1 Tuesday, 7 February 2012
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 9.04 a.m.
5 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Good morning to everybody in and around the
7 I am sure that we will find a solution about the question we have
8 discussed yesterday, but we should discuss that in the presence of the
9 witness in private session. And, therefore, the witness should be
10 brought in, please.
11 Mr. Tolimir.
12 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Lord's peace upon this house, and
13 let the outcome be determined by the providence.
14 My proposal is that the next session we begin with the video
15 footage about the events that the witness described, and then I will
16 proceed with my questions without mentioning any names. Thank you.
17 [The witness takes the stand]
18 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much for that.
19 Good morning, sir. Welcome back to the courtroom. I have to
20 remind you that the affirmation to tell the truth you made at the
21 beginning of your testimony yesterday still applies.
22 WITNESS: RATKO SKRBIC [Resumed]
23 [Witness answered through interpreter]
24 JUDGE FLUEGGE: We have to discuss a procedural matter and we
25 turn into private session.
1 [Private session]
23 [Open session]
24 THE REGISTRAR: We are back in open session, Your Honours. Thank
1 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you.
2 Mr. Tolimir, please go ahead.
3 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. Once
4 again, Lord's peace on this house. And let the outcome of this trial be
5 decided by providence, not by my wishes.
6 Examination by Mr. Tolimir: [Continued]
7 Q. [Interpretation] My greetings to Mr. Skrbic. And I wish him a
8 pleasant stay amongst us.
9 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Can we please now have in e-court
10 1D1063. I'm -- apology. 1D1115. It's an expert report. Thank you.
11 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
12 Q. You see here: "Ratko Skrbic's Expert Report on Srebrenica and
13 Zepa." That's the title of the report.
14 My question is: Are you the author of this report? Thank you.
15 A. Yes, I am.
16 Q. Thank you. My next question is: Have you compiled this report
17 on your own? Thank you.
18 A. Yes, completely on my own.
19 Q. Thank you. My third question is: Has anyone suggested to you to
20 include any conclusions that are contained in the report as it is?
21 A. No.
22 Q. Please, Mr. Skrbic, can you tell the Chamber which specific
23 sources you used when compiling this report. Thank you.
24 A. While drafting this report, I used combat documents of the
25 28th Division, of the 285th Brigade, the 2nd Corps of the ABH, and the
1 General Staff of the ABH. In addition to that, I relied on witness
2 statements regardless of whether they were from amongst the Muslim ranks
3 or from international forces that were deployed in Srebrenica at the
5 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. We don't need to go through the entire
6 report, because that would be a time-consuming exercise. I am going only
7 to deal with specific issues, and therefore can you please tell us how
8 you understood the situation to be that preceded the attacks -- or,
9 rather, the attack on the Srebrenica enclave?
10 A. My understanding of the situation is contained in the fact that
11 in the Zepa and Srebrenica enclaves, throughout the whole conflict in
12 Bosnia-Herzegovina, there was conflict ongoing all the time between the
13 28th Division of the ABH and the Drina Corps of the VRS. Based on such
14 an understanding of the situation, I drafted my report in such a manner
15 that would allow one to have an insight of the conflict between the two
17 Q. Please, during that period, i.e., in 1995, do you know what was
18 the situation between the conflicting parties, and did those activities
19 have any impact on the events that took place? Did you incorporate that
20 into your report?
21 A. Yes. I stated in my report the fact that that was a mutual
22 conflict, which by nature it is, and that the units of the 28th Division
23 were permanently involved in combat operations launched from within the
24 enclave against the Drina Corps units on the edges of the enclave and
25 sometimes targeting Serbian villages on the edges of the enclave where
1 there were no VRS troops. Therefore, I understood it to be that the VRS
2 was no longer in a position to tolerate such attacks and such operations,
3 and it was bound for the purpose of protecting both their men and the
4 population to react. It was its principal role.
5 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Can you please tell the Chamber how many
6 enclaves existed in the territory of Republika Srpska according to what
7 you know.
8 A. According to what I know, there were the following enclaves:
9 Srebrenica, Zepa, Gorazde, Bihac, and Tuzla.
10 Q. Thank you. Can you identify some problems that were kind of
11 common denominator for all the enclaves that you mentioned? Thank you.
12 A. The fact that the term "demilitarised zone" is being constantly
13 used, there is an understanding that this term did not reflect the actual
14 situation at the time. It is not possible to send combat documents and
15 carry out combat operations from a demilitarised zone. It is also
16 impossible to have units such as divisions, brigade, or even corps
17 deployed in demilitarised zone. If there were such units involved in
18 combat operations, then one cannot qualify them as demilitarised zones.
19 Q. Thank you. Was your unit targeted by attacks from demilitarised
20 zone, and what can you tell us about it?
21 A. Yes. Only I have to add that that was on a smaller scale than in
22 other demilitarised zones, because my brigade was made up of the people
23 who had been expelled from Bihac and its surrounding, they had many
24 relatives who remained behind in Bihac and probably that was the reason
25 that they were unwilling to become involved in fierce fighting. That was
1 a specific feature of my unit, but we indeed were attacked several times
2 from the demilitarised zone. For example, in October 1994 they carried
3 out a large-scale attack and they managed to push us back to a number of
4 kilometres from Petrovac.
5 Q. Were there any such attacks launched from a Bihac demilitarised
6 zone in 1995, where you were deployed as a defence force? Thank you.
7 A. These operations were stepped-up in 1995, not only in time but
8 also in strength, and they were consistent with an all-out operation
9 carried out by the Croatian army who, at the time, was involved in
10 preparing significant plans that would solve the question of the
11 Serbian Krajina.
12 Q. Could you tell us whether from that demilitarised zone your
13 territory that you defended was attacked, and to what extent were there
14 attacks launched from that demilitarised zone on areas in
15 Republika Srpska, and what was the distance between the demilitarised
16 zone and the places on which attacks were launched?
17 A. I have to say, again, that as a professional soldier I have
18 problems with the term "demilitarised zone," given that such zones
19 contained corps, for example, which launched fierce attacks on the VRS in
20 the area, so I would be grateful if I didn't have to use the term
21 "demilitarised zone" in order to refer to areas where units were present.
22 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. I am asking about this so that we can see
23 what sort of areas received the status of a demilitarised zone. So I'm
24 asking you to tell us the following: Bihac had the status it had; were
25 any attacks launched from Bihac against your brigade, and how long did
1 the breakthrough last, the breakthrough of forces from Bihac to the
2 territory of Republika Srpska in 1995? And what distance are we talking
4 A. Yes, units of the ABiH 5th Corps did launch an attack on my unit,
5 amongst others. It was between the 13th and 14th of January, 1995, that
6 my unit was attacked, and that was the beginning of a large-scale
7 offensive launched by the Muslim armed forces in the territory of
8 Republika Srpska together with HVO units and Croatian army units. In
9 1995, this attack lasted until Sanski Most was taken, and that location
10 is about 80 kilometres away from Bihac.
11 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Yesterday you told us what the distance
12 was between Srebrenica and Nezuk. Can you repeat that distance, please?
13 Thank you.
14 A. The distance is about 60 kilometres.
15 Q. Thank you. If forces from Bihac were armed and could reach
16 Sanski Most, which is 80 kilometres into the territory of
17 Republika Srpska, then could forces from Srebrenica cover a distance of
18 60 kilometres by breaking through under arms? Was this possible for
19 them? Thank you.
20 A. The forces of the 28th Division, when they decided to break
21 through in the direction of Tuzla, could in fact do so. As far as I can
22 remember, I explained this yesterday, but I'll repeat what I said: They
23 could do this because on the axis of the breakthrough the VRS didn't have
24 sufficient units to prevent that breakthrough and to neutralise the
25 28th Division, so the 28th Division was able to break through and did so.
1 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Have you found in international law that
2 a demilitarised zone managed to carry out such a breakthrough into a
3 territory from which it obtained the status of a demilitarised zone?
4 Have you ever come across such a thing in international law? Thank you.
5 A. No, I never came across any such thing. But I know that no units
6 should really take action from demilitarised zones. If a zone is
7 demilitarised, then it's demilitarised. That means that it doesn't have
8 any military or paramilitary units on its territory, and there is no
9 combat in such zones or there shouldn't be any such combat.
10 Q. Was there a demilitarised zone in Bosnia in accordance with the
11 standards and regulations of International War Law? Thank you.
12 A. No, there wasn't a single demilitarised zone.
13 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic.
14 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Could we see 1D1070, please. Thank
16 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
17 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. In front of us we have a document from
18 the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It's from the staff of the
19 Supreme Command of the OS of the Republic of BH, the date of the
20 15th of November, 1994. The name of the document is "Regrouping and
21 Resubordination." It's addressed to the 2nd Corps, the OG-8 Srebrenica,
22 the 1st Zepa Brigade, and the Eastern Bosnia Operations Group Gorazde.
23 Please, this document or order, does it refer to something that a
24 military expert would be interested in, would it draw your attention to
25 it? What sort of a document is this, in other words?
1 A. This is an order in which the ABiH is, in fact, being organised
2 in demilitarised or protected zones, the zones of Gorazde, Srebrenica,
3 and Zepa. It is important from the point of view of the fact that the
4 army is being reorganised with the objective of strengthening the
5 28th Division, first of all; secondly, to subordinate the 285th Brigade
6 in Zepa to the division, because up until that point in time it was
7 either part of the Gorazde's operation group, but it was also independent
8 or received orders as an independent unit quite frequently; and finally,
9 the final objective of the reorganising the army is to increase its
10 efficiency and to increase the efficiency of command and control.
11 Q. Thank you. Could you tell us why the subordination of the
12 Zepa Brigade was, in fact, defined in this manner?
13 A. According to my understanding of the situation, this was done
14 because they wanted to establish links between the Zepa and Srebrenica
15 enclaves. These two enclaves were to form a single enclave.
16 Q. Thank you. Mr. Skrbic, could you please tell us whether on the
17 basis of this document a system of command and control was established
18 from Srebrenica and Zepa, and in both zones, was this done by the
19 Main Staff of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina?
20 A. If the Supreme Command Staff ordered the subordination of the
21 285th Brigade to the 28th Division, it means that as of that date, the
22 date on which this order on the subordination was -- resubordination was
23 issued, that unit became part of the 28th Division and received tasks and
24 orders from the command of the 28th Division. In addition, the command
25 of the 28th Division would synchronise and co-ordinate actions together
1 with that brigade and it would assign tasks to that brigade to that
3 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Please, you can see that the document's
4 date is the 15th of November, 1994. So could you please tell us whether
5 this is a document that proves that the Zepa, Gorazde, and Srebrenica
6 demilitarised zones were always armed and that the command of the
7 Supreme Command Staff was involved in the reorganisation of the army and
8 was involved in organising the army for attacks that were to be launched
9 from those demilitarised zones? Thank you.
10 A. Yes, of course. That's what it means, because those
11 demilitarised zones were never demilitarised. The 28th Division was
12 never dismantled, the 28-- the 285th Brigade was never dismantled, the
13 operative group in Gorazde was never dismantled either, and so on and so
14 forth. So they continued to be armed and they had their military units.
15 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I have to remind both speakers to slow down. It
16 was very fast again, and the interpreters and the court reporter have
17 some problems. And please don't overlap. And wait for the end of the
19 Please carry on, Mr. Tolimir.
20 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
21 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
22 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Mr. Skrbic, have you come across
23 documents that show that international forces deployed in the protected
24 zones had information according to which these demilitarised zones were
25 armed? Thank you.
1 A. Yes, I had a number of such documents. And I can now mention
2 just one of the documents from General Ridderstad [phoen], from the
3 UNPROFOR command for north-east in Tuzla. He addressed the command of
4 the 28th Division or perhaps the command of the 2nd Corps. I think it
5 was the command of the 2nd Corps. And he said that he knew - that's what
6 it says in the document - he knew that demilitarisation was never in fact
7 carried out.
8 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Since you were in the Bihac demilitarised
9 zone or linked to that zone, could you provide us with any information
10 that shows that UN forces had knowledge about the combat units in the
11 military zone -- or in the demilitarise zone, Bihac, and had information
12 on their activities, the action taken against the territory in the
13 Republika Srpska as well as actions taken against your brigade and your
15 A. Naturally I had such information. I also had my own personal
16 experience. In the 2nd Krajina Corps I had a so called hot-line with the
17 commander of the French Battalion in Bihac. Whenever there was an attack
18 launched from the Bihac protected zone, an attack against our units, and
19 on my unit, I would always speak to the commander of the
20 French Battalion. We would meet. We in fact met on a number of
21 occasions, and I would ask him to prevent that if at all possible.
22 UNPROFOR knew that the ABiH was taking action from demilitarised zones
23 and was then returning to those zones that were under UNPROFOR protection
24 or the protection of the UN forces.
25 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Could we please see 1D-- or could
1 1D1070 please be admitted into evidence. Thank you.
2 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes, it will be received.
3 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, this document shall be assigned
4 Exhibit D352. Thank you.
5 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you. Could we now please
6 show the witness the following document, 1D1073. Thank you. Thank you.
7 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
8 Q. We can now see the document in front of us. From the Republic of
9 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Srebrenica municipality, municipal defence
10 secretariat, dated the 9th of March, 1994. It's a report on recruitment
11 and replenishment of materiel supplies for the armed forces and other
12 recruitment beneficiaries. It was addressed to the district defence
13 secretariat, Tuzla, and it was signed by the secretary, National Defence
14 Secretariat Professor Suljo Hasanovic. Could you please tell us why this
15 document is important for the Defence? Why did you examine it, and in
16 what manner did you in fact examine in it your expert report? Thank you.
17 A. This document is important, above all, because the date is after
18 the signing of the agreement on demilitarisation, and then in the
19 document itself we can see that units are still being brought up to
20 strength. Bringing units up to strength is the responsibility of the
21 Ministry of Defence. These are defence secretariats in Tuzla, in
22 Srebrenica municipality, and this report is being sent on bringing units
23 up to strength so that units of the 28th Division could be brought up to
24 strength as planned in subsequent events. The secretariat in Tuzla also
25 had to take into account the need for bringing up to strength other
1 bodies within the system of defence and replenishing supplies as well.
2 Bringing units up to strength is done only when you are planning to use
3 units, because otherwise there would be no sense in bringing units up to
4 strength and in replenishing units with equipment. There would be no
5 objective if these units were not to carry out combat activities.
6 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Please, if we look at the bullet points,
7 we will see that under 1 it says that:
8 "A total of 5.254 conscripts are deployed in the armed forces..."
9 My question is this: Are these the armed forces of Bosnia and
10 Herzegovina or perhaps of a region or perhaps of a unit? Thank you.
11 A. This document refers to the 28th Division and recruiting fighters
12 for the 28th Division in Srebrenica.
13 Q. Thank you. Under the other bullet points, the term "conscript"
14 is abbreviated to "V/O." Can you please explain for the benefit of the
15 Trial Chamber the meaning of the abbreviation "V/O"? because we don't
16 have the adequate translation in the English language. Thank you.
17 JUDGE FLUEGGE: We have an English translation in front of us on
18 the screen.
19 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you.
20 In every bullet point except the first one it says "V/O"; only in
21 the first bullet point it says "conscript." Since from then on the
22 word -- the term "conscript" is abbreviated into "V/O," I wanted the
23 witness to explain the abbreviation "V/O" and tell us what that means.
24 Thank you.
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This is an abbreviation that was
1 inherited from the JNA. It means conscript.
2 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
3 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Can you explain to the Trial Chamber what
4 does it mean to be a military conscript? Thank you.
5 A. That means that all able-bodied males are registered with the
6 secretariat for defence. They are subject to the obligation of being
7 sent to the units when the units need to be brought up to strength. They
8 are also subject to the obligation to be sent to units of work
9 obligation, units of civilian protection, and other units, not only of
10 army units. A military conscript is any male of age up to the age of 64.
11 The secretariat makes sure that the fittest males are sent to army units
12 and the others are sent to the units of work obligation and civilian
14 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic.
15 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I would like to
16 tender 1D1073 into evidence. Thank you.
17 JUDGE FLUEGGE: It will be received.
18 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, this document shall be assigned
19 Exhibit D353. Thank you.
20 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
21 And now I would like to call up 1D1097. Thank you.
22 I would like to thank the e-court.
23 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
24 Q. And now, Mr. Skrbic, this is a document issued by the Republic of
25 Bosnia and Herzegovina of the 2nd Corps command. It was drafted in Tuzla
1 on the 18th of January, 1995, and it was sent to Operations Group 1, 2,
2 4, 5, 6, and 8. Can you please tell us whether you saw this document
3 before; and if you did, what kind of a document is it? What is it about?
4 Thank you.
5 A. This document is another proof that the 2nd Corps of the
6 BiH army, pursuant to an order of the staff of the Supreme Command, was
7 engaged in the reorganisation of the military. The reorganisation of the
8 units of the 2nd Corps meant only one thing, and that was an attempt to
9 increase the efficiency of those units and the system of command and
10 control in those units. We can see that the exercise to reorganise the
11 army was carried out after the agreement on demilitarisation was signed,
12 which is yet another proof that demilitarisation was never carried out
13 and that the agreement on demilitarisation was never complied with.
14 I apologise, may I be allowed to say something else?
15 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, it is in your hands.
16 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
17 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic.
18 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
19 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
20 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. I interrupted you. If you wish to do so,
21 you may continue and complete your answer. Thank you.
22 A. I just wanted to add that in this order we can see that this is
23 not only about reorganising the existing units but also about
24 establishing new ones. As you can see under bullet point 1, several new
25 units were to be established according to a plan in an organised manner
1 and with a purpose.
2 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Can you please tell us: When this
3 document was drafted, did the warring parties have any obligation towards
4 each other?
5 A. This is the time when there should have been a complete
6 cease-fire pursuant to an agreement signed on the 31st December, 1994.
7 This, in other words, means that this agreement on truce or cease-fire
8 was not complied with fully. Instead, it -- an opportunity was taken to
9 improve the efficiency of the army and to reorganise it.
10 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. To cut a long story short, let me ask you
11 whether you included this document into your expert report on pages 19
12 and 17 and 18 in Serbian and English respectively?
13 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I would kindly ask the e-court to
14 display the pages that I have just referred to.
15 JUDGE FLUEGGE: We need the document number.
16 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] 1D115. Thank you. Actually, there
17 should be three numbers 1 and then 5, and all that following 1D; in other
18 words, 1D1115. Thank you.
19 I would like to thank the e-court.
20 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
21 Q. Mr. Skrbic, I apologise for not having displayed your expert
22 report prior to asking you about it.
23 I have another question: Can you please explain the purpose of
24 the organisational changes that took place in so many units in so many
25 operative groups?
1 A. There were several reasons to do that: The first one was
2 mainstreaming; the second one was improving efficiency of the 2nd Corps,
3 including the newly established 28th Division.
4 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic.
5 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I would like to call up page 2, and
6 the document number is 1D1097. Thank you. I would also like to call up
7 page 3 in the English version of the same document.
8 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
9 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Again, there are some abbreviations,
10 standing up for operative groups, and then we have numbers 1, 2, 4, 6, 7.
11 Can you please tell us which of the units made up the 2nd Corps which
12 reorganised its OGs, and what units were on the strength of the
13 28th Division? Thank you.
14 A. The units of the 2nd Corps, after the reorganisation, are listed
15 in the document. I don't want to waste any time on them. And the units
16 of the 28th Division were actually brigades that pre-existed the
17 reorganisation, and the only addition was the 285th Brigade from Zepa; in
18 other words, OGs were re-established into divisions. They were
19 reorganised to become divisions to facilitate command, control, and
20 management of the units during combat.
21 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Does that mean that those divisions were
22 to be directly subordinated to the corps command from then onwards?
23 Thank you.
24 A. Yes, yes.
25 Q. Thank you. Mr. Skrbic, can you please tell us something about
1 the newly established war unit, the 28th Division, because you say the
2 duration of mobilisation 12 hours, the -- in charge of the plan of
3 mobilisation, the 28th Division. What does that mean? That's on the
4 following page of the text in Serbian, paragraph 2. Thank you.
5 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Can the e-court please display that
6 paragraph after I have put my question to the witness.
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It is customary in a military that
8 when a superior command establishes a new unit it determines and defines
9 its location, the duration of mobilisation. And the duration of
10 mobilisation can be anything from several hours to 24 or even 48 hours,
11 and that usually depends on the role and the significance of that
12 particular unit on the strength of the higher ranking formation. Here we
13 can see that in the 28th Division the duration of the mobilisation was to
14 be 20 hours. That means that from the moment when an order was issued to
15 mobilise troops and to bring the unit up to strength, within 20 hours the
16 unit has to be complete and ready to be deployed in combat. It is also
17 customary for the commander of the unit to be in charge of the
18 mobilisation plan, and that's how the order was drafted.
19 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Above the text that we have just read and
20 that you commented upon, there are the numbers of the brigades. What
21 brigades are those, and does it mean that the 28th Division will be in
22 charge of their mobilisation plans? Does this mean that these brigades
23 are the units of the 28th Division? Is that confirmed by the document?
24 A. Yes, these brigades are the units of the 28th Division, and the
25 same procedure is followed with regard to mobilisation. So whatever the
1 28th Division received from the 2nd Corps by way of an order, the same
2 order was elaborated by the 28th Division and sent to its subordinated
3 units, and this order was followed down to the lowest-ranking units,
4 i.e., companies.
5 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic.
6 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] With the president's leave, can I
7 have this document 1D1097 be admitted into evidence.
8 JUDGE FLUEGGE: It will be received.
9 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, this document shall be assigned
10 Exhibit D354. Thank you.
11 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
12 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
13 Q. Mr. Skrbic, please, in your report you addressed the issue of
14 supplies provided to the ABH in Srebrenica and Zepa. Can you explain
15 what kind of supplies were delivered to the army in Srebrenica and Zepa
16 and in what way?
17 A. The units deployed in Srebrenica and Zepa enclaves was
18 predominantly carried out by helicopters but also by land routes. They
19 were delivered from the helidrome or helipad to the subordinate units of
20 the 28th Division.
21 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Did you have in mind here only specific
22 supplies or did you refer to all materiel and equipment required by the
23 troops in Srebrenica and Zepa in general?
24 A. When I speak about supplies provided to units, I mean by that
25 they are supplied with weapons, munition, and other lethal assets
1 required for conducting combat operations.
2 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Tell us, What kind of lines of supplies
3 exists within the provisions of the military doctrine?
4 A. First of all, the supplies that come from own production,
5 provided a state has its own military industry or complex; the second
6 source is by importing these assets from other countries; and another
7 sort is war booty. So these are the most common ways of supplying an
8 army with all the necessary assets, and, of course, included into this
9 should be the communications devices.
10 Q. Thank you. Can you tell us something about how these supplies
11 were actually delivered?
12 A. Delivery is the term that means that a superior command provides
13 the necessary supplies to its subordinate units in the manner available.
14 That is the substance of the term "delivery." Delivery is carried out up
15 to the point which is safe for those who carry the supplies, and from
16 there it is distributed to subordinate units.
17 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic.
18 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Can we now have in e-court document
19 1D445. Thank you. I will repeat the number: 1D445. Thank you.
20 Obviously we have some problems. The document perhaps hasn't been
21 uploaded or it cannot be found.
22 [Trial Chamber and Registrar confer]
23 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, perhaps it was uploaded but not
24 released to the Registry and the Prosecution. I see Mr. Gajic is
25 checking the situation with the document.
1 Mr. Gajic.
2 MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, in my e-court this
3 document is available, and it had been uploaded a long time ago.
4 Therefore, I propose that we move to the next question and then we will
5 come back to this document.
6 JUDGE FLUEGGE: It is not necessary. I am optimistic. Now we
7 have it on the screen. It's there.
8 Please continue.
9 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
10 My thanks to e-court.
11 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
12 Q. Mr. Skrbic, what we see here is a report by the Zepa Brigade,
13 dated 31st December, 1994, sent to the staff of the Supreme Command of
14 the Armed Forces of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina in Kakanj,
15 attention Brigadier-General Enver Hadzihasanovic, and signed by the
16 commander Colonel Avdo Palic. I will briefly read this, and I quote:
17 [As read] "We have done everything pursuant to your order, and we
18 were quite successfully in that. The cargo has been offloaded quickly,
19 it was relocated to a safe location, and all the traces were removed.
20 UNPROFOR saw our helicopter on the entry point to the zone and reported
21 to their commander in Zepa that in the vicinity of Zlovrh three
22 helicopters SS landed, and that was probably due because they were
23 observed circling before the landing. I have undertaken all the measures
24 to prevent UNPROFOR from doing anything that would be unfavorable for us,
25 and I will inform you accordingly when the time comes for that."
1 Mr. Skrbic, is this one of the document that you relied upon when
2 you gave answers to my previous questions when you mentioned helicopter
3 deliveries of supplies? Thank you.
4 A. Yes. It not only corroborates my claim that supplies were
5 provided by helicopters but also my claim that that supplies were
6 delivered, and you can see in the document that they received the assets
7 very quickly and that they had already been distributed to subordinate
8 units. He also says that he was having problems with UNPROFOR because he
9 anticipates that UNPROFOR might intervene in order to prevent helicopter
10 flights. For that reason he made an effort to thwart UNPROFOR in any way
11 possible in their attempt to prevent and stop any deliveries and
13 Q. Thank you. Now, please, in the second paragraph, line two, it
15 "Was Brigadier Oric, Naser, notified that he should be -- he
16 should send his men as soon as possible to Zepa pursuant to previous
17 orders? And if not, inform him about everything."
18 THE INTERPRETER: Could the accused please now repeat the
20 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, the interpreters ask you to repeat
21 your question.
22 We have on the record your quotation from the document, but the
23 question is missing.
24 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you.
25 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
1 Q. My question was: Mr. Skrbic, was this cargo, delivered by three
2 helicopters, intended solely for Zepa?
3 A. No, not solely for the needs of the Zepa Brigade. In this
4 specific case, we have supplies delivered to the 28th Division. But in
5 order to secure the safety of helicopter flights, they have chosen a
6 heliport in the Zepa area because for pilots that was the safest place
7 where they could fly, land, and offload the cargo. And that's why he's
8 asking whether Brigadier Naser Oric had been notified, because he was
9 supposed to come and collect the assets for other units of the
10 28th Division. And what was intended to -- for the 285th Brigade, it had
11 already been taken by the commander.
12 Q. Thank you. Mr. Skrbic, in the last paragraph that I quoted, it
13 says that:
14 "He should send his men to Zepa pursuant to the previous
15 orders ..."
16 My question is: Can you tell us whether the command of the
17 Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina had already been involved in co-ordinating
18 matters between various levels that were privy to the deliveries for Zepa
19 and Srebrenica?
20 A. This can mean only one thing and that is that supplies were being
21 provided on a continual basis, even before this event, and some documents
22 indicate that they went on after. So the units of the 28th Division were
23 being supplied with the necessary assets on a regular basis.
24 Q. Thank you.
25 [Trial Chamber and Registrar confer]
1 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, please carry on.
2 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. I would
3 like to tender document 1D445 into evidence.
4 JUDGE FLUEGGE: It will be marked for identification pending
5 translation, but we have to wait for the return of the Court Officer.
6 There is something he has to deal with and he will come back soon.
7 Please carry on.
8 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. I would
9 like to call up the next document, with your leave, and that is 1D451.
10 Thank you.
11 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
12 Q. Mr. Skrbic, this is yet another document produced by the
13 1st Zepa Light Brigade on the 9th of January, 1995, and the document is
14 also addressed to the General Staff, attention
15 Brigadier-General Hadzihasanovic, and it was sent by the commander of the
16 Zepa Brigade Colonel Avdo Palic. And here we can see the specification
17 of the assets required, and I quote:
18 "If it is possible for you to provide another delivery of
19 materiel and equipment by helicopters, please send us the following as
21 "1. Recoilless gun.
22 "2. Grenades for recoilless gun.
23 "3. RPG-7 launcher.
24 "4. Rockets for RPG-7.
25 "5. Zolja or grenades for hand-held launcher.
1 "7. [as interpreted] Grenades for mortar, 60-millimetre.
2 "7. Ammunition, 7.62-millimetres --"
3 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Please slow down. If you look into the
4 transcript, you will see that they are not able to catch everything.
5 Please slow down. And perhaps you start again after number 4. You will
6 see that it's not properly recorded.
7 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. I
8 apologise to the interpreters.
9 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
10 Q. Number 4 is rocket for RPG-7, 15 pieces. Number 5 is Zolja or
11 rocket for a hand-held launcher, at least 30 pieces. Number 6 is a shell
12 for a mortar, 60-millimetre, at least 50 pieces. Number 7: ammunition,
13 7.62-millimetres times 39, and 7.9 times 7.62 [as interpreted] for
14 sub-machine gun and M-84 machine-gun; and he also needs pistol ammunition
15 7.62- and 7.65-millimetres. Number 8: rifle grenades, shape-charged and
16 contact-action ones, at least 50 pieces. Number 9: hand-grenade, at
17 least 100 pieces. Number 10: mine detector, at least three pieces.
18 Number 11: automatic rifles, at least 50 pieces. Number 12: light
19 machine-gun, M-84, at least three pieces. Number 3. [as interpreted]
20 amateur radio set, one. Number 14: a small generator. Number 15: a
21 powerful accumulator, two pieces ..." and so on and so forth.
22 Mr. Skrbic, could you comment on the amount of weapons and
23 ammunition that is requested here for the operation? What would such an
24 amount of weapons and ammunition serve for?
25 A. According to standard military procedure, apart from establishing
1 priority tasks you also establish what sort of equipment should be given
2 priority. Here it is quite clearly seen that equipment for armed combat
3 has been given priority. Initially it might seem that the equipment
4 requested is not a significant amount. However, if we bear in mind the
5 terrain where operations are taken in Zepa and in the 28th Division area,
6 then this equipment is quite sufficient for the purpose of defending the
7 enclave but also for the purpose of carrying out active combat outside
8 the enclaves. This is a period which is also after the signed
9 cease-fire, and this shows that the cease-fire that was signed is being
10 used by the 28th Division to equip itself and train itself for
11 forthcoming action. I cannot now remember exactly who said this, but I
12 do remember that it was said that it's stupid to have an army and not to
13 use it. And this could mean in this case, too, that if you have units
14 which are being equipped with these supplies, one should expect this
15 equipment to be used in combat activity.
16 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic.
17 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Mr. President, could this document
18 1D451 please be admitted into evidence until we find a translation.
19 Thank you.
20 JUDGE FLUEGGE: It will be marked for identification pending
22 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, 65 ter document 1D445 shall be
23 assigned Exhibit D355, marked for identification. And the 65 ter
24 document 1D451 shall be assigned Exhibit D356, marked for identification
25 pending translation. Thank you.
1 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Both documents are pending translation. Thank
3 Mr. Tolimir, I assume that you will move to another document or
4 topic now. I was informed, in the meantime, that in the Detention Unit
5 there was a problem with water, a leakage somewhere, and therefore during
6 the break I hope we will receive a report if that relates to your cell in
7 any way. The Court Officer will inform the Chamber and especially you,
8 Mr. Tolimir, and the other party which measures have to be taken.
9 We should have our first break now, and during the break I hope
10 everything will be resolved. Or, at least, we will receive reports how
11 to proceed further.
12 If there is no other information by the Chamber, we will assume
13 at 11.00.
14 --- Recess taken at 10.27 a.m.
15 --- On resuming at 11.03 a.m.
16 JUDGE FLUEGGE: The Chamber is informed that the problem in the
17 Detention Unit was resolved in the meantime. I hope you have received
18 this message too, Mr. Tolimir.
19 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
20 [Trial Chamber and Registrar confer]
21 JUDGE FLUEGGE: It was my misunderstanding. It is not related to
22 the Detention Unit, but to the holding cells here in the building of the
23 Tribunal. In that case, we can proceed, and you may continue with your
24 examination-in-chief, Mr. Tolimir.
25 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. Could we
1 now see the following document: 1D1088. Thank you. Thank you.
2 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
3 Q. Here we can see a document from the Republic of Bosnia and
4 Herzegovina from the army General Staff, drafted on the
5 18th of January, 1995, in Kakanj. It says: Order to the
6 1st Zepa Mountain Brigade, to Colonel Avdo Palic, personally.
7 Once you'd had a look at it, could you tell us whether this is an
8 answer to Avdo Palic's request in which he requested a certain amount of
9 weapons and materiel? And you commented on that request. Thank you.
10 A. Yes, that's correct. And customary military procedure was
11 thereby respected. A superior responds to a request from a subordinate
12 for materiel and equipment and provides such materiel and equipment if
13 that is possible.
14 Q. Thank you. Mr. Skrbic, please, if you have a look at the
15 addressee, it says: "To Colonel Avdo Palic, personally." What does
16 "n/r" mean?
17 A. Yes, that means "personally." And only particularly important
18 documents are sent to someone in person. The equipment is more important
19 than the document itself, but to prevent the document from ending up in
20 the wrong hands this mention was made: To Avdo Palic, personally.
21 Q. Thank you. Since the document was sent on the 18th of January by
22 the General Staff and sent to Zepa, please tell me who was involved in
23 arming in Zepa and who was responsible for deliveries? Thank you.
24 A. This document is important because deliveries are made by the
25 army General Staff of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and that is
1 not common practice. The General Staff doesn't usually supply units that
2 are two or even more levels below. Usually the General Staff would
3 provide the 2nd Corps or deliver the second -- deliver the equipment to
4 the 2nd Corps, and then the 2nd Corps would act on the basis of priority
5 tasks and on the basis of the needs of the units. It would then
6 determine how to distribute the equipment.
7 It's also necessary to note that this document has a date
8 subsequent to the signing of the cease-fire agreement, which also shows
9 that the agreement was used in order to supply units.
10 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Could you please tell us whether at the
11 time the no-fly zone ban in Bosnia-Herzegovina was in force? And did
12 that have any effect on the fact that the General Staff was directly
13 involved in deliveries to its own units via air or in other ways? Thank
15 A. No, that resolution didn't have any effect, because supplies were
16 provided through secret channels, through the use of helicopters which
17 flew over the mountains and flew through canyons, so experienced pilots
18 were able to provide supplies in this manner.
19 Q. Thank you. Have a look at the date. Was this done at the time
20 when this no-fly zone was in force in Bosnia-Herzegovina?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Were there frequent flights to supply
23 Zepa and Srebrenica in spite of the no-fly zone that was supposed to be
24 enforced, and was this noticed by international organisations that
25 monitored the skies above Bosnia? Thank you.
1 A. Naturally, if there were such flights, they had to be noticed
2 because the international forces and the UN forces, together with NATO
3 forces, had all the necessary surveillance equipment in order to be able
4 to detect the flights of helicopters. Helicopter flights were quite
5 frequent right up until June 1995.
6 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic.
7 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Could 1D1008 please be admitted
8 into evidence.
9 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I think this is the wrong number. We are looking
10 at 1D1088, and this will be received into evidence.
11 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, this document shall be assigned
12 Exhibit D357. Thank you.
13 THE ACCUSED: [No interpretation] [microphone not activated]
14 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
15 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Your microphone.
16 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you. I have another
17 question, so could you leave the document on the screen, please.
18 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
19 Q. Mr. Skrbic, does this document show whether the forces in Zepa
20 and Srebrenica had anti-armour weapons at their disposal?
21 A. Well, of course. RPG - rockets - are anti-armour weapons.
22 Q. Thank you. Is that under item 6 in this list?
23 A. Item 6 is a rocket-launcher. Item number 7 is the missile that
24 is used for the launcher in question.
25 Q. Thank you. Can hand-held launchers be used for anti-armour
2 A. Yes, of course. Rifle-launched grenades can also be used for
3 such purposes. Shape-charged rifle-launched grenades can be used for
4 such purposes.
5 Q. Thank you. We can also see that the delivery of such equipment
6 has been requested here; is that the case or not?
7 A. Yes, yes.
8 Q. Thank you.
9 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Could we please now see 1D1089.
10 Thank you. I would like to thank the e-court.
11 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
12 Q. Mr. Skrbic, we see another document issued by the Army of the
13 Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was issued by the
14 1st Zepa Light Brigade on the 19th of January, 1995. It was sent to the
15 army General Staff, personally to Brigadier-General Hadzihasanovic. In
16 this document, the brigadier-general was informed that the load that was
17 sent on the 18th of January was received and stored at a secure location.
18 A request is made for the army to be notified about the arrival of the
19 second load. Does this document prove the point that we were just
21 A. Yes. This is the answer to the previous document. Subordinated
22 units are duty-bound to report to the superior command about the
23 implementation of any order issued by the superior command.
24 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic.
25 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I would kindly ask the
1 Presiding Judge to admit into evidence the document that we see on the
2 screen, which is 1D1089.
3 JUDGE FLUEGGE: It will be received.
4 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, this document shall be assigned
5 Exhibit D358. Thank you.
6 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
7 And now I would kindly ask the e-court to display 1D431. Thank
8 you. Thank you. We are still waiting for it. I repeat the number:
9 1D431. 1D431, thank you.
10 [Trial Chamber and Registrar confer]
11 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, Mr. Gajic, I was told that the
12 Defence didn't release it yet. Please check.
13 MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I have it in e-court.
14 I don't understand what the problem is.
15 [Trial Chamber and Registrar confer]
16 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Gajic, perhaps you have it saved in your
17 private Defence folder, but it has to be released to the Registry and the
19 MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Yes, Mr. President, we know that.
20 That document was released a long time ago. I'm convinced, because it
21 was uploaded a long time ago, I'm convinced that it has been released.
22 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you. Since the document
23 cannot be found, we are going to look at another one, 1D1081.
24 JUDGE FLUEGGE: During the next break you will be able to discuss
25 the matter with the Registry.
1 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
2 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
3 Q. Mr. Skrbic, we can now see a document issued by the Army of the
4 Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina of its OG-8 in Srebrenica. It was
5 sent on the 3rd November, 1994, to the
6 Brigadier-General Enver Hadzihasanovic, personally. This is an answer to
7 his document 02-1/1347-1. And it says here:
8 "In connection with your memo number," so-and-so, "dated
9 1 November 1994, we hereby inform you that we too are preparing
10 intensively for the forthcoming operation. We have already sent you our
11 idea for carrying out the task.
12 "We have made contact with the commander of the Zepa Brigade and
13 agreed on carrying out the task of infiltrating materiel and technical
14 equipment via this channel."
15 Please, Mr. Skrbic, tell us, What is this document? Thank you.
16 And what is the comment rate of the first document that is referred to in
17 this document as well as the document that we see on the screen? Thank
19 A. Yes, this document is the continuation for the preparation of
20 units for combat. Previously, we saw that a resupply was completed, as
21 well as the mainstreaming of the units, and now we can see that the units
22 are preparing for combat. They are informing the superior command about
23 their capabilities. It is to be assumed that the superior command knows
24 what the division's capabilities are; however, it is also obvious that
25 since the division commander sends a dedicated individual to the
1 highest-ranking command to inform them about the unit's capabilities, it
2 is obvious that the operation in the pipeline is very significant. If it
3 wasn't that significant, this envoy from the 28th Division would not be
4 sent to the General Staff to inform the General Staff about the combat
5 capabilities of the division.
6 Q. Thank you. Since we're talking about preparations for combat and
7 since Brigadier Naser Oric refers to that and since he sends his personal
8 representative to the staff of the superior command - so the Supreme
9 Command - would say that these are preparations for the activities of the
10 Srebrenica OG directed at units and areas around Srebrenica? Thank you.
11 A. As you can see in the document, the division commander says: "We
12 are also preparing intensively for the forthcoming operation ..." This
13 means that the operation is being prepared by the General Staff, by the
14 2nd Corps, and that the 28th Division is preparing to participate in the
15 operation from the enclave, because this is the only way they can act
16 from within the enclave against the other units.
17 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. This is obviously a co-ordinated activity
18 involving the General Staff and OG-8 under the command of
19 Brigadier Naser Oric. Would you say that plans were made for some joint
20 activities that should have taken place at the same time from two
21 different axes? Is the operative group in the protected area meant to be
22 used for launching attacks from within the protected area?
23 A. First of all, I have to say that it is not customary, according
24 to the military procedure and pursuant to the standards of command and
25 control, for the Main Staff to issue orders and tasks to a unit two ranks
1 or two steps below it. However, it is obvious that the operation in
2 question is of particular significance, which is why the Main Staff is
3 the one co-ordinating that operation. The Main Staff knows what the
4 general plan is for the use of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and
5 Herzegovina. And then when the General Staff receives information about
6 the combat capabilities of the 28th Division from the personal envoy of
7 Naser Oric, in keeping with that the General Staff will give its task to
8 that unit. I repeat: This is obviously a very significant task, and the
9 division will certainly act from within the protected area, because
10 within that protected area it does not have anybody to fight.
11 Q. Thank you.
12 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Can this document be admitted,
14 JUDGE FLUEGGE: It will be received.
15 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, 65 ter document 1D1081 shall be
16 assigned Exhibit D359. Thank you.
17 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you. I have just been
18 informed that document 1D431 is ready to be used. Therefore, I would
19 kindly ask the e-court to display it, 1D431. Thank you.
20 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
21 Q. We can see this document issued by the Army of the Republic of
22 Bosnia and Herzegovina, by the command of the Srebrenica OG. It was sent
23 on the 29th of July, 1994. It was sent to the command of the 2nd Corps
24 in Tuzla to the intelligence organ. We are interested in the second
25 paragraph in this document. I am going to read it, and I quote:
1 [As read] "In a conversation with the representatives of UNPROFOR
2 in Srebrenica on the 29th July, 1994, we learnt that the UNPROFOR
3 representatives have been informed about the preparations for a
4 larger-scale combat from the axes of Kladanj, towards Han Pijesak and
5 Vlasenica, and the combat operations will be carried out in the
6 foreseeable future. The representatives of the UN, in a conversation
7 with one of the commanders of the BiH Army who is currently deployed in
8 Kladanj, also learned that in the territory of Kladanj a brigade is being
9 set up and that the population of Vlasenica and Han Pijesak have been
10 recruited into that that brigade. The brigade will carry out combat
11 activities and attempt to liberate these towns. UN representatives are
12 also aware of the information that the commander of the 2nd Corps has
13 been deployed in the municipality of Kladanj for a while now and that he
14 is personally involved in the preparation for combat. There is also a
15 suspicion that the Serbian intelligence sources have been able to break
16 into the system of satellite connections of the United Nations and that
17 they have information about the preparation and the carrying out of
18 combat in these areas."
19 This was signed by the desk officer for intelligence,
20 Ekrem Salihovich. He's the one who sent out this document.
21 On pages 27 and 28, you have dealt with this document. That's in
22 Serbian, and in 25 -- on page 25 of this report, in English.
23 Could you please tell us something about the nature of the
24 information contained in the document that I've just quoted from? Thank
1 A. First of all, this is just a customary exchange of intelligence
2 between subordinates and their superior commands. This is the necessary
3 prerequisites -- prerequisite for the successful preparation of combat
4 activities. Second of all, we can now be even more certain of what I
5 have just told you and that is that the operation in question is a very
6 significant one. The mere presence of the commander of the 2nd Corps in
7 Kladanj and his immediate involvement in the preparations for the
8 operation together with the Main Staff indicate the significance of that
9 operation. Third of all, you can also see the fact that a new unit is
10 being established and that it will involve combatants from Vlasenica and
11 Han Pijesak, and it is really not difficult for us to tell what the axis
12 of the operation will be and what its focus will be. The focus of the
13 operation will be these two towns.
14 Why is this brigade being established? Because it is to be
15 assumed that people from these towns, future combatants from these towns,
16 are more highly motivated to fight because they will be liberating their
17 own home towns. This is not the first time, and this is not something
18 that happened in the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina. I have similar personal
19 experiences, because when we carried out a counter-offensive against five
20 corps units in 1994, my brigade was designated by the superior commands
21 to spearhead the combat operations because they believed they were better
22 motivated than the others coming from Bihac originally, and it was only
23 to be expected that they would be more motivated. And morale and
24 motivation are sometimes more important than the equipment and weapons
25 used in conducting operations.
1 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Can you please tell us where are the
2 combatants from Vlasenica and Han Pijesak mentioned in this document, and
3 where these towns are situated? In whose territory? Because probably
4 the Trial Chamber is eager to learn all the facts.
5 A. Combatants that are to make up the brigade are in the 2nd Corps
6 and in some of its units. One can definitely say that they would be
7 taken out of those units and used to form a new brigade. Han Pijesak and
8 Vlasenica municipality were in the territory of Republika Srpska at the
10 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Can you please tell us, Can one see from
11 this letter whether the commands and units of the UN deployed on the
12 ground had intelligence information about the planned operations from
13 Srebrenica and from other territories under ABH control?
14 A. Yes. It is completely indubitable that UNPROFOR units were aware
15 of the preparations that this unit was making and that they were able to
16 monitor the operation.
17 Q. Thank you. Does this intelligence report says [as interpreted]
18 precisely that they did know that or is it just your assumption?
19 A. It says here that they were fully aware.
20 Q. Thank you.
21 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Can we please have document 1D431
22 admitted into evidence. Thank you.
23 JUDGE FLUEGGE: It will be marked for identification pending
25 [B/C/S on English channel]
1 THE REGISTRAR: [Previous translation continues] ... Your Honour,
2 65 ter document 1D431 shall be assigned Exhibit D360, marked for
3 identification pending translation. Thank you.
4 JUDGE FLUEGGE: We have --
5 [B/C/S on English channel]
6 JUDGE FLUEGGE: [Previous translation continues] ... received on
7 the English channel the B/C/S version.
8 THE REGISTRAR: I will try again, Your Honours. 65 ter document
9 1D431 shall be assigned Exhibit D360, marked for identification pending
10 translation. Thank you.
11 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you.
12 Mr. Tolimir.
13 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. Can we
14 now have in e-court document P2369. Thank you.
15 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
16 Q. Now, can you tell us, for the record, if you dealt with this
17 document on pages 33 and 34 in the Serbian version and on page 5 of the
18 English version of your report. Page 30 in English. Do you recall?
19 A. Yes, yes, I did.
20 Q. Thank you. Can you tell us, What does this document from
21 Bosnia-Herzegovina, dated 9th eleven -- 9th November, 1994, mean?
22 A. In military terms, the basic idea is a visualisation of the
23 battle-ground. In other words, it is a summary of what the commander
24 intends to achieve in the forthcoming operation. After the basic idea is
25 set up, the staff is going to expound on the relevant decision. And I'm
1 not going to go into the whole decision-making process, I will only say
2 that after such a decision has been taken, this part of the basic idea
3 can be either modified to a certain extent or remain unchanged, and it
4 becomes paragraph four of an order or a directive.
5 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Now, please, can you tell us this: Is it
6 customary for the Main Staff of the Supreme Command of the ABiH to
7 elaborate a basic idea for the level of the Srebrenica operations group
8 which is lower than the corps which it is subordinated?
9 A. This is not a usual and standard military procedure. However, it
10 is possible, provided the commander decides to do so. Therefore, it is
11 not necessarily prohibited to pursue this course. But this indicates
12 that we are talking here about a very significant operation that has a
13 very specific objective, given that it's being prepared by the
14 Main Staff. This document was preceded by a document from the 8th OG in
15 which the 8 G commander -- OG commander proposed a participation of his
16 units in the operation and proposes his own basic idea. For that reason,
17 after reviewing this proposal from the 8th OG, the Main Staff did what
18 they did and sent their basic idea to the 8th OG.
19 The normal procedure would be for this idea to be forwarded to
20 the corps first, and then the 2nd Corps command would prepare their own
21 concept of the operation and on that basis distribute tasks to its
22 subordinate units, including the 28th Division.
23 Q. Thank you. Now, can you please take a look at item 1, and it
24 speaks about this idea, and I'm going to quote.
25 [No interpretation]
1 THE INTERPRETER: Could Mr. Tolimir please tell us exactly the
2 referenced paragraph.
3 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
4 Q. "The plan is to liberate in active combat actions part of the
5 temporarily seized territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina - the municipalities
6 of Bratunac, Vlasenica, Sekovici, Zvornik, and Kalesija - and link the
7 free territories of Zepa and Srebrenica with the free territories of
8 Zvornik, Kalesija, and Zivinice in order to create a permanent free
9 corridor for the supply of the population and logistics support to the
10 Army of RBH and the basis for the future liberation of north-eastern
11 Bosnia as a whole."
12 Does this reflect the basic idea of the Supreme Command and the
13 tasks and duties to be conferred upon units in order to implement this
14 idea in practice?
15 A. Yes. We can clearly see what the intention of the
16 Supreme Command is, and that is actually the purpose of the basic idea.
17 And now one can clearly recognise what the objectives of the operation
18 are. It is not only to liberate the temporarily occupied territories
19 mentioned herein, but also the creation of favourable conditions and good
20 operational basis for the continuation of combat operations and eventual
21 liberation, as he put it, of the whole of north-eastern Bosnia.
22 The planned operation, according to this idea and the intention
23 highlighted by the commander, is of strategic importance for the
24 RBH army.
25 Q. Thank you. Now, underneath, they specifically and very precisely
1 determine both the left and right boundaries of the corridor. Can you
2 tell us something about the corridor, and through whose territory would
3 they run?
4 A. That's part of the territory under the VRS control or, rather,
5 part of the territory of the Republika Srpska. In this particular
6 instance they call it a corridor, although this is not a typical
7 corridor. This is a wide stretch of territory, and I said a minute ago
8 that it would serve as a good operational basis for the continuation of
9 their activities. This means that the Main Staff realised the importance
10 of this territory and realised the importance of the size of the corridor
11 or, if you want, of the operational basis for further operations.
12 Q. Thank you.
13 [Microphone not activated]
14 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
15 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Sorry.
16 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
17 Q. If we look at the border-lines on the left side and then
18 underneath where it says "right border," and there are all the villages
19 there named that are supposed to be linked through operations, can you
20 tell us what is the width between the left and the right borders? How
21 wide would this corridor would be?
22 A. Since I never went to this area and I don't have a map in front
23 of me, it is very hard for me to give you an answer.
24 Q. Thank you. But one can see here that the left border is the one
25 controlled by the Zepa Brigade during combat operations, too; whereas the
1 right border starts from Brestovik, trig point 1291. Then you have the
2 villages of Podzeplje and Brestovik. Can you tell us how far these
3 villages are from trig point 1291?
4 A. As far as I can remember, I believe that the distance is between
5 15 and 20 kilometres.
6 Q. As a military expert, can you please tell us: What is the width
7 of defence covered by a division or by a brigade? The width of its
8 defence line. And you can choose whichever you prefer.
9 A. A brigade defends 10 to 12 kilometres, and a division defends
10 even over 20 kilometres of a front line.
11 Q. Now, according to this basic idea, is it envisaged that a brigade
12 and a division should occupy such territory that is normally envisaged to
13 be defended by a brigade or a division respectively?
14 A. A unit is never tasked with an assignment that it cannot
15 accomplish. And you never determine an area of operation that these
16 units cannot maintain after it occupies it. That means that the brigade
17 and the division were tasked with opening the corridor that in the
18 forthcoming period they would be capable of defending.
19 Q. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Can you please now look at
20 item 2 of this document, and I'm going to read it. We're going to see it
21 on our screens. This is the next page. Item 2, the second paragraph
22 from the top. And it reads:
23 [As read] "How to execute the task: Liberate the temporarily
24 seized sector of the corridor, inserting large forces into the depth of
25 the corridor sector and engaging in offensive operations from the free
1 territories of OG-4, OG-6, the 2nd Corps, and OG-8 Srebrenica, and
2 afterwards secure the north-eastern and south-western side of the
3 corridor at the lines given in item 1.
4 "Engage the already prepared logistics support immediately
5 through the 2nd Corps."
6 Please, this infiltration of forces that was planned from the
7 territory under the control of the ABiH in Central Bosnia, together with
8 the 2nd Corps --
9 THE INTERPRETER: The accused is kindly asked to repeat the
10 question, which was not clear.
11 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, the interpreters asked you to repeat
12 the question; they didn't understand it.
13 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you. I'll repeat my
15 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
16 Q. Mr. Skrbic, I have quoted this. Does this show the way in which
17 the task was carried out, according to which it was planned to infiltrate
18 forces from the central Bosnian territory under the control of the
19 2nd Corps of the ABiH and from territories of the liberated zones of
20 Srebrenica and Zepa? So were sabotage and terrorist groups infiltrated
21 from those territories?
22 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's correction: "from the
23 demilitarised zones," not "from the liberated zones."
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No plans were in place for
25 infiltrating sabotage and terrorist units. The plan was to have
1 significant forces infiltrated from territory under the control of the
2 ABiH army -- or, rather, from territory that was the area of
3 responsibility of the 2nd Corps of the ABiH. It was also planned to
4 infiltrate forces from the 28th Division from the protected zone, and
5 they were to infiltrate the depth of the territory of Republika Srpska.
6 As we can see, operations were reliant on those units that were
7 to be infiltrated into the depth of the territory, because these units
8 were expected to take advantage of the element of surprise and to ensure
9 that other units had favourable conditions that would allow them to carry
10 out their task.
11 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Please have a look at 3, item 3,
12 engagement of forces. And let's see what the task is for the 285th and
13 the light brigade. 3.1. I'll quote. I'll read it out.
14 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Could you please scroll up the
15 English version.
16 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
17 Q. "The 284th East Bosnian Light Brigade used the entire
18 284th Eastern Bosnian Light Brigade for insertion into the depth of the
19 corridor into the original sectors, combat group by combat group
20 (battalion strength). Reinforce combat groups as needed from other
21 brigades with the minimum number of soldiers for a realistic execution of
22 the set task and keep them in the field until they link up with the other
24 My question is as follows: Did the Main Staff of the
25 ABiH Supreme Command plan to have the whole 284th Iblbr inserted into the
1 corridor, in the territory that was under the control of the VRS, and did
2 they plan to have that force remain there until other forces, remaining
3 forces, from the ABiH arrived in the area? Thank you.
4 A. That just confirms what I was previously saying. It's not a
5 matter of infiltrating sabotage and terrorist groups; it's a matter of
6 infiltrating significant forces. The 284th Brigade was probably the most
7 capable unit from the 28th Division. Given that, the Main Staff had
8 planned to infiltrate this brigade, to have this brigade infiltrate
9 territory that was under the control of the VRS.
10 It was planned to have the entire brigade infiltrate the
11 territory. There were supposed to be units the strength of a battalion
12 that were to infiltrate the territory. These are strong units,
13 especially when they infiltrate the enemy's rear. They can thus inflict
14 very significant losses on the units in whose territory they are present.
15 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Please, have you come across any
16 documents which state that certain forces from Zepa and from Srebrenica
17 infiltrated the territory of Republika Srpska? Thank you.
18 A. Yes. I came across a number of such documents, and that confirms
19 that there had previously been cases of infiltration but not to the
20 extent that was now being planned. In these documents that I previously
21 found, these prior infiltrations concerned the infiltration of sabotage
22 and reconnaissance units, reconnaissance units the strength of a platoon.
23 Such units had between 20 and 30 soldiers. These groups inflicted
24 significant losses on the Army of Republika Srpska.
25 Q. Thank you. If we have a look at the engagement of forces. I
1 won't read through the entire paragraph that relates to groups and
2 subgroups, but is mentioned made of areas between Zepa and Srebrenica?
3 Thank you.
4 A. Yes, those areas are also mentioned.
5 But there is something else that I would like to add which I
6 believe is very important, and this will enable us to have a better
7 understanding of this operation and its purpose.
8 If we see that the Main Staff issues tasks to a brigade and to
9 units below the level of brigade, a brigade is three levels below the
10 Main Staff, but in this case it's issuing tasks to combat groups formed
11 by brigades, and even to combat subgroups. So now we're going five
12 levels down, and this is extremely rare. But once again let me say that
13 it is the commander's right to decide how to use certain units and also
14 to decide who will assign tasks to these units. Since this operation is
15 a very serious one and the purpose of the operation is very serious, the
16 Main Staff assumed responsibility for assigning tasks to groups at such
17 low levels.
18 In contemporary armies, this could be tolerated more easily,
19 because given the contemporary systems of command and control and of
20 managing units and operations, commanders at the highest levels can have
21 communication links and can issue tasks to groups at the level of a
22 company. This isn't always good in terms of military doctrine, but if
23 the commander so decides, if he decides that this is the manner in which
24 his objective will be reached, then he has the right to proceed in this
25 manner, because he is the commander, the authorised official, who decides
1 who will command a unit and in what manner.
2 Q. Thank you.
3 [Microphone not activated]
4 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
5 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
6 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Could we now please have a look at A, or
7 could you have a look at item A, which relates to the first combat group,
8 Combat Group 1. Certain facilities are mentioned - Velja Glava, Snagovo,
9 and Djafin Kamen. Are these places referred to?
10 A. Yes, yes.
11 Q. Do these features mean anything to you? Where are they, in fact,
12 located, Velja Glava and Snagovo, which areas? In relation to the column
13 that was breaking through.
14 A. These features are partially to be found on the axis of -- on the
15 breakthrough axis of the 28th Division. They are in the territory of
16 Republika Srpska.
17 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Have a look at the second subgroup
18 referred to under A. In the second line, is the village of
19 Camilja [phoen] Kula Grad mentioned? And the Kula Grad fortress, is that
20 a place mentioned in the third line?
21 A. Yes, these places are mentioned.
22 Q. Thank you. Could you please tell us where, as far as you can
23 remember, these places are located? In the vicinity of which large
24 settlements or towns? Thank you.
25 A. I can't say for certain which large towns they are close to, but
1 what I can say is that they are near the Drina river. And part of the
2 objective of the operation was that after an operations base had been
3 established, the operation should continue and the forces should break
4 through to the Drina river. I can also point out that these places are
5 located in the territory of Republika Srpska.
6 Q. Thank you. We saw, under the heading "idea," we saw something
7 about the left border, and the village of Pozege [phoen] was supposed to
8 be the first location there. Now you're mentioning the Drina river as a
9 location that was fixed. Where is the village of Pozeplje located, could
10 you please tell us then? And what is the distance between Pozeplje and
11 the banks of the Drina river? Thank you.
12 A. Well, Pozeplje is in the vicinity of Zepa, but I couldn't really
13 tell you how far it is from the river Drina.
14 Q. Thank you. Is the village of Pozeplje in the vicinity of the
15 Main Staff in Han Pijesak? Thank you.
16 A. Yes. It is in the vicinity of the Main Staff.
17 Q. Thank you. And could you perhaps estimate the distance between
18 the Main Staff and the banks of the river Drina in the area where OG-8
19 was active, or, rather, part of the forces from Srebrenica? Thank you.
20 A. Well, I think that was a distance of about 30 kilometres.
21 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Given the distances and the extent of the
22 territory that they wanted to liberate, could you tell us whether this
23 concerns linking up territory under the control of the ABiH? Did it
24 concern linking up that territory in Central Bosnia with territory in
25 Eastern Bosnia, which is where these protected zones were located? In
1 the vicinity of the Drina Rijeka, the Drina river. Thank you.
2 A. Yes, I can confirm that. Because this is part of the main
3 objective, the main idea, expressed by the Main Staff. The purpose was
4 to link up these territories, the territory under the control of the ABiH
5 or, rather, the 2nd Corps. This territory was to be linked up with the
6 territory of the Srebrenica and Zepa enclaves.
7 Q. Thank you. Let's have a look at item 3. It concerns the forces
8 of the 2nd Corps of the ABiH. Thank you. 3.4.
9 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Aleksandar. It's
10 page 10 in the English version.
11 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
12 Q. At the bottom of this page in the Serbian language and at the
13 bottom of the page in the English version as well, we can see it says the
14 2nd Corps forces of the ABiH. And it says:
15 "The main forces of Operations Group 6 and Operations Group 4 are
16 engaged on this task with reinforcement from other 2nd Corps
18 And then it mentions basic tasks.
19 My question is as follows: In this complex operation planned by
20 the Main Staff on the 9th of November, 1994, was action planned by ABiH
21 units from Central Bosnia from the 2nd Corps in order to link up with
22 forces with Zepa and Srebrenica? Thank you.
23 A. This is more than obvious. The rest of the 2nd Corps - and why
24 do I say the rest? because the 28th Division is also on the strength of
25 the 2nd Corps - was given a special task. They were to launch an
1 operation on the axis from Central Bosnia to eastern enclaves.
2 Q. Thank you. We don't want to go on reading the entire document.
3 Let's look at 4.8 in this document. This is on the last page,
4 and this was -- this will also give us an opportunity to see the
5 opportunity [as interpreted]. In English it is page 13, the last page.
6 Thank you. This will give us an opportunity to see the signature. 4.8.
7 And I quote:
8 [As read] "We have realistic information that the Chetniks are
9 preparing to attack you, but we don't know yet when or how. Should this
10 be the case, a troublesome defence lies in store for you in the final
11 breakthrough from the encirclement, which is a very complex operation.
12 Because you will have the people on your back, you will lose free
13 territory, and you will have to move through the occupied territory.
14 Compared to that, this operation doesn't have such significant problems.
15 It is essential that we commence the operation before the Chetniks decide
16 to attack. We can and indeed we will help you to break through the
17 encirclement, but certainly on a smaller scale and less effectively than
18 in the execution of the operation."
19 My question is this: Did the Main Staff, or, rather, the
20 Supreme Command of the BiH Army, know what the risks were? And despite
21 being aware of the risks, did they decide to launch a decisive operation
22 to pre-empt the Chetniks' attack? Thank you.
23 A. Not only were they aware of all that, they envisaged all that.
24 This document clearly shows that the Main Staff of the BiH Army warns the
25 command of the 28th Division about what they can expect about the
1 situation that may be in store for them.
2 This bullet point indicates that the Main Staff already had
3 information that Srebrenica would come under attack, that it would be
4 threatened. Not only did they have that information, they also knew that
5 it -- Srebrenica will not be defended, because the message of the
6 commander of the 8th Group shows that their future breakthrough from the
7 encirclement is not as significant as the operation that was planned.
8 It is clearly shown by the document that the Main Staff warns the
9 command that the breakthrough is a very complex operation and that it
10 will be even more complex for them. It will be compounded by the fact
11 that they will have people on their backs, civilians, and that they will
12 have to break through an occupied territory under the control of the
13 Army of Republika Srpska - and I'm talking about the same distance of
14 60 kilometres that we have already mentioned. Besides that, the
15 Main Staff warns the command of the 8th OG that the Army of
16 Republika Srpska might carry out the so-called pre-emptive action,
17 because the Main Staff of the Army of Republika Srpska had intelligence
18 to the effect of such an operation being in the pipeline.
19 The 8th OG is warned that if their action is pre-empted by the
20 Army Republika Srpska, they will be on their own in the breakthrough.
21 And as you can see in the document, they say that they want to help,
22 however, to the extent possible and to the extent matching the
23 significance of the planned operation. Since the objective of the
24 planned operation is much above and beyond the task of protecting and
25 preserving Srebrenica, he spelled it out quite clearly in this bullet
1 point and he left it to OG-8 to independently solve any problems that
2 might arise from their decision.
3 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. And now let us look at bullet point 4.9,
4 right underneath. And I quote:
5 [As read] "Keep this document to yourself ... any leaks from the
6 document will be your personal responsibility. From it, you can issue
7 tasks in segments to those who are to carry them out. The entire
8 operation and its objective must not be given to anyone until the
9 specified moment and without our approval. After you study it, you may
10 destroy it at your discretion or keep it secure and destroy it when you
11 see fit."
12 My question is this: Why all the secrecy measures with regard to
13 these operations? Why do you think that all the information regarding
14 the operation has to be so secret and confidential? What would be your
15 opinion on that?
16 A. The objective calls for secrecy not only in this operation but by
17 and large in all operations. This is a well-known military problem, and
18 that is when to convey tasks to subordinated units from the superior
19 units. In all the militaries of the world, this is an unresolved issue.
20 Every time when a task is sent down the line to a lower unit, the danger
21 of information leak increases. That is why commanders are very cautious
22 whenever they are in a position to send their decisions down to
23 subordinated units.
24 However, there is an inherent danger in that. One may be overly
25 cautious and as a result a decision arrives too late and subordinated
1 units do not have enough time to prepare for the task. In this document
2 this is very obvious. In this very bullet point this is very obvious.
3 The commander -- or, rather, the Main Staff, here, orders how the
4 document/documents should be treated if they contain the highest possible
5 secret regarding the operation. That's why the commander ordered that
6 tasks should be issued to the subordinated units in segments and that the
7 sequence of the implementation as envisaged in the main idea should be
8 followed. In other words, another plan will be drafted for the
9 operation, and all the ensuing orders have to be based on that plan.
10 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Please, you have testified that the
11 person who gave this order also knew that the civilian population would
12 be moving out of Srebrenica together with the troops. How did you know
13 that? Or whose decision was it to move out the civilian population from
15 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye.
16 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. If we could have a
17 reference to that particular statement. I didn't see it in the
18 transcript as he's been testifying so far today, at least.
19 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, can you give us the reference for
21 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. The
22 reference for that is under bullet point 4.9 -- or, rather, 4.8. I
24 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, you misunderstood the request of
25 Mr. Vanderpuye. He was asking you for a reference to your statement.
1 You said in the last question to the witness:
2 "Mr. Skrbic, please, you have testified that the person who gave
3 this order also knew that the civilian population would be moving out of
4 Srebrenica together with the troops."
5 Could you give us a reference where Mr. Skrbic testified to that
7 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. This is
8 not what I said. I said: Since you in your answers said that they will
9 have a problem of the population on their back, did you study how the
10 decision was made to transfer the civilian population from Srebrenica?
11 That was my question. And the reference about that, which was
12 repeated by the witness, is bullet point 4.8, line 4, where it says:
13 "You will have --"
14 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, that is sufficient. It was
15 obviously an interpretation matter.
16 Sir, the question of Mr. Tolimir is: Did you study how the
17 decision was made to transfer the civilian population from Srebrenica?
18 Could you please answer.
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, I researched that issue. And
20 I have dealt with it in a chapter entitled: "Evacuation from Srebrenica."
21 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, I think it's now the time for the
22 second break. You may then proceed after the break. We will resume at
24 --- Recess taken at 12.29 p.m.
25 --- On resuming at 1.01 p.m.
1 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes, Mr. Tolimir. Please continue.
2 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. I would
3 like to call up P990. Thank you. The witness referred to that document
4 in one of his answers. Thank you.
5 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
6 Q. We see a document issued by the Republic of Bosnia and
7 Herzegovina. It's a municipality of Srebrenica. The presidency of that
8 municipality has sent this document on the 9th of July, 1995, to the
9 president of the Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mr. Alija Izetbegovic,
10 as well as to the commander of the RBH army, Army General Rasim Delic.
11 I quote from the report:
12 "This is a report from the session of the Srebrenica municipality
13 presidency held on the 9th of July, 1995, at 1900 hours.
14 [As read] "The aggressor army entered the town at 1800 hours from
15 the direction of Zeleni Jadar. Our military command is dissolving, and
16 the members of the 28th Division of the ground forces are no longer able
17 to do anything to prevent aggressor forces from entering the town. Chaos
18 and panic are rife, and the civilian authorities are left with the last
19 unpopular step to save the population. And it is stressed that a meeting
20 at the level of the state and military organs of the RBH with the Serbian
21 aggressor side, which means that a noted meeting should be set up with
22 the Serbian aggressor side with the aim of finding a possibility to open
23 a corridor for the population to move to the nearest free territory of
24 the RBiH under the control of international factors. We need an urgent
25 reply no later than 2400 hours.
1 "President of the Presidency Osman Suljic," mining engineer.
2 Thank you.
3 Mr. Skrbic, could you please tell us what, Conclusions would you
4 infer from this document?
5 A. First of all, I have to draw your attention to the date of the
6 document and the time when the session of the presidency of the
7 municipality of Zepa was held, at 1900 hours. And before I share with
8 you my final conclusions about this document, I would like to point to
9 the fact that an urgent answer is sought no later than 24 hours. Which
10 means that if the session started at 1900 hours, it must have lasted at
11 least for an hour; an hour later the telegram was sent, which means that
12 it was sent at 2000 hours; which means that only four hours remained to
13 the highest political leadership of the Republic of Bosnia and
14 Herzegovina to provide their answer to the request.
15 What does this mean? This means that the Presidency of -- the
16 Presidency of Zepa municipality and his associate are under pressure and
17 in a lot of haste. Second of all, on the 9th of July, 1995, the Army of
18 Republika Srpska did not enter the urban area, which points to the
19 following conclusion: In this way, the president of the Presidency of
20 Zepa municipality -- I apologise, Srebrenica municipality, tries to make
21 the situation more dramatic than necessary in order to receive an urgent
22 answer from President Izetbegovic and commander of the Main Staff
23 Rasim Delic.
24 And now I will move on to the gist and the essence of the
25 document. The gist of the document is this: For the military, i.e., the
1 command and the troops of the 28th Division, it is true that it is in a
2 state of chaos. If we were to strictly apply the principles of the
3 military doctrine, one should expect that the enemy are in a state of
4 chaos, because they will not be able to put up any meaningful resistance
5 to our advances.
6 Second of all, when we are talking about the civilian population,
7 it is abundantly clear here that the civilian population and their local
8 bosses intend to move out. And they are pleading with
9 President Alija Izetbegovic and Commander Rasim Delic to strike an urgent
10 deal with the Army of Republika Srpska to open the corridor for the
11 population to move out. There is no doubt about the fact that the
12 population of Srebrenica already on the 9th and even before that - and I
13 will come back to that later - wanted and intended to leave the area, to
14 move out.
15 If we go even further back, to the year 1993, to the time when
16 the Drina Corps carried out a counter-offensive against the 28th Division
17 in order to return the territories that it had previously lost, until the
18 17th of April, 1994, already then the local civilian authorities of
19 Srebrenica called for a similar arrangement to be made. They wanted to
20 move out under three conditions. They were prepared to leave the area
21 under three conditions: The first one being for the wounded to be
22 evacuated by helicopter - if I'm not mistaken; the second condition was
23 for the civilians to be evacuated by other means of transport; and the
24 third condition, when all that was done, was for a corridor to be opened
25 to allow the troops to leave in the direction of Tuzla on foot. You can
1 find this in a report by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. I
2 can't remember in which paragraph, but I'm sure that it exists in his
4 Why did I go back? I want to show to the Trial Chamber that the
5 idea of abandoning Srebrenica existed among the Muslims even before the
6 6th of July, 1995. That idea had pre-existed that date. It had
7 pre-existed the attack on Srebrenica. And this is what I wanted to say
8 about this document.
9 Q. Thank you. In the last three lines of the document that we have
10 in front of us, it says:
11 "... finding a possibility to open a corridor for the population
12 to move out to the nearest free territory of the Republic of Bosnia and
13 Herzegovina under the control of international elements."
14 My question is as follows: Did the Srebrenica civilian
15 authorities request that a corridor be opened from Srebrenica to
16 territory under the control of the ABiH and the government? Thank you.
17 A. Naturally. An explicit request was made to organise a meeting
18 with the VRS and to arrange for the opening of such a corridor without
19 fighting and in agreement with the VRS. The request was to agree on
20 opening a corridor to the nearest stretch of territory under the control
21 of the ABiH, and that area was the Tuzla area. As far as this stretch of
22 territory under international control is concerned, well, this relates to
23 moving the population out via territory under international control.
24 Q. Thank you. Does this mean that they had requested an evacuation
25 of the population from Srebrenica to territory under the control of the
2 A. One could say so, but conditionally, because evacuation has a
3 different meaning when compared to the term "moving out." If you say
4 "moving out," if they are requesting that the population be moved out,
5 that means that they will move out voluntarily. And with the assistance
6 of international elements, the population will move out. If you say
7 "evacuation," it means that someone has to evacuate them. Someone has to
8 go to collect them and transport them to the nearest stretch of territory
9 under the control of the ABiH. And this should have concerned the
10 civilian authorities from Tuzla. They would have had to go and evacuate
11 the population with the necessary means.
12 In this particular case, what we are dealing with is moving out
13 population. And the term "to move out," as far as I understand that
14 expression, means that there is no intention to return. However, in my
15 understanding, the term "evacuation" means that when the conditions are
16 favorable for a return, the population would return to the place they
17 left. That is my understanding of these two different expressions.
18 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic.
19 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Could we please now see
20 Exhibit D174. Thank you. Thank you.
21 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
22 Q. Mr. Skrbic, on the screen we have before us a document from
23 Mr. Akashi, from the UNPROFOR HQ in Zagreb, addressed to Kofi Annan, the
24 Secretary-General of the UN. It's dated the 11th of July, 1995. If we
25 now have a look at item 1, the first three lines of that item, this is
1 what it says:
2 "The purpose of this message is to inform you of plans I am
3 making to deal with the situation in Srebrenica and to provide you with
4 our preferred line for your approaches to the council."
5 And then it says:
6 "I have just concluded a meeting with my senior military and
7 political advisors and with the UNHCR Special Envoy, at which a general
8 consensus was reached on the policy that UNPF, UNPROFOR, and UNHCR will
9 pursue with regard to Srebrenica in the coming one to seven days ..."
10 Could you comment on this introduction in which Mr. Akashi is
11 addressing Mr. Annan? Thank you.
12 A. This means that Mr. Akashi, as the Secretary-General's special
13 envoy, together with his civilian and political advisors drew up a plan
14 stating how the UN should act in co-operation with the UNHCR. He sent
15 the plan to the Secretary-General and waited for the UN Security Council
16 to make its position known. This means that UN forces had a plan for
17 dealing with the Srebrenica problem and, in particular, for dealing with
18 the problem of the civilian population there.
19 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic.
20 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Could we please see page 2 of the
21 document now. Thank you. Thank you.
22 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
23 Q. Mr. Skrbic, I'll read out part of the first paragraph now.
24 "The UNHCR reports that 80 to 90 per cent of the population of
25 Srebrenica (the total population is 40.000) are displaced persons who
1 fled fighting earlier in the war, thus they do not have long-standing
2 ties to homes and property in the enclave and will probably be interested
3 in leaving for Tuzla. A UNHCR local staff member in Srebrenica --" I'll
4 repeat what I said, "a UNHCR local staff member in Srebrenica reported
5 today that virtually everyone in the enclave wishes to leave."
6 Mr. Skrbic, in this document here, does it refer to information
7 on the basis of which Mr. Akashi took the decision he took concerning
8 international organisations in Srebrenica and in Bosnia? Thank you.
9 A. Well, first of all, we can tie this up -- this position can be
10 tied up with the previous document that we had a look at, and this
11 position confirms what I previously said, and that is that the population
12 of Srebrenica had the intention of moving out. Here this intention is
13 expressed as their wish, because it quite unambiguously states that in
14 the United Nations they believe that only some of the population wanted
15 to go to Tuzla, but later they realised that the entire population wanted
16 to leave the area. First it says only displaced persons and then it says
17 everyone. This is not the only document in which this wish is expressed.
18 There are other documents in which the wish is expressed.
19 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. You mentioned the previous document. Are
20 you referring to the document of the 9th that the president of Srebrenica
21 municipality drafted after the meeting that had been held at 1800 hours?
22 Thank you.
23 A. Yes, that's correct.
24 Q. Thank you. Did UNPROFOR command in Srebrenica have such
25 information, and UNPROFOR command in Tuzla, Sarajevo, and Zagreb as
1 well - thank you - since a request had been made from Srebrenica for
2 international forces to act as mediators in opening up a corridor that
3 would allow the population to move out? Thank you.
4 A. If the system of command and control in UNPROFOR was functioning
5 correctly, then it wouldn't be realistic to expect that the UNPROFOR
6 command in Srebrenica was unaware of these activities. That would be
7 quite unbelievable because that command was in Srebrenica with people and
8 that body would be the body that would first be informed about such
9 intentions, and one would expect that body to be the first body to commit
10 itself to finding a solution to that problem.
11 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Let's now have a look at the second
12 paragraph, which is the last one of this page, from page 1 in the Serbian
13 version. And it's the second paragraph under B, the last five lines.
14 The second paragraph under B. It says, and I quote:
15 [As read] "The Dutch will receive instructions to remain in the
16 Srebrenica enclave until an agreement is reached with the government of
17 the Bosnian Serbs and until authorisation is obtained for those people to
18 leave the enclaves. Ideally, a significant number of armed troops from
19 UNPROFOR will remain in the enclave at least until all those who want to
20 leave the enclave actually leave it. This option has to be harmonised
21 with the wish of the Dutch government to evacuate its forces as soon as
22 possible from Srebrenica. UNPROFOR will also try to reach an agreement
23 with the Bosnian Serbs to escort any convoy of refugees from Srebrenica
24 to Tuzla."
25 Mr. Skrbic, bearing in mind what I have just read out, could you
1 please tell me what you think of this? What was UNPROFOR's attitude to
2 this? What was their position? And did Mr. Kofi Annan know what the
3 population thought about moving out, since he's stating what role
4 everyone will play until the population has finally moved out? Thank
6 A. Yes, this is a matter of standard procedure here that is also
7 followed by other armies, although UNPROFOR units are United Nations
8 units, but the chain of command is not significantly different from the
9 chain of command in armies throughout the world. So we can see that the
10 Dutch Battalion will be assigned a task. They will be instructed on how
11 to act to make sure that the civilian population can move out of
13 In addition, the document also says that the Dutch government has
14 been informed. And we can only speculate that the Dutch government is
15 concerned for the security of their forces and they want to establish how
16 to move their forces out of the enclave as soon as possible.
17 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Please now have a look at item C. I'm
18 interested in the first two sentences -- or the first sentence, in fact.
19 It's the next page in the Serbian version, and it's on the same page in
20 the English version, which we have in front of us. It says, under C, and
21 I quote:
22 "While satisfactory arrangements for the departure of refugees
23 are being sought, UNPROFOR will negotiate the departure of Dutch troops
24 from Srebrenica."
25 Thank you. Please, in this document from Mr. Annan -- I
1 apologise, from Mr. Akashi, which was sent on the 11th of July, 1995, in
2 this document is mentioned made of seeking a solution for the refugees?
3 And is mentioned made of the departure of the Dutch Battalion? What is
4 your opinion of this as an expert? Thank you.
5 A. Well, first of all, it is necessary to distinguish two questions,
6 first of all. First of all, there is the question of Mr. Akashi's
7 conduct in relation to his assistance and in relation to the civilians.
8 The second question is the question of what to do with the Dutch
9 Battalion, and here you can see the division of responsibility with
10 regard to those two issues.
11 As for the civilian population and as for the decision on moving
12 the population out, it's the civilian component of UNPROFOR that is
13 responsible for that decision. And the decision -- or, rather, the
14 responsibility for evacuation is the responsibility of UNPROFOR command.
15 The civilians perform their own duties, and the army performs its own
16 duties. This is quite logical.
17 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. In relation to moving out the refugees in
18 the enclave, well, was this the firm position that UNPROFOR had? When we
19 have a look at item C that I have read out, could you say whether
20 UNPROFOR had a firm position with regard to the departure of civilians?
21 Or was this position one that was developed, given the way that events
22 unfolded on the ground? Or is something else at stake? Thank you.
23 A. There is no doubt at all that the civilian population or refugees
24 were going to move out. The only thing that was sought was the way how
25 to do it and the best possible way. When that way was found, there is no
1 doubt that the Dutch Battalion would also be evacuated, because their
2 deployment in Srebrenica would have lost its purpose. My final
3 conclusion is, therefore, that there is a firm position that the civilian
4 population has to move out.
5 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic.
6 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I would like the electronic court
7 to go to the following page in the Serbian as well as in English. I'm
8 interested in bullet point 3. I would like to thank the e-court.
9 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
10 Q. And now I'm going to quote from the document. I'm quoting from
12 "UNHCR will immediately begin negotiations with the Bosnian Serbs
13 for the provision of emergency food and medical supplies for the people
14 in Srebrenica, particularly the wounded, and the approximately
15 25.000 displaced persons who had fled combat; the safe, rapid, and
16 orderly departure from Srebrenica of all those people, including men of
17 military age for Tuzla, beginning with the evacuation of the wounded on
18 an emergency basis."
19 Thank you. Please, looking at this part here, in the document
20 sent by the Akashi, would you say that this part specifies UNHCR
21 obligations? Look at the first sentence, where it says "UNHCR will
22 immediately begin negotiations with the Bosnian Serbs," is this an
23 approval for such conversations? And if somebody receives a document
24 from the UNPROFOR command in Zagreb, would they act in accordance with
25 such a document? Thank you.
1 A. If Mr. Akashi, the special representative of the
2 UN Secretary-General, says that UNPROFOR will immediately start
3 negotiating with the Serbian side, that means one and only thing: This
4 is the beginning of the implementation of the plan to move out the
5 civilian population from Srebrenica. I recognise this as the first task
6 given to one of the interested parties or an interested bodies which also
7 has obligations as a humanitarian organisation.
8 If you get such a task, that means that you start implementing a
9 plan. Not only in this case. This would be the case in combat
10 operations or in any other military operation. This is also the case in
11 civilian structures, in governments, or in any organised civilian
13 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. And now let's look at the second part of
14 the sentence, and I am going to quote from it.
15 "The safe, rapid, and orderly departure from Srebrenica of all
16 those people, including men of military age for Tuzla, beginning with the
17 evacuation of the wounded on an emergency basis."
18 Thank you. My question is this: This is an instruction provided
19 by Mr. Akashi; does it also imply that UNHCR representatives should
20 immediately begin these activities in order to facilitate the departure
21 of everybody, including men of military age for Tuzla? Thank you.
22 A. There is no doubt about that. The only thing I can add to that
23 is this: As you can see in the document, some priorities have been set;
24 the first to be evacuated are the wounded, which is only normal, and the
25 rest will follow.
1 Q. Thank you.
2 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I would like to go to the following
3 page in Serbian. The English page is correct.
4 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
5 Q. This is in both versions in both letters. I will quote:
6 "Our efforts to negotiate with the Bosnian Serbs and to
7 ameliorate the situation on the ground would potentially be greatly
8 facilitated if the council were to make several points on an urgent
9 basis, preferably in the form of a resolution, but alternatively in the
10 form of a presidential statement."
11 And then under (e) it is stated, and I quote:
12 "All those who wish to leave Srebrenica should be allowed to do
13 so under the protection of UNHCR."
14 My question is this: Could you please explain something about
15 this document: Whose was the decision for the population of Srebrenica
16 to move out? Thank you.
17 A. First of all, the decision was not taken as such, but it was in
18 the pipeline and it will be taken. The second thing that I would like to
19 highlight here is the fact that this document clearly shows that in
20 complex situations it is not easy to reach a decision. Even people with
21 the highest diplomatic credibility, such was Mr. Akashi, had a hard time
22 making a decision, which is clearly seen from the first paragraph that
23 you read out.
24 Mr. Akashi needed support in the form of a resolution, or at
25 least a presidential notification from the Security Council. I repeat:
1 It's very difficult to make a decision, and it's always easier for the
2 top executive to make such a decision. And that is true of both the
3 military as well as civilian structures.
4 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic. Would such a top executive make decisions
5 based on the information that he receives from his subordinates? Thank
7 A. Nobody makes decisions without information. The information in
8 question has to be relevant for the decision to be good, for the decision
9 to be implementable, with the least effort, and in the most
10 cost-effective way. Whoever makes a decision has to have information,
11 not only from his subordinates, and in this case it is more pronounced
12 than in normal conditions in the army because the subordinates are far
13 away from the decision-maker. It has the right information that may be
14 provided to the Secretary-General, and if the Secretary-General makes a
15 decision, it will be a good support for Mr. Akashi at the moment when he
16 wants to implement his plan.
17 Q. Thank you, Mr. Skrbic.
18 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I think the time has
19 come for the Court to rise. Thank you.
20 JUDGE FLUEGGE: You are right, Mr. Tolimir. We have to adjourn
21 the for the day, and we will resume tomorrow morning at 9.00 in this
23 And again, this advice: No contact to other party during the
24 break, please.
25 We adjourn.
1 [The witness stands down]
2 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1.47 p.m.,
3 to be reconvened on Wednesday, the 8th day of February,
4 2012, at 9.00 a.m.