(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.)
“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.”
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.”
(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
(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
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: “Tell them there’s no deal until they let us pass; the Kiseljak-Busova ca road is the condition for further talks.”
(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.
(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
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
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.
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
(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
(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.)
Counts 3 – 4 (unlawful attacks on civilian objects)
Counts 7 – 20 (unlawful killings, murder, inhumane acts and treatment).
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
(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.
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
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
12.35: Dario K. calling Colonel T.B., in brief, “our great friend from below called (telling us) to hold 2-3 days”.1369
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
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
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
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
(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
(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
(a) Novi Travnik
(b) Tulica and Han Ploca–Grahovci
(c) Presence of Dario Kordic
(d) The Remaining Offensives
(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
(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
(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