1 Monday, 7th September 1998
2 (Open session)
3 --- Upon commencing at 2.23 p.m.
4 JUDGE JORDA: We will now resume the
5 hearing. Registrar, would you please have the accused
6 brought in.
7 (The accused entered court)
8 JUDGE JORDA: I would like to say good
9 afternoon to the Office of the Prosecutor. I hope that
10 the interpreters are here. Can everybody hear me now?
11 We can resume at the point where we stopped two weeks
12 ago. The Trial Chamber has rendered two decisions
13 about which we don't have to speak any longer.
14 Having said that, unless there are any
15 preliminary motions, let me turn to Mr. Hayman or to
16 Mr. Nobilo or to Mr. Paley, is it? Paley, yes, that's
17 correct. Excuse me for mispronouncing your name. I'll
18 get used to your name.
19 MR. HAYMAN: We are prepared to proceed with
20 the Defence case, Mr. President, with your leave.
21 JUDGE JORDA: I can see that you have,
22 indeed, prepared in a significant manner for our
23 discussions this afternoon. I can see that this must
24 have taken a lot of effort and it means you've done a
25 lot of work. I hope it's going to facilitate our
2 The floor is yours, Mr. Hayman.
3 MR. HAYMAN: Thank you, Mr. President. Good
4 afternoon, Your Honours, learned counsel of the
6 In the summer of 1992, when the
7 disintegration of Yugoslavia was underway, Tihomir
8 Blaskic was a captain in the JNA posted to Slovenia.
9 He was the deputy commander of a battalion principally
10 occupied with training and instructing the soldiers in
11 the unit.
12 He had been raised as a small boy in
13 Brestovsko, a village in the Kiseljak municipality. In
14 1991 and 1992, his parents still resided in the family
15 home in the Kiseljak municipality, but Tihomir Blaskic
16 had left Bosnia at the age of 14 in 1975 to attend
17 higher school and military academy in Zagreb and
19 He spent his formative years, not in rural
20 Bosnia, but in urban, multi-ethnic societies as part of
21 his schooling. At military academy, he shared a room
22 with five other cadets. The six nationalities of the
23 former Yugoslavia were represented in that dormitory
24 room by design. The cadets lived and learned and
25 laughed together. Tihomir Blaskic left the academy
1 with more than a strong appreciation for cultural
2 diversity and the benefits we all obtain from it.
3 As the JNA changed in the 1980s after Tito's
4 death, Tihomir Blaskic's positive views towards
5 multi-ethnicism got him into trouble. In 1985, he was
6 offered a command position in a unit which he believed
7 would be sent to Kosovo. He did not want to go to
8 Kosovo, where the JNA at the time was principally
9 engaged in demonstrations of force against Albanians
10 there, ethnic Albanians. Why, he thought, should a
11 people's army be engaged in shows of force against the
12 people they were sworn to protect? He refused the
13 position he was offered. That refusal resulted in
14 threats by Serb authorities within the JNA of a term in
15 military prison.
16 In August of 1991, a second and more serious
17 crisis ended the JNA career of Captain Blaskic. He saw
18 that the JNA in Slovenia was turning against the
19 Slovene people and he wanted no part of it. He would
20 not participate in a war against the Slovenes and,
21 instead, applied for permission to leave the JNA. The
22 JNA never released him, but he still did not give up
23 his views. He left the JNA in the middle of the night
24 on the 12th of August, 1991 and left the former
25 Yugoslavia entirely. He fled with his wife, Ratka, to
1 Vienna where they lived for the remainder of 1991 and
2 well into 1992.
3 In early 1992, the Croats and Muslims in
4 central Bosnia worked together as allies in preparation
5 for the expected JNA attack. In February of that year,
6 Tihomir Blaskic was contacted by members of the
7 Kiseljak Municipal Council who asked him to return to
8 the area to assist in organising the Defence of
9 Kiseljak. The group that asked him to return was
10 comprised of both Croat and Muslim members.
11 After 17 years away from Bosnia, he was an
12 outsider to that country. His wife, Ratka, had been
13 raised in Austria and her parents lived there. The
14 Blaskics' could easily have remained in Austria with
15 their young son Ivo. In fact, Ratka was opposed to
16 returning to Bosnia. But Tihomir Blaskic decided he
17 could not turn his back on those who needed his help so
18 much, and he agreed to return to Bosnia-Herzegovina for
19 two months only to assist in the preparation of a plan
20 of defence for the Kiseljak municipality.
21 His return to Bosnia-Herzegovina was not an
22 easy journey. While en route to Kiseljak, he was
23 arrested by the JNA and imprisoned. During his
24 imprisonment, he was physically abused by his JNA
1 In mid April, he was released from the Tuzla
2 garrison, the JNA garrison, and he made his way,
3 finally, to his parents home in the Kiseljak
4 municipality. There, he went to see the crisis
5 committee, a mixed ethnic group who asked him to work
6 on a defence plan for the municipality.
7 In the following weeks, he was made the
8 deputy municipal commander of the combined defending
9 forces in Kiseljak, although, in fact, there was no
10 umbrella organisation at the time. There were simply
11 different types of military organisations, such as the
12 Territorial Defence, the Patriotic League, the
13 Municipal Staff and so forth.
14 He shared command of this umbrella
15 organisation, if you will, with another commander, a
16 Muslim named Bakir Alispahic. Although Tihomir Blaskic
17 is charged in the indictment in this case with
18 unspecified war crimes in May and April of 1992, during
19 that time, he shared a joint command with Mr. Alispahic
20 in Kiseljak.
21 Tihomir Blaskic worked for two months
22 preparing defensive plans for Kiseljak. He did not
23 seek out a higher position. Rather, he was recommended
24 by others for the position of the commander of the
25 Central Bosnia operative zone of the HVO, and on the
1 27th of June, 1992, he was appointed to that position.
2 He was given no rank in the HVO, and although the
3 operative zone had existed for only a short period of
4 time, he was the fifth commander to be given that
6 Along with the position, he inherited several
7 urgent tasks. His first and foremost responsibility
8 was to defend the operative zone against aggression by
9 the JNA and the Bosnian Serb militia, which had already
10 overrun two-thirds of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
11 His second task was to organise the Bosnian
12 Croat militia or HVO. Although it had been proclaimed
13 on paper, in reality, it did not yet exist.
14 He also had to deal with the existing
15 self-organised and self-armed Croat units and gangs
16 that existed in the territory. All this he had to do
17 with little help from anyone. The national government
18 in Bosnia-Herzegovina was dysfunctional, and at the
19 municipal level, government entities were confused and
21 Tihomir Blaskic was a professional soldier
22 told to command a peasant militia. What he found was
23 that there were no trained units in the HVO. The HVO
24 militiamen were loyal to local politicians and were
25 preoccupied with the defence of their own village or
1 even their own homes. There were a few more capable
2 Croat units on the territory. They posed a different
3 problem. They were better equipped and trained than
4 the village militias, because they had been privately
5 organised by influential or wealthy individuals or by
6 organisations such as HOS, the militia of the Croatian
7 Party of Rights.
8 When Tihomir Blaskic came to the territory,
9 these independent units were not about to give up their
10 independence. Their commanders were strong-willed
11 individuals, like Zuti and Darko Kraljevic. Their men
12 were well-armed, young, fit, and aggressive. They were
13 feared and revered by the local population, including
14 by the village militia units.
15 These pre-existing independent units had their
16 own headquarters. They frequently acted on their own
17 initiative and sometimes helped themselves to the
18 property of others and engaged in other criminal acts.
19 For example, if one of their members was caught
20 committing crimes and was imprisoned, they would go to
21 the Kaonik prison and break out their comrade by force
22 of violence. On other occasions, they attacked other
23 HVO units with which they were displeased.
24 At its peak, the Vitezovi unit had as many as
25 180 well-armed men. They had been formed after the
1 dissolution of HOS as a special unit responsible
2 directly to the Herceg-Bosna Department of Defence in
3 Mostar. Their salaries came from Mostar and they
4 submitted reports to Mostar.
5 Tihomir Blaskic tried to create a rational,
6 vertical command structure in the operative zone. He
7 gave orders frequently to independent units, such as
8 the Vitezovi, both with respect to operational
9 activities and regarding proper conduct and
10 discipline. We will demonstrate in the Defence case,
11 however, that the Vitezovi did as they pleased. They
12 followed orders from the operative zone when it suited
13 them and did not when they preferred otherwise. These
14 units repeatedly acted on self-initiative, even when
15 contrary to orders from the operative zone.
16 The relationship between the operative zone
17 and these independent units did change over time. By
18 late 1993, when the Vitez-Busovaca enclave was near
19 collapse, all units, militia and independent units,
20 Croat units, that is, paid more attention to the
21 operative zone command, because the lives of everyone
22 in the enclave depended on its success.
23 The evidence will show, however, that that
24 was not the case in the spring of 1993. At that time,
25 discipline within the HVO and independent units was at
1 a very low level, and the ability of the operative zone
2 to control those forces was poor. It is no coincidence
3 that the bulk of the charges in the indictment emanate
4 from events that occurred over three or four days in
5 the middle of April 1993. Those days were a period of
6 intense, chaotic fighting across the Lasva, Kiseljak,
7 and Zenica municipalities.
8 The operative zone headquarters was itself,
9 at times, under direct attack. Information received at
10 the headquarters was incomplete and of poor quality.
11 Command and control over these units was poor at the
12 time of that fighting, just as it was poor when
13 cease-fire agreements were reached and attempts at a
14 high level were made to stop the fighting. Indeed, the
15 evidence will show that time and time again, the top
16 commanders on both sides of the Muslim-Croat war toured
17 the frontlines literally begging local commanders to
18 obey cease-fire orders.
19 The Croats in Central Bosnia did not fare
20 well in the Muslim-Croat war. Vastly outnumbered, they
21 lost extensive territory to the BiH army, including
22 Kakanj, Vares, Fojnica, Travnik, Bugojno, half of Novi
23 Travnik, most of the Busovaca municipality, and much of
24 the Vitez municipality.
25 In January 1993, the BiH army cut the
1 Vitez-Busovaca enclave from the Kiseljak enclave. From
2 the 16th of April forward, the Vitez-Busovaca pocket
3 was physically cut off from the rest of the operative
4 zone, indeed, from the rest of the world and was under
6 The evidence will show that throughout this
7 long siege of the Vitez-Busovaca enclave, Tihomir
8 Blaskic made diligent, and often remarkable, efforts to
9 improve discipline in all HVO units. He ordered
10 soldiers to protect civilians, civilian property, and
11 sacral objects. He ordered criminal elements to be
12 removed from HVO ranks. He ordered that the system of
13 military discipline be used. He even intervened in
14 some individual incidents himself, despite his status
15 as the commander of an operative zone equivalent to a
16 division, to direct more thorough investigation of
17 misconduct and adherence to military discipline. He
18 made these efforts, despite the fact that there was a
19 war raging outside his door with soldiers for whom he
20 was responsible dying every day.
21 Despite his efforts, crimes did occur.
22 Civilians were targeted and killed, particularly in
23 Ahmici on the early morning of the 16th of April,
24 1993. When the massacre at Ahmici became known, some
25 five or six days later, Blaskic condemned it. He
1 called for an investigation and punishment of those
2 responsible, and he did so publicly. He also ordered
3 an investigation into the massacre, not once, but
4 twice, and also referred it to the HVO main command for
5 further action.
6 After the intense fighting in mid April and
7 that period, the indictment contains very few specific
8 charges in the Lasva Valley over the entire remainder
9 of the war. That is true, despite the fact that the
10 strategic position of the HVO became increasingly
11 desperate as 1993 wore on. Through his continuing
12 efforts to create a more disciplined, responsive, and
13 responsible army, Tihomir Blaskic improved command and
14 control in the HVO which led to fewer and fewer
15 incidents of misconduct.
16 Having voluntarily appeared before this
17 Tribunal in April of 1996, Tihomir Blaskic is pleased
18 to commence here today his defence to the charges
19 against him.
20 In this opening statement, I will outline the
21 evidence that Mr. Nobilo and I will present in our case
22 to Your Honours. I will address the disintegration of
23 Yugoslavia briefly, the formation of the HVO, the
24 deployment of forces in Central Bosnia, conflicts
25 between the HVO and Territorial Defence in 1992,
1 attempts to cut the Kiseljak enclave in both 1992 and
2 1993. I will discuss command and control specifically
3 within the HVO; the April 1993 conflict, Tihomir
4 Blaskic's response to that conflict, including the
5 Ahmici massacre; and the remainder of the war in the
6 Kiseljak and Lasva Valleys. Finally, I will address
7 the subjects of population movements during the war as
8 well as the evidence on the subject of whether there
9 existed an international armed conflict in the theatre.
10 With your leave, I expect to take the balance
11 of the afternoon in describing our case to you. We
12 intend to present our first witness to you tomorrow
14 Many events of significance --
15 JUDGE JORDA: Before you continue, do you
16 have a list of the witnesses that you are intending to
17 submit to the Judges, the list of the witnesses? I was
18 talking about submitting it to the Judges.
19 MR. HAYMAN: We can submit whatever the Court
20 desires. We provided a list with our first two
21 witnesses on Friday. Is the Court referring to a
22 different list?
23 JUDGE JORDA: The Prosecution had given the
24 Judges the list of the witnesses that it was going to
25 call, the entire list. I believe that's what it was,
1 Judge Riad, was it not?
2 Do you intend to let us know about how many
3 witnesses you are going to call?
4 MR. HAYMAN: Yes, we will.
5 JUDGE JORDA: You'll be able to do that.
6 Very well.
7 I would like to ask you a second question as
8 well: Do you intend to call the accused to testify?
9 MR. HAYMAN: We do.
10 JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me for having
11 interrupted you. Please continue.
12 MR. HAYMAN: Not at all, Mr. President.
13 Thank you.
14 Many events of significance to Central Bosnia
15 were imposed upon it by external forces. Tihomir
16 Blaskic had to react to and cope with these events.
17 The catalyst for many of these crises was the
18 disintegration of the former Yugoslavia.
19 Our first witness tomorrow will address this
20 complex subject.
21 Yugoslavia never existed as a stable
22 democratic state. Efforts to create a unified
23 Yugoslavia repeatedly resulted in violent civil wars.
24 Indeed, Yugoslavia has had the greatest number of
25 conflicts in the 20th century of any European nation.
1 The primary reason for these conflicts has been its
3 In Yugoslavia, the Second World War did not
4 end with the defeat of one side or another. Rather, it
5 ceased because of the defeat of the occupying forces.
6 The German collapse was the end of all of the
7 anti-partisan armed forces. But for millions,
8 nationalist consciousness continued to live. The
9 rifles of the Second World War were not discarded but
10 were saved for another day.
11 After World War II, the only forces for the
12 renewal of Yugoslavia were the outside mega-powers and
13 the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. For the next 40
14 years, the Communists maintained the unity of
15 Yugoslavia through totalitarian rule. It was not the
16 first time Yugoslavia had been held together by
17 external totalitarian force. Following Tito's death,
18 Yugoslavia began the process of disintegration.
19 The disintegration of Yugoslavia also began
20 to pull apart the social fabric of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
21 Muslims, Croats, and Serbs had led relatively
22 segregated lives in Bosnia-Herzegovina, particularly in
23 the rural areas involved in this case. The prospect of
24 an independent Bosnia-Herzegovina raised anxieties
25 among all the minorities of Bosnia-Herzegovina
1 concerning their status in the new independent state of
3 In the 1991 elections, the first free
4 elections in over 50 years, voters were polarised along
5 ethnic lines. The same had been true in prior free
6 elections many decades before.
7 The outbreak of war in Slovenia and Croatia
8 in 1991 accelerated the separation of the Muslim and
9 Croat communities in Bosnia-Herzegovina. These
10 conflicts were the result of policies formulated by
11 Slobodan Milosevic and implemented by the JNA, the
12 Yugoslav National Army.
13 Their effect was to galvanise Bosnian Croats
14 who saw Croatia under attack and in danger of
15 collapse. Many of them went to Croatia and volunteered
16 in the HV, or army of the Republic of Croatia. After
17 the war, they returned to Bosnia-Herzegovina, many of
18 them with their HV uniforms.
19 Many Muslim citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina
20 reacted to the war in Croatia very differently.
21 Frequently their reaction was, "This is not our war."
22 This is referring to the war in Croatia. They did not
23 perceive that Bosnia-Herzegovina would be the next
24 target of the JNA and the Serb militias. This caused
25 suspicion and distrust between the Muslim and Croat
1 communities, and indeed led to the formation of
2 separate Muslim and Croat military organisations in
3 Bosnia-Herzegovina, albeit for the common purpose of
4 defending Bosnia-Herzegovina against Serb aggression.
5 In 1992, the two communities were still firm allies
6 against the Serbs.
7 These early events are relevant to this case,
8 Your Honours, because they occurred before Tihomir
9 Blaskic arrived in Bosnia-Herzegovina, indeed before he
10 returned to the former Yugoslavia from Vienna at all.
11 In July 1992 - and now I would like to turn
12 to the formation of the HVO - when Tihomir Blaskic was
13 appointed commander of the operative zone Central
14 Bosnia, the HVO did not exist as an army, as that term
15 is commonly used.
16 The process of creating a competent military
17 organisation without adequate resources and personnel
18 was long and difficult. Indeed, it is a process that
19 continues to this day with respect to Croat (as well
20 former BiH army formations) in today's federal army of
21 Bosnia-Herzegovina. Throughout 1992 and into 1993,
22 Tihomir Blaskic was forced to spend a large proportion
23 of his time and energy trying to build a military
24 organisation that would respond to a vertical command
25 structure. This effort was difficult, it was slow, and
1 it met with mixed success. The level of command and
2 control within the HVO evolved over time into a dynamic
4 What was the military organisation of which
5 Tihomir Blaskic inherited command in July of 1992?
6 The Territorial Defence, or TO, was a reserve
7 system in the former Yugoslavia which had been designed
8 to resist aggression from either the Soviet Union or
9 NATO forces, principally through arming local
10 populations. The TO and JNA were two components of the
11 armed forces of the former Yugoslavia. Into the spring
12 and summer of 1992, TO officials in some locales were
13 still holdovers from the JNA. For this reason, many
14 citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina, who wished to prepare
15 to defend Bosnia-Herzegovina against the JNA and Bosnia
16 Serb militia, were not willing to join the TO. Simply
17 put, they did not trust those who had held their same
18 positions of authority in the JNA and TO structures.
19 There were both Muslims and Croats who chose not to
20 join the TO; instead, they joined the Patriotic League
21 or the Municipal Staff.
22 Ultimately, the structure of the TO and its
23 lists of eligible conscripts were inherited by the BiH
24 army. By 1992, the TO were subordinated to the BiH army
25 chain of command, and at all relevant times in this
1 case, that was the case in the Lasva and Kiseljak
2 Valleys. TO units in villages were under effective BiH
3 army command.
4 While the BiH army inherited the TO structure,
5 by contrast, the HVO was formed from scratch. When it
6 was proclaimed to exist on the 8th of April, 1992, it
7 existed largely on paper.
8 There were many impediments to the formation
9 of a Bosnian Croat militia. Among the Bosnian Croats
10 in Central Bosnia, there were few officers with
11 military education who could contribute to this task,
12 and the effort was impaired by a lack of all kinds of
13 resources, such as weapons, uniforms, communications
14 equipment, barracks, or training facilities.
15 Bosnian Croats had started to organise
16 themselves prior to April 1992 when the HVO was
17 proclaimed. The JNA attack on the Republic of Croatia
18 in 1991 had caused a mania among Bosnian Croats who
19 sought to obtain weapons privately by any means
20 possible. When the JNA and Bosnian Serb militias
21 staged attacks on Croatia from BH soil, President
22 Izetbegovic had proclaimed that this was not our war.
23 His pacifist views further agitated Bosnian Croats who
24 did not believe that a pacifist approach would win over
25 the JNA or Bosnian Serb militia. They were proven
1 right; horribly right.
2 In late 1991, Bosnian Croats and Muslims
3 formed Crisis Staffs on the local level. What did
4 Crisis Staffs do? They made lists of volunteers who
5 were willing to fight, to defend Bosnia-Herzegovina,
6 and lists of who had weapons. Units were organised on
7 the territorial principle of one village, one unit.
8 Each village elected its own commander. These were
9 typically local politicians. The units were loyal to
10 these local politicians who also provided them with
11 whatever resources were available. These units were
12 focused almost exclusively on local interests and the
13 defence of their local village. This dominance of
14 local interests impeded the creation of a unified
15 militia with a vertical command structure.
16 In April 1992, the inadequacies of the Crisis
17 Staff system led to their replacement with the HVO
18 municipal headquarters and the formation of regional
19 headquarters above the municipal headquarters level.
20 Although the titles had changed, little else had
21 changed in these units.
22 The first action by the HVO militia in
23 Central Bosnia took place on the 6th of May, 1992.
24 They attacked the JNA barracks at Slejmena near Travnik
25 and around 1.500 or so weapons were captured. Two
1 Bosnian Croats were killed. The TO did not participate
2 in that attack, but after it was over, they came to the
3 scene and asked for half of the guns. They took them
4 and then civilians came and took away a large number of
5 damaged weapons. This incident is relevant insofar as
6 it furthered suspicions and mistrust between the two
7 military organisations and communities.
8 Tihomir Blaskic was nominated for the job of
9 commander of the operative zone Central Bosnia because
10 it was thought that the fact that he had left the JNA
11 early in 1991 might engender more trust in him by the
12 people of Central Bosnia than they had in those JNA
13 officers who had extended their stay in the JNA. What
14 did he do when he got the job?
15 When he first came to the Lasva Valley, there
16 were many kilometres of frontlines against the Serbs in
17 the Central Bosnia region. He was responsible for
18 front-line positions against the Serbs in such far-flung
19 places as Jajce, Maglaj, Sarajevo, Kresevo, Bugojno,
20 Zepce, Usora, Travnik, and Novi Travnik. For some
21 time, he would spend 80 per cent of his time organising
22 the defence of these lines and finding soldiers willing
23 to perform a shift at the front-line.
24 Jajce at the time was virtually encircled by
25 the Serbs and was in a precarious position. He visited
1 that town frequently in 1992 and devoted much time to
2 its defence.
3 He also worked hard to try and establish an
4 effective system of command within the HVO militia. He
5 had been trained at military academy and indeed, as a
6 captain in the JNA, had to write proper military
7 orders, and he wrote a lot of them. He wrote good
8 orders. He ordered the municipal headquarters to
9 better organise themselves. In July 1992, he ordered
10 the formation of operative groups within the operative
11 zone which included a large and far-flung geographic
12 area, as I discussed.
13 Tihomir Blaskic saw that the operative zone
14 was hopelessly large and unwieldy, given the
15 transportation and communications difficulties in the
16 theatre. Central Bosnia consists of difficult
17 mountainous terrain.
18 May I approach the relief model,
19 Mr. President? Thank you.
20 These relief models depict the Lasva and
21 Kiseljak Valleys. To my left is the Lasva Valley and
22 to my right is the Kiseljak Valley.
23 The Lasva Valley stretches from my left in
24 Travnik, to Vitez in the centre of this model, and then
25 down the valley to Busovaca. As the Court can see from
1 this model, the Lasva Valley, like all valleys, is a
2 valley surrounded by mountains. This relief map is
3 two-scale, but the height has been magnified by three
4 times to improve readability of topographical
5 variations. During winter, access to this valley is
6 extremely difficult and frequently impossible due to
7 snow and ice and impassable roads. Within the valley
8 is a single spinal road that traverses the valley floor
9 the length of the valley.
10 The Kiseljak Valley is similarly situated.
11 The same spinal road or main supply route, in military
12 terms, continues to run from Busovaca to Kiseljak and
13 on down to this intersection, which is Han Ploca. For
14 orientation purposes, to the east or north-east of
15 Kiseljak is the city of Visoko, and to the
16 west, north-west, is the town of Fojnica. These two
17 models connect at the rough break point around Kacuni,
18 between the Lasva Valley and the Kiseljak Valley.
19 From time to time in our case, Mr. President,
20 we will use these relief models, place markings, flags
21 and the like upon them, and ask that photographs or
22 video stills be made for the record.
23 To try and improve control over militia
24 units, in light of his far-flung responsibilities, in
25 October of 1992, Tihomir Blaskic established four, and
1 later three, operative groups. These operative groups
2 established a level of command between the operative
3 zone command and the municipal headquarters level, what
4 would later become the brigades. We will review that
5 graphically later on in my remarks.
6 At this point, in 1992, there were no HVO
7 brigades. They had not yet been formed.
8 In November of 1992, Tihomir Blaskic took
9 another step to try and organise the HVO militia by
10 forming an operative zone command or zone headquarters
11 and a headquarters staff. He created a well-designed
12 and thought-out plan for the operative zone
13 headquarters, and we will offer it in evidence.
14 The principal problem with this plan was that
15 there were only personnel available to fill one-third
16 of the needed positions, and less than one-half of
17 those personnel who were available had any
18 qualifications for those positions. Their level of
19 education was generally low.
20 Tihomir Blaskic put the operative zone
21 headquarters in Kruscica, a predominantly Muslim area
22 to the immediate north of Vitez. Later, it would have
23 to be moved for reasons that I will discuss.
24 Again in late November 1992, Tihomir Blaskic
25 took further steps to try and form a properly organised
1 and responsive militia. He replaced the system of
2 municipal and regional headquarters with the brigade
3 system. This was the first attempt in the HVO to form
4 brigades. The principal difficulty faced, or one of
5 the difficulties faced in this task, was that formation
6 of brigades challenged the authority and control of
7 local political leaders over the municipal staffs.
8 They would be replaced by brigade commanders.
9 In Vitez, for example, the process of forming
10 a brigade was not completed prior to the April 1993
12 The formation of brigades did not alter the
13 relatively low levels of training and discipline among
14 the soldiers themselves. Although most men in the
15 former Yugoslavia had served for one year as JNA
16 conscripts, these conscripts were taught how to shoot a
17 gun and dig a trench, not how to work in an organised
18 military unit, how to organise such units, or how to
19 command such units.
20 The result of the lack of any capable army,
21 either Croat or Muslim, to resist the JNA and Bosnian
22 Serb militia during 1992, was dramatic. By the spring,
23 the JNA and Bosnian Serb militia had overrun two-thirds
24 of the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
25 If I could have the first slide, please?
1 These slides, Mr. President, will appear on
2 the computer monitor channel.
3 On this map, marked as "A," the pink areas
4 are those that were controlled by the JNA and Bosnian
5 Serb militia in approximately the spring of 1992. As
6 you can see, roughly two-thirds of Bosnia-Herzegovina
7 is in pink or purple, which was the situation when
8 Tihomir Blaskic came to the Lasva Valley in July of
10 One can also see from this map that the only
11 resupply routes into Central Bosnia are from the lower
12 left-hand corner of the map through the light blue
13 finger, which is Dalmatia in Croatia, and then through
14 the dark blue mass which constitutes territory the HVO
15 did control in Herzegovina. That was the sole route
16 into Central Bosnia.
17 On this map, the Lasva and Kiseljak Valleys
18 are shown as enclaves not connected which was not yet
19 the case in 1992.
20 If I could have the next slide, please?
21 THE REGISTRAR: This map, this exhibit, is
22 numbered D58.
23 MR. HAYMAN: This map, marked as "E," depicts
24 the areas occupied by a majority of a particular ethnic
25 group in the Central Bosnia area prior to the fall of
1 Jajce in October of 1992. These groupings generally
2 correspond to control by the army or militia units of
3 one party or another. Areas under control of the JNA
4 or Bosnian Serb militia are depicted in brownish red
5 with a red border; areas under Territorial Defence or
6 BiH army control are in green; and Bosnian Croat militia
7 control, blue.
8 You can see from Map E the precarious
9 position of Jajce at this time prior to the 24th of
10 October, 1992. Jajce is virtually encircled and access
11 was limited to the narrow finger which is depicted on
12 the map. This narrow corridor was exposed to Serb fire
13 and could only be used at night.
14 The effort required in the fall of 1992 to
15 sustain the defence of Jajce, which was a joint defence
16 mounted by Muslim and Croat militia forces, exposed the
17 building tensions between the Croat and Muslim militias
18 in Central Bosnia.
19 By October 1992, the Bosnian Croats and
20 Muslims had created two poorly organised military
21 organisations which, as the slide on the video that is
22 Map E depicts, existed on the same territory in Central
23 Bosnia; that is depicted on this map by the fact that
24 blue areas and green areas are completely interspersed
25 and mixed.
1 These two militias, imposed over the same
2 territory, competed for authority and resources.
3 Predictable friction arose and incidents between the
4 soldiers of these two militias proliferated into the
5 fall of 1992. No civil structures existed to
6 adequately address these conflicts. On the contrary,
7 the existence of parallel and duplicative civil
8 structures aggravated the growing tension between the
9 Muslim and Croat communities.
10 In parts of the territory of Central Bosnia,
11 officials of the Croatian community of Herceg-Bosna
12 established civilian government institutions while in
13 municipalities where it lost the 1991 election, SDA and
14 Muslim authorities established war presidencies with
15 similar and again overlapping responsibilities. Where
16 two government structures and militias exist on the
17 same territory and compete for authority and resources,
18 the evidence will show that conflict between them was
19 virtually inevitable, and conflict there was.
20 In October 1992, open conflict did break out
21 in Novi Travnik between BiH army and HVO soldiers. This
22 conflict arose as a result of a local dispute over the
23 control of a gas station and a hotel. This type of
24 dispute was typical, because of the scarcity of
25 resources and the competing needs of these two militias
1 for petrol, barracks, and the like.
2 When this conflict broke out, Tihomir Blaskic
3 was in Mostar, seeking resupply for the joint
4 Croat-Muslim forces then defending Jajce. The BiH army
5 that was commanded by the 3rd Corps in Zenica, however,
6 was paying closer attention to the local conflict in
7 Novi Travnik than was Tihomir Blaskic.
8 The 3rd Corps ordered that a blockade be
9 established to prevent any HVO troops from the
10 directions of Busovaca or Kiseljak from reaching Novi
11 Travnik. The 3rd Corps ordered that the barricade be
12 established and manned by Territorial Defence soldiers
13 at the point at which the Territorial Defence was
14 strongest along the critical main supply route or
15 spinal road running through the Lasva Valley.
16 Where was that point? If I could have the
17 next slide, please. This map marked as "B" depicts the
18 ethnic composition of the area of Ahmici and
19 surrounding villages, according to the 1991 census.
20 Areas circled in blue depict a Croat majority, while
21 green areas depict a Muslim majority. The black line
22 or brown line, as it may be, running from Dubravica on
23 the left and down to the lower right-hand corner of the
24 map is the main supply route, the Vitez-Busovaca main
25 road. Vitez is to the immediate left of this map, and
1 Busovaca is some distance to the right.
2 Like the HVO militia, units of the
3 Territorial Defence were also territorially based. TO
4 soldiers lived in their village, had their weapons at
5 home, and thus where there was a concentration of
6 Muslim inhabitants in the Lasva or Kiseljak Valleys,
7 there were typically TO or even BiH army units.
8 Such was the case in Ahmici in October of
9 1992. On the 19th of October, the 3rd Corps command
10 ordered the commander in Ahmici to erect a barricade on
11 the main supply route. They did as they were told. A
12 barricade was erected and was manned by, approximately,
13 30 soldiers. The barricade was effective, and on the
14 19th of October, the TO unit in Ahmici captured and
15 disarmed four HVO military policemen who came upon the
16 barricade. Attempts to diffuse the situation were made
17 through local negotiations in Vitez but the barricade
19 By the morning of the 20th of October, the TO
20 soldiers manning the barricade had dug in with
21 fortified positions. Soldiers from the military
22 police, the HVO military police, returned to the
23 barricade on the morning of the 20th of October and
24 attacked the barricade. After several hours, the
25 battle was over and the TO withdrew. Each side
1 sustained one dead in this conflict. But the conflict
2 had spread, further eroding trust and fanning distrust
3 between the Croat and Muslim militias.
4 In Vitez, at this same time, the HVO unit
5 attacked the Territorial Defence headquarters. In
6 Kruscica, the BiH army laid siege to the HVO operative
7 zone headquarters, which you will recall Tihomir
8 Blaskic had placed in a Muslim portion of that town,
9 and demanded that the headquarters staff surrender. By
10 the 22nd of October, 1992, a cease-fire was reached by
11 the local Vitez authorities.
12 What had Tihomir Blaskic been trying to do
13 during this conflict? As I said, he had been trying to
14 organise a convoy of military aid for Jajce and, in
15 fact, was blocked by this very barricade on the main
16 road and prevented from returning to Vitez until after
17 the battle at Ahmici on the 20th of October, 1992. He
18 had gone to both Mostar and Sarajevo to try and put
19 together a convoy for Jajce. But with the conflicts in
20 Novi Travnik and Ahmici, distrust and suspicion were
21 building between the two militias. No relief convoy
22 for Jajce could be organised in this atmosphere.
23 As a result of this conflict, the HVO and the
24 TO in Vitez literally pulled away from each other, and
25 the process of separation continued. The BiH army
1 relocated its headquarters from Vitez into Stari Vitez,
2 and the HVO moved its headquarters from Kruscica to the
3 Hotel Vitez in the centre of Vitez, but the mood had
4 changed in Vitez.
5 The Territorial Defence leadership in Vitez
6 subsequently met and discussed preparations for war
7 against the HVO. Some members of the Territorial
8 Defence resigned, declaring that they were not ready to
9 wage war against the Croats of Vitez.
10 What were the consequences of these conflicts
11 in Jajce? No convoy arrived. There was no resupply.
12 Within four days of the battle in Ahmici, panic broke
13 out in Jajce. 40.000 civilians pulled out.
14 Discouraged and embittered soldiers of both militias,
15 Croat and Muslim, followed.
16 If I could have the next slide, please? This
17 map, denoted "F," depicts the majority ethnic groups
18 and general deployment of forces following the fall of
19 Jajce on the 24th of October, 1992. You will recall on
20 the prior map there was a finger and a circle
21 constituting areas in and around Jajce controlled by
22 green and blue forces. On this map, of course, it is
23 gone, and the people who were in Jajce have all been
24 displaced and expelled into the Lasva Valley.
25 Most of the displaced population was of
1 Muslim ethnicity. There were many Croats as well, but
2 they tended to leave for Croatia, while the Muslims did
3 not. To put these population movements in context, the
4 40.000 displaced persons from Jajce, compared with a
5 total pre-war population in Vitez of 25.000, by this
6 time, the total number of displaced persons flowing
7 into the Lasva and Kiseljak valleys exceeded 200.000
8 people. This had more than doubled the existing
9 population of these municipalities.
10 The fall of Jajce and the cumulative influx
11 of displaced persons accelerated the destabilisation of
12 Muslim-Croat relations in Central Bosnia. Already
13 scarce resources, like housing and food, became more
14 so. Displaced Muslim males arriving in Travnik were
15 conscripted into BiH army units, which resulted in a
16 huge imbalance of forces in Travnik between the HVO and
17 the BiH army in favour of the BiH army.
18 There were other implications as well.
19 Displaced Croats and Muslims were angry, frustrated and
20 prone to theft and acts of violence. Some kept their
21 weapons and became uncontrolled. As a result, public
22 security deteriorated in Central Bosnia. In addition,
23 the pre-existing relative balance in ethnic population
24 in the Vitez and Kiseljak municipalities was altered,
25 which contributed to a paranoia among the general Croat
2 I would like to elaborate at this point on
3 the issue of maintenance of public order. Tihomir
4 Blaskic neither directed, encouraged, nor acquiesced in
5 the commission of criminal acts against Muslim
6 residents of Vitez or anywhere else.
7 The evidence will show, firstly, that
8 suppression of crime was and continued to be the
9 principal responsibility of civil authorities in
10 Central Bosnia. Tihomir Blaskic was never appointed
11 military governor of that or any other region, nor did
12 he exercise such de facto powers, such as by ruling
13 over civil matters by decree. At all times, civil
14 governments continued to exist in Vitez, Busovaca, and
15 Kiseljak, as did the civil police.
16 Where the suspected perpetrator of a criminal
17 act was a civilian or was unknown, investigative
18 jurisdiction lay with the civil police. Where the
19 suspected perpetrator was a member of the HVO, the
20 civil police would refer the matter to the military
21 police for investigation. The ultimate responsibility
22 for initiating prosecution, rendering judgement, and
23 imposing punishment lay with the court system.
24 The evidence will show there was a general
25 breakdown in law and order in the Lasva and Kiseljak
1 valleys as masses of displaced and armed persons
2 arrived in 1992 and 1993. Even large amounts of
3 explosives were commonly available, due to the
4 proximity of the SPS factory outside Vitez, of which we
5 will speak further. The victims of these crimes
6 against property and person were both Muslim and
8 There was also criminality within HVO ranks.
9 Most soldiers in the militia were on duty for a week or
10 ten days, during which time they were paid as
11 soldiers. The rest of the month they were off duty,
12 civilians, not paid, but still in possession of their
13 uniforms and weapons. Hardships and low morale
14 contributed to alcohol abuse and irresponsible
16 The civil police worked throughout the war
17 investigating crimes and reporting their results to
18 prosecutors and courts, but their task was difficult.
19 The civil police suffered from a shortage of qualified
20 personnel and equipment. They had no forensic
21 laboratory. The evidence will show that Tihomir
22 Blaskic never interfered with the functioning of the
23 civil police, never told them not to investigate a
24 crime, and never told anyone to give priority to any
25 victim or group of victims of crime.
1 We will present to you investigative records
2 of the civil police to demonstrate their investigation
3 of criminal acts during the war, without regard to the
4 ethnicity of the victim or the perpetrator.
5 What was Tihomir Blaskic's reaction to
6 increases in criminal activity?
7 Yes, Your Honour?
8 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Hayman, perhaps we'll take
9 a break. You know, this Wednesday afternoon, since
10 we're not going to be meeting in the morning, and
11 Friday afternoon, since we're not going to be meeting
12 in the afternoon, we will have longer time periods.
13 Therefore, it would be proper for the interpreters to
14 take a break. I would suggest to the interpreters that
15 we take a ten-minute break, and then we will take a
16 longer break a little bit later on around 5.00.
17 We will take a ten-minute break now then.
18 --- Recess taken at 3.32 p.m.
19 --- On resuming at 3.50 p.m.
20 JUDGE JORDA: We will resume the hearing
21 now. Have the accused brought in, please.
22 (The accused entered court)
23 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Hayman, let's continue.
24 MR. HAYMAN: Thank you, Mr. President.
25 THE INTERPRETER: Mr. Hayman, please turn
1 your microphone on.
2 MR. HAYMAN: Thank you, Mr. President.
3 Returning to the subject of public security
4 in Central Bosnia, what was Tihomir Blaskic's response
5 or reaction to the increases in overall levels of crime
6 in Central Bosnia? He took extensive measures to curb
7 criminal acts by HVO soldiers in towns and villages.
8 He repeatedly ordered subordinate commanders to
9 eliminate criminal elements within HVO ranks, to
10 confiscate their uniforms and weapons, to expel them
11 from the HVO, and to use force to prevent them from
12 committing criminal conduct.
13 Now I will turn to events in the Kiseljak
14 municipality in both 1992 and January 1993. In the
15 Kiseljak municipality, as in Vitez, there were both TO
16 and HVO units in most villages. The TO units were not
17 commanded by the 3rd Corps in Zenica. As was the case
18 in the Lasva Valley, they were commanded by the BH
19 command in Visoko to the east of Kiseljak.
20 There were three principal armed conflicts
21 between the Croat and Muslim militias in the Kiseljak
22 municipality, first in August of 1992, then in January
23 of 1993, and then again in April of 1993. Each of
24 these conflicts centred around the same military
25 objective or issue, control over the main supply route
1 or road that runs through the Kiseljak municipality.
2 From the HVO's perspective, it could not
3 defend the Kiseljak Valley if the main supply route was
4 cut. Any portion cut off from Kiseljak proper would be
5 isolated, deprived of reinforcements and resupply, and
6 would collapse if attacked.
7 In August of 1992 and, again, in January
8 1993, the BiH army took action designed to exert control
9 over the Kiseljak main supply route. The motive was
10 control of this strategic route, as well as control of
11 territory, something that was needed for the large
12 number of Muslim displaced persons driven out of
13 northern and eastern Bosnia by the Serbs.
14 In August 1992, the Territorial Defence in
15 Kiseljak first formed a secret plan to exert control
16 over the Kiseljak main supply route by taking control
17 of the road via military checkpoints at several
18 locations within the Kiseljak municipality.
19 Those locations, which the Territorial
20 Defence forces in Kiseljak intended to establish
21 checkpoints in August of 1992 in order to take control
22 of the main supply route, were located, and I'll point
23 to them, at Bilalovac, which is here, Gomionica, and
24 the village of Gromljak which is across the main supply
25 route from Gomionica. This flag represents Gomionica
1 on the hill above the main supply route. On the other
2 side of Kiseljak, the village of Duhri, D-U-H-R-I, and
3 then finally the village of Han Ploca indicated by the
4 fourth flag of the series I have pointed out, four
5 green flags, that is.
6 The HVO responded to these new checkpoints,
7 and there were fire fights, gun battles, at several of
8 them. The battle at the Duhri checkpoint, which is the
9 third of the four as you go down the road towards
10 Kresevo, was the fiercest and it went on for a number
11 of hours. In the course of this battle, the BH forces
12 fired a weapon from the minaret of the mosque in
13 Duhri. That fire was returned, and the minaret was hit
14 with rounds from an anti-aircraft gun that caused
15 pockmarks to the exterior of the minaret. The damage
16 was minor.
17 When this conflict broke out, Tihomir Blaskic
18 happened to be in Kiseljak. He took action to prevent
19 a wider conflict between the HVO and the TO, he ordered
20 a cease-fire, and he ordered HVO units not to disarm TO
21 units or to issue ultimata to units to disarm. That
22 occurred in August of 1992. The TO attempt to seize
23 control of the main supply route was unsuccessful.
24 The second attempt in January of 1993 by the
25 BH army to cut the main supply route at the northern or
1 north-west end of the Kiseljak enclave, what became an
2 enclave, was successful.
3 Indeed, it is this attempt and this military
4 action that launched the war between Muslims and Croats
5 in Central Bosnia that gives rise to the principal
6 charges in this case.
7 The BH attack was consistent with its earlier
8 plan in August of 1992 to exert control over the main
9 supply route in the Kiseljak municipality. The purpose
10 of this attack was simple: to divide and conquer, cut
11 the main supply route, take control of the territory,
12 and connect the BH army forces to the north in Zenica
13 and Visoko with the BH 4th Corps to the south based in
14 Mostar. That was accomplished through this action, as
15 I will describe.
16 At this time, the front-line with the Serbs in
17 Central Bosnia was relatively static. There were few
18 movements in the front-line between the Serbs, on the
19 one hand, and the Croats and Muslims on the other, over
20 the balance of the war in Central Bosnia, from January
21 of 1993 on. The Serb lines were static. Superior Serb
22 weaponry, positions, and forces made territorial gains
23 against the Serbs by the BH army very difficult. By
24 contrast, the Croats were an easier target from which
25 to take territory.
1 Thus, in the third week of January 1993, the
2 BH army established a new checkpoint at this location,
3 Kacuni, which is down the main supply route from
4 Busovaca toward Kiseljak. This checkpoint cut the
5 spinal road connecting the Lasva and Kiseljak Valleys
6 for the rest of the war and the rest of the period
7 covered by this indictment.
8 Fighting, of course, broke out initially at
9 this checkpoint, and in the aftermath, BH army forces
10 from Zenica and from Visoko attacked Croats and Croat
11 villages in a wide swath of territory between Kacuni
12 and Bilalovac which we discussed a moment ago in the
13 context of the August 1992 conflict. Croat villages in
14 between Kacuni and Bilalovac were largely destroyed in
15 the days of fighting after the erection of the
16 roadblock, new checkpoint, at Kacuni.
17 You will hear testimony from witnesses to
18 those attacks, including from the Croat villages of
19 Gusti Grab and Oseliste in this area (indicating). At
20 the same time, this again is January 1993, BH army
21 units attacked a Croat village known as Dusina, which
22 you may recall from earlier testimony. Dusina is
23 located here (indicating) in a small valley over the
24 hill from Busovaca.
25 In the attack on Dusina, more than a dozen
1 civilians and captured soldiers were executed by the BH
2 army soldiers at the scene. You will hear testimony in
3 our case from eyewitnesses to those events.
4 The Dusina killings were the first murders of
5 civilians on the territory of Central Bosnia by either
6 the Croat or Muslim militia, and they served to inflame
7 the situation and the fears and paranoia within the
8 Croat population. Although repeated cease-fires were
9 proclaimed and attempts were made to enforce them, from
10 late January on, the "war within a war," the war
11 between the Muslims and Croats within Central Bosnia
12 encircled by Serbs, had begun. Indeed, these attacks
13 in January of 1993 altered the strategic positions of
14 the warring parties in Central Bosnia.
15 If I could have the next slide, please?
16 JUDGE JORDA: In order to view the slides, we
17 could perhaps dim the lights a bit because there is a
18 rather unpleasant reflection here. It makes it
19 difficult for all of us to see. Thank you.
20 MR. HAYMAN: This map, labelled as "G,"
21 depicts the new deployment of HVO and BH army militia
22 forces following the successful BH army attacks on
23 Kacuni and Bilalovac in January of 1993. Through the
24 Bilalovac-Kacuni breakthrough, the BH army was able to
25 connect the 3rd and 1st Corps in Zenica and Visoko with
1 the 4th Corps to the south. The main supply route from
2 Kiseljak to Busovaca was cut, which is depicted in this
3 map by the continuous area of green between the two
4 blue enclaves which represent the Vitez-Busovaca
5 enclave to the upper or, rather, central portion of the
6 map, as compared to the Kiseljak enclave which appears
7 some distance to the left or the west from Sarajevo.
8 From January 1993 onward, the BH army did not
9 allow the HVO to pass between these two enclaves. This
10 meant that by denying use by the HVO of roads passing
11 through territories to the south and south-west of the
12 Vitez-Busovaca enclave, which the BH army already
13 controlled, they could turn Vitez-Busovaca into an
14 enclave completely encircled by the BH army. And they
16 We will introduce evidence in our case
17 concerning what Tihomir Blaskic's role was in this
18 conflict. He had not expected an attack from the BH
19 army in January of 1993. After all, the HVO and the BH
20 army were still allies in the fight against the Serbs.
21 On the 23rd of January, a Saturday, he
22 finished work at his headquarters in Vitez and he went
23 to Brestovsko in the Kiseljak municipality to visit his
24 parents. The BH attacks began on the following day,
25 Sunday, the 24th of January, and on that day, the main
1 supply route was cut.
2 On Monday morning, the next day, he tried to
3 return to the operative zone headquarters in Vitez but
4 the road was cut at Bilalovac. In fact, but for
5 transportation to U.N. meetings in the belly of a
6 BRITBAT Warrior or armoured personnel carrier, he was
7 trapped in Kiseljak until early March 1993 when he was
8 able to return to Vitez, again having been transported
9 there in a U.N. Warrior.
10 On the 27th of January, he met in Kiseljak
11 with UNPROFOR and BiH army representatives. That was
12 three days after the BiH army action had begun.
13 The map marked as "G" depicts the large swath
14 of strategic territory between the two Croat enclaves
15 which had been lost over the prior 72 hours.
16 What was his position at this meeting on the
17 27th of January?
18 He knew the HVO was hopelessly outnumbered by
19 the BH army 3rd, 1st, and 4th Corps and he had been
20 informed, by the 27th, that the HVO had suffered
21 hundreds of dead and wounded in the conflict over the
22 prior 72 hours.
23 At this meeting on January 27th, he asked for
24 a cease-fire and that the road be unblocked. The BiH
25 army would not open the road, but he nonetheless
1 ordered an unconditional cease-fire to stop the
2 fighting. He had little choice. He continued to
3 pursue peace with the BH army because he knew a larger
4 conflict would be disastrous for the HVO.
5 Two weeks later, on February 13th, at another
6 U.N.-sponsored meeting, Tihomir Blaskic and General
7 Hadzihasanovic issued joint orders for immediate
8 withdrawal of forces to prior positions, assistance to
9 refugees to return to their homes, complete security
10 for the civilian population, unconditional release of
11 all detained persons, removal of all barricades, and
12 free passage for aid and materiel.
13 These are the orders that the U.N. asked for
14 and these are the orders that Tihomir Blaskic issued.
15 He was still isolated in Kiseljak, though, at the time,
16 since the road was never reopened. His ability to
17 influence HVO forces in Busovaca during the late
18 January and March 1993 time period was limited to
19 issuing orders and other directives to them.
20 While in Kiseljak, he received certain
21 reports via an amateur radio software known within the
22 HVO as the "packet radio system." This was the best
23 system the HVO had for sending messages among the
24 Bosnian Croat enclaves in Central Bosnia. When it
25 functioned, the packet radio system enabled the HVO to
1 send short written messages by unsecured radio
2 transmissions. The system, however, was not reliable.
3 These messages were frequently intercepted by the BH
4 army since radio transmissions are open to interception
5 by anyone listening to the right frequency. It also
6 suffered due to a lack of electricity, hardware or
7 software problems, and a lack of trained technical
8 personnel to run the system.
9 In fact, we will introduce documents in our
10 case indicating that on the 26th of January, during the
11 peak of the fighting in the area we have been
12 discussing, only the Vitez packet radio network was
13 operational throughout all of Central Bosnia.
14 What reports did Tihomir Blaskic receive
15 concerning war activity in January and February while
16 he was cut off in Kiseljak? He received a few
17 reports. He was told the BH army had attacked
18 Busovaca, that the villages of Lasva and Dusina were
19 attacked, that other Croat villages had been destroyed,
20 and that HVO casualties were high. In not one of these
21 reports was he given any information relating to any
22 crimes committed by HVO forces in or around Busovaca.
23 The Court will have these reports for its
24 deliberations in this case.
25 Tihomir Blaskic did not wait for the first
1 conflict with the BH army to give explicit directions
2 concerning compliance with the laws of war by the HVO
4 In November of 1992, he warned all HVO unit
5 commanders to prevent soldiers from undertaking illegal
6 actions or other destructive conduct.
7 In response to the violence in Novi Travnik
8 in October, in early November, he directed the HVO in
9 Novi Travnik to take all measures to prevent the
10 burning of Muslim homes in that municipality. In
11 February, he issued an order to all brigades and units
12 to comply with his prior order in January, prohibiting
13 murders, shootings, and bad behaviour, and insisted
14 that subordinate commanders correct such conduct.
15 On the 17th of March, after he returned to
16 the Vitez-Busovaca enclave, he issued a further order
17 to all units to identify members prone to destructive
18 and criminal conduct to remove them from the HVO and
19 confiscate their weapons and uniforms.
20 We will introduce all of these orders into
22 He took other prophylactic measures. He
23 directed the distribution of calendars to HVO soldiers
24 in both 1992 and 1993 that on one side states the
25 guarantees of the Geneva Convention. It is designed as
1 something that a soldier would carry around in his
2 pocket on a daily basis. On these calendars, soldiers
3 are told that the Conventions require respect and
4 protection for the wounded, the sick, prisoners of war,
5 and civilians.
6 He sent members of every brigade headquarters
7 staff to seminars on the Geneva Conventions and
8 directed that they issue appropriate instructions to
9 their units.
10 When the conflict intensified in April 1993,
11 he issued many additional orders for the protection of
12 civilians and property and compliance with the laws of
13 war, and he repeated those orders even during the most
14 difficult of times for the HVO during the war.
15 We will authenticate these orders through
16 live witness testimony. When compared to orders
17 already in evidence, they will also be shown to be
18 authentic based upon their form, stamps, seals,
19 signatures and other markings. The evidence will show
20 that these orders were issued sincerely and in good
21 faith by Tihomir Blaskic and that he expected them to
22 be carried out by subordinate commanders and by
23 soldiers in the field.
24 Command and control begins with an order but
25 does not end there.
1 The evidence will show that Tihomir Blaskic's
2 orders were not uniformly implemented and obeyed, nor
3 were events in the field always accurately reported to
5 We will present evidence in our case
6 concerning what elements are required for effective
7 command and control over military forces and which of
8 those elements did not exist with respect to particular
9 HVO units and time periods. Effective command and
10 control of subordinate units requires a number of
12 Next slide, please.
13 There is a hard copy or paper copy of this
14 slide which each of Your Honours and the members of the
15 Prosecution should have if this is too difficult to
16 read on the screen. The left consists of bullet points
17 in English; the right, of course, French. I will read
19 A commander must have the authority to issue
20 commands to the unit in question.
21 A commander must have an effective staff.
22 An order must be effectively communicated to
23 the unit.
24 An order to act must be acted upon promptly
25 by the unit.
1 The subordinate unit must possess an
2 effective organisation enabling responsibilities
3 arising out of an order to act to be properly assigned
4 and carried out.
5 The unit must act consistent with the order.
6 Accurate reports must be promptly relayed up
7 the chain of command.
8 Lastly, acts cannot be taken on
10 At certain times, these preconditions for
11 command and control did not exist within the HVO. We
12 will introduce testimony concerning the HVO brigade in
13 Sarajevo which had almost no ability to communicate
14 with the accused even though the accused was, on paper,
15 responsible for that brigade.
16 After April, when Kiseljak was cut off and
17 the BH army enforced that isolation of the Kiseljak
18 enclave, the HVO in Vitez, the evidence will show, had
19 virtually no control over the HVO in Kiseljak, Fojnica,
20 Vares, or Kakanj, and I will elaborate later in my
21 comments on this issue.
22 This lack of command and control, however,
23 was not the fault of Tihomir Blaskic. He took
24 extensive measures to try and establish an effective
25 system for issuing orders down and for passing reports
1 up the chain of command. His orders regularly assigned
2 personal responsibility for their implementation and
3 demanded a prompt reporting on the actions required by
4 the order.
5 There was, however, a basic shortage of
6 trained or even educated persons in the HVO militia to
7 serve as officers and commanders.
8 What were the consequences?
9 If we could have the next slide, please?
10 This chart, Your Honours, is available in
11 three forms. It's on the video. You also have a
12 small, hard copy of it in the set of materials you've
13 been provided with, and it also exists to my left in
14 large format, shall we say.
15 This chart depicts the levels of command
16 which existed in the operative zone for Central
17 Bosnia. These levels begin, for our purposes, with the
18 commander of the operative zone. That was Tihomir
19 Blaskic. Going down from him, the subordinate levels
20 of command were the operative groups, the brigades,
21 this, of course, was after the brigades were formed,
22 battalion, company, platoon, squad, and fighting group,
23 the most basic element of a fighting force. Roughly,
24 the number of people in these units is depicted to the
25 right of the categories themselves.
1 What else does this chart depict? The
2 left-hand side of the chart depicts the need for orders
3 to be issued by each subordinate commander down to the
4 level of the actual fighting man or soldier in the
5 fighting group. The orders issued at each of these
6 levels must vary somewhat, in that lower level units
7 will be concerned with smaller, more specific tasks,
8 but they must also remain true to the top commander's
9 general instructions for command and control to exist.
10 This process of issuing orders and suborders
11 down to the level of the soldier in the field requires
12 educated persons to function properly. There was a
13 general shortage of educated persons in the Bosnian
14 Croat militia that could perform this task. In fact,
15 most of the HVO brigades either had no officers with
16 formal military education or one or two at the most.
17 That compares to a NATO standard that would require at
18 least 25 times as many trained officers for units of
19 comparable size.
20 Even commanders at a fairly high level in the
21 HVO militia, such as at the brigade level, lacked
22 military education. One brigade commander had been an
23 automobile mechanic before the war. There's nothing
24 wrong with that. It's a profession that many of us
25 come to need at one time or another, but that does not
1 constitute a military training. Another commander of a
2 significant sized unit sold life insurance up until the
3 middle of the war.
4 Effective command and control also requires
5 that the commander receive timely and accurate reports
6 of events in the field. If a commander doesn't know
7 what is happening in the field, he cannot issue
8 effective orders to direct and control those events.
9 Effective reporting, and I'm now indicating
10 to the right-hand side of the chart which has an arrow
11 going up the chain of command back to the commander,
12 effective reporting up the chain of command requires
13 that reports initially made at the level of command, at
14 the level of command at which the reportable event was
15 observed -- the question there, of course, is at what
16 level did the event occur? Did it occur at the level
17 of a platoon, at a company, or at some higher level?
18 Effective reporting requires that the reports be
19 accurate and that the reports actually go up the
20 chain. A report that doesn't reach the commander is a
21 report that, from the perspective of the commander,
22 does not exist.
23 The right-hand portion of the chart
24 indicates, again, the same levels of command but this
25 time the levels of command through which reports must
1 flow in order to reach the commander.
2 The evidence in the case will show that, at
3 critical times, reports either were not made of
4 criminal acts by HVO militia members, or they were made
5 but not accurately reported up the chain of command to
6 Tihomir Blaskic. Both are required for command and
7 control, accurate reporting up and accurate issuance
8 and repetition of orders down the chain of command.
9 Command and control in the operative zone was
10 also undermined by a degree of chaos at the higher
11 level above the commander of the operative zone, off
12 this chart, in other words, above it. At three
13 different times, Tihomir Blaskic was placed under a
14 joint command. That is, he was made subordinate to a
15 joint command comprised of various former HOS and
16 current HVO or BH army commanders.
17 In November 1992, he was ordered to
18 subordinate to a joint command comprised of the former
19 HOS leader Ante Prkacin, as well as Arif Pasalic of the
20 BH army. That changed two months later when he was
21 told to form a joint command with General
22 Hadzihasanovic. In April, he was ordered to form a
23 different joint command, again with the BH army, which
24 proved very difficult, since the two parties were
25 effectively at war during this period.
1 The Defence is not criticising these attempts
2 at peacemaking, nor criticising the idea of joint
3 commands, but the evidence will show that these
4 constantly changing patterns of subordination and
5 responsibility introduced an element of chaos, even at
6 the highest level of command and control in the
8 Now I will turn to the resumption of the war
9 in April of 1993. After the January war, Tihomir
10 Blaskic found himself in a highly vulnerable military
11 position. With the Vitez-Busovaca-Kiseljak region cut
12 into two separate enclaves, the ability to defend
13 itself against the overwhelming numerical superiority
14 of the BH forces was reduced. Communications and
15 resupply for the Vitez-Busovaca enclave was
16 precarious. Nonetheless, he continued to pursue a
17 course of reconciliation with the BH army following the
18 January war. He knew that confrontation would be
19 disastrous for the HVO.
20 What did he do? In March 1993, he approved
21 the provision of over 6.000 kilograms of explosives to
22 the BH army logistics base in Visoko. On the 1st of
23 April, the 3rd Corps received, through HVO territory, a
24 significant shipment of weapons, including some 15 RPG
25 launchers, 1.500 RPG grenades, and some 150.000 rounds
1 of ammunition. The BH army was preparing for
3 Where were the BH army forces in the Lasva
4 Valley? On the 20th of June, 1992, President
5 Izetbegovic had declared a general mobilisation in
6 Bosnia-Herzegovina of all men between the ages of 18
7 and 65 and all women between the ages of 18 and 55.
8 The entire adult population, in other words, was
9 ordered to report to the nearest TO or Territorial
10 Defence unit.
11 The 3rd Corps, as I have said, commanded the
12 BH army and TO units in the Lasva Valley. There were
13 four brigades in Zenica, three or more in Travnik,
14 including the 7th Muslim Brigade, as well as brigades
15 in Novi Travnik, Busovaca, and Vitez. These are all BH
16 army forces.
17 The BH army brigade in Vitez, known as the
18 325th Mountain Brigade, was present at battalion
19 strength in Stari Vitez, Kruscica, Preocica, and
20 Poculica. Subordinate companies were located in Bila,
21 Vrhovine, Ahmici, and Vranska, and there were other
22 platoons. The company in Ahmici was part of the
23 battalion located in Preocica. The Ahmici company had
24 a headquarters in the primary school, a radio station,
25 and a centralised stockpile of weapons.
1 The BH army had an interest in taking Vitez.
2 The SPS factory, one of the largest explosives and
3 munitions factories in the former Yugoslavia was a
4 principal target of the BH army. They desperately
5 wanted to control this factory on the outskirts of
6 Vitez. In subsequent international negotiations,
7 President Izetbegovic would demand BH army control of
8 Vitez for this stated reason. As in January, pressure
9 was building to take more territory from the HVO to
10 accommodate displaced persons.
11 April of 1993 saw a resumption of more direct
12 violence, including violence directed against the HVO.
13 On the 8th of April, Easter Sunday, violence broke out
14 in Travnik over the display of Croatian flags, as well
15 as Bosnian flags, on certain buildings. There were
16 both Muslim and Croat casualties as a result.
17 On the 12th of April, several HVO members
18 were stopped in Stari Vitez, interrogated, and beaten.
19 On the 13th of April, four officers of the HVO in Novi
20 Travnik and Travnik were kidnapped. On the 14th of
21 April, an assassination attempt was made of Darko
22 Kraljevic, commander of the independent Vitezovi unit.
23 As the Court has already heard, on the 15th of April,
24 in Zenica, the HVO brigade commander, Zivko Totic, was
25 kidnapped and four HVO soldiers murdered, as was a
1 bystander. This was followed, on the 15th of April, by
2 a complete blockade of Zenica by BH army forces.
3 We will also introduce evidence in our case
4 that on the 15th of April, again, not on the 16th when
5 the general conflict broke out, but the prior day, the
6 15th of April, 1993, conflict broke out on the
7 strategic location known as Kuber Mountain, K-U-B-E-R.
8 This green flag depicts the highest peak on Kuber
9 Mountain. Kuber Mountain was the dominant feature
10 between the Lasva Valley and Zenica. Zenica was the
11 site of the 3rd Corps and, approximately, 20.000 to
12 40.000 soldiers in that corps. Exact numbers are not
14 Control of Kuber was a critical issue in the
15 control of the Lasva Valley. Prior to the 16th of
16 April, the HVO controlled mountain-top positions on
17 Kuber, but on the 15th, fighting broke out between BH
18 army and HVO positions on Kuber. By 6.00 p.m. on the
19 15th, reports were made of HVO casualties as a result
20 of that fighting, and those reports had been received
21 by Tihomir Blaskic in the operative zone headquarters.
22 Suffice it to say that by the 15th of April,
23 the HVO and the Lasva Valley was under attack, although
24 principally through attacks on its leadership. Had it
25 come under a direct attack from the BH army and Zenica
1 at the time, the HVO would not, from its existing
2 positions, have been able to defend Vitez. An attack
3 would likely have cut the Vitez-Busovaca pocket and led
4 to the fall of the HVO in that pocket.
5 Had it been divided into multiple, smaller
6 pockets, the HVO forces would not have been able to
7 move and concentrate defensive forces. The main supply
8 route or road served that critical function of enabling
9 them to move and concentrate forces on defensive forces
10 in the case of a BH army attack.
11 In addition, the proximity of Territorial
12 Defence forces to the main supply route, as in Ahmici
13 but at other points in the enclave as well, put HVO
14 control of the main supply route in jeopardy. The
15 October '92 barricade at Ahmici had demonstrated as
17 BH army forces within the pocket were also of
18 concern to the HVO. Namely, forces in Kruscica and
19 Stari Vitez could launch mortar, sniper, and even
20 infantry attacks within the Vitez-Busovaca enclave.
21 Also of concern were smaller HVO units in Gacice and
22 Donji Verceriska, which were on dominant hill positions
23 over the SPS factory to the immediate west of Vitez.
24 This was the deteriorating military situation
25 in which Tihomir Blaskic found himself responsible for
1 on the 15th of April, 1993. He had also received two
2 intelligence reports in the previous weeks. We will
3 introduce those reports into evidence.
4 In mid March, he was told to expect a likely
5 BH army attack on Vitez from the direction of Zenica.
6 He was told to expect this likely attack from Zenica
7 towards Vitez with BH army forces coming through
8 Vrhovine, which is right here above the hill from
9 Ahmici, for the purpose, he was told in this
10 intelligence report, of linking up with BH forces which
11 already existed in Vranska, where I'm now pointing,
12 which is on the other side of the main supply route or
13 main road. Were BH forces to link up between Vrhovine,
14 Ahmici, and Vranska, of course, the Vitez-Busovaca
15 pocket would have been cut in half.
16 Towards the end of March, he received a
17 second intelligence report, which we will also offer
18 into evidence, which predicted an attack by the BH army
19 in an attempt to link Zenica, here, with Travnik to the
20 west. The report told him that the attack would likely
21 come from Preocica, which is located here, there's no
22 flag currently at Preocica, but also from Poculica,
23 which is here, and down the hill to Sivrino Selo, a
24 position held by the BH army throughout the war and,
25 literally, within a stone's throw of the main supply
1 route running through the Vitez-Busovaca enclave.
2 In light of these assessments and the
3 escalating attacks on the HVO leadership, as well as
4 the blockade of Zenica on the 15th, Tihomir Blaskic
5 concluded that he had to take steps to prepare to
6 defend Vitez against a possible BH army attack.
7 What did he do? We will prove exactly what
8 he did through his written instructions to HVO forces
9 on the 15th and 16th of April. On the 15th of April at
10 10.00 in the morning, he issued a written order to all
11 HVO units. First, he set forth his assessment that the
12 BH army would likely attack Kuber Mountain - in fact,
13 that attack happened later in the day, as I've already
14 said - in an attempt to link up with BH forces to the
15 west in Poculica and then across the main supply route
16 in Vranska, which I indicated on the relief model a
17 moment ago.
18 He gave specific and clear assignments in
19 this order. He directed the 4th battalion of the
20 regional military police of the HVO to secure the
21 headquarters of the operative zone and to keep the
22 Busovaca-Vitez-Travnik road open. If any barricades
23 were placed on that road, as had occurred in October of
24 '92, he instructed them to prevent barricades from
25 being placed. Then he gave the critical, for our
1 purposes, instruction.
2 If I could have the next slide, please?
3 Could we, perhaps, zoom in on that slide slightly to
4 make it more legible, or focus, one or the other. No,
5 not possible? Thank you.
6 This is a portion of the order of 15 April at
7 1000 hours, and I quote: "In the event of a rather
8 strong attack by the Muslim extremist forces from the
9 direction of Nadioci, Ahmici, Sivrino Selo or Pirici,
10 report to me, and if they shoot directly on you, return
11 fire and neutralise the attacker."
12 To the Vitezovi independent unit in this same
13 order, he gave them the task -- that part of the order
14 is not depicted in this slide, but we will offer this
15 order into evidence in its entirety. To the Vitezovi
16 unit, he gave them the task of responding to any
17 breakthrough by the BH army through the front-line
18 positions of the HVO, particularly in case of an attack
19 from within Stari Vitez towards the Hotel Vitez HVO
20 headquarters. The Vitezovi were directed to block any
21 such attack and protect the headquarters.
22 To all other brigades, he directed a state of
23 preparedness to carry out a defence of their zone of
24 responsibility. He instructed the HVO brigades, in
25 case of an attack, to withdraw only after evacuating
1 the population and with his consent. In this order on
2 the 15th, he spoke of the possible need to withdraw in
3 the face of the BH army attack he was expecting.
4 None of these units were ordered to attack
5 the BH army, much less any civilians or civilian
7 At 15.45, he issued a second order, on the
8 15th of April. This order went to the HVO in Vitez,
9 Busovaca, Kiseljak, Zenica, Travnik, and Novi Travnik.
10 In it, he outlined the continuing threat to the HVO
11 leadership from possible terrorist attacks, attempts to
12 liquidate the leadership, and he ordered these units to
13 prepare small groups to defend against possible further
14 terrorist attacks on HVO commanders.
15 On the 16th, he issued one more order at 1.30
16 a.m. So the night of the 15th, early morning hours of
17 the 16th, he issued a further combat order to the Vitez
18 brigade and the Tvrtko special unit. They were ordered
19 to stop the attack of the BH army and block BH army
20 forces in Kruscica, Vranska, which I indicated a moment
21 ago, and Donji Vecerska, one of the villages adjacent
22 to the SPS factory. He explained in the order that an
23 attack by the enemy was expected from the direction of
24 the south, Kruscica and Vranska, and that the duty of
25 the units addressed was to block these villages and to
1 stop movement in and out. He directed that "If the
2 enemy attacks you openly, stop his movement."
3 All three of these orders were defensive.
4 None of them directed an attack; only to respond if
5 attacked. None of them directed an attack on
6 civilians. None of them singled out Ahmici for any
7 military action. No such order was given by Tihomir
8 Blaskic on the 15th of April or at any other time.
9 On the morning -- excuse me?
10 JUDGE JORDA: I think we're going to take a
11 20-minute break. All right. We will suspend the
12 hearing now.
13 --- Recess taken at 4.45 p.m.
14 --- On resuming at 5.13 p.m.
15 JUDGE JORDA: We will resume the hearing
16 now. Please have the accused brought in.
17 Mr. Hayman, please proceed.
18 (The accused entered court)
19 MR. HAYMAN: Thank you, Mr. President.
20 I described the orders, combat orders, given
21 by Tihomir Blaskic on the 15th and early morning of the
22 16th of April. What happened on the morning of the
23 16th of April?
24 Clearly, fighting broke out between the
25 Muslim and Croat militias in the Lasva Valley. Who
1 fired the first shots is not particularly relevant to
2 this case. What is clear is that forces of both the
3 HVO and the BH army were in close proximity to each
4 other in several locations, and fighting between them
5 spread across the greater Vitez area on the morning of
6 the 16th.
7 Before continuing on with the events of that
8 day, I would like to briefly return to the issue of the
9 HVO command structure.
10 The orders I mentioned before the break
11 included orders to HVO brigades, the 4th Battalion of
12 the regional military police, and the Vitezovi
13 independent unit.
14 What was Blaskic's command relationship to
15 these units? This is a central issue for command
17 If I could have the next slide, please?
18 This slide also, Your Honours, will exist on
19 the video. You have a small printed version in the
20 materials that you should have, and it also has
21 been replicated in large format to my left.
22 This chart depicts the organisation of the
23 HVO military in the Central Bosnia operative zone and
24 its larger context, the framework within which the
25 central zone of the HVO, the operative zone, existed.
1 Across the top of the chart are the various
2 departments of the HVO civil structure within
3 Herceg-Bosna. So you have, for example, the Department
4 of Social Activities, Department of Commerce,
5 Department of Internal Affairs, Department of Finance,
6 and Department of Justice. Normal types of civil
7 governmental bureaux or departments.
8 The department of interest, for our purposes,
9 is the Department of Defence, which is depicted in the
10 middle of the top line of the chart. There are three
11 elements within the Department of Defence that are
12 relevant again for our purposes, and they are
13 depicted -- well, there are actually four. There are
14 three at one level and then there is a fourth that is
15 depicted at a lower level to the right of the chart
16 because of space limitations.
17 What are they?
18 In the centre, there are the headquarters of
19 the HVO. That is a reference to the main headquarters
20 of the HVO in Mostar, subordinate to the Department of
21 Defence. But there were other elements on the same
22 level as the HVO military headquarters. What were
24 To the left, we see the head office for
25 military police. That was a separate office within the
1 Department of Defence that was not under the HVO
2 headquarters. In addition, to the right, we have the
3 head office for Security Information Service. That is
4 not a unit, that is a service. It is an internal
5 security service, if you will, that existed again as a
6 service or bureau within the Department of Defence and
7 was not subordinate to the HVO headquarters.
8 Fourthly, following the line to the right and
9 down, there are three special purpose units with a
10 direct line of command to the Department of Defence.
11 They were the Vitezovi unit, the Busic unit, and the
12 Pavlovic or Ludwig Pavlovic unit. They are depicted to
13 the right of the chart.
14 Under the HVO military headquarters, the main
15 staff, there are three operative zones not depicted at
16 the same level here simply because of space
17 limitations. You have the first operative zone and the
18 second operative zone, but at the same level, the third
19 operative zone, which has been dropped down one level
20 in order to provide more space to depict other
22 The third operative zone was the operative
23 zone for Central Bosnia. That is the zone, of course,
24 we are concerned about in this case for the most part.
25 Underneath the third operative zone, with a
1 direct line or chain of command, were the various
2 brigades and units that were directly subordinated to
3 the operative zone for Central Bosnia. By way of
4 explanation, some of these are instantly recognisable,
5 such as the Vitez brigade and the Travnik brigade.
6 These other brigades, in short, the Ban Jelacic Brigade
7 was in Kiseljak, the Stjepan Tomasevic brigade was in
8 Novi Travnik, the Bobovac brigade was in Vares, the
9 111xp brigade was in Zepce, the King Tvrtko brigade was
10 in Sarajevo, and the Kontromanic brigade was in
11 Kakanj. I think I covered them.
12 The anti-aircraft defence unit was a central
13 unit for all anti-aircraft weapons, while the light
14 artillery and rocket division was a small unit with all
15 other artillery pieces centralised in that unit.
16 Not on this chart at this level for space
17 reasons are the HVO brigades in Zenica and Travnik
18 which fell in 1993 or the HVO brigade in Usora some
19 distance to the north of the Lasva Valley.
20 Now, of importance for the Defence case and
21 the matters about which we will be admitting specific
22 evidence relate to the three entities which exist on
23 the same level as the operative zone for Central Bosnia
24 and that are connected with the operative zone by
25 dotted lines. You see a dotted line here, dotted line
1 here, and another dotted line going over to the
2 Vitezovi unit (indicating).
3 These dotted lines reflect the fact that each
4 of these units, in the case of the military police and
5 the Vitezovi and the Service, the Security and
6 Information Service, were required, under the scheme
7 which was in force, to coordinate and assist the
8 operative zone command on an as-needed basis, when in
9 the theatre. When in the area of responsibility, they
10 had, on paper, a responsibility to coordinate with the
11 operative zone.
12 At the same time, their principal command
13 lines lay elsewhere. The 4th Battalion of the regional
14 military police had a direct line of command to the
15 head office for military police in Mostar; the SIS in
16 Central Bosnia had a direct line of responsibility to
17 the head office for SIS; and the Vitezovi special
18 purpose unit, like the other special purpose units, had
19 a direct line of responsibility to the Department of
21 Thus, over each of those three -- those two
22 units and that one service -- there were dual lines, if
23 you will, of command over them, and the operative zone
24 for Central Bosnia did not have, even on paper, an
25 exclusive command relationship with those entities.
1 Now I will return to the 16th of April.
2 The orders given to units in the Vitez area
3 thus were to block enemy forces, to secure the road,
4 and to return fire only if directly fired upon.
5 The evidence will show that these orders were
6 not uniformly implemented; rather, very different
7 actions were pursued in different locations based upon
8 the same orders from the operative zone headquarters.
9 I will review each geographic location of
10 interest. First, Stari Vitez.
11 Fire was exchanged between the HVO and the
12 Territorial Defence units in Stari Vitez on the morning
13 of the 16th of April. There were approximately 250 BH
14 soldiers in Stari Vitez. As a result of this fighting,
15 neither side gained any appreciable territory. Houses
16 and other structures, rather than trenches, were used
17 by both militias in this fight, and houses of both
18 Croats and Muslims were burned and destroyed as a
19 result of that fighting. Other Muslim houses, near
20 what has been referred to as the "Yellow Building,"
21 also appear to have been looted and burned
22 intentionally and not as a result of combat activity.
23 This was the area in which the Vitezovi soldiers
24 operated and were active, and although their activities
25 were limited to a small number of houses, they were
1 directly contrary to the orders of Tihomir Blaskic.
2 Although he did not order an attack on Stari
3 Vitez - he ordered that the BH army be blocked in Stari
4 Vitez - the BH army presence in Stari Vitez nonetheless
5 had military significance to the HVO. It was defended
6 by the BH army, indeed successfully defended with
7 significant casualties inflicted on the HVO forces
9 Over the course of the 16th of April, HVO
10 soldiers were killed and wounded in exchanges with the
11 BH army around the edges of Stari Vitez.
12 Now I will turn to Kruscica.
13 A battle also occurred in Kruscica on the
14 16th of April. Tihomir Blaskic gave the same orders
15 relating to Kruscica as he did to other locations such
16 as Donji Vecerska, yet no specific crime is alleged in
17 the indictment to have resulted in Kruscica.
18 Kruscica was defended by the BH army, the
19 defence was organised, and it was successful. Kruscica
20 was never taken by the HVO during the balance of the
22 What happened in Donji Vecerska?
23 Donji Vecerska was defended by a unit of the
24 Territorial Defence. The village had a plan of
25 defence, and with automatic weapons, sub-machine guns,
1 and a heavy machine gun, implemented that plan of
2 defence. There were approximately 750 Muslim residents
3 in that village. The battle between the HVO and
4 Territorial Defence units there lasted all day on the
5 16th of April, all day on the 17th, and lasted until
6 midday on the 18th. Then the TO units withdrew from
7 the village.
8 Despite the fact that the fighting in that
9 village went on for two and a half days, a total of
10 eight Muslim soldiers and civilians were wounded or
11 killed out of the more than 700 present; approximately
12 nine Croats were wounded and one killed. The
13 indictment does not specifically charge an unlawful
14 attack on civilians or civilian objects in Donji
15 Vecerska on the 16 of April; rather, it is identified
16 as a location in which the unlawful destruction or
17 plunder of property occurred.
18 As the front-line in the village moved around
19 during this two-and-a-half-day fight, houses were
20 burned, both Croat and Muslim. It appears neighbours
21 could see each other burning the other's houses, and a
22 process of reaction and retaliation followed. The
23 evidence will show that the characteristics, the local
24 characteristics of that three-day battle and the
25 property that was destroyed during that time, was a
1 function of local events. The characteristics of the
2 battle was a function of local events and not the
3 orders of the operative zone commander.
4 Poculica is another location which is not
5 specifically named as the site of any offences in the
6 indictment. Poculica is located here, there is a green
7 flag indicating it, and it is on the road from Vitez to
8 Zenica. It lies above the hillside which contains
9 Nadioci, Ahmici, Pirici, Santici, Sivrino Selo.
10 On the morning of the 16th of April in
11 Poculica, what happened? It was a mixed village of
12 Muslims and Croats, more Muslims than Croats, and on
13 the morning of the 16th, the Territorial Defence unit
14 in Poculica attacked the Croat part of the village.
15 Hundreds of Croats fled into a stream to try and escape
16 down the hill, and approximately 70 did not flee and
17 they were captured by the Territorial Defence forces in
19 In the following days, regrettably, those
20 detainees were taken in groups to dig trenches, some
21 were forced to go out into no man's land to collect
22 bodies while tethered to a rope which their captors
23 held onto, and indeed a number of them were murdered
24 and wounded by a shooting incident involving a BH
25 soldier. Some but not all of these 70 detainees were
1 exchanged on the 1st of May.
2 Evidence concerning what happened in Poculica
3 will not be introduced to suggest that one crime
4 justifies another. It does not. Let me make that
5 perfectly clear.
6 Nonetheless, what happened in Poculica,
7 beginning on the morning of the 16th of April, is
8 relevant to whether, on that day, there were attacks on
9 Croats and Croat forces in the Lasva Valley and whether
10 such attacks and the fact of them were actually
11 reported to the Hotel Vitez where Tihomir Blaskic was
12 such that that information shaped his perception of the
13 events of that day and affected his responses to events
14 and to that information.
15 Gacice is another village near Vitez which
16 overlooks the SPS factory from a hill feature. There
17 is no unlawful attack on civilians in Gacice charged in
18 the indictment. The only specific charge is unlawful
19 destruction or plunder of property.
20 In Gacice, there was a Territorial Defence
21 unit of some 50 or 60 soldiers, and on the 16th of
22 April, the Muslim and Croat militias in Gacice gathered
23 and squared off but they did not fight. For three
24 days, they negotiated over surrender of weapons, and
25 both sides dug trenches. By the 20th of April, these
1 discussions had collapsed, and the Vitezovi unit went
2 to Gacice and participated in an attack on the
3 Territorial Defence units in Gacice.
4 In this conflict, there were five men killed,
5 one Croat and four Muslim. In the lower part of the
6 village, the Territorial Defence unit surrendered along
7 with weapons, explosives, and the like which they
8 possessed, and in the upper part of the village, the
9 Territorial Defence soldiers withdrew into BH army
11 In the course of this battle, it appears one
12 Vitezovi soldier was killed. A number of houses
13 appeared to have been burned down in retaliation for
14 the death of that Vitezovi soldier. This is a pattern,
15 which the Court will see from the evidence, was
16 repeated at many different times in many different
17 places; namely, in both the HVO and BH militias, a lack
18 of discipline and control within units caused, where a
19 soldier was killed, immediate retaliation by the
20 soldier's comrades, colleagues - call them what you
21 will - against civilians or civilian objects. This
22 happened not only in Gacice, it happened in Rotilj,
23 which I will discuss later in my comments, it happened
24 in Miletici, where four Croats were executed in direct
25 retaliation for the death of a Mujahedin fighter.
1 Now I will turn to the villages or hamlets
2 more properly known as Nadioci, Ahmici, Pirici, and
3 Santici. These villages or hamlets are all located
4 within a kilometre or two of each other. They are one
5 small area off of the main supply route which runs
6 through the Vitez-Busovaca area. I wanted to call the
7 Court's attention to the fact that they are all located
8 in very, very close proximity to each other.
9 We will introduce evidence in our case
10 concerning the nature of the organised defence that was
11 being prepared in Ahmici prior to the conflict.
12 Although Tihomir Blaskic did not order an attack on
13 Ahmici, it is still relevant that there was an
14 organised defence and that there was a significant
15 battle there on the 16th. It is certainly relevant to
16 subsequent reports he received and information he
18 On the 11th of April, a meeting of the Ahmici
19 Territorial Defence unit was held, at which a plan of
20 defence was discussed and a front-line identified in the
21 case of any attack. On the 15th of April, the
22 Territorial Defence unit in Ahmici observed Croats
23 gathering in the village and at 8.00 p.m. convened a
24 meeting. They reviewed their lines of defence and
25 ammunition, including rocket-propelled grenades, was
1 distributed to certain members of the unit.
2 As I said earlier, the order from Tihomir
3 Blaskic concerning this region directed the military
4 police to secure the main supply route and, in case of
5 attack, notify him, and only then should fire be
6 returned against the attackers.
7 There was significant and organised
8 resistance in Ahmici on the 16th of April. Exactly how
9 that fight began is a question that I cannot tell you
10 we will answer specifically in our case. The fighting
11 between military units in Ahmici went all day on the
12 16th, and casualties were sustained among the military
13 police that were present.
14 Nonetheless, what is clear and what the
15 evidence in our case will make clear is that Tihomir
16 Blaskic's orders were not followed in Ahmici.
17 Civilians in Ahmici were intentionally targeted and
18 killed. All Muslim homes in Ahmici were burned. These
19 actions were not pursuant to any order from Tihomir
20 Blaskic. They were contrary to his express written
21 orders. The sacking of Ahmici occurred without his
22 knowledge and in the absence of his receipt of any
23 information suggesting that a massacre was to occur or
24 would occur in Ahmici.
25 The massacre was over within a matter of
1 hours, by midday, if not late morning, on the 16th.
2 The fighting between military units apparently
3 continued until nightfall when the TO unit evacuated to
4 Vrhovine above the village.
5 We will present direct evidence in our case
6 concerning what information Tihomir Blaskic received
7 concerning the combat activities that occurred on the
8 16th of April, 1993. On the morning of the 16th, he
9 awoke to a general conflict in the Vitez municipality
10 between HVO and BH army militia units. Shells were
11 falling in Vitez, and the Hotel Vitez was under sniper
12 fire from Stari Vitez.
13 He moved the headquarters operations room
14 into the basement of the hotel for security, but from
15 the basement, no direct observations could be made
16 about what was occurring in the area. The HVO had no
17 armoured vehicles for secure transportation, and he,
18 necessarily, spent the day in the basement of the Hotel
19 Vitez. He asked for regular reports so he could inform
20 himself what was occurring in the field.
21 What reports did he receive? We will
22 introduce those reports into evidence. At 7.00 in the
23 morning, the Vitez brigade reported that most of the
24 headquarters staff could not make it to the brigade
25 headquarters and that the situation at headquarters was
1 chaotic. That was a written report. At 9.00 in the
2 morning, the Vitez brigade further reported that there
3 were mortar attacks against Vitez, that there was
4 infantry fighting in Stari Vitez and from Kruscica, and
5 that Croats in Poculica were calling, that they were
6 under attack and asking what to do.
7 The HVO in Busovaca reported that at 6.30
8 a.m. on the 16th, the BH army launched attacks from
9 Gornji Rovna, Pezici, and Bare, and in defending these
10 attacks, the HVO, on the 16th, had sustained three
11 dead, nine wounded and two missing.
12 It was through these and similar reports that
13 Tihomir Blaskic gained what information he could
14 concerning the day's events. The true events that day
15 in Ahmici were never reported to him by the military
16 policemen present in the village. The unlawful burning
17 of houses in other locations of the Vitez municipality
18 were, likewise, not reported to him.
19 What was his reaction to this general
20 conflagration on the 16th? First, he tried to stop the
21 fighting. At 10.00, he directed that BRITBAT be
22 contacted to assist in trying to arrange a cease-fire.
23 The phone in the hotel did not work, so he sent a
24 messenger. A meeting was arranged with warrior
25 transport from the U.N., and he sent two members of his
1 headquarters staff to the meeting. Although no
2 representative from the 3rd Corps came, the HVO agreed
3 to a cease-fire. And at 1600 hours on the 16th,
4 Tihomir Blaskic ordered an immediate and unconditional
5 cease-fire to HVO units.
6 Also on the morning of the 16th, he tried to
7 obtain a cease-fire through another channel. He tried
8 to contact Alija Izetbegovic through an intermediary, a
9 religious authority, in order to stop the fighting. He
10 wanted to stop it because he knew a general conflict
11 between the HVO and the BH army would be a disaster for
12 the HVO and Croats in Central Bosnia. But the
13 cease-fire did not hold, and the BH army immediately
14 went on the attack.
15 He continued to seek a cease-fire on the 17th
16 of April and on the 18th of April, when another
17 cease-fire agreement was reached. He also tried to
18 better secure the defence of the Vitez-Busovaca
19 enclave, and his orders reflect that desire. On the
20 evening of the 16th, he ordered the Zenica brigade to
21 try and stop the advance of BH army forces from Zenica
22 towards Vitez. He ordered a unit of the military
23 police in Travnik to relocate to Vitez to provide
24 reinforcements. At 4.00 in the morning on the 17th of
25 April, he ordered the Busovaca and Vitez brigades to
1 defend against expected continuing BH army attacks.
2 In this order, less than 24 hours after the
3 general conflict on the morning of the 16th began, he
4 specifically instructed the commanders of the Busovaca
5 and Vitez brigades as follows. Next slide, please, and
6 I quote from that order: "Soldiers are to be
7 specifically cautioned about how to treat civilians,
8 the elderly, women and children, who are not to be
9 killed because that is a crime." In his original order
10 he wrote "crime" in all caps for emphasis. We will
11 introduce that order into evidence.
12 As the 16th wore on, the BH army broadened
13 its attacks against HVO positions. At noon on the
14 16th, BH army units were ordered to attack the HVO in
15 the Jelinak-Loncari area for the purpose of advancing
16 to the main supply route just west of Busovaca and
17 cutting that main supply route. Those units did launch
18 that attack, and on the 17th, the HVO position
19 continued to deteriorate. The attack, as I described,
20 on Kuber and Jelinak occurred. An HVO unit was also
21 cut off and surrounded in Kruscica, and so forth.
22 On the night of the 17th to the 18th of
23 April, Tihomir Blaskic ordered the Kiseljak brigade to
24 try and take action to block BH army forces in
25 villages, specifically Visnjica and other villages from
1 which attacks were possible, and he ordered the
2 Kiseljak brigade to try and capture Gomionica and
3 Svinjarevo, where large numbers of BH troops were
5 Gomionica, you may recall, was the
6 headquarters of the Territorial Defence in the Kiseljak
7 municipality, and the evidence will show it was well
8 defended by 200 or more BH army soldiers. It also had
9 strategic significance, which I'd like to indicate to
11 Gomionica, which is located roughly at this
12 green flag, is on the main supply route that runs
13 through the Kiseljak Valley. From the Territorial
14 Defence headquarters in Gomionica to territory
15 controlled by the BH army based in Fojnica was a
16 relatively short distance to that territory. Heading
17 in the other direction, the Territorial Defence units
18 in Gomionica controlled territory contiguous to that
19 controlled by the BH army based in Visoko. So this
20 point, the Gomionica-Svinjarevo point in the Kiseljak
21 enclave, is the narrowest and was the narrowest point
22 of the enclave and was a logical point at which the BH
23 army might try and cut the enclave, as, indeed, had
25 On the 18th of April, there was a military
1 conflict in Gomionica, and it went on for a long period
2 of time. In lower Gomionica, the fight went on for
3 days, and after the Territorial Defence and BH army
4 units retreated up the hill to upper Gomionica, they
5 were there for weeks and weeks. And, in fact, the
6 fighting went on for a period of weeks.
7 Tihomir Blaskic's orders to the Kiseljak
8 brigade to take action against that Territorial Defence
9 stronghold are military, strictly military, orders.
10 Indeed, there are no specific allegations of attacks on
11 civilians in Gomionica. Tihomir Blaskic received no
12 reports of improper conduct or war activities in that
13 area, and, indeed, he could not visit that area during
14 this period of time, because he was cut-off in the
15 Vitez-Busovaca enclave.
16 During the day on the 18th of April, Mate
17 Boban and President Izetbegovic met in Zagreb. They
18 agreed to another cease-fire. That cease-fire was
19 ordered by General Petkovic and ordered by Tihomir
20 Blaskic on the afternoon of the 18th, but that
21 cease-fire also did not hold.
22 By the end of the day, the operative zone
23 headquarters received reports that the HVO brigade in
24 Zenica was still under attack, and the Kiseljak HVO
25 reported that fighting was ongoing in Rotilj, Visnjica,
1 Doci, Hercezi, and Brestovsko. They reported heavy
2 fighting in Gomionica. Nor did a cease-fire hold on
3 the following day, the 19th. On the 20th, there was a
4 peace conference in Zenica, at which Tihomir Blaskic
5 attended, and another cease-fire was agreed upon which
6 he ordered be implemented.
7 Much of the case we have listened to over the
8 past year relates to the massacre in Ahmici on the 16th
9 of April. In the Defence case, we will introduce
10 evidence concerning when Tihomir Blaskic learned there
11 had been a massacre in Ahmici and what his response
12 was. During the period from the 16th to the 20th of
13 April, there were no reports to him of a massacre in
15 The British battalion was located a few
16 kilometres down the road from the Hotel Vitez. They
17 had regular warrior patrols during the conflict in
18 Ahmici. When did they discover the proportions of the
19 massacre in Ahmici? Not until the 22nd of April, six
20 days after the event.
21 Shortly after the discovery, Colonel Stewart
22 of the British battalion visited Tihomir Blaskic and
23 impressed upon him the gravity of the crimes in
24 Ahmici. Colonel Stewart at this meeting found that
25 Blaskic was, and I quote, "absolutely horrified at what
1 took place in Ahmici." In a follow-up letter, Colonel
2 Stewart requested Tihomir Blaskic's help in
3 investigating the sacking of Ahmici.
4 Tihomir Blaskic was surprised by what he had
5 been told. He had received no reports within the HVO
6 of any killing of civilians in Ahmici. What did he
7 do? Within 48 hours of the 22nd, he issued another set
8 of direct orders to all units commanding that they
9 protect civilians and directing the removal of
10 uncontrolled and criminal elements from HVO ranks and
11 the use of force to prevent them from committing, what
12 he called in his own order, "acts of terrorism."
13 I will show you the text of this order later in my
15 Within days, he held a press conference. At
16 this press conference, he publicly denounced the
17 massacre. He stated he was horrified at what had
18 occurred at Ahmici and that he would take steps to
19 investigate the atrocities. He further said at this
20 press conference, "Ahmici had been done by an organised
21 group of people under a plan controlled by someone,"
22 and he said publicly that the culprits must be found
23 and brought to justice.
24 He also replied to Colonel Stewart's letter,
25 stating that he was ready to send an investigative
1 commission into Ahmici immediately and requesting U.N.
2 assistance to create the proper conditions for a
3 commission to function. Continuing sniper fire from
4 the high ground above Ahmici, as well as the general
5 ongoing conflict, made an investigation within the
6 Vitez enclave very difficult.
7 No joint commission was ever formed, and
8 although various authorities had gathered extensive
9 information about the massacre through interviewing
10 hundreds of survivors, that information was not shared
11 with Tihomir Blaskic, as the authorities that had this
12 information decided not to share any of it with the HVO
13 concerning the massacre.
14 Tihomir Blaskic, nonetheless, proceeded to
15 order an HVO investigation into Ahmici. That order was
16 given on the 10th of May, 1993. If I could have the
17 next slide, please? That order contained the
18 directives: "Gather all the information and submit a
19 report on the events that actually took place in the
20 village of Ahmici, in particular on the number of
21 casualties, the manner in which they occurred, and the
22 perpetrators." Paragraph 2: "I designate the
23 assistant for SIS, Security and Information Service, of
24 the operative zone Central Bosnia as the person
25 responsible for this task. The deadline is 25 May,
2 Why did he direct this order to the Security
3 and Information Service, and I will refer back to the
4 large chart on HVO organisation to answer my own
6 Criminal investigations of military personnel
7 are normally carried out by the military police; that
8 is one of their principal functions. But in this
9 instance, the military police was the unit that had
10 been responsible for the area in which the crimes in
11 Ahmici had occurred at the time the crimes occurred.
12 So Tihomir Blaskic saw that it was not
13 possible for him to direct, cause an investigation of
14 the military police, into conduct by their own unit.
15 Could he use the Vitez brigade? Ordinary military
16 personnel are not competent to conduct investigative,
17 criminal investigative activity. Particularised
18 expertise is required. So he directed that SIS
19 undertake an investigation and report to him within 15
21 He received that report, but Tihomir Blaskic
22 was not satisfied with it. The report did not
23 adequately explain how Ahmici occurred or who was
24 responsible. So in August of 1993, he ordered a second
25 more thorough and complete report be prepared. The
1 second report was apparently referred to the HVO
2 command in Mostar, HVO command or the head office for
3 SIS. HVO Mostar subsequently sent its own
4 investigators into Central Bosnia to conduct further
5 investigation. These were individuals not under the
6 command of Tihomir Blaskic.
7 He is charged, among other things, with
8 failure to punish the perpetrators of the Ahmici
9 massacre. The evidence will show that he had no
10 authority whatsoever to punish anyone in the HVO for
11 any criminal act. His authority to sanction HVO
12 soldiers was limited to matters pertaining to military
13 discipline, such as desertion or a lost weapon.
14 With respect to criminal acts, his authority
15 was limited to the ability to refer a matter to the
16 military police for investigation, who, in turn, would
17 conduct an investigation and make a report to the
18 military prosecutor. The decision to bring a charge
19 rested solely in the hands of the military prosecutor
20 and, of course, any decision as to guilt or innocence
21 or sentence lay in the hands of a military court which,
22 in fact, existed.
23 Tihomir Blaskic had no authority to direct a
24 military court or prosecutor to take any action. Those
25 elements were responsible only and directly to the
1 Department of Defence in Mostar, not to him.
2 Mr. President, I estimate I have perhaps
3 another hour of remarks. I wanted to tell you so that
4 the balance of the day can be planned as you wish.
5 JUDGE JORDA: It is now 6.00. We are going
6 to suspend the hearing now, and we will resume
7 tomorrow, which is a full day, according to the usual
8 schedule, from 10.00 to 1.00 and from 2.30 to 5.30.
9 The court stands adjourned.
10 --- Whereupon proceedings adjourned at
11 6.00 p.m., to be reconvened on Tuesday,
12 the 8th day of September, 1998, at
13 10.00 a.m.