1 Thursday, 26 November 2009
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The accused Coric and Pusic not present]
5 [The witness entered court]
6 --- Upon commencing at 9.01 a.m.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Registrar, could you call the
9 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning, Your Honours. Good morning,
10 everyone in and around the courtroom.
11 This is case number IT-04-74-T, the Prosecutor versus Prlic
12 et al. Thank you, Your Honours.
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Registrar.
14 Today is Thursday, 26th of November, 2009. Good morning to the
15 four accused. Apparently two are ill. Good morning to the Defence
16 counsel. Good morning, Witness. Good morning, Mr. Bos, Mr. Scott, and
17 Madam Case Manager, and all the people assisting us. And I also greet
18 the security officers present in the courtroom.
19 We are to continue with cross-examination. It seems that the
20 Prosecutor still has 40 minutes to complete his cross-examination. But
21 before I ask him to proceed, I have a follow-up question for you,
23 WITNESS: WITNESS 4D-AB [Resumed]
24 [The witness answered through interpreter]
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Who was the commander of the
1 operative zone of your brigade?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I'm not receiving interpretation.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I'll put my question again.
4 Could you tell me, Witness, who was the commander of the
5 operative zone of your brigade?
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Could you please repeat? I was
7 without interpretation again.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I hope the interpreters are
9 awake now. I'll repeat my question for a third time.
10 Can you tell me who was the commander of the operative zone of
11 your brigade?
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] We belonged to the Zone of
13 Operations South-East, and the commander was Mica Lasic.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. When there were
15 large-scale operations, were there joint operations conducted by several
16 operative zones?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] In this case, as far as we from
18 Konjic are concerned, the answer is no. Only when we requested help, we
19 simultaneously requested it from both zones of operations because that
20 was our position between two or, if you will, three zones of operation,
21 if we consider Central Bosnia too.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] When you were in your brigade
23 on the 15th of April, 1993
24 I'm going to ask you whether you remember exactly what you were doing on
25 the 15th of April. I couldn't answer such a question, personally, but
1 you're younger than me, so it may be that your memory works better than
2 mine. On the 15th of April, 1993, did you, by any chance, hear that the
3 commander of the HVO brigade in Zenica, Zivko Totic, had been kidnapped
4 by Muslims? Did you, by any chance, hear about that?
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] At that time, I didn't know that.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You said that you didn't know
7 that then. When did you learn about it?
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Until our departure, that is, until
9 our part of the brigade left the circle in which it was, a significant
10 amount of time elapsed. But a number of people were kidnapped or
11 detained, so I'm not really sure. I may have heard such accounts, but I
12 didn't pay much attention.
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You're not aware of it. The
14 reason why I'm asking this question is as follows. I'm very clear,
15 transparent, in my questions. My questions are never tricky, there's
16 never any trap. So the Prosecution says that there was an ultimatum on
17 the 15th of April, and following the ultimatum there was an all-out HVO
18 offensive in several municipalities, including in Central Bosnia; hence
19 the attacks on Ahmici, Vitez, et cetera. One of the Defence cases in the
20 Kordic or Blaskic cases was that the attacks on the 16th of April were
21 only the result of this Totic gentleman being kidnapped, and as a result
22 of that Colonel Blaskic, at 6.30 p.m.
23 to mobilise the brigades for defensive actions. And that's the reason
24 why I was asking you whether you'd heard that something had happened on
25 the 15th of April. And you answered, No, so I must conclude from that
1 that at the level of your brigade, on the 16th of April, there was no
2 plan for defensive or offensive actions at your level?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] As far as we're concerned, in my
4 brigade -- actually, parts of my brigade, that is, the 1st Battalion, we
5 were attacked by the ABiH as soon as the 14th of April, and on the 16th,
6 there were attacks of the ABiH in the area of my battalion, which was
7 deployed at Konjic, and we didn't launch any attacks. We were caught in
8 a situation in which we were broken up into smaller groups.
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you for your answers.
10 Mr. Bos, you may proceed.
11 MR. BOS
12 Good morning, everyone in the courtroom and outside the
14 Cross-examination by Mr. Bos: [Continued]
15 Q. Good morning, Witness. We'll have to have your exhibit binder.
16 Maybe the usher can give you the exhibit binder. There's one topic that
17 I still want to discuss with you this morning, and that's the events
18 around mid-April 1993, which you already received some questions from the
19 Presiding Judge.
20 Could I ask you to take a look again at P01911, which is the
21 ECMM report that we've seen before. P01911.
22 Now, sir, I'm going to read out to you Chapter 5 of this report,
23 and then I'll ask you some questions about it. So this report is dated
24 the 16th of April, and under number 5, the officer here describes the
25 present situation in the region:
1 "Conflict rages between the villages north of Lake Jablanica
2 the HVO villages much better equipped, T-34 [sic] tanks and rockets, much
3 better equipped than Muslim communities. The BiH are: A, attempting to
4 seize the strategic military position of Zlatar, just east of Konjic,
5 which the HVO refused to share; B, blocking the Prozor approach to
6 Jablanica along with HVO armour with approach at Slatina, where a
7 heavily-fortified position exists and large blocks of granite have
8 stopped all vehicle movement; C, expelling all HVO units from Jablanica
9 and Konjic ..."
10 Sir, let's just stop there.
11 So the officer here is describing the situation as regards the
12 BiH Army. What would be your comment on this? Would this be an accurate
13 reflection of the situation on the 16th of April, as far as the BiH Army
14 is concerned and what they were doing?
15 A. As far as these facts are concerned, the ones you read out, as
16 far as I know, we didn't have T-84 [as interpreted] tanks, at least to my
17 knowledge, but the T-84 [as interpreted] is a large piece of armament, so
18 I think I would have seen it. And as for Zlatar, we spoke a lot about
19 taking that strategic feature. It was our communications centre. The
20 Muslims tried to take it at any price, because if you take away a
21 communications centre from a unit, you have 50 per cent defeated it,
22 because they are left without communication then.
23 And the approach toward Jablanica we know very well from previous
24 documents that we dealt with. And with regard to that, there were orders
25 to block approaches not from -- from Prozor, but from other directions,
1 units from other directions that wanted to go to Konjic.
2 HVO units from Jablanica were mentioned yesterday, and I said
3 that our battalion had problems there, and it pulled out of Jablanica
4 under pressure and went to the village of Sovici
5 Q. So, sir, you would agree that this is an accurate reflection of
6 the situation around mid-April 1993, at least as far as the part that I
7 have read out so far?
8 A. I would not agree, because I said right away that the arguments
9 are not stated correctly. Did we have a tank? No, we didn't, so I
10 cannot agree with what is said here.
11 Q. My apologies. You did say that you didn't have tanks, but I was
12 referring to what the BiH Army was doing, and I think there you seem to
13 confirm that what is being said here, it was indeed what the BiH Army was
14 doing. Correct?
15 A. Yes, but not in this context that is put forward here. They had
16 other intentions and not protecting some facilities or things.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, I did not pay any
18 particular attention to the issue of the T-54 tank, but I was listening
19 to you and then I wondered whether this report we all can see is
21 If the author of this report speaks about a T-54, there are two
22 possibilities. Now we can see "T-84." It was T-54, T-54 tank, please.
23 So if this tank did exist, the observers must have seen it, and it's
24 rather unbelievable that you should say that you've never seen any in the
25 area. So what conclusion do you draw? Because there are two
1 possibilities; either the report is wrong or you are lying.
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I am saying that there was no T-84
3 [as interpreted] tank. Whether there were other armoured vehicles, well,
4 there may have been, but here it is said that the ABiH had a
5 self-propelled Howitzer which looks like a tank, and they took it from
6 Konjic toward our Neretvica Brigade, and the Lisin Detachment made the
7 most use of it. It was positioned above the villages that were
8 mentioned. The Lisin Brigade is a unit of the ABiH.
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Bos.
10 MR. BOS
11 Q. Okay. So let's continue reading under Chapter 5, and I'll just
12 read it out:
13 "The HVO are attacking the Slatina position with artillery from
14 Ustirama; B, attacking Ostrozac positions, including the obvious refugee
15 centre, with artillery and tank fire from Kostajnica; C, attacking the
16 villages of Here and Scipe north-east of Prozor with artillery from south
17 of Lake Ramsko
18 west of the Neretva Valley
19 artillery from the south and west; E, shelling Jablanica from Kostajnica
20 and Doljani (west of Jablanica)."
21 So, sir, let me ask you the same question. What do you have to
22 comment about the facts that are being stated here by the ECMM officer?
23 A. I don't know how to comment this. These EC Monitors may have
24 copied a report of the ABiH where statements are made in an arbitrary
25 fashion, because it is impossible to do some of the things mentioned
1 here; namely, shell Jablanica from Kostajnica over Boksevica. That's
2 utterly impossible. And I don't know what else to say about this report.
3 This is obviously copied from another source, and it's in line with the
4 scenario of the ABiH, which sent the reports to the media and to the
5 UNPROFOR and everybody else around.
6 Yesterday, when you interrupted me, I wanted to speak my mind
7 about some things -- about some events in the Konjic municipality. There
8 were some organised groups. I don't know whether they were part of the
9 civilian or the military structures. At the time, they wore uniforms,
10 but they were tasked to launch a media campaign and to disseminate lies
11 in order to create hatred between the Croats and the Muslims in the area.
12 I wanted to say that yesterday, but you interrupted me, so I thought we
13 might continue today. There were several such groups, and those groups
14 were active not only at Konjic, but in all areas we are discussing now.
15 These groups had the task to work not only on these media plans and
16 information campaigns, they also had the task to buy armaments and
17 communications equipment from the HVO --
18 Q. I'm going to stop you, because you're not responding to my
19 question anymore. What I asked you to say is whether you agreed with the
20 facts that have been described here in this report, and now you're all
21 the way off my question. So please stick to answering my question as to
22 whether you agree with what's being described here as the situation on
23 the 15th of April.
24 A. Yes, yes, that's what I've been saying, that I don't agree with
25 this report because this report was drafted by such a group as these I
1 mention now. They sent their reports to UNPROFOR, and all the media in
2 Bosnia-Herzegovina, and elsewhere.
3 Q. Fine, you don't agree with it. That's enough.
4 Let's have a look at another document, which is --
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] One moment. Since the
6 Prosecutor is about to move on to another document, I have a question on
7 this one.
8 The Prosecutor asked you to confirm that the ABiH had - this is
9 point 5 - carried out the actions as described in this document, and as
10 part of this action, there was Zlatar. You told us that Zlatar was a
11 communication centre. I was listening to you, and I now try to see the
12 Prosecutor's question in their overall case, which is that on the
13 16th of April, the HVO carried out a large-scale operation against the
14 ABiH, and not the other way around. If the Prosecution's case is right,
15 at that time the ABiH was attacked from all sides in quite a number of
16 locations. But when you are under attack from everywhere, all around, do
17 you counter-attack by taking a communication centre like the one in
18 Zlatar, whilst there may be more relevant objectives when you carry out
19 defensive actions? In military terms, does that make sense? Does it
20 make sense that a party that is attacked is going to defend itself by
21 taking a communication centre? Is that logical, in military terms?
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] On the 14th of April, I believe we
23 said, and corroborated that with documents, that the ABiH attacked the
24 HVO. From no document can it be seen that the HVO attacked the ABiH.
25 Therefore, there was no reason for the ABiH to take the Zlatar facility;
1 only if it was their intention to launch offensive actions which would
2 involve the neutralisation of the communications centre and the
3 neutralisation of the enemy military.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You're not quite answering my
5 question. I'm going to rephrase it.
6 Let us imagine that you, the HVO, are being attacked by the ABiH.
7 Just a hypothesis. So you're being attacked. And if you are being
8 attacked, you're going to defend yourself. In doing so, are you going to
9 attack the communications centre, the enemy's communications centre?
10 This is what I'm trying to find out.
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Every army, when it attacks any
12 other army, of course a communications centre is a high pay-off target,
13 so logically, taking the communication centre was a priority for the ABiH
14 in this case because it's a core component of a military structure,
15 because without a communication centre, there can be no co-ordination
16 between their units.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, you don't understand
18 my question. I'm going to repeat it.
19 My starting point is that you are the HVO and you're being
20 attacked. I even imagine that you are the brigade commander, and you're
21 being told that there is an all-out attack by the ABiH. You, as an HVO
22 commander, are you going to tell your men, who are being attacked, that
23 they have to counter-attack by taking the attacker's communication
24 centre? This is a technical question, you see.
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour, I answered your
1 question. I said that if we had attacked, I would also have ordered to
2 take the communication centre. I believe I provided that answer.
3 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I apologise. I
4 believe the witness didn't understand that the question involved a
5 hypothetical counter-attack.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Ms. Alaburic.
7 Yes, my question is about a counter-attack; not an attack, a
9 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, the witness has
10 obviously been under attack constantly, so probably he has difficulty in
11 adapting to this.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So he finds it difficult to
13 imagine such a situation. Very well.
14 Please continue, Mr. Bos.
15 MR. BOS
16 Q. Sir, could I ask you to take a look at Exhibit P01915, P01915.
17 Now, this is an interim report from Commander Siljeg, inter alia
18 addressed to the HVO Defence Department and the HVO Main Staff, and I
19 want to go into detail into this document. So let's start from the
20 beginning, and then I'll ask you some questions while we're going along.
21 So as I said, it's a report addressed to the Department of
22 Defence of the Main Staff, the Operational Zone Herzegovina,
24 "We are establishing IZM OZ SC Herzegovina
25 Rama Brigade.
1 "2. Establish a wire connection with facilities Boksevica,
2 Pisvir, Sovicka Vrata, and with the command of the Mijat Tomic Battalion
3 in the village of Doljani
4 Let me ask you -- we've discussed Boksevica and we know what
5 Boksevica is, but is it clear that Pisvir and Sovicka Vrata are elevated
6 positions near Sovici/Doljani?
7 A. Yes, it's clear that these are nearby elevations.
8 Q. And we'll continue:
9 "Artillery disposition as follows ..."
10 And then we have a couple of places, and I'm going to ask you if
11 you can identify where those places are:
12 "The village of Dobrosa
13 what -- people can read out what kind of artillery is located there.
14 What I'm interested in is, could you tell me where the Dobrosa
15 area is? I'm not really sure whether you can indicate it on the map, but
16 do you know where that is?
17 A. I don't know. I'm not familiar with the area. This is part of
18 the Prozor-Rama Z. Maybe I would be able to locate it, but I can't tell
19 you anything about it. I've never been there. It's a different
20 municipality, different zone, a different brigade.
21 Q. Which municipality would Dobrosa be?
22 A. The municipality of Prozor
23 Q. And what about the village of Mlusa
24 under item 3? Is that correct that that's west of Prozor?
25 A. I believe that it is also part of Prozor municipality.
1 Q. And then we have the village of Donja Vast. Now, is it correct,
2 sir, that that's east of Prozor?
3 A. I've told you that I'm not very familiar with the Prozor
4 municipality. I've never been in that municipality. Before the war,
5 jobs never took me there, so I'm really not very familiar with Prozor.
6 I can tell you more about Konjic, but as for Prozor, I could search the
7 map and try to locate places, but that would take a lot of time. At this
8 moment, I'm really not prepared to do that.
9 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Mr. Prosecutor, I wonder whether it makes much
10 sense to ask this witness to locate localities which everyone can find on
11 maps. I suggest that you look at IC693, which is a map of the Prozor
12 area labelled -- actually called "Konjic 1," and you find these
13 localities on the map.
14 MR. BOS
15 Q. Let me just then say, sir, correct that -- the next is the
16 village of Ustirama. Is it correct that this is about north of Slatina,
17 the location of Ustirama?
18 A. Ustirama is on the road between Jablanica and Prozor, and it is
19 part of the municipality of Jablanica
20 Q. Let's continue under item number 4 of this report:
21 "Positions towards the villages Here, Kute, Scipe have been
22 secured. The Makljen Pass
23 Can you make any comment on that?
24 A. I'll try and comment. If I am correct in what I think, I believe
25 that the Makljen Pass
1 Uskoplje, and I believe that the task of that platoon was to prevent the
2 arrival of any forces from Vakuf. And likewise towards Here, Kute,
3 Scipe, this is where the defence zone was set up, in my opinion.
4 Q. I'll continue to number 5:
5 "Two battle tanks are ready for a show of force and action if
6 needed, and are manoeuvring on axes: The village of Kute
7 and towards the village of Slatina
9 Then moving to number 7:
10 "Coordinating with Tuta has been done through the Posusje unit on
11 Sovicka Vrata."
12 Sir, do you know who Tuta was?
13 A. I know who Tuta is.
14 Q. Sir, did Mr. Tuta have anything to do with the operations going
15 on in Sovici and Doljani?
16 A. I don't know whether he had anything to do with the operation. I
17 believe that he was involved in an operation when those villages were
18 being occupied by the BiH Army. He was involved in one action in that
19 stretch around Sovici, but I don't know exactly where.
20 Q. Sir, it's correct that Sovicka Vrata is an elevated position near
21 Sovici and Doljani; isn't that true? That's what you just confirmed a
22 little while ago.
23 A. Yes, above Sovici, in the direction of Risovac, that's where the
24 Sovicka Vrata is.
25 Q. Let's read out number 9 of this report:
1 "Requests of the Herceg Stjepan Brigade are unrealistic and make
2 no sense. There is a feeling that they do not know the situation, since
3 the reports are written like children's compositions and newspaper
4 articles and not like military reports. We cannot know what's going on,
5 since we do not have precise reports."
6 Number 10:
7 "According to the submitted requests, we should use up all
8 available ammunition in one day and then do without it."
9 Now, sir, here Commander Siljeg is criticising the reports that
10 are coming from Konjic. Can you comment on what Mr. Siljeg is saying
12 A. I can say something about the reports from Konjic.
13 Yesterday or the day before, we discussed the situation that our
14 brigade found itself in. The reports were not written by people who were
15 either savvy or were tasked with writing reports, because they'd never
16 been in such situations before. Our brigade, as you can see from this
17 report, was in a very bad condition, without any communication channels,
18 so that the reports that were being sent to our superiors were not sent
19 by commanders or assistant commanders. This was done by platoon
20 commanders. These were not requests. These were cries for help, sir,
21 because if you find yourself in a situation when you have only 20 men,
22 and you're under attack by 200 men and you're defending yourself, those
23 can't be requests but just cries for help, and they cannot be selective.
24 They can go along the lines of, We are asking for assistance. Can you
25 assist us as soon as possible? These were not requests. These were our
1 cries for help. And the supremacy of the enemy was so obvious, and the
2 more powerful they were, the more the commanders cried, and it shows you
3 how much stronger the BiH Army was than the HVO. I can tell you that for
4 each member of the Croatian Defence Council, there were 20 soldiers on
5 the side of the BiH Army. That was the ratio at that time.
6 Q. Well, sir, I understand what you're saying, but doesn't it depend
7 really on where in the region you are, because we're talking now here
8 about Konjic and the region where you are, but what about the other
9 regions, you know, in the bordering area of Konjic, Jablanica, Prozor?
10 You're surely not talking about the complete region, Prozor, Jablanica
11 and Konjic, are you?
12 A. Sir, I am omitting Prozor. I'm talking about the area of
13 responsibility of my brigade. I'm talking about Konjic, the
14 Neretvica Valley
15 area in the direction of Jablanica. In that part, according to our
16 estimate that we undertook as much as we could, to the extent we were
17 able to make any estimates, one HVO soldier was attacked by 20 soldiers
18 of the BiH Army, so what kind of reports could one expect? Was there
19 anybody able to compose a report, anybody who could get hold of any sort
20 of communication channel? And as I've told you, all the communication
21 channels had been broken by then, so anybody who got hold of such a
22 communication channel cried for help.
23 Q. Well, let's just continue reading the report in the last two
25 "There is a wire link to the Herceg Stjepan Command from which we
1 have asked detailed and precise reporting on the situation and precise
2 requests for operations. We continue to work according to plan."
3 Now, sir, would you agree with me that this report from Siljeg
4 confirms the ECMM conclusion that there was an HVO operation in the
5 Prozor-Jablanica-Konjic region and that there was a specific HVO plan to
6 take the region?
7 A. An operation was underway in the territories of Konjic and
8 Jablanica, pursuant to a plan by the BH Army that we saw yesterday and
9 the day before yesterday, and that plan showed the exact tasks which had
10 been distributed among the units from Bradina to Jablanica, Aleksin Han,
11 and the axis leading toward Doljani and Sovici and further on towards
13 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone.
14 MR. BOS
15 Q. Let's have a look at another document, which is P01872.
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, before we move on to
17 another document, the Prosecutor omitted reading item 8, and I would like
18 to draw your attention on it. Please take a look at item 8. Two
19 locations are specifically mentioned, the village of Slatina
20 village of Sovici. An operation is supposed to occur on Slatina as of
21 7.00 a.m.
22 we have mention of selected targets. This document from Colonel Siljeg,
23 dates April 16, it's an interim report drawn up at 8.00. It's "202/93."
24 That's the reference number. It would have been interesting to know
25 that -- have a look at item 201, 200, 199. I will do that later, because
1 I have all documents in my office in chronological order, so I'll go
2 check, myself, to see whether documents 201 and 200, you know, also
3 exist. I don't know yet. But if it's an interim report, it means that
4 there must have been a previous report which might have been drafted as
5 of 6.00 a.m.
6 seems to contradict what you're telling us. It would seem that they did
7 prepare to target Slatina and Sovici, and they didn't prepare the
8 targeting on April 16th, but on the 15th, the 14th, or the 13th of April,
9 because there is mention of selected target. It's not targets that have
10 just been selected; they have been selected earlier.
11 So could you tell me how you interpret paragraph 8, in military
12 terms? Does this mean that there was already a plan regarding Slatina
13 and Sovici?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, let me remind you of
15 the order issued by the BiH Army from Jablanica, and in that order he
16 sent his units in the axes of Slatina -- let me just see -- Slatina and
17 Sovici. He sent his units in the direction of Slatina and Sovici, and he
18 also sent a sabotage unit which was capable of destroying artillery and
19 all the other armament that was deployed in the area that they assumed
20 that it was Risovac, which means that those units had already taken those
21 positions. And I believe that the order was issued a day or two days
22 before that. I believe that the reports arrived from the field to them,
23 that they had noticed those movements, and that this is what was going on
24 in that area.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. If I understand you
1 correctly, your explanation is the following: The BH Army attacked, and
2 then the HVO prepared its retaliation and attack, which is why on item 8
3 Colonel Siljeg planned an operation on Slatina and Sovici. Is that what
4 you told us? Did I understand you correctly?
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, that is the meaning of my
6 words. The units that had already been entering the sector were
7 discovered, and that's what the gentleman was supposed to do. You're
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Witness, you might
10 be a bit surprised by my questions, but as Judges we have the following
11 difficulty: We're totally dependent on what information is provided to
12 us by the Prosecution and by the Defence, and we draw our conclusions
13 from the information we've been provided with. In another system, in the
14 civil law system, you know, the judge would have found all orders from
15 the ABiH and all orders from the HVO, and would have compared them and
16 would have seen the light from this comparison, and we would have
17 probably saved an immense amount of time. But I have to put questions to
18 you in order to check many things, with the added difficulty that we do
19 not have the entire documents at hand.
20 If I had been able to do so, I would have looked at Order 201,
21 200, 199, 198, and I would have also looked at all other orders given by
22 all other operational zones. I would have done the same thing for the
23 3rd Corps of the BH Army, all the other corps, and I'm sure that we would
24 have found the truth. But we only get part of the information from both
25 sides, which is why we have such difficulties and why I have to put
1 questions to you.
2 Mr. Bos, please pursue.
3 MR. BOS
4 Q. Sir, could I ask you to look at P01872.
5 Now, sir, this is an order from Commander Lasic, dated the
6 14th of April, 1993, and I'm just going to read out the operative
7 paragraph of this order. It says:
8 "In view of carrying out the combat mission in the
9 Prozor-Jablanica-Konjic area, I order ..."
10 And then what follows is the order.
11 Now, sir, would you agree with me that this language shows that
12 not only Commander Siljeg but also Commander Lasic were involved in this
13 operation, so that both the South-East Operational Zone and the
14 North-West Operational Zone were involved in this combat operation in the
15 Prozor-Konjic-Jablanica area and that both zones were involved in this
17 A. I don't know who participated or -- I have not seen this order
18 before. I was not in a position to see it before, because you know where
19 I was at the time. No need to repeat that.
20 Q. Let's move back one more time to P01911, which is the ECMM
22 I'm going to read out to you Chapter number 7, which reads: "The
23 present analysis." It reads:
24 "The HVO wish to secure the Klis region within the framework of
25 or under cover of the Vance-Owen Plan for its military and economic
2 "The HVO are waging a political and diplomatic campaign to seize
3 the region without international intervention or outcry.
4 "At the time of writing, the HVO are making their most serious
5 attempt to isolate Jablanica before seizing it.
6 "Further advances can be expected in the Prozor region, where no
7 ECMM or UNPROFOR presence can intervene at any time.
8 "Any HVO initiative will have to use maximum force to minimise
9 casualties and make maximum progress in as short a time as possible.
10 "The region must be secured before international talks re-start
11 and frustrate any military initiative."
12 Now, sir, it talks about the wish of the HVO to secure the Klis
13 region. Could I ask you to indicate on the map what is the Klis region?
14 Maybe you can turn on the ELMO.
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Bos, I'm looking at the
16 map. Yesterday, the witness circled a number of localities, positioned
17 villages and so on, but I don't think we gave an IC number to this marked
19 MR. BOS
20 intended that he was going to mark a few more things on the map. So
21 we'll give it an IC number.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well, but don't forget to
23 ask for an IC number.
24 MR. BOS
25 Q. Sir, could you put a circle around the Klis region and mark it
1 with the number C, please.
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] A D, rather, because a C has
3 already been used. It should be a D.
4 THE WITNESS: [Marks]. This is the circle, maybe a bit larger.
5 This would be the region of Klis. It may not be perfectly correct.
6 There may be a place here and there that's outside of it.
7 MR. BOS
8 Q. Would you please mark a D in that region, please.
9 A. [Marks]
10 MR. BOS
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Registrar, please, could we
13 have an IC number.
14 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, Your Honour.
15 The document just marked by the witness shall be given
16 Exhibit IC01129. Thank you, Your Honours.
17 MR. BOS
18 Q. Sir, is it correct, what the ECMM is saying here, that the HVO
19 were trying to secure the Klis region?
20 A. What number was that?
21 Q. No, you don't have to look at a document, well, unless -- we just
22 read out the ECMM report, and so the ECMM officer is saying that the HVO
23 wanted to secure the Klis region. My question is: Is that correct?
24 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, irrespective of the
25 fact that the UNPROFOR report is being quoted, I believe that my learned
1 friend should clarify the notion "secure," because at that time the area
2 of Klis was under the control of the Croatian authorities, so I'm not
3 really clear as to what my learned friend is aiming at. What is his
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You said "secure," Mr. Bos. We
6 would like to know how the witness should interpret the term "secure."
7 What exactly did you mean by "secure," so the witness can answer the
9 MR. BOS
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] As has been already been told, in
11 Klis and the region around it consisted of Croatian or mixed villages,
12 which means that the HVO did not engage in any attacks, nor did it want
13 to attack anything in the area. The situation was as it was. Everybody
14 held their own villages, everybody was in their own villages. Those were
15 local units. The HVO never attempted to cross over to the territory.
16 With Muslims, there was no single case of an HVO soldier -- or a soldier
17 bearing HVO insignia trying to enter a village with a Muslim population.
18 On the other hand, there are documents showing that there were
19 attacks on Buscak on the 13th or on the 14th, which was much before.
20 MR. BOS
21 Q. Sir, another thing that the ECMM report says is that the HVO
22 attempted to isolate Jablanica, and let me just show you Exhibit P01876.
23 Would you have a look at P01876.
24 Now, sir, this is a warning issued by Commander Lasic to Pasalic
25 on the 14th of April, 1993, on ABiH intention to remove the HVO
1 check-point at Radesine, and he's warned not even to think about
2 dislodging the Radesine check-point since it has been located in Croatian
3 Community controlled territory.
4 Now, if you read this order and the tone of this order, would you
5 agree with me that this order doesn't give the impression that the HVO in
6 Konjic is under an attack of the ABiH?
7 A. As for the check-point at Radesine, let me tell you that apart
8 from all efforts to put up joint check-points, which -- and which proved
9 unsuccessful, all along the M-17 highway, let me repeat once again, from
10 Aleksin Han through Jablanica, Ostrozac, Konjic, all the way to Bradina,
11 they were all controlled by the ABiH.
12 Q. But we're talking here about Radesine. Was Radesine, on the
13 14th of April, controlled by the HVO or the ABiH? Just give me an answer
14 to that question, please.
15 A. Yes, I will, but let me first explain why the Radesine
16 check-point was set up by the HVO, because we didn't have one single
17 check-point on the M-17 road from Jablanica to Bradina. If we wanted to
18 let someone kill us, we could have let them take it. So we had to
19 control the forces because there was intelligence that from Bradina,
20 following the M-17 road, two brigades had passed.
21 MR. KARNAVAS: I would appreciate if the Prosecutor would allow
22 the witness to explain, because it goes to this whole notion of tu
23 quoque, the assertions that that's what the Defence is trying to do
24 throughout this case. Now we're hearing an explanation. The Prosecutor
25 is trying to use some ECC
1 actually came in, where he's getting this information. His answer
2 directly impeaches the report, itself. He's giving an explanation why
3 it's there, and it's a contrary explanation as to what the Prosecution is
4 trying to assert; that is, they are trying to isolate Jablanica. And
5 without the explanation, I don't believe that the Trial Chamber can reach
6 a proper decision. So I think the gentleman should be given the
7 opportunity to explain what is there, why it's there, how it got there,
8 and the Trial Chamber can then decide whether that was for the purposes
9 of isolation. And to trust this report of an individual who parachuted
10 into the region and is writing about things that most likely he had no
11 idea about.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] This is now recorded in the
13 transcript, but I wanted to put a follow-up question on Radesine. But
14 I'll let Mr. Bos finish first.
15 MR. BOS
16 Q. Well, Witness, what I want to know is - and that's why I asked
17 this question and you only need to answer that particular question - is:
18 If the HVO controlled the Radesine check-point on the 14th of April, is
19 it correct that the ABiH in Jablanica was isolated from Konjic, that no
20 ABiH could move to Jablanica from Konjic as a result of this check-point?
21 Is that correct, yes or no?
22 A. No, it's not correct, and I can explain once more, because if the
23 ABiH controlled everything at Ostrozac and at all other check-points, and
24 according to our intelligence, the M-17 road was used exclusively by the
25 ABiH to move their forces from Jablanica -- that is, from Bradina to
1 Jablanica, and we set up the check-point exclusively for the purpose of
2 controlling traffic and not to return anyone from that check-point, but
3 only to have insight in the movements of the forces of the ABiH. And the
4 gentlemen from the ABiH were bothered by that. We were not bothered by
5 their eight check-points.
6 MR. BOS
7 question or --
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, I do.
9 Witness, we have a document dated 14th of April, signed by
10 Mr. Lasic. It is an order that takes effect at midday, 12.00, on the
11 14th of April. In this order -- this is document 1872, P1872. In this
12 order, there's mention of various units being positioned, of
13 communications being set up, and also the fact that from a logistical
14 point of view, there should be support set up by the RTP of Medjugorje.
15 What is "RTP
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I haven't found the document. I
17 don't know what "RTP
18 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone for the Judge, please.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, I see "RTP-Medjugorje."
20 You don't know what it stands for?
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, I don't know for sure. I can't
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] We're looking at P1872 --
24 THE INTERPRETER: P1876, interpreter's correction.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] -- which is about Radesine.
1 But when reading this document, which is sent to Mr. Pasalic, Mr. Lasic
2 informs him that the Radesine check-point will be controlled by the HVO,
3 but that if ever the ABiH were to try to do anything, action will be
4 taken against Ostrozac, Konjic, Jablanica, and Mostar. This order -- or,
5 rather, this report - it's not an order, this is a report because I see
6 in the English version that it is a report - this report can be
7 interpreted as information given to Pasalic to the effect that from then
8 on, the HVO is going to be in charge of the check-point. The Prosecutor,
9 when he asked you the question, predicated his question on the idea that
10 from this check-point the HVO was trying to isolate Jablanica, was trying
11 to prevent the ABiH from going there. But looking at the map, you notice
12 that this locality, geographically speaking, is between Jablanica and
13 Konjic. It is a hilly region. So in military terms, if you have
14 positions there, you can prevent movement of the ABiH in both directions.
15 And that's the Prosecution case, as I understood it.
16 You answered the Prosecutor's question, in part. You said, No,
17 we were not there in order to control and prevent, but just to check
18 traffic. That's what you said. But when you have a check-point, you can
19 prevent ABiH troops from passing through, couldn't you?
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] You can stop traffic at a
21 check-point, but I have explained why the check-point at Radesine was set
22 up in the first place. I think that the ABiH hasn't mentioned one single
23 instance of a unit of theirs being returned from that check-point, and I
24 have said why the HVO had a reason to set up the Radesine check-point,
25 which means all check-points in the area of the Konjic municipality, from
1 Donja Jablanica to Radisa Han were all controlled by the ABiH, and it's a
2 well-known fact that they were returning HVO members -- turning away.
3 And we set up the check-point to have insight to see where ABiH members
4 were rallying. So the ABiH had eight check-points, and so I guess that
5 we, as the HVO, could -- were entitled to one check-point in a Croatian
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] A purely technical question.
8 At this check-point, in your view, how was it manned by the HVO;
9 by two people, three people, ten, or by a tank? Who was manning the
10 check-point, exactly?
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] At that check-point, there were up
12 to 10 men.
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] There were up to 10 men. Are
14 you sure?
15 THE WITNESS: [No interpretation]
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Let's take the Prosecutor's
17 case. He seems to say that from that check-point, the HVO wanted to
18 isolate Jablanica and wanted to prevent the ABiH from getting to
19 Jablanica. Now, is it logical that such a military action or operation
20 would be conducted by only 10 men?
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I've said that the purpose of the
22 check-point was not what the Prosecutor is trying to put forward. We had
23 intelligence reports about forces massing at Donja Jablanica which had
24 come from the direction of Bradina, and we wanted to know whether that
25 was correct or not, so we wanted a check-point to know what kind of units
1 passed by there. And if 10 soldiers were in a position to stop them from
2 passing through, then, yes, we were controlling that, but I don't believe
3 that 10 men could have stopped any ABiH unit from passing through.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Well, I'm not aware of the area
5 because I've never been there, but if the Judges had been to this area --
6 now, if you want to carry out a real military operation, if you want to
7 prevent the enemy from using this road, should you not have put one or
8 two tanks at that check-point? Because given the lay of the land, in
9 that way the ABiH could not have taken the check-point. So you wouldn't
10 have put just 10 men?
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I'll repeat once more. It was
12 never our intention to stop anything. The village of Radesine
13 well known, surrendered later to the Spanish Battalion, and there is
14 reliable information that there were about 50 persons there. We had no
15 tanks. These persons were partly civilians, partly soldiers. There was
16 fighting for about 13 days against a much stronger enemy, the ABiH. And
17 once they had run out of ammunition, they had the best intention to
18 surrender to the Spanish Battalion, and that Spanish Battalion handed
19 them over to a sabotage unit called Akrapi, and they took them to
20 Celebici, where they were mistreated, beaten. And one man succumbed to
21 his injuries that were inflicted upon him when they beat him. A few days
22 ago, a Konjic court convicted the perpetrator of that act who beat that
23 man to death.
24 So from the overall strength of units in that area, it was clear
25 that it was not a strong unit that could have prevented the much stronger
1 units of the ABiH from moving down that road.
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Bos.
3 MR. BOS
4 Q. Sir, wasn't the root of the problem of the operations on the
5 15th of April as follows: The HVO had a plan to take over the Konjic and
6 Jablanica area, an area which is a Muslim-dominated majority area. They
7 tried to attack the area, and it turns out that the ABiH resistance is
8 much stronger and bigger than expected. Is that not what we're talking
9 about here?
10 A. No, sir. Let me repeat once more.
11 In the area of the Konjic municipality, the HVO never intended to
12 conduct offensive actions, which can be seen from the documents shown in
13 this courtroom. The ABiH had offensive actions in the direction of
14 Konjic, through Klis and Boksevica, and other units from Jablanica were
15 tasked with taking the area toward Prozor, Risovac, and Boksevica, so we
16 are again speaking about offensive actions of [Realtime transcript read
17 in error "against"] the HVO, but there was never such a thing. And a
18 short while ago, I enumerated to you and showed you how -- in what
19 position the HVO was on the 14th and 16th of April, that these units had
20 been broken up, they had no communication among themselves, they had no
21 communication centre, and I told you what the purpose was of the ABiH
22 attack against the HVO.
23 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, just a correction of
24 the transcript. Line 10 of the current page, the witness said, speaking
25 about the HVO offensive as something that we cannot speak about. So
1 speaking about an HVO offensive, there was never such a thing, and what
2 is stated in the transcript, "offensive actions against the HVO." So the
3 word "against" is something the witness has not uttered. I believe that
4 once that word "against" is omitted, we will get a faithful rendering of
5 the witness's words.
6 MR. BOS
7 concluded my cross.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] One last thing about the
9 Radesine check-point. Do you know the place?
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, I do.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Regarding this area
12 or place, is there not a river along it?
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The Jablanica Lake is beneath
14 Radesine, and there is also a railroad line beneath the road, and some
15 10 metres lower there's the lake.
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So there's the Jablanica Lake
17 To your knowledge, did the ABiH have boats that made it possible for the
18 ABiH to move along the lake?
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, they didn't have boats, but
20 they passed through the road because we never prevented them from doing
21 so. It was just a check-point which wasn't meant to prevent traffic.
22 There were no barriers of any kind. There was merely a check-point, the
23 purpose of which was to see what was going on.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, I'm just trying to
25 ascertain the Prosecutor's case through my questions. I'm asking you
1 whether it was possible to use the lake to move using boats. This is
2 what I'm trying to find out, and you can tell me whether the ABiH had
3 boats or whether they didn't.
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, they didn't have any boats, but
5 they were able to use the railroad line, which was open and nobody
6 blocked it.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Regardless of the railway line,
8 sir, apart from the road, there may have been paths, making it possible
9 for infantrymen from the ABiH to bypass your check-point without any
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] That's correct.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] And using such paths, would
13 have found themselves under HVO fire, or could they have just gone on
14 without any problem?
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] They were in a position to walk
16 from Celebici and Idbar, bypassing Radesine by descending to Seljani, and
17 from Seljani to Ribici.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So you tell us that it would
19 not have been easy to go through without problems?
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] They could have passed without any
21 problems taking the route that I described. It's a foot-path.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] No, because, you see, I wanted
23 to know whether the ABiH soldiers, the infantry soldiers, using those
24 paths, were under the risk of HVO fire or whether they did not run the
25 risk of being seen and, therefore, being fired on.
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, they wouldn't have been exposed
2 to HVO fire because Radesine is a small village, and it's a Croatian
3 village, Croatian-populated village, and they were only defending
4 themselves. And the route that I described is on the other side of the
5 mountain. Celebici-Idbar-Seljani-Ribici, that would have been an easy
6 path to take.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The time has come to have a
8 break, and we'll then have the redirect.
9 --- Recess taken at 10.25 a.m.
10 --- On resuming at 10.48 a.m.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well.
12 Before I forget, I would like to read an oral decision on time
13 allotment for next week.
14 As you know, Witness Filip Filipovic is about to testify next
15 week, and early into next week also. The Trial Chamber has decided that
16 for the Petkovic Defence, the cross-examination and possible redirect
17 will have four hours, the other Defences for cross-examination will have
18 two hours altogether, and the Prosecution will have four hours for his
19 own cross-examination.
20 Ms. Alaburic, you have the floor for the redirect, and the time
21 you take for this will be deducted from your overall time. The
22 Trial Chamber had given you three hours. You've used up all three hours.
23 Now all time spent on the redirect will be deducted from your total time.
24 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I would like to
25 thank you.
1 I would like to remind you that during the cross-examination,
2 some new topics were tackled, not having been tackled in the
3 examination-in-chief. I'm going to try and bring this to a swift end.
4 Re-examination by Ms. Alaburic:
5 Q. [Interpretation] Witness, good morning.
6 Let's start with the questions about the control or check-point
7 in Radesine. You said that that was a check-point and not a point where
8 people were stopped; is that correct?
9 A. Yes, that's correct.
10 Q. Following up on Judge Antonetti's questions, I'm going to have a
11 similar question. If M-17 road was used by a battalion of the BH Army
12 about 300 men strong, and if they wanted to pass along that road,
13 irrespective of the HVO check-point, was there any possibility for those
14 troops to be stopped?
15 A. No, there was no such possibility. As I've already said, there
16 were about 10 soldiers at the check-point, and if they were faced with
17 300 troops coming on, of course, they could not have been stopped.
18 Q. You said that the BiH Army soon gained control over the village
19 of Radesine; is that correct?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. The Prosecutor showed you documents dated 14 April 1993. Just a
22 moment. Listen to me. Don't look for anything. He tried to demonstrate
23 to you that the HVO --
24 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Excuse me, Ms. Alaburic.
25 Bearing in mind the quest for precision that we've heard from
1 Mr. Praljak yesterday, "soon" seems to me a very vague term. What do you
2 mean, "soon," "the ABiH soon gained control"? Does that mean the next
3 day, or the next week, or the next month?
4 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, we have already seen
5 some documents to that effect, so I did not think that I had to be that
7 Q. Maybe the witness can tell us when it was that Radesine fell.
8 A. It was 13 days after the beginning of the aggression against the
10 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
11 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
12 Q. Can you tell us the date?
13 A. 26th or 27th of April, I believe.
14 Q. Year?
15 A. 1993.
16 Q. Very well. The Prosecutor showed you documents dated 14 April.
17 I'm going to remind you of a document that we analysed together during
18 the examination-in-chief, and the document speaks about the situation as
19 it was the day before, on the 13th of April. The document is in my
20 binder, towards the end, in the last part speaking about the April
21 events, and the documents follow a chronological sequence.
22 Your Honours, if you want to look at the document yourself, the
23 number is P1874, and the instruction for the witness is just to listen to
24 my question. P1874, P1874. Very well.
25 This is a summary report for the 13th of April. Let's see what
1 happened on the eve of the day when this document was issued or, rather,
2 when the documents that the Prosecutor showed you were issued. It says
3 that on that day, the Croatian village of Buscak
4 correct, Witness?
5 A. Yes, it is.
6 Q. It is also stated herein that the BiH Army had tried to cross the
7 lake from Ostrozac and to take Falanovo Hill. Further on, it says that
8 Buturovic Polje had been shelled. At the moment when the report was
9 being written, Kostajnica is under shelling. Actions were launched in
10 Konjic, which was encircled, as well as Jablanica. And the last sentence
12 "The actions are being stepped up."
13 According to what you know, Witness, was that the situation on
14 the 13th of April?
15 A. Yes, that's what it was like.
16 Q. The following report from Konjic, in the same document, states:
17 "The village of Buscak
18 wounded and captured. Urgently act pursuant to our previous request that
19 was sent to Prozor. A lot of reinforcement came from the direction of
20 Jablanica and is moving towards Mrakovo and Zuglici, with an intention to
21 take Boksevica. Buscak has fallen."
22 According to what you know, Witness, was that the situation on
23 that day?
24 A. Yes, that was the situation on that day. Buscak fell on that
25 day, precisely.
1 Q. In the same document, the third report from Konjic says that the
2 BH Army is opening mortar fire on Ljesovina, Buturovic Polje, and
3 Kostajnica. It says as well that the forces have infiltrated Mrakovo and
4 Djukovica [phoen], although they are still passive, from Orlovac,
5 Ljesovina is being pounded by laser [as interpreted]. An ultimatum was
6 given to Radesine to surrender their weapons before 1300 hours, and
7 Konjic are threatened by forces from Bosnia. And the final conclusion is
8 this is an all-out attack on the entire zone of Jablanica and Konjic.
9 Witness, is this a truthful report or not?
10 A. Yes, this is a truthful report, and this was said already a few
11 days ago.
12 Q. The Prosecutor has just shown you a document, P187 --
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, this is a question
14 that I will probably put to General Petkovic, but I think I'm also going
15 to ask you about it. We have seen this document, and during the redirect
16 we're seeing it again. This is a report -- a joint report from different
17 operational zones; North-West, Central Bosnia, and South-East. When
18 looking at this document, I am struck by the fact that it seems that
19 things are very quiet on the Central Bosnia front. Well, it's more or
20 less quiet. But in your own area, very serious events are happening, and
21 a great number of events. So when reading this document, according to
22 you, do you think the Main Staff, the central military authority, noting
23 that the situation was such on the south-east front, shouldn't they have
24 sent reinforcement to Konjic, given that the events that were unfolding
25 there? You were there, and did you feel that troops came to your rescue
1 or that you were left alone to deal with the situation?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] As far as we are concerned, the
3 BH Army in our zone, the zone where my brigade was deployed, carried out
4 an aggression against our unit, which could be seen from the previous
5 documents. And then if we remind ourselves of the documents that we also
6 analysed, and one of them was an order by the commander of the Neretva in
7 Jablanica, who says that the BiH Army and the leaders had foreseen that
8 we would seek assistance from operational zones in case of attack, and we
9 did that; however, they had already foreseen that, and the
10 Neretva Brigade commander from Jablanica issued an order and they
11 prevented the arrival of any assistance to us by any unit of the HVO from
12 any part, either from Mostar or Posusje or from Prozor. That means that
13 they prevented access to the units that were supposed to come to our
14 assistance in Aleksin Han, Sovicka Vrata, and the Prozor axis. This
15 means that we were left to our own devices to cope with a much more
16 powerful enemy, and I told you several times what the ratio was between
17 the two of us.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. You said that you
19 were not provided with any reinforcements, but according to you, it's
20 because the BH Army acted in such a way that the troops never were able
21 to come to your rescue. That might be the truth, but there could be
22 another version. And here I'm assuming, but let's assume that for some
23 time the HVO intended to prepare a plan to attack Central Bosnia.
24 Everything was ready, and suddenly the HVO discovers that there is a
25 BH Army attack around Konjic. But since they prepared, they planned
1 their attack for Central Bosnia, they're not budging and they letting you
2 to your own devices, so that on D-Day, i.e., April 16, they can launch
3 their attack starting at Ahmici, Vitez, and so on. Do you believe this
4 version to be plausible or ludicrous?
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I was not privy to the
6 plan in Central Bosnia. I was not aware of any movements of the HVO in
7 Central Bosnia
8 if there were any.
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. So you were not
10 privy of anything. Fine, thank you.
11 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
12 Q. Witness, now please rely on the documents that will start
13 appearing on the screen. There's no need for you to go through the
15 P17886 [as interpreted], 1876, P1876. This is a short report by
16 Miljenko Lasic, sent to Arif Pasalic, with regard to the check-point in
17 Radesine. Very soon you will see it on the screen.
18 My learned friend Mr. Bos told you earlier today, on page 24 of
19 today's record, that the tone of this order reveals that the HVO was
20 preparing an offensive against the BiH Army in the territory of Konjic
21 Witness, could you please tell me whether Miljenko Lasic, in this
22 document, responds to a threat issued by the BH Army or, rather, whether
23 does he threaten the BH Army? Which is the case here?
24 A. This is Mr. Miljenko Lasic's response to BiH Army threats. It is
25 not him threatening anybody. He is, on the contrary, responding to a
1 threat. He says if there is a forcible removal, which means --
2 Q. Look at the introduction. It says that the BiH Army threatens to
3 remove the HVO check-point in Radesine by force. Does this document
4 contain a threat that the HVO will forcibly remove BiH Army check-points
5 in the same region?
6 A. No, no. A reference here is exclusively to the check-point in
7 Radesine. Nobody in the HVO threatened anybody else with regard to any
8 check-points. The threat came at the expense of the HVO, against the
9 HVO, and it would be carried through if they did not remove their
11 Q. How do you understand this report? Is this information, on the
12 part of the HVO to the BiH Army, that they intended to defend their
13 check-point, or do they express any offensive intentions with regard to
14 the BiH Army?
15 A. This is just information from the HVO to the BiH Army that they
16 will defend their check-point.
17 Q. Let's look at the following document, P1872, P1872. This is
18 another document issued by Miljenko Lasic. It is an order dated
19 14 April 1993
20 Witness, tell me, based on this order, can we say that certain
21 units of the HVO are moving towards certain localities or whether the
22 order has a different effect?
23 A. This order orders troops to go to the positions from which they
24 will be able to extend help, if a request for help is sent. This is the
25 14th, and on the 13th we already asked for assistance from the operations
1 zone, which means that this is an order preparing grounds for extending
2 future help to somebody in a certain sector; in other words, to help us
3 in our sector.
4 Q. Let's look at the localities where troops should have been
5 deployed. A reference is made to Sovicka Vrata, and another reference is
6 made to the direction of movement, Citluk, Ljubuski, Posusje, Rakitno,
7 and Risovac. And then under 8 it says:
8 "Contact shall be established upon arrival in the Risovac
9 area ..."
10 Witness, on the examination-in-chief, did we already encounter
11 the localities of Sovicka Vrata and Risovac? If you remember, could you
12 please give us the context?
13 A. Yes, we did mention the Risovac axis. That was the axis from
14 which the assistance could have come to our brigade from Posusje. That
15 was one of the axes along which we could have expected help in Konjic.
16 Q. Just for the record, I'm going to say what was the order that we
17 analysed. It was an order by Enes Kovacevic, commander of the BH Army,
18 dated 14 April, and the document number is 2D246 [Realtime transcript
19 read in error "426"].
20 Witness, you will probably remember, but if you don't, we will
21 look at the document. Did this document set out that the BiH Army would
22 take certain positions precisely at the localities around Sovicka Vrata
23 and Risovac in order to prevent the arrival of the HVO assistance in the
24 territory of Jablanica
25 A. Yes. I don't have to read, but I can tell you that one BiH
1 company was sent in the direction of Sovici and Doljani and that a
2 sabotage unit was sent directly to Sovicka Vrata. In keeping with their
3 assumption, that was the only platoon from which fire could have been
4 opened, they did not have to go any further in depth. That was the only
5 elevation where artillery could be positioned. They sent their sabotage
6 unit to intervene in case artillery had been positioned or there were
7 attempts to position artillery on that elevation.
8 Q. Let me first correct the number of this document. In line 8, the
9 document number is 2D246. Now it is correct.
10 Let's look at the following document - it will be on the
11 screen - P1915, 1915. That's correct. This is an interim report by the
12 commander of the OZ, Zeljko Siljeg. You have it on the screen. Maybe we
13 can reduce the size to display the entire page. Now I'm going to draw
14 your attention to two elements in this report. Under bullet point 9, the
15 requests and reports from the Herceg Stjepan Brigade are qualified.
16 You've already spoken about that in great length. And then under 12, it
17 says that:
18 "Wire connection has been established with the command of the
19 Herceg Stjepan, and we request detailed and precise information about the
20 situation from them, and we also request a precise request for action."
21 My question to you is this: You have read the entire
22 information, because my learned friend Mr. Bos also showed it to you.
23 Would you conclude, based on this report, that the operations zone of
24 Mr. Siljeg had some independent offensive plans for action against
25 Jablanica or were they, rather, waiting for precise requests from the
1 Konjic Brigade in order to launch their actions?
2 A. Based on this report, I can see -- everybody can see that
3 Zeljko Siljeg did not have any offensive intentions. He was waiting for
4 reports from our brigade. He did not want to act pursuant to the cries
5 for help by lower-ranking officers. Mr. Zeljko Siljeg established wire
6 communication instead with our communications centre, I suppose, in order
7 to be able to tell exactly and act precisely on the most critical parts.
8 This means that no offensive activities were being prepared. Things
9 would have started moving in case the Herceg Stjepan Brigade sent precise
10 instructions for assistance.
11 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Excuse me.
12 Witness, I would like you to explain to me what, then, the
13 number 8 of this order means, where we read:
14 "Beginning of today's operation on selected targets next to the
15 village of Slatina, seven hours, and on the village of Sovici
17 I do not see that this means waiting for some request, but maybe
18 you can explain.
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I have just explained
20 things with regard to bullet point 8 in connection of Sovici and Slatina,
21 if I'm not mistaken.
22 At 7.00, Sovici, Slatina -- if you remember the order that we saw
23 here, that one company of the Neretva Brigade from Jablanica should be
24 sent to the sector that we're dealing with, which is the sector of
25 Slatina and Sovici, and I believe that even one day prior to that they
1 entered that part with their units and positioned their artillery, I
2 suppose, and deployed troops, I suppose. And most probably troops
3 noticed those movements and they requested from Mr. Siljeg to help them
4 in that part. And that's why he answers and says, We'll do it tomorrow
6 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I note that two times you say "I suppose" in
7 this answer, so you're not quite sure. It's something that you think,
8 rather than something that you know?
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It's not what I think. I said that
10 everybody knows that, and I was answering the same question coming from
11 the Presiding Judge. I was not there to be able to tell you exactly,
12 This is this. However, in view of the document that we looked at and by
13 which the commander of the Neretva Brigade from Jablanica sent his units
14 into those areas, that means that those units of the BiH Army were
15 already on the ground and actually they were carrying out tasks that they
16 had been given, which means that they were preparing themselves for
17 assault or had already launched an assault. And it is only logical that
18 our members, members of our 3rd Battalion, Mijo Tomic, who were deployed
19 in the area, requested assistance in artillery or in any other form from
20 Zeljko Siljeg, sir.
21 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Please continue, Ms. Alaburic.
22 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation]
23 Q. Witness, we have just seen a summary report for the
24 13th of April. This is P1874. In that document, there is a reference to
25 the 13th of April, and it says that from the area of the Konjic and
1 Jablanica region, requests were sent for assistance. I've found the
2 exact sentence. It says:
3 "Urgently act upon our previous requests that we sent to Prozor,"
4 in other words, to the OZ of Zeljko Siljeg.
5 Is it true, Witness, that already on the 13th of April, a request
6 was sent to Zeljko Siljeg's OZ that your brigade, or some elements
7 thereof, sent appeals and requests for assistance?
8 A. Yes, that's correct.
9 Q. Let us go back to the document that we saw by Zeljko Siljeg,
10 P1915, 1915. In item 12, Zeljko Siljeg says that he expects precise
11 requests for action. Why does he stress "precise requests"?
12 A. He wants precise requests for operation to be able to open fire
13 at military targets that threaten the units in our area.
14 Q. Witness, as a soldier, tell us, if Zeljko Siljeg had been
15 preparing for offensive actions, would you know which targets he was
16 planning to attack?
17 A. Yes, of course. If he had wanted to launch offensive actions, in
18 the plan for these actions the targets would have been identified which
19 were to be attacked or destroyed.
20 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, it seems to me that
21 my question doesn't make sense the way it was interpreted. I will
22 repeat. My question was: If Zeljko Siljeg had planned offensive
23 actions, would he, that is, Zeljko Siljeg, know which targets he wants to
24 attack? The question was interpreted as if I had asked the witness
25 whether the witness would have known, but the witness gave a correct
1 answer because he listened to me.
2 Q. Let us look at document P1911 now, please, 1911. This is the
3 report by the European Commission Monitors. You have answered many
4 questions about that. I will go into paragraph 5 of that report, and I
5 will not elicit summary assessments of what is correct and what is wrong.
6 But let us see whether there are correct elements in there, after all.
7 We will not deal with the value judgements of the monitors, because they
8 are not relevant for the proceedings.
9 It is said here that the ABiH are attempting to seize Zlatar.
10 Tell me, is this a correct statement?
11 A. Yes, it is.
12 Q. It goes on to say that the ABiH are blocking the Prozor approach
13 to Jablanica and setting up heavy granite blocks as obstacles. Do you
14 have any knowledge about blocking the approach to Jablanica?
15 A. You mean that the ABiH were blocking? I didn't understand well.
16 Q. Sub-item B reads that the ABiH are blocking the approach to
17 Jablanica from Prozor, and it goes on to say that they are positioning
18 granite blocks.
19 A. Yes, that is correct, because we know from the document issued by
20 the commander of the Neretva Brigade from Jablanica that a company was
21 sent to that area, and it was tasked to block the road from Prozor to
23 Q. In item 5(c), it says that the ABiH wants to expel all HVO units
24 from Jablanica and Konjic. As far as you know about the situation on the
25 ground, is that a correct statement or not?
1 A. Yes, it is.
2 Q. The report continues to mention the activities of the HVO.
3 Please listen carefully. It is said the HVO are attacking the Slatina
4 position with artillery. They are attacking the positions at Ostrozac.
5 They are attacking the villages of Here and Scipe. They are attacking
6 the units in the Dreznica Valley
8 If we try to link these places to the order issued by
9 Enes Kovacevic on the 14th of April, which is document 2D246, if you
10 remember, are those localities where the ABiH had its positions in order
11 to prevent the arrival of HVO units to help the Konjic HVO?
12 A. Yes, these are the very positions.
13 Q. All right. Witness, I'm going to ask you a few short questions
14 now about UN documents and a testimony in the Blaskic case.
15 The report of the Secretary-General of the UN, document P1391.
16 You just listen. 1391, dated February 2, 1993. In item 1, it says,
17 paragraph 1, the participants included the leaders from the three sides
18 in Bosnia-Herzegovina, including President Alija Izetbegovic,
19 Radovan Karadzic, and Mate Boban. In item 8, these three persons are
20 mentioned again, and it is stated that Mate Boban -- we're talking about
21 the Vance-Owen Plan. Mate Boban had signed the agreement setting out the
22 constitutional principles, the provincial map, and the agreement on
23 military issues; furthermore, that President Izetbegovic had accepted the
24 constitutional principles and the military agreement, but did not accept
25 the map. Mr. Karadzic had not yet answered. Paragraph 9 again mentions
1 three sides in Bosnia
2 According to your information, Witness, were there three
3 parties -- conflicted parties, in Bosnia and Herzegovina at the time;
4 namely, the Muslim side, the Serbian side, and the Croatian side?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. According to your knowledge, was Radovan Karadzic the leader of
7 the Serb side?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. According to your knowledge, was Mate Boban the leader of the
10 Croatian side?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. According to your knowledge, was Alija Izetbegovic the leader of
13 the Muslim side?
14 A. Yes.
15 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Ms. Alaburic, I cannot help wondering about
16 these questions. These are facts that are before us since three and a
17 half years. Why do we need a witness to confirm again? I think it's a
18 sheer loss of time. I'm sorry.
19 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I disagree, because
20 in this courtroom Alija Izetbegovic is constantly called the president of
21 a country supposed to -- that fought in the interests of all citizens of
22 Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the ABiH is consequently being presented as the
23 only legitimate military force in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
24 JUDGE TRECHSEL: We have heard a lot of argument to the contrary
1 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] But, Your Honour, let me just say
2 that every now and then a question is asked whether or not the HVO was
3 legal, or whether it was a paramilitary formation, or I don't know what
4 kind of military force, and I believe that this must be clarified, and it
5 will also be significant later.
6 I just have one question left for the witness.
7 Q. Witness, having defined the three sides this way, can you tell us
8 who, in your opinion, took care, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, simultaneously of
9 all three peoples and every citizen of Bosnia-Herzegovina?
10 A. At that time, there was no such person or body. Everybody took
11 care of their own people.
12 Q. I will now remind you of a document the Prosecutor showed you,
13 and that is P11086, 11086. It's a report by Zarko Keza, dated
14 December 7, 1992
15 Croats would get only 25 per cent of managerial positions in the army.
16 At that moment in late 1992, that was roughly the share of Croatian
17 population in the overall population of Konjic?
18 A. Yes. According to the 1990 census, Konjic -- in Konjic, there
19 were 26 -- or, rather, precisely 27 per cent of Croatian population.
20 Q. Tell me, Witness, as a Croat at Konjic at the time, were you or
21 any of your friends afraid of the situation that you Croats would have
22 such a share in the authorities as the Muslims were inclined to cede you?
23 A. Yes, we were afraid, because if the Croats accounted for
24 27 per cent of the population, and if we say that in 1992 the Serbian
25 people left the municipality of Konjic
1 to the census, was being reduced, so that we were no longer 27 per cent;
2 we accounted for a larger share because the Serbs were no longer there.
3 Q. Can you provide me a brief answer to the question whether you
4 Croats were afraid that you would have only those rights that the
5 Muslims, who were the majority population, were willing to give you?
6 A. Yes, certainly we were.
7 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, this concludes my
8 redirect. Thank you.
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, on behalf of the
10 Trial Chamber I want to thank you for testifying as a Petkovic Defence
11 witness. I wish you all the best for your return back home, and I'm
12 going to ask the usher to kindly escort you out of the courtroom. It may
13 be the last thing he's going to do in this courtroom.
14 Ms. Alaburic, with regard to next week, you're going to meet up
15 with the witness, you're going to proof him, and he should be
16 availability for the Trial Chamber on Monday afternoon?
17 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, next week we are
18 moving north to Central Bosnia, and we will also deal with some other
19 issues. Thank you.
20 [The witness withdrew]
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well.
22 So failing other questions by the parties, I want to thank
23 everybody. We shall reconvene on Monday, but do prepare for the next
24 testimony. I wish you a very good weekend.
--- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 11.35 a.m.
1 to be reconvened on Monday, the 30th day of
2 November, 2009, at 2.15 p.m.