1 Monday, 4 April 2011
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 2.20 p.m.
5 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Good afternoon to everybody in the courtroom.
6 Welcome back. We are hearing this week the Witness Nikolic, and I would
7 like to state for the record his counsel is present,
8 Ms. Virginia Lindsay. Welcome to our hearings as well.
9 If there are no procedural matters? I don't think so. The
10 witness should be brought in, please.
11 Mr. Thayer.
12 MR. THAYER: Good afternoon, Mr. President. I was just standing.
13 [The witness entered court]
14 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Good afternoon, sir. Welcome to the courtroom.
15 Would you please read aloud the affirmation on the card which is shown to
16 you now.
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good afternoon. I solemnly declare
18 that I will speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
19 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much. Please sit down and make
20 yourself comfortable.
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
22 JUDGE FLUEGGE: You know your counsel, Ms. Lindsay, is present
23 here in the courtroom, as you are a person in detention normally in
24 another country and now transferred to the Tribunal. We are now
25 commencing your examination. Mr. Thayer is putting questions to you.
1 Mr. Thayer.
2 MR. THAYER: Thank you, Mr. President. Good afternoon to you
3 again. Good afternoon to Your Honours. Good afternoon to the Defence.
4 Good afternoon, everyone.
5 WITNESS: MOMIR NIKOLIC
6 [Witness answered through interpreter]
7 Examination by Mr. Thayer:
8 Q. Good afternoon to you, sir.
9 A. Good afternoon.
10 Q. Would you please state your name for the record.
11 A. My name is Momir Nikolic.
12 Q. Sir, we'll get into the details of your military service in a
13 little bit, but for now is it accurate to say that you served in the Army
14 of Republika Srpska as chief of intelligence and security affairs in the
15 Bratunac Brigade from late 1992 through the end of the war?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. And just to move things along a little bit, in May 2003 did you
18 plead guilty to Count 5 of the indictment against you, namely,
19 persecutions, a crime against humanity?
20 A. Yes, I pleaded guilty.
21 Q. And in that earlier Srebrenica case, were the other co-accused
22 named in your indictment Vidoje Blagojevic, the former Bratunac Brigade
23 commander; Dragan Obrenovic, the former Chief of Staff and deputy
24 commander of the Zvornik Brigade; and Dragan Jokic, the former chief of
25 engineering of the Zvornik Brigade?
1 A. Yes, the aforementioned officers from the Bratunac and Zvornik
2 Brigade were in the same group together with me and we were all indicted
4 Q. And if you'll pardon me, sir, I'm just going to adjust this ELMO
5 because it's in our way.
6 JUDGE FLUEGGE: The court usher will assist you. You are perfect
7 in technical matters. Thank you.
8 MR. THAYER: Sorry, Mr. President, I probably violated a union
9 rule there.
10 Q. Now, following your guilty plea, sir, you testified for eight
11 days in the Blagojevic trial in 2003; is that correct?
12 THE INTERPRETER: Could counsel kindly speak into the microphone,
13 the left or the right.
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, that is correct. I testified
15 in the Blagojevic case.
16 MR. THAYER:
17 Q. And in 2009 you testified for another seven days in the Popovic
18 trial and a day in the Perisic trial. Do you recall that, sir?
19 A. Yes, I remember that.
20 Q. And in addition to those cases before this institution, do you
21 recall also testifying one day each in the so-called Kravica warehouse
22 trial and the trial of Milorad Trbic in the State Court of Bosnia and
24 A. Yes. Before the state court I testified two times in two
25 different cases, the ones that you just mentioned.
1 Q. Okay. And I won't reveal your current location, but you
2 testified via videolink in those two cases; is that correct?
3 A. Yes, that's correct.
4 Q. Now, sir, you are currently serving a sentence of 20 years'
5 imprisonment; is that correct?
6 A. Yes, that's correct.
7 Q. And in connection with the guilty plea, was there a signed plea
9 A. Yes, there was such an agreement.
10 Q. Okay. Let's just take a quick look at the agreement and a couple
11 of portions of it. We won't spend too much time on it.
12 MR. THAYER: If we could have 65 ter 7291, please, 65 ter 7291.
13 And if we could call it up twice in e-court that would be helpful because
14 the document itself contains a B/C/S translation. So I will provide both
15 the English page number and the corresponding B/C/S page number.
16 Q. Sir, in a moment you'll have a document appearing on your screen.
17 MR. THAYER: And we will need page 40 and 41. Okay.
18 Q. Now, sir, the document that we have here has not been translated,
19 but we're not going to spend too much time on this first portion. What
20 we have here is the cover page of your -- the joint motion for
21 consideration of amended plea agreement between Momir Nikolic and the
22 Office of the Prosecutor.
23 MR. THAYER: If we could go to page 42, please. And we'll need
24 to go to page 49 in the B/C/S.
25 Q. I don't know if you can read that, sir. Do you see what's headed
1 "annex A" to the joint motion for consideration of plea agreement,
2 amended plea agreement, do you have that in your -- on your screen?
3 A. Yes, I can see it. However, it's a very, very bad copy.
4 Q. Yes.
5 MR. THAYER: If we can scroll down a little bit in the B/C/S,
7 JUDGE FLUEGGE: And enlarge it a bit further.
8 MR. THAYER: Just paragraph 2 actually, please.
9 Q. Again, we can see here that you pleaded guilty to Count 5 of the
10 amended joinder indictment, namely, persecutions.
11 MR. THAYER: If we can go to the next page, please, in each
12 version and just blow up paragraph 4, please.
13 JUDGE FLUEGGE: In B/C/S it could be enlarged a bit further.
14 MR. THAYER: Thank you, Mr. President. Just paragraph 4.
15 Q. Sir, can you see paragraph 4 where it provides that in exchange
16 for your guilty plea to Count 5 and your complete co-operation with the
17 OTP as set forth in paragraphs 9 to 11, the Office of the Prosecutor
18 agreed to, number 1, recommend that the Trial Chamber impose a sentence
19 within the range of 15 to 20 years, and then 2, that the Prosecution
20 would move to dismiss the remaining counts. Do you see those two
21 provisions and do you recall those, sir?
22 A. Yes, I can see it.
23 Q. Okay.
24 MR. THAYER: And if we can go to page 45 in e-court and then that
25 will be page 52 in B/C/S, please. And if we could focus on paragraph 9,
1 please, scroll down just a little bit in the B/C/S so the witness can
2 focus on that.
3 Q. Under the heading "co-operation by Momir Nikolic" can you read
4 the paragraph number 9, sir? Is it legible enough for you to read?
5 A. Yes, I can read it.
6 Q. And do you recall that this portion of the agreement required you
7 to accept responsibility for your actions, provide truthful co-operation
8 and testimony in trials before this institution; do you recall that, sir?
9 A. Yes, I remember that.
10 Q. And again, if we look at paragraph 11 --
11 MR. THAYER: And we'll have to go to the next page in B/C/S only,
13 Q. Can you see in paragraph 11, sir, that:
14 "It is understood and agreed by Momir Nikolic and the Prosecution
15 that all information and testimony provided by" you "must be absolutely
16 truthful. And that this means that Momir Nikolic must neither minimise
17 his own actions nor fabricate someone else's involvement."
18 Do you see that and do you recall that part of your agreement,
20 A. Yes, I see this document as well and I remember certain parts of
21 this agreement. I remember what it contains in paragraph 11.
22 Q. Thank you, sir.
23 MR. THAYER: Mr. President, the Prosecution would tender 65 ter
25 JUDGE FLUEGGE: It will be received.
1 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, 65 ter number 7291 shall be
2 assigned Exhibit P2157. Thank you.
3 MR. THAYER:
4 Q. Sir, prior to the entry of your plea agreement and in fact prior
5 to the finalisation of your plea agreement with the Prosecution, did you
6 falsely state that you were present at an execution site and that you in
7 fact gave the order for it? Do you remember making that false statement
8 to the Prosecution during the course of the meetings in connection with
9 whether or not you were going to plead guilty?
10 A. Yes, I have already confirmed on a number of times that at a
11 certain moment I stated something that was not true related to my
12 involvement in the events in Kravica, and of course what I said at the
13 time was not true.
14 Q. Now, as the Trial Chamber just heard a little while ago, you've
15 testified a number of times in a number of trials so I understand that
16 you've told other courts about this incident as well as the balance of
17 your testimony. But this Trial Chamber hasn't heard your testimony and
18 you are here as a fully live witness. So can you please just give the
19 Trial Chamber a little bit more detail, a better idea of exactly what
20 transpired when you told the Prosecution that lie and took credit for a
21 mass execution that you weren't involved with.
22 A. Yes. As many times as I've testified here in The Hague, I've
23 explained the situation which occurred related to me stating some things
24 that were false, related again to the incident in Kravica. Of course
25 this is a new Trial Chamber so I'm going to be very brief and explain
1 what actually happened.
2 The negotiations between the OTP and myself had already been well
3 advanced. What I had to say in relation to my own involvement and the
4 involvement of my unit and the involvement of others was something that I
5 clearly stated. However, at a certain point the representatives of the
6 Prosecution clearly asked me whether I had taken part in the incident in
7 Kravica. And to be honest, I was afraid. I knew that I wasn't present,
8 I knew that I wasn't involved in it, but I was confused.
9 Those interviews took place of over a very long time and at a
10 certain moment I was partially revolted by the situation, and on the
11 other hand I simply didn't know what to do and what to say. So I said
12 what I said and I took that responsibility. And then immediately after I
13 said it I realised what I had done. I spoke to my lawyers. My lawyers
14 definitely knew that I did not take part in that. And then the following
15 day it was a public holiday in the Netherlands. I think it was the
16 Queen's Day. And immediately after that holiday, I told my lawyers that
17 I would want to tell the OTP that what I said was not true, that I would
18 like to apologise about it, and that I would also take any responsibility
19 for what I have stated falsely.
20 There are some other details related to this, but I don't want to
21 burden the Trial Chamber or to waste time here. If you have any further
22 questions, if you need any further details, I'm prepared to answer all
23 your questions. The essence of the matter is I have stated something
24 that was false related to my involvement in the Kravica incident.
25 Immediately after one day I apologised to the Prosecution and I accepted
1 as a consequence of stating untruths to sign a true statement which will
2 confirm that I have stated something that was not true in relation to
3 that particular incident. That's about it.
4 Q. And in fact, sir - and we won't need to take the time to put it
5 up on e-court - but you refer to a signed statement which you made
6 concerning this lie that you told. Did that in fact become part of your
7 plea agreement package that was filed with the Trial Chamber in your case
8 so that they could see exactly what had happened?
9 A. Yes. That is the statement. The statement that I signed was
10 part of all the documents that were sent or submitted to the
11 Trial Chamber. The Judges were aware and knew exactly what had happened
12 because this was stated in writing.
13 Q. And, sir, do you understand how absolutely vital it is for you to
14 tell the complete truth before this Trial Chamber and not to minimise
15 your own conduct or exaggerate the conduct of anyone else? Do you
16 understand how crucial that is?
17 A. Of course I understand. In all my hitherto testimony I tried to
18 be precise, of course within the boundaries of my intellectual abilities
19 and within the framework of what I know. After the statement which I
20 signed, I tried in all later or subsequent contacts with the Prosecution
21 and in my testimony before the Tribunal to speak the truth. And of
22 course it's absolutely clear to me - and I stated that in one of my
23 statements - that I at no point wish to minimise my participation in the
24 crime, while at the same time I also do not wish to bear responsibility
25 of others or take upon myself the level of responsibility that does not
1 belong to me in view of my rank and the position that I was in. And of
2 course I'm going to try, in future testimonies also, to state all that I
3 know, all that I saw, also in instances with my own participation and of
4 course things that relate to my colleagues, officers from my unit, and
5 officers from other commands about whom I know where they were and what
6 they were doing.
7 Q. Now, sir, you pleaded guilty; correct?
8 A. Yes, I did.
9 Q. You accepted responsibility; is that correct?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. And in your prior testimony did you also express your remorse for
12 what happened in Srebrenica and to the Bosnian Muslim population of
14 A. Yes. When I testified -- actually, before the judgement was
15 passed down I expressed my remorse and I do that whenever I have the
16 opportunity to do that.
17 Q. Well, sir, now is as good a time as any.
18 A. Of course countless times - and I said that earlier also - I
19 expressed my regret about everything that had happened in Srebrenica. Of
20 course I'm not only sorry but this is something that is troubling to me.
21 After everything that happened I would like to take this opportunity
22 again to apologise to all the victims. And since I was -- since I was a
23 professor at school, I would like to take this opportunity to apologise
24 particularly to my students who were victims of that crime.
25 Q. Mr. Nikolic, before you pleaded guilty and accepted
1 responsibility and expressed your remorse, were you aware of any other
2 Bosnian Serb army officer who had done that?
3 A. No. I think I'm the first officer of the Army of Republika
4 Srpska who simply understood that the -- who understood that the horrific
5 crime that happened in Srebrenica is a horrific crime in which members of
6 my army took part. When I say "my army," I'm not thinking only about my
7 own brigade. And of course I think that in that horrific crime the
8 things that I did in a way contributed to the events and everything that
9 happened. Of course I testified countless times and stated that my role
10 wasn't a crucial one, that I didn't plan anything, I didn't organise
11 anything, that I didn't command the units, but the position that I was in
12 meant that I carried out the orders that I received and that the
13 operation ended the way it ended.
14 I would be the happiest man alive had this never happened and had
15 I never been there, but I was there, I saw many things, and I'm
16 absolutely aware that a horrendous crime occurred there that cannot be
17 justified in any way. And that is why as an officer of Republika Srpska,
18 I pleaded guilty and I genuinely do consider myself guilty, I feel
19 guilty, and I consider myself responsible for everything that happened
21 Q. Sir, I want to take a little bit of time and provide the
22 Trial Chamber with a little bit of personal history about yourself, your
23 education and your military background. Can you tell the Trial Chamber
24 how old you are.
25 A. I was born in 1955. I'm now 56 years old. I've entered my 57th
1 year. I was born in that area, in that part of Eastern Bosnia. I was
2 born in Bratunac. I completed elementary and secondary school in
3 Bratunac. I completed the construction or engineering technical high
4 school and then I went to serve my military term of duty the way it was
5 served in the former Yugoslavia. I served my military term of duty in
6 Slovenia. After serving my term of duty, I enrolled at the political
7 sciences faculty and I completed the department of defence and security.
8 After that I taught in school for a few years, and then sometime
9 in 1986 or 1987 I moved into the municipal staff for Territorial Defence
10 where I worked as a deputy commander of the Municipal Staff for
11 intelligence affairs. This is what I was doing when the war broke out.
12 That was my post. I was in the TO staff when the war broke out. And
13 then in late 1992 the Bratunac Brigade was formed. After that, after a
14 break that I had because of attacks against me by certain paramilitary
15 formations in Bratunac, I was in Serbia for some five and a half or six
16 months. I spent some of that time in the hospital. After that I went
17 for rehabilitation and therapy. After that I returned to the Bratunac
18 Brigade on the 19th of November, 1992, and some ten days after I returned
19 I was assigned the chief of the security intelligence organ of the
20 Bratunac Brigade. So since then, since 1992 until the end of the war, I
21 was serving in the Bratunac Brigade.
22 In late 1996 I moved to the Ministry for Missing and Displaced
23 Persons, where later I became the co-ordinator of the Podrinje
24 municipality on -- in dealing with refugees and displaced persons. I was
25 doing that for a year. After that I became the director of a trading
1 company, and then after nine months there the company was privatised and
2 I was appointed as a director of another company. After that second
3 company became private I was unemployed and I was arrested on the 1st of
4 April, 2002 -- yes. Actually I was arrested on the 1st of April and
5 transferred to The Hague on the 2nd of April, 2002.
6 Q. Let's go back and just fill in a couple of details, sir. When
7 you taught in Bratunac, can you tell the Trial Chamber exactly where you
8 taught and which school, what was the name of the school, and what
9 subject or subjects did you teach there?
10 A. After I completed my university, I came to the high school
11 centre. It's called Djuro Pucar Stari, it still bears the same name.
12 And I was teaching defence and self protection or security there. This
13 was the subject for first- and second-year students while I was working
14 there, later things changed a little bit, but anyway my subject was
15 defence and self protection which was a regular subject in the then-high
16 school system.
17 Q. And when you were serving as chief of intelligence and security
18 affairs in the Bratunac Brigade, what was your rank, sir?
19 A. I had the rank of captain throughout my period of work in the
20 Bratunac Brigade.
21 Q. And were you an active-duty officer, by that I mean a
22 professional officer, or were you a reserve officer?
23 A. I was a reserve officer, a reserve captain.
24 Q. Let's spend a little bit of time talking about the
25 Bratunac Brigade. I think you alluded to this earlier, but to the best
1 of your knowledge when was the Bratunac Brigade actually formed?
2 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Thayer, could you please switch off your
3 right microphone because it's too near to the keyboard which is in use.
4 Thank you.
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] If I remember correctly I think I
6 said that it was in late 1992, but I think the correct date is the 14th
7 of November. That was the day the brigade was formed. You don't need to
8 completely rely on my recollection of the date, but I think that that was
10 MR. THAYER:
11 Q. And in July of 1995, who was the commander of the
12 Bratunac Brigade?
13 A. The commander was Colonel Vidoje Blagojevic in July.
14 Q. And how many battalions was the brigade divided into?
15 A. It had three battalions.
16 Q. And were there any independent units within the brigade in
17 addition to the three battalions?
18 A. I don't know what you're thinking of precisely, but if you're
19 thinking of a battalion that was part of the Zvornik Brigade then yes.
20 If you're thinking of units that were part of the brigade, other units
21 meaning -- that was the artillery logistics units, reconnaissance units,
22 police, then it did include based on the establishment structure of a
23 light brigade, all of those units that were planned for according to the
25 Q. And that's what I had in mind, sir. And you referred to another
1 battalion. Was there in fact another battalion that was, shall we say,
2 affiliated with the Bratunac Brigade in addition to the three battalions
3 that you described?
4 A. The translation is was there another battalion linked or
5 connected with it. For a certain time-period another battalion was
6 formed and mobilised. It has a provisional name, the workers' battalion
7 or the work battalion, and it was established under an order by
8 Commander Blagojevic at a time when it was necessary to engage all
9 available forces for the Srebrenica operation. So if you're thinking of
10 that battalion, the work battalion, that's its name. It was manned by
11 conscripts that according to the war time assignments were deployed for
12 work duty at work organisations. If you're thinking of a battalion that
13 was our neighbour battalion, then it was the Skelani Battalion which
14 actually was right next to the 3rd Infantry Battalion of the
15 Bratunac Brigade.
16 Q. And who was the commander of that Skelani Battalion, sir?
17 A. I think in all my testimony to date I recall a major. I think
18 his name -- his last name is Petrovic, but this is not the Petrovic from
19 the 3rd Infantry Battalion from my brigade. He had the same last name.
20 I think the last commander in any case was a major. I don't have any
21 other information about their command because they switched. Often
22 people remained there for a very short time, meaning when they got there,
23 when they saw what awaited them and what the situation was they would
24 leave very quickly. But I think in May the commander of the Skelani
25 Battalion was this Major Petrovic.
1 Q. And where were the headquarters of the Bratunac Brigade located?
2 A. The headquarters of the Bratunac Brigade were in Bratunac some
3 500 metres away from the city centre. They were located in the premises
4 of the Kaolin Bratunac enterprise.
5 Q. And in that command or in those headquarters, can you tell the
6 Trial Chamber which staff organs were present?
7 A. This was a large compound with different buildings. So in those
8 buildings and in a part of the compound the brigade commander was
9 located, the chief of the brigade staff; then the deputies -- the
10 assistants of the brigade commander, assistants for logistics --
11 actually, what I'm saying now -- actually, I'm not sure whether the
12 commander for organisation and logistics was the commander of the Chief
13 of Staff or of the commander of the brigade. This is something that I
14 don't remember anymore. So the assistant for organisation, mobilisation,
15 and personnel affairs was there. Part of the command -- and the command
16 had all the services, the traffic, the engineering, the medical corps,
17 the logistics, also my office was located in that building and I was the
18 chief of the security and intelligence affairs. There was also the staff
19 HQ there. It was a minor unit which was providing security or actually
20 it was doing all the things that were required by the actual command such
21 as procurement, supplies, and other things.
22 Also, outside of the compound in another part but that was also
23 part of the Kaolin Bratunac enterprise was where the military police was
24 located. It was a kind of prefabricated building that was next to the
25 compound where they were located.
1 Q. All right. And we will talk about the military police platoon in
2 a little while. Sticking with the headquarters, was there a
3 communications centre in your headquarters of the brigade?
4 A. Yes, of course. This is understood.
5 Q. And can you describe for the Trial Chamber just generally how did
6 that communications centre operate? For example, how were communications
7 from superior or subordinate commands received and processed in the
8 communications centre?
9 A. The communications centre was located in the same place where the
10 HQ and the other organs of the brigade were, in the same building. The
11 communications centre itself operated more or less as follows.
12 Everything that was being sent from the brigade command would go to the
13 communications centre. It would be encrypted there. It would either be
14 sent encrypted or just plain text. And it would be information about the
15 situation in the brigade, different information, as well as daily
16 activities in the brigade. All of this was mostly sent in the form of a
17 daily combat report to the superior command. My superior command --
18 well, not my superior command but the Bratunac Brigade superior command
19 was the Drina Corps command. And everything that was new in the brigade
20 and everything that was happening would be sent as a daily report at the
21 end of the day to the corps command. The procedure was the same in all
22 the communications centres. There were operatives in the centre who once
23 you brought them the text or information that you wanted to dispatch, you
24 would hand it to them, they would type it, dispatch it, and after that
25 usually they would return the written copy of the text that you had
1 provided to them in handwriting as well as the copy of the text that they
2 had sent to the superior command.
3 The practice in the Bratunac Brigade was as follows. The
4 commander of the Bratunac Brigade trusted his assistants and other than
5 special or exceptional information, he did not ask us to inform him each
6 time that we sent some data or some information. He didn't ask us to
7 submit to him what we were going to send.
8 The next thing that I want to say is that we as assistants,
9 again, after we sent out the information each time when we reported would
10 orally inform our commander about our activities within our sector and
11 the things that we had reported about to the superior command. When the
12 situation was reversed, namely, when we received orders or any kind of
13 document from the superior command then that would arrive at the
14 communications centre and the complete document would then be taken from
15 the communications centre to the desk. Perhaps this information arrived
16 via post, not necessarily through the communications centre.
17 So everything that would arrive in the course of the day, also
18 from the superior commands, would go to the desk of the commander. If
19 the commander was absent, he would be replaced by the Chief of Staff and
20 the commander or the Chief of Staff would look at all the documents, all
21 the instructions, all the orders that had arrived, and they would initial
22 and pass them on to the relevant persons. All the assistants, for
23 example, had their own codes. For example, I had 03, logistics was 04,
24 operations was 06, and so on and so forth. The commander would look at
25 the information, he would initial it, and then send it to whoever was
1 supposed to receive it. And then also at the end of the day this would
2 be dispatched to protocol. The person in charge of the protocol would
3 distribute the documents according to what was written in the document
4 itself by the commander. This is how the communications centre
5 functioned in principle.
6 I just want to add this. There are exceptions everywhere.
7 Sometimes there are exceptions in the communications centre as well, but
8 for the most part this was the procedure in the Bratunac Brigade, the way
9 I just tried to explain to you.
10 Q. And just to follow-up on one thing you said, sir. You mentioned
11 communications that were outgoing from the brigade, some which might be
12 open text, others which were encrypted, and that that would be done by an
13 operative within the communications centre. How about with respect to
14 communications which were being received by the communications centre
15 from let's say, for example, a superior command that were encrypted, what
16 would happen then?
17 A. All orders that arrived at the communications centre would be
18 decoded and converted into an open text. There was a specific person who
19 was taking care of that. I myself am not very versatile in these
20 matters, but in principle I know that every order that came from a
21 superior command was converted into a clear, transparent, and open text.
22 So it did not remain encoded, which allowed for a completely normal
23 communication, if that's what you had in mind.
24 Q. Now, in addition to the communications centre, was there an
25 operations room in addition to that communications centre or were they
1 the same thing in your brigade?
2 A. I more or less understand what you are referring to. The brigade
3 had its communications centre, as I just explained. For example, in my
4 brigade, the Bratunac Brigade, we also had an operations centre which
5 provided daily operations duty, and now I'm talking exclusively about the
6 Bratunac Brigade. In our operations centre, there was no communications
7 system, there were no communication devices that would allow those who
8 were sending something from the superior command to send it to the
9 communications centre. Anything going out from the operations centre
10 could only have been done by phone. There was an unscrambled telephone
11 in the communications centre and there was also scrambled telephones. So
12 from the communications centre this information can be passed on by
13 telephone as well; however, all the information including orders could
14 have been conveyed to the centre by telephone.
15 As far as written orders were concerned, they were sent either by
16 post or through the system that was established there for that purpose.
17 Q. Okay. And I think we'll hear a little bit more about both the
18 communications centre and the operations centre or operations room during
19 the course of your testimony. You referred to daily reports which were
20 submitted by the Brigade to the Drina Corps. Can you tell the
21 Trial Chamber whether that was, number one, required every day?
22 A. If you're referring to the reports sent by a brigade, then you
23 are right. That was done on a daily basis. A brigade was obliged
24 pursuant to the corps orders to send daily reports to the corps command.
25 And as far as I know our brigade complied with that in an orderly
1 fashion. If you are inquiring about my sector, based on an agreement
2 with my superiors in the area of professional expertise, we undertook an
3 obligation to convey intelligence information or the information
4 collected by my sector once a day, two times a day, or maybe even more
5 because we wanted to inform the corps command about any changes in the
6 situation that might affect the combat-readiness of our unit. If we
7 didn't have such information, of course I was not obliged to write a
8 daily report just to keep up with the appearances. I provided reports
9 only when I had something specific to say and if this information was
10 relevant for my superior command.
11 So as I said, we sometimes sent two or three information and
12 reports and sometimes we didn't send any at all. Therefore, since there
13 is an item within every regular combat report that deals with security
14 issues, I would usually just put one sentence to the effect that with
15 respect to the previous report there are no new developments. And this
16 is what I did in terms of fulfilling my obligations towards my superior
18 Q. And when we refer to the daily combat report that went up to the
19 Drina Corps from the Bratunac Brigade, who would typically sign off on
20 the daily combat report, the regular combat report that went to the
21 Drina Corps?
22 A. A regular combat report should and must be signed by the brigade
23 commander. However, it sometimes happened that the brigade commander was
24 away and then that would be done by the Chief of Staff. Again, I'm
25 talking about my brigade and the practice that we pursued was that the
1 duty operations officer would, again depending on the content of
2 information that has to be sent to the corps command, if this information
3 is critical and important, then we did our best to show it to the -- our
4 commander or the Chief of Staff. However, if these were regular daily
5 combat reports and that contained no crucial information or any reference
6 to any changes to the previous situation, then the duty operations
7 officer would just add the word "for" and he himself would sign the
8 report on behalf of the brigade command and then he would send it to the
9 communications centre for them to type it and then pass it on towards the
10 superior command.
11 Q. And just so we're clear, in your language the word is "za" for
12 "for," is that correct, that we've seen so much of in this trial?
13 A. Yes, you're right.
14 Q. Okay. Now, you've referred in your last couple of answers to
15 reporting through the command chain through the commander of the
16 Bratunac Brigade as well as reporting obligations that you had to your
17 professional superior officers in the security and intelligence line as
18 we refer to it. In July of 1995 was the Bratunac Brigade an infantry
19 brigade or was it a light infantry brigade?
20 A. In July 1995 it was a light infantry brigade.
21 Q. And did that have any implications for your position as opposed
22 to in an infantry brigade?
23 A. A light infantry brigade had incorporated the functions of
24 security and intelligence affairs in one personality. It is my duty to
25 tell you that I'm aware of the fact that sometime in April or May - I
1 don't know exactly - that these two functions were separated. We in
2 Bratunac had a rather specific situation. The chief to be was first on
3 the ground in Trnovo and then after that he attended some kind of course.
4 So regardless of the fact that in that particular period of 1995 these
5 two functions were separated, in the Bratunac Brigade nothing was changed
6 in 1995 in terms that I was chief of the security and intelligence organ
7 in the Bratunac Brigade. Later on when another officer came and assumed
8 these duties, this question was no longer relevant for me.
9 Q. And do you recall approximately when this other officer came and
10 assumed those duties? Month and year is fine if you can remember, sir.
11 A. Yes, 1995, but he was in Trnovo while Srebrenica operation was in
12 progress. Therefore, I cannot tell you anything more precise. I can't
13 give you any more details. And I also don't remember his name.
14 Q. Well, during the period of let's say July of 1995 and the months
15 leading up to July of 1995, day in and day out in the Bratunac Brigade
16 who was exercising the duties and functions of chief of intelligence and
17 security affairs?
18 A. Before July and after July, that is to say before, during, and
19 after the operation, all the way until I left the brigade it was I who
20 discharged the duties of the chief of intelligence and security.
21 Q. Can you give the Trial Chamber an idea of what your duties,
22 responsibilities, and tasks were in your role as, first, chief of
23 intelligence affairs in the brigade?
24 A. I'll try to explain this in two or three sentences, because
25 basically all my responsibilities are described in the rules of service
1 that pertain to intelligence and security and the work of security
2 organs. These rules generally described what my rights and obligations
3 were in the course of discharging these duties. So let me say about two
4 sentences or three. The intelligence part of my duties, as far as I
5 understood it, was the one that was the most important one that I was
6 supposed to deliver. 80 -- or 85 per cent of all the activities have to
7 do with intelligence and the rest, let's say 15 per cent, had to do with
8 the activities that concerned command and staff affairs of my brigade.
9 So I was not professionally involved in security. I was not an
10 authorised security officer. I did not have a proper ID and I didn't
11 have any powers that stem from that. I was mostly focused on
12 intelligence tasks which involved collection of intelligence data about
13 the enemy, about their activities, about their intentions, about their
14 movement, and everything else that could greatly affect not the
15 combat-readiness but rather the security of my unit and other troops who
16 were within my units.
17 So I said as far as the security activities were concerned, they
18 mainly concerned the protection of one's own units, its weaponry and
19 equipment, from incursions by sabotage or terrorist groups or the
20 incursion of these groups into the rear areas of the territory controlled
21 by my brigade. And this is basically what I was doing. As for the other
22 tasks that were within the purview of a security organ who is working,
23 for example, in an infantry brigade are quite different from the issues
24 of security that I dealt with. That is perhaps the reason why I behaved
25 in such a manner. Maybe I did not understand it properly, but nobody
1 objected to that because this is how I perceived this function.
2 Q. You referred to yourself as not being an authorised security
3 officer. What did you mean by that, sir?
4 A. This is what I meant, of course according to what I know.
5 Authorised security organs had a functional duty of chief of security.
6 Authorised security organs also had official identification papers. This
7 is how this was called in my country, and of course I had an opportunity
8 to see this ID card and this ID card contains the duties of security
9 officer according to the rules of service. For example, he was entitled
10 to make arrests, to make searches. But, as I said, I was never
11 performing these kind of duties and I wasn't permitted to do so because I
12 did not have this kind of official ID that would entitle me to become
13 involved in the security operations and matters. In our brigade in order
14 for us to be able to deal with these kind of problems we had a different
15 solution and that solution was a lawyer, a professional, and he was the
16 one who dealt with the legal aspect of affairs relating to criminal
17 reports and filing criminal reports and that is what he did.
18 Q. And what was his name, sir?
19 A. His name was Zlatan Celanovic and he was part of the organ for
20 religious affairs and moral guidance only as a matter of form, but
21 practically he was within the military police platoon and his authorities
22 derived from the authorities conveyed by the brigade commander. So he
23 did not operate only during the Blagojevic era, he also continued to do
24 that when Slavko Ognjenovic became the commander, or maybe he did it even
25 before. Anyway, he was always involved in these kind of matters until he
1 was demobilised.
2 Q. Now, you referred to the, if I'm doing my math right, about 15
3 per cent of your time was spent devoted to security affairs and you
4 referred to the security of your unit. Can you tell the Trial Chamber a
5 little bit about what does that mean? When you refer to the security
6 unit, what does that entail in terms of your duties and responsibilities
7 in terms of chief of security affairs?
8 A. A while ago I told you that these activities referred to command
9 staff affairs concerning security. That means providing security for the
10 brigade command, providing security and preventing the leakage of secret
11 information from the communications centre, and basically all other
12 activities that affected the command and the staff of the brigade and
13 their security of the brigade that I was a member of.
14 If I may add, and I said that in my previous testimonies, I am
15 not a security expert at all. I was mainly involved in my brigade in
16 things that would contribute to the protection of the brigade and its
17 units, and I undertook measures that would prevent putting the unit in
18 danger or preventing any risk to the weaponry and equipment and other
19 things that pertained to the unit and the area where it was deployed. So
20 this was mainly my duty.
21 Q. And where did counter-intelligence fit into this scheme?
22 A. That was within the remit of my sector and it normally does. And
23 of course certain steps were taken with regard to these issues too, but
24 unlike me the people who are trained in this particular domain know these
25 things better than I do.
1 Q. And in your experience what is counter-intelligence and did you
2 ever deal with any incidents that you would characterise as
3 counter-intelligence that you would recall?
4 A. Well, I really cannot remember at the moment any particular
5 activities in which I was involved that could be qualified as
6 counter-intelligence activities. I really don't know. I can't recall.
7 Maybe something would help me jog my memory, but anyway I don't know.
8 Q. And can you tell us again what is counter-intelligence and does
9 it fall under your intelligence hat or does it fall under your security
11 A. As far as I understand it, this has to do with security affairs.
12 Certain security assessments need to be made. For example, with the
13 potential intentions, with the degree of risk to which the unit or the
14 area is exposed, et cetera. So as I said, I'm not an expert. This is
15 how I understand it and I am reluctant to get involved in any deeper
17 So within this scope of activities, I took all the measures that
18 I deemed important for preventing any surprises or any incursions by
19 sabotage and terrorist groups, the smuggling of fire-arms, illicit
20 contacts between the soldiers on the lines, all other smuggling of
21 contraband, et cetera. So whether you can call that counter-intelligence
22 offices, I think you can, but I -- as I said, I don't know.
23 MR. THAYER: Mr. President, I see we are at the appointed time.
24 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Indeed, we must have our first break now. We
25 will resume quarter past 4.00.
1 --- Recess taken at 3.46 p.m.
2 --- On resuming at 4.19 p.m.
3 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes, Mr. Thayer, please continue.
4 MR. THAYER: Thank you, Mr. President.
5 Q. Good afternoon again, sir.
6 A. Good afternoon.
7 Q. You've spoken about your reporting obligations to your superiors
8 along the professional or expert line. Were there members of the
9 Bratunac Brigade's subordinate units who also had intelligence and
10 security duties? I'm referring to the battalions, obviously. Within
11 those battalions, were there Bratunac Brigade members who discharged
12 intelligence and security duties?
13 A. Yes. All three infantry battalions that belonged to the
14 Bratunac Brigade had assistant commanders for intelligence and security
15 affairs within those battalions.
16 Q. And what were their duties, sir?
17 A. Well, I don't want to repeat myself. More or less it was
18 everything that I did at the level of the brigade. Those assistant
19 commanders did the same thing at the level of the battalion within the
20 zone of responsibility of the battalion.
21 Q. And would they submit reports to you, whether oral or in writing,
22 or would they report to somebody else with respect to intelligence and
23 security matters?
24 A. The practice in my brigade -- or actually it wasn't just the
25 practice, we had an obligation to do that. Intelligence and security
1 organs in the battalion followed the same principle that I followed
2 vis-a-vis my obligation towards the Drina Corps. So based on this
3 principle they would send similar written reports to the Bratunac Brigade
4 command, specifically to me within my sector for intelligence and
5 security work. And maybe if I can add one more sentence. Following the
6 same principle, if there was some important information that couldn't
7 wait or that requested urgent action, then as far as the intelligence and
8 security organs in battalion were concerned, they would always report to
9 me. Of course it goes without saying that they would have to inform
10 about it their own commander.
11 Q. Now, the Trial Chamber has heard testimony about on the one hand
12 the command lines that we spoke about a little bit earlier running
13 through the commander of the brigade as opposed to the professional or
14 expert lines which in your case would run through the security and
15 intelligence organs, both up and down through the subordinate and
16 superior commands. Can you tell the Trial Chamber who was your immediate
17 superior? To whom did you directly report?
18 A. In the command and control chain, my immediate and direct
19 superior was Vidoje Blagojevic, the brigade commander.
20 Q. And who was your first superior officer when it came to matters
21 of professional management and expertise in the field of security and the
22 area of security matters?
23 A. My immediate superior along the professional or expert line was
24 the chief of the intelligence and security department in the Drina Corps
1 Q. And in July 1995 who was that, sir?
2 A. Performing the duty of the chief of security, and if I'm not
3 mistaken about this, but I'm not 100 per cent sure, chief of security was
4 Vujadin Popovic, while the chief of the intelligence sector was
5 Lieutenant-Colonel Kosoric. That's what I thought at the time, and I
6 also think this right now, that as head of that sector it was Vujadin
7 Popovic who was performing those duties.
8 THE INTERPRETER: Could the witness's microphones be adjusted in
9 such a way that it's sort of pushed to the left a little bit more.
10 JUDGE FLUEGGE: The court usher should assist the witness with
11 the microphones, please.
12 I hope it's now better for the interpreters.
13 Please continue.
14 MR. THAYER:
15 Q. And can you give the Trial Chamber an idea of the sources of
16 intelligence or security information that would flow to you, for example,
17 up from the battalion level. What were some of the sources of that
19 A. As I already stated, every infantry battalion had assistant
20 commander for intelligence and security affairs. Information collected
21 in the battalion were mostly directed towards what was going on in front
22 of the front end of the battalion. Every battalion had its subordinate
23 units, companies and platoons, and within those subordinate units they
24 would have so-called observation posts. Those posts were manned by the
25 observers from those subordinate units that comprised the battalion. So
1 information about what was going on in front of their own units was
2 collected in this particular way, by observation.
3 Further on, in the Bratunac Brigade they had the practice of
4 engaging reconnaissance units to gather intelligence information about
5 the enemy activity. This means that those reconnaissance units would be
6 sent into the depth of the territory to perform reconnaissance duties
7 within the territory controlled by the enemy, that is the Muslim forces.
8 General information of intelligence nature was also collected by
9 interrogation of the captured persons and also by interrogation of the
10 persons who switched sides. There were such people as well.
11 So now I'm talking mostly about intelligence information that is
12 important for the security of one's own unit and also information that
13 could point to the forthcoming plans of the opposing side, I mean the
14 Muslim side and their offensives or incursions of certain groups from
15 their side. Such information would end up with the assistant commander
16 for intelligence and security affairs at the battalion level, and then at
17 the end of the day the assistant commander would forward this information
18 to me. It was mostly them who would come because all those commands
19 except for the 3rd Battalion were actually quite close. So they would
20 literally come to me and tell me about it.
21 Now, all this intelligence information that came into my hands
22 came along this professional or expert line. Other information that
23 would -- that certainly of the same kind would also go along the command
24 and control line, which means that the assistant commander in the
25 battalion would tell that things to his commander and then the commander
1 would, along the normal reporting line, inform the brigade commander
2 about this, which means that in his daily report he would provide a more
3 detailed intelligence information of the same kind that I just explained.
4 Q. Was there any priority in terms of to whom you yourself would
5 report first when you had a -- for example, a piece of noteworthy
6 intelligence information. Would you typically inform your commander
7 first? Would you inform your professional expert superior officers
8 first? Or can you not answer the question in that fashion and answer it
9 in some other way? Was there any priority? Was there any rule that you
10 followed with respect to whom you would first pass on this information?
11 A. I can only answer this question by telling you how I used to do
12 these things. Everything that I received as new intelligence or
13 everything that I planned to inform my superior command about, and
14 especially if it pertained to the units of my brigade which it usually
15 did, I would first of all report about all this to my commander usually
16 verbally. Sometimes I didn't give any written reports to my own
17 commander. And then immediately after that, if that was a relevant or
18 urgent information, I would sit down in my office and write a written
19 report to my superior command. By that I mean my expert organ which was
20 the security and intelligence department within the corps.
21 Q. And two related questions to follow-up on that, sir. This may
22 sound very obvious to you, but what was the purpose of passing on this
23 information, reporting on this information, for example, intelligence
24 information, to your commander?
25 A. Well, my commander has to have all the information of this kind,
1 I mean here the intelligence. That is the only way for him to make his
2 decisions in a timely manner. He has to know what is going on or what is
3 about to happen in order for him to pre-empt such things by introducing
4 measures which will eliminate surprises or losses. So in order for him
5 to make correct decisions about the future action, about the future
6 behaviour, about the future engagement of forces, he absolutely has to
7 have intelligence information, especially those related to the activities
8 and intentions of the opposing side.
9 Q. And the second related question is, again, what was the purpose
10 of sending this type of information up your professional or expert line
11 to Mr. Popovic or Mr. Kosoric?
12 A. I can answer in the following way. The corps command does not
13 have just one brigade. The zone of the responsibility of the corps
14 command is much wider than the zone of responsibility of the brigade.
15 The zone of responsibility of the corps is comprised by the various zones
16 of responsibility of the units which comprise the corps. So the corps
17 commander can only make his decisions at the corps level, which is a
18 higher level, if the corps command receives information from all the
19 units which comprise the corps. So if the intelligence department
20 receives information during the day from my brigade, from Zvornik
21 Brigade, from Visegrad Brigade, then they are going to have a sufficient
22 fund of information on which they can base correct decisions about future
23 actions in which areas the corps command will have to put a special
24 emphasis on their actions.
25 So to put simply, based on the information that will reach the
1 corps commander through the security and intelligence department of the
2 corps, the commander will be able to make relevant, informed decisions
3 about what will have to be done on that day or in some future period.
4 Q. And based on your work in the brigade and your experience in the
5 war as chief of intelligence and security affairs, how did the reporting
6 along the professional line, the expert line, proceed from the corps
7 level up? Did it proceed in the same fashion that you've described from
8 your battalions, to you, and then up to the corps, or did it proceed in
9 some other fashion?
10 A. I can only speculate about how it was done on those higher
11 levels. I can tell you that according to everything I know the reporting
12 would have to follow the same pattern up to the very top; whether in
13 actual fact it was like that, I wouldn't know.
14 Q. Let's talk a little bit about the military police platoon of the
15 Bratunac Brigade. You told us it was in a separate building from the
16 main command headquarters of the brigade. In July of 1995, who was the
17 commander of the military police platoon?
18 A. The commander of the military police platoon in July 1995 was
19 Mirko Jankovic.
20 Q. And who was Mr. Jankovic's direct superior officer?
21 A. When speaking about the command aspect, the immediate superior to
22 Mirko Jankovic was the Bratunac Brigade commander, Vidoje Blagojevic.
23 When we talk about the professional line, the immediate superior of the
24 military police platoon was I in 1995.
25 Q. If you would, can you describe for the Trial Chamber the
1 relationships between Commander Blagojevic and the military police
2 platoon and your relationship to the military police platoon. You've
3 described the command line versus your expertise line. Can you tell the
4 Trial Chamber what that means and how that actually operated in your
5 experience on the ground?
6 A. What I want to say here is the following. The military police
7 platoon is commanded directly by the officer of the unit or the
8 institution within which the military police platoon is situated;
9 specifically, in the Bratunac Brigade the military police platoon was
10 directly commanded and controlled by the commander Vidoje Blagojevic.
11 This as far as the command aspect. Vidoje Blagojevic in this particular
12 case is the officer who makes all the decisions related to the use of the
13 military police platoon.
14 Now, speaking about the professional aspect, the officer who is
15 the immediate superior of the military police platoon but only in the
16 professional aspect is the chief of the security and intelligence organ
17 of the brigade, and I was on that position in 1995. It was my duty to
18 ensure that the military police platoon was always ready for combat,
19 trained, and equipped and ready to perform police and other combat
20 assignments. As for the engagement of the military police platoon and
21 issuing orders about the use of the military police platoon, this was
22 within the express jurisdiction of the commander. The chief of security
23 or, more precisely, the chief of intelligence and security organ is the
24 person who proposes the use of the military police platoon to the
25 commander. So he says what he thinks about this use and how the military
1 police platoon could be used in the most efficient and relevant manner.
2 The commander does not have the duty to accept this proposal by
3 the chief of the intelligence and security organ. So he doesn't have to
4 but he could if he wanted to accept everything proposed by the chief of
5 intel and security sector. He can also disagree with everything proposed
6 and say, "This is what I actually decided."
7 Once the commander announces his actual decision, all other
8 discussion stops here, all proposals become irrelevant. Whatever the
9 commander decides, regardless of whether the proposal was accepted in its
10 entirety or just in part or not at all, he issues his decision. And
11 after this decision is issued, I as the chief of the intelligence and
12 security organ had the duty to enact whatever the commander decided. It
13 means that it was my duty to ensure that the police carries out this
14 particular decision in the best possible way.
15 JUDGE FLUEGGE: May I at this point in time put a question to the
17 To put it in non-military terms, would it be correct if I
18 describe this in the following way. The chief of intelligence and
19 security is responsible to prepare the military police for any action,
20 the equipment, and the staff, and make proposals to the commander of the
21 brigade; and the commander then is responsible to take decisions and to
22 issue orders. Is that correct?
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] What I understood from your
24 question regarding the preparation of the police, the preparation and the
25 training of the police is an ongoing assignment, meaning that the chief
1 for intelligence and security has an ongoing duty to maintain full
2 combat-readiness among the police, meaning that the police should always
3 be ready to carry out military police jobs primarily and other military
4 tasks that are commanded by the commander. That is the preparation of
5 the police.
6 If he so decides or if he says -- the commander can say that he
7 would like to use the police in a combat assignment. I as the chief of
8 police [as interpreted] - and this is how I used to do it - I tried --
9 actually, I did suggest to my commander what would be the best way in my
10 view to use the police in the implementation of that particular military
11 assignment. And after my explanation or my proposal the commander can
12 simply accept everything that I stated, saying, "Yes, the police will be
13 engaged in such and such an assignment in such and such a way." But the
14 commander can also say, "Following my proposal that, for example,
15 Mr. Nikolic, thank you for your proposal but I have decided to use the
16 police in that way."
17 When the commander decides to use the police force in a specific
18 way, I have to respect that and I have to make sure within my remit that
19 the commander's order is executed in the way that he planned. That would
20 be the job of the intelligence and security chief in this professional
21 aspect of managing the military police. All orders, all decisions along
22 the command line go at the -- from the level of the commander of the
23 military police to the brigade commander. The brigade commander is the
24 one who issues final orders to the police commander and not to the
25 intelligence and security chief.
1 Once a decision is made, the order goes directly to the commander
2 of the military police who commands the unit and carries out the task as
3 ordered by the commander. This is how I did it in my unit. I don't know
4 whether this is correct or not -- well, actually I think that this is all
5 in keeping with the rules on the use of the military police. Command and
6 control thus of the military police is regulated under Article 12 and
7 then the following one defines the professional control of the military
9 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much --
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] So Articles 12 and 13 relating to
11 the military police.
12 JUDGE FLUEGGE: There is one point remaining unclear for me at
13 least. You said you as the chief of security and intelligence were
14 making proposals to the command of the brigade, and the commander would
15 issue orders not back to you but directly to the military police. Is
16 that correct?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I said that he issued the orders to
18 the komandir of the military police, not to me. Thus, that is the
19 classic command and control of subordinate units. The immediate direct
20 command over the police is in the hands of the police commander, but in
21 the chain of command the direct control and command of the police lies
22 with the superior officer of the unit that it is a part of. And this is
23 defined in the rules of service of the military police Article 12. That
24 is where it is specifically defined who commands the military police.
25 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much.
1 Mr. Thayer.
2 MR. THAYER: Thank you, Mr. President.
3 Q. And, sir, when you just referred to the immediate direct command
4 over the police is in the hands of the police commander, who are you
5 referring to there?
6 A. I'm referring to the military police commander, Mirko Jankovic.
7 Q. Now, did Commander Blagojevic have the right, the authority, to
8 accept part of one of your proposals and reject others?
9 A. It's the discretionary right of the commander to accept or reject
10 proposals. So yes, he did have the right to accept it or not to accept
12 Q. And in your experience with Commander Blagojevic, were there on
13 occasion proposals that you would make that he would accept in part and
14 reject in part?
15 A. Rarely but it did happen.
16 MR. THAYER: Now, just so we have a clean record, at page 36,
17 line 25, and at page 37, line 1, Mr. President, there's a reference to --
18 we have in the transcript that the witness referred to himself as the
19 chief of police. The answer is:
20 "I as the chief of police - and this is how I used to do it - I
21 tried -- actually, I did suggest to my commander what would be the best
22 way in my view to use the police."
23 I don't know whether we've got a slip of the tongue or just a
24 translation issue or something else, but I just wanted to clarify with
25 the witness whether he intended to refer to himself as the chief of
1 police or something else in the answer.
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No. If it's in the transcript it
3 could have been a slip of the tongue. It's me, I as the head of the
4 intelligence and security organ. This is probably what I said or perhaps
5 I made a mistake, but what I meant to say was I as the chief of the
6 intelligence and security organ not as the chief of police.
7 MR. THAYER:
8 Q. Now, the brigade's military police platoon, was it further
9 divided into subunits?
10 A. You said "detachment." I heard "detachment." It's not a
11 detachment. The Bratunac Brigade had a platoon of the military police.
12 I apologise. The military police platoon numbered some 30 men. It was a
13 classic organisation and there were three squads in one platoon.
14 Q. And the three squads in this platoon that you just told us about,
15 what were their duties, sir, day-to-day?
16 A. They were engaged mostly on shifts on the bridge, on the Drina.
17 Then they had the check-point at Zuti Most, the Yellow Bridge, then they
18 had their regular police duties. They had regular duty hours at the
19 reception area before you would enter the brigade premises. And they
20 also carried out regular military police assignments such as bringing in
21 military conscripts that had left the unit wilfully and similar tasks
22 which they performed as part of their regular daily activities. Oh, and
23 I forgot one thing. They were also responsible for personal security for
24 senior officers, the commander, and some other officers, for example, the
25 brigade commander when these officials or officers were touring the units
1 in the field. In other words, they were constantly executing military
2 police assignments which at that time were occurring on a daily basis.
3 Q. And with respect to responsibilities that may not have occurred
4 every day or as frequently as these regular duties did, did the military
5 police platoon have anything to do with prisoners of war or refugees?
6 A. Yes. I can give you a general answer. All prisoners of war
7 captured by the Bratunac Brigade and who were brought to the
8 Bratunac Brigade were under the jurisdiction of the military police.
9 Q. And were you aware of any responsibilities towards refugees that
10 fell under your intelligence and security remit?
11 A. Talking about prisoners of war, if I understood your question
12 correctly, the duties of the intelligence and security organ and of the
13 police was -- were to take care of the prisoners of war. Other than the
14 duties that I mentioned above of the military police, they were also
15 engaged on escorting military -- prisoners of war when this was required.
16 Q. Okay. In connection with your work as chief of intelligence and
17 security affairs, did you use any particular rules or instructions?
18 A. You mean professional literature or rules covering intelligence
19 and security duties? If that's what you're thinking of, then I used
20 books or instructions and rule books dating from the Yugoslav People's
21 Army. These are mostly books dealing with intelligence support during
22 combat. The one that I'm referring to is from 1977 [as interpreted]. I
23 used also the rules of military police and also the rules of the security
24 organ. I think that's what it's called now or something like that. In
25 any case, all the rules that I used were rules that were used in the
1 former JNA and we adopted them in the VRS.
2 Q. Okay. Let's take a quick look at a couple of them.
3 MR. THAYER: If we could have 65 ter 390. I think this may also
4 be D00203.
5 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Gajic.
6 MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I would like to greet
7 everybody. On page 41, line 15, the year is 1977. I think that the
8 witness said another year actually ten years later.
9 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Thayer, would you please clarify that.
10 MR. THAYER:
11 Q. Sir, the book that you referred to dealing with intelligence
12 support during combat, what year do you recall that being published?
13 A. 1987.
14 MR. THAYER: And I thank the Defence for that intervention.
15 And in the English if we could advance -- there we go.
16 Q. Sir, on the screen we've got a cover of a book. Do you recognise
17 what this is?
18 A. Yes. This is the rules of service of security organs in the
19 armed forces. And when I was talking about that earlier I said that I
20 used this rule.
21 Q. Okay. Let's move on to another document, and this is P01297.
22 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Thayer, are you tendering the document on the
23 screen? No?
24 MR. THAYER: Mr. President, I believe that's already an exhibit.
25 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Oh, yes.
1 MR. THAYER: I think it's --
2 JUDGE FLUEGGE: It's a Defence exhibit.
3 MR. THAYER: It's a Defence exhibit.
4 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much, yes.
5 MR. THAYER: And if we could just go a couple more pages in the
6 original, please. And one more. And we'll need to advance in the
7 English as well. It's going to be page -- there we go. If we could go
8 one more page in the English -- I'm sorry, and one more in the English.
9 It's going to be page -- actually page 2 in the English and if we could
10 also rotate the page in the B/C/S when you get a chance, please. Thank
12 Q. Sir, we've got a cover that's being blown up for you right now of
13 another document. Do you recognise what this is?
14 A. Yes. This is rules of service of the military police.
15 Your Honours, I would just like to say a word about what you asked me
16 about. On the basis of this rule - which is the one that I used during
17 the war - and in this rule of the military police is where what I was
18 talking about earlier about command and control of the military police
19 and the expert professional part of command and control of the military
20 police is contained in this particular rules of service and this is what
21 I was working under.
22 MR. THAYER: And actually, if we go to page 10 in the English
23 we'll be looking at paragraphs 12 and 13, and in B/C/S that's page 9.
24 Q. Sir, you just referred the Trial Chamber's attention to these
25 instructions, and we are now looking at paragraphs 12 and 13 of chapter 2
1 under the heading "Command and Control of the Military Police."
2 Paragraph 12 states that:
3 "The officer in charge of the military unit and institution
4 within whose establishment the military police unit is placed or to which
5 it is attached commands and controls the military police."
6 Now, to tie this in to what you were talking about before, in
7 paragraph 12 who are we talking about, sir?
8 A. Paragraph 12 specifically means Commander Blagojevic and the
9 Bratunac Brigade. Thus, Commander Blagojevic is the person who commands
10 and controls the military police, the military police platoon, because
11 that platoon is part of the Bratunac Brigade.
12 Q. And if we look at paragraph 13 it states:
13 "With respect to speciality, the officer in charge of the
14 security body of the unit or institution within whose establishment the
15 military police unit is placed or to which it is attached controls the
16 military police. He makes suggestions to the officer in charge of the
17 military unit or institution on the use of military police units and is
18 responsible for the combat-readiness of the military police unit and the
19 performance of their tasks."
20 So in this paragraph, paragraph 13, in your brigade who does this
21 refer to?
22 A. Paragraph 13, professional control of the military police
23 platoon, that refers to me.
24 Q. Okay.
25 MR. THAYER: Now if we could go to page 15 in the English,
1 please, and I think this will be page 13 in the B/C/S. And -- sorry, my
2 mistake. We need to go back because I want to catch the heading of this
3 chapter and that's at page 12 of the English and page 11 of the B/C/S.
4 My apologies.
5 Q. Sir, I just want to take you to the heading of this particular
6 chapter. We're going to look at a paragraph, specifically paragraph 25
7 of this chapter in a moment, but just for the record I wanted to put this
8 chapter heading up. We can see it's chapter 3, "The Jurisdiction and
9 Tasks of the Military Police." And then at number 2, if you can see
10 number 2 --
11 MR. THAYER: We'll have to go down, we'll go to the next page, I
12 think, in B/C/S, unless it's right at the bottom or if we can scroll
13 over maybe -- oh, it's a double page. Yeah, if we can scroll over to the
14 right in the B/C/S I think we'll catch it. There we go. Thank you.
15 Q. We can see number 2 is headed "The Tasks of the Military Police."
16 Do you see that, sir?
17 A. Yes, I do.
18 MR. THAYER: Okay. Now if we could go to page 15 in the English
19 and page 13 in the B/C/S, please. And we'll need to focus on paragraph
21 Q. We can see that:
22 "In addition to the tasks from items 22 to 24 of this rule, in
23 war time the military police also execute the following tasks ..."
24 And then we can see letters A through I. If we could focus for a
25 moment on paragraph 25(f). Sir, do you see subparagraph (f)?
1 A. Yes, I do.
2 Q. Can you tell us what this refers to and how it falls under your
3 remit as chief of intelligence and security affairs?
4 A. Well, I'm not quite sure. It says taking part in directing the
5 movement of refugees. In principle, yes, that was one of the tasks of
6 the military police platoon, whereas the chief of intelligence and
7 security organ in the course of preparation of documents and proposing
8 measures to the commander suggests in which areas refugees and other
9 persons should be rounded up. That is something that I know for sure,
10 and I know that that was how it was done and that that was according to
11 the rules.
12 Q. Okay. And how about the second part of subparagraph (f) that
13 refers to "... and uncover any members of enemy units who have
14 infiltrated the refugees ..."
15 How would that general task of the military police platoon fall
16 under your role and responsibilities? What interest would you have in
17 that? What role or responsibility would you have with respect to
18 "uncovering members of enemy units who have infiltrated the refugees"?
19 A. Well, I don't know. Let me tell you this. It seems to me this
20 issue in the context that you put it is a hypothetical question. If
21 you're asking me about specific dates, then we can speak about that. But
22 as it is, I can say that it is possible and what is stated here is
23 definitely one of the tasks of the military police when directing the
24 refugees. As for the latter part of this statement relating to enemy
25 formations infiltrating refugees, in theory that is possible. However, I
1 think that infiltration by military personnel of refugee groups, I'm not
2 quite sure that these things are happening in reality.
3 A person who is fit for military service and is a soldier can be
4 among refugees, it's all right. But a soldier with a rifle -- well, it's
5 not quite clear to me why should such a person merge with the civilians
6 who are going to be escorted by the military police and what was he
7 supposed to do. So if we are talking about able-bodied men amongst
8 civilians that is something which is quite normal and that is something
9 that I myself witnessed in the aftermath of the fall of Srebrenica.
10 Q. Okay. And we'll talk about what happened to able-bodied men as
11 you saw them after the fall of Srebrenica. Let's focus for a moment if
12 we could on (h), subparagraph (h). What can you tell us about this
13 paragraph in terms of how the military police platoon operated?
14 A. The military police of course takes part in securing POWs and POW
15 camps as well as other facilities for temporary detention of prisoners.
16 The military police is only one of the segments or units or structures
17 that in these specific cases would take part in securing the prisoners
18 after the Srebrenica operation. So the role and the obligation of the
19 intelligence and security organ is quite clear, as is the role of the
20 police when it comes to physical security of the prisoners and the
21 facilities in which they are detained.
22 Q. Okay. Let's look at one more paragraph in these instructions,
24 MR. THAYER: If we could go to page 21 of the English, and this
25 will be page 19 of the B/C/S. And we'll be focusing on paragraph 54 if
1 we could.
2 Q. Sir, do you see part 4 under the heading or the heading "Escort
3 Service" in paragraph 54 under that heading?
4 A. Yes, I do.
5 Q. Okay. And if you could also just read paragraph 55 to yourself
6 and then we'll turn the page in both versions.
7 MR. THAYER: And if we could turn in the English we'll pick up
8 paragraphs 55 through 57.
9 Q. And just let us know when you're ready to turn, sir.
10 A. [In English] It's okay.
11 Q. Okay.
12 MR. THAYER: If we could turn in both versions, please.
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, I have read it.
14 MR. THAYER:
15 Q. And can you tell us what this is about and how it relates to the
16 activities of the military police platoon of the Bratunac Brigade in your
18 A. Well, these two articles clearly show who is escorting whom and
19 under whose orders. It demonstrates these kind of relations. In this
20 specific case if we talk about the military police, after
21 Operation Srebrenica escorted the captured Muslims or those who
22 surrendered and placed them under the jurisdiction of the military
23 police. They also had an opportunity to escort soldiers, members of the
24 Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, that had been captured by the
25 Bratunac Brigade; and roughly speaking, those were the activities
1 relating to the prisoners. If it at all could be classified under this
2 heading, they were also in charge of escorting and securing convoys that
3 were travelling from Bratunac to Zvornik. So this is the widest context
4 into which I can put everything that is stated here.
5 Q. Okay. And if we look at paragraph 57, sir, it states that:
6 "The military police may also, upon a special order, escort
7 prisoners of war."
8 And just picking up with what you were saying a moment ago with
9 respect to what the military police platoon of the Bratunac Brigade was
10 engaged in following the fall of Srebrenica, do you recall whether there
11 in fact was a special order; and if so, who did the order come from? Or
12 was there not a special order to your recollection?
13 A. Well, I don't know if I can call it a special order when it comes
14 to escorting POWs in the period after the fall of Srebrenica. In my
15 opinion, that was an ongoing task that the military police platoon had at
16 all times. The order to escort certain Muslim prisoners would be issued
17 by the unit the part of which the military police was. And this order
18 would specifically be carried out by the commander of the military police
19 platoon. What I know is that the locations where the prisoners would be
20 taken were determined by the corps command. So after the
21 Bratunac Brigade inquired about the location where the prisoners would be
22 transferred, the brigade command would receive orders from the corps
23 command and then the brigade commander would issue a command to the
24 military police platoon commander who would carry it out. If you would
25 like to know what my role was on behalf of the brigade, I received a
1 certain number of prisoners who were brought to the Bratunac Brigade HQ
2 and I take -- took care of all the legal aspects of this process in terms
3 of documents and papers. So the military police was involved in
4 escorting the prisoners of war in this way as I just described.
5 Q. Okay. And we will definitely talk a lot more about what happened
6 to the men who were separated in Potocari and the men who were captured
7 along the road and brought to Bratunac and then taken up to Zvornik. So
8 we'll have plenty of time to talk about that as well as other prisoners
9 who were taken following the fall of Srebrenica.
10 MR. THAYER: I think we're done with this document,
11 Mr. President, and I see it's already an Exhibit P01297.
12 Q. Now, sir, you mentioned if I recall correctly that the battalions
13 of the Bratunac Brigade had reconnaissance platoons within them?
14 A. I am not sure that they had reconnaissance platoons. I may have
15 said reconnaissance units, but as per establishment battalions have
16 reconnaissance squads. So that's strictly as per establishment and also
17 that was the situation on the ground realistically. Only one battalion
18 had a reconnaissance platoon and that was the 2nd Infantry Battalion, but
19 at the same time this platoon operated both as a reconnaissance unit and
20 as a sort of intervention unit as they used to call it.
21 Q. And professionally speaking in terms of expert management, who
22 would fulfil that role with respect to these reconnaissance units within
23 these battalions in the Bratunac Brigade? Who would provide the
24 professional or expert management of those units?
25 A. If you're asking me about the expert management at the level of
1 the battalion, my answer would be that that would be done by the
2 assistant commander for intelligence and security of the battalion. I'm
3 sorry, I don't know if you asked me about the brigade or the battalion.
4 I didn't hear you properly.
5 Q. No, I think you understood me well, Mr. Nikolic.
6 A. Very well.
7 Q. And can you tell the Trial Chamber why the reconnaissance units
8 would be placed under the expert management of the assistant commander
9 for intelligence and security of the battalion?
10 A. Well, quite simply for practical reasons. The assistant
11 commander after the battalion commander is the second most responsible
12 officer when it comes to the collection of intelligence and all other
13 information pertaining to the area of responsibility of the battalion.
14 In my earlier evidence I told you that one of the ways of collecting
15 intelligence was by engaging reconnaissance units, whether it be in the
16 area forward or even behind enemy lines. So that was the most compelling
17 interests to do this, which is to have the reconnaissance squad directly
18 connected to the intelligence and security organ and that is how it
19 functions when it comes to my -- how it functioned when it comes to my
21 If you allow me, Your Honours, I'd like to add just one thing in
22 order to fully clarify the relationship between the reconnaissance squad
23 and the rest of it. In units the functions of intelligence and security
24 are separated. The reconnaissance unit is directly subordinated to the
25 intelligence chief, whereas the military police is under the security
1 chief. However, in my unit where all these -- where all these two
2 functions were combined, the reconnaissance and the military police were
3 directly linked to the chief for security and intelligence, whereas in
4 the battalion it was directly subordinated to the assistant battalion
5 commander for intelligence and security. I think that would shed some
6 more light on this issue.
7 Q. Okay. Mr. Nikolic, let's turn to a slightly different topic for
8 a couple of minutes. I want to discuss another role or set of
9 responsibilities that you had in the Bratunac Brigade and that had to do
10 with your contacts with UNPROFOR. Can you describe for the Trial Chamber
11 what additional duties you had when it came to UNPROFOR, and particularly
12 the DutchBat peacekeepers who were there.
13 A. I'll do my best. So in addition to regular duties within the
14 purview of the intelligence and security chief, by virtue of an order
15 issued by the Drina Corps command I was designated to act as a liaison
16 officer between the Bratunac Brigade and in most cases members of
17 UNPROFOR, but not only UNPROFOR, that included all other international
18 organisations that were present in the enclave. I am specifically
19 referring to MOs, Doctors Without Borders, and other organisations and of
20 course when we talk about UNPROFOR I liaised with members of the Dutch
22 Q. And, sir, when you refer to the MOs, I take it you're referring
23 to the United Nations military observers?
24 A. Yes, yes, that's what I am talking about.
25 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Thayer, you only need one microphone.
1 MR. THAYER: Thank you, Mr. President. I'll keep that in mind.
2 Q. And, sir, did you have counterparts in the neighbouring VRS units
3 who performed this same liaison function as you were?
4 A. Yes. The neighbouring brigade was the Milic Brigade and the
5 officer -- the Chief of Staff of the Milic Brigade, Sargic --
6 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreters didn't hear the first name.
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] -- was the liaison officer.
8 Another neighbouring unit of the Bratunac Brigade was the Independent
9 Skelani Battalion, and in the area of Pribicevac where the command of the
10 3rd Infantry Battalion of the Bratunac Brigade is, and also the HQ of the
11 Independent Skelani Battalion, there was the so-called forward command
12 post -- no, I'm sorry, I meant the Pribicevac tactical group made up
13 of - according to my information - Colonel Vukota Vukovic and his driver.
14 That was the whole tactical group. Colonel Vukovic was an officer in
15 charge of maintaining contacts according, again, to what I know with the
16 other side on behalf of General Milovanovic [as interpreted]. However,
17 all his contacts - I am talking about Colonel Vukovic - dealt exclusively
18 with the Skelani Battalion and the Pribicevac area.
19 Now, to summarise, in the group were Colonel Vukovic Vukota,
20 Major Sargic, and Captain Vukovic, and we were in charge of liaison and
21 we all had our problems that we had to resolve in our respective areas.
22 MR. THAYER:
23 Q. Okay. I'm just noticing at page 53, line 7, sir, what we have
24 here on the screen on our transcript is you saying that Colonel Vukovic
25 was an officer in charge of maintaining contacts according, again, to
1 what I know with the other side on behalf of General Milovanovic. I just
2 want to make sure that that's what you meant to say.
3 A. I think I said General Zivanovic.
4 Q. Okay. I just wanted to make that clear for the record.
5 MR. THAYER: Mr. President, I think we're at the afternoon break.
6 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes, we must have our second break now and we'll
7 resume quarter past 6.00.
8 --- Recess taken at 5.45 p.m.
9 --- On resuming at 6.18 p.m.
10 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Please continue, Mr. Thayer.
11 MR. THAYER: Thank you, Mr. President.
12 Q. Good afternoon again, sir. We left off discussing your role as a
13 liaison officer with DutchBat and the other international organisations.
14 Focusing on DutchBat for a moment, please give the Trial Chamber an idea
15 of the types of topics that were raised at meetings which you had with
16 DutchBat representatives.
17 A. I can only speak in principle about it and tell you the topics in
18 general. The DutchBat, or rather, the representatives of the DutchBat
19 and I spoke mostly about the problems that occurred within and without
20 the enclave including the separation lines between the two opposing
21 sides. Furthermore, we often spoke about their demands and the problems
22 they were facing. We spent most time trying to solve the problems
23 arising from the incidents between the two opposing sides. Specifically
24 one of the biggest problems in this period while the DutchBat was present
25 in the enclave were the problems related to establishing peace and order
1 on the separation line and preventing incidents such as ambushes,
2 excursions from the enclave, sniping of the enclave and the population
3 within, as well as various ambushes, raids, and similar problems that
4 were related to the separation line and the situation in the enclave and
5 around it. So speaking in principle, this is it. If you have some
6 specific questions, I can of course elucidate.
7 Q. And when you refer to ambushes, excursions from the enclave, and
8 raids, what are you referring to, sir?
9 A. I'm going to speak now only about the separation line where the
10 units of my brigade were engaged, the 1st, 2nd, 3rd Infantry Battalion,
11 and later on in a certain phase a battalion from the Zvornik Brigade. So
12 this separation line - I'm guessing now - but it was at least 20, 25, and
13 even maybe 30 kilometres long. The part covered by the battalions from
14 my brigade and later on, of course, the Zvornik Brigade. And on such a
15 long line always, or rather, not always but very often you had incidents.
16 Somebody would approach the line from the enclave, go towards the Serbian
17 positions, open fire, sniper fire, and kill Serbian soldiers.
18 Also on the other side - and I'm still talking about the zone of
19 responsibility of my brigade - the Serbian Army had direct contact with
20 certain settlements, including Potocari and other villages. And there
21 were also -- there was also sniper activities, activity from the position
22 of my brigade which would end up in wounding of certain people. A large
23 number of this sniping activity was random and wanton without any
24 specific target, which means that the targets were not only those people
25 who had to be targets, people who carried arms, but also civilians who
1 were tending their fields or maybe working around their houses. And in
2 all these situations, regardless of the motive, the representatives of
3 the Dutch Battalion and I would meet and then try to resolve those issues
4 so that those incidents would be minimised.
5 Q. And do you recall any of the DutchBat representatives complaining
6 to you about raids that were bigger than, as you said, perhaps one Muslim
7 soldier getting near a line and sniping somebody? Do you -- did you ever
8 complain -- pardon me. Did DutchBat ever complain to you -- or -- sorry.
9 Did you ever complain to DutchBat about larger groups of Muslim fighters
10 leaving the enclave to target Serb targets outside the enclave? You
11 spoke about cases where perhaps one Muslim soldier would engage in
12 sniping close to the line. Do you recall any occasions when you
13 complained to DutchBat about larger groups conducting raids or ambushes?
14 A. I can answer in affirmative. I complained every time when I had
15 a reason to do so. I can quote individual cases right now. I remember
16 some of them but not all of them of course. But of course whenever there
17 was reason to complain, I requested the DutchBat to discuss those
18 problems so that we could try to find a way to prevent similar
19 occurrences, and there were cases like that indeed.
20 Q. You made reference in your earlier answer to the
21 Zvornik Battalion. Can you just tell us what you were referring to when
22 you mentioned the Zvornik Battalion?
23 A. I was referring to the battalion which was engaged during a
24 certain period of time around the enclave. I'm not sure about the exact
25 time-period. I don't know the date on which this battalion arrived. I
1 can only assume on whose orders it arrived. I don't remember the
2 details. I know that they were engaged on a segment that was in a
3 military sense rather unregulated. I'm talking here about the space
4 between the Bratunac and the Milici Brigade. In that space between those
5 two brigades, there was a certain area that was left uncovered. And of
6 course that was before the Srebrenica operation when the
7 Zvornik Battalion was engaged in this area and it remained there until
8 the very end of the operation until the fall of Srebrenica.
9 Q. And where were the soldiers from in the Zvornik Battalion?
10 A. I really don't know where they were from, but if they belonged to
11 the Zvornik Brigade, then I can only assume that this battalion was
12 manned by the personnel from the Zvornik municipality. I assume that
13 they were military conscripts from that municipality.
14 Q. And when they operated in this space, were they resubordinated to
15 the Bratunac Brigade?
16 A. Yes, they were in command sense and in the logistics sense. They
17 were resubordinated to the Bratunac Brigade. I know that they attended
18 the briefings and I know that their logistics support was provided from
19 the logistics base of the Bratunac Brigade.
20 Q. Okay. During your contacts with the DutchBat representatives,
21 did you make known to them what your position and function was in the
22 Bratunac Brigade, that is, chief of intelligence and security affairs?
23 A. No, not really. I never told them what my function was.
24 Sometimes we would joke together about it. They would try to guess what
25 my function was and I never told them what my real function was. They
1 thought that I was the Chief of Staff of the Bratunac Brigade and I
2 didn't deny it and I also didn't confirm it.
3 Q. And -- sorry, please continue.
4 A. However, at the same time they didn't tell me their functions.
5 They were not honest with me. I found that out only later. I didn't
6 know exactly what they were doing.
7 Q. And what was the reason that you didn't confirm or deny what your
8 true function was in your brigade?
9 A. Well, I don't know. To be honest, I don't know that even now. I
10 simply thought that there was no need and no reason to brief each other
11 what exactly we do in our own units. I simply thought that to be honest
12 that it would be easier to perform my work and easier to maintain those
13 contacts if that was a little secret. It wasn't anything special really.
14 I wouldn't be able to tell you even now why it was like that.
15 Q. I want to turn your attention now to the attitude of the
16 Bratunac Brigade command prior to 1995 towards the Muslim population in
18 MR. THAYER: Before I do that, though, I would just invite the
19 Trial Chamber before I move into this new area we've covered obviously a
20 lot of background, various issues concerning formation, duties,
21 responsibilities, and if any members, Mr. President, of the Trial Chamber
22 have any questions perhaps now is a good time. If not, I'll just keep
24 JUDGE FLUEGGE: At that point in time there are no questions by
25 the Chamber. Please continue.
1 MR. THAYER: Thank you, Mr. President.
2 Q. Now, sir, prior to 1995 were you personally aware of any
3 statements by the Bratunac Brigade commander pertaining to the Muslim
4 population in the Srebrenica enclave and what the objectives of the
5 brigade would be towards the population? And I'm referring here to
6 Commander Ognjenovic.
7 A. Yes. The interpretation that I received was whether I was aware
8 of the statements, but since you mentioned Commander Ognjenovic I'm going
9 to tell you that it is not about a statement but about information, a
10 memo, wrote by Lieutenant-Colonel Ognjenovic and that relates to the
11 issues that you refer to in your question. Of course I am aware of that
13 Q. Please tell the Trial Chamber about that.
14 A. This is a memo entitled information dating from 1994 written by
15 my then-Commander Lieutenant-Colonel Ognjenovic. As far as I can
16 remember, in this information he wrote an opinion about the situation in
17 this area and among his views and positions there was also his view about
18 the inhabitants of the enclave. He says that everything that could
19 ensure that the life becomes unbearable there should be done. I'm now
20 paraphrasing. I cannot give you an exact quote. He basically said that
21 the life in the enclave should become unbearable so that the Muslims
22 would leave the enclave because of that situation.
23 Now, I don't know exactly on whose request and on the basis of
24 what this information was written; however, I do know that
25 Commander Ognjenovic drafted in a more detailed way this information
1 together with the members of the command of the Bratunac Brigade,
2 including the battalion commanders who attended that meeting. That means
3 that all people present at the meeting were briefed about the contents of
4 this information. And then after that Lieutenant-Colonel Ognjenovic
5 issued an order stating that every battalion commander should brief all
6 other officers in the battalion on the contents of this information.
7 After that, the company commanders should brief all the soldiers
8 in the battalions which were stationed at the separation line. As far as
9 I know - and I know this for sure - all members of the Bratunac Brigade,
10 which means all the officers and all the soldiers, were briefed about the
11 contents of this information which had been written before that in the
12 Bratunac Brigade command.
13 Q. Well, let's take a look at this document, sir.
14 MR. THAYER: And it's 65 ter 2364. And if we could have
15 paragraph 1 in both versions blown up just a little bit, please. Thank
17 Q. Sir, do you see a document on your screen?
18 A. Yes, I can see it.
19 Q. And can you read it okay?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Can you tell us what this is on the screen?
22 A. Based on what I can see in front of me, I think this is the
23 information that I described earlier. This is the information dating
24 from 1994 which was intended for the members of the Bratunac Brigade
25 because here in the subject line you can see -- in the heading you can
1 see the brigade name.
2 Q. And we can see that it's dated the 4th of July, 1994, and
3 there's -- on the right it says "Jedinici" and something is written in
4 there. Can you tell us what that means, sir?
5 A. Yes. This is the 3rd Infantry Battalion. This is the
6 abbreviation for it.
7 Q. Now, if we look at paragraph 1 it starts out by saying:
8 "During his recent visit to our Corps Command, the Commander of
9 the VRS General Staff Main Staff indicated that he would soon visit some
10 of the Corps units, including the Bratunac Brigade ..."
11 And this reference to the corps command, what is that, sir, the
12 corps command?
13 A. The corps command is the first superior command for the
14 Bratunac Brigade, if that's what you're asking. It is of course superior
15 to all the units within the corps.
16 Q. And in July of 1994, do you recall where the Drina Corps command
17 was located?
18 A. In Vlasenica as far as I know.
19 Q. And in July of 1994, who was the commander of the VRS Main Staff?
20 A. The commander of the VRS Main Staff was General Ratko Mladic.
21 Q. Now, we see in paragraph 1, and I quote:
22 "This piece of information binds all units and brigade members to
23 carry out all the preparations in commands and units regarding
24 combat-readiness and to place it at the level our brigade is renowned
1 Can you tell the Trial Chamber what this is referring to, this
2 passage here at paragraph 1?
3 A. I can comment on what I can see here. The meeting was probably
4 in the command of the Drina Corps and the commander of the Main Staff was
5 present. I assume if I understood it correctly what you read out, he was
6 supposed to visit, among others, the Bratunac Brigade as well. So all
7 units are here ordered to keep the state of combat-readiness at the high
8 level so that the commander would find a proper situation when he comes
9 to visit.
10 MR. THAYER: Now if we could go to page 2 in both the English and
11 the B/C/S, please. And we'll need to scroll down in the English but we
12 can keep the B/C/S where it is.
13 Q. Now, sir, do you see in the original document where
14 Colonel Ognjenovic writes:
15 "We have won the war in the Podrinje but we have not beaten the
17 MR. THAYER: And we need to go to the next page in the English
19 Q. "We have won the war in Podrinje but we have not beaten the
20 Muslims completely, which is what we must do in the next period. We must
21 attain our final goal" --
22 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Please scroll in the other direction again. We
23 need the top of the page. Thank you.
24 MR. THAYER:
25 Q. "We must attain our final goal - an entirely Serbian Podrinje.
1 The enclaves of Srebrenica, Zepa, and Gorazde must be defeated
3 "We must continue to arm, train, discipline, and prepare the
4 Republika Srpska Army for the execution of this crucial task - the
5 expulsion of Muslims from the Srebrenica enclave."
6 Now, let me just stop there, sir, as -- the language that I just
7 read out in this report, that describes what sounds like military action
8 and as you stood as an officer of the VRS in 1994 and 1995 was there
9 anything wrong with trying to vanquish enemy forces?
10 A. I as an officer of the VRS see nothing wrong with militarily
11 defeating the opposing side or as we called them the enemy side. This is
12 a publicly declared military goal, and I can say as a soldier that there
13 is nothing in dispute about it.
14 Q. Now, Colonel Ognjenovic continues in this document and it's on
15 the same page in the original, the next paragraph he writes:
16 "There will be no retreat when it comes to the Srebrenica
17 enclave, we must advance. The enemy's life has to be made unbearable and
18 their temporary stay in the enclave impossible so that they leave the
19 enclave en masse as soon as possible, realising that they cannot survive
21 Tell the Trial Chamber, sir, what this message is that's being
22 communicated by Colonel Ognjenovic to the members of the
23 Bratunac Brigade.
24 A. You know, I could go on commenting this information for three
25 days. I could give you comments on every word, every sentence. And in
1 part I would agree with it and in some other part I would be absolutely
2 opposed to what is written here if I didn't know what happened later with
3 the Srebrenica enclave. However, since I do know what happened, since I
4 know what problems I had because of this information, that is why I can
5 openly say that I do not agree at all with a single word that we can find
6 here that relates to the Srebrenica enclave and the activities that have
7 to be performed.
8 Why do I disagree? The reason is simple. During this period
9 there was insistence on trust and co-operation with the DutchBat and the
10 Dutch forces which were forces for the protection of the enclave. And
11 our obligation - by that I mean the obligation that our Serbian side had
12 taken upon ourselves -- and I would always talk about this obligation
13 when I would come to meetings - was that there should be no change of the
14 borders of the enclave, that there should be no attacks, that there
15 should be no combat activities, that neither UNPROFOR nor the Muslims
16 should be taunted, and I always insisted on that.
17 On the other hand, you have a person who is my superior, my
18 commander, and he writes a written document in which he requests that
19 everything that I use to solve with the DutchBat has to be denigrated and
20 he gives a green light to do everything that was forbidden in relation to
21 the enclave. And you see that the goal is to make the life of the people
22 in the enclave unbearable so that they would leave it as soon as
24 Now, I could understand and support Lieutenant-Colonel Ognjenovic
25 if he was talking about making the life of the enemy soldiers unbearable,
1 if he was trying to do this in a military way. However, here this is
2 obviously about the whole situation -- whole population of Srebrenica.
3 This means that no distinction was made between the civilians in the
4 enclave and others, and everything that was done also had negative
5 consequences for the civilians. And that's the problem with this
6 information. Here we can see that the violence was legalised, the
7 breaches of the cease-fire were legalised, everything that was the reason
8 for the presence of UNPROFOR was legalised. All those things that I used
9 to discuss in the meetings.
10 And I have to say to the Trial Chamber so that they would know,
11 the person who wrote this, he's a politician. Before the war he never
12 had any command, believe me. In my opinion, this is a political
13 pamphlet, vulgar, and arrogant, and this was sent to all the units. But
14 this cannot be justified. For me he was my commander at the time and
15 there is no justification for saying things like that simply because he
16 never held a command before.
17 Q. Let's go to page 6 and I'll ask you a few more questions about
18 this document, sir.
19 MR. THAYER: And that's page 3 in the B/C/S. I see we're at page
20 6 already in the English. Thank you. If we can focus on the very bottom
21 paragraph in the B/C/S.
22 Q. We can see just above Colonel Ognjenovic's signature and the
23 stamp of the brigade it says:
24 "Circulate this report among all Brigade members and have them
25 sign for it. Review the report in companies, morale assistants are to
1 introduce it in battalions while the Assistant for Morale, Religious, and
2 Legal Affairs is charged with introducing it in the Brigade Command and
3 Staff units, at the same time he will be held responsible for the
4 accurate interpretation of this report at the Brigade level."
5 Can you tell us how this language from Colonel Ognjenovic was
6 treated. What was done pursuant to this language?
7 A. If you're referring to the last paragraph, everything that is
8 stated here and ordered here was implemented. Commander Ognjenovic wrote
9 this information, then it was read out and debated at the meeting of the
10 brigade commander with the brigade command and battalion commanders in
11 more detail. That was followed by the assistant commander for morale and
12 religious affairs preparing a copy each for battalion commanders. So the
13 battalion commanders had this information and they reviewed it and
14 analysed it in their respective companies.
15 Q. Was the distribution of this report to the battalions and the
16 subordinate units treated as something that was optional, sir?
17 A. Well, I wouldn't say that. Each information or each order that
18 comes from a commander cannot be optional. That's how I understand it,
19 and what I read from this is that this is an order issued by the
20 commander about what is to be done with this information. As far as I
21 know, it was mandatory for this to be analysed both at the level of the
22 commands and the level of all the units and that is what was actually
23 done. I am not telling you anything off the top of my head. I know
24 exactly that this information reached the battalions and that they became
25 familiarised with it. The consequence of this information was total lack
1 of discipline along the separation line, the intensification of sniping
2 and other incidents happened as a result of this information. I used to
3 say that this information was just an alibi for the subsequent
4 intensification of sniping fire and all other incidents that happened.
5 MR. THAYER: Mr. President, I note that we're just a couple
6 minutes away from the end of the day. I have a new topic. In the
7 meantime, though, I'd like to tender this exhibit and it's 2364, 65 ter
9 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I would like to ask the witness the following.
10 We see here the name of Mr. Slavko Ognjenovic who signed this
11 document. You said he was a politician if I understood you correctly,
12 but we can see here that he was lieutenant-colonel. Was he also a
13 military man or can you help me to understand this, please?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I apologise. I may have created a
15 confusion here. Of course Lieutenant-Colonel Ognjenovic was an
16 active-duty military person. He was a brigade commander. However,
17 before he came to the Bratunac Brigade he worked as a lecturer I think in
18 the centre in Rajlovac. And according to what I know, he taught
19 political subjects such as Marxism and things like that. So that was the
20 reason why I described him as a politician rather than as a commander.
21 One should make distinction between the people who used to be in command
22 in peace time of battalions, companies, and other units and those who
23 were indeed professional soldiers but did not hold any position of
24 command of any unit before the war. And that is what I meant when I said
1 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much. That was indeed helpful.
2 Do you recall when Mr. Ognjenovic was appointed commander of the
3 Bratunac Brigade?
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I really don't know. That was
5 within the remit of the personnel service. He was appointed commander on
6 two occasions, so I really wouldn't like to try and guess. I really
7 don't know.
8 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much.
9 This document will be received as an exhibit.
10 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, 65 ter document 02364 shall be
11 assigned Exhibit P2158. Thank you, Your Honours.
12 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you.
13 Judge Nyambe has a question for the witness.
14 JUDGE NYAMBE: Thank you. Maybe I just refer to the person you
15 described as a politician rather than a commander. Do you know if he was
16 a trained soldier, military?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, that goes without saying.
18 All active-duty personnel, military personnel, including the things that
19 I know, I can say that Commander Slavko Ognjenovic was a military man who
20 had finished the military academy. Of course he undergone certain
21 training courses. However, I don't know what his speciality was and
22 whether there was any subject that he particularly studied at the
23 academy, whether he was focused or whether he majored in infantry or
24 artillery or communications systems or whatever. I really don't know.
25 JUDGE NYAMBE: Thank you for your answer.
1 JUDGE FLUEGGE: We have to adjourn for the day and we will resume
2 tomorrow morning at 9.00 in this courtroom.
3 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 7.03 p.m.,
4 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 5th day of
5 April, 2011, at 9.00 a.m.