1 Tuesday, 12
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The witness entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 9.32 a.m.
6 JUDGE MAY: Yes, let the witness stand to take the declaration.
7 THE WITNESS: I solemnly declare that I will speak the truth, the
8 whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
9 JUDGE MAY: If you'd like to take a seat.
10 Yes, Mr. Mikulicic.
11 MR. MIKULICIC: Thank you, Your Honour.
12 WITNESS: VLADO SANTIC
13 [Witness answered through interpreter]
14 Examined by Mr. Mikulicic:
15 Q. [Interpretation] Good morning, Mr. Santic.
16 A. Good morning.
17 Q. On behalf of the defence of Mr. Mario Cerkez, I will put some
18 questions to you. We will talk about events in which you participated. I
19 would like to ask you to try to remember these events as best you can, and
20 when answering my questions to make a small pause and not to speak too
21 fast so that the interpreters can do their job.
22 For the record, would you please introduce yourself and tell us
23 the year and place of your birth.
24 A. My name is Vlado Santic. I live in Santici, the Vitez
25 municipality. I was born on the 31st of January, 1955.
1 Q. Mr. Santic, you are a Croat by nationality?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Roman Catholic?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. You have dual citizenship of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina
6 and the Republic of Croatia?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. What kind of school did you graduate from?
9 A. From the chemical vocational school, it's a secondary school.
10 After that, I went to another two-year postsecondary school, also chemical
12 Q. That was in Vitez?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. And you are a qualified chemist?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Did you serve in the former JNA?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. When and where?
19 A. In 1974 in Valjevo.
20 Q. Did you get any military rank after your service?
21 A. No.
22 Q. Did you ever have any professional military duties while you were
24 A. No, only the usual exercises that the former army required.
25 Q. Mr. Santic, you are married and have three children?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Formally, you are employed in the Vitezit factory but you don't go
3 to work because there is, in fact, no work?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. You said that you were born in Vitez and that you live in Santici?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. In order to represent the places you will talk about during your
8 testimony, I will ask the usher to put a map on the ELMO, that's Z2271.
9 Mr. Santic, to begin with, would you show us the village of
10 Santici and the approximate location of your house.
11 A. It's here, approximately.
12 Q. Is your house to the north or to the south of the road running
13 from Vitez in the direction of Sarajevo?
14 A. It's on the south side.
15 Q. Thank you. Very well. We will need this map later, so it can
16 stay on the ELMO.
17 You were living in your own family house?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. With your family?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. After graduating from secondary school, where did you get a job?
22 A. I got a job in the Vitezit factory in Vitez.
23 Q. Until when did you work in that factory?
24 A. What do you mean, until when?
25 Q. I'm talking about the period before the war.
1 A. Well, until about the 15th of December, 1992.
2 Q. What happened then?
3 A. Well, there were some problems. There was no production. There
4 were difficult conditions. It was wintertime. There was no work. Almost
5 everyone was sent home; only one group was allowed to remain for the
6 maintenance of the factory, and the others were sent home.
7 Q. So the factory, in fact, stopped working because of a shortage of
8 raw materials and because there was no market.
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. How many people were sent home on that occasion?
11 A. More than 90 per cent.
12 Q. What was the ethnic makeup of the employees in Vitezit?
13 A. It was, well, about 50/50, Croats and Muslims. There were some
14 Serbs but not so many.
15 Q. When the workers were sent home, was the criterion that was
16 applied ethnic, or were people sent home regardless of their ethnicity?
17 A. Well, they were not actually made redundant. They were just told
18 to wait for work, and we all reported to work. Everyone was involved in
19 some kind of army, and they didn't come to work. Those who stayed behind
20 did go to the factory.
21 Q. Thank you. So in late 1992 you came home, you stopped going to
22 work, and then you became active in the village. What did you do?
23 A. Well, there were village patrols which we organised on our own
24 initiative to guard the roads leading into the village.
25 Q. These village guards were organised before you lost your work or
1 after that?
2 A. Well, before that, but I didn't participate because I was still
4 Q. Mr. Santic, please tell us, what was the ethnic makeup of your
5 village, Santici?
6 A. Well, it was very mixed. Around my house, one house would be
7 Croat, the next house would be Muslim. It's really very mixed.
8 Q. These village guards that were organised, were they also of a
9 mixed composition or not?
10 A. Well, for awhile they were mixed, but then that stopped and the
11 Muslims had their own guards and we had our own guards.
12 Q. You have explained to us the purpose of these guards. You said
13 you guarded the roads leading into the village. Tell us, Mr. Santic, were
14 your village guards organised by someone outside the village, or was it
15 the villagers themselves? What was the situation?
16 A. Well, as far as I know, we all got together and elected a kind of
17 commander amongst ourselves, and so we organised it on our own.
18 Q. And you elected your own commander amongst yourselves.
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. How many of you were involved in the village guards in late 1992?
21 A. Well, about 30 of us, maybe a few men more or less. I don't know
23 Q. Did you have any weapons?
24 A. Well, there were some weapons, although not all of us were armed.
25 When someone was on duty, he would have a weapon. There were even hunting
1 rifles that we used. But we went home without weapons mostly, because
2 there was a house where we gathered and where we changed shifts and
3 exchanged information.
4 Q. And then you would simply hand over weapons to one another because
5 there were not enough weapons for everyone.
6 A. Yes, that's right.
7 Q. Did you have any uniforms?
8 A. Most of us did not. Some people did. Some had parts of uniforms;
9 others had no uniforms at all.
10 Q. You have just told us, Mr. Santic, that you elected the commander
11 of the village guard amongst yourselves. Would the commander elected stay
12 for a long time, or did they change?
13 A. Well, there were changes. People would be dissatisfied, and then
14 we would come together. There were changes, yes.
15 Q. How many of you were on duty in one shift?
16 A. Well, five or six of us.
17 Q. And your main task was?
18 A. To guard the entrances to the village, to go around the village
19 once or twice during a shift.
20 Q. What conclusion did you come to you, Mr. Santic? What was the
21 main reason for the establishment of these village guards? And why were
22 you guarding the roads leading into the village?
23 A. Well, because the conflict with the Serbs had started, and our
24 people went in the direction of Jajce, Travnik. We were afraid of raids
25 by Serb forces and the JNA on our village; there was always a danger that
1 they might break through and surprise us, and that was mostly why we
2 organised this. There was some looting also, so that was another reason
3 to watch over the village.
4 Q. Not far from your village, Mr. Santic, is the mountain called
5 Kuber; is that correct? Would you be so kind as to show us on the map the
6 exact location of that mountain.
7 A. Would the technical -- oh, thank you. Yes.
8 Q. So this is the mountain of Kuber.
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Tell us, in relation to the surroundings, does that mountain
11 command a dominant position, a view?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Tell us, Mr. Santic, at that time did you also go to Kuber?
14 A. Yes. We would go and stay there for a week at a time.
15 Q. What was your task, then, when you went to Mount Kuber?
16 A. Well, there was an elevation there and we were afraid that the
17 Serbian forces could break through and take it. We were also afraid that
18 helicopters might land there, because there were fields there. It was an
19 elevation, and that was the reason why we went up there.
20 Q. How was this organised, these departures to Mount Kuber? Which of
21 the village guards went to Kuber?
22 A. Well, it was village by village. Our village of Santici went on
23 the 13th, and the whole group was from our village. Then we were replaced
24 by a group from another village, for example, Dubravica, Nadioci, Rijeka.
25 It would always be men from a certain village that would be up there, and
1 they had their commander and so on.
2 Q. Tell us, Mr. Santic, these shifts on Mount Kuber, were they
3 organised in the same way as the village guards? Did you agree among
4 yourselves from the different villages, or was it organised from outside?
5 A. Well, we, from these villages, Rijeka, Nadioci, and so on, we went
6 there; others didn't. So we agreed and then, village by village, would go
8 Q. So you agreed amongst yourselves?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Very well. How many men would there be in a shift when you went
11 to Mount Kuber?
12 A. About 10 or 11 men.
13 Q. Was your main task to observe, to reconnoitre?
14 A. Well, we had a few trenches there. They weren't real trenches,
15 but there was a canvas kind of tent there. And that's where we spent our
16 time. We didn't walk around.
17 Q. Mr. Santic, that position on Mount Kuber, did your Muslim
18 neighbours go there also?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. But not together with you, they went separately?
21 A. They had a position 200 or 300 metres away from our position,
22 above us, higher up.
23 Q. In late 1992 and early 1993, did you have any agreements with your
24 Muslim neighbours on Kuber? Did you have joint shifts or were the
25 organisations separate?
1 A. The organisation was separate.
2 Q. What was the situation with weapons up there? Were you all armed
3 or did you hand over weapons to one another the way you did in the
5 A. Well, those who did not have a rifle would take someone else's
6 rifle in order to go there. That's what I did too. But when we were
7 there, we were all armed although these were just ordinary rifles, M-48s.
8 There was some automatic weapons but that was very rare.
9 Q. You mentioned earlier in your testimony that in April you went to
10 Kuber. You mentioned the date. Would you repeat it?
11 A. We went on the 13th of April. It was Tuesday. I remember very
12 well because we would change shifts on Tuesdays, and we would be there
13 from one Tuesday to another.
14 Q. And that was the shift from your particular village, the village
15 of Santici; is that correct?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Do you remember whether at that time when you took up your shift
18 on Tuesday the 13th of April, 1993, up until the 16th of April when there
19 was an escalation in the fighting in Vitez and the surrounding areas, do
20 you remember whether at Kuber there was an incident that took place of any
22 A. Yes. Not that same day but one or two days later when we were up
23 there. There was some shooting, and the shooting lasted for perhaps an
24 hour. We didn't see anything, we just heard the shooting. And it wasn't
25 continuous, it was just sporadic.
1 Q. Where did you hear the shooting come from; from what direction?
2 A. They told us that it was from the village of Bilivode, that that
3 was what the village was called on the road to Zenica.
4 Q. So you heard shooting but you didn't know what was actually going
5 on; is that right?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Did you hear about it later on, what the shooting was all about
8 and what had actually happened?
9 A. They told us that the Muslims had attacked a portion of us Croats
10 who were on patrol in the area and that a conflict had arisen.
11 Q. Do you know anything more about that?
12 A. I think that somebody was either wounded or killed, some of the
13 Croats, but I forget who. I don't know about the Muslims.
14 Q. Yes, but that was before the 16th, wasn't it?
15 A. Yes, it was one or two days before the 16th.
16 Q. After that incident and after that shooting, over the next day or
17 two up until the 16th, there were no further incidents, were there?
18 A. No.
19 Q. What happened on the 16th, in the morning?
20 A. On the morning of the 16th, I think that it was about twenty to
21 6.00 in the morning, we were awoken. Some of us were up at our positions,
22 and others were in a shed below, a hut below, but there was -- it was
23 rather misty so you couldn't see anything properly and there was some
25 Q. And could you say where the shooting was coming from?
1 A. Well, below us, you could hear it better but it was coming from
2 all around and we weren't able to actually pinpoint the direction it was
3 coming from and didn't know what was actually going on.
4 Q. You said that it was foggy at that time?
5 A. Yes. At that time, it was rather misty. We couldn't determine
6 what was going on.
7 Q. Did you receive any information at that time as to what was
9 A. Our commander tried to get some information on his Motorola but we
10 went up to our positions, and it was only later that we heard something
11 about it and we were -- visibility was better one hour later too so we
12 could see better.
13 Q. Your commander tried to learn what was going on through this radio
14 transmitter; is that right?
15 A. Yes, and he received information that there had been a conflict
16 down in our village, but he wasn't able to tell us straight away what was
17 happening. That was only later. It was only when the fog had lifted that
18 we were able to see that around our houses, and my house in particular,
19 because we were all local inhabitants, we saw that houses were burning and
20 we couldn't quite make out whether it was my house or whose house it
21 actually was.
22 Q. So when the fog lifted, you saw that in the region of your
23 village, the village of Santici, houses were on fire; is that correct?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Could you see the village of Ahmici?
1 A. Well, we saw them burning. We couldn't actually see Ahmici
2 because it's more difficult to see them. We were further off from the
3 road so it's easier to see our village, but we did see some houses on
5 Q. You said that there were about ten of you in the shift. Did you
6 all remain in your positions?
7 A. Well, as we were upset to see what was happening down below, we
8 sent two of our men to go and see what was happening to our families, and
9 two men went off to see how they were.
10 Q. And what about you personally?
11 A. I stayed up there.
12 Q. Who was your commanding officer at that position?
13 A. It was Zeljo Livancic.
14 Q. Was he a member of your village guard as well?
15 A. Yes, he was.
16 Q. So he was a person whom you selected among yourselves to be the
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. The two men that went off from Kuber down to the village, did they
20 come back and tell you what was going on?
21 A. Yes, they did.
22 Q. When did they come back?
23 A. They returned several hours later. They just went to see whether
24 our families were all right and asked about all our families and then came
25 back up.
1 Q. What did they tell you?
2 A. They said that the Muslim houses were burning and that our
3 families were alive and well, and they returned.
4 Q. On that particular day, were there any armed conflicts at Kuber at
5 the positions that you were in?
6 A. Only later on, perhaps in the morning hours, shooting started.
7 The Muslims started targeting us and then we took refuge, took cover,
8 because there is a hill there, and there were a few trenches; three, in
9 fact, not many trenches. So after their shooting, we returned fire. And
10 this went on for a couple of hours perhaps.
11 Q. From which direction did the Muslims fire at you?
12 A. From Zenica where they held the positions. That's where that
13 shooting came from.
14 Q. Were those the same people that held positions as village guards,
15 the positions that you spoke about a moment ago?
16 A. Yes, probably. I can't tell you for sure because they had already
17 moved. After the events that had taken place in Ahmici or from wherever,
18 there was no further contact. And before that, we would meet where there
19 was a source, a water source, a water spring. We would meet there and
20 talk there, but afterwards there was no further contact of that kind.
21 Q. You mentioned that you came under fire from snipers with
22 fragmentation bullets. Was there any heavier shooting afterwards?
23 A. I think in the afternoon hours there was a stronger attack from
24 the Vrhovine area. That was a hill. It's not very high, but there's a
25 lot of growth so you can hide yourself, and that's where the attack came
1 from and along from this attack, from the Zenica direction, from the
3 Q. Tell us, Mr. Santic, were there any grenades, any shelling?
4 A. Yes. First one, and then more shelling next to the trench I was
5 in, but luckily it was a good trench that we had dug several days ago, but
6 a grenade fell right in front of it.
7 Q. Were there any wounded?
8 A. Two of our men stayed up at Kuber and Zeljo Livancic, the
9 commander, was killed on the occasion.
10 Q. Were you able to determine the direction from which the shelling
11 was coming?
12 A. I think it was from Vrhovine, as far as I was able to see.
13 Q. Could you point the area out to us on the map, please.
14 A. Vrhovine is up here and it was to the left. That's where the
15 shelling took place. Vrhovine is here. There's a small hill there, and
16 we were to the right.
17 Q. Who held that position?
18 A. The Muslims held that position, and we didn't go there. We stood
19 guard towards that village.
20 Q. You said that three of your neighbours were killed on one occasion
21 and amongst them one of your commanders, Zeljo Livancic. What intensity
22 was that attack?
23 A. Well, it was a strong attack with artillery support, as I
24 mentioned a moment ago. And I saw that when we were withdrawing, a larger
25 group had entered the area where that other trench was where Livancic and
1 Grkic were, and we had to withdraw. I cannot tell you exactly how many
2 people there were, but I saw at least ten, more than ten people.
3 Q. How many of you were there?
4 A. There were ten of us.
5 Q. And you were forced to withdraw; is that right?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Can you show us on the map your route when you withdrew?
8 A. From the Kratine area, we went right down quite low and the next
9 day we saw that there wasn't an all-out attack, but here, Kratine and Gola
10 Kosa, that's the spot. That's the locality.
11 Q. The position you are pointing to, Kratine, that is part of Mount
12 Kuber, the slopes of Mount Kuber; is that right?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. If you look at the difference in altitude, how much lower is it?
15 A. Well, it is a couple of hundred metres lower, the altitude.
16 Q. And what about the breadth of the area?
17 A. Three or four kilometres, I would say.
18 Q. And that was your new defensive position, was it not?
19 A. Yes, that's right.
20 Q. What did you do once you had reached that position?
21 A. When we got there, we deployed so as to set up a defence towards
22 the village, and we separated out some 500 or 600 metres. But there
23 wasn't an attack on that occasion.
24 Q. But there were very few of you. If I can count properly, there
25 were only seven of you because three had been killed?
1 A. Yes, that's right.
2 Q. Did you receive any reinforcements?
3 A. Yes, the next day and the day after, we would receive some
4 reinforcements. The line took 15 days to set up because people from Vitez
5 came to join us who had been mobilised to help defend the defence line.
6 Q. And your neighbours from the village guard in Santici who were not
7 up there with you, did they come to help you out?
8 A. No, they deployed around different parts of the village of
9 Santici, Krtina Mahala and so on they were in that region. They spread
10 out there.
11 Q. So you were more exposed, your point was further out than the
12 defence line for the village of Santici itself; is that right?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. But there was no attack on your defence line?
15 A. No, there was not. For several days, I can't tell you exactly but
16 not during those few days.
17 Q. So you were at Kratine, you had taken up the positions there,
18 together with your neighbours; all the members of the village guard were
19 there. Were there any military units? Did anybody from a military unit
20 come to inform you as to what your assignments were and what you should
22 A. Well, they were our neighbours from Nadioci, because their village
23 was -- this was more important for their village. Just to prevent them
24 from entering our villages, our particular village.
25 Q. Let me repeat my question. Perhaps you didn't understand me. Did
1 anybody from the military structures of Vitez, the Vitez Brigade, for
2 example, reach you at your positions and give instructions as to what your
3 assignments and duties were?
4 A. No.
5 Q. What happened next? Time passed, and what happened?
6 A. Well, with each passing day, the line became better fortified.
7 There were no attacks. There was just sporadic gunfire or the odd grenade
8 would fall close to our positions, but there was no all-out attack from
9 the Kuber area. We noticed that the Muslims had moved further up too and
10 were digging in there. So that there was sporadic gunfire. But we were
11 able to fortify our defence line better because people came in over the
12 next 15 days and we were able to complete our defence strategy.
13 Q. Very well. Thank you. But at one particular point, sometime
14 later, you were given military ID cards, weren't you?
15 A. Well, perhaps a month or two went by when we got our military ID
16 cards and we knew that we were members of the Vitez Brigade.
17 Q. Mr. Santic, could you describe to us how this came about,
18 briefly? How were these military ID cards distributed?
19 A. Well, someone from the command came by, and our commander
20 distributed these ID cards to us. They had our names on them and denoted
21 our membership in the brigade.
22 Q. What did it actually say on these cards?
23 A. That we had become members of the Vitez Brigade, so that we could
24 know exactly who we belonged to as regards military formation.
25 Q. These ID cards, you say, were distributed by your commander. Who
1 gave him the ID cards; do you know that?
2 A. Well, I don't know exactly whether it was a commander whose name
3 was Bertovic. I think it was him. He brought them.
4 Q. Do you happen to remember, Mr. Santic, which unit you belonged to,
5 in keeping with what it said on that military ID card?
6 A. The Vitez Brigade. I don't know what else it said. I've
7 forgotten. Perhaps I've got it at home somewhere. But that's more or
8 less what it said.
9 Q. Tell us, please, Mr. Santic, what happened next? Were you at that
10 position throughout the time, or did you change positions?
11 A. Yes, until the end of the war I held that position.
12 Q. You mentioned a moment ago that this defence line, this position,
13 was fortified little by little. When you came to that position for the
14 first time, were there any trenches that had been dug?
15 A. No, nothing had been dug there yet.
16 Q. After your arrival, did you start digging in?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. At the beginning there were seven of you; is that right?
19 A. Yes, seven at first. But the number grew with each passing day.
20 Q. Did you start digging the trenches yourselves to begin with?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Afterwards were you assisted in this task by anybody?
23 A. Yes, the Muslims would come too, the Muslims from Vitez. I know
24 some of the people who came. There were some Romanies amongst them as
25 well, and there were some of our own people. My father, for one. He was
1 an elderly man; he was 63 years old at the time. But he came to help us
2 out, and so did some other people. But that took place later on, after,
3 say, about ten days.
4 Q. The people who came to help you out in digging these trenches, did
5 they come in an organised fashion? Were they brought there, escorted by
7 A. The people from the military police brought them. They would stay
8 up there during the day and were taken back by vans or buses, so that they
9 would go back.
10 Q. When you say that the men who helped dig had been brought in a
11 van, escorted by the military police, does that cover both Croats,
12 including your father, and Muslims, or only Muslims?
13 A. Muslims were brought by the military police. Our men volunteered
14 and came on their own. They knew where.
15 Q. Did you have an opportunity - you say that you knew some of the
16 Muslims who were brought there, escorted by the military police. Did you
17 have any opportunity to talk to those people?
18 A. Well, yes, but not much because the situation, after all, was
19 tense. But we'd offer them something, a cigarette or ...
20 Q. Did you perhaps see anyone harass those Muslims, beat, ill-treat
21 them at the positions there?
22 A. While they were at the positions there, nobody harassed them.
23 Q. Did they complain that somebody mistreated them elsewhere?
24 A. They did not.
25 Q. You say that even your father, who was 63 at the time, also came
1 to dig.
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Was that an isolated case, or were there more such instances?
4 A. Quite a number. I know various of our neighbours, mostly elderly
5 and even those who did not even serve the former army for various reasons,
6 even they came up there.
7 Q. Throughout the time while you were keeping your positions, any one
8 of those individuals who came to help dig trenches, was any one of them
9 injured, wounded, or anything?
10 A. Any one of us up there, no.
11 Q. You mentioned that they were brought there by some buses of the
12 military police, and the military police also took them away as it had
13 brought them up there.
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. During their stay at the positions, did the military police stay
16 by them or not?
17 A. No, there was no military police. We were the only ones who were
18 with them.
19 Q. Mr. Santic, you already told us in the beginning that your village
20 was practically very near the village of Ahmici.
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. You told us that your village was to the south of the road; you
23 showed it to us on the map. The village of Ahmici is, for the most part,
24 on what part of the road?
25 A. Well, for the most part, it is to the north of the road, even
1 though there is a part of the village which is below the road or, rather,
2 to the south of it.
3 Q. Very well. You also told us that at the beginning the village
4 guards were mixed. Were there any significant incidents between you, the
5 villagers, I mean Croats and Muslims, prior to the 16th of April, 1993?
6 A. As for our villagers, no. Between our villagers there were no
7 incidents to speak of. Only when the Muslims tried to block a unit which
8 was to take its shift on Jajce - it also was near my village - then there
9 was a fighting which broke out. But not from our village, on the other
11 Q. Are you referring to the event that happened in late 1992?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. This Chamber has already heard a great deal of testimony about
14 that incident so that I will not ask you any questions. But if need be,
15 you can answer the Prosecutor's questions about this.
16 A. Quite. No problem, if I know the answers.
17 Q. In the beginning of your testimony, you also said that you were in
18 the Vitezit and that the ethnic composition of workers there was roughly
19 50/50. What were you there?
20 A. I was shop steward.
21 Q. Your duty was to register the attendance at work, was it?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Do you remember if the management of the plant or you yourself
24 asked the workers of Muslim origin to sign some statements of allegiance,
25 of loyalty, to the Croat Community of Herceg-Bosna or anything like that?
1 A. No. Nothing like that existed there that anyone had to pronounce
2 himself, or anything like that.
3 Q. Did you perhaps observe any major layoffs or firing of Muslims
4 from work?
5 A. No.
6 Q. Mr. Santic, you described to us your participation in these events
7 where you recognised your military service.
8 A. Well, yes, in a manner of speaking, because we were issued those
9 certificates, we, the participants, members of the village guards. And
10 the date was put, I believe it was the month of April 1993 -- no, 1992,
11 and it was a kind of a tribute paid to us by way of these certificates.
12 Q. Did you get those certificates?
13 A. We did, yes. I believe from the 8th of April, and then until, I
14 don't know, roughly four years of service.
15 Q. Did you ever use them?
16 A. No. It's just a piece of paper.
17 Q. Could you tell us, Mr. Santic, when were you demobilised? When
18 did you leave your military unit?
19 A. I think it must have been about four years later after that date,
20 so I think it was 1997. Because we went to defence lines against the
21 Serbs up there, and that part was also registered.
22 Q. You mean after the conflict in the Lasva Valley?
23 A. Yes.
24 MR. MIKULICIC: [Interpretation] Could the registrar - I'm sorry I
25 forgot to announce it earlier - show the witness Exhibit Z70.2.
1 Q. Mr. Santic, I will now show you this list which was adduced as an
2 exhibit and which is a list of persons who took part in the organised
3 resistance against the aggression in various villages in the Vitez
4 municipality. Your village is also there. I should invite you to comment
5 on one item on that list.
6 MR. MIKULICIC: I would ask the usher to turn to page 18.
7 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Santic, will you please look at number 18
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. It says Vlado (Jozo) Santic, isn't it? Your father's name Jozo,
11 is it?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Mr. Santic, what does this number here mean?
14 A. This is the citizen's number.
15 Q. The Chamber has already heard the first two digits mean the date
16 of birth, following it is the month, and the three following figures the
17 year of birth. So it means that this person, Vlado Santic, son of Jozo,
18 was born on the 10th of September 1996 [sic]. Is that you?
19 A. No.
20 Q. Look then at the signature to your right. Do you recognise this
21 signature? It says Anna Santic, I think?
22 A. No there are no Annas in my family.
23 Q. So this is evidently some other Santic, isn't it?
24 A. Yes, obviously.
25 Q. Even though his father is the namesake of your father?
1 A. Quite.
2 MR. MIKULICIC: [Interpretation] Thank you. Thank you Mr. Santic.
3 This concludes my examination, Your Honours.
4 MR. SAYERS: Mr. President, the Kordic Defence has no questions
5 for this witness.
6 Cross-examined by Mr. Nice:
7 Q. Mr. Santic, just before we turn to matters of detail and history,
8 let's see if I understand it. You were on the Kuber feature from the 13th
9 of April until when continuously?
10 A. The end of the war between the Muslims and Croats. It ended in
11 negotiations, so until -- I believe it was the 13th again, 13th of April
12 1994 when I came down from Kuber and turned over my weapons.
13 Q. And in that intervening year, are you saying that you personally
14 never once went back to your village of Santici?
15 A. That's not what I said. We would go home now and then.
16 Q. Yes. The remainder of your family, your wife, your children, they
17 were still in Santici, were they?
18 A. They were in Santici, but not throughout. They had also -- they
19 also left the house on several occasions and for several days at a time.
20 Q. But they were there, for example, on the night of the 13th, 14th,
21 15th and 16th of April?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. You now live with your family still in Santici, or have you
24 moved? I can't remember.
25 A. Yes, that's where I live.
1 Q. And so there remain in Santici, like your family, a number of
2 Croats who were there on the night of the 15th and 16th and they're still
3 living there in Santici?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Just to deal with the geography, it's pretty clear from the map
6 but you can confirm for us the villages of Dubravica, Santici, Nadioci and
7 Ahmici, they all merge pretty much one into the next, don't they?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Santici -- sorry, the road that runs from Dubravica east by those
10 villages is a sort of gently undulating road. It goes up and down a
11 little bit, over the hills. It's not entirely flat, correct?
12 A. Correct. It's not flat.
13 Q. Santici is a slightly larger village, I suspect, though I haven't
14 checked the statistics, but it's a slightly larger village and it's a sort
15 of village that has one shop or a couple of shops on the main road to
16 service your requirements?
17 A. Yes, quite.
18 Q. But it hasn't got any major shops so that for your major shopping
19 you'd go either to the shops in Dubravica or right through to Vitez;
21 A. Yes. These are all small shops.
22 Q. And of course the factory is the other side of the town of Vitez,
23 lying, as we all know, between Veceriska and Gacice?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. So you regularly, either with work or out of work, had to go to
1 Vitez throughout 1992 and 1993, and the beginning of 1993?
2 A. Yes, almost on a daily basis.
3 Q. Thank you. You've spoken of the decline in work at the factory.
4 Was the general impression being given that it was very badly managed,
5 that factory, that it was losing work?
6 A. Not that it was poorly run, but there were difficulties. It was
7 difficult to bring in the production material because it mostly came from
8 Croatia, and there was a problem with the passage. And I should say it
9 was due to wartime conditions outside Vitez and its environs, but they
10 nevertheless affected the production.
11 Q. And by the autumn of 1992, what percentage of the work force was
12 still working at the factory, measured in terms of, I don't know, full
13 production in 1991 or 1990; what percentage was left with a job in the
14 autumn of 1992?
15 A. Before that, there were two shifts. At that time, there was only
16 one shift working, so about one half of the staff continued to work until
17 the production ground to a halt, and that was in late 1992.
18 Q. Because, you see, you've been asked questions about whether people
19 were required to -- how was it expressed -- give certificates of loyalty
20 in order to retain their jobs, but by the end of 1992, pretty nearly
21 everybody had lost their job in any case, hadn't they, because production
22 had ground to a halt?
23 A. Yes, it simply came to a stop. I mean it did not work. There
24 were only -- I don't know, security guards were still there, perhaps some
25 commercial department here and there, but the production had completely
2 Q. Thank you. And you were, yourself, without work?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. I am just going to ask you a few questions about 1992, see what
5 your visits to the town and your passage through the town will have
6 provided you by way of information. You were aware, of course, that the
7 HZ HB existed, were you, the community of Herceg-Bosna?
8 A. Well, naturally there was media and what we heard in the media,
9 that's what we knew about it.
10 Q. You were aware, were you, that the HVO was effectively taking over
11 the town in 1992 because, of course, it was setting up checkpoints, wasn't
13 A. There were some checkpoints but there were also checkpoints on the
14 Muslim side, because, for instance, in Mahala where there were Muslim
15 barricades. So there were barricades on both sides.
16 Q. Were you aware of the HVO taking over the municipal building, for
17 example, at one stage?
18 A. I think that both did it. I don't know. I didn't go there very
20 Q. I see. Altogether, how many factories were there in Vitez? We've
21 heard about the big factory, but that wasn't the only factory. Were there
22 some other factories?
23 A. Yes. Yes, there were. There was Impregnacija, there was the
24 public utilities company. Well, it's Nova Bila already, but it's -- yes,
25 there were.
1 Q. About some nine major factories, would that be about right? We
2 can list them later if it's necessary but would you accept in general
3 terms that that's about right?
4 A. I wouldn't know exactly, but could be, yes.
5 Q. And are you aware of the fact that of those factories, all bar
6 one, were taken over by the HVO? You were a person with a shop steward's
7 experience. All the factories, bar one, were taken over by the HVO?
8 A. I wouldn't know.
9 Q. I see. Did you go to the oath-taking ceremony in the summer of
10 1992 for the HVO soldiers?
11 A. No.
12 Q. Let's move on to October of 1992 by which time you were pretty
13 well out of work; would that be correct?
14 A. October 1992? No, that's not when I lost my job.
15 Q. You still had a job then. Were you aware of any incident in your
16 village - for the Chamber's benefit, this is Witness U, pages 10.192 and
17 onwards. Were you aware of an incident in your village about the 18th of
18 or 20th of October where a 19-year-old Muslim got killed?
19 A. That day I was supposed to go to work, and I was awakened by
20 shooting when it broke out. I think it was in the morning. And later, I
21 heard that this Muslim had been killed. I knew him personally. And even
22 my Muslim neighbours came to my house. We were there together. We were
23 afraid so we stuck together.
24 Q. Who - was it Nenad Santic who was involved?
25 A. I don't think so.
1 Q. Who was it then from the HVO who killed this 19-year-old boy?
2 A. I couldn't tell you. I know that a conflict did break out, but I
3 only learnt about it later. You are probably referring to the case when
4 the soldiers were supposed to go in the direction of Jajce and Travnik
5 where they were holding the position against the Serbs and they think that
6 there was a conflict among them.
7 Q. But it's right, isn't it, that this incident in which the
8 19-year-old boy died was an incident where the HVO were effectively
9 attacking Santici? That's where people were so frightened.
10 A. I don't know. I don't know who attacked whom, I can't answer
12 Q. This is a sort of - I don't mean this in any sense offensively; on
13 the contrary, it's probably very charming - this is a one-cafe town, isn't
14 it, or a one-cafe village, so that we get the picture of the place. And
15 you're really telling us you can't give us any help with who it was killed
16 this innocent young man?
17 A. I can't say because I don't know.
18 Q. Were you aware later on in -- well, about the same time, actually,
19 a couple of days later, that all Muslims were required to hand their
20 weapons over? That was a requirement made of them by the man Cerkez, were
21 you aware of that, in Vitez?
22 A. I don't know that they all handed over their weapons or that
23 someone ordered that.
24 Q. Do you have some recollection of the HVO requiring that the
25 Muslims should be disarmed? Think back, please.
1 A. I don't know because I just said that I was also working at that
2 time, and until things quieted down. When they did, I went back to work
3 for a while, and I wasn't involved. I only started participating in all
4 of this when we stopped working.
5 Q. You tell us that there were Muslims still at work, and you were
6 the shop steward, and you drove through Vitez every day. Can you really
7 not help us --
8 A. Up until the last day when I was working, there were Muslims
9 working with me. There were people from Ahmici who went to work with me.
10 Q. And then just, I think, the last question for 1992, a number of
11 coffee shops and restaurants and so on belonging to Muslims were blown up
12 in Vitez, weren't they, by HVO soldiers. Do you remember that?
13 A. I know that there were bombings of cafes. I think it wasn't only
14 the Muslim cafes were blown up, but I can add that groups of soldiers
15 would come from Mostar who were disorderly and who caused problems.
16 Q. What were their names, and what was the name of the group you say
17 were causing problems?
18 A. Bruno Busic, I think, and Pavlovic. It was those units from
20 Q. Well, the HVO were controlling the town. What did they say they
21 were doing about it or were they, in fact, welcoming these groups? What
22 was it?
23 A. I don't think the HVO had control over the town. I just mentioned
24 that parts were under Muslim control, other parts were under Croat
25 control. I don't know, but these groups from Herzegovina finally left
2 Q. Under HVO direction, perhaps. Do you know that?
3 A. I don't know.
4 Q. Well, let's come straight on to these village guards. You say
5 that villages guarded the Kuber feature in turn. Well, if we just measure
6 it on the map, it's about six kilometres, as the crow would fly, from
7 Santici to the top of the Kuber feature. Just tell us, please, how did
8 the replacement of one village guard by another occur?
9 A. You mean how did we go up there?
10 Q. No, I mean how did one guard know to replace another? It's six
11 kilometres away, communication never that easy. How was it known that
12 your group would be replaced by another village group?
13 A. Well, four or five villages, we organised ourselves and we agreed
14 that a shift should go. And then the commanders we elected among
15 ourselves. For example, Zeljo Livancic was our commander, they kept in
16 touch. And they would agree among themselves which village would go when,
17 and then he would tell the rest of us. He would come to my house or ring
18 me up and tell me we were going on a certain date and then we would gather
19 together before going up together.
20 Q. So you see you've been giving a picture as it were entirely
21 independent little village guards or small village guards, and you're now
22 describing, as it were, a cooperative arrangement between the village
23 guard leaders; is that right?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. May I have your answers please on a document that we've looked at
1 before, 653, I thought had I brought my copy with me. If you want to use
2 mine rather than trouble the -- I must suggest to you that there must
3 plainly have been some degree of planning for all this guarding of Kuber
4 by different villages. Perhaps it was planning by the HVO. What do you
5 say to that? Was it planned, this guarding of the Kuber feature, by the
6 HVO? Was there some central planning?
7 MR. KOVACIC: Excuse me, Your Honour. As I see, the witness was
8 not given the Croatian text, and probably the title of the document is
9 important to understand.
10 MR. NICE: I'm sorry. I thought the Croatian was attached to the
11 English version. My mistake. We'll have to get the proper version.
12 MR. KOVACIC: If I also may ask my dear colleague not to use this
13 document but the one with the translation, because one witness before was
14 confused by that. He told us in the briefing. We didn't realise.
15 MR. NICE:
16 Q. While we're getting the document, Mr. Santic, just say again, was
17 there some measure of HVO or Viteska Brigade control of the guarding of
18 the Kuber feature? Was there?
19 A. No. We organised it ourselves. We would come together, the
20 representatives of the villages, and discuss it and agree on it. Not all
21 the men but the leaders.
22 Q. Well, then, just for us, please, here's a document that predates
23 the outbreak of the fighting. It's the 14th of April, 1993, the day after
24 you went up to Kuber. It comes from the Viteska Brigade. It speaks of
25 the 1st Battalion of that Viteska Brigade, and it says that so far as
1 Santici is concerned, it was in the 1st Company, under the commander
2 Slavko Papic, and that there were 12 soldiers there. How would you
3 explain that document to us, please?
4 A. I don't know. We contacted only with Zeljo Livancic. He would
5 come and tell me when we would meet and that we were supposed to go to
7 Q. You see, you've told us that there were about ten men from your
8 deployment, from your village, guarding the feature at Kuber.
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. It's not 12. But were there, in fact, a maximum of some 12. I
11 beg your pardon?
12 A. There would be 12 sometimes. But there were ten of us, because
13 some people had problems and they gave up at the last moment and didn't
15 Q. So it looks, doesn't it, as though this document, which is a
16 Viteska Brigade document, is identifying the very 12 men from Santici as
17 members of the 1st Company, under the command of Slavko Papic. Now, can
18 you explain how you're given that position before the outbreak of
19 fighting, please?
20 A. As far as I know, the Vitez Brigade had not been established yet.
21 We were simply members of the HVO and the village guards. The village
22 guards were organised on their own initiative. This is not something I'm
23 familiar with; I have not had an opportunity of seeing it before.
24 Q. Well, you told us when you spoke of what happened on the nights or
25 the days that are more important that your commander had a Motorola. Did
1 you ever use that Motorola yourself?
2 A. No.
3 Q. So you don't know with whom he was communicating when he was
4 trying to find out, as you say, what had happened in the villages.
5 A. Well, I think he tried to ring up someone in the village. I don't
6 know who else had a Motorola. He tried to contact him from where our
7 houses were, because we asked him to tell us what was going on because we
8 didn't know.
9 Q. Of course, there was a communication centre for the HVO in the
10 centre of Vitez, wasn't there?
11 A. Well, I don't know.
12 Q. Equally, you don't know if your commander was communicating with
13 the Vitez communication centre, do you?
14 A. I think he was contacting someone from the village.
15 Q. Yes. Please listen to the question. You've already told us you
16 didn't use it yourself. You don't know one way or another --
17 A. No.
18 Q. -- whether he --
19 A. No.
20 Q. Thank you. Let's go on a little bit, then, to those events, and
21 I'll be interested -- I'm going to pass over the first quarter of 1993 and
22 I'll just deal with the central events.
23 As I understand your evidence, on the morning of the 16th when, as
24 you say, the fog or the mist cleared, it was obvious that there had been
25 terrible events in your village and also in the village of Ahmici;
2 A. We got the real information when two of our men who went to see
3 what had happened came back. It was only then that we learned, and we
4 learned certain details later.
5 Q. Yes. But, Mr. Santic, if you see either your own house or the
6 house next door in flames and you see lots of other houses in flames, it's
7 a pretty terrifying sight, isn't it?
8 A. Of course it is.
9 Q. Thank you. Your wife and children were there.
10 A. No. When this friend of mine came back, he said my wife and
11 children were in the next village.
12 Q. Oh, really. Which village was that?
13 A. In Donja Rovna.
14 Q. This came as a surprise to you, did it?
15 A. Yes. After what had happened there, when I saw that it was
16 burning, I was not surprised to hear that they'd had to flee.
17 Q. As you understand it, they fled after the fighting or before, or
18 do you still not know?
19 A. According to what my wife told me, when the shooting started, that
20 was when they fled. That was when.
21 Q. Just so that we can see it on the map perhaps, the village to
22 which you have been told your wife fled, Donja Rovna. We can see Rovna
23 all right. Where's Donja Rovna?
24 A. Here, where you cross. It's somewhere -- is that the railway
25 track? Well, it's here --
1 Q. Off the road to --
2 A. -- about two kilometres from the road.
3 Q. Off the road to the south.
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Well, now, let's just go back a little bit. Before you ever got
6 news back from the people who had gone down to the village - I'm not going
7 to ask you for the detail of what they told you, because if those people
8 are alive and well, they can always come and tell them themselves - before
9 they came back, you're telling us that you had no knowledge at all of
10 where your wife and children might have been. They could have been in the
11 village and it could have been your house that was on fire; would that be
13 A. They could have been. I didn't know where they were at that
15 Q. And yet you still regard it as your duty to stay on Kuber and not
16 to go down to the village.
17 A. I was serving in the army. I had certain obligations. If I
18 agreed to become a soldier, I could not leave the front line just like
19 that, or my position. Because when I became a soldier, I underwent some
20 training and we had to respect certain rules.
21 Q. So that when you were on the Kuber feature, you were serving as a
22 soldier in accordance with an agreement, it wasn't as a village guard; is
23 that what you're telling us?
24 A. Well, when a man is carrying a weapon and he has a certain task,
25 he has agreed to become a soldier and he feels like a soldier.
1 Q. Mr. Santic, you've been quite concerned to tell us that the
2 village guards were an informal arrangement. You're now telling us that
3 it was so formal on the night -- the morning of the 16th that you were
4 bound by your duties as a soldier so that you couldn't go down and check
5 on your wife and children? Which is it? Is that really true?
6 A. Well, we had certain obligations because we had gone up there, we
7 had volunteered to go. But still, we did send two people to see what was
8 happening. We didn't know what was going on.
9 Q. Before I return to that issue, I'm just going to pick up, for one
10 last question, on your answers about a soldier with obligations. Is the
11 truth revealed in that document you were looking at a few minutes ago;
12 namely, that by this time, before the start of the fighting, you well
13 understood yourself to be a member of the Viteska Brigade, one of the 12
14 people listed from your village?
15 A. We were not in the Vitez Brigade. It was only later that we were
16 given papers saying we were members of the Vitez Brigade. We were simply
17 members of the HVO and the village guard.
18 Q. Very well. Let me come back to this: You didn't go down. Is
19 that because you knew full well that there was going to be an attack by
20 Croats on Muslims?
21 A. We didn't know at all that there would be an attack or whether
22 there was an attack, or what happened.
23 Q. You see, we've had some evidence in this case from a witness
24 called Nura Pezer, transcript 15447 and following, and from another
25 witness, at page 10200, to the effect that before the attack happened,
1 there was pointing out in the village to an unknown man of Muslim houses.
2 Now, I know that you would say that you were on the Kuber feature by the
3 night of the 15th. But one way or another, had you or your commander been
4 informed, perhaps by Motorola, that an attack was about to happen on
5 Muslim properties?
6 A. We didn't know anything. Some people were even sleeping in the
7 shed where we were when the shooting awakened us. They probably wouldn't
8 have gone to sleep if they'd known something.
9 Q. You tell us that you made some returns in the course of this year
10 to your village - again, I'm not going to ask you to tell us what other
11 Santici villagers told you - but when was your first return to your
12 village? How long after the events of the 16th?
13 A. It was about -- well, I was up there for about 15 days non-stop
14 after the 13th, and it was only then that I went home.
15 Q. When you went back, there was a picture of complete devastation so
16 far as the Muslim houses were concerned, and all the Croat houses were
17 left standing; correct?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Staying with the 16th, it's right, isn't it, that there was no
20 question -- oh, I must just deal with one other matter before I come to
21 the 16th because it's in your evidence and summary. You say there was
22 some incident of fighting before the 16th -- not fighting, of gunfire,
23 before the 16th; correct?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. The most you know about it is that you say you heard something
1 from a particular direction. That's the most you know about it yourself.
2 A. Yes, at first.
3 Q. You didn't actually see the gunfire yourself.
4 A. No, because it was foggy and we couldn't see.
5 Q. Thank you. Just yes or no. You were told something by someone
6 else, just yes or no to that, something about this incident.
7 A. No. Maybe if you tell me when, what time you're referring to.
8 Q. You told us you heard that there was a Muslim attack. "They told
9 us there was a Muslim attack." All I want to know is who the "they" is?
10 Who told you this?
11 A. The people -- a Muslim attack? The information came from the
12 people who came from Bilivode, Croats who came to our positions. They
13 had --
14 Q. Yes. Their names?
15 A. I don't know them because it's not close to us. Maybe I knew
16 their names then, but a lot of time has elapsed and I can't remember now.
17 Q. I see. In fact, although it's not in your summary of evidence
18 that you, no doubt, read carefully yesterday, I think you even told the
19 Judges that somebody you understand was killed in this attack. Do you
20 have the name of that person?
21 A. No.
22 Q. Now, do you say that this all came from the direction of Bilivode?
23 A. The direction of Bilivode. They say it's a village. I don't know
24 the area in the direction of Zenica very well. I went to the Kuber
25 feature for the first time only when this war broke out; I wasn't familiar
1 with it before.
2 Q. Now, are you sure there was any such incident in Bilivode before
3 the 17th of April?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Are you sure your memory isn't playing tricks with you?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. And you can't provide any other names, either of the people who
8 gave you the information or of anyone who was killed?
9 A. No, because I don't know those people. They were from other
10 villages. But someone would always pass by and we would talk to them.
11 But I didn't know those people.
12 MR. NICE: Well, Your Honour, the same position: In the absence
13 of any contemporaneous documents recording the incident as early as the
14 dates given by the witness, I have to challenge it. But I can't take the
15 matter further. I accept that there was an incident on the 17th of
16 April. I'm endeavouring to finish before the break.
17 Q. Incidentally, I think you suggest that you were forced into a
18 position at Kratine, or you moved to a position at Kratine; is that right?
19 A. When we came down from Kuber, we went to Kratine, yes.
20 Q. Are you aware of an incident there involving a family of people on
21 a tractor who were killed, I think, by a man called Bralo? Are you aware
22 of that as an incident, or any part of that incident?
23 A. No.
24 Q. As to the people who came to your -- I should have dealt with it
25 in its order, I'm sorry. You speak of some fire on you on the 16th of
1 April; is that correct?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. That happened later in the day than, of course, the attacks on
4 Ahmici and Santici, didn't it; much later in the day?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Mid-afternoon?
7 A. A few hours.
8 Q. Yes.
9 A. There was shooting before noon, the dum-dum bullets. That
10 happened then.
11 Q. But this is after the attack on what we know to be the Muslim
12 parts of these other villages, and you are quite unable to say what
13 happened to you was in reaction to what happened down below in the valley
14 or not?
15 A. I didn't know yet that was why.
16 Q. Very well. So far as the people who were brought to dig trenches,
17 the ones who came in what you call in your summary "the compulsory work
18 platoon," were brought under guard and they were under compulsion, weren't
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. And when they were obliged to dig trenches, they were exposed,
22 even in your area, to the danger of being fired on by Muslims who, you
23 tell us, might have been likely to attack you?
24 A. Well, just as we were. Because if there was firing, they would
25 take shelter as well.
1 Q. But these were Muslim trench diggers compelled to dig trenches in
2 places where they might be fired upon by Muslims; correct?
3 A. Well, we dug together with them and they dug with us, and we took
4 cover together if there was shooting.
5 Q. I think that answers that point. Perhaps I can just ask the
6 witness to look at one exhibit and then I'm done. Exhibit 699, and if
7 it's difficult -- thank you.
8 This is a document that's dated the 17th of April at 6.15 in the
9 evening and it comes from Blaskic, and it's to commanders of two units,
10 the Viteska and the Zrinjski, and also to the 4th Military Police and so
11 on. And it speaks of Muslim forces increasing in the area of Kuber
12 because of the safety of the Kaonik-Vitez road with the objective of
13 preventing the enemy from seizing and taking control. He ordered a
14 defence line in the wider area of Kuber with forces of the Viteska Brigade
15 which are then identified.
16 Just two things, really. Was the 17th of April about the first
17 time there was any real question of risk or fighting of any significant
18 type in the Kuber feature?
19 A. Well, there was danger with respect to the events that had already
20 happened, although I've never seen this.
21 Q. Was this defence line that was being formed by the Viteska
22 Brigade, as far as you can judge looking at this order, the defence line
23 in which you were involved?
24 A. It probably implies something because it's Kratine. It says Kuber
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French
13 and English transcripts.
1 Q. Does it appear that this is the work you were doing under your
2 commander for the time being, you forming --
3 A. We attempted to organise the defence line up there and that was
4 the objective because we had received reports that some Muslim forces had
5 been observed there and therefore we wanted to organise ourselves as best
6 as possible. We were worried.
7 MR. NICE: Your Honour, I think I've finished. If re-examination
8 is going to be after the break, and given that we've come to these
9 witnesses rather late because of -- if I could just keep open the
10 possibility of asking another question after the break, I would be
12 JUDGE MAY: We'll take the break for half an hour. Mr. Santic,
13 don't speak to anybody about your evidence during the break until it's
14 over. Don't let anybody speak to you about it. Thank you. Yes, we'll
15 sit again just after half past 11.00.
16 --- Recess taken at 11.04 a.m.
17 --- On resuming at 11.34 a.m.
18 MR. NICE: Just one more very small topic, possibly one more
20 Q. Mr. Santic, on the 16th of April when the ten of you were up there
21 on Kuber defending it, you were, were you, the only people up there, to
22 your knowledge, defending Kuber at that time?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. And the only means of communication was the Motorola that your
25 commander had?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. So if the witness could look, please, at 684 - incidentally this
3 is a document which matches a later-produced, I think, Defence exhibit
4 D92/1 but I'll stick with 684.
5 Now, if you'd look at this document, please, in the original,
6 we'll have the English version on the ELMO. This is an order coming from
7 Blaskic on the 16th at 1945 hours in the evening, and it goes to the
8 Zrinjski Brigade in Busovaca, but that's not what I'm interested in. If
9 you look at the content of the order, Mr. Santic, you'll see that in item
10 one, it's headed for the "Defence of Kuber". Item one is, "Extremist
11 Muslim forces are advancing from Gornji Zenica." And then item two is the
12 task of the Zrinjski Brigade, which is to reinforce the defence of Kuber.
13 And it then says in item three, "You are to coordinate your actions with
14 the Viteska Brigade and make sure that Kuber doesn't fall."
15 Now, in two ways he's referring, really, to the existing defence
16 of Kuber because he says, "You're to reinforce the defence and to
17 coordinate with the Viteska Brigade." Your ten men were the only ten men
18 there defending Kuber, that's correct, you've already told me that, isn't
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Blaskic knew, obviously, of the existence of your work there
22 because he speaks of reinforcing what you were doing, doesn't he?
23 A. Probably, but we were up there alone.
24 Q. And basically what Blaskic is apparently saying is that will the
25 Zrinjski Brigade from Busovaca join forces with the Viteska Brigade. The
1 Viteska Brigade was you at that time, wasn't it, so far as the Kuber
2 feature was concerned?
3 A. Whether it was the Vitez Brigade, whether it was formed at the
4 time or not, I don't know. I learned only later that I was, in fact, a
5 member of the Vitez Brigade. But at that time, and during the attacks, we
6 were up there alone.
7 Q. Responding via your commander and via Vitez to Blaskic?
8 A. I don't know that. I never saw this document. I'm looking at it
9 for the first time.
10 MR. NICE: Thank you.
11 Re-examined by Mr. Mikulicic:
12 Q. Thank you. [Interpretation] Mr. Santic, we consider that this
13 matter has not been cleared up sufficiently so I should like to go back to
14 it and the events that you described at the Kuber feature. First of all,
15 an introductory question. The concept of Kuber, the name Kuber, is that
16 the name of a mountain or is it the name of one concentrated spot, place?
17 A. Where we were, that was --
18 Q. No, listen to me. Listen to what I'm asking you. The word
19 "Kuber," does it denote a mountain?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Is it true that that mountain stretches from the Vitez
22 municipality into the Busovaca municipality?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. According to your free assessment, how long or wide is that
1 A. Several kilometres.
2 Q. In your testimony, when you say that you went to Kuber, do you
3 mean that you went to one particular spot which is located on Mount Kuber?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Unless I'm mistaken, you described this place as Gola Kosa?
6 A. Yes, a little above Gola Kosa.
7 Q. Now, please look at the map on your right-hand side and indicate
8 where Gola Kosa is or where your position was exactly.
9 A. This is Gola Kosa.
10 Q. And you were a little above it, is that right, a little higher up?
11 A. Yes, quite a bit higher up. Perhaps a kilometre or more higher
13 Q. So underneath the "K" for Kuber, the "K" for Mount Kuber?
14 A. Yes, that's right.
15 Q. And looking at it from the south-east, that is right on the map,
16 the mountain stretches towards Busovaca; is that correct?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. What you were telling us about your shift at Kuber, Mr. Santic,
19 this relates to that location where you actually were?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. And you do not know who was, say, four kilometres away from you on
22 that same mountain?
23 A. No.
24 Q. Or two kilometres away from you?
25 A. No.
1 Q. Or who was on Mount Kuber in the Busovaca municipality?
2 A. No.
3 Q. You don't know that?
4 A. No, I do not know that.
5 Q. You were further asked about an incident which occurred, and I
6 think that there was a slight misunderstanding over that. You told us
7 that on the 13th you arrived and took up your position at Kuber; is that
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. And that one or two days later, that you heard shooting from the
11 direction of Bilivode?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. That was before the 16th, was it not?
14 A. Yes, before the 16th.
15 Q. And you said that, later on, you heard that during this shooting
16 one person was killed and two people were wounded?
17 A. Well, I heard that someone was wounded and that one man was
19 Q. So that was before the 16th?
20 A. Yes, before the 16th.
21 Q. An incident was brought up that took place at the end of 1992 on
22 which occasion a young Muslim was killed?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Is it true that word of this incident which took place at the --
25 on the main road below the village of Ahmici at the Catholic cemetery, was
1 that it?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. And is it true that it wasn't an incident between you villagers
4 but an incident, as you said, the army that passed by there?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Do you know where the army came from which was moving along that
8 A. Well, it came from Busovaca, from up there.
9 Q. Do you know, and the Trial Chamber has already heard testimony
10 about this, that on the occasion a member of the HVO was killed?
11 A. On that occasion?
12 Q. Yes. Do you know about that or not?
13 A. No, I don't know about that.
14 Q. Thank you. But at any rate, it wasn't an incident which was
15 linked to the neighbouring villages and the neighbouring villagers.
16 A. No.
17 Q. Do you happen to know --
18 MR. NICE: I'm sorry to interrupt. Nearly all the questions are
19 of a leading and tendentious nature, and it really isn't very helpful.
20 MR. MIKULICIC: [Interpretation] Very well. I shall abide by that
21 criticism and try to put my questions in a different way.
22 Q. You were asked, Mr. Santic, about some individuals which the
23 military police brought to your defence lines for the purpose of
24 trench-digging. I asked you and you told me that they were brought and
25 taken away by the military police, but the military police was not present
1 while they were doing the actual digging; is that correct?
2 A. Yes, that's correct.
3 Q. Therefore, those people were under guard on their journey out and
4 their journey back. But what about their situation when they were up at
5 the front line?
6 A. They could move about quite normally and work quite normally.
7 They had breakfast and lunch with us, had the same food.
8 Q. Your father was among them, was he not?
9 A. Yes, that's right.
10 Q. Thank you. Mr. Santic, you were shown a document, which was in
11 fact an order by Colonel Blaskic, which describes the positions to be
12 taken up by the Vitez Brigade. For reference purposes, this was document
13 Z699. I should like to draw your attention, first of all, to the title of
14 the document. It was sent, among others, to the 4th Battalion of the
15 military police, the 4th Military Police Battalion. On the position you
16 were located at, did you ever see a member of the military police as a
17 defence of that position?
18 A. No. They would just come with the people coming up in the work
19 platoons, and then they would go back and come back to fetch them in the
21 Q. But not in any fighting capacity, combat capacity.
22 A. No.
23 Q. Another question in that regard. Point 1 speaks of the formation
24 of a defence line in the area of Kuber with the forces of the Vitez
25 Brigade starting out from - please take a look at the map on your
1 right-hand side - the village of Vidovici. Point to the village of
2 Vidovici for us, please.
3 A. [Indicates]
4 Q. Thank you. Then feature 514.
5 A. [Indicates]
6 Q. And feature 646, I don't know if you can see it. But you can see
7 the village of Jelinak. Point the village of Jelinak out to us.
8 A. This is Loncari, and Jelinak is a little further above.
9 Q. There we have it.
10 A. And above Jelinak we have Obla Glava.
11 Q. Is it true, Mr. Santic, that these places, Obla Glava and Jelinak,
12 are in the Busovaca municipality?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. You say that you were at the Gola Kosa position. Is it obvious,
15 then, Mr. Santic, to whom this order refers? Was it to your group of
16 seven persons, or did it refer to somebody else?
17 A. Probably to somebody else.
18 MR. MIKULICIC: [Interpretation] Thank you. I think I have
19 exhausted all my questions. Thank you for your answers, Mr. Santic.
20 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Santic, that concludes your evidence. Thank you
21 for coming to the Tribunal to give it. You are free to go.
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you too, Your Honours.
23 [The witness withdrew]
24 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Nice, we've put off dealing with the documents.
25 It might be convenient to deal with them now.
1 MR. NICE: Unless Judge Robinson is going to be back this
3 JUDGE MAY: He will be.
4 MR. NICE: It will be more convenient between the second and third
5 witness. I don't think that the second witness is going to take very
7 JUDGE MAY: If it's a matter which we should all hear, of course
8 we'll do it this afternoon.
9 MR. NICE: I think it would probably be preferable for Judge
10 Robinson to hear it directly.
11 JUDGE MAY: Yes. We'll have the next witness.
12 MR. KOVACIC: Your Honour, if you will permit me while we are
13 waiting for the witness. We will use four documents with that witness,
14 describing the events she will be talking about. Probably it would be
15 better if I give it to the registrar; we may spare a minute or two for
16 distribution. Then I will just identify the documents.
17 JUDGE MAY: Yes.
18 [The witness entered court]
19 JUDGE MAY: Yes. Let the witness take the declaration.
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
21 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
22 WITNESS: LJUBICA GRABOVAC
23 [Witness answered through interpreter]
24 JUDGE MAY: If you would like to take a seat.
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
1 Examined by Mr. Kovacic:
2 Q. [Interpretation] Good morning, Mrs. Grabovac. Thank you for
3 responding to our invitation to come here.
4 For the record, would you please state your name and surname
5 clearly, your date and place of birth.
6 A. My name is Ljubica Grabovac. I am from Vitez. I was born on the
7 16th of March, 1955, in the village of Cukle, Travnik municipality.
8 Q. Mrs. Grabovac, are you married, and do you have any children?
9 A. I am married, and I have two children.
10 Q. By nationality you are a?
11 A. By nationality I'm a Serb.
12 Q. Of which faith?
13 A. The Orthodox faith.
14 Q. Are you currently working?
15 A. At the moment I'm on the waiting list.
16 Q. Does that mean that you're a housewife at this point in time?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Do you hope to find a job soon, once again?
19 A. I hope so, yes.
20 Q. Thank you. Mrs. Grabovac, with respect to your particulars, you
21 are obviously not what you in Vitez call a true person of Vitez; is that
23 A. Yes, it is.
24 Q. When did you come to take up residence in Vitez, and why?
25 A. I began living in Vitez from April 1989, when I married.
1 Q. Thank you. Is it true that Kruscica is the largest place in the
2 Vitez municipality after the town of Vitez itself?
3 A. Yes, that's right.
4 Q. According to the national composition, what kind of place is
6 A. Kruscica is a multiethnic village.
7 Q. Which ethnicity is most prevalent in Kruscica?
8 A. The Muslims are the majority population, followed by the Croats,
9 the Serbs, and there are some Romanies or Gypsies.
10 Q. So we can see that the population was truly a mixed one.
11 A. Yes, that's right.
12 Q. When we speak about Kruscica, you locals, when you use that name,
13 is it true that you include under the notion of Kruscica the whole of
14 Kruscica? So if we look at the road going up towards the hill, which is
15 the main part of Kruscica, you actually mean the surrounding areas, Sofa
16 and Toljusici; is that correct?
17 A. Yes, that's right.
18 Q. To inform the Trial Chamber, because there were several questions
19 about this, the area referred to as Rijeka is the borderline area
20 bordering on Kruscica; is that right?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Since 1989 to the present day, what have you learned about --
23 where does Rijeka end and Kruscica begin? Is that a clearly defined
25 A. As far as I know, it's not clearly defined, no.
1 Q. So when somebody says, "from the upper part of Rijeka," that could
2 also mean from Kruscica; is that true?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Or when they say, "from the lower part of Kruscica," that could
5 actually mean Rijeka, couldn't it?
6 A. Yes, that's right.
7 Q. As far as the distribution of the ethnic groups are concerned, are
8 you able to tell us where they were in Kruscica, how they were
10 A. In the upper part of Kruscica, there were mostly Muslims living
11 there, and a smaller number of Croats. In lower Kruscica, there were
12 Croats, Serbs, Romanies, and a smaller portion of Muslims.
13 Q. The two villages of Bobasi and Fatina Vodica, are they considered
14 to be parts of Kruscica as well?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Would it be correct to say that these hamlets, as you look from
17 Kruscica towards town, that they are on the left flank of Kruscica? Would
18 that be correct?
19 A. Looking towards town on the left-hand side. Yes, that's right.
20 JUDGE MAY: I don't think that you established it, but I take it
21 from the evidence that the lady lived in Kruscica. Perhaps you better get
22 that straight.
23 MR. KOVACIC: Yes, Your Honour, I'm just coming to that.
24 Q. [Interpretation] Mrs. Grabovac, now that we have described the
25 area to all intents and purposes and the places that exist there, could
1 you describe to us actually where you lived?
2 A. I lived at Kruscica number 3, that's my address, which is at the
3 crossroads between the upper part and lower part of Kruscica.
4 Q. So your house at that time, according to the administrative
5 division, was undoubtedly in Kruscica because that's your address. But as
6 you say, this is somewhere in the middle of the zone that is referred to
7 as upper and lower Kruscica; is that right?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Am I going too fast? That term upper and lower Kruscica, they are
10 not official administrative names, are they?
11 A. No.
12 Q. They are terms used by the local inhabitants when describing this
14 A. Yes, in order to determine the locality in greater detail.
15 Q. Thank you. And so that we do not have to come back to this, could
16 you specify the location of Toljusici as against your house, your then
18 A. On a hill above as you go from the town to the right.
19 Q. Can you tell us roughly how far is your house from the first house
20 in the part to which the people refer as Toljusici, roughly?
21 A. Ten minutes on foot.
22 Q. Thank you. Is it correct, Mrs. Grabovac, that on the 16th of
23 April, 1993, to your knowledge, an open conflict broke out in the area in
24 which you lived?
25 A. Could you repeat the question, please?
1 Q. When did the open conflict between the BH army and the HVO in the
2 area in which you lived begin?
3 A. I wouldn't really know the exact answer.
4 Q. But which day do you perceive as the beginning of the war in the
5 area in which you lived?
6 A. When the armed fighting broke out between Croats and Muslims, and
7 one -- when one could not leave the town any longer.
8 Q. Do you remember the date?
9 A. I don't.
10 Q. But would it be April 1993?
11 A. Yes, that is taken as the official date.
12 Q. Would it jog your memory if I told you that it was the 16th of
13 April, 1993?
14 A. Well, thereabouts, yes.
15 Q. Thank you. And on that day when the conflict began, even if you
16 cannot remember the date, what was the first thing that you heard that
17 day? How did you learn that a conflict had begun?
18 A. I heard gunfire early in the morning.
19 Q. And could you establish, could you define the direction from which
20 it came?
21 A. To me, it sounded like coming from all directions.
22 Q. Was there any gunfire in the immediate vicinity of your house?
23 A. No.
24 Q. And finally, did you know what was going on from those first
25 sounds that you heard?
1 A. No.
2 Q. And on the days that followed, did you hear about what Croats from
3 the upper part of Kruscica had done when the conflict began?
4 A. No.
5 Q. Did they stay in Kruscica?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. All the Croats stayed in Kruscica, did they?
8 A. No. Excuse me, could you repeat what part of Kruscica do you
10 Q. The upper part of Kruscica.
11 A. No, they had been expelled.
12 Q. Did you hear anything about it or did you have an opportunity to
13 talk about this with the group of HVO soldiers who were up there?
14 A. I heard about it.
15 Q. Would you know when was that exactly?
16 A. I cannot really pinpoint the time but it was towards the end of
17 spring or perhaps in the early days of summer 1993.
18 Q. And in relation to the date of the beginning of the conflict,
19 could you say, perhaps, if it was 5 days, 10 days, 15, 20 days, after a
20 couple of days, or perhaps longer?
21 A. No, I cannot say.
22 Q. Thank you. Not far from your house, there was a large garage
23 which was -- which belonged to one Vinko Miskovic; is that correct?
24 A. Yes, it is.
25 Q. And that garage, was it used as something that had been designated
1 as a shelter before in case of an attack or something?
2 A. I wouldn't know.
3 Q. And at the time when the conflict began, did anyone come to the
4 garage and put you there?
5 A. No, it was people who had fled Kruscica, the upper part of
6 Kruscica went there.
7 MR. KOVACIC: I was thinking about showing the witness a map but
8 when I tried, witness really doesn't have orientation on the map so I'm
9 skipping that.
10 Q. [Interpretation] And how many, approximately how many people found
11 themselves in that garage?
12 A. About 50.
13 Q. Those were men, women, children or what?
14 A. Children, women and elderly.
15 Q. Were there any able-bodied men?
16 A. No.
17 Q. We already talked about various localities. Could you tell us
18 from what parts of Kruscica did those people -- had those people fled?
19 A. From the upper part of Kruscica, Bobasi and Toljusici.
20 Q. Mrs. Grabovac, could you tell us, when did the first UNHCR
21 humanitarian convoy come, using the road through Kruscica?
22 A. It was some seven years ago. I cannot really give you the date.
23 All I can say is that it was late May or early June.
24 Q. So we shall agree late spring, early summer?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. And those convoys then continued coming regularly; is that
3 A. It is.
4 Q. Could you tell us the frequency; once a week, once in two weeks,
5 or how?
6 A. Well, as a rule, once a week, sometimes even more often.
7 Q. Thank you. And the convoys were escorted?
8 A. Correct.
9 Q. Who did that, who escorted those convoys?
10 A. UNPROFOR APCs.
11 Q. Those were those painted white, were they?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. And they had conspicuous emblems of the United Nations, didn't
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. And there were soldiers under arms in them?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. But the APCs also have their own weapons, don't they?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. And what was the reaction of the population around there, and
21 especially the refugees, to the arrival of those convoys?
22 A. The reaction was not hostile. All we wanted was them to talk to
23 us and give us some of the relief which we needed.
24 Q. Were those men indignant that they were not getting any relief
1 A. You mean refugees? Yes.
2 Q. And apart from refugees, you, the residents of that part of
3 Kruscica, were you also indignant about it?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Did you know what was the destination of that humanitarian relief,
6 who was it intended for?
7 A. Yes, we did know.
8 Q. And who was it?
9 A. It was the Muslim part of the population in Gornja Kruscica.
10 Q. Perhaps in a few words you could describe the reaction of the
11 people. What did they do and how did they behave with regard to those
13 A. When we could hear the sound of the UN APCs approaching followed
14 by trucks with humanitarian aid, then a refugee or one of us, I mean the
15 local population, we would inform others, and we would come out into the
16 street to block the passage of those convoys so as to make them give us
17 part of that humanitarian aid because those refugees were hungry, they
18 were poorly clothed, and they needed to be fed. We, ourselves, did not
19 have enough food.
20 Q. And in those early days, did anyone extend any aid to those
22 A. No, only the locals.
23 Q. So we could say neighbours?
24 A. Yes, some neighbours, friends.
25 Q. But was food in plentiful supply at that time?
1 A. Generally, no.
2 Q. You mentioned when you tried to describe the mood. How much was
3 an egg at the time, if you had to buy it?
4 A. An egg was five marks, five German marks.
5 Q. One egg you mean?
6 A. One egg.
7 Q. And from the UNPROFOR escort, or rather from the leaders of those
8 convoys, did you ask them to give some of the food to you?
9 A. Yes, we did.
10 Q. And what was the reaction?
11 A. They talked with us, but they could not give us anything. They
12 could not promise us anything so that we were not given anything.
13 Q. And to you who came out to meet those convoys, did anyone outside
14 the circle of people that you mentioned from the municipal authority or
15 the military HVO component, did any one of them give you any instructions
16 as to how to treat those convoys?
17 A. No. Nobody ever gave us any instructions. We all did it on our
18 own spontaneously.
19 Q. And the convoys continued to arrive?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Did you try to intercept every convoy?
22 A. We did not succeed in that.
23 Q. So is it true that you did manage to stop some of them and some
24 you didn't?
25 A. And some we didn't because there were several routes into upper
1 Kruscica, and I was only on that one access road, the main one.
2 Q. And on that road, did it ever happen when, after a lot of talking,
3 persuasion and so on and so forth, did you let convoys through or did they
4 have to go back?
5 A. In the beginning they had to go back, but later on we would let
6 them through.
7 Q. And in those negotiations, were those negotiations ever joined or
8 participated by somebody who represented the municipality?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Do you remember who that was?
11 A. Mr. Pero Skopljak would come.
12 Q. And what would he try to achieve?
13 A. He tried to calm us and to talk us out of stopping those
14 humanitarian convoys for Kruscica.
15 Q. Do you, perhaps, remember what kind of argument did he use in
16 order to talk you out of doing that?
17 A. At that time, the International Community or whoever it was, the
18 UNHCR or UNPROFOR put pressure on the civilian authorities that they
19 should then put their pressure on us to let this humanitarian aid through.
20 Q. And did you heed to that Pero Skopljak's plea?
21 A. No.
22 Q. Why not?
23 A. Because we needed humanitarian aid.
24 Q. You mentioned that there were also some other routes leading into
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. And from your knowledge, how many options were there for the
3 trucks to get into Kruscica?
4 A. I know four roads leading into Kruscica. There are two roads
5 through Kruscica, it is where I was, then via Rijeka, through Vranjska,
6 and Mount Kruscica towards Novi Travnik. That is part of Novi Travnik
7 controlled by the BH army.
8 Q. The first two routes that you mentioned, they are practically
9 parallel. They go from the main road southward, that is, Kruscica?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. And both those roads are flanked by houses, aren't they?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. And the third route, which is slightly roundabout via Rijeka, via
14 Vranjska to Kruscica, is it also flanked by houses on both its sides?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. But there are also parts which are not inhabited?
17 A. Yes, there is mountain, forest where there are no people living.
18 Q. And UNPROFOR APCs did usually use such paths?
19 A. I wouldn't really know.
20 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Could the witness be shown this
21 first document of the 26th of May, 1993 signed by Mr. Ivan Santic.
22 [In English] I believe, Your Honour, I should give the
23 explanation. As you can see, the original of the letter is not a typed
24 document. It is written by hand by Mr. Santic, Ivan, at least as it says
25 in the signature. And the first one on English, it is originally
1 translated document at that time since it was sent to UNPROFOR in
2 English. It is not our translation.
3 Q. [Interpretation] Mrs. Grabovac, I showed you this letter yesterday
4 or the day before yesterday when we talked. Does it reflect those
5 interventions of the municipality, Mr. Skopljak?
6 A. Yes, it does.
7 Q. In those critical days, did you hear the municipality tried to do
8 something both with UNPROFOR and you to pacify you and, on the other hand,
9 to prevail upon UNPROFOR to do something? Did you know anything about it?
10 A. Only when we had a meeting with Pero Skopljak, yes. He said
11 pressure was brought on him so pressure will be brought on us.
12 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Very well. Will the witness be
13 shown the next document or, sorry, we need a number for this document.
14 THE REGISTRAR: This document is D106/2.
15 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] And the next document of the 22nd of
16 June, signed by a group of women, it says in brackets, "(Women from the
17 Hamlet of Toljusici)." It's a little bit different but we can go on this
18 one. Okay.
19 THE REGISTRAR: This is document D107/2.
20 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
21 Q. Mrs. Grabovac, will you please read it, and I have only one
22 question to ask you about it. Would you conclude from its contents that
23 it also refers to the events that you described to us?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. It mentions the shelling from Kruscica, and according to the
1 symmetry of this letter, it came in the wake of the humanitarian relief
2 delivered in Kruscica. Could you tell us something about that?
3 A. Well, that was another thing which really irked us. Apart from
4 not getting us humanitarian aid, which we needed, every time the convoy
5 would go back, that is, UNPROFOR and the UNHCR, every time they left, we
6 would be shelled and other heavy artillery weapons would be turned on us.
7 Q. What were the rumours that spread among people regarding those
8 shells? What link was established between those convoys and the shelling?
9 A. Well, we suspected that UNPROFOR representatives were delivering
10 weapons to that part of Kruscica.
11 Q. Do you know for certain that this was true?
12 A. No, not for certain. But we had reason to suspect that because
13 they never gave us unarmed women an opportunity to see what was being
14 transported in those trucks.
15 Q. Does that mean that when you stopped the convoys, at least in some
16 situations, you asked to be shown that it was food that was being
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. And this was always refused?
20 A. Yes, it was always refused.
21 Q. When there was shelling, were any civilians killed or wounded?
22 A. One was wounded and one was killed.
23 Q. How did this influence the tension among the local people and the
24 indignation they felt?
25 A. Well, it did affect the feelings of indignation. But the
1 prevailing feeling was that we mothers had to look after the safety of our
2 children, and that is why we would take them to safe places and we would
3 often let those convoys pass through.
4 Q. In the end, did you give up, and when was that? When did you give
5 up trying to stop those convoys?
6 A. Well, when we saw that there was nothing we could achieve, that no
7 help was brought to any of us by any of those trucks in spite of their
8 promises, and our safety was threatened, that was when we gave up stopping
9 those convoys. I think it was sometime in the middle of August 1993.
10 Q. Let's clear up one other point. You said that you were present at
11 a meeting when Mr. Pero Skopljak was there. Do you remember that there
12 were other meetings with the civilian authorities from Vitez, or any other
13 authorities, in which some people participated and others did not? Were
14 you present at any other meeting?
15 A. No, I wasn't.
16 Q. Did you hear of other meetings?
17 A. Yes, I did.
18 Q. Let us now go back to this document. [In English] It is dated the
19 2nd of June. But in the header there's the title "Women of Toljusici
21 THE REGISTRAR: This is document D108/2.
22 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
23 Q. Mrs. Grabovac, would you please take a look at this document, see
24 what it contains. Look at the signatures, the time.
25 Mrs. Grabovac, let me ask you first of all, is your signature
1 among these eight signatures here?
2 A. No.
3 Q. Do you know any of the names signed here?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Can you confirm that these are women who participated like you in
6 these activities?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. Let me ask you this: If you had been given this document to sign
9 at the time it was written, would you have signed it?
10 A. Yes, I would.
11 Q. Does that mean that you accept the claims made in this letter?
12 A. Yes, I do.
13 Q. For the sake of illustration, where was your husband at that time?
14 A. At work.
15 Q. Was your husband ever at the front line, defending the village?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. We may need some of these details later. You said that you can
18 recognise some of these names. Can you tell us which names you
19 recognise? What persons --
20 JUDGE MAY: Do we need all this detail, I wonder?
21 MR. KOVACIC: I just wanted to contribute to the authenticity of
22 the document. Nothing else.
23 JUDGE MAY: At the moment, the authenticity has not been
24 challenged. So why don't you allow that to happen.
25 MR. KOVACIC: Yes, okay. [Interpretation] We need not go into
1 this any further.
2 [In English] Can we have a number for the document?
3 THE REGISTRAR: I gave the number.
4 MR. KOVACIC: Oh, you did. I'm sorry. I would kindly ask that
5 the last document be shown to the witness.
6 Q. [Interpretation] Mrs. Grabovac, we will show you another
7 document. Would you please look at it in Croatian, and would you look at
8 the title and items 1 and 2.
9 THE REGISTRAR: This is document D108/2.
10 JUDGE MAY: I thought the last one was 108.
11 THE REGISTRAR: I'm sorry. D109/2.
12 MR. KOVACIC: Your Honours, I believe that I'm due to make a short
13 explanation. As you can see, we did not translate the other items after
14 3, so from 3 to 6, only the first two, because they are entirely
15 irrelevant for that document. And we got the document only three days
16 before, so we were simply not able to.
17 JUDGE MAY: Very well.
18 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
19 Q. Mrs. Grabovac, you have seen the first two items. Do you agree
20 that these items refer to the events you have spoken about?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Will you tell us, if you remember, on those occasions when you
23 stopped the convoys, did the civilian police ever arrive and try to remove
24 you from the road?
25 A. Yes, they did come.
1 Q. What was your reaction to this?
2 A. Well, we tried to convince them too that we were right to be doing
3 this, and everything ended in talks.
4 Q. Very well. Do you believe that the conclusion under number 2 was
5 initiated by the letter from the women of Toljusici, asking for ammunition
6 for their husbands who were defending the village?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. Did you ever hear anything about the situation having improved in
9 the defence of the village after these letters?
10 A. No, I never heard anything like that.
11 Q. Very well. Thank you. Mrs. Grabovac, did it ever happen that the
12 HVO army intervened in your relations with the convoy?
13 A. The HVO army never intervened.
14 Q. Did you personally know Mario Cerkez at that time?
15 A. No, not personally.
16 Q. Do you know where his family lived?
17 A. I know now. I'm not sure I knew it then.
18 Q. Where was it? Can you tell us in relation to the place where the
19 convoys were stopped?
20 A. You mean where they lived?
21 Q. Yes.
22 A. It was some five or six houses further on from the spot where the
23 convoys were stopped.
24 Q. Did you ever see or hear the wife or mother of the accused Cerkez
25 participating in the stopping of convoys?
1 A. I never heard of it. And we resented it a little.
2 Q. Did you know that Mario Cerkez at that time was the commander of
3 the Vitez Brigade, or had you heard about it?
4 A. Well, I heard about it.
5 Q. So why did you resent this?
6 A. For the simple reason that the refugees and we, the local
7 population, were exposing our children and ourselves to danger, but
8 certain people did not come.
9 Q. In the end, madam, just one more question. Do you remember in any
10 of these encounters with the convoys and the escorts of the convoys, did
11 you talk to a tall, good-looking gentleman in a white uniform with the
12 insignia of an Observer of the European Community, who introduced himself
13 as Henk Morsink? Does that mean anything to you?
14 A. No.
15 Q. No. Very well. Thank you.
16 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] I have no further questions.
17 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Your Honour, the Defence of
18 Mr. Kordic has no questions for this witness. Thank you.
19 Cross-examined by Mr. Scott:
20 Q. Good afternoon.
21 A. Good day.
22 Q. Mrs. Grabovac, just a few questions for you. In your statement
23 that was provided to us by counsel, I just wanted to confirm, you went
24 into some detail in describing the ethnic makeup of Kruscica and the
25 surrounding, if you will, hamlets or connected villages. And I just
1 wanted to confirm with you in paragraph 2.1 you said that you made the
2 point of saying that before the conflict started in April of 1993, that
3 these various ethnic groups, this community, lived together in peace; is
4 that correct?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Now, concerning your statements about the letter that -- one of
7 the last letters that counsel showed you about the supply of ammunition,
8 an order that was felt to be necessary to return fire, that was the
9 document, for the record, D108/2. I take it from that, would you confirm
10 the accuracy of that letter, Mrs. Grabovac, that you had, in fact, some
11 information, you had some knowledge of such military matters in the area
12 as the supply or availability of ammunition and heavy weapons; is that
14 A. I only had information I heard from others, from what people said.
15 Q. All right. But in response to counsel's questions about, again,
16 D108/2 which you indicated you were in agreement with and then, in fact,
17 had you been given the opportunity, you would have signed the letter, the
18 first paragraph makes reference to the need for ammunition and makes the
19 statement having in mind, for instance, heavy arms. If it would help for
20 you to have the document in front of you, I would certainly ask the usher
21 to put it in front of you.
22 My question to you, Mrs. Grabovac, again is: Does that not
23 indicate information or knowledge by yourself and these eight women who
24 signed, apparently who signed this document, of such matters? The need
25 for an adequate quantity of ammunition and weapons, having in mind heavy
1 weapons, in order to return fire? Yes, no?
2 A. Please, could you repeat your question?
3 Q. All right.
4 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Scott, I don't know that we're going to get very
5 much further.
6 MR. SCOTT: All right. I assume, Your Honour, that from the
7 document itself the point is made and I'll move on. Before turning to the
8 blockade and I can tell the Court, Mr. President, that my questions will
9 be very short just by a matter of minutes, few minutes.
10 Q. Before we turn to the question of the blockade and the convoys,
11 specifically, you mentioned this concern or suspicion that UNPROFOR or
12 international vehicles were carrying or transporting ammunition to the, if
13 you will, Muslim enclave, in Kruscica. Now, ma'am, did you ever see any
14 actual evidence of that or was that just speculation?
15 A. I never personally saw any evidence because they never allowed us
16 to look into the trucks transporting humanitarian aid.
17 Q. And did you know, ma'am, that, in fact, that was the policy of
18 these international organisations such as UNPROFOR and UNHCR that they did
19 not allow, as a matter of policy, their vehicles to be inspected? Were
20 you aware of that?
21 A. We didn't want to inspect UNPROFOR vehicles, but only the trucks
22 carrying humanitarian aid.
23 Q. All right. But to close on that, Mrs. Grabovac, you did not, in
24 fact, ever see any ammunition being transported; is that correct?
25 A. No.
1 Q. Mrs. Grabovac, let me suggest to you, or in the terminology in the
2 Court, let me put it to you, please, and I mean that in a polite way, if I
3 can say that, that allowing for some moments when there might have been
4 some spontaneity of action, wasn't it truth, ma'am, that the blockade of
5 movement to blockade and stop the convoys was part of a premeditated and
6 deliberate HVO policy; isn't that correct?
7 A. It is not correct.
8 Q. Well, I take it you're saying it's not correct based on these
9 particular actions around Kruscica, but my question for the moment is
10 broader, if you know. Did you know - at this time, I will not go into
11 the evidence that the Court may recall, but there was various -- there
12 was, in fact, an HVO policy or it was that the stopping of convoys, the
13 stopping of humanitarian aid were used as a tool or device of HVO policy;
14 were you aware of that?
15 A. No, I was not aware of that.
16 Q. Were you aware of the fact, ma'am, that specifically in connection
17 with the times that counsel has asked you about and these areas, that
18 orders had been given, including by Colonel Blaskic himself, that all
19 access into these villages, including Kruscica, be stopped and prevented.
20 Were you aware of such orders?
21 A. No, I was not aware of them.
22 MR. SCOTT: I'm going to move through this very quickly but only
23 to assist, Your Honour, I'm going to ask the usher put in front of the
24 witness Z683.1, only as one example. Perhaps for ease of reference, it
25 might be on the ELMO, Mr. Usher.
1 Q. You can have the B/C/S version as I see you do in front of you,
2 ma'am. I'm directing your attention - for purposes of recall, Your
3 Honour, the Court will recall this is an exhibit that's already been
4 admitted where specifically an order to Mr. Cerkez, do you see that,
5 ma'am, in the upper right part of the document on the first page it says
6 to the commander, in your language it says to the commander of the HVO
7 Brigade Vitez, Mr. M. Cerkez and Special Purpose Unit Tvrtko. Do you see
9 A. Yes, I do.
10 Q. Do you see in paragraph two that Mr. Cerkez -- these forces
11 including those commanded by Mr. Cerkez were assigned to occupy the
12 defence region, blockade villages, and prevent all entrances to and exits
13 from the villages. Do you see that?
14 A. I apologise but could you tell me the paragraph again?
15 Q. Certainly. It's paragraph number two. Just the first sentence.
16 Wasn't Mr. Cerkez, who you testified a moment ago about, that you were
17 aware to be the commander of the Vitez Brigade at that time, wasn't
18 Mr. Cerkez, in fact, ordered to stop all entrance to and exit from these
19 villages, including in Kruscica?
20 A. I can't tell you anything about that.
21 Q. Do you have any reason to disagree or -- just I'm one question,
22 Your Honour.
23 JUDGE MAY: Let counsel finish the question before any objection
24 is raised.
25 MR. SCOTT:
1 Q. Simply the final question on the document is: Do you have any
2 reason to think that that was not the case? Did you see actions taking
3 place or anything in your experience, which you've talked about in some
4 detail, and having a knowledge of a number of items, anything that would
5 conflict that this was, in fact, Colonel Blaskic's orders to Mr. Cerkez?
6 Are you aware of any information that would contradict that?
7 A. That is a military order. I was an ordinary housewife at the time
8 and I still am, and I really can't tell you anything about that.
9 Q. Very well.
10 JUDGE MAY: Did you see the HVO on the 16th of April blockading
11 the village?
12 A. I did not.
13 JUDGE MAY: Did you see them doing anything on the 16th of April?
14 A. I didn't.
15 JUDGE MAY: That being the first day of the conflict, what did you
16 see of it? You said you heard gunfire from all around. What did you
17 actually see?
18 A. When the fog lifted at about 10.00 or 11.00, you know that Vitez
19 is a foggy town, I was able to see, from the direction of Ahmici, smoke,
20 and that was all I saw that day.
21 JUDGE MAY: You didn't see any fighting in Kruscica itself?
22 A. No.
23 MR. SCOTT: Your Honour, just on this I'm not going to take the
24 witness through it, but just on this question, the orders on this subject
25 of blockade, I just simply refer the record also to Z2612.10 concerning
1 various Blaskic orders on the 17th of April.
2 If I could ask the witness -- sorry.
3 MR. KOVACIC: May I intervene at this point of time? I don't
4 think that the witness, particularly after what the witness said, that she
5 did not see earlier any military command is asked about military commands.
6 JUDGE MAY: What counsel is entitled to do is to put a document to
7 a witness and say, "Read this. You were there on the 16th of April. Did
8 you see anything consistent with the document?" It's not asking for a
9 comment on the document. It's asking for some facts which arise from the
10 document, and counsel is entitled to ask such a question. Yes.
11 MR. KOVACIC: Would I then just insist that the document when
12 introduced and not accompanied by comment of the counsel is commented
13 correctly. Because in this document which was shown to the witness, there
14 was nothing about blocking the convoys UNHCR or similar.
15 JUDGE MAY: No, no, Mr. Kovacic. What counsel put, and put quite
16 fairly, and if he hadn't been fair I would have stopped him, was that
17 there was an order to blockade the villages. Now, what he then asked
18 was: "Did you see anything about a blockade in Kruscica?"
19 It wasn't an unfair question. If it had been so, I would have
20 stopped him.
21 MR. KOVACIC: Thank you, Your Honour.
22 JUDGE MAY: Yes.
23 MR. SCOTT: Thank you, Your Honour. Moving on, if the witness
24 could just be shown only momentarily Exhibit Z894.1. That's the only
25 document out of the ones of the several, of only four that I've even
1 mentioned, I've already mentioned two of the four that is a new exhibit,
2 Your Honour. The others have all been admitted before.
3 While that's being distributed, Your Honour, I will say for the
4 benefit of counsel, given the last objection, that the exercise here will
5 be exactly the same. I will not be asking for the witness to state any
6 opinion about the content of this document but, based on certain facts in
7 the document, ask about her knowledge of events.
8 If the English could be put on the ELMO, please, and the --
9 perhaps we can read it to her if there isn't. I will read it out loud and
10 perhaps translation can help us for the witness. For Court and counsel,
11 I'm referring to the top of the second page. For the record, there is a
12 milinfosum dated the 8th of May, 1993. I'm referring now to the first
13 paragraph on the second page.
14 Q. Mrs. Grabovac, if you could please listen for the interpretation
15 and then I'll ask you a couple of questions about this.
16 JUDGE MAY: Mrs. Grabovac, so you can follow, what is being put is
17 a document which was prepared by UNPROFOR. It's an internal document.
18 You won't be asked to comment on it because you've never seen it, never
19 heard of it. What you will be asked about is the facts. So if you listen
20 now, you'll hear what the soldiers reported.
21 MR. SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. President.
22 Q. "In the afternoon, a similar meeting was held for the Vitez area
23 with Mario Cerkez and representatives from both the Kruscica and Preocica
24 Battalions of 325 BiH Brigade in attendance. This meeting was extremely
25 heated and turned upon the issues of prisoners, ethnic cleansing, and the
1 restriction of freedom of movement occasioned by sniping attacks. Both
2 sides implicitly acknowledged that their soldiers had conducted ethnic
3 cleansing. They reluctantly agreed to attempt to effect a cease-fire
5 Now, have you been able to hear that in translation, ma'am?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Based on your involvement in this area during the spring and
8 summer of 1993, my statement to you or my question to you is this: Do you
9 agree with the assessment that during this time period about this location
10 that both the Muslim side, if you will, and the HVO side were engaged in
11 and had engaged in ethnic cleansing?
12 A. I can't tell you anything about that.
13 Q. All right. Well, one more question before moving on similar to
14 the question about the prior document. Were you aware, and can you tell
15 this Court of any information or knowledge you might have which would
16 contradict this assessment apparently concerning a meeting involving
17 Mr. Cerkez in which, apparently, at least as reported, both sides
18 acknowledged that their soldiers had conducted ethnic cleansing? Did you
19 see anything happening in the area where you lived in Kruscica during the
20 spring and summer of 1993 that would contradict or be contrary to this
22 A. I can't tell you anything about that.
23 Q. Very well. Counsel asked you about an ECMM monitor by the name of
24 Morsink. Did you have any knowledge that in a meeting with Mr. -- between
25 Mr. Morsink and Mr. Cerkez on the 18th of April, 1993, that Mr. Cerkez
1 threatened to destroy Muslim houses in the area --
2 JUDGE MAY: I don't think the witness can deal with that. She has
3 no knowledge of Mr. Morsink at all and wouldn't have any knowledge of such
4 a meeting.
5 MR. SCOTT: Very well.
6 Q. Following counsel's earlier question, ma'am, if I can just
7 clarify, you have no knowledge of Mr. Morsink or ECMM's involvement in the
8 Kruscica area; is that fair to say?
9 A. No.
10 Q. Very well. Now, on the 17th of April - I'm pointing out facts,
11 but it's only facts that I'll ask you about - there was evidence, I'll
12 just remind the Court, from Mr. Morsink that he attempted to enter
13 Kruscica on the 17th of April and it was blocked by soldiers and mines.
14 Now, were you aware of that, Ms. Grabovac, that on the 17th of April, the
15 entrance into Kruscica was blocked by HVO soldiers and mines, as opposed
16 to civilian women and children?
17 A. I'm not aware of that.
18 Q. Now, I take it, Ms. Grabovac, you're not suggesting that the women
19 and children placed mines on the road, are you?
20 A. Could you repeat that question, please?
21 Q. Well, you've indicated that there were these blockades by women
22 and children civilians of convoys, and I've indicated to you, and the
23 Court will recall the evidence itself, that on the 17th of April, it's
24 been reported that the road into Kruscica was blocked by soldiers and
25 mines. My question to you, ma'am, is: You're not suggesting, are you,
1 that the women and children put mines on the road? Are you?
2 A. I don't know anything about those mines.
3 Q. Ms. Grabovac, isn't it true that, generally speaking, these
4 so-called blockades by civilians were, at least on most occasions, closely
5 orchestrated and supported by the HVO forces; isn't that true?
6 A. The blockades that I took part in were not orchestrated by
7 anyone. It was a spontaneous blockade by women and children who were
9 Q. Let me indicate another incident to you, and to remind the Court.
10 On the 17th of May, a month later, a British officer named Major Bower
11 again was attempting to enter through the blockade of Kruscica, attempted
12 to walk through the crowd in front of his vehicle, and HVO soldiers on
13 both sides of the road opened fire, shooting over his head. Now, were you
14 present on that occasion, or did you hear about it?
15 A. No, I didn't hear about it.
16 Q. None of the women and children that you were associated with at
17 the time, for instance, again these eight women who signed this other
18 document, none of them reported to you about such an incident; is that
20 A. No, they didn't.
21 MR. SCOTT: My final couple of questions, Your Honours.
22 Q. On the following day, on the 18th of May, Major Bower attempted to
23 enter Kruscica again, and on that day reported that the road into Kruscica
24 was blocked by mines. Now, were you aware of that, Ms. Grabovac?
25 A. No, I'm not aware of that.
1 Q. My final question is: Again, I take it you're not suggesting that
2 the civilians put mines on the road, are you?
3 A. I don't know whether there were any mines at all.
4 Q. If there were mines on the road, if Major Bower's report is
5 accurate, do you have any information or knowledge that it was the women
6 and children who put the mines on the road?
7 A. No, I have no information about that.
8 MR. SCOTT: I have no further questions, Your Honour.
9 MR. KOVACIC: Thank you, Your Honour.
10 Re-examined by Mr. Kovacic:
11 Q. [Interpretation] Mrs. Grabovac, I'd like to clarify some points,
12 if I may. Is it correct that, as a rule, every time the UNHCR vehicles
13 brought aid to Kruscica and when they went back, that there would be
14 shelling in your part of the village soon afterwards?
15 A. Yes, that's true.
16 Q. You have told us that you cannot claim that UNPROFOR was, in fact,
17 taking weapons to Kruscica. But did you believe that it was just by
18 chance that once the UNHCR was returning you were shelled?
19 A. No, that was not by accident, by chance.
20 Q. Thank you. You were shown the first document by the Prosecution,
21 the order by Blaskic to Cerkez, Z683.1, I believe. Did you notice the
22 date on that document, what the period was?
23 A. Well, even if I saw the date, I don't remember it.
24 Q. Thank you. Tell me, please, Mrs. Grabovac, whether in all your
25 life, up until the present day, you ever saw or held a military order in
1 your hands.
2 A. No, never.
3 Q. Thank you. Tell us, please, since the beginning of the conflict,
4 up until the Washington Agreements, did you ever see in the part of the
5 village that you reside in, around your own house, whether there was any
6 actual fighting, actual combat activity taking place?
7 A. Could you repeat the question. Be clearer, please.
8 Q. Next to the house you live in, a few houses to your left and
9 right, so around the area of your house, was there any direct military
10 action, armies?
11 A. Well, only the shelling, and in January 1994 the attack from
13 Q. Repeated shelling.
14 A. Yes, shelling, and an armed attack.
15 Q. But you said that that was when?
16 A. In January 1994, as far as I remember, on the 8th or 9th of
17 January, 1994.
18 Q. Is it true, then, that in the course of 1993, in the vicinity of
19 your home, you never saw any soldiers, armed soldiers whatsoever engaging
20 in combat action?
21 A. I did not see them in combat action, no.
22 Q. Thank you. From the knowledge you gained or the information you
23 had, can you tell us where the nearest places -- how far away from your
24 own house was the demarcation line between the HVO and the other side?
25 A. I learnt that only later on, after the war, that it was 150
1 metres, as the crow flies, from my house.
2 Q. During the war, could you ever approach those localities?
3 A. No.
4 Q. Thank you. You were also asked several questions about ethnic
5 cleansing. Do you know what the term "ethnic cleansing" in fact means?
6 How would you define ethnic cleansing? Could you explain the term to us?
7 A. Well, my free assessment, that is, in my own view, that probably
8 means expelling people of a certain nationality away from a certain
10 Q. Very well. Thank you. As a woman who lived in that area, were
11 you ever able to conclude that anybody was expelling Serbs from the
12 territory in a planned, organised manner?
13 A. No.
14 Q. Were you ever able to conclude that somebody was expelling the
15 Muslims from the area in the same way?
16 A. No.
17 Q. Thank you. As we're discussing this point, and taking the example
18 of religion as a characteristic, where was your nearest church, that is to
19 say, the Orthodox church? You said that you yourself were an Orthodox.
20 Where was your nearest church?
21 A. In Travnik.
22 Q. Which means some 15 kilometres away from your house; is that
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Where was the nearest mosque for the Muslims?
1 A. There were several. The nearest one, I think, was in a place
2 called Mahala, upper Vitez, two kilometres away from my own house.
3 Q. Thank you. Was there a mosque in Gornja Kruscica as well?
4 A. Yes, there was.
5 Q. Did it have a minaret?
6 A. Yes, it did.
7 Q. After the war, did you ever happen to see that mosque?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. And it still exists there?
10 A. Can I correct myself on one point, please? After the war, I
11 didn't see that mosque. But I can hear prayers going on every morning
12 from the minaret.
13 JUDGE MAY: How does this arise from the cross-examination?
14 MR. KOVACIC: Ethnic cleansing, Your Honour. I think that having
15 a minaret in the middle of the village is a kind of symbol.
16 JUDGE MAY: Well, perhaps you could bring the examination to an
17 end. It's after the adjournment time.
18 MR. KOVACIC: I have two or three short questions more. Nothing
19 else, Your Honour.
20 Q. [Interpretation] You were asked about mines on the road. Let's
21 make one point clear. If you were to go from your house towards the main
22 road, towards Vitez, were there any blockades in any way on that road?
23 A. No.
24 Q. Or obstacles?
25 A. No.
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French
13 and English transcripts.
1 Q. Were there any obstacles in the form of mines?
2 A. No, there were no mine blockades.
3 Q. Were you able, madam, in the course of 1993, to start walking
4 along the road uphill towards Gornja Kruscica?
5 A. No, I wasn't able to do that.
6 Q. Why not?
7 A. Because of the fighting and daily shelling that was going on from
8 that part. It was dangerous; you couldn't just walk around.
9 Q. So higher up along the road from your house, you never took that
11 A. No, I did not.
12 Q. Do you know whether there were any mines on the road, or blockades
13 or obstacles of any kind?
14 A. No, I don't know.
15 Q. Did you ever ask anybody whether there were any blockades on that
16 part of the road?
17 A. No, because I wasn't interested.
18 Q. Do you happen to know, Madam Grabovac, whether somewhere higher up
19 from your house, moving towards upper Kruscica, on that road, whether
20 there was a demarcation line between the two sides?
21 A. Well, I learnt of that only later on.
22 Q. But you don't know where it was exactly, do you?
23 A. No, I don't even know now, to this day.
24 Q. Thank you. You were asked, and it was put to you that there were
25 other places where the civilians blocked roads and that this was
1 orchestrated. Can you quote any example where the civilians stopped
2 passage for anyone, UNPROFOR, the BiH army, the HVO, or anyone?
3 A. Well, it was in Donji -- at Rijeka, on the lower road.
4 Q. Were the citizens organised by themselves?
5 A. Yes, self-organised.
6 Q. Were they orchestrated in any way?
7 A. No, as far as I know.
8 Q. Did you have any personal contacts with those people? Did you
9 hear about what was going on?
10 A. No, I did not.
11 Q. You didn't. Thank you. One more question, if I may. You told us
12 that you stopped UNPROFOR convoys bringing food. Would you try and think
13 back and tell us whether you ever stopped any kind of vehicle or vehicles
14 belonging to UNPROFOR, or any other international force or monitors, which
15 was on the road alone, without taking food?
16 A. No, we did not.
17 Q. Thank you.
18 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] I have no further questions, Your
20 JUDGE MAY: Mrs. Grabovac, thank you for coming to the
21 International Tribunal to give your evidence. It's now concluded. You
22 are free to go.
23 We'll sit again at 2.40, when we'll hear from Mr. Nice about the
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours.
1 [The witness withdrew]
2 --- Luncheon recess taken at 1.09 p.m.
1 --- On resuming at 2.46 p.m.
2 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Mr. Nice.
3 MR. NICE: Your Honour, I've got some information to provide to
4 the Chamber. Perhaps it would be preferable, given that it touches in
5 part on things that are recently passed between us and Croatia, that if
6 this five minutes was in private session.
7 [Private session]
13 pages 24613-24623 redacted – private session
20 [Open session]
21 JUDGE MAY: Are we in open session?
22 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, we are.
23 JUDGE MAY: Yes, let the witness take the declaration.
24 THE WITNESS: I solemnly declare that I will speak the truth, the
25 whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
1 JUDGE MAY: If you'd like to take a seat.
2 WITNESS: ANTO ZIRDUM
3 [Witness answered through interpreter]
4 Examined by Mr. Kovacic:
5 Q. [Interpretation] Good afternoon, Mr. Zirdum.
6 A. Good afternoon.
7 Q. Thank you for coming to testify.
8 A. It is a pleasure.
9 Q. For the record, would you please repeat your name, surname, place
10 and date of birth.
11 A. My name is Anto Zirdum. I was born in Pojara, the Derventa
12 municipality in the Bosnia-Herzegovina. I was born on the 4th of June,
14 Q. I am also going to ask you, I see that you speak rather fast, as
15 indeed I do, but please try and slow down a little bit and make pauses
16 between question and answer to give the interpreters enough time to keep
17 up with us, and this is very important for the record.
18 You are a citizen of Bosnia-Herzegovina, right?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Are you married?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Have any children?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. What is your education?
25 A. University training.
1 Q. Where did you go to university and graduate?
2 A. In Rijeka.
3 Q. You mean the Rijeka in Vitez or Rijeka in the Republic of Croatia?
4 A. No, I mean Rijeka in the Republic of Croatia.
5 Q. Did you do your military service in the former JNA?
6 A. Yes, I did.
7 Q. Which year did you serve?
8 A. In 1979, 1980.
9 Q. And where?
10 A. I did my service in Bileca and in Titograd. The reserve officer's
11 school in Bileca, and then in Titograd.
12 Q. Did you receive a rank of any kind?
13 A. Yes. I received the rank of senior lieutenant. First of all,
14 corporal, and then, by means of automatic procedure, lieutenant and second
16 Q. Could you tell us what you do now.
17 A. I work in the organs of the central administration as an inspector
18 in Central Bosnia for the social protection of displaced persons and on
19 humanitarian issues as well.
20 Q. I see. Thank you. When did you move to Vitez?
21 A. In 1982.
22 Q. Where did you live before that?
23 A. Before that, I lived and worked in Vares.
24 Q. And before that?
25 A. In Zenica. In fact, I grew up in Zenica and went to primary and
1 secondary school there.
2 Q. Can we then say that, as you yourself say, that you are a real
3 Zenican, person from Zenica, who found a livelihood in Vitez?
4 A. Well, I spent most of my life living in Zenica although I was born
5 around Derventa, but I lived in Zenica and I have become accustomed to
6 considering myself an inhabitant of Zenica.
7 Q. Do you still have any close relatives near Zenica?
8 A. My parents live in Zenica and so do my brothers. So my immediate
9 family lives there.
10 Q. Will you tell us, briefly, in which part of Zenica you live, what
11 that area is called and where it is located in relation to Vitez.
12 A. It is the Travnica Street and the region towards Vitez in
13 Travnik. It is on a hill which can be attained through Volovska Glava to
14 Kuber and the road to Vitez and Busovaca if you were to go on foot.
15 Q. Does that mean that that is the location of Mount Kuber which
16 represents a natural boundary between Zenica and the Vitez region?
17 A. Yes, as the highest peak and boundary, yes.
18 Q. And your family, if I understood you correctly, it lives between
19 Mount Kuber towards Zenica, in that region in between?
20 A. Yes, at the foot of the mountain, closer to the foot of the
21 mountain in the direction of Zenica.
22 Q. Thank you. In Vitez, you have your wife and children; is that
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. And your nationality? You are a Croat, are you not?
1 A. Yes, I am a Croat.
2 Q. And what about your wife?
3 A. My wife is a Muslim. She declares herself as a Croat of the
4 Islamic faith.
5 Q. Tell us, please, when did you first report to the Territorial
6 Defence in Vitez?
7 A. Several days after the outbreak of the war, that is to say, after
8 the events in Sarajevo, I heard a proclamation saying that all
9 military-able men were to report to the Territorial Defence offices, and I
10 think I was one of the first to report to one of their offices. I think
11 that it was either in the municipality or in the SUP building. I can't
12 remember where the office was located.
13 Q. Mr. Zirdum, what was your motive for reporting immediately?
14 A. I considered it to be my civil duty as a citizen of
15 Bosnia-Herzegovina to respond to the proclamation sent out by the organs
16 in power and authority in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and I went to report
18 Q. According to -- to your mind at that time, did you expect a
19 possible aggression on the part of the JNA on Bosnia; is that correct?
20 A. Well, yes, the aggression had already started, in fact.
21 Q. And it was your desire to contribute to the defence of the
23 A. Yes, it was both my wish and my duty to do so.
24 Q. After you reported, did anybody call you and mobilise you, assign
25 you any duties? What happened?
1 A. Over the next ten days, I expected to be called up, that somebody
2 would contact me in keeping with my military training and issue
3 assignments, but that did not happen.
4 Q. Soon after that, the HVO became active. How did you experience
5 the HVO at that time? What was the -- what did it represent, the HVO, to
7 A. In the ten days that followed, I learned the HVO as being a
8 general military and civilian organisation of the citizens regardless
9 of -- separate from the parties. That is to say, I was informed that
10 party affiliation was not important for participation and membership in
11 the HVO but that it was the legitimate organisation of the Croatian
12 people. I therefore considered that that was the right place for me to
13 report to.
14 Q. And your intention to report to them, was it once again based on
15 the same motives that you had when you reported to the TO beforehand?
16 A. Yes, that's right.
17 Q. The defence of the country, you mean?
18 A. Yes, the defence of the country from the Serbian aggression and
19 the aggression of the Yugoslav Peoples' Army.
20 Q. Mr. Zirdum, during that time, in that period -- but let me ask
21 you, put the question to you this way: In your opinion, as somebody who
22 attended events, what situation was the state in? How did it function?
23 What about its organs of power and authority? Was it a state that
24 functioned properly? Could you give us your opinions in a few words?
25 A. Well, I thought that the state functioned at the municipal level,
1 but not at a higher administrative level. That is to say, it functioned
2 poorly because power and authority was in Sarajevo, and they dealt with
3 Sarajevo mostly and not the rest of the area.
4 Q. In the previous set-up of the socialist Yugoslavia, Socialist
5 Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, would it be fair to say that in the
6 country's administration, that is to say, in organising the country's
7 administrative bodies, the municipalities played a very significant role?
8 A. The municipality or the socialist commune, as it was called then,
9 did play a very important role, yes. It had a comprehensive role to play
10 in local administration and local affairs.
11 Q. Would it be true to say then, on the basis of what you have just
12 said, that the municipality did succeed in performing its administrative
13 functions whereas the central government did not? Could you describe the
14 situation to us?
15 A. Well, the municipalities, yes, and there was some
16 intermunicipality activity, that is to say, spontaneous agreements between
17 neighbouring municipalities. At that level, it functioned.
18 Q. Let us try and illustrate this by quoting some examples. In 1992,
19 was there the disintegration for the central organisation, for example, of
20 the railways in Bosnia? Did they disintegrate or begin to disintegrate?
21 JUDGE MAY: I'm sorry to interrupt. We've had a lot of evidence
22 about these matters. Now, can we not move on, Mr. Kovacic.
23 MR. KOVACIC: Certainly, Your Honour.
24 Q. [Interpretation] The Chamber feels that it has had sufficient
25 information on that subject, so let us continue and move on to points two
1 and three. You said that you responded to the offer to join the HVO. You
2 gave us your motives for doing so. What were your first assignments from
3 the HVO?
4 A. My first assignment was to found the regional informative centre
5 in Central Bosnia, and I was given the task of coordinator for technical
6 matters, organisational and technical matters. That is to say, I was sent
7 to organise work in this centre and then we went on to establishing radio
8 and television.
9 Q. And within the frameworks of that assignment, you were given the
10 specific task of establishing radio and television Vitez; is that correct?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Is it also true that, at that same time, Central Bosnia was
13 undergoing an information blockade?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Could you describe this for us briefly.
16 A. Many transmitters had been taken over by the Yugoslav Serb army,
17 the repeaters. Some of them were destroyed, others were controlled by the
18 Serbs, and the repeater from Vlasic covered this area so we were in a
19 total economic and information blockade.
20 Q. And this blockade was imposed by the JNA?
21 A. Yes, because they had control of the transmitter Vlasic.
22 Q. At that time, were there any different interests between the two
23 most numerous, most populous people in the Lasva Valley, the Muslims and
25 A. No. At that time, their interests, their common interest was to
1 defend themselves from the Serbian, or rather the Yugoslav aggressor, the
2 Serb aggressor. And he was active in the Lasva Valley at Turbe.
3 Q. When the television station was set up, what was your job in the
5 A. When the television was established, I was a journalist. I had
6 already become a journalist. So I did organisational work, but also
7 worked as a journalist.
8 Q. Tell us what -- how you organised the television station in actual
10 A. Well, there was some kind of infrastructure in Pero Gudelj's
11 building. He had some modest equipment, basic equipment. So that is
12 something that we needed to start; you needed to have the equipment to
13 start broadcasting. So we started building up the station with the help
14 of the entrepreneur, Pero Gudelj.
15 Q. So Mr. Pero Gudelj, who was he? In fact, was he the owner of the
17 A. Yes. He was the owner of a large firm and he was the owner of a
18 videotape and cable television, and he wanted to develop a commercial
19 television station as well.
20 Q. And how did this business undertaking, this joint venture with
21 Mr. Gudelj turn out?
22 A. Well, we tried to evolve a programme which would have a dominant
23 news broadcasting programme, and this programme would have special
24 broadcasts and reports from the field. So we would go to Turbe and some
25 other places where the Croats and Muslims joined forces in combating the
1 Serbs. And I had a contact programme which was entitled "Open Talks,"
2 and I would invite guests to attend. Usually I would have two or three
3 guests, it was a talk show. And there was usually one Croat and one
4 Muslim taking part, and one Serb as well. We invested a great deal of
5 effort in developing our programmes, but Mr. Pero Gudelj thought that the
6 commercial aspect was more important. He wanted to see more
7 advertisements rather than informative programmes, and this was a conflict
8 of interest. We wanted to do programme work. He wanted to do
9 advertising. So we didn't see eye to eye, and in a demonstrative way, I
10 failed to accept this concept. I didn't want to prepare advertisements
11 and programmes, and I left.
12 Q. What about your other colleagues; did they stay or did they go?
13 A. I think the day after I left, or perhaps a few days later, the
14 professional journalists left. I think they did at least. But the
15 technicians and the other staff stayed on for a time. I don't know what
16 came of the television station after that.
17 Q. Where did you go after that?
18 A. I went back to my own firm.
19 Q. What was that?
20 A. It was Vitezit, where I was head of the cadres department,
21 personnel manager.
22 Q. There was a question asked today about the Vitezit. Tell us about
23 it. Vitezit was within the composition of the SPS factory.
24 A. No. There were three companies: the SPS, Vitezit, and Sintevit.
25 There were three actual companies functioning at that time, and they used
1 to belong to an overall company that was called Unis.
2 Q. But for popular intents and purposes, for citizens in Vitez, when
3 they refer to the factory, they call the factory under the general term of
5 A. Yes, that's right, because it was the Slobodan Princip Seljo
6 factory, the SPS, and later devolved into three separate companies. So
7 this was a transformation; the SPS was divided into three sister companies
8 later on.
9 Q. Regardless of the changes in organisation, all these companies
10 were physically located in this large compound bordering on Vitez.
11 A. Yes, that's right. It was called the SPS compound. That's what
12 it was referred to.
13 Q. Thank you. Tell us, please, how did you view the situation in
14 1992, the year we're talking about? When did you feel that there were
15 greater political differences of opinion in Vitez?
16 A. This became obvious during the conflict in Novi Travnik, which
17 means that it was at the beginning of October. In addition to my regular
18 work, my regular job, I tried to rally intellectuals of the Lasva River
19 Valley, especially the Croats and the Muslims, to try as citizens to react
20 to the situation and to all the things that were not right in our midst.
21 Q. Very well. Just so that we can make things clear, would it be
22 true to say that the HDZ and the SDA parties, in the elections that were
23 held the previous year, that they were partners; is that true?
24 A. Yes, it is.
25 Q. And these two parties, in coalition, were victorious in the
1 election, won the elections.
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Now, the period that you have just started describing to us, that
4 is to say, late October, in your opinion, was that when this coalition
5 began to disintegrate, or did this happen at another time?
6 A. At the time I was not a judge. I did not realise that it was the
7 disintegration of the coalition; rather, I saw it as the resolution of
8 outstanding issues with respect to the organisation and functioning of the
9 society during those war days.
10 It was only later that I was to realise that what had in fact
11 happened was its disintegration. But what we thought at the time was that
12 there were political disagreements between the political parties. That
13 was quite normal, given the prevailing conditions, because both sides were
14 brought into a situation where they had to contend with an aggression and
15 they had to solve their problems as they went.
16 Q. A while ago you mentioned a forum of intellectuals of the Croats
17 and Muslims in the Lasva Valley. Will you tell us in a few words, how did
18 it come about?
19 A. I told you that at the time I simply tried to prevail upon some
20 intellectuals that we, as citizens, as intellectuals, as eminent citizens,
21 should react to radicalism which began to be manifest in the policies of
22 both the HDZ and the SDA, and to try to see that radicalism be brought
23 down to some more moderate levels.
24 With Suad Salkic, I discussed the matter, and he endorsed the
25 idea. But I did the bulk of work. He is a very intelligent, a very nice
1 man, but he's quite timid too, and he's not really ready to come forward.
2 But whatever the case, we managed to arouse the interest of some 30 or 40
3 individuals; some 10 or 15 of them supported the idea of setting up that
4 forum. However, it was very difficult to bring together more people.
5 In point of fact, we used to gather in some small groups and
6 discuss those issues on various occasions, and we were planning a large
7 open forum, inviting intellectuals of all types and from all sides. Of
8 course, it was very important to have there intellectuals from both
9 parties, from the HDZ and SDA. I'm referring, of course, to the Vitez
11 When we organised that, some 20 or 25, or perhaps 30 people - I
12 can't remember now what the whole was - they turned up. But the leading
13 men of the SDA, the leading intellectuals in the SDA did not come, not one
14 of them. And from the HDZ, only Mr. Ivan Santic and Mr. Pero Skopljak
15 came. We taped it; however, it was taped badly and the sound was
16 missing. But whatever the case, that was the only time that that forum
17 met in a noteworthy number.
18 After that it was concluded that it simply could not go on
19 functioning unless it brought together also the leading men of the SDA,
20 their intellectuals. Step by step it grew into a very informal group
21 which fell short of its original objective, and it eventually simply
22 withered away.
23 Q. Just to fill in a couple of voids that you left here. You said
24 who was another mastermind of this; you said Suad Salkic. He's a Muslim,
25 isn't he?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Secondly, is it true that you aspired not to be a party, a
3 political party, but just as your name indicated, a forum of
5 A. We realised full well that we simply could not, and after all, we
6 did not need to act in any other way except as eminent citizens, except as
7 citizens of note who would draw the attention of the government to some
8 excessive -- to phenomena of excesses, to things which were out of
9 ordinary. I think it was after an incident which took place at the
10 cemetery in Ahmici, that was the first serious incident between the HVO
11 and the TO, and it was that, I think, which made us think about such a
13 Q. Thank you. Did the municipal government, I mean, the
14 administration in the municipality, try in any way to prevent or to
15 obstruct this forum?
16 A. No.
17 Q. After that, you took part in yet another initiative, and the
18 objective of that one was, I think, similar, wasn't it? What was that?
19 A. Well, I was doing my job. But meanwhile, a private newspaper
20 began to come out, Lasvanski Glasnik, the Lasva Herald. As a matter of
21 fact, it had started before but now it had entered a new stage. It was my
22 colleagues from the media centre, from the information centre, who worked
23 there, and I tried to work together with them and do something, contribute
24 there as an intellectual, as far as it was possible at that time. It was
25 monthly, and I cooperated with them sometime between the second and the
1 fourth issue. As a matter of fact, I think that the fourth issue never
2 came out.
3 Q. What was its editorial policy?
4 A. It was a privately owned paper, and the editorial concept was to
5 do what was otherwise impossible to do, that is, to cover this media
6 space, to provide its citizens with only relevant political/social
7 issues. Of course, since this was a private newspaper, it had to have
8 advertisements and all that.
9 Q. They came out sometime between late 1992 until about the eve of
10 the conflict between the BH army and the HVO in April 1993; is that so?
11 A. Indeed. Its latest -- the last issue was to come out on the
12 16th. I suppose it was printed, but it was never collected; that is,
13 somebody told me that he had seen a copy, that it had been printed. But I
14 simply have no information as to what happened to it.
15 I'd like to see that issue because it featured an interview I did
16 with the chief of the police station in Vitez, Mr. Saban Mahmutovic, in
17 Mahala. One could see what we talked about ten days before all that
18 happened and what was the situation there, and that we were making
19 interviews with both Muslims and Croats more or less on quite an equal
21 Q. Yes, we seem to be going too fast. I have to wait a little. But
22 will you tell me, please, if that paper was biased in any way, either
23 ethnically or politically, whether it favoured any one of the players
25 A. Well, the paper, yes, was "biased," if I may put it in inverted
2 Q. And that is why?
3 A. Well, it came out in the Croatian language. It's true that it was
4 very poor Croatian language, but it is a fact that that is the language it
5 was printed in. Otherwise, it maintained a complete balance, and it had
6 among its contributors both Muslims and Croats.
7 Q. For people who are not all that conversant with our language,
8 perhaps we should explain it. At that time was there any Bosniak language
9 in existence?
10 A. No.
11 JUDGE MAY: We've heard about all of this. Let's move on to the
12 relevant parts.
13 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
14 Q. Do you remember, what did you do on the 15th of April, 1993? What
15 happened on that day?
16 A. Well, to me, it was a day just like any other, and I do not
17 remember any particular details about it. As a matter of fact, a friend
18 of mine from Zenica, who now lives in the Netherlands, his wife had come
19 from the Netherlands, and he came to me -- he came to Vitez because he
20 could not make a phone call from Zenica. But he came to me to Vitez to
21 make his phone call, and he reminded me the other day that that is what we
22 did on that day.
23 Q. So nobody -- there were no indications, there were no -- nothing
24 that would perhaps indicate that it was a critical day, that the next day
25 something would happen in the Lasva Valley?
1 A. No. In the evening, we watched television, as usual, and we then
2 saw the story about the abduction of Zivko Totic and his escort in
3 Zenica. But we had by that time already grown accustomed to those
4 incidents and extraordinary situations because it had already become quite
5 a frequent occurrence that the TO, that is, BH army, would be involved in
6 some incidents directed at the HVO or individuals.
7 Q. So that incident did not lead you to conclude that there would be
8 a frontal clash.
9 A. No, because incidents were a frequent occurrence and nobody could
10 draw any conclusions from that, or at least I did not. I mean, I could
11 not really draw any conclusions, and I think if anything important were
12 happening, I would have learnt it, because such information always finds a
13 channel to reach people. So that is why I think that nothing was in the
14 offing, really, nothing was being prepared, because I simply did not have
15 any information whatsoever about anything being under way.
16 Q. When was the first time that the defence office gave you any
17 task? And what was it?
18 A. I think it was on the fourth day, when the courier from the
19 defence office, I believe he went from one door to the other, informing
20 all the men of military age to report to the defence office. My building
21 is not far from the post office building, and I went there straight away.
22 I wouldn't know exactly the names of all those who were there. But a
23 young man instructed me that I should go to the television building
24 because he knew that I'd work for them, and he told me, "You go there
25 because that's where you should work."
1 Q. That young man from the defence office, did he first look at your
2 mobilisation file in the office to see what was your earlier combat order,
3 or what?
4 A. No, no. I guess he knew something about me. It was just a couple
5 of sentences that we exchanged when I reported, and then he told me, "Go
6 and report to that team of yours, to that boss of yours, to the boss of
7 the centre."
8 Q. Very well. This television centre was where?
9 A. The television centre was in the cinema building; that is, because
10 of the misunderstanding with Mr. Pero Gudelj - I don't really know how and
11 what - it was moved to the cinema, that is, the building of the Workers'
12 University. That is what it was called before that.
13 Q. It had been broadcasting its programme for some time from there;
14 is that correct?
15 A. It is.
16 Q. Do you know what area, roughly, that television centre could
17 cover? What was its coverage?
18 A. It was within, I should say, a diameter of some four kilometres,
19 perhaps. And some villages could not really see it. I know they were
20 trying to devise some technical solution, but it proved to be very
21 difficult. So that was its range.
22 Q. What did you do there?
23 A. Well, I immediately became a journalist, writing stories.
24 Q. That television, what role was it to serve? And you, as a
25 journalist, what was it to serve?
1 A. It was part of that information centre. I don't really know what
2 the relationship was, but from the information centre, as a journalist, he
3 would go out into the field and bring back information and there, I mean
4 in the beginning, it was rather vague but, on the other hand, the role was
5 to inform the population about the developments on the ground.
6 Q. And it was also to boost the morale of the soldiers, wasn't it?
7 A. Well, in those early days, they needed no encouragement. Its role
8 was to inform and to calm the situation, that is what the television was
9 supposed to do. No propaganda, no -- that kind of encouragement of
10 boosting the spirits. There was nothing of that in those early days.
11 Q. But could you perhaps explain why nothing was done in that regard
12 in those early days; is there any reason for it?
13 A. Because people thought that it was basically just an incident,
14 just a clash which would be over in no time.
15 Q. Very well. But while we are on the subject and since you
16 mentioned the building, the television station and its offices, they were
17 not the only users of the premises in that building of the cinema or the
18 Workers' University. There were also some other tenants, if I may call
19 them that; is that correct?
20 A. It is. Because I believe that it also housed the headquarters of
21 the HDZ, presumably other parties earlier. At that time it was the HDZ,
22 then the command was also housed there and I think a coffee shop. I don't
23 really know, whether at that time it was still working or not. Whether it
24 had shut down or not. Then there was the television. And I don't know
25 if, on the other side, somebody also used that building. But yes, there
1 were quite a number of users.
2 Q. You mentioned the command. What command did you have in mind?
3 A. I meant the command of the Vitez Brigade, of the Viteska Brigade
4 which had been formed sometime before that. I don't know really when they
5 moved in, but they were there when I came to work there.
6 Q. Very well. And then at some point in time, you were sent, for the
7 first time, as a soldier to the defence line. When was that and where
8 were you sent?
9 A. Sometime in late May or perhaps early June, that even information
10 workers were being asked to go to the defence line because they were short
11 of men, the front line was being established, and we were called upon to
12 go there to reinforce them and to do a shift on the front line. I think
13 that was the first time that I went there for five days to the segment of
14 the front line which is above Krizancevo Selo in the direction of the
15 village of Tolovici.
16 Q. Mr. Zirdum, could we just clarify one point? Is it true that
17 every adult citizen under the rules which were adopted by
18 Bosnia-Herzegovina, that is the rules taken over from Yugoslavia, and
19 under the rules also adopted by the Croat Community of Herceg-Bosna, every
20 adult citizen in case of danger of war or imminent danger was under
21 military obligation; isn't that true?
22 A. Yes, it is true. Either military or labour obligation.
23 Q. And is it true that when you performed your work as a personnel
24 manager in your factory, had to be familiar with those rules and all the
25 duties arising from it?
1 A. Yes, that is true.
2 Q. And since you were familiar with the rules, is it true that in
3 those first days when you were mobilised, you were placed on the labour
4 duty or were you perceived as a soldier as of the beginning?
5 A. I don't really know how they perceived me at the defence office.
6 I simply accepted the duty. How they had it -- what they had on their
7 official files, I don't know.
8 Q. But you tell us that in those early days, you performed duties
9 which were not military?
10 A. That is correct.
11 Q. And it was in June that for the first time, you appear in a
12 military capacity; is that so?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. And you say you were sent somewhere to Krizancevo Selo, near
15 Krizancevo Selo?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. And what did you do there at those positions and how long were you
19 A. I was there with other four men from the television station or my
20 fellow workers, we were five altogether, and we did guard shifts. As a
21 matter of fact, there were two possibilities, the harder one on the front
22 line itself and another one in a kind of a hollow where they sent
23 novices. And when I came there, when I saw the two of my fellow workers
24 didn't even know how to hold a rifle and they were terribly afraid, then I
25 volunteered to go to the front line, that is to the hardest position, and
1 let them go down to that creek or somewhere to stand guard there, not let
2 anybody pass through.
3 Q. A little before this, a week or two earlier, did you conduct an
4 interview with refugees from Miletici?
5 A. Well, I toured the front lines outside Vitez because our
6 television covered a broader area, there were no other media. And when
7 the Croats from Zenica who were refugees arrived in the village of
8 Grahovcici, I went to make a report about the refugees from Zenica. And
9 it was already very difficult to reach Grahovcici so we went around the
10 checkpoints where we could encounter Territorial Defence units. It was
11 here that I conducted an interview with a witness of the massacre in the
12 village of Miletici.
13 Q. These refugees that you mentioned from Zenica, what ethnicity were
15 A. They were Croats, Croats. It was civilians and soldiers all mixed
16 up together, fleeing in chaos in the village of Grahovcici where the
17 soldiers stayed behind, and the civilians were transported to the Lasva
18 River Valley to Vitez, Nova Bila and Busovaca by a bus in very poor
19 conditions and they had nothing but plastic bags in their hands.
20 Q. Is it true that you were then returned to your job as reporter at
21 the television station after the position in Krizancevo Selo?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. When were you sent to the front line again?
24 A. Around the 20th of July they called me up from the 3rd Battalion.
25 They remembered that I had been a reserve officer in the former army so I
1 was offered the duty of platoon commander on Crveno Brdce.
2 Q. And did you agree to this?
3 A. Yes, I did.
4 Q. Let me ask you, what would have happened if you hadn't wanted to
5 do that; could you have refused?
6 A. At that moment, it would have been very hard to refuse.
7 Q. Why do you say "at that moment"?
8 A. Because the war was already raging, the situation was very
9 complicated. There was a shortage of men, of professional staff, of
10 weapons, and it was quite clear by then that there was a real conflict
11 going on and that it could no longer be avoided. All hopes that this
12 could come to a halt were dashed in the beginning of June when Travnik
13 fell and large numbers of refugees started coming from the Travnik
14 municipality to the Lasva River Valley. They came down the mountains and
15 they were all driven down into the Lasva River Valley, and then there were
16 no more illusions about this being a limited conflict. It was a real war
17 in which we had to defend ourselves because we were surrounded on all
19 Q. Very well. When you were sent to this area and took up these
20 duties in Crveno Brdce, the Lasva River Valley was already completely
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. And was there any land route at that time to connect you with
24 other parts of -- Croatian parts in Bosnia?
25 A. No.
1 Q. Crveno Brdce is, roughly speaking, in the area of Kruscica, not
2 far from Vranjska; is that correct?
3 A. Yes, that's correct.
4 MR. KOVACIC: Until when will we be working so I know where to
6 JUDGE MAY: Well, I hope you can finish this evidence. We started
7 at twenty to, so we'll go on for another ten minutes or so.
8 MR. KOVACIC: I'll do my best, Your Honour, but I will not commit
9 myself because there are some things that are going naturally here. I
10 will do my best.
11 Q. [Interpretation] Will you please tell me, Mr. Zirdum, what
12 situation did you find when you arrived at your position in Crveno Brdce?
13 I'm referring to the condition of the army, their equipment, organisation,
14 and all the other elements of the army. What was your first impression
15 when you arrived?
16 A. At Crveno Brdce, the defence line in the area where I arrived was
17 running next to some houses. These were houses inhabited by the Krizanac
18 families, several families called Krizanac. And the organisation was just
19 beginning. It was hard for people to tell where they actually belonged in
20 the establishment and what their title was. There was no well-developed
21 system of defence with a clear vision of how to conduct the defence.
22 Everything was at an initial stage. People were organising themselves ad
23 hoc, and there was a lot of improvisation on that part of the line.
24 I established a military organisation. I defined reserves. I
25 said what should be done in what kind of situation and what in another,
1 because the Muslim line was 176 metres away from our line, as the crow
2 flies, in the central part.
3 Q. You said that the line was -- that it ran past the houses. So you
4 were facing the enemy and there was a Croatian village behind your backs?
5 A. Well, there were several houses which were on the line itself.
6 There was even one on the other side of the line, and this was a problem I
7 had to solve.
8 Q. From those positions in the sector where you moved at Crveno
9 Brdce, can you see the minaret in Kruscica from any point?
10 A. Well, on the right-hand side of the platoon, you could have a good
11 view of the minaret in Kruscica.
12 Q. Was it there then?
13 A. Yes, it was. It was. It was about one kilometre away.
14 Q. Could you see any damage to it? Was it possible to see any
16 A. No, we couldn't see any damage, nor did anyone from our positions
17 shoot at it. We didn't have anything to shoot it with. And I would have
18 punished anyone who wasted ammunition in this way.
19 Q. Thank you very much. How much time did you spend at that
21 A. A little over a month. I don't know the exact dates, but I was
22 there for a little over a month. When the line was set up properly, I
23 reported to the commander that I had completed this task and that the
24 people, the men there were brave, that they would defend themselves, that
25 there was nothing else for me to do there, and could he give me another
1 task because the people there were quite hard to deal with, complicated.
2 I didn't want to remain there any longer. But I made use of my authority
3 there for about a month.
4 Q. Very well. Then you were given another assignment.
5 A. That's correct.
6 Q. What was that? Where was that?
7 A. Well, that was in sector south, the southern side of Vitez, in the
8 area of the village of Gacice, the broader area of Gacice, also a feature.
9 Q. And the hill of Osoj was where the front line was?
10 A. Yes. It's ten minutes on foot above the village of Gacice, to the
11 left of the Princip company.
12 Q. That line or that defence position, did it play an important role
13 in the defence of the factory?
14 A. Yes. It was a key elevation for the defence of the SPS company
15 and the village of Gacice.
16 Q. When you arrived there, what kind of organisation did you find?
17 What was the situation? What about weapons?
18 A. Well, it was one of the worst and most confusing situations, most
19 chaotic situations. There was no real line. The Muslims had not exerted
20 much pressure either. It was high up in the mountain, on a hill -- they
21 were high up on a hill from where they could have good control of the
22 situation, and they did not have any need to exert a lot of pressure. So
23 that was where our units took the longest time to organise themselves.
24 Then I was asked to go and help the commander of that company to establish
25 a better sort of defence because problems were expected from that side
1 also, which proved to be true, because a day after I arrived, the Muslim
2 forces attacked from that side as well and broke through at Bobasi, the
3 Bobasi area, in the direction of the town.
4 Q. Bobasi at that moment, tactically speaking, were your left flank;
5 is that correct?
6 A. Yes, it was the left -- the first left neighbour of the company I
7 was in.
8 Q. For the sake of those who are not there, Bobasi is just a little
9 below Kruscica, in your direction?
10 A. No. I was to the right on a hill, to give you the correct
11 picture, in the direction of Princip, and that's more toward the town.
12 Q. Is that the area that you in the HVO, or rather in the brigade,
13 saw as one of the possible routes that could relatively easily be taken by
14 the army of BH in the direction of town?
15 A. Well, I was sent there to try to organise the defence in the best
16 possible way, because we have the fewest men there and the fewest weapons,
17 and the organisation was the worst there. We managed to organise defence
18 when it was too late, unfortunately, because that was where the
19 breakthrough at Bobasi happened. There was a big crack, a big break in
20 our defence line. We were unable to close it because we did not have
21 enough men. So we had to improvise our defence, and this resulted in the
22 fact that we had to narrow down the circle in order to be able to close
24 Q. Just one more question about the details of that. On the first
25 day when you arrived, according to what you were able to see then, did
1 every soldier at that line have a weapon?
2 A. On the first day I managed to tour this position. I didn't have a
3 chance to see the whole line in detail. But when the attack started, I
4 did not have a rifle of my own, and when I went to see the men, they had
5 old automatic rifles from World War II. There were two or three modern
6 automatic weapons, up-to-date ones, and a few weapons produced in Croatia
7 which happened to be there with very little ammunition. They were called
8 Sokci in the local vernacular, and I took one of them home. It can shoot
9 only at a distance of about 200 metres. It's a very poor sort of weapon.
10 And I had one to stand the guard against the Muslims.
11 Should I speak more about this?
12 Q. No, there's no need to go into further detail. Is it true that
13 you stayed in that area practically until the end of the war?
14 A. Yes, until the 1st of April, 1994.
15 Q. And at that line you were formally appointed deputy commander of
16 that company.
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Did you have another duty?
19 A. Well, later I also became assistant for IPD, Information and
20 Propaganda Department.
21 Q. And you performed that duty?
22 A. That's correct.
23 MR. KOVACIC: For me, it is a good point to stop, and I guess that
24 tomorrow morning I may have probably, I don't know, 15 minutes or so with
25 that witness.
1 JUDGE MAY: Very well. How many more witnesses have you got this
3 MR. KOVACIC: We are hoping that we will have an additional two
4 witnesses. They are, indeed, landing this evening at Schipol. Your
5 Honour, we only got confirmation that they boarded the plane from Sarajevo
6 at about lunchtime. I hope that both of them will be here this evening.
7 JUDGE MAY: Yes. I said earlier that we'd sit at 9.15. It
8 doesn't seem necessary. We'll sit, in fact, at 9.30 unless that causes
9 any confusion.
10 MR. KOVACIC: Certainly.
11 JUDGE MAY: The registrar reminds me we were due to go on until
12 5.00, but we've made good progress and we won't.
13 MR. KOVACIC: Thank you, Your Honour.
14 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Zirdum, would you be back, please, tomorrow
15 morning at half past nine to continue your evidence. Would you remember
16 during the adjournment not to speak to anybody about it until it's over,
17 and that includes members of the Defence team.
18 Half past nine, please, tomorrow morning.
19 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 4.17 p.m.,
20 to be reconvened on Wednesday, the 13th day of
21 September, 2000, at 9.30 a.m.
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French
13 and English transcripts.