1 Friday, 26th March, 1999
2 (Open session)
3 --- Upon commencing at 11.30 a.m.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated.
5 Mr. Registrar, please have the accused brought in, if
6 he's there.
7 (The accused/witness entered court)
8 JUDGE JORDA: I would like to say good
9 morning to the interpreters, who must be ready, I
11 I think I have to apologise on behalf of this
12 whole Tribunal for this delay, which is due to external
13 reasons, as you all know, and I hope that it was not
14 too disturbing for the witness. Therefore, I think we
15 shall end this hearing at 1.30 as expected, but maybe
16 we could have only one break during the morning, a
17 20-minute break in an hour, approximately. Is that
19 Would General Blaskic agree with this? We
20 would sit until 12.30, we would have a 20-minute break,
21 and we would adjourned at 1.30. I would not like to
22 make the hearing longer. We could stop at 1.30 as
23 scheduled. Would that be convenient, General?
24 THE ACCUSED: Yes, Mr. President. Thank you
25 for asking.
1 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. Mr. Nobilo, let's
2 resume our proceedings.
3 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
4 WITNESS: TIHOMIR BLASKIC (Resumed)
5 Examined by Mr. Nobilo:
6 Q. General, we left off yesterday with
7 September. We finished September. Would you now tell
8 us about the events of October 1993?
9 A. Mr. President, Your Honours. On the 1st of
10 October, 1993, I issued an order to the assistant for
11 personnel at the Operative Zone command to prepare
12 documentation for all appointments which were to have
13 been okayed by the Defence Ministry of the Croatian
14 Republic of Herceg-Bosna.
15 At the beginning of October, we had some
16 problems with the fact that people were leaving the
17 front. Soldiers were leaving the front of their own
18 accord, and the military police went to fetch those
19 soldiers and take them in, those who had left the front
20 line towards the BH army.
21 In the course of the day, I received
22 information from the assistant for security that the
23 protagonists of the unrest in the Lasva pocket were,
24 for the most part, refugees and that the Croat refugees
25 from Zenica presented a particular problem. So these
1 were, in fact, displaced persons, refugees. I informed
2 my associates about the visit of the chief of the main
3 staff, and I informed them of the questions that I had
4 discussed with the chief of the main staff. I
5 emphasised the question of the multiple chains of
6 command and the single responsibility in the Central
7 Bosnia Operative Zone command.
8 I also received more detailed information
9 from the chief of the main staff about the formation of
10 a forward command post of the main staff of the HVO in
11 Kiseljak within Operative Group number 2, its
13 Q. Just a moment, please, General. Tell the
14 Court, please, what we mean when we say "forward
15 command post of the main staff"? What was its function
16 and who performed this? What did it, in fact, mean for
17 their chain of command?
18 A. Well, the forward command post of the main
19 staff in Kiseljak was directly in command of Operative
20 Group 2 of Kiseljak, Kresevo, and the remaining parts
21 of the municipality of Fojnica and parts of the Vares
23 Usually, in this forward command post, you
24 would have either the deputy of the chief of the main
25 staff or a high officer of the main staff appointed by
1 the chief of the main staff of the HVO sent there to be
2 on location at the forward command post. In the chain
3 of command, this meant direct command over Operative
4 Group 2 in Kiseljak by the main staff of the HVO.
5 Q. The first information that you received, you
6 received at the end of September 1993 with regard to
7 the establishment of a forward command post in
8 Kiseljak. What were you told? For how long was this
9 forward command post to be in Kiseljak?
10 A. Well, I was told that it had already been in
11 existence for several months, and this was told to me
12 by the chief of the main staff of the HVO. I was told,
13 at the end of September, that this was functioning
14 already for several months, had been functioning for
15 several months. It was already functioning for more
16 than a month; that is certain.
17 Q. Was this the only forward command post of the
18 main staff at that time or did another exist?
19 A. Yes, there was another forward command post
20 in Prozor, but that was the other zone of
21 responsibility. It was the north-west Herzegovina zone,
22 and possibly there were forward command posts in other
23 positions, but I was not aware of them. I don't know
24 whether they existed.
25 Q. Please continue.
1 A. I received summary information from the
2 command of the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade that, in
3 the course of September 1993, a disciplinary
4 investigation was undertaken against various
5 individuals, that is to say, 60 soldiers in all, and
6 that in the zone of responsibility of the Nikola
7 Subic-Zrinjski Brigade, there were about six
8 extraordinary incidents and events.
9 I received information from the Vitez
10 Brigade, for example, that there had been heavy human
11 losses on the front line and that the commander of the
12 brigade did not have the necessary manpower to fill in
13 the units lacking a sufficient number of soldiers. He
14 asked me that recruits be engaged, women for this to
15 fill up the units, so that the men could take over the
16 role -- that is to say, that the men should be sent to
17 the front line in the Vitez area.
18 I was also informed of the fact that the
19 front line was being deserted en masse and that the
20 snipers were constantly shooting from Stari Vitez in
21 the city centre, the centre of Vitez itself, that there
22 was sniper fire.
23 In the afternoon, I visited the recruits in
24 Nova Bila, and I also received information as to the
25 situation in the centre for the training of new
1 recruits, from the commander of the centre for training
2 in Nova Bila.
3 On the 2nd of October, 1993, in the afternoon
4 in Vitez, an incident broke out when a patrol was
5 denied passage, a patrol of the European Monitoring
6 Mission. There were four members of the mission in a
7 vehicle, and what happened was that there was a burst
8 of gunfire, and it was a warning to this patrol of the
9 European Monitoring Mission. I learned about this
10 incident later on and requested that an investigation
11 be undertaken. I was sent a written report from the
12 assistant for security. He told me that the
13 perpetrators were the members of the Vitezovi, and the
14 names were Josip, Goran Medjugorac, and Slaven
16 I called the commander of the Vitezovi,
17 Mr. Darko Kraljevic, and asked that disciplinary
18 measures be taken against the perpetrators, and I also
19 asked him to inform me of what disciplinary measures
20 had been taken.
21 I also informed, in writing, the chief of the
22 main staff of the HVO of this incident that had
23 occurred, and I know that the assistant for security
24 also sent his own report towards the office for
25 security. I did not receive --
1 JUDGE JORDA: I'm sorry. What did
2 Mr. Kraljevic say, because I think I remember that he
3 said he was independent from you. Then you're saying,
4 "I called the commander of the Vitezovi,
5 Mr. Kraljevic." What is his answer? "I'm independent
6 and have nothing to do with you," or does he say, "Yes,
7 I will lead the investigation and I will take the
8 necessary disciplinary measures"?
9 A. Mr. President, I told him when I got the
10 results, that they were his soldiers, and I gave him
11 the names. I asked him to undertake disciplinary
12 measures against those soldiers, and he told me that he
13 would do so, but I did not receive from him any further
14 information as to what measures he had taken, and I
15 informed the main staff of the HVO about the whole
17 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. Go on.
18 MR. NOBILO:
19 Q. Tell us, please, Slaven Kraljevic, one of the
20 perpetrators of the incident, is he any relation to
21 Darko Kraljevic, the commander of the Vitezovi?
22 A. It was his brother that had taken part in the
24 Q. Please continue.
25 A. In the days that followed, the 6th of
1 October, 1993, the BH army completely took over the
2 Zabrdze area and mountain and the slopes going up to a
3 feature called Jelin Skok. They practically made it
4 impossible for helicopters to fly in, and it placed
5 this area and the airspace above it under its control.
6 Once again, in the course of the 6th of
7 October, I received information from the intelligence
8 service that the BH army would continue to attack Vitez
9 until they had taken it over, taken over the Vitez
10 municipality. I gave, in the course of the 6th of
11 October, written information and informed the chief of
12 the main staff of the HVO of the problem of the
13 relationships between the head of the security centre
14 and the assistant for security, and I asked him in
15 writing, the chief of the main staff, to look into the
16 problem and solve it as soon as possible. I asked that
17 this should be done by the 8th of October, 1993.
18 Next, I asked the operative section to
19 prepare summarily all the requests that I had made in
20 the course of September and sent to the military police
21 so as for me to be able to have an insight into how the
22 tasks had been executed and the requests made by the
23 commander of the military police in September.
24 Q. Let us stop there for a moment and look to
25 the military police. About the 4th of August, you
1 appointed Marinko Palavra as commander. Can you
2 explain to the Trial Chamber briefly how you undertook
3 to reorganise the military police? What measures did
4 you undertake? What steps did you take? Let us see
5 outside this chronology how that evolved.
6 A. We had a difficulty in that respect because
7 Marinko Palavra was an individual who had not performed
8 military police duties previously. He was the
9 commander, the chief of a civilian police unit, so that
10 I had to spend a considerable amount of time myself
11 studying military police rules and regulations taken
12 over from the previous army. I had to give Marinko
13 Palavra instructions and I had to train him, so to
14 speak, in activities of that kind.
15 Q. Tell us, please, what was he by profession
16 and what functions had he performed before the war?
17 A. Your Honours, he was a professor, a
18 PT professor, gymnastics, physical training, and he was
19 the national representative of Bosnia-Herzegovina, he
20 was a judo expert, and he was the director of a primary
21 school as well, the principal of a primary school, I
22 think in the Travnik municipality, which means that he
23 had actually not much to do with the army except for
24 having served his regular military service as a
25 soldier, as indeed every other soldier had done.
1 So that I informed him and tried to
2 capacitate him for the post of commander of a
3 battalion. I gave him the information that I had at my
4 disposal, and I gave him some time to let him take
5 stock of the situation and to give me his own proposals
6 as to how the military police should be reorganised,
7 how he saw this reorganisation, and then we went step
8 by steps towards the formation of a command for the
9 battalion and for selecting commanders for companies
10 and for establishing military police units generally,
11 and we endeavoured in this process to include into the
12 military police honest young men who were, for the most
13 part, at the front line. So one of the decisive
14 criteria was that they should be honest young men and
15 that they had had no criminal record previously in the
16 civilian police files.
17 Q. Tell us, General, what happened to the
18 military policemen who were the perpetrators of
19 violence and who had criminal records, the ones you
20 inherited, so to speak, from the previous period?
21 A. There too we took step by step, and gradually
22 we distanced from the military police the military
23 policemen who had had criminal records. We removed
25 Q. In what way did you select the cadres for the
1 military police? How did you arrive at information as
2 to who would be well-suited to the job?
3 A. Well, usually this was something that
4 Mr. Palavra undertook as well as his associates, and
5 they asked the commanders of part of the battlefront
6 and the commanders of the villages or the commanders of
7 a sector would ask for recommendations to tell them
8 which of the soldiers from the front line would be
9 well-suited to become a member of the military police.
10 After this preliminary list was compiled of possibles,
11 Palavra, with his associates, looked into the criminal
12 records, whether they existed in police stations in
13 Vitez, Busovaca, Novi Travnik, and in part in Travnik
14 itself, particularly the section where the police
15 station functioned, and it was in operation in Nova
17 After all these checks had been made, we
18 selected soldiers for the military police regardless of
19 the fact that individuals had never, in fact, done any
20 military police work before, either in the former
21 Yugolav People's Army or anywhere, and then I would
22 undertake to prepare these men. I would organise
23 training for individual activities and tasks that
24 military police do. I would do this together with the
25 commanders of the battalions and the commanders of the
1 companies from the military police.
2 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Mr. Nobilo, excuse me for
4 General Blaskic, did you play a role in the
5 selection or the appointment of Marinko Palavra as
6 commander of the military police?
7 A. Yes, Your Honour, I did have a role in this
8 in that I nominated him and I received approval from
9 the chief of the main staff to do so; in other words, I
10 nominated him, I proposed him.
11 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you very much,
13 JUDGE JORDA: But I don't think you chose him
14 only for his quality as a gymnastics teacher. Did you
15 have any other reason? Was he a member of the HVO?
16 Did he play a political role? Do you understand my
17 question? You had so many troubles with the military
18 police that I would think that you thought a lot before
19 choosing a military police commander.
20 A. Mr. President, he had no political duties,
21 but I chose him. I studied his file well; I even
22 visited him twice. At that time, he was unaware of the
23 fact that he was one of the candidates. My personnel
24 officer also endeavoured to find all the information
25 available in the field. For me, the basic criteria
1 were honesty, his professionalism in respect of the
2 duties, and his sincerity and his work habits. He was
3 an athlete, he used to be an athlete, and he worked in
4 an elementary school, in fact, he was principal of an
5 elementary school, so he had some -- he was an
6 educator, but his decency was the basic criterion. He
7 hadn't even been in the military police before or a
8 soldier before the war in the former Yugoslavia.
9 MR. NOBILO: (No translation)
10 MR. KEHOE: Excuse me, Mr. President. We're
11 not getting an English translation. I interrupt so we
12 could start from the beginning.
13 MR. NOBILO: I will repeat.
14 Q. In other words, after you had selected
15 Palavra for the military police commander, from today's
16 point of view, between 8 August and January 1994, how
17 do you view his relation to you? I'm not trying to
18 suggest. But in military terms, how would you evaluate
20 A. Your Honours, regarding his relationship to
21 me, he was professional and he was -- he was very
22 professional in terms of the duties and in terms of the
23 relationship of the superior and subordinate.
24 I would just like to point out the
25 environment in which he worked. He was forced to work
1 as the military police commander and carry out tasks on
2 the one hand and, on the other hand, he was also in a
3 position to have to build up this organisation; in
4 other words, the duties of the military police were
5 there, were present, they existed, regardless of the
6 level of organisation of this organisation, and I
7 believe and my assessment is that he did the most he
8 could in terms of both the organisation, establishment
9 of the military police, and its work. He definitely
10 enabled the chain of command to function more
11 efficiently, and he gave a contribution to the overall
12 defence, and I think it was thanks in part to his work
13 that we were able to sustain the defence.
14 Q. What happened next?
15 A. In the course of the 6th of October, I asked
16 that the military police conduct an investigation in
17 relation to the incident which occurred with the
18 European Monitoring Mission representatives, and during
19 the day, we had another incident, that is, the
20 officials of the SIS department shot at Zoran Maric,
21 who was the mayor of Busovaca, and I again asked for an
22 investigation to be carried out in relation to that
23 incident, and I learned that the incident was caused by
24 members of the SIS, S-I-S, centre, and that potentially
25 a new unit had been established. I, at that time, had
1 no information that a new unit had been formed. I
2 later learned that this unit had been established, that
3 it was called Alpha, and that it numbered 25 to 30
4 members. This unit, as well as the SIS centre itself,
5 was completely independent of the Central Bosnia
6 Operative Zone command.
7 I also asked the civilian police in Vitez to
8 assist me in identifying the members of this unit
9 because I had no information on which basis they had
10 been established and who was part of it.
11 I also had a meeting with Palavra, the
12 military police commander. We talked about personnel
13 issues, about organisational issues, and about tasks
14 and about training members of the military police for
15 different tasks. This was on the 8th.
16 On the 9th of October, in Novi Travnik, we
17 had a tragic event when citizens from Novi Travnik went
18 for a supply of water, a mother was carrying a child,
19 two-and-a-half-year-old child, and while she was
20 getting water in front of a cistern in Novi Travnik, a
21 sniper killed the child and seriously wounded the
23 At 11.00, I had a meeting with members of the
24 European Monitoring Mission. I have no names of the
25 officials in my notes, but they notified me that they
1 had problems in cooperating with the Ban Josip Jelacic
2 Brigade personnel in Kiseljak. I explained to the
3 officials of the European Monitoring Mission that I too
4 had difficulties in communicating with Kiseljak and
5 that I would try to take steps and work on
6 re-establishing communication between Kiseljak and the
8 On the 10th of October, I had a meeting with
9 Mr. de la Mota and Colonel Duncan, commander of the
10 British battalion. In this meeting, we discussed a
11 number of issues, and I'm going to list them here.
12 The first issue was the evacuation of the
13 wounded from Stari Vitez and the church hospital. In
14 Stari Vitez, the wounded were members of the BH army,
15 and in the church hospital, the wounded were members of
16 the HVO.
17 Second, the issue of fuel for the generator
18 in the Nova Bila hospital which I had asked the UNHCR
19 or UNPROFOR, I asked for assistance in delivery of that
20 fuel, and also the issue of food for some 30.000
21 displaced persons and refugees in the Lasva area. I
22 said that we had 75.000 people crowded in a very small
23 area, and I also asked for information about the
24 detained Croats in Zenica. I also pointed out the
25 problems with the water supplies, and I told the
1 representatives of the UNPROFOR and UNHCR that Vitez
2 was without water, that Novi Travnik was without water,
3 and that the hospital was without water and that the
4 water pumps were all under the control of the BH army.
5 I also asked that the water supply be reinstated.
6 Also discussed was the issue of the separated
7 families, in other words, Croats who happened to be in
8 Vitez and their families were in Zenica and also some
9 Bosniak Muslims who were in Zenica and their families
10 had been left behind in Vitez.
11 This was also an opportunity for me to
12 address the issues of the difference in positions of
13 the UNHCR and UNPROFOR because representatives of both
14 sides were there. I asked them if they would harmonise
15 their positions and I would help them subsequently.
16 Q. You said that you were trying to reunite
17 families if one member of the family was in Zenica and
18 wanted to reunite with the rest of the family in Vitez,
19 say. What was the position of the UNHCR?
20 A. The position of the UNHCR was that any
21 movements of the families, any settlement of the
22 families amounted to ethnic cleansing, and the
23 positions that I had and the Red Cross had, the UNHCR
24 had, was that we wanted them reunited. So we had a
25 difference in positions, and I said that if those
1 positions were harmonised, that I would support that
2 unified position.
3 The conclusions of the meeting were that the
4 fuel for the hospital and for the fire fighting unit
5 would be provided, that the UNHCR would assist in
6 providing food for the displaced persons and refugees,
7 that they would mediate in trying to reopen the
8 supplies of water in Novi Travnik and in the church
9 hospital, and that they will work on acquiring
10 information about the detained Croats.
11 As far as the reunification of families was
12 concerned, the UNHCR representative, de la Mota, said
13 that in individual but exceptional cases, after a
14 verification process by the UNHCR, they would reunite
15 individual families.
16 On the 11th of October, 1993, we had a
17 renewed attack at all defence lines by the BH army in
18 Vitez, and again at 14.00, I called a meeting with all
19 sector commanders in order to counter this attack and
20 reinforce the defence. The attack was coming from the
21 south side, from the direction of Zabrdze and the
22 explosives factory.
23 On 13 October, 1993, I received information
24 from the chief of the Military Intelligence Service
25 that the BH army was bringing in forces from Sarajevo
1 and Tuzla in the BH army 3rd Corps zone of
2 responsibility and that most probably these forces
3 would be used for the conquest of Vitez and Busovaca.
4 In the course of the day of the 13th of
5 October, I learned about a new phenomenon which was the
6 self-wounding of soldiers at the line of defence. It
7 had become a frequent kind of incident, that the
8 soldiers would wound themselves and then be transferred
9 to the hospital where they would receive medical
10 treatment and would be taken away from the front line.
11 Again, there were rumours about the selling
12 out of the territory, that is, the exchange of
13 territory of Central Bosnia for the Mostar area, and
14 they had a debilitating effect on the morale at the
15 front line.
16 Again, on the 13th of October, I asked the
17 military police commander to allow the passage of a
18 UNHCR convoy. This was a convoy carrying food to Stari
19 Vitez. Again, this convoy was blocked by civilians,
20 mostly women from Vitez, because they were suspicious
21 of the convoy carrying ammunition and demanded that the
22 convoy be checked. I issued an order to the military
23 police to convince the civilians to let the convoy
24 pass, and after some convincing, the humanitarian aid
25 passed through to Stari Vitez.
1 I also asked for the military police to
2 conduct an investigation relating to the stolen
3 vehicles, UNHCR vehicles, and the investigation later
4 produced some results. We managed to have three UNHCR
5 vehicles returned. They were discovered with members
6 of the Vitezovi, and they already had been properly
7 registered with the civilian police authorities in
9 In the course of the day, logistic support
10 was parachuted by helicopter from Mostar, and I was
11 informed that a Vitezovi unit had received 10.600
12 pieces of ammunition. This was a surprise for me
13 because they had asked for 7.000. Usually, we would
14 get less than we asked for. In this case, the opposite
15 was true. The commander had requested less, yet he
16 received more ammunition than he had asked for, even
17 though it was in such short supply for us.
18 The helicopters, once the BH army had taken
19 control of Zabrdze, landed very rarely, and they would
20 mostly drop ammunition and other materiel by parachute,
21 as the only way of providing logistics support to the
22 Lasva pocket.
23 At 18.00, I had another meeting with
24 Commander Palavra, and together, we studied the rules
25 on the work of the crime department of the military
1 police, trying to organise ourselves and organise the
2 work of the crime department and to select new
3 personnel because we had learnt that the members of
4 that service were collaborating with local criminal
6 Q. General, Palavra had taken over command of
7 the 4th Military Police Battalion, and you were
8 Palavra's superior. Did Palavra have control over the
9 entire military police in Central Bosnia or did a part
10 of the military police remain outside his command,
11 which means outside yours as well?
12 A. A part of the military police still remained
13 outside my authority and his, which means that Palavra
14 did not have control over any other military police
15 unit, except of the 4th Battalion, which was later
16 called the 7th Battalion. There was a light assault
17 battalion of the military police which was not under
18 Palavra's control, nor did I have any control over that
19 unit in control and command terms.
20 JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me, General. When the
21 military police was attached to you, which you wanted
22 for a long time, were you told that you would not have
23 command over the whole military police?
24 A. Yes, Mr. President. A battalion of the
25 military police was attached to me. It was directly
1 under my command in terms of control and command, but
2 there was another military police unit which, in the
3 period I'm referring to now, was not directly
4 subordinated to me.
5 MR. NOBILO:
6 Q. Now, let us explain with a few questions the
7 nature of that unit. Tell us, what was the difference
8 between the light assault battalion, which was not
9 subordinated to you or Marinko Palavra, and the 7th or
10 4th Military Police Battalion?
11 A. The military police battalion was mainly
12 intended for military police work, whereas the light
13 assault battalion was a combat unit of the military
14 police designed for combat operations carried out by
15 military police forces.
16 Q. That light assault military police battalion,
17 which, as you said, was designed exclusively for combat
18 purposes, what was its name on the 16th of April,
19 1993? What were its origins?
20 A. It was called the anti-terrorist platoon of
21 the military police, and they referred to themselves as
22 the Jokers, but this anti-terrorist platoon was
23 increased to the level of a battalion which came to be
24 called the light assault battalion.
25 Q. If you were not in command of that light
1 assault battalion, formally the Jokers, and if Marinko
2 Palavra, your subordinate, was not in command of it,
3 who was in command of that unit?
4 A. That unit was directly subordinate to the
5 chief of the military police department in Mostar, and
6 for a short time, and when I say "short," I mean a
7 period of one month roughly, that unit was under the
8 command of the chief of the military police
9 administration through the assistant chief in each
10 Operative Zone, which means that throughout the
11 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna, there were four
12 Operative Zones, and each Operative Zones had one
13 assistant chief of the military police department.
14 That chief of the military police administration was in
15 command of those units through his assistants in those
17 Q. Who was it in the Lasva Valley?
18 A. For a time, it was Mr. Pasko Ljubicic.
19 JUDGE JORDA: Can we therefore understand
20 that this unit, the Jokeri, could intervene following
21 point 8 of article 10 of the rules that were used by
22 the Defence yesterday and which relates to the
23 activities of the military police? Do you remember I
24 asked some questions about this point, point 8? It was
25 struggling against terrorism, rebellion, and other
1 enemy groups; do you remember?
2 A. Yes, I do remember, Mr. President.
3 JUDGE JORDA: Can we therefore interpret what
4 you say as the following: The Jokeri, this assault
5 unit, could have taken part in the events at Ahmici
6 following point 8 of article 10 of these rules?
7 A. In accordance with point 8 -- as far as I
8 remember, that one referred to struggle against
9 sabotage groups -- it could intervene. It is rather
10 ambiguous, as I myself said, because for that
11 particular point, no special permission from the
12 defence minister was required.
13 JUDGE JORDA: I think, Mr. Nobilo, that we
14 will wait for some clarifications on this problem of
15 rules and regulations. Because today we're talking
16 about the Jokeri, the anti-terrorist group, the 7th
17 Battalion, which was also entitled to take part in the
18 events, and I think we will need some clarification on
19 that point in due time.
20 We can now take the break, a 20-minute
21 break. We will start again at twenty to twelve.
22 --- Recess taken at 12.20 p.m.
23 --- On resuming at 12.45 p.m.
24 JUDGE JORDA: The hearing is resumed. Please
25 be seated.
1 Mr. Nobilo?
2 MR. NOBILO: Thank you.
3 Q. General, I think we had stopped when
4 discussing the 14th of October, 1993.
5 A. Yes. On the 14th of October, 1993, offensive
6 operations and fighting continued, and in the second
7 half of the night between the 14th and the 15th,
8 UNPROFOR members brought three members of the HVO in
9 front of the Vitez Hotel, the command building, who had
10 been caught stealing fuel from the United Nations
11 logistics base in Nova Bila. They were handed over to
12 the officer on duty. These were members of the Vitez
14 The following day, I wrote a letter of thanks
15 to the UNPROFOR commander for cooperating with us in
16 preventing crime, and I issued 60 days of military
17 detention as a disciplinary measure for all three.
18 Q. Was that the maximum penalty you could give?
19 A. Yes. At the press conference, I condemned
20 this act of crime, and I publicly expressed my
21 gratitude for all assistance given in crime prevention,
22 and I also appealed to others to assist and support us
23 in preventing crime in the area of the Lasva pocket.
24 I also had a meeting with members of the
25 command in the course of the day, and we discussed the
1 question of crime and robberies and also the usurpation
2 of apartments, mostly belonging to Bosniak Muslims, in
3 Vitez, Novi Travnik, and partly in Busovaca as well.
4 In the afternoon, I had --
5 JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me, General. When you
6 said you examined or discussed the problem of the
7 occupation of apartments, what does that actually
8 mean? Because you took a number of orders regarding
9 evictions, confiscation of homes; these were Exhibits
10 316 and so on, I think. But at a meeting of this kind,
11 on the 14th of October, you kept repeating that
12 apartments should not be appropriated by people who had
13 left or did you take sanctions? What did you do?
14 A. Mr. President, when examining such incidents
15 regarding the usurpation of departments, I tried to
16 discover who was behind it, whether it was displaced
17 persons who were very numerous - there were about
18 35.000 of them in the small areas - or was it done by
19 soldiers or members of the military police, the former
20 military police, which were most prominent in such
22 If the soldiers were behind it, then I would
23 give orders to the military police to throw out
24 the usurpers and to restore the apartments to the
25 proper owners. I even gave orders for guard duty to be
1 organised in front of these dwellings so that the
2 owners would feel safer, and there were such cases too.
3 JUDGE JORDA: But you already had issued such
4 orders, General Blaskic, at least a month or two months
5 previously. Did you keep repeating orders? Did you
6 have real sanctions? What did you actually undertake?
7 I don't doubt that this must have been a major problem,
8 to have 35.000 refugees around you, and you had to take
9 care of all of that in addition to waging war, but when
10 you did address the issue, what exactly did you do,
11 because you had already issued orders at least a month
12 or two months previously on expulsions and the question
13 of dwellings.
14 A. When I received a list with the names of the
15 perpetrators, I issued orders to the military police to
16 throw out soldiers from apartments regardless of
17 whether they were displaced persons or not. If a
18 soldier was in an apartment that had been owned by a
19 Bosniak Muslim, he would be thrown out and the original
20 owners would be restored, if that was possible. That
21 was the concrete step I took. I even had talks with
22 individual Bosniak Muslim families and told them to go
23 back to their apartments, and their answer would be,
24 "What's the point of going back if we're going to be
25 evicted again in two days' time?" Then I said, "Very
1 well. You will have guards in front of your apartments
2 so that you can be sure that you will not be evicted
3 again." So there were even such very specific measures
4 taken by me.
5 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo, do you have
6 evidence of this? Do you have documents confirming
7 these specific actions taken?
8 MR. NOBILO: We have the orders whereby
9 General Blaskic prohibited such things, then we have
10 another order naming the military policemen who had
11 entered other people's apartments and for whom
12 disciplinary measures were requested, and we have the
13 testimony of General Blaskic who remembers specific
14 cases when he provided protection to individual
15 families. For when he sent a patrol to throw out a
16 soldier and bring back the Muslim family, there is
17 nothing in writing, no written trace about this, there
18 is no written order for such a concrete, specific case.
19 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, Mr. Nobilo.
20 General Blaskic, in this area of the
21 occupation of flats and houses by others, did you have
22 any cooperation with others or any manner of contacting
23 the civilian authorities, or was this a problem that
24 you alone had to deal with?
25 A. Your Honour, let me say first that Vitez for
1 me was an unknown entity too because I hadn't spent a
2 minute in that town before the war, so I asked the
3 mayor to provide me with a list of dwellings that he
4 knew or his bodies knew that their owners had been
5 evicted from, and only when I received that list -- I
6 myself was surprised, I think there were about 39 flats
7 or a total of 53 dwellings that had been seized by the
8 military police, and I had expected that same military
9 to punish such tendencies. So this happened before.
10 After that, the mayor and I tried to thwart
11 such attempts and to prevent them, so we did
12 coordinate, we would coordinate on the phone, and at
13 one point we organised a meeting for the people behind
14 the evictions and those whose responsibility it was to
15 punish such evictions. So I did cooperate with the
17 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, General.
18 JUDGE JORDA: Continue, Mr. Nobilo, please.
19 MR. NOBILO: Thank you.
20 Q. General, let us continue with the chronology
21 of events.
22 A. On the 14th of October, in the evening, I was
23 informed that a helicopter was about to arrive for the
24 transportation of the wounded, and I called Mr. Palavra
25 for us to deal with the problem of security to make
1 sure that only the heavily wounded should be boarded on
2 the helicopter because we feared that the refugees
3 would crowd together and try to occupy the places
4 intended for the wounded.
5 Q. Tell us, General, in your assessment, you
6 just said that the refugees wanted to get on the
7 helicopter and get away. In your assessment, if the BH
8 army had allowed free passage, a free corridor, between
9 Vitez and Busovaca and Herzegovina and said, "Through
10 the international organisation, we guarantee safety to
11 all passing through that corridor," what would have
13 A. Under conditions of absolute hunger and a
14 shortage of everything but death, I do believe that
15 everyone would have left the area.
16 Let me just add, many moral values were
17 reversed. All the burials took place at night, not one
18 during the daytime. I remember that I was surprised
19 when I noticed unusual behaviour among my associates on
20 one occasion and I asked what was happening, and then
21 they told me from the operations department, "Nobody
22 was killed today." And that was strange; it was an
23 unusual day. Everybody was surprised that nobody had
24 been killed. Unfortunately, there were very few such
1 Q. As an example, a package with twenty
2 cigarettes, how much was it worth in this pocket where
3 you were?
4 A. The lowest price was 70 and it went up to 100
5 German marks, and one handmade cigarette made with
6 tobacco would be shared between three to five soldiers,
7 if any were available. I have an example at the end of
8 the month when the assistant for logistics asked me how
9 to deal with a problem of one kilogram of powder milk
10 and how to share it among 52 children.
11 Q. What was your diet in those days?
12 A. All the soldiers on the front line received
13 at 10.00 a.m. lentils or rice.
14 Q. Was there any meat?
15 A. No. In the afternoon, they mostly ate rice.
16 So it was either lentils or rice. Towards the end of
17 November, there was no bread even to distribute to the
18 soldiers, so actually, they only had two meals mostly.
19 Q. Go on, please.
20 A. On the 15th of October, 1993, at about 18.30,
21 the commander of the military police informed me that
22 at the Bobasi front line, a military policeman called
23 Zeba had spoken to his colleague from the 17th Krajina
24 Brigade of the BH army, and they knew each other
25 because they were both in the Kotor Varos battalion
1 before, that is, from the days of 1992, and his friend,
2 who was in this case the attacker, said to Zeba, and I
3 quote: "There can be no agreement with the HVO. We
4 have been ordered to go until the end. The 7th Muslim
5 Brigade will attack from the north and kill the Croats
6 once it enters Vitez."
7 Q. Tell us, please, what was the belief of the
8 70.000 Croats which had been pushed into the pocket of
9 the Lasva River Valley? What did they think would
10 happen to them if your defence fell? What was the
11 general belief, conviction?
12 A. Well, there was the belief that it would be
13 total destruction, that most of them would be killed.
14 Q. Please continue.
15 A. On the 17th of October, 1993, the commander
16 of the Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade asked me to
17 temporarily halt all disciplinary measures being
18 carried out in the military detention centre, and he
19 said that the disciplinary measures had, in fact,
20 become stimulative measures, that is to say, in his own
21 brigade in Novi Travnik, the soldiers intentionally
22 carried out offences so as to receive disciplinary
23 measures and be sent to detention centres and thus
24 avoid going to the front line, so that there were many
25 more breaches than was usual.
1 Q. Tell me, General, in the morning, your
2 soldiers had lentils to eat, they had rice in the
3 afternoon, sometimes with bread, sometimes without
4 bread. What was the situation like in the Kaonik
5 prison camp?
6 A. Well, according to my knowledge and the
7 information that I received, in the Kaonik prison camp,
8 the detainees were given three meals a day. They did
9 not have three meals a day even in the hospital. The
10 wounded people were sometimes given two meals a day.
11 Sometimes we would have vegetable fat, and we would
12 give it out for breakfast.
13 Q. Please continue.
14 A. In Busovaca, on the 17th of October, an
15 attack was launched on the parish office in Busovaca
16 and the Caritas warehouse. This was done by uniformed
17 individuals. Foodstuffs were taken for the most part,
18 rice and oil. Also in the course of the 17th of
19 October, there was an artillery attack in the centre of
20 the town of Vitez and a trial had been organised in the
21 District Court of Vitez when these activities were
22 under way.
23 At 10.00, I got a call from the mayor, Ivica
24 Santic, and he asked me whether we were going to be
25 able to hold out, what were my assessments, and would
1 we be able to hold out in our defence?
2 Sometime between 11.00 and 12.00 on that day,
3 I had a meeting with Colonel Duncan, the commander of
4 the BritBat, and he informed me that a meeting would be
5 held in Kiseljak and that the meeting would be attended
6 by General Petkovic who was, at the time, the deputy
7 chief of the main staff of the HVO. I told Colonel
8 Duncan that I was very worried with the situation in
9 the Lasva pocket and the food shortage there, and he
10 told me, Colonel Duncan told me, that is, that he was
11 surprised that the HVO had not organised a convoy for
12 Central Bosnia from the Republic of Croatia or perhaps
13 from Herzegovina, and I told him on the occasion, I
14 said, "What road should we use?" because communications
15 were not under our control.
16 Q. Tell us, please, General, if you can
17 remember, when was the last time a convoy reached the
18 area of Central Bosnia from Herzegovina with
19 foodstuffs? When was the last one?
20 A. Well, I can't remember the exact date, it is
21 difficult to say, but it was -- there were no convoys
22 from, say, April 1993. I'm sure that not a single
23 convoy arrived. The only food that was distributed was
24 the food that we were able to come by from the UNHCR,
25 and that food was given to the refugees as a priority.
1 So the UNHCR fed the refugees. That was its task.
2 Q. Please continue.
3 A. I also discussed with Colonel Duncan matters
4 of communication, the situation at the front line, and
5 I told him that, in fact, I was most preoccupied with
6 survival in the region; and on the 17th, in the course
7 of the day, I received information that the commander
8 of the special purposes unit, Darko Kraljevic, for the
9 needs of foreign television crews, had carried out some
10 faked operations, placing explosives in our trenches
11 and the activation of the same and then opened fire
12 while this was being filmed by the foreign television
13 crews, and I think I even saw a clip from that material
14 that was taped. I think that it was even shown here.
15 But this was, as I say, staged for the filming
16 activities. There were no combat results in the
17 operations that were undertaken by him on that
18 occasion. I received written information about this
19 from the assistant for security, and I myself informed
20 the chief of the main staff of the HVO of those
22 On the 18th of October, 1993, the attack
23 continued on Vitez and Travnik, and that same day in
24 Busovaca, throughout the day, it was peaceful, quiet,
25 but around 17.00, a projectile fell, artillery
1 projectiles fell in the centre of the town of Busovaca,
2 and eight civilians were seriously injured.
3 I also received information that up until the
4 18th of October, from the 3rd of September, there were
5 four helicopter flights bringing in about eight tonnes
6 of cargo, materiel, and technical equipment.
7 In the course of the 18th of October, I had a
8 meeting with the IPD, the assistant for Information and
9 Propaganda Activities, and we looked at the situation
10 and the fatigue that was being caused, neuroses,
11 rumours, the sensitivity of the soldiers themselves,
12 and the general drop of overall morale. Morale was
13 very low, particularly at the front line with the
14 soldiers there. We discussed how to tackle this
15 question and solve it and improve morale with the
16 fighters, with the people.
17 I also received information from the main
18 staff in the course of the 18th of October telling me
19 that the pilots of the Croatian Defence Council did not
20 wish and could no longer fly because of fatigue and
21 because of constant combat operations so that they had
22 decided to halt supplies to Vitez from the 18th of
23 October onwards.
24 On the 19th of October, activities
25 continued. In the early morning, there were artillery
1 attacks on part of the Busovaca battlefront at the
2 Kaonik feature, the crossroads of the
3 Vitez-Busovaca-Zenica road. On that day, a convoy
4 passed by for the purposes of the BH army. The convoy
5 was running towards Novi Travnik, Travnik, Guca Gora,
6 and across Stranjani and Cajdras to Zenica. The convoy
7 passed by without impediment from the HVO --
8 Q. It was the convoy of the BH army, was it not?
9 A. Yes, it was a BH army convoy which passed by
10 in the direct vicinity of the front line, but the
11 entire road at that time was controlled by the BH army.
12 Q. If you let their convoy pass by, do you not
13 think that the main staff of the HVO in Mostar could
14 have organised a convoy which would take assistance to
15 you? How do you view that issue?
16 A. Well, I can only assume that an agreement of
17 that kind could have been reached because this convoy
18 could have been stopped by the units in the Lasva
19 pocket, but we did not hamper the free passage of the
20 convoy, and the convoy did go through without any HVO
21 attacks and it entered Zenica. Quite possibly there
22 could have been an agreement to send a joint convoy,
23 all the more so as in December 1993, joint convoys were
24 sent. So if this was possible in December 1993, then
25 it could have been possible in October 1993 as well.
1 Q. The food that was loaded up in the convoys,
2 how did it enter Bosnia-Herzegovina, according to your
3 knowledge, and how was it taken to Zenica? Via which
4 territory? Which territory did it have to pass
6 A. Well, all the food had to pass from the
7 Republic of Croatia via the area controlled by the HVO
8 and further on towards the areas controlled by the BH
10 Q. Thank you. Please continue.
11 A. On the 19th of October at 15.00, I had a
12 telephone conversation with the defence minister, Bruno
13 Stojic, and he told me that he would mediate in the
14 transport of weapons which the municipal officials of
15 the municipalities of Busovaca, Vitez, Novi Travnik,
16 and Travnik, the authorities there had decided to
17 purchase on the market for the soldiers of the HVO, and
18 he asked me to cooperate with the presidents of the
19 municipalities and to send in specifications as to what
20 kind of weapons we needed, the weapons most necessary
21 for defence in the area.
22 Q. Did you get the weapons?
23 A. Yes, we got the weapons after the signing of
24 the Washington Agreement. It arrived into the Lasva
25 River Valley, but it did not arrive before that; and,
1 as I say, the weapons were bought on the market.
2 Q. Please continue.
3 A. On the 19th of October, in the second half of
4 the day, I sent the defence minister a written proposal
5 for changing the organisation in the Lasva pocket, and
6 the essence of my proposal was to disband the special
7 purpose units and to form a unit which would be created
8 as a unit directly subordinate to me. I gave the
9 example that it could be called a guard unit, that was
10 my proposal, and I included the disbanding of the
11 Vitezovi, the Tvrtko unit, and the light assault
12 battalion. That proposal was sent on the 19th of
13 October, 1993.
14 On the 20th of October, 1993, we once again
15 looked into the problems of disciplinary measures and
16 the lack of manpower up at the front line and a
17 situation in which these disciplinary measures were a
18 stimulative measure.
19 On the 21st of October, 1993, I asked that,
20 in the town of Vitez, signs be put up which would
21 caution citizens where sniper fire was coming from and
22 that in the streets large banners should be set up and
23 canvasses so as make it impossible for snipers from
24 Stari Vitez to fire on the citizens of Vitez, to block
25 their view, in fact. This was one of the ways of
1 protecting the population from losing their lives from
2 sniper fire. So the operations continued.
3 I also received information on the 21st of
4 October that in the Lasva pocket, about 80 children
5 were left either without one or both parents who had
6 been killed during the combat operations. On that day,
7 we received assistance from the UNHCR. The UNHCR
8 brought in four truckloads of foodstuffs for Kruscica
9 and four truckloads for the Vitez municipality which
10 was under the control of the civilian authorities.
11 We again had the problem that the civilians
12 hindered the passage of the convoy to Kruscica, again
13 demanding control and again expressing their suspicion
14 that it was ammunition which was being transported.
15 Also on the 21st of October, the assistance
16 reached the church hospital in Nova Bila. I issued an
17 order during that day that all long-barrelled weapons be
18 sent to the front line and that these types of weapons
19 not be used away from the front lines. This was sent
20 to all the HVO units.
21 I also received information from Novi Travnik
22 that the Serbs were trying to leave the area of Novi
23 Travnik. I was informed of this by the commander of
24 the Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade in Novi Travnik, and I
25 said to him that he should convey our position to the
1 civilian authorities of Novi Travnik. Our position was
2 that, in principle, we were against their leaving the
3 area and that we were supporting the UNHCR position
4 that everybody should remain in their own homes.
5 I do not know exactly how this case, that is,
6 this request of the Serbian citizens of Novi Travnik
7 ended. I believe that a part of them left and that
8 another part remained in Novi Travnik. They had left
9 Novi Travnik via Travnik under the auspices of the
10 international organisations.
11 On the 22nd of October, I received
12 information from the communications officer, Mr. Gelic,
13 that the BH army in Zeljezno Polje had executed
14 mobilised Croatian recruits who had been mobilised in
15 Zenica for having refused to fight Croats in Zepce. I
16 later asked that this information be confirmed, I asked
17 it of Colonel Duncan, and this information was not
19 At 13.35, in Travnik, there was a duel
20 between the local criminal gang leaders, Tuka on the
21 one side and Zuti on the other side. It was a classic
22 gun battle in which Tuka had seriously wounded Zuti.
23 Later on, two brigades from that area, the Frankopan
24 Brigade and the Travnik Brigade, had a confrontation,
25 and it was really the sympathisers of the two
1 gang lords who confronted each other. I tried to calm
2 down the situation among the Travnik brigades. I said
3 that this was not a way to resolve things, and I issued
4 an order to the military police and the security office
5 to conduct an investigation. The next day, on the 23rd
6 of October, there was a renewed confrontation, and the
7 tensions were rising between the Frankopan and the
8 Travnik Brigade.
9 On the 24th of October, the military police
10 commander had punished two military policemen for their
11 improper carrying out of given orders, and they were
12 sent to the detention unit. This was big news because,
13 up until then, very few disciplinary measures had been
14 given to the soldiers.
15 I also had a meeting with Miso Mijic, the
16 chief of the SIS office, and he said that the SIS
17 centre would undertake --
18 Q. Just a moment, please. Let's further specify
19 the record. You said that it was very rare that people
20 went to the military prison. Was it the soldiers or
21 the military policemen?
22 A. The military policemen.
23 Q. The record says that disciplinary measures
24 had been given to soldiers, whereas you said that it
25 was very rarely given to the military policemen?
1 A. Yes, before that time.
2 Q. Why don't you just repeat your answer
3 regarding the disciplinary measures?
4 A. The military police commander punished two
5 military policemen and sentenced them to the military
6 detention for their failure to perform their military
7 police duties.
8 Q. And then what was your comment to this?
9 A. I said that this was an event, it was news,
10 because it had been rare until then that the military
11 policemen were sent to detention for their failure to
12 perform or carry out their duties.
13 Q. Very well. We have cleared up the
14 transcript. Let's move on to the meeting with Miso
15 Mijic of the SIS centre, and if you can just shed some
16 light on the problems with the SIS centre in the Lasva
18 A. The SIS centre still worked independently, on
19 its own. Miso Mic, the chief of the SIS centre, told
20 me that he intended to take over complete control of
21 the explosives factory, as well as all the helicopter
22 flights and helicopter transports. From this, I
23 concluded that there had been no response to my request
24 that this problem of the SIS centre and its role be
25 resolved by the competent security administration.
1 Q. General, please remind us, who was the deputy
2 chief of the SIS centre?
3 A. The deputy chief of the SIS centre was the
4 commander of the Vitezovi, Darko Kraljevic.
5 Q. In your opinion, why did Darko Kraljevic and
6 Miso Mijic from the SIS centre want to take control of
7 the explosives factory and of the helicopter flights
8 and drops?
9 A. In this way, they would be able not only to
10 control their own logistics supplies, which they were
11 receiving directly from the main staff, but also the
12 logistics supplies of the Operative Zone and, in that
13 way, control the manner in which the defence was being
14 conducted and also, in that way, they would have at
15 their disposal the valuable technology, administration,
16 and everything else that had to do with the explosives
17 factory, including its role in the defence.
18 JUDGE JORDA: Perhaps, Mr. Nobilo, that will
19 be enough for today. I should like us to stop there.
20 We need another five minutes in closed session to
21 discuss our programme for the first week of April. We
22 won't need more than five or six minutes.
23 MR. NOBILO: Certainly, Mr. President. We
24 can stop there.
25 JUDGE JORDA: Let's have a private session
1 then, please.
2 (Private session)
13 Pages 19792 to 19799 redacted – in private session
21 --- Whereupon proceedings adjourned at
22 1.42 p.m., to be reconvened on Tuesday,
23 the 6th day of April, 1999, at10.00 a.m.