1 Tuesday, 4th July 2000
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The witness entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 9.34 a.m.
6 JUDGE MAY: Yes, let the witness take the declaration.
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
8 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
9 JUDGE MAY: If you'd like to take a seat.
10 WITNESS: STJEPAN NEIMAREVIC
11 [Witness answered through interpreter]
12 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Mr. Naumovski.
13 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
14 Examined by Mr. Naumovski:
15 Q. Mr. Neimarevic, would you please state your full name for the
17 A. My name is Stjepan Neimarevic.
18 Q. Mr. Neimarevic, you were born on 4 October 1951 in Travnik. You
19 are a Croat by ethnicity and a citizen of Bosnia-Herzegovina?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. You are a Franciscan priest, and as a religious official, you are
22 not permitted nor have you ever been a member of any political party; is
23 that correct?
24 A. That is correct.
25 Q. You lived in several different places in Bosnia and Herzegovina,
1 first in Guca Gora where you finished the first six years of your
2 schooling and an additional two years you completed in Han Bila which is
3 about four kilometres due south-east of Guca Gora?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. You graduated from the Franciscan High School in Visoko and then
6 you completed your novice's training in Kraljeva Sutjeska?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. Following your novice's training, you studied theology for six
9 years in Sarajevo?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. According to the laws of that period, you had to serve compulsory
12 military duty, and between 1975 and 1977 you served in the navy of the
13 Yugoslav People's Army?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. From 1979 to 1981 you worked as a priest first in Nova Bila, then
16 Livno, Vitez, and Brajkovici. These are all towns in Bosnia-Herzegovina;
17 is that correct?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. In 1991, you moved back to Guca Gora where you lived in the
20 monastery until 8 June 1993, that is, until the day when the ABiH attacked
21 Guca Gora and you fled with a number of other Croats?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Mr. Neimarevic, the Trial Chamber heard a fair amount about the
24 interethnic relations in Bosnia-Herzegovina before the war, perhaps we can
25 just summarise it. Before the war, were the interethnic relations in
1 Bosnia-Herzegovina harmonious or idyllic or not?
2 A. In the former Yugoslavia, there was a single party rule and a --
3 that is, the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. Many people in high positions
4 had to marry persons from other ethnic groups which made them politically
5 correct in order to be able to advance, and one could say that there was a
6 truce between various ethnic groups after World War II. There was a
7 dictatorship and no one could say anything about anyone else.
8 But people did form friendships, that is, people of different
9 ethnic groups, people of different religions so there were good and bad
10 sides. There were good relations but also not so good relations between
11 people of various ethnic groups and religions.
12 Personally, I had friends among Muslims and also among Serbs with
13 whom I lived and with whom I worked together.
14 Q. Their Honours had an opportunity to hear about the Croats in the
15 former Yugoslavia. I think we can skip that. If there are any questions
16 asked about that, you will be able to provide answers to them. But when
17 you speak about your relations with other ethnic groups, you would extend
18 your congratulations and you sent wishes to your counterparts on the
19 Muslim side for their religious holidays?
20 A. Yes, I did that on Bajram and other religious holidays, I would go
21 and give them my best wishes. I would go to their homes and do it in
22 person. And also, some other parishioners would also go to their friends'
23 houses to give them good wishes; however, unfortunately, I have to say
24 that I never received any good wishes on my holidays, including the last
25 Easter I spent in my monastery. I did not receive any greetings even
1 though -- even a friend of mine, a photographer called Hazim arrived there
2 and times were tough but --
3 Q. Excuse me, let me interrupt you on that. You will be given an
4 opportunity to furnish us with that detail later on. When you said that
5 you did not ever -- that you never received any good wishes from your
6 counterparts, you mean from the Muslim religious officials?
7 A. Yes. We -- in -- we invited him for coffee, this is a custom, and
8 he said that he would only come if he was forced to.
9 Q. Mr. Neimarevic, let us move on.
10 Your Honours, this is paragraph six that we're moving to.
11 Mr. Neimarevic, in paragraph six, you addressed the disruption of
12 relations between Croats and Muslims. Their Honours have heard about what
13 happened to the central authority but maybe you can give us further
14 details. An example, for instance, which you provided at a time when JNA
15 was withdrawing from Slovenia and all of these weapons were coming to
16 Bosnia. Croats and Muslims did not take this arrival of the JNA in the
17 same way; is that correct?
18 A. One could say that this was a beginning of a major
19 misunderstanding between the Croats and Muslims because the fighting had
20 started in Slovenia. Unfortunately, they could have been stopped but they
21 never were. All the weaponry and all the military equipment was being
22 moved to Bosnia-Herzegovina and historically we know that if you amass
23 weapons, these weapons will be used. So unfortunately, this also happened
24 in Bosnia-Herzegovina, very large military transports were coming to
1 Croats did not like it at all because they knew that it was not
2 leading to peace but rather to a bloodshed and so the fear started
3 creeping into the Croatian community. We knew that this was not good for
4 Bosnia-Herzegovina, that such amounts of weapons would be transferred to
5 Bosnia-Herzegovina, and that the result of it could be very hard for all
6 of us who live in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
7 Unfortunately, the leadership of the Muslim leadership in Sarajevo
8 at that time and many other people in the -- on the ground were not aware
9 of what was to happen.
10 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Neimarevic, I'm going to interrupt. As you will
11 appreciate, this trial has been going for some time and we've heard a lot
12 of witnesses and we've heard a lot of evidence. So we have heard about
13 this sort of thing. But counsel will know what's relevant, and he will
14 ask you about the relevant matters. Could you just concentrate on that
15 and answer his questions, please.
16 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
17 Q. Mr. Neimarevic, as His Honour, the Presiding Judge, has pointed
18 out, a lot has been heard about these circumstances, but how did the
19 people in Travnik feel about all these military transports coming into
20 Bosnia, to Travnik?
21 A. The Muslims greeted them with song and dance and offering gifts
22 and food.
23 Q. So the arrival of the JNA was an additional reason for the
24 separation of the Croats and Muslims in Travnik?
25 A. That is exactly right.
1 Q. You mentioned to the Trial Chamber that you had told the Muslims
2 that the war was inevitable and that people should arm themselves in order
3 to defend themselves from the aggression. But was there also a lack of
4 understanding on that point early on?
5 A. Yes. I can point out a meeting with a school friend of mine, a
6 Muslim. I met with him at one point, and he said that he heard Jastreb
7 Dedakovic, who spoke on television, and he said that one should sell a cow
8 and buy a rifle. And at first I hated him, but then I realised that what
9 Croats were saying at first, that it was right. We wanted to protect both
10 Croat and Muslims lives there.
11 Q. Just to clarify, Dedakovic was a Croat who was running the defence
12 of Vukovar on the Croat side?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. You went to Krpeljici, a village next to Guca Gora, in the summer
15 of 1992 asking for assistance of the TO to fight Serbs at Mount Vlasic?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Was your request granted?
18 A. Unfortunately, it was not granted, because at that time they had
19 already started organising a military force which obviously was not going
20 to be with us, but at some point, in fact, it turned out that they were --
21 they ended up being against us.
22 Q. Mr. Neimarevic, you received a lot of information from your
23 parishioners because you spent a lot of time with them. Were Croats
24 helping Muslims in Zenica and in the area where you lived with weapons and
25 in other ways?
1 A. We tried to help Muslims in every possible way: in humanitarian
2 matters but also with weapons which we occasionally received. I
3 personally assisted Muslims with food which I would occasionally get, and
4 also with the medicine. We had a pharmacy there, and a number of them
5 went to the Muslims and in part to the Serbs, who at that time were
6 already in conflict with us. We were giving them food and all other
7 necessities. They were not at fault. They were at risk, just as we were
8 at that time.
9 Q. In paragraph 8 you mention a detail; that is, you related a
10 conversation which you overheard when, in the fall of 1992, you, in the
11 Travnik police station, when you went to extend your driver's licence.
12 A. Yes. I was shocked there because I overheard this policeman.
13 News that were coming were ever -- were worsening. And then I heard that
14 allegedly we Croats were trying to sell out Bosnia; we wanted to divide it
15 with the others. And that was only to -- this was done in order to create
16 tensions, which then resulted in an open war. At that time Slavonski Brod
17 had fallen and they said that Croats were -- had sold it. And Jajce at
18 that time -- Jajce was also surrounded, and they said if Jajce falls we
19 would then take over the Croat areas and we would kill them all and take
20 all their weapons. I was shocked, because I could not believe that
21 something like that could happen between these two groups.
22 Q. When you mentioned these events around Jajce in late 1992, was the
23 influx of -- was there an influx of refugees, mostly Muslims but others as
24 well? And how did that reflect on the previous balance or equilibrium
25 between the ethnic groups in your area?
1 A. Yes. That was potentially one of the causes of the conflict
2 between us. We sensed that something was going on there. It is
3 interesting to point out that all refugees from Bosanska Krajina -- that
4 is, Banja Luka, Prijedor, Kljuic -- all moved to Travnik, to Central
5 Bosnia. The militarily fit men remained in Travnik, and women and
6 children continued on to Croatia, where they were then accommodated in
7 various hotels and other places. And it -- and so there was a large
8 increase in the Muslim population in all towns in Central Bosnia, which
9 caused fear among Croats, with the prospect of a potential conflict
10 between the two. And then there were also Mujahedin and other radical
11 Muslims coming from various countries around the world, and that created
12 more fear. They also came to my area on a small Toyota truck. It was --
13 and they passed through the village chanting "Allahu-Ekber," which
14 intimidated the Croat population and caused further tensions.
15 Q. Can you tell us, where was the Mujahedin base?
16 A. That was in Mehurici, about five to six kilometres from Guca Gora,
17 due north-east. This is the River Bila Valley.
18 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Excuse me, Mr. Naumovski. I'd
19 like to ask the following of Mr. Neimarevic. He says that what he calls
20 Mujahedins -- well, you say, sir, that there were many provocations and
21 that you yourself were the target of such provocations, you and your
22 house. Could you tell us what you mean by "provocations"? What do you
23 mean by that? Could you say that more specifically? Because you
24 mentioned that in a general way. You stated that they provoked the
25 Croats. More specifically, what were they? What were these provocations?
13 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the
14 French and English transcripts.
1 A. They did not come straight to my home, but in my village, Guca
2 Gora, they would drive through this village in a truck, and among the
3 peaceful villagers they would chant or they would shout, "Allahu-Ekber."
4 Those who know what this means and those who lived in Bosnia-Herzegovina
5 realised that this was provocative, that this was -- they may have wanted
6 to provoke reaction so that they could then attack. But this aloud
7 chanting of "Allahu-Ekber" in a purely Croat village created fear. People
8 were upset and they were really concerned about what may happen. Because
9 this was foreshadowing what was to come on 8 June 1993.
10 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Thank you very much. So this was
11 what you said, that they were shouting, "God is great" in the villages.
12 It is an expression of faith. There were no other acts of provocation,
13 were there?
14 A. At that time it was only that.
15 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Thank you.
16 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
17 Q. If I can follow up on Judge Bennouna's question. The Mujahedin
18 who arrived in this truck to Guca Gora, to your village, were they armed?
19 A. Yes, they were armed.
20 Q. Very well, thank you. Paragraph 10, you mentioned a conversation
21 which you had with an English chaplain who was with the BritBat. You
22 discussed UNPROFOR and its role, whether they would protect you from the
23 Serb attacks.
24 A. The English military chaplain came to me and asked me whether we
25 could organise a meeting of religious officials in our area. I agreed to
1 it very gladly, and we convened it in Nova Bila. In this meeting, I asked
2 him whether they would help if the Serbs, that is the JNA, attacks the
3 Lasva Valley, whether they would help us to at least protect peoples'
4 lives. He said that they did not come to protect us, but rather, for
5 humanitarian reasons, to protect convoys so that food, medicine and other
6 supplies could reach the area. In this meeting, he asked us whether it
7 would be good to convene a religious -- a meeting with the Muslim
8 counterparts so that we could discuss all the matters and see what could
9 be done to prevent the outbreak of conflict in the area.
10 We saw an opportunity here to perhaps start -- open up a dialogue
11 and reach some positive results for all of us. So we were glad to accept
12 it. Several days later, the chaplain informed us that unfortunately, the
13 Muslim religious leaders did not -- declined such a meeting, that they
14 were not prepared to meet.
15 Q. We can move on to paragraph 11. You mentioned events of Holy
16 Thursday in April of 1993. If you can just summarise that very briefly,
17 who attacked whom, what structures were damaged and so on?
18 A. This happened on Holy Thursday in my -- my two neighbours
19 organised the -- helped me organise The Holy Mass with a procession and
20 they were also in Guca Gora during the religious ceremonies. And
21 following this, the ceremony, they went back to Travnik. When they
22 arrived, one was beaten up, almost beyond recognition, the other one is --
23 was not touched, but the other one was all beaten up. Anto Samilinic
24 [phoen] who was my neighbour and the son of a very close friend was all
25 beaten up.
1 Q. What else happened in Travnik, what happened to the Caritas
3 A. They looted the entire pharmacy. They vandalised many shops that
4 were Croat property in Travnik and they made a big mistake. They started
5 burning all the Croat flags. This was very provocative, and the European
6 monitor said that this was a big mistake because the Muslims in Central
7 Bosnia are going to pay a great price if they continue to do so.
8 Q. A moment ago you told us that a Muslim friend came to see you on
9 Easter day and he gave you his opinion about those -- about the event.
10 A. As I have just said, it was a photographer, Hazim, a friend of
11 mine, whom I saw often. He came to me to Guca Gora which is 10 kilometres
12 away from Travnik and he was very restive, very upset, very sad. He
13 wished me all the best on Easter and said that he was very sorry that it
14 had happened, and that his people should not have done that in Travnik
15 because for centuries, Travnik was the crossroads and the meeting point of
16 different cultures and ideologies and the centre of government.
17 Q. Tell us, please, did he tell you who was it that incited
18 extremists in Travnik? Did he mention anyone within that context?
19 A. He did not say that but another friend of mine told me once we met
20 at his photographer's shop, the chief imam of Travnik, Mr. Nusret, came up
21 and then he said in front of my friends, "He is the biggest extremist here
22 in Travnik."
23 Q. Very well, thank you. Basically you already told us about
24 paragraph 12, but paragraphs -- just one sentence because some of your
25 neighbours were beaten up. Does that mean that around Easter 1993,
1 movement became unsafe in Guca Gora and it's environs?
2 A. Yes. Naturally, it led to a very hazardous situation. One by
3 one, roads were closed. They were not passable anymore, and people began
4 fearing for their lives, especially those with wives and children because
5 nobody knew what the next day would bring.
6 Q. Thank you. And tell us, did the propaganda war also escalate, if
7 I may put it that way? Did you, at that time, hear some programmes on the
9 A. Even before that, the television of Bosnia-Herzegovina began to
10 air a number of things which were to create a rift between Muslims and
11 Croats. One could read almost open hostility on the faces of some of the
12 announcers on the Sarajevo television, and one can also safely say that
13 the programme of some radio stations began to broadcast or propagate news
14 which was to generate hatred towards the Croat people. And I can
15 corroborate it by the fact which I saw many times and that is that it was
16 Serbs who shelled Zenica in point of fact, and we heard where the shell
17 had arrived from. And when the additional supplementary charge went off,
18 and we knew that it had happened in Zenica, and from time to time we could
19 also hear the sirens in Zenica.
20 And then we switch on Radio Zenica and we hear the announcer who
21 says that it is Croats who are shelling Zenica. We responded to that. We
22 said that that was not true. But nevertheless, they told us "we know who
23 is dispatching shells on Zenica, but what we say is our business, that is
24 what we are doing and we know why we are doing that."
25 Q. So it was quite conscious misinformation, wasn't it?
1 A. Yes, it was misinformation because they sometimes shelled Croat
2 villages around Zenica and I have information about that and then they
3 proclaimed the general danger and naturally they said that Croats were
4 doing that.
5 Q. Tell us, please, at that time around Easter 1993, that is before
6 summer, did you happen to see some trucks full of soldiers moving through
7 Guca Gora to Travnik and was anything said about why they were moving in
8 that direction?
9 A. Namely I noticed that Muslims were amassing ever more troops in
10 Travnik and their pretext was that from there, they were going to the
11 front line on Mount Vlasic against the Serbs. And once, we stopped them
12 in Guca Gora, there were some 56 buses, some 250-something soldiers armed
13 who were moving, who were heading for Travnik. We did not know that they
14 would be coming through or where they were going, but then they told us
15 that they had the authorisation and they were moving to the front line.
16 And then an agreement was made to avoid any incidents that they
17 should always notify where they were going and why and that they should
18 always take the same way back and that it had to -- that these troops had
19 to include those who were on the front line. So that happened on that
20 occasion too except that they didn't take the same road back, but they
21 went through Nova Bila and on and there were also a number of empty buses
22 that moved through and, of course, this made people afraid.
23 Q. Very well. After Easter 1993, what about the communications
24 between Guca Gora and the rest of Central Bosnia? Was there any
25 communication or were you in point of fact encircled by the army of
1 Bosnia-Herzegovina, if I may put it that way, not only but this whole
2 area, Brajkovici and the other villages towards Zenica?
3 A. In times one could go to a certain place but that was risky, most
4 of the roads were closed. There were checkpoints, and controls so that
5 you could start somewhere but whether you would be back, that was a
6 question indeed.
7 Q. However, in spite of that situation that you found yourselves in
8 in that encirclement, could you believe in your parish, in your parish at
9 that time that the Muslims would attack you?
10 A. Well, it is difficult now to say that. The trouble is we were
11 never physically nor mentally ready for a conflict with Muslims. We
12 conversely wanted to live at peace with them, and during my last days in
13 Guca Gora when I talked to people, they told us that -- they told me that
14 the Muslims would never attack us; however, unfortunately, -- very well,
15 very well, we shall come to that.
16 Q. Just one question more. While you were encircled and cut off from
17 the rest of Bosnia for those couple of months, did you have electricity,
18 could you watch television, did you get any press?
19 A. No, neither television nor radio, nor written press, nothing was
20 reaching us anymore. We were simply and plainly cut off and we lived the
21 way that we lived at the time when none of these things existed. Only
22 those who had some dry batteries, they could listen to some transistor
23 radios, but that was all that one could do here on the radio what was
24 happening outside Guca Gora or any other place that we happened to be in.
25 Q. Your Honours, we are moving to paragraph 15.
1 Mr. Neimarevic, could you tell us, in early June, the village of
2 Dolac was attacked, and we could call it a suburb of Travnik?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. It was to another date, well it was the 5th -- well, never mind.
5 It was in the beginning of June, I think it was the 5th of June and that
6 is what you wrote in your summary. But this was not the only village that
7 was attacked because Ovcarevo, another village, was also attacked, wasn't
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Tell us, who attacked those villages?
11 A. Those villages were attacked by Muslim forces. Dolac, an old
12 Croat place, was attacked. It had a nice and beautiful church. At a
13 later date it was then devastated and destroyed and it was so damaged
14 subsequently that it began to cave in all of itself.
15 Ovcarevo was a large parish. Not only Ovcarevo, there were other
16 parishes up there which were attacked such as Turbe and the environs of
17 Travnik itself. So that a massive exodus of the Croat population took
18 place and they were received by the Serb population on Vlasic and helped
19 them make a safe passage to Croatia.
20 Q. Very well, thank you. So at that time, or rather on that same
21 day, when you had this attack, and we shall come back to that later, the
22 parish of Brajkovici was attacked. Perhaps we should explain to Their
23 Honours the parish of Brajkovici, those villages in that parish and there
24 were 12 villages there, they did not belong all in the Travnik
25 municipality, 80 per cent of the villages were in that municipality and a
1 few of them, a lesser number, that is about 20 per cent, were in the
2 municipality of Zenica; is that so?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. All those villages were basically Croat, that is the majority was
5 Croat except the village of Cukle which was a mixed Muslim Croat village?
6 A. Yes. That is the parish of Brajkovici, and I spent six years
7 there. It is separated from Guca Gora by the Bila River. The majority of
8 the villages were purely Croat except Cukle, which had a mixed population,
9 and Konjevici to a degree, but that was in the Zenica municipality.
10 Q. Tell us: Perhaps we should give the Court some figures that you
11 came by later. When the whole parish of Brajkovici was taken and all the
12 villagers, how many Croats had to leave the area?
13 A. Something about 5.500 Croats had to leave because of the fighting
14 on the 8th of June, 1993, when many civilians were killed. Some of them
15 were burnt alive in their homes. I know about the case at Grahovcici and
16 Brajkovici. So many people were fleeing towards Nova Bila, taking
17 different routes through the woods. And in the early hours of the morning
18 of the 9th of June, 1993, the last of those Croats arrived in Nova Bila.
19 I believe only a family of two people stayed there. There were also some
20 who hid in the forest at Simici [phoen]. There were about 20 of them.
21 But they were exchanged, and they also came to Nova Bila, that is, Vitez,
22 that area.
23 Q. Tell us, when we are referring to the parish of Brajkovici, you
24 told us that the church at Dolac was devastated, that is, destroyed, and
25 what about the chapel at Bukovice?
13 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the
14 French and English transcripts.
1 A. It was burnt and practically razed to the ground. There is
2 documentation, there are photographs.
3 Q. Very well. But perhaps we could mention as a fact the church at
5 A. Yes. It was also pillaged inside. It is interesting that the
6 Muslim troops, by and large, did not cause any major damage to objects, to
7 the exterior of the objects. They mostly damaged, destroyed, the interior
8 in the Guca Gora, the convent church, and they were again completely
10 Q. I'm sorry I have to interrupt you, but we shall talk about that
11 when we come to Guca Gora. Let us finish this, the events around Guca
12 Gora, villages around Guca Gora. Do you know what happened to the
13 Catholic church in Travnik, St. John Baptist?
14 A. The church was again demolished inside, and almost all the statues
15 were broken, so that even Corpus Christi was tied to a car and driven
16 around by Muslim troops.
17 Q. You have information and you are aware of what happened to 36
18 Croats in the hamlet of Bikosi, that is, the hamlet of the village of
19 Banjak [phoen]?
20 A. Yes. That was a tragic event. Thirty-six people were shot dead:
21 some civilians, some were soldiers. And that included a young woman who
22 was helping as a nurse, was helping, a female doctor. She was attending
23 to the wounded. She did wear the emblem of the Red Cross and yet she was
24 taken out and shot. There is information by the survivors because some of
25 those people were wounded.
1 Q. Excuse me. I do not think there is any need of going into it any
3 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] I shall merely like to remind the
4 Court that we have filed a statement by Pavao Barac, who speaks about
5 that, and this is merely in corroboration of that.
6 Q. Mr. Neimarevic, when fighting began in your area, the refugees
7 from all around you came to you, came to your convent, didn't they, the
8 villagers. Tell us, please: What happened on the 8th of June, 1993 in
9 the early hours? Who attacked and how did things unfold?
10 A. On the 6th of June the shelling of Guca Gora began, and on the 8th
11 of June, sometime around half past 3.00 in the morning or thereabouts, the
12 attack began on the village of Guca Gora itself. And I was in the convent
13 with my colleague, with my family, that is, my parents, my sister-in-law,
14 and her children and nuns. We could not see what was going on around us.
15 But at some point I did see how, through the yard of the convent, women
16 were coming, and those women were crying and I think they were already in
17 hysterics. And I asked them -- I stopped them and asked them what was
18 going on, and they told us that Mujahedin were nearby, that they were
19 slaughtering, that six people had already been killed. And amongst those
20 women who had arrived, two had lost their husbands that morning. And one
21 of them said, "Please help me save my father-in-law." And I said, "Just
22 wait a moment. I have to tell the nuns that I will come out." And that
23 is what I did. And so then we left the convent in Guca Gora.
24 Q. Tell us, please: How many people and who tried to defend Guca
25 Gora during that onslaught?
1 A. You have to know that the majority of Croats from Guca Gora were
2 migrant workers abroad. There were very few men left behind who were
3 capable of defending Guca Gora. There were perhaps about 100 of us all
4 together, that is, including elderly and children. And practically we
5 could not defend the village; we could only do perhaps some
6 reconnaissance. Guca Gora and other villages were practically undefended.
7 Q. Tell us, please: How many people were killed straight away during
8 that first onslaught of the Bosnian forces?
9 A. Six people were killed, but many people were not aware that the
10 village had been taken by the Muslim army. Many people learned that later
11 on. And so they arrived in the monastery and stayed there until the next
12 day, thanks to the UNPROFOR, which happened to be moving towards Guca
13 Gora. And a dentist from Vitez alerted them to these developments, and so
14 they entered Guca Gora and the monastery and they protected those expelled
15 from Guca Gora and so on.
16 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Your Honours, if I may, we should
17 like to show a very short video, which is D204/1, Defence Exhibit. That
18 is the number it has. However, there are two parts of that video. We
19 have already shown the part which refers to the Convoy of Joy, but there
20 is another part of it which covers the event at Guca Gora. That is a part
21 of the BBC coverage of the events that Mr. Neimarevic is testifying
23 So could I ask the booth to show it, please.
24 [Videotape played]
25 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Thank you, engineers.
1 Q. Mr. Neimarevic, these shots were taken in the yard of your
2 monastery, and those were your neighbours, your relatives who came here to
3 the yard. You recognised them, didn't you?
4 A. Yes, of course I did. They were next-door neighbours and my aunt,
5 my relations, and so on and so forth. They were in the monastery. And
6 since Muslim snipers and also other artillery were used to shell, the
7 UNPROFOR troops returned the fire, as you could see, and it was the first
8 time that a fight at Muslim positions in order to protect the civilian
9 population which was completely unarmed.
10 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Naumovski, what is the date for the video?
11 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] I think this was the 8th of June,
12 but I really -- I didn't -- no. It was the 9th of the 6th, Mr. Sayers
13 tells me. The 9th of June.
14 JUDGE MAY: If it is the 9th of June, all well and good, but
15 perhaps during the adjournment you would check and inform the Trial
17 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Yes. Thank you, Your Honours. I
18 shall do so?
19 A. This was on the 8th of June, in the afternoon, and the evacuation
20 took place on the 9th, because they spent the night in the church and the
21 monastery. So this happened on the 8th of June, in the afternoon, when
22 English soldiers fired, and the evacuation took place the next day. So it
23 was the 9th.
24 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation]
25 Q. And so on this same video we have the events of both the 8th and
1 the 9th of June, 1993, isn't it?
2 THE INTERPRETER: The witness nods.
3 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Thank you.
4 Q. Mr. Neimarevic, you were also forced to leave the monastery. Who
5 took it over? Who entered it?
6 A. After the civilians had left and the English soldiers who
7 retreated towards Vitez and Nova Bila, the Muslim forces came to the
8 monastery and they set up their command there. Their soldiers were there.
9 Q. Excuse me. About a month later, I think, UNPROFOR helped you to
10 come back to your monastery, if I may call it that. Tell us something:
11 What did the monastery look like inside?
12 A. The monastery looked dreadful. It was, all in all, sort of I
13 guess what were the verses from Koran in Arabic, and there were all sorts
14 of things written on the doors and also in the -- there was a sheet with a
15 quotation from the Koran. The church was all ransacked. The organ was
16 destroyed, or rather burnt, as far as I could see. Then the main painting
17 in the altar, a fresco by a well-known painter, had been -- had water
18 poured over it. And all the pews were overturned in the church, and the
19 two paintings -- one was a fresco, one was a mosaic -- they were also
21 Q. Will you tell us: The pews were painted over?
22 A. They were painted over all sorts of things, including excrement.
23 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] We are not going to read this, but
24 this is a milinfosum of 16th of June, 1993, which we wish to file. But we
25 should draw the attention of the Court to paragraph 8.
1 Will the usher please help me. Paragraph 8 refers do what
2 Mr. Neimarevic has told us.
3 THE REGISTRAR: Document D290/1.
4 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] I do not wish to take too much of
5 your time, Mr. Neimarevic, but we prepared some photographs about the
6 interior of that church and we should also like to adduce that as another
8 Perhaps if the colour one could be put on the ELMO. The originals
9 are in colour. These, unfortunately, are in black and white and you can't
10 see very well, but I believe Mr. Neimarevic will be able to tell us.
11 Q. So these are some of the fragments, Mr. Neimarevic, what you found
12 inside the monastery?
13 A. Yes. We see here photographs of the interior of the church and
14 what was inside or happened outside the church and outside the churchyard.
15 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Could the usher please just bring
16 down this spread. Thank you. So we have colour here.
17 A. Here this is the main painting on the main altar, that is, the
18 Guca Gora church. And some paint was poured at it, or rather there are
19 splashes of some paint. And here, this is the statue of St. Francis in
20 the church of Guca Gora, and it was fired at from firearms and something
21 was poured over it. I don't know what. And then it was put fire to. And
22 this here, here, six of my neighbours were buried here from Guca Gora,
23 those who were killed in the morning of the 8th of June, 1993.
24 Q. And you're saying that outrages were committed against those
1 A. Yes, indeed.
2 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Very well. We do not have to
3 spend any more time with this, but could we just get the number for this
4 exhibit, please.
5 THE REGISTRAR: D291/1.
6 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation]
7 Q. Mr. Neimarevic, even though one can see what some of the houses
8 looked like, we have some additional photographs. So if the usher could
9 please help me put them on the ELMO.
10 Without taking too much time, Mr. Neimarevic, we should just look
11 at the photographs that are being placed on the ELMO, and tell us where
12 these houses are located and whose houses they are.
13 A. The houses which you can see, this is -- belongs to a relative of
15 Q. Don't go into details. Where are these houses?
16 A. In Guca Gora. These are all in Guca Gora.
17 Q. Perhaps if we can focus only on the house on the right-hand side,
18 under the sign there's some letters. What does it say?
19 A. It's 7th Corps. That refers to the Muslim forces.
20 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Very well. I think this is
21 enough. Can we have a number for this exhibit, please.
22 THE REGISTRAR: D292/1.
23 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Your Honours, just one additional
24 photograph which is the -- Mr. Neimarevic's family home. Unfortunately,
25 we don't have the original photographs here, we only have a photocopy but
1 we will provide the original tomorrow to the registry.
2 Q. Mr. Neimarevic, in the photographs taken there, you recognise your
3 own family home, could you just please confirm that once it is placed
4 before you?
5 A. Yes, this is my family home and behind the walls, you see to the
6 right there is another structure which we also owned, and that was also
8 Q. Thank you Mr. Usher, I think that this is all we need.
9 Mr. Neimarevic, we tried to save some time so we skipped over many
10 things. The Trial Chamber saw that the houses in Guca Gora were heavily
11 damaged and looted. Could you tell us how many houses in Guca Gora and
12 the vicinity were looted and ransacked?
13 A. I cannot give you the exact figure, but several thousand houses.
14 Q. I was referring to Guca Gora.
15 A. There were 250 homes in Guca Gora. About 10 to 15 were left
16 standing but they were all -- all of them were looted.
17 Q. Were some of these houses restored, did some of your parishioners
18 come back?
19 A. There is a problem relating to Guca Gora, and very few houses have
20 been restored. I have some information that some will be restored but I
21 don't know how many.
22 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Please, I didn't get the last
23 number for the last exhibit, if I can get it from the registry.
24 THE REGISTRAR: 1093/1.
25 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Thank you.
13 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the
14 French and English transcripts.
1 Q. Your parish, Guca Gora, before the attack of 8 June 1993, how many
2 parishioners lived there?
3 A. About 3.500 and all of them had to leave their homes except for
4 two small hamlets, Brankovac and Cifluk.
5 Q. Out of 3.500 parishioners, that is, those 3.500 parishioners were
6 just one small fraction of everyone, of all people who had to leave their
7 homes in the areas of Travnik and Zenica?
8 A. Yes, over 5.500 people had to leave the Brajkovici parish, the
9 same with Dolac and there were other parishes that were emptied.
10 Q. Would it be too much to say that 20.000 Croats were driven out?
11 A. At least 20.000.
12 Q. In the last paragraph of your summary, you said -- you stated not
13 only your opinion of what caused the conflict of -- between the Croats and
14 Muslims in Central Bosnia but you also repeated something that a Muslim
15 friend whom you respected said about this?
16 A. The leadership, the Muslim leadership wanted to preserve
17 Yugoslavia --
18 Q. No, no, no, I didn't want you to give a political opinion, only to
19 what related in your own area.
20 A. Yes. Speaking of local events, a friend of mine said to my
21 colleague, Mirko Bobas, seven or eight months before the conflict started,
22 he said, "We did not prepare for the conflict with the Serbs. We prepared
23 to fight you and we had enough weapons and enough medicine to -- food to
24 see us through this conflict."
25 The Croats were not numerous enough, they lived in a very small
1 area and that is the Muslims did, and the Muslims knew that they could not
2 fight the Serbs, so they thought that they could turn against the Croats.
3 This can be also gleaned from the interview with General Arif Pasalic, he
4 gave an interview to Danas magazine in Zagreb in 1994, it was one of the
5 last issues of this --
6 JUDGE MAY: This is going beyond the witness' ability to give
8 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
9 Q. Let us conclude, Mr. Neimarevic. You said that the Muslims wanted
10 to replace the territory they left at the expense of Croats. This was
11 told you by a Muslim friend whom you respected?
12 A. Yes.
13 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Mr. Neimarevic, thank you. This
14 concludes my examination-in-chief. Thank you Your Honours.
15 MR. KOVACIC: Your Honour, we will not have any questions, thank
17 MS. SOMERS: I regret to have to raise this in the presence of the
18 witness, but I must inform the Bench that Mr. Nice was presented this
19 morning at the beginning of the session with the affidavit of Franjo
20 Krizanac and therefore, having had no advance ability to look at it, the
21 Prosecution is unable to work that into the cross-examination.
22 I would like the Bench to know that I did have conversation with
23 Erica from Hunter Williams from 9.00 to 9.30 on Sunday night when a copy
24 of the summaries was prepared and was sent, and apparently the affidavit
25 was ready as of the 30th of June. Therefore, I can only ask that the
1 Court either consider exclusion of it or perhaps ask that the witness be
2 brought in for cross because, sadly, we cannot do anything with it now.
3 JUDGE MAY: Well, I'm not going to go into an argument of when it
4 was served or anything of that sort or when it was received. For the
5 moment, let us concentrate on the cross-examination of the witness.
6 MS. SOMERS: Thank you, Your Honour.
7 Cross-examined by Ms. Somers:
8 Q. I would like to clarify if you are still a priest.
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. And is it correct for me to address you as Father Neimarevic?
11 A. Whatever you wish.
12 Q. Father Neimarevic, would you please indicate where you are working
13 and where you have been working since 1993. Where are you based?
14 A. Since 1993, in late October, I left the territory of Central
15 Bosnia and following that, I stayed with my family, with my sisters also
16 with my friends. And after that, I was transferred and became a chaplain
17 near Zagreb because I could not return to Central Bosnia.
18 Q. And since 1993, you have been living in Zagreb in Croatia; is that
20 A. I was -- spent very little time in Zagreb. I was mostly abroad
21 and I -- for a time, I was in Blaskovac near Zagreb, and then for six
22 months in Australia.
23 Q. Can you give the time period during which you were in Australia
24 and was that your sole location abroad?
25 A. I was there for six months. I returned in early March, I cannot
1 give you the exact date. About a week before the papal visit to Zagreb
2 where I went to substitute the -- my colleagues who came, who went to
3 Zagreb for the papal visit.
4 Q. Now, that papal visit, was that the 1997 visit, is this the one
5 you are referring to or was it 1995?
6 A. It was the first papal visit to Croatia. This was in late, if I'm
7 not mistaken, 1994.
8 Q. The return in early March was in March of 1994 then; is that
9 correct? I just want to make sure that we have your years mapped out
11 A. 1995.
12 Q. And you were overseas for approximately a year; is that correct?
13 A. I was sent by my superior to Switzerland for a year where I worked
14 in the Croatian mission in Switzerland.
15 Q. In the Croatian mission meaning the governmental mission or a
16 religious mission?
17 A. I refer to the religious, the Catholic mission in Switzerland.
18 Q. And which superior, please name him, sent you to Switzerland?
19 A. Fra Tomislav Pervan, the provincial of the -- of Franciscan -- the
20 Franciscan provincial in Bosnia-Herzegovina because I had transferred over
21 there where I worked for the -- with the refugees.
22 Q. And where was the provincial physically located in
24 A. The provincial of my local province was in Zagreb and he sent me
25 to Ljubuski where I was to care for the Croat displaced persons.
1 Q. Your original province, was it in the Bosnian province?
2 A. Yes, my original one was in Bosnia.
3 Q. And who was your provincial at the time you were in the Bosnian
4 province, please?
5 A. This was Fra Petar Andzelovic.
6 Q. The summary which has been provided to this office in both English
7 and Croatian, was that summary written by you?
8 A. The summary received was written by me personally.
9 Q. The Office of the Prosecutor had had contact with a very high
10 official in the church in Bosnia and was informed that it was the policy
11 that no Franciscan could be interviewed by the Office of the Prosecutor or
12 testify. Can you indicate whether or not you had to get or did get
13 clearance by any religious superior to be here today?
14 A. Regarding my testimony, I was requested to do so and nobody in my
15 current province was against that.
16 Q. Did you inform them that you, in fact, were coming today and that
17 you had given an interview with the Defence?
18 A. My current provincial is aware of it. He was -- he was informed
19 by my superior in the monastery where I currently reside that I was coming
21 Q. And who is your current provincial?
22 A. My provincial is Friar Tomislav.
23 Q. Is that a -- that is a first name; is that correct? What is the
24 last name if I may ask, please?
25 A. Pervan.
1 Q. Father Neimarevic, are the positions which you give today in this
2 courtroom positions, official positions, of the Catholic church in
3 Bosnia-Herzegovina and in Croatia?
4 JUDGE MAY: I'm not sure what you mean by that, Ms. Somers. What
5 part of the evidence are you referring to?
6 MS. SOMERS: There are certain comments about relations that
7 existed and about the build-up of tensions and causes of the conflict, and
8 I have exhibits which will go to this and I wanted to know if, perhaps, I
9 could get an answer from the witness on this issue if I may.
10 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Neimarevic, you hear what counsel is referring
11 to. Are you giving evidence of an official position of the church or
12 giving your own evidence about this?
13 A. I speak here on my own behalf. I give -- I am giving evidence on
14 what I, myself, have heard or seen or thought, and this is what I told you
15 today here.
16 MS. SOMERS: May I ask the usher -- oh, I'm sorry.
17 [Trial Chamber confers]
18 JUDGE MAY: Yes.
19 MS. SOMERS: Exhibit Z1465.7, please. And if a copy could be put
20 on the ELMO as well.
21 Mr. Usher, if the Croatian copy could go on the ELMO, it would be
22 helpful. I'm not clear that the interpreters have this.
23 Q. Do you recognise this questionnaire, Father Neimarevic?
24 A. This is the questionnaire number 8? I don't understand.
25 Q. Do you recognise this questionnaire? Is this a questionnaire
1 which you yourself filled out? Is this the same Stjepan Neimarevic?
2 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Ms. Somers, is the part in
3 English the exact translation of what is said in Serbo-Croatian?
4 MS. SOMERS: It should, Your Honour. It should give the names,
5 the dates, and the various subcategories.
6 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] But I don't think it is, because
7 we have some answers from Mr. Neimarevic which are not listed in the
8 questionnaire as such, in the part that is devoted to the questions. I
9 don't know whether this is an exact translation of what there is on the
10 other side.
11 MS. SOMERS: Shall I run through it and make sure that it
12 matches? I think it would be brief, but it appears to be essentially
13 point for point.
14 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] My apologies, Your Honours. I
15 don't want to interrupt the cross-examination, but it says that this is a
16 document by the European Union and it says that it is strictly
17 confidential. We are in open session. Perhaps at least we can move into
18 the private session. Thank you.
19 MS. SOMERS: Your Honour, may I respond to that? The essence of
20 this document is concerning war crimes, and we are here in a war crimes
21 Tribunal. I think it moots the issue.
22 JUDGE MAY: Yes, we agree.
23 Can you identify this, Mr. Neimarevic? It looks like a form that
24 you filled in, you see.
25 A. Yes, I filled it in.
1 JUDGE MAY: Yes. It's got your name, your date of birth.
2 A. Yes.
3 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Ms. Somers.
4 MS. SOMERS:
5 Q. What it does not have is a date. When did you fill this in,
7 A. I really forgot. I have no idea.
8 Q. Where did you fill it in? Was it in Travnik? Was it in Croatia?
9 Was it in Australia?
10 A. This was in Ljubuski.
11 Q. And how did this questionnaire come to you? Who asked you to fill
12 this in?
13 A. I was told that these were persons who were in contact with the
14 Tribunal in The Hague, and if I wanted to be a witness, that I needed to
15 fill it in and send it. Personally, I do not know the persons who sent it
16 to me.
17 Q. This is while you were at or -- you presently are at the monastery
18 in Ljubuski; is that correct?
19 A. Yes. I'm currently in the Humac monastery in Ljubuski.
20 Q. And when did you join that monastery? If you could repeat that.
21 I'm not sure I was clear on your exact date.
22 A. I arrived in early May.
23 Q. Of what year?
24 A. 1995.
25 Q. So somewhere between 1995 and today you filled this questionnaire
13 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the
14 French and English transcripts.
1 in; would that be correct? The events that are referred to in this
2 questionnaire, it appears, if you look at number 9, you were asked about
3 being a witness to any particular war crime or wrongdoing. Now, today, in
4 your direct evidence, you listed a number of things that might qualify. I
5 note that the sole item mentioned here was that you were present for a
6 telephone conversation of commander Ilija Nakic of the HVO and someone
7 named Cuskic. Is that the only crime you wished to bring to the attention
8 of the European Union monitors?
9 A. My initial task here was to say what I experienced and what I
10 saw. And this was referring to the crimes in Brajkovici parish in the
11 village of Miletici, where five civilians were massacred, killed, ethnic
12 Croats, and some of them were Jehovah's Witnesses, who were not permitted
13 to carry weapons, so they were civilians in absolute terms. And Cuskic
14 was general of ABiH at that time.
15 Q. When you were asked about the specific nationality or identity of
16 the perpetrator, you listed Alagic, commander of the 3rd Corps, from
17 Zenica. Is that the only perpetrator you were able to identify, the
18 actual commander?
19 A. I had said that he was the 3rd Corps commander, under whose
20 command these soldiers committed this crime.
21 Q. In the interests of time -- we will be breaking in a few moments,
22 I believe, but the crime, the location you're talking about is Guca Gora,
23 and you were talking about -- was it Brajkovici, earlier? I believe you
24 said Brajkovici. Is this the same crime? Are you suggesting -- are you
25 linking Alagic with the crime in Guca Gora or in Brajkovici, or can you
1 please explain before we take a break.
2 A. I'm not linking Alagic or anyone with the crime in Guca Gora. The
3 crime in Guca Gora happened on 8 June, when six parishioners, Catholics,
4 were killed. And what is referred to in here is the event which I have
5 heard took place in the village of Miletici. This commander informed
6 Ilija Nakic that these civilians were killed in Miletici, in the
7 Brajkovici parish, which borders on the Guca Gora parish and is only
8 separated from it by the River Bila.
9 JUDGE MAY: Ms. Somers, the time is now five past eleven. If
10 that's convenient.
11 MS. SOMERS: It is convenient.
12 JUDGE MAY: We're going to adjourn now, Mr. Neimarevic. Please
13 remember not to speak to anybody during any adjournments until your
14 evidence is over about it, and that includes members of the Defence team.
15 We'll adjourn now until twenty-five to twelve.
16 --- Recess taken at 11.05 a.m.
17 --- On resuming at 11.38 a.m.
18 MS. SOMERS:
19 Q. Father Neimarevic, returning briefly to this questionnaire, your
20 answer in number 11, which is about the identity of the perpetrator, whom
21 you have identified as Alagic, does that refer to number 9, where you
22 indicated that you were a witness or a victim of some wrongdoing against
23 property, or does that refer to number 10? Actually, I'm sorry. Number 9
24 refers to the conversation and 10 refers to property. To which does your
25 answer in number 11 refer?
1 A. Alagic was the -- commanded the 3rd Corps. That is how I
2 understood the question, that I had to answer who held the command in that
3 area at that time and who were the men -- or rather who were the soldiers
4 who had done that. So I'm not saying that he was personally responsible,
5 that he was the perpetrator himself, but only that those men were under
6 his command. That is why I cited him.
7 Q. So you have no personal knowledge of anything Alagic may or may
8 not have done; is that correct?
9 A. And I can't have any such knowledge because I could not obtain
10 that information. I was in Guca Gora. And all that I heard I suppose you
11 can find it with Father Franjo Krizanac who buried the victims in
13 Q. Well, who told you to put Alagic's name in this particular line in
14 the questionnaire?
15 A. Nobody told me that, I merely said here that Alagic was the
16 commander of the 3rd Corps.
17 Q. In order to make sure that we are clear on chains of command
18 within the church, I'd like to take just a moment, please, and ask you to
19 confirm the hierarchy. Starting at the stop, the Pope would be over both
20 Franciscan and diocesan or diocese priests, is that correct, if we talk
21 about the two divisions of priests, the Franciscans and diocesans; is that
23 A. I don't really know what you're driving at. I don't know why that
24 question. I simply don't understand.
25 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] I think this goes far beyond what
1 the witness testified. This is an extension. I don't really understand
2 why does one have to go to all that.
3 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Naumovski, it's for us to say whether it does or
4 not now, not for you. Yes, let's get through this quickly.
5 MS. SOMERS:
6 Q. You are a Franciscan; is that correct?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. One group of priests. There is also a group, correct, called the
9 diocese or diocesan priests; is that correct?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Above both the Franciscans and the diocesan or diocese priests,
12 there is the Pope, the Vatican, correct? He is the head of both branches
13 of priesthood; correct? You are subordinate to him.
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Looking at the level of the chain of command in the Franciscans,
16 there is in Rome, is there not, a person or position called the general;
17 is that right?
18 A. Yes, it is.
19 Q. Then again, looking strictly at the Franciscans, there is,
20 subordinate to the general, the provincial, is that correct, the
21 provincial, let's say in Bosnia.
22 A. Yes, that is correct. Yes, it is.
23 Q. Excuse me for interrupting. Below the provincials are the friars
24 of which you are one; is that correct?
25 A. Yes, it is.
1 Q. And you live in the monasteries and you are members of the various
2 orders, is that a fair way of describing things?
3 A. Yes, it is a fair way to describe it.
4 Q. Looking on the other half of the equation, there is the diocese
5 group of priests or diocesan who are also under the Pope, as you've
6 indicated and they have, under the Pope, the archbishops or bishop; is
7 that correct?
8 A. Yes, correct.
9 Q. And then below the bishop or archbishop level are the diocesan
10 priests, the regular priests who actually are out among the people; is
11 that correct?
12 A. Yes, it is correct.
13 Q. Are you able to articulate, to explain the divisions between the
14 Franciscans and the diocesan priests in Bosnia-Herzegovina over the issues
15 of independence for Bosnia and over the existence of Herceg-Bosna? Are
16 you familiar with those particular positions? Before you answer and may I
17 add, and can you articulate about independence in Bosnia and HZ HB, can
18 you discuss also the positions of both the provincials on those issues.
19 It is a big order, but if we can break it down, that would be good.
20 A. The positions of the Catholic church were that Bosnia was a state
21 and that Bosnia-Herzegovina should not be partitioned. This is also the
22 position of the provincials and bishops. What do priests think, what are
23 their positions, I really have no idea. I did not talk about this because
24 I had neither the opportunity nor time and, after all, it is one's own
1 Q. Are you involved in the very different positions between the
2 Herzegovinian Franciscans and Bishop Peric over these issues, have you
3 taken any position?
4 JUDGE MAY: Well, the first question is: Do you know of any such
6 A. As far as I know, the divisions in Bosnia-Herzegovina are of a
7 religious -- of a church nature; that is, they have nothing to do with
8 one's attitude to Bosnia-Herzegovina. There are some problems of the
9 church and besides. They are not new problems, they are problems which
10 date centuries back so I really don't understand the question.
11 MS. SOMERS:
12 Q. Do you know what happened to Bishop Peric in 1996 when he tried to
13 keep the friars back in the monasteries because they were causing
14 political trouble? Are you familiar with that incident?
15 A. I'm familiar with the incident to a point but, I repeat, it has
16 nothing to do with politics. It is an inside problem of the church, of
17 priests, the Franciscans and the bishop who is in Mostar. It has nothing
18 to do with Bosnia or Mostar, it has to do with the church.
19 Q. Then what was behind this particular incident which literally
20 almost resulted in the lynching of a priest, I'm sorry, of a bishop?
21 A. I have just said it is a century-old problem. The churches were
22 requesting that some parishes must be placed under the authority of a
23 bishop, that is, priest, but they are people who have lived under
24 Franciscans for centuries and they'd like their Franciscans to stay and
25 the bishop is not giving an affirmative answer to that.
1 And as far as I know, I mean I wasn't there, the problem was that
2 the people were indignant with a decision of the bishop and the lack of
3 understanding on his part, and they wanted to, in a way, talk to, have a
4 talk with the believers in order to find a solution to the problem faced
5 by the bishopric and the Franciscan order. So I repeat, it is a church
7 MS. SOMERS: If the usher would please distribute Z1016.1.
8 Q. This is an article of which we have both the original and a
9 translation. What also has been provided hopefully is the summary from
10 FBIS, the date of the article is the 4th of June 1993 appearing in the
11 Zagreb paper Globus written by Davor Butkovic. I would like to call your
12 attention to some of the issues that Mr. Butkovic raises and in
13 particular, this article talks about the very aggressive and what he
14 describes as disrespectful stance taken by Mate Boban toward the
15 archbishop then Cardinal Kuharic of Zagreb.
16 Are you familiar with the letter that was written under Mate
17 Boban's name sent to then Cardinal Kuharic on or about the 22nd of May
18 1993 which is the subject of this article?
19 A. The 7th of May 1993, as you know, I was at Guca Gora and no paper
20 could reach us there. All I heard was that that letter had been sent.
21 Who sent it, why? Whether they really drew it up, they two as you say or
22 not, how can I know that? One really has to see first to investigate who
23 wrote the letter, why he wrote it, did he really write it or is it just
24 the product of somebody's imagination? I really don't know because I have
25 no idea. I have no idea about this.
1 Q. I apologise. I was hoping that the FBIS summary would also be
2 distributed because it is easier to read from there, but I shall try to
3 point out from the article points which I'd like to ask you about.
4 Butkovic wrote that, "Boban's letter, political scandals that
5 has happened since the downfall of communism. About 15 days ago," which
6 was 15 days from this writing, "Cardinal Kuharic made an appeal for peace
7 in Bosnia-Herzegovina in which he criticised also Croats and their role in
8 Croatian-Muslim clashes. In his appeal he says that Croats in
9 Bosnia-Herzegovina are as responsible for possible sanctions that may be
10 implemented against Croatia as they are responsible for the Croatian
11 Muslim clashes. Nor does the appeal exclude the possibility that Bosnian
12 Croats are also responsible for war crimes."
13 Further in the article, what this letter -- well, then there is a
14 description of the letter that was written by Boban which will be a
15 separate exhibit. But the response was that, "What this letter actually
16 signifies is a conflict between the political leader of the reportedly
17 most religious part of the Croatian people, that is, Herzegovina Croats,
18 and the supreme Croatian religious institution, that is, Cardinal
19 Kuharic. According to Reverend Cvitanovic of Split, such a style of
20 address toward the clergy was practised only by dictatorships in Chile,
21 Hitler's Germany, and by leaders of the French and Mexican revolution."
22 The article continues with the text of the Boban letter, but it
23 goes on --
24 JUDGE MAY: I think we can read this actually, Ms. Somers. Can
25 you show any light on these matters, and is it being suggested that this
13 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the
14 French and English transcripts.
1 goes in some way towards the credit of the witness, Ms. Somers? Is this
2 the point of this?
3 MS. SOMERS: Your Honour, I'm going to go towards the witness'
4 orientation toward these matters, and I would like to know whether it is
5 consistent of that of the church, the organised church, or whether there
6 is a different approach taken. And I think it's important that the Court
7 see how the organised church, the highest institution, viewed this
9 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Ms. Somers, you nevertheless
10 realise that in this case we must now go to the heart of the problem of
11 the issue and not going around it, because we have made some progress for
12 the last year and a half. Couldn't you ask the witness directly how does
13 he view all these different positions of the church? Can't you do that
14 without feeling compelled to going round and round about these relations?
15 Why don't you ask him directly? And I believe that you could do it with a
16 number of other issues, so that we focus on the things that are of concern
17 to us, without wasting any further time. I believe that would be the
18 interests of the Judges in the case which is before us.
19 MS. SOMERS: Your Honours, I certainly will try to cut to the
20 chase on this. I will have to refer the Chamber to various positions
21 which are articulated in the articles. Certainly the Bench has these
22 articles and can view them themselves, but I must bring to your attention
23 that there are portions in there that are quite critical. Yes, of course,
24 Your Honour, Judge Bennouna, I will try to go more directly to it, but I
25 ask the Bench to consider seriously the content of these.
1 Q. A point which I would ask for your comment on is that not only is
2 there aired a very serious rift, but it appears that there is mention of
3 the position of the bishop of Sarajevo, Vinko Puljic, and a number of
4 other important members of the Catholic Church. The one last point on
5 this particular article is that Butkovic has commented that Cardinal
6 Kuharic has proved himself to be the first Croatian public person to
7 respond to his historical responsibility. No matter how unpopular this
8 may sound, Kuharic was the first in Croatia to say directly that Croats
9 are not innocent in the Muslim Croatian conflict.
10 I shall then ask you to please look at the letter itself, briefly,
11 of Mate Boban to the cardinal, which is Z985.2. It is both in Croatian
12 and in English. I apologise that we didn't have an opportunity for the
13 French, Your Honour.
14 The article which you have just seen of Butkovic's discusses this
15 particular letter. And by the way, Butkovic described this letter as
16 Boban's suicide act, as it were, political suicide act. The only points
17 that I will specially raise to you concern Boban's comments, where he
19 "And I wonder what argument," meaning to the cardinal, "you have
20 at your disposal when you talk about Bosnia Herzegovina as a state in
21 which we should live, about a state that the world has recognised, which
22 is a member of the UN. Beautiful. What of substance do you have from
23 that state? Is there a Bosnia, is a question philosophised upon by the
24 friars and priests who loiter around Zagreb salons and meet with the
25 president of their state of Bosnia. Ask the priests and friars in Bosnia
1 if there is a Bosnia. There is. There is. There, where a Croat shed
2 blood for her, bared his bones. But once that which a blind man sees
3 should be clear to all of you. There is Bosnia, but the HVO defended her
4 because it is also the land of Croats." And briefly: "And now you are
5 grouping us in the same bag and calling for reconciliation and making
6 accusations for possible --"
7 THE INTERPRETER: Can you please slow down.
8 MS. SOMERS: " -- for possible disobedience that will foil the
9 plans of Croatia, your homeland. And you can, exalted sir, do much more.
10 You can tell all journalists that Croatia has nothing to do with that.
11 One part of Croatia stayed in Bosnia, which does not concern Croatia,
12 although these two other nations want to erase what remains of the Croats
13 in Bosnia." And then it goes on to say: "They are practicing vengeance
14 and the Koran on what is left of the Croat nation in Bosnia."
15 Q. My question to you, Father, is: Is this the way one talks to an
16 archbishop or cardinal?
17 JUDGE MAY: No, no. Ms. Somers, can I ask you, please, to bring
18 this matter to a conclusion in a way which is relevant to the witness. If
19 the Prosecution want to establish that the church or the Franciscans were
20 in some way biased, and that seems to be what you're driving at, it can be
21 put very shortly to this witness; and then if you wish to call evidence in
22 rebuttal, you can.
23 Now, Mr. Neimarevic, have you seen this letter before?
24 A. I have never seen this letter before.
25 JUDGE MAY: Very well. Can you comment in this respect: Does it
1 represent at all your views?
2 A. This letter was written at a time of war. I have no idea what
3 went on between Zagreb and Grude. I was fighting for survival of myself
4 and the people that I cared for. Now, here the issue is whether we were
5 going to fight for the territory or something else. I told to my
6 provincial in 1993 in Zagreb: I am not at all interested in what size the
7 territory inhabited by the Croats will be; I'm only interested in how to
8 protect human lives. That was my only concern while I stayed in Guca Gora
9 and in Bosnia, and it remains to date.
10 JUDGE MAY: Was there any bias on the part of the Franciscans
11 against the Muslims?
12 A. It depended on where people were. If people were massacred or
13 people were driven out, I wonder how you would have felt. I don't think
14 that it was hate.
15 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] But the question that the
16 President asked you was not that one, and it will help us to move on much
17 faster. Mr. Neimarevic, the question was whether your hierarchy, that is,
18 the Franciscans, did you receive any instructions to take any position
19 whatsoever about the conflict which was taking place before your eyes?
20 That was the question: Whether your superiors, the Franciscan
21 authorities, asked you to commit yourself in one or the other sense, and
22 whether there is a position that was taken by the Franciscans that was
23 recommended by your superiors.
24 A. A way to answer this question is as follows: We had no contacts
25 with our provincial, provincial's office, or the cardinal. We were left
1 alone to fend for ourselves in the field. And in 1993 I can give you an
2 example. I met with a cardinal and there was no communication with
3 Travnik. And he said, "Whatever happens, you do on your own. As a
4 guardian, you deal with the sacraments, with the rights, the best you
5 can." And this may have been one of the big problems, because had the
6 church leaders met before the war, had they issued some instructions to
7 everyone what the rules of behaviour should be, the affairs in Bosnia and
8 Herzegovina may have taken a different turn. Myself and others who had to
9 leave under fire when our lives were endangered, which is the most
10 precious thing that one has, I wonder how things would have turned out.
11 JUDGE MAY: I think we'll move on now.
12 MS. SOMERS: Yes. And thank you very much for anticipating some
13 of the my questions. I did want to make a distinction that the
14 Prosecution has never taken the position that all Franciscans had a bias.
15 There are definite schisms.
16 Very quickly, just to bring to your and the Court's attention.
17 The various positions -- yes. Just to bring to your attention for reading
18 at whatever point in time: Z1476.5, Z1473.6, Z1473.7, and Z1471.7. Those
19 four articles will have a short point in each.
20 THE INTERPRETER: Can you specify which paragraph you will be
22 MS. SOMERS: I will. Although there is a span of dates, I would
23 like --
24 JUDGE MAY: Let me see the documents, please. Let us see. Now,
25 this is apparently an article, and if you would -- dated 1997.
1 MS. SOMERS: Your Honour, Judge May, which particular number are
2 you reading?
3 JUDGE MAY: Well, I've got 1476.5. Let's have them all.
4 MS. SOMERS: Okay. Yes. 1476.5.
5 JUDGE MAY: Now, I have now 1471.7, 1473.6, 1473.7, and 1476.5.
6 Now, is there anything more that we should have?
7 MS. SOMERS: No. These are the articles, Your Honour.
8 JUDGE MAY: Now, Ms. Somers, what is -- we won't go through them.
9 I just want to know, first of all, what the purpose is in putting these
10 documents in. What do you say they show?
11 MS. SOMERS: Thank you, Your Honour. The purpose of 1476.5, which
12 is a 1997 article out of Oslobodenje, is to emphasise the position stated
13 by the Pope. It says, in the middle of the page: "This primarily refers
14 to the visit of the Holy Father to Sarajevo, during which he, once again,
15 unequivocally confirmed that the Catholic Church was a firm adversary of
16 the partition of Bosnia-Herzegovina on national and religious grounds, and
17 that it was striving for it to be whole."
18 That is the point of that particular article.
19 JUDGE MAY: Let's see how it will relates to the witness.
20 Did you know about this, Mr. Neimarevic?
21 A. I don't see it in the Croatian language, so I don't know what this
22 refers to.
23 JUDGE MAY: We haven't got the time to go through all this. Yes,
24 let's go to the next point.
25 MS. SOMERS: Surely. The next article -- actually, I'm sorry that
1 there was a jump in the dates, but it would be 1476.6, and it is a rather
2 late article, expressing concern --
3 JUDGE ROBINSON: Point 6?
4 MS. SOMERS: Yes, Your Honour. If it was not given to you, it
5 will have to be passed -- excuse me. 76.6. Did I say that? I'm terribly
6 sorry. I beg your pardon. It was my error. If we could move on to
7 1471.7. What is explained here, for the benefit of the Court, at whatever
8 period of time it wishes to read it, is an explanation of the battle, as
9 it were, the differences between the diocese and the orders: the
10 Herzegovinian, Franciscan, and the Mostar diocese. And it bears --
11 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Ms. Somers, the question, that
12 is, half an hour after, perhaps even three quarters of an hour later,
13 we're still dealing with the church structure, and we asked you to ask the
14 witness pertinent questions, relevant questions, which have to do with the
15 direct -- with his testimony in the direct examination. So ask directly
16 the question of the witness in matters that concern him, because, after
17 all, we cannot really go through the structure of the church with this
18 witness, and I really think that we have to put an end to this at some
20 MS. SOMERS: I shall link it with specific questions. The 1473.7
21 refers to a comment made by the witness, and I'd like to just highlight
22 it, that the Catholic church, this is Archbishop Puljic of Sarajevo
23 speaking that, "The Catholic church does not support any party. We want
24 peace and justice to rule Bosnia". And then he goes on to explain and he
25 said, the last sentence, "I know that some representatives of the Catholic
1 church will call on citizens to vote for the Croatian Democratic Union,
2 HDZ, but that is not the church's position in Bosnia," Cardinal Puljic
4 Q. Father, you had indicated that you had not had any political
5 affiliation; is that correct? At any time were you ever involved in any
6 HDZ activity, albeit not a member?
7 A. When the democratic changes in Bosnia-Herzegovina started, we were
8 all involved including the church. We wanted Bosnia-Herzegovina to be
9 constituted as a democratic state with a rule of law. I supported that
10 wholeheartedly. I wanted to see the changes take place so that finally,
11 democracy and freedom could also arrive in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
12 I personally was never a member of any party and obviously I
13 supported the representatives of Croat people in Bosnia-Herzegovina who
14 stated that they supported Bosnia-Herzegovina as an independent,
15 indivisible country with democracy and freedom. This is always what I
17 Q. Did you support the ideas of the HDZ in 1990?
18 A. So far as I know, these were ideas shared by all patriots in
19 Bosnia-Herzegovina, not only the HDZ. I was -- I always supported all
20 those HDZ SDA and all the others who were for one an indivisible
22 Q. Did you support the creation of the Croatian Community of
23 Herceg-Bosna in 1991?
24 A. I wasn't involved in the creation of Herceg-Bosna, I was not in a
25 position to do so. I don't see who I am [as interpreted]. I see no
13 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the
14 French and English transcripts.
1 reason for this question.
2 Q. Did you support the creation of a separate Croat entity or state
3 on the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina which is what Herceg-Bosna was?
4 A. As far as I know, Herceg-Bosna was a community of Croat people.
5 This was its purpose. It was not a division of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and I
6 saw the documents issued by -- it was always that Bosnia-Herzegovina.
7 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Mr. Neimarevic, will you please
8 try to answer the question that was asked? Did you support Herceg-Bosna
9 or didn't you? You are not asked to explain to us what it is, but to
10 answer the question. Did you support the Herceg-Bosnian project or not?
11 A. The question, itself, is not very precise. I --
12 JUDGE MAY: Look, Mr. Neimarevic, you are an educated man. You
13 know what Herceg-Bosna was. Did you support its creation or not; yes or
14 no? It is a simple question.
15 A. It is simple, but also it is not simple.
16 JUDGE MAY: No, no. Yes or no.
17 A. Yes.
18 MS. SOMERS:
19 Q. Your answer or your comment in paragraph 7 of your summary talks
20 about pleading with the TO to join the HVO. You went to Krpeljici, a
21 neighbouring village in Guca Gora, to plead with the TO to join the HVO on
22 the front lines against the BSA on Mount Vlasic. Was that your role to
23 undertake a political military request?
24 A. This is nothing with political and military issues. We were
25 simply in a situation in fear that the front lines would be breached and
1 that we would be all killed. And out of fear that might happen together
2 with several people from our villages and other villages, I went to ask
3 for help, not only for them to go up there and fight, to help us evacuate
4 people. And so my goal was purely humanitarian, to help people in order
5 to prevent the worst from happening.
6 Q. Who asked you to do that?
7 A. Several people from Stradinici, the neighbouring village, and from
8 Guca Gora where I was the parish priest.
9 Q. And you indicate that, in the same paragraph, that the HVO
10 assisted the Muslims in Zenica by supplying them with arms. How do you
11 know that?
12 A. I know this very well because people talked about it. Those who
13 were involved in it, those who transported the weapons and those who were
14 arming both sides.
15 Q. Did you, yourself, see the HVO provide arms to the Muslims? With
16 your own eyes, did you see that?
17 A. No, I did not see it with my own eyes.
18 Q. Father, you indicated that human life was your greatest concern.
19 I would like to ask you about two documents, Z306.4 and Z306.5, both in
20 Croatian and in English.
21 First, looking at 306.4 if you have it, this is a document
22 dated -- it's a letter, a request under your name dated 8th of December,
23 1992 addressed to the HVO municipal government in Travnik. Do you
24 recognise this document?
25 A. Yes, I wrote this document.
1 Q. Now, the allegations of atrocities to which you referred in your
2 direct evidence were in June of 1993. This letter is at the end of 1992.
3 This letter is some six months after an agreement reached between the
4 Serbs and the Croats about ending their own hostilities.
5 Can you explain, please, what did you know, if anything, in
6 December 1992 that made you at that point want to move valuables from your
7 monastery to Zagreb. Did you have some information about coming events?
8 A. Your Honours should know the following: That the Guca Gora
9 monastery was an object of attacks several times at the end of World War
10 II, was only the latest of the incidents before this and, at that time,
11 everything was burned. Friar Blazevic was then the director of Caritas in
12 Split and through him, the -- a notice came that it would be very good
13 that all objects of art and other valuables from the monastery be moved so
14 that they would not be destroyed if anything happened.
15 At that time, we were under -- within the range of the Serbian
16 artillery so a shell could have reached the monastery and set it on fire.
17 There was no thinking at that time about the conflict between Croats and
18 Muslims. So in order to avert the tragedy such as happened in 1945, this
19 was done as a prevention.
20 Q. Why, at that point in time, when there was no conflict between the
21 Serbs and Croats? Why not earlier in 1991 or early 1992? When did you
22 get the request from Split?
23 A. Immediately before we asked for a truck, I received these
24 instructions from the provincial and this was my task.
25 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Neimarevic, you referred to or you refer to
1 yourself in this document as "the guardian". Was that the guardian of the
3 A. Yes.
4 JUDGE MAY: And what did that involve, that position?
5 A. The title implied that I was the head of seven parishes that were
6 part of the Franciscan system, that was Zenica, Ovcarevo, Guca Gora, and
7 four others and I was -- I organised work in these parishes, and I was
8 coordinating all the activities of all the parish priests and also among
9 the -- all the friars who were there in that area.
10 JUDGE MAY: Thank you.
11 MS. SOMERS:
12 Q. And Z306.5 indicates the response by Zeljko Pervan of the HVO to
13 your request providing driver, truck, et cetera. Were the items, in fact,
14 moved out?
15 A. These valuables were all transferred within several days.
16 Q. Can you describe what types of items, generically were moved out?
17 A. Mostly objects of art, paintings, old books, perhaps old
18 documents. Friar Franjo Krizanac, the current guardian, I think, has an
19 inventory of all the items that were moved out and eventually returned to
20 the Guca Gora monastery. We had to list everything that we were
21 transporting so that when we reached the border of Croatia, we would not
22 have any problems. Also we hoped that we would be able to bring them
23 back. So we wanted all these, thanks to the provincial and myself and
24 other things, and thank God they were all safely returned to the
1 Q. Just to confirm, at that time, your provincial was Fra Petar
2 Andzelovic at that time; is that correct?
3 A. Yes, that is correct.
4 Q. When did you first meet Dario Kordic?
5 A. I don't recall the date, but I believe I met him sometime when the
6 democratic changes started, perhaps a little bit after the first elections
7 we met, and it was just a regular meeting of two persons.
8 Q. And how often did you have contact with Dario Kordic from the
9 point when you first met him until the time -- actually until today?
10 A. Well, all in all, perhaps about ten times.
11 Q. Can you describe, please, the nature of the contact you had with
12 him? Were you his priest, his actual religious figure to whom he -- with
13 whom he had a religious relationship?
14 A. Dario was in Busovaca and I was at Guca Gora, and we met, we would
15 either -- happened to be in the same place; that is, we would go for a
16 visit or somewhere. It would be -- we would just see one another
17 unofficially or perhaps Dario came to the monastery once or twice, dropped
18 by with some friends. We also met at Nova Bila and perhaps once in
20 Q. Did Dario Kordic consult with you about how to make the territory
21 of Herceg-Bosna more Catholic?
22 A. That was not the subject of our conversations. We met like all
23 the other people; we just meet and talk about things that bother us
24 personally. So I could call it, quite honestly, a personal, a private
25 contact. And as for plans of any kind, you need to know that such plans,
1 even if they were drawn up somewhere, they were not our plans. And after
2 all, nobody asked us what to do.
3 Q. Would you explain, when you say "our" and "us," to whom are you
5 A. I mean myself. I mean other friars that I worked with.
6 MS. SOMERS: May I ask to recall Z321, please.
7 Q. Father, the Chamber has seen this document previously, but I
8 wonder if you could comment, please, on certain aspects of this order
9 which was issued by Dario Kordic and Ignac Kostroman on 16 December 1992,
10 shortly after you had the items moved from your monastery. In particular,
11 the notion of global Croatian policy. Were you informed about the
12 existence of global Croatian policy? Did that theme ever come up between
13 you and Mr. Kordic personally?
14 A. This is the first time I see that, so no.
15 Q. Do you know which one person was appointed? In paragraph 1, it
16 says: "To appoint one person to be in charge of cooperation with
17 religious communities of a true Catholic orientation, which will be
18 carrying out global Croatian policy." Do you know, in Travnik, who that
19 person would have been?
20 A. I really haven't the slightest. I don't know.
21 Q. The point in paragraph 3 about "the urgency of initiating a
22 large-scale operation for the erection and placing of religious symbols
23 and monuments (crosses and statues) in populated areas, at crossroads,
24 along roadsides, in shops, in order to revive the Catholic religion deeply
25 rooted in every Croat," were you consulted about this; and if not, if this
1 the first time you have learned about this, can you comment on the impact
2 this would have been on the non-Catholics who were living in a very mixed
3 municipality, Travnik?
4 A. This is the first time I see this, and I haven't even noticed that
5 any of this has come true. How we would respond? Well, I suppose there
6 could have been also some adverse reactions. Perhaps somebody may ask,
7 "Well, why here?" But I don't know. I mean, I can make guesses, at
8 best, what and how, but as I say, this is the first time I see this.
9 Q. Well, though we don't like to deal in guesses, you, as a religious
10 man who lived in a mixed municipality, what would be your guess about the
11 reaction, should this order have been implemented? How would the Muslims
12 and perhaps the Orthodox individuals have reacted?
13 A. This is a hypothetical question. I do believe there would have
14 been some adverse reactions, which is natural and logical. What kind of
15 reaction, I can't say that, because I don't have experience of that kind.
16 Q. Were you in Travnik on the 8th of April, 1993?
17 A. 8th of April, that is very close to Easter. I think I was in
18 Travnik. Whether it was that day, I don't know, because, you know, dates
19 with me ...
20 Q. Are you familiar with an incident that occurred in Travnik,
21 actually an incident involving some violence, that followed the removal of
22 Croatian flags in Travnik?
23 A. I wasn't in Travnik that day. I was before those incidents in
24 Travnik. So what happened, I heard about that afterwards from people who
25 were victimised in that incident. I learnt subsequently that there had
1 been a clash between the BH army and the HVO. I do not know if it is
2 true, but I heard that two members of the BH army were killed on that
3 occasion. And I've already said that the principal observer of the
4 European Union, who was in Travnik at that time, said the burning of
5 flags, the Muslim people would pay dearly, because it shouldn't have
6 happened, because that looked like an open introduction to the conflict.
7 Q. Two questions: Who was the monitor from the European Community,
8 if you know, if you remember?
9 A. I'm not very good with both names and dates, so I really don't
10 know what his name was. But I think it can be checked quite easily,
11 because you surely must have documents of the European Union and the
12 United Nations who will know who was there at that place, at that time,
13 what he saw, what he went through. And I presume he remembered what he
14 said, because I heard it from people who were victimised, who were
15 physically harassed, who suffered major trauma. You can ask about that,
16 if you wish, Anto Samilinic [phoen] or Friar Vujanovic. They were those
17 people who were met in Travnik and who were attacked.
18 Q. Then you personally did not hear a European Community monitor say
19 this. Someone told you a monitor said that; is that correct?
20 A. Yes, that's it.
21 Q. The second question concerns why there was a Croat flag, to begin
22 with, raised in Travnik, if you know, as it was part of Bosnia and
23 Herzegovina and there were a number, a significant number, of Muslims
24 living in Travnik. What was the purpose of the Croat flag? Did you see
25 any provocation in raising that flag?
13 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the
14 French and English transcripts.
1 A. One must distinguish between the Croatian flag, if you mean the
2 state, or the Croat people. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Croat people has a
3 flag which is different from the Croatian flag, the flag of the Republic
4 of Croatia. And in Travnik we did not -- people did not hoist the flag of
5 the State of Croatia but the flag of the Croat people in
6 Bosnia-Herzegovina. Just as the Muslims had their own emblems which were
7 also hoisted, so the Croats have their own, and I see nothing bad, nothing
8 terrible about it. Quite the contrary; not many people were bothered by
9 this, of course, if they were properly oriented. Because why should they
10 be bothered by somebody's sign or anything?
11 Q. If you can very briefly indicate the difference between the two
12 flags, that of the Croat people and that of Croatia, that you referred
13 to. If you can do it in just a few words, I'd be grateful.
14 A. Well, the flags are similar except that the flag of the Croat
15 people in Bosnia-Herzegovina has in the Croat coat of arms a mark which
16 dates back to the Middle Ages, whereas above the coat of arms on the
17 Croatian flag, there are coats of arms of districts in Croatia.
18 Q. And was there any inclusion -- excuse me. Strike that question.
19 Either flag did not contemplate the Muslims; is that correct? One was
20 either of the Croatian people or of the Croatian Republic, but neither
21 contemplated the Muslims as an ethnic group. Would that be fair to say?
22 A. I should add here: There were also Muslims who felt as Croats and
23 saw it as their own flag. But there were also those who [indiscernible]
24 Serbs, that is, Muslims, and perhaps they were not happy with that flag.
25 But then the question can be asked: And what was the -- how did the
1 Croats see Muslim emblems? That is also a possible question, so that I
2 don't know.
3 Q. In your outline you had one line that I didn't catch on your
4 testimony, the last line of 15, when you're discussing Dolac and fleeing
5 to the Guca Gora monastery. Your outline indicates some HVO soldiers also
6 took shelter in the monastery. Now, I didn't catch that in your
7 testimony. Is that true? Did some HVO soldiers also take shelter in the
8 Guca Gora monastery? It's the last sentence of your point 15 in the
9 summary which you yourself wrote.
10 A. That is not in Dolac. That was in Guca Gora, when Guca Gora
11 fell. And they found shelter. Because we had already left the monastery,
12 so they found shelter in the monastery; and UNPROFOR, which entered the
13 monastery, they ordered them to take off their military uniforms and to
14 wear civilian uniforms they took from us in the monastery so that they
15 could be transferred to Nova Bila, because otherwise they refused to
16 evacuate them. So I'm saying that they found shelter in the Guca Gora
17 monastery, and I do not know what happened at Dolac, whether any military
18 entered the church or not.
19 Q. In Guca Gora, before UNPROFOR was willing to remove these HVO
20 soldiers, did they also disarm them?
21 A. Yes, naturally. Since he wanted them to wear civilian clothes,
22 that means that he disarmed them.
23 Q. Moving toward the final points. In April of 1993, on the 16th,
24 there was a well-known incident at Ahmici. Are you familiar with the
25 incident at Ahmici?
1 A. As for my knowing about the incident, I really did not know
2 anything about the incident until I arrived at Nova Bila as a displaced
3 person, so that I really know nothing about the incident.
4 Q. And when was your arrival in Nova Bila as a displaced person?
5 A. 8th of June 1993, sometime around noon.
6 Q. And nothing at all was said in the Travnik municipality about what
7 happened in an almost neighbouring municipality of Vitez? You heard that
8 from no one?
9 A. I was practically completely encircled and we did not receive
10 information about what had happened in Ahmici, neither I nor my colleague
11 knew anything about that because nobody told us anything about that.
12 Q. Your last paragraph of your summary expresses your point of view
13 that the conflict between the Croats and the Muslims was over territorial
14 losses inflicted upon the Muslims by the Serbs. There has been a large
15 amount of -- a reasonable amount of testimony in this Court that it was
16 agreements between Croat and Serb leaders, be they Tudjman and Milosevic,
17 or Karadzic and Boban, as well as the creation of Herceg-Bosna that was
18 the source of the conflict.
19 Do you agree with those positions unrelated to Muslim losses but
20 having different roots?
21 A. As far as I know, the creation of Herceg-Bosna was not the
22 immediate cause for the conflict between Croats and Muslims. Herceg-Bosna
23 existed -- through the territory of Herceg-Bosna, convoys with medicines,
24 food and the rest went through for the population of the rest of Bosnia
25 but Muslim and Croat. The general conviction of people who witnessed all
1 those incidents and their conclusion is which I embraced is that it wasn't
2 only the Croats who spoke, even if they did speak about the partition of
3 Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbs and Muslims equally spoke about that.
4 So that one cannot accuse any one people of being the only one
5 aspiring to the partitioning of Bosnia-Herzegovina. And I do not see and
6 personally think, as I said in a part of my statement, that the large
7 number of refugees arrived in Central Bosnia and that the ethnic balance
8 was disrupted, and that that could have been one of the chief reasons or
9 causes for the division or rather the conflict between the Croats and
10 Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Because you must know that at the
11 beginning, we watched with sympathy the arrival of soldiers of
12 Bosnia-Herzegovina who fought together around Kotor Varos and so on and
13 that they would join in the Croats in the defence of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
14 Unfortunately, this did not prove true.
15 Also, I was being assured by my Muslim friends that the Mujahedin
16 had come basically to face the Serb army, that is, to go to defend Central
17 Bosnia and so on so forth, to go to the front line there. But then again,
18 this was not true as it turned out, and I am really sorry that it did not
20 Q. And if I understand correctly, your position is that the Muslims
21 essentially or the army of BiH did not join the Croats in defending the
22 territory of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina; is that correct?
23 A. To begin with, even those who rose to defend Bosnia-Herzegovina,
24 and they were the Croats, those who established the HVO. After that, the
25 army of Bosnian -- no, rather the TO was first formed or before that there
1 was another military formation, no, I don't know what it was called. Then
2 TO, and then the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina. And in the beginning, from
3 what one could still see on television or hear on the radio, both armies
4 were lawful and they were to protect Bosnia-Herzegovina.
5 However, since the political negotiations conducted later on also
6 gave rise to some other issues within the community and also practically
7 the loss of power in Bosnia-Herzegovina, all gradually resulted in the
8 growing lack of -- the growing mistrust in -- among the troops and the
9 situation there. That is how I see it.
10 MS. SOMERS: No further questions, thank you.
11 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Your Honours, very briefly.
12 Re-examined by Mr. Naumovski:
13 Q. Mr. Neimarevic, you were asked about a number of questions
14 concerning the church and so on and so forth. So my question is: Did you
15 come here to testify about what you experienced in the municipality of
16 Travnik or for some other reason?
17 A. Well, why I came here was to present what I saw as a witness to
18 those events, what I went through, what I heard. That is, in a word to
19 portray the situation that we were living in during those events, that is,
20 before, during and immediately after the conflict.
21 Q. I have before me the Exhibit Z1465.7 that was the questionnaire
22 that you filled and in this questionnaire, I guess you expressed your
23 readiness to testify if you were invited to do so, and it says explicitly
24 in item 13 where you say explicitly that you are ready to make a statement
25 to the Tribunal; is that correct?
1 A. It is.
2 Q. And did anyone from the Tribunal communicate with you on the basis
3 following the questionnaire that you filled in?
4 A. No.
5 Q. Thank you. The other two documents that were shown are Z306.4 and
6 306.5, having to do with the transportation of the objects of value from
7 the your monastery, but the Prosecutor laid out a wrong context because
8 she persisted in a mistake, and I will now redress that. Will you agree
9 with me that in November, the town of Jajce fell after fierce fighting,
10 that is, in November 1992?
11 A. Yes, the town of Jajce fell.
12 Q. And after Jajce fell, did the Serb troops, that is, the JNA and
13 the army of Bosnian Serbs, did they continue with fierce fighting
14 advancing on Travnik?
15 A. Yes, there was fierce fighting on Vlasic, in Goles, shells were
16 falling all -- over all the parts of the Lasva Valley; Travnik, Turbe, all
17 of the parish of Ovcarevo, then Vitez, Zenica, Busovaca, that is,
18 everything was already involved in fighting.
19 Q. Right. So at the time when you wrote this application, this
20 request to be allowed to move those valuables, and that was December 1992,
21 where -- was the fierce fighting going on at the time or as the Prosecutor
22 said, there had been a truce for six months between Serbs on one side and
23 Croats and Muslims on the other?
24 A. No, there was no truce. There were some lulls from time to time,
25 I don't know why. Perhaps they were moving their forces perhaps to some
1 other areas or what, I don't know that, but what happened then was that
2 we, that is my provincial, concluded that it would be wise to remove those
3 valuables, and had to be done a few months before that or a year before
4 that, I would have done the same thing.
5 Q. Yes, very well, we are talking about that context. Let us
6 conclude. Was that a time of violent attacks of the army of Bosnian Serbs
7 on the municipality of Travnik?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. There was also talk about the flag of the Croat people and you
10 explained that it was a historical coat of arms. No, the question was
11 whether the Croatian flag, the Croat flag with this historical coat of
12 arms includes Muslims and you answered yes. Now, my question is: Was the
13 flag that was used by Muslims also include Croat symbols and Croats?
14 A. The Muslim or the Croat flag?
15 Q. The Muslim flag.
16 A. No, naturally, except their own people.
17 Q. Very well, thank you. So it is not an issue then, the Court has
18 already heard that everybody used their own flag; that is, every people
19 had their own historical flag; is that so?
20 A. Yes, it is.
21 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] That would be all, thank you, Mr.
22 Neimarevic. Thank you, Your Honours.
23 JUDGE MAY: That will be a convenient moment.
24 Mr. Neimarevic, thank you for coming to the International Tribunal
25 to give your evidence. It's now concluded and you are free to go.
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours.
2 JUDGE MAY: We'll adjourn now until the usual time, half past
4 [The witness withdrew]
5 --- Luncheon recess taken at 1.03 p.m.
13 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the
14 French and English transcripts.
1 --- On resuming at 2.33 p.m.
2 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Mr. Nice.
3 MR. NICE: Just before the next two witnesses are called, each of
4 them bearing the same surname but the first one being the young woman, a
5 couple of things about them.
6 The young woman witness, who apparently is 70 per cent disabled,
7 was originally listed for the end of the week and we'd been going to raise
8 a position about her yesterday had we not then been told that she was
9 accelerated up the list. Her evidence is of, at most, limited or
10 tangential relevance, it may be thought, but of course in accordance with
11 my usual policy, where the Defence want to adduce evidence of what Muslims
12 have done to Croats, I don't seek to object to it myself, in fear of it
13 being suggested that we're to be in some way partisan, which of course
14 we're not. So it's a matter for the Chamber whether it's got any
15 evidential value. But more concerning -- I'm probably going too fast.
16 More concerning is the fact that the statement is the sort that I would
17 probably have been in a position to agree had it been served earlier, and
18 her entire attendance here could have been avoided.
19 The position is that the incident of which she speaks is listed
20 for inquiry in the Tribunal. There's no English language material
21 available to me at the moment confirming her account. There is some
22 material yet to be translated. And indeed, she is listed, on the basis of
23 that material, as a potential witness, so that both the incident itself
24 and she, as a potential witness, will be dealt with in due course.
25 That, I think, makes the last paragraph of this summary, which
1 reflects something that was touched on by the last witness as well,
2 unfortunate. I don't know where the idea for these paragraphs come from.
3 There's plainly the suggestion that in some way the Prosecutor's office
4 has failed in failing to contact this young woman, and it's unfair to
5 raise that. I'm not concerned about the unfairness that it raises with
6 the Tribunal, because I can always put that right. But if, in the young
7 and handicapped woman, the idea is fostered that in some way there's been
8 an intentional overlooking of her concerns and her history, it's quite
9 wrong and it's unwise to do this.
10 So I almost certainly won't challenge her evidence if the Chamber
11 decides that it's admissible and likely to help it. I probably won't ask
12 her any questions, and I can only regret that she will have been compelled
13 to come here despite her handicap. The Chamber will recall that I raised
14 with the Defence in our case the business of agreeing witness statements
15 and I invited them to agree all witness statements. Of course, none was
16 agreed. Wherever, as a consequence, we had to call evidence from people
17 who had terrible stories to tell, we dealt with them as compactly as we
18 possibly could, because it can't be good simply to trawl over these awful
19 events when it's avoidable.
20 As to the second witness, the man, because of the reordering of
21 witnesses this week, I won't be in a position, I'm afraid, properly to
22 cross-examine him or really to cross-examine him at all this week. It may
23 be that overall the evidence will just about reach till 4.00, but if it
24 falls by any degree short, I would ask your indulgence to allow me to
25 cross-examine him tomorrow.
1 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Mr. Sayers. What is said here is the witness,
2 first witness, could have been agreed.
3 MR. SAYERS: Perhaps so, Your Honour, but the witness that we're
4 talking about, Ms. Marijana Vidovic, did not arrive until Friday, and we
5 had this reviewed, checked, this statement that she signed, reviewed,
6 checked, and supplied to the Prosecution as soon as it was available. So
7 I don't know what more we could have done.
8 JUDGE MAY: Possibly got a statement from her in Bosnia, got the
9 statement there rather than having it --
10 MR. SAYERS: All things are possible, Mr. President. Possibly we
11 could have, but the point is we --
12 JUDGE MAY: No. Look, before you call a witness -- I'm surprised
13 at the practice here. It seems to be that people don't get statements
14 from the witness in the locality which they're in. But perhaps in future,
15 if you have a witness like this -- of course, we're coming to the end of
16 your case, but if you did, if you got a statement in Bosnia, you could
17 have served it on the Prosecution and they could have agreed to it.
18 That's what we have in mind.
19 MR. SAYERS: Yes, Mr. President, but we did not have a statement
20 from the witness other than an oral statement. She had been interviewed
21 by Mr. Naumovski, not by any of us. But I will point out, Your Honour,
22 that we did provide a summary of the anticipated testimony of this witness
23 back in March, so there's no surprise; the Prosecution has known precisely
24 what this witness was going to say. And this witness does address some
25 matters of relevance that were raised by the Prosecution during their
1 case. I recall Witness Z and Colonel Williams gave testimony about the
2 events that she covers.
3 [Trial Chamber confers]
4 JUDGE MAY: Well, I say this so that it's clear that in normal
5 litigation, statements are taken from witnesses and, if necessary,
6 disclosed to the other side. I do not see why that is not possible to
7 follow that practice in this Tribunal, particularly to save the attendance
8 of a witness, a disabled witness, we are told, and also, of course, the
9 costs. So I advise the parties, all parties, that that is a practice that
10 should normally be followed. We've considered the position but since the
11 witness is here, we will hear her. But in future, if there are any other
12 witnesses like this, the statement should be taken earlier.
13 [The witness entered court]
14 JUDGE MAY: Yes, let the witness take the declaration.
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
16 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
17 JUDGE MAY: Yes, take a seat.
18 WITNESS: MARIJANA VIDOVIC
19 [Witness answered through interpreter]
20 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Mr. Sayers.
21 MR. SAYERS: Thank you, Mr. President.
22 Examined by Mr. Sayers:
23 Q. Good afternoon, Ms. Vidovic. Could you state your full name for
24 the Court, please?
25 A. My name is Marijana Vidovic.
1 Q. Ms. Vidovic, I'm going to take you fairly quickly through the
2 subject matter covered in the outline that you signed on the 2nd of July.
3 You were born on February 2nd, 1981 in Zenica, I believe?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. You are a Bosnian Croat by ethnicity and by nationality a citizen
6 of Bosnia-Herzegovina?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. I believe that you went to elementary school in Vitez and in June
9 of 1999, last year, you graduated from secondary school in Vitez having
10 specialised in the subjects of economy and trade?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. But you received part of your secondary education while you were
13 staying in Split which is in the Republic of Croatia for purposes of
14 receiving medical treatment as well?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. And I believe that since December of last year, you've been
17 employed by the guard brigade at the HVO Draga Barracks in Busovaca and
18 that you now work there as a member of the support staff in the 3rd
19 Division of the army of the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina in Vitez?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. In September of 1993, Ms. Vidovic, I believe that you lived in a
22 small hamlet called Buhine Kuce along with your parents, Dragan and Ana
23 Vidovic, your older brother, Nedjeljko, and your younger brother Branislav
24 and also your grandparents lived with you?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. How many houses were there in Buhine Kuce, approximately?
2 A. About 40 houses.
3 Q. And what was the -- how many were owned by Croats and how many by
5 A. 30 houses owned by Croats and 10 owned by Muslims.
6 Q. All right. In paragraphs four and five of your outline,
7 Ms. Vidovic, you describe an incident that occurred on September 9, 1993,
8 when your 14-year-old brother, Nedjeljko, was wounded outside of your
9 house by a Muslim sniper. Could you just tell the Court about that
10 incident in your own words, please?
11 A. Nedjeljko came out in front of the family house and a sniper from
12 Sivrino Selo shot him in the stomach.
13 Q. Were there many such sniping incidents in your village?
14 A. Yes, there were.
15 Q. Is it accurate to say that Muslim snipers from Sivrino Selo
16 operated daily during the civil war between the Muslims and the Croats in
17 your area from April of 1993 to April of 1994?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. How many people in your village were wounded or killed by this
20 sniper fire?
21 A. Those who were killed were killed in 1994, about 15 civilians all
22 together, wounded and shot dead.
23 Q. Three people killed by snipers included Mirko Samija, Magdalena
24 Pranjkovic and Marko Buhic?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. In your outline you describe the treatment that your brother
2 received, and I don't believe that it's necessary to go into that unless
3 the Prosecution wants to ask you some questions about that. Let me turn,
4 Ms. Vidovic, if I may, to the attack on Buhine Kuce on January 9, 1994. I
5 believe that you were 12 years old at that time; is that right?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Did any of the -- or as far as you are aware, were there any
8 weapons in your house just prior to this attack?
9 A. No, there were none.
10 Q. All right. I think you've already identified the people that were
11 staying in your house, but could you tell the Court what happened in the
12 early morning hours of January 9, 1994, please.
13 A. On 9 January, 1994, around 4.20 a.m., the Muslims burst into the
14 Buhine Kuce and they killed my dad, my mother and they also wounded me and
15 my younger brother Branislav.
16 Q. Did the attackers who launched the assault on your village yell
17 anything that you could hear?
18 A. Yes. When the gunfire started, my father first got out and he got
19 killed. Then my mother and my younger brother came out. My mother was
20 killed. I saw this -- I was about a metre or so away. There were
21 Mujahedins among them. There were -- some others wore berets and had
22 stockings over their head.
23 I crossed the road with my younger brother and they trained their
24 weapons at me. When they saw that I was wounded, they let us go. Then we
25 went past Impregnacija, and we went to UNPROFOR. I asked UNPROFOR soldier
1 to help us, and when he trained his weapon at me, I moved on. Later on,
2 there was a man who we flagged him down, he picked us up and he took us
3 with him, and from there I was transferred to the hospital and I stayed
4 there for several days.
5 Q. All right. So in -- is it true that in March of 1994, the bodies
6 of your parents, uncle, cousin and of Ankica Grbavac and Mirko Safradin
7 were found buried under snow next to a Muslim house?
8 A. Yes. They were killed on 9 January, and after we were transferred
9 to Split 15 days later, we never had a burial, and only months later they
10 were discovered on the snow, and after that they were properly buried.
11 MR. SAYERS: Mr. President, we have a 15-second video that we
12 happened to come across by chance which, I believe, involves Ms. Vidovic.
13 She can identify some of the figures in there, and with the Court's
14 permission, we'd like to show it. And we have a transcript of the
15 Croatian subtitles and the video and the text of the video is actually in
17 And with the permission of the technical booth, I'd just like to
18 ask them to stop the tape at a couple of points so that Ms. Vidovic can
19 identify figures shown in it.
20 [Videotape played]
21 THE INTERPRETER [Voiceover] ... thwarted by heavy artillery aiming
22 at [inaudible] by Muslim troops and offensives taking place and it is
23 being supported by heavy artillery.
24 MR. SAYERS: Could you just rewind it a couple of feet, please.
25 Thank you.
13 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the
14 French and English transcripts.
1 A. This here is my mother in red, this is by my house.
2 Q. There are two figures there, ma'am, and you are pointing to the
3 right figure, the figure on the right? The figure in red?
4 A. Yes, yes, wearing red clothes.
5 THE INTERPRETER: [Voiceover] They were probably trying to flee.
6 The number of dead is unknown but at least 30 wounded were in hospital
7 among children, the blue helmets deployed in the area did what they could
8 in order to help the Croatian civilians who are victims of the Muslims
10 MR. SAYERS:
11 Q. The videotape showed a hospital ward, ma'am, did you recognise any
12 of the figures in the hospital ward?
13 A. Yes. In the hospital it was my younger brother and I were in Nova
14 Bila in the hospital.
15 Q. Just going to the last page of your outline, Ms. Vidovic. It's
16 the case that in the ABiH attack on January 9th, 1994, that you lost your
17 father, mother, your uncle Mirko, and your cousin Drazen; is that correct?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. And is it also accurate to say that everybody who lived in Buhine
20 Kuce was killed that day except your brother Branislav, you, and a man
21 named Anto Grbavac; his wife and 2-year-old child had earlier been killed
22 by ABiH troops?
23 A. Yes. Only we were all wounded, Anto and I both in the arm, and my
24 younger brother Branislav, and we are the only ones who survived that
25 day. Everybody who remained back there was killed that day.
1 Q. I think you've already stated, ma'am, that a total of 15 civilians
2 were killed that morning in your village.
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. All right. Paragraph 12 of your outline describes the medical
5 treatment that you received. I don't think that it's necessary to go into
6 it in any great detail, but it's accurate to say that you've had six
7 operations on your right arm and shoulder in total, in three countries:
8 Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and finally Germany?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. And you've been rated with a 70 per cent disability as a result of
11 the injuries, the gunshot wounds that you suffered on June [sic] 9th,
12 1994; is that right?
13 A. Yes.
14 MR. SAYERS: Thank you very much. No further questions.
15 Could we have a number for the videotape, please.
16 THE REGISTRAR: The number of the video is Exhibit D294A/1. The
17 number of the transcript is 294A/1.
18 MR. SAYERS: Just to correct one error in the transcript, Your
19 Honour. At line 16 of page 72, the month "June" should read "January,"
20 January 9th, 1994.
21 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Kovacic.
22 MR. KOVACIC: Thank you, sir. No, we don't have any questions.
23 Cross-examined by Mr. Nice:
24 Q. Ms. Vidovic, I only have a couple of questions, and nothing of any
25 substance. First, the little bit of film that we've seen, we've got a
1 transcript of what apparently was on the film, although the transcript
2 didn't come out very clearly. But according to what we've been provided,
3 the bit of film ended with the phrase, "British UNPROFOR troops in this
4 region have done all they can to save the Croat people who are the victims
5 of the Muslims." It's a long time ago, but do you remember if that's
6 right, that the British UNPROFOR troops did all they could?
7 A. I know that on the morning when my parents were killed, that they
8 were nearby, and they could have come and they could have stopped them
9 from killing them. This videotape was made later, after they had been
10 shot; that is, they passed by afterwards, because this is -- this was shot
11 after they had been killed.
12 Q. All right. May I explain the position to you so that you can
13 understand. But before I do, just this: When did you see Mr. Naumovski,
14 the lawyer? How long ago?
15 A. In December 1999.
16 Q. Thank you. And did he provide you with a draft copy of the
17 summary that's been provided to us, signed on the 2nd of July?
18 A. Yes. This was signed on 2nd July and I have it with me. I also
19 signed it.
20 Q. Had he before the 2nd of July sent you a draft summary?
21 A. No. I signed it there and it was drafted here, after I arrived in
22 The Hague.
23 Q. I think it was already drafted before you arrived in The Hague,
24 wasn't it, and it was waiting for your signature when you got here?
25 A. No. I told the attorney what had happened and then we put it
1 together; we drafted it together. And then after it was drafted, I signed
3 Q. It's a tiny point, but we were provided with a document which I
4 think shows that your draft was already prepared before you arrived. Is
5 that not possible?
6 A. I arrived and we went through it together. I told him
7 everything. Then they had it translated in the English language, in the
8 Croatian language. I read it through and signed it. But I said all of
9 this. They did not write it without me.
10 Q. And whose idea was it to put in the last paragraph that reads as
11 follows: "Despite the dreadful things that happened to my family and to
12 me, no one from the Prosecutor's office has ever contacted or spoken to
13 me"? Whose idea was that?
14 A. Well, I had been here before, and I told about the situation and
15 what happened to my parents. But afterwards nobody responded. Nobody was
16 brought to answer for that.
17 Q. When were you here before?
18 A. I don't know the exact date, but this was less than two years ago
19 that I came to testify.
20 Q. And was this for a defendant in a particular case?
21 A. Yes. I testified for General Blaskic.
22 Q. Do you remember if you gave testimony in what's called closed
23 session, with the blinds pulled?
24 A. I don't know that. I cannot answer what I don't know. It was
25 also in a courtroom, but ...
1 MR. NICE: Well, I can help you to this extent, if it does help
2 you, that the incident at your village is indeed the subject of an inquiry
3 and you are indeed listed as a potential witness. And so if you want
4 contact numbers of the people who would be interested in making contact
5 with you in due course to be a witness, I can provide those for you, if
6 that would help.
7 Nothing else. Thank you.
8 [Trial Chamber confers]
9 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Nice, it may be helpful to the witness for
10 somebody from your side to speak to her to explain the position.
11 MR. NICE: Indeed. And Your Honour will understand how I'm taken
12 by surprise by what she says. It's only explicable if indeed what I
13 suggested actually happened. But yes, we'll speak to her.
14 MR. SAYERS: No redirect, Your Honour, and no objection to the
15 Prosecution speaking with the witness, obviously.
16 JUDGE MAY: Ms. Vidovic, that concludes your evidence. Thank you
17 for coming to the International Tribunal to give it. Now, somebody from
18 the Prosecutor's, if you would like to speak to them, will explain to you
19 the position about the inquiry that they're making about these events.
20 Perhaps you would like to have a word with them afterwards. You're free
21 to go.
22 [The witness withdrew]
23 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Mr. Naumovski.
24 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours. Before
25 the witness comes in, I should like to say that we ran into some
1 difficulties this week too, and now we're in a position to communicate
2 that our next witness, Mr. Pavao Vidovic, who is here in the Court, and I
3 believe he will be here presently.
4 The next witness will be Mr. Ivo Vilusic, who arrived late last
5 night, but I think he will be ready to testify tomorrow morning. After
6 him, Mr. Kresimir Bozic will follow suit, and then Tvrtko Jelic as the
7 last witness this week.
8 Unfortunately, I must say that a witness who's been on our list
9 for the past fortnight again had some problems, so that the application
10 for his visa was submitted only today, which means that he won't be able
11 to arrive this week; however, we were assured that he would arrive and be
12 ready on Monday.
13 So this would entail a change in our list for next week. However,
14 I'm not quite sure whether I should give this name loudly in an open
15 session. If we could, I'd like to go into private session for a moment,
16 just to give you the names.
17 [Private session]
21 [The witness entered court]
22 [Open session]
23 JUDGE MAY: Yes. Let the witness take the declaration.
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
25 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
1 WITNESS: PAVAO VIDOVIC
2 [Witness answered through interpreter]
3 JUDGE MAY: If you'd like to take a seat.
4 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Mr. Naumovski.
5 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours.
6 Examined by Mr. Naumovski:
7 Q. Mr. Vidovic, will you please tell the Court your name?
8 A. My name is Pavao Vidovic.
9 Q. Very well, let us briefly cover your particulars. You were born
10 on the 22nd of October 1941 in the village of Radosevic, municipality of
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. I have to ask you, Mr. Vidovic, to pause briefly after my
14 question, until my questions are interpreted into the working languages of
15 the Tribunal. You are a Croat by ethnicity and you are a citizen of
16 Bosnia-Herzegovina; is that so?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. You are married and a father of three?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Mr. Vidovic, you graduated from the faculty of architecture in
21 Sarajevo and you spent your life working as an architect.
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. In 1990, in the early days of the multiparty system in the former
24 Yugoslavia, you became a member of a local branch of the HDZ of
25 Bosnia-Herzegovina in Vares?
13 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the
14 French and English transcripts.
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. In those first democratic elections which took place in November,
3 1990, you were elected a councilman, that is a member of parliament, to
4 put it in different words, in the municipal hall of Vares?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. From spring 1992 until October or rather late October and early
7 November, 1993 when you left Vares, you served as the vice-president of
8 the Croat Defence Council in Vares?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. At first in 1992, you were responsible for the food supplies in
11 the municipality but in 1993, you were made responsible for communications
12 in the Vares enclave, if I may call it that way.
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. You -- Mr. Vidovic, left Vares with a majority of other Croats in
15 that municipality between the 2nd and 3rd of November, 1993?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Basically you were forced to leave your town and your
18 municipality; why was that?
19 A. Because of the attack of the BH army units on the municipality of
21 Q. First, with some of your neighbours, with other Vares townsmen,
22 you went to the village of Dastansko, but on the 14th of December, 1993,
23 you went to Kiseljak and became a refugee, that is an expellee in
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. And as such, you stayed in Kiseljak until the 7th of July, 1998
2 when -- well, you returned to your native town, to Vares?
3 A. Yes, I returned to Vares on that date because on that date, I was
4 once again accorded my pre-war place of residence.
5 Q. And while you lived in exile in Kiseljak on the 29th of December,
6 1993, you were appointed deputy mayor of the municipality of Vares in
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. And in 1996, so while still in exile, you were elected the
10 president of the Vares branch of the HDZ of Bosnia-Herzegovina?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. And to round this off, until a few days ago, Mr. Vidovic, you were
13 the head of the municipality of Vares, that is, you and the Muslim
14 colleague rotated in that office every five months?
15 A. Yes, over the past two and a half years.
16 Q. Thank you. Now, a few questions only about the situation in Vares
17 prior to July 1992. Let me just tell you that the Court has already had
18 opportunity of hearing certain facts about Vares but tell us, please,
19 according to the census of 1991, could you tell the Court what was the
20 percentage of Croats, Muslims and Serbs in your municipality?
21 A. In the municipality of Vares, the population was 22.203 and of
22 them, 40.1 -- 40.1 per cent were Croats, 30 per cent were Muslims, 17
23 [Realtime transcript read in error"70"] per cent were Serbs and the rest
24 were others.
25 Q. 17 per cent of Serbs, the transcript says 70. 17, did you say?
1 A. Yes, 17.
2 Q. Not counting --
3 A. Yes, yes, we don't count those others, that is 16.5.
4 Q. Very well, we can talk in approximate figures. But tell us,
5 please, about the situation in the town of Vares, which was an industrial
6 town, there was members of all ethnic groups, there was a multiethnic town
7 we could say?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. However, the villages were completely separated, there were
10 Muslim, Croat or Serb villages?
11 A. Yes, because the northern part was populated by Croats, the
12 eastern part by Serbs, and the southern part by Muslims.
13 Q. While we are on the subject of Vares, after the first elections in
14 1991, an interesting situation developed. That was perhaps the only
15 municipality in Bosnia where the Social Democratic Party, SDP won because
16 they won the majority of the elections, was that so?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. But tell us, please, in the former Yugoslavia, Vares was an
19 important industrial centre yet in 1991 and 1992, Vares was going through
20 a major economic crisis; is that true?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. And that had to do with the heavy industry which you had in that
23 area in the town of Vares?
24 A. The industrial structure in the town of Vares was such that it
25 practically provided raw materials, production materials for other
1 neighbouring processing, manufacturing industries. That is, we had iron
2 mines, forestry, forest logging. We had the three mines before the war or
3 mines in three places, and there was another zinc and lead mine. But as
4 it was all part of large businesses and large companies in the former
5 Yugoslavia, when Yugoslavia began to fall apart, those large companies
6 began also to burst at the seams so that the Vares economy lost all its
8 Q. Very well, thank you. Just a general picture, we do not really
9 have to give too many details about this. Tell us, please, winter 1991,
10 1992, did it basically become very hard for you inhabitants of Vares
11 because of the collapse of heavy industry that you had?
12 A. I can say that in early -- no, in late 1990, hardship began to be
13 felt, hard days began on Vares. And in the end of 1991 there was nothing,
14 shops closed down because they simply had nothing to sell so that at that
15 time already, through HDZ and the government of Bosnia-Herzegovina we
16 began to receive aid in food so that the population could somehow survive
17 the winter of 1991, 1992.
18 We received this aid mostly from the Republic of Croatia or more
19 specifically Slavonski Brod where we had some acquaintances before from
20 Metkovic and Split, and also from municipalities in Bosnia-Herzegovina
21 which had the Croat majority.
22 Q. And this food which was arriving in the town of Vares, was it
23 distributed or was it food for Croats only?
24 A. We distributed food to everybody who was in need. We had lists of
25 needy families of Serbs, Croats and Muslims, that is, so that at that
1 time, nobody was ethnically isolated insofar as food relief was
2 concerned. That is, we distributed food to everybody who could not
3 provide for his family through their regular salaries.
4 Q. And when, in April 1992, open hostilities broke out, that is, when
5 the JNA and the army of Bosnian Serbs attacked both Croats and Muslims,
6 you set up a joint command in Vares, a town command. When I say "joint",
7 I mean Muslims and Croats?
8 A. Yes. We set up a joint Crisis Staff and began to organise defence
9 and to that end, we set up the joint staff which brought together mostly
10 members of the formal Territorial Defence both of Croat and Muslim
12 Q. And the commander of a the joint command was a Croat?
13 A. Yes, it was a Croat, Borivoj Malbasic.
14 Q. At that time, you know and you indicated in paragraph 10 that the
15 army of Bosnian Serbs was getting weapons even by helicopter and you began
16 to be rather isolated from the rest of Bosnia-Herzegovina, I mean Vares as
17 a municipality?
18 A. Because of the location of the town of Vares and the municipality
19 which is, insofar as communications are concerned, has always been rather
20 isolated when the Pavlovobi [phoen] road was cut off, we were practically
21 cut off completely from the rest of the world, and that was why in 1992,
22 we made a new road from Breza to Visoko and by this road, we established
23 communication with other parts of the state.
24 Q. Thank you. We can move on to paragraph 11, Your Honours. Tell
25 us, please, Mr. Vidovic, what was the situation in the town and the
1 municipality of Vares in late June 1993 insofar as food supplies are
2 concerned, economy, and so on and so forth?
3 A. You mean 1992 or 1993?
4 Q. 1993. 1992, I apologise.
5 A. Food supplies in 1992 were really very poor, and it did not much
6 happen in comparison with the end of 1991 and we had -- we were compelled
7 to organise humanitarian convoys and to go to Croatia and Herzegovina in
8 search of food.
9 Q. Were shops opened, did schools work?
10 A. The school year 1991-1992 ended early, but it was nevertheless
11 brought to an end. Shops were closed so that people were in very dire
12 straits indeed.
13 Q. Would you tell the Court if the then local government did anything
14 to redress the situation or did they remain inactive?
15 A. In the municipal council or the municipal assembly, as it was
16 called officially then, we tried to do something to improve the situation,
17 but because of the structure of government and the SDP majority, we made
18 very little progress.
19 Q. Did you talk to SDP members to redress the situation? Did you
20 discuss it with them what to do in order to improve it?
21 A. No, we heard, yes, negotiation with SDP both interparty and in the
22 parliament and the executive government was -- also included
23 representatives of different parties and this executive council, the
24 government was also trying to solve the problem; however, as I say,
25 because of the lack of understanding, rather, inaction of the SDP, the
1 situation did not much improve in spring 1992.
2 Q. And tell us, please, if the Party for Democratic Action, the Vares
3 branch supported the requests of you, of other councilmen in the municipal
4 parliament in those negotiations with the SDP?
5 A. All the opposition parties supported those requests. Since the
6 Party for Democratic Action ranked third in terms of the number of seats,
7 they were trying together with us to resolve the matter, and we were also
8 supported by the reformist party which was also represented on the
9 municipal hall with several councilmen so that we had a relatively strong
10 block which was requesting, demanding to change the situation.
11 Q. And one last question about this, those misunderstanding, lack of
12 understanding with the SDP, that is the ruling party, the party with the
13 majority and you in the opposition, and so that on the 26th of April 1992,
14 the last session of the municipal assembly took place before the war.
15 A. Yes, on that date, the last -- the municipal assembly sat for the
16 last time because after that, the president of the assembly did not
17 convene any new session. The reason for this was that at that moment, if
18 I may put it that way, one SDP councilman attacked us, the attack was
19 ethnically based.
20 Q. Excuse me for butting in, but one does not have to go into all
21 this detail. So, on the 26th of March, on the 26th of March, 1992, the
22 assembly met for the last time?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. And at that time, you began negotiations with the Party for
25 Democratic Action in order to somehow revert the situation?
1 A. Yes, with the representatives of the Party for Democratic Action,
2 we tried to organise government together so as to bring about some
3 improvement in the situation both in the town and the municipality.
4 Q. And you agreed on certain things, I suppose you must have agreed
5 that had to be changed because they had become unbearable?
6 A. We always agreed while we worked that the situation had to be
7 reversed and that this was, say, a joint view, a joint position that the
8 situation, such as it was, was simply untenable and because the
9 inhabitants of the municipality of Vares were on the brink of famine. And
10 in discussing this matter with the representatives of the SDA, that was
11 the position, the view we shared.
12 Q. And could you also agree on how to organise the new government, I
13 mean the negotiations between you and the Party for Democratic Action?
14 A. When the negotiations started, we also agreed about the
15 distribution, say, of offices. But we could not reach an agreement on how
16 to -- how things should proceed further, because representatives of the
17 Party for Democratic Action, that is, Muslims, were demanding to remove
18 the Croatian flag from the municipal hall, which was there together with
19 the flag with the lilies, which the Muslims had embraced as their own.
20 In that case, or rather after that, when they refused to
21 participate in the government, we said: Would they mind if we, as the
22 Croat Democratic Union, with other members who would go along, or rather
23 with other citizens who would go along, would they mind if we organised
24 government in Vares, governed by different principles? And they said they
25 would not mind and that they would not obstruct this. And when this
13 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the
14 French and English transcripts.
1 happened, on the 1st of July, 1992, there were absolutely no incidents.
2 It all went on smoothly. There were no problems whatsoever.
3 Q. So if I understand you well, Mr. Vidovic, on the 1st of July,
4 1992, the HVO organised, if I may put it that way, the government in the
5 municipality of Vares, with the consent of the SDA branch in Vares?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. However, they did not want to send their own representatives to
8 take part in this government; is that correct?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Could you please tell the Trial Chamber: When the HVO took over
11 the organisation of government, was anybody dismissed in any of the local
12 government bodies in the local government in Vares?
13 A. All employees of the Vares local government who worked in the
14 administration stayed in their jobs except for those who refused to
15 continue to come to work. We did not ask anyone to sign any statement of
16 loyalty. We left it to them to decide whether they wanted to stay in
17 their jobs or not.
18 Q. Regardless of the fact that the SDA members were not willing to
19 participate in the government, were those Muslims who were not SDA members
20 in certain positions of responsibility in this new HVO government?
21 A. Yes. The Muslims who were part of the HVO government were placed
22 in charge of three, I believe, very significant duties: education,
23 civilian protection, and health care. They all agreed to participate in
24 the HVO government.
25 Q. Could you please tell the names of these Muslims to the Trial
2 A. Ms. Mufida Dzindo was in charge of education, Mr. Rusmir
3 Berberovic was responsible for civil defence and refugees, and Mr. Edhem
4 Ascerija was in charge of social security and health.
5 Q. Perhaps I could have asked you this earlier in terms of the time
6 line, but were there any negative responses, reactions, from the local
7 citizens when the government changed?
8 A. We had no negative reactions to our decisions, because at that
9 time people thought, and the position was, that only -- that we could only
10 receive assistance from the HZ HB in food, textbooks, medicine, and other
11 supplies necessary for maintaining normal living conditions.
12 Q. Can you please tell the Trial Chamber whether this relatively good
13 relationship among the citizens of Vares, predominantly between Croats and
14 Muslims, changed after the HVO took over control. How did it change?
15 A. It improved -- the living conditions improved because we
16 immediately started organising convoys which were bringing in to Vares
17 various supplies, the stores reopened, and I believe that in this way all
18 citizens of Vares municipality benefitted.
19 Q. In Central Bosnia serious conflicts broke out as early as January
20 1993 and then it turned into a full-scale war in April of that year. How
21 did that reflect on the living conditions between Croats and Muslims in
23 A. When the conflict broke out in parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
24 this did not affect the territory of Vares municipality, because each side
25 controlled their own part of the municipality and there were no incidents
1 at the line of separation. And, in fact, such a line of separation had
2 not even been established yet at that time.
3 Q. If I understand you correctly, you still had a common enemy, which
4 was the BSA.
5 A. Yes. In a nutshell, that was the case.
6 Q. Mr. Vidovic, you happen to be the 163rd witness before this Trial
7 Chamber, and a lot of witnesses testified about that Croatian
8 institutions, such as the HVO, HZ HB, et cetera, that these institutions
9 implemented a policy of persecution or harassment of other ethnic groups,
10 especially Muslims. Is that correct?
11 A. That is not correct. Vares was in such a situation that it was
12 practically surrounded from all sides by either Muslims or -- Serbs or
13 Muslims, and it was in no position to carry out any type of ethnic
14 cleansing, nor was any such thing done. In essence, it demonstrates that
15 in our health centres, in our companies, in any other institutions, no
16 manager was ever dismissed, nobody was let go unless they wanted to go.
17 We allowed the Serbs who wanted to -- who wish to leave, we allowed them
18 to leave and take all their possessions, without any problems, and so on.
19 Q. Very well. I believe that this probably gives -- this is enough
20 of an answer for the Trial Chamber.
21 You were a member of the HZ HB, you were a member of the HDZ. You
22 know what kind of policy, official or unofficial, was implemented. You
23 had opportunities to contact a number of officials in these institutions.
24 My question to you is: Have you ever heard that anybody that you have
25 come in touch with ever advocated any policy which was to persecute, to
1 drive out non-Croats from the areas controlled by the Croats?
2 A. I never heard of any such thing and there is no document emanating
3 from HZ HB or HDZ that advocates any such thing.
4 Q. But have you ever heard that anybody advocated such thing during
5 such meetings?
6 A. No. And even if we consider breaks between sessions in sessions
7 of these institutions, even there I never heard any such thing.
8 Q. After the HVO took over the government after July 1, 1992, was
9 there any persecution of non-Croats ever implemented, to your knowledge?
10 A. As I stated, we never violated any human rights of anyone while we
11 were in power, we never dismissed anyone, and nobody was arrested because
12 they were a Serb or a Muslim.
13 Q. Mr. Vidovic, you said that the living conditions improved, that
14 shops reopened, and that after 1 July 1992, living conditions improved
15 overall. But you omitted a detail. What was your cooperation like with
16 your neighbours, that is, with the 2nd Corps in Tuzla? You had good
17 cooperation with them as a municipal government?
18 A. Yes. We had good cooperation both with the 2nd Corps and with the
19 civilian government in Tuzla. I can give you an example. In September
20 1993 I visited Tuzla with a group of athletes, and there was a basketball
21 team and they played the local basketball team. And we also had gymnasts
22 who showed what they were doing in these wartime conditions. And even
23 through that you can see what type of contacts we maintained during this
25 The HVO units at that time were engaged in Ribnica Vozuca sector
1 of the front line, where we provided assistance to the 2nd Corps. Also we
2 assisted the Olovo Brigade in supplies, in weaponry and ammunition, until
3 1992, and through that we contributed to the defence of Olovo municipality
4 against the Serb attacks.
5 Q. Another detail on the Olovo Brigade. Were they part of the ABiH?
6 A. Yes, and incorporated in it was a small HVO unit, I believe
7 numbering 16 men.
8 Q. Thank you. It is also a fact that the Muslims had formed their
9 own military forces. And maybe just to focus on one detail, they had
10 their own armed forces, and in this way the joint command, joint
11 headquarters for the defence of the city, collapsed.
12 A. Yes. This collapse took place in the fall of 1992, when the
13 Muslim members left and moved to the village of Strijezevo, and that was
14 the period when the ABiH forces were established in Vares and this is when
15 the joint defence of the town ceased to exist.
16 Q. Can you tell the Trial Chamber whether the Muslim side also
17 established its own governmental bodies, the war presidency in Strijezevo?
18 A. The war presidency in Strijezevo was established in the summer of
19 1992 and it was parallel -- it governed parallel to the government, the
20 local government in Vares.
21 Q. So we have a situation when there were two parallel governments.
22 Does that mean that tacitly the territory was also partitioned, not
23 strictly speaking, but in terms of overall responsibility?
24 A. Yes, in terms of responsibility or competence, there was a tacit
25 partition, because I said that the southern section of Vares municipality
1 was populated by Muslims. And in this territory we lost, so to say; we
2 lost our authority and the authority was taken over by the war presidency.
3 Q. Can you tell me: Some of your convoys -- and when I say "your
4 convoys," I'm referring to the HVO convoys -- they were stopped in
5 Dabravina, but all those incidents were resolved in a peaceful manner; in
6 other words, they did not produce any further escalations.
7 A. Yes. There was no further escalation, because the vehicles were
8 returned, but the pay load that they carried was off-loaded in the ABiH
9 logistics centre.
10 Q. I'll ask you a couple of questions on the Convoy of Joy in June
11 1993. In April 1993 you had to travel to Zagreb for professional reasons?
12 A. Yes. I had to travel to Zagreb because we had a construction site
13 there, my company did, and I went to see how things were going.
14 Q. You left for Zagreb several days before the conflict broke out in
15 Central Bosnia. When the conflict broke out, were you able to come back
16 to Vares when you wanted?
17 A. I believe that I was one of the last persons who, unimpeded, went
18 through the road, through Bugojno and Strijezevo and Siroki Brijeg, and a
19 couple of days later the conflict had broken out and all roads to Vares
20 were blocked, so that I stayed in Herzegovina for exactly two months.
21 Q. While you were in Herzegovina, you were an eyewitness, so to
22 speak, of this convoy which, on the 20th of June, came from Grude?
23 A. While I was in Herzegovina -- I believe that that was on the 20th
24 of May -- a convoy from Tuzla arrived, which was joined in Vares by
25 several Vares HVO vehicles, and I hoped and expected that I could return
1 with this convoy, since the convoy had free-passage certificates from both
2 the HVO and the ABiH, because the convoy was organised by both of these
3 groups in Tuzla.
4 Q. This was not a regular convoy, because this was organised by both
5 the HVO and the ABiH and it included the supplies and arms and military
7 A. Yes. In addition to our regular supplies, foodstuffs and such for
8 civilian purposes, they also had permission to transport military
10 Q. This was a relatively small convoy and you joined it as you were
11 going towards Vares and Tuzla, how many trucks did it number
13 A. Approximately there were about 700 vehicles including trucks,
14 tanks, tankers and private vehicles.
15 Q. Was this convoy escorted by BritBat troops from the start or did
16 they join it at some point later?
17 A. I don't know whether it had -- this escort when it came in
18 Herzegovina because that was the first time that I became aware of it, but
19 when we were leaving Herzegovina, it was escorted by the UNPROFOR British
21 Q. Mr. Vidovic, the main reason for you to have joined this convoy
22 was to be able to come back home because it was the only way for you to go
23 back to the area?
24 A. Yes, that was the only way that I could join -- that I could go
25 back, and several other private vehicles and some buses who had been
1 stranded also joined it in order to try to come back.
2 Q. You are talking about the vehicles from Vares, but there were
3 other vehicles from other areas which wanted to join it, and this is how
4 they arrived at this large number of 700?
5 A. Yes, there were vehicles coming in from Germany, they still had
6 temporary plates issued by customs offices and they also joined this
8 Q. Mr. Vidovic, when did this convoy start out from Grude in the
9 direction of Tuzla?
10 A. The convoy started out from Grude in the afternoon of 7 June
11 1993. We travelled several days. We spent one night near Tomislavgrad,
12 that was the first night. The second night -- when we first started, it
13 was a Monday. So the night, Monday to Tuesday, we stayed near
14 Tomislavgrad. The night, Tuesday to Wednesday, it was near Prozor.
15 Q. Let me just specify for you, this was the night of the 9th?
16 A. On the 9th, we slept in -- under -- near Mount Makljen near Gornji
17 Vakuf, and on the 10th, late in the evening, because from the village of
18 Opara to Novi Travnik, we travelled without lights because that was the
19 order. And so we arrived near Novi Travnik on the 10th of June and we
20 were stopped just before the town and this is where we stayed the night.
21 Q. Who stopped you on the -- at the approach to the town and why?
22 A. We were stopped by the security, that is, by the BritBat, because
23 there was fighting going on in the area and throughout the night we
24 witnessed it.
25 Q. So it was for security reasons?
13 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the
14 French and English transcripts.
1 A. Yes, for our security, because it was impossible to continue to
2 travel during the night.
3 Q. So the night of the 10th you spent on the road just before the
4 town of Novi Travnik?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Mr. Vidovic, you started describing the night of the 10th to 11th
7 when you were sleeping by the roadside. What did you experience?
8 A. All night you could hear artillery and small arms fire, and so we
9 assumed that we were entering an area which was engulfed in fighting.
10 Q. Can you tell me now, the next day when you arrived in Vitez, I
11 assume that you heard from the Vitez inhabitants what had happened on the
12 night of 10 June in Vitez?
13 A. In Vitez, the police checkpoint where we were stopped, I heard
14 that the night before, eight children had been killed and it somehow
15 became clear to me why the convoy was stopped.
16 Q. Did you also hear from people who were in the area when the
17 fighting had started, the fighting which you heard throughout that night?
18 A. That night we never had any contacts with the local population
19 because we couldn't. It was pitch dark. There was no electricity. So we
20 couldn't leave the vehicles and we had no contacts, at least a part of the
21 convoy where I was, we had no contacts with the local population.
22 Q. Very well. But I assume that you heard this the next day or the
23 following day.
24 A. The following day I heard in Vitez what the situation was in the
1 Q. What did you hear, who had attacked whom in those days when you
2 returned to Central Bosnia?
3 A. I heard about the attacks on Travnik, the attacks on Lasva Valley,
4 more specifically Vitez, where the attacks were the fiercest, and I was
5 able to gain firsthand experience about the situation in Vitez.
6 Q. You mentioned the attack on Travnik, but you did not mention who
7 attacked whom?
8 A. The attack was carried out by the ABiH.
9 Q. Very well. That night you spent on the road, the entire convoy
10 did, and it must have been a long column several kilometres long?
11 A. It was a very long column and we spent the whole night there until
12 the morning.
13 Q. Can you tell the Trial Chamber what happened in the morning of 11
14 June 1993 when you left Novi Travnik and you arrived near Nova Bila?
15 A. In the early morning hours, we moved on because the security gave
16 us permission to do so; however, near a restaurant, Bralo, in Stare Bila,
17 the convoy was split up into two parts. I was in the front end of the
18 second column, and we were diverted to a quarry which had been active in
19 that time.
20 Q. Can you now tell the Trial Chamber who it was that split up the
22 A. It was the local population of Stare Bila or I don't even know
23 where they were from, but we couldn't go on because the convoy was not
24 compact as before and meanwhile, they erected barricades and they diverted
25 part of the convoy that was following, and they diverted it to this
2 Q. You are referring to this local population. First of all, were
3 these women or soldiers, civilians, children, who was it?
4 A. There were civilians, men and women and children among them.
5 Q. Excuse me, but what was their mood? Were they friendly towards
6 you? Were they hostile? Did they look bitter? What were they like so
7 that the Trial Chamber has an idea?
8 A. Their mood was not friendly at all. In fact, it was the opposite,
9 it was hostile. Even the -- even we who were -- who had the Vares HVO
10 signs, markings, were called Muslims, we were called traitors. There were
11 some very ugly words and the population really looked very bitter and even
13 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Naumovski, I can see you are in the middle of this
14 account, but it is 4.00. It may be more convenient to deal with the rest
15 tomorrow. Very well.
16 Meanwhile, there is one matter which the registry have raised with
17 the Trial Chamber. You said that it should be possible to deal with the
18 videolink witnesses now on one day. If that's so, clearly it would be
19 more convenient for the registry to know and then they would not be kept
20 there and the technician wouldn't be kept there over night.
21 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Your Honour, this is our
22 assessment. We don't know how long the cross-examination is going to
23 take, but we believe that one day should be sufficient. It is, however,
24 not possible to assert that unequivocally.
25 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] But Mr. Sayers had already
1 specified that the three witnesses who were going to testify were going to
2 testify on limited matters, so examination-in-chief is not going to take
3 very long. So how long do you think this examination-in-chief is going to
4 take for the three witnesses? I think this might be a useful piece of
6 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] I don't believe that the
7 examination-in-chief of all three witnesses in total would not -- would
8 take more than one hour. For instance, the witness who is to testify
9 about Kacuni may take 15 minutes, 20 minutes maximum. Let's say two hours
10 at the most.
11 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] So if, indeed, it is under two
12 hours, and if we were to think that the cross-examination may take as much
13 time, so also the same amount of time, this could be done in one day.
14 JUDGE MAY: Could you help us with that, Mr. Nice?
15 MR. NICE: I would hope that if the examination-in-chief takes an
16 hour, we can certainly conclude the evidence in a day.
17 JUDGE MAY: Yes. I wonder if the registry would come and have a
19 [Trial Chamber and registrar confer]
20 MR. NICE: Can I just add to what I said before, one point? It's
21 clear to us that, of course, all these summaries are drafted in advance.
22 Indeed, a document was served last week which made that abundantly clear.
23 For the witnesses by link, it will, of course, greatly help if we can have
24 summaries, draft or as signed in the seat of the link, in advance.
25 There's no reason why not. We served draft summaries.
1 Can I, while I'm on my feet, correct something I've said earlier.
2 It doesn't relate to this witness and as soon as you know something's
3 wrong, it's your duty to correct it.
4 In fact, the last witness gave evidence in open session and
5 slipped through our net, probably meant that she was actually quite a
6 suitable witness for transcript witness, but be that as it may, what went
7 wrong plainly, by her assessment, was that although giving evidence for
8 the Defence occasion, she wasn't picked up as a potential contact by the
9 other side. But that's been dealt now, and distressed as she was when she
10 was spoken to by Ms. Verhaag.
11 JUDGE MAY: Now, as far as this witness is concerned. Mr.
12 Naumovski, by my calculation, 164, not 163. Maybe you missed the
13 Prosecution witness yesterday. But in any event --
14 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] I did not count today's witness,
15 Mr. Vidovic. I think that that was my oversight, but you are absolutely
17 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Vidovic, we are going to adjourn now until
18 tomorrow morning. Would you remember in this adjournment not to speak to
19 anybody about your evidence and not to let anybody speak to you about it
20 until it's over, and that does include the members of the Defence team.
21 Could you be back, please, at half past nine tomorrow morning.
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I understand.
23 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned
24 at 4.08 p.m., to be reconvened on Wednesday
25 the 5th day of April, 2000, at 9.30 a.m.