1 Monday, 31st August 1998
2 (Open session)
3 (The accused entered court)
4 (The witness entered court)
5 --- Upon commencing at 9.31 a.m.
6 THE REGISTRAR: Case number IT-95-16-T, the
7 Prosecutor versus Zoran Kupreskic, Mirjan Kupreskic,
8 Vlatko Kupreskic, Drago Josipovic, Dragan Papic,
9 Vladimir Santic, also known as "Vlado."
10 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you. Good morning. I
11 wonder whether the Prosecutor -- sorry. You have
12 already finished with the witness -- whether the
13 Defence counsel are ready to cross-examine the witness.
14 Mr. Pavkovic?
15 MR. PAVKOVIC: Good morning, Your Honours. I
16 can notify you that the witness will be cross-examined
17 by Madam Slokovic-Glumac, Mr. Radovic, and Mr. Susak.
18 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you. Ms. Glumac?
19 WITNESS: PAYAM AKHAVAN (Resumed)
20 Cross-examined by Ms. Slokovic-Glumac:
21 Q. Good morning, Mr. Akhavan. I don't know how
22 to pronounce your name correctly.
23 In examination-in-chief, we heard that you
24 are a lawyer by profession. Is it correct you work for
25 the Office of the Prosecutor? That's right. Regarding
1 your work here, have you had an opportunity to see
2 Sakib Ahmic's statements given to the Prosecution at a
3 later time?
4 A. No, I have not seen these statements.
5 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone to the witness,
7 A. No, I have not seen these statements.
8 MS. SLOKOVIC-GLUMAC:
9 Q. While you were compiling your report on human
10 rights for which you gathered data, as you told us
11 during your examination-in-chief, how was the data
12 analysed later on? Did you send it to Geneva? Did you
13 work on preparing the report yourself in part? Could
14 you tell us more about it, please?
15 A. This was usually a cooperative effort between
16 the field office, which was based in Zagreb, and the
17 headquarters in Geneva. The field officers would
18 always play a predominant role in analysing the
19 information since they were situated on the ground and
20 were most intimately familiar with the facts. The
21 office in Geneva was largely responsible for editing
22 and formatting the paper, the reports, so that it would
23 be appropriate for submission to the Human Rights
25 Q. Let me ask you about the text that we have
1 here in front of us. Who wrote this text?
2 A. This text was drafted in part by myself, in
3 part by one or two of my colleagues in Geneva.
4 Q. Which part was drafted by you; can you
5 recall? Are these the specific parts, or are there
6 conclusions, or perhaps the introductory part? Can you
7 tell us which part you drafted yourself?
8 A. Specifically, the parts which I drafted were
9 paragraphs 9 through 12, on the town of Vitez, and
10 paragraphs 13 to 25, on the village of Ahmici. The
11 paragraphs on the city of Mostar were drafted by other
12 staff, and generally speaking, the -- I'm sorry,
13 paragraph 37, on arbitrary executions by Bosnian
14 government forces in the Vitez area was also drafted by
15 me. The conclusions were almost invariably those of
16 the Special Rapporteur himself, Prime Minister
18 Q. In other words, the portion which deals with
19 specific incidents is what you actually drafted, the
20 paragraphs which you just cited here; there were no
21 other people involved? Did also ...
22 THE INTERPRETER: Could counsel please repeat
23 the name of the person?
24 Q. Did (redacted) also work on it?
25 A. Yes. My colleague and I conducted the
1 investigation together, so we gathered information. In
2 certain meetings, we were together; in other meetings,
3 we were separate. But the drafting of the actual
4 report and its legal analysis was predominantly my
6 Q. While you were analysing events and when
7 meeting with people who were eyewitnesses to the
8 events, did you use any notes or videotape, did you
9 tape anything, or did you just take down notes?
10 A. We took down notes.
11 Q. So you did not use any other means or
13 A. No, we didn't.
14 Q. I am now focusing on paragraph number 17.
15 You said that you personally drafted that part of the
17 A. Yes. That was based on the testimony of
18 Sakib Ahmic whom my colleague, (redacted), had
19 interviewed in Zenica on the day that I was
20 interviewing Colonel Blaskic and Mr. Dario Kordic. So
21 I was not present at that particular interview, but
22 this reflects the information which my colleague (redacted)
23 gathered from that witness, but this information was
24 verified in a visit to Ahmici where we visited the home
25 of the individual in question, and what we found there
1 very accurately confirmed his testimony as to how many
2 people had been present in that home, how many had been
3 killed, the description of the house and the rooms and
4 so on and so forth.
5 Q. You say that this description fully reflects
6 what Sakib Ahmic told your colleague?
7 A. Yes, to the best of our ability, this
8 reflects his testimony.
9 Q. For the record, I would like to read this
10 paragraph, and please tell me if it is accurate: "One
11 eyewitness related how he had hidden behind a couch in
12 one room as Croat HVO soldiers burst into the other.
13 The family of the house were in the next room: a
14 father, mother, four-year-old boy, and three-month-old
15 infant. The witness heard a burst of machine gun fire
16 and saw the husband and wife fall to the ground. The
17 soldiers then poured petrol, which they carried in
18 glass bottles, all over the rooms -- all over the
19 rooms, including the couch behind which the witness was
20 hiding. The house was then ignited with matches. The
21 witness was unable to determine whether the family had
22 been killed by the gunshots before being set on fire."
23 Is this the report which was compiled upon
24 your having interviewed Mr. Sakib Ahmic?
25 A. Correct.
1 Q. Thank you. Can you tell us, did (redacted)
2 (redacted) interview Mr. Sakib Ahmic in the hospital?
3 A. I believe so, yes.
4 Q. Do you know this for certain, because from
5 your statement my understanding is that you were in the
6 centre in Zenica together where you interviewed a
7 number of survivors of Ahmici, you mentioned 50 to 60
8 people. Then following that, (redacted) conducted an
9 additional interview which concerned the exact location
10 of the house, and you also said that another woman was
11 with him, whom you believed to be his cousin.
12 So from that I construed that you also
13 conducted an interview with Mr. Sakib Ahmic. That is
14 the first one. Can you recall this, please?
15 A. Yes. Firstly, I don't recall having
16 mentioned anything about a woman being with him,
17 whether his cousin or someone else.
18 When my colleague, Thomas, went to Zenica on
19 that day, I stayed in Vitez. When he came back, as we
20 did every evening, we would share notes about the
21 activities and interviews which we had conducted on
22 that day. Thomas informed me that he had gone to the
23 hospital, I believe, in Zenica, where he had
24 interviewed an elderly gentleman who had been there for
25 treatment of his burns. I recall Thomas mentioned that
1 the name of the man was Sakib Ahmic, and that he had
2 indicated the story as it is reflected in paragraph 17
3 and that we should go back to the village in order to
4 confirm the veracity of his testimony.
5 So I am quite certain that that is the person
6 whom Thomas had interviewed in order to arrive at these
7 conclusions. It is possible that he may have
8 interviewed additional people who may have had some
9 testimony with respect to the same home as well, but
10 I'm not aware of that.
11 Q. The conversations which you conducted in
12 Zenica, where exactly were they conducted? Was this
13 some kind of a refugee centre? How was this organised?
14 A. Yes, there was what appeared to be a refugee
15 centre. I believe it was in a building which may have
16 been a cinema or something of that nature. These
17 people had just been released, about 150 of them, from
18 a school in Dubravica where they had been held after
19 the attack on Ahmici.
20 We found these people through a Centre for
21 the Documentation of Genocide and War Crimes, I
22 believe, which was an organisation in Zenica, but the
23 interview was not prepared in advance. We simply went
24 to Zenica, spoke to the representatives of that
25 organisation, and they took us right there and then to
1 that centre, and we had the opportunity to interview
2 the witnesses without interference. Since my
3 colleague, Thomas, had been a Serbo-Croatian
4 translator, it was not necessary for us to have anyone
5 else present.
6 Q. In other words, you selected the people among
7 those present; there was no organisation which guided
8 you as to whom you were going to interview?
9 A. That is correct.
10 Q. You said that the people with whom you talked
11 were, for the most part, children, women, and the
12 elderly. Did you have an opportunity to speak to a
13 male person of military age from Ahmici who could have
14 been involved in the military?
15 A. In that particular visit, no, I don't recall
16 any such person.
17 Q. Were there such persons in this centre?
18 A. Among the group from Ahmici, no, we didn't
19 see any such person. We were informed that the men of
20 military age had not been released by the HVO, that
21 only the women, children, and elderly had been
23 Q. Did the people with whom you talked mention
24 the existence of the Territorial Defence in Ahmici?
25 A. I don't recall.
1 Q. Did they mention any kind of armed resistance
2 having taken place on the 16th of April?
3 A. No, they did not.
4 Q. Did they tell you that the fighting in Ahmici
5 took two days and that only after two days a front-line
6 was established above the village?
7 A. We were informed that the fighting lasted
8 approximately one day but not two.
9 Q. Who gave you this information?
10 A. This information was gathered from several
11 sources. We interviewed some of the witnesses who were
12 survivors, we interviewed members of the British
13 battalion, some of whom had arrived in the vicinity of
14 Ahmici towards the latter part of April 16th, when the
15 attack had taken place, and we were aware that certain
16 people may have fled and hidden in the forest. If that
17 is considered resistance, yes, it may have been that
18 some of those people were not captured until after
19 April the 16th. But in terms of the actual destruction
20 and take-over of the village, our impression, based
21 primarily on the testimony of members of the British
22 battalion, was that on April 16th, a take-over and
23 destruction had been completed.
24 Q. Given that in the report you mention that
25 over 100 persons took part in the take-over of the
1 village, would the information that you gathered lead
2 you to believe that there was armed resistance in the
3 village since it took a full day to capture it?
4 A. Firstly, I believe the number which was
5 indicated in our report was at least 50 and possibly up
6 to 150 soldiers. That is in paragraph 23. We came to
7 that conclusion based on the information given to us by
8 military experts, members of the British battalion, who
9 suggested that the scale of the destruction in the
10 village, the number of killings, the number of homes
11 that had been set on fire, the use of mortar, so on and
12 so forth, would not have been a small operation which
13 could have been done, let's say, simply by a band of
14 ruffians, that this was a concerted and organised
15 military operation.
16 We cannot come to specific numbers, but those
17 are approximate numbers which I think were very
18 realistic in view of the extent of destruction in the
20 Now, what we mean by "military resistance" I
21 think is a complex question. If we mean that someone
22 who was in his home and saw that soldiers were coming
23 to harm himself or his family, would pick up, let's
24 say, a hunting rifle and try to defend himself, well
25 then, it's possible that there may have been such
1 resistance. But I don't think that in our mind that
2 would have changed the character of the attack, that
3 Ahmici was an undefended village, that there was no
4 significant military presence or target which would
5 have justified the attack; and that even
6 hypothetically, had there been some sort of military
7 presence, the scale of destruction was clearly
8 disproportionate to any such military threat which may
9 have been posed by that village.
10 So it was on that basis that we disregarded
11 the possibility of any serious resistance or, rather,
12 the possibility that the resistance may have changed
13 the character of the atrocities and their unlawfulness.
14 Q. Can you tell me whether, during your
15 fact-finding process, you also ascertained a number of
16 victims on the Croatian side? Five Croatian soldiers
17 were killed and nine wounded during the operation in
18 Ahmici. Was that factored in during the preparation of
19 your report?
20 JUDGE MAY: You put that, Mrs. Glumac. Is
21 this a matter you are going to establish with
23 MS. SLOKOVIC-GLUMAC: Yes, yes. Yes, Your
24 Honour, this will be part of our evidence which we will
25 present. It is something that we are going to
1 establish, and since we have an expert witness here, we
2 have to try to bring that analysis to the foreground.
3 A. We had approached the HVO authorities in the
4 region; as I explained, we had spoken to Dario Kordic,
5 Tihomir Blaskic, and Mario Cerkez. None of them had
6 indicated to us that there were any serious HVO
7 casualties in the Ahmici operation. We did understand
8 that there were five Croatian casualties in the Vitez
9 operation, and this is reflected in this report. I'm
10 not certain if the five individuals you are speaking
11 about may have been from Vitez rather than Ahmici.
12 In Vitez, the Bosnian Muslim resistance was
13 much more sustained than that in Ahmici where, as I
14 said, the village was destroyed and taken over. Even
15 two weeks after the events of April 16th, I believe in
16 Stari Vitez, the Bosnian Muslims still controlled a
17 part of the city, and in that case, the padre of the
18 British battalion had indicated that five Croats had
19 been buried along with 96 Muslims in the Vitez area.
20 To the best of our sources, to the best of
21 the ability which we had to get information from
22 sources, there were no similar casualties on the
23 Croatian side. The other casualties which we came
24 across were in the hamlet of Miletici, where I believe
25 between three to five young Croatian men had been
1 attacked and beheaded by what appeared to be rogue
3 Those were the only casualties which we were
4 aware of.
5 Q. If we take into account that we have five
6 casualties and an additional nine wounded, would that
7 change your view as is to the existence of armed
8 resistance in Ahmici because we say that these are the
9 victims from Ahmici?
10 A. No, it would in no serious way change my
11 view. The number of casualties in Ahmici -- actually,
12 the number who were killed, were approximately 200.
13 From what we recall at the time when we arrived, about
14 100 were confirmed dead, a large number of whom were
15 women, children, elderly, many of whom were burnt alive
16 in their homes, shot on their doorsteps, or executed by
17 snipers in this so-called killing field in front of the
18 Catholic cemetery.
19 There were an approximately -- at that point,
20 there were approximately 200 others unaccounted for,
21 I'm sure many of whom were in hiding, but I believe
22 that in the end, the result was that some 150 to 200
23 people, most of whom were civilians, were killed in
24 that operation. I don't believe that five HVO soldiers
25 killed with nine wounded, as a result of some sort of
1 spontaneous resistance, would have changed the
2 character of this unlawful attack.
3 Q. The Prosecutor does not have a list of about
4 200 casualties. He operates with a figure of about 100
5 casualties, as far as Ahmici is concerned. So where do
6 you get your numbers, please?
7 A. When we arrived in the region, according to
8 our sources, some 100 casualties had been confirmed
9 because they had been identified and buried. The
10 problem was that there were still many people buried
11 under the rubble, many people who were burnt in their
12 homes or many who were executed and left in the
14 The British battalion had tried to identify
15 and bury as many of these bodies as possible; but the
16 fact, for example, that we found four bodies in the
17 home of Sakib Ahmici is an indication that there were
18 many other such bodies. We could even smell, if you
19 like, corpses in the village. There was a stench even
20 some two weeks after the attack which we detected. The
21 problem was that many of the homes were booby-trapped,
22 there was a possibility that there were mines or other
23 dangers which would have made it an extremely costly
24 and difficult operation to retrieve all the bodies.
25 So we, having spoken to the International Red
1 Cross, the U.N. High Commission for Refugees, and the
2 witnesses, figured out that at that point in time, in
3 addition to the 100 killed, there were some 200 people
4 unaccounted for. Many of these people, as I said,
5 could have been hiding somewhere and may have been
6 recovered later, but based on some of the accounts
7 which we heard from the witnesses, we estimated that
8 there could be possibly up to an additional 100 people
9 who had been killed but who were not yet located.
10 Q. But from these assumptions, have these facts
11 actually been determined anywhere; in other words, has
12 this number, which you mentioned, been determined
13 positively anywhere?
14 A. I'm not aware of that, but for the purposes
15 of the report, we did not claim that so many people had
16 been killed. I will find the relevant part of the
17 report. I believe it's -- it is paragraph 19. Of the
18 89 bodies which have been recovered from the village,
19 most are those of elderly people, women, children, and
20 infants. A list of 101 possible victims was obtained
21 through the testimony of displaced persons who had
22 witnessed killings.
23 And towards the end of that paragraph, it
24 is estimated that as many as 100 bodies may still
25 remain under the rubble in the village, but items to
1 retrieve them are very hazardous due to the instability
2 of remaining walls. The village is described as
3 stinking of death.
4 I believe that there is another part of the
5 report, paragraph 22, which says that approximately 300
6 of the original Muslim inhabitants of Ahmici have yet
7 to be accounted for.
8 So I believe that those paragraphs and the
9 language which has been used very carefully indicates
10 what our sources are, and there's no attempt to suggest
11 that 100 people were actually killed, the language is,
12 "As many as 100 bodies may still remain".
13 But the fact was that of the bodies which
14 were retrieved, there were very few, if any, which were
15 men of fighting age. We do appreciate that there is a
16 distinction, in general, in combat activities between
17 killing armed men of fighting age and elderly people,
18 women, children and infants, and that's why the
19 possibility of some Croatian casualties would not, in
20 any significant way, have changed our perception of
22 Q. Another question related to the list of
23 casualties. You said, in point 19, that it was 101
24 person who fell -- who were casualties in Ahmici. This
25 is the official number you quote. You also say that in
1 Vitez, point 9, you again mention the number of 101, 96
2 Muslims and 5 Croats.
3 Is there a bit of a confusion? Because
4 according to our data, a total of 101 was buried in the
5 cemetery, from Vitez, Ahmici and the surrounding
6 villages altogether. Is there a bit of a confusion
7 here, because we are not aware of another hundred,
8 because you used the same number in several points.
9 A. We were told, once again by the padre of the
10 British battalion who was involved as a religious man
11 in such burial ceremonies, that there were 101 people
12 buried in Vitez. It is possible that some of those
13 bodies may have been brought from neighbouring
14 villages. That we did not ascertain.
15 In the case of Ahmici, we were told by
16 members of the British battalion that they specifically
17 recovered 89 bodies from that village, and a
18 significant number of those bodies were in that field
19 across from the Catholic cemetery which I mentioned.
20 According to them there were 89 people.
21 When we spoke to some of the survivors in
22 Zenica, people began to give us their own accounts of
23 having seen people killed, or not necessarily having
24 seen people killed but realising someone whom they knew
25 had been left behind and was probably dead. Based on
1 those accounts, we indicate there had may be a list of
2 101 possible victims in addition to those which had
3 been recovered.
4 Q. So according to that, that is a total of 202,
5 101 in Vitez and 101 in Ahmici.
6 A. Well, the 101 were possible victims. We
7 could only verify 89, but we would consider those to be
8 in addition to the 101 people who were buried in
10 Q. All right. Thank you very much. Could you
11 please tell us who gathered the corpses around the
12 village? Was that the job of the UNPROFOR or the Civil
13 Defence? You mentioned at one point that UNPROFOR
14 recovered the bodies and then drove them back to
15 Vitez. I mean the corpses from the village of Ahmici.
16 A. I was informed that UNPROFOR had gathered
17 many of these bodies. I had spoken with soldiers who
18 had personally participated in putting the bodies into
20 My impression was most of the bodies were
21 actually taken to Zenica where there was a morgue.
22 There was one body, for example, of a family which
23 apparently had been burnt alive in their basement, and
24 this was broadcast on the television. That body, I
25 understand, was taken to Zenica for an autopsy. So I'm
1 not sure how many of those bodies were actually buried
2 in Vitez, how many were taken to Zenica for autopsies
3 and burials, especially because many of the survivors
4 were in Zenica, and they would have wanted to have the
5 burial at a location to which they would have access.
6 Q. Were the corpses of Sakib Ahmici's family
7 buried? Do you know that?
8 A. I'm not aware of that, that occurred after we
9 left the area.
10 Q. You mentioned that under -- along the road
11 there was a flat area which you refer to as the killing
12 field. You mentioned 20 bodies were found there. Were
13 they brought -- had they been brought there by someone
14 from the UNPROFOR or people from the village, or were
15 those people killed on the spot?
16 A. According to what I was told, they were
17 killed on the spot.
18 Q. Could you tell the Court where you get this
19 information? Who gave you this information
20 specifically? Could you identify the person?
21 A. I could not identify the specific individual,
22 this is some five years ago, but they were members of
23 the British battalion whom we had spoke with. We had
24 very extensive discussions with anywhere from 15 to 20
25 members of the battalion.
1 Q. In which parts of the village? You mentioned
2 in your report that you visited three locations, along
3 the road, by the upper mosque and the lower mosque.
4 Can you remember where the great number of empty shell
5 cases were found?
6 A. There were shell casings around virtually all
7 the homes that had been destroyed, so I don't think
8 they were concentrated in a particular part of the
10 Q. But you did not tour the entire village. You
11 said you toured the part around the mosque, and then
12 you later went to the upper part of Ahmici and back
13 down towards the road. Those are different locations.
14 Were the casings present in the Upper Ahmici, around
15 the houses and elsewhere?
16 A. Yes, they were. We toured several homes when
17 we were in the village, not just one or two. We walked
18 from home to home inspecting the damage, and we noticed
19 that almost without exception there were many rounds of
20 bullets around homes. In certain cases shell casings
21 coming from anti-aircraft guns, in some cases shells
22 coming from rocket-propelled grenades.
23 Q. Did you hear from the refugees and the people
24 who left their homes get the information that fighting
25 began only after people left their homes? Did they
1 tell you how they ran away, how they fled Ahmici and
2 along which roads?
3 A. No. The information which we received was
4 that fighting erupted when most people were still
5 sleeping, very early in the morning, somewhere around
6 the time of the morning call to prayer.
7 Q. But you're speaking about the part of Lower
8 Ahmici, the place you identified clearly, around the
9 lower mosque and the part of the road leading up to
10 Upper Ahmici. Whereas Upper Ahmici is separated from
11 the Lower Ahmici, as you have noticed, perhaps.
12 A. Yes it is separated, but not such that I
13 think there would have been a very big difference
14 considering the attack. To the best of our knowledge,
15 the attack was directed at the village as a whole, that
16 the attack began with a mortar shelling towards the
17 upper part of the village, forcing many people to flee
18 to the south where many were killed by sniper bullets
19 or otherwise harmed. Our impression was that the
20 attack, as a whole, began very early in the morning,
21 and that most people were completely caught by
23 It may have been that some parts of the
24 village were affected somewhat later, depending on
25 where the attack began from, and that may have given
1 those people a somewhat better opportunity to prepare
2 themselves to escape, but that I'm not aware of.
3 Q. Were you told by interviewees from Zenica
4 what were the paths of escape from the village?
5 A. Most of the people indicated the forests as
6 being the best path of escape, and I believe there were
7 forests towards the north of the village. Some
8 suggested that the reason why the mortar shelling was
9 towards the north of the village was to prevent people
10 fleeing into those areas, and I believe that if my
11 bearings are correct, also towards the east of the
12 village there was a wood area where people could have
14 Q. During your mandate when you visited the
15 Lasva Valley, was it -- it was part of your mandate to
16 establish human rights violations in the entire Lasva
17 Valley, not only in Ahmici and Vitez, but in all the
18 other areas, and also to establish human rights
19 violations against Croats, Muslims and others alike.
20 Did your mission accomplish both these tasks
22 A. Well, our mandate covered the entire
23 territory of the former Yugoslavia. We were
24 particularly responsible for the Republic of Croatia
25 and Bosnia-Herzegovina. We had published, up to that
1 point, as many as ten reports covering different
2 incidents, different situations. It so happened at
3 that time there was what we perceived as a
4 Bosnian/Croat offensive against the Bosnian Muslim
5 forces and population in the Lasva Valley region. We
6 were concentrating, at that point in time, on the Vitez
7 area. Subsequent submissions looked at other areas of
8 the Lasva Valley.
9 We interviewed all the sources, all the
10 relevant sources which could have given us information,
11 including the HVO authorities, and we did not come
12 across information suggesting that there was anywhere
13 in the Lasva Valley a victimisation of Bosnian/Croat
14 civilians remotely approaching that which we had
15 witnessed in Ahmici.
16 The hamlet of Miletici is one example of the
17 great efforts to which we went through to be
18 impartial. Miletici was a very remote and inaccessible
19 place. We even had problems approaching there by
20 armoured personnel carrier, we had to walk quite a
21 distance, but we ensured that we would equally cover
22 atrocities which had been committed against Bosnian
23 Croat civilians.
24 Q. It says in the report that the incident in
25 Miletici took place around the 16th, so it is possible
1 that it took place on the 16th?
2 A. I need to consult my notes.
3 Q. Page 8.
4 A. Yes, yes. It is possible. We were not sure
5 about the exact date. Our impression was that it was a
6 revenge killing. That was our impression.
7 Q. You did not write that though?
8 A. No. That was really not relevant. We -- in
9 these reports, we are less interested in a sort of
10 sequence of events, if you like, than in reporting
11 atrocities which had been committed. The purpose of
12 these reports is, firstly, to inform the International
13 Community of events to try to provide objective sources
14 of information about what is transpiring in that
15 region, but also to try and pressure the respective
16 authorities into respecting human rights.
17 So the point which we had in paragraph 37,
18 was to indicate that the Special Rapporteur was not
19 going to close his eyes to atrocities against Bosnian
20 Croats, or Bosnian Serbs for that matter, simply
21 because the Bosnian Muslims were disproportionately
22 victimised. That's why we went to great lengths in
23 virtually every report also to include certain
24 paragraphs on human rights violations committed by
25 government forces. But this did not suggest that those
1 violations were the equivalent of what had been
2 committed by the other sides.
3 Q. Tell us, please, you mention here the
4 existence of Mujahedins. Did you really establish that
5 they existed and were they involved in any way in the
6 BiH army, in the parts about Miletici?
7 A. This is based on the testimony of the Croat
8 villagers which we spoke with. They -- of course, the
9 term Mujahedin was used in a very loose fashion.
10 Generally it would refer to elements which were foreign
11 to Bosnia. Some of the villagers indicated to us that
12 the people looked different and spoke a different
13 language, which made us believe that they were
14 mercenaries or others who were not from Bosnia itself.
15 We were told that there was also one
16 uniformed officer wearing the uniform of the Bosnian
17 army, which, of course, was not uncommon. Virtually
18 every man of fighting age was wearing a uniform. Also
19 that there was some individual living in the lower part
20 or in the vicinity of Miletici who was known for
21 participating in criminal activities, in black
22 marketing and so on and so forth.
23 So the impression which we got is that it was
24 a group of this so-called Mujahedin, together with one
25 or two or three locals. It was not a large-scale
1 operation, of course. It may have been something like
2 eight to ten individuals who simply came in to what was
3 a very small hamlet of maybe ten homes in order to kill
4 a few people, steal some property and walk off.
5 Q. But you said that those people were beheaded
6 and 27 people you mentioned in your statement, 27
7 Croats fled the village, so it was not an innocuous
8 incident, was it?
9 A. Clearly beheading someone is never innocuous,
10 but we are simply reflecting -- there is no hidden
11 agenda, if you like, in this paragraph. It is a very
12 accurate recollection of what we were told by the
13 survivors. This is a -- I'm not sure what the motives
14 of the perpetrators were, their motives could have been
15 simply some sadistic gratification, or trying to get
16 property from other people, but the effect clearly was
17 to create such fear in the local population that they
18 ended up leaving, which is not surprising at all.
19 When we arrived there, there were very few
20 people, mainly people who were so old that it was
21 difficult for them to go anywhere else, who had chosen
22 to remain. But we were also told by the local people
23 that there was one individual who was wearing the
24 Bosnian army uniform, and that usually they would be
25 protected from such attacks, which were not organised
1 military attacks but simply attacks of thugs, rogue
2 criminal elements, but that on this occasion this
3 individual had not protected them. They did not
4 suggest, though, that this individual was the one who
5 did the beheading, but simply that he had not stood in
6 the way of those who had come into the village.
7 Q. Thank you. You also mentioned in the
8 conclusion that it was established that government
9 forces, as it says here, paragraph 40, in the area of
10 Zenica have performed several arbitrary executions,
11 tortures, et cetera. And those were on days before
12 your arrival to the Lasva Valley, and that in Zenica,
13 at that time, 600 Croats were held captive.
14 Wasn't that information alarming and didn't
15 it require some additional investigation?
16 A. I'm sorry, you're saying that this
17 information is contained in the report or that it was
18 an allegation?
19 Q. It is in the conclusions, paragraph 40?
20 A. Yes. We did receive information that there
21 had been some such incidents in Zenica. We did not
22 receive information that they were committed on a large
23 scale. Certainly not against 600 people.
24 There was, clearly, a climate of violence,
25 and fear, and terror in that region. The tensions were
1 extremely high. There were on many occasions isolated
2 incidents of killing or torture, and these,
3 unfortunately, were quite frequent throughout Bosnia
4 throughout the war.
5 One of the problems which we have with
6 limited resources in the context of such widespread
7 human rights violations, is the task of selecting what
8 we believe are the most egregious, the most serious
9 violations. For us in the case of Zenica, there was no
10 indication, no evidence whatsoever that there had been
11 large-scale killings or even killings numbering in the
12 tens, if you like. So we focused our attention on the
13 events in the Vitez area, especially in Ahmici where
14 there was very clear evidence of large-scale killings
15 of civilians.
16 So we, as I said, took great care in order to
17 be impartial and to include, as well, allegations that
18 some such isolated incidents had taken place, and to
19 put the Bosnian government on notice that simply
20 because the Bosnian Muslims had been disproportionately
21 victimised that they would not -- that we would not
22 overlook violations committed against others. But I
23 don't think that it would be fair to say that the
24 allegations of large scale atrocities against Bosnian
25 Croats in Zenica were credible at that point in time.
1 Q. Will you please tell us, except for people
2 from Ahmici, have you interviewed people of Croatian
3 nationality from surrounding villages, concentrating on
4 the Vitez area? I would mention Kruscice, Gacice,
5 Poculice, Bukve. Villages from which Croats had fled
6 and where tortures and murders took place. Have you
7 interviewed such people?
8 A. We made an attempt to approach some Croats,
9 inhabitants of Ahmici, at which point two snipers,
10 apparently from the HVO, tried to kill my colleague and
11 I. That gave us the message that we weren't
12 particularly welcome and clearly affected the rest of
13 our mission, where we decided instead to focus on those
14 who were in the Bosnian Croat leadership, who would
15 have the best overall knowledge of what is transpiring
16 in that area. This is why we met with Dario Kordic and
17 Blaskic and Cerkez. We invited them to give us
18 information, to give us explanations. And what was
19 given us to is reflected in this report.
20 You must follow that it was extremely
21 difficult to move around that area, especially when the
22 Bosnian Croats had indicated an intention to kill us.
23 And indeed, even in Vitez we had to move in -- under
24 heavy guard, in constant fear that a sniper or other
25 person would try to kill us.
1 Q. You mentioned that Bosnian Croats attempted
2 to kill you. From where did these sniper shots come?
3 Did you see the soldier firing?
4 A. No. These -- as we indicated in this report,
5 Ahmici was clearly under the control of the HVO. There
6 was little doubt about that, and it was only when we
7 approached the elderly Croatian lady, who I believe was
8 with two younger children, that the sniper fire began.
9 Now, we ran back to the personnel carrier
10 which was some distance away, and fortunately got there
11 alive. We then had to base our information on what the
12 members of the British battalion told us. The snipers
13 were not located -- the fire was coming somewhere from
14 the village, which was very difficult to discern.
15 Q. From which part of the village, could you
16 tell us? From the north, the east, which exact part?
17 A. It's very difficult to remember with
18 exactitude. I could say that if my bearings are
19 correct, it would have been roughly from the western
20 part of the village, but it's very difficult to tell.
21 One of the --
22 Q. You had been warned that approximately a
23 distance of 500 metres from the village there were
24 frontlines. You have probably -- you had probably been
25 told that when you were leaving for Ahmici?
1 A. No, we were not told that there were
2 frontlines approximately 500 metres. I would have been
3 surprised, considering the geography, topography of the
4 region if the sniper would have been that far away.
5 I think that the firing, according to the
6 soldiers which were with us, would have come from the
7 village itself. There was reason to believe that the
8 local inhabitants were not interested. I shouldn't say
9 the local inhabitants. Those remaining in the village
10 were not interested in our presence.
11 On a second occasion when, we went back to
12 the region together with three European Community
13 Ambassadors, once again a certain individual in the
14 village came and made some threats to Colonel Stewart,
15 and Colonel Stewart immediately asked to us leave the
17 It was clear that the constant visits to the
18 village were perceived as a threat by those Croats who
19 were remaining in the village, many of whom were
20 probably involved in the killings. That was what we
22 Q. During the time you spent in the Lasva
23 Valley, did you go to Stari Vitez, Old Vitez?
24 A. Yes, we did.
25 Q. What did you see there? Were there any
1 fortifications, barricades, trenches in the part held
2 by the Muslims?
3 A. Yes. Stari Vitez was fortified and defended.
4 Q. Did you see and could you specify how many
5 members of the BiH army were under arms?
6 A. Excuse me. The VH army?
7 Q. No, the Bosnian Croatian army, BiH?
8 A. I can't recall exact numbers, but there were
9 clearly members of the Bosnian army there in uniform
10 with various weapons. I would say that the weapons
11 were generally somewhat primitive compared to those we
12 saw elsewhere and I would also say that the
13 fortifications in Stari Vitez were somewhat, if you
14 like, of an island in the middle of an HVO sea in the
15 sense that Stari Vitez was disconnected from other
16 Bosnian Muslim-controlled territories. It was an
17 enclave within Vitez, and I think that for the
18 inhabitants of Stari Vitez, it was extremely difficult
19 even to try to get food and to continue their life,
20 because whenever they had to leave that area in order
21 to obtain food they faced sniper fire.
22 Q. Was there any sniper activity from the Old
23 Vitez towards the part of Vitez inhabited by Croats?
24 A. Yes, actually, we did notice that some -- one
25 particular individual was carrying a sniper gun, but
1 whether that sniper gun was used against HVO soldiers
2 or against civilians is something which we could not
4 Q. During the preparation of your report, did
5 you also talk to the members of the BiH army?
6 A. Yes, we did.
7 Q. Can you say whether you talked about their
8 presence in the Lasva River Valley, how were they
9 organised, how many brigades there were, what was the
10 military organisation there, where were their commands?
11 A. This, once again, is very difficult to
12 remember five years later, but what I recall is that
13 the Bosnian Muslim military presence was largely on the
14 front facing the Bosnian Serb army, that the Bosnian
15 Serb army posed such a threat, and the Bosnian Muslim
16 forces were so weak that they were not nearly as
17 concerned about a potential Bosnian Croat offensive, or
18 the scale of such an offensive. Of course, I believe
19 that after the events of April 16th, that situation
20 changed and significant Bosnian Muslim resources were
21 poured into a counteroffensive against the Bosnian
22 Croats. At that point in time, the Bosnian military
23 presence was minimal, and it was largely outside of the
24 Vitez area, from Zenica onwards.
25 We toured the region, and we may have seen
1 possibly one old tank belonging to the Bosnian army.
2 That was maybe the extent of heavy weaponry which we
3 had seen, possibly some artillery pieces, all of them
4 at some distance away from Vitez, but we failed to see
5 any significant or menacing Bosnian army presence in
6 that region.
7 Q. This is a bit inconsistent. That means the
8 weak forces, which you just talked about of the BiH
9 army, and paragraph 9 in your report concerning the
10 town of Vitez where you say that very little territory
11 changed hands, even though the town of Vitez now is
12 divided between the two forces and that most of the
13 villages managed to defend themselves, and now you're
14 saying that the resistance was minimal. In other
15 words, that with the exception of Ahmici, all other
16 villages managed to defend themselves, and even Vitez
17 itself, that one part of Vitez, remained under the
18 Bosnian control throughout the war. Can you explain
20 A. I'm sorry, how is this inconsistent? I'm
21 trying to understand.
22 Q. You just said that you ascertained that there
23 were only minimal BiH army forces present in the Lasva
24 River Valley, that most of them were defending the
25 frontlines against the Bosnian Serbs. However, in the
1 report, you say that the villages managed to defend
2 themselves, including Old Vitez; and with the exception
3 of Ahmici, no other village changed hands. This is
4 what -- I quote you here. This is in paragraph 9.
5 So don't you feel that there is some
6 inconsistency between what you just stated here and
7 what was written in the report?
8 A. Well, it's very difficult to speak about
9 territory changing hands when the population is mixed
10 in the region. What we understood is that the HVO
11 already controlled the Lasva Valley region, so in that
12 sense, very little territory changed hands. The
13 front-line, if you like, or the area of HVO control, did
14 not change, but the Bosnian Muslim civilian population
15 was eliminated. That we would not consider a change of
16 territory in the sort of language which we would use in
17 these reports.
18 Now, we did not say, first of all, that the
19 villages were successfully defended, we say that they
20 were defended, that there was some resistance --
21 Q. I say that it was not.
22 A. That, I'm sorry, that --
23 Q. There was no change.
24 A. I'm sorry, I don't understand.
25 Q. I'm only interested in the discrepancy
1 between these two statements. You said that there was
2 no change - you probably had demographic changes in
3 mind - and that this front-line was established.
4 A. Yes. "Very little territory seems to have
5 changed" does not mean that the demography has not
6 changed. Had we written this report after the Bosnian
7 Muslim counteroffensive which came in the weeks which
8 followed, then our report would have said that the
9 frontlines have changed, that indeed the Bosnian Muslim
10 forces have now taken over areas which were previously
11 under HVO control.
12 But, once again, we have indicated here that
13 there was resistance. This does not mean that the
14 resistance was between forces of equal power. On the
15 contrary, our impression was that the Bosnian Muslims
16 in that region were largely on the defensive.
17 In terms of the dynamics of those attacks,
18 our impression was that when one is engaging in a
19 military offensive, the resources generally have to be
20 larger than those of the other side which is engaging
21 in a defensive posture. Some of the military people
22 would tell us that the ratio between offence and
23 defensive, in terms of resources, is usually 3 to 1;
24 and certainly, when people are in a village, fighting
25 for their lives and they understand that defeat means
1 their execution or other unpleasant outcome, they are
2 likely to resist to the very end. So indeed, in many
3 cases, the resistance was very fierce.
4 But this does not change the general pattern
5 of what was transpiring in that region, which we
6 believe was a campaign to try and eliminate the Bosnian
7 Muslim population, to change the demography in order to
8 consolidate HVO control over what was then to be Canton
9 10 in the Vance-Owen Plan.
10 Q. Just several additional questions. In your
11 report, you said that you noticed in that region and in
12 Bosnia overall that most people of fighting age did
13 wear uniforms on both the Bosnian and Croatian side; is
14 that correct?
15 A. Correct.
16 Q. In other words, this was some kind of a
17 fashion almost in addition to being a widespread
18 phenomenon; is this what you feel given the mass
19 proportions of it?
20 A. I'm not sure if calling it a fashion would be
21 most accurate. I think that, at that time, all men of
22 fighting men were mobilised, and it was understood that
23 because of the severity of the conflict, that all
24 able-bodied men were to participate in the war effort.
25 This also included people who may not have been, let's
1 say, very young. I also saw many people in their 40s
2 and 50s were also donning uniforms, and I'm not sure
3 what implications can be drawn from that in terms of
4 whether these people were members of organised units or
5 not. Although men wore uniforms and were carrying
6 weapons, it seemed as if there was still a certain
7 degree of order and stability. It was very clear who
8 was really in control, but that's another discussion.
9 Q. My last question: In your report, this is in
10 D8, you conclude that the main communications line
11 through Central Bosnia passes through the Lasva River
12 Valley and that this region is of great strategic
13 importance for both the BiH army and the Croatian army
14 and that everybody was trying to establish control in
15 this area; is that correct?
16 A. Correct. As I have described, we tried to
17 provide the background to what may have been the source
18 of the conflict, but then to make a sharp distinction
19 between attempts to vie for control and atrocities
20 committed against civilians.
21 Our impression at that point was that the
22 Croatian community of Herceg-Bosna was increasingly
23 trying to assert its independence from the Bosnian
24 government -- for whatever reason, it's not
25 important -- and that there had been isolated acts of
1 violence. For example, I believe in Travnik, there had
2 been a flag-raising ceremony shortly after the arrival
3 of then Defence Minister Susak, and the raising of the
4 Croatian flag had resulted in some violence, some
5 shooting incident between HVO forces and Bosnian
6 government forces. There were clearly a lot of
7 tensions, and the Bosnian government had no intention
8 of surrendering control over that area, which did not
9 mean that they were engaged at that point in a
10 large-scale military offensive, in large part because
11 they may not have had the resources. But this is
12 simply to explain that there were tensions in the
13 region. The killings did not come out of nowhere. But
14 it was clear, in this respect, that one side, in this
15 case the HVO, had decided to vie for control of the
16 area using the sort of methods which we saw in the
17 village of Ahmici.
18 Q. Can you tell me, when you state there -- you
19 established that this communications line was passing
20 through the village of Ahmici; correct?
21 A. Correct. The road, we were told, was of
22 strategic importance, and that was apparent.
23 MS. SLOKOVIC-GLUMAC: Thank you very much.
24 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you,
25 Mrs. Slokovic-Glumac. Thank you.
1 Mr. Radovic?
2 MR. RADOVIC: Thank you.
3 Cross-examined by Mr. Radovic:
4 Q. If I understood you correctly, you were in
5 Ahmici on the 1st or 2nd of January of 1993?
6 A. In May. I was in Ahmici on three occasions.
7 I believe the --
8 Q. Just the first time. I'm interested in the
9 first time when you went there.
10 A. That was the 1st of May.
11 Q. I'm interested whether your colleague, (redacted)
12 (redacted), did talk to Sakib Ahmic immediately following
13 your first visit to Ahmici when you went back to
15 A. No. I believe that the date of the visit
16 must have been on the 5th of May.
17 Q. Did your colleague tell you whether he was
18 inquiring, and was this reflected in his notes, before
19 he spoke to Sakib Ahmic, he had already talked to the
20 local police?
21 A. Excuse me, that he had spoken to which local
23 Q. The Bosniak --
24 A. In Zenica?
25 Q. Yes.
1 A. I do know that on the previous day, I believe
2 on May the 4th, that we had spoken, not to the police,
3 but to the representatives of the War Crimes
4 Documentation Centre in Zenica, which I believe was
5 associated with the government. I'm not sure how close
6 a relationship it had. Whether on the following day,
7 my colleague Thomas spoke to the police or not is
8 something which I do not know.
9 Q. But do you know whether Sakib Ahmic, before
10 his conversation with Thomas, talked to the police, not
11 with the Documentation Centre but with the former
12 secret police, that is the State Security Services
13 which was taken over from the former Yugoslavia by the
14 Bosnian government and then later renamed?
15 A. This I don't know.
16 Q. Very well. When you were compiling your
17 report based on the notes of (redacted), do you
18 know where those notes are right now? Are they still
19 around? Have they been destroyed? Do you know what
20 happened to them?
21 A. I do not know where those notes are.
22 Q. Where is (redacted) now? We are asking
23 you what (redacted) said. (redacted) was
24 directly involved, but we are not talking to him even
25 though he was the one who interviewed Mr. Ahmic. Where
1 is (redacted) now? What does he do now, if you
3 A. I believe he works with the Office of the
5 Q. He does, just as you do right now? Very
7 You are a Canadian citizen, as far as I can
8 see. Did you serve in the military there?
9 A. No, I have not.
10 Q. How do you know certain military details, for
11 instance, such as that one side had certain primitive
12 weapons whereas the other side had less primitive
14 A. Well, it is the sort of knowledge which one
15 acquires in such situations. We dealt a lot with
16 military people throughout our stay in the former
17 Yugoslavia, largely members of the United Nations
18 protection force but also often the various
19 belligerents, whether they were Bosnian Croats, Bosnian
20 Serbs, or Bosnian Muslims. Very often we would have
21 military manuals which would help us better understand
22 the means which were devised for warfare since this
23 knowledge was essential to our understanding; what
24 constituted legitimate killing or destruction in the
25 conduct of hostilities, and what constituted unlawful
1 killing or targeting of civilians.
2 Q. I asked one question and I got an answer to
3 another one. What would constitute a primitive weapon
4 to you, which you said was in possession of the
5 Bosniaks and, let's say, unprimitive weapons which, as
6 you said, were in possession of the Croats? What is a
7 primitive weapon, what is an unprimitive weapon,
8 according to you?
9 A. Well, let's say a hunting rifle as opposed to
10 an AK-47 assault rifle.
11 Q. Very well. In addition to the hunting
12 rifles, did Bosniaks also have automatic rifles, such
13 as Kalashnikovs? Did you see those? Do you know what
14 a Kalashnikov automatic rifle is? It was, I think, the
15 most widespread in this area. Did the Bosniaks also
16 have such Kalashnikov rifles?
17 A. Yes, they did.
18 Q. In the area of Vitez, did you see any tanks
19 on the Croatian side?
20 A. No, we did not.
21 MR. RADOVIC: I could go on for a while. I
22 think that I have clearly stated my purpose through
23 this question.
24 Q. You said that when you were in Ahmici, that
25 in some houses, you saw the local inhabitants; did I
1 understand you correctly?
2 A. Correct.
3 Q. How do you know that the persons who were
4 there were local inhabitants?
5 A. We were told that there had actually been a
6 number of displaced persons who had come from other
7 regions to Ahmici, so it is possible that they were not
8 local in the strict sense of the word. What we were
9 told is that those who remained in the villages and
10 those homes which were not destroyed were those of the
11 Croat inhabitants of the village, and I did not have an
12 independent means of verifying this. This was the
13 information which we received from the British
14 battalion which I presume had intense familiarity with
15 that region having spent six months patrolling the
17 Q. Very well. So this is information passed on
18 to you by the British battalion and not through contact
19 with the local population. This is how you determined
20 that these were the local inhabitants; is that correct?
21 A. That's correct. As I explained, the local
22 population wasn't exactly eager to speak with us,
23 although we made efforts.
24 Q. You related your personal experience when you
25 were in Ahmici and you talked to an elderly Croatian
1 woman with a couple of children or something. You said
2 that you had been shot at. In addition to you being
3 threatened by these shots, was the woman and those two
4 children who were with her, were they also threatened?
5 A. Actually, no. It was very clear that the
6 snipers were not interested in hitting the woman and
7 the children. The only factor which saved us was the
8 fact that the woman was interposed between us and the
9 sniper. The first couple of bullets were coming from
10 above our heads, which were clearly an attempt to get
11 us into the open. Once we were into the open, then the
12 sniper fire became much more direct, and it was very
13 clear that once we were in the open, that they were
14 trying to kill us.
15 Q. Was the elderly lady also scared by the
16 bullets which were flying and did she also seek shelter
17 at the time when you talked to her?
18 A. I'm certain she was scared of the bullets and
19 she immediately walked away at that point, but there
20 was no attempt to hit her. It was very clear.
21 Q. But wait a minute. How do you know, when a
22 bullet comes whizzing past you, how can you say that it
23 cannot hit her? You seem to be very certain of it.
24 A. Common sense. The possibility for the sniper
25 to have hit the woman was very easy as she was standing
1 in front of us. The possibility of the sniper to hit
2 us would have been extremely difficult. It was clear
3 that the direction of the bullet was coming from behind
4 her. Once we were in the open, the bullets were no
5 longer coming from some distance above our head but
6 were directly targeted to us. So based on those
7 observations, I would arrive at the conclusion that
8 they were not interested in killing the lady.
9 Q. How do you conclude that these bullets were
10 aimed above you and not right at you? I would like to
11 know what objective criteria you are using in reaching
12 this conclusion so that this sniper did not aim at
13 you. In other words, do you allow for the possibility
14 that a sniper can also miss you when targeting you?
15 A. It's possible that they could have missed.
16 The objective criteria I'm using are sight and sound.
17 The lady, the elderly lady, with the two children was
18 standing in front of us. The sniper fire came from
19 behind her. She, in effect, was blocking, I believe --
20 would have been blocking the sniper's view. It is
21 possible to hear and even to see, in a very vague way
22 perhaps, where the fire is coming from, and at that
23 point in time, it was some distance above our head.
24 Once we were out into the open and fleeing, then the
25 bullets became increasingly close, and our impression
1 was that the sniper would have had a very easy shot had
2 he wanted to kill the elderly lady since she was
3 standing still. Once we began running, it would have
4 been somewhat more difficult to target us, obviously.
5 Q. If this Croatian woman stood in front of you,
6 and the way you describe it, she was sort of a shield
7 for you, why would the Croats shoot at an area where
8 they could also have shot at a Croatian woman?
9 A. Our impression was that they did not want us
10 in the village and clearly they did not want us
11 speaking to anyone. When we approached the lady, we
12 asked her whether she could tell us anything about what
13 had happened on April the 16th and who may have been
14 responsible. She was clearly very fearful of speaking
15 with us and said that she did not know anything, she
16 had not seen anything, and it was very soon after we
17 began speaking with her that the sniper fire came.
18 It would have -- on a balance of
19 probabilities, one would say that that would have been
20 an attempt to prevent us from obtaining further
21 information from the local inhabitants for fear that
22 someone may actually talk.
23 Q. In closing, let me ask you: I believe that
24 somewhere you stated or wrote that you received
25 information on persons who were -- some 18 names who
1 were involved in the attack, and I think that you
2 mentioned that 18 persons were identified as belonging
3 to those who took part in the attack.
4 A. Correct. This was given to my colleague,
6 Q. By which side? Who gave it to him?
7 A. The survivors in Zenica.
8 Q. Do you know approximately what date this was?
9 A. At least a month.
10 Q. I could use as accurate information as you
11 can provide.
12 A. I believe it was on the 5th of May, the day
13 when I stayed behind in Vitez and my colleague went to
15 Q. Do you know these names which were given to
16 you, and were there, among them, the names that were
17 provided by Sakib Ahmic?
18 A. I'm not aware what names appeared on that
19 list, nor was it really of great interest for us to
20 have the names of particular perpetrators.
21 We were not involved in a criminal
22 investigation. We were involved in preparing a human
23 rights report which looks at overall accountability of
24 parties to the conflict for humanitarian law
25 violations. The fact that the survivors were willing
1 to give us great detail, including names of specific
2 perpetrators, helped us confirm the veracity of their
3 story and the fact that indeed members of the HVO armed
4 forces were involved in the attack on Ahmici.
5 Those 18 names were of no particular interest
6 to us at that point in time. They were given to the
7 commission of experts which was established by the
8 Security Council which, at that point, was tasked with
9 gathering specific information about humanitarian law
10 violations with a view to possible prosecutions in the
11 case that a Tribunal, such as this one, would be
13 I do not know whether the name of any of the
14 particular accused present before us today was included
15 in that list; however, I would not be surprised if it
17 Q. Would you be surprised had that not been the
19 A. No, you see, because we did not
20 systematically interview each and every person. There
21 were about 50 to 60 survivors out of a much larger
22 population in Ahmici, so the names which we got would
23 have been very random. It would have depended on whom
24 we happened to interview on that particular day.
25 Q. Well, in paragraph 17 of your report you
1 described a conversation which your colleague (redacted)
2 (redacted) had with Sakib Ahmic. Was this draft based on
3 (redacted) notes of this interview and was this put into
4 your report accurately?
5 A. Yes, certainly it was put into our report
6 accurately. It was based on the notes of (redacted)
7 and it was based on the on-site visit to Ahmici the
8 following day on May 6th, where we--
9 MR. RADOVIC: Very well. I'm just interested
10 in the conversation and whether it was reflected
11 accurately in the report in paragraph 17. So I'm just
12 interested in --
13 JUDGE CASSESE: This is a question that has
14 already been put by Mrs. Glumac. So --
15 MR. RADOVIC: Well, I'm finished thank you.
16 JUDGE CASSESE: We decided we would not
17 repeat the same question. Thank you.
18 MR. RADOVIC: Yes, and I pay attention to
19 that, and I thank you for this. I will -- I am
20 finished. I just wanted to reconfirm this particular
21 point regarding Sakib Ahmic, given his statement.
22 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you.
23 Mr. Susak, have you got many questions?
24 MR. SUSAK: Mr. President, I'm going to be
25 very short this time because my colleagues have asked a
1 number of questions. I have just two.
2 Cross-examined by Mr. Susak:
3 Q. My name is Luko Susak, I'm a lawyer, attorney
4 for Mr. Josipovic.
5 In your report you stated that besides
6 identified corpses, there remained another up to 100,
7 which may have been under the rubble. You also
8 mentioned it was hazardous to retrieve them because of
9 the instability of the remaining walls.
10 A. Correct.
11 Q. However, today you said that the bodies were
12 not retrieved because the area was mined, the land
13 around the buildings were booby-trapped. Would you
14 explain the difference between that and what you said
15 in the report?
16 A. It may have been mined. I did not say that
17 it was, but there was a high probability that there
18 were mines or other explosives which would have posed a
19 great risk. I also mentioned that in addition to that
20 risk there was the problem of resources. It would have
21 required a tremendous amount of resources to lift out
22 of that rubble -- all of that rubble in order to search
23 for dead bodies underneath, and since the British
24 battalion was already stretched very thin as an
25 interposition force between the two sides in a
1 relatively wide area, they did not have the resources.
2 I think the danger of collapsing roofs or walls was
3 part of the difficulties associated -- part of the
4 resource constraint which prevented such activities
5 from taking place.
6 Q. Right. I just wanted to make a point that
7 there is a difference between your report and your
8 statement today.
9 Another thing, you said that you wrote the
10 report, you drafted the report, whereas the conclusions
11 were written by Polish Prime Minister Mazowiecki, is
12 that correct?
13 A. Yes. Not only the conclusions but also the
14 introduction and certain other parts of the report,
15 especially those relating to the city of Mostar.
16 Q. What I'm interested in is the area in Vitez.
17 Were there any supplements or amendments made to your
18 report before -- by a third party before the draft ever
19 reached Mazowiecki?
20 A. For the portions relating to Ahmici and
21 Vitez, no.
22 Q. In your statement, you said that some
23 additions and corrections have been made -- had been
24 made to the report.
25 A. The additions and corrections I mentioned
1 were not maybe additions or corrections, but they were
2 editing. There's an editing process where the office
3 in Geneva would take reports or drafts which we have
4 submitted to them and make the necessary changes in
5 language, and structure and organisation of paragraphs
6 in order to make it into a suitable format -- a format
7 suitable for presentation to the Commission on Human
8 Rights. But substantive editing of the facts I don't
9 think was involved in that process.
10 Q. You said that after adding certain facts and
11 corrections the report was then forwarded on?
12 A. Yes. The facts were not related to
13 Ahmici/Vitez. As I explained, the parts of the report,
14 for example, dealing with Mostar, were not prepared
15 based on information which we had given the Geneva
16 office, or information relating to the situation of
17 human rights in other parts of the -- other parts of
19 So those parts were included by the office in
20 Geneva, but the information on Vitez and Ahmici came
21 almost exclusively from the field staff. Geneva would
22 not have had access to sources additional to those
23 which we provided for the report.
24 Q. You said today there were other reports
25 submitted from the territory of the former Yugoslavia.
1 You mentioned there were ten of them.
2 A. Approximately. I'm not sure at that point,
3 but I think that would be a safe guess.
4 Q. Have there been any additions or amendments
5 to those reports, as was the case with your report?
6 A. I recall only one amendment being made to any
7 of the reports that had to deal with the destruction of
8 a mosque in Prijepolje, in Serbia Montenegro,
9 where erroneous information had been received, and
10 there was a core agendum in a subsequent report which
11 indicated that that mosque in a particular town had
12 actually not been destroyed but had been damaged. But
13 on the whole, I don't recall any other such core agenda
14 or amendments, and this is from roughly 20 reports over
15 several years.
16 Q. And one more question. You said that you had
17 arrived to the area of Vitez in order to establish to
18 what extent human rights are observed; is that
20 A. Correct.
21 Q. Would you please tell us what was your
22 particular task? Which particular kind of human rights
23 violations were you sent to establish?
24 A. In the context of such violence, clearly the
25 sort of violations which one would look at would not
1 be, let's say, freedom of expression or freedom of
2 assembly, but the right to life, cases of torture,
3 cases of rape and sexual assault. In general,
4 violations involving grievous bodily harm or death, in
5 addition to, let's say, wanton destruction of property,
6 which is an indication of discriminatory policy or act
7 of persecution.
8 Q. Did you arrive with a plan previously made to
9 deal only with human rights violations against Muslims,
10 not Croats?
11 A. No, we clearly did not. We only came with
12 the LAN to look at violations in the Lasva Valley
13 region, because that is where there had been a
14 considerable amount of violence. At no time in this or
15 any other investigation would we have such ethnic or
16 religious preference in making our reports.
17 Q. All right. Are you aware that Serbs from the
18 village of Tolovici had fled the area, and do you know
19 who is now living there?
20 A. I have no idea where this village is and what
21 transpired there.
22 Q. Because there have been human rights
23 violations against Serbs by the Muslims, by Bosniaks.
24 Another thing; are you aware of the fact that
25 Mazowiecki's reports sometimes differed from UNPROFOR's
2 A. Do you give me some examples?
3 Q. I'm saying that because I found that out from
4 the press, and I'm asking you if you are aware of this,
5 because you had been employed at the centre -- at this
6 centre at the time, because reports sometimes did
7 not -- were not identical, Mazowiecki's reports and
8 UNPROFOR's reports. You can answer with a"Yes" or"No".
9 A. Well, what I can say is that the mandate of
10 UNPROFOR was not to monitor human rights. Their
11 mandate was to engage in peacekeeping, and where there
12 was no peace to keep, to facilitate humanitarian
13 relief. Now, it is conceivable that UNPROFOR may have
14 had reports which differed in certain respects, because
15 they came across information accidentally or incidental
16 to the discharge of their primary mandate, which was
17 not human rights monitoring.
18 On the whole, we relied heavily on what
19 UNPROFOR soldiers had witnessed, since they were one of
20 the reliable sources and one of the sources which had
21 intimate familiarity with the situation on the ground.
22 But I am very interested to know if in addition to what
23 the press has to say, and the press says many things
24 without substantiating it, I would be interested to
25 know if there was ever any serious contradiction on any
1 serious matter between the reports of Tadeusz
2 Mazowiecki and UNPROFOR.
3 To the extent that there may have been a
4 contradiction, I don't think "contradiction" is the
5 right word. It could be that UNPROFOR was less
6 interested in exposing atrocities than Prime Minister
7 Mazowiecki was, and this is because of complicated
8 factors which we need not get into here, but that is
9 not a contradiction, in my eyes.
10 JUDGE CASSESE: I'm sorry, are you through
11 with your questions? Because, actually, you said you
12 would put two questions, but eventually --
13 MR. SUSAK: I was just concluding. Thank
14 you, Mr. President.
15 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you. I think we -- I
16 don't know whether the Prosecutor is going to
17 re-examine the witness. Let's us break now for 30
19 --- Recess taken at 11.17 a.m.
20 --- On resuming at 11.50 a.m.
21 JUDGE CASSESE: Mr. Terrier?
22 MR. TERRIER: Mr. President, I only have a
23 few questions following along the cross-examination.
24 Re-examined by Mr. Terrier:
25 Q. Mr. Akhavan, Mr. Radovic stated that you were
1 of Canadian nationality. Did you note this information
2 somewhere? Is this information found in the written
3 report, the report from the Human Rights Commission, or
4 did you give such information in the course of your
5 various interviews or testimony?
6 A. No, I did not.
7 Q. Would the fact that you are of Canadian
8 nationality be an obstacle to your activities?
9 A. I would hardly think so.
10 Q. Mr. Akhavan, I would like for you to stand up
11 and to approach the aerial photograph of Ahmici. Would
12 you please show this Tribunal where you were located
13 when shots were fired in your direction?
14 A. To the best of my recollection, we had -- the
15 Scimitar armoured personnel carriers had been parked in
16 the vicinity of the mosque with the destroyed minaret,
17 so that would have been somewhere in this area
18 (indicating). We had walked up this road and observed
19 the elderly lady and her two children walking along a
20 footpath, I believe, in this area. We should have
21 approached her across this small field here. The
22 sniper fire would have probably come from this
23 direction here (indicating). There was a slightly
24 wooded area here. The British battalion members
25 believe that that would have been the most likely
1 location for the sniper fire.
2 We ran back in this direction across this
3 road, and the sniper fire continued in this direction
4 (indicating). It's based on some of the bullets that
5 hit the wall that I can safely predict that the
6 direction of the sniper fire would have been from this
8 Q. Was anyone hit or wounded by this gunfire?
9 A. Yes. One of the members of the British
10 battalion who was accompanying us was hit by a bullet.
11 He was exceptionally fortunate because the bullet went
12 in one side of his flak jacket and out the other side,
13 from behind the arm, and he had a rather serious flesh
14 wound which did not penetrate his body, however, and
15 this, I believe, was captured on television camera even
16 after he took off his flak jacket. He was extremely
17 fortunate not to have been more seriously injured, but
18 it became very clear to us that we were being very
19 deliberately targeted, and it could not conceivably
20 have been accidental that he was hit, and he was
21 targeted after we had safely arrived in the armoured
22 personnel carrier at which time presumably the snipers
23 could no longer direct their fire against us.
24 Q. Thank you, Mr. Akhavan. I have a few more
25 questions. When you met with the authorities, the
1 military and political authorities for the Croat
2 community there in Vitez, did either of them admit that
3 HVO forces had entered into Ahmici village and took
4 part in fighting there?
5 A. None of the authorities which we spoke with
6 admitted that the HVO were responsible for the
7 atrocities in the village. I specifically asked both
8 Dario Kordic and Tihofil Blaskic, firstly, whether the
9 area in the Lasva Valley region was firmly under the
10 control of HVO forces, to which they responded in the
11 affirmative. I then asked them whether the HVO forces
12 had been responsible for the attacks in Ahmici, to
13 which they responded in the negative. Then I asked
14 them to provide me with an explanation as to who would
15 have been responsible if it was not the HVO, to which
16 they responded by saying that they did not know,
17 although Dario Kordic tried to suggest that it may have
18 been either the Bosnian Serbs who would have come
19 across tens of kilometres to commit this atrocity and
20 to leave undetected or that the Muslims themselves may
21 have committed the atrocity in order to provoke
22 international sympathy. But at no time was there any
23 willingness to accept that the HVO was in any way
25 Q. Did any of them advise you that any type of
1 strategic military activities were going to take place
2 in Ahmici; in particular, in that area, in Busovaca and
3 Vitez? Did they state that Ahmici was of strategic
5 A. I believe that the road neighbouring Ahmici
6 was of strategic importance. That was an obvious fact
7 readily recognised. I specifically asked Colonel
8 Blaskic whether there was a significant military
9 presence or threat in Ahmici which would have justified
10 such an attack, to which he responded in the negative.
11 He did not suggest that there was somehow a major
12 Bosnian Muslim military presence in the village.
13 Q. A moment ago, Counsellor Glumac talked about
14 five Croat deaths and nine wounded in Ahmici. Had this
15 information already come to you before then?
16 A. I had never heard this information before.
17 Q. When you went to Zenica, do you remember
18 having met with Sakib Ahmic?
19 A. No, I did not meet personally with Sakib
21 Q. Did you meet with other refugees from Ahmici?
22 A. Yes, I did.
23 Q. Would you please tell this Tribunal in what
24 psychological state and perhaps even physical condition
25 these persons were found? I'm referring to the
1 refugees from Ahmici.
2 A. Well, many of them were clearly in shock
3 based on the events which they had witnessed. Almost
4 all of them had seen people who they knew, in many
5 cases members of their family had been killed in cold
6 blood before their eyes, they had seen their homes
7 burnt, destroyed. So on the whole, they tended to be
8 very silent and they tended to speak about the events
9 in a rather detached way, which I took to be an attempt
10 to distance themselves from events which had so
11 overwhelmed them. This applied equally to some of the
12 elderly people with whom we spoke and equally to
13 smaller children. We spoke to a girl who may have been
14 anywhere from nine to 12 years of age. So on the
15 whole, the people, I think, were in a state of shock.
16 That's how I would describe them.
17 In terms of their physical appearance, those
18 who were injured, such as Sakib Ahmic, were not at the
19 refugee centre, they were in a hospital or elsewhere
20 for treatment, but the people who we saw, of course,
21 were largely wearing the same clothes which they were
22 wearing at the time when they fled, and they had very
23 few, if any, possessions with them.
24 Q. Do you have any information about this Centre
25 for the Investigation of Genocide located in Zenica?
1 A. I have relatively little information. Some
2 of my other colleagues were dealing with this centre
3 more frequently than I did.
4 What I do recall is that the centre was
5 somehow related to the Bosnian government. I'm not
6 sure whether it was specifically an agency of the
7 Bosnian government or if it was a non-governmental
8 operation funded by the Bosnian government. We usually
9 referred to them in order to find the location of
10 potential witnesses, but we were generally cautious in
11 our relation with them.
12 Q. Do you know whether or not this Centre for
13 the Investigation of Genocide employed persons who were
14 skilled in the area of investigations; for example,
15 police officers?
16 A. I'm not in a position to give an opinion.
17 What I do know is that at that point in time, given the
18 scarcity of resources and given the overwhelming
19 military threat which the Bosnian Muslims faced, that
20 most able-bodied men of fighting age would have been
21 enlisted in the armed forces. I do recall that the
22 director or head or representative of the centre that
23 we met in Zenica on that occasion was a man possibly in
24 his 40s, but I'm not aware of some of the other staff
25 members and what their qualifications were.
1 Q. With regards to your own methodologies, the
2 methodologies you used and that of your colleague, and
3 also with regard to your own objectives, can you
4 imagine that one day your report, the human rights
5 report, will be submitted to an international criminal
7 A. Definitely not.
8 MR. TERRIER: No further questions,
9 Mr. President.
10 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you, Mr. Terrier. I
11 have just one question for the witness.
12 Q. Mr. Akhavan, it has been alleged by the
13 Prosecution that the HVO forces attacked in April, the
14 16th of April, '93, both Vitez and the nearby villages
15 of Ahmici as well as Donja Vecersha -- sorry for my bad
16 pronunciation -- Sivrino Selo, Santici, Nadioci, Stara
17 Bila, Gacice, Pirici, and Preocica, and these were all
18 villages very close to Vitez. I wonder whether you had
19 the opportunity, while preparing the report for the
20 Mazowiecki Commission, whether you had an opportunity
21 to look into this HVO attack in villages other than
23 A. We, unfortunately, did not have the
24 opportunity. At that point in time, the entire field
25 operation of Prime Minister Mazowiecki was (redacted)
1 (redacted) and myself. There were only two people
2 responsible for all of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina,
3 and we generally tended to rely on information from
4 other sources and we reserved on-site investigations
5 for particularly egregious atrocities.
6 In this case, our mission to the region took
7 approximately one week, during which we were only able
8 to visit certain locales in the region and to meet only
9 certain authorities. So we did note in the report that
10 there were attacks in other areas, this is in paragraph
11 9 of the report, where we indicate that there were also
12 simultaneously and apparently concerted attacks by
13 Croat HVO forces on the surrounding villages and that
14 most of the villages appear to have been defended and
15 combat ensued.
16 Ahmici was once again singled out because it
17 was one of the villages in which there was apparently
18 no sign of any sort of serious resistance and where the
19 civilian casualties were apparently the highest.
20 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you. I have no other
21 questions. I assume there is no objection to the
22 witness being released.
23 Thank you, Mr. Akhavan. You may now be
25 (The witness withdrew)
1 JUDGE CASSESE: Mr. Terrier, I assume from
2 the document we received over the weekend that --
3 actually, I got it this morning -- that your next
4 witness, number 4, has dropped out. Is that correct?
5 MR. TERRIER: Yes, number 4.
6 JUDGE CASSESE: So we move on to witness
7 number 5.
8 MR. TERRIER: Witness 4, Mr. President, on
9 the list which is dated the 28th of August, 1998, this
10 is a protected witness, should be using a pseudonym, we
11 should be calling him Witness F, and that witness is
12 present and ready to testify. Witness F.
13 JUDGE CASSESE: No, I asked that question
14 because, if I understood you correctly, he is not
15 included in the list of witnesses which is in the
16 document filed on the 28th of August. Nonetheless,
17 what counts is that you can confirm that number 4,
18 Witness number 4, is ready to testify.
19 MR. TERRIER: Yes, Your Honour, he's ready to
20 testify. He's outside.
21 JUDGE CASSESE: Yes. Let us benefit from the
22 fact that the witness is not yet here to ask a
23 question. For this witness in particular, it is true
24 we only have the witness statement from the 26th of
25 July, 1995. I see that we have always stated the
1 various dates in which an interview was made of a
2 certain witness. This is the date I have before me.
3 (The witness entered)
4 JUDGE CASSESE: Good morning. May I ask you
5 to make the solemn declaration, please?
6 THE WITNESS: I solemnly declare that I will
7 speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the
9 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you. You may be
11 WITNESS: Witness F.
12 Examined by Mr. Terrier:
13 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit 100.
14 JUDGE CASSESE: Sorry. May I just for the
15 record, I'm afraid the transcript is not correct. I
16 didn't say that we have always stated the various dates
17 that an interview was taken of a certain witness.
18 Actually, I said that we have received, and we are
19 grateful to the Prosecution for that, a document filed
20 on the 28th of August indicating, for various witnesses
21 to be called this week, the dates of their statements,
22 and since the present witness is not included in this
23 list, I was simply asking the Prosecutor whether
24 actually we have, for this particular statement, only
25 -- for this particular, sorry, witness, only a
1 statement he made on the 26th of January, '95. Just
2 for the record because, as I say, the ...
3 MR. TERRIER: Mr. President, I would simply
4 like to clarify one matter. With regards to the
5 previous statements by the witness, in the motion which
6 we have submitted to this Tribunal, in accordance with
7 the order of 20 of May, 1998, it was mentioned that
8 this witness has made two statements, one before the
9 International Tribunal for the Office of the Prosecutor
10 on the 26th of January, 1995, and also on the 13th of
11 May, 1996, at the Centre for the Investigation of War
12 Crimes and Genocide.
13 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you.
14 MR. TERRIER: May I proceed, Mr. President?
15 JUDGE CASSESE: Yes, go ahead.
16 MR. TERRIER:
17 Q. Witness, you are here as a protected
18 witness. Your name would not be divulged outside of
19 this room, and your face cannot be recognised outside
20 of this room. I'm going to ask you a number of
21 questions. I'm going to ask that you respond without
22 giving any information which may reveal the identity of
23 yourself or your family.
24 During these proceedings I'm going to show
25 you a photograph of Ahmici so that you can indicate to
1 us where your house is located, but at that time I will
2 request leave of the Honours in this Tribunal to go
3 into closed session so that that information will not
4 be known outside of this room.
5 Would you please state to this Tribunal how
6 old you are and how old you were at the time of the
7 events in 1993?
8 A. I was about 14 years of age.
9 Q. And today you are of adult size. Could you
10 please tell me what your size was at that time, age 14?
11 A. About 1.40 metres.
12 Q. Could you please indicate for this Tribunal
13 what is the composition of your family, without giving
14 any names?
15 A. We were five members of the family, my
16 father, mother, sister, brother and myself.
17 Q. How old was your brother?
18 A. He was eight years old.
19 Q. And your sister?
20 A. Four years.
21 Q. And at that time you were in school, were you
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Where did you go to school?
25 A. I went to the Dubravica elementary school.
1 Q. Do you have any Croat friends?
2 A. Yes, I did.
3 Q. Before April 1993, what relation did you have
4 with these Croat friends?
5 A. They were regular relations.
6 Q. At one time or another did you note to
7 yourself whether or not your Croat colleagues were
8 aware of the political situation in the area?
9 A. They were telling us when we were being bussed
10 to the school, they were saying that Ahmici was going
11 to be another Vukovar.
12 Q. In your mind, what did that mean, that Ahmici
13 would become a Vukovar?
14 A. That everything was going to be burned down
15 and everybody killed.
16 Q. That's what you felt that that meant?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Let us now move on to the day preceding the
19 16th of April, 1993. During that day, on the 15th of
20 April, 1993, which is a Thursday, did you notice any
21 unusual or disturbing events in that area?
22 A. Yes, I did.
23 Q. What were they?
24 A. Every day after school, in the evening, we
25 used to play soccer, but that Thursday our Croat
1 friends did not show up to play soccer, which was
2 surprising, I think.
3 Q. In your opinion, why did they not come to
4 play football on that day?
5 A. They must have had some reason for it. I
6 don't know what.
7 Q. Could you please tell this Tribunal in what
8 neighbourhood of Ahmici, without giving too many
9 details, in which neighbourhood in Ahmici you were
11 A. In the lower part of Ahmici.
12 Q. The lower part of Ahmici.
13 MR. TERRIER: Mr. President, perhaps at this
14 time it would be appropriate for this Tribunal to know
15 exactly where the witness's family was living. Perhaps
16 we could go to closed session so that I can submit the
17 photograph, the aerial photograph to the witness.
18 JUDGE CASSESE: Very well.
19 (Closed session)
8 (Open session).
9 THE REGISTRAR: We are in open session.
10 JUDGE CASSESE: Yes, we are in open session.
11 MR. TERRIER:
12 Q. Witness, do you recall what you did in Ahmici
13 on the afternoon of Thursday, the 15th of April, 1993?
14 A. I was playing with my peers who are Muslims.
15 Q. What were you playing?
16 A. We played some soccer and other things.
17 Q. At what location were you playing?
18 A. We were playing near the main road, the
19 Busovaca/Vitez road, and near the school in Ahmici, in
20 the schoolyard in Ahmici.
21 Q. In the courtyard of the school in Ahmici.
22 This school is near the mosque, is it not?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. And on that occasion when you were playing in
25 Ahmici with your Muslim colleagues and friends, did you
1 note any unusual actions or facts in Ahmici?
2 A. Yes, did I.
3 Q. What do you mean?
4 A. While we were near the main Busovaca/Vitez
5 road, I saw a vehicle belonging to Ivo Papic leaving
6 with women -- with some women and coming back with some
7 other people who had not left with them.
8 Q. At what moment in the afternoon did that
10 A. Sometime around 2.00 or 3.00 in the
12 Q. Do you remember who was in the vehicle in the
14 A. I only recall that there was a woman and some
15 children. I did not see the driver, I only saw their
17 Q. And do you remember when you saw that car
18 come back?
19 A. After about an hour, I believe.
20 Q. And you yourself was located at what location
21 when you witnessed this?
22 A. Near the Redzo Pezer's house.
23 Q. Which means what in relation to the main
24 road? Is it far from the main road?
25 A. No, it was right by the road.
1 Q. Exactly what kind of car was it? Was it a
2 car that you recognised?
3 A. Yes, it was a red Lada.
4 Q. Who did this car belong to?
5 A. I believe that it belonged to Ivo Papic.
6 Q. On the 15th of April, on that afternoon did
7 you see anything else happen that was unusual?
8 A. Yes, I did. I saw that -- I saw Ivica
9 Kupreskic leaving with his family from Ahmici, but I
10 did not see them come back.
11 Q. When was that when you saw Ivica Kupreskic
12 and his family leave?
13 A. Sometime around 4.00, 4.00 to 5.00, before
15 Q. What kind of car did they use?
16 A. It was a Mercedes, a 200-D model.
17 Q. Do you remember who was driving the vehicle?
18 A. I do.
19 Q. Who was it?
20 A. Ivica Blaskic (sic). In the schoolyard, near
21 the fence.
22 MR. TERRIER: Do you know in which direction
23 this car went?
24 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter missed the
25 question preceding that one.
1 JUDGE CASSESE: The answer was "Ivica
2 Kupreskic," I think, not "Blaskic," just for the
3 record. Thank you.
4 MR. TERRIER:
5 Q. Do you know in which direction this car was
7 A. I don't.
8 Q. I'm going to show you a photograph.
9 Yes, I think there's a problem with
10 interpretation with regard to the Mercedes which you
11 saw leave, driven by Ivica Kupreskic. What model car
12 was that? I believe there's some --
13 A. 200-D.
14 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit 102.
15 MR. TERRIER:
16 Q. Witness, what is on this photograph?
17 A. This is the four-year elementary school.
19 Q. When you said you were playing football near
20 the elementary school in Ahmici, is this the school
21 you're referring to?
22 A. Yes, I did.
23 Q. In what location were you located when you
24 saw the Mercedes belonging to Ivica Kupreskic leave?
25 Is this area visible on this photograph?
1 A. Partially, yes, I can see it here, here.
2 Around here, behind the fence.
3 Q. Is the road where the Mercedes drove, is it
4 far from there?
5 A. No. It was right around here somewhere.
6 MR. TERRIER: Thank you. I have no further
7 use for that photograph.
8 Mr. President, we are now going to go on to
9 the issue of the 16th of April. Perhaps this might be
10 an appropriate time to interrupt proceedings, because I
11 see it is 12.30. It's as you wish.
12 JUDGE CASSESE: No, I believe you were going
13 to go on until quarter to one so I believe another 15
14 minutes would be useful for us to continue.
15 MR. TERRIER:
16 Q. Witness, can you now, please, describe what
17 happened, to the best of your recollection, on the 16th
18 of April, 1993? Go ahead.
19 A. I can't hear the interpretation.
20 Q. Please go ahead. Please state to this
21 Tribunal what happened on the 16th of April, 1993.
22 A. I was awakened by heavy shooting in the
23 morning, and I heard a conversation between my mother
24 and most probably my grandfather. She was saying that
25 we should get ready and leave the house. I came out
1 into the hallway in order to put on my track suit, but
2 the entrance door to the house was open and I saw an
3 arm throwing in a large-sized hand grenade.
4 My mother attempted to throw out this hand
5 grenade, but it exploded in her hand and it wounded her
6 in the side. It cut her arm off and it also killed my
7 brother. And I then left and looked and saw another
8 hand grenade at my feet. It also exploded and it
9 injured me in the lower part of my body.
10 Then I went to the bedroom and hid behind the
11 bed where we were sleeping, and another hand grenade
12 was thrown in there and it exploded.
13 Then an unknown man came into the room and
14 started pushing the door in and told me to get out. I
15 stepped out and he first said, "Do you have matches?"
16 I told him that I did not. Then he asked me whether
17 there was anybody else upstairs. I told him that there
18 was nobody there. He asked me where my father was. I
19 told him that I did not know. He said that I had to go
20 and find him because my mother needed assistance. I
21 still -- I maintained that I did not know where he
23 Then he went upstairs and some explosions
24 could be heard up there while he was up there. While
25 he was there we hid in the pantry, myself, my mother
1 and sister, while my brother remained in the kitchen.
2 He was dead. When my mother told me to go and carry
3 him over to us in the pantry, I saw that the kitchen
4 was already on fire.
5 I tried to approach him a couple of times,
6 but the fire was already coming through the door, so I
7 could not. I took a deep breath and attempted to enter
8 there, and fortunately I was able to grab my brother by
9 his feet and drag him outside into the hallway. Then I
10 told my mother and sister to come out of there because
11 we couldn't stay there any longer, the house had all
12 been all in flames.
13 When we attempted to leave the house, a
14 bullet came from the direction of Husein Ahmic's house,
15 and it again hit my mother somewhere in the stomach
16 area. There, at Husein's house, there was a small
17 group of four or five soldiers who were there and who
18 were expelling Husein and his family members from the
20 I carried my brother to the barn and came
21 back for my sister whom I also carried to the barn, but
22 I put her in a manger. I went back to help my mother
23 so that she could join us, but she said that she did
24 need assistance, that she could come there by herself.
25 So I went back to the barn and she joined us there as
1 well, and there she was for about 15 or 20 minutes and
2 then she expired there. Her last words were that I
3 should take care of my sister, and that I should find
4 my father.
5 I also lay down in the manger together with
6 my sister and I lost consciousness. I only came to
7 sometime in the middle of the night, 2.00 or 3.00 in
8 the morning. I saw that the roof of the barn was on
9 fire, and I could hear some conversation around the
10 house -- around the structure.
11 When we had all entered the barn, I had sort
12 of blocked it but not so much that it could not be
13 reopened again, and then I heard the soldier saying
14 that everybody had been killed around the lower mosque
15 and that they should move up towards the upper mosque.
16 When they all left, one of them started to go
17 into the barn. He saw that the door was stuck. He
18 tried to break in the door. He saw that he couldn't do
19 it. Then he called out to his colleague. He said,
20 "Mirko, come. I can't enter the barn." Then the two
21 of them broke in the door, that is, they pried it open
22 enough so that they could all throw in a hand grenade,
23 and then they went around the other side. They broke
24 the window. They said that only a child and a woman
25 were inside.
1 Then they asked someone else whether they
2 should bring out the cow or if they should leave it
3 there, and they got the answer to bring it out. They
4 said, "Well, how are we going to do that with all the
5 dead bodies in there?" And then they said, "Well,
6 whatever you want to do." Then they threw another hand
7 grenade under the cow and then they finished it off
8 with a rifle, and they also killed a lamb which was
9 inside the barn. Then they left. I again lost
10 consciousness and I came to around noon.
11 Q. I'm sorry, I have to interrupt you a moment.
12 We are going to let you resume in a moment. I would
13 like a number of clarifications about what you just
14 stated. A moment ago you stated that when you heard
15 the first gunfire on the morning of the 16th and you
16 got up, your father was not there. Your father was not
17 in the house. Why?
18 A. He was probably on guard duty.
19 Q. You are saying "he was probably." Do you
20 know or you don't know?
21 A. I did not know, but later on, he told me that
22 he was on guard duty. I did not know at that time. I
23 learned that later.
24 Q. The first soldier that you saw who entered
25 into the house and threw a grenade, can you describe
2 A. He was wearing a camouflage uniform, he had
3 his face painted black, he was carrying an automatic
4 rifle, and on his back he had a rocket launcher. He
5 also had some kind of orange armband and he also had
6 some kind of emblem. I did not know whether it was
7 HV or HVO insignia.
8 Q. Can you describe this emblem? What colour
9 was it, for example? What was the colour of the
10 emblem? What colour were the letters?
11 A. The field was green and it had some kind of a
12 circle, yellow, and I believe that the letters -- the
13 lettering was also yellow -- yellow or black, I'm not
15 Q. When you talk about a piece of orange cloth,
16 are you referring to a ribbon? Was that person wearing
17 a type of ribbon? Did you see a ribbon?
18 A. No. He had -- it was like a ribbon which was
19 cloth -- I don't know. It was here, it was hanging
20 from here (indicating). It was orange in colour.
21 Q. When you left the house, you stated that, at
22 that moment, other soldiers were trying to get people
23 to get out of the neighbouring house.
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Do you remember how these other soldiers were
2 A. I do recall. They were also wearing
3 camouflage uniforms.
4 Q. Did you recognise any of these soldiers?
5 A. I recognised Ahdelko Vidovic, called Acko.
6 He was leaning against Husein's -- I think it was a
7 shed of some sort.
8 Q. What was he doing? What was he doing next to
9 the cellar of your neighbour's house? What was he
11 A. I believe that he was either standing there
12 or taking shelter from something. I don't know. I'm
13 not sure.
14 Q. You stated that when they went out, your
15 mother was wounded, wounded by a bullet.
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Do you know who or what group fired that
18 shot, which group of soldiers fired that shot?
19 A. I believe that the bullet came up from
20 Husein's house, from this group who was in Husein's
21 back yard.
22 Q. So after taking refuge in the stables, you
23 said that you tried to seek some sort of refuge in
24 the --
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. -- manger for the cattle. It was indeed a
2 manger for the cattle, was it not? What size was that
4 A. About 50 centimetres.
5 Q. Was it an appropriate shelter?
6 A. Yes. They were all made of concrete.
7 Q. You said at one moment you heard voices
8 outside of the stables and that there were people using
9 a Motorola. When you refer to a Motorola, what do you
10 mean by that?
11 A. It was some kind of radio device by which two
12 groups communicate.
13 Q. Did you see this radio yourself? Motorola is
14 a brand name. Did you see that yourself?
15 A. No, I did not see it.
16 Q. When the soldiers saw the body of your mother
17 and your brother in the stable, what did they say?
18 A. They said that a woman and a child were
20 Q. How did they say that? Were they horrified
21 when they said it?
22 A. They said it in a cold voice; they said a
23 woman and a child were there.
24 MR. TERRIER: Perhaps we might go back to his
25 account, but now, Mr. President, perhaps might be a
1 good time.
2 JUDGE CASSESE: Yes. We rise now. We have
3 no hearing this afternoon, as you know, so we will
4 therefore adjourn until tomorrow morning at 9.30.
5 --- Whereupon proceedings adjourned at
6 12.50 p.m., to be reconvened on Tuesday,
7 the 1st day of September, 1998, at
8 9.30 a.m.