1 Thursday, 5th August, 1999
2 (Open session)
3 (The accused entered court)
4 (The witness entered court)
5 --- Upon commencing at 9.33 a.m.
6 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning, Your Honours.
7 Case number IT-95-14/2-T, the Prosecutor versus Dario
8 Kordic and Mario Cerkez.
9 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Mr. Kovacic.
10 WITNESS: PAYAM AKHAVAN (Resumed)
11 Cross-examined by Mr. Kovacic:
12 Q. Good morning, Mr. Akhavan. I'm Bozidar
13 Kovacic, and with my colleague Mikulicic, I present the
14 defence of Mr. Mario Cerkez. I shall ask my questions
15 in Croatian, and will you, please, between you hearing
16 the end of the question and your answer, make a short
17 break just for the interpretation's sake, and if
18 there's anything that you do not understand about my
19 questions, please draw my attention to it.
20 During your testimony in chief, you said that
21 at some point you also visited Mr. Cerkez too. Is that
23 A. Correct.
24 Q. That was, if I understood you properly, after
25 your visit with Mr. Blaskic?
1 A. Correct.
2 Q. So if I am correct, it was on the 4th of May,
3 sometime around 1.00 p.m.
4 A. Correct.
5 Q. It was on the first floor of a building
6 called the cinema hall or the Workers' University? I
7 don't know if you've heard that term.
8 A. Yes, I remember the cinema.
9 Q. And it could be about 150 metres away from
10 the hotel where you had your meeting with Blaskic?
11 A. I don't remember but it sounds reasonable.
12 Q. Well, you can't remember because the whole
13 situation was very confused; isn't that correct?
14 A. I just don't remember what the proximity of
15 the two buildings was, but obviously they were very
16 close with each other.
17 Q. So you agree that they were very close?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Thank you. Before the meeting with Cerkez
20 were you explained his function, his duties, and who
21 was it that gave you that explanation?
22 A. I was told that Mr. Cerkez was the commander
23 of HVO forces in Vitez. I don't recall exactly who
24 told me that but it would have been a member of the
25 British Battalion. I believe, from my notes, I may
1 even have been told about -- yes. On the first page of
2 my handwritten notes. In the first day of the briefing
3 you can see the reference to Commander Mario Cerkez,
4 and I was probably told before the meeting sometime as
5 well the same information.
6 Q. Correct. Quite correct. And since you are
7 referring to your notes and since you looked up the
8 first page of your notes, would it then be correct to
9 say that these notes, and I believe you just said that
10 but I simply want to make sure, is it then correct to
11 say that the notes on the first page is what you were
12 told by others after you arrived in Vitez?
13 A. Yes. Before I had a chance to verify certain
14 matters with Mr. Cerkez.
15 Q. It means it was part of that briefing that
16 you mentioned?
17 A. Correct.
18 Q. So Sefkija Dzidic was mentioned then?
19 A. I'm trying to see what -- yes, yes.
20 Q. Page one?
21 A. The top of the page, correct.
22 Q. He was also referred to as the commander of
23 the local defence?
24 A. Correct.
25 Q. There was also mention of Mensur Klestura
1 also as a commander, evidently on the Muslim side; is
2 that correct?
3 A. Correct.
4 Q. And above Klestura's name, "325th Brigade of
5 the BH army"?
6 A. Correct.
7 Q. Evidently with his headquarters at Preocica
8 and here it is somehow related to the 3rd Corps.
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Then the second part below now concerns the
11 other side, the HVO?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Here we have mention of Tihomir Blaskic, and
14 with him you met subsequently and you ascertained that
15 he was not the commander. Will you please say "Yes"
16 or "No" because of the record?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. You were also told that the commander of the
19 Vitez HVO, and if I understand your notes, you put in
20 brackets "(town defence)"?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. And that that person was Mario Skopljak?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Then your note goes on about the Stjepan
25 Tomasevic Brigade as a joint Novi Travnik-Vitez
1 Brigade, the commander of which was Mario Cerkez?
2 First page. We're still on page 1.
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Then you have a note, a remark reading more
5 or less, it seems, that the joint Novi Travnik-Vitez
6 Brigade is about to become an autonomous brigade?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. In view of some documents and reports of the
9 British Battalion, did they tell you how positive were
10 they, how sure were they that that brigade -- or let me
11 try to be more accurate. What progress has been made
12 towards that transformation of the brigade? Did they
13 tell you that? How far had they got with their
14 transforming the brigade?
15 A. All I can recall is what I have in my notes
17 Q. Would it jog your memory if I said that
18 perhaps the name of the brigade was mentioned during
19 that briefing, that is, as the Vitez Brigade?
20 A. Yes. In response to your answer, I do recall
21 from my meeting with Mr. Cerkez that he referred to
22 himself as the commander of the Vitez Brigade.
23 Q. Did you ever, during those interviews or in
24 any other way, that is, on the basis of documents, from
25 documents, have you ever established the meaning of
1 that brigade name, the Vitez Brigade? What does it
2 mean, that name?
3 A. If you are referring to the area of command,
4 I believe it's dealt with, according to my notes once
5 again, the control of Vitez town and surrounding
6 villages. This, once again, is based on my meeting
7 with Mr. Cerkez, on page 32 of my handwritten notes.
8 Q. But would you agree with me or disagree with
9 me if I said that this particular name of the brigade,
10 in the Croatian language, is an adjective, and it is
11 indicative of the origin of the brigade, where it comes
13 A. I'm really not in a position to comment on
14 that. I can only refer back to what I was told by
15 Mr. Cerkez and the British Battalion.
16 Q. And you asked no particular questions about
17 that, did you?
18 A. About the meaning of the name of the
20 Q. Yes.
21 A. No, I did not.
22 Q. Thank you. Let us move on, but I'm still
23 with your notes. So Mr. Pero Skopljak was mentioned to
24 you as the commander of the town defence?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Then the same individual's name comes up
2 again on page 24 of your notes. I believe that the
3 pages are not marked identically. So just to see where
4 we are, it's the page which begins, it says, "Deputy"
5 something in the upper left corner. Here I see the
6 names of Nenad Santic, Zarko Kristo, and then we again
7 see Pero Skopljak, but now Pero Skopljak, and in
8 brackets -- no, sorry, below that, so beneath the name
9 of Skopljak, there is again a comment, "Leader of the
10 HVO municipality or the Vitez municipality"?
11 A. Correct.
12 Q. So Pero Skopljak is again mentioned here as
13 one of the HVO leaders associated with the area of
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Then on page 25, rather, the next page of
17 your notes, we seem to have a structure or, rather, an
18 organisational chart. I should like to ask you, this
19 note, on page 25, are these conclusions that you drew
20 after all those interviews that you had, where you're
21 now trying to make a kind of a chart of that picture
22 that was painted to you in various interviews, or is it
23 the product of something that you were told by one
25 A. I think it would have been more than the
1 product of what one person -- it would probably be the
2 information which was gathered through speaking to
3 several people, and as you see, the name of those in
4 positions of leadership appear in various parts of my
5 notes. So this is probably based on one meeting, but
6 you will see similar charts or indications elsewhere.
7 If I may just explain, I was interested not
8 in gathering specific names for the report, because the
9 report did not, as a rule, mention any names, nor was
10 it mandated to look at particular individuals, but I
11 wanted to know, generally speaking, who is who in the
12 region and to try and understand the situation better.
13 Q. I believe it's quite logical, and that is
14 what I would do if I were in your place. That is how I
15 read this, that it was simply a note for you, that you
16 just wanted to have a clear picture for yourself to
17 know who is who.
18 But what I should like to know, this seems to
19 be a kind of chain of command or something here,
20 although you, as investigator, were not particularly
21 concerned with that. I mean, that was not your mission
22 there. But, nevertheless, it seems to refer to a kind
23 of hierarchy, even in relation to Ahmici. There is no
24 brigade commander, the commander of the brigade,
25 rather, that is headquartered in Vitez. That is not
1 here; is that correct?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Thank you. Not to have to go back to your
4 notes, perhaps I might just, on page 32, here you were
5 evidently making notes about interviewing Mr. Cerkez;
6 is that so?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. I understand that this name in capital
9 letters above the name is the duty, is that it, above
10 the name?
11 A. I'm sorry. I did not understand the
13 Q. I shall repeat. Here, in the upper half of
14 the page, in your hand evidently, you wrote, "Commander
15 of the Vitez Brigade."
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Then you added a name above it in capital
18 letters, I presume, because it is so difficult to write
19 our names, and somebody must have helped you because of
20 the spelling, but I presume we are talking about the
21 meeting with Cerkez. We agree with that, don't we?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Now, if you remember, of course, we know that
24 six years have elapsed since, but would you remember
25 who was present at that meeting, or shall I perhaps try
1 to remind you? According to what you said and what we
2 heard, you were there; is that correct?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Then there was Cerkez; is that correct?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Also Matthew Dundas-Whatley was there?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. There was an interpreter?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. There was Osorio, Thomas Osorio?
11 A. He was not at that meeting.
12 Q. So Thomas was not at the meeting?
13 A. And there was one of the -- a soldier who was
14 with Mr. Cerkez who left after I requested that he
15 leave the room.
16 Q. And that was at the beginning of the meeting,
17 so when you arrived?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. There was also a soldier in Cerkez's office,
20 and in your earlier testimony, I don't want really to
21 go back to it, but you said, I believe you will agree,
22 that he was kind of a glum type or gloomy type, that he
23 had an Uzi, and that he was wearing a German uniform or
24 rather a uniform with German insignia; is that correct?
25 A. That is correct.
1 Q. Do you think that it was a German soldier?
2 A. I would doubt that it was a German soldier.
3 I know that there were a lot of surplus army uniforms
4 which the locals wore.
5 Q. Am I correct, I don't want to waste too much
6 time, but I believe in one of your two statements, I
7 believe you said that that particular soldier was a
8 mercenary, or perhaps I got things mixed up because you
9 have been testifying for quite some time now. Yes,
10 quite. That was what you told the investigators on the
11 25th of June, 1995.
12 Let me rephrase the question. I understand
13 that he looked, to you, like a mercenary, that is, his
14 appearance. I do not think that you are claiming here
15 that he was a mercenary; would that be correct?
16 A. Yes. I did not inquire who he was, but he
17 did not appear to be a regular soldier because of his
18 uniform and also because of the weapon that he had and
19 his general demeanour, but I did not inquire.
20 Q. From this whole team which was there, did it
21 never occur to you that he might be a security officer?
22 A. He could have been, but there were others in
23 the building who appeared to be regular HVO soldiers
24 who were probably security officers. I'm not sure what
25 he was doing there.
1 Q. Right. It doesn't really matter. But
2 whatever the case, you asked Cerkez to send him away
3 because you did not feel comfortable in his presence,
4 and Cerkez told him to leave the room; is that
6 A. Yes. He was pointing his machine gun at me,
7 so I suggested that we could have a better conversation
8 without him there.
9 Q. Incidentally, you also had some security
10 officers with you, weren't there? There were three of
11 them escorting you?
12 A. I believe it was only Dundas-Whatley in the
14 Q. You do not remember that there were three
15 British soldiers with big weapons who stayed in front
16 of the door, behind the door of the office?
17 A. I don't recall.
18 Q. Perhaps they stayed down there in the hall.
19 Perhaps I had the wrong information.
20 A. Usually from what I recall, the British
21 Battalion would deliver me to the door of the building
22 and I would only go into the office with
23 Dundas-Whatley. The other soldiers would usually stay
24 at the entrance of the building and not come to the
1 Q. But you are not quite sure if they were or if
2 they were not, if I'm reading this properly?
3 A. I can't say with certainty, but I don't
4 believe that that would have been the case.
5 Q. Well, be that as it may, during the interview
6 there were no security officers in the room. In the
7 room there were present only those people that we
8 mentioned awhile ago; is that correct?
9 A. Correct.
10 Q. Is it correct that Cerkez was quite willing
11 to talk to you and that he was cooperative?
12 A. Yes. On the whole, I would say yes.
13 Q. And is it then correct that sometime in the
14 course of that meeting, sometime halfway through that
15 meeting, you were also joined by the commander of the
16 BritBat, General Robert Stewart?
17 A. Yes. Colonel Stewart.
18 Q. Correct. Colonel. When Stewart arrived,
19 could you, as an observer -- did you think that Stewart
20 and Cerkez knew one another already and they were
21 talking to one another as fellow soldiers, as
23 A. Yes. They would seem to have known each
24 other quite well.
25 Q. Would that also hold true of Matthew
2 A. I don't recall. I suppose they knew each
3 other. It didn't really leave any impression on me.
4 But when Bob Stewart entered the room, I believe that
5 his relationship with Mario Cerkez suggested that they
6 knew each other well.
7 Q. When you began your meeting -- and it was
8 roughly along these lines so will you please only
9 confirm "Yes" or "No"? Of course, this is very
10 tentative, because I'm trying to cut it short. Oh, by
11 the way, did you ask for permission to tape the
12 interview, to tape the conversation?
13 A. No, I did not.
14 Q. So you were not taping that conversation,
15 were you?
16 A. No.
17 Q. Would you know if anyone else was recording
18 that conversation?
19 A. I don't remember anyone recording the
20 meeting, no.
21 Q. And nobody said that it was being recorded?
22 A. Nobody said, but it's possible that it could
23 have been recorded.
24 Q. Did it more or less go along these lines -- I
25 really don't want to go into details -- first you asked
1 some questions about the task, about the terms of
2 reference of the brigade?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. You asked Cerkez to confirm that he was
5 indeed the commander of the brigade?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Then Cerkez explained it to you, that it was
8 a recently-founded brigade, that it had not been
9 properly organised yet, and that it was still being
10 structured and organised; is that correct?
11 A. I don't recall him telling me that, meaning
12 to say I don't recall.
13 Q. Quite. Never mind. This was, anyway, the
14 introduction to the proper interview. You then asked
15 him whether he knew what had happened in Ahmici?
16 A. I recall that most of the interview had
17 focused on what had transpired in Vitez rather than
18 Ahmici, on the assumption that the area of authority of
19 Mr. Cerkez focused on Vitez, but I'm sure at some point
20 Ahmici was mentioned as well, but it was not the focus
21 of the discussion.
22 Q. Do you remember that in that conversation he
23 mentioned that according to information that he had
24 received subsequently, that there were soldiers wearing
25 black uniforms in parts of Vitez?
1 A. The only reference I have in my notes to HOS,
2 which I assume would be those who would be wearing
3 black uniforms, is on page 33, towards the bottom,
4 where Mr. Cerkez suggested that HOS was present during
5 the hostilities in Vitez, that there were no HOS in
6 Vitez but that they came from Zenica, that they were
7 mixed Muslim and Croats. Again, towards the end of our
8 meeting, we briefly discussed Ahmici, where he said
9 that the HVO was not responsible and where he suggested
10 that HOS was responsible. I don't recall him
11 mentioning specifically that people were wearing black
12 uniforms, he simply referred to HOS.
13 Q. Towards the bottom of that page, since we're
14 talking about it, you seem to have made a conclusion of
15 your own there. First, you said HOS again, and a
16 question mark. So you must have heard HOS mentioned
18 A. You mean mentioned before in the same
19 meeting? Yes. The reason I put the question mark was
20 not because I did not know what HOS was but because I,
21 in my own mind, questioned the explanation.
22 Q. At the earlier meeting or at briefings with
23 the British Battalion, did you hear mention of HOS?
24 A. HOS did not figure prominently in my notes in
25 terms of the briefings with the British Battalion. I
1 do remember from my own memory that it was clearly
2 mentioned on several occasions, and there is, I believe
3 on page 5, I'm not sure if this is from my briefing
4 from the British Battalion, towards the end of page 5:
5 "There were HOS troops in that area at the time but no
6 eyewitness accounts of their involvement."
7 Q. Okay.
8 A. But I think the question was whether HOS had
9 a very key role to play or a marginal role, and for
10 that reason most of my discussions with the British
11 Battalion focused on the HVO rather than HOS.
12 Q. I'm sure we will agree. We're back to 33
13 now, and that is after the talk with Cerkez, you noted
14 HOS and a question mark, which means that you still had
15 a question in your mind. That is my conclusion. Would
16 you agree with it?
17 A. I had a question in my mind whether it was
18 credible to say that HOS was responsible for Ahmici or
19 Vitez, for that matter.
20 Q. And below that you have written: "HVO did
21 not do it." That is the conclusion from the meeting
22 with Cerkez?
23 A. No. This is a description of what Mr. Cerkez
24 was telling me. It is not my conclusion.
25 Q. Okay. Thank you. At a point during the
1 meeting when Stewart was there, you discussed the list
2 of perpetrators, alleged perpetrators; is that
4 A. You mean the list of 18 individuals which my
5 colleague Thomas Osorio --
6 Q. Yes.
7 A. It was probably discussed at some point. I
8 recall it was discussed.
9 Q. Then towards the end of the meeting, you had
10 told Blaskic a little earlier, this time talking to
11 Cerkez, you said that he should, that it is his duty,
12 and apparently he was told this in the form of advice,
13 that he should conduct an investigation. That is
14 correct, isn't it?
15 A. Yes. This matter was discussed when
16 Colonel Stewart arrived, and it was mentioned by myself
17 but mainly by Colonel Stewart, and it was in the form
18 of advice.
19 Q. Thank you. Just to be quite sure, did that
20 mean an investigation at the level of the brigade, as I
21 would assume?
22 A. It meant an investigation with respect to the
23 subordinates of Mr. Cerkez, whoever those happened to
25 Q. So that was clearly implied, was it?
1 A. Yes, that he was responsible for the actions
2 of his subordinates, for those who were under his
4 Q. (In English) Right. So in other words, of
5 his unit?
6 A. Correct. His unit or others over which he
7 exercised authority.
8 Q. Thank you. Shall we go on to another area
9 now just to clear up a few points that have been
10 discussed? One further point in connection with that
11 interview, in your statement you said that Cerkez
12 seemed concerned to you.
13 A. I think he seemed concerned, especially when
14 Colonel Stewart arrived and began speaking about how
15 Cerkez bears a responsibility for ensuring that this
16 matter is investigated and dealt with effectively. I
17 think he visibly became nervous, and obviously the
18 whole tempo of the meeting changed after
19 Colonel Stewart arrived and after we began to discuss
20 this issue.
21 Q. Cerkez asked that Colonel Stewart give him
22 this list so that he might start the investigation,
23 didn't he?
24 A. The 4th of May, when I was meeting with
25 Cerkez, the list of 18 individuals was not available
1 yet. Actually, my colleague, Thomas Osorio, was in
2 Zenica on the same day, interviewing some of the
3 witnesses. So the list would not have been available
4 at that meeting.
5 Q. But do you remember that Cerkez said to you,
6 "Give me the names so that I can institute
8 A. I don't specifically remember that, but if
9 you're referring in relation to the 18 names, that
10 would not have been possible because there was no
11 discussion of that. It may be that Mr. Cerkez would
12 have said, "I don't remember," but it's plausible that
13 he said, "Let me know if you come up with any evidence
14 and I will look into it."
15 But our standard explanation was that we were
16 not there to investigate for the HVO or other
17 authorities, that was their own responsibility, and
18 there was no desire on our part to get into the
19 business of criminal investigations.
20 Q. I agree with you that, at the time, Colonel
21 Stewart didn't have this list of 18 names, as it was
22 compiled later, but he did say during the meeting that
23 they knew some names, and Cerkez said, "Well, give me
24 the names, since you think that I should carry out an
25 investigation, because this will be of assistance to
1 me." Mr. Stewart refused for security reasons, because
2 of the sources of information. Do you remember that?
3 Have I reminded you of that?
4 A. I don't remember it, but it's possible that
5 that was discussed.
6 Q. Let me put it in a different way. The
7 atmosphere at the meeting, was it a constructive
8 atmosphere or a hostile atmosphere, and in view of the
9 kind of atmosphere that prevailed, would you think that
10 something like that may have been said?
11 A. All I can tell you is that relative to my
12 meetings with others, such as Dario Kordic and Colonel
13 Blaskic, that the meeting with Cerkez was, by far, the
14 best. I think the atmosphere was generally favourable,
15 as much as it could be under the circumstances. I do
16 believe, as I said, when Colonel Stewart arrived, that
17 the level of tension or, if you like, the lack of ease,
18 certainly on the part of Mr. Cerkez, increased visibly,
19 but I don't think it was a hostile meeting. It was
20 more a case of Mr. Cerkez being perhaps intimidated by
21 what Colonel Stewart had to say.
22 Q. Tell me one more thing: When you were
23 leaving that meeting with Matthew Dundas-Whatley, who
24 was escorting you, did you perhaps exchange a few
25 thoughts or comments or the feeling that you had, that
1 you had acquired during the meeting?
2 A. I don't recall. It's possible.
3 Q. Never mind. I apologise. During your
4 examination-in-chief, on several occasions, you spoke
5 about Ahmici and Vitez, the events in Ahmici and in
6 Vitez, making some kind of a parallel comment, but
7 according to what you said, it would appear that you
8 focused on the investigation of the events in Ahmici.
9 Would it be true to say that the events in Vitez itself
10 were not in the focus of your attention?
11 A. No. I think that we looked at Vitez as
12 well. We, I think, spent a considerable amount of time
13 looking, for example, at the truck bomb that was used
14 in the Muslim quarters of the city and other such
15 incidents. But, yes, Ahmici, because it was so blatant
16 and extreme, was of greater interest to us.
17 Q. During your talks about Vitez as well, did
18 you gain an impression that Vitez was divided, first
19 into two zones, one under the control of the BH army
20 or, rather, the Territorial Defence, the part of the
21 city known as Mahala in Stari Vitez; is that correct?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. At the same time, that the Croats had control
24 over the other part of the city?
25 A. Yes. From what I recall, the Croats had
1 control over most of the city, and the Muslims were in
2 Mahala in Stari Vitez, which was more like a sort of a
3 defensive enclave surrounded by the Croats.
4 Q. Further on, in the course of your
5 investigation, did you learn that various forces
6 controlled various parts of the town, the part of the
7 town that was under the overall control of the Croats,
8 put it that way?
9 A. You mean to say that in the area that was
10 under the overall control of Croats, that there were
11 pockets controlled by Muslims?
12 Q. No, that there were pockets controlled by
13 various Croatian units, within the Croatian part of the
14 town, several different Croatian units.
15 A. You mean units belonging to different armed
16 forces or different units of the same armed forces?
17 Q. The first, the former.
18 A. I don't recall that. The impression which I
19 gathered was that the HVO/HDZ was very much in control,
20 at least of the areas under Croat authority, and that
21 the HOS and other paramilitaries were more like roaming
22 bands, rather than armed forces which actually
23 controlled a particular geographical area. That was
24 what I was led to believe also in my discussions with
25 the HVO military commanders, such as Mr. Blaskic and
1 Cerkez and also with Mr. Dario Kordic, and most of them
2 said that the HOS were not from Vitez at all, that they
3 were from Zenica. They were not a sort of local
5 MR. KOVACIC: It seems that there is no
6 translation for the clients in Croatian, but I'm
7 listening to the English in order to see when the
8 witness finishes.
9 JUDGE MAY: There is a problem apparently
10 with the translation.
11 MR. KOVACIC: There is translation in
12 Croatian now.
13 JUDGE MAY: It's coming now. Let us know if
14 there is a further problem.
15 MR. KOVACIC: (Interpretation)
16 Q. Mr. Akhavan, during your testimony, you said
17 that when you were in Ahmici, you saw three local Croat
18 soldiers looting in Ahmici.
19 A. Well, I cannot say they were Croat soldiers.
20 I've indicated earlier that, from the distance, it was
21 difficult to identify them. All I can say is that they
22 were wearing military uniforms, and from the fact that
23 that area was under Croat control and they didn't seem
24 to be operating under stealth or fear that they were
25 going to be captured, I assumed that they were Croats.
1 Q. Mr. Akhavan, would you agree with me, and you
2 spent quite some time there, that a uniform was not a
3 distinctive sign on the basis of which you could tell
4 who belonged to whom, at least not a reliable sign?
5 A. That's true. Military uniforms were readily
6 available, and most, if not all, men of military age
7 wore them. It would require being close enough to see
8 the patch on the shoulder to determine whether they
9 belonged to a particular army or not. That's why I've
10 not said in this particular case that the soldiers in
11 the village were necessarily HVO, for example, but I
12 assumed that they belonged to the local Croat
13 population. But then again, in view of the fact that
14 there was virtually universal mobilisation of men of
15 military age, most men of military age who wore
16 uniforms did belong to the regular armed forces, if you
17 like. That was the impression, in general, which we
19 Q. One or the other armed forces, if I may say,
20 that those soldiers belonged to one or other military
22 A. Yes. In view of the fact that the
23 paramilitary groups had relatively small numbers, in
24 most cases, the men would be members of the HVO, as
25 distinct from HOS or other irregular forces.
1 Q. Did you ever, during your investigations,
2 hear that Blaskic had issued an order to clear up the
3 area, including the removal of bodies, to protection of
4 what remained in the houses and the property? Did you
5 ever hear about that?
6 A. In Ahmici?
7 Q. Yes.
8 A. I don't recall that, but it would surprise me
9 because there really wasn't much left to protect,
10 except the Croat homes and Croat inhabitants, which
11 were maybe 20 per cent of the village's population.
12 Q. But there were some houses that were
13 partially damaged after all, so a part of the house
14 could be used, and there were things inside, regardless
15 of who they belonged to.
16 A. I did not hear that such an order was issued,
17 but it's possible that it was.
18 Q. According to our information, on the 27th of
19 April, there was an important platoon of civil defence
20 there who carried out the clearing up of the area,
21 checking dead bodies, property, putting out fires, and
22 so on. No one informed you about that?
23 A. No one informed me, and what we saw in the
24 village didn't seem to suggest that that was the case.
25 The British Battalion said that they had collected
1 almost all of the bodies to take them to the morgue in
2 Zenica, and we ourselves recall that clearly there were
3 still bodies in the village. So it didn't seem as if
4 much of a cleanup had been done when we arrived there
5 on the 1st of May.
6 Q. Did you perhaps hear that on the 28th of
7 April, the bodies that were found in Ahmici were taken
8 to Vitez to be buried? Because you only found some
9 bodies. The casualties were higher, according to the
10 information we have.
11 A. I know the padre of the British Battalion did
12 say that some bodies were buried in Vitez. It wasn't
13 clear how many of those bodies were from Vitez, how
14 many were from Ahmici.
15 Q. Thank you. Never mind. That question has
16 already been put to you.
17 Mr. Akhavan, would you agree that the term
18 "HVO," when you were talking to members of the British
19 Battalion, that this was a general term used for a
20 Croatian organisation or an organisation belonging to
21 the Croats of Bosnia?
22 A. It referred, as far as I recall, to the
23 Croatian Defence Council, which was a distinct army or
24 armed forces and which was closely related to or
25 virtually inseparable from the HDZ political party.
1 Q. But you also learnt in Bosnia what the
2 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna was, the so-called
3 HZ HB?
4 A. Correct.
5 Q. And did you also learn that the HVO was the
6 executive branch of authority of the HZ HB?
7 A. Yes. In theoretical terms, our impression
8 was that the distinction between the Croatian Community
9 of Herceg-Bosna, the HDZ, and the HVO were quite
11 Q. Did you manage, from any sources, to learn
12 that the HVO, as the executive branch of government,
13 consists of two components, the military and the
14 civilian, regardless of the purity of that or the
15 perfection or imperfection of such a division?
16 A. Yes. We were told that there was a military
17 and civilian component.
18 Q. Mr. Akhavan, this list of 18 names that you
19 mentioned, do you know where that list ended up in the
21 A. The list was given to the commission of
22 experts established by Security Council Resolution 780
23 in Geneva. We did not give the list to anybody because
24 as I explained earlier, we believed it would be beyond
25 our mandate to do so, and we may even have been
1 reprimanded by the Special Rapporteur for engaging in
2 investigations which didn't specifically concern our
3 mandate. So we, as a courtesy, took down the names and
4 statements and give them to the commission of experts,
5 and at that point we were no longer involved in that
6 specific question of how the commission chose to use
7 the names.
8 Q. But while you were there on the ground, you
9 certainly didn't give it to the British Battalion as a
10 return information to the briefing that they gave you
11 at the beginning?
12 A. I don't believe so, no.
13 Q. In view of the fact that it was highly
14 sensitive, as you said, so you felt that you could only
15 give it upwards in the hierarchy to the superiors.
16 That is how I understand what you are saying, that you
17 didn't give it to anyone else.
18 A. My colleague, Thomas Osorio, would know best
19 how the information was used, but I think as a matter
20 of protocol, if you like, that we ourselves did not
21 volunteer to share the information without having first
22 discussed it with Geneva.
23 Q. Apropos Mr. Thomas Osorio, whom we mentioned
24 at least a hundred times, do you know where he is
1 JUDGE MAY: You needn't answer that
2 question. You need not say where he is. You can tell
3 us if you know where he is.
4 A. Yes, I do know where he is.
5 JUDGE MAY: And he's working, is he, as far
6 as you know?
7 A. He's working.
8 JUDGE MAY: Very well. If you need to know
9 anything else you will have to ask about it,
10 Mr. Kovacic. You can ask the Prosecution.
11 MR. KOVACIC: I didn't have any particular
12 plan. I was just trying to investigate. Possibly I
13 can find him as a witness.
14 JUDGE MAY: Well, ask the Prosecution about
16 MR. KOVACIC: Thank you, sir.
17 Q. Yesterday, during the cross-examination by my
18 colleague, mention was made of two arrested soldiers
19 belonging to the BH army, that apparently they were
20 arrested by the HVO army, and that this could have been
21 one of the factors contributing to the tension. Do you
22 recall what I'm referring to?
23 A. Yes, I recall.
24 Q. Then just a very short question. Do you
25 remember or, rather, did you hear anything in relation
1 to this incident, that those soldiers were arrested not
2 far, rather beyond that intersection to Travnik, which
3 is not in the area of Vitez?
4 A. All I have to go by are my notes. You're
5 referring to the soldiers belonging to the Bosnian
7 Q. Yes. The incident was explained yesterday.
8 All I want to know is whether you're aware that it
9 wasn't in the Vitez territory, that it was outside the
10 territory of Vitez.
11 A. That sounds reasonable, but I don't remember
12 exactly. I believe that the abductions took place
13 mainly on the roads leading to and from Vitez to Zenica
14 and Travnik, and not necessarily that the abductions
15 took place in Vitez itself.
16 Q. Thank you. Mr. Akhavan, you did not talk to
17 Sefkija Dzidic, the local commander of the army of
18 Bosnia-Herzegovina in Vitez, I mean, during your stay
19 there. Am I correct in saying that?
20 A. I believe, as I mentioned earlier, that we
21 may have met him briefly, but that we did not have --
22 Q. But you didn't really have any proper
23 conversation? You did not talk to him?
24 A. I don't believe so. The only name that I
25 have in my notes is Mehmed Alagic, who we did speak to
2 Q. And the odds are against me but I still have
3 to ask: Did you hear if those officers who had been
4 arrested that day, that they were also released that
5 same evening? Were you told that by anyone?
6 A. I'm sorry, officers of the Bosnian army who
7 had been --
8 Q. Yes, soldiers, soldiers. I apologise. The
9 ABiH soldiers, the ones that you mentioned who had been
10 captured. Did anyone mention they had been released?
11 Were you told that?
12 A. I recall, possibly at the ECMM house that was
13 across from the British Battalion base, that they were
14 shuttling back and forth some officials of the Bosnian
15 army. I recall something to that effect, and it might
16 have been part of an exchange. I vaguely recall.
17 Q. Thank you. And just one more question. At
18 some point you said that the British Battalion units,
19 rather, the British Battalion, in point of fact wasn't
20 really competent to conduct an investigation, and you
21 implied that it was not equipped properly for that or
22 organised for that kind of thing; is that correct?
23 A. I'm not sure if I referred to their
24 competence, which could have been one factor, but it
25 was more a question of what their mandate was. They
1 had their hands quite full trying to act as
2 peacekeepers between the two sides, regularly
3 monitoring a very wide area with difficult terrain. So
4 my impression is that that was not their mandate.
5 I don't know whether they had on staff
6 lawyers or advisors who were experts in the laws of war
7 or humanitarian law. I don't believe that was the
9 Q. At the same time, you and Mr. Osorio, when
10 you arrived there, you also did not have any experts
11 along with you, people specialising in individual
12 areas? You didn't have anyone with you. The two of
13 you were on your own, weren't you?
14 A. Well, I had, I believe, the sufficient legal
15 expertise. That was my role in the mission.
16 Mr. Osorio knew the language and had considerable
17 knowledge of the culture and peculiarities of the
18 region, and we were assisted in military matters by
19 members of the British Battalion who could describe to
20 us, for example, how an attack may have taken place,
21 what sort of weapons were used. So it was the
22 combination of that expertise that we used.
23 Q. Yes. Of course. That is quite clear.
24 Perhaps my question was not precise enough. In
25 addition to all that knowledge that you were in
1 position of, or Mr. Osorio, or the British Batallion,
2 there were no other specialists, I mean, such as
3 psychologists or forensic experts and the like?
4 A. No, not specifically as part of our
6 MR. KOVACIC: Thank you very much, witness.
7 Your Honours, I think I'm concluded with this. Thank
9 MR. NICE: Could I have a private session for
10 literally 30 seconds and then I'll deal with my
12 (Private session)
3 (Open session)
4 JUDGE MAY: Before you re-examine, in fact,
5 there is one matter which I ought to raise with
6 Mr. Kovacic, if I may.
7 Mr. Kovacic, you haven't challenged the
8 witness's account of the conversation with Mr. Cerkez,
9 his conversation. Is it accepted that Mr. Cerkez, in
10 the conversation, said he was asleep on the morning of
11 the 16th, that there was chaos in the Vitez area, and
12 he did not deny that the atrocities had taken place?
13 Is it accepted that he said that?
14 MR. KOVACIC: Yes, Your Honour. That was the
15 part which was testified on the beginning and I didn't
16 confront it. I was just trying to add some other
17 elements of that discussion.
18 JUDGE MAY: Yes. I understand that. Thank
20 Re-examined by Mr. Nice:
21 Q. Mr. Akhavan, I've got a few or quite a number
22 of points to raise with you. First, you've been asked
23 about your age, and your experience, and one thing and
24 another. Getting the job with the United Nations, how
25 did that come about? How easy was it to get that job?
1 A. I was previously a member of two missions of
2 the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe,
3 the last of which -- the first of which included among
4 its members Ambassador Hans Corell of Sweden, who is
5 presently the legal counsel to the Secretary-General of
6 the United Nations. The second of which was under the
7 leadership of the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.
8 Commission on Human Rights.
9 Based on that experience and based on
10 publications and other research and expertise which I
11 had gained in the field of international human rights
12 law, the United Nations Centre for Human Rights hired
14 Q. Did they seek you out or did you seek the
16 A. I think it was more by word of mouth that
17 these sort of things would take place.
18 Q. You speak of publications. What have you
20 A. To date I have approximately 20 publications,
21 25 publications in various journals dealing with human
22 rights and humanitarian law issues.
23 Q. And your formal qualifications, because we
24 didn't bother with these, tell us what they are?
25 A. My formal qualifications, yes. My formal
1 qualifications is I have obtained a bachelor's of Law
2 at Osgoode Hall law school in Toronto, a Masters of Law
3 at Harvard law school, and I was recently appointed a
4 visiting faculty at Yale law school in the United
6 Q. You teach there from time to time?
7 A. Correct.
8 Q. Another point was raised about your age and
9 the suggestion of your involvement in this case, I
10 think, but just tell us, within the United Nations
11 professional band, known as the P-band, what grade do
12 you hold?
13 A. At present I hold a level of P-4.
14 Q. Which is one from the top, which is P-5?
15 A. Correct.
16 Q. Tell us what age you were when you made P-4,
17 so that others opposite can match it to their own
18 experience. When did you get a P-4?
19 A. Last year. So it would have been at the age
20 of 32.
21 Q. Is that something easy to achieve in the
22 United Nations and regularly achieved or is that an
23 exception? You can be immodest, because you have to be
24 because I'm asking you the questions.
25 A. My impression is that usually that is not the
2 Q. Typically, P-4's are people like co-counsel
3 in the case?
4 A. Correct.
5 Q. Like my colleagues who are Prosecuting this
7 A. Correct.
8 Q. In any case, I gather that there is no
9 complaint or suggestion of bad faith or anything like
10 that, so I needn't take those matters further.
11 Let's deal with some matters of detail
12 first. Can the witness please have Exhibit D25/1 in
13 front of him? Perhaps it can be put on the ELMO so the
14 point can be made clear.
15 Do you remember this document being put to
16 you by Mr. Sayers?
17 A. I believe so, yes.
18 Q. So we can see the context in which the
19 question was asked, in the first paragraph in relation
20 to Zenica's prison, you were asked about one sentence.
21 You were asked about the third sentence down, where it
22 says: "They are well-treated, considering the
23 situation. About 30 showed signs of brutality." What
24 you weren't read out was the following sentence:
25 "After free discussions, it was learnt that they were
1 not mistreated and those that had been harmed were so
2 during their transportation to prison."
3 Do you know anything about that one way or
4 the other?
5 A. No. As I had mentioned earlier, we were
6 aware that there were tensions in Zenica and we were
7 aware that a certain number of Croats had been
8 imprisoned, but our impression was that there was no --
9 I shouldn't say "no" -- but there were relatively few
10 allegations of serious mistreatment, such as arbitrary
11 executions or torture or the like.
12 Q. Thank you very much. That's all with that
14 You were asked about fighting in a built-up
15 area, and you were asked about that in relation to
16 Vitez. Do you remember that question from Mr. Sayers?
17 A. I'm not sure exactly, fighting in a built-up
19 Q. That's a doctrine, a military doctrine, or
21 A. I see. Yes.
22 Q. You were asked about something that was said
23 by a witness called Gough. You may not remember it.
24 It was a long time ago.
25 A. I believe I recall, even from my notes,
1 having written down the initials of that military
3 Q. We better see if we can find it. Which notes
4 are these, your own handwritten notes?
5 A. Yes. I could be mistaken.
6 Q. I'm not sure they are there. They may be.
7 Take your time.
8 A. I believe somewhere there were the initials
9 "FBDE" or something to that effect.
10 Q. I can tell you that your answer to
11 Mr. Sayers' question "Do you know what FIBUA style is?"
12 was that "No, I don't." That was your answer at the
14 A. Yes. I did not remember what it stood for.
15 It could be, now that you refresh my memory, that I
16 realise what it referred to.
17 Q. In any event, you were shown or you were read
18 out one sentence from a statement --
19 MR. NICE: Your Honour, I haven't got the
20 whole statement, I don't want it to be produced as an
21 exhibit, but perhaps if this sheet can be placed on the
22 ELMO, we can all follow it. I am afraid there's one
23 bit of marking on it of mine, but that can be
25 Q. This is part of a statement of a witness
1 called Gough, and you may remember this, Mr. Akhavan,
2 if you look at the paragraph being shown there. I'm
3 going to read it slowly because the interpreters, my
4 oversight, have not been provided with a copy.
5 "On the morning of the 16th of April, I was
6 on patrol with the platoon commanders, call sign R10.
7 We were in separate Warriors. We went into the Muslim
8 area of Vitez, around the area of the racetrack,
9 approximately at grid reference ... We could see the
10 HVO going from house to house in FIBUA style."
11 I pause there, Mr. Akhavan. We've been told
12 that that is "fighting in a built-up area," and it
13 relates to what soldiers do, may be seen to do when
14 they are fighting in built-up areas where they might
15 meet resistance and where they have to go into houses
16 and confront potentially armed men.
17 A. Correct. I think I have in my notes some
18 statements by British Battalion members who actually
19 observed HVO soldiers engaged in this style of combat.
20 Q. That's right. Now I want you to read on to
21 what is actually said about Vitez and see if you agree
22 with it from your investigation.
23 A. Following after "FIBUA style"?
24 Q. Yes, and I'll read it to you.
25 "The largest group of HVO I saw was around
1 six. They were going from house to house, clearing
2 them of the Muslims. I only saw the odd Muslim
3 civilian, very likely armed, offering any kind of
4 resistance. I remember some children being moved from
5 a window and then on to another house. All around this
6 vicinity houses were burning and the civilians being forced
7 out. I remember a couple of mortar rounds falling in
8 the area of the racetrack. We were in this area for
9 some time. The HVO were in green combat fatigues with
10 chest-rig webbing on. I didn't see any helmets. They
11 were wearing a coloured rag on one shoulder as a form
12 of unit identification. I cannot remember the colour.
13 I remember that one or two of the HVO soldiers had
14 covered their faces with a bandanna-type piece of
15 cloth. Some of the HVO soldiers were also dressed in
16 black overalls. My overall impression was that the HVO
17 were trying to clear the Muslim population from that
18 area of the town."
19 Now, does that passage, read in context, fit
20 with your observations and researches or not, or do you
21 have no comment to make?
22 A. Yes, it does fit into the descriptions which
23 I'd received during my visits to the area, and I draw
24 your attention to page 5 of my handwritten notes,
25 somewhere towards the end, the fourth point being "HVO
1 troops going house to house, shooting at BiH forces,
2 some houses burning," and I believe somewhere else in
3 my notes, I have something similar. But this concept
4 of FIBUA style or going from house to house is very
5 much what I recall being told by members of the British
6 Battalion that I interviewed.
7 Q. And doing so, but with the purpose of
8 clearing the Muslims out?
9 A. Correct. The impression which I gathered was
10 that much of the fighting was with the aim of removing
11 Muslims, mostly civilians, and that the actual
12 resistance offered by the Bosnian army was relatively
13 insignificant, compared to the amount of force that was
14 used. I have in my notes also that in many cases,
15 grenades were being thrown into homes with a view to
16 removing civilians. I could also find those particular
17 notes, I would need some time, but I do recall that I
18 was told specifically that grenades were being thrown
19 into homes where civilians were present.
20 Q. If the suggestion is made, as it effectively
21 has been, that the fighting in built-up areas technique
22 to deal with resisting armed defenders explains what
23 happened in Ahmici, that is to say, that there were
24 armed defenders who had to be fought, what would you
25 say to that?
1 A. My impression, once again, is that in Ahmici,
2 the military presence was quite insignificant. My
3 recollection is that this was even admitted by Colonel
4 Blaskic in my discussions with him, once again as
5 reflected in my notes. Those who were killed in Ahmici
6 were overwhelmingly civilians. They included elderly,
7 they included women, they included children. The
8 physical destruction clearly indicated an
9 all-encompassing attack. All livestock was killed.
10 All homes, almost without exception, belonging to the
11 Muslims had been burnt. In many cases, they were
12 clearly burnt using petrol. It was clear that there
13 was a deliberate attempt to destroy them.
14 That, to me, indicated that this was
15 predominantly an attack on the civilian population of
16 the village and had very little to do with FIBUA style
17 or any other sort of legitimate or ordinary military
19 Q. Thank you. Military conclusions, insofar as
20 you drew them from your report, were based on what?
21 A. Well, military conclusions were based largely
22 on the expert advice of members of the British
23 Battalion, on occasion, on representatives of the ECMM,
24 but I believe that the military analysis of the
25 situation was only tangentially relevant to us in the
1 preparation of our reports. Whether the Muslims had
2 provoked the hostilities or whether the Croats had
3 provoked the hostilities was quite irrelevant to the
4 focus of our investigation, which was violations of
5 humanitarian law.
6 All sorts of tricks and strategies and
7 tactics were used between the two sides in their
8 conflicts with one another, but the fact remains that
9 we had in Ahmici and in other areas attacks which
10 demonstrated clearly an attempt to eradicate virtually
11 the entire civilian population, and that, to us, was
12 the essential focus of our mandate, to investigate
13 human rights abuses, violations of humanitarian law.
14 The military context often would help us
15 understand how a situation may have escalated to the
16 point where civilians were slaughtered, where civilian
17 property was destroyed, but strictly speaking, we were
18 not there as military experts, we were not there as
19 part of a peacekeeping mission, we were not there as
20 intelligence officers to try and make sophisticated
21 analyses of the military situation.
22 Q. Bodies piled up opposite the cemetery has
23 been raised as a topic. What's the totality but in
24 absolute summary, a couple of sentences, of what you
25 knew from sources about that?
1 A. In that particular location, across from the
2 Catholic cemetery, what I knew was that the British
3 Battalion had recovered approximately 20 bodies. The
4 bodies were mainly, if not exclusively, that of people
5 in civilian clothes, including women, elderly,
6 children. Many had been shot in the head or the neck,
7 according to the members of the British Battalion.
8 Q. When were they piled up or lined up opposite
9 the cemetery, to your knowledge?
10 A. It could have been on the afternoon of the
11 16th of April, but most probably a day or two after --
12 Q. Thank you.
13 A. -- when it was safe enough for the British
14 Battalion to collect the bodies.
15 Q. The truck bomb, in a sentence, what was your
16 view on that? Because you may not have written about
17 it in detail.
18 A. Yes. The truck bomb is reflected in my
19 handwritten notes, as well as the report which we
20 eventually submitted to the Human Rights Commission.
21 It was very clear, from seeing that region of Vitez,
22 that there was a massive explosion involving extensive
23 damage. We were told that the truck was filled with
24 explosives and that a local Muslim was handcuffed to
25 the steering wheel of the truck and the truck was
1 forced into that region of the city, where it was
3 What we did see clearly is that there had
4 been a massive explosion. Since it was not a war in
5 which there were aerial bombardment or other means of
6 delivering that sort of explosion, the explanation
7 seemed credible enough.
8 Q. The list of 18 names, is it available now
9 and, if so, by what means?
10 A. I believe it should be in the files of the
11 Commission of Experts established by the Security
13 Q. Is that the only place where it's to be
15 A. To the best of my knowledge, I'm not sure
16 whether it has found its way into the investigative
17 files of the Prosecutor's office. This, I'm not sure
18 about, since I've not been involved in the
19 investigation --
20 Q. Have you had any involvement in this case?
21 A. In the present case?
22 Q. Yes.
23 A. I've not been involved in any investigative
24 matters. My only involvement was in the Blaskic case
25 on two purely abstract, legal questions, one involving
1 the mens rea of command responsibility, the other
2 involving the powers of the Tribunal to issue binding
3 orders to the Republic of Croatia, but nothing related
4 to the specific facts of the case.
5 Q. We've put to you that part of the Blaskic
6 defence, that is, part of Blaskic's evidence, is
7 correct in relation to matters of which you give
8 evidence, and therefore I want to ask you this, and it
9 may be that the break comes -- if it does come -- comes
10 at a potentially convenient time: Were you aware at
11 the time of your investigation of any other
12 investigation being made and, in particular, of any
13 investigation being made by the HVO?
14 A. No. We were not aware of any such
15 investigations, and I assume that Messrs. Kordic,
16 Blaskic, Cerkez had every opportunity to inform us
17 during the meeting whether there was such an
18 investigation, and, indeed, we would have been very
19 happy to hear from them that they were taking this
20 matter seriously, nor are we aware of any
21 investigations which took place subsequently.
22 Q. Does the name "Anto Sliskovic" mean anything
23 to you?
24 A. No, I don't recall that name.
25 MR. NICE: Your Honour, I have a few more
1 questions of this witness, but only a few.
2 JUDGE MAY: It may be convenient if you can
3 finish, or do you want some time?
4 MR. NICE: What I was going to propose was --
5 because I don't propose to produce as an exhibit a
6 document of which I can say nothing, save that it was
7 produced in another case -- but it may be that if we
8 were to take a break and Mr. Akhavan was able to have
9 an opportunity to read an unmarked copy of that
10 document, then I could ask him for some comments on
11 particular passages of it after the break.
12 JUDGE MAY: Very well. We will adjourn now.
13 Half past eleven.
14 --- Recess taken at 11.02 a.m.
15 --- On resuming at 11.35 a.m.
16 MR. NICE:
17 Q. Mr. Akhavan, you've now read the document
18 that was handed to you?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. I have a few questions to ask about specific
21 passages, but just tell me first, have you seen this
22 document before?
23 A. No, I have not.
24 Q. Have you heard of its existence before?
25 A. No, I had not.
1 Q. Do you have any comments that you want to
2 make in relation to the covering letter from a man
3 called Sliskovic?
4 A. The covering letter --
5 Q. If you do, I'll place the -- or I'll have the
6 usher place a copy of that on the ELMO.
7 MR. NICE: There are, of course, copies
8 available to the Court but I make it plain, I don't
9 want to produce it as an exhibit for obvious reasons.
10 So if the Court would prefer to have copies to handle,
11 then they can be made available on whatever basis they
13 JUDGE MAY: Well, let's start by putting it
14 on the ELMO.
15 A. I'm wondering, first of all, whether this is
16 indeed the same document that was shown to me by the
17 Defence. I recall a similar document.
18 MR. NICE:
19 Q. No, this hasn't been shown to you by the
20 Defence. This is an entirely different document,
21 produced in another case, but I simply want your
22 comments on it. The first sheet is the covering
23 letter --
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. -- with the date 25th of May, 1993, headed,
1 "The Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatian
2 Community, Croatian Defence Council," signed or typed
3 at the bottom "Sliskovic", but the original is signed.
4 What comment do you have to make about this?
5 A. I have a couple of comments. First of all, I
6 find it surprising that this document is a military
7 secret that is strictly confidential. Nothing
8 contained in this document would appear to me to be a
9 military secret of any sort and, if anything, I think
10 that the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna could have
11 gained considerable propaganda value from making this
12 document public and it surprises me.
13 Q. The secret passage is cut off from -- could
14 you move the document down a bit, please? Move it down
15 a bit or up. Yes. Anything else on the covering
17 A. The other -- where it says that: "It was
18 impossible to obtain statements of the persons of
19 Muslim nationality who have fled to the areas of Zenica
20 and Travnik," that may be true but there were a
21 significant number of Muslims who were actually being
22 detained by the HVO in various places under their
23 control. So I think it is incredulous to say that they
24 did not have access to statements of the persons of
25 Muslim nationality. Those would be two.
1 Q. Thank you. Second sheet, please. I have
2 some questions on this but you may first of all have
3 your own comments. I don't know if you do.
4 A. Not specifically with respect to this page,
5 but --
6 Q. Could you, therefore, turn your attention to
7 the bottom of the page, if the usher would be so good?
8 Thank you very much.
9 The paragraphs beginning: "However, the ABiH
10 leadership, especially the leadership of the 3rd Corps
11 and its more extreme part, the 7th Muslim Brigade, kept
12 on insisting on its thesis of taking full control of
13 these areas. This time, they resorted to more subtle
14 methods. Among other things, they brought in the
15 extreme part of the refugee population from the areas
16 of Jajce, Kotor Varos, Kljuc, Prijedor and other towns,
17 thus achieving the effect of outnumbering the rest of
18 the population, causing there ..."
19 Did you have evidence to support, match, or
20 counter that, or was it outside the area of your
22 A. We did know there were a number of Muslim
23 refugees from other parts of Bosnia, some of whom had
24 come to stay with friends or relatives in Ahmici, and
25 we were told that the Bosnian Croat leadership was
1 concerned that this influx of Muslim refugees would
2 upset the ethnic balance and, of course, this occurred
3 in the context of the Vance-Owen Plan demarcating this
4 canton as a Croat canton. So demographics was always a
5 very sensitive issue. But this idea that the
6 7th Muslim Brigade had deliberately selected extremist
7 refugees, I find that hard to believe.
8 Q. Did you have any evidence of that yourself?
9 A. None whatsoever. I don't even know how one
10 selects extremist refugees. People either are refugees
11 or they're not. When you have several hundred men,
12 women, children, families as refugees, I don't know how
13 one could characterise them as extremists.
14 Q. Apparently I misread the passage and left out
15 the word "Muslim" before "refugee". Can it be noted?
16 The next sentence reads --
17 JUDGE BENNOUNA: (Interpretation) Excuse me,
18 Mr. Nice. I should like to know what is the origin of
19 this document, because you're showing us documents
20 without introducing them. We can't work like that. We
21 have to know where that document comes from. You must
22 introduce the document to the Chamber so that they can
24 Will you tell us where it comes from? What
25 is its origin? When was it produced? Could you please
1 first inform us before putting questions to the witness
2 about it?
3 MR. NICE: I explained it yesterday, and it
4 is essential that this matter can be dealt with because
5 of the conduct of the Defence. The Defence are plainly
6 adopting Blaskic. It may well that they're going to be
7 calling Blaskic, because they could hardly be adopting
8 his evidence to put it to a witness unless they had
9 seen him, proofed him, and had that in mind as a
10 possibility. There would be no other grounds for their
11 preferring his evidence over someone else's.
12 This document was introduced, as I explained
13 yesterday, at a late stage, without a witness producing
14 it in the Blaskic case. It is the only other known
15 alleged contemporaneous report relating to Ahmici.
16 THE INTERPRETER: We ask Mr. Nice to slow
17 down, please.
18 MR. NICE: -- that if the Defence were to
19 rely on this document, then they should have put its
20 contents to this witness. Indeed Judge Robinson, I
21 think via the Presiding Judge, made the point that I
22 could deal with it in re-examination. Because the
23 Defence hadn't put it, and because it may very well
24 arise as something to be dealt with in --
25 THE INTERPRETER: Could Mr. Nice slow down,
2 JUDGE MAY: Could you slow down?
3 MR. NICE: Certainly.
4 JUDGE BENNOUNA: (Interpretation) Very well,
5 but regarding this document, we can see on the ELMO the
6 first part of the document. What is this document? It
7 doesn't matter what the Defence has done, but the Trial
8 Chamber has to know what this document is. It was
9 produced in Blaskic, but what is it?
10 MR. NICE: The document in the Blaskic
11 defence, which introduced it, is said to be a report
12 prepared by Sliskovic in May 1993 on the Ahmici events,
13 and it has the covering letter, and I think in the
14 English translation three sheets, in the original it
15 is, of course, in the Croatian language, and again with
16 a covering letter and three sheets.
17 It was introduced in Blaskic. I'm not sure
18 how it was introduced. I think without any witness it
19 was placed in as a document and is no doubt being
20 considered by the Chamber in that case.
21 JUDGE BENNOUNA: (Interpretation) But we see
22 "military secret", but what army is it? I'm still not
23 satisfied by this manner of presenting documents. I'm
24 sorry. I don't think you can do it that way.
25 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Nice, let us try and resolve
1 the position in this way: This is not a document on
2 which you rely. What would you say about it in
3 argument? Is it a truthful document?
4 MR. NICE: At the moment, the document,
5 having come relatively recently into the possession of
6 this team of Prosecutors, as indeed into the team of
7 those prosecuting in Blaskic, is a document that cries
8 out for further inquiries, maybe inquiries of the state
9 concerned, but at this stage, my duty is to forecast
10 what may be raised and what reasonably may be raised by
11 way of Defence arguments that should have been and
12 could be put to this witness, and to ask his comments
13 on them.
14 The Chamber is particularly assisted in this
15 way of dealing with things, because Mr. Akhavan, who
16 is, of course, an -- he is not an expert, in one sense,
17 but he's very nearly an expert, he's an on-the-ground
18 investigator and the only one, apart from his
19 colleague, of whom we know, and the Chamber has the
20 opportunity of seeing him come fresh to this document
21 and give his observations on certain passages of it.
22 This, I think, was forecast by your
23 colleague, Judge Robinson, yesterday as the appropriate
24 way of dealing with the problem.
25 JUDGE MAY: I think we're getting the cart
1 before the horse. This is the problem. We haven't got
2 the document in. Somebody is being asked to comment on
4 Perhaps it may be simpler if we deal with the
5 matter in this way, and I turn to the Defence: Is
6 anybody going to rely on this document before we go
7 into it --
8 MR. STEIN: The answer is no, from our side,
9 from the Kordic perspective. Indeed, although Mr. Nice
10 has done a nice job of setting up something so he can
11 use the back door to get something else in and use this
12 witness to comment, the truth is we asked this witness,
13 relative to the Kordic interview -- strike that --
14 relative to the Blaskic interview only and using
15 Blaskic's testimony in that regard, that's all. We
16 don't accept the entire Blaskic case. It's not ours.
17 That's just something Mr. Nice suggests or made up.
18 That's not our position. We didn't accept the entire
19 case. We don't have the evidence. We don't have the
20 documents from Blaskic. That's one of the issues we
21 want to raise at the Status Conference.
22 Moreover, and last but not least, while I'm
23 on my feet, the issues being raised in terms of what
24 responsibility was done for investigations is covered
25 by the witness's own notes at page 34, where in his
1 interview with Mr. Kordic, Mr. Kordic announces that
2 there was an investigation formed. It's right there
3 for the Court to see in one of the exhibits. I don't
4 know what we're doing at this point.
5 MR. KOVACIC: (Interpretation) Your Honours,
6 our position is slightly different, and, of course,
7 that must be clear from the proceedings so far, because
8 my client was a commander of a brigade, which we admit
9 from the beginning, and he was subordinate to Blaskic;
10 therefore, that document is of interest to us.
11 However, we have not shown this document to the
12 witness, nor have we questioned him about it, because
13 it is a document that was issued after his inquiries.
14 Yesterday, my learned friend, the Prosecutor,
15 told us after the hearing that he had that document,
16 and you must have noticed that I reacted immediately
17 with interest, wanting to see that document, but for
18 another reason. Colleague Nice said that this was a
19 document dated the 25th of May which the Blaskic
20 Defence had introduced as an exhibit quite recently,
21 that is, at the very end of the trial of Blaskic.
22 I know that an exhibit was, indeed,
23 introduced in the Blaskic case towards the end of the
24 proceedings, that is, related to the investigation, but
25 that document, according to the information that I
1 received from colleagues in that case, that document, I
2 was told that the document was under seal, and that is
3 why I could not get it. When the Prosecutor said that
4 he had a document related to the investigation
5 introduced recently, of course, I immediately thought
6 that that might be that document. However, the
7 document that we received after the hearing yesterday
8 and which has been produced now and is marked from the
9 Blaskic case, D608, was at the time, though I cannot
10 assert that with certainty, two documents were
11 introduced regarding the investigation, because
12 apparently Blaskic did receive some reports about the
14 I knew that that existed, though I never saw
15 that document, because this technical side of
16 disclosure of documents, in accordance with your
17 previous order and the assistance of the Registry,
18 takes time, and according to the latest information
19 that we have from the Registry, we will get that
20 document from the Blaskic case, probably before the
21 autumn session. We have already received many of the
22 documents from the first part of the trial.
23 But what is important is the following: My
24 learned friend Nice is now producing this document, and
25 he wants to ask the witness about that document, based
1 on the assumption that the Defence will be putting
2 questions regarding that document. When? We have
3 finished with our cross-examination of the witness and
4 we did not produce that document. So I think that it
5 is not proper for him to discuss that document now in
6 the redirect. Whether we will be questioning other
7 witnesses about it, when and how, I don't know. We'll
9 That is all I wish to say as my contribution
10 to clearing up the situation before you make your
11 ruling, Your Honour. Thank you.
12 MR. NICE: Two points: I'm surprised that
13 what should be -- that those representing Kordic should
14 say that they are as selective as they are about
15 Blaskic's evidence, for if they have no intention of
16 calling or adopting his case, by implication saying
17 they are only accepting that bits of it are true, how
18 can they be putting positively -- as they did when
19 invited by Your Honour -- how can they be putting
20 positively that something is true, and it was put
21 vigorously to this witness, when they aren't even
22 adopting the provider of that material as a potential
24 JUDGE MAY: Let's deal with that in due
25 course. Let's look at this document.
1 MR. NICE: The second point is that this
2 document may well prove to be a document we will
3 produce, because if it's a document that is manifestly
4 a dishonest document, then there would be relevance for
5 this Chamber in this body producing, whenever it may
6 have done, a dishonest document. Of course, we've only
7 had it recently, and inquiries that may have to be
8 carried out further to investigate its status and
9 history have yet to be performed, but at this stage, it
10 would be valuable in the extreme to have, from this
11 witness, untutored, completely spontaneous reaction to
12 its comments.
13 (Trial Chamber deliberates)
14 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Nice, we think the better way
15 to deal with this is to see what, if any, use is made
16 from this document. If any use is made of it, then we
17 shall give leave for this witness to be recalled to
18 deal with it.
19 MR. NICE: Perhaps the document could come
20 off the ELMO.
21 Q. Can we turn to your notes at page 29, please?
22 A. The page beginning with "Vitez Brigade"?
23 Q. Certainly. The fourth line down from there,
24 where Blaskic is recorded as accepting responsibility
25 for the area with no military operations without his
1 commands, did he make any exception to that? Did he
2 qualify that in any way, identifying troops that were
3 not under his command?
4 A. Not to my knowledge.
5 Q. Your notes, page 35. Still with Blaskic, can
6 you just explain that entry there that relates to
7 Blaskic? Because it's out of sequence.
8 A. I'm not sure. I did not meet with Colonel
9 Blaskic a second time. I don't know if this is
10 something which someone else told me about Colonel
12 Q. But you don't have a recollection of it?
13 A. No, I don't.
14 Q. The following entry, which says that the
15 priest had reason to believe something, did the priest
16 give you his reasons?
17 A. I don't recall whether I actually met the
18 priest or whether this was the recollection of the
19 padre of the British Battalion.
20 Q. Thank you.
21 A. I cannot tell.
22 Q. My last question relates to Cerkez. You told
23 us something, when you were answering questions
24 initially, about his reaction to your inquiries,
25 "nervousness," I think, was the word you used. You
1 told Mr. Kovacic more about his change of demeanour when
2 Stewart arrived, but when you were speaking of his
3 general disposition, to what part of the encounter were
4 you speaking?
5 A. I was speaking to when Colonel Stewart
6 entered the room. I think it was clear that Mr. Cerkez
7 paid considerable deference to Colonel Stewart, not
8 necessarily the sort of respect which comes out of
9 personal liking, but perhaps more out of respect for
10 authority. When Colonel Stewart began to explain that
11 this investigation on the part of the U.N. Human Rights
12 Commission represented, and his words, as I recall
13 were, "the conscience of the International Community"
14 and that Mario Cerkez would be held liable for
15 investigating this matter to the extent that his
16 subordinates were involved and to take effective action
17 against any perpetrators, I think at that point, he
18 became visibly nervous and uneasy.
19 Q. Did Cerkez, at any time, identify any local
20 units that were not under his control?
21 A. I believe that both Colonel Blaskic and
22 Cerkez did refer to HOS, but I believe that certainly
23 Mr. Blaskic, possibly to a lesser extent Mr. Cerkez,
24 suggested that they are in control of the region.
25 Mr. Cerkez suggested that on the day of the attack,
1 there was some sort of chaos, that there was a sort of
2 spontaneous resistance to a Muslim offensive. I don't
3 know whether I would interpret that to suggest that the
4 HVO was not in control of the region. But I'm just
5 going to double check by consulting my notes.
6 Q. Page 29 -- I beg your pardon --
7 A. It's page 32 and 33, my meeting with Mario
9 Q. Yes.
10 A. He says that HOS was present, it was mixed
11 Muslim and Croat, and there was no HOS in Vitez, that
12 they came from Zenica. So my interpretation of that
13 would be that HOS was in the region, though it was not
14 from the region, and that there was chaos on the day of
15 the attack, not so much because there were external
16 elements but because, according to Mr. Cerkez, the
17 Bosnian Croats were taken by surprise. But I don't
18 think anyone suggested that HOS was in any significant
19 control in the region.
20 Q. Thank you. HOS apart, was Cerkez identifying
21 any local brigades or subbrigades that were not under
22 local authority?
23 A. No.
24 MR. NICE: Thank you. That concludes my
1 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Akhavan, thank you for giving
2 your evidence. You are released now.
3 THE WITNESS: Thank you, Your Honour.
4 (The witness withdrew)
5 MR. NICE: The exhibit produced, I think,
6 some time ago by Mr. Akhavan, I'm advised, should be
7 marked 1585.1/2.
8 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at
9 12.05 p.m., to be reconvened on Monday,
10 the 13th day of September, 1999, at
11 9.30 a.m.