1 THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL
2 CASE NO. IT-96-22-T
3 FOR THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA IN THE TRIAL CHAMBER
4 Tuesday, 19th November 1996
5 Before: JUDGE JORDA (The Presiding Judge) JUDGE ODIO BENITO
6 JUDGE RIAD THE PROSECUTOR OF THE TRIBUNAL -v- DRAZEN ERDEMOVIC
7 MR. ERIC OSTBERG and MR. MARK HARMON appeared on behalf of the Office
8 of the Prosecutor
9 MR. JOVAN BABIC appeared on behalf of the Defence (Open Session)
10 Tuesday, 19th November 1996.
11 THE PRESIDING JUDGE [In translation]: I would firstly like to be sure
12 that I ask the photographers to wait for a moment - that the
13 technical equipment is working. Does everybody hear me? The Registry?
14 The Defence? The Office of the Prosecutor? Assistants? Colleagues?
15 Turning to the Registrar, would you please call the case number which
16 is on the agenda for today and for tomorrow?
17 THE REGISTRAR [In translation]: This is case IT-96-22-T, this
18 Tribunal against Drazen Erdemovic.
19 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Turning again to the Registrar, would you please
20 have the accused brought in? The photographers have now left the
21 room. I would first like the representative of the Office of the
22 Prosecutor to identify himself. Who is representing the Prosecution?
23 MR. OSTBERG: I am Eric Ostberg. I appear today with my fellow senior
24 trial attorney, Mr. Mark Harmon.
25 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: And for the Defence?
1 MR. BABIC [In translation]: I am Jovan Babic, an attorney from
2 Yugoslavia, the Defence attorney for the accused Erdemovic.
3 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you. Mr. Erdemovic, would you rise,
4 please? For the Tribunal, would you state your name, your first name
5 or names, the place and the date of your birth, your profession at
6 the time that you were arrested and your profession before the acts
7 that you are being charged with today by the International Criminal
8 Tribunal. We will now hear you.
9 THE ACCUSED [In translation]: My name is Drazen Erdemovic. I was born
10 on 25th November 1971. I am a locksmith. I did not have any work
11 experience. I was in the war - I was in the army during the war
12 because the war broke out and I was in the army of Republika Srpska.
13 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Would you please indicate where you were born
14 and what your nationality is?
15 THE ACCUSED: I am a Croat, a Bosnian Croat, by nationality and I was
16 born in Tuzla.
17 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you. You may be seated. This hearing is a
18 sentencing hearing which means that it is designed for a sentence to
19 be handed down against the accused Drazen Erdemovic. I recall that
20 this person pleaded guilty to the charge of crime against humanity
21 during his initial appearance on 31st May 1996. I also recall that
22 the Trial Chamber ordered on 31st May and on 4th July 1996 that two
23 psychological and psychiatric evaluations be performed in order to be
24 sure, first, that the accused had the ability to know what he was
25 doing at the moment that he pleaded guilty and to be sure at the same
1 time that the accused is competent to stand trial. I would now like
2 to ask the Registrar to recall the relevant texts dealing with the
3 hearings which would lead to a sentence before this International
4 Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. More specifically, I
5 would like the Articles having to do with the accusation of crime
6 against humanity and the relevant Articles having to do with the
7 methods for understanding what sentence should be handed down be
8 read. I give you the floor, Mr. Marro.
9 THE REGISTRAR: Article 5A of the Statute of the International
10 Tribunal, crime against humanity: "The International Tribunal shall
11 have the power to prosecute persons responsible for the following
12 crimes when committed in armed conflict whether international or
13 internal in character and directed against any civilian population;
14 (a) murder". Article 24 of the Statute, penalties: "The penalty
15 imposed by a Trial Chamber shall be limited to imprisonment. In
16 determining the terms of imprisonment, the Trial Chambers shall have
17 recourse to the general practice regarding prison sentences in the
18 courts of the former Yugoslavia. (2) In imposing the sentences, the
19 Trial Chambers should take into account such as the gravity of the
20 offence and the individual circumstances of the convicted person".
21 Rule 101 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, penalties: "(A) A
22 convicted person may be sentenced to imprisonment for a term up to
23 and including the remainder of his life. (B) In determining the
24 sentence, the Trial Chamber shall take into account the factors
25 mentioned in Article 24(2) of the Statute, as well as such factors as
1 (i) any aggravating circumstances; (ii) any mitigating circumstances
2 including the substantial co-operation with the Prosecutor by the
3 convicted person before or after conviction; (iii) the general
4 practice regarding prison sentences in the courts of the former
5 Yugoslavia, and (iv) the extent to which any penalty imposed by a
6 court of any state on the convicted person for the same act has
7 already been served, as referred to in Article 10(3) of the Statute".
8 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you, Mr. Marro. The purpose of the hearing
9 today (and perhaps tomorrow as well) is to allow the Prosecutor on
10 the one hand and on the other the Defence to present all information
11 which might be relevant which would allow the Trial Chamber to decide
12 what would be the most appropriate sentence for Mr. Erdemovic. Under
13 these circumstances, the Trial Chamber has decided that it would
14 organise the hearing in the following fashion. First, the Prosecutor
15 will recall the facts and the accusation, that is, the accusation and
16 he will bring in the witness or witnesses that he wishes to call
17 before the Trial Chamber. In the second place, so that the
18 proceedings in which both parties are present are respected and that
19 there be no ambiguity having to do with the acts which have been
20 admitted, the Trial Chamber will hear, still referring now to the
21 acts and the charges, the answer of the Defence as exposed or as
22 presented by the Prosecutor, so that the possible witness or
23 witnesses can be heard in this respect. After these presentations and
24 testimonies, the Trial Chamber reserves the right, pursuant to the
25 powers that it has, to order the production of additional evidence
1 which is given to it by Rule 98 of the Rules. Therefore, it preserves
2 the right to hear other witnesses, including the accused, should that
3 appear to be necessary for the Trial Chamber. Following that, the
4 closing arguments will be heard during which the Prosecutor will be
5 asked to present all of the aggravating circumstances or any
6 mitigating circumstances and any other circumstances, mitigating or
7 attenuating, pursuant to the texts which have just been read and any
8 other facts which appear relevant in support of his position,
9 including his suggestions having to do with the appropriate sentence,
10 if the Prosecution does, of course, wish to make any proposals to the
11 Trial Chamber. The Defence will respond to the same questions, that
12 is, aggravating or mitigating circumstances and any suggestions that
13 it wishes to make to the Trial Chamber. Last, the Trial Chamber will
14 deliberate in order to reach its decision. Therefore, before we give
15 the Prosecutor the floor, the Trial Chamber would first like to ask
16 both of the parties, that is to the Prosecution and to the Defence,
17 whether they agree that the words that Mr. Erdemovic stated in which
18 he reiterated his plea of guilt during the status conference which
19 was a closed one be made public during this hearing. I recall that on
20 4th July the Presiding Judge of this Trial Chamber asked Mr. Drazen
21 Erdemovic, so that things be absolutely clear, to repeat his plea of
22 guilt. The status conference was closed and, therefore, I now ask the
23 Prosecutor and Mr. Babic whether they agree to the Registrar reading
24 the passage of that status conference. I turn to the Prosecution?
25 MR. OSTBERG: I have no objection at all to that, your Honour.
1 MR. BABIC: I also have no objections, your Honour.
2 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Turning to the Registrar, would you please read
3 what was read during 4th July in which the Presiding Judge asked
4 Drazen Erdemovic whether he planned to continue to plead guilty to
5 the charges of which he was accused? THE REGISTRAR: The Trial Chamber
6 composed of Judge Claude Jorda presiding, Judge Elizabeth Odio Benito
7 and Judge Fuad Riad, status conference, Office of the Prosecutor,
8 Eric Ostberg and Mr. Mark Harmon and Terri Bowers and Mr. Babic,
9 counsel for the Defence. I am referring to page 7 of the transcript
10 in French. Presiding Judge: "I am now going to turn to Drazen
11 Erdemovic. Could you rise, please? Do you still plead guilty in this
12 trial?" Drazen Erdemovic, interpretation from Serbo-Croat: "Yes". The
13 Presiding Judge: "I would like the Registrar to record this in the
14 records because, according to the medical evaluation, Mr. Drazen
15 Erdemovic is confirming that he is pleading guilty in this trial".
16 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you, Registrar. The second question is the
17 following: do the parties plan to bring any evidence? If so, I would
18 like this evidence to be presented to the Trial Chamber. Are there
19 any objections on the part of the Defence or of the Prosecutor of the
20 other side giving any other evidence? Do you have any evidence that
21 you wish to present to the Trial Chamber, Prosecutor?
22 MR. OSTBERG: Yes, we do, your Honour. We have just one witness, Mr.
23 Jean Rene Ruez, who is the investigating officer of the Office of the
24 Prosecutor into taking statements from Mr. Erdemovic and to conduct
25 the investigations on the site of the events.
1 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: I am sorry, I did not get an interpretation
2 there. I heard you but I did not get the interpretation. It is
3 preferred for the interpretation to give us a faithful translation or
4 interpretation, excuse me, of what you said. Can we begin again,
6 MR. OSTBERG: Yes, your Honour.
7 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Would it not be too disagreeable for you to
8 repeat what you just said?
9 MR. OSTBERG: We are going to bring just one witness, Mr. Jean Rene
10 Ruez, who is going to testify on the statements he has been taking
11 from Mr. Erdemovic and the investigation he has been conducting in
12 the site of the events with which we charge Erdemovic. This is the
13 only oral evidence we are bringing. Then we are bringing other
14 evidence in the form of photos, diagrams and maps of the place where
15 these events took place. That will be all the evidence produced from
16 the side of the Prosecutor, besides, of course, your Honour, the two
17 briefs we have already filed with you on the sentencing system of the
18 former Yugoslavia and the mitigating and aggravating factors. Thank
19 you, your Honour.
20 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you. This evidence, therefore, will be
21 delivered to the Trial Chamber Judges at the time that Mr. Jean Rene
22 Ruez testifies, if I have understood correctly. Turning to Mr. Babic,
23 have you yourself any evidence that you would like to submit to the
24 Trial Chamber?
25 MR. BABIC: Your Honour, I am not opposed to having Mr. Ruez heard as
1 a witness. On the other hand, as I had proposed previously too, I
2 suggest that we hear as witnesses before this Court the witnesses who
3 are under protection, the two witnesses that are under protection.
4 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: I am asking you right now whether you had any
5 evidence, which evidence?
6 MR. BABIC: No.
7 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you. The final point before we give the
8 floor to the Prosecutor is that before we supplement any protection
9 for witnesses X and Y who have been mentioned by the Defence, we have
10 been asked that there be a 30 minute delay in the transcription -
11 that the images will not be distributed for 30 minutes so that the
12 complete protection of witnesses X and Y will be assured.
13 MR. OSTBERG: I support that, your Honour.
14 MR. BABIC: I agree. THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Therefore, under these
15 conditions the deliberations have now been organised properly by the
16 Trial Chamber. As has just been recalled by the Legal Officer, there
17 will be an order written for this. It will be given to the Registrar,
18 the agreement of the parties and the order according to which we will
19 have a 30-minute delay in the broadcasting and of the images. Without
20 any further ado, we will now move to the first sequence which has to
21 do with the recall of the facts and the accusations, only the facts
22 and the accusations. I would, therefore, like to now give the floor
23 to the Prosecutor who will himself decide whether this is the proper
24 time to bring in his witnesses, but always now speaking about the
25 facts and the accusations, the floor will now be given to the
1 Defence. It is only after that that the Trial Chamber will come to a
2 decision as to whether or not other witnesses should be heard or
3 whether the accused should be heard, that is, Drazen Erdemovic. I now
4 give you the floor, Mr. Prosecutor.
5 MR. OSTBERG: Thank you, your Honour. Before I start presenting the
6 facts of the case, I will give a brief summary of the events that
7 brought Mr. Erdemovic into the custody of the Tribunal in The Hague.
8 It takes us back to the attack by the Bosnian-Serb Army under the
9 command of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic on the safe area of
10 Srebrenica in the beginning of July 1995, and the surrender and
11 executions of thousands of Bosnian Muslims that fled Srebrenica
12 through the woods towards Muslim territory in Tuzla. These events
13 resulted in investigation, indictments and Rule 61 hearings within
14 this Tribunal. The authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
15 also started an investigation into Drazen Erdemovic's involvement in
16 these events which led to his arrest on 2nd March 1996 in Serbia.
17 Having been informed thereof, the Prosecutor of the Tribunal
18 considered that Drazen Erdemovic appeared to be in possession of
19 information related to the indictment against Karadzic and Mladic,
20 and made an application for his transfer to The Hague as a witness.
21 Pursuant to an order to that effect by Judge Riad, Erdemovic arrived
22 in The Hague on 30th March 1996. In connection particularly with the
23 statements given by Erdemovic to investigators of the Prosecutor's
24 Office, the Prosecutor instituted an investigation into Erdemovic's
25 participation in the execution of the aforementioned surrendered
1 people. This investigation led to the indictment against Drazen
2 Erdemovic. It was confirmed on 29th May 1996 by Judge Sidhwa and an
3 order was issued by him on the same day to arrest Erdemovic in the
4 case. On the same day of 29th May 1996, a Trial Chamber of the
5 Tribunal decided to request the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to
6 defer all the investigations and proceedings against Erdemovic to the
7 Tribunal. Erdemovic's initial appearance, as the President just
8 mentioned, took place before this Trial Chamber on 31st May 1996 at
9 which time he pleaded guilty to the acts charged against him as a
10 crime against humanity under Article 5 of the Statute of this
11 Tribunal. On 5th July he appeared as a witness in the Rule 61 hearing
12 against Karadzic and Mladic and told this Trial Chamber about his
13 participation in the executions of Muslim men at the Branjevo farm
14 near Pilica town and what he then saw in Pilica in Zvornik
15 municipality in Bosnia. His accounts of the events included
16 descriptions of the killing he perpetrated. Now, after having
17 Erdemovic's mental health thoroughly examined, we have reached the
18 point in time for a sentence hearing in accordance with Rule 61 and
19 Rule 100 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of this Tribunal. It
20 is my task now to present to your Honours the facts that constitute
21 the charges against Drazen Erdemovic. I can think of no better and
22 comprehensive way of doing that than to cite the words of the
23 indictment which in relevant parts I now want to read: "On 16th April
24 1993, the Security Council of the United Nations, acting pursuant to
25 Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, adopted resolution 819, in
1 which it demanded that all parties to the conflict in the Republic of
2 Bosnia and Herzegovina treat Srebrenica and its surroundings as a
3 safe area which should be free from any armed attack or any other
4 hostile act. Resolution 819 was reaffirmed by resolution 824 on 6th
5 May 1993 and by resolution 836 on 4th June 1993. On or about 6th July
6 1995, the Bosnian Serb Army commenced an attack on the UN 'safe area'
7 of Srebrenica. This attack continued through until 11th July 1995,
8 when the first units of the Bosnian-Serb Army entered Srebrenica.
9 Thousands of Bosnian Muslim civilians who remained in Srebrenica
10 during this attack fled to the UN compound in Potocari and sought
11 refuge in and around the compound. Between 11th and 13th July 1995,
12 Bosnian-Serb military personnel summarily executed an unknown number
13 of Bosnian Muslims in Potocari and in Srebrenica. Between 12th and
14 13th July 1995, Bosnian Muslim men, women and children who sought
15 refuge in and around the UN compound in Potocari were placed on buses
16 and trucks under the control of Bosnian-Serb military personnel and
17 police and transported out of the Srebrenica enclave. Before boarding
18 these buses and trucks, Bosnian Muslim men were separated from
19 Bosnian Muslim women and children and were transported to various
20 collection centres around Srebrenica. A second group of approximately
21 15,000 Bosnian Muslim men, with some women and children, fled
22 Srebrenica on 11th July 1995 through the woods in a large column in
23 the direction of Tuzla. A large number of the Bosnian Muslim men who
24 fled in this column were captured by or surrendered to Bosnian-Serb
25 Army or police personnel. Thousands of Bosnian Muslim men who had
1 been either separated from women and children in Potocari or who had
2 been captured by or surrendered to Bosnian Serb military or police
3 personnel were sent to various collection sites outside of Srebrenica
4 including, but not limited to, a hangar in Bratunac, a soccer field
5 in Nova Kasaba, a warehouse in Kravica, the primary school and
6 gymnasium of 'Veljko Lukic-Kurjak' in Grbavci, Zvornik municipality
7 and diverse fields and meadows along the Bratunac-Milici road.
8 Between 13th July 1995 and approximately 22nd July 1995, thousands of
9 Bosnian Muslim men were summarily executed by members of the Bosnian-
10 Serb Army and Bosnian Serb police at diverse locations including, but
11 not limited to, a warehouse at Kravica, a meadow and a damn near
12 Lazete and diverse other locations. On or about 16th July 1995,
13 Drazen Erdemovic and other members of the 10th Sabotage Detachment of
14 the Bosnian-Serb Army were ordered to a collective farm near Pilica.
15 This farm is located north west of Zvornik in the Zvornik
16 municipality. On or about 16th July 1995, Drazen Erdemovic and other
17 members of his Unit were informed that bus loads of Bosnian Muslim
18 civilian men from Srebrenica, who had surrendered to Bosnian Serb
19 military or police personnel, would be arriving throughout the day at
20 this collective farm. On or about 16th July 1995, buses containing
21 Bosnian Muslim men arrived at the collective farm in Pilica. Each bus
22 was full of Bosnian Muslim men, ranging from approximately 17 to 60
23 years of age. After each bus arrived at the farm, the Bosnian Muslim
24 men were removed in groups of about 10, escorted by members of the
25 10th Sabotage Detachment to a field adjacent to farm buildings and
1 lined up in a row with their backs facing Drazen Erdemovic and
2 members of his Unit. On or about 16th July 1995, Drazen Erdemovic did
3 shoot and kill and did participate with other members of his Unit and
4 soldiers from another Brigade in the shooting and killing of unarmed
5 Bosnian Muslim men at the Pilica collective farm. These summary
6 executions resulted in the death of hundreds of Bosnian Muslim male
7 civilians". This, your Honours, concludes my reading of the facts
8 which are stated in the indictment. I just want to add some few
9 things, namely, that the act described in the indictment was a part
10 of a widespread and systematic attack launched by the Bosnian-Serb
11 Army on the safe area of Srebrenica and its inhabitants. To
12 substantiate the allegations of the indictment, to demonstrate the
13 details of Erdemovic's participation in the executions and to inform
14 the Court of the extent of Erdemovic's co-operation with the
15 Prosecutor's Office, the Prosecution will bring just one witness
16 which I named just before, namely, Jean Rene Ruez who is, as I said,
17 the officer who took the statements and did the investigations.
18 During this examination of the witness, the Prosecution will also
19 present as evidence maps, diagrams and photos from the area. I will
20 conclude this statement of facts by adding that prior to the account
21 of the events in that area voluntarily given by Drazen Erdemovic, the
22 Prosecutor's Office had no knowledge whatsoever about these events.
23 Thank you, your Honours.
24 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Mr. Ostberg, I have a question I would like to
25 ask you: do you plan, since you have just re-read this indictment
1 which we all know, to bring in your witness, Mr. Jean Rene Ruez,
2 immediately? Do you plan to bring him in immediately?
3 MR. OSTBERG: Yes, we do.
4 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Therefore, before we give the floor to the
5 Defence, we will ask the Registrar to have the witness for the
6 Prosecution brought in, that is, the investigator John Rene Ruez,
7 making it clear that Mr. Ruiz will speak about the facts and about
8 the accused's participation in the acts for which he has been
10 MR. JEAN RENE RUEZ, called.
11 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Mr. Ruez, can you hear me?
12 THE WITNESS [In Translation]: No, I am afraid not.
13 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Could we do something, Registrar? Do you hear me
14 now? The Registrar should see to it that we do not have problems of
15 this kind, I believe. You can hear me?
16 THE WITNESS: Yes.
17 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: So please stand and read the solemn oath,
18 please. Do you have the wording there?
19 THE WITNESS: Yes. I solemnly declare that I shall tell the truth, the
20 whole truth and nothing but the truth. (The witness was sworn)
21 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you. Please be seated. You have the floor,
22 Prosecutor. Examined by MR. HARMON
23 MR. HARMON: Thank you, your Honours. The purpose of calling Mr. Ruez
24 is three-fold; the first is to have Mr. Ruez summarise the events
25 relating to the takeover of the UN safe area of Srebrenica in July
1 1995. The second purpose is to have Mr. Ruez describe to this Trial
2 Chamber two events, two massacres, that occurred, one at Pilica farm,
3 and the other that occurred at a cultural centre in the village of
4 Pilica - two events which Mr. Erdemovic brought to our attention. The
5 third purpose of having Mr. Ruez testify is to have him describe to
6 this Trial Chamber the substantial co-operation of Mr. Erdemovic with
7 the Office of the Prosecutor. Prior to having Mr. Ruez testify, I
8 have asked that the Registrar office premark 15 exhibits. I would now
9 ask that usher pass from the Registrar's Office to Mr. Ruez a set of
10 those exhibits.
11 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Yes, with regard to the Chamber's decision as to
12 how we were going about this, I think Mr. Jean Rene Ruez will first
13 answer your questions concerning the first two points, that is to
14 say, summing up the events, the general background as regards what
15 happened in Srebrenica and then also the massacre at the farm and at
16 the culture centre in Pilica. Thereafter, Mr. Jean Rene Ruez will
17 remain available, and it is only during the second go through when we
18 go into the aggravating and mitigating factors, because it is in that
19 light that we have to consider the co-operation with the OTP and it
20 is at that point we will ask him to return to this courtroom. So, I
21 would ask that for the time being we stick to the summary you
22 mentioned and to the massacres.
23 MR. HARMON: All right, your Honour. There is one Exhibit also that I
24 would ask the usher to bring in. It is a large map. I would ask him
25 to kindly place it on the easel that is to Mr. Ruez's left. Mr. Ruez,
1 we will proceed in the manner in which Judge Jorda has requested.
2 Therefore, let me ask you first to state your name and spell your
3 last name for the record, please.
4 A. My name is John Rene Ruez, RUEZ.
5 Q. Mr. Ruez, prior to coming to the Office of the Prosecutor, can you
6 tell me what was your occupation?
7 A. Since '86 I have been a superintendent in France.
8 Q. Would you describe your duties and responsibilities since arriving
9 at the Office of the Prosecutor?
10 A. Yes. I have worked at the Office of the Prosecutor investigators
11 since April 1995 and at the time I participated in the investigation
12 in connection with the siege of Sarajevo. Since July '95 I have been
13 in charge of investigating the fall of the Srebrenica enclave.
14 Q. Mr. Ruez, using Exhibit No. 2 which is before you, would you
15 please summarise for the Court what your investigation has shown with
16 regard to the events in Srebrenica? Could we please have Exhibit No.
17 2 shown on the monitor?
18 A. Now, the events fall into a general context following the fall of
19 the enclave in July '95, to sum up briefly, because all of this has
20 already been heard in connection with the Karadzic and Mladic hearing
21 in July of this year -
22 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: I have a question - excuse me - for the
23 Prosecutor: you submitted to the Chamber the transcript of the
24 hearings we heard in connection with Rule 61 against Messrs. Karadzic
25 and Mladic, is that right?
1 MR. HARMON: I will submit to the Chamber, your Honour, the Rule 61
2 testimony of Mr. Erdemovic.
3 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Fine, because Mr. Ruez was just saying that as
4 this is known. No, these are two distinct cases. There is a link, of
5 course, in terms of the takeover of the Srebrenica enclave, but I do
6 think we have to make quite clear what happened in Srebrenica. Either
7 the Prosecution asks that be submitted to the Chamber all of the
8 information that would be deemed relevant, in particular what Mr.
9 Erdemovic said and, in particular, in connection with the Rule 61
10 hearings against Mladic and Karadzic, or Mr. Jean Rene Ruez, on the
11 contrary, should go into something a lot more detailed about
12 Srebrenica. If I have understood rightly, Mr. Harmon, you are going
13 to lodge the transcript of the Rule 61 hearings that were held in
14 July of this year in connection with the Mladic and Karadzic case,
15 and today you are going to proceed towards a summing up of what
16 happened in Srebrenica, is that right?
17 MR. HARMON: That is correct, your Honour.
18 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: I do apologise, Mr. Ruez.
19 THE WITNESS: Now, when the Bosnian-Serb Army took Srebrenica, the
20 people there had two possibilities, one was to flee towards Potocari,
21 the second option (which is the option followed by most of the men)
22 that was to escape towards Tuzla through the countryside. The men who
23 stayed at Potocari and the women and children there were deported to
24 Kladanj. That was on the borderline, as it were, with the Serb
25 Republic. A lot of murders were committed in respect of the men at
1 Potocari. That is here on the chart. Now, on the way to deportation,
2 a number of men did manage to get on buses. They were all removed
3 from the convoys at various points. The final point of their
4 separation was at Tisca and from there they were also taken and
5 executed nearby. Now, those who fled through the woods had to, on
6 account of the action taken against them, either to surrender or they
7 were taken prisoners. Now, in a great number of situations that we
8 were told about, the people who surrendered were executed on the
9 spot. Most of them were grouped together in the following days, that
10 is to say, on 12th and 13th July 1995. At the collection points which
11 are in Sandici and Nova Kasaba, but there were also other points,
12 there was executions carried out as well. Now, some executions were
13 mass executions. The prisoners who grouped at Sandici were taken into
14 a compound in Kravica. They were placed in a hangar and they were all
15 executed in that hangar. Other executions took place at the
16 crossroads at Konjevici, also at Nova Kasaba where there were
17 regroupments of people. Men were killed in groups of ten. In the
18 Cerska Valley, individuals taken prisoners were transported and
19 executed there as well. Now, this list is but a summing up of all the
20 places where executions took place. Most of the men were grouped in
21 the city of Bratunac. That is true of those who stayed in Potocari as
22 well as those who had tried to escape through the woods. Now, from
23 Bratunac the prisoners were taken to various places.
24 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Mr. Ruez, excuse me, there were also those who
25 tried to flee towards Tuzla?
1 THE WITNESS: Yes, those are the ones I am talking about now.
2 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Because it is not perfectly clear. You said that
3 there were two options and, if I have understood you rightly, people
4 both in the column towards Tuzla and those who had left towards
5 Potocari were involved.
6 THE WITNESS: Yes, the men from Potocari were grouped together at
7 Bratunac, except those who managed to get on buses and then they were
8 separated out later at some checkpoints between Bratunac and the
9 confrontation line. Now, when all of the survivors were brought
10 together at Bratunac, further crimes were committed against them,
11 including at Bratunac itself. But subsequently they were all
12 transported to various other points more to the north of the enclave.
13 Several of these places have been identified, in particular, the
14 school at Grbavci which is on the map here - [The witness indicated]
15 - at that point. The prisoners were grouped together at that school
16 at Grbavci and were executed at a site called Lazete which is nearby,
17 and there has been some excavation work done this summer. Others were
18 taken up to the Petkovci school which is a little bit further north.
19 This is the green spot on the map here. Now, those who were grouped
20 together at Petkovci school were subsequently executed next to the
21 Dulici dam. This is north of the Zvornik. Others were taken to the
22 Pilica school. Now, on the basis of what was said, it was at the
23 Branjevo farm that the executions take place which is nearby. Here,
24 let me show you on the map. It is right there. [The witness
25 indicated]. Then, lastly, others were grouped in a public building in
1 Pilica and they were executed there. So that is the general overview
2 of the events subsequent to the fall of the enclave.
3 MR. HARMON: Mr. Ruez, I would like you to describe to the Court what
4 occurred at Pilica farm and, in so doing, would you refer to any
5 exhibits that have been marked and are before you?
6 A. Here again I will sum up the statements made by Drazen Erdemovic
7 on this matter on several occasions. 16th July, in the morning, when
8 he was at Drasnica(?) at the base of his Unit, Drazen Erdemovic went
9 as part of a group of eight individuals at Zvornik. The head of the
10 Unit was in touch with the Lieutenant Colonel who was coming out of a
11 building that was occupied by the military police - was identified on
12 that by Drazen Erdemovic in a photo. It is part of the Drina Corps,
13 the Unit involved. Now, not informed of the day's mission, they
14 followed this Lieutenant Colonel who took them to the farm, the farm
15 referred to as the Branjevo farm where the Lieutenant Colonel gave
16 orders to the head of the Unit to leave, and Drazen Erdemovic was
17 informed by this individual that buses would be coming with prisoners
18 from Srebrenica. He had understood then what the purpose of operation
19 was and that he would be involved in the execution of these people.
20 The buses started arriving at 10.00 in the morning, approximately. On
21 the whole, some 60 buses were seen, according to Mr. Drazen
22 Erdemovic, by the 20 buses, excuse me, these buses had about 60
23 prisoners in them and until 3.00 in the afternoon the executions took
24 place at that farm. Now, thanks to the information provided by Mr.
25 Erdemovic, we could go to the site in question. Let me refer to Exhibit 13.
1 Q. Do you mean -
2 THE INTERPRETER: Exhibit 3, the interpreter apologises.
3 THE WITNESS: Yes, it is Exhibit 3. Here you have a photograph of the
4 farm. Mr. Erdemovic has seen this and he has identified it as being
5 the place where the executions took place that day. Now, when we went
6 here near the site we found some clothing, shoes, human debris, in
7 other words, things indicating that a mass grave might be located
8 nearby. Now, a subsequent mission enabled us to gather from the field
9 where the execution took place a number of cartridges. Only 61
10 cartridges were found because the soil had been worked on. There was
11 still agricultural activity there, so we found the cartridges that
12 were on the surface. There were only 61 of them, but that certainly
13 does not indicate that not many more were fired than that there. Now,
14 I would also like to refer to Exhibit 4. On the basis of the
15 information provided by Mr. Erdemovic -
16 Q. Can you wait a minute until we get this in focus, Mr. Ruez? All
17 right, thank you.
18 A. The basis of Drazen Erdemovic's information, the relevant services
19 could look and in the archives could find pictures which had been
20 taken near the time the events took place, so we could have access to
21 these pictures. This was from 17th July 1995. This is a bird eye's
22 view of the farm, and you can see a number of bodies scattered over
23 the field and there is a probable mass grave there in the process of
24 being dug. I would now like to refer to Exhibit 5.
25 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Prosecutor, could we dim the lights a bit? It is
1 hard for us to see what is on the screen. So if the lights could be
2 dimmed, please? Thank you.
3 THE WITNESS: Now, using these kind of images, we were also able to
4 find some traces of what is an attempt to destroy evidence at the
5 Branjevo farm. Now, this is a photo dated 27th September 1995 and
6 there there are some traces of work underway at the site. This is as
7 of 27th September '95. Now, the acts as reported by Drazen Erdemovic
8 are confirmed by the findings here, in particular, by the shell cases
9 where they were found. There has been an exhumation that took place
10 in late August and early September, exhumation work, and despite the
11 work seen here 153 bodies were found at the spot where work is
12 underway on this aerial photograph. So 153 bodies were found in this
13 area. About half of those bodies had their hands tied. There were
14 some further cartridges that were found as well as some ID. It was
15 Bosnian Muslims from the Srebrenica area who were involved. Now, it
16 is far too early to draw any definitive conclusions as regards the
17 exhumation work from July, so I will not say anything on that. There
18 is still work underway. Now, it is worth mentioning that the events
19 as set forth by Drazen Erdemovic about this farm were not known to
20 the Prosecutor at the time. There are a large number of victims
21 involved and that is significant because Drazen Erdemovic said some
22 1,200 people were killed there and the site is 70 kilometres north of
23 Bratunac which, of course, does have a significant impact for the
24 investigation in terms of the logistics that were involved for this
25 execution to be carried out.
1 MR. HARMON: Mr. Ruez, let me turn your attention, because I think you
2 are getting into an area that I would like to reserve, that is, how
3 Mr. Erdemovic has assisted the Prosecutor's Office in its
4 investigation, to the cultural hall in Pilica and ask you to describe
5 and summarise what occurred at that location?
6 A. You are referring to the public building at Pilica, so we are no
7 longer talking about the farm?
8 Q. That is correct.
9 A. Now, this is still on 16th July (and I will be summing up Drazen
10 Erdemovic's statements made in the course of a number of hearings),
11 now about 3.00 in the afternoon when the executions were over at the
12 Branjevo farm, the Lieutenant Colonel who had been there, been in
13 charge since Zvornik, he asked the Unit Drazen Erdemovic belonged to
14 to participate in the execution of 500 prisoners who were locked in a
15 public building at Pilica. Drazen Erdemovic states that he refused to
16 participate in the second execution and his colleagues did likewise.
17 The Lieutenant Colonel, all the same, gave the execution squad a
18 meeting in a cafe in the village of Pilica. Other individuals who
19 were there and who were involved in the execution along with Drazen
20 Erdemovic's Unit immediately went there. While Drazen Erdemovic was
21 still at the Pilica farm, he could already hear the firing and the
22 explosions taking place - it sounded like grenades exploding - and
23 the firing was taking place near the farm.
24 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: The farm and the public building, are they
25 nearby, near one another?
1 THE WITNESS: Well, they are close enough for such sounds to be heard.
2 Now, along with the members of the firing squad, they went to the
3 aforementioned cafe which was opposite a building, in the building
4 which the people were held prisoners, and he could see that other
5 members of the Bosnian-Serb armed forces were in the process of the
6 executing people who were locked inside that building. He did not
7 have access to the building. He did not see what was going on inside
8 the building, but he could hear the firing. He saw the individuals
9 throwing grenades and he saw some prisoners who were trying to escape
10 and who were shot down outside the building. Now, when that execution
11 was over, the group that had carried it out went into the cafe and
12 the group Drazen Erdemovic belonged to immediately left. Now, a
13 number of conclusions could be made subsequent to Mr. Drazen
14 Erdemovic's statements about the acts as described. Exhibit 6 - I do
15 not see it on my screen, I am afraid.
16 MR. HARMON: Could we also have the lights dimmed, please? Thank you.
17 A. After we had the details which Erdemovic gave us and which we were
18 able to verify, this photograph which is the photograph of the cafe
19 in which Drazen Erdemovic was when he was the witness to the
20 executions, this is a photo which was given to him and which he
21 recognised. For Exhibit No. 7, this photograph shows what Drazen
22 Erdemovic could see from the cafe that is of the building in which
23 the executions were being carried out, the other side of the street
24 which goes to Janja in Zvornik. Exhibit 8 shows a sign that was on
25 the building where we can read "Socialist Republic of Bosnia-
1 Herzegovina, Assembly of the Zvornik municipality. Local office,
2 Pilica". It, therefore, means that this was a public building.
3 Exhibit 9 shows the front of the building. This part is the place
4 where the prisoners were locked up and this is the door going in.
5 Q. Mr. Ruez, were these photographs taken by members of the Office of
6 the Prosecutor as a result of the information provided by Mr.
8 A. Yes, all the photographs which I am now showing you, having to do
9 with these events, were taken by myself and the photograph which has
10 the No. 9 was taken by Peter Nicholson who is also a member of the
11 Office of the Prosecutor. On this photograph we can see the inside of
12 the building, the building in which the executions are alleged to
13 have taken place. The definition of the image is not very good, but
14 inside the building there were traces of bullet impacts which can be
15 seen on all the walls, on the ground and on the platform. Exhibit No.
16 10 - no, I am sorry, it is 11, shows the impact traces as well as
17 blood traces near the stairs which led up to the podium. Exhibit 12
18 is an example of the traces which can be seen on the walls, the walls
19 of the room. These are traces of blood with bits of hair as well.
20 Q. Did you see anything on the ceiling of the building as well, Mr.
21 Ruez, when you were at the site?
22 A. Yes, the ceiling which is about four metres high was also
23 splattered with all kind of substances probably from human beings,
24 but for which the analysis has not yet been completed. Exhibit 13 is
25 a view of the back of the room behind the podium. Certain parts of
1 that podium have been destroyed because it appears that there were
2 grenade explosions there, but traces which are still being analysed
3 but which do seem to be traces of powder, of explosions, which were
4 on the walls as well traces of blood and human remains which can be
5 seen on the walls. A later mission for analysis of the site was
6 carried out in September and a complete study of the place was done
7 by the crime technicians. We do not yet have the results, but we can
8 already state that all of the statements made by Drazen Erdemovic
9 have been confirmed by the observations which we were able to carry
10 out on site.
11 MR. HARMON: Your Honour, that concludes my examination of Mr. Ruez on
12 the two points, the summary of the events at Srebrenica and a
13 description of the Pilica farm and the hall in the village of Pilica.
14 I have no further questions of him on those points.
15 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you, Prosecution. I would like now to turn
16 to Mr. Babic and ask the following question: having to do with the
17 facts only, all of these facts which have just been recalled by the
18 Office of the Prosecutor, through the indictment on the one hand and
19 on the other hand through Mr. Ruez's testimony, I myself and my
20 colleagues would like to know what is your feeling?
21 MR. BABIC: Your Honours, the indictment issued against the accused
22 Drazen Erdemovic is based exclusively and only on the basis of his
23 voluntary statement, statements that he gave to the authorities in
24 Yugoslavia, to the authorities of the International Criminal Tribunal
25 for the former Yugoslavia and the statements that he gave before this
1 honourable Trial Chamber. In relation to that, I am perfectly sure
2 that while respecting the principle of directness of giving
3 testimonies, it is most useful that the accused Erdemovic, Drazen
4 Erdemovic, gives his testimony once again before this Trial Chamber
5 in order he can give a direct statement in order he can tell why he
6 feels guilty for what he did, because his confession is also his
7 defence. According to the findings of experts, he is perfectly
8 capable to do this today and he should take this opportunity. The
9 accused Drazen Erdemovic is not a man who wanted, who wished, to do
10 something like that. I have called certain witnesses here, witnesses
11 X and Y, and I would like the Trial Chamber to hear their testimony
12 before Drazen Erdemovic's testimony. As for the statement of Mr. John
13 Rene Ruez, I have just two or three questions, if you will allow me
14 to do so, your Honours.
15 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: The Trial Chamber grants you leave to ask
16 questions after which the Judges will also ask questions, a few
17 questions that is, of the witness after which we will suspend the
18 hearing. After the adjournment, we will first decide whether we are
19 going to hear the accused and, in the second place, whether we are
20 all going at that point of the hearing to hear the witnesses which
21 you would like to bring in. If I have understood you correctly on
22 this last point, the witnesses whom you wish to call in and who are
23 covered, as I recall to you, by protective measures, and at the
24 proper moment I will ask the Registrar to recall those measures, they
25 have been in place, that is, because of the desire of your client not
1 to participate in these events. Therefore, I feel it would be better
2 to start with the sequence of the sentencing trial, the sentencing
3 hearing, which has to do with what we were talking about, these
4 particular circumstance, do you agree, because these witnesses did
5 not actually participate in the facts.
6 MR. BABIC: Yes.
7 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Therefore, we will give you an answer to that.
8 For the time being, however, Mr. Babic, unless we were to take a
9 break at this point, and I can now turn to my colleagues. (The
10 learned Judges conferred)
11 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Mr. Babic, you can ask your questions after
12 which the Tribunal will ask its questions and we will have our break
13 after that. I now give you the floor to ask the questions that you
14 wish to ask. Cross-Examined by MR. BABIC
15 MR. BABIC: Thank you.
16 Q. My first question is in relation to the testimony, if I have
17 properly understood, of Mr. Jean Rene Ruez in which he indicated - it
18 is about Pilica - that, according to statements given by witnesses in
19 the field, I would just like to ask the following: does it mean that
20 he talked to witnesses who knew about the crime from a direct
21 testimony in Pilica, and if there have been such witnesses, can he
22 tell us their names?
23 MR. HARMON: Your Honour -
24 MR. BABIC: That is my first question.
25 MR. HARMON: - I would in respect of the -
1 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: First let us be clear. This is a question which
2 is addressed to Mr. Ruez, but there is an objection on the part of
3 the Prosecutor. What is that, please?
4 MR. HARMON: My objection is to the identity of any direct witnesses
5 because it is important for the Prosecutor's Office not to reveal the
6 names of other direct witnesses to these events. We would object to
7 Mr. Ruez identifying them by name. We have no objection to his
8 indicating whether or not such witnesses exist, however.
9 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: We accept the objection of the Prosecutor. I
10 think the interest of your question really has to do with whether
11 these have to do with the testimonies.
12 MR. BABIC: Yes.
13 THE WITNESS: I will have to broaden the framework somewhat. The first
14 point having to do with these witnesses is that the statements of
15 Drazen Erdemovic allowed us to show the connection between what had
16 taken place as described by the witnesses and the only thing which -
17 at the time the only thing that we knew for sure is that they had
18 been shut up in the Pilica school. Had we had not the information
19 from Drazen Erdemovic, we would not probably have been able to make
20 the connection between the place of the detention and the place of
21 their execution which was close by. As regards the way the execution
22 took place and the way that Drazen Erdemovic explained the facts, in
23 fact, both of the statements in general confirmed one another which
24 is significant -
25 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: What do you mean by that when you say the two
2 THE WITNESS: The way which the surviving witness of an execution
3 which took place near the Pilica school and which is probably the
4 same as the one that Drazen Erdemovic described, both events resemble
5 one another very closely. But at this point of the investigation we
6 cannot yet say for sure that the survivors were the victims of the
7 same execution in which Drazen Erdemovic was involved. This is still
8 being investigated. A detail which should be important to understand
9 is that Drazen Erdemovic does seem to be convinced that the buses
10 that were bringing in the victims to the Branjevo farm had come from
11 Zvornik. The Pilica farm is near the Pilica school and, although the
12 final approach road is the same as the one that goes from Zvornik or
13 from the school, he does not confirm that those prisoners who were
14 executed in the Branjevo farm were the ones who had been detained at
15 the Pilica school, but he knew about this. But the way things took
16 place was very similar.
17 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: So do I understand, therefore, that in order to
18 answer this question very clearly which is of interest to the
19 Tribunal that you heard survivors testify?
20 THE WITNESS: Yes, that is correct.
21 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Turning to the Office of the Prosecutor, these
22 testimonies, even if they are distorted or are not revealed, are you
23 planning to give these testimonies to the Tribunal, even if you are
24 not going to reveal the names and other identifying material?
25 MR. HARMON: We were not intending to do so, your Honour.
1 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: I must state, Prosecutor, that I am somewhat
2 surprised because we have just heard from John Ruez's mouth and from
3 your own that the investigation is still going on, and also that you
4 have other testimonies. I do understand, as far as they are
5 concerned, that it would be important to protect them, but I think
6 that while protecting them we have enough resources which would allow
7 us to hide their identifying material but to keep the substance of
8 the testimonies, even if they were only through a summary that you
9 would give us. This is a question which I will deliberate over with
10 my colleagues because I do believe we are now trying a man, and I
11 believe that the Tribunal cannot simply accommodate itself with the
12 idea of knowing that there is an investigation in process and at the
13 same time that there are witnesses whose testimonies have not been
14 made available to the Tribunal. We do understand that the witnesses
15 must be protected, but the Tribunal cannot judge a man about whom it
16 is said that in the Prosecutor's case files there are testimonies
17 which are significant, and which the Tribunal is not aware of. This
18 is what I wanted to say to you. Do you agree? Could you make a
19 suggestion to the Tribunal about this?
20 MR. HARMON: I am perfectly capable of making a suggestion to the
21 Court, your Honour. After the recess, if I could have some time to
22 consult with Mr. Ruez and investigators and my colleagues, I would be
23 prepared to answer your question directly.
24 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Of course, Prosecutor, you will make the
25 suggestion after the pause. I thank you and I now can give the floor
1 back to Mr. Babic so he can ask his questions.
2 MR. BABIC: I have understood the answer. There have been several
3 witnesses and testimonies of those witnesses who were concordant to
4 the testimony given by the accused Drazen Erdemovic. My next question
5 would be, Mr. Ruez said that at the very site of the crime after the
6 testimony of Erdemovic certain traces were found, shoes, body parts,
7 parts of clothes and so on, and that the exhumation established the
8 existence of 153 bodies whose hands were tied and some other traces,
9 such as bullet cases and so on. I would like to know whether Mr. Ruez
10 or his team who worked on the site of the investigation have composed
11 some kind of a report from their on-site investigation. Has there
12 been any photo documentation, photo file or video file that was
13 established after the investigation? Has there been any kind of
14 technical expertise, technical analysis, of the traces found on the
15 spot in the cultural hall that we saw on the monitor? If, yes, what
16 are the results of their analyses? What we have heard here, has it
17 been confirmed in their analyses? This concludes my questions.
18 THE WITNESS: All the operations about which we are now speaking, all
19 the technical operations, all those that were carried out recently,
20 today no report has yet been given to us by the experts who may be
21 responsible for carrying out this work. The only thing that can be
22 stated right now, having to do with the results, is that in general
23 they confirm the events as they were described by Drazen Erdemovic,
24 but no detailed conclusion can yet be drawn. I would certainly allow
25 myself to say this, in so far as these are experts in the field who
1 have been made responsible for the process, and it is a process in
2 which I was not involved, I would like to make a correction of
3 something which was just stated by Mr. Babic having to do with the
4 number of bodies. The number I have given is an approximate figure.
5 The number of bodies has still not been determined since some body
6 parts are difficult to attribute to one or another individual and,
7 therefore, the figure, 153, remains an approximate one.
8 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: I will now allow myself to turn to the Defence,
9 and would like to ask a question: you do not intend to bring into
10 question your client's plea? You do not plan to change that, do you,
11 or to raise questions about it? Because you have just asked a
12 question which is one of the Tribunal, because the Tribunal has the
13 right to ask the questions and it will do it. But here, for not only
14 those that are listening to us, but all of those parties involved in
15 the case, understand what I am saying, you pleaded guilty. The role
16 of the Tribunal through all of the investigations and all the
17 questions it will ask during these two days for its own intimate
18 conviction will be to corroborate the depositions and statements of
19 the accused with the investigation. For these purposes, I will ask
20 the Prosecutor to supply us with all the testimonies. However, I do
21 allow myself to call your attention to the fact that if - I do not
22 want to prevent you from asking questions; of course, you can ask any
23 questions you like - I do allow myself to recall that you pleaded
24 guilty and that should you have the intention through the questions
25 that you were asking that implicitly you were going to throw a
1 question on the plea that you pleaded, it is now time to make this
2 clear. But it would not be fair to the Prosecutor who has prepared
3 himself according to certain types of procedures and not to another.
4 This is the observation that I have, but of course I am not going to
5 prevent you from asking the questions that you wish to ask.
6 MR. BABIC: Your Honours, Mr. President, I accept your objection but I
7 have been taught by a principle that the confession of the accused
8 does not always necessarily mean that - I just wanted that confession
9 to be supported even more. That was my intention.
10 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: We are still referring to the same question. We
11 must be very clear. Are you - I am asking a question now - asking the
12 Office of the Prosecutor to supply the results of the evaluations
13 which are now in progress having to do with the human remains or
14 traces of blood which were found in the municipal building? Are you
15 asking for this report or not? If so, we must suspend for the hearing
16 and wait for the observations of the Prosecutor or are you not asking
17 this at all?
18 MR. BABIC: Since the results are not yet known, I do not insist on
19 that, but I just wanted to say that it would be good in support of
20 the defence of my client, in support of his confession, to know them.
21 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Have you any other questions?
22 MR. BABIC: No, I do not have any further questions.
23 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Have you any comments, Mr. Prosecutor, having to
24 do with what was said by the Presiding Judge speaking to you and by
25 Mr. Babic before I give my colleagues the opportunity to ask any
1 questions they have? I give the floor to you now, Mr. Prosecutor.
2 MR. HARMON: I do not, your Honour.
3 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: I turn to my colleagues. Judge Odio Benito, have
4 you any questions you would like to ask?
5 Examined by the Court
6 JUDGE ODIO BENITO: Thank you. Mr. Ruez, I would like to be sure about
7 what you said here. You talked about Pilica school killings and you
8 talked about Pilica farm killings. Could you explain to me the link
9 between the Pilica school killings and the Pilica farm killings and
10 the role played by Mr. Erdemovic in both situations? Thank you.
11 THE WITNESS: In order to be clear, I mentioned three situations. The
12 first has to do with the events which took place in the Branjevo
13 farm; facts, acts, rather, in which the accused has been a
14 participant and for which he has pleaded guilty; then those that took
15 place in a public building in Pilica, acts that he was a witness of
16 which he reported to us and, last, acts which took place in the
17 Pilica school about which Drazen Erdemovic does not know anything,
18 which was a collection point for prisoners, where in fact there were
19 murders committed, but which I did not mention at this point which
20 made the made connection - in order to make the connection between
21 this school and the Branjevo farm, which was also the point of
22 execution for those prisoners that had been locked up in that school,
23 had we not had Drazen Erdemovic's testimony, we would not have been
24 able to discover through the investigation alone the place of the
25 execution of those prisoners who had been locked up in the Pilica
2 JUDGE RIAD [In translation]: Mr. Ruez, I heard you say, and I quote
3 you, "Mr. Erdemovic was required to go to the Branjevo farm without
4 knowing the nature of his mission". This statement is based on what?
5 Is this your own judgment or are there any witnesses or is this the
6 result of something he said to you?
7 THE WITNESS: When I explained the situation that took place on the
8 Branjevo farm, I was only giving a summary of these statements which
9 Drazen Erdemovic made during the various discussions that we had
10 together. I am only repeating his own words. At this point I have no
11 way of confirming the correctness or the incorrectness of what he has
13 JUDGE RIAD: So this is not your statement?
14 THE WITNESS: No.
15 JUDGE RIAD: I had understood this is what you were stating.
16 THE WITNESS: No, this is the summary of the statements by Drazen
18 JUDGE RIAD: Another question I would like to ask is that you stated
19 that there were 500 prisoners locked up in the public building in
20 Pilica, and then Mr. Erdemovic along with others refused to
21 participate in their execution. Could you tell us what you are basing
22 your statement on, which would allow you to say that he refused to do
23 what he had been told to do or to go there?
24 THE WITNESS: The first point has to do with the number of the
25 prisoners. At this point we would have no way of checking or knowing
1 independently what was the exact number of those persons locked up in
2 that building. The only information that we do have about this has to
3 do with something which was given to us by Erdemovic himself after
4 the declarations that the Lieutenant Colonel on the Branjevo farm
5 said who had told him to come and be a part of that execution. He is
6 the one who told us the number of the people who were involved in
7 this plan to execute people, about which during his declarations,
8 during the discussions we had together, he states that he refused to
9 participate in this. He says that he was the first to have opposed
10 participating in that execution and that he was immediately followed
11 by a certain number of his colleagues.
12 JUDGE RIAD: This was stated by some of his colleagues as well?
13 THE WITNESS: He was followed then, some of his colleagues refused
14 after he did to participate in the execution. Now I am only repeating
15 the statements that he made in the statement during the discussions
16 that he had with us.
17 JUDGE RIAD: Thank you. Mr. Ostberg, just a clarification: if you
18 remember, you mentioned - I quote you - that the Prosecutor had no
19 knowledge of the events prior to the confession of Mr. Erdemovic.
20 MR. OSTBERG: Yes.
21 JUDGE RIAD: Which events are you referring to exactly?
22 MR. OSTBERG: I am referring to the events that took place on the
23 farm, on the killings, and from that we got also the information of
24 the school and information about these killings in the town. As far
25 as I recall from our investigation of what we have done in this case,
1 the foundation for this information is the things we were told by
2 Erdemovic. That is the only source.
3 JUDGE RIAD: You had no clue when you were investigating the case of
5 MR. OSTBERG: No, none whatsoever about this place. The name of the
6 city or the environment of the city was not known to the Prosecutor
7 as a site for execution before Erdemovic gave his statements.
8 JUDGE RIAD: Thank you much.
9 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Mr. Ruez, I would like you to explain a bit more
10 about the Sabotage Unit to which Drazen Erdemovic belonged. Did it
11 consistent of volunteers? Was it a militia group? What is its status?
12 THE WITNESS: This kind of Unit is found within each division of the
13 Bosnian-Serb Army. The one Drazen Erdemovic belonged to is the 10th
14 Sabotage Unit. It seems to be particular in the reports right back to
15 central headquarters. So that is of direct relevance to our
16 investigation, because it means that Drazen Erdemovic's information
17 about events when it comes to the execution sites that they are so
18 far north of the enclave shows the extent of the logistics necessary
19 to carry out this kind of extermination operation as took place in
20 July '95. Given the fact that these were sites, these were schools,
21 it goes to show the organisation involved, the planning that was
22 required for these executions. The Unit that Erdemovic belonged to
23 gives an idea as to how the command was organised and how the
24 executions were planned following the taking of Srebrenica. So that
25 is something that is quite relevant in connection with his belonging
1 to the Sabotage Unit.
2 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: I had asked you whether it consisted of
3 volunteers. Was this an elite Corps, these men specially trained or,
4 in military terms, how would you assess it?
5 THE WITNESS: All I can tell you about this unit is based on Drazen
6 Erdemovic's statements. I do not know whether it is made up of
7 volunteers or whether people were compelled to join it. Drazen
8 Erdemovic only told us about his own situation. He said that he was
9 driven to join the army with needing a salary and feeding his wife
10 and child. He chose that Unit in so far as he said it consisted of
11 elements, men, who were not all of Serb nationality. So, given his
12 situation, that made life a little easier in that Unit because, on
13 the basis of what he said, he was constantly worried about his safety
14 because of his Croatian origin. So there were Serbian and Croats in
15 this 10th Sabotage Unit, so he felt more at ease there than he would
16 have in a Bosnian-Serb Unit.
17 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: So what you are saying then is that he
18 volunteered to be part of that Unit?
19 THE WITNESS: On the basis of his statements, when he was on Republika
20 Srpska territory for reasons he could best explain himself, he did
21 volunteer to join the army. There was not a wide choice, but he did
22 opt for the possibility of joining that Unit which, according to what
23 he said, was a Unit that carried out sabotage operations in enemy
25 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you. Are there any points that remain
1 obscure as far as this investigation goes, that is to say, could you
2 maybe list any points you have that are unclear in corroborating, as
3 it were, Mr. Erdemovic's testimony? So are there any points which you
4 think are of quite some significance and that call for some -
5 THE WITNESS: Well, my feeling is that as far as the topics go
6 directly related to the investigation, Drazen Erdemovic has co-
7 operated fully and comprehensively. I do not think that he kept any
8 information away from us.
9 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: That is something you might tell us later on. I
10 know you are eager to do so. I would rather you did not answer that
11 question right now. I have understood that the Office of the
12 Prosecutor is quite content with Mr. Erdemovic's co-operation. My
13 question is to you. You were in charge of the investigation about
14 Srebrenica. As things now stand, are there any points that are
15 obscure, that are contradictory, that you have not managed to clear
17 THE WITNESS: There are no contradictions in what Drazen Erdemovic has
18 said and what we have found independently in the course of the
19 investigation. There is nothing that conflicts with what he has said.
20 As regards all the topics we have broached, he has provided us with
21 full information.
22 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you. I have one last question, and I am
23 turning to Office of the Prosecutor. The Lieutenant Colonel was
24 referred to. Is he at present being accused by the International
25 Criminal Tribunal?
1 MR. HARMON: Your Honour, he has not yet been accused. The
2 investigation in respect of the Lieutenant Colonel continues.
3 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Are there any other investigations under way as
4 regards Drazen Erdemovic and his superiors? Are there any other
5 investigations under way besides the one relating to the Lieutenant
7 MR. HARMON: Your Honour, there certainly are. Our investigations are
8 comprehensive. They will be in respect of all aspects relating to the
9 summary executions at the Pilica farm and the hall, and other events
10 described by Mr. Ruez in his initial summary of the events relating
11 to the takeover of Srebrenica.
12 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: I apologise, Mr. Harmon, but I would like to
13 insist on this now. I by no means want you to reveal investigations
14 under way concerning other individuals, that is not the point here.
15 We are trying a man for his involvement in specific acts and that is
16 the Tribunal's mission, but it is also our mission to judge him on
17 the basis of the role of his superiors. That is why I put the
18 question to you about the Lieutenant Colonel. I think it would be
19 very important for the Tribunal to know whether at present those
20 investigations are under way and, in particular, as regards the
21 Lieutenant Colonel as he has been identified by the Office of the
23 MR. HARMON: Your Honour, my answer to that question is the same of
24 course. Our investigation is focused on a number of higher ranking
25 individuals responsible for the executions in and around Srebrenica
1 and, in particular, the executions that occurred at Pilica farm and
2 at the culture centre. One of the people we are investigating is the
3 Lieutenant Colonel who has been mentioned by Mr. Erdemovic. So my
4 answer is, yes, we do continue our investigations and, in particular,
5 in relation to the Lieutenant Colonel we are attempting to
6 investigate further his identity and elements relating to him.
7 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you. We shall now proceed to a break and
8 resume at 12 o'clock. At 12 o'clock we will hear what the Prosecution
9 plans to submit in respect of the two witnesses. They will be
10 protected, but there will also be questions from the Judges. Then
11 there will also be the matter of deciding whether we will be hearing
12 the accused Drazen Erdemovic. Then we will have to decide whether we
13 will hear him right away or after the witnesses called by the
14 Defence. We shall resume at 12 o'clock. 11.40 a.m. (The Court
15 adjourned for a short time). 12.00 p.m.
16 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: We shall resume. Please have the accused shown
17 in. The Chamber shall first of all hear from the Prosecutor's Office
18 about the two witnesses. Please proceed.
19 MR. HARMON: Yes, your Honour. If I may recall Mr. Ruez to the stand.
20 I propose that Mr. Ruez will give a summary to the Trial Chamber of
21 what was said by two identified survivors of the massacre at the
22 Pilica farm. I do not propose to have Mr. Ruez identify those
23 survivors by name.
24 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: The Trial Chamber - we had not yet taken a
25 decision in fact, but since you were quite confident that we would
1 give consent to your proposal, we are happy to welcome Mr. Ruez back.
2 Now you are to give us a summary of the two testimonies, needless to
3 say without identifying the persons involved. Subsequently, Mr.
4 Babic, the Office of the Prosecutor and the Judges will be able to
5 put questions to you. Please go ahead, Mr. Harmon.
6 MR. HARMON: Thank you very much. Mr. Ruez, has the Office of the
7 Prosecutor identified two survivors from the massacre at Pilica farm
8 on July 16th 1995?
9 A. Yes, that is right.
10 Q. Could you please summarise for the Trial Chamber what they have
11 informed the Office of the Prosecutor?
12 A. On the basis of the statements by these two persons to the Office
13 of the Prosecutor, these two persons were amid the people in the
14 Srebrenica enclave on 12th July 1995 when they were trying to get on
15 to a bus that was evacuating them and their families towards the
16 confrontation line, that is to say, towards Bosnian territory. They
17 were separated. They were placed in a building in Potocari and from
18 there they were evacuated with a group of prisoners towards Bratunac
19 where they were locked up in what is referred to as the old Bratunac
20 school which is a school that is behind the Vuk Karadzic school at
21 Bratunac. While they were there they described the acts of violence
22 that were perpetrated there against the other prisoners held. A lot
23 of prisoners were beaten. Some of them were probably executed outside
24 in so far as they could hear them yelling for help. Then they were
25 shots that were heard and then there was silence. That went on for
1 several days. Everyone was waiting for their own turn to be executed.
2 Finally, on 15th July the prisoners who had not been killed near that
3 school were evacuated, cleared from the building. They were loaded on
4 to buses and the buses headed northwards, past Zvornik and they went
5 to a school at the end of a dirt road. They gave a description of the
6 place which enabled us subsequently, with further details they
7 provided, to pinpoint the Pilica school as being the last place of
8 their detention. When they reached the Pilica school there is the
9 same treatment as the Bratunac school, that is to say, the prisoners
10 were once again beaten. Some of them were taken outside by soldiers.
11 They hear them screaming. They also hear the sound of gunfire shots.
12 Once again, they think that their turn is coming. Then in the morning
13 of 16th the soldiers who were guarding them tell them that they are
14 going to be part of a prisoner exchange. They ask some of them to buy
15 back their freedom, that if they have any money hidden on them to
16 give it to them, and some prisoners do that. In the end all the
17 prisoners have their hands tied behind their backs and by small
18 groups they are loaded on the buses. The buses leave the Pilica
19 school and take the dirt road that leads to a field that is just a
20 few minutes away from where they were held. Once there the buses are
21 guarded by two military policemen, that is for each bus. The
22 prisoners were unloaded from the buses in small groups and led to the
23 field. They can see that there are already bodies there lying
24 scattered around. There is an execution squad that is set up behind
25 them. So they line up in front of it and the execution squad starts
1 firing at them. They were so fortunate as to survive that event. They
2 were there amongst the bodies for the remainder of the afternoon.
3 They waited for sunset to crawl to freedom and they headed off to
4 where they were intercepted by a patrol. Then they were taken to
5 Zvornik and put into a prisoner camp. They were registered there by
6 the Red Cross and subsequently exchanged.
7 MR. HARMON: I have no further questions, your Honour.
8 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you. Mr. Babic?
9 MR. BABIC: I have no further questions, your Honours.
10 JUDGE RIAD: Mr. Ruez, from what you have told us, if I have
11 understood rightly, it is a school, it is an execution in the school
12 that we are referring to. Do you have similar chronological
13 information about what happened at the Branjevo farm where the
14 accused was present as well?
15 THE WITNESS: Yes, with regard to the Branjevo farm events that have
16 already been outlined, the scenario is quite similar to how the
17 survivors said things happened and the details as to the violence
18 there has also been set forth by Drazen Erdemovic, the fact that
19 those injured were left to suffer, that they were then executed
20 individually if they gave any signs of life. So it was quite savage
21 the way the perpetrators behaved. We have the same information from
22 the survivors and Drazen Erdemovic. So that goes for Banjevo farm as
24 JUDGE RIAD: Yes, but do you have any more detailed information, in
25 particular as regards the participation of Erdemovic?
1 THE WITNESS: None of the survivors were able to identify anyone. They
2 had to look down. If they looked up they were beaten and subjected
3 even to being executed right there if they tried to see what was
4 going on around them. They cannot formally identify the farm for the
5 same reasons, which makes it quite likely that these people survived
6 the same events as described by Drazen Erdemovic. It is the same
7 date, 16th July. They were already there the day before. If the
8 executions did take place nearby, given the large numbers involved,
9 they would have heard the events happening.
10 JUDGE RIAD: What about the measures taken before the executions, the
11 torture, the means used? Do you have more information about how the
12 prisoners were treated?
13 THE WITNESS: Well, the events in situ as I outlined, the savage
14 behaviour on the part of the perpetrators, the executions as have
15 been reported by the various parties. There is nothing I can add to
16 that, unless you want me to go into great deal.
17 JUDGE RIAD: About the savage behaviour?
18 THE WITNESS: Well, yes, as Drazen Erdemovic has said, initially
19 things were fairly well organised. The prisoners were brought before
20 the firing squad. They were executed but, little by little, Drazen
21 Erdemovic's mates, as it were, start drinking. They do not have the
22 patience. They cannot wait for the military police to unload people.
23 They charged the buses. They hit the prisoners with iron bars and
24 beat some of them. They humiliate their victims, they insult them.
25 All of these acts have also been described by the survivors. Now
1 individual executions, because after the process of execution the
2 perpetrators checked to see whether anyone is still alive and there
3 is then an individual killing, that is if anyone is alive, and what
4 was said corresponds in both cases. The executions, the collective
5 executions, that we have dealt with in the course of the
6 investigation revealed a similar scenario. There is an execution, a
7 general execution and then there is a check to see that everyone is
8 indeed dead. Then there is a fairly quick execution of any survivors,
10 JUDGE RIAD: So what the survivors have said and what Mr.
11 Erdemovic has said is more or less identical?
12 THE WITNESS: There are no major differences and there is no reason,
13 therefore, to believe that what has been said is untrue. So one can
14 take it that both parties are sincere in what they said.
15 JUDGE RIAD: Was there a direct superior of Mr. Erdemovic who was in
16 control of the situation?
17 THE WITNESS: Well, the names of the perpetrators have already been
18 stated in the course of this public hearing in July. Drazen Erdemovic
19 has always given the name of the participants in the atrocities, that
20 is to say, he has given the names of his fellow soldiers, the names
21 of the people who ever participated in the atrocities.
22 JUDGE RIAD: What about superiors, did he tell you who his superiors
24 THE WITNESS: Yes, he gave the name of the leader of the execution
25 squad as well as the names of the seven other members of the Unit.
12 Blank pages inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts. Pages 161 to 173.
1 JUDGE RIAD: The head of that Unit, where is he? What do we know about
3 THE WITNESS: He should still be at Bijeljina right now.
4 JUDGE RIAD: There is no means to carry out an investigation about it?
5 Maybe Mr. Harmon. Can I repeat the question?
6 MR. HARMON: Yes please, your Honour.
7 JUDGE RIAD: As far as the superiors of Mr. Erdemovic are concerned or
8 the direct superiors, do you have any information concerning him and
9 is there an investigation on the way?
10 MR. HARMON: By virtue of the information provided to us by Mr.
11 Erdemovic, we have the identifications of the some of the superiors
12 and our investigation is focused on those individuals as well as
13 others. As I mentioned previously, your Honour, our investigations
14 are ongoing in relation to this event. They have not concluded.
15 JUDGE RIAD: Thank you very much.
16 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: I would like to supplement the question that my
17 colleague asked you. We can state that we are somewhat surprised that
18 Drazen Erdemovic is here before this Tribunal, because he himself
19 confessed to the crimes that he committed, but since in the end you
20 place a great deal of weight on his words, which we all do, we can in
21 fact be surprised that there has not yet been an accusation or an
22 indictment made against one of these people, for example, the head of
23 execution squad. A little while ago I was speaking about the
24 Lieutenant Colonel, but what about the other executives? We could go
25 very up in the chain of command. It is natural for Erdemovic to be
1 tried here, but you are putting a lot of weight on his words having
2 to do with himself but we are surprised - I am now no more speaking
3 about the Lieutenant Colonel about whom you gave us some evidence,
4 but about the other people who were there. For example, the head of
5 execution squad, he is identified, he is named and the Tribunal
6 really has to ask the question. It is not at all, Mr. Prosecutor,
7 being done in order to criticise the way you work in your office, but
8 it is simply because we must try a man and, in order to try a man, he
9 must be placed within the total scope of the events which took place.
10 MR. HARMON: Your Honour, in response to that, I believe that by
11 virtue of the evidence that has been presented today we can certainly
12 put Mr. Erdemovic and his role in these events and his relationship
13 to other individuals in perspective. On the issue of when the
14 Prosecutor's Office intends to issue indictments, obviously those are
15 matters that are under discussion by the Prosecutor. I would prefer
16 not addressing those publicly with the Court at this time.
17 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: We have noted your answer. I would now like to
18 ask a question of Jean Rene Ruez. When you spoke about what had been
19 said by the survivors, you said that the story of what had happened
20 corroborated what Mr. Erdemovic has said. The question I would like
21 to ask is the following. What is your feeling about the sincerity of
22 Erdemovic's confession? Specifically, it has to do with the details
23 or any additional details. Let me explain what I mean. You have said
24 that this scenario was always the same. In the beginning, and you
25 will excuse my euphemism, things were relatively organised. It is
1 difficult to speak about organisation which is well put forward in
2 something which is so grim, but after that happens everything goes
3 wrong. Some of the people seem to enjoy hurting the prisoners who
4 were there. This is what Erdemovic has told you, but I would like to
5 ask you what your feeling about this is. Do you have the feeling that
6 Erdemovic minimised his own role or an approximately correct
7 description of what happened? This is very important when it has to
8 do with the attenuating or mitigating circumstances which are the
9 central point of this hearing. It is easy, of course, to say that the
10 others were drinking, that the others were hitting people with iron
11 bars, that I did not do it, I did the minimum. I know you do not have
12 any proof about this, but what is the feeling you have?
13 THE WITNESS: I do understand the essence of your questions. In order
14 to answer it I would say that have having to do with the points in
15 his statement, there were many which we were able to corroborate and
16 the verification that we carried out was what led to the confirmation
17 of the events as they took place as they have been described. The
18 details of how these things were done, as you said, we have no way of
19 investigating this in order to be sure that these have been correctly
20 related. My opinion, and this is to the credit of Drazen Erdemovic,
21 is that he volunteered to come to state the facts before this
22 Tribunal. Likewise, he took the risk of identifying the perpetrators
23 to lead to their arrest and that possibly one day they would hear
24 their version of the facts. My personal point of view is that this
25 approach, that is the way he describes his role in the events, makes
1 what he says credible. I repeat that we are still investigating this.
2 So long as we do not have access to other perpetrators and to their
3 version of facts as they might relate them, we are not in a position
4 in order to give a definitive judgment about this point.
5 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you for your answer. Therefore, you are
6 only confirming what the Tribunal has already noted about the other
7 participants. The Tribunal would like to have this information so it
8 can do its work impartially. If there are no other questions, I think
9 we can thank Mr. Ruez. Remain available to the Tribunal, please,
10 because within another sequence in these hearings we will have the
11 opportunity of speaking about attenuating or mitigating circumstances
12 having to do with the co-operation of Erdemovic with the Office of
13 the Prosecutor. You have already spoken about this to some extent and
14 we will speak about it again. I thank now for what you have said. You
15 can now go back to your office. Having to do with what is going to
16 come next, the Tribunal has decided that it will hear Drazen
17 Erdemovic before the Defence witnesses. Since it is now 12.30 we
18 suggest that we should resume at 2.30 with the testimony of Drazen
19 Erdemovic. For the time being the session has been adjourned.
20 12.30 p.m. (2.30 p.m.)
21 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: The hearing is resumed. Turning to the
22 Registrar, would you please have the accused ushered in? I believe
23 the photographers have finished. As the Tribunal announced at the end
24 of this morning's session, the Tribunal has decided that it would
25 hear as a witness Mr. Drazen Erdemovic. He will be listened to about
1 the facts. The Trial Chamber will not at this time listen to anything
2 about mitigating or attenuating circumstances which will be pleaded
3 by his own lawyer or by the Prosecution. He can present the facts and
4 the Judges, therefore, can see how the accused reacted to the facts
5 which he is going to recount, and how they have been recorded both in
6 the indictment and through the testimonies, either oral or in
7 writing, those of Mr. Ruez and any anonymous witnesses who will be
8 called to testify. Mr. Erdemovic, would you rise, please? Please take
9 your place at the witness box.
10 MR. DRAZEN ERDEMOVIC called.
11 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Mr. Erdemovic, do you hear me in your own
13 THE WITNESS [In translation]: Yes.
14 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Since you are standing, would you please read
15 the declaration which all witnesses must make?
16 THE WITNESS [In translation]: I solemnly declare that I will speak
17 the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. (The witness
18 was sworn)
19 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Mr. Erdemovic, please be seated. The Tribunal is
20 going to ask you to recount the facts in which you played a part and
21 for which you have been accused specifically with the charge of crime
22 against humanity. After that, the Judges will ask you questions.
23 There are questions which, if you do not wish to, you do not have to
24 answer. The Tribunal will deduce from that what it will deduce but,
25 for the time being, since you are testifying under oath, you will
1 recount the acts, the acts for which you have been charged, before
2 the International Criminal Tribunal. We give you the floor. Would you
3 please tell us under what conditions you came about to be involved in
4 the crimes which were committed at the farm where you found yourself.
5 THE WITNESS: Your Honours, I would first like to say that I did not
6 wish to do that. It was - I was under orders. If I had not done that,
7 my family would have been hurt and nothing would have been changed.
8 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: I would like to stop you right here. I would
9 like you to answer what the Tribunal has asked you. We must
10 understand one another. First of all, do you hear me? The Tribunal is
11 not asking you to say that you did not want to commit the crimes for
12 which you have been accused and for which you have appeared. You will
13 be asked about those but, for the time being, the Judges are asking
14 you to recount, to give us the story of the acts from the time that
15 you were involved in this Sabotage Division until that moment when
16 you left the farm complex, when you fired your last shot. Do you
17 understand me? Do you hear me? Then, as far as the rest is concerned,
18 your counsel will say it - we know that he will - you will say it,
19 you will have the opportunity to say it and to prove it as well, but
20 for this moment, for right now, we would like to know how you
21 experienced and how you participated in these acts and, moreover, the
22 Judges will ask you specific questions dealing with these acts. Did
23 you understand what I said?
24 THE WITNESS: Yes, yes, I have. I joined the 10th Sabotage Detachment
25 approximately on 1st April 1994. Before that, together with my wife,
1 I left Tuzla and came to Republika Srpska, more precisely, to
2 Bijeljina on 3rd November '93. So from that day until April '94 I was
3 not a member of the army of the Republika Srpska, although I was
4 under an obligation to do so. I kept hiding in Serbia as long as I
5 could and as long as me and my wife had enough money for that. When
6 the money ran out, when problems started in Serbia and Republika
7 Srpska and in Bosnia and Herzegovina, I went back to my wife's uncle
8 in Foca. When we arrived in Foca, and I am a Croat, I went to report
9 my nationality. I went there to tell them the story how it came about
10 that I ended up in Republika Srpska. They told me that my wife could
11 stay in Foca because she is a Serbian. They told me that I should go
12 back to Bijeljina because I had come there. They also told me that
13 they could not guarantee my safety in Foca because there were only
14 Serbs living there. So I asked my wife's uncle what it was all about,
15 and he told me certain stories. I accepted that as a fact, so I had
16 to leave Foca and go back to Bijeljina. When I arrived in Bijeljina,
17 I went around, I went to the town hall. I went to register myself
18 because the only document I had was my identification card which was
19 issued in Tuzla. So when I got there, they immediately requested to
20 see my papers, papers from my Unit, so that I could report myself to
21 get some accommodation and everything else that I needed. There was a
22 police raid that day in Bijeljina and I was with a friend of mine who
23 is a Serb and the police approached us and they wanted to see our
24 laisser passers, military passes. I did not have anything but,
25 luckily, this man who was with me had some papers and he told me - he
1 told them that I was a Croat from Tuzla, but I had helped many Serbs
2 to leave Tuzla and reach the Republika Srpska. But they told me to go
3 to the military department because I had no rights whatsoever because
4 I was a Croat and I did not possess any document issued by the
5 Republika Srpska. So, as I told Mr. Ruez, I went there alone. I was
6 not taken there by the police. So I went to this military department
7 and I told them everything that I have just told you. They presented
8 me with two options: the 10th Sabotage Detachment, which had several
9 Croats in it, one Slovenian and one Muslim. They also told me about
10 another Unit, a Unit in which there were people who later on - who
11 wanted to kill me when I went - when I left Tuzla. So I chose this
12 other Unit. It was - it appeared more safe for me. I went to an
13 interview with the Commander of that Unit and he asked certain Croats
14 who had known me from before, he asked them about my character, and
15 they told him that I was a good and honest person and that is how he
16 admitted me to the Unit. So, I asked him what was the task of that -
17 what was the mission of that Unit, and they told me it was mostly
18 exclusively reconnaissance tasks. We were not securing any front
19 lines. We did not - we were not doing other things, as the army of
20 Republika Srpska. So I thought, and I said that to Mr. Ruez, that
21 that was the only option for me and my wife who at that time was
22 pregnant. I had nowhere else to go. Everything was all right with
23 that Commander. We got along very well. He gave me the rank of
24 sergeant, and while he was in charge I, unfortunately, saved only one
25 life. It is the man who was given pseudonym X and who will testify I
1 saved his life. So that Commander - I told him that story. I told him
2 that I had saved one life and he said it was all right and he said
3 that is what I should have done. After that, in October there was a
4 change in the command and the Unit was extended. The Commander of our
5 Unit became Lieutenant Milorad Pelemis. The relations were suddenly
6 changed and certain nationalists amongst soldiers were becoming more
7 important and only those people who thought as Pelemis were approved
8 of. They did not think about honesty of other people and so on. So,
9 as I said, I had a conflict with Pelemis after an operation that I
10 refused. I was in charge of that group, I was its Commander and I was
11 given an assignment. They provided me with all the necessary
12 information and I left to carry out that task together with three
13 other colleagues. They had to obey me because I was their Commander
14 at the time. I was in charge and we had to go to the territory which
15 was under the control of the army of the Republic of Bosnia and
16 Herzegovina. So I refused to carry out that task, because I told them
17 that I had been given false information and that some civilians could
18 get hurt, lots of civilians, both - and also that some soldiers,
19 many soldiers of the army, of the Bosnian Army, could get killed and
20 our soldiers as well. So that was the report that I submitted and my
21 colleagues confirmed that report. They were very good people. On
22 several days after from the main headquarters Colonel Petar Salapura
23 arrived. He was the main intelligence officer in the headquarters. We
24 were invited, myself and other Commanders who were there, and the
25 meeting was mainly about my behaviour and the behaviour of certain
1 other individuals. They told me that I was lying, that I could not
2 behave that way, that I had let a prisoner go, that I had saved one
3 prisoner's life (and that is the man who is going to testify today),
4 that I was refusing orders and so on. That is when I was demoted.
5 They took away my rank and I said, "OK, you think that I am lying, so
6 please go and try to carry out that task", and that was all. My
7 colleagues, other soldiers whom I think very good, from my group,
8 they were very honest and I think they are grateful to me because I
9 never ever allowed to expose them to some shady deals, difficult
10 operations. After that, as I told you, problems started with Pelemis.
11 I was being threatened, abused. There were all kinds of things
12 happening. I do not remember all of them. So, as I told you, my rank
13 was taken off, and then came the month of July when everything
14 happened in Srebrenica, and I was assigned together with other
15 soldiers - I was a simple soldier at that time - to go there. They
16 did not tell us where we were going. They just told us to pack our
17 things and to go. So when we arrived there, they told us, "You are in
18 Srebrenica. Tomorrow you should get ready and you will be given
19 assignments". So they told us some details. They just told us that,
20 "It is probably going to be very tough", and so on. They also told us
21 that Muslims were very extreme in that area and things like that. So
22 the next day we set off. Yes, there was an order that we should not
23 harm civilians, that soldiers should not harm civilians. So, as I
24 could see it at that time, soldiers were not shooting at civilians
25 who had surrendered. So we set off that morning and around 11
1 o'clock, 11.15 - I remember the hour because NATO planes bombed the
2 artillery of the army of the Republika Srpska at that time - we
3 entered the area with no resistance whatsoever, and I was surprised
4 to see only maybe 100 of civilians in the town, only 100. So when we
5 reached the centre of the town, they told us that everything was over
6 and that we should stop and wait for the next command. Then Pelemis
7 arrived. So he gathered us and he told me and four of my colleagues
8 to go back and to report to him when Commander Mladic is coming to
9 town. So that is what we did. We left to the southern area of
10 Srebrenica. I did not know it was that area, but that was what Mr.
11 Ruez explained to me when I got here. He told me that that was the
12 southern part of the town. That day went smooth and, yes, I did see
13 something. I did see when Pelemis ordered a soldier to kill a
14 civilian who was approximately 30 years old. That was all I saw that
15 day. The next day we spent the night in the southern part of the
16 town, in a house, and the next day there was an order -
17 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: What day are you talking about, please, the
18 events you have just outlined?
19 THE WITNESS: The 11th of July. So on 12th July we received an order -
20 that is what Pelemis told us - to go back, that everything has been -
21 that everything had been completed and that there was nothing else to
22 do. So we went away in our vehicles, but our vehicle who was the last
23 one in the column broke down and caught fire. That is why we were
24 very late. We arrived in Vlasenica. There was a base in Vlasenica of
25 the Vlasenica platoon and we learned when we got there that an APC
1 had overturned and that a soldier was killed. Nothing really happened
2 that day. It was already evening. We spent the night there, and the
3 next morning when I got up I said that I would go to the funeral of
4 that soldier who had got killed because he used to be in my group. So
5 I went to his funeral. We buried this comrade and we came back to
6 Vlasenica. The next day in the morning when we got up I got a new
7 order. They told us that there was a task to be accomplished. The
8 Commander of the group was Brano Gojkovic. I was a member of that
9 group, a soldier, and seven other soldiers were also members of that
10 group. We were told to report in Zvornik. Well, apparently, they told
11 Brano where we were going, but I had no idea. So Brano reported to
12 Lieutenant Colonel, to a headquarters with those military police
13 units. So 10 minutes later this Lieutenant Colonel got out. He was in
14 the company of two military policemen and he told our driver to
15 follow his vehicle. The Lieutenant Colonel took us to a farm. I did
16 not know the name of that farm. I just explained the location. I knew
17 that the village of Pilica was there, but it was only when we got
18 there that I learned what was happening. They told us that a bus load
19 of civilians would come from Srebrenica. I said immediately that I
20 did not want to take part in that and I said, "Are you normal? Do you
21 know what you are doing?" But nobody listened to me and they told me,
22 "If you do not wish to, if you - you can just go and stand in the
23 line together with them. You can give us your rifle." I told you last
24 time, if I had been alone, if I had not had my wife and a son, I
25 would have fled and something else would have happened. I had to do
1 that. I was forced to do that. Then buses started arriving. They took
2 out people in groups of 10. They took them to the meadow. So we
3 started shooting at those people. I do not know exactly. To be
4 honest, I could not follow. It was simply I felt sick. I had a
5 headache. I tried to avoid it as much as I could, try to avoid taking
6 part in it. I wanted to save one man, but they would not let me. This
7 man told me that he had helped many Serbs to leave Srebrenica and go
8 to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. So I knew that this man - I
9 told them that this man had helped Serbs but that did not help. They
10 told me, Brano told me that he did not want to have any witness to
11 the crime. I kept silent and then a group of soldiers from Bratunac
12 arrived and, as I told Mr. Ruez, they were just taking it out on
13 those people. They beat them with iron bars. They cursed them. As for
14 my group, nobody beat them with iron bars, but Stanka Savanovic,
15 Brano were those who killed most of those people and Savanovic told
16 us the reason why. He said that Muslims had killed his brother who
17 had been 17 years old at that time. I do not know about Brano. After
18 that, around 3 o'clock, I do not know the exact time, but I believe
19 it was around 3.00 p.m., this Lieutenant Colonel came again together
20 with those two military policemen and he told us that in the culture
21 hall in Pilica there were, and that is what he said, that there were
22 around 500 Muslim prisoners who were about to break out and flee. I
23 said that I no longer wished to do it and then I am nobody's robot
24 for killing. I just want to tell one more thing. If anyone had told
25 me at that moment to kill that Lieutenant Colonel, I would have done
1 so. Three of my colleagues stood by me and they refused to go. So
2 they gave up the idea. However, those people from Bratunac went
3 there. We heard some shots. We heard some explosions and Brano
4 Gojkovic said that the Lieutenant Colonel had told us to come to a
5 meeting, and the meeting was supposed to take place in a cafe across
6 of the culture hall. I was not really paying attention to what the
7 Lieutenant Colonel was saying. I was not interested at all. So, while
8 I was there in that cafe, I was just listening to those shots and
9 explosions. After that, after those people from Bratunac came to the
10 cafe, the Lieutenant Colonel said that we were finished and that he
11 wanted to talk to them alone. So, we got up and left. I said that I
12 wanted to go home to see my child. That was it. So we went back to
13 Vlasenica and in the evening we were bussed to Bijeljina. I got home.
14 I wanted so much to see my child and my wife and when I got home I
15 simply could not, I do not know, I cannot describe it. I could not
16 sleep. Those days after that I started drinking. I just hated myself.
17 I went out. I did not want to be at home. I was afraid to be home. I
18 wanted to be among people. I just wanted to drink. My wife asked me
19 what was happening with me and I said, "Nothing, nothing is
20 happening". She noticed something. She knew because she had known me
21 from before. I used to be very cheerful. I used to take her out down
22 town together with my son. We used to go to a swimming pool which is
23 in the vicinity of our home. I stopped doing all that. I do not know.
24 I would spend only about two hours at home. After that something
25 happened which I knew was going to happen. Kremenovic came to see me.
1 I met with him and he told me that he had refused an assignment which
2 was ordered by Pelemis and Salapura, and he told me he had had a
3 conflict with them and Pelemis, apparently, told him that, "You and I
4 will have to clear certain things and we will have to know who the
5 Commander of the Unit is". So, on the next day, on 23rd July, there
6 was a meeting about, concerning, orders that were issued by the
7 command and concerning some other matters, something about us
8 soldiers, soldiers of the Sabotage Detachment. But during the night
9 of 22nd, as I said, I was down town. I had been drinking. That
10 evening Savanovic, Stanko, who particularly enjoyed killing, shot at
11 myself, Kremenovic and another colleague. I was hit by two bullets,
12 one in my stomach and one in my lungs. I suffered very serious
13 consequences. I had to undergo two operations of my stomach, two
14 operations of my lungs on the left side of my chest. Kremenovic and
15 this other friend sustained some minor injuries. I stayed one month
16 in hospital, I do not know exactly how long, in the Federal Republic
17 of Yugoslavia in Belgrade at the Military Academy Hospital. So when I
18 went back to Bijeljina I went home. I knew what could happen to me. I
19 told my wife to go back to her parents, to Tuzla, and to take our son
20 with her. That is what happened. I managed at the very last moment to
21 send my wife and my son to her parents and that is how I started my
22 journey to The Hague, to tell what had happened to those miserable
23 people. But when I gave an interview to a journalist of the NBC
24 network, we were arrested in Yugoslavia. We were questioned there.
25 They asked us why and how, and I told them, and I told the people
1 from the security of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, I told them
2 how it all happened, how I was forced to do that, I had to do it.
3 That is what I told the Court in Novi Sad and that is what I have
4 told here and that is all I have to say.
5 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Judge Odio Benito, have you any questions you
6 would like to ask? Examined by the Court
7 JUDGE ODIO BENITO: Yes, thank you. Mr. Erdemovic, after being a
8 member of the 10th Sabotage Unit, were you a member of other army or
9 paramilitary groups in Bosnia-Herzegovina?
10 A. No. Q. So this was your first experience as a soldier in Bosnia-
12 A. No. When I was in Tuzla, I was in the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina
13 and I was also in the HVO. These were regular units in Bosnia.
14 Q. Why did you leave the HVO?
15 A. Why did I leave the HVO? Because when I helped a group of Serb
16 civilians, most of them were women and children, they arrested me.
17 Soldiers from the HVO arrested me, and they beat me up and they
18 harassed me as if I had killed the entire world. I helped women and
19 children, that is why.
20 Q. Women and children coming from where?
21 A. Some were from Dragunja, from my village. There were of Serb
22 nationality and from the surroundings of Tuzla, because their
23 husbands had left and gone to Republika Srpska beforehand and they
24 left them there on the territory under Muslim control or Croat/Muslim
1 Q. So you were beaten because you were helping Serb people?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Being a member of this Sabotage Unit, did you receive any salary?
4 A. Yes, but not regularly.
5 Q. Did you sign any contract to be a member of this army?
6 A. Yes, I think, I do not know exactly, but the authorities from the
7 Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had that contract and my membership
8 card, a card stating that I belonged to that Unit. I do not know if
9 they sent it in with all my other papers. I do not know that exactly.
10 It was taken away from me in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia when
11 I was arrested.
12 Q. Do you remember who signed this contract between you and the
13 Serbian Army, the name of the official who signed beside you?
14 A. The contract was signed by Sergeant Pelemis (who was then a
15 Sergeant) and General Ratko Mladic.
16 Q. Do you remember what this contract said in order to your duties?
17 A. That contract said that I would be treated as a soldier until
18 1997. I do not know exactly what it said, but, how shall I put this,
19 it is not that it had something to do or - how should I explain this
20 - something that was against the law. It is not that there was
21 something that was against international law or any other kind of
23 Q. At that time have you heard something about what happened in
24 Vukovar Hospital?
25 A. No.
1 Q. What were the missions this Sabotage Unit was asked to perform?
2 A. As I already said, reconnaissance in enemy territory, placing
3 explosives in the artillery of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Of
4 course, also intelligence. That is part of reconnaissance.
5 Q. Intelligence missions?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Do you remember when you were in Pilica farm at what time did you
8 start to shoot the people?
9 A. I cannot remember exactly, but I think it was about 10 o'clock,
10 10.30. I do not know exactly. I think that is the way it was.
11 Q. In the morning?
12 A. Yes. Yes, in the morning.
13 Q. At what time did you stop in the afternoon?
14 A. I will tell you, it was all completed, I mean, it all stopped at 3
15 o'clock in the afternoon, I think. I do not know exactly. Yes, 3
16 o'clock, but we did not take part in it until the end. The people
17 came from Bratunac. That is what I told the people from - the
18 gentlemen from the Prosecution. They were the ones who finished it. I
19 do not know exactly when it stopped, but I think it was about 3
21 Q. How many people were shooting at the same time?
22 A. At the same time? I can tell, as far as my own people are
23 concerned, the people I was with, eight people were shooting at the
24 same time, eight of us, and I cannot say anything about the people
25 from Bratunac because I do not know. I was not shooting with them. I
1 do not know.
2 Q. What kind of weapon were you wearing or using?
3 A. I personally had an automatic rifle, kalashnikov, and some people
4 had pistols, 7.62 millimetre calibre pistols.
5 Q. So you were using a kalashnikov rifle?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Did you know at the time of anyone who was shot for having
8 disobeyed orders?
9 A. You know, I will tell you, I am sure that I would have been killed
10 had I refused to obey because I remember that Pelemis had already
11 ordered one man to slaughter another man, and I am familiar with some
12 other orders, I mean, what a Commander was entitled to do if he was
13 disobeyed; he could order this person's liquidation immediately. I
14 had seen quite a bit of that over those few days and it was quite
15 clear to me what it was all about.
16 Q. Do you have any idea how many people did you kill?
17 A. I do not know how many people I killed, nor would I like to know
18 how many people I killed, but I did tell Mrs. Vanessa Vasic Janekovic
19 that I killed 70 people. That is what I told her and that is what I
20 told the Court in Novi Sad, but I wish to tell you, it destroyed me,
21 it killed me. I simply thought that my life was worthless after that.
22 I lost everything I had. Finally, I lost my wife, my child. We
23 parted. I just wanted the truth to be known and for someone to
24 understand that this actually happened and how these people had lost
25 their lives because, as we heard today, nobody knew about the place
1 of Pilica, that a crime had happened there and what kind of a crime.
2 Perhaps that is where most people were killed. To have someone
3 believe me that I really had to do it, that I did not want to do it.
4 That is why.
5 Q. Were they all men, young men?
6 A. I said - I told the investigator that I think - I do not know, I
7 did not check - that they were from age 17 to 60, only men.
8 JUDGE ODIO BENITO: Thank you. No further questions.
9 JUDGE RIAD: Mr. Erdemovic, I would like to proceed with you
10 chronologically, according to what you have been testifying. You went
11 to Republika Srpska on 3rd November 1993. What did you do before
13 A. Before that I was at home and, as I said, before that I was in the
14 army of Bosnia and Herzegovina. When the HVO was established in
15 Tuzla, I was asked to join the military police of HVO. I was a
17 Q. So you changed sides several times. What forced you to go from the
18 Bosnia-Herzegovina to the Croat military and then afterwards to go to
19 the Republika Srpska?
20 A. First of all, I did not want that. I did not wish to do so. I
21 wanted to get away from the war as much as I possible. I went to the
22 HVO because I was called upon to join the military police, because
23 they stayed behind the front line and they were securing the control
24 points, checkpoints, rather.
25 Q. You joined the military police, the Croat military police?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. And yet you are a Croat?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. But you also joined the Bosnia-Herzegovina and then you joined the
5 Republika Srpska?
6 A. Yes, I said under what circumstances, how I joined the army. I
7 want to explain this. I did not want to fight a war. I could not
8 leave Bosnia. I did not have a passport. I did not have anything, no
9 papers, and I needed quite a few papers. First of all, in the army of
10 Bosnia-Herzegovina I was there because I was asked to join. I was
11 mobilized and I did not commit any crimes, and I could never dream of
12 what would happen to me in the Republika Srpska. I was in the HVO. I
13 did not commit any crimes there. I did not do any harm to anybody. I
14 did not go to Republika Srpska so that I would join the army. I went
15 there a because a man, a Serb, had promised me; he has three sons in
16 Switzerland, that he would transfer me to Switzerland, not that I
17 would stay in Republika Srpska. As far as the army of Republika
18 Srpska is concerned, I joined them six months after I got out. I got
19 out on the 3rd November '93 and after six months, in April '94, I had
20 to join the army of Republika Srpska.
21 Q. When you say you had to, you were forced to because you needed
22 money or did they force you to join this Unit?
23 A. No, not because of the money, because of my life. I did not have
24 any documents. Careful, a Croat, I mean it is not important a Croat,
25 but even a Serb, if he was not in the army of Republika Srpska, he
1 did not have freedom of movement. He did not have anything, nothing.
2 Where could I go? They could simply catch me in the street and say
3 that I was a Croat spy and kill me without passing a verdict,
4 nothing. Is it my fault that I tried to save my life - not only my
5 own, but also of my wife and of my child? Am I to be blamed for that?
6 Q. Please make clear, did you have any choice to go back to Croatia,
7 to your country, or you were forced, you were urged to come into the
8 10th Unit of Sabotage? Did you have the choice to go back to your
10 A. I told you, I told the distinguished lady Judge that I was beaten
11 up by the Croats, not the Muslims, but the Croats because I helped
12 the Serbs. So where could I go back to? To go back to get killed,
13 right? I did not have any choice. Had I had a choice, I did not want
14 to fight a war. I did not vote for any national party. I liked my
15 life. I liked my comrades. I liked my friends. I lost different
16 friends of various nationalities. I did not want any of that; all of
17 that because of that Mafia that led us, all of us, the ordinary
18 people, that led us into a war, and that is why I am testifying here
19 today and that is what I am living for.
20 Q. When you chose to go into the 10th Sabotage Unit, were you aware
21 of exactly the mission this Unit had? Was it known, was there a
22 common knowledge about their mission?
23 A. Yes. 100 per cent. I was 100 per cent aware of what the missions
24 were and that is precisely why I decided to stay on in that Unit
25 because it did not involve the loss of human lives. It involved
1 artillery, old iron. That is why I stayed in that unit.
2 Q. You mentioned that in the beginning you refused to take action
3 under Pelemis, I suppose he was your superior. The result was that
4 you were degraded. Was that right?
5 A. First of all, Pelemis came in October and I was there from April
6 '94 in that Unit and Pelemis came in October '94. The first Commander
7 we had, I agreed with him. He saw that I was an honest man and that I
8 was the only soldier who was married. I was the youngest soldier and
9 I was the only one who was married and I was supposed to get a child
10 soon. I was honest. First of all, I was not a nationalist. I did not
11 hate anybody. I did not hate Muslims or Croats or Serbs. Honest
12 people, but those who are dishonest I cannot like or love them. Of
13 course I am not going to kill them, but I am going to say anything
14 against them. When Pelemis came, that is when these things started
15 taking place. I tell you now, I mean, some kind of orders that I did
16 not like. They were related to the loss of human lives. That is it.
17 That is why I had problems with Pelemis and not only me, but also
18 others who agreed with me; Kremenovic also who was his deputy, he
19 also had problems.
20 Q. So you were able to refuse the orders under Pelemis and then you
21 mentioned also that after the executions in Pilica you also refused
22 to go on and kill the 500 who were in this hall, is that right?
23 A. Yes, but I wish to explain to you. I mean, my refusal of previous
24 orders, I refused Pelemis's orders when I was the Commander and when
25 I was the one who submitted reports, not when somebody else was the
1 Commander, because when somebody else was the Commander I was not
2 allowed to refuse orders because if I would create problems, then he
3 would be killed immediately, and if I was in command, then I would
4 reach agreement with these other people who were soldiers, and it is
5 on those conditions that I refused an order of Pelemis's. The rest,
6 you said that I refused to go to this public building. That is true,
7 yes. I was fed up. I do not know. I cannot explain, describe, how I
8 felt then. I had really had enough, and simply, as I said a few
9 minutes ago, that this Lieutenant Colonel - had this Lieutenant
10 Colonel said that we had to, I mean, I really would have killed him
11 immediately and it would not matter what would happen to me after
12 that. I said, "Was there not enough blood? Was there not enough dead
13 people?" That is what I said.
14 Q. My question is, you refused twice to execute the orders and you
15 went out of it degraded at the maximum but not hurt. Why did you not
16 also refuse to participate in the execution at Pilica farm? Was it
17 any different? Was there more danger there?
18 A. Your Honour, I have to apologise now, especially to the ladies
19 present, and I will show you what I got because I refused this order
20 in Pilica. Please, with your permission, I am going to show you this.
21 (The witness pulled up his shirt). That is it.
22 Q. You mentioned after the cafe, after the day you went to the cafe,
23 and you were shot there with other people, was that right?
24 A. No, not only me, but those people who explicitly rebelled against
25 Pelemis, those people, not only me, and not because of the drinking
1 and the pub, but everyone knows why.
2 Q. How many people were chosen for the execution in Pilica farm?
3 A. Eight people.
4 Q. Did they choose you among them for any personal reason, for any
5 special reason? Why were you selected among these eight people?
6 A. I do not know. Pelemis knows.
7 JUDGE RIAD: Thank you very much.
8 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Mr. Erdemovic, I have a comment I would like to
9 make first. I understand that it is painful for you, but you must
10 know that you are before a Tribunal which must take into account a
11 man who participated in the murder of dozens of people. All of us are
12 accountable here. We understand that you were caught in a storm, but
13 that is not a reason, neither because you pleaded guilty, nor because
14 you are a person who carried out something as part of a great
15 tragedy, for us just like that to say that these many, many people
16 who were killed simply will be written off. This is what the
17 Presiding Judge of this Trial Chamber would like to recall here
18 within the confines of these walls. We cannot only allow, simply
19 because you recognise that, simply allow shadow areas in a file which
20 will have great weight on your conscience over many years to come,
21 but the conscience of the Judges is important as well. This is the
22 comment which I wish to make first. I am not going to ask you many
23 more questions, but I would like to ask you that if between 13th and
24 16th July, while you were on site in Srebrenica, did you have any
25 news that you heard over the radio, either over the military radio or
1 the radio from the headquarters, did you hear any news? You told us,
2 Mr. Erdemovic, that during the 61 hearings against Messrs. Mladic and
3 Karadzic that you yourself had recognised several facts, perhaps you
4 had even seen General Mladic. I am asking my question again: do you
5 know anything specific about what happened, anything with your
6 comrades or other comrades in your Unit were saying that "We are
7 killing Muslims", that "We are massacring Muslims". Are you aware of
8 that? Were you aware of that? I would like you to be very specific in
9 your answer.
10 A. That is what I was told.
11 Q. Did you know anything at any given moment between 13th and 16th
12 July? You say that there was nobody in Srebrenica any more, but your
13 Unit was there. There were other comrades, there were other groups
14 there. You had heard at one point people saying, "We are killing
15 Muslims, we are getting rid of the Muslims"? This is a very specific
16 question I am asking you. Did you hear that?
17 A. Yes, and I will try to give you an answer as much as I can. First
18 of all, I did not know. I told you, I was surprised when we entered
19 Srebrenica that I did not see more than 100 people there. However, I
20 realised many things here and through BBC, and I learned where people
21 had been in the UN camp in Potocari, and I did not see that at the
22 time and I do not know where Potocari exactly is. I did not know what
23 was going on. Of course, I did not know - I do not see a reason why
24 anybody from the command would tell me that Muslims were being
1 Q. You yourself, did you not ask any questions? This was a safe area,
2 a protected enclave. You knew that. It was a safe area and suddenly
3 you are there and there is no one there. Did you not wonder?
4 A. Yes, of course, I kept asking myself what was going on. Of course.
5 I told you, when we started they told us that there were civilians
6 there, that there were some heavily armed extremists there, and when
7 I realised that nobody was there, of course, I asked myself what was
8 going on. I kept asking myself, "What is going on?"
9 Q. On the road, on the way to the farm, what did you see by the side
10 of the road?
11 A. Along the road, well, there were - all the way from Vlasenica to
12 the vicinity of Zvornik soldiers were deployed along the road. They
13 were securing the road and you could hear shots coming from the
14 woods. That is what I noticed.
15 Q. When you shot the people who were brought out of bus, let us be
16 clear about this, you shot the people who were brought out of the
17 buses. The Tribunal will judge as to the conditions, but the fact is
18 that you killed those people. What were those people doing? Were they
19 looking at you? Did they have their hands tied behind their backs?
20 Were they dressed in civilian dress or were they wearing military
21 clothes? Were you there when they were buried? Did you have the
22 feeling there were any survivors?
23 A. Well, I do not know how precise I can be. First of all, I was in a
24 very bad emotional state. I do not know. It was horrible. It was so
25 difficult for me, but I had no choice. I had no choice. Whether those
1 people were looking at me, I do not know. I did not check whether
2 they were dead.
3 Q. Were their hands tied behind their back?
4 A. I remember that on the first bus, and that is what I told in the
5 investigation, some people had their hands tied behind their backs
6 and they were blindfolded. I remember the first bus only. Mr. Ruez
7 asked me whether there had been any other such people in other buses,
8 and I told him I do not know and I cannot answer that question
9 because such was my emotional state. I cannot explain that to you. It
10 cannot be explained.
11 Q. Did you tell the Office of the Prosecutor about the person who
12 said they would be getting you to Switzerland?
13 A. No, I did not give them any details. They did not ask me anything.
14 If they had asked me for details, I would have given them. I can
15 explain. I can provide them with all the necessary details, names,
16 surnames, whereabouts, and they can check that the sons of that man
17 live in Switzerland. I have no reason to lie. I cannot lie because of
18 all those people who are dead.
19 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Before finishing, yes, a fellow Judge has a
20 question. Just one second. I would like to turn to the Office of the
21 Prosecutor: gentlemen, have any enquiries been made to check up on
22 what the accused has said about this going to Switzerland?
23 MR. OSTBERG: Your Honour, we have been informed reading his
24 statements and this general information with no certain facts that
25 has not been pursued.
1 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: What about this incident in Croatia? That is
2 very important because Mr. Erdemovic has told us that a lot of his
3 behaviour in Srebrenica is related, as it were, to the fact that
4 there was this promise that had been made that he would be going to
5 Switzerland that did not work out, and then in Croatia he committed
6 certain acts so that he could not return to Croatia. Mr. Ruez,
7 perhaps if you deem it appropriate, you could have him come back, but
8 did he look into that, whether there was some likelihood of truth in
9 that, to put it that way?
10 MR. OSTBERG: When Mr. Ruez returns, I should propose that we ask him
11 these questions. It is not known to me that he has been asked about
13 THE WITNESS: If I may, your Honours, I am not from Croatia. I am from
14 Bosnia and Herzegovina by origin. That is where I lived. I was a
15 citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina and not of the Republic of Croatia.
16 I am from Tuzla.
17 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Yes, I am sorry. Maybe I was not clear. I
18 thought on the basis of what you said in response to Judge Riad's
19 question that you could not return to Croatia because of an act you
20 committed there. I did not quite understand the full implications.
21 THE WITNESS: Not to Croatia. He asked me whether I could go back home
22 - that is how I understood him - back home to Tuzla where I am from.
23 JUDGE RIAD: Mr. Erdemovic, I gathered from your answer to Judge Odio
24 Benito that most of the victims or all the victims were Muslims, was
25 that right?
1 A. I apologise, I do not know exactly. I did not check, but it was
2 told that people were from Srebrenica. That is all.
3 Q. You said you tried to save some of them. You saved some?
4 A. I said that I had tried to save one man, but I did not succeed
5 because Brano Gojkovic said that he did not want to have any witness
6 to that crime. He was the Commander of the Unit and he probably had
7 received such an order from the Lieutenant Colonel. I do not know
8 exactly, but I assume.
9 Q. So you did not save anybody at all?
10 A. No. Brano Gojkovic was the Commander of the Unit and he decided on
11 everything. I was just a regular soldier who carried out his orders.
12 Q. But you tried to save him, you tried to save some?
13 A. Yes, I did try. I thought I would succeed the way I managed to
14 save the life of this person who will testify in my defence, but I
15 was not successful in that.
16 Q. You said you tried to save the life of the person who will
17 testify, so you saved him?
18 A. Yes, but he was not in Srebrenica. It happened on the mountain of
19 Majevica in the vicinity of Tuzla. He was not there in Srebrenica. I
20 saved him in August 1994, I believe, one year before the events in
21 Srebrenica, almost a year before that.
22 JUDGE RIAD: Thank you very much.
23 THE WITNESS: You are welcome.
24 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Before concluding with the testimony of Mr.
25 Erdemovic, you were called as a witness by the Tribunal. Now I would
1 look at the Prosecution, look to the Defence, since this is a witness
2 of the Tribunal, normally we would leave it at that, but should the
3 Office of the Prosecutor have some questions, it may go ahead with
4 them. But, if it does have some questions, then the Defence shall
5 have the right to put questions as well. If Mr. Ruez should be called
6 again, there again the Defence can raise some questions. If the
7 Defence has questions, then of course the Prosecution can raise
8 questions as well. Please proceed, Mr. Ostberg.
9 MR. OSTBERG: In the opinion of the Prosecution, all relevant
10 questions have been put by the Court so we have decided not to put
11 any questions to Mr. Erdemovic.
12 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Mr. Babic, do you have any questions for Mr.
14 MR. BABIC: Your Honours, in respect of the execution of the act and
15 the facts you mentioned, I have no questions in relation to that. I
16 think that the Court has covered everything that we needed to hear.
17 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Fine. Then there was one matter I would raise.
18 There was a problem of checking whether an attempt had been made to
19 check up on the two allegations made about going to Switzerland, on
20 the one hand, and then, secondly, the action against Croats. Maybe we
21 could hear Mr. Ruez again or, rather, by the end of the hearing,
22 either today or tomorrow, would you be providing us with an
23 explanation that might be read by the Registrar and that would go
24 into the case file?
25 MR. OSTBERG: Yes, we will try to do that, your Honour.
1 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Fine. We are going to proceed to a recess. We
2 shall resume at 4 p.m. (3.45 p.m.)
3 (The Court adjourned for a short time) (4.00 p.m.)
4 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: The hearing shall resume. Show in the accused.
5 Office of the Prosecution, the Judges would like us to move on, first
6 of all, hearing you and then the Defence. We would like to hear
7 everything that can indicate how much co-operation you received from
8 the accused and also whether there might not be any aggravating circumstances.
9 So, would you desire to call a witness on this score? Do let us know. I
10 think tomorrow morning we will be able to listen to the Defence.
11 There again there will be a possibility of producing witnesses and we
12 will be hearing about anything relevant in the way of mitigating
13 circumstances. I would recall that Mr. Drazen Erdemovic has pleaded
14 mitigating circumstances while pleading guilty. You have the floor,
16 MR. HARMON: Thank you very much, your Honour. I would like to recall
17 Jean Rene Ruez to the stand. I would like to inform the Court I will
18 be calling him for two reasons. The first point, your Honour, is to
19 answer the Court's concerns and questions about points raised by Mr.
20 Erdemovic's testimony, specifically whether he informed the Office of
21 the Prosecutor about his attempts to get to Switzerland and whether
22 he also informed the Tribunal about the events relating to attempting
23 to save people while he was a member of the HVO. After I have
24 examined Mr. Ruez on that point briefly, then I will turn to the
25 issue of Mr. Erdemovic's substantial co-operation with the Office of
1 the Prosecutor.
2 MR. JEAN RENE RUEZ, recalled.
3 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you. Mr. Jean Rene Ruez, we shall not have
4 you make a solemn declaration again, but you are still under oath.
5 Let that be clear to you.
6 THE WITNESS: Yes. Further examined by MR. HARMON
7 MR. HARMON: Mr. Ruez, during the course of your investigation into
8 the events relating to Srebrenica, when did you first come into
9 contact with the defendant in this case, Mr. Drazen Erdemovic?
10 A. The first contact I had with the accused was just after his
11 arrival on 24th April of this year.
12 Q. On that occasion did he provide you with a statement relating to
13 his knowledge of the events that he has testified about, today and
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. I would like to focus on two brief points in his statement to you
17 in April. Did he first of all ever inform you that he had tried to
18 get to Switzerland, but that he had been unsuccessful in doing so?
19 A. Yes, that is true.
20 Q. On that same occasion did he inform you that he had been a member
21 of the HVO, that he had attempted to assist people cross the lines,
22 but that he was arrested, beaten as a result of those efforts?
23 A. Yes, absolutely. He said that he had helped a number of people to
24 cross over to the Republika Srpska, that he was arrested by the
25 Bosnian Muslim authorities and that he had been ill-treated by the
2 Q. Could you please explain to the Trial Chamber, Mr. Ruez, the
3 circumstances of how Mr. Erdemovic arrived in The Hague?
4 A. Well, at first, given his behaviour during the executions at the
5 farm, Mr. Erdemovic indicated that he was afraid of retaliation
6 against himself, primarily because of the fact that he was not all
7 that co-operative during the executions. He also said there was an
8 incident involving the leader of the group, the leader of the
9 execution squad, in connection with the use of a machine gun, that
10 people were merely being wounded and they were made to needlessly
11 suffer. Now, the second thing he mentioned was his attempt to save
12 the life of one of the prisoners. That did not work out because his
13 group leader indicated that it was out of the question to leave any
14 witnesses of that operation. Now, those views confirmed, according to
15 him, since a few days later on the night of 22nd and 23rd July when
16 he was in a bar, one of the members of the execution squad shot at
17 him four times in a row wounding him seriously. He was helped by one
18 of his mates and he could be evacuated to a hospital where he was
19 given treatment, but subsequently heard about some rumours to the
20 effect that people in his Unit were unhappy to hear that he had not
21 been killed that night. He also made approaches to the Commanding
22 Officer of his Unit to be given some help. For example, he wanted to
23 buy some drugs but the help was refused by the head of the Unit. He
24 also took advantage of the possibility to go to the Republic of
25 Yugoslavia, to evacuate his wife and his child, to see to it that
1 they could be brought to Tuzla and to safety. Thereafter, he made
2 demarches to enter contact with the International Tribunal, which at the
3 time there was not an office in Belgrade, which meant that via
4 his comrades he was in touch with the press office that was in
5 Belgrade at the time. Now, apparently, the press office was being
6 monitored by the security service and his attempts gave rise to some
7 suspicion. There was increased monitoring, and he was subsequently
8 informed that the security services were aware that he was trying to
9 make contact with the International Criminal Tribunal. Now, with
10 regard to the statements Mr. Erdemovic wanted to make before the
11 Tribunal, a few days prior to his arrest, were brought to the Office
12 of the Prosecutor's attention. Now, this prior information allowed
13 the Office of the Prosecutor to react quickly and to have him
14 transferred quickly to The Hague. So it was at the Scheveningen
15 prison that we had subsequent contacts on three occasions.
16 Q. Mr. Ruez, has Mr. Erdemovic provided substantial assistance to the
17 Office of the Prosecutor in the conducts of its investigations
18 relating to Srebrenica?
19 A. Well, he mentioned a number of events. In fact, he mentioned four
20 specific events that we were not aware of at the time he brought them
21 to our notice. The first two - these are the main two - were already
22 mentioned earlier today - I mentioned them - these are the events
23 that took place at the Branjevo farm and in the Pilica building. But
24 there is also the fact that when on 11th July he was at Srebrenica,
25 when the people remaining there were not putting up any resistance,
1 the officer who was commanding his Unit gave the order to one of the
2 members of the Unit to execute a Bosnian Muslim prisoner who was in
3 the town. Now, that prisoner had his throat cut at the order of the
4 Commanding Officer of his unit. Now, the second act: after he
5 returned to Bijeljina on 13th - so this is on 13th - the same
6 Commanding Officer gave an order to two soldiers in the presence of
7 all the other members of the Unit to cut the throat of a prisoner who
8 was used in reconnaissance missions by the unit. He had been taken
9 prisoner by them three months before and was used for reconnaissance
10 operations beyond enemy lines. He did not witness the execution, but
11 the perpetrators did tell them that it took place and the individual
12 had his throat cut in the woods near Vlasenica.
13 Q. Mr. Ruez, you have identified four events that Mr. Erdemovic
14 informed you of in relation to what occurred in and around
15 Srebrenica, is that correct?
16 A. Yes, that is correct.
17 Q. Was the Office of the Prosecutor aware of any of those events
18 prior to being so informed by Mr. Erdemovic?
19 A. No. None of these events were known to the Office of the
20 Prosecutor before Mr. Erdemovic told us about them.
21 Q. Did Mr. Erdemovic also provide you with the identities of
22 perpetrators in relation to each of those four events?
23 A. Each time the identity of the perpetrators was known to Mr.
24 Erdemovic, he told us their identity. The officer in charge of the
25 Unit who ordered the murder, Srebrenica is Lieutenant Pelemis who is
1 in charge of the 10th Sabotage Unit. The members of the execution
2 group who were involved in the incidents on 16th at the farm, their
3 names were also given by Mr. Erdemovic; the head of that group being
4 Brano Gojkovic. The other members being Aleksandar Cvetkovic, Marko
5 Boskic, Zoran Goranja, Stanko Savanovic, Vlastimir Golijan, Franc
6 Kos, and he himself, Drazen Erdemovic. Now, the 10th Sabotage Unit
7 was under the command of Colonel Salapura.
8 Q. Mr. Ruez, before being provided with the names of those
9 perpetrators, were you or the Prosecutor's Office aware of the
10 identities of those individuals?
11 A. No, we were not aware of any of these individuals at that point.
12 With regard to the Pilica farm and the incidents there, Drazen
13 Erdemovic also mentioned the very active part played by a group of
14 individuals belonging to the Bratunac Brigade. Now, on his own
15 initiative, while he was in his cell and he was watching television,
16 he happened to see a BBC report about the events at Srebrenica, and
17 while watching that film he recognised some individuals involved in
18 the execution. We subsequently showed him the video of that film and
19 he pinpointed one of the individuals that is seen in that film which
20 is Brano Gojkovic. We now have a photograph of him. He also
21 recognised one of the members of the Bratunac Brigade who was among
22 the most active, so to speak, during the events. We do not know his
23 name, but we do have a picture of him now, thanks to Drazen
24 Erdemovic's help. Similarly, the general information he provided
25 about the structure of his Unit and how it operated, these are very
1 important, as I said, also in respect of the chain of command,
2 because this Unit reports directly to the central command, so this
3 Unit was under the direct command of General Mladic.
4 Q. Mr. Ruez, could you please summarise the value of Mr. Erdemovic's
5 co-operation to the Office of the Prosecutor's investigations?
6 A. Of the information he provided us with was essential. I no longer
7 here have with me Exhibit 1, that is to say, the map of the
8 operations that ensued after the takeover of Srebrenica that we are
9 acquainted with at this point. The main sites referred to by Drazen
10 Erdemovic are those that are northern most on the map. Similarly, the
11 number of the victims, when it comes to Branjevo, the massacre there,
12 and the executions thereafter, in Pilica, given the number of victims,
13 these are among the most major events that have been
14 identified during our investigation. As I said, the number of sites,
15 the distance given, this is something we consider crucial when it
16 comes to seeing what was involved in terms of organisation,
17 logistics, the command structure, preparation, planning, everything.
18 You absolutely have to see what the level of responsibility of the
19 overall aspect of the operation was.
20 Q. Mr. Ruez, as a result of your contacts with Mr. Erdemovic, have
21 you been able to form an opinion as to whether or not he is
22 remorseful for the crimes that he committed on 16th July 1995?
23 A. Remorse, that is difficult really to specifically define. One
24 thing is sure, however, and that is in the course of the contacts I
25 have had with him he expressed his sincere regrets to being involved
1 in that situation. He has always had a tough time saying how things
2 happened during these events. Bringing all these memories together
3 was something very difficult for him and always has been. On every
4 occasion whenever he would go into details in the course of hearings,
5 he would say how sorry he was to have participated in those events.
6 MR. HARMON: Your Honour, I have no further questions of Mr. Ruez, but
7 I would like to tender to the Court the Exhibits that are items 1
8 through 15 of the book that has been presented previously. Exhibits
9 14 and 15 are transcripts of Mr. Erdemovic's testimony in the Rule 61
10 hearing that occurred in July of this year in relation to General
11 Mladic and Dr. Karadzic. I have no further questions, your Honour.
12 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: The Registrar shall include that among the
13 Exhibits. Judge Odio Benito, do you have any questions?
14 JUDGE ODIO BENITO: Very briefly. Mr. Ruez, Mr. Erdemovic said he had
15 helped a number of people to cross over to Republika Srpska. Did you
16 identify any person who was helped by Mr. Erdemovic?
17 A. No, the investigation did not deal with that aspect of the events
18 as described by Drazen Erdemovic. The investigation limited itself to
19 developing the facts which followed the fall of the enclave, but that
20 specific aspect was not at all developed during the investigation.
21 Q. So you did not get any evidence of those activities of Mr.
23 A. No, not at all.
24 JUDGE ODIO BENITO: Thank you. No further questions.
25 JUDGE RIAD: Mr. Ruez, I would like to follow up on that question, the
1 question that Judge Odio Benito asked. I suppose that what Mr.
2 Erdemovic said was that he had been working with the Republika
3 Srpska. Did he help people to pass to Bosnia?
4 A. He never spoke about that during our discussions.
5 Q. Did he say what type of people he helped to cross the border into
6 Republika Srpska, Serbs Croats, Muslims?
7 A. He gave only general information about that aspect during our
8 interviews. At any rate, during our discussions at that point it was
9 never gone into in any depth.
10 Q. You said that Mr. Erdemovic was arrested at the point that he was
11 about to give information to the International Tribunal. That is what
12 you said, is it not?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. What are your sources for this? Did the press office there collect
15 any information there about him that should be transmitted or was
16 supposed to be transmitted to our Tribunal, or was this simply a
17 question of chance?
18 A. No, the information was collated with one that had already been
19 taken from a journalist who had been in contact with Drazen Erdemovic
20 at that date.
21 Q. To whom he had already given information?
22 A. Yes, to whom he had already given information based on which, even
23 before the transfer of Erdemovic to The Hague, the investigation
24 which had been announced to the press had already been announced. For
25 example, at Pilica, what had happened at the Pilica farm had been
1 pointed out and the first investigations had taken place at that point even
2 before Mr. Erdemovic arrived at the Tribunal.
3 Q. Was he arrested for that reason?
4 A. The reason for his arrest was probably the quality of the
5 information that he had to give, the gravity, the seriousness of the
6 information which he was to transmit which had reached the knowledge
7 of the police services and the judicial services of the Federal
8 Republic of Yugoslavia which considered at that point appropriate to
9 have him arrested.
10 JUDGE RIAD: Thank you.
11 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Mr. Ruez, going back to the beginning to the
12 issue of Switzerland, the Swiss informant, we were not able to find
13 out who this was?
14 A. No. His statement on that point was merely to say that among the
15 people who helped him to cross over into Republika Srpska, one of
16 them had made a promise that he would help him and his wife to go to
17 Switzerland if he were to cross the border into Republika Srpska, but
18 once he arrived there that individual, allegedly, did not follow up
19 on his promises. Therefore, he had to find a way to survive.
20 Therefore, he joined the army which at that point seemed to be,
21 according to recommendations which he had had, the only solution that
22 he would have to survive, given the environment in which he was
23 leaving at that point.
24 Q. But on the two points of the men that he saved for which the
25 Office of the Prosecutor does not have the specific information?
1 A. No, because we only based ourselves on his statements.
2 Q. Therefore, you would agree with me that all of these mitigating
3 circumstances which Mr. Babic will go into further are based on
4 statements of Mr. Erdemovic himself?
5 A. For all of these - I cannot speak about all of the mitigating
6 circumstances, but as far as the co-operation of the facts that he
7 announced, we can say that the results of our investigation do show
8 that he did not invent anything about those points. As far his own
9 situation was concerned, that was not the purpose of our
10 investigation and at this point we have based ourselves entirely on
11 his own statements.
12 Q. But his own situation as part of the two criteria which the
13 Tribunal must use in order to come to a sentence?
14 A. Yes, I do understand that.
15 Q. How do you interpret this turnabout of the Federal Republic
16 Republic of Yugoslavia? He was arrested because he had given
17 particularly reliable information. Is that why?
18 A. No. I say that he was arrested at the point of his contacts when
19 the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was informed of the gravity of the
20 acts in which he had been a participant and considered it appropriate
21 at that point to arrest him immediately, without waiting any longer
22 in order to find out what would be the follow-up for his own personal
24 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: A question I might ask the Prosecutor. How do
25 you interpret this relative co-operation on the part of a country
1 which we can say up to this point has not really demonstrated any
2 strong desire to co-operate with the Tribunal? Do you have any idea
3 about this question? Can you answer this question?
4 MR. HARMON: I have often asked myself the same question, your Honour,
5 but I have been unable to answer the question and cannot answer the
6 question today.
7 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Mr. Babic, did you hear the question?
8 MR. BABIC: Yes, I heard it.
9 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Do you have any idea which would explain the
10 turnabout that took place, because we could really call it a
12 MR. BABIC: First of all, I wish to say that the juridical organs in
13 the Federal Republic Yugoslavia heard the accused Erdemovic, and they
14 passed a decree after that to conduct an investigation and to start
15 proceedings for a crime against civilian population from Article 142 of the
16 penal code of Yugoslavia. Since I was the attorney of the
17 accused Erdemovic on that occasion as well, I know that the highest
18 state authorities decided that the accused Erdemovic should be sent
19 to The Hague. As far as the motives for this decision are concerned,
20 I cannot say anything. I can only say that the accused Erdemovic said
21 loud and clear before the investigating judge of the court in Novi
22 Sad that he wished to repeat all of that before this august Court.
23 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: I will go on with the question. I do understand
24 very well, and you have expressed it very well, that in Belgrade
25 criminal proceedings were begun - no, in Novi Sad. Do you know if
1 other procedures had been initiated against Erdemovic's superiors or
2 did things stay at the level of Mr. Erdemovic?
3 MR. BABIC: Your Honour, for the prosecution of the perpetrators of
4 other criminal acts, before someone becomes accessible to the
5 juridical organs of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia they are not
6 in charge before that, but since the accused Erdemovic came to the
7 territory of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia then, according to
8 the law, it was the port where he was apprehended that was in charge
9 of pursuing proceedings against him. I imagine that other people were
10 not accessible and not in the territory of the Federal Republic of
11 Yugoslavia. Secondly, criminal proceedings were started against not
12 only Erdemovic but also Kremenovic whom he mentioned in his
13 statement. True, not for a war crime against the civilian population,
14 but also for hiding him as a perpetrator of such a grave crime and
15 also for the illegal holding of weapons.
16 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: I understand, but I suppose that when the
17 authorities of the Republic decided to respond positively to the
18 request from the Tribunal, I think this is a question which must have
19 been dealt with at a high level?
20 MR. BABIC: At the highest level, decisions at the highest level. I
21 believe that that decision was a new quality in the relations between
22 the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the International Tribunal for
23 War Crimes committed in Yugoslavia.
24 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you, Mr. Babic. Turning to the Prosecutor,
25 I would like to ask you whether you intend - you spoke about co-
1 operation, you spoke about remorse. I understand co-operation. I
2 suppose that Erdemovic and his counsel will speak about his remorse.
3 You did not speak about any possible aggravating circumstances.
4 Should I therefore conclude along with my colleagues that you do not
5 intend to raise the issue of aggravating circumstances in the
6 commission of the crime recognised by the accused and in the way it
7 was committed?
8 MR. HARMON: Your Honour, I believe that the crime itself, the
9 magnitude of the crime and Mr. Erdemovic's role in it, is an
10 aggravating circumstance. This is a crime where there is evidence
11 that hundreds of civilians, innocent civilians, were killed. Mr.
12 Erdemovic at various times in various statements has admitted to
13 killing between 10 and 100 civilians on this particular day. That, I
14 believe, is a circumstance in aggravation, the magnitude of the crime
15 and the defendant's role in it, that has been explained by Mr. Ruez
16 and has been previously explained by Mr. Erdemovic as well. That will
17 represent what, in the Prosecutor's view, are aggravating
18 circumstances. We do not intend to present any additional evidence in
19 regard to aggravating circumstances.
20 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: There are no other questions? We will now
21 suspend this hearing and we will resume tomorrow morning at 10
22 o'clock when we will give the floor to Mr. Babic to present all of
23 the mitigating circumstances, because that was the line of defence
24 which his client adopted. Perhaps we will have to hear Mr. Erdemovic
25 again as a witness. Tomorrow I suppose, Mr. Babic, we will hear the
1 two witnesses.
2 MR. BABIC: Your Honour, just one question to Mr. Ruez, with your
4 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Yes, of course.
5 MR. BABIC: When these statements were being made by Mr. Erdemovic,
6 did he ever ask Mr. Ruez for something in terms of assistance, as an
7 equivalent for giving such kind of statement? I think you understand
8 my question.
9 THE WITNESS: Drazen Erdemovic never made any type of request at all.
10 He always presented the facts, as we have tried to explain in more
11 detail, as clearly as possible, with the best will possible.
12 MR. BABIC: Just a bit more. Mr. Ruez, did you make it seem likely to
13 him that he would be treated favourably one way or another because he
14 was saying all of that?
15 A. In no way. Since he was acting in a voluntary manner there was
16 never any need to use any kind of artifice in order to get
17 information from Drazen Erdemovic.
18 MR. BABIC: Thank you. No further questions.
19 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Is there anything else? Would you like to be
20 more specific?
21 MR. HARMON: No further questions, your Honour.
22 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: The Court stands adjourned and we will resume at
23 10.00 in the morning tomorrow. I ask that the devices be put into
24 place that are necessary for the protection of Witnesses X and Y.Thank you.
25 4.43 p.m. (The court adjourned until the following day).