A. The Conflict in Busovaca: January 1993

  1. The discussion proceeds chronologically, location by location, broadly in the order in which the alleged attacks on the towns and villages are listed in the Indictment , i.e., Busovaca, Vitez, Stari Vitez, Veceriska, Ahmici (and Nadioci, Pirici and Santici), Loncari (with Merdani and Putis), Ocehnici, Rotilj, Kiseljak, Zenica, Tulica, Han Ploca–Grahovci, Zepce and Stupni Do. The prosecution case is that these attacks were all part of a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing on the part of the Bosnian Croats: they followed a pattern and exhibited the same characteristics of the use of military force to subdue and remove the Muslim population (an objective in which they were largely successful).

  2. The New Year saw the beginning of the first major conflict. The year began with peace talks and a plan but soon degenerated into conflict, first in Gornji Vakuf and then in Busovaca.

    1. The Vance-Owen Peace Plan

  3. On 2 January 1993, Peace Talks, attended by President Izetbegovic, Dr. Karadzic, Mr. Boban, President Tudjman and the President of the FRY, Mr. Cosic, took place in Geneva. Mr. Vance and Lord Owen put forward a peace plan and a proposed provincial map. At the end of the talks Mate Boban signed the provincial map: others did not. A second round of talks took place between 23–30 January 1993.974 The Vance-Owen Peace Plan (as it was called) involved the establishment of 10 provinces or cantons in Bosnia and Herzegovina, each containing a provincial government headed by the representatives of the ethnic majority in the canton: interim provincial governments were to be set up on the basis of the composition of the population according to the 1991 census.975 The Bosnian Croats would be in a majority in three of the provinces, numbered 3, 8 and 10. Central Bosnia would form Province 10 and would include the municipalities of Travnik, Novi Travnik, Vitez, Busovaca, Fojnica, Gornji Vakuf and part of Kiseljak . According to the Prosecution, the plan, or rather the Bosnian Croat interpretation of it, was to be used as a pretext by the HVO in order to try and establish ethnically pure cantons in those where they were in a majority. The prosecution case is that the Croats interpreted the plan in a way to suit their ends: once the interpretation was not accepted there was no reason for restraint and the Croats attempted to achieve their ends by violence.976 This determination led to a sharp deterioration in the situation. As a senior military witness put it: after the Vance-Owen Peace Plan was announced the situation broke down, particularly in Gornji Vakuf and along the Lasva Valley and there was a general breakdown in the alliance of the HVO and ABiH.977

  4. This is disputed by the Defence. According to the Defence, the plan was a temporary one: as was its requirement for the ABiH forces to be put under HVO command , and vice-versa. Witness DJ, a senior Croat politician, testified that the Croats did not try to take advantage of the Vance-Owen Peace Plan to conquer Central Bosnia , as towns and villages with a Croat majority were surrounded by places with a Muslim majority.978 Another witness claimed that from 1992-1994 a primary goal of the Muslims was to separate Central Bosnia from Herzegovina in order to allow the Muslims to consolidate their hold on Central Bosnia and control its strategic heavy industries and central communication routes .979 The same witness testified that, in his opinion, the Vance-Owen Peace Plan further exacerbated the conflict in Central Bosnia, because the Muslims were not satisfied with the land allocated to them under the plan in Central Bosnia.980

    2. The Conflict in Gornji Vakuf

  5. Gornji Vakuf is a town of strategic importance at a crossroads en route to Central Bosnia. It is 48 kilometres from Novi Travnik and about one hour’s drive from Vitez in an armoured vehicle.981 According to the 1991 census the population of Gornji Vakuf municipality was 25, 000 with 5,000 in the town itself: the Muslims accounted for 56 per cent of the total population and the Croats 43 per cent.982 A Britbat company, (B Company of the Cheshire Regiment) was stationed in Gornji Vakuf at the time and the Officer-in-Command, Major Alistair Rule, gave evidence about the conflict which was the start of the fighting in Central Bosnia. He said that the fighting broke out in Gornji Vakuf on 11 January 1993, sparked by a bomb which had been placed in a Muslim-owned hotel used as a headquarters. A general outbreak of fighting followed and there was heavy shelling of the town that night . During cease-fire negotiations at the Britbat HQ, Colonel Andric, who was representing the HVO, demanded that the Muslim forces lay down their arms and accept HVO control of the town. These demands were unacceptable to the Muslims and Colonel Andric threatened that if they did not agree he would flatten Gornji Vakuf.983 The witness said that at no stage were significant reinforcements reported to him and that he saw no Mujahedin in Gornji Vakuf and his soldiers did not see any984 (contrary to the claims made at a press conference at which Colonel Blaskic and Mr. Kordic were present).985 The witness also said that he did not agree with Colonel Stewart (in the latter’s book )986 that the fighting in Gornji Vakuf started spontaneously.987 (When he was asked about this during his evidence Colonel Stewart said that, thinking now, it was perhaps the Vance-Owen Peace Plan which was the cause of the fighting .988)

  6. Meanwhile, tensions arose elsewhere. On 10 January 1993, an HVO/HOS convoy was reported to have entered Novi Travnik with 150-200 soldiers from the Mostar/ Grude area: the situation was reported as being tense. A group of about 150-200 soldiers was reported to have arrived in Vitez on 8 January from Mostar.989 More significantly, the Croatian Defence Council of Herzeg-Bosna, at a special meeting in Mostar on 15 January, decided “in line with the … Geneva Agreement” that all units of the ABiH currently in Provinces 3, 8 and 10 (“which were proclaimed Croatian in the … Agreements”) were to be subordinate to the main HQ of the HVO while units of the HVO in Provinces 1, 5 and 9, where the Muslims were in a majority, were to be subordinate to the ABiH Command: (this decision was to be implemented by 20  January 1993). Thus was the decision made to take full military control of Central Bosnia. As a result, Colonel Blaskic gave orders for full combat readiness to all formations of the HVO in the CBOZ.990

  7. On 19 January 1993 the ECMM reported a meeting with Jadranko Prlic (President of the HVO), Arif Pasalic (Commander 4th Corps, ABiH) and Milivoj Petkovic, (HVO Chief of Staff), which reveals much of the thinking of the HVO at the time. While the parties agreed to an immediate cease-fire in Gornji Vakuf, the main contention between them was reported to be “the fate of the … troops in the process … started in Geneva”. The HVO was reported as taking for granted that Cantons 8 and 10 will be under its control and wanting to incorporate all armed troops under its command . Jadranko Prlic blamed the trouble in Gornji Vakuf on Muslim extremists and said that the decision of the HVO to take control of the troops in its areas by 20 January was merely a consequence of the document signed in Geneva.991 (However, it is the prosecution case that this was the first of two sets of ultimatums issued by the Croats in 1993, for their own ends; and heavy Croat attacks coincided with both expiry dates.)992

  8. The Defence, in relation to these matters, relies on the testimony of Brigadier Luka Sekerija, the HVO officer and the only witness from Gornji Vakuf, who was directly involved in the events there and who testified that the fighting was caused by an all-out attack by ABiH forces on the HVO positions on 11 January 1993.993 According to the witness, in his post-war conversations with the local ABiH officers , they said that their orders had been to force Croats out of Gornji Vakuf, first in October 1992 and then again in January 1993,994 as the area “was the front door to Central Bosnia”995 and, thus, of considerable strategic significance. The Defence also relies on an ECMM report of 19 January which states that, in addition to “a lot of mutual accusations and bitterness”, the ABiH commander in Gornji Vakuf recognised that the responsibility for the fighting “could be shared with some Muslim extremists”.996 Brigadier Sekerija testified that on the day that the conflict broke out, he personally proposed the establishment of a Muslim-Croat joint command to “bring the tension down”.997

    3. The Conflict in Busovaca

  9. It was against this background that the first really serious conflict in the war between Bosnian Croats and Muslims took place. According to the Prosecution it led to the various offences alleged in Counts 1-2, 3-4, 5-6 and 7-13 in the Indictment . The trouble started with incidents at a checkpoint established by the ABiH at Kacuni, south of Busovaca and controlling the road to Kiseljak. An incident there led to the murder of Mirsad Delija, a Bosnian Muslim resident of Busovaca, on the afternoon of 20 January 1993. It is the prosecution case that Kordic was implicated in this murder, a charge rejected by the Defence. The Prosecution called Witness AE who was on duty at the checkpoint under the leadership of Miralem Delija, the brother of Mirsad. According to Witness AE, Kordic was among the occupants of four vehicles which came to the checkpoint that afternoon. Miralem Delija approached the cars and asked the occupants for identification. There was then an altercation during which Miralem Delija took the pistol of one of the occupants. Kordic remonstrated with Miralem Delija and threatened that he “would pay for this”. The witness was 4-5 metres away at the time. The men at the checkpoint were ordered to let the vehicles go, which they did.998 Mirsad Delija was shot at his home in Busovaca shortly after the incident.999 Miralem Delija was himself subsequently killed during the conflict.1000 (It was put to Witness AE that he was mistaken in his evidence that Kordic was present : he said that he knew Kordic and saw him there.)1001 The Prosecution also called Witness T who gave evidence of an account, which he had heard second-hand, of Kordic issuing a threat to Miralem Delija at the checkpoint and Mirsad being shot three quarters of an hour later.1002

  10. The defence case is that Kordic was not present at the checkpoint at all and Kostroman was detained there.1003 The Defence relies on two documents: (i) entries in the CBOZ Duty Officer’s Log : 20 January 1993, 16.50: It was reported that Kostroman was disarmed at the barricade in Kacuni. 17.55: report that Kostroman had been released with the prompt intervention of D. Kordic;1004 and (ii) a report from the Nikola Subic (NS) Zrinski Brigade concerning the kidnapping of Kostroman at Kacuni on 20 January. (The same report states that Mirsad Delija was shot and wounded when, carrying hand grenades, he approached military police who were searching his apartment; and died on the way to hospital.)1005

  11. In the light of this evidence Prosecuting Counsel conceded in his closing speech that Kostroman (and not Kordic) was stopped at the checkpoint: however, counsel submitted that Kordic was involved in Kostroman’s release.1006 However, the fact that Kordic assisted in the release of a colleague does not mean that he participated in the murder; and the Trial Chamber’s findings are that the alleged involvement of Dario Kordic in this crime is not made out.

  12. The second incident occurred at the Kacuni checkpoint on 24 January 1993 when an exchange of fire occurred between the HVO and the ABiH in the presence of UNPROFOR and two Croats were killed.1007 The Defence relies on two documents in relation to this incident. The first is an extract from Colonel Stewart’s diary, which states: “All hell was happening on the road to Kiseljak. Apparently an HVO vehicle following Sergeant Smith’s two Warriors was attacked by Muslims in the village of Kacuni and in the resultant events two HVO soldiers were killed. Both sides, Croats and Muslims are having ‘a go’ at one another … ”.1008 There is also an entry noting his visit to the ABiH commander of the 3rd Corps, General Had ‘ihasanovic, to whom he complained that the Muslims had started the trouble. The second document is a Milinfosum stating, in part, that several Croat houses around the two checkpoints were burning, “the occupants having been ethnically cleansed by the Bosnian army”.1009

  13. On 25 January 1993, at about 5.30 or 6 a.m., the HVO attacked Kadica Strana , the Muslim part of Busovaca.1010 There was much shooting and later there was also shelling from the surrounding hills .1011 A loudspeaker called on Muslims to surrender.1012 A witness saw soldiers with HV and HVO patches and with HOS insignia, as well as soldiers from a brigade from Herzegovina participating in the attack.1013 Evidence was given that certain Muslims had been warned of this attack by Croat colleagues or friends.1014 The remaining Muslims in the town (around 90 in all) were rounded up in the square. Women and children (around 20 in total) were allowed to return home and the men (70 in all), some as young as 14-16 years, were loaded onto buses and taken to Kaonik camp.1015

  14. The attack on Busovaca resulted in many deaths although the precise number is not clear. Witness B made a list of 27 Muslims, all of whom had died a violent death.1016 A police report shows that 43 people were murdered in Busovaca in January and February 1993.1017 (The violence was to continue after the January attack.)1018

  15. Witness AS, a Bosnian Muslim member of the Jokers, gave evidence of taking part in what he called a “cleansing operation” launched by the HVO in Busovaca municipality . He said that the forces involved were the military police, units of the Ludvig Pavlovic Brigade, companies of the Viteska Brigade and the Vitezovi.1019 In a significant piece of evidence the witness said that the official policy of the HVO was to call every operation “defensive”, never an attack or offensive operation . The witness’s commander, Pasko Ljubicic, said to his unit: “It’s begun in Busova ca. Our guys from Busovaca are already there, but we need more people”. The campaign required a huge logistical effort and preparation and, for many days before its start, trucks laden with armaments and ammunition were being sent from Novi Travnik to Busovaca.1020

  16. The fighting spread to the whole territory of Busovaca. Thus, on 25 January 1993, the HVO shelled the village of Merdani. Witness A saw the shelling that morning at about 6 a.m. Buildings were destroyed and the civilian population ran up a hill in the direction of Zenica: the witness participated in getting buses to help evacuate the population.1021

  17. As a result of the reports of the two Croats having been killed in Kacuni, Major Jennings, a Britbat Company Commander, went to collect the bodies on 25 January 1993. When he did so he came across a firefight at Kaonik junction. On going into Kacuni, the witness found buildings on fire and the road blocked by the ABiH with a log lorry at a bridge. The witness saw HVO soldiers firing at civilian houses in Kacuni with a wombat-type weapon (anti-tank weapon).1022 The fighting between the ABiH and the HVO continued until nightfall.1023 On 26 January the ABiH refused to unblock the road. It was then agreed that Britbat would man a United Nations checkpoint on the bridge. However, the HVO later fired three rounds of heavy artillery fire, 120mm., at the bridge, hitting a Warrior armoured vehicle. This fire continued for an hour: the witness could see no military target and concluded that he was the target.1024 Also on 26 January the witness patrolled in Donji Polje and saw HVO soldiers leaving houses which then caught fire. He saw a number of houses which had been burned.1025 (In cross-examination the Defence pointed out that the census shows no Muslims in the village.)1026 However, the witness said that the destruction was also along the road to Kacuni.1027

  18. Meanwhile, UNPROFOR HQ in Kiseljak reported that tensions had increased in Central Bosnia, particularly where there was no clear ethnic majority in a municipality : “over the past week, the political and military leaders of the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna have begun to implement their ‘understanding’ of the proposed settlement … [and made a] grab for control of provinces 3, 8 and 10”.1028 This was later underscored by an ECMM Report to the effect that the alliance against the Bosnian Serbs had held until the growing tension between the Bosnian Croats and Muslims broke into fighting following the HVO Declaration on 15 January 1993 .1029

  19. On the other hand, Witness CW1 did not accept that the HVO was the aggressor in Busovaca in January 1993: he said that there was no reason for it since there was free passage between Kiseljak and Busovaca. He did not accept that the Vance -Owen Peace Plan had any significance: it had not been signed and he did not pay any attention to it.1030 The defence case is that the ABiH started the hostilities and that its military objective during the January attack was “to cut off communications at Kaonik and Kacuni”,1031 isolating Busovaca from Vitez and Kiseljak. Major Marko Prskalo stated that the attack was carried out from three sides.1032 Witness CW1 and Brigadier Nakic testified that after 25 January 1993 the HVO no longer had control over the main supply route between Busovaca and Kiseljak, thus causing the Kiseljak and Busovaca areas to be geographically and militarily isolated .1033 The Defence maintains that during the conflict the HVO troops were greatly outnumbered and there were many more ABiH troops attacking the town than HVO troops defending it.1034 The Defence relies on another extract from Colonel Stewart’s diary, to the effect that the Bosnian Muslims were doing everything to create a full-scale war in the Kiseljak Valley.1035 The Defence also relies on the evidence of Witness AS, that during the fighting the HVO military police were never ordered to conduct or conducted offensive operations against civilians or burn Muslim villages:1036 the offensive operations were exclusively directed towards the ABiH forces.1037

  20. The Trial Chamber finds that Witness AS, a participant in the fighting, gave a balanced account of it and accepts his evidence of taking part in a cleansing operation, supported, as it is, by the UNPROFOR report. The Trial Chamber finds that following the ultimatum of 20 January, the HVO attacked the municipality of Busovaca on 25 January 1993, using the incidents at the Kacuni checkpoint as a pretext . The attack involved the use of artillery and infantry and was the beginning of a pattern of attacks in the locality, the purpose of which was to remove or subdue the Muslim population. While there was some defence by the ABiH the Trial Chamber rejects the defence case that the HVO were on the defensive in Busovaca. Accordingly , the Trial Chamber finds that all the elements in the underlying offences relating to Busovaca in the following counts are made out:

    (a) Counts 3-4 (unlawful attacks on civilians and civilian objects);

    (b) Counts 7-13 (wilful killings, murder, inhuman acts and treatment).

    The evidence about the attack on Merdani was inconclusive and the Trial Chamber does not find that the allegations regarding that location in Counts 3-4 are made out. (However, the allegation of destruction in Counts 37 and 38 is made out.)

    4. Role of Dario Kordic

  21. Three pieces of evidence, if they are accepted, closely connect Dario Kordic with the fighting in Busovaca during this period. The first, and potentially most significant, consists of the tape recording of a telephone conversation between Colonel Blaskic and Kordic. The witness who gave evidence about the interception said that it took place on 23 or 24 January 1993.1038 However, the label on the tape refers to “24.01.93”.1039 The prosecution case is that the conversation took place that day at a time when Blaskic was in Kiseljak and Kordic was in Busovaca.1040 This date would be consistent with the events at Kacuni, as set out above. The gist of the conversation was as follows.1041 Early on Kordic said

    “Let’s have that VBR (multiple rocket launcher), friend. Get it ready for me, for Kacuni and Lugovi over here. Let me hear it roar.”

    Blaskic: “When? Now?”

    Kordic: “It doesn’t have to be right away ….”.

    Blaskic: “Well, you just tell me when.”

    Kordic: “Listen! You prepare everything. Select the targets for the mortars and the VBR, and everything there is. Let’s burn everything.”

    Blaskic: “Well, I’ve already prepared that.”

    Kordic: “You prepare everything and we’re also preparing … .”


    Kordic: “Listen! ... Stay there so we can be in touch.”

    Blaskic: “I’m here all the time. No problem.”

    Kordic: “And Batinic [has] got a Nora [a Howitzer] and a VBR ready for Zenica.”

    Blaskic: “That’s good … let him load 40 in the VBR and fire a salvo.”

    Kordic: “I told him … but he won’t do anything without an order. I told him we would strike if Zenica reacts. Otherwise we won’t. Just Kacuni.”

    Blaskic then said that he had been asked to appear on television. He asked Kordic whether he should get in touch or not. Kordic told him to forget it and say (as an excuse) that his funeral had been scheduled. The conversation went on:

    Kordic: “They killed two of our boys, friend.”

    Blaskic: “Two?”

    Kordic: “Two of our boys, they killed them perfidiously, from behind. At the checkpoint in Kacuni.”1042

    Blaskic: “And them?”

    Kordic: “Only one of theirs.”


    Kordic: “One hundred should be [killed] for every one, friend.”


    Kordic: “Well, that’s it.”

    Blaskic: “OK, and we’ll agree on what comes next.”

    Kordic: “You just squeeze them all. And keep an eye especially on those in Fojnica and Kakanj and Visoko over here.”

    Blaskic: “OK!”

  22. The Defence submits that the tone, and frequent laughter, in the recording shows that the telephone conversation is an example of banter and bravado to be expected in times of danger between people who know each other well, despite the serious context of escalating violence.1043 However, in the Trial Chamber’s view, the recording demonstrates more than mere bravado and shows Dario Kordic participating in the conduct of military affairs and, seemingly, enjoying it.

  23. There is, furthermore, confirmation of the above in three pieces of documentary evidence. First, a report, dated 8 February 1993, from the Chief of Artillery for the CBOZ concerning requests by Colonel Kordic for the use of artillery in the preceding days, as follows:

    (a) 26 January: (i) “action be taken on Hill 749 (Zminjac) with the Nora”;

    (ii) “try and turn the Nora around in 30 minutes and fire one shell”.

    (b) 28 January: Targets in Lasva and another village be “processed with the 107mm VBR [multiple rocket launcher] which was done within 60 minutes”.

    (c) 4 February: Dusina and Merdani to be “processed with the VBR”.1044

    Next, in an entry in the CBOZ Duty Officer’s Log:

    29 January 1993, 14.45: Mr. Kordic called and asked for artillery fire to be opened on the region of Besici…. Mr. Kordic called again and asked that the order be carried out (15.00 hours).1045

    Finally, an order from Colonel Blaskic, dated 4 February 1993, “on the basis of an oral order by Colonel Dario Kordic” to fire rockets at Dusina.1046

  24. Secondly, the Prosecution relies on various other documents in this connection:

    (a) On 10 January 1993, during, or just before, the fighting in Gornji Vakuf, Brigadier Luka Sekerija, the HVO commander there, sent a “Military – Secret” request to Colonel Blaskic and Dario Kordic for rounds of mortar shells available at the SPS factory .1047

    (b) A letter, dated 25 January 1993, from Brigadier Nakic (Chief of Staff of CBOZ ) to Colonel Blaskic and Colonel Kordic, informing them that Colonel Stewart of UNPROFOR had asked to meet Colonel Blaskic “today”.1048

    (c) An order from Brigadier Petkovic (Chief of Staff of the HVO) dated 26 January 1993 , to CBOZ that HVO units to be in full combat readiness: this order was to be delivered to “Colonel Dario Kordic, Colonel Blaskic”, and was marked “Military Secret, Strictly Confidential”.1049

    (d) A report of 26 January 1993 from Brigadier Nakic that the Vitezovi unit was engaged at the order of “Mr. Colonel Kordic”.1050

    (e) Orders of Colonel Kordic: (i) to the Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade, 30 January 1993 , to send a company of the brigade to Busovaca to carry out combat activity (the order is expressed to be with the agreement of Bruno Stojic: in handwriting it is noted on the order “done according to another order”);1051 (ii) returning the Bruno Busic unit to Novi Travnik, 2 February 1993: the unit is to put itself under the command of the CBOZ upon its return to N. Travnik.1052

    (f) A report of 27 February 1993 to Blaskic from the Deputy Commander of the Vitezovi , that the Vitezovi “after operations by Muslim forces in Busovaca … reports on the order of HZ H-B Vice-President, Colonel Dario Kordic”.1053

    g) A cease-fire agreement of 30 January 1993 (arranged under the auspices of the ECMM and UNPROFOR) was addressed in one version to “Colonel Blaskic and Colonel Kordic” (typewritten) and in another version to “Kordic and Blaskic” (in handwriting).1054 (The fact that the document was addressed to the accused at all (whether or not as “Colonel”) indicates, the Prosecution says, the importance of his position in military affairs.(On 31 January Dario Kordic told a Britbat liaison officer that the HVO would abide by the agreement and would not return fire if shelled by ABiH : however, he stressed that the HVO reserved the right to defend themselves if subject to ABiH attack.1055

    h) A report of a meeting on 1 February 1993 at which the cease-fire was reaffirmed, refers to Colonel Blaskic reported as stating that he was the HVO military commander for the area whereas Colonel Kordic had no military authority.1056 However, on the same day Mr. Kordic at a press conference at Busovaca warned the Muslim population “Do not play with fire. If you attack any other municipalities not only will there be no Bosnia and Herzegovina left but there will be no Muslims left”.1057 (It is challenged that the accused said “do not play with fire”, it being suggested that he said “do not play with it”. 1058

  25. Thirdly, the Prosecution relies on oral evidence. The prosecution case was that during this period Dario Kordic had a headquarters in the basement of the PTT building in Busovaca. It was described in evidence as having a large-scale map in it, marked with the current military situation (on which the accused pointed out the front line to one witness, indicating that Busovaca was surrounded).1059 There was also a fax machine.1060 When Major Jennings visited the office he found Kordic at the head of the table with uniformed personnel down either side and a radio on the desk: this witness thought the office to be a functioning operations room.1061

  26. When Colonel Stewart visited the office on 4 February 1993, Kordic was agitated as it appeared that Busovaca might be cut off from Kiseljak and he asked the witness to stop the fighting.1062 Kordic was dressed in military fatigues and it seemed to the witness that he was the military commander in Busovaca.1063 Asked why he made this assumption, the witness replied that the indication of a military commander is that he sits in an operations room, surrounded by staff, no -one contradicts him and when he gives instructions they are carried out: seeing this in Kordic’s case led to this assumption.1064

  27. The Prosecution also relies on evidence relating to Mr. Kordic’s control over roads, e.g., evidence of his preventing the lifting of a roadblock on the main Vitez -Zenica road;1065 evidence of soldiers at a roadblock, stopping UNPROFOR officers on the Vitez-Busovaca road and telling them that they were not allowed to pass on the orders of Colonel Kordic;1066 the evidence of Kordic arranging for a General in the Dutch Army to pass through a checkpoint on the Kiseljak-Busovaca road.1067

  28. The prosecution evidence on the role of the accused may be summarised as follows : (a) before the conflict he was already in a position of political and military authority in Central Bosnia, particularly in Busovaca; (b) on 24 January he was ordering Blaskic to fire at Kacuni and at about the same time was giving orders or making other requests for the use of artillery; (c) the documentary evidence establishes that he was giving other military commands; (d) he had a military headquarters in Busovaca in which he was seen acting as commander; and (e) he demonstrated control over roadblocks in the area.

  29. On the other hand, the Defence, in answer to the prosecution evidence about Mr. Kordic’s role, points to a number of Milinfosums and other documents which refer to others as commander of the HVO in Busovaca in the relevant period, December 1992 – February 1993.1068 The Defence maintains that Kordic had no military power, did not and was not in a position to order military attacks. To this end a great deal of evidence was called to show that Kordic played no military part in the conflict and simply wished to help his people: the Defence relies on this evidence in respect of Kordic’s alleged role in the Busovaca conflict.1069 For example, Brigadier Grubesic stated that Mr. Kordic was a politician and not a military commander; that he was under a lot of pressure from the civilian population, especially after the fall of Jajce in late October 1992 and onward, that this pressure culminated during the January attack on Busovaca; and that Kordic wanted to help every man .1070

  30. The Trial Chamber finds that Dario Kordic was implicated in the attack on Busova ca as a leader exerting both political and military authority. The Trial Chamber draws this inference from the evidence of the audio-tape, the documentary evidence and the evidence of the accused’s use of an HQ and his control over the roads. The Trial Chamber is satisfied that there is no truth in the evidence put forward by the Defence that the accused played no military part in the conflict and was simply helping his people.

    B. The Interlude in February – March 1993

  31. The cease-fire, arranged on 30 January 1993, was to last until 16 April when the major conflagration occurred in Vitez and the Lasva Valley. There was no relevant national or international event. However, the Prosecution relies on evidence, which it asserts demonstrates the power and influence of Dario Kordic.

    1. The Role of Dario Kordic

  32. The first area of evidence relates to Mr. Kordic’s continued authority over roads and roadblocks. Thus, on 3 February 1993, Dario Kordic complained to Major Jennings that the ABiH had fired on HVO engineers attempting to remove a roadblock and threatened to hold up a prisoner exchange until this was sorted out.1071 (The Defence disputed that Kordic said this: however, the witness made a contemporaneous note and the Trial Chamber accepts his evidence.(Four days later, Kordic permitted the unblocking of the main Zenica-Vitez road where the HVO had put a lorry (said to have explosives under its bonnet) as a roadblock.1072 On 22 February Dario Kordic set up roadblocks on the routes into Busovaca on the grounds that the town had only one aid delivery in 39 days and he wanted to draw attention to it:1073 Colonel Bla skic agreed to open the road but Kordic would not agree and said that Blaskic’s word on this did not matter.1074 A few days later Dario Kordic arranged for the return of a Mercedes Jeep which belonged to the Dutch Transport Battalion and which had been hijacked at gunpoint on the Vitez by-pass.1075

  33. In March 1992 Colonel de Boer, Commanding Officer of the Dutch Transport Battalion , went to the PTT building with General Morillon in order to negotiate the release of three Muslim girls who were being held by the HVO. Colonel de Boer’s evidence was that he and General Morillon went to an operations room in the basement of the PTT building where he found people in camouflage uniform, including Zoran Maric, the Mayor of Busovaca. Dario Kordic was also there in uniform (with an HVO patch ) and conducted the meeting while Zoran Maric remained silent.1076 The girls were released: the accused having made the decision to release them.1077

  34. However, according to the Prosecution, Dario Kordic’s influence was not limited to the roads or to Busovaca. In late January 1993 he was sending instructions to the Bobovac Brigade in Vares to release one Muslim prisoner and detain another indefinitely ;1078 and on 2 February he sent an order to the CBOZ to hold up an exchange of prisoners.1079 A further incident occurred in late February 1993 when a “Muslim” flag was placed on the chimney of the SPS factory. Dario Kordic insisted that it be removed. There was opposition on the ground that to do so would cause conflict. However, Kordic’s view prevailed and Blaskic instructed the military police to comply with Kordic’s order.1080

  35. According to the Prosecution the final piece of evidence from this period demonstrates (a) Dario Kordic’s control over Colonel Blaskic and (b) Kordic’s power over the crowds which were used to block the roads. The evidence relates to another taped telephone conversation between Kordic and Blaskic. This conversation was also subject to interception by the ABiH as was the conversation on 24 January and was placed on the same tape.1081 The date on the label for this conversation is 25 February 1993.1082 It is accepted that the conversation occurred that day and it appears, from an earlier conversation, that Colonel Blaskic was in Kiseljak and Mr. Kordic in Busovaca. The conversation concerns the alleged refusal of UNPROFOR to provide an escort for 723 tons of food, including 22 tons of potatoes, which was waiting to be transported in a convoy to the Croats of the Lasva Valley. At the beginning of the conversation Blaskic informed Kordic of this. The conversation was then recorded as follows :1083

    Kordic: “Very well, then the people will go out again today.”

    Blaskic: “Well, the people should be informed about that and they should go out and block everything … because those potatoes, if they’re not used today, we can throw them away …”

    Kordic: “Listen, call those people in Kiseljak [i.e., UNPROFOR] now and tell them that the traffic will be blocked in central Bosnia unless the potatoes arrive by 1200 hours.”

    Blaskic: “I’ll give them a call ….”


    Blaskic: “And we’ll see how they react. Because they don’t want to send the potatoes …. I have nowhere to put it. So far I kept it in a hangar but it’s going to rot .”

    Kordic: “…. did you tell that to Petkovic?”

    Blaskic: “He knows everything.”

    Kordic: “… what does he say?”

    Blaskic: “The same thing that you’ve just said a few minutes ago.”

    Kordic: “I see.”

    Blaskic: “So then, they should not be allowed to pass through and that’s it.”

    Kordic: “Yeah.”


    Kordic: “Tell them there’s no deal until they let us pass; the Kiseljak-Busova ca road is the condition for further talks.”

    Blaskic: “Yeah.”

  36. The scheme to force UNPROFOR’s hand was successful. In a conversation later the same day, Blaskic reported that the food had left in UNPROFOR trucks.1084 Kordic, having complained of the seriousness of the situation and power shortages , commented “how can there be a joint command with the enemy?” [Laughter.] “I don’t know what that is … ” At which Blaskic complimented him on his sense of humour.

  37. Turning now to the defence case, the Defence asserts that Kordic’s involvement in events at this time was purely as a politician who would naturally be concerned for the welfare of his people and try to care for them as well as possible in the circumstances. The Defence makes the following points:

    (i) With respect to the conversation reported by Major Jennings, the Defence relies on two Milinfosums at the time. The meeting between the witness and Kordic is not mentioned in the first Milinfosum at the time,1085 nor is it mentioned in the next Milinfosum at the time either.1086

    (ii) With respect to the order postponing a prisoner exchange,1087 the Defence notes that it was a revocation under the cease-fire agreement because the Muslims had violated and detained Croat women and children in Katici.1088 At any rate, the Defence argues that the order was issued under the logo of the Busovaca Brigade, was not signed and there is no direct evidence that either was ever known to or authorised by Mr. Kordic.1089

    (iii) With respect to Kordic’s involvement in setting up checkpoints, the Defence argues that this concerned sensitive political matters, given the use of the main roads by UNPROFOR and by humanitarian aid vehicles, and that it is not surprising that Mr. Kordic should take some interest, at times, in those matters.1090

    (iv) With respect to the placing of a “Muslim” flag on the chimney of the SPS factory , the only evidence of Kordic’s involvement comes from the testimony of Witness AT. The Defence attacks the credibility of this witness, as detailed below.

    2. The Role of Mario Cerkez and the Viteska Brigade

  38. Between October 1992 and February 1993, Mario Cerkez was deputy commander of the HVO Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade which covered the Novi Travnik and Vitez municipalities and was based in Novi Travnik. (Zivko Totic, commander of the brigade, said that the Vitez component was 60-120 soldiers strong.1091) In January 1993 relations were already deteriorating between the communities because of the arrival of the Bruno Brusic Brigade from Herzegovina which resulted in an increase in the crime rate and expulsion of Bosnian Muslims.1092 According to one witness, Mario Cerkez threatened in January 1993 that if the ABiH did not accept HVO commands, shelling would begin.1093

  39. On 24 March 1993 Colonel Blaskic appointed Mario Cerkez as the commander of the Viteska Brigade1094 although a list of the command structure, sent by Cerkez to Blaskic on 15 March, contains a complete command already, with Cerkez shown as commander.1095 (It should be noted that an HVO “Brigade” was not the same as a brigade in NATO or other regular forces but simply referred to the troops from a particular town or municipality.) The Viteska Brigade had been formed from the second battalion of the Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade and was based in Vitez itself. Above the Brigade was the CBOZ (commanded by Colonel Blaskic) which reported to General Petkovic (the regional commander).

  40. The Viteska Brigade consisted of a number of battalions. The brigade headquarters was in the Cinema complex in Vitez. According to one outside observer, Colonel Duncan, the forces on the front line were territorially-based and individuals would serve ten days on the line at a time. There were also manoeuvre or special purpose units which could shuttle to places in the Vitez pocket: the witness assumed that they came under the command of the brigade as reinforcements could not be sent into an area with a separate command structure. It would be normal for special units to be attached according to the task of the brigade. In the witness’s view it would not take long for a territorially-based brigade to be combat ready as they had their weapons ready.1096

  41. Evidence about the relations between Mario Cerkez and the special purpose units was given by Anto Breljas, a former political officer and Lieutenant in the Vitezovi , a prominent such group. The Vitezovi were commanded by Darko Kraljevic but, dealing with the command structure, the witness said that the Vitezovi and Viteska Brigade were the same unit: the Vitezovi was the assault unit and the Viteska Brigade were the defensive forces. However, the Vitezovi were not commanded as Darko Kraljevic would not let that happen. Colonel Blaskic could order them in the first half of the conflict where to fight and along which route but that was all. Cerkez commanded Vitez as a whole but orders for the Vitezovi were issued by Darko Kraljevic: Cerkez would not give orders to the Vitezovi. As for their respective roles the witness said that the Vitezovi would launch a first assault and start the street fighting : they would also take watches, gold and money; when that was over, the Viteska Brigade would establish order and collect whatever they could lay their hands on and take that away in trucks. Then the refugees would come to pick out houses for themselves.1097

  42. On behalf of the Defence much evidence was called relating to the formation of the Viteska Brigade. The Defence case is that the formation of the Viteska Brigade did not progress according to the anticipated timetable.1098 The Defence argued that by the time the conflict broke out on 16 April 1993, the Viteska Brigade still was not fully established, because even in times of peace the establishment of a brigade would have taken about six months.1099 Thus, Gordana Badrov gave evidence that she was responsible for organising the Brigade and it was not established by 16 April 1993.1100 The Defence case was also that the HVO was generally disorganised and ill-prepared for the fighting in Central Bosnia in April 1993:1101 some soldiers had to fight in civilian clothes and there was a severe shortage of warm jackets; and the soldiers had mainly personal weapons, such as old rifles. They worked in shifts because the Brigade had no barracks or other accommodation facilities.1102 Anto Bertovic testified that in the days just before the Muslim-Croat conflict broke out on 16 April 1993 , he had eight standing members of the command and about 270 potential troops from which he could draw: they were volunteers, not “conscripts”.1103 The entire potential number was never actually mobilised before 16 April 1993 because there were no accommodation facilities to house this large number.1104 The Trial Chamber also heard evidence that the Viteska Brigade was preparing to fight the Serbs on the Slatka Voda defence line at the time the conflict with the Muslims broke out:1105 an order was issued for heightened readiness for the Bajram Festival in March 1993 as a Serb attack was anticipated.1106

  43. This defence evidence about the state of readiness of the Brigade was contradicted by the documentary evidence produced by the Prosecution. The first mention of the Brigade is found on 1 March 1993.1107 On 20 March Mario Cerkez was requesting complete lists of military-age men in Vitez .1108 By 22 March he was able to set out “the current arrangements of units of the Viteska Brigade” with 240 soldiers in units of 30;1109 and on the same day he referred in a combat report to an anti-sabotage platoon within the brigade .1110 On 10 April, he produced a ‘Mobilisation Development’ for the brigade with a total of 2,481 soldiers.1111 Most significantly, a list of the 1st Battalion of the brigade, dated 14 April, shows 270 personnel in three companies and situated in various villages. By 24 April as many as 23 members of the brigade were listed as killed and 63 as wounded .1112

  44. The prosecution case was supported by a list of members of what is described as the “92nd Home Guard Regiment Viteska” for the period of 8 April 1992 to 22 April 1996, which shows a great many members as joining before 16 April 1993.1113 The Prosecution also relied on a series of files which they had compiled and which related to 38 soldiers of the Viteska Brigade and contained certificates of membership , personal ID numbers and certificates.1114

  45. The Trial Chamber, having considered the evidence, is satisfied that the picture of disorganisation and confusion presented by the Defence is not correct and that the Brigade was sufficiently well organised and established to carry out the tasks allotted to it on 16 April 1993.

    C. The April 1993 Conflagration in Vitez and the Lasva Valley

  46. The prosecution case is that the town of Vitez, together with other locations in the Lasva Valley, came under sustained attack by the HVO in the morning of 16 April 1993. The attack was partly successful and many Muslims were killed or detained . However, the Muslims managed to hold out in the old town, Stari Vitez. The Prosecution alleges that the attack on the town and Muslim villages was part of a preconceived plan of ethnic cleansing and followed the usual pattern of such attacks.

    1. The Background

  47. The events leading to the conflagration were as follows:

    (a) On 27 March 1993 talks between Presidents Izetbegovic and Tudjman resulted in a joint statement in which the Republic of Croatia supported the signing of the Vance-Owen Peace Plan by President Izetbegovic and Mr. Boban and both called for the implementation of the Plan;1115

    (b) On 2 April 1993 a joint statement was issued over the names of President Izetbegovic and Mate Boban, announcing that after signing the Vance-Owen Peace Plan they were in agreement that the armed forces of the ABiH in Provinces 3, 8 and 10 were to be placed under the command of the General Staff of the HVO.1116 (In a letter to Trial Chamber I of the International Tribunal, dated 22 July 1997 , President Izetbegovic stated that he did not sign this declaration and did not remember such a declaration being put forward.)1117

    (c) On 3 April 1993, the HVO leadership met in Mostar to discuss the implementation of the Vance-Owen Peace Plan. The HVO decided to implement the provisions of the Plan in Provinces 3, 8 and 10; the military and police were to come under the authority of the HVO and, in the next few days, members of the HVO were to brief officials in these provinces; and those forces which did not accept the decision should leave the provinces;1118

    (d) On 4 April, according to Reuters, the HVO HQ in Mostar set a deadline for President Izetbegovic to sign the above agreement and stated: “If Izetbegovic fails to sign this agreement by April 15, the HVO will unilaterally enforce its jurisdiction in cantons three, eight and 10”.1119

  48. The prosecution case is that this was the second of the ultimatums issued by the Bosnian Croats and it was no coincidence that an attack followed the expiry date.1120 Thus was the stage set for the conflict which erupted in the Lasva Valley on 16 April 1993, and in the area which came to be known as the “Vitez pocket”.

  49. On the other hand, the defence is that Muslim provocations and assaults against the Bosnian Croats led up to the fighting on 16 April 1993 and that during February and March the ABiH and Mujahedin engaged in attacks against Bosnian Croats. For example, on 17 March, a hand grenade was thrown by ABiH soldiers at the HVO military police headquarters in Travnik.1121 The HVO military police building in Travnik were also shot at on 23 March 1993.1122 Donja Veceriska was similarly attacked.1123 On 17 March, ABiH soldiers riding in a van fired upon HVO troops near Dolac, killing two HVO soldiers.1124 On 28 March , two HVO military police officers were killed at the ABiH Cajdraš checkpoint.1125 On 29 March, an HVO soldier was killed at a cabin being used to house several HVO soldiers and the TO refused to conduct an investigation of the soldier’s death.1126

  50. These events were followed by the approach of Easter Sunday on 11 April 1993 and disputes over the flying of Croatian flags. In a message from Kordic, Ignac Kostroman and Anto Valenta, the Croatian people were told to display more flags.1127 On 10 April 1993, the Tanjug Press Agency reported that clashes between Bosnian Croats and Muslims were escalating; an artillery duel broke out in Travnik over the flying of flags; however, both Muslims and Croats expected the real conflict was to come after 15 April, the deadline set for the withdrawal of Muslim units from the Croat provinces.1128 On 12 April Mario Cerkez sent a protest to the ABiH about the ill-treatment of Croats in Vitez over Easter1129 and the President of the Travnik HVO protested about the armed conflicts during Easter over flag-flying in the town.1130 The Defence also points to other incidents in the town: hand grenades being thrown and the arrest of Croats.1131 On 13 April Muslim forces abducted several HVO officers in Novi Travnik.1132

    2. The Events of 15 April 1993

  51. Matters started coming to a head on 15 April 1993. The Prosecution points out that this was the expiry date of the ultimatum. However, the first violence came from the Muslim side. At about 8 a.m. Zivko Totic, the HVO Zenica Brigade Commander, was ambushed on his way to work: he was abducted and his four escorts and a passer-by (a Muslim) were killed.1133

  52. At some time between 12 noon and 1.30 p.m. a televised press conference was held in the municipal offices in Busovaca at which Kordic and Blaskic were present .1134 The press conference began with the announcement that it was “called in connection with this morning’s events … in Zenica”. An announcement was made concerning the kidnapping of Zivko Totic and the murder of his escorts. A film taken at the scene was played and an announcer listed alleged crimes committed by Muslims since January. There were then speeches by Blaskic, Kordic and Ignac Kostroman. In his speech Dario Kordic said that the morning’s events constituted a clear message of the plans of Muslim extremists that there should be no Croat territory, people or Defence Council; however HVO units were ready to repel all attacks on the territory of the HZ H-B.

    We would like to tell the Croatian people that there is no cause for anxiety or concern. I am sure that the units of the Croatian Defence Council are doing everything that is necessary even as we speak. I am certain that a plan has been made and that the units are ready for combat … . I think we should conclude by saying that the Croatian people should now show their real strength and that in the days to come, we shall transform the psychological stability we have into a final victory and the survival of the Croatian people in this region.1135

  53. At 3 p.m. on 14 April 1993 there was an informal ceremony at the Fire Station in Stari Vitez to mark the anniversary the next day of the founding of the ABiH. Mario Cerkez was present at the ceremony and said that there would never be conflict between the HVO and the ABiH.1136 During the evening of 15 April a joint group of HVO and ABiH appeared on television to say that all misunderstandings had been eliminated, the causes of conflict removed and the population was to remain calm.1137

  54. However, there is direct evidence that the HVO planned an attack for the next day at a series of meetings that afternoon and evening. The evidence was given by Witness AT, himself a senior member of the HVO IV Battalion Military Police. According to the witness the first meeting was a meeting of the political leadership : it took place in Colonel Blaskic’s office at the Hotel Vitez, lasted one and a half hours and Dario Kordic was present at it. The witness was not present himself but saw some of those who did attend, i.e., Ivan Santic, Pero Skopljak and Zoran Maric. He was told about it by Pasko Ljubicic (the Commander of the IV Battalion Military Police) while it was going on: Pasko Ljubicic said that it was a meeting of the political leadership and Kordic was present.1138 There was then a second meeting (also lasting about one and a half hours) in Bla skic’s office, attended by amongst others, Pasko Ljubicic, Ante Sliskovic, Mario Cerkez and Darko Kraljevic. During the meeting Pasko Ljubicic came to the witness’s office in the Hotel Vitez and told him that at the previous meeting a decision had been made that in the morning an attack would be launched against the Muslims (the reason being that a report had been intercepted saying that the Muslims would attack in the morning); and that directions of attack were being determined for the units that were to take part.1139

  55. After the meeting Cerkez and Darko Kraljevic came to the witness’s office: Kraljevic asked, on behalf of Cerkez, for an M-53 machine gun which Cerkez needed for Kruscica “because it would be hard up there”. The witness arranged for Cerkez to have the weapon.1140 Also, after the meeting, according to Witness AT, Pasko Ljubicic ordered some policemen to escort Kordic and Ignac Kostroman to Busovaca to ensure their safety through Ahmici.1141

  56. There then followed a briefing to a company of the IV Battalion Military Police , given by the Commander of the Battalion, Pasko Ljubicic, in the TV room of the Hotel Vitez. Witness AT was present for the briefing. Ljubicic said that the decision had been made to start the war in the morning: a Muslim message had been intercepted saying that they would attack in the morning and to forestall this the Croats would attack first. Ljubicic said that it was war and eveybody who was not ready should step forward – nobody did. Ljubicic said that the company would be transferred to the “Bungalow” (a former restaurant in Nadioci, near Ahmici where the Anti-Terrorist Platoon of the Battalion (the “Jokers”) already were): and the direction of the attack would be Ahmici. The Vitezovi were to be assigned Vitez; the Viteska Brigade was assigned all Muslim villages and hamlets with Muslim inhabitants: UNPROFOR would be prevented from entering the Ahmici area (the Viteska Brigade was to block the road from Vitez). Late that evening the military police company (including Witness AT) was transferred to the Bungalow.1142

  57. According to the evidence of Witness AT, after their arrival in the Bungalow the military police received two further briefings. At the first, Pasko Ljubicic said that Colonel Blaskic’s order was to attack at 5.30 a.m. and all Muslim men of military age were to be killed while the civilians were not to be killed, but expelled and the houses set on fire. (“Military age” was defined as between 16 and 60.)1143 Ante Sliskovic (Second in Command) then spoke and said that if they did not attack, the Muslims would do so and commit slaughter and Mujahedin had been infiltrated into Ahmici during the night: he added that Dario Kordic had placed full trust in the police to carry out the action successfully.1144 The witness’s evidence was that he and others then drew sketches of the village showing the location of the Muslim houses on pieces of cardboard (all that was available ) and tasks were assigned to the various groups. These groups were given different lines of advance (one of the groups was led by Miroslav “Cicko” Bralo who had been released from prison and joined the police in the Bungalow).1145 At the second briefing, Ljubicic said that the groups would move off in line and there were to be no living witnesses. Ljubicic also said that there would be artillery support from Hrasno, including an anti-aircraft gun and a heavy machine gun. Short -wave radio was available for communications and participants could communicate among themselves and with Colonel Blaskic and the Viteska Brigade; a list of codes was provided for their names.1146

  58. The Defence points to inconsistencies in the recollection of Witness AT with respect to who attended the meetings.1147 However, the Defence relies on the fact that Witness AT agreed that there is no question that Blaskic had the authority to deploy the Jokers wherever and whenever he wanted.1148 The Defence relies on this to show that it was Colonel Blaskic who had control of the military police units. With respect to the first meeting in the afternoon in Blaskic’s offices, the Defence relies on the fact that in cross-examination Witness AT admitted that he did not see Kordic at any time on 15 April 1993.1149 With respect to the second meeting in Blaskic’s offices, the Defence highlights the fact that Witness AT’s evidence was inconsistent with his previous statements to the Prosecution, although Witness AT stated that his statements related to two different events.1150 The Defence points out that apart from the testimony of Witness AT there is no other evidence of such a meeting and that the entry in the Duty Officer’s Log for 15 April contains no reference to such a meeting;1151 or to a meeting between Kordic and Blaskic at the relevant time.1152 With respect to Cerkez and Darko Kraljevic requesting an M-53 machine gun from the witness, Witness AT agreed, in cross-examination, that it was Kraljevic who asked for the weapon; but the witness also said that Kraljevic did so because he was the first to enter the office. Witness AT accepted that Cerkez could not issue military orders to the Vitezovi and Kraljevic.1153

  59. The Defence called evidence to contradict Witness AT. Zoran Maric, President of the Busovaca HVO, denied that he was in Vitez on 15 April 1993 and denied that he attended a meeting that afternoon in the Hotel Vitez.1154 The witness said that during the afternoon he was at home in Ravno, near Busovac a: while he was there the municipality was attacked at about 3.30 p.m.: shelling started then and continued throughout the night: the Muslim forces having attacked in the Kuber area to the north west of the municipality.1155

  60. The Defence also called Jozo Sekic, President of Novi Travnik HVO (according to the witness from July 1992 to August 1993). He too denied that he was at the meeting and asserted that no other representative of Novi Travnik was present.1156 (The credibility of this witness was questioned because, in an affidavit submitted to the Trial Chamber, he had said that his term of office as President had ended in March 1993: the witness said that this was due to a typographical error .)1157

  61. Although no direct evidence was called as to the whereabouts of Dario Kordic after the Press conference on 15 April 1993, Brigadier Grubesic said that he heard that Kordic was at a luncheon at his offices in Tisovac.1158 Even if this were true, the Prosecution claims that it would have been perfectly possible for Dario Kordic to get to the meeting in the Hotel Vitez: on the other hand, the witness claimed that with roadblocks it could take from 40 minutes to an hour to travel the few kilometres from Busovaca to Vitez.1159

  62. Brigadier Grubesic also denied that he had been present in the Bungalow on the night of 15/16 April during the time when briefings were being given to the military police.1160 However, there are very real questions about the credibility of this witness. For instance, when cross-examined he claimed not to remember whether he had a code name during the war (the Prosecution claiming that he had such a name i.e., “Soko” or “Falcon”).1161 Since the possession of a code name during a time of intense excitement such as this is something which would be likely to be imprinted on the mind, it seems inherently unlikely that the witness has forgotten and that his evidence is explicable in terms of his wish to avoid admission that he was at the Bungalow at the relevant time and his involvement in the attack by lending the support of the artillery of his brigade which was based at Hrasno.

  63. Witness AT’s evidence is thus disputed. However, there is confirmation for it in the events of 16 April 1993 when Ahmici was attacked and destroyed. According to the Prosecution this was part of a concerted attack by the HVO on Vitez and the Muslim villages of the valley.1162 Prosecution witnesses gave evidence that the ABiH was totally unprepared. The evidence of General Dzemal Merdan, Deputy Commander, 3rd Corps ABiH, was that all available forces of the ABiH were at the front against the Serbs and defending Sarajevo. On the other hand, he saw near Kaonik Junction, 30-50 well-armed members of the HVO on 15 April. On his return to Zenica he received a phone call that an HVO unit was moving towards Putis, near Busovaca and he ordered the village guards to be reinforced.1163 At 5.30 p.m. the HVO attacked Putis, using small arms fire and artillery and resulting in the death of one ABiH soldier, the wounding of another and casualties to civilians.1164 There were further reports that evening of a concentration of troops at the cultural centre in Vitez1165 and heavy HVO troop movements in Kruscica.1166 However, the Muslims did not expect an attack. There were four Muslim soldiers in Vitez that evening. The 325 Brigade was in the process of formation: one battalion was in Preocica, another in Kruscica; the headquarters was in Stari Vitez but its role was administrative.1167

  64. There is further confirmation of the evidence of Witness AT in the sequence of orders issued by Colonel Blaskic on 15 April 1993 and the early hours of 16 April at the following times:

    15 April

    15.45: Blaskic order for all units, including IV Bn. Military Police to “increase combat readiness to the highest degree and be ready to act defensively”.1168

    17.30: Order from Anto Puljic (Chief of Travnik Defence Administration) to Chiefs of Defence Offices to conduct full mobilisation immediately of all HVO units in the Lasva Valley municipalities.1169

    18.30: Blaskic order marked “urgent” for the immediate mobilisation of all brigades and independent units of the Central Bosnia Operative Zone: “Brigade Commanders shall be personally responsible … to me for its implementation”.1170

    18.55: Blaskic information to all units that the civil authorities have imposed a curfew from 21.00-06.00.

    16 April

    01.30: Blaskic combat orders to HVO units as follows:

    - to Viteska Brigade and PPN unit “Tvrtko” to occupy defence region and blockade villages against enemy attack from Vranjska and Kruscica: “Other points of the command conform to earlier specified instructions”.1171

    - to IV Bn Military Police: to block the Ahmici-Nadioci road (in which area “we expect an attack”) and to crush the enemy offensive; time for readiness to be 05.30, 16 April; “Other elements of the order shall be in accordance with earlier items”.1172

    - to the Vitezovi to prevent attacks in the Firehouse area of Vitez.1173

    - to the Vitez police to protect public buildings in Vitez.1174

    - to Grubesic, Commander of the HVO Brigade in Busovaca, to crush all expected attacks and strengthen defence lines; “in case of an intense attack parts of the HVO br . Vitez will assist you”.1175

  65. It may be noted that these orders follow the sequence of Witness AT’s evidence , albeit that they refer to defensive action and thus support the defence case. The Prosecution points out that the references to earlier items and instructions , in fact, make the real position clear: no orders such as those alleged by Witness AT to have been given would be committed to writing; and the proof that those were the orders is to be found in what actually happened the next day. Hence , the talk of “defence” was a smokescreen by Blaskic for his real orders (and it will be remembered that Witness AS described the HVO policy of marking offensive orders as “defensive”).

  66. The defence case is that the Muslims were preparing for war, and the ABiH had made preparations for hostilities. A defence witness testified that weapons and ammunition were warehoused at a house in Stari Vitez1176 and the Muslims had taken a gun battery from the SPS factory and had stationed it in Stari Vitez.1177 According to the same witness, the ABiH had placed several experienced fighters in Stari Vitez .1178 The Defence further relies upon a Prosecution witness who admitted that, when the fighting commenced on 16 April 1993, the ABiH soldiers in Stari Vitez outnumbered the HVO soldiers engaged in the battle there.1179

  67. It is the defence case that the kidnapping of Brigadier Totic started the conflict . The Defence relies on the evidence of Colonel Stewart that, in his opinion, the Totic kidnapping touched off the open fighting between Muslims and Croats on 15  April 1993.1180 Similarly, the ECMM concluded that this action was a "grave provocation."1181 The Defence asserts that these kidnappings served to strike fear in the hearts of Croats and were an effective blow against the military capabilities of the HVO.1182 In response to the kidnapping of Zivko Totic, both the ABiH and the HVO erected numerous checkpoints on 15 April.1183 The abduction of two ABiH soldiers at a checkpoint in Vitez on the evening of 15 April, led UNPROFOR to conclude that "some form of retaliatory action by the BiH against the HVO is highly likely."1184

  68. The Defence asserts that open fighting in the Lasva Valley began on 15 April 1993 when the ABiH attacked the HVO position on Kuber.1185 Vlado Ramljak testified that prior to the ABiH attack, he witnessed four busloads of ABiH soldiers massing in the vicinity of Kuber.1186 Mr. Ramljak testified that these soldiers had beards, wore turbans and carried Arabic flags.1187 Brigadier Dusko Grube sic testified that he received a report from his Commander at Kuber that the ABiH attacked there.1188

    3. The Attack on Ahmici

  69. The prosecution case is that the attack on Ahmici, together with the associated villages or hamlets of Nadioci, Pirici and Santici, represented the most extreme manifestation of the HVO plan to remove the Bosnian Muslims from the Lasva Valley .1189 The attack resulted in the massacre of the Muslim villagers and the destruction of the village. Among the more than 100 who died were 32 women and 11 boys and girls under the age of 18.

  70. According to Witness AT, the attack on the village was carried out by the unit of military police from the Bungalow (75-strong) assisted by local members of the HVO. His account of the attack, and the events of the day, was as follows. The attack was due to start at 5.30 a.m., the signal being a round of artillery fire . The groups of military police moved off from the Bungalow between 4.30 a.m. and 4.45 a.m. in line, with about 20 metres between them. Witness AT went with his group into Ahmici and crouched beside a shed. The artillery round was fired as a signal and the group ran to a house where they banged on the door. Shooting started all round. However, the witness was recognised by a woman who came out of the house and she shouted at him. The witness panicked and hid behind a wall of the house . (Nobody was disguised but Pasko Ljubicic had told them to remove all insignia and white belts, which they did.) The witness took no further part in the action . The aim of the HVO artillery was to support the infantry and destroy structures , which the infantry could not. Whenever an UNPROFOR vehicle came into the village the firing stopped. The mosque was fortified and fire from it never stopped, until it was hit by a shot from a powerful weapon. (Later the minaret was blown up by Bralo and Jukic.) Four HVO men were killed and several wounded. The witness saw captured automatic rifles, a considerable amount of ammunition and mines. The witness estimates 72 Muslims were killed.1190 Arrests were carried out by local HVO members belonging to the Viteska Brigade.1191

  71. The credibility of Witness AT was attacked on the grounds that he was a participant in the attack; and, as such, has been convicted by the International Tribunal of crimes against humanity, involving persecution and murder, and received a substantial sentence (against which he has appealed). Furthermore, although he did not give evidence himself at his trial, he had put forward a lying alibi defence and refused even now to admit to any part in the murder. The Defence asserts that he lied in his evidence in order to have his sentence reduced. Faced with these allegations the witness in his evidence said that he was not trying to evade his responsibility but to alleviate his conscience and tell the truth.1192 His defence of alibi was withdrawn and was not true. However, while he was at the house of Witness EE (the lady who recognised him) he had no part in taking her husband behind the shed where he was shot.1193 The witness denied that he was giving evidence in the hope of getting his sentence reduced:1194 he had made no agreement with the Prosecution but felt that he could no longer live in “darkness” concealing the truth.1195 The truth had been concealed and those who wanted to tell the truth among the Croats could not be put on the list of (defence) witnesses. He himself received a letter “as a form of pressure to testify for the defence” through Mr. Susak (attorney for a co-accused in his trial). The letter was said to be a message from Mr. Nobilo (another attorney) as to the procedure to be followed in his giving a statement (as a matter of urgency since arrests may be made and somebody may talk). The message continued that his statement should be to this effect: that on the night of 15/ 16 April there was a meeting in Kordic’s house in Busovaca when a decision was taken to burn down the houses and kill the Muslims in Ahmici: when it was said that civilians might be killed, Kordic said “so what”.1196 The witness said that he did not agree to this version because he could “no longer carry all this in secret” and “cannot go on like this, regardless of what happens to me”.1197 (The Prosecution relies on this evidence in support of the witness’s credibility since it showed him resisting pressure to give untruthful evidence against Kordic.) Witness AT said that he had not had the courage to tell the truth before or testify at his own trial; and if it had not been for the change of government in the Republic of Croatia he would not have plucked up courage to do so.1198

  72. In common law jurisdictions the evidence of Witness AT would be regarded as that of an accomplice and would be treated with great caution. Thus, until recently , English law required corroboration of an accomplice’s evidence; and although this requirement has now been abolished, juries must have the danger of relying on the witness’s evidence pointed out to them if there is a risk that it is tainted by an improper motive.1199 Thus , where a witness has a prospect of obtaining a discount in the sentence against himself, it is important that the witness’s potential fallibility and ulterior motives are put squarely before the jury.1200 However, a jury may convict on the uncorroborated evidence of such a witness. Likewise , the Italian Court of Cassation has accepted the evidence of pentiti or ‘crown witnesses’ providing certain safeguards are met.1201 Similarly, the European Commission of Human Rights concluded that there had been no violation of the right to a fair trial under Article 6 of the ECHR in a case in which a “supergrass” had given evidence, but where a number of elements indicated that the defendant had been given a fair hearing, i.e., the trial court was aware of the particular nature of the evidence; the jury had been given notice of the difficulties involved in the assessment of its reliability; the defence had been given full opportunity to challenge the evidence; and, it was not the exclusive basis for the court’s decision.1202

  73. Moreover, it is essentially a matter of common sense that a witness with an interest to serve (particularly an interest to get his sentence reduced) may seek to inculpate others and exculpate himself. On the other hand, it does not follow that such a witness is incapable of telling the truth. In each case it is necessary to consider the witness’s evidence and all the circumstances, particularly the extent to which evidence is confirmed.

  74. Thus, in deciding whether to accept the evidence of Witness AT the Trial Chamber must determine to what extent his evidence is confirmed by other evidence. In fact , there is no direct evidence supporting his account of the meeting. However, there is circumstantial evidence which does so. First, as will be seen, the events of the day in Ahmici followed the plan which he described. Secondly, no such plan could have been put into operation without prior meetings and without political approval. Next, no meeting of this importance of politicians in the Lasva Valley would have taken place without Dario Kordic being present. These matters, by themselves , would not be sufficient to lead the Trial Chamber to accept the witness’s evidence . However, the account which he gave was a coherent one which was given fluently (in the manner of a person recalling incidents rather than one making them up) and was not shaken in cross-examination. Such inconsistencies as are relied on by the Defence are not of such significance as to make his evidence unbelievable. Furthermore , the Trial Chamber saw and heard the witness giving his evidence and thus had the opportunity of observing his demeanour. Although he could not bring himself to tell the full truth of his own involvement in the attack, and the Trial Chamber finds that he was mistaken in his evidence about the use of the mosque for defence purposes (which is not supported by the evidence of other witnesses) the Trial Chamber is satisfied that he did tell the truth about the preparations for the Ahmici attack, including the meetings at Hotel Vitez and the subsequent briefings.

  75. In those circumstances, and in the absence of evidence to the contrary, the Trial Chamber is satisfied that Dario Kordic was present at the meetings of politicians which authorised the 16 April 1993 attack. He thus participated as the senior regional politician in the planning of the military operation and attack against Ahmici (and the other Lasva Valley villages), an operation which was aimed at ‘cleansing’ these areas of Muslims. The Chamber is satisfied that the meeting would have approved of Blaskic’s order to kill all the military-age men, expel the civilians and set the houses on fire: such an order would not have been given without political approval . Kordic was thus associated with the giving of that order. (However, the Chamber cannot be sure that the second order, that there be no living witnesses, was not Ljubicic’s own order, made without reference to any prior order.) The Chamber is also satisfied that Mario Cerkez, as Commander of the Viteska Brigade, was present at the military meeting which followed the politicians’ meeting.

  76. Witness AT stated that the entry in the CBOZ Duty Officer’s log for the morning of 16 April 1993 to the effect that the Muslims attacked the Croats was a fabrication .1203 The witness reiterated that the Croats carried out a planned attack on the Muslims on 16 April in the territory of Vitez municipality.1204 On the other hand, the Defence contends that the attack was instigated by the Muslims. The Prosecution called evidence from survivors, UNPROFOR officers and international observers which tends to confirm the evidence of Witness AT about the Croat plan of attack and the order to shoot all Muslim men of military age:

    (i) When Witness AQ’s husband went to the front door on hearing shots outside he himself was shot dead.1205

    (ii) The house of Nura Pezer and her family came under attack and was set on fire. Her son went outside, raised his hands in the air, but was shot and killed. She had to leave her husband behind in the house because he was wounded. She later found out that he had been shot in the head.1206

    (iii) Witness U’s father surrendered and told the soldier not to shoot: he took his wallet with a large sum of German marks in it from the safe. The soldier took the wallet but then the father and the witness’s brother were shot dead.1207

    (iv) Abdulah Ahmic’s brother was killed outside the family house in an explosion and shooting. When the witness and his father went out his father was shot dead and the witness himself was shot in the head. (The witness survived, as he also did a hand grenade attack the following day.)1208 While hiding the witness could see military police and HVO soldiers, each group having different ribbons:1209 he also saw the military police going to the mosque and heard an explosion.1210

  77. The HVO did not restrict themselves to shooting the men of military age. They also shot women and children. Abdulah Ahmic’s mother and three sisters were killed in a house in Upper Ahmici.1211 When one witness tried to take his family to Upper Ahmici for shelter they were seen by HVO soldiers who opened fire on them, killing the witness’s sister-in-law and wounding his daughter.1212 The mother and 8-year-old brother of another witness were killed in a grenade attack .1213

  78. Some efforts had been made at defence, as the evidence of Witness AT indicated . According to a local witness the villagers had drawn up a defence plan but there was no organised ABiH unit in the village.1214 Major Woolley of UNPROFOR came into the village at about 11.30 a.m. and was helping injured civilians when he saw four Muslim men, carrying Kalashnikovs, who appeared to be a local defence outfit.1215 On the basis of this and other evidence the Defence argues that although the murders which occurred in the village were criminal acts, the decision to attack Ahmici was not criminal, as it was a village that had military significance1216 which was strategically located on the main supply route that runs to Vitez; and from there troops could easily sever this crucial route.1217 Furthermore, the Defence argues that Ahmici was defended. Witness CW1 testified in the Blaškic trial that, anticipating a conflict in Ahmici, the TO had dug-in prior to 16 April 19931218 and that it was clear that a conflict was about to occur in the area.1219 Accordingly, the units of the TO in the vicinity of Ahmici had been placed on an increased level of alert on the evening of 15 April.1220 Several Prosecution witnesses described how the TO conducted guard duty in Ahmici on the evening of 15 April1221 and the guard members had both rifles and hand-grenades for the defence of the village .1222 Major Woolley heard combat engagements that caused him to take cover.1223 Five HVO soldiers were alleged to have been killed during the attack on Ahmici,1224 and ABiH documents reflect the possible presence of Muslim armed forces in Ahmici on 16 April. In particular, on 16 April, General Hadzihasanovic ordered the Commander of the 303rd Mountain Brigade to "be prepared to provide assistance to our forces in the village of ... Ahmici."1225 The Defence also relies on the evidence of Witness AT about: (a) the recovery of weapons and large amounts of ammunition by the HVO;1226 (b) the resistance by Muslim forces;1227 and (c) the ABiH shelling of the attacking HVO troops.1228

  79. However, this was not the view of the UNPROFOR officers who were on the scene then or shortly afterwards. Major Woolley, on his visit to the village, saw 5-6 soldiers at the bottom of a reverse slope, looking into the village: in his view , if they had been defenders they would have been closer to the village (or on higher ground) and would have been facing outwards.1229 Colonel Watters (at the time a Major and Second in Command of the British Battalion) said that what he saw in Ahmici was the aftermath of a massacre. The Muslim part of Ahmici had been completely destroyed, in stark contrast to the Croat houses which were still standing. If there had been any resistance the village was not well- defended.1230 The witness also dismissed a Defence suggestion that the destruction of Ahmici was a consequence of a tactic called “Fighting in Built-up Areas” (“FIBUA”), a recognised military technique which normally includes the evacuation of civilians and the chance for surrender.1231 The destruction was too systematic and included evidence of snipers used to cut off likely escape routes: Ahmici looked like a massacre to the witness.1232 He said that an indication that the attacks were coordinated was the use of heavy calibre artillery and mortars, which would not have been available to village commands .

  80. During his evidence Colonel Stewart was shown a copy of a report, which purports to be a summary dated 25 May 1993 of an investigation performed by the HVO Security and Information Service, under the auspices of Anto Sliskovic.1233 According to the witness, the report is a mixture of fact and fiction. For instance , the report states that the ABiH on 14 April 1993 infiltrated around 30 exceptionally well-armed MOS members into Ahmici: these troops were supposed to cut off communication lines between Vitez and Busovaca. The witness said that he had seen no evidence in Ahmici of dug-in positions which soldiers would traditionally take up if they were planning to defend.1234 The report’s description of how the attack was carried out on 16 April 1993 is incorrect ; according to the witness it could be described as a classic “infantry attack”. From speaking with people, the witness deduced that the start line was close to the main Lasva Valley road with machine gun positions in at least one place and artillery support to prevent retreat in a classic “cordon and sweep” operation (which could only take half a day to mount); then a group of soldiers took out the inhabitants of one house after another.1235

  81. The views expressed by these witnesses were supported by the authors of two contemporary reports:

    (i) Charles McLeod, an ECMM monitor and former Captain in the British Army, who visited Ahmici on 4 May 1993, was not of the opinion that the attack could have been in defence against a Muslim attack. He had the impression, drawing on his own military experience, that it was a carefully planned and coordinated attack.1236 (He had been sent to establish what had happened in the Lasva Valley, collated reports and interviewed various people).1237 He concluded in his report that on 16 April the Croats in Vitez had launched a coordinated attack against the Muslim villages around Vitez and against Stari Vitez.1238

    (ii) A contemporary report, the “Mazowiecki Report”,1239 compiled for the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Special Rapporteur for former Yugoslavia, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, states that on 16 April 1993 there were concerted attacks by Croat HVO forces on Vitez and surrounding villages: “By all accounts , including those of the local Croat commander and international observers, this village contained no legitimate military targets and there was no organised resistance to the attack”.1240 The Report described the attack on Ahmici as follows: HVO forces launched a mortar attack on the northern part of the village, which prevented villagers fleeing to the forest to the north. Many residents ran southwards to an open field where Croat HVO forces ambushed them: 20 were shot at close range (mainly in the head and neck). Field staff visited the scene and found three vantage points where shell casings were left behind (para. 15). HVO soldiers, meanwhile, walked into the village and went in groups of four or five from house to house, shooting and throwing grenades through doors and windows. Field staff counted an average of 50 spent shells around each house from a variety of weapons including rocket-propelled grenades. Approximately 180 houses were destroyed and some were still smouldering. (The approximately 15 Croat houses remain untouched.)

  82. A precise figure for those killed may never be known. According to one witness who listed them, a total of 104 people were killed.1241 The Trial Chamber accepts this figure as being as nearly accurate as possible.

  83. The contemporary accounts given by Blaskic and Kordic about these matters were as follows. On 30 April 1993 Colonel Blaskic told his superior, General Petkovic, that Ahmici had been defended by a platoon of the Viteska Brigade and that he , Blaskic, had sent a military police platoon to support them and protect the lines of communication: at 6 a.m. on 16 April strong firing broke out, three military policemen were killed, Blaskic lost communications with them and during the morning the military police stormed the village and took over part of it; it was a classic operation of fighting in a built-up area.1242

  84. Dario Kordic denied to Payam Akhavan, an investigator with the United Nations Centre for Human Rights, that the HVO were involved in the Ahmici massacre; indeed , he said that his men, as good Christians, would never commit such acts and blamed the Bosnian Serbs or the Muslims themselves: no investigation was necessary.1243 (A similar response was given by Blaskic to Colonel Stewart in Kordic’s presence .)1244

  85. During the trial a further report on the massacre came to light. This took the form of a report by Miroslav Tudjman, Director of HIS (the Croatian Intelligence Service) to his father, President Tudjman, dated 21 March 1994. This report blames the “Jokers” special purpose unit for the attack together with a group of prisoners released from Kaonik prison. The cause was said to be the deaths of three HVO soldiers at the hands of the MOS and the death of Brigadier Totic’s escort. The report exonerates Mario Cerkez, who is described as a bad commander and a coward by nature.1245

  86. The Trial Chamber finds that the overwhelming evidence points to a well-organised and planned HVO attack upon Ahmici with the aim of killing or driving out the Muslim population, resulting in a massacre. The assertion that this attack was justified strategically, defensively, or in any other way, is wholly without foundation: such defenders as were available were taken completely by surprise and any defence put up thereafter was rudimentary, as the results of the day show. Furthermore, the Trial Chamber draws the inference from this evidence (and the evidence of other HVO attacks in April 1993) that there was by this time a common design or plan conceived and executed by the Bosnian Croat leadership to ethnically cleanse the Lasva Valley of Muslims. Dario Kordic, as the local political leader, was part of this design or plan, his principal role being that of planner and instigator of it.

    4. The Attack on Vitez and Veceriska

  87. Prosecution witnesses gave evidence about the attack on Vitez. Thus, Colonel Watters said that in the early morning of 16 April 1993 he was at the British Battalion base near Vitez and received reports of shelling and firing on Muslim areas of Kru scica and Vitez.1246 A Croat artillery piece was firing from a quarry. At 9.30 a.m. the witness interviewed the Croat brigade commander in the Vitez cinema and also the Muslim commander. Both sides said they were under attack from the other. Based on his own observations, he came to the opinion that most of the destruction and casualties were in the Muslim area of the town.1247 Reports were also received of fighting up and down the Lasva Valley, targeting small Muslim villages and hamlets such as Ahmici. The witness sent patrols to these areas and evacuated civilians.1248 In the witness’s professional judgement the ABiH had been taken by surprise. It was the first coordinated offensive in the area with attacks happening simultaneously up and down the valley .1249

  88. According to those in Vitez, the attack started at about 5.45 to 6 a.m. with artillery shelling, which increased during the morning and included mortar fire of various calibre.1250 The evidence of the local TO commander was that he found that there were 50 to 100 soldiers deployed in defence: the attack was very much a surprise.1251 Edib Zlotrg said that he was awoken by a detonation from the direction of Ahmici . He saw smoke coming from Ahmici and also saw HVO members in camouflage uniforms in the streets of Vitez, arresting Muslims and killing them in their apartments. He later learnt that among those killed was his brother-in-law, who had previously published a letter in a newspaper criticising HVO soldiers for firing their weapons in town.1252 The prominent Muslims of the town were arrested.1253 Anto Breljas, a former member of the Vitezovi, said that the Viteska Brigade and the Vitezovi attacked Stari Vitez but the Vitezovi did not take part in the attack on Ahmici as a unit (although one or two individuals may have done so).1254

  89. The reference to “Veceriska-Donja Veceriska” in the Indictment is to the two villages of Donja and Gornji Veceriska. The prosecution case is that these associated villages (near the Vitezit or SPS factory to the south-east of Vitez) were attacked on 16 April 1993 as part of the general HVO attack on the Lasva Valley. Donja Ve ceriska was a small, mixed village, 60 per cent Muslim, with no military installations . The HVO military forces had established a presence in the course of 1992. On the night of 15 April 1993, most Croats left the village for Gornji Veceriska, with only the able-bodied men remaining. Nonetheless, an attack was not expected since the Croats had evacuated the village several times before. The shelling started at 5.30 a.m. with an anti-aircraft gun shooting from the factory nearby. Grenades were thrown into the houses and the residents and others were then arrested and beaten. Witness V recognised some of his Croat neighbours and HVO soldiers (some were wearing helmets with a black “U”) and some with stripes painted on their faces and ribbons on their shoulders. The witness saw the majority of Muslim houses were burning.1255 The TO organised some defence. Eventually, at 3 a.m. on 18 April 1993, the villagers (around 400 in all ) managed to escape from the village with the help of UNPROFOR. At least eight persons died in the attack and the village was destroyed by explosives and fire.1256

  90. In all 172 Muslims in the Vitez municipality were killed and 5,000 expelled , (1,200 having been detained): 420 buildings were destroyed, together with three mosques, two Muslim seminaries and two schools.1257

  91. The defence case is that it was the ABiH who started the attack in the Vitez municipality on 16 April 1993. Major Ceko testified that at 5:30 a.m., shells fell in the vicinity of the HVO headquarters in Vitez, followed by intense gunfire.1258 The Defence relied on the testimony of Allan Laustsen and certain ECMM reports to show that the firing that occurred at 5.30 a.m. on 16 April was directed from ABiH positions towards the HVO Headquarters.1259 The Defence also asserts that the fact that the ABiH was ready to engage the HVO in Vitez is reflected by the outcome of the fighting that day. According to Sulejman Kalco only three ABiH soldiers died in Stari Vitez.1260 By contrast, the ABiH killed at least 11 HVO soldiers in that exchange.1261

  92. The Defence also presents a different picture of fighting in Donja Veceriska . One witness testified that prior to the 16 April 1993 fighting, the Muslims in Donja Veceriska had dug trenches in anticipation of a conflict.1262 The Defence highlights the evidence of a prosecution witness that the TO in the village had sufficient weapons and ammunition to hold the HVO at bay for two days .1263 Although the TO had 40-50 men1264 and 42 rifles available in Donja Veceriska,1265 the Muslim fighters retreated when their ammunition was spent.1266 According to one witness, both the HVO and TO suffered casualties in this fighting .1267

  93. The Trial Chamber rejects the defence case and finds that the evidence clearly points to organised HVO attacks in these areas. This must be seen against the background of the expiry of the 15 April 1993 deadline as part of a wider attack on Vitez and the Muslim villages of the Lasva Valley. Accordingly, the Trial Chamber finds that the underlying offences relating to Vitez, Stari Vitez, Veceriska, Ahmici, Nadioci , Pirici and Santici, in the following counts, are made out:

    Counts 3 – 4 (unlawful attacks on civilian objects)

    Counts 7 – 20 (unlawful killings, murder, inhumane acts and treatment).

    5. The Involvement of the Accused

  94. There was direct evidence of the involvement of Dario Kordic and Mario Cerkez in the fighting of 16 April 1993. In the case of the latter, evidence was given by Nihad Rebihic, a member of the Vitez TO. On 16 April that witness had a walkie -talkie radio which was tuned to listen to HVO communications. During the course of the morning and early afternoon, he overheard conversations between Cerkez and Marko Ljuic (the alleged Commander of the HVO artillery). In the first conversation , between 8 and 9 a.m., Cerkez was informed that UNPROFOR was arriving:

    Cerkez: “You know what to do”.

    Marko Ljuic: “Hit feature J” (an elevation point near Jelovac).

    Cerkez: “Fuck their mother, you know the feature, go on and shoot”.

    (It appeared to the witness that mosques were the targets and that they were shooting at Preocica mosque in particular.)

    At 1.17 p.m.: Mario Cerkez: “Can you target the thing you did a moment ago? – J – Target it well”.

    At 1.40 p.m.: a voice: “Tell No. 23 to target Jelovac with five projectiles at 1.40 p.m.”.

    (At 1.48 p.m. there was mortar fire in the direction of Jelovac.)1268 This evidence was challenged in cross-examination, in particular that Cerkez made the comments alleged. The witness replied that he was certain that the voice was Cerkez’s: he had known Cerkez well, over a number of years.1269

  95. This evidence was supported by Sulejman Kalco who gave evidence that the TO intercepted an order from Mario Cerkez to Marko Ljuic (who was with the artillery in Stari Bila) to the effect that he should fire at religious objects in Vranjica : Ljuic then asked Cerkez for a break so that they could have breakfast. The TO taped this conversation but the tape was thought to have been lost in a car bomb explosion.1270 In cross-examination the Defence challenged the witness’s evidence about this conversation, suggesting that the conversation took place between Marko Ljuic and his son, also Mario. The witness rejected that suggestion and had previously stated that he could identify the voices because he grew up with these people.1271 However, in the absence of a tape-recording or any documentary evidence, the Trial Chamber is not able to attach any weight to this evidence; and, as a result, makes no finding adverse to Mario Cerkez.

  96. The Defence case, regarding the activities and plans of Mario Cerkez and the Viteska Brigade on the eve of 16 April 1993, was that they were neither prepared nor preparing to launch a military offensive. Mario Cerkez had allegedly planned a church ceremony to renew his marriage vows with his wife, set for the late afternoon of 15 April 1993.1272 In fact, the Defence produced a marriage procedure certificate, dated 15 April 1993 , stating that Mario Cerkez and his wife intended to get “married” in Vitez on 15 April 1993 at 18.30 hours.1273 But the ceremony never occurred because, before going to church, Mario Cerkez received an urgent order to report to Blaskic at the Viteska Brigade headquarters.1274 Later that evening, Mario Cerkez provided the information for a short briefing at the headquarters, informing the Brigade that the CBOZ command had issued an order to intensify combat readiness in anticipation of an ABiH attack the next day. The Brigade’s sole task was to block the direction of a possible ABiH attack from the area of Kruscica and Vranjska.1275 Ahmici, Nadioci, Sivrino Selo, or any areas other than Kruscica and Vranjska, were never mentioned at the meeting.1276

  97. The Defence also called evidence that there was no indication that the Vite ska Brigade operated anywhere during the night of 15-16 April 1993.1277 The alleged ABiH attack took the Viteska Brigade completely by surprise; thus, chaos and disorganisation reigned in the Viteska Brigade headquarters on the morning of 16 April 1993.1278 The local HVO battalion commander, Anto Bertovic, testified regarding the Brigade’s level of readiness on the night of 15 April 1993. He claimed that he had the following soldiers at his disposal: about 60 in the Slatka Voda-Strikanca sector, and up to 50 in Kruscica, preparing at the Hotel Ribnjak for their shift on the front line (the Slatka Voda-Strikanca line). He did not have reliable communications equipment to communicate with the shift at the front line,1279 and deployed not more than 80 men on the night of 15 April 1993:1280 he testified that, had he had a choice, he would not have dared to go into war with such a battalion.1281 The HVO communications system in the CBOZ was in any event unreliable, making concerted military action difficult.1282 The Chief of Communications for the Viteska Brigade testified that the communications system was far from satisfactory , because the TO had taken most of the available equipment. Most of the HVO equipment was amateur radio equipment.1283

  98. On the other hand, the Prosecution was able to rely, in relation to the communications system, on documentary evidence. First, on a report dated 22-23 March 1993 from the administrative officer for communications of the 1st Battalion of the Viteska Brigade to the effect that the telephones in the trenches and dugouts and field telephone exchanges were in working order;1284 second, a report from the Chief of Communications of the Viteska Brigade unit dated 24 April 1993 in which he stated that, with two exceptions, communications between the front line and commanders were working;1285 and third, an order of 21 January 1993 from the HZ H-B chief of communications to the chief of communications of Vitez CBOZ for the distribution of packet radio transmitters (a communications system like fax) to the various brigades.1286 It was denied that this distribution took place.1287 However, the Trial Chamber finds in the light of these documents that the Brigade possessed a satisfactory communications system in April 1993.

  99. In the case of Dario Kordic’s involvement on 16 April 1993, the following evidence was called by the Prosecution:

    (a) According to Witness H, a resident of Loncari, near Busovaca, at 5 a.m., on the radio Dario Kordic ordered all HVO units to attack ABiH positions.1288 The witness said that he recognised Kordic’s voice because the latter was a media figure.1289 However, there was no corroboration of this evidence and no tape of this broadcast has been produced and the Trial Chamber rejects it. Likewise, the evidence of Witness AP that on the Saturday before the attack Dario Kordic was in the football stadium in Vitez where the witness heard him making a speech through a loudspeaker to soldiers in the stadium: he said that at this historic moment for Croats they would fight for their independence and rights and the soldiers saluted him using the “Hitler salute ”.1290 There is no evidence to support this allegation and the Trial Chamber cannot accept it.

    (b) Witness I gave evidence of a taped conversation which, it is alleged, shows the involvement of Kordic in an attack on a village called Gornja Rovna, near Vitez. The witness’s account was that he was a resident of Gornja Rovna and a soldier in the ABiH. On 16 April 1993 his platoon was on duty in Kruscica and from there he saw the attack on his own village as it occurred. He was subsequently captured, detained until June 1993 and did not return to his village for another two months .1291 On his return to the village he visited the ABiH communications centre where a colleague let him listen to a tape which was concerned with the attack on the village. The tape purported to record a dialogue between two people calling themselves “Puma 1” and “Puma 2”. Puma 1 ordered Puma 2 to attack the centre of the village. Puma 2 said that he could not. Puma 1 then told him to attack the upper part of the village. Puma 2 said that he had tried but could not. Puma 1 ordered him to attack again. Puma 2 said “Kordic, fuck your mother, you come here and take it. … we can’t do anything here because every tree is a balija”.1292 In cross-examination the witness said that Gornja Rovna was not specifically mentioned in the conversation but the point could be located by reference to “wood” and “upper part”: the devices have a range of two kilometres. He first mentioned the tape in a statement made in November 1997. There were several attacks on the village between 16 and 20 April 1993. On reflection, he thought that the first instruction was to attack the upper part of the village and not the centre. The tape quality was bad and he did not recognise the voices. He denied that his evidence about the tape was a fiction.1293 The Trial Chamber again notes that there is no corroboration of this evidence and no tape has been produced. The Trial Chamber can place no reliance on it.

    (c) Anto Breljas is a Bosnian Croat, a former member of the Vitezovi which he joined through the intervention of Dario Kordic. His evidence was that in March 1993 he had reported to the accused in Tisovac and said that he wanted to join the HVO: the accused told him to go to the Head of the Vitezovi, Darko Kraljevic, who would give him a job. The witness became a political officer with the rank of Lieutenant .1294 (In cross-examination the Defence challenged this evidence but the witness said that he did meet the accused and the latter did help him get into the HVO.)1295 According to this witness’s evidence, on the evening of 15 April 1993 Dario Kordic was at the Vitezovi barracks in Dubravica. He was with the Commander and the Deputy of the Vitezovi (Kraljevic and Vinac), Mijic (Chief of the Central Bosnia SIS, i.e., secret police) and two other persons.1296 The witness saw these people conferring: they had a piece of paper with a map drawn on it. The witness heard Dario Kordic say “That must be done to the end”; to which there was a response “Don’t worry, everything will be fine”.1297 The witness was cross-examined about the date on which he heard the conversation and he accepted that he could not be precise about dates. In a statement to the Prosecution the witness had said that he had spent the evening of 15 April in Cajdra s when he was trying to get back from Zenica to Vitez. He was subsequently picked up by Colonel Stewart in his jeep and taken to Vitez.1298 In re-examination the witness said that he was confused as to whether the Dubravica school meeting with Kordic was on the eve of the attack on Ahmici (i.e., 15 April ) or the night after it (i.e., 16 April).1299 The Defence called evidence to the effect that Kordic was never in the Dubravica barracks and was not there on 15 April. Josip Buha, a member of the Vitezovi at the relevant time, testified that Kordic could not possibly have attended the barracks on this day as the barracks are small and he and others would have known of such an important visit.1300 This testimony was corroborated by the affidavit of Mario Santic, a member of the Vitezovi, who said he was stationed at the barracks at the time and neither Kordic nor Blaskic were there on 15 April.1301 Nonetheless , the Trial Chamber notes that, as a Bosnian Croat, Mr. Breljas has no axe to grind nor motive for lying1302 and accepts his evidence that Kordic was in the barracks at a meeting: this event having occurred on the evening of 16 April.

  100. The CBOZ Duty Officer’s log for 16 April 1993 is as follows:

    09.05: Mr. T. Blaskic talked with D. Kordic. Report on the situation … .

    10.30: T. Blaskic spoke with Kordic, informed him of the current situaition.

    11.40: Col. T. Blaskic spoke with Kordic in connection with the cease-fire … .1303

    12.07: “Mario C.” called Colonel Blaskic, reported on the situation in the field .

    12.36: D. Kordic called Colonel T. Blaskic … .

    12.50: Colonel T. Blaskic called “Mario C.”, gave him instructions.

    13.02: M. Batinic [sic] from the (Mixed Artillery Battalion) called Col. Blaskic, said he had completed the task. Mario C. should see where it is and whether a correction is needed.

    13.10: Mario C. calling Colonel Blaskic, reporting on the situation.1304

    13.44: Colonel Tiho… B., conversation with Dario K., giving a report and said that the BH Army is asking for a cease-fire.

    13.55: Colonel Tihomir B. called “Mario C.”, gave instructions and said to hold out a little more.

    14.30: D. Kordic calling T.B., exchange of views … .1305

    15.00: Mario C. called to say that substantial forces are moving from Zenica.

    15.45: Kordic called and asked about the situation. He received an oral report from Colonel Blaskic.

    15.52: Kordic called and reported that the Muslims are firing at our positions in Krusik.1306

    16.38: Colonel T.B. spoke with D. Kordic, informed him that he had spoken with Anto Valenta about the situation … .

    17.55: (Dusko, Cerkez and Pasko). Donja Veceriska, Ahmici, Vranjska, Rovna and Perici are encircled. They have no forces for reinforcement of these areas. The HVO is carrying out arresting people.

    18.02: D. Kordic calling Colonel T.B. Pasko has finished it all off and is pressing on.

    18.07: Colonel T.B. calling Mario C. Need to step up security of the SPS factory .1307

    18.50: D. Kordic calling Colonel T.B., 350-400 people have left Zenica for Kuber (Muslims).

    19.25: Colonel Blaskic called Colonel Kordic and informed him of the forces that are setting off from Zenica, most probably for Kuber … .

    19.45: Mario Cerkez called and asked that help from Busovaca reach him a.s.a.p.1308

  101. To summarise the evidence in the log: between 9.05 a.m. and 7.25 p.m. on 16 April 1993 Kordic and Blaskic had at least 10 conversations on the telephone. In those conversations military matters were discussed: with both participants reporting on such matters. The Trial Chamber finds that the inference to be drawn from this evidence is one of an involved political leader keeping a close eye on events and in contact with the military commander.

    6. The Attacks on Villages near Busovaca

  102. The villages of Loncari, Merdani and Putis are not far apart, in the area east of Ahmici and north of Busovaca. The prosecution evidence was as follows. After the attacks on the villages in January 1993 a significant number of the civilian population went to Zenica but, over the weeks and months that followed, many of them moved back.1309 The villages were then attacked by the HVO in April. Between 4.30 and 5 a.m. on 16 April 1993 Witness H hid in the woods with other Bosnian Muslim men. There was mortar and artillery fire around Loncari. The witness, his son and other men were arrested by HVO soldiers and taken to Kaonik prison.1310 As noted above, the nearby village of Putis had been attacked on 15 April.

  103. The village of Ocehnici is to the south of Busovaca. According to the Prosecution , it was subject to HVO attack in April 1993. The prosecution evidence was as follows . In the afternoon of 16 April 1993 masked HVO soldiers attacked the village by firing incendiary bullets into the houses. Within half an hour all the Muslim houses were burning. The villagers were unarmed and did not put up any resistance.1311 One resident heard, at second-hand, that Pasko Ljubicic was the leader of the unit that had attacked the village and that he had been ordered to do so by Brigadier Dusko Grubesic, commander of the Zrinski Brigade, to “cleanse” Muslims from the area.1312 The damage to Ocehnic i is clearly shown on the video recording taken during a helicopter flight over the area in May 1996 and played to the court during the trial.1313 Around 20 men from Loncari were detained and taken to Kaonik on 16 April 1993.1314 Upon arrival they were lined up and their valuables were stolen by HVO soldiers.1315

  104. Although prima facie evidence of unlawful attacks, in the Trial Chamber’s view there is insufficient evidence on which to found a conviction on Counts 3 and 4. Accordingly, the allegations in relation to Loncari, Putis and Ocehnici in Counts 3 and 4 are not made out. There is, however, evidence of destruction in Ocehnic i (Counts 37 and 38).

    7. The Stari Vitez Truck Bomb

  105. The fighting in Vitez continued after 16 April 1993. The old town of Stari Vitez (or Mahala as it was also called) remained in Muslim hands. However, the HVO surrounded it and subjected it to attack. On 18 April 1993 a truck bomb exploded there and it was subjected to siege from April 1993 to February 1994.

  106. The truck bomb exploded during the afternoon of Sunday 18 April, near the mosque in Stari Vitez, destroying the offices of the War Presidency, killing at least six people and injuring 50 others.1316 According to the evidence of Nihad Rebihic, who was walking nearby at the time, an HVO fuel truck drove past him, there was then a powerful explosion which threw him to the ground and he lost consciousness: when he came round there was much damage to houses.1317 Before the explosion warnings were given to some of the population.1318 There were various reports as to who was responsible;1319 according to one, Marko Ljuic, Chief of Artillery for the Viteska Brigade, loaded an oil truck with explosives, tied a Muslim man to the steering wheel and set the truck in motion towards the old town,1320 while another alleged that Darko Kraljevic, commander of the HOS, was behind it.1321 At the time when the bomb went off Mario Cerkez was at a meeting which was taking place at the Britbat camp, there was a loud explosion and a large cloud of smoke over Stari Vitez: as the participants returned to Vitez, Mario Cerkez made no comment about the explosion.1322

  107. According to one witness, Dario Kordic appeared that evening on local television and said that an ABiH ammunitions depot in Stari Vitez had been activated and that there would be other explosions of this kind. He also said that members of the ABiH should surrender and its commanders would be tried according to the laws of Herceg-Bosna.1323 (This evidence concerning the television broadcast is disputed by the Defence. There is no evidence to support it and the Trial Chamber, accordingly, cannot rely on it.) When Colonel Morsink, of the ECMM, asked Mario Cerkez about the explosion the next day the accused said that the explosion came from a house and he would investigate:1324 in cross-examination the witness denied that the accused said that he had informed his commander, having found out that the act was committed not under his chain of command.1325

  108. The Trial Chamber accepts that this action was a piece of pure terrorism committed by elements within the HVO, as an attack on the Muslim population of Stari Vitez . However, there is no evidence to connect either of the accused with this action , which is as consistent with freelance terrorist activity by any of a number of people as it is as part of a concerted plan of ethnic cleansing. It does not necessarily follow that because an accused is a political leader (or military commander) that he is responsible for any act of terrorism, which may occur.

    8. Attacks on Villages in the Kiseljak Municipality

  109. On Sunday, 18 April 1993, it was the turn of the Muslim villages in the Kiseljak municipality to come under attack. (A number of villages were attacked; however , only one, Rotilj, is mentioned in the relevant counts of the Indictment.) The background to the attacks was an order by Colonel Blaskic to an HVO brigade to capture two of the villages where all enemy forces were to be placed under HVO command.1326 On 18 April 1993 the villages of Gomionica, Svinjarevo and Behrici (which were all close to each other and connected by the main road) were attacked by the HVO, together with Rotilj, Gromiljak, Polje Visnjica and other Muslim villages in this part of the Kiseljak municipality. The evidence was that the Muslim population of these villages was either killed or expelled, houses and mosques were set on fire and, in Svinjarevo and Gomionica, houses were plundered.1327 In the case of Rotilj the TO were asked to surrender their guns before the HVO shelled the village. As a result the lower part of the village was set on fire and 20 houses or barns were destroyed:1328 seven civilians were killed.1329 Later there was graffiti on a wall to the effect: “This was done by the Maturice”, (a para-military unit from Kiseljak).1330

  110. International observers saw the destruction in the villages in the next few days. An officer of the Canadian battalion of UNPROFOR, Captain Lanthier, drove through the Kiseljak pocket and saw many looted and burned houses. The villages were deserted. His impression was that the attack on Rotilj had been carried out according to infantry platoon tactics for fighting in built-up areas.1331 When ECMM Monitors visited the villages they found almost all the Muslims had left and their houses had been burned1332 and they concluded that ethnic cleansing had taken place in the area.1333 (It should be noted in this connection that the CBOZ Duty Officer recorded Colonel Blaskic as saying on 20 April, with reference to Gominonica, that the police would be used for “cleansing”.)1334

  111. No defence evidence was called about this HVO offensive. The Trial Chamber concludes that it was part of the general offensive launched by the HVO against the Muslims in this area and in relation to Rotilj the underlying offences in Counts 3-4 and 7-13 are made out.

  112. In connecting Dario Kordic with these attacks the Prosecution relies on an order sent by Colonel Blaskic to the Ban Jelacic Brigade in Kiseljak on 18 April 1993, instructing the Brigade to take Gomionica that night and stating that the situation is generally under control and “we have informed the leadership of the HZ H-B of everything. We are in constant contact with the leadership”.1335 The Prosecution comments that there was limited possibility of contact with Mate Boban given the communications difficulties relied on by the Defence and there is no document before the Trial Chamber on such a topic: therefore, the only leadership to whom Blaskic could have been referring was the local leadership, i.e., Kordic, and the CBOZ Duty Officer’s log confirms this.1336

  113. The Trial Chamber finds that Dario Kordic was involved in these attacks in a municipality about 25 kilometers from Busovaca. The attacks occurred two days after the attacks on the Muslim villages of the Lasva Valley and were part of the pattern of attacks on the Muslims of Central Bosnia. Blaskic would not have launched the attacks without political approval which the Trial Chamber accepts meant the approval of the local leadership in the person of Dario Kordic. The clear inference is that the latter was thus associated with the giving of orders to attack the villages , including Rotilj.

    9. The Shelling of Zenica

  114. On 19 April 1993 the market-place in Zenica was shelled, killing 15 people and injuring another 50. The prosecution case is that the HVO were responsible for the shelling and, hence, the unlawful attack on the town. Their case is that the purpose of the attack was to demonstrate the military capability of the HVO and to threaten the ABiH and force it to stop its counter-attacks.1337 The prosecution evidence was as follows.

  115. Six artillery shells were fired into Vitez between 12 noon and 12.30 p.m. on 19 April 1993. They landed in the area of the market-place, which was described by one witness, who went to the scene, as a busy market and pedestrian street area with shops, stalls and coffee bars, where, at about midday, there would be many people, pedestrians, shoppers and people going to the mosque.1338 Another witness described the area as containing 30-40 cafes in it and a department store and estimated that there could have been 2-3,000 people there at the time.1339 It appears, however, that the intended target of the shelling may have been the radio station, Radio Zenica. A technician from the radio station gave evidence that on 19 April he received a telephone call from a person wanting directions to Radio Zenica. When asked why, the man said they were going to shell the station in 10 minutes and told the witness to take shelter. Sometime later the witness saw smoke coming from not far away. People were stampeding in a panic and dragging wounded people away. The witness heard three or four shells: one landed close by the radio station. After the shelling the witness received a phone call from a man who said: “Balija, you haven’t been hit yet. We are going to shell you again”.1340

  116. Two Danish members of the ECMM, Major Baggesen and Mr. Laustsen, were in Zenica at the time of the shelling. They visited the scene shortly after the shelling and took photographs.1341 These photographs show scenes of devastation in the market area, bodies lying on the ground , destroyed cars, a demolished bus shelter and damaged buildings. One witness identified 13 corpses but said that 15-16 people in all (he produced 15 death certificates) were killed.1342 The local hospital received 18 severely injured patients and a further 38 with lighter injuries.1343

  117. The two ECMM monitors made investigations on the spot. (One of them, Mr. Laustsen , is a Chief Inspector in the Danish police and the commander of a battery in the Danish Reserve Artillery). From the marks made on impact by a shell when it lands (known as “splash marks”) it is possible to tell from which direction the shell came; and based on the size of the impact it is possible to determine the size of the gun involved. Mr. Laustsen concluded that the shells in this case were fired from a 122mm artillery gun with a range of 14 kilometres. (He reached this conclusion together with Britbat or Canbat officers and conceded in cross-examination that it could have been a 152 mm shell.) The witness took a compass reading which showed that the shells came from the west and an area controlled by the HVO.1344 The witness found that there were no military objectives around the market-place within reasonable range of where the shells impacted.1345 (In cross-examination Major Baggesen said that in April the Serb artillery was shelling Zenica and it was shelled on 20 and 21 April and 8 May. In the witness’s view this shelling, with the exception of that on 19 April, was due to the Serbs.)1346

  118. The Prosecution called, as an expert, Mr. John Hamill, an Irish artillery officer who has 25 years’ experience as a gunnery instructor. In 1997 the witness investigated the shelling. His findings were as follows: on 19 April 1993 the shells landed in three groups of two, at 12.10 p.m., 12.24 p.m. and 12.29 p.m.1347 There was an error in the third of the six rounds.1348 The witness agreed with the crater analysis made at the time by the ECMM monitors . He concluded that two pieces of artillery were used: D-30 J Howitzers which are hand-loaded and which have a slow rate of fire. It was a professional piece of artillery work with the fire being adjusted by an observer.1349 The witness’s view was that the intended target was the radio station: thus, rounds 5 and 6 bracketed the area and the firing then ceased. Remnants from the shelling were produced to the witness in Zenica. These were found to be from 122 mm OF 482 Z shells which, when fired from a D-30 J Howitzer, have a range of 15 kilometres .1350 The line of fire was from due west. The witness went out in that direction and came across a possible gun -platform at Puticevo, south-east of Travnik, close to the maximum range. The witness said that the shelling could not have come from Serb territory, which was out of range. This gun would have made a loud noise: if closer than 15 kilometres it would have been within hearing distance of the ABiH positions in Zenica.1351 (In this connection, the Prosecution also relies on the Duty Officer’s Report, Vitez Command, 19 April 1993, stating that “if attacks intensify from the direction of Zenica, we propose the use of artillery under the command of the O.Z.”.)1352

  119. The defence case is that the Serbs were responsible for the shelling. The Defence called Dr. Slobodan Jankovic, a former Colonel in the JNA and retired Professor of Aerodynamics, as an expert witness. His evidence was that, based on the materials available it was not possible to determine what calibre of weapon was used, the distance over which it was fired or the direction of the projectile.1353 However, his expertise is that of an engineer: he has no artillery experience and has only fired an artillery piece on a range and never as an artillery officer firing with units and troops.1354 Accordingly , the Trial Chamber is satisfied that the evidence of Mr. Hamill, an independent and experienced artillery officer, is to be preferred and finds that the HVO fired the shells at the radio station, missed and hit the market-place with the concomitant death and destruction: a pure act of terrorism. Thus, the underlying offences in Counts 3 and 4 and 7 – 13 are made out insofar as they relate to Zenica. However , the Trial Chamber can find no connection between this act and Dario Kordic. It is consistent with a military action, the result of a military command which had no political connection. It is not consistent with the pattern of the other HVO attacks on towns and villages at this time; and was thus outside the common design or plan and not part of it. If it had a political connection none has been demonstrated . In these circumstances it is not possible to draw the inference that Dario Kordic was implicated in this unlawful attack.

    10. Events at the End of April 1993 and the Cease-Fire

  120. On 19 April 1993 the ECMM reported a sharp deterioration of the situation in Central Bosnia, a possible explanation being the “suspected aim of the HVO while the world’s attention is focused on Srebrenica … to take over the territory of the two provinces, described in the Vance-Owen Plan as predominantly Croat, while the Muslim community is determined to avoid this”.1355

  121. On 20 April 1993, Gacice, a village to the south-east of Stari Vitez, was attacked by the HVO; this village was one which was evenly divided between Muslims and Croats . According to the evidence of Witness AP the village came under attack from three sides at 5.30 a.m. The Muslims were formed into a column and marched to the HVO headquarters at the Hotel Vitez which was being shelled by the ABiH. When there , they were told by an HVO soldier to sit down and wait and let their people shell them. However, they were not shelled but were kept there for over two hours before being returned to the few unburned Muslim houses in the village.1356 (The prosecution case is that these people were taken effectively as hostages to prevent the ABiH shelling the HVO headquarters.) At 1.30 p.m. on 20 April the Duty Officer of the Viteska Brigade reported that the “village of Gacice has been 70 per cent done” and would probably be under control by the end of the day.1357

  122. On 20 April 1993 Blaskic issued an order dismissing Stjepan Tuka, a moderate HVO officer, as Commander in Fojnica.1358 According to the evidence of Mr. Tuka he had followed a policy of compromise in Fojnica where peace had been maintained. His unit took no part in the fighting in the Lasva Valley. On 18 April Blaskic ordered him to attack Dusina,1359 but he did not carry out the order as he hoped for an agreement.1360 The result was his dismissal, despite protests from the local HVO and other organisations .1361

  123. On 21 April 1993 negotiations took place between the HVO and ABiH (under the chairmanship of the ECMM) with the aim of securing a cessation of the fighting and separation of the forces. To Blaskic’s notes of the meeting (which he sent to Kordic) he added this observation: “Of me they said that I’d be all right without Kordic giving me orders, and this is a big problem for everyone”.1362

  124. On 25 April 1993, at a meeting in Zagreb, between President Izetbegovic and Mr. Mate Boban, an agreement for an immediate cease-fire was reached.1363

    11. Role of Dario Kordic

  125. After 16 April 1993 the Jokers were withdrawn from the line at Ahmici and sent to conduct an operation in the village of Kovacevic. (Pasko Ljubicic told the witness that this was on the instructions of Dario Kordic.) The operation failed and three or four individuals from Busovaca were killed.1364 In this connection Witness AT gave evidence that Ivo Brnada (an HVO commander from Busovaca) told him that on one occasion he had to go to Kordic’s headquarters to convince Kordic that it was not possible to capture a height above Loncari called Vran Stijena, which Kordic was insisting upon; and only just managed to convince Kordic.1365

  126. The telephone conversations between Kordic and Blaskic recorded in the log of the CBOZ Duty Officer continued on 17 April 1993:

    08.17: D. Kordic calling Colonel T.B., who informed him about the course of events and especially mentioned that the attacks by Muslim forces … [which] began at 0525 hours. Informed him of losses, casualties, wounded, missing, captured … .1366

    11.26: Dario K. calling Colonel T.B.

    13.14: Call from D. Kordic. “It was not us firing just now, it was the Muslims, not us.”1367

    16.35: Tiho got through to D. Kordic – submitted a report on the current situation .

    20.11: Dario K. calling Colonel T.B. “He told me that the brunt of the attack was headed our way. We’ve hammered Kuber. It is urgent … . Send reinforcements to Pasko … so that he can come here … .1368

    18 April:

    12.35: Dario K. calling Colonel T.B., in brief, “our great friend from below called (telling us) to hold 2-3 days”.1369

    19 April:

    16.23: Dario K. calling Colonel T.B. “The municipal building and command headquarters have been hit, as well as others.”1370

    16.29: Dario K. calling Colonel T.B. – they have captured elevation 808 (Kuber), proceeding well, we are pushing on to the top of Kuber.1371

    17.40: Dario K. calling. “Has it gone off? Igla replies that it is en route, but has to be observed. The answer is that it went off towards R.”1372

    21.40: D. Kordic calling Colonel T.B. for further coordination.1373

    20 April:

    08.23: “Dario K. calling Colonel T.B. submits a report on what has been done so far.” (Reporting situation in Preocica, Travnik and Fojnica where it is noted that the situation has not been handled well and the survival of battalion command is under a question mark.(1374

    12.28: Dario K. calling Colonel T.B. – “the one which was fired 3 minutes ago towards Solakovici - hit dead centre”… .1375

  127. Another incident in Busovaca in April 1993 needs comment because, according to the Prosecution, it illustrates the power exercised by Dario Kordic at this time in the Lasva Valley. This incident is summarised in an ECMM report, as follows:

    On 28 Apr. a 40-vehicle convoy escorted by 2 x Warrior APCs was detained by HVO forces, who demanded that they search it. HVO claimed that their orders came from Mr Kordic, HVO Central Bosnia. They said they would ignore any orders from Col Blaskic … or Brig Petkovic … . Eventually Brig Petkovic contacted Mr Kordic and the convoy was allowed to pass. Local HVO said that they were only ‘acting on Mr Kordic’s orders’.1376

    The convoy was a UNHCR convoy of food supplies on its way to Zenica.1377

  128. At the time that this convoy was detained a meeting was taking place in the Hotel International, Zenica, to discuss cease-fire arrangements: present at the meeting were General Petkovic (HVO) and General Halilovic (ABiH) and the meeting was chaired by Ambassador J.P. Thebault, Head of the Zenica Regional Centre of the ECMM.1378 The meeting was interrupted by Lt. Colonel Landry (the desk officer in the ECMM operations room) with news of the hijacking of the convoy.1379 Also present at the meeting was Mr. Christopher Beese, Deputy Head of the Regional Centre, who made a contemporaneous note of the meeting. According to his evidence when the interruption occurred, Ambassador Thebault asked General Petkovic to come to the communications centre to take action, the idea being that General Petkovic should phone Mr. Kordic to obtain the release of the convoy. The interpreter briefed the witness and Ambassador Thebault at the end of each phone call. In the first call General Petkovic told Mr. Kordic to release the convoy. The accused said that he would not: he was not beholden to Petkovic any more than he was to Colonel Blaskic; he only answered to Mate Boban. Ambassador Thebault advised General Petkovic to try again. In the second phone call General Petkovic advised the accused to release the convoy.1380 The convoy was duly released on Kordic’s intervention.1381

  129. There is support for the evidence about the convoy in the form of entries in the CBOZ Duty Officer’s log. On 27 April 1993 Colonel Blaskic is recorded as calling Dario Kordic to ask the latter whether he should allow a convoy for Tuzla through . (The answer, apparently, was that there were Croats in it, wait and see.)1382 The entry for 28 April reads:

    14.00: A call from the Puticevo checkpoint to ask if they should let a convoy through .

    16.12: Call from D. Kordic to Colonel T.B. to inform him that … a convoy was held at Puticevo and was being thoroughly inspected.1383

  130. It was denied in evidence that General Petkovic was there at all, or that he knew anything of phone calls to Kordic.1384 The Defence also points out that no UNPROFOR document refers to any such convoy and that Colonel Stewart’s diary does not do so.1385 Furthermore, the Defence relies on the fact that Colonel Stewart was himself in Busovaca at the time1386 and testified that he had no recollection of any specific convoy problems that day:1387 none were recorded in his diary1388 nor in his official Commander’s Diary.1389 The Defence further relies on the evidence of Mr. Beese that he did not know whether Kordic was actually on the other end of the telephone when General Petkovic made the call.1390

  131. However, the Trial Chamber accepts the evidence of Mr. Beese, supported, as it is, by his notes and the entries in the log: it rejects the evidence relied on by the Defence and does not find the absence of any mention in other documents persuasive. The Trial Chamber finds that the evidence clearly shows Dario Kordic exercising authority over HVO forces.

    12. The Role of Mario Cerkez

  132. Since the relevant counts in the Indictment relating to unlawful attacks on civilians (Counts 5 – 6) and wilful killings and inhumane treatment (Counts 14 – 20) in the case of Mario Cerkez relate only to incidents in April 1993 in Vitez, Stari Vitez, Veceriska and Ahmici and its associated hamlets, it is convenient to consider at this stage his role in the events of that month.

  133. It is the prosecution case that Mario Cerkez, as Commander of the Viteska Brigade , was responsible for the units which carried out the unlawful attacks in the Vitez municipality on 16 April 1993. The Prosecution relies on the following orders from Colonel Blaskic to Mario Cerkez and the latter’s reports to the former as pointing to Mario Cerkez’s involvement with the events of 16 April:

    (a) At a time which is not given but (from a stamp) may be 8.52 a.m., on 16 April Colonel Blaskic ordered the commanders of brigades to report immediately on the current situation: on the reverse of the order is a hand-written response headed “Viteska Brigade” and stating:

    Donja Veceriska … fell;

    We are advancing in Ahmici;

    Sivrino Selo and Vrhovine are offering a truce;

    We have three casualties.1391

    (b) At 10 a.m. the same morning Cerkez reported ongoing fighting in the city and municipality : “[HVO] responding … with artillery fire our forces are advancing in D. Veceriska … Ahmici”.1392

    (c) At 10.35 a.m. the same morning Colonel Blaskic sent an order to the Commander of the Viteska Brigade:

    “Completely take the villages of Donja Veceriska [sic], Ahmici, Sivrino Selo and Vrhovine.”1393

    (d) At an unknown time the same day, Mario Cerkez reported to the CBOZ Commander “with regard to your subject concerning … further combat actions”:

    - The village of Donja Veceriska has been 70 per cent done …

    - The village of Ahmici has also been 70 per cent done: We have taken 14 prisoners …

    - Sivrino Selo has been moved … [the ABiH is] properly dug in and … our artillery is constantly acting …

    - Vrhovine is very hard to take over and we act on it only with artillery …

    - The situation in Vraniska and Kruscica is very difficult … we act with artillery (mortar) … units are completely cut off …

    - The situation in Poculica is also difficult … pressure from the Muslim forces … is very strong … in the area of Vrhovine, Poculica (around the mosque) and Preoc ica more help is needed with artillery.1394

    (e) At 12 noon Cerkez reported on the situation in the Viteska Brigade’s zone of responsibility and referring to battles in all regions of the municipality.1395

    (f) At 2.50 p.m. on the same day Mario Cerkez reported to Colonel Blaskic that:

    - he had no suggestions “with regard to the latter’s enquiry concerning the unit … surrounded in Kruscica”.

    - the town is “clean” and … “we have about 50 Muslims in the cellar of the Brigade Police station”.

    - Stari Vitez “still remains … a problem. What shall we do ….?”1396

  134. The Prosecution submits that these documents demonstrate that Mario Cerkez was in Donja Veceriska on 16 April 1993 involved in arresting people and the cleansing of villages by artillery and ground forces. As for his part in the attack on Ahmici, they submit that the function of his brigade was to keep UNPROFOR out of the area and whether he himself or any of his soldiers participated in the attack on Ahmici does not change anything: he was part of the plan and played his role.1397

  135. The Trial Chamber concludes that these documents clearly establish that the Viteska Brigade was in the thick of the fighting and that Mario Cerkez was in command of the Brigade. In particular the Brigade took part in operations in Vitez, Vec eriska and Ahmici during 16 April 1993 (but only later in the day and not during the initial assault on Ahmici).

  136. The Prosecution called evidence which demonstrated Mr. Cerkez’s reaction to these events:

    (a) On 17 April 1993 Colonel Morsink, an ECMM Monitor, visited Vitez and spoke to Mario Cerkez. In his report Colonel Morsink described the situation in Vitez as “almost [a] full war going on” with shelling and small arms fire being heard all day.1398 In his evidence, Colonel Morsink said that he met Mario Cerkez in his headquarters in the Cinema, although it was difficult to get to the building because of fighting in the streets and the many guards on the front of the building and inside it. The witness recollected his meeting with the accused as the meeting was concerned with who started the conflict . The witness asked Cerkez to stop the conflict but he replied that the Mujahedin from Zenica had to be stopped first; until then he could not stop the fighting and many of his soldiers were out of control.1399

    (b) On 26 April 1993 Mario Cerkez issued an announcement as Brigade Commander, referring to a cease-fire agreement signed in Zagreb and “the heroic struggle of the soldiers and people on the defence lines in Krcevine, Nadioci [and] Pirici and all our defence areas …”.1400

    (c) On 4 May 1993 Mr. Payam Akhavan, at the time an investigator for the UNHCR, met Mario Cerkez in the Cinema and discussed the events in Ahmici with him. According to Mr. Akhavan’s evidence about the meeting, Mario Cerkez said he was asleep that morning (16 April) but he was not surprised at the events because hostilities with the Bosnian Muslims had been anticipated. Colonel Stewart then arrived and told Mario Cerkez that it would be his responsibility to conduct a thorough investigation and discipline his subordinates for violations of international humanitarian law .1401 Mario Cerkez said that chaos reigned on the morning of 16 April in the Vitez area but he did not deny atrocities had taken place. Mario Cerkez said that his troops were defending themselves against Muslim forces in an attack which they had not anticipated. At first Mario Cerkez was confrontational in demeanour but was more intimated when Colonel Stewart arrived and it appeared that Mario Cerkez may be held accountable.1402 The witness was cross-examined about his notes of the meeting, where it was recorded that Cerkez said that HOS (a mixed Muslim and Croat force from Zenica) was present during hostilities in Ahmici. The notes continued:

    “Ahmici – again HOS(?) – HVO did not do it.”

    The witness said that this was a description of what Cerkez said: the question mark was because the witness doubted the explanation.1403

    (d) When taxed by Pasko Ljubicic with allowing UNPROFOR into Ahmici on 16 April 1993, Cerkez said that it was not his fault but Bertovic’s; or that the explanation was that UNPROFOR went round the barricade.1404

  137. On 4 May 1993 the Brigade military police sent to Mario Cerkez a report on the control of apartments, dealing with the search of 21 apartments in Vitez.1405 The Prosecution submits that this demonstrates Cerkez’s control over military police . A defence witness, Dragan Calic, said that the search was carried out in streets close to the command building and was for the security of the building: it was sent to Cerkez to inform him of the security situation.1406

  138. According to Colonel Morsink, Cerkez threatened to burn Kruscica down because Croats had been killed.1407 When the witness was challenged on this piece of evidence, he confirmed that Cerkez had said it and he had made a note of it.1408

  139. The final area of prosecution evidence concerning Mr. Cerkez’s role was given by two international observers about events at, or shortly after, the time with which this part of the Judgement is concerned.

  140. Mr. Michael Buffini (a United Kingdom Liaison Officer) gave evidence that, in April 1993, Cerkez came to play a part in the meetings of the Busovaca Joint Commission, despite the hostility of some local ABiH commanders. The witness’s evidence was that on the Commission it was clear that the HVO representative, Franjo Nakic, had very little authority, whereas Cerkez had more authority in deciding something; and when he said something would be done, the witness knew it would be done. When Cerkez attended the meetings of the Commission (as he did on two or three occasions) he did so as local commander: it was clear that he had command and authority over his troops in his area.1409

  141. Captain Whitworth (a British battalion liaison officer in Vitez in June 1993 ) gave this assessment of Mario Cerkez’s role: Cerkez was held in high regard by the local population. On the other hand Colonel Blaskic did not appear to be held in high regard by Mario Cerkez who was demeaning of the former’s authority and effectiveness . There was reluctant cooperation and on occasion Cerkez ignored Blaskic’s orders .1410

  142. The defence evidence included this explanation. A defence witness, Josip Zuljevic, said of the reports of 16 and 17 April 19931411 that the reference to “our forces” in the reports referred to the forces of the HVO and not merely the Viteska Brigade: all the developments in Vitez were described regardless of unit. (No part of the Brigade was in Donja Veceriska, Ahmici, Sivrino Selo or Vrhovine.) The witness was Head of Transport for the Brigade at the time and, as part of the command, was in the Brigade headquarters on 16 April and was a witness to the gathering of information for reports by telephone. Cerkez had instructed the command of the Viteska Brigade to compile all information from the territory of the municipality of Vitez, from friends and neighbours and by ringing duty officers of the other units.

  143. The defence case for Mario Cerkez may be summarised: (a) the alleged criminal acts regarding attacks on civilians and the detention of civilians, if they occurred at all, were committed by the “special purpose units” (the Vitezovi, the Jokers and the military police); and (b) these special purpose units were outside the command responsibility of Mario Cerkez when the crimes allegedly occurred. Thus , a number of Defence witnesses blamed the special purpose units for the alleged massacre at Ahmici in April 1993 and for the alleged illegal detention of civilians .1412 Defence evidence painted a picture of a highly strained command structure in Vitez, where a number of fringe military groups (some with significant “criminal elements”) contributed to a volatile and intimidating environment.1413 More specifically, there was also evidence that Mario Cerkez did not have any control over the actions of these special purpose units.1414 The Defence also called evidence that the command structure of the HVO in the CBOZ was confused in the spring of 1993 and many units were acting without the orders of their commanders. For instance, an order issued by Mario Cerkez on 18 March 1993 to his subordinate commanders that, in the light of “an increased incidence of overt destructive acts by individuals wearing HVO uniforms and insignia”, the commanders were to discipline and disarm such individuals.1415 According to another order, issued by Colonel Blaskic on 30 May 1993, an assessment of the quality of command and control of HVO units in Central Bosnia revealed many weaknesses, most notably “duality of leadership and command, overlapping of authority , and unauthorised combat operations without orders from a superior commander.”1416

  144. The Defence also presented evidence that, although the HVO units were under the direct command of Colonel Blaskic in March-April 1993, the special purpose units were under contract with the Ministry of Defence. Brigadier Nakic testified that the Vitezovi and the military police were placed under the direct control of Colonel Blaskic as of 4 June 1993.1417 Before 4 June 1993, if Colonel Blaskic needed to use the Vitezovi, he had to seek the permission of the HVO Main Staff in Mostar.1418 When confronted by prosecution exhibits of Viteska Brigade personnel lists that included the special purpose units, Gordana Badrov, a defence witness, claimed that the command of the Viteska Brigade was often accused of not having included all military-age men in Vitez. Thus, when the command realised that a certain military -age man had been assigned to another unit, he would be recorded as “engaged personnel from Vitez in other units.”1419

  145. Zvonko Vukovic, Commander until January 1993, testified that he organised the IV Battalion Military Police, which numbered about 600 men in total, into five companies responsible for five main areas in Central Bosnia;1420 a small platoon of the IV Battalion Military Police, comprised of about 20 men, secured the headquarters of the Viteska Brigade and were based at the Cinema hall . Yet the military police was not subordinate to the Viteska Brigade,1421 and was only called “brigade police” because they were responsible for the security of the Brigade.1422 However, the military police sometimes discharged duties typical of regular military units. The IV Battalion Military Police, for example, intervened in a number of situations when the front line was in peril.1423 Colonel Blaskic would issue an order to Marinko Palavra (Commander of the IV Battalion Military Police from August 1993) to use the military police in such combat activities , and Palavra in turn would command the police. Mario Cerkez was not authorised to issue such orders and no brigade commander had such authority; all had to seek the authority of Colonel Blaskic before issuing combat orders to the military police .1424 (Furthermore, neither Colonel Blaskic nor Mario Cerkez had the authority to order investigations into criminal offences.)1425 The military police did not come under the direct control of the Viteska Brigade until August 1993.1426

  146. The Cerkez Defence case is that the Viteska Brigade was not involved in the attack on Ahmici and that on 16 April 1993 the Brigade was on the southern side of the area with the assignment to block possible attempts at breakthrough by the ABiH forces from the direction of Krušcica and Vraniska (from the south) toward the centre of the town.1427 The Defence also relies on the report from Miroslav Tuđman of 21 March 1994, to which reference has already been made and which exculpates Mario Cerkez from involvement in the massacre in Ahmici.1428

  147. The Trial Chamber finds that there is clear evidence that Mario Cerkez, as Commander of the Viteska Brigade, participated in the attacks on Vitez, Stari Vitez and Veceriska. This is to be inferred from his presence at the military meeting on 15 April 1993, the documentary evidence concerning events of 16 April and the entries in the Duty Officer’s Log. However, there is no evidence which satisfied the Trial Chamber beyond reasonable doubt that he bears any responsibility for the initial attack on Ahmici on 16 April which was the responsibility of the military police battalion, not under his command: there was no involvement of the Brigade in the initial attack and any involvement in the area was subsequent to the massacre .

    D. The June and October Offensives

  148. In June 1993 further fighting broke out in Central Bosnia, some of it caused by the newly revitalised ABiH. It may be noted that, by this time, although Dr. Karadzic had added his signature to those of Mr. Boban and President Izetbegovic to the Vance-Owen Peace Plan, the Bosnian Serb Assembly had rejected the plan and in May it had become clear that the international will was lacking for the 10-province solution proposed under the plan.1429

    1. The Convoy of Joy

  149. In early June 1993 there occurred another incident which the Prosecution says demonstrates the power and control exercised by Dario Kordic in the Lasva Valley . This incident also involved a convoy, variously referred to as the “Convoy of Joy”, “Convoy of Mercy” or the “Tuzla Convoy”. This convoy of aid supplies was made up of several hundred trucks, was seven kilometres in length and was bound for Tuzla. It was approaching Central Bosnia when it was stopped at an HVO checkpoint near Prozor, where it was seen by members of a delegation of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag. On 7 June 1993, two members of the delegation wrote to the ECMM at Zenica about their fears for the safety of the convoy when it reached the area of Travnik and Vitez in the light of threats made to it by Mate Boban (whom the delegation had met).1430 As a result the ECMM decided to monitor the convoy.

  150. The convoy then made its way to Central Bosnia and the area of Novi Travnik . There it was stopped at a roadblock formed by a large crowd of Croat women at Rankovici, north of Novi Travnik. Eight of the drivers were shot and killed, vehicles were driven away and the convoy was looted by civilians and soldiers. Lt. Colonel Duncan, now Commanding Officer of Britbat, had spoken to Colonel Blaskic about the safety of the convoy. Colonel Blaskic said that he would do his best to ensure its safety but it was difficult to control the crowd. Colonel Duncan was prevented from getting to the scene by a crowd of women and children. Eventually the convoy was released. In defending the convoy Britbat shot and killed two HVO soldiers.1431

  151. The convoy was then stopped again by a crowd at the Dubravica checkpoint near Vitez. Colonel Duncan’s evidence was that he went with Colonel Blaskic to try and unblock the convoy. He was told that the soldiers, women and children would not move, except on the express orders of Dario Kordic. The witness had this confirmed to him a number of times: the crowd was shouting “Kordic, Kordic”. They would not speak to Blaskic: when his name was mentioned one person spat on the ground .1432 Similarly, a Milinfosum records that “locals claim that they would only lift the roadblock on the direct personal orders of Dario Kordic and were not interested in the orders of Tihomir Blaskic”.1433

  152. Meanwhile, many of the trucks were driven away, seven of them to the Dubravica school;1434 others were later found parked in Novi Travnik, Nova Bila, Vitez and Busovaca.1435 Witness AA went to the scene and from there sent a message by CAPSAT (Satellite Communications System) to the Chief of Mission of the ECMM, saying that the convoy was blocked, the HVO would only obey Dario Kordic’s orders and requiring “an immediate intervention on Boban by Tudjman”.1436 (At the roadblock the witness asked a man, whom he thought was a mercenary, and who was threatening him, if Colonel Blaskic had authorised this; the man said “ only Mr. Kordic can give us orders”.)1437

  153. Meanwhile, Brigadier Wingfield Hayes, the Chief of Staff of UNPROFOR at this time, had secured an undertaking from General Petkovic that he would try to secure for the convoy a safe passage through Vitez. General Petkovic had failed to ensure this and the witness’s opinion was that, although he was Commander-in-Chief of the HVO, his authority in the Vitez pocket was limited. The witness went to Vitez and made enquiry as to who had the authority to prevent the hijacking: he was directed to Dario Kordic, whom he found in a woodyard in the west of the pocket. The witness complained of what had happened to the convoy. The accused said that he was doing his best but the witness felt that he was not. The witness then went to the quarry where the remains of the convoy were. He was led there by Anto Valenta. He again saw Dario Kordic who, again, said that he was doing his best. On the journey with Anto Valenta they came upon a line of vehicles being looted by the HVO: Valenta ignored this.1438 In cross-examination the witness said that the persons to whom the witness spoke were HVO officers and soldiers. He agreed that there was no reference in his statement to the Prosecution in 1996 to his asking who had authority and being directed to Kordic: the witness commented that there should have been, as he remembered it full-well.1439

  154. Colonel Duncan had also complained to Colonel Blaskic and Mr. Kordic and the latter said that he would sort out the situation. Within one hour the vehicles were all released. It was clear to the witness that Mr. Kordic was calling the shots. The witness concluded that a plan had been made to take a slice off the convoy for the inhabitants of the Vitez pocket. It was all carefully orchestrated . The witness asked the HVO to produce a report as to why people had been murdered : he asked Dario Kordic to produce it but none was produced.1440 In cross-examination the witness said that he was present when locals said that they would not move except on the orders of Dario Kordic.1441

  155. The defence evidence included a Public Announcement from Kordic, Blaskic and Ignac Kostroman (with a date-received stamp of 11 June 1993) referring to eight Croat children being killed in Vitez and the passage of the convoy kindling an eruption of feelings turning into anarchy and chaos which could not be stopped;1442 and a report dated 23 June on measures taken by HVO officials (having been given the responsibility by Kordic, Kostroman and Anto Valenta): the officials toured Novi Travnik municipality and found 63 vehicles and a large quantity of goods and released over 30 vehicles from Vitez.1443

  156. The defence case concerning the convoy was that there was no plan to stop the convoy - its stopping was a spontaneous act by angry and hungry civilians.1444 Several witnesses also testified that 20,000 Croat refugees had come from Travnik as a result of a Muslim offensive and that, immediately before the halting of the convoy, eight Croat children had been killed in a playground by an artillery shell : as a result tensions were very high.1445 Witness CW1 testified that he had pleaded in vain with General Morillon to keep the convoy out of Central Bosnia where the Muslims were attacking Travnik.1446 Other witnesses gave evidence that the looting of the Convoy of Joy was not premeditated , but occurred as a result of anger and hunger.1447

  157. The defence case concerning Kordic’s role was that he had nothing to do with orchestrating the crowds in stopping the convoy: he had been asked for assistance by UNPROFOR for safe passage of the convoy and he had provided it.1448 Major Gelic testified that the convoy was not stopped as a result of a plan drawn up by the HVO and Kordic:1449 on the contrary, Kordic was asked to assist in getting the convoy moving again because he had a reputation amongst international community representatives of being helpful .1450 Another witness gave evidence that Kordic did his best to try to bring the lorries together and direct them to their destinations.1451

  158. However, evidence tending to confirm the accused’s role was given by Witness AT. This witness said that sometime in 1993 he received a handwritten message which was sent to him by mistake by Kordic and was meant for Ivan Santic (President of the Vitez HVO) or Anto Valenta. It told them to stop the convoy which was about to pass because the food was needed. It went on: “Organise the women and the people at Impregnacija. The convoy must not pass”. The witness gave evidence that the next day the convoy was stopped at Novi Travnik and looted.1452

  159. The Trial Chamber accepts the prosecution evidence on this topic (which, effectively , was not challenged) which establishes that the crowds which stopped the Convoy of Joy were under the control of Dario Kordic and Colonel Blaskic.

    2. The Conflict in Travnik and Zenica

  160. On 4 June 1993 the ABiH forces attacked the HVO in the Travnik municipality . This led to a large exodus of the Croat population: much defence evidence was given about these events. The military attack began on 3 June 1993. On 5 June 1993, the ABiH attacked the village of Dolac, outside Travnik.1453 On 6 June 1993, the ABiH attacked the village of Ovcarevo.1454 On 8 June, the ABiH attacked and took over the Brajkovici parish.1455 By 13 June, the ABiH had taken Travnik and the surrounding villages.1456 According to an ECMM Report the first reports of ethnic cleansing and destruction were exaggerated.1457 On 8 June there was fighting in Guca Gora with reports of atrocities and destruction, the Catholic church in flames and thousands fleeing. These reports were investigated by two ECMM monitors, Colonel Morsink and Witness AD. They found the church still standing and the claims of destruction to be exaggerated.1458 The movement of population was organised by the HVO.1459 However, a Milinfosum of 16 June describes the desecration of Guca Gora church.1460 Another Milinfosum, dated 9 June 1993, comments: This is the first time that the BiH have taken the military initiative against the HVO in Central Bosnia. On all other occasions the BiH have responded to HVO aggression (Gornji Vakuf, Vitez and Mostar). It would appear that [the 3rd Corps (ABiH)] are orchestrating a carefully planned and phased attack against the HVO in the areas of Travnik and the Western Lasva Valley.1461

  161. On the other hand, the Defence relies on an UNPROFOR report from 9 June 1993 , which appears to corroborate the defence version of events on that date. On 9 June 1993, UNPROFOR headquarters in Kiseljak reported that ABiH forces had launched an operation west of Zenica early that morning, attacking several villages and taking them under control.1462 On 10 June , they reported that heavy fighting had broken out in Kakanj, and that Britbat had established a “protective presence” in Guca Gora, where 186 people (mainly Croat women and children) were sheltered in a church. UNPROFOR evacuation transported the people to Nova Bila.1463 On 14 June 1993, UNPROFOR headquarters reported that the ABiH had decided to find its own solution in Central Bosnia, noting that “Ethnic cleansing, theft, looting and executions have been the principle (sic) characteristics of the last few days. The BiH seems to be master of the situation even though Croat HVO forces still have strongholds in some areas.1464

    3. The HVO Offensives in June 1993

    (a) Novi Travnik

  162. The HVO retaliated as follows. On 9 June 1993 fighting again broke out in Novi Travnik and was to continue until the conclusion of the Washington Accords in February 1994. The front line ran through the centre of the town and did not move much during the conflict. In June 1993 a high-rise building on the front line , called Stari Soliter, was the scene of intense fighting. Fifty-seven people, including 10 women and 18 children were trapped in the building for three months . At first the HVO refused to allow the evacuation of the building but eventually , in September, agreed to exchange them for Croat residents of two villages held by the ABiH.1465

  163. The Defence evidence concerning Novi Travnik is as follows: in Travnik and Novi Travnik, another large offensive was launched on 9 June 1993, causing 6–8,000 refugees to flee. The HVO regrouped, but were surrounded in Novi Travnik, as ABiH forces then controlled 90 per cent of the municipality.1466 On 10 June 1993, Colonel Blaškic reported that the MOS intended to intensify their attacks on and cleansing of Croat territories from the south-west (chiefly on the axis of Gornji Vakuf-Novi Travnik and Gornji Vakuf-Sebešic-Fojnica-Kacuni). He also reported on intense combat activities in villages in the municipalities of Travnik, Novi Travnik and Busovaca.1467 In Senkovici and the surrounding villages in Novi Travnik municipality, the ABiH attacked at 5.15 a.m. on 9 June 1993.1468

    (b) Tulica and Han Ploca–Grahovci

  164. On 12-13 June 1993 the HVO attacked villages in the Kiseljak municipality, beginning with Tulica on 12 June. The prosecution case is that a number of villages were attacked; however, only the attacks on Tulica and Han Ploca–Grahovci are specifically mentioned in the Indictment (Counts 7 – 13).

  165. Tulica is about 15 kilometres from Kiseljak, towards Sarajevo to the south. Before the war it had a population of about 350, all Muslim, but surrounded by villages with Croat or Serb populations. During the war Tulica found itself between the positions of the HVO and the BSA and was subject to intermittent shelling. Some of the inhabitants left and the population was reduced to 250. The prosecution case is that, on 12 June 1993, Tulica was attacked by the HVO, resulting in the deaths of at least 12 villagers and the destruction of the village. The attack began with heavy shelling of the village from about 10 a.m. to midday.1469 The shelling was followed by an infantry attack on the village from several directions . One witness described the HVO soldiers singing and shouting as they set the houses on fire (they were carrying pumps or sprays to apply the gasoline) and herding the civilian population to where the men were separated from the women. The same witness saw the murders of seven men whom he knew: he also heard of more killings, including those of a pensioner and three women, one of whom was burnt to death in her house . The surviving men were loaded onto a truck and taken to Kiseljak barracks.1470 Another witness described the women being forced to give up their money and jewellery , the men being led away in a line and four taken out and shot: according to this witness, 11 men and one woman were killed.1471 The soldiers were in black or camouflage uniforms and had white ribbons around their arms: those in black were identified as coming from the Apostoli and Maturice units , based in Kiseljak, and those in camouflage as members of the HVO.1472

  166. Han Ploca and Grahovci are associated villages which also lie to the south of Kiseljak on the way to Sarajevo, not far from Tulica. Shortly after the attack on Tulica they were also subject to attack by the HVO. The prosecution evidence was that the HVO issued an ultimatum to the Muslims to surrender their weapons. After the ultimatum expired, the village was shelled by the HVO and the BSA, and houses were set on fire. An HVO infantry attack followed. Having come into the village, HVO soldiers lined up three Muslim men against a wall and shot them. They also killed some other men and set fire to a garage with people in it. The women and children were then taken to the Kiseljak barracks.1473 One witness said that his sister (aged 15), father and grandmother were all killed and that in all 64 people were killed during the attack or after their capture.1474

  167. No defence evidence was called about these attacks. The Trial Chamber finds that the attacks on Tulica and Han Ploca–Grahovci were part of a sustained HVO attack in which civilians were murdered and subjected to inhumane treatment and the underlying offences in Counts 7 – 13 of the Indictment in relation to these events are made out.

    (c) Presence of Dario Kordic

  168. The defence case is that there was no link between Dario Kordic and events in Kiseljak which was cut off from Busovaca.1475 However, evidence of Dario Kordic’s presence in Kiseljak during the June 1993 conflict was given by Witness Y who saw him that month in Kiseljak barracks. Witness Y’s evidence was that on 14 June 1993 he was arrested in Topolje with other villagers and taken to Kiseljak barracks where they were all detained in a room in a building . Within two hours of his arrival there he was beaten. His head was bleeding and he was told to wash in a trough in the hall of the building. As he was washing he saw Dario Kordic coming out of the building. Kordic was 8-14 metres away. There were HVO soldiers around Kordic who came out first with others behind him. The witness spent three days in the barracks and was then transferred to the municipal building where he saw Kordic again 23 or 24 days later. On behalf of the Defence it was disputed that Mr. Kordic was in the barracks as alleged by the witness. However, the latter said that he had seen the accused there for about five seconds , time enough for the accused to take five or six steps. He had seen the accused many times in Kiseljak in 1992-1993, sometimes in uniform, black or camouflage, or with a gun in his belt and always accompanied and with bodyguards. He had also seen the accused many times on television: the first time when Kordic was making a speech.1476

  169. In this connection it is the defence case, although no evidence was called to this effect, that the accused was only twice in this period in Kiseljak and that was at the end of August 1993 for meetings under the auspices of UNPROFOR.1477 The Defence relies on evidence that the Kiseljak enclave was cut off from the Vitez -Busovaca enclave and that it was "difficult, if not impossible" to get from one enclave to the other,1478 for everyone including Mr. Kordic. The Defence asserts that Mr. Kordic was not in Kiseljak and had no influence there, generally, in 1993.1479 In considering this evidence the Trial Chamber bears in mind that it relates to an alleged identification of the accused by a witness. Such evidence must be approached with caution because of the ease with which even an honest and convincing witness may be mistaken.1480 Thus it is necessary to look at the circumstances of the identification. The witness knew who the accused was and had seen him often before. He was, therefore, in a position to recognise the accused. His view of him was for more than a split second and he had the opportunity to make a firm identification. His evidence was not shaken in cross-examination. The Trial Chamber, therefore, accepts his evidence.

  170. The Trial Chamber finds that these offensives were another manifestation of the HVO design to subjugate the Muslims of Central Bosnia. As with the offensives against the villages of the same municipality in April 1993, the Trial Chamber is satisfied that the attacks would not have been launched without the approval of the local political leadership in the person of Dario Kordic. The fact of his direct involvement in this case is confirmed by the evidence of his presence in Kiseljak during the offensives. It is, therefore, to be inferred that he was associated with the giving or orders to attack these villages, including Tulica and Han Plo ca-Grahovci.

    (d) The Remaining Offensives

  171. The remaining offensives were as follows. On 16 June 1993, and the days following , the HVO military police and other units from Kiseljak attacked the ABiH positions in Kresevo, burning villages, setting mosques alight and detaining the Muslim population .1481 On 24 June the HVO launched an assault on Zepce, far to the north of the other localities dealt with in the Indictment. The assault began with shelling and (according to one witness) the use of Serb tanks. There was some resistance but 90 per cent of Zepce (apart from the Croat area) was destroyed or set on fire by the shelling. All four mosques were completely demolished during the attack and a number of people were killed. Zepce fell at the end of June.1482

  172. In pointing to a connection between Dario Kordic and events in Zepce, the Prosecution relies on Zepce’s location within the HZ H-B,1483 his issuing of orders to the municipality1484 and his invitation to its representatives to discuss the security situation on 5 April 1993.1485 The Prosecution claims that local HVO representatives “implemented the same policies which Kordic advocated and effected in his Central Bosnia pocket” - Zepce may have been distant and isolated but it was part of the same overall fiefdom in which Kordic was the principal active politician with power.1486 It is for the Trial Chamber to determine whether this claim is borne out by the evidence. The defence case is that there was no link between Kordic and Zepce which was cut off from the Busovaca-Vitez pocket.1487

  173. Meanwhile the ABiH attacked and took Kakanj. The defence evidence about this was that the ABiH launched a major offensive on 8 June 1993. An HVO member of the Kakanj War Presidency testified concerning events in Kakanj.1488 He described the workings of the Muslim-dominated government in Kakanj, and the systematic harassment and intimidation of the Croat population there.1489 He also testified to the incidents leading up to the ABiH offensive on 8 June 1993 , and the offensive itself. This offensive resulted in the complete defeat of the HVO forces in Kakanj after five days of fighting, as well as the killing of 120 Croats and the displacement to Vareš of 13-15,000 Croat refugees, together with the destruction of 2,500 homes, 30 chapels, and 30 cemeteries.1490 The Defence case was that the attack on Kakanj was part of a deliberate, organised action by the ABiH, whereby they attacked town by town and undertook the expulsion of the Croat population.1491 Thus , on 2 July the ABiH also attacked the HVO in Fojnica, destroying about 70 per cent of the Croatian villages and detaining some of the villagers. This attack was to lead to 5,500 Croats leaving Fojnica: after the war only 100 remained.1492

    4. The Owen-Stoltenberg Plan and Formation of the HR H-B: July - September 1993

  174. On 22 July 1993 an ECMM report was issued on the policy of the HVO to blockade totally the roads coming from the south as the most efficient weapon used by the HVO to strangle central and north Bosnia and to force the Bosnian Muslims to surrender . The report notes that this deliberate strategy, which began before the HVO offensive in April, had disastrous effects and stopped commercial traffic.1493

  175. On 27 July 1993 peace talks again began in Geneva and on 30 July President Izetbegovic, Dr. Karad`ic and Mr. Boban agreed to a cessation of hostilities and to an agreement for a union of three republics in Bosnia and Herzegovina.1494 On 6 August a report containing what was to be called the “Owen-Stoltenberg Plan ”, based on the union of three republics in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was sent by the Secretary-General to the Security Council.1495 The report noted that the boundary between the Croat and Muslim majority republics in Central Bosnia “where fighting was intense” during the negotiations was an “area of great contention”. (A Milinfosum, dated 24 August, refers to a request from Mate Boban for transport to a meeting to discuss the Geneva proposals which “reveals the Croat political hierarchy in Central Bosnia”. The list of 21 names is headed by that of “Dario Kordic, Vice-President HZ H-B”.)1496

  176. On 28 August 1993 the HZ H-B instituted the new Croat Republic of Herceg-Bosna (HR H-B) with Mate Boban as President.1497 Also on 28 August, the ECMM reported that “Colonel Blaskic refused to be drawn on the question of the Geneva proposals: he said that Dario Kordic spoke on matters concerning ‘ideas’ while he dealt with reality”. The report noted that Dario Kordic was “the key HDZ political figure in Central Bosnia and had long been suspected of controlling the HVO”. It was assessed that his influence over Blaskic was significant if not total.1498

  177. One witness’s evidence tends to connect Dario Kordic directly with military affairs during this period. This was the evidence of Sulejman Kalco, Deputy Commander of the Vitez TO during the war, who said that on 8 August 1993, at some time between noon and 1 p.m., he was touring the front lines near Vitez. He was in the remains of a house in Stari Vitez, looking at the lines towards Krcevine through binoculars . He saw Dario Kordic, Mario Cerkez and other HVO officers on the front line between the HVO and the ABiH forces about 500 meters away. Kordic was in camouflage uniform and waving his hands. The witness could see that Kordic was issuing orders: he was in command. The day was clear and sunny. That evening, on television, Kordic was shown touring the HVO lines and saying that the lines were firm and invincible .1499 The Defence disputes that the television programme took place. However, no evidence was called to contradict that given by Mr. Kalco. The scene of the accused on the front line was a vivid one and there is no reason for thinking that Mr. Kalco did not give truthful evidence about it and about the television programme. Accordingly, the Trial Chamber accepts his evidence on both these points.

  178. On 8 September 1993 the HVO launched a successful attack on the village of Grbavica, a hillside feature to the west of Vitez and close to the Britbat camp at Bila. This feature had been used by the ABiH as a position for the purposes of sniping and, according to the evidence of Britbat officers who saw the attack , it was a legitimate military target.1500 However, according to the same witnesses, the attack was accompanied by unnecessary destruction. For instance, Brigadier Duncan said that the objective was secured by an excessive use of force against the local population, causing massive destruction of property beyond any military necessity.1501 Colonel Blaskic and Mario Cerkez commanded this attack from a nearby church.1502 This location, referred to as ‘Divjak’ in the Indictment, is the subject of allegations in Counts 37 – 39 against Dario Kordic. However, the Trial Chamber can find no evidence to connect him with this attack. This appears to have been another military operation and not part of the common plan or design.

  179. On 18-19 September 1993 the ABiH launched an offensive with the apparent purpose of cutting the Vitez-Busovaca main road and capturing the Vitezit factory. They did not succeed in taking either objective but Colonel Blaskic threatened to blow up the factory to prevent it falling into ABiH hands.1503 This was a threat which was to be repeated not only by Colonel Blaskic but also by Dario Kordic.

  180. Evidence pointing to Kordic’s continued control during this month is to be found in the following:

    (a) In the evidence of Brigadier Duncan that on 4 September 1993 Colonel Blaskic came to the witness’s (Britbat) camp with a message from Dario Kordic to the effect that there would be no more exchanges of wounded out of the Vitez pocket and that all agreements were finished: the message was written and Blaskic read it out, but did not give the witness a copy.1504

    (b) On 20 September 1993 Kordic and Ignac Kostroman reported to Mate Boban on “the military and security situation in the Lasva Valley”, describing a Muslim offensive in the valley but reporting “that the political and military leadership of Central Bosnia is holding the situation firmly under control”.1505

    (c) On 29 September 1993 a Milinfosum described a meeting between the United Nations Civil Affairs Officer and Dario Kordic to “discuss access to Muslim Stari Vitez” (prevented by the HVO by means of mines across the road). The accused is quoted as maintaining that “access will be denied until the BiH cease their current attacks in the valley”.1506

  181. On 21 October 1993 the ECMM reported two meetings. At the first Anto Valenta referred to the Owen-Stoltenberg Plan as having failed. At the second meeting Dario Kordic said that no clear military outcome was possible, for example, he expected a major offensive in the Lasva Valley aimed at the Vitezit factory. The accused also said that the Croats would leave Zenica since they did not feel protected there : some Croats would remain in Muslim areas if a peace plan were agreed but much fewer than before the war.1507

    5. The Stupni Do Attack: October 1993

  182. Events then moved to the Vares municipality. By October 1993 the Croats were isolated and found their freedom of movement increasingly circumscribed. The HVO Central Bosnian leadership was concerned about Vares, which it feared might be handed over in the international negotiations. (The HVO had taken over Vares in June 1992 but it had always been isolated, the more so after the fall of Kakanj in June 1993 .) On 23 August 1993 the leaders of the HVO in Vares presented ECMM Monitors with a copy of a letter, which had been sent to President Tudjman, Mr. Boban and “Col. Dario Kordic”, complaining about the proposed future of Vares, as decided in the Geneva talks, when it was proposed that the municipality come under Muslim control .1508 Reinforcements arrived in the person of Ivica Rajic, HVO Commander in Kiseljak, with paramilitary units, the “Maturice” and “Apostoli”.

  183. There then followed the ABiH attack on the Croat village of Kopjari in the Vares municipality and its capture.1509 The evidence about the ABiH attack on Kopjari in the morning of 22 October 1993 was that two HVO soldiers were reported to have been killed; and during a visit by the ECMM to the village it was noted that all the buildings had been destroyed and the village was uninhabited.1510 The HVO responded by attacking the nearby village of Stupni Do the next day. Thirty -eight people lost their lives in this attack and, after the massacre at Ahmici, this loss in a single incident forms the most serious allegation in the Indictment . The attack is one of those specified in Counts 3 and 4 and the killings are reflected in Counts 7 – 13.

  184. Stupni Do is a village located in the hills about one kilometre south of the town of Vares, at a height of 1074 metres, with one principal road leading to it through a tunnel. The village lies above the main supply route to Vares (which itself lies at the head of a valley with mountains all round it.) Above the village is the Croat village of Mir. Before the war the inhabitants of Stupni Do were almost all Muslim (although there had been five or six Serb families who had left in 1992 ). The total population was about 224.1511 The significance of the village in October 1993 also lay in the fact that it was in the Vares pocket (controlled by the HVO) close both to the ABiH front lines and also the Serb front lines: thus, according to one ECMM witness, a point between the warring parties ideal for smuggling and the exchange of goods and arms.1512

  185. According to the Vares TO Commander trenches were dug in August 1993 to protect the civilian population against the HVO; in October 1993 the local TO unit in Stupni Do was 50 men strong, armed with 40 rifles (majority for hunting), a mortar, hand -held rocket launcher and a limited quantity of ammunition. The unit had no military training: most wore civilian clothing. Additionally, on 17 October six members of this unit were arrested and detained.1513

  186. In Stupni Do, there were rumours of attack in revenge for the attack on Kopjari (the HVO chief in Vares, Pejcinovic, having threatened to attack Muslim villages if Vares municipality was attacked by the ABiH).1514 Some efforts were made towards the defence of the village, the digging of shelters was organised and preparations were made for medical assistance. On 22 October 1993 the Vares War Presidency ordered the evacuation of the village but the inhabitants declined to go.1515 That evening the Commander of the Vares TO received information that an attack was being planned on the village.1516

  187. Survivors of the attack on the village gave graphic accounts of what happened . Witness W heard small arms fire, followed by artillery fire. He sent his family to the basement while he stayed in a trench. From there he could see that the attack came from various locations and he could hear the HVO soldiers yelling: they were wearing camouflage and black uniforms (the witness later found HVO and HOS patches ).1517 He tried to defend the village as much as possible but after two hours he told his family and others hiding in the basement to hide in the woods as the defence lines were breaking. His father remained in the house and was killed. The witness hid in a nearby wood and from there he saw that all the houses were on fire. In the evening he returned to his house which had burned down completely.1518

  188. Two international witnesses gave evidence of what they found in the village in the aftermath of the attack. The first, Rolf Weckesser, was an ECMM monitor who tried to get to the village on the morning after the attack but found the HVO blocking the road and refusing entry: the soldiers appeared to be drunk and were yelling and said: “We did not like … this job, but we had to do it, and we do not like our leaders”.1519 On 27 October 1993the witness finally succeeded in getting access to Stupni Do with the assistance of the local battalion of UNPROFOR (“Nordbat”). He found a scene of complete destruction with the houses still smouldering and about 20 bodies burnt beyond recognition, some of them the bodies of children.1520 There were no indications of fighting.

  189. Major (then Captain) Mark Bower, a Britbat Liaison Officer, also visited the village on 27 October 1993 and found it totally destroyed.1521 He saw the bodies of three women who had been shot in a cellar:1522 it appeared that one woman had had her throat cut and the other two had been stabbed and shot.1523

  190. Of the 38 dead as the result of the attack on Stupni Do, five or six were soldiers and the rest were civilians.1524

  191. Witness CW1 gave evidence from the point of view of the HVO. He said that after the attack on Kopjari and Muslim attacks in Vares, the local HVO Brigade Commander sought assistance. Mate Boban, General Praljak and General Petkovic consulted together and agreed to send Ivica Rajic to see what the situation was.1525 On 23 October 1993 Rajic reported to Kordic, General Petkovic and Blaskic that he had led an attack on Stupni Do and Bogos (a nearby hill): a large number of MOS men and some civilians were killed.1526 In a report to Mate Boban, dated 31 October 1993, Rajic stated that the village of Stupni Do had to be “cleansed” to prevent the unobstructed entry of MOS into Vares and the action was carried out by the Apostoli and Maturice: the MOS in the village had been reinforced “as shown by the fact that two of our best soldiers were killed and ten wounded”. Rajic added that “the well-known impression of Stupni Do … was a direct consequence of the killing and wounding of our troops, about which objectively nothing could have been done in the course of the action”.1527

  192. The defence case is that excesses were committed by troops in Stupni Do but that the village was defended and (despite notice of an attack) the civilians were not evacuated. Thus, a local ABiH commander gave evidence that the "local unit in Stupni Do" had available to it a variety of hunting rifles, automatic weapons , semi-automatic weapons, a mortar and a rocket launcher; he estimated a total of 40 rifles.1528. Estimates of the number of rounds available varied from 80-120 rounds per rifle.1529 In addition to this, the defence forces in Stupni Do had constructed trench emplacements in August and September of 1993 to protect themselves from a possible HVO assault .1530 When that assault finally came, according to Witness W, the ABiH combatants held the HVO at bay for "a couple of hours".1531 Lt. Kresimir Bozic , a member of the Bobovac Brigade staff, gave evidence that Stupni Do was defended because of its strategic significance, both against the Serbs and against the HVO .1532

  193. As to this allegation Witness AI gave evidence. He said that there were about 35 members of the TO in Stupni Do, mainly armed with hunting rifles but also having three M48 rifles and three semi-automatic rifles. Weapons were passed on when guard shifts changed. On 23 October 1993 six men from Stupni Do were in HVO detention , having been arrested at an HVO checkpoint several days before (as mentioned earlier ). This evidence was supported by that given by Colonel Stutt, a Canadian officer and member of the ECMM, who said that he was surprised because the village was only loosely protected by six ABiH soldiers when he had visited it a week before.1533 Stupni Do was a loosely organised, well-fed village; there was no sign of a military build up, fortification or any sign of artillery. As a result the witness had a great deal of difficulty in believing that the HVO were under threat from the village as HVO Vares claimed and as reported on 25 October.1534

  194. There was also some suggestion that the fighting in Stupni Do was as a result of a dispute over smuggling.1535 However, the Trial Chamber finds that the attack on Stupni Do was a concerted attack by the HVO upon the village, with a view to removing the Muslim population. Whatever the immediate motive, it was part of the HVO offensive against the Muslim population of Central Bosnia and the result was a massacre. Some defence was offered but there was no justification for the attack. The underlying offences in relation to Counts 7 – 13 are accordingly established in relation to Stupni Do.

  195. When General Sir Martin Garrod (an ECMM monitor and Head of the Zenica Regional Centre), questioned Dario Kordic about the events in Stupni Do, the latter said that he had immediately telephoned General Petkovic in Kiseljak who had told him that nothing bad had happened, a lot of houses were burning, a lot of soldiers in and out of uniform had been killed but most civilians had moved out and were now in Vares. Kordic said Muslim allegations had to be checked and they were making excuses for their attack on Kopjari while accusing the HVO of the attack on Stupni Do and “speaking as a soldier and a human being”, he severely condemned atrocities committed by any side.1536 At a subsequent meeting Kordic told Sir Martin Garrod that some houses had been burned and some people had been killed but he could not believe the HVO would deliberately kill civilians: suitable action would be taken after “the inquiry” was completed and they would not protect anyone.1537 Sir Martin Garrod said in evidence that he knew of no inquiry or report.1538 However, as a result of the events in Stupni Do, Ivica Rajic was subsequently removed as commander in Kiseljak on the instructions of General Petkovic. (According to Colonel Stutt, Dario Kordic told him that Rajic was being replaced. In cross-examination , the witness said that he knew Kordic announced that Rajic was to be replaced although Kordic might have said that Petkovic had replaced Rajic.)1539

  196. There can be no dispute, whatever may be contended about the circumstances, that Ivica Rajic and his Apostoli and Maturice troops from Kiseljak were responsible for the attack on Stupni Do. (Thus it is the prosecution case that only senior political figures from Vares were removed from their posts and the HVO leadership protected Ivica Rajic who soon re-emerged.)1540 The prosecution case against Dario Kordic is that his responsibility for the Stupni Do massacre may be inferred from (a) his position as political leader in Central Bosnia; (b) his connections with Vares; (c) the fact that the troops went from Kiseljak which was under Kordic’s control (and Rajic must have had superior authority or approval); and (d) the fact that the events in Vares mirrored those in Central Bosnia.1541

  197. The Trial Chamber does not accept the prosecution case on this topic and finds that the evidence is insufficient to draw the inferences on which the Prosecution relies. Kordic’s connections with Vares were tenuous and the evidence does not establish that he was in control of Kiseljak where the troops came from. The fact that Kordic was the leading political figure in Central Bosnia does not, of itself , establish that Kordic was involved in this offence. The Trial Chamber finds that Kordic’s influence and authority which were concentrated in the Lasva Valley did not extend to Stupni Do which was thus outside his sphere of authority and the attack on the village was not part of any common plan or design to which he was party.

    6. Novi Travnik and Stari Vitez

  198. The final attack, which is the subject of Counts 3 – 4, is that on Novi Travnik in October 1993. On 7 October 1993 the HVO shelled Novi Travnik in an area where there were no military facilities: two children were killed and four wounded, together with two other civilians and several soldiers.1542 [A shell fired by the HVO hit a building and killed 10 or 11 civilians.] Between June 1993 and February 1994 there was constant sniper fire in the town which killed or wounded 78 people. Although deplorable and a matter for consideration under Count 1 (persecution), it would appear that the offences under Counts 3 and 4 relating to this locality are not made out.

  199. In a similar category is the Muslim enclave of Stari Vitez, which was under siege until the Washington Accords in February 1994 and subject to constant shelling and a coordinated sniping campaign aimed at intimidating the civilian population . Fifty-four people were killed during this period, 29 able-bodied men and the rest women, children and elderly people.1543

    E. Final ABiH Offensives until Washington Agreement: November 1993 – March 1994

  200. By October 1993 the ABiH offensives had become more frequent. Lieutenant-Colonel Carter arrived in Vitez as United Nations Civil Affairs Officer in November 1993 . By that time the ABiH had captured Vares1544 and also Travnik, Kakanj and Bugojno. Large numbers of refugees had left these areas and there was much lawlessness. However, the weaponry of the HVO was clearly superior and they benefited from internal lines of communication. The ABiH could concentrate their forces only through light infantry and mortars and had limited use of mechanised and artillery weapons; also it was fighting on two fronts, whereas the HVO areas of control were in small pockets in Kiseljak, Vares and the Lasva Valley, so they were able to move forces rapidly.1545 The Vitez - Busovaca pocket was surrounded and there were ABiH attacks in September 1993, December 1993 (unsuccessful) and January 1994 (more successful). By now the HVO was on the defensive.1546 The ABiH used house-clearance techniques, which resulted in the deaths of many Croat civilians.1547 For instance, Witness Z gave evidence about the ABiH attack in January 1994. There was heavy fighting in the Santici area, blocking the main supply route through the village. The attack was led by an ABiH 3rd Corps Brigade and the Mujahedin, who apparently waged war without regard for human life, including their own. The Croats and also the witness were terrified of them. There were two brigades of Mujahedin: the 37th Brigade , based in Travnik and the more fundamentalist 7th Mountain Brigade, based in Gu ca Gora, behind the monastery.1548

  201. In December 1993 the Croat forces sustained substantial losses in defending Krizancevo Selo (Dubravica) and Mario Cerkez was dismissed as Brigade Commander. According to Anto Breljas he was deprived of his command after the ABiH infiltrated HVO positions and killed 32 soldiers.1549

  202. Faced with this situation a Croat tactic was to threaten to blow up the Vitezit ammunition factory if the Vitez pocket was in danger of falling to the Muslims. This would have had devastating consequences for the surrounding area and population (including the Britbat camp nearby). Such a threat was made by Colonel Blaskic on 22 November 1993,1550 by Dario Kordic on 16 November,1551 and by Blaskic again on television on 3 January.1552

  203. The war between the Muslims and Croats was brought to an end by the Washington Agreements (or Accords), which were concluded between 28 February and 1 March 1994 .

  204. It is the prosecution case that throughout this period the continuing influence and power of Dario Kordic was demonstrated:

    (a) On 31 October 1993 a memo was sent to Mate Boban and others, including “Remote Office of the HR H-B President – Attention Mr. Dario Kordic” and others, from Anto Puljic, reporting on the work of the Vitez Defence Office and complaining about its Chief, Marjan Skopljak.1553 On 3 November the ECMM was informed by a Bosnian Croat politician that Boban was President of the HR H-B and Kordic the Vice-President.1554

    (b) On 18 November 1993 ECMM reported a meeting with Colonel Blaskic at which he said that Dario Kordic remained Boban’s Vice-President for Central Bosnia. The report also states that all sources say the same thing: “Valenta is finished, but Kordic remains the major HVO influence in Middle Bosnia”.1555

    (c) On about 1 December 1993 Colonel Peter Williams (Commanding Officer 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, which then formed Britbat) asked Dario Kordic to allow the evacuation of two injured Muslim children from Stari Vitez hospital to Zenica. According to Colonel Williams’ evidence, the accused refused to allow the children to go because (among other reasons) it would involve the crossing of an international border. The Defence disputed that the accused made the remark attributed to him but the witness said that he was positive that Kordic said that it would involve crossing an international border: it was such a remarkable statement that it stuck in his mind and chilled him.1556 The Trial Chamber accepts the witness’s evidence: as he said, it was an exceptional statement and one that he was unlikely to forget.

    (d) In the same month, Anto Breljas, the former member of the Vitezovi, met Dario Kordic in the Impregnaciza factory when the accused, according to Mr. Breljas, personally led the defence of Krizancevo Selo, against an ABiH attack (in the absence of Bla skic who was in Mostar). The witness noticed the accused and the local area commander looking at a map together.1557

    (e) On 15 December 1993 a meeting took place concerned with the route proposed for a convoy of 200 trucks put together by Muslims and Croats and known as the “White Road Convoy”. Lt.-Colonel Carter was present as were Kordic and Blaskic, who insisted that the convoy take the mountain road to Zenica instead of the main road in the valley. (In cross-examination the witness accepted that Kordic was concerned that arms and ammunition were being smuggled: as it so turned out when explosives were found on the convoy.) Dealing with their conduct at the meeting, the witness said that Kordic and Blaskic led the discussion equally but their body language suggested that Blaskic deferred to the accused.1558

    (f) The Vitez Duty Officer’s combat report for 11 January 1994, 06.00, describes the firing of artillery, including improvised bombs made out of fire extinguishers, in the Vitez area during the previous nights and says that: “On Colonel Kordic’s orders, two fire extinguishers were fired deep into Kruscica”.1559

    (g) In a report dated 30 January 1994 Sir Martin Garrod described a meeting between himself and Dario Kordic. The witness’s note states that “Kordic introduced himself as the Deputy Head of Staff of the HVO and thus, he said, he came third in the order of military seniority – i.e. below Roso and Petkovic”.1560 (This evidence is confirmed by an order appointing Colonel Dario Kordic as Assistant Chief of the Main Staff of the HR H-B HVO1561 and by a series of letters from Anto Puljic, Chief of the HR H-B Defence Administration in Travnik, dated late January-early February, in which he refers to “Colonel Dario Kordic” as “Assistant Chief of the Main Staff” of the HR H-B.1562 Blaskic also used a similar title for Kordic in an order of 11 February.(1563

    (h) On 21 February 1994 representatives of the United Nations civil and military authorities in Central Bosnia presented a letter of protest to the Croat authorities about the levels of violence and the restrictions on movement of United Nations agencies in the area.1564 At the meeting, according to the evidence of Colonel Williams, he again asked for the two injured Muslim children to be evacuated immediately from Stari Vitez: Dario Kordic responded that this was impossible. Sir Martin Garrod tried one last time to raise the issue with the accused who said “if these two Muslim children are so important to you, you can have them”.1565

  205. The Trial Chamber accepts that the evidence above demonstrates that Dario Kordic, while exercising power politically and becoming Vice-President of the HR H-B, also exercised military power in controlling movements on the roads, threatening to blow up the Vitezit factory, refusing to allow children to leave Stari Vitez, involving himself in the defence of Krizencevo Selo and, finally, introducing himself as the third in order of military seniority.

    F. Dario Kordic’s Role in the HVO Offensives in April – October 1993

  206. In assessing the role of Dario Kordic, the following findings by the Trial Chamber, and evidence, must be taken into account: (a) the findings about his position before the conflict and assumption of rank of Colonel; (b) the findings about his role in Busovaca in the January 1993 conflict; (c) the findings about his role in Vitez in April 1993; (d) the finding of Kordic’s authority over roads; (e) his presence in Kiseljak and Vitez during the summer of 1993; (f) his continuing power and influence at the end of the war, as found above.

  207. It is also the prosecution case that inferences may be drawn about the role of Dario Kordic, and the way in which political and military authority were combined , from the way in which the accused was treated and regarded by the international observers in Central Bosnia at the relevant time. These witnesses came to much the same conclusions.

  208. Thus, Colonel Stewart’s evidence was that Kordic, having started as a political controller, became increasingly involved in the military situation. (However, the witness found that the HVO soldiers did not have much time for Kordic and considered him inept as a military commander:1566 a view which was supported by Brigadier Grubesic, who said that Kordic’s military interventions were the subject of laughter.1567) As a student of the Soviet Army during his time in the British Army it was not a surprise to the witness that there was a military commander and a political commander side-by-side since this was how the JNA was organised.1568 This evidence was supported by that of Lt. Colonel Watters (then Colonel Stewart’s Second in Command) who said that it was important to know the chain of command of the indigenous forces in order to know where to interdict to carry out the Battalion’s mission and the understanding was that there was a political chain of command focused on Kordic and a military chain of command focused on Blaskic.1569 It was also supported by the evidence of Brigadier Duncan (Colonel Stewart’s successor ) that there was a clear link between the military and political: while operations were Blaskic’s task, planning was Kordic’s task.1570 Indeed, a comment appears in a Milinfosum of the same period: “that the HDZ controls the actions of the HVO is becoming increasingly apparent”.1571 (This comment is reinforced by the minutes of a meeting of HVO and HDZ municipal representatives and military commanders, which states, under the heading of Military Organisation, that “individuals must be appointed to key posts after consultation with the HDZ”.)1572 Colonel Williams noted that, in the presence of Kordic, Blaskic played a deferential role and looked up to Kordic as if he were in charge. He also noted that Kordic always sat in the centre at meetings, demonstrating the fact that he was in charge.1573

  209. Similarly, Payam Akhavan, the UNHCR investigator, gave evidence of his view , based on discussions with them, that Kordic was the “mastermind of policies in the region and Blaskic the executor”.1574 Lt.-Colonel Carter said that there was a blurring of roles between the HVO and the HDZ and the political party leader tended to become the military leader with the same thing happening at the lower level in the CBOZ: the old Soviet system applied with the political officer ensuring that the political direction is executed through the military chain of command.1575

  210. The ECMM shared the UNPROFOR view that the military authority was completely subordinate to the political, according to Witness AA:1576 the two were intertwined according to General Sir Martin Garrod.1577 As for Kordic, Witness AA said that his role appeared to grow during 1993.1578 Another witness said that for the monitors it was sufficient that Kordic seemed to exercise authority rather than to know his exact title.1579

  211. The Prosecution claims it cannot be denied that Kordic had influence and control over the central military figures in Central Bosnia.1580 However, it is for the Trial Chamber to draw its own conclusions from the evidence in the trial and therefore the views of witnesses can only have limited weight. On the other hand, their observations do lend force to the prosecution case that (as might be expected) the exercise of military power was subject to a political authority. As the Prosecution puts it, “Blaskic could not do his job alone, without Kordic ‘giving the green light’”.1581 These observations also confirm that Kordic wielded the leading political authority in Central Bosnia.

  212. Evidence to support these findings was given from within the HVO:

    (a) Anto Breljas said that Darko Kraljevic (Commander of the Vitezovi) carried out orders which only Dario Kordic could have conceived: while Kordic could not issue orders to Kraljevic, he could make suggestions with which Kraljevic would agree. Kraljevic himself never conceived an operation or organised one strategically. While Blaskic was the superior of Cerkez and Kraljevic, Kordic was superior to both of them: asked if he had any documents to prove this, the witness said that there were no documents because Kordic produced none. Indeed, he said that until about 15 July 1993 no one issued paper orders: orders were given verbally.1582

    (b) Witness AS, a member of the HVO military police, said that Dario Kordic often went to HVO headquarters in the Hotel Vitez when the witness was on guard. The members of the headquarters staff seemed to be afraid of him and there were signs of panic when the accused came to the hotel. Colonel Blaskic would come out of his office to greet the accused. Once, Kordic was angry with Blaskic about an ABiH convoy and said words to the effect: “How dare you let ‘Balijas’ go through Vitez !”.1583 (The Defence disputes that there was an incident when Kordic was angry with Blaskic.)1584

    (c) In an order from the Travnik Defence Department, dated 20 September 1993 and signed by the accused, he is referred to as “Colonel Dario Kordic, Head of the Forward Command Post of the Office of the President of the Republic”.1585 Kordic is referred to in the same way in another document from the Department, dated 19 October 1993.1586

  213. Finally, it is submitted that some inference may be drawn about the accused’s military and leadership role from events after the war. From June 1994 Dario Kordic was referred to as Brigadier-General1587 and in July 1994 was elected President of HDZ-BiH. Furthermore, a proposal, dated 21 October 1996, for a Croatian military decoration for Mr. Kordic was submitted by the Busovaca Defence Office. The proposal states that the award (the second- highest in the Croatian army) would be for his outstanding contribution to the formation of HVO units and the creation of war strategy and “his great success in leading and commanding the [HVO] units during the Muslim aggression against the Lasva Valley and the wider region. During the bloodiest moments of the ordeal of the Croats in Central Bosnia, he played a key role in all the battles and was a source of hope and faith in their survival in the areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina inhabited by Croats for centuries”.1588

  214. On the other hand, Witness CW1, in his evidence, said that there were no political officers or commissars in the HVO and no dual chain of command. Until February 1994 Mate Boban was Commander-in-Chief and orders followed the chain of command from him. However, Mate Boban never visited Central Bosnia in 1993: nor did any other politician or official. Kordic had no military role in Central Bosnia and no command of any unit in the CBOZ.1589 However, unlike other politicians who were afraid of shells and hid in cellars, Kordic was not afraid and, as a result, it was normal for him to be seen with Bla skic and the other commanders.1590

  215. As for the special purpose units, including the Vitezovi and Jokers, Witness CW1 said that they were linked to the main staff, but could be subordinated to a particular commander to carry out assignments, which was so in the case of the Vitezovi who were subordinated to the CBOZ: he said that civilians could not command the military police or HVO units.1591

  216. The Prosecution submits that the fact that Dario Kordic maintained the rank of Colonel during the war (and was promoted to Brigadier after it) was because he was exercising military power.1592 However, the Trial Chamber finds this indicates a military role, but no more.