1 Tuesday, 3rd August, 1999
2 (Open session)
3 (The accused entered court)
4 --- Upon commencing at 9.03 a.m.
5 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning, Your Honours.
6 Case number IT-95-14/2-T, the Prosecutor versus Dario
7 Kordic and Mario Cerkez.
8 JUDGE MAY: Yes. Let the witness take the
10 MR. STEIN: May it please the Court. After
11 he does, may I be heard?
12 THE WITNESS: I solemnly declare that I will
13 speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the
15 JUDGE MAY: If you would like to take a
17 THE WITNESS: Thank you.
18 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Mr. Stein?
19 MR. STEIN: Sir, we are prepared to proceed
20 with Mr. Ellis, but I should note for the record that
21 we got his provisional summary at 8.35 this morning and
22 his final proofing summary five minutes ago.
23 JUDGE MAY: I think we have heard this
24 before. It is in addition to what you have already
25 received. It is a helpful document because it focuses
1 minds on all sides as to what the witness should be
2 saying. Clearly, there is a problem about getting it
3 around if the witness, as usual, has only come in the
4 night before, but I'm sure the Prosecution have heard
5 what's ahead.
6 WITNESS: JOHN ELLIS
7 Examined by Mr. Nice:
8 Q. Full name, rank, and present position,
10 A. I am Major John Richard Ellis. I am the
11 staff officer grade two responsible for information
12 management at headquarters, Kosovo IV, currently based
13 in Pristina, Serbia.
14 Q. Deployed with the Cheshire Regiment at the
15 end of 1992 to Bosnia, did you become the liaison
16 officer for Kakanj, Visoko, Olovo, Breza, and Vares
17 shortly after Christmas 1992?
18 A. I did.
19 Q. I've laid on the ELMO the map that I know
20 some of the Court are using as a general map for
21 reference, if the focus can be as large as possible.
22 To set your task in a geographical context, can you, in
23 summary but identifying towns and roads as you go
24 along, explain in a couple of sentences your area of
1 A. My area of responsibility was almost exactly
2 from the junction, what was called the Zenica junction,
3 with the road to Vitez going to the west and Kakanj to
4 the east.
5 Q. Now, pausing there, at the moment, the focus
6 of the map isn't very clear. What we can see is Zenica
7 at the top, just point to it --
8 A. (Indicating)
9 Q. -- and then Kakanj to the east. Thank you.
10 Carry on.
11 A. From there, my responsibility extended
12 west -- wrong, east and south covering the town of
13 Kakanj, from Kakanj, again east again up through
14 Haljinici to Kraljevska Sutjeska, just off the map, and
15 south down to Visoko, and from Visoko further across to
16 Breza and Vares. Vares is almost due east from
17 Haljinici and Kraljevska Sutjeska.
18 Q. The nature of your duties was what?
19 A. I was the liaison officer with the
20 responsibility for trying to maintain an open route for
21 aid convoys and military traffic to move from Vitez,
22 Stara Bila, through to the Tuzla salient.
23 Q. To do that, did you make and keep contact
24 with local military and/or political personalities?
25 A. Yes, with a number of them. It was essential
1 to the job.
2 Q. In the course of your work, did you get to
3 know the HVO commanders of both Vares and Zepce?
4 A. I did.
5 Q. What was their attitude towards Muslims?
6 A. The commander in Vares was exceptionally
7 anti, the reasoning being that he had an ongoing feud
8 with the Muslim RBiH commanders to the south from
9 Visoko and from Breza, to the extent that he accused
10 them a number of times of committing attempts on his
11 life in the form of a car bomb and close quarter
13 Q. Zepce?
14 A. Zepce was a political appointee who made
15 significant efforts to point out that he was very
16 anti-Muslim and would do what he could to make life
17 difficult for them.
18 Q. I want you to deal in a moment with what you
19 knew of the attitude of Dario Kordic in Busovaca, but
20 before I come to that, it will be necessary for you to
21 tell us one or two things about the deployment of
22 certain brigades.
23 In order to do that, can we substitute for
24 the general map a black and white copy of the portion
25 of it that you're looking at, which will become
1 Z2612.8? If you, Major Ellis, can have a red marker, I
2 think it will probably show up on the black and white
4 Can you tell us, please, about the
5 disposition of certain brigades? First, the Jajce
7 A. The Jajce Brigade had originally been moved
8 following the fighting in Gornji Vakuf as part of a
9 settlement to the area of Biljesevo, which is
10 located --
11 Q. Can you mark it and put "J" for Jajce in a
12 big mark?
13 A. (Marks)
14 Q. Thank you.
15 A. -- located in a school to the south of the
17 Q. Thank you. The ArBiH 319 Brigade.
18 A. The 319 Mountain Brigade was the permanent
19 resident brigade in Kakanj, and its headquarters was
20 located in the centre of Kakanj.
21 Q. Can you just write "319," again for ease of
23 A. (Marks)
24 Q. Then the 3rd Battalion of the 7th Muslimanski
1 A. The 3rd Battalion of the 7th Muslimanski
2 Brigade originally were based in the Sretena Hotel but
3 subsequently moved to a school about one kilometre west
4 of the main road.
5 Q. Could you mark that as "3/7" for our
7 A. (Marks)
8 Q. In your judgement, did the disposition of
9 these brigades have some effect on the attitude of
10 Dario Kordic?
11 MR. STEIN: I object. Objection unless there
12 is a proper foundation.
13 JUDGE MAY: The question is perfectly
14 proper. The witness can answer, giving the basis of
15 his knowledge for his opinion.
16 MR. NICE:
17 Q. The first question then, please, is one that
18 you can answer "Yes" or "No."
19 A. Could you repeat the question, please?
20 Q. Of course. In your judgement, did the
21 disposition of these brigades have some effect on the
22 attitude of Dario Kordic?
23 A. In my opinion, yes.
24 Q. I want you now, please, to give us your
25 sources of knowledge for Dario Kordic's attitude.
1 A. The primary source of my knowledge was a
2 Lieutenant Neven Maric, who was the commander of the
3 Kotromanic Brigade, which was based to the east of
4 Kakanj at the village of Haljinici.
5 Q. Could you mark that, please, on the map, and
6 it would be as well, I think, to mark him by reference
7 to his brigade which could be "KO," I would have
9 A. (Marks)
10 Q. Tell us more about him.
11 A. Lieutenant Neven Maric had been a computer
12 specialist in the JNA. He had very good working
13 relationships with the commander of 319 Brigade in
14 Kakanj. They had served together. In fact, the
15 commander of 319 Brigade, a Major Hadzic Dzemal, had
16 been his instructor at a JNA officer school. Neven
17 Maric was under orders that should it be required, he
18 was to conduct a relief operation towards Busovaca by
19 mounting an offensive operation from Haljinici west
20 through the lines of control and crossing the road
21 south to Visoko.
22 Q. Pausing there, and I don't think it will be
23 necessary for you to mark the map, but with the pointer
24 can you show, for clarity, what his orders would have
25 involved his doing?
1 A. He would have been required to mount an
2 offensive operation from the area of Haljinici and the
3 hills to the north and south (indicating), west through
4 the area of Kakanj, which was moderately built up and
5 urbanised, and carrying on up the high ground to link
6 up with the Croat forces that were in the area here in
7 positions along this high ground.
8 Q. In what circumstances, as you understood it,
9 would these orders have come into effect so that he
10 would have been obliged to carry out that manoeuvre?
11 A. The orders would have come from his superior
12 headquarters at Vares. The trigger for those orders I
13 was not privy to.
14 Q. As a matter of fact, did you give that young
15 officer some advice or an opinion?
16 A. Yes, I did give my opinion.
17 Q. Namely?
18 A. That to do such an attack would be
19 exceptionally foolhardy, to lead a under-strength
20 brigade through an urban area against certainly two
21 battalions of veteran battle-hardened troops.
22 Particularly the Jajce Brigade were very tough fighters
23 indeed, and the 3rd Battalion of the 7th Muslimanski
24 Brigade were noted for being shock troops and they were
25 known as the Muslimanski Brigade because they had a
1 reputation of being religious zealots, and to take an
2 under-strength brigade into that terrain against those
3 sort of forces would have been tantamount to suicide.
4 Q. In any event, was he ever obliged to carry
5 out this manoeuvre?
6 A. Not during my time in Bosnia, no.
7 Q. That's one of your sources of information
8 upon which you formed your view. Was there another?
9 A. There was. His name was Captain Matthew
10 Dundas-Whatley. He was the liaison officer for the
11 area of Travnik, Turbe, along the Lasva Valley to
12 Zenica, and inclusive of Zenica.
13 Q. What, if anything, was he able to tell you
14 about the effect of the disposition of these Muslim
15 troops on Busovaca and Dario Kordic?
16 A. The significant fact was that the movement of
17 the Jajce Brigade upset the balance of power in the
18 area. Up until then, there had been a status quo. The
19 arrival of the Jajce Brigade and 3rd Battalion of the
20 7th Muslimanski Brigade made Dario Kordic quite
22 JUDGE MAY: Just pause there, please. Can we
23 find out when it was that the Jajce Brigade arrived?
24 Can you help, Mr. Nice?
25 MR. NICE: Certainly.
1 Q. Are you able to help the Court with that
2 question; when, to your knowledge, did the Jajce
3 Brigade arrived at the position you've indicated?
4 A. Your Honour, no. In detail, I cannot
5 remember precisely, Your Honour. I can remember the
6 incident very clearly, in that I turned up at the
7 headquarters prior to the section commander Ganic Nehru
8 arriving, to his surprise with a bottle of whiskey,
9 which I then shared with the incoming commander.
10 Q. You can't give the date precisely. Can you,
11 at this stage, put some parameters on the date and
12 point us to documentation that may be able to give the
13 date more precisely?
14 A. Yes, I can. It was at least ten days to two
15 weeks prior to the incident at Ahmici, which would
16 place it before the 1st of April. It was subsequent to
17 the settlement of the fighting in the area of Gornji
18 Vakuf, which I believe took place in early February,
19 late January, early February, just as the roads were
20 becoming passable, I believe subsequent to the death of
21 Lance Corporal Wayne Edwards.
22 Q. Documentation that will help us pinpoint it
23 with greater precision would include what?
24 A. Record of the aid delivery of the NGO Feed
25 The Children, who made a delivery of approximately two
1 tons of baby food for the families of and children who
2 had arrived at the village of Biljesevo, the
3 milinfosums of the 1 Cheshire battle group.
4 Q. And include a reference to the arrival of the
5 Jajce Brigade?
6 A. Yes. There was an operation mounted to
7 escort the Jajce Brigade from the area of Gornji Vakuf
8 into the area of Biljesevo.
9 Q. Very well. We'll find that, and that should
10 answer that question.
11 You've mentioned the killings at Ahmici. One
12 matter of detail. Did you, on the days before those
13 killings, drive along the Kakanj-to-Vitez road?
14 A. Yes, on a number of occasions.
15 Q. Did you drive at a regular and, as it were,
16 predictable time or at random?
17 A. Fairly regular times, the reason being you
18 went out after breakfast, you had to get to a number of
19 meetings, or I had to get to a number of meetings,
20 which meant a fairly early start. Battalion policy at
21 the time meant that I had to recover, by about 5.00,
22 5.30 in the evening, in order to take part in the
23 battalion conference and update so that everyone was
24 aware of the various activities that were going on
25 within our area of responsibility.
1 Q. In the course of your journeys along that
2 road in the days leading up to the events at Ahmici,
3 did you observe either troop movements or any other
4 out-of-the-ordinary events?
5 A. No, I did not.
6 Q. On the night of the 15th/16th of April
7 itself, where were you staying?
8 A. I was sharing a house just to the east of the
9 main encampment within Stara Bila, approximately 100
10 metres south-southeast from the school building itself
11 at Stara Bila.
12 Q. Did you ever meet Kordic in person?
13 A. No, I did not.
14 Q. Was there one incident that you can tell us
15 about where his name came to be mentioned?
16 A. Yes. After --
17 Q. I'll come to that in a minute.
18 A. Sorry.
19 Q. In an attempt to date that incident, what
20 parameters for dates would you put on it?
21 A. I cannot remember the date of the incident
22 exactly. However, it was at least five to six days
23 after Ahmici, so around about the 20th of April. I
24 don't believe it was more than three weeks later than
25 that, so probably the 10th of May. There is
1 documentary evidence which will tie it down
2 significantly more tightly than that.
3 Q. But you only came in last night, and we have
4 yet to tie down and find the documents concerned?
5 A. Indeed.
6 Q. They are being searched at the moment. The
7 incident occurred whereabouts?
8 A. The precise location was from the turn-off --
9 the Busovaca turn-off, which is located here
10 (indicating) on the map, roughly two or three
11 kilometres to the west, somewhere along that stretch of
13 Q. This has to do with a convoy, so would you
14 please mark that again for our assistance with, I
15 think, "C" for "Convoy"?
16 A. (Witness complies)
17 Q. When you first became involved, what was the
18 state of play?
19 A. I was driving east at about 4.00 in the
20 afternoon, having had a meeting with Lieutenant Neven
21 Maric in Kakanj. I came upon a single truck that was
22 parked across a road. To the northern side of the
23 truck was a steep cliff. To the southern side was a
24 roadside cafe with a parking area, but the access to it
25 was blocked. There was a fairly sheer drop to the
1 southern side, so the road was fairly well balanced on
2 both sides.
3 As I approached, I noticed three, I believe,
4 vehicles containing journalists. Certainly one Land
5 Rover. I can't remember the other two vehicles. I got
6 out and spoke to them, and they said the road was
7 blocked. I moved down into the roadside cafe, adopting
8 a deliberately low-threat approach, not putting on my
9 body armour, not putting on my helmet, not taking my
10 rifle, to appear non-threatening, and I took my
11 interpreter with me.
12 We met the local commander who was an HVO
13 commander, whose name I don't know, and I noticed on
14 the far side of this truck a convoy of UNHCR vehicles
15 or, wrong, civilian trucks which were being used by the
16 UNHCR, and they were escorted by two Warrior armoured
17 infantry fighting vehicles, one at the front and one at
18 the rear. Around the trucks was a group of HVO
19 soldiers, probably about 10 to 15 initially, although
20 that number increased later.
21 The truck itself that was blocking the road,
22 I was informed by the HVO commander, had been
23 booby-trapped, and I could see chains were being used
24 to disable it and immobilise that vehicle.
25 Q. So the convoy had been stopped by what
1 process, as you could judge it?
2 A. Basically, it was impossible to drive
3 through. The truck was blocking the road. The truck
4 was allegedly booby-trapped. Without --
5 Q. How --
6 A. Sorry.
7 Q. How had the truck got between the convoy and
8 the guarding vehicles of the Cheshires?
9 A. No, the truck was not between the infantry
10 fighting vehicles, it was in front of. The convoy was
11 made up of a Warrior at the rear, a number of trucks,
12 ten or so, although I don't recall exactly, and a
13 Warrior at the front. In front of the whole package,
14 there was a vehicle across the road.
15 Q. Who was in charge of the Warrior or Warriors?
16 A. In the lead Warrior, there was a young
17 Cheshire platoon commander whose name I don't know.
18 Q. Were the two Warriors in a position to
19 communicate one with another and to solve this problem?
20 A. When I arrived, the two Warriors were not in
21 sight of each other, although they had radio
22 communications. Neither of the Warriors had anybody
23 who could speak Serbo Croat, so there was no
24 interpreter capability with that convoy. The young
25 commander had basically buttoned up, i.e., closed down
1 the vehicle, and was waiting for something to happen.
2 I believe he had reported back, but I'm not in a
3 position to confirm that.
4 Q. What further steps did you take?
5 A. Because I had an interpreter with me, I
6 immediately started talking to the commander, trying to
7 find out what was happening, why he had stopped the
8 convoy. My concern was two-fold; first of all, to get
9 the convoy through and, secondly, to get the
10 journalists out of the way and through on their way. I
11 asked permission to do the first, and that was agreed,
12 and I was able to get the journalists from the eastern
13 side of the roadblock across to the western side, where
14 they then waited.
15 My negotiations to free the convoy met with
16 significantly less success. I tried to make it very
17 clear to the local commander, who appeared quite
18 junior, that as far as I was concerned, all U.N.
19 vehicles had been given right-of-way along this road,
20 and that had been agreed by both Mate Boban and Dario
21 Kordic. When I made that point, he was quite
22 surprised. He said his orders had been from Dario
23 Kordic to stop that convoy.
24 I then remonstrated with him and said, "I'm a
25 liaison officer. I can go and speak to your superior
1 commanders and we can get them released," and he wasn't
2 budging. He didn't really care who I spoke to.
3 I then got on the radio back to our
4 headquarters and asked for deployment of our quick
5 reaction force, a force of four Warrior fighting
6 vehicles with a platoon of infantry. I also asked for
7 the appropriate liaison officer who I know worked with
8 Dario Kordic, Matthew Dundas-Whatley, to come forward
9 and go and see him and sort out this incident.
11 JUDGE ROBINSON: Why did you ask for the
12 quick reaction force?
13 A. The number of troops at the time, Your
14 Honour, was increasing -- wrong, the number of HVO
15 troops at the time was increasing. I also saw a number
16 of RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenades which I used for
17 anti-armour purposes being deployed. Because the
18 number of troops was increasing, I felt that having
19 only two Warriors there was an insufficient force to
20 protect the convoy should violence be necessary.
21 The position of the lead and rear Warrior was
22 also of concern. They were not mutually supporting.
23 Because they could not see each other, one could not
24 cover the other in the event of an incident, and I felt
25 that perhaps a show of force and the deployment of the
1 steel fist as opposed to the velvet glove was beginning
2 to become appropriate. Certainly, I was beginning to
3 fear for my own safety, and, at one stage, I was
4 significantly threatened by a number of the troops.
5 JUDGE ROBINSON: Thank you.
6 MR. NICE:
7 Q. So you took these two steps, and then did you
8 stay at the area or did you leave?
9 A. After a period of one or two hours, the
10 instant began to stabilise. We achieved a stalemate.
11 We were not going through, but they were not going to
12 take the vehicles away from us. Once that had been
13 achieved, I felt it was appropriate to recover myself
14 and my team back from the area of the incident to Stara
15 Bila to debrief the commanders there and to ensure that
16 the appropriate liaison officer who had personal
17 dealings with the commands in the area was deployed.
18 Q. Are you aware that the incident eventually
19 resolved without loss?
20 A. Yes, I am. A compromise was arranged in
21 which neither side lost face. The HVO were not
22 prepared to allow the Warriors to escort the UNHCR
23 convoy. They insisted that they should escort it and
24 move it to a field nearby for further processing, I
25 believe was the phrase used. We were adamant that the
1 U.N. would remain with that convoy, there were UNHCR
2 loads, and the drivers were under the employ of the
3 UNHCR, although the drivers were Muslims.
4 So the compromise was arranged that the
5 Warriors that had escorted them as far as the
6 checkpoint stayed where they were and did not cross the
7 checkpoint, but we arranged for two Warriors to be on
8 the other side of the checkpoint in such a way that the
9 HVO had control of the convoy for a short period and
10 were able to process them in a field but under
11 significant scrutiny by UNPROFOR.
12 Q. At the time, who was commanding the regiment?
13 A. The commanding officer was Lieutenant-Colonel
14 Bob Stewart. However, he was away during that period,
15 and his second in command at the time, Major Bryan
16 Watters, was commanding the regiment.
17 Q. Do you know what, if any, communication there
18 was between the young officer in the Warrior and Major
19 Watters? Do you know anything about what Major Watters
20 may have done to negotiate the freeing up of this
21 convoy, or were those matters outside your knowledge?
22 A. Those matters were outside my knowledge. I
23 had spoken on two occasions by means of high-frequency
24 radio to the operations room back at Stara Bila. I did
25 not speak with Major Watters at the time, although I
1 did speak with him subsequently when I returned to
2 Stara Bila.
3 Q. Thank you very much. You will be asked some
4 further questions.
5 JUDGE MAY: Before that, Mr. Nice, it occurs
6 to me that it might be helpful to have a map which
7 covers all these troop deployments. We are now in the
8 position of getting a considerable amount of evidence
9 about the Serb troops and the deployment of them in the
10 area, and now some of the RBiH forces and likewise the
11 HVO. We need to know and be satisfied about where the
12 front lines were, for instance, and it would be helpful
13 if, during the recess, we could have a map, I would
14 find it helpful to have a map which contains all the
15 information that we have to date according to the
17 MR. NICE: I'll attend to that. There may be
18 two ways of doing it. One would be to synthesise all
19 the material presently presented and put it on a single
20 document. Another would be for an appropriate expert
21 to set matters out and to ensure that that also
22 reflects the evidence. I will discuss the matter this
23 afternoon with those who can assist me, and we will
24 attempt to meet your needs by the end of the recess.
25 It will be helpful for us to know whether you
1 would like it to be on a scale of map of the type that
2 some of us have been using, the map that I first showed
3 to the witness, which is, of course, a useful scale for
4 reading but somewhat unwieldy, or if you would like it
5 on a slightly smaller scale so that it's more
6 manageable. The scale of the exhibit of the witness
7 is, of course, exactly the same scale as the coloured
9 JUDGE MAY: It's difficult then to see
11 MR. NICE: Yes.
12 JUDGE MAY: Because this will be a large area
13 which is going to be covered. I mean, I have in mind,
14 for instance, Colonel Watters' evidence, the evidence
15 we've now got about the Jajce Brigade, and, as I said,
16 the evidence about the various Serb forces in the
18 MR. NICE: Leave it with me, and I'll do the
19 best I can. But if, for example, over the adjournment
20 of today or tomorrow, the Court as a whole forms a view
21 as to what size of document would most fit with its
22 management of paperwork, I will fit in with that.
23 JUDGE MAY: Thank you. I should say that if
24 the Defence wanted to provide their own account of the
25 matter in the same way, of course, they're free to do
2 MR. STEIN: Thank you, sir. May I begin?
3 JUDGE MAY: Yes.
4 Cross-examined by Mr. Stein:
5 Q. Major, my name is Bob Stein. I represent
6 Dario Kordic. Now, we have two problems. You speak
7 quickly and I speak quickly. To keep the interpreters
8 and the reporters from jumping out of their chairs and
9 stopping the proceedings and the Judge from
10 appropriately cautioning me, we must go slowly, with a
11 pause between my question and your answer and your
12 answer and my question. Is that satisfactory to you?
13 A. I'm very happy to oblige.
14 Q. Thank you, sir. I want to first talk about
15 the two HVO commanders who you told the Court were
16 anti-Muslim. As I understand it, the name of the first
17 commander was, again, please?
18 A. I didn't give a name for either commander.
19 Q. What was the first commander's name?
20 A. I don't know. I cannot recall their names.
21 Q. The anti-Muslim attitude that you talked
22 about was determined by you in conversation with them?
23 A. It was determined on a number of factors. If
24 we deal with the commander from Vares first --
25 Q. That's fine.
1 A. -- the commander had a number of dealings
2 and a series of meetings with me where I tried to
3 broker a moderately amicable arrangement to ensure the
4 passage of aid from the area of Breza through Vares and
5 north into the Tuzla salient.
6 Those negotiations were exceptionally
7 acrimonious and, on a number of occasions, led to the
8 HVO commander for the area getting up and walking out
9 when he saw who was opposite him. So the evidence
10 there is one of physical hatred, they refused to be in
11 the same room together, numerous conversations that I
12 had, and the conversations I had with the Canadian
13 liaison officer who subsequently took responsibility
14 for the area of Visoko, Vares, Breza.
15 Q. As I understand your direct testimony, the
16 Vares HVO commander had had friends killed by the
17 opposing forces?
18 A. No. What I said was that attempts had been
19 made on his life. To be more precise, he alleged to me
20 that attempts had been made on his life, namely, that a
21 car bomb had been used to kill him.
22 Q. That in and of itself might make you angry
23 with your enemy, wouldn't it?
24 A. Quite possibly, yes.
25 Q. And the other commander was from where?
1 A. Zepce.
2 Q. As to the Zepce commander, do you know his
4 A. No, I cannot recall his name.
5 Q. Had you had --
6 A. Could you repeat the question?
7 Q. I was breaking my own rule. Had you had
8 personal contact with the commander from Zepce?
9 A. Yes, I had.
10 Q. How many occasions?
11 A. I do not recall exactly, but certainly six,
12 ten, perhaps more.
13 Q. Did he also share with you the basis of his
14 animus towards the enemy?
15 A. No.
16 Q. Again, can we agree, in wartime, it's
17 certainly not surprising to have a hatred of your
19 A. Quite possibly. As a professional soldier, I
20 don't subscribe to that.
21 Q. The individual from Zepce, as I recall your
22 testimony, was not a professional soldier?
23 A. No, he was not.
24 Q. Now, I want to make clear, the Jajce Brigade
25 which arrived in your operative zone, when did it
2 A. Again, I can't recall the date exactly. I
3 didn't maintain a specific diary. I remember the
4 incident very clearly because I took a bottle of
5 whiskey to the local commander to say, "Hello. I'm
6 your liaison officer." We sat down together, and about
7 an hour after I'd arrived, the area commander or sector
8 commander, Ganic Nehru, arrived and was surprised to
9 see that I had beaten him there to one of his new
11 Q. Could that have been in November of 1992?
12 A. No, it could not.
13 Q. Was that before your time of service?
14 A. No. At the time of November 1992, I was the
15 battalion public information officer, a post I remained
16 in until Christmas of 1992. It was only probably
17 around the 3rd or 4th of January that I became the
18 liaison officer for this area.
19 Q. I neglected to ask, what were your dates of
20 service in this particular theatre of operation?
21 A. I arrived in theatre with the main body
22 deployment, which I gather was October/November, to the
23 best of my memory. I deployed north about 12 hours
24 after arriving in Split --
25 Q. Sir, let me just cut you off. Just your
1 dates of service, start and finish.
2 A. I went through from the beginning of the
3 tour, arriving with the main body, to the end which was
4 May, mid May.
5 Q. 1993?
6 A. 1993, correct.
7 Q. The arrival of the Jajce Brigade, was that
8 close to the incidents in mid April at Ahmici?
9 A. It preceded the incidents at Ahmici.
10 Q. Two weeks, two months, can you tell us when?
11 A. A month, perhaps.
12 Q. How far was the Jajce Brigade when it came
13 into the arena from the front line?
14 A. Which front line?
15 Q. All the front lines. Why don't you just
16 explain it to us.
17 A. The Jajce Brigade established themselves at
18 the school in Biljesevo. The line of confrontation
19 between Muslim forces and Serb forces were
20 approximately 30 kilometres to the north on the western
21 shoulder of the Doboj salient. The line of
22 confrontation with -- the demarcation between the zones
23 of influence between Croats and Muslims at the time ran
24 roughly from the Zenica junction, indicated here
25 (indicating), along the high ground, down towards
1 Kiseljak to the south.
2 Q. All right. I want to talk about the part of
3 your testimony relative to Mr. Kordic being nervous.
4 As I understand, that conclusion came from two
6 A. That is correct.
7 Q. The first source was Lieutenant Maric?
8 A. Neven Maric.
9 Q. Did he tell you what his source was?
10 A. His orders came from the commander in Vares.
11 Lieutenant Neven Maric had --
12 Q. Excuse me, sir. So that's the military
14 A. Correct, the military commander. Lieutenant
15 Neven Maric had just celebrated his promotion from
16 being a detachment of the Vares forces to becoming a
17 fully fledged brigade commander in his own right, and
18 he had celebrated the formation of the Kotromanic
19 Brigade a few days earlier.
20 Q. And his source of information that Mr. Kordic
21 was nervous was what?
22 A. To be honest, I don't recall.
23 Q. Fair enough. Your second source was Captain
24 Major Whatley?
25 A. Captain at the time, Dundas-Whatley.
1 Q. Not Major?
2 A. No.
3 Q. Still a Captain. Captain Whatley, what was
4 his source of information?
5 A. Captain Dundas-Whatley was the liaison
6 officer for this area and on numerous occasions had
7 dealt with Dario Kordic.
8 Q. Did he specifically tell you his source of
10 A. No.
11 Q. Now, I want to talk about the trip you made
12 on the road from Kakanj to Vitez two days before the
13 incidents in Ahmici. Do I take it you saw no evidence
14 on either side, that is, the HVO or the BiH, relative
15 to preparations for an assault on Ahmici?
16 A. Correct. I did not see evidence that led me
17 to suspect an assault was about to take place.
18 Q. Fair enough. Just to backtrack a tad, were
19 you aware, of course, that the commander in Vares was
20 Colonel Blaskic?
21 A. The name rings a bell, but to be honest, it's
22 now seven years past, and as I'm currently involved
23 back in the Balkans again, I'm more focused on issues
24 like Gracko at the moment.
25 Q. We won't ask you date questions or
1 anniversary dates or embarrassing things like that,
2 which none of us remember, I guarantee you.
3 Let's talk about the checkpoint episode. As
4 I gather, the best recollection you have is sometime
5 after April 16 and before May 5?
6 A. No, sometime after April 20th and before May
8 Q. All right. And you pinpoint those dates how?
9 A. The incident of Ahmici, if I recall, was the
11 Q. That's right.
12 A. When the fighting started in the Lasva
13 Valley, I normally operated in one or two unarmoured
14 Land Rovers with the team of between three and five
15 people, namely myself, my driver bodyguard, and my
16 interpreter, and maybe two others as an escort. To
17 that end, driving around in an unarmoured Land Rover
18 when there was an awful lot of sniping and shooting
19 going on is not a particularly healthy option.
20 Q. In fact, they are called thin skins or
21 something along those lines?
22 A. I certainly never did. You may have an
23 alternate source.
24 Q. Sorry. It was a curiosity question.
25 A. I did make one attempt after that two or
1 three days to drive east to find out what was happening
2 in Kakanj. I got about two kilometres, whereupon we
3 were engaged by sniper from the south and decided that
4 it was a good idea to turn round.
5 Q. So that's how you pinpoint the first day?
6 A. Correct.
7 Q. All right. So that's your point of reference
8 for April 20 or so, and the other point of reference?
9 A. If I recall correctly, I was deployed to the
10 area of Zavidovici to Tesanj, north of Tesanj, in a
11 small pocket just to the southwest of Doboj for a
12 period of two to three days with a Captain Mike
13 Stanley, where we worked alongside the local
14 headquarters in monitoring flight violations or alleged
15 flight violations by aircraft. This was during the
16 operation to deny airspace or military airspace to
17 ex-JNA aircraft.
18 Q. I want to talk about the incident itself.
19 Your translator was Muslim?
20 A. I can't remember. I did at the time. I knew
21 at the time. To be quite honest, her religion was
23 Q. Do I take it, as a general matter, that most
24 of the translators were Muslim as opposed to Croat?
25 A. No.
1 Q. You had some Croat translators?
2 A. We had Croat, Serb, and Muslim translators.
3 Q. In this particular episode, you can't
4 remember or tell us who the translator was?
5 A. I can recall her face and could select her
6 from a photograph. I think, to answer your first
7 question, I think she was Muslim.
8 Q. Fair enough. The brigade or the local
9 commander that you were talking to on the road, I
10 believe you said he was a lieutenant.
11 A. He was?
12 Q. He was a lieutenant?
13 A. No, I believe he was a young officer.
14 Q. Fair enough. The young officer with whom you
15 were speaking, do you know his name --
16 A. No.
17 Q. -- or his rank?
18 A. No.
19 Q. All right. Do you know which brigade he was
20 out of?
21 A. No.
22 Q. Were you actually face to face with him,
23 having this discussion?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Not over the radios?
1 A. No. It was at a range of about three feet,
2 and at one point I had the barrel of a rifle shoved
3 into my face to make the point that they were going to
4 take the convoy. It was one of the reasons I recall
5 the incident so clearly.
6 Q. Fair enough. Do I take it that in essence,
7 you said to him, "Dario Kordic has given permission for
8 this convoy to pass"?
9 A. Correct.
10 Q. His response was basically to say, "No, he
11 hasn't. He told me to stop it"?
12 A. Also correct. And to elaborate, he was
13 actually surprised when I said that Dario Kordic had
14 given permission for the convoy to pass.
15 Q. His immediate comeback was, "Dario told me to
16 stop it"?
17 A. Yes, to the best of my knowledge.
18 Q. Did you personally confirm, in any fashion,
19 whether or not the statement that Kordic told him to
20 stop the convoy was, in fact, accurate?
21 A. No, although I said that he should phone back
22 and confirm what the score was.
23 Q. Do you know, of your own personal knowledge,
24 as to whether or not that commander did just that,
25 called back?
1 A. I believe he did, and my recollection is that
2 he made a phone call or, wrong, that he went away for a
3 period into the building that was to the south, and he
4 returned and told me that as far as he was concerned,
5 the convoy was stopped.
6 Q. As to whether he made a call or to whom, you
7 can't help us?
8 A. No.
9 Q. Did you learn from any other source,
10 intelligence, et cetera, as to whether or not Dario
11 Kordic had, in fact, given orders to stop the convoy?
12 A. No.
13 Q. Now, from your experience in the theatre,
14 were there instances in which officers from both sides
15 of the conflict would look you straight in the eye and
16 lie to you?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. While you were negotiating this episode, did
19 you see any black-clad soldiers in or about the convoy?
20 A. Not that I recall.
21 Q. Again as a result of this convoy episode, did
22 you hear anything from BritBat that they were
23 considering launching an armed assault on Busovaca
24 because of this convoy being stopped?
25 A. Sorry, that BritBat would launch an armed
1 assault on Busovaca?
2 Q. Exactly what I asked.
3 A. No, I have no recollection of that.
4 Q. Do I take it from your evidence that this
5 episode would have, in the normal course, been reported
6 back up the chain of command through a milinfosum or
7 some other writing?
8 A. To be honest, I'm not in a position to
9 effectively answer that. My area of interest was not
10 this particular area. I provided milinfo. I didn't
11 collate or manage it, so I'm afraid that's outside my
13 Q. Bad question on my part. Did you, as a
14 result of this episode, prepare a milinfosum or some
15 writing, whatever you call it, a report of it?
16 A. No, I did not produce any written material
17 from this incident.
18 Q. All right. As I understand the normal course
19 of the way the British army in a hostile environment
20 works is to report incidents like this up the chain of
22 A. Yes. However, you have to understand that
23 this particular time, I think the vernacular phrase is
24 all hell was breaking lose. We had incidents ongoing
25 in Srebrenica, which was where most of the world's
1 press was focused; we had Ahmici, the investigation was
2 still ongoing; we had significant fighting in and
3 around Vitez. My principal effort was in stopping
4 fighting breaking out in the area of Kakanj, where
5 there was significant movement of heavy weapons. This
6 was a very minor incident and, to be quite honest, was
7 not worthy, in my opinion, of a significant report.
8 Q. Fair enough. Consistent with that answer,
9 when you were approached by the Office of the
10 Prosecutor in 1995 telephonically, you were asked
11 questions by the investigator of a variety of things,
12 and is it fair to say, even at that point in time in
13 1995, this was insignificant enough that you did not
14 mention it to the investigator?
15 A. No. The conversation never touched upon it.
16 More precisely, 1995, if I recall, I had just come off
17 a night shift, I was pretty tired, and when someone
18 phones you up out of the blue and asks questions, you
19 just want to stop, finish, and go to bed.
20 Also, to say that this was insignificant,
21 militarily it may well have been insignificant.
22 Personally, I remember it vividly because I've never
23 felt more threatened in my life.
24 Q. By the young officer?
25 A. By a number of his troops, who made an effort
1 to make sure I was -- or tried to make sure I was
3 Q. The late-night phone caller from the OTP --
4 A. Sorry, the early morning.
5 Q. Sorry. How about the interruption from the
6 OTP investigator? Did he specifically ask you about
7 Dario Kordic, Colonel Blaskic; did he ask you about any
9 A. To be quite honest, without seeing the notes
10 of that, I cannot recall.
11 Q. All right. Let me show you those notes.
12 If you would just put that on the ELMO,
13 please. We don't need to admit them. We can just put
14 it on the ELMO.
15 Take your time, Major, but I think you'll
16 find no reference to Mr. Kordic in those notes.
17 A. I'm afraid I must disagree. If you look
18 about ten lines down, the last line of the first
19 paragraph, you'll see Dario Kordic mentioned there.
20 Q. Yes. With regard to the episode of the
21 convoy being stopped, you'll see no reference to
22 Mr. Kordic, I believe.
23 A. Again, forgive me if I disagree, but the
24 Travnik checkpoint is nowhere near Busovaca, and this
25 instance, although I do not recall it, cannot be one in
1 the same. Dario Kordic's area of influence did not, I
2 believe, cover Travnik.
3 Q. Agreed. This whole witness interview
4 apparently doesn't mention the episode about which you
5 testified at all?
6 A. Correct.
7 Q. I have been fortunate enough to be given a
8 statement by James Connelly, who served with you, I
9 believe. Do you recall Captain Connelly?
10 A. Are you sure he was a captain?
11 Q. I'm sorry, sergeant.
12 A. I believe at the time he was a staff sergeant
13 or a sergeant in the intelligence corps. He was
14 working in the milinfo section in Stara Bila.
15 Q. At page 5 of his statement, he -- this is a
16 statement to the Prosecutor -- he notes: "Checkpoints
17 were almost invariably set up on the orders of brigade
18 commands. These brigade commands received their orders
19 from their senior ops group or ops zone."
20 Would you agree with that observation?
21 A. I cannot agree nor disagree. It is outside
22 my knowledge.
23 Q. All right. The next question, we may move on
24 or not. He says: "The control over such military
25 decisions would rest with the senior military
2 Agree, disagree?
3 A. Again, I can do neither. You're asking me to
4 comment on someone else's material based on their own
5 experience and based on knowledge which I did not have.
6 MR. STEIN: Fair enough. Thank you. You've
7 been very helpful.
8 MR. KOVACIC: (Interpretation) Your Honours,
9 we only have a couple of very brief questions.
10 Mr. Ellis, I'm Bozidar Kovacic, and I'm
11 a lawyer from Rijeka, with my colleague, Mr. Mikulicic,
12 and I represent here the defence of the accused Mario
13 Cerkez. I shall be very brief.
14 Cross-examined by Mr. Kovacic:
15 Q. You mentioned the arrival of the Jajce 305th
16 Brigade significantly disrupted the balance of forces
17 in the area. Did I understand your meaning?
18 A. That is correct.
19 Q. Did you make any assessment or did you get
20 any assessment about the strength of those units? How
21 many men were there when they arrived in the area?
22 A. I believe the figures were two battalions
23 each of two or three hundred infantry, one company of
24 military police, approximately two or three heavy
25 mortars, 120 millimetre with limited ammunition, one or
1 two heavy machine guns, a 12,7 Dushka (phoen), a number
2 of 762 light machine guns, and a quantity of rifles.
3 Heavy weapons and their ammunition were very
4 thin, although there was adequate, I assess, quantities
5 of small arms.
6 Q. Would you agree with me if I said that a unit
7 of that strength in that part of Bosnia at that time
8 was indeed a very strong, a very good unit, of course
9 in comparison with some other formations, that it was a
10 very powerful unit?
11 A. Yes, I would agree, particularly as the Jajce
12 Brigade had shown itself to be a very resolute and
13 tough formation in the fighting around Gornji Vakuf.
14 Q. Did I get you properly? You're telling us
15 about its combat experience?
16 A. Yes. It was an experienced combat unit.
17 Q. It belonged to the Muslim side of the
19 A. Correct.
20 Q. Thank you. You mentioned a name, Nehru
21 Ganic, and associated him with the 305th Brigade. What
22 duty did he discharge in it?
23 A. Nehru Ganic was the operational zone
24 commander who had under command the Jajce Brigade and
25 the 319 Mountain Brigade, if I recall correctly, which
1 was commanded by Dzemal Hadzic. He was certainly a
2 very senior and significant figure in the Kakanj area.
3 Q. Mr. Ellis, could you tell me if the commander
4 of that unit, that is, Jajce, the 305th Brigade, if
5 Rifat Planincic was also one of the commanding
7 A. Could you please repeat the name?
8 Q. Yes, of course. Perhaps I -- Rifat
9 Planincic. Does that name ring a bell?
10 A. The name Rifat Planincic does not -- I do not
12 Q. The name of Mensur Kelestura, does it mean
13 anything to you?
14 A. No, I do not recall that name either.
15 Q. All right, thank you. Let us move on to
16 another subject.
17 You told us and we heard a great many detail
18 about the convoy that was intercepted and all the
19 negotiations in this relation, and then you said that
20 when the situation calmed down somewhat, that from that
21 place where it was blocked, you started back to Stara
22 Bila and you then entered the municipality of Vitez, if
23 you knew where the boundaries of municipalities were at
24 the time. So on that part of the road next to Stara
25 Bila, did any HVO unit patrol or any troops, did they
1 stop you, did they try to block your way or anything?
2 A. No. No HVO troops tried to block me entering
3 the opstina of Stara Bila.
4 Q. It was not your area of responsibility, but
5 you nevertheless used to go there, Stara Bila. Was
6 Stara Bila in the Vitez municipality?
7 A. Again, I will agree with you for lack of
9 Q. (In English) Fair enough. (Interpretation)
10 You also spoke about the events a few days after the
11 Ahmici conflict. At that time, I assume you gathered
12 information about the developments, so would you
13 remember if in Zenica, and it should have happened on
14 the 20th of April, if in Zenica an agreement had been
15 reached that the road control should be run jointly by
16 civilian and military police, and did you ever see such
17 checkpoints with combined civilian and military police
18 after the 20th of April?
19 A. First of all, the area of Zenica was not in
20 my area of responsibility. Therefore, any agreements
21 that were reached there I was not present or
22 immediately privy to.
23 However, a joint military/civil checkpoint
24 was established, and if I indicate on the map, at that
25 location (indicating) at the junction between the road
1 to Zenica and the road to Kakanj is the point where a
2 joint checkpoint between both HVO an ABiH was
3 established with both military and civil
4 representatives, basically on the autoput where the
5 bridge had been blown out.
6 Q. Thank you very much. Now could you tell me,
7 please, Major Ellis, if you ever met Mario Cerkez in
8 your contacts with the HVO, Mario Cerkez who is my
10 A. Not that I recall, no.
11 Q. You do not know him?
12 A. Not that I recall, no.
13 MR. KOVACIC: (Interpretation) Thank you very
15 Thank you, Your Honours. I have no further
16 questions for the witness. Thank you.
17 MR. NICE: Three things, please, Major
19 Re-examined by Mr. Nice:
20 Q. Your interpreter, did she ever give you cause
21 for concern about the reliability of her interpreting?
22 A. No, never.
23 Q. Was being an interpreter a paid job?
24 A. Yes. Furthermore, all our interpreters were
25 required to wear a British army uniform so that they
1 could not be accused of any bias. We also brought them
2 within the military community to further strengthen
3 political/social bonding, that they are identified with
4 the U.N. more closely than they are identified with any
6 Q. Second, in the course of the discussions at
7 the convoy, was any other name of authority, apart from
8 Kordic's, mentioned at any stage?
9 A. No.
10 Q. Third, in relation to the convoy, was it
11 stopped at a checkpoint or merely at a point on a road?
12 A. At that period in Bosnia, a checkpoint was
13 any point on a road.
14 Q. Did the troops present, the HVO troops
15 present, did they make this a checkpoint in any formal
17 A. No. Normally a checkpoint, in the formal
18 sense, would have a chicane made up of metal knife
19 rests, normally interspersed with barbed wire.
20 Anti-tank mines, either TMA 3s or TMA 4s, would be
21 laid. Quite frequently, the anti-tank mines would be
22 used like traffic cones, which made life very
23 interesting at night. There would normally be a stop
24 sign. Certainly the more formally-established
25 checkpoints, such as the junction in Travnik or what
1 I've referred to as the Zenica junction, the Zenica
2 fly-over here indicated on the map, and defensive
3 positions would be constructed. None of that was
4 present at the instant that is being referred to here.
5 Q. Was any traffic being allowed to pass in the
6 contrary direction or not, or don't you know?
7 A. The only traffic that was allowed to pass
8 were the three journalist vehicles which I negotiated
9 their way through.
10 Q. Although that concludes what I need to ask
11 about the questions you've been asked, is it the case
12 that you are able to pinpoint this date, if any of us
13 need it further pinpointed, because there is a
14 newspaper article?
15 A. There is a newspaper article which was
16 written by the journalist Tom Coughlin. The date, I
17 believe, is also exactly recorded by an officer who has
18 already given evidence to this Tribunal, a major
19 currently, Mike Dooley, who is serving with 17 (phoen)
20 Brigade headquarters in Pristina, and he informed me
21 before I came out, came back to The Hague, that from
22 his diaries from the time, he would be able to pinpoint
23 it exactly.
24 Q. Very well. The newspaper article was written
25 by one of the journalists who you'd helped?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. And I think the content of the article
3 inflamed you?
4 A. Tom Coughlin was looking for a good story.
5 He needed a story. To that end, it was dramatised.
6 Like all good stories, it had a grain of truth at its
7 heart and was very hard to deny in detail.
8 Q. What newspaper was it published in, did you
9 tell us?
10 A. Either the Sunday Telegraph or the Sunday
12 MR. NICE: I have nothing else for this
13 witness. I know that researches have so far not
14 identified a milinfosum or other document that would
15 give the date precisely. I would ask that he be
16 released, subject to any further questions of the
17 Court, but that he stay behind until I satisfy myself
18 that there's no document that I can serve on the
19 Defence today before he leaves The Hague and in respect
20 of which they might wish to ask questions.
21 JUDGE MAY: No doubt that can be sorted out
23 Major, as far as the Court is concerned, you
24 are released. Thank you for coming to the
25 International Tribunal to give your evidence. You can
1 go now.
2 THE WITNESS: Thank you, Your Honour.
3 (The witness withdrew)
4 MR. NICE: We are in a position to carry on
5 with Mr. Akhavan.
6 JUDGE MAY: That is possibly a convenient
7 moment, in fact.
8 MR. NICE: There's a tiny matter of detail
9 that I promised I would sort out at the end of last
10 week when the Court was running short of time, and I
11 ought perhaps just to check has been dealt with. It
12 relates to Prosecution Exhibit 27/2 -- I'm so sorry,
13 Defence Exhibit 27/2. I believe improved copies of an
14 original were distributed, and if not, they should now
15 be made available.
16 The Tribunal will recall that the document in
17 its original condition had come from the original
18 confirming materials, as I think counsel explained, but
19 the notes on the bottom left-hand side were
20 substantially illegible. I sent out to get or tried to
21 get a better original and was successful.
22 The footnotes include, under footnote 2,
23 "Known as Jokeri (Black Knights), under direct control
24 of HDZ (Dario Kordic) and local control of Comd 1 OG."
25 JUDGE MAY: This is a BritBat document.
1 MR. NICE: That's right, yes. I'm sorry it
2 wasn't available earlier in this precise form, but it
3 is now available, and there it is.
4 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Sayers, Mr. Akhavan is coming
5 back after the adjournment. How much longer do you
6 anticipate being with him?
7 MR. SAYERS: I would think, Your Honour, that
8 we could be all or a substantial part of the day. We
9 were actually delivered about over 50 pages of notes
10 and a draft report that had been prepared by
11 Mr. Akhavan, and suffice it to say, they raise some
12 matters that need to be drawn to the attention of the
13 Trial Chamber in meticulous detail because they throw
14 considerable light upon the very broad conclusions and
15 opinions that he expressed during his direct
17 JUDGE MAY: Bear in mind we're adjourning at
18 1.00 today.
19 MR. SAYERS: That being the case, Your
20 Honour, I would think that we would probably take the
21 rest of today and perhaps an hour or, at most, two
22 hours tomorrow.
23 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Mr. Kovacic.
24 MR. KOVACIC: Your Honour, since you are
25 asking for planning purposes, I would also like to
1 inform you that probably I will need -- it, of course,
2 depends on how many questions will be asked by the
3 other Defence -- but probably at least an hour and a
4 half, two hours.
5 JUDGE MAY: Very well.
6 MR. KOVACIC: Your Honour, may I just add a
7 small explanation related to what my colleague,
8 Mr. Nice, said?
9 Indeed, we have received this paper as a part
10 of the supporting material. That is clear from the
11 written number on the top of the document which was
12 used on the copy we produced. I don't see it on this
13 document, because the registrar was numerating all the
14 papers with their numbers, being letter D and then the
15 number. According to the title with small letters
16 above the main title of the document, which reads "U.N.
17 restricted," it is my opinion -- of course, I cannot
18 claim -- that the source is not the British Battalion
19 but other UNPROFOR bodies. Some other documents which
20 we have seen which were issued by BritBat usually do
21 not use the word "UNPROFOR". They are using "British
22 Battalion" or something else, a specific unit or
24 So I think since this material was originally
25 offered in supporting material by the Prosecution, it
1 is up to them to tell us exactly what is the source of
2 this document.
3 Thank you.
4 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Nice, no doubt you can deal
5 with that in due course.
6 MR. NICE: In due course. I'm more concerned
7 immediately about the timetable.
8 First of all, there's been quite extensive
9 cross-examination of Mr. Akhavan so far, without any
10 clear case being put to him, and there does come a
11 limit to the amount of time that can properly be spent
12 on simply general examination.
13 Second, more materially, in order to ensure
14 that we have a week well used for helpful evidence, I
15 have secured the attendance tonight for tomorrow
16 morning of General Cordy-Simpson, and although no
17 particular privileges should be afforded to rank, I'd
18 prefer not to keep him hanging around, and I would be
19 particularly embarrassed if I was obliged to ask him to
20 come back for cross-examination on a later date. I
21 think he's happy enough to stay over tonight, not only
22 tonight but tomorrow night, until Thursday morning or
23 Thursday, but it would be helpful to have an accurate
24 forecast of the time required in cross-examination so
25 that we can either decide necessary to apply to
1 interpose him again in Akhavan's evidence;
2 alternatively, to take Akhavan to the conclusion and
3 then take the General.
4 JUDGE MAY: How long do you anticipate he's
5 going to take in chief?
6 MR. NICE: Well, I'm reducing the time, I
7 think, all the time. It's unlikely to be more than two
8 hours, probably between one and two, I would have
10 JUDGE MAY: Yes. To be fair to the Defence,
11 you say that a considerable amount of time has been
12 spent on the cross-examination. In fact, it's an hour
13 and twenty minutes, which, I'm afraid, by our standards
14 is not a long time.
15 Mr. Sayers, it's obviously important, if
16 possible, that we try and finish both of these
17 witnesses this week.
18 MR. SAYERS: Your Honour, I fully appreciate,
19 and I absolutely don't want to inconvenience
20 Lieutenant-General Cordy-Simpson. We're more than
21 happy to take him or allow the Prosecution to put his
22 evidence on tomorrow, if they wish to do so, and to
23 complete his evidence tomorrow. Of course, it's
24 difficult to predict without hearing the witness, but I
25 would not anticipate that our cross-examination would
1 last more than an hour for the Lieutenant-General.
2 Then we could perhaps finish with Mr. Akhavan on
4 JUDGE MAY: Although it's inconvenient for
5 Mr. Akhavan, he is here. The General is not.
6 Therefore, we will interpose him tomorrow.
7 MR. NICE: Thank you.
8 JUDGE MAY: We will adjourn now until 11.00.
9 --- Recess taken at 10.30 a.m.
10 --- On resuming at 11.04 a.m.
11 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Mr. Sayers.
12 MR. SAYERS: Thank you, Your Honour.
13 I would like today to start by marking the
14 notes and the draft report that were delivered to us
16 THE REGISTRAR: Document D65/1 and D66/1.
17 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Sayers, we will take a break
18 for the interpreters in an hour's time, about five or
19 ten minutes.
20 MR. SAYERS: Yes, sir.
21 WITNESS: PAYAM AKHAVAN (Resumed)
22 Cross-examined by Mr. Sayers:
23 Q. Mr. Akhavan, would you identify the document
24 that was marked as, I believe, Exhibit D65/1?
25 A. You refer to the document which is presently
1 on the video, marked --
2 JUDGE MAY: Do you mean the notes or the
4 MR. SAYERS: The notes.
5 A. 2943.1, those are the handwritten notes which
6 I took during my mission to the Lasva Valley region in
7 May of 1993.
8 Q. All right. I think you are referring to
9 Exhibit D65/1, and these notes were made
10 contemporaneously during your one-week visit to the
11 Lasva Valley; correct?
12 A. Correct.
13 Q. And then the second document, D66/1, I
14 believe, is a draft report that you authored --
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. -- connected with the results of your visit?
17 A. Correct. It's a preliminary draft.
18 Q. Yes. Would it be fair to say that these
19 documents were never produced in the Blaskic case or in
20 the Kupreskic case?
21 A. These documents were not found until after
22 the Blaskic case, but I do believe actually that they
23 were found by the U.N. Centre for Human Rights only
24 recently. We'd requested these documents, I recall,
25 about a year --
1 Q. Mr. Akhavan, the question was simple. We'll
2 be able to speed up the examination if you answer the
3 question rather than going off into discussive
4 explanations. Is it true that these notes and the
5 draft report were not produced in the Blaskic case and
6 they were not produced in the Kupreskic case?
7 A. They were requested but not available, so
8 they were not produced, correct.
9 Q. Thank you. Now, I would like to go through
10 some of these notes with you. Would it be fair to say
11 that the first section of these notes deal with the
12 briefing that you were given by various members of
14 A. Correct.
15 Q. On the first page, you have the name "Dario
16 Kordic from Busovaca." The phrase "Local HVO
17 commander" is scratched out, and it says "HDZ leader,
18 second in command from Boban"; correct?
19 A. Correct.
20 Q. You were never, in fact, told that Dario
21 Kordic was an HVO leader, were you?
22 A. I was told that the HDZ and the HVO have an
23 inextricable relation with one another, not that Dario
24 Kordic is necessarily a military commander --
25 Q. Mr. Akhavan --
1 A. I'm answering your question.
2 Q. -- it was a very simple question.
3 JUDGE MAY: Let the witness deal with the
5 A. I was not told that he was an HVO military
6 commander, but I was told that the HDZ and HVO had
7 really an inseparable chain of authority.
8 Q. Is there any reference to that in your notes?
9 A. I believe it may be somewhere within these
10 notes. If not, it was based on the general
11 recollection I have of what I was told about the
12 situation in the region. Not everything is in these
13 notes. Most things are in these notes, mainly details
14 which I needed to remember for the drafting of the
15 report. But I do believe that later in the report, I
16 do refer to the facts, on several occasions, that Dario
17 Kordic gave political direction to the HVO in the
18 region, which meant that even if he was not involved in
19 having some sort of tactical operational command of the
20 military, he was giving overall direction to the
21 military in the region.
22 Q. Who told you that?
23 A. Well, it's somewhere in the notes. I can
24 find it for you. It may take a little bit of time. I
25 just reviewed it a few minutes ago. They were members
1 of the British Battalion, to the best of my
2 recollection, and on more than one occasion.
3 Q. I've taken the liberty of numbering these
4 notes. If you would just turn to page 34, these notes
5 detail your meeting with Mr. Kordic on May the 5th?
6 A. Yes. It's not in that area where I have the
7 notes which I refer to.
8 Q. He told you that he was the vice-president of
9 Herceg-Bosna, I believe.
10 A. Correct.
11 Q. He also told you that he was the
12 vice-president of the HDZ?
13 A. Correct.
14 Q. Now, I would like to go through --
15 A. And there is HDZ political support of HVO, so
16 even by his own admission, he did indicate that the HDZ
17 gave political direction to the HVO. But I was told,
18 as I said. We could -- possibly during the recess, I
19 could find the exact statements of various British
20 Battalion members who clearly indicated Dario Kordic
21 was the man in control, not necessarily in the sense
22 that he had day-to-day military command but that he was
23 the one who was calling the shots, so to say.
24 Q. Really? Who was the BritBat liaison officer
25 responsible for the Busovaca area?
1 A. I do not recall.
2 Q. Does the name Captain Matthew Dundas-Whatley
3 sound familiar to you?
4 A. Yes. He accompanied me, I believe, during
5 much of my visit to the region.
6 Q. He was the liaison officer, was he not?
7 A. It sounds reasonable to assume that.
8 Q. He arranged your meetings with Colonel
9 Blaskic and Mario Cerkez on May the 4th, 1993, did he
11 A. Yes, and I believe he was also responsible
12 for arranging the meeting with Dario Kordic.
13 Q. Your meeting with Dario Kordic was rather
14 short and abrupt, wasn't it, sir? About 15 minutes, I
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. We'll get into that in due course.
18 Let me begin my questions today with the
19 first visit that you paid to the village of Ahmici on
20 May the 1st, 1993. I believe that you accompanied
21 Lieutenant Colonel Stewart and his soon-to-be
22 successor, Lieutenant-Colonel Alistair Duncan.
23 A. Correct.
24 Q. The 1st Cheshires were rotating out of their
25 area of responsibility, and the Prince of Wales Own
1 Regiment was rotating in to take over the
2 responsibilities of 1st Cheshire at about the time that
3 you were there; correct?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. During the time that you drove out to Ahmici,
6 you actually saw houses on fire, didn't you?
7 A. As I had mentioned the other day, during the
8 evening that we arrived to Vitez, we saw houses
9 actually being put on fire as we were in the tank, and
10 when we were in Ahmici on the first day, I don't recall
11 seeing houses being put on fire, no. There were some
12 houses which were still smouldering, but the houses
13 which we saw being put on fire were in the evening when
14 we arrived. Subsequently in one of the days, we saw
15 homes being put on fire in neighbouring hamlets and
16 villages. I don't recall the exact date, but that was
17 not Ahmici.
18 Q. Let me read to you a sentence from your
19 statement dated June the 23rd, 1995, and which you
20 signed a few years later.
21 "I arrived in Vitez on the evening of 30
22 April 1993. I was brought to Vitez by a BritBat
23 Warrior from Kiseljak. I was first taken into Vitez
24 because BritBat had seen some houses on fire. I could
25 see, through a small portal in the Warrior, that some
1 houses were burning."
2 Does that refresh your recollection?
3 A. Yes. That's exactly what I referred to just
4 a moment ago. The first evening when we arrived, we
5 saw homes which had been set on fire.
6 Q. All right. Now, in relation to the evidence
7 that we covered yesterday, I suppose, and the
8 collection of bodies that were placed by the cemetery
9 in Ahmici by BritBat, you did, did you not, sir, have
10 the opportunity to receive an extensive briefing from
11 then Lieutenant Michael Dooley?
12 A. Yes. Actually, you mentioned the name
13 yesterday. It sounded familiar, and upon review of my
14 notes, I recall that he indeed did give us a briefing,
15 along with other members of the British Battalion.
16 Q. Indeed, on page 11 of your notes, there's one
17 reference to a conversation with Lieutenant Dooley?
18 A. Page 11?
19 Q. Yes.
20 A. Yes, I believe it's page 10. Correct. It
21 says, "Witnessed HVO forces cleansing houses with
22 grenades and spraying bullets." That's the reference
23 that you're speaking of?
24 Q. Yes.
25 A. Yes, I see that.
1 Q. Also on page 16, there was a second
2 conversation that you apparently had with Lieutenant
4 A. That is the page on top of which it says
5 "Ahmici not a defended village"?
6 Q. No, it's the page that says, "Lieutenant Mike
7 Dooley," underlined twice.
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. All right. Did Lieutenant Dooley relate to
10 you the fact that he personally had made four trips in
11 his armoured fighting vehicle to Ahmici on April the
12 16th and that he had actually collected approximately
13 24 bodies?
14 A. Towards the bottom of that page, you will see
15 my notes, where he says that he arrived in the early
16 afternoon of 16 April, where "Ahmici" is circled, and
17 he explains his observations, the presence of HVO
18 soldiers, some sort of residual resistance of Muslim
19 civilians defending themselves with shotguns, that he
20 discovered many bodies, most without shoes, suggesting
21 that they may have fled their home without much warning
22 or that it would have been so early in the morning that
23 many were still asleep or at their home.
24 Q. Did Lieutenant Dooley tell you that other
25 armoured units had preceded him into Ahmici that
1 morning, commanded by Lieutenant Monty Wooley?
2 A. I don't recall. I may even have elsewhere in
3 my notes some information to the effect that others had
4 visited Ahmici as well, so I do remember that I spoke
5 with more than one member of the British Battalion who
6 had visited Ahmici on that day.
7 Q. Do you recall Lieutenants Dooley and Wooley
8 telling you that they performed this body collection
9 exercise under intense fire in the middle of an active
11 A. I don't recall one way or the other, and I'm
12 not sure what relevance it would have had for our
13 purposes. What I have here is that they did pick up 10
14 to 20 bodies and that there was still some fighting
15 going on. I'm not sure whether your characterisation
16 of intense gunfire would be accurate. The --
17 Q. Let me --
18 A. -- indication which we were given is that by
19 the time they arrived, much of the killing had already
20 been done. Obviously, bodies were lying around in the
21 village, so it's fair to assume that much of the
22 fighting had been done already.
23 Q. Very well. Let me just read you a portion of
24 Lieutenant Dooley's November 1996 statement.
25 "The area where we collected these bodies
1 was under intense fire. Tracer fire was being fired
2 over us, and houses were burning everywhere."
3 Does that refresh your recollection on the
4 subject of whether there was an active firefight in
5 progress at the time that the British forces were
6 actually collecting bodies in Ahmici, sir?
7 A. Yes, well, as I said, the notes right here in
8 front of you indicate that there was still gunfire
9 going on. So, yes, it refreshes my memory from just 30
10 seconds ago when we discussed these notes.
11 Q. All right. Now, I believe that you actually
12 personally inspected not just one depression or trench
13 where you discovered spent shell casings of
14 undetermined calibre, but actually you saw four or five
15 depressions or ditches where there were agglomerations
16 of spent shell casings. Isn't that true, sir?
17 A. In relation to these so-called killing fields
18 or in general? In relation to that particular area
19 where some 20 bodies had been discovered, I only recall
20 looking at one depression. It may have been that the
21 depression consisted of further depressions, but I only
22 recognised one general area.
23 Q. All right. Now, as I understand it, your
24 second visit to Ahmici occurred on the next day, May
25 the 2nd.
1 A. I believe so, yes.
2 Q. You proceeded to Ahmici under armed guard;
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Your colleague, Mr. Osorio, was with you?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. When you refer, in your draft report, to a
8 team from the U.N. Centre for Human Rights visiting the
9 area, actually you mean you and Mr. Osorio, don't you?
10 A. Yes. The standard term that was used was "a
12 Q. Now, you say that you tried to speak to an
13 elderly Croat lady who was in a house?
14 A. She was not in a house. She was walking with
15 two younger children.
16 Q. She told you that she actually knew nothing
17 about who had been fighting in the village or who had
18 killed the villagers, did she not?
19 A. She did not tell me. She told my colleague,
20 Thomas, because I could not speak Serbo-Croatian. He
21 approached her with the aim, as we had discussed
22 earlier, of trying to see if those who were still in
23 the village could tell us anything about the events of
24 that day. She obviously was very fearful of speaking
25 with us, and she simply said that, "I don't know
1 anything." I could even remember her shaking her head,
2 meaning to say -- saying, "No, I don't know anything, I
3 cannot tell you anything."
4 Q. Well, in your December 1994 statement, you
5 say that this old lady "said that she knew nothing
6 about who had destroyed the village and killed the
8 A. Correct.
9 Q. Thank you. Now, after your second visit to
10 the village of Ahmici, I believe that you made a visit
11 to the city of Zenica.
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. It would have been on May the 3rd, 1993?
14 A. I think so.
15 Q. This was a city under the control of Muslim
16 forces; right?
17 A. Under the control of Bosnian government
18 forces, yes.
19 Q. It was also the headquarters of the centre of
20 Muslim forces in the region, the 3rd Corps; correct?
21 A. Correct.
22 Q. You visited, I believe, the Bosnian Institute
23 for War Crimes, did you not?
24 A. Yes, we did.
25 Q. As a result of that visit, you were directed
1 towards approximately 100 to 150 survivors from the
2 village of Ahmici; right?
3 A. Correct.
4 Q. All women and children; right?
5 A. Plus some elderly, but predominantly women
6 and children, correct.
7 Q. They informed you that they had been detained
8 at a school facility in the village of Dubravica,
9 right, --
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. -- and that they had not been mistreated at
13 A. Some of them indicated they had been there.
14 I recall others had simply fled and who had been hiding
15 in the forest or otherwise had escaped the region.
16 And I'm not sure if the characterisation is
17 correct to say that all of them said that they were not
18 mistreated. From what I recall vaguely, and I'm not
19 even sure if this was something we took down in our
20 notes, but I believe that the people were fed and they
21 were kept in reasonably good conditions. But we do
22 recall in one case people suggesting that a woman had
23 been raped, for example, that some people had been
24 beaten. What is good or bad under the conditions
25 prevailing in Bosnia-Herzegovina at that time is a
1 relative concept.
2 Q. You decided that your colleague, Mr. Osorio,
3 would return the next day to interview those people,
4 given his foreign language skills; correct?
5 A. Not only because of his foreign language
6 skills but as a sort of division of labour, I would
7 meet with the HVO leaders in the region and he would
8 speak with more of the witnesses in order to further
9 corroborate their allegations as to what had transpired
10 in Ahmici.
11 Q. When you were present in Zenica at the
12 facility to which you were directed by the Institute
13 for War Crimes, did you take the opportunity to attempt
14 to interview people yourself?
15 A. Myself personally?
16 Q. Yes.
17 A. I was not in a position to without a
18 translator, which is why Thomas Osorio, my colleague,
19 took the lead there. But, yes, we did take care to
20 actually speak to some of the people without the
21 presence of others, both because we did not want the
22 discussions to be controlled, if you like, by members
23 of the Institute for War Crimes or others, and,
24 secondly, because we wanted to see if people are giving
25 consistent accounts of events without hearing each
1 other's stories.
2 Q. You actually did get consistent accounts from
3 the people that you spoke to at least, didn't you?
4 A. More or less, yes.
5 Q. For example, they told you a uniform story
6 about soldiers in regular camouflage uniforms and HVO
7 patches who had participated in the attack in the
8 morning of the 16th of April, 1993?
9 A. Correct, and in many cases, they named
10 soldiers whom they happened to know.
11 Q. Yes. Not a single person told you that they
12 had spotted someone in a black uniform in the village
13 of Ahmici that morning, did they, sir?
14 A. I don't recall anyone saying that.
15 Q. Did you know, I believe you may have given us
16 some testimony about this already, but did you know
17 that there are some 300 Croat civilians actually in the
18 gaol in Zenica while you were there?
19 A. We discussed that yesterday. We did know
20 that there was a general harassment of Croats in
21 Zenica, and this was reflected in our report. I don't
22 know whether the specific facts of people being
23 detained was reflected, but we were aware that there
24 were difficult situations, and this was related to me
25 by Colonel Blaskic and others, as you see from the
1 handwritten notes which I have.
2 Q. Did you know that there was a separate
3 detention facility for captured Croat combatants
4 located at the music school in Zenica and run under the
5 auspices of the 7th Muslim Brigade, sir?
6 A. We had heard something to that effect, but I
7 have only a vague recollection of that.
8 Q. You were actually given some briefing on the
9 nature of this military unit, the 7th Muslim Brigade,
10 weren't you?
11 A. Yes, among others by Colonel Blaskic, I
12 believe, according to my notes.
13 Q. And also by BritBat, if you take a look at
14 page 3?
15 A. Yes, by BritBat as well, yes, "7th Muslim
16 Brigade, local people who are religious
18 Q. And that the brigade contained foreign
19 agents, about 100 to 150 of them, of mixed origin,
20 Saudi and Iranian, and that the 7th Muslim Brigade
21 answers directly to Zenica and not to locals or local
22 commanders; is that correct?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Thank you. Now, do you know whether the
25 institution that you visited, the Institute for War
1 Crimes, whether that was an agency of the government of
3 A. I believe that officially it was an
4 independent organisation, but I think most of us
5 realised that it is very closely associated with the
6 government. Therefore, we did approach them with some
7 degree of caution, as I indicated earlier.
8 Q. Are you familiar with an institution called
9 The Centre for the Documentation of Genocide and War
10 Crimes in Zenica?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Did you visit that facility as well, sir,
13 while you were there?
14 A. I don't believe so. I'm not sure if these
15 two are the same institution or not, but we only
16 visited one institution, where we were told by the
17 British Battalion that we would be able to locate
18 survivors from Ahmici, and that was our sole purpose
19 for approaching them.
20 Q. Did you make any notes of your interviews
21 with people who had actually lived through the events
22 at Ahmici on the morning of April the 16th, 1993?
23 A. I believe that those notes were mostly taken
24 by my colleague, Thomas Osorio, although I listened in
25 on --
1 Q. Did you take any notes?
2 A. I don't believe so. It could be that I
3 have -- I don't recall.
4 Q. Then, as I understand it, the next thing that
5 you did was return to the Vitez area and request the
6 assistance of BritBat liaison officers to arrange
7 various interviews for you, and the people that you
8 interviewed on the Croat side were, let me see if I've
9 got them right and in order, Colonel Tihomir Blaskic;
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Who was subsequently indicted by this
13 Tribunal; right?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. The next person was Mario Cerkez?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Also subsequently indicted by this Tribunal;
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. And then finally, Dario Kordic?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. As we know, subsequently indicted by this
24 A. I believe so.
25 Q. All right. Did you happen to interview any
1 Croat soldiers who had participated in the events of
2 April the 16th, 1993?
3 A. Well, if you consider Colonel Blaskic and
4 Mr. Cerkez soldiers, yes, I did. But if you're
5 speaking about their subordinates, no, I did not, but
6 the opportunity was given to the HVO commanders in the
7 region to present us with any evidence or testimony
8 which they wished, and they chose not to offer us
9 anything, beyond the meeting with them.
10 Q. Did you ask Colonel Blaskic or Mr. Cerkez to
11 speak with any of the soldiers who had actually
12 participated in the fighting in that village or in the
13 entire Lasva Valley that day?
14 A. Indeed, yes, we asked them to investigate the
15 matter thoroughly, so I suppose that would involve
16 speaking with those who had been involved in order to
17 discover what had happened on that day. I don't see
18 what --
19 Q. Mr. Akhavan, it's a very simple question:
20 Did you ask for their permission to interview any foot
21 soldiers, regular units, that were involved in
22 hostilities throughout the Lasva Valley on the 16th of
23 April, 1993 or not; "Yes" or "No"?
24 A. No.
25 Q. Thank you. In fact, you didn't interview a
1 single foot soldier, infantryman, artilleryman,
2 whatever, who may have participated in the hostilities
3 on that day, did you, sir?
4 A. No, because under the circumstances, it was
5 virtually impossible. Actually, the day before I met
6 the HVO commanders, a couple of snipers tried to kill
7 my colleague and I. Under the circumstances, I think
8 it's understandable that --
9 THE INTERPRETER: Could you slow down,
10 please? Could you slow down for the interpreters?
11 Could you slow down, please, for the interpreters?
12 MR. SAYERS:
13 Q. You didn't speak to any soldiers,
14 infantrymen, at all as you were coming up with your
15 conclusions; right?
16 A. No, not the subordinates of Cerkez and
18 Q. And Blaskic and Cerkez told you that they
19 themselves were not sure of what had gone on in Ahmici
20 that day, didn't they?
21 A. That's what they said. We did, of course,
22 when we were in Ahmici, try to approach the locals, as
23 I recall, whichever locals we happened to see, and the
24 result of our approaching the locals was an attempt by
25 snipers to kill us. So I don't think it's accurate to
1 say that we did not make a serious effort to try and
2 speak to the inhabitants of the village.
3 Q. All right, sir. Let's put it this way: You
4 were reliant, indeed, dependent for your conclusions
5 regarding the hostilities that day from accounts that
6 you had received from essentially two sources: First,
7 the Muslim survivors; correct?
8 A. Correct.
9 Q. Second, the British soldiers who had been in
10 the middle of a vigorous fire fight that day.
11 A. And, thirdly, the physical evidence which was
12 available in the village of Ahmici and environs.
13 Q. Before coming to testify today, have you
14 reviewed any documents at all related to the events at
15 Ahmici, other than your notes and your draft report?
16 A. None whatsoever.
17 Q. Did you take the opportunity to interview any
18 Croat residents of the town of Vitez, sir, to try to
19 determine what had gone on in that town on April the
20 16th of 1993 and thereafter?
21 A. All of our contacts were through the Bosnian
22 Croat authorities of the region, and we assumed that
23 they would be in a position to direct us if they felt
24 that it would be necessary. We did not approach the
25 local inhabitants without going through the local
1 Bosnian Croat authorities.
2 Q. The answer to the question, though, is that
3 you did not interview any Croat residents of the town
4 of Vitez at any time during your one-week tour through
5 the Lasva Valley; is that correct?
6 A. I did not personally.
7 Q. And the same holds true, I gather, for the
8 villages of Kruscica, Poculica, Gacice, Bukve, and
9 Donja Veceriska; is that correct?
10 A. Yes, except that some of those villages that
11 you mentioned were actually, I believe, with Sergeant
12 Major Beck, as a group of local Croats jumped in their
13 cars, went to the villages, and we could actually see
14 homes being set on fire a few minutes later. So in
15 certain cases, we --
16 Q. Once again, Mr. Akhavan --
17 A. -- could see what the locals were up to --
18 Q. -- the answer to the question was, quite
19 apart from the comments that you wish to interject,
20 that you did not speak to a single resident of any of
21 the villages that I enumerated; isn't that correct?
22 A. Yes, but we did speak to villagers, for
23 example, in Miletici and other places where Croats had
24 been killed. So we did speak with local Croats. I'm
25 not sure if it was in the particular villages that you
1 mentioned, but I think it depended on the
2 circumstances. We did speak with local Croats. I
3 think it's inaccurate to say we didn't.
4 Q. You say you spoke with local Croats in the
5 village of Miletici. Were there any local Croats left
6 in the village of Miletici?
7 A. Yes, there were. The Croats were considering
8 leaving because they were obviously fearful,
9 understandably, but the only people that had been
10 killed were, I believe, the four or five young men who
11 had been tortured and killed by local Muslims, whose
12 homes we could actually see from some distance, from
13 the hamlet.
14 Q. Let me read to you an entry from milinfosum
15 number 177, dated April the 25th, 1993, from BritBat.
16 MR. NICE: Can we have a copy, please?
17 MR. SAYERS: I beg your pardon?
18 MR. NICE: Can I have a copy of the
20 JUDGE MAY: Yes. Let's have a copy.
21 MR. SAYERS: I actually don't have a copy
22 with me, I didn't want to burden the record with any
23 more paper, but I'm happy to make a copy at the break,
24 and we will resume this subject when a copy is
1 Q. Taking it up chronologically, Mr. Akhavan,
2 the first meeting that you had was on May the 4th,
3 1993, at 11.00 a.m. with Colonel Tihomir Blaskic;
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. This was the first time that you had met
7 Colonel Blaskic; is that correct?
8 A. Correct.
9 Q. Would it be fair to say that the tenure of
10 that meeting was relatively accusatorial on your part?
11 A. I think that parts of it were accusatorial.
12 The first half of the meeting, as reflected by the
13 notes, was an information session where Colonel Blaskic
14 explained to me what the geography of the region was,
15 what the structure of his command was, what were the
16 forces under his command, so on and so forth.
17 When we began to discuss the events in
18 Ahmici, yes, I did specifically ask him who was
19 responsible, and when he gave me what I believed were
20 evasive answers, I became, I think, a bit firm in order
21 to try and tell him that I did not believe his
22 explanations were being respectful of my time and our
23 discussion. I don't think the entire meeting was
24 accusatorial. That's not correct.
25 Q. So you turned up at this meeting, and your
1 opinion was, I think, to use the verb used in your 1995
2 statement, that Colonel Blaskic feigned not knowing
3 anything about what had occurred in Ahmici?
4 A. Yes, I would say that the explanations he
5 gave were quite incredulous and, in fact, inconsistent
6 with his own earlier statements, where, for example, he
7 said that he is in complete control of the region and
8 that no significant military operation takes place
9 without his orders, but then subsequently, he suggested
10 that elements of HOS or Mujahedin or other extremists
11 had engaged in what was evidently a large-scale
12 military operation and that he had no knowledge about
13 that, and a number of other things which he said
14 suggested that he was not dealing with me in an honest
16 Q. You told him that, upon this, your first
17 meeting, you didn't believe him; right?
18 A. Yes, I was very honest, and I said, "I'm not
19 convinced by that explanation." Of course, prior to
20 that meeting, I already had accumulated considerable
21 evidence as to what had transpired.
22 Q. You actually lost your temper and started
23 shouting at Colonel Blaskic in that meeting, didn't
25 A. I'm not sure if "shouting" is correct. He
1 did behave in an intimidating fashion, and I was not
2 about to allow him to intimidate me. But I don't
3 believe "shouting" is -- depending on what your
4 standard is, of course -- the correct description.
5 Q. Here is Colonel Blaskic's version of your
6 interview in testimony he gave in the Blaskic case on
7 the 16th of March, 1999. He says:
8 A During the day of the 4th and the 5th,
9 I also had a meeting with Mr. Akhavan,
10 and he wanted me to tell him what had
11 happened on the 16th of April, 1993, and
12 briefly, I described the events of the
13 16th of April, 1993. After I briefly
14 described the events, Mr. Akhavan said:
15 "Your units on your orders carried out
16 the massacre in Ahmici and killed
17 civilians." My answer to Mr. Akhavan
18 was that they hadn't committed a crime
19 under my orders because I hadn't ordered
20 the commission of a crime, and I know
21 for certain that my units had not done
23 Then he goes on to say, on page 19185 of the
24 transcript, in response to this question:
25 Q So Mr. Payam Akhavan appeared from
1 somewhere. You don't know who he is.
2 What happens then? What did he say to
3 you and what did you say?
4 A He was very angry after that. He
5 started shouting: "Ahmici was in your
6 area of responsibility." He kept
7 repeating this, and he was perhaps
8 irritated. I answered: "Yes, Ahmici is
9 in my zone of responsibility. It is
10 also in the zone of responsibility of
11 the 3rd Corps." I told him that there
12 was a conflict, and after that, the
13 meeting ended.
14 Is that consistent with your recollection of
15 your meeting with Colonel Blaskic that day or on those
16 days, sir?
17 A. No, it's not. I think it's quite a distorted
18 description of the events. If you would like, I can
19 clarify and explain to you how I saw the meeting.
20 Q. Absolutely, please.
21 A. Well, first of all, I don't think
22 Colonel Blaskic gave me a brief description, as he said
23 it. Well, he gave me the description in the sense that
24 there was some sort of hostilities in the region
25 between Muslims and Croats. He gave no satisfactory
1 description or explanation as to what had transpired in
2 the region, in terms of atrocities committed against
3 Muslim civilians.
4 Secondly, I do not recall ever suggesting to
5 him that he had ordered the acts in question.
6 And in terms of being very angry, shouting,
7 irritated, I, as I said, don't believe that that was
8 the case. I did become irritated, that is true,
9 because after two hours of evasive answers, I realised
10 that we're not going to get anywhere.
11 I must say that the explanation that -- as
12 this is reflected in my notes -- that extremist
13 elements not under his control, including either HOS,
14 which he earlier had said is a completely insignificant
15 force in the region, or Mujahedin themselves, had
16 massacred the Muslims seemed almost an insulting
17 explanation, and I don't believe, based on his demeanour
18 or disposition or that of his colleagues in the room,
19 that any of them were actually serious about the
20 explanation which they were giving.
21 You see from my notes that he said to me he
22 never gave orders to attack civilians. My response to
23 him is that that is not the issue here. The issue is
24 if his soldiers were indeed responsible, even after the
25 fact, he's responsible for taking action in order to
1 ensure that it does not happen again.
2 So I think my notes speak for themselves in
3 terms of the content of what we spoke about, so, with
4 respect, I would differ in my perception of the
5 exchange which we had on that day, which lasted, I
6 believe, some two, possibly three hours.
7 Q. You told him, sir, that as the commander of
8 the HVO armed forces, he was responsible to conduct a
9 full investigation and to identify the perpetrators of
10 the events at Ahmici?
11 JUDGE MAY: Yes, he's given evidence to that
12 effect. There's no need to repeat it.
13 Is it challenged that Colonel Blaskic replied
14 in the way in which the witness has said he did?
15 MR. SAYERS: Evidently by Colonel Blaskic,
16 Your Honour.
17 JUDGE MAY: No, not Colonel Blaskic, by you.
18 You're conducting this case. Now, is that in dispute
19 or not?
20 MR. SAYERS: Yes, it is.
21 JUDGE MAY: What is it suggested that
22 Colonel Blaskic said?
23 MR. SAYERS: It is suggested that
24 Colonel Blaskic said what he said he said in his
1 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Sayers, put it to the witness
3 MR. SAYERS:
4 Q. Mr. Akhavan, I put it to you, isn't it true
5 that Colonel Blaskic actually said what he said he said
6 in the Blaskic case a few months ago as --
7 JUDGE MAY: You can't put it in that way.
8 The witness wasn't there. What is it suggested, so
9 that we may all know, that Colonel Blaskic said to the
10 witness? Now, tell us what it is.
11 MR. SAYERS:
12 Q. Mr. Akhavan, isn't it true that
13 Colonel Blaskic told you that the units under his
14 control had not committed a crime under his orders
15 because he had not ordered the commission of a crime
16 and he knew for certain that his units had not
17 perpetrated the crime?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Isn't it true that you did get angry with
20 Colonel Blaskic and exhibited that anger in a visible
21 fashion to him?
22 A. No.
23 Q. Isn't it true that you started shouting at
24 him that Ahmici was in his area of responsibility and
25 that you kept on repeating it?
1 A. No, I did not shout at him.
2 Q. Isn't it true that Colonel Blaskic told you
3 that Ahmici was in his zone of responsibility, --
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. -- and that it was also in the zone of
6 responsibility of the 3rd Corps, --
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. -- and that there was a conflict?
9 A. Yes, but he did say that he had control and
10 not the 3rd Corps. It was in the zone of
11 responsibility of the 3rd Corps, but the HVO was in
13 Q. Isn't it also true that after that
14 acrimonious exchange, the meeting ended?
15 A. Acrimonious, with qualifications which I had
16 earlier mentioned, yes, the meeting ended. But the
17 meeting went on for two or three hours, so --
18 Q. All right, sir. Now, who else was at this
20 A. I believe that Dundas-Whatley possibly was
21 present at that meeting. There would have been one or
22 two UNPROFOR translators. On the side of
23 Colonel Blaskic, I believe there were other members of
24 the HVO present. I believe somewhere in the middle of
25 the meeting, a gentleman by the name of Anto Valenta,
1 to the best of my recollection, also appeared and made
2 a brief appearance.
3 Q. All right. Now, were you told that
4 Colonel Blaskic had already invited the creation of an
5 investigating commission pursuant to a letter that he
6 had sent to Lieutenant-Colonel Stewart on April the
7 23rd, 1993?
8 A. I actually reviewed my notes, as you had
9 mentioned a Busovaca commission earlier. What I do
10 recall is that on April 25th, there was a joint
11 statement made by Alija Izetbegovic and Mate Boban in
12 which they denounced all acts of ethnic cleansing, and
13 they agreed to set up an international -- independent
14 international commission to look into these
15 allegations. It could be that reference was made to
16 that during the meeting. I don't have any notes of
18 Q. No, I think that you're confusing the
19 document I'm referring to. Why don't we, just before
20 the break, if I may, ask you to take a look at two
21 documents, D63/1 and D64/1.
22 Turning your attention to the first document,
23 dated April the 22nd, 1993, have you ever seen a copy
24 of this letter from Lieutenant Colonel Stewart to
25 Colonel Blaskic before?
1 A. No, but it is consistent with what Bob
2 Stewart told me, that he had communicated this
3 information to Colonel Blaskic.
4 Q. Did Lieutenant-Colonel Stewart tell you that
5 he had actually requested the assistance of
6 Colonel Blaskic in ordering an investigation into the
7 sacking of the village?
8 A. I think it was clear that Bob Stewart was,
9 both in the case of Blaskic and Cerkez, telling them
10 the same thing that I had said, that they must
11 investigate the matter.
12 Q. Did Lieutenant-Colonel Stewart tell you what
13 the response to that letter was, sir?
14 A. No, I don't recall what the response was, but
15 I don't believe that there was any sense, during my
16 discussions with him or others, that there was a
17 serious effort to investigate or to bring anyone to
19 Q. Would you take a look at Exhibit D64/1, sir.
20 Were you aware --
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. -- that Colonel Blaskic had suggested the
23 creation of a joint commission consisting of BritBat
24 representatives, Croat representatives, and Muslim
25 representatives to investigate the incidents at Ahmici?
1 A. I recall that being mentioned during the
2 meeting, but I don't believe that the sole purpose was
3 to investigate the events in Ahmici. I believe it was
4 a broader confidence-building exercise, if you like, to
5 stabilise the situation in the region.
6 Q. Let me just read you the very first sentence,
7 if I may.
8 "I am ready to send immediately the
9 investigating commission to the village of Ahmici as
10 well as to all other places that need to be
11 investigated because of gathering facts about all the
12 innocent victims in this conflict."
13 A. Yes, except that the date of this letter is
14 April 23rd, and some ten days later, when I was
15 interviewing Colonel Blaskic, unless he, out of a sense
16 of modesty, did not want to tell me that such an
17 investigation had actually been commenced, did not
18 mention anything about an investigation being
19 initiated, and I specifically asked him that question.
20 Q. What, if anything, did Lieutenant-Colonel
21 Stewart tell you about the suggestion to form this
22 joint investigative commission and the progress that
23 had been made towards forming it?
24 A. I don't believe any significant progress had
25 been made. I discussed with Colonel Stewart the
1 general matter of pressuring the local HVO commanders
2 to investigate the matter. He was not satisfied that
3 there was any serious intent to do so at that point in
4 time, and I think that in retrospect, his observation
5 was correct.
6 Q. Did Major Watters ever inform you that the
7 reason this commission was not been formed was because
8 of a reluctance by the Muslim side to participate in
9 such a commission and that they viewed such a
10 commission as futile?
11 A. I do believe that I actually spoke with some
12 of the Bosnian government or, as you would say, Muslim
13 commanders, and this is in my notes as well. I don't
14 believe any of them trusted the HVO or any of them
15 believed that anything would ever come out of such an
17 But I think there was a general tension in
18 the region at that point between the Bosnian government
19 and Bosnian Croat forces which hampered cooperation not
20 only in this area but in really any range of areas,
21 including freedom of movement in the region and
22 ceasefire and so on and so forth.
23 Q. Did you know that Colonel Blaskic had
24 actually initiated an investigation on the side of the
25 Bosnian Croats himself in the absence of the formation
1 of this joint investigation commission that he had
3 A. Well, he certainly did not mention anything
4 during our meeting, and I think he had, during the two
5 or three hours, ample opportunity to do so. My
6 impression, once again in retrospect, is that nothing
7 really came out of the investigation, unless you're
8 privy to certain information that I'm not. No one was
9 named, no one was prosecuted, and the atrocities
11 Q. The final question along these lines, you
12 actually told Colonel Blaskic, at the end of your
13 interview, that if he did not order an investigation,
14 then he would be seen as an accomplice; right?
15 A. In a general sense, I said that he bears
16 responsibility for ensuring that such allegations are
17 fully investigated and, if necessary, prosecuted. But
18 obviously I was not in any position to tell him that I
19 would hold him or even an institution that I was
20 directly associated with would hold him accountable.
21 So it was a general reminder to him of his obligations
22 under international law as part of the preventive
23 function of Mr. Mazowiecki's mandate as Human Rights
24 Special Rapporteur.
25 MR. SAYERS: That would be a convenient
1 moment, Your Honour.
2 JUDGE MAY: Very well. We'll adjourn for ten
4 --- Recess taken at 12.02 p.m.
5 --- On resuming at 12.19 p.m.
6 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Mr. Sayers.
7 MR. SAYERS:
8 Q. Mr. Akhavan, do I take it that it's your
9 view, consistent with what you told Colonel Blaskic
10 during your exchange on May the 4th, 1993, that he fell
11 down in his responsibility somehow under international
12 law in failing to order an investigation of the events
13 of Ahmici?
14 A. Based on the limited information available to
15 me, yes.
16 Q. I wonder if I might just draw your attention
17 to the next document, please?
18 THE REGISTRAR: The document is marked
20 MR. SAYERS:
21 Q. Mr. Akhavan, I would like you to take a look
22 at this exhibit, which represents an order on Colonel
23 Blaskic's part, dated May the 10th, 1993, directed to
24 the SIS, I believe, to conduct an investigation into
25 the events in the village of Ahmici. Have you ever
1 seen a copy of this order before?
2 A. No, I have not.
3 Q. Is it true that you have been unaware, during
4 the last five years that you have worked for the Office
5 of the Prosecutor, that this document was actually
6 issued by Colonel Blaskic?
7 A. During the past five years that I've worked
8 with the Office of the Prosecutor, I've consciously not
9 been involved in the investigation relating to the
10 Blaskic case, so it doesn't surprise me that I'm
11 unaware of this document.
12 Q. So it would be fair to say then that you see
13 this document for the first time today?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. I believe this document is dated six days
16 after your meeting with Colonel Blaskic?
17 A. Correct.
18 Q. Thank you. Just a few final questions in so
19 far as Colonel Blaskic is concerned.
20 First, Colonel Blaskic consistently
21 emphasised to you that he was in command of all
22 military units in the HVO in Central Bosnia, didn't he?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. It's also true, and I think that your notes
25 reflect this, that throughout your interview with
1 Colonel Blaskic, he never once mentioned the name Dario
2 Kordic to you?
3 A. I do believe that the name of Dario Kordic
4 may have come up.
5 Q. In what context, sir?
6 A. I'm not sure, but usually when I met with the
7 individuals in question, I would review the information
8 which had been given to me by others in terms of the
9 structure of authority in the Lasva Valley region, and
10 I do recall in most cases reviewing what I had earlier
11 been told by members of the British Battalion to see
12 whether I would receive any contrary information.
13 Q. Colonel Blaskic never contended that he was
14 subordinate to Mr. Kordic in the military chain of
15 command, did he, sir?
16 A. In the military chain of command, I don't
17 believe so.
18 Q. Thank you. During the course of your
19 investigation, sir, I believe that you put together a
20 list of 18 people whom you considered to have been
21 among the perpetrators of the events in Ahmici on the
22 16th of April, 1993; would that be fair to say?
23 A. My colleague, Thomas Osorio, put that list
24 together based on the interviews he had in Zenica on
25 the day when I was in Vitez interviewing Colonel
1 Blaskic and Mr. Cerkez and Kordic.
2 Q. Would it be fair to say then that before you
3 left the Lasva Valley on May the 7th, you actually had
4 a list of suspects; right?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Indeed, that list of suspects was forwarded
7 to a commission of experts for potential prosecutions
8 of war crimes; is that correct?
9 A. It was submitted to the commission of experts
10 for the purpose of their general data bank and
11 reports. At that point in time, the mandate of the
12 commission of experts did not extend to criminal
13 prosecutions. Obviously, it was not a jurisdiction as
15 Q. This list of suspects was never provided to
16 the HVO, to Colonel Blaskic, or anyone else within the
17 HVO, was it?
18 A. No, it wasn't, and I think that that was
19 probably a deliberate decision. We were not
20 responsible for conducting criminal investigations, and
21 the only reason that we took those 18 names down, in
22 addition to the fact that it gave credibility to the
23 statements of many of the witnesses for the purposes of
24 our report, was simply to assist the commission. We
25 happened to get these names, and we exceptionally
1 decided to forward this to the commission for their
2 purposes, to see whether they wished to follow up. But
3 it was not our practice to conduct investigations and
4 then to give the names to the local authorities.
5 Q. Mr. Akhavan, it was a very simple question:
6 You never gave the list of suspects to the HVO, did
8 A. I don't believe so. I was not involved in
9 subsequent missions to the region, so I'm not aware of
10 what may have transpired, either on the part of our
11 commission or the commission of experts.
12 Q. In fact, this was a decision that you and
13 Colonel Stewart actually reached, isn't that true, not
14 to turn over the names of the suspects of the --
15 A. I don't believe Colonel Stewart would have
16 been involved in that decision. Colonel Stewart was,
17 in no way, in a position of authority vis-a-vis this
18 special human rights -- the human rights rapporteur of
19 the commission of the United Nations. I believe that
20 that was a general matter of policy.
21 But I must say that during my meetings with
22 Colonel Blaskic, with Mr. Kordic, with Mr. Cerkez, that
23 I did raise the fact, in general terms, that many of
24 the witnesses could identify the perpetrators of these
25 crimes and that the perpetrators of these crimes were
1 in HVO uniforms and many of them were from local
2 villages. So the matter was raised, although the
3 specific 18 names may have not been mentioned.
4 Q. Let me just read you an excerpt from Colonel
5 Stewart's diary of May the 4th, 1993.
6 "Whilst hanging around the ECMM, I talked to
7 Thomas Osorio and Payam Akhavan, both members of the
8 U.N. Centre for Human Rights. They were investigating
9 Ahmici. They told me that technically Tihomir Blaskic,
10 Ante Valenta (vice-president HVO) and Pero Skopljak
11 were at least guilty of complicity in genocide. In
12 addition, Nenad Santic, Ivan Livancic, Kristo Zarko,"
13 and a word I can't read, "were part of the attacking
14 HVO team."
15 He then goes on to say:
16 "I was incensed by this and agreed that we
17 should raise the matter with Valenta and Blaskic
18 without giving them names."
19 Is that consistent with your recollection,
21 A. I do recall that we, on several occasions,
22 discussed the fact that we should pressure the local
23 leaders into undertaking a serious investigation with a
24 view to punishing those responsible. I do not recall
25 having come to an agreement with Colonel Stewart about
1 mentioning names. The reason for that is that the
2 names, the 18 names, were listed by Thomas Osorio on
3 the same day that I was meeting with Colonel Blaskic,
4 so we did not actually have those names available.
5 It may be that on a subsequent occasion,
6 Colonel Stewart may have decided that in his
7 communications with these individuals in the HVO
8 command, he would not bring up the names, but the names
9 were simply not available at the time that I was
10 meeting with Colonel Blaskic.
11 The names were not available in the sense
12 that we had already heard, from the witnesses in
13 Zenica, that they could name specific individuals. One
14 of them mentioned a school teacher, one of them
15 mentioned Mr. so and so, but the names were not listed
16 actually until the following day.
17 Q. All right. Now, you referred to a joint
18 agreement or joint statement issued by Mate Boban,
19 Alija Izetbegovic, and witnessed by Dr. Franjo Tudjman,
20 dated April 25th, 1993?
21 A. Correct.
22 MR. SAYERS: All right. That's previously
23 been exhibited, Your Honours, as Exhibit D27/1.
24 Q. Did you have knowledge of this joint
25 statement before you conducted your tour through the
1 Lasva Valley, sir?
2 A. Yes, we had knowledge of that statement, and
3 indeed part of the reason the ECMM was encouraging us
4 to go to the region is so that we could act as the
5 independent, impartial commission envisaged in the
7 Q. All right. So you were aware then, I take
8 it, that as of April the 25th, 1993, the leading figure
9 in the Croat community and the leading figure in the
10 Muslim community had advocated the establishment of a
11 joint commission to establish what had happened at
12 Ahmici and other areas where atrocities had been
13 committed; correct?
14 A. Correct, in the same way that Radavan
15 Karadzic and Vlatko Mladic regularly signed agreements
16 explaining that they would comply with the Geneva
17 Conventions. These agreements were a dime a dozen
18 during the war, so we generally met them with
19 considerable scepticism.
20 Q. Nonetheless, you've described this
21 development as commendable in your draft report?
22 A. Of course. The policy of the Special
23 Rapporteur was always to encourage the parties to take
24 their commitments seriously, but this was rarely the
25 case, unfortunately.
1 Q. Notwithstanding your foreknowledge of the
2 recommendations from the political leaders of both
3 sides actually even before you conducted your
4 investigation, you decided not to disclose the names of
5 the suspects to Colonel Blaskic or anyone else
6 associated with the leadership of the Bosnian Croats in
7 Central Bosnia; correct?
8 A. As a field representative of the Special
9 Rapporteur --
10 Q. Just "Yes" or "No," Mr. Akhavan.
11 A. I would like to explain instead of giving a
12 "Yes" or "No" answer, because I believe it's
14 Q. Mr. Akhavan --
15 JUDGE MAY: Let the witness explain.
16 A. I did not -- if you want a "Yes" or "No"
17 answer, I did not, but the reason is I had no authority
18 or mandate to do so. The information was transmitted
19 to Geneva, where the Special Rapporteur made the
20 decision to forward it to the commission of experts.
21 MR. SAYERS:
22 Q. How would Colonel Blaskic be in a position to
23 do an investigation of unnamed troops under his command
24 when the percipient Muslim witnesses were beyond his
25 ability to question, in your view?
1 A. Well, there was the possibility to still
2 interview some of the Muslims which were still, at that
3 date, being detained in various locations in the region
4 under HVO control, and I think that clearly if there
5 was a serious effort to investigate, the UNPROFOR
6 soldiers could have easily escorted a representative of
7 Colonel Blaskic or the HVO to interview the survivors
8 in Zenica. In addition, there were still several
9 survivors in the village of Ahmici and vicinity,
10 members of the local Bosnian Croat population,
11 including members of the HVO, who could also have been
13 So there were, I think, many opportunities to
14 investigate, and frankly speaking, I don't think it
15 would take much imagination to figure out what had
16 happened in Ahmici, based on the scale of the
17 destruction and based on the fact that virtually every
18 Muslim home was destroyed and none of the Croat homes
19 were touched.
20 Q. Just to leave this point, you actually
21 interviewed 100 to 150 survivors of Ahmici, did you
23 A. I personally did not interview them. My
24 colleague, Thomas Osorio, did, and I accompanied him.
25 I'm not sure if we interviewed each and every of the
1 100 to 150. We, I don't know, spent quite some time
2 there, probably interviewed 30 or 40 people from
3 different families at different times and locations to
4 try and get a broad exposure to the testimony.
5 Q. All right. But you never invited UNPROFOR
6 yourself, I guess, to escort Colonel Blaskic and his
7 team of investigators, whoever they might be, to
8 interview these people that you had been given access
10 A. I don't think it was our business at all to
11 get involved in such matters. We were there for one
12 week to conduct an investigation. It was UNPROFOR that
13 was present in the field. It was the HVO that assumed
14 responsibility for the region. Our job, in general
15 terms, was to alert them to the allegations, to the
16 evidence which we had gathered, and to try to persuade
17 them, with the very limited resources at our potential,
18 to try and prevent the recurrence of such atrocities.
19 How they chose to pursue such matters was, frankly
20 speaking, beyond our control.
21 Q. All right. Now, towards the end of the
22 meeting that you had with Colonel Blaskic, and I'm
23 finished with him now, I believe that you gave some
24 testimony that a man named Anto or Ante Valenta came
25 into the meeting. Is that correct?
1 A. I believe that was his name. He was
2 introduced to us as, I believe, vice-president. I have
3 this in my notes here. Yes, Anto Valenta,
4 vice-president HVO from Travnik, and he was in Vitez
5 because of the dangerous situation in Travnik. I
6 believe the dangerous situation referred to the Serbs,
7 because Colonel Blaskic had also explained that he had
8 moved his headquarters from Travnik to Vitez.
9 Q. Once again, Mr. Akhavan, I hate to interrupt
10 you, but really it's very simple. When a question is
11 asked like that, "Did you meet Anto Valenta" --
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. -- the answer is either "Yes" or "No"?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. And you made notes of that meeting, and those
16 appear on pages 32 and 33 --
17 A. Correct.
18 Q. -- your notes which we've marked as Exhibit
19 65/1, I believe. All right. You would concede, would
20 you not, that there's absolutely no reference there to
21 the sorts of propagandising and extreme views to which
22 you testified a few days ago?
23 A. I would not bother to take notes which would
24 have no factual relevance to our report, but it did
25 clearly leave an impression on us.
1 Q. In your statement of 1995, you told the
2 investigators from the Prosecution, for whom you
3 actually worked, that you pretty much ignored
4 Mr. Valenta; isn't that correct?
5 A. Yes. After I heard what he had to say, I
6 decided that there wasn't really anything to be gained
7 from entering into a discussion with him.
8 Q. Therefore, you proceeded to make two pages of
9 notes about what he did say.
10 A. I'm not sure if those notes are about what he
11 has said. I simply have taken a note there indicating
12 Anto Valenta, who he was. Whenever someone entered the
13 meeting that I felt was sufficiently important, I would
14 try to note down who that person was. But then I
15 believe from the point where I say "Commander of Vitez
16 Brigade," I'm not sure if that refers to what Anto
17 Valenta told me or whether I'm now returning back to
18 what Colonel Blaskic was telling me. I don't suppose
19 he was commander of the Vitez Brigade, so this is
20 probably a continuation of what Colonel Blaskic was
21 telling me.
22 Q. There is no reference --
23 A. I'm sorry. This is actually the meeting with
24 Mario Cerkez. Anto Valenta probably would have come
25 towards the end of my discussion with Colonel Blaskic,
1 so I noted his presence, simply that he had moved to
2 Vitez because of the dangerous situation in Travnik,
3 and then you see at the left margin "Mario Cerkez,"
4 which has probably been written down for me either by
5 himself or someone who was present at the meeting, just
6 to get the correct spelling, and then begins the
7 interview with him, which was actually at a separate
8 time and location from that of Colonel Blaskic.
9 Q. All right. Let's turn, if I may, then to
10 your interview with Mr. Cerkez. I will leave most of
11 the questions on this topic to my colleague,
12 Mr. Kovacic, but I do have a few questions for you in
13 this regard.
14 Did you use the same sort of
15 cross-examination technique on Mr. Cerkez that you had
16 used on Colonel Blaskic?
17 A. I did not use cross-examination techniques
18 such as those being used against me. I think I
19 conducted an interview, and where the answers were
20 evasive, on occasion, I would try to, if you like,
21 focus the discussion so as not to waste any of our
22 times, because, indeed, the time was very limited.
23 Q. Did Captain Dundas-Whatley ever tell you that
24 he was completely embarrassed by your cross-examination
25 technique in connection with Mr. Cerkez that day?
1 A. I did not engage in a cross-examination
2 technique, but I knew that Dundas-Whatley was not
3 pleased by the spirit of the meetings, because their
4 mandate and interest was very different than mine. The
5 British Battalion was trying to create some sort of
6 trust --
7 Q. Did he ever tell you that he was
8 embarrassed --
9 JUDGE MAY: Let him finish, please. Yes.
10 A. Dundas-Whatley, understandably, and the
11 UNPROFOR in general, their mandate was not respect for
12 human rights; their mandate was military security. In
13 order to achieve their objective, they had to have a
14 relationship of trust and confidence with the local HVO
15 commanders. In our case, our job was to put forward
16 embarrassing and difficult issues, such as the fact
17 that the HVO may have slaughtered several hundred
18 civilians. This was never, even under the best of
19 circumstances, going to create a good air between the
20 human rights representative and the person in
22 I believe that the meeting with Cerkez was
23 not in cross-examination style, but it was also not a
24 pleasant meeting. None of the meetings that I had were
25 pleasant meetings, if that's what you're asking.
1 Q. No. Here's what I'm asking: In the
2 statement that Captain Matthew Dundas-Whatley gave to
3 the Prosecution on February the 19th, 1995, here's what
4 he had to say. He was taken to see Cerkez. "DW stated
5 that during a 45-minute interview, he became
6 embarrassed as PA," that's you, "cross-examined
8 A. I recall that statement of Dundas-Whatley.
9 I'm not sure if Mr. Whatley is a lawyer, so I would
10 take his use of the word "cross-examination" with a
11 grain of salt, but it was clear that there was not a
12 good spirit at the meeting.
13 Q. This was the first time that you had met
14 Mr. Cerkez, I take it?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. You told him that he was responsible to
17 conduct a full investigation regarding the activities
18 of the soldiers under his command; right?
19 A. Correct.
20 Q. During your interview with Mr. Cerkez, he
21 never once mentioned to you the name Dario Kordic, did
23 A. I believe the name of Dario Kordic came up
24 during the meeting. As I said, I had reviewed the
25 question of authority in the region in every occasion,
1 but I don't recall specifically.
2 Q. Right. Your notes don't reflect any mention
3 of the name Dario Kordic by Mr. Cerkez during your
4 interview of him, do they?
5 A. No, they don't.
6 Q. That brings us to the 15-minute meeting that
7 you had with Dario Kordic on May the 5th.
8 A. Correct.
9 Q. You met Mr. Kordic once, did you not?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Would it be fair to say that the meeting
12 degenerated into a shouting match, with each one of you
13 jabbing fingers at one another?
14 A. I don't believe that there was shouting.
15 There may have been finger-pointing, largely on his
16 part. I was basically escorted by one member of the
17 British Battalion into the meeting. There were several
18 soldiers, both in the antechamber and in his room,
19 carrying guns and rifles, and I would say, if anything,
20 he was in the position to be pointing fingers at me.
21 Q. Did you use the same interrogation style as
22 you had used with Mr. Cerkez shortly before?
23 JUDGE MAY: I don't think the witness has
24 accepted that he used an interrogation style. So if
25 you will rephrase that question.
1 MR. SAYERS: Yes, Your Honour, I will.
2 Q. Here's what Captain Dundas-Whatley has to say
3 about the meeting: "After calling at the local police
4 HQ, DK," Mr. Kordic, "appeared, but on this occasion,
5 when PA started his interrogation-style interview, this
6 resulted in DK going into some long statements and
7 pointing his fingers aggressively at PA." Would you
8 agree with that?
9 A. I would agree that, as I said earlier, he was
10 the one pointing fingers at me. I was not necessarily
11 pointing them back. I would also agree that the
12 interview was very vigorous, if you want to call that
13 interrogation, but if you look at my notes, you will
14 see that most of the interview, which changed towards
15 the end, was Dario Kordic telling me about the HDZ --
16 JUDGE ROBINSON: What page?
17 A. Excuse me? I'm sorry, sir. It is the fourth
18 last page --
19 MR. SAYERS: Page 34, Your Honour.
20 A. -- which says "Dario Kordic, 5 May" at the
22 Dundas-Whatley was extremely afraid, for some
23 reason or other, of Dario Kordic. He was extremely
24 deferential, and obviously, it was very difficult to
25 get an audience with Dario Kordic, which is why we had
1 to wait some one hour outside of his office to get the
2 meeting with him. As I said, he was extremely
3 deferential and respectful.
4 The first part of the meeting with Dario
5 Kordic, as reflected by the notes, indicates that we
6 discussed relatively, how do you say, issues which were
7 not controversial. He was explaining to me what the
8 HDZ is, what his relationship is with the HVO, and his
9 overall view about the politics of the region and the
10 status of Herceg-Bosna, in what I considered to be a
11 very sophisticated presentation, and it was only
12 towards the end that I brought up the issue of Ahmici
13 and the atrocities, and his response was such that it
14 was clear that the meeting was going to be a waste of
15 time, which is why it was terminated somewhat
16 prematurely, largely on his part, not on my part,
17 because he was the one who decided when it begins and
18 when it ends.
19 Q. Would it be fair to say that he threw you out
20 of his office?
21 A. Excuse me?
22 Q. Would it be fair to say that he threw you out
23 of his office?
24 A. I don't think he physically threw me out, but
25 I think that he expressed his irritation sufficiently
1 that I realised that I'm no longer welcome.
2 Q. He told you that, in his opinion, HVO
3 soldiers could not have been involved in the events at
4 Ahmici, didn't he?
5 A. Yes. To use his exact words, he said: "Our
6 soldiers are good Christians who would never commit
7 such acts."
8 Q. Did you see Mr. Kordic wearing a crucifix
9 that day, as was his custom?
10 A. I don't recall. I know he was wearing a
11 military uniform, but I don't remember the cross.
12 Q. When you say "a military uniform," sir, do
13 you mean just regular fatigues?
14 A. Camouflage pants and top.
15 Q. Did he have any rank insignia that you could
17 A. I don't recall.
18 Q. Is it my understanding that it was during the
19 course of this unpleasant, confrontational, 15-minute
20 exchange that this Croat politician told you that maybe
21 the events of Ahmici were the work of Serbs?
22 A. At first, he suggested they were Serbs, and
23 then he suggested they were the Muslims themselves.
24 Q. You didn't make notes of that, did you?
25 A. No, because I found not only his explanation
1 but also the demeanour on his face so mocking and
2 unreasonable that I didn't even bother. And anyway, it
3 was a standard explanation which I had been given also
4 by Colonel Blaskic. To me, the point was what is the
5 response of the Bosnian Croat authorities in the region
6 to these allegations, and all I needed to do for the
7 purposes of a report was to state what their
8 explanations were and whether, in our opinion, they
9 were reasonable or credible.
10 Q. Were you personally angry and irritated that
11 Mr. Kordic didn't treat you seriously?
12 A. Personally, I'm not sure if it was personal.
13 I think that I was clearly moved by what I'd seen in
14 Ahmici and environs, and I found his arrogance and
15 contempt disturbing, if that's the case, in addition to
16 some of the explanations that he was giving.
17 Q. The explanation that you were given, I think
18 you previously testified about this, but specifically
19 the explanation that Mr. Kordic gave you was a
20 relatively standard explanation, as you actually put in
21 your report of May the 19th, 1993, Exhibit Z942,
22 paragraph 12. On page 4, it says: "Leading Croat
23 political figures in the Lasva Valley region are
24 reported as constantly using the media as a means of
25 demonising other ethnic groups. Atrocities against
1 Muslims or Serbs are rarely, if ever, reported and are
2 usually blamed on Serb forces or an unknown group of
4 A. Which paragraph is that?
5 Q. Paragraph 12. It's one of your draft
6 reports, not your actual final report that was
7 introduced as --
8 A. Oh, I see. I don't have that here. Yes,
9 that is probably reflecting the explanations which they
10 had given us.
11 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Sayers, is it accepted that
12 Mr. Kordic gave that explanation?
13 MR. SAYERS: It is not, no. The explanation
14 that Mr. Kordic came up with was he did not mention
15 that Serbs were responsible for the incidents in
17 JUDGE MAY: Did he suggest that it may have
18 been the Muslims themselves?
19 MR. SAYERS: I believe that that is contested
20 as well, Your Honour.
21 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Akhavan, you've heard that
22 suggested, that Mr. Kordic did not give either
24 A. Yes, Your Honour.
25 JUDGE MAY: Did he do so?
1 A. Yes. I distinctly remember, Your Honour,
2 that when he consistently said that the HVO was not
3 capable of these atrocities or had not committed them,
4 then I pushed him to explain to me who, indeed, had, at
5 which point he suggested that possibly the Serbs may
6 have done it under the cover of night or that the
7 Muslims themselves may have done it to win some sort of
8 sympathy. I don't believe that he categorically
9 asserted that either the Serbs or Muslims have done it,
10 but he offered them as two possible explanations, based
11 on the assumption that the HVO could not possibly have
12 committed the crimes.
13 MR. SAYERS:
14 Q. Now, how long did the basic introductions
15 take, Mr. Akhavan, during this 15-minute interview that
16 you had with Mr. Kordic?
17 A. I suppose possibly half of the meeting. And
18 I'm not sure if the meeting was exactly 15 minutes, but
19 it was a short meeting, especially when we went beyond
20 the discussion of the HDZ and HVO and some of the
21 issues which Mr. Kordic enjoyed discussing about and we
22 got into the discussion of responsibility for the
23 atrocities in Ahmici.
24 Q. In your June 1995 statement, you said, quote,
25 and this is on page 4: "The entire meeting may have
1 lasted about 15 minutes." Is that correct?
2 A. Page --
3 Q. Page 4.
4 A. I'm sorry, page 4 of the --
5 Q. Your June the 23rd, 1995 --
6 A. Yes, it was a short meeting. I don't
7 remember exactly how long, but it was probably in that
9 Q. So about seven and a half minutes were spent
10 on the basic introductions?
11 A. Probably.
12 Q. Who was your interpreter?
13 A. I don't remember.
14 Q. Who was present at the meeting?
15 A. The interpreter, I believe Dundas-Whatley,
16 and I believe that there were also some soldiers, HVO
17 soldiers, which may have been present. I'm not sure if
18 they left the room. I believe they stayed in the room
19 during the meeting, three or four of them.
20 Q. All right. Could you just describe how the
21 remaining seven and a half minutes of the interview
22 proceeded after the introductions had been made?
23 A. Well, I think it was very straightforward. I
24 explained that my colleague and I, over the past
25 several days, had overwhelming evidence that the HVO
1 had been involved in killing large numbers of civilians
2 in Ahmici, in Vitez, in neighbouring villages, that
3 there was extensive destruction of property and so on
4 and so forth, some of which we had actually witnessed
5 ourselves, and that I was interested in knowing what he
6 had to say about this evidence, if he intended to do
7 anything about it. And I explained that the purpose of
8 the meeting was to offer him, as the most senior
9 official of Herceg-Bosna in the region, to give us his
10 side of the story, following which he began explaining
11 how the HVO soldiers could not possibly have done it
12 because of their exceptional moral standards and so on
13 and so forth, after which I repeated that all the
14 evidence indicated that HVO soldiers were responsible,
15 after which he gave the explanation that possibly the
16 Serbs or the Mujahedin or Muslims or others may have
17 done it themselves, after which I suggested to him that
18 that was not a satisfactory explanation. He, I recall,
19 smiled and said, "Well, I will try to persuade you with
20 another explanation," and at that point I basically
21 said, "Mr. Kordic, this is a waste of time. This is
22 not a credible explanation."
23 And I explained to him that he, as the most
24 senior figure in the region, must see to it that these
25 matters are fully investigated, with a view to
1 preventing them in the future, and that if we were not
2 to be given any alternate explanation or anything that
3 would persuade us otherwise, we would write in our
4 report that the HVO forces were indeed responsible and
5 we would wait and see whether the local authorities
6 would take any action for the purpose of making our
7 assessment of who is responsible. Not who is
8 responsible in an individual sense but who is
9 responsible in a global sense, which party to the
10 conflict is responsible.
11 At that point, the shouting and
12 finger-pointing on his part began, and I think I did a
13 reasonably good job of controlling my response, in part
14 because I had the feeling that I may even be taken out
15 and shot right there and then. So we ended the meeting
16 rather quickly. I don't think that I ever said
17 anything to him that was directly insulting or raised
18 my voice in a way that could be considered as
19 shouting. I think it was largely on his part. I
20 believe that was the end of the meeting.
21 Q. So within the first 15 minutes of your
22 meeting this leading political figure, you instructed
23 him that in your view, you did not find his
24 explanations credible?
25 A. Correct.
1 Q. In 15 minutes of first meeting the man, you
2 called him a liar, basically, didn't you?
3 A. "Liar" could be one word, but I think I simply
4 told him, for his sake, that if he wanted a fair
5 hearing, if he wanted a report which at least gave
6 their side of the story, that he should try to give me
7 a better explanation.
8 MR. SAYERS: That might be an appropriate
9 place to break, Your Honour.
10 I might say that we've made better progress
11 than I had anticipated today, so I would think that on
12 Thursday, I would not be more than 45 minutes with this
14 JUDGE MAY: Very well.
15 MR. NICE: The last witness, nothing to do
16 with Mr. Akhavan's evidence --
17 JUDGE MAY: All right. Mr. Akhavan, would
18 you be back, please, when you're informed.
19 THE WITNESS: Yes, Sir.
20 JUDGE MAY: Thank you. If you would like to
21 go now.
22 THE WITNESS: Thank you.
23 (The witness withdrew)
24 MR. NICE: I'm informed that the last witness
25 has been able to look at either originals or copies of
1 some of Dooley's diaries to suggest that the date of
2 the stopping of the convoy was the 28th of April. I'm
3 not intending to keep him here longer tomorrow to deal
4 with that. We know that the date can be further
5 verified by consideration of either The Sunday Times or
6 whatever it is for the following Sunday. So it may be
7 if that date is not contentious --
8 MR. STEIN: The date is not contentious, Your
9 Honour, may it please, but I would like to know if we
10 found the newspaper article that he made reference to.
11 MR. NICE: No, we certainly haven't found the
12 newspaper article yet, but I imagine that can be done
13 by us or, more probably, by others with easier access
14 to the internet.
15 JUDGE MAY: Very well.
16 Tomorrow morning. Half past nine, please.
17 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at
18 1.02 p.m., to be reconvened on
19 Wednesday, the 4th day of August,
20 1999, at 9.30 a.m.