1 Friday, 21 September 2001
2 [The accused entered court]
3 [Open session]
4 --- Upon commencing at 9.30 a.m.
5 JUDGE HUNT: Call the case, please.
6 THE REGISTRAR: Case number IT-98-32-T, the Prosecutor versus
7 Mitar Vasiljevic.
8 JUDGE HUNT: Mr. Groome, there was a filing on the 18th, I think I
9 only got it on Wednesday, but it's a report addressed to Dr. de Grave,
10 from somebody who specializes in medical imaging. In other words an x-ray
11 specialist. Is that another expert's report that we should be worried
12 about time limits and things?
13 MR. GROOME: No, Your Honour. That was submitted along with the
14 original report. It was submitted in German and that I think is simply
15 a translation of what was originally submitted.
16 JUDGE HUNT: Thank you very much indeed. My German is not very
18 Now, the witness for today?
19 MR. GROOME: Is Mr. Mirsad Tokaca.
20 JUDGE HUNT: And he does not have any protective measures?
21 MR. GROOME: No, Your Honour. Before I call him, I would just
22 like to go back to an issue that the court raised regarding the 92 bis
23 statements and I have a possible solution or suggestion for the Court. In
24 addition to tendering for evidence the actual statement, that we also
25 submit a copy of the statement with those portions that the Prosecution
1 believes are relevant to this case indicated for the Court. The Court
2 would be free to read the entire statement, but we would indicate those
3 which are germane to this case.
4 JUDGE HUNT: Yes. It's just a problem that we always have with
5 Prosecution statements taken under the circumstances they are, which is an
6 understandable situation but nevertheless, it produces an immense amount
7 of irrelevant material if you tender the statement. However, if that's
8 the way the 92 bis statements have been taken, that would be a great help.
9 MR. GROOME: Thank you, Your Honour. The Prosecution at this time
10 would call Mr. Mirsad Tokaca.
11 [The witness entered court]
12 JUDGE HUNT: Would you please make the solemn declaration in the
13 document which the court usher is handing you?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
15 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
16 WITNESS: MIRSAD TOKACA
17 [Witness answered through interpreter]
18 JUDGE HUNT: Sit down, please, sir.
19 Mr. Groome?
20 Examined by Mr. Groome.
21 MR. GROOME:
22 Q. Good morning, Mr. Tokaca.
23 A. Morning.
24 Q. I would ask you to begin your testimony here today by describing
25 for the Court your educational background.
1 A. The diploma that I possess is the diploma of the political science
2 faculty in Sarajevo which is where I graduated from. During my working
3 life, I also studied the legal sciences and economics. At the beginning
4 of my career, I began as a journalist working for Television
5 Bosnia-Herzegovina. After that, I changed my job, and began working in
6 the trade unions of Bosnia-Herzegovina as an analyst in the sphere of
7 social policy and social welfare. And with the start of the economic
8 reforms in communist Yugoslavia, I joined a small group of people and set
9 up a company which started dealing with financial management, marketing,
10 and traffic in general, and trade.
11 With the outbreak of the war, I was given an assignment to lead a
12 commission for the gathering of facts on war crimes, and for us in
13 Bosnia-Herzegovina, this was a completely novel experience because nobody
14 had dealt in matters of that kind previously, which meant that I had to
15 study some more, I had to examine a whole complex of questions related to
16 human rights, international humanitarian law and so on, and for the past
17 ten years, to all practical purposes, that is the area that I've been
18 dealing with. I have been devoting my work to war crimes and the
19 violation of international humanitarian laws and I think that this is very
20 important for me professionally and generally. I have intensively
21 cooperated with a series of institutions at the international community,
22 principally the United Nations for which I devised some studies which were
23 linked to the problem of missing persons between 1995 and 1996. That was
24 for the purposes of the UN Human Rights Commission and its subcommittee as
1 JUDGE HUNT: I was about to interrupt. You are being translated
2 into English and French and with a very long answer like that, it's very
3 hard for the interpreters to keep up with you. So if you could pace your
4 speech just a little bit more to give them an opportunity to keep up.
5 THE WITNESS: Yes, I can.
6 MR. GROOME:
7 Q. Before we talk about the commission, just a few points on your
8 educational background. Have you done post graduate work?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. In what subject?
11 A. Yes, I have. I completed my post graduate studies in the field of
12 international relations and at the moment, in view of the duties I have
13 vis-a-vis the commission, I am preparing a thesis which will be based and
14 relate to the role of the international community in the solving of
15 conflicts and the prevention of conflicts in ex-Yugoslavia with particular
16 reference to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
17 Q. Now, I want to draw your attention to the state commission for
18 gathering facts on war crimes in the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Are
19 you familiar with that organisation?
20 A. Yes. I am. Since the very -- since its very inception I worked
21 on its organisation, the establishment of methodology of work for the
22 commission, the gathering of facts and photography and analysis of the
23 facts gathered, and the establishment of cooperation with the
24 international Tribunal. And before that, the committee of experts which
25 was set up attached to the United Nations, it was a commission that we --
1 Mr. Culhoffer [As interpreted] and later Mr. Balthaffen's [As interpreted]
2 commission who were the Presidents of those commissions. So for the past
3 ten years, I have been working in that area.
4 Q. Mr. Tokaca, when was this commission founded?
5 A. The commission was founded on the 28th. The commission was
6 founded, as I was saying, on the 28th of April by decree of the presidency
7 of Bosnia-Herzegovina as an autonomous, independent and unbiased body
8 which was composed of individuals who were not politicians and politically
9 involved in any of the political parties, and I'm speaking about
10 professional people working in the commission. So these were members who
11 were experts in individual areas which the commission delved in.
12 Q. Was this in 1992 when the commission was founded?
13 A. Yes, it was.
14 Q. And did the commission -- was it comprised of peoples of all
15 ethnicity living in Bosnia-Herzegovina?
16 A. Yes, yes. The commission was composed of all the peoples living
17 on the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina at the time. And this was its
18 basic option and orientation, which has prevailed until the present day.
19 Q. Could I ask you to describe in a sentence or two for the Chamber
20 the purpose of the commission, the primary purpose?
21 A. The primary purpose of the commission was to gather facts on war
22 crimes committed against the civilian population throughout the territory
23 of Bosnia-Herzegovina regardless of their ethnicity or religious, social
24 or any other affiliation or background. That means that it meant the
25 gathering of facts about people who were the victims of war crimes, in
1 keeping and pursuant to the Geneva Conventions.
2 Q. And when you say gathering facts, did this include the gathering
3 of witness testimony regarding observations of crimes?
4 A. This meant, in addition to the gathering of witness testimony,
5 who -- and the direct witness -- victims, I'm sorry, victims of crimes, we
6 gathered facts from people who were eye witnesses to the crimes committed,
7 or in some indirect way, came by some information or knowledge which could
8 indicate the causes of the crimes committed and their perpetrators, the
9 victims and the perpetrators.
10 On the other hand, we gathered other forms of information and
11 exhibits, such as photo documents and evidence on the destruction of
12 cultural heritage, about killings and murders, next we had video
13 documents, video documentation, which also helped us to complement the
14 witness testimonies themselves. And other material evidence which could
15 contribute to the completion of our investigations of individual cases.
16 Q. Mr. Tokaca, how would you obtain photographic evidence regarding
17 crimes that were committed?
18 A. Part of the -- we had a separate photographic and video studio.
19 We had a team of men dealing in this particular area exclusively, our own
20 team of men. Of course, within the means we had at our disposal because,
21 as you know, we worked in very difficult conditions when Sarajevo was
22 under siege, and part of the documents we amassed while we were gathering
23 other documents and testimony from other people who were able to -- who
24 took photographs or videos of what was going on. So our methodological
25 approach was the following: We opened the commission up to all
1 institutions and individuals, able to provide us with the evidence we
2 needed, able to contribute to ensure certain evidence, pieces of evidence,
3 which would clarify and throw light on individual cases that had taken
4 place, and which the commission was engaged on. Or for which we assumed
5 could help us in the process of gathering information from perhaps another
6 angle of vision. Similarly, we used other sources, the -- such as the
7 media, who were in a position to spend time on terrains which were
8 inaccessible to us ourselves.
9 Q. Are some of the videos that were gathered by the state commission,
10 did they include excerpts from news media during the course of the
11 conflict? And did it -- does it include such examples from state run
12 media, both in Bosnia as well as other parts of the former Yugoslavia?
13 A. Yes. All the excerpts we were able to come by were collected and
14 stored in our archives so that when the time was right, we could provide
15 the court organs with what they needed in the trials they were engaged on
16 because actually our particular role was just to gather facts and
17 evidence, to store it, and when anybody came to need it, and we thought
18 that our national courts would be those who would require them, later on
19 it became your tribunals, so to put all these facts and evidence at the
20 disposal of all those taking part in the raising of indictments and
21 proving that crimes had taken place.
22 Q. During the spring of 1992, were the institutions or government
23 institutions that would ordinarily collect evidence regarding crimes
24 functioning at that time?
25 A. Many of those institutions were not functioning at that time
1 unfortunately. The infrastructure, the state infrastructure in fact was
2 largely destroyed, so that some of the customary things a that police
3 structures would be engaged on or the secret services or the judiciary
4 quite simply were not able to perform those regular functions of theirs.
5 In the extent that was necessary in view of the situation that
6 Bosnia-Herzegovina found itself in at that particular time. So that the
7 commission especially in its first months, in May, June, July and August,
8 in the first months of its existence, in practical terms was one of the
9 most important institutions collecting and gathering facts and data.
10 Q. I'm going to ask that you view a videotape at this time.
11 MR. GROOME: Your Honours, would I ask that we go into private
12 session. Depicted on this videotape is a protected witness, Mr. VG116, so
13 I would ask that we go into private session to show this video.
14 JUDGE HUNT: Very well. Private session, please.
15 [Private session]
8 [Open session]
9 JUDGE HUNT: We will adjourn and we will come back when they have
10 sorted out their problems.
11 --- Break taken at 9.47 a.m.
1 --- On resuming at 2.00 p.m.
2 JUDGE HUNT: We can now take up when we were so unfortunately
3 interrupted before. Don't get too used to the comfort of this courtroom.
4 We will be returning to the shoebox next week.
5 Yes, Mr. Groome.
6 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, before we had the problem, we were in
7 private session, so I'd ask that we could go back into private session.
8 JUDGE HUNT: That's only if you're going to show video. Is it
9 necessary? I don't want to jinx this courtroom, too.
10 MR. GROOME: I discussed that with the technician, and he assures
11 me we will not blow any equipment up playing the video.
12 JUDGE HUNT: Very well, then. We will go into private session for
13 the purposes of playing the video.
14 [Private session]
21 [Open session]
22 MR. GROOME:
23 Q. Mr. Tokaca, the videotape that we've just observed, do you
24 recognise it?
25 A. Yes, I do. That is the video that we had in our archives. The
1 origin of this videotape, that is the major -- the first part of it was
2 the TV Belgrade, the Belgrade TV. And since we were recording everything
3 that we were able to record from various TV stations, hoping that we would
4 be able to obtain some kind of relevant data, we also obtained this one.
5 And you saw the names of the people who did this videotape. Except the
6 last portion of the videotape was recorded by Sarajevo TV, that is the TV
7 station of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but that videotape belongs to our
9 Q. Can you remind us or tell us what part of the video it switches
10 from Belgrade TV to Bosnian TV?
11 A. The last 20 seconds of the footage. The first part depicts the
12 entry of the Visegrad Corps forces into the town. Some footage taken from
13 the air, that was all shot by Belgrade TV, except for the very last
14 portions, 15 to 20 seconds of the video footage, whose origin is Sarajevo
16 Q. And on the video, is there a symbol contained on the screen which
17 indicates what TV station recorded the footage?
18 A. Yes. You can see it in the upper right corner, a round circle
19 with "RTV" letters in it, and you can see that the names of the authors of
20 the footage were written in Cyrillic alphabet in the lower portion of the
21 video. Also, the last portion of the video has a Latin inscription on it,
22 again in the upper right corner.
23 Q. And the RTV symbol would indicate that that portion came from
24 Belgrade TV; is that correct?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. And as you looked at this video here today, is it in substantially
2 the same condition as it was when it was part of your archive?
3 A. Yes. More or less it is in the same condition, but you see, we
4 did not have adequate forms and some of the initial quality has been lost
5 in the meantime, but it was not very good quality at the beginning, so I
6 think that it has more or less stayed the same.
7 Q. Has the image been altered or edited in any way?
8 A. No. It is in the same condition, in the same form as it was when
9 we recorded it, and handed it over to the Tribunal.
10 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, at this time, the Prosecution would
11 tender into evidence under seal Prosecution video number 142.1.
12 JUDGE HUNT: Can you assist us with what the relevance of it is in
13 this case?
14 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, it shows the --
15 JUDGE HUNT: It does repeat something which we've already got in
17 MR. GROOME: That isn't in evidence, Your Honour. The witness
18 referred to it, but it wasn't in evidence.
19 JUDGE HUNT: The very last part of it shows exactly the piece you
20 showed us once before and from which we've got a still photograph.
21 MR. GROOME: That wasn't entered into evidence.
22 JUDGE HUNT: Whether it was or not, we've got that into evidence
23 one way or the other. What is the relevance of this tape? You spent so
24 much time on it. I'm just at a loss.
25 MR. GROOME: Two things, Your Honour. It shows the town at the
1 time periods relevant to this case; and secondly, it was my understanding
2 that in order to introduce this item, to establish some foundation for it,
3 in my own view, it wasn't sufficient foundation established with Witness
4 number 116 to introduce the tape at that time.
5 JUDGE HUNT: If it shows merely the state of the town at the time
6 the war started, I'm sorry, it doesn't assist me in the slightest in
7 proving anything you've got to prove here. Can we get on to something
8 which this man can give which is relevant to the trial? Please.
9 Any way, is there any objection to it, Mr. Domazet?
10 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation] Your Honour, it seems to me that
11 this video footage is not only composed of two different parts, it is from
12 TV Sarajevo at the end, but that there are at least two different features
13 in the first half of the video footage, so I'm afraid that this was
14 recorded by different cameramen and it is simply impossible that this was
15 recorded on the same day by the same TV, so it doesn't actually record the
16 same -- the same subject, so I have -- I must simply express my doubts as
17 to the credibility of this exhibit. But I leave it up to Your Honours as
18 regards the admission of this video footage into evidence.
19 JUDGE HUNT: But the credibility depends upon its relevance. What
20 are you tendering it to prove?
21 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, first of all, it corroborates the
22 testimony of Witness 116, who testified that moments after this video was
23 shot, he was driven or he was -- in the process of this video being shot,
24 he was picked up by JNA soldiers.
25 JUDGE HUNT: It doesn't corroborate that at all. And in so far as
1 it assists in any way to assist -- to deal with that witness's evidence,
2 we've got the shot already in evidence. Now, what does it prove? If
3 there is a challenge to its credibility, that depends upon what it
4 proves. So far as I can see -- I see no particular problem with the fact
5 that it comes from two different sources, if it's not challenged as being
6 footage of something that happened at that particular time. But what does
7 it prove?
8 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, it's showing --
9 JUDGE HUNT: No, no. What does it prove? Come on. What's the
10 issue it proves?
11 MR. GROOME: It's videotape evidence of the event that there has
12 been testimony about in this very trial.
13 JUDGE HUNT: The quality of them is such that it made no
14 impression upon me whatsoever. There has been no challenge to the fact
15 that the Visegrad army came into the town -- the Visegrad unit came into
16 the town of Visegrad, no challenge of that at all. So it doesn't assist
17 us on that. How else does did assist us?
18 MR. GROOME: Obviously, the Court is free to dismiss -- find this
19 has absolutely no weight whatsoever. The Prosecution is submitting it,
20 Your Honour, for the following reason: Witness number 116 gave testimony
21 regarding being picked up by the JNA and in the course of being driven
22 into town meeting somebody who told him about seeing paramilitaries,
23 hearing insults by paramilitaries, and then speaking to a friend of his
24 who had paramilitaries take him in a truck. This video is a portion of
25 what occurred to that person, and for that reason it's relevant, not only
1 to corroborate what that man says, but it gives the Court a very good
2 picture of what happened for part of his testimony, what he's testified
4 JUDGE HUNT: It shows him on the truck as it's driven past. Now,
5 that's all. It does nothing to corroborate what he says happened
6 afterwards, nothing at all.
7 MR. GROOME: It shows him in the truck in the custody of the JNA
8 soldiers, Your Honour.
9 JUDGE HUNT: Yes. We have already got that in evidence.
10 MR. GROOME: Then I stand corrected, Your Honour. It was my
11 impression that he was not the custodian of this video. He didn't even
12 know this video existed.
13 JUDGE HUNT: Stop, please stop. You go off into all of this
14 business about trying to establish the basis for getting it into
15 evidence. The first criterion is relevance. Now, what does it prove?
16 Nothing. Let's get on with this case. It reminds me of having to sit
17 through whilst counsel entertained a jury by showing them photographs
18 every five minutes to keep them awake. We are not really in the same
19 situation. Let us stick to what is relevant. I see no probative value.
20 If there is a challenge to its credibility, where does it get us?
21 MR. GROOME: Challenge to whose credibility, 116?
22 JUDGE HUNT: No, to the credibility of the tape. That's what
23 Mr. Domazet has said. He said he has doubts about the credibility of the
24 tape. Now, where does it prove anything in this case.
25 MR. GROOME: I've stated what I believe it proves, Your Honour.
1 You're free to disagree.
2 JUDGE HUNT: I see no relevance of it at all and it doesn't assist
4 MR. GROOME: Is the motion to admit this tape or tender this tape
5 denied, then?
6 JUDGE HUNT: There has been no motion. We don't have motions when
7 you tender something. But if there is a challenge to it, and we see no
8 relevance to it, then it is rejected.
9 MR. GROOME: Okay, Your Honour. I'll move on.
10 Q. Mr. Tokaca, in the investigations and the evidence that you've
11 collected in the course of your work, has that covered the entire area of
12 Bosnia and Herzegovina?
13 A. Yes, yes, it has. The commission dealt with the work of all the
14 victims who suffered throughout the entire territory of Bosnia and
15 Herzegovina since the very beginning of the war until its end.
16 Q. And did it investigate or collect evidence on all crimes despite
17 who was -- the ethnicity of the victim?
18 A. Absolutely, yes. We were focused on civilian victims, victims of
19 military operations, without any attention being paid to any religious or
20 ethnic criteria. That was not a concern at all.
21 Q. And have you also been responsible for analysing much of the
22 evidence that has been collected in the course of your work with the
24 A. Most of the time I was responsible for that, yes, because I
25 established a specific methodology of analysing all the relevant data,
1 including statements taken from persons whom we considered to be relevant
2 for certain testimony and other types of material such as video and audio
3 tapes that we managed to gather throughout our work.
4 Q. In the course of your work with the commission, have you come
5 across cases and examples where lies have been told by perpetrators of
6 crimes to the victims of crimes to facilitate the commission of crimes?
7 A. We have analysed a great number of events, and we managed to
8 conclude that the people had been trapped, so to speak, which was the
9 result of a number of lies and mismanagement. We are focused now with the
10 Visegrad case, but I can also give you some additional information. I
11 would like to point out that after the capture of Visegrad by the Uzice
12 Corps troops and the JNA troops, that is during the attack itself, a large
13 number of residents left the town and they took shelter in the surrounding
14 villages. However, the major part of the population went to Gorazde and
15 they spent a couple of days there in the period of 13th or 14th of April
16 up until 18th of April. They were called by the JNA to go back to their
17 homes, and the JNA guaranteed the full security, full safety, on the
18 return, on the way back to their homes, and a normal continuation of their
19 lives there. However, at that time, crimes were being committed in the
20 territory of the Visegrad municipality, including a number of cases of
21 murder and disappearances of citizens. We also established one case of
22 false evacuation of Visegrad residents. People had been rounded up and
23 they were asked whether they wanted to go. There were about six buses or
24 so, and they all expressed the wish to go to Skopje in Macedonia.
25 However, the entire column of buses actually went into -- in the direction
1 of Sokolac, and they were stopped there, and a group of men, some 60 or
2 so, of them, according to the testimony of witnesses, between 60 and 62
3 men were taken into unknown direction and have never been heard of since.
4 Q. Are there other examples that you're aware of from Visegrad?
5 A. Visegrad is not an isolated example. There have been such cases
6 of false evacuations in other places as well. People were rounded up for
7 the purposes of evacuation, and they ended up in detention. We had the
8 same situation in Zvornik, for example, where people were being publicly
9 called back to their homes, and they were given assurances by the JNA that
10 they would have a full security provided that they returned their weapons,
11 either personal or other weapons that they had at that time. And
12 afterwards, there were killings.
13 I think that you are familiar with the statement made by
14 General Kukanjac in mid-April 1992 in Sarajevo when he said and I quote,
15 "The army would not harm anyone." And it was after that period of time
16 that Sarajevo was exposed to severe shelling and bombardment, and the
17 civilians were not able to go out after he made that statement.
18 Then we have an example from the Kljuc municipality, where people
19 were called up together near the school building, and they were told that
20 they would be given passes or certificates which would enable them free
21 movement in the territory of the municipality, but a great number of that
22 group of people simply disappeared.
23 Those were just a few examples that I can recall right now.
24 Q. Are you aware of cases where victims of crimes were falsely told
25 to come to the police station to make statements and then crimes were
1 perpetrated against them?
2 A. Practically speaking, the same pattern took place throughout the
3 territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in those areas which were under the
4 control of the JNA at that time. Prijedor is a very interesting case in
5 point. People were falsely told to make statements or to be interrogated,
6 after which they were either murdered or disappeared.
7 Let me go back to Visegrad, because I just remembered another
8 example when between 25th and 27th of July, 1992, an announcement was
9 made, broadcast by Radio Visegrad to the residents of the town, to the
10 effect that they should be back to work by the 27th of July so that they
11 would not be dismissed. The Varda factory is an example of that.
12 JUDGE HUNT: Remember what I said to you this morning, sir? Just
13 take it a little bit more slowly. You are really stretching the
14 interpreters very hard.
15 A. [In English] Excuse me.
16 JUDGE HUNT: Just a little bit more slowly, please.
17 A. [Interpretation] I apologise. So I mentioned -- the last case
18 that I mentioned was the one that happened in Visegrad. It was a public
19 announcement which was broadcast by the Visegrad Radio to the fact that
20 people must report back to work, supposedly because of the work obligation
21 that they had at the time, and many people who came back to work were
22 actually captured and taken very often to some unknown direction.
23 This is all the result of our analysis of circumstances under
24 which people disappeared throughout this period of time, which encompassed
25 several months or so. All those disappearances or murders took place in
1 an area which was completely -- which did not, during that period of time,
2 suffer any military operations. And the army had a full control over the
3 area in question, such as Visegrad, but the similar situation was in
4 Zvornik, Bratunac, Prijedor, or Sanski Most. The army had a complete
5 control over certain areas, certain points, after which this process of
6 disappearances and murders took place.
7 MR. GROOME:
8 Q. And would it be fair to say that the municipalities that you've
9 just mentioned, Zvornik, Bratunac, Prijedor, and Sanski Most, that what
10 you're describing also occurred at approximately the same time that these
11 events that you've described occurring in Visegrad occurred?
12 A. At more or less the same period of time, yes. The majority of
13 those cases took place sometime in April, and in June, July there would be
14 a peak of this type of activity and then a decline in the month of
16 I have done some research of that on the basis of three different
17 sources, on the basis of Red Cross, International Red Cross records, on
18 the basis of the commission for location of disappeared -- of missing
19 persons, and also we had some evidence of our own. We didn't make any
20 records of missing persons, but we talked to the people, to the witnesses
21 who were able to give us some statements as to the circumstances of
22 disappearances of the population.
23 Q. Thank you, Mr. Tokaca.
24 MR. GROOME: I have no further questions, Your Honour.
25 JUDGE HUNT: Mr. Domazet.
1 Cross-examined by Mr. Domazet:
2 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Tokaca, when you spoke about the formation of
3 the commission that you yourself worked in, you explained to us the
4 criteria for admission into the commission for the members. Now, I'm
5 interested in knowing the number of members the commission had. Did you
6 have a set number of members? How many men did the commission number?
7 A. The commission was divided into two parts, its professional
8 section and the volunteer section. The volunteer section was made out of
9 three members. The professional section had me at the head and was made
10 up of a series of experts of different profiles, and that number varied.
11 Sometimes it was between 20, 30, or 50 members, and then the number would
12 change again. But it was never a constant number of people, these experts
13 and professional men who were engaged, because according to the rules of
14 procedure, we had the right to engage and involve all individuals whom we
15 believed could contribute through their professionalism and professional
16 knowledge, who could contribute to the work of the commission.
17 Q. Yes. But, Mr. Tokaca, you speak of experts who helped in the
18 commission's work.
19 A. I said that the commission had two parts, the voluntary part made
20 up of volunteers, and the professional part lead by Stejpan Kljujic; Miro
21 Lazovic, who was a member of parliament at the time; and Mr. Jahic who was
22 a Minister in the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina. So it was
23 composed of the old Bosnian principle of three ethnic affiliations. And
24 in the professional section, too, this was recognised as far as possible
25 and applied.
1 Q. Do you mean, Mr. Tokaca, that there was proportionate
2 representation and that Serbs from Bosnia were also members of that
3 commission? Is that what you mean?
4 A. Yes, of course. That's quite obvious.
5 Q. Can you then tell me who were these members?
6 A. I said Mr. Miro Lazovic. I'm talking about the professional
7 section of the commission. There are many names. Let me just recall a
8 few of them. Jelena Grbic, Mr. Pajic, a well known expert, professor of
9 the Faculty of Law. But I don't think that's irrelevant. The number
10 isn't irrelevant. We never counted ourselves and saw to see who belonged
11 to which ethnic group. What we did was to get our job done. So I don't
12 think numbers and figures are important, basically. Of course to some
13 people, this might appear to be significant.
14 Q. Mr. Tokaca, when you said that you gathered information from the
15 whole territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina, as part of a large portion of that
16 territory was not under Sarajevo control or the control of your
17 commission, that is to say, a lot of the terrain was not accessible to
18 you; is that right?
19 A. No. None of the territory was under the commission's control,
20 because the largest portion of Bosnia-Herzegovina had been occupied by the
21 JNA. We collected information and data and facts from all types of
22 sources, facts relating to the entire territory, regardless of whether we
23 were -- it was physically accessible to us or not. So we would be
24 replaced by the victims from a given area and the facts and figures from a
25 given area. Of course, in conditions of that kind, it was very difficult
1 to be physically on the spot in the various localities of
2 Bosnia-Herzegovina. That was practically impossible. But wherever
3 possible, as a team of experts, we tried to reach those parts which
4 required additional effort and a lot of associates on the terrain, but the
5 general principle was our openness towards victims, to see who the victims
6 were, and we always tried to do that.
7 Of course, we had no pretensions of being able to cover all four
8 corners of Bosnia-Herzegovina. That wasn't our role either, because other
9 institutions were set up later on to continue investigation of this kind.
10 And in 1992 and 1993, the UN expert commission was set up, which on the
11 basis of our facts and figures was able to go out in the field. And the
12 Tribunal was set up in 1994, so this facilitated our work in the
14 Q. Mr. Tokaca, I am neither a defender or accused of the JNA, but
15 there seems to be something not quite logical. Your assertion was that
16 the JNA had occupied most of Bosnia-Herzegovina. When the JNA was
17 actually on the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina, as far as I know, it was
18 the sole legal armed force of the former Yugoslavia. Am I right in saying
20 A. Bosnia-Herzegovina became an independent state on the 6th of
21 April, and the troops of the JNA were present in -- on the territory of
22 Bosnia-Herzegovina until the end of the war, troops from Yugoslavia.
23 Q. Let me ask a more specific question at this point. Did the JNA
24 withdraw from Bosnia-Herzegovina on the 19th of May, 1992?
25 A. I really can't give you an answer to that question because I don't
1 know that they withdrew.
2 Q. Mr. Tokaca, when you say you don't know that they withdrew, do you
3 mean that you don't know that they withdrew on the 19th of May or June or
4 July or the following year, that you don't know that they ever withdrew?
5 A. I don't think they ever withdrew from Bosnia-Herzegovina, neither
6 the officers nor the military materiel of Yugoslavia.
7 Q. Well, it's easier -- that makes it easier for me to understand
8 something else you were saying, and that is the number of people missing
9 and the killings during the time the JNA was in Visegrad because I'm just
10 interested in Visegrad in this particular case. You said that during the
11 time the JNA was located on the territory, a large number of people
12 disappeared and that a large number of killings took place. Is that
13 right? Is that what you said?
14 A. Yes, yes, that's right. There are lists of persons. Everything
15 that I talk about here is not based on approximations. I am talking about
16 names and surnames, the names of people who, from the second day of
17 Bajram, Ramadan, on the 6th or 7th of April onwards, who were killed from
18 the 6th or 7th of April onwards, under conditions that were not clear, or
19 who had disappeared from Visegrad.
20 Q. Do you have a list like that?
21 A. I have a list in the data base of the commission. All the names
22 of the people are there. You can use them. They are completely open to
23 researchers and the Tribunal, so that at any time you can -- they are
24 accessible to you.
25 Q. In view of the fact that you prepared for testifying before the
1 Tribunal, you must have looked at them. Do you happen to remember that
2 the first victim was a Serb from Visegrad named Indzic, in fact?
3 A. I said at the beginning we did not distinguish between the victims
4 on the basis of ethnicity, so I don't know who the first victim was or
5 when they fell victim, but I know that there were a lot of victims, and if
6 somebody would like to look at the ethnic structure or religious structure
7 of the victims, that is a very simple matter. There is no problem there.
8 Q. I think that you are probably aware of the fact and you said
9 yourself that the International Red Cross had its own list, a very precise
10 list, of people who had disappeared in the different periods of time, and
11 unless I'm mistaken - I don't think I'm mistaken - they have the ethnicity
12 of those people as well. Are you aware of that?
13 A. I am aware of that, and I used the lists belonging to the
14 International Red Cross very intensively. They are whole books, volumes,
15 because there were more than 20.000 persons missing on -- in
16 Bosnia-Herzegovina. But you won't find the ethnicity of them. All you'll
17 find is their first name, last name, date of birth, date of disappearance,
18 father's name, and the basic number, but not the ethnicity of those
19 people. You won't find that anywhere.
20 Q. Mr. Tokaca, what I said, I said on the basis of the facts that
21 were presented at this trial by an expert witness who explained this to us
22 a few days ago and showed us those facts and figures, but I allow for the
23 fact that you might have a different opinion and different knowledge. But
24 this tabular approach and tabular overview of the people who had
25 disappeared from Visegrad, which was shown by the International Red Cross
1 does indeed show that it was negligible if we look at the later months,
2 and I'm speaking about the period when the JNA was in Visegrad, from -- up
3 until the 19th of May 1992, because that date, the 19th of May 1992, was
4 the date that I take to be the date when the JNA left the area.
5 A. Well, whether it was 11 or the percentage - I'm not quite sure - I
6 said that people were -- did disappear and that their names are registered
7 for as long as the army was still in the area, as you yourself said. So I
8 don't think the number is important. What I can tell you and Your Honours
9 at this point is that the figures and information I use are authentic,
10 publicly published data by the International Red Cross and in our
11 documents. What you say that ethnicity exists and is recorded, I can say
12 it isn't. I don't know what witnesses said before me. All I can say is
13 the sources that I use, when I say "I," I mean I and the fellow members of
14 my team, my associates.
15 Q. Possibly, Mr. Tokaca, you have a different method of work in your
16 commission but we were talking about the International Red Cross and their
17 lists, and that's what I was talking about, and I am sure that they don't
18 have -- you don't have two completely different lists of missing persons.
19 But I'm not going to insist upon that because you're entitled to your
21 When you were talking about Visegrad, you said, if I understood
22 you correctly, that after Visegrad had been taken over by the JNA, there
23 was a massive exodus of the population, largely to Gorazde. Did I
24 understand you to say that?
25 A. Yes. Most of the population moved in the direction of Gorazde,
1 towards Montenegro, trying to break through to Macedonia, took to the
2 woods, the forest, towards Olovo, and they were dispersed, but the largest
3 group was in Gorazde, yes.
4 Q. I see. Thank you. But if I understood you correctly, this was
5 because of the arrival of the JNA units in Visegrad. Is that so? Or was
6 there some other reason for this exodus?
7 A. No, there was no other reason. The invasion of troops took place
8 on the second day of Bajram, and the operations were completed in five or
9 six days. After that, all the key strategic points and surrounding
10 villages were taken control of. The army entered Visegrad, and they had
11 already left Visegrad, the people. After that, the army issued a public
12 announcement by the media --
13 Q. Thank you. We will go into that later on. I'll ask you about
14 that later on. But what I want to ask you now, Mr. Tokaca, is this: Did
15 not the population, both the Muslim and the Serb population who had lived
16 in Visegrad, leave Visegrad because of the threat that Murat Sabanovic
17 would release the waters of the dam and that the whole area would be
18 flooded? Was that not the reason why the population of Visegrad, before
19 the JNA units arrived, left Visegrad, and many of them sought refuge in
20 Uzamnica, in fact in the JNA barracks there, which we have heard testimony
21 about from various witnesses here? Are you aware of that?
22 A. Well, I'm aware of the incident with Murat Sabanovic. I think it
23 was a desperate act by a desperado who was not able to prevent this exodus
24 of the population from Visegrad. He wasn't able to do anything
25 effectively to prevent their leaving.
1 Q. So you think that the threat of releasing the dam -- the river
2 from the -- the water from the dam didn't affect the population and its
4 A. I said that that wasn't the key reason because people had already
5 begun to flee from Visegrad.
6 Q. Well, let us leave aside your assessment of what was happening
7 during the JNA's time there. I too am well aware of the fact that there
8 were various crimes committed, but most of the people, and the victims as
9 well, say that during the time the Uzice Corps was there, up until the
10 19th of May, it did not take place, or merely sporadically. People
11 usually quote dates after the 19th of May when the events took the -- when
12 the developments were the kind that you have described, but I don't want
13 to argue with you there. You probably have different information that has
14 not been presented here.
15 But I do have one final question, and that is the following: As
16 your commission began working in 1992, as early as 1992, and is probably
17 still working today, or worked until quite recently, for that entire
18 period, did you cooperate at all with kindred commissions either in the
19 Republika Srpska or in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia? Did you
20 cooperate with similar institutions?
21 A. Cooperation with commissions did exist. That is to say this was a
22 commission set up by the state of Bosnia-Herzegovina, so everything which
23 up until 1995 existed on the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina were
24 parastate institutions, so there could not have been any kind of
25 cooperation. We had no partners to cooperate with, because this was a
1 state commission, the commission of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
2 After that, however, contacts with everybody dealing in problems of this
3 kind in any way were intensified. And let me quote an example. I have
4 just come from Sarajevo, and on the 10th and 11th, there was a large-scale
5 international conference, the second in order, devoted to children as the
6 victims of war, and in the post-war destruction. That conference was
7 attended by people from Bijelina, Banja Luka, Trebinje, official
8 institutions from Bosnia-Herzegovina, the different structures. So as far
9 as cooperation goes, it will always be an open form of cooperation, in the
10 interests of the victims, just like this august institution is doing
11 here. I don't think our work is done. I think there is great scope for
12 work along those lines in future. So when you ask me about cooperation,
13 it exists now. During the war, in -- between 1992 and 1995, cooperation
14 could not have existed, but we did cooperate with non-governmental
15 organisations from Yugoslavia, for example, those that we could count on,
16 from Croatia as well. We had contacts with a series of non-governmental
17 organisations such as Helsinki Watch, Amnesty International, structures of
18 the UN, that is to say anybody and everybody who could in any way
19 whatsoever assist us and throw more light on the cases and instances of
20 war crimes against the civilian population.
21 Q. Yes. Thank you. I understand the degree of cooperation with the
22 non-governmental organisations, but what I was interested in was
23 cooperation with a similar commission that existed in Belgrade. I'm sure
24 you know that a commission of that kind does exist in Belgrade and that it
25 is operational and functioning today. Did you have cooperation with it
1 then or today?
2 A. At that time, no, we didn't. Our attempt to establish contacts
3 with that commission was fruitless, unfortunately. But I was in Belgrade
4 recently. I tried once again. I was with representatives of the
5 Tribunal, and we had a meeting where we spoke to officials and those from
6 non-governmental organisations about cooperation with the Tribunal, and on
7 that occasion I personally tried to establish contacts with people there.
8 So I went to Belgrade on purpose to establish that kind of cooperation. I
9 have still not received an answer. Our commission is always open to
10 cooperation and it is very -- cooperation was very welcome from whichever
11 side it comes.
12 Q. Thank you. This brings me to my last question. Do you happen to
13 know, from your present contacts, that that particular commission, the
14 Belgrade commission, undertook its own research of what happened in
15 Visegrad and that they have written a report? Did you have occasion to
16 see that report?
17 A. No. I didn't have occasion to see that report. I would be happy
18 to see it.
19 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. Tokaca. I have no
20 further questions for you.
21 JUDGE HUNT: Mr. Groome.
22 MR. GROOME: No additional questions from the Prosecution.
23 JUDGE HUNT: Thank you, sir, for coming along to give evidence.
24 I'm glad we were able to find a courtroom in which to finish your
25 evidence. You are now free to leave.
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you too.
2 [The witness withdrew]
3 JUDGE HUNT: Before we go and in order to get the record set
4 straight as soon as possible, I should say that there is a statement
5 reported in yesterday's transcript which, if you read it, you may be very
6 surprised to see it. It's an easy enough mistake to have made, but it has
7 rather a disastrous consequence if the transcript is left uncorrected. I
8 do not usually worry about bringing this to the attention the parties, but
9 this is of such a serious consequence, I think I should refer to it. I
10 know it was stated in closed session, but the passage I'm going to read
11 will not have any particular consequences if I read it out in open
13 At pages 813 and 814 of the transcript, I am reported as having
14 said: "We have clear evidence at the moment which we've accepted would
15 establish the first one," that is meaning the first incident.
16 What I said and what I recall having said very clearly is: "We
17 have clear evidence at the moment which if accepted would establish the
18 first one."
19 I want to emphasise that the Trial Chamber has made no conclusions
20 one way or the other, and indeed could not, at this stage of the
21 proceedings, make any decision as to whether the evidence relating to the
22 first incident should be accepted, and I did not say so.
23 We'll resume on Monday. Just before we came into Court, I was
24 informed that they still had not cured the technical problem in Courtroom
25 number II and that it was proving a lot more serious than was at first
1 thought, but hopefully they'll have it ready for us by Monday morning.
2 Unfortunately, there is no other courtroom free for us to use, but I
3 suggest that you check on Monday morning to see what is happening.
4 We will adjourn now until 9.30 on Monday.
5 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 2.50 p.m.,
6 to be reconvened on Monday, the 24th day
7 of September, 2001, at 9.30 a.m.