1 Monday, 9
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The witness entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 10.20 a.m.
6 JUDGE MAY: Yes. Let the witness 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 WITNESS: DRAGO PRANJES
11 [Witness answered through interpreter]
12 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Kovacic, the plan for the morning is this, unless
13 there are any alternative submissions, that we will sit until 11.45.
14 We'll have a shorter break than usual, quarter of an hour. We will resume
15 at 12.00 and go on until 1.15, when we will take the normal break, and
16 then in the afternoon we'll sit from 2.45 until 4.15 or shortly
18 MR. KOVACIC: That's fine with us, Your Honour.
19 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone to the counsel, please.
20 MR. KOVACIC: [Previous translation continues] ... Your Honour,
21 perhaps I can only ask for five minutes ex parte conference after the
23 JUDGE MAY: Yes. Perhaps at the end of the day we can do that.
24 Examined by Mr. Kovacic:
25 Q. Good morning, Father Drago. Thank you for coming to give evidence
1 before this Tribunal. For the record, will you please state your full
2 name and place and date of birth.
3 A. My name is Father Drago Pranjes. I was born on 7 October 1954, in
4 Maljine, the Travnik municipality.
5 Q. Thank you.
6 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, my apologies first.
7 There has been an error. There are a number of errors, but in the
8 summary, point 2.1, the middle line. We used the word "weeding" rather
9 than "wedding," and I hope that you will just deal with that.
10 JUDGE MAY: I don't think anybody would be misled.
11 MR. KOVACIC:
12 Q. Father Pranjes, you live in Vitez, don't you?
13 A. Currently I live in Nova Bila. I moved from Vitez to Nova Bila
14 about a month ago.
15 Q. You're a parish priest in Nova Bila now.
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. And previously you were a parish priest in Vitez. Could you
18 please tell me when -- what period of time you worked in this parish?
19 A. I arrived there on the 7th of July, 1983, and I have been the
20 parish priest since 1988.
21 Q. You're Croat, your ethnic background?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. And what is your citizenship?
24 A. I'm a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and I also have a
25 citizenship of the Republic of Croatia.
1 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Can the witness please be shown
2 Exhibit number D94/2. [In English] Perhaps English on the ELMO. Well, we
3 again have a problem with the screens, but ...
4 Q. Father Drago, will you please review this document. My first
5 question to you is whether this is a regular type of document that your
6 parish drafts on occasion of weddings. Would you please look at all the
8 A. Yes. This is a regular document throughout the bishopric.
9 Q. Now, let me ask you, Father Drago, do you recall this particular
11 A. I remember this document, even though this is not a document
12 relating to a wedding.
13 Q. Will you please tell us how such a document is compiled and what
14 it represents.
15 A. This is a regular document which is to be filled out and signed by
16 those who want a church wedding. It has four pages and it is of a
17 standard form for all parishes.
18 Q. Do you recall this particular wedding, whether this wedding was
20 A. Yes. We talked about it several times, because Mr. Mario and
21 Mrs. Slavica expressed desire to have a church wedding because they had
22 been -- they had had a civil ceremony but not a church ceremony. So we
23 talked about it, and they felt that it would have been a right thing to
25 Q. For which date was this wedding set?
1 A. That was to be -- to take place at 1830 hours.
2 Q. Father Drago, was this wedding finally conducted?
3 A. No. I made a note somewhere that the wedding was postponed; in
4 other words, they never went through with it.
5 Q. Let me point you to the item 4 on the last page. There is a
6 handwritten note there. Can you please tell us what it is, what it means,
7 and who wrote it.
8 A. This is my handwriting. It says that it has been postponed due to
9 a sudden war with the Muslim until further notice. It was probably noted,
10 that is, the remark was probably written after the date which has been
11 stated here. In other words, the event that was to take place did not
12 take place, and I think that I made this remark in order to know what
13 is -- what has happened.
14 Q. Father Drago, are there any other administrative records of this?
15 A. Yes. We have something that is called a protocol book or a
16 register, and I -- we registered that in this book, too. That is also a
17 standard practice.
18 Q. Did you check that before coming here?
19 A. Yes, and I found that document.
20 Q. Can you recall about any details, who called you to let you know
21 that the couple was not coming?
22 A. I don't know whether anybody came to notify us. I think that I
23 may have made a remark later when I saw that the wedding did not take
25 Q. After the 15th of April, were wedding -- was wedding ceremonies
2 A. Yes, but not in such a number, and not in such a celebratory
3 atmosphere. There were some, but very few.
4 Q. Very well. I think we can move on to another area, but perhaps
5 let me just ask you this: Do you recall whether the -- Slavica and Mario
6 Cerkez did get married eventually?
7 A. I did not take much interest in that, so in fact to date, I do not
8 know whether they got married in a church or not.
9 Q. The next topic that I would like you to give evidence on was the
10 rumours about people detained in a church. Can you tell me, how did you
11 learn that there were claims in the public information that in your parish
12 priests -- your parish church, there were some Muslim civilians detained?
13 A. At the beginning of the conflict, in a series of conflict on the
14 16th of April, 1993, I heard on several occasions on Radio Zenica and
15 Radio Vitez a news item saying that there were some Muslim civilians
16 detained in the parish church in Vitez, about 300 of them.
17 Q. Did you listen to Radio Sarajevo? Could you listen to it?
18 A. Yes. There was Radio Sarajevo, Radio Zenica, and there were some
19 other radio stations which one could catch.
20 Q. These radio stations, that is, who controlled these radio
21 stations? For instance, Radio Zenica.
22 A. I don't know exactly who controlled it, but the newscasts, that
23 is, from the news broadcast by this radio station, one could see that
24 Radio Zenica was under the control of Muslims, as well as Radio Sarajevo,
25 Radio Mahala, and I don't know what other radio stations.
1 Q. Was this news true?
2 A. No, it wasn't true. This news saddened me and provoked me to
3 respond because it was obviously something that was premeditated and that
4 was meant to deepen the conflict and further -- create further chaos.
5 Q. What did you do specifically when you learned about this?
6 A. Our communication was very limited, so there was nothing very
7 efficient that we could do. We couldn't do anything that would be
8 efficient enough to deny this. We tried through UNPROFOR, through the
9 monitoring mission. Occasionally the phone lines were open, and we used
10 that to try to publish, to broadcast demand -- we wanted to deny this
11 news, we wanted to say it was not true, and we wanted to prevent this from
12 spreading because it -- this news reverberated for days and months.
13 Q. Was your denial ever broadcast?
14 A. No, it was never broadcast, even though I was hopeful that this
15 news would be published by a TV station whom I considered a private one.
16 That was a station called TV Zetel. I was hoping that they would
17 broadcast it, but nobody picked it up and nobody broadcast it.
18 Q. You tried to learn how this news reached the radio station, who --
19 you wanted to find out who was the source of it.
20 A. Yes. I tried to find out who came up with this news. And there
21 was a journalist named Nedzad Jahic. I finally found his telephone
22 number. I called him up and I said, "Do you really know about this?" And
23 he said, "Yes. I stand by this, what I have broadcast."
24 So I know that Mr. Nedzad Jahic is behind this. Now, from which
25 circles this originated, that I don't know.
1 Q. When you talked to him, did you expressly tell him that this was
2 not true?
3 A. Yes. And I asked him, "Do you really believe that this is
4 truth?" And he stood by it.
5 Q. So he refused to accept your denial of this?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Father Drago, this Nedzad Jahic who you mentioned, what is his
8 ethnic background?
9 A. I assume, by his first and last name, that he is an ethnic
11 Q. After this news was broadcast, what happened in relation to your
12 church? Did anybody come to verify this news?
13 A. The European Monitoring Mission came five or six times to verify
14 this news, to see whether any people were detained in the church and
15 whether there were 300 Muslims locked up in the parish church.
16 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Can the document D89/1 [Realtime
17 transcript read in error "D98/1"] please be placed on the ELMO. It is a
18 European Monitoring report of 27 April 1993. If can we see page 2, top of
19 the page, paragraph B.
20 [In English] It is document D89-1, and the document is dated
21 27 April 1993. And please turn it to page 2, the paragraph on the top of
22 the page, under "B." Put it on the ELMO, because the witness is not
23 speaking English. And, unfortunately, the Greffe's copy is also not
24 working. Perhaps I will read those two sentences.
25 "The water supply-team received upon departure an urgent request
1 from RC Zenica to visit the church in Vitez again, as 'awful things are
2 happening there right now.'" That is in brackets. "A few days a similar
3 request was executed. Now a Warrior-team from BritBat was dispatched
4 immediately, shortly after followed by the ECMM APC team. Again it was a
5 false alarm. The Father showed an empty church and gave the team an
6 opportunity," I cannot read the next word, "to a group of Muslims living
7 near the church; they seem all well looked after by their Croat fellow
9 Q. [Interpretation] Is -- this item in the ECMM report, does it
10 reflect what you remember?
11 A. Yes, but the ECMM mission came more than twice, because my
12 understanding here -- the report says that they came twice, but they came
13 several times, and they satisfied themselves that this was not true, that
14 there was nobody detained in the church.
15 Q. During those visits, did you assist the ECMM team so that the team
16 would also visit some private homes where some of the Muslims had taken
18 A. Yes. There was a gentleman from the mission who, after having
19 visited the church, requested to visit some family homes which were in the
20 immediate vicinity of the church, and in those homes there were a number
21 of people, both Muslim and Croat. They were there together.
22 Q. Were all representatives of ECMM who came there reacting the same
23 way to the fact that the church was empty? What were their individual
24 responses? Could you please tell us.
25 A. People reacted differently. There were a couple of people who
1 were understanding and who accepted what we had told them, and there were
2 some -- I believe that there were two of them. Those two were aggressive,
3 if I can put it that way. In other words, not in -- in a bad mood when
4 they arrived, in a bad mood when they discovered that the church was
5 empty. I was under the impression that they were so sure that the people
6 were detained in the church and they would let us have it before that, and
7 they seemed disappointed that the church was empty and that they couldn't
8 find anybody there.
9 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Could the technical booth please
10 show us a clip from the video. This was video -- this is -- [In English]
11 the tape. We can record it. We can check that after.
12 Now, I had the box somewhere but it is lost. This was the video
13 which was presented during the witnessing of Witness Morsink. I would
14 just like the witness to recognise whether that was the person who was
15 there. And I'm sorry for the number, but we'll check later on the tape.
16 I saw that the box is here.
17 Q. Father Drago, you're about to see on your screen an individual,
18 and my question is, do you recognise that person?
19 A. The one to the right or the one to the left?
20 Q. This is evidently --
21 A. Mr. Cerkez.
22 Q. [English] It will be here now shortly. [Interpretation] This
23 person on the right-hand side.
24 A. I do recognise that man, too. He also used to come, and he was
25 also a man with a very quick responses. Grass never grew under his feet.
1 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, we do not need this
2 anymore, this video anymore.
3 Q. So for the record, we saw a video recording showing how the
4 accused, Mario Cerkez, is talking to Colonel Morsink, and we shall explain
5 which number it is later on.
6 So this individual whom you recognise here was one of the persons
7 who came to the church in order to check whether it was true there were
8 300 detained Muslims there?
9 A. Yes, this man indubitably came.
10 Q. Do you perhaps remember he was one of those who were,
11 conditionally speaking, disappointed, or did he belong in a different
13 A. This man was very nervous and rather short-tempered. I don't
14 remember, perhaps it is -- was with him that this happened, or rather,
15 that there was a mishap with him when he was came escorted by a BritBat
16 unit who treated both the object and us in a very ugly way.
17 Q. Could you tell us what exactly happened there?
18 A. Well, I was at home, and all of a sudden somebody knocked and
19 requested me to come out, because people around the church had seen that
20 unit, a military unit of the BritBat had arrived and that they had
21 deployed themselves around the church. There were tanks at the entrances,
22 at the entrance into the churchyard, and the troops were -- the troops had
23 taken line positions around the church, and they were about to break the
24 door into the parish church.
25 Of course, I responded. I shouted and waved my hands, showing
1 them to stop, indicating that there was a key which one could use to enter
2 the church without needing to break the door into it.
3 Q. And did you then open the door?
4 A. Well, we had to open the door because they were requesting that.
5 And they looked around and left immediately, without any apology, without
6 offering any excuse or anything.
7 Q. Was any damage caused on that occasion?
8 A. Well, one of the doors, yes, suffered minor damage, but the
9 entrance into the churchyard was pretty damaged because those tanks were
10 coming in, and they couldn't really see, probably, so that they broke the
12 Q. And after all those visits, what was your attitude to those visits
13 and the factor that evidently your people did not believe you?
14 A. We were very disappointed with the conduct of the observer mission
15 and UNPROFOR, too.
16 JUDGE MAY: Just a moment. Mr. Kovacic, what's the relevance of
17 this evidence? You're complaining about the observer mission. Now, how
18 does it help us decide this case?
19 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] In my modest opinion, the relevance
20 rests with the fact that some information -- that the desirable
21 information is pursued at all cost, and when this information is not
22 corroborated by a visit to the ground, then there is a certain
24 What I'm trying to say is that, even the information in writing
25 that we have from time to time is not always fully accurate, and this
13 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the English
14 and French transcripts.
1 specific --
2 JUDGE MAY: You're suggesting that it is an attack on the
3 credibility of the ECM witnesses, is that the point?
4 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] To a point. Not credibility as such
5 but, up to a point, that there was a subjective approach. That one is
6 looking for something which one wishes to find, whatever the cost, to even
7 though the facts are indicating to the contrary.
8 And specifically, my last question is aimed at finding out how all
9 these persons and meetings found their reflection in the relationship
10 between the Croat church in Vitez and the international mission.
11 JUDGE MAY: Well, I'm not going to stop you, but we must, of
12 course, keep our eyes firmly on the ball in this case, firmly on the
14 MR. KOVACIC: I will, Your Honour.
15 Q. [Interpretation] And after that -- those repeated visits, what
16 were the relations like between you as the parish priest of the Catholic
17 church in Vitez and the ECMM mission in the municipality in Vitez?
18 A. The relations between the monitoring mission and us grew rather
19 tense, to put it mildly, because we wanted the mission to apologise to us
20 for the way they treated -- they were treating us, and naturally they
21 refused to do so.
22 Q. Nonetheless, you did hear an apology at some point?
23 A. Yes. I did receive an apology because I refused persistently any
24 contact with the monitoring mission because I thought that they had made a
25 mistake, that they were making a mistake, and at long last, in 1999, the
1 monitoring mission apologised to me.
2 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Will the usher please help us to
3 distribute the next piece of evidence.
4 THE REGISTRAR: The document will be marked D144/2.
5 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
6 Q. Will you please look at the document, Father Drago, and tell us
7 whether it is that apology that you just mentioned.
8 A. I have it here in the Croatian language, and that is the original
9 translation which I received from the monitoring mission, and I can see
10 that I have also the original here. Yes, that is the document.
11 Q. Thank you. And the next question in this regard is, do you think
12 that, as a parish priest, you could perhaps contribute more to bringing
13 the tensions down and alleviating the consequences of the conflict had you
14 maintained better relations with the ECMM?
15 A. Well, I suppose so because the monitoring mission could, during
16 those hard times throughout, during those fateful times, they could move
17 under the protection of military units. Perhaps we could have reached
18 some places, talked to people, tried to talk them into behaving more
19 sensibly. I guess, yes, one perhaps could have done more.
20 Q. Thank you. Can we now move to the next subject. You, sir, a
21 parish priest, did you in any way in the early days of the conflict help
22 both Muslims in neighbouring houses in that part of Stari Vitez where the
23 church was?
24 A. Well, my job, that is, my option in life is to be, if not of help,
25 then at hand to any man, whatever he is. I chose this vocation, and that
1 is what I did as best I could, and I think that I should help every man,
2 regardless of where he comes from or what he is.
3 Q. Could you tell us which was the first family that you helped when
4 the conflict broke out on -- began on the 16th of April, 1993?
5 A. Well, no sooner did the conflict begin than we helped a family
6 which lived in our neighbourhood. Owing to the telephone communication,
7 we managed to rescue a family or, rather, help them to come to our parish
8 home. It was a man, his family, with two children, that is, the family of
9 a Muslim called Rasim Topcic in Stari Vitez.
10 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Could the usher please help me with
11 a document.
12 Q. This is -- you also issued a document to the family of Rasim
13 Topcic. Will you please tell us if that is the document.
14 A. Yes, that is the document. It has my signature and the stamp of
15 the parish.
16 Q. And what is it that you tried to achieve with that document?
17 A. With this document, we wanted to protect that family as much as
18 possible. Of course, I wish we were able to issue such documents to all
19 the families, but we did this for that family, hoping that it would be
20 respected by all those who might injure and harm that family in any way.
21 It just happened so that that family was -- had very close ties with the
22 parish office and those ties had lasted for a hundred years or perhaps
23 even more.
24 Q. And in the surrounding houses, insofar as the fighting allowed you
25 to move around in those early days, were there some Muslim families which
1 had taken shelter with Croat families?
2 A. Oh, yes, quite. There were quite a number of Muslim families
3 hiding in Croat families. And I also believe that on the other side the
4 same held true; that is, there were Croat families which had taken shelter
5 in Muslim homes.
6 Q. I suppose that you also heard about a number of such cases
7 throughout the war and after it.
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Well, we shall not go into it anymore because that could take all
11 MR. KOVACIC: I'm not sure whether we got a number for the last
13 THE REGISTRAR: Document will be number D145/2.
14 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
15 Q. And tell us, please, during the war, there was a programme called
16 Radio Mahala in your area; is that correct?
17 A. Yes, that is correct. There was a radio station. Whether it was
18 called Radio Mahala or not -- I think so, yes, Radio Mahala. You could
19 hear it every morning. Yes, one could hear them very well.
20 Q. What do you remember of those programmes which were repeated over
21 and over again?
22 A. That radio station drew attention because they read out the names
23 of alleged war criminals, but only Croats. Every morning between 8.00 and
24 9.00, they would read sometimes dozens of Croat names alleged or suggested
25 or whatever that they were war criminals.
1 Q. Among those names, did you also hear the names of people whom you
2 knew very well?
3 A. Yes. There were a number of names familiar to me or, rather, I
4 don't think that there were any names that I did not know.
5 Q. Does that mean that you personally, over the years, thought that
6 perhaps -- did you ever suspect that some of those men could be war
8 A. No. I'm quite sure, I'm quite positive that none of those people
9 whose names were aired, were read out, had anything to do with war
10 crimes. I know that they are honest people, good people, and I really do
11 not know the reason why they were put on those lists.
12 Q. So what did you eventually conclude? What could be the reason for
13 those -- for the contents of those radio broadcasts?
14 A. Well, I think, judging from the programmes of that radio station,
15 it was evidently deliberate propaganda or perhaps -- which was perhaps
16 aimed at creating tension between people, because why else? I suppose
17 that was the purpose of such programmes.
18 Q. Father Drago, before we move on to the last part, tell us just two
19 minor things. Tell us, was your church damaged by fighting during the
21 A. Unfortunately, our church was hit several times but perhaps
22 mortar -- once by a mortar shell. Then in 1994, January 1994, I think, it
23 was directly hit on the wall on the north side of the church, and the
24 parish priest's residence was also hit at a very inconvenient moment.
25 I'll tell you what it was about. On the 6th of December, a shell
1 hit the entrance into our hall where every year, on that particular date,
2 because it is St. Nikolas' Day and we distribute gifts to children, and
3 half past six in the evening, parents and the children are always there.
4 In December 1993, because of the danger, we did not distribute the
5 presents, but the shell hit the entrance into that hall at half past six
6 precisely and destroyed the whole northern wall of the residential part of
7 our home.
8 Q. And was any of the Catholic priests in parish wounded?
9 A. My deputy chaplain, Fra Drago Totic, was injured coming back from
10 work at Caritas. He was hit in the car. His knee was fractured by a
11 bullet, and he's still disabled. And another priest was hit by a
12 sniper -- and he lost either his right or left eye -- about three
13 kilometres away from our church, as he was coming to visit his sister.
14 Q. Father Drago, you were born and were brought up in Central Bosnia?
15 A. Yes, that is correct. I was raised and I grew up in Central
17 Q. You are quite familiar with that culture, in view of your job.
18 A. Yes, very well.
19 Q. Before that war, traditionally speaking, how could one -- what
20 would one say about that society regarding the religious tolerance or
21 ethnic tolerance?
22 A. Well, the environment that I lived in and the whole milieu in our
23 area was very tolerant, ever since my childhood. I remember our parents
24 and the old folk there who taught the young people how to behave when --
25 how to greet one another. When you go to the bus terminal or the railway
1 terminal or somewhere, there would be the Catholic greeting, "Good
2 afternoon," "Good day to you," among people who are not Catholics. And,
3 generally speaking, people who were tolerant in all areas. I lived in the
4 area of Travnik, that is the Lasva Valley, and then Kakanj and Sutjeska,
5 and I lived also in Sarajevo. So these were all very, very tolerant
7 Q. And tell us, did you, as a man, ever think that such a conflict
8 between ethnic communities in Central Bosnia would ever be possible?
9 A. No. It never occurred to me.
10 Q. When the serious conflict began on the 16th of April, 1993, what
11 was your attitude then? Did you still believe in that or did you change
12 your opinion?
13 A. Well, it was like this: The 16th of April, 1993, began, I think,
14 a slightly, slightly more serious conflict in a series of conflicts which
15 would begin and then died out. And we thought the next day that they
16 would again come to some understanding, that they would stop any
17 bloodshed, to avoid any casualties, to avoid any people getting killed. I
18 honestly believed that.
19 Q. And in the end, I should like to ask you about a letter that you
20 mentioned about denial of a news item about detainees. Unfortunately, we
21 did not see it before because you brought it with you.
22 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] So could we please have a copy of it
23 put before the witness. The booths also have copies for interpretation.
24 I do not think there is any need to read out the whole letter.
25 [In English] I want one on the ELMO, and I want one in front of
1 the witness.
2 Your Honour, I'm sorry we did not have the time to translate
3 that. The witness brought it; he found it recently. We, of course, could
4 deliver the translation later on, but I would just put the question
5 based --
6 JUDGE MAY: What is this document?
7 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] This document is a letter written by
8 this witness, dated 20th of April, 1993. It is called -- the heading is
9 "The Communication of the Parish of St. George's Parish Office in Vitez
10 in Relation to the Latest Fighting in Vitez." In it, they call for peace
11 and good relations and protest the misinformation aired by Radio Sarajevo
12 and Radio Zenica, supplied by Nedzad Jahic in Travnik, that the church had
13 allegedly been converted into a camp.
14 I merely want the witness to tell us -- to confirm that this was
15 indeed the communication which he issued.
16 A. Yes, that is it.
17 JUDGE MAY: Is there any objection to this document, which fails
18 to conform with the rules?
19 MR. NICE: We haven't actually got a copy of the document before
20 us yet. As you know, we don't take technical objections where we can
21 avoid doing so. I imagine that we'll go beyond the break with this
22 document and with this witness, and we'll deal with it then.
23 JUDGE MAY: Very well.
24 When it is properly translated, it can have a number. What is
25 the --
1 THE REGISTRAR: The number will be D146/2.
2 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] All I wanted the witness to do was
3 to confirm that that was indeed his letter.
4 Q. Father Drago, isn't this the letter which you published on the
5 indicated date in the way that you could do?
6 A. That is the document which I wrote, and I tried to send it.
7 Q. And you did send it to several addresses?
8 A. Yes, I did, and I believe it is somewhere on record in a
9 collection of documents. I can't remember its title. It is the
10 collected -- it puts -- it's a compilation of documents of priests who
11 tried to address everybody in writing.
12 Q. Thank you very much, Father Drago. I have no further questions.
13 MR. SAYERS: No questions, Your Honour.
14 MR. LOPEZ-TERRES: [Interpretation] Mr. President, with regard to
15 this document, is the Defence introducing it as an exhibit, or what? I
16 really do not understand what is the status of the document.
17 JUDGE MAY: No objection was taken formally, and it was given a
18 number. The number is D146/2. It will not, in conformity with our usual
19 rule, become a formal exhibit until the translation is produced.
20 Meanwhile, I understand from Mr. Nice you're in a position to
21 cross-examine. If you need to go over the adjournment in order to have
22 some instructions about this document, of course, you can do so.
23 MR. LOPEZ-TERRES: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
24 Cross-examined by Mr. Lopez-Terres:
25 Q. Mr. Pranjes, you are wearing civilian clothes, and I should merely
1 like to ask you a question. At that time, in 1993, you were in your
2 robes, weren't you?
3 A. Yes, yes. Yes, today I'm wearing civilian clothes, but of course
4 I regularly wear my clergyman's robes.
5 Q. And what order do you belong to?
6 A. I belong to the Franciscan order Fratium Minotium until the
7 present day, Saint Francis of Assisi. OFM is the Latin abbreviation.
8 Q. Very well. You spoke about the -- you showed us the document
9 which had to do with the wedding to take place between Mr. Mario Cerkez
10 and his wife Slavica. I should like to go back to this document which has
11 number D94/2 [sic]. But that document was written in preparation, in
12 anticipation of the wedding which was to take place on the 15th of April,
13 1993, isn't it?
14 A. Yes, yes. That's the way it was supposed to be done, and that's
15 the way it was done.
16 Q. And this document, however, bears a date previous, prior to the
17 15th of April, 1993, if I understand well?
18 A. It says on the document when it was written.
19 Q. Well, the date there is the 15th of April, 1993. Now, can you
20 explain -- I do not really understand why, if it was drawn up, if it was
21 written before the 15th of April, 1993, then why does it have the date
22 there of 15th of April, 1993?
23 A. It is possible to organise a wedding on the same day and when the
24 two people concerned are supposed to come for a talk. It is possible.
25 Q. Will you please try to refresh your memory. You remember what you
1 told us: On the 15th of April, 1993, the date that the Cerkez couple,
2 Mario Cerkez and his wife, to be appear before you in order to undergo the
4 A. On several occasions we discussed this, discussed the wedding. We
5 chose the 15th of April so that the wedding could be carried out on that
6 day. We asked them if they could come so that we could prepare this
7 document. The document should be prepared before the wedding itself.
8 Of course, this is not regular procedure. Regular procedure is
9 approximately a week or so, it should be stated publicly about a week in
10 advance that two people wish to get married and to have a church wedding.
11 In this case, this was not a regular wedding. This was what we could call
12 an accelerated wedding.
13 The two of them filled out this document on the 15th of April, and
14 we agreed that sometime in the early evening, I think it says 6.30 p.m.,
15 due to their various engagements, that they could come then for the
16 wedding itself.
17 Q. But after such a ceremony, of course, there is a certain period of
18 time when it is announced publicly?
19 A. When there is a church wedding, there is a ceremony that involves
20 the wedding itself and after the wedding. However, positive church rules
21 today say that one has to ask for a church wedding in advance, one has to
22 undergo a process of engagement, and at least there has to be one public
23 appearance with believers present so that believers could hear that a
24 couple intends to get married, so that if somebody is opposed to this,
25 that person can state that in public.
13 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the English
14 and French transcripts.
1 Q. And this formality, that is, to have it publicised, was not
2 observed, as far as I can understand, in the case of Mr. Cerkez; you
3 proceeded immediately to the ceremony?
4 A. There are no formalities involved. This is a very personal
5 conversation between a priest and the person who wishes to get married.
6 And documents are taken there, this is supposed to take place, documents
7 are taken and signed, and there is no formality involved.
8 Q. But as a priest, didn't you insist on a certain period of time
9 before the wedding, that is, didn't you publicise this wedding, wasn't
10 there a public announcement of the wedding, so that if anyone opposed the
11 wedding, he could make his opinion known?
12 A. Not necessarily. It doesn't have to be that way.
13 May I add one more thing? There does not have to be this kind of
14 publication because they had already been married for quite some time.
15 They had had a civil wedding a long time ago, so this was a kind of
17 Q. Could you tell us how long before the 15th of April did you meet
18 with the Cerkez spouses and agree together that the ceremony would take
19 place on the 15th of April, 1993?
20 A. Well, I said already that several times we discussed this wedding
21 of theirs. It says they had been --
22 Q. Give me a date, give me a date, please.
23 A. I can't remember because these discussions took place several
24 times. And the date that we agreed upon for the wedding was the day when
25 they came to sign this document, so the time that we had established was
1 6.30 p.m. It is on that day that we agreed that we could perform the
2 wedding that evening, that is to say, on the 15th of April.
3 Q. I'm asking you the date when you set that date for the ceremony,
4 because the ceremony has to be prepared, has to be organised, and the date
5 is arrived at through mutual understanding, through an agreement. Don't
6 you agree?
7 A. I don't understand what you're asking me. If I understood
8 correctly what you're asking for, we were trying to choose a date which
9 would be possible for the wedding in terms of my engagements and theirs.
10 So we discussed this several times, and we met several times to discuss
12 Q. So you cannot tell me if you set the date on the 10th of April,
13 the 1st of April, the 3rd of March, or wherever. When did you agree with
14 the Cerkez spouses about the date? You cannot tell us the date, can you?
15 A. I can't say that because we did not know exactly whether we would
16 be able to do that when we wished to have it done and when they wished to
17 have it done.
18 Q. Can you tell us, yes or no, did you see Mr. Mario Cerkez or his
19 wife in your church on the 15th of April?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Did you see both of them together?
22 A. Yes, yes, if I just have to give a yes or no answer. I saw them
23 both because that's when we drew up this document.
24 Q. And what time was it when you drew up this document?
25 A. Well, I don't know. I think it was sometime during the morning.
1 I can't remember exactly what time it was.
2 Q. Are you telling us that, sometime before noon, the Cerkezes came
3 to see you and were discussing in order to have the ceremony of their
4 wedding, their wedding six hours later, that is, at half past six that
5 same day?
6 A. I don't know that was around noon. I don't think so. I think it
7 was before 12.00, that's when we drew up this document, and that's when we
8 agreed on that day early in the evening we could perform the wedding.
9 Q. There were no preparations, there was -- nobody was invited to the
10 wedding? There was no wedding party in the church was there, or anything?
11 A. We don't organise that. That's what the bride and the groom
13 Q. But could he do that? If the decision was taken in the morning to
14 get married in the afternoon, is it simply possible? Is it feasible to do
15 it within such a short period of time?
16 A. They probably did their planning before that. I left them the
17 possibility of coming on that day so they could prepare themselves. I
18 left them this option open, that they could choose a date and inform
19 people. So they came in the morning, and then they -- then we could
20 organise the wedding for that early evening. There was that possibility,
22 Q. The document was signed by three persons, that is, there are the
23 names of three persons, you on the right, to the right, in the centre
24 Mario Cerkez, and then his wife. Is it in their handwriting? Did they
25 themselves sign this document?
1 A. Yes, yes. It's them.
2 Q. And why do you think they were rushing things and wanted to have
3 this ceremony in the afternoon? They come to you in the morning and want
4 to celebrate their wedding a few hours later. Why the rush?
5 A. I did not see a rush then, and I don't see a rush now. I mean,
6 these people could have prepared themselves a month in advance, and they
7 could have said conditionally, "If we can do this on Saturday, we'll try
8 to get it done on Saturday." So I don't see any rush, really.
9 Our procedure was abbreviated due to these formal reasons, because
10 the people had been married for quite some time, I don't know how many
11 years already.
12 Q. But the Cerkezes were already married. They had been married for
13 some ten years before they decided on this ceremony, isn't it?
14 A. Yes, yes. I think that they had been married for quite some
15 time. Whether there was a civil marriage that was, that was signed and
16 done, that I don't know; but I know that they were married and that they
17 had children.
18 Q. And the Cerkezes, and especially the accused Cerkez, did he
19 regularly come to the church, attend the service?
20 A. I don't remember them having come regularly.
21 Q. And the fact to have a church wedding so many years after their
22 civil marriage, that is very important. It is an act of faith in the
23 Catholic church, isn't it?
24 A. Well, I did not go into their reasons, nor can I go into their
25 reasons why, why they wanted to get married in church. Of course, I was
1 pleased that they would legalise their marriage before the church as well
2 because they were members of the Vitez parish. Being the parish priest
3 and being a priest in general, of course I cared about this. I wanted
4 these people to be married in the eyes of the church as well.
5 Q. But they could have undergone that ceremony a long time before
6 that, couldn't they?
7 A. Well, they could have planned it at least a lot earlier. As soon
8 as they got married, they could have done that too.
9 Q. And this kind of religious ceremony several years after the civil
10 marriage, was it a frequent occurrence in your parish?
11 A. There were quite a few such cases after the elections of 1991,
12 because many people lived in civil matrimony only, and there were quite a
13 few such weddings afterwards.
14 Q. On the 15th of April, 1993, you set the ceremony for half past
15 six. When were you told that would not take place after all?
16 A. They didn't come at 6.30 p.m. They simply weren't there.
17 Q. And nobody told you in advance that there wouldn't be any
19 A. I won't know why nobody let me know that there would be no
21 Q. So at half past six, you were there, waiting for the two spouses
22 and they did not turn up.
23 A. Yes. But nobody was there. Nobody showed up.
24 Q. Did you then try to find out the reason why the ceremony could not
25 take place even though it had been organised that morning?
1 A. I was just curious. I wondered why they didn't show up, although
2 that was not the first such case. It was not the first wedding that was
3 cancelled, that did not take place. For a variety of reasons, other
4 people could not come either, and then they would come on the following
5 day or five or six days later, and they would say, "We could not come,"
6 for such-and-such reasons, reasons of their own.
7 I did not hear about why this wedding had been cancelled. I only
8 found out later, actually, why it had been cancelled.
9 Q. And who told you about that?
10 A. Well, I don't know. I don't know exactly who told me about it. I
11 just know that the wedding was cancelled and that they didn't come.
12 Specifically, I don't know the person who told me about this.
13 Q. And you never had an opportunity to talk to Mario Cerkez or his
14 wife about it?
15 A. I did not have such an opportunity. I did not see them. I did
16 not have the opportunity of discussing that.
17 Q. Did you have an opportunity -- did you ever see Mr. Mario Cerkez
18 again after that April 15, 1993?
19 A. I did have an opportunity of seeing him a few times, very briefly
20 or just in passing. Yes, in passing.
21 Q. Could you tell us something about the circumstances under which
22 you met him?
23 A. Well, I cannot link this to any particular circumstances. It was
24 just in passing. It was at sort of joint official meetings or something
25 like that. I cannot link him to any specific circumstances.
1 Q. But I would like you to tell us what official receptions are you
2 talking about. Were you present perhaps at some official receptions at
3 which the accused Mario Cerkez was also present?
4 A. Well, there was a reception that was organised on the occasion of
5 Easter, and then also various anniversaries, and then there was an
6 official Christmas reception. We got invitation cards. Sometimes I would
7 personally attend these receptions and sometimes I would sent my deputies,
8 but, usually, I would go personally to the Christmas reception.
9 Q. Who sent you those invitations?
10 A. I would get these invitations from official institutions. For
11 example, the official institution of the military would send an invitation
12 to the parish office so that somebody could come to this reception or
13 these receptions.
14 Q. Did you also get invitations from the municipal HVO government in
15 Vitez, for instance?
16 A. If something were celebrated officially and if there would be some
17 kind of anniversary that was commemorated, yes, then there would be an
18 invitation of that kind.
19 Q. Those anniversaries that you are telling us, do you mean religious
21 A. It was not always a question of holidays or religious holidays.
22 It was sometimes an anniversary like -- well, I can't remember now exactly
23 an anniversary of what. Like an anniversary of the date when the
24 elections were held or of the town of Vitez itself or the holiday of the
25 municipality. Well, there were various occasions.
1 Q. You told us about Mr. Mario Cerkez. Were you, Mario Cerkez, and
2 Dario Kordic present at some of these ceremonies or some of these
3 receptions together, at the same time?
4 A. I remember Mr. Kordic from these receptions at Christmas and
5 Easter. I remember that he was the only one who attended our midnight
6 Christmas mass. We had to celebrate mass at Christmas in the basement,
7 and he was there.
8 Q. And that was Christmas 1993?
9 A. Yes, Christmas 1993.
10 Q. He came to Vitez?
11 A. He was in Vitez, yes, at the midnight Christmas mass that we
12 organised there in Vitez, hoping that it would be safe. That was the
13 closest place to come, and we hoped that the largest number of people
14 would be able to come that way because this is the biggest Christian
15 holiday. But only Dario was there and about 30-odd believers at that
16 Christmas mass.
17 Q. Now I should like to discuss with you another point, another
18 subject that you talked about, that you gave testimony about this morning,
19 that is, some radio information that was aired. Did you personally hear
20 this information that you told us, that is, that about 300 Muslims had
21 been detained in your church? Did you personally hear that information
23 A. Yes, several times.
24 Q. I'd like you to be specific and tell us, which radio station was
1 A. Radio Zenica, Radio Vitez -- Radio Sarajevo. I'm sorry.
2 Q. I'm asking you this question because, in the first summary we
3 received, you mention Radio Travnik.
4 A. Radio Travnik, we could not hear it, we in Vitez. At least, I
5 don't know of it being possible to hear broadcasts of Radio Travnik. But
6 I think that from Travnik this particular piece of news was launched.
7 This man I heard about was allegedly a journalist in Travnik.
8 Q. When you referred to the Vitez radio, is it the same thing as the
9 Mahala radio?
10 A. Radio Vitez? I did not mention it except now when I made a
11 mistake. During the war, I don't remember -- I don't remember that there
12 was a Radio Vitez. I just remember this radio which made people anxious
13 due to this terrible news and also the headlines of every morning. At
14 least, I had the impression that this was done in a premeditated way and
15 in a way there was also gloating, that -- that a person who was at least a
16 bit well known would be on the list of war criminals. At one point, I was
17 afraid that they would put my name on that list. They had put so many
18 names there that I really thought they might as well include myself.
19 Q. Mr. Pranjes, you sent out a denial. You tried to refute that
20 information, calling it a misinformation, and you spoke about this in the
21 document that we saw in your language this morning.
22 At the time when this communication was sent out, there were
23 hundreds of persons who were detained in Vitez and all of them were
24 Muslims, weren't they?
25 A. I did not know. I did not know that it was only Muslims. There
1 was such a conflict that I thought that there was a general deluge, that
2 there was chaos. I knew that there was a lot of suffering involved for
3 all the people of Vitez.
4 Q. You're saying, "I didn't know," but did you then come to know it
6 A. I knew that there was a great deal of evil. I did not know about
7 persons detained, either in our church or in any other place.
8 Q. I'm not talking about people detained in the church. I'm talking
9 about people detained in the cinema, at the Workers' University, at the
10 public auditing office, Dubravica, the veterinary centre, and so on and so
11 forth. That is the places that I'm talking about, not the church.
12 A. I said very nicely that I did not know about any of that.
13 Q. And you still do not know it.
14 A. Later on, I heard that people were detained, if one may put it
15 that way, "detained." I only heard about Dubravica, about the school
16 there, I think, but I didn't hear about anything else.
17 Q. I'd like us to talk a little about that individual that you
18 mentioned awhile ago when you reproduced that document, and that is the
19 family of Rasim Topcic. You tell us that the parish was responsible for
20 taking care for this seven-member family. This is document D147/2.
21 Do you know, how did it come about that these persons were
22 entrusted, that they were placed under the protection of your parish
24 A. The parish office was not in charge of any particular family. It
25 was not specifically in charge of any particular family, to take care of
1 that family, that is.
2 If we are now talking about the Topcic family, we have good
3 relationships a century-long. Land for the church was bought from that
4 family, and there was this friendship that has gone on until the present
5 day, that is, this closeness with the Topcic family. The church was built
6 on land that was bought from them.
7 Q. You tell us that the parish office did not assume responsibility
8 for any family. I should like to show you a document which is Z807.2.
9 JUDGE MAY: It may be convenient to deal with that after the
10 adjournment. Mr. Lopez-Terres, would 20 minutes be enough for you to take
11 some instructions on that document? We will adjourn for 20 minutes. Five
13 Witness, don't speak to anybody about your evidence.
14 Perhaps you could tell him, Mr. Kovacic.
15 --- Recess taken at 11.47 a.m.
16 --- On resuming at 12.11 p.m.
17 MR. LOPEZ-TERRES: [Interpretation] Could the witness be shown the
18 Exhibit Z807.2.
19 Q. Will you please look at the page where the family of Topcic is
20 mentioned. It has -- at the top of this page, we have the words "Garic
21 Serbetic," and then below that we have family Topcic indicated.
22 MR. LOPEZ-TERRES: [Interpretation] In the English version, it
23 begins on page 3 and then goes on to page 4.
24 Q. Did you find that?
25 A. Yes.
13 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the English
14 and French transcripts.
1 Q. This document comes from the Vitez Brigade. It is signed by
2 Mr. Borislav Jozic, and after the list of various members of the Topcic
3 family, it says, "All the above-named wish to remain in Vitez, and the
4 parish office takes the responsibility or will resume all the
5 responsibility for that family." Can you -- do you see that?
6 A. Yes, I can see it. Yes, I can see it.
7 Q. Before the break, you told us that the parish office had nothing
8 to do with any responsibility. It was not assuming any responsibility for
9 the safety of these people. Now I should like to ask you to try to
10 explain to me what does this sentence mean.
11 A. Because we were friendly with the Topcic family, on that day, on
12 16th of April, that morning during that general calamity or the general
13 breakdown of everything, the parish office was informed, one of the
14 Topcics did -- because I didn't pick up the phone personally, another
15 priest answered the call. They asked for help in the belief that we, by
16 our position, by our reputation, could help them to get out of the house
17 which was set on fire.
18 Father Anto Tomas, an associate of mine, came running out of the
19 office. I followed him, but he was some 50 to 100 metres ahead of me. He
20 brought a child in his arms.
21 JUDGE MAY: I don't think we're going to be assisted, with
22 respect, if we have a complete account of the matter.
23 Mr. Lopez-Terres, what is the point that you're seeking to make
24 with this document? The evidence is that the family were in the parish or
25 were taken into the parish office, and it seems, really, that it doesn't
1 take the case a lot further. I just wonder whether there's any point in
2 pursuing it.
3 MR. LOPEZ-TERRES: [Interpretation]
4 Q. Mr. Pranjes, there are also some other families which were
5 involved, that is, not only the Topcic family that we're talking about
6 now. Do we agree on that?
7 A. Yes. There were a number of families in Vitez.
8 Q. And all these families are made of people of Muslims, aren't they?
9 A. Yes. In this case, these people were Muslims.
10 Q. And the Topcic family is also a Muslim family, isn't it?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Could you tell us, why did these families and other families call
13 you by telephone, or others, and ask you for help on the -- in the morning
14 of the 16th of April?
15 A. The Topcic family called us up because we were acquainted, and we
16 were good friends.
17 Q. But this family asked you for assistance and protection against
19 A. This family requested assistance of us, that we help them leave
20 the house which was on fire where they couldn't stay and didn't know where
21 to go because there was shooting coming from all sides. I was afraid for
22 myself, but I still went out.
23 Q. But that house which was up in flames, who set fire to it?
24 A. How could I know that?
25 Q. But it was not the Topcics who put fire to their own house that
1 morning, were they?
2 A. Obviously, they did not do it themselves.
3 Q. In the borough where you lived and where the church was and which
4 is very close to Stari Vitez, there were quite a number of Muslim houses
5 which were on fire that morning, weren't there?
6 A. In that part of town where the church was, the Muslim and Croat
7 houses are mixed. We received a report that this house was on fire, and I
8 saw it on my own eyes. I saw it in that afternoon and that evening. I
9 did not see other houses burning.
10 Q. And you do not know that it was HVO soldiers who put those houses
11 on fire; is that what you are telling us?
12 A. No, I don't know who did that.
13 Q. Were there any local Croats in that area who came to see you and
14 ask you for help? That day, I mean. Were there any Croats that came to
15 you that morning? Did any of them ask you for help?
16 A. Several Croats also turned to us for assistance. They wanted
17 assistance to try to stop the conflict as soon as possible. Several
18 Croats came.
19 Q. In the document which was shown you, 245/2, you said that the
20 Topcic family has taken full responsibility, but could you explain what
21 this sentence that you used means?
22 A. Excuse me. From whom did they take over responsibility?
23 JUDGE MAY: This document has already been commented on by the
24 Bench. There's no need to go into it again. It's not his document
1 MR. LOPEZ-TERRES: [Interpretation] But he signed the document,
2 Mr. President.
3 JUDGE MAY: Father Pranjes, can you deal with this briefly? Did
4 you take responsibility for this family or not?
5 A. We saved this family from this house on fire, and we took
6 responsibility for the family because we gave them shelter in our home.
7 In other words, we took responsibility for the husband, wife, and two
9 MR. LOPEZ-TERRES: [Interpretation] It is the next sentence that I
10 wanted to comment. The reasons are known to the parish, and it is the
11 reasons why this family was sheltered in the family that I should like to
12 know about. It is the next sentence.
13 JUDGE MAY: Can you help us, Father Pranjes, with that sentence?
14 A. Could you please repeat the sentence? Because I did not really
15 understand it very well.
16 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreters do not have the document. The
17 interpreters do not have the documents in question.
18 JUDGE MAY: The interpreters are not alone in not having the
20 Mr. Lopez-Terres, I wonder where we're going. The matters are
21 peripheral, and what I don't understand is why, unless it's disputed that
22 the parish looked after this family, why it matters. And if the witness
23 says he doesn't know who set the house on fire, there's no real point
24 pursuing it. Now, can we come to an end, please.
25 MR. LOPEZ-TERRES: [Interpretation]
1 Q. And when you saw the Topcic family and when you saw Topcic, how
2 did you find him? Was he calm or was he terrified because of what had
4 A. We were all in fear. You can imagine how people look if they're
5 carrying small children in their arms. We didn't know where to go. It
6 was completely -- there was complete uncertainty.
7 Q. You told us before the break that you did not know that Muslims
8 had been arrested and detained on the 16th of April, but did you know, on
9 the 16th of April, that there were Muslims who were killed by the HVO in
10 Vitez, in Ahmici, and other villages in the municipality?
11 A. No. On that day, I did not know anything about what was going
13 Q. But you learned it a few days later, didn't you?
14 A. Yes, later I did learn about it.
15 Q. You showed us a document, 1406/2, which has not been translated
16 and which is a communication of your parish office. This document has the
17 date of the 20th of April, 1993, and in this text, you call on all the
18 responsible persons to put an end to murders and arrests in Vitez. You
19 call on all the Croatians and ask them to do nothing which is counter to
20 their faith. You also mention Christ in the last sentence. Why is it
21 that you call upon the Christians in Vitez not to do anything that is
22 contrary to their faith and to human beings?
23 A. In this document, as you can see for yourself, I am addressing
24 myself to anyone who can do something, and especially I'm appealing to my
25 fellow Christians, those who profess the Christian faith, not to do
1 anything that would be in contravention to their faith and anything that
2 is against the human dignity. This is in the hope that we could find some
3 reasonable way out of this.
4 Q. But this appeal, does it refer to certain offences, to certain
5 actions that had already taken place or which might take place in the
7 A. No. It has nothing to do with any attacks. I just saw that there
8 were houses on fire, there were dead people, and I could not bury them. I
9 think that the text does mention that we were concerned about the -- our
10 inability to go and give people proper burials. So I set all that out in
11 the document.
12 Q. And in the afternoon of the 15th of April, after the wedding
13 ceremony which did not take place, do you remember what you did after
15 A. No, I do not recall at all. To me, that war was a hundred years
16 ago as far as my memory's concerned. I probably am trying to put
18 Q. Did you see anyone from the municipal authorities in Vitez that
20 A. No.
21 Q. And you did not leave Vitez either?
22 A. No. I stayed in Vitez throughout.
23 Q. You told us about this misinformation on the Radio Zenica and that
24 radio that you tell us was the Muslim radio. What bothered you about this
25 misinformation, the fact that they said the Muslims had been detained or
1 that they had been detained in your church?
2 A. I did not -- no, no. There were no plans, there was just news. I
3 was concerned about the news of the detention of people even in churches,
4 that such blatant lies would be broadcast.
5 Q. And you still tell us that you don't know that at that time there
6 were hundreds of Muslims who were kept in detention in other places?
7 A. I did not know of this because for five days I was unable to go
8 out and bury people who had been killed. And we had -- people were
9 calling us to come out and bury the dead. We had to call other parishes
10 and ask them to try to come out and bury the dead.
11 Q. But, Mr. Pranjes, you listened to Zenica radio, Mahala radio. You
12 could also hear Vitez radio. You could also hear Busovaca radio, couldn't
14 A. I don't remember which radio. I was too busy. I don't know
15 whether I could hear Radio Busovaca. Occasionally Radio Vitez. And
16 because of these news which was spread, I was following it, but,
17 otherwise, you could listen to a number of radio stations, including a
18 German one.
19 Q. But this Radio Vitez, Busovaca radio, they were controlled by the
20 HVO. They also carried various communications and news which were
21 alarming for the Croats?
22 A. I don't -- I don't recall at all what they were broadcasting.
23 Q. You never heard those radios airing information that Croat women
24 and children had been run over by tanks in Zenica? You never heard that?
25 A. Personally, I did not hear that.
1 Q. You protested against misinformation. Did you also protest when
2 true accurate information revealed that there were dozens of dead in
3 Ahmici, in Vitez, and in other villages in the municipality? Did you
4 protest against that too?
5 A. We protested wherever we could and with whomever we could speak.
6 We tried to transmit our information to our superiors, to the Cardinal and
7 others in order for them to try and stop it.
8 Q. Could you tell us if you personally interceded or protested with
9 your authorities with regard -- in relation to those crimes were committed
10 by the HVO against Muslims?
11 A. I did not know of these crimes, so I did not protest.
12 Q. You spoke about Mr. Morsink, and we saw a fragment of the tape,
13 and there we saw him with Mr. Mario Cerkez. And do you remember if you
14 met Mr. Morsink on the 22nd of April in your church?
15 A. I don't remember the date, but I saw that man, and I remembered
17 Q. And during that meeting, the date of which you do not remember,
18 were Ivica Santic and Pero Skopljak, the president and the vice-president
19 of the Vitez HVO, present too?
20 A. When this gentleman arrived in the church to look around, I never
21 met with him. He did it in a hurry, and Pero Skopljak was not there at
23 Q. Did you ever have a meeting with Mr. Morsink in the presence of
24 Pero Skopljak and Ivan Santic?
25 A. There were a number of meetings with the UNPROFOR representatives,
1 that is, of this military organisation, and with the monitors, but I don't
2 recall that meeting. It may have taken place, but I don't recall it.
3 Q. And you did not remember either that Mr. Skopljak at that meeting
4 was very excited, that he accused Muslims for causing all the trouble in
5 the region, and that all they could do was go to Zenica, and that would be
6 it? You don't remember that?
7 A. No.
8 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Mr. Lopez-Terres, could you
9 please, because you already were told the examination-in-chief concerned a
10 rather limited element, perhaps peripheral to the case which is our
11 concern, could you please try to focus on the subjects raised by the
12 direct examination because this, this testimony is already taking too much
13 time. Will you please try to finish.
14 MR. LOPEZ-TERRES: [Interpretation] Yes, I'm about to finish, Your
16 Q. Mr. Pranjes, the relations between the Catholic church and
17 representatives of the HVO government in Vitez were very good, weren't
19 A. Well, I would not use the term "very good." I think that they
20 were correct, rather.
21 Q. I should like to reach you a document which comes from Mr. Marijan
22 Skopljak. It is a document which has the date 28 September, 1993, and it
23 is Z1220.2. I'd like to ask you to read the last page of that document.
24 It has to do with relations between the HVO and the church in Vitez, and
25 you will have it in your language.
1 You just told us that relations were just correct, nothing more
2 than that. Will you please read this text, and you will see that
3 Mr. Skopljak, who is the head of the Defence in Vitez, tells us that the
4 relations for the church are very good and that they shared the views and
5 logically they agree. Isn't it?
6 That is what Mr. Mario Skopljak says, that there is an absolute
7 agreement, that you are cooperating well, that you are working together,
8 and there was a true communion between the HVO and the church in Vitez at
9 the time that you are talking about, wasn't there?
10 A. That was a conclusion that you may want to draw for your own case,
11 and as I did not sign this or this is not how I would state or put things,
13 Q. Thank you very much. I have no further questions.
14 MR. KOVACIC: We don't have any redirect, Your Honours.
15 JUDGE MAY: Father Pranjes, thank you for coming to the Tribunal
16 to give your evidence. It is now concluded, and you are free to go.
17 [The witness withdrew]
18 JUDGE MAY: Yes, the next witness.
19 MR. MIKULICIC: The next witness, Your Honour, will be
20 Mr. Sulejman Causevic.
21 [The witness entered court]
22 JUDGE MAY: Let the witness take the declaration.
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will
24 speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
25 WITNESS: SULEJMAN CAUSEVIC
1 [Witness answered through interpreter]
2 JUDGE MAY: If you would like to take a seat.
3 Yes, Mr. Mikulicic.
4 MR. MIKULICIC: Thank you, Your Honour.
5 Examined by Mr. Mikulicic:
6 Q. [Interpretation] Good day, Mr. Causevic.
7 A. Good day.
8 Q. On behalf of Mr. Cerkez's defence, I shall be putting questions to
9 you. Please try to answer my questions to the best of your recollection,
10 and please wait for me to finish my question, and answer it only then so
11 that we would make it possible for the interpreters to interpret what we
12 are saying.
13 Please tell us, for the record, your full name and surname, your
14 date and place of birth.
15 A. My name is Sulejman Causevic. I was born on the 30th of October,
16 1934, in the village of Todorovo, in the municipality of Velika Kladusa,
17 in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
18 Q. Mr. Causevic, you live in the town of Vitez, right? Since when?
19 A. I came to Vitez with the front brigade on the 10th of June, 1956.
20 Q. That is to say that, from 1956 until the present day, you have
21 lived in Vitez all the time?
22 A. Well, with a few interruptions, because I worked as a customs
23 official in Dubrovnik for about two years, then I also spent about two
24 years in the JNA, and then I returned.
25 Q. Thank you. Mr. Causevic, you are an ethnic Muslim, and you are a
13 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the English
14 and French transcripts.
1 citizen of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina?
2 A. Yes, yes.
3 Q. You are not a member of any political party now, but before the
4 war, during the former Yugoslavia, you were a member of the League of
5 Communists of Yugoslavia; is that right?
6 A. Yes, yes, that's right. And I became a member when I was very
8 Q. You are not a believer?
9 A. No, I'm not.
10 Q. You are married, you have two daughters and five grandchildren?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. You graduated from the higher school of law attached to the
13 University of Sarajevo, and you are now retired; is that right?
14 A. Yes, that's right.
15 Q. You spent your entire career working in the municipal
16 administration in Vitez, and you also worked on national defence affairs;
17 is that right?
18 A. Well, I spent almost my entire career in the administration.
19 Q. Mr. Causevic, since we mentioned national defence affairs, is it
20 correct that during the former Yugoslavia you worked in the municipality
21 in the so-called secretariat for national defence?
22 A. I was in charge of it.
23 Q. Tell me, what was the basic function of the secretariat of
24 national defence?
25 A. Well, let me tell you. The most important thing was to record
1 young men in the military files, to send them to do their military
2 service, and preparations for mobilisation.
3 Q. Very well. You said that you were the head of the secretariat; is
4 that right?
5 A. Yes, that's right.
6 Q. Were you a military or a civilian person?
7 A. Civilian, civilian.
8 Q. After the democratic elections in the Republic of
9 Bosnia-Herzegovina, after Bosnia and Herzegovina became an independent
10 state, did this municipal authority, the former Secretariat for National
11 Defence, did it continue to function?
12 A. Yes. Yes, I think so. Well, naturally. These are services
13 that ...
14 Q. In your opinion, did something change in the work of this
15 municipal authority?
16 A. I went to work in the employment office, and I spent one term of
17 office there after the -- after I worked in the Secretariat of Defence.
18 Then even after that, I worked in the health centre. So I didn't really
19 go into all of this after that.
20 Q. Thank you. We said at the outset, Mr. Causevic, that you have two
21 daughters. One of your daughters is Zenada Causevic; is that right?
22 A. Yes, that's right.
23 Q. Where was she employed in 1992, at the beginning of 1992?
24 A. Well, my Zenada worked in Princip Vitezit, and after that, to tell
25 you the truth, I don't remember the date or when she transferred to the TO
1 staff. She worked there for a certain period of time. I don't remember
2 how long that was.
3 Q. So she worked in the Territorial Defence staff. Tell me, did you
4 give her any advice later during 1992 in relation to her work there at the
5 Territorial Defence staff?
6 A. Well, let me tell you -- I mean, to tell you the truth, it's a
7 girl, a woman. I thought that this was not the right kind of job for a
8 woman, and there was already this trouble in Croatia. I was sick. So I
9 advised her to leave that job, and that's what she did, and she went back
11 Q. All right. Tell me, to the best of your recollection,
12 Mr. Causevic, what was the ethnic composition of the Territorial Defence
13 staff at the time in mid 1992 when your Zenada left that job?
14 A. Well, before it was quite normal. This was a normal military
15 component. Later on, as this started to -- I mean, you know those
16 inter-ethnic relations were -- well, you know, sort of disrupted, and this
17 Territorial Defence -- well, I sort of thought and I said, "Kiddo, go
19 Q. Mr. Causevic, you were not pleased to see this rift between Croats
20 and Muslims in Vitez?
21 A. I was not pleased at all to see all of this cooking in Kosovo and
22 Velika, and these log revolutions. I, as a person, could not really ...
23 Q. A few minutes ago, you mentioned that you were sick,
24 Mr. Causevic. As early as 1991, you had serious surgery in Sarajevo; is
25 that right?
1 A. Yes. Yes.
2 Q. Can you tell us what this was all about in one sentence?
3 A. Well, I was a heavy smoker and I got cancer, cancer of the throat,
4 and I was operated on at Kosevo hospital.
5 Q. After that, I assume that you had to go for regular medical
6 checkups. Is that right?
7 A. Yes. I was supposed to go to Sarajevo for a medical checkup every
8 month. I went two or three times, but then -- well, it was so difficult
9 for me. I could not go for checkups. I didn't know what the situation
10 was. So I spent most of my time at home.
11 Q. So you could not go to Sarajevo anymore. That was the time when
12 Sarajevo was under siege; is that right?
13 A. Well, yes. All that trouble started in Sarajevo and around
14 Sarajevo, so I didn't want to run any risks by going.
15 Q. However, Mr. Causevic, in Vitez there were also certain
16 incidents. We already heard about this. There were some bombs that were
17 planted in various business establishments. You were aware of that,
18 weren't you?
19 A. I heard about this. I heard, well, you know, this cafe was gone,
20 that shop was gone. So I heard about this when people talked, you know,
21 neighbours and things like that.
22 Q. Tell us, Mr. Causevic, what you heard and what you saw. Were
23 these only Muslim shops and establishments that were demolished or were
24 Croat and Serb establishments also affected?
25 A. I think that it was mostly -- I think that it was mostly Muslim
1 shops that were affected, but others were blown up too.
2 Q. All right. Did you see -- did you have any trouble at that time?
3 Did anybody mistreat you or threaten you or something like that?
4 A. No.
5 Q. Where did you live at the time in Vitez, Mr. Causevic?
6 A. I lived where I live today, that is, in the main street. It was
7 called the street of Marshal Tito, and these days it is called the Street
8 of Croat Defenders. There are 20 different tenants living there,
9 belonging to all ethnic groups, and that's the situation nowadays as
11 Q. What were the relations like between the people who lived in that
12 building? You said there were people of different ethnic backgrounds
13 there. Were there any divisions within your building?
14 A. No. No, not in our building.
15 Q. In mid 1992 when JNA aircraft shelled the surroundings of Vitez,
16 did you go to a shelter?
17 A. Well, we have basements and, yes, we went there. To tell you the
18 truth, I personally didn't go. I was not really afraid of that. I'm not
19 a person who is easily frightened.
20 Q. When the conflict broke out in Vitez and in the surrounding area
21 on the 16th of April, 1993, and when shells started falling, did people
22 from your building also start going to shelters?
23 A. Yes. Yes. For a long time people went to shelters. Because
24 these are our basements, and then everybody had a basement of his own and
25 that's where people went.
1 Q. Were Croats and Muslims and Serbs and everybody who lived in that
2 building together in these basements or were there any divisions?
3 A. No. All of us from that building were there. It's not that I
4 never went there, I mean, but, you know, all of this was sort of in the
5 hallway. We'd talk or complain. Well, you know, not really complain, but
6 sort of talk about it. You know what I mean. Well, sort of an ordinary
7 conversation, ordinary conversations.
8 Q. When these conflicts broke out in Vitez, did you walk around
9 town? Did you go out?
10 A. Well, to tell you the truth, I went for very few walks because I
11 was preoccupied with my own health condition, especially when war seemed
12 imminent, and, you know, and all this trouble in Vitez, so I didn't really
13 go out much.
14 Q. So you were mainly in the building, if I understood you
16 A. Yes, that's right.
17 Q. Did you notice that the military police of the HVO would come to
18 your building and to surrounding buildings, neighbouring buildings, and
19 did you see your Muslim neighbours being taken away?
20 A. Once they came and they took us together. That's when I went too,
21 but I didn't see them after that.
22 Q. When was that, approximately?
23 A. I really cannot remember the date, but I assume that this was
24 after the 16th, two or three days later.
25 Q. All right. Tell, Mr. Causevic, in a few sentences, if you can
1 remember, what actually happened. Where were you and who actually came to
2 get you?
3 A. Three policemen came in uniform. I was in the hall on the ground
4 floor. It just so happened this tall guy walked up to me and said,
5 "What's your name?" I mean, that was sort of the way we started
6 talking. And I said what my name and surname was, and then he said,
7 "Where do you live?" And I said "Upstairs." And he said "Come on."
8 Then I think there were five of us from that building. They said,
9 "Stand there," and I stood there. And he said "We're going to the SDK."
10 And I said "Why? Why should we go?" I remember, I remember I said that.
11 And he said, "For your own safety."
12 I laughed a bit ironically. I said, "What kind of safety is
13 that? My wife and my child will stay here." And he said, "You're
14 going." And I said, "Okay. We're going, right."
15 Q. Very well. You said that these were policemen. Were these
16 civilian or military policemen?
17 A. No, military, military, in military uniforms. I don't know -- I
18 mean, I assume that they were the police.
19 Q. All right. When you asked them, "If you are taking me to the SDK
20 for my own safety, what about my family?" did they give you any answer?
21 A. No. No. No. They just said, "Oh, come on." And I said,
23 Q. So they took you to the SDK building in Vitez; is that right?
24 A. Yes, that's right. There was a kombi van in front of the
25 building. We sat in the kombi van.
1 Q. When you came to this building, were there some people already
2 there or were you among the first?
3 A. I think that my group was the one but last, because when I came --
4 well, I think. I think. I'm not sure. I mean, when I taken my glasses,
5 I could have seen. There was this big notebook, you see, and I saw that
6 this person was writing something in this notebook. So I think, I think I
7 saw number 78 or 79, and then he asked me what my name was.
8 Q. All right. Did you find only men there or were there also women
9 and children?
10 A. No. No. It was only men. Only men. Only men. No.
11 Q. Tell us, Mr. Causevic, where were you in that building?
12 A. Well, those are offices. That is -- you know, the SDK is the
13 public accounting service. So that is where their offices were. When I
14 came there, I saw these papers, files, and I saw the people put this on
15 the ground, and then they had blankets and -- you know.
16 Q. So you were in the offices in that building; is that right?
17 A. Yes, that's right.
18 Q. To the best of your recollection, how many of you were staying in
19 that building? Approximately.
20 A. Well, I wasn't counting, but if I was the 79th person to be
21 registered there, after me there was another group that came in on the
22 next day.
23 Q. All right. How many people were there in this group the next
25 A. About five or six. I don't know. I can't remember.
1 Q. So would you say then that there were between 70 and 80 men in the
2 building? Is that the way you remember it?
3 A. Well, yes. If that number under which I was registered was that,
4 then I imagine that this is it.
5 Q. Tell us, Mr. Causevic, what were the conditions in that building?
6 I'm referring to food, hygiene, medical treatment. Can you describe this
7 for us in your own words, in a few sentences? What was your experience of
9 A. When I came, some people had pillows, others had blankets.
10 However, I didn't have any such thing. So I spent that night sitting in a
11 chair. The next day, my family came and they brought a blanket and a
12 pillow and food. I think that we mostly had food from home. There were
13 tins, and there was bread, but at least my group, the one that I was -- I
14 mean, we didn't even take that because we had enough food from home.
15 Q. Who guarded you? Was there anybody guarding you, let me put it
16 that way?
17 A. Yes. When you walk in, there was some kind of a desk there at the
18 entrance, and there were some policemen there.
19 Q. Mr. Causevic, in these offices where you were staying, were you
20 locked in there, or could you walk around the building?
21 A. Yes, you could walk around the building. You could also go to the
22 toilet, and you could go and get some water then because the water was
23 still running, yes. Then I also went home once during my stay there.
24 Families could come, and if -- I mean, we got, we got things from home.
25 Whatever people wanted to get from home, they could get from home.
1 Q. All right. During your stay there in the SDK building, did
2 somebody insult you, did somebody mistreat you, physically mistreat you in
3 any way?
4 A. While I was there, no. I have to tell the truth. There was no
5 mistreatment whatsoever. No beatings, no shouting.
6 Q. Do you remember whether some men who were together with you in
7 that building were taken out for some kind of work duty or something like
9 A. Two to three times these policemen came in the early evening, and
10 they asked for the younger men to go voluntarily. Trenches had to be
11 dug. But younger men, and voluntarily. But then, since nobody
12 volunteered, then he would say, "You, you, and you," and that was it.
13 Q. After these younger men would return, did you have an opportunity
14 of talking to them, what they did and under what conditions?
15 A. No. Well, I didn't get involved in that.
16 Q. You said at the outset, Mr. Causevic, that you had had surgery for
17 cancer of the throat. Did you ask for medical treatment in the SDK
19 A. Well, I think that I was released as a patient because I was not
20 60 yet. So when this commission was established for these persons younger
21 than 60 -- I think that it was this person who was in charge there, we
22 called him Zabac -- I talked to him, and I said, "Well, listen, I am not
23 60 yet, but I'm 59 and a half. Can I go to this commission?" We knew
24 each other.
25 After some time he said, probably by way of a joke, he said,
1 "Okay, come on. How about those who are 59 and a half, too, going?"
2 Well, that's how I went to the commission, and I was released on that day.
3 I went home.
4 Q. Two questions in relation to this, Mr. Causevic. You mentioned
5 this person whom you knew from before nicknamed Zabac.
6 A. Yes, yes.
7 Q. Is that a person called Anto Kovac?
8 A. Yes, yes. I know him because he played soccer, so we knew each
10 Q. If I understood you correctly, you said that he was in charge of
11 those military policemen in the building there?
12 A. Well, I cannot guarantee that, but I assume that he was their
14 Q. Very well. So, then, you went to this commission of doctors. Do
15 you perhaps remember who the members of this commission were who examined
16 you and others from the building?
17 A. Well, you see, I retired from the medical centre, so, I mean, I
18 was the deputy director of the medical centre. Everybody knew me very
19 well. We all knew each other very well. There was Dr. Tibolt there, and
20 then there was a Mulalic woman, and then there was this woman called
21 Enisa, and then this woman called Rada, and Jasminka also, I think. It
22 was a long time ago, you know.
23 Q. Of course. Mr. Tibolt, the doctor that you're referring to, he's
24 a Croat; is that right?
25 A. Yes, yes. We lived in the same building for a certain period of
13 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the English
14 and French transcripts.
1 time, so I knew them very well.
2 Q. What about Mrs. Mulalic, who was a member of this commission, she
3 is an ethnic Muslim; is that right?
4 A. Yes, she came from Sarajevo. So when I was there, I was, I was on
5 the commission that took her in to work as the doctor in the medical
7 Q. Do you remember whether Mr. Dzevad Balta was on this commission,
9 A. Yes, Dzevad Balta was there for a long time after these conflicts
10 in Vitez. I assumed that he went to Zenica.
11 Q. He's also a Muslim, isn't he?
12 A. Yes, yes, yes.
13 Q. All right. So then you were discharged and you went home?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. So how much time did you spend in the SDK building altogether?
16 A. Well, I think about eight, between eight and ten days. Not more
17 than that.
18 Q. Tell us, Mr. Causevic, what happened to your apartment during the
19 conflict in Vitez?
20 A. I stayed in my apartment until the second half of May, then my
21 younger daughter came and my son-in-law, probably because they were
22 concerned about me. They took me by the arm and they said, "Grandpa,
23 you're coming with us." And my son-in-law took the key to the apartment,
24 and he locked the apartment, and my apartment was empty after that. Later
25 on, I gave my apartment to a man from Puticevo in the municipality of
1 Travnik, and he -- well, he was married to somebody's sister --
2 Q. All right, never mind. You gave your apartment to a man from
3 Puticevo in the municipality of Travnik. What was he by ethnicity?
4 A. A Croat, a Croat.
5 Q. How come he was in Vitez as he was from the area of Travnik?
6 A. Well, I think he was expelled because there was a lot of fighting
7 going on over there.
8 Q. Mr. Causevic, I'm sure that you heard about the crime that was
9 committed in the village of Ahmici near Vitez?
10 A. Yes, I did, of course.
11 Q. Can you remember when you first heard of this crime, you
13 A. I either saw this on TV at my own home. I think it was CNN that
14 we saw via Sarajevo. It was either on that day when I asked to be
15 released from the SDK or later when I was discharged. I really cannot
16 remember when I found out about this.
17 Q. So what did you actually hear?
18 A. Oh, I saw the picture, and I heard what they said, I mean all of
19 this that was shown by CNN. This picture can often be seen on television
20 until the present day.
21 Q. Did you hear people talking about it in Vitez?
22 A. I tell you, at that time, I saw people very rarely because I was
23 preoccupied with my own health condition because I did not have any
24 medical treatment.
25 Q. Yes, I understand. Did you personally hear a man, a person from
1 Vitez, talking about him having been in Ahmici himself and taking part in
2 all of that?
3 A. Well, people talked about this person called Cicko, and then the
4 year before last I saw this man personally when I was sitting at the
5 retirees' club. We were playing cards, the three of us, and a man walked
6 in. He was drunk. He was really drunk.
7 As far as I can remember, he greeted us and went by and sat at the
8 neighbouring -- at the table next to us. And then I whispered to the
9 waitress, I said, "Who is he," so that he wouldn't hear me. And she said,
10 it's Cicko. And I immediately got up and I went to the other room because
11 we had two rooms, you see.
12 Q. All right. Did he say anything about Ahmici?
13 A. He was talking about himself being the only colonel in Vitez. He
14 took out a big pistol. It was the Czechoslovak's brojka, but he was
15 sitting behind my back and asking for a cognac.
16 Q. All right. This is certainly not a pleasant subject.
17 Mr. Causevic, when you were at this retirees' club of yours and
18 when you watched television and when you talked to other people, did you
19 ever hear anyone mention Mario Cerkez in relation with the crime in
21 A. No.
22 Q. Did you ever hear anyone mention Mario Cerkez in relation to some
23 other crime that was committed in Vitez or in the surrounding area?
24 A. No.
25 Q. What did people say about Mario Cerkez? What did you personally
1 hear about Mario Cerkez? What do you know about him?
2 A. I've known Mario since the time when he went to elementary
3 school. He would pass by my building. I knew him as a boy, a young boy.
4 I know him because he worked together with my daughter in this defence
5 service at the Unice factories, that is to say, at Vitezit as it's called
7 Q. And what kind of a person was he?
8 A. As far as I know, he was an honest, honourable man, a good worker,
9 a good man. Well, let me tell you, I know his parents better. I worked
10 in the municipality building, and that is across the street from where
11 they had earned their pensions.
12 Q. All right. Did you ever hear Cerkez's parents say anything bad
13 about Muslims or any other ethnic groups?
14 A. We in Vitez never said things like that. Gentlemen, in my
15 company, people never mentioned anything like that in Vitez.
16 Q. Thank you for your answers, Mr. Causevic.
17 MR. MIKULICIC: [Interpretation] I have no further questions, Your
19 JUDGE MAY: That's a convenient moment. We'll adjourn now.
20 Mr. Causevic, we are going to adjourn until quarter to three.
21 During this adjournment, please don't speak to anybody about your evidence
22 until it's over, and don't let anybody speak to you about it. Could you
23 be back, please, at quarter to three.
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] That's quite clear.
25 --- Luncheon recess taken at 1.16 p.m.
1 --- On resuming at 2.50 p.m.
2 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Nice, we'll go on until about 4.00.
3 Mr. Kovacic, you still want to deal with the ex parte matter? You
4 said for five minutes; is that right?
5 MR. KOVACIC: If I may. It's less than five minutes. It's
6 just --
7 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone to the counsel, please.
8 JUDGE MAY: Well, we'll deal with it at 4.00.
9 MR. KOVACIC: Thank you.
10 Cross-examined by Mr. Nice:
11 MR. NICE: Perhaps the usher would be good enough to move the
12 overhead projector so that Mr. Causevic doesn't have to peer at me behind
14 Q. Mr. Causevic, I don't have many questions for you, only a few.
15 First of all, what's your father's name?
16 A. Osman.
17 Q. As a non-practising Muslim, do we take it that you would be less
18 close to and have less ties with other Muslims than had you been a
19 practising Muslim?
20 A. I contacted all ethnic groups without any difference. To me,
21 religion was nothing that determined my attitude one way or the other.
22 Q. In censuses, did you register as a Muslim, a Yugoslav, or an
24 A. I myself was a census taker for a long time. Until 1974, I was
25 undeclared because the Muslim ethnic group was not recognised. By the
1 constitution of 1974, the Muslim group was recognised. This was with a
2 capital "M", and I declared myself a Muslim.
3 Q. Your wife, what ethnicity is she?
4 A. A Muslim.
5 Q. When you were detained, the explanation given about it being for
6 your own safety was complete nonsense, wasn't it? It was a silly excuse
7 for them to give.
8 A. Yes. This is what I told to those who were arresting me about
9 that whole arrest.
10 Q. Can you give us the names of those people, please?
11 A. I don't know.
12 Q. What part of the military police were they members of?
13 A. I don't know. I know that they were wearing uniforms and from
14 what I remember, one of their names was Ilija, but who he really was, I
15 really wouldn't be able to tell you.
16 Q. So far as you could judge, did they come from Vitez?
17 A. You see, these were young men, and as I said, after my operation,
18 I was less in touch with people, especially with these younger people. So
19 I wouldn't be able to tell you really.
20 Q. Just go back to the excuse being given about own safety being a
21 nonsense, the real reason that all Muslim men of military age were
22 detained was to stop them fighting, wasn't it, or to stop them fighting
24 A. I assumed that that is what it was, but I cannot claim that.
25 Q. Because, of course, the women and children weren't given any
1 protection after the men had been arrested, were they?
2 A. No. There was no need. That is, in our building there were no
3 incidents throughout the war.
4 Q. And of course, the women and children who brought food to the
5 various detention centres, they didn't need to be protected on the streets
6 when they came to bring you food, did they?
7 A. That was close by. I was in this -- this was about 50 metres from
8 my apartment. But nobody protected anyone, from what I know, that is.
9 Q. And when you went back to your apartment with leave of the
10 detaining soldiers, you didn't need protection to get back to your
11 apartment to return to the place where you were detained?
12 A. No, not at all, no.
13 Q. You received very favourable treatment in the sense that you were
14 able to stay on in Vitez, whereas most Muslims left, correct?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. One of the reasons was that, as a member of the administration,
17 you had very good contacts, including with the doctors?
18 A. I wouldn't say that. I believe -- in fact, I stayed because my
19 daughter and my son-in-law had this house, and they came to me. And you
20 know that I had this condition, so to spare me going away as a refugee,
21 they wanted -- they came and took me there, and, you know, the question
22 would be not only where I would stay, but whether I would be -- I would
23 stay healthy because, at that time, I was still fresh from the surgery.
24 Q. And is this your daughter Marima?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. And, of course, you haven't told us this, but your daughter Marima
2 was married to a man called Dario Zec who was a Croat?
3 A. Yes, yes.
4 Q. And indeed, a member of the Viteska brigade in whose service he
5 died a little later in the year?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. And the fact that you were so closely connected to Croats, members
8 of the Viteska Brigade enabled you to have a safe life in Vitez as well,
9 didn't it?
10 A. Well, I myself did not -- when we talk about my son-in-law, it is
11 more probable that the people of Vitez knew me. Nobody ever touched me on
12 any basis because I never did anything against anyone. I believe that I
13 was always, how should I put it, a respected citizen.
14 MR. NICE: Thank you, Mr. Causevic.
15 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Just for the record, Your Honour,
16 the Defence of Mr. Kordic has no questions of this witness.
17 MR. MIKULICIC: No questions, Your Honour.
18 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Causevic, thank you for coming to give evidence to
19 the Tribunal. Your evidence is now over. You're free to go.
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
21 [The witness withdrew]
22 MR. KOVACIC: Your Honour, our next witness is Mr. Mahmut Tuco. I
23 guess it will also be relatively short testimony.
24 Perhaps I could, in the meantime while we are waiting, and I again
25 apologise, this morning's video which we use only to show to the witness
1 the issue of identity of witness Morsink, the number of that evidence is
2 Z2769, and I think there was not any objection on the matter.
3 MR. NICE: I should have dealt with that last witness with one
4 other fact, but it's only a matter of record since we've referred to
5 Morsink and his list. Given the man's father's name, he appears on the
6 list not under the number that he gave when he says he was being
7 registered or whatever it was, but under number 297 on the list.
8 MR. KOVACIC: If the Prosecutor will be so kind as to tell us
9 which list.
10 MR. NICE: The Morsink list.
11 MR. KOVACIC: There is no such evidence in the case so far.
12 MR. NICE: It's been produced by another witness, actually, as
13 well as by --
14 JUDGE MAY: Let us hear about that in due course. We'll have the
16 [The witness entered court]
17 JUDGE MAY: Yes, let the witness take the declaration.
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will
19 speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
20 WITNESS: MAHMUT TUCO
21 [Witness answered through interpreter]
22 JUDGE MAY: If you'd like to sit down.
23 Examined by Mr. Kovacic:
24 Q. [Interpretation] Good afternoon, Mr. Tuco.
25 A. Good afternoon to you.
1 Q. I want to thank you for coming to this honourable Tribunal. Will
2 you please first -- I would like to advise you to always pause between my
3 question and your answer in order to give enough time to the interpreters
4 to interpret. Even though we understand each other, please make this
6 A. I understand that.
7 Q. Also, will you please state for the record your full name, your
8 date and place of birth.
9 A. My name is Mahmut Tuco. I was born on 1 July 1934 in Vitez.
10 Q. Mr. Tuco, you reside in Vitez?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Your ethnic background, please?
13 A. Muslim.
14 Q. Are you married?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Do you have children?
17 A. One.
18 Q. What is your occupation?
19 A. I am a -- I'm retired.
20 Q. And what was your education?
21 A. I have the secondary economic education.
22 Q. And where did you work?
23 A. In the Vitezit. It used to be called SPS, Slobodan Princip Seljo.
24 Q. And when did you retire?
25 A. In 1991.
1 Q. At the time when you were retired, did somebody force you into
3 A. No. I did it on my own. I had -- I decided myself to retire
4 because I had already worked for 37 years, and I was 57 years old at the
5 time, and I made that decision.
6 Q. Is it true that you submitted your request for retirement as early
7 as 1990?
8 A. That is correct.
9 Q. Mr. Tuco, in the spring of 1993, before the outbreak of
10 hostilities in Vitez, did you have any special problems which you can
11 relate to your being an ethnic Muslim?
12 A. No.
13 Q. Did anyone, in the course of 1993 and up to the date of the
14 conflict, provoke you in any special ways or offend you in any particular
16 A. No. I moved about very freely in the town where I lived.
17 Q. My apologies. I seem to be rushing you a little bit.
18 At that time, could you ever imagine -- could you have imagined
19 that a serious conflict could break out between these two ethnic groups?
20 A. What period are you referring to?
21 Q. 1992/1993?
22 A. In 1992, I never thought about that. In 1993, maybe I started
23 thinking about it. In 1992, there was some shelling. I thought that that
24 would pass. I was interested in sports and that was my focus.
25 Q. Could you place in time the moment when you first realised that
13 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the English
14 and French transcripts.
1 serious conflict would break out, if you ever reached such a point?
2 A. There were some small incidents. I don't know how to call them,
3 whether this was army or paramilitaries. Some of them were drunk; some of
4 them undisciplined. There were several cases. I never experienced any
5 one of those. I never witnessed any of those. I just heard about them.
6 So that's all I can say about that.
7 I know that when the 16th came and when the shooting started, then
8 I realised that something was wrong.
9 Q. Until this conflict of the 16th of April, did you always get your
10 retirement slips on a regular basis?
11 A. Yes, and everything was normal. I moved about and everything
12 else. In fact --
13 Q. Perhaps it's better if I question you. It may just speed the
14 matters. Where were you on 16 April 1993, in the morning when the
15 shooting started?
16 A. On the 15th -- on the evening of the 15th, I went back into my
17 house, and this is where I was in the morning, and I heard the shooting.
18 I don't know exactly what time it was, 5.00, 5.30, maybe 6.00. This is
19 when the shooting started and this is where I was.
20 Q. You mean in your apartment?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Did you stay in your apartment or did you move somewhere?
23 A. No. We all went down to the basement. One of my neighbours came
24 and said that we should all take shelter in the basement, and we did
25 because we were afraid. We were afraid of shelling and other things.
1 Q. Mr. Tuco, you lived in an apartment building. Could you describe
2 that part of town? Where was your building?
3 A. My apartment building was south of the centre of town. It was the
4 southern-most building, that is, to the south of the centre.
5 Q. Let me ask you this: How far from the hotel?
6 A. About 400 metres, I believe, perhaps a bit more. I cannot tell
7 you exactly.
8 Q. The basement you went to, did all tenants from that apartment
9 building go there?
10 A. Yes, all tenants.
11 Q. And what was the ethnic composition of the tenants?
12 A. There were all kinds, including Romani. Each entryway had its own
13 basement, and we all went to our respective basements. Later on, we came
14 out and we moved about a little bit. For instance, I went upstairs to
15 have something to eat. My family did the same.
16 Q. Mr. Tuco, did you also go to the basement of your apartment
17 building in the spring of 1992 when the JNA had air raids against the
19 A. No. People made their own decisions about whether they would go
20 down to the basement or not.
21 Q. What happened after you spent several days in the basement of the
22 apartment building?
23 A. You mean after the conflict broke out?
24 Q. Yes.
25 A. Well, we stayed there. We couldn't move anywhere. We waited to
1 see what would happen.
2 Q. Could you tell us, please, outside in the streets, was chaos
4 A. Let me tell you, you could rarely see people in the streets
5 because it was dangerous. Everybody was in their houses. People would
6 just look out the windows. There were soldiers and all kinds of things,
7 but people were mostly hiding.
8 Q. At one point were you taken from that building?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Who took you and where did they take you?
11 A. I believe -- whether this was two or three days into the conflict,
12 the policemen came into the building and they took me. At that moment, I
13 was a bit afraid too, and I asked them what was going on. One of them
14 told me, "Maso," that was my nickname, "don't be scared. This is for your
15 safety. You're not going to be beaten or anything." And my family stayed
16 behind, my wife and my daughter.
17 Q. How many policemen were there when they came to get you?
18 A. One came in and one stayed in the staircase. Two at least, maybe
19 even three. Two I'm sure of.
20 Q. Mr. Tuco, were you the only one who was taken away or were some
21 other tenants taken away?
22 A. From my entryway, I was the only one who was taken away at that
23 point. I was taken into a van, and I was taken to the cultural hall. In
24 the van I found another two or three men, and we were taken to the
25 cultural hall. There was a cinema theatre there and everything else.
1 Q. And the policemen who took you there, how did they behave towards
2 you? Were they rude? Were they impudent? Did they offend you?
3 A. No. When he addressed me with "Maso," I felt a bit easier. We
4 were taken to the cultural hall. There was no beating. There was no
5 pushing. It was all just a conversation.
6 Q. When you were brought to the cinema theatre, did you see how
7 guarded? Were there guards? And if there were, who were they?
8 A. No, there were no guards. I didn't see anyone. But in front of
9 the -- at the entrance there were several policemen, that was all.
10 Q. Where were you taken in the building?
11 A. There were a number of rooms. There was the actual theatre and
12 then there was a boiler room underneath, and I was taken to the boiler
13 room. However, it was pretty crammed there. I didn't count exactly, but
14 about 30, 40 of us went to the upstairs, and in that room there were even
15 some beds. There were rooms there. Those were actually offices.
16 Q. If I understood you correctly, you were placed in various offices
17 on the upper floor.
18 A. Yes. In fact, in the basement -- the basement is a basement, but
19 it's safer, you see, because if there was any shelling, it would have been
20 safer there.
21 Q. Did you receive food and water?
22 A. Yes. We had toilets there, we had running water, and we received
23 food regularly. It wasn't like a hotel menu. It was more mostly canned
24 food and enough bread, as much as you wanted.
25 Q. Did families come to bring the supplies that you needed?
1 A. Yes. My family came every day because they were very close by,
2 but families of others came too. My family brought me a pillow and a
3 blanket even though I didn't even need them.
4 Q. Mr. Tuco, were you free to move around the building?
5 A. Yes. On the upper floor I was free to move anywhere. There was a
6 long hallway, about 20 metres long, and then off of that hallway there
7 were various offices and there were toilets, and everybody could move
8 about freely.
9 Q. Were there any special restrictions as regards who of your family
10 could come, what they were allowed to bring you? Were any instructions
11 given in that regard?
12 A. Well, no. As for the food and covers, there was no problem. They
13 came every day. No, no, no, no difficulties, no problem at all.
14 Q. Thank you. So how long did you stay in the cinema?
15 A. I spent there, well, about 12, maybe 11 -- 11 or 12 days. And
16 some stayed as many as 15 days there, because I arrived later. I arrived
17 later, and I was released a day before, perhaps because of my age and...
18 Q. Very well, we shall come back to that. But let me ask you, during
19 those 12 days or so while you were in the cinema, were you witness to any
20 incidents, I mean any of the detainees being ill-treated, harassed,
21 verbally abused or anything?
22 A. No, no, never.
23 Q. And did you keep in normal communication with soldiers or other
24 people, those who worked in that building?
25 A. Yes, of course I did, because I used to go out, and we were there,
1 and those were people that I knew, and we were on good term. And they
2 were very nice to us. I mean, and we only welcomed them. The fact that
3 they were nice to us, and even there they even gave -- would give us a
4 drink or two and cigarettes. And there, there was some friends with me.
5 Also not only -- they treated in that manner not only me but also my
6 friends who were detained there.
7 Q. Very well. You tell us that you were there some 12 days and
8 others were there 15 days because they arrived before you, but be that as
9 it may, you left before May?
10 A. Well, it could have been a day earlier.
11 Q. I see. Do you know, then, when the last detainees left, left the
13 A. They all left on the 1st of May. They all left from the cultural
14 centre, from the cinema. I was one day before, and I believe everybody
15 else was released then.
16 Q. Mr. Tuco, were you put on a kind of a record or something when you
17 came to the cinema?
18 A. Why, I don't remember. All I know is that people came from the
19 Red Cross, and they registered us, and it was all regular, so -- but it
20 was very quick, and I don't know anything about any lists. Somebody may
21 have compiled those lists, but I don't know anything about it.
22 Q. Very well. You told us that -- you tell us that the Red Cross
23 came to visit you. Did the Red Cross have free access to you? Could they
24 speak to you without the presence of third persons?
25 A. Well, they came to where we were detained. They moved from one
1 room to another. They took our particulars, then they gave us some cards,
2 and I believe I still have one such at home.
3 Q. Very well. And once you were released, and you say it could have
4 been a day before the 1st of May, where did you go?
5 A. Straight home, and freely; on my own, naturally.
6 Q. And who did you find at home? Who was there to welcome you?
7 A. My wife and my daughter. Nobody else.
8 Q. Had they experience -- did they experience any difficulties during
9 the time you were detained?
10 A. No, none whatsoever, except that they were afraid because of the
12 Q. Was the building damaged after you returned, I mean in fighting,
13 whether by shells or fragments or rifles, bullets? Did you see something?
14 A. Well, there were shellings, some windows were cracked, but the
15 building was habitable. It was quite regular.
16 Q. Were all your windowpanes intact?
17 A. No. They're still not. We still have plastic sheets.
18 Q. Thank you. And so a few days ago you became incorporated in a
19 labour unit, in a labour platoon. Will you explain how did this come
21 A. Well, this labour platoon existed there, and it went to dig
22 trenches, and we performed other works in the town, whatever was
23 necessary. But they brought in everybody, regardless of your ethnic
24 origin or religion or whatever. They had everybody. And that platoon
25 numbered some 20 men, although I think it was -- there was even one
1 Slovenian. So mostly Muslims, but there were also Serbs, Catholics,
2 Croats, I mean. And we worked regularly, as the need arose.
3 Q. Mr. Tuco, was your labour platoon, was it organised by the civil
5 A. Yes, it was.
6 Q. And how long did you take part in the activities of that labour
8 A. Well, let me tell you, I worked for some four months there, and
9 then I complained to the doctor about my sight because one usually went to
10 dig trenches at night, and then I was released of that particular duty.
11 But I was sent to work at the Caritas house, that humanitarian people that
12 helped us survive, and that is where I worked to load and unload, but I
13 freely went to work and came back from work.
14 Q. And where was the Caritas warehouse for which you worked?
15 A. That was at the elementary school in Vitez. Not the secondary
16 school, but right next to it. The buildings are neighbouring buildings,
17 and that was the elementary school -- or rather, the gym.
18 Q. I see. Mr. Tuco, you spent time with the Caritas house until the
19 end of the war. You went to work and came back from work normally as you
20 used to do with SPS?
21 A. Well, so far as necessary, yes, we were in a cellar, protected.
22 So if necessary, then we went to work, because we also work in the town or
23 the Caritas house or wherever, we went there. But it always depended on
24 the -- on whether something was necessary to do or not. Sometimes we did
25 nothing. There were days when we just played cards and amused ourselves.
1 Q. But you went to work on your own and you left on your own?
2 A. Yes, naturally. Because in this labour platoon where I worked,
3 there was a Croat who fell ill. No, he wasn't wounded. Something was
4 wrong with his spine, and they suggested me as the leader of the group.
5 But, you know, this leader of the group also has to work and offer -- and
6 give an example to others, so I refused it, but then this Slovenian agreed
7 to become the leader of the group.
8 Q. Oh, I see, this Slovenian became the leader of that platoon?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Mr. Tuco, there was quite a large number of refugees in the town
11 even prior to 1993. Do you remember that?
12 A. Refugees, in the town?
13 Q. Well, I mean those who had come to Vitez from other places.
14 A. Oh, you mean expellees. Yes, well, expellees. No, to me refugees
15 are from other states, or perhaps from other towns, but these were
16 expelled from other places. Yes, sure there were in the beginning, armed
18 Q. And you, being a native citizen of Vitez, who do you think
19 threatened your security? Who did you expect that threat from?
20 A. Well, I feared most unknown men coming into Vitez, from where and
21 how I don't know, but I would see them when I went to work, and it wasn't
22 really very nice to see them. I never had any fears from our local
24 Q. Mr. Tuco, why were you afraid of those outsiders who had arrived
25 in your town?
1 A. Well, because I did not know them. I didn't know why they had
2 come or what they were. And after all, it was -- there was a war on. To
3 now interpret politics, I don't know anything, but I simply know that that
4 was not quite all right.
5 Q. Mr. Tuco, among those men, were there some individuals who had
6 been expelled from the villages, who had lost their homes, families, and
7 the like?
8 A. Those who came from the outside into town, into Vitez, well, yes,
9 they were such expelled, I guess. They didn't come of their own volition
10 there, or did they?
11 Q. Mr. Tuco, you knew Mario Cerkez even before the war, didn't you?
12 A. Yes, of course. And his father, too, and his mom, because after
13 all, we are neighbours, and his father is my peer or thereabouts. He's
14 1934, born in 1934, 1933. We worked together. He was in the presidency
15 of our football club, and I played football so that --
16 Q. And, in the club, you had Muslims and Croats and Serbs?
17 A. Yes, all together.
18 Q. And would you agree that this is a family which never had any
19 ethnic grudges to bear against anyone before the war?
20 A. Well, you can't imagine. I mean, you carry -- I mean, we were
21 house friends. We were always together and socialised and palled. I
22 mean -- and I even had a number of orthodox friends and Catholics -- I
23 mean Croats. I mean, house friends, and not to mention the football club.
24 Q. Mr. Tuco, and during the war, did you ever see Cerkez during the
25 war and especially while you were detained in this cinema?
1 A. Yes, I did.
2 Q. And how did he treat you?
3 A. Well, he always was laughing and smiling. We never discussed the
4 war. We just say a friendly hello to each other, say everything will be
5 all right. He would say, "Everything is going to be okay," and his, his
6 deputy, his deputy from, from work, from where we worked together -- my
7 wife worked with him. But there were three factories, and I worked in one
8 factory, he worked in another one, and so on, but we would meet, yes.
9 Q. Well, the Court has heard a great deal about all those factories,
10 so I do not think we have to go into that.
11 Mr. Tuco, do you know that on the 15th of April, 1993, the BiH
12 Army, Stari Vitez, had a celebration, held an event?
13 A. Yes. I was with a friend called Mirko, he was killed later on,
14 and with my brother-in-law. We were present at the celebration. We sat,
15 had a few drinks, but they were celebrating. They were marking this on
16 the upper floor, and we were sitting downstairs and having those drinks.
17 Q. Mr. Tuco, do you remember if it was one day or two days before the
18 conflict? On the 14th or the 15th of April, 1993?
19 A. I think that was on the 15th, that is, on the eve of the conflict
20 itself. I don't think I'm wrong.
21 Q. Very well. You did not tell us what building did this celebration
22 take place.
23 A. In Stari Vitez.
24 Q. No. I'm asking you about the building.
25 A. Oh, that was the fire brigade centre, and it was a one-story
13 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the English
14 and French transcripts.
1 house; that is, on the ground floor there was a restaurant, and we were
2 sitting there, and I could see those other patrons, and I saw people going
3 upstairs because they were marking the army day.
4 Q. But the restaurant was an open place? Everybody could go there?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. And you mentioned Mirko. Who was that Mirko who you were sitting
8 A. He was killed. He's from Vitez. Mirko, Mirko Lakic.
9 Q. A Muslim or a Croat or what?
10 A. Mirko. Mirko was a Croat. Oh -- Mirko was a Croat. And my
11 brother-in-law's name is Smajo.
12 Q. And he was also there?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. And you saw -- whom did you see? Which Croat representatives did
15 you see attend this celebration?
16 A. It was a very nice day, and we could see them not once, but people
17 were coming and going, so I saw -- I saw Nikola Krizanovic too.
18 Q. And did you also see the accused Mario Cerkez?
19 A. Yes, of course I did, and Calic, too. Calic -- what's his first
20 name? Ljuban, I think. I can't remember because there are three brothers
21 Calic. One is Dragan, Ljuban. And I knew Ljuban well, and he was there
22 too as an escort or bodyguard or something. I don't really know what the
23 military term is.
24 Q. Was it perhaps -- if I mention the name, perhaps you will
25 remember. Was it Vlado Calic?
1 A. Why, yes, it could be. Yes, indeed. There are three brothers,
2 Ljubo, Vlado, and Dragan. And Dragan, he has a shop. And, yes, this was
3 Vlado. Vlado. Yes, quite right.
4 Q. And tell us, Mr. Tuco, while you sat in that restaurant, those
5 Croats that you just mentioned who came to attend the celebration, how
6 long did they stay there, from what you saw?
7 A. Well, I can't really remember because I was there sometime around
8 noon, and I went home then and ...
9 Q. Very well. No, never mind.
10 A. But it was daytime at any rate. It was daytime. But I don't
11 really know how long they stayed there.
12 Q. Very well. Mr. Tuco, you stayed in Vitez for the duration of the
13 war, didn't you?
14 A. Well, yes. And I wanted to do that. My wife asked me to leave
15 but I didn't want to. What do I know? You know, how shall I come back
16 and where does one go with the groceries bag or something like that? And
17 I was sure I could stay there, so I stayed. What could I do? But I
18 worked. I did work, but like everybody else.
19 Q. And did anything else happen apart from what you just told us,
20 that you had to work, this detention and things? Did anything bad -- did
21 you go through anything else bad, you or your wife or anybody else?
22 A. No. Come on. Dear me. Nothing. No. We were protected like
23 everybody else, and that is the only way it could be.
24 Q. And are you still on good terms with your neighbours, with Croats
25 living in your building?
1 A. Yes, I'm still on good terms with everybody else. I still am on
2 good terms with all of them.
3 Q. Thank you very much, Mr. Tuco. I have no further questions.
4 MR. SAYERS: No questions, Your Honour.
5 Cross-examined by Mr. Nice:
6 Q. Mr. Tuco, your father's name, please?
7 A. Uzeir. Uzeir.
8 Q. Are you aware that when you were detained you were registered and
9 listed as person being detained number 248 on the same list? Were you
10 aware that you were being listed?
11 MR. KOVACIC: Your Honour.
12 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Kovacic, I know at the moment the document hasn't
13 been produced formally, but counsel's entitled to put it.
14 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Can I --
15 JUDGE MAY: Unless there is some objection, it seems to me a
16 perfectly proper question.
17 MR. KOVACIC: The only objection, Your Honour, is that of course
18 the Prosecutor could use this as a source of information, but if he's
19 precisely telling the witness, "You are listed on that list number 284,"
20 it could be confusing for the witness.
21 JUDGE MAY: Well, if it is, we'll stop the Prosecutor. Yes.
22 MR. NICE: I fail to see how it can be confusing. The document's
23 also been produced through a Defence witness, Stipo Ceko.
24 Q. Mr. Tuco, one other thing. Perhaps I'll come to that later.
25 When you were arrested and detained, this was without your
1 consent, wasn't it?
2 A. Well, of course. Who wants to go to a place which is not quite
3 all right?
4 Q. You didn't enjoy surrendering your freedom for as many days as you
6 A. Could I be happy about this, such a thing? I could never be
7 because that was not all right.
8 Q. And when you were there, you were detained by armed guards?
9 A. We were guarded by armed guards, yes, at the very exit into the
10 passageway, into the hall. Of course there had to be somebody. But
11 around, I don't know, but, yes, there were guards at the entrance.
12 Q. This particular unit guarding you, do you know which unit it was?
13 A. How can I know that? I haven't the slightest.
14 Q. You come from Vitez, Mr. Tuco. You're well known in the area.
15 A. Yes, I am from Vitez, but -- yes, I am from Vitez, but I didn't
16 like that. I never liked it, army or anything, except for having to serve
17 it. But otherwise, I only went once or twice for some shooting training,
18 but I never really liked the army and I wasn't really interested in it.
19 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... mention a man named Zabac who
20 you knew as a football player?
21 A. Yes. Yes. I was his coach.
22 Q. And you still can't tell us which unit he belonged to?
23 A. Believe me, I have no idea. How could I? How could I have
24 these -- how could I have these data about what regiment he belongs, what
25 unit he belongs, or I don't know.
1 Q. It may seem a silly question, but I'm going to ask you the
2 questions the other way 'round. You can't say to which group he and the
3 soldiers guarding you were not members? For example, you can't say they
4 weren't Viteska Brigade members, you can't say they weren't Vitezovi, can
6 A. All I know is that there were active-duty soldiers, but who they
7 belonged to, I have no idea, and nobody can say I do because I really
8 don't. And I had -- really, how could I learn about these things?
9 Because all I did was work, get some sleep. I was even on the move all
10 the time. But I met those people, I greeted them. I know them all. That
11 Anto Kovac called Zabac, we would greet each other as always. But what
12 can I tell you if I don't know where he was or where he wasn't? And I
13 didn't care it. I really didn't care. I couldn't be bothered by that.
14 Q. I'll return to that in a minute. I just want you to look at one
15 page from a document. It hasn't yet been produced in full. When you see
16 the number of names on it, perhaps it shouldn't be.
17 MR. NICE: Can I just hand in this page and see if the witness can
18 help us with it? It's 1477.11, and I'm afraid the title hasn't been
19 translated but I hope that that won't hold us up. It's a document of
20 Individuals Engaged in the Homeland War Registered in the Vitez Defence
21 Office by its title. If we can just lay it on the ELMO.
22 You see this document. We go to the -- it's one, two, three,
23 four, five -- sixth entry down from the top. If you can focus in on it,
24 please. Sorry. No, further down than that.
25 You see a name there -- I hope you do -- Tuco Uzeir Mahmut. Is
1 that you?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Tuco Uzeir Mahmut, is that you?
4 A. I am Mahmut Tuco, son Uzeir. My father is Uzeir.
5 Q. In which case you're second down from the top?
6 A. Father Uzeir.
7 Q. Second down from the top, is that you there? It doesn't seem to
8 have the right date of birth. If you look further down towards the middle
9 of the page, against number 7254 --
10 A. Tuco -- Abdulah Tuco, Edib Tuco. Abdulah Tuco, Edib Tuco. What's
11 this? Emina Tuco, Enver Tuco, Mahmut Tuco. That's mine. Mahmut Tuco,
12 father Uzeir. That's me.
13 Q. Now, we see there recorded some periods of service from the 20th
14 of April of 1993, to the 20th of February 1994, with status P, and then
15 from the 20th of February, 1994 now until the 15th of May, 1994 now with
16 status MUP. Can you explain that for us, please?
17 A. You're asking me?
18 Q. Yes, I am. Can you explain why you're recorded as having those
19 two different periods of duty and two different functions?
20 A. I must ask you -- I must ask you -- I must ask you to repeat the
21 question which you are addressing to me personally.
22 Q. Can you look at the right-hand side of the entry beside your name,
23 to the two lines, one of which records duty under the title P for the
24 20th of April, 1993, to the 20th of April, 1994, and the second passage
25 records duty from the 20th of February, 1994 to the 15th --
1 A. 20th of April, 1993.
2 Q. 20th of April, 1993, to the 20th of February 1994. Then the next
3 period of duty is recorded as the 20th of February, 1994 to the 15th of
4 May, 1994, and the code for your duty is M-U-P, MUP.
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Can you explain that for me, please?
7 A. MUP, M-U-P. I don't know. I don't know who put that. I've got
8 nothing to do with MUP. I've never been there.
9 Q. Very well.
10 A. I don't know. What MUP?
11 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... but before we do, help us
12 with this: The majority of the Muslims in Vitez left Vitez by the end of
13 1993, didn't they?
14 A. You're right there. Not all, but most did, yes.
15 Q. Why were you so privileged that you didn't have to leave, please?
16 A. It was at my request, and I was putting things at risk. Mostly
17 because of the flat and everything. And it was owing to sports and that.
18 I felt that they liked me and I had protection by Mario, late Kraljevic,
19 and I was even given protection in writing with signature that I would
20 have no problems, no difficulties, and I was satisfied and content. I was
21 content, and I stayed. And I guarantee that. And if you want me, I can
22 also show you documents about that. I think I would find them at home.
23 Q. Well, Darko Kraljevic gave you protection, but I want to know
24 why. Why did he give you protection, of all people?
25 A. Why? Because I -- I was -- I was -- I was very close friends with
1 his father. I was great friends with him. And then there was also --
2 what's -- what's his name? Oh, yes, the military police. And I don't
3 know. There was no need for me to go. Why? And those who came, who came
4 from the outside, especially those armed individuals, are there any
5 Muslims there, that's what they called us, and some bad words, but there
6 were no problems.
7 Q. I don't want you to go on too long because I want to finish just a
8 couple of minutes. Just rather than leave it at a mystery, let's look at
9 the document, 1085.3, please, coming your way. Original to the witness,
10 English copy on the ELMO. There's also French on this.
11 This is the document that you got from Darko Kraljevic on the 20th
12 of June, I expect you were referring to, which is the certificate whereby
13 the Vitezovi unit for the special purposes confirms that the apartment at
14 Marshal Tito street occupied by you and your wife shouldn't be
15 appropriated, and that the same people should be able to use it, and that
16 was to protect you from eviction. These certificates must have been very
17 valuable, Mr. Tuco.
18 A. Absolutely, absolutely. Valuable.
19 Q. Can you give us any hint of what it was that you did for the
20 Croats to save you from eviction and being forced out of Vitez, whereas
21 many other members of your very own family were forced out? What did you
22 do to safeguard your interests?
23 A. Nothing. I mean, I did not do any services. I'm not that kind of
24 person. Most of my people stayed back in Vitez. And there were lots of
25 others who did not bear my last name. What did I do? I have no idea
1 whatsoever. I was just a great friend of Darko's, if that's the way it
3 Q. And of Mario, I think you said, as well. You said that he
4 protected you.
5 A. With his father, with his father. Well, it's not that he
6 protected me. I mean, his behaviour -- you know, I was all right. He was
7 all right to me, and he issued this kind of certificate in order to have
8 people protected. That I know for sure. Not only to me, but to lots of
10 Q. Well, just to complete in because I don't want to spend any more
11 time on it, you're also part of the same family of Tucos that connected
12 with the Sebastijan pizzeria, and man Branko Markovic, aren't you, the
13 same family; and they were protected as well?
14 A. Protected, you bet, like me.
15 Q. Thank you. The buildings around the cinema where you were
16 detained were shelled, weren't they, from time to time?
17 A. Yes, around the hotel primarily. The hotel is perhaps about 30 to
18 40 metres away from the cultural centre. That's where most of the shells
19 fell. Yes, around the centre too. I remember once when I --
20 Q. That's fine. I'm going to stop, Mr. Tuco, because we can't -- if
21 you'd answer the questions, that's all I need. Thank you very much.
22 While you were being detained, did you see a man named Anto Kovac,
23 named Zabac, detaining the prisoners?
24 A. It's not only that I noticed him. There were quite a few of
25 them. There were shifts. Sometimes there was somebody and then --
1 Q. Please confine yourself -- it would be helpful if you would
2 confine yourselves to the questions.
3 As of him, did you hear of what he did, in particular, to any
4 women? Just yes or no.
5 A. I have no idea, neither good nor bad, in relation to women.
6 Q. Very well.
7 A. I have no idea.
8 Q. Leave it there. Did you learn about those Muslims who were rather
9 less fortunate than you and went to Kaonik camp?
10 A. Well, this was a group of sort of higher ranking people, I don't
11 know, intellectuals, politicians. They were taken to Busovaca and
12 returned, and I was even present there. Like, who would go to Travnik and
13 Zenica and who would stay back, but I didn't really record that. I have
14 no idea who went where. I have no idea.
15 Q. All right. I'm going to break into your answer again.
16 Why was it, as you understood it, that the intellectuals of the
17 Muslim faith had to be taken to a more secure and more remote prison,
18 please? What had they done to deserve that?
19 A. Well, I can't explain that to you. That's what politics does. I
20 have no idea. I mean, there are two parties that are in conflict, and how
21 and -- I can't talk about this. I can't talk about things I don't know.
22 I really don't know.
23 Q. We have a document. I needn't trouble you with it. For the
24 record, it's 1296.4 which deals with a number of the members of the Tuco
25 family who were expelled from Vitez.
1 Can you just confirm if you know these names, that Amra, Mirjana
2 and Fatima Tuco were expelled from Vitez, along with Nedzad and Sultanja,
3 Alan, and Amir? Do you know whether all those people were expelled?
4 A. Well, as for those names -- well, there are Tucos that are not
5 related to me at all. They are from a bit further up, near Kruscica. I
6 know one Amra, and then yet another Amra, and then there's my brother's
7 daughter Amra who's married, and then this other brother, I mean --
8 Q. All right, let me stop you again.
9 Were people by these names, to your knowledge, expelled? Your
10 wider family or maybe not even your family but the same name, were these
11 people expelled?
12 A. You, you threw all of this at me so fast, I can't remember all of
13 that. Why don't you do it nice and slow.
14 Q. Just help us with this because we're short of time. Were there
15 members of the Tuco family who were expelled, please? Give us the name of
16 one or two of them. We'll deal with it that way around.
17 A. Just a minute, just a minute. None of my brothers. Well, one of
18 my brothers was expelled. Actually, he was not expelled. I mean, this
19 happened by chance. He took his wife to the hospital, and on the very day
20 of the conflict, he happened to be there, and he could not come back, so
21 he spent the night -- I mean, he went before --
22 Q. All right.
23 A. Yes, yes.
24 Q. Please try and focus on the question. Can you name a person
25 member of the family who was expelled, quite simple.
13 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the English
14 and French transcripts.
1 A. My brother. Sedzad Tuco.
2 Q. What distinguished him from you that he was expelled and that you
3 were allowed to remain?
4 A. Let me explain this to you real fast. He was not expelled.
5 His wife is sick; her nerves are sick. He took her to Zenica, to
6 the hospital for some kind of examination, and then when he went there he
7 had to spend the night in his sister's place. And he wanted to return the
8 next day, but he couldn't come back. He did not leave -- he did not know
9 that there would be a conflict. So it just so happened that he left on
10 the day of the conflict. He would not have gone had he known --
11 Q. If you're not going to answer the question or can't answer the
12 question, I'll move on so I can finish in the next three minutes.
13 One thing about the circumstances of your arrest, you claim you
14 don't know the soldiers who arrested you, but they knew you by nickname.
15 Did you see the lists that they had with them that were -- or whatever
16 document it was that enabled them to know what to call you when they came
17 and took you away?
18 A. They, they probably knew where I lived, these people -- I mean,
19 had they not known where I lived, they probably would not have found me,
20 right? I don't know about this list.
21 Q. All right.
22 A. I mean --
23 Q. Next question. The fire station celebration, is this the fire
24 station on the road to Stari Vitez?
25 A. What's that?
1 Q. Is this the fire station? You've talked about the fire station
2 celebration on the 15th of April, unless I've misunderstood you. Is that
3 the fire station on the road to Stari Vitez? Fire house, I mean.
4 A. That's in Stari Vitez. Yes, that is the fire fighting building
5 that belongs to all.
6 Q. Thank you. Now there are just three questions I'm going to ask
7 you about this, then I'm finished, and each of them can probably be
8 answered very shortly.
9 Question number one, you have no idea what time that celebration
10 actually ended, do you?
11 A. I don't know exactly what time because I did not stay until the
12 end; I left. I did not even know -- I did not even go to the new building
13 in town.
14 Q. Part of the same question and then I'll move on. What time did
15 you see Mario Cerkez there?
16 A. Well, that was around midday, between 11 and 1.00, I think, or
17 perhaps --
18 Q. Next question.
19 A. -- 11.30.
20 Q. Next question. You spoke of two names I'd like your help with.
21 Nikola Krusenova [phoen], I think. Just who was he?
22 A. Nikola Krizanovic.
23 Q. Krizanovic.
24 A. He's a mechanical engineer, very well known to me. We worked
1 Q. All right.
2 A. And later, you know, he had a job, and then he trained further,
3 and then --
4 Q. What job did he have at the time?
5 A. Nikola Krizanovic, you mean? Nikola Krizanovic, I have no idea.
6 Q. Right.
7 A. I just know he's an expert.
8 Q. Right, that's all I need to know about that.
9 The last question is you spoke of this man called Ljuban who was a
10 bodyguard. Whose bodyguard was he? One of three brothers.
11 A. Ljuban, I have no idea. Ljuban Calic, you mean? He came with
12 Mario Cerkez then, but I don't know whose he was. He was -- whether he
13 was Cerkez's or Nikola Krizanovic's. He was not up there where the
14 celebration was in all of that. I saw him on the stairs. I have no idea.
15 Q. And you could detect that he was somebody's bodyguard?
16 A. Well, that's what I thought, assumed.
17 MR. KOVACIC: Very briefly, Your Honour
18 Re-examined by Mr. Kovacic:
19 Q. [Interpretation] This last question, are you sure, in view of the
20 previous answers you gave, was this Ljuban or Vlado Calic?
21 A. I'm not sure. I know Dragan 100 per cent, but the other two
22 brothers I tend confuse, whether it's Vlado or Ljuban. I can't guarantee,
24 Q. Mr. Tuco, please try to be as brief as possible, but you know
25 beyond any doubt that there are three Calic brothers?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. So are you asserting who was there exactly, or do you leave the
3 possibility open of either one of those two being there?
4 MR. NICE: This is highly contentious and leading. The witness
5 was quite clear in his first answer --
6 JUDGE MAY: I don't see --
7 MR. NICE: -- and he named the brothers, and he said that one was
8 called Ljuban, and he was a bodyguard.
9 JUDGE MAY: Yes.
10 MR. KOVACIC: And before that --
11 JUDGE MAY: Let's --
12 MR. KOVACIC: -- the witness said -- sorry.
13 JUDGE MAY: Let's move on.
14 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
15 Q. Document Z1477.11, the list that was given to you. Let's not
16 waste any time with this document, Mr. Tuco.
17 MR. KOVACIC: Your Honour, we checked the transcript. The witness
18 in the direct said Vlado Calic and not Ljuban, but nevertheless.
19 Q. This document, this list that you got a few minutes ago, I'm going
20 to read a few names to you, and you just say Croat, Muslim, Croat,
22 THE INTERPRETER: Could counsel please show down.
23 Q. Trogrlic, Slavko, what's he?
24 A. A Croat.
25 Q. Trogrlic, Tomislav?
1 A. A Croat.
2 Q. Trogrlic, Vinko?
3 A. Croat.
4 Q. Trogrlic, Zoran?
5 A. Croat.
6 Q. We can agree that all of those with the name of Tuco are Muslims,
8 A. Yes, yes.
9 Q. So then there are a few Tucos in the document, and then Turic,
11 A. Croat.
12 Q. Turic, Anka?
13 A. Turic?
14 Q. Yes. Anto is her father's name, Anka is her name.
15 A. Croat.
16 Q. Turic, Anto?
17 A. Croat.
18 Q. Turic, Bernard?
19 A. Croat.
20 Q. Turic, Darinka?
21 A. Croat.
22 Q. Turic, Franjo?
23 A. Croat.
24 Q. And one more Franjo?
25 A. Croat.
1 Q. Thank you.
2 MR. KOVACIC: Your Honour, just for the record, out of 20 persons
3 on that list, 11 are Croats.
4 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Tuco, when you talked about going or not
5 going out of Vitez after the conflict broke out, you stayed in accordance
6 with your very own decision; is that correct?
7 A. Yes, that's correct.
8 Q. Did anybody order you to stay?
9 A. No. No, I could have left. I didn't want to leave.
10 Q. I'm asking you the following: Did you personally know any ethnic
11 Muslim who had left after the war broke out in Vitez?
12 A. Are you asking me about before or after the conflict?
13 Q. After the conflict.
14 A. Well, there were quite a few of them.
15 Q. All right, my next question. Did any one of them tell you that he
16 or she had been ordered to leave, or was it their own decision?
17 A. In most cases they had to leave.
18 Q. Why did they have to leave?
19 A. Well, because other expellees came there, and they had to go.
20 Q. Very well, and just one more question. While you were at the
21 cinema, was anybody hurt or wounded because of the shooting and the
22 shelling in the cinema building?
23 A. No.
24 Q. Can you specify the time when the cinema was shelled? I'm talking
25 about months, weeks, all that. Was there any shells that hit the cinema
1 while you were in the building?
2 A. Directly the cinema? Yes. Well, the roof -- well, I don't know
3 whether it was before or after. I don't know, I can't remember. It's as
4 if one was there. There were lots that were falling around, but...
5 MR. KOVACIC: I have no further questions, Your Honour.
6 Q. [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. Tuco.
7 A. You're welcome.
8 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Tuco, thank you for coming to the Tribunal to give
9 your evidence. That concludes --
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you, too.
11 JUDGE MAY: You are free to go.
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you very much.
13 JUDGE MAY: We will adjourn now to go into ex parte session. Ten
15 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 4:05 p.m., to
16 be followed by Ex Parte Hearing