1 Tuesday, 9th December 1997
2 (12.00 pm)
3 JUDGE JORDA: The hearing is resumed. Mr. Registrar, please
4 have the accused brought in.
5 (Accused brought in)
6 JUDGE JORDA: Good morning, everybody. I believe that the
7 interpretation booths are ready, they have already
8 worked a good part of the morning, but we are to thank
9 them, we are going to work for about an hour now and
10 continue with the cross-examination of the witness.
11 Does everybody hear? All right then, we can begin. Who
12 will be doing the cross-examination? Mr. Nobilo?
13 MR. NOBILO: It will be me, Mr. President.
14 MS. ADVIJA HRUSTIC (continued)
15 Cross-examined by MR. NOBILO
16 Q. Good afternoon, Madam Hrustic, I am Anto Nobilo and
17 together with my colleague Mr. Russell Hayman, we are the
18 Defence counsel for Mr. Blaskic and we have some
19 questions for you.
20 You said that the director assembled all the
21 teachers and said that you would be teaching in
22 Croatian. What does that mean in practical terms, have
23 you changed anything?
24 A. I have not changed anything really, but the curriculum
25 was the same, but the Serbo-Croatian language which we
1 were using up until then, it was not Bosnian. We could
2 not use, we had to use Croatian, so the curriculum will
3 stay the same, except for the Serbo-Croatian language,
4 that was changed into Croatian language and also the
5 language was changed into Croatian.
6 Q. But in practical terms, have you changed the language
7 that you had spoken up until then in your teaching?
8 A. Myself, no, I did not.
9 Q. Thank you.
10 A. Because I was teaching English.
11 Q. But you had to be speaking also in Bosnian?
12 A. When I was translating from English into Bosnian, I was
13 told to use the Croatian terminology and we were also
14 using the Croatian text books for English.
15 Q. Now the soldiers with oak leaves who in your phone
16 conversation told you they were from Herzegovina. Could
17 you determine how much in terms of time, how much
18 earlier before this conflict of 20th April were you
19 talking to them?
20 A. I think I talked to them some time in November, so they
21 were there since the fall, somewhere around there.
22 Q. This was November 1992?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Can you tell me, when did you stop seeing them?
25 A. When I left Vitez.
1 Q. So you saw them throughout that period?
2 A. They were there throughout this period. We could see
3 them, we could observe them. They were accommodated in
4 the Slobodan Princip Selo factory and in the school and
5 we could observe them, we could see them.
6 Q. Apart from checking your IDs when you were passing, did
7 you personally see any act of violence on the part of
8 these soldiers with the oak leaves on their arms?
9 A. You mean the checkpoint at our village?
10 Q. No, before that.
11 A. Those men were together with the men who were, say,
12 surrounding the marketplace. We could see them around
13 the town, not in columns, not in big groups, but we
14 could see them together with the HVO military around
16 Q. But apart from the cases when they turned over the
17 stalls on the marketplace, have you noticed any acts of
18 violence towards civilians on the part of these men?
19 A. I do not recall.
20 Q. A day or two before the attack on Ahmici, and the
21 surrounding villages, did you observe any troop
22 movements, some unusual larger movements?
23 A. No.
24 Q. Could you describe to us what the location of your
25 hamlet was in relationship to the Slobodan Princip Selo
2 A. In what respect?
3 Q. Were you in the high ground on the hill immediately
4 above the factory?
5 A. Yes, I could see the compound. We were to the left of
6 this factory.
7 Q. Could we say that your village borders on the fence
8 which is where the compound of the factory begins?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Could we say that Donje Veceriska, lower Veceriska, over
11 on the other hill, was also adjoining the Slobodan
12 Princip Selo factory?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. In the examination-in-chief, you told the Prosecutor
15 that there were six to seven soldiers in the village.
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. How many inhabitants did the village have altogether, if
18 you know?
19 A. I do not.
20 Q. Do you know how many households there were in the
22 A. Altogether there were about 100, that is Serbian,
23 Croatian and Muslim.
24 Q. How many Muslim households out of these 100?
25 A. About 40 or 45.
1 Q. So the Muslims were not a majority, or were they?
2 A. No, they were not. We were pretty evenly split. I do
3 not know exactly, the exact number of households, but it
4 was about even.
5 Q. Do you know how many military conscripts there were in
6 your village, men of a military age, I mean
8 A. About 30.
9 Q. Who was the commander of the BiH army units in your
11 A. Nermin Hrustic.
12 Q. Who was the deputy commander?
13 A. Nihad Hrustic.
14 Q. Do you know the unit that he commanded, or to what
15 brigade did he belong?
16 A. That was not a unit, it was simply they were just like
17 representatives of the local commune, they were the
18 representatives of our village on military issues. When
19 there were negotiations with the Croats, when we
20 received the ultimatum from the Croats, these people
21 were elected on behalf of the village population to
22 negotiate. They were not part of any unit, they were
23 not part of any military because we did not have any
24 military unit in the village.
25 Q. Ms. Hrustic, were you on 4th May 1993 -- did you give a
1 statement to the 308th Mountain Brigade of the BiH army?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Did you say, and I will quote this in English and you
4 will get:
5 "The commanding officer of the unit of the Bosnian
6 army was Hrustic Nesad who was absent and his deputy
7 Hrustic Nihad refused the ultimatum to surrender the
9 A. Yes, but that was in a sense of commander, that is the
10 representative of the Bosnian side.
11 Q. But here it says, "to the military authorities", you
12 speak about the military authorities and you say that he
13 was the commander of the unit of the Bosnian army, that
14 Nihad Hrustic was that.
15 A. When you say the Croatian side, you name a name. If you
16 say the Bosnian side, I cannot tell you because I am not
17 a strategist, but I know that we did not have any units
19 Q. Did you have a radio transmitter there?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Where was it located?
22 A. I do not know, I do not know exactly right now. It was
23 an improvised radio transmitter, because we had pretty
24 good people who were trained in the former JNA to handle
25 these things. In any event, it did not operate because
1 we did not establish any contact.
2 Q. I am going to read you another portion of the statement
3 that you gave to the military authorities immediately
4 upon your departure from Vitez:
5 "During the attack on the village, the house of
6 Hrustic Mahmut was destroyed. In the house was a radio
7 station and the deputy commander Hrustic Nihad. They
8 were both killed by the grenade which destroyed the
10 Is this correct?
11 A. This was not a military radio transmitter, this was a
13 Q. Who were they communicating with on this walkie-talkie,
14 as you call it?
15 A. I do not recall.
16 Q. Can you tell me, how did you get information on the
17 number of rifles in the village? Did you personally
18 enquire about it?
19 A. No, this is approximately what I observed, and before
20 the attack on the village, this is what I heard from the
21 men in the village and what we could see, because all
22 these people were very afraid, they had nothing and
23 I could see their makeshift rifles that were turned into
24 military rifles. I also know how many people were going
25 to the front-lines against the Serbs.
1 Q. Were they bringing their weapons back to the village or
2 rifles from the front-lines?
3 A. Sometimes they did, but for the most part the rifles had
4 to be left somewhere behind, I do not know where,
5 I think it was probably in the town of Vitez, in the
6 military command post of some place.
7 Q. When did the negotiations about the surrender of arms
8 start? How many days before the attack?
9 A. That was after the burning down of Ahmici.
10 Q. So on the 17th?
11 A. Approximately, yes.
12 Q. Who was taking part on the Muslim side?
13 A. Kadir Hrustic, as far as I recall, because Nihad was
14 killed in the shelter where there were 35 women, so we
15 did not have anybody else so Kadir Hrustic did it and
16 Anto Krizanovic was on the other side.
17 Q. When was Nihad killed?
18 A. Nihad was killed the morning when the attack on the
19 village started. He was not in the village.
20 Q. Was he --
21 A. I am sorry. Nihad and Kadir were there.
22 Q. So Nihad was the commander or the representative?
23 A. Yes, he was that.
24 Q. And Kadir, in what capacity was he there?
25 A. He was an elderly and wise man and we thought of him as
1 having level-headed views and we thought he would
2 represent us in the right way.
3 Q. So the negotiations started on the 17th?
4 A. Approximately.
5 Q. But there were other negotiations, was that the
6 following day?
7 A. As far as I can recall, the Muslim side again tried to
8 talk. These were calls to lay down arms and for loyalty
9 to Croatia, but our people tried to do something again
10 and were not successful.
11 Q. Can you tell us how many days did these negotiations
13 A. Two or three hours. I do not recall. It was not even a
14 day, it was all within one day.
15 Q. Did they contact Sefkija Dzidic when they were deciding
16 on whether to surrender the arms or not?
17 A. I do not know this.
18 Q. Who decided that the arms would be surrendered, that it
19 would not be surrendered?
20 A. People among themselves, the men among themselves,
21 because Nihad and Kadir came with these information and
22 the proposals that were given to them by the HVO side
23 and they would come and explain to the people and then
24 they were all making the decision together.
25 Q. When you were giving the statement to the investigators,
1 you said that Nihad Hrustic did not accept the
2 surrender. Do you still claim that?
3 A. He was the one who told to the HVO that they were not
4 accepting the terms, yes.
5 Q. If there were no weapons in the village, and you could
6 not defend yourselves, why so many negotiations about
7 the weapons and why did you not turn over these few
8 hunting rifles? Can you explain that?
9 A. Because we knew approximately what was going on in other
10 villages and we knew if we surrendered the weapons that
11 they would slaughter us, they would kill us, but if we
12 had anything -- if we had anything to defend ourselves
13 with, some could defend the people while the other
14 pulled out the civilians.
15 Q. The Croats with whom you negotiated guaranteed your
16 security, your safety?
17 A. In what way?
18 Q. During the negotiations; "if you turn over the weapons,
19 we guarantee your safety". Was that mentioned?
20 A. I do not recall.
21 Q. Since the negotiations failed, did they start digging
23 A. Which side?
24 Q. Your side.
25 A. No, they did not dig trenches. On the very eve of the
1 attack on our village, we had designated a few houses
2 where all the women and children would be, the ones that
3 were closer to the forest and there they dug up some
4 trenches about a metre wide and 1.40 deep. So that is
5 where they were, in front of the houses where the
6 civilians were.
7 Q. I am now going to read you another portion of the
8 statement you gave to the Prosecutor:
9 "On 18th April, the Muslims started digging some
10 trenches two to three metres long around the houses, and
11 the able-bodied men started protecting us."
12 Is that correct?
13 A. Yes, probably. I do not know, I did not measure these
14 trenches. I can only say they were in front of each of
15 those houses.
16 Q. The night before the attack, you moved to the upper part
17 of the village, is that correct?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Can we say that in the lower part of the village, there
20 was a mixture of Muslims and Croats and in the upper
21 part there were Muslims?
22 A. No, they were mixed in both upper and lower.
23 Q. Where were the Muslims represented more, in the upper or
24 lower part?
25 A. In the upper part.
1 Q. Why did you all move to the upper part of the village?
2 A. Because first of all it was closer to the forest and
3 then I saw my first door neighbour and I was socialising
4 with those people up there, and then the lower part was
5 more exposed and we felt that we would be better off if
6 we moved up closer to the edge of the forest.
7 Q. The night before the attack, did you also spend in the
8 upper part of the village?
9 A. The night before the attack or the night after? You
10 mean the one before that one?
11 Q. Yes.
12 A. I do not recall that.
13 Q. Does that mean you expected an attack because you left
14 to go to the upper village?
15 A. We were always hoped that the neighbours would not touch
16 us, because we knew that we had nothing to defend
17 ourselves with, but we saw the surrounding villages and
18 we were expecting something, but we hoped that it would
19 not happen.
20 Q. Tell me, where did you have a clear escape route in the
21 upper part of the village, the upper part of the
22 village, from there, from the upper part of the village,
23 where did you have a clear way out given where the
24 attack of the HVO came?
25 A. Towards Kruscica.
1 Q. Who controlled Kruscica?
2 A. The Bosnian side.
3 Q. I see. So between the upper part of the village and the
4 forest and Kruscica, it was open?
5 A. No, it was just forest, it was our village, the forest
6 and then Kruscica.
7 Q. Did the men that you describe also withdraw through this
8 forest towards Kruscica?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. When asked by the Prosecutor, you said that the village
11 was shelled during the attack.
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. What kinds of shells were they? What did you mean?
14 A. I do not know the exact kind of the shells, but I can
15 only describe what kind of impacts there were in the
16 houses. There were rocket-propelled grenades also fired
17 and you could hear very loud explosions.
18 Q. Now I am going to read you what you stated to the
19 investigators beforehand:
20 "On 20th April 1993, around 5.00, we heard shells
21 that were being fired in our direction. The shells were
22 like grenades shot from rifles. I know that because
23 their sound is familiar to me and we found some of the
24 shells afterwards which had not exploded."
25 Is that correct?
1 A. Yes, that is correct.
2 Q. Who set Fikret Hrustic's house on fire, do you know?
3 A. I do not know exactly who did it.
4 Q. In the statement to the military security immediately
5 upon your leaving Vitez on 4th May 1993, you say that
6 Fikret Hrustic was killed and burnt alive set up by Boro
7 Krizanovic, your neighbour?
8 A. My neighbour came and talked to me about it. I cannot
9 say that he did it, but his words were, "we were in
10 front of Fikret's house, he was inside, he put a lot of
11 pots on against the door and it was ridiculous. We
12 called him out, but he would not want to. He kept
13 shouting and yelling and saying 'this will not be
14 Herceg-Bosna'. He was a fool, he did not need this".
15 Whether Boro meant we -- what he meant by "we" I do not
16 know. I do not know who was there with him.
17 Q. Thank you. During the attack on Gacice, who was killed
18 from your village?
19 A. From our village it was -- people had nicknames, so if
20 I do not recall all the names, I apologise. Four
21 civilians were killed. There was a wounded boy, and a
22 couple of wounded women. Fikret Hrustic was killed,
23 Nihad Hrustic, Ekrem Herzegovac, Fikret Herzegovac.
24 I do not know his name, his nickname was Kiko.
25 Q. That was Ramulj?
1 A. Yes, Ramulj, my apologies.
2 Q. Nihad, was that the deputy commander? He was in
3 civilian clothes?
4 A. He wore a military jacket, but he was in the shelter
5 with women and children, he did not take part in the
7 Q. And Herzegovac, do you know where he was killed?
8 A. Ekrem Herzegovac was fleeing towards the factory.
9 Q. He did not die in a trench and killed by a sniper?
10 A. No, he was a civilian, he was very scared and he thought
11 that because he was working in the factory, somebody
12 there would help him and hide him. He started running
13 towards there and he was killed and he had nothing on
15 Q. From the four men who were killed, did you personally
16 see how they were killed? Did you actually eyewitness
17 any murder?
18 A. No, not personally. I heard from the people in the
19 village, I did not eyewitness it.
20 Q. Of the civilians, of the people who surrendered to the
21 HVO, after the surrender, was anybody either killed or
23 A. Nobody was killed among the civilians. There were some
24 wounded, but among them, there were some wounded ones --
25 some were wounded later.
1 Q. Can you describe that?
2 A. They were taken to the front-lines of the HVO to dig
3 trenches, and Sihad Subasic, who was taken there, to
4 whom I personally took food in the primary school in
5 Vitez, he was wounded in the thigh at Crvene Stijene
6 when he was digging trenches.
7 Q. But in the village when they assembled you, when the
8 military entered the village, was there any violence
9 against the civilians there, in the sense of civilians
10 being shot at and wounded?
11 A. No.
12 Q. In the lower part of the village, was there a front-line
13 set up, a line of defence?
14 A. No.
15 Q. I am going to read you another portion of your statement
16 to the military security of the BiH army, where you
18 "Already during the first attack, the fighters
19 from the first line surrounded their weapons and they
20 were taken to the primary school at Dubravica."
21 A. The front-line, the first line was the man who stayed in
22 that lower part of the village, that first house there.
23 There was a very small trench there, and that was the
24 first or the front-line. When we say the front-line, that
25 was the first position from where the enemy is coming
1 from, where we were being attacked. We had no first,
2 second, third line in our village. There was absolutely
3 no line there.
4 Q. But here you said that the men from the first line, the
5 front-line, turned over the weapons?
6 A. Yes, from the first lines where the attack came from,
7 that is from their front-lines.
8 Q. Is it correct that the men, call it however you like,
9 they turned over the weapons, was it true they were
10 taken to Dubravica to the school?
11 A. No, they were taken to the school in Vitez.
12 Q. Is it correct that one of the men from this front-line,
13 first line, however you call it, Ekrem Hrustic, came
14 with a white flag up to the upper part of the village
15 and called on men to surrender?
16 A. Yes, he came with a white flag up to the village because
17 his brother, who was 15 years old, was lying on the
18 ground and he was wounded. It was three centimetres
19 from his heart, which we learned later. He was not
20 moving, so he came with a large white flag and said,
21 "please surrender, so I can pull out my brother".
22 Q. Did he call on all the men to surrender or had they
23 already surrendered?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. So the first men from the lower part of the village
1 surrendered, then Ekrem went to the upper part of the
2 village with a white flag and called on these men to
4 A. He came from the lower part of the village with the
5 white flag and brother was this young boy who was in the
6 upper part of the village, so he came from the lower
7 part of the village up to the upper part.
8 Q. What was he doing up there?
9 A. He asked the men to surrender.
10 Q. Yes, and what did he say, who sent him?
11 A. I do not recall.
12 Q. Is it true that Hrustic Fadil and his wife Behija and
13 son, who live in the lower part of the village, that
14 they went round the houses looking for people and asking
15 them to surrender because there was no other way out?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Is it true that their house was preserved?
18 A. It is.
19 Q. Is it true that Behija Hrustic made a statement on
20 television which was favourable for the HVO?
21 A. It is, and even when we were taken to the hotel she and
22 her husband and the children were the only ones among
23 the Muslims to have stayed behind in the village.
24 Q. And nothing happened to them?
25 A. Nothing happened to them.
1 Q. Tell me, in the case of the attack -- during the attack,
2 did you recognise any of the people who were attacking
3 you as your neighbours?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Can you give us a few names of the people you
7 A. They were mostly all our neighbours, there were
8 Baskarads, Krizanovics, the Bosnjaks, yes, the Matics.
9 Q. So all these families, virtually all the Croats?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. There were 247 of you civilians in the village, that is
12 what you said, and when you set out towards Vitez two
13 kilometres away, was there any shelling along the way?
14 A. No, not along the road that we were going on, we just
15 heard very fierce shelling, but where it was I really do
16 not know.
17 Q. From what side did you enter Vitez?
18 A. From the side leading from our village past the cinema
19 to the hotel.
20 Q. And when you entered Vitez, was there any shelling?
21 Were any shells falling?
22 A. I did not see any shells falling, but there was not a
23 soul anywhere. There was virtually no one on the road
24 and I did not see any shells falling.
25 Q. While you were sitting in front of the Vitez hotel, were
1 any shells falling then?
2 A. No, in that part of the area that we could see, no, but
3 we could hear explosions, and a big shell crater was
4 just there in front of the hotel and that is precisely
5 where I personally sat, in one of these craters and
6 behind us, there was a big store and all the window
7 panes were broken, probably from that shell.
8 Q. Do you know when that shell fell?
9 A. No, I do not.
10 Q. Tell me, your conclusion that you were used as a human
11 shield, is it based on the statement made by the soldier
12 that you mentioned?
13 A. Let me tell you, the moment that we were brought there
14 with the children and with the men, knowing that there
15 were people dead in the village, knowing a little of
16 what had happened to the other villages, and seeing the
17 fires, the shelling and everything, and what the soldier
18 said, "you sit there for a time and let your people
19 shell you now, because they have been shelling us so
20 far", and knowing that the hotel was a military base for
21 a long time before that day, we could have expected
23 At this point in time, I believe that we were
24 brought there as a human shield because there were not
25 many Croatian soldiers in the hotel, and then we were
1 taken back. At that moment, at that time, I did not
2 care whether I would die there or somewhere else.
3 Q. But there was no shelling of Vitez at that time while
4 you were going towards Vitez, when you entered Vitez and
5 while you were sitting there?
6 A. Gentlemen, it is all the same to you. You can hear it.
7 MR. HARMON: Objection, Mr. President. The witness has
8 answered that question previously. She said she heard
9 explosions, she could hear shelling; she has answered it
10 and Mr. Nobilo is asking the same question again.
11 JUDGE JORDA: It is not exactly the same question. It is an
12 important point. It is true that one can get lost in
13 many of these details, I can point this out again, both
14 to the Defence and the Prosecution. But the question of
15 human shields relates to the indictment, therefore
16 I think the question has to be asked as to human
17 shields. Excuse me. I think that this is something
18 which must be asked, but try not to ask the question the
19 same way, Mr. Nobilo.
20 My excuses to the witness.
21 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President. I have virtually
22 finished, I just wanted by way of a summary to go
23 through these points; whether there was shelling or not,
24 was it just the personal feeling of the witness. As we
25 were interrupted by the Prosecution, so it has not
1 entered the record. I asked you, when you were going to
2 Vitez, when you entered Vitez and while you were sitting
3 there, was there any shelling, and then we were
5 A. I do not know what was being shelled, I just heard the
6 shells. I do not know which parts were shelled, whether
7 Vitez was shelled or not, I do not know, I just know
8 that I heard the shelling.
9 Q. Throughout that time on the way there and sitting in
10 Vitez, did you see a single explosion in your vicinity?
11 A. I do not remember.
12 Q. Thank you. How many houses were burnt in your village
13 that you personally saw, and whose houses?
14 A. About 35. Believe me, I do not know the exact number,
15 I could not count. They were Muslim houses and one
16 Croatian house.
17 Q. Does that include the stables?
18 A. No.
19 Q. In your previous statement, you said 27 houses.
20 A. That was a rough estimate, even now I am giving a rough
21 estimate. We did not have time to count the houses, and
22 nobody even cared about houses by that time, we just
23 wanted to save our lives.
24 Q. When you returned from Vitez, or rather before that, did
25 they separate the men from the women in Vitez?
1 A. Yes, in front of the hotel the men were taken to one
2 side and we were taken in another.
3 Q. When you returned, in how many houses did you live?
4 A. In seven.
5 Q. Were they Muslim houses? Was there any food in those
7 A. In some houses there was, in others there was not.
8 Q. Was there any food in the village in the other houses?
9 A. You mean the other Muslim houses?
10 Q. Or Croatian.
11 A. I do not know, believe me I do not know how much food
12 there was at the time. No one was hungry, we had to
13 eat, but how much food there was, in which house, I do
14 not know.
15 Q. Is it true that you women carried food to the men in the
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Is it true that the treatment they were given was decent
19 and if anybody was sick, they were treated?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. As for water, did you have a regular water supply system
22 in the village?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Do you know that everyone did not have water in Vitez at
25 the time because there had been a cut?
1 A. I do not know.
2 Q. You said that before you left the village of Gacice with
3 your children that some of your local villagers were
4 evacuated by truck. Will you tell me which army
5 evacuated them?
6 A. Before we left the village, after the attack.
7 Q. After the attack and when you returned from Vitez and
8 when you spent 16 or so days there, at one point you
9 said that some people were taken away by lorries. You
10 later learnt they were taken to Zenica. Who were they
11 taken away by, UNHCR?
12 A. No, they were large HVO trucks and there were HVO people
13 in uniform there.
14 Q. Were there any UNHCR representatives supervising this?
15 A. Not in our village, I did not see them.
16 Q. While the people were climbing into the trucks?
17 A. No.
18 Q. Did people tell you later that the UNHCR had organised
19 the evacuation?
20 A. I had not discussed that, so I do not know.
21 Q. These men from your village, when they retreated towards
22 Kruscica, do you know what happened to them afterwards,
23 which unit did they join?
24 A. Now I know, 325th. At that time I did not know.
25 Q. How many men joined the 325th unit from the village of
2 A. I do not know the exact number, about 15, 18. I do not
3 know exactly.
4 Q. When you mentioned the Split and the Varazdin brigades
5 of the Croatian army, were they units that attacked your
6 village or did you mention them in some other context?
7 A. I do not know. Boro Krizanovic told me this, he came
8 that day and said, "you really did not have a chance of
9 defending yourselves because our boys are so good and
10 they are so well trained. They have all come to help
11 us. We have various units, the 125th, the 303rd".
12 I personally did not see insignia indicating 125th or
13 303rd .
14 Q. But he was referring to them as units that had helped
15 them in attacking the village?
16 A. I do not know whether it was in attacking the village.
17 JUDGE JORDA: Please try to avoid speaking at the same time
18 as the witness is speaking. I am being told that you
19 have to try not to speak at the same time. It becomes
20 too complicated.
21 MR. NOBILO: We speak the same language, that is why we
23 You said you did not see those Split and Varazdin
24 brigades. Who were you able to see attacking the
25 village? What insignia did they have? What insignias
1 could you recognise and from what distance? When you
2 recognised a soldier with insignia, how far away were
4 A. After the village was burnt down and when the civilians
5 came out of their shelters, the soldiers were there in
6 front of us. We were almost mixed with those soldiers.
7 They were standing at half a metre, they were coming
8 from various directions in the surroundings of those
9 shelters, where all the women and children were. They
10 were all together, the soldiers were there.
11 Q. And which insignia did you recognise?
12 A. HV, HVO, there were some with the sign "U" and the
14 Q. How many HV insignia did you see?
15 A. I do not know. Believe me, I did not count, they were
16 all together, they were mixed.
17 Q. Five, 50? I am asking about the HV?
18 A. I do not know exactly.
19 MR. HARMON: Objection, Mr. President. She said she did not
21 JUDGE JORDA: That is correct.
22 MR. NOBILO: Did you see Darko Kraljevic there?
23 A. No.
24 Q. Do you know Darko Kraljevic?
25 A. I have seen him. I saw him before the conflict.
1 Q. Did you see or hear at the time the soldiers reached
2 your village as to whether the HVO had any losses, that
3 any people were killed on the side of the HVO?
4 A. No.
5 Q. Do you know that before the conflict, there were joint
6 patrols, Muslim-Croat patrols in your village?
7 A. No.
8 Q. So you do not know. Did the Muslims have their own
9 night patrols?
10 A. Not patrols, but they had guards.
11 Q. You mean people, stationary guards. Were they armed,
12 these guards?
13 A. Yes, they had hunting rifles. These were mostly older
14 men, pensioners. If they would see more soldiers coming
15 in the direction of the village, they were there to
16 inform the rest. There was mostly one, two on the
17 outside, but mostly one retired person would keep guard
19 MR. NOBILO: That is all, Mr. President. Thank you.
20 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Harmon? Did you want to ask any additional
22 Re-examined by MR. HARMON
23 Q. Yes, thank you Mr. President.
24 You were asked a question on cross-examination
25 about when the 247 civilians were assembled and when
1 they walked into the town of Vitez, and you were asked
2 whether there was any violence meted out by the HVO
3 soldiers against the civilians. Do you remember that
5 A. When we were going towards the hotel, they pushed us,
6 there was the old imam and they put a pistol into his
8 JUDGE JORDA: Ask your question, please.
9 MR. HARMON: She answered it in part for me, Mr. President.
10 Just to put it in context as well, were the HVO soldiers
11 escorting you also cursing you?
12 A. Yes, they cursed a lot, mostly --
13 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, I did not ask any questions about
14 the treatment by the soldiers when taking the civilians
15 to Vitez. I asked whether the lady had recognised any
16 violence by soldiers from Herzegovina in the previous
17 months. As for Vitez, I only asked about shelling and
18 that is all.
19 MR. HARMON: Mr. President, I disagree with that. I believe
20 the question was asked by Mr. Nobilo as to when the
21 civilians were being escorted into the village of Vitez,
22 whether there was any violence exercised against them.
23 That is what has stimulated this line of questioning.
24 JUDGE JORDA: In general, I would recall the principle that
25 the re-examination must not go beyond the scope of the
1 cross-examination. I think it is no different for the
2 judges. Whether the question of violence, even of
3 verbal violence might not have been asked, but the
4 judges might, so go ahead.
5 Q. Please, Ms. Hrustic, would you please tell the judges
6 what kind of threats were being made against you as you
7 and the other civilians walked to the city of Vitez?
8 A. They were mostly cursing, they were saying that we were
9 balijas, that we were Muslims, that that was not the
10 place for us, that we should go to Iraq, to Iran, some
11 other Islamic countries, that we would all be killed.
12 They would curse our balija mothers, that sort of thing.
13 Q. In addition to that question, when you got to the Hotel
14 Vitez, was there a direct threat made to you and to the
15 other civilians who were there that if you moved away
16 from the Hotel Vitez, you would be killed?
17 A. That happened as soon as we arrived in front of the
18 hotel. The women were very tired, the children were
19 frightened. My eight year old little girl was crying
20 and saying, "please tell the man not to kill us".
21 JUDGE JORDA: I want to interrupt Mr. Nobilo before he
22 interrupts. Let us not start the examination all over
23 again. You asked a question which I consider was
24 legitimate for the 247 witnesses, but we are not going
25 to begin the examination about things they have already
1 asked. You asked a question which was legitimate, it is
2 time to move on to another question.
3 MR. HARMON: Fine. Ms. Hrustic, you were asked questions
4 about shelling as you were walking toward the Hotel
5 Vitez; could you hear shelling and could you hear
6 explosions from shells while you and the other civilians
7 walked from Gacice to the Hotel Vitez?
8 JUDGE JORDA: I believe she answered that question.
9 MR. HARMON: Okay.
10 JUDGE JORDA: She heard that question, it was answered. She
11 said that she had heard the shelling but she did not see
12 any shells falling, so that is a question that has
13 already been asked. Ask another question, please.
14 MR. HARMON: I have no further questions. Thank you very
15 much, Ms. Hrustic.
16 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. I now turn to you, madam, I am
17 sure that the judges have some additional questions to
18 ask and then everything will be finished. First
19 Judge Riad.
20 JUDGE RIAD: Good morning, Ms. Hrustic. I followed very
21 carefully your description of the events of which you
22 have been an eyewitness. I would like to ask you, just
23 before these events started, was there any threat from
24 the Muslim inhabitants of your village against the
25 Croatian citizens or inhabitants, or did anybody attack
1 Croatian objectives which provoked all these reactions
2 and burning and killing which you detailed?
3 A. No, there were no provocations on the part of the Muslim
4 side. Not a trace of it. We just wanted to live
5 together, to live where we were. We did not even mind
6 the Croatian flags on Croatian houses, we did not even
7 mind the Croatian language that they used. We did not
8 mind, we accepted all that. We accepted it all.
9 Certainly there were no attacks against Croats.
10 Q. To follow your description of the events during the
11 several days in April, it started with the ultimatum to
12 give the weapons, and you even mentioned -- you
13 mentioned after that that you called the police and the
14 police told you, it was the police I suppose who told
15 you the situation would be solved soon, which you
16 interpreted that they want to get rid of the Muslims.
17 Then you were informed, I do not know who said it, "it
18 is not your country, you have to go to Iraq, to Turkey",
19 and so on. Was that done publicly, in a public
20 announcement or was it just private talk?
21 A. I called up the school in which the military were, a
22 long time before that attack, much earlier. We could
23 hear on television, on the radio, representatives of the
24 Croatian side not saying exactly that, "you balijas must
25 go", but they were addressing the Croats rather than the
1 Muslims. They did not address the Muslims in those
2 media. They were saying that their freedom had come,
3 that their age-old aims and objectives were about to be
4 realised, words to that effect. In private
5 conversations with our neighbours or on the phone or
6 talking to other people, we were told that this was not
7 our land, that we should go to Iraq, Iran and so on,
8 that the white line on our flag was pointing the way
9 towards Turkey, whereas the other two sides would be
10 Croatian and Serbian.
11 Q. You mentioned that your neighbour started practising and
12 having weapons in his house before the events started,
13 if I gathered rightly, and then things started, the
14 shelling, the attack of the village came from three
15 sides at the same time. You also saw the villages
16 around you in flame, Ahmici, old Vitez, Stari Bila,
17 Veceriska. You heard the powerful explosion. In your
18 assessment, did this look like an organised scheme which
19 is simultaneously taking place, especially if they spoke
20 after that, you had a neighbour who told you that, "you
21 have no chance in front of the very good brigades",
22 303rd and 225th, "because they are so well trained and
23 they are so good brigades". Did you have the impression
24 or did you realise that this was a well disciplined and
25 organised movement, or it was just some unconnected
1 people attacking you from each side?
2 A. I am 100 per cent convinced that it was a plan, well
3 prepared and very well organised, because before the
4 attack on our village, a neighbour, a Croat, told me
5 that they had a map of our village, that they had maps
6 of all the localities with exact markings of each Muslim
7 house, and there was not a question of anything being
8 missed, because all that was Muslim would certainly be
9 destroyed. We just hoped that that would not happen,
10 but we knew that if it started that we would not fare
12 Q. When you went to the Hotel Vitez, that was the
13 headquarters, I think. They put the men on one side and
14 the women on the other side, and you said the soldier
15 said he would go inside to inform the commander. Could
16 you just remind me what was that about? Why did he go
17 inside to inform the commander?
18 A. He had come with us from the village. We were all
19 together, there were quite a number of soldiers around
20 us, not at every metre, but there were quite a number of
21 them, and he said, "I am going to inform the commander
22 about them", and he nodded his head in our direction and
23 then he went inside to inform him that we were there.
24 Q. So he was receiving orders?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. He was not acting according to his own whim?
2 A. No.
3 Q. You also mentioned trenches being dug and human shields
4 being put in front of the hotel. So all these things
5 were the result of orders?
6 A. I do not know why we were put in front of the hotel.
7 I just what I heard the soldiers say.
8 Q. But the commander was in the hotel?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. And all this was happening around the hotel?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Who is living now in your village?
13 A. Only Croats.
14 Q. But not all the Muslim houses have been burnt?
15 A. A couple of Muslim houses remain, but the Croats have
16 made a list of people that should leave in groups.
17 After I left, my mother-in-law did not want to leave her
18 house, but she was told that all the Muslims had to
19 leave the village, that they would be taken for
20 exchange. That was what they were told, I was not there
21 at the time, and that they had to leave the village.
22 Q. So the village has become Croat now?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Just a small detail, you mentioned that on your way,
25 they picked up one of the religious leaders, the imam,
1 and put a pistol in his mouth. Did they choose special
2 people to be persecuted or it was just also done to all
3 the people? Why did they choose an imam?
4 A. Because the man was a Hodza, because he had taught
5 people how to pray, because he was in the mosque and the
6 Muslims went to the mosque.
7 JUDGE RIAD: Thank you very much.
8 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: You have been a school teacher and
9 I take it that you took some interest in general affairs
10 in Bosnia, am I right?
11 A. Yes, of course. Yes.
12 Q. When you were talking about your being outside the Hotel
13 Vitez with a number of other people, you said the men
14 were separated from the women and children.
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Perhaps I do not recall it correctly. Can you help me
17 by telling us what happened with the men?
18 A. The men were taken to the primary school in Vitez, the
19 one I had worked in.
20 Q. Did you know any of them?
21 A. Among the captives? Yes, I knew them all, all.
22 Q. Did you see them again?
23 A. Yes, when we took food for them.
24 Q. After you took food, did you see them again?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Tell me about the people whom you saw in uniform. You
2 saw some people bearing the insignia of the HV, and the
3 HVO, and the Vitezovi, and some people had an oak leaf.
4 At that time, you regarded President Izetbegovic as the
5 head of the government of Bosnia?
6 A. Yes, he was our President, the Bosnian President, of the
7 Bosnian state.
8 Q. How did you regard these people whom you described as
9 wearing these insignia? Did you regard them as deriving
10 their authority from the government of Bosnia?
11 A. No.
12 Q. Tell me about the people who demanded the surrender of
13 weapons. They were in uniform?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. The same kinds of uniform?
16 A. No, they were locals, they were people from our village
17 who had negotiated before the attack.
18 Q. Did they declare to you whether they had any legal
19 authority to demand the surrender of weapons?
20 A. I am sorry, I did not understand the question.
21 Q. Did they say to you that they had legal authority to
22 demand the surrender of weapons?
23 A. No, no.
24 Q. Were you yourself aware of any legal authority which
25 they had to demand the surrender of weapons?
1 A. No.
2 Q. Tell me about those Muslim houses which were not
3 destroyed. Do you have a reason to give the court why
4 those Muslim houses were not destroyed?
5 A. I do not know exactly why. I think now that it was for
6 them to be able to accommodate us there, or for the
7 Croats who were -- who had moved from areas under the
8 control of the Bosnian army to be put up in them. I do
9 not know.
10 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Thank you.
11 JUDGE JORDA: We have completed our work now, it was long,
12 you were extremely courageous and the Tribunal thanks
13 you for having come to The Hague to testify for the
14 Prosecution, but also in service of justice. For the
15 time being, please do not move, the judges will
17 The hearing will resume at 2.45. The hearing is
19 (1.05 pm)
20 (Adjourned until 2.45 pm)
1 (2.45 pm)
2 JUDGE JORDA: We will resume the hearing. Have the accused
3 brought in, please. Please be seated.
4 (Accused brought in)
5 JUDGE JORDA: Before we have the witness brought in, I would
6 like to see where we are as the end of the week is
8 Mr. Harmon, what is your programme for the end of
9 the week? Today is Tuesday. You had said that you had
10 ten witnesses, I think that you have ten witnesses left,
11 at least that is what I think.
12 MR. HARMON: Mr. President, I do not have the list in front of
13 me. I was informed this morning that one of those
14 witnesses now declines to come forward, and another
15 witness will not be called. I get status reports in the
16 afternoons after the session is over, but this morning
17 I was informed, as I say, that one of these witnesses
18 will not be appearing so we will be making some
19 adjustments to the schedule and I am not at a point
20 where I can give you, with any definition, the
21 schedule. Perhaps after the recess this afternoon
22 I will be in a better position to advise your Honour.
23 JUDGE JORDA: Perhaps you could let Mr. Fourmy know that, so
24 that we could know how things are going to go. I see
25 that the next witness is protected. In light of what is
1 taking place in this hearing, this might take a bit of
2 time, and I do not think it is wasted time. I noted
3 yesterday two things regarding the two witnesses who
4 spoke. Since this is a public hearing, the protected
5 witness, that is Witness A, whom I consider, I believe
6 that I am speaking for my colleagues, each of the
7 parties played his role properly, we were able to limit
8 the time devoted to the witness. We were able to limit
9 it to the essential questions, both sides asked, as well
10 as the judges, and we were able to have our hearing
11 under conditions which I think comply with the rules in
12 force in this Tribunal.
13 However, unfortunately for the next witness who
14 was partly protected, there we ran into the problems we
15 meet in all systems. There was a summary, there were
16 interruptions which you made throughout the hearing, you
17 asked questions. I am not talking about the
18 cross-examination for the time being, we will get to
19 that when we talk about the Defence. I believe that we
20 tried to continue, always keeping in mind the objective
21 of shortening the trial time, but also -- not only
22 quantitatively but to work in such a way that we could
23 get to the essentials. What I am asking the Prosecutor
24 for the time being is to make the summary, but there is
25 something else I would like to add. I would like you to
1 introduce the witness in terms of the indictment.
2 I have the indictment before me, I would like the
3 representative of the Prosecutor who will work with us
4 to tell us by looking through the indictment what your
5 counts are and what is it you are getting at, so that
6 I might possibly tell you that you are going outside the
7 scope of your role.
8 I would also like interruptions to be as few as
9 possible. We cannot at the same time have a resume and
10 then have questions the way you were asking them and
11 then ask questions again. I think we will never get
12 anywhere doing that and we will extend the testimony
13 beyond what I think is reasonable. I am saying this,
14 but my colleagues as well hesitate interrupting
15 witnesses who are victims, people who suffered during
16 the conflict. It is before the person comes in that
17 things should be settled. You know much more draconian,
18 drastic measures will be taken. Personally, I would
19 like these debates to conserve what you know in your
20 system, because this is a system closer to the common
21 law system and is practised by people working within
22 that system, except perhaps for Mr. Nobilo, who is used
23 to working in another system.
24 Once again, therefore, independent of any measures
25 you will give to Mr. Fourmy by the end of the week, we
1 will take measures next week, and I hope that this next
2 witness will not only be placed within the system you
3 are expecting from the questioning but that it will be
4 part of the indictment which you will have indicated
5 clearly. Say, for example, this is for this or that
6 village which is indicated in the indictment. Other
7 Chambers ask for preliminary statements, we have not
8 reached that type of procedure, because we are not sure
9 that this would produce the results that we are looking
10 for, but the objective of all the Trial Chambers is the
11 same in this Tribunal, that is to have a trial which
12 takes place within a reasonable amount of time and we
13 will be firm about this, as is necessary.
14 I am not criticising you again, I think each
15 person works according to his own legal culture and
16 habits, but once again, we are not common law lawyers or
17 civil law lawyers, but we are judges in an international
18 tribunal, looking for the truth.
19 Now Mr. Harmon, introduce the next witness, who is
21 MR. HARMON: Mr. President and your Honours, may I respond to
22 your Honour? First off, each of these witnesses that we
23 bring before your Honour we have taken the desires of
24 this Trial Chamber sincerely and we have instructed each
25 of the witnesses to give the court a narrative. Not
1 every witness is capable of giving a narrative and that
2 causes us to ask questions, because oftentimes, as
3 happened with the witness yesterday, the witness
4 answered a question and could not give a narrative. We
5 have to be able to guide the witness through the
6 relevant points of his or her testimony.
7 Mr. President, we have instructed the witnesses to
8 give narratives, we will continue to do so, but we will
9 try to expedite and assist those witnesses when they are
10 incapable of doing so.
11 Mr. President, in respect of the next witness,
12 I will be glad to inform the court and counsel what
13 parts of the indictment this witness will be testifying
14 about. This witness -- first of all, let me give you a
15 summary, Mr. President, and then let me give you the
16 counts of the indictment that we believe their testimony
17 relates to.
18 This witness, Mr. President, is a Muslim refugee
19 from the village of Nadioci. If I could have the ELMO
20 turned on at this point, Mr. President, on the ELMO --
21 JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me for interrupting you, but I want to
22 take advantage of this time to thank you for what you
23 are saying. I know you are making efforts and you must
24 understand that we are not trying to be polemical in
25 anything we are saying. It is simply for the sake of
1 justice we are working that way, because that is our
2 responsibility. Thank you for what you have just said,
3 I know you are making all possible efforts.
4 My second question is, is this an anonymous and
5 protected witness?
6 MR. HARMON: Yes, Mr. President. This witness will be known
7 as Witness S. As I said, Mr. President, on the video
8 screen this witness will be testifying now about the
9 village of Nadioci, so we are moving away and moving to
10 a different village. This village is very close to the
11 Hotel Vitez, and if you look on the monitor, the pointer
12 points to the village of Nadioci.
13 Her testimony will relate to a number of events,
14 Mr. President, that occurred before the attack on Ahmici
15 and on Nadioci. Essentially they relate to the
16 preparations that were made in advance of the attacks on
17 April 16th. She will testify about seeing HVO soldiers
18 filling sandbags, a large number of sandbags, shortly
19 before the attack; she will testify about the evacuation
20 of Croat civilians from her village, and she will
21 testify that she actually received a warning that the
22 attack would occur.
23 She will also testify, Mr. President and
24 your Honours, that soldiers came to her house a number
25 of days before the attack and told her not to leave her
1 house. Shortly thereafter, she made observations from
2 her house of HVO soldiers distributing large amounts of
3 weapons, heavy weapons, artillery, to individuals in and
4 around Ahmici and Nadioci, and she will testify about
5 the prepositioning of those heavy weapons, and actually
6 seeing them firing on 16th April into the village of
7 Nadioci and Ahmici.
8 She will testify, Mr. President and your Honours,
9 about seeing soldiers, large numbers of soldiers
10 advancing past her house on 15th April, preparing for
11 the attack. She will testify about HVO soldiers
12 intentionally setting fire to Muslim residences, and she
13 will testify about a murder of an unarmed civilian by
14 HVO soldiers.
15 Mr. President, the testimony of this witness
16 relates to count 1 of the indictment; that is
17 paragraph 6.1, attacks on cities, towns and villages.
18 It relates to --
19 JUDGE JORDA: 6.1, did you say?
20 MR. HARMON: 6.1, count 1 of the second amended indictment,
21 the persecution count. Her testimony will relate as
22 well to paragraph 6.2 of the indictment and 6.3 of the
24 JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me, I do not see that here. I have the
25 indictment as it was of 2nd October, is that right?
1 MR. HARMON: I am referring to the second amended indictment,
2 Mr. President. If it is not --
3 JUDGE JORDA: Second amended indictment, yes. 6.1 is
4 offences against villages and hamlets, large scale
5 attacks. Do you have that, Mr. Registrar? Continue,
7 MR. HARMON: I am referring to count 1 of the indictment,
8 Mr. President, paragraphs 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 6.4, 6.5. She
9 will testify about -- let me see if it is 6.6 and 6.7
10 for just a minute -- paragraph 6.6 and 6.7, so her
11 testimony will be relevant to all paragraphs in that
13 She will also be testifying, Mr. President, about
14 counts 2 to 4, paragraph 8, referring to the village of
15 Nadioci which is the second village listed in that
16 indictment. She will testify, Mr. President --
17 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, now I am following. I do not find 6.1.
18 I am not going to have you waste any time. 6.1 in the
19 document I have in front of me, 6.1 is widespread
20 systematic attack directed against cities, villages and
21 hamlets, is that right?
22 MR. HARMON: Yes.
23 JUDGE JORDA: We are together now.
24 MR. HARMON: Continuing on, Mr. President, her testimony will
25 relate to counts 5 through 10, specifically the subpart
1 A of paragraph 9, the wilful killing of civilians. Her
2 testimony will relate to counts 11 through 13,
3 paragraph 10, I am referring to Ahmici and Nadioci.
4 Those are the various charges in the indictment that her
5 testimony will relate to, Mr. President and
6 your Honours.
7 JUDGE JORDA: All right, then this is a witness for whom you
8 have indicated the counts, I have the French version
9 here, so this is really testimony dealing with
10 preparations that she saw before the attack on the
11 village of Nadioci up to the murder, so you will let her
12 speak and you have understood that you have to interrupt
13 if she is going on too long about something, but when
14 you start up again, I ask you that you remain focused on
15 the essential points in support of the indictment.
16 Very well, we can have the witness brought in
18 (Witness entered court)
19 JUDGE JORDA: Witness S, do you hear me?
20 THE WITNESS: Yes.
21 JUDGE JORDA: The Registrar -- do you hear me?
22 THE WITNESS: Yes.
23 JUDGE JORDA: The Registrar will give you a declaration
24 which you must make before the judges.
25 THE WITNESS: I am sorry, I cannot read it because I do not
1 have my glasses. I cannot see it.
2 JUDGE JORDA: (Not interpreted) you are going to read it and
3 then say yes you agree or you do not.
4 THE WITNESS: Yes, very well.
5 JUDGE JORDA: Or you might repeat. Please repeat.
6 WITNESS S (sworn)
7 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. We are going to have your identity
8 verified but please do not say your name. Since you do
9 not have your glasses, perhaps the Registrar will tell
10 you what it says and just say whether it is correct.
11 A. I understand. Yes.
12 JUDGE JORDA: The Prosecutor has told you that you were
13 called here as part of the Tribunal's trial, that is for
14 the time being the Prosecutor's case against the accused
15 Blaskic. The Prosecutor will ask you some questions,
16 you will make your statement before the judges, the
17 Prosecutor will ask you the questions which he considers
18 appropriate, and then the counsel for the accused will
19 ask you questions, and then the judges.
20 Mr. Prosecutor, you can begin now. It is 3.05.
21 A. Yes.
22 Examined by MR. HARMON
23 Q. Good afternoon, Witness S.
24 A. Good afternoon.
25 Q. I am going to begin by asking you some preliminary
1 questions. First of all, how old are you?
2 A. I was born in 1937, so I am 60. I am going to turn 61
4 Q. Are you married?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Are you and your husband both Bosniaks who practise the
7 Muslim faith?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Before moving to Nadioci in October 1992, were you a
10 resident of Jajce?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. In 1992, because of Serb aggression, did you and your
13 husband flee from Jajce?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. While fleeing from Jajce, were you seriously injured by
16 an explosion from an artillery shell and did you spend
17 two and a half months hospitalised as a result of your
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. After your release from the hospital, did you eventually
21 settle as a refugee in the village of Nadioci and did
22 you settle there with your husband?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. In 1993, was your husband an invalid who suffered from
25 diabetes and liver disease?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. He was not a member of the TO nor the Bosnian army, is
3 that correct?
4 A. That is right.
5 Q. The house in Nadioci where you settled, were there
6 Muslims living adjacent to your house?
7 A. Yes, there were also Croats, the locals.
8 Q. Now Witness S, I would like to ask you a series of
9 questions and I ask you to give a narrative form of
10 answer to the judge, but let me identify the subject
11 area first. I would like to focus first of all on your
12 observations about significant events that you observed
13 before the attack on Nadioci on April 16th 1993 and
14 specifically I would like to direct your attention to
15 the filling of sandbags that you observed. Will you
16 tell the judges what you saw, and when you saw it?
17 A. Yes. May I proceed right away? When we came to
18 Nadioci, I was still being treated and I had to go to
19 the medical centre to have my bandage replaced and to
20 receive injections, so about five or six days before
21 this, I saw that some covers or some kind of protection
22 was being put up. They were taking out the sand and
23 these pebbles from the Lasva river, and I was taking
24 coffee to a driver, I had taken him a coffee, he was
25 Croatian, he said, "thank you, ma'am, and be careful".
1 I asked him, "what are they doing with all that sand
2 over there?"; "they are making roads and houses with
3 it", that is what he said.
4 Q. Let me interrupt you there Witness S, and let me
5 clarify. When you say "they", who is "they"?
6 A. Croats, the HVO. The HVO was taking the sand and they
7 had licence plates which said "HVO". This driver told
8 me, "ma'am, be careful". I again went to Vitez to see
9 the doctor and I saw even more of this. They were
10 making these shelters all over Vitez, around the
11 intersections near the hotel, near the cinema, and I saw
12 these machine-guns, machine-guns with bandoleers. I was
13 a bit panicked by the time I got back home and I told my
14 husband, "something is going on", I told him. He said,
15 "it is nothing". I said, "let us run away from here",
16 and he said "nothing will happen", so we stayed there.
17 Q. Let me stay focused if I can for a moment on your
18 observations of these HVO soldiers; how many trucks were
19 being filled with these sandbags?
20 A. Yes. Three trucks and they were going in the direction
21 of Vitez and Ahmici. That is where they were taking,
22 that is where they were driving it, because that is what
23 I see on the way back from the city when I passed by.
24 Q. Witness S, how many HVO soldiers did you see loading
25 these sandbags and can you describe those soldiers and
1 what they were wearing?
2 A. There were about five or six of them who were loading it
3 up and there were another two men in civilian clothes,
4 I did not know who they were, they were loading up this
5 sand and they wore camouflage uniforms. They had the
6 HVO insignia there, there was the chequer board there --
7 camouflage uniform as they call it.
8 Q. Witness S, one last question on this subject, were they
9 load-filling the sandbags and then loading the filled
10 bags on to the truck, is that what they were doing?
11 A. Yes. I asked the driver, "when you make the roads and
12 houses, why would you put the sand in those bags?", and
13 he said, "I do not know", but what he told me was, "be
14 careful". He thanked me a lot for the coffee which
15 I had brought him, I had brought him, and he was an HVO
16 but I brought him this coffee.
17 Q. Witness S, to clarify one point, when you went into the
18 town of Vitez to see your doctor, did you see sandbags
19 in positions where you had not seen them before?
20 A. Earlier they were not even there, we were passing
21 there. This was when we were coming from Vjetrenica
22 towards Zenica. There were big piles of sandbags with
23 the machine-guns pointing to the Vjetrenica.
24 Q. Witness S, now I would like to address your attention to
25 your observations in Nadioci in respect of your Croat
1 neighbours. What did you see them do and what did one
2 neighbour in particular tell you? Could you please tell
3 the judges?
4 A. I noticed this six or seven days beforehand. They
5 started to take the blankets and some pots, they were
6 going towards where the Croats lived and they were
7 retreating to the upper part and I told my husband
8 again, "something is going on" and he again said, "it is
9 nothing", because he knew I was afraid. Then Djurdja,
10 who was my first door neighbour, she was crying and she
11 said, "take care of yourself, it is not good, hide
12 wherever you can". This is what she told me. The
13 Croats, the locals, they were very nice to us. I have
14 nothing bad to say against them. They even gave us
15 food, cigarettes, coffee, we did not have those things.
16 Q. Shortly after you received that warning from your
17 neighbour, did HVO soldiers come to your house? Tell
18 the judges, if they did come to your house, what they
19 said to you.
20 A. The four men who came, she asked where we were from,
21 I told them -- they saw these refugee cards and they
22 said, "you cannot leave this weekend house", which was
23 right next to the main road, Busovaca-Vitez. They were
24 impudent towards us and one of them turned and mumbled
25 something. I could not understand him. I was afraid.
1 Then they left. Then this Djurdja arrived again when
2 nobody was looking and she said, "run away and go to the
3 woods", and that is what we did.
4 Q. The soldiers that came to your house and told you not to
5 leave, how were they dressed?
6 A. They were in the camouflage uniforms with the HVO
7 insignia with the chequer board.
8 Q. After you received those instructions from the HVO
9 soldier and after you received a warning from your
10 neighbour, would you tell the judges what you observed
11 about the distribution of arms?
12 A. I went to the upper floor of this weekend house to pick
13 up some laundry and two trucks arrived. When they
14 parked in the parking lot, maybe ten minutes later Praga
15 came and they were talking. Praga went across the
16 bridge which was across the river, that is the Lasva
17 river, and they went to the woods and there was nothing
18 coming, no shooting that night. This Djurdja came again
19 to get some blanket again and give us some food and
20 said, "just run into the wood", but we could not flee,
21 we were surrounded, there was no way out, we could not
23 Then when I came out to the door, I saw a Mercedes
24 car. He --
25 Q. Before we get to that part of your testimony, I want to
1 stay with your observations about these two large
2 trucks. Could you see any kind of weapons that they
3 were distributing and could you please describe in
4 detail to the judges what you saw?
5 A. When I went to pick up the laundry, I told my husband
6 what had happened downstairs. They were bringing in
7 weapons. I am not a military person so I do not know,
8 but there were automatic rifles there, ammunition,
9 sniper rifles, machine-guns, anti-aircraft gun was taken
10 across the river, and then there was another thing whose
11 real name I do not know, and there were people, they had
12 trousers of the camouflage uniform and they had flak
13 jackets on top and another small group arrived and they
14 all came towards the upper Nadioci. That is where the
15 Muslims lived. Most probably, as far as I could tell,
16 they went to surround Nadioci and Ahmici.
17 In the morning of the 16th, the attack started.
18 Q. Again staying with your observations of the distribution
19 of these weapons, could you tell the judges who was
20 distributing these weapons? Were these soldiers, were
21 these civilians who were distributing the weapons?
22 A. Soldiers, the HVO soldiers, the HVO. They were
23 distributing the weapons and what little was left there,
24 there was some little ammunition, they covered it with
25 canvas canopy and they took it somewhere, towards Vitez
1 they went. We could not see them any more. Ahmici is
2 on the way to Vitez.
3 Q. You also said that you saw an anti-aircraft gun being
4 taken some place. Please tell the judges where you saw
5 the anti-aircraft gun being taken.
6 A. It was taken towards Ahmici, but I know it was that
7 because it is a big thing and in the morning -- I will
8 tell you, we did not sleep much. We saw all this
9 military milling around all night long, there were some
10 in camouflage uniform, some in black uniform, some had
11 the letter "U". They even called themselves Ustasha,
12 this is what we were told.
13 Q. Now let us talk about the night before the attack. You
14 were still in your residence, is that correct?
15 A. Yes, the weekend house of the man with whom we stayed.
16 We did not sleep that night, we did not dare turn on the
17 lights. We could see the soldiers passing in groups,
18 and they were split here on this intersection. Some
19 would go up towards the upper Nadioci and the others
20 went towards Ahmici and Vitez. This went on all night
21 long, we were whispering and we would overhear
22 something, but we could not make out the words. I could
23 not hear everything, but they talked on a walkie-talkie
24 and they called the bungalow, because we could hear when
25 he came back and said "bungalow". So there were guards,
1 we were silent all night long, and we were waiting to
2 see when they would come for us, but in the morning, the
3 attack started.
4 When the attack started, the whole land was on
5 fire. We heard shrieks from Nadioci, women and
6 children, so that we could not see who these were, but
7 most probably they were Muslims, because it was a Muslim
9 Then we panicked among the refugees, the Muslim
10 refugees and there were some locals among us too. Then
11 we started fleeing towards Dervis Ahmic and we went
12 there to his house and they told us, "do not be afraid
13 of all the neighbours", we feared them not. There was
14 only one, his nickname was Cicko, and he said that he
15 would drink balija blood. He had a big knife or a
16 bayonet. He wore black. I was very scared. There was
17 a Franjo called Svabo. He and his wife came over here,
18 they were Croats, he and his wife and his son. They
19 were all very nice people. They defended us from
20 Cicko. They removed him, but two other HVO neighbours
21 came and they took him away, so that we survived this.
22 Then this anti-aircraft gun kept pounding all day long,
23 and they were using also incendiary bullets.
24 After that, I went up there to look again.
25 I wanted to pick up the clothes, we saw that we needed
1 to run. So this was at Dervis Ahmic. I saw some bodies
2 floating downstream, three bodies, and then there were
3 another three bodies coming downstream. I was too
4 scared and I did not see anything any more. I was just
5 very scared, I had big problems with my nerves and I was
6 in fear. We were still there, there was a Mercedes car
7 that came and it was burgundy with black doors. He
8 came, just turned around and went towards the bungalow
9 and Ahmici. They came back quickly, one person came out
10 of the car, he came to Sefka's home, to the door and
11 I stepped outside. I saw that everything was over.
12 An HVO soldier came in a camouflage uniform, he
13 has a chequer board and the HVO insignia and he is going
14 to her door. I summoned some courage and I said, "she
15 is either not home or she cannot hear". He said to me,
16 "now she is going to hear it". He banged at the door
17 twice and then he kicked in the door and Sefka was at
18 Dervis Ahmic's. When the door was open, he was only
19 there two or three minutes. As he opened the door,
20 thick smoke started coming out and the house was on fire
21 in no time. The house was right next to the weekend
22 house or cottage. We left from there, we told at the
23 Dervis's what had happened. We collected some rags,
24 that is what we call clothes, and we said, "do not
25 worry, there are neighbours here, nothing will happen",
1 so we stayed there.
2 Q. Let me interrupt you just a minute, Witness S, and let
3 me get some points, to clarify if I can.
4 First off, the weekend house where you and your
5 husband lived was right next to the road, is that
7 A. Yes, and next to the river. The river was just below
8 the weekend house and in front of the weekend house was
9 the main road Busovaca to Vitez.
10 Q. You said at one point you went outside and you saw some
11 bodies floating in the Lasva river. How many bodies did
12 you see and could you tell whether those bodies were
13 civilians or the bodies of soldiers?
14 A. There were three people tied together, civilian men.
15 They were not women or military men, and when we came to
16 Dervis's house, we were passing through the garden, we
17 did not dare use the road and when we got there, we told
18 him that and they said, "do not be afraid, we have our
19 neighbours here". There was somebody called Slavko, a
20 very nice man, a Croat. He was also a military man from
21 the HVO and he said, "madam, do not be afraid". He said
22 to Dervis, "keep her calm and tell her not to worry".
23 That is what they did. They calmed us down, they gave
24 us sugar and water and then another completely red
25 Mercedes came --
1 Q. Let me interrupt you, because I want to stay on the
2 first vehicle that came to the house. You said a person
3 got out and that person was an HVO soldier. How many
4 other soldiers were with him when he got out and went to
5 Sefka's house?
6 A. There were four of them in all, with the driver. One of
7 them came out and three of them remained in the car on
8 the road. Also this second Mercedes, there were four of
9 them and all four of them came out, but the driver did
10 not come out. We did not see who the driver was. They
11 entered Dervis's house, or rather one of them entered
12 Dervis's house only.
13 Q. Let me stay at Sefka's house for just a minute, Witness
14 S. Was Sefka a Muslim?
15 A. Yes, Muslim. She was over 80. She had no children, she
16 had no one. She was alone, she was a widow. When we
17 got there, Sefka was screaming, she saw the house in
18 flames and she wanted us to put the fire down, and when
19 we came to Dervis's, we came across a man from the
20 Patkovic, from Zenica, and he is a friend of Dervis's.
21 Q. Let me turn, if I can, now to the arrival of the second
22 group of soldiers that came after -- okay. How many
23 soldiers came in the second group of soldiers?
24 A. In this second group there were four, plus the driver.
25 Q. What did they do? Please tell the judges what that
1 second group of soldiers did.
2 A. The second group of soldiers, this was still at Sefka's,
3 let me add, and they said, "who are you?", and we said
4 that they were Muslim refugees. They repeated, they
5 said, "you will go with us". But they did not take us,
6 and so we went to Dervis Ahmic, and we had not been
7 there for more than ten minutes when a third group came,
8 four of them plus the driver, one of them came out and
9 the others stood by the car, three of them. This one
10 came in and said, "get out, all of you get out". We all
11 went out and Dervis Ahmic's wife asked whether she could
12 carry some laundry she had prepared in a nylon bag, but
13 the HVO soldier said, "no you cannot take anything
15 When we came out, a cat was left, they threw the
16 cat out, then the cat ran back in and he chased it out
17 again. I came up to him and I said, "can we take our
18 things?", and he said, "you can", he did not mind. Then
19 we went out and then he said, "go to Nunga's house", his
20 son's house. This one went into the house and two
21 minutes later, smoke started billowing out of the house
22 and that very moment it burst into flames, and there was
23 nothing we could do.
24 Then another one said, "why do we not go into
25 Ferit's house", which was a house still under
1 construction. This one said, "there is no key", but
2 another one came up and kicked the door open. When we
3 went in, an automatic rifle was fired at us, one bullet
4 passed right by Dervis Ahmic, Patkovic was there, I did
5 not know him, and he is a friend of Dervis Ahmic, and
6 his daughter was there. He happened to be there when
7 the blockade took place, he could not get out, and when
8 these two came, they asked who we were, and then they
9 said to Patkovic that he should follow them. His
10 daughter started crying and the soldier said, "do not
11 cry, he will come back". He was taken from our weekend
12 house, this was 150 to 200 metres, they killed him on
13 the main road, the Busovaca-Vitez road.
14 Then I ran off to the weekend house to collect
15 whatever I could, and to flee into the woods, but some
16 people came, they turned Patkovic around and he was
17 killed, he was killed out of a pistol, I would say.
18 Then they pushed him among some sort of garbage and then
19 these others came and they turned him over. They picked
20 his pockets, but I recognised the man, I was in a
21 terrible state of shock, and when I came up to them,
22 I said -- they asked me why I was in such -- so
23 breathless and I said it was nothing, but I was
24 terrified. When we reached this weekend house, only
25 then did I see that they had thrown the body into the
1 Lasva. This body reached Zenica, they took him out of
2 the water and they buried him in Zenica.
3 Q. Witness S, let me just ask you some clarifying
4 questions. You said you saw some people go into Dervis
5 Ahmic's house and after the person or persons went into
6 that house, the house caught fire. Describe that person
7 to the judges, please, the person who went into the
9 A. Yes. When talking about these people, I have to say
10 they are the HVO, the Armija was not there, it was
11 mostly the refugees who were in these weekend houses.
12 There were 11 families in all, 17 families.
13 Q. You also said that Patkovic was taken out by some
14 individuals. Was he taken out by HVO soldiers?
15 A. HVO, yes. They took him out, and they killed him, the
16 HVO. The people who came by and who threw the body into
17 the water were also HVO. These were all soldiers, HVO
18 soldiers in Nadioci.
19 Q. At some point, did you return to your weekend house and
20 did some HVO soldiers come into your house and do
21 certain things in your house? Please explain to the
23 A. They came later, four of them. They were not local
24 people, from Croatia, Dalmatia and Skutjure. They are
25 in the borderline between Bosnia-Herzegovina and
1 Dalmatia and we can recognise them by their dialect, the
2 way they speak. They came in and as soon as they
3 entered one of them hit me, my lower dentures fell out.
4 Then they searched our bags, they threw around
5 everything, they trampled on everything, they took my
6 handbag and my husband's bag, all the documents and what
7 little money that we had, some jewellery and my
8 documents, my papers. They took everything and they
9 took it off, they did not give it back to us. They hit
10 my husband two or three times. I closed my eyes, then
11 another one came back and slapped him again, and I said,
12 "you will not get out of here alive". All this was the
13 HVO army.
14 They left, we again went to Dervis Ahmic's, we
15 told him what was happening, then his son Ferit came,
16 they call him Ferdo. We talked, and then his grandson
17 came and he said, "some more soldiers are over there".
18 I went over there, they just asked me where we were
19 from, I said we were from Jajce, they turned around and
20 left. Then Djurdja came, my next door neighbour, she is
21 Croat, and when they left, she cried and she gave food
22 and she said, "watch out, run for the woods".
23 Q. Please tell the judges the circumstances under which you
24 left the weekend houses and eventually arrived in
1 A. From the weekend house, we went to Dervis Ahmic's again,
2 but in the meantime when we went back, this Franjo known
3 as Svabo came, he was making some sort of a list,
4 because allegedly we would be taken to Busovaca for an
5 exchange. We asked him things but he answered nothing,
6 and then he said that he had been -- they had been
7 forbidden to speak to us, and he said that they would
8 come and collect us.
9 In the meantime, this Franjo's son came up, and
10 his wife Zora, and said, "whatever you have, quickly put
11 it in a nylon bag, a van will be coming to take you down
12 town to the school". That school was a camp, but we
13 were lucky, a man from the Red Cross came, he made a
14 list of our names and we were taken into a room, he
15 listed us. The International Red Cross had come, they
16 put us into buses, we had personnel carriers and that is
17 how we were taken to Zenica, and in Zenica there was no
18 food, we were hungry, and so we moved to Travnik. That
19 is where we stayed, in Travnik.
20 MR. HARMON: Thank you very much, Witness S, I have no
21 additional questions.
22 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Mr. Harmon. I am very sensitive to
23 the form you used which was concise and which I assume
24 allowed you to ask all questions that you wanted.
25 Witness S, I am sure you have been told, it is now
1 the Defence counsel who will do the cross-examination,
2 he is Mr. Nobilo and he will do it.
3 Cross-examined by MR. NOBILO
4 Q. Good afternoon, I am Defence counsel Anto Nobilo, my
5 colleague is Mr. Hayman, we are Defence counsel for
6 General Blaskic.
7 A. I apologise, I am not testifying against General
8 Blaskic. I do not even know him, I am just saying who
9 the soldiers were, I do not know Blaskic.
10 Q. So you have never heard of him?
11 A. No, not until this happened in Vitez.
12 Q. Did you ever see him? Did anyone mention him that
14 A. No, no one did.
15 Q. Did anyone mention him while you were there?
16 A. Mostly it was Kordic that they mentioned.
25 A. About 300 metres, not more.
1 Q. And then Ahmici begins?
2 A. The bungalow and then Ahmici.
3 Q. Who was the owner of the house you were living in?
4 A. Surely I cannot remember.
5 Q. Never mind, it is not so important.
6 A. Maybe I will remember later.
7 Q. Do you remember when you were telling the Prosecutor
8 about the truck which came with weapons, where did it
9 stop, in front of whose house?
10 A. In the main road, in the parking area.
11 Q. In what direction were people carrying the rifles to?
12 A. In the direction of Nadioci. There is upper Nadioci
13 where the Muslims live.
14 Q. You said that you saw automatic rifle snipers,
15 ammunition and rocket launchers; how far were you?
16 A. About 50 metres.
17 Q. This parking area, was it next to the bungalow?
18 A. No, the bungalow is further down. The parking area is
19 in the direction of Gornji Nadioci.
20 Q. So not on the main road?
21 A. Yes, on the main road, and then the road goes on to
22 Gornji Nadioci.
23 Q. And were those automatic rifles in boxes or uncovered?
24 A. There were small rifles, they were under canvas and then
25 they took away the canvas and then there were piles of
1 boxes. They took down the boxes and there were several
3 Q. How many?
4 A. I think two or three, I did not see any more.
5 Q. And in the box?
6 A. Probably ammunition, I could not see.
7 Q. These small automatic rifles, how many of them were
9 A. I think they took about 20 and they went off to Gornji
11 Q. You mentioned the rocket launcher, what did it look
13 A. Well, it looked like this --
14 JUDGE JORDA: Could you go slowly, please? Avoid this
15 dialogue which is too direct, because the witness must
16 speak to the judges. I am sure the conversation is very
17 pleasant in your own language, but does not always allow
18 the judges to follow the questions and the answers.
19 MR. NOBILO: Though some people say it is two languages,
20 still we do understand each other.
21 JUDGE JORDA: No problem.
22 MR. NOBILO: Yes, indeed.
23 What did this rocket launcher look like?
24 A. As far as I could see, it was about this size, so high
25 (indicates). It has several slots for shells and then
1 one after another the shells come out. I saw this in
2 Jajce the same thing but I saw it there also and that is
3 how I know it is a multiple rocket launcher.
4 Q. How high is it?
5 A. This high, about one metre.
6 Q. Did they unload it from the truck?
7 A. They took it to Gornji Nadioci, and this anti-aircraft
8 gun was taken across the river.
9 Q. You said you did not sleep that night; what about your
10 neighbours, did they sleep?
11 A. No, they did not.
12 Q. Was it obvious that something was in the offing, that
13 there would be a conflict?
14 A. Yes, all of us could see that.
15 Q. Could your neighbours in Ahmici see that?
16 MR. HARMON: Excuse me, Mr. President, I would ask that
17 Mr. Nobilo permit the witness time to answer the question
18 before he asks the next question.
19 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, that is right. You have to think about
20 the interpreters, Mr. Nobilo.
21 MR. NOBILO: Yes, I am sorry. We must slow down.
2 A. I do not know, I was not in Ahmici. They knew in the
3 morning, they saw what was happening. If they went out
4 of Ahmici, they must have seen the machine-guns, the
5 reinforcements made of sandbags, and that sort of thing.
6 Q. Could they see the trucks?
7 A. No.
8 Q. This truck with the weapons, from what direction did it
10 A. It came from Busovaca.
11 Q. Tell me, you mentioned three Mercedes. Could you
12 explain to the judges, when you say a Mercedes, do you
13 mean a limousine?
14 A. You mean with the HVO soldiers?
15 Q. Yes.
16 A. The ordinary passenger car.
17 Q. Where did they come from?
18 A. They came one of them from Busovaca and the other two
19 from the direction of Vitez.
20 Q. The killing of Patkovic, did you yourself see him being
22 A. No, I did not see him the moment he was killed, but
23 I saw them turning him round because I recognised his
24 sweater and his coat, because we were sitting in the
25 room with his friend.
1 Q. But you did not see under which circumstances he was
3 A. By the sound of the bullet, I think it must have been a
5 Q. You mentioned some neighbours who protected you.
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Can you tell me their names?
8 A. There was Igor, what his surname was, then there was
9 someone Slavko and other Croat neighbours. There is
10 nothing I can say against any one of them. It was all
11 being done by army coming from the outside.
12 Q. And these Croat neighbours, Igor, Franjo's son, were
13 they wearing uniforms and they had HVO insignia too?
14 A. Yes, they did, but they did not do any evil to anyone as
15 far as I know. I do not know about any others.
16 Q. Tell me, before going to the school in Vitez, were there
17 any problems with Cicko?
18 A. Yes. He wore a black uniform, he had the letter U on
19 his hat, he had the HVO patch on his sleeve and the
20 chequer board flag and the U. He came and he cursed my
21 Muslim mother, that he wants to -- that he is thirsty
22 for Muslim blood, he took out a knife or a bayonet ready
23 to slaughter and I nearly fainted.
24 Q. But who saved you?
25 A. Franjo's wife and son. They somehow came from behind
1 his back and pulled him away and then some locals, also
2 HVOs, came and they would not let him do anything.
3 Q. Did they, those HVO soldiers, did they tell you that you
4 were to be taken to the school in Vitez because you
5 would be safer there?
6 A. Yes, he said we should not go near the window just in
7 case a bullet may find its way there by chance.
8 Q. Was Igor in the HVO, a military policeman?
9 A. Yes, he was. His family would give us food during the
10 night so that nobody knew.
11 Q. What about Dervis Ahmic's house, did it remain in one
13 A. No, both Sefka's and his house were destroyed.
14 Q. Did you hear of Tihomir Blaskic in Jajce?
15 A. No.
16 MR. NOBILO: That is all, thank you, Mr. President. We have
17 completed our cross-examination.
18 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Harmon, do you have any additional
19 questions you would like to ask?
20 MR. HARMON: No further questions, Mr. President.
21 JUDGE JORDA: Very well, I now turn to my colleagues.
22 Judge Riad?
23 JUDGE RIAD: Good afternoon.
24 A. Good afternoon.
25 Q. I just want to have some clarifications about the things
1 you said. Among the things you said, you said that you
2 noticed when you were going I think to Vitez to see your
3 doctor, you saw sandbags put to make shelters in the
4 road towards Zenica and in the intersections near the
5 Hotel Vitez.
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Was this because of any attack coming on Vitez? Did you
8 notice that anybody was attacking Vitez? Why did you
9 think these sandbags were being put?
10 A. They were putting there, as far as we could see, it was
11 a preparation of the HVO to go against the army, but
12 where the army was, where this military was, that I did
13 not know, so they were making covers or shelters for
14 themselves. They had the machine-guns there, those
15 bandoleers, and we knew what was going to happen, that
16 they were going against the Muslim population. It was
17 all obvious, nothing was hidden there. I was going to
18 Vitez even before that and nothing was there, but it was
19 just around the time when they were making these
21 Q. But you could not see any threat which justified these
23 A. No, just the things that we were going to be taken to
24 Busovaca, to Kordic, to be exchanged, nobody, everybody
25 was going to be exchanged, I do not know. In terms of
1 the neighbours, there were no threats from the
2 neighbours, just from the HVO who were from somewhere
3 else. Our neighbours were not bad towards us, they were
4 really nice, they were fine towards us. I have nothing
5 against them. I can only speak of what I have seen and
6 what I did not know of I am not going to say anything.
7 I received a big shock from all this.
8 Q. How long before, let us say, the action against the
9 civilians started, did these sandbags and preparations
10 being put? Was it just before the attacks against the
12 A. Yes, several days before. I may not even have --
13 I could have not even seen it had I not gone to the
14 doctors for the check-up. That is how I saw they were
15 preparing. It was immediately clear to us.
16 Q. You also mentioned that you saw the HVO distributing
17 weapons. Whom were they distributing the weapons to?
18 A. There were some people who were not locals, because
19 otherwise I would have recognised them, because we were
20 fine with them at first, and later too, with the locals
21 we were fine. They had these camouflage uniforms, you
22 know, the trousers, and on top they were in civilian
23 clothes. They were going up towards upper Nadioci.
24 I guess that is where they connect to Ahmici, through
25 the forest. That is what I saw.
1 Q. You also saw bodies floating in the Lasva river, you saw
2 three civilians tied together. Where were they coming
3 from, could you notice where they were coming from and
4 going where? Did you notice the source of these people?
5 A. It was coming up stream from Vitez, so there is Vitez
6 and the river is flowing down from there. That is where
7 they were coming. Where they were thrown in, dumped
8 into the river, that I do not know. We just heard
9 shooting, so pistol fire and other fire, so it was all
10 near. Then later I saw three bodies and after I saw the
11 second group of three bodies, it was over for me. I was
12 in such a terrible shape that I came -- I was only 45
13 kilograms, I weighed only 45 kilograms. This was all
14 from fear, not because of the lack of food, because our
15 neighbours the Croats gave us food. They were very nice
16 people. There was one man called Slavko and he said,
17 "please, just gather and leave, flee towards the
18 woods". He told us this, he was a very nice man.
19 Q. Did he tell you why, why you should flee?
20 A. No, he did not.
21 Q. It so happened that you saw Petkovic being taken out and
22 you said you heard him being shot --
23 A. From the house.
24 Q. What was his position? Was he one of the leaders of the
25 area? Why did they choose him, or was he just taken as
1 they would take anybody else? The same question, when
2 they came in your house and hit you and your husband,
3 was your husband among the people acting against the
5 A. No, my husband was a retiree, he went into retirement
6 before the war, his health was impaired. Patkovic came
7 from Zenica to visit his daughter in Nadioci. He came
8 to visit her. I do not know why him, he was no
9 politician, he did not wear a uniform. I do not know if
10 he had been a soldier before, but they took him out,
11 that is all. They also wanted to take the Dervis
12 Ahmic's son, but they hid him and he survived. They
13 were nice people, so they sheltered some Muslims and
14 these were the neighbours. Those who came from other
15 sides from Skutjure, Dalmatia and Croatia, those were
16 the bad people. That is it. What I did not see
17 I cannot speak to, and I have no interest in lying.
18 I feel sorry for General Blaskic, he is a young
19 man, it is clear who sent him there, it is clear who is
20 responsible for this there. I feel sorry for everyone,
21 it was all kind of naive the way it all came, the people
22 and the military, all that. It is sad all this that
23 happened for all these lives.
24 Q. Just to go back to my question, you have been hit and
25 your husband hit and Petkovic has been killed, but that
1 was for no special reason, you were not selected, so you
2 were just taken as anybody else for no special reason,
3 so there was no selection of people among others?
4 A. No, and nobody else except for Patkovic. They took our
5 refugee ID and they saw we were from Jajce. As far as
6 I can recall, one of them could have been from the Jajce
7 area, he was a HVO man, he had a hat on his head and he
8 said, "it is all right", when he saw where we were from,
9 that we were from Jajce and that was it.
10 Q. Where are you living now? Where do you live? Do not
11 answer that. You did not go back?
12 A. No.
13 Q. You spoke of your weekend house and so on. You never
14 went back to it?
15 A. No.
16 Q. Who occupies it now, do you know?
17 A. I know, these are all Croats, Croat refugees, there is a
18 lot of Croat refugees. A lot of weekend houses were
19 also burned down and otherwise destroyed.
20 Q. No Muslims are left, you mean?
21 A. No, no Muslims left.
22 JUDGE RIAD: Thank you very much.
23 A. You are welcome.
24 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Witness S, would I be interpreting your
25 position correctly if I said that I understand you to be
1 speaking with sadness but not with bitterness about what
3 A. Yes, with sadness. I am sorry that all this happened.
4 We had fine neighbours, both sides, we all lived well,
5 and now hatred has entered the people. We were killed,
6 we have nothing left. Fortunately nobody in my family
7 was in the army, I was nobody in the military. This
8 includes my brothers and my husband and my in-laws, but
9 the families who lost people and only one member of the
10 family surviving, that is really sad. That is terrible
11 pain which will never go away.
12 Q. You had some good Croat neighbours and friends?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Who protected you.
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Are you still in touch with them?
17 A. If I would pass through Vitez, and only I would be
18 afraid of Cicko. I am only afraid of him, of nobody
19 else. I believe that we would all be glad to see each
20 other, to hug and kiss each other, with all these
21 neighbours. But in my family, there are all three
22 ethnic groups, Croats and Serbs and we are Muslim, and
23 everything was normal and we interact normally among
25 Q. Since these incidents happened, have you been back to
1 the area?
2 A. No. I just pass through, going to Sarajevo, when I was
3 taking my husband to the hospital.
4 Q. Some people mentioned to you the name of Mr. Kordic.
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. You had television in your home?
7 A. No, after we became refugees, no. I had everything in
8 my original house, but during the war, no, we did not.
9 Q. Let us speak of your original home. Did you have
10 television there?
11 A. Yes, I had it, I had everything, I had a fully furnished
12 house. I could live normally and I could have lived
13 like that to the end of my life. I did not miss
14 anything, we were both retired, we went on vacations, we
15 went to the coast.
16 Q. Did you look at television then in your original home?
17 A. Yes, I did. We had not heard of Kordic until we became
18 refugees, until the October 1992 we were in Jajce, you
20 Q. I see. Now let us talk about the sandbags. You said
21 you visited Vitez and I gathered that you saw some
22 sandbags at the intersection of the Hotel Vitez.
23 A. Yes, not only on that intersection, it was in other
24 intersections as well, towards the old Vitez as well,
25 where the Muslims were, and over on the other side
1 towards Zenica, it is called Treskavica. I saw all
2 that. I had not seen it before, because I often went
3 doctors, my wounds were not healing properly so I was
4 getting them dressed. So I had not seen it before,
5 until these preparations started about a week before.
6 Q. Somewhere in your evidence, you referred to these
7 sandbags as "reinforcements". Would you describe the
8 sandbags which you saw at the intersection at the Hotel
9 Vitez as reinforcements?
10 A. Yes, I can describe that, of course. Everybody knows
11 what a bag is, and they were stacked on top of one
12 another and that was -- and then where the barrel was
13 pointing out, that would leave a space as they were
14 stacking these bags.
15 Q. Did you see a gun barrel at that intersection?
16 A. Of course I did, I saw the whole machine-gun, I saw the
17 bandoleers and the automatic rifles and I saw sniper
18 rifles, I know this. I had a neighbour in Jajce, his
19 name was Goran and at his house there were weapons. We
20 went along well. The husband was a policeman, and they
21 went to Dalmatia and they left the keys with me so I saw
22 all these weapons in their house. When the Chetniks
23 arrived, we just fled and left everything.
24 Q. Could I trouble you to go back to that particular
25 sandbag reinforcement which you saw at the Hotel Vitez
1 intersection? You said you saw a gun. Could you tell
2 the court, in what direction was the barrel pointed?
3 A. This barrel was pointed -- it was not one machine-gun,
4 there were two of them, they were pointing towards the
5 old section of Vitez where exclusively Muslims,
6 Bosniaks, lived, and up towards Vjetrenica, they trained
7 their barrels towards Vjetrenica. I saw all this and
8 I told my husband, "let us flee while we can, while the
9 road is still open", and he said, "let us stay, even if
10 we are killed".
11 Q. One last question, --
12 A. If I knew I would have left him.
13 Q. You saw all of this before 16th April?
14 A. Yes.
15 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Thank you.
16 A. You are welcome.
17 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. The Tribunal is very appreciative
18 for your having come to The Hague. I am sure this was
19 not easy. I will not ask any additional questions.
20 A. It was not that hard.
21 JUDGE JORDA: Very well.
22 A. Thank you very much. We were received very nicely here
23 too, I have an impression that they were very, very nice
24 to us, so when I go back to Jajce, they are all welcome
25 to my place.
1 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you very much. No, please do not move.
2 The hearing will be adjourned until 4.30.
3 (4.10 pm)
4 (A short break)
5 (4.30 pm)
6 JUDGE JORDA: We will now resume the hearing. Have the
7 accused brought in, please.
8 (Accused brought in)
9 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Gregory Kehoe, I see you are the one who is
10 going to do the examination. You were able to
11 synthesise everything yesterday and I see you want to
12 sustain your good reputation. The floor is yours, now.
13 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President, thank you, your Honours. The
14 next witness is Witness R. In an effort, Mr. President,
15 your Honours, to comply with the Chamber's request, we
16 have honed down our witness list and the witness for the
17 village of Donje Veceriska. If we can turn to the ELMO
18 just briefly, gentlemen, up in the booth, one can see
19 that Donje Veceriska is the village where the pointer is
20 pointed to and it is just above the village of Besici.
21 What is in between there on the low level ground is the
22 SPS factory, a factory that builds military wares.
23 This particular village was attacked, as were many
24 other villages in the Lasva Valley area, on 16th April
25 1993. This particular witness, Witness R, will detail
1 that attack, the burning of houses, the killing of
2 civilians, the ultimate removal of all the Muslims from
3 the village on the morning of the 16th. He will
4 likewise testify about the various units that were
5 involved. Again he will testify of HV units, HVO units,
6 units that were dressed in camouflage, units that were
7 dressed in black, units that were dressed with the
8 letter U, Ustasha, on their helmets.
9 In addition to that he will testify that in
10 addition to the burning of the housing on the 16th, that
11 burning continued through the 17th and yet still on the
12 18th when the refugees from the village of Donje
13 Veceriska fled to the UN base, which, you will see from
14 the map, and I know your Honours have seen before, is
15 down on the road going into Vitez. When they were in
16 there with numerous other refugees, they were being
17 sniped at, they could observe the continued burning of
18 the village of Donje Veceriska on the 18th and we will
19 have a photograph of that, the witness will be able to
20 identify the locations that continued to be burned, and
21 thereafter, consistent with the witness that testified
22 this morning, Ms. Hrustic, he will testify that they
23 observed the shelling of the village of Gacice from the
24 low plain where the SPS factory was which, of course,
25 was controlled by HVO troops.
1 In sum, Mr. President, your Honours, that is what
2 Witness R will testify to. With regard to relation to
3 the charges itself, Mr. President, his testimony will
4 cover virtually every paragraph in count 1. His
5 testimony will go to the very heart of the persecution
6 count, which is the persecution of the Muslim population
7 in the Lasva Valley and elsewhere. His testimony will
8 likewise be directed toward the wilful killing of
9 civilians and as you note in counts 11 and 13 of the
10 indictment, the destruction and plunder of property
11 lists the village of Donje Veceriska as one of the
12 villages where there was extensive destruction and
13 destruction of property at the hands of soldiers under
14 the command of the accused.
15 That in substance, Mr. President, your Honours, is
16 the testimony of Witness R and how it relates directly
17 to the terms of the indictment.
18 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you very much. You see that only took
19 three or four minutes. The Tribunal would really
20 appreciate it if in all of your questions you could
21 bring them back to these counts, which you generally
22 do. All right, without any further ado, I can ask the
23 Registrar to have the usher bring the witness in.
24 MR. KEHOE: If I may, your Honour, I think in an effort to
25 expedite matters, at the outset, if I could offer him
1 some of the exhibits that Defence counsel and certainly
2 your Honours can follow along so that I will not have to
3 interrupt him, he can go and explain what these numbers
4 are and I think it is going to be a lot easier --
5 JUDGE JORDA: That would be very good.
6 MR. KEHOE: -- than have him do a narrative and me come back
7 to these numbers.
8 JUDGE JORDA: I think my colleagues will agree to that way
9 of working. Very well, I think that is good
10 (Witness entered court)
11 JUDGE JORDA: Witness R, do you hear me?
12 THE WITNESS: Yes, I do.
13 JUDGE JORDA: The Registrar is going to give you a
14 declaration which you will be asked to read. It is the
15 oath that you are to take before the judges. We are
16 listening to you. Go ahead. Please read it.
17 WITNESS R (sworn)
18 JUDGE JORDA: Please verify on the paper that the Registrar
19 is showing you, but without stating your name, just be
20 sure that it is your name. Do not say anything, simply
21 say that is who you are.
22 A. Yes.
23 JUDGE JORDA: You have protective measures which have been
24 suggested by the Prosecutor and which the judges agreed
25 to, in agreement with the Defence. You can speak
1 without fear, and make your statement about the events
2 that you experienced in Donje Veceriska at the time of
3 the attack of 16th April 1993. We have discussed with
4 the Prosecutor how this will be done, the Prosecutor
5 will explain it to you, the floor is yours, Mr. Kehoe.
6 Examined by MR. KEHOE
7 Q. Thank you, Mr. President.
8 Good afternoon, Witness R.
9 A. Good afternoon.
10 Q. Witness R, can you tell us your age at this point?
11 A. I am 39.
12 Q. Are you a Muslim, sir?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Sir, prior to 16th April 1993, did you and your family
15 live in the village of Donje Veceriska in the
16 municipality of Vitez?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Before, Witness R, we get into your explanation and your
19 narrative to the judges about what happened, you
20 assisted the Office of the Prosecutor in preparing
21 several maps and circled various locations that took
22 place over the course of 16th April to 18th April, did
23 you not?
24 A. Yes, I did.
25 Q. At this juncture, Mr. Dubuisson, if we could give to the
1 witness and to the judges and to the Defence Exhibit
2 161, 162 and 163, the first three maps. Those numbers
3 should follow sequentially after number 12, going into
4 the next and this should be the last one. May I,
5 Mr. President?
6 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, go ahead, in order to speed things up.
7 Go ahead. Help the usher. Does the Defence see what is
8 here? No, it is not clear for the Defence either.
9 MR. KEHOE: It should follow sequentially, number wise.
10 Thank you for the court's indulgence, Mr. President,
11 your Honours.
12 JUDGE JORDA: Very well, let us go.
13 MR. KEHOE: Now Witness R -- for the record, Mr. President,
14 161 and 162 are enlargements of Exhibit 55 and 163 is an
15 enlargement of Exhibit 56.
16 Witness R, you said that you were living in the
17 village of Donje Veceriska until 16th April 1993, which
18 was the morning of the attack, is that right?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. In your own words, Witness R, can you explain to the
21 judges how you saw this conflict happening, beginning
22 shortly before the attack on the 16th and then explain
23 what happened with the attack, referring to the numbers
24 on these exhibits and where you and the other Muslims
25 from Donje Veceriska ultimately went to. Could you do
1 that in your own words, sir?
2 A. Let me begin my story by mid March 1993. The Croatian
3 population started moving out, but they were only
4 civilians, women, children and the elderly. They would
5 move out and the next day they would come back to the
6 village. On 15th April 1993, they did the same, they
7 went away at dusk with vans, passenger cars, whatever
8 they had, that is the Croatian civilians left, and then
9 at 5.30 on the 16th, the attack by the HVO, by the
10 Croats, was carried out against my village, Donje
12 What happened was that at 5.30, my father and
13 myself -- both my father and mother were killed -- we
14 came out into the porch and we heard very strong
15 shelling, we saw the shells fall all over the village.
16 I followed my father into the house and when we got in,
17 he told me that I should go and wake up Nevzeta
18 Muslimovic and her children, she was a refugee from
19 Turbe, she had four small children, and that I should
20 wake her up and tell her to take shelter under the
21 steps, though he thought that it was an air raid,
22 because we had been raided before but by the JNA, so
23 that everyone thought that the same thing was being
25 However, I went out to Nevzeta's house, I ran
1 across to the house. There was no infantry fire yet, no
2 fire from infantry weapons, and as I was about to enter
3 Nevzeta's house, I could see many soldiers near Milko
4 Franjic's house, they were armed soldiers, HVO, Croats,
5 and I jumped into the house. When I got in, this is
6 building number 2 here (indicates), when I got in, the
7 firing, the shooting intensified, children starting
8 screaming, we all fell to the floor in the kitchen of
9 Nevzeta Muslimovic's house and the bullets were coming
10 through the walls. All the panes were broken by the
11 bullets, it was chaos everywhere, screaming, crying. We
12 were on the floor, and then HVO soldiers threw in a
13 grenade, into the corridor. There was a very powerful
14 explosion in the corridor, we were on the floor of the
15 kitchen. After that, Nevzeta asked her husband to go
16 upstairs to bring some money that her sister had sent
17 her, I do not know how much exactly, about 200 German
18 Marks, and when he came down the steps, he yelled,
19 "flee, they have thrown another grenade".
20 At that moment, I jumped, I picked up the smallest
21 child who was three years old, I ran out of the house,
22 there was a cloud of smoke and dust, and then another
23 grenade went off, but fortunately it went off under the
24 steps, so a piece of concrete hit me in the chest.
25 I could hardly breathe. When I went out of the house,
1 the children had followed their mother and their father,
2 and when I got up, I could see many soldiers around us,
3 some of them were wearing camouflage uniforms with
4 helmets, with the letter U; others had black uniforms
5 and they were masked. They also bore the letter U.
6 Those with masks had HVO insignia too, they were cursing
7 and insulting us and mentioning our balija mothers, and
8 one of them hit me with a rifle butt.
9 He told me to put my hands up behind my head,
10 I know his name, he was Sulaja, he is the waiter's son.
11 I also recognised Vlado Franjic, Milko Franjic, others
12 were with masks and I could not recognise them. These
13 I knew because they were my neighbours. They told me to
14 put my hands on my head, and I did so. Then I had to go
15 out into the road. There was shooting everywhere, all
16 the houses and stables were on fire and behind us,
17 behind this house where I was, everything was burning
18 and I learnt later that Dzafer Basic from Obrovac had
19 burnt in that house. He was a refugee. He was burnt
20 together with a horse and a cow in the stable.
21 When I got on to the road, the soldiers followed
22 me, the HVO soldiers, and Dzemo Haskic's daughter called
23 me out. She was two metres from the road. She called
24 me by name to help, because the father was seriously
25 wounded, the man had lost his arm, he was lying in the
1 corridor in a pool of blood. Mechanically I went in
2 that direction to help the man, but they were yelling at
3 me, telling me to come back and cursing my mother, and
4 so I decided if they were going to kill me, let them and
5 I started to run between a tractor and Dzemo's old
6 house, which is here marked with number 4 (indicates).
7 I jumped over a fence, there was fire following
8 me, then another fence, and when I reached Omer Haskic's
9 stable, there was some shelter there. Omer's stable was
10 burnt down. Haskic's house, stable, everything, there
11 was flames everywhere, the cows were screeching,
12 everything had been burnt down.
13 When I reached the corner of the stable, the last
14 bit of it, the last bit of the roof caved in. When
15 I looked around again to run, I saw Bono Drmic with a
16 rifle. He looked at me, we went to school together. He
17 turned round, he cursed, I do not remember exactly what,
18 and then he went, he left. So I took advantage of the
19 moment and ran away, I fled to behind a concrete wall,
20 where manure was piled. This was near the structure
21 marked 6. I was sheltered there, and there was firing
22 everywhere. I did not know where to go. I was trying
23 to reach the lower parts of the village where most of
24 the Muslims were, but the shooting was fierce, so
25 I waited there for a chance to come and while I was
1 waiting, I was barefoot, and I must have cut my foot on
2 glass, because I did not feel any pain or anything.
3 I saw two soldiers going towards Meho's house in
4 camouflage uniforms. One of them had a helmet. There
5 were several of them around the house, but I recognised
6 by the colour of his hair Franjo Sapo, Sapina. They
7 called Meho by name. He was a man of 65, he was a
8 retiree. He was just about to light a cigarette. We
9 just heard the burst of fire and the man dropped in a
10 pool of blood. This was about six or seven metres away
11 from me.
12 After that, I ran across the road and entered a
13 kind of summer kitchen near Meho's house which was full
14 of children and women, they were crying, there was
15 screaming. Again I found Nevzeta and her children
16 there. They had fled there, but we could not stay,
17 because they were approaching too close, and they were
18 torching everything on the way. There was a blind man
19 with us, a refugee from Turbe, so we carried him too,
20 and all of us moved from that summer kitchen through an
21 open area under fire into the house of Cazim Haskic.
22 For the hour that we spent there, during that
23 time, more than 50 or 40 to 50 grenades fell in that
24 hour, in addition to infantry fire and anti-aircraft
25 fire. We were in a cellar where there was water up to
1 the knees. There was a new-born baby there, he was only
2 20 days old, he was Meho's grandson. There were many
3 children. They were crying.
4 However, we could not go further, so we hid there
5 all that day,, because there was an open space in front
6 of us, point 10 on the map, so there was no way that we
7 could cross this area, and Dzafer, who had burnt in his
8 stable that I mentioned at the beginning, and his wife
9 was hit by a sniper coming from Zoran Franjic's house.
10 It was 8.00 or 8.30 in the morning and no one dared go
11 up to her and next to her was her little girl, who was
12 two or three, and she was crying. Somehow we cried out
13 to her that she should tie the wound up with something,
14 because no one dared go up to her, because she was
15 exposed to fire by HVO soldiers, and the Croats, the
16 local Croats.
17 It was only in the evening that we were able to
18 help Hadzira. We made, improvise some stretchers. This
19 was in the evening, and we carried her to the lower part
20 of the village known as Brdo. There we established
21 contact with people, they were mostly Muslim inhabitants
22 there because all the Croats had left, except for the
23 able-bodied men. So we got in touch with the people,
24 they helped us, they gave us whatever they had to give.
25 I did not want anything because my parents had
1 been left behind, they were killed by the HVO soldiers.
2 My father was 72, my mother also 72. My mother was
3 disabled. Hadzira was later taken away by UNPROFOR to a
4 hospital, I suppose. We stayed around in those houses
5 during the 17th, and during the night, between the
6 17th and 18th, we decided to take another road leading
7 out of Veceriska towards the UNPROFOR base and we
8 decided to do this in the early morning between 3.00 and
9 4.00. We were completely silent. There was a column of
10 800 or more people, because there were many people who
11 had fled from Karaula and Turbe.
12 I have to mention that here at point 6 another
13 three old women were killed, Habiba Haskic, who was 80,
14 and her sister, who had fled from Karaula about the same
15 age, maybe a couple of years younger, and Habiba's
16 daughter-in-law, Hurabiba, who was 55.
17 As we were going towards the base, and withdrawing
18 from the village, at a curve, at a bend in the road, in
19 the direction of the UNPROFOR base, the HVO shot at the
20 civilians from the gates of the SPS factory, plant P,
21 and from a hilltop known as Divjak.
22 I have to point out that these were all civilians
23 coming from Besici, they too had retreated to Brdo on
24 the 17th in the evening, so that the whole village was
25 there and we had to abandon the village because we were
1 totally surrounded. There were quite a number of
2 wounded civilians, and we had to retreat towards the
3 UNPROFOR base. We were looking for salvation, we had
4 nowhere else to go. The UNPROFOR met us, they switched
5 on the lights, we all cried out that they should turn
6 off the lights because they would shoot. When they saw
7 us, they put us up in front of their battalion base, and
8 we stayed there for four days, maybe five, I cannot
9 remember, because I was extremely upset because of my
10 parents, who were left behind in the house and were
11 later killed by the HVO soldiers, and they are buried in
12 a joint grave in old Vitez.
13 While we were there next to the UNPROFOR base at
14 Divjak, Divjak was attacked too and the civilians had
15 withdrawn, the Muslim civilians, and they were all put
16 up there because we felt that they could protect us, as
17 we were all civilians. On the 18th, I think it was in
18 the afternoon, the explosion occurred, that terrible
19 explosion in Stari Vitez so that there were very many
20 people who came to the base, because the UNPROFOR was
21 evacuating the women and children, so that night, the
22 night of the 18th, near the improvised camp, four
23 civilians, they were firing bullets at us and again
24 there were cries and screams but fortunately no one was
25 wounded. Maybe they were, but I cannot remember, I do
1 not know. Then the UNPROFOR soldiers found the two men
2 who were shooting, I saw them escorting them in
3 camouflage uniforms, they were saying something, I do
4 not know what.
5 I must mention that in Veceriska, eight civilians
6 were killed, mostly women and elderly people, and also
7 Sakib Zlotrg, who was over 65. While we were surrounded
8 in Donje Veceriska, throughout the chemical plant, the
9 SPS, the Vitezit, there was an anti-aircraft gun mounted
10 on a car, and it was shooting at houses and setting fire
11 to them. It would fire from one end and then go by the
12 other side so that it was firing while moving, and there
13 was total chaos.
14 I do not myself know how I survived, because
15 I nearly went mad, altogether mad. That is it.
16 Q. Okay, Witness R --
17 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Witness R. I think that the
18 Prosecutor will ask for some details about several
19 points in support of the indictment against General
21 Mr. Kehoe?
22 MR. KEHOE: Thank you, Mr. President.
23 Just a few questions, Witness R. Prior to
24 16th April, where were you working?
25 A. I was working in the SPS in Vitez, the Princip factory.
1 Q. Did there come a time in 1993 when special units,
2 special armed units came into the SPS factory and
3 essentially took control?
4 A. This was as early as October 1992, before the new
5 year's. They came in, I did not know them, they just
6 entered the factory, they took over, there was no
7 resistance there, nobody was putting up any resistance,
8 anyway. When we would arrive at work, we would see
9 these unknown soldiers. I had never seen them before.
10 They had the HVO insignia. I even saw the HV insignia,
11 because I had to pass by them at the gate to enter.
12 At Christmas and new year, they also shot at our
13 houses from this Vitezit compound, we call it Princip.
14 They partied there, they behaved as if it was their
15 own. They put up the HVO flags at the gates of this
16 factory, they would often come to Veceriska, these
17 special troops, they used to call them the special
18 troops and this three-barrelled anti-aircraft gun would
19 be paraded around. It was psychological, to intimidate
20 the people, the Muslim population. They would pass by
21 my house as well.
22 Q. Witness R, you said that these soldiers had HV patches
23 as well as HVO patches, is that correct?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Witness R, did these soldiers participate in the attack
1 on the village of Donje Veceriska on the morning of
2 16th April 1993?
3 A. When I was taken prisoner in front of this house, I saw
4 all kinds of insignia. There were a lot of soldiers in
5 black with this letter U painted on and then there was
6 HV and there were all kinds of insignia.
7 Q. Just explain to the judges, what kind of insignias did
8 you see when you were taken prisoner on the morning of
9 the 16th, in addition to the U?
10 A. Except for the U, I saw -- I cannot remember which arm
11 it was on, it was on the camouflage uniforms. There
12 were the HVO patches and they had ribbons around.
13 I think that they were blue, I cannot recall the
14 colour. They had their faces painted too.
15 Q. Prior to the attack as well, Witness R, were there any
16 attempts by the local HVO to disarm the Muslim
18 A. Yes, after the first conflict, I cannot recall
19 because -- I cannot recall precisely when this was, but
20 the same day, they came not only to us but in the whole
21 municipality, asking that everybody surrender their
22 weapons, what everyone had.
23 Q. How many attempts were there for you to surrender those
25 A. I recall that one, there may have been more but I do not
2 Q. Witness R, let me turn your attention to the evening of
3 15th April 1993, and I ask you, were you home watching
5 A. Yes, on 15th April I was at home with my late parents
6 and I was watching TV, and on TV, I do not remember what
7 time, some time late at night, not very very late,
8 I watched a press conference, I do not know, from that
9 area. I do not know the name of that press conference,
10 it was a HVO thing. I saw Kordic, I saw the present
11 gentleman, and Ignjac Kostroman. I heard Kordic say --
12 I was not that interested in what he was saying, but he
13 said, "brother Croats, the moment has come". I guess
14 that was a signal for them for the attack.
15 Q. Witness R, when you say the present gentleman was there
16 as well, who are you talking about?
17 A. General Blaskic.
18 Q. Witness R, was there a TV conference the same day that
19 the Croats from your village vacated Donje Veceriska and
20 went up to Gornji Veceriska?
21 A. Yes, 15th in the evening of the 15th, that is exactly
22 when it was, on the 15th in the evening.
23 Q. If I could turn your attention and just ask you several
24 questions concerning the chart that is right in front of
25 you, Exhibit 161, to your right hand.
1 A. This one?
2 MR. KEHOE: That is it. Just so we can clarify -- counsel,
3 there is an extra copy up here. I think they gave two
4 to the witness.
5 MR. HAYMAN: That explains our confusion.
6 MR. KEHOE: Can we go through these numbers, Witness R, and
7 can you just explain to the judges these particular
8 numbers. Number 1 is your house, is that right?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. That is where your mother and father were murdered --
11 A. Where they were killed, yes.
12 Q. In that house?
13 A. I did not understand the question, I am sorry.
14 Q. It is okay, you answered the question, we can move on.
15 Number 2 is the house that you fled to that morning?
16 A. Yes, and where I was taken prisoner. Number 3 is the
17 house of Milko Franjic, where I saw that soldier and
18 Milko Franjic and they went down to the road. Dzemo
19 Haskic's house is 4, where Dzemo was badly wounded.
20 Number 5 is where the stable of Omer Haskic, and 6 is
21 where I hid behind that concrete wall, where the manure
22 was. Number 7 is the spot where Meho Haskic was killed
23 in front of his house. Number 8, where I found a lot of
24 women and children in the summer kitchen, so it is --
25 Mahmut Haskic's summer kitchen. Number 9 is Cazim
1 Haskic's house where we hid in the basement. Number 10
2 is where Hadzira was wounded and where she was lying
3 wounded. Number 11 is Zoran Franjic's house, from which
4 they fired at Hadzira, and 12 is where the headquarters
5 of the HVO were, that is Drmic's house.
6 Q. You mentioned several individuals who were shot that
7 morning that you observed, Dzemo Haskic, Meho Haskic and
8 Hadzira Bacic.
9 A. Bacic.
10 Q. Bacic. Were those three people all Muslims?
11 A. They were all Muslims.
12 Q. You also mentioned that there were a series of houses
13 burning when you came out of house number 2 and you were
14 taken prisoner.
15 A. Yes, all the houses along the road behind me were on
16 fire, when I came to the road I saw everything burning.
17 Then below at number 6, it was all in flames.
18 Q. Witness R, were these Muslim houses on fire or were they
19 Croat houses on fire?
20 A. Those were Muslim houses, all of them.
21 Q. When this attack was taking place, you told the judges
22 that you saw soldiers in and around Milko Franjic's
23 house, number 3.
24 A. Yes, number 3. There were a lot of them. Below this
25 house where these trees were, you can see it well in the
2 Q. How many soldiers did you see during the course of that
3 day? How many HVO soldiers and HV soldiers did you see?
4 A. Only around the house at Nevzeta Muslimovic's. I think
5 I saw 50 or 60 soldiers, that is my estimate, maybe
6 there were even more.
7 Q. Witness R, how many soldiers did you see over the course
8 of that day going through Donje Veceriska?
9 A. I did not understand the question very well. You
10 mentioned 16th April?
11 Q. No, on the day of the attack, on the whole day.
12 A. Yes, I saw a lot of soldiers, a whole of soldiers, I do
13 not know the exact number, but a lot.
14 Q. Can you give an estimate, 200, 300?
15 A. Maybe, there was a lot of them, just around the house
16 where I was, there were 50 or 60 and maybe even more,
17 and as I was fleeing, they were milling all around these
18 houses, so there were more.
19 Q. Now Witness R, you mentioned soldiers in camouflage
20 uniforms, you mentioned soldiers in black uniforms, you
21 mentioned soldiers with HVO patches, you mentioned
22 soldiers with HV patches, you mentioned soldiers with an
23 U on their side, you mentioned soldiers with helmets
24 with an U. Were all of these soldiers working together?
25 A. Of course they were working together. They were all
2 Q. The last point before we get off this map was house
3 number 12. Whose house is that?
4 A. This is the HVO headquarters in Veceriska, and it was
5 Franjo Drmic's house too.
6 Q. At any time shortly before the attack, did you see any
7 unusual activity around that house?
8 A. Before the attack itself, I could not because my house
9 was far away, so we did not know, we could not see.
10 Q. You told the judges that you fled towards the area of
11 Brdo from the house that is located at point 9, is that
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Let us turn to the next map, which is Brdo, and that is
15 the next map, 162. If I could ask the usher's
16 assistance? It is this map, Mr. Usher (indicates). You
17 said that you fled in the evening of the 16th going into
18 17th April, is that right?
19 A. Yes, we established contact when we moved Hadzira there,
20 on the 17th in the evening.
21 Q. Is the area that you describe as Brdo circled with a
22 number 15 next to it?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. You also mentioned, sir, that later on other Muslims
25 from the area of Besici came to your area in Brdo, is
1 that right?
2 A. Yes, that is marked with 16. That is Besici. They all
3 came there in order to make an agreement and then we all
4 pulled out and we walked in silence. It may have been
5 1,000 people in the column, because there were a lot of
6 refugees, children, women, the elderly, everyone.
7 Q. Now Witness R, just to ask you a couple of questions
8 about the anti-aircraft weapon that you said was
9 shooting at you from the -- you and the other Muslim
10 civilians from the SPS factory. Can I ask you to take a
11 look at the place at the top with a number 17 and
12 towards the left with the number 18?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Do you see those locations?
15 A. Yes, I do see them.
16 Q. Are those the approximate locations where this
17 anti-aircraft weapon shot at you and the other Muslim
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Did you or any of the other civilians have an
21 anti-aircraft weapon to return fire?
22 A. We did not have anything, maybe there was some hunting
23 rifles, because the aggression in Herzegovina was
24 already in progress and there was a front-line at Turbe
25 and Visoko, where we were attacked by the Serbian and
1 Montenegrin aggressors, because we never expected that
2 our neighbours would attack us.
3 Q. Just let me complete this map, there is an area -- was
4 there shelling taking place into your area of the
5 village and then the other parts of the village from a
6 place that you called Hum?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. What number is that marked on the map?
9 A. It is marked with number 13.
10 Q. What type of shells were being fired from the Hum area
11 number 13 into the village?
12 A. Mortar shells, an anti-aircraft gun, the abbreviation is
13 locally PAT, and all kinds of things.
14 Q. So during the course of the 16th, Witness R, there was
15 shelling coming from point 3 as well as from the SPS
16 factory on 17 and 18; points 13, 17 and 18?
17 A. 13, 17 and 18.
18 Q. Before we finish with this, the area that is over on the
19 right-hand side of the map, number 19, what location is
21 A. This is the target area, for target practice area, where
22 the HVO soldiers were getting their training. They were
23 often doing target practice there and exercises.
24 Q. Before we complete this area of questioning and go on to
25 the next map, Witness R, you mentioned that there were
1 HVO soldiers that you personally recognised that
2 participated in the attack against you, those that you
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. You also said that there were soldiers that you did not
6 know, is that not right?
7 A. That is right, there were some who I did not know at
8 all, who were not from the Vitez municipality or from
9 that area at all.
10 Q. So would it be fair to say, Witness R, that HVO, HV
11 soldiers from both in the Vitez area and outside the
12 Vitez area joined together to attack Donje Veceriska on
13 the morning of 16th April 1993?
14 A. They joined together to attack, not only Veceriska but
15 the entire municipality of Vitez, with the exception of
16 maybe ...
17 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President, I have a few other items to go,
18 I think this is probably an appropriate place to break,
19 if your Honour sees fit. We do have quite a bit more to
20 go through, because this is our only witness on this
22 JUDGE JORDA: We shall stop at 5.45 since we began at 2.45,
23 so we still have about 15 minutes left. We could
24 continue until 5.45.
25 MR. KEHOE: Certainly, Mr. President.
1 Would it have been approximately 3.00 or 4.00 on
2 the morning of the 18th that you went and moved towards
3 UNPROFOR, is that right?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. On the map before you, Exhibit 162, there is a road
6 marked in green with a number 20 next to it. Is that
7 the road that you took?
8 A. Yes, we took that road, all of us.
9 Q. Witness R, let me turn your attention to the last map,
10 which is Exhibit 163.
11 A. I have found it.
12 Q. Is that road again, and this is a portion of Exhibit 56,
13 is that road again marked in green and marked with the
14 number 20, going down to the UNPROFOR base?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. You mentioned as well, Witness R, that as you were
17 heading down that road -- and it was dark out, was it
18 not, at 3.00 in the morning?
19 A. Yes, it was dark, yes.
20 Q. You mentioned that you were being shot at from two
21 locations, one being a location in the SPS factory and
22 the other on the other side of the road, but those have
23 been marked as approximately numbers 21 and 22.
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. The village that the UNPROFOR base is located in, what
1 is the name of that little hamlet?
2 A. It was called Divjak.
3 Q. Likewise, have we segregated that area aside with the
4 number 23 that includes a portion of the village of
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Was Divjak also attacked by the HVO?
8 A. When we got to the UNPROFOR base, they immediately left,
9 everyone ran away towards the UNPROFOR base, so that
10 Divjak was taken immediately.
11 Q. Who ran away towards the UNPROFOR base?
12 A. The civilian population of Divjak, because the fire was
13 moving in their direction, so they fled, they had
14 nowhere to go, because they all thought that they could
15 save their lives if they reached the base.
16 Q. Are these Muslim civilians or Croat civilians?
17 A. Only Muslims, only Muslim population.
18 Q. You said you went and moved towards the UNPROFOR base;
19 that is circled with number 24, is that right?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Did you likewise receive some incoming sniper fire from
22 houses close by?
23 A. Yes, we were being sniped at from nearby houses, because
24 there was a mixture of Muslim and Croat houses there,
25 and they were also firing over the improvised camp so as
1 to frighten the civilians or for some other reason, I do
2 not know. But the UNPROFOR members managed to catch two
3 of them and bring them to the base. What they did to
4 them I do not know, whether they had any discussions
5 with them, but I know that later on they were not there.
6 Q. The places that you were being sniped at from, would
7 that have been -- was that circled with the area of
8 number 25?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Witness R, as you were located in the area on the
11 UNPROFOR base and 25, did you continue -- could you see
12 the village of Donje Veceriska from where you were?
13 A. Yes, because it is relatively close, maybe two
14 kilometres, or less, as the crow flies.
15 Q. As you looked up there, what did you see?
16 A. We could even see soldiers. The village was burning,
17 everything was in flames, but mostly the Muslim houses.
18 Everything was on fire. We could see that the conflicts
19 were of very extreme intensity.
20 Q. At this point, when the fires were taking place in these
21 houses, were all the Muslims out of village?
22 A. Yes, they were all outside the village, because we were
23 all by then in front of the UNPROFOR base at Divjak.
24 Q. So would it be fair to say, Witness R, that two days
25 after the attack, 18th April, soldiers, HVO soldiers are
1 still burning Muslim houses in Donje Veceriska?
2 A. Yes, there are even photographs of this, showing the
3 houses burning. People were crying as they watched
4 their houses burning on the 18th, the afternoon of the
5 18th. That was exactly the day when that explosion
7 Q. Witness R, let us turn to those photographs. With the
8 assistance of the Registrar, if we could turn to a
9 series of photographs, I think it is Exhibit 166.
10 Mr. Dubuisson, it is this one first, okay? We could use
11 this on the ELMO. If we could turn to that top
12 photograph right there, that is the first one which is
14 A. Yes.
15 MR. KEHOE: For the record, the source of this photograph,
16 Mr. President and your Honours, is the Cheshire Battalion
17 and it is a photograph that was taken shortly before the
19 Witness R, you mentioned that an anti-aircraft
20 weapon had been used in the SPS factory during
21 16th April 1993. I ask you, looking at this photograph,
22 do you recognise this particular vehicle with this
23 anti-aircraft weapon on it?
24 A. Yes, of course. This is it.
25 Q. How do you know that is it?
1 A. Because prior to the conflict, I saw this vehicle. They
2 drove it around to intimidate the people. These unknown
3 people who had HV and HVO insignia. They wanted us to
4 see that they had such weapons. Many of us had never
5 even seen any such thing before.
6 Q. Do you know where this photograph is taken, sir?
7 A. Yes, the photograph was taken in front of the former
8 building of the SUP, the Federal Ministry of the
9 Interior in Vitez.
10 Q. Witness R, where is that in relation to the Hotel Vitez?
11 A. It is across the street, across the street from the
12 Vitez hotel.
13 Q. Let us turn to the next photograph --
14 JUDGE JORDA: Since there are many photos and the
15 interpreters are tired, as is the witness, it is now
16 5.45, and we will begin tomorrow morning at 10.00. The
17 court stands adjourned, we will start again tomorrow at
19 (5.45 pm)
20 (Hearing adjourned until 10.00 am the following day)