1 Friday, 3rd March 2000
3 [Open session]
4 --- Upon commencing at 10.35 a.m.
5 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated.
6 Mr. Registrar, have the accused brought into the
7 courtroom, please.
8 [The accused entered court]
9 JUDGE JORDA: First of all, I would like to
10 be sure that the interpreters can hear me, that the
11 booths are ready. Good morning.
12 Mr. Registrar, I would like you to call the
14 THE REGISTRAR: This is case number
15 IT-95-14-T. The Prosecutor versus Tihomir Blaskic.
16 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. Can we have the
17 appearance for the parties, please. On the side of the
19 MR. HARMON: Good morning, Mr. President.
20 Good morning, Your Honours. Good morning, counsel. My
21 name is Mark Harmon. Present with me are my colleagues
22 Mr. Gregory Kehoe, Mr. Andrew Cayley, and Mr. Simon
24 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you very much.
25 MR. HAYMAN: Good morning, Mr. President,
1 Your Honours. It is a pleasure to see you this
2 morning. Russell Hayman and Anto Nobilo on behalf of
3 General Blaskic. Thank you.
4 JUDGE JORDA: We can now begin.
5 The Trial Chamber is today rendering its
6 Judgement in the case of the Prosecutor versus Tihomir
7 Blaskic, the accused here present. I should clarify
8 that except where indicated otherwise, I will speak on
9 behalf of the Trial Chamber, which I had the honour to
10 preside over, and that Judge Shahabuddeen has appended
11 a declaration to the Judgement.
12 By way of introduction, I wish first, on
13 behalf of the Chamber, to thank all those who enabled
14 this trial, made significant by the accused's senior
15 position and by the volume of information led at the
16 hearings and by the length of the proceedings, to
17 evolve under the best conditions.
18 The Trial Chamber first wishes to recall that
19 several Judges had to withdraw from the trial before
20 its conclusion. Despite his commitment and drive,
21 Judge Deschenes was, as you know, obliged to resign for
22 medical reasons. Once again, I wish to thank Judge
23 Shahabuddeen for having consented to take his place
24 forthwith in the days following his election, thereby
25 allowing the trial to commence on the date set. My
1 thoughts also turn to Judge Riad, whom illness kept
2 away from the trial for several months. It was with
3 some hesitation that, having consulted with the
4 Prosecution, the Defence, and the accused, the Trial
5 Chamber requested that he be replaced. However, it
6 knew it could count on the total dedication of Judge
7 Rodrigues, who was given the weighty task of
8 acquainting himself with the entire case file in a very
9 short time.
10 I would also like everyone to be aware of the
11 remarkable work contributed by all those persons who
12 are sometimes forgotten but who day after day compiled
13 the transcripts, more than 18,000 pages in the French
14 version and 25,000 in the English version; filmed and
15 recorded the hearings, then redacted the recordings to
16 protect the witnesses; translated thousands of pages of
17 documents, which will remain for history; interpreted
18 the proceedings, despite the speed of the statements or
19 the exchanges, despite the technical words and
20 expressions used, despite the criticism sometimes made
21 of them when a speaker deemed his term or phrase was
22 not perfectly rendered.
23 The Trial Chamber also recalls the invaluable
24 assistance which it received from the Registrar, of
25 course the Trial Chamber's legal officer, Olivier
1 Fourmy, and its assistants.
2 I would above all like to pay tribute to the
3 counsel for the Prosecution and the Defence for their
4 remarkable attitude throughout the trial, thus showing
5 that the ardour of proceedings does not exclude
6 courtesy, at least towards the Judges, and that
7 defending the interests one represents does not
8 necessarily entail a permanent quality. The debates
9 were always of the highest quality.
10 Finally, I would point out that the accused
11 testified as a witness for nearly 12 weeks, including
12 the time allotted to the cross-examination and the
13 questions of the Judges. Throughout the trial, General
14 Blaskic always showed deference to the Judges.
15 I should like to touch upon the length of the
16 proceedings within this general introduction. In terms
17 of form, the trial had only one shortcoming, something
18 which we must all strive to remedy in the future, that
19 is, its length.
20 I should like to recall that it opened on the
21 24th of June, 1997, and the proceedings were declared
22 closed a little over two years later, on the 30th of
23 July, 1999. Over the course of these two years, the
24 Trial Chamber would hear 158 witnesses and receive
25 nearly 1,500 exhibits, mostly written documents, some
1 of which consisted of several hundred pages. The
2 parties tendered such detailed submissions that as of
3 today, the French translations have still not been
4 filed with the Registry.
5 Naturally, the Trial Chamber wished to review
6 all the elements of the case file. It verified all the
7 arguments advanced and examined them in relation to one
8 another and in the light of the exhibits. It notes in
9 this respect that the parties submitted to it quite a
10 large number of orders or reports issued by the
11 accused. Every element of those orders has its
12 importance: the actual content of the document itself,
13 of course, but also its addressees, the day, and even
14 the hour of its transmissions, its references where
15 they exist, everything which permits the declarations
16 of the witnesses to be confirmed or rejected.
17 In this regard, the Trial Chamber must state
18 its regret that it did not obtain all the available
19 information, especially the other orders and reports
20 issued by the accused, his superiors or subordinates,
21 which were, or perhaps still are, stored in the
23 It must, however, express its dissatisfaction
24 at the attitude of certain states not emanating from
25 the former Yugoslavia and certain entities which
1 demonstrated true cooperation with the Tribunal and
2 which, as the Trial Chamber knows, provided a
3 considerable volume of information to the parties.
4 In sum, the Trial Chamber would take seven
5 months to deliver its Judgement, seven months to check
6 element of evidence by element, witness statement by
7 witness statement, whether and to what extent General
8 Blaskic's responsibility for the facts ascribed to him
9 was establish.
10 Before proceeding to the explanation, it is
11 probably appropriate to recall the crimes ascribed to
12 the accused and the main arguments of his defence. The
13 Trial Chamber will then set out the general context in
14 which the conflict at issue fits and how it must be
15 characterised. Next it will recall in brief the facts,
16 in any case some of the more notable facts to the
17 conflict. Lastly, the Trial Chamber will present its
18 findings as to the responsibility of the accused for
19 the crimes committed and the discriminatory nature of
20 those crimes.
21 The crimes ascribed to the accused.
22 Tihomir Blaskic is charged with having
23 committed, ordered, planned, or otherwise aided and
24 abetted, between 1st of May, 1992 and 31st January
25 1994: A crime against humanity, persecution (Count 1:
1 Attacks upon cities, towns, and villages; killing and
2 causing serious injury; destruction and plunder of
3 property; inhumane treatment of civilians; forcible
4 transfer of civilians).
5 Crimes against humanity, wilful killing, and
6 causing serious injury (Counts 7 and 10).
7 Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions
8 (Counts 5, 8, 11, 15, 17, and 19).
9 Violations of the laws or customs of war
10 (Counts 3, 4, 6, 9, 12 to 14, 16, 18, and 20. Count 2
11 was withdrawn by the Prosecution because it deemed that
12 it was covered by the other counts).
13 For killing, serious bodily injury,
14 destruction and plunder of property, destruction of
15 institutions dedicated to education or religion,
16 inhumane or cruel treatment of detainees, including the
17 taking of hostages and their use as human shields, all
18 this against the Muslim population of Central Bosnia,
19 and in particular the Lasva Valley, that is, more
20 specifically in the municipalities of Vitez, Busovaca,
21 Kiseljak, and to some degree Zenica.
22 General Blaskic is also charged with not
23 having taken reasonable measures to prevent crimes, to
24 punish the perpetrators thereof, or knowing or having
25 reasons to know that the crimes were about to be
1 committed or had been committed.
2 How did General Blaskic respond to those
4 In his defence, General Blaskic presented a
5 series of arguments which the Trial Chamber may only
6 reproduce in summary here but which were presented at
7 length during the trial, most especially when the
8 accused testified and, naturally, in the final
9 submissions to the Trial Chamber.
10 These arguments first touch upon the
11 circumstances at the time. General Blaskic was, in his
12 own words, under siege in a way and exposed to the
13 attacks of the Muslim forces, whose objective was to
14 take control of the Lasva Valley by isolating one
15 municipality from another. Under these conditions and
16 despite his efforts, it was completely impossible for
17 him to maintain a proper command system, particularly
18 given the difficulty of inter-municipality
20 The Defence further contended that the crimes
21 committed by the Muslim forces explained the disorderly
22 conduct of the Croatian troops, essentially comprised
23 only of poorly-trained soldiers inclined to obey the
24 local authorities rather than his orders. In addition,
25 there were crimes committed, and particularly in the
1 case of Ahmici or the booby-trapped lorry in Stari
2 Vitez, were for the most part the work of units not
3 falling under his chain of command, whether these were
4 military police or special units, such as the Vitezovi.
5 Whatever the case, General Blaskic never
6 allegedly gave the order to commit the crimes. In the
7 opinion of the Defence, the attack on Grbavica
8 demonstrates that when the accused ordered an attack,
9 it adhered to the laws of war and that the crimes
10 perpetrated subsequent to the attack resulted only from
11 the acts of civilians driven by spirit of vengeance and
12 left free to act due to the shortcomings of the police
14 Moreover, General Blaskic always allegedly
15 took care to restate in numerous written orders the
16 need to respect Humanitarian Law. Allegedly, he could
17 even detain civilians if only for the purposes of
18 providing them with protection.
19 Finally, the Defence maintains that the
20 applicable laws at the time permitted the use of work
21 teams to dig trenches.
22 We now come to the findings of the Trial
24 Before addressing the actual responsibility
25 of the accused, the Trial Chamber will outline the
1 geographical, political, and military context of the
2 case and reiterate the specific crimes perpetrated.
3 The general context into which the conflict
4 fits is a geographic, political, and military context.
5 The Lasva Valley, as described in the
6 indictment, is an area some 30 kilometres to the
7 north-west of Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It is a
8 region crossed by a road running from south-east to the
9 north-west which passes along the Sarajevo-Kiseljak
10 stretch before continuing on towards Busovaca, then
11 towards Vitez, and going on to Travnik. The distance
12 between Kiseljak and Vitez is about 30 kilometres. The
13 road lies at the bottom of the hills. The Defence
14 presented a scale model. If it did exaggerate the
15 height of the hills, the Defence admitted that they
16 were increased threefold. It demonstrated the
17 importance of the road to the whole of the region,
18 especially in economic and military terms. All the
19 municipalities of Vitez, Busovaca, and Kiseljak would
20 correspond to a thin strip of land stretching, for
21 example, from The Hague to Schiphol and Haarlem.
22 The region was also especially remarkable for
23 its large Croatian population. According to the 1991
24 census, the Muslim and Croatian populations was
25 distributed as follows: For the Vitez municipality,
1 11,514 Muslims and 12,675 Croats. Busovaca
2 municipality, 8,451 Muslims and 9,093 Croats. Kiseljak
3 municipality, 9,778 Muslims and 12,550 Croats.
4 The town of Zenica had a Muslim majority (45
5 percent Muslims compared to 16.5 percent Croats).
6 Regarding the political and military context,
7 the Trial Chamber deems that the crimes perpetrated in
8 the region which we have just mentioned were admittedly
9 committed in the context of an armed conflict between
10 the Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats, but before all
11 else, in the context of an armed international
13 In early 1992, Tihomir Blaskic was in Vienna,
14 in Austria, having resigned from the former Yugoslavia
15 Army, the JNA. According to his statements, he was
16 recalled in February 1992 to his birth town of Kiseljak
17 by the municipal council, who were relying on obtaining
18 his services to organise the defence of the
19 municipality against the Serbs. Upon his arrival,
20 Croats and Muslims cooperated to this end. However,
21 the situation rapidly deteriorated. As of 8 April
22 1992, the Bosnian Croats organised within the
23 Democratic Community of Herceg-Bosna, which we will
24 refer to as HZ HB, created on 18 November 1991, and the
25 Croats organised in this way instituted the HVO (the
1 Croatian Defence Council) which was both a military and
2 a political structure. On the following day, the
3 9th of April, 1992, the Muslims formed the Territorial
4 Defence (the TO) which at the end of 1992 would become
5 the Muslim army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, or the ABiH.
6 Furthermore, I should like to recall that on
7 the 6th of April, 1992, the Republic of
8 Bosnia-Herzegovina declared its independence. On
9 7 April, Croatia recognised Bosnia-Herzegovina as an
10 independent state. Nevertheless, at the same time, it
11 granted Croatian citizenship to "the members of the
12 Croatian nation" of Bosnia-Herzegovina who so
13 requested. On the 18th of May, the United Nations
14 Security Council recommended that the Republic of
15 Croatia be admitted to the United Nations (Resolution
16 753) and on 20th of May, the Republic of
18 Simultaneously, the Security Council called
19 for a cessation to external intervention in the
20 territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and that units of the
21 JNA and of the Croatian army -- we will call it the HV
22 -- units there to withdraw to place themselves under
23 the authority of the government of Bosnia-Herzegovina
24 or to be disbanded and disarmed (Security Council
25 resolution 752). We are now talking about May 1992.
1 The presence of extant forces was therefore
2 widely known, but what of the region with which we are
3 dealing? The evidence tendered presents apparently
4 contradictory and vague perspectives, which the Trial
5 Chamber endeavoured to clarify. Despite individual
6 local differences, quite a simple picture can be
8 As the Trial Chamber indicates, the Lasva
9 Valley was an area in which the Serbs made up only a
10 minority of the population. Nevertheless, the Serbian
11 forces were not far away; they were at Jajce, to the
12 west, and they were advancing to Kiseljak in the
13 south-east. The front had to be held. The control of
14 arms was the order of the day, and they were taken from
15 wherever they were found; for example, at the former
16 JNA barracks in Kiseljak or in Kaonik. They next had
17 to be handed out. This was the trigger to the
18 conflict, conflicts which would be all the more violent
19 as nationalism intensified.
20 The HZ HB, the Croatian Community of
21 Herceg-Bosna, had internal disagreements between the
22 supporters of multi-ethnicity or, in any case,
23 cohabitation with the Muslims and the most die-hard
24 Croatian nationalists. The latter unquestionably
25 received the support of Zagreb.
1 An international conflict, that is the nature
2 of the conflict in question, an international armed
3 conflict. The Republic of Croatia did not content
4 itself merely with remaining a spectator on the
5 sidelines, or even simply to protect its borders; it
6 intervened in the conflict, pitting the Muslims and
7 Croats of Central Bosnia against each other.
8 Let us recall that Franjo Tudjman and
9 Slobodan Milosevic met in March 1991 to discuss the
10 partitioning of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which would have
11 led to its disappearance, at least as a distinct
12 entity. According to one Defence witness, Croatia
13 harboured ambitions in respect of the territories
14 within Bosnia-Herzegovina considered as Croatian for
15 150 years. In any case, President Tudjman's
16 nationalism and his territorial ambitions became
17 evident to many of those with whom he spoke, including
18 Lord Owen and witnesses Paddy Ashdown, II, and X, heard
19 by the Trial Chamber. We are sometimes obliged to use
20 pseudonyms to protect witnesses.
21 As acknowledged by some of its highest
22 ranking officers, such as General Bobetko, Admiral
23 Domazet, or General Petkovic, Croatia sent troops to
24 southern Bosnia-Herzegovina, into Bosnian territory;
25 however, it did not stop there. The evidence noted by
1 the Trial Chamber in its Judgement demonstrate that the
2 troops of the Croatian army, the HV, were observed at
3 many locations in Bosnian territory, including the
4 Lasva Valley. Documents show that very many HV
5 soldiers served within the HVO and were ordered to
6 remove here HV insignia and replace them with those of
7 the HVO. Most HVO officers were, in fact, HV
8 officers. An exception at the time is not General
9 Blaskic, now an inspector in the disciplinary body of
10 the army of the Republic of Croatia. The presence of
11 these men was reinforced by substantial material
12 assistance. The Trial Chamber concurs that Croatia
13 might also have supplied some assistance to
14 Bosnia-Herzegovina. However, this assistance dried up,
15 at least within the region and period under
16 consideration, whereas the total aid sent by Croatia to
17 all structures of Herceg-Bosna was assessed at one
18 million German marks a day.
19 The objectives of the Croatian nationalists
20 of Croatia were evidently shared by many members of the
21 HVO and the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna,
22 including Mate Boban, of course, President of the
23 Community; but also Anto Valenta, President of the
24 Vitez HDZ, then President of the HDZ for the HZ HB, and
25 whose nationalist writings are revealing; Ignac
1 Kostroman, Secretary-General of the HZ HB; Dario
2 Kordic, Vice-President of the HZ HB, whose speeches
3 fired up the Bosnian Croats.
4 The Trial Chamber will cite here by way of
5 example the minutes of a meeting on 12 November 1991,
6 signed by Mate Boban and Dario Kordic, and I
7 quote: "... the Croatian people of Bosnia-Herzegovina
8 must finally opt for an active and determined policy to
9 achieve their eternal dream - a common Croatian
11 It is still the case, however, that the
12 nationalists found it unacceptable that the Muslims
13 could want to have a defence. The Bosnian Territorial
14 Defence, the TO, which we mentioned a moment ago, was
15 formed on the 9th of April, 1992. On 10 April, Mate
16 Boban outlawed the TO in the territory of HZ HB. The
17 Croatian general, Anto Roso, confirmed this in an order
18 on 8 May, and on 11 May, Tihomir Blaskic implemented
19 that order by pronouncing the TO, the Territorial
20 Defence, unlawful in the territory of the Kiseljak
21 municipality, a matter to which we will return.
22 Let us now consider the conflict in the Lasva
23 Valley. From May 1992 until January 1993 first, and
24 then we will talk about the situation in April 1993.
25 But between these two periods, we must refer to an
1 important event that had an important political
2 importance, that is, the Vance-Owen Plan.
3 I am sorry if I am going too fast for the
5 Beginning in May 1992, until January 1993,
6 tensions between the Muslim and Croatian populations
7 would increase, and incidents broke out particularly
8 when one side thought it could gain a tactical or
9 strategic advantage, such as control of a village, a
10 town, former military warehouses, or a road. The
11 provocations and incidents multiplied, such as the
12 Croatian flag being flown on public buildings and
13 officers of Croatian origin being kidnapped. The first
14 destruction of mosques and Muslim houses, the first
15 civilian murders and first acts of plunder would be
16 seen. In a narrow strip of territory, as we saw,
17 internal displacements of Muslim populations driven
18 from their dwellings by the crimes of the Croats were
19 added to the movement of Croatian, and particularly
20 Muslim refugees chased from their lands by the Serbs.
21 The accused, Colonel Blaskic, at the time,
22 was appointed commander of the Central Bosnia Operative
23 Zone, as we know, on the 27th of June, 1992. And the
24 order was issued by whom? By a general of the Croatian
25 army, Ante Roso. In accordance with this order, issued
1 by a Croatian general, Milivoj Petkovic, the operative
2 zone incorporated the municipalities we are dealing
3 with, those of Vitez, Busovaca, and Kiseljak. In
4 August 1992, serious incidents erupted around the
5 village of Duhri, to the south of Kiseljak, whose
6 mosque was destroyed.
7 In the autumn, the situation deteriorated
8 rapidly. The HVO sought to force the Muslims to hand
9 over their arms, and shots were fired in and around
10 Vitez. On the 20th of October, the Muslims established
11 a roadblock at Ahmici. They claimed, the Muslims, that
12 it was to prevent HVO troops from reinforcing the
13 Croatian positions in Travnik. The Croats, on their
14 part, asserted that their forces were moving up to the
15 front facing the Serbs in Jajce. Whatever the case, a
16 Croatian soldier was killed, the roadblock was knocked
17 down, and the Muslim's arms confiscated. Tensions
18 remained high, while the forces on the ground
19 organised. The accused formed brigades within the
20 military structure. The army of Bosnia-Herzegovina
21 formed its 3rd Corps, based in Zenica.
22 I said that I would make a digression by
23 referring to an important diplomatic step, and that is
24 the Vance-Owen Plan.
25 In January 1993, the Vance-Owen Plan was
1 presented. This peace plan defined, among other
2 things, a decentralised Bosnia-Herzegovina, organised
3 into ten provinces, each enjoying substantial autonomy
4 and necessarily governed by a democratically elected
5 local government. According to the statements of one
6 witness, the whole reasoning behind the plan was that
7 there should be a division of power with one
8 nationality being predominant in some zones but not to
9 the prejudice of the other nationalities. Power was to
10 be exercised with respect for the minorities.
11 It should be borne in mind that the Lasva
12 Valley was largely located in province 10, with the
13 rest of that valley, the southern part of the
14 municipality of Kiseljak, being in province 7. The
15 plan came down to assigning the main provinces in
16 province 10 to the Croats and to the Muslims in
17 province 7. Nevertheless, in the minds of the Croatian
18 nationalists, and particularly Mate Boban, President of
19 the HZ HB, the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna, that
20 meant that province 10 was Croatian. It also meant
21 that territories which they considered historically
22 Croatian would be incorporated within the predominantly
23 Muslim province 7, which was unacceptable to them. It
24 was, in any case, best to ensure Croatian dominance in
25 the regions affected.
1 I must say that the Vance-Owen Plan never
2 came to be implemented on the ground, but the Croats,
3 and in particular the Bosnian Croats, bore a heavy
4 responsibility in conducting the war in anticipation of
5 its implementation and in willing its unilateral
7 As of January 15, 1993, Mate Boban sent an
8 ultimatum to the Muslims ordering them inter alia to
9 hand over their arms. Faced with their refusal, the
10 Croatian forces conducted operations meant to Croatise
11 some territories by force. Hundreds of Muslims were
12 arrested and many imprisoned in Kaonik in the former
13 JNA warehouses. Many of them were beaten. Most had to
14 dig trenches, often under inhuman conditions and
15 exposed to enemy fire. In so doing, they were beaten,
16 even killed, and sometimes used as human shields.
17 The considerable efforts made by the European
18 Commission Monitoring Mission, the ECMM, and the United
19 Nations Protection Force enabled some prisoners of war
20 to be released and the conflict to be contained.
21 However, this situation was not to last, and
22 my colleagues and I will deal with the situation in the
23 Lasva Valley in April 1993.
24 On the 15th of April, the Croats, especially
25 through the voice of Dario Kordic, at a televised
1 public meeting, issued a new ultimatum. Tihomir
2 Blaskic declared, also on television, that HVO soldiers
3 had been attacked in Nadioci. In a written order, he
4 commanded the HVO brigades and the Vitezovi special
5 unit to fire back if attacked, and then instructed the
6 HVO brigades and the 4th Battalion of the military
7 police to defend themselves against what he termed
8 Muslim terrorist attacks.
9 On the 16th of April, at 01.30 hours, he
10 issued a combat order to the Vitez Brigade and the
11 Tvrtko independent units to, and I quote, "prevent the
12 attacks of extremist Muslim forces." The formation's
13 concerns had to be ready, and again I quote, "to
14 commence shooting at 05.30 hours on the 16th of April,
16 In fact, on the 16th of April, 1993, at 5.30,
17 and then over the following days, the Lasva Valley
18 became the theatre of numerous crimes. Civilians were
19 killed or wounded, houses set alight, minarets brought
20 down, mosques destroyed, women and children separated
21 from the men and left with no choice but to flee, women
22 raped, and men imprisoned, beaten and led off to the
23 front to dig trenches. Everywhere, the same or
24 virtually the same scenario was played out.
25 An artillery attack, sometimes with homemade
1 weapons, "babies", was launched with complete disregard
2 for the consequences and followed up by an infantry
3 attack. It matters little whether the objective had,
4 at least in part, some military interest. It was
5 sufficient to do such as to make it impossible for the
6 Muslims to live there once the Croats had conquered the
7 ground. This was true to such an extent that
8 undefended villages which were not military targets
9 were destroyed.
10 The 16th of April, 1993. Ahmici, a village
11 with a very large Muslim majority, known for the
12 fervent practice and teaching of the Muslim religion
13 and whose largest mosque had just been rebuilt. A
14 village perched high up overlooking the main
15 Busovaca-Vitez road, but some distance away from it. A
16 village where there was no Muslim army.
17 It was 5.30 on the 16th of April, and the
18 artillery opened fire. The Croatian inhabitants left
19 the evening before. Only those who were armed and
20 wanted to kill remained behind, to kill the
21 terror-stricken Muslims who were awoken in the dead of
22 night, who left their houses to flee and who fell to
23 the bullets of the awaiting soldiers. Muslims, women,
24 children, and the old included, forced out of their
25 homes in order to be killed. Muslims who hid under
1 their beds, in their cellars, and who were burnt alive
2 in the flames of their houses.
3 These facts are known. The Defence finally
4 acknowledged that these facts were materially
5 incontestable. After much prevarication, the Defence
6 ended up clearly implicating the troops whom it claimed
7 had committed all those crimes, that is, the military
8 police, and in particular a special unit thereof, the
9 Jokers, whose commander was Vladimir Santic, assisted
10 by Anto Furundzija, also prosecuted by this Tribunal
11 for facts related to this attack.
12 Other villages and hamlets were also attacked
13 simultaneously: Nadioci, Pirici, Santici, located in
14 the immediate vicinity of Ahmici.
15 The same scene recurred in the municipality
16 of Busovaca. The HVO artillery shelled the villages of
17 Jelinak, Merdani, and Putis. On 17 April 1993, the HVO
18 soldiers and the Jokers entered the village of Loncari
19 and searched the Muslim houses for men of combat age
20 and for arms. All the houses and stables belonging to
21 the Muslims were set on fire. All the houses in the
22 villages of Jelinak and Putis were also set on fire.
23 Entire villages, the women, the children, and the
24 elderly, were assembled and then chased out. Some
25 civilians were beaten.
1 On 19 April, it was the turn of Ocehnici to
2 be attacked. Civilians were killed, amongst them
3 women. All the Muslim dwellings were set aflame. This
4 same tactic was always used in the municipality of
6 Initially, to the north of town of Kiseljak,
7 from 18 to 21 April 1993, when the villages of Behrici,
8 Gomionica, Gromiljak, Hercezi, Polje Visnjica, Rotilj,
9 and Svinjarevo were attacked, the village of Gomionica
10 would be subjected to fresh assaults in June. The
11 houses were set alight, the mosques of Behrici and
12 Gomionica destroyed, and the one in Gromiljak damaged
13 in a fire. The mosque in Visnjica was plundered. Many
14 Muslim houses were burnt to the ground, and their
15 inhabitants chased out or assembled to be later
17 On this matter, it must be said that though
18 some were taken away to the Kiseljak barracks where
19 mistreatment abound, an even larger number, including
20 women and children, were led off to the village of
21 Rotilj. It was impossible to leave the village
22 inasmuch as the Croatian troops controlled the access
23 roads and snipers waited to end any attempt to flee.
24 The living conditions were difficult, given that the
25 Muslims lacked food and water, and to pack into those
1 Muslim houses which remained in tact.
2 The male detainees were obliged to dig
3 trenches, mostly on the front lines, where they were
4 subjected to physical violence.
5 In June 1993, it is south of the municipality
6 which sought same crimes reproduced in Grahovici, Han
7 Ploca and Tulica. Here again, civilians were killed,
8 houses plundered and/or set alight, and men taken
9 prisoner, beaten, and forced to dig trenches.
10 Returning to the municipality of Vitez, note
11 must also be made of the attacks on Vitez and
12 particularly on Stari Vitez, the Muslim neighbourhood
13 of the town, in April 1993, Stari Vitez in July, Donja
14 Veceriska and Gacice in April; and Grbavica in
15 September 1993. The Trial Chamber will make three
16 particular points in respect of these attacks.
17 The first is the recourse to terror. Thus,
18 on the 18th of April, a lorry packed with hundreds of
19 kilos of explosives blew up on the outskirts of Stari
20 Vitez near a mosque. According to the Defence, this
21 action was decided upon and conducted by the Vitezovi
22 under the command of Darko Kraljevic.
23 The second point which the Trial Chamber
24 explains in more detail in its Judgement is that some
25 attacks could meet military necessity. For example, an
1 explosives factory was located between the villages of
2 Donja Veceriska and Gacice. Nevertheless, even in that
3 context Muslim civilians were killed and driven out,
4 and Muslim dwellings destroyed without any
6 Similarly, the observers agreed that the
7 attack on Grbavica, which, moreover, the accused
8 admitted having organised, was very well-conducted.
9 However, the subsequent destruction again did not
10 correspond to any military necessity.
11 The third point is that, as one member of the
12 ECMM noted, the principal Muslim political officials
13 and intellectuals of the town were arrested and
14 detained during the attack on Vitez.
15 Lastly, the Trial Chamber must make mention
16 of the shelling of the town of Zenica on the 19th of
17 April, 1993, when around midnight, several shells fell
18 far away from any zone of military interest whatsoever,
19 causing notably the death of many civilians. Taking
20 into account the circumstances, the probability that
21 this crime is ascribable to the HVO seems great. The
22 Trial Chamber considers, however, that the elements in
23 its possession do not allow the accused to be found
24 responsible for this criminal attack.
25 We will now turn to the responsibility of the
2 For all the facts that I have just had
3 mentioned, other than the shelling of Zenica, how must
4 the responsibility of the accused be assessed?
5 As a preliminary observation, the Trial
6 Chamber wishes to make two observations.
7 First is that the accused is not himself
8 charged with having committed the physical acts
9 constituting the basis of any of the crimes in the
10 indictment. In other words, General Blaskic is not
11 charged with killing a Muslim or Muslims by his own
13 The second observation is that in its
14 reflections upon the crimes imputed to the accused, the
15 Trial Chamber has taken note of the circumstances at
16 the time and particularly the possibility that crimes
17 were committed by Muslim forces. In this respect, the
18 Trial Chamber deems that it was the Chamber itself
19 which wished to hear the commanders of the 7th Muslim
20 Brigade, which was often associated with some of these
21 crimes. It is not a question here of imputing them or
22 not to such-or-such Muslim unit; notwithstanding this,
23 the Trial Chamber considers that it has received
24 evidence of atrocities committed against Croatian
25 civilians and that then the perpetrators of those
1 crimes must be prosecuted.
2 However, and this is fundamental, the Trial
3 Chamber condemns the argument which would have one
4 crime excused by another. The truly essential question
5 which arises is whether General Blaskic ordered crimes
6 to be committed or otherwise failed in his duties as a
7 commander and whether the crimes were committed as part
8 of a widespread and systematic attack against the
9 Muslim civilian population.
10 The accused ordered that attacks be launched,
11 which resulted in crimes being committed, for which he
12 is responsible for in any case, aided and facilitated
13 their commission and, moreover, did not take the
14 reasonable measures which would have allowed the crimes
15 to be prevented from being committed or the
16 perpetrators thereof to be punished.
17 Going only by the documents available to it,
18 the Trial Chamber must state in this respect that the
19 accused developed a remarkable range and number of
20 activities. In addition to the strictly military
21 activities, General Blaskic took measures relating both
22 to the protection of civilians and the channeling of
23 humanitarian aid, as well as relocating Croats and
24 Muslims. This must be said.
25 Nonetheless, this apparent intense activity
1 poorly conceals the true nature of the orders which he
2 gave to the troops under his authority and the failure
3 of his authority as regards the construct of his own
4 troops. The analysis of the facts contradicts what the
5 Defence presented as the actions of a highly
6 professional officer who never ordered crimes to be
7 committed and who, on the contrary, tirelessly strove
8 to prevent or make amends for crimes.
9 Let us first speak about the authority of the
11 It is symptomatic to notes that tension
12 between the communities continued to rise from May 1992
13 to January 1993. However, the only truly effective
14 measures taken by the accused consisted of setting up a
15 solid chain of command throughout the territories under
16 his command. The many orders produced at the hearings
17 amply demonstrate that the accused wanted to establish
18 firmly the authority of the Croatian forces in the
19 region and his own authority over all these forces.
20 On 11 May 1992, for instance, he signed an
21 order stating that, and I quote, "The only lawful
22 military units in the region of the municipality of
23 Kiseljak are the HVO units." At the same time, and
24 again I quote, "The TO," that is, the Territorial
25 Defence, "is deemed to be unlawful in this region."
1 Furthermore, the accused claimed that he
2 tried to professionalise an army made up of
3 poorly-trained troops and ascribed the crimes to
4 elements which are uncontrolled or which did not fall
5 under his command.
6 Although the evidence confirms that General
7 Blaskic did indeed concern himself with building a
8 truly well-structured army, it refutes, however -- that
9 is, the evidence refutes the theory of the lack or
10 total absence of command authority. On the contrary,
11 the information provided both by the Prosecution and
12 the Defence shows that the accused meant to intervene
13 in all areas by turning to all available forces,
14 including, for example, the civilian police where need
16 The analysis of the orders he received or
17 issued shows that General Blaskic commanded all the HVO
18 troops but also other units. Further, contrary to his
19 assertion before the Trial Chamber, the chain of
20 command operated satisfactorily.
21 Which were the troops and the other units
22 under his authority?
23 The Defence showed a chart explaining the
24 connections between the various units, and in
25 particular, the fact that the military police or some
1 independent or special units like the Vitezovi did not
2 fall under the authority of the accused but answered
3 directly to the main staff in Mostar or the HZ HB
4 Ministry of Defence. Although they may have been
5 attached to General Blaskic for point-specific
6 operations, he could not issue combat orders, he said,
7 or give them any -- take any disciplinary measures
8 against them. In any case, the authority that General
9 Blaskic might have had could have been exercised only
10 from the time the forces in question fell under his
12 The Trial Chamber categorically rejects his
13 arguments, including the semantic debate according to
14 which a "detached" or resubordinated unit was not an
15 "attached" unit, and vice versa.
16 Let us take the example of Ahmici. According
17 to the argument of the defence and the explanations of
18 the accused himself, the military police, which the
19 accused claimed were guilty of the crimes committed in
20 that village, as the accused himself said, allegedly
21 were attached to him only as of 11.42 on the 16th of
22 April, 1993, the date and time the report allegedly
23 placing the unit under General Blaskic's authority was
24 received. What actually happened was completely
1 Several pieces of evidence attest to this.
2 As of 19 January 1993, General Petkovic ordered that
3 the Vitezovi be subordinated to accused, and I quote,
4 "in all respects."
5 In addition, on 15 April 1993, at 15.00,
6 right before Central Bosnia went up in flames, the
7 Vitezovi and the military police were detached to
8 General Blaskic on orders from this same
9 General Petkovic. In the afternoon of 15 April, at
10 around 17.00, according to his own statements, the
11 accused organised a meeting with the military police
12 and Vitezovi commanders.
13 By 10.00 in the morning on the 15th of April,
14 General Blaskic had sent a "combat preparation order"
15 to the military police and the Vitezovi and the HVO
16 brigades in the Operative Zone. This order
17 specifically requested that the police ensure that
18 Muslim forces not block the main road connecting
19 Travnik and Busovaca.
20 At 15.45 on 15 April, the accused sent to the
21 Vitez HVO Brigade (the Viteska Brigade under the
22 command of Mario Cerkez), and to the 4th Military
23 Police Battalion, an order to inter alia move to the
24 highest level of combat preparation and to organise at
25 all levels an uninterrupted command system and to be
1 prepared, I quote, "to engage in defensive action."
2 On 16 April, at 1.30 in the morning, General
3 Blaskic issued a "combat order" to the Viteska Brigade
4 and to the Tvrtko independent units. The order stated
5 that they should "occupy the defence region, block the
6 villages and prevent any movement in and out." He
7 specified that the force of the 4th Military Police
8 Battalion, the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade (the HVO
9 Busovaca Brigade) and the civilian police forces were
10 also to participate in the combat. The order demanded
11 that the forces be ready for action at 5.30 in the
13 At 5.30 in the morning, Ahmici and many other
14 villages were attacked. Barely a few hours later, as
15 we know, about 100 Muslim civilians in the Ahmici and
16 other villages would be killed and burned and dozens of
17 houses set on fire.
18 General Blaskic thus took a decision and
19 ordered that his troops be launched, that is, the
20 regular HVO special, special or independent Vitezovi
21 and Tvrtko troops, the "Jokers" and military police
22 troops (or even civilian police). These troops
23 attacked towns and villages, most of which were not
24 defended, or only lightly, with the purpose of turning
25 the Lasva Valley into Croatian territory.
1 Let us take the orders that General Blaskic
2 issued for combat in the Kiseljak area.
3 Kiseljak: The accused claimed that he was
4 isolated from it, that he had communications problems,
5 and this made proper operation of the chain of command
6 problematic. I will return to this later.
7 On 17 April 1993, at 9.10 in the morning,
8 General Blaskic told the Kiseljak HVO Brigade to
9 organise the closing off of some of the villages and to
10 take control of Gomionica and Svinjarevo. In a second
11 order dated 17 April, at 23.45 hours, he ordered the
12 capture of those two villages and the launching of an
13 attack to take Bilalovac.
14 He wrote to the brigade commander that the
15 military and civilian police were to be used for the
16 cleansing, his term -- his term -- the cleansing of the
17 ground. The accused wanted to be sure that the
18 cleansing would be carried out. In orders, he fired up
19 his troops by proclaiming that in Zenica, the Muslim
20 forces were massacring the Croats and crushing them
21 with tanks. In addition, General Blaskic entrusted his
22 men with a historic mission. He told them, and I
23 quote: "Keep in mind that the lives of the Croats in
24 the Lasva region depend on your mission. This region
25 could become our grave if you do not demonstrate
2 Lastly, the accused was not as concerned with
3 the quality of his subordinates as he would have people
4 believe. The Defence thus characterised the Zuti, a
5 Frankopan HVO Brigade unit from Guca Gora, as Mafiosi.
6 However, on 4 July 1993, the accused appointed the
7 chief of the unit as deputy for the active forces in
8 the Central Bosnian Operative Zone.
9 According to General Blaskic's statements,
10 the same military police which committed the crimes in
11 Ahmici in April 1993 would be used to attack Grbavica
12 in September of that same year.
13 How did the chain of command operate?
14 To demonstrate that the accused did not have
15 the communications resources to ensure the proper
16 operation of the chain of command, the Defence put
17 forth the argument, in particular, that the accused was
18 isolated within his Vitez headquarters and that he did
19 not have a sufficient number of qualified officers
20 available to him.
21 The Trial Chamber is prepared to acknowledge
22 that General Blaskic may have had communications
23 problems, at least apparently. Many documents thus
24 record requests for escorts to go from Vitez to
25 Kiseljak, sent to UNPROFOR by General Blaskic.
1 The Trial Chamber, however, has more evidence
2 than it needs to note that the chain of command was
3 operating satisfactorily. General Blaskic did not
4 complain about an inability to communicate with his
5 superiors but rather about an inability to communicate
6 with his subordinates.
7 Moreover, these difficulties are much less
8 important than the accused claimed.
9 The Trial Chamber knows that helicopters were
10 arriving in Vitez. It can acknowledge that there was
11 relatively little radio equipment. Still, not all the
12 telephone lines had been cut. In the middle of the
13 conflict, General Blaskic was able to telephone the
14 commander of the opposing forces directly. For
15 example, several witnesses testified about the Croatian
16 authorities' control over the telephone lines in all or
17 some of the region. We also have proof that cellular
18 telephones were available.
19 An analysis of the written documents is
20 especially telling. It is interesting to note
21 discrepancies between the same documents depending on
22 whether they were produced by the Defence or produced
23 by the Prosecution. But that does not touch on the
24 heart of the issue which lies in the unbelievable
25 number of orders and reports issued or received by
1 General Blaskic. We need merely consult the reference
2 numbers provided to the Trial Chamber.
3 All of that operated very smoothly. I will
4 return to the events in Kiseljak later.
5 For example, General Blaskic said that
6 communications were not operating properly.
7 Nonetheless, on 17 April, at 9.10 in the morning, the
8 accused asked the Ban Jelacic Brigade in Kiseljak to
9 make preparations and to send a report to him by
10 23.30. On 17 April, he received the report. On 17
11 April, at 23.45, General Blaskic issued the order to
12 attack on 18 April, at 5.30 in the morning. On 18
13 April, at 5.30 in the morning, the attack effectively
15 The chronology of the events thus confirms
16 that the attacks were organised. This is clear from
17 the chronology itself and from the fact that, as the
18 accused himself acknowledged, he took no measures upon
19 learning that crimes had been committed.
20 Let us consider the period April to August
22 On 15 April, General Blaskic was in Vitez and
23 issued the orders to which we have referred.
24 On 16 April, at 1.30 in the morning, he gave
25 what we called the combat preparation order. On
1 16 April, at 5.30 in the morning, the HVO artillery
2 went into action in Vitez, Stari Vitez, Ahmici,
3 Santici, Pirici, and Nadioci. The shelling was
4 followed up immediately with infantry attacks. During
5 the morning of 16 April, the forces under the accused's
6 command attacked the municipality of Busovaca, in the
7 direction of Jelinak, Merdani, and Putis.
8 On 17 April, the attacks continued, and
9 General Blaskic prepared the assaults on the
10 municipality of Kiseljak.
11 In the small hours of 18 April, artillery was
12 again used, and, in accordance with a well-established
13 pattern, this was followed up by infantry attacks on
14 Svinjarevo, Gomionica, Visnjica, and I will not go on.
15 On 18 April, to break the Muslim resistance
16 in Stari Vitez, a truck packed with hundreds of kilos
17 of explosives blew up. On 18 April, Donja Veceriska
18 was attacked.
19 On 20 April, it was the turn of Gacice.
20 Around 20 April, General Blaskic was in control of the
21 situation. He needed to reinforce his defences, and to
22 do so, he used and would do again the Muslim detainees
23 to dig trenches, particularly on the front line.
24 The south of the municipality of Kiseljak was
25 a more fragile zone. Simply stated, General Blaskic
1 and his forces were in the west and the Serbian forces
2 in the east. The Muslim forces, however, were in the
3 north and the south. The accused launched a further
4 offensive in June. The pattern was the same:
5 Artillery followed by infantry. It was the villages of
6 Grahovci, Han Ploca, and Tulica which fell victim to
7 the crimes of his troops.
8 And when General Blaskic learned that the
9 crimes had been committed, what did he do? Nothing.
10 I will not say anything about his assertion
11 that he knew nothing of Ahmici until Colonel Stewart of
12 UNPROFOR wrote to him to inform him of the horrors he
13 had observed and demanded from him an investigation.
14 Still, what did General Blaskic do? There
15 was no serious investigation. Instead, he issued a
16 statement saying that the crimes were committed by
17 Serbian forces that had infiltrated or by the Muslims
19 And when before this Trial Chamber he accused
20 the military police, the Jokers, in particular, what
21 new information did the accused put forth? He failed
22 to say that the Jokers commander, the same Joker that
23 he is accusing, Vladimir Santic, had his office in the
24 Hotel Vitez at his headquarters. He asserted, however,
25 that he called for an investigation as early as
1 24 April. In fact, the witnesses confirmed that
2 General Blaskic did so only on the 8th of May at the
3 earliest, and I quote his written order of 10 May, in
4 which he said, "There are open rumours about the events
5 in Ahmici."
6 The accused then explained that nothing had
7 happened, that he had issued a reminder and that the
8 report transmitted to him by the Security and
9 Information Service was incomplete.
10 However, he asked for another report only on
11 the 17th of April, 1993 and was allegedly told that the
12 information had been transmitted to Mostar.
13 This satisfied General Blaskic because even
14 when, between June and October 1994, he became the HVO
15 deputy chief-of-staff, responsible in particular for
16 investigating war crimes, he took no definitive
18 Lastly, no soldier in the HVO, military
19 police, the Jokers, or any unit was ever punished for
20 the massacre at Ahmici.
21 I will compare this attitude to a very simple
22 fact. In the middle of the conflict, on the 16th of
23 April, the very day of the attack on Ahmici, General
24 Blaskic sent a protest to UNPROFOR because a United
25 Nations armoured vehicle had knocked down the fence of
1 a church.
2 There was a massive or systematic attack
3 against the Muslim civilian population.
4 The evidence produced for the Trial Chamber
5 by both the Prosecution and Defence demonstrates that
6 General Blaskic ordered attacks and actions which
7 resulted in crimes being committed for which he is
8 responsible and that he was part of a design whose
9 purpose was the persecution of the Muslim population.
10 First of all, there was a political will, and
11 then there was a policy of discrimination.
12 Political will first. It must first be
13 stated the HVO was not only a military but also a
14 civilian structure and, as such, took decisions
15 regarding the organisation of life in the town.
16 Returning to the example of Kiseljak, the municipal
17 crisis staff decided on the 25th of June that
18 the "Executive Committee of the Municipal Assembly of
19 Kiseljak shall now be called the Croatian Defence
20 Council (HVO) of Kiseljak." On 25 May, that same
21 crisis staff cancelled the bank account for the
22 Territorial Defence and ordered that a bank account be
23 opened for the Kiseljak HVO.
24 By accepting his responsibilities as HVO
25 commander for the defence of Kiseljak, but especially
1 as HVO commander for the Central Bosnia Operative Zone,
2 and then exercising these commands, General Blaskic was
3 perfectly aware that the scope of his activity was not
4 and could not be a strictly military one.
5 The nexus between the military and political
6 aspects can be seen in the ultimatums issued by Mate
7 Boban in January 1993 and by Dario Kordic in April
8 1993. These orders were limited not only to calls for
9 the municipalities of Vitez, Busovaca, or Kiseljak to
10 revert to the Croats but also demanded that the Muslims
11 lay down their arms.
12 Moreover, General Blaskic participated in
13 many public meetings alongside the politicians with
14 openly nationalistic views. Many photographs attest to
15 this fact, and several make it possible to assert that
16 the "politicians" were dressed in military uniform. On
17 22 September 1992, for instance, the accused was a
18 member of the interim Presidency, together with Dario
19 Kordic, Anto Valenta, and Ignac Kostroman, and
20 participated in the HVO meeting in the municipalities
21 of Central Bosnia during which inter alia the
22 participants requested that a Croatian bank be
24 In fact, General Blaskic was in permanent
25 contact with the politicians. Anto Valenta had his
1 office at the Hotel Vitez which, as already stated,
2 served as the accused's headquarters. During the
3 negotiations with the European Mission or with
4 UNPROFOR, General Blaskic was frequently alongside
5 Ignac Kostroman.
6 One detail is revealing: On 25 May, 1993,
7 the accused co-authored a letter with Anto Valenta in
8 which they complained to UNPROFOR that it, the ECMM,
9 the UNHCR, and the ICRC were using too many "Muslim
11 General Blaskic was perfectly well aware of
12 what policy was being followed.
13 What was this policy? It was a policy of
15 This policy clearly discriminated against
16 Muslims. Everything Muslim was to be done away with or
18 I have just spoken of the desire expressed by
19 the participants during a meeting co-chaired by the
20 accused during which demands for a Croatian bank were
21 put forward. It is interesting to note that the Muslim
22 bank in Vitez would be destroyed by an explosion the
23 day before the opening of the Croatian bank in Vitez.
24 The Muslims were systematically excluded from
25 the organs of political life.
1 The Muslim places of worship were destroyed,
2 or at least damaged or plundered. This was the case
3 for mosques whose minarets, in particular, were
4 methodically destroyed, religious centres, or even
5 those places where the dead were washed before burial.
6 Lastly, life was made impossible for the
7 Muslims because their homes were destroyed. The Trial
8 Chamber points out that this destruction was in no way
9 haphazard or caused by alleged military necessity. The
10 Muslim houses were targeted with precision because, as
11 shown in many documents, the neighbouring Croatian
12 houses were almost always left intact.
14 General Blaskic, I now ask that you rise.
15 [The accused stands]
16 JUDGE JORDA: General Blaskic, you have been
17 found guilty of all the crimes ascribed to you except
18 for the shelling of Zenica.
19 You are guilty, General Blaskic, of, between
20 1 May 1992 and 31 January 1994, having ordered in the
21 municipalities of Vitez, Busovaca, and Kiseljak, and,
22 in particular, the towns and villages of Ahmici,
23 Nadioci, Pirici, Santici, Ocehnici, Vitez, Stari Vitez,
24 Donja Veceriska, Gacice, Loncari, Grbavica, Behrici,
25 Svinjarevo, Gomionica, Gromiljak, Polje Visnjica,
1 Visnjica, Rotilj, Tulica, and Han Ploca/Grahovci, a
2 crime against humanity for persecution of the Muslim
3 civilians in Bosnia.
4 These were expressed by attacks on towns and
5 villages; murder and serious bodily injury; the
6 destruction and plunder of property and, in particular,
7 institutions dedicated to religion or education;
8 inhumane treatment of civilians and, in particular,
9 their being taken hostage and used as human shields;
10 the forcible transfer of civilians;
11 And by these same acts, in particular, as the
12 Trial Chamber said this was an international armed
13 conflict, you committed a violation of the laws or
14 customs of war which were expressed in unlawful attacks
15 on civilians; a violation of the laws or customs of
16 war, which is expressed through murders; or serious
17 violations, breaches which are covered by Article 2 of
18 the Statute, dealing with breaches of the Geneva
19 Conventions which were expressed by intentional
21 I will not go back to the number of the
22 counts. You can find them in the Judgement.
23 Through murder; through serious attacks to
24 the well-being and health of individuals; and you also
25 made yourself guilty of serious breaches dealing with
1 destruction which could be expressed as violations of
2 the laws or customs of war, destruction of property on
3 a wide scale, and without military necessity, and
4 through the plunder of private or public property.
5 You have made yourself responsible for a
6 violation of the laws or customs, specifically as
7 regards the destruction and the damaging deliberately
8 of buildings dedicated to religion or to education.
9 Lastly, many were committed under your orders, crimes
10 which were connected to the detention of individuals
11 who were under your guard after the combat; inhumane
12 treatment, cruel treatment; taking of civilians as
13 hostages; human shields.
14 In any case, as a commander, you failed to
15 take the necessary and reasonable measures which would
16 have prevented the commission of those crimes or the
17 punishment of the perpetrators thereof.
18 In order to set your sentence, General
19 Blaskic, as the Trial Chamber explains in its
20 Judgement, it took into account in determining the
21 sentence all the circumstances which may be considered
22 aggravating or mitigating. You were very young at the
23 time of the events, and you were responsible for the
24 Central Bosnia Operative Zone. The evidence presented
25 to the Trial Chamber allows it to identify the role you
1 played. It also makes clear that you alone must not
2 bear the responsibility for the atrocities committed,
3 and I say this before the Prosecutors.
4 The crimes you committed, General Blaskic,
5 are extremely serious. The acts of war, carried out
6 with disregard for international humanitarian law and
7 in hatred of other people; the villages reduced to
8 rubble; the houses and the stables set on fire and
9 destroyed; the people forced to abandon their homes;
10 and the lost and broken lives are unacceptable.
11 The International Community must not tolerate
12 such crimes, no matter where they may be perpetrated,
13 whoever the perpetrators are and whatever the motives.
14 If armed conflict is unavoidable, those who have the
15 power to take decisions and those who carry them out
16 must ensure that the most basic rules governing the law
17 of nations are respected. International courts, today
18 this Tribunal, tomorrow the International Criminal
19 Court, must appropriately punish all those, and
20 especially those holding the highest positions who
21 transgress these principles.
22 General Blaskic, you showed no respect for
23 these rules, and this is something which you know.
24 Consequently, the Trial Chamber sentences you to a
25 prison sentence of 45 years, and the period that you
1 spent in detention at the Tribunal will be deducted
2 from that figure, starting from the day that you
3 arrived in The Hague.
4 The Court stands adjourned.
5 --- Whereupon the Judgement hearing
6 adjourned at 11.43 p.m.