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  1. 1 Thursday, 11th March, 1999

    2 (Open session)

    3 --- Upon commencing at 10.08 a.m.

    4 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated. Registrar,

    5 would you have our witness brought in, please?

    6 (The accused/witness entered court)

    7 JUDGE JORDA: First of all, I'd like to say

    8 good morning to the interpreters, and to the court

    9 reporters, to the Prosecution and Defence counsel.

    10 Good morning to our witness, the accused. We are now

    11 ready to begin.

    12 I know that in the public gallery there are

    13 some students. This is the International Criminal

    14 Tribunal, and you know that it tries to be exemplary

    15 and pedagogical. You're hearing part of the Blaskic

    16 trial, and you are hearing the accused who himself is

    17 testifying under oath.

    18 General Blaskic, how are you this morning?

    19 Did you rest last night?

    20 THE ACCUSED: Thank you for your interest,

    21 Mr. President. Yes, I am well rested.

    22 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. Having said that,

    23 Mr. Nobilo, you may proceed with the chronology of that

    24 crucial day when the conflict began around the 16th of

    25 April and the following days.

  2. 1 All right. Mr. Nobilo, you may proceed. We

    2 will take a break in about 45 minutes or an hour,

    3 depending on the moment that you feel would be proper

    4 to interrupt the questioning.

    5 Mr. Nobilo, please proceed.

    6 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President. As

    7 you probably remember, we discussed yesterday the

    8 problem of the departure of civilians, that is, Muslims

    9 from Vitez and Croats from Zenica.


    11 Examined by Mr. Nobilo:

    12 Q. We had come to the end of the working day,

    13 and we hadn't finished with that issue, which is a very

    14 important one, so I should like to ask Mr. Blaskic

    15 briefly and concisely to present the problem that he

    16 was confronted with after the outbreak of the conflict

    17 between the Muslims and Croats in the Lasva River

    18 Valley in April 1993.

    19 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, I have presented

    20 the problem of double standards adopted by various

    21 humanitarian organisations, specifically the UNHCR,

    22 which conveyed to me their view that any movement and

    23 departure of the population constituted ethnic

    24 cleansing, and that it was my duty to guarantee full

    25 security of the population in the places in which they

  3. 1 reside, whereas the position of the International Red

    2 Cross was that complete freedom of movement should be

    3 allowed to the civilian population, and these two

    4 positions caused difficulties for me, both in my

    5 activities and in my contacts with representatives of

    6 the UNHCR or the International Red Cross, as the case

    7 may be.

    8 In addition to this position taken by the

    9 UNHCR, I spoke to officers of the UNHCR about another

    10 criterion which was valid within the territory under

    11 the control of the Republika Srpska army, for the

    12 territory under the control of the Republika Srpska

    13 army, the population there had, in the organisation of

    14 the UNHCR and under escort of UNPROFOR, had brought in

    15 Bosniak Muslims and Croats from the area of Krajina.

    16 This is the area around Banja Luka, Kotor Varos,

    17 Prijedor, Jajce, and other places of North-western

    18 Bosnia, and they came to the Central Bosnian army, that

    19 is, the area of Travnik, Zenica, and the entire Lasva

    20 Valley.

    21 Q. There may be a problem with the translation.

    22 The words "brought in" were used. What were you trying

    23 to say? Where was the UNHCR bringing people to?

    24 A. According to the information I had, the UNHCR

    25 was participating in transferring Bosniak Muslims and

  4. 1 Croats from territories under the control of the

    2 Republika Srpska army to the area of the Lasva River

    3 Valley, or the areas under my control and under the

    4 control of the 3rd Corps, which means Travnik, Novi

    5 Travnik, Vitez, Zenica, Kakanj, and so on.

    6 JUDGE JORDA: Had these populations already

    7 come -- exactly what date are you speaking about when

    8 you spoke to the UNHCR? You said that these are

    9 populations that are coming now or that they had

    10 already come at the time of the first attack on

    11 Travnik?

    12 A. Mr. President, this was happening before the

    13 conflict in April --

    14 JUDGE JORDA: So that was before?

    15 A. -- before the 16th, but it was also

    16 happening in the course of 1993. I can look up in my

    17 notes, when Kotor Varos fell, to give you the exact

    18 date, but it was happening before this.

    19 JUDGE JORDA: No, no, no. That's all right.

    20 I just wanted to know that when you spoke with the

    21 UNHCR, you were saying that you were not applying your

    22 own criteria, where, in fact, at that very point, the

    23 Bosnian Muslim and Croation population had been coming

    24 from Travnik, or did you simply say that, "I remember

    25 these populations had already come before the 16th of

  5. 1 April?" I just wanted to know if that was what it

    2 was.

    3 A. Mr. President, I said to the UNHCR,

    4 "Gentlemen, you have double standards, one that apply

    5 to the area under the control of the army of

    6 Bosnia-Herzegovina and the HVO, and another set of

    7 standards for the area under the control of the

    8 Republika Srpska army." And I also told the

    9 representatives of both organisations, the UNHCR and

    10 the International Red Cross, that I appealed to them to

    11 coordinate their views, and that I would do everything

    12 in my power to observe their common position, whatever

    13 that may be, either one or the other.

    14 MR. NOBILO:

    15 Q. Did they ever coordinate their views, at

    16 least in the course of 1993?

    17 A. I was never informed about any such outcome,

    18 but we will see the chronology of events that followed,

    19 but I did ask the representative of the UNHCR to tell

    20 me what their mandate was, and I personally tried, as

    21 far as I could, to abide by the position taken by the

    22 UNHCR.

    23 Q. Tell the Court what your personal views

    24 were? Which solution did you consider to be

    25 preferable?

  6. 1 A. Personally, I was in a dilemma to decide

    2 between two solutions, neither of which I considered to

    3 be good. Both were bad. Perhaps the best solution

    4 would have been if we had been able to evacuate

    5 temporarily the civilian population from the areas of

    6 conflict, but personally, I supported the position of

    7 the UNHCR, and sought to observe those positions with

    8 respect to the civilian population. However, it is

    9 important to note here the standards applied for the

    10 release of prisoners, which also contributed to the

    11 undermining of the criteria of the UNHCR.

    12 Q. Which was the organisation in charge of the

    13 release of prisoners, and what were the standards

    14 applied?

    15 A. The International Red Cross was, for us, the

    16 organisation in charge of the release of prisoners on

    17 the basis of their own standards, but what caused a

    18 problem was that, according to the standards of the

    19 International Red Cross, every prisoner had freedom of

    20 choice when it came to selecting where he would go upon

    21 his release. In the vast majority of cases, what would

    22 happen was that Muslim members of the army of

    23 Bosnia-Herzegovina would choose to go to Travnik and

    24 Zenica, whereas Croats, members of the HVO, would

    25 choose to leave Zenica and go to Busovaca and Vitez.

  7. 1 Q. According to the criteria of the

    2 International Red Cross, was there a possibility for

    3 the Muslims freely to choose to stay in Vitez?

    4 A. Yes, they had that possibility, and there

    5 were such cases, just as there were cases of Croats

    6 deciding to stay in Zenica, or in Travnik, or in other

    7 areas under the control of the army of

    8 Bosnia-Herzegovina.

    9 Q. Apart from the International Red Cross, who

    10 else participated in the prisoners' release, on the

    11 part of the Croats, in the choice of residence by

    12 released prisoners?

    13 A. This choice was made by the prisoners

    14 themselves, and they would enter, in the form of the

    15 International Red Cross, the place where they wanted to

    16 go. There was a civilian exchange commission which,

    17 together with the commission from Zenica, negotiated

    18 and mediated the release of prisoners.

    19 Q. What would happen if a Muslim released in

    20 Vitez, a male, a soldier, goes to Zenica and joins the

    21 army of Bosnia-Herzegovina? What happens then to his

    22 family?

    23 A. The family -- let me give you an example in

    24 Vitez. The family, shall we say, stayed on in Vitez,

    25 and the soldier of the BH army is in Zenica, and then,

  8. 1 of course, he would try in every possible way to

    2 reunite with his family, and to bring his family to

    3 live with him. This would mean that the family from

    4 Vitez would go to Zenica and continue residing there.

    5 The same applied in the opposite case. If a

    6 released Croat would arrive in Vitez, he would have the

    7 same problem with his family, only he would have to try

    8 to bring his family from Zenica to Vitez.

    9 Q. How would he organise this move of his

    10 family? How would he find a place to live?

    11 A. This often caused disturbances of the overall

    12 order. There were various cases. For instance, on the

    13 22nd, the International Red Cross was driving a family

    14 from Vitez, a woman and a child, to Zenica, because the

    15 husband, a member of the BH army, had been released,

    16 and he continued to live in Zenica. So requests were

    17 made for mediation by the International Red Cross in

    18 the event of disease in the family, and if they met the

    19 criteria of the International Red Cross, then the

    20 International Red Cross would mediate in individual

    21 cases in the reunification of families in individual

    22 cases.

    23 Also it was a common occurrence for Bosniak

    24 Muslims to be evicted by force from their apartments,

    25 for those apartments to be simply occupied, and then

  9. 1 the family that has been evicted would be informed and

    2 given a telephone number in Zenica, and then that

    3 person would say, "Here you are, you have that

    4 apartment in Zenica. You go and live there, and I'm

    5 taking your apartment here in Vitez."

    6 There were also certain groups that were

    7 mediating in these operations, taking a considerable

    8 commission for it, for their services. I know that for

    9 a time there was a civilian agency formed at the level

    10 of Vitez municipality, which mediated in the exchange

    11 of data and information with somebody, I don't know

    12 whether there was an agency or something, in Zenica, I

    13 don't know which institution it was, which mediated in

    14 the exchange of these apartments.

    15 There were several different forms of this

    16 exchange, but the worst was if a military conscript

    17 would have weapons on him, and unfortunately there was

    18 even use of force, he would simply say, "I have been

    19 thrown out of Zenica, and now you go to Zenica and live

    20 there."

    21 Q. Tell me, when you were informed about such

    22 cases, did you take measures to protect the Muslims and

    23 to return the evicted Muslims to their apartments?

    24 A. Yes. I will be able to illustrate that from

    25 my chronology later.

  10. 1 Q. In the Lasva Valley, during conflicts, did an

    2 organised military unit ever come and force out the

    3 Muslim population from a village, from a town, and

    4 expel them from the Lasva River Valley?

    5 A. I never ordered any such operation, nor do I

    6 know that an HVO unit ever attacked civilians and

    7 expelled them from a particular area.

    8 Q. Let us proceed. On the 22nd of April,

    9 together with members of the joint commission, you

    10 discussed this same issue, that is, the problem of

    11 civilians and their protection. Tell us more about

    12 it.

    13 A. I had a meeting with the representatives of

    14 the joint commission, Mr. Nakic and Pilicic, and I

    15 asked them to take the initiative, and as of the 22nd

    16 of April, that the joint commission should focus on the

    17 prevention of violence, then that they should talk

    18 critical points, that they should examine the situation

    19 with immovable property, buildings, houses, and assess

    20 the chances for return where return was possible,

    21 considering the state of accommodation facilities and

    22 the security situation in the areas inhabited by

    23 civilians.

    24 Q. On the 22nd of April, 1993, you received a

    25 letter from Colonel Stewart, the commander of the

  11. 1 British Battalion, who drew your attention, for the

    2 first time, to the problem of Ahmici.

    3 MR. NOBILO: Could we have Prosecution

    4 Exhibit 456/56?

    5 JUDGE JORDA: This is a Prosecution Exhibit?

    6 MR. NOBILO: Yes. Prosecutor's Exhibit, and,

    7 in fact, it is the letter by Bob Stewart to Colonel

    8 Blaskic, dated the 22nd of April, 1993.

    9 Q. It's brief and important, so allow me to read

    10 it. So Colonel Robert Stewart, on the 22nd of April,

    11 1993, is writing to you, Colonel Tihomir Blaskic, as

    12 the commander of the Central Bosnia Operative Zone, and

    13 he says -- the heading is "Investigation of Atrocity.

    14 1. At 14.00 today," and he's referring to

    15 the 22nd of April, 1993, "I visited the village of

    16 Ahmici.

    17 2. In one house, I discovered the bodies of a

    18 man and a boy at the front entrance. Both bodies were

    19 burnt beyond recognition. In the cellar, I found the

    20 bodies of what may have been a mother and at least five

    21 children. Again, the bodies were burnt beyond

    22 recognition, and it was clear from the angle of the

    23 heads that at least two had died in agony.

    24 3. Whoever has done this is guilty and must

    25 be punished. No atrocity, wherever it occurs, is

  12. 1 acceptable.

    2 4. I urgently request your help in order to

    3 investigate the sacking of this village.

    4 Colonel Robert Stewart, United Nations,

    5 UNPROFOR."

    6 Did you receive this letter on the 22nd of

    7 April, 1993?

    8 A. Yes. I received this letter on the 22nd of

    9 April, 1993 in the afternoon.

    10 Q. Was this the first concrete and clear

    11 reference to the crime in Ahmici, as far as you were

    12 concerned?

    13 A. Yes. This was the first letter and the first

    14 concrete linking of the village of Ahmici to the crime

    15 in the village of Ahmici. Upon receiving that letter,

    16 I called my associates, Mr. Slavko Marin and

    17 Mr. Saric. I read the letter out to them aloud, and I

    18 said that we would request a detailed investigation by

    19 the joint commission, and I checked once again with the

    20 head of operations and the assistant for information

    21 whether we had received any other information about the

    22 crime in the village of Ahmici, apart from this

    23 letter. Both of them told me that we had no other

    24 information, and I issued an order to the head of

    25 operations that he should prepare for me all the

  13. 1 documents from the 15th of April up to the 22nd of

    2 April, and place them in a separate file so that I

    3 could put them at the disposal of the representative of

    4 the joint commission, and for me to see once again, and

    5 check whether we had any information about the crime in

    6 the village of Ahmici.

    7 Q. Did you, at the time, have any other fact at

    8 your disposal, apart from the fact that eight people

    9 had been killed, as indicated in this letter?

    10 A. There was mention of this. In fact, an

    11 associate told me, "They are referring here to eight

    12 dead in Ahmici," and I said to him then, "If a single

    13 civilian has been killed, it is a crime, and if 100

    14 soldiers were killed in battle, in combat, then that is

    15 not a crime."

    16 Q. The next day, the 23rd of April, what

    17 happened then, early in the morning?

    18 A. I met with the chief of staff, who was also a

    19 representative in the joint commission, and with him, I

    20 read the letter that I had received from Mr. Bob

    21 Stewart, Colonel Bob Stewart, after which together --

    22 or, rather, I leafed through and examined the

    23 documents.

    24 Q. Why did you collect those documents? What

    25 was your purpose?

  14. 1 A. I collected those documents into a separate

    2 binder so that I could show it to Nakic and

    3 representatives in the commission when they carry out

    4 the investigation into the crime.

    5 Q. You're referring to the commission formed

    6 between the BH army and the HVO that we mentioned

    7 yesterday?

    8 A. No, not only representing the BH army and the

    9 HVO, but also in the commission, as members were

    10 representatives of the European Monitoring Mission.

    11 Q. Tell the Court, which documents did you

    12 collect? Which did you consider to be important for

    13 the needs of that commission?

    14 A. In that binder, I put all the orders dated

    15 from the 15th of April, 1993 until the 22nd of April,

    16 1993. All reports and all the other information, and

    17 all this was put in a separate binder, and I examined

    18 all those documents, together with the chief of staff,

    19 and while examining them, I established that the order

    20 dated 15th April, '93 at 10.00 was in my handwriting,

    21 and I gave it to the typists to type out. Later on, I

    22 signed that typed order.

    23 Q. Why did you have this order, dated the 15th,

    24 and which you read at the meeting of the 15th, in

    25 handwriting? Why did you have it typed out?

  15. 1 A. I had it typed out so that everyone who needs

    2 to could read that document, and anyway, we did type

    3 out all our orders on a typewriter.

    4 Q. When you gave this hand-written order on the

    5 23rd to be typed out, what were the markings used by

    6 the typist? How did she mark the order?

    7 A. She typed the order, and probably routinely,

    8 she put the date the 23rd of April, as well as the

    9 registration number.

    10 Q. Which number did she use, from which date?

    11 A. I assume from the 23rd.

    12 Q. Did she enter it into the logbook?

    13 A. Yes. She put in the registration number of

    14 the 23rd of April because the date on the order was the

    15 23rd of April.

    16 Q. Did you make any corrections on that order?

    17 A. Yes. I corrected the date to the 15th of

    18 April. I signed that order. I put it together with

    19 the original in handwriting in a separate cover.

    20 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Was it an ordinary

    21 manual typewriter or was it a word processing kind of

    22 typewriter?

    23 A. Mr. Judge, this was a regular typewriter. It

    24 wasn't a computer, and I don't know what brand the

    25 typewriter was.

  16. 1 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: The brand is not

    2 important, no.

    3 MR. NOBILO: We have these orders, sir, and

    4 we also have some documents under seal, but we'll go

    5 back to that after the break, perhaps, but now we would

    6 like to know, chronologically, what had been happening,

    7 and then we're going to show what actually happened.

    8 Q. Now I would like to know whether you reacted

    9 to Stewart's letter --

    10 JUDGE JORDA: I would like a clarification,

    11 please. Many things have been said for the past

    12 several days. I would like for General Blaskic to make

    13 it very clear. This was the first time that you heard

    14 anybody saying anything about Ahmici; is that correct?

    15 That was the first time?

    16 A. Yes, Mr. President. That was the first time

    17 that I was faced with the concrete name of the village,

    18 and with eight victims, and that was the first

    19 information that I received from Colonel Stewart.

    20 JUDGE JORDA: From Colonel Stewart, yes, I

    21 understand that, General Blaskic. What I'm asking you

    22 is to tell us specifically whether this was the first

    23 time that you had heard something spoken about Ahmici

    24 and what happened? That was the 22nd of April; is that

    25 correct?

  17. 1 A. Mr. President, there are two questions there,

    2 as far as I'm concerned. I first heard Ahmici being

    3 mentioned in this letter, but as far as the suffering

    4 of civilians is concerned, I first heard about that on

    5 the 20th of April, 1993 at the meeting in Zenica, when

    6 Demo Merdan, in a heated debate, got up and said, "And

    7 you down there killed people, and there are civilians

    8 among them, people who were killed and who were thrown

    9 into the ditch by the road," and he said that about 500

    10 people had been killed. He either said "hundreds of

    11 people" or "500 people." Then I said, "Dzemo, if that

    12 is what you are asserting, then I suggest that the

    13 joint commission carry out an investigation and inform

    14 us of the findings of this investigation."

    15 After that, as I said yesterday, Mr. Ejub

    16 Ganic spoke and said, "Let us, the commanders, now

    17 agree on a cease-fire. Let us leave the victims aside

    18 now."

    19 Q. Probably this is important, Ahmici, the

    20 victims of Ahmici. Is Stewart's letter of the 22nd the

    21 first information you received specifically about the

    22 victims in Ahmici?

    23 A. Yes. And with your permission, Your Honours,

    24 when I received the letter and when I read the letter,

    25 I called two associates of mine that I had there

  18. 1 available, that is to say, the chief of the operations

    2 department, who is responsible for all information and

    3 for all combat and non-combat orders, and the deputy

    4 head of the information department, and I asked them

    5 whether we had any information about the killings in

    6 Ahmici. They said that we did not receive any

    7 information about the killings of civilians in Ahmici.

    8 This was the first time that I was confronted with a

    9 specific village and with specific findings.

    10 MR. NOBILO: Now, could the witness please be

    11 given --

    12 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: May I ask this

    13 question: So after you received the letter, I think,

    14 on the 22nd, you asked your officers for any

    15 information about what might or might not have taken

    16 place at Ahmici; am I right?

    17 A. My reaction after the letter was, "Do we have

    18 any kind of information in connection with the

    19 allegations made in the letter?"

    20 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: What I want to ask you

    21 is this: You received some information two days

    22 before, when you were at Zenica, from Dzemo. Between

    23 the 20th and the 22nd, did you ask any of your officers

    24 whether they had any information as to what might or

    25 might not have transpired at Ahmici?

  19. 1 A. Your Honour, on the 20th of April, late in

    2 the evening, perhaps after 23.00, when I returned to

    3 headquarters, I told them about the content of the

    4 meeting and especially with Dzemo Merdan's assertion,

    5 and I put this same question to the members of the

    6 command, and I got the same answer, that is to say, I

    7 checked after 23.00 on the 20th of April.

    8 MR. NOBILO: I would like 456/7 (sic), this

    9 is a Prosecution Exhibit, and that is the witness's

    10 reply to Bob Stewart. Fifty-seven. I'm talking about

    11 456/57.

    12 First, we're going to read the letter, and

    13 then we are going to discuss the circumstances under

    14 which the letter was written. I'm going to ask my

    15 colleague, Mr. Hayman, to read it, because I'm sure he

    16 is going to do it better than I could.

    17 MR. HAYMAN: There is a registration number,

    18 "Vitez, April 23, 1993. UNPROFOR. Lieutenant Colonel

    19 Robert Stewart, BritBat commander.

    20 1. I am ready to send immediately the

    21 investigation commission to the village of Ahmici, as

    22 well as to all other places that need," and there's a

    23 "T," I don't know what the next letter is after T,

    24 perhaps it's -- I don't know what the next letter is

    25 after "T", perhaps it's "To be investigated," but the

  20. 1 right-hand margin has been cut off, "Because of

    2 gathering facts about all the innocent victims," word

    3 missing, "this conflict.

    4 I myself beg you to help us stop this

    5 suffering and make the," word missing, "adequate

    6 conditions for the commission to work properly.

    7 As stated by both ABiH and HVO, everybody

    8 seems to be right," word missing, I think, and

    9 then, "smaller fights are still going on,

    10 threatening to grow into the TO," perhaps

    11 total, "catastrophe and disaster for all the people of

    12 this region.

    13 2. I suggest that a new meeting is urgently

    14 summoned between the," and then there's the letter "A",

    15 perhaps "ABiH", "head of staff and the HVO head of

    16 staff, together with the commanders of HVO Operative

    17 Zone, Middle Bosnia, and the commander of the 3rd

    18 Corps, A," perhaps "ABiH", "since I think it might

    19 prevent this from growing into even worse," "disa",

    20 perhaps "disaster", "which would be totally out of

    21 anybody's control.

    22 3. I consider you to be an utterly

    23 honourable and profession, SOL," perhaps "soldier",

    24 "which gives me the cause to beg you as a man,"

    25 perhaps "as a man begs", although, it appears to

  21. 1 "bege", "a man, please intervene," apparently

    2 "intervene", "in our further negotiations, together

    3 with Mr. Thebault.

    4 Thankful in advance, with respect," and then

    5 it appears to be signed for Colonel Tihomir Blaskic,

    6 with the stamp of the Operative Zone.

    7 MR. NOBILO: Thank you.

    8 Q. Tell me, Colonel -- sorry, General, at that

    9 time, you were a Colonel. We just read the letter that

    10 you wrote at that time, and is my impression correct,

    11 that this is a highly emotionally charged letter?

    12 Could I ask you what kind of feelings you had at that

    13 time? You're using very strong words. You're telling

    14 Bob Stewart, "I'm asking you as a man. I beg you," et

    15 cetera. Could you explain your feelings at the time

    16 you wrote this letter?

    17 A. I wrote two letters to Colonel Stewart. This

    18 is the first letter I wrote. Unfortunately, I do not

    19 have a copy of the other letter. Perhaps he has it. I

    20 certainly was upset by the letter I got from him,

    21 because it was the first time I faced a true atrocity

    22 and suffering, and I wrote this letter in the

    23 afternoon, I think it was on the 23rd, I had it

    24 translated, and I expected assistance in carrying out

    25 both the agreement and the investigation.

  22. 1 Q. You say here that you are prepared to send an

    2 investigating commission to the village of Ahmici

    3 straightaway?

    4 A. Yes.

    5 Q. And you are asking Bob Stewart to take part.

    6 Why did you ask for the international commission to

    7 take part? Why did you not opt for an internal

    8 commission? What were the reasons that you were guided

    9 by?

    10 A. Later on, I explained my point of view, both

    11 to Colonel Stewart and to Mr. Thebault, that it is

    12 precisely for the sake of the objectivity of the

    13 findings and an easier way to find the truth concerning

    14 this suffering, and also to have a more expert approach

    15 to the investigation itself, I'm asking that other

    16 institutions be involved as well, but primarily the

    17 representatives of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina and

    18 other institutions like the European Monitoring

    19 Mission, the International Red Cross, so that the

    20 results would be as objective as possible and the

    21 investigation as comprehensive as possible.

    22 Q. In point 2, why did you suggest that a new

    23 meeting be organised, and why should Sefer Halilovic,

    24 head of the general staff of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and

    25 Petkovic, head of the main staff of the HVO, you're not

  23. 1 mentioning their names, but you're giving their posts,

    2 and also you as the commander of the Operative Zone,

    3 why were you trying for this to be investigated at the

    4 highest level possible? What was the underlying idea?

    5 A. This was a crime that certainly merited a

    6 certain meeting of the top military officials in order

    7 to organise and carry out an investigation, but it is

    8 certain that that would guarantee a comprehensive

    9 investigation and would give my own efforts far greater

    10 strength.

    11 Q. What is your opinion? What was your opinion

    12 then and what is your opinion today? Had they listened

    13 to you, had Bob Stewart taken part, had the main

    14 commanders of the BH army, Halilovic; and Petkovic; and

    15 Hadzihasanovic, the commander of the 3rd Corps; and

    16 you, had the investigation at Ahmici been started from

    17 that level, do you think that you would have

    18 established far sooner what happened in Ahmici, and do

    19 you think that you would have brought the perpetrators

    20 to justice? What do you think now, after all?

    21 A. I was convinced that we would come to the

    22 truth, not in terms of what had happened and who did

    23 this, but also in terms of who ordered civilians to be

    24 killed.

    25 Q. Did you feel then that you would not be

  24. 1 efficient enough? Were you concerned about efficiency,

    2 knowing all the problems that you had in your

    3 establishment?

    4 A. Yes. I felt that there would be problems

    5 with a lack of efficiency, and I would like to say that

    6 I was also surprised. If any of the participants in

    7 the meeting of the 21st of April knew anything that had

    8 happened in Ahmici, why did the two top representatives

    9 of the two armies not go to see Ahmici together? Why

    10 did they go by Ahmici and go to Kula and Busovaca?

    11 Today, I think that it was far more necessary for them

    12 to visit Ahmici, rather than one of the defence lines

    13 at the front.

    14 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: General, I take it that

    15 at that, some time, you yourself visited Ahmici; is

    16 that correct?

    17 A. Until then, I had not been by Ahmici, but,

    18 Your Honour, later, I shall speak about this. It was

    19 impossible to enter Ahmici because the front line was

    20 at Ahmici at the time, and as one of the points in the

    21 agreement of the 21st of April, we signed an agreement

    22 on the separation of the confronted forces of the army

    23 and the HVO so that this space would be empty, that is

    24 to say, that there would not be any combat units there,

    25 which would make it easier to carry out an

  25. 1 investigation later.

    2 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: When was the first time

    3 that you yourself visited Ahmici?

    4 A. I think it was on the 26th or 27th, a day or

    5 two later.

    6 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: How far is Ahmici from

    7 the Hotel Vitez?

    8 A. Ahmici was three kilometres away, but at that

    9 time, it was as if it was 333 kilometres away. Your

    10 Honour, we did not have a road that led to Ahmici at

    11 the time. You had to go to Ahmici on foot. I did go,

    12 but not precisely on that day because the problem of

    13 distance is not the same in peacetime as it is in

    14 wartime. It depends on who holds the road. It is true

    15 that it is three kilometres away, but at that time, it

    16 was practically inaccessible.

    17 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: As a military man, were

    18 you able to make any assessment of the types of

    19 explosive power that must have been used at Ahmici?

    20 A. Well, later, yes. Later, yes, when I saw --

    21 well, perhaps before the 27th or on the 27th of April,

    22 it was the first time that I saw this great

    23 destruction, from my point of view too, great.

    24 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Would that explosive

    25 power, which was used at Ahmici, have been audible at

  26. 1 Vitez?

    2 A. Well, if it were used only in Ahmici, then it

    3 is probable that it would have been audible, but when

    4 it is used at all positions, then you can hear the

    5 noise, but it's difficult to orient yourself as to

    6 where and from where.

    7 MR. NOBILO:

    8 Q. Tell me, from your hotel to Ahmici, was the

    9 road under fire? Was Ahmici under fire of the army of

    10 Bosnia-Herzegovina on the day of the 16th, 17th, 18th,

    11 19th, all the way up to the 22nd of April?

    12 A. Until the Washington Accords were signed, the

    13 position of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina was 50

    14 metres off the main road between Vitez and Busovaca, in

    15 the village of Dzidica Kuce. From that position, a

    16 member of the negotiating commission, the joint

    17 commission, Zoran Mravak from Busovaca, was killed. He

    18 was together with Nakic and Merdan in the negotiating

    19 commission.

    20 And 50 metres above the village of Ahmici was

    21 also a firing position, the front line 50 metres away

    22 from the last house in the village, because the slope

    23 above the village was under control of the army of

    24 Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the village is below,

    25 underneath.

  27. 1 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo, I'd like a

    2 clarification, because we're now at the very heart of

    3 the basic issue of this trial. Ahmici was, therefore,

    4 the front line. That was a front line. It was an

    5 important strategic point; is that correct?

    6 A. If we're talking only about the village, the

    7 village was an empty village at that time, and the

    8 front line went just by the village. The village is in

    9 a valley, but the front line is right above the

    10 village.

    11 JUDGE JORDA: But there were some people

    12 there, people had been killed. It was not completely

    13 deserted, I suppose. There were some people there.

    14 A. Mr. President, I don't know what date we're

    15 speaking about.

    16 JUDGE JORDA: Well, my question is, when on

    17 the 22nd of April you met to speak about help from

    18 Colonel Stewart, you had a meeting with Slavko Marin,

    19 who was the chief of your operations, you have stated.

    20 Therefore, he was the one who was commanding all

    21 operations in your name. Did he do nothing about

    22 Ahmici; is that what you're saying?

    23 A. He knew nothing about the atrocity that was

    24 committed, about the burned houses and the eight

    25 corpses of civilians who were killed, and that's what

  28. 1 the letter described.

    2 JUDGE JORDA: But did you have units? You,

    3 as the chief of staff, were HVO units engaged at that

    4 specific point of the front line?

    5 A. At part of the front line, I did have units,

    6 and I was aware of what unit was engaged at that part

    7 of the front line.

    8 JUDGE JORDA: So Slavko Marin and you knew,

    9 first, that there were units on that front line, and

    10 that the units were in Ahmici and about which you say

    11 was an important village, that is, that Ahmici was an

    12 important village.

    13 A. I knew where units were engaged, and this

    14 included the village of Ahmici.

    15 JUDGE JORDA: Therefore, when Colonel Stewart

    16 wrote to you, you were very surprised, but you could

    17 consider that, in fact, your units, at least some of

    18 them, might have committed those crimes?

    19 A. I was aware that some individuals from that

    20 unit had probably committed those crimes, but some

    21 individuals from that unit. I was also aware that I

    22 did not receive a report from the commander of the

    23 unit, either orally or in writing, about this.

    24 JUDGE JORDA: Had you imagined or did you

    25 imagine that Slavko Marin might have hidden something?

  29. 1 A. Mr. President, I hardly ever doubted my

    2 immediate associates, but that is why I asked to see

    3 everything that had arrived. Generally speaking, all

    4 information that we had received between the 15th and

    5 the 22nd of April, and to establish a special file, and

    6 I openly asked for this file to be made accessible to

    7 Nakic as my representative in the commission and all

    8 members of the joint commission.

    9 JUDGE RODRIGUES: General Blaskic, we already

    10 know that you did not know beforehand that the crime

    11 had been committed in Ahmici, but you knew that there

    12 were HVO soldiers on that front line. Did you at least

    13 know that there was fighting?

    14 A. Yes. Yes, I knew there was fighting between

    15 the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the units of the army

    16 of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the HVO at that part of the

    17 front. I knew about the combat.

    18 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Therefore, when you

    19 received the letter from Colonel Stewart, what thoughts

    20 ran through your mind? You knew that there had been

    21 fighting. Did you have some kind of idea of who had

    22 committed those crimes? What was your first reaction

    23 from that point of view?

    24 A. My first reaction was that I was horrified by

    25 what had happened. It was not only my first reaction.

  30. 1 Your Honour, that state of mind prevailed for a longer

    2 period of time, and I'm sure that my associates saw it

    3 too. Never before, and fortunately never afterwards,

    4 had I been confronted with such an atrocity, and I was

    5 aware of what unit was at that part of the front line.

    6 I knew what unit it was, but that is not a small area.

    7 Whether it was individuals from that unit who did it or

    8 from the next unit, that, I did not know precisely, but

    9 I did know which unit was at that part of the front

    10 line, and that was the first information that I had

    11 received, and I was aware of that.

    12 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, General.

    13 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: One little question,

    14 General. On the 20th of April, Dzemo and you had a

    15 discussion in Zenica, and in the course of that

    16 discussion, Dzemo alleged, angrily, I believe, that

    17 hundreds of civilians had been killed at Ahmici. I

    18 think you said he might have said 500.

    19 A. Your Honour, Dzemo -- at least I do not

    20 remember that he precisely mentioned the village, but I

    21 had already repeated this. He did say this angrily.

    22 Dzemo is a calm man otherwise. I know him. He got up

    23 and he took the floor just like that, and I don't know

    24 whether he ever did that before. He said, "Look, you

    25 have killed hundreds of people down there. There are

  31. 1 civilians there too. In the ditch by the road, there

    2 are 500 people who were killed," and he sat down.

    3 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Did you understand where

    4 was the ditch of which he was speaking?

    5 A. I assumed that this might have been in the

    6 area of Ahmici, and it is precisely that this ditch

    7 that he mentioned -- I made this association in my

    8 mind, because he said, "Down there by the road." But

    9 also the figure of 500 people, Your Honour, it seemed

    10 exaggerated to me at that point in time. I was

    11 surprised.

    12 I was not at the meeting only until 8.15. I

    13 was there perhaps until 20.00 or 19.30, but after that,

    14 we did not discuss that issue at all, and not a single

    15 person present had brought up the matter again.

    16 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: You had known Dzemo for

    17 a long time; is that right?

    18 A. Yes.

    19 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Did you consider that

    20 the allegations which he was making were serious

    21 allegations if correct?

    22 A. Yes, I did, and I offered that the joint

    23 commission investigate these serious allegations,

    24 precisely, and that is what I told the head of the main

    25 staff who was sitting next to me, and I also said it

  32. 1 out loud to all the participants in the meeting.

    2 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Did you think they were

    3 worthy of unilaterally organised investigations on your

    4 part to be made immediately?

    5 A. Well, at that point in time, when Dzemo was

    6 saying this, I assumed that something, indeed, had

    7 happened, and that is why I told my associates and I

    8 tried to have the conflict stopped. It is certain that

    9 these people merited a unilateral investigation too,

    10 but I stated my views in the letter as well. At that

    11 time, the results of such an investigation would not

    12 have been acceptable to both sides, as it would have

    13 been had the investigation been carried out by both

    14 sides, because the joint investigation -- the joint

    15 commission carried out investigations in the January

    16 conflict of 1993 too, and I had expected that this idea

    17 of investigation by the joint commission would have

    18 been accepted.

    19 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, perhaps this is a

    20 good time to break. We can finish with this issue.

    21 JUDGE JORDA: We will take a 20-minute

    22 break. The Court stands suspended.

    23 --- Recess taken at 11.15 a.m.

    24 --- On resuming at 11.41 a.m.

    25 JUDGE JORDA: We can now resume the hearing.

  33. 1 Please be seated.

    2 We can resume now, Mr. Nobilo.

    3 MR. NOBILO: Thank you.

    4 Q. As we have touched upon the issue of the

    5 meeting in Zenica and your return from Zenica in the

    6 night, around 23.00, on the 20th of April, 1993, did

    7 you have the chance on the 21st, and the conditions, to

    8 carry out an investigation in Ahmici?

    9 A. Your Honour, I didn't have such an

    10 opportunity because the fighting had not ceased. The

    11 cease-fire was not being observed, and that was the

    12 first matter discussed at the meeting in Nova Bila on

    13 the 21st of April, '93.

    14 Q. You said that when Merdan said that there

    15 were dead civilians along the side and that you had

    16 killed 500 civilians, that you took it seriously and

    17 you offered an investigation, could you explain to

    18 Their Honours what additional information you received

    19 and how you reacted to this problem in connection with

    20 Merdan's allegations?

    21 A. I did take those allegations seriously, but

    22 later throughout that meeting, that is, the part of the

    23 meeting at which I was present, I was surprised to see

    24 that no one raised the matter again. No one discussed

    25 my offer nor Merdan's allegations. The commander of

  34. 1 the 3rd Corps of the BH army, Mr. Enver Hadzihasanovic,

    2 from Zenica was there, and all the others were present,

    3 and I was surprised that this question never appeared

    4 again.

    5 Q. This allegation made by Merdan, was it an

    6 official agenda item or was it a remark made in

    7 passing?

    8 A. It was not an official topic of discussion at

    9 the meeting. The official topic had been announced by

    10 General Morillon, and it was the implementation of the

    11 cease-fire agreement signed previously and, above all,

    12 a cease-fire, a cessation of activities.

    13 Q. What do you think, on the basis of your

    14 experiences about negotiations between the HVO and the

    15 BH army, and especially in the presence of General

    16 Morillon, would it be possible to gloss over such an

    17 allegation and not put it on the agenda? If such an

    18 allegation was truthful and convincing, wouldn't it

    19 have dominated the meeting? If that allegation had

    20 been seriously taken by everyone, what course would the

    21 meeting have taken?

    22 A. It was hard for me to understand, and it

    23 still is to this day. If the 3rd Corps had such

    24 information of such scope, I'm surprised that this

    25 matter was not the main topic of discussion. If it had

  35. 1 been, then probably the results would have been

    2 different.

    3 Q. What was the information that you collected

    4 from your staff, and what did you know about the events

    5 in this sector of Ahmici? Were they similar to those

    6 of Merdan or were they quite the opposite?

    7 A. I did have such information. The information

    8 was that combat operations were ongoing, but Merdan's

    9 report and the reports that I had contradicted one

    10 another, especially regarding the number of casualties

    11 because 500 or hundreds of people killed, this number

    12 cast a certain doubt as to its truthfulness.

    13 Q. Tell the Court, in connection with the letter

    14 you sent to Stewart on the 22nd --

    15 A. On the 23rd.

    16 Q. Yes. You received it on the 22nd. You sent

    17 it on the 23rd. What was another reason why you

    18 couldn't immediately order the customary police body to

    19 investigate the crime in Ahmici? What caused

    20 additional difficulties for you?

    21 A. An additional source of difficulty was an

    22 error in the structure and relationship between me and

    23 the military police, also the fact that combat

    24 operations had not ceased, it is impossible to enter

    25 the area where fighting is ongoing, and certainly I

  36. 1 couldn't ask the military police to conduct an

    2 investigation in that area if it was there already,

    3 because then the results of the investigation would not

    4 be trustworthy.

    5 Q. Are you trying to say that the military

    6 police, which was expected to conduct the

    7 investigation, was potentially under suspicion?

    8 MR. KEHOE: Excuse me.

    9 MR. NOBILO: I withdraw that question.

    10 MR. KEHOE: Thank you. What I'm objecting

    11 to, Mr. Nobilo, is a preparatory language to a question

    12 that --

    13 JUDGE JORDA: Now you haven't even completed

    14 your objection and the Defence has accepted that.

    15 MR. KEHOE: I generally like those results,

    16 Your Honour. Nevertheless, as a measure to prevent

    17 such questions as we move into this area, questions

    18 beginning with "are you trying to say" whatever,

    19 generally I think we lose spontaneity with those kinds

    20 of questions.

    21 MR. NOBILO: I withdraw the question, but I

    22 see it wasn't translated properly. So for two reasons,

    23 I will put the question differently because the

    24 translation was wrong.

    25 Q. Who, in your opinion, or members of which

  37. 1 forces were potentially suspected of committing the

    2 atrocity in Ahmici on the basis of what you knew on the

    3 22nd and 23rd of April? Members of which unit were

    4 potential suspects?

    5 A. I assume it was members of the military

    6 police because they were in that area.

    7 Q. Remind Their Honours when members of the

    8 military police reported to you on the 16th of April.

    9 A. At 11.42.

    10 Q. And from those and all subsequent reports,

    11 what were the conclusions that you could make regarding

    12 the civilian casualties? Could you make any

    13 conclusions regarding civilian casualties?

    14 JUDGE JORDA: I think I'm not sure of that

    15 report. Do you have it? Could you give us the

    16 number? I would like to take a look at that report.

    17 MR. HAYMAN: D280, Mr. President, was the

    18 written report. The report at 11.42 was a phone call

    19 which the witness has already testified. The answer

    20 wasn't recorded in the transcript. We need to go back

    21 to that question. The witness said "No." There is no

    22 answer in the question.

    23 MR. NOBILO: Let me repeat the question.

    24 Q. I asked whether from --

    25 MR. KEHOE: If I may just interrupt.

  38. 1 Mr. President, just voicing a concern of the court

    2 reporter. While the court reporter is facing this way,

    3 she's asking us to slow down a little bit. I don't

    4 mean to speak for you, Madam Court Reporter, but I know

    5 that's what you were saying.

    6 MR. NOBILO: Yes, we accept.

    7 JUDGE JORDA: You're an excellent lawyer and

    8 a good Defence counsel for the court reporters. I

    9 think that's very good. While the registrar is looking

    10 for Exhibit 280, please ask your question, and then we

    11 can get the answer.

    12 MR. NOBILO:

    13 Q. Let me repeat the question, because your

    14 answer does not appear in the transcript. From the

    15 reports you received orally, starting from 11.42 on the

    16 16th of April from the military police, including the

    17 written report, Defence Exhibit D280, from those

    18 reports of the military police fighting in Ahmici,

    19 could you make any conclusions regarding civilian

    20 casualties?

    21 A. No.

    22 Q. And did you have any grounds to suspect that

    23 there were any civilian casualties?

    24 A. Until I received this information from Dzemo

    25 Merdan and the letter from Colonel Stewart, no.

  39. 1 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: You had known Dzemo

    2 Merdan for some time. For how long?

    3 A. If I remember correctly, since August 1992.

    4 I knew him from then until the Washington Agreement,

    5 and I still know him, in fact.

    6 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: You now found yourselves

    7 on opposite sides of the fence, as it were.

    8 A. Yes. We were on two different sides.

    9 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Am I right in

    10 understanding you to mean that it was uncharacteristic

    11 for Dzemo to get up and make an angry statement?

    12 A. That statement did provoke a reaction from

    13 me, and it was unusual for a meeting of that kind, but

    14 I also found it strange that, after that statement, the

    15 meeting took a completely different course, and no one,

    16 not even the 3rd Corps commander with whom I spent a

    17 half hour separately, never raised the matter.

    18 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: I'm asking you to focus

    19 a little on the discussions in Zenica on the 20th. Was

    20 it your impression that Dzemo himself believed or that

    21 he did not believe the allegations which he was making?

    22 A. As far as I can recollect now, the meeting

    23 started by mutual recriminations as to who was to blame

    24 for what. "You did this," and then representatives of

    25 the army would say, "But you did that." In the course

  40. 1 of such a debate, Dzemo got up and made this

    2 allegation.

    3 I had expected, at first, that the meeting

    4 would then concentrate on a discussion of this

    5 allegation, but I was surprised to see that no one

    6 raised the matter again.

    7 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: I think you said you got

    8 some information from your own officers.

    9 A. Upon my return from the meeting, I asked. I

    10 asked -- actually, I conveyed to them Dzemo's

    11 allegations, and I received quite opposite information

    12 from them. They said that they didn't have any such

    13 information and that they have no information that

    14 would correspond in any sense to what Dzemo had said.

    15 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Am I right that at one

    16 stage you received some information but that it was to

    17 the effect that the size of any killings at Ahmici was

    18 less than it was represented to you by Dzemo?

    19 A. Your Honours, as far as I can remember, Dzemo

    20 said, "You down there," when you say "down there," and

    21 you're in Zenica, you're referring to the area of

    22 Vitez. He didn't specifically mention the village of

    23 Ahmici. The first letter I received mentioning this

    24 specific village was the one that I received in Colonel

    25 Stewart.

  41. 1 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: One last question: From

    2 the point of view of any obligation which you had to

    3 investigate, did it matter to you whether 500 people

    4 were killed or 100 were killed?

    5 A. It was important for me to get information,

    6 even if a single civilian was involved, and when I

    7 learnt that eight civilians were killed, to me, it's

    8 the same -- or, rather, it's not the same, but it's my

    9 obligation to conduct an investigation.

    10 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: I understand. Thank

    11 you.

    12 JUDGE JORDA: Judge Rodrigues?

    13 JUDGE RODRIGUES: General Blaskic, I would

    14 like to know whether I understood the idea correctly.

    15 I believe that the General was also preoccupied by

    16 joint defence with the BH army; is that correct? You

    17 were always concerned, you were always preoccupied,

    18 about having defensive coordination against the Serbs,

    19 that is, that there should be coordination between the

    20 HVO and the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina; is that

    21 correct?

    22 A. Your Honour, if I understood correctly, I

    23 didn't quite understand which period you were referring

    24 to. We did have coordination, and we also had joint

    25 operations. I don't know which period you're referring

  42. 1 to. Perhaps the translation is not quite correct.

    2 JUDGE RODRIGUES: From the time that you

    3 arrived in Bosnia to organise the defence at Kiseljak,

    4 et cetera, you were always preoccupied about working

    5 with the Bosnia-Herzegovina army; is that correct?

    6 A. Yes. Not only did I act in that direction,

    7 but I toured those positions. I spent a lot of time in

    8 Maglaj, for instance, which is a Muslim town.

    9 JUDGE RODRIGUES: I understood that at some

    10 point you began to have -- to be somewhat weary about

    11 the actions taken by the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina,

    12 that it was sort of, in my thoughts, the second step.

    13 A. Yes. That was the second period.

    14 JUDGE RODRIGUES: All right. Now, here's my

    15 question: Is it possible to tell us when you were

    16 convinced that there really was a war between the HVO

    17 and the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina? Can you tell us at

    18 what point, at what moment, you arrived at that

    19 conclusion, that you were convinced of that?

    20 A. I'd be glad to do that, Your Honour. After

    21 failure to implement the signed agreement from Zenica

    22 and the signed agreement from Nova Bila, I regret that

    23 I didn't show you yesterday on the relief what our idea

    24 was on the basis of the agreement in Nova Bila. I'm

    25 convinced that if we had implemented that agreement

  43. 1 from Nova Bila, the investigation would have been

    2 completed and there would have been no trial, at least

    3 not here.

    4 If I may just add, in March 1993, by my

    5 orders, the ammunition and what equipment we had was

    6 sent to assist the defences of Visoko by the BH army,

    7 and the wounded Marko Prskalo said to me, "They are

    8 paying us back for your ammunition by shooting at us."

    9 JUDGE RODRIGUES: My other question is the

    10 following: I understand very clearly that you were

    11 proposing that they set up joint commissions for

    12 investigations during the first period, but at the very

    13 moment when you were convinced that there was a war,

    14 does it make sense to set up a joint commission to

    15 carry out an investigation?

    16 A. Your Honours, I'm a member of the joint

    17 command and the commander of the 3rd Corps, and at the

    18 level of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, my chief of

    19 staff and the chief of staff of the BH army have the

    20 joint command headquarters in Zenica and in Mostar, the

    21 joint command of the armed forces of

    22 Bosnia-Herzegovina. All incidents from January and

    23 April were addressed by the joint commission consisting

    24 of representatives of the BH army, the HVO, and the

    25 European Monitoring Mission.

  44. 1 I personally believed that this joint

    2 commission would continue their investigations.

    3 Dusina, Lasva, Visnjica, these were places toured by

    4 the joint commission. These are the sites of the

    5 January conflict.

    6 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you.

    7 JUDGE JORDA: What prevented you on the --

    8 well, you received the letter from Colonel Stewart on

    9 the 22nd of April. That's what the later is dated,

    10 April 22nd.

    11 A. The 22nd, Mr. President.

    12 JUDGE JORDA: What prevented you, General

    13 Blaskic, when you met with Slavko Marin, if I've

    14 understood what you've just told us, you said that you

    15 knew that the military police was the formation in the

    16 sector. Secondly, the sector was operational. Third,

    17 Slavko Marin was the chief of the operations.

    18 Did you issue an order to the commander of

    19 the brigades and units that were in the sector saying,

    20 "I have learned that there were incidents in Ahmici,

    21 and that within an hour I want to receive a report,"

    22 because even if you were a part of the joint

    23 commission, for the reasons that you've just explained

    24 to each of my colleagues, you were not unaware of the

    25 fact that the joint commission, at some point, would

  45. 1 ask you for a report?

    2 Did you issue an order to the commander of

    3 the units who were on the front, Slavko Marin, to say,

    4 "I have just learned that apparently there have been

    5 atrocities committed, and within an hour, within an

    6 hour, two hours, I want a report on what happened"?

    7 Did you do that?

    8 A. I sent an order for an investigation on the

    9 24th of April, an order for an investigation to the

    10 assistant of security, the 24th of April, '93, at a

    11 briefing that I had. An order for a report on the

    12 civilian casualties was dated the 18th of April, '93,

    13 requiring reports on all casualties, and I asked Slavko

    14 Marin to insist on a report being delivered on the

    15 basis of that order, and if we have a copy, we will see

    16 that one of the points on that order is a request for

    17 reports by all subordinates.

    18 JUDGE JORDA: You did that on the 24th of

    19 April; is that correct?

    20 A. Yes.

    21 JUDGE JORDA: The 24th.

    22 A. On the 21st, I was at the meeting.

    23 JUDGE JORDA: No. I'm speaking about after

    24 your meeting with Slavko Marin. For several days,

    25 you've been saying that you've been sending out orders

  46. 1 almost every minute. Why did you wait until the 24th?

    2 A. I didn't wait. I was working on this letter

    3 on the 23rd and on arranging the documents, collecting

    4 the documents. Your Honour, on the 23rd, I checked

    5 through all the documents from the 15th up to the 22nd,

    6 all reports of my subordinates, and when I saw that in

    7 those reports there was nothing, on the 24th I issued

    8 an order to my assistant for security to carry out an

    9 investigation.

    10 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. Mr. Nobilo, please

    11 proceed.

    12 MR. NOBILO:

    13 Q. Tell us, after receiving this letter from

    14 Stewart, why didn't you ask for a report from the

    15 commander of the military police? What was the reason

    16 for that?

    17 A. I didn't receive from him any complete or

    18 comprehensive report by the 23rd, and probably I would

    19 have received a similar incomplete report on the 24th.

    20 Q. Did you check his report of the 16th?

    21 A. I could check it and compare it with the

    22 information that I received, and I doubt that his

    23 reports were correct. In fact, I knew that they were

    24 incorrect.

    25 Q. In a situation when a commander is lying to

  47. 1 you and supplying you with incorrect information, what

    2 can you do?

    3 A. That is why I gave instructions to the

    4 assistant for security, who I thought had a position of

    5 control over the military police, to carry out an

    6 investigation.

    7 Q. Tell us, what are the competencies of the

    8 Security and Information Service in relation to the

    9 military police, which has already supplied you with a

    10 false report? What are his competencies?

    11 A. This is the only service that has any

    12 superior position over the military police. It is

    13 responsible for security for the whole area under the

    14 control of the HVO.

    15 Q. In the military organisation, can anyone else

    16 in the Operational Zone of Central Bosnia carry out

    17 investigations within military police ranks?

    18 A. No. Only the military police and the

    19 security service which is superior to the military

    20 police.

    21 Q. Tell us please, at the time, and we're

    22 referring to the period of the 20th, 22nd of April, you

    23 already had an agreement set up by the joint

    24 commission.

    25 A. Yes. The commission was set up on the 21st

  48. 1 of April, 1993 in Nova Bila.

    2 Q. So you had an agreement on the establishment

    3 of a joint commission; is that correct?

    4 A. Yes.

    5 Q. So when you're addressing the joint

    6 commission, it's not any new joint commission?

    7 A. No. I'm asking that the existing joint

    8 commission, that already existed and had been

    9 established, should undertake the investigation.

    10 Q. As a military man, when you realise that the

    11 military police commander has sent you a false report,

    12 would there be any sense in asking that same commander

    13 to conduct an investigation?

    14 A. When I realise that I have false reports, and

    15 when I know that I do not have the authority to replace

    16 that commander, and when I'm aware of all my

    17 limitations and constraints, I see no sense in

    18 continuing to cooperate with that commander and ask him

    19 to report.

    20 Q. What do you do then?

    21 A. I gave instructions to the assistant for

    22 security to undertake the investigation.

    23 Q. Let us, for a moment, move on to a different

    24 topic, but we will be coming back to it in the

    25 chronology.

  49. 1 We have tried to link up Colonel Stewart's

    2 letter to you and your response to him. So we've

    3 skipped over a very important order of yours dated the

    4 22nd of April. It is Defence Exhibit D359. So could a

    5 copy be supplied to the witness, please?

    6 This is your order dated the 22nd of April,

    7 1993, 13.00 hours, and it's entitled "Treatment of

    8 Citizens' Personal Property." I'm reading the text

    9 now:

    10 "In order to stop arson attacks on houses

    11 and business premises, as well as the looting of

    12 property, I hereby order:

    13 1. On the territory of the area of

    14 responsibility of the Central Bosnia Operative Zone

    15 command controlled by the HVO," and now all of this in

    16 capital letters, "I MOST STRICTLY FORBID the torching

    17 of houses, and business premises, and the looting of

    18 property.

    19 2. The commanders of brigade and independent

    20 units must issue this order to their subordinates, and

    21 make them responsible for stopping such misdeeds.

    22 3. Those who act in violation of this order

    23 are to be subject to the strictest measures in line

    24 with the rules on military discipline in HVO units.

    25 4. All members of HVO units are to be

  50. 1 informed of the content of this order, and the media is

    2 to be used in this regard too.

    3 5. This order shall take effect immediately,

    4 and commanders of brigade and independent units in the

    5 Central Bosnia Operative Zone are responsible to me for

    6 its execution.

    7 Commander Colonel Tihomir Blaskic. Stamped,

    8 sealed, signed."

    9 Tell me, General, in a well-established army,

    10 is it necessary, or is it acceptable to all to have an

    11 order issued that prohibits arson attacks on civilian

    12 houses?

    13 A. No. It is understood that that is not

    14 allowed.

    15 Q. Please explain what motivated you to issue

    16 this kind of an order and to order something which is

    17 prohibited by law anyway.

    18 A. This was certainly an attempt to stop these

    19 things, and I wanted to improve security, but I also

    20 wanted to take preventive action and to make it known

    21 to some that this was not permitted and that every

    22 effort should be made to stop this.

    23 Q. On the 22nd of April and these days, whose

    24 buildings were torched the most, those of what ethnic

    25 group?

  51. 1 A. Bosniak Muslim buildings were torched most

    2 often.

    3 MR. NOBILO: Thank you. Mr. President, we

    4 would now like to have a look at the document that is

    5 under seal, so could we please move into private

    6 session very briefly?

    7 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. All right. This will be

    8 a private session in order to discuss a document which

    9 is still under seal. I'm saying this for the public

    10 gallery. We're going to have a private session.

    11 Mr. Registrar, would you indicate to us when

    12 you're ready? Mr. Registrar?

    13 THE REGISTRAR: It's good.

    14 (Private session)

    15 (redacted)

    16 (redacted)

    17 (redacted)

    18 (redacted)

    19 (redacted)

    20 (redacted)

    21 (redacted)

    22 (redacted)

    23 (redacted)

    24 (redacted)

    25 (redacted)

  52. 1












    13 Pages 18952 to 18960 redacted – in private session













  1. 1 (Open session)

    2 JUDGE JORDA: All right. We will resume now

    3 for about ten more minutes.

    4 MR. NOBILO:

    5 Q. I think that we could now move on to the 24th

    6 of April, 1993. Can you describe how the morning

    7 started and all the way up to the meeting with

    8 Mr. Stewart?

    9 A. That morning, on the 24th of April, I had

    10 information that the road between Busovaca and Vitez

    11 was under sniper fire, under sniper fire by the army of

    12 Bosnia-Herzegovina, from Sljibcica, Barin Gaj, and

    13 above the village of Ahmici, north of the road mostly,

    14 and from Grbavica. Sometime around 13.00, Colonel

    15 Stewart came to my office, and I had a meeting with him

    16 until, perhaps, 14.00. At that time --

    17 Q. The Defence believes that that meeting is

    18 very important, we don't want to go into that right

    19 now, but we would like to have a look at document D360,

    20 your order issued on the 23rd of April, 1993 at 20.00,

    21 and then in the afternoon, we are going to analyse your

    22 meeting with Colonel Stewart.

    23 So this is your order to all subordinate

    24 units, dated the 23rd of April, 1993. This is Defence

    25 Exhibit 360. The heading is "Behaviour of HVO members

  2. 1 and the level of military discipline." The text:

    2 "Because of very strong condemnation from

    3 the International Community, and the media campaign

    4 that is being conducted against the HVO and the

    5 Croatian people, which have extremely negative

    6 consequences for the overall reputation of the HVO and

    7 the achievements of the Croatian people globally, and

    8 in order to prevent further destructive activities and

    9 fully implement the order of the chief of the HVO main

    10 headquarters, I hereby order;

    11 1. Execute order number 01-4-470/93 of the

    12 21st of April, 1993 in full. Responsible: Directly

    13 subordinate commanders. Deadline: Immediately.

    14 2. Ensure the full and unhindered passage of

    15 UN and ECMM vehicles, greeting them with the proper

    16 HVO military salute. Responsible: Immediate

    17 subordinate commanders. Deadline: Immediately.

    18 3. Once again, I urge you to behave in the

    19 most military fashion and respect military discipline;

    20 legal measures should be taken against those violating

    21 this order.

    22 4. I forbid most strictly all HVO units to

    23 carry out offensive actions, and isolated provocations

    24 by the BH army are not to be responded to.

    25 5. Open fire only in case of a direct attack

  3. 1 by Muslim forces, but only after an order is issued by

    2 the superior commanders about which the brigade

    3 commanders must inform me immediately.

    4 6. This order shall take effect immediately,

    5 and the commanders of all Central Bosnia Operative Zone

    6 units are responsible to me for its execution.

    7 Commander Colonel Tihomir Blaskic."

    8 If we analyse this order and if we look at

    9 the preamble where you are, on the one hand, invoking

    10 the international public and the condemnation of the

    11 HVO and, on the other hand, the command of the main

    12 staff, what is the reason why, at the beginning of this

    13 order, you invoked these two elements? For what

    14 purpose did you invoke the international public and the

    15 head of the main staff, the chief of the main staff?

    16 A. For the purpose of greater commanding power

    17 and greater strength in the implementation of my order.

    18 Q. What did you think, that in this way, the

    19 order gained more weight?

    20 A. Yes, at any rate, because here I am issuing

    21 an order in respect of an order. I thought that the

    22 commanders would be more decisive in carrying out this

    23 order and that it would be fully carried out.

    24 Q. Is it a normal thing, from a military point

    25 of view, what you are saying under point number 1,

  4. 1 "Execute my order of the 21st of April, 1993 in

    2 full"? Does this exist in the military?

    3 A. Unfortunately, I was compelled to do this

    4 too, that is to say, to order to have orders carried

    5 out and in full, at that. Of course, the normal thing

    6 is that an order should be carried out in full and

    7 that, on the basis of this order, information should be

    8 returned as well in normal armies. But I said that on

    9 the 17th of April, I had to order once again the

    10 organisation of defences according to villages and

    11 sectors, that my chain of command was not functioning,

    12 and this was one of the attempts made in order to

    13 establish a chain of command.

    14 MR. NOBILO: We're going to stop at this

    15 point, and we shall continue analysing this document

    16 after the lunch break, if you agree, Mr. President.

    17 JUDGE JORDA: I'm just waiting for the

    18 interpretation. All right. The interpretation has

    19 finished.

    20 We will take our lunch break, and we will

    21 resume today at a quarter to three.

    22 Court stands suspended.

    23 --- Luncheon recess taken at 12.45 p.m.



  5. 1 --- On resuming at 2.50 p.m.

    2 JUDGE JORDA: We can resume the hearing now.

    3 Please be seated.

    4 Mr. Nobilo, you may proceed, please.

    5 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.

    6 Q. We had stopped before the lunch break with

    7 Defence Exhibit 360, issued by the witness as a

    8 commander on the 23rd of April, '93, and we explained

    9 point 2, when you said that you had to issue an order

    10 to implement the order which was not regular in

    11 military relationships.

    12 I draw your attention to point 2. What was

    13 the problem that you had with European observers, and

    14 why did you have to include point 2 in which you

    15 order: "Ensure the full and unhindered passage of UN

    16 and ECMM vehicles, greeting them with the proper HVO

    17 military salute"?

    18 What was the motive behind this point?

    19 A. By including this point, I wanted to convey

    20 my position and my orders to my subordinates, that the

    21 best possible conditions needed to be ensured for all

    22 officers of the European Monitoring Mission, for the

    23 implementation of their mandate, because I had always

    24 believed that this was of great assistance to all

    25 parties in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

  6. 1 There were incidents when, passing through

    2 certain villages and inhabited areas, vehicles were

    3 stopped or searched, and frequently, I was forced to

    4 repeat myself in such orders, and under those

    5 circumstances, to create the best possible conditions

    6 for the work of both the European monitors, and the

    7 United Nations, the UNHCR, the Red Cross, and other

    8 humanitarian organisations.

    9 Q. Point 3 of the order in which you say, "I

    10 caution you once more of the need for military

    11 behaviour and respect of military discipline, and I

    12 oblige you to take legal measures against anyone who

    13 fails to carry out these orders," isn't such a point

    14 unnecessary, because whenever anybody violates rules,

    15 such measures were necessary? Is it necessary to

    16 repeat several times this kind of instruction?

    17 A. The problem was that military conscripts,

    18 armed farmers, who looked like a soldier in as far as

    19 they wear a uniform or parts of uniforms, and had

    20 weapons in their hands, but in terms of behaviour, it

    21 was very difficult to envisage their reactions,

    22 especially in the event of combat operations, because,

    23 after all, this was an armed people lacking the degree

    24 of obedience that is expected by a soldier.

    25 Q. On the 24th, early in the morning, you issued

  7. 1 three orders.

    2 MR. NOBILO: Could Defence Exhibit D361 be

    3 shown to the witness, please? This is an order dated

    4 the 24th of April. This is your order dated the 24th

    5 of April, 1993, at 9.20 hours.

    6 THE INTERPRETER: I apologise.

    7 MR. NOBILO:

    8 Q. It is your order of the 24th of April --

    9 JUDGE JORDA: Does everybody hear?

    10 MR. NOBILO:

    11 Q. -- at 9.20 hours, addressed to all units

    12 under the heading: "Elimination of arbitrary acts by

    13 commanders and individuals. Order: After an

    14 assessment carried out in the field, it is apparent

    15 that the lower level commanders and their units are

    16 acting outside the chain of command. They are not

    17 executing orders from superiors, and are independently

    18 making decisions contrary to the received orders. They

    19 plan and execute their own combat activities, exert

    20 pressure on civilians, and disrupt the forces of

    21 UNPROFOR, the International Red Cross, and the European

    22 Monitors in their work, which has negative consequences

    23 for the HVO, and those soldiers who execute the

    24 received tasks consistently".

    25 Before proceeding with the reading of this

  8. 1 order, could you tell us, after an assessment carried

    2 out in the field, how did you make that assessment, and

    3 does this description, in fact, correspond to the

    4 situation on the ground throughout the enclave in the

    5 Lasva River Valley where the HVO was?

    6 A. These were reports that we received from our

    7 subordinates from the field. Then there were also

    8 complaints by the monitors and the International Red

    9 Cross, because usually in the course of meetings that

    10 we held, the officers would indicate the problems they

    11 had. Through this order, and probably those that

    12 followed, I tried to remove all those problems and

    13 difficulties. These were mostly written reports or

    14 oral information conveyed to us by the officers.

    15 Q. Do you consider this description to

    16 realistically reflect the situation as it was in the

    17 Lasva Valley in April '93?

    18 A. Yes.

    19 Q. Let me continue reading the order: "In order

    20 to eliminate these negative tendencies and to execute

    21 fully the order of the commander," the number is

    22 indicated, "I hereby order: Warn all the levels of

    23 command of the enormous negative impact of such

    24 behaviour by individuals and groups, especially in the

    25 international arena.

  9. 1 2. All the organised troops are to be fully

    2 placed under control, and the commanders are personally

    3 responsible for the behaviour of their subordinates.

    4 3. Individuals or groups who are completely

    5 out of control are to be arrested immediately and

    6 warrants are to be delivered to the commander of the

    7 military police unit.

    8 4. You are in charge or, rather, responsible

    9 for preventing the most extreme individuals and groups

    10 who are out of control and who are not protecting

    11 civilians, who are demolishing and setting fire to

    12 civilian facilities, whose activities are nothing other

    13 than terrorism, resorting to all available means and

    14 the use of force.

    15 5. Against all those who are disrupting the

    16 mission of UNPROFOR, UNHCR, ECMM, and the International

    17 Red Cross, urgently take the most stringent measures,

    18 as this is a battle for the reputation and dignity of

    19 the HVO and the Croatian people of the Croatian

    20 Community of Herceg-Bosna. All these organisations

    21 have complete freedom of movement, and you are

    22 duty-bound to assist them in their activities.

    23 6. The directly subordinate commanders are

    24 responsible to me for the execution and practical

    25 application of this order, and I make responsible all

  10. 1 reasonable levels of command and control.

    2 The commander, Colonel Tihomir Blaskic."

    3 General, could you comment on the situation

    4 such as it was, what you tried to achieve, and what

    5 were the reasons behind such a rather sharp-worded

    6 order in relation to the HVO?

    7 A. It is clear from this order that there were

    8 organised groups, units, which were not fully under the

    9 command control. Also there were individuals who were

    10 extremists, and also extremist groups that torched and

    11 destroyed civilian facilities, and I clearly stated

    12 here that this was terrorism, and that absolutely all

    13 available means should be used to prevent and eliminate

    14 such tendencies.

    15 Also it can be seen here that, through this

    16 order, I wanted to extend support to international

    17 humanitarian organisations in the execution of their

    18 mission, and there were other forms of activities

    19 whereby I sought to inform the population about the

    20 mandate of UNPROFOR, the International Red Cross, the

    21 UNHCR, and other institutions that were operating in

    22 the area under my command.

    23 In this last point, I tried to make

    24 responsible all levels of control and command or,

    25 rather, to make it clear that this order applied also

  11. 1 to squad commanders, or commanders of villages, or

    2 commanders of sectors, of battalions and brigades, and

    3 each and every commander in the chain of command. But

    4 this order is still only an attempt to put some order

    5 in the situation, but the real situation was such that

    6 that was very difficult to achieve.

    7 Q. General, on the 24th of April, we heard that

    8 you were distressed by Ahmici, but was that the only

    9 problem in the Lasva Valley in terms of the security of

    10 civilians?

    11 A. Unfortunately, it was not. There were many

    12 other issues at that time and in that area, but

    13 certainly it was one of the priorities.

    14 Q. If we were to be so bold and to put in some

    15 sort of order here in the courtroom, what would you

    16 give the highest priority to, to prevent another

    17 Ahmici, or to carry out an investigation immediately

    18 into Ahmici?

    19 A. I pointed out that a repetition of Ahmici

    20 would be equal to self-destruction and disaster, and

    21 that's what I clearly stated to my associates at our

    22 meetings, and our top priority was to prevent a

    23 repetition of Ahmici.

    24 Q. When you say that Ahmici should not be

    25 repeated, you mean figuratively speaking, that the

  12. 1 crime should not be committed?

    2 A. Yes. That is what I mean, the crime of

    3 killing of civilians, and homes in Ahmici.

    4 Q. And was there a real danger that this could

    5 occur somewhere else? Did you feel that such a danger

    6 existed?

    7 A. We signed documents on a cessation of

    8 hostilities twice, and agreements on a separation of

    9 forces, but such a cessation of hostilities did not

    10 occur. The forces of the HVO and the BH army were not

    11 separated, and the situation was still extremely

    12 difficult and complicated, and such a possibility

    13 existed.

    14 Q. Let us go on to the next document. It was

    15 issued on the same date, the 24th of April, '93, but at

    16 10.00. You ordered all subordinate units -- in

    17 document D362.

    18 So this document is D362, which is actually

    19 your order of the 24th of April, '93 at 10.00. The

    20 heading is "Treatment of the wounded. Order: Under

    21 the order of the head of the Defence Department, and

    22 chief of general staff of the HVO, 02-1/1-54/93 of 23rd

    23 April, 1993, and in order to ensure its full

    24 implementation:

    25 1. Unhindered access and rendering

  13. 1 assistance to all wounded persons, be they civilians,

    2 soldiers, or enemy soldiers, is to be ensured.

    3 2. Civilians and prisoners are to be treated

    4 in accordance with international conventions and

    5 regulations, and the names of those taken prisoner or

    6 being detained are to be immediately provided to the

    7 Central Bosnia Operational Zone.

    8 3. Immediately subordinate commanders are

    9 responsible to me in connection with the implementation

    10 of this order."

    11 Can you tell us a little about the reasons

    12 for this order?

    13 A. Though we didn't have access to the hospital,

    14 we had communications, and I know that in the hospital

    15 in Nova Bila, there were soldiers and civilians

    16 undergoing treatment, that is, soldiers of the BH

    17 army. I always sought to develop among commanders an

    18 attitude which would extend assistance to any wounded

    19 persons.

    20 As for point 2, I think yesterday we

    21 discussed documents when people were privately taken

    22 prisoner or detained, and other illegal behaviour

    23 towards civilians, and that is why, through point 2, I

    24 requested, in the first place, that they should act in

    25 accordance with international conventions and

  14. 1 regulations, I'm referring to HVO soldiers, and that

    2 the names of those taken prisoner or being detained

    3 should be given to us immediately.

    4 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: General, in paragraph 3,

    5 you refer to commanders directly under your orders.

    6 A. Yes. It says here that all directly

    7 subordinate commanders are responsible to me. It means

    8 all commanders subordinated to me. It means brigade

    9 commanders and those that were attached to me by the

    10 order of the 17th of April at 22.00.

    11 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: That would include the

    12 military police battalion, the 4th Battalion?

    13 A. Yes. It was resubordinated.

    14 MR. NOBILO: Thank you.

    15 Q. General, when you say that international

    16 conventions had to be observed in relation to prisoners

    17 and detainees, what was your understanding? Do

    18 international conventions allow any one of them to dig

    19 trenches on the front lines?

    20 A. Certainly that is not permitted by

    21 international conventions, and here, I have clearly

    22 stated that they should act in accordance with

    23 international conventions and regulations.

    24 Q. When you are asking the HVO to behave in

    25 accordance with international regulations and

  15. 1 conventions, does that mean that when there is no need,

    2 in terms of combat, that civilians cannot be held in

    3 detention?

    4 A. Yes, that is what it means.

    5 Q. Next exhibit, please, D363. Exhibit D363 is

    6 your order issued on the 24th of April, '93 at 11.00,

    7 and it has to do with housing resources and property in

    8 flats. It is addressed to a number of units that are

    9 listed here, and you say in your order: "Because of a

    10 large number of flats temporarily vacated and which are

    11 being forced into by armed persons, soldiers of the

    12 Croatian Defence Council and other persons, and in

    13 order to improve the quality of public law and order in

    14 the town of Vitez," and by hand, probably your

    15 handwriting, and you will be able to read it, what does

    16 it say?

    17 A. It says "And in other towns."

    18 Q. This is hand-written, "As well as to prevent

    19 such negative developments, I order:

    20 1. Prevent by all means and, if necessary,

    21 by the use of force the unlawful taking of flats and

    22 stealing property from the flats which belong to

    23 civilians who are temporarily absent for various

    24 reasons.

    25 2. For the execution of this task, the

  16. 1 commander of the 4th Battalion of the HVO military

    2 police and the commanders of police stations of the

    3 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna in those towns in

    4 which conflicts have occurred are responsible to me for

    5 carrying out this order.

    6 3. This order enters into force instantly.

    7 Members of the HVO carrying uniforms will be subject to

    8 measures implemented by the Croatian Defence Council

    9 military police, while civilians will be subject to the

    10 civil police of the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna,

    11 those two working in coordination.

    12 Signed, Colonel Tihomir Blaskic."

    13 Tell us, General, how did this problem occur,

    14 that is, temporarily abandoned apartments?

    15 A. Certainly, conflicts were one of the reasons

    16 why apartments were temporarily abandoned, and also the

    17 tendency that I have mentioned, that is, the

    18 reunification of families, or if armed groups would, in

    19 the interest of some exiled families, try to find flats

    20 for them. In any event, there was such usurpation of

    21 apartments. In some cases, it was the Bosniak Muslims'

    22 apartments, and in towns under the control of the BH

    23 army, the same kind of usurpation of apartments was

    24 done by Croats.

    25 In order to prevent such negative

  17. 1 occurrences, I issued this order, trying to eliminate

    2 this tendency which was gaining in intensity, and I

    3 tried to make responsible for the execution of this

    4 task both the military police and the civilian police,

    5 even though I knew that I may be overstepping my

    6 mandate, because what happened was that while a soldier

    7 was confiscating an apartment, he may do that in

    8 uniform, and then he would take off the uniform and say

    9 to the military police, "I am a civilian. I'm not on

    10 duty. What rights do you have in relation to me as a

    11 military conscript?"

    12 So it was very difficult to establish whether

    13 such a breaking in of flats was done by civilian or

    14 military men.

    15 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Excuse me for interrupting

    16 you, Mr. Nobilo.

    17 General Blaskic, I have two questions: In

    18 respect of the entities that you are referring to here

    19 in 363, these entities to which you address the orders,

    20 are they the same, to which you had addressed the

    21 previous order, which is 362? When you say in 362, "To

    22 all subordinates," we can say that all the subordinates

    23 to whom you had addressed the previous orders are the

    24 ones that you are indicating in this document; is that

    25 true?

  18. 1 A. In the previous order, it said, "To all

    2 subordinates," and I did not think it said to the chief

    3 of police in Travnik, though. The police force of

    4 Travnik is a civilian police force, and it was never

    5 subordinate to me, and that's what it says here in this

    6 document.

    7 I think that in the previous document it did

    8 not say, "To the police station in Vitez," because it

    9 only said, "To all subordinates." The others have been

    10 included.

    11 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Therefore, if I've

    12 understood correctly, we could say that all the

    13 entities indicated in the previous order are the same,

    14 except for the chief of police of Travnik; is that

    15 correct?

    16 A. Your Honour, except for the chief of police

    17 of Travnik and the police station of Vitez, the

    18 civilian police.

    19 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you very much. My

    20 second question is the following -- well, let me ask

    21 the question a different way.

    22 For you, is there a difference between the

    23 words "instantly" and "immediately"? Are these

    24 different things in your mind or are they the same

    25 thing, when you say "instantly" and when you say

  19. 1 "immediately"?

    2 A. I think I got an incomplete translation, Your

    3 Honours.

    4 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Let me repeat the

    5 question. I'm sure it's my fault. What I want to know

    6 is whether for you the word "imediatement," in French,

    7 "immediately," and the word "instantanement," in

    8 French, "instantly," have the same meaning, or whether

    9 you believe that there is a difference between the two

    10 words?

    11 A. Your Honour, I have been told the following:

    12 Whether "odmah" and "instantly" mean the same thing.

    13 That's the kind of translation I got, and I'm trying to

    14 interpret it for myself.

    15 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Let me ask the question in

    16 English. Perhaps it would be clearer now. The

    17 difference between "instantly" and "immediately."

    18 A. If both words mean immediately, then there's

    19 no difference, but if it also says "urgently," then

    20 there is a difference, by all means, yes, between

    21 "immediately" and "urgently."

    22 JUDGE RODRIGUES: I'm asking the question

    23 because in the previous order, I believe the word

    24 "immediately" was the word that was used, whereas in

    25 this order, you used the word "instantly." Therefore,

  20. 1 General Blaskic, you are using both terms, and what I'd

    2 like to know is whether they mean the same thing or do

    3 they mean something else?

    4 A. Your Honour, for me, "instantly" and

    5 "immediately" means the same thing for me, that is to

    6 say, "instantly" and "immediately," if I got the right

    7 translation.

    8 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Therefore, if I've

    9 understood you correctly and to finish with this

    10 question, the word "instantanement," "instantly," and

    11 "imediatement," "immediately," are words that you

    12 used in both orders and mean the same thing.

    13 MR. NOBILO: Your Honour, perhaps I could

    14 help. In the original Croatian text of both one order

    15 and the other, the same word was used, "odmah," but two

    16 terms were used in the translation, so now we've

    17 clarified it.

    18 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Yes, but I believe that I'm

    19 right when I say that in document 362, the document has

    20 been translated into English as "immediately," whereas

    21 the other document has the word "instantly." Is that

    22 correct?

    23 MR. NOBILO: You're right, Your Honour, but

    24 the source -- the Croatian word, is the very same word,

    25 "odmah."

  21. 1 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you very much for

    2 having explained this to me.

    3 MR. NOBILO: We can show on the ELMO these

    4 two words, no problem.

    5 JUDGE JORDA: That becomes even more

    6 complicated, because in the French version, in the

    7 French version of 362, it doesn't say "instantanement"

    8 or "immediatement." The word used says that they are

    9 directly responsible, and I cannot find in the French

    10 text the word "immediatement" or "instantanement,"

    11 meaning "immediately" or "instantly," so that differs

    12 in the French version.

    13 MR. NOBILO: We can put it on the ELMO, and

    14 with the yellow --

    15 JUDGE JORDA: Perhaps that was 361 that I'm

    16 referring to.

    17 MR. NOBILO: In the Croatian text, we

    18 highlighted the two words that are the same, in

    19 yellow. The left-hand side is 362 and the right-hand

    20 side is 363.

    21 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: What you're saying,

    22 Mr. Nobilo, is that the variations only occur in the

    23 English translation and possibly in the French text as

    24 well, but the position is the same in the original?

    25 MR. NOBILO: That's right, yes. Precisely.

  22. 1 Precisely.

    2 JUDGE JORDA: Judge Rodrigues, are you

    3 satisfied with the answer? All right. I can,

    4 therefore, say that in the Serbo-Croatian version,

    5 which is the language, of course, which is

    6 authoritative for the accused, for you it meant the

    7 same thing in Serbo-Croatian?

    8 A. Mr. President, in the documents, the very

    9 same words were used.

    10 JUDGE JORDA: We will look at a French

    11 dictionary. In French, I believe there is a very

    12 slight difference between "instantanement" and

    13 "immediatement," but it's a very slight distinction in

    14 French and, I believe, in English as well.

    15 Thank you, Judge Rodrigues. That proves

    16 that, aside from Serbo-Croatian, you do very, very

    17 well, both in French and in English.

    18 Mr. Nobilo, please proceed.

    19 MR. NOBILO: Thank you. Now I would like to

    20 go back to D363, the order from 11.00.

    21 Q. I have a question of principle. You are

    22 asking both the civilian and the military police to

    23 prevent violence and to act according to the law. Was

    24 that your job or were the civilian and military police

    25 duty-bound to automatically work according to the law,

  23. 1 without having orders issued by you?

    2 A. It is certain that the civilian and the

    3 military police were duty-bound to work even without

    4 this order, but the situation was such that I felt that

    5 it was my obligation, and I felt it was necessary, to

    6 react and to try to at least alleviate this, what was

    7 happening, that is to say, that people were being

    8 thrown out of apartments and this kind of attitude

    9 towards housing.

    10 Q. In a well-regulated army, and when you were

    11 in the JNA, it was a well-regulated army, did anyone

    12 ever issue orders to enforce the law?

    13 A. No, I never saw that kind of an order, nor

    14 did I ever sign one while I'm in the former Yugoslav

    15 People's Army.

    16 Q. Thank you. Now, we are going to leave aside

    17 these three orders that you issued, and between 13.00

    18 and 14.00 on that very same day, you have a, how shall

    19 we call this, sharp meeting with Colonel Stewart of the

    20 British Battalion. Could you please tell the Court

    21 about the dialog that you two had?

    22 A. This was one of the many meetings we had, but

    23 this was the first time that I saw Colonel Stewart

    24 quite shocked, upset, and emotional, and I think that

    25 we were both in a kind of shock.

  24. 1 The meeting started at 13.00, and Colonel

    2 Stewart put Ahmici on the agenda as the main item, and

    3 he said, "Ahmici was in your zone of responsibility of

    4 the HVO, and responsibility has not been taken yet, and

    5 a commission has not been set up either. This is a

    6 political catastrophe for the HVO, and the HVO wishes

    7 to destroy the Muslims. The zone was attacked around

    8 5.30 by the HVO." I imagine that he meant the area of

    9 Ahmici. "Many victims were taken out, and some were

    10 burned down, and among them are children who were

    11 burned. As for UNPROFOR, this is a major thing with

    12 unforeseeable consequences, and for the HVO, this is a

    13 political catastrophe."

    14 "I believe," that's what Colonel Stewart

    15 said, "that Mr. Mate Boban would have to come to Vitez

    16 today and address the public in Vitez, and say in front

    17 of journalists that the perpetrators would be found and

    18 that they would be brought to trial. Responsibility

    19 for what has happened must be taken by the HVO."

    20 Colonel Stewart also said that -- he was

    21 asking that Mr. Mate Boban personally guarantee that

    22 the people who committed this will be held accountable

    23 and that might alleviate the situation. It is also a

    24 good thing to bear in mind the implications of that

    25 which could happen.

  25. 1 After that part, I told Colonel Stewart the

    2 following: "I already expressed my position to you in

    3 my letter of the 23rd of April, 1993, and I did not

    4 issue orders to any unit to commit the crime in

    5 Ahmici," and I'm referring to HVO units. I told him

    6 that "Ahmici is in the responsibility of the HVO as

    7 well," and I said that at that moment, that area was

    8 still under fire and under fire supervision of the army

    9 of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and that it was impossible to

    10 enter that area without the protection of armoured

    11 vehicles in order to carry out an on-site

    12 investigation.

    13 And also I told Colonel Stewart that it was

    14 necessary to separate the forces, I was referring to

    15 the forces of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the

    16 HVO, in order to carry out a comprehensive,

    17 high-quality investigation.

    18 I also said that on the 16th or, rather, the

    19 15th/16th of April, the HVO was attacked in the Lasva

    20 River Valley. I literally said, "We were attacked."

    21 After that, Colonel Stewart told me that

    22 which my commanders do, those who are under my command,

    23 I'm responsible for that, but that is not to say that

    24 I'm personally guilty. I said to Colonel Stewart that

    25 if my soldiers had done that, soldiers under my

  26. 1 command, I would have been responsible too, but I did

    2 not issue such an order, and after that first part of

    3 the meeting, I noted down in my diary, in my war diary,

    4 that the discussion continued on the shelling of

    5 Zenica, but, Your Honours, I'm not sure whether on that

    6 same day, or on the next day, but I'm certain of the

    7 content of the discussion that I had with

    8 Colonel Stewart on the question of the shelling of

    9 Zenica.

    10 Q. Well, do tell us about this content,

    11 regardless of whether it was on the 24th or the 25th.

    12 A. Colonel Stewart told me Zenica was shelled on

    13 the 19th of April, 1993, and I told him the HVO did not

    14 do it. I did not issue orders to shell Zenica, and I

    15 know that my artillery commander did not issue that

    16 order either. As regards accusations concerning the

    17 shelling of Zenica, I heard about that on radio

    18 Zenica.

    19 After that, Colonel Stewart continued the

    20 discussion, and at one point he said to me, "Well,

    21 Zenica was shelled with a howitzer of 155-millimetre

    22 calibre." I heard the interpreter, his name as Edo,

    23 who said the calibre, and I asked him to repeat the

    24 calibre to me, and Colonel Stewart repeated it. He

    25 said that it was 155 millimetres. I told

  27. 1 Colonel Stewart, "If I understood you correctly,

    2 Colonel, you're talking about a projectile of

    3 155 millimetres," and he said, "Yes."

    4 After that, I said to Colonel Stewart, "Well,

    5 I suggest that my artillery commander and the commander

    6 of the artillery unit be on the joint commission that

    7 will go to Zenica, to the very site, and together with

    8 the commission of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, carry

    9 out a joint investigation on the shelling of Zenica."

    10 Colonel Stewart asked me, "Who would

    11 guarantee their security," referring to the two

    12 officers that I had proposed from the HVO to go to

    13 Zenica, and I said to Colonel Stewart, "Well, it's only

    14 you, because I don't see who else could guarantee

    15 security to HVO in Zenica."

    16 Colonel Stewart told me that this was not

    17 possible, that he could not guarantee the security of

    18 these officers. After that, he added the following,

    19 Colonel Stewart did, the following: "They say," he was

    20 referring to the representatives of the army of

    21 Bosnia-Herzegovina, "that the shelling was carried out

    22 from the direction of Busovaca towards Zenica," and

    23 that he knows that the shelling was carried out from

    24 the direction of Vitez, that is to say, that Colonel

    25 Stewart knows that it was done so.

  28. 1 I also told him that it is possible to reach

    2 agreement and to see the firing positions of the

    3 artillery, and then to be assured that that was not

    4 correct, that the firing came from the direction of

    5 Vitez.

    6 Q. On the day of the 19th of April, 1993, in the

    7 Lasva River Valley, did you have a 155-millimetre

    8 howitzer?

    9 A. No, but we did have it at the time of the

    10 joint defence of Travnik. When I say "joint," I mean

    11 by the HVO and the BH army, until the 8th of January,

    12 1993, when, by orders of the chief of staff, of the

    13 main staff, I returned this 155-millimetre howitzer and

    14 a multiple rocket launcher.

    15 Q. Did you say that to Stewart, that you didn't

    16 have a 155-millimetre howitzer?

    17 A. I do not remember saying to him at the time

    18 that we didn't have a 155-millimetre howitzer.

    19 Q. Did you check later on with your artillery

    20 commander?

    21 A. Yes. As soon as the meeting ended, I called

    22 up the artillery commander and checked with him whether

    23 this howitzer had been sent, though I had a report to

    24 that effect, but I checked once again whether the

    25 155-millimetre howitzer had been returned to the main

  29. 1 headquarters, and the artillery commander told me,

    2 "Yes. Pursuant to your order, it was returned already

    3 on the 8th of January, 1993."

    4 Q. When did you hear the HVO being accused, for

    5 the first time, of having a howitzer that was not

    6 155-millimetre but 122-millimetre howitzer?

    7 A. When the trial started and when I came to

    8 this Tribunal here.

    9 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo, the witness has

    10 been testifying for about an hour. We will take a

    11 15-minute break, and we will resume at 4.00.

    12 --- Recess taken at 3.45 p.m.

    13 --- On resuming at 4.07 p.m.

    14 JUDGE JORDA: We will now resume the

    15 hearing. Please be seated.

    16 Mr. Nobilo, proceed, please.

    17 MR. NOBILO: Thank you.

    18 Q. The last question was: When did you hear,

    19 for the first time, that Zenica was shelled with a

    20 122-millimetre howitzer, and you said here in court.

    21 I'm asking you now whether you asked your artillery

    22 commander whether his men had used any artillery weapon

    23 to shell Zenica?

    24 A. Yes. On the 19th of April, for the first

    25 time, because I was informed, I think it was by the

  30. 1 assistant for information and propaganda, that two

    2 reports had gone out. One was that Zenica had been

    3 shelled by the army of Republika Srpska, and then

    4 another report which repeated that the shelling was

    5 done by the HVO. I checked with the artillery

    6 commander then on the 19th of April, and I also checked

    7 when I asked him, "What about the 155-millimetre

    8 howitzer?"

    9 Q. The term "report has gone out" has been

    10 used. So you were informed that the assistant for

    11 information and propaganda heard what?

    12 A. The assistant for information and propaganda

    13 informed me that a report had been published on the

    14 radio about the shelling of Zenica. After he informed

    15 me of this, the assistant stressed that the first

    16 report on Radio Zenica was that the shelling was done

    17 by the Serb army. Then came another report that it was

    18 done by the HVO.

    19 I called the artillery commander to check

    20 whether any fire was opened in the direction of Zenica

    21 or, rather, against Zenica, and he said, "No."

    22 After Colonel Stewart informed me that it was

    23 155-millimetre howitzer that had been used, talking to

    24 the artillery commander, I checked whether a

    25 155-millimetre howitzer had been returned, and when he

  31. 1 said it had, I asked him again whether shelling was

    2 done using any other kind of artillery weapon towards

    3 Zenica, and his answer was, "No."

    4 Q. Let us leave aside Zenica for the time being,

    5 and let us go back to the beginning of the conversation

    6 with Stewart.

    7 You told the Court that you again drew

    8 Colonel Stewart's attention to the letter you had sent

    9 to him the day before, that is, on the 23rd of April,

    10 '93?

    11 A. Yes.

    12 Q. Tell the Court, what was it that was so

    13 important in that letter for you to insist on its

    14 implementation? What was the substance of your request

    15 addressed to Stewart?

    16 A. There were two matters, in fact, but for me,

    17 the first was the most important, and that was support

    18 and increasing my command powers to carry out the

    19 investigation, because I said that I had asked for a

    20 special meeting to be organised, at which the question

    21 of the investigation would be a separate item which

    22 would be discussed by representatives of both the HVO

    23 and the BH army. For much smaller problems, I was

    24 forced to repeat myself several times and repeat my

    25 orders upon orders, so that because of the overall

  32. 1 impotence, rather than power, of my orders, I felt I

    2 needed support, which would facilitate my

    3 investigation.

    4 Q. Were you aware at the time that, in view of

    5 your position and the quantity of command powers that

    6 you had, and in view of the circumstance that there was

    7 suspicion that the military police had done it, did you

    8 have a feeling that it would be slow and difficult to

    9 establish the truth?

    10 A. Yes, I did have such a feeling, and

    11 especially, I wanted to get the support of my

    12 superiors, as well as of international institutions,

    13 because thereby my orders would probably be more

    14 efficiently implemented with regard to the

    15 investigation.

    16 Q. When this happened, did anyone help you? Did

    17 you get what you asked for from the International

    18 Community or from any other quarter?

    19 A. Though I repeated this, not only in my

    20 letter, you will see later on from the chronology,

    21 unfortunately, I did not receive any assistance. No

    22 one helped me.

    23 Q. What was the second important reason or,

    24 rather, your expectation in relation to UNPROFOR and

    25 Stewart?

  33. 1 A. The other matter was the security situation.

    2 That day, at the meeting, I told Colonel Stewart that

    3 it was impossible to access the area without armoured

    4 vehicles. He was a military man like me, in fact, with

    5 far greater experience than myself, and I know that he

    6 knew that the HVO did not have any armoured vehicles in

    7 that area, and that the only possibility was for him to

    8 give us his armoured vehicle for me or my chief of

    9 staff, Nakic, to access that area for the purpose of

    10 investigating.

    11 Q. Did Stewart, on the 23rd, that is, 24 hours

    12 after you learnt from him about Ahmici, did he make

    13 available to you an armoured vehicle? Were you ready

    14 to go to Ahmici and to start the investigation

    15 immediately?

    16 A. Yes. If I had been given protection, I would

    17 have gone without a second thought.

    18 Q. After this conversation with Stewart ended --

    19 just a moment, please. After this conversation with

    20 Stewart, you undertook a unilateral action without the

    21 International Community, without anybody's assistance.

    22 Tell the Court what you did, what you requested, and

    23 from whom.

    24 A. I organised a meeting of the command in the

    25 afternoon, at 15.00, and I informed all my associates

  34. 1 of the content of the talk with Colonel Stewart, and I

    2 said that we must undertake investigating Ahmici

    3 ourselves. I gave an oral order to the assistant for

    4 security, at that meeting, requiring him, regardless of

    5 whether international institutions helped us or not,

    6 that he should initiate the investigation.

    7 I also emphasised at that meeting that I

    8 condemn the crime, and that, for all of us, and I meant

    9 all HVO members, was tragic, and that a repetition of a

    10 crime of that kind would be equal to self-destruction.

    11 I required, in particular, that every effort should be

    12 made to avoid such an evil being repeated.

    13 Q. Tell the Court, when you saw that no one was

    14 giving you any assistance, why did you designate the

    15 Security and Information Service as the service to

    16 carry out the investigation? Why?

    17 A. It was the only organisation that had ...

    18 (Trial Chamber deliberates) .

    19 JUDGE JORDA: Would you go back a little bit

    20 when you proceed, Mr. Nobilo, a little bit back?

    21 MR. NOBILO:

    22 Q. My question was why, 48 hours after you

    23 learned about Ahmici from Stewart, you appointed the

    24 Security and Information Service to carry out the

    25 investigation into the crime in Ahmici?

  35. 1 A. I didn't have, at my disposal, any

    2 institution to carry out the investigation over the

    3 military police, except for the Security and

    4 Information Service. I thought that the results would

    5 be far better than if I had given an order to the

    6 military police to carry out the investigation into its

    7 own activities.

    8 Q. Could you tell the Court, why are you issuing

    9 an order for the investigation of Ahmici 48 hours after

    10 learning about it, that is, on the 24th, and not within

    11 a period of 24 hours after learning about the crime in

    12 Ahmici? Why did you wait for another day?

    13 A. I wrote a letter, and I expected a response

    14 and assistance, assistance in protection, and I also

    15 expected assistance in the activities of the joint

    16 commission.

    17 Q. When you say "assistance in protection," what

    18 kind of protection do you mean?

    19 A. Assistance in the form of protection of

    20 armoured vehicles, and those vehicles would be provided

    21 by the UNPROFOR for us to be able to access the area,

    22 that is one thing. Secondly, assistance in increasing

    23 my command powers through the involvement of the joint

    24 commission and international institutions.

    25 Q. You gave this order 48 hours after learning

  36. 1 about Ahmici. Were you aware at the time that this was

    2 a poorer solution than if your plan of international

    3 assistance and the leadership of the HVO had been

    4 carried out?

    5 A. I was aware that it was a poorer solution,

    6 but it was the only solution I had. I had no other at

    7 the time. Unfortunately, I didn't see any other way

    8 out.

    9 JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me, General. You had

    10 forces on the Ahmici front, did you not? They were

    11 your own forces there on the front line in Ahmici.

    12 Didn't you have forces there? You described them this

    13 morning.

    14 A. On the line at Ahmici, there was a military

    15 police unit, and I had armed peasants.

    16 JUDGE JORDA: But when you had your meeting

    17 with the members of the command 48 hours later, was

    18 there still nobody in your headquarters, or one of your

    19 unit commanders who had told you what had happened in

    20 Ahmici?

    21 A. A complete information about what happened in

    22 Ahmici, I still do not have. I don't have a -- I did

    23 not receive a complete written report about what

    24 happened in Ahmici.

    25 MR. NOBILO:

  37. 1 Q. You said that you do not have a complete

    2 information to this day.

    3 A. Yes. I never received a complete information

    4 as to what happened in Ahmici on that day, the 16th of

    5 April, '93, and related to the crime.

    6 Q. Until the 24th when you issued your order,

    7 what roughly did you learn about what had happened in

    8 Ahmici? Could you summarise that for us?

    9 A. I had the letter from Colonel Stewart, I had

    10 the reaction of Dzemo Merdan, and I had some knowledge

    11 from the conversation with Colonel Stewart regarding

    12 civilian casualties. Beyond that, I had no other

    13 knowledge.

    14 JUDGE JORDA: You didn't think about calling

    15 Ahmici, which was three kilometres away? You didn't

    16 think about convening the commander of the brigade who

    17 was the closest to Ahmici, just to convene and say to

    18 Stewart, "I'm doing something"?

    19 One somewhat has the impression that you

    20 continued saying, "I need tanks. I need armoured

    21 vehicles to go there. I can't do anything otherwise."

    22 Since you organised brigade meetings with the

    23 commanders, you were sensitive to that problem. You

    24 became aware of that. Stewart spoke about it with

    25 you. It was only three kilometres away between you and

  38. 1 Ahmici, and you don't have the closest commander come

    2 to ask what's going on or what happened, even if you're

    3 not -- as if you're somewhat distrustful about what he

    4 was going to say.

    5 I have to say that I don't understand. You

    6 don't say to the commander, "Come. Come and see me.

    7 What happened?" Even if you knew he was going to lie

    8 to you. You didn't do that.

    9 A. Well, the commander who was supposed to

    10 report to me, he did send me information throughout on

    11 the 16th, 17th, 18th, and the other days, but three

    12 kilometres, Mr. President, during the war and in view

    13 of the combat operations, is not the same distance as

    14 it is in peacetime.

    15 JUDGE JORDA: Please continue.

    16 Judge Rodrigues?

    17 JUDGE RODRIGUES: General Blaskic, you said

    18 that you couldn't go to Ahmici because you would have

    19 needed a tank or an armoured vehicle, but the person

    20 responsible for your forces, could that person have

    21 come to you?

    22 A. You mean that he should come from Ahmici.

    23 But he gave me information. The people responsible for

    24 those forces did give me information. I did receive

    25 the information, but the information didn't correspond

  39. 1 to what happened.

    2 JUDGE RODRIGUES: So he gave you the

    3 information -- did he give you the information

    4 personally?

    5 A. He gave me information about the situation on

    6 the front, personally, by telephone, and he also sent

    7 written reports. One of those reports we have examined

    8 here.

    9 JUDGE RODRIGUES: But was he able to come to

    10 you and give to you the information in person? I mean,

    11 the military situation allowed the person responsible

    12 for your forces to come to give you the information

    13 personally. That's my question. "Yes" or "No," he

    14 could or could not?

    15 A. Yes. He came, and he conveyed to me the

    16 information on the 16th of April, 1993, but the problem

    17 is what he told me, what information he gave.

    18 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Therefore, we already know

    19 that commanders or people in charge frequently would

    20 not give you all the information.

    21 I have another question for you. You said,

    22 at some point, that the person in charge of Busovaca

    23 informed you that he had not opened fire, and that you

    24 trusted that information, or did you not trust that

    25 information?

  40. 1 A. I don't recall what you are referring to,

    2 that he didn't opened fire.

    3 JUDGE RODRIGUES: I'm talking about the

    4 shelling of Zenica, the shelling of Zenica. You said

    5 that further to the discussions and meetings, you asked

    6 the person responsible for Zenica whether he had --

    7 whether or not he had opened fire, and there was that

    8 question about the howitzer of 155 millimetres, and you

    9 said that the person in charge said, "No, we did not

    10 opened fire." Is that correct?

    11 A. Yes.

    12 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Did you trust that

    13 information or did you not trust?

    14 A. When he told me that he hadn't opened fire

    15 from a 155-millimetre howitzer, I certainly had reason

    16 to believe him, because I knew that we didn't have any

    17 such howitzer. I asked him, "Was the howitzer

    18 returned?" I checked once again. He said, "Yes," and

    19 he told me on the basis of which order. Later on, he

    20 told me that he hasn't opened fire, and I trusted that

    21 information. Anyway, I had no other choice. Neither

    22 could he come to see me, nor could I go to see him.

    23 JUDGE RODRIGUES: I want to take advantage of

    24 this time to ask you another question, General

    25 Blaskic. When you spoke with Colonel Robert Stewart,

  41. 1 and he mentioned the possibility of the HVO having

    2 fired on Zenica, at that moment, did you already know

    3 or were you sure that you had or did not have the

    4 155-millimetre howitzer?

    5 A. In my talk with him, I asked Colonel Stewart

    6 whether he knew which calibre was used. When he said

    7 he did, I knew that this weapon should have been

    8 returned, upon my orders, to the main headquarters, and

    9 I knew that I had issued such an order, but I wanted to

    10 check once again, and that is why I called up the

    11 commander.

    12 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Therefore, at that moment

    13 you were convinced that you did not have the howitzer,

    14 that is, that calibre howitzer?

    15 A. I believed so, but I also checked.

    16 JUDGE RODRIGUES: All right. The important

    17 thing is what your state of mind was at that moment.

    18 When you spoke with Colonel Robert Stewart, you were

    19 almost sure, or that it was reasonable to assume that

    20 you already had the howitzer, because you'd already

    21 given the order for it to be returned.

    22 A. I did express a reservation, because I had

    23 issued many orders that were not implemented.

    24 JUDGE RODRIGUES: All right. I understand

    25 now. Thank you very much.

  42. 1 MR. NOBILO:

    2 Q. Tell us, Colonel, a brigade commander, a HVO

    3 Brigade commander that was in Vitez, could he carry out

    4 an investigation into the military police, a unit under

    5 your direct command?

    6 A. Let me answer the first part of your

    7 question. He could not carry out an investigation, and

    8 I didn't have a list of the brigade command. This was

    9 a brigade in the process of formation, rather than a

    10 brigade that had already been formed.

    11 Q. Let us now clear up the positions next to

    12 Ahmici. Could you please get up and show us where the

    13 defence line was in relation to Ahmici, and from where

    14 were members of the BH army firing and preventing your

    15 access to the area of Ahmici? Which were the positions

    16 of the army, in other words?

    17 A. First, I'm going to show the main road,

    18 Vitez-Busovaca on the main road, then the village of

    19 Ahmici is here.

    20 On the main road, on the way out of Vitez

    21 towards Busovaca, the position that we called Dzidica

    22 Kuce, 50 or 100 metres off the main road, was where the

    23 position of the BH army was, and they had full control

    24 of the road from there, and behind that is Sljibcica

    25 and Sivrino Selo, also under the army of

  43. 1 Bosnia-Herzegovina.

    2 Then further on, to the east of Dzidica Kuce,

    3 about 500 metres, then Barin Gaj, full control over the

    4 village. Then the next position, I should just have a

    5 look at the map, because the name of this place is not

    6 here. Also to the north of Ahmici, as Barin Gaj goes

    7 on, and then Banovici. I need the map to show that.

    8 Q. Tell me, people who were at the front line,

    9 were they standing on the ground and did they move

    10 around freely, or were they entrenched in the ground?

    11 A. The remaining houses were used and shelters.

    12 It was not possible to move at all. I know, because

    13 Colonel Stewart came to see me on the 3rd of May, 1993,

    14 and he informed me that when, under his maximum

    15 protection, the representatives of the organisation for

    16 human rights for the UN came into Ahmici, that one

    17 soldier was heavily wounded, I have that in the

    18 chronology, although all measures of protection were

    19 taken. So it was not possible to move around because

    20 the position and the road were constantly under the

    21 control of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

    22 Q. Tell us, General, could one hit the village

    23 of Ahmici only from the top of the mountain, from Barin

    24 Gaj, or could one also hit it from the flank positions

    25 of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina?

  44. 1 A. The village of Ahmici could be hit both from

    2 Barin Gaj and from this position above Kratine, but it

    3 could also be fired at very efficiently from Vranjska

    4 and Kruscica by mortar too.

    5 Q. What about guns, rifles from Sljibcica, and

    6 along the flanks all along?

    7 A. Yes. Also from the position of Barin Gaj by

    8 sniper, and from this point here (indicating) that I

    9 showed a few minutes ago, Dzidica Kuce. That is where

    10 Zoran Mravak, the negotiator, was hit as he was moving

    11 along the main road towards Nova Bila, to a meeting of

    12 the joint commission. Also the chief of police of

    13 Travnik, Mr. Mirko Samija, was killed later.

    14 Q. You have answered to the Court that you

    15 trusted your artillery commander. Tell me, was the

    16 artillery commander your immediate subordinate? Was he

    17 an officer whom you had appointed and whom you could

    18 have replaced?

    19 A. Yes.

    20 Q. The commander of the military police who

    21 submitted false reports to you, was he your officer

    22 whom you could replace, appoint, punish, take

    23 disciplinary action against?

    24 A. No.

    25 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: By the time you spoke

  45. 1 with your artillery commander about whether the

    2 155-millimetre howitzer had been used in relation to

    3 Zenica, was the position this, that the media was

    4 carrying the story about what had happened in Zenica?

    5 A. Your Honour, if I heard the translation

    6 properly, whether the media had carried the news as to

    7 what happened in Zenica, my assistant informed me, I

    8 think my IPD assistant informed me about this. I

    9 personally did not listen to the radio at all at that

    10 time. I rarely listen to the radio anyway. I didn't

    11 have time for that.

    12 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: At that time, you did

    13 not know one way or another whether the media had been

    14 carrying the story of what had happened in Zenica at

    15 the time when you spoke with your artillery commander?

    16 A. On the 19th, already in the course of the

    17 afternoon of the 19th, my IPD assistant told me that

    18 the Zenica media were reporting on the shelling of

    19 Zenica.

    20 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: If your artillery

    21 commander had not returned the 155-millimetre howitzer

    22 and had used it to shell Zenica, would you have

    23 expected him to say to you that he had used it?

    24 A. The normal thing would have been for him to

    25 tell me, but it's hard for me to answer this question.

  46. 1 I would have been in a position to check his story out

    2 very simply.

    3 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Thank you, General.

    4 MR. NOBILO:

    5 Q. General, tell me, at that time, were the

    6 positions of your artillery pieces well-known, and was

    7 it simple to check whether there was a 155-millimetre

    8 howitzer in the Lasva River Valley or not?

    9 A. Yes. It was simply to check at that time,

    10 just as it would have been simple to check if the

    11 artillery commander deceived me. I could have checked

    12 that out, if he had opened fire and not notified me

    13 about this.

    14 JUDGE JORDA: General Blaskic, I would like a

    15 clarification, please.

    16 When you spoke with Colonel Stewart, I noted

    17 down that you said that, "If it's my soldiers who did

    18 that in Ahmici, I would be responsible," and in

    19 addition, you said that the military police, you said

    20 that they sent you false reports. Since you couldn't

    21 get anything from the UNPROFOR forces -- you didn't

    22 have tanks. You didn't have armoured vehicles which

    23 would allow you to carry out the investigation. Judge

    24 Rodrigues asked whether at least you could have had the

    25 commander come to you, and you said that that was not

  47. 1 possible. "I'm trying to find another solution."

    2 In the end, you say to General Petkovic,

    3 "General, I had a conversation with General Stewart,

    4 who was very stern about the HVO. I, myself, am

    5 convinced that the HVO committed atrocities in Ahmici.

    6 Help me. Help me to find a solution. Send in or get

    7 rid of the military police commander in Mostar,"

    8 because probably he was under his command. Did you do

    9 something like that?

    10 A. I shall first answer your question,

    11 Mr. President. Yes.

    12 Secondly, I told Colonel Stewart that had my

    13 soldiers done something bad on my orders, I would have

    14 been responsible too. I always use the word "my

    15 soldiers" for the soldiers who were directly

    16 subordinated to me in my structure. I gave oral

    17 reports and written reports, and in order to give even

    18 more weight to this report, I said that I was sending a

    19 report literally about every word that Colonel Stewart

    20 said.

    21 JUDGE JORDA: The military police had been

    22 under your orders since the 16th of April, at 11.42.

    23 That was under your orders since the 16th of April, at

    24 11.42. It was yours to command. You say that, "If

    25 they are my soldiers," and that includes the military

  48. 1 police and the special brigades.

    2 My question has to do with General Petkovic,

    3 who didn't have armoured vehicles. The commander

    4 couldn't travel the three kilometres to come to say to

    5 you directly what had happened. You were aware that

    6 that day was tragic for the HVO. Stewart told you that

    7 it was a political catastrophe for the HVO. You were

    8 conscious of the fact, because you issued orders 263

    9 and 261. You were concerned with property, and

    10 buildings, and robberies, burglaries. That's what you

    11 said this morning. What else did you have to do? You

    12 just had to look at your command structure and say,

    13 "Are you doing something with General Petkovic?"

    14 A. Yes. Not only with General Petkovic, but

    15 with every individual who was above me in the

    16 hierarchy, including the supreme commander of the HVO,

    17 according to the act on the armed forces.

    18 JUDGE JORDA: You would transmit reports.

    19 You did something. I don't know. Did you make phone

    20 calls? Did you write things? Did you go to Mostar?

    21 Did you send faxes? Since you can give an exact

    22 account of all your days, and you've told us you did

    23 many things in the day.

    24 This was a major event. Colonel Stewart said

    25 to you two days before that, "There's been a

  49. 1 catastrophe," and he said, "It's your soldiers." And

    2 your answer was, "If these are my soldiers, then I

    3 would be responsible."

    4 What did you do in respect of General

    5 Petkovic? Did you do something concrete?

    6 A. I sent a report on everything that -- I sent

    7 a written report to General Petkovic. I think that

    8 that report is in evidence.

    9 MR. NOBILO: We are going to reach all of

    10 that, yes.

    11 JUDGE JORDA: Perhaps I'm going too fast

    12 here. We will take a break. We will take a 15-minute

    13 break.

    14 --- Recess taken at 4.45 p.m.

    15 --- On resuming at 5.11 p.m.

    16 JUDGE JORDA: We will now resume the

    17 hearing.

    18 I think that the Defence wants to stop a

    19 little bit earlier. Instead of stopping at a 5:45, you

    20 would rather for the sequence to be shorter; is that

    21 correct, Mr. Hayman?

    22 MR. HAYMAN: We would. General Blaskic got

    23 here at 8.30 this morning, so it's a long day for him.

    24 JUDGE JORDA: Any comments? All right. We

    25 won't go until 5:45, but say we'll stop at about 5.30

  50. 1 or about 5:35; is that all right?

    2 Okay. We can continue now.

    3 MR. NOBILO: Thank you.

    4 Q. General, just before the break, I think you

    5 still owe the President of the Trial Chamber an answer

    6 to the question, whether you informed your superiors

    7 and whether you asked for the dismissal of the

    8 commander of the military police, though we had planned

    9 to come to that in the chronology, but could you

    10 explain briefly to the Court, straightway, what

    11 actually happened?

    12 A. Yes, I did ask for the replacement of the

    13 commander, and we will see in the chronology that a

    14 replacement did occur, upon my insistence and with the

    15 support of the chief of staff of the HVO main staff.

    16 Q. Would it be right to say that about 60 days

    17 later, this replacement did take place?

    18 A. Yes. We will see that in the course of the

    19 testimony later on.

    20 Q. We are now talking about the 24th of April.

    21 You had a meeting at 16.00 with a gentleman from the

    22 International Red Cross. Do you remember the topic of

    23 the meeting?

    24 A. Yes. Just before the meeting, I was informed

    25 that the Croatian villages in the Travnik municipality,

  51. 1 Grahovcici and Brajkovici, had been blocked. I also

    2 was informed that exiled Croats from Zenica were

    3 arriving in Novi Seher. At about 16:00, I had a

    4 meeting with Mr. de la Mota from the International Red

    5 Cross, who himself inquired into the role of the

    6 media. He spoke about the media under the control of

    7 the Croatian side and the media under the Bosniak

    8 Muslim side, in the sense that they were contributing

    9 to the tension between the HVO and the BH army.

    10 Then Mr. de la Mota spoke about the

    11 resettlement of certain categories of people. He was

    12 referring to the elderly, expectant mothers, children,

    13 the sick. I informed him once again that I had the

    14 position of the UNHCR, according to whom such

    15 resettlement was not permitted, but if that was the

    16 decision of the International Red Cross and his own,

    17 then I would fully support him in implementing those

    18 measures.

    19 We also spoke about the freedom of movement,

    20 and I said to Mr. de la Mota, that unfortunately

    21 because of the current situation, this freedom of

    22 movement was equal to the freedom of resettlement,

    23 because virtually all Croats wanted to move into

    24 territories under HVO control, and all Muslims,

    25 Bosniaks, wanted, for various reasons, to move into

  52. 1 areas under the control of the army of

    2 Bosnia-Herzegovina, and that to protect the immovable

    3 property of persons who were, for various reasons,

    4 abandoning the area, constituted a major difficulty for

    5 me.

    6 He then went on to ask what my position was,

    7 and I told him that my position was that no

    8 resettlement should be done, but as far as

    9 possibilities allowed, we should try to ensure that

    10 everyone should live where he was born or, rather,

    11 where he resided at the time.

    12 I then asked him to try and mediate and

    13 intervene with representatives of the BH army because

    14 of sniper fire coming from the Grbavica feature,

    15 attacking civilian targets. I told him that we already

    16 had an agreement of the 20th of April, '93, according

    17 to which that area had to be demilitarised, but that

    18 sniper positions were still active there and were

    19 killing people on a daily basis.

    20 We also discussed the relations with the Red

    21 Cross, and Mr. de la Mota told me that in the course of

    22 the day, and that was the 24th of April, he wanted to

    23 visit Kruscica which was under the control of the BH

    24 army, and I supported him in doing so, and said that I

    25 would assist in making sure that everything went well

  53. 1 with that visit.

    2 Mr. de la Mota said he noticed that there was

    3 goodwill in favour to the truce, referring to the

    4 signed cease-fire agreements, and I responded by

    5 saying, "Maybe you note this goodwill among the HVO.

    6 Unfortunately, I do not see it among the BH army with

    7 respect to the implementation of the signed

    8 cease-fire."

    9 Mr. de la Mota said that in the course of the

    10 day, at about 2:05 in the afternoon, Zenica had been

    11 shelled. He said this at the meeting. I informed him

    12 once again that this was probably being done by the

    13 Serbs from their positions, thereby intensifying

    14 tensions between the HVO and the BH army. Sometimes

    15 the shelling was of areas under HVO control and

    16 sometimes of territory under BH army control.

    17 On that day, I also noted that all firing

    18 positions of the HVO were to have been toured by a UN

    19 patrol, and in the afternoon, I received information

    20 about unacceptable behaviour by a member of the 91st

    21 Anti-Sabotage Detachment of the BH army, and I was

    22 informed that members of the joint command, Mr. Dzemo

    23 Merdan and Franjo Nakic, had gone to tour positions in

    24 the area of Kiseljak, which surprised me too, because I

    25 had expected that joint commission to first visit the

  54. 1 area of Ahmici.

    2 Q. Was there any discussion with de la Mota

    3 about Ahmici?

    4 A. Yes. I spoke with him about Ahmici as well,

    5 and I conveyed to him the fact that I had two

    6 problems. First, the problem of security; and second,

    7 the problem of carrying out an investigation, and that

    8 I had ordered an investigation. That was all that we

    9 said about that at the meeting at 16.00.

    10 Q. We didn't mention that here, but tell the

    11 Court, all these conversations, what was the situation

    12 under which they were being conducted? Was it

    13 peacetime or was it still wartime, when we gave the

    14 chronology minute by minute on the 16th and 17th of

    15 April?

    16 A. Unfortunately, even though we will see later

    17 that the joint command was operating, but fighting was

    18 still ongoing. We had still not separated, even by a

    19 metre, the confronted forces, and combat operations

    20 were still under way, so that we had an extremely

    21 strange situation. There was a joint command that was

    22 operating in Travnik, we had signed a cease-fire

    23 agreement, yet fighting was still continuing. True, of

    24 lesser intensity, but it was still continuing. This

    25 would be evident from the chronology.

  55. 1 Q. Tell us, General, the order of the 18th and

    2 the agreement on a cease-fire required the withdrawal

    3 or separation of forces. Had the BH army observed that

    4 agreement and withdrawn by 500 metres, I think that was

    5 what was required of them, would that have meant

    6 providing you with a free area in which it would be

    7 possible to conduct the investigation in Ahmici?

    8 A. Allow me to show this on the relief, and then

    9 we would see what would have happened.

    10 Mr. President, Your Honours, according to the

    11 agreement of the 21st of April, the area between

    12 Prnjavor, Vrhovine, towards Jelinak, Putis, and towards

    13 the main road was supposed to be the area in the

    14 direction in which the UN forces would patrol. All

    15 forces of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina were supposed

    16 to withdraw from this position towards Zenica, and all

    17 HVO forces were supposed to withdraw underneath the

    18 main road between Busovaca and Vitez. That is the area

    19 that I'm speaking of that would be demilitarised and

    20 where only UNPROFOR would patrol, that is to say, if we

    21 were viewing it from Vitez along the main road to

    22 Zenica, and then from Zenica towards Vjetrenica, in

    23 this area (indicating), there would not be any forces.

    24 In this area (indicating), the investigation could have

    25 been carried out quite properly then.

  56. 1 The idea was that all forces from this area

    2 (indicating) should be transferred to the area towards

    3 Vlasic, and that is what the joint command had worked

    4 upon, and we were supposed to be engaged in the

    5 deblockade of the town of Travnik, which will be shown

    6 later in the chronology.

    7 Q. Simply, had the army observed this agreement,

    8 would you have had a free area to investigate Ahmici?

    9 A. Yes. Then I would not have needed assistance

    10 in order to gain access to these areas, but I certainly

    11 would have needed support in terms of command power in

    12 order to carry out the most efficient and most high

    13 quality investigation as possible.

    14 Q. Thank you. I would like to ask for a new

    15 document, D364, to be given to you. That is one you

    16 also created on the 24th of April, 1993.

    17 So you are writing this order at 14.20, and

    18 you're telling all commanders of HVO units of the

    19 Operative Zone of Central Bosnia, brigades, and

    20 independent units. The heading is "Treatment of

    21 civilians and prisoners. Request:

    22 On the basis of the request from the chief of

    23 the HVO main headquarters, number 02-2/1-01-673/93 of

    24 the 22nd of April, 1993, and with regard to the

    25 application of the basic principles of international

  57. 1 humanitarian law by all units and members of the HVO, I

    2 hereby demand:

    3 1. Respect for and protection of the

    4 civilian population affected by the fighting;

    5 civilians, by definition, play no active part in these

    6 conflicts and therefore cannot be the target of

    7 attack.

    8 2. Treat captured combatants and civilians

    9 humanely and provide adequate protection for them.

    10 3. Report to the International Red Cross the

    11 identity of all prisoners and detainees, and allow

    12 representatives of the ICRC to visit them, according to

    13 ICRC standards.

    14 4. Collect, take care of (treat surgically)

    15 and protect all the wounded at all times and places,

    16 regardless of their affiliation.

    17 5. I demand free access and guarantee

    18 transit for aid convoys, so that victims of the

    19 conflict may be treated without delay.

    20 Commander Colonel Tihomir Blaskic."

    21 Can you tell us, this is already the fourth

    22 order on the 24th that is related to the protection of

    23 either civilians, or the wounded, or prisoners of war.

    24 Why did you issue so many orders? What did you wish to

    25 achieve with this quantity of orders, and what did you

  58. 1 wish to caution your subordinates against?

    2 A. I already said that one of the fundamental

    3 tasks was the investigation, but for me, the other and

    4 even more important task was to prevent Ahmici from

    5 happening all over again, and I did everything so that

    6 this evil would not be repeated. The observance of

    7 fundamental principles is talked about here, and the

    8 treatment of civilians and prisoners of war.

    9 Q. Fundamental principles of what?

    10 A. Fundamental principles of international

    11 humanitarian law, and I asked all the members of the

    12 HVO to do this.

    13 Q. Thank you. I think that the order is

    14 self-explanatory, so we're not going to explain it now

    15 because it's quite clear.

    16 Perhaps we could move on to the 25th of April

    17 or do you think that perhaps we should break at that

    18 point? We've already finished with the 24th of April,

    19 and we could move on to the 25th.

    20 JUDGE JORDA: Well, the decision is yours.

    21 Mr. Nobilo, it is your decision. We agree -- I thought

    22 that the Defence request, given the fact that your

    23 client is tired, was to stop, but I wanted to be very

    24 clear that we're not the one who made that decision.

    25 We began at a quarter to three, and ordinarily, we

  59. 1 would stop at a quarter to six, but further to the

    2 agreement that we had with this testimony of your

    3 client, I know it's long, it's difficult for him, we

    4 all agreed to your request that we stop early. But we

    5 want it to be very clear that it's your request, that

    6 it's not the fact that the Judges are tired. Judges

    7 are never tired, you know.

    8 MR. NOBILO: The Defence isn't tired either.

    9 It's the client who is tired. So in the interest of

    10 the client, I suggest that we adjourn at this point.

    11 JUDGE JORDA: Let me turn to my colleagues.

    12 All right. We will suspend our hearing now, and we

    13 will start tomorrow at what time, Mr. Registrar? I

    14 believe it's 9.30. Is it 9.00? Yes. It's 9.00. I

    15 thought we had moved things forward a bit. All right.

    16 It's 9.00. That's the gift that Judge Rodrigues gave

    17 to us when he came to us. He said that we would start

    18 at 9.00 on Friday, and we thank him for that.

    19 Court stands adjourned.

    20 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at

    21 5.32 p.m., to be reconvened on Friday,

    22 the 12th day of March, 1999, at

    23 9.00 a.m.