1 Wednesday, 10th March, 1999
2 (Open session)
3 --- Upon commencing at 1.51 p.m.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated.
5 Mr. Registrar, could you make sure that the witness is
6 brought in, please?
7 (The accused entered court)
8 JUDGE JORDA: Hello to the interpreters.
9 Hello to the court reporters as well. Hello to Defence
10 counsel. Hello to the Prosecution bench. Hello to the
11 accused, who is also the witness today and who will go
12 on testifying.
13 Yesterday, with Mr. Olivier Fourmy, we tried
14 to come up with a new programme which will take into
15 account a number of obligations that we have. We would
16 like to try coming to the end of this trial around the
17 end of June. Maybe we could end on June 23rd, which, I
18 remind you, was the date of the beginning of this
19 trial. We must go on with our work, and at a later
20 stage, we will give you the dates which we came up with
22 Mr. Nobilo, have you the floor.
23 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
24 Yesterday, we had completed the chronology for the 18th
25 of April, 1993. We spoke about two documents, the
1 order of Brigadier Petkovic and Blaskic for a
2 cease-fire, and the General's order, D318, whereby he
3 copies that same order instructing all units to cease
4 fire and to undertake investigations about crimes
6 I should now like to proceed to the next
7 document, D307, after which we will need D309, then
8 D314, and D308.
9 WITNESS: TIHOMIR BLASKIC (Resumed)
10 Examined by Mr. Nobilo:
11 Q. I'm looking at document 307, which is the
12 report of the Vitez Brigade at 6.00 addressed to you
13 or, rather, the command of the Operative Zone.
14 We won't read the whole report, it has been
15 admitted into evidence a long time ago, just the
16 central paragraph: "During the night, the Muslim
17 population was evacuated from the village of Donja
18 Veceriska in the direction of Bila/Han Bila, and they
19 were evacuated through the mediation of UNPROFOR."
20 Have you received this report? Did you
21 receive it on the 18th of April, 1993?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. The information contained in this report,
24 does it coincide with the oral information that you
25 received by telephone during the day from various
1 sources, from the Military Intelligence Service to the
2 civilian authorities?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Very well. Let us go on to the next
5 document, D309. Please prepare the next documents, 314
6 and 308. Please prepare documents D314 and D308.
7 This document is a report from the HVO Zenica
8 Brigade, and it says: "This morning around 5.30, the
9 headquarters was attacked from three directions. We
10 are surrounded."
11 Tell the Court, what is the importance of
12 this report? What can you learn from it, and can you
13 issue orders on the basis of such a report?
14 A. This is a typical report which does not allow
15 the commander to command efficiently. Because of these
16 and other similar reports, I reacted and requested that
17 I be given complete and timely reports.
18 In this case, I do not know what the real
19 situation is of the command of the Zenica Brigade in
20 relation to the attacker. Is it capable of defending
21 itself or not? I also don't know which three
22 directions are being referred to. I don't know what
23 strength of forces carried out the attack. The only
24 thing I see is that the command is surrounded, and this
25 is inadequate information.
1 Q. Was this an exception or were there many such
2 incomplete reports?
3 A. This was typical of the time. There were
4 many such reports that were highly superficial and that
5 did not have the necessary content for control and
7 Q. On the basis of this report, as a military
8 expert, can you issue any kind of order?
9 A. On the basis of the report itself, it is very
10 difficult to issue an order because, I repeat, I don't
11 know the strength of the forces that attacked. Also it
12 is not clear who is the attacker. I could assume that
13 it was the BH army, but also I don't know what the real
14 situation is of the command and of the forces securing
15 the command post.
16 Q. Next document, please, D314. In this case,
17 the Busovaca Brigade, on the 18th of April, 1993, that
18 is, the second day of the war, is informing you that
19 they have abolished all leaves, that they have raised
20 the level of combat readiness of the brigade, and so
21 on. What does this report say? Should these measures
22 be taken far earlier or is it a routine matter for the
23 combat readiness of the brigade to be raised on the
24 second day of the war?
25 A. If the command of the brigade had expected
1 intensive combat operations, they would have probably
2 raised the level of combat readiness earlier on, but
3 this report also says that the whole day elapsed before
4 orders of the 17th of April, issued by me, were
5 implemented, and this was the closest HVO unit to us,
6 that is, the brigade in Busovaca.
7 Q. Next document, please, D308, and prepare D305
8 and D306, please.
9 Document 308 is a report of the Vitez
10 Brigade, dated 18 April. Allow me to read a couple of
11 paragraphs before putting my question. I'm reading the
12 second paragraph:
13 "We have received information from our
14 citizens, who have managed to flee before their
15 frenzied neighbours, that Muhamed Sivro arrested Marica
16 Kristo, Anto Kristo, a taxi driver, his wife, and his
17 sister. All the prisoners are inhabitants of Poculica
18 who were fleeing towards Krizancevo Selo after fierce
19 attacks by Muslim forces.
20 "As we have found out, the reason for this
21 arrest was the alleged disappearance of Muhamed Sivro's
22 son. His son is a soldier in the Muslim forces, and
23 our check has confirmed that he is not among those
24 arrested," et cetera, et cetera.
25 Tell us, this is an example of individual
1 acts of violence towards Muslims by Croats. Were there
2 any such individual motives --
3 MR. KEHOE: With all due respect, I think
4 that if we're going to ask questions about the
5 particular document, that counsel ask the question as
6 opposed to putting the proposition to the witness.
7 Thank you.
8 MR. NOBILO: I haven't posed my question
9 yet. I was just --
10 JUDGE JORDA: But you know that Mr. Kehoe has
11 already demonstrated that he follows you very closely,
12 and now he's demonstrating that he's even ahead of
13 you. Please take into account what Mr. Kehoe has just
14 said. Don't put the answer to your question to the
15 witness. Ask your question and wait for the answer.
16 Mr. Blaskic is your client, you must have discussed
17 this at length, but please put precise questions to the
19 Thank you, Mr. Nobilo.
20 MR. NOBILO: I was drawing attention to the
21 contents of this document from which it follows that
22 this is an act of individual violence by Muslims
23 against Croats.
24 Q. My question is as follows to the witness:
25 Were there cases of individual acts of violence by
1 Croats towards Muslims prompted by such personal
3 A. Yes, over a long period of time.
4 Q. What was the most frequent act of violence,
5 and what was its purpose?
6 A. There were private arrests and private
7 exchanges. Then a very frequent form of persecution
8 was expulsion from apartments carried out by exiled
9 Croats from Zenica who would come to Vitez, and they
10 would evict Bosniak Muslims. Also expelled Muslims
11 from Vitez, when they arrived in Zenica, they would act
12 similarly in relation to Croats in Zenica. This was a
13 kind of chain reaction.
14 There were even instances that, due to the
15 malfunctioning of certain institutions, all these acts
16 of private exchanges, private arrests, eviction from
17 homes would be carried out at a profit. Again this was
18 done by certain criminal groups.
19 Q. Thank you. Next document, please, D305. It
20 is a report from the Kiseljak Brigade.
21 Yesterday, we were talking about two kinds of
22 orders, preparatory and executive, that you issued to
23 Kiseljak and the region around the villages of
24 Svinjarevo and Gomionica. Document D305 is the return
25 information which you received from Kiseljak. Could
1 you please comment on it, this return information, how
2 it relates to your orders, and what facts can you learn
3 from it?
4 A. First of all, the unit did not act as I had
5 ordered but undertook a frontal attack towards
6 Gomionica, an all-out attack, and at the very beginning
7 of the village, they were halted by the Mlava River, as
8 is stated in the report.
9 Q. Could you show us on your sketch, what was it
10 you had ordered? Would you remind us? Also point out
11 the route taken by the Kiseljak Brigade. We will put
12 the sketch on the ELMO now.
13 A. I am showing now the main road Busovaca to
14 Kiseljak, and I had ordered that from the positions of
15 Sikulje and Hadrovci, HVO forces should attack forces
16 of the BH army and gain control of this elevation. The
17 direction of attack was Sikulje to the west of the
18 slope and Hadrovci to the west of this slope.
19 Q. You mean hill? You mean a hill? It has been
20 translated that both attacks are going westward. Would
21 you repeat that?
22 A. From Sikulje, the arrow clearly points to the
23 west and from Hadrovci towards the east, although this
24 is a hill here, this is not flat, so that such action
25 is possible.
1 Q. From this report, what do you see that the
2 Ban Josip Jelacic Brigade actually did?
3 A. The forces came along the main road from
4 Kiseljak, and as far as I can see from this report,
5 they headed towards Gomionica and they were halted --
6 and they were halted at the River Mlava.
7 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: General, is Sikulje also
8 a hill?
9 A. Yes, Your Honour. Sikulje is also a hill,
10 but there is another hill over here which doesn't have
11 a name in the village of Hadrovci, and HVO forces were
12 positioned on these two hills, whereas on the other
13 hill were the forces of the BH army.
14 MR. NOBILO:
15 Q. Show us the Mlava River.
16 A. The Mlava River would be here (indicating).
17 Q. Parallel with the road? On the upper side of
18 the road?
19 A. The Mlava River changes direction here
20 (indicating), so it is both on the upper side of the
21 road and earlier on it flows on the other side of the
22 road. We can show it to you on the relief.
23 Q. In any event, is it between the road and
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Is the Mlava River an orientation point on
2 the basis of which you concluded that the HVO forces
3 were going directly towards the village and not as you
4 had ordered?
5 A. Yes, the HVO forces were halted because the
6 river itself is a barrier. It was a barrier for the
7 HVO forces.
8 Q. In military terms, was it wise to directly
9 attack the village across the river?
10 A. In any event, the river as such is an
11 obstacle which was protected by the BH army checkpoint
12 in Gomionica and the forces of the BH army deployed in
13 the immediate vicinity of the river, so that it was not
14 professionally wise to stage a frontal attack against
15 that village.
16 Q. You said that the BH army forces had halted
17 the HVO forces near the Mlava River at Gomionica. The
18 report also says that -- please let's have the report
19 on the ELMO again.
20 The report also says that the villages of
21 Jehovac, Gromiljak, as far as Mlava and Palez, have
22 been disarmed. Was that your order in relation to
24 A. As far as I can recollect, this was not
25 stated in the order. I know that I did not order the
1 disarming of the villages.
2 Q. Next document, please. It is also a report
3 from the Kiseljak Brigade, D306, but at 16.45. On the
4 same date, the 18th of April, but at 16.45. It is
5 short. I will read it and ask you to comment on it.
6 Mijo Bozic, the commander of the Kiseljak Brigade, on
7 that same day sends you a new report saying:
8 "The conflict has spread to the villages of
9 Rotilj, Visnjica, Doci, Hercezi and Brestovsko. We
10 have lost Zavrtaljka, we did not manage to handle
11 Gomionica, but we did take around 1 km on both sides
12 around Gomionica. Heavy fighting is in progress. We
13 have had three killed and four wounded, the number of
14 missing is unknown," et cetera.
15 Tell us first, what was the most important
16 thing in Kiseljak and what happened on that day and did
17 you mention that in your order?
18 A. In my order, I had stated that the main task
19 of the HVO forces in Kiseljak was to secure Zavrtaljka,
20 an object that was of the greatest importance in that
21 area and which was of equal significance as Mount Kuber
22 in the Lasva Valley.
23 Q. What happened? What do we see from this
25 A. The commander in this report clearly states
1 that Zavrtaljka has been lost, which is an object of
2 operative significance, that they had not managed to
3 capture Gomionica, which is understandable, because
4 from Zavrtaljka the BH army was able to give its forces
6 MR. NOBILO: Is my colleague pointing to
7 Zavrtaljka correctly, Mount Zavrtaljka? Very well.
8 A. Yes. So it is the dominant feature, the
9 dominant hill, for three local communities of Kiseljak
10 municipality, the local communities of Bilalovac,
11 Brestovsko, and a part of the local community of
13 Q. How did you take this report? Did the HVO
14 enter the village of Gromiljak or not -- Gomionica.
15 I'm sorry. The village of Gomionica.
16 A. I can show this on the relief and on the map,
17 and it is shown quite clearly that the HVO did not
18 enter the village. It was stopped in front of the
19 Mlava River as it says here in the report.
20 Q. It says here that the conflict has spread to
21 the villages of Rotilj, Visnjica, Doci, Hercezi, and
22 Brestovsko. Do you know who attacked who in these
23 villages? Can you tell by this report?
24 A. A conflict is referred to here, and I
25 understood that this was a conflict between the army of
1 Bosnia and Herzegovina and the HVO because the
2 commander says "the conflict has spread," and I don't
3 know who attacked who, nor can we conclude this on the
4 basis of this report.
5 MR. NOBILO: Thank you. The next documents,
6 please, D310 and D311 and D312.
7 The next document is D310. It is the report
8 of the Vitez Brigade to the Operative Zone of Central
9 Bosnia on the 18th of April at 1.00 --
10 MR. KEHOE: Excuse me. I think we have the
11 wrong document on the ELMO. We have a document from
12 the Jure Francetic Brigade on the ELMO which is not
14 MR. NOBILO: Just a minute, please.
15 JUDGE JORDA: Which is the document which you
16 are interested in, Mr. Nobilo?
17 MR. NOBILO: The mistake is mine. Three
18 twelve. We need document 312, the report of the Vitez
19 Brigade, and then we shall need 311.
20 JUDGE JORDA: It's the document emitted on
21 April 18th at 16.00 hours, right?
22 MR. NOBILO: Sixteen hundred hours.
23 Q. So this is the report of the Vitez Brigade,
24 18th of April, D312. Just have a look at it, please.
25 We're not going to read it out. And then could you
1 show this combat situation on the relief? How do you
2 read this report so that the Trial Chamber can see,
3 when you received this report, what does it tell you or
4 what did it tell you at the time when you received it?
5 Perhaps we can go point by point. You can read it, you
6 can get up and show it to us -- not the entire
7 document. First, point 1, then point 2, et cetera.
8 A. On the map?
9 Q. No, on the relief. Just a minute, please.
10 Let us have our colleague, the Prosecutor, come up too.
11 Now I would like to put a question to you.
12 If you look at point 1 of this report, what does it
13 tell you and what is the actual situation on the
14 ground? How do you understand this report?
15 A. Point 1 of this report says that the HVO
16 forces of Vitez are firmly holding their positions at
17 Kuber (indicating), that is position 708 and position
18 808 -- we can show them later on the map too -- and
19 they are still at those positions. There is no major
20 fighting activity but there has been increased
21 regrouping of enemy forces, and the brigade is asking
22 for support from the HVO of Busovaca and who they want
23 to link up to.
24 Q. Tell me, who is holding the larger part of
25 this area, the Vitez Brigade or the Busovaca Brigade?
1 A. At the very outset, it was the Busovaca
2 Brigade that held a larger part of the Kuber Mountain.
3 Q. In point 2, they mention --
4 JUDGE JORDA: Just a minute, Mr. Nobilo. I
5 have a slight problem remembering what was said
6 yesterday. Yesterday I heard General Blaskic say that
7 Kuber had fallen, and I don't understand anymore.
8 A. That's right, Mr. President. That's right.
9 JUDGE JORDA: Judge Rodrigues asked the same
10 question, actually, and I had remembered -- you know, I
11 remembered that Kuber had fallen on April the 18th. So
12 what happened?
13 MR. KEHOE: Sixteenth.
14 A. That's right, Mr. President, that's right.
15 Kuber did not fall on the 18th. The summit fell on the
16 16th of April and also another part, but we are
17 commenting now on the report which is D312 which is
18 dated the 18th of April and --
19 JUDGE JORDA: Please be concise. I am
20 talking both to Defence counsel and to the accused.
21 You know, it's a very complex issue, and if you try to
22 say everything, we will have difficulty following you.
23 My colleagues had also understood that Kuber had fallen
24 on April the 18th, so I see that only part of Kuber had
25 fallen, not the top of the mountain nor the bottom of
1 the mountain.
2 A. That's right, Mr. President. It is the very
3 top of Kuber that fell on the 4th of February, 1993,
4 but I was just quoting the report, Mr. President.
5 MR. NOBILO:
6 Q. This report is dated April 18th; is that
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Point 2. Show us the combat situation
10 related to point 2?
11 A. The region of Gornji Santici, it would be
12 this position here (indicating).
13 Q. Please read the text.
14 A. "In the Gornji Santici-Mahala hamlet region,
15 there is heavy fighting against the far more numerous
16 Muslim forces, who have intensified their attacks from
17 the region of Sljivcica and Breza.
18 "The villages of Santici and Donja Dubravica
19 are under constant fire by Muslim forces from the
20 villages of Sivrino Selo and Sljivcica, therefore
21 multiple rocket launcher support is needed in order to
22 try to neutralise the most pronounced firing positions
23 in the village of Sivrino Selo and thus put a stop to
24 the activities by Muslim forces."
25 Q. Could you please show where the Croat forces
1 were, where Santici is, and where Sivrino Selo and
2 Sljivcica where the Muslims were firing from?
3 A. Santici, Gornji Santici, is just here, by the
4 road (indicating), by the main road between Vitez and
5 Busovaca. Sljivcica, I'm showing it now, that is this
6 top -- this, and then Sivrino Selo is here
8 Q. Just below Sljivcica; right?
9 A. Yes. And then the front line was in Sivrino
10 Selo, in the wider region of Dzidica Kuce, 50 to 100
11 metres to the north of the main road of Vitez-Busovaca,
12 that is to say, the position of the unit of the army of
13 Bosnia and Herzegovina was 50 or 100 metres away from
14 that point.
15 Q. And then point 3 speaks of the defence lines,
16 the Croatian defence lines, Krizancevo Selo, Krcevine,
17 and Jardol, that it remained unchanged. Can you show
18 this to us, Krizancevo Selo, Krcevine, and Jardol?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Krizancevo Selo, Krcevine and Jardol, where
21 would that line be?
22 A. I am showing Vitez first and then Krizancevo
23 Selo is over here where I'm pointing out now
24 (indicating) and then Krcevine and the village of
25 Jardol (indicating).
1 Q. Tell me, how far away is this from the main
3 A. It is just by the main road. For example,
4 Krcevine is about 150 metres away. It's a field, it's
5 flat land, and there is a village in this field, but it
6 also says here that the lines remained unchanged, and
7 we did have a situation where the line had been changed
8 at Krcevine and also partly at Jardol.
9 Q. Point 4 is snipers from Grbavica, and we're
10 going to leave that for the time being, but point 5,
11 the region of Kruscica is still under attack from the
12 Muslim forces from Vranjska and Gornja Rovna. Can you
13 show us that?
14 A. Yes. I said that the army of
15 Bosnia-Herzegovina had taken trig. Point 603, it's
16 called Pintra, and in Vranjska, position 502 by
17 Baresina Kuce, and from the positions of the village of
18 Kajmakovici, they could fire by mortars both at Santici
19 and Krcevine, Jardol and the other areas. It also says
20 here that negotiations are under way and that the
21 dissolution is being sought.
22 Q. Yes. We just wanted to see these positions.
23 A. May I just add one more thing? We skipped a
24 point here, point 4, where it says, "In the region of
25 Divjak and Bila," et cetera, that's interesting because
1 the forces from Grbavica had this unhindered
2 communication between Vitez and Nova Bila. The bridge
3 across the Lasva River, they had it under their
4 control, including the area of Divjak, that is to say,
5 including control over the road that goes from Vitez to
6 Travnik. The forces were in Divjak, Grbavica, and this
7 was completely in the hands of the army of
9 Q. Thank you. Let us go back to our places, to
10 our seats, and then we are going to talk about the car
12 Please, could we see document D304? That is
13 the report of the Vitez Brigade on the occasion of the
14 explosion. D304, that is the report that was written
15 on the 18th of April, 1993 at 18.45, and it says here
16 that it was sent from the Vitez Brigade to the command
17 of the Operative Zone of Central Bosnia.
18 "At 17.00 hours and 30 minutes, a terrible
19 explosion occurred whose exact location we still cannot
20 determine, but it happened on the straight line
21 Municipal enterprise 'VITKOM' - the store 'BORAC.'
22 "According to data at our disposal and the
23 intensity of detonation, most probably there was an
24 explosives warehouse in one of the houses in the
25 immediate proximity of the store.
1 "Because in that area at the time fierce
2 battles were being waged, we suppose that the warehouse
3 was hit by a mortar grenade, which activated the
5 "On the basis of the intensity of the
6 explosion, one can conclude that it was a matter of a
7 large quantity of explosives.
8 "We do not have any information about any
9 casualties, but we can already affirm that huge
10 property damage was incurred."
11 General, did you receive this report of the
12 Vitez Brigade, which is D304?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Around 17.30, did you register the explosion
15 at the headquarters of the Operative Zone? Remind the
16 Court what your operative log says in relation to this
17 explosion. This was 17.20 in your log.
18 A. Yes. It says, "The hotel was hit. A mortar
19 shell, 120-millimetres. Probably Preocica."
20 Q. So you thought that the hotel had been hit,
21 and the Vitez Brigade, that it was an explosives
22 warehouse. Tell the Court, what did you realise
23 later? What kind of information did you receive
24 later? What had actually happened?
25 A. I asked the security assistant for detailed
1 information, and I found out that this was a cistern in
2 which there was a certain amount of explosives, and
3 these explosives caused a detonation in Old Vitez.
4 Q. When you say "cistern," you're actually
5 talking about a truck for transporting liquid fuel; is
6 that correct?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. Please proceed.
9 A. The security assistant informed me that the
10 complete findings of his investigation were submitted
11 to his superiors in Mostar. In the information I
12 received, it said that behind this were the members of
13 the special purposes unit of Vitezovi.
14 Q. You said "PPN," Vitezovi. What is "PPN" an
15 abbreviation for?
16 A. It is a special purposes unit directly
17 attached to the defence department in Mostar. It is
18 the Vitezovi.
19 Q. Why didn't the security service submit a
20 report to you so that you would do something in
21 connection with the Vitezovi? Why did they send this
22 report to Mostar? What was the reason for that?
23 A. I never took --
24 Q. What did you not take?
25 A. I was not competent to take reports from
1 Vitezovi or to take disciplinary action with them. I
2 did ask the commander of Vitezovi, for him to take
3 disciplinary action possibly, but this unit was
4 directly under the defence department in Mostar.
5 Q. Did you have the competence to replace the
6 commander of the Vitezovi, to punish him when he
7 refused to take disciplinary action against his
8 members? Did you ever have such authority?
9 A. No, I never had such authority.
10 JUDGE JORDA: I'd like to go back on
11 something you just mentioned, Mr. Nobilo. I had
12 understood that the military police, from the 16th of
13 April at 11.42 onwards, was dependent from Colonel
14 Blaskic; am I wrong?
15 MR. NOBILO: You're right, Mr. President.
16 This is not the military police. This is a special
17 purposes unit, the Vitezovi.
18 JUDGE JORDA: I've understood that, but the
19 military police was dependent from General Blaskic, and
20 as far as the special units, I had understood that
21 General Petkovic had said to the accused that every
22 force was at his disposal, and this took place on April
24 MR. NOBILO: That is correct too,
25 Mr. President, but they were attached to him, that is
1 to say, that he could use these units in combat but not
2 to replace commanders and to punish them. Attachment
3 does not imply that. It implies only the use of these
4 units. However, since I'm not the one who's
5 testifying, let's ask the General whether he ever
6 received the authority to not only use the units of the
7 military police and the special purposes unit. Did you
8 ever get authority to replace their commanders, to
9 punish them, and to exercise other authority in terms
10 of these commanders?
11 A. No.
12 Q. Did you inform your own superiors about this
14 A. Yes. About this incident, I informed them,
15 and I also told them about the information I received
16 from my own assistant for security, and I informed the
17 main staff in Mostar about this.
18 Q. It's quite clear from what you said, but I
19 have to ask you explicitly: Did you order action
20 related to the car bomb that took place in Vitez?
21 A. No.
22 Q. Did you have any indication, any information,
23 before this action that it would take place?
24 A. No.
25 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, perhaps --
1 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. Maybe this is a good time
2 to take a break, a 15-minute break.
3 --- Recess taken at 2.40 p.m.
4 --- On resuming at 3.02 p.m.
5 JUDGE JORDA: The hearing is resumed.
6 Mr. Nobilo, please proceed.
7 MR. NOBILO: Thank you. Could the witness be
8 shown documents D310, D311, D313, and D315. These are
9 reports from the Vitez Brigade, from the Zenica
10 Brigade, and two reports from the Busovaca Brigade.
11 JUDGE RODRIGUES: The document now appearing
12 on the ELMO, could this document be placed on the ELMO
13 please once again? Thank you. Not this one, the other
14 one, the first one.
15 My question may be a bit ingenuous,
16 Mr. Nobilo, but I read in some documents you handed
17 over to us that on April the 17th, there was an
18 explosion. A truck bomb exploded; a cistern truck
19 exploded. This terrible explosion which is spoken of
20 in the document, does it have anything to do with this
21 particular truck bomb I mentioned a minute ago?
22 MR. NOBILO: The big explosion occurred on
23 the 18th of April, and perhaps it would be best for the
24 witness to answer.
25 A. Your Honours, this was a report that we
1 received from the Vitez Brigade about the explosion.
2 Q. Is that the same big explosion of the truck
3 bomb that you learnt about later?
4 A. Yes.
5 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you very much,
7 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Judge Rodrigues.
8 Mr. Nobilo, you can proceed.
9 MR. NOBILO: Thank you.
10 Q. One additional question, on the 18th of
11 April, was there only one big explosion in Vitez?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. The fact that the Vitez Brigade gives one
14 explanation, the Operative Zone has another explanation
15 for that explosion, and in reality, it occurred in a
16 different manner, that is, with the help of a truck
17 bomb, what can you conclude from these differences?
18 A. That the commander of the Vitez Brigade
19 himself did not have any information in connection with
20 the explosion of the truck bomb.
21 Q. Linked to the report that you received from
22 your security service, did you understand exactly where
23 the truck bomb had gone off?
24 A. No. The report said that it occurred in
25 Stari Vitez, which was under the supervision of the BH
1 army, but the precise location as to the house, near
2 which house, or which part of the town, we didn't know.
3 Q. Did you assume that the truck had been sent
4 across the front line to the enemy side?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Do you have these new reports now, D310,
7 D311, D313, and D315? We won't read them. Just look
8 at them, please, and tell me whether you received such
9 reports on the 18th of April, 1993, and that brings to
10 the end the 18th of April. Documents 310, 311, 313,
11 and 315, four reports.
12 A. Yes, I did receive these reports in the
13 course of the 18th of April, 1993.
14 Q. Thank you.
15 A. Just a moment, please. In addition to
16 D315 -- except for document D315, which was received
17 just after midnight the next day.
18 Q. Thank you. We won't go into any further
19 detail, into those reports. They are self-evident. We
20 can all read them.
21 Let us now focus on the 19th of April, that
22 is, the next day, and the 20th of April, and tell us in
23 summary form what were the significant events of those
25 A. On the 19th of April --
1 JUDGE JORDA: Forgive me, Mr. Nobilo, but
2 before we go on to April the 19th, there's something
3 that I still don't understand, and I'm talking to the
4 accused/witness. Yesterday, you told us that the whole
5 situation was chaotic. You are about to capitulate.
6 Everything is going wrong. Everything is falling to
7 pieces. You say you do not control the forces on the
8 ground. I've noted that you had said that the
9 situation was chaotic.
10 Before we go on to April the 19th, I am
11 looking at these three reports, they say that
12 everything is going well, that the morale was good,
13 that the front lines are holding out, that, from a
14 logistical point, everything is going well. Everything
15 seems to be going well, General; isn't that the case?
16 Don't you agree? What was the situation like? Was it
17 a good situation, a bad situation? Were you in
18 control? Yesterday, everything seemed to be going
19 wrong, and today we are looking at reports written on
20 April the 18th, and they indicate that everything is
21 going okay. So what was the situation like, good or
23 A. Things were all bad, and we were on the brink
24 of collapse, and this can be seen from the situation
25 illustrated on the relief. We were totally surrounded,
1 particularly on the evening of the 17th.
2 MR. NOBILO:
3 Q. How do you interpret that you see in the
4 report a sentence speaking of a good situation?
5 A. There were very few reports that really
6 reflected the situation as it was on the ground. It
7 was typical for the commander to avoid mentioning
8 losing any territory, but he would mention if he
9 regained any territory. So that I was never informed
10 when any territory was lost which would, during the
11 day, be recaptured. A typical example was Krcevine,
12 when the commander informed me that they had managed to
13 close the gap in the line that had been broken through,
14 but I had not been informed when it had been broken
16 JUDGE JORDA: Fine. But when you yourself
17 send a report to General Petkovic, what do you tell him
18 at the time? Do you tell him that the situation is
19 good or do you say that the situation is not so good,
20 and if you say that the situation is bad, on what basis
21 do you make such an assertion?
22 A. On the basis of the reports that arrived in
23 the operations room and also on the basis of the
24 situation on the ground. For example, the commander of
25 the Zenica Brigade did not tell me that the brigade was
1 about to capitulate, and when he signed the surrender,
2 he just informed me by phone that he had signed the
3 surrender. When, in the course of the night, all the
4 positions were to be reviewed and new hotbeds, one
5 would see that there had been major changes on the
7 JUDGE JORDA: All right. Finish your answer,
8 and I think then Judge Rodrigues will have a question
9 for you.
10 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, Judge Jorda.
11 Mr. Blaskic, before we go on to what happened
12 on April the 19th, I would like to get some further
13 information on a particular issue you mentioned. What
14 I am interested in are documents 305 and 306 of the
15 Defence. These documents were submitted to us to show
16 that your orders were not always executed. Generally
17 speaking, I don't think it is necessary to go over
18 these documents again, but it seems to me that your aim
19 was to show by these documents what the situation
20 really was, a situation in which your orders were not
21 executed. Have I properly understood what your aim
23 A. Yes.
24 JUDGE RODRIGUES: But, General, in the case
25 where you, in fact, gave orders, do you know if all the
1 orders you gave were received by the addressees?
2 A. From the reports that I received in the time
3 when they reached me, I could assume that my orders had
4 been received. In this particular case, I was not in a
5 position physically to check whether my order had
6 reached its destination, to go to the spot to check
7 whether the commander had received it, how he
8 understood it in each particular case -- in this
9 particular case, for document 305 and document 306.
10 But judging from the reports, I assumed that he did
11 receive my orders.
12 JUDGE RODRIGUES: So that is what should have
13 happened in principle, but you are not sure that your
14 orders were received by the person they were addressed
16 I think it was yesterday that you gave us an
17 example of an order which only reached its destination
18 ten days after it was transmitted, so are you sure of
19 what you are saying now or are you trying to see what
20 should have happened in principle? Were you assuming
21 that your orders had been received but weren't you, in
22 fact, quite sure of the fact that they had been
24 A. I proceeded from the assumption that if the
25 commander informs me about actions taken on the basis
1 of my order, that meant that he had received my order,
2 but I was not able personally to check, to go to that
3 destination to see how he understood my order and how
4 he intended to act. I was unable to go and visit that
5 commander. But reports usually, or some of the
6 reports, referred to an order received.
7 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, General.
8 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Judge Rodrigues. We
9 sometimes have to ask for a number of precisions,
10 although this is not the line of conduct that we had
11 adopted at the beginning of this trial, but now we feel
12 we have to sometimes ask for further information.
13 All right. Let us now proceed. We are now
14 on April the 19th. Mr. Nobilo, you may proceed.
15 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President. As we
16 said earlier on, the Defence is very pleased when the
17 Judges have questions and interrupt us at what whatever
18 moment because, after all, the most important thing is
19 for the Trial Chamber to understand fully what we are
20 trying to say, and sometimes, if there is a lack of
21 precision, this only helps the proceedings.
22 Q. So, General, can you tell us, recount the
23 most important events of the 19th of April?
24 A. At 6.45 on the 19th of April, 1993, artillery
25 shelling started against the town of Busovaca and the
1 surrounding areas of Milavice, Kula, Prosje, and
3 Q. Do I recollect correctly that yesterday we
4 ended when we were talking about the peace agreement
5 and your order on a cease-fire and your communication
6 with the 3rd Corps? Did any of that bear fruit or not?
7 A. I did address an order for the information of
8 the command of the 3rd Corps, but the peace treaty was
9 not observed; in fact, combat operations continued on
10 the 19th of April on the part of the army of
12 Q. Please continue with your review of events.
13 A. As soon as these operations started, I was
14 informed that these were forces of the 7th Muslim
15 Brigade, parts of the 333rd Brigade of the BH army, the
16 309th Brigade, and parts of the 305th Brigade of the BH
17 army that had, about 7.00, started an artillery and
18 infantry attack on the approaches to the town of
19 Busovaca from the north and north-east. In more
20 specific terms, the positions at Kula, Milavice,
21 Prosje, and Kratine were attacked. I spent most of
22 that day, as in the case of the previous days,
23 assisting and communicating by telephone with the
24 commander of the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade.
25 Q. Would it be correct to say that on the 19th
1 of April, the attack on Busovaca culminated on that
2 day, when we are talking about that particular period?
3 A. Yes, that was the fiercest attack against the
4 town of Busovaca and the areas in which HVO units were
5 stationed and probably that was the occasion when the
6 enemy engaged the greatest forces.
7 Q. However, it was not peaceful in Vitez either.
8 A. Yes, there were artillery operations in Vitez
9 too, but the operations were far more intensive in the
10 town of Busovaca where tanks were being used by the BH
11 army, whereas in Vitez, the operations were limited to
12 Kratine, Dubravica, Krizancevo Selo, Krcevine, and
14 Q. These villages that you have listed, were HVO
15 positions there?
16 A. Yes, HVO positions were there, and all these
17 villages are north of the main road, the
18 Travnik-Vitez-Busovaca main road.
19 Q. Can we go on to the 20th of April, '93, when
20 you received some disturbing information from Travnik?
21 So please tell us what happened in the morning of that
23 A. On that day, that is, the 20th of April,
24 1993, I received information that in Travnik there had
25 been mutual arrests.
1 Q. What do you mean when you say "mutual"? Who
2 arrested whom?
3 A. The arrests were mainly carried out by HVO
4 members on members of the BH army and vice versa;
5 members of the BH army arrested HVO members. The
6 situation was getting out of control, and the commander
7 in Travnik; Filipovic, and the commander of the BH army
8 forces; Alagic, tried to come to an agreement to pacify
9 the situation and to gain control over the situation.
10 Also, in Travnik, as I was informed, it was
11 the 20th, but as far as I can remember, actually, it
12 happened the previous night or the afternoon of the
13 19th, there was an assassination attempt against a
14 member of the Travnik Brigade command, Mr. Gaso, and on
15 this occasion, his wife was killed. What, in fact,
16 happened was that three members of the BH army came to
17 the door of the apartment where Mr. Gaso lived, rang
18 the bell, and when the wife tried to open the door,
19 fire was opened from an automatic rifle, and the wife
20 was killed on the spot.
21 About 4.30 in the morning, I received
22 information from the head of the Military Intelligence
23 Service, VOS, that there was regrouping of forces by
24 the BH army and that artillery fire had been opened and
25 some provocations staged in Krcevine, Krizancevo Selo,
1 Zabrdje, and about 6.00 hours, an infantry attack
2 started. In the course of the day, information reached
3 us about operations in the region of Gacice and the
4 region of Sljivcica. That day, exiles from Zenica
5 started arriving in groups. There were whole families
6 or only military conscripts, some with military weapons
7 and equipment and others only with bags in their hands.
8 Sometime around 6.00, from 6.00 until about
9 16.30, I personally was engaged in providing assistance
10 to the Vitez Brigade in a similar manner as the
11 previous days, that is, the 17th and 18th, in the
12 defence of Krcevine, Krizancevo Selo, and Kratine.
13 About 16.30 hours, I was called by phone -- 16.30, I
14 was called up by the chief of staff of the HVO staff,
15 Brigadier Milivoj Petkovic, from Zenica, and he ordered
16 me to prepare because UNPROFOR would come to pick me up
17 and that I personally had to go to a meeting in Zenica.
18 Q. Will you describe how you left the hotel on
19 your way to Zenica and whether that was the first time
20 you left the hotel from the beginning of combat
22 A. That was the first time I went out of the
23 hotel. From the hotel basement, I used the side door
24 or, rather, the back door, which had been hit on the
25 very first day, and there were two armoured vehicles on
1 the left and right-hand side. They drove right up to
2 the steps --
3 Q. Excuse me. When you use the word
4 "transporters," who did they belong to and what were
5 they like?
6 A. They belonged to the UNPROFOR British
8 Q. Are they armoured, resistant to bullets?
9 A. Yes, they are armoured, and I think their
10 armour is of a very high quality, and they first took
11 up positions on the sides, and the vehicle in the
12 middle, also an armoured vehicle, drove right up to the
13 steps, the back door was opened, and I literally
14 stepped from the door into this central Warrior
15 vehicle. After that, the door closed, and we drove off
16 to Zenica to the meeting.
17 Q. You said that that was the first time that
18 you left the hotel from the beginning of operations at
19 dawn on the 16th of April.
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Was it possible for you to leave your command
22 post in the discotheque of the hotel, tour the front
23 lines, personally command certain combat operations or
24 not? If not, why?
25 A. First of all, that was not a command post.
1 It was more of a disco club than a command post. The
2 only difference being was that we were now there rather
3 than other guests. We were there with two telephone
4 lines rather than regular discotheque fans. So that we
5 had to prepare, as we went along, to be able to work
7 Secondly, it was not possible because, in
8 that event, I would have been left without any
9 possibility of communicating with the brigade
10 commanders and my other associates.
11 Q. What would that mean? If you had gone to the
12 front line and left the two telephones behind, what
13 would that have meant for the system of defence which
14 was, after all, established up to a sense in the
15 Busovaca enclave?
16 A. Between me and my associates at least, there
17 would have been a total interruption of all
18 communication, and I certainly would not have been able
19 to communicate with them from any other position. As
20 for mobile means of communication, such as they were in
21 the former JNA, I didn't have any such mobile equipment
22 at my disposal.
23 Q. Tell me, in a situation when a commander does
24 not have an armoured communication vehicle so that he
25 could actually move all over the front line and
1 communicate with everyone, according to the JNA
2 doctrine, which is the way that you were trained, where
3 is your type of commander supposed to be: at the front
4 line or somewhere else?
5 A. Well, practically all rules of the former JNA
6 envisage where the commander of a certain rank should
7 be. I think that the place where I was went beyond all
8 rules because the front line was about 150 or 200
9 metres away. I tried to use the best communication
10 devices possible, those that I had at the time, and I
11 think that the hotel made it possible for me to
12 communicate the best at that point in time.
13 Q. When you say that your command post, so to
14 speak, the one at the disco club, was beyond the rules,
15 what are you trying to say when you say that?
16 A. Well, in the briefest possible terms, the
17 commander of a battalion is supposed to be a kilometre
18 and a half away or two kilometres behind his front line
19 units; the commander of a brigade should be three to
20 six kilometres away; the commander of a zone, corps, or
21 division should be a lot more behind so that he could
22 receive all information and issue commands. However,
23 the situation was such that it was not possible to
24 establish a command post according to such
25 requirements. We simply had to make do with what we
1 had available at the time.
2 Q. Tell us, would it be in line with military
3 logic for the commander of the Operative Zone to leave
4 his command post and this centre of the entire system,
5 so to speak, and go to the front line and supervise the
6 immediate defence at the front line and to stay for a
7 longer period of time there?
8 A. Well, it would be if he had a communication
9 centre at his disposal.
10 Q. A mobile one?
11 A. Yes, a mobile one, where he would be able to
12 communicate with all participants and if he could take
13 with him associates and everyone else he needed.
14 However, in a chaotic situation, that would have meant
15 the even faster fall of these lines which, as they
16 were, were established with utmost effort and
18 Q. If you were to get away from those two
19 telephones without a mobile communication centre, that
20 is to say, without a mobile communications vehicle,
21 would that have meant a disconnection of all
22 communications with your units, and what would that
23 have meant in terms of your capacity to command?
24 A. In that way, my capacity to command would
25 have totally been broken off or it would have been
1 reduced to one or two participants only.
2 Q. Thank you. You said that on the 20th of
3 April, 1993, you set out for Zenica, and I imagine you
4 arrived at this meeting with the representatives of the
5 United Nations, the representatives of the 3rd Corps,
6 et cetera. Can you mention who was present at that
7 meeting, first and foremost?
8 A. Well, I came to Zenica to the Hotel
9 International where the meeting was held, and the
10 following persons were present there: General
11 Morillon; then the head of the European Monitoring
12 Mission for the Zenica area, Mr. Thebault; then, on
13 behalf of the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, there was
14 Mr. Ejup Ganic; and I think that there was the deputy
15 head of the war presidency, Mr. Alija Izetbegovic; then
16 there was Mr. Sefer Halilovic, the chief of the main
17 staff of the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina; then there
18 was Enver Hadzihasanovic, commander of the 3rd Corps of
19 the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina; Dzemo Merdan,
20 deputy commander of the 3rd Corps of the army of Bosnia
21 and Herzegovina; Mr. Hodzic, president of the regional
22 committee of the SDA.
23 Q. That was the party of the Bosniak Muslims; is
24 that correct?
25 A. Well, yes, mainly Bosniak Muslims. Then
1 Mr. Stjepan Siber, deputy chief of the main staff of
2 the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina; Mr. Vehbija Karic,
3 also deputy chief of the main staff of the army of
4 Bosnia-Herzegovina; and representing the HVO were
5 Mr. Kresimir Zubak, the Deputy Prime Minister of the
6 Croatian Defence Council; then Brigadier Petkovic,
7 chief of the main staff of the Croatian Defence
8 Council; then Mr. Lucic and Mr. Bandic, officers from
9 the main staff or, rather, the defence department, and
10 I was also present at the meeting. And then there was
11 also Mr. Pojavnik who was President of the Croatian
12 Democratic Council from Zenica; and Mr. Dominik Sakic,
13 vice-president of the assembly of the municipality of
14 Zenica and president of the HVO of Zenica.
15 Q. So let us see how the meeting began.
16 A. The meeting was chaired by General Morillon
17 and Mr. Thebault, the head of the European Monitoring
18 Mission. General Morillon informed us about the
19 agreement that was signed on the 18th of April, 1993,
20 and he said that last night, probably referring to the
21 19th of April, 1993, in Medzugorje, they had a similar
22 meeting with the command of the Operative Zone of
23 south-eastern Herzegovina, and the commander of the 4th
24 Corps of the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that
25 today -- rather, on that day, the 20th of April, 1993,
1 this meeting that is being held is aimed at the
2 implementation of the agreement reached on the 18th of
3 April, 1993, which was signed between President Alija
4 Izetbegovic and President Mate Boban.
5 MR. NOBILO: Just a minute, please. We would
6 like to have a document distributed. That is the
7 agreement that the witness has been mentioning.
8 THE REGISTRAR: This is document D546 and
9 D546A for the English version.
10 MR. NOBILO: While this is being
11 distributed -- it's a brief document, so I'll read it.
12 Zagreb --
13 MR. KEHOE: Excuse me, counsel.
14 MR. NOBILO:
15 Q. Zagreb --
16 JUDGE JORDA: What was the original language
17 this document was written in, Mr. Nobilo? Did General
18 Morillon write this in French?
19 MR. NOBILO: This is a document, an agreement
20 reached between Alija Izetbegovic and Mate Boban, and
21 it is not very simple to say which language this is. I
22 am going to say that it's Croatian, somebody else is
23 going to say Bosnian so ...
24 Q. Zagreb, the 18th of April, 1993. Alija
25 Izetbegovic and Mate Boban.
1 "After talks on Croat-Muslim relations,
2 Alija Izetbegovic and Mate Boban concluded the
4 1. All misunderstandings in relations
5 between the Croatian and Muslim peoples in Bosnia and
6 Herzegovina should be resolved by political means.
7 2. There is no reason for the conflict
8 between the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the HVO.
9 3. We order all units to stop fighting
10 immediately, release prisoners and eliminate the causes
11 through agreements at all levels.
12 4. Immediately establish the responsibility
13 and intentions of the units and individuals with a role
14 at the beginning of the conflict.
15 On the right-hand side is the signature of
16 Mate Boban and the left-hand side is the signature of
17 Alija Izetbegovic.
18 General, tell us first, do you know these
19 signatures and can you confirm that the two gentlemen
20 actually signed this document?
21 A. Yes. I know the signatures, both of Mr. Mate
22 Boban and of Mr. Ilija Izetbegovic.
23 Q. Are those these signatures?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Is this the agreement that General Morillon
1 was referring to when he mentioned in his introductory
2 remarks that an agreement had been reached?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Please tell us about the proceedings of this
6 A. Later on, Brigadier Petkovic took the floor,
7 and he asked for the meeting to be continued only when
8 the commander of the Zenica Brigade of the HVO or,
9 rather, the deputy commander, Vinko Baresic, was
10 released, because we had received information that he
11 was detained in prison in the penitentiary in Zenica.
12 We waited some 20-odd minutes until Vinko
13 Baresic arrived, and I used that time to inform
14 Brigadier Petkovic about the difficult situation in
15 Vitez and in Busovaca. I told him that in Vitez, the
16 army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, during the course of the
17 day, had basically reached the main road between Vitez
18 and Busovaca from the direction of Sljibcica and
19 Vrhovine. I even told him that I wasn't sure whether I
20 would be able to return at all, meaning that the road
21 would completely be cut off.
22 As we were commenting on the situation, Vinko
23 Baresic arrived with a criminal report or, rather, a
24 decision on his release from the prison, and it said on
25 it that he was indicted because of his participation in
1 hostile units, enemy units. Brigadier Petkovic took
2 that decision from Vinko Baresic and said, "Well,
3 yesterday, we had discussions in Medzugorje and said
4 that the HVO and the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina are
5 integral parts of the armed forces of
6 Bosnia-Herzegovina, and now members of the HVO are
7 being charged with being members of enemy units." He
8 also said, I quote: "I personally feel to be a member
9 of the armed forces of Bosnia-Herzegovina."
10 Q. That's what Brigadier Petkovic said?
11 A. Yes. At that time, he was a brigadier, and
12 that's what Brigadier Petkovic said, chief of the main
13 staff of the HVO.
14 General Morillon took the floor and asked
15 that we focus on the need to implement the agreement,
16 and again he gave the floor to General Petkovic, who
17 spoke of the conflict, as he said, "This conflict was
18 not carried out by five people, but this is a conflict
19 of general nature. You," meaning the army of
20 Bosnia-Herzegovina, "committed a terrorist act in
21 Zenica when you abducted Commander Totic."
22 MR. KEHOE: Excuse me.
23 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, Mr. Kehoe.
24 MR. KEHOE: If the witness is reading from a
25 report, and he does appear to have a report in front of
1 him, and these are not his notes, again to renew the
2 Prosecutor's request and the Court's request for those
3 typed matters that the witness is reading from.
4 MR. NOBILO: We can ask whether he's reading
5 out of a report or his notes.
6 A. These are my personal notes, and I would
7 really like to say very precisely who said what at the
8 meeting. So that is what I had personally written
9 down. These are my own notes.
10 JUDGE JORDA: Those are the notes you took
11 down while the meeting was taking place; is that right,
12 General Blaskic?
13 A. Mr. President, I'm sorry. I didn't manage to
14 get an interpretation of what you said.
15 JUDGE JORDA: I was asking if what you are
16 reading were, in fact, the notes that you took down
17 during the meeting, while the meeting was taking place;
18 is that the case? Are these notes that you have taken
19 down during your detention in The Hague or are you
20 reading parts of an official report that you would have
21 obtained from a third party, for example, from the
22 archive department of the Ministry of Defence? This is
23 my question. What are you reading from?
24 A. In my war diary, I took notes while I was
25 present at the meeting, and I even wasn't present at
1 the meeting all the time. So these are my very
2 personal notes that I kept in my war diary, and these
3 are just points that I copied from my own war diary,
4 from my own notes.
5 Of course, I can talk about this meeting,
6 Mr. President, and retell all of this, but then I don't
7 think I'm going to be very precise on who said what at
8 this meeting, and I think it's very important for this
9 Honourable Court to know exactly who said what at this
10 meeting. These are not official minutes from that
11 meeting because I do not have official minutes of that
13 JUDGE JORDA: You may proceed, General
15 Mr. Kehoe, do you have anything to add?
16 MR. HAYMAN: If counsel has a further
17 request, I ask that it be made outside of the presence
18 of the witness. I think he's trying to destabilise the
19 witness. If he has a problem with the witness using
20 personal notes, let's have a legal discussion about it
21 outside the presence of the witness. I think this is
22 wrong. This is the third time that they have attempted
23 to do this, and they should do it outside the presence
24 of the witness.
25 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Hayman, you know that these
1 kinds of incidents tend to happen just when we're about
2 to take a break.
3 First, I'll turn to Mr. Kehoe. Is this
4 something that relates to the decision already taken by
5 the Judges? You know that when the Judges have already
6 taken a decision, they don't go back on that decision.
7 MR. KEHOE: It is not, Mr. President, and I
8 have done nothing to destabilise any witness, and I
9 take great issue with that comment.
10 My comment is simply this: We are dealing
11 now with a typed statement. I can't read what General
12 Blaskic is reading right now, but I can tell it's a
13 typed statement. My statement was on the decisions,
14 Mr. President, that you and Your Honours have made
15 before. If it's a typed statement coming from a
16 report, the Court is entitled to the report and the
17 Office of the Prosecutor is entitled to the report, and
18 that's how we have been operating for 20 months. My
19 request is simply on that basis. If we are dealing
20 with a report, the Office of the Prosecutor and the
21 Court would respectfully request a copy, and any other
22 insidious motive behind our request is simply
24 MR. NOBILO: The witness said clearly that
25 this was not a report, and he said it ten minutes ago.
1 JUDGE JORDA: All right. Mr. Kehoe, I'm in a
2 very difficult situation. It's very difficult for me
3 to lean over to try to see what the witness is reading
4 from. You know that we're trying to apply rules, but
5 we have to be flexible in the way we apply these
6 rules. You know what we have decided about these
7 matters, Mr. Kehoe.
8 Meanwhile, I'm going to ask to this witness,
9 as we do to all witnesses and as it is done in all
10 judicial systems, we are asking this witness not to
11 come in the courtroom with something he has already
12 prepared, prepared with the help of the Defence
13 counsel, for example.
14 Secondly, we are now hearing very special
15 testimony. We are hearing the accused in this trial.
16 The accused has some rights that cannot be violated,
17 and whatever the fate of this witness may be, he is
18 going through a very difficult experience and something
19 he is not about to forget. So we have to apply rules
20 with some flexibility.
21 I have looked to my colleagues, and I think
22 they are also of the mind that we should accept what
23 the witness is saying right now.
24 The other thing I would like to say is that
25 the witness is testifying under oath. If he is lying,
1 we have some rules we can rely on in order to take some
2 sanctions against the witness. The General is now
3 telling us what he was doing at the time. Maybe he
4 typed those notes. It is very possible that it may
5 have been impossible for him during the 19th or the
6 20th of April to type those notes. Maybe he remembered
7 what was said at the meeting afterwards and typed those
8 notes, but again, I remind you of the principle we have
9 adopted, namely, that we have to apply the rules with
10 some flexibility.
11 At any rate, I think it is necessary for us
12 all to take a 15-minute break. This will help every
13 one of us to regain some calm. We are now taking a
14 15-minute break.
15 --- Recess taken at 3.55 p.m.
16 --- On resuming at 4.17 p.m.
17 JUDGE JORDA: The hearing is resumed.
18 Mr. Nobilo, please proceed.
19 MR. NOBILO: Thank you.
20 Q. General, we had stopped when we were
21 discussing the important meeting held in Zenica on the
22 20th of April, 1993. Could you tell us the proceedings
23 at that meeting, and then we will come to the
25 A. Yes. After General Morillon gave the floor
1 to Brigadier Petkovic, Brigadier Petkovic said, "This
2 meeting was not provoked by five people. The meeting
3 is of a general nature. You, in Zenica, abducted,
4 through an act of terrorism, the brigade commander
5 Totic, and in Konjic, you attacked the HVO. We still
6 have no access so as to be able to establish what is
7 happening with the Croats and the HVO in Konjic.
8 Forces were brought in from the outside, from the 1st
9 and 2nd Corps, and this is not a conflict of a local
11 After that, the chief of staff of the main
12 staff of the BH army, Sefer Halilovic, asked for the
13 floor, and he said the following: "First, we have to
14 investigate the causes in order to be able to see what
15 the consequences were. Our Military Intelligence
16 Service has gained some information on the basis of
17 which everything had been prepared long since under a
18 plan called 'April '93.'"
19 The closing address was made by Boban, who
20 had attended a meeting on the 8th of April, 1993 held
21 in Travnik.
22 After that, Petkovic took the floor again and
23 said, "Mr. Halilovic, you have brought to Vitez here
24 400 soldiers from Travnik from the 17th Krajina
25 Brigade. You have brought the 312th Mountain Brigade
1 from Travnik and the 306th Brigade from Travnik. You
2 brought to Jablanica BH army forces also from the
3 outside." A dispute ensued, that is, people started
4 speaking without the chairman being able to give the
5 floor to representatives of one or the other side.
6 Then Dzemo Merdan took the floor without
7 being given it --
8 Q. Who was Dzemo Merdan?
9 A. He was the deputy commander of the 3rd
10 Corps. He said, "You have, down there, killed people.
11 There are civilian corpses in the canal alongside the
12 road, and about 500 people have been killed." I
13 responded to Dzemo Merdan by saying, "Dzemo, if that is
14 what you claim, I propose that a joint commission carry
15 out an investigation and submit a report about those
17 Q. General, killed civilians are lying in the
18 canal alongside the road. Did Dzemo Merdan mention
19 Ahmici or did he not mention Ahmici? What do you
21 A. I didn't note down mention of the village.
22 He may have done so, but I believe he didn't because I
23 would have taken note of the name of the village. But
24 when he said that there were killed victims next to the
25 road, my association was that this could be the region
1 of Nadioci, Sivrino Selo, and Ahmici, because Ahmici is
2 one of the closest villages to the main road, and he
3 was saying, "Down there, next to the road and the
5 Q. When you went to Zenica, which road did you
6 drive along; do you know?
7 A. I assume, with 90 per cent certainty, that we
8 went along the Vitez-Kaonik road, and then Lasva
9 turning towards Zenica, along the main road.
10 Q. Why do you assume? Why is it that you can't
11 say for certain?
12 A. I didn't see the road along which I was
13 driven because I was in an armoured vehicle. It was
14 already dusk, and the lids were closed. I was sitting
15 together with UNPROFOR soldiers, right next to them, so
16 I couldn't see anything from the vehicle. But I'm very
17 familiar with the road, and that is why I said that I'm
18 90 per cent sure that I was driven along that main
19 Vitez-Kaonik-Lasva-Zenica road.
20 Q. When you proposed a joint commission to Dzemo
21 Merdan, what commission did you have in mind? Were you
22 referring to an existing commission or a new one?
23 A. Up to then, all incidents and all
24 allegations, and there were hundreds of them, between
25 representatives of the BH army and the Croatian Defence
1 Council were addressed by a joint commission, which was
2 chaired by Mr. Dzemo Merdan and Mr. Franjo Nakic.
3 Together with them in that commission were
4 representatives of the European Monitoring Mission, and
5 UNPROFOR would occasionally provide security for the
6 movement of that commission on the ground when it was
7 thought that such security was needed.
8 Q. Remind us, when was that commission set up,
9 and what was the purpose?
10 A. The commission was founded at a meeting held
11 in Busovaca, and it was usually referred to as "the
12 joint commission for Busovaca." Its purpose was to
13 implement joint orders issued by Brigadier Petkovic and
14 General Halilovic in February 1993 in order to remove
15 all the consequences of the January conflict between
16 the BH army and the Croatian Defence Council.
17 Q. When you offered that the commission, which
18 was routinely dealing with such matters, to carry out
19 the investigation in Ahmici, what happened then at the
21 A. I didn't specifically say "an investigation
22 in Ahmici." What I said was, "Dzemo, if that is what
23 you claim, I suggest and propose here that the joint
24 commission carry out the investigation and report on
25 its findings, that this report should be submitted both
1 to the commander of the 3rd Corps and to me."
2 After that, Mr. Ejub Ganic asked for the
4 Q. Tell us his title.
5 A. As far as I know, he was deputy president of
6 the war presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina. He was the
7 deputy of Mr. Alija Izetbegovic. Today, he is
8 vice-president of the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina,
9 and until the 1st of January, 1999, I think he was
10 president of the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
11 Mr. Ejub Ganic said, "Let us leave the dead
12 aside. Let us act responsibly. Let the commanders
13 agree on a cessation of fighting first, and later on,
14 we'll come to the dead. This needs to be stopped."
15 When he said this, I assumed he was referring to
17 After that, General Morillon again took the
18 floor, and I soon received information that I had an
19 urgent call from Vitez, and I left the meeting room
20 where the meeting was being held and went to the room
21 next door on the same floor and received a report from
22 Slavko Marin that forces of the army of
23 Bosnia-Herzegovina had captured the school in Dubravica
24 and that the front frontal troops of those attackers
25 had already reached Impregnacija.
1 Q. Did you leave Slavko Marin in the command to
2 act as your deputy?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. The school in Dubravica and Impregnacija, how
5 far is it from this key main road, Vitez-Busovaca?
6 A. Impregnacija is south of the road, I can
7 point it out for you, and the school is on the north
8 side of the road. Therefore, according to the report I
9 received after 18.00, this meant that the road had been
11 Q. Let me rephrase my question. When you were
12 leaving the command of the Operative Zone in order to
13 attend the peace negotiations, had the road been cut
15 A. No, but there was fighting in front of the
16 school at Dubravica. There was fighting to defend that
18 Q. Does that mean that, during the negotiations,
19 the BH army achieved a key victory?
20 A. According to the report that reached me in
21 the hotel, it meant that the road had been cut
22 precisely while I was attending the meeting, because
23 Slavko Marin called the command of the 3rd Corps
24 because he didn't know the number of the Hotel
25 International, and from the chief of staff of the 3rd
1 Corps, he got the number and called me at the meeting.
2 Q. How did you react, attending the meeting with
3 Hadzihasanovic, Sefer Halilovic, whom you were
4 negotiating with, while behind your back they are
5 continuing the attacks? What was your reaction?
6 A. I immediately returned to the meeting room
7 and addressed the chief of staff, and I conveyed to him
8 this report in the original, saying that I had received
9 a call from Slavko Marin that the road had been cut,
10 that the BH army had captured this area, that is, the
11 school in Dubravica, and that the forward troops had
12 already reached Impregnacija.
13 After that, Brigadier Petkovic informed the
14 meeting about this report and asked for an explanation
15 from Commander Enver Hadzihasanovic. Enver
16 Hadzihasanovic said, "I did not approve that." He was
17 referring to the attack. "Perhaps my orders have not
18 reached the units on the ground." He also said that he
19 could not convey his orders so quickly because the
20 units were engaged in fighting and it took time for an
21 order to reach each unit at all their positions.
22 The suggestion made then was that me and
23 Enver -- I am not sure whether the suggestion came only
24 from Brigadier Petkovic or also from Halilovic -- the
25 suggestion was that the two of us get up immediately,
1 me and Enver, that we go to the room next door, and
2 that we all call up -- he, that he should call up his
3 chief of staff, Mr. Mekic, and me, Slavko Marin in
4 Vitez, and that we should order an immediate cessation
5 of hostilities. That is what we did. So we left the
6 meeting again.
7 I don't know what form the meeting then took
8 after that because I was with Enver Hadzihasanovic and
9 we were making these telephone calls in order to
10 achieve a cease-fire.
11 When we returned after having issued our
12 orders, I was present when General Morillon was reading
13 the conclusions of the meeting. I took note of them in
14 my official war diary. I noted them down in
15 handwriting, of course, and the conclusions of the
16 meeting were as follows: At 19.30, the British
17 UNPROFOR battalion will patrol the streets of Vitez and
18 position armoured carriers at the lines of
19 confrontation between the forces of the BH army and the
20 HVO. Then the joint command of the armed forces of the
21 Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which was appointed by
22 the Supreme Command and the main staff of the HVO,
23 shall be equally treated, on a footing of equality.
24 Then he addressed the chiefs of staff, that is,
25 Brigadier Petkovic and General Halilovic, and said,
1 "You are responsible for what is happening because
2 there is no reason for any of this."
3 After that, the head of the European
4 Monitoring Mission took the floor, Mr. Thebault, and he
5 continued to dictate the conclusions of this meeting.
6 First, the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the
7 Croatian Defence Council are components of the armed
8 forces of Bosnia-Herzegovina and shall enjoy equal
10 Second, all commanders at all levels of
11 command must immediately implement the order on a total
13 Third, in Vitez, a joint operations centre
14 shall be formed which was the beginning of the
15 establishment of a joint command in the days that would
16 follow. To head that joint operations centre would be
17 the deputy commanders. He was referring to the deputy
18 commander of the 3rd Corps and to my deputy, that is,
19 the deputy commander of the Operative Zone.
20 Q. Let us be quite clear on this. Did you have
21 a person whose formal title was deputy commander? If
22 you didn't have such a person, who did you have in mind
23 and what was his title?
24 A. I did not have a person acting as deputy
25 commander because the command of the Operative Zone in
1 structure differed from the structure of the command of
2 the 3rd Corps, but, of course, my subordinate,
3 according to the military hierarchy, was my chief of
4 staff, Franjo Nakic, and the 3rd Corps did have a
5 deputy commander of the 3rd Corps. He was Mr. Dzemo
7 Q. Fine. Please proceed.
8 A. The next conclusion was that the centre in
9 Busovaca --
10 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: General, did this
11 difference in the structures of the HVO and the BiH
12 produce any practical difficulties of administration
13 for one side or the other?
14 A. Your Honours, certainly it did cause
15 difficulty in practical terms because for me this meant
16 that my headquarters would be left without a chief of
17 staff for the ensuing period which meant that I was
18 short of staff anyway and now I had to assign my chief
19 of staff to another task. That is one thing.
20 Secondly, in the 3rd Corps, the chief of staff retained
21 his original function and his regular assignments
22 whereas the commander of the 3rd Corps appointed his
23 deputy to the joint operations centre. That is the
24 only difference. So one command was left without a
25 chief of staff and the other had one in real terms and
2 MR. NOBILO:
3 Q. For the conduct of combat operations, will
4 you tell the Court who is the second person in
5 importance in both the 3rd Corps and the operative
7 A. Everywhere it is the chief of staff. That is
8 the centre where all information is gathered, where all
9 decisions are taken, and the chief of staff, in fact,
10 prepares all decisions for the commander and reports to
12 Q. Since we have the conclusions in writing, I
13 would suggest that document 339 be shown to you, and we
14 should like to distribute copies of this new document,
15 and these documents refer to the conclusions of the
16 meeting in Zenica. The only thing is that one document
17 was by those who signed the agreement and the other one
18 is an internal document from the HVO.
19 So will you please give a copy to the
21 THE REGISTRAR: Document D547.
22 MR. NOBILO:
23 Q. General, please look at the document D339 and
24 tell us, please, whether those are the conclusions of
25 the meeting that you were referring to today. This is
1 an old document, D339.
2 I am referring first to document D339. Does
3 it contain the conclusions of the meeting in Zenica,
4 the meeting that you just described?
5 A. Yes, they contain all the conclusions, but
6 there is one addition that I had taken note of -- I
7 cannot see it in this document. This addition was
8 proposed by Colonel Stewart to the chairman, Thebault,
9 that is, the chief of the European Monitoring Mission.
10 Q. What did it relate to?
11 A. When all these conclusions that are contained
12 in the document had been dictated, I described how they
13 came about, but after that, Colonel Stewart took a
14 military map and showed it to the head of the European
15 Mission, Mr. Thebault, who then gave the floor to
16 Colonel Stewart, and the HVO and the commander of the
17 3rd Corps were required, in relation to the UNPROFOR
18 base in Nova Bila, that an area around the base, 500
19 metres around the base, should be demilitarised; in
20 other words, that all military effects should be
21 withdrawn in an area of 500 metres diameter.
22 Q. Did the BH army do that?
23 A. No.
24 Q. If it had done so, which area would it have
25 had to evacuate?
1 A. Most of Grbavica and a greater part of
3 Q. Very well. Please look now at the new
4 document that we have just distributed, D547, which is
5 the agreement, and pay attention to the signatures on
6 the last page. Do you perhaps recognise any of those
8 A. I recognise the signature of Brigadier
9 Petkovic, General Sefer Halilovic, and General
11 MR. NOBILO: We are not going to read the
12 document. It is self-explanatory in terms of the
13 conclusions at the Zenica meeting.
14 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: May I ask this question,
15 General? In this document, paragraph 3, fifth line
16 refers to "both deputy commanders." Should I
17 understand that on your side to be referring to your
18 chief of staff?
19 A. Yes. Yes, Your Honour. I did not have a
20 deputy, and that was a well-known fact to the chairman,
21 Mr. Thebault, as well.
22 MR. NOBILO:
23 Q. Very well. So this meeting was over, you
24 went back to your headquarters. Do you recall whether
25 the fighting had abated -- or, rather, you didn't tell
1 us whether you went to the phone and made phone calls
2 to certain units, you and Hadzihasanovic.
3 A. Yes. Both of us were in a room which was on
4 the same floor as the meeting room, and from one
5 telephone, the commander of the 3rd Corps, Enver
6 Hadzihasanovic, called his chief of staff, and later I
7 called Slavko Marin too, and we dictated the decisions
8 of this meeting through an order, and we both asked
9 that the orders be sent to our subordinates on the
10 ground straightaway.
11 I told Slavko Marin that he should not wait
12 for my return from Zenica to Vitez but that he should
13 immediately prepare this order and have it sent out to
14 certain units, this order on the cease-fire.
15 Q. Very well. How did you go back? How did you
16 return to the hotel, to your headquarters?
17 A. That was quite late in the evening, perhaps
18 about 23.00, I'm not too sure. The same way I went to
19 Zenica, that is to say, with three UN armoured
20 vehicles and our vehicle was in the middle and, again,
21 we went to the back door of the hotel, and I think that
22 somewhere near Kaonik, that part of the road, there was
23 sporadic gunfire, but I'm not sure, and I couldn't see
24 a thing because, again, the visors were down and it was
25 night-time and we were going back to the hotel.
1 Q. Do you remember whether you saw Marin and did
2 you briefly tell him what you heard in Zenica?
3 A. I was with Slavko Marin, and I conveyed to
4 him the substance that Dzemo Merdan had communicated to
5 me, and I told Slavko Marin that Dzemo Merdan had
6 established at the meeting that there were quite a few
7 casualties, including civilians, and he mentioned a
8 figure of around 500. I asked Slavko Marin also
9 whether he had received a report and whether we have
10 received any information whatsoever on that figure, and
11 Slavko then said that we didn't. Slavko also told me
12 about what had happened in the school of Dubravica and
13 at Impregnacija and how the front line fell and how it
14 was recaptured again. After that, I went to rest.
15 Q. On the 21st of April, you had another meeting
16 with the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Nova Bila
17 but only at 12.00. Tell me, what kind of information
18 did you receive in the morning of the 21st of April,
20 A. Information was coming in, into the
21 operations staff, and around 2.00, again it became
22 evident that the forces of the army of Bosnia and
23 Herzegovina were on the move. At 3.00, we received
24 information from the Vitez Brigade that fire had been
25 opened against the positions at Kratine and Nadioci
1 from Kuber, and we received the recording of a
2 conversation from the head of the Military Intelligence
3 Service, and I quote:
4 "We have to take Vitez regardless of the
5 price involved and the sacrifices involved."
6 Q. Who said that?
7 A. That was a conversation between the commander
8 of the units of the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina that
9 the Military Intelligence Service had intercepted and
10 recorded probably via radio communications.
11 Q. That day, in the morning, disturbing news
12 also came in from Travnik; right?
13 A. Yes. At 10.30, we received information that
14 the situation in Travnik was very critical and that the
15 snipers of the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina are
16 operating in the area of Kalibunar and also they are
17 shooting at Croat apartments and that two women, two
18 Croat women, were hit by snipers of the army of Bosnia
19 and Herzegovina in the town of Travnik.
20 Tensions were very high and, around 11.30, a
21 delegation arrived, a delegation of the army of Bosnia
22 and Herzegovina, at the Vitez Hotel, and they were
23 escorted either by the European Monitoring Mission and
24 UNPROFOR or only by UNPROFOR.
25 On this delegation was Mr. Sefer Halilovic,
1 Stjepan Siber, the deputy chief of staff of the army of
2 Bosnia and Herzegovina, then Mr. Vehbija Karic,
3 Mr. Dzemo Merdan, and on behalf of the HVO, there was
4 Brigadier Petkovic, chief of the main staff of the HVO,
5 and there was Mr. Lucic and Mr. Bandic, and I was
6 present too.
7 It was a brief conversation just before the
8 meeting in Nova Bila in which we mainly discussed the
9 agreement that was signed last night, on the 20th of
10 April, 1993. After that, we set out for Nova Bila.
11 Q. How did you do that? Could you tell us the
12 mode of transport?
13 A. Again, we were transported separately,
14 escorted by UNPROFOR, of course. That is how we were
15 transported to Nova Bila to a house that is across the
16 street from the UN base. It was a civilian house
17 that was rented by the European Monitoring Mission.
18 Q. Could you please tell us of the content of
19 the discussion of this meeting, briefly?
20 A. Before the meeting, I told Brigadier Petkovic
21 about the disturbing news I had about operations in
22 Vitez, Busovaca, and Kiseljak, and I said that the
23 agreement was not being enforced yet and that it was
24 obvious that either information did not come in or
25 perhaps it was not even sent. I mean information
1 regarding the signing of this agreement between the
2 army of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the HVO.
3 At the meeting on the 21st of April, at
4 12.00, there was the head of the European Monitoring
5 Mission, Mr. Thebault, and another high official of the
6 European Monitoring Mission. I imagine that his name
7 was Mr. Ford, but I'm not too sure.
8 JUDGE JORDA: Are you talking about the 21st
9 or the 24th of April? I'm a bit lost.
10 MR. NOBILO: The 21st.
11 A. Mr. President, the 21st of April, 1993, at
12 12.00. The meeting in Nova Bila.
13 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you very much.
14 A. At that meeting, after he took the floor,
15 Brigadier Petkovic said we could not or did not wish to
16 stop combat operations from last night until now and
17 the members of the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina have
18 not only not stopped combat operations but have
19 expanded military operations, combat operations, and at
20 the moment, Busovaca and Kiseljak are being attacked
21 and also there are operations taking place in Vitez.
22 Then he said, General Petkovic, I mean, said,
23 "Since last night, you have been phoning units of the
24 army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the attacks,
25 instead of being stopped, are only spreading from
1 Travnik to Kiseljak. The village of Badnje and the
2 region around the village of Badnje was attacked by you
3 and taken militarily." He was referring to the attack
4 for the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
5 Mr. Thebault, the chairman, said,
6 "Commanders," as he was addressing Sefer and Brigadier
7 Petkovic, "it is your credibility that is at stake
8 now. Let us enforce on the ground what we signed last
9 night. If you're not in a position to do that, then it
10 is going to be very difficult to find a solution. The
11 one who does not wish to enforce this should get up and
12 leave this meeting. The situation is far too serious
13 today for us not to do a thing."
14 After that, General Halilovic took the floor,
15 the chief of the main staff of the army of Bosnia and
16 Herzegovina, who said, "Combat operations are a
17 consequence of the situation at the front because units
18 are still in combat contact. In Travnik, in Novi
19 Travnik, there are two-way operations of groups of HVO
20 and of the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In Vitez,
21 Busovaca, and Kiseljak, the units are in combat
22 contact, and it is very difficult to keep the situation
23 under control and bring it to a halt all of a sudden.
24 I am prepared to go to these lines of conflict
25 straightaway and to solve all the problems right
2 MR. NOBILO:
3 Q. Tell me, General, Sefer Halilovic, the first
4 soldier of the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, so to
5 speak, if we do not mention the head of state, he said
6 that he would go to the front line and resolve
7 problems. Wouldn't it be more correct from a military
8 point of view for two commanders, Halilovic of the army
9 of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Petkovic of HVO, to issue
10 orders, every one of them to his subordinate, Petkovic
11 to you and Halilovic to Hadzihasanovic, and then,
12 according to firm military subordination, a firm chain
13 of command, shouldn't there be a cease-fire and
14 wouldn't it be normal to enforce the orders of the
15 commander in chief rather than have the commander in
16 chief go to the trenches?
17 A. That's what they did at the meeting of the
18 20th of April. Petkovic ordered me, and Halilovic
19 ordered Enver to get up and to go immediately and call
20 our subordinates and to dictate orders on the cessation
21 of combat operations from that hotel, both of us, and I
22 know that Enver called Mekic and dictated the
23 conclusions of this meeting from the 20th of April,
24 1993 to him.
25 Q. Who is Mekic?
1 A. The head of the staff of the 3rd Corps of the
2 army of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
3 Q. Did you call your own people?
4 A. Yes, I called Slavko Marin and I dictated it
5 to him, and I told him immediately to send this order
6 out and not to wait for me to come back but that he
7 should send it out to the ground immediately.
8 Q. How do you explain the fact that this is not
9 sufficient, that these orders were not obeyed, but now
10 Sefer Halilovic, who is the chief of general staff of
11 the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, would have to go to
12 trenches to see that the cease-fire is enforced right
14 A. Certainly there were problems in the
15 functioning of the chain of command, both on the side
16 of the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina and also from the
17 further proceedings of the meeting. Both the head of
18 the general staff of the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina
19 and the head of the main staff of the HVO indeed did go
20 to the front line to see that combat operations were
22 Q. Thank you. Would you please proceed? Did
23 Halilovic say anything else?
24 A. Yes. Sefer Halilovic addressed Brigadier
25 Petkovic at the time. He said, "Petkovic, this morning
1 your artillery fired at Zenica. Three or four shells
2 fell." And I heard that.
3 Q. This is the 21st of April, 1993; right?
4 A. Yes, that's right. After that, Petkovic said
5 again that it was not the HVO that was firing, he
6 established that Busovaca and Kiseljak were under
7 attack at present and from the positions of Kuber,
8 Kacuni, and the village of Badnje, and he said,
9 "Halilovic, you can stop these attacks."
10 Mr. Ford -- I mean the gentleman who I think
11 is called Ford -- asked to take the floor then, he
12 greeted all the participants in this meeting, and he
13 suggested that we should not waste our energy on that
14 that has been but that we should concentrate on that
15 which will come.
16 The conclusions after this meeting were that
17 combat operations should be stopped and that the
18 movement of all members of the European Community and
19 UNPROFOR should be guaranteed freedom of movement and
20 to create a neutral zone between HVO units and BH army
21 units, and in that neutral zone, only UNPROFOR forces,
22 that is to say, the British battalion forces, should be
23 the only ones patrolling, and also to guarantee the
24 safety of the civilian population with special emphasis
25 on the Bosniak Muslims of Vitez and the Croats of
1 Zenica and that public law and order should be improved
2 and the institutions in charge of this should make
3 every effort in that direction. Also, support was
4 given to the joint commission that was supposed to work
5 on all these tasks and common problems.
6 Q. On the basis of that meeting, you wrote an
7 order, and I would like D336 to be handed out, please,
9 Please look at the document. First its
10 general appearance. Is it an order which you issued to
11 your forces after the meeting in Nova Bila, the meeting
12 you have just described?
13 A. Yes. I wrote this order personally, and I
14 signed it.
15 Q. You addressed the order to the chief of the
16 main staff of the HVO, for his information, to the
17 European Monitoring Mission, to the United Nations
18 command, and to all immediately subordinated
20 Could you explain to us, are you giving
21 orders to the European Monitoring Mission and the
22 British Battalion, and why did you put them together
23 with your immediately subordinated commanders? Could
24 you explain the actual process of writing this order?
25 A. Of course. It should have said "for the
1 information of the monitoring mission and also for the
2 attention of the United Nations command," so this was
3 probably an error on the part of the typists. I never
4 issued any orders to the monitoring mission and the
5 UN command at Nova Bila, but in each of the points, I
6 indicated who was responsible for implementing specific
8 It was my habit that any agreement reached
9 with representatives of the BH army should be regulated
10 through an order so that we would know exactly what we
11 needed to do.
12 Q. In the heading, it says: "Implementation of
13 the agreement between units of the army of
14 Bosnia-Herzegovina and the HVO. Order," and then it
15 says: "At 12.00 on the 21st of April, 1993, a meeting
16 was held in Nova Bila," on the basis of which you are
17 issuing an order. However, it is quite clear in the
18 text that the meeting was held on the 21st of April at
19 12.00, but in the heading where the date is indicated,
20 it says: "9.10."
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Is this an error, perhaps?
23 A. Yes, clearly this is an error on the part of
24 the typist. We often had such mistakes, partly due to
25 my extremely illegible handwriting and perhaps because
1 of the fatigue of the typist.
2 Q. In any event, the meeting started at 12.00.
3 How long did it last for?
4 A. I couldn't say with precision but certainly
5 not less than two hours. Perhaps longer.
6 Q. This order, when could it have been written?
7 A. In the afternoon, perhaps around 21.00,
8 21.10. I'm not sure.
9 Q. Will you please take note of point 6, which
10 I'm going to read: "The commanders of the HVO brigades
11 are obliged to guarantee full security of the civilian
12 Muslim people and all other peoples in their zone of
13 responsibility, and the competent bodies of the HVO are
14 obliged to ensure public law and order, especially with
15 regard to the Muslim inhabitants of the town of Vitez
16 and the Croats of the town of Zenica."
17 Could you please explain this sentence, why
18 you wrote it down? What was your purpose?
19 A. At the meeting, we had discussed this problem
20 and the chain reaction that things had. Anything bad
21 that would happen to Croats in Zenica and Travnik in an
22 area under the control of the BH army would have a
23 chain reaction in the areas of Vitez, when the victims
24 in that case were usually Muslims. That is why I
25 insisted that one of the points should reflect our
1 effort to prevent any violence towards Croats in Zenica
2 and towards Muslims in Vitez, in order to stop these
3 chain reactions.
4 Q. But you cannot have any influence over the
5 situation in Zenica, can you?
6 A. Certainly I could not, especially not after
7 the 18th of April, when the Croatian Defence Council in
8 Zenica ceased to function and when I personally had no
9 access to Zenica. But I knew that all the trouble
10 coming with the exiled Croats from Zenica, who were
11 finding accommodation in Vitez, was reflected upon the
12 Muslims of Vitez, who later became the object or victim
13 of persecution by those Croats from Zenica, and I
14 wanted to interrupt that chain of events.
15 Q. Let me draw your attention to point 8 of that
16 order. Let me read it and then ask my question.
17 "Brigade commanders are obliged to issue written
18 orders to their subordinated commanders on the basis of
19 this order and to start implementing it. They are to
20 send one copy of their order to the Vitez Operative
21 Zone command of Central Bosnia."
22 Tell us, why did you put this sentence in
23 your order?
24 A. Ever since the January conflicts, there were
25 quite a lot of problems with the functioning of the
1 chain of command, and we would form a special set of
2 documents for any agreement. After such an agreement
3 was reached, we would have orders, as well as orders
4 issued by the immediate subordinates, because sometimes
5 it was simply not clear to the European monitors that
6 we would order one thing and something quite different
7 would happen on the ground. That is why we wanted to
8 make sure that the commanders would issue orders on the
9 basis of our orders and that they would try to ensure
10 the implementation of those orders on the ground.
11 JUDGE RODRIGUES: I'm sorry for interrupting
12 you, Mr. Nobilo.
13 General, is this the first time you used this
14 method of trying to have feedback on your orders or did
15 you try other times before?
16 A. We had done so before. It was not the first
18 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you.
19 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, I'm in a dilemma
20 now as to how long we are going to go on working today,
21 this afternoon. Are we working until 6.00 or until
23 JUDGE JORDA: We will work until 5.30. That
24 is the reason why I did not allow us to take a break.
25 Maybe the accused is very tired. I mean, it's his
1 right to be tired. If that is the case, of course, we
2 can take a short break.
3 General Blaskic, do you feel able to continue
4 until 5.30 without a break?
5 THE ACCUSED: I can, Mr. President. It is up
6 to you. I can. I'm at your disposal.
7 JUDGE JORDA: Very well then. We are going
8 to work for another fifteen minutes.
9 MR. NOBILO: Thank you.
10 Q. Having finished with this order, we can go on
11 to the 22nd of April, 1993. Will you please tell Their
12 Honours how that day began? What did you focus on?
13 What were you doing on the 22nd of April, 1993? What
14 were your main concerns?
15 A. On that day, the 22nd of April, 1993, I had a
16 meeting with the commanders, and the subject of the
17 meeting was implementation of the order on the
18 implementation of the agreement of the 21st of April,
19 1993, and we mainly discussed the points and the
20 contents of this order, as well as the methods of its
22 I also requested special guarantees for the
23 safety of civilians, and I stressed to the commanders
24 that this was one of our priority tasks. I also
25 instructed the assistant for information to put in
1 order all the information that we had received so far
2 regarding civilian casualties, that is, all information
3 and our reactions to that problem.
4 I also tasked the assistant for security at
5 this meeting to take preventive measures to protect
6 civilians, and I also gave instructions to the head of
7 operations to work on a plan of work for the command.
8 At that meeting, I also discussed the plan on
9 the separation of forces, which was perhaps one of the
10 fundamental points of this order of the 21st of April,
11 because the plan was for the entire area between
12 Zenica, Vitez, Kaonik, and Lasva to be demilitarised
13 or, rather, for only UNPROFOR to be present there and
14 to patrol the area. This would mean the withdrawal of
15 the forces of the BH army towards Zenica, that is, from
16 Kuber and the lines they had captured, and also the
17 withdrawal of the HVO towards Vitez and Busovaca.
18 I was also informed on that day by the head
19 of the Military Intelligence Service that movement had
20 been prohibited for all HVO motor vehicles, including
22 Q. So you came across, for the first time,
23 different criteria of the UNHCR, the International Red
24 Cross, and UNPROFOR on this day. Can you explain to
25 the Court what kind of criteria these were and how they
2 A. I'll try to explain, though I must say at
3 first I found it rather complicated.
4 The position of the UNHCR, and I'm speaking
5 only of the area where I was the commander, that we
6 commanders have to provide full security for the
7 civilian population, and any movement or any
8 resettlement of civilians and their movement from their
9 places of residence constituted ethnic cleansing,
10 according to the criteria of the UNHCR.
11 The position of the International Red Cross
12 and UNPROFOR was that we commanders had to ensure full
13 freedom of movement for all civilians living in the
14 area under the HVO and probably the area controlled by
15 the BH army, I assumed, though I didn't know that. So
16 that these two positions were in contradiction with
17 each other.
18 Q. In a situation of a civil war and
19 inter-ethnic conflict where we have two armies, each
20 belonging to a different people, what does "freedom of
21 movement" mean?
22 A. I tried to explain this to the International
23 Red Cross, and I told them that if we were to allow
24 freedom of movement, then no one would remain to live
25 in Vitez. Vitez could be an example, but we also had
1 data about Busovaca.
2 Q. Nobody would stay to live there?
3 A. Neither the Muslims nor the Croats if, in an
4 area of about six kilometres away, there were combat
5 operations. Everybody would try to find a safer place
6 to live.
7 On the other hand, the position of the UNHCR,
8 which was conveyed to me, was that the safety of
9 civilians had to be fully guaranteed, and there should
10 be no movement of the population. I was frequently
11 confronted with certain arrangements made by the
12 International Red Cross. Let me just give you an
13 example. When the Croats held prisoner in Zenica were
14 released, all of them, or at least a vast majority of
15 them, 90 per cent perhaps, came to live in Vitez.
16 Q. Can you explain why the Croats from Zenica
17 wanted to go to Vitez when there is fighting there too?
18 A. Out of fear for their personal safety. Some
19 of them were mobilised, or they assumed they would be
20 mobilised by the BH army, and taken to the front line
21 between the HVO and the BH army; some, that they would
22 be taken in custody subsequently for interrogation; and
23 when they had a chance, according to the criteria of
24 the International Red Cross, to opt for a place where
25 they wanted to live, those prisoners chose for their
1 next place of residence Busovaca and Vitez, and their
2 families stayed on in Zenica, in their own apartments
3 and homes.
4 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: General, I understand
5 you to be saying that if there was freedom of movement,
6 all the Croats and all the Muslims in Vitez would have
7 left Vitez because of the occurrence of armed conflict
8 in the vicinity. How do you reconcile that with the
9 fact that Croats left Zenica and came to Vitez?
10 A. Your Honour, having to choose from two bad
11 solutions, and this is my assumption and I spoke to
12 them, they chose the one that was least bad. When I
13 said that both Croats and Muslims would have left, I
14 remember that in March, the second half of March, I
15 received information from Busovaca, I think it was an
16 information from the IPD, Information Propaganda
17 Service, that about 60 complete Croatian families from
18 Busovaca had reported to the Busovaca police station
19 and about 74 to 80 Muslim families saying that they
20 wanted to leave Busovaca, which means both Croats and
21 Muslims. Of course, some wanted to leave to third
22 countries, that is, leave Bosnia-Herzegovina entirely,
23 whereas others wanted to go to Zenica or other areas
24 under the control of their army because there was a
25 danger that Busovaca would fall.
1 MR. NOBILO:
2 Q. In a situation when it is not possible to
3 abandon a country at war, everyone did not have such a
4 chance, what did each ethnic group decide? Where did
5 they prefer to go if they did not have the possibility
6 of leaving the war zone?
7 A. They went where the army of their entity had
8 control: the Croats to the areas under the control of
9 the HVO and the Bosniak Muslims to the areas under the
10 control of the BH army.
11 The situation was particularly grave when
12 male members of families -- this was not a question of
13 a hundred people. On one day, we received about 300
14 military conscripts from Zenica, whereas all their
15 families were left behind in Zenica.
16 Q. What happened then? What happened with those
17 Croats who came to Vitez and their families stayed
18 behind in areas under the control of the BH army?
19 A. They tried to do everything they could to
20 have their families join them. Some sought to do so
21 through the mediation of the International Red Cross,
22 and I had a talk with a representative of the
23 International Red Cross on the 22nd of April when I
24 became aware of the existence of these different
25 criteria. According to one set of criteria, every
1 movement was assessed as ethnic cleansing, and
2 according to others, I had to ensure full freedom of
4 Others, apart from applying to the
5 International Red Cross, sought out personal
6 arrangements. They would knock at the door of a
7 Bosniak Muslim whom they knew and they would ask his
8 families, because there were similar situations on the
9 other side, that is, released Bosniak Muslims who chose
10 to live in Zenica and Travnik also sought to achieve
11 reunification of their families who were left behind in
12 Vitez. So such personal arrangements were made
13 independently of international organisations. As far
14 as I know, a civilian agency was formed, attached to
15 the civilian authorities in Vitez municipality, for
16 mediation in the exchange of apartments and
17 reunification of families.
18 Q. What did you tell the representatives of the
19 International Red Cross and UNPROFOR? What was your
20 position? What did you ask of them?
21 A. First of all, I said that the UNHCR had
22 another criterion and that was that it joined in the
23 evacuation of Bosniak Muslims and Croats from
24 territories controlled by the army of Republika Srpska,
25 and there were cases of population resettlement from
1 the territories under the control of Republika Srpska
2 army --
3 Q. Let us say that once again because the
4 transcript -- there's an error.
5 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo, this is a complex
6 question you're about to put to the witness, so maybe
7 it would be a better idea to go back to this question
8 tomorrow when we start working again in the morning. I
9 think that we all want the witness to tell us exactly
10 how these negotiations went with the UNHCR and with the
11 International Red Cross. We all want to know exactly
12 what the consequences of these negotiations were for
13 the populations. That's a crucial issue. I think the
14 witness is a bit tired. We will go over this point
15 tomorrow morning.
16 The hearing is adjourned. We will meet
17 tomorrow morning at 10.00. The hearing is adjourned.
18 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at
19 5.30 p.m., to be reconvened on Thursday,
20 the 11th day of March, 1999 at
21 10.00 a.m.