1 Wednesday, 6 May 2009
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 9.05 a.m.
5 JUDGE PARKER: Good morning. If the witness could be brought in.
6 Ms. Kravetz.
7 MS. KRAVETZ: Just very briefly, Your Honours, I wanted to update
8 Your Honours regarding the scheduling for the rest of the week or the
9 remainder of the week. Mr. -- we spoke to Mr. Brakovic yesterday at the
10 end of the afternoon, and he will be available to testify tomorrow
11 afternoon. I believe we're sitting in the afternoon tomorrow. He did
12 inform us that he can't stay in The Hague beyond Friday evening because
13 he needs to attend to some personal family matters back home, so he
14 request if we could try to complete his evidence by Friday. I think we
15 sit in the morning on Friday, so by the end of our hearing on Friday.
16 JUDGE PARKER: We do sit in the morning on Friday. We have no
17 present way of knowing whether we can meet his wish.
18 MS. KRAVETZ: I am aware of that, Your Honour.
19 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
20 MS. KRAVETZ: And just to follow-up on scheduling, after we
21 complete the testimony of Mr. Brakovic, we will continue with witnesses
22 as they had been scheduled, that is starting with Ms. Hajrizi and
23 continuing on to Mr. Latifi and the other witnesses that had been listed
24 in our notification. Thank you.
25 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
1 Mr. Djurdjic.
2 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. The
3 Defence is cooperative and prepared to complete the testimony of those
4 witnesses by Friday, but we do have a concern. On several occasions so
5 far, the Prosecution has informed the Tribunal that a witness can only
6 testify for one day or half a day here because of some urgent personal or
7 professional matters, thereby allotting in advance the time for this
8 witness's examination. On several occasions, it turned out that this was
9 not correct. Let me just bring up the case of Mr. Brakovic. In the
10 notice we received last week, the Prosecution insisted that his testimony
11 must be completed by the 4th or the 5th because he could not remain in
12 The Hague
13 6th and the 7th of May. The same went for Witness Dunjic and some other
14 witnesses. I don't want to make a mistake, so I'm not going to be
15 mentioning their names.
16 Now we received a notice for two witnesses, one expert, one -- an
17 ordinary witness, although he's also an expert because he's a forensic
18 scientist, indicating that their testimony must be completed by a certain
19 date. I think this is exerting pressure on the Trial Chamber and the
20 Defence in terms of the length and scope of the testimony of those
21 witnesses, and the Defence is prepared to do its best and will do its
22 best to have the two witnesses complete their evidence by the end of this
23 week and so that they could go back to their duties, but we don't think
24 that this practice on the part of the Prosecution is proper. The
25 witnesses should be brought here at the time when they are able to remain
1 at our disposal for as long as necessary, and it is up to the
2 Trial Chamber to decide how long that is. Thank you.
3 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Djurdjic, we're appreciative of the sense with
4 which you and Mr. Djordjevic have been seeking to cooperate with the
5 efficient completion of the trial and accommodating the personal needs of
6 witnesses. We're grateful for that, and we will certainly keep our eye
7 on the matter that you have just raised.
8 [The witness takes the stand]
9 JUDGE PARKER: Good morning, sir. If I could remind you the
10 affirmation you made to tell the truth still applies, and Ms. Kravetz is
11 continuing with her questions.
12 MS. KRAVETZ: Thank you, Your Honour.
13 WITNESS: FREDERICK CRONIG ABRAHAMS [Resumed]
14 Examination by Ms. Kravetz: [Continued]
15 Q. Mr. Abrahams, when we broke off yesterday we were speaking about
16 your research mission to Kosovo in July 1999, and you explained to the
17 Chamber your findings based on your investigations there in the
18 municipality of Djakovica. During this research mission in July 1999,
19 did you visit any other municipalities in Kosovo province?
20 A. Certainly. I was in Pristina municipality. That's where I was
21 for the most part based and located during that period. I would have
22 also visited the Srbica and Glogovac municipalities, and I spent
23 extensive time in the Pec municipality. There are probably others that
24 I'm not recalling, but those were the primary locations.
25 Q. And during the time you expended in Pec municipality, did you
1 visit Pec town?
2 A. Yes, I did.
3 Q. Were you able to interview residents of Pec town during the time
4 you were there?
5 A. Yes, I was.
6 Q. And based on the accounts you heard during these interviews, what
7 did these persons, these residents, of Pec town tell you about what had
8 happened in the town during the period of the NATO bombing, I mean
9 following the start of the NATO bombing?
10 A. The most consistent story in Pec was about forced expulsions.
11 The residents told me how security forces rounded them up, forced them
12 from their homes, and ordered them to leave the city in a very organised
13 manner, in some cases involving buses organised by the local authorities
14 in which people were loaded onto and transported out to Montenegro.
15 In some cases, families had more specific stories of killings. I
16 can recall two in particular that they believed involved the same group
17 of perpetrators, and then they also spoke about more large-scale killings
18 in the neighbouring villages, which was something I then pursued.
19 Q. Before we move to what you've been referring to about the
20 killings, the accounts you heard of killings, could you tell us how long
21 or for how many days you were in Pec conducting these interviews.
22 A. I could check my notes to give you a precise number and dates,
23 but for sure I spent at least five days in the area, if not a week,
24 because one of the nearby villages became the -- a focus of our work.
25 Q. Now, can you tell us a little bit about the methodology that you
1 used in your interviews with residents of Pec when you were conducting
2 your investigations there. Were they similar to the type of interviews
3 you spoke about yesterday that you carried out in Djakovica, or were they
4 different in any way?
5 A. The methodology for our interviews is uniform across Kosovo and
6 in every other place where we work.
7 Q. Were these interviews conducted in Albanian?
8 A. For the most part, yes. There were some individuals who spoke
9 English, but the vast majority were conducted in Albanian.
10 Q. And do you yourself speak Albanian, or were you assisted by an
11 interpreter during the conduct of these interviews?
12 A. I speak Albanian, although most of the interviews I was assisted
13 by an interpreter.
14 Q. Now, during the days that you spent in Pec town, were you able to
15 observe any damage or destruction to civilian property?
16 A. Sorry, just to clarify that previous question.
17 Q. Yes.
18 A. To say "assisted," I mean the interviews were conducted in
19 English with the interpreter, and I was not the one -- I mean, I would
20 use my Albanian to introduce myself and general informalities, but the
21 crux of the interviews were conducted with the interpreter.
22 Q. Thank you. Now, during the days that you spent in Pec town, were
23 you able to observe any damage or destruction to civilian property?
24 A. Yes, I was.
25 Q. Were any neighbourhoods of Pec town particularly affected by this
1 damage, if you recall?
2 A. In such detail, I'm afraid I don't. I definitely recall
3 extensive destruction in central areas of Pec, so not in the peripheral
4 zones, but in what might be called down-town Pec, although Pec is not
5 large enough to say it really has a down-town, including destruction by
6 what appeared to be a fire.
7 Q. Okay. And did any of the persons that you interviewed, the
8 residents of Pec town that you interviewed, were they able to provide any
9 information as to how this damage to civilian property had been caused
10 and by whom?
11 A. Yes. The information from Pec was consistent and in my view
12 reliable because people were in the town and in the -- in Pec city up
13 until late stages of the war, some -- not everyone from the town had been
14 expelled. And so they testified that these structures had been set
15 alight by the state security forces, either police -- I don't recall now
16 whether Yugoslav Army forces they said were present in the town itself,
17 but certainly police and what they referred to as local militias.
18 Q. And did you see any destruction to any mosques in the town of
20 A. Yes, I do recall seeing at least one mosque, but my memory on
21 that is not precise.
22 Q. Very well. Now, you told us that you heard accounts of killings
23 that had occurred in Pec town in neighbouring villages and that one
24 specific incident became the focus of your work. Could you tell us a bit
25 more about that, which incident you are referring to.
1 A. During our investigations -- my investigation in Pec, we heard
2 stories about what people called a mass killing, or in their words it was
3 a massacre, in a nearby village called Cuska or in Albanian Qyshk. It's
4 5 or 6 kilometres approximately to the east of the city, and the reports
5 were consistent enough and credible enough to merit us taking a look.
6 Q. And were you able to speak with any eye-witnesses or -- who had
7 information about how this massacre had taken place?
8 A. I spent a considerable amount of time, at least four, probably
9 five days on this trip and returned again on numerous occasions. I could
10 give you the precise times exactly how long I was there by checking, but
11 I spoke with a large number, I would estimate approximately 20 different
12 people, who had -- were from the village or two surrounding villages. It
13 was Cuska, Zahac, and Pavlan. These three villages might be considered
14 in one general operation. It was the same day in which the alleged
15 crimes took place and spoke extensively with people who were witnesses to
16 these incidents.
17 Q. And what did they tell you had happened in the village of Cuska
18 if you recall?
19 A. I recall very well, and I subsequently published an entire book,
20 co-authored an entire book just on the Cuska killings. In Cuska was one
21 of the unique cases in the Kosovo conflict not because of the sheer
22 numbers. In Cuska, 41 men were killed; in Zahac, 19; and in Pavlan, 6,
23 all of them on May 14th, 1999
24 not unique. There were many other places in Kosovo in which such a large
25 number of people were killed, but the evidence here was very striking and
1 on a level that I as a human rights investigator had rarely encountered
3 Specifically, the villagers told me that security forces that had
4 entered the village on May 14th in the morning sent a lot of the women
5 and children away after taking their goods, their personal property,
6 their money; and then there were some killings around different areas of
7 the village. But there were groups -- a group of 29 men were separated
8 and taken into three private homes. And in each of those homes, security
9 forces lined them up and opened fire, killing the men in these homes, and
10 then lighting the homes on fire. And what was unique to me from their
11 testimony is in each of these cases there was a survivor. One man in
12 each of the homes somehow managed with very minimal injuries to survive
13 this mass killing.
14 And so, of course, we tracked down -- I tracked down these
15 people, and they were able to give me incredible -- incredibly dramatic
16 testimony, eye-witness testimony, which we had received in some other
17 cases in Kosovo but it was rare. I mentioned Bela Crkva yesterday in
18 which we also had a surviving witness, but these gentlemen were able to
19 give incredible details that matched what we had heard from the other
21 And the other -- the third factor that raised this to a new level
22 for me as an investigator was that the villagers, including these men who
23 survived, claimed to have recognised the perpetrators and have known them
24 personally. And furthermore, we obtained photographs of what was told to
25 me were local militia members and police members from the Pec area. I
1 obtained these separately from Cuska village. The villagers had no idea
2 they existed. They didn't give them to me. I obtained them in Pec, and
3 I scanned them on to my laptop and showed them not just to the villagers
4 in Cuska but to people in general, saying, I've obtained these
5 photographs, do you know who are these people? And to my surprise, the
6 villagers in Cuska and to an extent in Zahac and Pavlan recognised these
7 men. And I undertook incredible efforts because I realised the potential
8 of leading a witness to not make any suggestions about who these
9 individuals were. I showed them on my laptop. I always -- I took people
10 one on one and just opened the picture on the laptop and said, Do you
11 know who this is? Without suggesting that this was someone from the Pec
12 area or any other sort of leading insinuation. And we had multiple,
13 multiple positive IDs, and we had extensive discussions with our lawyers
14 in-house about what we could say publicly, and we decided we could only
15 release a name if we had at least three individuals who separately said
16 they had identified this individual in the same way, not just, I know
17 him, or I -- but that is X person or Y person, and those names are
18 mentioned in the reports -- in the book and in the report that we
19 subsequently published.
20 Q. And what is the name of this report that you published regarding
21 your investigation on the Cuska killings?
22 A. The report that Human Rights Watch published is called
23 "A Village Destroyed," and we subsequently released it as a book together
24 with photographs and text co-authored by myself and a photographer named
25 Gilles Peress and another writer named Eric Stover. It was a separate
1 production published by the University of California Press.
2 Q. Now, this Human Rights Watch report, "A Village Destroyed," do
3 you recall when it was published, if you recall?
4 A. The research was in July. It continued afterwards. It would
5 have been the latter stages of 1999 if my recollection serves me well.
6 Q. Now, yesterday we spoke a little bit about the practice of
7 Human Rights Watch regarding dissemination of reports. Would this report
8 have been sent to Yugoslav and Serbian authorities in the same way as
9 other reports that you spoke about yesterday?
10 A. Yes, the dissemination procedure would have been the same. Just
11 to add one brief point on the Cuska case which made it even stronger,
12 there were media investigations, also, into this case, and they were able
13 to locate some of the perpetrators and interview them. And we cite those
14 interviews in the report, although I didn't conduct them myself, but it
15 adds to the holistic picture of what took place in those villages.
16 Q. Now, you told us that during these investigations you discovered
17 that approximately 40 men had been killed or 41 men in this village.
18 Based on the accounts of survivors and eye-witnesses, did -- were these
19 persons who were killed in this village involved or engaged in fighting
20 in any way?
21 A. The villagers and the witnesses uniformly testified that there
22 had been no KLA presence in the village, that there had been no fighting
23 in the village, and those statements were not thrown out there on face
24 value. They were part of comprehensive interviews that extended for
25 many, many days and involved excruciating detail. I should add also that
1 I of course visited the sites, the homes where the men were killed, spent
2 extensive time in the village, and the physical evidence that I observed
3 was also consistent with their stories.
4 Q. And you had told us that you had obtained photographs of persons
5 that were later identified as perpetrators. Just to be clear, these
6 photographs, are they also contained in the Human Rights Watch report
7 that was published, "A Village Destroyed"?
8 A. Yes, they are, yes.
9 MS. KRAVETZ: Your Honours, I seek to tender this report into
10 evidence. This is 65 ter 00397.
11 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
12 THE REGISTRAR: That will be assigned P00755, Your Honours.
13 MS. KRAVETZ:
14 Q. Now, Mr. Abrahams, to move on to another report. In your
15 different statements, you speak extensively about a Human Rights Watch
16 report "Under Orders." Could you very briefly explain your involvement
17 in producing this report.
18 A. I would categorise my involvement as the coordinator of the
19 project, but it was a collaboration among the Human Rights Watch staff.
20 We -- we -- it involves various sections, which include the background of
21 the conflict from 1990 to 1998; the period of what we consider to be the
22 armed conflict, 1998 and 1999; and then the period after which was also a
23 very important focus for us, what happened after June 12th and
24 particularly revenge attacks against Serbs and Roma and non-Albanians in
25 Kosovo. My role was to coordinate and manage the researchers who were on
1 the ground during the NATO bombing. I also went there myself to conduct
2 research in Albania
3 researchers entered Kosovo in June and July and afterwards in later 1999,
4 so then I was responsible for compiling and organising all of this
6 Q. Did you personally draft any of the sections of the report?
7 A. Yes, I did, yes.
8 Q. You have spoken about your investigations in Djakovica and also
9 in Pec municipality. Is the information that you obtained during these
10 research missions in those municipalities contained within this report?
11 A. Yes, it is.
12 Q. And would these -- the sections that refer to Djakovica
13 municipality and to Pec municipality, would these have been sections
14 drafted by yourself or by other colleagues?
15 A. I drafted both of the sections you mention.
16 Q. Do you recall when the report "Under Orders" was made public by
17 Human Rights Watch?
18 A. October 2001.
19 Q. And again, I presume that this report, following the normal
20 procedure of Human Rights Watch, was disseminated according to standard
21 practice and to Yugoslav and Serbian authorities and to other persons on
22 the human rights mailing list that you spoke about yesterday. Would that
23 be a correct understanding?
24 A. That's correct. In addition with "Under Orders," we translated
25 the entire report into both Serbian and Albanian languages. We held
1 press conferences in Pristina and in Belgrade, and I participated in both
2 of those. The Belgrade
3 government on a public panel we had as well. So the coverage in this
4 report was -- was extensive.
5 Q. Thank you.
6 MS. KRAVETZ: Your Honours, we have prepared excerpts - I spoke
7 about this yesterday - of this report which are the sections on Djakovica
8 and Pec, and these have been uploaded in the e-court system as
9 65 ter 004380.1. I know my learned colleague has raised an objection to
10 the report in itself, but at this stage I would seek to tender these --
11 this exhibit, the extracted portions, and ask that it would be marked for
13 JUDGE PARKER: Consistently with our position, they should be
14 marked for identification.
15 THE REGISTRAR: That will be assigned P00756 MFI, Your Honours.
16 MS. KRAVETZ:
17 Q. Mr. Abrahams, I want to ask you about another report which is
18 referred to in your July 2006 statement and also in your previous
19 statement of January 2002, and this is a report entitled "Rape As a
20 Weapon of Ethnic Cleansing." Could you please explain what was your
21 involvement in the preparation of that report.
22 A. That report was researched primarily by my colleague, a woman.
23 We felt that was necessary in order to gain the confidence and interview
24 female victims of sexual assault. I was her advisor, a guide, and I also
25 was heavily involved in helping her draft report and edit the report.
1 Q. Did you participate in any of the interviews that are contained
2 within this report?
3 A. I conducted some of the interviews with medical professionals and
4 others with second-hand knowledge -- or in some cases direct knowledge of
5 sexual violence, but not the victims themselves, again, for the trust
7 Q. And how did you go about trying to obtain information on cases of
8 rape or sexual assault that had taken place during the 1999 conflict?
9 A. The issue of rape first came to our attention during the period
10 of NATO bombing in April. I was in northern Albania with my colleague
11 Joanne Mariner, and in the refugee camps we became aware of a reported or
12 alleged cases of rape of I believe three women. I don't remember at this
13 moment - I could check - how we became aware of it. I believe it was
14 from a doctor in one of the refugee camps who had -- who had alerted us.
15 I'm not certain about that. I can't testify exactly how we learned of
16 this case, but we ended up -- my colleague Joanne ended up interviewing
17 these women who testified about the sexual violence they had experienced,
18 and we ended up issuing a statement based on that testimony during that
19 time, in April.
20 Then when we all entered Kosovo in -- after June 12th, then
21 Joanne and another colleague who did the bulk of this work,
22 Martina Vandenberg, she went around and she identified the victims
23 through multiple ways but by speaking with local women's organisations
24 that were dealing with rape survivors, by speaking with gynaecologists
25 and other doctors who were treating rape survivors, and there may have
1 been other -- other leads that I'm not aware of at this -- I'd have to
2 refer to the report to give you further examples.
3 Q. Now, was the methodology that you and your colleagues used in
4 preparing this report similar to the methodology that was used in the
5 other reports that you have been speaking about during your testimony?
6 A. Yes, it is.
7 Q. And can you tell us about the process -- the interview process,
8 how that was conducted, both with the victims and with the -- the
9 interviews that you conducted yourself with persons who could provide
10 evidence or information on rape and sexual assault.
11 A. In essence, it's the same one-on-one setting, but in cases of
12 rape and sexual assault there's additional importance to the
13 confidentiality and trustful rapport that an interviewer establishes with
14 an interviewee or an alleged victim. In particular in the Albanian
15 society - I think in any society but particularly in the Albanian
16 society - it is an extremely shameful experience to have suffered from
17 rape or sexual assault. It is a taboo subject in the Albanian culture,
18 would make women very difficult to find a husband if they wanted to
19 marry. And so making sure we could interview these women in a proper way
20 would be necessary.
21 MS. KRAVETZ: I see --
22 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Djurdjic.
23 MS. KRAVETZ: -- my learned colleague is on his feet.
24 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] I think that the witness has again
25 gone beyond the limits of fact testimony, and now he is presenting his
1 conclusions, and as a fact witness he should not be testifying in this
2 manner, and now we have gone into the sphere of morality and ethics of an
3 ethnic community.
4 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you. I don't think we need to make any
5 specific ruling or observation on that at the moment given our general
7 Carry on, Ms. Kravetz, but be aware of that.
8 MS. KRAVETZ: Thank you, Your Honour.
9 Q. When was the research for this report concluded, if you recall?
10 I mean, for how long were you -- your team -- was your team working on
11 this report?
12 A. The field research was approximately three weeks. I believe the
13 precise dates are presented in the report, and then the writing and
14 editing process would have gone on a number of weeks after that, usually
15 longer, probably I would say two months after the end of the field
16 mission. So I believe this report was published in the end of 1999,
17 maybe early 2000 if my memory serves me well.
18 Q. Thank you. And, again, I presume when it was disseminated
19 according to the usual procedure of Human Rights Watch and sent to all
20 competent authorities that were on your mailing list, both Serbian and
21 Yugoslav authorities --
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. -- would that be correct?
24 MS. KRAVETZ: Your Honours, this report is Exhibit 00386. I know
25 an objection has been raised with regards to its admissibility, so I seek
1 to tender it at this stage and ask that it be marked for identification.
2 JUDGE PARKER: It will be marked.
3 THE REGISTRAR: That will be P00757, MFI, Your Honours.
4 MS. KRAVETZ: Could we please have 65 ter 00388 up on the screen,
5 and I ask that only the English be displayed for the witness so he can
6 read the document. Thank you.
7 Q. Mr. Abrahams, do you recognise the document that is up on the
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Could you explain what this is.
11 A. This is the statement about rape that I referred to previously.
12 During the period of the NATO bombing, we produced what we called the
13 Kosovo Human Rights Flashes. These were in essence short reports or
14 press statements issued during the fighting about various incidents.
15 Q. You had spoken yesterday about the information you had obtained
16 when you were in northern Albania
17 Meja. Would that information have been contained in one of these Kosovo
18 Human Rights Flashes at the time? Was this the type of information that
19 you would include in this type of report?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Were these type of Human Rights Flashes only issued by
22 Human Rights Watch during the period of the conflict, that is, during the
23 period of the 1999 conflict from March to June 1999?
24 A. We issued regular press releases or press statements prior to and
25 after the NATO bombing. During the NATO bombing, given the intense
1 attention, understandably, to the region we produced what we called the
3 Q. And how were these Human Rights Flashes disseminated? To whom
4 were they sent?
5 A. They were disseminated in the same manner as all of our other
6 material, although not by post. They wouldn't have been mailed. There
7 were many of them. They put by e-mail, and I'm not sure if also by fax.
8 I would have to check if they were sent by fax, but definitely by e-mail.
9 Q. And how would you go about -- when you received information from
10 eye-witnesses or survivors, how would you go about trying to corroborate
11 that information?
12 A. At the time the corroboration was based on the interviews we were
13 conducting in the refugee camps in Albania and Macedonia, and we held
14 ourselves to a very high standard. I mean, just looking at this report,
15 I can see we had two direct victims as well as eight other women in the
16 village who gave corroborative elements of their stories. So that's a
17 good example of the standard we set for ourselves when making serious
19 Q. So if I understand correctly, before making public allegations of
20 this sort you would try to obtain corroboration. You wouldn't only rely
21 on the account of one person but you would try to investigate and
22 research the allegations before going public with them?
23 A. Well, not just try. It was a requirement as dictated by our
24 mandate and responsibility to achieve a high standard of corroboration.
25 Q. Now, we see that this Human Rights Flash report here has two
1 dates. On the top, it says updated February 22nd, 2000, and then there's
2 also a second date below, April 28th, 1999
3 of rape that are contained here have already been contained in the Human
4 Rights Flash that was issued in 1999?
5 A. Yes, definitely. I do not know what precisely was updated on
6 February 22, but the core allegations of rape and sexual assault were
7 made on April 28th, 1999.
8 Q. So when you -- if I understand correctly, when you would issue
9 such a report, for example, you were speaking about the Meja incident
10 earlier. If you obtained additional information with regard to a certain
11 incident, would you then issue an updated Human Rights Flash report on
12 that same incident?
13 A. Usually not, unless there was some additional information of
14 substantive value. In this case, I don't know what exactly was updated,
15 but it is a sign of our transparency because if there was any change to
16 the web site, then -- which would have been the update. This would have
17 been updated on the web site. Then we wanted the readers to be aware of
19 Q. Thank you.
20 MS. KRAVETZ: Your Honours, I seek to tender this exhibit into
21 evidence. This is 65 ter 00388.
22 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
23 THE REGISTRAR: And that will be assigned P00758, Your Honours.
24 MS. KRAVETZ:
25 Q. During the period that you were investigating or conducting your
1 investigations for the report "Under Orders," did you investigate
2 violations committed by all sides of the conflict?
3 A. Yes, we did, and not only for "Under Orders," but from the
4 beginning of our involvement and our investigations in Kosovo we strove
5 stridently to investigate all sides.
6 Q. Does the -- does part of the order "Under Orders" contained,
7 also, references to violations committed by -- or against Serbians and
8 other minorities in Kosovo, or is it only focused on the Kosovo Albanian
10 A. No. From the beginning, we looked at violations by the
11 Kosovo Liberation Army, issued a series of statements, chapters in
12 reports, and later reports about violations by the KLA. Those are
13 contained and elaborated on in "Under Orders," and in addition, we also
14 looked at the behaviour and alleged violations by NATO and repeatedly
15 criticised NATO's use of cluster munitions during its air war in
17 Q. Thank you. I just have very few questions left. I wanted to ask
18 you some questions about a section of your statement, the January 2002
19 statement. In your statement, you discuss extensively the background to
20 the Kosovo conflict, and you speak about events that occurred in the
21 early 1990s and even before then. Could you tell us what is the basis
22 for the information that you have provided in your statement regarding
23 these events.
24 A. Two essential sources: Academic and individual, if I can call it
25 that. Most of the history is what is available in the public domain,
1 through recognised and accepted academic literature as well as
2 journalistic; and then from my personal conversations and understandings,
3 having worked in the Balkan region since 1993, having studied east
4 European history, and thereby having accumulated a knowledge of these
6 Q. Thank you.
7 MS. KRAVETZ: Your Honours, I have no further questions for this
8 witness at this stage.
9 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Ms. Kravetz.
10 Mr. Djurdjic, you cross-examine?
11 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. Yes, I
13 Cross-examination by Mr. Djurdjic:
14 Q. [Interpretation] Good morning, Mr. Abrahams. My name is
15 Veljko Djurdjic, and I am a member of the Defence team for the accused,
16 Mr. Vlastimir Djordjevic. I have Marie O'Leary, a member of my team,
17 with me here. I will have some questions for you and will ask you to
18 provide us with some explanations if you can.
19 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Can we call up Exhibit P758,
21 Q. Mr. Abrahams, this is flash number 31, updated in
22 February of 2000. Am I right if I say that you cannot tell us which part
23 of the document was in fact updated in 2000?
24 A. I would be able to check that information for you, but at present
25 I cannot, no. The date is February 22, 2000 sorry I got it wrong.
1 Q. Thank you, Mr. Abrahams. I have a question for you which relates
2 both to this document and some other documents. According to this flash,
3 at least, you had a doctor in Albania
4 A. It's not correct that we had a doctor, but we spoke with a doctor
5 who had treated this -- these victims, yes.
6 Q. I see that you identify yourself with Human Rights Watch, but
7 what I wanted to say, of course, is that there was a doctor in Albania
8 who examined some victims; is that right?
9 A. That is correct, yes.
10 Q. Did you as an investigator ask the doctor to provide you with the
11 medical documentation that was the result of the examination of the
13 A. I don't recall if we did or did not. That's a question I can ask
14 my colleague Joanne Mariner who conducted the research.
15 Q. Thank you. Did you at any point in time take possession of any
16 medical documentation relating to any of the victims?
17 A. In reference to this statement on sexual violence or in general?
18 Q. Well, yes, first off in relation to sexual violence.
19 A. I would have to check the report to answer your question
20 precisely, but in some of the cases I believe the answer is yes.
21 Q. Right. You're saying that without checking up on that. In view
22 of your work, did you hand over the evidence concerning rape to the
23 investigators of the ICTY, to the OTP?
24 A. This statement, Flash 31, and our subsequent reports were made
25 available to the ICTY investigators. Whether we specifically informed
1 them of any particular victims is something I do not recall. It is
2 possible that we did, but I'm not certain if that took place or not.
3 Q. Mr. Abrahams, I'm quite surprised to hear this answer of yours.
4 Please answer my questions, and my question had to do with medical
5 documentation and not any other sort of evidence. Did you at some point
6 hand over some medical documentation concerning rape to the Prosecution?
7 A. Me personally, I did not, but I do not know for sure whether my
8 colleague Joanne or Martina Vandenberg did or did not.
9 Q. Thank you. Not only her, I believe that there was also
10 Mrs. Anderson who prepared the report on rape, but let's move on. Since
11 this is the third time you're testifying before the ICTY in The Hague
12 have you ever been shown medical findings concerning the rape of any of
13 the victims you interviewed in 1998 and 1999?
14 A. I did not interview any rape victims or victims of sexual
16 Q. I don't know if the interpretation was wrong. Mr. Abrahams, can
17 you please read the transcript. This is the third time you're testifying
18 before the ICTY in The Hague
19 of any of the victims of rape you or your organisation interviewed? That
20 was the question.
21 A. I'm just reading it to be sure I'm understanding you exactly. Me
22 personally, I'm not aware -- I don't believe I was ever given medical
23 records about rape victims. That's something that would have been
24 provided to my colleagues who conducted the research, which were Joanne
25 Mariner and Martina Vandenberg.
1 Q. I will put the question again. During the trial against
2 Milosevic or the trial against Milutinovic where you appeared as a
3 witness, as you do today, were you ever shown medical documentation
4 concerning rape victims that were interviewed by your organisation?
5 A. During the trials, no, I don't recall being shown that sort of
7 Q. Thank you. Were you shown any sort of medical documentation
8 yesterday or today which has to do with victims of rape that your
9 organisation interviewed or any other sort of medical documentation?
10 A. No.
11 Q. Thank you, sir.
12 Mr. Abrahams, you told us yesterday that you were a trained
13 researcher of Human Rights Watch. Can you tell us what exactly your
14 training consisted of.
15 A. All researchers in the organisation go through an extensive
16 training in-house on how to conduct investigations, how to interview
17 witnesses and victims, collect supportive or evidentiary material and
18 secondary sources; and that formed the crux of my training.
19 Q. Thank you. Yesterday, you told us that you started -- or
20 interviews with victims and witnesses started to be taped as with the
21 onset of the era of digitalisation. Can you tell us whether back in 1998
22 and 1999 this sort of method was applied in Macedonia, Albania
23 Kosovo in general.
24 A. In general, no, it was not used.
25 Q. Thank you. Were written statements given by victims and
1 witnesses signed by them at all?
2 A. No, that is not HRW, Human Rights Watch, procedure.
3 Q. Thank you. Although you've already explained that to a certain
4 extent, can you tell us whether in 19 -- or rather, in 1998 who was it
5 who interpreted or did the translation of the interviews you had in
7 A. Our interpreters were individuals from Kosovo, most of whom were
8 at that time working as journalists and have subsequently gone on to
9 careers as professional journalists in international media, such as AP,
10 Agence France
11 Q. Thank you. What was the ethnicity of the interpreters before
12 they started working as journalists?
13 A. It depends what period and investigation we're discussing. The
14 journalists I'm referencing here were ethnic Albanians. We also had two
15 Serbs -- Serbian citizens and ethnic Serbs on our staff at different
16 periods, and some of the research was conducted by them -- I'm sorry, I
17 strike that, by one of them. One of them stayed in Belgrade, but one of
18 them was working in Kosovo, and this person obviously speaks Serbian.
19 Q. Thank you. You've explained to us the extent of your knowledge
20 of the Albanian language. Let me ask you about the other researchers,
21 now, Fred Abrahams, Bogdan Ivanisevic, Andre Lommen, Joanne Mariner,
22 Martina Vandenberg, Benjamin Ward, James Ron. Do they speak Albanian?
23 A. No, they do not.
24 Q. Thank you. How can you be sure of the accuracy of the
25 interpretation done by the ethnic Albanian interpreter taking a statement
1 of the ethnic Albanian witness or victim? How can you be sure that the
2 interpretation was correct?
3 A. There were two ways. The first is these interpreters were people
4 with whom we had worked for a long time and had established a high level
5 of trust. The second is these interpreters also worked with us when we
6 were investigating crimes by the Kosovo Liberation Army, often at some
7 risk to themselves. Obviously, the KLA did not want to be investigated.
8 And our interpreters undertook those risks, translated honestly, and
9 further earned our trust through their willingness to also examine the
10 ethnic Albanian side.
11 Q. Thank you. We have come to the right spot that I want to
12 discuss. How could you be sure that they were not members of the
13 Democratic Alliance
14 be sure that they were not members of some other organisation in Kosovo?
15 A. You mean -- the interpreters, you're asking about? These
16 individuals to the best of my knowledge had no political affiliation, and
17 my knowledge was extensive because Kosovo is small; I had been travelling
18 there and working there since 1995; and individuals, activities, and
19 political views are known. But furthermore, their political affiliations
20 were secondary to their professional behaviour, and whatever group or
21 party they may or may not have belonged to, the importance for me and my
22 colleagues was that they translated, interpreted honestly and accurately.
23 Q. Thank you. I cannot resist putting the following question to
24 you. All the statements that were given to you which you claim were
25 credible, didn't they seem strange to you for the fact that they followed
1 the same pattern, and repetitions do lead to suspicions, don't they?
2 A. No, they did not seem strange to me. They had details and
3 specifics about what they had seen or experienced that were credible. I
4 say "they." I mean, we -- for "Under Orders," we interviewed more than
5 600 people, so I can -- I don't want to paint them all with one stroke.
6 But the repetition you refer to, if it existed, I took to mean -- I
7 interpreted as the widespread nature of the crimes they were talking
9 Q. Can you rule out the possibility that all these individuals were
10 groomed about what they were supposed to say and how they were supposed
11 to say it?
12 A. Yes -- let me rephrase that. Certainly, there was an interest on
13 the part of the Kosovo Liberation Army to hide some of its activities and
14 to portray the crimes of the Serbian forces in a certain light. There's
15 no doubt about that; there was a motivation. And all forces to the
16 conflict were interested to control information. That's why our
17 interview process was so important, why we take extra care, especially in
18 times of armed conflict, to conduct lengthy and professional interviews.
19 The cases that we reported through -- in "Under Orders" and in other
20 documents met that standard of corroboration in my opinion.
21 Q. Thank you. The victims and witnesses you interviewed, did they
22 have an opportunity to read the statement once you wrote it?
23 A. If they asked to review it, we would allow that, but usually they
24 didn't, and so that that rarely came up.
25 Q. Thank you. Can you explain to me now what was the technique you
1 used in taking statements in 1998 and 1999.
2 A. We recorded them by hand primarily and sometimes recorded. I
3 mentioned before digital recording, but of course cassettes were
4 available and were occasionally used as well.
5 Q. Thank you. In what language were the statements formulated?
6 A. English.
7 Q. Thank you --
8 A. I'm sorry, statements formulated, you mean the questions asked?
9 I'm sorry, what do you mean by "statements formulated"? Recorded? If
10 you mean recorded, then English.
11 Q. Mr. Abrahams, you said that in 1998 and 1999 you wrote the
12 statements by hand, and my question was: In what language were the
13 written statements recorded? And if you need to repeat your answer now
14 that you're certain of the question, you can do so.
15 A. Yes, they were recorded in English.
16 Q. Thank you. You've told -- talked extensively about the sending
17 of reports over the past two days. Yesterday, you told us that in the
18 course of 1998 and through to the end of June 1999 you were also sending
19 reports to the KLA. Do you have proof of you sending reports to the KLA
20 in this period from the start of 19 -- or, rather, from 1998 through to
21 the end of June 1999?
22 A. Distributing the reports to the KLA at that time were -- was
23 difficult because they had no official presence or diplomatic
24 representation, but the statements were distributed to the Albanian
25 media -- Albanian-language media, both in Kosovo and in Albania and
2 Kosovo, and there was -- at times there was a KLA representation in
3 Pristina. For a brief period in 1998, they had a sort of media office,
4 or a political representation is perhaps a better way to describe it.
5 And I did meet with those people and gave them copies of our material.
6 Q. Thank you. What sort of material was it, and who did you hand it
7 over to?
8 A. The office at that time was run by a man named Adem Demaqi, and
9 he would have been the recipient of some of this material. I do not
10 recall exactly what I gave him, but it's fair to assume that the report
11 "Humanitarian Law Violations in Kosovo" would have been something that he
13 Q. Thank you. You told us yesterday that from 1996 onwards, the
14 reports sent to the official dignitaries in Serbia were sent by
15 organisation to their e-mail addresses. Was my understanding correct or
17 A. That is correct. They were sent to the e-mail addresses that we
19 Q. Thank you. Mr. Abrahams, I claim upon full responsibility that
20 from 1996 through to the end of war in 1999, the MUP of Serbia did not
21 have a web site of its own at all where it could have published its
22 e-mail address or through which it could have communicated with third
24 MS. KRAVETZ: Your Honour --
25 THE WITNESS: What is the --
1 MS. KRAVETZ: -- that is not really a question. That is a
2 statement made by my learned colleague. I would ask that he put a
3 question to the witness and avoid making statements on the record.
4 JUDGE PARKER: I think it does need some rephrasing,
5 Mr. Djurdjic.
6 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
7 Q. Where did you get the information from to the effect that the MUP
8 of the Republic of Serbia
9 1999, and could you tell me what the e-mail address was?
10 A. The MUP did have a web site, but I do not know when exactly it
11 went on line. I can certainly check that information. The MUP e-mail
12 was to the best of my knowledge on our list, but I have to check that
13 list to be sure that's true. This list is in my possession.
14 Q. Mr. Abrahams, when you're talking about the e-mail addresses and
15 the web site, which year are you exactly referring to? That's what I'd
16 like to know.
17 A. I do not recall exactly when the MUP web site went on line. That
18 can be checked. As for the e-mail address list, it was created by 1996
19 and constantly updated since that time.
20 Q. Thank you. You yourself did not engage in these technical
21 details or businesses?
22 A. I did not manage the list, but when I obtained an address that I
23 thought should be added to the list, I provided it to our technical -- my
24 technical colleagues.
25 Q. Thank you. What I wanted to say or to ask you was that you were
1 not the one sending the e-mails to these various state institutions and
2 governmental agencies; is that right? That's what I meant by you not
3 doing the technical part of the job.
4 A. I provided the material - for example, a statement - and the
5 technical colleagues would push the button, if you will, send it.
6 Q. Thank you. And did you receive any evidence of the receipt of
7 your reports to the addressees? You yourself, did you receive any such
9 A. The e-mail addresses that rejected our mail were then deleted
10 from the lists. So in that sense, I was aware of which addresses were
11 not functioning or not receiving the material we had sent.
12 Q. Fair enough. We'll get back to that, but let me now ask you: Am
13 I right when I say that all those notices that you were sending to the
14 officials in Serbia
15 the Prosecutor of this Tribunal and that yesterday they were admitted
16 into evidence?
17 A. I don't recall if the material was formally submitted, and
18 certainly not at that time, not in 1996; by 1998, I'm not sure. But it
19 was -- in other words, I'm not sure that we officially presented it, but
20 it was in the public domain, and certainly it was obtained -- and I was
21 aware that it had been obtained by the Prosecutor's office.
22 Q. Thank you.
23 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Could we please have Exhibit P742
24 on our screens.
25 Q. Mr. Abrahams, this is the front page of this document. Could you
1 please tell me whether there is a cover sheet to this fax? Do you see
3 A. I do not see it, no.
4 Q. Yes. And in your report, do you perhaps have the fax cover sheet
5 for the letter that was sent to Mr. Vlajko Stojiljkovic on
6 20th of July, 1998?
7 A. It is not in the report, no.
8 Q. Thank you. Now I would like you to look at this letter. Do you
9 notify Mr. Stojiljkovic about any of the crimes in this letter?
10 A. This is a letter of inquiry requesting information from
11 Minister Stojiljkovic.
12 Q. Thank you. Does the Human Rights Watch have any proof to the
13 effect that any of the reports that you drafted and sent to him from 1998
14 until the end of June 1999 were actually received by Mr. Stojiljkovic?
15 A. We never received any reply from Minister Stojiljkovic, so I do
16 not know whether he received this letter.
17 Q. Thank you. In the course of the Milosevic trial and the
18 Milutinovic trial and over the past two days here, were you shown any
19 proof that Mr. Stojiljkovic actually received any of your reports drafted
20 in the course of 1998 or 1999?
21 A. No.
22 Q. Thank you. And do you agree that the address on this letter is
23 the well-known address of the Ministry of the Interior,
24 103 Knez Milosa Street
25 e-mail address of the Serbian MUP listed here?
1 A. This letter was sent by fax, a fax which was -- which went
2 through. It was confirmed that it went through, and I don't believe it
3 was sent by e-mail.
4 Q. Mr. Abrahams, is there a fax number of the Serbian MUP here? Is
5 it noted here?
6 A. No, it is not.
7 Q. Is there the fax number from which this fax was actually sent?
8 A. In the section of the letter that I can see on my screen, no,
9 there is not.
10 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Could we please scroll down to the
11 end of the letter.
12 Q. So now you can see the whole of the letter.
13 A. From what I see here, no. Perhaps there was something on the top
14 of the page, but I don't know.
15 Q. Well, now you can see the top of the page too.
16 A. These faxes were sent through a computer server, which would
17 describe why -- which would explain why there's no number on the page
18 that we are seeing here.
19 Q. Am I right when I say that you don't have any proof that this
20 letter was actually sent in the manner that you've just described to us?
21 A. I could consult with my colleagues in New York who might have
22 computer evidence that it was sent, but on my person and here now, no, I
23 don't have that evidence.
24 Q. Thank you.
25 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Now could we please have
1 Exhibit P743 on our screens.
2 Q. Mr. Abrahams, could you please tell me who -- or, rather, this
3 facsimile cover sheet, who was it sent to with the attachment?
4 A. The Yugoslav Army.
5 Q. And you as an expert, don't you think that this is a very general
6 term, if I told you that I sent something to the US Army, for instance?
7 A. To be more precise, this was sent to the information service of
8 the Kosovo command of the Yugoslav Army.
9 Q. To the information service. And what command are we talking
10 about? What kind of a military unit was it, the one that you sent this
11 document to?
12 A. This was the office -- the communications office or the media
13 office of the Yugoslav army that was dealing with Kosovo.
14 Q. Mr. Abrahams, now you say here the Kosovo command. What unit do
15 you mean when you say "Kosovo command"? What is it?
16 A. To the best of my memory, it was the 3rd Army that was in charge
17 for southern Serbia
18 responsible for Kosovo.
19 Q. Thank you. And what information service was this sent to, in
20 what town or city?
21 A. I do not remember.
22 Q. Well, how was this letter sent in technical terms?
23 A. Can you remind me of the date in which this letter was sent?
24 Q. 20th of July - we'll see that later - 1998. It's a whole series
25 of letters that all bear the same date, but we looked at those two
1 letters yesterday. Let's speed things up a little bit, Mr. Abrahams. Do
2 you see an e-mail address anywhere, an e-mail address of this body that
3 you sent this document to?
4 A. No.
5 Q. Do you see the fax number, or rather, the telephone number or ...
6 A. No.
7 Q. Thank you.
8 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Can we please look at page 2 of
9 this document, and then I'll conclude with this document, and then we'll
10 have our break.
11 Q. Mr. Abrahams, could you please read the addressee of this letter.
12 A. Vojska Jugoslavije, Kneza Milosa 33, 11000 Belgrade, Yugoslavia
13 Q. Excellent. Thank you. Well, one of the questions was whether
14 you were able to speak or understand the Serbian language. That was one
15 of the questions that I wanted to ask you, and now I got my answer. Do
16 we have a fax number or an e-mail address anywhere here?
17 A. No. From what I see on my screen, no.
18 Q. Thank you. You will agree with me that this is an address in
20 either the 3rd Army or the Pristina Corps. Would you agree with me?
21 A. No, I would not agree. The Yugoslav Army was headquartered in
23 Q. Well, I agree with you. They were headquartered in Belgrade
24 That's what you read, but information service of the 3rd Army or of the
25 Pristina Corps was not located in Kneza Milosa Street in Belgrade
1 right when I say that?
2 A. I don't know exactly where they were located or what
3 communication they had with -- between Pristina and Belgrade.
4 Q. Mr. Abrahams, could you please tell me, whom did you send this
5 letter to?
6 A. It was sent to the information service of the -- what we called
7 here the Kosovo command, but I can't be more precise than that.
8 Q. Very well. Thank you.
9 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I think it's time
10 for our technical break now.
11 JUDGE PARKER: Very well. We adjourn and resume at 11.00.
12 --- Recess taken at 10.30 a.m.
13 --- On resuming at 11.06 a.m.
14 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Djurdjic.
15 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
16 Q. Mr. Abrahams, we stopped at this letter of yours sent on the
17 20th of July, 1998. Am I right - if you look at the contents of this
18 letter - that you do not bring up any crimes perpetrated by the Yugoslav
19 or Serbian forces against anyone in this letter?
20 A. This letter informs the army that we are conducting an
21 investigation and we are soliciting their contributions or information in
22 the process of information collection.
23 Q. In one of the items or bullet points, you say:
24 "Can you provide us with any military reports about the actions
25 of the army in Kosovo since January 1998?"
1 Am I right if I say that you did not expect to obtain any such
2 reports because no army in the world would have given you any such
3 reports if you had sought them?
4 A. It was my job and responsibility to ask questions and their job
5 to reply or not reply. We gave them an opportunity to present us with
6 information, which they declined -- an opportunity that they declined to
8 Q. Thank you. And do we have any proof that you sought and obtained
9 this kind of information from NATO, for instance, or from the KLA in this
10 period, 1998/1999?
11 A. Letters of this sort I do not have. And regarding NATO, my
12 colleagues were the researchers for the investigation into NATO behaviour
13 and compliance, NATO's compliance with international humanitarian law
14 during the air campaign. So I would have to ask them what communications
15 they had with NATO. Regarding the KLA, official letters to the best of
16 my knowledge were not delivered, but there were some communications.
17 Q. Thank you. And in the reports that you drafted, regardless of
18 whether you were a researcher or not, is there this proof, is it
19 contained there, about going to NATO, looking for any kind of
20 information, and the feedback in terms of you getting this information
21 from them?
22 A. Letters to NATO I do not have in my possession. I'm not aware of
23 them being sent, but my colleagues would have been responsible for
24 that -- were responsible for that.
25 Q. Thank you.
1 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Could we please have
2 65 ter document 00534.
3 Q. Mr. Abrahams, am I right if I say that this is a letter that on
4 the 12th of July, 1996, you sent to minister of the interior of the
5 Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Mr. Jokanovic, indicating your wish to
6 discuss with him the recent terrorist violence against policemen, the
7 status of human rights, and the ministry's perspectives on the future of
8 the region?
9 A. That is correct. I submitted this letter to Minister Jokanovic
10 as well as other offices in Belgrade
11 Q. Thank you.
12 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] I would like to tender this
13 document into evidence.
14 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
15 THE REGISTRAR: That will be assigned D00097, Your Honours.
16 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Now I would like us to look at
17 65 ter document 00533.
18 Q. Mr. Abrahams, am I right if I say that this letter dated the
19 12th of July was sent by you to Mr. Mirovic, asking him to set up a
20 meeting with Mr. Zoran Sokolovic, Minister of the Interior of the
21 Republic of Serbia
22 the Minister of the Interior of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia,
23 Mr. Vukasin Jokanovic; and the Commissioner for Refugees,
24 Mrs. Bratislava Morina; and you wanted to talk to them about the recent
25 terrorist violence, the status of human rights, the problems of Serb
1 refugees, and the government's perspectives on the future of the region?
2 A. That is correct, and I should note there's a line in this letter
3 that I currently regret or language that we subsequently changed.
4 Q. Thank you. Can you tell us, Mr. Abrahams, when did you go to
5 Gornje Obrinje, or, rather, when you went there on the
6 29th of September, 1998, was the village in the hands of the Serbian
7 forces or not?
8 A. Serbian forces had left the area of Obrinje and Drenica by, if
9 I'm not mistaken, the 27th, if not the 26th. I would have to check to be
10 sure of the exact day. So by the time we entered the village, they were
11 no longer present.
12 Q. Thank you.
13 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Can I please have document or
14 exhibit P750. 750. It's been admitted into evidence.
15 JUDGE PARKER: Were you wanting the last letter exhibited,
16 Mr. Djurdjic, the one to Mr. Mirovic?
17 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Thank you. Yes, I would like to
18 tender it into evidence.
19 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
20 THE REGISTRAR: The document with 65 ter 00533 would be assigned
21 D00098, Your Honours.
22 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation]
23 Q. Mr. Abrahams, can you please tell us, what do we see on this
25 A. This is the body of one of the Delijaj family members who were
1 killed in Gornje Obrinje.
2 Q. Thank you. I'm asking you what is it you see on the photograph.
3 Am I right if I say that you see a body lying on the ground?
4 A. I see a full body and the head and shoulder of a second body.
5 Q. Yes, I agree with you. You have told us that those bodies were
6 in a dried-up river-bed. What can lead us to that conclusion?
7 A. That conclusion is based on my personal observation.
8 Q. Thank you. If I'm not wrong, you told us that in this river-bed
9 there were seven bodies; am I right?
10 A. Maybe it's a question of translation, but I wouldn't categorise
11 it as a river-bed but more a gully. But in terms of numbers, there were
12 seven bodies to the best of my recollection. The number for sure is in
13 the report.
14 Q. Thank you, Mr. Abrahams. It's possible that it was a gully or a
15 river-bed. I'm relying on translation now, but that's immaterial. As a
16 researcher, as a trained researcher of the Human Rights Watch, why didn't
17 you take a photograph where we could see all seven bodies?
18 A. There are photographs of the other bodies, and many of them are
19 in the report. There are photographs that also did not get printed in
20 the report.
21 Q. Mr. Abrahams, my question to you was: As a trained researcher,
22 you want to have your research have a high probative value. You list
23 seven bodies that were found in the gully, yet we don't have a photograph
24 of the scene of the crime where we could see all seven bodies in a single
25 photograph. I'm not asking you about photographs of individual bodies
1 because usually what you need to do is you need to have a picture or a
2 photograph of the whole of the scene, and then you go and photograph
4 A. I have to check our video archive to tell you exactly what we
5 photographed, but I do recall that the area was somewhat large. The
6 crime scene, if you can call it that - I do call it that - from the first
7 victim to the last was at least 30 metres in distance, and the gully
8 itself was at least 10 metres long in a wooded area. So photographing
9 the whole crime scene would have been difficult. Nevertheless, we may
10 have done it. I would have to check our records to tell you whether
11 that's the case or not.
12 Q. Thank you. And you will agree with me that yesterday and today
13 we did not see any such photographs that would show the scene of the
14 crime as a whole?
15 A. The photographs that showed the scene of the crime as a whole,
16 no, we have not seen today or yesterday.
17 Q. Thank you. Mr. Abrahams, it seems to me that a professional
18 photographer of the "New York Times" was present with you. I -- his name
19 escapes me now, but I'm sure that we have it in the papers; am I right?
20 A. That is correct, Wade Goddard.
21 Q. Thank you.
22 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Could we please have Exhibit P751
23 on our screens.
24 Q. Mr. Abrahams, could you please tell me, what do we see on this
1 A. This is a child from the Delijaj family who we saw and
2 photographed -- my colleague Peter Bouckaert photographed in the forest
3 outside of Obrinje.
4 Q. When was this photograph taken?
5 A. On the day we arrived and saw the bodies, I believe that was
6 29th of September, 1998.
7 Q. 27th of September -- 29th, okay. Yes, it's okay if it's the
8 29th. Yes, it's been corrected.
9 Do you see any injuries to this body?
10 A. From this photograph, I cannot -- I cannot answer that. I don't
11 see photographs in this -- I don't see injuries in this photograph, and I
12 don't recall -- would have to check my notes to see whether this
13 individual had wounds. Given the fact that they were no longer alive,
14 there was definitely some injury, but I do not recall what precisely it
16 Q. Thank you. Mr. Abrahams, again, we don't see a long shot of the
17 scene; am I right?
18 A. This is a focused shot on one body.
19 Q. You didn't answer my question, but thank you. If my memory
20 serves me right - at least, correct me if I'm wrong - you told us that in
21 Gornje Obrinje you had seen some bodies that had been mutilated; am I
23 A. That is correct.
24 Q. Did we see yesterday or today any photographs of those bodies?
25 A. I do not know at this point - I have to check the report - which
1 bodies precisely were mutilated and which ones we photographed. That
2 information is in the report.
3 Q. Mr. Abrahams, please answer my questions to speed things up. My
4 question was quite specific. Yesterday and today, did we see any
5 photographs of any mutilated bodies here at this trial?
6 A. Maybe.
7 Q. Maybe?
8 A. Maybe, yes.
9 Q. All right. We'll go through all the photographs, then. Is there
10 any mutilation on this photograph?
11 A. I don't know. I don't see it from this image, but it's possible
12 there was. I have to check my report. I don't recall the injuries on
13 each of the victims.
14 Q. Mr. Abrahams, I don't know if this -- there's a mistake in the
15 interpretation or if you're just trying to evade my answer, but judging
16 from the transcript my questions have been interpreted correctly.
17 Yesterday and today, in the photographs that we saw that were shown to
18 you by the Prosecution, did we see any photographs of mutilated bodies?
19 So it's quite -- it's a specific question. I saw or I did not see, and
20 we're talking about Gornje Obrinje, so photographs from Gornje Obrinje
21 that we saw here.
22 A. Some of the bodies in these photographs may have been mutilated.
23 I don't know. The -- the injuries of mutilation are not visible to me
24 from these photographs.
25 Q. Thank you, Mr. Abrahams.
1 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] I would like to call up P752,
3 Q. What can we see on this photograph?
4 A. This is a villager in Plocica standing in front of his food
5 warehouse burning.
6 Q. Can you tell us what this building was built of?
7 A. Obviously, the -- well, the roof is wood and tile, and the walls
8 from the photograph looks like some form of stone and a thin plaster with
9 wooden frames.
10 Q. Thank you. Do we see any other structures that were part of this
11 village which you say was terribly damaged?
12 A. No.
13 Q. Thank you. Yesterday you told us that you saw a plastic bottle
14 that was used for petrol. Did you take a photograph of it?
15 A. Yes, I believe I did. I would have to check our photo archive to
16 confirm that, but I believe we did.
17 Q. Thank you. Will you agree with me that that sort of photograph
18 was not shown to you either today or yesterday in this courtroom?
19 A. Yes, I agree with you.
20 Q. Thank you. Am I right if I say that you also saw an empty bullet
21 box there?
22 A. It was an empty ammunition box that I believe contained mortars,
23 but I'm not sure about that. That's the best of my recollection. I seem
24 to recall a mortar launcher next to it.
25 Q. Thank you. Do you agree that we did not see a photograph
1 depicting such an ammunition box either yesterday or today?
2 A. Yes, I agree.
3 Q. Thank you. Do you have a single piece of evidence to the effect
4 that the Serbian Yugoslav authorities were receiving reports from -- or
5 received a report from Human Rights Watch entitled "A Sunday of Terror in
7 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's correction: "A Week of Terror in
9 THE WITNESS: I'm -- just to understand, confirmation that they
10 received a copy of the report? Is that your question?
11 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation]
12 Q. Yes, yes.
13 A. I'm not aware of any information of that sort, no, although
14 the -- I know that I gave multiple interviews to the various media in
15 both English, Albanian, and Serbian language, and the report was covered
16 widely. The incident in Obrinje was a very well-publicised event, the
17 end of the campaign, and it sparked a flurry of diplomatic activity that
18 led to the creation of an observer mission, and our views about that
19 incident, our documentation, were widely publicised. So I always was
20 firmly of the opinion that the Serbian public and government were aware
21 of our findings.
22 And I further recall media coverage in the RTS, the Radio
23 Television Serbia
24 refuting our claims, saying that the bodies -- the body of one of the
25 victims, an 18-month-old victim named Valmir, if I'm correct, had been a
1 doll. I remember that distinctly, them holding up a doll saying that
2 this was what human rights organisations had claimed was the victim. So
3 it was definitely broadcast in the state-run media.
4 Q. Mr. Abrahams, I didn't want to interrupt you, but please look at
5 your answer, and I urge you to answer my questions as briefly as
6 possible. We do have a time-limit.
7 In your testimony in the Milosevic case, in the Milutinovic case,
8 and over the past two days, were you shown a single piece of evidence by
9 the Prosecution to prove that this report entitled "A Week of Terror In
10 Drenica" had been received by either the Serbian or the Yugoslav
12 A. That it had been delivered, yes; that it had been received, no.
13 Q. I don't know, but it seems to me that the interpretation was
14 excellent. My question was the following: Mr. Abrahams, in the
15 Milosevic case, the Milutinovic case, and over the past two days, did the
16 Prosecution show to you some evidence indicating that the Serbian or the
17 Yugoslav governments received your report entitled "A Week of Terror In
19 A. No.
20 Q. Thank you.
21 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Can we now call up P754, page 5.
22 Q. Mr. Abrahams, do you recognise the photograph?
23 A. Yes, I do.
24 Q. It seems to me that you said that you were the one who took it.
25 A. That's correct.
1 Q. I also think you said that it was in February of 1999; is that
3 A. That's correct.
4 Q. Thank you. Can you tell us what village this is?
5 A. Lodja.
6 Q. Thank you. Can you tell us, how many houses does the village of
7 Lodja have?
8 A. I cannot tell you precisely. I remember approximately three
9 dozen, maybe a bit more -- more, I think, but I don't know the exact
11 Q. Thank you. Will you agree with me that, again, we don't have a
12 long shot that would depict the village of Lodja?
13 A. I have many photos of Lodja. This one here depicts two houses.
14 Q. Thank you. Do you know how many Serb houses there were in the
15 village of Lodja in February of 1999 when you took the photograph?
16 A. What do you mean by "Serb house"?
17 Q. Well, you told us a moment ago how many houses there were. Of
18 course I'm not referring to houses themselves. I'm referring to
20 A. I'm sorry. I don't understand the question.
21 Q. Right. Let's say, how many Albanian houses were there in the
22 village of Lodja, i.e., members of Albanian ethnicity?
23 A. I don't know the precise ethnic composition of Lodja, but my
24 understanding is it was a predominantly, if not exclusively, ethnic
25 Albanian-inhabited village.
1 Q. Thank you. Did you try at all to establish whether there was any
2 Serb population in the village when you were there back in February?
3 A. In February 1999, the village was uninhabited.
4 Q. Thank you. So how come you're able to know who -- to whom the
5 houses depicted in the photograph belonged? How were you able to tell if
6 they belonged to members of the Serb ethnicity or Albanian ethnicity?
7 A. We tried to enter Lodja first in September 1998 and were denied.
8 We wanted to go there and interview individuals who we believed were
9 ethnic Albanians, that ethnic Albanians lived in Lodja, but we were
10 denied entry into the village by the Serbian police who had occupied a
11 home or structure, a building, on the edge of the village. Based on
12 that, it was my belief and opinion that the village was predominantly, if
13 not exclusively, inhabited by ethnic Albanians.
14 Q. Again, Mr. Abrahams, you're giving me long answers without
15 answering my question. The question was: How were you able to tell or
16 know in February of 1999 when you took these photographs who the owners
17 of the houses were and of which ethnicity the owners were?
18 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Djurdjic, that question has been answered. It
19 may not be the answer you were expecting or as direct as you were
20 expecting, but it has been answered, and it's answered on the basis that
21 access was denied some months earlier and one house was temporarily
22 occupied by Serbian police which kept these people from it. From that
23 circumstance and the destruction of the village, the witness inferred
24 that the village was occupied entirely or substantially by Albanian
25 households. Now, he can't take that any further. That's his evidence;
1 it may be right, it may be wrong.
2 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Thank you. I'll move on, Your
4 Q. Mr. Abrahams, do you know when the fighting started in Lodja?
5 A. Not precisely, but I believe roughly in July 1998 was the first
6 major fighting. Certainly there were incidents in and around Pec prior
7 to that, violent incidents.
8 Q. Thank you. You are right in saying that the operations commenced
9 in July. My apologies. Did any of the individuals you interviewed tell
10 you that the KLA had attacked the house belonging to the family of the
11 Ujosevics on the 6th of July, 1998, in the village of Lodja
12 A. I'm not familiar with that particular allegation.
13 Q. Thank you. Did you know that several Serb policemen were injured
14 and that two were abducted by the KLA in July of 1998?
15 A. I knew that there were hostilities at that time, but I was not
16 aware -- or I would have to check my records to answer your question
17 whether I was aware of the details about those hostilities.
18 Q. Thank you, Mr. Abrahams. But it is not a detail to learn that
19 Lodja was taken by the KLA in early 1998.
20 A. No, that's correct. Lodja was taken by the KLA, and there was an
21 action to re-take Lodja. Lodja is quite close to Pec. It could be
22 considered a suburb of Pec, even, and no doubt the authorities were
23 deeply concerned about the KLA's actions and took to re-take control of
25 Q. Thank you. Did you hear at the time or at a later stage that
1 Operation Lodja was considered to be one of the greatest successes of the
2 Kosovo Liberation Army in the course of 1998 and 1999?
3 A. I'm not familiar with that claim.
4 Q. Thank you. Fine. As an individual who was knowledgeable and an
5 expert about the area in the last -- in the recent periods, did you in
6 the last seven or eight years read any of the publications describing
7 this particular period, that's to say the month of July of 1998, in
9 A. Specifically with regards to Lodja, I'm not aware of any
10 material, but of course I did follow and I continue to follow the various
11 research and publications about the Kosovo conflict.
12 Q. Thank you. Are you familiar with the name of Tahir Zemaj?
13 A. Yes, I'm familiar.
14 Q. Did you perhaps read the book "Thus Spake Tahir Zemaj"?
15 A. I'm not familiar with that book.
16 Q. Thank you. Did you know that Tahir Zemaj took part in
17 Operation Lodja in July of 1998?
18 A. I have not heard that before.
19 Q. Did you hear that Mr. Haradinaj had taken part in the operation?
20 A. I have also not heard about Mr. Haradinaj's participation, but he
21 was, of course, a commander in that region, so it would not surprise me.
22 Q. Thank you, Mr. Abrahams.
23 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Can we call up D002-6040. The
24 next page, please.
25 Q. Mr. Abrahams, when you were in Lodja in February of 1999 and you
1 went through the place, did you come across such trenches, perhaps?
2 JUDGE PARKER: Ms. Kravetz.
3 MS. KRAVETZ: Your Honour, I may be mistaken here, but I believe
4 this document was not on my learned colleague's list of exhibits to be
5 used with this witness. I know different e-mails were sent quite late,
6 but I did not see this specific document listed on their list.
7 JUDGE PARKER: It's certainly one that we have seen, Ms. Kravetz,
8 in the course of earlier evidence.
9 Carry on, Mr. Djurdjic.
10 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Madam Kravetz. We sent
11 you a supplementary notification containing the two documents you were
12 notified of earlier as well as of this one.
13 Q. Do you recall my question, Mr. Abrahams?
14 A. I do not recall seeing trenches in Lodja, but it's certainly
15 possible they were there.
16 Q. Thank you.
17 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Can we turn to the next page,
18 please. Further on, please. It's not the one.
19 Can we call up D002-6044, please. The next page, please.
20 Further on, please. Still further on. The next photograph, can we see
21 if that's the one.
22 Q. Mr. Abrahams, when you were there, did you perchance see this
23 house in the village of Lodja
24 A. I don't recall.
25 Q. Very well. Thank you.
1 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Can we call up Exhibit P754,
2 page 7.
3 Q. Mr. Abrahams, can you tell us when was it that these houses were
5 A. I would have to check my notes to answer that question. The
6 photo was taken in February 1999, so it's my belief it was in January or
7 February of that year, but my memory fails me at this point. I would
8 have to check my records.
9 Q. What village is this? Can you tell us?
10 A. This is on the outskirts of Suva Reka town.
11 Q. Yes, and the name of the village is Restane; am I right?
12 A. I believe that is correct. I'd have to check to be sure, but I
13 believe that is correct.
14 Q. Did you receive information from the individuals you interviewed
15 that there was fighting around Restane in the course of the summer of
17 A. There was fighting here and in Lodja. In no way am I denying
18 that fighting took place. There was an armed conflict going on in many
19 parts of Kosovo.
20 Q. Thank you. Can you rule out the possibility that the damage was
21 caused during the armed conflicts between the KLA and the Serbian forces?
22 A. In the case of Lodja, we reached the conclusion that we could
23 rule that out, that to me the destruction in Lodja appeared to have been
24 systematic and not as a result of the fighting. To be more precise, many
25 of the homes had one supportive column knocked out, which brought the
1 second floor of the home down. This was seen repeatedly in many of the
2 structures, and to us that appeared as if it had been deliberately
3 knocked down by heavy machinery and not a result of combat.
4 Q. Thank you. Were we able to see what you've just described for us
5 in one of the photographs?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. And I'm referring to Lodja, that the supporting column had
8 been -- had been knocked down and that that was why the houses caved in.
9 Was it something we were able to see on one of the photographs?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. And you're an expert in statics to be able to draw such a
13 A. I reached that conclusion based on my observations.
14 Q. Thank you. We were discussing Restane when you referred back to
15 Lodja again. What are your conclusions with regard to Restane?
16 JUDGE PARKER: It was you who referred back to Lodja I think when
17 we were dealing with Restane, but that is beside the point. You're now
18 going to Restane. Yes.
19 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] We were already discussing Restane
20 when Mr. Abrahams -- when answering my question referred back to Lodja,
21 but no matter. Let us go back to Restane now.
22 THE WITNESS: I must refer to my notes and reports to answer your
23 question in detail because I don't remember the specifics of Restane.
24 However, I do recall reaching the conclusion that these homes had been
25 purposely set on fire from within. I do not remember seeing any forensic
1 evidence of combat, such as bullet marks on the external walls of these
2 homes, trenches, or other signs of military activity. I recall seeing
3 scar marks or burn marks from the interior of these homes, the
4 destruction of the wooden roofs, but the walls and chimneys still
5 standing, which to me indicated fire from within.
6 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation]
7 Q. Mr. Abrahams, this picture was taken at least five months after
8 the incident, and as far as I can see on this building that has no roof,
9 you can see the laundry being hung out to dry. Somebody is obviously
10 doing something in there, which means that at the time when this
11 photograph was taken the scene of the crime had been changed, and I don't
12 see why there should be any ammunition there. Somebody must have cleared
13 it in the intervening six months.
14 A. I have to check my records to accept your claim that this
15 photograph was taken at least five months after the incident.
16 Q. Very well. Thank you.
17 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Could we please look at page 8 of
18 the same exhibit.
19 Q. Mr. Abrahams, what do we see on this photograph?
20 A. This is a destroyed mosque in the Drenica region.
21 Q. Thank you. Could you tell us more specifically what has been
22 destroyed on this mosque?
23 A. From this photograph, it is the top of the minaret and the roof
24 of the structure.
25 Q. Can you tell us when this damage was inflicted on the mosque?
1 A. I have to check my records for that, but my recollection is
2 during the offensive in September 1998.
3 Q. What is this place, please?
4 A. The precise location is -- I'm not sure of. It's in the Drenica
5 area around the Obrinje village. It was Obrinje-Golubovac-Likovac - I
6 believe Drenovac, but I don't recall the exact location. I can get that
7 information for you.
8 Q. Mr. Abrahams, as a serious researcher of the Human Rights Watch,
9 I would like to ask you: How is it possible that you take a photograph
10 without indicating the location, the time when the photograph was taken?
11 Instead, now you have to go and try to jog your memory about all that.
12 A. All of that information on location and date is in my records.
13 Q. Thank you. You told us yesterday -- or, rather, let us go back
14 to this image. Are any other buildings damaged on this photograph apart
15 from the one that you've brought our attention to? Of course, I'm
16 talking about visible damage.
17 A. No.
18 Q. Thank you. But can you rule out the possibility that at the time
19 when this damage was -- when the mosque was damaged that there was a
20 firing position located there in the mosque?
21 A. A firing position in the mosque itself?
22 Q. In or on the mosque.
23 A. I have to check my records to answer precisely, but I am not
24 aware of any testimony from individuals I interviewed about firing from
25 within or near mosques.
1 Q. Thank you. Mr. Abrahams, you told us yesterday that you talked
2 to a person who was a survivor of the incident in the Bela Crkva
3 river-bed; am I right?
4 A. That's correct.
5 Q. It's the incident that occurred in 1999 at the time when the
6 air-strikes in Kosovo and Metohija or in Serbia already began; am I
8 A. Correct.
9 Q. Thank you. And you told us that this person had an injury to the
10 shoulder that was caused by a bullet or a round of some sort.
11 A. That's correct.
12 Q. Thank you. Am I right when I say that this interview was done
13 either in Albania
14 but could you please tell me?
15 A. In northern Albania
16 Q. Thank you for your assistance. Am I right if I say that you took
17 this person to see a doctor to have the bullet removed?
18 A. That is correct. We helped this person get to Tirana, where he
19 received medical care.
20 Q. Thank you. And as a researcher, did you take a photograph of
21 this person with the injury on the shoulder while you were interviewing
23 A. I have to check my records to answer precisely, but I do recall
24 very well that this individual was extremely scared. He was concerned
25 for his own safety, having been the surviving witness of a serious crime,
1 and was therefore cautious about his identity being known at that time.
2 Q. Thank you. Well, we'll get to that, but in 2002 in your
3 interview with the OTP, you invoked Rule 70 of the Rules of Procedure and
4 Evidence, but at that time it had nothing to do with that. You saw this
5 injured person, you talked to him, and you took him to a doctor. Did you
6 see any such photographs - you say that you did not remember - but
7 anyway, did you see any photographs of this person with the injury
8 yesterday or today in the course of the trial?
9 A. No.
10 Q. Thank you. And can you tell me, did the doctor that treated that
11 person, who operated on this person, did you take any medical records
12 about the kind and severity of the injury, describing the injury?
13 A. No.
14 Q. Thank you. You told us that after the hostilities ended in 1999
15 you went to Kosovo and Metohija. Can you tell us when you went there?
16 A. I first went to Kosovo after the hostilities in July 1999.
17 Q. Thank you. And do you remember how long you stayed there in
19 A. On that trip, approximately three weeks. I returned again I
20 believe in November of that year.
21 Q. Thank you. Do you remember whether you were alone in July 1999
22 or were you accompanied by a colleague?
23 A. From approximately July 1999 throughout the rest of the year, we
24 had a near-permanent presence in Kosovo, a small office staffed by my
25 colleague Benjamin Ward. In addition, some other colleagues such as
1 Martina Vandenberg who investigated the rape cases, came to Kosovo during
2 that time.
3 Q. Thank you. I can conclude, then, that you went there on your own
4 and that you encountered these other people in Kosovo, where they already
6 A. That's correct.
7 Q. And in November 1999, how long did you stay there?
8 A. Roughly three weeks.
9 Q. Thank you. Can you tell me, how many people did you personally
10 interview in July 1999 when you were there for three weeks?
11 A. The precise number is in my records and in a database of the
12 interviews we created, but definitely at least 50.
13 Q. You personally, I'm asking you about you yourself, not all of the
14 officials who were in Kosovo. Did you personally conduct the
15 50 interviews that you just mentioned?
16 A. I have to check the database, which is readily available, to give
17 you a precise number; but yes, I believe it was roughly 50, let's say,
18 roughly 50.
19 Q. Thank you. And how many interviews did you conduct in
20 November 1999?
21 A. I don't know the exact number; less than that, because in
22 November 1999 I focused more on one incident, namely, killings in the
23 Dubrava prison, and also during that time on abuses against Serbs by
24 ethnic Albanians.
25 Q. Thank you. And could you please tell me, you were in
1 Kosovo and Metohija in February 1999 when those photographs were taken.
2 How long did you stay there at that time?
3 A. Again, the precise dates are available but my best recollection
4 is approximately two weeks.
5 Q. Thank you. And how many people did you interview at that time?
6 A. I have to check my records to answer that.
7 Q. Thank you. And do you recall how many people you spoke to from
8 the 25th of March or, rather, the time when you arrived there in April,
9 when you arrived to Albania
11 A. We created a database of every single interview, so I have to
12 refer to that data to give you a precise answer.
13 Q. I -- the reason why I'm asking you these questions is because you
14 gave me the initial figure and bearing in mind the fact that in your
15 statement I read that from the first time that you arrived there until
16 the end of 1999 that you interviewed around 600 people all told and that
17 many researchers worked on the project --
18 JUDGE PARKER: Ms. Kravetz.
19 MS. KRAVETZ: Yes, I just wanted to ask my learned colleague for
20 a reference where the witness says in his statement that he interviewed
21 around 600 people in 1999.
22 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] I didn't say in 1999 but from the
23 moment he arrived in Kosovo for the first time, that was in May 1998,
24 until the end of 1999, when he spoke to people in the field. To be quite
25 honest, I don't have the exact reference. I will be able to look it up
1 during the break.
2 Q. But is it right that the Human Rights Watch interviewed this
3 number of people and that this was a sample that you used for your
4 subsequent analysis?
5 A. To be accurate, the period March 24 through December 1999 when we
6 researched specifically the violations during the NATO bombing period,
7 March 24th to June 12th, that research by me and my colleagues involved
8 approximately 600 interviews. Our conclusions are based primarily on
9 those 600 interviews about the period of the NATO bombing, and all the
10 interviews we cite are footnoted in "Under Orders" with the place and
11 date, but we also created a database of all those interviews. So I could
12 give you the total number, the number that was done by me as well as by
13 all my colleagues, the date and place. All of that is available if it is
14 helpful to you.
15 Q. Thank you. So you are not saying that the --
16 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's correction.
17 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation]
18 Q. You are now saying that the 600 interviews that served as a basis
19 for "Under Orders" were conducted from the beginning of the NATO
20 air-strikes against Serbia
21 A. The interviews that formed the basis for the sections in "Under
22 Orders" that deal with the period of NATO bombing come to approximately
24 Q. Thank you. And now tell me how many people you yourself
25 interview from May 1998 until March 1999, when the bombing started?
1 A. I have to go through my records to answer that question. I don't
2 know. I can give you an estimate, but I don't know for sure. It's all
3 in my notes. I can tell you I have five or six notebooks in total. The
4 total must come in the hundreds.
5 Q. Thank you. You told us that in July you came in Kosovo and
6 Metohija. Do you remember when was it that you left for Djakovica?
7 A. I don't recall the date. It's available in "Under Orders" when I
8 conducted the interviews. That information is available but not -- I'm
9 not recalling it at this moment.
10 Q. Thank you. But you recall quite well the dates that were
11 mentioned by witnesses about the events in Meja; am I right?
12 A. The Meja events were on April 27th. That's the date of the
14 Q. Thank you. And the photographs were taken in June, and you don't
15 think that the crime scenes were not changed between the time when the
16 crimes that the witnesses told you about were committed until the time
17 when you took the photographs?
18 A. Which photographs are you referring to?
19 Q. I'm talking about the photograph that you took in Meja and you
20 say that there were also some bodies that you saw lying by the road. Did
21 you photograph those bodies?
22 A. Those photographs were taken by my colleague Joanne Mariner.
23 Q. So you didn't take photographs in Djakovica, Meja in July 1999?
24 A. I have to check my records to answer accurately.
25 Q. Thank you. Well, regardless of who took the photographs, what
1 reliable way did you use to determine whether a body that was on the
2 photograph actually was there since April or May 1999?
3 A. I'm not prepared to make any comment on the length of time which
4 that body was lying there, not having been there myself. I have to
5 consult with "Under Orders" to give you a more precise answer.
6 Q. But yesterday, Mr. Abrahams, you told us that there was a
7 striking similarity between the statements you took in Albania from
8 persons that you interviewed and your findings in the village of Meja
9 where you actually found those bodies lying by the road.
10 MS. KRAVETZ: Your Honour, I would again ask my colleague for a
11 reference where the witness yesterday said he found bodies lying by the
12 road. That is not my recollection of his testimony.
13 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, my associate will
14 find this part of the transcript from yesterday.
15 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
16 While that's happening, Mr. Abrahams, perhaps you could remind
17 the Chamber, is it your recollection that you did find bodies lying by
18 the road in Meja?
19 THE WITNESS: Your Honour, my colleague Joanne Mariner did when
20 she entered a few days after the war stopped, June 14th approximately,
21 but I myself did not. I entered Meja in July and did not witness any of
22 those bodies.
23 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
24 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I will be able to
25 find that, but it's immaterial because we have the transcript for
1 yesterday and the answer from today, and then it will be up to the Judges
2 to give proper weight to both.
3 Q. Mr. Abrahams, you say that while you were in the area around
4 Djakovica that you spoke to the villagers about the NATO air-strikes.
5 Did I hear you correctly? Did you say that yesterday?
6 A. We spoke to the residents of Djakovica and the surrounding
7 villages about all events and incidents during the period of NATO
9 Q. Thank you. And did you ask NATO to provide you reports as to
10 what the targets were around Djakovica in this period, from the
11 24th of March until the 20th of June?
12 A. We produced a detailed report about NATO's conduct during the
13 war, which resulted in civilian deaths, and my colleagues who conducted
14 that research did communicate with NATO, to the best of my knowledge,
15 about those matters.
16 Q. Thank you. Did you ask the Yugoslav and Serbian authorities to
17 provide you with the details about NATO air-strikes in that area where
18 you were and where you were conducting your inquiries in and around
20 A. Yes, we did.
21 Q. Thank you. And those reports of the Serbian authorities, are
22 they contained in your report, "Under Orders"?
23 A. The information is provided in most detail in the report about
24 the NATO conduct. I forget the title of that report precisely, but it
25 documents approximately 90 incidents in which roughly 500 civilians in
2 report are reproduced in "Under Orders."
3 Q. Thank you.
4 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I think it is time
5 for our technical break.
6 JUDGE PARKER: We will have the second break now and resume at
8 --- Recess taken at 12.29 p.m.
9 --- On resuming at 1.06 p.m.
10 JUDGE PARKER: Yes, Mr. Djurdjic.
11 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
12 Q. Mr. Abrahams, regarding the events in Djakovica and the area
13 around it in 1999, in March and in subsequent months, did you talk to any
14 ethnic Serbs?
15 A. By that point, in Djakovica the Serbian community was small to
16 not existent, having left or been kicked out of the area by the -- by
17 ethnic Albanians, but we did speak with some Serbs and particularly in
18 Prizren, which is -- had a larger population.
19 Q. Thank you. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but in this
20 publication of yours, "Under Orders," I can see that the date of
21 publication is 2001.
22 A. Correct.
23 Q. And by October 2001, you were unable to find any ethnic Serbs
24 from Djakovica in the area around it to verify the information that you
1 A. I have to check my records as to whether we interviewed any Serbs
2 from the Djakovica area. I don't recall at this moment.
3 Q. Thank you. You gave a statement to the investigators of this
4 Tribunal in March 1999; am I right?
5 A. I believe that's correct, yes.
6 Q. Thank you.
7 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Now I would like us to look at
8 Exhibit P738, and I apologise in advance if I am wrong and if I fail to
9 get the right page number because this is a 92 bis statement that
10 contains three statements in itself. But I was really careful when
11 preparing the references. Could we please have page 11 in the English
12 version? I'm reading. These are references for the 92 bis package, or,
13 rather, the page numbers go from 41 to 1, and they're handwritten, and
14 this should be page 11 in the 1999 statement. That's 31, so I need 11.
15 Well, my associate tells me that it's actually page 38. No, that's not
16 the one. It says here 4. I need page 31.
17 Q. Mr. Abrahams, yes, here in paragraph 2 of your statement, you
19 "On the 23rd of June, 1998, I also interviewed a number of
20 injured soldiers in Tirana ..." and you say that you provided the details
21 of these witnesses to the International Criminal Tribunal. Do you see
22 this at the end of paragraph 2?
23 "On 23rd of June, 1998, I also ..."
24 A. Yes, I see that.
25 Q. Can you tell me whether you heard from those persons how they got
2 A. I have to check my notes to answer your question, but assumedly
3 that would have been a question of mine.
4 Q. Thank you. So you don't even know the place where they were
6 A. I believe that information is available, but in my notes and not
7 in my memory.
8 Q. Very well. And you go on to say that you provided the details to
9 the International Tribunal about those witnesses. Could you please tell
10 us, when did you provide those details? I assume that this was handed
11 over to the Office of the Prosecutor of the Tribunal.
12 A. I don't recall when. I believe these would have been -- this
13 information would have been provided to one of the investigators and
14 probably one of the investigators that took my statement, but I'm not
15 sure about that fact.
16 Q. So the investigator states in the statement itself that you gave
17 him those details.
18 A. I'm sorry, I don't see that reference in here.
19 Q. Paragraph 2:
20 "I have provided the details of these witnesses to the ICTY."
21 A. Then I certainly did. I just don't recall to whom exactly I
22 provided the details.
23 Q. Well, that's what I'm asking you. Did you before making this
24 statement provide those details to the Office of the Prosecutor of this
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Thank you. And could you please tell me, did you notify the
3 public that the injured KLA members were being treated in the Republic of
5 A. I believe that information is in our reports, but certainly I
6 spoke publicly about it on numerous occasions. The KLA's presence in
7 northern Albania
8 about openly.
9 Q. Thank you. And did you speak openly about the training centres
10 that the KLA ran in Albania
11 A. Yes, and have continued to speak openly about some of those
12 centres including detention facilities that they maintained in parts of
14 Q. Thank you. And did you speak about the arms smuggling from
16 A. Yes, I did, repeatedly.
17 Q. Thank you. And did the Human Rights Watch make a valued
18 judgement of the conduct of the Republic of Albania
19 situation in Kosovo and Metohija?
20 A. What do you mean by a valued judgement?
21 Q. Well, did they take a position in accordance with the
22 international law -- whether it is in accordance with the international
23 law to smuggle arms, treat members of one warring side, and have training
24 centres in its territory while at the same time there was a conflict
25 going on in the neighbouring state? You are an expert in international
2 A. In my opinion, northern Albania at that time was a largely
3 lawless region where a lot of uncontrolled activity went on. So the
4 training centres, detention facilities, and arms smuggling that took
5 place and existed and took place during that time, which definitely did
6 take place during that time, were to a large extent out of control of the
7 Albanian government. That being said, I am convinced -- it is my opinion
8 that the Albanian government knew about the existence of the KLA and its
9 activities and did not take efforts to stop it. That is my opinion.
10 Q. Thank you.
11 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Could you please scroll up a
12 little bit. I want to see the page of this statement to be able to
13 orient myself. Is it uploaded into the system as page 11 or page 4
14 because that will enable me to give you a proper reference because
15 obviously my records are not in line with the way that it is recorded in
16 the system.
17 THE REGISTRAR: That, Your Honours, in e-court is page 31.
18 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Very well. Now my reference is
19 supposed to be page 9 in the English version of this statement made in
20 1999, so that would be page 37 now, then. I'm sorry. Yes.
21 Q. Mr. Abrahams, paragraph 5 from the top, the last sentence:
22 "... I observed a similar pattern: The army shelled from a
23 distance to force the villagers to flee, and then the police moved in on
25 Can you tell us, were you an eye-witness of the pattern you refer
1 to here at any point in time?
2 A. The case that I witnessed to shelling would be Gornje Obrinje in
3 September 1998.
4 Q. You were in the village as the shelling was going on?
5 A. Thankfully, no. I was in Plocica and Mlecan on that day
6 observing -- or hearing -- hearing the sounds of artillery fire and
7 observing Gornje Obrinje in the distance on fire, at least the -- I could
8 see the smoke coming out from the village.
9 Q. Thank you. Were you also able to see the police entering the
10 village of Obrinje?
11 A. No.
12 Q. Thank you. If the interpretation I got was right, the portion of
13 the text I read out to you was that you said:
14 "In a number of villages that I visited where I conducted
15 research, I observed a similar pattern ..."
16 In other words, you observed a pattern which the police forces
17 consistently adopted; is that right?
18 A. That's correct.
19 Q. Thank you. Mr. Abrahams, did it seem to you that this same story
20 was told over and over again by all the witnesses who were interviewed by
21 Human Rights Watch?
22 A. I'm sorry, I don't understand the question.
23 Q. The witnesses whose statements you took, did they state the same
24 thing in their statements, that the police would first encircle a place,
25 shell it, and then proceed to enter it?
1 A. Every witness statement is unique and reflects the observations
2 of the individual being interviewed. In general, I detected a pattern of
3 behaviour by the Serbian police and Yugoslav Army based on these
4 interviews. And to us, this suggested a standard operating procedure
5 because we saw it repeated in so many villages throughout Kosovo.
6 Q. Thank you. Mr. Abrahams, did you perhaps read the indictment
7 issued against Mr. Slobodan Milosevic or the indictment in the case of
8 Milutinovic et al. or the indictment against the accused Djordjevic, in
9 the present case?
10 A. I have read the indictment against Slobodan Milosevic and Milan
11 Milutinovic et al., but I have not read the indictment against the
12 accused in court today.
13 Q. Thank you. I will ask you about one part which talks about the
14 underlying crimes or where it is also stated that the Serbian forces
15 encircle villages, shell them, and then proceed to enter them. Is this
16 something that you noticed or found in the two indictments that you read?
17 A. I'm not sure how to answer that question. I read those
18 indictments, and if this citation is indeed taken from them, then I would
19 have read that line as well. But I'm not sure what you're asking me.
20 I'm sorry.
21 Q. I'm simply asking you about the pattern of behaviour concerning
22 the underlying crimes, where the Serbian forces would encircle a village,
23 shell it, enter a village, and then proceed to do what the indictment
24 alleges they did. Did you read something of the sort in these
1 A. I do not recall every detail of the indictment.
2 Q. Very well. Let's move on. Mr. Abrahams, you told us yesterday
3 that you heard from an Albanian journalist who worked for "Koha Ditore"
4 that something had been going on in Gornje Obrinje and that therefore you
5 went there on the 29th of September, 1998; is my understanding correct?
6 A. That is correct.
7 Q. Thank you. Looking at your March 1999 statement, which should be
8 the portion at page 38 -- I hope I'm right -- no.
9 I will find the precise reference for you, and we'll read out
10 what it is. That's page 34. That should be the second paragraph from
11 the bottom, Mr. Abrahams.
12 "On the evening of the 28th of September, I heard reports of
13 incidents at Obrinje ..."
14 Have you found the paragraph? That's the second paragraph from
15 the bottom [In English] -- 28th.
16 A. Yes, I see it.
17 Q. [Interpretation] Does this part of your statement say that you
18 had heard of the incidents at Gornje Obrinje on the 28th of September at
19 the American embassy at KDOM and that you had heard there that something
20 had been going on at Obrinje?
21 A. I can clarify. I first heard about the alleged incident on
22 September 28th in the evening, and the next morning my colleague and I
23 went to the office of the KDOM. It's the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer
24 Missions. It had three components: EU, Russian, and American, and we
25 went to the American component. We went there to see whether they had
1 any information about this incident, and indeed, they told us that they
2 did. They did not provide any details, but they said, Yes, we are aware
3 that something took place in that area. So that was a further reason for
4 us to pursue the topic and visit the village.
5 Q. Thank you. Did you cooperate with the US KDOM office?
6 A. No, we did not. But maybe you should clarify what you mean by
7 "cooperate" so I can be precise.
8 Q. Well, for instance, by exchanging information, you giving them
9 information, they giving you information.
10 A. We had no cooperation on a formal level, but in an informal way,
11 as this exchange on September 29th indicates, they were at times willing
12 to provide us with very basic and rudimentary information, such as, Yes,
13 we are aware that something took place in that village. But they never
14 provided anything in any way of a more substantive nature.
15 Q. Thank you. And did you provide them with information that you
16 had in order to ensure that they are kept abreast as an observer mission?
17 A. We undertook no specific efforts to inform or update the KDOM of
18 US, EU, or Russia
19 available to them, as they were to all diplomatic and international
21 Q. Thank you. In view of the standing of the Human Rights Watch,
22 did you have knowledge about the nature and the extent of relations of
23 the higher levels of Human Rights Watch with the US KDOM or the other
24 office or other international organisations that were involved in this
25 process in that period of time?
1 A. As the responsible Balkans researcher at that time, I would have
2 been aware of any communication between my organisation and international
3 organisations or governments.
4 Q. Thank you. Let's turn to the following page of the English
5 version. Paragraph 3, Mr. Abrahams, do you see the sentence which says:
6 "Some people who told us what they believed had happened ..."
7 That's right?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. There you say, Mr. Abrahams:
10 "Some people who told us what they believed had happened had run
11 away when police came. They had not seen the incidents themselves."
12 Is that right? Is that indeed what you said in your statement,
13 Mr. Abrahams?
14 A. That's correct.
15 Q. Thank you. Am I right if I say that you yourself did not testify
16 to the incidents at Gornje Obrinje either?
17 A. To the actual killings, no, I was not a witness.
18 Q. Am I right if I say that fighting was going on at Gornje Obrinje
19 between the KLA and the Serbian forces?
20 A. There was fighting going on on the -- at least the 25th and 26th,
22 Q. Thank you. Am I right if I say that the KLA forces withdrew from
23 Gornje Obrinje into the woods?
24 A. I'm not aware of the precise movements of the KLA, but generally
25 speaking, when faced with greater fire-power they did retreat into --
1 away from the combat areas.
2 Q. Thank you. Thank you. Again, we're coming to an area of a
3 pattern, Mr. Abrahams. In the course of your research, did you observe
4 the fact that the pattern of able-bodied men fleeing villages upon the
5 sight of Serbian forces arriving and taking to the woods?
6 A. It was common for ethnic Albanian men to flee their villages when
7 they saw security forces advancing, usually, they said, out of fear of
8 what would happen to them.
9 Q. Thank you. Now let's talk specifically about 1998. Did the
10 state of Serbia
11 as affluent as that it would shell villages without there being any
12 fighting and that this should happen over and over again?
13 A. I cannot comment as to the affluence of the Serbian or Yugoslav
14 state, but I did document a pattern of indiscriminate fire into villages
15 as well as serious crimes including executions after forces entered those
17 Q. Well, let me ask you this: Why would something be shelled or
18 fired upon in the situation where a village can be entered without any
19 shelling? If no resistance is put up, then other means can be used to
20 enter a village. Will you agree with me?
21 A. I don't know why shelling was used, but I'm also not denying that
22 the KLA was present in some villages in question. I'm not denying that
23 the KLA engaged in hostilities against Serbian and Yugoslav forces. I'm
24 also not denying that the KLA repeatedly violated international
25 humanitarian law in its own actions, but none of that justifies the
1 unlawful behaviour of the Serbian and Yugoslav forces.
2 Q. Thank you. Once again, we've come into the realm of opinions,
3 but it will be up to the Trial Chamber to assess that. Am I right if I
4 say, Mr. Abrahams, that you were communicating with some individuals from
5 the Finnish forensic team which was supposed to carry out an exhumation
6 at Gornje Obrinje?
7 A. That's correct.
8 Q. Can you pin-point when exactly it was that you were in contact
9 with members of the Finnish forensic team?
10 A. I have to check my records to be sure, but I believe I spoke with
11 members of that team in November and maybe December 1999 when they were
12 attempting to enter Gornje Obrinje to conduct an exhumation, but they
13 were blocked by the Serbian police.
14 Q. Thank you. According to my information, it was on the
15 10th of December that the Finnish forensic team together with an
16 investigating judge of the Pristina district court and a deputy of the
17 public prosecutor, together with the police, set out for Obrinje to carry
18 out an exhumation of the bodies at Gornje Obrinje. Did you have that
19 sort of information too?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Thank you. Did you have information to the effect that next to
22 the village of Trstenik close to Gornje Obrinje, the convoy which was
23 supposed to carry out the exhumation was pulled over or stopped because a
24 KLA check-point was present nearby?
25 A. I am not aware of the details of the incident you are suggesting,
1 but I do recall speaking with a member of the forensic team who said that
2 the Serbian police had restricted the movement of the forensic team.
3 Q. Do you know which member of the forensic team that was? Can you
4 name him?
5 A. I would have to check my notes.
6 Q. Thank you. Are you aware that in relation to this failed attempt
7 at exhumation, both the KDOM and the OSCE were informed?
8 A. I'm not aware of what information came to KDOM or the OSCE.
9 Q. Thank you.
10 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I think our time for
11 this session is up.
12 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Djurdjic.
13 We must now adjourn for the day, to continue tomorrow at 2.15 in
14 the day. Again, an officer of the court will give you more detailed
15 instructions. There is no particular matter that requires attention at
16 the moment, so we will simply adjourn.
17 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1.47 p.m.
18 to be reconvened on Thursday, the 7th day of
19 May, 2009, at 2.15 p.m.