1 Friday, 9 November 2007
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 2.16 p.m.
5 JUDGE PARKER: Good afternoon.
6 I gather that as it is hailing outside we are to be besieged with
7 submissions inside.
8 Who's going to go first?
9 Mr. Saxon.
10 MR. SAXON: The Prosecution has just two brief administrative
11 matters to inform the Court, Trial Chamber. Prosecution exhibit P490,
12 when it was admitted it was admitted with a draft English translation and
13 the final English translation has now been produced and updated -- excuse
14 me, uploaded in can e-court and therefore we simply ask that the draft
15 English translation of this exhibit be replaced with a final English
16 translation which has the document identification number N000-7279-ET.
17 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
18 MR. SAXON: And, secondly, Your Honour, with respect to the
19 exhibit that has been marked for identification as P00379, which you may
20 recall, is the series of documents produced by the investigative
21 commission of the Ministry of Interior of Macedonia during 2003.
22 The -- it was -- we realised a day or two day ago that on e-court
23 there was a portion of the range of documents that had not actually been
24 uploaded into e-court. And so it is now my understanding that the full
25 range of these materials has now been uploaded into e-court, and I just
1 wanted to bring that to the Chamber's attention. The Chamber has already
2 dealt with these materials. They've reviewed them in the binders and
3 during testimony of the Prosecution witnesses. It is simply we have now
4 provided a full version in e-court.
5 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, indeed.
6 Mr. Mettraux.
7 MR. METTRAUX: Thank you, Your Honour. We will hail further on
8 the Trial Chamber, given the opportunity.
9 We would simply announce that we've received from CLSS what is
10 admitted as exhibit P485. There was quite a significant translation issue
11 at page I believe 18 of the document where there was a reference
12 to "implicit capabilities," which should in fact read as "no demonstrated
13 compatibilities" and I'm announcing that, Your Honour, because the correct
14 translation of the document may be used with Mr. Ostreni in the course of
15 this day or on Monday, if the cross-examination is not finished.
16 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
17 Mr. Apostolski.
18 MR. APOSTOLSKI: [Interpretation] Good afternoon, Your Honours.
19 I would like to briefly announce and inform the court in order to
20 have a better planning of the trial, I would like to inform the Honourable
21 Tribunal that the 7th January is the Orthodox Christmas and since the
22 accused Johan Tarculovski and Mr. Boskoski as well as the Defence counsels
23 of both, they celebrate the 7th of January as a Christmas, so therefore we
24 would like to request from Your Honours if the 7 of January is proclaimed
25 a day off.
1 JUDGE PARKER: It is not the sort of submission that we had
2 anticipated. We are certainly conscious of the major festivals affecting
3 counsel and accused, and there is also the Orthodox New Year although
4 perhaps not as significant as the one in some other areas of the Christian
6 The Chamber is looking with some anxiety at exactly where the
7 trial will be, depending on when the Prosecution case might finish,
8 whether or not there is to be anticipated a submission from either or both
9 accused under 98 bis, the time that will be necessary for both Defences,
10 if the trial is to proceed, to comply with the procedural requirements
11 before the Defence case can commence, and what would be a reasonable time
12 to allow to the Defence for their final preparation before their cases get
13 under way. And all of that is going to be complicated by this vacation
14 here of three weeks, and then, as you mention, the Orthodox celebrations.
15 So there are a number of factors we have to weigh against a
16 background that we don't want to lose time unnecessarily. But we do
17 respect the need and the appropriateness of celebrations of significance
18 such as those that you have mentioned.
19 Now, I think probably it's a little premature today to be thinking
20 about some of those issues, particularly as it is as yet not clear when
21 the Prosecution case will finish, which is the starting point for all
22 those other matters. Go, though, with some warm heart, Mr. Apostolski,
23 that the Chamber would not be minded to sit on the day of the Orthodox
24 Christmas, whatever else happens.
25 Can we leave it at that --
1 MR. APOSTOLSKI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
2 JUDGE PARKER: Yes.
3 MR. APOSTOLSKI: [Interpretation] I apologise, Your Honours, for
4 taking the time for this, but I believed that maybe it was the best time
5 to inform the Court. Anyway, thank you very much for listening to me.
6 JUDGE PARKER: We have already determined the Macedonian Orthodox
7 celebration date, because we have been looking at all of these issues, but
8 thank you for bringing it up.
9 We will certainly, from the Chamber's point of view, be looking at
10 this with a lot more purpose once it is clear when the Prosecution case
11 can conclude and we can move into these other areas, because we have to
12 allow appropriate time for Defence to prepare, but we don't want to waste
13 time at that break.
14 Thank you, Mr. Apostolski.
15 Now --
16 MR. APOSTOLSKI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours.
17 JUDGE PARKER: The excitement of the moment, Ms. Regue you thought
18 that you had concluded your evidence. We left the door a little ajar in
19 case, overnight, you thought of something.
20 MS. REGUE: Well, Your Honours I leave that -- we leave it as it
21 was. So we have no further questions. Thanks.
22 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Mettraux, are you ready to proceed, if we can
23 find a witness?
24 MR. METTRAUX: Absolutely, Your Honour.
25 JUDGE PARKER: Very well.
1 [Trial Chamber confers]
2 [The witness entered court]
3 JUDGE PARKER: Good afternoon, Mr. Ostreni.
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good afternoon, Your Honour.
5 JUDGE PARKER: We are now ready to proceed, and it is Mr. Mettraux
6 who will now be asking you some questions.
7 Mr. Mettraux.
8 WITNESS: GZIM OSTRENI [Resumed]
9 [Witness answered through interpreter]
10 MR. METTRAUX: Thank you, Your Honour.
11 Cross-examination by Mr. Mettraux:
12 Q. Good afternoon Mr. Ostreni. My name is Guenael Mettraux, and
13 together with my colleague Edina Residovic I'm appearing on behalf of
14 Mr. Boskoski.
15 A. I cannot hear the interpretation well.
16 JUDGE PARKER: I will talk for a little while and you tell me when
17 you can hear an interpretation, Mr. Ostreni.
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Oh, I can hear it, Your Honour.
19 JUDGE PARKER: Splendid. And could I remind you that the
20 affirmation you made still applies.
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour.
22 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
23 Mr. Mettraux.
24 MR. METTRAUX: Thank you, Your Honour.
25 Q. Good afternoon, Mr. Ostreni. My name is Guenael Mettraux and
1 together with my colleague Edina Residovic I'm appearing on behalf of
2 Mr. Boskoski.
3 Mr. Ostreni, you have indicated to the Prosecution that you were
4 appointed to be the Chief of Staff of the National Liberation Army
5 sometimes towards the end of March 2001. Do you recall saying that?
6 A. I recall that I probably said March 2001.
7 Q. And at the time you indicated that you were given the rank of
8 general of the NLA. Is that correct?
9 A. With the transformation of the KLA, then with the KPC and with the
10 same rank, I joined the UCK of Macedonia, the National Liberation Army.
11 Q. And simply to clarify, as you joined the NLA, you were given the
12 rank of general of that organisation. Is that correct?
13 A. The post was that of a general.
14 Q. And the person who appointed you to that position was Mr. Ali
15 Ahmeti. Is that correct?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. And could you tell the Chamber based on what law did Mr. Ahmeti
18 appoint you to that position?
19 A. Of course. Based on the idea of transforming the uprising into an
20 army, an army that would require a General Staff.
21 Q. I'm grateful, Mr. Ostreni. Could you indicate what law, if any,
22 Mr. Ahmeti had relied upon to give you the title and the rank of a general
23 in the National Liberation Army?
24 A. I believe that there was no law on this matter.
25 Q. And do you know who had appointed Mr. Ahmeti to be the so-called
1 Supreme Commander of the NLA?
2 A. When I came from the United States of America on the 26th of
3 February, I met with Mr. Ali Ahmeti in March. He was with some friends of
4 his. And he said that the uprising has already begun and that they had
5 begun to organise themselves and they invited me to join.
6 Q. I'm grateful for that, Mr. Ostreni. But do you know who had
7 appointed Mr. Ahmeti to be the so-called Supreme Commander of the NLA; do
8 you know that?
9 A. The friends, the comrades he worked with, he cooperated with, and
10 his commitment and engagement made all the others accept him as their
11 leader, including myself.
12 Q. And is it correct that as was the case with your appointment, his
13 selection, to call it that, as the Supreme Commander was not based on any
14 particular law or regulation. Is that correct?
15 A. It is true that there was no law on this issue, because, as I
16 said, this was an uprising, an ongoing uprising and it was seeking a form
17 of organisation so that it would continue operating in an organised and
18 planned manner in order to fulfil its goals.
19 Q. Thank you. Is it correct that Mr. Ahmeti, unlike yourself, is not
20 a military trained man, is that correct, he is not a military man by
22 A. I have no knowledge on whether he is trained or not.
23 Q. Is it correct that prior to your selection to be the Chief of
24 Staff of the Main Staff of the NLA, no one had held that position; in
25 other words, you were the first person to be given that position. Is that
2 A. I was not told that there was someone there at that post before
3 me, so I must be the first one at that function. I have no knowledge of
4 any other before me there.
5 Q. And did you receive any written order or any written decision
6 appointing you to that position from Mr. Ahmeti?
7 A. No, I did not receive it in writing. I received it orally.
8 Q. So in effect there would be no paper trail or paper indication of
9 the time and the basis on which you had been appointed. Is that correct?
10 A. I don't have a document, but all the documents that I prepared
11 were adopted by Mr. Ali Ahmeti and in my opinion, this is a fact that
12 proves that I was general -- correction, head of General Staff.
13 Q. Thank you for that. Do you recall, Mr. Ostreni, to indicate to
14 the Prosecution that prior to your being chosen to be the Chief of Staff
15 of the NLA, the NLA consisted of a number of small groups operating
16 without cooperation and that you tried to bring some degree of
17 organisation. Do you recall saying that?
18 A. This is true. This was at least my impression. As I already
19 mentioned, I returned on 26th or 27th of February to Skopje from the
20 United States. In March I met Mr. Ali Ahmeti, and at that time my
21 impression was that the NLA was composed of groups that were operative but
22 that required notification of reorganisation and taking a certain
23 direction and be controlled.
24 Q. Is it correct, Mr. Ostreni, that although you were given the title
25 of a general and the position of a Chief of Staff, you in fact were given
1 no power in that organisation and were left completely out of the loop
2 about what was going on in your organisation. Do you agree with that?
3 A. No, I don't agree with that.
4 Q. Do you agree perhaps that your appointment as a Chief of Staff of
5 the NLA was a public exercise, a public relation exercise by Mr. Ahmeti to
6 put a more respectable face on the NLA and in particular, that of a
7 military man. Do you agree that is what happened?
8 A. No, I don't agree that is what happened. I believe that Mr. Ali
9 Ahmeti needed a person who was expert in this field and who would
10 contribute to the organisation to become what it should become and be
11 under control.
12 Q. Well, I'd like to go back to a number of statements which you've
13 made yesterday and in your statement to the Office of the Prosecutor about
14 the efforts that you say you made to ensure an enforced discipline and
15 standard of humanitarian law in your organisation, and I'm going to put a
16 number of propositions to you and you are going to tell me whether you
17 agree with those or not.
18 I understand your evidence to be, Mr. Ostreni, that there was a
19 functioning chain of command from Mr. Ahmeti and yourself down to the
20 member of your organisation in the field. Is that correct? Is that your
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. And is that also your evidence that your organisation was applying
24 and respecting the Geneva Conventions and other humanitarian law standards
25 and that you even issued a so-called communique to that effect. Is that
1 correct? Is it that your evidence?
2 A. It is my evidence that we were always committed to -- for things
3 to become the way you described -- you described them.
4 Q. And is that also your evidence, Mr. Ostreni, that you enforced
5 within your organisation strict standards of military discipline, and I
6 think you've indicated that those who would breach those standards would
7 be held responsible. Is that your evidence?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. And if I understood your evidence properly, your attachment to
10 these various matters was important for you to show that your organisation
11 was in fact an army and not a criminal or terrorist gang, as it sometimes
12 is referred to. Is that correct?
13 A. It is correct that our entire work and efforts were directed at
14 achieving the goal of creating an army, the National Liberation Army,
15 which would be controlled, organised, disciplined and which would carry
16 out the tasks and duties received from the General Staff.
17 Q. Thank you, Mr. Ostreni. And did you or Mr. Ahmeti gave any orders
18 or order to comply with those standards of humanitarian law which you said
19 you were attached to?
20 A. I think that this is regulated by the rules and the rule -- the
21 rules of service, that is, and the order issued by Mr. Ali Ahmeti for the
22 implementation of the rules of service is simultaneously an order for-- to
23 comply with what you mentioned.
24 Q. And this order would include, for instance, a prohibition on
25 murdering people. Do you agree?
1 A. All our units were prohibited to abuse office or kill civilians.
2 Their duties were limited to carrying out on their military duties
3 respectively in combat with the ARM and the police.
4 Q. Thank you for that. And you would agree that this regulations and
5 the order that accompanied it would also prohibit the members of your
6 organisation from kidnapping people or committing ethnic cleansing. Do
7 you agree?
8 A. Our rules did not allow for this in any way and we didn't have or
9 maintain such a position. On the contrary, our position was to safeguard
10 the life of the civilians and their property.
11 Q. Thank you. And I suppose the regulations and the order
12 accompanying it would also prohibit the destruction of religion buildings
13 or their use as military facilities as well as the sexual abuse of
14 civilians. Is that correct?
15 A. That's correct. Abuse and destruction were prohibited especially
16 desecration of religious building. However, facilities and buildings used
17 by the ARM and the police were our objectives.
18 Q. Thank you for that. But as far as the NLA is concerned, you would
19 agree that you made it quite clear to the members of your organisation
20 that using religion facilities, for example, as military facilities would
21 be an illegal act and a crime. Do you agree with that?
22 A. I agree, because our rules of service clearly stated that our
23 soldiers and units could use social facilities, such as schools, for
24 example, and civilian buildings, but upon approval received from the
25 owners of those buildings or facilities.
1 Q. Thank you. And did you or Mr. Ahmeti issue any order or
2 regulation to the effect that disciplinary steps or other measures would
3 be taken against members of your organisation that would breach those
5 A. I'm not Mr. Ahmeti, honourable counsel.
6 Q. I'm grateful, Mr. Ostreni. I'd realised that, and perhaps is a
7 word that has been miss in the translation. I was asking whether
8 yourself, Mr. Ostreni, or your colleague Mr. Ahmeti at any stage issued
9 any order or regulation to the effect that disciplinary steps or any other
10 measures would be taken against members of your organisation that would
11 breach those standards.
12 A. The rules envisaged disciplinary measures to be taken by the
13 battalion or brigade commander in case members of their respective units
14 breach the rules of service of the NLA.
15 Q. Thank you. And I think you have explained yesterday that the
16 importance of those standards and the various regulations which you say
17 were adopted at the time was to ensure that the hierarchy of your
18 organisation functioned properly and that the good order of the
19 organisation was maintained. Is that correct?
20 A. Yes, that's correct. That is a rule of each and every rules.
21 Q. You would agree, I hope, Mr. Ostreni, that an organisation that
22 would use crime and terrorism as a way to achieve its purposes or its
23 goals could not be regarded as an army as you understand it. Do you agree
24 with that?
25 A. If you are thinking that the NLA is a terrorist organisation that
1 has committed crimes, I do not agree with that proposition.
2 Q. Thank you. But would you agree with the more general proposition,
3 Mr. Ostreni, that an organisation, whatever its name or label, that would
4 use crime and terrorism as a way to achieve its goals and purposes could
5 not be regarded as an army, as you, a military man, understand it. Do you
6 agree with that?
7 A. The source for the establishment of the NLA is the uprising which
8 should be regulated, governed, have its hierarchy and description of
9 responsibilities and duty to prevent it from committing any terrorist acts
10 or crimes, because in that event, it would have been very detrimental to
12 Q. Thank you, Mr. Ostreni. If you could try to answer the more
13 general question that I'm asking you. Setting aside for a moment the
14 specific situation of the NLA, we're going to come back to the NLA in a
15 moment, but putting it aside, would you agree with the proposition that an
16 organisation that would use crime and terrorism to achieve its goal and
17 purposes could not possibly be regarded as an army, as you, a military
18 man, understands it. Do you agree with that proposition?
19 A. If it uses or resorts to terrorism, I agree with that.
20 Q. And what about an organisation that would have recourse to crime,
21 Mr. Ostreni?
22 A. I'm not very clear about what you put to me. That has resource to
24 Q. Well, I apologise for not being any clearer, Mr. Ostreni.
25 I'll give you an example, perhaps. Would you agree that an
1 organisation that would use, for instance, murders, kidnapping, or ethnic
2 cleansing to achieve its goal and purposes could not be regarded as an
3 army, as you understand it. Do you agree with that?
4 A. If it does what are you saying, yes, I agree with you.
5 Q. Thank you. And you've indicated to my colleague of the
6 Prosecution that you kept in touch with the so-called commanders of your
7 so-called brigades through daily telephone contacts. Is that correct?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. And during those telephone contacts, I believe you said that the
10 brigade commanders, as they are known, would inform you -- would inform
11 you about what was going on in their areas of responsibility. Is that
13 A. Yes, it is.
14 Q. And is that correct also, Mr. Ostreni, that rather than trying to
15 install within the National Liberation Army a military-like sort of
16 discipline among its members, Mr. Ahmeti and the other leaders of that
17 organisation in fact used crime, violence against civilians, and terrorist
18 attacks as a way to achieve its purposes. Do you agree with that?
19 A. I'm not informed of this, and I don't agree with you.
20 Q. And in fact is it correct, Mr. Ostreni, that you have told the
21 Office of the Prosecutor that you had no knowledge of any crime or breach
22 of discipline that occurred within your organisation, the NLA, during the
23 crisis period in 2001. Do you recall telling that to the Prosecutor?
24 A. Yes, I do. I said that. That was a general statement.
25 Q. But surely, Mr. Ostreni, as a so-called Chief of Staff of the NLA,
1 you would know that a relatively large number of civilians had been
2 kidnapped by members of your organisation. Are you aware of that?
3 A. No, I wasn't aware of that. And I'm saying that they were not
4 kidnapped by the NLA.
5 MR. METTRAUX: Could the witness please be shown Rule 65 ter
6 1D733, please.
7 Q. Mr. Ostreni, I'm going to show you a document that comes from the
8 Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Macedonia and there will be a
9 Macedonian version of the document on your right. I apologise, we don't
10 have an Albanian translation of that document. I will read it out to
11 you. That may assist you.
12 This is a document dated the 29th of August of 2001 and it comes
13 from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Macedonia, the
14 headquarters of operative action Ramno and it is being sent to the crisis
15 management centre in Skopje and the subject is submission of requested
17 Are you able to follow, Mr. Ostreni?
18 A. Yes, yes, I am. It's a little bit difficult for me, because it is
19 only in Macedonian, but can I follow it.
20 Q. I will read the passages to you, Mr. Ostreni, that may assist you
21 and if you need a paper copy, can you certainly ask me. I have a paper
22 copy for you.
23 The text goes on to say this: "With a telegram from 29 August
24 2001 you have urgently requested data to be submitted to you about the
25 kidnapped persons who are still being held captive by the Albanian
1 terrorist groups. In the files kept at the Ministry of Internal Affairs,
2 based on information acquired from the file, we hereby submit to you the
4 And then there follows an overview of persons who are considered
5 to have been kidnapped by the Albanian terrorist groups. And there's a
6 list of name of those people.
7 Mr. Ostreni, were you aware during the crisis in 2001 that your
8 organisation, the NLA, was kidnapping civilians or members of the
9 Macedonian security forces? Is that something you were aware of?
10 A. I was aware of the fact that there were people who were
11 imprisoned, members of Brigade 113 and 115, who, after the war, were
12 released from jail in the presence of international community. I don't
13 know which organisation it was, maybe the Red Cross, or some other. I
14 know that 13 were being asked for and that 15 persons were released.
15 Q. I'm grateful for that, Mr. Ostreni. But I was asking whether you
16 knew about civilians and members of the Macedonian security forces who had
17 been kidnapped by members of your organisation, the so-called NLA. Are
18 you aware of that?
19 A. I was informed, but they were not kidnapped; they were captured as
20 war prisoners. The others had entered the territory controlled by the
21 brigade to collect information. They were detained in the brigade.
22 Q. Well, thank you. When you say that they were not kidnapped but
23 captured as prisoners of war, are you aware of the fact, Mr. Ostreni, that
24 many of those people who had been kidnapped by your organisation were
25 never found? Is that something which is within your knowledge?
1 A. No, I don't have any information. I know only about those
2 persons, that the NLA, after signing the Ohrid Agreement has released. As
3 I said, either the Red Cross or some other organisation came there to take
4 over such persons so they went back to their families. Among them there
5 were paramilitaries. Ramero [phoen] was one, another soldier who
6 surrendered himself to the NLA. He didn't want to go back to his own
7 forces. I know that the spokesperson talked with him directly. He said
8 he is enjoying a good health and he declared this publicly on television
9 and for the media.
10 Q. So no one within your organisation provided you with information
11 that a number of those kidnapped persons had been executed and buried by
12 members of your organisation for example in and around the town of
13 Neprosteno. That's not information that was given to you?
14 A. Neprosteno is not a town, it's a village, and I was not informed
15 neither then or now that someone had kidnapped civilian citizens I don't
16 have any information to that effect, nor that they were executed, as you
17 put it. We heard something about this event after the war but they
18 were -- the NLA soldiers or their superiors were not involved in
19 anything. At least I don't have any information about that.
20 Q. Well, thank you for that, Mr. Ostreni.
21 MR. METTRAUX: Could the witness please be shown Exhibit 1D16,
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] And one thing -- another thing, if I
24 may. In the table that I saw on the screen, it doesn't write that it is
25 accurate. It is written only that it is believed that they were
1 kidnapped. Can you show it again, please, the previous document.
2 MR. METTRAUX: Can the document be shown to Mr. Ostreni again.
3 Q. I'll read to you perhaps the passage you're referring upon. It's
4 just under the title, Mr. Ostreni.
5 A. Just a second. I will read it in Macedonian. It is written here,
6 Preglat, which means table, then the names of person who are believed to
7 have been kidnapped by terrorist, Albanian terrorist groups, so this
8 document doesn't say that it is a fact, that it is certain, but it is
9 believed, it says. Everyone has a right to believe or to think what he or
10 she thinks or wants. But before stating something we must be certain of
12 MR. METTRAUX:
13 Q. Well, perhaps the next document will help you, Mr. Ostreni.
14 MR. METTRAUX: It's Exhibit 1D16.
15 Q. Mr. Ostreni, this is a document that is in the English language
16 again and I will read it out to you. It's a -- the record of an e-mail,
17 if you wish, that comes from the organisation known as the OSCE and it's
18 been provided to us by the Office of the Prosecutor.
19 And the person who is writing this e-mail on the 10th of July of
20 2001, is an employee of the OSCE. Says that she's working on a
21 supplemental report that will address recent developments. She says the
22 allegations with regard to the alleged human rights violation by the
23 ethnic Albanian armed group have increased and now include, and I will
24 read out to you the first two on this list. It says that it includes the
25 illegal detention of civilians, and she mentioned notably Tetovo, Radusa,
1 and the Matejce area.
2 Before going any further, Mr. Ostreni, are you aware or were you
3 given any information by your so-called chain of command about cases of
4 illegal detention of civilians in any of those three areas, Tetovo,
5 Radusa, or Matejce?
6 A. I already said to you that we had information that in Radush and
7 in Brigade 113 there were people who were detained, who were released
8 after the signing of the Ohrid Framework Agreement.
9 Six years have passed since that time, I remember this, but I
10 don't know anything about Tetovo. Maybe there was also someone there who
11 was detained. I don't know.
12 Q. And were you aware that those detained persons were civilians,
13 Mr. Ostreni?
14 A. The information that we received from the brigades said that these
15 persons were tasked with collection of information on the situation of the
16 brigades, their positions, supplies, movements and so on. So it was
17 believed that these persons were working for the intelligence service.
18 You yourself said that some of these persons were employed by
19 various security bodies.
20 Q. Well, did you try to find out, Mr. Ostreni, as Chief of Staff of
21 the NLA what the status of those persons were? Did you make any effort in
22 that sense?
23 A. I tried to find out, and my instructions and those of my commander
24 were to treat people fairly, to take care of their health and everything
1 Q. Thank you for that. I'll bring you to the second point on this
2 e-mail which is still in front of you.
3 It also records cases of forced labour, detained person report,
4 they are forced to dig ditches, ethnic Albanians sometimes report they are
5 similarly forced to assist NLA actions.
6 Do you know of any such case, Mr. Ostreni, which would have been
7 reported back to you by your colleagues about cases of forced labour
8 within your organisation, the NLA? Is that information that you received?
9 A. No, I didn't receive any such information of people being forced
10 to dig trenches or something else.
11 Q. You would agree that any such conduct if it had taken place would
12 be contrary to Geneva Conventions and other humanitarian standards. Do
13 you agree with that?
14 A. It was not necessary to force them to work, unless they helped
15 to -- to put up their -- the place where they were staying, because people
16 had to be sheltered somewhere. If you mean something else, I don't think
17 it is true.
18 Q. Well, just a general proposition, Mr. Ostreni, would you agree
19 that forcing people to assist the NLA or, in particular, by forcing them
20 to dig ditches for the NLA would be contrary to the standards recognised
21 by the Geneva Conventions. Do you agree with that?
22 A. I agree with that. But I believe they were not forced to that.
23 Q. And do you recall yesterday, Mr. Ostreni, you told my colleague
24 from the Prosecution that in your view the NLA had a fighting edge, to
25 call it that, because contrary to the Macedonian forces, your organisation
1 was made up of volunteers. Do you recall saying that?
2 A. Yes, yes.
3 Q. But in fact the reason why you said that, Mr. Ostreni, is to hide
4 something much more embarrassing which was going on in your organisation
5 at the time, which was the forced conscription of young Albanian
6 citizens. Is that correct?
7 A. Not a single Albanian was forced to participate in the NLA. On
8 the contrary, everyone had the right, whenever he so wished, to hand in
9 the weapon and go home or wherever he wanted.
10 Q. Well, that's part of the NLA propaganda, isn't it, of a large
11 popular support within the Albanian population, but the reality,
12 Mr. Ostreni, is that you used violence and threats on to your own ethnic
13 group, the Albanian ethnic group to have fighters in your organisation and
14 where people refused to cooperate you used crime and violence. Is that
16 A. I think this is an insult to us. This is an observation that you
17 are making to throw mud at Albanians and at the NLA. Even today, the NLA
18 and what it did is honoured by the Albanians. If we had acted the way you
19 are putting it, we wouldn't be able to face our own citizens, so I do not
20 at all agree with your proposition and I want to say again that this is an
21 insult against the NLA.
22 Q. Well, Mr. Ostreni, I'll bring your attention to point 3 of the
23 e-mail which is in front of you, and it comes, not from the Defence but
24 from the OSCE, and it records the following incidents involving the NLA.
25 It says: "Forced conscription, there are report one person was killed and
1 several wounded when a father resisted the attempt to forcibly conscript
2 his son into the NLA."
3 Mr. Ostreni, are you aware of this case or any similar case within
4 the NLA where violence was used to force people to join your organisation?
5 A. I'm not aware of any such cases, namely, of using force against
6 people who wanted -- who didn't want to join the NLA.
7 Q. Well, let's go back to the kidnapped people for a second,
8 Mr. Ostreni.
9 Are you aware that the European Union set up a specific commission
10 whose role and function it was to sort out the issue of the disappeared
11 and kidnapped during the crisis. Do you know about this commission?
12 A. No, I'm not.
13 Q. Maybe you're aware perhaps that your colleague, Mr. Ahmeti, and a
14 number of other so-called commanders of the NLA met with members of that
15 commission. Is it something you know?
16 A. No, I don't know. I don't have any information. Excuse me,
17 Mr. Ahmeti, at the end of the war, talked about the release of all
18 detainees kept by the brigades. I want to repeat it. Together we went to
19 Brigade 113 and 115 and those persons were being detained were released
20 and went their own ways.
21 Q. Are you aware of Mr. Ahmeti attending meetings of this European
22 commission in the early month of the year 2002 and pretending to be
23 interested in solving the issues of those people who had not yet
24 reappeared. Are you aware of that?
25 A. Yes, I know about that in 2002. I know that they were working to
1 try to find a solution to this problem, find the problems [as interpreted]
2 who were missing. One of them is also the uncle of Mr. Ali Ahmeti.
3 Q. Thank you, Mr. Ostreni. But at this stage I will stay with the
4 people who had disappeared and who were suspected to have been kidnapped
5 by the NLA.
6 Were you aware that in March 2002 there was still quite a large
7 number of people who had not reappeared? Are you aware of that?
8 A. No. In March of 2001?
9 Q. Of 2002, Mr. Ostreni.
10 A. In March of 2002, I was following attempts being made to find the
11 person -- the missing persons. Even to this day Mr. Ali Ahmeti is
12 willing - me, too - are willing to help if we learn something in relation
13 to this issue, because among the missings are not only Macedonian
14 civilians but also Albanians and all of them are citizens of the Republic
15 of Macedonia. So everyone must contribute to finding them.
16 Q. But do you agree that that sort of statement that you just made,
17 Mr. Ostreni, is just for the public. You don't mean a word you've just
18 said. Do you agree with that?
19 A. I want to say what I already said. When I talk, I don't think in
20 two ways. I express what comes to my mind, what I think. I speak the
21 way I think.
22 MR. METTRAUX: Could the witness please be shown what is Rule 65
23 ter 1D745, please.
24 Q. Mr. Ostreni, this is a document which we've received from the
25 Office of the Prosecutor, and it's the record of a meeting which this
1 European commission on kidnapped and other meeting -- missing persons had
2 in -- on the 25th [sic] of March of 2002 and there's a number of passages
3 of that meeting that I would like to read to you.
4 First it explains that the purpose of the meeting is that "the
5 commission continues its effort to find out the fate of the 20 missing
6 persons." And it says: "In connection with both the MOI and the former
7 NLA, we are now trying to clarify a number of question that both parties
8 have been unable to answer so far."
9 Then in the next paragraph it refers to a meeting that took place
10 the 15, apparently, of that month and it says this: "On 15th we met with
11 Ahmeti and he promised us his support in making the different commanders
12 available for us to meet them. And it says: "When talking to Luli last
13 week he explained that his authority in the structure is weak and he said
14 that it would be easier for the commission to obtain information that for
16 And then the member of the commission that prepared that report
17 records himself as saying: "I would like to appeal to you and the former
18 NLA to come forward with information that could solving these cases. I
19 would like to remind you that our task is not a criminal investigation,
20 but we have a humanitarian task. We are therefore not interested in who
21 is guilty of what, but only in receiving information that can help us to
22 clarify the fate of these 20 missing persons. This information can be
23 forwarded also anonymously."
24 And then if you go further down the page, in fact, we ask the
25 assistance of the registry, there's a passage, Mr. Ostreni, you may be
1 able to locate it which starts with the words: "Cela further told the
3 Can you see that? I will read it out to you. It says
4 this: "Cela further told the commission that the former NLA has serious
5 problems with obtaining information about missing persons. None of their
6 former commanders seem to possess the information or are reluctant to tell
7 the truth."
8 And just stopping for a comment, is it correct that Cela was one
9 of the so-called brigade commander of the NLA. Is that correct?
10 A. No. That's not correct.
11 Q. Do you know Cela to be a member of the NLA, Mr. Ostreni?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. And could you indicate what position he held during the crisis?
14 A. He worked in the G2 and, at the same time he was in 112th Brigade
15 but he was not, as you're putting it, a brigade commander.
16 Q. I'm grateful for the clarification. And could you perhaps
17 indicate what the name of that person is, Mr. Ostreni?
18 A. Cela?
19 Q. Yes, please.
20 A. I think Hazbi Lika.
21 Q. Thank you. And the document goes on to say this: "Cela promised
22 however to send the message through the former NLA that the leadership
23 thinks it is important to solve this issue but suggested at the same time
24 that further conversations with commanders be conducted by the
1 Can you see that?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. And do you agree that this suggests that the NLA was in fact quite
4 keen to assist the commission. Do you agree with that?
5 A. I'm reading the interpretation of what you're reading.
6 Q. But, Mr. Ostreni, do you agree that the passage or the statement
7 attributed to Cela that I have just read out to you suggests a willingness
8 on the part of the NLA to assist the commission in finding out what
9 happened to the kidnapped and missing persons. Do you agree that's what
10 the statement of Cela suggests?
11 A. I agree with what you're saying, that the NLA, or people who were
12 members of the NLA, were willing to find the missing persons. And, as I
13 understand, Cela is saying that there will be contribution for the --
14 finding solution to the issue of the missing persons.
15 Q. Well, if we can turn to the next page you will see the assessment
16 of the member of the commission who prepared that report. I will read it
17 out to you, Mr. Ostreni.
18 The comment by the person is this: "It seems that no one in the
19 former NLA is interested in solving this issue. In the last meeting with
20 Ahmeti, he referred all detailed questions to Luli and only said that he
21 is interested in solving this issue. In the last meeting with Luli he
22 complained that he does not have the authority needed to obtain the
23 information or to send messages through the organisation. Luli suggested
24 us at that time to talk with Cela."
25 Isn't that correct that the reality of what was and has been
1 happening, Mr. Ostreni, is that your organisation publicly pretends to be
2 assisting in issues such as this one but in fact does nothing about it.
3 Do you agree with that?
4 A. No, I don't agree with that, because of the following. As I said
5 earlier, it is not only ethnic Macedonians missing but ethnic Albanians as
6 well, citizens of the Republic of Macedonia. And the NLA making no
7 difference or distinction between the two, including Mr. Ali Ahmeti, they
8 were trying to find information to the extent it was possible and inform
9 the commission and talk to its members on this issue. This interest
10 continues to be shown in this respect because still there is no
11 information about the missing persons and as I said earlier, one of them
12 is the uncle of Mr. Ali Ahmeti. I think his name is Rushdi.
13 Q. Is it correct, Mr. Ostreni, that the commission of crimes and acts
14 of terrorism by your organisation, the so-called NLA, was not just an
15 unfortunate consequence of the war or an armed conflict but it was in fact
16 the strategy of your organisation to commit such crime to attain such
17 goals. Do you agree with that?
18 A. No, there's no way I can agree with this. This is absolutely
19 contrary to the goals of the NLA.
20 Q. But setting aside the stated goals of your organisation,
21 Mr. Ostreni, do you agree that what happened on the ground is perfectly
22 consistent with an organisation that is using crimes to terrorise
23 civilians and cleanse areas from other ethnic groups. Do you agree with
25 A. No, I cannot agree with this and this is not true.
1 Q. Do you recall yesterday being asked questions by my colleague
2 about what you called was the "control exercised by your organisation in
3 number of locations in which the NLA was active." Do you recall those
5 A. Yeah, I believe I do.
6 Q. And is it correct that you explained to the Chamber and to the
7 Prosecution prior to that, that your organisation or members of your
8 organisation were exercising some sort of authority within those areas.
9 Is that correct?
10 A. I have pointed out the zones, and these zones are documented. The
11 Chamber has them and I believe you have them as well.
12 Q. Yes. And you agree that what those areas have in common,
13 Mr. Ostreni, is that in all of them your organisation used the same
14 practice. You cleansed those areas from other ethnic groups, members of
15 other ethnic groups so that you were able to impose your authority over a
16 very docile population. Do you agree that's what happened?
17 A. No, I cannot agree with this and I will not agree with this.
18 Because facts point out of a different situation. What the academy of
19 science did, which was supported by certain politicians regarding
20 partition of the Republic of Macedonia and the change of population
21 actually infiltrated fear among the population. This is first.
22 Secondly, the internal organs, that is to say, the police, began
23 to distribute weapons to the Macedonian civilians in order to defend
24 themselves and this also caused fear amongst the population. That's why a
25 number of civilians went to see the president, the late president,
1 Mr. Trajkovski, in the company of a member of the parliament known as
2 Bomba. From their statements it is clear where this insecurity of the
3 civilians comes from. In our view, this insecurity was caused by the way
4 the state organs, the police and army were operating.
5 Q. Well, thank you for that, Mr. Ostreni. Is it correct that your
6 group, the NLA, in June 2001 entered the town or city of Aracinovo? Are
7 you aware of that?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. And was information provided back to you by your colleagues who
10 were in Aracinovo about what was going on in the town or city at that
12 A. The NLA forces had entered part of Haracin, and they were getting
13 ready to defend themselves, expecting an attack.
14 Q. So surely you would have received reports from those people you
15 talked to, that as soon as your colleagues entered the town they started
16 scaring away the local population. Did you receive any such reports?
17 A. No, I didn't.
18 MR. METTRAUX: Well, could the witness please be shown what is
19 Exhibit 1D259, please.
20 Q. Mr. Ostreni, this is a document that is dated the 14th of June of
21 2001. And it's a summary that was given to the Defence by a particular
22 embassy about the events in Aracinovo and I will read to what you the
23 summary of that document says.
24 It says this: "The Macedonian government virtually abdicates
25 control of the town of Aracinovo to the insurgents. The occupation of the
1 village highlights the ineptness and impotence of the security forces."
2 Can you locate that, Mr. Ostreni? This is at the beginning of the
4 A. This document is in English. I don't know English very well.
5 Q. Well, I apologise for that, Mr. Ostreni. In that case I will read
6 the passage to you verbatim.
7 A. Just a moment, please. It's not enough to apologise. I want to
8 be familiarised with the document you're asking me about and I want to
9 know what I'm talking about here. Because there might be a word there
10 saying it is believed or it is thought, and you might put that word to me
11 as it is something like a fact. So I want to know what I'm talking about
13 Q. Well, Mr. Ostreni, I will speak under the control of my colleagues
14 of the Prosecution and the Judges of this Chamber.
15 MR. METTRAUX: And I will ask the registry to turn to the next
16 page, please. And if we could go -- thank you.
17 Q. I will read a sentence to you, Mr. Ostreni, and then I will ask
18 you a question about this.
19 It says this: "According to local inhabitants, sometime during
20 the afternoon of Friday, 8 June 2001, approximately 30 members of the NLA
21 (supposedly not from the town itself, per comments from all residents of
22 the town) entered the town and began scaring the inhabitants out of the
23 town, especially the ethnic Macedonian inhabitants ..."
24 My question to you is this, Mr. Ostreni: Did you receive any
25 reports from the members of your organisation where in Aracinovo that some
1 members of this organisation were involved in scaring inhabitants out of
2 the town, especially the ethnic Macedonian inhabitants. Did you receive
3 any such information?
4 A. No, the information that I received was that the unit entered
5 Haracin and not that it was scaring the population away. It was war. If
6 the population was scared of this war, that is a different issue. But if
7 this is a passage from a longer text then it would be difficult for me to
8 answer you. I cannot speak of a single room when I'm not familiar with
9 the building. That's why I need to have this document in the Albanian to
10 be able to read it and understand it, and then you can ask me about that
12 You are reading parts of the document to me.
13 Q. Well, let me ask you perhaps a more general question, which may be
14 easier for you to answer, Mr. Ostreni.
15 Would you agree that should members of a particular group
16 intentionally scare civilians away, that would constitute a violations of
17 humanitarian law. Do you agree with that?
18 A. Again, this is a fragment. The operation should be reviewed in a
19 full context. Part of the NLA brigade forces were in Haracin, which was
20 not defended by the ARM forces. They established their control there and,
21 to me, they performed a task that was given to them by the brigade. And
22 now you're asking me if they scared the civilians away, and you are
23 putting the emphasis on the Macedonian citizens.
24 If you are separating only the Macedonian citizens, this is a
25 tendentious issue. You are putting me in a situation and trying to make
1 me play with words.
2 Q. Well, let's set aside for a moment, Mr. Ostreni, the issue of
3 Aracinovo and let me ask you more general question which doesn't apply to
4 this particular scenario perhaps.
5 Would you agree that the intentional scaring away of civilians, in
6 particular civilians of one ethnic group by armed individuals would be
7 inconsistent with humanitarian law. Do you agree with this general
9 A. I would agree, but I don't have any knowledge that NLA units
10 undertook activities with the aim of scaring away only the known Albanian
11 population. This is something that I cannot agree with and cannot accept.
12 Q. But are you aware, Mr. Ostreni, as a former Chief of Staff of the
13 so-called NLA that this practice of ethnic cleansing of intimidating and
14 scaring civilians away from the areas that -- in which you were active was
15 actually taking place in almost all places where you were active. Were
16 you aware of that, or didn't you have that information at the time?
17 A. This information was not ethnic cleansing defined as such. You
18 know that 113rd Brigade received several ultimatums of the Ministry of
19 Interior and the Ministry of Defence so that the civilian population could
20 move out from their villages. If you treat this as ethnic cleansing, then
21 that's a different issue. But we did not drive them away. They were at
22 their free will to choose whether they will stay there or whether they
23 will leave their respective homes and the aim of the NLA was never to
24 carry out ethnic cleansing.
25 Q. Do you know where the village of Brezno is, Mr. Ostreni?
1 A. No. The way you are pronouncing it, I don't know.
2 Q. Well, I think you will have to help me with the pronunciation,
3 Mr. Ostreni. Do you know of a village called Brezno, which is about 60
4 kilometre west of Skopje towards Tetovo? Do you know any such village?
5 A. No.
6 Q. Well, let me help you then.
7 MR. METTRAUX: Could the witness please be shown Rule 65 ter
8 1D1026 [Realtime transcript read in error"1D0216"], please.
9 Q. Mr. Ostreni, what will appear on your screen is something called
10 an investigator's notes. It's, if you wish, a record of an interview
11 which was carried out by the Office of the Prosecutor on the 7th of July
12 of 2001 with two Macedonians, ethnic Macedonians, and it was conducted by
13 an investigator of the Office of the Prosecutor, Mr. Raatikainen. And the
14 person who was interviewed said the follow: "I and my wife have a summer
15 house at Brezno village. Brezno is located about 60 kilometres from
16 Skopje towards Tetovo near Tearce. There are about 80 houses in the
17 village, none of them belonging to the Macedonian Albanians."
18 Do you know of this village, Mr. Ostreni, does that assist you?
19 A. No, I don't know the village. You helped me by reading this and I
20 would be grateful to help you, but I really don't -- I'm not familiar with
21 this village.
22 Q. But is it correct, Mr. Ostreni, as you have indicated in your
23 evidence and also in various documents on which you have drawn, that your
24 organisation, the NLA was active around the area near Tetovo. Is that
1 A. I need to look at the map where I marked the positions. I cannot
2 give you an answer just by heart. I really don't know where this village
3 is situated.
4 Q. But perhaps you will know where the village of Tearce is. Tearce.
5 A. Can you please repeat the name of the village?
6 Q. Tearce, Mr. Ostreni.
7 A. Tearce, yes.
8 Q. And do you agree that it is located in the vicinity of the town of
9 Tetovo? Do you agree with that? Not far from it.
10 A. Well, there's nothing to agree about on this. The village is
11 where it is. And if it's close to Tetovo, then it is.
12 Q. And do you agree that's an area where your organisation is active,
13 or was active in 2001. Do you agree with that?
14 A. Again, I will have to look at the map. Probably it was in the
15 area of Tetovo, in the mountainous regions.
16 Q. Well, we'll look at the moment in a moment, Mr. Ostreni. But at
17 that stage we have the document in front of us. I'll just read out to you
18 what the interview we have said to the Prosecution.
19 They said that on the 20th of July I heard from my neighbours in
20 Brezno, Andjelko Apostolski and Jovan Saveski that three UCK members
21 dressed in UCK camouflage uniforms had come to the village to inform the
22 people that they had to leave and that if they wouldn't, some other
23 soldiers would come and force them to leave. The three men had spoken in
24 clear Macedonian language. People left the village around that time."
25 And then the interviewee continues: "However, I decided to go
1 back to the village with my wife and a few neighbours on 1st July to see
2 that our houses were all right. Shortly after we had arrived to the
3 village at around 12.30, at least seven or eight soldiers came to the
4 village dressed in new camouflage uniforms."
5 Then in the next paragraph the following is said: "Some of the
6 soldiers entered the village from the direction where Vojislav Milovski
7 had his house, this is about 100 metres from our house. The UCK soldiers
8 beat Vojislav and took him towards his house. In front of our house they
9 order all of us, myself, my wife, Vojislav Milovski and Zivko Nestorovski
10 on our knees. They started to ask questions about weapons, et cetera. I
11 told them that I had a hunting rifle in the house and they went and took
13 He goes on to say: "We were kept on the street on our knees and
14 all the time they were aiming at our heads with their Kalashnikovs.
15 During this time a villager called Boris Magdinovski, who is about 56
16 years old and half deaf, and who happened to walk on a road about 25 below
17 us." Then it goes on to say: "Two of the soldiers shot at him and Boris
18 fell down. One of the soldiers then went to make sure he was dead. Boris
19 did not carry anything with him when he was shot."
20 "After this they forced us to leave the village in Zivko's car,
21 that is a white Yugo. Again, they told us that we could not return to the
22 village again. We wanted to take our things (money, documents) from the
23 house but were not allowed to do so. I also tried to take our donkey with
24 us but we were told we couldn't because the soldiers owned it now."
25 Mr. Ostreni, did anyone in your so-called chain of command within
1 the NLA provided with you information about the activities of members of
2 your organisation in the village of Brezno? Do you ever receive any such
4 A. No.
5 Q. And would you agree that if this incident really happened, this
6 would again be quite contrary to international humanitarian law and quite
7 contrary to the orders which you say Mr. Ahmeti issued to respect those
8 standards. Do you agree with that?
9 A. I agree with that, and if it is the way you are putting it, those
10 persons should be held responsible. But personally I didn't have any
11 information on this.
12 MR. METTRAUX: Would that be a convenient time, Your Honour?
13 JUDGE PARKER: Yes. And we will take the first break now.
14 --- Recess taken at 3.46 p.m.
15 --- On resuming at 4.24 p.m.
16 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Mettraux.
17 MR. METTRAUX: Thank you, Your Honour. Simply for the transcript
18 at page 33 line 13 I was recorded as referring to a document Rule 65 ter
19 0216. I must have misspoken. This is 1026, Rule 65 ter 1D1026. And I'd
20 ask the registry to please bring up Rule 65 ter 388, please.
21 Q. Mr. Ostreni, I promised before break to come back to a map and I
22 will present one to that may help you locate the village of Tearce.
23 Thank you.
24 MR. METTRAUX: And if the registry to focus on the centre of this
25 document, towards the place called Tetovo, please. And if it could be
1 enlarged a little bit more for Mr. Ostreni. Thank you; that's perfect.
2 Q. Mr. Ostreni, can you locate the town or city of Tetovo on this
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. And if you go north from Tetovo, can you locate the village the
7 A. Yes, Tearce.
8 Q. And this map, as you can see contains a number of markings and
9 those markings were made by your colleague Mr. Ahmeti when he was
10 interviewed by the Office of the Prosecutor, and he highlighted the
11 village of Tearce as a place where the NLA was active at the time. Is it
12 within your knowledge that this village was in fact -- that the NLA, I
13 apologise, was in fact active in that village during the year 2001?
14 A. It must have been.
15 Q. Thank you. Moving on from Tearce, is it correct also that another
16 place, Mr. Ostreni, which you have claimed was under the control of the
17 NLA is the area north of Tetovo and which you had coloured in yellow in
18 your map. Do you recall saying that?
19 A. I don't recall it. Six years have passed by and I don't have my
20 map in front of me and I find it difficult to answer.
21 Q. Well, perhaps I can assist you.
22 MR. METTRAUX: Could the witness please be shown exhibit P487.
23 Q. Mr. Ostreni, That will be the map that you've been shown
24 yesterday by the Office of the Prosecutor.
25 MR. METTRAUX: This would be exhibit P487. Thank you.
1 And if the registry could please focus on the left or western side
2 of the map, please, towards the top. Thank you. That should do.
3 Perfect. Thank you very much.
4 Q. Mr. Ostreni, do you recognise the map which you were presented by
5 the Prosecution yesterday?
6 A. Yes, I do.
7 Q. Although the map is a bit too large, I think, for the screen, are
8 you able to identify the city or the town of Tetovo on that map. Can you
9 locate it?
10 A. Yes, I can.
11 Q. And do you agree that above -- well, in fact to the north, to the
12 west and to some extent to the north-east of Tetovo you have coloured in
13 yellow areas which you say were under the control of the NLA as of 13 of
14 June of 2001. Is that correct?
15 A. In order to prove full accuracy, I would kindly ask to you use the
16 maps we gave over to NATO. Because in those maps, you can clearly
17 identify the areas that were under the control of the NLA. Here I see
18 many colours, the places are not marked, the type is very small, so I
19 can't find my bearings here.
20 If Your Honours allow me, I would kindly ask to you show me those
22 Q. Well, perhaps can I help, Mr. Ostreni. I will ask you a just a
23 general question at this stage. Is it correct that the NLA claimed to be
24 in control of a number of villages and areas in the northern part and the
25 western part of Tetovo? Do you agree with that? And I'm not asking about
1 any particular location, but a more general question. Do you agree with
3 A. I will answer also in general terms.
4 All the villages in the north and those that were located within
5 the lines that I marked as the front positions of Brigade 112, 13, 14 and
6 the others, all villages were under the control of respective brigades
7 with the exception of some places having forces of the army and the police
8 of the Republic of Macedonia.
9 I think in this map you can see part of the positions of the army
10 and the police. For example, in Kodra e Dialet [phoen] where Brigade 112
11 was positioned or there is another concentration above Alasec where
12 Brigade 113 was located.
13 But if you ask me a general question, then the general answer
14 would be found in the maps that I submitted on the 5th of July to NATO.
15 Because I -- in this map, I prepared kind of general plan, whereas the one
16 we submitted to NATO was more accurate.
17 Q. Well, I'm grateful for that, Mr. Ostreni. But would you agree
18 that what you call and what your organisation called control of those
19 areas north and west of Tetovo was in fact kept under "your control,",
20 through the ethnic cleansing of ethnic minorities. Is that correct?
21 A. We didn't operate in Kosova, Your Honour, neither in the north nor
22 on the west. You are asking me questions related to Kosova.
23 Q. Sorry, Mr. Ostreni, we must have had a translation issue. I was
24 asking you about the area north and west of Tetovo and I may specify in
25 particular during the month of July of 2001, and the proposition I'm
1 putting to you is that what your control, as you call it, amounted to was
2 the forceful expulsion of other ethnic groups from the area in which you
3 were active. Do you agree with that?
4 A. I do not agree with that. I have reports and documents showing
5 that we have given help and assistance to Macedonian citizens in our
6 hospitals, where we have treated also our soldiers, we have provided
7 medical support to them and we have respected these people. So I cannot
8 agree with you. During that time, in that territory, the state, the
9 government left the population without any medical assistance by
10 withdrawing all of its outpatient clinics, so we had over 500 people in
11 the area covered by Brigade 112 who were supposed to take care and provide
12 medical assistance in general. In that context we treated also Macedonian
13 citizens, elderly people for whom we have documents issued by a Dr. Zul
14 Xhelali who operated in that area and it is not true that anyone forced
15 them to leave the area or cleanse the territory.
16 The NLA dealt only with the Armed Forces and the government, that
17 is, the state, of the Republic of Macedonia but not with the civilians.
18 MR. METTRAUX: Could the witness please be shown Exhibit 1D18,
20 Q. Mr. Ostreni, the documents that I'm about to show you is a special
21 report prepared by the organisation known as the OSCE, and its title is,
22 Special report: Human rights-related complaints related to the ethnic
23 armed Albanian group in the Tetovo area, and this report is from the month
24 of July of 2001. And I will read a number of passages of this report to
1 It says this: "On Friday, July the 20th, the mission human rights
2 specialist spent the day in the Tetovo area continuing to address human
3 rights concerns specifically related to the conduct of the ethnic Albanian
4 armed group in that region. The allegations under investigation related
5 not only to the group's treatment of ethnic Macedonians in the Tetovo area
6 but also towards persons in the ethnic Albanian community who objected to
7 the ethnic armed Albanian group's activities."
8 Then there are three words that I can't read.
9 Mr. Ostreni, I apologise, Mr. Ostreni, I was receiving other
10 information in my earphones.
11 Mr. Ostreni, were you aware or did you receive any report from the
12 members of your organisation who were in Tetovo at the time that such
13 activities were going on in and around Tetovo? Did you receive any such
15 A. What kind of information are you saying? I'm not clear, what kind
16 of information are you referring to?
17 Q. Well, did you receive any information from members of your
18 organisation who were present in or around the Tetovo area in July of
19 2001, that members of the so-called NLA were putting pressure on the
20 civilian population and intimidating members of that population to leave
21 the area. Did you receive any such reports?
22 A. No, I did not. I did not.
23 Q. Well, let me read on from this document.
24 It says this: "The mission specialist confirmed reports from the
25 OSCE's Tetovo area monitors that, even during the cease-fire, the ethnic
1 Macedonian civilian population north of Tetovo is under heavy pressure
2 from the ethnic Albanian armed group to leave. This pressure takes the
3 form of kidnappings, temporary detentions and serious persistent forms of
4 intimidation and restrictions on the movement of civilians attempting to
5 engage in ordinary activities such as agriculture, shopping, and going to
7 And the report goes on to say: "The conduct of the ethnic
8 Albanian armed group is consistent with an attempt to ethnically cleanse
9 that area."
10 So I'm asking you again the same question, Mr. Ostreni. Did you
11 receive any information from the people who you say were further down the
12 chain of command in your organisation about what they were doing and what
13 sort of activities they were carrying on in or around the area of Tetovo
14 in July of 2001?
15 A. I didn't receive any such information to the fact that our units
16 were carrying out such acts. If I did, and what you are saying is true,
17 we should have taken the necessary measures. But, as I said, I didn't
18 have any such information. I'm not saying that I don't trust such reports
19 if they come from such reliable organisation. But I still have to say
20 that I am not able to read it myself either in Albanian or in Macedonian
21 and have a complete idea of the document. You are putting to me only some
22 fragments and I cannot say whether I agreed with it or not, since I don't
23 have an entire view of it in order for me to understand the purpose of
24 preparing such a document.
25 In this case, I would kindly ask Your Honours to take note of the
1 fact that I cannot read all of it and I'm not in a proper position to say
2 yes or no to the questions asked of me.
3 Q. Well, Mr. Ostreni, I will read them as carefully as can I and if I
4 make a mistake in doing so, I hope to be corrected by my colleagues or the
6 Is it the case, Mr. Ostreni, that you received --
7 A. Please, please, I think I am the position of the witness here, and
8 I think it is up to me to say whether I am in a position or not to say yes
9 or no. It -- I should know what it is all about in its entirety to be
10 able to know what the purpose of that document is, not only in this case
11 but also in other cases that you are putting documents to me. I know
12 Albanian and Macedonian, I know a little of English but not more than
13 asking a few simple questions. And you know to -- you want me to say
14 whether I understand it or not, whether I agree with you or not, but I am
15 at a disadvantageous position to comment on such crucial matters.
16 Q. Well, if a question raise any particular difficulty, Mr. Ostreni,
17 please indicate that fact. And I will, as indicated, try to read as
18 carefully as I can.
19 But let me ask you this general question first. Is it the case,
20 Mr. Ostreni, that you had not received any of this information as applies
21 to the area of Tetovo, of Brezno, and of Aracinovo because you were in
22 fact just a place man within the so-called Main Staff of the NLA without
23 any real function. Is that what the situation was at the time?
24 A. Who didn't have any certain factions at that time?
25 Q. Well, I'm putting a proposition to you, Mr. Ostreni, which you can
1 accept or not. But my proposition is, the reason why you did not receive
2 any of that information, about what your colleagues were involved in is
3 because in fact you were kept totally out of the actual functioning of
4 your organisation and merely served to provide a face of military
5 legitimacy to an otherwise criminal organisation.
6 Do you agree with that?
7 A. Your Honour, do I have the right to know who kept me isolated as
8 the Defence counsel is putting it to me?
9 JUDGE PARKER: I think you can deal with adequately, Mr. Ostreni,
10 if it is your view, by saying that you weren't kept isolated in your
11 understanding. That isn't correct. It's being put to you as an idea, and
12 if you don't agree with the idea, you can say so.
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Okay. Then I'm not. I do not
15 MR. METTRAUX:
16 Q. I'm grateful, Mr. Ostreni.
17 MR. METTRAUX: Could the registry please turn to the next page of
18 this document. And if the registry could scroll down a little bit to a
19 paragraph which starts in the middle of the page with the word: "The
20 mission is most likely."
21 Thank you.
22 Q. Mr. Ostreni, I will read another passage from that document to you
23 and then ask you a question about it.
24 The says the following: "As of 23 July, the mission has received
25 credible allegations that 25 persons have disappeared or are allegedly
1 detained by the ethnic Albanian armed group operating in the Tetovo area.
2 This number includes ethnic Macedonian civilians and ethnic Albanians who
3 are serving in the Ministry of Interior as regular officers or as
4 reservists at the time of their disappearance. It does not include three
5 persons held by the ethnic Albanian armed group in Kaduca [sic]."
6 My question is this, Mr. Ostreni: Did you have or did you receive
7 any information from the people in your organisation about 25 persons
8 having been detained or kidnapped in the area of Tetovo, in the course of
9 the month of July of 2001?
10 A. I did not receive any information of that kind during the war;
11 only after the signing of the Ohrid Agreement when it was made public
12 through the media that these persons were being sought. But I did not
13 have any information who carried out this act, who was kidnapped. So in
14 one word, I did not have any such information.
15 Q. Thank you for that.
16 MR. METTRAUX: Could the witness please be shown Rule 65 ter
17 1D1025, please.
18 Q. Mr. Ostreni, this is another document that comes from the
19 organisation known as the OSCE. It's entitled spot report. It's dated
20 the 25th of July of 2001, Skopje. And it covers the period between 10.00
21 a.m. on the 25th of July and 1800 o'clock on the same day.
22 And I will ask the registry, please, to scroll down to the bottom
23 of the document. Thank you.
24 Mr. Ostreni, there's a section in this document that is entitled
25 comment, and the OSCE in that section records the following. I will read
1 it out to you and then ask you a couple of questions.
2 It says this: "Ethnic Albanian armed group, threatening people in
3 both Jegunovce and Vratnica, to the north of Tetovo has been reported and
4 is being taken seriously. In each case, villagers have been reportedly
5 told to leave or risk being shot, and in Vratnica the threat was
6 apparently directed against police remaining in the village to provide
7 protection for the population."
8 And my question to you, Mr. Ostreni, is the same. Did you receive
9 any information from the people in your organisation that this sort of
10 activity was going on in the north of Tetovo in July of 2001 and, in
11 particular, in the two villages that I've mentioned?
12 A. No, I didn't receive information.
13 Q. But you would agree, I hope, that if these actions in fact took
14 place, they would, again, be quite contrary to humanitarian law and the
15 orders which you say Mr. Ahmeti gave to comply with these standards. Do
16 you agree with that?
17 A. I'm not saying that such activities did or did not take place in
18 the locations you mentioned. All I'm saying is that I didn't have any
19 such information.
20 Q. I understand, Mr. Ostreni. And I'm not trying to suggest that you
21 had that information. But would you agree that if these incidents indeed
22 occurred as they are recorded here, this would, again, indicate a
23 violations of the humanitarian standards which you have mentioned earlier
24 and a violation also of the order you say Mr. Ostreni -- Mr. Ahmeti, I
25 apologise, gave to the members of your organisation to respect those
1 standards. Do you agree with that?
2 A. With the initial part, when you said that whether I agreed or not,
3 I do not agree with that. And I again want to point out that I have no
4 information about such activities that you are putting to me.
5 Q. So just to clarify, Mr. Ostreni, and please correct me if I'm
6 misunderstanding what you are saying, are you suggesting that the
7 activities which are recorded in this document do not constitute a
8 violations of humanitarian law and of the order of Mr. Ahmeti, or are you
9 saying something different? And, again, if this incident occurred.
10 A. Again, I would like to point out the fact that you only put to me
11 a fragment of this document. Secondly, if someone acted against the human
12 rights and freedom, of course that is not in conformity with the rules of
13 service of the National Liberation Army and of course, those people should
14 have held responsible, but I didn't have any such information.
15 Q. Thank you. Is it correct, Mr. Ostreni, that as of July of 2001
16 another area which you say was under the -- your control is the area
17 around the village of Matejce. Is that correct?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. And that was an area that was under the so-called control of the
20 114th Brigade led by Mr. Bushi. Is that correct?
21 A. As of 1st of July.
22 Q. Yes, thank you. And Mr. Bushi, Mr. Ostreni, was at the time the
23 so-called commander of the 114th Brigade. Is that correct?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. And he would one of the persons with whom you would have daily
1 phone conversations. Is that correct?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. And during those regular phone conversation, did Mr. Bushi tell
4 that you members of his organisation were ethnically cleansing the area in
5 which he was active. Did he ever tell you that?
6 A. No.
7 MR. METTRAUX: Can the witness please be shown what is Rule 65 ter
8 1D1103, please.
9 Q. Mr. Ostreni, this is, again, a document known as an investigator's
10 notes. It's a document prepared by the Office of the Prosecutor as a
11 result of an interview which the Prosecutor conducted on the 7th of July
12 of 2001 in Macedonia.
13 And I'll read a number of passages to you.
14 The documents records the following: "On the 25th of July, 2001,
15 early in the morning, I was in my house in Matejce together with six other
16 people. About 10 UCK soldiers in camouflage uniforms came to the house
17 and ordered us to leave the house."
18 Then I will go a bit further in the second paragraph. It says
19 this: "One of the UCK men introduced himself, the commander. He said he
20 was coming from Kosovo. He took me to a separate room and started to ask
21 questions about my children, saying that I was lying. He hit me twice in
22 my face and threatened to kill me with his knife. He then took me back to
23 the others.
24 "Later many UCK soldiers, I would say at least 50, came to see us
25 at the mosque, where they had their lunch. They used to curse us and at
1 some stage everybody who was passing came to hit us. We also had to beat
2 each other and if we didn't hit hard enough, the UCK soldiers were beating
4 "One of the soldiers tried to hit my head with the barrel of his
5 Kalashnikov, but I managed to protect my head with my hand and he hit my
6 wrist. I still have serious problems with the wrist. I was also kicked
7 on my stomach and my leg. At some stage, they moved to us a dark room
8 where the soldier also used to come to beat us."
9 And then in the last paragraph this person says this, that: "I
10 don't know the perpetrators. I think that some of the young UCK members
11 were from Matejce but I don't know their names."
12 Mr. Ostreni, during your telephone conversations with Mr. Bushi
13 did he ever tell you that that sort of things was happening in the area in
14 which his so-called brigade was being active?
15 A. No, he didn't.
16 Q. And is it correct also, Mr. Ostreni, that another location in
17 which you -- your organisation was active is the area around the monastery
18 of Lesok. Are you in agreement with that?
19 A. Yes, I think it is included in the map that I gave to NATO.
20 Q. And the leader or commander of the local brigade there was a man
21 by the name of Daut Rexhepi, is that correct, known as Komandant Leka. Is
22 that correct?
23 A. No, he was not a brigade commander. He was a battalion commander.
24 Q. And is he one of the person with whom you would have contacts as
25 part of your function as a Chief of Staff?
1 A. No. No. I maintained contacts with the brigade commander.
2 Q. And could you say who was the commander of that brigade at the
3 time, during the crisis period?
4 A. You mean of 112th Brigade, right, it was Commander Iliri or Isa
6 Q. Thank you for that. And during your conversations you said you
7 had with that person, did he tell you also that the same sort of
8 activities as we have just seen, mistreatment of civilians, expulsions of
9 civilian, intimidation and so on, did he inform you that he was also --
10 the members of his brigade were also carrying out that sort of activities
11 in his area?
12 A. No.
13 MR. METTRAUX: Can the witness please be shown Rule 65 ter 1D1028,
15 Q. Mr. Ostreni, this is, again, a -- the record of an interview taken
16 by the Office of the Prosecutor with a person from Macedonia. It's
17 dated -- in fact, it is undated, but in the text it appears that it was
18 taken in -- I'm sorry, it's May 2003 and the text referred to another
19 meeting in April of 2003, and the person who was interviewed said the
20 following to the Office of the Prosecutor.
21 "On 3 April 2003 Darko Boskoski statement had been taken in Skopje
22 ICTY field office. It followed from the above statement that the person
23 called Boro had been another victim kidnapped by NLA and kept in the same
24 prison as Boskoski."
25 And then in the next paragraph it records the following: "On 7
1 July 2001 at 3.30 p.m. heavy shooting had been taking place in the area of
2 Tetovo. The witness got a phone call from his brother giving him advice
3 to leave the house and meet each other nearby Lesok fuel station. As the
4 witness drove his car in the distance about to 150 metre from his house in
5 Dzepciste, he was stopped by four men in green camouflage colour trousers
6 and black shirts with NLA patch on the sleeves. Three of them were armed
7 with Kalashnikov and one with RPG."
8 And if we can turn to the next page, please. And the person --
9 please, at the -- thank you.
10 Q. The person continues by saying this to the Office of the
11 Prosecutor: "Lada Niva car without licence plate arrived to the scene 15
12 minutes later. The driver of the above car brought Daut Rexhepi aka
13 Komandant Leka. The witness identified him later in TV, later on in TV.
14 Leka addressed the witness, saying, Do you know me? Where are you going?
15 Leka wore camouflage green uniform. The witness had been taken into the
16 house of certain Nevzat, red in colour, built in brick. In the room under
17 the staircase Leka started beating the witness with fists and kicking him
18 with legs. Then they tied up the witness's hands behind the back using
19 plastic handcuffs and they put bag on his head."
20 And then he continues describing the scene of beating to which he
21 was subjected.
22 MR. METTRAUX: And if the registry to turn to page 1D00-8416.
23 Thank you.
24 Q. The person says this: "Then from the house they took him to
25 neighbouring stable where they -- where he remained overnight. The stable
1 built the stones and no livestock inside. Then he was taken to the
2 basement of the NLA HQ, where he was again interviewed and brutally beaten
3 by the photograph whilst the second NLA soldier had been guarding. Then
4 he was taken back to the stable with handcuffed hands behind the back and
5 with the bag on his head. They forced him to walk in the circles to lose
6 orientation. During day-time they came about five people. They tore the
7 victim's blue shirt and beat him with cable on the naked body." And it
8 says that "Darko Boskoski later found the shirt, as he had been kept in
9 the same stable."
10 "Then one the offenders threatened him with gun and with knife.
11 The victim was also badly beaten that he could not see through swollen
12 eyes and sometimes fainted."
13 Mr. Ostreni, is it -- did you receive any information about
14 mistreatment carried out by members of your organisation in the area
15 around Lesok during your conversation with so-called commander of your
17 A. No, I didn't.
18 Q. Are you aware of any measures that were taken by the so-called
19 commander to punish the people who had been involved in this incident?
20 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Mettraux, that question blatantly assumes the
21 correctness. We've been sitting, listening for some time to interviews in
22 which people suggest things have happened.
23 MR. METTRAUX: I will rephrase it, Your Honour.
24 JUDGE PARKER: Let it be clear that's not proof that those things
25 have happened.
1 MR. METTRAUX: Yes.
2 JUDGE PARKER: You put it to the witness simply to get the answer
3 that he knew nothing of it at the time. The impression is created that
4 these things are fact. Now, let it be clear so you --
5 MR. METTRAUX: Your Honour, my question --
6 MR. METTRAUX: -- won't be misled and these listening are not
7 misled that these are not established facts.
8 Thank you.
9 MR. METTRAUX: Thank you, Your Honour.
10 Q. Mr. Ostreni, assuming that this events occur and, as indicated by
11 Judge Parker, this is simply the statement of a witness taken by the
12 Office of the Prosecutor, but assuming that this incident occur, would you
13 agree that this would be contrary, again, to the standard of humanitarian
14 law that you said your organisation complied with. Is that correct?
15 A. Of course it would be contrary, and I'm really surprised why
16 measures were not taken against those who carried out these acts.
17 Q. Is it correct, Mr. Ostreni, that in fact your organisation,
18 earlier on in its existence, had made it quite clear what its real purpose
19 was and its real purpose was to create areas that would be under the sole
20 control of the NLA. Is that correct?
21 A. I think that you're doing injustice to me by posing this
22 question. The brigades were formed from smaller group, squads, platoons,
23 companies. Later on battalions were formed and the brigade gets its
24 shape. And by expanding it gradually establishes its authority in the
25 area where it's operating. As a territory or area of responsibility of a
1 brigade, I'm saying is that they had this task to perform, to go out to
2 their positions, starting from the squads up to the brigade level,
3 because, for example, if there are ten persons, they can spread to 150
4 metres. If we're talking about a brigade with three battalions, then it
5 would cover a territory of 17 kilometres. So this is an area under
6 battalion, under a brigade, and if you're asking me about these things,
7 I've provided you with maps which contain the positions and the tasks that
8 were issued.
9 Q. Well, perhaps my question was not so clear, Mr. Ostreni.
10 A. This is how I understood your questions.
11 Q. And I will try to rephrase it in a different way.
12 Is it correct, Mr. Ostreni, that your claim in this courtroom and
13 in your statement that the NLA's purpose and goal was to promote the human
14 rights of the ethnic Albanians in Macedonia was just a facade whereas in
15 fact your goal and as originally stated by your organisation was to keep
16 and acquire areas that would be under the control of your organisation.
17 Is that correct?
18 A. That cannot be correct, because you missed the goal of taking a
19 certain area under control. The goal of the NLA is clearly and explicitly
20 explained in communique number 6 that we discussed early and in the
21 memorandum, as well as in all other communiques that we issued. The
22 demands of the NLA were addressed in a way so that pressure is made on the
23 state and the state organs sit and discuss and guarantee the rights and
24 freedoms of the Albanians in the Republic of Macedonia, as well as members
25 of other ethnic communities.
1 These are the goals of the NLA, while everything else that you are
2 saying and putting to me as alleged goals of the NLA, that is your
4 Q. Well, could you perhaps explain how the ethnic cleansing of
5 non-ethnic Albanians from particular areas would promote the rights and
6 freedom of the Albanians in the Republic of Macedonia?
7 A. I believe your question is a little bit provocative. The National
8 Liberation Army calls all the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia as
9 such, citizens of the Republic of Macedonia, and its goal then and now was
11 The problem of the Macedonian population moving from their area,
12 even in the view of the representative of the Macedonian army expressed in
13 his book was that in that time, a propaganda was launched which got a
14 contrary effect, saying that in fact the army was not able to protect the
15 Macedonian population where it lived. Then, the distribution of weapons
16 by the police to the civilians, with a purpose of them, the civilians,
17 defending themselves, you can find proof to what you're -- of what I'm
18 saying in the book of the late General that was leading the Macedonian
19 army. In this book, he describes how he was summoned by the president of
20 the state to hear from the citizens of Tetovo how the police distributed
21 them with weapons and ammunition and how the police told them that these
22 weapons and ammunition was for their self-defence.
23 All this happened before the 25th of July. Please, I might not be
24 very precise on the date because I don't remember all of them. For these
25 reasons, on the 25th and 26th July, in the evening the NLA went and
1 collected weapons that were distributed to the civilians in these villages
2 by the police. This is all written in the book written by the late
4 Further, the academy of science, with its silent position that
5 Macedonia should be partitioned and raising the issue of changing the
6 population, this all caused distrust and insecurity among the population
7 and gave way to displacement of the population.
8 So there were a series of activities that resulted in insecurity,
9 because it sent a signal that those citizens would not be safe, and that's
10 why they, the citizens, left. This is very well described in the book
11 that I just mentioned.
12 These are the reasons, in addition to the fact that a war was
13 going on and combat was going on in areas where all citizens of Macedonia
14 lived, not only Macedonians and Albanians. So these were signals saying
15 that the army was not ready and able to defend its population and that's
16 why the police distributed weapons.
17 I apologise, Your Honours, for not being brief on this issue, but
18 I just felt that I needed to clarify.
19 Q. Thank you, Mr. Ostreni. And I think you've referred to what you
20 said were the stated goals of the NLA in a communique known as communique
21 number 6. Do you that agree that prior to communique number 6 there had
22 been at least two previous communiques. Is that correct?
23 A. As I already stated, I arrived from the United States on the 26th
24 of February. I was on the plane on that date. I went to the KPC in
25 Kosova where I worked and I wasn't following closely and fully what was
1 going on prior to 1st of March, before I joined and before I met with
2 Mr. Ali Ahmeti.
3 Q. But surely, Mr. Ostreni, as a so-called Chief of Staff of the
4 so-called NLA, you would have known about communique number 4. Do you
5 agree with that?
6 A. No.
7 Q. Well, perhaps I will help jog your memory a bit.
8 Do you recall that towards the end of January of 2001 a group of
9 men who called themselves the NLA at the time, attacked a police station
10 in the village which we've been talking about earlier, the village of
12 Are you aware of that?
13 A. As I stated earlier, during this time I was staying with my
14 daughter in the United States. I left all my work aside, especially this
15 side. I was not involved in this at that time. I was Chief of Staff of
16 the KPC. I went to the States for a visit to have a rest. All my family
17 is there. I have relatives on my side and on my wife's side. So
18 basically I didn't show interest in these matters, because I went to the
19 states just to have a rest.
20 Q. But surely when you arrived in March of 2001, Mr. Ahmeti or
21 someone else in that organisation would have shown you communique number
22 4, which took responsibility for the attack in Tearce. Isn't that
24 A. No, I wasn't told this, and I didn't ask either.
25 Q. And surely someone in your organisation would have told that you
1 in this particular communique of the end of January of 2001, your
2 organisation referred to the Macedonians as the occupiers. Did anyone
3 tell you that?
4 A. You're claiming that this is what happened, that he told me that,
5 and I'm claiming on my part that did he not tell me that.
6 Q. Isn't the truth, Mr. Ostreni, that your communiques were just the
7 flavour of the month that you adapted with a view to increase or in fact
8 to acquire some support from the international community by always
9 changing your goals and stated purposes? Isn't that the truth?
10 A. The question is not clear to me. Could you please repeat it.
11 Q. Yes, I apologise. Isn't it correct that the real purpose of your
12 organisation was stated in that communique, communique number 4, and that
13 what came afterwards, including communique number 6, which we've -- you've
14 referred to, is just a public relation exercise by Mr. Ahmeti, in
15 particular, to make your organisation look like a legitimate army,
16 quote/unquote. Do you agree with that?
17 A. No, I don't agree with that. I abide by communique number 6 and
18 the following communiques, because at that time I was close, I was in
19 Kosovo, and I started to work with Mr. Ali Ahmeti. Whatever happened
20 before communique number 6, I'm not familiar with that part, because I was
21 not in Europe.
22 MR. METTRAUX: Your Honour, simply for the record the communique
23 number 4 may be found in the so-called "White Book" of the Ministry of
24 Interior. It is exhibit P45.
25 Q. Mr. Ostreni, do you recall that yesterday you suggested in this
1 courtroom that one of the purpose of the NLA or one of its goals was to
2 see a democracy arise in Macedonia similar to that, and I think you
3 mentioned Switzerland and Belgium. Do you recall that?
4 A. Yeah, but you're using my statement in a different context. What
5 I said is the following. We need -- needed international intervention,
6 international assistance in carrying out negotiations with the Macedonian
7 government. This is stated in the memorandum and I've made the statement
8 when we discussed the memorandum. However, as we were not in a position
9 to reach agreement between the sides, we need the assistance and the
10 intervention of the international community. The development of the
11 situation proves that we received this intervention and this assistance
12 and through this assistance we managed to sign the Ohrid Agreement, the
13 mobilisation and put an end to the war, and to create the conditions for
14 living as a free and equal citizens in the Republic of Macedonia. This is
15 what I said.
16 Q. Well, I'm grateful for the clarification, Mr. Ostreni, but I will
17 stay for a second with the example of Belgium which you gave yesterday,
18 and you may be aware from the news these days that some political problems
19 in Belgium and lingering tensions between its communities. Have you been
20 following that in the newspaper?
21 A. Again, I think you have something else on your mind.
22 The example of Belgium and Switzerland was mentioned by us in
23 order to show that in Macedonia, just like Belgium and Switzerland and
24 other western European countries an agreement can be reached, co-existence
25 can function in conditions of equality between the citizens, in conditions
1 when Macedonia would be the wealth and property, not only of the ethnic
2 Macedonians but of all its citizens, when Macedonia would be a
3 multi-ethnic state and not a single ethnic state. In this context, I
4 mentioned Holland and example of Switzerland but only as an explanation to
5 the memorandum.
6 Q. Well, thank you for that, but would you agree with that,
7 Mr. Ostreni, that if tomorrow a group of disgruntled and violent
8 French-speaking Belgian were to blow up police station and kill police
9 officers, they would be arrested as criminals. Do you agree with that?
10 A. I don't know why you're asking me about this state. You can ask
11 me questions about my state. I'm witness for that purpose here and by
12 profession I'm not an attorney.
13 To satisfy your question, I'm only here to speak about things that
14 I know, I saw, or heard. It is not up to me to reach conclusions what
15 would happen in each and every individual case. I'm not competent for
16 those issues. So I would kindly ask you to refer to me as a witness, not
17 as an expert.
18 Q. Well, if -- I will try to formulate it in such a way that I'm not
19 asking you a legal judgment, Mr. Ostreni. That's fair enough of you.
20 But would you agree that it would only be logical that if,
21 tomorrow, someone in Belgium shot and murdered a police officer, he or she
22 would be arrested as a criminal. Do you agree with that?
23 A. I really don't know what you're asking me about. You're asking me
24 about Belgium, if someone kills someone else. There's a judicial system
25 in place there, and measures are taken pursuant to that judicial system.
1 And I really am not competent to speak on behalf of the honourable state
2 as Belgium as to what would happen to someone in the case that you
3 described, I'm not here to testify about Belgium.
4 Q. But perhaps can you agree with that. That if the person who shot
5 that policeman had sat for a few hours at his or her computer and typed up
6 a number of rules and regulation, he or she would also be likely to end up
7 before the -- what you call the judicial system of Belgium. Do you agree
8 with that?
9 A. Well, you're saying so. Personally I'm not an attorney.
10 JUDGE PARKER: Ms. Regue, may I ask to you wait a moment.
11 The Chamber has to intervene, Mr. Mettraux, to suggest that it
12 cannot for the world see how it is going to be helped by such a grossly
13 general and incomplete example as you are giving based on a theoretical
14 situation in another country. We've got to look at the facts as they
15 existed in Macedonia at the relevant time, all the facts and then deal
16 with some very difficult factual and legal questions.
17 MR. METTRAUX: I will move on back to the Macedonian, since the
18 witness has indicated that.
19 JUDGE PARKER: Yes. Now, I did interrupt Ms. Regue or not give
20 her a chance to speak.
21 MS. REGUE: No, Your Honours. I was going to say something
22 similar such as the terms you were.
23 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
24 MR. METTRAUX:
25 Q. Mr. Ostreni, let's go back to Macedonia then. And you indicated,
1 I believe, that you had given specific instructions or -- instructions I
2 think was your term to the members of your organisation to respect
3 religious buildings. Is that correct?
4 A. I already said that citizens along with their properties should be
6 Speaking of religious sites, we shouldn't even discuss it all
7 because we Albanians pray to God in three ways, as Catholics, as Orthodox,
8 and as Muslims. We marry with other religious communities like with
9 Orthodox and Christians and there is harmony, religious harmony prevails
10 among Albanians in general. Not a single Albanian would have raised his
11 or her hand. If he did, he would lose the respect of his family, his
12 circle of relatives and friends so if he did that against some religious
13 site. Even now in Macedonia, in Tetovo and other countries -- other
14 places, Albanians help Macedonians, even donating money to repair the
15 churches. I would kindly ask you to understand our idea of preserving
16 religious facilities. Anyone who was caused damage to such a facility,
17 that would run counter to the morale of his family and Albanians in
18 general. And that would be contrary to the rules of NLA.
19 Q. Thank you for that. Did you ever become aware or did you ever
20 receive information from the members of your organisation that these
21 orders of Mr. Ostreni [sic] were -- Ahmeti and -- or the instructions that
22 you gave were being ignored and that in fact religious facilities were
23 being disrespected by members of your organisation. Did you ever receive
24 that information?
25 A. No, I did not receive such an information. I did receive
1 information that mosques were torched. Albanian families were damaged
2 in -- like in Manastir, in Prilep, that a large number of mosques were
3 burned like the one in Prilep. I received such information, but I regret
4 to say that the information was to the effect that Albanian religious
5 sites were being constantly damaged.
6 We can prove this whenever you want. You can visit them.
7 Q. So, in answer to my question, you received no information that
8 members of your organisation had been involved in causing damage to any
9 such religious properties. Is that correct?
10 A. I didn't, until the end of 2001, after the agreement and so on. I
11 did not receive any information about the damages.
12 The only information I received after the war through the media
13 and the television was that I have seen, and I'm sorry to say this, that
14 in Matejce there were some markings -- graffiti saying NLA, but that can
15 be -- that could have been done by anyone. This is the information I have
16 but I didn't receive it true the chain of command during the time the NLA
17 brigade was active. Only -- it was only after it was [indiscernible]
18 liberated, the journalists entered it, it was then that I learned that the
19 word NLA was written on a fresco but I learned it from the journalists.
20 MR. METTRAUX: Can the witness please be shown Rule 65 ter 1D828,
21 please. Thank you.
22 Q. Mr. Ostreni, this is another one of these reports prepared by the
23 OSCE. This one is dated the 29th of August of 2001, and it comes from the
24 archives of the OSCE.
25 MR. METTRAUX: And I would like to ask the registry to go to page
1 1D00-7226, please. Thank you.
2 Q. Mr. Ostreni, I will read to you what the report notes under
3 paragraph 3, please. Thank you.
4 It says this: "The effect of the destruction by internal
5 explosion of the Lesok monastery to the north of Tetovo was widely
6 condemned, including by the OSCE. A feared violent backlash did not
7 occur, although public anger and frustration was evident. The ethnic
8 Albanian armed group issued a press release condemning the attack and
9 disavowing involvement."
10 Mr. Ostreni, did you receive any information from anyone in your
11 organisation that someone from the NLA had been involved in that
13 A. I did not, in answer to your question, but at the time that this
14 very bad incident occurred, about which we expressed our indignation then
15 and now, was the time when after the 26th of August, we had a great
16 problem regarding the collection and voluntarily surrender of weapons.
17 I was asked at that time by the journalist who asked me the same
18 question that you did and my reply to them was: If we had to damage such
19 a facility like the Lesok one, we would have done that at the time when
20 the fighting was going on and not at the time when we are trying to hand
21 in the first contingent of weapons and continue with the others and move
22 on to peace. So this is a very bad thing, something which shouldn't have
23 been done, but I think that it was - and it is - a duty of the competent
24 bodies to investigate into that and find out who the perpetrator was. We
25 would all be very happy for the perpetrator to be brought to justice.
1 Q. Did you ever become aware that members of your organisation, the
2 NLA, used religious buildings, including mosques as facilities for
3 military purposes?
4 A. I was not directly there during the wartime to come to such a
5 conclusion. But the brigade was in well-known positions, the positions
6 which were open to anyone until late. Everybody could see where they
7 were. The members of the NLA wanted to be far, to be positioned far in
8 places where they couldn't be hit by the shelling, by the military and the
9 police. So they couldn't stay, couldn't be positioned in such facilities
10 that you are putting to me.
11 Q. Let me read what the report of the OSCE goes on to say. It's at
12 the bottom of the same page. It says this: "Monitors noted that in
13 Tetovo the ethnic Albanian armed group placed a firing position in the
14 immediate vicinity of the historic painted mosque and dug trenches and
15 opened" - if can you turn to the next page - "And opened firing portals in
16 the wall of the historic Muslim Teke. Exchanges of fire in both of these
17 locations could have severely damaged the sites."
18 Mr. Ostreni, did you ever receive information from members of your
19 organisation that they had in fact placed a firing position in the
20 immediate vicinity of the painted mosque near Tetovo and opened firing
21 portals in the walls of the historic Muslim Teke? Is that information
22 that was given to you during the crisis?
23 A. Can you be more explicit? Do you mean one or two such
25 Q. Well, I can ask you this. Were you aware of either of the
1 incidents which I've read out to you, either the Muslim Teke or the
2 incident related to the painted mosque?
3 A. So you are implying that we are talking of a mosque and the Teke.
4 These are two different buildings or facilities. I knew that the unit of
5 Tetovo Brigade with the consent of the father who worked in the Teke
6 placed a firing position, because nearby at the graveyard was a police
8 Q. And you agree, I hope, that this would again be contrary to
9 humanitarian law and also to the instructions which you say were sent down
10 the chain of command. Do you agree with that?
11 A. I couldn't make an assessment of that. I'm not a lawyer. The
12 important thing is that that position operated there for a period of time
13 and it was placed with the approval or the consent of the father who was
14 responsible for the Teke.
15 Q. Thank you.
16 MR. METTRAUX: Can the witness please be shown --
17 JUDGE PARKER: Well, I think we may need to have the break,
18 Mr. Mettraux.
19 We will resume at quarter past.
20 --- Recess taken at 5.43 p.m.
21 --- On resuming at 6.16 p.m.
22 JUDGE PARKER: Yes, Mr. Mettraux.
23 MR. METTRAUX: Thank you, Your Honour.
24 Q. Mr. Ostreni, when we left off, I was asking you about military
25 facilities placed in the vicinity or inside religious building and I would
1 like to follow up on that.
2 Would you agree that there was no good military reason for the NLA
3 to place those military facilities close to religious buildings but that
4 in fact the reason for you to do so was to use any reaction by the
5 Macedonian forces for propaganda purposes. Is that correct?
6 A. No, that is not correct. And I don't know whether there was any
7 such military position in the painted mosque, because it was a matter of a
8 squad. It was a very low hierarchy for me to know. But I know that the
9 leader of the Teke who is called Father, in agreement with the NLA unit,
10 allowed them to enter the yard, and as I heard, it's simply that I heard
11 it, they entered the yard in order to protect it from the police force and
12 the army forces because they feared that they might destroy this
13 particular one, as they had destroyed other religious buildings.
14 MR. METTRAUX: Can the witness please be shown Exhibit 1D19,
16 Q. Mr. Ostreni, this is, again, a document prepared by the OSCE and
17 it was given to us by the Office of the Prosecutor. And the title of this
18 document is: Human rights developments and it covers the period 1st
19 August 2001 to the 15th of August of 2001.
20 I'm going ask of you a few questions of this document, Mr.
21 Ostreni, but I'd like at this stage to turn to the third page of that
22 document. That would be 1D00-1606. Thank you.
23 And, Mr. Ostreni, I'm going to read to you a paragraph from the
24 report of the OSCE that started with the words: "Two further
25 observations." I will read that to you and then I will ask you a question.
1 "Two further observations are also important. There has been a
2 clear tendency on the part of the Tetovo NLA to use religious and historic
3 sites as military installations or bases of operations. Military
4 emplacements are also located in positions where they are of fire includes
5 religious and historic sites. There is particular concern for the painted
6 mosque and the Teke monastery. The misuse of religious sites as military
7 installations must be condemned. It should be noted that in the case of
8 the Teke, it appears the NLA was attempting to force the Macedonian forces
9 to fire on the site for propaganda purposes."
10 Mr. Ostreni, do you agree that contrary to what you suggested of
11 the authorisation of the local father, what the member of your
12 organisation were doing with the Teke is to shoot from the monastery, in
13 the hope that the Macedonian authorities would fire back with a view for
14 you to then use that for propaganda purposes. Do you agree with that?
15 A. No, I do not agree with that. Because it was not only the Teke
16 that was attacked by the army and the police forces but all the -- all the
17 mosques in the area where Brigade 113 was located and they have caused --
18 inflicted great damage on them. I think that the Father of the Teke aimed
19 at preventing the forces from coming near it. We sat down with him at a
20 cafe, Ali Ahmeti was there and some other friends, and he said that he was
21 very happy that his Teke was not damaged but we, too, were very happy.
22 This was a portal at a very further wall -- farthest wall of the Teke
23 which was across the police point.
24 Q. So your evidence, Mr. Ostreni, is that the statement made by the
25 OSCE about what they understood to be happening in or around the Teke was
2 A. I didn't understand that. Can you please repeat it?
3 Q. Yes. The statement that I've read from the report of the OSCE,
4 you disagree with the conclusions that I've read from you for that -- for
5 you from that report. Is that correct?
6 A. I agree only with the concern raised by this institution but not
7 with the particular part that you are putting to me, because I don't
8 understand this document. I haven't read this document myself. So what
9 you put to me, namely that the NLA entered there to provoke fire from the
10 Macedonian forces, with this part, I do not agree.
11 Q. Thank you. And you've also indicated earlier today that one of
12 the prohibitions that was made clear in your instructions to members of
13 your organisation was the prohibition on sexual violence. Is that
15 A. Yes, that is correct. That applies to all honest citizens.
16 Nobody would do that.
17 Q. And did you ever receive reports from members of your organisation
18 that actually members of the NLA had been involved in such crimes?
19 A. No, I did not. But if you allow me, Your Honour, to explain
20 something in this regard, the NLA and in real terms Brigade 112 took
21 measures to close down all the facilities where there were such, where
22 women worked there.
23 So the NLA did the opposite of what are you putting to me.
24 MR. METTRAUX: Could the registry please turn to the previous page
25 of this document. That would be 1D00-1605.
1 Q. And, Mr. Ostreni, I will read to you a passage that starts from a
2 rather large paragraph in the middle of that page with the word "the most
3 disturbing indication." I will read it out to you.
4 It says this: "The most disturbing indication of a decline in NLA
5 discipline and professionalism is the incident on August 7 in which five
6 ethnic Macedonian construction workers were kidnapped whilst working on
7 the new highway between Skopje and Tetovo. Although the mission
8 successfully encouraged local villagers to let these innocent civilians
9 go, later that night, their treatment during the 15 hours they were held
10 by the NLA was shocking. According to interviews with men and the
11 mission's observations of their condition upon their release, 25 to 30
12 uniformed members of the NLA not only severely beat them with shovels but
13 also mutilated several of the men's backs with knife, forced a number of
14 to commit oral sodomy on each other and sexually abused at least two of
15 the men with objects. According to the released men the NLA unit that
16 seized and abused them was comprised of ethnic Albanians from Tetovo and a
17 local village and under a local commander."
18 Mr. Ostreni, this incident which is often referred to as the
19 Mavrovo rural workers case, is it something which members of your
20 organisation brought to your attention at the time when it happened?
21 A. No.
22 MR. METTRAUX: Can the registry please turn to the next page,
24 I'd like to read another passage from the same document, Mr.
25 Ostreni. This is the last -- I'm sorry, the last-but-one paragraph which
1 starts with the word "finally it should be noted," and I will read it out
2 to you.
3 "Finally it should be noted that investigation of human rights
4 related incidents is complicated by the problem that the NLA is applying
5 pressure to its own people and must be considered as a possible source of
6 human rights abuses to ethnic Albanians, including beatings and murders."
7 Mr. Ostreni, was any such case of members of your organisation
8 applying pressure on to ethnic Albanians, including beatings and murders,
9 ever brought to your attention by members of your organisation?
10 A. No.
11 Q. Is it correct, Mr. Ostreni, that as a high-ranking members of the
12 so-called NLA, you also followed the statements and view which were
13 expressed by the international community about your organisation. Is that
15 A. Until we surrendered weapons, I had contacts when I did have such
16 contacts with NATO. And I could not follow up every developments. I was
17 very, very busy. The document you are putting to me, I don't even see the
18 date. If you want to help me.
19 Q. The date, sir, that appears on the top of the document is the 17th
20 August of 2001, which is apparently the date at which it was faxed but the
21 document covers the period between the 1st and the 15th of August of
23 But staying for a second on the issue, you've indicated that you
24 had contacts with NATO, so I will focus on NATO.
25 A. At this time that you are putting to me, I was working to prepare
1 the plans on the surrender of weapons, to define the locations where such
2 weapons should be collected. I took care that soldiers didn't leave
3 without handing in the weapons, because it was a time when the Ohrid
4 Framework Agreement was signed, and I was afraid that the soldiers might
5 misunderstand it that the war was over, why should I remain here, not go
6 home, why should I remain in difficult conditions when I could go home.
7 So these were concerns that I had to deal with at that time.
8 There were about 5.000 soldiers involved of whom, as I said, we had to
9 collect 3.383 weapons. 3.856 -- 57 we collected, and to do that, we had
10 to do a lot of work. And this is where I concentrated most of my efforts
11 without neglecting the efforts made by other organisations, be them NGOs
12 or other government organisations.
13 Q. Well, thank you for that, but, Mr. Ostreni, did you become aware
14 during your earlier meeting, you say with NATO at a time when you were not
15 busy surrendering weapons that they had asked to you stop intimidating
16 civilians and ask you to leave the village which you occupied. Do you
17 recall any such statement being made by NATO?
18 A. You are using terms which NATO didn't use. You are saying
19 villages that were occupied by the NLA. You cannot occupy your own
20 country, sir, but the NLA had established its authority over these
21 villages in the agreement signed between the Chief of Staff of the NLA and
22 representatives of NATO. We agreed on the proposal made by Peter Feith
23 and Ali Ahmeti that our units not remain inside the villages. And in
24 fact, they were in between, in areas in between the villages, and we took
25 all the measures to remain where it was allowed to be, based on the
1 agreement approved by Peter Feith and Ali Ahmeti, and then of course they
2 agreed -- had another agreement reached with the representatives of the
3 army and the police, which was signed on the 5th of July.
4 Q. Well, we will come back, Mr. Ostreni, on the Prizren agreement, as
5 it is known, as well as the cease-fire agreement on the 5th of July.
6 But for the time I would like to show you Rule 65 ter 1D891,
8 Mr. Ostreni, this is a document, an official document that comes
9 from NATO. It is a statement by the Secretary-General of NATO at the time
10 was Mr. George Robertson concerning developments in the former Yugoslav
11 Republic of Macedonia and it is dated the 11th of June of 2001.
12 And I'd like to read to you the first paragraph of that document.
13 It says this: "I strongly condemn the latest actions by extremist groups
14 in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and denounce their threats of
15 further attacks. The escalation of violence cannot bring a positive
16 outcome. I urge extremists to end their fighting, leave the villages they
17 are occupying, and cease the intimidation of innocent civilians. Violence
18 does not serve justice, nor does it contribute to the establishment of a
19 better and fair society."
20 Mr. Ostreni, were you aware of this call being made by the
21 Secretary-General of NATO on the 11th of June of 2001 for you to stop the
22 intimidation of civilians and for to you leave the village which you were
23 occupying. Can you recall that statement?
24 A. No, I don't know whether it's written here, of the civilians.
25 Can you explain to me where is this word "the civilians"? Maybe
1 it will be easier for me to comment on it.
2 Q. I will read it again to you, Mr. Ostreni, which is the third
3 sentence of that first paragraph, and I will read it more slowly perhaps.
4 It says this: "I urge extremists to end their fighting, leave the
5 villages they are occupying, and cease the intimidation of innocent
7 Now do you recall the Secretary-General of NATO making that call
8 on -- on you, on the 11th of June of 2001?
9 A. I know that he made several statements and that he was committed
10 to the solution of this issue, so I have to take your word for that,
11 because, as I said, I cannot read it in my own language. So I presume it
12 is what you are putting to me and I'm sure that Mr. Solana was held in
13 high esteem by us. He sought solutions to the crisis and when later on he
14 held news conferences he spoke about putting an end to the conflict but he
15 doesn't refer to us anymore as criminals. Maybe there is another
16 document that shows what I'm saying, where he says that: We call them
17 armed groups, which, in resolution 90/20 of the European commission, the
18 NLA was no longer called armed groups, but armed formations, and I believe
19 this is what he called us.
20 In our statements, public statements, we have always declared that
21 we accept the instructions and advice of the international community, but
22 on the condition that our freedoms and rights are fulfilled in the
23 Republic of Macedonia. This is the way we went, until we reached the
24 signing of the Ohrid Framework Agreement on the 13th of August, so I
25 believe what you are saying to me, that Solana has said what you put to me
1 he has.
2 Q. I believe it would be Mr. Robertson who said that as
3 Secretary-General of NATO. But do you agree, Mr. Ostreni, that a month
4 and a half later the same organisation, NATO, was still calling upon you
5 to stop the intimidation and kidnapping of civilians. Do you recall that?
6 A. No, I don't recall that. It is impossible for me to recall every
7 single detail, but of course you're most welcome to refresh my memory.
8 MR. METTRAUX: Could the witness please be shown Rule 65 ter
9 1D897, please.
10 Q. Mr. Ostreni, this is, again, a -- this time a press statement by
11 the Secretary-General of NATO, still at the time Mr. Robertson, and this
12 one is dated the 24th of July of 2001.
13 And in the first paragraph it says: "Maintaining the cease-fire
14 in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is of prime importance. I
15 urge both parties to stick to their commitments of 5 July. Provocations
16 and encroachments are unacceptable and must stop. In particular, I call
17 on the so-called NLA to revert to their position at the time of their
18 cease-fire undertakings. They must show respect for the safety of the
19 civil population. Intimidation and kidnapping must end and the
20 Jezince-Tetovo road must be free from roadblock."
21 Mr. Ostreni, does that help refresh your memory as of 24th of July
22 of 2001 that Mr. Robertson was still calling on you to stop the
23 intimidation and kidnapping of members of the civilian population?
24 A. The NATO General-Secretary of course assisted us with his
25 recommendations and instructions as I see it here and to my recollection,
1 I will again refer to the book of Pande Petrovski. It is 24th of July, 18
2 days after the proclamation of cease-fire. During this period of time,
3 weapons were distributed to Macedonian citizens along the Tetovo-Jezince
4 road and that's why the NLA entered on the 25th and on the 25th and 26th
5 Ali Ahmeti give an order and insisted that members who had entered in
6 those villages should return.
7 There is information in the book of Pande Petrovski, a person who
8 led the war at that time, that this is a period during which such
9 provocations were made with the distribution of weapons, and that's why it
10 was necessary for Mr. Robertson to made these recommendation in order to
11 follow the agreement between us and the forces of the ARM and the police.
12 Q. Mr. Ostreni, I'm grateful for your answer. You've already given
13 that indication on a number of occasion earlier.
14 But my question was more limited in scope, and the question was
15 whether, on the 24th or on or around the 24th of July of 2001 in any case,
16 you were aware of calls made by the Secretary-General of NATO to the
17 effect that your organisation should stop the intimidation and kidnapping
18 of members of the civilian population. Were you aware of that call?
19 A. Of this call, yes. But this does not show who kidnapped whom. We
20 were not in a position to undertake any measures against a person just on
21 basis of this communique. In general, things like this can happen in a
22 war, like our war, between the NLA and the armed forces of the Republic of
23 Macedonia, and that's why the NATO Secretary-General made these
24 recommendations and instructions so that both sides were aware of these
25 issues and become more careful in the future.
1 Q. And I do take your answer to suggest that no one member of the NLA
2 was punished for intimidating or kidnapping members of the civilian
3 population in the year of 2001. Is that correct?
4 A. This is what I wanted to say, because I don't want to express
5 myself in advance, I'm waiting for your questions first. But as the
6 situation developed there were certain provocations instigated by the then
7 government of the Republic of Macedonia.
8 Q. I'm grateful for that, Mr. Ostreni. But the question was slightly
9 different and I will try to reformulate it.
10 In your previous answer you said that this -- commenting on the
11 document you said: This does not show who kidnapped whom, we were not in
12 a position to undertake any measures against a person just on the basis of
13 his communique.
14 My question, follow-up question was, whether, to your knowledge,
15 any member of your organisation, the National Liberation Army, was ever
16 arrested and punished for acts of intimidation and kidnapping of members
17 of the civilian population to the extent that this is within your
19 MS. REGUE: Your Honour.
20 JUDGE PARKER: Ms. Regue.
21 MS. REGUE: I think that the witness said that he didn't know who
22 kidnapped whom, basically, so first I think that the knowledge should be
23 established whether he is aware of these facts and secondly, if he is
24 aware of the facts, whether disciplinary measures were taken.
25 MR. METTRAUX: I understood the witness to have said that he had
1 knowledge of the call having been made.
2 JUDGE PARKER: I have a very different understanding of his
3 evidence from you, Mr. Mettraux. I understood him to be saying that this
4 started by distribution of arms by the Macedonian government forces, which
5 then led to certain incidents which then led to Ali Ahmeti calling on the
6 people to withdraw -- his people to withdraw from those incidents.
7 So perhaps you'd better explore just what it is.
8 MR. METTRAUX: Yes.
9 Q. Mr. Ostreni, did you have any knowledge of members of your
10 organisation having been involved in cases of intimidation and kidnapping
11 of members of the civilian population?
12 A. No.
13 Q. Is it correct, Mr. Ostreni, that during the conflict, when you
14 were caught red-handed - and I mean you not personally but your
15 organisation or members of the organisation you were a member of - were
16 caught committing a crime, you tried to justify it on the basis that it
17 was justified from a military point of view. Do you recall any such
19 A. You were talking in general terms. You're not naming a crime. It
20 is only a pronoun that doesn't show much in itself.
21 Q. Well, perhaps I'll ask you this, then. Do you know what happened
22 in the town or the village of Vejce on the 28th of April of 2001?
23 A. Not in Vejce, but at the location called Tepisate, which is
24 between Vejce and Selce villages.
25 Q. I am grateful for the specification, Mr. Ostreni. And is it
1 correct that what happened on this location is that a vehicle of the army
2 was ambushed by members of your organisations and that after the ambush,
3 the survivors were executed or that the bodies of the dead were shot at or
4 given further stab wounds. Are you aware of that?
5 A. Your Honours, it wasn't just one vehicle there. There were two
6 Hermelins there, and two Lada Nivas, to what I can tell, the Defence
7 counsel is not well familiar with the situation, and I'm trying to help
8 him. It is true that they were ambushed by a NLA unit.
9 Q. I'm very grateful for the specification, Mr. Ostreni. Are you
10 also aware of the fact that after one of the vehicle had been blown up in
11 the ambush, the survivors were then executed and apparently one of them
12 burnt alive and the others shot at or knifed by members of the NLA. Is
13 that something that you're familiar with?
14 A. I have knowledge, but not in the way you're putting it to me. I
15 know that they fell in an ambush, they were soldiers, they had their
16 leaders, they were armed, and they fell in an ambush. Weapons that caused
17 the vehicles to catch fire were used. If a person is in a vehicle when it
18 catches fire, of course that -- that person will be burned as well.
19 This ambush involved a close range -- close-distance fighting and
20 weapons that they had with them were used. In order to discuss this
21 event, which I feel sorry to explain here, because we have to create
22 goodwill and trust, but we are here to shed light on these events.
23 Events should be followed as early as the 14th of March to see how
24 the situation developed and then under the light of the operation MX of
25 the Macedonian forces against the NLA. That is against the 112th Brigade
1 and this is how we should look at the killing of the 16-year-old child in
2 Selce and then discuss this ambush.
3 Q. Well, thank you for that. At this stage we'll stay with the
4 incident in Vejce and I will ask you a question, a simple question whether
5 you know or not, that Ali Ahmeti, shortly after the incident in Vejce took
6 responsibility for the attack and justified it on the basis that the NLA
7 had acted in self-defence. Are you aware of Mr. Ahmeti saying that?
8 A. I don't remember what Mr. Ali Ahmeti said at that time, but I
9 remember the event, how it happened. I remember that the units, every now
10 and then, during that time, the units of the ARM, in combination with
11 police force, painted -- would go out in those village, intimidate the
12 villagers and the culmination was reached when the 16-year-old young man
13 was killed and this event gave rise to the act undertaken by the NLA unit
14 against the patrol which, to my recollection, consists of 13 or 14
16 MR. METTRAUX: Can the witness please be shown what is exhibit P45
17 at page N005-7606-0225, and in the Macedonian version it would be at
18 NO01-5238 , please.
19 Q. Mr. Ostreni, the document which I'm about to show to you is a
20 so-called "White Book" prepared by the Ministry of the Interior of the
21 Republic of Macedonia. Hopefully the document will be shown to you as
22 well in Macedonian. There is no Albanian translation, but I will read to
23 you the document.
24 This would be, I believe, the next page in the Macedonian version,
25 please. Oh, I'm sorry, it's the right page but on the right side in the
1 Macedonian. I apologise, the previous page on the right side of the
2 page. Yes, thank you. On the right side, please. And on the top. Thank
4 Mr. Ostreni, that may help refresh your memory. There's a report
5 contained in this document which is entitled: "Ali Ahmeti: We killed in
6 Self-defence," and it says this: "Ethnic Albanian rebels said today that
7 they had acted in self-defence in a clash in which eight Macedonian
8 security troops were killed on Saturday.
9 "The political leader of the rebel National Liberation Army, UCK,
10 Ali Ahmeti, told Reuter by telephone 'We consider it as a provocation by
11 the Macedonian forces so that they could present themself as victims -- as
13 "Ahmeti says the UCK rebels opened fire in self-defence after
14 Macedonian troops approached their positions. He says no UCK soldiers
15 were killed or wounded during the clash."
16 And the report is dated 30 April 2001 and comes from Tirana.
17 Can you recall, Mr. Ostreni, Mr. Ahmeti making any such statement
18 in relation to the incident in Vejce?
19 A. Honourable counsel, Ali Ahmeti, first of all, would never say when
20 NLA rebels did this. The word "rebel" is unknown to Mr. Ali Ahmeti, and
21 this gives me doubts about the "White Book", because this book does not
22 mention a single case when the ARM and police forces mistreated civilians
23 and such cases occurred. A person was killed in the middle of Skopje in
24 Lozana pizzeria and this is nowhere mentioned. Then the shops and the
25 houses of the Albanians in Bitola were burnt and there's no mention of it
1 in this book. That's why I think that the time has come for all of us to
2 think differently. It is impossible for Ali Ahmeti to call himself a
4 Q. Mr. Ostreni, you are right in this sense, that the inability to
5 give you a copy of that document in your language might have been unfair
6 to you, because the only statement that is indented and is being
7 attributed to Mr. Ahmeti in what I have read is the following, and I will
8 specify that fact: "We consider it as a provocation by the Macedonian
9 forces so that they could present themselves as victim."
10 So you are right, Mr. Ostreni, the reference to rebel is not
11 attributed to Mr. Ahmeti, it seems from that document.
12 But do you agree, or can you remember, Mr. Ahmeti at the time
13 making the suggestion that the attack at Vejce was a response to a
14 provocation by the Macedonian forces. Do you recall him saying that?
15 A. No, I don't recall that.
16 Q. And perhaps do you recall that the international community viewed
17 the attack in Vejce quite differently. And perhaps I should ask you this:
18 Do you recall that the US administration, the state department and the
19 White House described this attack of the NLA in Vejce as senseless act of
20 violence, a barbarous attack, extremist violence and terrorist activity.
21 Do you recall any of those expressions being attached to the attack in
22 Vejce by the US Administration?
23 A. To my recollection, I cannot express this only in terms of if I
24 recall or not a certain events. If I have it somewhere in writing, it
25 would be nice if you show that to me and that would refresh my memory. If
1 the department of United States wrote this, then it is true that they
2 wrote this. I cannot comment on that, whether it is their document or
3 not, without seeing it.
4 MR. METTRAUX: Would that would be a convenient time, Your Honour.
5 JUDGE PARKER: It would be. We must finish for the week.
6 We resume on Monday morning at 9.00, but we have been moved to
7 Courtroom III.
8 So we adjourn now for the weekend.
9 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 7.01 p.m.,
10 to be reconvened on Monday, the 12th
11 day of November, 2007, at 9.00 a.m.