1 Tuesday, 4th May, 1999
2 (Open session)
3 --- Upon commencing at 10.09 a.m.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated.
5 Mr. Registrar, will you please have the witness brought
7 (The accused/witness entered court)
8 JUDGE JORDA: Good morning to the
9 interpreters, the court reporters, counsel for the
10 Prosecution, counsel for the Defence.
11 I should like to remind us, for the benefit
12 of the public, that we are in the cross-examination
13 stage of the accused who is in the position of a
14 witness under oath, and I shall give the floor to the
15 Prosecutor as soon as General Blaskic has been made
16 comfortable, whom I wish good morning to as well.
17 Mr. Prosecutor?
18 MR. KEHOE: Good morning, Mr. President, Your
19 Honours, counsel. Thank you very much. Good morning,
21 Pursuant to your instructions or instructions
22 of the registrar, Mr. President, if I could move back
23 to those documents that we were ending with yesterday,
24 and if we could just -- I split them up, as instructed,
25 Mr. President.
1 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. Mr. Registrar, can
2 we have all these documents marked, please, in order?
3 THE REGISTRAR: This will be Prosecution
4 Exhibit 609, 609A for the French version, 609B for the
5 English version.
6 MR. KEHOE: Mr. Registrar, we're going to
7 continue. I'll have them all marked, with the
8 assistance of the usher at this juncture.
9 JUDGE JORDA: The Judges are giving their
10 ruling regarding the request for a private session
11 requested by the Defence --
12 MR. KEHOE: Excuse me, Mr. President. I
13 think Mr. Harmon would like to provide some additional
14 information on that score.
15 MR. HAYMAN: Could we do that in private
16 session, Mr. President? Could we discuss this issue in
17 private session rather than have counsel or the
18 Court --
19 JUDGE JORDA: I should like to remind you
20 that it would be normal for the Judges to render their
21 decision. The debate in principle was closed. But as
22 the parties --
23 MR. HAYMAN: That's fine. We agree. We just
24 prefer that the specific subject matter of our request
25 be discussed in private session, not be addressed
1 otherwise. Of course, if the Court can rule without
2 identifying the specific request, that's fine, in
3 public session, but if counsel has an argument, we
4 would want that in private session.
5 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Harmon, would you like us
6 to have a private session just to hear your last
7 remarks because the Chamber was on the point of making
8 its ruling. We thought that we had finished the debate
9 yesterday. Mr. Prosecutor?
10 MR. HARMON: I just wish to add some
11 additional information, Mr. President, to informations
12 of the Court --
13 JUDGE JORDA: But if you are adding, if you
14 are adding any information, then, as requested by the
15 Defence, please, we had better go into a private
16 session. So a very short private session. I am saying
17 this so that we do not lose the public. It has to do
18 with an incident regarding a request of the Defence for
19 a private, temporary session on which the Judges will
20 render their decision. But we have a few more comments
21 to hear before that, so we will do so in private
23 (Private session)
13 pages 20845-20852 redacted – private session
25 (Open session)
1 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President, while the court
2 would have retired to deliberate, the registrar and I
3 took the liberty of pre-marking some of the exhibits,
4 and we now have a series of exhibits that reflect from
5 Prosecutor's 609 to Prosecutor's 614 respectively. All
6 of these documents, Mr. President and Your Honours,
7 should be in B/C/S/, French, and English.
8 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibits 609,
9 610, 611, 612, 613, 614. For each of these exhibits
10 there is a French and an English version. The French
11 version being, for example, 609A and the English
12 version being, for example, 609B. This is the case for
13 each of the aforementioned exhibits.
14 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President, the Prosecutor
15 does not intend to read through all these documents,
16 they speak for themselves, but if we reflect just
17 briefly on each of the documents.
18 The subject matter of these documents has to
19 do with the killing of an individual by the name of
20 Drazen Gvozden, that we can see from these documents
21 was a member of the army of the Republic of Croatia.
22 He was killed on the 3rd of October, 1993 in an area
23 around Siroki Brijeg Herzegovina, and while he was
24 killed, this soldier from the Republic of Croatia --
25 JUDGE JORDA: Just a minute, Mr. Kehoe.
1 You're talking about 610 or 609? 609 doesn't mention
2 Mr. Gvozden. What document are you speaking about?
3 MR. KEHOE: I will take them in series. The
4 first document, 609, is the judgement against Marinko
5 Musa, who is a member of the HVO, who was accused of
6 manslaughter in the killing of Drazen Gvozden. On the
7 9th of September of 1994 in the Mostar military Court,
8 Mr. Musa was found not guilty of that charge.
9 In the next document -- I might reflect that
10 the judgement of the Court in 609 does reflect that Mr.
11 Musa did, in fact, shoot and kill Mr. Gvozden, but for
12 extenuating circumstances he was found not guilty of
13 involuntary manslaughter.
14 The next document, 610, is an HVO certificate
15 of death concerning Mr. Gvozden which notes that
16 Mr. Gvozden was killed in combat against Muslim armed
17 forces on Hum near Mostar on 3 October, 1993. That, of
18 course, is in contrast to the prior document where, in
19 fact, Mr. Musa shot Mr. Gvozden.
20 The next document, Mr. President, is a
21 newspaper article which reflects the filing of a
22 lawsuit by the Gvozden family against the Republic of
23 Croatia and the Republic of Herceg-Bosna, and it
24 concerns the shooting death of Mr. Gvozden, and it
25 notes at the outset, and I will direct the Court to the
1 first line of 611, where it says:
2 "Drazen Gvozden, a member of the Croatian
3 Army from Sesvete, was killed on Mount Hum near Mostar
4 in October 1993."
5 This particular lawsuit was filed in Zagreb,
6 and the document reflects via attorney Ranko Radovic,
7 who was representing the Gvozden family, that part of
8 this lawsuit was sent back to Mostar to the Croatian
9 Republic of Herceg-Bosna.
10 It notes in the second paragraph of this
11 article that the lawsuit alleges that -- "the Gvozden
12 family alleges that Drazen Gvozden died as a member of
13 the Croatian Army 145th Brigade after being shot by
14 Marinko M., a member of the HVO."
15 The third paragraph reflects that
16 Mr. Gvozden, at the time of his death, was a deputy
17 commander of the Croatian army, 145th Brigade.
18 And the last -- excuse me. The fourth
19 paragraph, not the last, the fourth paragraph reflects
20 that the claim for damages for the mother and father is
21 60 million Croatian dinars, and the brother and sister
22 are claiming 40 million Croatian dinars.
23 The next paragraph, which would be the fifth
24 paragraph, starts with the question:
25 "What happened near Mostar? How did Drazen
1 Gvozden die? According to the attorney, he left for
2 the Southern Front as a member of the Croatian Army,
3 but at the time of his death he had HVO markings on his
5 This attorney, of course, is Ranko Radovic
6 who, coincidentally, is up in the Kupreskic case
7 representing one of the accused in that matter as we
9 The next certificate is 612, and that is a
10 decision by the president of the Republic of Croatia,
11 Dr. Franjo Tudjman, posthumously confirming the rank of
12 reserve officer, the rank of reserve captain, to Drazen
13 Gvozden. Again, this also reflects that Mr. Gvozden
14 was part of the 145th R. Brigade from Zagreb and
16 613, Mr. President and Your Honours, is a
17 document that is a document that comes from the
18 Association of the Families of the Dead and the Wounded
19 from the Republic of Croatia. This document, which is
20 the one which has Mr. Gvozden's photograph on it, also
21 reflects that Drazen Gvozden was a Croatian soldier in
22 the 145th R. Brigade of the Croatian army, died on
23 Sunday, 3 October, 1993, at the southern front.
24 The last document is the certificate of
25 death, and that document -- I'm sorry for the -- would
1 be Prosecutor's Exhibit 614. This document likewise
2 reflects that the accused was a member of the 145th
3 Brigade and, likewise, that when he was killed, he was
4 operating on the southern front.
5 WITNESS: TIHOMIR BLASKIC (Resumed)
6 Cross-examined by Mr. Kehoe:
7 Q. Now, General, we have before us clearly an HV
8 soldier who was killed in the Mostar area on 3 October,
9 1993, and subsequently there was a decision charging an
10 HVO member, Marinko Musa, with manslaughter on
11 9 September, 1994, and I'm, of course, talking about
12 Prosecutor's Exhibit 609.
13 Now, on 9 September, 1994, General, you were
14 the chief of staff of the HVO in Mostar. As the chief
15 of staff, did you examine this particular case and
16 other cases of its nature where HV, or soldiers of the
17 Republic of Croatia, were killed and wounded while
18 operating around Mostar?
19 A. Your Honours, first of all, the event took
20 place on the 3rd of October, 1993. I am not a legal
21 person, a lawyer. There are a lot of documents there,
22 and I can only give my comments.
23 On the 3rd of October, 1993, I was in the
24 Lasva pocket confronted with the struggle for
25 biological survival and with 35.000 refugees in the
1 Lasva pocket.
2 Furthermore, as the chief of the main staff
3 linked to the 9th of September, which is when the
4 military court prosecuted this case, I was not -- it
5 was not my competence to supervise the work of the
6 military court nor was I ever previously informed of
7 this event. Everything that I learnt about it I have
8 learnt precisely from these documents because the
9 military court was under the inherence of the Ministry
10 of Justice and the administration of the Croatian
11 Republic of Herceg-Bosna and the Defence Ministry of
12 the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna. As to the
13 concrete events and this particular event, I have
14 knowledge only on the basis of what I have just read
15 from these documents and I am learning of the event
16 here for the first time.
17 I can state, though, that there were
18 instances where officers and soldiers -- and that is
19 something that the Tribunal is well aware of -- after
20 the ceasefire was reached, interrupted their active
21 service and took up service in Bosnia-Herzegovina, that
22 is to say, those of them who had been born in
23 Bosnia-Herzegovina for the most part, and they came
24 under the personnel department of the Defence Ministry
25 of the HVO, and I have just learnt of this case now.
1 Q. Well, General, the decision by the military
2 district court or the military court was on the 9th of
3 September, and the newspaper article that we see on the
4 611 is an article that was printed on the 28th of
5 October of 1994.
6 Now, is it your testimony that after this
7 decision and after the filing of suit against the
8 Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna, you had no knowledge
9 of the case involving Drazen Gvozden and his death as a
10 soldier of the Republic of Croatia while operating on
11 the southern front?
12 A. I claim that officially I was not informed of
13 the event and that I don't recall it. As to the 3rd of
14 October, '93, when the event took place, I was the
15 commander in the Lasva pocket, as I say, under complete
16 encirclement, and that is that area there, and
17 supervision over the military court I never had nor was
18 I authorised as the chief of the main staff to do so.
19 I had no -- no connection with the military court at
21 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Kehoe, the witness has
22 answered your question twice. Either on the 3rd of
23 October he was in the Central Bosnia pocket and it was
24 not under his jurisdiction and he's given that answer
25 twice, so can we please try to move forward a little
2 MR. KEHOE: I understand, Mr. President.
3 Q. One last question: This individual was born
4 in Zagreb, according to his death certificate, and you
5 just noted, General, that you had no official
7 While you were the chief of staff or the
8 deputy chief of staff or at any time prior to today,
9 did you hear about this case involving Drazen Gvozden?
10 A. I heard about it today. I can't tell you
11 whether I heard about it earlier or not, previously or
12 not. I don't know. I try to answer to the best of my
13 ability with respect to the documents shown me and the
14 case in point, and I repeat that I did not have any
15 jurisdiction, and this judgement by the military court
16 was not sent to me. Perhaps somebody in some sort of
17 correspondence might have asked for documents relating
18 to this soldier, that is quite possible, but I
19 personally have no direct knowledge about the event,
20 and I repeat, it was a situation where I did not know
21 how long I would survive in Vitez, and I focused my
22 attention on survival. I was confronted with the
23 problem of 35.000 refugees in this pocket in October
25 Q. But, of course, the documents that you're
1 reading, both the judgement of the Mostar military court
2 and the newspaper articles, were items that were
3 published while you were in Mostar and while you were
4 the chief of staff; isn't that right?
5 A. I was not in Mostar. I was not the chief of
6 the main staff in Mostar. Let us be precise on that
7 point. The headquarters of the main staff, when I was
8 the chief of the main staff, was in Posusje, and on the
9 28th of October, 1994, was the time prior to the
10 operation for the liberation of Kupres and the entire
11 Kupres plateau, which means about 600.000 square
12 kilometres, it was an enormous operation, and I was one
13 of those who prepared the operation together with the
14 commander of the 7th Corps of the army of
15 Bosnia-Herzegovina, of course, and I mentioned that I
16 focused my attention for the most part on combat
17 operations there because I was the commander in a
18 war --
19 JUDGE JORDA: All this has been said before.
20 Please. Can we try to move forward and show a little
21 more efficiency here? The witness has answered your
22 question. You may be happy with that, you may be
23 unhappy with that. That's your problem. We are not
24 going to go over what has been said over and over
25 again. The witness has given his answer. Please,
1 Mr. Kehoe, can you go on to another subject, or if you
2 want to remain on that particular subject, please ask
3 another question, a different question. Let's not go
4 over this again and again. We'll never get it over
6 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President. That was the
7 last question, and I am going to shift subjects.
8 Q. General, we're going to shift subjects to a
9 subject concerning the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina
10 when you came there in April of 1992, and the first
11 document I would like to show you, with Mr. Usher, is
12 Prosecutor's Exhibit 406/2.
13 Now, General, let us -- you have seen this
14 document before. Let us direct our attention just
15 briefly to the paragraph -- before we talk about the
16 document, this is a document that is dated 12 November,
17 1991, and the names at the end are of president of the
18 Regional Crisis Centre for Herzegovina, Mate Boban, and
19 the president of the Travnik Regional Community, Dario
21 Let us look at paragraph 1 of this document
22 dated 12 November, 1991, which reads that -- if we can
23 just push it up just a little bit, Mr. Usher? We are
24 going to read that paragraph going over to the next
1 "The Croatian Regional Community and the
2 Travnik Regional Community remain of the opinion stated
3 in the conclusions adopted at earlier meetings, that
4 the Croatian people of this region, and all of Bosnia
5 and Herzegovina, still support the unanimously accepted
6 orientation and conclusions adopted in agreements with
7 president Dr. Franjo Tudjman on 13 and 20 June 1991 in
8 Zagreb. On the basis of the conclusions of the
9 above-mentioned meetings and agreement in Zagreb, as
10 well as the separate conclusions of 15 October 1991 in
11 Grude and of 22 October 1991 in Busovaca, and on this
12 occasion, 12 November 1991, these two regional
13 communities have unanimously decided that the Croatian
14 people in Bosnia and Herzegovina must finally embrace a
15 determined and active policy which will realise our
16 eternal dream - a common Croatian State."
17 Now, General, that issue of "an eternal
18 dream - a common Croatian State" meant unifying
19 Croatian sections of Bosnia-Herzegovina with the
20 Republic of Croatia; isn't that correct?
21 A. Your Honours, at the time when this document
22 was compiled, the 12th of November, '91, I was in
23 Austria, and apart from what I'm reading here in the
24 document, these events were not previously known to
25 me. I did not participate at any of these meetings,
1 nor did I discuss the document with the person taking
2 down the minutes and the president of the regional
3 crisis committee for Herzegovina and the Travnik
4 community with regard to this document.
5 I do know that the Croats from
6 Bosnia-Herzegovina, by way of referendum, opted for
7 Bosnia and Herzegovina as a sovereign state of
8 Bosnia-Herzegovina based on legality. I can see what
9 the document says. What emanates from the document, I
10 do not have any direct knowledge.
11 Does it mean -- may I just take another look
12 at the document, please, read through it and have an
13 overview of the complete document, please?
14 Q. Certainly.
15 JUDGE JORDA: Could we try to refocus the
16 debate, please? The problem is not for you, General,
17 to read this document over.
18 The witness was not present on November 12,
19 1991. The one thing we want to know is whether the
20 witness shared this view of a Croatian government.
21 Let's try to refocus the debate.
22 The statement is quite clear. Was he in
23 favour of this eternal state of Croatia? What is the
24 witness's opinion about this? Was he a proponent of
25 that particular idea? Was he against it? That's the
1 idea we want to have a clear opinion about.
2 A. If I may answer, Mr. President. In point 2
3 of this same document, it states that even in the
4 leadership of the HDZ for Bosnia-Herzegovina there was
5 still forces and so on and so forth. I don't want to
6 read the document.
7 I accepted to come to Bosnia-Herzegovina and
8 give my professional assistance in the defence of
9 Bosnia-Herzegovina from the aggression, and that was my
10 personal position from the very start. I never took
11 part in the elaboration of any kind of political
12 platform, nor did I implement a political platform,
13 including this particular political platform. I can
14 speak of army positions, trenches and fronts where I
15 took part as a soldier in the defence of that state.
16 MR. KEHOE: Well, General --
17 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, General. That's
18 exactly what I wanted to hear. That's what we want to
19 hear in that kind of particular debate.
20 MR. KEHOE:
21 Q. Now, General, these two individuals that
22 executed this document, Mate Boban was the President of
23 the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna and Dario Kordic
24 was the Vice-President who was in the Central Bosnian
25 area when you were the commander of the Central Bosnian
1 Operative Zone; correct?
2 A. Yes, that's correct, but at the first meeting
3 that I attended with Mate Boban, I was told that he
4 demanded literally that the officers of the HVO, that
5 is to say, that the HVO be apolitical and that all
6 political activity be left to the elected
7 representatives of the Croatian people in
8 Bosnia-Herzegovina, whereas the decree on the armed
9 forces of the HVO also envisaged a depoliticisation of
10 the HVO. At meetings with my associates and
11 collaborators, I always stressed that politics was not
12 to be our preoccupation, that is to say, the
13 preoccupation of our soldiers.
14 Q. Now, General, staying with this document, in
15 the next paragraph, if you could read this particular
16 document, there is discussion about the Croatian
18 "In order that that historic goal soon may
19 soon be our reality, these two regional communities ask
20 that legal and political documents be prepared and
21 published proclaiming a Croatian Banovina in
22 Bosnia-Herzegovina and the holding of a referendum on
23 joining the Republic of Croatia as the first steps on
24 the road to the final Croatian question and the
25 creation of..." and then the words are illegible.
1 The next sentence in paragraph 2:
2 "There are still forces in a segment of the
3 HDZ/BH leadership which oppose the historic interest of
4 the Croatian people in Bosnia-Herzegovina. These
5 forces are in favour of non-existent sovereign
6 Bosnia-Herzegovina in which the Croatian people would
7 be condemned to genocide and would disappear from
9 Now first, General, you have made comments
10 before in your documents about historic interests and
11 historic responsibility. What is this essence of
12 historic interest or historic responsibility of the
13 Croatian people? What does that mean to you?
14 A. As a soldier, within the framework of
15 preparations to raise the combat morale of our
16 soldiers, I would stress that in the sense that you
17 must be up to your historical responsibilities,
18 thinking that the history would re-examine the role of
19 each and every soldier and each and every commander in
20 relation to every order they received and the method
21 and quality of the performance of their tasks. That is
22 how I understood these historical responsibilities in
23 the sense of raising morale. That is, anyway, the
24 doctrinairy approach to the issuance of orders. That
25 was one of the ways in which we were trained in the
1 former army, and I think that this applies to any army.
2 Q. Well, General, the importance of this
3 Banovina continued to be of importance and of
4 discussion among the leaders of the Croatian Community
5 of Herceg-Bosna even after you got to Central Bosnia on
6 the 14th of April, 1992; isn't that correct?
7 A. It says in this document that documents would
8 be published, that there would be a referendum. I have
9 no knowledge of that referendum taking place. It may
10 have taken place. I don't know. As I said, I
11 participated in only two meetings of political
12 representatives in Central Bosnia, because after I was
13 appointed commander of the Operative Zone of Central
14 Bosnia, I spent most of the time on the front in
15 Jajce. That is in August, September, and much of
17 I also know that at the referendum, the
18 Croatian people opted for an independent and sovereign
19 state of Bosnia-Herzegovina with three constituent
20 peoples. When you say is written in this document, but
21 I do not know whether there was a referendum on
22 annexation to the Republic of Croatia. As far as I
23 recall, there was no such referendum.
24 Q. General, were the discussions concerning the
25 Banovina, did it continue after you got to Central
1 Bosnia on the 14th of April of 1992, "Yes" or "No"?
2 A. If you're asking me about the military aspect
3 and the people with whom I collaborated, that is, the
4 military commanders, I have no knowledge about that.
5 Whether such discussions continued or not, I do not
6 consider myself competent to answer that question
7 because I don't know. Perhaps they did, perhaps they
8 didn't. It is the political representatives who are
9 better informed about that.
10 Q. Well, let us talk about a couple of
11 documents, and if I may --
12 JUDGE JORDA: Wait. Wait a moment. This
13 document -- General Blaskic, I'm interested in the end
14 of this document. You have it.
15 "In order to implement the conclusions
16 specified in the first two points" -- can you see
18 "In order to implement those aims, we must,"
19 and I'm drawing your attention to point (c) and (d),
20 "prepare ourselves better militarily for the struggle
21 against all forces which will attempt to stop this
22 inevitable process of the creation of a free Croatian
23 state," underlined, and (d), "anticipate, participate
24 and categorically prevent any public or secret activity
25 in the leadership which would oppose these decisions in
1 any way."
2 My question is the following: You're not
3 there, you were still in Austria, but when you were
4 appointed to assume high-level military
5 responsibilities, did Mate Boban or Dario Kordic brief
6 you on this project of a free Croatian state, or did
7 they tell you, "You're just a military man and your
8 concern is the troops exclusively"?
9 A. Mr. President, I assume you're referring to
10 my appointment as the commander of the Central Bosnia
11 Operative Zone.
12 JUDGE JORDA: Yes.
13 A. In a month's time I was the fifth commander
14 appointed to that position, and at the time I was
15 appointed and later on, no one asked me to implement a
16 political platform. The situation was such that we had
17 to focus on defence. This was a time when almost 70
18 per cent of Bosnia-Herzegovina was occupied by the army
19 of Republika Srpska, in June 1992.
20 JUDGE JORDA: General, you told us that you
21 were the fifth commander but, obviously, the political
22 leaders wanted to choose somebody who would be in
23 harmony with their political goals. Could you see
24 Dario Kordic or Mate Boban choose somebody for such a
25 high political post who would be contrary to their
2 A. Your Honours, I was never confronted with
3 those political goals. I was told explicitly that the
4 military component was depoliticised and that my
5 assignment was a professional military assignment to
6 prepare the defence and organise the army, the armed
7 people. That is my understanding of it.
8 The decree on the armed forces also
9 stipulates that the HVO is depoliticised. I never took
10 part in the creation of a political platform, nor was I
11 a member of the party.
12 JUDGE JORDA: You don't have to answer this
13 question if you don't want to, but as time passed, were
14 you in favour for a free Croatian state or for a
15 sovereign state, that is, the sovereign state of
17 If you consider this question to be
18 prejudicial to you, you don't have to answer it, but
19 nevertheless, one might ask one's self, who were these
20 political leaders who had a great dream of a Croatian
21 state and who suddenly choose a military man who would
22 say to them, "I'm quite apolitical, and I will tell you
23 straightaway I am in favour of the sovereignty of
24 Sarajevo. It is something that I prefer"? Because
25 when we see the end of this document, something doesn't
1 seem to fit there. Can you explain that to us?
2 A. Your Honours, Mr. President, I had a similar
3 question sometime in March 1993, I think, at a public
4 press conference. I spoke about those press
5 conferences that we held in Busovaca, and I said that
6 the HVO was struggling for our homeland, that is,
7 Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that the aim of the HVO was
8 defence from aggression against Bosnia-Herzegovina,
9 which is also our homeland as well, implying the
10 equality of peoples together with the other peoples.
11 That is what I said in March 1993.
12 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. You are in favour of
13 equality. I understand that. But my last question:
14 In this standpoint did you say to Dario Kordic or Mate
15 Boban, at one point, "Because I am a brilliant officer,
16 I know how to make trenches, I know how to position
17 machine-guns, to deploy troops, but your greater
18 Croatian state does not interest me"? Did you say that
19 to Mate Boban or Dario Kordic at any time?
20 A. I had very few meetings with Mr. Mate Boban,
21 and I became familiar with this document here in
22 Court. So I didn't participate in its preparation, nor
23 could I discuss it.
24 JUDGE JORDA: Don't give me that answer. I
25 know that you were in Austria. What I'm interested in
1 is whether you had a certain degree of political
2 conviction when engaging or placing your military
3 knowledge at the disposal of these inflamed
4 politicians? Did you know what you were doing? You
5 were struggling for a future Croatian state or were you
6 struggling for an institutional state based in
7 Sarajevo? What was the aim of your struggle?
8 You came from Austria. You accepted a very
9 risky command, General. You couldn't have been
10 fighting for nothing.
11 A. Mr. President, the government in Sarajevo
12 ceased to function and the state of Bosnia-Herzegovina
13 had actually collapsed. I was fighting for the defence
14 of Bosnia-Herzegovina from aggression, for the
15 establishment of a joint command. I struggled for the
16 defence of Maglaj and Goradze, towns which had a
17 majority Muslim population.
18 JUDGE JORDA: You are not answering my
19 question. I will not insist upon it. Let me ask if my
20 colleagues have any additional questions for you.
21 Judge Shahabuddeen?
22 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: General Blaskic, I
23 wonder if you'll help me to understand a little more
24 clearly your statements to the effect that the army
25 itself was not politicised. I believe you referred to
1 the decree establishing the army and laying down its
2 framework, and your position is that the army itself
3 was purely professional. Do I understand you
5 A. Your Honour, that is correct. My position
6 was that we should create a professional army, that we
7 needed to build it, develop it. It was the armed
8 people. But they should be trained to carry out
9 defensive military assignments.
10 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Well now, the President,
11 I think, put to you a question to this effect: He said
12 that you were not fighting for nothing. Presumably you
13 were fighting for something. Do you remember the
14 president putting questions like that to you?
15 A. I do, Your Honour.
16 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: I want to ask your help
17 on this point of clarification. Do you recognise this
18 situation, that an army may itself be depoliticised in
19 the sense that those who operate the army from within,
20 like yourself, are not politicised people, that
21 politics do not run through the functioning of the
22 machinery of the army, but that the army is there,
23 nevertheless, to pursue goals and to accomplish tasks
24 set by the political directorate. So if the political
25 directorate were, for example, to set a task of ethnic
1 cleansing, that depoliticised army would, nevertheless,
2 implement that political objective. Do you recognise
3 that situation?
4 A. Your Honour, I think there are several
5 questions here. I have noted four or five. I do
6 recognise the situation you have described, but every
7 good soldier should also be a reasonable soldier, and
8 he should be able to recognise such orders. The decree
9 on the armed forces envisaged, and I am referring to it
10 and that was also my position, because as from 1989 I
11 ceased to be a member of the Communist Party or,
12 rather, the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, and
13 even until then I was a member on assignment. I think
14 that the majority of the younger military men of the
15 JNA were happy when they learned of the possibility
16 that they had to be depoliticised and to focus on their
18 I came to Bosnia-Herzegovina and I did fight
19 for something, and that was to help in the defence
20 against the Serb aggression and to organise the armed
21 people, and my idea applied to Central Bosnia. My
22 command posts were mostly on the front lines, from the
23 front in Sarajevo to Jajce, Maglaj, assistance to
24 Olovo, Gorazde, and where the situation was most
25 critical, so I fought for defence against aggression.
1 Due to various circumstances, and there are
2 many, a conflict occurred between two components of the
3 armed forces of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the BH army and the
4 HVO, and your question regarding the political
5 directorate imposing certain tasks, including ethnic
6 cleansing, I never was in a position to accept such a
7 task of ethnic cleansing because I would not have
8 accepted it because an obedient soldier must also be a
9 reasonable soldier to be a good one.
10 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: General, I did put that
11 branch of my question -- I don't know whether it was
12 the fourth or fifth question -- hypothetically, but let
13 us pursue the hypothesis a little further in order to
14 achieve greater clarity of thought.
15 Suppose the political directorate, it set, as
16 one of its goals, the realisation of a Greater
17 Croatia. Would the army under your command have worked
18 for the achievement of that purpose?
19 A. In the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina at
20 that time that I can talk about, we were not in such a
21 position, and I believe it would not have worked in
22 that direction because then I couldn't have been the
23 commander of that army. A section may have existed
24 which would have worked for that end. But, as I said,
25 the tendency was to depoliticise the army entirely, but
1 it is true, as you said in your question, that a
2 certain degree of politics exists in every army, no
3 matter how hard it may try to be clean and
4 depoliticised, and that was not the project which
5 prompted my arrival in Bosnia-Herzegovina nor was I
6 invited to realise such a project. I was asked to help
7 in the defence of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and I stressed
8 that clearly at press conferences in '93, because
9 Bosnia-Herzegovina is the state of the Croatian people
10 of Bosnia as well, on an equal footing with the other
11 two peoples that comprise Bosnia-Herzegovina and all
12 the citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
13 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: General, I take it you
14 realise that sometimes there could be a dynamic quality
15 in the setting of purposes. You could have original
16 purposes which change subtly or abruptly in the course
17 of subsequent events. Should I understand you to be
18 saying this, that if at any time the political
19 directorate set as one of its goals the realisation of
20 a Greater Croatia, that you would not have accepted any
21 instructions to work for the accomplishment of that
23 A. If I may just say in connection with the
24 dynamics of goals, I may have misunderstood that
25 process because I didn't have sufficient experience in
1 that field and I still don't have enough experience. I
2 don't consider myself competent to enter lengthy
3 discussions on political issues. But I do believe that
4 such a dynamic process exists, and this can be seen
5 from the negotiations conducted in Central Bosnia under
6 the auspices of the International Community.
7 But, Your Honour, my understanding was that
8 the task of the political representatives of the
9 Croatian people, of the Bosniak Muslims, and the Serb
10 people of Bosnia-Herzegovina, was to participate in
11 that dynamic process and to come to an agreement under
12 the auspices of the International Community, to come to
13 an agreement on the future set-up of
14 Bosnia-Herzegovina, and I saw my role as the role of a
15 soldier, a commander defending Bosnia-Herzegovina from
16 aggression; and when I say "we," I mean the BH army and
17 the HVO, had a common enemy, and that is the army of
18 Republika Srpska which controlled a greater part of
20 I never really studied more closely what the
21 politicians were doing because that was their job. No
22 one ever asked me to participate in the realisation of
23 such a platform. At some meeting, this may have been
24 discussed, but I was not present at those meetings, and
25 I have no immediate knowledge that there was a
1 discussion about the creation and the implementation of
2 such political projects.
3 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: General, would it be
4 convenient for you to summarise what would have been
5 your reaction to a possible request by the political
6 directorate for you to work for the realisation of a
7 Greater Croatia? Would you have accepted those
8 instructions or would you have declined those
9 instructions if they were made to you?
10 A. No such requests were addressed to me, and I
11 never took part in the drafting of such a platform, I
12 personally, and I would not have implemented such a
14 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Your answer --
15 A. In Bosnia and Herzegovina. We are talking
16 about the events in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
17 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: That sentence towards
18 the end, that you would never have accepted such
19 instructions, is clear, and I thank you, General.
20 JUDGE RODRIGUES: General Blaskic, I also
21 have a few questions for you. I am going to ask you
22 some direct questions as far as that is possible.
23 In your opinion, what was the best situation,
24 from the executive point of view, if you're thinking of
25 any organisation, from the executive point of view,
1 what would be the best situation to say to someone who
2 needs to do something, "In order to obtain such and
3 such a thing, you are going to do such and such," or
4 only to say, "You're going to do so and so"?
5 A. Clearly it is best to speak frankly and to
6 try and explain, that is, to explain the tasks and the
7 aim of those tasks. In my view, that is a far more
8 correct approach; that is, to provide as much
9 information as possible, including the purpose why a
10 particular task is being carried out, what is the
11 purpose of such a task.
12 JUDGE RODRIGUES: My second question is the
13 following: To what extent can it help a soldier to
14 know well the reasons that he is fighting for?
15 A. This can be of a great deal of assistance and
16 it is desirable to tell the soldier the reasons behind
17 the struggle and the aims of that struggle.
18 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Bearing in mind the ideas
19 that we have already discussed here, both strategic and
20 tactical, for an officer -- I'm not talking about a
21 soldier but an officer -- for an officer, is it
22 important for him to know something about strategy,
23 that is, the objectives of the tactics applied?
24 A. For an officer, it is important and it is to
25 be expected that he would do his best to learn about
1 the objectives of tactics.
2 JUDGE RODRIGUES: So could it be said that at
3 a learned level of command, it is necessary to have a
4 certain link between strategy and tactics?
5 A. Yes. At a certain level, that is necessary.
6 These are, in most cases, the strategic operative
8 JUDGE RODRIGUES: You have told us that you
9 came from Austria to Kiseljak originally for two
10 months. What was your dream at the time? Why did you
12 A. I came to assist in organising and preparing
13 the Kiseljak municipality for defence. My parents live
14 there, the parents of my wife, my relatives. I came
15 after invitations addressed to me by the official
16 bodies of Kiseljak municipality, including that of my
17 late father, my late uncle, and other of my relatives,
18 and my intention at the time was to organise the
19 defence and to organise the armed people in the
20 territory of Kiseljak to defend themselves from the JNA
21 and the Republika Srpska --
22 JUDGE RODRIGUES: We already know that,
23 General, but could you tell us that you were there
24 within the scope of a tactical plan?
25 A. Yes.
1 JUDGE RODRIGUES: And what was the strategy?
2 A. At the level of Kiseljak municipality, the
3 strategy was to survive and to prepare for the
4 impending attack of which there was every indication
5 because the nearby municipality of Rakovica had been
6 cleansed and Bosnian Muslims had already come to
7 Kiseljak at the end of April, beginning of May.
8 JUDGE RODRIGUES: General, I am asking you
9 the same question. When you were appointed commander
10 of the Central Bosnia Operative Zone, what was the
12 A. The strategy, in a nutshell, because I want
13 to be as brief as possible, was to link up all forces,
14 all potentials of Central Bosnia for defence from Serb
15 conquest, to try and slow down that conquest and to try
16 to halt it. My understanding of the military situation
17 in Central Bosnia I conveyed to the president of the
18 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna, Mate Boban, and he
19 agreed with it.
20 JUDGE RODRIGUES: General, could we say that
21 the strategy was to have an independent state of
23 A. The strategy on the political side, as far as
24 I know, was to establish, to achieve a political
25 agreement on the establishment of Bosnia-Herzegovina
1 together with representatives of the Bosniak Muslims
2 and the Serbs with the mediation of the International
3 Community. My military strategy was to defend as much
4 of the remaining territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina, maybe
5 some 40 per cent, which the Serbs had still not
7 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Another question, and that
8 will be my last. I apologise. As you know, I joined
9 the proceedings a little later.
10 What is your nationality?
11 A. I am a Croat by nationality.
12 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, General.
13 JUDGE JORDA: Just a further point before the
14 break. General Blaskic, could we agree on the fact
15 that Mate Boban and Dario Kordic had a political
16 project of a Greater Croatia?
17 A. What project or programme or platform they
18 had, I cannot say because I only had two meetings with
19 Mr. Mate Boban. I know that he participated in the
20 negotiations --
21 JUDGE JORDA: Come on, General. I'm asking
22 you, do you think that Mate Boban and Dario Kordic, who
23 were the political leaders, did they have the project
24 of creating a Croatian state and a Croatian community?
25 A. The project of a Croatian Community of
1 Herceg-Bosna within the framework of Bosnia-Herzegovina
2 was something that they did have, and that was
3 something that I shared, but not at the expense of
4 Bosnia-Herzegovina but, rather, in the sense of
5 obtaining equality of rights for Croats in
6 Bosnia-Herzegovina with the other peoples of
8 JUDGE JORDA: I know that you are a military
9 man concerned with only military things, but you just
10 told Judge Rodrigues that as of a certain level, one
11 does not wear black glasses and have ears plugged up.
12 So I am saying: Among the political leaders of the
13 Croats of Bosnia, was there a political project either
14 of a Greater Croatia or a structured Croatian
15 community, entity? Did this exist on the side of Mate
16 Boban and Dario Kordic?
17 A. Your Honour, Mr. President, in document
18 406/2, from points 1 and 2, one can see that there is
19 no unity of approach even among the HDZ leadership
20 regarding Bosnia-Herzegovina. I know that the Croats
21 participated in the referendum on an independent and
22 sovereign Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the question put to
23 me by Judge Shahabuddeen -- perhaps, at some point in
24 time, there were such political goals, but the politics
25 evolved and the Washington Agreement showed, one that
1 was accepted by the Croats and I participated in the
2 establishment of the federation army --
3 JUDGE JORDA: You're not answering my
4 question. Let me rephrase it. In your eyes -- I am
5 not talking about this document; you were in Austria --
6 in your view, did Mate Boban and Dario Kordic have a
7 political project, "Yes" or "No"?
8 A. I believe they did have a political
10 JUDGE JORDA: What was that political
11 project, in your view?
12 A. In my view, that political project was to
13 ensure equality of rights of the Croatian people in
14 Bosnia-Herzegovina with the mediation of the
15 International Community and through an agreement with
16 the other constituent peoples of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
17 JUDGE JORDA: According to what you know, is
18 that what they tried to realise or did they try to
19 achieve something else, in fact, according to what you
21 A. On the basis of what I know, and my only
22 sources are the negotiations that were carried out with
23 the mediation of the International Community, as far as
24 I know, the Croatian side was cooperative in those
25 negotiations with the mediation of the International
2 JUDGE JORDA: You're not answering my
3 question. I am asking you whether Mate Boban and Dario
4 Kordic had a political project, and if they did, did
5 they try to implement it through this Croatian
6 community of defence?
7 A. If they had a project, I am again conveying
8 my opinion, it is possible that they tried to implement
9 that programme through their activities, but I am
10 speaking on the basis of the knowledge I have about the
11 international negotiations conducted through the
12 mediation of the International Community.
13 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. But beyond that
14 information, General Blaskic, you were the operative
15 commander of Central Bosnia. After all, you were not
16 blind regarding the newspapers, deaf regarding the
17 radio and television, so you cannot just say "I was a
18 simple soldier." You were not a simple soldier.
19 My question is: At a given point in time,
20 after the spirit of two months, when you focused on the
21 defence of Kiseljak, did you say at a certain point to
22 yourself that you had been manipulated by Mr. Mate
23 Boban and Mr. Dario Kordic, that they were pursuing a
24 political goal whereas you were simply intent on
25 defending your Bosnian Croatian territory against the
1 Serbs? Did you have a feeling that you had been
2 manipulated by them?
3 A. Mr. President, allow me to say that in the
4 territory where I was, the territory was isolated,
5 there was no electricity or water, there was no press.
6 I didn't have occasion to read the daily newspapers.
7 It was a very difficult situation we were in. I had
8 35.000 refugees in that area. But it is a fact that
9 there was an about-turn within the Croatian leadership
10 of Bosnia-Herzegovina politically because Mr. Boban
11 handed in his resignation and Kresimir Zubak took over
12 to implement the federation.
13 The circumstances under which he handed in
14 his resignation I don't know because I wasn't there. I
15 have no immediate knowledge. But probably a certain
16 about-turn did take place and new people were chosen to
17 implement the Washington Agreement. I'm talking about
18 the political leadership.
19 JUDGE JORDA: Judge Rodrigues? Then we'll
20 have a break.
21 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Just to round off this part
22 of the discussion, there is something I would like to
24 Your project of your life was to abandon a
25 military career. You asked to leave the JNA. You had
1 a concept of life or a dream in Austria of life in
2 Austria with your wife and so on. You accepted to come
3 to Kiseljak for two months to organise the defence. I
4 understand that because there were certain emotional
5 reasons, but without soldiers, without structures,
6 without any proper organisation, et cetera, et cetera,
7 you decided to stay in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
8 I think that there must have been some very
9 strong reasons. Your idea was not, after all, to
10 become a general. Your military career was something
11 that you had abandoned.
12 In view of all these circumstances - how can
13 I put it - adverse circumstances, you stayed,
14 nonetheless, and, therefore, I think there were some
15 very strong reasons, and I should really like to
16 understand what were those reasons if you abandoned
17 your entire military career.
18 A. Your Honour, you said yourself that there
19 were reasons, emotional and others, for my coming.
20 There was a war which brought with it many
21 unforeseeable circumstances, including the fact that I
22 stayed on. This territory of Central Bosnia that we
23 managed to defend cost me, as a commander, I'm sorry to
24 have to say that, it cost me more than 2.000 graves,
25 more than 5.000 wounded, and 22 members of my family
1 including my father, that is, my broader family.
2 Twenty-two members were lost in all.
3 I stayed after the signing of the Washington
4 Agreement, believing that we would be able to develop
5 the army of the federation. I took part in the final
6 operations, together with the BH army, despite this
7 one-year long tragic war.
8 My plans were not linked to a career in the
9 army, because I also studied civilian subjects, hoping
10 to abandon my military career. I believed I would be
11 able to do that after the implementation of the
12 Washington and possibly the Dayton agreements. But I
13 also spoke to Mr. Kresimir Zubak, as the President of
14 the federation, and he expressed the wish that I should
15 continue first as deputy chief of staff and then chief
16 of staff in the HVO, focusing on professionals and
17 people from Bosnia-Herzegovina to build this army of
19 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, General.
20 JUDGE JORDA: I think that we are going to
21 have a break. The interpreters have worked hard, so
22 the break will last until 12.30.
23 --- Recess taken at 12.04 p.m.
24 --- On resuming at 12.32 p.m.
25 JUDGE JORDA: The hearing is resumed. Please
1 be seated. Yes, Mr. Kehoe.
2 MR. KEHOE: Yes. Thank you, Mr. President,
3 Your Honours.
4 Q. General, just a few questions based on some
5 of your responses to the Trial Chamber. You noted, in
6 response to both a question from the President and also
7 from Judge Rodrigues, in referring to
8 paragraph 3(c), which notes that they must make better
9 military preparations for combat against those forces
10 which will attempt to stop this inevitable process of
11 creation of a free Croatian state, now, you noted in
12 response, and I believe this is specifically to a
13 question by Judge Rodrigues, that your strategy, in a
14 nutshell, was to link up all potential forces for the
15 defence against Serb consequence and halt it. Do you
16 recall saying that to Judge Rodrigues?
17 A. Yes. I think that it was a question, Your
18 Honours, of the time I was in Kiseljak as the commander
19 of the Central Bosnia Operative Zone. I think that
20 that was so, yes.
21 Q. Let me show you, General, Prosecutor's
22 Exhibit 502. Yet, General, within a month of you
23 coming to Kiseljak, you issue an order, Prosecutor's
24 Exhibit 502, which is an order that came from Mate
25 Boban, down to General Roso, that you issued, declaring
1 the Territorial Defence illegal. Isn't that a fact?
2 A. That is what is stated in point 5, but the
3 document is dated the 11th of May, 1992, when the
4 Territorial Defence of the JNA made up the armed forces
5 of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. And
6 when the Yugoslav People's Army was still the legal
7 armed force which was there to defend Bosnia and
9 Q. Well, General, that particular order is dated
10 the 11th of May, 1992, isn't it?
11 A. Yes, the 11th of May, 1992 the JNA was
12 present in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
13 Q. That is the same day that you noted, to an
14 Agence France Presse reporter, that with regard to the
15 embattled Bosnia-Herzegovina government in Sarajevo,
16 you say, "It has no legitimacy here." The same day,
17 while you say that you are trying to galvanise the
18 forces for a fight against the Serbs; is that right?
19 MR. HAYMAN: Compound. One question at a
20 time, Your Honour, particularly given the translation.
21 The question is compound. Mr. Kehoe asked several
23 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
24 JUDGE JORDA: I well understand what you
25 mean, Mr. Kehoe, but I also well understand the nature
1 of Mr. Hayman's objection. You are putting several
2 questions to the witness at the same time.
3 MR. KEHOE: I understand, Mr. President. I
4 apologise. I will break the questions down.
5 Q. The day, the same day that you order that the
6 Territorial Defence forces are rendered invalid, an
7 article is published in the Agence France Presse where
8 you is say that the government in Sarajevo has no
9 legitimacy here, and "here" means Kiseljak. The same
11 A. I would like to see what the question was
12 asked me linked to that legitimacy, but I will clarify
13 the circumstances we found ourselves in.
14 Kiseljak was the border area bordering on the
15 area controlled by the Serbs. The JNA, together with
16 the army of the Republika Srpska and the government in
17 Sarajevo, and in concrete terms, I have in mind the
18 Defence Ministry, by a fax line, sent its orders
19 demanding that the city of Sarajevo be deblocked.
20 Sarajevo is about 30 kilometres away from Kiseljak, as
21 far as I know.
22 So orders of this kind, as they arrived into
23 the hands of the army of the Republika Srpska, could
24 have caused direct action by the artillery, and that
25 whole area could have been burned at a time when there
1 were several hundred armed soldiers or people in
3 On many occasions, I cautioned them about
4 this and asked that they should not react to Kiseljak
5 in that way because, quite obviously, some institutions
6 wanted to involve Kiseljak into a war without any
8 JUDGE JORDA: General, please, try to help
9 the Judges by answering directly the question that has
10 been directly put to you. You're not helping at all by
11 answering it that way.
12 A moment ago you told Judge Rodrigues and
13 Judge Shahabuddeen that you are not a political man,
14 that you did not have political opinion, and here we
15 have a declaration which seems to contradict the order
16 that was emitted on that very same day.
17 So that's a problem. Please try to help us.
18 The question was clear, as far as I'm concerned.
19 MR. KEHOE:
20 Q. Did you understand the question, General?
21 MR. HAYMAN: Mr. President, he asked to see
22 the Agence France Presse report.
23 MR. KEHOE: Of course.
24 MR. HAYMAN: It's not in Serbo-Croat. He's
25 being asked to interpret a public statement and he
1 should get to see it. That would be our request.
2 JUDGE JORDA: Absolutely, Mr. Hayman. You're
3 quite right. But I think that Mr. Kehoe was thinking
4 that the General could remember this interview. But,
5 indeed, I think it would be best for the witness to
6 have the text of this interview before him.
7 MR. KEHOE: I would note, Mr. President, for
8 the record, that when this witness, when this
9 particular article was addressed to him during his last
10 week of cross-examination, admitted that he made these
11 statements. We can go back in the transcript and find
12 that particular provision. It will take me over the
13 lunch-hour to do that but I will find it.
14 JUDGE JORDA: You're right, Mr. Kehoe. Like
15 you, I think we are losing a lot of time, but we are
16 talking here of a fundamental right of the witness, of
17 any witness, and here the witness is the accused, so he
18 does have the right to read a document when we're
19 asking him to compare two documents. But let's try to
20 do this as efficiently and quickly as possible.
21 Would it be possible to find that document
22 easily, Mr. Registrar?
23 MR. KEHOE: It is. I'm sorry,
24 Mr. Registrar. It is Prosecutor's Exhibit 545, 545.
25 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. The original document is
1 French, as we are talking here of the Agence France
2 Presse, French press agency. Do you have this in the
3 English version?
4 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, we have this in the
5 English version.
6 JUDGE JORDA: I think what you can do,
7 Mr. Kehoe, is read the relevant paragraph and the
8 translators will work and help the witness understand
9 what you're saying. So can you please read the
10 relevant part of this text, Mr. Kehoe, the part you're
11 interested in.
12 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President. Excuse me,
13 Mr. Usher, can we just go up there a little bit more?
14 That paragraph, and I believe, Mr. President, it's 1,
15 2, 3, 4, 5, where Blaskic is named. It begins:
16 "Tiho Blaskic, who heads the CVO forces in
17 Kiseljak, explained that the region was peaceful
18 because the Serbs, who make up only three per cent of
19 the town's population 'have no designs on this land.'
20 "As for the embattled Bosnia-Herzegovina
21 government in Sarajevo, 'It has no legitimacy here,' he
23 If we turn to the next page, Mr. Usher, and
24 we look at the last two paragraphs on page 2, it reads
25 as follows:
1 "Kiseljak would henceforth be a part of a
2 Croatian canton and administrative region and would
3 look to the west rather than the east, Tiho Blaskic
5 "'Its closeness to Sarajevo never contributed
6 much to our town anyway,' he said."
7 Now, General, you've had an opportunity to
8 hear the translation of this article that you
9 previously told us that you said, this article is
10 published on the same day where you issue an order
11 outlawing the Territorial Defence; isn't that right?
12 A. The date of the order is identical to the
13 interview, but allow me to clarify matters. The order
14 was issued on the basis of receiving an order from the
15 main staff, and as I already said, at that time
16 military conscripts from Kiseljak had -- and I know
17 this in concrete terms because my late father was to
18 report to Breza or Ilijas -- and they could have been
19 called up by that same JNA or the Territorial Defence
20 for mobilisation in Ilijas in an area already under the
21 control of Serbia, that is to say, the army of Republic
22 of Serbia or the JNA.
23 As far as the Serbs in Kiseljak are concerned
24 and the 3 per cent mentioned, I have in mind the
25 municipality of Kiseljak and the villages which
1 gravitate towards Ilidza, and of those Serbs, the
2 danger did not come from those Serbs and they were
3 never attacked by the HVO. In a later period, they
4 were, by the Territorial Defence.
5 Now, how the translation was that the
6 government of Bosnia-Herzegovina had no legitimacy,
7 perhaps because it was not linked to the area, but this
8 Tribunal knows that I personally sent written reports
9 to the Defence Minister in Sarajevo in August 1992 when
10 he asked me to do so, and I received orders, it is a
11 whole series, a set of orders, from the Supreme Command
12 staff of the armed forces of Bosnia-Herzegovina for the
13 deblocking of Sarajevo and participation in that
14 deblocking operation and I informed my superiors of
16 As far as where Kiseljak would be, I don't
17 know in what context the question was raised, but I
18 could refer back to negotiations, if they were held,
19 the negotiations that were held through the mediation
20 of international representatives. I said that we were
21 interested in the West and not the East. I said that
22 previously, and I think that in the transcript you will
23 see my position linked to that commentary in the sense
24 that it was the aspiration of everybody from the
25 region, that is how I understood it, Western democracy
1 and not what is happening in the East, having in mind
2 the JNA and all those that the people had to defend
3 themselves against.
4 Q. Well, General, your comment that the
5 government in Sarajevo "has no legitimacy here," keep
6 that in mind because I would like to ask you to compare
7 that to a quote that Mate Boban gave to a reporter, Ed
8 Vulliamy, on the 13th of August of 1992, and that,
9 Mr. President and Your Honours, is on page 7754 on line
10 15, where Boban told Mr. Vulliamy -- and, Judge
11 Rodrigues, Mr. Vulliamy was a reporter for The Guardian
12 who testified previously, as I'm sure you know.
13 Boban told Vulliamy he could not accept the
14 constitution of Bosnia-Herzegovina and its capital,
16 Now, that quote to Mr. Vulliamy is remarkably
17 similar to your quote where you say that the government
18 of Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo "has no legitimacy
19 (in Kiseljak)"; isn't that correct?
20 A. I have already commented and said that I
21 didn't have the interview in my hands previously and
22 that I had in mind that -- I meant that it had no
23 influence, and how that complete translation was made,
24 that it absolutely has no legitimacy, Franjo Boras and
25 Jerko Doko asked me for a report, and if I sent the
1 report to the Defence Minister, I don't know in what
2 context the translation of what I said was made.
3 JUDGE JORDA: General Blaskic, that is not
4 the real problem here. First of all, I would tell
5 Mr. Kehoe that the question is not to ask, "What do you
6 think about a statement made by Mate Boban?" the
7 question here is not about the word "legitimacy," maybe
8 that's not really what you wanted to say at the time,
9 but we are interested by the whole of this interview.
10 The whole of this statement is quite political in its
12 My question is the following: A moment ago
13 you told us that you were a general, a military man who
14 was not involved in politics, and here in this
15 particular document we find at least three sentences
16 where it appears that you do take an interest in
17 politics, that as a general you are a little interested
18 in politics. It is not something, you know, I am
19 criticising, but I see there that you are a general who
20 is a little bit interested in politics.
21 A. Mr. President, quite possibly in the question
22 there are some political elements, but at that time I
23 was a Captain First Class of the former Yugoslav
24 People's Army who had arrived 15 days previously, or
25 some 20 days prior to this, to Kiseljak after spending
1 several years -- after spending years away from the
2 area, and I don't know what context the questions were
3 asked in, I can't remember the context and why the
4 answers were as they were, but my preoccupations were
5 always the army and military issues.
6 JUDGE JORDA: Please continue, Mr. Kehoe.
7 MR. KEHOE:
8 Q. Yet, General, within four months of this
9 particular interview, you are at a meeting with other
10 members of the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna and
11 you are preparing and receive instructions to prepare
12 for combat operations against the Muslims, four months
13 later, in September of 1992.
14 A. That question is not exact because you are
15 suggesting an answer. I was not preparing for combat
16 operations against the Muslims in September of 1992. I
17 had come to the meeting having been invited to attend
18 for them to get to know me, to introduce me to the
19 other political and other representatives who were
20 present at the meeting, and the overall circumstances
21 were such that at that time the most fierce operations
22 were being fought, Jajce, Maglaj, Olovo, Travnik, and
23 so on and so forth, and from numerous documents you can
24 see that we tried to pool our efforts there, the BH
25 army and the HVO, in a joint defence, particularly for
1 Travnik and Maglaj, Usora, Olovo and other regions, and
2 at that particular meeting, I did not receive any
3 assignments nor could I have received any, and the
4 chief of the main staff was the only one to be able to
5 give me orders, and from the political representatives
6 in Central Bosnia, I received no orders for any
7 assignments or tasks whatsoever.
8 Q. Well, General, I ask you to take a look at
9 Prosecutor's Exhibit 456/95, and I ask you to go to the
10 last page of that document, when you receive it, and
11 focus on the second-to-last paragraph of that document.
12 Second-to-last paragraph, last page,
13 Mr. Usher.
14 That paragraph -- and this is an excerpt from
15 the minutes of the meeting of the Croatian Defence
16 Council in municipalities of Central Bosnia dated
17 22 September, 1992, where you, General, are one of the
18 members of the working presidency along with Dario
19 Kordic, Anto Valenta, and Ignac Kostroman. This
20 paragraph reads that:
21 "HVO Military bodies for Central Bosnia
22 shall prepare defence plans against possible attack by
23 Islamic Fundamentalist Mujahedin Forces and introduce
24 military discipline and order in the military
1 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, the translation
2 is completely wrong. It is an absolutely erroneous
3 translation of the text. The English text that we have
4 here, there are two paragraphs which have been merged
5 into one, and the sense of what is written in the
6 original Croatian text has been lost, and I propose
7 that the Croatian translation, that the Croatian
8 original, that is to say, be placed on the ELMO, and
9 that the interpreters who are here now should interpret
10 it, and you will see that the English translation is
11 wrong, it is substantially different.
12 JUDGE JORDA: I quite agree with you,
13 Mr. Nobilo, it does seem necessary, so we will put the
14 Croatian version on the ELMO, please.
15 Which is the paragraph you are quarrelling
17 MR. KEHOE: It is the last page,
18 Mr. President --
19 JUDGE JORDA: I have this in its French
20 version, but I will try to find my way around. Last
22 MR. KEHOE: Last page, second-to-last
24 (Trial Chamber confers)
25 JUDGE JORDA: How do you want to go about
1 this, Mr. Nobilo? The Judges have now before them the
2 B/C/S version. I have a French version of the text. I
3 am going to hand it over to my two colleagues. But I
4 would like to have the interpreters help us understand
5 this clearly.
6 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, I suggest that I
7 read out the text in Croatian and then the interpreters
8 will translate it.
9 MR. KEHOE: Well, I suggest that the
10 interpreters just read it in the translation as they
11 translate it, with the proper inflections the way the
12 translators view it, with all due respect to counsel,
13 so the translators could read it in and of themselves.
14 This, I would note, is a translation that came from the
15 translation department. Of course, neither Mr. Harmon
16 nor I speak B/C/S, so this is a translation received
17 from the ICTY.
18 Nevertheless, if the translators can
19 translate that, it would be helpful.
20 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, but this particular
21 paragraph is said by Mr. Nobilo to be incorrect, so I
22 would like Mr. Nobilo or a Serbo-Croatian interpreter
23 to read this paragraph and then the other interpreters
24 will work into their respective language and everything
25 will be much simpler that way.
1 How do you want to go about this exactly?
2 Mr. Nobilo, do you want to read this? I think that is
3 the best solution. Just go ahead and read this
4 paragraph, the first paragraph, to begin with. Read
5 slowly, please. It starts with "Vojni organi."
6 MR. NOBILO: Yes, I think it is important
7 because it is important for it to enter into the
8 transcript, the text itself, because if it appears that
9 the text is different, as I consider, then it will have
10 to be changed, the translation of the document of the
11 Prosecution will have to be changed. So I am going to
12 start reading slowly now.
13 JUDGE JORDA: Wait a minute, wait a minute,
14 Mr. Nobilo. What's important right now is for you to
15 read this text aloud.
16 MR. NOBILO: Therefore, I am reading the text
17 as follows:
18 "Military organs of the HVO of Central
19 Bosnia are duty-bound to elaborate plans of defence
20 from a possible attack by the Islamic Fundamentalist
21 Mujahedin Forces which have been infiltrated into the
22 organs of the army of BH as well."
23 And then the second paragraph ...
24 JUDGE JORDA: Just a second. Could you
25 please repeat -- wait. It's very different indeed.
1 Mr. Nobilo, I'm sorry, but indeed the French version I
2 have before me says that "The military organs will
3 introduce disciplinary measures in the military
4 formations," which is quite different from what you
5 have just said. So please repeat what you've just
6 said. Can the interpreters help us once again?
7 MR. NOBILO: The question is of "Islamic
8 Fundamental Mujahedin Forces which have been
9 infiltrated also into the organs of the army of
11 JUDGE JORDA: This is so far from what I have
12 before me that I'm unable to say anything.
13 Let's go to the next paragraph. In my
14 translation, it seems that "the Ministry of Defence
15 will ensure military logistics for Central Bosnia in
16 conjunction with the military command." That's not at
17 all what you've just been saying.
18 MR. NOBILO: I'm going to read the next
20 "Military organs of Central Bosnia are
21 duty-bound to speed up, accelerate, the procedure of
22 the professionalisation of military units and to
23 establish full military discipline and order into
24 military units."
25 JUDGE JORDA: Right. We can find some
1 elements which are common to what you've just said and
2 my translation, but clearly there is a problem.
3 Mr. Registrar, is this an official
4 translation emanating from the CLSS? I'm talking about
5 the French translation here because I can only judge
6 what is said in the French document.
7 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, Mr. President. Just a
8 second, please. I have to check something.
9 (Trial Chamber confers)
10 JUDGE JORDA: Well, with the agreement of the
11 two other Judges, we will ask you, Mr. Nobilo, to read
12 this paragraph again slowly, the interpreters will give
13 us their translation of the document, and this will be
14 entered in the minutes of the hearing, and then I will
15 ask the CLSS section, via the registry, to give us a
16 new translation of that paragraph.
17 Please read again slowly.
18 MR. NOBILO: I am reading the text:
19 "The military organs of the HVO of Central
20 Bosnia are duty-bound to elaborate plans of defence
21 against a possible attack from Islamic Fundamentalist
22 Mujahedin Forces which have infiltrated into the organs
23 of the army of BH as well."
24 And now a new paragraph, the next paragraph:
25 "Military organs of Central Bosnia are
1 duty-bound to accelerate the process of
2 professionalisation for the military units and to
3 establish full military discipline and order into
4 military units."
5 And that is the end of the quotation.
6 JUDGE JORDA: There are two points that are
7 very different from what we have before our eyes. One
8 speaks of professionalisation and not about logistics
9 and then there is what is said in the first paragraph
10 which is one which is not clear at all. In this new
11 translation we have just got, we speak about Mujahedin
12 forces which have infiltrated the BiH army forces, so
13 it's very different from what we had before us. I will
14 ask for a new official translation.
15 It's five past one. We are going to take a
16 break for lunch, and we will try to gather again with a
17 new translation. I think it is the simplest way to go
18 about this. The witness must be able to make comments
19 on documents that everybody agrees on.
20 MR. KEHOE: Certainly, Mr. President. I
22 JUDGE JORDA: We will meet again at 2.30. I
23 am giving back the document to the registrar. The
24 hearing is adjourned.
25 --- Luncheon recess taken at 1.06 p.m.
1 --- On resuming at 2.35 p.m.
2 JUDGE JORDA: The hearing is resumed. Please
3 be seated. Mr. Registrar, as well as the counsel of
4 the Defence and the Prosecution, please take note that
5 tomorrow, Wednesday, we will begin at 10.00 for a
6 normal day, as Tuesday and Thursday. However, for this
7 week there is a change for Thursday and Friday.
8 Thursday morning we will not be sitting, and we will
9 resume Thursday afternoon at 3.30. On Friday morning
10 we will sit from 10.00 rather than 9.00.
11 Have you taken note of that, Mr. Registrar?
12 THE REGISTRAR: Yes.
13 JUDGE JORDA: This is for reasons of security
14 and the special units that provide transportation of
15 the accused.
16 MR. KEHOE: May I proceed, Mr. President?
17 JUDGE JORDA: Yes.
18 MR. KEHOE:
19 Q. Now, General, the particular document we were
20 talking about, 456/95, on the 22nd of September 1992,
21 is a document which has political aspects to it; isn't
22 that correct?
23 A. Yes. It is a document that emanated from the
24 regular meetings of the civilian officials of Central
25 Bosnia, and it covers more or less all aspects, but I
1 would like to mention that I became familiar with this
2 document here in the courtroom.
3 Though it says that I was a member of the
4 working presidency, clearly all the members of the
5 working presidency signed it but I did not. I did not
6 receive it before coming here to the Tribunal, nor was
7 I familiar with this document. I did know about the
8 discussion and the contents of the discussion to the
9 extent I was able to learn about those discussions
10 during the meeting. I was a guest at that meeting.
11 Q. Well, General, you told us this morning that
12 you only had attended two meetings with political
13 representatives in Central Bosnia. Is that what you
14 told the Judges this morning?
15 A. There were very few meetings, possibly only
16 two. This was a meeting of familiarisation, where I
17 was introduced to the civilian authorities in September
18 1992. Another meeting of coordinating bodies like this
19 one was held in April 1993, which I attended. However,
20 these meetings actually took place every fortnight in
21 Central Bosnia, but these were meetings of civilian
22 representatives and I did not attend those meetings.
23 MR. KEHOE: Mr. Registrar, if we could put
24 Prosecutor's Exhibit 572/1 on the ELMO? If we could
25 pan back just a little bit.
1 Q. Now, General, let's go through these
2 individuals. The man on the left is Ignac Kostroman,
3 the secretary of the HVO; isn't that right?
4 A. Yes, that is Ignac Kostroman. I think that
5 he was the Secretary-General of the HDZ for
6 Bosnia-Herzegovina. He may have been of the HVO. In
7 any event, he was a secretary, yes.
8 Q. He was a political figure, wasn't he?
9 A. Yes, he was a political figure.
10 Q. The man next to him is Anto Valenta the
11 Deputy President of the HVO; isn't that right?
12 A. Yes. Anto Valenta was the Deputy Prime
13 Minister of the government of HVO, I think, or the
14 coordinator for Central Bosnia.
15 Q. Now, as of the 8th of April, this was a man
16 who actually had an office down the hall from you in
17 the Hotel Vitez; isn't that right?
18 A. No. That was a man who was thrown out of his
19 office in Travnik because of the various events that
20 took place there, and he used the office of the chief
21 of staff, that is, Mr. Franjo Nakic for a time from
22 April the 8th in the Vitez Hotel, but for a very brief
23 time. Then he had an office in a nearby building. I
24 don't know the name of the building, but it was across
25 the street from the hotel, about a hundred metres down
1 the road. He couldn't go back to Travnik because the
2 BH army had occupied it.
3 Q. Valenta was a political figure also, wasn't
5 A. Yes. Valenta was, as I have already
6 mentioned the positions he held.
7 Q. Next to Valenta and next to you, in between
8 you and Valenta, is Dario Kordic, the vice president of
9 the HVO; is that right?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. He was a political figure also?
12 A. Yes, he was a political figure too.
13 Q. Now, you met with these men at these press
14 conferences at least once a week in Busovaca; didn't
16 A. I didn't meet with these men, I was a
17 participant in the press conference, as can clearly be
18 seen. The press conferences were held more or less
19 weekly, and they were open to the public, attended by
20 representatives of the United Nations and other
21 representatives of the media, and I was amongst those
22 answering questions addressed by journalists, but each
23 one was responsible for his department. I was
24 responsible for military issues.
25 So this was not a meeting with political
1 representatives as implied from this document that we
2 spoke of from '92 or the other one referred to that was
3 held in April '93.
4 Q. General, these press conferences that you
5 attended on a weekly basis, politics involving the
6 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna was discussed by
7 Kostroman, Valenta, and Kordic in your presence; isn't
8 that true?
9 A. They answered the questions of journalists in
10 my presence. I did not ask them any questions, nor did
11 I participate in any kind of discussions with them at
12 those press conferences.
13 As I said, these were press conferences
14 attended by members of the press from that local
15 community, and depending on the questions, that is,
16 whether they were political or civilian, each of the
17 individuals answered. If there were military
18 questions, as this was a period of heavy fighting first
19 with the Republika Srpska and then with the BH army, I
20 was the one who answered those questions.
21 Q. Well, based on those questions, General, you
22 were well aware of the political positions of these
23 three men, weren't you?
24 A. I could hear, like the other people in
25 attendance, the positions presented by these
1 representatives, but let me repeat that this was not a
2 meeting with the civilian representatives. I stick by
3 my assertion that I attended only two meetings. A
4 meeting is one thing and a press conference is
6 Q. Well, General, at these press conferences
7 where political platforms were being discussed or
8 political commentary was being made by these three men,
9 did you ever disagree with them publicly?
10 A. They made their comments. Those comments
11 were not binding upon me. There were some I did not
12 agree with. I did have occasion to tell some of them
13 so, but those comments they made did not concern me. I
14 was in charge of the command and as a soldier I
15 received my orders from the main staff, and the
16 statements of local or regional political
17 representatives were not binding upon me.
18 Q. Well, those political statements that you
19 disagreed with, tell the Judges about those political
20 statements that you disagreed with and to whom did you
21 direct your criticisms and when?
22 A. It is hard for me to say when. On one
23 occasion, during a press conference of this kind when
24 we were without running water and electricity, this was
25 a period of conflict with the BH army, it may have been
1 at the end of 1993, I remember that Mr. Valenta said
2 that he condemned such an approach by the BH army, that
3 is, depriving the Lasva pocket of water and
4 electricity, and he said that if this continued the HVO
5 would take measures to cut off the power and water
6 wherever the HVO could do so for the members of the BH
7 army and in the areas inhabited by Bosniak Muslims.
8 I told him personally that I did not support
9 that and that I would no longer attend such press
10 conferences at which such statements would be made, and
11 I disagreed with this statement that he made to the
12 press at the press conference.
13 I think that from then on he did not attend
14 those press conferences, but instead there were
15 separate press conferences held by him as a
16 representative of the civilian authorities and press
17 conferences of the command of Central Bosnia at which
18 military issues were discussed.
19 Q. Well, General, is that it? Is that the only
20 one that you can recall that you disagreed with?
21 A. You asked me when and where. There may have
22 been other occasions. I wish to remind Their Honours
23 that there were quite a number of statements by
24 political representatives, including local people.
25 We can see from this document that the
1 municipal level almost determined what the Ministries
2 and the army would do. However, I considered that such
3 statements had no binding effect upon me, and I
4 acknowledged the superiority only of the main staff and
5 the official orders I received from them. But there
6 were many statements of local officials but these were
7 not official positions or official documents.
8 Q. Well, General, isn't it a fact, sir, that you
9 were involved in politics, as we saw from the Agence
10 France Presse article, through this meeting on the 22nd
11 of September, 1992 up through your political commentary
12 on the Vance-Owen Peace Plan?
13 A. No, it is not a fact. Unfortunately, I was
14 preoccupied with our struggle for survival. One should
15 bear in mind that I spent the whole of August at the
16 front in Jajce, in September again, most of the time on
17 the front line in Jajce; October, at the front line in
18 Travnik. I can show you where my command posts were,
19 and I claim that the front line was my command post in
20 Jajce and Travnik. The headquarters was based in
21 Vitez, but I spent most of my time focusing on military
22 issues. So these two meetings, or the one you are
23 referring to, is not an indicator of my political
24 participation, the more so as I was introduced at the
25 meeting as a guest.
1 Q. Well, General, you made political commentary
2 on the Vance-Owen Peace Plan, didn't you?
3 A. I did comment on the Vance-Owen Plan, which
4 was a plan on the internal structure of
5 Bosnia-Herzegovina, but specifically the part relating
6 to military issues and the military aspects of that
7 plan, to the extent to which I was informed about that
8 plan, because the Vance-Owen Plan was not just a
9 political plan, it was a plan covering the overall
10 political set-up of Bosnia-Herzegovina, going into
11 political as well as military aspects. Perhaps I was
12 not fully qualified for the political part, but I did
13 comment on the military aspect of the Vance-Owen Peace
14 Plan as far as I know.
15 Q. Well, General, let us show you Prosecutor's
16 Exhibit 456/112, a document you discussed with --
17 JUDGE JORDA: Perhaps before going on, Judge
18 Rodrigues has a question.
19 MR. KEHOE: I'm sorry, Judge.
20 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, Mr. President.
21 General Blaskic, how many times, more or
22 less, were you seated in this way as shown on this
24 A. It is hard for me to say how many times, Your
1 JUDGE RODRIGUES: But roughly.
2 A. Sometimes it was once a week, sometimes once
3 a fortnight; it depended on the conditions, the
4 situation on the battlefront, what the needs were,
5 whether we had anything to say at that press
7 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Another question: Why did
8 you say that Kostroman, Kordic, and Valenta, on this
9 photograph, are politicians, are political figures?
11 A. Because they had certain political positions
12 in the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna, later the
13 Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna, and before that in
14 the HDZ party. They were members of the HDZ.
15 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Yes, but if you look at the
16 photograph, I think that one can see Kordic and
17 Kostroman in military clothing.
18 A. Your Honour, virtually all civilian
19 representatives at some point in time, I can't say
20 throughout the period of the war, but for a long time
21 during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina wore military
22 uniforms, including Mr. Valenta. So I am really
23 surprised that in this photograph he is in civilian
24 clothes. I saw him many times wearing a uniform.
25 JUDGE RODRIGUES: But a picture speaks more
1 loudly than words, and if a person looks at this
2 photograph, without seeing what those people have in
3 their minds, in their heads, who are civilians and who
4 are the military men?
5 A. Your Honour, that is a good question.
6 Pictures do say a lot, and one might conclude from this
7 picture that all are soldiers except one. However, in
8 Bosnia-Herzegovina at the time, from the age of
9 childhood, children of five and onwards, love to wear
10 uniforms, especially camouflage uniforms. It was a
11 piece of clothing that was most in demand in those
13 JUDGE RODRIGUES: So a normal person looking
14 at this photograph would say there is one civilian and
15 three military men, but in effect there were three
16 political figures and only one military man because you
17 said that this photograph -- or this meeting which you
18 attended on many occasions, you knew very well that a
19 photograph speaks more loudly than words, yet you
20 accepted to be seated under those conditions.
21 A. Yes, I did, and these were, as I said, press
22 conferences, and they were the only way of conveying
23 certain positions to the population of the pocket, be
24 they military or political or civilian. But I mostly
25 discussed military issues at those press conferences.
1 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Imagine, General, that this
2 is a press conference, and there may be journalists
3 from the BBC, CNN, or foreign journalists, and they
4 have a military question. If I understood you well,
5 you said that you were there to answer questions of a
6 military nature. If I am a journalist, a foreign
7 journalist, in the hall attending a press conference, I
8 have a military question perhaps, and I could address
9 myself either to Kostroman or to Kordic; perhaps I will
10 ask you that question because I may like you more. But
11 if I have a military question, I could easily address
12 myself to the other people, but I would never address
13 the question to Anto Valenta, who is wearing a tie. Do
14 you think that I would be reasonable?
15 A. Certainly, Your Honour, because all three are
16 wearing uniforms. But there are two more details that
17 could be mentioned. If a question was of a military
18 nature, then the interpreter would address the question
19 to me, and this badge shown here was worn for the
20 benefit of foreign journalists and it said that I was
21 the military commander of the Operative Zone of Central
22 Bosnia, whereas the others did not wear such a badge,
23 and then the questions would be addressed to the
24 persons responsible for them.
25 JUDGE RODRIGUES: One more question, General
1 Blaskic. Under these conditions that we see on the
2 photograph, who chaired the meeting? Who chaired the
3 proceedings at this table?
4 A. No one acted as chairman. There was a kind
5 of master of ceremonies. We can't see him, I think he
6 was seated to my left, and he sort of conducted the
7 proceedings. He would just say, "I am opening this
8 press conference of Central Bosnia. Today's guests are
9 so and so."
10 And if I may just add, this was not a
11 conference attended only by HVO members. For instance,
12 on the 16th of November, 1992, sitting next to me at
13 the same conference was the president of the war
14 presidency of Gorazde municipality, Mr. Hadzo Efendic,
15 who came to thank me and the command in public for
16 assistance in the defence of Gorazde. So there were
17 other guests, representatives of the Territorial
18 Defence and others, who attended such conferences, but
19 no one really acted as chairman.
20 If a conference was convened regarding
21 certain negotiations on the internal set-up of Bosnia
22 and Herzegovina, then those questions would be answered
23 by the political representatives. That was the only
24 way in which we could communicate, except for the
25 official information that reached us in those days,
1 that could reach us under those conditions.
2 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, General.
3 MR. KEHOE:
4 Q. Just following up on Judge Rodrigues'
5 question, General, in addition to these weekly
6 meetings, how many times a week did you speak to or
7 meet Dario Kordic?
8 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, I repeat, these
9 were not weekly meetings. Perhaps I didn't get the
10 correct interpretation. Because for me, a meeting was
11 a form of work and something quite different than
12 weekly meetings for the public, these were conferences
13 for the public, whereas meetings with Dario Kordic --
14 how many times a week? -- sometimes not at all. If
15 necessary, we would meet if he had some information
16 linked to my needs, that is to say, to military
17 matters. We would meet in the church, for example, if
18 I was in the church at Busovaca. But there was no
19 regular form of contact because he was not my
20 superior. My superior was the chief of the main staff.
21 Q. So, on average, in addition to these weekly
22 press conferences, how often did you meet Kordic?
23 A. I've already said that it wasn't standard,
24 there was no standard preconceived order. Sometimes
25 once a week, sometimes I would meet him during the mass
1 said in the church in Busovaca and so on.
2 Q. Now, Ignac Kostroman went to many meetings
3 with international agencies that you attended; isn't
4 that so?
5 A. No, that is not so. Ignac Kostroman attended
6 meetings -- I can even try and enumerate them -- from
7 the 23rd of October, when there was a broader
8 delegation of the HVO at a meeting, in the presidency
9 of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina and at the
10 military airport, and the meeting was convened by
11 General Morillon. The next meeting was held, I think
12 it was on the 30th of October, and the following one in
13 November, perhaps even the 5th of November, and at the
14 March meeting in Zenica -- there was a March meeting in
15 Zenica. Very few meetings where he was present; in
16 fact, I would say five, between five, five, six, or
17 seven meetings, to the best of my recollection.
18 Perhaps he went to meetings that I did not have any
19 knowledge of.
20 Q. Well, in addition to these press conferences,
21 approximately how often did you meet with Kostroman?
22 A. Well, he had a completely different
23 department. He was the secretary, and the situation
24 was similar as with Kordic, and far less frequently
25 because I had my command in Vitez and I spent most of
1 my time up at the front line, so that throughout August
2 in Jajce, throughout October and November in Travnik,
3 in Zepce, in Usora, and so on.
4 Q. And Valenta, in addition to these press
5 conferences, how often did you meet with Valenta?
6 A. I was invited by Chairman Thebault once to
7 attend a meeting, perhaps two or three times. I saw
8 him in the hotel when he was staying there temporarily,
9 but any meetings with him, apart from the meetings that
10 I was invited to attend by the international --
11 European Monitors, and I think it was Colonel Stewart
12 at the time, I had no other meetings with Valenta, and
13 I did not consider that I was duty-bound to have
14 meetings with him, to meet him, because none of the
15 positions of Valenta, Kostroman, or anybody were
16 binding for me, apart from the official orders issued
17 by the chief of the main staff of the HVO.
18 Q. Well, General, wasn't Valenta present at one
19 of your meetings with Colonel Stewart where the issues
20 on Ahmici were discussed?
21 A. He wasn't present. The meeting was in his
22 office, the meeting was in May 1993, and I don't know
23 all the topics of the meeting. There was a whole
24 delegation of European Monitors there headed by their
25 representative, Mr. Thebault. There was also Colonel
1 Stewart there. They invited me to attend that meeting,
2 for a portion of that meeting which was when there was
3 a discussion on Ahmici and the investigation in Ahmici
4 and other subjects as well, and if you want me to, I
5 can look at my notes and chronology and tell you.
6 Q. At the appropriate time, General, we'll get
7 back to that. At this juncture, let us turn our
8 attention to your political commentary on the
9 Vance-Owen Peace Plan as reflected in Prosecutor's
10 Exhibit 456/112.
11 Now, General, this was a document that was
12 discussed during your direct-examination, which
13 Mr. Nobilo described at page 20110 as a potentially
14 troublesome document, and referring to this document,
15 Mr. Nobilo referred to it as involving political
17 Now, this document not only quite clearly
18 does involve political issues in the Vance-Owen Peace
19 Plan; isn't that correct? This is a document that is
20 dated the 26th of May, 1993 and is sent to the European
21 Union Monitoring Mission, Mr. Thebault.
22 Again, I ask you, this is a document that
23 quite clearly discusses political issues, isn't that
24 correct, General?
25 A. Your Honours, first of all, I'd like to say
1 something about the document. The document, judgingly
2 the initials, was written by Drago Dujmovic, and I
3 said -- and not only did he write it but he signed it.
4 He did not have authorisation to do so, because he was
5 not amongst the ranks of my assistants to able to sign
6 a document of this kind. Had I known, this kind of
7 document would never have been sent out from my command
8 to Mr. Thebault.
9 Mr. Thebault had a series of meetings with
10 me, and I never discussed the political aspects with
11 him and political issues with him, and he knows that
12 full well.
13 As far as the Vance-Owen Plan is concerned
14 and what the Prosecutor maintains that it only treated
15 political questions, perhaps I don't understand
16 Vance-Owen's plan properly, but it's my position that
17 it treated questions of state administration and the
18 internal organisation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and
19 structure included, political questions, military
20 issues, and a series of other questions including the
21 setup of Bosnia-Herzegovina itself as the state of
22 three constituent peoples. That is a plan which was
23 created under the chairmanship of international
24 intermediaries. That is how I understand it. But as I
25 underline, I did not authorise the document and I do
1 not stand behind the document, although the last
2 passage, the last paragraph of the document calls for a
3 joint meeting for us to clarify things that were not
4 clear. I never discussed political matters with the
5 commander of the 3rd Corps.
6 Q. Let me be very clear about the reference to
7 political issues, General, and I will read you
8 Mr. Nobilo's question and then your answer.
9 MR. KEHOE: This is, counsel, for your
10 reference, page 20174 beginning on line 22.
11 Q. This is Mr. Nobilo's questions concerning
12 this document, Prosecutor's Exhibit 456/112.
13 "Q So this is a letter to the monitoring
14 mission of the European Community where your name has
15 been typed out and references made to political issues
16 such as the implementation of the Vance-Owen Plan."
17 The question says:
18 "Q So tell us, did you write this? Did you
19 sign it? Would you have signed it and sent such a
21 Your answer is, beginning on line 3 of page
23 "A I did not approve this document. I did
24 not write it and I did not sign it. This document was
25 signed by Mr. Drago Dujmovic. He was the officer in
1 the department for information and propaganda
2 activities, and he never held such a position that
3 would authorise him to sign any document on my
5 Is that true, sir?
6 MR. HAYMAN: Counsel, I believe you misquoted
7 the transcript on line 5 when you said, "Signed by
8 Mr. Drago Dujmovic." The transcript says, "Written by
9 Mr. Drago Dujmovic."
10 MR. KEHOE: Counsel, you're right. It does
11 say in the transcript it was written by Mr. Drago
12 Dujmovic. I believe the rest of it is accurate.
13 "A He was the officer of the department of
14 information and propaganda activities, and he never
15 held such a position that would authorise him to sign
16 any document on my behalf."
17 Q. Now, is that true, General?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Mr. Dujmovic was never in a position to sign
20 any documents on your behalf; is that your testimony?
21 A. Mr. Dujmovic was not in that kind of
22 position, authorising him sign documents on my behalf.
23 He was not an assistant. It was only my assistants who
24 were authorised to sign those documents. As far as I
25 know, he did not perform the function of assistant for
1 political activities except after Marko Prskalo had
2 been wounded. I think Dragan Ramljak then held the
3 post of assistant for political matters in the military
4 district of Vitez. But at all events, a document with
5 contents of this kind I would not have sent to
6 Mr. Thebault, nor did I discuss political matters with
8 Q. Let me show you a document, General.
9 THE REGISTRAR: Exhibit 615 and 615A for the
10 English version.
11 MR. KEHOE:
12 Q. Now, General, this is an order of the 30th of
13 April, 1993. Again, you would agree with me that it is
14 drafted by Drago Dujmovic, and whose signature is
16 MR. HAYMAN: Mr. President, counsel has
17 characterised this as an order.
18 MR. KEHOE: It's a request for invention. I
19 apologise, counsel. You're absolutely right. Request
20 for intervention.
21 Q. Whose signature is that, sir?
22 A. This is also Drago Dujmovic's signature.
23 Q. Did you authorise this document, sir?
24 A. I would have to read through it to see what
25 it is about. May I please read the document to refresh
1 my memory?
2 Q. Certainly.
3 JUDGE JORDA: Generally speaking -- excuse me
4 for interrupting, but generally speaking, I'm talking
5 to you, General Blaskic, it is a bit confusing. When
6 we have orders, requests, whatever the type of
7 document, that bear your seal and are written by
8 somebody else, you sometimes say, "No, I don't approve
9 of this." It's a bit confusing, don't you think?
10 Can you imagine me tomorrow morning giving a
11 decision bearing my seal and then saying later on,
12 "Well, no. This was written by my assistant. I don't
13 authorise this document. I don't approve of it."
14 This is a general question, which has nothing
15 to do with this particular document, but it seems to me
16 that since the beginning we have seen the documents
17 with the seal of General Blaskic, and we hear you
18 saying, "This was written by such and such and he had
19 no power to write such a document."
20 So it is a bit confusing, all the more so
21 when we only have an English version or a French
22 version that says "Tihomir Blaskic" at the end of a
23 document. It's very exceptional for me to have the
24 B/C/S/ version before me. Because the only thing we
25 see on French and English versions is your name
1 "Tihomir Blaskic," which is a bit confusing and a bit
2 perplexing, don't you agree?
3 A. Mr. President, that is quite right. It is a
4 little confusing, because according to the regulations
5 of the work of the command of the Operative Zone,
6 documents were to be signed by me. If I couldn't sign
7 them, then it would be the chief of the main staff,
8 Franjo Nakic, who would sign them. But he was absent
9 for a number of -- for a long time because he was
10 working on the commissions. We all know about this. I
11 don't want to repeat it.
12 So if I wasn't there, then my assistants
13 could sign the documents. But Drago Dujmovic was never
14 officially an assistant, he was a clerk. The assistant
15 was Marko Prskalo, who had been wounded and he was
16 lying wounded in hospital.
17 Now, I don't know, chronologically speaking,
18 when his deputy took up his duties for him to be able
19 to sign, but clerks were not, as a rule, able to sign
20 documents as my assistants and deputies, because that
21 would mean that 500 -- well, not 500, but 50 other
22 people could have signed the document.
23 JUDGE JORDA: I repeat that my question is of
24 a general nature, General Blaskic. Generally speaking,
25 do you think that you were the man responsible for all
1 the documents bearing the seal of Tihomir Blaskic,
2 because you don't only put your seal on these
3 documents, if we are speaking of a traditional
4 organisation, there's something that's striking in
5 these documents, because not only do we see the seal of
6 the commander of the Operative Zone, but we also see
7 his name, your name, typewritten on the document.
8 Sometimes it is your signature also that appears but
9 sometimes it is not your signature.
10 So my question is very simple. Generally
11 speaking, do you feel you are responsible for all the
12 documents bearing your seal and bearing your name?
13 A. I feel myself responsible, Mr. President and
14 Your Honours, but all documents in the command of the
15 Operative Zone for Central Bosnia bear my name and that
16 same stamp. All the documents. Those were our
17 internal rules. So you have the commander, regardless
18 of who signed the document.
19 What I want to say is that the right to sign
20 was something that my deputies had.
21 JUDGE JORDA: General Blaskic, please, there
22 are two different categories of documents. You give to
23 your assistants the possibility to sign some
24 documents. If you give that authorisation to your
25 assistants, you are responsible, in a way, for what
1 he's going to do. If you don't want to be responsible
2 for what this assistant is going to do, you will not
3 give him the authorisation to put a signature on the
4 document. Either you give your signature or you
5 don't. If you do give it, then you are responsible.
6 Again, I'm speaking in very general terms.
7 Let's forget about Blaskic for the moment
8 being. So either one gives his or her signature, or
9 one doesn't.
10 A. I'm not sure that I have understood you
11 correctly, but I consider myself to be responsible for
12 the documents which bear my name and surname, and every
13 document in the Operative Zone has my name and surname
14 on it.
15 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you for this very clear
16 answer. That's quite clear.
17 I bring your attention to the fact that we
18 are speaking of two categories of documents, internal
19 documents where, of course, you might think you are
20 responsible, but also documents who go outside the
21 Operative Zone and who are meant for the BritBat, for
22 example; for external organisations; for the ECMM, for
23 example; for the Red Cross, for example.
24 These documents -- I'm sure you must feel
25 particularly responsible for these documents. You feel
1 responsible for all the documents but particularly for
2 these documents, because how do you want the Red Cross,
3 for example, to know who is in charge of the Operative
4 Zone if you say, "Oh, no. I'm sorry, but my assistant
5 has done something I don't agree with." These
6 documents are very important ones. They are, you know,
7 sent to the Red Cross or to the ECMM.
8 You have to agree with what I'm saying, don't
10 A. Mr. President, I agree, but on this document,
11 once again, the date is the 30th of April, 1993, and
12 I'm sure you know the confusion that reigned from the
13 100 offices necessary. Only seven of us worked. Two
14 were wounded and so on and so forth.
15 JUDGE JORDA: I can understand that answer
16 you've just given me, but I was speaking in general
17 terms. You make comments, you know, about such and
18 such a document by saying, "Yes, I was, you know, on
19 the front. There was a slight misunderstanding," et
20 cetera. That I can understand. But what I want to
21 appear in this transcript is that General Blaskic
22 considers himself as responsible for every document
23 going outside the Operative Zone, documents which bear
24 his signature and his name, Tihomir Blaskic.
25 Thank you for being quite clear on that
1 issue, and I think in the name of all the Judges here,
2 thank you.
3 Mr. Kehoe, you may resume.
4 MR. KEHOE: Thank you, Mr. President.
5 Mr. Registrar, we can take a look at these, a series of
6 documents. We can go through these quickly. I
7 believe, Mr. Registrar, they're in chronological
9 Mr. President, it might be easier and quicker
10 if we just deal with all of these documents at once.
11 JUDGE JORDA: Each time you speak of going
12 faster, Mr. Kehoe, I feel elated so ...
13 MR. KEHOE: Judge, as long as I don't have
14 you falling asleep yet in mid afternoon, I figure
15 that's a success.
16 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. All right. Let's
18 THE REGISTRAR: Document 616, 617A, 618,
19 618A, 619, and 620A. Each of the documents has an "A"
20 version in English.
21 MR. KEHOE:
22 Q. Now, General, take a look at all these
23 documents. As with the previous document, these are
24 again various documents, responses, requests, requests
25 for assistance, a note to a commander, and they are all
1 drafted by Mr. Dujmovic, and he also signs for them on
2 your behalf, doesn't he, every one of those documents?
3 A. Yes, and all the documents came into being
4 after my assistant was killed, Mr. Marko Prskalo, after
5 the 17th of April, 1994, when Marko Prskalo -- I'm
6 sorry, he wasn't killed, he was wounded by BH army
7 snipers in Stari Vitez.
8 Q. General, take a look at that first document
9 that you have, Exhibit 616. The date for that is
10 3 May, 1993. Now, these documents, General, run
11 from -- and I'm talking about 615 -- run from the 30th
12 of April till mid May of 1993. So during this period
13 of time, Mr. Dujmovic did, in fact, have the authority
14 to sign on your behalf; isn't that right?
15 A. Dujmovic, throughout this period, was an
16 officer in the IPD department, not an assistant for
17 IPD, and such a situation may have occurred only after
18 the assistant for IPD, Mr. Marko Prskalo, was wounded,
19 but in reality what happened was that my assistants and
20 the chiefs of staff signed on my behalf and not
21 officers in departments, but the situation was such
22 that there were only seven of us in the command as of
23 the 16th of April, Prskalo was wounded, he was lying in
24 hospital in the church at Nova Bila, and probably for
25 that brief period of time, Dujmovic may have signed
1 documents of this kind, requests, instructions, and
2 other correspondence.
3 Q. General, let's look at 620, and that is a
4 request to the U.N. command dated 18 May, 1993. Did
5 Dujmovic sign that on your behalf?
6 A. Yes, Dujmovic signed that document.
7 Q. Did he sign all of these documents on your
8 behalf and with your approval?
9 A. He did sign all these documents that you have
10 shown me, but I said already the circumstances, that
11 is, when my assistant was wounded and he was unable to
12 perform his duties. I was familiar with some of these
13 events and I was aware of these developments.
14 Q. Well, let's turn our attention back to
15 456/112, Mr. Registrar, the document that we were
16 speaking about at the outset, which is the document
17 that was sent to Mr. Thebault and that was signed by
18 Mr. Dujmovic on your behalf.
19 Now, when you told this Court, General, back
20 on the 12th of April, 1999, with respect to this
21 argument, that "Dujmovic never held such a position
22 that would authorise him to sign any document on my
23 behalf," that wasn't true, was it, because he did have
24 authorisation to sign on your behalf?
25 A. He did not hold a position -- when I say
1 "position," I mean his official post. Officially, he
2 was always an officer for IPD, he never was my
3 immediate assistant; and according to the rules on the
4 work of the command of the Central Bosnia Operative
5 Zone, he did not have such a position in the command
6 which would give him the right to use my signature. I
7 am talking about the position he held according to the
8 formal structure of the command.
9 JUDGE JORDA: Do you have these internal
10 regulations, Mr. Prosecutor?
11 MR. KEHOE: I've never seen them, Judge.
12 JUDGE JORDA: The Judges would need to have
13 these regulations which specify these responsibilities.
14 Continue, Mr. Kehoe. So this is a question
15 that the Judges will have to pose.
16 MR. KEHOE:
17 Q. General, despite your answers to Mr. Nobilo's
18 questions, there were times when Mr. Drago Dujmovic was
19 authorised to sign for you; isn't that correct?
20 A. He did so, but he didn't have an official
21 position to authorise him to do that. If Mr. Dujmovic
22 had acted responsibly, he should have given all those
23 documents to me to sign, because I repeat, he was just
24 an officer, a clerk, and they had no right of
25 signature, no right to sign such documents. If I was
1 present, I had to sign them; if I was absent, then my
2 chief of staff or the next deputy, and it is quite
3 common knowledge who that person is in the hierarchy.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Were you absent on the 3rd and
5 the 18th of May to sign these documents? Were you
7 A. Mr. President, I would have to look it up in
8 the chronology of events, but I assume that I wasn't
9 absent, that I was in the command.
10 JUDGE JORDA: Let us assume that you were not
11 there. You have someone who doesn't hold an official
12 position, according to what you say, according to your
13 internal rules which we have never seen, he had no
14 right to sign, and you have just told us that,
15 generally speaking, you do accept responsibility for
16 everything that bears your stamp. Then I assume that
17 you cannot be satisfied when you learn of somebody
18 writing to the Red Cross, the British Battalion, the
19 3rd Corps, to UNHCR of Zenica, to the UNPROFOR command,
20 et cetera, when you see this, you cannot be pleased.
21 So that means that your zone is not functioning
22 properly. You must have been angry. You would have to
23 dismiss him, take sanctions against him, 616 to 620.
24 You yourself said that everything bearing your stamp,
25 you are responsible for, but now you are telling us he
1 didn't have the right. I don't know. If somebody
2 tomorrow signs decisions of the Chamber in my name, I
3 certainly wouldn't be pleased with it.
4 But you must explain this to us. You must
5 give us a precise answer to the questions of the
6 Prosecutor. The Judges need these answers. You
7 consider yourself responsible for everything bearing
8 your stamp. I am going too fast. I'm sorry. You
9 consider yourself responsible for everything bearing
10 your stamp. We have documents for a period of 15 days,
11 from 616 to 620, signed by Mr. Dujmovic. Do you
12 consider yourself responsible or not for these
13 documents signed by Mr. Dujmovic? Let us be very
14 precise about this.
15 A. Mr. President, I did not agree with such acts
16 by my associates. I did take steps. I cannot tell you
17 specifically what exactly I did at what point in time,
18 but I do know that I demanded all my associates to be
19 very careful as to who was authorised to sign and who
20 was not, and the general rule was that if I was present
21 in the command, I would sign; if not, the document
22 would wait for me to sign it. But the circumstances
23 under which we operated were such that there were very
24 often certain omissions made, and I consider this to be
25 an omission on the part of my associate, Mr. Dujmovic,
1 because those documents should have been signed by me
2 if I had been present.
3 JUDGE JORDA: When you are present with
4 Mr. Valenta and Mr. Kostroman, do you consider yourself
5 responsible for what they say? So I don't know -- I am
6 changing my subject, yes, but I am pursuing my own
7 logic, Mr. Hayman.
8 Your presence, from the standpoint of
9 presence, when we have these documents here, your
10 client is telling us "if I was present." So he is
11 setting a large number of conditions. "I consider
12 myself responsible if I was present. If I see the
13 assistant draft a letter, sign it in my name, and in
14 that case, I am responsible." Or is it the
15 interpretation that is wrong?
16 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, there may have
17 been an error in the interpretation. The client
18 answered clearly that Dujmovic did not have the
19 position authorising him to sign and that he made a
20 mistake but that he accepts all the documents emanating
21 from the command as his own.
22 JUDGE JORDA: Continue, Mr. Kehoe, and thank
23 you, Mr. Nobilo. It's clear now.
24 MR. KEHOE:
25 Q. Well, General, did you know that Dujmovic was
1 signing all these documents on your behalf?
2 A. I did know and learn later about this
3 omission on the part of Dujmovic, and I'm sure that I
4 discussed this matter both with Dujmovic and his
5 superior later on, Mr. Dragan Ramljak and that we did
6 undertake certain steps. Whether it was a reprimand or
7 a disciplinary measure or counselling, but I am quite
8 sure that I did discuss this with Dujmovic and caution
9 him, telling him that he did not have a position giving
10 him the right to sign documents on my behalf. But I
11 wish to underline once again that these are events
12 linked to the conflicts in Travnik and there were very
13 few of my associates present whereas, at the same time,
14 fighting was very intense.
15 Q. So the bottom line, General, is that these
16 documents were signed by Dujmovic on your behalf and
17 you approve their contents; is that your testimony to
18 the president?
19 MR. HAYMAN: Could we have the documents
20 specified, which ones he's talking about?
21 MR. KEHOE: Talking now 615 to 620.
22 JUDGE JORDA: You may cast a glance through
23 them, of course, Mr. Blaskic.
24 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President, I don't know --
25 we're about to just change subjects a little bit. The
1 General can review these at a break, if you would like
2 to take a break at this juncture, and I can come back
3 and ask him that question and he can answer that
4 question and we won't waste any time while he's
5 reviewing them to the extent that he needs additional
7 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. Perhaps, as suggested by
8 the Prosecutor, we will have a 20-minute break.
9 --- Recess taken at 3.44 p.m.
10 --- On resuming at 4.05 p.m.
11 JUDGE JORDA: The hearing is resumed.
12 Mr. Prosecutor?
13 MR. KEHOE: Thank you, Mr. President and Your
15 Q. General, the question we left off with with
16 regard to documents 615 through 620 were these
17 documents that were signed by Drago Dujmovic. Is it
18 your testimony that you now say that you have
19 authorised those particular documents and their
20 contents? Is that your testimony?
21 A. As regards these documents, I claim that they
22 all bear the registration number 01 and that according
23 to the rules it was my duty to sign those documents.
24 Drago Dujmovic acted correctly in drafting those
25 documents, but he made a mistake in signing them.
1 The rule was for me to sign them all and only
2 exceptionally, if I'm unable to do so and the documents
3 are urgent, only then could they have been signed by my
4 assistants, the chief of staff, and other authorised
5 persons. Drago Dujmovic had no such authority.
6 I have reviewed the contents of these
7 documents, and I support the contents of the documents
8 from 615 through 620. I would have signed those same
9 documents, and I believe that the associates authorised
10 to do so would have done so if I wasn't there.
11 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, General Blaskic.
12 That is clear now. We can proceed.
13 MR. KEHOE:
14 Q. General, let us now turn our attention back
15 to 456/112, your 26 May, 1993 letter to Mr. Thebault.
16 Now, General, this is again the document that
17 we discussed before that was signed by Mr. Drago
18 Dujmovic. Now, do you authorise the contents of this
19 document, and if not, why not?
20 A. I have already said that this too is a
21 document 01-5-68-9, therefore, a document that I was
22 authorised to sign. Drago Dujmovic did not have the
23 position authorising him to sign it on my behalf.
24 A document of this content was something that
25 I did not approve of, because I feel that the document
1 contains certain elements which concerned the political
2 figures representing the Croats, and the Bosniak
3 Muslims, and particularly the civilian authorities.
4 Q. You said in your direct examination, this is
5 at page 20175, line 9:
6 "I had quite a number of meetings with
7 Mr. Thebault but never did I discuss with him any
8 political issues because that was not my duty, nor did
9 I have any such competence. If I had known of this
10 document," and we're referring to 456/112, "If I had
11 known of this document, I never would have approved it
12 or approved it being sent to this address."
13 Do you stand by that testimony, sir?
14 A. Yes, I do. I stand by that testimony that I
15 spoke with Mr. Thebault most frequently about military
16 issues. Those were the topics of our conversations. I
17 always made it clear to him that if he wanted to
18 discuss political matters with me or the functioning of
19 the civilian authorities, that I was not the competent
20 person but, rather, the representatives of the civilian
21 authorities in the region.
22 Q. Let me turn our attention to another
23 document, General, and it is the document in sequence
24 right above this.
25 THE REGISTRAR: It is document 621, 621A for
1 the English version.
2 MR. KEHOE:
3 Q. Now, looking at this document again, General,
4 this is again a document that was signed by -- or
5 drafted by Drago Dujmovic and signed by Drago Dujmovic
6 on your behalf; isn't that right?
7 A. Yes. It is a document written and signed on
8 my behalf, but let me just review the document for a
9 moment, please.
10 Q. There is not a French copy, General, so I
11 will read it briefly. It is a brief document. It is
12 the 26th of May, 1993, 1810, to ICRC Zenica:
13 "Request for additional engagement.
14 "Since representatives of both the military
15 and political leadership of the Croatian and Muslim
16 peoples have officially agreed on the organisation of
17 provinces number 8, 9, and 10 according to the
18 Vance-Owen Plan and since this anticipates the
19 organisation and functioning of normal life, we ask you
20 to again mediate with representatives of 3rd Corps
21 command to fulfil their obligations and release Croats
22 who are in prison.
23 "We stress that the following prisons, the
24 Zenica House of Correction, the Bilmiste Secondary
25 School, the Secondary Music School, the Students'
1 Dormitory, the Old Age Pensioners, and the Kindergarten
2 in Travnicka Street, hold a large number of Croats who
3 are being detained for no justifiable reason.
4 "We have released all detainees who were on
5 territories controlled by the HVO. The realisation of
6 this proposal would rebuild trust among the people and
7 facilitate the future implementation of agreements."
8 General, this, as you can see in the number
9 sequence, is one number after 456/112 and I'm looking
10 at your registration number 01-5-68-9/93 and that's the
11 Exhibit 156/112, and the new Exhibit 621 is one up,
13 Now, sir, with regard to 621, this new
14 document, again it talks about the implementation of
15 the Vance-Owen Peace Plan. Would you have authorised
16 and did you authorise the contents of this document?
17 A. Your Honours, if we look at the document,
18 456/112 was issued at 1800 and this one at 1810.
19 Document 621 was issued at 1810. So this document is
20 headed "Request", addressed to the International Red
22 If I was in a position to study this document
23 before signing it, I certainly would not have put this
24 preamble in connection with the Vance-Owen Plan, but
25 the request for the release of prisoners is something I
2 I wish to underline that in this case too,
3 Mr. Dujmovic clearly acted in an unauthorised manner.
4 He committed an administrative error. I would have
5 changed this document. I would have kept the request
6 for the release of prisoners, that is, the second and
7 third paragraph. However, the first paragraph I would
8 not have sent to the International Red Cross because it
9 isn't even important for the International Red Cross.
10 Q. Well, why -- General, who signed this
11 document? We're talking about Exhibit 621.
12 A. Document 621 was signed, without any
13 authorisation, by Mr. Dujmovic.
14 Q. Now, your testimony is that you would never
15 have authorised the letter to Mr. Thebault, 456/112,
16 and you never would have included paragraph one on
17 Exhibit 621; is that right?
18 A. I would not have approved, in this overall
19 context, the content of the letter to Mr. Thebault.
20 That is my position.
21 Q. Let me show you a document, General. Before
22 I do that, let me ask you a question, General. You
23 noted for us, both on direct and cross-examination, and
24 I ask you to take a look first at Exhibit 456/112, you
25 noted both in response to questions by Mr. Nobilo and
1 this afternoon that you had never spoken to
2 Mr. Thebault about politics, and "If I had known about
3 this document," Exhibit 456/112, "I would never have
4 approved it or approved it being sent to
5 Mr. Thebault."
6 My question for you, General, is: Is that
7 testimony by you as truthful as everything else that
8 you have told these Judges?
9 MR. HAYMAN: Objection as to form,
10 Mr. President.
11 MR. KEHOE: It's a very simple question.
12 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. Please rephrase the
13 question. It is not a correct way to put it.
14 MR. KEHOE: Well, the testimony that you gave
15 these Judges about not authorising this document,
16 456/112, was that truthful testimony, General?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Let me show you a document.
19 JUDGE JORDA: Let me remind you, Mr. Kehoe,
20 that the witness is under oath.
21 MR. KEHOE: I understand, Your Honour.
22 JUDGE JORDA: So all he says is truthful,
23 unless you can show that he is lying under oath.
24 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit 622.
25 MR. KEHOE: I have an extra copy for the
1 witness, Mr. Usher, if it's necessary. You can give
2 him a copy.
3 Q. General, is that your signature?
4 MR. HAYMAN: Could the document be read to
5 the witness?
6 MR. KEHOE: I will take the document
8 Q. The question on the table at this point is:
9 Is that the witness's signature?
10 A. Yes, that is my signature, but the document
11 is in English before me so that I -- and as I don't
12 understand English, I don't know the contents of that
13 particular document.
14 JUDGE JORDA: You, however, have signed it in
15 its English version; haven't you? I seem to understand
16 that you had under your orders a team of translators
17 who were as efficient as ours. Wasn't that the case,
18 General Blaskic?
19 A. No, I didn't have such competent
20 translators. I just had one, and he functioned as a
21 translator/interpreter and as other things as well. I
22 would have been lucky had I had the kind of
23 interpreters that we have here.
24 JUDGE JORDA: Very well, and thank you for
25 our translators. I see that it is necessary to read
1 this document again. The witness has signed it but
2 cannot remember it.
3 MR. KEHOE:
4 Q. Before I begin to read it, I want you to
5 compare the reference number on 456/112, that you
6 maintain that you didn't authorise, with the reference
7 number on this Exhibit 622, and I think you'll agree
8 with me that the reference numbers are the same,
9 01-5-689/93; isn't that correct?
10 A. Yes, the numbers are the same here. It's
11 written down in pencil, but the numbers are the same,
13 MR. KEHOE: This is a document, Mr. President
14 and Your Honours, to the European Monitoring Mission,
15 and I might add, Mr. President, that this document that
16 I'm reading, Prosecutor's Exhibit 622, was provided to
17 the Office of the Prosecutor by the Croatian side of
18 the Ministry of Defence of the Federation.
19 "European Community Monitoring Mission.
20 Deliver personally to Mr. Jean-Pierre Thebault.
21 "Respected Sir:
22 "I beg you to make some more efforts and use
23 your influence in persuading the army of
24 Bosnia-Herzegovina 3rd Corps Command in realising the
25 agreements made.
1 "It is well-known by now that the high level
2 representatives of Croat and Muslim people have
3 militarily and politically agreed on implementing the
4 Vance-Owen Plan in Provinces 8, 9, and 10.
5 "The postponement of these activities have
6 as a consequence people's suffering, destroying of
7 goods and property as well as increasing the problems
8 of how to organise normal life. Please make the 3rd
9 Corps Command aware of the consequences and
10 responsibilities that they will have to take for
11 obstructing the realisation of what we agreed upon.
12 "I suggest that you initiate a joint meeting
13 that would help us define the possible problems in
15 Now, General, that particular English
16 version, in substance, is exactly the same as the B/C/S
17 version that was signed by Drago Dujmovic that you say
18 you neither approved nor would have sent had you known
19 about it; isn't that right?
20 A. Yes, and I assume and believe that Drago
21 Dujmovic, after having written and signed the document,
22 handed it in to be translated to the translator and
23 that it arrived in front of me in this version, but,
24 unfortunately, I was not able to read it, because I
25 would always either sign the document or put my
1 initials to it at the top if I read it and had given it
2 thought because the original Croatian version was
3 written by Drago Dujmovic and signed by him as well.
4 Q. Let's turn to the next document, General.
5 While you are looking at this document, General, I
6 would ask you also to take a look at Exhibit 621.
7 JUDGE JORDA: General Blaskic, I come back to
8 what you've just said. Wouldn't it have been simpler
9 for you to write in your own mother tongue and wouldn't
10 it have been simpler for Mr. Thebault to have your
11 letter translated by his own translators? We'll ask
12 Mr. Thebault, if it's necessary to ask him that
13 question, but I'm sure he had interpreters and
14 translators working for him, because you found yourself
15 in a very paradoxical situation, it seems.
16 On the 26th of May of 1993, you end up
17 signing a document which is written in a language you
18 do not understand, a letter written by an assistant
19 whose official functions you do not recognise, an
20 assistant about whom you tell us that he's been writing
21 letters for a month, he's been writing things that he
22 shouldn't have written. Isn't it a very complicated
23 system to put in place? Wouldn't it have been simpler
24 for you to write in B/C/S and Mr. Thebault would have
25 managed to have the letter translated; what do you
1 think about this?
2 A. Of course, it would have been better had I
3 been in a position to read the Croatian version of the
4 document and then to send a document of that kind to
5 Mr. Thebault. But, Mr. President, Mr. Dujmovic had the
6 authorisation to compile documents and to draft them,
7 but it was his duty to bring me the document for me to
8 look at because he never had the authorisation to sign
9 it and he violated the regulations and signed documents
10 and then handed them over --
11 JUDGE JORDA: I understand very well. But on
12 May 26th, when you signed this document, and knowing
13 what Mr. Dujmovic is capable of doing, it seems to me
14 that if there is one document about which I would have
15 felt that I shouldn't sign it because it was written in
16 English, it is this one. If there is one document you
17 should not have signed, it is this one. However, you
18 chose to sign it.
19 A. I know, but those were the circumstances.
20 The situation was such that I endeavoured to send new
21 documents to Mr. Thebault as soon as possible. As far
22 as I know, he had one or perhaps two translators. But
23 in any event, Drago Dujmovic here I believe sent the
24 document to be translated and I had the English version
25 before me to sign it, and I would have authorised the
1 document, document number 456/112, and I would not have
2 authorised it.
3 MR. KEHOE:
4 Q. Can I understand you, General? You had
5 456/112 in B/C/S before you that was signed by Drago
6 Dujmovic and you also had Exhibit 622 in English which
7 you signed; is that right?
8 A. I did not say that, and that is not correct.
9 That is not what I said. I said, Your Honours, that
10 Drago Dujmovic took and wrote the document, document
11 456/112, and he made an administrative error by signing
12 it. He was not in a position to sign it. I believe
13 that he then handed the document to an assistant to
14 have it translated, and the document -- I got the
15 English version of the document to sign, which I then
16 signed, without having in mind and before me the
17 contents of the document, that is to say, 456/112,
18 written and signed by Drago Dujmovic.
19 Q. Is it your testimony, General, that Exhibit
20 622, the document that you signed in English to
21 Ambassador Thebault, you signed without knowing the
22 contents of this document? Is that your testimony?
23 JUDGE JORDA: Think hard about this
24 particular question, Mr. Blaskic. Did you sign this
25 document without knowing what it was actually saying?
1 A. I was certainly not informed of all the
2 details and completely informed of the contents of the
3 document, document 456/112. Perhaps I just had a rough
4 idea in one or two sentences of what it was about
5 because I didn't sign only one document, I had many
6 documents, perhaps twenty documents, to sign.
7 JUDGE JORDA: We were talking about document
8 622, if I'm not mistaken.
9 MR. KEHOE: That's correct, Mr. President.
10 The letter to Ambassador Thebault.
11 JUDGE JORDA: You signed this document
12 written in English when, in fact, you did not
13 understand what the document was saying; is that really
14 what happened? You have to tell us what happened.
15 A. Mr. President, I believe that I received
16 rough information as to the contents of the letter but
17 that I was not informed fully of the contents in full
18 as I would have been able to do if I had been able to
19 read it out in full.
20 JUDGE JORDA: So you knew, generally
21 speaking, what the document was talking about?
22 A. Generally, globally speaking, yes. Globally
23 speaking, generally.
24 JUDGE JORDA: So globally speaking, you knew
25 that you were sending this letter to Mr. Jean-Pierre
1 Thebault and you were talking about implementation of
2 the Vance-Owen Plan; right?
3 A. It is possible that that's what was said to
4 me, and I assume that I was told it was about the
5 military aspect of the Vance-Owen Plan or a meeting,
6 the need for a meeting with the 3rd Corps. But all the
7 details contained in document 456/112, I was not
8 informed because I personally did not have a chance to
9 read it.
10 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Kehoe, you may continue --
11 oh, sorry. Of course. Judge Rodrigues has a question
13 This is a very crucial point because we don't
14 understand very well what you chose to sign, what you
15 chose not to sign, what you did understand and what you
16 did not understand. It is very complicated for us.
17 You have to help the Judges. When do you have
18 authority, when do you authorise a document, when do
19 you not? I want to see through this.
20 Judge Rodrigues will help us.
21 JUDGE RODRIGUES: I hope I can help you,
22 Mr. President, by asking that question.
23 General Blaskic, if we look at this document,
24 we see it is written in English. Even if I don't
25 understand Croatian, if I read a document written in
1 Croatian and if I see the words "Vance-Owen,"
2 "Provinces 8, 9, and 10," if I have a phobia, a
3 political phobia -- forgive me for using this term -- I
4 at once understand that the words "Vance-Owen" and
5 "Provinces 8, 9, and 10" have to be taken out of the
6 document. Am I right in thinking in that particular
7 way? You don't understand English, but I think that
8 names do not change, whether the text be written in
9 Croatian or in English.
10 A. Yes, I understand, Your Honour, and I was
11 informed, linked to the Vance-Owen Plan, that we had
12 military aspects to perform, demobilisation, and that
13 we had to have talks with regard to its implementation,
14 if the plan were to be signed by the Muslim and Bosniak
15 representatives, and in that sense, therefore, if there
16 were questions related to the military aspects of the
17 plan, I have no phobia about it and wouldn't run from
19 JUDGE RODRIGUES: All right. General, just a
20 second. Now, if you look at this document that is
21 written in English -- have a look at it now -- by
22 looking at the document, you are able to read the words
23 "Vance-Owen Plan" and you are also able to read the
24 words "Provinces No. 8, 9, and 10." So I think it is
25 the same whether you are reading a text written in
1 English or a text written in Croatian. It is possible
2 to identify these words "Vance-Owen Plan" and
3 "Provinces No. 8, 9, and 10" whether the text be in
4 Croatian or in English.
5 A. Yes, it is possible to identify those plans,
6 to recognise the words "Vance-Owen Plan" and "Provinces
7 8, 9, and 10."
8 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you very much,
10 JUDGE JORDA: Judge Shahabuddeen has a
11 question for you, General Blaskic.
12 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: General, I want to read
13 the first paragraph of this letter and to ask you
14 whether this was something that you might have said.
15 The first paragraph says:
16 "I beg you to make some more efforts and use
17 your influence in persuading the ABiH 3rd Corps Command
18 in realising the agreements made."
19 Was that something you might have said?
20 A. That is something that I might have said
21 because there was an agreement as to the joint command
22 of the armed forces of Bosnia-Herzegovina and, of
23 course, that is something that I would have said. I'm
24 thinking of the military agreement reached.
25 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Now I turn to the second
1 paragraph. It reads:
2 "It is well-known by now that high-level
3 representatives of Croat and Muslim people have
4 militarily and politically agreed on implementing the
5 Vance-Owen Plan in Provinces No. 8, 9, and 10."
6 Was that something that you might have said?
7 A. No.
8 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: You didn't know about
9 the Vance-Owen Plan?
10 A. I did know about the Vance-Owen Plan, but I
11 also knew that the Muslim leadership signed the plan
12 under certain conditions which they posed linked to
13 maps, as far as I recall. There were some conditions
14 that they posed. So that there was not a full
15 agreement reached on the implementation of the
16 Vance-Owen Plan.
17 Had I written "Provinces 8, 9, and 10," then
18 I believe that I would have written down 1, 3, and 5 as
19 well, that is to say, the remaining provinces where,
20 according to that Vance-Owen Plan, military units of
21 the HVO were subordinate to the BH army units, where
22 that was allowed, and in that sense, with this military
23 portion of the Vance-Owen -- treatment of the
24 Vance-Owen Plan, I would not agree, if I were at all to
25 refer to the Vance-Owen Plan in the military respect,
1 but I would not write about political matters in this
2 part of the document.
3 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: So the error which you
4 say existed in this paragraph was in its reference to a
5 political agreement. I'm trying to grasp exactly what
6 you consider to be the error in this paragraph.
7 A. Your Honour, I consider to be an error the
8 fact that a military command refers, as it does in this
9 document, to an agreement, a political agreement
10 reached between the Muslims and the representatives of
11 the Croatian people and in the military part as well
12 because I do not know that an agreement of this kind
13 had been reached as it is stated in this assertion
14 here, speaking about the fact that the organisation of
15 Provinces 8, 9, and 10 were concerned. What happened
16 to Provinces 1, 3, and 5? And, generally speaking, I
17 consider that political agreements need not be raised
18 in documents of this kind, and in the document, I would
19 refer to an agreement between the chief of the HVO main
20 staff and the commander of the command of the army of
22 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: So you have two problems
23 with that paragraph. One, its reference to a political
24 agreement and, two, its non-reference to certain other
1 A. Yes, although looking at it in general terms,
2 no other provinces are mentioned except for provinces
3 8, 9, and 10.
4 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: If you were writing it
5 in Croatian, you would have specified some other
6 provinces as well?
7 A. Had I written this document, I would have
8 referred to the military agreement between the chief of
9 the main staff of the HVO and the commander of the
10 staff of the BH army linked to the formation of joint
11 armed forces.
12 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Do you have any
13 objection to the remainder of the text?
14 A. I do, linked to the observation which
15 stipulates, that is to say, the next paragraph, that a
16 lateness in activities, along the implementation of
17 this plan and it probably means the Vance-Owen Plan,
18 that people are suffering and everything else that is
19 quoted there.
20 I'd once again like to refer to the agreement
21 on a cease-fire, which was signed on the 20th of April
22 and 28th of April between the commanders of the two
23 armies, General Petkovic and General Halilovic, and I
24 would seek for the firm implementation of those
25 agreements on a cease-fire, on the formation of a joint
1 command and joint armed forces.
2 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: So what you're saying is
3 that the reference to people suffering should have been
4 linked to the non-implementation of certain military
5 agreements as well. Do I follow you?
6 A. Yes. Yes, you do.
7 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Now, do you recognise
8 that the Vance-Owen Plan was itself inherently
9 political in nature?
10 A. Well, I personally find it difficult to
11 delineate and differentiate between how far it was
12 political and how far it was of a state nature, because
13 it implied the internal structure of the state of
14 Bosnia-Herzegovina and having it divided up into
15 provinces, as I understood it. This implied
16 demilitarisation for those provinces and it also
17 implied something linked to principles of freedom of
18 movement and some other matters as well. But generally
19 it was a rather expansive plan which included elements
20 of politics, and state structure, and military matters
21 as well, but I don't know the details well enough. I
22 do know the ones linked to military matters, as far as
23 I have been informed.
24 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Did you, in your
25 position, find it possible to separate the military
1 aspects of the Vance-Owen Plan from the political
2 aspects or would you have said that they both
3 constituted an integrated and inseparable package?
4 A. I think that the political aspect must have
5 come before all the other aspects, all the other
6 agreements and everything else for it to be
7 implemented, all the more so as there were many plans
8 that were signed.
9 With the Washington agreements, we saw that
10 once politics had agreed, just as with the Dayton
11 Accords, that the army then went before politics and
12 very quickly implemented its part of the obligations
14 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: I follow you, General.
15 Thank you.
16 MR. KEHOE:
17 Q. Well, General, would you agree with me that
18 this letter to Ambassador Thebault is, as the President
19 Judge Jorda discussed, to a very senior Ambassador of
20 the European Monitoring Mission? Would you agree with
22 A. This letter, 622, was addressed to
23 Mr. Thebault, and I'm sure that it was dispatched to
24 Ambassador Thebault.
25 Q. That's not my question. My question is:
1 This letter to Ambassador Thebault is an extremely
2 important letter; isn't it?
3 A. Well, it is a letter, we could say an
4 important letter, but as I've already said, had I had
5 an insight into it and had I been in a situation to do
6 so, I would have changed certain portions of the
8 I quote the meeting with the 3rd Corps
9 commander, not only from Ambassador Thebault but from
10 Colonel Duncan as well, and the liaison officer in
11 BritBat, and everybody I was able to come into contact
12 with. I wanted to have a meeting with the 3rd Corps
13 commander and to try to decide upon the implementation
14 of the cease-fire. Unfortunately, these demands did
15 not bear fruit and I did not have occasion to meet him
16 for a long time.
17 Q. Now, Ambassador Thebault was the senior
18 European representative in Central Bosnia as part of
19 the European Monitoring Mission, wasn't he?
20 A. Ambassador Thebault was head of the European
21 Monitoring Mission, and he had a large number of
22 meetings with me, as the head of the European Monitors
23 for the Zenica region. I don't know exactly which area
24 the monitoring mission covered but I know he was based
25 in Zenica.
1 Q. Is it your testimony, General, that you
2 signed a letter to this rather powerful person without
3 fully knowing the contents of that letter? Is that
4 your testimony?
5 A. I think that I have already said that I
6 signed this document, and I also described the
7 circumstances under which I signed it. Unfortunately,
8 I didn't read all the details of this document, but I
9 believe that I was familiar with the overall content of
10 the document but not the details.
11 Q. So, General, when you told Mr. Nobilo and
12 this Court back on the 12th of April that if you had
13 known of this document, "I never would have approved it
14 or approve it being sent to this address," when you
15 told this Court that in response to Mr. Nobilo's
16 questions, that wasn't true, was it?
17 A. It is true, because even now I would leave
18 out this paragraph that I have already mentioned in
19 answer to a question by His Honour Judge Shahabuddeen.
20 I would have left out that paragraph and have changed
21 the contents if I had been in a position to authorise
23 Q. General, isn't it true that the only reason,
24 only reason that you're acknowledging your
25 participation in this document at all is because we
1 showed you your signature on an English copy of that
2 document? Isn't that so?
3 A. No, that is not the only reason, what you are
4 saying. I have already said that there were quite a
5 number of initiatives on my part, and that I had asked
6 for a meeting with Mr. Thebault so that he could
7 mediate a meeting with the 3rd Corps for me. But I
8 underline once again that my associate was not in a
9 position to sign it. If he had shown is to me and if I
10 was able to read it in the way it is written, I
11 certainly would not have approved it. I would have
12 changed its content. I would have changed the content
13 of this document for certain.
14 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Did you ask or instruct
15 your associate to draft a letter for you or did he
16 initiate the drafting himself on his own and then bring
17 the letter to you?
18 A. I don't remember exactly, Your Honour, how
19 this letter came about but it is possible that I asked
20 the document to be drafted and for him to draft it, but
21 it is quite certain that I never approved his signing
22 that document because, as I have already said, his
23 position did not authorise him to do so, but the
24 circumstances under which the document was drafted I'm
25 not sure of now.
1 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: You didn't think that he
2 should sign it, you thought that you should sign it.
3 Why was that? Was it because of your assessment of the
4 importance of the letter?
5 A. The rule was -- there were rules which we
6 drafted and prepared in the command of the Operative
7 Zone regarding official correspondence. All documents
8 bearing registration number 01 were signed by me. Only
9 exceptionally, when I was absent, could this be done by
10 my deputy, the chief of staff, Franjo Nakic but, again,
11 the documents would wait for me, for me to review them
12 to see what he signed on my behalf.
13 So there were regulations, internal
14 regulations in the command of the Operative Zone,
15 because this document bears the code 01 and this is my
17 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: What was the reason
18 behind the rule that documents bearing serial number 01
19 had to be signed by you? Was it because of the
20 importance of that category of documents?
21 A. Your Honour, one of the reasons -- that was
22 one of the reasons, but we took over the earlier rules
23 headed "Official Correspondence and Office Procedures"
24 from the former JNA, and we adjusted those regulations
25 to our own conditions, so that we said that all
1 documents carrying the serial number 01 would be mine
2 and only I would be authorised to sign them, and only
3 exceptionally, when I was absent and the document was
4 urgent, someone else could sign it who was authorised
5 to do so on my behalf.
6 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Who would decide on
7 whether a particular document would bear the serial
8 number 01?
9 A. Well, mostly outgoing documents reflecting
10 the positions of the command would be given that serial
11 number. In the general affairs department, there was a
12 list or instructions, and an officer in that general
13 affairs department would mark documents that were
14 within my sphere of responsibility in this way. The
15 head of operations would categorise those documents,
16 the documents that were for me, those for the chief of
17 staff, for logistics, for information and so on.
18 JUDGE JORDA: Before a short break, Judge
19 Rodrigues has something to ask.
20 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you. General, I
21 think I heard you say that you didn't sign the
22 documents because you were not available. There was a
23 reason why the other person signed a document instead
24 of you. Did I understand you well?
25 A. Yes, Your Honour. There were times when the
1 document was extremely urgent and when an authorised
2 person would sign the document instead of me, but these
3 were exceptions.
4 JUDGE RODRIGUES: But, General Blaskic, as
5 you can see, the document 456 and document 622 have the
6 same date and the same hour. Why were you there to
7 sign document 622 and you were not there to sign
8 document 456, because they bear the same date, the 26th
9 of May, 1993, at 1800?
10 A. Your Honour, I believe, and I can check
11 during the break, that I was in the command on the 26th
12 of May, but I can check from my chronology, at this
13 hour. So I could have signed this document too, but
14 unfortunately, my assistant, Mr. Drago Dujmovic, who
15 under no circumstances held such a rank, such a command
16 position to be able to sign a document instead of me,
17 he made this error and signed the document without
18 showing it to me, giving me a chance to read it,
19 authorise it, and sign it.
20 Then I assume he gave this document to be
21 translated, and then a pile of documents reached me,
22 including this one which I signed, without looking
23 through it in detail.
24 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Yes, General, but you told
25 Judge Shahabuddeen that you had at least two problems
1 with document 622. Perhaps you're going to have a
2 third problem. How could you sign a document if you
3 were not in the command building?
4 Maybe it's time for the break.
5 JUDGE JORDA: Listen, I think there were many
6 questions. You can see that the Judges are perplexed
7 regarding this problem of signature and your
9 I think that the interpreters will appreciate
10 a quarter of an hour's break, after which we will work
11 for another quarter of an hour or 20 minutes.
12 --- Recess taken at 4.59 p.m.
13 --- On resuming at 5.15 p.m.
14 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated. The hearing
15 is resumed.
16 MR. KEHOE: May I proceed, Mr. President,
17 Your Honours?
18 If we can turn our attention, General and
19 Mr. Registrar, to Exhibit 623? I don't know if the
20 witness has got a copy of that. Oh, there it is.
21 Thank you, Mr. Usher. Mr. Usher, if the witness can
22 also be given Prosecution Exhibit 621 as well?
23 As with the prior document, Mr. President,
24 Your Honours, both 622 and 623 are documents that were
25 provided to the Office of the Prosecutor by the
1 Federation, Ministry of Defence, and this came from the
2 Croatian side of the Federation, Ministry of Defence.
3 Q. Now, do you have 623 before you, General? I
4 realise that it's in English, but do you have that
5 document before you?
6 A. I have document 623 in English before me,
7 yes, Your Honours.
8 Q. Now, I would like you to compare the
9 reference numbers on both 621 and 623, and I think you
10 will agree with me that the reference numbers are the
11 same, 01-5-690/93; is that right?
12 A. Yes, the numbers are the same and, obviously,
13 document 623 was a translation of document 621.
14 Q. General, the signature on the bottom of 623
15 is yours, isn't it?
16 A. Yes, the signature is mine on the English
17 version of this document.
18 Q. Now, this again is a document that was signed
19 in the B/C/S version by Mr. Dujmovic; isn't that
21 A. That is correct, and I checked in my
22 chronology of events and I could answer the question
23 posed to me by the Judge a moment ago.
24 Mr. Dujmovic did sign the document although,
25 as I've already said, he had no authorisation to do so,
1 but I was at the command at the time, I had a meeting
2 with Colonel Duncan on that particular day, and I asked
3 him, that Colonel Duncan should mediate for a meeting
4 with the commander of the 3rd Corps of the BH army to
5 discuss the implementation of the military agreement
6 that had been reached. Therefore, I asked Colonel
7 Duncan and Mr. Thebault and the other officials to act
8 as go-betweens and to help me organise a meeting with
9 the 3rd Corps commander to avoid further conflict and
10 to effect the implementation of the military agreement
11 and agreements signed by our superiors.
12 Q. Now, this document, 623, is a document that's
13 sent to another important international organisation,
14 the ICRC or the International Committee of the Red
15 Cross; isn't that right?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. You noted during the course of your
18 testimony, on 621, that you would not have approved
19 paragraph 1 of that document; is that correct?
20 A. Yes, the style in which the first paragraph
21 was written, I would have changed the style of the
22 first paragraph, and we'll refer to the military
23 agreement signed between my own chief of the main staff
24 and the commander of the staff of the BH army, so that
25 portion which relates to the approach, and I would
1 change that in paragraph 1 had I been given the
2 document to look through and had I signed it.
3 Q. Well, General, you had a chance to look at
4 this document, did you not, both in the B/C/S, before
5 you signed it, and English, didn't you, or did someone
6 force you to sign this in English before you had a
7 chance to read it in B/C/S?
8 A. Well, nobody forced me to sign it and I was
9 basically told what the document was about and I
10 believe that the head of the operative section, I think
11 he must have told me roughly what the document was
12 about, if it was a request for a meeting or a request
13 for the freeing of prisoners. But I repeat, that is to
14 say, that had Mr. Drago Dujmovic acted correctly once
15 he had written the document, he would come to me, have
16 handed the document for me to scrutinise and sign, and
17 I would then have entered my corrections into paragraph
18 1 and I would have signed the rest and the document
19 would then be far clearer to me.
20 Q. Well, General, as Judge Rodrigues asked you
21 with the prior document, this document, in paragraph 1,
22 references the Vance-Owen Peace Plan and Provinces 8,
23 9, and 10, and you can see that even in the English
24 version, can't you?
25 A. Yes, you can see that, and those parts are
1 mentioned in the English version.
2 Q. General, the Vance-Owen Peace Plan and the
3 provinces involved in the Vance-Owen Peace Plan, as
4 Judge Rodrigues noted, is a very political matter,
5 isn't it?
6 A. It is a state, political, and military
7 question because each one of those provinces included
8 many problems which had to be solved within the
9 frameworks of the structure of the state within
10 Bosnia-Herzegovina, including the tasks of the army, as
11 indeed each plan provides for.
12 Q. General, the political problems in those
13 provinces were very significant to you, weren't they?
14 A. Political problems were significant, but I
15 did not work on them and I don't consider myself to be
16 responsible for those political issues. I was
17 interested in the military aspects of the Vance-Owen
18 Plan, and if the plan was signed by all parties, what
19 my responsibilities were as a military commander, what
20 I had to do. That is how I viewed the plan, the
21 military aspects of the plan. The political aspects of
22 the plan were aspects that the political
23 representatives were in charge of, those representing
24 the Croatian and Bosniak people, and they were
25 responsible to those very people, as indeed the
1 implementation of any peace plan.
2 Q. Then it is clear, General, that during this
3 period of time the Bosnian Croats wanted the Vance-Owen
4 Plan to come into effect; isn't that so?
5 A. Well, the political representatives of the
6 Croatian people in Bosnia-Herzegovina signed, as far as
7 I know, all the plans offered by the international
8 mediators. From the first plan -- I might be wrong,
9 was it the Lisbon plan or some other plan? -- right up
10 until this latest Dayton Plan, Dayton Agreement, so
11 they signed absolutely all the plans that existed which
12 the International Community offered, as far as I know,
13 from official information received.
14 Q. Let's take a look at this plan that you're
15 referencing in these documents.
16 Mr. Registrar, if we could have Prosecutor's
17 Exhibit 20, the first map on the top of Prosecutor's
18 Exhibit 20. And just take a look at the provinces that
19 we're talking about here, 8, 9, and 10. Prosecutor's
20 20. It is a small map, yes. We can just put it on the
21 ELMO. That's it. We're talking about the top map, if
22 we can, Mr. Usher, which is first iteration of the
23 Vance-Owen Peace Plan, 2 January, 1993.
24 If we can blow that a little closer, please?
25 If we can get those numbers? That's good. That's
1 good. Thank you very much.
2 Now, General, as we can see from this
3 particular document, the areas of interest to you,
4 Provinces 8, 9, and 10, were the areas that basically
5 touched upon the Central Bosnian Operative Zone; isn't
6 that right?
7 A. I can't see very well yet.
8 Q. How about that --
9 A. Let me look at the plan, please. That's
10 better. Now I can see it better.
11 Would you repeat the question, please?
12 Q. Certainly. Certainly. The areas that you
13 are mentioning in these letters, both to the
14 International Red Cross and to Ambassador Thebault, are
15 the Vance-Owen Provinces 8, 9, and 10, and those are of
16 concern to you because those three provinces impact in
17 some way on the Central Bosnian Operative Zone; isn't
18 that right?
19 A. Well, it is not only them that impact on the
20 Central Bosnia Operative Zone. I testified that the
21 greatest problem for me in the Vance-Owen Plan was and
22 what I feared was demobilisation and disarmament of an
23 army which had not been organised, structured, or
24 armed. However, the Vance-Owen Plan, as I understood
25 it, and that can be seen from this particular map,
1 includes Province 7, Sarajevo, where Kiseljak, the
2 municipality which I come from, and Kresevo and other
3 areas, they were to be within the composition of
4 Sarajevo, as well as a large portion of the 3rd
5 operative group of Central Bosnia, that is to say,
6 Zepce, Maglaj, Usora, which should have been under the
7 command of the 3rd Corps.
8 So this Vance-Owen Plan, looking at it
9 territorially speaking, does not only incorporate the
10 Central Bosnia zone but the 3rd Corps of the BH army as
11 well as the areas under the 4th Corps of the BH army
12 and the 1st Corps of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina and
13 the 2nd Corps of the BH army, that is, there were a
14 large number of units in 1993 there, about 200.000
15 soldiers from the BH army in the area, the area that
16 we're discussing at the moment.
17 MR. KEHOE: Just for reference purposes, Your
18 Honours, the two blue areas 8, and 9, and 3 were areas
19 designated to go to the Croats. For the purposes of
20 this documentation, the prior testimony from Mr. Donia
21 province 9 was due to go to the Muslims.
22 So 3, 8, and 10 were due to go to the Croats,
23 and 9, for the purposes of this discussion, were
24 supposed to go to the Muslims.
25 A. We also had province 7, Sarajevo, with the
1 district including Kiseljak and Kresevo within the
2 composition of the Sarajevo district, as far as I
3 know. So province 7 as well.
4 Q. Now, let us look at the letter, 623, that you
5 signed to the International Red Cross. It is in
6 English, so I'll read you a paragraph that you do not
7 agree with. Again, this is a request for additional
8 engagement and reads as follows:
9 "The high level representatives of Croat and
10 Muslim people have officially agreed, both militarily
11 and politically, to implement the Vance-Owen Plan in
12 provinces numbered 8, 9, and 10, which is the
13 imperative for arranging a living more secure and
14 normal than it is now."
15 The balance of this letter talks about the
16 freeing of Croats from various gaols in Zenica.
17 Now, General, again, is it your testimony
18 that this letter that is sent to the International
19 Committee of the Red Cross in Zenica and was signed by
20 you was neither read by you nor were you fully aware of
21 its contents? Is that your testimony?
22 A. I claim that I was not informed with the
23 original part of the document, of document 621, and
24 that I had not read it, that I did not have occasion to
25 read it, and it was signed by my clerk, Mr. Drago
2 The request sent to the Red Cross, I support
3 it and stand behind it, except for the style and
4 approach and the description of the agreements relating
5 to the Vance-Owen Plan and other matters.
6 JUDGE JORDA: How can you talk about style,
7 General Blaskic? You say, "I stand behind it except in
8 terms of style." How can you judge style if you don't
9 understand the document? It's a very subtle comment
10 that you just made. In order to be able to judge style
11 you must be able to read the letter.
12 A. Well, I say that I didn't have occasion to
13 read the letter and that I did not agree with the
14 details from the first portion of the letter, first
15 part of the letter. Globally speaking, I agree with
16 the part relating to the request made to the
17 International Red Cross to mediate in these matters.
18 I claim that my assistant -- had my assistant
19 done what he should have done, he would have brought me
20 the entire letter for me to look at and sign. I don't
21 know why he didn't, because on the 26th of May I was at
22 the headquarters.
23 JUDGE JORDA: This very subtle distinction
24 you have just introduced between what's military and
25 what's political, it is a very subtle one, I have to
1 underscore that, but that is something you have said,
2 is it something you think the people you sent these
3 letters to had this distinction in mind?
4 When you sent this to Mr. Thebault, does he
5 answer you, "Well, General Blaskic, we see you as a
6 military man of the team and not as the politician of
7 the team, so stick to military matters and do not
8 meddle with politics"?
9 I had the impression that you were seen as a
10 man capable of writing such a letter. Nobody ever told
11 you -- well, I'm rephrasing my question.
12 Has anybody told you one day, "Well,
13 Mr. Blaskic, for us you are the military man. You're
14 not a politician. So don't bother about this. Why are
15 you meddling with this?" Have you ever heard such a
17 A. Mr. President, Mr. Thebault endeavoured, at
18 our meetings and during our talks, and asked of me for
19 my observations on political problems and civilian
20 matters, and sometimes he would present his views. He
21 never said outright, "I do not ask you to expound on
22 political problems for me."
23 But I told him at meetings, whenever
24 questions of this kind arose, I said, "Mr. Thebault,
25 those are questions for the civilian representatives
1 and the political representatives, and you can discuss
2 those matters with them. I cannot discuss those
3 questions because I do not consider myself competent."
4 If anybody asked me for my personal opinion,
5 perhaps there were discussions of this kind where we
6 shared our personal opinions, but I told him that I
7 myself was not competent to discuss political or
8 civilian matters, and I said this not only to him.
9 JUDGE JORDA: All right. We know what was
10 happening between yourself and your assistant. We know
11 what was happening between yourself and the people you
12 sent these letters to. Now, let's see what was
13 happening between you and your superiors.
14 Did they one day tell you, "Don't write
15 this. Don't ever write that document again because
16 this is not what you're supposed to do."
17 Did General Petkovic say one day -- well, I'm
18 sure he understood English. Did he one day tell you,
19 "Well, this is not admissible what you've just written
20 in this paragraph"?
21 A. When I was appointed command of the Operative
22 Zone I was told that, "Politics is not your business.
23 Leave politics to the politicians. It is your duty to
24 deal with military problems and matters." That is how
25 I understood my duties and that is what
1 General Petkovic led me to conclude through the orders
2 he issued.
3 JUDGE JORDA: Well, as far as the Vance-Owen
4 Plan is concerned, it was a very subtle distinction.
5 Any questions from the other Judges? No.
6 Very well then. Is this document something
7 that you're finished with, Mr. Kehoe?
8 MR. KEHOE: Just one last question on these
10 Q. General, the bottom line is that you signed
11 two letters to two international agencies where you
12 discussed a very political matter, the Vance-Owen Plan;
13 isn't that correct?
14 A. It is true that I signed the two
15 translations, that is to say, the two versions in
16 English, and that I did not sign two versions in the
17 Croatian language because my assistant did not submit
18 the document to me for scrutiny. It is true that I
19 would have changed things in both letters had I been
20 able to do that. I think that it was an administrative
21 error on the part of the man who signed the documents
22 on my behalf.
23 MR. KEHOE: I have no further questions on
24 these documents, Mr. President and Your Honours.
25 Q. Thank you, General.
1 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you to the interpreters.
2 They've had a very hard day. Thank you to the court
3 reporters as well.
4 We'll meet again tomorrow morning at 10.00.
5 The hearing is adjourned.
6 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned
7 at 5.35 p.m., to be reconvened on
8 Wednesday, the 5th day of May, 1999
9 at 10.00 a.m.