1 Monday, 15 September 2008
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 2.14 p.m.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Registrar, could you
6 please call the case.
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.
10 Thank you, Your Honours.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Registrar.
12 This is Monday, September 15th, 2008, and I greet the accused,
13 the counsel for Defence, Mr. Stringer and his associates, as well as the
14 Registrar, usher, and everyone helping us, notably the interpreters.
15 I think Mr. Karnavas needs a few minutes for some housekeeping
16 matters, if I'm not mistaken.
17 MR. KARNAVAS: Good afternoon, Mr. President. Good afternoon,
18 Your Honours. Good afternoon to everyone in and around the courtroom.
19 Just one brief matter.
20 Basically, as I understand it, the week of the 29th of September,
21 we have Tuesday off, so we would be going Monday, Wednesday, Thursday.
22 Now, I know we did this last year. I don't know if our schedule permits
23 it this year, but I think that it would be helpful to us if we could have
24 Monday off and then go Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. It would be more
25 convenient for our witness as well.
1 Now, you're shaking your head, Mr. President. I take it that
2 you've already considered the matter and there's a scheduling conflict.
3 Well, I had to go for it anyway.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] There's absolutely a
5 scheduling problem. If the witness comes on Monday, well, I'll be here
6 on Monday. Then for Tuesday, we'll just wait it out, as we say. That
7 way, your witness can go and visit the city. And we'll continue on
8 Wednesday and Thursday. This is a very pleasant city. I'm sure your
9 witness will be very happy to roam the town.
10 MR. KARNAVAS: Assuming the weather cooperates.
11 Thank you, Mr. President. That's all I had.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Let's bring the
13 witness into the courtroom, please. Could the usher please go get the
15 [The witness entered court]
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Good morning, sir.
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good afternoon.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You should be hearing, in your
19 own language, what I am saying.
20 Could you please give us your name, surname, and date of birth
21 and place of birth.
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Borislav Puljuc, the 22nd of April,
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Do you have a job at the
25 moment? If so, which job?
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. I work as the manager of the
2 Ekoplan company, a designing company. I'm an architectural engineer and
3 I work as an architectural designer.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you. Have you already
5 testified before an international tribunal or a national court on what
6 happened in the former Yugoslavia
7 be testifying?
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I have not testified so far about
9 the issue of the events that took place in the former Yugoslavia before
10 any tribunal, and I appeared before a court only once on another matter.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Which court and for which
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] As a witness before the local court
14 in Mostar a month ago.
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] What was the case about?
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It concerned a case from the field
17 of urbanism in Neum.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Please read the
19 solemn declaration.
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will
21 speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
22 WITNESS: BORISLAV PULJIC
23 [The witness answered through interpreter]
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you. You may sit down.
25 Let me give you some details on what will happen, as I do for
2 You will be asked questions by Mr. Karnavas, whom you've already
3 met during the preparation of this hearing. After this phase, which will
4 take some time, the other Defence lawyers of the other accused will also
5 be allowed to put questions to you, but this will be a cross-examination,
6 either cross-examination or examination-in-chief, depending on the topics
7 addressed. The Prosecutor on your right, only one will be putting
8 questions to you during the cross-examination. The three Judges on the
9 Bench -- normally we're four, but the reserve Judge is not with us as of
10 now, so these three Judges can also intervene to ask questions during the
12 During the this hearing, Mr. Karnavas will probably show --
13 present documents to you. They're in a binder, and documents
14 [as interpreted] will be put to you on these documents. Please try to be
15 very specific in your answers. If you don't understand a question, don't
16 hesitate to ask the person asking the question to reformulate it.
17 Notably, if it's a Judge asking a question and if you don't understand
18 this question, ask the Judge to reformulate the question.
19 We will have breaks every hour and a half. These breaks are
20 usually 20 minutes' long. That way, you can rest, the Judges and
21 everyone else also can rest also during those breaks, but those breaks
22 are only 20 minutes' long. If at any moment, however, you don't feel
23 good because you're too warm, too hot, or feel uneasy, please ask for a
25 Judges, of course, are available if you have any questions to put
1 to them at any point in time.
2 And, finally, you -- just a minute ago, you took a solemn
3 declaration. This means that you're now in the hands of justice, you're
4 the witness of justice, which means that you should not have any contact
5 anymore with the lawyers until your hearing is up, is over.
6 Mr. Karnavas, you have the floor.
7 MR. KARNAVAS: Thank you, Mr. President. And, again, good
8 afternoon to everyone.
9 Examination by Mr. Karnavas:
10 Q. Good afternoon, sir. You're going to have to speak so we can
11 make a record.
12 Now, Mr. Puljic, you indicated that you are an architectural
13 engineer. As I understand it, you're about to get your PhD in that
14 field. Is that correct?
15 A. Yes, at the University of Zagreb
16 doctoral thesis, so actually I'm nearing the end of my doctoral studies
17 in architecture.
18 Q. And as I understand it, your specialty, if we can call it that,
19 is on urban planning.
20 A. Yes. But in view of the small market of architectures in
22 interiors, although my specialty is urban planning and, in particular,
23 town planning.
24 Q. And, in fact, as I understand it, in addition to your private
25 practice, you also engage for the Federation, and if you could please
1 tell us how so.
2 A. I'm the owner and manager of the private company Ekoplan in
3 Mostar. We are quite busy working on many projects, and the project
4 you're probably referring to is the physical planning of
5 Bosnia-Herzegovina. This is done by a consortium of three companies;
6 IPSA from Sarajevo
7 Ekoplan. Therefore, these three companies are currently developing the
8 physical planning plan of Bosnia-Herzegovina for the next 20 years.
9 Q. Mr. Puljic, I warned you before we got here and I'll warn you
10 again, you need to speak slowly and complete your sentences. So don't
11 chew off the end of the sentence. Okay, thank you.
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Now, I want to take you back to when you first started, when you
14 first got out of university. Could you please tell us what you were
15 doing at the time? What sort of work did you begin doing?
16 A. Upon graduating from the Sarajevo University
17 in the Directorate for the Construction of Neum. I spent three years
18 working there and was charged with administrative affairs of the
19 municipality, but also in specific matters dealing with the town planning
20 of Neum and the municipality in general.
21 Thereafter, I completed my military service and then started
22 working for the Mostar municipality.
23 Q. All right. Now, before we move on --
24 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
25 MR. KARNAVAS: Sorry.
1 Q. Before we move on to Mostar, and again I must caution you to
2 speak slowly, you said that while you were in Neum, you were dealing with
3 administrative -- certain administrative affairs. Could you give us the
4 details on that?
5 A. Yes. The Directorate for the Construction of Neum was a company
6 of quite a specific nature. Given that Neum is a small town and there
7 was a shortage in engineers, we engaged in businesses which had to do
8 with different fields. One of them was the conduct of the administrative
9 procedure for the purposes of the municipality, which is something that
10 we did. However, we also engaged in designing and the supervision of
11 construction works and so on. We also discharged all the other tasks
12 that we were given by the municipality president or by the president of
13 the executive committee of Neum municipality.
14 Q. Were you specifically given any particular task of which you
15 worked on for two or three years -- two or three months? I'm sorry.
16 A. Yes. On one occasion, I was charged with a specific task, i.e.,
17 to develop the wartime plan for the municipality of Neum
18 am a specialist in; in other words, in the field of urbanism and town
19 infrastructure, I was supposed to develop a plan for the operation of the
20 municipality in times of war and in times of an immediate threat of war.
21 The municipality of Neum
22 urgent need for it to be developed, because a commission was due to come
23 from Belgrade
24 various municipalities. I was the one who developed the plan ultimately.
25 It was, after having been developed, adopted by a municipal body, which
1 then forwarded it for approval to higher-level bodies and is then stored
2 by the municipality president and set aside until a need may arise to
3 apply it.
4 Q. Mr. Puljic, I'm going to ask you to give me shorter answers just
5 to my questions, and I'll walk you through step by step.
6 You said "a wartime plan." Are we talking about a defence plan,
7 and if so, could you please, in a few words, tell us what is this defence
9 A. In the event of a war or imminent threat of war, or in the event
10 of any natural disaster, the municipality cannot operate as it normally
11 does. For this reason, it was very important to clearly designate the
12 essential tasks and who is to carry them out. This entailed us to define
13 these tasks specifically, because the municipality has to function.
14 There has to be running water, electricity. Public utilities have to
15 continue operating, albeit under new and specific circumstances. Any
16 municipality has to be prepared for such an event.
17 Q. All right, thank you. Now, after your three years in Neum, you
18 went off -- you went to Mostar. Could you please tell us what you were
19 doing in Mostar? And be brief, please.
20 A. In Mostar, I worked as a specialist for urbanism and public
21 utilities in the Secretariat of Urbanism.
22 Q. All right. And I'm going to fast forward a little bit. As I
23 understand it, at point one time, you were on the Crisis Staff for the
24 Mostar municipality. Is that correct?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Could you please tell us what period?
2 A. That was between mid-March 1992 and the time when the
3 Crisis Staff stopped operating.
4 Q. Please explain to us how is it that you became a member of the
5 Crisis Staff.
6 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Excuse me, Mr. Karnavas.
7 Witness, when did the Staff stop operating? It would be more
8 convenient if we had the date.
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I don't know the exact date. It
10 is, in fact, very difficult to pinpoint the precise date when it stopped
11 operating, since as the time went by, the Crisis Staff had fewer tasks,
12 fewer resources, and fewer funds to operate. That's why I cannot tell
13 you the precise date. I know that over time, the Crisis Staff was
14 practically left without any specific function.
15 JUDGE TRECHSEL: But you must be able to say approximatively.
16 You said "approximately mid-March," you started, and do you not remember
17 at all when it stopped -- when you stopped working with the Crisis Staff?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The Crisis Staff ceased to exist in
19 early May 1992, if I remember correctly.
20 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
21 MR. KARNAVAS:
22 Q. Now, could you please explain to us how it is that you became a
23 member of the Crisis Staff, sir?
24 A. Sometime in mid-March 1992, a meeting was called of the Assembly
25 of the Mostar municipality. Since the war had already broken out in
1 Mostar and there was general chaos in town, this session could not be
2 held in the Congress hall or in the Assembly hall. For that reason, all
3 the assemblymen were invited to gather in a shelter on the other end of
4 town, where it was somewhat more calm and where the communications centre
5 of the Territorial Defence of the town of Mostar was housed. Ex officio,
6 as the secretary of the Secretariat for Urbanism, I was duty-bound to
7 attend all sessions. That was prescribed by the law. That's how I came
8 to attend that particular session. A great many assemblymen failed to
9 show up at this session. Some had already fled town. Others were in the
10 army. Still others were afraid. And it signaled the fact that the
11 sessions could no longer be held as per normal. For this reason, the
12 officials at the Assembly said that the Assembly should cease to operate
13 in times of war and that, in accordance with the law, a crisis staff
14 ought to be organised which would assume upon itself all the powers
15 normally vested with the town authorities.
16 In the Crisis Staff, some were elected and others were appointed.
17 The president of the Assembly and the president of the Executive
18 Committee were supposed to become members of the Crisis Staff by virtue
19 of their position, and every party represented in the Assembly should
20 have one representative sitting on the Staff, whilst bearing in mind the
21 need to represent the ethnic makeup of the town as well.
22 Q. Thank you. But you, in particular, you were merely, and I say
23 "merely" because in a hierarchy of things - urbanism is not one of the
24 most important departments or secretariats - how is it that you, as the
25 secretary of the Secretariat for Urbanism, got selected?
1 A. At one point, somebody nominated me and Mr. Skutor to be
2 representatives of the Croat people in that Crisis Staff. By a show of
3 hands of the delegates who were present, we were elected onto the Staff.
4 Q. Now, before we talk about the Crisis Staff, could you please tell
5 us, just very briefly, what did the Secretariat of Urbanism do? What was
6 its function and what were you doing, exactly, as the secretary of the
8 A. The very name -- the very title of the Secretariat indicates its
9 function. Its title was Secretariat for Urbanism, Construction, Housing
10 and Public Utility Affairs, and Environmental Protection. The
11 Secretariat busied itself with the issuing of the building permits, with
12 the housing affairs, public utility affairs; in other words,
13 coordinating -- or being the coordinator between the cleaning services,
14 et cetera, various public companies, and approximately 70 staff worked
15 for the Secretariat.
16 Q. And you, as the secretary of the Secretariat, exactly, could you
17 tell us what was your function?
18 A. I directed the work of the Secretariat, coordinated all the
19 various tasks, and together with my assistants, I dealt with all the
20 requests that we received from citizens, and we would receive between
21 6.000 to 7.000 various requests from the general citizenry per year, and
22 of course we also had to coordinate the activities of the various public
23 utility companies.
24 Q. Thank you, Mr. Puljic. Now, we're going to be going through some
25 documents where specific dates will be noted in those documents, and one
1 of them does show that the Crisis Staff was established on 12 March 1992
2 If you could please explain to the Trial Chamber, so they can get an
3 understanding, what it was like in Mostar at or around that time that led
4 the Assembly members to set up the Crisis Staff.
5 A. At the time -- or by that time, there had been a lot of shooting
6 around the town. The town was also being shelled and all the public
7 utilities had trouble operating. There was poor supply of running water
8 and electricity. The cleaning services hardly did their job. The
9 undertakers could not carry out the burials. Many residents fled the
10 town, and at the same time there was a large inflow of refugees. In a
11 word, chaos reigned in the town.
12 Q. For how long did this chaos reign until the Assembly decided to
13 set up the Crisis Staff?
14 A. Chaos started as soon as the reservists of the Yugoslav People's
15 Army came over from Serbia
16 these trooped appeared in the streets of the town, chaos emerged, and
17 this situation prevailed through to the time when the last session of the
18 Assembly was held.
19 Q. Well, when did they arrive? I mean, I think it's important for
20 the Trial Chamber to understand, because my next question is going to be:
21 What, if anything, did the state government do to alleviate the situation
22 in Mostar?
23 A. The state authorities, and I mean at the level of
24 Bosnia-Herzegovina, did nothing, while the local authorities were
25 powerless. The local police was poorly armed and didn't have any powers
1 over military personnel.
2 When the reservists arrived, and I can't recall the exact
3 date - I think it was in November 1991 - incidents occurred around the
4 town on a daily basis that could not be contained either by the local
5 police or by the local authorities.
6 Q. All right. Now, you spoke of the special Assembly meeting that
7 was held. Where were the Assembly meetings normally held, which side of
8 the town?
9 A. The Assembly meetings normally took place at the Assembly Hall,
10 which was the municipality building on Marsala Tita Street on the left
11 bank of the Neretva.
12 Q. All right. On that particular occasion -- and when the special
13 meeting was held, where the Crisis Staff was formed, where was it formed
14 exactly? Where did you gather?
15 A. Roughly a kilometre and a half or a kilometre and 700 metres to
16 the right of that building on the left bank of the river. Since the
17 building could not be reached any longer, it was very risky to try and
18 reach it, since the left bank of the river was rife with reservists and
19 armed men.
20 Q. Okay. Now, are you meeting on the right side of the bank or the
21 left? We have to be precise, and the record now says "the left bank."
22 So which side of the bank?
23 A. On the right bank.
24 Q. All right. Now --
25 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I'm sorry, Mr. Karnavas.
1 You said "to the left," but the left is relative. It depends
2 from where you look. Could you be more precise?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] There's a rule. If you're looking
4 downstream, then the left bank is our left side and the right bank -- so
5 the left bank of the Neretva is the eastern part of Mostar where the old
6 town and the municipality hall are situated.
7 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Correct, thank you.
8 MR. KARNAVAS: All right.
9 Q. Now, at this special session, how many delegates showed up, do
10 you recall, and what was the ethnic makeup?
11 A. I don't know the exact number of delegates, but I know for sure
12 that many of them were missing. As for the ethnic composition, I know
13 that representatives of all ethnic groups and of all parties were there,
14 even if it was just one member. But all the parties and all the ethnic
15 groups were represented.
16 Q. And what about on the Crisis Staff; can you tell us the breakdown
17 of the percentage?
18 A. It was agreed at the meeting that as far as the large ethnic
19 parties were concerned, at least two representatives from each party
20 would be included, and the second principle would be that each party
21 would be represented by at least one delegate, regardless of their
22 ethnicity. And in that way, they wished to provide both party and ethnic
23 equality. It's true that some members, by law and ex officio, became
24 members of the Crisis Staff.
25 Q. All right. Now, who became president of the Crisis Staff?
1 A. By law, the president of the Crisis Staff had to be the president
2 of the city assembly. By law and ex officio, the president of the
3 executive board of the town also became a member of the Crisis Staff.
4 Q. I'm asking for presidents, so just restrict your answers to my
5 questions. And who was that individual?
6 A. Milivoje Gagro, the president of the Assembly, by law took the
7 post of president of the Crisis Staff.
8 Q. All right. Now, let me go back to your experience in Neum, where
9 you indicated that you were in charge of drafting the defence plan.
10 Could you please tell the Trial Chamber who was in charge of -- or the
11 keeper of the defence plan in a particular municipality?
12 A. The plan was kept in the safe of the president of the
13 municipality in each municipality.
14 Q. Okay. You say "the president of the municipality." Is this the
15 executive --
16 A. Municipal assembly.
17 Q. Well, the municipal assembly, is that the executive or is that
18 the legislative? So we have to be very precise on this, and let me be
19 even more precise. In Mostar, who would have been in charge of the
20 defence plan? Just give me a name.
21 A. Milivoje Gagro.
22 Q. Now, you told us that from sometime in November 1991, to your
23 recollection, Mostar began having problems, and we know or we're going to
24 find out that on 12 March the Crisis Staff was established. Could you
25 please tell the Trial Chamber if and when Mr. Gagro pulled out this
1 defence plan.
2 A. Well, I don't know that he ever pulled it out.
3 Q. All right. Now, let's talk a little bit about the Crisis Staff.
4 And we're going to go through the documents, so we'll see a little more
5 bit more concretely what it was doing, but could you give us a short
6 narrative exactly how this Crisis Staff operated and what exactly it was
7 able to accomplish, if anything?
8 A. The Crisis Staff functioned with difficulty, with a lot of
9 difficulty, and it didn't function to a great extent. There was several
10 reasons for that. We were not in our own building, first. We didn't
11 have the premises to work. We were in a shelter. Second, all the
12 municipal services, all the offices for social services, urbanism, all
13 the municipal offices simply fell apart, because people were escaping
14 from the left bank to the right, many people left as refugees, they left
15 Mostar, some of them were afraid, so in the best case some of the offices
16 perhaps found some small room on the right bank of the river and that's
17 where they would just report as having come to work in the morning.
18 Maybe 10, 20, or 30 per cent of staff would do this, and then they would
19 go home or to cellars to hide from the shelling. So we didn't have a
20 building, we didn't have staff. We didn't have the offices, departments.
21 There was no financial means. There was no money for the Crisis Staff.
22 There were no basic elements for it to function. At the very beginning,
23 all it had was its authority.
24 Some members of the Crisis Staff were absolutely passive and some
25 were trying to do something concrete and to assist in resolving the
1 municipal -- the city problems. The everyday situation made them do
2 that. They would be faced with problems from citizens and the directors
3 of public utilities, who would come to them.
4 Q. Well, who were the passive members and who were the ones who were
5 trying to do something concrete?
6 A. The president of the Crisis Staff was passive. As for the public
7 utilities and their problems, and I think that was the basic job of the
8 Crisis Staff, Ismet Hadziosmanovic and Zijad Demirovic were also passive,
9 while some members were really attempting to help the citizens to set up
10 some kind of order, and these were Andrija Skobic, Josip Skutor, Jole
11 Musa and so on.
12 Q. All right. Could you please describe to the Trial Chamber the
13 assistance that the Crisis Staff for the Mostar municipality received
14 from the state, from the state government or the president of the
16 A. We didn't have any contact with --
17 Q. [Previous translation continues]... come to visit? He was the
18 president of the Presidency.
19 A. No.
20 Q. Did he send any representatives over there to see how the folks
21 in Mostar were doing?
22 A. No one officially ever came from the central organs of power,
23 although I must say that in a brief period of time, two or three or
24 perhaps five or six days, within that period two people appeared who
25 introduced themselves as representatives of the republican police
1 administration. They showed their IDs. So it was the republic-level
2 police, but I think that they were just escaping from Sarajevo. And they
3 were there for a few days, they kind of wandered around, and then they
4 disappeared. In any case, there was no official connection between us or
5 anyone in Sarajevo
6 Q. All right. Now, did the Crisis Staff ever try to mobilise the
7 citizens of the Mostar municipality to sort of establish some sort of a
8 territorial defence, something to defend the city?
9 A. The municipality cannot carry out mobilisation, although there is
10 an office there for defence, but that office can carry out a mobilisation
11 only pursuant to orders from military organs.
12 Q. Okay. Well, do you know whether any military organs issued such
13 authorisation in order for there to be a mobilisation for the defence of
15 A. I don't know.
16 Q. Was there any sort of a defence organ in the Mostar municipality
17 at the time?
18 A. The Territorial Defence of the city of Mostar existed. However,
19 it fell apart completely. We had no contact with any single
20 representatives of the Territorial Defence of the municipality of Mostar
21 because it simply fell apart.
22 Q. All right. Were there any citizens of Mostar who organised
23 themselves into some sort of a defence force?
24 A. Yes. The HVO existed at the time.
25 Q. Now, we've heard testimony and we'll see some documents that on
1 29th of April, 1992, the HVO was given the authority to defend the Mostar
2 municipality. If you could briefly describe to us, as a member of the
3 Crisis Staff, how is it the Crisis Staff transferred this duty to the
5 A. We felt completely powerless at the Crisis Staff. The actual
6 situation in the field was such that chaos reigned in town. The JNA was
7 trying to occupy the whole town, and the HVO was trying to prevent that
8 and was setting up a line of defence. Simply speaking, we had pressure
9 from citizens every day to do something. Since there was no territorial
10 defence and since the civilian police was absolutely powerless to act,
11 the only solution was to ask the HVO to take over the defence of the
12 town, the defence of the citizens, and to defend their lives.
13 Q. And did they do that?
14 A. They did. We just handed that to them. We asked them to do it,
15 and they took that upon themselves.
16 Q. All right. Now, we also know that a decision was issued on the
17 15th of May, 1992, that dismantled the Crisis Staff, and could you please
18 explain to us -- I know you touched a little bit on that with
19 Judge Trechsel's question, but could you please tell us: By that point,
20 because we've also heard testimony here, the very first witness, I
21 believe, it was Mr. Pejanovic, first or second, that the east side had
22 fallen on the 13th of May, 1992, but could you please tell us what
23 exactly the Crisis Staff is doing and what is happening in Mostar so the
24 Trial Chamber can have a very clear understanding of the situation there?
25 A. There was fighting in Mostar, and the Crisis Staff simply had no
1 function. We stopped meeting. Every member of the Crisis Staff started
2 to worry about their own fate, and the Crisis Staff didn't have any force
3 any longer to act or do anything in town. It could be said, thus, that
4 already by May 1992, early May, we did not undertake any activities. The
5 situation in the town was worse and worse.
6 Q. All right. Now, just very briefly, because we need to get into
7 the documents, if you could tell us, after the dismantling of the
8 Crisis Staff, what if anything did you do? What was your involvement in
9 and around the Mostar municipality following the dismantling of the
10 Crisis Staff?
11 A. There was never a formal dismantling of the Crisis Staff. We
12 didn't hold a meeting to that effect. Before we actually never met again
13 in that function, we already had started to take up other duties. After
14 the Crisis Staff, for example, I started to -- began in the Special
15 Purposes Council of the HVO, together with some other colleagues, so the
16 HVO staff of the city of Mostar
17 assigned certain tasks to them.
18 Q. And what was the purpose of this special-purpose council?
19 A. The main purpose was to use the authority and the cadre potential
20 of the people in the council to start -- or to try to secure for the HVO
21 material funds or financial means for their activities. This means that
22 the council comprised people who had business connections, who were able
23 to assist to procure equipment, and so on and so forth, so that the HVO
24 could function more easily.
25 Q. And the HVO we're speaking of is now this military force that has
1 been given the authority to defend the city; correct?
2 A. Yes, it's the military, the army.
3 Q. All right. Now, how long did this special-purpose council last?
4 A. We met two or three times. After that, we began to work
5 individually. If I look at it, perhaps our collective work lasted a
6 month or two. After that, we all worked on an individual basis. We did
7 what we were able to, what we knew how to do for the needs of the HVO.
8 Q. And was there some sort of a president of this council, was there
9 some sort of hierarchy? Was there a statute that set out how it was to
10 work and whom they were supposed to report to? Could you help us out
12 A. We only worked on the basis of what was written in the decision
13 on our establishment, meaning that we were supposed to use our business
14 connections and to try, out of the Herzegovina
15 kinds of support, including financial means, for the assistance of the
16 HVO. At the time, the three of us, Neven Tomic, Jadranko Prlic, and
17 myself were leading in efforts to do this, but really we all worked more
18 or less on an equal basis and cooperated together.
19 Q. All right. Now, after your work with the special-purpose
20 council, did you do anything else in the Mostar municipality?
21 A. Well, no. The municipality didn't exist.
22 Q. Okay. Well, once the -- at some point, however, we will see
23 documents that they began -- there was some sort of an executive
24 authority that was put in place to take care of the day-to-day functions
25 of the municipality; is that correct?
1 A. Throughout that period, there was pressure from the citizens who
2 had all of these problems regarding public utilities. There was pressure
3 on the army. For example, if the utility that is in charge of cleaning
4 the town doesn't have any fuel and cannot get it from the municipality,
5 then it exerts pressure on the army. If the undertakers' services in the
6 city have no possibility to carry out their job and they don't have
7 anyone else to go to, they will go to the military. So the pressure in
8 this sense was quite considerable on the military, and they were unable
9 to do their proper jobs because of it, whereas in the municipality there
10 was no way that anybody could resolve these problems, the problems of the
11 citizens who remained in Mostar and also the refugees who came to Mostar.
12 The municipality was not able to deal with their problems, their issues.
13 Q. So what happened?
14 A. Then the HVO set up some sort of local city administration, and
15 that is when those problems began to be resolved in that body, easing the
16 pressure on the military.
17 Q. Were you involved in any capacity with this new city
18 administration, if we want to call it that?
19 A. Yes, I was. The public enterprise for construction and
20 reconstruction of Mostar was formed, and I was the director of that
21 company, and I began to work in that company. This was a publicly-owned
22 company. It was owned by that local administration, the civilian
24 Q. All right. Well, what exactly did this company do? Just, you
25 know, give us a general picture.
1 A. The enterprise comprised a number of prewar companies, including
2 the Prostor public company that dealt with physical and town planning,
3 then also the Dom prewar public company which dealt with the housing
4 issues of the municipality, also the Public Parks and Recreation Service
5 that maintained all the green spaces, also the public
6 utilities/maintenance company dealt with issues of water, electricity and
7 so on, and the -- and the business premises fund. So all of these
8 different functions of these companies were transferred to this main
9 company that took over all of these duties, and the concentration was
10 necessary because a large number of personnel had left all of these
11 prewar companies - some became refugees, some went to the army, there
12 wasn't enough staff - so we needed to just put all these resources
13 together into this one company.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, please, I have
15 listened to the answers you've just provided to the questions that were
16 put to you in order to understand the situation, because the situation is
17 indeed very complex. While I was listening to you, I got the impression
18 that under the communist regime of the former Yugoslavia, there were
19 various public entities, public companies, and you've just mentioned the
20 functions of such entities. From what you've been saying, it seems that
21 at some stage Serb reservists arrived in November 1991, and one gets the
22 impression that general chaos ensued, that the municipality doesn't work
23 anymore. Some people leave, elected representatives among them. That's
24 what you said. And there is the general chaos. It seems that there's
25 also combat operations. And then in order to address this situation, if
1 I understood correctly, but if I'm mistaken, please let me know, the HVO
2 then tries to remedy all those problems and shortcomings, and will set up
3 a general enterprise, so to speak, comprised of various companies from
4 different sectors in order to revive the local economy.
5 Now, is my understanding correct? Is this the situation you were
6 faced with? Everything was working under the communist regime. Then the
7 Serb reservists arrived in November 1991. Then problems started, all
8 structures disappeared, there's hardly any state left, and the HVO will
9 try and address the situation as it was at the time? Is this a correct
10 understanding? Is my summary of the situation correct?
11 And as I said, if I am mistaken, please rectify the situation.
12 Thank you.
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, you are correct. All I would
14 like to do is just to make one small remark.
15 While the shells were dropping and while our town was being
16 destroyed in front of our eyes, while buildings were burning, I
17 remembered one lesson from university, how the engineers in Rotterdam
18 during the World War II, while that town was being destroyed, while
19 buildings were being damaged and destroyed by bombs dropped from planes,
20 they were designing those same buildings, so my idea was that we have to
21 be prepared once peace comes. If we were unable to restore the buildings
22 as the bombs were dropping, we can at least design new ones in their
23 place. And I suggested this to Mr. Jadran Topic, and he said that I
24 should write a decision that would enable me to mobilise engineers to
25 work on this job, and at the same time we prevented them from going to
1 the army, from having to go to the front. And they began to design
2 buildings to restore the town. They began to dream of peace and to dream
3 of a new town more beautiful than it was before.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Sir, in your own area you'd
5 designed reconstruction plans. What was being destroyed under your own
6 eyes, I guess were not the only one. I guess there were other people,
7 just like you, who wanted to rebuild and go on living. But what you were
8 trying to do, was it in response to the situation or what you were trying
9 to do, was it based on ideology? In other words, were you faced with an
10 extreme situation or was it all part of an overall plan?
11 I know this is a complicated question, but I'm sure you'll manage
12 to answer.
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] If my understanding of your
14 question is correct, then this is my answer:
15 Our activities, including mine, and when I say "our activities,"
16 I wish to say that more than 120 engineers were found by me over the
17 course of a couple of days to work on this, our activities were not
18 either ideological or ethnic based at that moment, national. What we
19 wanted at that point was merely to be useful. We had expertise, and we
20 wanted to put it to some use, rather than sit on our hands. We were not
21 ideologically motivated. This can best be viewed through the composition
22 of the group of people who worked on this, and through what we were
23 doing, and through the first series of seminars which discussed how the
24 reconstruction should unfold, and these seminars were held.
25 As soon as the company was set up. We even had the president of
1 the Party for Democratic Change, formally the Communist Party, among our
2 ranks. He was one of the participants in the seminar who spoke of what
3 the future of our town should look like. In other words, the company had
4 representatives of all different political party platforms,
5 representatives of various parties or all of the political parties who
6 were once represented in the town assembly.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you.
8 Mr. Karnavas, you have the floor.
9 MR. KARNAVAS: Thank you.
10 Q. And I take it you had all different nationalities as well,
12 A. Absolutely. At that point, nobody was concerned with an
13 individual's ethnicity.
14 Q. All right. Could you please tell us, how long did this public
15 enterprise last?
16 A. It lasted all the way until four or five months ago, when it went
18 Q. All right. And for how long were you engaged with this public
20 A. I worked in the public enterprise until the European
21 administration was introduced in Mostar; in other words, until the
22 arrival of Mr. Kosnik [phoen], when I was appointed deputy president of
23 the HVO. That was Mr. Mijo Brajkovic who was president of the HVO at the
25 Q. Could you give us a month and a year, please? It really helps.
1 A. I think it was in 1994.
2 Q. Okay. Now, during this period, could you please tell us how many
3 engineers, architects or other professionals you had working in this
4 public enterprise?
5 A. Very soon -- at the very outset, more than 120 experts,
6 specialists of the field, became active in the company. We were very
7 busy all the way until early 1993, when due to the fact that the
8 situation in the town grew more complex, we suffered an outflow of
9 personnel, and our numbers were reduced, but the number of individuals
10 active in the company was never smaller than 50 or 60 people.
11 Q. All right. Now, could you please tell us how this public
12 enterprise was financed?
13 A. Well, it wasn't financed at all. There was no money. In the
14 beginning, people worked on a voluntary basis and did not expect any
15 remuneration. I managed to make sure that the people who were involved
16 in the company received the collective humanitarian aid. I obtained it
17 from the Caritas, and thus, in that early period they in fact worked in
18 the company in exchange for a small bag of food stuffs that came as part
19 of the humanitarian aid.
20 Q. Okay. As far as the projects, though, where did the money
21 come -- who was financing the projects which this public enterprise was
22 involved in?
23 A. There was no money. We received all sorts of aid, for instance.
24 For instance, from the Konstruktor company in Split, we received the
25 equipment for drafting, computers, and so on and so forth. When it came
1 to the stage of specific works, we wielded our authority and approached
2 various companies that still had different materials in stock in
3 warehouses throughout the town, and that's how we managed to work. What
4 we provided, however, was primarily specialist engineering assistance or
6 Q. All right. These companies that you speak of, were they
7 privately-owned companies or are they socially-owned companies, not to be
8 mistaken with public enterprises? And I'm sure you're going to help us
9 out here.
10 A. They were all socially-owned companies.
11 Q. And could you please inform us a little bit about the distinction
12 between a public enterprise and a socially-owned enterprise or
13 socially-owned company?
14 A. The owner of a public company is the state. Keeping in mind the
15 peculiar nature of the Yugoslav system, in theory the owner of a
16 socially-owned company are the workers employed in that company, together
17 with the community at large. In other words, we had the right to take
18 away something from the community in order to give it back to the
20 MR. KARNAVAS: All right. I take it the Trial Chamber is clear
21 with the answers, so I'll move on.
22 Q. And just very briefly --
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] No, the answer is not very
24 clear, Witness. You're saying that theoretically the owner of the
25 socially-owned enterprise is the worker of that enterprise and all the
1 workers of that enterprise. I can't really make sense of this. A
2 socially-owned company, that's a public company is headed by the state.
3 It's not the workers in that company that can head that company. They
4 work for the company, but they don't own the company. So could you
5 please tell us how it worked, because it's not very clear in our minds.
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] We are merely theorizing now,
7 you'll appreciate. We are well aware of the fact that it was the state
8 that controlled everything. However, in theory, the state owns public
9 companies. The state sets public companies up and establishes governing
10 boards run by managers.
11 In socially-owned companies, workers elect workers' councils, who
12 would then elect managers of the companies, and managers were the ones
13 directing the company. Of course, the workers' councils, themselves,
14 were being controlled.
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Thank you for
16 these details. I think I understand now, I'm sure.
17 MR. KARNAVAS:
18 Q. And earlier you indicated that it was the state that owns the
19 public enterprises. At the municipal level, who owns them, and in
20 particular the one we're speaking of? Is it the BH state or is it the
21 Mostar municipality?
22 A. The Mostar municipality.
23 Q. And, again, and this may help clarify your previous answer, the
24 public enterprises, by and large in the former system, what sort of
25 activities were they engaged in?
1 A. Public affairs, supply of running water and electricity for the
2 benefit of residents, cleaning services for the town, and so on and so
4 Q. Okay. All right.
5 JUDGE TRECHSEL: To clarify something, Witness, you have said on
6 page 29, line 4: "We are merely theorizing now. You'll appreciate we
7 are all well aware of the fact that it was the state that controlled
8 everything." After this, you explained what the idea of a socially-owned
9 company was, but it's not quite clear whether this was more an aside and
10 part of the theorizing, and that in fact, with all of these companies
11 that you mentioned, all they were considered to be socially owned, it was
12 in fact the state, that is the municipality, which directed it? Did I
13 understand that correctly?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I'm not an expert in the field, but
15 I lived in those times. Everything was controlled by the League of
16 Communists. What we were discussing was theory.
17 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Then I'm a bit confused, because I thought we
18 were now talking of a later period where Mostar was practically in the
19 hands of the HVO, and within the framework of the HVO it was that you
20 carried out the planning and whatever else you did. And would you say
21 that not much had changed in this respect since SFRY times?
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I don't understand the question.
23 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I'm sorry, I can understand it. It's a bit
24 confusing, though.
25 In the course of the examination, Mr. Karnavas has taken you
1 through the times and we are now sometime in later 1992, I believe. The
2 Crisis Staff has already proven to be inefficient. The HVO has been
3 asked to take over the defence and is now generally the ruling force.
4 And you work for them in the area of urban planning, and you say that you
5 worked together with companies. The question then was: "What kind of
6 companies?" And you said they were socially-owned companies. And then
7 Mr. Karnavas asked you was it not different as compared to public
8 companies. Then you said, well, in fact everything was ruled by the
10 Now, that could not -- at this moment in time, the state, I
11 suppose, have been rather the municipality of Mostar
12 Communists or maybe the HVO.
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] When we discussed theory, I was
14 referring to the state of affairs as it existed before the war, because
15 that's how the question was put to me. The public enterprise for the
16 construction and reconstruction of Mostar was set up by the HVO.
17 However, the purpose of that enterprise was to work in the interests of
18 citizens. In its activities, it cooperated both with socially-owned
19 companies and with other public companies belonging to the municipality.
20 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you. I will leave it at that.
21 MR. KARNAVAS:
22 Q. Just as a follow-up question: By this point in time, had the
23 state, BiH, had it been transformed from a command economy to a market
25 A. At the time in Mostar, we did not feel that we were part of the
1 state of Bosnia-Herzegovina because there had been no contact with them,
2 there had been no communication. The transformation was underway at the
3 time, and it is still underway now.
4 Q. When you say "transformation," and "that is still underway now,"
5 you're talking about privatization of socially-owned enterprises and
6 property; is that what we're talking about?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. All right. Now --
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Just a minute.
10 Witness, I must say that I'm a bit confused also about all this.
11 Let's leave theory and go to practice. Let's assume -- let's talk about
12 the public utility, for example, the company in charge of the electricity
13 utility or the water utility. Could you tell us how it changed, what you
14 saw as changes? I guess that the public utility in charge of water must
15 have been controlled by the League of Communists at first. That's easy
16 to understand. But what happened afterwards? Could you please develop
17 using this example?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The public companies at municipal
19 level were set up by municipalities, and municipalities own these
20 companies and control their operation. The companies on the other side
21 have to report to the municipality, and they have to coordinate their
22 activities with the municipality. The socially-owned companies worked on
23 the market.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Water, who did it belong to?
25 Did it belong to the socially-owned companies or to the municipality?
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The water supply company, Vodovod,
2 was in charge of the water supply, and it was set up by the municipality.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] What about electricity; was it
4 the same thing?
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, the same applies to the
6 electricity supply, to the cleaning services, to the town landfill, to
7 the field of urbanism and town planning likewise.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I think I understand. Thank
10 MR. KARNAVAS: Just one final question --
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] All right, Mr. Karnavas.
12 MR. KARNAVAS: Thank you.
13 Q. One final question before we take our break and get into the
14 documents. If you could tell us what sort of work this public enterprise
15 actually did while you were with it.
16 A. The first task we had was to plan the future town development.
17 Our second task was to coordinate among all the public companies. In
18 other words, if a street is being built, then one company is in charge of
19 electricity, the other of water, and the third of the street landscape,
20 so our job was to organise all of it, to coordinate, and for all these
21 companies to carry the works out. So our task number 1 was urbanism and
22 town planning. Our second task was to take care of the housing
23 facilities in town; in other words, flats, to make sure that elevators
24 were operational in apartment blocks, that the roofing was intact, and so
25 on and so forth.
1 Q. Well, were you involved in anything else, such as fixing the
2 bridges or actually building any facilities? I'm asking you to be -- to
3 list, so the Trial Chamber can get an indication of what exactly you
4 folks were doing, and then we're going to go through and see more
5 concretely. Could you please help us out here?
6 A. We operated on three levels. One level was of everyday, so to
7 speak, housekeeping matters and wherever problems arose. The second
8 level were regular activities, and the third level was the future. This
9 meant that we were busy with repairing the damage to all the dwellings in
10 town in order to make sure that there was enough accommodation for
11 people. We also engaged in the designing and repairing of all the public
12 institutions to ensure the work of the town authorities. We also engaged
13 in the designing, planning, and constructing of infrastructure and with
14 town planning in itself.
15 However, at the time two tasks had the priority in Mostar. One
16 was to make sure that people had adequate accommodation, and the second,
17 to build bridges in order to connect the two parts of the town. With the
18 approach of winter, our main task and concern became the ensuring of
19 adequate heating for all the people. Other than that, we designed
20 schools, health centres, hospitals and so on and so forth.
21 Q. All right. And just one more question. Was an assessment ever
22 made by your public enterprise, and was there ever an occasion for you to
23 compile statistics as to what exactly your enterprise did?
24 A. Yes. We did that first, to ascertain what the state of affairs
25 was, and on that basis we made the plan of future activities, and of
1 course we prioritized.
2 MR. KARNAVAS: Thank you. Your Honour --
3 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I would like to add, it's still more than five
4 minutes, so we're in no hurry in that respect.
5 Witness, what is not quite clear to me still is the relationship
6 between the planning, which is clearly what you were doing, and the
7 execution of actual physical work. I had the feeling that you were
8 telling us that your group did the planning, the organising, the
9 coordination, but it was other entities, public companies of different
10 kinds, and even socially-owned companies, that actually did the building,
11 the repairing of elevators, of water conduct and whatever. Did I
12 understand that correctly or did you have your own construction company,
13 as it were, with bulldozers and so forth?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] We had engineers only. They were
15 consultants engaged in all the various activities you've just mentioned.
16 We were not a construction company executing works, as such. We would
17 try and be resourceful and rise up to the challenges of a given
19 JUDGE TRECHSEL: So in modern terms, you did the software and you
20 left the hardware to others; is that correct?
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, one could put it that way.
22 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. I think we can
24 have a break now, 20-minute break, and we will resume in 20 minutes.
25 --- Recess taken at 3.42 p.m.
1 --- On resuming at 4.08 p.m.
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The hearing is resumed.
3 Mr. Karnavas, you've used almost an hour.
4 MR. KARNAVAS: Thank you, Mr. President.
5 Q. Okay. Mr. Puljic, there's your binder, and we're going to go
6 through these documents. I would most appreciate it if you were brief
7 with your answers. Only answer the question, and speak a little slower
8 for the interpreters. Okay? Can you do that for me?
9 Okay, thank you.
10 All right. Let's look at the first document, P00135. That's
11 your first document. It's dated 12 March 1992, and we see that it's
12 signed by Milivoje Gagro, and he is -- at that point in time he's the
13 president of the Mostar municipality; correct?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. And do you recognise the session that is being discussed here on
16 the agenda?
17 A. I recognise a summons to a meeting. The agenda is the situation
18 in the town, and lawyers recommended at the meeting that the time was
19 ripe to abolish the Assembly and to form the Crisis Staff.
20 Q. All right. And do you recall -- well, let's look at agenda item
21 number 2, where it talks about resigning of chiefs of security service
22 centres of regions and of municipality. What are they talking about,
23 when it says "security service centres"?
24 A. CSB means "Security services centre," and it's the police. Since
25 they were unable to control the situation in the streets, the chief of
1 police resigned or wished to resign.
2 Q. All right. Well, are they military police or civilian --
3 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Civilian police. But you need to
5 know that the civilian police has no authority whatsoever over the
6 military police.
7 MR. KARNAVAS: Okay, okay.
8 Q. Are you talking about the civilian police have no authority over
9 military personnel, soldiers? That's what you're trying to tell us?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Okay, all right. Do you recall where this session was held,
12 because we see here that it's --
13 JUDGE TRECHSEL: A previous question, Mr. Karnavas, I'm sorry,
14 there is no address here, but it can be taken, I think, from the opening
15 paragraph that this is addressed to members of the Municipal Assembly.
16 Were you -- witness, were you a member of the Municipal Assembly at that
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I was not a member of the Municipal
19 Assembly, but by law and ex officio, I had to attend every meeting.
20 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Did you receive this convocation? Was it
21 addressed also to you?
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, I would always receive all the
23 invitations or summons for the Municipal Assembly meetings in the Mostar
25 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you. Excuse me, Mr. Karnavas.
1 MR. KARNAVAS:
2 Q. And do you recall attending this particular meeting?
3 A. Yes, I did attend this meeting.
4 Q. All right. Do you know where the meeting was actually held?
5 A. The meeting was held at the shelter in -- in a shelter at the top
6 of the avenue where the TO Mostar communications centre was.
7 Q. And, again, why was it held there, if you know?
8 A. Because members of the Assembly did not feel safe in the large
9 conference room of the Municipal Assembly building where they were
10 summoned to come.
11 Q. All right. If we look at the next document --
12 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
13 MR. KARNAVAS:
14 Q. Now, well, I guess, one last question. What, if anything,
15 happened at that particular meeting, if you recall?
16 A. Two things happened at the meeting. The Assembly was dismissed
17 or dismantled, and its function was taken over by the Crisis Staff.
18 Q. All right. If we go to the next document, 1D 01635, 1D 01635,
19 and here we see these are minutes of the first meeting of UNPROFOR
20 delegation and the Crisis Staff, Mostar municipality, and this is 27
21 April 1992. Having looked at this, I don't know -- I note that your name
22 is not mentioned at all. Do you know whether you attended this meeting,
24 A. I didn't attend this meeting.
25 Q. And did you at any point in time become familiar with the events
1 or the matters that were discussed at this particular meeting?
2 A. During the events, in conversations with Mr. Filipovic, who was
3 in charge of that area and who had the information, I then did become
4 familiar, yes.
5 Q. All right. At that point in time, could you please tell us how
6 many armed forces, armed troops, soldiers, whatever you want to call
7 them, of UNPROFOR were there, you know, in the Mostar municipality?
8 A. At the time, there were observers in the municipality of Mostar
9 I didn't see any armed UN forces.
10 Q. All right. Now, if we go to page number 2 on this, I don't know
11 if it is on page number 2 in your document, but at one point the UN
12 says -- the UN representative, that he heard on the radio that 100.000 to
13 160.000 people have fled from Bosnia-Herzegovina. Can you -- do you know
14 whether that figure more or less represents the facts at that time?
15 A. Yes.
16 MR. KARNAVAS: All right.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, if that figure more
18 or less represents the fact at the time, we're talking about 100.000 to
19 160.000 people who supposedly fled from Bosnia and Herzegovina
20 that this figure comprises citizens from Mostar. Do you think that this
21 figure comprises people from Mostar who may have fled from Bosnia and
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It's very difficult to speak about
24 the figures. I cannot give you the exact indicators. I do know that at
25 the time, there was an exodus from Mostar. My family had already left,
1 and the families of all of my friends, the wives and children, were out
2 of town already.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] My problem is the following.
4 I'll explain it to you, and I think my question is indeed at the very
5 heart of our discussions.
6 There is a Serb offensive. There is chaos. You already
7 described the situation. There are bombings. To your knowledge, at that
8 stage did people from Mostar choose to leave Mostar rather than hiding in
9 their cellars to avoid being killed by Serb shelling? To your knowledge,
10 did some people leave at that stage?
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, people were already leaving
12 town at that time.
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So people left the town.
14 Among those people, were there any Muslims who were living in West Mostar
15 or East Mostar?
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. Women and children were
17 mostly fleeing, Muslim women and children too, primarily. Yes, women and
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Could you give us a ballpark
20 figure? I'm talking about the number of women and children, Muslims, who
21 left Mostar at that time, or don't you have any ballpark figure to give
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] That number changed from day to
24 day, from hour to hour. It's very hard to speak about numbers at such
25 times. The first figures we received, when we began to review the number
1 of apartments in the town and the number of people in town, and this was
2 in June, after the left bank was liberated, it's very difficult to say,
3 because the situation changed from hour to hour. Women and children
4 first who had relatives in Western Herzegovina went to Western
6 bombed, all of them went to Dalmatia
7 groups left, both Muslims, Croats, even some Serbs who had friends in
9 Serbs went to the other side also when -- as they were fleeing the war.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] But you can't give us a
11 specific figure?
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No.
13 MR. KARNAVAS: All right. Before we leave this document, if we
14 go to the third page, on the top of the -- the third page in English,
15 there's a discussion here where Gagro says that, "Those are huge problems
16 for us, and it will become increasingly difficult to meet the basic needs
17 of the population. I must particularly stress that the aluminium complex
18 has been almost destroyed by the JA."
19 And then later on in the following paragraph, he says:
20 "That is why I urge to do something to stop the looting of the
21 aluminium complex."
22 Could you please describe to the Trial Chamber whether Mr. Gagro
23 is accurate when he's talking about the difficulty in feeding -- in
24 meeting the basic needs of the population and, secondly, the importance,
25 if any, of the aluminium complex?
1 A. Yes. He's speaking the truth. He knows exactly what he's
3 Q. All right. What about the aluminium complex; why is that
4 important, if it is?
5 A. The bulk of the town lives from the complex. That is the source
6 of our income. Watching television, we had the experience of Sibanik
7 [phoen], where the aluminium complex was completely destroyed by a single
8 shell. That means that the aluminium complex is in a field in Mostar,
9 but actually its heart is at the transformer station in Subac. So one
10 shell can destroy the entire complex, the entire facility, if you should
11 destroy the source of electricity. So the aluminium complex can only be
12 closed down according to a specifically-set technological process. If
13 you don't do it according to that process, it's destroyed forever. So
14 Mr. Gagro here is trying to maintain the electricity supply for the
15 aluminium complex so that it could be shut down properly and saved for
16 the future, because the JNA had taken over the transformer station of
17 Cule and did not allow it to be repaired.
18 Q. All right. Now, on the following page in English again, Gagro
19 says that -- he says:
20 "We are trying to negotiate with JA. We have offered talks
21 without any preconditions. We are confused by this because they claim
22 they are in favour of a dialogue, not conflict."
23 Can you confirm whether, indeed, the Crisis Staff at the time was
24 trying to negotiate with the JNA?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. All right. And then another point that might be of interest to
2 the Trial Chamber. On the following page, the UN says that they have a
3 second point, and it says:
4 "This is the problem of electrical power and water in Capljina
5 and Citluk. This is very important. The EC has already tried to assist
6 in this matter. The transformer station, Cule, is between the two sides.
7 I want a solution for repair as soon as possible because the situation in
8 Citluk and Capljina is very serious and my troops will be deployed
10 Now, the gentleman from the UN at the time was asking that there
11 be repairs to the electrical power problems -- electrical power and water
12 in Capljina and Citluk. Could you please describe to us what was the
13 problem there? And, of course, he being from the United Nations, one
14 would think that the United Nations would bring in the assistance as
15 opposed to demanding that a solution be found, so could you please tell
16 us what were the problems and what, if anything, the United Nations did,
17 through its representatives, to repair these problems at that time?
18 A. UN representatives didn't have enough information about the
19 actual state of affairs. It's evident here that their representative
20 does not understand the situation locally, doesn't understand the
21 priorities or the significance of the energy supply for certain
22 facilities, so they did very little or nothing in order to improve the
24 Q. All right. Now, finally, we see that the minutes were recorded
25 by Ilija Filipovic. Could you tell us who this gentleman was?
1 A. Ilija Filipovic worked at the business community. It was a
2 public enterprise, and he was working in the Crisis Staff and the HVO
3 staff at the same time.
4 Q. All right. Unless there are any questions, I'll move on to the
5 next document, which is 1D 01903. This is dated April 28, 1992. Again,
6 sir, I don't see your name anywhere. Can you tell us whether you
7 attended this particular meeting?
8 A. I did not attend that meeting.
9 Q. Okay. Do you know if at some point you became aware of the
10 discussions that took place during this meeting?
11 A. I've already said that in my daily conversation with Ilija
12 Filipovic, who is a good friend of mine, I got information about what was
13 happening at the meetings between the JNA, UNPROFOR, the observers, and
14 the Crisis Staff.
15 Q. All right. Now, on the very first page, we see a Mr. Skobic who
16 gave a detailed presentation on the issues related to electric power,
17 Energyopetrol, traffic, and economy. Now, one quick question. Have you
18 had a chance to look at these meetings, and can you confirm to the Trial
19 Chamber whether what Mr. Skobic is describing here is accurate?
20 A. Yes, everything Mr. Skobic is describing is accurate. At the
21 time, he was placing an emphasis on the energy supply problem because all
22 the energy supply facilities were on the left bank. The right bank of
23 the River Neretva in the town of Mostar
25 Q. All right. Let's look at page 2 for us, under item number 4,
1 which is the economy. We see Mr. Skobol [sic], he mentions the looting
2 at Sokol which caused approximately 200 million US dollars of damage, and
3 this gentleman from the UN says -- I believe he's from the UN --
4 indicates -- Mr. Lundgren, he replied that he was aware of the
5 consequences suffered by the civilian population, "all stated problems
6 should be included in the report to Mr. Nombiar and the BH government
7 should be approached over export issues."
8 My question is: Do you know whether the UN ever got ahold of the
9 BH government and whether the BH government ever did anything to
10 alleviate the situation, as being suggested here?
11 A. I don't know if the UN got in touch with the government of Bosnia
12 and Herzegovina
13 and it never issued a single instruction to us, or anything else.
14 Q. All right. And the very last page, just for housekeeping
15 purposes, we see that the recording clerk this time is a Jozo Kraljevic.
16 Do you know who Mr. Kraljevic is?
17 A. I do know Mr. Jozo Kraljevic.
18 Q. And what was his involvement with the Crisis Staff?
19 A. Jozo Kraljevic is a prominent citizen of Mostar, and he a
20 well-known translator or interpreter from the English language. He very
21 often did interpreting and also drafted the minutes.
22 Q. All right. Let's look at the next document, 1D 01904.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, please, before
24 Mr. Karnavas moves to another document, I'd like to come back to this
25 Mr. Lundgren. When he says that one should contact the government of
1 Bosnia-Herzegovina, one can draw the conclusion, by reading this
2 document, that in Mostar there's no representative of the government of
3 Bosnia-Herzegovina. Was it -- is it true or not?
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] That is correct, there was nobody
5 in Mostar who would be representing the government of Bosnia and
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Absolutely nobody, none, none
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No one.
10 MR. KARNAVAS:
11 Q. All right. If we go to the next document, 1D 01904, again these
12 are minutes, 29 April 1992
13 your name at all. Did you become familiar at any point in time with this
14 particular meeting as is being described in the minutes?
15 A. Yes. The meetings were held on a daily basis between the
16 UNPROFOR representatives, those of the Crisis Staff, and representatives
17 of the HVO would also occasionally be invited to attend these meetings.
18 Q. All right. Well, there's a discussion here between Mr. Topic and
19 Mr. Lundgren, and at one point Mr. Topic indicates that when they would
20 have these ceasefires, the JNA would take the opportunity to fly over
21 with helicopters to make an assessment as to what they had or had not hit
22 in order to readjust their targets. Can you please tell us whether that
23 was occurring, given the fact that you were a member of the Crisis Staff,
24 also living in Mostar, experiencing the situation as it was occurring?
25 A. Helicopters were manufactured in Mostar. The JNA had
1 helicopters, and they fly very low. But there was a helicopter that
2 could fly at quite a high altitude, and it had a kind of strange sound.
3 We would always know when that helicopter would be flying to record the
4 state of affairs, the situations. We could tell it was that one by the
6 Q. All right. Let's look at the next document, P 00180, P 00180.
7 This is dated 29 April 1992
8 we just looked at. We see this is a decision, and I'm going to draw your
9 attention to the very last page, and you'll see members of the
10 Crisis Staff and their signatures. Do you see that, sir?
11 A. I do.
12 Q. And we can see under number 4 that is your name; right?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. And if we were to look at the Crisis Staff, could you please tell
15 us how many Muslims are sitting on the Crisis Staff at this point? Just
16 give us the numbers or the names.
17 A. Four.
18 Q. And could you read out the names, please?
19 A. Ismet Hadziosmanovic, Zijad Demirovic, Mehmed B ahmen and Fikret
21 Q. All right. And are you familiar with this document, sir?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. And do you know how it was drafted?
24 A. I do. I drafted it.
25 Q. Okay. When did you draft it, sir?
1 A. I drafted it maybe seven or eight days before it was adopted.
2 Q. All right. Why did you draft it?
3 A. I saw that the Territorial Defence didn't exist. I saw that the
4 police was practically not functioning. I saw that the town was being
5 destroyed. I saw that the HVO was trying to protect and defend the town,
6 and I simply wanted to record the existing situation and, in a way, give
7 them the right and ask or request from the HVO to defend my town.
8 Q. All right. Now, and we'll talk a little bit about the HVO in a
9 moment, but could you please tell us whether, in drafting this decision,
10 you shared it with any other members of the Crisis Staff, either while
11 you were drafting it or immediately after drafting it and before
12 presenting it for its adoption?
13 A. At the time, I cooperated closely with Mr. Josip Skutor, and he
14 had all the information. A day before the decision was adopted, I met
15 Mr. Jadranko Prlic and Mr. Neven Tomic, Neven Tomic, and I asked them for
16 their opinion.
17 Q. How did you meet them? I mean, did you visit them, or did they
18 come up to you, or how was it that they were involved in looking at your
20 A. I don't know why, but they had some reason to come to the
21 shelter. They came to the Crisis Staff. When they finished their job, I
22 asked them -- to speak with them. I asked them to talk, I showed them
23 the decision, and we commented a bit on it.
24 Q. All right. Now, you -- do you recall what sort of business or
25 reasons they had for being there?
1 A. I don't know. At the time, different people would very often
2 come to the Crisis Staff and ask the president or one of the members to
3 give them some work, a job, so that they could give their contribution to
4 the defence of the city, and this happened quite often. People who had
5 not been activated would do that, and they couldn't reach their companies
6 on the left bank, so I assume that Mr. Prlic and Mr. Tomic, whose
7 companies were on the left bank, were unable to actually get to their own
9 Q. All right. And upon meeting with them and sharing with them your
10 draft, could you please tell us what, if anything, occurred?
11 A. Neven said that he approved of the decision, and Jadranko said
12 the same, although he suggested that I should add another article to the
13 decision; namely, Article 4.
14 Q. And what was that about?
15 A. He said that he believed it honest and correct to ensure equality
16 along the ethnic lines in the HVO and that the command structure had to
17 reflect the composition of the troops of the units.
18 Q. All right. And was this decision discussed before it was
19 adopted? Could you please tell us exactly how the decision came about?
20 A. I requested, on several occasions, that Mr. Gagro should place
21 the decision on the agenda and schedule a meeting for that very purpose.
22 He kept avoiding to do so, and in the course of a morning meeting I took
23 the floor and tabled the initiative to adopt one such decision. My
24 proposal was accepted by all but one of the participants of the meeting.
25 Q. All right. And who was that?
1 A. Mr. Murat Praso, a member of the Crisis Staff.
2 Q. All right. If we go on to the next document, 1D 0 --
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Just a minute, Witness. Let
4 me come back to this document. It's important for the responsibility of
5 Mr. Prlic.
6 If I understood things right, you drafted this document, you
7 created it on the 29th of April, 1992, you prepared this draft decision
8 by which HVO and Muslim units are set up. It is said here that Muslims
9 can have their own units. And you also state, on paragraph 3, that these
10 units will be placed under a single command, the single command of the HQ
11 of the Mostar municipality. And it seems that randomly, by chance, you
12 just meet Mr. Prlic and another person, who are in charge of companies,
13 and you're asking them for their advice. And Mr. Prlic personally asks
14 you to add a paragraph, paragraph number 4, in order to highlight and
15 stress that the command structure of the HVO must be -- must reflect the
16 ethnical makeup. That's what you're saying; right? You're confirming
17 this, you're confirming that this happened exactly this way?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Why didn't you, yourself,
20 think about making up this ethnical makeup where there would be an equal
21 balance between Croats and Muslims; why didn't that spring to mind to
22 you? Why was it that Mr. Prlic had to give you the idea?
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, you know, it is very
24 difficult to be drafting decisions when the shells are falling. You
25 can't keep everything in mind, and that's why we have the procedure in
1 place where many minds, many heads, come together with their various
2 suggestions. And had we had more discussions at the meeting, perhaps
3 something else would have been added to the decision.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. So this idea came
5 from Mr. Prlic.
6 Now, this decision number --
7 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter couldn't catch the number.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Was it circulated publicly or
9 did it remain confidential? The number of the decision is 427/92. Was
10 this decision published?
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Before I respond to your question,
12 let me just make a small correction of what you just said.
13 I drafted the decision five to six days before the 29th of April,
14 and it was on the 29th of April that it was adopted. At that point in
15 time, the Crisis Staff did not have a service which it used to have
16 before the war and which was charged with publishing decisions. The
17 Official Gazette of the local authorities was not being published, and
18 that's why the decision could not be published. As soon as the decision
19 was signed, there were two lawyers within the Crisis Staff, namely, Ilija
20 Filipovic and another gentleman, who filed the decision in the archive.
21 Upon the adoption of the decision, I informed Mr. Jadran Topic thereof.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. By setting up
23 these Muslim military units, things are clear here. You are setting up
24 military Muslim units. By doing this, who did you think would be leading
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I did not set up a single military
2 formation. I only established what the state of affairs on the ground
3 was. At that point, there were, if I remember correctly, ten battalions
4 of the HVO in Mostar and an independent battalion, namely, the 11th
5 Battalion, which was mostly made up of Muslims. However, even that
6 independent battalion of Mostar had over 30 per cent of Croats and, if I
7 remember correctly, an odd Serb as well.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. So if I understood
9 you right, when you were drafting this document in Mostar, there were ten
10 HVO battalions and one independent battalion, and you're telling us, on
11 page 52, that most were Muslims. And you're saying that for the
12 independent battalion, there were only 30 per cent Croats, which means
13 70 per cent Muslims?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Roughly, yes.
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] More or less, more or less.
16 Very well. But in April, who was the military commander at the time, who
17 was the number one in the military ranks in April?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The military commander for what,
19 the HVO or the battalion, the independent battalion?
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Of the HVO and of the
21 independent battalion.
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The commander of the independent
23 battalion was Mr. Cupina, and the commander of its first company, or his
24 second in command, was Karlo Deeba, a Croat.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you. We know
1 Mr. Cupina. His surname is Suad; right? You see, I remember him.
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Suad Cupina.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] My memory serves me right.
4 Go ahead.
5 MR. KARNAVAS: Just one follow-up question.
6 Q. Did you know Mr. Prlic from before? I know that you knew that
7 Mr. Prlic and Mr. Tomic ran companies, but did you know Mr. Prlic?
8 A. I know Mr. Prlic well. I was in the same class with him in the
9 secondary school, and our paths crossed later on. He was the president
10 of the Executive Board of the Mostar municipality when I came to Mostar.
11 Thereafter, he was the prime minister or deputy prime minister, and I
12 highly valued his opinion.
13 Q. All right, thank you. Now, if we go on to the next document, 1D
14 01905, this is April 30th, 1992
15 And, once again, I don't see your name there. Is it safe to assume that
16 you were not at this meeting, either, this meeting which was recorded by
17 Jozo Kraljevic?
18 A. Yes, I did not attend the meeting.
19 Q. All right. In this -- in this particular -- in these minutes,
20 there is a discussion about certain Klashnikovs going missing, and if we
21 look at page 2, we see Mr. Lundgren actually suggesting to Mr. Topic that
22 weapons be returned or given to the JNA. Do you know anything about
24 A. Yes, I know of this specific case.
25 Q. And, I mean, just so we have a clear understanding of what's
1 happening at the time, is this a realistic proposal that Mr. Lundgren is
2 putting on the table, in light of what is happening to the Mostarians at
3 the time and of the JNA and those who were assisting the JNA and whatever
4 they were doing?
5 A. At the time, the people in Mostar were perishing from the fire of
6 these same Klashnikovs, and Mr. Lundgren is suggesting that we give these
7 Klashnikovs back to them. And I think he should have been well aware of
8 the situation, being a soldier.
9 Q. All right. Let's go on to the next document, 1D 01060. This is
10 now 6 May 1992
11 under number 1 it says:
12 "To the Civil Protection Staff of Mostar Municipality to activate
13 all civil protection plans for 'state of war'."
14 Now, is this the same sort of plan that you worked on when you
15 were in Neum or is this somewhat different?
16 A. Methodologically speaking, all the plans were the same, though
17 everyone produced a plan of their own from their own field. The type of
18 plan was the same.
19 Q. All right. But we're talking -- I believe that you had indicated
20 that you were working on a defence plan, and this talks about a civil
21 protection plan. Are they both the same? That's the concrete question.
22 A. It's the same.
23 Q. Okay. Now, did Mostar have a plan?
24 A. Yes, Mostar had one such plan. Every municipality in the former
25 state had one.
1 Q. All right. Now, under number 2, it says:
2 "In case the existing plans are inapplicable to the concrete
3 situation, to adjust and update them."
4 Do you see that?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Now, if we go back to your earlier testimony, you said that as of
7 November or so, the situation in -- November 1991, the situation in
8 Mostar went from bad to worse. You talked about chaos. We can see, from
9 the previous minutes, that the UN is aware of the situation, albeit
10 they're making some rather ludicrous suggestions, such as returning
11 Klashnikovs back to the same people that are shooting at you, but can you
12 please explain to us how is it that it's now 6 May 1992 and it's only at
13 this point in time that we have this order to activate the civil
14 protection plan and to look at it, at least, to see whether it's even
15 applicable in light of the situation? Can you please give us a
16 reasonable explanation that we can all understand?
17 A. The document says that the president of the Assembly knew of the
18 existence of these plans. At the latest, at the setting up of the
19 Crisis Staff, he should have gone to his office, opened up the safe
20 there, retrieved the plan, and applied it. Where the plan could not be
21 applicable, he was supposed to adapt it. The civilian protection had the
22 plan, as did the municipality.
23 Q. All right. Now, let's be concrete about this. You say "the
24 president of the Assembly." We're talking about Gagro, are we not?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. All right. I'm going to give you --
2 JUDGE TRECHSEL: In this respect, it's a bit strange that the
3 letterhead speaks of the Assembly, which of course two months earlier,
4 approximately, had already been dissolved and replaced by the
5 Crisis Staff, and it is signed by the Crisis Staff. And so probably they
6 used old stationary or something, but I think this should be clarified.
7 MR. KARNAVAS: I'll do that, Judge Trechsel.
8 Q. If we look at the letterhead, it does say "Republic of
9 Bosnia-Herzegovina, Assembly of Mostar Municipality
10 I noticed "Municipal Crisis Staff." Could you please explain to us why
11 we have this title? Why not just "Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina,
12 Crisis Staff, Mostar Municipality
13 A. I don't know what else could have been written. That was only
14 logical, "Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mostar Municipal Assembly, Crisis Staff."
15 MR. KARNAVAS: All right. Judge Trechsel, do you wish to -- do
16 you have --
17 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Well, I don't know why it's logical, because the
18 Mostar Municipal Assembly, you told us, did not exist anymore, or was it
19 only suspended on 16 March?
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The work of the Assembly was
21 suspended, the work of a democratic decision-making body. Since it was
22 necessary to work on a daily basis, the work of the Assembly was made
23 more efficient and operational through the Crisis Staff, which consisted
24 of a smaller group of democratically-elected assemblymen.
25 JUDGE TRECHSEL: So that one must look at the Crisis Staff as
1 something like a proxy of the Assembly, an entity acting for the
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
4 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
5 MR. KARNAVAS:
6 Q. And that's why the president of the Crisis Staff is also the
7 president of the Assembly; correct?
8 A. Under the law, the president of the Assembly was the president of
9 the Crisis Staff at the same time.
10 MR. KARNAVAS: All right, okay.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] For further information, let's
12 go back to the number of the order. It's number 958/92. Is it the
13 number of the Assembly of the Municipality or is it the number of the
14 Crisis Staff? This number, is it the number of the Assembly or is it the
15 number of the Crisis Staff?
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This is the reference number of the
17 document issued by the Crisis Staff. In other words, before this one,
18 the Crisis Staff had issued 957 documents, letters, et cetera, and this
19 was the 958th.
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, yes. That's how I
21 understood it.
22 MR. KARNAVAS: All right. We'll move on to the next document.
23 This is a day later. This is P 00190, and here we see that the -- this
24 is a decision setting up the special-purpose council of the Mostar
25 Municipal Staff, and we do see your name at the bottom of the page,
1 number three from the bottom of the list.
2 Q. And if we look at item number 2, it says:
3 "The task of the council shall be to undertake the following for
4 requirements of the HVO Mostar Municipal Staff."
5 And then there are listed some activities. And, finally, if we
6 go to the end of the page -- end of this document, we see that it is
7 signed by Jadran Topic; correct?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. First of all, could you please tell us, on the list of the
10 special-purpose council, are there any Muslims represented? And if so,
11 could you please point them out?
12 A. Yes, there are. Azir Sirko, Seno Kazazic, Veid Hakalo, and Camil
14 Q. All right. And you did explain to us a little bit about what
15 this special council was supposed to do, and I take it the activities
16 that are listed under 2(a), that was your understanding at the time;
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. We're talking about the HVO Mostar Municipal Staff. Okay, what
20 are we talking about?
21 A. The Municipal Staff is the command of the army. The HVO was in
22 command of the army at the Municipal Staff.
23 Q. All right. And then we see -- if we go to the last page, under
24 number 4 we see that it says:
25 "The work shall be coordinated through Mr. Neven Tomic,
1 Jadranko Prlic, and Borislav Puljic, exclusively with the president of
2 the HVO Mostar Municipal Staff, Mr. Jadran Topic."
3 Can you explain this, why the three of you, and what exactly did
4 you do in this capacity, you and the other two that are named?
5 A. Initially, we worked as a collective body for a couple of days.
6 In view of the type of work we had, we started working on an individual
7 basis. However, the three of us had to have all the necessary
8 information forwarded to the Municipal Staff and, in turn, received tasks
9 from the Municipal Staff which we were then supposed to carry out, in
10 line with our terms of office.
11 Q. All right. Concretely, could you give us some examples so at
12 least we have an opportunity to figure out what, if anything, this
13 special-purpose council did? Can you think of an example or two?
14 A. I can, but I have to explain the state it was in first.
15 The HVO was the army, the armed people defending themselves from
16 an aggression. These individuals, who had experience and business
17 connections, had not been involved in that effort from the start. I
18 asked Mr. Jadran Topic to get those circles involved so that with their
19 experience and business connections, they might be useful to us.
20 We engaged in various sorts of tasks. For instance, Veid Hakalo
21 and I visited the business partners of Unis, a company where Hakalo was
22 manager of, to procure boots. I know that Mr. Kosolic [phoen] went
23 around in order to get radio sets. I know that Neven Tomic used some of
24 his business connections to secure monetary funds to procure rifles,
25 boots, et cetera. The purpose of it was to make use of the experience,
1 knowledge, and business connections of these people in order to support
2 the HVO logistics and to make the HVO more effective.
3 Q. All right. Now, I think there's -- at this point, I need to ask
4 you one question, because maybe some may not understand to what extent
5 the Mostar municipality was actually functioning. Could you please tell
6 us about the other administrative bodies? Were they functioning? Were
7 people showing up at work?
8 A. First of all, the municipality had lost its building where it was
9 housed. In other words, it practically didn't have a piece of paper.
10 Second of all, many of the former employees of the municipality fled the
11 town, became refugees. Many others became members of the army. All the
12 services and agencies that once existed ceased to exist. There were only
13 a few of them which managed to evacuate some of their equipment to the
14 west bank, but not even they functioned. So the HVO practically didn't
15 have the necessary resources that would enable it to work. Of all of
16 municipal services, these were some ten secretariats, only the land
17 surveyors had managed to evacuate their cadaster maps, all the other land
18 registry office material perished, whereas from my particular
19 Secretariat, only computers were evacuated. All the documentation and
20 everything else perished together with the municipal building.
21 Practically, we weren't able to be operational because we didn't
22 have either the financial or the materials, resources, or, for that
23 matter, human resources that would be able to do anything.
24 Q. All right. So I take it --
25 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
1 MR. KARNAVAS:
2 Q. So if I were to ask you whether the banks were functioning and
3 people could go and make transactions through, or whether the payment
4 bureau was functioning, the answer to that would be, "No"?
5 A. No.
6 Q. Okay. Now, let's look at the next document --
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Wait a second, Witness. Let's
8 remain with document P 190. Take a look at the document in your own
9 language. I'm trying to find a logic in all this.
10 There is the checkerboard in the letterhead, and I see that the
11 title of the document is "Croat Community of Herceg-Bosna." Underneath,
12 there is the "HVO," and then underneath again one can read "Mostar
13 Municipality." In the decision, there are four Muslims. You gave their
14 names, four of them, and that's where I'm completely lost. Take a look
15 at the title again. The title gives the impression that there can only
16 be Croats, since it is the Croat Community of Herceg-Bosna that's being
17 referred to in the title. Within that Croat Community, there are also
18 Muslims. I'm wondering when the Croat Community of Herceg-Bosna was set
19 up. One of its bases, was it a recognition of various groups; the
20 assumption, was it that there would be Croats as well as Muslims within
21 that community? Otherwise, how can we understand the presence of Muslims
22 in that list? Can you please enlighten me on this?
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] There is just one correction. It
24 doesn't say "Municipality of Mostar
25 Staff of Mostar," which means that this is not a municipality, it's still
1 something that indicates the army. This is the HVO. And by this
2 document, we are beginning to work for the army. We become members of
3 the military.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Of course, I was trying to
5 understand if there was an ideological basis there. When the
6 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna was created, do you think that it was
7 envisaged that within that community, there will also be Muslims?
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] In my view, yes. This is what I
9 sensed, I mean, how I felt, that it would include all the people who
10 wished to live in peace.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] In other words, they could be
12 Muslims, Serbs as well maybe, as well as people from other groups. In
13 that Croat Community of Herceg-Bosna, was envisaged to have various
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] At the time, we didn't view those
16 things in that way. Whoever it was on the other side of the front and
17 who is on this side of the front was more like it. So at that time, I
18 didn't view things in that way. I believed that all the people should
19 live in their own houses the way they want to live or the way they do
20 live, and that they belong to that state and that country, the territory
21 where they live. The Croatian Community, in my opinion, was formed for
22 the purpose of protecting people and to enable them to live and function
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] When you're talking about the
25 people, are you talking about various ethnicities? It is not the
1 Croatian people; you're talking about a people comprising various
2 ethnicities; right?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I'm talking about all the people
4 who live there, regardless of their ethnicity.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. One last question.
6 Let me quote you. You said that the HVO was the citizens in
7 arms. I think that's what was said. In fact, the HVO was the citizens
8 in arms. Are you talking about both Croats and Muslims?
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The best thing would be to transfer
10 that or apply that to my street. In my street, some Croats even fled.
11 The majority of Croats obtained a rifle and joined the HVO. But a large
12 number of Muslims in my street also were in the HVO units, even a few
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] As regard the Serbs, that's
15 surprising, because they were fighting against other Serbs; right?
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Just a few, but yes.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well.
18 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I also have a question which refers to something
19 that you have said sometime ago.
20 You have started off the answer to the first of the questions of
21 this series of the President by telling him that he had been wrong when
22 he translated what here is "Mostar Municipal Staff" as "Mostar
23 Municipality." You said that was not Mostar municipality, that was the
24 army, that was the HVO. Does that mean that the Mostar Municipal Staff
25 was actually something that was integrated in the HVO of Herceg-Bosna and
1 not an emanation of an independent municipality?
2 I wonder whether my question was clear enough. If not, just tell
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I didn't understand the question.
5 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I'm sorry. This is my mistake. I'll try to do
7 You said, after the President had asked a question:
8 "I must correct you. It is not the municipality of Mostar
9 the Municipal Staff of Mostar." The Municipal Staff, you said, that's
10 the army, that's the HVO. Now, my question is this: By stressing this,
11 are you saying that the Mostar Municipal Staff is part of the HVO of
12 Herceg-Bosna, of HZ-HB, and not an organ just of the municipality of
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] First of all, I wanted to say that
15 a municipality is a territorial concept. If you say "assembly, municipal
16 assembly," then we have the municipal and the assembly.
17 JUDGE TRECHSEL: You may not know this, but we have here an
18 ongoing dispute about terminology. Did you use the term "teritorijale"
19 [phoen] or the term "podrucje", when you said it's a territorial concept?
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Since the Austro-Hungarian times in
21 Bosnia-Herzegovina, the municipalities in Bosnia-Herzegovina have
22 remained the same until today. A municipality is a territory. The word
23 "opcina" means "territory." But if you say "assembly," that means it is
24 the assembly of that area. And if you say "executive board," then it's
25 the executive board of that territory. If you say "municipal staff,"
1 then it is the military staff of that territory.
2 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you. Excuse me for interrupting.
3 MR. KARNAVAS: Okay, thank you. I didn't want to go there
5 Q. But just to make sure that we fully understand, to what extent
6 was there a civilian government working at this time in Mostar
8 A. The civilian government could be said at the time wasn't really
9 functioning at all. That could be said.
10 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Excuse me, Mr. Karnavas. I had not the answer
11 to my question, which really was whether the Municipal Staff, Mostar
12 Municipal Staff, was, in your view, rather part of the HVO of HB or still
13 mainly an organ of the independent municipality of Mostar
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The Mostar Municipal Staff was an
15 elementary part or composite part of the HVO. I'm sorry, I must admit I
16 don't understand the question.
17 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Don't worry about it. You have not followed all
18 our discussions, and we'll -- I leave it at that and take it for
19 whatever. Thank you.
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
21 MR. KARNAVAS:
22 Q. Can you please tell us whether the president of the Presidency
23 dispatched the army of BiH, for instance, to come and defend the Muslim
24 sector of the Mostar municipality at this point in time, assuming that
25 they were in existence?
1 A. At the time, there was not a single form of organisation of the
2 state or the military of Bosnia and Herzegovina existed in the area of
4 Q. All right. Now, in the Mostar municipality, were there Muslims
5 who had organised themselves as their own units, fighting units, in order
6 to protect themselves and perhaps others?
7 A. They did try, but because they couldn't do it alone, then they
8 organised themselves within or as part of the Croatian Defence Council.
9 Q. All right. Now, one last thing, and we'll talk a little bit more
10 about this, but the establishment of the HVO, and I understand that you
11 weren't part of the military construct, but do you know whether that was
12 put in place in order to Croatise the area; in other words, by that,
13 ethnically cleanse it once the Serbs got through whatever they were going
14 to do, cleanse the rest of the area of the Muslims so they can Croatise,
15 introduce their language, their symbols, their school curriculum? Was
16 that the -- to your understanding, was that why the HVO in Mostar at that
17 point in time was established?
18 A. No. The HVO never had the goal of ethnically cleansing the area.
19 Q. All right. Now, if we go on to the next document, 1D 00909.
20 Now, you have the original version or the version in Croatian,
21 and if we look at the last page, we see three signatures, three names,
22 one of them being Slobodan Lang. And do you see that, sir?
23 A. I do.
24 Q. And we also have the date. This is the 11th of May, 1992. And
25 if we look at the document, we see that there is a description of Mostar
1 and what is happening in and around Mostar on the 9th of May -- 9th and
2 10th of May, 1992. Now, my first question is: Do you know Mr. Lang, and
3 if so, how?
4 A. On the 9th and 10th of May, 1995 [as interpreted], I met him in
5 Mostar, and I spent time with him in that period in Mostar.
6 Q. All right. Now, who is Mr. Lang, and where is he from?
7 A. I think that he's a doctor, and I think that he came as a
8 representative of the Croatian government to see what kind of
9 humanitarian assistance can be given to the citizens of Mostar and what
10 would be the kind of things that could be provided as part of that
11 humanitarian aid.
12 Q. In your contact with Mr. Lang --
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] There must have been an error
14 in the transcript. You said you met him on the 9th and 10th of May.
15 This is line 25, page 66. And then we see "1995." I suppose you meant
16 "1992." When did you meet him; in 1992?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] 1992.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] That's how I understood. Yes,
19 thank you.
20 MR. KARNAVAS:
21 Q. In what context did you meet Mr. Lang?
22 A. Mr. Lang was interested to see the situation in Mostar and what
23 was the most needed, as far as humanitarian assistance is concerned, and
24 what the problems were in that sense.
25 Q. All right. Now, since you were there on the 9th and 10th of May,
1 1992, having looked at these notes by Dr. Lang and the other two
2 gentlemen, their description of Mostar, can you please tell us whether
3 the notes -- whether the events as described herein are accurate and
4 accurately reflect the situation as it existed in Mostar at the time?
5 A. Yes, it accurately reflects the situation in Mostar at the time.
6 Q. All right. And we heard testimony, incidentally, by Mr. Ratko
7 Pejanovic, and this was way back in May 2006. He told us that it was his
8 understanding that the east side of Mostar fell on or about the 13th of
9 May, 1992
10 You need to answer us so we can -- did you hear my question?
11 A. I did.
12 Q. Your answer --
13 A. Yes, that is correct, that is correct.
14 Q. [Previous translation continues]... so we can make a record.
15 Okay? And by the way, I'm referring to page 10387 from the transcript
16 dated 5 May 2006
17 Now, let's look at the next document, which is a few days later,
18 after the fall of the east side, that is, P 00209, and here we see a --
19 if you look at the end of the document, we see that this is signed by the
20 president of the Mostar Municipal Staff of the Croatian Defence Council,
21 Jadran Topic, and essentially it begins by sort of a historical context,
22 if you will, in the preamble. And then we see that there is an order
23 which disbands the Crisis Staff. Do you see that?
24 A. I do.
25 Q. All right. And then it goes on to say, at item 2, that:
1 "In connection with paragraph 1 of this order," that is, the
2 disbanding of the Crisis Staff, "the Mostar Municipal Staff of the
3 Croatian Defence Council shall form a civilian wartime government."
4 And then if we look at number 3, it says essentially that until
5 such time, that is, a civilian wartime government is formed, the
6 special-purpose council will administer the entire function of the city
7 and care for its citizens. Do you see that?
8 A. I do.
9 Q. All right. So let's go by order. Disbanding of the
10 Crisis Staff. By that point in time, de facto, could you please tell us
11 if the Crisis Staff was in existence and was doing anything useful, as it
12 should have been doing?
13 A. We did not de facto exist at that time, and we were unable to do
15 Q. Can you please tell us, how long had it been that de facto the
16 Crisis Staff had ceased to be of any utility, if I may use that word?
17 A. I think some 20 days or even more than that before this date, the
18 Crisis Staff was totally useless.
19 Q. All right. Now, let me go down to number 3, because it says here
20 that a special-purpose council will administer the entire functioning of
21 the city and care for its citizens. Question: Did the special crisis
22 staff ever do that -- special-purpose council ever do that?
23 A. No.
24 Q. Why not?
25 A. Things were happening too quickly. That was the simple reason.
1 So we never managed to do that, ever.
2 Q. All right. Let's be concrete. In light of the makeup of the
3 special-purpose council, the individuals that were involved, and we can
4 see it's some of Mostar's best and brightest, was it in a position to
5 carry out these functions, administer the entire functioning of the city,
6 and care for its citizens? Was it capable of doing that?
7 A. It was capable of doing that, but they would have needed time and
8 funds, means, to organise all of it.
9 Q. Well, I'm talking about at that point in time. I'm not talking
10 about two months or three months or six months down the road. At that
11 particular time, did it have the funds, did it have the resources, did it
12 have the human resources, did it have the capabilities, did it have the
13 security? Name me what, if anything, the special-purpose council had in
14 order to be able to implement this part of the order; that is, administer
15 the entire functioning of the city and care for its citizens.
16 A. It didn't have anything that could be used as an instrument to be
17 able to run or administer the town.
18 Q. Well, did anybody point this out to Mr. Topic, that perhaps he
19 was being rather romantic, to put it nicely, in assuming that the
20 special-purpose council could carry out these functions until a civilian
21 wartime government was formed?
22 A. I don't know who advised him.
23 Q. All right. If we look at the next document, 1D 01987 --
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, please, I look at
25 this document and I'm very surprised. This crisis -- the Mostar
1 Crisis Staff commits sepuku, if I may say so. It decides and notes that
2 it cannot solve its problems, it cannot solve any problem. Fine. So
3 why -- why would the civilian government that is in the making would be
4 more effective at this, because in this -- and this firstly there were
5 Mr. Prlic, Mr. Topic, people like you. I mean, bright minds. So why
6 does this say that others would be better at the job than you were? Why
7 did they disband to create another structure? You're saying, "Because we
8 couldn't make it," but what made you think that another structure would
9 be better at the job than you were? I really don't understand this.
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] When you say "you," are you
11 thinking of me in the position in the Crisis Staff or me in the post of
12 the council for -- the special-purpose council?
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I'm thinking of you as a
14 person. You played a role at the time. I'm also thinking of others who
15 worked in that Crisis Staff for a while and who, after Mr. Topic's
16 decision, decided to disband the Crisis Staff. I really don't understand
17 what the logic was. Could you please explain why you were passing the
18 ball to another structure?
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I've already said that de facto at
20 that time, we didn't exist. We didn't have the instruments to
21 administer. The Crisis Staff also had a number of incompetent men who at
22 the time were not up to the tasks that they were facing.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] There is incompetence
24 absolutely everywhere. If you have to take incompetence into account,
25 people wouldn't do anything. It seems that in a crisis staff, there
1 weren't only incompetent members. It's not because there's a few
2 incompetents that the job can't be doing. Why -- what made you think
3 that the other structure would be better at that job? I really don't
4 understand that. What would be the added value that they would provide,
5 compared to you, your own structure?
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I did not participate in the
7 drafting of this document.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] If you had taken part in the
9 drafting of this document, would you have agreed with Mr. Topic; yes or
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, I said that I did not take
12 part in the drafting of this document. I said this before. I'm speaking
13 about this order.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Okay, you didn't take part,
15 but did you agree with Mr. Topic or did you disagree with him?
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] We did not talk about this
17 document. I did see it when it was brought to the staff, and it didn't
18 mean anything to me because at the time the Crisis Staff was not
19 functioning. It wasn't even at the first shelter where we were. We were
20 at the cellar of the r ectorate, which was subject to shelling, and most
21 frequently the cellar was empty. Everybody -- all the members of the
22 Crisis Staff would be hiding in different places in town because the town
23 was shelled on a daily basis. I saw that document when the messenger
24 brought it and delivered it to the Crisis Staff which at that time was in
25 a different building. We had already left the shelter.
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. I understand what
2 you're saying.
3 JUDGE TRECHSEL: [Previous translation continues]... nutshell,
4 Witness, are you telling us that this is a piece of paper with no
5 practical effect whatsoever?
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] None, practically none whatsoever.
7 We did not exist.
8 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you very much.
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] It's time for the break, I
10 believe, Mr. Karnavas. Let's have a 20-minute break. Thank you. We'll
11 resume at 6.00.
12 --- Recess taken at 5.42 p.m.
13 --- On resuming at 6.07 p.m.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The Court is back in session.
15 MR. KARNAVAS: Thank you, Mr. President.
16 Q. All right. Mr. Puljic, are you with us?
17 A. I'll be doing my best.
18 Q. Okay, all right. 1D 01987, that's the next document, and we see
19 from the title that this is a report on the activities of the EC and
20 UNPROFOR, and it's dated "Mostar, May 1992." And of course if we go to
21 the page 17 in the English version, towards the last page, one before it,
22 we see Mr. Filipovic's name again. Now, have you had a chance -- an
23 opportunity to look at this report, sir?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. A couple of points I want to bring out. On page 2, if we look at
1 the sixth paragraph, it talks about -- it says:
2 "It was possible to conclude that EC and UNPROFOR observers had
3 come to Mostar without any historical knowledge about our region,
4 relations, and cultural, ethnic and other traits, and about how the
5 former Yugoslavia
6 knowledge about us was either modest or untrue. Maybe this can explain
7 their indecisiveness, understatement, frequent suspiciousness, vagueness,
8 and general inability to do what we expected from them."
9 From your experience, being in-situ at the time, observing the EC
10 and UNPROFOR observers, can you please tell the Court whether this
11 observation in this report is true of the EC and UNPROFOR observers?
12 A. Yes, these observations are absolutely true.
13 Q. All right. Now, I'm running out of time, so I won't cover much
14 of what is discussed in this report, but if we go -- in the English
15 version, it would be page 14. It's -- it would be the section where it
16 discusses the events of 12 May 1992
17 portion of it, and I'm going to ask you whether you can confirm this.
18 There is a discussion between Mr. Jaganjac and Mr. Lundgren. Did
19 you know Mr. Jaganjac and if so, who was he?
20 A. I knew him at the time and I know who he is.
21 Q. Okay. Who is he?
22 A. At the time, he was the commander of the Municipal Staff or,
23 rather, the Staff that was in existence at the time.
24 Q. All right. Now, you're going to have to speak slowly, full
25 sentences, and make sure to enunciate. Now, was he a Croat, was he a
1 Muslim, or was he a Serb?
2 A. A Muslim.
3 Q. All right. Now, here is Mr. Jaganjac says to Mr. Lundgren on
4 that particular occasion:
5 "I would like to tell you something. I am the professional here,
6 an officer, while Mr. Topic is a well-known football player and
7 Mr. Petar --" I suspect they're talking about Petar Zalenika -- "is it a
8 well-known worker. The people are defending themselves here and the
9 price is not important to us."
10 Can you confirm to us whether Mr. Jaganjac had been or was at the
11 time a professional officer? In other words, had he been with the JNA
12 prior to the breakup or the events?
13 A. According to the information I had, he was formerly a JNA
15 Q. What about Mr. Topic; was he -- had he been a football player by
17 A. Yes, a well-known footballer.
18 Q. Right. In fact, he had played for Kosmos; right?
19 A. Yes. He even played on the Yugoslav representation team, and he
20 also played in the United States.
21 Q. All right. And Mr. Petar, that would be -- would that be Petar
23 A. Yes, that's Petar Zalenika.
24 Q. And what's his occupation? It says he was a well-known worker.
25 What does that mean?
1 A. Mr. Jaganjac must have been mistaken. Mr. Zalenika was on the
2 police force before the war.
3 Q. Okay, all right. Thank you, I have nothing more for this
4 document, and we'll move on to the next segment, unless the Judges have
5 any questions about the events that are in the report. If not, let's
6 turn over -- let's go to P 00221. This is a Prosecution document. We've
7 seen it here before, and this now is 21 May 1992. Okay.
8 So this is a decision to establish -- for the establishment of
9 the temporary executive power and administration in the territory of the
10 HZ-HB. Do you see this?
11 A. I do.
12 Q. All right. And I don't believe your name is anywhere on the
14 A. No, it's not.
15 Q. On number 12, we do see Jasmin Jaganjac, the individual you just
16 told us, and he's the head of the Defence Department; correct?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. All right. Now, so this decision essentially is coming how many
19 days after the previous decision that we saw of dismantling of the
20 Crisis Staff, which was May 15, 1992
21 days later; right? Roughly a week?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. All right. During that one-week period, I mean, you told us
24 about the capabilities or lack thereof of the special-purpose council,
25 but during that week or six days, were you able to do anything
1 concretely? When I say "you," not you personally; the special-purpose
3 A. Nothing could be done.
4 Q. All right. And if we look at this list, do we see any Muslims on
5 this list for this temporary executive power and administration? And if
6 so, could you please point them out?
7 A. Yes, there are Muslims. Number 3, Mumin Isic, who was also a
8 member of the executive board of the municipality, then Senad Kazazic,
9 who had also had experience.
10 Q. Please slow down, please enunciate. I'm trying to make a record.
11 A. Mumin Isic --
12 Q. [Previous translation continues]... at the beginning. Go ahead.
13 A. Of the Muslims on the list, there are as follows: Under
14 number 3, Mumin Isic; under number 5, Senad Kazazic; under 6, Sejo Maslo;
15 under 8, Hamdija Jahic; under 12, Jasmin Jaganjac.
16 Q. Okay. And what did Mr. Isic do? You were telling us what he did
17 before, and I want to ask you to just very briefly describe these various
18 departments. So what did Mr. Isic do before?
19 A. Mr. Isic is a lawyer by profession. Before the war, he was the
20 secretary of the Executive Committee of the municipality.
21 Q. Okay. What about the next, number 5, Senad Kazazic?
22 A. Senad Kazazic, I don't know his profession, but he worked in a
23 municipal public company which took care of the maintenance of
24 residences. Sejo Maslo had also worked for the municipality in one of
25 the departments. I can't remember which. Hamdija Jahic had also worked
1 for the municipality as the secretary of the Secretariat for Urbanism.
2 He was my supervisor.
3 Q. All right. And in what capacity were you working in the -- with
4 the municipality for this person to be your supervisor, for Mr. Jahic?
5 A. At the time, I was coordinator for urbanism. That was the
6 official title of the post. In other words, I coordinated the work of
7 all the engineers in the Secretariat for Urbanism. I was a sort of
8 superior of theirs, in a way, whereas Hamdija Jahic was my superior.
9 Q. All right. If we go to the next document, 1D 00544, we see that
10 this is dated 21 May 1992
11 in Mostar a war hospital, and could you please explain to us why was it
12 necessary to pass this conclusion, if you know?
13 A. In that time of prevailing chaos, the only body that was working
14 was the HVO, and all the other institutions were trying to come closer to
15 the HVO in order to be operational at all. The fact that the hospital
16 was proclaimed a war hospital meant that it was now entitled to receive
17 certain material funds from the army, including fuel and other resources,
18 since the civilian authorities were unable to be helpful in any way.
19 However, the hospital treated civilians.
20 Q. All right. Thank you. We go to the next one, 1D 00548. This is
21 29 May 1992
22 decisions allocating or allowing occupancy of homes abandoned by the
23 previous orders without any valid reasons are hereby rendered null and
24 void because they were issued by unauthorised persons."
25 This is a sort of contentious issue throughout this trial. At
1 this point in time, could you please tell us, why was it necessary to
2 pass this conclusion, keeping in mind 29 May 1992, and give us a little
3 flavour, especially for the Judges, of what it was like to live in Mostar
4 at the time.
5 A. There was chaos. The town was full of refugees from Eastern
7 People were out in the street. They had to find shelter for themselves
8 and their children. There were mass-scale instances of individuals
9 breaking into flats to find shelter. In order to introduce some sort of
10 lawfulness in all of that, these individuals approached various offices,
11 requesting certificates or permits.
12 Now, in order to introduce order in all of that, it was necessary
13 to invalidate all these certificates and to initiate procedures
14 allocating flats to the people who were homeless.
15 Q. Thank you. We go to the next document, 1D 02391, 1D 02391, and
16 in the English version we need to correct the date at the top. It should
17 be "2 June 1992
18 does it not, in the Croatian version, "2 June"?
19 Mr. Puljic, I'm asking a question. That's what it says, "2 June
20 1992"; correct?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Now, this is -- we see under "Croatian Defence Council, HVO
23 Mostar," we see: "To the special-purpose council."
24 Subject: "Information on the food situation and need of the
25 population in Mostar."
1 And if we just look, I just want to focus everyone's attention to
2 the second paragraph. It says:
3 "We hereby ask that the food supply and distribution system in
4 local communes be set up without delay through civilian protection
5 staffs, particularly the distribution of bread."
6 Explain to us, why was it necessary for this to be passed by
7 the -- by Professor Skutor, who is the head of the Civilian Protection of
8 Mostar municipality at the time?
9 A. He had no one to turn to. He needed to have everything that is
10 the subject of his request, and he addressed the only institution in
11 existence at the time; namely, the Croatian Defence Council.
12 Q. All right. I'll move to the next document, and the next document
13 is 1D 00563. And we see this document is -- all right, I'm sorry, I
14 skipped a document.
15 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
16 MR. KARNAVAS: I skipped a document. We're going to be dealing
17 with 1D 01572. My apologies. 1572. We're moving chronologically so
18 that we can get sort of a snapshot of what's happening. And, again, for
19 everyone's convenience, on 5 May 2006
20 the east side had been liberated on or about the 14th of June, 1992
21 Q. Would that be accurate, sir?
22 A. I don't remember the precise date, but it was in mid-June 1992.
23 Q. Okay. Now, in this particular document, we see that this is an
24 excerpt from the speech from Commander Pasalic, Arif Pasalic. Did you
25 know the gentleman, and if so, how?
1 A. I met him once during the war.
2 Q. And who was he?
3 A. He was the commander of the 4th Corps of the Army of
5 Q. All right. Now, he talks about -- this is a speech that he gave
6 on July 12th, 1992
7 down in the first paragraph, he talks about:
8 "SDA and HDZ played a special role in the arming of citizens
10 And he talks about -- and he lists the individuals,
11 Hadziosmanovic, Zalenika, Cupina, Slezak, Nozic and others. Is that
13 A. The HDZ procured weapons, and these individuals distributed it,
14 Hadziosmanovic and the others.
15 Q. All right. And then on page 2, the first paragraph, in the
16 middle of it, it says:
17 "On June 14th, early in the morning at 300 hours, combat begins
18 and the left bank is attacked. The battalion, together with the military
19 police forces of HVO, fight the determining battle to win over the left
20 bank and adjoining portion of the city ."
21 Do you see that?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Now, you've read his speech. Can you comment overall on the
24 accuracy of Mr. Pasalic's distribution of the events and the involvement
25 of those who liberated Mostar and fought for the liberation of the Mostar
2 A. The municipality of Mostar
3 northern to the southern boundaries. The town proper stretches over some
4 ten kilometres in the north-south direction.
5 Upon reading this article, one gets the impression that Mr. Arif
6 and his soldiers were the ones who liberated the town, which simply isn't
7 true. The town was being liberated along the length of the front line
8 and with equal strength at all these points. He covered a narrow stretch
9 of land with his soldiers. That was some 200 to 300 metres in width, if
10 my memory serves me well.
11 What is also noteworthy is that he said here that the first one
12 to reach the left bank was Karlo Dzeba and his soldiers.
13 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Sorry. Excuse me. Witness, you are written
14 down here, on line 20, of saying that the municipality of Mostar
15 50 kilometres long. Did you mean 50, not 15? That's the municipality.
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Fifty, 5-0, from the north to the
18 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
19 MR. KARNAVAS:
20 Q. We're not talking about the city. We're talking about the
21 municipality; right?
22 A. I said that the municipality stretched over some 50 kilometres
23 and that the town proper stretched over some 10 kilometres. Arif Pasalic
24 described the events on a stretch of the front line which was some 200 to
25 300 metres wide.
1 Q. So let me make sure that I understand you correctly. Are you
2 trying to tell us that the JNA and their activity during this period of
3 time, because you said that they -- as of November of 1991, things began
4 to get out of hand, they went from bad to worse, was it not just in the
5 Mostar city but it was -- covered the entire municipality, these events?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Okay. Let me ask you this: Was the Crisis Staff responsible
8 just for the city, east and west side, or was it responsible for the
9 entire municipality and everybody that lived in it, all the villages,
10 hamlets and what have you?
11 A. For the entire municipality. However, we had no contact
12 whatsoever with those parts of the municipality, not even telephone
14 Q. All right. Well, you told us that it would have been the
15 president of the Assembly who was then the president of the Crisis Staff,
16 Mr. Gagro, who should have activated the defence plan, but never did so.
17 Could you please tell us whether he visited the front lines, went to any
18 place where there was activity, so perhaps he could have a firsthand
19 account on what the needs were of the people and also what was happening?
20 A. I don't remember that, and I never saw him tour any section of
21 the front line.
22 Q. And one question I failed to ask you before. All right.
23 Mr. Gagro perhaps was incompetent, or for whatever reason didn't want to
24 activate the defence plan. What prevented other members of the
25 Crisis Staff from going to the vault and getting the plan out, assuming
1 you could get to the vault?
2 A. At the time, the highest authorities in the Crisis Staff were
3 supposed to be Milivoj Gagro, the president of the Assembly, Izet Bajric,
4 the president of the executive board, Ismet Hadziosmanovic, the president
5 of the Party for Democratic Action for the region, and Zijad Demirovic,
6 president of the Party for Democratic Action of the Mostar municipality.
7 All the four mentioned individuals were passive in relation to the work
8 of the Crisis Staff. They behaved as if they had been expecting NATO to
9 appear and liberate them. Ultimately, when the liberation by NATO did
10 take place -- or rather they would have wanted to divide power once NATO
11 liberation came.
12 The other members on the Crisis Staff tried to do as much as they
13 could, albeit not much, to use their authority to improve the situation
14 in the town.
15 Q. Getting back to my question: Other than those top four
16 individuals, could other members, those who wanted to do something, those
17 who were more engaged in the Crisis Staff, could they have gone to the
18 vault and to retrieve the defence plan and maybe even activate it,
19 against the will of the top four?
20 A. They weren't able to. Even had they wished to do that, they
21 would not have been able to do it without the four individuals.
22 Q. All right. And correct me if I'm wrong. Of the top four, wasn't
23 one of the individuals - perhaps you can correct me if I'm wrong - who in
24 fact abandoned Mostar on a bus with women and children?
25 A. Fikret Bajric tried to do that, that's to say the president of
1 the Executive Committee. He was on a bus of the UNHCR with women and
2 children at the same time as he was discharging the duty of the president
3 of the Executive Committee of the town. That was the talk of the town in
4 that period.
5 Q. What period are we talking about because, I mean, there is this
6 issue looming in the air that somehow there's a civilian government
7 functioning called "Crisis Staff," so what period are we talking about?
8 A. Late April and early May.
9 Q. All right. Finally with this document, do you recognise the
10 publication of it? If you look at it, you have the original -- a copy of
11 the original version. And if so, could you please tell us, what is this
13 A. I recognise the publication. I think it was issued in the
14 Vranica building, where Radio Mostar was housed, the radio which was
15 controlled by the SDA. That was also where the municipal -- what do you
16 call it -- the municipal HVO was housed with Mr. Topic, Jadran Topic.
17 Q. All right, thank you. If we go to the next document, 1D 005 --
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I'd like to go back to
19 something you said. You said Mr. Fikret Bajric left Mostar with women
20 and children, in a UNHCR bus. When he left with his family, why -- why
21 was he leaving? Was there any shelling by the Serbs or didn't he like
22 the atmosphere anymore? Why? Why did he leave in such a hurry? Was
23 there any particular reason?
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I heard that he left. At that
25 time, I didn't see him any longer. But I think that he left because the
1 town was being shelled and because the man wanted to go to a safe place.
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] If I understood well, whether
3 you're a Croat or a Muslim at the time, the only thing you had to do was
4 to go to the UNHCR, say that there were some shellings and that you
5 wanted to leave, and then the UNHCR would put anybody who wanted to leave
6 the city at their disposal a bus so that they could leave. Is that what
7 happened at the time.
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The UNHCR provided buses primarily
9 for women and children, but all those who managed to get in the buses
10 would leave in those same buses. If they managed to do it, that's what
11 they did.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I didn't notice this before.
13 If I understand you correctly, the UNHCR had a procedure in place in
14 order to evacuate the inhabitants of Mostar, given the war situation
15 which prevailed at the time. So there were buses, UNHCR buses, in which
16 residents from Mostar, women, children, but also maybe men, and then
17 everybody would leave the city in convoys? Is it how it was organised?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] And those who were leaving,
20 were they leaving on their own free will or were they leaving because of
21 the general atmosphere because of the shellings, artillery, and so on?
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] People were trying to escape the
23 shelling, so it was just a product of the fear of the shells and because
24 of the shelling. There was no other reason to leave town at that time.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You were there, and maybe
1 you're in a good position to give an answer to this question. To your
2 knowledge, as far as you know, what was the percentage of Croats leaving
3 the city and what was the percentage of Muslims leaving?
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It's the same. It just depended on
5 the courage.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Fine. In certain situations,
7 you stay, and in other situations, even if you're brave, you have to
8 leave. As far as you're concerned, what was the proportion of people
9 leaving Mostar? Were 50 per cent Croats, 50 per cent Muslims, 70/30, or
10 should we ask that question to the UNHCR?
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I think that it would have been
12 better to ask somebody from the UNHCR. If you ask me, I have to tell you
13 all my thoughts about that question.
14 I think that perhaps a large number of Croats left because they
15 had friends and relatives in Western Herzegovina, so they had somewhere
16 to stay. I think that more Croats left Mostar at that time than Muslims
17 because they had relatives in Western Dalmatia, in Herzegovina, and they
18 had somewhere to put them up.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Remember, you said that in the
20 street where you lived, there were both Croats and Muslims, on your own
21 street, so could you tell us how many left on your own street, whether
22 Muslims left, whether Croats left, from your own street?
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] There were Croats who left and
24 there were also Muslims who left. I think that at the time, the fact
25 that somebody was leaving was not something that depended on ethnicity.
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well.
2 Mr. Karnavas.
3 MR. KARNAVAS: Thank you.
4 Q. If we go on to the next document, 1D 00563. This is a decision
5 to organise supply of oil and oil derivatives in Mostar municipality,
6 dated 19 June. Could you please explain, what is this about and why was
7 it necessary?
8 A. I already said that all the gas stations in Mostar were on the
9 left bank, and the right bank, the western part of the town, did not have
10 a single gas station.
11 Q. All right. Let me make sure I understood that, because I don't
12 believe I heard that before. Are you saying that at this time gas
13 stations were only on one side of the town?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. So one had to cross over the bridge to get to the gas station?
16 If they were on the west side, they had to go to the east?
17 A. Yes, but there were no bridges.
18 Q. All right. Well, what happened to the bridges?
19 A. And just one more information. The reservoirs and the storage
20 depots for the fuel were on the other side. All the -- not just the gas
21 stations, but the oil terminals, the storage areas, were on the left
23 Q. All right.
24 A. This is a decision to build a gas station on the right bank so
25 that the right bank would have a fuel supply.
1 Q. All right, thank you. If we go on to the next document, 1D
2 00567, this is a decision to provide vehicles for public enterprises.
3 Can you explain this decision for us? Again, 19 June 1992.
4 A. Public enterprises of the Mostar municipality which provide the
5 town with electricity and other services were left without vehicles
6 during the war, and here Mr. Topic is trying to obtain vehicles so that
7 these services could work, could operate.
8 Q. All right. Well, let me ask you again, because I guess we can't
9 hear this enough. Did those services work prior -- you know, in May, and
10 if so, why didn't the Crisis Staff issue similar decisions?
11 A. If they asked us to provide them vehicles -- I mean, if they were
12 to ask us, we didn't have the money to buy the vehicles and we did not
13 have the vehicles.
14 Q. All right. But these public enterprises, were they working, were
15 they functioning in May, were they functioning in April?
16 A. They all tried to work as much as they could.
17 Q. All right. 1D 00889. 1D 00889, again 19th June 1992, a decision
18 on the establishment of the Mostar Municipal Department of Civilian
19 Protection. What is this about? And should I ask: Why was it necessary
20 to establish a civilian protection department when it should have been in
21 existence already?
22 A. In any event, there was a need to organise the civilian
23 protection better, because that civilian protection was organised in
24 peacetime, and during its activities during wartime it became evident
25 that it was necessary to reorganise it.
1 Q. All right. Well, had it been activated prior to this point, the
2 civilian protection?
3 A. Yes, yes, it worked the entire time.
4 Q. All right. 1D 00587, this is a decision -- this is now dated 30
5 June 1992. This is a decision to introduce a work obligation, and it
6 says: "This decision shall temporarily govern the implementation of a
7 work obligation in the municipality of Mostar
8 Tell us, what is this about? And in doing so, tell us whether
9 this is an effort to Croatise the area.
10 A. No.
11 Q. What is the decision about?
12 A. This decision urges people who lived in enterprises on the left
13 bank to go back there to organise the companies, to protect their
14 property, and to try to organise any kind of operation or function.
15 Q. Now, you say in your answer, we have in English, "people who
16 lived in enterprises on the left ..." Are you saying people who
17 actually worked, is that what you meant, not "lived"?
18 A. Who were working there, who were working.
19 Q. Okay, all right. The next decision, 1D 00578. This is a
20 decision on setting up a central construction material depot. Why was
21 this necessary? Again, this is 30th of June, 1992.
22 A. At the time, people started to go back to their homes that were
23 damaged. They needed construction material. And because of that, there
24 was even looting of construction material. In order to prevent that, the
25 HVO organised a central warehouse to prevent robberies and looting, and
1 at the same time to attempt to distribute the construction materials
2 according to priorities, i.e., to those who needed it more rather than
3 those who didn't need it that much.
4 MR. KARNAVAS: Thank you.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Just a minute. Witness, what
6 you're saying is interesting. If I understood you right, there was a
7 need to rebuild, and here I'm talking to the architect. So there was a
8 need to rebuild, but those whose property had been damaged needed
9 building material. They needed bricks, cement, shingles, et cetera. So
10 a central depot had been set up, and those who came and got -- and people
11 could come to this depot to get building material. Now, was there a
12 register or something in this depot so that you could list whoever -- the
13 name of whoever was coming to get, for example, five bags of cement, and
14 the person would sign in order to acknowledge that it had been -- it had
15 received five sacks of cement, or ten bricks, or whatever? Was there
16 this kind of register?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] There was the service. There were
18 also people whose task it was to do that, and they did that. The problem
19 at the time was also because everybody was securing humanitarian aid
20 through a direct line, and then what would happen is that humanitarian
21 assistance in construction material would go to a village where it wasn't
22 needed as much. So that is why the HVO began to introduce order in this
23 area, to assess the situation and then issue construction material and
24 make a record of it in order to prevent abuses.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I'm asking this question in
1 order to know whether there exists elements that could hint at the
2 following fact, the fact that the HVO had set up a system so that Muslims
3 from East Mostar could obtain construction material that they needed to
4 rebuild their homes, in order to fix their homes. This is what I'm
5 trying to find out.
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] There were no tensions at the time,
7 and there were no such intentions at the time.
8 THE INTERPRETER: Could the witness please repeat his answer.
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I don't think you've
10 understood my question. I would like to know whether there are
11 documents, like registers, that would state that, for example, that
12 Mr. X, a Muslim from East Mostar, received five bags of cement to rebuild
13 his house.
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I don't know about documents, but I
15 assume that it can be found somewhere. But I don't know if there is
16 anything that is archived in that sense.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] It's up to the lawyers to do
19 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Looking at this document, I cannot help noticing
20 that there are two blank spots. Someone was to be appointed, but there's
21 no indication. And there's to be a deadline, and that is left open. And
22 also I do not see a signature. Did you know this document before you
23 came here to testify?
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The document I am familiar with
25 from before, because I read the Official Gazette of the Mostar
1 municipality. The document was signed by Jadran Topic personally. It
2 means that it was signed in the original, but then it was just published.
3 It is the R. Vlastrucjno [phoen] and it is standard practice when a
4 document is published in the Official Gazette. At the time, there
5 weren't that many technical possibilities to do things like this. The
6 fact that you cannot see the name or the deadline, well, simply the
7 quantity of the work, the speed, the problems that forced people to do
8 things like this, made them to it.
9 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Well, I thank you for answering.
10 MR. KARNAVAS: And now for the Trial Chamber and everyone else's
11 note, all of these documents are from the Official Gazette as they were
13 If we go to the next document, 1D 0583, this is a decision on a
14 temporary close-down of catering facilities.
15 Q. What exactly does this mean, and why was it necessary?
16 A. That was the time of victory. Soldiers were celebrating in
17 cafes. They were armed. In order to establish order, the Municipal
18 Council -- in order to establish order in the town, to prevent
19 drunkenness, they adopted this decision.
20 Q. All right. Now, was that both on West and East, or was it just
21 preventing one group of people from drinking and partying, or
22 celebrating, I should say?
23 A. This applied to all.
24 Q. All right. 1D 00584. This is a decision to fix the working
25 hours of enterprises in privately-owned stores selling consumer goods,
1 and we see it's restricted from 10.00 a.m. to 1 p.m., 1000 hours to 1300.
2 So could you please tell us, why was this necessary?
3 A. This is also something that was adopted for the purposes of
4 establishing order in town, so that the shops would not be open all day
5 and that people who worked in the shops also had time to go to the
6 shelters. That is the reason for this decision, to have people stick
7 around for less time.
8 Q. 1D 00586, and we're going to see more of these sorts of
9 decisions. This one is to impose a curfew. This is the first one, dated
10 30 June 1992
11 10.00 p.m.
12 to have a curfew at that point in time, and did this apply throughout the
13 city and was it for everyone in Mostar or just for some?
14 A. This applied for the entire area of the town and applied to all
15 citizens, and the decision was adopted for the purposes of establishing
16 order in the town, since a lot of people were armed and they -- the
17 intention was to prevent these people from moving around town at night.
18 MR. KARNAVAS: Thank you, sir.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well.
20 Mr. Witness, there's going to be a curfew imposed here also,
21 because it's 7.00 p.m.
22 Mr. Karnavas, so far you have used up 2 hours and 35 minutes.
23 Witness, please come back tomorrow for tomorrow's hearing. We
24 are sitting in the morning, so we just have a few hours of sleep in front
25 of us and we will all resume at 9.00, thank you, tomorrow.
--- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 7.00 p.m.
2 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 16th day of September,
3 2008, at 9.00 a.m.