Case No IT-95-14
1 Friday, 21st November 1997
2 (3.00 pm)
3 JUDGE JORDA: The court is back in session. If you would
4 please bring in the accused?
5 (Accused brought in)
6 JUDGE JORDA: What about our interpreters, operational? So
7 what about the interpreters, can they hear me? Office
8 of the Prosecutor, you hear me? Mr. Blaskic, the
9 Defence, everybody can hear me, fellow judges? Great.
10 Mr. Harmon is here too now. Mr. Harmon is going to tell
11 us how this is going to be unfolding this afternoon.
12 MR. HARMON: Thank you, Mr. President. Good afternoon,
13 Mr. President, your Honours, counsel.
14 Mr. President, we intended this afternoon's session
15 to present two witnesses to your Honours, but
16 unfortunately, one of the witnesses who arrived late
17 last night and who was being prepared for this
18 afternoon's testimony became ill around noon and is
19 unable to proceed with her testimony. I regret that,
20 both for her and for the court and its desire to
21 expedite these proceedings.
22 We will be calling one witness this afternoon, the
23 witness is a protected witness and will be identified as
24 Witness L, and the examination of Witness L will be
25 conducted by my new colleague, Ms. Nancy Paterson.
1 JUDGE JORDA: So on behalf of fellow judges and myself, we
2 welcome Nancy Paterson, now a new lawyer, new form of
3 examination, so that is always good news, as it were.
4 Mr. Hayman might perhaps like to say a few words.
5 You do not mind the protective measures I assume, even
6 though perhaps you were not informed of them?
7 MR. HAYMAN: We were informed, your Honour, this afternoon,
8 by the court staff. We have no objection. I would like
9 to welcome Ms. Paterson on behalf of the Defence, but
10 note we are not getting a transcript on our monitors.
11 May I just enquire if the other parties of the court are
12 getting a reading of the transcript on their monitors?
13 JUDGE JORDA: That is right. There is no transcript
14 whatever, you are quite right, Mr. Hayman. We need those
15 transcripts, that is our memory, so Registrar, what can
16 you do for us?
17 THE REGISTRAR: In fact they are not on the screen but they
18 are out there, they do exist, so --
19 JUDGE JORDA: That is not really a satisfactory answer, I am
21 THE REGISTRAR: I will check up on it.
22 JUDGE JORDA: There you go. You really have a way of
23 getting things done, Registrar, you just need to move a
24 little bit and it falls into place. So is it Peterson
25 or Paterson? Here we go. Nancy Paterson. So madam, as
1 said you are more than welcome.
2 Now, we have worked out this new method, as you
3 probably know, last week. You are going to start by
4 telling us how long you plan on examining your witness
5 for, what your forecast is, please.
6 MS. PATERSON: Yes, Mr. President. We anticipate this witness
7 will take approximately one hour, or an hour and a half,
8 but probably not any more than that.
9 JUDGE JORDA: Fine. Now as fellow judges and myself have
10 decided, we ask for a brief account. When I say a brief
11 account, what I mean is not to tell us everything the
12 witness is going to be telling us, that would be
13 pointless, what is important is that you focus on the
14 key points in connection with the charges against
15 General Blaskic, the points that fit into your strategy,
16 what your expectations are, what this witness is going
17 to be contributing, so you do not have to be long about
18 it. On the contrary, you can just tell us "this witness
19 is important to us for this, that and the other reason",
20 and that way, the court can ensure that the Prosecution
21 -- and then one day it will be for the Defence to play
22 by the same rules -- can go down that tack. I am sure
23 you are familiar with what we are looking for. In the
24 course of the status conference, we will take stock of
25 this, but the day before yesterday I think that we
1 gained considerable time, if I dare say so, as compared
2 with the anticipations of the Prosecution.
3 Of course, considerably this does not change
4 anything, but for the judges, this enables us to be even
5 more vigilant in following exactly the key elements of
6 the hearing. So please tell us very briefly what the
7 key focus is going to be here.
8 MS. PATERSON: Yes, Mr. President. This is another civilian
9 witness who was a resident of the village of Ahmici on
10 16th April 1993. She will be telling the court about
11 the experiences of herself and her family. She will
12 describe her experiences as she and her family had to
13 flee from their house because of the advancing troops
14 that they had seen, the fires and destruction in the
15 village. She will describe for you the unfortunate
16 event when she herself was shot, from behind, by forces
17 in the village. She will describe how her mother was
18 shot and killed close to where she was shot and will
19 describe how she was rescued from that location, and
20 finally she will describe the death of some additional
21 family members. But because of the reason of her
22 anonymity, we will ask that part of her testimony at the
23 end be done in a private session, so that she can
24 discuss more openly the names of some of the family
25 members which we do not feel she can do in open court.
1 But that will be a very short part of her testimony at
2 the very conclusion of her testimony.
3 JUDGE JORDA: Fine, thank you.
4 Registrar, perhaps we could bring in Witness L.
5 (Witness entered court)
6 JUDGE JORDA: Can you hear me, Witness L? Now Witness L, we
7 are going to verify your identity. Do not tell us what
8 your name is, we just want you to look at the name we
9 have written down, but you need not say anything.
10 THE WITNESS: Yes.
11 JUDGE JORDA: Good. Now the usher is going to provide
12 you -- or the Registrar will be presenting you with the
13 solemn oath. Go right ahead.
14 WITNESS L (sworn)
15 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. Witness L, at the Prosecutor's
16 request, you have received protective measures, very
17 strict protective measures, and that means that you can
18 speak freely, without any fear, before the International
19 Tribunal, and it is for us to try General Blaskic, who
20 is in the courtroom here.
21 Now, the procedure is going to work as follows.
22 There is going to be some quick identification, but that
23 will be very quick indeed, as you are a protected
24 witness, that is to say a witness who is not to be
25 identified. You will address the court directly, and
1 you will tell us what you witnessed, starting from
2 16th April 1993, going straight to the essential things
3 you have to say, without getting tied up in details, but
4 while saying what you have to say. Now, the Prosecution
5 may occasionally interrupt you for additional questions,
6 then there will be some additional questions to clarify
7 certain points, it is just going to be a matter of
8 clarifying a few things and after that it will be the
9 counsel for the Defence, one of the counsel for the
10 Defence, who will be putting questions for you, because
11 this is an International Tribunal and we do want to hear
12 what you have to say.
13 Please, Ms. Paterson, go right ahead. First it is
14 just a matter of some preliminary information, otherwise
15 the witness can go straight into her narrative.
16 Examined by MS. PATERSON
17 Q. Yes, Mr. President. Just to clarify, the witness is
18 going to speak briefly about a few events which occurred
19 before 16th April, but most of her testimony will focus
20 on 16th April.
21 Witness L, were you a resident of the village of
22 Ahmici in Bosnia-Herzegovina on 16th April 1993?
23 A. Yes, I was.
24 Q. How old were you at that time?
25 A. 16.
1 Q. Did you live with your family in that village?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Would you explain to the court, without saying the
4 names, who the members of your family were that were
5 living with you at that time.
6 A. Yes. My father, my mother, two sisters, brother, my
7 sister-in-law and three children.
8 Q. Okay, thank you. Would you now please tell the judges
9 very briefly about some of the events that you observed
10 in your village in the days and weeks leading up to
11 16th April 1993.
12 A. Yes. In 1992, the first conflict occurred. I was 16,
13 I was in eighth grade, after I completed eighth grade,
14 I could not go to secondary school because of these
15 reasons. Around September, November, the former
16 Serbo-Croat was eliminated, nowadays it is called
17 Bosnian; then we had the Croatian language. After that,
18 there were not any significant changes until that date,
19 16th April 1993. There were not any major changes. We
20 led a normal life.
21 Q. If I can just interrupt for a minute and clarify, you
22 were explaining about the changes that occurred to the
23 school system. Did you not return to school because the
24 programme had changed and now they were forcing everyone
25 to speak the Croatian language and to follow a
1 curriculum that was based on Croatian culture?
2 A. Yes, they required all to embrace the Croatian
3 language. The new school year was supposed to be based
4 on the Croatian language.
5 Q. So for the school year of 1992, running into 1993, you
6 did not attend school at all, is that correct?
7 A. No, I did not want to accept the Croatian language, so
8 I had no opportunity.
9 Q. In the days and weeks leading up to 16th April 1993, did
10 you see any military activity in the area, did you see
11 any men in uniform, did you see any troops in the area
12 of Ahmici?
13 A. Yes, in the neighbourhood. They wore their uniforms.
14 They belonged to the HVO and they wore HVO insignia on
15 their arms. First of all I would encounter Dragan Papic
16 more often, who would go by often.
17 Q. Was Mr. Papic a Croat or a Muslim?
18 A. A Croat.
19 MS. PATERSON: Mr. Registrar, could you please show the
20 witness previously introduced exhibit number 100/2?
21 I believe that is already in evidence.
22 JUDGE JORDA: Witness L, could you please come a little
23 closer to the microphone? It is hard for the
24 interpreters to hear you.
25 MS. PATERSON: Witness L, the usher has put a picture of a
1 patch on the ELMO. Can you see it on your monitor?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Does that patch resemble the HVO patches that you saw
4 the soldiers wearing in Ahmici in 1992/1993?
5 A. Yes, but there are some differences, I mean there are
6 some things that are missing on this patch, that are not
7 displayed there.
8 Q. What is it that is missing? What did you see that was
10 A. On the right-hand corner and the left-hand corner, there
11 were two crossed rifles.
12 Q. So in the area below the yellow circle and above the
13 HVO, you saw two crossed guns, is that what you saw?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Okay. Thank you, we are finished with that exhibit.
16 Now, Witness L, prior to 16th April 1993, were any
17 members of your family involved in the Territorial
18 Defence in Ahmici?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Would you tell the court who in your family was involved
21 and what their responsibilities were within the
22 Territorial Defence?
23 A. My father and my brother, my uncle. Naturally they went
24 on guard only. They did not have enough -- I mean they
25 did not have the right kind of guns or anything.
1 Q. As part of their responsibilities within the Territorial
2 Defence, were they given weapons or did they already
3 have weapons at that time?
4 A. They did not get weapons, they had these weapons, they
5 got it from the front-line and then they would readjust
6 them, but you could not even do that properly, well.
7 Q. You said earlier that your father and brother were
8 living with you in April 1993, is that correct?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Were they both members of the Territorial Defence?
11 A. Yes.
12 MS. PATERSON: Did they both have weapons that they kept with
13 them in your house?
14 JUDGE JORDA: Ms. Paterson, the father and the brother were
15 part of the Territorial Defence, we have already heard
16 these questions and answers, I believe, so please do try
17 to move forward.
18 MS. PATERSON: Yes, Mr. President.
19 Did your father and brother have guns that they
20 kept in the house that they used when they worked with
21 the Territorial Defence?
22 A. They did not have guns, I mean both of them, they both
23 used the same weapon.
24 Q. Would you now please tell the court about the events
25 that happened on the late night of 15th April and the
1 early morning of 16th April 1993, to you and your family
2 in Ahmici?
3 A. Yes. On 15th April, we were sitting at home as usual,
4 watching television, and naturally we all went to
5 sleep. On 16th April in the morning, around 5.30 or
6 6.00, first my mother got up and she started crying and
7 that is how she woke up the rest of us, who were still
8 asleep. I got up like my older sisters, we went out to
9 see what was going on, what had happened. There was
10 shooting coming from all over. There was a lot of smoke
11 all around. Then I took the key of the summer storage,
12 where we would leave fruit and vegetables for the
13 winter. I went to unlock it to take a blanket there and
14 foam mattresses so if necessary that we could seek
15 shelter there.
16 Q. Approximately how far was this cellar, what I will refer
17 to as the vegetable cellar, from your house?
18 A. It is about 50 to 80 metres away from the house, it is
19 within the compound.
20 Q. When you went to the cellar at that time, did you go by
21 yourself or did other members of your family go with
23 A. I went there on my own.
24 Q. How long did you stay in the cellar, and continue to
25 tell the court what happened that morning.
1 A. I stayed there for about half an hour, an hour up
2 there. I could not get out straight away because when
3 I got up there it was cold because the floor is
4 concrete. It took me time to get dressed, to go to my
5 sister and my mother and my father. I went out and
6 I saw that the other houses were on fire, I saw the
7 fire, I saw the flames, I did not dare go out, there was
8 shooting from all over.
9 Q. You said that you could hear gunfire. Did there seem to
10 be any gunfire close to where you were in the cellar?
11 A. Yes, yes.
12 Q. Okay. So you stayed in the cellar because you were
13 afraid to leave because of all the shooting that was
14 going on, is that right?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Okay, but at some point in time did you then return to
17 the main house?
18 A. Yes, I did.
19 Q. Would you explain to the court what happened when you
20 went back to the main house?
21 A. When I came to the house I started having breakfast. My
22 sisters, my mummy and my sister-in-law were terrified,
23 they started crying because they saw through the window
24 what was going on.
25 Q. So at some point in time, did you and your family make a
1 decision that you needed to leave your main house and go
2 somewhere else?
3 A. Yes, we went back to the vegetable cellar again, where
4 I was on my own before that. We went back there because
5 we thought it was safer.
6 Q. When you say "we", who do you mean?
7 A. I meant my family, my mother, father, my sisters, my
8 aunt, my uncle, my sister-in-law with her children.
9 Q. So all those people then went to this vegetable cellar
10 near the house, is that right?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. How long did you all stay in the vegetable cellar at
13 that point?
14 A. We did not stay very long, we stayed only for a short
15 while, 15 minutes to half an hour, because it was not
16 safe there.
17 Q. Why was it not safe?
18 A. Because there was more and more fire all over the
19 village. After that, we could not find a way out, we
20 could not get out. None of us could get out then. Then
21 we would stay there and what would happen then?
22 Q. Okay, so at some point in time, did you make a decision
23 that you then needed to leave this vegetable cellar and
24 go somewhere else?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Okay, would you tell the court what happened when you
2 decided to leave the cellar?
3 A. When we set out, we decided to get out of there, to
4 leave. There was no other way out. We went through the
5 forest, which went through that area. Behind our backs
6 was the house of Vlatko Kupreskic. From there we heard
7 cursing, provocations. Then, after what they said,
8 these curses, these provocations, then bursts of gunfire
9 started, so they were shooting at us. Fortunately the
10 first burst of gunfire did not harm anyone. I lay down
11 immediately. The second burst of gunfire hit my mother,
12 who was shot dead.
13 The second burst of gunfire got me. My leg, the
14 bullet went through the bone in two places, so I had two
15 wounds on that leg. Below my knee and above my knee.
16 Q. Let me just ask you a couple of questions before you
17 continue. You said that as you were running away from
18 the cellar, you went through the woods for a distance
19 and then you heard some people shouting at you, is that
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Could you tell where these people were, where this sound
23 was coming from, the people that were shouting at you?
24 A. From the house of Vlatko Kupreskic, because only his
25 house was behind us.
1 Q. Okay, and during the time that you were running from the
2 cellar until the point you and your mother were hit, was
3 there constant gunfire around you or when you got to a
4 certain point, did the gunfire start?
5 A. Only when we got to a certain point, a certain place,
6 that is when they started shooting at us directly.
7 MS. PATERSON: At this time, Mr. Registrar, I would ask the
8 usher to show the witness Exhibit 139, which has been
9 premarked as 139. Copies have been provided to Defence
10 counsel and to the judges. Would you just give that to
11 the witness and not put it on the ELMO, please?
12 Witness L, this is an enlargement of an aerial
13 photograph and you have seen this exhibit before, have
14 you not?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. The judges and Defence counsel have a copy of this so
17 they can follow along. Can you just explain what is
18 marked number 1 on this exhibit? What does that
20 A. This is my house.
21 Q. Okay, so the area that is circled and marked by number 1
22 is the approximate location of your house, is that
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. What is represented by number 2X on this photograph?
1 A. That is the place where this fruit and vegetable cellar
3 Q. Okay, and what is represented by number 3 on the
5 A. That is the house of Vlatko Kupreskic.
6 Q. Okay, what is represented by number 4 on the diagram?
7 A. The place of these events, the place of the wounding.
8 Q. So number 4 is the approximate location where you were
9 shot and where your mother was killed?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Okay. If you could set aside the photograph for the
12 time being, we will refer back to it in a few moments.
13 Thank you.
14 You said when you reached a certain point, as you
15 were running through this field, you heard some bursts
16 of gunfire, is that right?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. In one of the first bursts of gunfire your mother was
19 shot, is that correct?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. From where you were located, were you actually able to
22 see your mother shot, were you able to see her hit and
23 fall down?
24 A. Yes, because it happened right next to me, maybe five or
25 six steps away from me.
1 Q. Do you know, could you tell from where you were whether
2 your mother died instantly or whether it took some time
3 for her to die?
4 A. My sister was in front of her and I was behind her. My
5 sister just cried out and she said, "mummy is dying",
6 and she fell down, and then after that, after some time,
7 I managed to get really close to her.
8 Q. Were you able to see yourself the fact that your mother
9 was dead or did someone inform you of that?
10 A. I was able to see myself, because shortly after that
11 I managed to get close to her, so I could see her.
12 Q. Okay, and then it was shortly after your mother was shot
13 that you were also shot, is that correct?
14 A. Yes, how shall I put it, it was just one burst of
15 gunfire after the other.
16 Q. Were you able to tell from what direction the gunfire
17 was coming?
18 A. From the house of Vlatko Kupreskic.
19 Q. From where you were located, were you able to see anyone
20 shooting at you?
21 A. We had our backs turned to them, we did not dare turn
22 around, because we were just trying to save ourselves.
23 But that was the only house behind us, his house.
24 Q. So basically you concluded the gunfire was coming from
25 Vlatko Kupreskic's house because you could hear it
1 coming from direction but you could not necessarily see
2 anyone shooting, is that right?
3 A. Yes, that is right.
4 Q. Again referring to exhibit number 139, number 3 on that
5 exhibit is the house of Vlatko Kupreskic and number 4 is
6 the location where you were shot, is that correct, again
7 looking at the aerial photograph?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Okay. Would you now continue to tell the court what
10 happened after you were shot? What events transpired
11 after that?
12 A. Next to me there was only my father, he was two steps
13 away from me, below me, so he started dragging me by my
14 legs in order to shelter me. Then he went over to my
15 mother and he took her in his lap, and at that moment,
16 one of our neighbours happened to pass by. I do not
17 know how to say, but he was a very kind man, he helped
18 me. He shouted at me, and he came quickly, he came
19 running over to me, and he asked me what had happened to
20 me, and I told him I had been wounded. Then first he
21 went over to my mother and my father, and he realised
22 that my mother was dead and at that moment I was next to
23 my mother and I saw her.
24 Then this neighbour told my father to let her go,
25 that she was dead, and that they had to help me, and
1 then my father told him to help me and that he would
2 come shortly, so I went with him, with this neighbour.
3 Shortly after that, my father joined us, and they helped
4 me move out from that place, but we just managed to get
5 just a little bit further. Then my uncle took over.
6 Q. Let me just interrupt for a moment and ask a couple of
7 questions. After those first two or three bursts of
8 gunfire when you and your mother were hit, did the
9 gunfire continue or did it stop at that point?
10 A. No, it continued in the area, but it was not aimed
11 directly at us any longer. My sisters and my
12 sister-in-law managed to escape, to find shelter, but we
13 could still hear the shooting somewhere around.
14 Q. When the shooting was going on, was it just you and your
15 family that was in that field, or did you see other
16 people from the village in the area as well?
17 A. Well my family was there and together with us there was
18 a man with his wife and child, actually some elderly
19 people who were from Prjedor and one more family that
20 was with us.
21 Q. You said that among your family members with you that
22 day were the children of your brother and sister-in-law,
23 is that right?
24 A. Yes, that is right.
25 Q. What were the approximate ages of those children?
1 A. The eldest son was two years old, two and a half years
2 old approximately, and the daughter could have been
3 between a year and a year and a half years old, and the
4 third child, a daughter, was very small, she could have
5 been maybe not even a year -- she could not walk.
6 Q. So those three children were with you and the rest of
7 the family when you were in the field, when those bursts
8 of gunfire were going on around you, is that right?
9 A. Yes, that is right.
10 Q. But other than you and your mother, was anyone else from
11 your family struck by any of the bullets?
12 A. From my family, no, but there was this neighbour who was
13 with us and he was hit in the neck by a burst of
15 Q. Okay, now you said that after it became apparent that
16 your mother had died, that your father and a neighbour
17 came and helped you. Could you then tell the court what
18 happened after they came to help you? Did you
19 understand my question?
20 A. No, I am just trying to but ...
21 Q. Just take your time. After you were shot and injured,
22 you said that your father came to you and a neighbour
23 came to you to help you. I assume that you could not
24 walk because of your injuries, is that right?
25 A. Yes, that is right.
1 Q. Okay, so what did your father and this other man do, did
2 they help you get away from that location?
3 A. Yes, they did. Yes, they helped me.
4 Q. Okay, please tell the court where they took you and how
5 they were able to help you get away from that location?
6 A. My father took me from one side by my arm and the
7 neighbour helped me on the other side and then very
8 slowly I could walk on one leg, but the other leg was
9 hit directly in the bone. So we went over to a shelter,
10 to the house, the house where we had found shelter
11 before, I mean the house where we were supposed to find
12 shelter, so while he was carrying me -- it was actually
13 my uncle who took me over, and then after him it was my
14 neighbour, one neighbour from Prjedor who helped me to
15 get closer to the house, to climb over the fence. So
16 that is how they carried me to the house, and I lay down
17 on the mattress and they were trying to help me. They
18 tried to stop the bleeding, because I was bleeding
20 Q. Okay, could you describe to the court what the situation
21 was in the house where they took you? Were there other
22 people there? Can you just describe in general what the
23 conditions were like?
24 A. In the house there were some girls, some women with
25 children, some elderly women as well, whoever had
1 managed to come there from the road, people who had
2 managed to find shelter there. There was a large room
3 in that house where there was water pipe and there was a
4 small corridor and another room where they bandaged my
5 wounds, where they gave me first aid.
6 Q. Do you have any idea approximately how many other people
7 were at this house that they took you to?
8 A. I do not know how to put it, how to explain that,
9 because people were coming one by one, trying to find
10 shelter there, because -- people were coming from the
11 lower part of the village, those who had managed to
13 Q. So did it appear that people were coming from all
14 different parts of Ahmici, from the different villages
15 around Ahmici and they all seemed to be gathering at
16 this same approximate location, at this house where you
18 A. Yes, there were many refugees there, refugees from
19 Karaula, Turbe, Jajce. Most of them were people from
20 our area, people who had come from the main road up to
21 the house, so that is the distance I am talking about.
22 Q. All the people that were at this house where you were
23 taken, were they all Muslim people?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. You and your family, were you Muslims as well?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. When you were in the field and the bullets were being
3 shot at you, were the other people with you in the field
4 Muslims? Did you understand my question?
5 A. It is not quite clear to me what field you are talking
7 Q. I am referring to the field where you were shot and
8 where your mother was killed, when there were those
9 bursts of gunfire there. The other people that were
10 with you who were also being shot at, were they also
12 A. Yes, together with me there were some Muslims, of
14 Q. Okay. Witness L, I would like to direct your attention
15 again to exhibit number 139, the aerial photograph that
16 is on the table in front of you. Would you just look at
17 that again for a moment? Is the area marked by number 5
18 encircled, does that represent the approximate area of
19 the house where you were taken after you were shot, the
20 house you have just described where these other people
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Just to clarify, number 4 is the approximate location
24 where you were shot, is that right?
25 A. Yes, approximately. This is the distance.
1 JUDGE JORDA: Please not too many repetitions, Ms. Paterson.
2 It has already been said, and also primarily for the
3 witness's own sake.
4 MS. PATERSON: Yes, Mr. President.
5 Witness L, would you continue to tell the court
6 what happened when you were taken to this house. You
7 said they administered some first aid. What basically
8 happened after you got to that location?
9 A. They transferred me to another room, where other wounded
10 people were placed, other women and children, and also
11 other villagers from Ahmici, and then in about two or
12 three hours maybe, even four, I do not remember exactly
13 what time it was, I was bleeding heavily, and in the
14 meantime, UNPROFOR arrived, they got to the house.
15 Q. Do you have any recollection of approximately what time
16 it was when UNPROFOR came to the house?
17 A. Approximately, as far as I could tell, I think it could
18 have been 1.00, 1.00 in the afternoon.
19 Q. Do you have any idea approximately what time it was that
20 you were shot and that your mother was killed?
21 A. It must have been around 8.00 -- between 7.30 and 9.00.
22 It is difficult for me to tell you precisely at what
23 time it was.
24 Q. So between 7.30 and 9.00 in the morning?
25 JUDGE JORDA: Do you think this is really that relevant,
1 Ms. Paterson?
2 MS. PATERSON: With all due respect, Mr. President, yes,
3 I do. I would not be asking the questions if I did not
4 think they were important. We just have a little bit
5 more testimony to go and then I will be asking you to go
6 into the short private session.
7 JUDGE JORDA: Fine, I can go along with that, but still you
8 have to see things in a relative light. You have to
9 bear the purpose in mind. This is not an investigation
10 into the unfortunate death of the mother of the witness,
11 so please, it is just a matter of sticking to the
12 essentials. So maybe Witness L could go on with her
13 narrative and then you could go on with clarifications
14 also because it is quite an ordeal for the witness, so
15 please, from the arrival of UNPROFOR, could you go on
16 and tell us in your own words what happened thereafter.
17 Please proceed, Witness L.
18 A. Yes, I will. When UNPROFOR came to the house where we
19 were staying they got in immediately. They came to the
20 room where we were and they dressed our wounds, to me
21 and to other wounded persons who were there in the same
22 room with me. Again they administered first aid, and
23 then they took us to their APCs, which then transported
24 us to Bila, where UNPROFOR had its own hospital. Again,
25 they gave us medical help and we were given infusions,
1 some injections, they took X-rays of the fractures and
2 so on, so we stayed there until about 6.00, and again
3 UNPROFOR took us to the hospital in Travnik and that is
4 where we were admitted.
5 MS. PATERSON: How long did you have to stay in the hospital
6 after you were admitted? Altogether how long did you
7 stay in the hospital?
8 A. I stayed there at Travnik hospital about 20 days and
9 then after I was transferred to Zenica, to the hospital
10 in Zenica, where I stayed an additional -- for maybe a
11 month or so.
12 MS. PATERSON: Mr. President, I think it is at this time that
13 it would be appropriate to go into a short private
14 session, because the questions I need to ask her might
15 in some ways identify who this witness is, so probably
16 just a five or ten minute session.
17 JUDGE JORDA: No objection on the part of the Defence,
18 I take it. So at the request of the parties, we are
19 going to have a private session, so Witness L, you will
20 still be subject to the very strict protective measures
21 we have taken and in addition, we will be in camera, as
22 it were, so that you may speak even more freely and you
23 will not endanger anyone. Please, Mr. Registrar?
24 (In closed session)
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19 (In open session)
20 JUDGE JORDA: Go right ahead. This is an open session now.
21 Cross-examined by MR. NOBILO
22 Q. Thank you.
23 Good evening, Witness L, my name is Anto Nobilo
24 and together with my colleague Russell Hayman, I am
25 defending General Blaskic. I would like to put a few
1 questions to you. We are in open session once again and
2 there are not going to be any questions related to your
3 person. Do you understand what I am saying? You do not
4 need interpretation. What language am I speaking?
5 A. Croatian.
6 Q. You understand Croatian?
7 A. I do.
8 Q. Tell me, you had two older sisters?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Did they go to secondary school?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Did they go on to secondary school in 1992?
13 A. In 1992 my sister, the one after me, the older sister of
14 us all, I mean, she had finished school a long time ago,
15 I mean before all of this. Then the other sister
16 finished in 1990, when I finished eighth grade and she
17 completed fourth grade of elementary school then.
18 Q. So why did you not want to go to school then when they
19 changed the name of the language, because you did not
20 understand it or was it a way of protest?
21 A. Because I could not accept it myself, the Croat
22 language, when I could not go to school on my own, my
23 generation and the people before us, they did not want
24 to accept that language.
25 Q. Is it the same language or is it another language?
1 A. I mean this Croat language.
2 Q. You think that these are two languages?
3 A. No, I mean it is similar, but I do not know.
4 Q. But it is not the same language?
5 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo, the witness has answered your
6 question. You are not going to go into an in-depth
7 discussion about the differences between the two
8 languages. Please move on to another question.
9 MR. NOBILO: I apologise, I am sorry. I am always upset when
10 young people are indoctrinated, but that is not the
11 subject of this trial. Tell me, you told me that your
12 father and brother were in the Territorial Defence?
13 A. Yes.
14 JUDGE JORDA: Do not jump to any premature conclusions. We
15 are not interested in your opinions for the time being,
16 sir. Go ahead with your questions.
17 MR. NOBILO: Yes, I just wish to recall the following. The
18 witness said her father and brother were in the
19 Territorial Defence, so I am putting the following
21 Your brother and father, did they perhaps move
22 into the BH army while you were in Ahmici?
23 A. The BH army, I mean it was not established just like
24 that while we were still in Ahmici. They were only
25 established later as the army, then they were still the
1 Territorial Defence of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
2 Q. Was not your brother a policeman?
3 A. Only afterwards he got that rank.
4 Q. Not a rank, was your brother on the police?
5 A. After that he was in the police force.
6 Q. So not before these events, these events of 16th April
8 A. Some time around the 16th or 17th, that is when he
9 accepted I think to be on the police force.
10 Q. On the day of April 16th, was your brother a member of
11 the police force?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. On 15th April, was he in the police force?
14 A. I do not know the exact day when he joined.
15 Q. The night between 15th and 16th April, was your brother
16 at home?
17 A. No.
18 Q. Where was he?
19 A. It depends which duties they all had where they were.
20 Q. Where was your brother assigned?
21 A. In Vitez.
22 Q. Where, as a soldier?
23 A. I do not know, I was not in Vitez, I could not tell
24 where he was.
25 Q. So the night between 15th and the 16th, your brother was
1 not with you, he was in Vitez assigned as a soldier?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Was that the first night that he was not with you?
4 A. What do you mean, was that the first night?
5 Q. Was it the first time that he went on duty to Vitez?
6 A. I do not know. To tell you the truth, I did not
7 understand all of that very well, I did not know about
8 all of that, I was a child, I was too young to know all
9 of that.
10 JUDGE JORDA: Let me remind you, at the time of the events,
11 the witness was all of 16, Mr. Nobilo.
12 MR. NOBILO: I am just asking whether any other night before
13 the 15th her brother was out of the house on duty, that
14 is all.
15 If you remember, fine.
16 A. How can I remember? We lived in one part of the house
17 and he -- I mean downstairs. He had his family that he
18 took care of.
19 Q. Before, you told the investigators from the Office of
20 the Prosecutor:
21 "My brother was a policeman in Stari Vitez and he
22 was not at home on the night between the 15th and 16th."
23 Is that true?
24 A. Yes, I said that he was in the police, but when he
25 joined the police, I tell you, I was very young and I do
1 not think I understood very seriously what it was all
2 about, et cetera.
3 Q. Thank you. When you were in this vegetable cellar, you
4 said that shooting was coming from all over.
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Can you tell me from what directions most of the
7 shooting came? Was shooting coming from all sides
8 literally, or from upper Ahmici or lower Ahmici?
9 A. The shoots were ringing out from the entrance to Ahmici,
10 what we call lower Ahmici, and also from Zume and also
11 from way up from upper Ahmici, I mean it is all around.
12 Q. So in lower Ahmici, from Zume and from upper Ahmici.
13 Tell me, when Vlatko Kupreskic was cursing your family,
14 did you see his face?
15 A. No, I did not say that, I said it was coming from his
16 house. I am not claiming it was him exactly, because
17 his house was behind my back. I did not see him.
18 Q. But did you recognise his voice or not?
19 A. No, I really was not up to it. I did not feel like
20 recognising voices, because I was trying to save my
22 Q. So you only know that it was coming from his house. At
23 the moment when you were shot, when you were wounded --
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. -- which direction were you facing?
1 A. I was in the forest.
2 Q. But where, were you facing upper Ahmici or some other
3 direction when you were wounded?
4 A. Let me just think.
5 JUDGE JORDA: It is a bit of a complicated question, is it
6 not, Mr. Nobilo?
7 MR. NOBILO: It takes a bit of time.
8 JUDGE JORDA: She was 16, she was wounded; four years later
9 she is being asked which way she was facing; that may be
10 just a wee bit complicated, do you not think?
11 MR. NOBILO: I agree, but I have to try. If she can
12 recollect, fine, but if she cannot ...
13 A. How can I remember, I was lying --
14 Q. If you cannot remember, it is all right, let us go on.
15 I agree.
16 When you came to upper Ahmici, were there any HVO
17 soldiers there, did you see them?
18 A. No, I did not go up there at all.
19 Q. When you came to the shelter, before you came to the
21 A. Before I came to the shelter, how should I put this,
22 this was my neighbourhood and the women and children
23 were protected, you know.
24 Q. So it was only Muslims?
25 A. Yes, and I could not see further on because I was
1 carried there.
2 Q. So who protected these women and children? Who did you
3 see protecting the women and children out of the Muslims
4 who had weapons? Who was protecting the shelter?
5 A. What do you mean, who did I see and who was protecting
7 Q. Did you see any Muslims armed with weapons, one of your
8 neighbours, protecting women and children?
9 A. Yes, they were standing near that house, but they did
10 not have enough weapons and all of that.
11 Q. Who was standing there with not enough weapons? Do you
12 remember the names?
13 A. Believe me, I do not know how to put this, all of this
14 was very fast and my leg was bleeding, you know, I was
15 being moved from one set of hands to another.
16 Q. You know there was someone who was there protecting you
17 with not enough weapons?
18 A. Yes, but there were too few people, five or six people.
19 There were four people who were taking me over, one
20 after another and the fifth one carried me in.
21 Q. Your uncle, did he have weapons?
22 A. My uncle had a rifle with a twisted barrel, I mean, it
23 had been fired before that.
24 Q. And the neighbour from Prjedor, did he have weapons?
25 A. No.
1 Q. While you were in the shelter --
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. -- did you hear gunfire from your immediate vicinity?
4 A. Naturally you could hear shooting until UNPROFOR came.
5 When UNPROFOR came, then things went quiet.
6 Q. And the wounded who were in the shelter, were they men?
7 A. There were three of us there, an older man, really
8 older, and another one was somewhat younger, so it was
9 two men and me only, so while I was still there, there
10 was three of us.
11 Q. Were there any beds in this shelter?
12 A. No.
13 Q. Stretchers?
14 A. No, blankets.
15 Q. Blankets. Did you have iodine, bandages and first aid
16 equipment and kits?
17 A. There were very few bandages. They even had to put wax
18 paper on my wounds so that I would not spoil so many
20 MR. NOBILO: Just a minute, please. (Pause). Thank you,
21 Mr. President, we have thus concluded our questioning.
22 JUDGE JORDA: Ms. Paterson, is there something you would like
23 to add.
24 Re-examined by MS. PATERSON
25 Q. Yes, your Honour, very briefly. Just two questions.
1 Witness L, I believe Mr. Nobilo said during his
2 questioning of you that your brother was a soldier on
3 duty in Vitez. Was your brother a soldier or was he a
5 A. It was only that he -- I mean I did not quite understand
6 the events, but it was only after that he became a
7 policeman, a civilian policeman. I mean after that,
8 after he went -- I do not know how he went to Vitez and
9 how he ended up there. I do not quite understand what
11 Q. But on 16th April, is it your understanding that your
12 brother was a policeman in Vitez?
13 A. Well first he was like -- as far as I can remember,
14 first he was like a soldier and then later, I do not
15 know when, he went to Vitez or maybe it was before that,
16 I do not remember exactly. He was a military policeman
17 and then after that, he joined the civilian police
19 Q. So when you are saying he was a military policeman, was
20 this when he did his mandatory JNA service, or was this
21 in 1992 and 1993?
22 A. In 1993, I think that -- no, in 1992 he was a simple
23 soldier, he was wounded in the spinal area, so he had
24 some privileges and then he joined the police force,
25 I mean the military police.
1 Q. Okay. Just one other thing, you said that when you were
2 at the shelter after you had been wounded when UNPROFOR
3 came, it got very quiet. Can you explain what you mean
4 by that?
5 A. I meant to say, I think the HVO stopped shooting while
6 UNPROFOR was there, and, of course, after UNPROFOR left,
7 I left with them, so I do not know what happened after
8 that. I do not know whether they continued or what
9 happened, because I left with UNPROFOR.
10 MS. PATERSON: Thank you. I have no further questions, your
12 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. Let me turn to fellow judges.
13 Judge Riad, do you have some questions?
14 JUDGE RIAD: Good afternoon, I will call you Witness L, as
15 you know. No names should be mentioned. Please feel
16 free to answer any question or not to answer, because,
17 of course, you were quite young when these events
18 happened. But I think you are sufficiently conscious of
19 what is happening, so at least you can answer some
21 What was the majority of the people living in
22 Ahmici? Were they Muslims?
23 A. There were Muslims and Croats.
24 Q. Were they divided in the village or in the town,
25 sections for the Muslims and sections where the Croats
1 are living?
2 A. Well in the lower part -- near the mosque, there were
3 only Muslims, and in the other part of the village, the
4 population was mixed, Muslims and Croats, so from the
5 upper mosque, there were only Muslims and below the
6 mosque, the population was mixed.
7 Q. When you left school in 1992, you left it as a protest
8 against the change of curriculum and that you said they
9 changed the language and the culture. What do you mean
10 by the change of culture? What was the culture taught
11 in the schools and what was it changed into? Did you
12 understand what it was about when you took this
13 decision? Did they try to completely avoid or discard
14 the Bosniak culture or the Muslim traditions? What
15 happened exactly?
16 A. Well, I do not know what was happening exactly, but
17 I mean I do not know how to tell you.
18 Q. All right. Now when you were shot at and your mother
19 was shot at, I noted that you mentioned that, even
20 I wrote your sentence, translated to English:
21 "There was one burst of gunfire after the other,
22 coming from the direction of Vlatko Kupreskic's house."
23 So Vlatko Kupreskic's house was a Croat house,
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Was the shooting aimed at you specifically or was it
2 just shooting at anybody that was moving there?
3 A. At that moment, nobody was moving except for us, and we
4 were all standing close to each other.
5 Q. Because you said your sister and her small children and
6 other man and wife of the child, all of them were either
7 killed or wounded and so on, so you were all in one
8 group and the group was shot at?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Women and children and everything?
11 A. Yes, we had set out together and they started cursing
12 us, it was coming from Vlatko Kupreskic's house, and
13 then at that moment we were trying to escape and at that
14 moment I lay down on the ground, and while I was lying
15 down on the ground, my leg was bent and that is how the
16 burst of gunfire caught me.
17 Q. Was your brother with you at that time?
18 A. No.
19 Q. He was not with you?
20 A. No, he was not.
21 Q. You mentioned that he was in the military police. Which
22 military police was that? Do you know, was it the BH,
23 was it the Yugoslav army before? What was that? What
24 is the military police?
25 A. That was this BH, I mean they were manning the
1 checkpoints. I do not know what exactly they were,
2 I just know that it was the BH, but I do not know
4 Q. Was he engaged in any fight with Vlatko Kupreskic or
5 with anybody from the Croat community?
6 A. You mean in the neighbourhood?
7 Q. Yes.
8 A. No.
9 Q. When you spoke of when your grandfather and grandmother
10 died and were burnt alive in the house, you said that
11 they died or they were burnt alive because they remained
12 behind when other people left and as you said exactly,
13 you said that the HVO came to set fire on the remaining
14 houses which remained after the exodus and after the
15 firing. Is that, according to you, there was a plan to
16 burn all the Muslim houses, this is why they returned to
17 finish them up?
18 A. I do not know what kind of plan they had in mind, but
19 they had intentions, I mean that day, judging from the
20 area around while I was still there, there were houses
21 that were on fire and while I was still there, I saw
22 some -- I saw actually quite a few houses that had been
23 burnt down. I even passed by some houses that --
24 Q. You said they returned after that, after you left to
25 make sure that all the houses were burnt; that is what
1 I understood. Is that what you meant when your
2 grandfather was burnt alive?
3 A. No, not my grandfather, my grandfather was killed, he
4 had come back to my mother's body, where she remained.
5 That is where he was killed, on that spot.
6 Q. Then who were the grandparents who were there when they
7 came to burn the houses? I noted down that, the
8 grandparents and an uncle.
9 MS. PATERSON: Your Honours, if I could interrupt for just a
10 moment, could we possibly go off the record?
11 JUDGE JORDA: What is the reason to go off the record?
12 MS. PATERSON: Your Honour, I just want to bring to the
13 court's attention that Judge Riad is venturing into an
14 area that was some of the testimony that we dealt with
15 in the private session. That was part of the reason for
16 doing it in the private session, was to keep some of
17 this information confidential. I would just like to
18 bring that to your attention and ask you to be careful
19 in how the questions are framed so we do not
20 inadvertently identify anyone. Thank you.
21 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. Judge Riad?
22 JUDGE RIAD: I fully realise that, but I think many people
23 have got grandparents, so I do not think this is a
24 secret. I think I have finished, thank you.
25 JUDGE JORDA: Fine, now I do not have any questions either,
1 so Witness L, you have done quite well. What is your
2 health like now, it is good, is it?
3 A. Yes, it is.
4 JUDGE JORDA: I am not going to ask you what you are up to,
5 because we do not want to identify you in any way. You
6 are young, you were young at the time of these great
7 sufferings, and all we can do is to hope that your life
8 will be fulfilled in the future.
9 Now I think we are going to adjourn. There are no
10 further witnesses this afternoon, are there, Office of
11 the Prosecutor?
12 MR. HARMON: No, Mr. President, there are not.
13 JUDGE JORDA: Right. That was why we did not have a
14 recess. This session is closed and we are going to
15 resume Monday at 10.00.
16 (4.55 pm)
17 (Hearing adjourned until 10.00 am
18 on Monday, 24th November 1997)