1 Tuesday, 26 April 2011
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 2.29 p.m.
5 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Good afternoon to everybody in the courtroom and
6 to those listening to our procedures. Our apologies for the delayed
7 start, due to some unforeseeable circumstances.
8 The witness should be brought in. But to enable the witness to
9 enter the courtroom, we have to go into private session for a quite short
11 Closed session, please.
12 [Closed session]
17 [Open session]
18 THE REGISTRAR: We're in open session, Your Honours. Thank you.
19 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Good afternoon, sir. Welcome back to the
21 I have to remind you that the affirmation to tell the truth you
22 made at the beginning of your testimony last Thursday still applies.
23 WITNESS: NESIB SALIC [Resumed]
24 [Witness answered through interpreter]
25 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Elderkin, for the Prosecution, has more
1 questions for you.
2 Mr. Elderkin.
3 MR. ELDERKIN: Thank you, Your Honour.
4 Good afternoon, and to everyone else in the courtroom.
5 Examination by Mr. Elderkin: [Continued]
6 Q. Witness, the last question that I asked you on Thursday of last
7 week was whether you remember the time in July of 1995 when Srebrenica
8 fell, and you began to answer that there was talk about that; neighbours
9 came to visit your parents; they would mention that Srebrenica had
11 Can I ask you now to clarify whether any men who had fled from
12 Srebrenica arrived in Zepa?
13 A. Yes, in small groups. I don't know exactly how many they were,
14 but I heard that some people had come through the woods. Yes, that's,
15 more or less, it.
16 THE INTERPRETER: Could the witness please move closer to the
17 microphone and speak up.
18 MR. ELDERKIN:
19 Q. Sir, around that time in July of 1995, was there any shelling in
20 Zepa that you witnessed?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Could you tell us about that, please?
23 A. Every day, there was fire, and my mother mostly looked after me
24 so that I don't go out and come to harm. I was in a shelter near our
25 house and heard detonations daily. Well, it was an ugly experience.
1 Q. Do you remember or have any impression of the intensity of the
2 shelling on those days, how many shells were falling?
3 A. Yes. There were maybe about -- well, because I counted, you
4 know, when I was in the shelter, sometimes there would be five, sometimes
5 one, sometimes two hundred and fifty, you know.
6 Q. Was anyone in your village hurt in the shelling?
7 A. Yes, two persons who had left to fetch some food for lunch, but
8 they weren't seriously injured.
9 Q. Who were those persons?
10 A. One was younger and one was elderly.
11 Q. Were they men or women?
12 A. Women.
13 Q. And did your family leave your village at some point in July of
15 A. Well, no, they didn't go anywhere. My mother was there, and my
16 father too. He minded the livestock so that we wouldn't lose any,
17 because that's how we basically made a living, and so we tried to keep
18 them safe from the shelling.
19 Q. Did you ever go up and seek refuge at any place outside of the
21 A. Yes, but only when we would go to the field and gather some food,
22 such as potatoes or fruit and the like.
23 Q. And in that month, July of 1995, did you ever spend time in the
24 meadow area at Zvijezda?
25 A. Yes, yes. I don't know the exact date, but that territory of
1 Zepa was supposed to -- or, was expected to fall. We left off with my
2 sisters, my mother and father, to the Zvijezda Mountain.
3 Q. Where did you stay up at the Zvijezda Mountain?
4 A. There were some summer cottages there, or weekend houses, if you
5 will. We spent some time up there, maybe a week or two, but not more
6 than that. I don't remember exactly how long we stayed there.
7 Q. Was there any shelling while you were up there?
8 A. Yes, of course. Sometimes there was some shelling, but we were
9 always able to find shelter. There wasn't so much, though.
10 Q. Did you go somewhere after Zvijezda?
11 A. Yes, a courier came from down there and said to us that we should
12 withdraw to the centre of Zepa, where the school is and a fountain. And
13 we came down with my mother and sisters, and there were many people
14 gathered there for deportation, I believe, in the direction of Kladanj.
15 Q. Did your father come down to Zepa town?
16 A. No, he stayed up on the mountain.
17 Q. Do you know why he stayed away from the town?
18 A. Probably because he was a bit older, and he thought that where
19 the others go, that he could go as well.
20 Q. You said that there were many people gathered in the town in the
21 area where there was the school and the fountain. Can you give us, as
22 clear as you remember, your description of the scene that you saw down
23 there concerning the people who were there, the atmosphere, please?
24 A. Well, yes. There were mostly women, children. The atmosphere
25 was, of course, very tense because we were all surrounded by the Serb
1 soldiers, if I may call them that. And I stayed there with my mother and
2 sisters, waiting to be put on a bus to be deported, but then those events
3 happened. And one of the soldiers approached me, but I don't know his
4 exact name, and he simply asked me, Where are you going, sir? And I said
5 to him, I'm getting on the bus with my sisters and my mother to reach the
6 free territory. And then he said to me, Wait a moment here, and move
7 away from the bus. I didn't know why. I didn't know what he wanted.
8 And then I thought to myself, Good God, maybe this is my last day of
9 life, and I bid farewell to my mother and sisters and went back toward
10 Zvijezda Mountain to find my father, which I did. I stayed there with
11 him. I stayed maybe two or three days, thereabouts.
12 Q. Do you recall what was the manner of the Serb soldier when he
13 spoke to you? How did he speak to you?
14 A. Well, he was very unpleasant, unkind. I probably looked older
15 than my age, and maybe he thought that I was actually a soldier. And I
16 said to him, Sir, I'm very young, I only turned 15 on the 15th of July.
17 And he didn't believe me, I guess, and he said that I should step away
18 from the bus and wait until he returned.
19 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir.
20 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
21 I extend my regards to all those present and wish peace unto this
22 house, and may this day in court and the final judgement reflect God's
24 On page 4, line 23, the witness did not mention to which forces
25 the soldier belonged, he only mentioned a soldier, whereas Mr. -- but the
1 Prosecutor asked him whether it was a Serb soldier. Actually, the
2 Prosecutor put to the witness that it was a Serb soldier, whereas the
3 witness didn't mention to which army that soldier belonged.
4 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, perhaps you didn't hear everything
5 the witness said. He said:
6 "There were mostly women and children. The atmosphere was, of
7 course, very tense because we were all surrounded by the Serb soldiers,
8 if I may call them that."
9 That is exactly what the witness said, and Mr. Elderkin was just
10 referring to this explanation by the witness.
11 Mr. Elderkin, please carry on.
12 MR. ELDERKIN: Thank you, Your Honour.
13 Q. Sir, how did you feel when this Serb soldier addressed you in
14 such a way?
15 A. Well, I was very uncomfortable. I thought that this would be the
16 end of my life. I was only 15 years old, 15 years and 7 days, and I
17 thought this is the end. And I decided to go away, not to wait for him
18 until he returned. As I mentioned before, I bid farewell to my mother
19 and sisters, and then went back to find my father and the other men.
20 Q. Did you manage to find your father?
21 A. Yes, I found him very soon, after some five or six hours, because
22 that was how much I needed to get back there from the centre of town,
23 because the terrain was very rough and steep.
24 Q. And was he in the same area that you had left from with your
25 mother and sisters?
1 A. Yes, of course, he was there. We had some land up there, my
2 father owned it, and he was there with some men. I don't know exactly
3 how many, but it was a significant group.
4 Q. How long did you stay in that area with your father and these
5 other men?
6 A. I don't know exactly. Maybe two or three days, not more than
8 Q. Was there any shelling during that time?
9 A. Yes. There was frequent shelling, so that we kept in hiding to
10 protect ourselves from the shells. We sought shelter behind trees so
11 that nobody should come to harm.
12 Q. At some point, then, did you leave that area?
13 A. Yes, of course. We went in the direction of Poljanice, I think
14 the place is called. It's near Luke village. There was a meadow, quite
15 a large one, and most men were gathered there. There was quite a large
16 number of men.
17 Q. Do you know who had made the decision to move in that direction?
18 A. I don't know who exactly took that decision, but we were told to
19 walk toward Luke village and, more specifically, the Poljanice meadow.
20 There was a large number of men, and we spent the night there. Then we
21 went down to the Drina. The name of the place was Crni Potok.
22 Q. Was your father in the army or active in the defence of Zepa in
24 A. I don't know. I never saw him with weapons. He may have been,
25 but he never told me about it.
1 Q. And do you know if any of the other men in the group you were
2 travelling with may have also been involved with the army or in the
3 defence of Zepa in that year?
4 A. Well, probably, yes, but I didn't see anybody carrying arms in
5 that group. Probably, the people around them were so as to keep that
6 place, that meadow, safe.
7 Q. Were any of them wearing any kind of military uniform or
9 A. No, I really didn't see anyone. They all wore civilian clothes.
10 Maybe some of them did wear uniforms, I don't know, but I didn't really
11 see anybody amongst us wearing a uniform.
12 Q. You said you went down to the Drina River at Crni Potok. How
13 long did it take you to reach the river from the time you set off?
14 A. Well, two hours, maybe, because it's craggy and we also had to be
15 very careful so that we don't hurt each other accidentally by maybe
16 kicking a rock downhill or something like that.
17 Q. And is that two hours the journey time from the meadows at
18 Zvijezda or from the place where you grouped at Luke?
19 A. No, no. From that place near Luke, we took two hours to descend,
20 thereabouts, two hours, yes.
21 Q. And from Zvijezda to Luke, how much time was that journey?
22 A. Well, we moved at night, and it took us five to six hours, at the
24 Q. During this journey, was there any shelling?
25 A. Yes, of course, but, fortunately, nobody was hurt. And it was
1 night, too, so there was no visibility for them to target that specific
2 location more accurately. All the shells fell rather close, but none
3 actually hit the group.
4 Q. Can you describe to us how the river and the landscape is at
5 Crni Potok?
6 A. Yes. It's very bad. The river is in a canyon, and when you're
7 down there, you can only see the sky, nothing else, and, of course, the
8 rocky walls. That's part of the river canyon. I don't know where
9 exactly it leads, but it's very rough, and it's difficult to access it.
10 And people would stumble and fall rather often, and then, of course, we
11 would help each other out because there was no doctor or medical
12 assistance. It was very bad.
13 Q. Why had you gone to this difficult place on the river, rather
14 than to an easier location?
15 A. Well, we couldn't because all the other places were probably - at
16 least that's what I heard people say - exposed to sniper fire or
17 shelling, so we found the canyon. We thought the canyon was the only
18 route that we could take without anybody getting hurt by a shell.
19 Probably, one of our men said that we had to go that way.
20 Q. Once you got to the river, what happened?
21 A. Well, first some people built a raft for us to be able to cross
22 the river, because the distance was about 150 metres, I guess. This is
23 only an estimate. And the water I was also deep at places. So we
24 reached this spot by the river and moved on. Somebody would swim, others
25 would get on the raft. But the raft was only big enough to carry five or
1 six people, because we were all afraid that somebody might fall off and
3 Q. And how did you get across the river?
4 A. I swam across, holding on to the raft. My father was on the raft
5 because he couldn't swim, and I was there to help him, if necessary,
6 either me help him or him help me. But most probably it would have been
7 me helping him, because he couldn't swim, and I wanted to keep an eye on
8 him at least as long as we don't reach the other bank, whereas for the
9 remainder -- for the remainder of the time, it was mostly him who watched
10 over me.
11 Q. And how long did it take to get across?
12 A. Maybe some 15 minutes or so, because some people had already swam
13 across and there was a string or a cable that they used. One group
14 pulled the raft one way, and the others pulled it back. So the raft,
15 when it was full, it would cross one way, and then they would pull the
16 empty raft back to the bank where we had started off.
17 Q. And was there any shelling while you were crossing?
18 A. Not until the evening or at around dusk: There was shelling, but
19 not at the very location where we crossed, though. They probably
20 couldn't target that place directly, although I'm not very familiar with
21 that type of weaponry. In any case, there were shells falling around us
22 at distances of 50 to 100 metres from the place where we crossed the
24 Q. Where did you go after you crossed the river?
25 A. Towards Serbia. I believe the location is called Jagostica. The
1 terrain was also quite forbidding, and I heard some people from the group
2 say that we were heading for the border between Serbia and Bosnia.
3 Q. Did you reach the border?
4 A. Yes, of course.
5 Q. And what happened when you got to the border?
6 A. We were stopped by border guards, I believe, the military. I'm
7 not sure what to call them. Military border guards. They awaited us
8 there. They told us to come out, all of us, not to cause any problems,
9 and to leave whatever items we had on the meadow. There was a school
10 nearby, and that's where the meadow was in front of it. They searched us
11 there. They were rather fair. They said if we had jewellery or money,
12 to keep it with us, but that we should discard any sharp objects or
14 Q. The border guards who stopped you, which side of the border were
15 they on, on the Bosnian side or the Serbian side?
16 A. On the Serbian side, that's where we were stopped by the border
18 Q. And how many people had crossed over at that location?
19 A. Approximately 480, although I'm not positive. I didn't write
20 that down. So speaking from memory, I think there were some 480.
21 Q. And among those people, were there any other boys of around your
23 A. Yes, another two.
24 Q. Do you know what year they were born?
25 A. Yes. They were around my age, born in the 1980s, although I
1 don't know when exactly they were born.
2 Q. How about elderly people? Were there any old men in the group?
3 A. Yes, of course. I remember that there were three old men of
4 around 80 years of age.
5 Q. Had they also come across the river at Crni Potok?
6 A. Yes, of course.
7 Q. What happened after you had crossed the border and you said the
8 guards searched you?
9 A. Yes, we were searched there. They checked us, and the father
10 stayed by my side at all times, telling me that I shouldn't be afraid and
11 that they wouldn't hurt us. They had some machine-guns, I think, in
12 front of us, and again I thought I was counting my last moments and that
13 I wouldn't leave that place. I believed we were all going to be killed
14 there and then. Luckily enough, it didn't happen.
15 Some military vehicles arrived. They put us on them, and we
16 left, although I don't know where because by that time it became dark.
17 We drove for a while, and all I know is that early in the morning, an
18 officer who was there told us that we arrived in Uzice in Serbia proper.
19 Q. And did you spend some time after that in Serbia?
20 A. Yes. I spent I don't know exactly how many, but around 20 days.
21 From there, we were again deported to - what was it? - Mitrovo Polje,
22 near Vrnjacka Banja and Prus, that was the name of the place, I think.
23 Q. And, again, is Mitrovo Polje in Serbia?
24 A. Yes, of course it is.
25 Q. How were you accommodated?
1 A. There were some hangars or warehouses there. We spent two days
2 in them, and then we were moved to two school buildings, where we stayed
3 for a longer period of time.
4 Q. Were you ever registered by any official bodies; the Red Cross,
5 for example?
6 A. Yes, of course, the Red Cross registered us, although I can't
7 recall on what date. Perhaps a month and a half later is when they
8 arrived. They took our particulars and asked us some questions.
9 Q. When did you finally leave Serbia?
10 A. In November 1995. No, I don't know exactly. In winter-time, in
11 any case. I think it was in November.
12 Q. Where did you go?
13 A. I heard that we were to go to a place in Vojvodina where a prison
14 was. We waited there for two to three days, following which a group of
15 us was deported, including myself, to Australia, and the other was sent
16 to Europe and America.
17 Q. And at some point, did you return from Australia to Bosnia?
18 A. Yes, of course. No one asked me, because my father was with me
19 all along. If I had been of age, I could have decided to stay, but in
20 this situation I simply had to go back with my parent.
21 Q. Sir, I'd like to show you a map now of the Zepa enclave and ask
22 you to mark, for our information, some of the locations that you have
23 described to us.
24 Could we see, please, Exhibit P104 - that's the map book - and at
25 page 13 in e-court.
1 If we could ask for the Usher's assistance for the witness to
2 mark the map, please.
3 Sir, first of all, could I ask you to mark with a number 1 your
4 village, Pripecak?
5 A. It's here [marks].
6 Q. Then, please, could you mark the area of Zvijezda, where you fled
7 when Zepa came under attack after the fall of Srebrenica, put a 2,
9 A. [Marks]
10 Q. Could you then please show us the approximate route you followed
11 to get to the Drina River? So after you had been to Zepa town and back
12 again to Zvijezda, what route did you follow from Zvijezda towards the
14 A. [Marks]
15 Q. And at the point where you crossed the Drina, could you please
16 mark the figure 3?
17 A. [Marks]
18 Q. And, finally, if you could please continue the route to, roughly,
19 the point at which you arrived at the border with Serbia.
20 A. [Marks]
21 Q. And if you could mark the final point there with number 4.
22 A. [Marks]
23 MR. ELDERKIN: Those are all the markings that I require.
24 I would ask Your Honours if this marked exhibit could be entered
25 into evidence, please.
1 JUDGE FLUEGGE: This marked map will be received as an exhibit.
2 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, marked map under Exhibit P104,
3 map number 13, shall be assigned Exhibit P2189. Thank you.
4 MR. ELDERKIN: Sir, thank you very much.
5 Your Honours, I have no further questions at this time.
6 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much.
7 Mr. Tolimir -- first Judge Nyambe has a question for the witness.
8 Judge Nyambe.
9 JUDGE NYAMBE: Thank you.
10 At page 4, line 10 of today's transcript, you stated that:
11 "A courier came from down there and said to us that we should
12 withdraw to the centre of Zepa, where the school is and the fountain."
13 My question is: Who was this courier?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I don't know his name. This is
15 what my father told me. I don't know his first and last name, I really
17 JUDGE NYAMBE: Do you know where he was from?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I really don't.
19 JUDGE NYAMBE: Was he one of your people or from the other side?
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Of course, he was one of our
22 JUDGE NYAMBE: Thank you.
23 JUDGE FLUEGGE: And one follow-up question by me.
24 Did he wear a uniform, this courier?
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, Your Honour, I didn't see him.
1 My father wouldn't let me go out anywhere, so that no harm could come to
3 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Judge Nyambe.
4 JUDGE NYAMBE: Sorry, just one more question.
5 You stated that ultimately you left for Australia. Did your
6 father come with you?
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, of course he did.
8 JUDGE NYAMBE: Thank you.
9 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Sir, now it is the turn of Mr. Tolimir to put
10 questions to you during the cross-examination.
11 Mr. Tolimir, you have the floor.
12 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
13 I'd like to greet the witness and wish him a pleasant stay. May
14 this hearing be concluded in keeping with God's will and not my own. I
15 would like to greet everyone present.
16 Cross-examination by Mr. Tolimir:
17 Q. [Interpretation] Witness, tell us this, please: Why do you keep
18 using the term "deportation," when you crossed over into Serbia
19 voluntarily, where you also decided where to go onwards to Australia or
20 America? Is this use of the term accidental or is there a purpose -- is
21 there a reason why you use it?
22 A. No, sir. Someone decided, maybe from the ICRC, where the
23 deportation would take place. As for when we went to Serbia, we were
24 probably ordered by someone to do that. I really can't recall, though.
25 I don't remember saying or having been said anything of the sort. I'm
1 not ashamed to say what I know, but this is all I can tell you.
2 Q. Thank you. Did this group, including your father and you, know
3 that Serbia provided its consent for you to cross over, and that is why
4 the guards at the border did not open fire at you and you had no problems
5 getting across?
6 A. I really don't know. No one told me that. I don't know if it is
7 so or not. There was no one who could tell me anything of the sort.
8 Q. Thank you. During your examination-in-chief, you said that you
9 were ordered to go, and you repeated it a moment ago, you were ordered to
10 go to the river, and then across, and then to America, Australia, and so
11 on and so forth. Please tell us, since you were only 15 at the time, did
12 your father and older people know that your crossing over the Drina was
13 arranged with the authorities in Serbia?
14 A. I really don't know. I had no occasion to hear that. No one
15 told me anything of the sort, no one mentioned any agreement. I still
16 don't know whether there was anything. I don't know if anyone said that,
17 or if someone said that we had to go, or if there was an agreement or
18 treaty that was signed. I really don't know.
19 Q. Thank you. Did you know that General Smith, as UNPROFOR
20 commander, testified that following the London Conference, there were
21 talks between international community representatives and Serbian
22 authorities about your crossing over into the territory of Serbia from
24 A. I repeat, I really don't know.
25 Q. I can specify the transcript page. Mr. Smith said, at
1 page 11572, lines 12 and 13, I quote:
2 "Speaking from memory, I believe I had proof that people crossed
3 the Drina and entered Serbia at around that time."
4 And here he means the time when you were there.
5 Then, on page 11573, lines 11 and 12, he said:
6 "I wasn't concerned at the time because I understood that there
7 was a back door across the Drina to Serbia. That was the only way out
8 for the remainder of military-abled men."
9 Next, when I asked him in cross-examination at page 1168
10 [as interpreted] --
11 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's note: That's what the accused
13 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
14 Q. "... I don't remember ever receiving any proof, such as a list of
15 persons or similar. What I do believe or what I do recall is that I was
16 told that some people crossed the Drina to go to Serbia."
17 Then at page 11602, line 12, he said:
18 "I know that Carl Bildt was in charge of the talks. I knew of it
19 at the time. I knew that results were achieved and that it was possible
20 for people to cross the Drina."
21 He doesn't know who informed whom, but he also said that that
22 information was limited, that talks were underway, and there was no other
23 information that could be used at the time.
24 Having in mind all of these things that Mr. Smith said, I want to
25 ask you the following: A moment ago, you said you followed a canyon.
1 Did you take the canyon to take shelter and covertly cross over into
2 Serbia so as to remain unnoticed by the VRS in order to reach the
3 location which had been arranged for you to cross over into Serbia?
4 A. No. We were simply taking cover because there was shelling. As
5 I said, the shelling didn't last for long, though. We were simply
6 looking for a shelter so that people wouldn't be killed.
7 Q. Thank you. Since you put it that way, you also say that you were
8 ordered to go. Do you know it for certain that there was an order for a
9 secret passage to Serbia or were you free to go wherever you wanted to?
10 A. All I know is that we were in a group. As for any orders, there
11 may have been some, and you seem to say so, but I don't remember anyone
12 ordering anything. You mentioned Carl Bildt and some arrangements. This
13 may well be, but I'm not familiar with it. I didn't hear of such things
14 from anyone. I don't know of any agreement with Serbia for us to be
15 allowed to cross.
16 Q. Thank you. At page 11, line 3 today, you said:
17 "We left all sharp objects, but we were allowed to keep our
18 jewellery and money."
19 Did anyone take any valuables from you while you were in Serbia?
20 A. No.
21 Q. Were others taken any valuable objects while they were in Serbia?
22 A. I don't know. I cannot say either way. In any case, no one
23 complained. We were still in a group, and I didn't hear anyone say that
24 things were taken away.
25 Q. Thank you. If you followed these proceedings, did you hear some
1 of the witnesses who had crossed over to Serbia, that they were beaten,
2 mistreated, and items seized from them?
3 A. Yes, of course. One morning, when I came out in front of the
4 building where I was, I saw a man tied. We were just leaving for
5 breakfast in a tent nearby. He was tied to a tree. I don't know why. I
6 didn't know him, and I don't know who he is. I never saw him before.
7 Q. Thank you. Did you inquire with others what group he had come
8 from and why he was tied to the tree? Was it because of his conduct or
9 maybe because of his intentions?
10 A. I don't know. I didn't dare ask. I was afraid that the same
11 would be done to me, although I was still a child.
12 Q. Thank you. In line 3 -- page 3 of today's examination-in-chief,
13 line 2, you said that sometimes there were fire shells, sometimes one and
14 at other times 250, and you said a result of that shelling was that only
15 two women were wounded?
16 A. One of them was a girl and the other was a woman. As for the
17 shelling you referred to, it is true. In a minute or in a span of five
18 minutes, I could hear 30 or 35 shells. We were simply in a shelter, and
19 I couldn't go out.
20 Q. Thank you. Last week, on Thursday, on page 13221, the Prosecutor
21 asked you whether you knew a "hodja," and you said you did. He asked you
22 whether he attended any funerals, and you provided your answers. My
23 question is this: Was there another "hodja" in Zepa?
24 A. I knew him, and my father used to say that he was the only one.
25 Otherwise, I didn't have any contact with him.
1 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
2 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, you referred to page 13221, but the
3 transcript of that day didn't have so many pages. Please check the
5 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone.
6 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
7 I referred to page 13231. It was page 76, line 21 then, when
8 Mr. Elderkin asked whether the "hodja" performed any religious ceremonies
9 and rites, and he had Hamdija in mind. At page 76, line 16, the witness
10 said that his name was Hajric. I'm not sure I'm referring to the right
11 pages, though.
12 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Indeed, that can't be the right page. The
13 transcript of last Thursday ended with page 13153 and 154.
14 Mr. Elderkin.
15 MR. ELDERKIN: Your Honours, I do have a copy of the transcript
16 that does, indeed, cover the subject of the "hodja" at 13231, so it seems
17 that Mr. Tolimir does have the same source as I do. I would ask, though:
18 Where is the reference to Hamdija? I didn't see anything or hear
19 anything about anyone called Hamdija in the transcript last Thursday.
20 But in terms of the page numbering, that's what I've got.
21 JUDGE FLUEGGE: We have it now on the screen, and the page number
22 is correct you gave us. In my document on my screen, I have a different
23 numbering, but that might be a technical problem.
24 Please carry on, Mr. Tolimir.
25 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. Elderkin. So I
1 quoted page 13231, line 16. That's when Mr. Hajric said -- I may have
2 misspoken and said Hamdija. The witness Hajric told us himself that his
3 surname was Hajric.
4 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
5 Q. Do you know who Mr. Hajric was?
6 A. I really don't know. I heard about this "hodja," but whether
7 there was anybody else or something else, I really wouldn't know. I
8 haven't seen it. I didn't have any contact with that man.
9 Q. Thank you. Do you know who was the president of the
10 War Presidency in Zepa in 1995, in the time of the events that you
11 testified about here?
12 A. No.
13 Q. Thank you. Do you know that Mr. Torlak, the president of the
14 Executive Board of Zepa, on the 13th of August, 2010, in transcript 4543,
15 lines 14 to 22, said:
16 "As far as I know, Mr. Hajric was not a religious person in Zepa,
17 he did not have a religious function. He was a 'hodja,' but he wasn't a
18 religious leader. Before the war, he used to work in another village.
19 There was a 'hodja' in Zepa. He remained there during the war, and he
20 performed that function. As far as I know, he was 'hodja' in all
21 Zepce ..."
22 He's talking about Hajric here:
23 "... and when the war broke out, he arrived in Zepa. In any
24 case, he was not working as the 'hodja' of Zepa, because during the war
25 it was another person who performed this function. This other person
1 used to be in Zepa all the time, even before that. To put it simply,
2 Hajric did not perform this function in Zepa."
3 And then my question to Mr. Torlak:
4 "Did you work as 'hodja' while you were the president of the
5 War Presidency?"
6 And he replied at 5444, lines 2 to 3:
7 "No, never. That was his occupation, and he used to work as
8 'hodja' in a completely different place before 1992."
9 My question: Do you allow for the possibility that maybe you
10 don't remember the details about Hajric, about him being "hodja" and
11 performing religious rites? Did you maybe confuse two different persons?
12 Thank you.
13 A. I'm saying, once again, I don't know. That's what I heard. I
14 heard there was a "hodja." Whether it was Hajric or Torlak, I don't
15 know, I don't remember. I was a kid, and I was not allowed to go out. I
16 couldn't go out and gather information. I really cannot remember. I
17 didn't see those people. Maybe I just passed by, but I simply stayed for
18 the most of the time close to my mother. I was not allowed to go far
19 from the house.
20 JUDGE FLUEGGE: May I ask you: Do you know a person with the
21 name of Hamdija Torlak or did you know him at that time?
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, Your Honour.
23 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, please carry on.
24 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
25 Can we now have document P736. I'm going to ask questions about
1 Mr. Torlak and Mr. Hajric on the basis of this document. Thank you.
2 Thank you.
3 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
4 Q. You can see here a decision by the War Presidency of Zepa. It
5 says that all able-bodied men in Zvijezda, including you, should hand
6 over their weapons. You can see the first line:
7 "All able-bodied men from 18 to 55 years of age shall surrender
8 their weapons ..."
9 And so on and so forth, so that's their decision. And it's
10 signed. You can see -- you can see the names that I'm asking you about:
11 Mehmed Hajric, Hamdija Torlak, and Amir Imamovic. Thank you.
12 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Elderkin.
13 MR. ELDERKIN: Yes, Your Honour.
14 I just heard Mr. Tolimir refer to "all able-bodied men, including
15 you." We've heard the witness's evidence. I don't believe it's disputed
16 that he was a 15-year-old boy at the time, and I think that should be
17 very clear on the record, rather than including him in the group of
18 able-bodied men aged over 18 years of age.
19 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Can you help me? I don't see it in the
21 MR. ELDERKIN: In that case, I -- it was something I heard. I
22 also don't see it in the transcript, Your Honour.
23 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Then you should be satisfied.
24 MR. ELDERKIN: Thank you.
25 As long as it's clear on the record that it's not there. I
1 believe it was said, though.
2 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Perhaps, but it is not in the document. And, of
3 course, I didn't hear it and we have it not on the transcript. Thank
5 Please carry on, Mr. Tolimir.
6 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. Elderkin. I
7 apologise for my mistake. I never said that this witness was able-bodied
8 at the time. I said that he was 15 years old at the time. I'm showing
9 him this document to see whether he can remember the names of the people
10 who were the authorities in Zepa at the time when he was 15 years old.
11 First, we see "Mehmed Hajric," who was the president of the
12 War Presidency in Zepa. The second name is "Hamdija Torlak." He was a
13 member of the War Presidency and the president of the Executive Board of
14 the Municipal Assembly of Zepa. The third name is "Amir Imamovic." He
15 was a member of the War Presidency, and also he was in the
16 Territorial Defence.
17 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
18 Q. Sir, have you heard any of these names, and do you remember
19 anything that you might have heard about them?
20 A. I'm really sorry. I can't remember, no, which means that I don't
21 know. I don't know anything about this Torlak, or Imamovic, or Hajric.
22 I heard that there were some people like that, but I really didn't know
23 who or what they were.
24 Q. Thank you. I apologise that I must have written it down
25 incorrectly. On page 13297, that's what I wrote down:
1 "Hajric was the only 'hodja' that I heard about, but I had no
2 contacts with him. I met him only once or twice during the several years
3 of war."
4 That's what I wrote down, lines 23 to 25, transcript 3231, and I
5 apologise if I didn't write it down correctly.
6 A. You didn't write it down incorrectly, but I just can't remember
7 this particular man. I don't remember his face. You know, it was five
8 unfortunate years of war, and if you see this person once, this Hajric, I
9 heard that he was a "hodja." Whether he was the only "hodja" or whether
10 there was another "hodja," I really don't know. Maybe if there was some
11 funerals, they would call a "hodja." Whether they would call Hajric or
12 somebody else, I don't know.
13 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you.
14 Can we now take a look at 1D738. That's a statement that you
15 gave to the International Tribunal, ICTY. The statement is dated the
16 7th of November, 2008.
17 And while we are waiting for this, I would like the first page
18 not to be broadcast outside the courtroom. Can we go straight to the
19 second page. Thank you.
20 I'll repeat, once again for e-court, 1D738, 1D738.
21 JUDGE FLUEGGE: That must be a mistake. Perhaps you're mixing it
22 with another one. It's not to be found.
23 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you. I apologise.
24 Can we have 741, 1D741.
25 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, there is no need to protect this
1 document because the name of the witness is known, it's not under seal,
2 and there's only face distortion, as we discussed last week.
3 Please carry on.
4 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
5 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
6 Q. Witness, in your statement, page 2, the fourth paragraph, that's
7 the large paragraph beginning with: "Sometime ...," you said that you
8 remembered the day that you boarded the bus. And you said that the
9 soldier approached you, that he asked you something, and after that you
10 were afraid. That's what you said here. A soldier approached, asked you
11 where you were going, and you got scared. My question is: Are you sure
12 that it was a Serbian soldier who approached you, or was it maybe a
13 soldier belonging to the BiH Army, the person who was doing the boarding
14 of the buses?
15 A. It must have been a Serb soldier. Even if there were some
16 soldiers from our side, they were not able to come there and be on that
17 location. It's logical that Serb soldiers and BH soldiers could not have
18 been together at that time.
19 Q. Thank you. When you arrived, how many people were there in the
20 centre of Zepa, close to Fontana, and was it the first, the second, or
21 the third day of boarding the buses?
22 A. It was the first day. I can't give you a precise number of
23 people. There were too many of them. I can't give you a number. There
24 were buses there, and there were many people around them; women,
25 children, elderly people. I can't remember that. I didn't have time to
1 count them.
2 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
3 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Your microphone.
4 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I apologise, Mr. President.
5 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
6 Q. Did you see Mehmed Hajric, the president of the War Presidency,
7 close to the buses, or Mr. Kulovac? He was a doctor. You surely
8 remember him. Did you maybe see Avdo Palic or anybody among the people
9 who had some sort of official function in Zepa? Thank you.
10 A. No, sir.
11 Q. Thank you. Did you see anybody making lists of people who were
12 leaving in the buses so that later on it would be possible to establish
13 which people were supposed to arrive at the destination? Thank you.
14 A. There were probably some people like that, but I didn't look
15 around. I think there was one of the nurses there, and they were
16 probably making some sort of a list of people who were supposed to board
17 the bus. I had gone towards a bus.
18 Q. Thank you. Can you tell us whether you were registered as a
19 passenger of the buses going from Zepa to Kladanj? Thank you.
20 A. Probably, yes. As soon as I arrived there and tried boarding the
21 bus, there was a Serb soldier who asked me where I was going, and that's
23 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you. Since we are about to
24 take a break, I'm going to show you a film later so that you can see the
25 whole atmosphere and try to remember the things that I want to ask you
1 about. Thank you for all the answers that you have given so far.
2 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much, Mr. Tolimir.
3 Indeed, we need our first break, and we will resume quarter past
5 --- Recess taken at 3.48 p.m.
6 --- On resuming at 4.17 p.m.
7 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, I was told by the court recorder
8 that there is now a correction in the transcript in relation to one
9 quotation about able-bodied men from 18 to 55 years. And, indeed, you
10 are now recorded as having said, and I quote, myself, now:
11 "It says that all able-bodied men in Zvijezda, including you,
12 should hand over their weapons."
13 Now there is these words "including you" included, but I think
14 you apologised to refer to the witness as able-bodied man at that time.
15 That resolves that problem. We have it now on the record.
16 You should continue your cross-examination. Thank you very much.
17 Please carry on.
18 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
19 I apologise once more to the witness if I called him an
20 able-bodied man. I know he was only 15 at the time. We can re-confirm
21 by asking the question once more.
22 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
23 Q. Were you 15 years old at the time when the able-bodied men were
24 at the foot of the Zvijezda Mountain, and did you have weapons then?
25 Thank you.
1 A. No, sir, I didn't have any weapons, and the people around me
2 didn't have any either. At least I didn't see any carrying weapons.
3 Probably some of them keeping guard did have some weapons.
4 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. Thank
5 you, Witness.
6 Could this please be recorded in the transcript, that the witness
7 said that he didn't have any weapons. And I agree that at that time,
8 15-year-olds were not given weapons.
9 Could we now please see P740. It's a video --
10 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, you have used the OTP's statement of
11 the witness, 1D741. Are you tendering it or not? But you should
12 indicate what you want to do with it.
13 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you.
14 No, I'm not tendering it. I was only providing a reference to
15 arrive at this video-clip and at the time when the people boarded the
17 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you. That's fine.
18 Please carry on.
19 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you.
20 Now we see that it says "25 July 1995," the first day of the
22 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
23 Q. You said that you arrived on the first day and that you were
24 registered, together with your sisters, by somebody. Tell us, were you
25 registered by Serbs or Muslims, for us to know?
1 A. I don't know for sure.
2 Q. Where was the registration conducted; in front of the buses or in
4 A. I don't know. My sister went somewhere and returned soon. I
5 don't really know.
6 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I would like to ask both speakers not to overlap,
7 but to pause between question and answer and the next question, because
8 it's very difficult for the interpreters to catch everything if you are
9 exchanging your discussion very fast.
10 Mr. Tolimir, please carry on.
11 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
12 Could we now please see P740. That's a video-clip of the
13 evacuation of the population from Zepa on 25 July 1995. We want to show
14 the portion from 36:14 through 37:50. Thank you.
15 [Video-clip played]
16 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Please stop here. This is 43:36
17 [as interpreted].
18 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
19 Q. You see three Serb soldiers in front of this house. Can you see
21 A. Yes, of course.
22 Q. Can you see that right to the left of them, there are other
23 persons dressed in camouflage trousers and olive-drab shirts, wearing a
24 blue cap and camouflage uniforms, who are not armed? Do you know to
25 which army they belong or do you happen to know them?
1 A. No, sir, really.
2 Q. Could they be members of the VRS too?
3 A. Possibly. Maybe yes, maybe no. And the blue caps were caps as
4 worn by the UN; right?
5 Q. Yes.
6 A. I don't know. I can't remember that soldier, nor do I remember
7 these three.
8 Q. All right. Did any one of these three stop you?
9 A. I simply can't remember their face.
10 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you.
11 Let's continue watching the video-clip.
12 JUDGE FLUEGGE: For the record, we stopped at 36:43. It wasn't
13 recorded or translated correctly.
14 Please carry on.
15 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you.
16 Let us continue playing the video-clip.
17 [Video-clip played]
18 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Stop here, please.
19 JUDGE FLUEGGE: We stopped at -- we stopped at 36:49.
20 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
21 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
22 Q. Can you see this soldier, and is he a soldier of the VRS or a
23 soldier of the ABiH? Thank you.
24 A. I really don't know. I never met him, and I don't know him by
25 face either.
1 Q. But can you tell anything by the insignia, the uniform, the
2 weapons? Thank you. Here's my question: Would VRS soldiers come to
3 Zepa unarmed on the 25th of July? Thank you.
4 A. Well, they were probably armed. The one who stopped me was.
5 This one, well, I can't see whether he has any weapons on him. He's
6 carrying some bag, or a suitcase, or something. I don't know.
7 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you.
8 Let's continue playing the video-clip from 36:49 on. Thank you.
9 [Video-clip played]
10 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Please stop here.
11 We stopped the video-clip at 36:59.
12 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
13 Q. Do you know the man in uniform behind the blonde woman? We can
14 only see his head now, but a moment ago we saw him better.
15 A. No, sir, I really don't. I don't remember the face.
16 Q. Thank you. Do you know Avdo Palic, the commander of the
17 Zepa Brigade? Thank you.
18 A. I have only heard of him, but I don't know his appearance.
19 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Could we please play on the video
20 from 36:59 onward. Thank you.
21 [Video-clip played]
22 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Please stop here. Thank you.
23 We stopped at 37:13.
24 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
25 Q. Did you see these people carrying the lists, standing in front of
1 the buses, and they are about to let the people board the buses according
2 to the lists? Thank you.
3 A. No, I did not see him, really. And he has his back turned on us,
4 and so I couldn't notice him either.
5 Q. Thank you. Can you see what he is holding in his hand? Is that
6 paper or something?
7 A. Yes, it looks like paper. Probably a list of names that he
8 called out for people to board the buses, I suppose.
9 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you.
10 Let's play on from 37:13. Thank you.
11 [Video-clip played]
12 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you. I apologise.
13 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
14 Q. Do you now recognise this man? Can you see his face? Do you
15 recognise him? Thank you. That's the one who was holding those sheets
16 of paper in his hand a moment ago, and now we can see him better. Thank
18 A. Well, it says that this is Mehmed Hajric, but I kind of remember,
19 through a haze, having seen him. But it's been a long time, so I don't
20 quite remember his face to be able to say, yes, that's Mehmed Hajric.
21 Q. Thank you. At the time of the events in Zepa about which you're
22 testifying, was he the president of the War Presidency of Zepa? Thank
24 A. I really don't know. I can only repeat my answer. I really
25 don't know whether he was the president of that body.
1 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you.
2 Let's continue playing the video-clip from 37:30 onward. Thank
4 [Video-clip played]
5 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] We stopped the video-clip at 37:51.
6 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
7 Q. Do you know these two men shaking hands, these two men in
8 uniform? Thank you.
9 A. The other man is you, probably, because I'm looking at you now,
10 but the other I really don't remember. Probably --
11 Q. Do you know the man with the beard, wearing a blue shirt and
12 jeans? Thank you.
13 A. No, I really don't.
14 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you.
15 Let's continue playing the video-clip from 37:51 onward. Thank
16 you. Thank you.
17 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
18 Q. Please tell us, having seen part of the video-clip now about
19 boarding the buses in front of the fountain, did you see people standing
20 in front of the buses and other people with lists, and were these people
21 the representatives of the Zepa authorities?
22 THE INTERPRETER: Could the accused please repeat the last part
23 of his question?
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I really haven't seen him.
25 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation] I haven't seen him either. It's
1 the cameraman of Mr. Smith, because he demanded that this be recorded.
2 Could we now see P740 from minutes -- from 59 minutes through --
3 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, I'm a bit confused, because the last
4 picture we saw and you made this comment about a man of Mr. Smith, I
5 didn't see such a person on the screen.
6 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you.
7 The witness said that he didn't see the cameraman, and I said I
8 didn't see him either. And Mr. Smith, in his testimony, said that he
9 demanded that a cameraman go there and that he sent them to Zepa. Thank
10 you. And I didn't see the cameraman in the video-clip either. Thank
12 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
13 Q. Please answer the following question: Did you subsequently get
14 any information about whether anybody was taken off the buses? I mean,
15 I'm referring to the inhabitants of Zepa who came to board the buses on
16 the same day that you were there too.
17 A. No, sir. I was there on that day, yes, with a crowd of people,
18 and I was with my mother and sisters. I always reiterate that I was with
19 them. And then this man approached me, that Serb soldier. He told me,
20 Come here, and I had to because he was armed. And then he went off, I
21 don't know exactly where, and before that he said, Wait for me here. And
22 I repeat that I was scared, simply, and I thought if I waited for him to
23 return, I would end up here somewhere, he would probably kill me. So I
24 was scared, and I walked off. I said goodbye to my mother and sisters
25 and went to the mountain.
1 Q. I'm asking you. I know, because you said so, but did you have
2 information that on that day anybody was sent back from -- and denied
3 boarding the buses, and did you have any reason to be scared? Of course,
4 you were a 15-year-old boy, so you may have been scared, but did you have
5 any concrete reason to be scared, any specific experience? Thank you.
6 A. Yes, of course. I was afraid for my life. I was afraid he would
7 kill me or do something to me. And I don't remember that anybody was --
8 anybody else was there, because I went -- I walked through the crowd
9 alone, and I didn't pay attention to anything except for trying to avoid
10 him, not running into him again. And I then took the route toward the
11 mountain, and I knew the path well because that was the path I was -- I
12 took to go to school.
13 Q. Thank you. You said that you were afraid you would be killed,
14 and you were lined up, the Serb soldiers on the other bank of the
15 Drina River, once you had crossed the river, and that your father had
16 told you not to be afraid and so on. Do you remember that? Thank you.
17 A. Yes, of course I remember. Probably he was comforting me,
18 saying, Whatever happens, we're together. And he was always holding my
19 hand or something like that, you know.
20 Q. As a boy, could you have felt fear of the situation, irrespective
21 of whether there was any true reason for it or not?
22 A. Yes, of course there was constant fear. Now, you're there, and
23 the next moment, you may be gone.
24 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Let us continue playing from 59:45
1 [Video-clip played]
2 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] We stopped at 59:57.
3 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
4 Q. Did you hear General Mladic say, Hamdija, there are able-bodied
5 men here? If you were unable to hear, we can replay it.
6 A. Yes, I did, I just did.
7 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Let's keep playing from 59:57, and
8 perhaps we can turn the volume a bit more up.
9 [Video-clip played]
10 THE ACCUSED: [Microphone not activated]
11 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
12 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Your microphone was turned off. Please repeat.
13 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you. Apologies.
14 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
15 Q. Did you hear General Mladic say, I don't want someone else coming
16 before me and I don't want to hear of another Zepa Brigade being formed?
17 A. Yes, I did hear him say that.
18 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Let's keep playing from 1 minute --
19 actually, 1:00:14, and could we have even a better sound so that I don't
20 need to repeat. [Microphone not activated]
21 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Your microphone.
22 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Apologies. I forgot again.
23 Could we keep playing so that we can see General Mladic entering
24 the buses.
25 [Video-clip played]
1 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, you should put questions to the
2 witness. He's seen this, and we know that already; it is in evidence.
3 Please carry on asking the witness.
4 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
5 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
6 Q. Did you later on hear from your mother or sisters if they had any
7 problems en route from Kladanj -- from Zepa to Kladanj on those buses?
8 A. No, I did not. They said everything was fine. This gentleman we
9 see talking probably -- well, they didn't tell me there were any
10 problems. They just told me they got through. When I returned from
11 Australia, I went to Zenica, and I found my sisters there and my mother.
12 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Let's keep playing so as to be able
13 to see what General Mladic tells the able-bodied men who were on the
14 buses. Let's continue playing from 57:16.
15 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, we have seen all that. Is it
16 necessary to see this long sequence again?
17 Do you know anything about this General Mladic talking to people
18 in the bus, sir? I'm asking you.
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, as I was told about him by my
20 mother and sisters. They said they didn't have any problems and that
21 they did get on their bus. I don't know whether he got into every single
22 one. In any case, that's what they told me when I returned to Zenica.
23 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, I'm only concerned about this
24 repetition. I know this is a very long sequence, and if you received an
25 answer by the witness, you should carry on.
1 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
2 We heard the witness's answer. He knows that General Mladic did
3 not divert anyone or take anyone off the buses, although he knew there
4 were able-bodied men there. We heard him say that before.
5 In any case, let's look at D111, page 28, item 97.
6 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I think this list should not be broadcast, if I'm
7 not mistaken, because it seems to be a list with several names on it.
8 Judge Nyambe has a question.
9 JUDGE NYAMBE: Yes.
10 At page 36 of the transcript, line 22, you have stated as
12 "... I would end up here somewhere, he would probably kill me."
13 My question is: Did you see anyone killed on that day?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, Your Honour.
15 JUDGE NYAMBE: Thank you.
16 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir.
17 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
18 Could the witness please look at item 97, although the last name
19 is misspelled. Instead of "z," there is an "s," and instead of the last
20 letter being "b," it is an "f."
21 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
22 Q. Is it you, if you look at these particulars?
23 A. Yes, it's probably me, but some letters were wrongly changed.
24 Q. Do you know the person at number 98, just following you, and was
25 he with you?
1 A. No, he was not. He was a neighbour, though. It says here he was
2 a soldier, but I don't know whether he was. He may have been towards the
3 end, since at the time he was 18.
4 Q. Thank you. We are no longer interested in the list. We just
5 wanted to know whether you could identify yourself on the list and
6 whether you were registered by the ICRC.
7 A. Yes, I was registered by the ICRC.
8 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you for the answers you
9 provided, and thank you for coming to testify. May God bless you. I
10 wish you a safe journey back, and may you have success in your trade,
11 which is a difficult one.
12 Your Honours, this is all that I require of this witness. I have
13 no further questions.
14 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much.
15 Before I give the floor to Mr. Elderkin: Can you tell us, did
16 your father go with you to Australia?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, of course, Your Honour.
18 JUDGE FLUEGGE: And did you return together with him to Bosnia?
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, he did.
20 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much.
21 Mr. Elderkin, do you have re-examination?
22 MR. ELDERKIN: Your Honour, very briefly, if I may.
23 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes, of course.
24 MR. ELDERKIN: I would ask if we could go back to the same
25 exhibit that was just up on the screen, D111, and at the same page.
1 Re-examination by Mr. Elderkin:
2 Q. Sir, please look at the line numbered 95 and read the name there,
3 "Salic, Osman Jusuf," with the date of 1948. Who is that, please?
4 A. My father.
5 Q. And is there any listing for him as to his status as a soldier or
7 A. No, I don't see any.
8 MR. ELDERKIN: Thank you very much.
9 I don't have any other questions, Your Honours.
10 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Sir, the Chamber would like to thank you that you
11 came here to The Hague and to help us to establish the facts. Thank you
12 very much that you were able to assist us. Now you are free to return to
13 your normal activities and travel back. Thank you again.
14 We turn into closed session to enable the witness to leave the
15 courtroom and to maintain the protective measures. Please stay there for
16 a moment.
17 [Closed session]
25 [Open session]
1 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Elderkin.
2 MR. ELDERKIN: Your Honours, I wonder if I might ask for a very
3 brief break as an indulgence. It's simply that I'm handling both this
4 witness and the one that follows, and I would appreciate both the chance
5 to shake this witness's hand and say goodbye and also get my affairs in
6 order before we start with Ms. Palic.
7 JUDGE FLUEGGE: How many minutes do you need?
8 MR. ELDERKIN: Really, a couple. Two or three minutes would be
9 plenty just to walk out and --
10 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Is this a convenient time to have the second
11 break already now? Then we could continue 20 minutes past 5.00, and
12 then -- it would be too long a time. No, that is not possible.
13 MR. ELDERKIN: If that would work with the interpreters, that
14 would then flip our session so we'd have the longer one at the end. I'm
15 in your hands as to that.
16 [Trial Chamber and Registrar confer]
17 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I think it's the best way to have the second
18 break now. We will resume 25 minutes past 5.00.
19 --- Recess taken at 4.53 p.m.
20 --- On resuming at 5.27 p.m.
21 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Elderkin, is the witness ready?
22 MR. ELDERKIN: She should be, Your Honour.
23 Before she's brought in or while she's being brought in, I wanted
24 to raise a brief preliminary matter which I've informed to the Chamber
25 and also to the Defence, and it concerns Ms. Palic's health. It's
1 nothing that should disrupt the trial, but she did have a heart attack
2 late last year, and I discussed with her in proofing whether she might
3 need to take any additional breaks. She said that she thought she would
4 be fine, but it might happen that she would want to have a short break.
5 And I wanted to alert the Trial Chamber to that so there are no
7 JUDGE FLUEGGE: That's fine. Thank you very much.
8 The witness should be brought in, please.
9 Mr. Elderkin, is there any problem to have it on the transcript?
10 MR. ELDERKIN: As far as I understand, no, it's no problem at
11 all. I also asked Ms. Palic whether she was happy to have that discussed
12 publicly, and she said not.
13 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much.
14 [The witness entered court]
15 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Good afternoon, Ms. Palic. Welcome to the
17 Please read aloud the affirmation on the card which is shown to
18 you now.
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will
20 speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
21 WITNESS: ESMA PALIC
22 [Witness answered through interpreter]
23 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much.
24 Please sit down and make yourself comfortable.
25 Please let the Trial Chamber know if you have any problems during
1 your testimony. If you need a break at a certain time due to health
2 problems, please just give us an indication that this is necessary.
3 Thank you very much.
4 Mr. Elderkin is now commencing his examination-in-chief and is
5 putting questions to you.
6 Mr. Elderkin.
7 MR. ELDERKIN: Your Honour, thank you.
8 Examination by Mr. Elderkin:
9 Q. And, Ms. Palic, good afternoon.
10 A. Good afternoon.
11 Q. Please say your full name for the record.
12 A. My name is Esma Palic.
13 Q. When were you born?
14 A. On the 21st of March, 1967.
15 Q. What is your nationality?
16 A. Bosniak.
17 Q. And your religion?
18 A. Muslim.
19 Q. Where were you born?
20 A. I was born in Zepa.
21 Q. Is that where you grew up?
22 A. The first 15 years of my life, I lived in Zepa.
23 Q. And is it right that you went at one point to study at university
24 in Sarajevo?
25 A. Yes. I finished the secondary school in Rogatica and then left
1 for my studies in Sarajevo.
2 Q. What did you study in Sarajevo?
3 A. First, I studied at the Electro-Technical Faculty, and later on I
4 moved on to Psychology.
5 Q. What is your profession?
6 A. I am a psychologist.
7 Q. When did you meet Avdo Palic?
8 A. We met in Sarajevo.
9 Q. Was that when you were a student there?
10 A. Yes, during the studies.
11 Q. And did Avdo Palic become your husband?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. In what year were you married?
14 A. 1993, in Zepa.
15 Q. What was your husband's professional training?
16 A. He was a mechanical engineer. That was his primary occupation.
17 Q. Did your husband also complete his service with the JNA?
18 A. Yes, he served in the JNA.
19 Q. And after his initial JNA training, did he remain as a reserve
21 A. Yes, he remained in the reserve as an officer.
22 Q. Do you have any children?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Are they boys or girls?
25 A. I have two daughters.
1 Q. When were they born, please?
2 A. The older daughter was born on the 3rd of March, 1994, and the
3 younger daughter was born on the 26th of March, 1995.
4 Q. I'd like to go now to the year of 1992, please. Where were you
5 living at the beginning of that year?
6 A. At the beginning of 1992, I lived in Sarajevo. I had been living
7 there for the past 10 years, in Sarajevo. On the 29th of March, 1992, I
8 set out for Zepa. The 4th of April was Bajram, so I went to see my
9 parents. That means that up until the 29th of March, I lived in
10 Sarajevo. After that, I lived in Zepa.
11 Q. And when you went to visit your parents in Zepa for Bajram in
12 1992, did you plan to stay in Zepa?
13 A. No. I went to Zepa to spend a week there. As a matter of fact,
14 I only took a few things with me in my hand luggage. And I suffered a
15 lot during the war, especially at the beginning, because I had none of my
16 personal belongings with me.
17 Q. So your plan to stay for a week was changed. Why weren't you
18 able to leave Zepa once you arrived there?
19 A. The reason was the beginning of the war on the Bajram, itself.
20 There was bloodshed in Sarajevo. The first victim was killed. Zepa had
21 already been encircled by the forces of Serbian Army. When I entered
22 Zepa, the first night, from the surrounding hills around Zepa you could
23 see tracer bullets coming and hear shooting. When I asked my mother what
24 was it, she told me that the Serbian villages around Zepa had the
25 situation for quite some time, it was a form of sowing fear among the
1 population. And then it became clear to me why my father had advised me
2 not to come to Zepa a few days before my arrival.
3 Q. Where did you stay exactly whilst you were in Zepa? Where was
4 your parents' house?
5 A. The house of my parents is in the centre of Zepa, some 150 metres
6 from the point of entrance to the centre.
7 Q. Did your husband come to Zepa for that Bajram with you?
8 A. Avdo worked in Vlasenica at the time. He was a teacher in a
9 secondary school. He came to visit his father, but not for the Bajram.
10 When the shooting started in Vlasenica on the day of Bajram, he and some
11 friends of his managed to leave the town. Muslims were already being
12 killed in that town at that time.
13 Q. During the war, your husband served as a member of the Armija of
14 Bosnia-Herzegovina; is that right?
15 A. That's right.
16 Q. By 1995, what was his rank?
17 A. In 1995, Avdo was a colonel in the BiH Army.
18 Q. And he was a colonel in what formation of the BiH Army, what
19 brigade or unit?
20 A. It was the East Bosnian Light Mountain Brigade or the brigade
21 that was defending the territory of Zepa.
22 Q. What was the ethnic composition of the population in Zepa during
23 the war?
24 A. During the war, there were only Muslims in Zepa, except two
25 teachers, two female teachers. One of them is Jelenka Cesko. She was
1 married to a local man. And the other one was Rosa Lazarevic. She had
2 spent most of her career in Zepa, and she was a very dear neighbour of
4 Q. Did people move to Zepa from other areas during the war?
5 A. During the first months of the war in 1992, and by that I mean
6 April, May and June, there were numerous columns of people arriving in
7 Zepa. Those were the people that had been expelled from the nearby towns
8 and villages. The Yugoslav People's Army and the Serbian Army took over
9 Visegrad, or, rather, the population who were non-Serbs, mostly the
10 Muslims, who happened to be in Visegrad and who found themselves in the
11 hands of Serbian soldiers were massacred. The inhabitants living in the
12 nearby villages fled to Zepa, also the inhabitants of Rogatica and nearby
13 villages, and the villages around Han Pijesak and Vlasenica, and at some
14 point from Srebrenica as well, because at the very beginning of the war,
15 Srebrenica was almost captured by the Serbian Army. It's a fact that
16 Zepa was flooded by a huge number of people who had been expelled from
17 nearby municipalities.
18 Q. And why did they come specifically to Zepa rather than any other
20 A. I think that most of them ended up thinking that that was their
21 misfortune. Some of them had family in Zepa. A large number of Muslim
22 people thought that the war was not going to last long, that it was
23 impossible for the war to last long, so they probably expected that the
24 war was going to be over soon. That's one thing. They were also cut
25 off. It wasn't possible to use other roads to come to some areas that
1 were considered more safe.
2 Q. Can you estimate the size of the population living in the Zepa
3 enclave then, before the enclave fell in July of 1995?
4 A. It's hard to estimate that. It was around 8.000. A large number
5 of the newly-arrived inhabitants of Zepa was divided between Zepa and
6 Srebrenica. A part of a family would live in Zepa and another part in
7 Srebrenica. So the estimates are unreliable, but the number that was
8 mentioned at the time was around 8.000 people.
9 Q. I'd like to ask, please, now some questions about the shelling
10 that took place in Zepa.
11 Can you first tell us whether there was any shelling in the early
12 years of the war when you were living in Zepa?
13 A. I have to say that there isn't a small town in Bosnia and
14 Herzegovina, and probably not even in the world, that experienced greater
15 suffering and was shelled with a wider variety of shells. Zepa was
16 shelled by heavy artillery and also from aeroplanes. Also, during the
17 time when Serbian forces managed to reach the high ground around Zepa,
18 and when they had an overview over the whole of the territory, they also
19 used PAMs and PATs, weapons using explosive charges, which led to my
20 house being very damaged by that sort of bullets. They also used
21 helicopters. In 1992, they used guided missiles for destroying the
22 mosque in Zepa. They also destroyed several apartments in a building
23 close to the mosque. They used incendiary devices, some kind of
24 incendiary barrels that would then set fire to buildings. Also, they
25 used those large bombs that were called "Hogs" by our people, although I
1 don't know exactly what the name is.
2 Q. You mentioned weapons called PAMs and PATs. If you're able to,
3 could you explain what you understood what those abbreviations mean?
4 What kind of weapons are those, please?
5 A. I don't know. These are the words that were used at the time:
6 That's what we knew at the time. There were Pragas, there were PAMs,
7 there were PATs. I'm not a soldier. I don't know exactly what it is,
8 but we are talking about the ammunition that includes fragmentation
9 bullets. Later on, we were bombed from aeroplanes as well.
10 So it was hard to protect yourself from all this shelling. It
11 was especially true for the first months of the war in 1992.
12 Q. Specifically concerning the period up until May of 1993, where
13 were the areas that were targeted with the weapons that you have
15 A. Well, there isn't a part of Zepa that was not shelled. There
16 were some places that were shelled to a lesser degree. I lived in the
17 centre, and I know that many, many shells fell there, both from
18 aeroplanes and from tanks, but I can tell you that the same goes for
19 other areas. Then the places in the Zepa municipality, such as Godjenje,
20 Krivace and Stoborane, those places were captured in 1992, which means
21 that the Serbian forces entered those places, destroyed everything,
22 burned down everything, and expelled the population. The population fled
23 for Zepa. So they used everything that they had. My husband was
24 watching his house being destroyed by tank shells.
25 Q. So were there occasions when your own house, your husband's
1 house, was shelled in 1992 or 1993? And if there were, can you please
2 tell us about those?
3 A. I didn't understand the question. I was mixing the
4 interpretation and your question.
5 Q. Was your family house shelled in 1992 or 1993?
6 A. Yes, my husband's house was destroyed in August 1992. It
7 happened using tank shells. And then the house of my parents was shelled
8 in December. One corner of the house was damaged. The glass was broken,
9 and a part of the house could not be used for habitation. Then, in 1993,
10 on the 8th of March, 1993, another shell landed and damaged the second
11 floor. And that was probably the moment when I was closest to death
12 during the war, because the shell literally opened a hole in the wall
13 where I was.
14 Q. During that incident or other incidents of shelling that you
15 witnessed, were people injured or killed?
16 A. Of course, of course. Bearing in mind the number of shells that
17 landed, we could say that there were few casualties. Whether that was
18 due to self-discipline, I don't know. Most of the inhabitants spent
19 their time, and especially the summer of 1993, in the caves.
20 Zepa has peculiar features. There is a number of natural
21 shelters among the rocks. And since the habit to seek shelter there
22 remained from the Second World War, people did the same thing at the
23 beginning of this war. However, still there were casualties, people were
24 killed; my friends, my neighbours, the refugees, I mean, the people who
25 had been expelled from their houses, from the places where they lived,
1 and who arrived in Zepa only to be killed there.
2 Q. Among the casualties that you know of, did these include
3 civilians, women, children, elderly people?
4 A. I am now speaking primarily about that segment of the population;
5 that is, the civilians, women, children, elderly men, people who were not
6 fit for the military. The number of casualties among them was larger
7 than the number of casualties among the military. There were not many
8 deaths among the military in Zepa. When I say "not many," of course,
9 every human life is a lot, but the fact is that Avdo protected people
10 very much, and he was truly lucky in that regard.
11 Q. In 1993, did the shelling decrease when Zepa became a safe area?
12 A. Yes. In the beginning, the UN entered Zepa and started to set up
13 demarcation lines. And then there was some sporadic shootings, sporadic
14 shells that landed on the demarcation lines, but it was definitely not as
15 hellish as before, because before the UN came to Zepa, there was a large
16 offensive by the Serbian Army in a village called Brezova Ravan, and they
17 committed a massacre. That's a place on a hill from which you can see
18 the whole of Zepa. And then later on, when the UN came, there was peace.
19 Q. And what was the situation with shelling in 1995? Could you
20 please tell us about that?
21 A. In 1995, in the month of March, well, my memory is very good
22 because that's when I gave birth to my younger daughter, and I remember
23 perfectly many things. We called those shellings provocative shellings.
24 They shelled the outskirts of town, and then they targeted areas closer
25 to the centre. Avdo tried to intervene with UNPROFOR. However, those
1 provocations, as we called them, continued.
2 Q. And could you take us through, then, after March, the successive
3 months and tell us about the shelling, as best you can, say, starting
4 with June of 1995, so before Srebrenica had fallen?
5 A. Some 10 days before the fall of Srebrenica, the shelling
6 intensified. Shells fell closer to the centre, they fell in the centre
7 and other inhabited areas. It was not as frequent as that, but the peace
8 was gone. You couldn't be sure anymore that when you left your house,
9 there wouldn't be a shell. And then it grew ever more intensive some 10
10 days or so before the fall of Srebrenica. And when Srebrenica fell, all
11 hell broke loose.
12 Q. Were there any casualties from this shelling?
13 A. Since I had a baby, and my other daughter was little more than a
14 baby, I spent most of the time indoors in the shelter. But, yes, there
15 were casualties from these early shellings. I know that there were
16 casualties in the surrounding villages. But I especially remember a
17 neighbour, an elderly man, who was killed by a shell, and I saw the body
18 being carried away past the house of my parents.
19 Q. Do you remember whether that elderly man was a soldier at the
20 time that he was killed?
21 A. No. The man was killed in front of his door-step. He was not a
22 soldier, he wasn't an able-bodied man. He was elderly. The shell killed
23 him in his yard and not on the front-line. Well, there weren't any
25 Q. Was your own house shelled during this period?
1 A. My house was shelled when Srebrenica had fallen. But before
2 that, there were shellings of other areas, but no shell hit the house
3 directly. I was listening, though, when the Ukrainian commander,
4 Dudnjik, told Avdo to remove his family from the house, because Kusic had
5 asked him for the coordinates, and that the children and I were no longer
6 safe there.
7 Q. You said that your house was, indeed, shelled after Srebrenica
8 had fallen. Could you tell us, in as much detail as you remember, about
9 that incident, starting with the date it took place, if you can remember
11 A. I believe that it was on the 17th or 18th of July. Zepa had been
12 shelled for days. We had been in shelters for days on end. People from
13 Srebrenica had started arriving in Zepa, and they spread this terrible
14 information. There were many wounded men there. They were in the
15 shelter in the yard, whereas I, the babies, my mother and my sister spent
16 most of the time in the house. It's hard to be in such a small space for
17 a long time, and my younger daughter got nervous, so I took her to the
18 living-room, where there was a little bit more space and more air, and I
19 held her in my arms. But there was firing non-stop. My sister joined us
20 and sat down. I was standing there with the baby. At that moment, a
21 shell landed, and the front door of the house and the door to the
22 living-room opened from the detonation. I ran back to the shelter, and
23 so did my sister. The baby was crying. At that moment, the baby started
24 vomiting, and I was really scared for her.
25 Then we heard that a shell had hit a heap of firewood behind our
1 house. Then there was another shell that hit the house, itself, and the
2 third, and the fourth, and the fifth. There were five shells. And there
3 were five of us in a very small and cramped space, and we were waiting
4 what would be next. Then there was a lot of dust, and that was choking
5 us. But the shelling stopped, and we knew that we had to escape. One
6 reason was the dust that was choking us, and we were only waiting for
7 that part of the house to be hit too.
8 When I left the shelter, the house wasn't there anymore, we were
9 outdoors, because the shells that had hit the house had pierced the walls
10 and the roof. We were outdoors already. I remember that I had some milk
11 in the hallway near the shelter, milk for the baby, but it was all dirty
12 with plaster and -- well, it couldn't be used anymore.
13 My sister ran out to the shelter in the yard, and I ran out with
14 the other child, and then our mother followed.
15 Q. Now, on that day, was your husband or anyone else from the army
16 at the house or in the shelter with you when this shelling incident took
18 A. No. Avdo was with the soldiers, and he heard the order being
19 issued, Target the house of the boss's mother-in-law.
20 Q. When you say he heard the order being issued, could you expand on
21 that? How did he hear this?
22 A. Well, I don't know, but they were able to intercept the radio
23 communication of the Serb Army. So they were up to date, they knew what
24 the Serbs were up to.
25 Q. I'll come back to your own sequence of events following that
1 shelling incident, but on another subject: At around those days, did the
2 Bosnian Serb Army address or broadcast to the population of Zepa?
3 A. We could hear them talking from the hills around Zepa using
4 megaphones for days. I'm referring to Borovacke Stijene. That's the
5 name of the hill. When I was in the shelter, I could only make out parts
6 of those messages, but then on some occasions, I went outside to the
7 balcony and I did hear that they were calling out to us to surrender.
8 I'll never forget those words, because they coincided with my doubts and
9 my darkest fears about my husband. The voice was calling out, People of
10 Zepa, this is Ratko Mladic talking to you. And then something like, You
11 cannot stay in Zepa. Take white flags and start walking toward
12 Brezova Ravan, where there are buses waiting for you. Then you can be
13 transferred to territory controlled by Alija Izetbegovic. Do not listen
14 to crazy Avdo. You are his hostages. He will take you to death.
15 The people were extremely upset then. The atmosphere that
16 prevailed in Zepa, once Srebrenica had fallen, was -- can be described as
17 a frenzy. The very fact that somebody's calling out to you not to listen
18 to somebody you trust most confuses you even more, and I know that many
19 were very upset when they heard that. People were running around. They
20 even called at my house, asking, What shall we do, shall we surrender,
21 and the like. They were coming to ask Avdo. And there was fear among
22 the women, too. It was a situation that was making everybody crazy, and
23 it was even intensified by these communications from the Serb side.
24 Q. You said part of the message that you heard was something like,
25 You cannot stay in Zepa. Did it surprise you? How did it affect you, to
1 hear that specific message?
2 A. I must admit that I was most upset by this message, Do not listen
3 to crazy Avdo. You are his hostages. He will take you to death.
4 And as for the message about the impossibility of staying in
5 Zepa, we were very much aware of that. From the moment Srebrenica had
6 fallen, we couldn't stand our ground there because in Srebrenica, there
7 were far more UN troops. The surface area of Srebrenica was, more or
8 less, the same as in Zepa, and they wanted to cleanse Zepa first back in
9 1992. And when Srebrenica fell, that automatically meant that Zepa would
10 also fall.
11 It was clear to us all those years that the Serb authorities and
12 the Serb Army couldn't tolerate a territory -- or, rather, a place
13 inhabited by Muslims so deep in the territory that they had cleansed, and
14 there were repeated messages that we couldn't survive on the border with
16 Q. You told us that the message you heard over the loud-speakers
17 claimed to be Ratko Mladic speaking. Had your husband, at any point
18 during the war, received any message directly from General Mladic?
19 A. Yes. I think it was in 1993, when Zepa became a UN-protected
20 zone, that's when Avdo received a message directly from Ratko Mladic.
21 Ratko Mladic knew my husband before the war. He sent him a bottle of
22 whiskey, I believe, and a packet of cigarettes, Drava cigarettes, and
23 there was a short message on the wrapping.
24 MR. ELDERKIN: Could we please see 65 ter 1716. And we also have
25 the original of this document. I ask, please, for this to be shown to
1 the witness, if necessary first to the Defence, although they had the
2 opportunity and Mr. Gajic saw it just before we started.
3 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes, please, it should be given to the witness.
4 Mr. Gajic, you and Mr. Tolimir know this document?
5 MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I had the opportunity
6 to look at the documents during the break.
7 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much.
8 Mr. Elderkin.
9 MR. ELDERKIN:
10 Q. Ms. Palic, to continue, could you tell us: What is this document
11 you have in front of you now?
12 A. This is the wrapping of that packet of cigarettes that Mladic had
13 sent to my husband in 1993, and he had written this short message on it.
14 Q. Did your husband ever say anything about why Mladic had sent this
15 gift to him? Did he ever explain his view as to why or what was the
16 message that Mladic was trying to get across to him?
17 A. Yes, he told me. He told me that on several occasions, he had
18 been offered to leave Zepa, because Mladic knew Avdo, and he knew that
19 while Avdo was in Zepa, he wouldn't be able to enter easily, not only due
20 to his military abilities or skills, because I must point out that Avdo
21 had this influence on the population in Zepa that made them feel safe,
22 they trusted him. So they offered him to leave Zepa and that they would
23 reward him and enable him to settle wherever he wanted, but he refused.
24 MR. ELDERKIN: Your Honours, I'd ask for this to be admitted as
25 an exhibit now.
1 JUDGE FLUEGGE: It will be received.
2 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, 65 ter document 1716 shall be
3 assigned Exhibit P2190. Thank you.
4 MR. ELDERKIN:
5 Q. Did you also keep some other communications and provide those, a
6 few years ago, to the Office of the Prosecutor here?
7 A. When I was leaving Zepa, Avdo gave me a small folder, and I
8 didn't open it for a long time. But then at one point in time, I opened
9 it and found this cigarette wrapping, among other things. I also found
10 letters exchanged between my husband and the wartime commander of the
11 Serb Army from Rogatica, Rajko Kusic, or my husband and Dragomir Pecanac,
12 who was a member of the Main Staff of Ratko Mladic and who, among others,
13 was one of the key persons involved in the taking away and the
14 disappearing of my husband once he was arrested in 1995.
15 Q. You named Rajko Kusic as the commander from Rogatica. Was
16 Rajko Kusic somebody who your husband knew personally?
17 A. When my husband graduated from secondary school, he first worked
18 for four years so that his younger sister could go to university, and he
19 worked with Rajko Kusic. They worked at the filter factory. Before
20 that, they had played football together. They were members of the
21 Mladost Football Club from Rogatica.
22 MR. ELDERKIN: Please, could we see 65 ter 1717. And, again, I
23 have the pack of original documents corresponding to that, and those are
24 also offered to the Defence in the break.
25 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes, please. But the last one, P2190, should be
1 given back to the Prosecution, but we want to see it as well.
2 MR. ELDERKIN: Absolutely, Your Honour. I apologise for not
3 having offered that up to the Bench first. The same for this packet,
5 JUDGE FLUEGGE: To the Bench, please.
6 The Chamber has seen this first document. It's given back to the
8 MR. ELDERKIN: Would Your Honours like to see the packet -- the
9 second packet now or further wait until --
10 JUDGE FLUEGGE: No, first use it with the witness.
11 MR. ELDERKIN: Very good, thank you.
12 Q. If you look briefly at the packet of documents you have in hard
13 copy in front of you, and tell us whether any of these documents were
14 written by your husband.
15 A. This is the first document which was written by my husband.
16 Q. And is that the document that is also appearing electronically on
17 the screen in front of you?
18 A. Yes, it is.
19 Q. And if you could look through the contents of that document. And
20 on the first -- either on the first page or through on to the second
21 page, there are a list of numbered points, and if you could read through
22 to those, please.
23 On the English, they're on the first page of the translation, for
24 the Court's information.
25 A. Oh, yes. Well, if we look at this first page, it says -- should
1 I just read out those numbered points?
2 Q. There's actually no need for you to read out loud the numbered
3 points, except that I would like you to read the point numbered 1,
4 please. That's the one which states:
5 "Stop shelling Zepa every day."
6 A. Okay.
7 Q. And could you please tell us the date of this letter?
8 THE REGISTRAR: All rise.
9 JUDGE FLUEGGE: What is happening?
10 THE REGISTRAR: We need a doctor immediately, Courtroom I.
11 [Trial Chamber and Registrar confer]
12 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Ms. Palic, I hope this is not a big problem for
13 you at the moment. We want to continue so that we can use the time for
14 your interrogation, but we have to wait for a moment. If you need a
15 break, please let us know, again. We have to wait for the Court Officer
16 so that we can continue.
17 [Trial Chamber and Legal Officer confer]
18 JUDGE FLUEGGE: At the moment, we can't do anything. Everything
19 is arranged so that we can continue, and we should continue, for the
20 benefit of the witness.
21 [Trial Chamber and Registrar confer]
22 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Elderkin, you have the floor, and I think
23 there's no need to worry about the situation at the moment.
24 MR. ELDERKIN: Very good, Your Honour. We'll have to see how
25 things develop.
1 Q. Ms. Palic, just to re-focus on the document in front of you,
2 written by your husband, and we've just seen the numbered point 1. There
3 is the statement:
4 "Stop shelling Zepa every day."
5 Could you tell us, please, what is the date of that document?
6 A. Avdo wrote the letter on the 18th of January, 1993, at 7.00 a.m.
7 Q. Now, does this comment to stop shelling Zepa every day reflect
8 the situation at that time, as you've described the shelling to us?
9 A. Before the UN forces arrived, Zepa was literally shelled daily,
10 at daytime as well as at night-time, which was difficult to believe.
11 There was no smaller place in the world that received more shells. It
12 lasted until UNPROFOR came in May 1993. Zepa was not only shelled; the
13 people of Zepa who happened to be there, and I feel the need to say that
14 because I just read item 2, I wanted to say that the people of Zepa were
15 literally starved. I said that the inhabitants of the surrounding
16 villages and municipalities, when they fell in 1992 to the Bosnian Serbs
17 or to the Serb Army, arrived in Zepa. Once they were there, the refugees
18 outnumbered locals 3:1, and any food reserves went immediately. Luckily
19 enough, it happened during the summer of that year, so people could try
20 and come up with something. But if you will take my word for it, I
21 didn't see a piece of bread for half a year. Larry Hollingworth, a
22 humanitarian worker, tried to bring a UNHCR convoy to Zepa, and he took
23 this letter to Kusic. He was persistent in his attempts to have the
24 first humanitarian aid convoy reach Zepa, and it happened on this day.
25 MR. ELDERKIN: Okay. Could we now see the next of those
1 documents, please, in e-court. The hard copy, I think, is the
2 photocopied A-4-sized letter you have there, and in e-court that would be
3 at page 5, I think, in the B/C/S and starting at page 3 in the English.
4 Q. Looking at this document, can you tell us, please, who is it from
5 and who is it addressed to?
6 A. This is Rajko Kusic's letter to my husband. Since Rajko Kusic
7 did not indicate a date, I see that my husband noted it down as
8 March 1993; the 1st of March, I believe, of 1993.
9 Q. And I'd like to go through some of the statements made in this
10 letter. I'll read them out from the translation I have, and if you need
11 time to find them in the original, then please let me know. So:
12 "You cannot stay on the border to Serbia to separate us from our
13 people. Go with your people to the place you belong to in Central Bosnia
14 while there is still time. Europe does not allow Islam to go on. Don't
15 you see that?"
16 How do these statements correspond with your understanding of the
17 objectives of the Bosnian Serb side in the war?
18 A. This is definitely the prevailing opinion among Bosnian Serbs.
19 Rajko Kusic simply put it on paper to convey it in that manner.
20 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Is it possible that we have the B/C/S version not
21 on the screen, that we should move to the next page? Thank you.
22 I think there it is.
23 MR. ELDERKIN: I'll just leave that up for a moment so the
24 Defence have a chance to read through before I move to the next of these
1 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I think you may continue.
2 MR. ELDERKIN: And could we then go, please, to the document
3 which is starting at page 9 in the B/C/S in e-court and starting at
4 page 5 in the English. And this should be, in the hard copy, a document
5 dated the 22nd of March of 1995.
6 Q. And, Ms. Palic, for your information, to confirm you're looking
7 at the right copy, on the paper, that's the page with the stamp at the
8 top left-hand corner of 0602-4475.
9 Who is this document sent to, and can you tell us who is it
10 written by?
11 A. This is another letter sent by Rajko Kusic to my husband.
12 Q. And is it signed at the end, or how are you able to establish
13 that it's from Rajko Kusic?
14 A. My husband showed it to me. It is not difficult to compare the
15 two handwritings with the previous letter, and it is the same. As for
16 the contents, I can also conclude that it was written by Rajko.
17 Q. The first two of those letters we saw, written first by your
18 husband and then by Rajko Kusic, were from 1993. We're now looking at a
19 letter from March of 1995. I'd ask you again to scan through that
20 letter, and towards the end there is a statement:
21 "We are beginning to destroy your Turkey, and we'll get Zepa back
22 and convert to Christianity, and we won't kill everyone."
23 And that's seen at the bottom of the English translation and the
24 last four lines of the bottom of the right-hand side of our screens.
25 Did you learn, at the time of March of 1995, that your husband
1 had received such a letter from Rajko Kusic?
2 A. Avdo showed this letter to me, and he just laughed. He was an
3 incorrigible optimist, believing firmly that people would one day be
4 ashamed of what they were doing at the time. This is how I remember him.
5 For me, it wouldn't be simple to deal with if someone tried to
6 communicate in this manner with me. It would be difficult for me to
7 remain an optimist. He did, however, and he truly believed that people
8 would repent some day and that everyone should use their own head to
9 think carefully about what they were doing. He kept telling me that I
10 was wrong, and this letter is yet another thing we discussed among us.
11 MR. ELDERKIN: Your Honours, I'd ask for this set of documents to
12 be admitted, please.
13 JUDGE FLUEGGE: 65 ter 1717 will be received as an exhibit.
14 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, 65 ter document 1717 shall be
15 assigned Exhibit P2191. Thank you.
16 MR. ELDERKIN: And, Your Honours, if you'd like to see the pack
17 of letters in the originals, we can hand those now up to the Bench.
18 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes, we would appreciate it. We'll take it that
19 the Defence had the opportunity to see it as well.
20 MR. ELDERKIN: That's correct. I don't know that Mr. Gajic needs
21 to confirm, but, yes, they did.
22 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you.
23 Go ahead, please.
24 MR. ELDERKIN:
25 Q. Ms. Palic, you spoke earlier of refugees who had come to Zepa
1 after the fall of Srebrenica. What, if anything, did you learn from
2 those people about what had happened in and around Srebrenica after the
4 A. Given that the men who arrived in Zepa were mostly wounded, they
5 were placed in the hospital or in some of the houses. A number of them
6 were also accommodated in my parents' house. The first one who came had
7 his head and arm bandaged, since he had been wounded. It turned out to
8 be an acquaintance -- a friend, actually, of my husband's whom I liked as
9 well. At first, I didn't recognise him when he showed up at the door. I
10 will never forget what he said once he was seated. He said, Avdo, I had
11 to walk over my father's dead body. I did not even have time to bury
12 him. He told us how they set out, trying to reach the free territory
13 around Tuzla. He told about how the Serb Army intercepted them, cut the
14 column in several pieces, how they mingled with them and killed them, how
15 they arrested them. It was a terrifying story. Everything those people
16 had to say made you wish that you weren't there. That was -- that seemed
17 to be the only solution. The only other one was to fall in their hands.
18 Q. Did you hear anything about men being taken prisoner?
19 A. As I said, the person who told us all that also told us that they
20 went into the group, and since there was a lot of panic, they couldn't
21 make out who was who. That was one thing. Another thing was that they
22 kept intercepting them, setting up ambushes, and taking them away. Some
23 were killed on the spot. They were being killed as part of the column in
24 the forest. And this friend of ours managed to, at some point, turn back
25 and go to Zepa to escape that. In doing so, he was unable to bury his
1 father's body.
2 Q. I'd like to return to the day when your house was shelled, and
3 you told us that was the 17th or 18th of July of 1995. Did you stay in
4 the house after that day?
5 A. No. The house had gone. We managed to reach the shelter in the
6 yard. Once it became dark, my husband arrived. He suggested that we
7 should all move, and we went to Stitkov Dol, which was some half an hour
8 away from Zepa, on foot. He saw me there with the children, accompanied
9 by all the people who were accommodated with us as well as the rest of
10 the people from the settlement, itself. In moments of panic, almost as a
11 rule, people followed Avdo's family, believing it would make them safer.
12 It was in this same fashion that the people of the surrounding villages
13 left with us, at the same time. And it was only normal, because by that
14 time it was unbearable.
15 Q. Do you know why your husband proposed specifically to go to
16 Stitkov Dol?
17 A. Stitkov Dol was closer to the centre and yet relatively safe or
18 safer than other places.
19 When I tried to analyse the situation, all of our moves in 1992
20 and 1993, as well as in 1995, were in that one direction. We, from the
21 centre of Zepa, and the villages on the left-hand side, like Vrelo and
22 Stop Polje and the others, all moved towards Stitkov Dol and from there
23 to the Zepa Mountain. In 1992, the idea was to go from there towards
24 Srebrenica because, in a way, it was en route to Tuzla. That was the
25 idea that we considered and intimately called the Salvation Road. In
1 1993, as well as 1995, during the critical times when Zepa was under
2 attack, I spent some time in that village.
3 Q. And did people come from other areas of the Zepa enclave to
4 Stitkov Dol or just from the group of villages you described close to
5 Zepa town?
6 A. It is not a large village, and not everyone could come there.
7 There were other safe areas or oases of peace, so to speak, where people
8 went to. Some people had already gone to the Zepa Mountain before, so,
9 in other words, not everyone was in the same place.
10 MR. ELDERKIN: Your Honours, I'm watching the time on the
11 transcript. It would be a convenient place in my list of questions to
12 stop, unless Your Honours would prefer to continue for a few more
14 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I think it's a good idea to adjourn now. Thank
15 you very much.
16 We have reached the time for the end of the hearing for today.
17 We will resume tomorrow morning at 9.00 in this courtroom for the
18 continuation of your interrogation. Thank you very much.
19 We adjourn.
20 [The witness stands down]
21 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 6.59 p.m.,
22 to be reconvened on Wednesday, the 27th day of
23 April, 2011, at 9.00 a.m.