Tribunal Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Page 21132

1 Thursday, 6th May, 1999

2 (Open session)

3 --- Upon commencing at 3.40 p.m.

4 JUDGE JORDA: You can all be seated. We

5 shall resume our hearing, and I will have the witness

6 brought in.

7 Good afternoon to the interpreters, good

8 afternoon to the court reporters. Can the interpreters

9 hear me? Yes. Very well. Good afternoon to the

10 Defence counsel, to counsel for the Prosecution.

11 (The accused/witness entered court)

12 JUDGE JORDA: And good afternoon to the

13 accused, who is presently a witness in this case. I am

14 informing the public of this.

15 This is now the cross-examination of Colonel

16 Blaskic, now General Blaskic, and right now, the

17 accused is a witness, and he now benefits from all the

18 rights and duties of a witness testifying under oath.

19 Mr. Kehoe is about to resume his cross-examination.

20 Mr. Kehoe, you have the floor.

21 MR. KEHOE: Yes, thank you, Mr. President.

22 Good afternoon, Mr. President, Your Honours, Counsel.

23 Good afternoon, General. If you could just

24 take a second to gather your things, and we will

25 commence when you are ready.

Page 21133

1 THE WITNESS: Good afternoon. I am ready.

2 WITNESS: TIHOMIR BLASKIC (Resumed)

3 Cross-examined by Mr. Kehoe:

4 Q. Now, General, we are going to shift gears

5 now. General, we are going to talk about your period

6 of time in Kiseljak and thereafter, beginning in April

7 of 1992, and some of the events that took place in the

8 Kiseljak municipality commencing in early April of

9 1992.

10 What I would like you to look at is just

11 review some documents quickly, and we will move through

12 these documents quickly because we are most interested

13 in the dates of these events because we have spoken

14 about the contents previously, and with the permission

15 of the usher, I would ask for Exhibits 406/5, 406/6,

16 and Exhibit 583 be given to the defendant.

17 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Registrar, have you been

18 given the whole of the documents that will be needed

19 today?

20 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, Mr. President.

21 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, because I would like us to

22 move forward as quickly as possible. You know, it is

23 always time-consuming to deal with these documents, so

24 we will try to be as quick as possible.

25 MR. KEHOE:

Page 21134

1 Q. Now, General, just going through the

2 chronology of the events in early April of 1992, you

3 testified that you left Zagreb to go to Kiseljak on the

4 6th of April, and as we can see from Prosecutor's

5 Exhibit 406/5, Croatia recognised Bosnia-Herzegovina on

6 the 7th of April and also granted dual citizenship to

7 Croatian citizens or Bosnian Croat citizens. Now, you

8 also testified previously that on the 8th of April, the

9 next day, the Croatian Defence Council or the HVO was

10 established.

11 Now, when you met Josip Boro for the first

12 time, he told you that the municipal assembly had

13 ceased to exist; is that right?

14 A. When I met the president of the municipal

15 assembly for the first time, he said that the municipal

16 assembly had, at a previous meeting, transferred all

17 its competencies to the municipal crisis staff composed

18 of Croatian and Muslim members and that for the time

19 being the municipal assembly was not functioning. But

20 it existed and it did not cease to exist. It ceased to

21 function because of the war dangers and threats that

22 existed in the region or the decisions by parliamentary

23 representatives in the Kiseljak municipality. But I

24 wasn't present at that particular meeting. I think it

25 occurred at the beginning of April 1992.

Page 21135

1 Q. Would the date 9 April, 1992 refresh your

2 recollection as the date when the last session of the

3 municipal assembly of Kiseljak took place?

4 A. At that time, I had been taken prisoner by

5 the Yugoslav army, but at all events, I don't question

6 the date at all. I know that it was the beginning of

7 April 1992. I don't think it was the last meeting of

8 the municipal assembly of Kiseljak but that it was a

9 meeting at which the municipal crisis staff was

10 nominated, composed of Croatian and Muslim

11 representatives.

12 Q. So if a prior witness testified that the last

13 session of the municipal assembly was, in fact, on the

14 9th of April, 1992, you would have no reason to

15 question that; is that correct?

16 A. I would have reason in saying that the

17 last -- using the term "the last session" because in

18 August 1992, I attended a meeting of the municipal

19 assembly of Kiseljak, and that is why I would have

20 reason to do this because it wasn't the last. Perhaps

21 it was the last in April. There, I agree. Because in

22 April, I don't know that there were any more meetings

23 after that. But, Your Honours, I was not a member of

24 the municipal assembly of Kiseljak at all. I was never

25 a member of the crisis staff of Kiseljak municipality,

Page 21136

1 and I did not take part in decision-making of the

2 crisis staff in Kiseljak.

3 MR. KEHOE: Without belabouring the point,

4 Mr. President, the actual testimony concerning the date

5 of the 9th of April of 1992 is on page 8086, lines 2

6 through 4.

7 Q. Now, General, let us move to the next

8 document, and this is 406/6, a document that we

9 discussed before, which is the next day, the 10th of

10 April, 1992, and this is the document where President

11 Tudjman orders General Bobetko to go to the southern

12 front as the commander of all units on the southern

13 front. You will recall this document, I'm sure,

14 General, and I'd like you to take a look at this

15 document in conjunction with the next exhibit,

16 Mr. Registrar, Prosecutor's Exhibit 583.

17 A. If I may just make a comment with regard to

18 document 406/6 (sic), a very brief comment, Your

19 Honours?

20 In point 2 of the document, of document

21 406/6, it says that dual citizenship is being offered

22 to the members of the Croatian people and it proposes

23 that this question be regulated by a bilateral

24 agreement probably between the two presidents, that is

25 to say, Mr. Alija Izetbegovic and the president of the

Page 21137

1 Republic of Croatia, Dr. Franjo Tudjman, and I

2 understand point 2 -- perhaps I have understood that

3 point incorrectly, but I understand it is a subject to

4 be discussed and agreed upon.

5 Q. Just for the record, General, I think counsel

6 will agree, that is Prosecutor's Exhibit -- the

7 document you were referring to on dual citizenship is,

8 in fact, Prosecutor's Exhibit 406/5 and not 406/6. I

9 say that not to correct your testimony but simply to

10 make the record as accurate as possible.

11 So, General, let us look at the next exhibit,

12 which is Prosecutor's Exhibit 583, which is also a

13 document dated the 10th of April, the same day that

14 Tudjman orders Bobetko to the southern front, and this

15 particular order, we have discussed before, is the

16 order from President Mate Boban where he orders, at the

17 bottom of the page: "Croatian Defence Council. This

18 body is the only legal one, and only this name is

19 official." Go to the bottom, Mr. Usher, if you can

20 pull that all of the way up?

21 "The HVO has its Main Staff. The HVO has

22 Municipal Staffs in all the municipalities of the

23 (Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna). Starting today,

24 10 April 1992 the HVO Main Staff will communicate only

25 with the municipal staffs of the HVO.

Page 21138

1 "All other military formations in the

2 territory of the (Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna)

3 are either illegal or hostile. All other names will be

4 removed from official use."

5 So, General, two days after the establishment

6 of the HVO, Tudjman has deployed General Bobetko of the

7 Croatian army to the southern front and President Boban

8 has ordered that all military formations other than the

9 HVO are illegal in the territory of the Croatian

10 Community of Herceg-Bosna.

11 A. Your Honours, in connection with these

12 documents, I can say that on the 8th of April, 10th of

13 April, I was captive. I think that I was at the Tuzla

14 garrison at the time. I had been taken prisoner by the

15 Yugoslav army.

16 But my comment is that the HVO was set up on

17 the 8th of April, and this organisational order, that

18 is to say, document 583, issued by Mr. Boban, quite

19 obviously did not -- the situation on the terrain did

20 not correspond to what was said here because there were

21 armed groups there and all that was when the Yugoslav

22 People's Army in Bosnia-Herzegovina was the only legal

23 armed force which had undertaken combat operations

24 against the Croatian and Muslim people in the region.

25 Q. Well, General, when you met Josip Boro in

Page 21139

1 Kiseljak on 14 April, 1992, did he inform you about

2 what had been happening concerning the establishment of

3 the HVO and the dispensing of the municipal assembly

4 and the movement of Bobetko to the southern front and

5 the outlawing of the TO in the Croatian Community of

6 Herceg-Bosna? Did he inform you of all those things

7 during your first meeting?

8 A. I have already talked about what he told me.

9 I would have to consult my notes again if I were to

10 repeat in detail what we discussed. He didn't tell me

11 anything about General Bobetko. I remember him telling

12 me about the formation of the municipal crisis staff

13 and he informed me that the municipal crisis staff was

14 at the head of life in the community and the

15 municipality, he said that the JNA garrison was still

16 located in Kiseljak, he also told me that there was an

17 army, that is to say, the Yugoslav People's Army, in

18 Kiseljak, and we also discussed preparations for the

19 defence of the municipality of Kiseljak.

20 As to the other details, if you want to know

21 in detail everything he told me, I would have to

22 consult my chronology and notes.

23 Q. Well, General, you can consult your notes any

24 time that you feel the need to do so. I will ask you

25 with regard to your conversation with Boro, did he tell

Page 21140

1 you that in the municipal assembly that the Croats did

2 not have an absolute majority?

3 A. Well, about any kind of absolute majority, as

4 far as I remember, because I didn't talk to him, I'm

5 only relying on my memory, I've already told this

6 Honourable Trial Chamber that I have no great

7 experience at the work of civilian authorities in my

8 previous life, neither did I have contact with the

9 civilian authorities. I only did as a citizen, and I

10 was an active military man.

11 Now, how many representatives in the

12 municipal parliament there were, he did not say and I

13 did not discuss the matter with him, but I do remember

14 that he told me that the municipal crisis staff was

15 composed of the Croatian-Muslim representatives

16 appointed by the municipal assembly of Kiseljak and

17 that there was a certain proportion to representation,

18 a certain proportion of Croatians and Muslim Bosniaks

19 in that crisis staff.

20 Q. You know that a majority is above 50 per

21 cent, isn't it? Fifty-one per cent is a majority,

22 isn't it?

23 A. Well, I know that a majority is above 51 per

24 cent, yes.

25 Q. The Bosnian Croats in the municipal assembly

Page 21141

1 did not have 51 per cent of the seats prior to the

2 dispensing of the assembly; isn't that so?

3 A. Perhaps it is. If you have some facts and

4 figures I can comment on them, but in 1975, the

5 academic year of 1975, I left the municipality of

6 Kiseljak.

7 And I had no previous contacts. I didn't

8 even know Josip Boro. I didn't have any personal

9 contacts with him. I was in Belgrade doing my

10 education and then I served in Slovenia. But if you

11 have facts on this, then quite possibly that is so.

12 Q. Well, General, did you attend any of the

13 crisis staff meetings?

14 A. I attended several meetings when I was

15 ordered to do so. That is to say, when they asked me

16 to attend. I did not have the right of decision-making

17 at those meetings, I just had the possibility of

18 informing the crisis staff, municipal crisis staff, on

19 those questions that they were interested in. As I was

20 not a member of the crisis staff, I was not able to

21 take part in any decision-making on whatever matters.

22 Q. Now, within the crisis staff in the meetings

23 that you attended, General, it's true that there were

24 nine Croat votes and six Muslim votes; isn't that

25 correct?

Page 21142

1 A. Possibly that was the ratio, yes. I was

2 usually with Mr. Bakir Alispahic at the meetings, but

3 at all events I do know that there were a little more

4 Croats compared to the Bosniak Muslims, and I know at

5 least two of the Bosniak Muslims who attended those

6 meetings.

7 Q. So based on your experience at those

8 meetings, General, any vote between the Croats and the

9 Muslims along ethnic lines would be won by the Croats;

10 isn't that correct?

11 A. In the municipality of Kiseljak that is

12 correct. If a decision was taken by voting and if nine

13 Croats were in favour and six Bosniak Muslims did not,

14 then the decision was passed on the basis of that

15 result.

16 Q. Now, let's move ahead with what is happening

17 in the Kiseljak municipality after you arrive on the

18 14th or after your discussion with Josip Boro on the

19 14th of April of 1992. I ask you to take a look at

20 Prosecutor's Exhibit 314 first.

21 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President, I do believe there

22 is a French copy available, as well as an English.

23 Thank you, Mr. Registrar.

24 JUDGE JORDA: I have a French version before

25 me, Mr. Kehoe. Thank you.

Page 21143

1 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President.

2 Q. This particular document is dated the 23rd of

3 April of 1992 and, General, that is the day, is it not,

4 where you were appointed commander of the armed

5 formations of the municipal crisis staff of Kiseljak,

6 isn't it?

7 Take your time, General. Gather yourself and

8 take your time.

9 A. Just one moment, please.

10 Q. You tell me when you're ready, General.

11 A. Would you repeat the question, please?

12 Q. Certainly. Certainly. I'm focusing on the

13 date of this document, on the date of Prosecutor's

14 Exhibit 314.

15 Prosecutor's Exhibit 314 takes place on the

16 23rd of April 1992, and that is the date you are

17 appointed commander of the armed formations by the

18 municipal crisis staff of Kiseljak; is that right?

19 A. As far as I know, I was appointed on the 23rd

20 of April, together with Mr. Bakir Alispahic, by the

21 municipal crisis staff of Kiseljak, although, that

22 meeting was interrupted because there was an unexpected

23 withdraw by the Yugoslav People's Army from the

24 Kiseljak garrison. The command of the garrison, his

25 name was Colonel Kosovac, that was his surname, I don't

Page 21144

1 know his name, sent a demand to the president of the

2 municipal crisis staff that he should urgently come to

3 the barracks to meet him, and the meeting was

4 interrupted and I did not take part in the continuation

5 of the meeting. But the date is the correct date and I

6 was appointed together with Mr. Bakir Alispahic.

7 JUDGE JORDA: Generally speaking, General,

8 would you try to answer more quickly and more

9 precisely? I seem to understand that Mr. Kehoe is

10 asking you whether from the 23rd of April onwards you

11 took the head of the military crisis staff that was

12 functioning in Kiseljak.

13 A. Yes, I did, Mr. President, but not only me

14 but I, together with this other man.

15 MR. KEHOE: Thank you.

16 Q. General, nine days after you first meet Josip

17 Boro, you are in charge of the military formations for

18 the HVO; isn't that right?

19 A. I became commander of the armed forces, and I

20 already said together with Mr. Bakir Alispahic at a

21 meeting of the municipal crisis staff which was

22 attended both by Croatian and Muslim members of the

23 municipal crisis staff.

24 Q. Now, General, on that same day, if you look

25 at Exhibit 314, we have a decision by that crisis staff

Page 21145

1 which notes that:

2 "The HVO headquarters for the area of the

3 Kiseljak municipality shall be formed."

4 Now, this particular event takes place --

5 this setup of the HVO headquarters in Kiseljak, in

6 conjunction with your appointment, takes place

7 approximately two weeks or a little bit more than two

8 weeks after the HVO was formed, it being formed on the

9 8th of April, 1992; isn't that right?

10 A. The Croatian Defence Council was founded on

11 the 8th of April, 1992. This Exhibit 314, it says in

12 the preamble, "On the basis of Article 7 of the

13 Kiseljak municipality Statute," and it was a decision

14 of the municipal crisis staff, of which I was not a

15 member. It is true that this was about 14 or 15 days

16 after the HVO was formed.

17 Q. These particular HVO headquarters were formed

18 during this time frame all over the Croatian Community

19 of Herceg-Bosna, weren't they?

20 A. No. As far as I can remember, that depended

21 from one municipality to the next. It was formed over

22 a certain period of time, but that depended on the

23 situation in each municipality because the times were

24 such it wasn't formed throughout the Croatian Community

25 of Herceg-Bosna on this date. In some places earlier

Page 21146

1 on, in others later.

2 Q. But it all took place around the same period

3 of time, didn't it?

4 A. No. I know for certain that, for instance,

5 in Novi Travnik, the headquarters was formed much

6 later. This may have been in May already. But in any

7 event, it was roughly at the same time. It depended

8 from one municipality to the next. As I've already

9 said, the municipalities were left to their own

10 resources, and these municipal crisis staffs were

11 formed at the municipal assemblies, and it depended on

12 conditions. In places where the front lines were with

13 the Serbs and the Yugoslav People's Army, they were

14 formed earlier on. Where there was no contact,

15 somewhat later.

16 Q. General, your appointment on the 23rd of

17 April, as well as the setting up of the HVO

18 headquarters in Kiseljak, were the first steps by the

19 HVO to take over the entire municipality; isn't that

20 correct?

21 A. My appointment I understood to be on behalf

22 of the municipal assembly of Kiseljak, that is, by all

23 members of the Kiseljak parliament. The appointment,

24 on the basis of that decision, was carried out by the

25 municipal crisis staff, and I focused on my military

Page 21147

1 assignments. We see here that it was a decision of the

2 municipal crisis staff, taken probably in accordance

3 with the rules of procedure of the crisis staff.

4 Q. Well, were the Muslims happy with your

5 selection?

6 A. I know that no one who attended that meeting

7 had any opposition to my nomination. I listened to

8 them. I didn't know them in person earlier on, hardly

9 any one of them, and not one of them expressed any kind

10 of a negative reaction or opposition to the proposal

11 for my nomination.

12 What is more, in April I met with Muslim

13 priests, and judging by their reactions at those

14 meetings, I never noticed that any one of them might

15 have been dissatisfied with my election.

16 Q. Well, let's talk about some negative

17 reactions to some of your actions, and we'll start

18 first on the 24th of April, with Prosecutor's Exhibit

19 316.

20 Now, General, this is a document received in

21 evidence, which is an order that takes place the next

22 day, 24th of April, 1992, and a commission was set up

23 to compile an inventory list of the weapons in the

24 Kiseljak barracks. Do you recall this particular order

25 and your participation in the compilation of this

Page 21148

1 inventory?

2 A. Certainly. This was just one day after entry

3 into the barracks. Already the next day, the municipal

4 crisis staff took the decision that an inventory be

5 made of the whole Kiseljak barracks and I was a member

6 of that commission.

7 Q. How many people on this commission were

8 Croats and how many Muslims?

9 A. Three are Croats and two are Bosniak Muslim

10 members of this commission.

11 Q. But the plan was that these weapons were

12 going to be distributed to both the Muslims and the

13 Croats; isn't that so?

14 A. We are talking about this document now, and

15 this is a document on a list of the inventory, not of

16 weapons. There was another document issued also by the

17 municipal crisis staff, and again the commission

18 consisted of both Croats and Muslims, regarding the

19 distribution of weapons.

20 As for this document, we made an inventory of

21 everything, including weapons, that were to be found in

22 the barracks but all the other equipment as well. So

23 let me just mention an example. In one building, we

24 would take note of the number of beds, the number of

25 switches, the number of lamps. Therefore, a total

Page 21149

1 inventory of immovable property that was in the

2 barracks was something that we had to make a list of.

3 Q. Well, General, let's focus on the weapons.

4 There was supposed to be a distribution of the weapons

5 by ethnic lines, isn't that right, along ethnic lines?

6 A. I wouldn't quite agree that it was to be

7 along ethnic lines but, in any event, the weapons were

8 distributed on the basis of a decision of the crisis

9 staff, according to which two members of the HVO and

10 members of the TO or the Patriotic League, but the HVO

11 also had some Bosniak Muslims, some Serbs, and some

12 Croats. In those days, there were also some members

13 who were Romanies or Gypsies. And also within

14 Territorial Defence ranks there were some Croats and

15 also in the Patriotic League. Therefore, the weapons

16 were to be distributed on the basis of the decision of

17 the municipal crisis staff. This commission also

18 covered or checked the warehouse where the weapons were

19 stored.

20 Q. Well, General, shortly after this particular

21 inventory was to be made, didn't the Muslims protest

22 publicly in downtown Kiseljak because the distribution

23 wasn't made?

24 A. I don't know what the motives behind the

25 protest were. In those days, there were very many

Page 21150

1 incidents. Already on the 26th of April, the

2 neighbouring municipality of Busovaca was shelled by

3 the air force of the Yugoslav People's Army; then there

4 were also problems within Kiseljak municipality of

5 armed groups of criminals. Perhaps you could be more

6 specific regarding the time too?

7 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Kehoe, I am trying all the

8 time to speed up things a little. If you have the

9 feeling that there was a public protest against the

10 distribution of weapons, I think it would be better if

11 you were to say, "I submit that there was a public

12 protest," and give the argument. This way you say,

13 "Was there a public protest?" and then the witness

14 says, "I'm not sure what the reasons were," and so on.

15 And then eventually you will come to your argument. I

16 think that we should try to be a little more efficient,

17 if possible. If you, the Prosecution, know and are

18 sure that there was a public protest against the

19 distribution of arms, you should say so, and the

20 witness will tell you if he doesn't agree. This way,

21 we'll never get through it.

22 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President. If I could

23 go into a private session just briefly for this portion

24 of the transcript, we can get through this quickly.

25 JUDGE JORDA: For the benefit of the public

Page 21151

1 gallery, I should like to say that in order to protect

2 testimony provided during the proceedings in closed

3 session, we have to go into a private session for a

4 short time to review that testimony. So let's go into

5 private session.

6 (Private session)

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7 (redacted)

8 (redacted)

9 (Open session)

10 JUDGE JORDA: Are we in public session?

11 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, Mr. President.

12 JUDGE JORDA: We're in public session now,

13 Mr. Prosecutor. Please continue.

14 MR. KEHOE:

15 Q. Now, General, let us talk about -- you noted

16 just previously some of the protests by the Bosnian

17 Muslims, and I'd like you to look at Prosecutor's

18 Exhibit 315.

19 A. If we're not going to talk about the

20 distribution of weapons, Mr. President, may I just say

21 that the weapons were distributed according to a

22 decision of the municipal crisis staff, but the problem

23 was in having lists to see who had got the weapons.

24 The municipal crisis staff, as far as I know, never

25 received a list about how many weapons had been

Page 21158

1 distributed and to who among the Territorial Defence

2 and that was where the problem lay, in these lists.

3 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, General, for these

4 details. That's fine. We are now looking at

5 Prosecution Exhibit 315.

6 MR. KEHOE:

7 Q. Now, in Prosecution's Exhibit 315, the

8 municipal crisis staff transferred the Kiseljak

9 barracks, which was the former JNA barracks, to the

10 HVO, didn't they?

11 A. Yes. That's what it says in this decision.

12 The municipal crisis staff, probably at its meeting,

13 made a decision of this kind.

14 Q. You moved your office in there; isn't that

15 right?

16 A. I had an office in the barracks in Kiseljak

17 and I shared it with Mr. Bakir Alispahic.

18 Q. We will talk about Bakir Alispahic in a bit,

19 sir, but this particular barracks was now controlled

20 totally by the HVO; isn't that right?

21 A. No. The HVO and the Patriotic League. The

22 Patriotic League had its office at the barracks. It

23 had its logistics man. It used part of the facilities

24 in the Dalmatia Hotel. So the HVO and the Patriotic

25 League used the same barracks. The members Patriotic

Page 21159

1 League were, for the most part, Bosniak Muslims.

2 Q. Is it your testimony that Bakir Alispahic was

3 a member of the Patriotic League? Is that your

4 testimony?

5 A. At that time, that is how he -- what he said,

6 and he worked on their behalf. At that time, I

7 cooperated with him and considered him to be a member

8 of the Patriotic League because that is how he

9 introduced himself.

10 I don't know the overall organisational set

11 up of the Patriotic League, and I don't know who

12 determined and in what way the -- appointed the

13 commanders of the Patriotic League and what the

14 personal relationships were within the Patriotic

15 League.

16 Q. Is it likewise your testimony, General, that

17 when the Patriotic League merged into the Territorial

18 Defence that Bakir Alispahic also joined the

19 Territorial Defence?

20 A. I don't know who he merged with, but I

21 maintain that I cooperated throughout, while I was in

22 Kiseljak, with Mr. Bakir Alispahic, that I visited

23 members of the Patriotic League whenever they asked me

24 to do so. I had meetings with them as well. I also

25 claim that at the Dalmatia Hotel in Kiseljak they had

Page 21160

1 an equal number of rooms at their disposal as did the

2 members of the HVO, that is to say, one floor was used

3 by them. I think it was the third floor of the hotel,

4 but that's not an important point. Another floor was

5 used by the HVO. The rest were Bosniak Muslims,

6 refugees from Rakovica.

7 Q. You have noted several times to this Trial

8 Chamber, in response to questions by my learned

9 colleague, about your cooperation with Bakir

10 Alispahic. Bakir Alispahic was never the commander of

11 the Territorial Defence, was he?

12 A. I know Bakir Alispahic from the Patriotic

13 League. I never claimed that he was the commander of

14 the Territorial Defence. I didn't consider him to be

15 the commander of the Territorial Defence, but I did

16 consider him to be, and that is how he induced himself,

17 as commander of the Patriotic League, the military

18 formation set up by the Party of Democratic Action,

19 which was a majority Bosniak Muslim party in Kiseljak

20 at that time.

21 Q. General, Bakir Alispahic was working with you

22 in conjunction with a man by the name of Suad Curic who

23 is also known as Sok; isn't that right?

24 A. Yes. The two of them worked together. There

25 was another man, another commander. He was from

Page 21161

1 Tulica. His surname was Barjaktarevic. I'm not quite

2 sure what his name was. I think it was Esref. And, of

3 course, the lower down commanders from the Patriotic

4 League, a number of them who cooperated and worked

5 together.

6 Q. Now, in mid April of 1992, President

7 Izetbegovic ordered that all military formations merge

8 into the Territorial Defence, didn't he?

9 A. Possibly an order of that kind was issued. I

10 personally did not have it in my hands, but quite

11 possibly an order of that kind had been issued.

12 Q. That merger included merging the Patriotic

13 League into the Territorial Defence, didn't it?

14 A. I would like you to show me a document to see

15 what it states and what is maintained in the document.

16 If you say that is so, probably it is, but I never saw

17 a document to that effect, so I don't know.

18 Q. Well, we can read you some testimony in that

19 regard, General, but let me ask you some additional

20 questions in this area.

21 After President Izetbegovic ordered that the

22 Patriotic League merge into the Territorial Defence,

23 several Muslims, including Bakir Alispahic and Suad

24 Curic, chose not to join the Territorial Defence and,

25 rather, decided to cooperate with you and the HVO;

Page 21162

1 isn't that right?

2 A. Well, it wasn't like that, because the

3 Patriotic League cooperated throughout. I would have

4 to look at my notes in greater detail, but I had

5 meetings with those personnel and with that unit, and

6 we had cooperation throughout the time that I was in

7 Kiseljak. So it wasn't only Bakir Alispahic who

8 remained, their soldiers remained as well, as did their

9 obligations and everything we did. So not only Bakir

10 and Suad Curic, but there was Barjaktarevic and the

11 other commanders of the Patriotic League as well.

12 Q. When this occurred, General, while you were

13 in Kiseljak, the commander of the Territorial Defence

14 was not Bakir Alispahic but Sead Sinanbasic; isn't that

15 right?

16 A. Sead Sinanbasic was a member of the municipal

17 crisis staff, as far as I recall, by virtue of his

18 function, and he was the commander of the municipal

19 staff for Territorial Defence of Kiseljak. That is

20 what he was since the time of the elections.

21 Tomo Trutina was the crisis staff and

22 commander of the Croatian Defence Council within the

23 municipal crisis staff in Kiseljak.

24 Q. So to be very clear, General, there was a

25 group that Sok and Bakir Alispahic were in that was

Page 21163

1 cooperating with you and the HVO, and there was the

2 Territorial Defence, whose commander was Sead

3 Sinanbasic; isn't that right? Two separate groups.

4 A. Well, there were many groups of armed

5 individuals. I don't know what period you have in

6 mind, but what you say is correct. Let me add that

7 there was also HOS, there was the Vrazja Divizija,

8 there were members of the Black Swans, there were other

9 criminal groups in Kiseljak, the active component of

10 MUP, the reserve component of MUP. Each village had

11 its armed formation, armed group, which did not always

12 reflect the ethnic composition. It was just an armed

13 group of that particular village.

14 So as I say, there were a number of armed

15 groups, not only the Territorial Defence on the one

16 hand and the HVO and the Patriotic League on the

17 other. And there was a lot of fluctuation in manpower,

18 so that one day someone would be a member of the

19 Territorial Defence and the next day he would come and

20 be a member of the HVO. So those were the beginnings

21 of all this setup, at the earliest period.

22 Q. General, you said there were other criminal

23 groups in Kiseljak. Sead Sinanbasic and the

24 Territorial Defence were not one of those criminal

25 groups, were they?

Page 21164

1 A. My comment was concerned with the armed

2 groups. Of course, Sead Sinanbasic and the Territorial

3 Defence was not a criminal group in the sense of crime,

4 perpetrators of crime. I spoke about armed groups or

5 armed formations, armed villagers in the municipality

6 of Kiseljak.

7 Q. Now, let us go back to the JNA barracks,

8 which is now the HVO barracks. Did Sead Sinanbasic

9 have an office with you in the Kiseljak barracks?

10 A. He did not have it together with me, but he

11 did together with Tomo Trutina, as far as I remember.

12 That was in the building of the former municipal

13 secretariat for national defence. That is what the

14 plaque on the wall outside still said.

15 If you have a model, I can point out the

16 building to you, because Sead Sinanbasic was the

17 counterpart of Tomo Trutina and he was on the same

18 level, and I was a subordinate in the HVO to Tomo

19 Trutina.

20 Q. That was the building you evicted Sead

21 Sinanbasic from on 14th of May, 1992, after the TO was

22 outlawed; isn't that right?

23 A. Are you talking about the 14th of May?

24 Q. I'm talking about the 14th of May of 1992.

25 The HVO evicted Sead Sinanbasic and the Territorial

Page 21165

1 Defence from the building that you just described, the

2 secretariat for national defence; isn't that right?

3 A. That is absolutely incorrect. He returned

4 them to that building, that is to say, he asked them to

5 go back to the building. So that is not correct.

6 On that particular night, the 14th of May,

7 perhaps it was between 20.00 or 21.00, they returned,

8 and perhaps I will say something wrong there, but I

9 think it was building 3 and the TO section there.

10 I know the event you're talking about, but I

11 think it would take a long time for me to explain, but

12 if you want to I shall.

13 Q. Explain it to the Judges. I mean, if you're

14 talking about cooperating with the Territorial Defence,

15 what was --

16 JUDGE JORDA: Just a second. You can ask for

17 precisions when you put precise questions to the

18 witness. We are losing time which is bad for the

19 Defence, for the Prosecution, and for the justice in

20 general. We the Judges are here to ensure that the

21 trial can go forward in conditions of total equity so

22 that everybody can speak up.

23 So, yes, it's nice to go into explanations

24 and details but you have, Mr. Kehoe, to put precise

25 questions to the witness.

Page 21166

1 You said on May 14th the HVO evicted

2 Mr. Sinanbasic. Do you have arguments to support

3 this? Can you expose them to the witness? This will

4 allow the witness to answer you in a precise way and to

5 ensure that all his rights are protected.

6 Right now we're going to take a break of 20

7 minutes.

8 --- Recess taken at 4.45 p.m.

9 --- On resuming at 5.06 p.m.

10 JUDGE JORDA: The hearing is resumed. Please

11 be seated. I suggest we work for about 30 minutes.

12 Mr. Prosecutor?

13 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President. If I could

14 just go into private session briefly for some closed

15 session testimony?

16 (Private session)

17 (redacted)

18 (redacted)

19 (redacted)

20 (redacted)

21 (redacted)

22 (redacted)

23 (redacted)

24 (redacted)

25 (redacted)

Page 21167

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Page 21170

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3 (redacted)

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5 (redacted)

6 (redacted)

7 (redacted)

8 (redacted)

9 (redacted)

10 (redacted)

11 (redacted)

12 (redacted)

13 (redacted)

14 (redacted)

15 (redacted)

16 (redacted)

17 (redacted)

18 (redacted)

19 (redacted)

20 (Open session)

21 JUDGE JORDA: What is your question,

22 Mr. Prosecutor?

23 MR. KEHOE:

24 Q. This group, General, with Bakir Alispahic and

25 Suad Curic, is the group that had an office and

Page 21171

1 facilities in the Kiseljak barracks; isn't that

2 correct?

3 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, in the

4 facilities of the Kiseljak barracks, after HVO units

5 entered, there were also units of the Patriotic League

6 while I was commander in Kiseljak of the armed

7 formations in Kiseljak. There was not a group -- allow

8 me to explain. It is true that Suad Curic was there

9 and that the main commander was Bakir Alispahic, a

10 commander of a military formation; Esref Barjaktarevic,

11 a native of Tulica; and at all times there were about

12 30 mobile armed soldiers accommodated in the Dalmatia

13 Hotel in Kiseljak, together with an equal number of HVO

14 soldiers who were accommodated in a similar fashion, as

15 I have already explained.

16 And if I may comment on what the Prosecutor

17 has just read out? I was not a member of the Patriotic

18 League, and it is possible that Mr. Izetbegovic did

19 address an order to the Patriotic League, or I don't

20 know whom, but I have just remembered that Suad Curic

21 told me on one occasion that he had problems with the

22 Kiseljak SDA which wanted to abolish them.

23 Regarding apartments, as mention was made

24 here of apartments, Hajro Hajdarevic, we called him

25 "Hajro," he was the commander of a TO detachment, he

Page 21172

1 also used an apartment, Bakir was given an apartment by

2 the municipal crisis staff, a commander from the

3 Kiseljak garrison, Mr. Mustafa Polutak, retained his

4 apartment even after the Yugoslav army had left

5 Kiseljak. And I cooperated with the Territorial

6 Defence. I had quite a number of meetings. Let me

7 mention one held on the 5th of June at the command post

8 called Mokrine -- there is no relief for me to show

9 you -- I met with a commander of the Territorial

10 Defence detachment and we jointly prepared an operation

11 to lift the blockade of Sarajevo, and he informed me of

12 all the assignments linked to that operation.

13 I also toured virtually all the villages of

14 Bosnian Muslims in Kiseljak municipality and I

15 personally never had any problems nor did I notice any

16 negative reactions nor was I received negatively by

17 Bosniak Muslims.

18 It is true that the Patriotic League is a

19 broader organisation. It held its meeting in February

20 1992 in Travnik, in the village of Mehuric, and at that

21 meeting it was noted that it numbered between 60.000

22 and 70.000 men organised in 109 municipalities of

23 Bosnia-Herzegovina with nine regional headquarters

24 throughout the territory of the Republic of

25 Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Page 21173

1 Q. Well, General, the Muslim entity that you --

2 Bosnian Muslim villages that you toured you toured with

3 Bakir Alispahic not Sead Sinanbasic; isn't that right?

4 A. I did not have such a position as to be able

5 to tour the villages with Sead Sinanbasic. Tomislav

6 Trutina may have toured the villages with him, but I

7 toured the villages alone and also with Bakir. I also

8 toured them with the head of the European Monitoring

9 Mission, Mr. Fleming, and when he expressed surprise

10 after the January conflict, I told him, Mr. Fleming,

11 "You name the village. I will go with you. I don't

12 need any security or protection." And wherever he

13 wanted to go, I went with him myself, Mr. Fleming, his

14 driver, to the villages that Mr. Fleming claimed were

15 witnessing problems between Bosniak Muslims and

16 Croats. On that occasion, I even visited Bosniak

17 houses together with Mr. Fleming.

18 MR. KEHOE: General, let me show you a

19 document.

20 Unfortunately, Mr. President, there is not a

21 French copy of this yet. I will read just a portion of

22 this document at this juncture.

23 THE REGISTRAR: It is Exhibit 631 and

24 631A for the English version, Prosecutor's Exhibit.

25 MR. KEHOE:

Page 21174

1 Q. General, this is a document that is signed by

2 Sead Sinanbasic on the 15th of May, 1992, noting at the

3 top, "Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina,

4 Kiseljak Municipal Assembly, Territorial Defence Main

5 Staff."

6 We will read it through, General, because

7 there is not a French copy at this point.

8 The subject matter is "Information regarding

9 the situation in Kiseljak Municipal Assembly," and it

10 goes to the Republican Staff of the Bosnia-Herzegovina

11 Territorial Defence.

12 "1. On 14 May 1992, the Croatian Defence

13 Council command banned the work of the command of the

14 Kiseljak municipal (Territorial Defence) on the

15 premises of the former JNA Hall and threatened to ban

16 its work completely because only the HVO command

17 existed on the territory of the municipality. The

18 order was issued by Tihomir Blaskic, the commander of

19 the Kiseljak Municipal Headquarters.

20 "2. On the same day, TO units were denied

21 passage and the possibility of operating against the

22 enemy from our territory. Movement of TO units was

23 also banned in these regions, without a special

24 approval from the Main Headquarters.

25 "3. TO units from neighbouring

Page 21175

1 municipalities have been denied passage through our

2 municipality, unless specifically approved by the Main

3 Headquarters.

4 "4. At a meeting of the Crisis Staff held

5 on 14 May 1992 at 2100 hours it was concluded that the

6 HVO Main Headquarters had not issued approval for

7 planned combat operations with the purpose of assisting

8 Sarajevo because the Crisis Staff of the Kiseljak

9 municipality, apparently, does not have such

10 competence.

11 "5. At the meeting of the Crisis Staff it

12 was concluded that the Kiseljak Municipal Assembly

13 should be convened immediately."

14 Now, while you are examining that document,

15 General, I would like you to also look at Prosecutor's

16 502 which is your order of 11 May, 1992, outlawing the

17 TO in the Kiseljak area.

18 A. I can answer if I may comment on this order.

19 Q. You can comment on both of them when we look

20 at these in conjunction, General.

21 502, of course, is the order that we

22 discussed at length previously, of 11 May, 1992, that

23 was issued pursuant to an order by General Roso, where

24 in point 1 you order that:

25 "1. The only legal military units in

Page 21176

1 Kiseljak municipality are HVO units.

2 And in number 5:

3 "5. By this order all orders of the

4 Territorial Defence are rendered invalid and the TO in

5 this area considered illegal."

6 So, General, this Territorial Defence unit

7 which you maintain you were cooperating with, you

8 outlaw on the 11th of May and then you ban from

9 operating and working in the former JNA army hall on

10 the 14th of May, 1992; isn't that right?

11 A. No. Until the 14th of May, 1992, in

12 Bosnia-Herzegovina there was the Yugoslav People's Army

13 in existence, and also the component of the Territorial

14 Defence of the Yugoslav People's Army. My father,

15 personally, could have been mobilised to report to the

16 municipality of Ilijas.

17 From the municipality of Kiseljak, workers in

18 the maintenance facility in Hadzici could also have

19 been called up for mobilisation because that was their

20 wartime assignment, which meant that they had to

21 respond to this call-up and to go empty-handed under

22 the control of the Serbs.

23 From the municipality of Ilidza, workers who

24 also had wartime assignments, for instance, the factory

25 Bitumenka and others, also could have been called up by

Page 21177

1 the former JNA requesting them to report to their

2 wartime duties.

3 I did write this order, Exhibit number 502,

4 on the 11th of May, and it says:

5 "On the basis of orders received from the

6 main staff."

7 But under item 5, it doesn't say that the

8 Territorial Defence of the Republic of

9 Bosnia-Herzegovina is illegal. Unfortunately, it

10 doesn't even say the Socialist Republic of

11 Bosnia-Herzegovina. But Exhibit 601, used by Mr. Sead

12 Sinanbasic, in the heading, it says the "Socialist

13 Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina," the one that used to

14 be part of the Socialist Federal Republic of

15 Yugoslavia.

16 Regarding the incident of the 14th of May

17 about which Mr. Sead Sinanbasic informs the republican

18 staff of the Territorial Defence, in Exhibit 631, there

19 are quite a number of incorrectnesses (sic).

20 On the 14th of May, 1992, in Kiseljak, a

21 number of incidents had occurred, that is, within the

22 municipality of Kiseljak. Thus, for instance, there

23 was a clash in the local community of Brestovsko among

24 Croats themselves, two groups of Croats, and the

25 dispute was over the sale of cigarettes.

Page 21178

1 Then there was a clash between the Croatian

2 villages of Donji Palez and Donje Podastinje. The

3 reason was a barricade and the profit to be gained at

4 that roadblock.

5 There was an incident between the Territorial

6 Defence and the civilian Croatian driver in the village

7 of Hercezi. His name was Mirko Tuka. Mr. Tucinovic

8 opened fire at him. Mr. Tucinovic being a member of

9 the Territorial Defence, after carrying out control of

10 the vehicle and the driver, and after the driver was

11 told to move away from the checkpoint.

12 The gravest incident that occurred in the

13 town of Kiseljak itself where all members who were

14 armed rallied, they were all from Kiseljak, and the

15 reason was movement of forces of the Territorial

16 Defence towards the city centre of Kiseljak from the

17 direction of Visoko. There were two bus loads and one

18 truck full of soldiers coming from the direction of

19 Travnik and Busovaca. There were two buses from the

20 direction of Bilalovac, a local community within

21 Kiseljak municipality. There were movements of some

22 troops from the direction of Fojnica.

23 MR. KEHOE: This is simply not responsive to

24 the question, Mr. President. I don't mean to cut him

25 off the point at this point, but it is not responsive

Page 21179

1 to the issue.

2 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, with your

3 permission, all this happened on the 14th of May, and

4 the witness wanted to explain why he limited the

5 movement of these armed units around town, because

6 there was the threat of an outright conflict. This is

7 at the core of this information by Sead Sinanbasic.

8 The introduction may have been too lengthy but this is

9 very relevant.

10 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Mr. Nobilo, for your

11 explanations, but I have already asked the witness to

12 try and be concise in his answers in his own interests,

13 because we wish this trial to end by the deadline we

14 have set.

15 If we're talking about a document that the

16 Judges have regarding an incident, I understand that

17 your client has to describe the context and I didn't

18 interrupt him, but it does seem to me that your client

19 should try to be more concise in his answers. It is in

20 his interest, after all, because, after all, you will

21 not have enough time at some point in time if he dwells

22 excessively on one date.

23 So I would like him to be precise and concise

24 regarding the incident referred to in this document and

25 the order that you issued.

Page 21180

1 A. Mr. President, I wanted to make an

2 introduction to point 2, but let me go back to point

3 1.

4 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, but the introduction, in

5 any language, is meant to introduce something in order

6 to proceed very quickly to the body, to the main

7 issue. So I think there is no need for this semantic

8 clarification. So please try and answer now.

9 A. Mr. President, I will try to be as brief as

10 possible.

11 Except from Fojnica, also from the direction

12 of Kresevo, there were movements by the members of the

13 Territorial Defence towards the town of Kiseljak. This

14 resulted in general confusion in Kiseljak, fear and

15 apprehension amongst citizens.

16 At 18.00, I was in the local community of

17 Brestovsko. I wasn't in Kiseljak at all. I was called

18 by Mr. Tomislav Trutina, who told me that there were

19 problems between the HVO and the TO, and that allegedly

20 all these movements along the directions that I have

21 mentioned had the aim of lifting the blockade of the

22 town of Sarajevo. No operation was carried out for

23 deblocking Sarajevo through Kobiljaca, Rakovica, and

24 Ilidza where allegedly efforts were being made to lift

25 the blockade of Sarajevo.

Page 21181

1 When I reached Kiseljak, the town of

2 Kiseljak, I immediately went towards the building where

3 a part of the TO staff was housed, that is, not the

4 building where Sead Sinanbasic and the TO were housed.

5 That building was the JNA home in Kiseljak, and they

6 were in the restaurant of the JNA hall. I don't know

7 on the basis of whose decision.

8 On the way to that building there were a

9 large number of armed soldiers and civilians and these

10 forces were confronting the building. On the one side

11 were the TO and on the other HVO troops.

12 Tomislav reacted more sharply than me, the

13 commander of the municipal HVO staff of Kiseljak,

14 saying, "Why are you causing problems again? Can't you

15 see all the things that have happened?" There were

16 some other rather sharp words spoken by Tomislav. I

17 kept quiet.

18 I saw Mr. Mustafa Polutak and Mr. Cilas. I

19 didn't see Sead Sinanbasic there in person, but I know

20 that (redacted) was not there because at that time

21 they were holding a meeting of the crisis staff in the

22 municipality of Kiseljak discussing these same

23 problems.

24 I went back and I learned, in the meantime,

25 that the commander of the village of Parezevici, his

Page 21182

1 nickname was Kopo, was wounded in front of this

2 building where a part of the TO staff were housed.

3 That is the JNA hall it was called, in Kiseljak.

4 Then I said to Mr. Cilas, "It would be best

5 if, in view of the overall situation, that is, one of

6 the village commanders has already been wounded and

7 night has already fallen, it would be best that you go

8 back and that we all stay in one building until the

9 crisis staff makes a decision."

10 Sometime about 20.00 hours, Cilas came and

11 from then on the municipal staff of the TO of Kislejak

12 used the premises when you enter the TO building to the

13 left-hand side and the HVO use the premises on the

14 right-hand side.

15 In the ground floor, there was the municipal

16 communications centre of the municipal crisis staff. I

17 don't exactly know how the premises were distributed on

18 the floors above. This incident was also discussed by

19 the municipal crisis staff.

20 As for this order, I was not the commander of

21 the municipal staff of the HVO Kiseljak. That position

22 was held by Tomislav Trutina.

23 As regards point 2, in this document 631, I

24 made contact with the checkpoints from the direction of

25 Visoko, and I asked that any one of the members of the

Page 21183

1 TO forces who were moving towards Kiseljak tell me who

2 was in command of the operation for lifting the

3 blockade of Sarajevo and who would be the commander of

4 such an operation rallying so many troops. No one

5 among them introduced himself, nor did they want to

6 talk to me.

7 I made the same request in the direction of

8 Raskrsce. This is an area linked to Fojnica and

9 Travnik and, also, Kresevo. I would have gladly spoken

10 to any one of those commanders but not one of them

11 wanted to give me any information. If they had called

12 me to discuss the lifting of the blockade of Sarajevo,

13 I would have gone.

14 These forces, which didn't wish to say

15 whether they had a commander or not, at 20.00 in the

16 evening could not be allowed in Kiseljak municipality

17 to carry out this operation of deblocking in Kiseljak,

18 because this is a valley where such an operation was

19 never conducted. It's not logical to go through a

20 valley surrounded by hills.

21 As for banning passage of TO units from

22 neighbouring municipalities without any announcement,

23 because there were cases when the soldiers of the

24 Republika Srpska army wandered into the municipality,

25 or other armed groups, so we wanted to have some kind

Page 21184

1 of control over this large number of armed groups.

2 JUDGE JORDA: If I understand you well,

3 General, I see that you are commenting on document 631

4 by giving us details on the context on the combat

5 operations which took place and which constituted the

6 very beginning of the hostilities. I see that you want

7 us to interpret this document in light of these

8 events. But, first of all, could you confirm whether

9 or not you signed the order that was issued on the 11th

10 of May, document 502A? This is from you.

11 A. Yes.

12 JUDGE JORDA: Right. Do you have any other

13 comment you wish to make on document 631A?

14 A. In point 4, it says that a meeting of the

15 crisis staff was held, the municipal crisis staff of

16 Kiseljak municipality. I really cannot remember which

17 decisions the municipal crisis staff took, but I know

18 that the Territorial Defence staff of Kiseljak

19 municipality continued operating in the same building

20 in which HVO members were housed and the same applied

21 to August 1992. That is as much as I can say at this

22 point.

23 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. You have been able

24 to say all you wanted to say.

25 Mr. Kehoe, do you have a question that you

Page 21185

1 want to put to the witness, other questions?

2 MR. KEHOE: I have other questions,

3 Mr. President. The question that I wanted to ask was

4 the question that you asked, Mr. President, and I would

5 move into another particular area. I don't know if

6 Your Honour wants me to continue into that other area

7 or break.

8 JUDGE JORDA: No, we are going to stop right

9 here, but I would like us to go into private session

10 for a short while, please.

11 (Private session)

12 (redacted)

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16 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at

17 5.47 p.m., to be reconvened on Friday,

18 the 7th day of May, 1999, at 10.00 a.m.

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