1 Wednesday, 1 February 2012
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 9.02 a.m.
5 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Good morning to everybody in and around the
6 courtroom. Before the witness will be brought in, I would like to deal
7 with one matter left over from yesterday.
8 We discussed the document D341. This document we postponed a
9 decision about admission into evidence. We decided, in the meantime, to
10 mark it for identification pending translation of the entire document.
11 Only 15 pages are translated yet, and therefore it will be received after
12 translation of the whole document.
13 The witness should be brought in, please.
14 [The witness takes the stand]
15 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Good morning, Mr. Skrbic. Welcome back to the
16 courtroom. I have to remind you that the affirmation to tell the truth
17 still applies today.
18 Mr. Tolimir is continuing his examination-in-chief.
19 But before you start, Mr. Tolimir, can you give us an estimation,
20 any indication how many hours you will need today so that we can plan the
21 cross-examination and the length of the testimony of Mr. Skrbic?
22 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Greetings to everyone present. May
23 the Lord bring peace upon this courtroom, and may the outcome of this
24 trial be decided by providence and not according to my wishes.
25 According to the estimate that the Defence team has made, we
1 believe that we are going to conclude the direct examination of today's
2 witness, Mr. Skrbic.
3 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much. That means you will
4 conclude today. Thank you.
5 We have to aware that, according to the estimation of the
6 Prosecution, the testimony of Mr. Skrbic will go into the next week.
7 Mr. Tolimir, please continue.
8 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
9 WITNESS: PETAR SKRBIC [Resumed]
10 [Witness answered through interpreter]
11 Examination by Mr. Tolimir: [Continued]
12 Q. [Interpretation] Greetings to Mr. Skrbic, and I would like him to
13 have a pleasant stay among us.
14 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Can we please have in e-court
15 1D111, the one that we saw yesterday on our screens. I apologise. It
16 should be 1D1111, four 1s.
17 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you.
18 Mr. McCloskey.
19 MR. McCLOSKEY: And good morning, Mr. President and Your Honours,
20 everyone. There is certainly a chance I can finish in one day. I
21 certainly hope to, so I just want -- there is a chance I can, so I will
22 try to, in fact. But, you know, sometimes I tend to talk, but we hope
23 we'll get done in a day.
24 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much for this encouragement of the
25 Chamber. That is appreciated.
1 Mr. Tolimir.
2 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. Thank
3 you, Mr. McCloskey.
4 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
5 Q. Mr. Witness, yesterday we saw this document but since you didn't
6 have your glasses, I am going to repeat one question that I put to you
7 yesterday. Did you amend in any way whatsoever those notes after you had
8 compiled them? Did you remove or delete any portions or add any portions
9 to it? Thank you.
10 A. No, I didn't change anything.
11 Q. Thank you. Mr. Skrbic, please, can you tell us where did you
12 keep this document from the moment you created it until the moment you
13 handed it over to Mr. Aleksandar Gajic, the Defence legal advisor? Thank
15 A. Mr. Tolimir, initially it was on a floppy disk, and then I copied
16 it to my laptop computer and this is where I kept it.
17 Q. Thank you. You kept it just like any other electronic file or
18 did you provide some specific protection for it? In other words, my
19 question is: How did you manage to save it from being destroyed?
20 A. Unfortunately, I have lost a lot of files. I didn't save this
21 document as a special document, and I didn't attach any special
22 importance to it. It was among other documents that I kept with its own
23 annotation, and I think I explained that to the Trial Chamber. The
24 letter O indicated that this was beyond my scope of responsibility but,
25 rather, within the scope of responsibility that were not part of my
1 purview. Therefore, I did not keep it as a particular important
3 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Now, let us look at the first entry,
4 dated 18th March, 1995, and I am going to read:
5 "Izetbegovic managed in America to have humanitarian aid provided
6 by air-drops, but he will actually receive weapons. The Muslims are
7 planning offensive operations from Bjelasnica towards Gorazde in order to
8 link up the enclave with Sarajevo. All the preparations at the
9 1st Muslim Corps have been finalised and they have 10.000 troops
10 allocated for that operation."
11 Now, Mr. Skrbic, can you please comment this note and what is its
12 significance? Thank you.
13 A. That was one among the first pieces of information that indicated
14 that preparations were underway for large-scale operations directed
15 against the Army of Republika Srpska. That is probably the reason why I
16 became interested in following this kind of information. That was the
17 route which indicated that preparations would start against Army of
18 Republika Srpska by the BH Army.
19 And this first sentence, which speaks about air-drops,
20 humanitarian air-drops that will, in fact, supply weapons, was
21 subsequently confirmed as true in practice. As I said yesterday, it was
22 also confirmed by a diplomat from the Ukraine when he spoke to
23 General Mladic. After that, I don't know which year it was in, but a few
24 helicopters crashed that were carrying weapons for Zepa.
25 Q. Mr. Skrbic, can you please look at the second entry dated the
1 19th of March, 1995, and I would like you to focus on paragraph 3, and I
2 am going to read it.
3 "The Muslims are moving and regrouping nearly on all lines of
4 contact. The soldiers finished school during the war and have been
5 promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonels. They established a
6 professional brigade in Tesanj, and in Bugojno they are starting
7 producing electric fuses for mines."
8 Can you tell us the meaning of what you say here, "moving and
10 A. When you have moving and regrouping in a war, every officer in
11 the army realises that large-scale operations were in offing, and it's up
12 to them to estimate whether these movements and these regrouping were on
13 a large-scale, and if that is the case, then it would entail large-scale
14 combat operations. Due to that, every army in the world is watching and
15 monitoring the movement and the regrouping of their enemies.
16 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Let us now look at entry dated
17 21st January, 1995. Can you please tell us, since the first one is dated
18 the 18th of March and we have now this date, can you tell us is that
19 maybe a mistake that you made in the date?
20 A. No, this was not intentionally written. I think that's an error.
21 Q. Thank you. Can you tell us what the correct date would be?
22 A. It should read the 21st of March, 1995, which is confirmed by
23 paragraph 3 in chapter 03, which reads: "On the 20th of March, 1995, in
24 the early morning hours ..." and so on and so forth.
25 Q. Thank you. Let us now take a look at the second paragraph of
1 this entry which reads, and I quote:
2 "In the forthcoming offensive, America is going to provide
3 intelligence reports to the Muslims. They are going to engage unmanned
4 aircraft to take off from the island of Brac. The training of the
5 Muslims in Zelina and Varazdin is being carried out from mercenaries from
6 Austria and Germany that had come from the Foreign Legion. Via Slovenia,
7 the Muslims are being sent to Bosnia in order to cut off the corridor
8 near Orasje."
9 My question is: Can you please comment on this note. Do you
10 know anything about these unmanned aircraft as a means of collecting
11 intelligence? Thank you.
12 A. Your Honour, this information turned out to be true. Since I,
13 myself, saw the flights by unmanned aircraft, will you allow me to
14 describe that briefly for your benefit?
15 JUDGE FLUEGGE: This was part of the question. Please carry on.
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I experienced this in the western
17 part of Republika Srpska during the attack launched by the Croatian army
18 launched against the Army of Republika Srpska. Similar things occurred
19 throughout the territory of Republika Srpska. At about 5.00 in the
20 morning, there would be artillery preparations. They would shell the
21 settlements and units of the VRS. This would be done from 5.00 to 10.00
22 in the morning, and then at 10.00, a drone would fly over the area to
23 carry out reconnaissance and to take photographs. Some of these drones
24 were targeted by the air defence of Republika Srpska. In some other
25 parts of the Republika Srpska, some of the drones were hit. But the one
1 I was looking at was not hit. When the drone returned from where it had
2 taken off, at around 1400 hours artillery fire would be opened again, and
3 then around 1500 hours or just before night fell, aircraft would take
4 off. On one occasion I could recognise fighter planes above
5 Mrkonjic Grad.
6 As someone from the anti-aircraft defence, I could recognise
7 these planes to be NATO pact planes. I could recognise MIGs that the
8 Croatian army also had in their possession, as well as the JNA.
9 Sometimes they would target the relay stations on Kozara. I won't go
10 into that, but unfortunately they would also target columns of refugees.
11 In this manner, the drones carried out reconnaissance throughout the
12 territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the information gathered was
13 provided to the Croatian army and to the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
14 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
15 Q. Thank you. We will now have a look at the last paragraph on
16 page 1 of this document, dated the 21st of March.
17 "The Muslims have bought 15 surface-to-surface missiles which
18 were taken over into Croatia via Hungary in humanitarian aid convoys.
19 Croatia retained five of the missiles."
20 My question is as follows: At the time when you made this entry,
21 did you have any information of trafficking in weapons by using
22 humanitarian aid convoys, and do you know anything about the routes via
23 which Muslims managed to obtain weapons? Thank you.
24 A. With regard to the process of bringing weapons as a whole for the
25 needs of the ABiH, well, we were familiar with that, but with regard to
1 this particular case, I found out about it from an intelligence report.
2 Not this one.
3 Mr. Tolimir, every entry here is something I can tell you about
4 in relation to the general situation and the general way in which weapons
5 were brought in. So perhaps I couldn't remember all the rifles, every
6 rifle, every piece of weapons that were brought in, but there were some
7 Luna missiles that were brought in from Hungary. There were multiple
8 rocket-launchers that were brought in and other equipment as well,
9 including ammunition. And this was the general process followed by the
10 ABiH when it came to obtaining weapons from abroad.
11 I had information according to which in Maribor, in Slovenia, the
12 police accidentally found 150.000 rifles. They then took those rifles to
13 Bosnia and Herzegovina via Croatia, but they would always keep some for
14 themselves. They would always retain 30 per cent of these weapons,
15 regardless of what kind of weapons they were.
16 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Given your military speciality, what is a
17 surface-to-surface missile? What does that mean?
18 A. Your Honours, a surface-to-surface missile has a large warhead on
19 the missile and it uses solid fuel in its engine. It is launched from
20 the surface and targets troops or facilities on land. Anti-aircraft
21 missiles, on the other hand, have a different type of warhead because
22 these warheads fragment in the air without directly hitting the plane.
23 When a plane is hit by these fragments, it is then destroyed.
24 But in these cases there are also two types of missiles used for
25 different purposes. There are missiles that are used for anti-aircraft
1 defence of troops, that's a so-called anti-aircraft troop defence
2 missile, and the anti-aircraft missiles that are used to defend the
4 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Let's now have a look at the note on
5 page 2, paragraph 3, where it says the following. You can see it. It's
6 on this page, second line:
7 "Muslims are fortifying themselves in the vicinity of Gorazde,
8 around Gorazde, because they are expecting an attack on the enclave after
9 the attack of the Muslim army in the direction of Trnovo."
10 My question is as follows: Where is Trnovo, which part of the
11 territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina or the Republika Srpska, and how far
12 is it from Gorazde?
13 A. Trnovo is a place closer to Sarajevo than Gorazde, but I don't
14 know how far it is from Gorazde exactly.
15 Q. Thank you. Is the territory of the municipality of Trnovo -- or
16 the territory of the municipality of Trnovo and of Gorazde, are they --
17 do they border on each other?
18 A. Your Honours, in the pre-war situation, given the pre-war
19 divisions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, these municipalities were not the
20 same -- or, rather, they were the same. But in the post-war situation,
21 well, I don't know how these things were organised.
22 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Could you tell us whether you know
23 Gorazde had the same status of a protected and demilitarised zone, as was
24 the case for Srebrenica and Zepa? Thank you.
25 A. Yes, it was a protected zone. General Michael Rose - and this is
1 something I found out through hearsay - warned General Mladic that
2 Gorazde should not be attacked, even though General Rose admitted that
3 there were attacks from other enclaves launched against the Army of
4 Republika Srpska. And other places were also attacked in the direction
5 of Trnovo, as stated in this document here.
6 Q. Thank you. Mr. Skrbic, let's please have a look at the
7 entry 0.4, dated the 22nd of March, 1995. I am interested in
8 paragraphs 3, 4, and 5. As there is no translation, I'll read it out.
9 And I quote:
10 "NATO is preparing a special corps with about 40.000 men, the
11 purpose of which will be to evacuate UNPROFOR forces when the conflict
12 escalates, as expected, because the Muslims have already been forced to
13 do that. The Muslims in the enclaves are blocking UNPROFOR forces with
14 the purpose of trying to force them to withdraw."
15 Third paragraph.
16 "Schools and nurseries are being closed in Tuzla, which is a
17 reliable indicator that the Muslims offensive is quite certain."
18 My question is as follows: Do you know anything about a plan to
19 evacuate the UNPROFOR forces as stated here?
20 A. Well, there was a general tendency. We became aware of it
21 through information from UNPROFOR itself. Lieutenant-Colonel Dudnjik
22 spoke about this at the meeting in Vlasenica. He said that UNPROFOR had
23 no choice but to withdraw from the entire territory to make it possible
24 to use the air force on the battle-field. They didn't say to use force
25 against the VRS. That wasn't stated, but when the air force was used, it
1 was always against the VRS. So the members of UNPROFOR themselves were
2 afraid. They feared for their security. They were afraid of all the
3 sides in the party.
4 Your Honours, I know that even in Tuzla the ABiH members blocked
5 UNPROFOR forces in Bihac. When I was in the 2nd Krajina Corps, a major
6 from the French army, who was an UNPROFOR member, complained to us about
7 an inappropriate relationship that the Muslim army in Bihac had towards
8 them. Colonel Vojisavljevic [phoen] from the 2nd Krajina Corps was also
9 present, and he didn't know how to help them.
10 Q. Thank you. My question is as follows: The entries I have just
11 quoted, do they concern all the enclaves in the territory of Bosnia and
12 Herzegovina? Is that what is shown by the entries you made? Thank you.
13 A. Yes. These entries concern all the enclaves.
14 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
15 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I apologise to the interpreters.
16 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
17 Q. In the following paragraph, paragraph 5, entry 04, it says:
18 "Schools and nurseries are being closed in Tuzla, and this is a
19 reliable indicator that the Muslim offensive is quite certain."
20 My question is: Why is closing schools and nurseries a reliable
21 indicator that the Muslim offensive is quite certain? Could you answer
22 that question.
23 A. Your Honours, in the course of the war Tuzla was under the
24 control of the ABiH. Given that the population could see that they were
25 preparing an attack as part of a general offensive, it's quite logical to
1 expect that the VRS army will respond, and that is the reason for which
2 the schools were being closed in Tuzla.
3 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Could we now please see the last
4 paragraph of entry 0.5, 0.5. That's the following entry, the next entry.
5 Thank you. I quote:
6 "In agreement with UNPROFOR representatives, the Muslims want to
7 protect the enclaves and to have UN forces on their side. They want to
8 amend their mandate and carry out a spring offensive without encountering
9 any obstacles."
10 Mr. Skrbic, do you know which offensive is being referred to
11 here? Thank you. Which spring offensive is being referred to here?
12 A. This offensive was planned as early as the beginning of January.
13 I say this with some reservations. I didn't examine the documents. I
14 don't know when it was planned, and I haven't seen documents from the
15 ABiH, from the Muslim side. But given certain events on the ground, it
16 was possible to see that this offensive had already been launched
17 because, in April, there was intense fighting in the direction of Trnovo
18 and Vlasic and other places, and there was fighting from the direction of
19 Bihac as well, but they gave up because of the bad conditions. So the
20 contents of this report were, in fact, confirmed by events on the ground.
21 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. What enclaves does this refer to in the
22 RS? I am talking about this entry. Thank you.
23 A. Mr. Tolimir, I must say that there were no enclaves in the RS.
24 Q. Thank you. But were there Muslim enclaves in the territory of
25 the RS that were given the status of protected zones? Thank you.
1 A. Now I understand. Those were enclaves in the east of Bosnia and
2 Herzegovina or in the present-day Republika Srpska. They were Srebrenica
3 and Zepa.
4 Q. Thank you.
5 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Could we please see page 3 of these
6 notes. I am interested in entry 0.6. I would like to focus on
7 paragraphs 2 and 3.
8 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
9 Q. I quote paragraph 2, and the date is 24 March 1995:
10 "The Muslims are preparing an attack on Brcko, Teslic, and
11 Trnovo. The Muslims have not reorganised their army for such an
12 extensive task and yet will carry out offensive actions in a synchronised
14 "In Gorazde, the Muslims are forcing UNPROFOR to withdraw because
15 they have the intention to attack Serbian positions from there, too."
16 These were paragraphs 2 and 3 of the entry dated 24 March 1995.
17 Here is my question: Mr. Skrbic, please explain to the
18 Trial Chamber in which parts of the Republika Srpska Brcko, Teslic, and
19 Trnovo are? Is it one region or are they located in different regions?
20 Thank you.
21 A. Your Honours, Brcko is in the north-eastern part of Bosnia and
22 Herzegovina. It is on the river Sava, on the right bank. Teslic is some
23 100 or 120 kilometres from Brcko towards the central part of Bosnia and
24 Herzegovina. And Trnovo is quite a different place altogether. It's to
25 the north-west of Sarajevo, not far from the city. All these places are
1 in different locations so that this information that attacks on these
2 places are being prepared is a reliable indicator of an imminent general
4 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Let us deal with entry 0.7 now. I am
5 interested in paragraph 1, and the date is 25 March 1995. I quote:
6 "The Muslim offensive is meant to be a means of pressurising
7 Western diplomacy to open talks about the acceptance of the plan of the
8 contact group and the legalisation of the results of the Muslim army
9 achieved during the cessation of hostilities as well as preventing
10 Serbian responses, especially against the enclaves."
11 Here is my question. What does this phrase mean: "The
12 legalisation of the results of the Muslim army achieved during the
13 cessation of hostilities"? Thank you.
14 A. In the entire territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Muslims
15 were taking significant portions of territory. The results overall were
16 not overwhelming, but they wanted their successes to be legalised.
17 However, not these results to be used as a means of pressurising the
18 contact group but, instead, to exert pressure on foreign diplomacy which
19 in turn would influence the contact group. But the plans of the contact
20 group were not favorable for the Republika Srpska.
21 So there was an agreement reached, eventually, to keep the
22 territories controlled by the three parties, the VRS, the BH Army, and
23 the HVO, as they were. That would have been acceptable for the RS, but
24 the contact group changed that thoroughly. That's why there had to be
25 pressure exerted on the contact group and the VRS, and I talked about
1 that yesterday when I paraphrased the words of General Wesley Clark.
2 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Let us look at entry 0.8, which is on
3 page 4 of your document. We can see that this entry is dated
4 26 March 1995. I quote:
5 "Muslims are pressurising UNPROFOR to bring about a change of its
6 mandate in the former Bosnia-Herzegovina. They are probing the reactions
7 with regard to the protection of the enclaves, and they got assurances by
8 NATO that the enclaves will be protected by the air force. The
9 preparations for an attack on Teslic are nearing their end. The Muslims
10 are pressurising the HVO to support them with artillery which they will
11 probably accept. And when they use up the artillery, then the Muslims
12 will attack them." Remark by PS.
13 What do these initials PS stand for? I mentioned them at the end
14 of my quote. Thank you.
15 A. PS are the initials of Petar Skrbic; in other words, me. This
16 kind of making remarks is part of the scholarly procedure, so when you
17 enter a comment of your own you must clearly mark it as such.
18 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Here is my question: Did you have any
19 other information about the assurances that NATO gave the Muslims to the
20 effect that they would protect the enclaves by the air force? Thank you.
21 A. Your Honours, let me first inform you, because this is reliable
22 information, that in 1993, in Brussels, it was agreed that the NATO
23 air force units would be used, but it was not defined against whom they
24 would be used. Initially, this agreement was neutral. They wanted to
25 protect UNPROFOR in the territory of the whole former SFRY.
1 Later that changed. NATO was always saying that they were
2 protecting UNPROFOR and the enclaves, but in late 1995, they totally
3 sided with the Croatian and Muslim armies in their air-strikes. The book
4 written by Mr. Richard Holbrooke clearly shows how the mandate was
5 changed, the mandate of the NATO forces. Since in 1995, according to his
6 own words, he was asking President Clinton daily to bomb Serbian
7 positions, and I am going to paraphrase one of his sentences. He was
8 saying, Mr. President, there is no talking with them. They must be hit.
9 And he was always sending such messages to the president that there is no
10 other solution, that air-strikes against the Serbian positions must be
11 carried out.
12 In his book "Modern Warfare," Mr. Wesley Clark wrote about the
13 bombing of the FRY. Yesterday, I couldn't answer Mr. Tolimir's question
14 because he asked me where did they go in 1996. I don't know about
15 Leighton Smith even today, but I know that Wesley Clark became the
16 commander of NATO forces. And in his book "Modern Warfare," Clark wrote,
17 among others, about the bombing of the RS.
18 Your Honours, NATO once threatened the Muslims to bomb them, but
19 that never happened. They threatened because of the provocations from
20 the enclaves directed against the VRS. So we can conclude from that that
21 the positions of the VRS, the territory and the population of the RS were
22 the only ones to be bombed by NATO air force. Nobody else. Not even --
23 there weren't even collateral -- there wasn't even collateral damage on
24 anybody else's part.
25 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Let us now look at paragraph 6 of this
1 entry, dated 26 March 1995. I quote:
2 "The Muslims are illegally moving out because they think that the
3 offensive against the VRS began with insufficient preparations and that
4 the VRS will respond."
5 Since this is not translated, please explain to us what
6 illegal -- what this phrase means, "illegally moving out." To which
7 enclaves does this apply? Thank you.
8 A. Your Honours, in a number of towns and in some territories in the
9 RS, Muslims lived during the war normally. I cannot list them all but
10 I'll give you some examples, Sanski Most, Mrkonjic Grad, Brcko, and some
11 other places which I cannot remember now. They lived normally there so
12 that this process of moving out has been labeled illegal because nobody
13 forced those Muslims to move away. And, Your Honours, nobody is so
14 susceptible to the effects of war than the population. They sometimes
15 know more about it than military officers, and they react in an almost
16 natural way when they are afraid, irrespective of the combat
17 activities -- or their nature, I mean. When there is armed conflict, the
18 population is afraid and, logically, flees.
19 Q. Thank you. Now let us look at the last paragraph on page 5.
20 Thank you. Yes, here it is. It's entry 0.11, dated 1 April 1995. I
22 "The NATO air forces in Italy are preparing for offensive
23 actions, but no higher level of alert has been declared for their units.
24 Some transport equipment has been transported to Split, allegedly in
25 order to pull out UNPROFOR."
1 The last words are on the following page. Thank you.
2 Mr. Skrbic, please explain to us, what does this mean,
3 "preparation for offensive actions without a higher level of alert being
4 declared"? Thank you.
5 A. Yes, I can explain. That was my speciality for a long time,
6 anti-aircraft defence. In all countries, when you declare a higher level
7 of alert, then all personnel, pilots, and engineers must be at the
8 airfield. And there are three levels of combat readiness. Level three
9 is when the planes are armed, the pilots are at the airfield, but they
10 are still in the barracks, to put it that way. Level two means that the
11 pilots have to be on the apron but do not board the planes yet. And
12 level one means when the pilots must be in the cockpits, the planes are
13 armed, and only waiting for the signal to take off.
14 So this information means that none of these three levels was
15 ordered, but they are -- but readiness is heightened anyway. However,
16 these three higher levels have not been declared.
17 Did you ask about anything else?
18 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. That will suffice with regard to my
19 question. Let us now look at the entry dated the 2nd of April, 1995.
20 Thank you. This is enough. Since we don't have a translation I am going
21 to quote the first two paragraphs. Quote:
22 "NATO aircraft are preventing flights by the Muslim and
23 Croatian --"
24 I'm sorry, I made a mistake and it should read as follows:
25 "NATO aircraft are not preventing flights by Muslim and Croatian
2 The next paragraph:
3 "UNPROFOR is exploring the intentions of the Serbs towards the
4 enclaves. Only in that area do they wish to exert pressure to have the
5 cessation of hostilities honoured."
6 Can you tell us which particular areas are they talking about
7 when they speak about the cessation of hostilities? Was it the whole of
8 Bosnia or which specific areas did you have in mind? Can you explain
9 that to us.
10 A. In the area of Sarajevo, Srebrenica, Zepa, and Gorazde. I'm
11 sorry, in Bihac as well.
12 Q. Thank you. My next question is: Was UNPROFOR or NATO, for that
13 matter, obliged to prevent all flights over Bosnia and Herzegovina and
14 any hostilities that were in breach of the agreement on the cessation of
15 hostilities? Thank you.
16 A. Your Honours, I would like to remind you, because I am very well
17 informed and knowledgeable about this area thanks to my research, that
18 the UN Assembly - I don't know what number it was - but it adopted a
19 resolution which was called "No-fly zone," which pertained to the
20 air-space above the entire Bosnia and Herzegovina. In other words, as
21 from that year and throughout the war, no one except NATO aircraft was
22 allowed to fly in that air-space. I saw it with my own eyes that they
23 projected and ejected infrared protection, which is actually anti-missile
24 defence because a rocket always follows a stronger infrared beam.
25 This information testifies to the fact that they were acting
1 partially, that some sides were prevented from flying, some sides were
2 not. The reaction and the speed of NATO actions was not equal to
3 everyone. According to this resolution, these flights should have been
4 forbidden and it was up to NATO to do that.
5 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Let's move now to page 7 so that we can
6 take a look at the next entry. It's at the very top of the page, and I
8 "The Croats are mobilising new soldiers across Slavonia and
9 rotating units towards Grahovo and Glamoc. They are using enormous
10 resources in order to clear up the roads."
11 My question is: Do you have any personal knowledge about this?
12 Thank you. I am talking about the activities of the Croatian army.
13 A. Yes, I do. I was particularly interested in following the events
14 involving Glamoc because that was my birthplace. Later on it turned out
15 that this information was completely true.
16 Q. Thank you. Now, please, let's look at entry 0.13, paragraph 7.
17 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Can we please scroll up --
18 actually, scroll down so that we can see the bottom of the page. Thank
20 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
21 Q. Now, look at the fifth paragraph from the bottom, which reads:
22 "Forcible mobilisations among Muslims in nearly all major towns.
23 They are calling up even those hadn't been called up before."
24 My question is: What does "forcible mobilisation" mean and what
25 does it indicate?
1 JUDGE FLUEGGE: This is the fourth paragraph from the bottom, not
2 the fifth.
3 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, since we already
5 discussed various types of mobilisation in my testimony, I would just
6 like to focus on the term "forcible mobilisation." Since in the
7 territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina controlled by their army general
8 mobilisation was declared, and just like in Republika Srpska this was
9 pretty exhausting for the population for the federation. The conscripts
10 were reluctant to respond to the call up. Forcible means that physical
11 force and not only physical force was used, but also they were threatened
12 with weapons should they fail to respond. So it was no longer an issue
13 of responding voluntarily. They had to respond. And when I say "they,"
14 I am talking about the Muslims, because here we are talking specifically
15 about this ethnic group.
16 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Can we now have page 8 of this document,
17 paragraphs 2 and 3. Now, let's look at paragraphs 2, 3, and 4 on this
18 page, and I quote:
19 "They are offloading equipment from the US army ships. They are
20 being transported to the NDH," which is an abbreviation for the
21 independent state of Croatia, "purportedly for the intention of pulling
22 out UNPROFOR."
23 Next paragraph.
24 "The Muslims are being supplied by US aircraft via Dubrave
25 airfield and the costs are covered by Libya, Iran, and Kuwait. Through
1 offensive operations Muslims are endeavouring to take control of Teslic,
2 Doboj, and Vozuca, and then together with the Croats they would advance
3 towards Posavina."
4 Mr. Skrbic, can you tell us what do -- does this information that
5 you recorded here suggest?
6 A. Mr. Tolimir, there are three kinds of events described here.
7 First of all, the pulling out of UNPROFOR from Croatia. That never
8 materialised, but it is true that they indeed offloaded equipment about
9 which I spoke yesterday when I said that I found shell casings with NATO
10 marks on it near Mrkonjic Grad, and they had been used on the positions
11 held by the Croatian army whilst attacking Republika Srpska.
12 Now, the second paragraph deals with the financing. The costs of
13 this operation involving the landing of aircraft on Dubrave airfield or,
14 rather, the fact that they landed there was not difficult to notice. We
15 noticed that there were at least 30 sorties, and one could only assume
16 that they were carrying military equipment because such a huge number of
17 sorties are never used when you are carrying humanitarian aid. These
18 costs were covered by these three countries that I already mentioned, and
19 I would like to add that Saudi Arabia extensively financed the Muslim
21 And paragraph 3, speaking about the taking control of Teslic,
22 Doboj, and Vozuca, pertained to the information about joint offensive
23 operations with the Croats in general.
24 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. When you commented the first paragraph,
25 you said that UNPROFOR was not actually pulled out because it says here
1 "purportedly." Can you explain what you meant by the word "purportedly"?
2 In the Serbian the word is "navodno"? Does that indicate an intention or
3 an excuse?
4 A. Your Honours, the word "navodno" in the Serbian language means
5 that it's not true. That this was not intended for the pullout operation
6 of UNPROFOR. I would like to draw your attention to the inverted commas
7 that we have in the word "pulling-out," which really indicates a big
8 question mark over the whole operation. Actually, a true and real
9 terminology is not being used and that's only to be expected. Nobody is
10 going to say openly that this was used to bomb the Serb army and the Serb
11 positions. That's why the word "allegedly" or "purportedly," "navodno,"
12 was used.
13 Q. Can we now look at 0.15, your entry 0.15. It's dated the
14 7th of April, 1995. I am going to read paragraph 2. Second, third, and
15 fourth, and fifth:
16 "The West estimates that the Muslims have not had any significant
17 successes in the most recent offensive and they are still incapable of
18 defeating the Serbs."
19 The next paragraph:
20 "They are preparing their public for air-strikes because they
21 claim that the Serbs are attacking safe havens, and they are causing
22 incidents involving UNPROFOR. The Muslim population is anxious because
23 they are anticipating an attack towards Vozuca and Teslic. The losses
24 incurred on Majevica they are trying to play down by launching a
25 propaganda about the Serb attacks on the protected areas. They are
1 preparing their population for attacks on Trebava and Gradacac."
2 Mr. Skrbic, can you please explain what this is all about and
3 what were the consequences of this kind of estimate that the West had
4 made about the Muslims incapability to defeat the Serbs?
5 A. The Western estimates about the balance of power were confirmed
6 by Admiral Leighton Smith, General Clark, and General Walker at the
7 meetings that you, Mr. Tolimir, attended yourself. This balance of power
8 had not been achieved. Before that time, as we all saw, they were
9 providing support to the Muslims in all shape and form. But in view of
10 the amount of the assistance that they received, the Muslims failed to
11 achieve a proportionate level of success. That's why the West assessed
12 that they should launch a -- stronger attacks on the Serbs.
13 But, Your Honours, it is common knowledge that the West said at
14 that time, "We don't have reason, as yet, to engage major air force. You
15 Muslims have to give us some substantial reason that we can use as a
16 justification for the use of aircraft." So this was reflected on what
17 the Muslims did in the enclave by provoking UNPROFOR, blocking UNPROFOR,
18 attacking during a cease-fire, et cetera. It was extensively discussed
19 in the public that the US President Clinton had told President
20 Alija Izetbegovic: "Until you reach the number of casualties of 5.000,
21 the air force will not be used against the Serbs."
22 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Please now have a look at the third
23 paragraph, where it says:
24 "They are preparing the public from strikes from the air."
25 Please, could you tell us who is preparing the public for strikes
1 from the air? I'm referring to this entry that you made here. Thank
3 A. All countries that are NATO pact members are preparing the
4 public, the international public. It's necessary to create a
5 situation -- it's necessary to show that using NATO air-strikes is
6 justified. So they had to show what the Serbs were doing. They had to
7 show that they were doing certain things that they shouldn't be doing.
8 They wouldn't withdraw the artillery from Sarajevo. They had to show
9 that they wouldn't listen, that they were attacking enclaves. But they
10 were provoked from the enclaves. In fact, the Muslims would launch an
11 attack, and then they would say that this was the Serbs' fault. So
12 that's the sense in which they were preparing public opinion for
13 air-strikes carried out by NATO.
14 Forces for rapid intervention were prepared. They were located
15 in Split. So the purpose was for the public to believe that, in fact, it
16 really was necessary to bomb the Serbs. So this was the propaganda that
17 was at stake, the preparation of the -- so that the public would be able
18 to accept such action.
19 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Could we see page 9 of Mr. Skrbic's
20 notes now. Could we see what was entered on the 17th of April, 1995 --
21 rather, the 10th of April, 1995.
22 THE INTERPRETER: Correction.
23 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
24 Q. We can see that entry, and I'll read out the first sentence:
25 "The NATO pact air force is carrying out intensive reconnaissance
1 of the protected zones. They are gathering information on Serbian
2 facilities in case these areas should be bombed."
3 My question is as follows: Did you have any information about
4 these events referred to in this entry, or were you perhaps an
5 eye-witness and how was this information gathered?
6 A. Mr. Tolimir, carrying out reconnaissance from the air -- carrying
7 out reconnaissance of not only protected areas but the entire territory
8 of Bosnia-Herzegovina was something that was done on a daily basis and it
9 was done continually. It was done by drones and particularly by aircraft
10 that were involved in reconnaissance. As I am an officer from that
11 domain, I assume that reconnaissance was also carried out from AWACS
12 reconnaissance planes. This was electronic surveillance. I couldn't see
13 this myself, naturally, but there is such a manner of carrying out
14 reconnaissance as well.
15 As far as protected zones are concerned, Your Honours, I can
16 claim with much certainty that NATO has photographs that show what was
17 going on in the protected zones, and this involves movements of the
18 Serbian and the Muslim forces. They had such daily information, and on
19 each photograph you have information that shows when the photograph was
20 taken, at what time, and which territory was photographed or which
21 stretch of territory was photographed.
22 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Could you please tell us what preparing
23 for bombing involves?
24 A. Mr. Tolimir, this question requires a lengthy answer, but I will
25 try to be brief, Your Honours. Apart from preparing the public to accept
1 such action, when the army receives an order to bomb a certain area they
2 have to receive information telling them which targets and which
3 locations to target. They have to be told what sort of bombs to use
4 because they have bombs of various weights and calibres.
5 Then you have to know what the situation is in the territory.
6 You have to know whether the UNPROFOR forces in the territory are
7 protected, whether they are safe. And there is -- there are other things
8 that have to be done before the bombing starts. And once you start
9 bombing, you can't stop it. It's a military and a technical process that
10 isn't easily stopped. I am referring to process of bombing itself. You
11 can call back planes, but once the planes start bombing, this can't be
13 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic.
14 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I think it would be
15 better to have a break now rather than move on to my next series of
16 questions. Thank you.
17 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Indeed, we should have our first break now, and
18 we will resume at 11.00.
19 --- Recess taken at 10.28 a.m.
20 [The witness stands down]
21 [The witness takes the stand]
22 --- On resuming at 11.02 a.m.
23 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, you have up to now used more than
24 seven hours for your examination-in-chief, and I note that you have dealt
25 extensively with the war notebook of the witness, for the time
1 18th of March until 10th of April. If you are continuing at this pace,
2 it will take much time. And I have no idea about your intentions how to
3 go ahead, but you should be aware of the time you use with this specific
4 document. But now you have the floor again, and please proceed.
5 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. We'll
6 conclude with this matter today, and I'll bear in mind what you have
7 said. Thank you.
8 Could we please see page 10 now. I am interested in the entries
9 made on the 13th of April, 1995. And I quote ... could we please see the
10 following page? I made a mistake. The next page.
11 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
12 Q. Mr. Skrbic, let's have a look at the third paragraph on this
13 page. It says:
14 "The Muslims are massing their troops in the direction of
15 Han Pijesak and Vlasenica and Sekovici. They are focussing their action
16 on Vlasic in the direction of Galici."
17 The following line:
18 "The 16th Division is preparing to launch an attack on the Nis
19 plateau. They are intensifying attacks from enclaves, from protected
21 My question is as follows: What does the massing of forces in a
22 certain area or on a certain axis indicate, in fact? Thank you.
23 A. Massing forces in a given area in the direction of a given axis
24 is a reliable indicator of preparations that are underway for combat
1 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic.
2 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Could we now please see P2369,
3 which is a Prosecution exhibit. Thank you.
4 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, may I ask you about your intentions
5 in relation to the document 1D1111?
6 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] We'll go back to it after we have
7 had a look at this document. Thank you.
8 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much. Please go ahead.
9 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
10 Q. Here we can see that there is a document from the Republic of
11 Bosnia and Herzegovina. It's from their Supreme Command Staff of the
12 armed forces of the RBH. The date, the 9th of November, 1994. It's a
13 basic plan for the execution of the task. That is the title of this
14 document. Have a look at item 1, at that paragraph. I'll read it out:
15 "The plan is: Liberate in active combat action parts of the
16 temporarily seized territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the municipality of
17 Bratunac, Vlasenica, Sekovici, Zvornik, and Kalesija, and link the free
18 territories of Zepa and Srebrenica with the free territories of Zvornik,
19 Kalesija and Zivinice, in order to create a permanent free corridor for
20 the supply of the population and logistics support to the units of the
21 Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina and a basis for the further liberation of
22 North-Eastern Bosnia as a whole."
23 My question is as follows: In your entries in the previous
24 document mention was made of mass -- of the massing of Muslim forces in
25 the direction of Han Pijesak, Vlasenica, and Sekovici. In that entry
1 that we had a look at a minute ago is there information that indicates
2 that the plan was carried out, the one mentioned in the document, and
3 does it confirm what is mentioned in this document?
4 A. Well, these two documents, if we compare them, they are
5 completely compatible with each other. In this ABiH document, half of
6 the territory is even more extended. It includes Kalesija as well. I
7 won't repeat the names of all the places, but it concerns the entire
8 Podrinje area, from the south right up to Bijeljina, as far as Bijeljina,
9 and this confirms the intention that was referred to in my notes. The
10 intention to launch an offensive.
11 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
12 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
13 Q. Thank you. Please tell us if the Main Staff of the VRS knew of
14 the BH Army preparations and of their intention to link the territories
15 of the enclaves Srebrenica, Zepa, and Gorazde with the territory
16 controlled by the 2nd Corps of the BH Army?
17 A. Yes, the Main Staff was aware of that. And I am certain that
18 such information can be found in the intelligence from which -- or,
19 rather, based on which I made my notes, too.
20 Q. Thank you.
21 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Could we now again see 1D1111.
22 These are General Skrbic's notes. Thank you.
23 We can see them. Let us go to page 12, paragraph 3. Thank you.
24 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
25 Q. Let us now focus on the third paragraph from the top. I quote:
1 "In all sections of the front line, the Muslims are resting their
2 units, mobilising new ones, and preparing for new offensive actions to
3 make up for their failure so far, especially in the Stolice (Majevica)
5 If we skip one paragraph now and focus on the fifth paragraph on
6 this page, it reads:
7 "They are launching activities from Sarajevo and from the
8 enclaves to provoke the Serbs and bring about air-strikes of NATO
10 How did the Muslims try to bring about NATO air-strikes against
11 VRS positions, as far as you know? Thank you.
12 A. The Muslims -- or, rather, I apologise, the members of the
13 BH Army who were Muslims were very clear about NATO's unwillingness to
14 act if they don't have a justification for that. And the justification
15 for air-strikes would be actions taken by the VRS, and these actions can
16 be brought about by provocations from the enclaves to which the VRS would
17 have responded.
18 It is clear from what is stated here that cease-fires are
19 useless. When either side ceases fire, there are no NATO air-strikes.
20 But when the Muslims launch military actions from protected zones, that
21 was a breach of the mandate of UNPROFOR, and then the public and NATO had
22 an excuse to intervene if the Serbs respond to such provocations. That
23 is why they always tried to present these provocations in such a manner
24 as to give NATO a pretext for acting.
25 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Please take a look at your entry marked
1 0.23, dated 16 April 1995. We can see it right on our screens. I am
2 interested in the first paragraph, which reads, I quote:
3 "The West openly advocates the continuation of the war in the
4 former Bosnia and Herzegovina and sides with the Muslims who they
5 consider not yet capable enough to be a full match for the Serbs. Until
6 the Muslims become one, the war will continue and the West will insist on
7 political means. It is in their interest for the contact group to fade
8 away as soon as they make sure that AVNOJ borders are recognised."
9 THE INTERPRETER: Could the accused please repeat the part of his
10 question after the quotation.
11 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, please repeat your question after
12 the quotation. The interpreters didn't catch it. It was too fast. Once
13 again, please.
14 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
15 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
16 Q. Mr. Skrbic, can you explain this part of the text about the
17 Muslims who are not yet up to the Serbs in terms of military strength?
18 Why does it say that they are not yet a full match for the Serbs? Thank
20 A. The information available was also about the process described in
21 this paragraph. The facts concerning these processes - and I'm not
22 referring to single event but a process - were corroborated by
23 General Clark and Admiral Leighton Smith in their statements. Let me
24 remind you that General Clark said that the balance of forces had not yet
25 been achieved, that the Serbs had the upper hand. But he warned the VRS
1 and General Mladic not to fool themselves, that the balance will be
2 brought about, and that then, the Serbian army will be in an inferior
3 position. And that was also confirmed by Admiral Leighton Smith. I
4 don't need to repeat that.
5 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic.
6 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Could we please see page 13 of
7 General Skrbic's notes. I mean entry 0.25. The date of that entry is
8 5 May 1995.
9 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
10 Q. I quote. The first paragraph reads:
11 "NATO is preparing sophisticated support to the withdrawal of
12 UN forces. Two American vessels with German and American soldiers are in
13 the Adriatic.
14 "The Croats are moving planes from Pleso airfield to Pula and
15 Split. They are preparing to achieve radical objectives."
16 And the next sentence:
17 "About 2.000 Serbs were killed in Western Slavonia."
18 Mr. Skrbic, please explain what this is about and which events
19 are referred to in this entry?
20 A. Mr. Tolimir, the first sentence states that NATO is preparing
21 support. It is not difficult to learn about movements of vessels by
22 using electronic means and other means. These vessels were in the
24 The second sentence is also true. In the air force and
25 anti-aircraft defence of the VRS, there were pilots who used to fly their
1 planes from Pleso airfield, which is right outside of Zagreb, and they
2 were also trained at Pula airfield, which was a military airfield, and at
3 Split airfield, which is a combined civilian and military airfield. So
4 plane movements were also easy to observe.
5 In Western Slavonia it is stated that about 2.000 Serbs were
6 killed. That's an estimate. The exact number is something I cannot
7 confirm now.
8 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Let us go to page 14 now, entry 0.27. I
9 am interested in paragraph 6, and I quote:
10 "One Muslim helicopter was shot down and fell in the Zepa area."
11 Here is my question: Do you know why helicopters flew to and
12 from Zepa in spite of the ban on flights? Thank you.
13 A. Mr. Tolimir, we can only speculate about the reasons for their
14 flights, but the question arises, Your Honours, how come they were
15 allowed to fly when there was a no-fly zone in force, that was declared
16 pursuant to a resolution. That is the question.
17 What that helicopter which was shot down was transporting? Well,
18 most probably weapons.
19 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Could we please go to page 16 now,
20 entries 0.31. Thank you. We now see the entry dated 11 May 1995. I am
21 quoting from the first paragraph:
22 "America and Germany are trying to turn UNPROFOR into a tool for
23 support to the Croats and Muslims. An obvious proof of that is the
24 fact -- is Western Slavonia where they want to legalise what the Croats
25 took by aggression. They are trying to bring about legal air-strikes
1 carried out by NATO around Sarajevo."
2 Let us go to page 19 now. I am interested in entry 0.32. I
3 apologise, actually it's 0.35. Thank you. The date is 15 May 1995, and
4 in paragraph one you wrote:
5 "The American General Dzon Sauel [phoen] is inspecting
6 Croatian-Muslim regiment in order to create a joint federation army. He
7 is engaged in talks with the Muslim and the Croatian political
8 leaderships. Turkish representatives are on a similar task."
9 At the time, did you have either information indicating the
10 creation of a Muslim-Croatian coalition?
11 A. Mr. Tolimir, Your Honours, the Croatian president,
12 Mr. Franjo Tudjman, and the president of the Federation of
13 Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mr. Alija Izetbegovic, met in Washington in 1992, and
14 agreed to establish a joint military committee. Later, in 1995,
15 Minister Haris Silajdzic [Realtime transcript read in error "Horace"],
16 and I think that his counterpart was Boban, also went to Washington to
17 reach a specific agreement about an alliance of their armies. They did
18 not establish a military committee, but they initiated processes that
19 enabled them to act jointly in an offensive on Republika Srpska.
20 The 5th Corps of the Muslim army in Bihac assisted the Croatian
21 army in the offensive against the Republic of Serbian Krajina. That is
22 Lika and Kordun.
23 Q. Thank you. Let us go to page 20 in this document.
24 JUDGE FLUEGGE: May I interrupt you for a moment. Before we go
25 to the other page, I just want to clarify one matter.
1 Sir, you said:
2 "Later, in 1995, Minister Horace," and there is something
3 missing, "with his counterpart Boban went to Washington."
4 Can you repeat the name of this minister, please?
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, the minister's name
6 is Haris, H-a-r-i-s, Silajdzic.
7 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Judge Mindua has a question.
8 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] Yes, Witness Skrbic, on page 35 of
9 the transcript, line 2, Minister Boban, which country was he from before
10 1995? I was sure he was a minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
11 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, you should switch off your
12 microphone when you are talking to your legal advisor.
13 Mr. Skrbic.
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, Minister Boban - I
15 assume his name was Mate Boban - he was a representative of the Croats in
16 the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He wasn't from Croatia. As
17 for who participated from Croatia, I can't remember that.
18 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] That's exactly the reason for
19 which I put that question to you because you mentioned President
20 Alija Izetbegovic from Bosnia and Herzegovina and President
21 Franjo Tudjman from Croatia, and you made a parallel between the two. I
22 thought you were going to do the same with regard to minister -- with the
23 Croatian minister and the minister from Bosnia and Herzegovina. But,
24 very well, you have told us which side he was from. Thank you.
25 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, please carry on.
1 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
2 Can we please now see page 20, entry 0.36, paragraph 5 in
3 Mr. Skrbic's notes. Thank you.
4 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
5 Q. "Units of the 2nd Muslim Corps continue reconnaissance and
6 sabotage actions against Sekovici, Vlasenica, and Han Pijesak."
7 My question is as follows: Can you tell us whether this
8 information can be seen as an indicator of Muslim plans for linking up
9 territories in Eastern Bosnia with the main territory controlled by the
11 A. Yes, this information provides quite reliable indicators of their
12 intentions to link up the enclaves.
13 Q. Does that then also involve the enclaves of Zepa and Srebrenica?
14 And I'm sorry that I didn't point this out to you when I initially asked
15 the question.
16 A. Mr. Tolimir, not only Zepa and Srebrenica, but also Gorazde.
17 Q. Thank you.
18 [Trial Chamber and Legal Officer confer]
19 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I would kindly ask Trial Chamber to
20 allow me to tender 1D1111 to be admitted into evidence.
21 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, how many pages does this document
23 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. This
24 document has 22 pages.
25 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. McCloskey.
1 MR. McCLOSKEY: Yes, Mr. President. Prior to our taking a
2 position on this document, I think there is some more information we --
3 it would be appreciated whether or not this is a partial document that
4 was taken out of a larger document. For example, I believe it stops in
5 May of 1995. So if it's -- if there is June and July and it's part of a
6 bigger document, I think it should come in with the bigger document. If
7 it -- all it is is what it is, then that's the situation, then I would
8 know that. But I can't tell if this has been pulled out of a bigger
9 document or it is what it is, and I think it's incumbent upon anyone
10 offering a document such as this that we received a day or two ago just
11 to let us know so I can make a position on that.
12 I could also give my position after cross-examination as well,
13 and I could ask him about it.
14 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, can you give us some more
15 information about that or ask the witness about the full context and the
16 background of the document. We have heard something about it, but is it
17 the complete document or is it a partial document of a bigger one?
18 Please clarify that with the witness.
19 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
20 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
21 Q. Mr. Skrbic, is that the whole document that you drafted based
22 on -- is it the document in its entirety, as we see it?
23 A. Your Honours, this kind of context and this kind of information
24 constitutes a complete document. You see that the last date was the
25 25th of May. Otherwise, I was engaged in other matters after that date.
1 I was on the front. I didn't have my computer with me. I wasn't taking
2 any notes, et cetera.
3 Now, concerning this specific topic and these matters, there are
4 no other documents that are relevant.
5 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. My next question is: If anyone doubts
6 the authenticity of that document, is it possible for them to look at the
7 document that created the foundation for it and could they see these
8 entries that you highlighted?
9 A. Mr. Tolimir, this is a compilation. In some instances that was
10 rewritten verbatim, some are not, but basically the substance of
11 information was consistent with either written or oral intelligence
12 reports received by the Main Staff and General Mladic.
13 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic.
14 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. McCloskey.
15 MR. McCLOSKEY: I have no objection to this -- admissibility of
16 this document.
17 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you. I would first like to see the first
18 page and then the last page of this document. I take it that there is no
19 cover page, and the first entry is dated the 18th of March, 1995.
20 And now let's go to the last page, please. Can we go back to the
21 penultimate page. There we can see the last entry is from the
22 22nd of May, 1995. It's number 0.42. The text itself is on the next
24 The document will be marked for identification, pending
1 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, 65 ter document 1D1111 shall be
2 assigned Exhibit D350, marked for identification pending translation.
3 Thank you.
4 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you.
5 Mr. Tolimir, please proceed.
6 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. Can we
7 please now have in e-court -- no, I'm sorry. On yesterday's page of the
8 transcript 18655, lines 17 and 18, there is a record which I am going now
9 to quote.
10 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
11 Q. "I attended the meetings of collegium or meetings of Main Staff
12 commanders of the Army of Republika Srpska ..."
13 We have here the word "commanders" in plural in the record. Can
14 you tell us when collegium meetings were held of the Main Staff, how many
15 commanders were present? Thank you.
16 A. Eight commanders, Mr. Tolimir.
17 Q. Thank you. Can you please tell us which specific commanders you
18 have in mind, commanders of which units?
19 A. Those were commander of the Main Staff of the VRS and corps
20 commanders. The 1st and the 2nd Krajina Corps, the Eastern Bosnia Corps,
21 the Drina Corps, the Herzegovina Corps, the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps, and
22 the commander of air force and anti-aircraft defence. Occasionally in
23 attendance was the commander of the Guards Brigade, and I did not include
24 him in this number.
25 Q. Mr. Skrbic, speaking about the collegium of the commander of the
1 Main Staff, can you tell us whether there were any discussions at these
2 meetings relating to POWs and the treatment of prisoners of war?
3 A. Yes, there were debates of that nature.
4 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
5 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Please repeat your --
6 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
7 Q. If you recall, can you tell us what was being discussed? Can you
8 please tell us, if you remember, what was being discussed?
9 A. Your Honours, I'm sorry I have to mention my name as well, but
10 General Tolimir, General Gvero, and myself particularly insisted in those
11 meetings not only to adhere to the general attitude towards POWs, but
12 that orders should be issued -- specific orders should be issued to each
13 and every unit on how to treat the prisoners of war and to impart on them
14 the precise stipulations from the international humanitarian law. I
15 remember that clearly.
16 Some documents of that nature were, indeed, written, and I saw
17 them when I testified here before. However, I don't know how many of
18 them were drafted, and I cannot tell you the exact number at the moment.
19 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. My next question is: Do you have any
20 knowledge whether -- Zdravko Tolimir, from late July 1995 until
21 November 1995, where he was in that period?
22 A. I have partial [as interpreted] knowledge about that.
23 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Stop. You are overlapping again. We want to
24 have everything on the record, and therefore please pause between
25 question and answer.
1 Your answer is recorded as, "I have partial knowledge." Is that
2 all of what you said, or was there something more?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I said that I have
4 reliable knowledge.
5 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you.
6 Please continue, Mr. Tolimir.
7 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
8 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Can you describe for us the circumstances
9 that the VRS found themselves towards the end of July 1995? Or, more
10 specifically, what kind of problems did they encounter, because you made
11 an indication to this effect in one of your previous answers?
12 A. Your Honours, we saw from the analysis of the information
13 contained in my notes what was happening on the front line. However,
14 when Glamoc, Grahovo, Knin, and other places were occupied by the
15 Croatian army and due to intensive NATO air-strikes in that area, all the
16 generals from the Main Staff of the VRS went to that particular section
17 of the front but at different times.
18 General Djukic and General Tolimir left in late July 1995. I was
19 busy, so I left later in August. I don't know exactly when
20 General Mladic arrived, but he came there at approximately that time as
21 well, and General Milovanovic was already there. And we never went
22 anywhere from there until the end of the war.
23 Initially, we were billeted at the Kula forward command post
24 above Mrkonjic Grad, and then because of fire coming from the Croatian
25 Muslim army, we relocated our command post in Baraci where we stayed only
1 for two days, and then we have to relocate the forward command post of
2 the Main Staff of the VRS to Banja Luka.
3 Your Honours, in Banja Luka we held several meetings of the
4 collegium of the Main Staff, and we had a number of meetings with the
5 president of the republic. General Tolimir attended almost all of these
7 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Let me put a question in relation to these
8 meetings to you. You mentioned four assistant commanders, if I
9 understood you correctly; General Gvero, General Djukic, General Tolimir,
10 and yourself. Can I take from that that all assistant commanders were
11 formally member of this collegium of commanders?
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, not only formally, all
13 the assistants were, in fact, members of the collegium of the Main Staff.
14 All assistant commanders.
15 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you.
16 Mr. Tolimir.
17 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
18 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
19 Q. My next question is: During NATO air-strikes and artillery fire
20 coming from rapid reaction forces, were only VRS targets hit and whether
21 there were some civilian casualties as well?
22 A. Not only military facilities such as relay stations were
23 targeted. Civilian facilities, inhabited places were also targeted.
24 Your Honours, I was in Baraci, a village, when that village was bombed.
25 And then columns of refugees were also targeted. I know for sure that in
1 the vicinity of Petrovac, a Croatian MIG-21 targeted a column of
2 refugees. I believe there is a video recording of that event.
3 I am also an eye-witness to NATO aircraft targeting a column of
4 refugees in Mrkonjic Grad. Your Honours, I arrived three hours after
5 that strike, and there was blood that had been spilt on the road. There
6 were horses that had remained half alive there and they were suffering.
7 I had to leave that sight, that terrible sight rapidly. And then several
8 seconds after that, a few NATO planes with these -- they had these
9 distinctive wings so I could recognise them, these planes targeted a
10 relay station on Kula. When I arrived there and asked
11 General Milovanovic about what had happened, he said they had killed two
12 of our soldiers. General Tolimir said that the rapid intervention force
13 artillery had opened fire and the Croatian artillery had open fire. They
14 used heavy artillery, multiple rocket-launchers, and mortars.
15 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Could you please tell the Trial Chamber
16 whether during that period of time Tolimir exercised a command role?
17 Thank you.
18 A. No.
19 Q. Thank you. Could you tell us whether during that period of time
20 Tolimir stayed at the basic command post in Crna Rijeka or in the area of
21 responsibility of the Drina Corps? Thank you.
22 A. No. As I have said, General Tolimir, towards the end of July,
23 went to the western part of Republika Srpska, and he remained there until
24 the end of the war.
25 Q. Thank you. Since you have -- or, rather, could you tell the
1 Chamber where the forward command post of the Main Staff was located
2 during that period of time? Thank you.
3 A. Your Honour, I've already provided that information but I will
4 repeat it for the sake of the transcript with your leave. The forward
5 command post of the VRS Main Staff was located at a place called Kula,
6 above Mrkonjic Grad. And then for a short period of time it was located
7 in Baraci, which is in the direction of Glamoc, Livno. Afterwards, it
8 was transferred or it relocated to Banja Luka, and we remained there
9 until the end of the war.
10 All the places that I have mentioned are in the western part of
11 Bosnia and Herzegovina which was also called Krajina before the war. And
12 for those reasons, you can yourself draw the conclusion that that has
13 nothing to do with Crna Rijeka, which is in Romanija, in the eastern part
14 of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
15 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Judge Nyambe has a question.
16 JUDGE NYAMBE: Yes, my question is directed to General Tolimir.
17 Starting from page 44 in your questions you have been referring to "that
18 period of time" in line 3, and then you refer again in line 6, "during
19 that period of time," again in line 14, "during that period of time."
20 Could you be more specific about exactly what period of time you are
21 talking about, please?
22 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Judge. From the end of
23 July until the end of November 1995 is the period of time I have in mind.
24 I was asking the witness about that period of time. Thank you.
25 JUDGE NYAMBE: Thank you very much for your answer.
1 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Please continue, Mr. Tolimir.
2 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
3 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic, for having agreed to testify in these
4 proceedings instituted against me at this Tribunal. Thank you for
5 everything. I wish you a safe return home. May God bless you and may
6 you live a long life.
7 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I have put a series of
8 questions to this witness as part of my Defence, and the Defence -- my
9 Defence case has no need to put any further questions to this witness.
10 Thank you.
11 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much.
12 Mr. McCloskey, do you want to proceed with your
13 cross-examination? You have the floor.
14 MR. McCLOSKEY: Yes, Mr. President. I was told they would go the
15 full day, and I know that doesn't happen always, so I have a few
16 questions based on some of the things I just heard, but I do have a
17 binder of materials and other things. So if I can get through just the
18 few questions, if we could then take an early break and I will try to get
19 myself organised.
20 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes, please go ahead.
21 Cross-examination by Mr. McCloskey:
22 Q. General, good afternoon.
23 A. Good afternoon, Mr. McCloskey.
24 Q. I guess it's been since, I think, 2005, when we first met and I
25 interviewed you about this case. Do you recall that?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. And do you stand by your statements to me in that -- in that
4 A. Mr. McCloskey, I have only changed the date that related to
5 leaving for the VRS army. The 17th of December is the correct date, not
6 the 17th of November. That is the only thing that I changed, and I
7 informed the Chamber of the fact.
8 Q. Okay. And you've also told us that you testified for the
9 Prosecution in the Popovic case. And do you stand by your testimony in
10 that case?
11 A. Mr. McCloskey, I downloaded part of the transcript from those
12 proceedings from the internet. I had access to the Tribunal's web site
13 and that's what I did, but I am not sure I saw the entire transcript.
14 But there is nothing that I would amend in relation to that testimony,
16 Q. Okay. And you just spoke briefly of what was going on in Knin
17 and Glamoc and Grahovo, your hometown area, in the end of July and
18 August, and I think you know that many Serb civilians left their home
19 area at that time, and it's been the position of the Prosecution that
20 they were driven out and forcibly removed by the Croatian forces. Do you
21 agree with that, that these Serb civilians were forced to flee from their
23 A. Yes, Mr. McCloskey. I fully agree with what you have said. If
24 you like, I could describe the refugee column for you. There were
25 hundreds of thousands of people on the road from Bijeljina via Banja Luka
1 to Petrovac. That is a distance of 600 kilometres. The refugees first
2 started coming from Krajina and then from the western part of
3 Republika Srpska. I apologise for going into these details.
4 Q. Yes, and I don't want to go into the details either. I think
5 there is a good record in the Gotovina case. But you'll agree with me, I
6 think, how horrible this was for the civilians. You, yourself, lost your
7 home, people were killed, and these people really had no choice but to
8 flee from this policy that -- and this attack of the Croatians? The
9 Croatian government forces, not the Croatian people. So do you agree
10 with me about that?
11 A. Yes, yes. Yes, I fully agree with you.
12 Q. And when you said earlier that many times in war, populations are
13 the most aware of what's going on, many times -- and many times they just
14 have to flee armed conflict. And I think I would agree with that, as
15 would the UNHCR. But you've also now agreed with me that sometimes there
16 is a policy to drive civilians away, that is wrong, as in the case of
17 Croatian forces, correct?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. When all the generals that you've talked about were in the area
20 of the Krajina dealing with this massive threat and, as we now know, the
21 eventual loss of some territory, and there was a threat of air force --
22 or actual use of air force, was General Jovo Maric, the head of the
23 administration for the air force and air defence, with you guys?
24 A. Yes, but it was called the air force and aircraft defence. The
25 term "war" wasn't used or "military" wasn't used.
1 Q. Okay. We might have had a little translation issue, but
2 you've -- you've said that you and General Mladic, General Tolimir, that
3 you were all there from the end of July through November -- or I think
4 you said through the end of the war. Did that apply to General Maric as
5 well, was he there with you the entire time?
6 A. Mr. McCloskey, I am sure that Mr. -- or, rather,
7 General Jovo Maric left earlier than all of us. He was with
8 General Milovanovic a lot earlier, but I cannot remember when he left.
9 But it was earlier.
10 Q. Well, was he there in September 1995?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Yes. General Milovanovic has told this courtroom that Maric was
13 with him throughout September. Does that meet your recollection as well?
14 A. Mr. McCloskey, I am trying to give you a precise answer, so I
15 cannot claim that they were together. Sometimes I would see
16 General Maric in Drvar and he was on his own, without General
17 Milovanovic. But on the whole, they would be together. But I cannot
18 really claim that they were together all the time.
19 Q. All right. I didn't mean to try to -- your answer whether they
20 were actually together, but it was whether or not General Maric was with
21 you people. I know there wasn't a lot of space from the descriptions of
22 where you were billeted and the command -- forward command post there was
23 small, so that was my question: Was -- Maric was there in September as
24 far as you can recall?
25 A. My answer is yes.
1 Q. And you also just told us that you were at meetings of the
2 Main Staff where the Geneva Conventions and the treatment of prisoners
3 were mentioned, and that you and others, including General Tolimir,
4 supported those conventions. As far as you know, were over -- were many
5 thousands of Muslim able-bodied men summarily executed by Bosnian Serb
6 forces after the fall of Srebrenica?
7 A. Your Honours, there is so much information in the media about
8 this question. I can't say that I haven't heard over the media various
9 pieces of information. Some would increase the number, some would reduce
10 the number, but I heard about this event from the media. That is what I
11 can claim.
12 Q. Are you saying you've only heard of the murders from the media?
13 A. Yes.
14 MR. McCLOSKEY: Mr. President, it might be a good time. You see,
15 I've just gotten some binders delivered, and I think if I can study them,
16 I may be able to go through this a little bit more thoroughly or
18 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I personally have a small problem with that
19 because I was asked to have a meeting with a visitors group between 12.30
20 and 1.00. If you are able to at least go ahead for ten more minutes,
21 then we may have a break until 1.00.
22 MR. McCLOSKEY: I think I can do that. Yes, Mr. President. No
24 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much.
25 MR. McCLOSKEY: Let me just take a bit of a moment.
1 Q. General, you have just gone over with us very carefully these
2 periods of April, May -- March, April, May, from your notes, and you told
3 us you didn't go to the Krajina until the end of July. Where were you
4 working in July 1995? And I'll help you a little bit. You told us you
5 were there, I believe, July 11th, 12th, 13th, and then you went and saw
6 President Karadzic on the 14th. But aside from that period that you've
7 already talked about -- in fact, let's say from 14 July, what did you do?
8 Where were you?
9 A. From the 14th of July until the 27th of July, I was in
10 Han Pijesak at the rear command post. On the 27th of July, I went to
11 Belgrade to attend the promotion of a lieutenant-colonel or
12 lieutenant-colonels who had completed military academy in
13 Republika Srpska. Glamoc fell, that's what I heard. It was on the
14 28th of July. On the 29th of July, after this promotion of these
15 second-lieutenants --
16 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's correction.
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] -- I returned to Zvornik. I
18 apologise, am I giving you an answer that is too long?
19 MR. McCLOSKEY:
20 Q. I think you have got me through the end of July and that's really
21 my question. So is it fair to say that from -- from May, June, until the
22 end of July you were mostly at your desk in and around Han Pijesak doing
23 your duty as an assistant -- one of the six assistant commanders for
24 General Mladic?
25 A. Yes, on the whole that was the case, as you, yourself, have said.
1 Q. And we've heard about the morning meetings that were held each
2 day of the senior assistant commanders with -- with the commanders. Did
3 you go to those meetings?
4 A. General Djukic and myself did not attend those meetings held in
5 the morning.
6 Q. Never?
7 A. It's not possible to define "never." When we have a meeting of
8 the commanders and when we arrive in Crna Rijeka, well, on such occasions
9 we also attend the meetings. But it wasn't our regular duty to attend
10 regular meetings when these daily briefings would be given.
11 Q. But the afternoon meetings that we heard about from
12 General Milovanovic. He set out the daily routine for us and normally
13 the people that had to come. The same thing happens here. Every
14 morning, 9.00, senior trial attorneys have to get together with the
15 Prosecutor. Normal. You had to go to those meetings too, didn't you?
16 One of six assistant commanders for the whole army?
17 A. I made a distinction with regard to that information from
18 General Milovanovic. He knew what was happening. But I'll repeat what I
19 said: General Djukic and General Petar Skrbic did not attend the regular
20 morning briefings. We only attended briefings and meetings of commanders
21 when called by the commander of the VRS Main Staff, when asked by that
22 commander to do so.
23 Q. You did say you went to the going-away party for
24 General Zivanovic at the Jela restaurant which occurred on 20 July there,
25 not far from Han Pijesak. You also said there was never a mention of
1 Srebrenica at that -- at that occasion. Do you recall testifying about
3 A. Yes, Mr. McCloskey.
4 Q. Well, do you remember seeing that -- part of that celebration
5 being filmed by the VRS or a cameraman of some sort?
6 A. Yes, I remember.
7 Q. Have you had a chance to see that film of that party that you
8 were at?
9 A. I haven't had the opportunity of viewing that video recording.
10 Q. Well, would you be surprised if I told you that the Court has
11 that video recording, that General Mladic spoke about Srebrenica, and
12 that -- the great victory there and -- both for General Zivanovic and
13 General Krstic. We counted at least four times, and that was just in the
14 speeches, not to mention what the commanders and the officers --
15 MR. McCLOSKEY: That's P2231.
16 Q. -- would have said to themselves on such an auspicious day,
17 20 July. So having that in mind, knowing there is that video out there,
18 do you want to think about that question again? Do you recall Srebrenica
19 being spoken of by the officers and men at General Zivanovic's party?
20 A. Mr. McCloskey, on 12 May 2005, I told you that I did not remember
21 whether that was spoken about. If I could see the video recording, that
22 might jog my memory. But, Your Honours, am I really obliged to remember
23 everything after 20 years? That is why what I said, that I didn't
24 remember what is spoken about, is valid.
25 Q. Yeah, maybe we had a translation issue, because -- and I'll take
1 a look at the transcript, but I don't remember memory being a part of
2 your answer, but we'll take a look at that.
3 But now, as I've reminded you of this, going back in your mind
4 now, do you remember any discussions about Srebrenica, the events, the
5 attack, the fall, the prisoners, the successes, the failures, the dead?
6 A. As far as I remember, I do not remember that topic. Whether
7 there was propaganda talk or political talk, in inverted commas, I
8 wouldn't want to go into that. Sometimes commanders boast about things
9 they never did.
10 Q. When did you first hear about the attack by VRS forces on the
11 enclave of Srebrenica?
12 A. I don't recall.
13 Q. Do you remember what you said in the Popovic case?
14 A. No, I do not.
15 Q. I'll get the exact --
16 A. Can you remind me?
17 Q. Well, I'll get the exact wording, but my recollection is you said
18 you found out from the media after the war.
19 A. Yes, that is what I said.
20 Q. Okay. So when you said that at the Popovic trial under oath,
21 were you mistaken? People can make mistakes, even under oath.
22 A. Of course it's a mistake, Mr. McCloskey. The media as early as
23 25 July, or whichever date it was in July, reported about it. I don't
24 mean the media after the war, because the war ended with the
25 Dayton Accord. That's too along a period for me not to have heard
1 anything about it. That would have been very weird indeed. On RS TV,
2 but I suppose on Federation TV too, although I didn't watch that, there
3 was such information. I didn't have a TV set in my office, though. I
4 didn't need one. I went to the neighbouring office and that is probably
5 when I heard that information.
6 Q. So we are talking about the information about the attack on the
7 enclave. Are you saying you heard it from the neighbouring office on the
8 media or through a military colleague?
9 A. In the office next door, I heard it on television. I did not
10 hear it from a colleague.
11 Q. Okay. And so you first heard about the attack on Srebrenica from
12 the media. You -- never from any military colleague, report -- military
13 meeting or report; is that right?
14 A. Your Honours, I do not understand this question.
15 Q. It wasn't very well stated. Let me try again. I just want to
16 clarify: You first heard about the attack on Srebrenica through the
17 media sources?
18 A. Well, Mr. McCloskey, I heard about the possibility of an attack
19 on the enclaves because of the military actions launched from those
20 enclaves. And I've already mentioned that. General Mladic told the
21 Ukrainian representative Alexander Alexandrovich that we wouldn't be able
22 to take those provocations launched by the Muslims from the enclaves.
23 You shouldn't think that I'm obfuscating and pretending I don't
24 understand the question. There were provocations almost daily.
25 I apologise. General Mladic spoke to General Rose, too. He
1 said, "General, you were in nine countries waging war, but never in
2 Britain. I am waging war in my country. Please don't let the Muslims
3 from Gorazde shoot at us."
4 That is why this question is far too broad for me be able to
5 explain. Do not place me in such a position. Please be fair and
6 don't -- you -- don't attack my credibility. How could I say that I
7 haven't heard of the attacks from the enclaves and the response by the
8 VRS? That would really be too naive. But if the Prosecutor is trying to
9 make me remember details and the circumstances under which I heard them,
10 that is, the exact time and place, well, Your Honours, these are things I
11 really cannot remember.
12 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. McCloskey --
13 MR. McCLOSKEY: Could I have one clarifying question?
14 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes, please.
15 MR. McCLOSKEY:
16 Q. General, my question was not, "When did you hear about the
17 possibility of an attack on Srebrenica?" as you've stated. My question
18 was very clear. It was: Did you first hear about the attack on
19 Srebrenica from the media, which you told me in your interview and you
20 testified under oath. So it's a very simple question. And in fairness
21 to you, general, when I interviewed you, you first told me you first
22 heard about it in, I think, July 20th or 26th, so I was wondering why you
23 testified under oath that you heard it afterward. And now I'm trying to
24 clarify: The attack, July 6th, that's when it happened, did you first
25 hear about that attack from the media?
1 A. I do not remember. I don't think that the media reported about
2 it. At least to the extent I follow the media. And I didn't even know
3 that an attack had been launched on the 6th of July.
4 MR. McCLOSKEY: Thank you, Mr. President. I know you've got to
6 JUDGE FLUEGGE: We must have our second break now, and we will
7 resume at 1.00.
8 --- Recess taken at 12.30 p.m.
9 [The witness stands down]
10 [The witness takes the stand]
11 --- On resuming at 1.02 p.m.
12 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes, Mr. McCloskey. Please continue.
13 MR. McCLOSKEY:
14 Q. General, I want to go back to my questions about the Jela
15 restaurant and your testimony about that so you can actually see what you
17 MR. McCLOSKEY: And that was from the testimony from page 18624.
18 Q. And it's in the middle of the page. And General Tolimir asked
20 "Q. Thank you. Now, at the farewell reception for
21 General Zivanovic, was there any discussion, did anyone talk about the
22 events in Srebrenica?"
23 And your answer is:
24 "As far as I can recall, there was no mention of it."
25 Now that we have talked, is it fair to say that you do recall
1 Srebrenica being mentioned?
2 A. Mr. McCloskey, I said as far as I remember no, and I stand by
3 that statement.
4 Q. All right. Let's just go to the transcript of that just to --
5 MR. McCLOSKEY: It's P2231. In the English. And I --
6 Q. It starts off with General Zivanovic saying some things,
7 General Gvero, and then Mladic gets up and talks for a long time, as he
9 MR. McCLOSKEY: And I want to go to page 3 in the English and
10 page 3 in the B/C/S.
11 Q. And he says:
12 "Thank you, General, and thank all of your fellows for not
13 letting the Serbs disappear."
14 Let's hope that we'll find that. But before they do, can you
15 tell us what is this concept that he's referring to about Serbs
17 A. That's not a concept. It was an assessment that the Serbs could
18 re-experience the year 1941 and, as a consequence, disappear not only
19 from that area but beyond. In 1991 and -- or, actually, since 1991, many
20 Serbs have been killed, especially in the western part but also in the
21 east of Bosnia-Herzegovina. But I don't need to bother you with the
23 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. McCloskey, can you help us to find it in the
24 transcript. I see Ms. Stewart working hard on it.
25 MR. McCLOSKEY: Yeah, we'll just talk about this concept of
1 disappearing folks for a while, and hopefully we'll find it. Page 8 in
2 the English. Again, I don't seem to have at the e-court pages, and I'll
3 correct that tonight so I can get that done properly.
4 Okay. We can see it up at the top, where it's about five lines
5 down in the English on the right.
6 "Thank you, General. You and your --"
7 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Please move your microphone further to you, or
8 use the other one.
9 MR. McCLOSKEY: And it's at page 7 in the B/C/S, lower down.
10 Q. And it says:
11 "Thank you, General, you and your colleagues for not allowing our
12 people to disappear. It was just the other day, triumphantly and with
13 pride, as a commander, you handed over the duty to the commander of the
14 corps, General Krstic, who, together with you, gave the liberated
15 Srebrenica and Zepa to the Serbian people."
16 And then he goes on. That's one of a few references that is made
17 to Srebrenica right there in General Mladic's speech. But I -- I want to
18 go back and ask you about this disappearance. You mentioned 1941.
19 A. Yes, what is your question?
20 Q. And I think we'll agree, very briefly, that you're referring to
21 World War II and the large number of Serbs who were murdered by forces
22 acting with the Nazis or the Nazis themselves; is that right?
23 A. Yes, they were killed in the Second World War in 1941. That is
24 correct. Many of them were killed by Ustashas.
25 Q. And you're meaning by that Croatian forces of some sort? I don't
1 want to get into the details of 1941.
2 A. Yes, I meant that type of armed forces that belonged to the
3 independent state of Croatia which was a fascist entity in the Balkans.
4 Those units, the Ustashas, also comprised Muslims. They were also called
6 Q. And when Mladic says this to his assembled corps commanders and
7 others, did you truly believe that the Muslim forces were coming to
8 commit genocide on Serbs?
9 A. Not only the Muslim forces but the Croatian forces, too.
10 Q. And this was a common theme, that they are coming to kill us
11 all - the Muslims and the Croats - that was passed not just among the
12 generals but it was passed down to the soldier on the ground, by the
13 morale officers and the commanders, wasn't it?
14 A. I am not sure that they spoke about that all the time, but it is
15 true that they were indicating a potential danger, especially with regard
16 to the fact that we came to harm several times. During the
17 First World War, almost the entire Serbian people moved across the
18 mountains, through Albania, and went to Corfu. And then came the
19 Second World War, so that these are essential, historical elements
20 indicating the existence of a real threat.
21 You don't need to go into moralising our deep historical
22 research. You only need to be reminded of Bosanska Dubica where
23 thousands of people were killed. And then there was the camp of
24 Jasenovac where seven hundred thousands Serbs were killed, although that
25 figure has been disputed, but no estimate goes below 500.000. So there
1 was a real threat that the Serbian people might disappear.
2 The Serbian people disappeared from Croatia in 1995. They
3 disappeared totally. They either fled, became refugees, or were killed.
4 You heard the information that in Western Slavonia about 2.000 people
5 were killed. I was not sure that was accurate, so that's why I expressed
6 my reservations. But one hundred per cent of the population - and I mean
7 the Serbian population - were driven out of Croatia. And that's an event
8 that corroborates that the possibility of the disappearance of the Serbs
9 from these areas, including the Republika Srpska, was realistic.
10 Your Honours, I must tell you that even now there is strong
11 pressure to abolish the Republika Srpska.
12 Q. Do you find a difference between a commander telling his troops,
13 "The enemy is a threat and they are coming to kill you," and the
14 commander telling his troops and his officers, "The enemy is coming to
15 kill you all and coming to commit genocide on you"?
16 A. Yes, there is a difference.
17 Q. And it's the position of the Prosecution, general, that that
18 second position, when General Mladic and General Krstic and the other
19 commanders say to their troops and say to their people that "the Croats
20 and the Muslims are coming to commit genocide on you," that that was done
21 for the purpose of to vilify the Muslim people and engender hatred
22 against them. And that it's this kind of propaganda and politicising war
23 that can lead and does lead and did lead to mass execution. Do you
25 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. McCloskey, what is your question?
1 MR. McCLOSKEY: I asked him if he agreed with the position of the
2 Prosecution. I don't mean just to be philosophising.
3 JUDGE FLUEGGE: No, I didn't hear the question, "Do you agree?"
4 Thank you.
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, words have a very
6 precise meaning to me, and if they don't, I cannot interpret them. It
7 was interpreted to me that Mr. McCloskey said that the Muslims were
8 coming. That is a -- that is an action which takes place at a moment in
9 time. The moment -- but that wasn't so. The Muslims were coming to
10 uproot the Serbs. However, it never happened that we were told, "The
11 Muslims are coming to kill you." This instantaneous action, here they
12 are. No, that never happened. Apart from that, the analysis of combat
13 readiness from 1992 is a document at the disposal of this Tribunal, too.
14 And it says in that document that genocide against the Serbian people is
15 a possibility.
16 MR. McCLOSKEY:
17 Q. Yes, and I won't spend too long with this. General Mladic in
18 that 1992 analysis says several times, as I think others do, that the
19 Serbs are threatened with genocide which is more than uprooting, of
20 course. It can include uprooting but implies murder. And so my point
21 is: Do you agree with me that that is a propaganda statement to rally
22 the troops to hatred, to kill the enemy, and that can lead to mass
23 executions and war crimes?
24 A. From the point of view of science, propaganda could not be
25 successful if it were not founded at least partly on truth, and probably
1 an element is also motivating people to fight. In the Serbian language,
2 however, there is a difference between uprooting and genocide. Genocide
3 is the total destruction of a nation, whereas uprooting is driving them
4 out of their native area. In other words, that the people can no longer
5 be found where they were born, where their home was.
6 Q. Thank you. We'll go to something a little more specific now. Do
7 you recall in your interview with me on the 12th of July in 2005 my
8 question where I ask you: "Who were Mladic's closest generals? Who was
9 he closest to?" Do you remember your response?
10 A. Yes, I do, Mr. McCloskey.
11 Q. And if I asked you that question again, what would your answer
13 A. I think -- or, rather, I don't think but let me put it this way:
14 He most often spoke with General Tolimir. Then you asked me a follow-up
15 question and I said that he most trusted General Tolimir and that he
16 spent most of the time in private conversations with General Tolimir.
17 Now, if you would be kind enough to confirm whether I am right in what I
19 Q. You are. That's pretty much as I see it, and so that ... now
20 were you -- do you recall - and I know this is going back - there was a
21 New Year's Eve celebration in 1996 that a lot of the senior officers got
22 together with -- and their wives and their friends and family and there
23 were speeches given. Do you remember being present at that event?
24 A. Yes, I do. Your Honours, let me explain. I was asked whether I
25 remember being at this celebration. The question was not whether I was
1 there. I just said that I remember. But what do I remember?
2 I'm sorry, Mr. McCloskey. Maybe the translation is not correct.
3 And I highly appreciate the interpreters, but I would really like to have
4 all the words clear, that based on them I can draw proper conclusions on
5 the basis of which I can give you a proper answer.
6 Q. Were you at the 1996 celebration with the other senior generals?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. All right. I am going to play a -- I hope I am going to play, I
9 am going to try to play a bit of the video.
10 MR. McCLOSKEY: We're -- sorry, we're not going to be able to do
11 that now. We are not set up for that and that's my fault. And I know
12 the Defence has this video. They have a transcript. So I just want to
13 read one little section from that, and I'll go slowly.
14 Q. And just ask you --
15 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Can you give us the exhibit number of the
17 MR. McCLOSKEY: It should be P01029.
18 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you.
19 MR. McCLOSKEY: And I have noted that I am going to page 5 in the
20 B/C/S and looks like page 6 on my copy. Though I can't guarantee that's
21 the same e-court at this point. It actually is. So --
22 Q. General Mladic says --
23 MR. McCLOSKEY: We'll give it a try on the video. I think it
24 would be better, especially for the witness.
25 Yes, we can start that first paragraph -- or the middle paragraph
1 at page 6 at 1.19.12 to 1.22.16. It in the -- it's in the middle of one
2 of General Mladic's speeches at the -- at this function.
3 [Video-clip played]
4 MR. McCLOSKEY: We must have two different timings. So I'll go
5 ahead and just read this.
6 Q. We'll, if we need to -- general, I apologise for the miscue. If
7 you need to see this, we'll have that ready for you tomorrow and get it.
8 But this is not a very controversial item. I just want to ask you if you
9 agree with what General Mladic is saying. And in the English in the
10 middle of that paragraph he says:
11 "I was able to do so only thanks to all of you, irrespective of
12 when each of you joined the Main Staff, and thanks to the exceptional
13 fighting spirit of our people and our army, those who helped me, most
14 definitely my closest associates. And now I can tell you only part of
15 it, as a part of it, it can't be told yet. The most important decisions
16 were taken by a group of five people. This was the inner core of the
17 Main Staff which, in addition to myself, included General Milovanovic, my
18 deputy and the Chief of Staff, and Generals Djukic, Gvero, and Tolimir.
19 This was the inner core. The other generals also participated in very
20 difficult and very often in all decision-making, General Jovo Maric,
21 General Tomic, General Grubor at that time, and General Skrbic."
22 What I wanted to ask you about is, as Mladic says "inner core,"
23 to your understanding was there an inner core of the Main Staff?
24 A. That's what we used the call the inner circle of the collegium of
25 the Main Staff. There was no formal and official term "inner core." It
1 is just a metaphor, and this is what I said, Your Honours, and I also
2 showed that to you in a chart presented to all of you by the Defence
4 Q. So do you agree with Mladic here when he says that the most
5 important decisions were taken by a group of five people, and then he
6 lists the five people I mentioned?
7 A. Yes, I do.
8 Q. All right.
9 MR. McCLOSKEY: Can we go to the first page of the -- of this.
10 And in both languages -- I'm sorry.
11 Q. And in both languages, we see Mladic saying:
12 "Ladies, dear guests, colleagues, officers, and generals,
13 General Gvero has encouraged me to say a few things. It was long ago in
14 1992, a difficult year, when it was even difficult to look at this area
15 on a map. Fortunately, there are witnesses. One of them is my wife and
16 several associates and comrades-in-arms from the Knin Corps. But I am
17 saddened that the most important among them, General Tolimir, and his
18 wife are not with us tonight. As you know, he is on assignment, battling
19 the dragons of the world in Vienna on behalf of the Serbian nation."
20 So from what you could see in your experience working as an
21 assistant commander during the war and especially in 1995, in the summer
22 of 1995, could you agree with General Mladic that General Tolimir was so
23 important to him?
24 A. Your Honours, I cannot tell you what Tolimir meant to
25 General Mladic. All I can do is to confirm that this is what
1 General Mladic stated.
2 Q. But you did answer me in the interview, and you said what you
3 said about General Tolimir and General Mladic, and you stand by that.
4 A. Yes, Mr. McCloskey. But there is a distinction there as well,
5 but I am not willing to try and elaborate on that now.
6 Q. Okay, well, we have got to go question by question as you know,
7 but if you need to explain an answer, you are always free to do so, and
8 as you know General Tolimir can always ask -- will have chance, if he'd
9 like to, to ask you questions.
10 MR. McCLOSKEY: All right. Let's go to P2520. And that should
11 be the document from 12 July that you spoke about with General Tolimir.
12 Q. And we see that, as you've stated, it's from your sector, in your
13 name. The chart that we had on the screen the other day, there is a
14 transportation unit in the Main Staff, isn't there?
15 THE INTERPRETER: Could the witness kindly lower the sound in his
16 headphones because the French booth hears the B/C/S from the witness's
17 headphones very loudly. Thank you.
18 JUDGE FLUEGGE: With the assistance of the Court Usher, please.
19 Mr. McCloskey.
20 MR. McCLOSKEY: All right.
21 Q. Was there a transportation unit administration? I'm sorry, I
22 have forgotten the formal name of it.
23 A. A transportation unit did not exist as an independent one in the
24 Main Staff.
25 Q. Was there a transportation unit in the Main Staff?
1 A. I answered that question, Your Honours.
2 Q. You said something about --
3 JUDGE FLUEGGE: No. No, you didn't answer it. It was the
4 question about if there was a transportation unit. The question was not
5 if there was an independent transportation unit. Was there any
6 transportation unit, was the question. Please answer it.
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, there was a
8 transportation service within the logistics sector of the Main Staff of
9 the VRS. It was in charge of transportation, but there was no single
10 unit dealing with that, either as a staff unit or as a -- an integral
11 part of the Main Staff.
12 MR. McCLOSKEY:
13 Q. And, general, that's all I was asking, and thank you for telling
14 us it was within the logistics branch. And did you know an officer named
16 A. Yes, Mr. McCloskey.
17 Q. And who was he and what was his position?
18 A. He was at the head of the transportation service within the
19 logistics of the VRS Main Staff, and he had the rank of colonel.
20 Q. And in July 1995, can you remind me what your rank was?
21 A. Mr. McCloskey, in July 1995 I had the rank of a major-general.
22 Q. And can you explain to me what -- why are you involved in this
23 request to the Ministry of Defence for vehicles and not the logistics
24 people? Or are they?
25 A. Mr. McCloskey, they - and when I say "they," I mean the
1 logistics - can make use only of the means that the army doesn't have at
2 its disposal. Everything else that is beyond the army was within the
3 charge and the responsibilities of my sector. Therefore, they were not
4 entitled to request mobilisation. It was my sector who had to do it.
5 Q. Okay. So the kind of mobilisation of actual vehicles that you
6 are requesting here is the kind of mobilisation -- one kind of
7 mobilisation that is part of your job definition?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. And what I'm getting to is that I know at many times we think of
10 mobilising men for troops, but it obviously includes materiel as well; is
11 that right?
12 A. That's right.
13 Q. And I won't go over all of them, but we saw that your request to
14 the ministry was taken rather seriously, was turned into an order by the
15 ministry to their own people, and it was giving very strict follow-up
16 orders on reporting. And actually one of the documents said that this
17 was really hurting public transport or something to that effect.
18 So my question is: Your request, was that normal for a request
19 like this to be taken so seriously and acted upon so strictly in
20 conformance with your request?
21 A. Completely normal.
22 Q. And did the ministry understand that this wasn't just coming from
23 General Skrbic but that General Skrbic couldn't act like this without the
24 authority of General Mladic?
25 A. Of course, Mr. McCloskey.
1 Q. All right.
2 MR. McCLOSKEY: I see that it's a good time to break, and thank
3 you, everyone. I will do my best to try to finish tomorrow, and if --
4 hopefully give the general some -- the last time in the day for a
5 possible redirect. I will reorganise and endeavour to do that, and I'll
6 have a better estimate in the morning.
7 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much for that. We have to adjourn
8 for the day. We will resume tomorrow morning at 9.00 in this courtroom,
10 And please be reminded, again, that you shouldn't have any
11 contact with the parties during this break.
12 We adjourn.
13 [The witness stands down]
14 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at
15 1.45 p.m., to be reconvened on Thursday, the
16 2nd day of February, 2012, at 9.00 a.m.