that Naletilic got the order
3 and implemented the order without, and I insist on this "without,"
4 without the chief of staff -- the current chief of staff and the
5 commander of the operational zone of Mostar being made aware of this?
6 What's your take on this?
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, it is difficult for
8 me to answer a question like that, because in the morning, at 5.00 a.m.,
9 I wasn't in Mostar, myself, for me to be able to know who was given what
10 assignment. I arrived eight or eight and a half hours after the initial
11 combat operations had started.
12 Now, as regards the relationship between Naletilic and
13 Mate Boban, what I can tell you is this: From mid-November 1992 onwards,
14 they had the following relationships: Mate Boban accepted the
15 Convicts Battalion, he accepted Mladen Naletilic as his adviser through
16 whom all relations with the Convicts Battalion and any possible
17 beneficiaries of its services were solved by Mr. Naletilic in
18 consultation with Mr. Mate Boban.
19 And we'll come to why I mention mid-November 1992 as a date,
20 because as of that date the Convicts Battalion was outside the Main Staff
21 and outside any influence -- any Main Staff influence, that the
22 Main Staff did not have any influence on the Convicts Battalion as of
23 that time. And except for in July, the order that mentions them, there's
24 not a single other order from the Main Staff which makes mention of the
25 Convicts Battalion. And you were able to see the Ludvig Pavlovic and
1 Bruno Busic and all the other ones were mentioned, and that is not
2 without reason. And I hope that through our further discussions, we'll
3 come to that subject, not to have to deal with it now. We'll deal with
4 it in due course.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. General Petkovic, I
6 put this question to you because when earlier you answered my fellow
7 Judge - the page is no longer on the screen, but I will quote your answer
8 from memory - you said that Mate Boban would give an order to a brigade
9 commander, but that he could or he must - I don't remember whether you
10 said he could or he must - make sure that the chief of staff actually
11 carries out the order, as far as he's concerned. When I heard you saying
12 this, I immediately thought about May 9th, with Naletilic collecting the
13 Muslim population. And I wonder whether General Petkovic, if he wasn't
14 there at 5.00 a.m. and arrived eight hours later, I really wondered
15 whether General Petkovic had been made aware of what was going on,
16 because this is what you said. And we now come to the core of the
17 subject. I would like to know whether you were made aware of the fact
18 that Naletilic was conducting an operation aimed at "isolating" -- I'm
19 using this word in quotes, so to isolate a number of people -- a number
20 of Muslims from Mostar, to isolate them at the Heliodrom. Were you made
21 aware of this? And if so, could you tell us when, exactly at what time,
22 to the minute.
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, just one sentence
24 before that.
25 When I mentioned the brigade, I was not thinking of the
1 Convicts Battalion, which didn't have the status of a brigade. It was
2 50 or 60 men. It was an independent unit, and it was given the name
3 "battalion," but it wasn't actually a battalion. It was more a company.
4 So when I spoke about a brigade, I certainly excluded that unit. I
5 wasn't referring to that unit.
6 And, secondly, when you're asking about Mostar and about my
7 response, what I can tell you is that I did not receive an answer from
8 the commander of the operative zone when we met in Mostar, telling me
9 that somebody had done those acts towards the civilians, as you've just
10 presented it here. The information that I received, when I asked whether
11 there were any killed in Mostar and what happened to the civilians, the
12 answer I was given was that the civilian population had been evacuated
13 from the most threatened parts of town which were closest to the
14 separation line, and you all know what that was - that was the Bulevar
15 and the other part - and that such civilians were taken over by the
16 civilian structures. Mention was made of three men who, at Heliodrom,
17 took them in and took care of them and accommodated them. So as far as I
18 was concerned, at that point in time it did not represent ethnic
19 cleansing or any arrests or anything like that, anything that would be in
20 violation of any conventions. As far as I was concerned, it was a piece
21 of information received that, from the confrontation line in town, part
22 of the population was pulled out and provisionally put up, but not under
23 the administration of any segment of the army, but under the command of
24 those who were in charge of social care for persons like that. And these
25 were three individuals who took care of those people throughout who were
1 put up at Heliodrom.
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. This was a very
3 important question, and you answered me in a very detailed way. However,
4 you did not tell me at what time exactly you were told about this. When
5 did you hear about it? Can I have a time? If you remember, of course.
6 I fully understand that this was 15 years ago, so it could be difficult
7 to remember such a detail.
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I arrived quite
9 certainly in Mostar sometime after 1.00, by 1.30 at the latest. And by
10 the time I contacted my operative zone commander and by the time I told
11 him to come and see me, and when we started our talks, it could not have
12 been later than 2.00. So during the half hour that I was there, I had to
13 speak to the people whom I encountered down there, who knew what was
14 going on, and then I told the operative zone commander to come in and
15 give me -- and report to me and give me the information he had; that is
16 to say, what I was interested in at that moment. So we can put it at
17 sometime around 2.00 p.m., 1400 hours.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you very much. I got the
19 answer to my question, but I believe my colleague also has a couple of
20 questions to ask.
21 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Right. It's actually not a question of my own.
22 We have a lot of text here, but I do not think that you have
23 really answered the question Judge Antonetti put to you at the beginning
24 of this series. It was a theoretical question.
25 Do you consider it possible or absolutely impossible that
1 Mr. Boban gave an order to Mr. Naletilic to the effect that he should
2 take certain Muslims away from Mostar? I try to put it neutrally. And
3 it's actually a yes-or-no question. You think it's absolutely excluded,
4 even theoretically; or you think that perhaps theoretically it's not
5 absolutely excluded, although perhaps quite unlikely? But the likelihood
6 is not what I'm asking, just the abstract possibility or impossibility.
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, if we said that Boban
8 sent Tuta to Mostar, he couldn't have envisaged what was going to happen,
9 and there's no reason for him to start out from thinking that some people
10 had to be sent somewhere. Reason tells you whether you're going to do
11 something or not. Now, when there was firing at residential buildings
12 and when there was firing coming from balconies, people left their homes
13 and went to take shelter and refuge in the entrances. And at that point
14 in time these people had to be moved from those areas to some safer place
15 or places. I do not believe that somebody in the morning could have
16 thought along the lines of the fact that the operation could have
17 escalated to such an extent and that what happened would have actually
18 happened. I don't think they could have foreseen this in advance.
19 As far as I know, the first evacuation of civilians, as far as I
20 now remember, began at around 8.00.
21 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
22 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, may we just ask the
23 general to repeat the first sentence of his answer, if you remember it,
24 General, because as it is recorded in the transcript, it doesn't reflect
25 what you said. So could you repeat that.
1 Q. The question was about the theoretical abstract possibility of
2 Boban really ordering Tuta to collect up the Muslims in Mostar.
3 A. I do not believe that he issued the order -- well, to issue the
4 order to go to Mostar and round up the Muslims of Mostar. Nobody thought
5 about any rounding up of Muslims in Mostar. So even had he given him a
6 command on a theoretical level, it would not have been that kind of
7 order, if that is an answer to the question.
8 Can you read out that first sentence? Which first sentence do
9 you mean?
10 Q. Well, the essence is that you put it in the conditional, even if
11 Boban had sent Tuta to Mostar, it did not mean that he would issued an
12 order to him to round up the Muslims, because in the early morning nobody
13 knew how -- what the developments would be, roughly?
14 A. Well, yes, that's it, that's it. If he sent him, nobody could
15 have known what was going to happen. Something happened three or four
16 hours after that.
17 Q. Let's go back to our analysis of the various provisions.
18 We're going to skip over two documents because time is flying,
19 and let's look at P7236 now, please, 7236. It is a decision on the
20 establishment of the Ministry of Defence, and the date is December 1993.
21 And let's see whether the relationships were the same. It is regulated
22 by Articles 11 to 13, where repeated mention is made of the fact that the
23 chief of the Main Staff shall be responsible to the minister of defence
24 for certain affairs and to the president of Herceg-Bosna for other
25 affairs, and also in para 2 of Article 13, that the chief of the
1 Main Staff shall be superior to the commands of the armed forces within
2 the competence of the chief and specific authorisations from the
3 president of the Republic.
4 Now, to the best of your recollections, General, in the
5 provisions governing the position and role of the chief of staff and the
6 armed forces, did anything change while you were in Herceg-Bosna?
7 A. No, nothing essential changed in those provisions, and in this
8 particular document this is divided into several articles. Otherwise,
9 the text is almost completely the same or similar to the ones we looked
10 at previously.
11 Q. Now look at the next document, which is 4D1605, and this is a
12 command or order from December 1993 again from the then minister of
13 defence, Perica Jukic, in which the chief of the Main Staff of the HVO,
14 it says, shall report to him, and what those reports should be like is
15 set out in the document; that regular meetings should be held with his
16 assistants and commanders of the military districts.
17 Now, tell us, please, General, are you familiar with this
18 document? Have you seen it before?
19 A. Yes, I have. It's a document signed by the new minister or,
20 rather, Minister Perica Jukic, perhaps a month after he took up his
21 position as minister.
22 Q. Tell us, please, who was the chief of the Main Staff at the time?
23 A. Your Honours, the chief of the Main Staff at the time was
24 General Ante Roso.
25 Q. And do you happen to know, General, whether Ante Roso actually
1 did report to the minister of defence in this way?
2 A. Yes, I do know about that, because the defence minister gave
3 specific tasks both to the Main Staff, with respect to work and analyses
4 and meetings in the Main Staff, and with respect to its duties -- or his
5 duty to travel around the military district. So the minister made full
6 use of his powers, regardless of the fact that nothing had changed under
7 the law. The minister did have the right to order something like that
8 because the minister had to receive reports about the situation in the
10 Q. Let's look at the next document now, please. It is P4699, and it
11 is a report on work for the first half of 1993.
12 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Forgive me, Ms. Alaburic. I have a question of
14 In the first line, under the heading "Command," it is said:
15 "Each Monday of the month, the head of the General Staff shall
16 report ..."
17 Is that the correct translation or should it say "each first
18 Monday of the month," because the words "of the month" make no sense if
19 it should be each Monday?
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Under item 1, I read:
21 "The head of -- the chief of General Staff of the Croatian
22 Defence Council shall, on each Monday of the month, report to me on
23 operational/tactical situation with proposals for improvement in work
24 procedures and in accordance with the following points:"
25 And then the points follow. It does not say "every first
1 Monday." Actually, reports were sent to the minister four times a month.
2 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Okay, thank you.
3 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, during our analysis
4 of these documents please bear in mind that those were times of war and
5 that these documents were not written by persons who were linguistically
6 very apt, so this causes problems to us lawyers. But these were mostly
7 not written by lawyers.
8 Q. P4699, we said this is a report on activities. In the
9 introductory remarks or notes, in paragraph 4 we see that the military
10 and security situation on the territory of the HZ-HB was a priority in
11 the work of the HVO HZ-HB and was given special treatment. As far as you
12 know, General, did the individual bodies of Herceg-Bosna do their utmost
13 for that part of Herceg-Bosna to defend itself against the aggression?
14 A. Yes, most certainly that was the priority and everybody's work.
15 The military and security situation on the territory of the HZ-HB was the
16 factor that determined everything else there. And this is June 1993,
17 which was the most difficult period.
18 Q. Do you know this document, General?
19 A. Yes, I do, because I also submitted part of this document,
20 contributed part of this document.
21 Q. This part of the document, when you say that, you mean the report
22 on the activity of the Main Staff of the HVO?
23 A. Yes. That was an integral part of such a document.
24 Q. As far as you know, does this document faithfully reflect the
25 remit of the individual bodies of Herceg-Bosna in dealing with issues of
1 various types?
2 A. Yes. Everybody was duty-bound to draft reports about the things
3 from his remit.
4 Q. It follows from this report that the Department of the Interior
5 was in charge of public security, law and order. As far as you know, was
6 it really the case?
7 A. Yes, that was the foremost task of the Department of the
9 Q. Let's look at the following document, P3642. This is your
10 condensed report for six months, which, on the 22nd of July, 1993, you
11 submitted to the head of the Department of Defence. You have seen this
12 document in this courtroom frequently, and the Judges had numerous
13 questions about it. I just wish you to explain to us item 4-6. When you
14 speak about problems, you say, I quote:
15 "The expectation that the HVO army will resolve everything by
16 itself militarily and on the front-line, that is to be expected and that
17 is, indeed, the task of the army. We still do not have such an army with
18 a modern organisation that is technically well equipped, with a dedicated
19 command system. In order to create such an army, the authorities must do
20 far more at all levels, and this must be their primary task. Practice
21 teaches us that the army is becoming privatised. Every municipality,
22 every town and village, have their 'own' army. It isn't possible to move
23 a municipal army from the area of the municipality, and by that very fact
24 the deployment of stronger forces adequate to the task is not possible."
25 As far as you know, General, in mid-1993, can the military of the
1 HVO be considered a well-organised and well-trained army in which the
2 chain of command, the chain of reporting functioned well, and which would
3 be comparable to the military of a more highly-developed country, say one
4 from Western Europe?
5 A. Most certainly not. This was written 15 months after the
6 establishment of the HVO. Fifteen months are not enough to establish the
7 kind of army you have described; organised, trained, ready to carry out
8 its duties. But work was being invested for the army to be better every
9 day, but of course it wasn't possible to achieve that in 15 months. I'm
10 not saying, however, that from the beginning to that time, no progress
11 was made, but that progress was not sufficient for us to be able to call
12 that army well trained, organised, and well equipped, especially the
13 latter part. In spite of all efforts to take that military out of the
14 hands of some local forces, we were unable to do much. I'm not saying
15 that all municipalities were a problem, but in the more important
16 municipalities, which were financially stronger, we were unable to
17 achieve anything.
18 Q. General, if I remember well, the Prlic Defence tried, during
19 their defence case, to show what difficulties the Herceg-Bosna
20 authorities were facing to get insight into the situation on the ground
21 at all, because the municipalities were there, they had been there from
22 former times, and they were very powerful, and the presidents of the
23 municipalities were members of the legislative body that had the power to
24 appoint and to dismiss the members of the HVO, that is, the Cabinet, so
25 these were all problems the civilian authorities were facing. Tell us,
1 did the situation affect the army too?
2 A. Yes, it most certainly did. The civilian authorities at the
3 level of Herceg-Bosna were not able to assert themselves in all issues to
4 the local authorities, because the civilian authorities didn't have money
5 or anything and everything took place at the level of one municipality,
6 and the municipality would say, We do that ourselves and we have to
7 decide about all that ourselves. And their position was, We are
8 defending our municipality, so why don't you let us do so? And in such a
9 situation, the executive structures were powerless. Financially -- or,
10 rather, it may sound funny if I say that the municipalities were
11 financially stronger than you were, but they were. And they were able to
12 do much more for their soldiers, such as paying them, providing
13 health-care, et cetera; whereas at the level of Herceg-Bosna you didn't
14 have that kind of money, and even if you did have some money, you
15 couldn't exert such an influence.
16 And then you also said that they were members of the Presidency.
17 That was another problem, because some people would say, You're not
18 talking to me as the president of the municipality, but be aware that I
19 also have a second hat, that of a member of the HZ-HB, so that the
20 Cabinet actually couldn't go about its work. And some people,
21 individuals, made use of that; not all of them, but some did in their
22 respective municipalities.
23 Q. General, I will now skip what is very clear from the decree, but
24 let's take a look at the following document, P293. It's a rule book, the
25 Rules of Military Discipline. Tell us, in one sentence, did these rules
1 enable military commanders to punish their soldiers fast and efficiently,
2 and also NCOs and officers, if they were breaking the law?
3 A. No. There are some provisions to that effect, but these rules
4 were not implemented as they should have been. The most important
5 element, namely, military tribunals, were not established in
7 Q. General, now we'll be brief; short questions, short answers.
8 What was the term used for slight breaches of military discipline?
9 A. They were called "disciplinary infringements."
10 Q. And what were more serious breaches of military discipline
12 A. Disciplinary offences.
13 Q. Who had the right to decide about holding somebody responsible
14 for these disciplinary offences?
15 A. The supreme commander had that authority for all officers. Well,
16 actually, it was the Court for Military Discipline. That Court was in
18 Q. What kind of breaches of military discipline were within the
19 remit of military commanders?
20 A. Military commanders decided about slight breaches of military
21 discipline, and the disciplinary measures they imposed were very mild and
22 actually inappropriate for wartime. They may have been appropriate in
24 Q. Could military commanders place an officer or NCO of theirs in
25 military detention for breaches of military discipline?
1 A. Your Honours, military detention is for soldiers and reserve
2 soldiers, these two categories only. They were susceptible to being
3 placed in military detention. But officers and NCOs were not. They
4 could be reprimanded.
5 Q. General, Article 67 of this document stipulates who can pass the
6 decision to bring the offender before the Military Disciplinary Court,
7 and it says, under 1:
8 "The commander of the armed forces for higher-ranking officers."
9 And, secondly:
10 "The commander of the operative zone for non-commissioned
11 officers and officers up to a certain rank."
12 General, it follows from this that the chief of Main Staff was
13 not in the position to issue a decision to bring an offender before a
14 military disciplinary court.
15 A. Yes, indeed, that is what this provision says.
16 Q. Take a look at the following document now, 4D1346. It's a rule
17 book on military discipline that was in force for the Armed Forces of the
18 Republic of Croatia. It is from 1992. Let us look at Article 69 to see
19 how it was regulated in Croatia.
20 In Croatia, these powers were vested in: One, the chief of the
21 Main Staff for higher-ranking officers; and, secondly, the commander of
22 the operative zone for non-commissioned officers and officers. These two
23 documents are almost identical, except in this part, because in
24 Herceg-Bosna the chief of Main Staff does -- explicitly does not have the
25 right to bring offenders to a military court, and that right is vested in
1 the commander of the armed forces.
2 Do you think, General, that this legal provision was meant to
3 strengthen or weaken the position of the chief of Main Staff?
4 A. In Croatia, the position of chief of General Staff was certainly
5 strengthened, but in Herceg-Bosna it was weakened.
6 Q. Now I have a number of short questions about remit.
7 As far as you know, General, was the chief of Main Staff involved
8 in taking decisions about the organisation and the powers of the military
10 A. No.
11 Q. Was the chief -- or did the chief of Main Staff have the power to
12 decide about using military or civilian police for combat purposes?
13 A. No, he did not.
14 Q. As far as you know, did the chief of Main Staff have the power to
15 decide about issues within the remit of the military police?
16 A. No.
17 Q. Could the chief of Main Staff decide about issues from the remit
18 of the SIS?
19 A. No.
20 Q. Could the chief of Main Staff decide about issues within the
21 remit of the IPD?
22 A. No, he didn't have that power.
23 Q. Could the chief of Main Staff decide about -- decide about
24 criminal proceedings, prosecution, and other issues having to do with
25 military jurisdiction?
1 A. No.
2 Q. As far as you know, could the chief of Main Staff decide about
3 establishing prisons, or detention facilities, or any other facilities
4 for detaining persons?
5 A. No, he didn't have that power.
6 Q. Did the chief of Main Staff have the power to decide about
7 managing and controlling prisons, detention facilities, and other
8 detention centres?
9 A. No, he didn't have those powers, nor did he exercise them.
10 Q. Could the chief of Main Staff take measures and decide about
11 issues that have to do with public law and order?
12 A. No, public law and order is not part of the authority of the
13 Main Staff.
14 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I have done -- I'm
15 done with this part. Perhaps we could have the break now.
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] We will break for 20 minutes.
17 --- Recess taken at 3.46 p.m.
18 --- On resuming at 4.08 p.m.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The court is back in session.
20 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
21 Q. General, we've just been speaking about what was not under the
22 remit of the chief of the Main Staff. Now we're going to deal with what
23 was under the authority of the Main Staff or were linked to the authority
24 and remit of the Main Staff, and we're going to start off with the crime
25 base situation.
1 And let's look at the first document. 4D1355 is the number to
2 start off with. This is your interview which appeared in the
3 "Vecernji List" in August 1994, when you were leaving Herceg-Bosna.
4 Before I ask my questions based on this document, just a question.
5 In your response here to the second question, you say that in
6 coming to Herceg-Bosna, or, rather, Bosnia-Herzegovina, you thought that
7 you would stay for about a month while the problem at Kupres and Livno
8 was resolved, but that, nonetheless, you stayed for more than two years.
9 Now, tell us, was that your intention in April 1992?
10 A. Yes, in principle, that's what I thought. I thought that it
11 would last for a brief period, because in the neighbouring municipality
12 in the Republic of Croatia, UNPROFOR forces had already deployed, and it
13 was to be expected that with the proclamation of the independence of
14 Bosnia-Herzegovina, that the UNPROFOR forces would be deployed there,
15 too, in similar fashion. That's what we expected, but it never came
17 Q. Now, in this interview, General, in answer to a question about
18 the results of the war with the Muslims, that they were worse than the
19 results of the war with the Serbs, you say that you did not prepare to go
20 to war against the Muslims. Now, today, General, when you're here at
21 this Tribunal and in this courtroom, could you tell the Trial Chamber
22 whether the HVO really did not prepare for war with the Muslims?
23 A. No, it didn't. The HVO did not prepare at all for a war against
24 the Muslims. The HVO wanted the Muslims and Croats to unite as far as
25 possible and to stop the Serb attack or to extend the free territory,
1 depending on the political will of the leaders of Bosnia-Herzegovina of
2 the day.
3 Q. Now let's look at the next document, which is 1D2340.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] In this document, in this
5 interview which you gave at the time, were you answering questions put to
6 you by a reporter? Obviously, through his questions, he seemed to be
7 well informed of the situation. In this interview, you explained that at
8 one point in time there was also General Praljak, and you talk about the
9 areas covered. General Praljak told us on several occasions that there
10 had been an allocation of territory between you and him, so could you
11 tell us what exactly was your territorial competence? What was your area
12 of competence, in terms of territory?
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, we didn't divide up
14 the territory in any way so that we could say that one person was
15 responsible for this and the other for that. The situation, itself, in
16 Central Bosnia, and the fact that instead of General Praljak, I went to
17 the negotiations, imposed the need for me at that time, while spending
18 time in Central Bosnia, to use the opportunity to learn as much as
19 possible about the events in Central Bosnia, to try and contact the
20 people as much as possible, because I was the only person who, with the
21 help of UNPROFOR, was able to reach Central Bosnia and the Kiseljak area
22 alone. Everything else was -- well, the UNPROFOR could -- well, except
23 in one case they refused to help me to go to Busovaca, Travnik, Vitez,
24 and so on, and in that context General Praljak passed on the authority to
25 me, following talks, and I went to Central Bosnia quite often. And
1 therefore it was normal that apart from the tripartite or bilateral
2 talks, that I take care of the situation with the HVO in that area, to
3 deal with that too.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well, you've answered my
6 In this interview, you seem to express surprise, as well as
7 General Praljak was also surprised, when Ante Roso replaced
8 General Praljak. Do you confirm that you were surprised by this?
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, to be quite frank, I
10 did not expect General Roso to arrive at the place he arrived at, and
11 that news and the appointment of Ante Roso took me by surprise. I don't
12 know whether General Praljak knew or did not know. If he did know, he
13 couldn't have known one or two days before -- before one or two days
14 before. I don't assume that there was talk of this 10 days before and
15 that, therefore -- because if that had been the case, I would have known
16 about it. But we didn't expect Ante Roso to come, no.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] One last item. Well, I could
18 ask a great number of questions, of course, but time is of the essence.
19 So this reporter seems to be well aware of things, and he's
20 asking you some questions about the Old Bridge and the destruction of the
21 Old Bridge. You answer his questions, and I'm interested in his last
22 question on this topic and your answer:
23 "Let Mr. Military Prosecutor continue his job."
24 I checked to see the date of this interview. It was on
25 August 2nd, 1994, early in August 1994. The Old Bridge had been
1 destroyed for several months already. So when you answered this, did you
2 know -- obviously, you knew that there was a military investigation
3 underway and the military prosecutor was in charge of investigating this
4 and trying to find the truth? Did you know that?
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honours, we did know --
6 or, rather, it was known that the military prosecutor had raised an
7 indictment against three or four soldiers, and that he conducted an
8 investigation, and the investigation went along the lines -- well, the
9 military prosecutor kept the investigation to himself. How far he got, I
10 don't know. But apart from those three or four, I don't think he got any
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Within this investigation led
13 by the military prosecutor, were you summoned to be heard as a witness or
14 did anyone think it was useless to put any questions to you? I'm talking
15 about the investigation.
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, nobody summoned me as
17 a witness. All I know is that the commander of the operative zone's
18 presence was required, and he did state his views. And everything else,
19 the investigation took place in the Mostar area.
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So the only thing you know is
21 the commander of the operational zone was heard, but you were not heard.
22 Very well. Thank you very much.
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I don't know whether
24 he was heard, his testimony was heard. All I know is that the operative
25 zone commander said that his presence was required, and the commander of
1 the operative zone compiled a list of three or four topics and sent them
2 out to three or four addressees.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Fair enough.
4 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Unless I'm very much mistaken, we
5 went into that with Vinko Maric, one of our witnesses.
6 Q. Now, General, the next document, 1D2340, is the transcript of a
7 TV programme called "Close-Up." I'm interested in page 19 of the
8 Croatian and page 23 of the English text of the transcript of that
9 programme. K. Zubak says, with respect to the conflict with the Muslims:
10 "We were absolutely not ready and prepared, and the situation
11 came about without us being prepared to react."
12 Now, tell us, General, we see what Kresimir Zubak says, that the
13 HVO was not preparing to war against the Muslims. Now, in your opinion
14 and to the best of your knowledge, was that the general position in
15 Herceg-Bosna, or do you know of anybody who did want to have a conflict
16 and was preparing for a conflict with the Muslims?
17 A. Your Honours, that was the general position. At no point did we
18 prepare for war against the Muslims. Quite the contrary, we tried in all
19 manner possible to draw as close to them as possible and unite at all
20 levels, to unite our forces.
21 Q. General, can you tell us, as you understand the conflict between
22 the Croats and Muslims in Herceg-Bosna, when did the conflict start, when
23 did an all-out conflict start?
24 A. Your Honours, I have my views on the matter. After the
25 unsuccessful de-blockade of Sarajevo at the end of December 1992,
1 according to my information, the Muslim political leadership had a rift,
2 there were difference of opinion; as existed in the military leadership,
3 too. And both the political and the military component was afraid of the
4 unsuccessful efforts on the part of the Muslims in the conflict with the
5 Serbs. And since the de-blockade of Sarajevo was to serve as a major
6 victory over the Serbs, which would turn the course of the war around and
7 which, in a way, would dictate negotiations in January in Geneva, that
8 never happened. And so ways and means were sought for the BH Army to
9 score successes to boost the morale of the army in any way possible.
10 However, unfortunately, as far as we were concerned, these conflicts
11 started between the Muslims and Croats. And confirmation of this is my
12 talks with Mr. Izetbegovic, when, on the 14th of December, 1992, he
13 called me to come to Jablanica and talk to him there, and also to talk to
14 his command, which was preparing to lift the siege of Sarajevo from the
15 outer limits, because the de-blockade of Sarajevo took place externally
16 and internally. And on that occasion, Mr. Izetbegovic told me that he
17 expected to score a great victory which would reverberate in Europe and
18 the world and which would affect the outcome of future negotiations. And
19 when I said, Why Sarajevo, Mr. Izetbegovic, it's a big bite in the middle
20 of winter, he said, Well, if I don't liberate the political centre,
21 everything else is less important. And so they expected a lot to come of
23 Q. Tell us now, please, General, what your answer to my question is.
24 When did the conflict take on a broader scale between the Croats and the
25 Muslims and on a more permanent basis?
1 A. Well, it began from the Geneva negotiations in January, and they
2 burgeoned and took on greater intensity and expanded from Vakuf to
3 Busovaca and so on.
4 Q. And the January conflicts, were they stopped?
5 A. The January conflicts were stopped, first of all, in Vakuf, and
6 then, to everybody's general surprise, they broke out in Busovaca. And
7 I can say, quite frankly, that we were defeated and that the HVO, as a
8 compact part, was separated into two parts: Kiseljak, Kresevo, and
9 Fojnica, they were separated from Busovaca, Vitez, Travnik, and
10 Novi Travnik with a corridor which was seven to ten kilometres wide.
11 Q. I apologise, General, but we don't have time to go into an
12 extensive explanation of the situation. But tell us, if the conflicts
13 were stopped in January 1993, does that mean that the conflicts weren't
14 any -- weren't lasting, didn't last for a long time?
15 A. That's right, because the efforts that Halilovic and I invested,
16 they were stopped, and we thought that the problem of the conflict
17 between the Croats and Muslims had been resolved. However, we then had
18 March and April of 1993 and the events that took place at that time.
19 Q. When you say March and April happened, March and April of 1993,
20 what event are you thinking of specifically?
21 A. Well, I'm thinking about the 23rd of March, 1993, and the attack
22 by the BH Army against the HVO in Konjic at a time when the negotiations
23 in Geneva were going on, and two days before Mr. Izetbegovic finally
24 signed the Vance-Owen Peace Plan.
25 Q. General, repeat the date once again. It wasn't recorded
2 A. The 23rd of March, 1993.
3 Q. We'll deal with the Konjic events in due course, but just one
4 explanation here. When you spoke to us about the fact that you had
5 information to the effect that the Muslim leadership, after the
6 unsuccessful blockade of Sarajevo, was going to prepare another action
7 which they hoped would be successful to boost morale in the BH Army, are
8 you actually referring to the information you obtained after the war?
9 A. Well, part of the information was information I received on that
10 14th of December, 1992, when Mr. Izetbegovic called me to go to Jablanica
11 to see him, and in the interim General -- well, they called him -- they
12 referred to him as "Talijan," the Italian, but I think his name was
13 Bajram Hajrulahovic. He came up to me and said, Petkovic, what we're
14 going to ask of you, please assist me there, because if we don't succeed,
15 it won't be a good situation for either you or us. And from that, I
16 deduced that success -- the success of the Sarajevo operation could
17 determine the future course of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
18 Now, after this operation had been completed, what happened,
19 quite simply, was that there was a conflict among the Muslim units,
20 themselves, which had taken part in the de-blocking of Sarajevo, and at
21 the same time I met Mr. Hajrulahovic -- or, rather, we had talks again in
22 July 1994. When I visited Sarajevo, I was reminded of my talks with him.
23 Q. Tell us, did you then, on the occasion of that visit in 1994,
24 learn that the plan was to achieve that victory in fighting the HVO?
25 A. Yes. They wanted a victory over the HVO. Otherwise, they were
1 afraid that their system of control and command and their army to start
2 falling apart. Their conclusion was, The Serbs are very strong, and we
3 can't stand up to them, but the Croats are weaker and isolated, and we
4 can beat them.
5 Q. If I understood you well, you learned about that at that meeting
6 in 1994 in Sarajevo.
7 A. Yes. The man was sincere because he had already fallen from
8 grace, the grace of the members of the BiH Army and the people of the
9 1st Corps, because they were singled out as the culprits for the failure
10 of the lifting of the blockade.
11 Q. How did the conflict at Konjic on the 23rd of March end?
12 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Excuse me, Ms. Alaburic. I would like to ask a
13 question relating to the meeting on 14 December in Jablanica.
14 Hearing this and considering the situation, of course, from a
15 great distance, the question occurred to me whether a joint attack to
16 liberate Sarajevo, HVO and Muslims, whether that was ever taken into
17 consideration, and, if so, why it was obviously decided against.
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, on the 14th of
19 December it was considered to attack Sarajevo in order to lift the siege,
20 and that is why Mr. Izetbegovic invited me to that meeting. And I joined
21 the staff of the ABiH, which was preparing that operation.
22 Mr. Izetbegovic and the gentlemen from the staff raised some demands, to
23 call them that, toward the HVO, and we did what they wanted, to some
24 extent. They wanted our brigade to join them in Sarajevo, which was
25 done, and our forces from Konjic to get involved, which was also done.
1 They also wanted ammunition from me, and that was also done within two
2 days, and subsequently in phases. And they wanted, I think, 500 rifles
3 for Pasalic to enable him to arm an equal number of men willing to fight,
4 and they had been -- they had left the municipalities of
5 Eastern Herzegovina. And those were their demands toward us. They were
6 saying that they had 11 brigades in Sarajevo, that was the strength of
7 the first brigade. And they had a number of brigades around Sarajevo on
8 the -- facing the besieging forces. And everything was agreed.
9 On the same evening, after the meeting, I left for Grude. I
10 informed Mr. Stojic and Mr. Boban on the following day, and Mr. Stojic
11 insisted that we should equip Pasalic to the best of -- as best we could.
12 And I think we gave him some 300 rifles, as many as we had. We gave him
13 equipment, clothes, and ammunitions, the quantity of ammunition that we
14 had in stock at the time. What's more, we ordered our brigades to send
15 some of their ammunition toward Jablanica to Konjic from where the
16 operation was supposed to be launched.
17 So Mr. Izetbegovic was surprised by our promises, what we would
18 do for him. And then he promised he would invite me to the launch of the
19 operation, but he failed to do that. Obviously, they wanted to surprise
20 me, too.
21 So I was at Sarajevo Airport when the operation started. There
22 was a tripartite meeting scheduled there, a meeting of Serbs, Croats, and
23 Muslims. They had already started the lifting of the siege of Sarajevo,
24 and that's exactly the time when they started -- were starting the
25 operation. And for two days, the fighting went on with full intensity,
1 and that was the most serious attempt to lift the siege of Sarajevo until
2 that time. There was one in October, but that was more of a political
3 nature, but this one was real, and they really did start lifting the
4 siege of Sarajevo.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] General Praljak.
6 THE ACCUSED PRALJAK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I would like
7 to use my right to pass on this information to my Defence team. This is
8 military information about which we could ask General Petkovic.
9 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Just an observation on the transcript.
10 On page 45, lines 23 following, I read the following:
11 "They were saying they had 11 brigades in Sarajevo. That was the
12 strength of their first brigade."
13 This confuses me somewhat. Could you clarify? Perhaps lost in
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, this was a
16 mistranslation. These 11 brigades in Sarajevo were part of the
17 1st Corps, which had its headquarters in Sarajevo.
18 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] General Petkovic, there was
20 this meeting with Izetbegovic on December 14th. Could you tell me which
21 year it was held? Was it 1993 or 1994? Maybe 1992?
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, 1992.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well, in 1992. I listened
24 very carefully to what you were saying in order to understand how the
25 events unfolded, and there are several levels that we don't have. But
1 you were at the first level, you were at a very high level. The first
2 level would be the politicians of the time, President Clinton; the
3 British prime minister; Mr. Mitterand, the late Mr. Mitterand. That's
4 the first level. The second level is the level of the negotiators in
5 Geneva, Mr. Cyrus Vance and Lord Owen, but nobody believed that it was
6 important enough to ask them to come here. And then there's the third
7 level, and there's four of you in that third level; yourself, Halilovic,
8 General Morillon, and Mr. Thebault. That is the third level that could
9 be used to try and understand what actually occurred. In the first
10 level, I did not include those who passed away, Mr. Tudjman and
11 Mr. Izetbegovic. So you were one of the main actors in this third level.
12 And while you were answering a question put to you by
13 Ms. Alaburic, you said that on December 14th, 1992, you met with
14 Mr. Izetbegovic to try and devise a plan for Sarajevo in order to help
15 lift the blockade of the Serbs over Sarajevo and, therefore, to disengage
16 the ABiH. I was listening to what you were saying, and if it's true,
17 it's fine. If it's not, of course, Mr. Scott, during his
18 cross-examination, will, I'm sure, demonstrate this. But right now,
19 you're under oath and you're supposedly telling the truth.
20 So when you met with Izetbegovic, it is because Izetbegovic
21 believed that you were one of the military components of the Republic of
22 Bosnia-Herzegovina's HVO, and there we're back to the old debate
23 regarding the components of the armed forces of the Republic of
24 Bosnia-Herzegovina. And earlier you explained at length that there were
25 300 rifles that were handed over, Pasalic, and so on and so forth. I'll
1 spare you the details. And then you say that at that moment, Izetbegovic
2 understood that he would not be able to gain any results, vis-à-vis the
3 Serbs, because of the power of the Serbs. I was trying to read in
4 between lines there. And so for him to have better standing in front of
5 the international community, his only alternative -- his only option was
6 to attack the HVO, and it's this way around and not the other way around.
7 So by saying this, of course, you're going against the case of
8 the Prosecution. You say that they attacked you, and you say that it was
9 because the HVO was in an inferior situation as compared to the BH Army;
10 it was easier for the BH Army to win fighting with you than fighting the
11 Serbs. And I'm finally coming to my question.
12 You were in contact with all these negotiators in Geneva, so when
13 you found this out from Mr. Izetbegovic's mouth, did you convey that
14 message? Did you say that there was a double deal here; that, on the one
15 hand, seemingly one party wanted peace, but was waging war against you?
16 Did you say that? And if you did convey that, who did you convey it to?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, let me put it this
18 way: Mr. Izetbegovic really invited me on the 13th, but I wasn't able to
19 come on that day. A message was left for me to meet him on the 14th in
20 Jablanica, and I really did come to that meeting. I considered it my
21 duty to respond to his invitation, because he was the president of the
22 Presidency, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, irrespective of
23 my view of the HVO.
24 Sarajevo was some 150 kilometres away from Jablanica, and still I
25 went off to meet him there. And Mr. Izetbegovic and his staff told me
1 what they wanted to achieve and how. They wanted all possible assistance
2 and materiel at that moment. They wanted the HVO to assist them by
3 giving ammunition of different calibres. And our neighbour from Mostar,
4 Mr. Pasalic, asked for a quantity of rifles to be provided to him to
5 enable as big a number of his soldiers from Mostar as possible to also
6 take part in lifting the blockade, and that's all we could do.
7 And in the first 20 minutes of his meeting, in a separate office
8 while his personnel was preparing the meeting, he was able to explain to
9 me what he wanted. He said, Mr. Petkovic, we opted for such a massive
10 and demanding operation of lifting the siege of Sarajevo because we want
11 to come to Geneva with a big victory on our hands, and then we will
12 dictate our conditions for peace negotiations to the Serbs. And then I
13 asked him, Well, Mr. Izetbegovic, can't you see what the weather's like?
14 Igman and Bjelasnica, where the main axis of attack was to be, there was
15 over a metre of snow there. But it was their position that they would do
16 it that way.
17 A Prosecution witness from Jablanica confirmed that I was present
18 at the meeting, and he said, with a smile, that they never actually
19 showed me the plans -- the maps with the plans, but the only question
20 that they had for me was how I could assist them, in terms of materiel.
21 And I promised that I would give them everything that we had, and that he
22 was quite surprised by that. And I think that he actually expressed his
23 gratitude to me and to the HVO for having done that, in spite of the
24 failure of the operation. And let me prove that by saying that I went
25 with him to Geneva for the talks. He actually flew me there in his own
2 After this failure, Your Honours, that resulted in a route, his
3 units being routed, and there were substantial casualties in the clash on
4 Mount Igman, and all the reports conveyed the idea that they were in a
5 difficult situation. And instead of having a victory under their belt
6 for the talks, they went there with this massive defeat they had suffered
7 in the effort to lift the siege of Sarajevo.
8 And after that, at some points in time the BH Army actually
9 turned to the HVO to attack it, and after that operation there is no --
10 there are no major operations against the VRS, not even in
11 Eastern Bosnia, where the situation in Zepa and Srebrenica and in other
12 areas was really difficult. The 2nd Corps was immobile, doing nothing.
13 And from that time onwards, all the activities, in the intervals that we
14 have seen, were all targeting the HVO. Unfortunately, from March
15 onwards, they were quite successful in their operations against us, and I
16 could even say that we were down to two small enclaves in Central Bosnia.
17 All the rest fell into the hands of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Army. And
18 the position of their people is, We cannot fight the Serbs, because they
19 are very strong, but we can fight the Croats. So they were actually
20 looking for space in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Central Bosnia, and
21 that's how this conflict came into being.
22 We discussed with Mr. Boban, Mr. Akmadzic, who was in the Cabinet
23 at the time, in the government, the situation that developed. And
24 I think that in late December, even Mr. Prlic sent a letter saying, Why
25 is the BH Army pursuing a different line than the politicians in
1 Bosnia-Herzegovina at the time? He issued a warning of sorts in this
3 So this is, in brief, what I have to say to you about the lifting
4 the siege of Sarajevo. They failed to do that. And after that, a number
5 of clashes with the HVO followed.
6 I can also tell you that on the 20th and the 21st of December,
7 Mr. Stoltenberg was in Sarajevo - 1992, that's the year I'm talking
8 about - and that I and the other two commands, Mladic and Halilovic, were
9 invited, through the good offices of General Morillon, to attend a
10 meeting, a preparatory meeting for the Geneva talks, because they were
11 scheduled to go on within a couple of days. Mr. Halilovic did not
12 attend, and I, myself, had been blackmailed by General Mladic in the
13 following way: Mladic was to arrive in the Lukavica Barracks first, and
14 once he was taken by UNPROFOR safely there, then they could take Petkovic
15 to Kiseljak, because there were detonations around the airport at the
16 time, the BH Army was attacking the Serbian forces at the time to no
17 avail, but that was on the 2nd [realtime transcript read in error "22nd"]
18 of December, 1992, when I and the other two commanders were invited to
19 come to Sarajevo for the talks, and we expected Mr. Stoltenberg to arrive
20 for this preparatory meeting for Geneva which was supposed to start in
21 early January 1993.
22 Halilovic did not attend the meeting, so that for all intents and
23 purposes, this attempt to achieve an agreement among the three
24 commanders, which was supposed to speed up the talks on military issues
25 in Geneva, fell through.
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you. So you've added
2 some details. Maybe there is a mistake in the transcript.
3 Yes, Mr. Karnavas.
4 MR. KARNAVAS: I just wanted to make one clarification.
5 On page 47, line 22, you indicated, Mr. President, that no one
6 thought it was important to invite certain persons such as Lord Owen.
7 Let me make it very, very clear for you, Mr. President. We did make
8 every effort possible to bring Lord Owen here. He refused to come and
9 testify for any side.
10 So I want to make sure the record is rather clear. We do make
11 efforts, and sometimes we're unsuccessful. We sought not to have him
12 subpoenaed, because we don't think it's advisable to try to subpoena
13 somebody who doesn't wish to come and testify here, someone at least of
14 that calibre.
15 Thank you.
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you for this
17 clarification. But as far as I'm concerned, I would have had no problem
18 to subpoena him, or anybody else, actually.
19 General Petkovic, you made some clarification, and we discovered
20 that a meeting was planned with Mr. Stoltenberg and General Mladic, as
21 well as Mr. Halilovic, who was supposed to attend, but Mr. Halilovic did
22 not show up. Does that mean that it would explain that the ABiH, as
23 early as January, would launch an attack in Central Bosnia in some areas
24 that were held by the HVO? And if so, could you tell me which areas
25 those were, because we were not in the tu quoque here, we are looking at
1 a diplomatic explanation of an international conference, and we were
2 trying to see who's playing what here. So according to you, the ABiH has
3 launched an attack against which areas; in January, that is?
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, we have seen that on
5 the 6th of January, 1993, the first clashes in Gornji Vakuf erupted.
6 That was the last day of the conference, the first part of the conference
7 in January 1993.
8 Likewise, on the 11th -- the night between the 11th and the 12th
9 of January, 1993, again the conflicts in Gornji Vakuf were renewed, and
10 the 12th is the first day -- or the last day of the second part of the
11 talks in Geneva.
12 And let me say that on the 26th -- or, rather, from the 23rd and
13 the 26th of January, we went to Geneva again, and from the 25th until the
14 28th, there was an attack on an area between Busovaca and Kiseljak, where
15 the HVO was pushed back from a rather large area, and this resulted in
16 the enclaves of the Croatian population in Central Bosnia. Those clashes
17 were stopped thanks to the efforts of myself and Mr. Halilovic, but
18 BH Army forces did not pull back to restore the state as it was before.
19 And it is interesting that all those clashes erupted to coincide with the
20 talks, so on the 23rd of January, a couple of days before Mr. Izetbegovic
21 was supposed to affix his signature to the Vance-Owen Plan in New York.
22 He signed it on the 25th.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you.
24 Ms. Alaburic, please proceed.
25 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Just two corrections. At page 49,
1 line 6, the word "Sarajevo" should be erased, and there should be
2 "Usora," it should read "Usora." And at page 52 -- "Usora," well, it's
3 okay. Page 52, line 9, the date is supposed to be the 22nd of December,
4 not the 2nd of December.
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, that's correct.
6 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Yes, that's what you said, but
7 it's not been recorded correctly in the transcript. Now it's been
9 Q. General, sir, I'd just like to avoid any misunderstandings in an
10 effort to understand what you know about the plans of the BH Army to put
11 a stop to the conflicts with the Serbs or, rather, not to launch any
12 attacks to liberate its territory from the Serbs, but rather to target
13 the HVO. Correct me if I'm wrong, you learnt that, in 1994, that was how
14 it was formulated in the talks at that time?
15 A. Yes. Well, we learnt that already in January 1993, through our
16 intelligence efforts, by monitoring their conversations, and in 1994 I
17 visited Mr. Hajrulahovic in his apartment in Sarajevo, and that's when I
18 learnt that. In that conversation, actually.
19 Q. I think that we were at the question of how the conflict that
20 erupted on the 23rd of March, 1993, in the Konjic area was actually
22 A. On the 23rd, there was an attack by the BH Army on the HVO units
23 in the Konjic municipality. I called Mr. Pasalic in the evening of that
24 day to ask him what was going on in the Konjic municipality and why those
25 things were happening, and we wrote a joint order and sent it to Konjic
1 in order to put a stop to the conflict there. However, I decided -- and
2 I agreed with Mr. Stojic that the best thing to do would be to go to the
3 Konjic area, because we were concerned that the clash in Konjic might
4 affect the final round of talks in New York. And on the 25th, we
5 actually arrived in the municipality of Konjic. Pasalic was there, too.
6 So were two SDA members from Mostar. And there, on the spot, we talked
7 to their people in Konjic. Safet Cibo appeared there for the first time,
8 and he was the one who actually initiated the clashes. And we managed to
9 actually put a stop to the clashes on the 25th.
10 Q. Did clashes again erupt in the same area one month later in April
12 A. Well, less than a month. On the 13th of April -- well, I
13 wouldn't say that there was a clash that erupted. I would say that the
14 conflicts actually escalated, because between the 25th of March and the
15 13th of April, despite the presence of our emissaries there, they did not
16 manage to put a stop to the BH Army attacks everywhere. So between the
17 25th of March and the 13th, there was still fighting for some villages
18 where the Croats were forced to retreat because they were in the
19 minority, and on the 13th the signal came for them to liberate the
20 municipality of Konjic.
21 Q. General, could you please tell us, you, as the chief of the
22 Main Staff, did you issue an order to any operational zone or any HVO
23 unit to assist the HVO units in the Konjic area?
24 A. Yes, of course I did, because the thought that was foremost in my
25 mind was who would be in a position to assist, because the municipality
1 of Konjic and the HVO in that municipality was not adjacent to any HVO
2 units in the other municipalities, so between the municipality of Konjic
3 and the municipality of Prozor, there is a wide area controlled by the
4 BH Army. To the north, likewise, from Konjic to Kresevo and Kiseljak,
5 there is an area -- intermediate area where the HVO units were not
6 adjacent, that were not controlled by them, so my first thought was, Who
7 could do it? At first, I thought that it would be best to engage the
8 forces in Fojnica and in Kresevo and in Kiseljak from the north, to
9 launch any kind of "show of force" attack or any kind of "show of force"
10 military activity. That was on the 15th of April, 1993.
11 Q. If I understand you correctly, you issued an order to the
12 Operational Zone of Central Bosnia to assist Konjic. Could you please
13 answer, General. So did you issue an order to the Central Bosnia
14 Operational Zone?
15 A. Yes, that is correct, I did issue an order to the Central Bosnia
16 Operational Zone to use an element of its forces from Fojnica, Kresevo,
17 and Kiseljak to engage in any kind of operation they could in the Konjic
18 municipality. First, they were supposed to reinforce the sector there,
19 and then they were supposed to launch an operation.
20 Q. General, I would like to ask you to be as brief as you can in
21 your responses. If there's any need for us to go into any details, I'll
22 be asking you follow-up questions.
23 Tell us, please, General, did you issue an order to help Konjic
24 and the operative zone of Zeljko Siljeg and Miljenko Lasic?
25 A. No, I didn't issue any specific orders to them at the time
1 because Miljenko Lasic, himself, took certain steps, because Konjic was
2 in the South-East Herzegovina Operative Zone, and Zeljko Siljeg, only on
3 the 16th, that is to say, on the fourth day -- or, rather, four days
4 after the beginning of the conflict, arrived in Prozor and set about
5 organising a forward command post to assist Konjic, as the closest.
6 Q. Tell us, please, General, did you have information about combat
7 operations in the Konjic and Jablanica area in mid-April 1993?
8 A. Yes, we did, we did have information, and it was daily
10 Q. Can you tell us what the purpose was of armed engagement in HVO
11 units in the Jablanica area?
12 A. The purpose was to push back and repel the aggression or an
13 attack by the BH Army against two brigades, Herceg Stjepan -- two
14 Herceg Stjepan brigades in the Konjic municipality.
15 Q. And tell us what the purpose of combat -- HVO combat was in the
16 Jablanica area.
17 A. Well, Konjic and Jablanica represent a whole. You can't separate
18 the two, in military terms. The same goal, to lift the siege or, rather,
19 to help the HVO forces in Konjic municipality.
20 Q. General, a question directly related to the indictment now. The
21 Prosecution's case is that the HVO started combat operations in order to
22 take control of Jablanica. Can you tell us, to the best of your
23 knowledge, whether the HVO ever planned to take control of Jablanica, and
24 the combat activities, do they have anything at all to do with some idea
25 of taking control of Jablanica?
1 A. Your Honours, no, the HVO never planned to take control of
2 Jablanica, nor did the HVO have the forces and strength to do so.
3 Everything that the HVO did was in terms of assistance to HVO forces in
4 Konjic municipality which found themselves in a situation that they
5 couldn't deal with.
6 Q. Now, in view of the explanation you gave earlier on, when you say
7 "Konjic municipality," that you mean Jablanica municipality as well?
8 A. Well, Konjic and Jablanica municipality, you can't separate the
9 two, you can't say, This is Jablanica municipality and that's Konjic
10 municipality. You can't separate the two, in military terms, because an
11 HVO brigade on the Konjic-Jablanica territory, the BH Army, with three
12 brigades of the 4th Army [as interpreted], covered the Jablanica-Konjic
13 area, and you can't separate the two in any way, by any measures or
14 anything else. It is one area, and they are each dependent on the other.
15 Q. Now, I'm going to ask you to talk about the Jablanica-Konjic area
16 so that we don't have any problems a month to come, whether you're
17 talking about Konjic or Jablanica.
18 A. Everything that I say refers to Konjic and Jablanica as a whole,
19 as one entity.
20 Q. Now, General, look at the next document, which is to be found in
21 the next set of documents. It is 4D2025. So we're skipping five
22 documents -- or, rather, three documents, and we now come to a map which
23 was prepared on the basis of document 2D246, which is an order of the
24 44th Mountain Brigade of the BH Army, dated the 14th of April, 1993,
25 about combat engagement for certain units.
1 Now, tell us, please, General, who drew this map?
2 A. Your Honours, I did. I drew the map pursuant to an order from
3 the 44th Jablanica Brigade.
4 Q. Tell us, General, does this map show the situation in mid-April
6 A. This map shows the situation as of the 14th -- between the 14th
7 and 15th of April and further on, so the 14th, in the evening, and the
8 15th, in the morning. This map refers, first of all, to the night
9 between the 14th and 15th of April, 1993.
10 Q. Now, General, since we're interested in this map principally
11 because of the indictment as referring to Sovici and Doljani, could you
12 try and explain to us where in the Sovici and Doljani area, or just in
13 one of those places, were the units of the HVO?
14 And can we give the general something to indicate on the map, a
15 pen or pointer?
16 A. Could we zoom in, please?
17 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Yes. Let's zoom in to the central
18 part of the map, where the markings are, the coloured section in the
20 Q. Is that sufficient or can we zoom in some more?
21 A. As far as I'm concerned, it's sufficient, but I'm not sure that
22 others will be able to follow.
23 Q. Time is expiring quickly, so please tell us, General, where the
24 HVO units were.
25 A. The HVO units were located in the blue area. I don't know if you
1 can see it [marks]. It says "HVO," and this is around Doljani and a part
2 Sovici, in Doljani and part of Sovici. It was the Mijat Tomic HVO
4 Q. Can you explain to us the following: The HVO forces to the left
5 of that, and we can see that they're coming in here to an area close to
6 Sovici and Doljani, what's that, which of those?
7 A. These forces over here [marks], and this is what that was about:
8 On the evening of the 15th, and I'm talking about the 15th of April,
9 1993, the 44th Brigade of the BH Army in Jablanica placed the HVO in
10 Doljani under a complete siege, and the HVO forces were pulled out in the
11 area of Risovac, with the aim of preventing possible further expansion by
12 the BH Army towards Risovac or, rather, Blidinje Lake or Posusje.
13 Q. General, can you explain to us what happened on the 17th of
14 April, 1993, in the early-morning hours?
15 A. Let me just say that on the 16th, in the evening, the Command of
16 the Mijat Tomic Brigade talked to the Command of the 4th Battalion of the
17 BH Army. They discussed lifting the siege from the Sovici gates. They
18 refused to do that. And then in the morning, this left-hand arrow over
19 here [marks] indicates an attack launched at the HVO positions at
20 Risovac. And at that moment, the HVO responded by attacking the Sovici
21 gates. And I'll place the number 1 there, which is where the Sovici
22 gates are [marks]. And the fighting went on there, as far as I know, for
23 about three hours, along these axes to the left and right of the Sovici
25 The BH Army, I don't know for what reason, withdrew from the
1 Sovici gates to Sovici proper, and it found itself in a situation whereby
2 it didn't know what to do next. It did not organise a defence in Sovici,
3 itself, but at the Mijat Tomic Battalion's call to them to surrender, the
4 commander of the 4th Battalion decided to surrender his forces at Sovici,
5 so that there was no direct fighting between the HVO and the BH Army for
6 the town of Sovici, itself, because the BH Army, after its withdrawal
7 from the Sovici gates, did not succeed in organising a defence for the
8 town of Sovici. Some of the people fled to the nearby municipality of
9 Prozor, and the rest were not ready to organise a defence at that time,
10 and so they surrendered in the classical way. The BH Army surrendered
11 without any fighting for control of Sovici.
12 Q. Tell us, please, General, in a word, what happened to Doljani?
13 A. The HVO in Doljani refuted an attempt by the BH Army from the
14 Jablanica axis to attack, and the forces of the brigade from Jablanica
15 withdrew, they left the area. And part of the population fled with them,
16 or, rather, left the area with them, so that the forces from Jablanica
17 did nothing. And they were supposed to be reinforcement to the BH Army
18 in Sovici, so that now Sovici found itself in a situation in which they
19 had the HVO to their rear in Doljani, and the commander, Orlovic, decided
20 to surrender.
21 Q. Now, if we were to summarise, in the simplest terms, General,
22 could we do it this way: There was no fighting in Doljani because the
23 BH Army withdrew from Doljani, and in Sovici, itself, there was no
24 fighting, either, because the BH Army surrendered, and the fighting took
25 place around the Sovici gates, where the HVO units broke through the
1 lines held by the BH Army up until then. Would those be the three main
2 points in that summary, in the summary of the situation?
3 A. Yes, precisely.
4 Q. Tell us, please, General, with that, on the 17th of April, 1993,
5 did the conflicts and clashes in this Risovac area and the Sovici gates
6 area cease?
7 A. Yes, the fighting ceased on the 17th, as we like to say, in the
8 area of Sovici and Doljani with very small forces at three small points
9 up in the hills above Doljani and Sovici from where this group of people
10 tried to fire on Sovici and Doljani, but the fighting ended with the
11 surrender of the 4th Battalion sometime in the afternoon, in late
13 Q. Tell us, please, General, some HVO units, did they try to uncover
14 these BH Army groups that failed to surrender which were in the
15 surrounding hills somewhere? Is that what they tried to do?
16 A. Well, I don't know who made this decision to enter into this
17 undertaking, because it was a high altitude, 900 metres above sea level,
18 and it was a tremendous task and not an opportune one, so that HVO
19 soldiers were killed, in my view, needlessly.
20 Q. Tell us, please, General, in those operations was the commander
21 of the Convicts Battalion killed, Cikota?
22 A. Yes, Cikota was killed on the 20th, I think, around
23 Elevation 902, on the 20th of April, 1993.
24 Q. Tell us, please, General, on the basis of the information the
25 Main Staff had, up until that point in time in Sovici and Doljani, those
1 places, themselves, did any member of the HVO commit anything that could
2 be considered as --
3 JUDGE PRANDLER: Ms. Alaburic, you have been discussing the
4 question of Doljani and Sovici and the fighting around those villages,
5 and you may recall that a few days ago -- and also the death of
6 Convicts Battalion head Cikota was also mentioned, and we saw a document
7 over there in which it was also pointed out that that event happened
8 during a kind of cleansing or cleaning, "cistka," of Sovici, so I would
9 like to ask Mr. Petkovic if he would tell us what kind of actions took
10 place, I mean armed actions, in Sovici, and why the reference to
11 cleaning, cleansing, "cistka ," was mentioned in that part of the
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Judge Trechsel Your Honour -- I
14 apologise, not Trechsel, Prandler. In Sovici, there was no fighting to
15 take control of the place of Sovici, itself. Now, whether there was
16 sporadic fire by a group of individuals, I really don't know. But
17 Sovici, as such, were handed over without a battle. They surrendered
18 without a battle.
19 Secondly, when you say "cistka," c-i-s-t-k-a, two or three points
20 which -- at positions in the mountains above Doljani and Sovici, I think
21 they were Feature 902, I think that was Elevation 902, there were two or
22 three members of the army there, BH Army, and as far as I remember now a
23 place called Pisvir, also two or three or five BH Army members. And from
24 those elevations, they opened fire on Sovici and Doljani. Mostly
25 Doljani, rather than Sovici.
1 Now, I don't know who made this mad decision to send a group of
2 several HVO members to, as we call it, cleanse Pisvir and Feature 902,
3 because it belonged to the Doljani area, so there was no cleansing in
4 Doljani. And in the terminology of the JNA, in JNA terms, "ciscenje,"
5 "cleansing," means finding stragglers and groups of enemy soldiers, and
6 nothing more than that. That's what JNA terminology ascribes to the term
7 "ciscenje," "cleansing." So they were killed on those elevations above
8 Sovici and Doljani, and looking at the map, I think the position was
9 closer to Doljani than Sovici. But Cikota wasn't killed in the -- in
10 Doljani, proper, but at a distance of 700 or 900 metres, at an elevation
11 of 700 to 900 metres above Doljani.
12 JUDGE PRANDLER: Thank you very much, Mr. Petkovic. Actually, I
13 used the Russian equivalent "cistka" for "ciscenje," but, of course, you
14 understood this as well. So thank you for your answer.
15 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, if I may remind you,
16 in this context, that in our expert report, the report of
17 Mr. Milan Gorjanc, one chapter is about this very topic, and we have
18 pointed out that the translation of this term as "cleansing" is wrong,
19 because it should be properly called "mop-up operations," because
20 "cleansing" is associative of ethnic cleansing, but which has nothing to
21 do with what really happened. Mop-up operations are normal in any army.
22 Q. General, until the moment Cikota was killed, and according to the
23 information that arrived at the Main Staff, did any HVO soldier do
24 anything irregular, undesired, or illegal in the area of Sovici and
1 A. No, Your Honours. Everything that I read that referred to the
2 19th, 20th, and 21st was to the effect that anything of that kind took
4 Q. Tell us about after Cikota's death.
5 A. After Cikota's death, a group of members of the
6 Convicts Battalion and a group of civilians that didn't belong anywhere
7 returned to Doljani after the funeral, that is, to Sovici and Doljani,
8 and started burning some Muslim houses as vengeance. But I must say that
9 the Convicts Battalion, on the 20th, officially withdrew from the
10 front-line, and nobody counted on it anymore in case there should be
11 additional fighting.
12 Q. Tell us, General, did you request information about that from the
13 HVO Brigade Herceg Stjepan?
14 A. Yes. Let me explain to the Trial Chamber.
15 Q. But be brief.
16 A. Yes, I did, on behalf of Mr. Boban. There is a document which we
17 have already seen here. He wanted accurate information as to what had
19 Q. Did you receive such information from the Herceg Stjepan Brigade
20 as to what had happened at Sovici and Doljani?
21 A. Yes, we received such information from the Herceg Stjepan
22 Brigade, which was in charge of the Konjic municipality, and from the
23 Mijat Tomic unit, which was also active in the areas of Sovici and
25 Q. Did you forward that information to the commander-in-chief,
1 Mate Boban?
2 A. Yes, he demanded that information. And that information, as well
3 as the information I had prepared for Central Bosnia, I gave to him when
4 I went to see him.
5 Q. Did you speak to the supreme commander about the measures to take
6 against these individuals from the Convicts Battalion who had taken part
7 in the burning of the houses?
8 A. Yes, we discussed measures because we were preparing for a
9 meeting in Zagreb and that was a topic that we had to discuss, so we
10 spoke about measures. And the report that we received pointed out two
11 names. One of them was Naletilic, and the other -- what's his name
12 again, his assistant in the battalion?
13 Q. Ivan Andabak?
14 A. Yes, Ivan Andabak.
15 Q. Tell us, General, did Mate Boban say that he would establish the
16 possible responsibility of some individuals and take care of the
17 situation, or did you have any related task?
18 MR. SCOTT: Excuse me, Your Honour, before the witness answers,
19 I've been letting it go all day, but I'm going to object to leading at
20 this point. The witness should be allowed to speak for himself on his
21 own memory.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, you're absolutely right,
23 Mr. Scott. I was a bit shocked myself. You know, instead of saying
24 this, you should have said, What did Boban do? Here, you were prompting
25 the answer.
1 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, it was not my
2 intention to ask the witness what Mr. Boban did. I wanted to ask him
3 about his conversation with Boban, because if they spoke about the
4 establishment of responsibility, what was agreed, whether Mate Boban
5 would do anything about it or possibly General Petkovic. My question
6 contained several options, so, by definition, is not leading. A third
7 option in General Petkovic's answer is also possible.
8 JUDGE TRECHSEL: This was clearly a leading question,
9 Ms. Alaburic, and I'm afraid you have to accept this. No one's perfect.
10 Try to ask what Boban said.
11 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] All right, Your Honours, although
12 it is very difficult for me to accept that my question was leading.
13 Q. Well, General, tell us, did you speak with Mate Boban about
14 establishing the individual responsibility of anybody from the
15 Convicts Battalion who took part in burning houses?
16 A. Yes. The names from the report were presented to Mate Boban, the
17 names, and it was clear that two individuals were responsible for that
18 behaviour, and the third one, although indirectly, the battalion
19 commander at Doljani, Mr. Stipe Bolo, anyway, confessed that he was also
20 co-responsible, but he couldn't do anything about it.
21 Q. Would the possible proceedings against Mladen Naletilic and
22 Ivan Andabak be within your authority?
23 A. No. We went to Zagreb with this information and this knowledge,
24 to the meeting that I mentioned.
25 Q. General, do you have any knowledge about Mate Boban initiating
1 proceedings to establish the responsibility of members of the
2 Convicts Battalion for the burning of houses in the Sovici and Doljani
4 A. Nothing concrete. I only know that Mr. Boban, at the meeting in
5 Zagreb, committed himself to do something about it and probe into the
6 matter in the days to come, the following days.
7 Q. All right, General. Let me now ask you about some events from
8 April up until the end of 1993.
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] General Petkovic, the question
10 of Sovici and Doljani, as you know, is at the core of things, among
11 others. Now, according to what you're saying, and I heard you very
12 carefully - you know, as soon as you talk, I am listening - this is how I
13 understood the military situation: In Doljani, the HVO carried out an
14 action, and you showed that on the map. The BH Army soldiers did not
15 fight and just withdraw, and they leave for Sovici, they withdraw to
16 Sovici. The HVO continues fighting, and you say that the soldiers
17 surrendered, and you said that they surrendered without fighting.
18 While you were saying this, I noted a contradiction with the
19 death of Cikota. Cikota died. It's probably because there was at least
20 an exchange of fire. So why did you say that they surrendered without
21 fighting, when Cikota was actually killed? Can you shed some light on
22 this, because there's something that I probably misunderstood or didn't
23 understand at all.
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, you may have
25 misunderstood me, or possibly you haven't understood all I said.
1 There was fighting at the Sovici gate and at positions to the
2 left and to the right of the Sovici gate, which is some two or three
3 kilometres away from the village of Sovici. That's where the defence
4 line of the ABiH was. You weren't there. If the Sovici gate is taken,
5 it's like going from the fifth floor to the basement, Sovici and Doljani
6 are in the basement. And the fighting at Sovici gate lasted for three
7 hours, at least. Once the Sovici gate had fallen, the 4th Battalion of
8 the ABiH was lost. They were only able to raise some 80 people or so who
9 surrendered. Everybody else fled in all directions. And when the HVO
10 descended to Sovici and Doljani, the ABiH didn't put up any resistance.
11 They had accepted the order to surrender. So there was fighting on the
12 route towards Sovici, and when that defence fell, that was the fall of
13 Sovici too.
14 And Cikota, on the 20th - I don't know on whose orders - went to
15 take out two or three enemy firing positions in the hills around that
16 village, and that's where he was killed.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Your answer is very
18 straightforward. I understood you very well. I have another question.
19 The military operation on Doljani and Sovici, well, could you
20 tell us under whose command this operation was, whose it was? Who was in
21 charge of this military operation?
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Doljani and Sovici were under the
23 command of the commander of the Zone of Operations of South-East
24 Herzegovina, Mr. Lasic.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Fine. And you learn that some
1 houses were torched, civilian houses, so you know that there's a problem,
2 especially if those houses were not torched because of combat, but for
3 another reason. Wasn't it up to Mr. Lasic to live up to this
4 responsibility? Wasn't he first in line there?
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, as far as I know,
6 Mr. Lasic, too, was at Mr. Cikota's funeral on that day, and after the
7 funeral he went to his command post. He didn't know what happened after
8 his arrival. It wasn't the whole Convicts Battalion who went up there,
9 only a group of people and a group of civilians.
10 After the funeral, Lasic returned to his zone of operations, so
11 that he learned about the event in the early-evening hours, after having
12 received reports from Sovici and Doljani.
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] If I understood you correctly,
14 this is your version of the facts, and this is under oath, you say that
15 what happened after Mr. Cikota's funeral was done by part of the
16 Convicts Battalion, not the entire Convicts Battalion, but some of them,
17 with some civilians who at the time were not identified. Then you talk
18 to Mr. Boban about this, and he tells you, Well, we'll carry out an
19 investigation, but he's not giving you any instructions -- specific
20 instructions on this, so it's quite blurry.
21 Now, you were in Geneva a couple of times. You were in contact
22 with Halilovic, Izetbegovic, all these senior representatives, and maybe
23 -- it's just an assumption, you know, I'm not in your head, of course
24 not, but maybe you saw what the consequences could be if the foreign
25 media found out about that. You know, you know what happened at Ahmici,
1 and maybe you thought that there could be consequences to this. So did
2 you envisage all the diplomatic consequences of such acts?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, clearly that was
4 being taken into consideration, absolutely, how this would reverberate,
5 and of course it didn't suit the HVO at all, the more so since the
6 fighting had been over. Because of the death of one man, no such thing
7 should have been committed.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] My final question. I would
9 like to know whether it wouldn't have been possible to arrest a few
10 members of the Convicts Battalion, to arrest also a number of civilians,
11 hand them over to either the military prosecutor or the civilian
12 prosecutor to make sure that there would be prosecution in such cases.
13 Wasn't it a possibility just to arrest a few people in order to reassure
14 the victims, the international community, and to prove your good faith,
15 to prove that you, in true good faith, wanted to fight against crime?
16 Why wasn't anybody arrested?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, on the day when we
18 received the report, the 23rd, we spoke about all that. The two persons
19 to whom this referred most were Mr. Naletilic and Mr. Andabak. With this
20 information, we left for Zagreb on the 24th, to that famous meeting that
21 took place on the 24th and the 25th, and we spoke to Mr. Izetbegovic
22 about everything that had taken place there; not only in Sovici and
23 Doljani, but also Central Bosnia. There was a discussion about that for
24 the entire evening, and the conclusion was that both sides would start
25 clearing up these things. And it was signed, and by signing, the sides
1 committed themselves to that.
2 Once we returned from Zagreb, we held a meeting on the 29th or
3 28th - I'm not sure now - and at a meeting of the leading political
4 figures of Herceg-Bosna a briefing was held about what had been agreed in
5 Zagreb, and one item said that a commission would be appointed which,
6 independently from anybody, would investigate the matter and take some
7 measures, and that's what happened. I wasn't at the meeting of the 29th
8 because I was in Zenica with Halilovic, or in Central Bosnia. But once I
9 returned, I saw the conclusions from that meeting.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] It is interesting, what you're
11 saying right now. You've said that in Zagreb, all of this was touched
12 upon, and everyone agreed, including Mr. Izetbegovic, for a commission to
13 look into those "crimes," quote/unquote, and all parties would shed light
14 on what happened, and you did not personally follow that up because you
15 were in Zenica on the 29th.
16 Now, let's talk about the commission. What were its conclusions?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The commission, which was put into
18 place on the 24th of September [as interpreted], was supposed to take all
19 investigative steps in Herzegovina and Central Bosnia on the part of the
20 Croatian Defence Council, that is, without waiting for the work of a
21 joint commission, or there was talk in Zagreb for a mixed commission with
22 the international community should undertake to resolve the problem.
23 However, the proposal fell through. Nobody counted on it. So it
24 remained for everybody to resolve the problem and deal with it at their
25 own level. And the investigations for certain areas, on the part of the
1 HVO, were put in place. They were unleashed, and they went on until
2 about June, the 10th of June or 12th of June, when, in Central Bosnia,
3 Travnik happened, with everything that that entailed. And then
4 everything slowed down and came to a standstill. But we have documents
5 about how this developed for Central Bosnia, but we don't have anything
6 on how it developed in Northern Herzegovina or, rather, Sovici and
8 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, a correction to the
9 transcript. On this page, line 5, the date was the 24th of September
10 recorded there, but the witness was talking about the 29th of April, the
11 29th of April, and the meeting that took place, 1993, to avoid any
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you.
14 I didn't look at the clock. We need to have our second break.
15 We'll have a 20-minute break, and we will resume after that.
16 --- Recess taken at 5.48 p.m.
17 --- On resuming at 6.09 p.m.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The court is back in session.
19 First of all, an administrative announcement. The Registry
20 announced that the hearing that was planned on the 16th of March, it
21 would be a morning hearing, will be cancelled because there are more
22 trials than there are courtrooms, and so we have to actually have less
23 days per week per trial. So Tuesday, the 16th of March, there won't be
24 any hearing for this trial. So I wanted to announce that to you.
25 Secondly, I understood that General Petkovic's Defence wanted to
1 know when I would ask my questions. I am planning to do exactly what I
2 did when General Praljak took the stand; namely, that I will ask my
3 questions at the end of the examination-in-chief. I have planned two
4 days for that. The first day, as already mentioned, will be devoted to
5 questions based on documents from the Prosecution, and I will mainly base
6 my questions on the pre-trial brief from the Prosecution. And as for
7 General Petkovic, I will go through the indictment especially dealing
8 with the JCE, and then I will show two videos. The first one is dealing
9 with the attack against the Vranica building, in order to get the
10 observations from -- or the comments from the general, and the second one
11 will be a video of the destruction of the bridge in Mostar, because I
12 will have very technical questions to ask to General Petkovic based upon
13 this video. Then I will go through about 100 documents coming from the
14 Prosecution. Most of those documents start with the letter P. Those
15 documents will be showed to you in chronological order. I will start
16 with a document dated 1992, and then I will go closer to today. For the
17 second day, it will be exactly the same. There will be documents based
18 on the submissions from the General Petkovic Defence. There's about 80
19 or 90 documents, 90, that is, and I will also present those documents in
20 chronological order. So we will scan through 1992, 1993, and 1994, and
21 this should take about two days. So this is what I can say at this
23 Also, as early as tomorrow, I will send to all the parties,
24 namely the Prosecutor as well as the General Petkovic Defence, I will
25 send, as I was saying, the list of all documents, so you will have the
1 various numbers for the first day and for the second day. That way, you
2 will know exactly which documents I will base my questions on. Those
3 documents have already been looked into and have already been the subject
4 of discussions, but I may look at them from a different point of view.
5 So this is what I wanted to say, and I believe this will be
6 useful for all.
7 I also should like to point out, since we are in this
8 administrative part, on Thursday we will finish at 6.00 p.m.
9 Very well.
10 Ms. Alaburic.
11 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours.
12 Q. General, Judge Antonetti asked you a question, recorded on
13 page 71, about whether you took into consideration the diplomatic
14 circumstances linked to the crimes in Ahmici and Sovici, and you readily
15 answered and said that you did take into account the diplomatic
16 activities. Now, since I have to recognise that I didn't understand
17 either the question or the answer, does that mean that there was the
18 desire to cover up something for somebody's interests or whether what was
19 wanted was to conduct an investigation into the crime? So could you
20 please explain your answer. What diplomatic interests, and in what sense
21 were they taken into account, in care of, or whatever?
22 A. Your Honours, two or three days later we had a meeting with the
23 top representatives of the community for the former Yugoslavia, and the
24 whole problem was presented to them, that is to say, the events in
25 Central Bosnia and Herzegovina. Lord Owen, as far as I can remember, had
1 ten of his people at the meeting, attending the meeting, too, and both
2 sides frankly presented certain matters and issues, so nobody kept
3 anything back. So that's what I meant when I said "diplomatic." We
4 didn't ask for ambassadors or anything like that.
5 Q. So it wasn't a matter of wanting to cover up any crimes or keep
6 something back?
7 A. No. And the meeting went on for quite a long time, and everybody
8 was included.
9 I'd just like to say that - and perhaps you can find this in the
10 transcripts - Lord Owen said at one point, Take care that none of this
11 should be counterproductive, thinking of the promises made by both sides
12 that they would punish perpetrators and so on. So I remember him saying
13 that. And perhaps you can find it somewhere in the transcripts of those
14 meetings. So, no, nothing was kept hidden.
15 Q. Tell us, General, when you mentioned the commission and the
16 meeting of the 29th of April [realtime transcript read in error
17 "January"], 1993 -- yes, the 29th of April, 1993, is the date. I'd like
18 to correct the date. The 29th of April, 1993. Yes, that's right. What
19 meeting was it that was held on that day?
20 A. Well, Mr. Mate Boban, Your Honours, convened a meeting of all the
21 relevant political factors in Herceg-Bosna, including the representatives
22 of the Croats in the legal organs of authority of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and
23 the meeting discussed the Zagreb meeting, which had adopted -- or,
24 rather, the conclusions of the Zagreb meeting had been adopted. And then
25 with respect to the item on conducting an investigation, it was agreed
1 that a commission would be established which, on the HVO side, would
2 conduct all the investigations for the situations that happened until
3 that time, whether there are five or six, in the conclusions.
4 Q. Tell us again, General, where were you on that day?
5 A. On the 28th, I left with Mr. Thebault and Mr. Halilovic to
6 Jablanica and Konjic and then to Zenica. On the 29th, I was in Zenica,
7 and I was in Zenica on the 30th as well, of April, that is, of 1993.
8 Q. Let's now summarise this topic of Sovici and Doljani. During the
9 combat, itself, General, in the Sovici and Doljani area, to the best of
10 your knowledge --
11 MR. SCOTT: Excuse me, Your Honour. I'm going to object to this
12 procedure. I think it's, again, a form of leading. There's really no
13 reason for a summary. The Chamber's heard the evidence. It's not
14 necessary for Ms. Alaburic to come back and put her spin on it, her
15 summary. The Chamber has the witness's evidence. That's all that's
16 necessary. I would object to this procedure. Formally, I object that
17 it's a form of leading.
18 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I'm going to ask
19 questions, but I consider that I do have the right to use the time for
20 our defence by devoting it to one topic, and if I need to clarify it,
21 I can do for as long as I deem necessary. And I'm doing that because
22 Judge Antonetti said that things were not quite clear to him and that he
23 cannot link up what happened when, and the interrelationships, and so on.
24 So instead of asking in redirect, I have to ask follow-up questions
25 following on from the questions put by Their Honours, and I think it will
1 be more efficacious for the Judges for us to clear it up straight away
2 and not wait for the redirect.
3 Q. So my question to you, General, is this --
4 MR. SCOTT: I'm sorry, Your Honours, that doesn't answer
5 anything. The question of time and the question of what's more
6 efficacious has nothing to do with the Rules of Procedure, the Rules of
7 Evidence. If she thinks that clarification is necessary, she can ask
8 non-leading questions, the general can give answers to non-leading
9 questions, and we can proceed that way. That's the proper way to
10 proceed, not by leading questions. And I continue to object.
11 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I haven't asked the
12 question yet, so I would like to ask Mr. Scott to be patient enough to
13 hear my question out first, and if it's leading, I'll be happy to
14 apologise and revise it.
15 Q. General, during the combat operations of the 17th of April, 1993,
16 in the area of Sovici and Doljani, were any houses set fire to, or, to
17 the best of your knowledge, were there any unlawful acts committed by the
18 HVO members?
19 A. Your Honours, no, there were no acts which would be considered
21 Q. To the best of your knowledge, General, when, in the area around
22 Sovici and Doljani, were houses burnt, the houses of some Muslims?
23 A. According to my information, that happened on the 21st, in the
24 late afternoon hours, the 21st of April, 1993.
25 MR. SCOTT: Excuse me, Your Honour. Could we get some foundation
1 for this as well? What's the basis for this information? We know that
2 Mr. Petkovic wasn't in the area, apparently, according to his testimony,
3 so what's the basis of the views that he's expressing now? Perhaps
4 counsel can assist us by asking questions, laying a foundation for this
6 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I'm asking all these
7 questions based on adjudicated facts adopted by this Trial Chamber at the
8 proposal of the Prosecution.
9 MR. SCOTT: That's not my question -- that's not my objection,
10 Your Honour. I don't really care what the basis of her questions are.
11 I'm concerned about the basis for the witness's testimony. On what basis
12 does this witness express a view? He wasn't there. We've talked about
13 investigations. We don't know if there were any results of the
14 investigation. He should tell us more. Did he receive a report, did he
15 receive information, was there an investigation? Otherwise, this is
16 sheer speculation, with no basis in the record for it.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Ms. Alaburic, in order to avoid
18 problems, please do like I do; namely, ask a general question so that
19 eventually you reach your objective. You could perhaps ask him what
20 happened on the 21st of April, Do you know of anything that happened? He
21 could say, I do know, or, I don't know. If he says, Yes, I do know about
22 something, then you could ask, What do you know? And therefore the
23 Prosecution will not stand up.
24 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I have to acknowledge
25 that I'm really surprised, because for an hour already we've been
1 discussing the fact that General Petkovic, on the basis of a request from
2 Mate Boban, sent a question to the Herceg Stjepan Brigade about events on
3 the ground. The general told us that from the Herceg Stjepan Brigade, he
4 received information about the events on the ground to the effect that
5 after the funeral of Commander Cikota, houses belonging to some Muslims
6 were burnt in Sovici and Doljani, and that it was some of the members of
7 the Convicts Battalion and civilians took part in this. And the witness
8 told us that it was on that basis that he prepared a piece of information
9 for Mate Boban about that. The witness next told us about his talks with
10 Mate Boban on the issue. The witness also said that this was discussed
11 at a meeting in Zagreb on the 24th and 25th of April, and that the
12 meeting was attended by the presiding office for the former Yugoslavia.
13 The witness next told us that this was also discussed at a meeting in
14 Citluk on the 29th of April, 1993, and that because of all these events,
15 it was decided that a commission be established to investigate war
16 crimes. So I'd just like to advise you to read the transcript from
17 today's session, and it will be quite clear as to what the witness was
18 talking about and what he said.
19 And I wish to round off the topic exclusively, because
20 Judge Antonetti said some things remained unclear to him, so it's my
21 intention now quite simply to repeat that part of the testimony.
22 Otherwise, I think that we have clarified all the points. With the
23 previous witness, we put documents to him about all that, so I can't put
24 all the documents to every single witness. I don't have time to do that.
25 Q. So my question to you, General, is as follows: According to your
1 information, the members of which HVO unit took part in the burning of
2 houses belonging to some Muslims in Doljani and Sovici?
3 A. Some members of the Convicts Battalion.
4 Q. Tell us, please, General, the Convicts Battalion, was it in the
5 command sense and in the operational sense, subordinated to the
6 Main Staff of the HVO?
7 A. No, it wasn't subordinated to the Main Staff of the HVO.
8 Q. General, on assumption that civilians took part in the burning of
9 these houses, too, I would like to ask you the following: Did the
10 Main Staff of the HVO -- was it in charge of prosecuting civilians if
11 they engaged in unlawful acts?
12 A. No, it was not the Main Staff that was in charge of prosecuting
14 Q. General, let's see how the combat operations ensued. Can you
15 tell us whether anything important happened with the town of Kakanj in
16 June 1993?
17 A. In June 1993, the BH Army placed the town of Kakanj exclusively
18 under its control. It disarmed part of the HVO and expelled another part
19 of it, including 12.000 -- approximately 12.000 Croats.
20 Q. Tell us, please, whether the BH Army took control of Travnik.
21 A. Yes, the BH Army did take control of Travnik, and that was after
22 the 8th of June -- between the 8th of June and the 12th of June, 1993.
23 Q. Tell us, please, when did the BH Army take control of the area
24 north of East Mostar or, rather, the Vrapcici-Bijelo Polje area and the
25 other areas towards Jablanica?
1 A. That part of Bosnia-Herzegovina was taken control of on the 30th
2 of June, 1993, by the BH Army.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] General Petkovic, I've listened
4 to the question and the answer regarding Kakanj. You said that 12.000
5 Croats were expelled. This is the actual number that struck me. It
6 seems to be quite a high number.
7 The ABiH has launched a military action which will then be
8 extended to Travnik. Given what is happening, at your level have you
9 decided to inform the international community, because all this has
10 consequences on what is happening in Geneva and on the various plans? As
11 far as you are concerned, are you whistle-blowing, so to say, because
12 this leads to flows of refugees, because 12.000 people, this is quite a
13 huge amount of people on the road? What are you doing, faced with this
14 situation? Are you just looking on, or are you acting on this by
15 contacting Thebault, Morillon, Halilovic, and so on and so forth? What
16 had you decided to do at the time?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour Judge Antonetti, first
18 of all, in Travnik, on the 9th of June, I asked for a meeting with
19 Sefer Halilovic anywhere, either in Sarajevo or in Kiseljak or in Zenica,
20 and on the 9th of June, 1993, I arrived in Kiseljak because I had been
21 informed that the meeting would take place in Kiseljak. Also coming to
22 the meeting was Colonel Siber. I asked him, Why him? And he said, Well,
23 don't you know what's happening in Sarajevo? And I said, No, I don't.
24 Then I asked him, I said, Do you have the authority to sign a document
25 with me? And Colonel Siber said, I don't know what my fate will be to
1 the end of the day. Or, rather, on that day there was an exchange or
2 rotation whereby Rasim Delic came to take over from Sefer Halilovic, so
3 that neither of them arrived on that occasion. I prepared to return, but
4 General Morillon asked me to stay on, and said that he would go to
5 Sarajevo and convince Mr. Izetbegovic and Delic to come to the meeting.
6 And that's what happened.
7 The next day, Rasim Delic arrived, and that was his first meeting
8 since he had become the new man to head the Main Staff of the BH Army.
9 And on the 10th, Mr. Thebault was there, representing the
10 observer mission, and there was also Brigadier -- I can't remember his
11 name, but he was from UNPROFOR. And General Morillon remained in
12 Sarajevo. And then Delic and I signed an agreement, and, among other
13 things, we agreed that the joint command, six of them, should travel to
14 Travnik and to try and stop further fighting in Travnik. However, the
15 fighting could not be stopped at that point because two HVO brigades had
16 been completely routed, and the inhabitants of Travnik -- and please
17 don't hold me to the number, you can check it out, but in my view there
18 were about 15.000 to 20.000 people who found themselves in the area
19 between Travnik, Novi Travnik, and Vitez. They stretched across that
20 area. But a portion of them across Mount Vlasic fled. They were
21 expelled to the territory of Republika Srpska. I think it was about 1500
22 of them, civilians; and about 650 soldiers.
23 So that was the situation in April [as interpreted]. And linked
24 to that, Mr. Boban sent a letter to Lord Owen and informed him that he
25 would refuse to come to the Geneva negotiations because things like that
1 were happening. And you know that there were negotiations in Geneva, and
2 you saw the document which Mr. Izetbegovic, on the 15th of June, sent to
3 me from Geneva. So that Boban had correspondence with Lord Owen, he
4 informed him of the situation that was taking place in the Travnik area.
5 Not long afterwards, suddenly Kakanj occurred. Just three or
6 four days after Travnik, you had Kakanj. Once again, about 12.000 Croats
7 had to leave the area, and that was what the situation was. In my view,
8 it no longer gave any certain hope of stopping these events through
9 negotiations, the events between -- that were happening between the
10 BH Army and the HVO.
11 And let me just add this: Mr. Boban put it to Lord Owen that
12 Mr. Izetbegovic had waited for the Serb side to refuse to sign the
13 Vance-Owen Plan, and as soon as the Serbs refused, one or two days later
14 the BH Army launched its operation against Travnik. So there was no more
15 Vance-Owen Plan, and now, in the interim, before a new plan got underway,
16 they took advantage to take control of new territory and make it appear
17 as them saying, There's nobody else and we're there.
18 And the BH Army attacked the HVO in Travnik. We were the weaker
19 side there, because the BH Army had a large number of brigades, and we
20 weren't able to defend ourselves in a built-up area. We were taken by
21 complete surprise. We simply didn't expect anything like that to happen.
22 And to be quite frank, we didn't have the strength to resist in a town --
23 to defend ourselves in a town with a mixed population.
24 MR. SCOTT: Excuse me, Your Honour, for interrupting. But
25 I think before it leaves the screen, or it's about to, there was a
1 reference on page 84, line 7, to April, and I assume Mr. Petkovic is
2 referring to June, but, in any event, not April. Perhaps if that could
3 be corrected.
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, thank you. You are right,
5 it's about June 1993.
6 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. Scott, for your
8 Q. General, let's see what happened later in various territories.
9 Did anything happen in July with one of the two Croatian enclaves in
11 A. Yes, Your Honours. The enclave in the area of Klis, that's the
12 Neretvica Valley. We've heard about Klis, on the 10th of July,
13 disappeared for good, and along with it 1.000 to 2.000 Croats and about
14 350 soldiers of the HVO. In the Konjic municipality, what remained is a
15 small enclave, and three smallest villages of Konjic municipality,
16 Turije, Zabrdje, and Zaslivlje, that's that famous pocket outside Konjic.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Petkovic, I'm listening to
18 your version of the facts and how, according to you, they unfolded;
19 Travnik, Kakanj, Klis. And one can imagine what is happening,
20 militarily-wise. And while listening to the description you're giving
21 us, I'm wondering the following: In General Praljak's maps, we saw that
22 the HVO and the BH Army had a joint front-line facing the Serbs. Maybe
23 we can take a look at that map again, but I'm sure you know exactly which
24 map I'm talking about. Now, given the actions undertaken by the BH Army,
25 why is it that the HVO, who was on the front-line, didn't decide to
1 withdraw to reinforce Croat positions that were under jeopardy? Why
2 didn't you just withdraw from the front-line, leaving the Serbs facing
3 the BH Army, in order to position yourself so you could reinforce your
4 lines and so you could withstand the offensive carried out by the
5 BH Army? Why didn't you decide on that line of conduct?
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, let me tell you the
7 way -- how the BH Army took Travnik. They first attacked those HVO units
8 that were -- had positions against the VRS, and thus they took positions
9 against the VRS and the HVO was pushed back. In such a situation, the
10 HVO has nobody but the BiH Army surrounding them. So at Travnik, the HVO
11 lost contact with the VRS, and that was the intention of the BH Army.
12 The first attack was along the front-line, take the positions against the
13 VRS, and push back the HVO to make impossible any contact with the VRS,
14 and that's what happened. Some soldiers and civilians were able to reach
15 Vlasic, but then the area was sealed off. There, the HVO no longer had
16 contact with the VRS. Now there was only the BiH Army that had contact
17 with the VRS, and we were pushed back to parts of the Novi Travnik
18 municipality and the municipalities of Vitez and Busovaca.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You're giving me an answer for
20 Travnik, but what about the other areas where the BH Army and the HVO
21 were side by side?
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, at that moment the
23 BiH Army no longer sees a common enemy. It is focused only on the
24 Croats. At Kakanj, we had lost contact with the VRS, so it was an easy
25 job for the army -- the BiH Army, because there was 700 HVO soldiers. We
1 had neglected that brigade because it was very deep in that territory,
2 and it didn't require special equipment. And they took Kakanj easily in
3 three days.
4 In early July, they took Fojnica, and until the 10th of July, the
5 municipality of Konjic. And we were left in that small pocket of Konjic
6 with some 300 soldiers, and we stayed there until the end of the war.
7 Not even Silajdzic was able to buy us with 5.000 [as interpreted] marks
8 and persuade us to leave the area. That was how the BH Army went about
9 it. They didn't want us to have contact with anybody.
10 So that's how we fared in Central Bosnia. But we weren't strong
11 enough to manoeuvre from one direction to another, because as soon as we
12 would start any movement, we would be faced with BiH Army units that
13 would prevent us from doing so. So we can't move from one area to
14 another, and we cannot go from Herzegovina to Central Bosnia. We don't
15 have enough forces to take 40 kilometres of area all the way to
16 Novi Travnik, nor could we go as far as Konjic.
17 The 40.000 soldiers of the HVO cannot take up the BiH Army, the
18 more so as we had 20.000 in one place. 7.000 were in Posavina. They had
19 nothing to do with all that. And then there were some -- a few thousand
20 soldiers in Zepce, Tuzla, and elsewhere. So we didn't even have 40.000
21 soldiers, but maybe 20.000, 22.000, and we couldn't do anything, because
22 over 50 per cent of our men were holding the lines. So we didn't have a
23 manoeuvring capability.
24 And that was the basis of the assessment of the BH Army, and they
25 had an easy job in Central Bosnia, except for Vitez and Busovaca, where
1 they made a mistake, so they didn't -- because they didn't leave a
2 corridor. If they had left a small corridor, I don't think anybody would
3 have been able to stay there easily as soon as the first civilian had
4 left, but they made a complete circle, they encircled our forces, and in
5 that circle resistance was offered until the end.
6 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] A correction. On page 85, line
7 23, the transcript shows that the general was speaking about three small
8 enclaves in the Konjic area, but he was speaking about one enclave with
9 three small villages. The names of these villages were recorded
11 Q. General, you mentioned Fojnica.
12 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Another correction to the transcript. It's
13 really an offensive mistake. On page 87, line 17, Silajdzic -- "not even
14 Silajdzic was able to buy us with 5.000 marks," that's offensive, because
15 that's really a ridiculous sum. I think you spoke about 500.000 marks.
16 Is that not what you said?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, that is correct. The
18 document reads that we were offered 500.000 marks.
19 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
20 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Judge Trechsel. I
21 didn't care about the figure, because nothing was bought eventually.
22 Q. General, you mentioned Fojnica. When did the ABiH take Fojnica?
23 A. The ABiH took complete control over Fojnica until mid-July 1993.
24 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Excuse me. Ms. Alaburic, we had started off in
25 Sovici-Doljani, and I feel that you are getting further and further away
1 from it. Do you plan to come back to that area? If not, I would have
2 another question. But if you plan to come back, I can wait.
3 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, my intentions differ
4 greatly from the reality in this courtroom. I only wanted to show you,
5 by tackling this topic, what kind of combat activity there was and how
6 the territory controlled by the ABiH spread. Triggered by your
7 questions, and it is you who matters -- who mattered the most here, we
8 dealt with the topic of Sovici and Doljani and the responsibility for
9 that, in a very intensive manner. But if you look at my list of topics
10 at the beginning of my first binder, my next topic is Sovici and Doljani,
11 so you will have the opportunity to ask any questions then. Now, I would
12 like to finish dealing with the territories controlled by the ABiH.
13 JUDGE TRECHSEL: For the record, I was in no way criticising you.
14 Sometimes I have been, but this time, certainly not.
15 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. We are
16 attentive to your criticism; you can be sure of that.
17 Q. General, when did the ABiH take Bugojno?
18 A. Definitively on the 2nd of August, 1993. That's when the last
19 HVO soldier left Bugojno, and the civilians who were sent off either --
20 over Serb-controlled territory or via Vakuf and Prozor.
21 Q. When did the ABiH take Vares?
22 A. In early November 1993.
23 Q. General, please take a look, in this set of documents, 4D567.
24 4D567, this is the north of Herzegovina and Central Bosnia. It's the
25 situation in November 1993. We can see the towns conquered by the ABiH,
1 and the numbers next to these towns shows the number of Croats expelled
2 from these areas.
3 Tell us, General, do you know this map?
4 A. Yes, Your Honours, I know it, only I have a correction. This
5 isn't about towns, but about entire municipalities.
6 Q. Thank you, General. Let's take a look at the area around Mostar.
7 The first document is 4D1216.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] General Petkovic, I don't think
9 this map has been admitted, unless I'm mistaken. Those figures, 25.000,
10 15.000, 3.000, 12.000, is it just an estimate, or are you absolutely sure
11 of those figures?
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, these are the figures
13 that were received through the reports of the commanders in these areas
14 and the rough share of the indigenous population and the population that
15 had moved to those areas earlier from areas controlled by the VRS. 1.000
16 to 2.000 Croats had come to Travnik from VRS-controlled areas, and it was
17 similar with other territories. So there were some indigenous population
18 there and some recent arrivals. They were expelled -- who were expelled
19 from their homes to somewhere else.
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well.
21 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
22 Q. General, let us now take a look at the situation in Mostar.
23 Document 4D1216.
24 Tell us, General -- we're about to see the map any moment. In
25 the period up until the 30th of June, 1993, did this communication
1 northward to Jablanica, irrespective of the colour we choose to mark it,
2 was a communication that members of both armies could use?
3 A. Yes, fully, because that was the disposition of forces, the
4 2nd Brigade, and then the ABiH, and so on all the way to Konjic.
5 Q. Tell us, General -- I believe you remember that General Praljak
6 said in this courtroom that on the 30th of June, 1993, total war broke
7 out in this area between the Muslim and the Croat army in
8 Bosnia-Herzegovina, and when I say "Croat army," let me make clear that I
9 mean the BH Croats. Do you agree with this view of General Praljak?
10 A. Yes, absolutely, total war broke out, and bearing in mind
11 everything that happened before and everything that ensued immediately
12 after that.
13 Q. Now take a look at document 4D622.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Regarding this map,
15 General Petkovic, on this map, which you coloured yourself - at least
16 that's what I understood - 4D1216, this the situation before June 30th.
17 I look at Mostar. I see where the HVO is positioned and where the VRS is
18 positioned. Is there a corridor? I already asked this question, anyway,
19 so I don't think it will come to you as a surprise. But is there a small
20 corridor that would make it possible for a person living in East Mostar
21 to squeeze in between the HVO line and the VRS and move upward toward the
22 north, towards the position held by the BH Army? Before June 30th, was
23 that possible, when we look at this map?
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour Judge Antonetti, it
25 wasn't possible for anyone to pass through the lines. I believe that you
1 mean the situation I'm going to show now [indicates] - could I be
2 assisted - between the positions ...
3 I can't handle this. If anyone can assist me.
4 If you mean this [marks], between the positions, nobody could
5 move there, because these are two lines of fire with soldiers shooting at
6 each other, and whoever would be between there would be shot at. And
7 this area [marks] was only 400 to 500 metres wide, up there a bit wider
8 up to 1.2 kilometres. It was possible to move along arrow number 2, but
9 not between arrow number 1, between the two separated forces which could
10 open fire at each other at any moment.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. You are saying that
12 it was impossible to go through this line which is marked with a 1; but
13 on the line marked with a 2, it was possible. I have a question dealing
14 with a person living in East Mostar, who would decide to leave
15 East Mostar, was it possible for this person to actually leave
16 East Mostar?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, at this moment, yes,
18 because up until the 30th of June free movement was possible northward
19 and southward through the positions of the 2nd HVO Brigade.
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. You say that a
21 Muslim from East Mostar could move through the positions of the 2nd HVO
22 Brigade, could move up north towards the green areas held by the BH Army.
23 So here comes my question: Automatically, would this 2nd HVO Brigade let
24 the Muslims pass through, Muslims who were leaving East Mostar?
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, there was no reason
1 for this 2nd Brigade to prevent them from doing so because the 2nd
2 Brigade at that moment was manned by both Muslims and Croats. And let me
3 show. This area [marks] was held by the 4th Battalion of the 1st Mostar
4 Brigade, the brigade from Mostar, and there was normal communication
5 between the two areas, although the area was held by the HVO. And if you
6 listen to Mr. Peric, my witness, he said that at this spot, which I'll
7 mark "3" [marks], a telephone connection was set up between the
8 4th Battalion and the 2nd HVO Brigade, so this was all integrated as a
9 single system of defence of the HVO and the ABiH, and movement was
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Let me sum things
12 up, because it's important for me.
13 You're saying, and you're under oath, that before June 30th a
14 person living in East Mostar could leave East Mostar going through this
15 area controlled by the 2nd HVO Brigade, and you also said that the
16 2nd Brigade of the HVO at the time was made up of Muslims also, so this
17 person could move up north and could reach the area which you encircled
18 and which represents the 4th Battalion of the BH Army. Let me finish.
19 As far as you know, were there HVO orders that would ban the
20 inhabitants from East Mostar to pass through; yes or no?
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, Your Honours, there weren't any
22 such orders, by no means. I'll add that every command, at their own
23 level, was in a position to decide about how many civilians could move
24 about and in which directions. In times of war, civilians can move from
25 one municipality to another only with the approval of the civilian
1 authorities, because there was a mobilisation order in place under which
2 you were not able to move freely from one municipality to another.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Given the ethnic
4 make-up of the 2nd Brigade of the HVO, is that why you coloured this area
5 both in green and blue? It struck me that there's not just one colour,
6 but there's blue mingled with the green. Is that the reason why you did
7 that, because it was a dual composition?
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, the map couldn't be
9 marked blue properly, so some areas appear in pure blue and others
10 stained. I'm sorry, it's for technical reasons I couldn't mark it in
11 pure blue. But we used blue to mark HVO units.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. So if this map was
13 100 per cent exact, the zone with the 2nd Brigade of the HVO should be
14 only in blue. We see some green, but obviously there were some stains.
15 Very well, I understand.
16 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Mr. Petkovic, who was the commander of the
17 2nd Brigade?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Ilija Vrljic was the commander of
19 the 2nd Brigade, and after him Mr. Stomp ar [phoen].
20 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Could you tell the Chamber of which ethnicity
21 these commanders were?
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Both were Croats.
23 JUDGE TRECHSEL: If I understand this map and what you have
24 commented, it seems to show that Muslims from Mostar, from the east, or
25 even the other river, could move north to the extent that it pleased the
1 Command of the 2nd Brigade. Is that correct?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, Your Honour, the commander of
3 the 2nd Brigade didn't decide whether or not they could go or not. That
4 was up to the Wartime Presidency, as it was called, in Eastern Mostar or
5 the Command of the 4th Corps, or the Mostar Brigade of the ABiH, it goes
6 without saying.
7 JUDGE TRECHSEL: It does not quite go without saying. How can
8 the ABiH Command take any decision which would be binding upon an area
9 which is under the HVO control?
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, along this line up
11 here [indicates], the brigade kept this communication clear for movement
12 of civilians and all sorts of transportation. There was a reason for the
13 brigade to prevent traffic. Where I marked "1," this is the area of the
14 responsibility of the brigade. The commander will check how many people
15 were sent to pass through this zone, and no more than that.
16 JUDGE TRECHSEL: What is the map you are talking about when you
17 say "number 1"?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I'm referring to the map on the
19 screen, where I marked -- to the right, I marked this line with the
20 number 1. I wanted to say that the brigade was responsible for this
21 area, the area in which it held positions against the VRS. The brigade
22 wasn't allowed to seal off a communication line for those who had a right
23 to move along that communication.
24 JUDGE TRECHSEL: But, Mr. Petkovic, as I interpret the map, there
25 is no road where you have that fresh number 1. That is mountainous area,
1 and it is not a negotiable passage. There's no road, no nothing. It's
2 absolutely theoretical, or am I wrong here?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Judge Trechsel, Your Honour, what I
4 tried to tell you is this: Along the road that exists along the
5 Neretva river, the M-17, the 2nd Brigade at that time shown here was
6 not -- did not take up positions, and I'm telling you where the brigade
7 did have its positions in the hills above. Behind it was the free area
8 of communications where people could move around.
9 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I cannot see that from the map. To me, this --
10 on this map, I see roughly your line number 2 is where the roads are, and
11 they are in an area which is painted blue, which means, as you have
12 explained, that it is -- until point 3, it is under HVO control, so the
13 HVO can decide who passes and who does not, unless I have misunderstood
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, at this point it
16 wasn't the HVO who decided who was going to pass and who wasn't. The
17 4th Corps and the 1st Brigade could say 200 people are going to travel to
18 Jablanica, for instance, and they will be equipped properly, and set out
19 for Jablanica, and at a check-point we'll see that 400 people are
20 travelling to Jablanica for whatever reason, and there are simply going
21 to pass through -- along that communication road. The brigade has no
22 reason at this point in time to stop anybody, nor was it its task to do
24 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Should I just take your word for it, because I
25 do not see it from any document. You are just saying that from your
1 memory, or it's your opinion, or do you have something to support this?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, well, I don't know
3 how far you remember all the documents that we dealt with. Until the
4 30th of June, the communication towards Jablanica and Konjic was open to
5 everyone, and those who wanted to move along that communication line
6 could do so, both the BH Army members, in their 4th Battalion, and
7 members from the army from Jablanica in the 4th Battalion and Mostar.
8 And at that moment, there were no restrictions, bans, or anything for the
9 2nd Brigade to say, No, you can't pass. And, similarly, just like the
10 1st Mostar Brigade, and you see that up here by Mostar, they didn't say
11 the HVO barracks has to leave from this area. No, the HVO barracks
12 remained in the green area. And the soldiers entered the HVO barracks
13 and exited the barracks without the BH Army preventing them from doing
15 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] We are going to carry on
17 tomorrow, because it's nearly 10 past 7.00.
18 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] [Previous translation
19 continues]... linked to this map, because I feel it is important, while
20 we're discussing this, to --
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] We will carry on tomorrow,
22 because it's 10 past 7.00, and we'll have plenty of time tomorrow. So
23 you will be able to take the floor again tomorrow, and I will also ask
24 some questions.
25 So tomorrow we have an afternoon session, so we'll start at
1 quarter past 2.00.
2 [The witness stands down]
3 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 7.08 p.m.,
4 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 16th day of
5 February, 2010, at 2.15 p.m.