1 Thursday, 25 March 2010
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The Accused Praljak and Pusic not present]
5 [The witness entered court]
6 --- Upon commencing at 9.00 a.m.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Registrar, can you call the
8 case, please.
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
12 Prlic et al. Thank you, Your Honours.
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Registrar.
14 Today is Thursday, 25th of March, 2010. I would like, first of
15 all, to greet the witness who is about to take the solemn declaration, I
16 would like to greet the accused, the Defence counsel, all the members of
17 the OTP, and all the people assisting us in this courtroom.
18 I will first give the floor to the Registrar, who has two
19 IC number to give to us.
20 THE REGISTRAR: Thank you, Your Honour.
21 2D has submitted its response to the Prosecution's objections to
22 its documents tendered through Witness Milivoj Petkovic. This list shall
23 be given Exhibit IC01225.
24 They have also submitted their objection to the Prosecution's
25 list of documents tendered through Witness NO. This list shall be given
1 Exhibit IC01226. Thank you, Your Honours.
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Registrar.
3 Witness, I would like you to stand, please.
4 Can you give me your first name, last name, and date of birth,
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] My name is Pero Nikolic. I was
7 born on the 1st of November, 1944, in Mostar.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] What is your current
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I'm a pensioner.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Before you read the solemn
12 declaration, may I ask you whether you have testified before a court of
13 law before or is this the first time today?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This is the first time,
15 Your Honour.
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Please read the solemn
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will
19 speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
20 WITNESS: PERO NIKOLIC
21 [Witness answered through interpreter]
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, sir. You may sit
24 You are a Defence witness of Mr. Coric. The Defence lawyer, whom
25 you've met, I'm sure, has explained to you how things unfold here. She
1 will put questions to you and she will show you a few documents. After
2 that, the Defence counsel of the other accused may put questions to you
3 as part of the time they have been allocated, and then the Prosecutor
4 will have one hour to put questions to you as part of his
5 cross-examination. And if necessary, the Judges on the Bench may also
6 put questions to you.
7 As far as possible, try and be accurate and succinct in the way
8 you answer your questions. If there's a question you don't understand,
9 please don't hesitate to ask for the question to be rephrased.
10 I hope I have been clear enough. And without any more adieu, I
11 shall give the floor to Ms. Tomasegovic Tomic, whom I greet once again.
12 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation] Good morning, Your
13 Honours, and everybody else in the courtroom.
14 Examination by Ms. Tomasegovic Tomic:
15 Q. [Interpretation] Good morning to you too, sir. You'll be handed
16 the documents in just a moment.
17 You have pink stickers with the numbers of the documents, so
18 please turn to document number 1, please, which is 5D05111.
19 Tell me, Witness, is that your statement? You can look through
20 it. You don't have to read through the whole of it. Just glance at it.
21 You looked at it during the proofing session, so just have a look and
22 tell me if your signature is on every page and if it is your statement.
23 A. Yes, this is my statement and it is my signature.
24 Q. Very well. Now, tell me, have you had an opportunity to read
25 through your statement?
1 A. Yes, I have.
2 Q. Is there anything in that statement that you'd like to change now
3 or add to?
4 A. No.
5 Q. Do you stand by everything you said in the statement?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. If you were to be asked about the facts that you deal with in
8 your statement, would your testimony be the same as it is in your
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. I'm going to ask you a few questions following your statement, so
12 listen to me carefully, please. And before you give your answer, make a
13 pause between my question and your answer so that we can allow the
14 interpreters to interpret what we're saying.
15 Mr. Nikolic, in your statement it says that on the 1st of May,
16 1992, you were appointed warden of the prison in Mostar, district prison
17 in Mostar. Tell me, who appointed you to this position first?
18 A. I was appointed by the Municipal Staff of the city of Mostar
19 Q. Thank you. Was that a civilian or a military prison?
20 A. It was a civilian prison.
21 Q. And what street was the prison in?
22 A. It was in Aleksa Santic Street, and that street was known as
23 Ricina Street
24 Q. Tell us what the capacity of the prison was. How many prisoners
25 or inmates could it hold?
1 A. The capacity of the prison was around 200 inmates.
2 Q. Thank you. Now, during 1992, while you were in prison, what
3 category of inmates were there in the prison?
4 A. The category of persons coming to the prison was: civilians,
5 military who had committed a criminal offence, and there were a few
6 prisoners of war who were Serbs, but there was a small number of those.
7 Q. Very well. Now, these POWs that you said were Serbs, I assume
8 that they were soldiers belonging to the Army of Republika Srpska; is
9 that right?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Now, tell us what the situation was like in the prison in the
12 summer of 1992. What were the conditions? How many people were there
13 and so on?
14 A. The conditions in the prison, in part, was good, for a time it
15 was good, everything was in order, until people kept coming in on a daily
16 basis, and more than more people came to the prison, so it was
17 overcrowded. And then the conditions changed.
18 Q. And when it became overcrowded, did you undertake anything?
19 A. I informed the Municipal Staff. They had a commission, and the
20 commission called me up. Three Bosniaks and three Croats were the
21 commission members. I told them that the prison was overcrowded, and
22 that something should be done about it, and that the military -- that the
23 military and civilian part should be separated.
24 Q. And did the commission take any steps?
25 A. The commission informed me subsequently that they had discussed
1 the matter with the commander of the Heliodrom and that I was to report
2 to him to see how things should be done.
3 Q. When you say the warden or the commander of Heliodrom, you mean
4 the commander of the barracks of Heliodrom; right?
5 A. Yes, he was the commander of the Krusevac Battalion --
6 Mile Krusevac Battalion. Or, rather, his name was Milo Pusic.
7 Q. Did you contact this man, Milo Pusic?
8 A. I contacted the person from the Main Staff, with Milo Pusic, and
9 asked him to provide the necessary conditions for me to be able to put up
10 the military detainees who had committed a criminal offence. So I went
11 to see him, and he gave me one larger building and two smaller buildings.
12 He placed them at my disposal.
13 Q. Were those ready to take in the inmates?
14 A. No, they hadn't been accommodated for that because they didn't
15 have any bars for them to be kept inside. They belonged to the former
16 Yugoslav People's Army.
17 Q. Tell us, did you or somebody else organise any construction work
18 in those buildings then?
19 A. When I returned to Mostar, I contacted the company Sokol Mostar,
20 which was a construction company, and I asked them to manufacture those
21 bars so that the detainees could be placed in the prison, and it was a
22 metal constructing company.
23 Q. Were you in charge of the construction work at Heliodrom?
24 A. I didn't have time to go to Heliodrom or to follow the work, but
25 I appointed Mr. Josip Praljak as my deputy in the prison because he is a
1 construction technician, so I asked him to supervise the work done by the
2 Sokol Mostar company.
3 Q. Now, except for you and Mr. Josip Praljak, was anybody else in
4 any way involved in the organisation of the construction work and
5 supervision work?
6 A. No.
7 Q. Tell me, please, if you remember, when did the work end? When
8 was everything completed?
9 A. I can't remember exactly what the date was, but sometime in
10 August, I believe.
11 Q. What year?
12 A. 1992. I know that it was -- there was a heat wave, it was very
14 Q. And after the construction work was completed, did Heliodrom
15 start working as a prison?
16 A. Sometime in the autumn, the detainees -- military detainees were
17 not coming in to Santic Street anymore, if there were any. I don't know
18 exactly. I didn't go there anymore.
19 Q. Now, what happened to those who were with you, the military
20 detainees and prisoners of war? Were they transferred to Heliodrom?
21 A. Not all of them, no. There was the third floor for military
22 detainees. They were independent -- alone there, without civilians. It
23 was just them.
24 Q. And the majority were transferred; is that right?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Do you happen to know the military prison system and
2 organisation? Do you know which military prisons existed and how they
4 A. To be quite honest, no, I don't, because I'm a construction
5 worker, I never worked in a military prison, so I really couldn't tell
6 you what the structure and organisation of a military prison was like.
7 Q. Tell me, when Heliodrom started working, do you know who the
8 prison warden of the Heliodrom was?
9 A. As far as I remember, it was Mile Pusic.
10 Q. And do you know who appointed him warden?
11 A. I don't know.
12 Q. Tell me, please, you were in the civilian prison for the whole of
13 1993, were you, in Santic Street?
14 A. No, I had a break. I wasn't there for 20 days, a period of 20
15 days, at one point.
16 Q. Very well. Now, let's go back. You said that after they were
17 transferred, there were POWs and military detainees still at Heliodrom.
18 And as far as I understood it, in your prison there were civilians who
19 had committed criminal offences, and on the third floor had you some of
20 these military detainees?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Now, tell me whether in any part of 1993 the rest of these
23 military detainees were transferred to Heliodrom -- or from Heliodrom.
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Do you remember when?
1 A. I can't remember the date, because it's been 18 years since then.
2 Q. Do you remember what the situation was like in Mostar after the
3 9th of May, after what happened on the 9th of May and what the situation
4 was like?
5 A. There was shooting in Mostar, uncontrolled hoards, I would say,
6 of people. There was no electricity -- there was no electricity in town.
7 People were afraid to walk around at night in the dark.
8 Q. All right, fine. Now, on the 9th of May, did a conflict and
9 clash occur between the BH Army and the HVO?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. After that clash, did those military detainees remain in your
13 A. Yes, they did.
14 Q. Until when? Were they transferred quickly after the conflict
15 began or what?
16 A. Well, I can't really remember now.
17 Q. Very well, thank you. Now, tell us, the civilians, were they
18 transferred to Heliodrom?
19 A. They were transferred to Heliodrom together with the military
20 detainees, because they were afraid of the shooting. They were under a
21 mental shock. They were crying, they said they hadn't come there to be
22 killed, to die, and about 10 of them went to Heliodrom.
23 Q. If I understood you correctly, a part of those civilians left in
24 the first group, but did these military detainees leave with them?
25 A. The military detainees went with the army and the military
1 policemen, and the military -- and the civilian detainees were
2 transferred in vans with ordinary policemen.
3 Q. Did they go all together?
4 A. In a column one after another, but on the same day.
5 Q. Right. Now, when this one group of civilians left -- you said
6 that the civilian detainees left, a group who was afraid, and these
7 military detainees left too. After that, did you have any more civilian
8 detainees there?
9 A. Yes, but a small number.
10 Q. All right, fine. Now take a look at the last document that you
11 have. It's P02925.
12 Have you found it? It's the last document, and I'd like you to
13 look at the penultimate page.
14 Have you ever seen this document before? I showed it to you
15 during the proofing session, but did you see it before that?
16 A. No, never until last night.
17 Q. Now, in this document, it says it's an order dated the 24th of
18 June, which says that because of a war situation, prisoners shall be
19 transferred to Heliodrom. And this was in June, the 24th of June. And a
20 person named Zdenko Gavran is mentioned. Do you remember, were these
21 people transferred, and do you remember somebody called Zdenko Gavran?
22 A. I do remember Zdenko Gavran, yes. I remember that particular
23 moment. It was in the afternoon, when the 2nd Battalion, headed by
24 Mr. Zdenko Gavran --
25 Q. All right, fine. Just tell me whether -- the remainder of your
1 civilian detainees, were they transferred?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Tell me, please, after they were transferred, and at that moment
4 you didn't have any detainees, was your prison still operational, was it
5 still working?
6 A. No.
7 Q. For how long did it not work?
8 A. For some 10 or 20 days, not longer than that.
9 Q. And after the 10 or 20 days, did you return?
10 A. Yes, I returned because I was forbidden to enter the prison, but
11 then I returned. The judiciary gave me a decision, ordering me to
13 Q. And after that, the prison started functioning again?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Very well. And now I'm just going to ask you briefly: Do you
16 know Mr. Josip Praljak?
17 A. Of course I do, of course.
18 Q. For how long have you known him, since when?
19 A. I first met him in 1972. He was my colleague. At that time, I
20 was the chief of the prison in Mostar. I was given a residence from my
21 former company, and then I recommended him to replace me.
22 Q. What is your relationship with him?
23 A. My relationship with him is good. I was -- I even godfathered
24 his children, and about a month ago I attended his son's wedding.
25 Q. Do you know Mr. Valentin Coric? Do you know who he is?
1 A. Valentin Coric was a karate champion of Yugoslavia. I may be
2 mistaken. He is a great athlete, and I know that he was the chief of the
3 military police. That's as much as I know.
4 Q. Did you ever meet Mr. Coric? Did you socialise with him?
5 A. No. He was not my superior, so there was no need for me to meet
6 with him.
7 Q. And did you ever meet not just as your superior, but in any other
9 A. No.
10 Q. Did you ever attend a meeting which was attended also by
11 Mr. Coric?
12 A. No.
13 Q. Could you please look at the second document in the binder. I
14 showed you the document during the proofing session. P00352 is the
15 number of the document. Look at page 12 in that document. And in the
16 English version, it is page 11.
17 A. I beg your pardon. What number?
18 Q. Page 12. There are numbers, "0354-0181," in the upper right-hand
19 corner. Were you able to find it, sir?
20 A. 3545081 [as interpreted]?
21 Q. Yes. I showed you this document during the proofing session.
22 This is Mr. Josip Praljak's diary or an excerpt from him diary. Did you
23 know that Mr. Josip Praljak wrote a diary?
24 A. No, I didn't.
25 Q. Please look at the page in front of you, and on the upper
1 right-hand side corner, it says "A meeting with warden." The date is
2 17 August 1992
3 "Warden informed me he had announced a meeting with
4 Valentin Coric in Ljubuski."
5 And now turn to the following page, please, the annotation for
6 the 8th of September, 1992.
7 MR. KRUGER: Your Honour, I apologise to my learned colleague to
8 interrupt. Perhaps just to assist her, I think that the entry she was
9 looking at was not the 17th of August, but I think to the right of that
10 entry the date says the 7th of September, if I'm not mistaken.
11 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation] I thank my learned
12 friend. It is my mistake. The contents are not in dispute. Thank you
13 very much.
14 Q. Turn to the following page. The entry is for the 8th of
15 September, 1992, and it says here --
16 A. I apologise. I can't find the date. What date was that?
17 Q. 8th of September, the following page, the one after the one that
18 you have just looked at.
19 A. The 7th?
20 Q. No, the 8th of September, 1992.
21 A. Go ahead.
22 Q. It says here "Meeting in Ljubuski with Chief Valentin Coric."
23 And it says here that in addition to Mr. Coric, the meeting was attended
24 by yourself and Mr. Josip Praljak. Did you ever attend that meeting?
25 Were you aware of that meeting at all?
1 A. No.
2 Q. Did Mr. Josip Praljak ever tell you that he had attended a
3 meeting with Mr. Coric?
4 A. No.
5 Q. Did Mr. Josip Praljak ever mention Mr. Coric?
6 A. No.
7 Q. How often did you meet with Mr. Praljak in 1992 and 1993? We
8 hear that you still maintained very good relations. How often do you see
10 A. Recently, I don't see him -- I have not seen him that often. But
11 earlier on, he did come to the prison. But now we don't see each other
12 that often. I have my job, he has his own. Perhaps he's even retired.
13 I didn't ask him.
14 Q. In 1992 and 1993, did you visit each other in your homes?
15 A. No, we did not visit each other in our houses because there were
16 no houses, there was no room to entertain anybody.
17 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Excuse me, Ms. Tomasegovic Tomic. I just want
18 to avoid any misunderstanding.
19 Witness, you have first told us that you were a pensioner, when
20 asked about your occupation. Just now, you have said "he had his job and
21 I had my job." Could you explain why you are a pensioner, but also you
22 have a job, and what is the job?
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] In 1994, Your Honours, I opened my
24 own business, a shop. The name of the shop is "Nik," and it consists of
25 a shop and building operations. And before -- until two years ago, I was
1 in charge of one part of that job, and then I handed it over to my wife.
2 And then after 40-odd years, the time has come for me to retire, and then
3 I retired two years ago, after having run that shop and that construction
5 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
6 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation]
7 Q. In paragraph 13 of your statement - you can look at it,
8 please - you said that you can safely assert that Mr. Valentin -- or,
9 rather, that Mr. Praljak never mentioned to you that Mr. Valentin Coric
10 had any role in appointing him or anybody else at Heliodrom. Tell me,
11 please, during that period of time in 1992 and 1993, did Mr. Praljak talk
12 to you about appointments at Heliodrom?
13 A. Yes, he did talk to me about that. He wanted to be warden
14 himself because he thought that he had the knowledge and ability, and I
15 never heard him mention Mr. Valentin Coric. And he asked me who he
16 should turn to in order to land that appointment, and then I sent him to
17 the Crisis Staff of the city of Mostar
18 men himself. He could write to them, he could talk to them in person,
19 and he could ask them. He could inquire about the job.
20 Q. Did he do that?
21 A. I don't know. I did not have any feedback from him.
22 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. Nikolic.
23 I have no further questions for you.
24 Thank you very much, Your Honours.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well, thank you.
1 For Mr. Pusic's Defence, any questions?
2 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] No, thank you, Your Honour.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. 1D.
4 MR. KARNAVAS: Good morning, Your Honours. Good morning to
5 everyone in and around the courtroom, and good morning, sir.
6 We have no questions for the gentleman, but we do wish to thank
7 him for coming here to give his evidence. Thank you very much, sir.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you.
9 Ms. Nozica.
10 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Good morning, Your Honours. Good
11 morning to everybody in the courtroom.
12 The Stojic Defence does not have any questions for this witness.
13 Thank you very much.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] 3D.
15 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Good morning, Your Honours. Good
16 morning to everybody in the courtroom.
17 3D does not have any questions for this witness either.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] And to finish, 4D.
19 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, good morning to you
20 and to everybody in the courtroom.
21 Mr. Nikolic, good morning.
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good morning.
23 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] On behalf of the Petkovic Defence,
24 I'm going to have a few questions for you. I wish to have clarification
25 of some parts of your statement. Please listen to me carefully, and if
1 you don't understand something in my question, please tell me that you
3 Just a moment. Let me get things organised here.
4 Cross-examination by Ms. Alaburic:
5 Q. [Interpretation] In paragraph 7 of your statement, Mr. Nikolic,
6 which you confirmed earlier today while talking to Ms. Tomasegovic, you
7 said that Mile Pusic, who was the commander of the Krusevo Battalion and
8 also the commander of the Heliodrom Barracks, gave the Municipal Staff
9 permission to use one bigger building and two smaller buildings in the
10 Heliodrom and turn them into a military prison; is that your statement?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Mr. Nikolic, tell us, please, if you know, who was the owner of
13 all the buildings at Heliodrom?
14 A. Before the war, it was the JNA, and it used to be a military
16 Q. And when the war started in the area of Mostar and in
17 Bosnia-Herzegovina, who was the owner then?
18 A. The HVO conquered it, together with all the other buildings, and
19 the 7th Krusevac Battalion was billeted there. And as for the owner, I
20 really don't know. I don't know what is written in the paperwork.
21 Q. P424 is the next document I would like you to look at.
22 A. P424?
23 Q. Yes, P424. This is a decree on the take-over of equipment from
24 the JNA and the Federal Secretariat for National Defence in the territory
25 of Herceg-Bosna, and the reassignment of property to Herceg-Bosna.
1 Article 1 says that:
2 "The socially-owned resources on the territory of the HZ-HB,
3 which is property of the Federation, is managed and used by the
4 Yugoslav People's Army and the Federal Secretariat for National Defence
5 shall become the property of the HZ-HB."
6 A special reference is made to real estate, including buildings
7 at Heliodrom.
8 In Article 5 of this decree, it is stated:
9 "The head of the Defence Department is hereby authorised to
10 appoint the management bodies of institutions after first obtaining the
11 opinion of the ministry under whose jurisdiction the activity of the
12 institution falls. He shall also appoint and dismiss the management.
13 The supervision of the professional work and the legality of the work of
14 the institution stipulated in Article 3 of this decree shall be carried
15 out by the ministries under whose jurisdiction the activities of the
16 institutions fall."
17 Witness, do you know that everything that was property of the JNA
18 and the Federal Secretariat of National Defence in mid-1992 were
19 proclaimed property of Herceg-Bosna?
20 A. No, I didn't know that.
21 Q. Let's look at the following document, which is P452. This is a
22 decision of the head of the Defence Department, dated 3rd September 1992
23 and he refers to the decree on treating persons captured in armed
24 conflicts in HZ-HB. He issues the decision on the establishment of the
25 Central Military Prison at Heliodrom, and under number 2 he appoints
1 Mile Pusic warden of the Central Military Prison.
2 Mr. Nikolic, is that the same Mile Pusic that you were talking
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. In the statements of reason accompanying this decision, it is
6 stated that the decision was issued upon the proposal of the head of the
7 Department of Justice and Administration and in connection with a real
8 need to separate the military prison in Mostar after it has been
9 established that the premises, pursuant to Article 1, meet all the
10 requirements. Tell me, please, was the reason to establish the Central
11 Military Prison in Heliodrom exactly as it is stated here in the
12 statements of reason of this decision?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Witness, did you have any information about who actually issued
15 the decision about the establishment of the prison, who it was who
16 decided to establish that prison at Heliodrom?
17 A. No, no, I didn't know who decided that.
18 Q. Witness, in paragraph 8 of your statement you say that the
19 Heliodrom Prison was to be used only for prisoners who breached the law,
20 and, therefore, I'm going to ask you to look at P956, page 12, which is
21 14 in the English version of the document.
22 Mr. Nikolic, have you got it?
23 A. No, no.
24 Q. We have plenty of time.
25 A. You said page 14?
1 Q. No, 12 in Croatian, 14 in English.
2 A. Very well.
3 Q. And you see a table here, and underneath it says:
4 "In accordance with the Decree on the Treatment of Persons
5 Imprisoned in Armed Conflicts, the head of the Defence Department
6 approved the request of the Military Police Administration and, on the
7 3rd of September, 1992, issued a decision establishing the Central
8 Military Prison in Mostar."
9 My question to you, Mr. Nikolic, is this: Did you know that the
10 Military Police Administration submitted a request to the head of the
11 Defence Department for the establishment of a prison at Heliodrom?
12 A. No, I didn't know that.
13 Q. It goes on to say that Mile Pusic was appointed commander. Now
14 I'm interested in the following sentence:
15 "In the Central Military Prison, all war detainees and prisoners
16 are being sent -- all prisoners of war and detainees are sent to the CVZ,
17 while prisoners who have committed misdemeanors or less serious criminal
18 offences as well as detainees who have been given detention by the
19 commanding authority are kept in military police company bases in
20 military detention facilities during investigation."
21 My question to you is this: From this military police report, it
22 would follow that the Central Military Prison at Heliodrom was
23 established in order to take in prisoners of war. Tell us, please, was
24 Heliodrom for prisoners of war or not?
25 A. No.
1 Q. Very well, thank you. Now, tell me, Mr. Nikolic, since you have
2 had experience in the civilian prison system, if, in a barracks, you
3 organise a military prison in which you -- which is designed to take in
4 prisoners of war, that is to say, people belonging to an enemy army, do
5 you have to take more stringent measures to keep the prisoners secure and
6 keep them in an isolated place?
7 A. I can't answer that question because I'm not a military expert.
8 But if they were in a civilian prison, I would step up the guarding
9 system and security system.
10 Q. Very well. Now, Mr. Nikolic, Ms. Tomasegovic showed you
11 Milivoj Petkovic's order of the 24th of June about relocating the prison,
12 because it was up at the front-line to begin with, so now let's look at
13 the document again. It is P2925, and you have it in my binder as well.
14 P2925 is the document number. And take a look in the "delivered to"
15 sector. It was delivered to the Justice Department and the Department of
16 the Interior.
17 Tell us, please, Mr. Nikolic, in keeping with your knowledge of
18 the way in which written communication was done in Herceg-Bosna, would it
19 be logical to say that the Chief of the Main Staff sent this piece of
20 information to these two departments because those two departments
21 demanded the relocation of the prison from the front-line for security
23 A. Madam Counsel, this is how it should have been done, but I should
24 have been sent this document as well, as the protagonist for civilians.
25 Q. Very well. Now, Mr. Nikolic, I'm going to show you the testimony
1 of Witness Zoran Buntic, and I'm going to refer to pages, for the record,
2 30617 and 30618. And I'm going to ask you, Mr. Nikolic, to listen to me
3 and then tell me whether what I have read out is correct or not. And I'm
4 going to quote the cross-examination conducted by Ms. Nozica, my
6 Zoran Buntic gave an answer, saying that the prisoners from the
7 civilian prison were transferred to Heliodrom in May 1993, after the
8 conflict broke out between the Bosniaks and Croats in Mostar, and that
9 that could have been between the 10th and 15th of the month. And then he
10 said that in the Central Military Prison at Heliodrom, there existed a
11 section which was a civilian prison and that that section was under the
12 supervision of the warden of the civilian prison, and that he thinks that
13 that person was Mr. Pero Nikolic.
14 Now, when asked another question, whether he meant Pero Nikolic
15 as the warden of this separate section in Heliodrom where the civilian
16 inmates were put up, Zoran Buntic said:
17 "Yes, I think that is right."
18 Then he went on to say that those civilians were under the
19 jurisdiction of the civilian legislative bodies.
20 Now, tell me, Mr. Nikolic, this testimony by Mr. Zoran Buntic, is
21 it correct, in your opinion, or not?
22 A. No.
23 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
24 That completes my cross-examination, Your Honours. Thank you.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well.
1 Mr. Kruger. Mr. Kruger, you have one hour.
2 MR. KRUGER: Thank you, Your Honour.
3 Good morning, Your Honour, Your Honours, everyone in and around
4 the courtroom. If I may just have a lectern, please. And I do have a
5 packet of exhibit. Thank you, Mr. Usher.
6 Cross-examination by Mr. Kruger:
7 Q. Good morning, Mr. Nikolic.
8 A. Good morning, Mr. Prosecutor.
9 Q. Sir, from your statement, the very last paragraph, paragraph 14,
10 and from what you've said today, it would appear that you have known
11 Mr. Josip Praljak for nearly 40 years now and you're on good terms with
12 him; is that correct?
13 A. Yes, that is correct.
14 Q. And in all those years you've known him, you find him -- you
15 trust him as a friend?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. He's a reliable person and a loyal person to you?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Have you always found him to be honest?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. And, sir, you've also worked with him. I mean, you assigned him
22 the task of supervising, for instance, the building of the prison in part
23 of Heliodrom. Did you find him to be meticulous and precise in how he
24 always performed his work?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Thank you. Now, sir, you've said today that it's been 18 years
2 since these events occurred that you're testifying about, and a number of
3 times you said you can't remember, and sometimes you're not sure, and
4 that's because you're just relying on your memory today and your memory
5 isn't perfect, after 18 years, on exactly what happened 18 years ago; is
6 that correct?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. If you had written things down as they happened 18 years ago, do
9 you think you would be more -- be able to provide more precise
10 information to the Court today or you would have been able to provide
11 more precise information to the Court today?
12 A. Yes, I would, wherein it comes to dates.
13 Q. Now, sir, your friend, Mr. Praljak, he did precisely that. Do
14 you think it's possible that his record that he provided in his diary may
15 actually be more accurate than your memory is today?
16 A. I don't want to enter into that.
17 Q. Okay. Let's have a look at this, and then we'll come back to it
19 Now, sir, in your statement, paragraph 12, you say:
20 "I know for certain Mr. Josip Praljak was never a military
21 policeman, and never in my life did I see him in a military police
22 uniform or wearing a military police badge."
23 Now, sir, let's see what Mr. Praljak actually testified on this.
24 And for the transcript, I'm referring to his testimony on
25 26 February 2007
1 this was his evidence-in-chief. He said -- the question was by the
3 "As we move into 1993, and after Mr. Bozic returned, as we saw in
4 the last document, at approximately the end of March, so we're focusing
5 on that period forward, please, is it correct that under -- or at that
6 time you," and this is now Mr. Praljak being referred to, "Mr. Bozic and
7 Mr. Smiljanic were all HVO military police or did you consider yourself
8 to be HVO police?"
9 And Mr. Praljak answered: "Yes."
10 And then he was asked again, a few pages further -- on the next
11 page, transcript reference 14662 from line 18, the answer was:
12 "In June, the 5th Battalion --" this is now Mr. Praljak speaking.
13 He says:
14 "In June, the 5th Battalion of the Military Police was
15 established with Ivan Antic as commander. At that time, this prison
16 where I, Bozic, Smiljanic, and the guard service worked became attached
17 to one of the companies of that battalion as a security platoon. The
18 commander of the company was Mr. Luka Sunjic."
19 And then he was asked:
20 "All right. Several questions about this. During this time and
21 again following up on the questions asked by Judges earlier, did you,
22 through Mr. Bozic, yourself --" "though," it says, "Mr. Bozic, yourself,
23 Mr. Smiljanic, all continue to be members of the military police, and
24 were you paid your salary from the military police throughout the war?"
25 And again Mr. Praljak answered: "Yes."
1 And then Mr. Praljak was cross-examined by counsel for Mr. Coric,
2 and this was on the 1st of March, 2007. And the transcript reference,
3 Your Honours, is transcript page 14936 from line 22. The question was:
4 "Generally speaking, do you know whether military police was also
5 engaged in combat on the front-line? I'm not speaking only about your
6 experience in prison. You were a military policeman. Maybe you should
8 And Mr. Praljak's answer to this was:
9 "I don't know that because I never moved anywhere from
11 So now, sir, here's my question: From this, it seems that
12 Mr. Praljak twice, to direct questions by the Prosecution, confirmed he
13 was a member of the military police, and then the counsel for Mr. Coric
14 actually also said, You were a military policeman, and he didn't deny it.
15 So, sir, is it possible that Mr. Praljak is actually correct, in that he
16 says he was a military policeman in 1993 or a member of the military
18 A. I claim today that I didn't see him wearing a military police
19 uniform when he came to see me in the prison. Now, whether he was or was
20 not, he is best placed to know.
21 Q. On the uniform -- let's have a look at that, and let's look at
22 Mr. Praljak's answer to questions by the Judges. And this is on the 27th
23 of February, 2007, transcript reference page 14732 from line 8. And
24 Judge Mindua, he asked:
25 "A short question, Witness. A moment ago, you said that
1 Mr. Berislav Pusic was a member of the military police until July, when
2 he became head of the Exchange Office. Now, what do you mean when you
3 say 'member of the military police'? Was he a soldier in a uniform with
4 a rank or not?"
5 And then Mr. Praljak said:
6 "While Berislav Pusic was a member of the military police, he
7 wore a uniform, just like I did."
8 I'll skip a line.
9 And then Judge Antonetti asked:
10 "You said he wore the same uniform as you. And what uniform was
12 "The Witness: It was a camouflage uniform of the military
13 police, just like the other soldiers."
14 Now, sir, if you say you never saw Mr. Praljak in a uniform, what
15 you're saying by that is: You're not saying he never wore a military
16 police uniform. According to his own evidence, he did. Would you agree
17 with that?
18 A. I would agree with that, yes.
19 Q. So far as your statement would suggest that Mr. Praljak was not a
20 military policeman and did not wear a military police uniform, it's not
21 correct; is that correct?
22 A. Mr. Prosecutor, I don't know for how long he wore a military
23 police uniform and how long he was a military policeman for, but I know
24 he was an administrator down there and that he was a candidate for the
25 post of warden at Heliodrom.
1 Q. Now, sir, let's actually turn back, then, to this meeting of the
2 8th of September, 1992. And this is the meeting which Mr. Praljak,
3 Mr. Josip Praljak, writes about in his diary, and which he says took
4 place between you and Mr. Coric and him in Ljubuski on the 8th of
5 September, 1992.
6 Now, sir, you've said that your memory is not perfect, but
7 Mr. Praljak wrote down the things as they happened. Do you think it's
8 likely that Mr. Praljak is actually correct when he says this meeting
9 took place and that your memory simply failed you on this point?
10 A. Whether Josip Praljak went to see Mr. Valentin, I don't know
11 that, I can't confirm that. But what I'm saying is that I wasn't.
12 Q. Now, sir, let's go back to this document. And for this, if you
13 open your binder, in the very first document it's Exhibit P00352. Now,
14 this is the diary of Mr. Josip Praljak, and I've only extracted the three
15 pages that I'm going to refer to. The full diary is in Ms. Tomasegovic's
17 If we look at the first page of this diary, and it's actually
18 page 11 of the original, and this is once again that entry on the 7th of
19 September, 1992. And you have it before you. And on the right of your
20 page, sir, it's -- you're on the right page, sir. On the right, it says
21 he is recording Mr. Praljak on the 7th of September: "Meeting with
22 warden." Now, sir, if he says "Meeting with warden," do you agree he's
23 referring to you as the warden of the Central Remand Prison or the Mostar
24 Central Prison?
25 A. I think so, yes.
1 THE INTERPRETER: Could the witness repeat his answer?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] He would refer to me as warden.
3 MR. KRUGER: Okay.
4 Q. And is it correct -- he testified, actually, when he was here
5 that you and he would meet just about every day, and this was about the
6 refurbishment of Heliodrom. Would you agree with that, in the mornings
7 you met?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Now, here he says:
10 "The warden informed me he had announced a meeting with
11 Valentin Coric in Ljubuski."
12 So, sir, you simply don't remember that this occurred, that you
13 had set up a meeting with Mr. Valentin Coric?
14 A. No.
15 Q. Mr. Praljak, he would have no reason to fabricate this piece of
16 evidence in his diary 18 years ago?
17 A. I can't really answer that.
18 Q. Let's turn to the next page of the diary, page 12. This is
19 the -- you're at the right page, sir.
20 A. Yes, right.
21 Q. This is the 8th of September, and Mr. Praljak records:
22 "Meeting in Ljubuski with Chief Valentin Coric."
23 He says:
24 "In addition to the chief, the following were present:
25 "Warden Pero Nikolic and Josip Praljak."
1 And then he says:
2 "At the start, the warden introduced me by name. Then he
3 informed the chief that works are about to be finished and that moving in
4 or transfer of military prisoners from the prison to Mostar can
5 start ..."
6 And then it goes on. The next bullet:
7 "The chief informed us of the importance of military police and
8 how it should be organised. He said that the prison at Heliodrom is the
9 central military prison for Herceg-Bosna. As for prison warden, the most
10 responsible man, who will be my very confidential person, I spoke to him
11 and he agreed. He is Mile Pusic."
12 And then at the bottom of that bullet point, it says:
13 "You, Pero, designate guards, shift commanders, to get work
14 going, and I will later appoint security commander. In 10 to 15 days, I
15 will send directive on work in prison for each post and house rules to be
16 strictly implemented. The move shall be carried out on
17 22 September 1992
18 So I put it to you that Mr. Praljak's memory on this and what he
19 recorded here is actually accurate, that this occurred, even though you
20 may not remember it.
21 A. Mr. Prosecutor, I talked to Mr. Mile Pusic with respect to giving
22 my guards for training, to train his guards, several guards, as
23 professionals, to train them. But this was a meeting with Mijo Pusic.
24 Q. I would repeat my question to you from the previous page. This
25 elaborate recording of a meeting, Mr. -- your friend, Mr. Praljak, he had
1 no reason, 18 years ago, to fabricate such an elaborate piece or to lie
2 about such a meeting; isn't that correct?
3 A. Mr. Prosecutor, I also don't have any reason to either deny or
4 confirm something that I don't know happened. I don't gain anything or
5 lose anything if I say anything but the truth.
6 Q. Have a look at the next page of the document, and then we'll step
7 off this. And this is page 13 of Exhibit P00352, and this is his entry
8 for the 10th of September, just after the meeting with Mr. Praljak:
9 "Briefing with warden.
10 "Pero informed those present of the meeting held in Ljubuski,
11 which, apart from me, was attended by Josip."
12 So here is a third entry by Mr. Praljak on this meeting, and,
13 sir, I put it to you that this meeting did take place and that you
14 actually reported what occurred at that meeting to your subordinates.
15 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation] I apologise, but I'd just
16 like to say I don't know what it is in the English, but in the Croatian
17 on this page there's something that's not quite clear, because this is
18 Josip Praljak's diary and here it says that:
19 "Pero informed those present about the meeting in Ljubuski,
20 which, in addition to me, Josip attended."
21 So from that, I can't see who the "I" is and who the "Josip" is,
22 since there are two Josips. And according to Josip Praljak, there were
23 four of them at the meeting, two Josips, one Coric, and one Pero.
24 Perhaps the Prosecutor knows, because it's really not clear.
25 MR. KRUGER: Your Honour, I take the point of Ms. Tomasegovic.
1 I've had a look at the diary, and it would appear that the recordings by
2 Mr. Praljak are virtually literal, that if somebody stated, I did this
3 and that, it was actually recorded in the diary as: "I did this or
5 Q. So, sir, just to be clear, then, I put it to you that when it
7 "Pero informed those present of the meeting --"
8 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation] No, he didn't say, I did
9 this or that. On the page we saw earlier on from the meeting in
10 Ljubuski, he writes that there were three people attending the meeting.
11 According to him, there were Mr. Pero Nikolic, who's before us here,
12 Mr. Josip Praljak, and Mr. Coric. Now, if we read this page, what he
13 says is: "Pero informed," that means this gentleman here, "informed
14 those present about the meeting in Ljubuski," the meeting held in
15 Ljubuski, "which, in addition to me, was attended by Josip."
16 Now, if we know that "Josip" is Josip Praljak, who is "in
17 addition to me," who's the "I"? That's the part that's not clear.
18 MR. KRUGER: Your Honour, I would submit that from the English,
19 it does appear clear to me that Pero is informing that "in addition to
20 me, Pero, the meeting held in Ljubuski, suggesting with Mr. Coric, was
21 also attended by Josip." To me, it's clear. I don't quite see the
23 Q. Sir, is it possible that your memory is wrong on this when the
24 meeting took place?
25 A. Well, look here. Counsel and Mr. Prosecutor, I wanted to say who
1 this "Josip" was. If he wrote this diary, who is the Josip sitting next
2 to him at the briefing in my office? So I'm is bit surprised. That one
3 doesn't exist.
4 Q. Okay. Sir, let's move on, and I'll just find your statement.
5 You say that in your statement, paragraph 8, in the middle:
6 "I am certain that Valentin Coric was not in any way involved in
7 these works."
8 This is the refurbishment of Heliodrom to accommodate a prison.
9 He was not in any way involved with these works, nor did he know of them.
10 Now, sir, let's turn to Exhibit P00513 in your binder. 513, it's
11 the third document in your binder.
12 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] One moment, please, I have a
14 Mr. Kruger, I apologise, I have a question because I believe you
15 want to move on to another document. If you plan to put this question
16 afterwards, please interrupt me instantly. That won't be a problem.
17 In this diary written by Josip Praljak, on the 10th of September,
18 1992, on the third line, we can read that the person in charge of the
19 Heliodrom will be appointed according to a decision taken by the chief,
20 Valentin Coric, the chief of the HVO military police, and the person in
21 charge will be Mile Pusic.
22 In a document P452, which we have seen a few moments ago, P452, a
23 decision is taken here by Bruno Stojic, who sets up the military prison
24 in the Heliodrom, precisely, and who appoints Mr. Mile Pusic in charge of
25 the prison.
1 There is seemingly a contradiction here in these documents.
2 Could the witness correct me on this, please?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, I can't, because I don't know.
4 I don't know who it was who appointed wardens.
5 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] Thank you very much.
6 MR. KRUGER: Thank you, Your Honour.
7 Q. Now, sir, before we look at document P00513, your statement says
8 this, and you testified about this as well today: You said, in
9 paragraph 7:
10 "Despite my efforts, the conditions weren't good."
11 And then:
12 "A commission therefore met in the municipal Staff, and
13 recognising that the prison was overcrowded, they requested that
14 prisoners of war and detained members of the HVO and BH Army be
15 relocated, and that the prison in Santic Street would therefore only be a
16 civilian prison. And in a conversation with Mr. Mile Pusic, commander of
17 the Krusevac Battalion which was based at Heliodrom, he gave the
18 Municipal Staff permission for us to try and make a temporary military
19 prison in one building and one or two [indiscernible] at Heliodrom."
20 And that's what you testified today as well; correct?
21 A. Yes, yes.
22 Q. Now, sir, from your testimony, it would appear that this whole
23 idea of using Heliodrom or part of Heliodrom to accommodate prisoners of
24 war, that that was something which was exclusively arranged between the
25 Municipal Staff and Mr. Mile Pusic. Is that what you're saying?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Now, sir, we've already -- or let's have a look at document
3 P00513. That's the document you have in front of you. And this is an
4 order by Mr. Valentin Coric, and it's dated 22 September 1992. And we
5 have had a look at it earlier today as well. He says -- he orders:
6 "To establish a central military prison of the Croatian Defence
7 Council in the barracks situated at Mostar Heliport."
8 And then he says also:
9 "The prison governor shall be responsible for the operation of
10 the prison.
11 "This order shall come into effect on 22 September ..."
12 So, sir, in light of what you've just said, actually you're
13 wrong, that it wasn't something that was arranged exclusively between
14 Mr. Mile Pusic and the Municipal Council or Staff. From this, it's clear
15 that Mr. Valentin Coric also had a role to play, he was also involved in
17 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation] Objection, objection.
18 In the statement, when the witness speaks about the role of
19 municipal authorities and the role of Mr. Mile Pusic, he speaks about the
20 period before any construction works took place. Therefore, the summer
21 of 1992, and this document was created after that. And in his statement,
22 the witness said that after the construction works were completed, he did
23 not go to Heliodrom and he doesn't know how Heliodrom functioned once it
24 was established as a prison. He didn't say who it was who established
25 Heliodrom. He only said that somebody had an idea and there was a need
1 to transfer prisoners, and then there were construction works, and all
2 that preceded the document that we're looking at now and he wouldn't be
3 able to say anything about this.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Fine. Mr. Kruger.
5 MR. KRUGER: Your Honour, the witness, himself, could have said,
6 I suppose.
7 Q. But then let's step on. On this, Mr. Coric, obviously from this
8 order, where he says, on 22 September, that this prison is established, I
9 put it to you that he knew that the prison would be ready on the 22nd of
10 September because he had been kept abreast of the refurbishment of the
11 prison and he'd been kept abreast of it by people, such as yourself, who
12 met with him on the 8th of September, 1992. What do you say to that?
13 A. I was not the one who kept him abreast of anything. I was not
14 duty-bound to do so, because he was not my superior.
15 Q. But from this, you would agree that it does appear that Mr. Coric
16 was aware that the prison was ready by the 22nd of September? You would
17 agree to that?
18 A. I can agree that he perhaps knew, or perhaps he didn't know. I
19 can't say for certain either that he knew or that he didn't.
20 Q. But, sir, that's not what you said in your statement. In your
21 statement, you said:
22 "I am certain that Valentin Coric was not involved, nor that he
23 knew of these works."
24 So now you're saying, actually, you're not certain?
25 A. I am certain that I never told him anything, because I never saw
1 him, I never sat down with him, he never sent me a letter, I never sent a
2 letter back. That's what I am talking about. He could have known. He
3 did not have to know. What sources he had at his disposal to learn about
4 things, you have to ask him.
5 Q. And, sir, you've just been shown -- or you've just been referred
6 by Judge Mindua to Exhibit P00452, and that's the decision by
7 Mr. Bruno Stojic saying the central -- this is of the 3rd of September,
8 1992, and it says:
9 "The Central Military Prison is hereby established in the
10 Heliodrom barracks."
12 "2. Mr. Mile Pusic from Krusevo-Mostar is hereby appointed
13 warden of the Central Military Prison."
14 Now, I further put it to you that Mr. Stojic and Mr. Coric's
15 actions in setting up this prison are actually related; that Mr. Coric,
16 his order to establish the prison on the 22nd, was actually preceded by
17 this, and he was executing the decision by Mr. Stojic. Would you agree
18 to that, or can you disagree with that?
19 A. Mr. Prosecutor, I just prepared the facilities to house military
20 personnel that would be criminally charged. I was not a factor to sit
21 down with them on an equal footing and talk to them. I was just an
22 official in a district prison in Mostar that was six kilometres away from
23 there, and I really never had an opportunity to sit down with them.
24 They're here. They can tell you.
25 Q. Now, sir, in paragraph 13 you say:
1 "I can safely assert that he," and this is now Mr. Praljak, "he
2 never once mentioned to me that Valentin Coric had any role in appointing
3 him or anyone else at Heliodrom."
4 But, sir, the fact that he didn't mention it to you, that doesn't
5 mean that it didn't happen. I put it to you that actually Mr. Coric did
6 appoint wardens. Would you agree to that?
7 THE INTERPRETER: Could the witness please repeat his answer?
8 MR. KRUGER:
9 Q. Could you just repeat your answer, sir? The interpreters didn't
10 hear it.
11 A. Don't ask me whether he did or whether he didn't. I didn't make
12 any decisions, I didn't hear. Why are you asking me if I know whether
13 Mr. Coric appointed anybody? I was not in the same league. I was
14 affiliated with the municipality, and the Heliodrom was a military
15 prison. Why are you putting me in a context with all the other people
16 who might have been in a position to know what Coric was doing?
17 Q. So, sir, already twice today you've been shown Exhibit P02925,
18 and that's the 24 June order by Mr. Petkovic. And we don't need to look
19 at it. I'm just going to ask you a question about this.
20 This is the order where Mr. Petkovic orders that all prisoners
21 shall be transferred to the Heliodrom military remand facility. Now,
22 sir, this order, if I read it correctly, that means that the prisoners
23 remaining in your prison, and these were the civilian criminals, as it
24 were, that these people were transferred to the Heliodrom Military
25 Prison; is that correct?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. At the Heliodrom military remand facility, did you and your staff
3 also get transferred there to work there or not?
4 A. I never went back to Heliodrom once it was established. None of
5 my guards were transferred to Heliodrom either.
6 Q. So, sir, do you know whether those prisoners, those civilian
7 prisoners, when they were transferred to Heliodrom, were they kept
8 separate from the other detainees in Dretelj or kept in amongst them?
9 A. I wouldn't be able to tell you. I wasn't down there and I didn't
10 see anything.
11 Q. Now, sir, just a final thing perhaps. Along with these prisoners
12 who were sent, the civilian prisoners, were they only male prisoners or
13 were there also women amongst them?
14 A. Only men, as far as I can remember.
15 Q. And were they of any particular ethnic grouping?
16 A. It really doesn't matter. I don't know what their ethnicity was.
17 I know that there were quite a number of Croats. There were Muslims as
19 Q. Now, sir, in 1992, you testified that Serbian prisoners of war
20 were also being held in your facility. That's correct, isn't it?
21 A. Correct.
22 Q. And these are the prisoners who were then later sent to Heliodrom
23 when it was established on 22 September 1992; correct?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Were you aware of Serbian prisoners of war being detained in any
1 other locations - example, Dretelj - in 1992?
2 A. I heard of that, but I never went to Dretelj. I don't know, to
3 this very day, where that is or where that was.
4 Q. So, sir, from this it would appear that in 1993, when the HVO
5 detained large numbers of Muslim men, this wasn't the first experience
6 they had of detaining people; they had gained experience of detaining
7 prisoners of war already in 1992. Would you agree?
8 A. I don't know who you mean. What type? I don't understand your
9 question, sir. Could you please repeat your question?
10 Q. In 1993, when the HVO was detaining large numbers of Muslim men,
11 and these included military men as well as, actually, civilian
12 military-aged men, conscripts, that wasn't the first experience they had
13 of detaining such people, because they'd already gained some experience
14 in 1992 of detaining Serbian prisoners of war; is that correct? You
15 don't disagree with that?
16 A. I don't agree, for a very simple reason. Nobody came to me in
17 mid-1992. None of the Muslims were detained there, and those who were
18 brought in before that, they came in on decisions for custody from either
19 a civilian judge or a military judge, depending on their status. That's
20 how people ended up in my prison. As far as mass arrests are concerned,
21 I did not receive any of them as a result of any mass arrests.
22 MR. KRUGER: Thank you very much, sir.
23 I have no further questions, Your Honour.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well.
25 I would like to know whether the Coric Defence has some redirect
2 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I will need
3 only five minutes, without any documents. Maybe we could do that before
4 the break.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Sure, go ahead.
6 Re-examination by Ms. Tomasegovic Tomic:
7 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Nikolic, if I understood you properly, you
8 godfathered Mr. Josip Praljak's children, you were a good friend with
9 him. Being a godfather is a big thing in Bosnia-Herzegovina?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. This event, you coming to testify before the Tribunal, is that an
12 important event in your life, an unusual event?
13 A. Of course.
14 Q. Did you tell your friends, your relatives, that you were on your
15 way to The Hague
16 A. I told only my relatives.
17 Q. Did you know that Mr. Praljak had testified here in The Hague
18 Did you know that before you arrived here in The Hague?
19 A. I learned that at the wedding two months ago. He only told me, I
20 was in The Hague
21 have much time. He greeted me as one of the wedding festivity's
22 participants and thanked me for being there.
23 Q. Were you surprised to hear that he had been in The Hague?
24 A. No, I wasn't.
25 Q. On several occasions, you were asked about that meeting, and you
1 were asked about what you remembered. And if I understood your answers
2 properly, your recollection is problematic in the part in which -- you
3 actually don't remember dates very well, but you remember the events.
4 Did I understand that properly?
5 A. Yes, you did.
6 Q. Now, as you sit here today, can you state with certainty -- or,
7 rather, let me put it differently. Did you ever attend a single meeting
8 with Valentin Coric?
9 A. No.
10 Q. Are you 100 per cent sure that you never, ever met with
11 Mr. Valentin Coric?
12 A. I am --
13 Q. No, I asked you whether you were 100 per cent sure.
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Listen to my question. Don't rush into answering, please. I'm
16 going to repeat my question. You answer it very slowly. After you've
17 heard my question, count before you answer.
18 Are you 100 per cent sure that never, ever in your life did you
19 ever meet with Mr. Valentin Coric? Are you 100 per cent sure of that?
20 A. 100 per cent, I'm sure that I have never had the honour of
21 sharing the same table or sit down with Mr. Valentin Coric.
22 Q. And my last question, sir : The civilians you mentioned as
23 having been transferred from your prison, you've already talked about
24 that, but let's just go over the same ground once again.
25 Were those civilians who were undergoing investigation because of
1 crimes that they had committed?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Those are the civilians that had been brought on decision of
4 investigating judge by the civilian police?
5 A. Yes.
6 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours.
7 That completes my re-examination.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well.
9 Witness, on behalf of my colleagues, I would like to thank you
10 for coming to testify for Mr. Coric's Defence, and I would like to wish
11 you a safe trip back to your country.
12 Before we adjourn for the day, I would like to let you know that
13 next week we have a witness that will testify over four days. I would
14 like to ask Mr. Coric's counsel if there won't be a problem and if he
15 will definitely be here.
16 MS. TOMASEGOVIC TOMIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, if
17 everything goes smoothly, he should be landing just as we speak. Around
18 half past 10.00, his flight should land, so I suppose everything will be
19 fine. We spoke to him yesterday evening. He confirmed his arrival.
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well.
21 Yes, Mr. Scott.
22 MR. SCOTT: Good morning, Mr. President. Good morning to each of
23 Your Honours, to all those in and around the courtroom.
24 One procedural matter, please. And I didn't want to delay the
25 beginning of the witness at 9.00.
1 But in connection with --
2 MR. KOVACIC: Sorry. Perhaps the witness will be escorted out.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, indeed.
4 [The witness withdrew]
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Go ahead, Mr. Scott.
6 MR. SCOTT: Your Honour, yesterday, in connection with the
7 testimony of Mr. Petkovic, lengthy objections were filed by the various
8 Defence teams to the Prosecution's tendered exhibits. I think there was
9 something like 27 pages of objections. Frankly, it was impossible for us
10 to respond by this morning, and I would ask the Chamber if we could have
11 until close of business next Wednesday to possibly submit those.
12 [Trial Chamber confers]
13 MR. STEWART: Sorry, Your Honour. May I say we have absolutely
14 no objection to that. We wonder whether there could be a general
15 extension for everybody to the same dead-line. That makes sense. We've
16 done that in the past, and Your Honours may feel that that's fair and
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Indeed, the Trial Chamber
19 agrees with that. There is no problem. It is quite understandable that
20 when there's a lot of work involved, we give enough time for everyone to
21 prepare themselves.
22 Mr. Coric.
23 THE ACCUSED CORIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I will be
25 Yesterday, at one point I requested time to consult with my
1 counsel, and you did not even react. You kept quiet to that. I just
2 want to tell you one fact. For the four years of this trial and over 500
3 sessions in this courtroom, I requested that for the second or third
4 time. It doesn't matter.
5 Next time, if I request that, and if I'm entitled to that, would
6 you please allow that to happen within a reasonable time or at the moment
7 when I requested it? I had a good reason yesterday, because I'd noticed
8 that something was happening to the witness, that he was not feeling too
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Indeed, Mr. Coric, I had taken
11 your request on board, and I thought that during the break you would have
12 time to consult with your counsel. But then you left, and I realised
13 that the co-counsel was no longer there, so I assumed that you were
14 consulting. This is why I did not insist on that, and your counsel is
15 telling me that, indeed, the co-counsel met with you. But next time
16 there won't be any problem. You can, of course, consult with your
18 This being said, we will meet again on Monday at 2.15 p.m.
19 Thank you.
--- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 10.39 a.m.
21 to be reconvened on Monday, the 29th day of March,
22 2010, at 2.15 p.m.