1 Monday, 19 May 2008
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 2.15 p.m.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Please call the case,
6 Mr. Registrar.
7 THE REGISTRAR: Good afternoon, Your Honours. Good afternoon,
8 everyone in and around the courtroom. This is case number IT-04-74-T,
9 the Prosecutor versus Prlic et al. Thank you, Your Honours.
10 JUDGE BONOMY: Thank you.
11 Today is Monday, 19th of May, 2008. Let me greet the
12 Prosecution, including Mr. Stringer, who is back with us after having
13 left us for quite some time; and good afternoon also to the Defence
14 counsel, to Mr. Khan, it's a pleasure for me to see him again here
15 because we had missed him these past few weeks; let me also greet the
16 accused and everyone assisting us in and around this courtroom.
17 I'm first going to give the floor to the registrar, he has to
18 give us some IC numbers following a number of filings for submission of
19 exhibits by the parties.
20 THE REGISTRAR: Thank you, Your Honour. Some parties have
21 submitted list of documents to be tendered through Witness Damir Zoric.
22 The list submitted by 1D shall be given exhibit number IC 00791. The
23 list submitted by the OTP shall be given exhibit number IC 00792. The
24 list submitted by 3D shall be given exhibit number IC 00793. And the
25 list submitted by 4D shall be given exhibit number IC 00974. Thank you,
1 Your Honours.
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you.
3 I believe that Mr. Scott wants to take the floor.
4 MR. SCOTT: Good afternoon, Mr. President, each of Your Honours,
5 counsel, all those in and around the courtroom who are assisting us.
6 Your Honour, I need to raise with the Chamber, and I hope we can
7 take it rather briefly because I'm hoping that there won't be -- in light
8 of the circumstances there won't be any objection to this, in fact. In
9 the past several days the Prosecution has received - and again I thank
10 the Defence for providing it - but has received a large volume of
11 material that's either just been translated or not translated yet at all.
12 Since approximately Friday of last week we've received this much
13 material, and, Your Honour, again I'm not saying anything more than
14 that's what we've received. I'm not saying anything about good or bad
15 faith. I do appreciate counsel providing it to us.
16 But the bottom line, Your Honour, is that the Prosecution is once
17 again in a position where we cannot possibly prepare to cross-examination
18 this witness this week. There's just simply too much material that we've
19 received for the first time and we will ask -- we do ask the Chamber to
20 postpone cross-examination to a future date so that we can study this
21 material and obtain it in translation. Thank you.
22 MR. KARNAVAS: If I may be heard for the record, Mr. President.
23 On Thursday we provided the Prosecution with a report that was prepared
24 by Mr. Rebic a couple of years ago, and it was only until Thursday that I
25 saw it in translation, that's the report entitled: "My Report at the
1 Office for Displaced Persons and Refugees." So they received it the same
2 time that I received it to work from it, number one.
3 Number two -- and that's 1D 02921. Everyone has been provided
4 with it.
5 Number two, if you will see, in the very last line of paragraph 1
6 it says that this report was done -- the last sentence says was done from
7 his diary, which consists of around 200 pages. When I saw that I asked
8 that Mr. Rebic bring his diary over here in the event the Prosecution
9 wanted it, unlike other UN agencies, for instance, which have appeared
10 before here and have refused to provide their written notes, we are
11 willing to provide all of this to the Prosecution and to everyone else.
12 Those notes -- and I believe that's 1D 02922.
13 Those notes we are not tendering in as evidence. They were
14 provided merely in the event the Prosecution wanted to check what's in
15 the notes to see whether the notes are consistent with this particular
16 report that Mr. Rebic did a couple of years ago. So it was out of
17 courtesy. I could have easily have deleted this line and not requested
18 the notes and nobody would have been the wiser of it. And I am saying
19 that because at times it appears in this courtroom that our integrity is
20 being questioned and I won't say by whom. I'm not suggesting that it's
21 Mr. Scott, but it is a touchy issue with us.
22 So in any event, we -- I have not looked at these 200 pages of
23 notes because they're in Croatian; I cannot read them. Now, I understand
24 the Prosecution's dilemma. I would say that it would be highly
25 inconvenient for Mr. Rebic to come here and the Prosecution was provided
1 with this document.
2 Next I would say that I find it rather alarming that it's -- this
3 is raised now, on Monday, when for instance had I been contacted on
4 Saturday - and I'm making this comment henceforward so everybody can
5 say - and I don't want to set a precedent for the other Defence, but I
6 have absolutely no problem with the Prosecution meeting with our
7 witnesses in The Hague
8 asked to meet with them to go over any portions of the diary. They do
9 have Croatian speakers on their staff, if they wanted to check anything
10 in particular. So I would object to this request of the Prosecution.
11 If, however, the Trial Chamber is inclined to take them up on it, I would
12 say that Dr. Rebic would be scheduled to come back sometime in the fall
13 because, simply, we cannot accommodate the Prosecution in the very near
14 future because our witnesses are more or less locked in. If you look at
15 their positions, it's very difficult to get somebody to commit a whole
16 week of their lifetime without quite a bit of advance notice.
17 So in any event I bring that up and I understand the
18 Prosecution's position, but I want to make sure that they understand that
19 I'm at the same disadvantage as they are, although I do respect their
20 request to have ample time to go through the notes. And again because
21 there are handwritten notes in addition to I guess some typewritten
22 pages, if they wish to consult with Dr. Rebic I have absolutely no
23 problem with that. So the offer is there and my objection is on the
24 record. Thank you.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Let me sum up. In these
1 binders here we have exhibits 1D 2921, it's been translated into English
2 and it's entitled: "My Work at the Office for Refugees and Displaced
3 Persons." This document was prepared by Mr. Rebic. In the English
4 version this document has 36 pages to be precise. If you are familiar
5 with this case, it should not be tremendous amount of work to read these
6 36 pages.
7 Furthermore, I believe that during the examination-in-chief the
8 Defence through Mr. Karnavas will raise a number of issues developed in
9 that report. Furthermore, we have a second document, it's a much longer
10 document, it's Exhibit 1D 02922. These are notes, personal notes,
11 written in B/C/S, they have not been translated, and it's a total of 213
12 pages. These are notes that have been handed over to the Defence
13 counsel, who can't speak B/C/S, during the proofing of the witness.
14 Mr. Karnavas who, since I've known him for two years now, has always
15 demanded that witnesses hand over their personal notes; that's why he's
16 now -- he has submitted these personal notes for the Prosecution to be
17 aware of them. But Mr. Karnavas has added that he would not tender
18 document 2922. That's the way things stand at the moment. The Chamber
19 will consider the request of the Prosecution to decide whether the
20 Prosecution will conduct the cross-examination or not.
21 But without further ado, we'll have the witness brought in.
22 Yes, Mr. Scott.
23 MR. SCOTT: Thank you, Your Honour. I do want to before the
24 Chamber deliberates on the point, first off I have been very careful.
25 Everyone in the courtroom, of course, is sensitive to their good name,
1 reputation, and good faith, and the Prosecution is no different in that
2 respect than everyone else. And I was once again very careful not to
3 base any of this on any allegation of bad faith. But be that as it may,
4 it doesn't change the bottom line in that the Prosecution has been
5 provided information that it cannot -- it cannot reasonably deal with in
6 the short amount of time that it has now to prepare. I emphasize this,
7 Your Honour, in light of other issues that we've previously brought to
8 the Chamber's attention, and I will briefly remind the Chamber not to
9 consider this issue in isolation.
10 We have a situation where we have been receiving, and
11 Mr. Karnavas knows that he and I have been engaged in ongoing dialogue
12 about this, what the Prosecution continues to consider insufficient Rule
13 65 ter summaries. They're general. Again, I understand the difficulties
14 of getting with these witnesses and getting the information, but again
15 the bottom line is Rule 65 ter (g) requires meaningful summaries of the
16 facts that the witness is going to put forward to be summarized and
17 provided to both the Chamber, not just the Prosecution but to the
18 Chamber. It is not simply a listing of topics, of positions that the
19 witness has held, or the topics that will be explained. It is the
20 evidence of the witness. It is a summary of the evidence of the facts of
21 the witness that will be put forward. Both the Chamber is at a
22 continuing disadvantage and the Prosecution is at a continuing
23 disadvantage when we do not have adequate summaries.
24 Now, compound that with the fact that for most of these
25 witnesses, many of these witnesses, we also do not have any prior
1 statement of the witness, unlike the Prosecution witnesses in which
2 statements of these witnesses -- of our witnesses were provided sometimes
3 years, literally years in advance, unlike here. So now we have a
4 situation where we're getting in our view, respectful submission,
5 inadequate summaries, no statements, and then trying to prepare and then
6 we get this much material on short notice. And again, I appreciate
7 Mr. Karnavas sending it to us in various pieces over the last couple of
8 days, I appreciate that, but the bottom line, Your Honour, is it does not
9 provide the Prosecution an adequate opportunity to review this material.
10 It is not -- it is simply the rules -- the rules are the rules, and I
11 made the point the other day that if there are rules that apply to
12 everyone, that applied to the parties and apply to the Chamber. The
13 rules require a certain process to be followed in terms of disclosure,
14 and this is not -- this is not the process. It is not up to the
15 Prosecution to scramble, to put the burden on us to scramble when parties
16 don't meet the rules. And so that is the bottom line. We cannot do
17 this, Your Honour, it's not fair. Whenever this happened in the
18 Prosecution case, what the Chamber consistently did was defer the
19 cross-examination until all the material could be studied, translated and
20 studied, and the Chamber did that consistently during the Prosecution
21 case, and I'm sure the Chamber will not treat the Prosecution different
22 than it treated the Defence.
23 MR. KARNAVAS: If I may just briefly respond because I do wish to
24 get on with the testimony. When it comes to personal notes, the
25 Prosecution obviously could not compel certain witnesses, albeit they
1 came in from certain organizations where you would expect there to be
2 some sort of transparency, he could not compel them to turn over their
3 notes very well. Here there is no rule that I have to turn over
4 handwritten notes to anyone, and I could have easily not done so and we
5 wouldn't be in this discussion. However, in fairness because the
6 gentleman indicated that this report was made from his handwritten note
7 or his diary I thought, you know, it would be best to turn it over.
8 I received -- when I received this diary was on Thursday, this
9 Thursday, when I received it in English. Without even reading it, I
10 basically glanced at it, my first reaction was: Turn it over. There's
11 no prejudice to the Prosecution in my opinion. Have they read this, they
12 would see, for instance, if they wanted any particular incident they
13 could then go to the note, they have B/C/S speakers. So it's not at
14 their disadvantage, that's number one.
15 Number two, I know that there's an ongoing dialogue and to the
16 extent the Prosecution wishes additional information, we do provide it.
17 For instance, there was one witness, I won't mention his name because
18 he's a protected witness, but they asked for additional information. I
19 brought it to their attention that, number one, the OTP took a statement
20 from that particular witness in 1996. That statement in and of itself
21 covers the entire testimony. OTP statement taken from a witness over a
22 period of two days in 1996. That witness also testified and Mr. Scott
23 was the one that cross-examined the witness. So how can that -- what
24 more do they need? He's going to be speaking about the events. The
25 events are locked into a particular set of time, time frame. With this
1 particular witness let's be realistic also. Mr. Zoric testified,
2 Mr. Zoric was the number two. If you look at the documents that we
3 intend to go through with Mr. Rebic, many, many, many of them have
4 already gone through -- we've gone through Dr. Zoric. The subject matter
5 is the same. So there's -- there are no real surprises.
6 Now, I understand as a matter of principle, the Prosecution is
7 laying down their marker for future purposes. I leave it to the Court's
8 discretion, but at some point enough is enough. We have to decide.
9 We're not -- you -- and I just want to say this and I say it with the
10 utmost respect, I know I have my disagreements with some members of the
11 Trial Chamber, but I'll be very, very blunt: This Trial Chamber cannot
12 compel me to provide a statement from a witness. It cannot do so. It's
13 not called for in the Statute, it's not for in the rules, and it would be
14 ultra vires for this Trial Chamber to do so against Dr. Prlic or anyone
15 else in this courtroom at the exclusion of everybody else who has come
16 before this Tribunal. It's an adversarial system. I chose not to go
17 into the mechanics, but Mr. Khan did so in a very eloquent way, but
18 basically this is the way it is. And so I do provide whatever I'm
19 required to provide. If they need additional information, I do. I do so
20 in a timely fashion to the extent that is possible.
21 Now, had I received this document earlier, I would have turned it
22 over earlier, but I understand -- and again, it's not -- this is not
23 directed towards Mr. Scott, but there seems to be an impression that's
24 being created that somehow we are being less than forthright with the
25 parties and the Court. And I want to make sure that at least to the
1 extent that I am aware of the Prlic Defence, every single member of the
2 Prlic Defence is extremely professional, ethical, and honest and if there
3 is an error I take full responsibility. But in this instance, when I get
4 it I turn it over. And like I said, I saw the 200 pages and my first
5 reaction was my God, now I've got to turn it over. And my second
6 reaction was to my colleague is the Prosecution is more likely than not
7 going to ask for a continuance of the cross-examination because I know
8 what their position is going to be.
9 So I leave it to -- I leave it to Your Honours. But I would say
10 before you hear -- before you make a decision perhaps we should hear the
11 direct examination, and then I would also urge that we go forward, at
12 least with some cross, so that the gentleman doesn't have to come back.
13 He's very old. He's had heart surgery. He has an extremely busy
14 schedule. It's very difficult for me to meet with him, and I don't think
15 it's convenient for me to be telling every one of my witnesses you're
16 going to have to come back because this is a good way for me to lose
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The Chamber will deliberate on
20 We've just spent 20 minutes dealing with this, and I have two
21 things to say. First of all - and this is my own personal opinion - as
22 the Presiding Judge I have to say this. We have a document here that's
23 216 pages long. It's a document in B/C/S. Of course that can be
24 problematic, but when I turn my eyes to the Prosecution desks I see here
25 that we have four representatives of the OTP and one is enough, the
1 others could very well meet with a staff member of the OTP who can speak
2 B/C/S and during the examination-in-chief they could work on these 216
3 pages to find out if there's anything of importance in these 216 pages.
4 Secondly, this problem is likely to occur time and time again.
5 I've had a look at Mr. Prlic's witness list until the 3rd of July. I've
6 noted that a number of prominent persons will come and testify. They
7 probably have personal notes, and we run the risk of being faced with
8 this situation time and time again. If a witness arrives and submits his
9 personal notes to Mr. Karnavas, 200, 400, 1.000 pages of notes, then the
10 Prosecution will tell us, We can't cross-examine. This situation may
11 occur time and time again because the witnesses we are going to have in
12 the near future are not victims; they are people who held high positions.
13 And if these witnesses come here with their personal notes, we might be
14 faced with documents in B/C/S counting hundreds of pages. We can't in
15 every case postpone the cross-examination. These are inherent
16 constraints we have here. We have to take this into account.
17 Let me remind you that the burden of proof rests on the
18 Prosecution, and based on this principle the Defence is not obligated to
19 anything. The only thing the Defence has to do is when calling its own
20 witnesses to provide a list of the exhibits and to provide summaries.
21 These are the obligations of the Defence based on the Rules of Procedure
22 and Evidence.
23 What concerns me is about the following witnesses - I'm not going
24 to give their names, some of them may be protected - but I'm concerned
25 that we might find ourselves in the same situation time and time again.
1 Let me add that anybody who is familiar with this case is in a position
2 and has to be able to deal with any document. What do the Judges do when
3 they arrive at the hearing? Well, they receive three binders and they
4 have to be ready to work with these binders; otherwise, they could say,
5 Oh, we have to stop for two weeks and we'll postpone the hearing for two
6 weeks. But why not? But then the trial would go on for about 20 years.
7 Each and every one of us has to make an effort here. Of course some
8 requests are legitimate, but there comes a time when we shouldn't go too
10 Mr. Scott.
11 MR. SCOTT: Your Honour, with the greatest respect I must say
12 that I'm shocked by the Chamber's -- by the President's comments just
13 now. What I've just heard the Chamber say is: We don't have time to
14 enforce the rules and if the rules can't be complied with so be it. I
15 will not be put on the defensive on this issue, I will not have the
16 Prosecution put on the defensive this issue. There are rules to be
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Scott --
19 MR. SCOTT: I will stop and then I will continue, Your Honour.
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] -- there must be a mistake in
21 the translation. I've never said that -- you always interrupt me when I
22 speak, but before you do so check what I've said. I've never said what
23 you've just told us about the Rules. I've said that as part of the Rules
24 of Procedure and Evidence the only obligation of the Defence is to
25 provide the list of the exhibits and the summaries. That's what I said.
1 I didn't say anything more. You are interpreting my words. Of course
2 there might be a mistake in the translation, and that's why you may have
3 not quite understood what I was talking about.
4 MR. SCOTT: No, Your Honour, again with great respect what I was
5 referring to was your comments just a few meant moments ago when you were
6 concerned that this same procedure, this same situation, can develop in
7 the future and that if it happened it would result in delaying the trial.
8 That is my concern. And what the Chamber has -- excuse me, not the
9 Chamber, Mr. President, what you were then saying is that because it
10 would delay the trial we can't follow the Rules and that is fundamentally
11 inconsistent as I was beginning to say when I deferred back to the
12 President. Your Honour, I will not be put in the defensive -- on the
13 defensive on this issue. I will not have the Prosecution put on the
14 defensive on this issue. The Prosecution is doing its job. There are
15 rules to be followed here. I did not accuse Mr. Karnavas of any bad
16 faith, but the bottom line is the rules have to be enforced and there are
17 disclosure rules and they have not been followed, perhaps in good faith,
18 they have not be satisfied in this case. I will not be the one in this
19 courtroom to be put on the defensive when I am the one that's only just
20 now received this material, and it is not up to my staff to stand up all
21 night trying to read 213 pages of untranslated B/C/S material just so
22 this trial can go forward when people don't comply with the rules.
23 And I am shocked. I am shocked by the President's statements. I
24 hope the rest of the Chamber will have a more reasoned view and that the
25 Chamber will do what it's done in the past and there will be an
1 opportunity for the Prosecution to have this material in ample time
2 translated to be able to prepare for cross-examination which is its right
3 to do.
4 MR. KHAN: Your Honour --
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Khan, I can't let Mr. Scott
6 say that.
7 Mr. Scott is shocked. He's very easily shocked. I don't know
8 why. He's shocked hearing me say that when I look at the table of
9 witnesses who will come and testify until the 3rd of July I find that
10 there are a lot of witnesses who may, who may, bring personal notes when
11 they come to The Hague
12 weekend Mr. Karnavas will submit these notes to the Prosecution because
13 the gentleman will come on the 9th of June, for example, is likely to
14 produce personal notes. He may do so, he might not do so. But if he
15 does so, if he submits personal notes we will find ourselves in the exact
16 same situation --
17 MR. SCOTT: We will, Your Honour and --
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] -- I don't understand why
19 you're shocked --
20 MR. KHAN: Your Honour, I do apologise --
21 MR. SCOTT: [Microphone not activated].
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] -- when I'm talking about
23 something that could very well happen.
24 MR. KHAN: -- sorry, I do apologies. Your Honour I do apologies.
25 This is not a jack-in-the-box system of justice in which people can
1 simply stand up and start responding to the Bench as if there is an
2 equality between all three parties in the court --
3 MR. SCOTT: [Microphone not activated] -- specifically his
4 comments to me, and I asked to respond directly to the President's
6 MR. KHAN: Your Honour, perhaps if I can just say something that
7 may assist and of course my learned friend can respond with your leave at
8 the end. And Your Honour, it is with an endeavour to assist. One cannot
9 but help recollect the comments of your learned brother, Judge Prandler,
10 some weeks ago in which he drew attention to the vast amount of time that
11 has been taken to procedural matters. Your Honour, in making
12 submissions, it behooves us not as laypersons but as attorneys who are
13 licensed to practice and who should have and who have experience as
14 lawyers to follow a somewhat disciplined approach.
15 Now, Your Honour, just looking at this instance in the court for
16 the last half an hour, it views -- it displays, in my respectful
17 submission, a microcosm of one of the maladies that have afflicted, in my
18 very respectful submission, some of the proceedings.
19 My learned friend started off with a specific application, he
20 said it would not take long, and it referred in essence to the documents
21 produced by my learned friend Mr. Karnavas and in particular, perhaps, 1D
22 02922, and that was the thrust of the application. That was responded to
23 by my learned friend Mr. Karnavas. Now, the first point I have to make
24 is that under the Rules there is no right of reply to an issue. All
25 pertinent grounds must be raised in an application of first instance.
1 My learned friend stood up and in his reply he expanded his
2 objection to these old chestnuts, if I put it colloquially, about the
3 insufficiency of a 65 ter statement, his being -- his lament at not
4 having prior statements. Your Honours, how many times in a court of law
5 does it behoove the parties to go over the same ground? It expands the
6 ambit of procedural matters completely unnecessarily.
7 My learned friend has said and his exact words were "rules are
8 the rules." He's very adamant the rules are the rules, that I agree.
9 Well, in that case my learned friend is a lawyer and I do -- I do have to
10 say with the greatest respect, one should refer to the rules and say in
11 what respect is there non-compliance. Of course the duties of the
12 Prosecution under 66 and 68 are specific, they are different to the
13 obligations of the Defence because they emanate from the burden of proof
14 and their responsibility to bring a case and to prove it. Your Honour,
15 in this instance of course we don't have, to use that awful phrase, and
16 we don't have a dog in this fight, but in relation to 1D 02922 there's no
17 obligation on the Defence to produce documents that they're not seeking
18 to use. If my learned friend has produced a document over and beyond the
19 call of the Rules simply to let my learned friend have a view of the
20 case, but is not seeking to use that document, I don't see for the life
21 of me how a party that has no right to such document can be said to be
23 But, Your Honour, be that as it may, I think it only behooves us
24 to be rather disciplined as lawyers in our approach to all matters, legal
25 submissions and responses, but unless we, you know, grasp this nettle
1 these are going to be very painful proceedings and much longer than they
2 should otherwise be.
3 Your Honour, I do apologise to my learned friend for interrupting
4 him. It is with a spirit of cooperation. Of course he can respond to
5 whatever I have said that may have merit or not have merit and of course
6 to what Mr. President said earlier with their leave. I'm grateful.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Well, Mr. Scott, for the
8 umpteenth time you have the floor to reply.
9 MR. SCOTT: Well, Your Honour, that's really not necessarily
10 either, with all respect.
11 I am quite confident that if the -- that if anyone who cares to
12 take the time to analyse the amount of time spent on procedural matters
13 in this case, I am a hundred per cent confident that the Chamber would
14 find the Prosecution has spent a hugely small, incontestably small
15 percentage of that time. I will not apologise. I will not apologise for
16 raising issues which I believe that I'm professionally obligated to raise
17 in the interests of the Prosecution, in the interests of the victims and
18 the international community which we represent. I will not apologise for
19 that if I think that I'm doing my job, and again I think we have used our
20 time, the record will show, quite sparingly.
21 Now, I did not expand our position except to answer the questions
22 that Mr. Karnavas has raised and then, Your Honour, points that you made.
23 I was speaking in direct response to that.
24 We believe that these are important matters, Your Honour, and
25 it's because I agree with you that this could arise with future witnesses
1 that it can be dealt with. If that's the case then Mr. Karnavas knows
2 who his witnesses are, and these materials can be obtained in advance in
3 a timely way and submitted for translation. Now, why -- you know, he
4 knows which witnesses are coming between now and July, there is a
5 telephone, he can call them up, have you made prior statements, are there
6 additional documents that you provided to us, did you keep a diary, and
7 if so it can be provided. But, you know, it's not my fault. Maybe it's
8 not Mr. Karnavas's completely fault, but it's certainly not the
9 Prosecution's fault that we only received this material just now and the
10 remedy is not to ignore it. The remedy is not to dismiss the
11 Prosecution's concerns. The remedy is indeed to enforce the rules about
12 disclosure and fair conduct. Fair conduct.
13 I'm a little bit -- I'm a little bit, I have to say I'm a little
14 bit - what should the word should I use? - perturbed, concerned when I
15 say, Well, the Rules don't require. Well, I'm sure that everyone in the
16 courtroom -- well, presumably everyone in the courtroom wants to conduct
17 themselves in a fair way and not do the bare minimum, the bare minimum
18 that may perhaps the Rules require. And that's the position, Your
20 So let me be very clear with the greatest respect to the Chamber,
21 and I have great respect for all four of you. But in all fairness I am
22 not apologetic for our position. I will not be defensive about it.
23 There are rules about disclosure, we have just received it, and we will
24 insist in the future, and if it happens again, Your Honour is absolutely
25 right, I will be on my feet again. And if it means doing it every time
1 I'll do it every time for the Rules to be enforced in a fair and
2 reasonable way. That's all that the Prosecution has asked for. Thank
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well.
5 Let's have the witness brought in.
6 The Trial Chamber recalls that it has granted four hours for the
8 [The witness entered court]
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Good afternoon, sir. Let me
10 first check that you can hear me. If you can hear me, please say so.
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good afternoon to everyone.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well.
13 Could you please, sir, state your name, first name and date of
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I'm Adalbert Rebic, the 23rd of
16 January, 1937.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I am under the impression that
18 I can't hear the French booth, but I see that you were born on the 23rd
19 of January, 1937. Can you tell me if you have a current occupation?
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I have retired from the Zagreb
21 university where I used to teach at its faculty of theology. Partially,
22 however, I'm still busy as the director of Krscansk Sadasnjost which is a
23 publishing house.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Sir, have you had an
25 opportunity to testify before a national or international court as to the
1 events that took place in the former Yugoslavia or is this the first time
2 you're going to testify?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This is the first time I appear
4 before this Tribunal.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Please read out the solemn
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will
8 speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
9 WITNESS: ADALBERT REBIC
10 [Witness answered through interpreter]
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, sir. Please be
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Some brief explanations on my
15 part. Mr. Karnavas is the counsel you're bound to have met, probably he
16 told you the same thing, but I'd rather say it again. This is a trial of
17 Anglo-Saxon type, if I may say, and you are to answer, first, questions
18 put to you by Mr. Karnavas, who's on your left. He is going to ask
19 questions of you and submit documents to you.
20 You have four Judges in front of you. They too, based on the
21 documents or based on your answers, can ask questions in order to shed
22 light on specific parts of your answers. The Prosecutor is sitting on
23 your right. As part of the cross-examination - it may be this week or
24 later, the Trial Chamber will decide later - the Prosecutor will ask
25 questions as part of the cross-examination. But the counsel representing
1 other accused because Mr. Karnavas is the representative of Mr. Prlic but
2 there are other accused, their counsel can after Mr. Karnavas has
3 completed his examination-in-chief ask questions as part of the
4 cross-examination carried out by other accused.
5 You are a professor, so you know better than anyone that you are
6 supposed to answer briefly, whilst the questions put to you may be very
7 complex and complicated. So do endeavour to highlight the most relevant
8 parts in your answers because everything you are about to say is going to
9 be recorded. This is the reason why you have on the screen before you
10 our words as they have been interpreted.
11 If you do not understand the meaning of a question, do not
12 hesitate to ask the one putting the question to you to reformulate it.
13 As a matter of a rule we have a break every an hour and a half and they
14 last 20 minutes. But if at any time you do not feel, you want to have a
15 break, if you need a rest, there again do not hesitate to say so and I
16 shall call for a break.
17 We're supposed to be sitting in the afternoons until Thursday.
18 On Thursday we will finish at the latest around 6.30 in the afternoon,
19 6.25 or 6.30. You have just made a solemn declaration; therefore, you
20 are a witness of the Court and you're not supposed to have any contact
21 with Defence counsel or with the Prosecutor, otherwise your testimony
22 would not have the same value. If at any point in time you feel a need
23 to ask a question of the Judges, we're here to answer any question you
24 may have.
25 This being said, I'm now going to give the floor to Mr. Karnavas.
1 He has - and I'm looking at the watch - he has four hours.
2 MR. KARNAVAS: Good afternoon again Mr. President, Your Honours.
3 Good afternoon, everyone in and around the court.
4 Examination by Mr. Karnavas:
5 Q. Good afternoon, Mr. Rebic.
6 A. Good afternoon.
7 Q. With the Court's permission and unless there are objections from
8 the Prosecution I would ask some leading questions regarding the
9 gentleman's background, just the background, to save some time.
10 As I understand it, Dr. Rebic, you hold a doctorate degree in
11 theology or philosophy; is that correct?
12 A. It is correct.
13 Q. You got your Ph.D. in the Gregorian institute or the Gregorian
14 Papal University in Rome
15 A. That is correct; however, my Ph.D. is in theology rather than
17 Q. In theology, that's correct. And, in fact, you did your
18 dissertation in Germany
19 A. That is correct.
20 Q. And speaking of languages, you speak several languages, including
21 German, French, English, I believe Hebrew, you understand fluently
22 Slovenian, and there might be another language -- and you speak Italian
23 as well?
24 A. That is right. I spent eight years studying in Rome; however, I
25 must say that some of my languages are better than others. I used to
1 teach Hebrew, for years I taught at the university. The Hebrew language
2 that the Old Testament and the Bible had been written in. I can
3 understand the Israelites in Israel
4 that they use there and I have a certain degree of difficulty
5 understanding it since one needs to be immersed into it to be able to
6 understand it fully.
7 Q. All right. And as I understand it you've published over 20
8 books, and you've written over 20 books, and you have also translated
9 over 35; is that correct?
10 A. That is right.
11 Q. And with respect to your testimony here today and for the rest of
12 the week, from 1991 to 1996 you were the head of the Office for Displaced
13 Persons and Refugees for the Republic of Croatia
14 A. That is correct.
15 Q. And I believe for one year, I believe it was 1995, you served as
16 a minister without portfolio?
17 A. That is right.
18 Q. All right. Now, before we get into the documents I thought I
19 would ask a series of general questions that might be of some importance
20 to everyone and it will lay out more or less the outline for the
21 remainder of your testimony on direct examination. First and foremost,
22 as I understand it, over the years, 1991 to 1996, you had many
23 opportunities to be with Dr. Tudjman, who was the president of the
24 Republic of Croatia
25 A. That is correct.
1 Q. You sat at meetings, government meetings, where he presided?
2 A. Yes, government meetings and at various meetings at which the
3 issue of displaced persons and refugees was discussed.
4 Q. All right. Now, it's the Prosecution's theory that President
5 Tudjman had a vision, a wish, to recreate the Banovina Hrvatska, and in
6 attempting to do so he was trying to carve up Bosnia and Herzegovina
7 during the period that you were serving as the head of the Office of
8 Displaced Persons and Refugees. Now, could you please describe to us and
9 tell us based on your insight, based on your association with Dr. Tudjman
10 and your participating -- participation in meetings what you believe
11 Dr. Tudjman's position was concerning the Banovina Hrvatska and the
12 carving up of Bosnia and Herzegovina?
13 A. Dr. Tudjman was a historian; as such, he knew very well that
14 Croats and Serbs before World War II had agreed to provide greater
15 autonomy to Croats. In that regard, Croatia
16 territory of what is today Bosnia-Herzegovina, where they made up the
17 majority of the population. That entity, the Banovina, fell through in
18 1944 and --
19 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's correction, 1941.
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] -- when the independent Republic of
22 with the fate of Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Tudjman busied himself
23 with an idea of reviving the old agreement between the Serbs and Croats.
24 He didn't break up Bosnia-Herzegovina. Before Tudjman we had the Serbian
25 aggression, the Serbian aggression caused Bosnia-Herzegovina not only to
1 come under attack but also to break up. When the peoples of
2 Bosnia-Herzegovina decided to become independent, much the same the
3 Croatian and Slovenian citizens had done before them, it was then that
4 Dr. Tudjman, who by that time had become the president of the Republic of
7 Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which became internationally recognised
8 at some point. He respected its borders and integrity. In different
9 negotiations there were attempts to carve up Bosnia-Herzegovina into
10 certain parts within its state borders, and I have in mind the cantons.
11 It was Tudjman who was always trying to make sure that the Croatian
12 people in Bosnia-Herzegovina should be not left behind since they lived
13 there for 13 centuries and he wanted to ensure their survival alongside
14 the other two peoples, the Serbians and the Bosniaks. They were supposed
15 to be a constituent part of that state of Bosnia-Herzegovina alongside
16 the other two peoples.
17 It is my belief and my impression he stood by that position until
18 his death. After Bosnia-Herzegovina had been recognised, he never wanted
19 to tamper with its integrity.
20 Q. All right. Now, with respect to the Office of Displaced Persons
21 and Refugees, it has been alleged that it played a part in a joint
22 criminal enterprise in that at some point part of this criminal
23 enterprise was to ethnically cleanse Bosnia-Herzegovina of its Muslim
24 population in certain areas, and your office was used as sort of a
25 transit centre, you used camps as transit centres in order to get Muslims
1 from Bosnia-Herzegovina as far away from Bosnia-Herzegovina with the
2 expectation or hope that they would not return.
3 Let me ask this question. To your understanding, while you were
4 there as head of the office, was your office used in any way for any
5 criminal purposes?
6 A. No, never. Our office was a humanitarian entity rather than a
7 political one. Our main task was to work under difficult wartime
8 conditions in the area of the former Yugoslavia, trying to take care of
9 all those in plight, including our own Croatian citizens who when certain
10 parts of Croatia
11 had been expelled from their homes and as early as 1991, towards the end
12 of that year, we had around 400.000 displaced persons. When the conflict
13 or the aggression directed at the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina took
14 place, from Bosnia-Herzegovina itself, numerous refugees came who were
15 citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina seeking refuge in the Republic of Croatia
16 As the governmental office in charge of displaced persons and refugees,
17 to the extent possible, we provided decent accommodation for them.
18 One needs to bear in mind that at different times we had over 1
19 million of refugees and displaced persons, meaning that some of them were
20 Croatian citizens while others were people from Bosnia-Herzegovina and we
21 had to take care of them. Approximately that is 12 to 15 per cent of the
22 population of the Republic of Croatia
23 When we add our own displaced persons to that figure, it rose up to 20
24 per cent. It would be the same as if, say, today in Germany you had 20
25 million displaced persons and refugees. Try and imagine how a powerful
1 economy such as the German one would cope with 20 million of displaced
2 persons and refugees.
3 One also needs to bear in mind that Croatia at the time it was
4 under attack itself almost one-quarter of the country had been occupied
5 by Serbs and paramilitary Serb units. The economy was crippled.
6 However, we did muster courage with enormous support of our own citizens
7 and assistance of international organizations, first and foremost the
8 UNHCR and European Union, and we did manage to provide accommodation for
9 the displaced persons and refugees. In no circumstances could one say
10 that Croatia
11 anyone. That would be playing a very dirty trick upon the Croatian state
12 and its people.
13 Q. Let me interrupt. I'm going to ask you a series of questions,
14 rather short answers, and then I can follow up. Okay.
15 Now, first of all, again general questions. Displaced
16 persons/refugees, to your understanding did your office make a
17 distinction between, you know, as far as treatment - we understand the
18 legal difference, what a displaced person is and what a refugee - but did
19 your office make a distinction with respect to treatment, whether it be
20 accommodation, whether it be food, whether it be education? Can you
21 comment on that?
22 A. To the extent possible for us, there was no distinction in terms
23 of the treatment of those two categories. To me personally these people
24 were people in plight who needed help.
25 Q. All right. Now, what about accommodation, because we heard one
1 particular witness come here, Azra Krajsek, who had quite a few
2 complaints, allegations I should say, but let's talk about accommodation.
3 Did your office reserve, say, the better accommodation for displaced
4 Croats and then say refugees of Croatian origins from Bosnia-Herzegovina,
5 and then sort of gave the Muslims or Serbs or whoever else whatever was
6 left over? What was the procedure?
7 A. In principle, the procedure applied the same way to everyone, the
8 displaced persons and the refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina. However, one
9 needs to know that Croatia
10 displaced persons in Croatia
11 accommodated in various available types of accommodation at the time.
12 What I have in mind are lower-ranking hotels, private homes, and the
13 homes of anyone who was willing to temporarily accommodate them. Of
14 course at the time no one had any idea as to how long the war would last.
15 We all thought that it would cease shortly, and after that we expected
16 the people to be able to return to their homes. It was only after that
17 that the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina took place. An enormous amount of
18 refugees flooded over the border from Bosnia-Herzegovina. At that point
19 we were exhausted. It was barely possible to find any accommodation for
20 such great numbers of people.
21 One also needs to bear in mind that in 1992 we had around 400.000
22 refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina, alongside 250.000 our own Croatian
23 citizens who were displaced. In such circumstances, it became a miracle
24 to find good accommodation. For the refugees we tried to come up with
25 certain locations along the Adriatic
1 vacation spots for workers --
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, excuse me, I have a
3 problem with the end of your answer. I'd like you to shed some more
4 light on this. You make a distinction between the Serb aggression and
5 the -- later the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Can we stay with the Serb
6 aggression first of all. I'd like to know when this Serb aggression, as
7 you qualify it, took place apparently in 1991. At that time was there an
8 influx of refugees or displaced persons towards Croatia from BiH? Or you
9 gave a figure of 400.000 people, line 20, page 27, did those people
10 arrive only when there was a conflict in BiH?
11 To sum it up, I'd like to know the following: Were there
12 refugees from BiH during the aggression by the Serbs, regardless of the
13 conflict later on in BiH?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, when talking about the
15 aggression, I mean to say that it was done by the Yugoslav People's Army
16 who was controlled at the time by the Serbs and various Serb paramilitary
17 units who attacked Croatia
18 believe, in April 1992. It was just that at that time it was directed at
19 Bosnia-Herzegovina. The same type of aggression befell our neighbouring
20 state, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Since that aggression or war, whichever way
21 you want to put it, first happened against Croatia, 1991, it was first
22 the Croatian citizens who were supposed to flee the occupied territories
23 of eastern and Western Slavonia
24 parts of Dalmatia
25 were accommodated as displaced persons. In 1992, as of the month of
1 April and May, that aggression occurred in Bosnia-Herzegovina as well.
2 One just needs to remember the occupation of Sarajevo and other towns.
3 It was at that point that the refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina began
4 arriving in Croatia
5 Temporally speaking, during 1991 we had some 400.000 displaced
6 persons within the borders of the Republic of Croatia
7 Croatian citizens also fled to Austria
8 January 1992 when a truce was achieved and the tensions calmed down, some
9 people began returning to the previously occupied territories from
11 number of displaced persons in Croatia
12 In 1992 when the aggression against Bosnia-Herzegovina took
13 place, from one week to the next we had a sharp increase of refugees from
14 Bosnia-Herzegovina. We had accommodated our displaced persons, our own
15 citizens, during 1991 and we were doing the same thing when it came to
16 the citizens of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, irrespective of their
17 ethnicity, irrespective of whether they were Croats, Serbs, or Bosniaks.
18 There was no difference for us. We accommodated them at such locations
19 that we had at our disposal. We urgently requested the Ministry of
20 Defence to put large barracks at our disposal which had been used by the
21 Yugoslav People's Army. These barracks held good infrastructure and were
22 fit to accommodate a large number of people from Bosnia-Herzegovina. We
23 also accommodated them in various tourist facilities --
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, let me interrupt you
25 because I'm sure that the Defence counsel will deal with that. I'm
1 interested in what you've said at line 11. You are saying that in 1992
2 when the aggression against Bosnia-Herzegovina took place there was a
3 sharp increase of refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina, and I'd like to know
4 the following because here we are dealing with the heart of the matter.
5 From that period on, did you see Muslims arrive in Bosnia and
7 Muslims coming in, people who following the fighting led by the Serbs
8 left Bosnia and Herzegovina to come to Croatia?
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] There were refugees from Mostar,
10 both Croats and Muslims, because both felt equally threatened by the
11 Yugoslav People's Army and the Serb paramilitary units. However, most of
12 these refugees in the first few months of the war in Bosnia and
14 Central Bosnia
15 Western Herzegovina had been attacked at the very outset, at the very
16 beginning of the aggression, but managed to fight off the aggressors and
17 maintain -- it fended off the threat. The threat stopped at the River
18 Neretva in Mostar so that parts of the JNA owing to the joint forces of
19 the HVO, the Croatian Defence Council, and the Muslims were pushed back.
20 One should also know that in Herzegovina
21 are Croats. If I'm not wrong, 96 per cent of the population of Western
23 among the refugees of Bosnia-Herzegovina also, and we accommodated them
24 as well. Let me repeat once more that in all these events in accepting
25 and accommodating refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina, we did not draw any
1 distinctions between them. We offered the same accommodation to both,
2 and very often they were accommodated together in the same refugee
3 centres. So it could happen, for example, that in Gasinci there were
4 Catholics together with Muslims, and in Gasinci we had a Catholic chapel
5 and a mosque for the Muslims.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Let me stop you here. We'll
7 probably deal with this later on through Defence counsel's questions.
8 JUDGE PRANDLER: I'm sorry, Mr. Karnavas, and of course I don't
9 want to stop the proceedings here, but I only have seen one number here
10 which was mentioned by our witness, and Dr. Rebic said that, and I quote
11 him from line 20: "If I'm not wrong, 96 per cent of the population of
12 Western Herzegovina are of Croatian ethnicity."
13 So of course I'm not so well-versed as far as the geographical
14 terms are concerned about Western Herzegovina, but so far we have seen
15 various approaches and numbers there according to the percentage of
16 Croats and Muslims, Bosniaks, and Serbs. So therefore, I wonder if the
17 96 per cent relates to a territory which could be a bit closely -- in a
18 more closer way to say which territory you had in mind, Dr. Rebic, about
19 the Western Herzegovina as having 96 per cent of Croats.
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, I will tell you some of the
21 towns in that area Medjugorje, which is well-known as the place of the
22 apparition of the blessed Virgin Mary, and the people there are all
23 Catholics; Capljina, is another town; Tomislavgrad, although some people
24 think Tomislavgrad is in Bosnia
25 Ljubuski is inhabited by Croats. It's hard to say whether it's 94 per
1 cent or 96 per cent because when the census was taken some Muslims
2 declared themselves as Croats. In Mostar it was already the tradition
3 for there to be Muslims who declared themselves as Croats. I personally
4 saw many documents shown to me by Muslims arriving from
5 Bosnia-Herzegovina. These were their school certificates, for example,
6 where it said Croat by ethnicity. So it would be very heard, looking at
7 it from today's point of view, to divide that population into Croats and
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Professor, following up on my
10 colleague's question, I must say that this figure of 96 per cent struck
11 me as well. But you seem to be maintaining what you've said. You say
12 that in Capljina the majority of the population was Croat. You also
13 mention Ljubuski, that's not been recorded properly on the transcript --
14 oh, yes, it has. So Ljubuski as well. And that's why I have the
15 following question. If there were about 100 per cent of Croats, what's
16 the point of ethnic cleansing? If they make up the majority, what's the
17 point? Are you sure about your figures?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I don't know what
19 ethnic cleansing you are referring to in this case. May I ask that, Your
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Ethnic cleansing, it's
22 mentioned in the indictment where it is stated that the HVO forced
23 populations to move, drove Muslims out, in order for the majority of the
24 population to be Croat. But could that be possible with areas where the
25 population is 96 per cent Croats in the first place? Do you maintain
1 your figures?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Fine.
4 Mr. Karnavas, sorry for this digression, but there were a number
5 of points that we needed to address.
6 MR. KARNAVAS: Yes, thank you, Mr. President.
7 Q. Just one point of clarification, you had indicated that the --
8 that in 1992 the aggression had stopped at the Neretva river, and I just
9 want to make sure that we're clear. It was the HVO along with the Muslim
10 forces that repelled the JNA; that was your understanding, correct, not
11 that the HVO was working with the JNA?
12 A. No, they were against the JNA.
13 Q. Okay.
14 A. Both the Croats and the Muslims were against the JNA. In 1992
15 there was absolute harmony between the Muslims and the Catholics, I'll
16 call them Catholics now, or rather, the Bosniak Muslims and the Bosnian
17 Croats. At that time there was absolute agreement among them and
18 harmony, and wherever they could they put up a joint resistance against
19 the occupiers.
20 Q. And to follow up on another question, in 1992 when you were asked
21 about refugees coming in to Croatia
22 fair to say that they were coming from the Posavina area?
23 A. Yes, they were coming from the Posavina area also; moreover,
24 large numbers were coming from there. There were large areas of Posavina
25 which were occupied by the JNA which was then under Serb command and
1 hundreds of thousands, both Muslims and Croats, crossed the River Sava
2 and arrived in Croatia
3 when this refugee camp of Gasinci was built because we had to accommodate
4 thousands of people at very short notice in a single place.
5 Q. So to make sure that I understand, in 1992 when they're
6 coming - and I take it we're talking about the area of what is known as
7 Slavonski Brod, right around that area, as early as 1992 they were being
8 placed, these refugees, into Gasinci?
9 A. Yes, that's correct.
10 Q. All right.
11 A. It wasn't just those who came from the Bosnian Posavina area, but
12 also from the central parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina. For example, I
13 remember that the first refugees we put up in Gasinci came from Sarajevo
14 If I'm not wrong, there was seven or eight bus loads. So if you
15 calculate there were 50 people per bus, there were about 400 people who
16 arrived from Sarajevo
17 And these were the first persons to whom we were able to offer that
18 former military training-ground which had infrastructure. So we were
19 able to put them up in housing, in buildings.
20 Q. All right. Now, at some point we know because we heard testimony
21 that large numbers came to the Republic of Croatia
22 perhaps you could no longer sustain any more refugees. My question now
23 is: Did the Republic of Croatia
24 border for any more refugees, particularly Muslim refugees; in other
25 words, letting the Croats go but shutting down the borders for the
1 Muslims? Did it ever shut down the borders or direct them, say, to
3 Republic of Croatia
4 A. No. During the aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina
5 that whole period of time, we never closed the borders to refugees from
6 Bosnia-Herzegovina, and never did we send anyone back to
7 Bosnia-Herzegovina. That would have meant sending them back to their
8 death. As for other countries, under the Geneva Convention we could not
9 and were not allowed to force these refugees to go to neighbouring
10 countries because under that convention Croatia is the first neighbouring
11 country which is obliged to protect these refugees and take care of them.
12 Had we sent them to Slovenia
13 remember on one occasion some refugees wanted to go to Slovenia on their
14 own. They arrived at the border crossing in Bregana, where they
15 protested for two days, but the Slovenian police wouldn't let them in so
16 they had to turn back and we accommodated them in Croatia.
17 One should also bear in mind that throughout this time we were
18 working together with international humanitarian organizations and with
19 the UNHCR. We always consulted the representatives of the UN, that is,
20 of the UNHCR, we consulted them daily. We had good relations with them,
21 we took their advice, and in my view their advice was always the
22 following: You take them in, you keep them here, and we will help you
23 and then later on we will see which countries are willing to receive
24 those refugees you are unable to accommodate.
25 At one point in time in a certain period of time, I think it was
1 in August and September 1992, and later on in 1993 also, large waves of
2 refugees, numerous refugees, from Bosnia-Herzegovina, arrived in Croatia
3 and our government sent an appeal to the neighbouring countries asking
4 for help in accommodating these refugees.
5 We received help from Germany
6 these refugees and accommodated them in Germany. I remember that the
8 of the refugees and bring them to the Netherlands to be accommodated. We
9 also received help from Austria
10 countries. Italy
11 any. Spain
12 apart from those who had friends or relatives already working in Belgium
13 so that -- well, we kept records so we have precise lists.
14 Apart from the Republic of Croatia
15 250.000 refugees, there were many refugees in Germany. And I won't go
16 into further details, I won't weary the Chamber, but our office regularly
17 drew up reports on this. On three occasions we carried out a census of
18 the displaced persons and refugees; we were prompted to do this by the
19 UNHCR which provided us financial assistance to do so. The first such
20 census was carried out in April, May, and June 1992 when we listed all
21 the displaced persons and refugees --
22 Q. Let me just stop you here and I'm going to have to interrupt you
23 occasionally so we can keep your answers a little bit shorter. Of
24 course, we do have some statistics that Hungary as well was very generous
25 in taking in large amounts of refugees.
1 A. Yes, that's correct.
2 Q. Whereas as I understand, Slovenia, and we'll get into it,
4 area called Pineta where they were forcing you to take out refugees from
5 their own resort which is located in Croatia; correct?
6 A. To be quite honest, as regards Hungary in the first wave of
7 aggression against Croatia
8 members of ethnic minorities, including Hungarians. They took in about
9 30.000 people from the Osijek
10 they were very well organized. On two or three occasions I visited them
11 in Germany
12 THE INTERPRETER: In Hungary
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I went to visit our refugees in
15 activity these people all started to come back. So in late 1992 only 3
16 or 4.000, those who were from Vukovar and eastern Slavonia remained in
18 As for Slovenia
19 when Croats were fleeing from Vukovar and other parts of the Republic of
21 because you have to know that the JNA, which was in Serb hands, was very
22 close to Zagreb
23 every day we heard the detonations. You could hear them very well in
1 activity outside the occupied areas ceased these people came back and
2 only about 20.000 Croatian refugees remained in Slovenia and we gradually
3 had to take them back to the Republic of Croatia
4 As regards Pineta --
5 Q. We're going to get there. But I want to just touch on some
7 MR. KARNAVAS: Your Honours, should we take a break now or should
8 I continue?
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] As you like it. We can
10 continue for another five minutes if you like.
11 MR. KARNAVAS: Another five minutes.
12 Q. Just -- and very briefly, because we're going to get into all of
13 this in great detail. We have documents. We know that in 1993, starting
14 in May, sometime in May, June, July, August, there's tension in parts of
15 central Bosnia and Herzegovina between the Croats and the Muslims. My
16 question is - and keep it very brief - at that point to your knowledge
17 did your Office of Displaced Persons and Refugees or did Croatia, the
18 Republic of Croatia
19 coming from that area that was as a result of the conflict between the
20 Croats and the Muslims; and if they did receive Muslims, did they begin
21 to discriminate against them, in other words, put them in lower-category
22 facilities, deny them proper access to food, access to education?
23 To your knowledge, please explain this to the Trial Chamber, was
24 there any difference during that period when obviously there were
25 frictions and conflicts between Croats and Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina
1 and both were coming in as refugees into the Republic of Croatia
2 A. At the time that you mentioned, we continued taking in refugees
3 from Bosnia-Herzegovina without discriminating in any way but accepting
4 Muslims in the same way as Croats from Bosnia. And then we started using
5 higher-category hotels on the Makarska Riviera, that is when we started
6 using these hotels because we simply had no other possibilities. As the
7 head of the Office of Displaced Persons and Refugees I asked the head of
8 the government of the Republic of Croatia
9 use the hotels on the Makarska Riviera, and then we accommodated these
10 displaced persons and refugees who had been expelled from
11 Bosnia-Herzegovina without drawing any distinction between Muslims and
12 Croats, although we were aware of the fact that at that time in
13 Bosnia-Herzegovina, not everywhere in Bosnia-Herzegovina but in parts of
14 it, there was a conflict between the two.
15 MR. KARNAVAS: And with that we can take a break, Your Honour,
16 and then continue.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Fine. We're going to break for
18 20 minutes.
19 --- Recess taken at 3.44 p.m.
20 --- On resuming at 4.08 p.m.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Before I give the floor back to
22 Mr. Karnavas, the Trial Chamber has to hand down an oral decision,
23 ruling, as to the issue of documents and cross-examination conducted by
24 the Prosecution. The Trial Chamber was seized of the following
25 difficulty as raised by the Prosecution; namely, that the Defence
1 disclosed documents 1D 2921 and 1D 2922 and that the Prosecution said
2 they needed time to cross-examine the witness or before cross-examining
3 the witness and had applied for the cross-examination to take place in
4 the fall.
5 The Trial Chamber heard the submissions in reply by the Prlic
6 Defence and by the Stojic Defence team. The Trial Chamber rules that the
7 cross-examination will take place this week. In the event that the
8 Defence would use document 1D 2921, that is 36 pages long and has been
9 translated into English. However, if the Defence were to address issues
10 based on document 1D 2922, which has not been translated, in that case
11 the cross-examination will take place in the fall.
12 For future purposes the Trial Chamber advises the Defence that
13 they should disclose as early as possible any report or personal notes
14 from a witness so that the Prosecution should be in a position to prepare
15 for cross-examination within reasonable time-limits. So there it is.
16 Mr. Karnavas, you're free to raise issues based on 2921, that
17 first document, without any problems since that document has been
18 provided to the Prosecution in English and it is only 36 pages long, it
19 is a chronology of the events; however, if you are to raise issues
20 connected with document 1D 2922, the cross-examination will take place in
21 the fall.
22 MR. KARNAVAS: Thank you, Mr. President. And then again for the
23 record let me make sure that everyone understands that we have asked for
24 all of our witnesses to provide us with all of their notes and notebooks.
25 So we've tried to be diligent, and again this was only translated at the
1 very last moment. As soon as we got it, we gave it over, and of course
2 we've had problems with translation. But we thank the Court for its
3 understanding and we appreciate the Prosecution's concerns and we will
4 try to work with them as much as possible in the future.
5 Q. Now, Dr. Rebic, as far as education is concerned, the issue of
6 education, we had again a Prosecution witness, this Azra Krajsek, who
7 indicated that with respect to education the Muslim refugees were not
8 exercised their right, their fundamental right, to education at Croatian
9 schools. And if you could address that issue, the issue of education.
10 To your knowledge, what sort of education was being provided to displaced
11 persons, refugees, be they Croat, Muslim, or other, because we do know
12 that there were some Serbs that were refugees or displaced persons. We
13 also know that from Sarajevo
14 over to Zagreb
15 A. In principle, both the refugees and displaced persons had,
16 according to the Geneva Conventions, had the right to education. For
17 Croatian citizens who were displaced from occupied areas, this was a
18 right that was easier to exercise. As for the citizens of
19 Bosnia-Herzegovina who were refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina, this right
20 was somewhat more difficult to exercise for various reasons. The first
21 would be the fact that these people fled their areas in the middle of the
22 school year and more often than not they hoped that they would soon
23 return and continue education in their own midst. The second reason was
24 that they were accommodated in such refugee centres where there was no
25 systematic education, i.e., there was no school for them.
1 So let me put it this way, in principle everybody had the right
2 to be educated. We had cases, for example, in Gasinci where refugee
3 children attended school in Djakovo and according to some data the number
4 of students completed secondary education in Djakovo either in a
5 technical school or in some other schools in Djakovo. Likewise, in
7 could get enrolled if they wanted to do so in Croatian schools. I
8 personally know some Muslims who attended and completed secondary school
9 and higher education in Zagreb
10 see them and they are very happy in Croatia. They have always been very
12 Also in other places, like, for example, Split, Pula
13 where there were schools available if they so wanted, and I emphasize, if
14 they wanted to continue education, they could do so. However, since a
15 number of these refugee centres were located outside the urban areas,
16 schooling was possible, we supported that, we organized that, we would
17 establish extra-territorial schools. Among refugees there were also
18 teachers and professors who got involved in the education process, thus
19 we could establish those extra-territorial schools in the refugee centres
20 all over Croatia
21 This was part of the purview of our Ministry of Culture and
22 Education and partly it was the purview of the Embassy of the Republic of
23 Bosnia and Herzegovina which could and did help us with that to a certain
24 extent. On our part there was no hindrance posed on the refugee
1 Q. All right. Now, I understand that your office was located in
3 Displaced Persons and Refugees, whether you visited the various
4 locations; and if so, could you tell us how often and perhaps where, and
5 I'm particularly interested in --
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] One moment, Mr. Karnavas. You
7 can ask your question later. I thought you were going to go into the
8 answer provided by the witness which you didn't do.
9 Witness, I was going to say Professor, we've had witnesses here
10 who spoke about various curricula. I'm not interested in university
11 curricula; I'm interested in primary and secondary school education. You
12 get a high number of refugees come into Croatia, you said so and other
13 witnesses did too; we're aware of the problem. However, say pupils from
14 elementary school or adolescents in high school, when they arrived in
15 your country, did you set up special classes or curricula that would take
16 into account their own curricula in their country of origin or - and I
17 don't have any information about that - was there a general curriculum in
18 the former Yugoslavia
19 republics or was the teaching specific to a republic; and if so, was that
20 taken on board and into account in Croatia by your ministry for culture
21 and education in order to give young Muslims the same school support as
22 the one they enjoyed in their country? Were any efforts made in that
23 direction? Was their school curriculum adapted to their own specific
24 needs? And I would venture to go even further. Did you also take into
25 account the possible language differences that may have existed?
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I have partly answered
2 your question but I will expand. The task of the Office of Refugees and
3 Displaced Persons was primarily to accommodate these people, feed them.
4 After that, allow them to attend school, to have health, security,
5 psychological, and psychiatric health because many of them needed that.
6 At the time, Croatia
7 the doldrums due to the war, and faced with all that to undertake all
8 these activities that you have listed in your question would have really
9 been a very tall order even for a very developed country and a long-term
10 process. We were faced with major time constraints and we just fought
11 fire and we just salvaged what could be salvaged.
12 As far as the education system in the former Yugoslavia is
13 concerned, there were differences among the republics but these
14 differences were not major so that children from Bosnia and Herzegovina
15 if they so wished, could continue their education in the Republic of
17 education was the same across the board. As far as the language is
18 concerned, there were no problems because the language that is used by
19 the citizens of the Republic of Croatia
20 civilians of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. In the former
22 and Croatian. It has to be emphasized that the language that we now call
23 Croatian, since the language has become independent, has its features
24 which are typical of the Croatian language. In the former Yugoslavia
25 were forbidden to use some of the words and now we are free to use the
1 original Croatian language.
2 I would also like to say that the citizens of Bosnia and
4 understand and it's similar to Croatian. There are some differences
5 primarily in the vocabulary. There are no grammatical differences so
6 that no changes were required to the curriculum in that way.
7 As the general curriculum is concerned, I've already said that it
8 was the same across the board and it could easily be adapted. When it
9 comes to the extra-territorial schools that were organized in refugee
10 centres, we would supply them with textbooks that were funded by the
11 Office for Refugees or the Ministry for Education. It was within the
12 purview of the Ministry of Education, but we mutually helped each other
13 by way of me providing the Ministry of Education with information and
14 data and they would then act accordingly.
15 In a nutshell in principle, education, particularly primary and
16 secondary education, was possible; however, in the given situation in
17 some refugee centres it was not very practical or almost impossible to
18 organize that. We did as best as we could. When we couldn't organize
19 education it was not because of the lack of will to do so.
20 [Microphone not activated]
21 THE INTERPRETER: The witness's microphone is off.
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] But rather, because of the lack of
23 funds, the lack of teachers, the lack of school room, and so on and so
24 forth. If that refugee crisis had lasted for any longer time, obviously
25 we would have been able to deal with this in a more systematic way.
1 I would like to point at this moment that in the Republic of
3 are trying to organize it, but it takes time to put everything together.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you for this
5 comprehensive answer.
6 One moment. There's a question.
7 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] Sorry, Mr. Karnavas. I just
8 wanted to check something. I'm not sure I understood something.
9 Witness, you said that the language that is spoken in Croatia
10 today has some specific features so that it was forbidden back then in
11 the former Yugoslavia
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your question is not easy to
13 answer. In Croatia
14 and it would take me a long way back if I wanted to explain and tell you
15 about the history of the language. However, in the former Yugoslavia
16 the Republic of Croatia
17 our own education system, both primary and secondary, as well our
18 university and obviously this was in Croatian. At that time the Croatian
19 language for political reasons it was Croatian or Serbian or in Serbian
20 it was called Serbian or Croatian. These two languages are rather close
21 to each other; however, let me be very direct in order to help you
22 understand. Because of the predominance of one language, in this
23 specific case Serbian, there have always been efforts to introduce
24 Serbian variance into the Croatian language which pose problems in
1 spoke the same language as was spoken in Croatia, but the Serbs managed
2 to push their Serb variance a bit more in Bosnia and Herzegovina and
3 mostly this refers to the vocabulary and the syntax which is a bit
4 different between the Croatian and Serbian. Today that -- we are
5 independent in the Republic of Croatia
6 like we did before but we are not oppressed in doing so. Nobody is
7 imposing their own vocabulary or syntactic solutions and the same goes
8 for Serbia
9 has persisted, the influence of the merger between the two languages and
10 I repeat that these two languages are not so different to pose major
11 problems in the two peoples understanding each other. We understand each
12 other perfectly well, we can love each other in that language, and we can
13 hate each other in that language.
14 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] Thank you, Witness. My last
15 question on this issue. In the schools where there were the children of
16 refugees, what was the language that was used? Was it the language that
17 you use today, a language that has been freed of the constraints that
18 were prevalent in the former Yugoslavia
19 then used in the former Yugoslavia
20 those schools for refugees?
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] In the extra-territorial schools in
22 the refugee centres among the Bosniak refugees, i.e., Muslims, the
23 language that was used was the Bosnian or Bosniak variant of the Croatian
24 language, they were free to use that. They even had religion or
25 religious education and they could freely attend classes of Islamic
1 religion, they could use their own expressions, their own terms, just
2 like us Catholics used to use Latin words, the Muslims still use Arabic
3 words. For example, our humanitarian organization is called Caritas in
4 Bosniak it is called Merhamet. Merhamet is not a Slav word and a
5 Bosniak -- and an ordinary Bosniak will not understand the word
6 "Merhamet" but a bit more educated person will understand that Merhamet
7 is an Arabic word that means mercy just like Caritas in our world means
8 mercy. So they were absolutely free to use them and which were Bosniak
9 language if their teachers or professors were able to use it, and I
10 suppose that most of them were able to use it.
11 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] Thank you very much.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You raised an underlying
13 problem. You spoke further on the issue of education but you also
14 addressed the religious issue. These young Muslims, young people of the
15 Muslim faith, the Zagreb
16 necessary for them to have just as a young Catholic Croat who could have
17 religious lessons, for them to have imams who would come and help them
18 continue with their religious education?
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, absolutely, freely.
20 Among the refugees they had imams that they employed. In Croatia there
21 is an Islamic community with which the Catholic church maintains very
22 good relations. I personally have very good relations with Mr. Sevko
23 Omerbasic, the head of the Islamic community in the Republic of Croatia
24 And together with him I visited some refugee centres which accommodated
25 Muslims. I visited Varazdin 1 and 2 with him as well as the refugee
1 centre in Pula
2 Every refugee centre had a mosque, there was one in Gasinci, there was
3 one on the island of Obonjan
4 larger group of Muslims accommodated. We were glad that they were able
5 to do that and they were doing that because the more a person believes in
6 God the better person he is.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well.
8 Please proceed.
9 MR. KARNAVAS: Thank you. Thank you, Your Honours.
10 And just to touch-up on this because I failed to mention it.
11 Q. As I understand it, you are an ordained priest as well?
12 A. Yes, I am an ordained priest of the Catholic church. I was
13 ordained in 1964, a long time ago, in Rome during the second Vatican
15 Q. And in fact, as I understand it, aside from presiding in mass
16 and -- at the Cathedral in Zagreb
17 in Germany
18 A. I have indeed. I don't know whether this is necessary, but let
19 me say that as a professor in the former Yugoslavia every summer I would
20 spend my summer holidays partly in France with the Carmelite Nuns in
21 St-Germain Anglais Paris, and the other part of the summer I would spend
22 in the Perha [phoen] parish south of Munich where I replaced the local
23 priest. I would usually spend a month there.
24 Q. Yeah, and just again because the issue of religion came up in
25 from what I understand it would appear that you are a man that believes
1 in religious tolerance, is it not a fact that you also teach comparative
2 religion and you have studied the various religions, not just
3 Christianity but also Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism; is that
5 A. Correct. I have taught at the school of theology Hebrew, Aramaic
6 and Arabic languages, and my main subject was the interpretation of
7 biblical texts of the old testament, their analysis and synthesis, the
8 biblical theology of the old testament. As for the electives, I would
9 offer my students the Judaism, the teachings, rights, and customs, the
10 rabbi literature from the first to the fourth century A.D. and the
11 relationship between Jewish people and Christians throughout history. I
12 have also published a book on that so that the others can also read about
13 their relationship between Christians and Jewish people. Sometimes they
14 were good, sometimes they were bad, but this should be known so that the
15 evil may be avoided.
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, I've just found out
17 that you're a Catholic priest. It's something I didn't quite catch at
18 the beginning of this hearing. When you became the head of the office
19 you had a double function. You -- is that the case, were you both a
20 priest and the head of this office or were you seconded to the office,
21 did you take leave of your religious duties whilst you were the director
22 of the office?
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I continued performing my religious
24 duties in the Zagreb Cathedral because I have been given an apartment
25 from the Zagreb Cathedral, which means that I live in a church apartment
1 and I have to serve in the Cathedral in return for that. I used to do
2 that while I was leading the Office for Refugees and Displaced Persons,
3 but every time I had to pay for a stand-in person. All this time I was a
4 priest and I worked in the office with the permission of my superior,
5 Cardinal Franjo Kuharic. Without his permission I could not have become
6 the head of the government's Office for Refugees and Displaced Persons,
7 and I remained with the office until the end with his permission, and
8 when I resigned it was upon the express wish of Cardinal Kuharic who
9 asked me to return to the university and to place my time fully at the
10 disposal of university because he believed and I believed that once the
11 war was over somebody else could have performed those duties.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] In 1995 when you were a
13 minister without portfolio, were you a priest then?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I was still priest with the
15 permission of Cardinal Kuharic and the papal minister, who was then in
16 the Republic of Croatia
17 your cardinal, your superior, allows you to do so then the Holy See will
18 not oppose it. If your cardinal is opposed to that then you are not
19 supposed to take the duty and this was done in agreement with the
20 cardinal, so I didn't have any problems or difficulties with Rome
21 And the explanation for that is fact that this service was of
22 humanitarian nature. It was not a political duty. I was not a member of
23 any party. I was outside any party politics and the only thing I
24 followed was my conscience, and I asked my associates to do the same.
25 None of them were asked to be members of any of the political parties.
1 In other words, the office was a humanitarian office, it was not a
2 political office. At the beginning, the government wanted the church to
3 deal with issues of refugees and displaced persons because it was too
4 much of a burden for the state; however, the church answered the state
5 that it couldn't take the responsibility over because it lacked either
6 resources or money and at the end of the day it was the responsibility of
7 the state and that's how the state finally organized this Office for
8 Refugees and Displaced Persons.
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Please proceed, Mr. Karnavas.
10 MR. KARNAVAS:
11 Q. As I understand it, it was then that you were asked to organize
12 this office?
13 A. That is correct. It was in November, towards the end of that
14 month, when I was asked to organize, together with Mr. Damir Zoric and
15 some others, the office itself. We started from scratch. There was no
16 legislation in place before that and we certainly had no experience. We
17 learned as we went and we have to thank Mr. Comkulato, who was the first
18 UNHCR representative in Zagreb
19 UNHCR office spent a few months on the same premises as our office did
20 and we closely cooperated.
21 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Excuse me, Mr. Karnavas.
22 MR. KARNAVAS: Yes.
23 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I thought that you would insist on having a full
24 answer of your previous question.
25 Witness, you were asked whether you had taught comparative
1 religion including Islam and Buddhism, and you did not answer this
2 question. You only spoke of comparative Christian and Jewish religion.
3 Could you give a more precise answer, please, to the precise question.
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I did not teach the
5 history of religion; that was taught by a colleague of mine. It was a
6 different subject, but since we're on that question, if I may, I wanted
7 to say that I am the chief editor of the general religious lexicon which
8 was published in Zagreb
9 illustration and that general religious lexicon is something I worked on
10 with my team for about five or six years. It treats all religions from
11 the prehistoric times, then it covers the central American religions,
12 Asian religions, and the most important religions today of the world,
13 Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, as well as all other types of
14 Christianity. In my modest opinion, and according to the views of many
15 other people, it is one of the best lexicons we have in Croatia today.
16 MR. KARNAVAS:
17 Q. All right. Now you mentioned that you were -- you had the
18 assistance of the internationals, you mentioned a Mr. Comkulato, I
19 believe. If you could just briefly tell us during the period while you
20 were the heard of the Office for Displaced Persons and Refugees, to what
21 extent did you come into contact with these so-called internationals, be
22 they from the European Union -- I guess it was the European Community
23 back then, United Nations, NGOs. Would you please explain to us your
24 contact and involvement with them.
25 A. Before I answer I just wanted to say that the gentleman's name is
1 Comkulato beginning with a C just for the record.
2 Your question is in place. There were many humanitarian
3 organizations that came to Croatia
4 accommodating the displaced persons and refugees. I had daily contact
5 with them. I received them and directed them to various locations where
6 their assistance was needed. Some of them organized shipments of food
7 from abroad, others, for example, the Doctors Without Frontiers, put in
8 place health care in various refugee centres, there were also
9 psychiatrists, there were also people from the Arabic world and their
10 NGOs such as Al Haramija [phoen] and Ikasa [phoen] as well as the
11 Merhamet. From other countries we had good cooperation there as well;
12 however, I would send those to those centres where most of the population
13 were Muslim so that they could assist them as far as possible.
14 In humanitarian terms we were helped the most by the UNHCR. I
15 mentioned that already, as well as the European Union. There were many
16 people coming from the European countries with assistance, in particular
17 Croats for the most part working in Germany, our diaspora in Germany
18 numerous as well as that in Austria
20 solidarity, and amongst their community in those countries they organized
21 aid for Croatia
23 Q. Okay. Let me stop you here for a second. I had posed a question
24 earlier and you were interrupted and that had to do with visiting the
25 various centres, and I had asked you if you had visited the various
1 centres while you were the head of the office. Of course, we're most
2 interested in Gasinci and Obonjan because there have been some
3 allegations that there was discrimination against the Muslim refugees
4 that were being kept there. So I will ask you to what extent were you
5 visiting centres and did you ever visit those particular two centres?
6 A. I toured all refugee centres as well as the centres where our
7 Croatian citizens were accommodated. Of course I did not do that very
8 frequently. We had system or structure of subordination in place. In
9 the Republic of Croatia
11 country. As part of those regional centres, we also had social welfare
12 offices. In each centre I had at least one or two people under my
13 supervision who dealt exclusively with the issue of refugees and
14 displaced persons. I, or rather, they fell under my remit rather than
15 the remit of the minister. I visited some of the centres when there were
16 problems. For example, you can imagine what problems there were if a
17 centre was placed next to a village of 5.000 because the refugee centres
18 were more or less of that size as well. I visited those centres when
19 there were important issues to be resolved in terms of accommodation,
20 food, health care. Both the refugees and displaced persons had their
21 needs and wishes which sometimes could not be met in full and timely by
22 those centres. It is only understandable. On such occasions we would
23 try to come up with a solution.
24 I visited Gasinci on several occasions. I was there once with
25 Ms. Ogata, even, who was the then-president of the UNHCR in Geneva. We
1 toured the entire refugee camp in Gasinci. She was quite pleased to see
2 what we were doing and the way we were doing it. She talked to various
3 people we met on the way. She was quite grateful to me for everything we
4 did. She said, I admire you, you are doing this far better than many
5 other countries. We also went to Zagreb
6 the refugee settlements in Kruge, in Spansko, and elsewhere. As for
7 Obonjan, so that everyone would know what we are talking about, it is a
8 beautiful island close to Sibenik. On that island, before that war,
9 there were scouts who would spend summers there. The island had
10 infrastructure. There were also youth meetings, international meetings
11 there, and the name of the island in popular terms was the island of
12 youth. When the refugee crisis occurred we asked the Ministry of Tourism
13 and the city of Sibenik
14 us. On the island we accommodated refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina who
15 were Muslims, but there were some Croats among them as well, as well as
16 the Roma, Serbs, basically all ethnicities of the former Yugoslavia.
17 First we accommodated a certain number of refugees on the
18 premises that existed there, in the buildings that were there. But as
19 the number of refugees grew, for the first time there we began using
20 tents, as we did in Split
21 able to come up with a different solution. People do not like staying in
22 tents, it is quite understandable. As regards Obonjan, I was there on
23 two or three occasions to visit, especially at the outset when my
24 colleague, who is an attorney, his name is Miso Hribar, organized the
25 accommodation there. I found no reason for dissatisfaction personally.
1 Of course people wanted more and better food, but they would also fish
2 and grill it or to get by in different ways. As far as I know, nobody
3 ever went hungry on that island. Thank God there was enough food. Of
4 course there wasn't food to waste, although food was wasted, not in that
5 centre but in a different centre I arrived there with an international
6 delegation we came across piles of food that had been wasted. That is
7 understandable as well.
8 Obonjan had a doctor, an out-patient clinic, a dentist, a mosque,
9 an extra-territorial school, it had everything. There was also a ferry
10 at the disposal of the refugees, for example, for situations which
11 required other assistance, say, women in labour or people in need of
12 medical -- urgent medical assistance, then they would be transferred to
13 Sibenik by that ferry since it took it only about 20 to 30 minutes to
14 arrive there. In that regard Obonjan was covered as well.
15 There were also doctors coming from abroad who served as
16 volunteers. There was also a young French NGO, they worked with children
17 and the youth. Anyone with good intentions was free to come and assist,
18 of course after gaining our permission. We wanted to know who was going
19 to the centres and with what intentions. This is what I can tell you
20 about Obonjan in short.
21 Q. Now, did you ever receive any complaints from, say, the UNHCR
22 that your office or the Government of the Republic of Croatia
23 deliberately discriminating against the Muslims that were staying either
24 in Gasinci or this particular island, Obonjan?
25 A. No. I never received any express complaints; quite to the
1 contrary. We cooperated on resolving certain problems which occurred
2 from time to time. For the most part it had to do with food and health
3 care. It was the UNHCR which would lend a hand in such cases and would
4 help in resolving the issues. It is understandable that there may have
5 been complaints. People complain in peacetimes, in towns and villages.
6 There are demonstrations such as the ones that were in Zagreb, because on
7 occasion the conditions there are not satisfactory. Of course there was
8 a slight degree of dissatisfaction; however, in those circumstances we
9 couldn't give more than we were able to. We were quite limited in terms
10 of resources but there was never any bad faith or lack of will to give
11 the refugees what they were due.
12 MR. SCOTT: Excuse me, Mr. Karnavas. I was intentionally
13 waiting, Your Honour, just to see if Mr. Karnavas might have a follow-up
14 question because I know last week he suggested that I was on my feet too
15 quickly. As the Chamber knows, the question of dates and time, timing is
16 quite critical to the case and something that happened in 1992 or 1995 is
17 quite different than what happened in 1993. And I wonder if -- I wonder
18 if Mr. Karnavas could assist us with the particular dates of the visits
19 to Obonjan and Gasinci, if the witness can assist us.
20 MR. KARNAVAS: Certainly. And I appreciate that intervention.
21 Q. We are going to go through all these documents, but could you
22 tell us when you visited those facilities, those centres?
23 A. Today, 15 years later, it is difficult for me to recall specific
24 dates. I know I was on the island of Obonjan
25 being set up; it was sometime in 1992. I also visited it on one other
1 occasion when Obonjan became overcrowded with the refugees from
2 Bosnia-Herzegovina. It may have been in the first half of 1993. I am
3 certain I visited Obonjan twice at least. As far as Gasinci go, I was
4 there more frequently because some delegations were particularly
5 interested in it, diplomatic delegations, humanitarian delegations, and I
6 mentioned Mrs. Sadako Ogata, whom I took there. I also took there some
7 German ministers and ministers from other countries.
8 I went there with Muslims, that is to say the Arabic humanitarian
9 organizations as well as the German Caritas and other European
10 humanitarian organizations and people who wanted to provide assistance to
11 Gasinci in particular. For example, Germans and Danes offered to build
12 bungalows there so that the refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina would have
13 satisfactory accommodation.
14 Q. Let me stop you there. We're going to get into these documents,
15 we've seen them before, but there's been an exchange of documents where
16 Azra Krajsek and to some extent Turkovic, who was the ambassador at the
17 time, was sending letters to you. And of course we're going to go
18 through them in detail. But could you please tell us whether they ever
19 came to your office, in particular Azra Krajsek who was, as we will see,
20 was writing to her ministry without copying you -- at least that's what's
21 indicated in the letters. Did she ever come to your office and
22 concretely explain to you what the problems were in either Gasinci or
24 A. Ms. Azra Krajsek came to Zagreb
25 Bosnian-Herzegovinian embassy, either in early 1993 or towards the end of
1 1992, I don't know precisely. I do believe, however, that it was in
2 March 1993, we stayed there until January or February 1994 or perhaps a
3 month or two longer. She came to the Office for Displaced Persons and
4 Refugees on several occasions. Our relations were good. We would
5 usually discuss the problems in Gasinci and Obonjan. She seemed to have
6 focused particularly on those two refugee centres. She wasn't very much
7 interested in many other refugee centres where there were many Muslims
8 and Croats. I don't know why she exhibited such interest in those two
9 particular ones. Well, they may have been specific in some regards and
10 that could explain that.
11 She never came to me with specific problems or complaints of
12 significant degree. She usually came with the type of problems which
13 were understandable for such situation in which we had centres with 3, 4,
14 5.000 people. There were problems with the supply. There were
15 differences among the people living there. There were people who came
16 from the urban setting, then there were others who came from the
17 country-side, their mentality was different and it was difficult to
18 harmonize all that. I believe she also found herself in such situations
19 where she listened to individuals. I also came across such individuals
20 who were always dissatisfied. Those people came from among the refugees
21 as well as from among the Croatian citizens. I was in a hotel in Trogir
22 where the Croatian citizens there told us that we are eating bread that
23 is three days old and the soup is bad, the food is bad, and I went there
24 to check their kitchen. I came there unannounced, and to my opinion it
25 was a good kitchen, a kitchen which would satisfy the need of a
1 lower-quality hotel.
2 There were also situations in which cooks were professionals and
3 educated, but quite often refugees would assist as well in the kitchen.
4 In Gasinci, unfortunately, there was a food poisoning once and the cook
5 himself was poisoned alongside his two assistants but no one else was.
6 That could happen in Zagreb
7 the summer. We tried to deal with such things right away. We would go
8 there immediately and deal with it.
9 I had no particular problems with Azra Krajsek or any other
10 people, at least she was never too outspoken about it. She could not
11 know of all the instructions I had sent to the various regional offices
12 and she may not have been fully acquainted with the situation. When such
13 problems would occur I would call Bisera Turkovic and Azra Krajsek as
14 well as Tadic and Raguz and we would sit down and discuss things.
15 For example, on the 11th of April, 1993, we discussed the issue
16 for three hours. The issue discussed then was the issue of abolishing
17 refugee status and those refugees which were unable to return to their
18 homes did not see their status abolished at the time.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, Mr. Karnavas asked you
20 to speak about the UNHCR, you talked about the ambassadors, you talked
21 about ministers including the German minister. Listening to you the
22 following question comes to my mind. What about the Catholic church,
23 your own hierarchy, and the Bishop in Zagreb and up to the Holy See in
25 situation of local refugees because there were organizations such as
1 Caritas on site? Was the Catholic church involved in these operations?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It is good that you put this
3 question since it needs to be clarified as well. The Catholic church in
5 changes developed significantly. It assisted greatly the displaced
6 persons and refugees. Had it not been for the Caritas it would have been
7 very difficult to accommodate all displaced persons and feed all the
8 refugees. I know what I'm talking about, I know what the Caritas was
9 doing, and I particularly did not go into that since I wanted to avoid
10 being subjective or biassed.
11 However, I can freely say that the Caritas did a lot. Priests
12 appealed to their flock to provide assistance. They distributed food to
13 refugees and they housed many refugees and displaced persons. They were
14 on good terms and there was never an incident which may have taken place
15 between a Catholic priest and a Muslim. All Muslims were received well
16 and they received the same assistance. However, I must say that the
17 Merhamet did not always act the same way, but I'd rather not go into any
18 further discussion concerning the Merhamet. There were many Muslims and
19 I do understand that the Merhamet took care only of the Muslims and not
20 the Catholic population; that is understandable, however.
21 We were sufficiently well organized to be able to assist the
22 displaced persons of Catholic belief or affiliation. The church always
23 assisted through its hierarchical system. I also need to mention the
24 Monsignor Vladimir Stankovic who was the director of the Caritas was also
25 a member of the administrative board of our office alongside the director
1 of the Croatian Red Cross as well as two people from the parliament and
2 another two people from the government itself. He was in the
3 administrative board of the office acting on behalf of the Catholic
4 church and the Caritas. The Caritas was directly involved and was
5 familiar with the needs. The Caritas in Croatia received a lot of help
6 from the German and US Caritas. In Zagreb there was even an office of
7 the American -- well, I don't know exactly what the name of the office
8 was, but they were in charge of taking care of displaced persons and
9 refugees. The Italian Caritas had its office in Zagreb, it was
10 Antonietta, a nun who toured such people, in particular Muslims.
11 Although a nun, she was fascinated with Muslims and she gladly assisted
12 them in terms of food, money, she was involved in some construction as
14 As far as that goes, there were no divisions, no tension. Every
15 now and then things might happen as everywhere, but in general I was
16 quite pleased to see how quickly people reacted to assist and with the
17 solidarity I encountered at the time. Today in Croatia you cannot see
18 any such solidarity, any more such as the one that was in place during
19 the war until 1995.
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, in a nutshell was Rome
21 perfectly informed of the situation or not?
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, they were informed. I was
23 visited, or rather, the Office for Displaced Persons and Refugees was
24 visited by a representative of the Holy See who came to Zagreb. He
25 visited the office and asked me how we were dealing with accommodating
1 refugees and displaced persons, whether there were any religious
2 tensions, and so on. Right now his last name eludes me. He was the
3 secretary of state of the Holy See. I also was visited by
4 representatives of the Catholic church in Germany, on one occasion
5 several Bishops. I know there was the assistant Bishop of Munster, who
6 used to be a school colleague of mine in Rome, Monsignor Foss came to see
7 us, so I can say that we did receive support. Cardinal Franjo Kuharic
8 did not visit refugee centres and nobody expected him to because of all
9 his other duties, but he gave me a great deal of support and he always
10 told me I had to work honourably and honestly, with decency.
11 MR. KARNAVAS:
12 Q. What about Brussels
13 EU -- EC was, were they informed because they were also assisting
15 A. Yes, of course they were very well informed and they join in the
16 SETF, a special programme of the European community of providing supplies
17 to refugees and displaced persons, supplies of food, was active. SETF
18 was active almost throughout the refugee and displaced persons crisis.
19 That's precisely why we had to make lists, why we had to take censuses,
20 because the European Community and the UNHCR had to know exactly how many
21 displaced persons and refugees we had and how many there were, in what
22 locations, so that they could provide assistance. We had good
23 cooperation with the SETF to ensure that food always reached a particular
24 location. We didn't want it to get lost on the way from the warehouse to
25 the refugee centre and be distributed to somebody else. For that reason,
1 there was a commission organized by the SETF, the European Community, and
2 our office jointly, which had the right to stop every truck along the
3 road and follow it to the refugee centre that was its destination, where
4 food had to be distributed. This was a way to avoid manipulation, for
5 example, the selling of food and so on, because we did hear complaints
6 that humanitarian aid was being sold on the markets. But this did not
7 occur to such a large extent that we could trace it to some high-level
8 manipulation. What did happen was that sometimes a refugee would get a
9 can of food and they would take it along to the market and sell it in
10 order to get some cash, but these were minor incidents. Some people did
11 this in order to get some cash.
12 Q. Let me interrupt you here. And what about Geneva, was Geneva
14 A. Yes, they were thoroughly informed, both through the UNHCR which
15 was in constant contact with Geneva
16 several meetings in Geneva
17 Mrs. -- Sommaruga. On two occasions I was in Geneva together with
18 Mrs. Ogata. On one occasion this had to do with abolishing refugee
19 status so that the humanitarian organizations and the ICRC and the UNHCR
20 and all the ones that have their headquarters in Geneva were well
21 informed of the refugee and displaced person crisis in the Republic of
23 received help from them, but this help was 10 per cent of our overall
24 needs. However, even 10 per cent is a lot in the situation we were in.
25 Q. All right. And I know you've provided me with this report that
1 you wrote: "My work at the Office for Displaced Persons and Refugees,"
2 is 1D 02921, and in it you describe various meetings and personalities
3 that you met Mazowiecki, O'Shay, Ogata, without going into it, would it
4 be fair to say that in this report here, this report of yours, you cover
5 the contacts that you had with the international community concerning
6 your activities during the period of 1991 and 1996?
7 A. Fortunately, Mr. Karnavas, my secretary kept a log-book and she
8 kept my agenda, and when I left the office my secretary gave it to me. I
9 didn't throw it away, I kept it. I didn't think I would ever need it,
10 but now is the time to look into my agenda and then we can see what we
11 were doing and how we were doing it at the time. Of course it's not a
12 detailed diary. There were many delegations who visited who are not
13 mentioned here. There were many meetings not mentioned here, but still
14 what is really important is noted down and you can see what -- well,
15 people called it my office. It was the government office actually. But
16 you can see what number of delegations we received. On the average it
17 was five delegations a day.
18 Q. Okay --
19 A. So that's as far as this document is concerned.
20 Q. All right. Now, we're going to move rather quickly. I just have
21 a couple of quick areas to touch on before we go into the documents.
22 First of all, I would like to know whether your office was issuing any
23 guarantees and whether it had the right to issue any guarantees to third
24 countries. In other words, someone coming in from Bosnia-Herzegovina,
25 could your office issue a guarantee for that person to, say, go to
2 A. Persons who went to third countries had to receive guarantees
3 from those third countries, not from us. The -- what refugees received
4 from the Office for Displaced persons And Refugees was that they could
5 enter the Republic of Croatia
6 displaced persons.
7 Further, those refugees who were under the protection of UNHCR
8 and who went to third countries, we could issue them with a transit visa.
9 It wasn't a real transit visa. It was a document confirming that with
10 the permission of the Office for Displaced Persons and Refugees persons
11 under the protection of the UNHCR who intend to go to a third country may
12 stay in the Republic of Croatia
13 they are waiting to go to the third country and they needed this document
14 so that they could show it if there was a police check or something and
15 it had political weight. So it would provide security or protection to
16 the person who held it.
17 Q. All right. Now, to your knowledge and your recollection, did you
18 ever recall a situation where some refugees went to a third country of
19 their own volition, presumably with a guarantee provided by that country
20 that they would receive them; and then those refugees wished to return to
22 A. Yes, there were such cases. The reasons were different.
23 Sometimes refugees wanted to go back because they thought the
24 accommodation in Croatia
1 the letters they wrote to us. We always received those persons back
2 without question because it was our duty as the first neighbouring
3 country. We then gave those persons refugee status, accommodated them in
4 refugee centre or a centre for displaced persons, and they could stay
5 there for as long as they were unable to go back to Bosnia-Herzegovina or
6 until such time as the conditions were created for their return to
8 There were instances where the Bosnian embassy accommodated a
9 group of refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina in Turkey. I received several
10 telephone calls from these Bosnian refugees saying they wanted to go back
11 to Croatia
12 They said Croatia
15 complained that they were accommodated in tents and so on.
16 Well, it's understandable because that country also had numerous
17 refugees. And Mr. Demeril told me so himself, and a minister of his when
18 we visited Stobrec in Split
19 Bosnia-Herzegovina who were of Bosniak-Muslim ethnicity, and they were
20 complaining they wanted this and they wanted that, and the minister said
21 to me, Well, we're having the same problems. In Turkey people are also
22 saying they want this and they want. A refugee is a refugee. These are
23 people who are under stress, who are wounded, they are people who have
24 seen other people killed. A refugee is not happy even when you put him
25 up in a hotel long term. These are people who had suffered psychological
1 injuries, and if somebody went around Gasinci and Obonjan and listened to
2 someone speaking, they would have to know whether that person was under
3 stress, whether that person had had some kind of psychological trauma, or
4 whether they were objective or subjective, and so on --
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] One minor related question --
6 MR. KARNAVAS: If I could just follow-up on this, Mr. President,
7 before you pose your question.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes.
9 MR. KARNAVAS:
10 Q. The question is you had indicated some Bosnians, I think that was
11 the way you termed it, went to Turkey
12 know whether they were Croats or Muslim or both? That's question number
13 one. And number two is: What did you do? Did you say, Stay there
14 because we have already enough of you, or did you bring them back?
15 A. They were Muslims because the Bosnian embassy, as a rule, did not
16 look after Croat refugees. They always said, Well, that's for the
17 Republic of Croatia
18 they did have goodwill towards others and other refugees. But in this
19 particular case they were Muslims and the Bosnian embassy wanted to put
20 them up in Turkey
21 would be better off there. However, these people called me up on the
22 telephone and said they were not better off there. Allow me to say that
23 even Israel
24 refugees, Muslim refugees, from Bosnia-Herzegovina. They said, We want
25 Muslims, you see, we are Israelis, we have tensions with Palestinians,
1 with Muslims, and we want to show that we care about Muslims in a country
2 where they are under threat in Bosnia-Herzegovina. So about 200 of them
3 went to Israel
4 hard to find them. In Split
5 to go to Israel
6 weren't very enthusiastic.
7 I visited them in 1993 or 1994 when I was attending a congress in
9 people. They were mostly rather young because the elderly really didn't
10 want to fly to Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem
11 weren't very satisfied. Because, you know, people always think it's best
12 to be at home, and when you're close to Bosnia you feel better than when
13 you are far from Bosnia
14 foreign sky will never keep you as warm as the sun in your own land. I
15 hope the interpreters understand that. The poet was Aleksa Santic.
16 Q. Concretely if you could answer my question, when they called and
17 they wanted to come back from Turkey
18 Republic of Croatia
19 A. My answer to those persons was: If you succeed in organizing
20 transport to Croatia
21 embassy of Bosnia-Herzegovina, they transported you there so they may be
22 able to transport you back because otherwise we would be in a quandary.
23 We couldn't go and interfere in something that the embassy of
24 Bosnia-Herzegovina had tried to resolve. So that looking back now I
25 can't really remember how the story ended, but as for countries like
2 to travel back to Croatia
3 until they went back to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
4 Q. Okay. Now, speaking of returning, and this is sort of the last
5 topic before we get to the documents. With respect to returning refugees
6 from Croatia
7 they lose their status - can you please explain to us what the procedure
8 was in general and we're mostly concerned to know whether the Republic of
10 them back to Bosnia-Herzegovina, putting them into harm's way? And I'm
11 speaking of a period of say in 1994, 1995, late 1993, that's what I'm
12 speaking of.
13 A. As far as I know, the Office for Displaced Persons and Refugees
14 never forced anyone to go back to Bosnia-Herzegovina. I know very well
15 that we did have some problems regarding the revoking of refugee status
16 and the revoking of displaced persons status. Our stand point was the
17 same in both cases, both displaced persons and refugees. And just as
19 refugees back from those countries, as soon as the conditions were in
20 place for persons who had been expelled to be able to go back we sent
21 them back right away in Osijek
22 Western Slavonia was liberated, all our displaced persons went to their
23 destroyed houses in eastern Slavonia
24 they rebuilt their houses and started farming their land and tried to
25 heal the wounds of the four-year-long occupation. And just as today
1 Serbs are going back to Croatia
2 were sending back our own citizens to the places they had fled from when
3 the situation quietened down, we did the same with refugees from
5 As soon as an area of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina was safe
6 from war and the threat of war, the Office for Displaced Persons and
7 Refugees issued a decree revoking refugee status so that people could go
8 back. And the territories, the towns and places, were clearly designated
9 to which they could go back. So we never sent them back just anywhere in
10 Bosnia-Herzegovina, but to precisely designated places. As the head of
11 the Office for Displaced Persons and Refugees, I issued instructions to
12 the regional offices that they could revoke refugee status only for those
13 refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina who could go back, whose houses had not
14 been destroyed, who were not in peril in the areas where they had to go
15 back, who were not sick, whose children were in school.
16 So my instructions were quite clear. There were instances where
17 these refugees could not be sent back. There was some lack of clarity
18 there in their office and in the regional offices, which is why Bisera
19 Turkovic, Azra Krajsek, Tadic, Raguz and I met and we discussed the issue
20 and agreed. And then again I sent instructions to all the regional
21 offices and social welfare centres as to how they were to proceed, what
22 refugees had to be sent back, what refugees must not be sent back, what
23 refugees had to have their status prolonged, extended. And after that
24 there were no more tensions because you can always solve everything by
1 Q. All right. Now, you did indicate that there were refugees that
2 had left from Croatia
5 refugees, irrespective of whether they were -- they had originated from
6 Bosnia-Herzegovina or Croatia
7 A. No. Those people simply came back to Croatia. Many of them
8 didn't even ask our office whether they were allowed to go back or not.
9 They simply came back to Croatia
10 whom they should report, to the office for displaced persons and refugees
11 or a regional office, and they were given refugee or displaced persons
12 status, as the case may be, and that was constantly our practice which
13 never changed --
14 Q. Let me interrupt you --
15 A. -- we --
16 Q. -- did there ever come a time when you had to sign an agreement,
17 negotiate an agreement with Germany
18 refugees out of Germany
19 A. Yes. Germany
20 to Croatia
21 or Bosnian refugees who had a Croatian passport. Germany treated all
22 such refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina who were in Germany as Croat
23 citizens, and they said, Please take them back. You have given them
24 passports so now take them back, and of course we did. Bosnian
25 Catholics, Croats, and Bosnian Muslims had such passports. Many Muslims
1 were issued with Croatian passports.
2 At that time it was enough for a Muslim from Bosnia-Herzegovina
3 to show the department in the Ministry of the Interior any document, a
4 driving licence, a school certificate, which said that he had declared
5 himself to be a Croat at some time and ipso facto he had the right to a
6 Croatian certificate of citizenship and Croatian documents. There were
7 in 1992 very many such Muslims from Bosnia who went to Denmark
9 had had enough and when they realized they couldn't have 200.000 refugees
10 from Croatia
12 Bosniaks. And I went to Germany
13 minister and other responsible persons -- the minister of the interior,
14 that is, and I signed a document with them on the return of all Croat
15 refugees to Croatia
16 This was an agreement on gradual organized return to all
17 liberated places in the Republic of Croatia
18 list as to what places were now free of war and what places were not.
19 And they had that list. And that was what guided us when we were sending
20 refugees back to Bosnia-Herzegovina, but by that time I had already left
21 the Office for Displaced Persons and Refugees and my colleague, Damir
22 Zoric, continued, but we had a good precedent.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] One moment. Just to follow up.
24 For instance, on the concerns from Germany, looking at the
25 documents I realized that on the 12th of July, 1993, at 11.45 until 1.00
1 you received Dr. Angela Merkel. Do you remember why you met with her?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Angela Merkel arrived just as many
3 others. At the time she did not have the function that she has today nor
4 was her importance the same as it is today. She arrived as a member of
5 the Christian Social Union, I believe that that was her party, and she
6 was interested in our treatment of Muslims. Obviously she had heard some
7 things, read some things, in the media. Because, let's admit it, at the
8 time we were accused from all sides, either rightfully or wrongfully,
9 that we did make some differences. She asked me why we made a
10 difference, and I said, Mrs. Merkel, it's not us that we make any
11 differences. We do not treat Muslims any differently than we do
12 Catholics from Bosnia
But we do have problems. Don't have you have them in Germany
15 Don't you have any problems with the Turks? And Merkel says, Well,
16 that's our problem. And I said, Well, this is ours. I was a bit harsh
17 with Merkel, I must admit, because she had arrived from a different
18 situation and she could speak about those problems differently than I
19 could because I was faced with those problems every day, day in day out,
20 I had to deal with them as best as I could. Croatia was so much more
21 different than Germany
22 provided what we could under the circumstances, but nobody received milk
23 and honey, to put it that way.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] We are going to take a break
25 now unless you have a question, Mr. Karnavas.
1 MR. KARNAVAS: Just one follow-up question because I just want to
2 make sure that the entire Bench is clear.
3 Q. Did the Republic of Croatia
4 providing aid, when it came to providing assistance, when it came to
5 providing education, when it came to providing health care, did it make a
6 distinction between refugees that were Croats from Bosnia-Herzegovina,
7 Catholics be they or Muslims, did they make a distinction? Because we
8 have Merkel, but I want to make sure that we're very clear on this point.
9 A. The Office for Refugees and Displaced Persons never made any
10 distinctions whatsoever. If anybody did outside the office, if they made
11 any distinctions, then you should ask them. But the Office for Refugees
12 and Displaced Persons, its regional offices, there were 21 of them, and
13 all the centres for social welfare never made any distinctions between
14 the refugees. Under the given situation, under the given circumstances,
15 we treated everybody the same. We were an office for refugees not an
16 office for refugee Croats or refugee Muslims. They were all refugees to
17 us and we did not have any right to treat ones differently than the
19 MR. KARNAVAS: I have no further questions. I invite the Bench
20 if they have questions on this; otherwise, we can take the break.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Fine. We're going to take the
22 break. We'll resume around 6.00 p.m.
23 --- Recess taken at 5.41 p.m.
24 --- On resuming at 6.05 p.m.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Well, the hearing is resumed.
1 Judge Prandler has a question.
2 JUDGE PRANDLER: Thank you, Mr. President.
3 I didn't want to interrupt you, Mr. Karnavas, before the break.
4 But now since you have merely dealt with the contacts with internationals
5 and also some states concerned, I would like to refer to the document I
6 believe that you are also going to ask the witness about the documents
7 you are going to submit, a document which is in binder 2 and the number
8 has already been mentioned today several times, 1D 02921, 2921, and it is
9 actually the very submission or report of the witness, Dr. Rebic,
10 entitled: "My work at the Office for Displaced Persons and Refugees."
11 So it is again just to have -- helping the refugee. It is in binder
12 number 2 and the number is 2921.
13 So in that report of yours you make a reference to, among other
14 things, your visit to Hungary
15 am Hungarian, but of course I speak not in my capacity as Hungarian but
16 as a independent Judge, but I am also pleased to read that you found that
17 there was a lot of help offered by Hungary during that time, and I can
18 re-confirm that working at that time in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
19 in Hungary
20 representatives together with at that time the minister of interior,
21 Mr. Petar Buros [phoen], and the minister of foreign affairs, Mr. Geza
22 Jesenski, and others.
23 Now here there is one small issue which I would like to raise
24 that during this very first part of this sitting and hearing you have
25 mentioned that only 2.500 refugees remained in Hungary, but I believe the
1 correct number is that -- when you mentioned that out of that number,
2 that is the number coming from Croatia
3 that number 2.500 returned to Croatia
4 believe it is the correct interpretation of those numbers.
5 Now, in the next paragraph you mention, and you mentioned this
6 before, that together with vice-president Mato Granic you had been to
8 the High Commissioner for refugees. And you mentioned there that you met
9 there Mr. Cornelius Sommaruga, then president of the ICRC, and visited
10 Ms. Sadako Ogata. Now, of course I mean, it is my question that Hungary
11 arranged at that time several visits by President Sommaruga, among other
12 things, to try to have talks which were held in Hungary at that time
13 between the relevant representatives of Croatia and Serbia
14 at that time the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. And just for the very
15 important issue for the exchange of prisoners of war and of course of the
16 other detainees.
17 So I would like to ask you if your office has also been -- has it
18 also been involved with the exchange of persons having a POW status and
19 that of the displaced persons and other detainees between the countries
20 concerned, i.e., between Croatia
21 otherwise Serbia
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, first of all I'd like
23 to use this opportunity to thank you as a Hungarian and to thank Hungary
24 for everything it did for Croatia
25 and displaced persons crisis but also to thank you for the very good
1 relations between Hungary
2 issues between the two countries. As regards your question, I was
3 indirectly involved in it. When I say that I mean to say that for the
4 prisoners, Croatian prisoners that were exchanged, or rather, released by
5 the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, were subsequently
6 taken care of our Office for Displaced Persons and Refugees and were
7 given the status of displaced persons. If I'm not mistaken, there were 3
8 or 400 of them.
9 I was tasked with receiving them, organizing a meal, and
10 accommodation for them. I remember it well. It took place on the 14th
11 of August, just before the Assumption of Our Lady religious holiday, and
12 I ascribed that to the blessed Virgin Mary, and to my mind it was a
13 miracle since it took place just the evening before our great religious
14 holiday. It is another topic that we will probably touch upon later and
15 I am probably anticipating, but I just wanted to say something that has
16 to do with those who were transferred from Bosnia-Herzegovina having been
17 prisoners before that time.
18 We were received in the Republic of Croatia
19 to say, we awarded them refugee status. The transfer itself was done by
20 the UNHCR. The UNHCR had promised them to leave to a third country and
21 they only requested transit permits from our office. They asked for the
22 refugees to remain in Croatia
23 on the issue. I did, therefore, participate in the process.
24 JUDGE PRANDLER: Thank you very much, Dr. Rebic.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, with respect to
2 number of camps, and in your report I realize that there is an office
3 very similar to yours. There is an office in charge of displaced persons
4 and refugees, apparently it's headed by Mr. Markus [phoen] and
5 Mr. Molnaj [phoen]. You went to a number of camps with these two
6 individuals and you encouraged people to go home, to go back home. What
7 I find interesting here is to see that your office existed also in
8 another country, in Hungary
9 also the case in Germany
10 and Refugees working along similar lines as yours?
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, let me clarify one
12 thing first. The Office for Displaced Persons in Hungary was not our
13 office, it was an office of the Hungarian government. It was organized
14 along the same lines and following the same principles as ours was.
16 Foreign Affairs. They had an Office for Displaced Persons and Refugees.
17 We had permanent contact with them as well much like we did with the
18 Hungarian office.
19 As for Mr. Markus and Molnaj, I came to visit them on other two
20 or three occasions and we visited the centres together, Atac [phoen] and
21 Segacut [phoen] where our refugees were accommodated. The accommodation
22 was satisfactory. They had no particular complaints. The only one being
23 that they wanted to go home as early as possible, it was a wish of
25 They returned once the area around Osijek had been liberated,
1 when the threat was removed. It was then that the number of our refugees
2 reduced drastically, from some 30.000 to 2 or 3.000 that were left.
3 Those who were unable to go back because they hailed from Vukovar which
4 was occupied. Those people remained in Hungary for quite some time.
5 During their stay in Hungary
6 everything prescribed under the law that is required by such offices. I
7 might also mention that on the 25th of March of that same year, 1992, in
9 tripartite meeting. You mentioned Mr. Molnaj from the Ministry of
10 Foreign Affairs in charge of humanitarian issues. We discussed the whole
11 day how to help and accommodate refugees and displaced persons. Hungary
12 also came to our assistance on that occasion particularly.
13 Unfortunately, such tripartite meetings did not take place
14 afterwards. The humanitarian aid arriving from the neighbouring
15 countries was done more or less on an ad hoc basis and somewhat
16 chaotically. But upon the Croatian and Hungarian initiative to meet with
17 the UNHCR, that meeting took place and it showed itself to be quite
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] One last very quick question.
20 We know, because last -- the witness told us so last week and because we
21 saw a number of documents with -- in line with this that there were more
22 than 1.8 million refugees in your country. And reading these documents
23 we find that these refugees went to Germany
24 to the US
25 it should have been dealt with as a priority by the UNHCR and that you
1 yourself should have just helped this international action, considering
2 the scale of the problem?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, at the beginning of
4 the war we did not have a UNHCR office in Croatia, in Zagreb
5 a UNHCR representative who was still in Belgrade at the time, and he
6 could do nothing for our displaced persons and refugees who had to flee
7 and go to third countries throughout 1991 and beginning of 1992. A UNHCR
8 office was founded in Zagreb
9 there was Mr. Mendeluce. He arrived there with a single set of clothes
10 because he managed to flee Sarajevo
11 followed by Mr. Comkulato and it was she who had the permission of Geneva
12 to establish a UNHCR office in Croatia
13 As of January, that is to say on the 15th of January, 1992,
15 January. That is when Croatia
16 that -- the UNHCR office was founded in Croatia. After that, the UNHCR
17 did take part in these issues, however it was gradual. I must say here
18 that thank God in January 1992 there were no more combat activities in
19 the free territory of Croatia
21 Karlovac, Sisak, Varazdin, and Zagreb
22 those cities, they went anywhere to save their hides. You must remember
23 that Zagreb
24 in September 1991, but the first night I spent there I was forced to
25 spend it in a cellar. Of course everyone wants to go back to their
1 country even if there is shelling and that was the situation in the
2 field. Our people truly wanted to go back to their homeland, and as soon
3 as it was free of the threat of war they came back. The 1.800.000 was
4 the number that existed in a certain particular moment in time, in
5 December 1991. However, as early as January 1992 a great deal of those
6 Croatian refugees returned to Croatia
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Karnavas.
8 MR. KARNAVAS: Thank you, Mr. President, Your Honours. Unless
9 there are any other questions, I'm going to go right into the documents.
10 And, Your Honours, I had to make some re-arrangements of the documents so
11 they're not quite in the order of which I will be dealing in your
12 binders. I'll be referring to the numbers but they're not in the exact
13 order because I'm trying to be as efficient as possible.
14 Q. We're going to start with binder 1. Binder 1 for you, Dr. Rebic,
15 if we could get some assistance. Just -- and I'm going to be asking
16 your -- I'm going to be asking Dr. Rebic to ever be so kind to give me
17 short answers, short, so that we can go through these documents. Nothing
18 causes me more anxiety than the time spent going through documents.
19 A. [In English] Thank you very much. You can break me always.
20 Q. All right. Just for some technical matters to get out of the
21 way. If you look at 1D 02584, 1D 02584, that's the very first document
22 in your binder, sir, we see that this is a decision appointing you as the
23 Office of the Displaced Persons and Refugees 11 December -- it says 1891
24 but obviously that must be a mistake, right, it must be 1991; correct?
25 A. Correct.
1 Q. Okay.
2 A. But the datum is not correct.
3 Q. Okay.
4 A. The datum 1891 I see now.
5 Q. Okay. All right --
6 A. It should be corrected.
7 Q. Now, it's based on this document that you became the head?
8 A. Yes. Yes.
9 Q. And then if we look at the next document 1D 02632, we see that
10 this is a decision to relieve you -- to relieve of duty the head of
11 Office for Displaced Persons and Refugees, Dr. Adalbert Rebic, 2 February
12 1996. This must have been -- this is the document that relieved you;
14 A. [Interpretation] That is correct. And again, in the Catholic
15 church it is another holiday concerning the blessed Virgin Mary.
16 Q. All right. And I take it this was sort of a happy day for you
17 because you wanted to get back to your occupation?
18 A. Mr. Karnavas, you are quite correct.
19 Q. Okay. All right. If we -- now I want to go to the -- the next
20 section will be dealing with a few documents related to the laws, the
21 legislation that was -- that we've looked at last week. But again I just
22 want to make some -- get some confirmation. First document is 1D 02632,
23 2632. We see here it's a decree on establishing the Office for Refugees
24 of the Republic of Croatia
25 you familiar with -- is this the decree --
1 A. [In English] It is 23 [Interpretation] 23.
2 Q. It is 2623.
3 A. [In English] Correct.
4 Q. And if I could have this -- okay. And are you familiar with this
6 A. Yes and no because this -- [Interpretation] Excuse me. This
7 decree preceded the founding of the Office for Displaced Persons and
8 Refugees. This was a decree dealing with the establishment of an interim
9 office that was supposed to deal with the refugees and displaced persons.
10 As you can see it is the 30th of August, 1991, whereas the office was
11 formed subsequently by another decree. This was an interim one.
12 Q. All right. So if we look at 1D 02637, 2637, and we see it's
13 dated 22 November 1991
14 Persons and Refugees, are you familiar with this document, sir?
15 A. Yes, I am. It is a decree pursuant to which the Office of
16 Displaced Persons and Refugees was founded as part of the Government of
17 the Republic of Croatia
18 Q. All right. And was it based on this decree that your office was
19 operating on?
20 A. That is correct.
21 Q. Okay.
22 A. We based our activities on this decree and no other.
23 Q. All right. Now, if we look at the next document and I'm going to
24 ask you to comment slightly on this, it's 1D 02634, 2634, we see it's 11
25 December 1991 and this is a decision to appoint president, deputy
1 president, and members of the steering council of the Office for
2 Displaced Persons and Refugees. Of course I believe you did make a
3 comment earlier about one of the individuals on this steering council,
4 but very briefly could you please tell us what was this steering council
5 and how was it related to what you were doing?
6 A. Mr. Karnavas, the steering committee was a supervisory body in
7 charge of our Office for Displaced Persons and Refugees; that is to say,
8 they supervised the work of the office. The members of the committee met
9 every two or three months or, if need be, more frequently if there was a
10 problem at hand.
11 The committee was comprised of Bernardo Jurlina, who was the
12 minister for social welfare and family issues. It took care of the
13 displaced persons and refugees on behalf of the office; however, since
14 the number of refugees and displaced persons was too great for the
15 ministry to deal with because by that time the numbering went over
16 300.000, the government established a separate office. Then there was
17 Mr. Skrabalo who was in charge of cooperation between the World Health
18 Organization and the Republic of Croatia
19 The third member was Monsignor Vladimir Stankovic, director of the
20 Caritas of the Bishop conference. He was also in charge of the Croatian
21 pastoral mission abroad. His purview was over all priests working
22 outside of Croatia
23 Dr. Javornik, who was the general secretary of the Croatian Red Cross.
24 He assisted the work in terms of accommodation greatly. Then there was
25 Primarius Dr. Kostovic, who is a physician and a professor at the medical
1 school. There was Dr. Kutle and Ms. Turic who were there on behalf of
2 the parliament of the Republic of Croatia
3 composition all these people were professionals, competent and
4 responsible people overseeing the work of the office.
5 Q. Now, to your knowledge, was this steering council in existence
6 throughout the period while you were head of the Office for Displaced
7 Persons and Refugees?
8 A. That is correct, yes, the entire time.
9 Q. All right. Thank you. If we go on to the next document, it's 1D
10 02588, 2588. We see that this is a decree that's dated 27 October 1992.
11 It's a decree on status of displaced persons and refugees. And my first
12 question is: Are you familiar with this decree; and if so, how so?
13 A. Yes, I am familiar with this decree. In relation to the first
14 decree promulgated a year earlier, it became law because the Croatian
15 parliament ratified it and it is signed here by the deputy prime minister
16 Ivan Milas. This made the decree a law of the Republic of Croatia
17 the Office for Displaced Persons and Refugees had to act under that law.
18 It doesn't differ very much from the previous decree. There are just a
19 few minor changes in it.
20 Q. All right. Now, if we look at -- was it based on this decree on
21 the status of displaced persons and refugees that your office determined
22 the status of whether somebody could enjoy the status of being a
23 displaced person or refugee and the benefits that went with that status?
24 A. Yes, that's correct.
25 Q. Okay.
1 A. It was according to this decree that we established a person's
3 Q. All right. And again 1D 02635, here we see that there is an
4 amendment to the decree of the Office for Displaced Persons and Refugees,
5 and were you familiar with this document? This refers to the decree
6 establishing your office as opposed to the other one, which was the
8 A. [In English] Yes [Interpretation] Yes. I am extremely familiar
9 with this. This decree better defines what departments should be part of
10 the office for care and organized accommodation, for the organized
11 return, that's one department, then the next one is of finance, the third
12 is department for gathering transport and distribution of humanitarian
13 aid, then there's the department for cooperation with international
14 humanitarian organizations, the department for social adaptations, and so
16 Q. Thank you.
17 A. Thank you too.
18 Q. If we go on to the next document, 1D 02638, we see this is a
19 decision now, it's dated 6 October 1993
21 A. [In English] It's a law.
22 Q. Yes, it's the law, I apologise. And were you familiar with this
24 A. [Interpretation] Yes, I am. It was signed by the president of
25 the Republic of Croatia
1 in the Republic of Croatia
2 Q. Okay. Now, was it based on this law that you determined the
3 status of an individual, whether he qualified for benefits and the status
4 of being either a displaced person or a refugee?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Okay. All right. Now, we talked a little bit earlier about
7 education and about the rights that were afforded to individuals. If we
8 could just for purposes of an example look at 1D 02610, and I will ask
9 you to comment on this, 2610. This is dated January 12th, 1994. We see
10 at the bottom -- we see at the bottom that your name is mentioned. Now,
11 if we look at the original version or copy of the original, that is your
12 signature, is it not, Dr. Rebic?
13 A. Yes, that's correct, it is my signature. It's in good order.
14 Q. Now, could you please very briefly explain the contents of this
15 particular document since you were the author.
16 A. The Embassy of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina requested
17 from us through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to provide them with
18 precise data on the number of children attending the regular school
19 programme. Of course I forwarded this document to the Ministry of
20 Culture and Education, asking them to provide this information to the
21 embassy of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina with a copy or with
22 copies to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and to me. And this document
23 shows that in the Republic of Croatia
24 of schooling.
25 Q. All right. May I ask, why was it that you needed to ask the --
1 another ministry for that data? Why was it that your office, the Office
2 of Displaced Persons and Refugees, did not have that data readily
4 A. Because it was the Ministry of Culture and Education that was in
5 charge of schooling, and only it could provide precise information on
6 those attending school in the Republic of Croatia
7 the remit of the ODPR, the Office of Displaced Persons and Refugees.
8 Q. All right. And just a technical question that might be on the
9 Judges' mind. What about for extra-territorial schools, where would that
10 data be? Or did this ministry also have data concerning pupils that were
11 attending extra-territorial schools that were established either for
12 Croats from Bosnia-Herzegovina or Muslims from Bosnia-Herzegovina?
13 A. With respect to those attending extra-territorial primary schools
14 in refugee centres, it was also the Ministry of Culture and Education
15 that was in charge if those refugee centres were on the territory of the
16 Republic of Croatia
17 Embassy of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina relied on information
18 coming from the refugee centres because there were teachers there who
19 issued school certificates at the end of the academic year, and of course
20 these certificates had to be recognised by the Embassy of the Republic of
21 Bosnia-Herzegovina. That's why in the documents they sent to me and in
22 my conversations with them extra-territorial schools were frequently
23 mentioned. They functioned well in some places, worse in others, they
24 were well-structured in some places, less-well-structured in others, and
25 it all depended on the people we were working with.
1 Q. All right. And finally just one last issue to make sure that we
2 are on the same page, if we could look at --
3 MR. KARNAVAS: This is not in the binders, Your Honour, but it's
4 in the e-court system, it's 4D 01232.
5 Q. You don't have it, it's not in your binder, but it should pop up
6 on the screen. Dr. Rebic, Dr. Rebic, it should pop up on your screen.
7 This was a document that was shown last week. It's the Law on Movement
8 and Stay of Foreigners.
9 A. Yes, I see it.
10 Q. 28 June 1991
11 particular law applied to the refugees coming from Bosnia-Herzegovina?
12 A. Mr. Karnavas, this law did not apply to refugees from the
13 Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. First of all, this law was promulgated
14 in Zagreb
15 the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. There were only displaced, or
16 rather, there were refugees from Croatia
17 time. It was the other way around. Because at that time the JNA had not
18 yet perpetrated aggression there. So this law did not concern those who
19 were coming from the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina
20 pertained to those coming from other countries such as Greece, Bulgaria
21 where they came even from Pakistan
22 refugees in Croatia
23 Excuse me, I misspoke. The date is the 28th of June -- no, no, no, it's
24 all right. I didn't misspeak. I didn't misspeak.
25 Q. So when they refer to foreigners, they're not referring to - if I
1 understand you correctly - they're not referring to citizens of
3 A. No, no.
4 Q. All right. And as far as -- just to make sure, your office was
5 not -- your office in granting status --
6 A. It did not act pursuant to this law, no.
7 Q. Okay. Very well. Now, we're going to move on to another area,
8 and we're going to be looking at 1D 02629, if you could find that, that's
9 the next document in your binder.
10 MR. KARNAVAS: And again I apologise to Your Honours for not
11 having them in the sequential order. We had to re-arrange this at the
12 last moment. I wish I knew.
13 JUDGE TRECHSEL: [Microphone not activated] It's the last of
14 binder 1.
15 MR. KARNAVAS: It's the last of binder 1.
16 Q. We're going to be going through a series of reports, and let me
17 ask this question before we get to this document. As part of your job
18 being the head of the office, were you obliged to keep statistics and
19 make reports?
20 A. Of course, Mr. Karnavas, very frequently and very exhaustively
21 and very professionally because we sent that information and those
22 statistic to the UNHCR.
23 Q. All right. Now, on this particular document, 1D 02629, we see
24 this is a survey and at the bottom we see who conducted the survey. Is
25 it fair to say that your office did not conduct this survey; correct?
1 A. No, it was not our office that conducted the survey. It was the
2 PULS agency which still exists in Croatia.
3 Q. All right. Now, if we turn to page 3, if we turn to page 3 --
4 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Sorry, Mr. Karnavas, could the witness perhaps
5 tell us what is behind this word, pulse, what does it mean, you said it
6 is the PULS, that is still here to be found. What is the PULS agency,
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It is the name of an agency
9 conducting polls, public opinion polls. It takes its names according to
10 a person's pulse, a person's heart beat. So it should be understood in
11 the medical sense, pulse. Whether they really felt the pulse of the
12 people correctly every time, that's a different question; but they are
13 always very active whenever we have elections for a new parliament or a
14 new president, they do opinion polls today still.
15 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
16 MR. KARNAVAS: Thank you.
17 Q. And now if we look at page 3 at the bottom we note that your
18 office was involved to the extent of providing data. It says: "All
19 necessary permissions and recommendations for implementation of the
20 research have been obtained from Mr. Adalbert Rebic."
21 A. Yes, that's correct.
22 Q. Could you tell us a little bit about what was it that you did
23 that enabled PULS, PULS agency, to conduct this particular survey?
24 A. The PULS agency first needed permission from the Office for
25 Displaced Persons and Refugees to conduct their opinion poll, the
1 opinions of individual refugees, displaced persons, and other people in
2 the Republic of Croatia
3 number of refugee and displaced persons centres, their addresses, the
4 numbers of people in them, and everything else they needed to know for
5 their statistics.
6 Q. Okay. All right. And I don't intend to ask any particular
7 question, but Your Honours may wish to focus on page 12 and you can see
8 question, for instance, number 5 or number 11 or number 12 may be of some
9 interest to Their Honours. And if you wish to ask any questions
10 regarding this, fine; otherwise, I'll move on to the next document.
12 A. If I may --
13 Q. You certainly may.
14 A. -- Mr. Karnavas and Your Honours. If I may comment a little.
15 You mentioned question 12: [In English] "Do the international
16 humanitarian organizations, in your opinion, help more Muslim or Croatian
17 refugees or they help them both equally." Both equally.
18 [Interpretation] 69 per cent, 69 per cent, said "both equally." This
19 shows our citizens responded to refugees and displaced persons. So just
20 as the office did not draw distinctions between refugees and displaced
21 persons but provided the same assistance to both groups, the public did
22 the same.
23 Q. Very well. If we go on to the next document --
24 MR. KARNAVAS: Yes.
25 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I'm sorry.
1 To know what this means it would be important to know who were
2 the persons questioned? It's the answers of what kind of a sample? It's
3 probably somewhere in the document, but the witness probably knows.
4 MR. SCOTT: Top of page 5, Your Honour.
5 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you. Thank you.
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, the methodology is there. The
7 document had its methodology. This agency was active at the time in
8 conducting various opinion polls on political issues, social issues,
9 national issues. It was very active agency. It was by no means a
10 pro-government agency. It was non-governmental, and they adhered
11 strictly to the principles they held. They say 335 cases of refusal and
12 so on and so forth. One must simply read these pages because it is in
13 these pages that everything is explained --
14 MR. KARNAVAS:
15 Q. Okay, Dr. Rebic. Thank you for pointing that out to us. I don't
16 mean to cut you off or be rude, but we need to move on so I hope you will
17 accept my apologies. If we could look at the next document --
18 A. Thank you very much. I do accept them.
19 Q. Okay. 1D 02627. It's in binder 1 for the Judges. 1D 02627.
20 Do you have it, sir?
21 A. [In English] Yes, yes, I have found it.
22 Q. Okay. And here we see that this is from the Government of the
23 Republic of Croatia
24 and returnees -- refugees, I'm sorry, in the Republic of Croatia
25 And if we flip -- if we go to page 2 we see at the bottom of the foreword
1 section your name. Could you briefly tell us who prepared this report?
2 A. [Interpretation] Mr. Karnavas, the Office of Displaced Persons
3 and Refugees of the Republic of Croatia
4 third census which took place in 1994, the third registration. The
5 first, as I said, took place in 1992 in May and June when all displaced
6 persons in the Republic of Croatia
7 and July, there was a second census when we listed all the refugees from
8 the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. This now is the third census in 1994
9 when we took a census of all of them together, both displaced persons and
11 It was done on a very detailed sample about. About 100 pieces of
12 information were taken from each and every person, some more important
13 some less, including their economic situation, whether they had had a
14 house in Bosnia-Herzegovina that they left, was their house burnt down,
15 and so on and so forth. There is a list of all the persons who worked on
16 this census. The agency that did it is called VIP. It was owned by
17 Jakov Binenfeld, a wealthy citizen of Zagreb of Jewish origin, who at
18 that time had the best developed information technology service in
20 It was recommended to us that government IT establishment
21 processed this information, but together with the UNHCR, which
22 co-financed the project, I decided to accept Jakov Binenfeld's offer
23 because he was the only one in Zagreb
24 best-developed and the most reliable information technology agency. The
25 report is elaborated in great detail. You will see in it how many
1 displaced persons and refugees there were.
2 Q. Okay. Now, the Judges may have some questions, but before they
3 pose any if I could focus your attention on page 20 at the bottom of the
4 page on page 20, the English version. And in Croatian, because it may
5 assist you, because there is some -- in Croatia it's --
6 MR. KARNAVAS: If we could get Madam Usher to assist us very
7 quickly to --
8 Q. But if you could look at page 20 in English and I'll give you the
9 Croatian version. And I'm most interested in focusing your --
10 A. I'm familiar with this text.
11 Q. Okay. I'm not so much interested in the numbers where we see
12 refugees in 1993, 269.000; and then in 1994, 183, I'm not interested in
13 that. I'm interested in the paragraph that follows, and of course
14 there's some handwritten notes. But perhaps can you tell us what exactly
15 does this report say in this section? And we only have about three
16 minutes so you need to limit your answer to three minutes, please.
17 A. Mr. Karnavas, this report deals with the numbers of displaced
18 persons and refugees and it compares various years. In 1992 there were
19 247.000 displaced persons, in 1994 there were 196.000; so there were
20 fewer which means that between those two years many displaced persons
21 were able to return to the liberated areas and there is a list of all the
22 places where they were able to return, Osijek and other places. As
23 regards refugees in 1993 there were 269.000 refugees, and in 1994 there
24 were 183.000. And the difference is again explained here. The
25 difference is due to the fact that some refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina
1 returned to Bosnia-Herzegovina, both Bosniaks and Muslims. They returned
2 to the liberated areas, the safe areas, which were no longer threatened
3 by war, such as Zenica, Tuzla
4 One should also mention that at the time, in the last few months
5 of 1994, 150 refugees were sent back from Sweden, and they were Bosniaks,
6 Muslims, because they had Croat passports. Sweden sent them back to
8 course we sent them back also because they were able to go back to safe
9 areas. If the areas in question were unsafe, we did not send them back.
10 I added a note here saying that 40 to 50 persons per week were
11 being sent back from Sweden
12 government, that they should not all be sent back at once, but that they
13 should be sent back at a rate of some 40 persons per week to make it
14 easier for us to accommodate them in Croatia
15 Bosnia-Herzegovina if they could be sent back safely. That's it in
17 Q. Okay. Thank you very, very much, and I believe it's 7.00 so,
18 Dr. Rebic, we will need to pick up tomorrow where we left off today.
19 A. [In English] Thank you very much.
20 Q. Thank you.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Karnavas, I think you have
22 used about two hours, so you have about another two hours tomorrow.
23 MR. KARNAVAS: [Microphone not activated]
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well.
25 Witness, have a good evening. We shall reconvene tomorrow at
1 2.15. Thank you.
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours.
--- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 7.01 p.m.
4 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 20th day of
5 May, 2008, at 2.15 p.m.