1 Monday, 5 May 2008
2 [Prlic Defence Opening Statement]
3 [Open session]
4 [The accused entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 2.17 p.m.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Registrar, please call the
8 THE REGISTRAR: Good afternoon, Your Honours. Good afternoon,
9 everyone in and around the courtroom. This is case number IT-04-74-T,
10 the Prosecutor versus Prlic et al. Thank you, Your Honours.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you. Today's Monday, the
12 5th of May, 2008. We are resuming the proceedings in this case. I'd
13 like to greet the Prosecution, the Defence counsel, as well as the
14 accused, and I see that all the accused are with us today.
15 Before I give the floor to one of the parties if they wish to
16 raise an administrative matter, I would like to say the following: This
17 week we'll have first of all an opening statement today, and for the
18 other three days this week we'll have a witness, a witness called by
19 Mr. Prlic's Defence, and the Prlic Defence told us that they needed five
20 hours to examine the witness in chief. If two and a half hours are
21 allocated for the cross-examination of the other Defence counsel, that
22 would give a total of seven and a half hours for the Defence to start
23 with, plus five hours for the cross-examination by the Prosecution, and
24 in total that's 12 and a half hours without taking into account Judges'
25 questions or procedural matters.
1 This week we'll finish on Thursday at 6.30, and therefore it is
2 very likely that the witness will have to come back on Tuesday, the 13th
3 of May, because the 12th of May is a Bank Holiday, unless, of course, the
4 Prlic Defence uses less than five hours. Of course, Mr. Karnavas is the
5 only one who can tell us anything about this matter.
6 Are you still requesting or planning to examine this witness for
7 five hours, Mr. Karnavas?
8 MR. KARNAVAS: Good afternoon, Mr. President. Good afternoon,
9 Your Honours. Good afternoon, everyone in and around the court.
10 As of this moment, the answer to that question is yes. However,
11 and it is a big however, we are in the process of streamlining our
12 questioning and reducing the number of documents that we wanted to
13 introduce in order to achieve our objective within this week and not
14 having to bring the witness over for some other -- for some other day.
15 So we will do everything we possibly can. We also might be able to speak
16 with some of our colleagues. We understand some of them may not have any
17 questioning, in which case I think that we might be able to accommodate
18 everyone in this courtroom. Thank you.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Fine. Thank you, Mr. Karnavas.
20 Do the representatives of the Prosecution have anything to say?
21 MR. SCOTT: Good afternoon, Mr. President, Your Honours. No, we
22 have nothing at this time. We'd just rather get started. There may be
23 some matters tomorrow.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Fine. Thank you.
25 Mr. Karnavas, let me turn to you. If I understand correctly,
1 your client is going to make a statement.
2 MR. KARNAVAS: That is correct, Your Honour. In keeping with the
3 Trial Chamber's ruling with respect to the hours, we do understand the
4 logistics that -- and the problems that the Court has. However, we also
5 had to make some adjustments of our own, and having consulted
6 extensively, we have decided that Mr. Prlic would provide a statement in
7 lieu of taking the stand and testifying, and that would save
8 approximately one month of time. But be that as it may, he is prepared.
9 We believe the statement can be delivered today in its entirety if we
10 commence as quickly as possible. Thank you.
11 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Good morning, everybody. Mr. Karnavas, I have a
12 question in this respect with some surprise. I find here enormous
13 volumes of documents. Now -- and they -- on the head of it, it says
14 statement of Jadranko Prlic.
15 MR. KARNAVAS: Yes.
16 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Now, I wonder procedurally how this comes in
17 because you're quite aware of the fact that this declaration of Mr. Prlic
18 will not be evidence in any way, and he cannot be cross-examined, of
19 course, and is it your idea to introduce documents on which the person
20 who introduces them cannot be cross-examined? I would like you to
21 clarify your view on the procedural situation. Thank you.
22 MR. KARNAVAS: Yes. If you -- very well. The statement is
23 presented in a fashion in which he makes references to documents. Some
24 are in evidence already, so that should answer your question. If it is
25 in evidence, it is evidence. The documents, that is. Others may be
1 coming into evidence through other witnesses. I don't share your opinion
2 that even an unsworn statement is not evidence. It has less weight, but
3 you may decide, and maybe that is your position, and we'll do the
4 research, and now that we know that your position is that it is not
5 evidence, we'll see what -- what the jurisprudence says exactly on that
6 point. It's my opinion it may have less weight.
7 But of course we have been put in a position where we can't have
8 our cake and eat it too. We can't put on our full defence and meet the
9 demands, the hourly demands, that have been put upon us. Regrettably
10 that was a decision that was made by this Trial Chamber because, I
11 suspect, the completion strategy and the Security Council's need to close
12 this place down as quickly as possible. So we're trying to accommodate.
13 But that's how these documents are being used, as references to the -- to
14 his particular statement.
15 I fully recognise that through his statement, through his
16 statement, and this is perhaps more to the -- to answer your question,
17 through his statement documents cannot come in.
18 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you. That was the clarification I was
19 seeking there.
20 MR. KARNAVAS: Okay. Thank you very much.
21 JUDGE TRECHSEL: And I agree that the question of evidence is
22 open. It's the mercy of the Chamber, I was tempted to say, but it's
23 certainly a matter of mercy but of appreciation, dutiful appreciation.
24 MR. KARNAVAS: Very well. And I do appreciate your concern.
25 Thank you very much, Judge Trechsel.
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Fine. In order for those who
2 follow our proceedings to understand what's going on, I'm going to read
3 paragraph (B) of Rule 84 bis of the Rules that states that: "The Trial
4 Chamber shall decide on the probative value of the statement, if any."
5 Mr. Prlic, you have the floor.
6 THE ACCUSED PRLIC: Thank you, Mr. President, Your Honours.
7 [Interpretation] Bearing in mind your decision on how much time the
8 Defence is allowed to present our case, I have decided to offer this
9 brief presentation. For the most part, I was about to address all the
10 same issues during my own testimony. Bearing in mind the fact that I am
11 taking the floor at the outset of the Defence case, I will be announcing
12 some of our theories which we will be elaborating on over the next weeks
13 through our evidence. In order to save time, I will try to avoid
14 repeating what is already in the interview that I gave that the Chamber
15 has already admitted apart from maybe some sections that require further
17 What I'm trying to say at the outset is this: There was no joint
18 criminal enterprise such as alleged by the OTP. The intention that
19 guided me in my work was pure as driven snow. I contributed to our
20 Defence, to organising civilian life, and to building up Bosnia
22 crimes, nor did I encourage the commission of any crimes, nor am I aware
23 of the fact that any of the members of the provisional bodies of our
24 executive at the time were involved in anything like this. Quite the
25 contrary, in fact. We did everything to alleviate the consequences of
1 war and destruction, and we took all the steps required to see the
2 perpetrators of those crimes punished.
3 As I said during my initial appearance four years ago, I'm not
4 guilty under any of the counts of the indictment. I sympathise with all
5 the victims of this war. I myself, after all, are in a way one of its
6 victims. As I said before, my defence, too, represents the victims. My
7 defence, too, wants to see those responsible punished. In my
8 presentation, I will take a chronological approach combining such
9 information as I had at the time certain things were happening. I will
10 also use additional information gleaned for the most part from the OTP's
11 evidence or from the evidence that will likely be used by one of the
12 other Defence teams. This is something that I learned at a later stage.
13 This will give us a rounded-out picture of what happened.
14 When I spoke to the OTP, objectively speaking, I was in no
15 position to understand the overall picture such as I do now. I will tell
16 you about Bosnia and Herzegovina such is as it was within the Yugoslav
17 Federation. I will tell you about the multi-party elections. I will
18 tell you about the national issue arising at the time as a fundamental
19 issue. I will tell you about the winds of war in Slovenia and Croatia
20 I will tell you about the chaos that prevailed in Bosnia and Herzegovina
21 I will tell you about the dilemma based at the time stay in Yugoslavia
22 go our own way. I will tell you about the then-existing administrative
23 system. I will tell you about the formation of the Croatian communities
24 and the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna. I will tell you about the
25 setting up of the HVO and the provisional bodies of the executive
1 government HZ HV. I will tell you about the reasons for the Croatian
2 Republic of Herceg-Bosna, the two have been set up. I will till you
3 about the clashes with the BH army in some of the free territory. I will
4 also tell you about war crimes. I will tell you about my role prior to
5 enduring the actual conflict. I will also try to provide further
6 elucidations in relation to my interview with the OTP that -- there are
7 things that I didn't have a chance to say in relation to a total of 24
8 different subjects that the OTP had served on me four months before the
10 Finally, I will address my alleged role in the joint criminal
11 enterprise. I will be using the indictment itself to deal with this
13 Your Honours, you are familiar with my personal details, with my
14 biography, with my background. Thanks to all the jobs that I did in my
15 life, I can say that I was very familiar with the system as it was back
16 then. I had been to every local commune in Mostar, to all of the
17 municipalities throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. I had visited all the
18 most important collectives of the country. I was at the head,
19 objectively speaking, of our social, economic transition. In the formal
20 socialist federation, as someone who held a high office, I was familiar
21 with all forms of life. I was familiar with the decision-taking process.
22 I was familiar with all the various aspects of life of that particular
23 society: The young, the employment, import, export, monitoring issues,
24 defence-related issues, agriculture, the environment.
25 While I was chairman of the executive council of the
1 municipality, Mostar had just exceeded the magical figure of 50.000
2 employed. The potential was fantastic. I think this qualified me,
3 relatively young as I was at the time, to become a member of the
4 republican government. We launched our reforms immediately, and I was
5 the sub-president in charge of the economy. As quickly as six months
6 later, the last and most comprehensive programme of economic reform was
7 launched. The reforms were more or less similar to those launched by
8 more or less all of the countries of south-east Europe, especially those
9 that are today members of the European Union. The government grew in
10 importance, and the party decreased in importance as did the Central
11 Committee Of the League of Communists as the only party at the time.
12 However, after the elections the parties grew in power again and the
13 state mechanism was weakened as a result. In my opinion at least, this
14 was the one fundamental reason for the bloody break-up of the former
16 In order to understand the overall context and bearing in mind
17 the nature of the indictment, one must point out that in the former
19 speaking: The federation, the republics, and the municipalities. All
20 three of those were termed socio-political units or communities or
21 states, if you like. The municipalities were not bodies of local
22 government as they normally are in the countries of western democracy.
23 They were more like states. They had indirect [Realtime transcript read
24 in error "incorrect"] taxes, they had certain judicial functions, and
25 they had their own internal affairs sector. In the briefest possible
1 terms, the civilian bodies were in charge of external policies, some of
2 the judicial aspects, the relationships within the republics, the
3 defence, the currency, the exchange rates, customs-related issues, and --
4 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Excuse me. You can tell if you do not want to
5 have this, but I see in the transcript on line 21 that you are quoted as
6 saying that the municipalities had incorrect taxes. I'm pretty sure you
7 did not say that but I seem to have understood indirect taxes.
8 THE ACCUSED PRLIC: [Interpretation] Indirect, yes.
9 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you. Do you mind if such corrections
10 or question --
11 THE ACCUSED PRLIC: [Interpretation] [Overlapping speakers] No,
12 no. Just go ahead. Thank you for your intervention.
13 [Interpretation] The socialist republics and the same thing
14 applied to the socialist republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina were on the
15 whole responsible for public enterprises and for pensions. It was only
16 in Bosnia and Herzegovina that there was a republican pension fund from
17 which the money was paid to all the citizens. Also, responsible for
18 taxes and for prices in the republic. The republican institutions
19 financed education as a whole. The Ministry of the Interior was in
20 charge of building and maintaining the major roads in charge of water
21 management, partly in charge of culture, as well, in charge of secondary
22 education and the health system. The judiciary was in charge of various
23 inspection services. The district TO staffs were part of the republican
24 financing system while municipal staffs were bank rolled by
1 The health system was financed at republican level as well as
2 secondary education.
3 The chief regional institutions of Herzegovina, for example, in
4 Mostar where the university -- the university, it was bank rolled by
5 the -- a republican fund and the regional medical centre bank rolled by
6 the regional health fund and partly by the republic itself. The
7 municipalities were in charge of some of the general administrative
8 issues, the cadaster, property-related issues, planning, social
9 activities, social protection, public utilities such as garbage disposal,
10 land-related issues, running towns, waterworks and sewage systems, some
11 of the judiciary, and inspections in most of these areas.
12 In 1990, we did some strengthening of the republican system. We
13 started financing primary education because that was something that had
14 to be done under the constitution, and the objective was to give all
15 teachers the same sort of salary. As for internal affairs,
16 municipalities bank rolled their own internal affairs, but they also paid
17 their contributions into the regional fund, which led to a paradox.
18 Salaries were smaller at these lower levels --
19 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Excuse me. You have now for the second time
20 here used the term "regional." Could you explain what regional as
21 opposed to federation, state, municipality, refers to, please? Thank
23 THE ACCUSED PRLIC: There are three levels as I already told -
24 Federation, republic, municipalities - but also intermediary institution
25 was established inside republic. For instance, fund for finance of
1 secondary education. Then before they took all internal affairs, every
2 municipality financed its own internal affairs, and contribution was
3 proposed for every municipality to finance regional institution, and
4 having in mind lack of financial discipline, some municipalities didn't
5 provide money for that, and as the final effect we had the situation that
6 regional chief and regional police had lower salaries than those in
7 richer municipalities. It was the reason why we took over the whole
8 internal affairs in 1990, just to provide unical system of police or
9 internal affairs as we used to call that.
10 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you very much.
11 THE ACCUSED PRLIC: And please feel free to ask for any necessary
13 [Interpretation] The objective was to create -- to create a more
14 effective system of internal affairs to be maintained by the republican
15 system and especially in those situations that turned out to be more
16 complex as time was to show as soon as in 1991 the internal affairs
17 system was ruptured at the seams by the separation of the Serb
18 components, which soon led to the disintegration of the entire system.
19 Our goal was to create a republic that would be economically
20 strong, where the standards would be higher than those in the other
21 republics. We wanted to stop being perceived as underdeveloped, and I
22 think we were on the right track.
23 The year is 1990. The Berlin Wall had just fallen. The reason
24 we remember this year, because early that year there was a lot of
25 optimism as far as the economy was concerned. There was a programme by
1 the federal government as normally happens with this type of programme,
2 the results at the outset were excellent and very promising. It had been
3 prepared in secrecy, and I remember us preparing this programme in
5 As a republic, we were prepared to carry a considerable burden
6 because the prices of primary products and those were the dominant
7 products in our -- in the structure of our economy such as, for example,
8 the price of coal and the price of electricity. However, the
9 Federal Executive Council and what was later to be the federal government
10 or, rather, its president or chairman Ante Markovic buckled under the
11 pressure exerted by Slobodan Milosevic for reasons that I believe to have
12 been purely political. This was late in 1990, in March, and -- and he
13 allowed the prices of energy sources to start soaring.
14 The whole thing soon began to be questioned, especially the fixed
15 currency exchange rate. The issue of the economic disintegration, in my
16 opinion, is another fundamental reason apart from other issues such as
17 the never-resolved ethnic issues and other political issues. I believe
18 our economy expert, the economy expert of my Defence team, will devote a
19 lot of his time to talking about these issues.
20 As far as the Executive Council of the Socialist Republic
21 Bosnia and Herzegovina, we were already committed to a European way at
22 the time, and we were ahead of all the other socialist countries at the
23 time. However, it was necessary to effect a number of the important
24 changes. First of all, there needed to be a multi-party system.
25 Secondly, there needed to be a liberalization of our economy, including
1 privatisation of state-owned property. All of this under socially very
2 difficult conditions. What we faced at the time, especially I, was a
3 series of strikes that occurred in this period.
4 The issue of property is something that is important to keep in
5 mind in order, for example, to understand how flats were used, especially
6 those that were believed to be socially owned. Those were often owned by
7 a company, an enterprise, and a flat was then assigned to one of their
8 workers. This is something we must bear in mind when we consider such
9 problems as abandoned flats.
10 There was unity in the Executive Council of Bosnia and
12 federation towards us, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as of October 1990, Bosnia
13 should stop paying contributions into the federal fund was unanimously
14 accepted. All of the Serb members of the Executive Council voted in
15 favour of this decision. The decision was then ratified early in 1991 at
16 a meeting that I chaired. This is Defence document 1D 02226.
17 This was a clear measure to confirm that we were committed to the
18 defence of the interest of the republic and its sovereignty vis-a-vis the
19 dominant role of the federal authorities, but that was a message, too, to
20 the other republics that we were committed to defending the interests of
21 Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is a rather well-known fact that the basic
22 reason for the break-up of Yugoslavia
23 nationalism and the changes that Serbia
24 of its autonomous provinces, Kosovo and Vojvodina, and the Republic of
1 functioning of the federation causing the other republics and other
2 ethnic groups to respond.
3 I recall a meeting of the presidents of the governments of the
4 republics and provinces with the Federal Executive Council in late 1990
5 where the economic policy measures for 1991 were debated. I interrupted
6 the presentation by the Executive Council chairman Ante Markovic telling
7 him that it didn't make any sense unless Serbia agreed to pay back the
8 money, because it had already carried out the monetary coup. It
9 literally stole from all of us several billions of dinars. That was
10 possible in the monetary system of Yugoslavia as it was at the time. The
11 other entities, not only the National Bank of Yugoslavia, could actually
12 issue money.
13 I reaffirmed this view before our council and also in public in
14 early January 1991, again defending the economic interests of Bosnia
16 In 1990 inflation and lack of trust came back, and the elections
17 in the republics and the failure to call the elections at the federal
18 level brought into question not only its functioning but also the
19 operation of the unified economic area.
20 Let me now say something briefly about the 1990 elections and the
21 establishment of the new concept of power and government.
22 When the law on citizens' associations was amended, new parties
23 could be set up, but any attempts to organise on ethnic basis was
24 prohibited. That was the position taken by the Executive Council, but we
25 had to amend that because the Constitutional Court forced us to revise
1 this decision. This decision can be found in document 1D 01615. It is
2 important, because it shows the debate that -- before the constitutional
3 court which is indicative of the essence of the conflict about the
4 constitutional system in the country.
5 Since according to the indictment the HDZ is part of the alleged
6 joint criminal enterprise, it is interesting to note that in our view the
7 HDZ was the loudest advocate of the sovereignty of Bosnia and
9 platform, it stressed that it favoured the mutual understanding and
10 co-existence of Croats, Muslims, and Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina
11 other ethnic communities, and it is also in favour of Bosnia and
13 At the elections in November 1990, the national parties won.
14 They were all part of a coalition that aimed to fight against Communism,
15 but in my view Communism had already defeated itself. Apart from the
16 three national parties, the two parties that garnered the most votes were
17 former Communist, the SDP, the reformists, a party led by Ante Markovic,
18 the Federal Executive Council chairman. Those were parties that operated
19 on the broader region -- in the broader region, not only Bosnia and
21 I didn't want to take part in the elections. I did what I had
22 announced I would do in early 1990. Those who came to power, in light of
23 their position and the fact that they had access to the media should not
24 participate in the elections, but it was our task to create the most
25 favourable conditions possible to ensure that after more than half a
1 century the first elections could be as democratic and as free as
3 I wanted to go back to Mostar, because I had already been
4 appointed the CEO of Apro Herzegovina
5 relatives, and my wife's family. I would like to share my personal view
6 with you.
7 I believed that Yugoslavia
8 different basis, but the Serbian political leadership did not like that.
9 At the time when I was politically active, Yugoslavia was unlike the
10 other socialist countries. There was freedom of movement. There was
11 freedom of speech. Economic liberalism was growing.
12 Since I was a member of a number of cabinets, more than 14 in my
13 time, I can say that the deputies in the Assembly at that time were much
14 more demanding than was the case after the multi-party system was
16 We did the hand-over of the executive power to the new
17 government, to Mr. Pelivan in early 1991. I believe that Mr. Pelivan
18 will appear in this court and to testify. But the new government did not
19 rule in accordance with the rule of law but applying the principles of
20 ethnic division, tripartite ethnic division in all the functions and at
21 all levels. The result was a complete atrophy of the economic and
22 political system.
23 I will not be talking about the break-up of Yugoslavia. It's
24 been dealt with before. The first war that resulted was the one in
1 I think at that for the purpose of this trial it is enough to
2 look at the minutes of the highest bodies in Bosnia and Herzegovina
3 have for the most part been tendered into evidence by the Prosecution.
4 Aid is organised by Croatia
6 I was in Mostar. I was still the CEO of Apro Holding. I taught
7 at the faculty, and I took part in drafting a number of studies related
8 to the transformation of the economic system in Bosnia and Herzegovina
9 We had the whole of Yugoslavia
10 operating both in Zagreb
11 The demands made at the HDZ meetings, you can see that from the
12 minutes that were made public and were published by the media. So the
13 demands are made to stop using the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina
14 launch attacks on Croatia
15 acquiescence of the people in the government, but the perception that
16 existed was that the republic was not doing anything or was not doing
17 enough to prevent the aggression against Croatia from the BiH territory.
18 Bosnia and Herzegovina was no longer neutral. It became a participant in
19 this war, all the more so because the Territorial Defence units from that
20 republic participated in this war, those recruited from areas with a
21 Serbian majority, of course.
22 We can still hear the words of Alija Izetbegovic: "This is not
23 our war." Regardless of the context in which this statement was made, it
24 marked the tacit approval for Bosnia and Herzegovina to be used as a base
25 to launch attacks on Croatia
1 As we heard in the testimony by Stjepan Kljuic in this courtroom,
2 the transcript is at page 4017 and 4021, the ostensible neutrality of
3 Izetbegovic in the war in Croatia
4 consulting the legal organs of Bosnia and Herzegovina contrary to the
5 constitutional obligations.
6 As the president of this provisional government organisation the
7 HVO, I couldn't make any decisions independently. I could only make
8 decisions within the framework of this collective body. The same thing
9 went for Izetbegovic or for anybody else who was part of this collective
11 So these were all the topics that were discussed in the media at
12 the time, and it was widely debated by all of us.
13 Throughout this trial it is very important to take into account
14 the context. For instance, Croats feared that an agreement would be
15 reached by Serbs and Muslims. The war in Croatia had already affected
16 areas with a Croatian majority, particularly in the western and
17 north-western areas and in Ravno, a village in Herzegovina. When the JNA
18 and the paramilitary forces launched an action, the forces that in
19 September occupied Herzegovina
20 response of the authorities was very mild and not specific enough.
21 The documents from the sessions of the BiH HDZ that I was not
22 aware at the time except for the information that was published in the
23 media, this was not something that I was aware of at the time when I was
24 interviewed by the Prosecution, very clearly shows what the Croatian --
25 Croat politicians were doing at that time and how the Croatian
1 communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina came to be established, eight of
2 them with some 80 municipalities, the -- those who went on to become the
3 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna. The objectives were quite different
4 to those that are being imputed in the indictment.
5 Those minutes point the way as we tried to find an answer how
6 those communities actually functioned. And here I would like to refer
7 Your Honours to Prosecution Exhibits 41, 47, 50, 58, 60.
8 The HDZ Presidency at its session of the 26th of August denounces
9 the using of the territory of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina for
10 launching of terrorist attacks by the military and the volunteers against
11 the Republic of Croatia
12 At the same time, the state organs in the republic is slowly
13 ceasing to function. The divisions, the rifts become ever deeper. By
14 mid-1991, the representatives of the government in Sarajevo
15 they no longer control the situation in the whole territory. This was a
16 fact that was general knowledge.
17 I'm presenting this because the Prosecution has failed to show
18 the context that would make it possible to understand what is actually
19 going on. This was presented -- the picture that was presented by
20 Mr. Tomljanovich was quite biased. I am aware, Your Honours, that you do
21 not want to dwell on details from the past and you're right, but we have
22 to follow the injunction by historian Huising that we have to view all
23 the events and all the statements in order to be able to see what options
24 were available at any given time. This is the only correct approach that
25 this Chamber should adopt in evaluating all the evidence, including the
1 presidential transcripts that I will now very briefly mention.
2 I participated at a certain number of talks with
3 President Tudjman, once in 1992 in September, twice in 1993 in November.
4 For the most part those meetings took place after the period relevant for
5 the indictment.
6 I was not aware of the fact those talks were being taped. There
7 are, of course, parts of those conversations that are inaccurate. In
8 some cases the speakers are misidentified or are not identified at all.
9 Those transcripts make interesting reading for historians, of course, but
10 also for anyone who wants to study the context.
11 Tudjman was a historian, and he wanted to keep a record of
12 everything he was doing and everything he was talking about. Opinions as
13 to the method he applied differ.
14 We now have excerpts from those conversations in front of us,
15 before the court, a criminal court. For the Prosecution, they prove that
16 there was a joint criminal enterprise. As far as my defence is
17 concerned, they prove that there was no joint criminal enterprise.
18 Transcripts cannot be used from the position of hindsight and in attempt
19 to fit them into some kind of narrative or by performing selective cut
20 and paste. We have to look at them in the context of at least two
21 elements, the situation in the field at the time and the international
22 negotiations that were going on at the time.
23 In its decision on motion under Rule 98 bis, the Chamber mentions
24 that it is said in P6454, dated the 5th of November, 1993, that Mostar
25 had all assets to be the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina
1 this was envisaged by the international plan about the union of the three
2 republics that was being negotiated under the auspices of the UN and the
3 European Community. The last witness in the Prosecution case brought
4 with him documents indicating that the Muslim party was ready to accept
5 Mostar as the capital of Herceg-Bosna, one of the three republics in the
6 union of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
7 Tudjman was aware, or at least this is what we can see from the
8 transcripts, that the international community would play the decisive
9 role in this crisis. He was also aware of the fact that the basic
10 factors in the crisis -- generating the crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina
11 were Serbs and Muslims, not Croats, and that is why maintaining their
12 position as the population with the smallest number was the most complex
14 The transcripts show several constant elements. Even when the
15 attacks of the BH army on Croats and the HVO were at their fiercest,
16 Tudjman still advocated full cooperation with the Muslims. He also
17 signed a secret agreement with Izetbegovic on confederation, but on the
18 16th of September, 1993, Izetbegovic in turn signs an agreement with the
19 Serbs allowing them to leave Bosnia and Herzegovina two years later,
20 provided that the Muslim republic gains [Realtime transcript read in
21 error "against"] the international recognition in accordance with the
22 proposal of the Republic of Bosnia
23 to see in the course of this trial.
24 In reading all the transcripts, I could see that the constant
25 element in Tudjman's talks was to stop the war at any cost. The defence
1 of the fundamental rights of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a
2 following element which is a constant.
3 JUDGE PRANDLER: I'm sorry to interrupt you. Since your
4 statement is of course for me at least a very important one, I would like
5 to say that there is an important mistake in the transcript in -- in
6 page -- sorry, 15, I believe, that it says that the -- provided that the
7 Muslim republic against the international recognition. You said that the
8 Muslim republic gains the international recognition in accordance with
9 the proposal of the Republic of Bosnia
10 make a comment here that since you -- you would like to finish, of
11 course, in time, you are talking a bit quickly, and it is important that
12 the transcript should be a correct one, and therefore I would advise you
13 to slow down a bit for -- for the translation. Thank you.
14 THE ACCUSED PRLIC: Thank you, Judge Prandler, for the --
15 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone for the speaker, please.
16 THE ACCUSED PRLIC: I said that those agreement allow Serbian
17 Republic to live and that in national recognition would remain on Muslim
18 republic or Bosnia
19 case. Thank you.
20 [Interpretation] The Defence of the fundamental rights of Croats
21 in Bosnia-Herzegovina was the next element, and most convincingly, the
22 most important element that pervades -- pervaded all of the conversations
23 was to ensure the territorial and legal sovereignty of Croatia
24 internationally-recognised borders and obviously the protection of these
1 In 1994, the Joint Command of the HVO and the BiH army took off
2 the ground, and in cooperation with the modernised Croatian army,
3 conditions were put in place for the Dayton Accords to be signed once the
4 largest part of Bosnia and Herzegovina was freed, and I witnessed those
5 events as the minister of defence of the Republic of Bosnia
7 the transcripts, and I'm sure that the Defence witnesses, including
8 Miomir Zuzul and Mile Akmadzic, will certainly speak about these
10 In an interview which is the Prosecution Exhibit 9078, I said
11 that an important project of both Croats and Muslims in Herzegovina
12 emotionally was to join these parts to -- with Croatia after Yugoslavia
13 was dissolved. The opinions of Croats have not changed in the meantime
14 according to many polls. The state borders that established Bosnia
16 centuries living in the same state.
17 In the meantime, the differences in the standards became deeper
18 after the dissolution of Yugoslavia
19 development of the Republic of Croatia
20 in the first half of 1992 completely skipped in the Prosecution case.
21 One should say only briefly that Bosnia and Herzegovina was recognised as
22 an independent state owing to primarily the support of the HDZ to Bosnia
23 and Herzegovina
24 The available documentation points to the fact that the
25 international community basically had two pre-conditions in order to
1 recognise Bosnia and Herzegovina. The first one was to the hold a
2 referendum which was requested by Badinter's commission. Another
3 condition was an agreement on the internal regulation of a relationship
4 within Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is proved by a joint American and
5 European Community declaration under recognition of Yugoslav republics
6 dated 10 March 1992
7 This Trial Chamber is already familiar with the statement on the
8 principle of the constitutional organisation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
9 dated 18 March, which was adopted by the three sides or the three peoples
10 living in the state. The witnesses will speak about these principles,
11 i.e., they will say that constitutional units have the right, and I
12 quote: "To pass regulations and manage the issues of importance for
13 constitutional units such as the administration of services and officers
14 of these units, the expropriation of property for public use, the
15 cadaster, the protection from fire, Chambers of commerce, companies,
16 savings houses and credit institutions. Furthermore, social protection,
17 education, police, trade."
18 Every constitutional unit has the right to maintain relationships
19 with others and organise their own institutions. That is why a series of
20 negotiations took place under the auspices of the European Union, and the
21 Portuguese diplomat Jose Cutileiro was engaged all with a view to
22 arriving at a mutually-adopted principles of the future organisation of
23 Bosnia and Herzegovina before the formal recognition of Bosnia
25 What I'm saying is this: Since I was a member of the government
1 prior to these events, that in Bosnia
3 different peoples, because that part of the care was in the hands of the
4 Communist Party, and the Communist Party was the one that guaranteed the
5 rights to all the different peoples, and there were no articles in the
6 constitution of either Yugoslavia
7 guarantee those rights.
8 This information that those were two pre-conditions for
9 recognition of Bosnia-Herzegovina is corroborated by documents, by
10 witness statements, as well as my information that I had at the time and
11 the contacts that I had in the United States of America at the time. All
12 the proposals of constitutional solutions for Bosnia and Herzegovina
13 proposed during international conferences started from the qualification
14 of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a union of peoples. Within the context of
15 peace talks, let me just announce my defence will deal with the issue of
16 the alleged agreement in Graz
17 of Bosnia and Herzegovina that this Trial Chamber mentions in the
18 decision pursuant to Rule 98 bis, transcript page 28215.
19 The witnesses and the evidence will show that this meeting was
20 held on the recommendation of international mediators. Nothing was
21 agreed at that meeting. On the contrary, the Croatian side offered to
22 the others that all the sticking issues should be resolved by an
23 international arbitration. A similar meeting was held between Croats and
24 Muslims within the same week in Split
25 In addition to numerous newspaper articles, I will also present
1 evidence Prosecution number 9526 and 1D 00525. I'm using the word
2 "Muslims" rather than the word "Bosniaks," because the word "Bosniak" was
3 adopted when the constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina
4 March 1994, so when using the word "Muslim" I am not implying anything.
5 I'm just trying to put things straight.
6 The available documentation shows that both Croatian communities
7 that were established, both Herceg-Bosna and Bosnian Posavina in November
8 1991, were dormant, were not active until the general attack of the JNA
9 and the Serb formations in March and particularly at the beginning of
10 April 1992 after the international recognition of Bosnia and Herzegovina
11 The decision on the establishment of the Croatian Defence Council
12 as a defence army was passed on the 8th of April 1992. At that time, as
13 Mr. Tomljanovich, a member of the OTP, there was no army of Bosnia
15 Mate Boban signed this decision as the president of the HVO and
16 the HZ HB. He himself explained to the general public the reasons why
17 the army had been established, and he emphasised that the process leading
18 to the establishment of the Crisis Staffs in the municipalities and their
19 regional linking had led to the establishment of the HVO staff. Talking
20 about the relationship with the other armed forces that were defending
21 the country, he said, "We expect the continuation of the negotiations on
22 the constitutional order of the -- of Bosnia-Herzegovina. At the moment
23 when we're sure that the constitutional order as envisaged by the general
24 principles on -- of the conference of BiH will become a fact, that's when
25 we can start negotiation -- negotiations with the other forces in BH."
1 This is P 157.
2 In his book, the Prosecution witness Cupina on page 160 says that
3 before the HVO was established Boban -- Boban had proposed in Sarajevo
4 that a decision should be reached about the establishment of the
5 Croatian-Muslim or Muslim-Croatian Defence council. Obviously, this was
6 not accepted by the Sarajevo
7 have heard from the -- Stjepan Kljuic, the head of the BH army, admitted
8 themselves that they could not do much about the defence of the state.
9 Before the formal establishment of the HVO as an army on the 8th
10 of April, across Bosnia and Herzegovina a network of smaller or bigger
11 units had been established, and these units had already been engaged in
12 defence activities. Obviously I did not have that information at the
14 When the first military to defend Bosnia and Herzegovina
15 established, in paragraph 25 of this indictment, the Prosecution thinks
16 that this was the first step in the joint criminal enterprise. The
17 members of these -- of the -- this military enjoy the same status as the
18 members of the other component of the army, the BiH army, in the free
19 territory of that state. They still enjoy the same benefits and received
20 the same remuneration from the state as invalids. They have been
21 decorated, and they enjoy the same rights in the privatisation of social
23 If you follow the context of the establishment of the Croatian
24 Community and the Presidency as its principle body of administration,
25 then one can see that eight months after the establishment one can notice
1 a change in the decision on the establishment that was included on the
2 3rd of July, 1992. The Presidency became the legal body of the HZ HB and
3 incorporated members such as the municipal presidents of the HVO, and I
4 could witness that at the session on the 14th of August.
5 When I looked at that decision, and not only that one but also
6 others that were published in Official Gazettes number 1 and 2, my first
7 impression was rather disappointing, primarily with regard to their legal
8 quality and regulation as a whole. To be honest, these -- this was more
9 an improvisation than an announcement of a more serious enterprise.
10 The amendment, Article 8, envisaged that the presidents --
11 Presidency would establish the executive and the legislative parts of the
12 body. We cannot look at that without any context what actually happened
13 within the eight months leading to that period.
14 What happened was this: First of all, war in Croatia was at a
16 Second of all, there was no clear outline as to the future
17 organisation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
18 Third of all, there had been a series of talks under the auspices
19 of the Croatian -- European Community, and the principles were adopted
20 from Cutileiro's plan dated 18 March about the future organisation of
21 Bosnia and Herzegovina.
22 Fourthly, Bosnia and Herzegovina, owing to the support of Croats
23 and the HDZ, had been recognised internationally after the referendum.
24 Fifthly, the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina was waging in all
25 parts of the country, and as was pointed out in the decision on martial
1 law which was passed on the 20th of June, 1992, by the Presidency of
2 Bosnia and Herzegovina, by that time 70 per cent of the territory had
3 been occupied by the Serbs and the non-Serb population had been expelled.
4 Sixthly, the Assembly of the Socialist Republic
6 of January when a decision was passed to hold the referendum, and the
7 government of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was no
8 longer functioning, and it did not have any influence outside Sarajevo
9 virtually no influence because Sarajevo
10 several witnesses have already spoken about that.
11 Seventh, municipalities adopted a majority of the functions of
12 the former Yugoslav federal government, which imposed a need to
13 coordinate their activities, and I will speak about that briefly in --
15 HVO had already defended significant parts of Bosnia and
17 Central Bosnia
18 And the ninth thing that I would like to mention, there was a
19 more pronounced lack of willingness to give the HVO an equal status as an
20 armed unit in the defense of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The witnesses and
21 evidence will speak about that.
22 The very independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina
23 enormous effort in terms of passing new regulations and taking over the
24 functions formerly held by Yugoslavia
25 happened apart from a formal hand-over in terms of certain laws simply
1 because the administration at the time did not allow for anything like
2 that to be adopted, the entire system simply collapsed in all its key
3 features. This particularly applies to the financial system. There was
4 a shortage of currency in the country's economy. As soon as April, bills
5 stopped being paid, especially those that used to be covered by
6 republican funds.
7 I for one can say that the republic of Herceg-Bosna
8 a formal constitution severing its links with Bosnia and Herzegovina
9 never adopted a statute to begin with which would have been a
10 precondition for registering this new country or indeed any form of
11 citizens' association, bird-watchers, music lovers, what have you. It
12 always respected its own sovereignty. Whenever the name was used, HZ HB,
13 we would always highlight the name of which it was a part, the Republic
14 of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
15 What I'm trying to say it this, and this might be the key message
16 of this introduction, is that the implementation and preservation of the
17 constitutional order of Bosnia and Herzegovina did not go down the chain
18 of the state authorities because that never actually worked. Rather, it
19 was a grassroots phenomenon. The existing communal system was
20 strengthened and so were the institutions and powers of certain
21 municipalities that were part of the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna,
22 the objective being to meet the constitutional obligations of each and
23 every citizen and each and every municipality across the country, this
24 being the defence of the country.
25 In the summer of 1992, when the municipalities took over most of
1 the attributes of the state, there was a need for coordination in their
2 work. That's what we were told at the time, and that, too, was my
3 interpretation. This led to the establishment of a provisional body of
4 government. I will try to briefly explain what it was like, how it
5 worked, who the members were, what it succeeded in doing at least in
6 part, what it was responsible for, and what it was not responsible for.
7 The first statutory decision on the setting up of the executive
8 was adopted on the 15th of May. However, it took over a year to organise
9 and properly set up this body, and this is shown by the decision on the
10 nomination and establishment published by the Official Gazette. In some
11 OTP documents, we see that this statutory decision mentioned a lot the
12 one of the 15th of May, but they omitted one particular provision.
13 Article 2 reads, and I quote: "The president of the HZ HB is the
14 president of the HVO." The ERN number for this document is 006889378938.
15 In the indictment, the Prosecutor defines the HVO as the one
16 major defence body and body of the executive, although these are two
17 entirely different bodies and terms. Even the most perfunctory look at
18 both of these statutory decisions. The 15th of May one and the 3rd of
19 July one defines the HVO as the body of executive government and
20 administration throughout the HZ HB, which at the very outset tells us
21 this is an entirely new body in relation to the HVO as an armed force,
22 and this is something that I had mentioned when speaking about the
23 decision to set up the HVO dated the 8th of April, 1992.
24 The statutory decision tells us that the HVO of the HZ HB is a
25 provisional body which will continue to perform its function until proper
1 executive authorities are set up, which leaves perfectly clear that this
2 was a provisional body. It also tells us that members of the HVO, this
3 provisional body of executive government, were jointly responsible for
4 any decisions taken by the Croatian Defence Council, and each of those
5 members are personally responsible for their own areas of work. This
6 was, after all, the conclusion drawn also by Professor Ribicic at 14333
7 of the transcript in the Blaskic case. [In English] "The HVO as a whole
8 and every individual member of the HVO accountable for the work to the
9 Presidency of the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna."
10 [Interpretation] The taking over of certain functions was a
11 matter of necessity. This was needed in order to overcome the growing
12 chaos. The links to the existing government in Sarajevo were essential.
13 It was precisely the representatives of the HDZ in that government. The
14 country that set up the HZ HB lent legitimacy to those bodies, and that
15 sort of legitimacy was necessary for Bosnia and Herzegovina to be able to
16 continue to function as internationally-recognised subjects to begin
18 The first statutory decision actually creates the possibility for
19 a president of the HZ HB. The president remains the president of the
20 Presidency of the HZ HB. He's in charge of the army and the executive.
21 He signs all decisions in his capacity as the president of the HZ HB and
22 the president of the HVO.
23 Furthermore, it is necessary to point out that this division of
24 power at the level of the Presidency of the HZ HB, a body where the
25 mayors of all the municipalities that are represented, the basic
1 intention was to stay within the bounds of the constitution of the
2 republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
3 There was no division of power which, after all, was typical of
4 the entire Yugoslav system based, as it was, on the unity of power.
5 Here, we encounter a rudimentary form of power, and we cannot talk of
6 division but rather of distribution of power. The system being what it
7 was and being as provisional as it was, the Presidency of the HZ HB was
8 the legislative body, and the HVO was a provisional body of the civilian
9 government which on the 14th of August, 1992, in an operational sense
10 became the civilian executive body. The Presidency of the HZ HB is at
11 the apex. Power streams down from them to the municipalities, which then
12 coordinate all joint activities. A link is thus established between the
13 sections and the Presidencies where presidents of the municipal HVO
14 branches are represented.
15 That is my understanding of these documents, documents that were
16 poor from a legal standpoint, yet they are useful for us to describe how
17 the bodies actually worked in reality. One thing that is not defined,
18 for example, are the tasks and powers of this provisional executive
19 organ, the HVO, which had been the case before with the executive boards
20 of the municipal assemblies or, rather, the Executive Board of Bosnia and
22 At the close of my presentation, I will be addressing documents
23 adopted by the Presidency, by the HVO, the HZ HB, in the light of Article
24 17 -- count 17 of the indictment. However, it is important to point out
25 as early as now that the legislation -- a look at the legislation at the
1 very outset tells us that only minimal changes were introduced of the
2 existing republican legislation, and this was needed for the regulations
3 to be applied at all. All this legislation containing thousands of laws
4 continue to apply. Changes were only introduced to some of those because
5 that was the only way they could have made sense. For example, this was
6 necessary in order to have the criminal provisions in a situation where
7 there was no domestic currency and none to be used. The Presidency then
8 adopted a decision to set up public enterprises, public companies as
9 early as July 1992, but they weren't set up before later on. The railway
10 system and the roads in 1993, the radio in March 1993.
11 If we read the indictment, we see that the Presidency of the
12 HZ HB made two decisions on taking over JNA and SSNO property, SSNO
13 meaning Federal Secretariat for All People's Defence. Prior to those
14 decisions, however, most of the municipalities had adopted these very
15 same decisions.
16 Talking of property and particularly various views on how
17 abandoned flats were to be used, a particular example of discrimination
18 in this field would be the way this was dealt with by the federal
20 Jablanica municipality, for example, seized not just the money of
21 the occupiers but also of all the users from municipal territory. The
22 JNA facilities were taken over by Tuzla
23 Travnik municipality and Mostar municipality. Three months after this
24 same decision adopted, as well, by its own municipal president, Livno
25 took the same decision to seize and requisition the property of the
1 occupying force for municipal purposes. It is quite obvious that the
2 municipalities had the -- the requisite power, and the decision taken by
3 the HZ HB was an attempt to coordinate.
4 Now for a brief digression about my job back in 1992, having been
5 appointed president of the HVO HZ HB on the 14th of August.
6 When the war in Croatia
7 economy were facing increasing problems. Road traffic was being
8 disrupted, and the situation was becoming more and more difficult. I
9 didn't know most of the people in the HDZ at the time, but I tried to
10 stay in touch with people in the republican government. This was, after
11 all, part of my job as the CO of a cooperation with 14 major shareholders
12 and about 4.000 employees. I do believe that the Honourable Chamber will
13 be receiving documentation on the company that I was running at the time.
14 As I had announced -- as I have announced already, 1990, my
15 commitment was to an independent Bosnia-Herzegovina. Early 1992, I said
16 this loud and clear in a special TV show on TV Sarajevo. This is 1D
17 02074. It's part of the evidence in this case already.
18 The position that I put forward at the time was crystal clear.
19 In order to survive, Bosnia and Herzegovina must be both as near as
20 possible and as far as possible from Serbia and Croatia
21 have symmetric relations with these two. I had a historic opportunity
22 eight years later after a series of interstate agreements with Croatia
23 endorse this with my own signature in Belgrade. This was about the
24 diplomatic relations between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia
25 finally re-established this new order in our part of the world.
1 Jure Pelivan, who was prime minister at the time and I believe is
2 due to appear in this courtroom, asked me to agree for him to appoint me
3 national governor of Bosnia and Herzegovina's republic bank. Early in
4 1991 I accepted this, but only in a very provisional basis and only in
5 order to be the one to issue the first currency ever used in this new
6 Bosnia and Herzegovina. It had become clear to me that without being
7 successful in protecting our sovereignty in terms of our currency, any
8 other objective in terms of our economy would have been lost.
9 I followed the procedure of the Assembly and saw the need to act
10 urgently. Therefore, I embarked on this project as soon as possible. I
11 even made a visit to Croatia
12 myself with the procedures that they used when they first -- first
13 started issuing their own money.
14 I can say that I had the project ready by now. I had talked to
15 people from the commission of the Assembly of the federal Republic of
16 Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, Muharem Cero, the chairman of that
17 commission told me just before the vote in the Assembly told me that a
18 telegram had arrived that the consensus to go ahead with my appointment
19 had be withdrawn. I was to learn later on that someone back in Mostar's
20 HDZ was not happy with my appointment. The currency was never issued and
21 as the months to follow were to show, the whole economy collapsed.
22 MR. KARNAVAS: Perhaps this would be a good place to take a
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, you're right. We've been
25 sitting for an hour and a half. We're going to break for 20 minutes.
1 --- Recess taken at 3.42 p.m.
2 --- On resuming at 4.11 p.m.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The hearing's resumed.
4 Mr. Prlic, you have the floor.
5 THE ACCUSED PRLIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President and
6 Your Honours.
7 In early March, after the referendum was held and without having
8 any inkling that the situation could escalate, I went to the USA. I was
9 invited by the American government through Ambassador Warren Zimmermann
10 to participate in a study trip. The theme was market economy, US
11 approach. That's where I met the first US ambassador to BiH.
12 I came back from the USA
13 have stayed there. I could have now been an expert had I stayed in
15 I came to Mostar after a couple of days, sometime around the 10th
16 of April, 1992, after a long trip by way of Belgrade where I landed from
17 New York
18 played their last Premiership game in Yugoslavia as it existed at the
19 time, in Subotica
20 I approached Mostar from the eastern side and I saw the cannon
21 batteries shelling Mostar. My family had already left town and my eldest
22 daughter stopped attending school. The school was no longer opened. I
23 tried to salvage at least some of the production lines in the holding
25 Mostar was completely besieged and it was shelled all the time.
1 I was a member of the Territorial Defence Staff before the war. That was
2 my wartime assignment. All conscripts had those assignments. I reported
3 on duty, but it did not function. The Territorial Defence itself broke
4 down as had all other state institutions.
5 Neven Tomic put me in contact with the HVO. The HVO had already
6 set up its units. I became a volunteer. I was issued a uniform and a
7 rifle. We were committed to defending the town where I had gone through
8 everything. This is where I went to school. This is where I fell in
9 love. This is where I had my friends, my family, my job, my university.
10 I was really thankful to the people who had realised that there would be
11 war and who had prepared for it. I didn't know that that would come to
13 Somebody bought this uniform. He gave money for this uniform and
14 the rifle. The uniforms and the rifles that we paid by making
15 contributions from our salaries were now in the possession of the JNA
16 that had positions in the hills around the town.
17 After that, as a member of the HVO, of the military, I was
18 appointed to the council for special purposes. That was Puljic [Realtime
19 transcript read in error, "Pusic"] and Tomic's idea. It was a group of
20 younger people mostly with a business background, managers from
21 well-known companies who wanted to use the means that still remained in
22 those companies and to put their business connections outside of Bosnia
23 and Herzegovina
24 life. It was obvious that there was no executive government in the town,
25 and all of us expected that once the government was set up we had great
1 expectations from this government. The government was set up by the two
2 parties that had won in the elections, the SDA and the HDZ.
3 Things did improve. The new authorities wanted us to submit
4 reports. I submitted one such report in June when the HVO liberated
5 Mostar about the situation in the Apro Herzegovina companies. The
6 document number is 1D 02390. At that time, nobody received any salaries.
7 We heard that some remuneration was handed out in some municipalities, in
8 particular to soldiers.
9 Check-points were set up at the municipality borders. In
10 addition to controlling passengers, the trade was also controlled.
11 The most accurate characterisation would be that every
12 municipality assume the functions from the other levels of government
13 that existed in the former Yugoslavia
14 and this resulted in an even greater chaos. There was this need to
15 coordinate their work because the government in Sarajevo simply did not
16 have any influence over what was going on in the field. This was
17 confirmed through my contacts with the people I knew who were in the
18 government. Sometime up until mid-May it was still possible to remain in
19 telephone contact with Sarajevo
20 The agreement on the friendship and cooperation between Bosnia
21 and Croatia
22 that there were no controversial issues between Muslims and Croats.
23 That's the way I and my friends understood it. The HVO was accepted as
24 an armed force on an equal footing, and the civilian authorities were
25 supposed to be brought in line with the internal organisation of Bosnia
1 and Herzegovina
2 constituent units. That's Prosecution Exhibit P 339.
3 As I explained in my interview, at the second meeting with Boban
4 in the summer of 1992, and I have to note here that I had not known Boban
5 before the war, I was offered to do the thing that I could do best, where
6 I could make the biggest contribution, to try and set up some kind of
7 coordination with the municipalities and the government of the republic
8 in order to prevent the growing chaos in the organisation of the civilian
9 life in the society.
10 I accepted this task to assist in coordinating certain measures
11 to be taken by the municipalities in order to establish the unified
12 economic area. Each and every patriot would do the same. We were
13 brought up in the system of All Peoples Defence where everybody was
14 supposed to make their contribution within one's abilities. Legally,
15 this obligation applied to everyone between the ages of 16 and 60, but
16 even younger people were supposed to contribute. We were all brought up
17 with the idea that we should do that to defend our country.
18 Boban was quite clear. He told me, "Do whatever you can do in
19 the civilian area," but as I've pointed out in the interview, he said,
20 "You have nothing to do with the military and the police." And he kept
21 his word.
22 In the Official Gazette and in the minutes from the session of
23 the HZ HB Presidency of the 14th of August, my appointment as the head of
24 the finance department is mentioned. The date is the 15th of May, 1992.
25 As I said in the interview, I was told about that immediately
1 before the session, the session where I was appointed the presidents --
2 the president, so that I never did perform this function at all. There
3 are Defence exhibits that will prove that, but generally speaking, when I
4 assume a post I tend to leave my mark.
5 So from the 14th of August onwards, it is possible to follow how
6 the provisional executive government functioned and what my role was.
7 The nature and the contents of the HVO HZ HB that I described as
8 provisional in my interview to the Prosecution, and noting that it
9 operated within the framework of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina
10 was defined by certain documents, the statutory decision on the
11 provisional structure of the executive government and administration.
12 That's a document of the 3rd of July. The amendments are contained in
13 document P 00684, and special emphasis should be placed on Articles 20
14 and 22.
15 The second is the decree on the structuring and purview of
16 departments and commissions. That's Exhibit 1D 00001, Articles 30
17 through 37.
18 The third is the Rules Of Procedure of the HVO HZ HB, Prosecution
19 Exhibit P 09539, and in particular, the work as reflected in the minutes
20 of the sessions of the HVO HZ HB, they have all been admitted into
21 evidence as Prosecution exhibits, although unfortunately no witness was
22 called to actually talk about them.
23 The fifth reference are issues of the Official Gazette of the
24 HZ HB which show in a completely transparent manner what HVO HZ HB
25 actually did but also what it did not do.
1 I would like to say first of all that this organ was a collective
2 organ. It was set up eight months after my appointment, cannot be
3 considered a cabinet, a government, either de jure or de facto, contrary
4 to what Prosecution witness Tomljanovich claimed.
5 In our area the term "government" does not appear before the
6 '90s. Before that you had Executive Boards or councils of the assemblies
7 or secretariats and ministers, but the Assembly was the key organ because
8 there was no division of government. The term "prime minister" appears
9 for the first time in the federation constitution of 1994. This
10 constitution was drafted under the US auspices. So in our region we had
11 never had a political system that would be based on the role of the prime
12 minister such as, for instance, is the case in the United Kingdom, so
13 that this constant stressing of the term "prime minister" does not have
14 any basis, either formally or in any kind of essence.
15 The body that I was a member of did its work in sessions and this
16 was based on the rules of -- Rules of Procedure. This was based on the
17 statutory decision on the provisional structure of the executive
18 government. In Article 16 it is stated: "The HVO shall operate in
19 sessions." And in paragraph 4 of the same article it is indicated that
20 the HVO shall determine in greater detail its internal structure and
21 other issues in its Rules of Procedure. So the only form in which HVO
22 HZ HB was active was by having those sessions. Defence witnesses will
23 show that this manner of functioning of the executive organs in the
24 administration organs was actually taken over from the existing system of
25 state administration in the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina
1 and the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and municipalities operated
2 according to the same principle, for instance, Tuzla, Siroki Brijeg, or
3 the Executive Board of the Mostar municipality while I was the president
4 in 1998. We will be tendering those documents.
5 The fact that this was a typical document of this kind, Rules of
6 Procedure regulating the work of a collective organ is confirmed by the
7 Rules of Procedure on the work of the Presidency of the HZ HB, which is
8 identical in the way it regulates the work mutatis mutandis. Of course
9 the word HVO -- the acronym HVO is replaced by the Presidency of the
10 HZ HB and the bodies of the HVO become members of the HZ HB Presidency.
11 Speaking about the Rules of Procedure I would like to add that
12 the provisional organ of the executive government never set up its work
13 programme which would be obligatory for its departments and
14 sub-departments. Only obligations towards the collective organ were
15 determined. The bodies had their own independent programmes. So a
16 document that would be entitled, The Programme of Activities of the HVO
17 HZ HB does not exist. We did not pass such a document because we merely
18 responded to situations. We did not have any initiative. We didn't
19 manage anything. The first work programme was drafted by the government
20 of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna. It was adopted by the House of
21 Representatives of the HR HB in 1994, and this is a completely different
23 The role of the president in the executive government organ is
24 identical to that of any president in any collective organ including the
25 parliament. This person is supposed to prepare and chair the sessions,
1 has only one vote, as do all the other members. In urgent cases
2 decisions can be made on the basis of individual opinions stated by HVO
3 members without them being discussed at the session, but at the first
4 following session the contents of the decision are adopted for the
6 The documents that are published in Official Gazette indicate
7 that in the initial period Mate Boban did have right of sovereignty and
8 did pass regulations and other documents even when there was no clear
9 legal basis signing the decrees as "the president," the president of the
10 HZ HB or both, the president of the HVO and the HZ HB.
11 It arises from these short remarks, first of all, the HVO as an
12 armed force was established on the 8th of April, 1992. Its mission was
13 clear, and I quote: "To look after the defence of the Croatian people as
14 well as of all the other peoples in the community when they come under
15 attack by anybody," which points to the fact that this was exclusively a
16 military organisation.
17 The second HVO, which was charged with executive power by a
18 statutory decision issued on the 15th of May was a formally new body, and
19 that's why I quote the HVO is established, is used. At that time the HVO
20 was both the executive and the administrative power of the HZ HVO with
21 original authority and the pronounced powers of the presidents, and this
22 HVO existed up to the 14th of August, 1992. After the 14th of August,
23 1992, the HVO HZ HB lost some of its authorities and competencies and
24 there was no significant influence of the president. We can arrive at
25 this conclusion if we compare the original statutory decision on the
1 interim organisation of power and the subsequent amendments and
2 supplements in Article 18 as well as with the corresponding provisions of
3 the book of rules of the work of the HVO and other fundamental documents
4 that were issued after the 14th of August, 1992.
5 This Trial Chamber has been informed that a possibility was given
6 to adopt documents from the purview of the Presidency of the HZ HB in
7 situations that did not allow for procrastination, which means that under
8 the circumstances of war or exceptional situation it could adopt
9 documents from its competencies, but that body at the following session
10 of the legislative body had to confirm those decisions, and this is
11 something that Professor Ivetic has spoken about before this
12 Trial Chamber.
13 Obviously, all the decisions that were based on the
14 aforementioned authority and which were passed pursuant to that authority
15 were actually the decisions of the Presidency of the HVO HZ HB.
16 Now this is about de jure, and now on to the facts.
17 After the 14th of August, the newly appointed minister of
18 finances and I returned to Mostar in my car that was later on seized by a
19 brigade. We did not have any room to work in. We did not have any
20 equipment. We did not have any staff, and we did not have any clear
21 guidelines to govern us in our activity.
22 We sat ourselves down at two computers and we started preparing
23 and drafting financial regulations based on the Yugoslavia and Bosnia
25 was the most important activity that might help us to overcome the chaos
1 that ruled at the time.
2 The most important source of income at the time when the economy
3 had stopped functioning were the donations of our citizens who worked
4 abroad. Through their municipalities they were -- they funded our work.
5 Every municipality in Bosnia and Herzegovina had a decision that
6 regulated those donations. That's why we prepared documents to regulate
7 those donations and to channel them for the defence of Bosnia and
9 these funds to be dissipated across various municipalities.
10 For example, rich municipalities which were not on the front
11 lines would give salaries to their soldiers, whereas the municipalities
12 who did not have foreign workers and which were located on the front
13 line, such as Mostar or Stolac, or perhaps municipalities in
14 Central Bosnia
15 provide for them.
16 However, when we prepared the -- this regulation, the
17 municipalities that had significant income rebelled against that
18 regulation. Boba called me and asked me to withdraw that document. We
19 adopted it only in March 1993, but again all the funds were distributed
20 across the municipalities. They did not go to Herceg-Bosna. The only
21 thing that we managed to define was to have the same amount for everybody
22 who worked abroad and who wanted to give donations.
23 At the very outset I realised what would be the difficulties that
24 we would face in an attempt to coordinate even the most obvious or most
25 trivial things, and this is what showed me what I would have to do to
1 reach a win-win strategy. We adopted a standard routine of work in
2 sessions as had been envisaged. Maybe I should say -- add to that that
3 there were no secret sessions. There were no secret documents which I
4 believe is interesting bearing in mind that we had to work under war
6 The temporary body of executive power tried to regulate issues in
7 a number of areas in order to prevent the escalation of chaos, which
8 means that the temporary body of power did not have the defined
9 competencies from the outset. Instead of that, the situation always
10 imposed new issues that had to be dealt with and regulated. Initiatives
11 arrived from various institutions that those issues should be regulated.
12 For example, from the institution for education, from the automotive
13 clubs and similar situations. The minutes which served as Prosecutor's
14 exhibits testified to the way we worked. For example, at the 7th session
15 that was held on the 14th October 1992, my words were recorded -- when we
16 analyzed the work of the HZ HB during the two months showed that a lot
17 has been regulated but not very much has been implemented.
18 The break-up of Yugoslavia
19 telecommunication traffic and other links with the republican bodies and
20 the self-organisation with a view to defending the state from aggression
21 over the past period the municipalities had taken over the role of the
22 state, especially in financial terms. That is why today we're faced with
23 some instances in which the municipalities behave as the state. It is
24 necessary to appoint people regardless of their ethnic background, be it
25 a Muslim or a Croat, and when they're appointed it should be pointed out
1 that their appointment is temporary.
2 People who arrive from the municipalities will have food and
3 lodgings provided for in the pensioners' home where my office was located
4 at the time. This is Prosecution Exhibit P 578.
5 I knew that the municipalities were independent in the previous
6 system as well, but I could not even imagine that the activities were so
7 developed until the moment when we were able to obtain the Official
8 Gazettes of a significant number of municipalities in Bosnia and
10 aggressor, that they would engage in a mobilisation of people much
11 earlier than the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina had done that.
12 They organised public companies in the areas of telecommunication and
13 electricity supply. They had taken over the proceeds of Yugoslavia and
14 Bosnia and Herzegovina. They introduced new tender. They had taken over
15 authority of banks and the financial institutions. They also established
16 bodies and appointed people in the judiciary. They defined the rights of
17 movement of people, the accommodation of refugees, and so on and so
19 For example, all the municipalities had adopted decisions on a
20 ban to receive refugees. We would have tens of decisions in the
21 municipalities such as Mostar, Capljina, Tuzla, Maglaj, Jablanica, Siroki
22 Brijeg, Posusje, Gornji Vakuf, Uskoplje, regardless of the national
23 composition. Also, Livno and Posusje as well as Orasje, the entire free
24 territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and I'm talking about the areas that
25 were not occupied by the JNA, i.e., the Serb army.
1 Your Honours, a question may be raised at this moment as to
2 whether by introducing these measures the municipalities had violated the
3 constitution, especially bearing in mind that it was about -- that those
4 decisions were about their defence.
5 The constitutional obligation of the municipalities and the
6 spirit of the constitution was to organise the defence, and you have to
7 bear that in mind. That was the objective that all the municipalities
8 had in mind, and their intentions were good. They improvised. They were
9 not consistent in passing their decisions, but the municipalities that
10 had organised their defence and that had undertaken other measures had
11 actually complied with their constitutional obligation to defend their
12 country, those municipalities that didn't do anything and waited for
13 somebody else to do that, for example, the Socialist Federal Republic
15 they -- or that had waited for the measures of the central government
16 which only on the 20th of June, 1992, proclaimed martial law did not
17 comply with their constitutional obligation. This was just an expression
18 of the approach to All Peoples Defence which was deeply enrooted into the
19 tradition of my people.
20 One of the presidential transcript speaks about a reception on
21 the occasion of 125th anniversary of Home Guards Movement. The All
22 Peoples Defence was a system in which every citizen, every institution --
23 I hope that Mr. -- Judge Trechsel will not hold it against me if I say
24 that this was very similar to the system in Switzerland, was obliged to
25 defend their country, and nobody, nobody had the right to sign defeat.
1 And under the law, everybody was duty-bound to prepare defence plans, but
2 this time the aggressor was not a NATO or an eastern bloc country, and
3 this had been what -- the thing that we had prepared for. It was
4 actually the army that was supposed to defend the country from the
5 outside aggressor.
6 However, regardless of the success of the municipalities in
7 taking over the functions of the state, new chaos was created. The
8 municipalities on the front line had more problems and less funds to deal
9 with those problems. Check-points were established. There was no
10 tender. There was no payment transactions, and this was the main problem
11 that I had to deal with in professional terms, to put it that way. No
12 modern society can be organised if payment transactions are not in place.
13 Without payment transactions, there is no normal life. In order for the
14 system to function, for example, if, for example, the members of the
15 Trial Chamber wanted to use their credit card for any transaction,
16 several pre-conditions have to be set in place. First, there has to be
17 tender; B, there has to be a bank where your account is held; and C, the
18 telecommunication system has to function in order to implement your order
19 or your payment transaction. None of these elements in Bosnia
21 And now before I start talking about particular areas, let me say
22 something about my first encounter with President Tudjman, which happened
23 on the 17th of September, 1992. Document number is 1D 02366, and this is
24 a transcript that has been fully translated at the request of my Defence.
25 The transcript points to the complexity of this situation at the time,
1 and reading the transcript you can see that the Croatian leadership was
2 committed to defending Bosnia and Herzegovina and building Bosnia
4 of all the three constituent peoples. Also, there was a commitment to
5 achieve peace in the shortest possible period of time in keeping with the
6 propositions of the London
7 During that encounter, I spoke about the goals of organising
8 civilian authorities. I mentioned the publication of the Official
9 Gazette that just appeared --
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Sorry for interrupting you,
11 Mr. Prlic. You've just quoted from the transcript of your first meeting
12 with President Tudjman. You're giving us the number, 1D 02366. I'm now
13 looking at the documents, and I can't find that particular document. Is
14 there a mistake somewhere?
15 THE ACCUSED PRLIC: I suppose it is mistake, because I don't
16 think that you make mistake, Mr. President.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, because your meeting with
18 President Tudjman is indeed very interesting, and we should have that
20 Mr. Karnavas.
21 MR. KARNAVAS: Yes, Mr. President. I think we're going to be
22 able to correct this -- this error. As I understand it, we didn't want
23 to put in too many documents, but we will -- it is 1D 02366. That's my
24 understanding. But we will be able to provide you with that -- with --
25 through a witness we'll be able to provide you with the exact part of
1 that presidential transcript.
2 THE ACCUSED PRLIC: May I continue?
3 [Interpretation] I'm mentioning the Official Gazette but also the
4 willingness to gather members of all the nationalities that would, and I
5 quote: "Will join those who are well organised, who wanted to introduce
6 peace and order in a certain area." And of course I also mentioned a
7 very clear political goal of the Croats, at least the way I understood
8 it, and I quote: "It was clear to me from the moment I have joined the
9 whole thing and from the moment I've been in this position, and this is
10 the establishment and organisation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
11 with the principles of European Community. In other words, the
12 establishment of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the form of three national
13 units. I believe that Croats will find this in their favour, but the
14 criterion should not be only the national composition of the population."
15 My words are also about defence from the Serb aggression, and I
16 said that we managed to by and large defend the Croatian area save for
17 the Croatian Bosnian Posavina. "I believe that in this circle people I
18 can say that we will not have any of the territory where we do not walk,
19 and we have not entered a single Serb village. We don't need a single
20 Serb village."
21 At that time and today, I have respected Bosnia and Herzegovina
22 and looked at it as a state of three peoples. The Serbian people are
23 citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and they constitute one-third of the
24 total population, and at every moment their rights have to be protected.
25 Why should we try and conquer the Serbian villages? Should we do that in
1 order to expel the population which is a normal result of war operations?
2 No. I was against that.
3 On that occasion, I handed over a letter to the representatives
4 of the Croatian government and said to them, again I'm quoting myself:
5 "We must talk about the number of issues that are exceptionally important
6 for the functioning of the civilian authorities starting with the issue
7 of customs which make it practically impossible for our companies to sell
8 their goods to Croatia
9 commodity reserves, about the movement of goods, about border controls.
10 We have to discuss all these issues that are central to the lives of
11 people inhabiting this area."
12 These are obviously issues that the coordination of the civilian
13 authorities must resolve in coordination with the appropriate services in
15 referring to the border between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia
16 especially where those municipalities are concerned who were committed to
17 coordinating a number of their duties and obligations at the level of
18 Herceg-Bosna as a community.
19 Your Honours, this was the first fully functioning state border
20 between Croatia
21 If there is no cooperation, how can we define border crossings?
22 How can we set up crews on both sides? How can we have border police?
23 How can we have customs? If after every 100 years there was a people
24 living in a country and different parts and areas where these people
25 lived were now divided by these -- this border. So we were making an
1 enormous effort there to keep the whole thing working.
2 Please allow me to reflect on several very important areas
3 mentioned also by the OTP, areas which they believed to be instruments of
4 the joint criminal enterprise. Again, what we need is a context. This
5 is something that I will not necessarily keep coming back to.
6 Talking about finances, we can't discuss this without asking some
7 questions, such as what was the currency that existed both in real and in
8 purely formal terms? What was the currency that was actually being used?
9 Were duties and taxes paid based on the customs earnings and to whom?
10 What about the banks? Was it possible to make transfers from Bosnia
12 pensions being paid? What about the salaries of educational workers?
13 What about police officers who were or were not receiving salaries and
14 from whom? Who was providing salaries for those working in the
15 judiciary, specifically judges and prosecutors?
16 The financial laws that we had prepared immediately before we
17 were appointed were adopted on the 28th of August, 1992, at a HZ HB
18 session. What is particularly noteworthy is that these were published in
19 the Official Gazette number 3, and that was marked as having been issued
20 in August 1992. If the Chamber cares to have a look, Official Gazette 1
21 and 2 date back to September 1992.
22 It is quite obvious that the first to be published were these
23 financial regulations, and those were then followed by -- by all the
24 fundamental decisions on the establishment and functioning of the
25 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna. This shows you in no uncertain terms
1 what the priorities were of the HVO and the HZ HB, as well as the
2 provisional body of the executive.
3 As far as the possibilities for the functioning of -- of payment
4 transactions without a currency to call our own, this was a technical
5 solution, and I'm saying this as a professor. Bearing in mind the fact
6 that most the foreign trade was with the Republic of Croatia
7 be a prime example of an optimum currency area.
8 Most of the refugees were staying in Croatia at the time who were
9 also using Croatia
10 was mostly about criminal provisions, something being paid in dinars, in
11 Croatian kuna and German marks later on, and that's what it took for
12 these regulations to start making sense. Formally speaking, at the time
13 the official currency used in Bosnia and Herzegovina was the Yugoslav
14 dinar, yet this same Yugoslavia
15 to be withdrawn from circulation.
16 Believe me, monetary history had hardly seen a situation as
17 absurd as this occur.
18 The indictment talks about the import of goods from the Republic
19 of Croatia
20 covered. However, we must quote another reciprocal decision taken at the
21 same session, which is also in evidence by the OTP, 5733. I quote: "The
22 proposed decision on exporting goods to the Republic of Croatia
23 companies and other legal and real entities in the HZ HB."
24 This is obviously something that is reciprocal; the introduction
25 of free trade, if you like. Those areas had never grown under that sort
1 of burden before, and that is the sort of situation that prevails as we
2 speak. Not just between Croatia
3 throughout south-eastern Europe
4 members of the EU.
5 This opened a possibility for the economy to prosper in Bosnia
6 and Herzegovina
7 advantage to our nearest neighbouring market, which was the Republic of
9 As the Chamber has already heard, at the beginning the duties and
10 taxes were paid through non-resident accounts in Croatia itself. The
11 opening of those accounts occurred pursuant to an inter-republican
12 agreement between Croatia
13 reached in February 1992. The document number is 1D 01768.
14 We've seen a number of such accounts that were being opened at
15 the time, and some of these were held by bodies of Bosnia and
18 like that until the spring of 1993. We finally had the right conditions
19 in Bosnia
21 non-residential accounts for the most part in Croatia but to some extent,
22 also, in neighbouring Slovenia
23 We have heard suggestions by the OTP that the decree on payments
24 being made in Croatian dinars in the HZ HB was a de facto introduction of
25 the Croatian currency as one that was to be used in the HZ HB. The
1 Defence will show by adducing evidence that this is simply not true.
2 Provisions 2 and 3 of that decree say that the payment transaction
3 institute should be used to open sub-accounts and not accounts in
4 Croatian dinars bearing the -- bearing a number 1 marked in the first
5 codex from left. Ordinal number 1 marked as RIR. This is Prosecution
6 Exhibit 447. All the accounts with the Payments and Transactions
7 Institute were to start with a 0, which meant that the initial accounts
8 could only still be expressed in terms of the domestic currency, the
9 Yugoslav dinar or, rather, the Bosnia and Herzegovina dinar. Therefore,
10 over this entire period the Bosnia and Herzegovina dinar remained the
11 official currency.
12 As for the opening of these sub-accounts, this was only the very
13 first step in order to have proper transactions in Bosnia and
15 been envisaged. It was earlier on that most of the municipalities had
16 already introduced the Croatian dinar as a parallel currency. We shall
17 be tendering a lot of documents in order to show this.
18 As a provisional body of executive government, we accepted the
19 first shipment of BH dinars as a legal currency. We tried using it. The
20 Prosecutor mentioned the support that was sent to municipalities in
21 Central Bosnia
22 November 1992. Prosecution Exhibits 1063 and 1D 2127.
23 Nonetheless, the BH dinar could never really get off the ground
24 properly as a currency that would really be used and widely accepted, and
25 this sort of situation prevailed throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina
1 As I mentioned before, these non-residential accounts were being
2 used until the conditions were in place for banks to start operating in
3 Bosnia and Herzegovina. Prior to that time, there had been no banks at
4 all. These new banks were now set up in keeping with the regulations
5 defined by the National Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Appropriate
6 amounts were paid that were required for registration. The amounts were
7 paid in BH dinar. Licenses were issued, as is customary in all of the
8 world's modern states. Document number is 1D 01765.
9 Other measures were taken such as the introduction of the optical
10 cable in order to get the telecommunications system up and running again.
11 This made transactions possible now, and this was the single key element
12 of the economic improvement that was to follow regardless of the
13 consequences of war in HVO-controlled territory, but also in other areas
14 of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The World Bank and the International Monetary
15 Fund have carried out a number of studies showing this beyond doubt.
16 And now something about the defence areas. There was a provision
17 in the armed forces regulating each citizen's duty to contribute to the
18 defence, and the way in which this is done is almost identical to that
19 found in the Yugoslav law on All Peoples Defence. This provisional organ
20 of executive government had no role in commanding the armed forces. This
21 is shown by the provision on the armed forces, but also by the decision
22 on the fundamental structure of the defence department defining clearly
23 the structure of the department but also defining the responsibilities of
24 all its components as well as the role of the Supreme Commander of the
25 armed forces who was also the person who issued this decision.
1 It must be noted that there is no mention anywhere of the HVO
2 HZ HB in this decision, and the first decision bears the date of the 15th
3 of September, 1992, which at that time was clearly already representing a
4 civilian organ of the new provisional executive government.
5 Chapter 9 of this decision has already been addressed here, and
6 this is about the responsibility of the HVO's Main Staff. A position was
7 defined in relation to the defence department, mostly in terms of
8 administrative issues, while the question of command and the use of
9 forces was directly linked to the Supreme Commander, the president of the
10 HZ HB.
11 This paragraph, as is only to be expected, determines the chain
12 of command that existed in the armed forces. One thing that must be
13 noted, however, is that there is no mention there of the HVO HZ HB as a
14 provisional body of executive government. This is Prosecution Exhibit P
16 There will be Defence witnesses appearing to tell us what sort of
17 information they were receiving at the time regarding the military
18 situation on the ground and how that sort of information was reaching the
19 HVO. Other Defence witnesses will be able to confirm that the HVO was
20 not giving orders to the military component of the HVO, to the HVO's
21 military units or its military police. The HVO HZ HB played no formal
22 role in commanding the armed forces. That is why the provision on the
23 armed forces was amended in October 1992.
24 We don't come across a single case of this being done before
25 these changes if we look at all the documents available to us. I'm still
1 talking about the same provision. It abolishes the possibility for the
2 Supreme Commander to hand over certain duties in terms of commanding the
3 armed forces to a provisional body of government. It is quite clear that
4 through these changes the HVO HZ HB loses any jurisdiction that it may
5 have had prior to my appointment as president of the provisional body of
6 executive government on the 14th of August. These changes were perfectly
7 in keeping with the HVO being defined as a provisional body of executive
8 government regarding civilian issues.
9 The decision on the methodology to be applied when drafting
10 defence plans is something that has to do with the general notion of All
11 Peoples Defence and social self-protection. Each socio-political
12 community from the federation to the municipality, each legal subject, a
13 company, for example, a bank -- a bank, a local commune, a school, all of
14 those needed a defence plan, and these defence plans, of course, had a
15 civilian character, and no use of the armed forces was implied.
16 That sort of inertia went on in the BH republican legislation.
17 I'm referring to Articles 109 through 112 of the Law On Defence.
18 When looking at the framework of measures that were being taken
19 in the HZ HB in terms of security and fighting crime, the important ones
20 are those that have to do with internal affairs and with the judiciary
21 and general administration.
22 When it comes to the judiciary, and this is confirmed by the
23 report, the goal was to activate the work of the courts and also to
24 establish the system of military judiciary, and that's why the initial
25 provisions were drafted. In the former system, the overall judicial
1 system was completely separated from the military judiciary, which was
2 within the system of the Yugoslav People's Defence.
3 During the tradition processes towards democratic systems, and
4 one should bear in mind that the JNA was proclaimed an officially
5 aggressor, interventions were necessary.
6 The second objective problem which necessitated changes and
7 interventions in the judiciary system was this: There was no single
8 judiciary proceedings that could be completed and become valid if there
9 was no third instance with the right of hearing appeals. Bearing in mind
10 that Sarajevo
11 established as well as the department of the republican prosecution,
12 which was a common practice that was later on applied in the districts.
13 The Defence will show that a political consensus for this system
14 was achieved between the HZ HB and the SDA and that the staff in the
15 judiciary could be appointed in that way.
16 We also tried to introduce particular operative programmes in
17 order to fight crime, and this implies what is important within the
18 context of this Tribunal are war crimes amongst other things. The
19 documents of the Prosecution speak that on the 22nd of March, 1993, the
20 vice-president Zubak reported about the application of the programme in
21 practice. He also stated that numerous successes had been achieved in
22 the campaign, and he also added that there is a lot more room for
23 improvement, and this improvement could be achieved if we engaged some
24 well-equipped experts. This is Prosecution Exhibit P 1703.
25 At a special session on the 11th of August, 1993, 21 conclusions
1 were passed which represented a legal and organisational framework for
2 the HZ HB to be established on the fundaments of legality. This is
3 document P 4111.
4 A special coordination body was established, and I was one of its
5 members. This body tried to launch a number of activities that are
6 illustrated by the documents. The conclusions which were passed reveal
7 the intention of the HVO HZ HB to deal with crime and to curb it, but
8 it -- it also arises from these conclusions that the objective force lies
9 in the Presidency of the HZ HB and in the municipalities. That's why as
10 the necessary prerequisite, if we wanted to achieve any success, was to
11 ask for the political support of the Presidency of the HZ HB and the
12 Executive Board of the HDZ. Without their support, we could not embark
13 on such a demanding programme.
14 Because of the information that we received from the
15 international community, we included on our agenda at the session of the
16 18th of August the following: In order to protect property and lives of
17 Muslims in Ljubusko, measures and activities should be taken to curb
18 irresponsible behaviour of the individuals and groups. This is Exhibit
19 number 4276.
20 There's another interesting remark, and I quote: "Within the
21 area of jurisdiction, we should build the policy in order to institute
22 stricter punishments for the perpetrators of aggravated crimes."
23 These tasks which were defined by members of the interim bodies
24 of executive power may be followed through the reports of various
25 prosecutors' offices and the courts in the Department Of Judiciary and
1 House Of Representatives, which was established ten days later.
2 Allowing to the position of its representatives, it took over the
3 leading position in this type of programme. I'm referring to documents
4 1D 02371, 1D 02368.
5 For example, the government drafted a report on the situation of
6 crime and evaluated the situation and measures that were taken and
7 presented that report to the House of Representatives of the HR HB in
8 December 1993. Document number is 1D 01977.
9 Before that, on the 18th of September, 1993, I sent a letter to
10 the Supreme Commander and the president of the House Of Representatives
11 containing proposals as to what should be done in order to overcome the
12 state of chaos that we were facing at that time. People who were members
13 of the coordination board were all unique in adopting the same position.
14 Document number is 1D 01813.
15 We established a commission to establish war crimes whose task
16 was to investigate any type of potential war crimes committed in the
17 territory of Herceg-Bosna regardless of the perpetrator and regardless of
18 the victim. This commission cooperated with the local prosecutor's
19 office as has been envisaged by the document on its foundation.
20 Such an early reference to the Tribunal, even before the Tribunal
21 was actually established, speaks of the willingness of the HVO HZ HB to
22 support its establishment and willingness to help it to process all forms
23 of war crimes, which is also corroborated by a letter to the first
24 Prosecutor of this Tribunal, Mr. Goldstone. The document number is 1D
1 Regardless of the establishment of the federation, the government
2 of the HR HB launched Operation Spider in June 1994, which involved all
3 the competent ministries as well as some of the task forces from the
4 Republic of Croatia
5 perpetrators of all the crimes that had been recorded up to then.
6 The members of this Trial Chamber has already seen that the
7 competent bodies recorded all the crimes during the war, and based on
8 those records this wide-reaching action had been launched.
9 In a document that I signed on behalf of the government, it says
10 as follows and I quote: "The purpose of this action is to -- for the
11 action to last over a long period of time and to combine operative
12 prevention, repressive, and crime prevention measures and apprehend all
13 those people for which there is a reasonable suspicion that they had
14 committed crimes." These people had to be processed, investigated, and
15 taken to justice. The document number is 1D 01249.
16 The witnesses in this courtroom has already spoken about the
17 results of this action, and there will be more to talk about the success
18 of this action.
19 The responsibility for processing the crimes committed during the
20 war was taken over by the judiciary of the federation and later on Bosnia
21 and Herzegovina
22 power in whose establishment I participated as a member of government
24 I also want to mention the Law on Amnesty which does not
25 exculpate those who committed war crimes but what needs to be said at
1 this moment is this: On the 18th of February, 1996, the so-called
2 Rome Agreement was signed and I witnessed that. I was in Rome
3 time. This agreement establishes the rules of the road which defined how
4 can local courts in Bosnia and Herzegovina process war crimes. According
5 to the rules of the road, as the agreement would become to be known,
6 local courts can try war crimes only with a prior consent of the
7 International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.
8 If this is maybe the time for our next break, I am just embarking
9 on a new chapter in my presentation.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Fine. We're going to break for
11 20 minutes. We'll resume at 20 to 6.00.
12 --- Recess taken at 5.22 p.m.
13 --- On resuming at 5.45 p.m.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Fine. The hearing is resumed.
15 Mr. Prlic, you have the floor.
16 THE ACCUSED PRLIC: Thank you, Mr. President. Just to make one
17 mistake in transcript that was asked by lawyer of Mr. Pusic. On page 37,
18 line 25, it should be written Puljic, not Pusic. I mentioned the name
20 [Interpretation] During the break I tried to reduce to a certain
21 extent my presentation, but I don't think I will be able to finish today.
22 A few words about refugees. I believe that the indictment is a
23 simplification of the problem of the humanitarian issue on status and
24 care of refugees and displaced persons. The decision on refugees which
25 was passed towards the end of 1992 by the HZ HB was an attempt to
1 introduce a system into this issue. It transpires from the text of the
2 decision that it is not discriminatory, although it referred to a very
3 well-defined territory of the HZ HB.
4 The body that I was a member of forbade during the war any
5 transfer of assets in order to prevent any transactions under duress.
6 The office for refugees was a very small organisation. It had only 12
7 members of staff and did not have funds for work, and as we heard, there
8 were over a hundred thousand refugees in our small territory.
9 MR. KARNAVAS: I apologise for the interruption. Normally I
10 would not interrupt but my colleague insists on me interrupting because
11 of the gravity of the error that is being -- that is on the text over
12 here. It was "not a well-defined" as opposed to "well-defined." There
13 is a big difference to that. We would appreciate if perhaps Mr. Prlic
14 would slow down, articulate, so that the translators would then properly
15 translate this, but this is an error that I must correct. It's on page
16 65, line 7. Thank you.
17 THE ACCUSED PRLIC: Thank you, Mr. Karnavas.
18 [Interpretation] We're talking about a very small body. Towards
19 the end of June, the temporary body of authorities appointed a body that
20 would look after the refugees. As it transpires from the documents, this
21 was established due to the gravity of the humanitarian crisis in order
22 to, I quote, "coordinate the work of the various bodies that were dealing
23 with refugees."
24 At the peak of the humanitarian crisis in July 1993, the
25 HVO HZ HB passed the following conclusions: Take all the possible
1 measures in order to protect the civilian population within the zones of
2 war operations in which new refugees and displaced persons arriving into
3 the territory of the HZ HB should be taken into account -- should be
4 taken into account.
5 The headquarters for the organisation and coordination of the
6 work of the bodies looking after refugees and displaced persons are
7 duty-bound to arrange their departure to third countries. The work --
8 working group of the office for refugees and displaced persons should
9 continue contacts with the government of the Republic of Croatia
10 view to the efficiently dealing with the problem of accommodation and
11 transit of refugees from the territory of HZ HB
12 the UNHCR with the view to opening the transit centre for the refugees in
13 the territory of HZ HB
14 international organisation. And finally, inform the ministry of the
15 foreign affairs of the Republic of Croatia
16 The document is number P 3560.
17 All these conclusions are -- apply across the board to the
18 citizens, to the civilians and there is no reference to any particular
19 ethnic group that would be allowed to leave the area of war operations.
20 And it is only within this context that all the other conclusions had to
21 be reviewed.
22 In order to provide for the protection of civilians, it is only
23 logical to establish contacts with the UNHCR and the office for refugees
24 of the only country to which the refugees could go to, and that was the
25 Republic of Croatia
1 Members of the Trial Chamber, at that time of the 19 members of
2 my family in Mostar, only the two of us remained living in Mostar.
3 Some of the witnesses from the international community mentioned
4 the issue of the transit centre which was indeed opened with their
5 assistance. The report on the work of the office for refugees and
6 displaced persons from early 1994 indicates that in October 1993 a
7 transit centre had been opened. It was mentioned by several witnesses
8 from international organisations. Thanks to their support it was opened
9 in biggest hotel in Ljubuski, and it is stressed in this Prosecution
10 exhibit, 6324, several thousand people were housed there before they left
11 for third countries. For the most part those were Croats and not, as one
12 could conclude from some of the testimonies before this Court, that the
13 initiative to set up the transit centre was in fact to serve the purpose
14 of ethnically cleansing the Muslims.
15 When we're talking about the passage of humanitarian convoys it
16 is important to mention in this context the agreement on the free passage
17 of convoys, but also some other humanitarian issues. That was signed on
18 our initiative by the HVO HZ HB and the government of the Republic of
19 Bosnia and Herzegovina in Makarska, in the Republic of Croatia
20 8th of July, 1993. This agreement envisages for the cooperation and
21 organisation of humanitarian aid convoys, and there were some teething
22 troubles related to the adopting of certain protocols. It functioned
23 more or less well as is indicated in the reports originating from the
25 The purpose of the protocol was to avoid any arbitrary decisions
1 and to impose quite specific rules, and it is quite clearly defined by
2 international law what humanitarian aid is. Cigarettes cannot be
3 considered as humanitarian aid if they are subject to taxation.
4 This -- there was a body that included representatives of the
5 international community, and they themselves stressed that the protocol
6 at the time solved all the problems, a way in which the items on the
7 humanitarian convoys was also defined, and it served to ensure that
8 humanitarian aid is distributed. Prosecution Exhibit P 3346.
9 There were no examples of convoy with international aid setting
10 off and then being stopped or of convoys not being approved by the
11 Herceg-Bosna bodies.
12 Now as regards the transparency of the work and the so-called
13 Croatisation I will leave aside. I will let the witnesses say something
14 about that.
15 Let me now say something about the relationship between the HVO
16 HZ HB and the Presidency of the HZ HB.
17 The relationship between those two bodies is quite clearly
18 defined by their respective Rules of Procedure. We in the executive body
19 as professionals wanted to have transparent relations. The minutes
20 mention what one of our future witnesses will say -- will say,
21 Zoran Buntic, the head of the judiciary and general administration
22 department where he says, and I quote: "The proposal is made for the
23 Presidency to meet more often and that the respective competencies of the
24 HVO and the Presidency be clearly defined by the Presidency." That's
25 P 00534.
1 The 7th session in October 1992, I quote: "It is necessary to
2 provide political support from the Presidency of the HZ HB in order to
3 establish a unified system of customs and tax on the whole territory of
4 the HZ HB. That's P 00578.
5 The character of the relationship defines the needs to report to
6 the departments and to the provisional bodies or, rather, that those
7 departments and those provisional bodies should report to those who
8 appointed them, the presidents of the municipalities who were members of
9 the Presidency of the HZ HB.
10 If you look -- if you cast a cursory look at all the reports, it
11 is obvious that at first few pages the work at the sessions of the HVO
12 HZ HB are described. We're talking about Prosecution Exhibits P 04611,
13 P 04735.
14 It is obvious that this is a report filed by the HVO as a
15 collective organ and the departments that is meant for the Presidency of
16 the HZ HB, because there is no need for the members to report to each
17 other, and this is stressed at the session of the HVO HZ HB. Let me
18 quote: "After all the reports on the -- on the work of the HVO HZ HB for
19 the period between the 1st of January, 1993, until the 30th of June,
20 1993, are completed, they will be submitted to the Presidency of the
21 HZ HB." This is Exhibit P 04220.
22 The Defence witnesses will provide explanations to the
23 Trial Chamber about the conclusions of the HVO HZ HB that were sent to
24 the Presidency of the HZ HB on the 13th of July, 1993. That's document
25 P 03413, where due to the situation that HVO HZ HB was informed about,
1 another proposal is made to Mr. Mate Boban to call an urgent meeting of
2 the Presidency of the HZ HB, the Presidency of the HDZ, and the
3 presidents of the Municipal Boards of the HDZ in order to organise the
4 defence. Those conclusions were passed a month before that, on the 15th
5 of June, 1993. That's document 1D 01668.
6 After the -- the provisional organ was notified about the attacks
7 by the BH army on Travnik, Kiseljak, Vitez, Kakanj, and the persecution
8 that Croats in Zenica, Sarajevo
9 minority faced.
10 Apparently the institutions that had the authority and that could
11 do something in this area failed to do what was in their power. The
12 situation deteriorated. In particular after a BH army attack in the
13 wider Mostar area on the 30th of June, 1993, and the attack on Fojnica
14 with the fighting continuing in the Central Bosnia area. And we were
15 prompted to resubmit the conclusions of the 15th of June once again,
16 hoping that the institutions, the competent institutions, would do what
17 we were not empowered to decide.
18 The presidential transcript dated the 10th of November, 1993
19 where the composition of the future government of the HR HB is discussed,
20 I speak about my visit to Banja Luka, and I quote: "I was with Komarica
21 on Saturday evening. It is consolidated. It is a little bit better for
22 the Croats. They're not being mobilised anymore, but -- and some other
23 agencies - illegible - they have to do work obligation but this cannot be
24 prevented. They're picking apples, and that is better than if they have
25 to go to serve in the army." That's Prosecution Exhibit P 06581.
1 The purpose of my visit to Banja Luka, and I was invited by
2 Bishop Komarica, was to make it possible for Croats not to be called up
3 to serve in the Serbian army, which at that time was the basic reason
4 they quoted when they wanted to leave this area. So the purpose of my
5 visit was to ensure that Croats will continue to reside in those parts of
6 Bosnia and Herzegovina which could never become part of the HR HB, which
7 is contrary to the Prosecution allegation about the interest that Croats
8 might have in moving into areas that are defined as areas with Croatian
10 It is ironic that in one of the courtrooms of this Tribunal a
11 judgement was delivered about the events that led to the mass exodus of
12 Croats, more than 100.000 of them. The military commander of this area
13 was sentenced to three and a half years in prison, yet in another
14 courtroom this mass exodus is actually reverse ethnic cleansing that
15 Croats are responsible for. For areas that in the very same indictment
16 are not only described or defined as the goal of the Croatian political
17 leadership but areas from which non-Croats were supposed to be expelled.
18 Where is the logic in that?
19 Even a cursory glance at the Official Gazettes show that they
20 contained a large number of appointments that I signed. The character of
21 these decisions -- of these decisions, the decision-making at the
22 sessions, this is something that I explained to a certain extent, but I
23 would like to say now that the body that I chaired and in whose work I
24 participated wanted to achieve full equality in ethnic terms with the
25 Muslim people. Had there been a political agreement between the SDA and
1 the HDZ -- or, rather, the fact that this agreement existed can be seen
2 from a letter from the SDA to the Electricity Distribution Board of --
3 where protocol that was signed is mentioned and appointments -- and
4 appointments are mentioned, and let me quote: "The appointed
5 representatives of the SDA are authorised to take and to perform tasks
6 and to take up duties and to continue work on constituting the work and
7 the tasks within the framework of the provisional organisation of the HZ
8 Herceg-Bosna." That's 1D 1560.
9 Yet another example, the payroll for May 1993 for hydroelectric
10 plant in Rama. The largest employer in Prozor municipality. We have
11 some crime base issues, indicates that judging by the names among the 49
12 employees at least 20 are Muslim. That's 1D 01991, or a quote from the
13 report on the work of the department for judiciary and public
14 administration for 1992.
15 After getting the approval by the municipal HVO for the
16 candidates of Croatian -- from the Croatian ethnic community and the
17 approval of the Regional Board of the SDA for the candidates of the
18 Muslim -- from the Muslim ethnic background and in light of the
19 conclusions from the session of the Presidency of the 17th of October,
20 1992, the proposal for the decision on the appointment was drafted, and
21 then the names follow. It is clear that the SDA agreed with the
23 Defence documents will show that, for instance, of the eight
24 judges elected to the Supreme Court in Mostar, three are Muslims. That's
25 1D 2124. Again, 8 of the 13 judges in the Mostar court were Muslims, as
1 were more than 50 per cent of the employees as shown by document
2 1D 02381.
3 The Official Gazettes indicate that the director of the
4 Vodoprivreda company was Dzemal Cosic. The deputy director of the public
5 auditing service is Jusuf Skaljic, as shown as P 00672. Or let us go
6 back to the sessions. P 824. Members of the commission for regulations
7 Aid Glavovic, as the chairman, Damjan Vlasic, Ante Bijuk, Mahmut Jugo.
8 They are members of the commission. While members of the management
9 board of the post and telecommunications public company are Ilija Kozul,
10 Enes Santic from Mostar, Verenko Cubela from Livno, Branko Colak from
11 Siroki Brijeg, and Enes Sehic from Novi Travnik. So two out of five are
13 In December 1992, that's from the minutes of the session, you can
14 see my words, I asked the heads of all the departments and
15 sub-departments to draft proposals for the appointments of persons of
16 Muslim ethnic background for one of the following sessions of the HVO
17 HZ HB. That's document P 921.
18 In mid-January 1993, again at the session, it is said, I quote:
19 "The bodies and services of the HVO HZ HB should submit the participation
20 of Muslims in the management of the bodies, organs, and administrative
21 organisations of the HZ HB during the day." That's document 1D 818.
22 Now allow me to say a few words about our relations with the
23 government in Sarajevo
24 Most of the members of the government actually was in the free territory
25 so that we were able to meet quite often. Jure Pelivan, the president,
1 Zarko Primorac who will testify as the Finance Minister. Muhamed Logo,
2 his deputy, Tomislav Kristicevic, transport minister.
3 Alija Delimustafic, minister of the interior, and other members of the
4 cabinet, Valde Jahic, Muratovic, Raguz, to name but a few, would come to
5 visit us and we talked about arranging some joint activities. We took
6 part in programmes on TV and on radio.
7 As for Avdom Camparom, the secretary of the Assembly of the
8 Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, I made arrangements with him to
9 organise the session -- a session of the Assembly in Mostar. The
10 provisional organ at the very beginning of its operation took the
11 following stand: All the documents passed by the HVO HZ HB should
12 co-exist with the regulations of the republic or the regulations of the
13 republic should be complied with wherever possible, which clearly shows
14 the view this organ took towards the institutions of the republic.
15 That's Prosecution Exhibit P 00543.
16 The provisions were very clear about the level of responsibility
17 about everything, and that also applies to cooperation with the
18 institutions of the republic. Article 7 of the decree on the structure
19 and remit of the departments and commissions says these bodies should
20 work with the republican bodies in preparing the laws defining the
21 policies of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and also to prepare
22 other laws and regulations of a more general nature whenever these are in
23 relation to the equal status enjoyed by all the constituent ethnic groups
24 in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
25 At the start of my activity, just after my appointment, I
1 received the conclusions of the HVO HZ HB, and I sent a letter to the
2 government in Sarajevo
3 willingness for the situation to return to normal. I quote: "Please
4 find attached the regulations passed by the body -- the provisional body
5 of executive government, the HVO, the objective being to normalise living
6 conditions and to get the legal system in the liberated areas fully
7 operational again."
8 If you look at these, it will become perfectly clear that we
9 tried to remain perfectly in keeping and consistent with the republican
10 provisions and regulations. The circumstances surrounding this were
11 difficult. There was a war on. There was a lot of destruction,
12 disruptions to traffic and telecommunications, lack of assistance or
13 support by the republican organs. It was necessary to take action and to
14 define certain rules and pass certain laws with a view to overcoming this
15 state of chaos and overall anarchy that had come about as a result of the
16 war. The document number is 1D 01558.
17 So we submitted to the republican government all the laws that we
18 passed as a provisional body.
19 In the autumn of 1992, I was authorised by the government to act
20 on behalf of the government of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
21 and this is document 1D 2147, when it came to cooperation with
22 international organisations especially as concerned shipments of
23 humanitarian aid. I was also authorised to coordinate any measures
24 between the government of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the
25 one hand and the HVO HZ HB on the other -- or, rather, and I'm quoting
1 the decision itself: "To be involved in making appropriate financial
2 arrangements regarding any defence activities."
3 It is against this background that one must interpret measures
4 that were taken in relation to the office for military production, for
5 example. Bearing my power in mind, I tried to make sure that the
6 regulations passed by the HZ HB were fully consistent internally,
7 provisional as they were and temporary. I also permanently took into
8 account the fact that they should be -- that they should remain within
9 the framework of the legal system that prevailed in the Republic of
10 Bosnia and Herzegovina. For the most part these were legal regulations
11 that we adopted, and we tried not to ever go into any issues that would
12 require, so to speak, a higher level of democratic legitimacy such as,
13 for example, property, relations, organizing elections, and such like.
14 Needless to say, I worked within the powers that I had. I tried
15 to help. I tried to help get civilian life organised, and I had tried to
16 ease the difficulties faced by all of our citizens. Despite my other
17 duties and commitments, I travelled abroad. I worked with the office for
18 refugees of the Republic of Croatia
19 from this country that happened to be the single most important donor of
20 humanitarian aid to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and I think witnesses will
21 address this issue.
22 Another thing that mattered were productive relations with the
23 government in Sarajevo
24 how the meeting came about, the much-debated meeting dated the 18th of
25 April, 1993, and this was a meeting referred to by a number of witnesses.
1 The date on this letter is the 2nd of April, 1993. 1D 0194. It was a
2 letter to the head of the ECMM offering coordination for the talks.
3 In this letter I proposed the following subjects for discussion,
4 which was within my powers: The production, distribution of electricity;
5 maintenance of roads through liberated areas; putting a stop to all forms
6 of illegal activity; smuggling; and humanitarian aid; reconstruction of
7 schools and taking care of other forms of education; taking care of
8 retired persons; and putting up refugees and making sure they're
10 The start of the clashes in mid-April, as we heard confirmed by a
11 number of witnesses, changed the agenda of the 18th of April, 1993,
12 meeting organised by ECMM. The meeting was attended by a member of the
13 Presidency of the republic, Franjo Boras, as well as Ejup Ganic and
14 General Petkovic.
15 As a member of the transitional government of the republic of
16 Bosnia and Herzegovina, I was pushing for specific steps to be taken as
17 quickly as possible. In a bid to achieve that, I wrote a letter to the
18 RBH government in May 1993. I quote: "As the deadlines are very short
19 for these activities, I think it would be useful if you could immediately
20 prepare appropriate documents for the hand-over itself." The document
21 number is 1D 1598.
22 This continuity of various activities is also demonstrated by the
23 minutes of the first meeting of the government of Herceg-Bosna and the
25 6th of April, 1994. No representatives of the international community
1 were present, yet we managed to agree a number of practical steps much
2 like those that I had been proposing in April the previous year.
3 Representatives of both sides agreed on the way the customs bodies should
4 function, the return of refugees, reconstruction of the electricity
5 system and the energy system, and a number of infrastructural moves in
6 Mostar itself. The document number is 1D 1953.
7 We met on a number of other occasions, as well, including a visit
8 to Sarajevo
9 those issues jointly at a later stage, bearing in mind the fact that I
10 had become president of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina or,
11 rather, the deputy prime minister of the federation as of June 1994.
12 Most of the ministers from Herceg-Bosna's government became members of
13 the republican or Federal Cabinet.
14 This is where I'd like to move on to another issue, and this is
15 something that has been discussed a great deal in this courtroom. This
16 is an issue that features very prominently in the indictment itself, the
17 so-called 15 January ultimatum. The 15th of January, 1993, of course.
18 The Chamber knows exactly which document I'm talking about. That
19 is why I wish to point one thing out at the very outset. This decision,
20 the way I understood it then, 15 years ago, and I can confirm this now,
21 was no ultimatum. It was never discussed. It was never even considered
22 as any form of ultimatum, and that certainly wasn't how it was signed,
23 neither was it meant to be taken as an ultimatum.
24 If we put the decision into perspective, if you know what sort of
25 information was available to us at the time, it is easy to understand
1 that the objective of this decision was to set up a Joint Command of the
2 HVO and the BH army. As far as I remember, all of us back in early 1993
3 believed, especially taking into account the developments that followed
4 the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia, as well as the
5 kind of information that we were receiving at the time, that the war was
6 over. This might strike one as naive from our present standpoint.
7 Nonetheless, I do remember that at the -- a meeting of this provisional
8 executive body of government, many of us were saying that the war was now
9 over, or at least that it would soon be over, and we started thinking
10 about how to get our companies up and running again, how to create jobs
11 for soldiers who would in the meantime have been demobilised. A decision
12 was drafted and adopted pursuant to a request of the head of the Croatian
13 delegation of those international talks, Mr. Boban, the president of the
14 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna, who was also the head of the
15 negotiating team.
16 No one at the time had any reason to doubt the accuracy of
17 Mr. Boban's information on such agreement as has been reached. Likewise,
18 there was no reason to go and review Mr. Boban's instructions to the
19 effect that we should take a decision to reflect both the letter and the
20 spirit of that agreement.
21 Why doubt his honesty? Why challenge his instructions? After
22 all, he was perfectly authorised to issue such instructions. They wanted
23 us to draft and issue a decision that for all practical intents will have
24 been tantamount to implementation of the peace proposal. Of course, the
25 decision called for avoidance of any conflict between the HVO and the BH
1 army in free territory.
2 Your Honours, we must bear in mind the fact that the BH army and
3 the HVO were components of a joint armed force. This is specifically
4 shown in the order on lifting the blockade of Sarajevo city issued by the
5 president of the Presidency of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
6 Alija Izetbegovic, on the 16th of October, 1992.
7 Item 1 of this order reads, and I quote: "The armed forces of
8 Bosnia and Herzegovina (the BH army and the HVO) will immediately start
9 preparing actions to lift the blockade of Sarajevo city by military
10 means." 1D 02432.
11 Unfortunately, tensions soon escalated between the two armed
12 forces in the same territory despite best efforts on both parts and the
13 good faith shown on both sides to find an appropriate solution. This was
14 the reason that as we have witnessed during the Prosecution case
15 throughout the war and well before the clashes between those units broke
16 out there had been permanent and ongoing efforts to find a pattern based
17 on which to organise a Joint Command of the HVO and the BH army, a
18 pattern that would have been deemed acceptable by both parties.
19 There was some degree of success in this respect in the autumn of
20 1992 on the eve of the fall of Jajce.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Prlic, let me interrupt
22 you. You quoted this document which seems very important to me, 1D 2032.
23 It is an order signed by Izetbegovic about the siege of Sarajevo. I have
24 the document in front of me. It was not translated. I therefore do not
25 have the English translation. In the binder we have the B/C/S version
1 but no English translation, whilst this document may be extremely
3 THE ACCUSED PRLIC: Mr. President, I think that the number 2432,
4 but I'm not so sure that -- I said 2432.
5 MR. KARNAVAS: In any event, Your Honour, all of these documents
6 will be made available through witnesses in the appropriate languages in
7 due time. Thank you.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Let's wait and see.
9 THE ACCUSED PRLIC: [Interpretation] At that press conference
10 members of the new command took part, Officer Jasmin Jaganac, General
11 Ante Prkacin, the commander of the 1st Mostar Brigade Arif Pasalic, as
12 well as the commander of the District Staff commander here of Zenica
13 Dzemal Merdan, 1D 1424.
14 The information about partial implementation of Vance-Owen Plan
15 arrived on the 15th of January in the afternoon. That morning we held a
16 regular session. On that day, we were informed that a meeting had been
17 held in Zagreb
18 the Republic of Croatia
19 conference for the former Yugoslavia
20 link between these events. Document number is P 1146.
21 The fact that it was believed about this decision that it was
22 based on the information that the agreement had been reached may be seen
23 in the preamble, and I quote: "In keeping with the agreements reached so
24 far and signed at the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia
25 (in the Geneva
1 Although it is very difficult to be absolutely certain about
2 everything, when writing this decision we had in our mind the whole
3 context of international agreements starting with Cutileiro's plan about
4 establishing three constituent units in Bosnia and Herzegovina
5 conclusion of the London
6 the HDZ about the organisation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
7 gave the foundation for the Vance-Owen Plan, up to the first
8 comprehensive Vance-Owen Peace Agreement. Let us not forget that the
9 draft of the constitutional organisation for Bosnia and Herzegovina
10 was drafted by the working group of the Geneva conference for the former
12 the 16th of November, 1992. The document number is P 752.
13 Would it be too much to believe at the time that the
14 international community had finally helped us to draft a peace agreement
15 that would be easy to implement? I don't think so. Especially bearing
16 in mind the vast quantity of time and energy that was spent by everybody
17 who participated in these negotiations. The purpose of the decision
18 which says in article 4 clearly, and I quote: "The temporary and valid
19 up to the moment when the Geneva
20 and Herzegovina
21 should never have been implemented by force.
22 As far as what I was thinking at the time, I would like to draw
23 your attention to my words that were recorded by CNN, and I quote my own
24 words: "Mr. Prlic said that the HVO would not do anything in order to
25 implement the decision sent to units in BH with the deadline on the 20th
1 of January by force." Document number P 1215.
2 As one can easily see, the decision was delivered to the
3 government of Bosnia and Herzegovina and to the department of defence.
4 This was an issue that had been resolved apparently, and this was an
5 integral solution aimed at achieving peace. One has to bear in mind that
6 Vance-Owen Peace Agreement envisaged a lot of Croats in the prevaces [As
7 interpreted] where the Croats did not constitute a majority before and
8 where about 20.000 soldiers of the HVO fought in the war. During the
9 same transition period, these same soldiers should have been under the
10 command of the BH army, and they accepted that.
11 As far as the nature of the decision is concerned as reported by
12 ECMM at a joint meeting organised in order to resolve any possible
13 misunderstandings, and I quote: "With regard to the decision of the HVO
14 itself to take over the direct control over all the troops that still
15 remain in its territory up to the 28th of January, him," meaning Prlic,
16 "regrets deeply that the agreement on creating the joint command between
17 BiH army and the HVO failed after five or six months of negotiations.
18 Still this decision --"
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] One moment. Can the counsel of
20 Dr. Prlic check the figures in English because in the interpretation I
21 get in French where we have direct interpretation from B/C/S into French,
22 I often don't have the same figures. For instance, line 25, page 92 [As
23 interpreted], I heard 1.212. I see 1215 in English. Page 83, line 14, I
24 have 28th of January and I heard 20th of January in French. Please check
25 because we might find it very difficult to locate the documents later.
1 MR. KARNAVAS: Thank you, Mr. President. First and foremost,
2 this is a written text which is has been provided to the translation
3 booths in Croatian of course. That's number one. Number two, there are
4 several in the 10s, perhaps even in the 20s of errors that have occurred.
5 We haven't stopped to correct each and every one of them. We will be
6 going over the text, and we will insist on a correction on every one of
7 these, and that goes for the numbers as well.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you. Please proceed,
9 Mr. Prlic.
10 THE ACCUSED PRLIC: [Interpretation] According to his words, and
11 I'm still being quoted, "The commander of BiH agreed with this decision,
12 and this is nothing but a direct consequence of the document that was
13 signed by Boban in Geneva
14 would not lead to any major changes because, for example, in Mostar the
15 1st Brigade of BiH is already under the command of the HVO." The same
16 document, P 1215 is the number of the document.
17 Documents in this case has -- have already shown, and the
18 witnesses of the Defence will confirm that the conflict in Gornji Vakuf
19 started much earlier than the 15th of January, much before that. The
20 time does not allow me to provide all the details of the events that
21 ensued. However, one shouldn't even say that the whole situation was
22 overcome in the spirit of peace forming, and again I would like to draw
23 your attention to the same document of the ECMM dated 19th January, and I
25 MR. KARNAVAS: Your Honour, it should read that it -- one should
1 say, line 19. In other words, it's axiomatic. It's absolutely certain
2 that this situation was resolved in overcoming this situation, that is in
3 the spirit of peace and cooperation, and I would urge, I would urge, I
4 would urge Dr. Prlic to please slow down, enunciate, pause.
5 THE ACCUSED PRLIC: [Interpretation] I quote: "After a minor
6 misunderstanding and an exchange of letters, letters enclosed and copies
7 between the government of Herceg-Bosna, Prlic, and the Presidency of BiH,
8 Prlic requested for a meeting to be organised as soon as possible between
9 Mr. Izetbegovic and Mr. Boban in Split. Such a meeting is necessary
10 because many issues have to be clarified and resolved particularly in
11 this time of uncertainty which was created by the new developments in
13 I would like to say at this moment one more thing that is very
14 interesting in this context. I have read a publication, the
15 International Conference For The Former Yugoslavia, the official
16 documents which has about 1.630 pages altogether and which contains the
17 reports of the co-chairpersons, the Secretary-General of the United
18 Nations, and I have also read the so-called career reports by the
19 representatives of the European Community in these negotiations, which
20 were submitted with the book and later withdrawn.
21 There was no single place in which I could find a reference to
22 the so-called ultimatum in January 1993. What I did find, however,
23 amongst other things, with regard to the negotiations which took place in
24 that month, was this that I'm going to quote in English from page 727:
25 [In English] "In that time the Croats signed all elements of the peace
1 package proposed by the co-chairmen and that international community,"
2 again quoting, "continuously support the peace package and invite other
3 two sides to sign the whole peace package so that its implementation
4 might start as soon as possible in order to finish the war."
5 [Interpretation] At the end, I would conclude this issue -- this
6 issue by saying that the decision on the withdrawal of the decision dated
7 15 January 1993
8 willingness of the Croatian Muslim leaderships to implement it. For
9 example, the president of the HZ HB, Boban, in keeping with his
10 competencies ordered that the decision be suspended in the same manner he
11 had decided for the decision to be passed. We saw the letter written in
12 his own hand on the paper of the hotel intercontinental in Zagreb. Mate
13 Boban wrote, and I quote: "I order you that in the course of the day you
14 schedule an interim meeting of the HVO HZ HB and change or amend item
15 number 5," document number 1D 0820.
16 MR. KARNAVAS: Mr. President, with the Court's indulgence, if
17 Mr. Prlic could read that last paragraph again slowly. For instance,
18 there is no word, "for example." There isn't -- that wasn't uttered.
19 It's not in the text. I know because my colleague instructs me that it
20 isn't, and I am familiar with the text as well. Because the point is
21 that Dr. Prlic is trying to make here is just as Mr. Boban had ordered
22 the decision to be drafted and issued, Mr. Boban again, given his
23 responsibilities and authorities, orders to have it withdrawn or put on
24 ice, as it were. So if Dr. Prlic could read that again, because those
25 are his words, not my words, and what I say is not evidence, but what he
1 says can be used as evidence, whatever weight the Trial Chamber wishes to
3 JUDGE TRECHSEL: If I may add an observation. I'm not quite sure
4 whether Mr. Prlic actually wanted to speak of a Croatian Muslim
5 leadership on line 6 of page 86. That's rather surprising.
6 MR. KARNAVAS: Well, I think the intention was that the
7 leaderships of the Croats and the Muslims could not find the common
8 ground, the willingness to go forward as we saw because it makes sense we
9 see that the Croats as one -- one said, they always had a pen in their
10 pocket ready to sign all these agreements, and in fact we see
11 continuously the Croats signing agreement after agreement after agreement
12 after agreement where Izetbegovic says one thing in the morning and
13 another thing in the evening.
14 JUDGE TRECHSEL: [Interpretation] In short, Mr. Karnavas, there's
15 a hyphen missing.
16 MR. KARNAVAS: Probably. Probably, but I think the point is, the
17 point that we're trying to drive at is that the Croats are constantly
18 signing, the others are being cajoled to go ahead, and Dr. Prlic is
19 saying there seems to be a lack of willingness, which is a generous way
20 of putting the Muslims don't want to go forward, but nonetheless, you
21 know, the person who issued the decision, which is Boban, you know, is
22 the one that now is also ordering them to withdraw it, hence who has the
23 power, who has the responsibility. Thank you.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I think the best thing to do is
25 for you to read that sentence you quoted again, but do it slowly, and
1 also for the transcript, I see my name line 11. For once I didn't say
2 anything. So it's Judge Trechsel, not me.
3 THE ACCUSED PRLIC: I don't know really what is the problem.
4 Mr. Karnavas speaks so fast that everything is possible to be translated.
5 I delivered 1.000 speeches, and I haven't spoke so slowly in my life, and
6 there is problem in that. So I am going to repeat once again.
7 [Interpretation] "At the end I would like to conclude about this
8 issue that decision to withdraw the decision issued on the 15th of
9 January was issued because it had been shown that there was no
10 willingness on the part of the Croatian and Muslim leaderships to
11 implement it."
12 So the president of the HZ HB, Mr. Boban, in keeping with his
13 competencies, ordered for the decision to be suspended in the same way he
14 had ordered the decision to be issued. We saw a letter written in his
15 own hand on the letterheaded paper of the Intercontinental Hotel in
17 order you to schedule an interim meeting of the HVO HZ HB in the course
18 of the day and change or amend item number 5." Document number 1D 0820.
19 And as we have already seen, the executive power did exactly what
20 Mr. Boban had ordered it to do and what Mr. Izetbegovic wanted.
21 Immediately after that, both document number P 1329 signed the
22 statement on the immediate stop of conflict. It is well known, and this
23 Trial Chamber is aware of the fact that in March the Muslim side signed
24 the integral package of Vance-Owen Plan. In that month we, however,
25 received a request from the government in Sarajevo to organise or
1 establish districts in the territories of Mostar and Livno that bore no
2 resemblance to the areas about which an agreement had already existed at
3 least between the Muslim and the Croat sides within the framework of
4 Vance-Owen Plan.
5 Subsequently the Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina also passed a
6 decision on the implementation of that plan regardless of the fact that a
7 bilateral implementation of the plan had been agreed. On the ground
8 decisions are being implemented or at least attempts are being made to
9 implement decision on the establishment of districts, which is really a
10 two-faced policy. At the same time, the HVO HZ HB at its session held on
11 the 3rd of April, 1993, adopted a programme of measures intended to
12 implement Vance-Owen Plan, which was a very complex task, a very tall
14 Later on, the federation of Bosniak and Croats was implemented
15 with the help of the international community over a period of almost five
16 years. These conclusions very clearly say that the HVO HZ HB and the
17 President Mate Boban was present at the session, was ready to dissolve
18 Herceg-Bosna. And as for the interim bodies of the executive bodies,
19 they were willing to transform into the provinces as envisaged by that
20 peace agreement. So those who tried to implement districts and at the
21 same time signed agreements on the implementation of Vance-Owen Plan were
22 engaged in two-faced policies.
23 The Prosecution is trying to establish a link between the session
24 of the provisional organ of the executive government of the 3rd of April
25 with the outbreak of the conflict, and there is no basis for this link.
1 Whoever accepts a peace plan, whoever is ready to disband the provisional
2 institutions that had been established, the party whose forces are
3 several times smaller than those of the other side will not engage in
4 conflict, would not start the conflict.
5 Defence witnesses will show that there is no causal link between
6 the 3rd of April meeting and the beginning of the conflict in April. To
7 a certain extent, the joint communique about the Croat-Muslim relations
8 speaks to that. On the 24th of April, this communique was presented
9 after talks in Zagreb
10 all the misunderstandings in the relations between the Croat and Muslim
11 peoples should be resolved using political means, that there is no reason
12 for any conflicts. All units are given orders to cease hostilities, to
13 release the prisoners, and to determine the responsibility and the
14 intentions of the formations and units for the outbreak of the
15 hostilities. That's P 2088.
16 I cannot now cover the whole time line in this overview, but in
17 my opinion, as our session draws to a close, I would like to say that
18 perhaps the last effort to prevent the conflict was the implementation of
19 the conclusions from the Medjugorje meeting on the 18th of May where
20 specific deadlines were set for the bilateral implementation of the
21 Vance-Owen Plan, which contrary to the Prosecution's allegations was not
22 dead by early May.
23 As the prime minister elect of the new government with the
24 support of both parties, I really tried to do everything I could to set
25 up the joint government and the Joint Command, being in charge of the
1 provisional organ -- or, rather, the vice-president Kresimir Zubak took
2 over as the head of the provisional organ, and I took my new duties. I
3 even set up a back-up seat of the government should it ever happen that
5 because the BH army launched the attack on Travnik and then on Kakanj,
6 which resulted in the expulsion of between 25.000 and 30.000 Croats from
7 those municipalities.
8 In its decision under Rule 98 bis, the Chamber mentioned the
9 declaration that I and Mr. Stojic made in October 1993 when the BH army
10 launched its attack on Mostar. It's a Prosecution exhibit. Let me
11 quote: "This morning at 4.45, a Muslim offensive was launched in order
12 to capture the entire urban area. On that occasion, the speech by the
13 4th Corps commander Arif Pasalic was broadcast over the local radio,
14 radio Mostar, where he said to the citizens of Mostar, Muslims, honest
15 Croats, and loyal Serbs." End of quote. Which is probably the kind of
16 Bosnia and Herzegovina that the Muslim side fought, at least was paying
17 lip-service to it, the Muslim side or the BH army.
18 Addressing the HVO, Pasalic mentions the disgraceful defeat you
19 suffered this morning, and he says, I quote: "The people -- to the
20 people, to the citizens of Mostar, understand that this is the judgement
21 day, the day when you have to start fighting. I call upon every citizen
22 able to bear a rifle or to throw a rock to kill the Ustasha villains
23 because there can be no co-existence with the Ustashas. Only Muslims can
24 live here with the honest Croats and loyal Serbs."
25 Such a fierce speech was rare in the history of Bosnia and
2 the years of war in the -- in Mostar and in besieged Sarajevo, the two
3 hot spots, and I entered Sarajevo
4 tunnel that had been dug under the airport runway. As a rule, every time
5 we got in or out we were under enemy fire.
6 The Prlic-Stojic communique was public. It was published in the
7 media. It calls upon Croats from the municipalities in Herzegovina to
8 resist the aggression, and as can be seen from the declaration by the
9 4th Corps commander, we can see from this declaration the true intentions
10 of the BH army.
11 This Chamber has already seen that on the very same day the
12 Muslim party -- parties reacted condemning this aggression from the joint
13 communique of the Muslim Democratic Party and the SDA - that's from
14 documents 2D 028 and 1D 1910 - and the president of the government of
15 Bosnia and Herzegovina informed the Secretary-General of the United
16 Nations about this attack, urging him to take every measure necessary to
17 prevent further aggression against the Croat people and the Croat areas
18 in Bosnia-Herzegovina and to ensure that the peace negotiations under
19 your auspices should continue.
20 In this memo the Secretary-General -- just 30 seconds. In this
21 memo, the Secretary-General says, I quote: "After the aggression in
22 Central Bosnia
23 military force to occupy the provinces that under the Vance-Owen Plan are
24 considered Croat provinces," and that's document 1D 2309, and that would
25 be all for today.
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Mr. Prlic, how much
2 more time would you need to finish?
3 THE ACCUSED PRLIC: I think that I need first session, almost
4 first session. I'm going to try to do it in an hour, but I'm not so
5 sure. But for sure in first session tomorrow. It was very slow. I
6 tried to, but ...
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Well, you were slow because of
8 Mr. Karnavas.
9 Well, we shall finish for today. We shall resume tomorrow, as
10 you know, at 2.15. Thank you.
--- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 7.04 p.m.
12 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 6th day
13 of May, 2008, at 2.15 p.m.