1 Tuesday, 7 June 2005
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 2.23 p.m.
5 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Harvey.
6 MR. HARVEY: Good afternoon, Your Honour.
7 JUDGE PARKER: An unexpected pleasure.
8 MR. HARVEY: We aim to please. I'm -- if -- with your permission
9 going to open this case on behalf of Mr. Bala. Then Mr. Bala himself
10 will address the Court from his seat and we will then start calling the
11 list of witnesses that has been presented to the Court.
12 JUDGE PARKER: And you would like the Chamber's permission for a
13 statement to be made by your client in those circumstances?
14 MR. HARVEY: We would indeed, please.
15 JUDGE PARKER: Under Rule 84 bis probably.
16 MR. HARVEY: Yes.
17 JUDGE PARKER: Yes.
18 MR. HARVEY: Certainly.
19 JUDGE PARKER: You have it.
20 [Bala Defence Opening Statement]
21 MR. HARVEY: Your Honours, Counsel for the Prosecution, my
22 colleagues for the Defence, Mr. Limaj, Mr. Musliu, Mr. Haradin Bala. I
23 consider it an honour to open this case on behalf of Haradin Bala. I'm
24 going to provide a brief outline of the witnesses who we propose to call.
25 I shall refer, I hope also briefly, to certain principles of
1 international law, but I'd like to start, if I may, with a few words
2 about the context in which we are all here today, that is the context of
3 an evolving and developing international criminal jurisprudence, the
4 context of a 60-year experiment in creating an international rule of law
5 to be applied to individual human beings as well as to governments and
6 their agents.
7 In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights said in the
8 preamble: "Whereas it is essential if man is not to be compelled to have
9 recourse as a last resort to rebellion against tyranny and oppression,
10 that human rights should be protected by the rule of law..."
11 I'm just reminding myself to slow down by putting on my French
13 Half a century later in 1998, after long and bitter years of
14 tyranny and oppression and as the MUP and the JNA closed in murderously
15 on the people of Kosovo, Haradin Bala felt compelled, as a last resort in
16 those words of the Universal Declaration, to take up his rifle, to leave
17 his poor family compound in Korretice e Eperme, where he and others could
18 hear already the distant fighting in Lapusnik. They knew that if
19 ordinary people like them did not take a stand, then they and their
20 families would lose their land, their homes, their livestock, and most
21 probably their lives.
22 Going back to the stated aims of the Universal Declaration.
23 Article 11 proclaimed: "Everyone charged with a penal offence shall have
24 the right to be presumed innocent according to law in a public trial at
25 which he has all the guarantees necessary for his defence."
1 That article was interpreted further by Article 14 of the
2 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. And that covenant
3 was passed, it was placed on -- open for signature in 1966. And if you
4 permit me a moment of personal reflection, I went up to university in
5 1967, a few months after that covenant was published, 10 years before it
6 was to gain the 35 ratifications that would be necessary for it to enter
7 into force. And I well remember my colleagues in that international law
8 club speaking dismissively of the international covenants: "No country
9 will ever abide by them. You'll never have an international body that
10 can police them. No state will ever permit some international court to
11 have jurisdiction over its citizens."
12 Notwithstanding the cynicism of my fellow students, I believed
13 then, as I do now, that the Universal Declaration and the International
14 Covenants are among the most important human statements ever written.
15 And for most of the 30 or more years that I've been practicing law, I
16 have found myself citing those covenants at conferences, in United
17 Nations committees, in articles, to students, and before often rather
18 perplexed judges, particularly in the United States. The right to be
19 presumed innocent. It's a fine, it's a noble phrase. What is its weight
20 in this courtroom?
21 As I stand here today before a Tribunal that is striving to
22 become the embodiment of that same principle of international law, I have
23 great hope. I also have great concern. Most of us who normally practice
24 in the common-law jurisdictions regard the jury as the most important
25 safeguard of the principle that everyone should be presumed innocent. We
1 generally find that juries take the business of sitting in judgement over
2 a fellow human being with extreme seriousness. In the words of the
3 Bible, "With that judgement wherewith ye judge, therewith shall ye be
4 judged also."
5 And juries get that. But we are learning here, too, as
6 common-law people, that there are other safeguards in other systems from
7 which we can learn. We have no parallel to the examining magistrate, the
8 juge d'instruction. We don't have a career judiciary trained from law
9 school for that very special role. So here as we mix and commingle the
10 experiences of different jurisdictions, international criminal
11 jurisprudence has the opportunity to draw on the best of each system.
12 This has great potential, but it also has dangers. If international
13 justice is to prevail, if it is to command universal respect, then we
14 will adopt the highest common factor of safeguards against miscarriages
15 of justice. What must be avoided at all costs is any temptation to take
16 the easiest route, the lowest common denominator, because by definition
17 these cases that come before you are exceptional cases.
18 This is not a pub brawl, a bank robbery, a shoplifting. In such
19 cases, it's relatively easy to be objective, whether as judge or as jury.
20 The words "innocent until proven guilty" are reasonably simple to apply.
21 Such cases, however important in their own context, cannot be said to
22 affect the life of an entire nation or a people. War crimes are
23 different. In the everyday context, we have no problem accepting that,
24 yes, policemen do tell lies; sure, victims do make mistakes in
25 identification; but ultimately in those cases, it is the individual and
1 not the system itself that is on trial. The results of conviction or
2 acquittal are usually only of passing interest to the general public.
3 Here we all recognise that what led Haradin Bala to this courtroom is not
4 the path of a common criminal, so-called. No one can deny the justice of
5 the cause for which Haradin Bala took up his gun. What reasonable person
6 could say that the people of Kosovo had no right to defend themselves
7 against that appalling contemporary euphemism, ethnic cleansing? Theirs
8 was truly a cause of the kind contemplated in the preamble to the
9 Universal Declaration, where man was compelled to have recourse as a last
10 resort to rebellion against tyranny and oppression because their human
11 rights were not protected by the rule of law. Seven years later, Haradin
12 Bala is compelled to sit in a war crimes tribunal. Can he expect to
13 receive the same wholehearted and genuine presumption of innocence that
14 we freely give to the woman accused of attempting to murder an abusive
16 We can't pretend that what we are doing is ordinary. War crimes
17 are exceptional and you may be familiar with the English expression that
18 it is the exception that proves the rule. As a child I thought that that
19 was rather a bizarre expression, until I realised that "proves" means in
20 this sense puts to the proof, tests. Exceptional cases such as these
21 actually put to the proof, they put on trial those values that we profess
22 to hold so dear but which unless we test their truth on our own tongues
23 they risk becoming mere platitudes. Those core values that safeguard
24 respect for justice are innocent until proven guilty and its corollary,
25 beyond a reasonable doubt. We will be asking you to consider the
1 evidence presented on behalf of Haradin Bala in that light. He sits here
2 today an innocent man. That's not just a rhetorical expression, it is a
3 fact of legal due process. So far, nothing has been proved against him;
4 the case remains open.
5 Once you have heard the witnesses whom we will be calling on his
6 behalf, we are that you will agree that there is here clearly in this
7 case a case of reasonable doubt.
8 As I mentioned in opening -- in the beginning, Mr. Bala will
9 himself exercise his right to make a statement. We know that you will
10 listen with care to all he has to say and we trust that it will help you
11 understand more about the man who appears before you. We will then be
12 calling a number of people, most of whom come from the villages in upper
13 Drenica, villagers who either supported the KLA or who joined it;
14 however, unlike the Prosecution we do not believe that all KLA supporters
15 are liars, any more than all Cretans are liars. We offer these witnesses
16 worthy of belief. Indeed, you have already heard from one of them
17 because Elmi Sopi, as you recall, was called jointly by Fatmir Limaj and
18 Haradin Bala, and he has already told you that Mr. Bala came to Lapusnik
19 shortly after the 9th of May and that he left at the end of May. And he,
20 Elmi Sopi, from Lapusnik never saw Haradin Bala there again after that.
21 We will be calling, we anticipate today, Shefki Bala, a neighbour but
22 despite his surname not a relative, and a childhood friend of Haradin
23 Bala. He will tell you more about Mr. Bala's medical history. Although
24 not a doctor, he took him -- he took Mr. Haradin Bala to Pristina
25 hospital in 1993 on the occasion of his second heart attack. We will be
1 calling a doctor in the shape of Dr. Fitim Selimi, who is a thoracic
2 surgeon today and at the time was practicing as a doctor and as a human
3 rights activist. As a doctor, he joined the KLA. He collected medical
4 supplies and he provided help to civilians and soldiers in the region of
5 upper Drenica. He ran a makeshift clinic in Shale in the months of June
6 and July of 1998. And Haradin Bala came to him on many occasions there
7 for treatment for his heart condition.
8 We will then call Skender Bylykbashi, who comes from Bajice, the
9 original hometown of Haradin Bala's wife and her family. And he will
10 tell you how Haradin was compelled to move his own family to safety in
11 Bajice -- perhaps I should say relative safety in Bajice in May of 1998.
12 He will also tell you the knowledge he has concerning what Haradin was
13 doing during the months of June and July and his medical condition, as he
14 observed it to be at that time.
15 Mr. Kadri Dugoli, who is another childhood friend who also
16 recalls visiting Haradin Bala in hospital at the time of his heart attack
17 and also gave shelter for a short period to Haradin's family during the
19 Avdullah Puka who didn't know Haradin before the summer of 1998,
20 met him when Kumanova brought him to his house in Javor near Luzhnice.
21 Then Ali Thaqi who is from Lapusnik, has known Haradin all his
22 life and remembers also the second heart attack that Haradin suffered in
23 1993. He remembers seeing Haradin in Lapusnik shortly after the 9th of
25 Finally we intend to call Ferat Sopi, who you recall has been
1 mentioned already as operating the clinic in Lapusnik. He will tell you
2 when he opened that clinic and who he worked with.
3 There will be other evidence that will affect Mr. Bala's case,
4 but those are the live witnesses whom we propose to call. We served
5 notice of alibi well before the beginning of this case, and of course
6 once that is raised in evidence, as it will be by our witnesses, it falls
7 to the Prosecution to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt the validity of
8 that alibi. The burden is not, of course, on the accused. And the sense
9 in which this is an alibi case is in the sense that of evidence that
10 tends to show that by reason of the presence of the defendant in a
11 particular area at a particular time, he was not or was unlikely to have
12 been at the place where the offence is alleged to have been committed at
13 the time that it was committed. This is not a case of a man who was
14 under the care of the state in a hospital, a prison, the army, or any
15 other location where records were kept. So we have no one to bring
16 before you to say on the 25th and 26th of July beyond any question, here
17 is the paper that proves where Haradin Bala was. But there are two
18 compelling factors, we submit, that suggest very strongly why this alibi,
19 so-called, is one on which you can place reliance and one which the
20 Prosecution will be unable to disprove. Those two factors are Mr. Bala's
21 health and his location.
22 Again, we cannot say that it would have been physically
23 impossible for Haradin Bala to perform the actions that he is accused of
24 performing, not impossible, but his health condition makes it highly,
25 highly unlikely that he could or would have been in a position to perform
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 those actions. Secondly, his location. After the initial fighting in
2 Lapusnik, the evidence will show that he was given another task by the
3 KLA because of his age and because of his physical infirmity. He was
4 moved to a logistics role in the village of Luzhnice. He needed to make
5 regular visits to the doctor at the clinic in Shale. And we have to bear
6 in mind the overall context of the wartime conditions prevailing. Travel
7 was particularly difficult and dangerous. The doctor who treated him
8 will tell you why he has no medical records that he can call on, again
9 because of the wartime conditions, because of what happened to his clinic
10 when the Serbs finally broke through and committed the atrocities they
11 were able to commit at the end of July.
12 And an additional aspect to the alibi, of course, when a person
13 raises an alibi they say "I wasn't there," "it wasn't me." "Whoever the
14 witness says did it, they've got the wrong person." So the other element
15 relating to that of the alibi is identification, the reliability of those
16 witnesses who have told you it was Haradin Bala who did this to me or to
17 somebody else. And you will hear testimony that those identifications
18 are totally unreliable. An expert upon whom this Tribunal has every
19 reason to rely will say that these identifications are ones on which you
20 cannot safely rely.
21 And in conclusion, may I say a few words about the corollary of
22 the burden of proof and the presumption of innocence, and that corollary
23 of course is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Mr. President, when you
24 made reference last week to the fact that you and your colleagues are not
25 a raw jury, you underlined an important advantage that Judges have in
1 sorting the wheat from the chaff, the meaningful from the irrelevant.
2 That advantage enables you to recognise, for instance, that documents the
3 Defence would normally seek to exclude in a jury trial may sometimes - I
4 do not say always - may sometimes be safely admitted here. They can be
5 examined and then quietly consigned to the large pile of irrelevant
6 papers marked "not wanted on voyage" when you begin to analyse what is
7 actually of any evidentiary value in this case. But there are times when
8 all of us as advocates and as Judges, too, need to stand back from our
9 professional self-confidence, times when we are in danger of being too
10 comfortably part of the cozy lawyers' world that is alien to that raw
11 jury, times when we must think particularly of the wider public interest
12 that we are called here to serve.
13 It may be that the people of Kosovo need a truth and
14 reconciliation commission among South African lines, but of course this
15 trial cannot be such a commission. The truth that we seek here is what
16 the great legal scholar and judge Albi Sachs of the South African
17 Constitutional Court has called a microscopic truth. As he says: "In a
18 court of law, we apply a kind of technical legalism that is appropriate
19 when you are dealing with the due process of law. You cannot convict
20 without proper testimony, proper cross-examination, without narrow,
21 microscopic examination. And applying this forensic microscope in an
22 objective fashion is a reasonably straightforward exercise when the
23 charge is shoplifting or even murder in the everyday social context.
24 Reasonable doubt is relatively easily understood by judge or jury, but
25 the more serious the crime, the graver the implications for society as a
1 whole. And the graver the implications, the greater our emotional need
2 to see retribution for that crime."
3 The very term "war crimes" is highly emotive. Sitting in The
4 Hague today we are hundreds and hundreds miles distant from the daily
5 reality of Kosovo. Those of us who have been to Kosovo and seen it for
6 ourselves recognise this is another place, another world entirely. And
7 we are seven years distant from the horrors, the chaos, and the anarchy
8 that engulfed the region in 1998. This Tribunal is serviced by a vast
9 engine of investigators, analysts, and prosecutors doing their best to
10 uncover past disappearances and solve past murders. You, as Judges, have
11 a mission to do justice by the international community and by all the
12 people of Kosovo. In order to do this we know that you have made
13 personal and professional sacrifices yourselves. We have come to this
14 Defence bar to perform a service to the cause of international human
15 rights as well. Like you, we wish to see the highest standards of due
16 process safeguarded and not diluted in the face of the most serious
17 criminal charges a person can have to deal with. So please forgive me
18 when I underscore the words "beyond a reasonable doubt."
19 When you have heard all of the evidence in relation to Haradin
20 Bala, we submit there will be at least three areas of evidence that will
21 give you pause: The alibi evidence in its general sense and in the
22 overall context of prevailing wartime conditions in Kosovo, he was not
23 there; the evidence of his health when measured against the considerable
24 physical exertions that had to have accompanied the acts alleged against
25 him, he could not reasonably be expected to have done them; and finally,
1 the so-called identification evidence which will show that no witness
2 made an identification of Haradin Bala upon which any reasonable Tribunal
3 could rely. It was not him.
4 So on behalf of our team, I thank you for your patience and your
5 courtesy for hearing me out.
6 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Harvey.
7 Now, Mr. Bala, we understand from your counsel that you wish to
8 make a statement. You no doubt have been advised that it is open to you
9 to do that and that if you do make a statement not on affirmation, that
10 you will not be able to be cross-examined by the Prosecution on that
11 statement. Do we understand you wish to make a statement now?
12 THE ACCUSED BALA: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour, that is my
14 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you. I think because of the need for the
15 microphone to catch you, it would be best if you simply sat in your seat
16 as near to the microphones as you comfortably can and please then make
17 your statement.
18 If the microphone between you and Mr. Limaj could be switched on.
19 Please proceed. You understand you need to speak reasonably
20 slowly because of the interpretation.
21 THE ACCUSED BALA: [Interpretation] I will do my best to do that.
22 Good afternoon, Your Honours. It is the first time in my life
23 that I address a Court. It is the first time in my life that I speak
24 before a microphone, and therefore I would like you from the very
25 beginning to ask your forgiveness for any mistakes because, as you know,
1 I have only completed elementary school. And therefore, I apologise for
2 any possible mistakes from the beginning.
3 It's been six months and some days that we've been sitting in
4 this courtroom, and we almost know each other here by first and last
5 names; but however, I would like again for the record to state my name.
6 As you already know, my name is Haradin Bala. I come from the village of
7 Korretice e Eperme, which is in Drenoc municipality. I am father of ten
8 children, of whom seven are living and three have died. Of my seven
9 living children, I have five daughters and two sons. One of my
10 daughters, who is now 25 years old, was born healthy but unfortunately
11 she fell sick in the age of seven months. And to this date, she is
12 paralyzed, cannot move and cannot control herself. I have, as I said,
13 two sons, the older being 18 years old and the younger 11 years old.
14 I come from a country which has always been poor, a country that
15 has always been occupied by foreigners. Honourable Judges, you have
16 already learned the history of that nation, the suffering of our people,
17 the suppression that it lived in for years. As I said, I come from a
18 very small country, from Kosova, which has a very fertile land and also
19 gold mines, despite being a small country. And foreigners envied her
20 just because of this, because of things she had, and it's because of this
21 that the nation was suffering.
22 For many years before and even today, I think there was a slogan
23 that we used which was: "Trepca Works and Belgrade Builds." If this was
24 the only problem that we had, a problem of poverty, we would have got
25 over it, that wouldn't have been a problem for us. But violence,
1 repression, maltreatment on the streets, in our homes, wherever we were,
2 imprisonments, massive imprisonments, this is what they did to us.
3 A country which had laws, which recognised international human
4 rights and -- not to continue because I don't even know what in all as a
5 country it knew and recognised; however, I would like to say that the
6 suffering of my people in that small country, I heard about this
7 suffering from elderly persons, from my father, from my relatives, old
8 men, who spoke of their suffering. I too suffered what they suffered in
9 the past. I'm not a historian, but you don't need to be educated to know
10 these things that I've mentioned. These are things that everybody knows.
11 Every person who has not completed any school knows these things because
12 these persons suffered these things, they felt them in themselves.
13 As far as I know and as far as I can say with respect to what I
14 heard from my grandfathers, my father, what I've seen myself, if I were
15 to recount to you, Your Honours, everything I know I have heard, I would
16 have needed a lot of time, as long as the Milosevic trial is taking,
17 because there is a lot to say. You don't need a lot of schooling and
18 education to do that, to have finished university, to tell what a country
19 like mine has gone through. I will try, however, to be as brief as I
20 possibly can to concentrate more on my own family. But when I talk about
21 my family, about what it went through, Your Honours, you should rest
22 assured that the majority of the people I come from have gone through the
23 same hardships and suffered the same fate. The differences between --
24 among our fates are minor.
25 After the end of the Second World War, my grandfather, Haradin
1 Bala - he had the same name as myself - he was forced to leave his home,
2 to leave his property and go to Albania for the sole purpose of escaping
3 Serb brutality. He lived in Albania for 14 years. When he went to
4 Albania, he did the same thing as we did when we took to the mountains,
5 he took with him only his personal belongings; he left behind his whole
6 wealth and property. He left behind 10 acres of land, of fertile land,
7 which even today remain in the hands of Serb occupiers. Even though we
8 had been asking for the restitution of that property, we have not yet
9 received it. That was a wealth which could feed our families for
10 generations. And to this day, we don't have it.
11 Today in Korretice, where I live, I have five brothers and four
12 sisters, and we all share 9 acres of land where our households are built.
13 You may imagine for yourselves what kind of life we can lead in these
14 circumstances, living only on 9 acres of land, nine brothers and sisters
16 After 14 years, when my grandfather came back from Albania, he
17 was accused -- my father was accused of -- he was accused in a time which
18 for us was known as the Rankovic time, where we were forced to flee in a
19 large scale. He was accused of staging, of organising, the people to
20 demand the use of the Albanian flag. They accused him of that because
21 they told him, You have lived in Albania and you want to do this now
22 here? That was of course a fabricated charge against him and for that he
23 was sentenced with imprisonment. He was sentenced to two years of
24 imprisonment and three years under house arrest. And I remember very
25 well the time when he was under house arrest because I could see, I was a
1 child, but we could see that he stayed at home night and day, never left
3 Your Honours, I told you that you too now know that the military
4 service in the former Yugoslav army was compulsory for Albanian youths.
5 Many Albanians who did that service, that is the military service, in the
6 army of the state, which was known for that army, returned to us as dead
7 persons. They were returned to the families in sealed coffins. The
8 families were not allowed to see whether the -- whether the corpses were
9 inside the coffins. The same fate happened to befall to my younger
10 brother, Abedin Bala. That day when he dressed his civilian clothes and
11 he was greeting his friends to return home where the entire family was
12 waiting for him, on that same day he was arrested. So they arrested him,
13 and he was arrested by a state that had laws. And he was deprived of his
14 fundamental right to live by that state that did not allow him and others
15 like him to be educated in their mother tongue.
16 The forces of that state stopped him in the street whenever they
17 saw him for the only reason that he didn't speak Serbian and that he was
18 Albanian. The police officers of that state beat him and tortured him.
19 I don't think there is any other people in the world that knows how to
20 maltreat and torture others like the Serb people; for us, they are such
21 -- such tortures are well-known. So they arrested him. They poisoned
22 him, they poisoned the people in schools. The same state, the same
23 officers, the same regime imprisoned him. In that notorious jail, they
24 killed him.
25 When we went to fetch his corpse, the only reason they gave us
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 for his death, which was not only his death but the death of many other
2 Albanians, was that he has committed a murder. What happened to my
3 brother, Hamdi -- this was told to my brother Hamdi when he went to take
4 his dead body. They told him that Abedin was imprisoned in isolation.
5 In the morning of the 12th January of 1985, 1985, the cook took his
6 breakfast in the cell and saw him lying in the bed covered with a sheet.
7 He thought that he was sleeping. He removed his sheet from his body and
8 when he did so, the cook said that he saw that Abedin had hanged himself
9 with a piece of the sheet. How is it possible for somebody to commit
10 suicide, to hang himself with a piece of sheet and then to fall on the
11 same bed, to cover himself with this sheet? I think this deserves no
13 The grief for our family was great. My father was a folk singer,
14 he used to sing; but after that, he stopped singing. He was unable to
15 sing anymore. Not only then but all the time it was clear to us what was
16 happening. But every family suffered a similar tragedy like my family.
17 I wouldn't say all, but most of our families suffered the same fate. But
18 often we didn't even dare speak with each other or tell each other what
19 had befallen us. We didn't know what to do, how to find a way out of
20 this situation, but at that time we were not as united as we were in 1998
21 when we got together.
22 Your Honours, when I tell you this maybe someone might think that
23 I'm saying that all the Serbs are responsible for the bad conduct of
24 their government. I have not blamed and do not blame rank-and-file
25 people, ordinary people, irrespective of their religion or the group they
1 belong to, those who tried to cooperate with their neighbours, despite
2 the religion of their leaders. Your Honours, in this very courtroom
3 every day I am sitting in the chair that I am sitting now which is the
4 same chair, the same seat where a monster and not a human being sits, a
5 man who is being tried for trying to exterminate my people from the face
6 of the earth and from human memory through massacres, bloodsheds; through
7 torching their homes, destroying their homes; through forcing hundreds
8 and thousands of people to flee that small country. And he managed to
9 force them -- some of them to flee and the others take to the mountains.
10 Your Honours, maybe to you it may sound strange, but the torture
11 I feel every day when I think that I am sitting in the same place where a
12 barbarian sits, who is being tried for crimes that history of mankind has
13 never heard of. And then when the Prosecution is trying to treat me in
14 the same way as him.
15 I want to tell you one more thing, that when I was telling you
16 about my paralyzed daughter, I want to tell you that it is hard to be
17 such a parent. It is very hard indeed because for 25 years she has never
18 been able to touch the ground with her feet. Today she is lying in bed
19 and every time she is changed her clothes -- along with her clothes we
20 rip parts of her body, of her flesh, and still I can put up with it.
21 When I'm saying this, I don't want to show my disrespect for the Tribunal
22 because I have the greatest of respect personally for this Tribunal, but
23 the entire people expect -- respects it and expects it -- expects much
24 from it.
25 Saying this, I want to tell you, Your Honours, that how can I be
1 sitting in the same place, in the same Trial Chamber with Milosevic, even
2 though we sit at different times, when that person is known on
3 international scale as a barbarian person and when in my case, apart from
4 the charges brought against him, I was looked upon as a liberator by my
5 people? This really hurts me and pains me more than anything.
6 As I said, I live in Korretice e Eperme; it's a valley on which
7 on the 9th of May, Your Honours, I saw flames coming from Lapusnik. I
8 heard the gunshots. The distance is not that great. It seemed as if it
9 was coming from my own courtyard. During that fighting, brave young men
10 had taken part, young men who, as we say back home, has not shaved yet.
11 They were there facing their enemy; they won that battle. I decided to
12 join these young men.
13 When I made my decision, I familiarised one of my brothers with
14 my decision and told him that I will go and join them. He said to me,
15 No, don't go. Give me your weapon and I will go instead of you. You
16 know your situation. You cannot carry 5 kilogrammes of paint and point
17 walls in order to provide for your family; what can you do there? What
18 he was saying was true. However, I had this wish to at least die
19 together with these young men, to at least try and provide safety for my
20 brothers who were at home because as I was more aged than them I believed
21 that they will live to enjoy freedom, and this was the reason I decided
22 to join.
23 It was morning, around 4.00 a.m. when I arrived at Lapusnik. I
24 met those young men that I mentioned, but as we say in our country, they
25 looked as young children. But I looked even older from my actual age
1 because of the suffering and because of my health. Even those young men
2 told me that -- in fact it was Ymer Alushani who said to me that I looked
3 older. I knew Ymer from before. He said to me, Why did you come here?
4 You have many brothers. You should have given this weapon to one of your
5 brothers. And my reply was, No, Ymer. I don't want a freedom without
6 these young men. I don't want to sit and watch these young men get
7 killed. I will do my best to my condition to contribute. And he said to
8 me, But you know yourself. You know that you are not able even to walk
9 or escape. And I said to him, Yes, that's true, but you should know one
10 thing. There were three others there. And I said to him, Wherever I
11 sit, there it's either that I will survive or die. Don't leave me.
12 I joined the KLA, as I said earlier, to provide safety for other
13 brothers because those, those who took up weapons, they all knew that
14 they were in fact killed. We didn't say to ourselves, Okay, let us take
15 up weapons and by God we won't get killed. Everybody knew that death was
16 awaiting them somewhere. From time to time and in different periods of
17 time, they managed to get weapons and to join the KLA as well. In other
18 words, from May until the end of the war, I participated in the war
19 together with four brothers of mine and two nephews, two sons of my
20 brother. I stayed in Lapusnik for around two weeks. Commander Kumanova
21 came. At that time, we didn't know each other as commanders, but now I
22 use the term "commanders" because now we know. At that time, we were
23 soldiers and we respected each other as per the tradition we Albanians
24 have. You pay respect for the elderly persons.
25 We spoke with him. We informed him. He understood my health
1 condition. He asked me to accompany him to together with him because as
2 he said, You are in a very dangerous place and perhaps you will be more
3 of assistance to us in another place than here now that you have made up
4 your mind to help our army, our liberation army. And that's why I went
5 with him there to Luzhnice.
6 In this courtroom, I've heard many testimonies of people who
7 accused me of beating them, of opening and closing doors so others could
8 beat them, of executing my own people; this is not true. Your Honours, I
9 did not do these things. The things that happened to these people worry
10 me a lot, they make me very sad. I do not know why they think I was
11 involved. But, Your Honours, you will probably remember that another
12 person was brought here before this Court; he was arrested by the OTP and
13 brought to the Tribunal. Many of those who came here to testify, they
14 claim that I was present there as well and that I was involved in things
15 that I am accused of doing. A mistake has been made here, Your Honours.
16 I was not involved in these things. I don't know that such things
17 happened, Your Honours, and I don't believe that a single person from our
18 own people would do things as we are accused of.
19 I have a deep respect for NATO and the forces that saved my
20 country and helped the KLA to protect its people from a total
21 extermination by Milosevic.
22 Your Honours, please understand that the day will come when all
23 Kosovars living in Kosova, boys and girls, men and women, they will stand
24 together as one, as an independent nation with all its constituent groups
25 living a free life, working together for the betterment of all the
1 people, not only part of them.
2 Your Honours, in the end I would like to say that I respect you
3 greatly and that I'm grateful for being given the opportunity to address
4 you. Thank you.
5 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
6 That is clearly a convenient time for the first break. We'll
7 resume at 4.00.
8 --- Recess taken at 3.39 p.m.
9 --- On resuming at 4.04 p.m.
10 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Guy-Smith.
11 MR. GUY-SMITH: If we could call Mr. Shefki Bala, please.
12 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
13 [The witness entered court]
14 JUDGE PARKER: Good afternoon. Would you please read aloud the
15 affirmation on the card that is given to you now.
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. I solemnly declare that I
17 will speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
18 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you. Please sit down.
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I take this opportunity to greet
20 Your Honours, all the parties here, and my co-patriots.
21 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you. Please be seated.
22 Mr. Guy-Smith.
23 MR. GUY-SMITH: Thank you.
24 WITNESS: SHEFKI BALA
25 [Witness answered through interpreter]
1 Examined by Mr. Guy-Smith:
2 Q. Good afternoon, Mr. Bala.
3 A. Good afternoon, sir.
4 Q. Where do you presently live?
5 A. I live in Korretice e Eperme, Drenoc municipality.
6 THE INTERPRETER: Could the witness be asked to stand closer to
7 the microphone, please.
8 MR. GUY-SMITH:
9 Q. If you could, there's been a request that you sit a little closer
10 to the microphone because I think you might have a low voice.
11 And how long have you lived there, sir?
12 A. I was born there and I live there.
13 Q. Do you know Haradin Bala?
14 A. Yes, I do.
15 Q. And how long have you known him?
16 A. I have known him since our childhood. We've been together in the
17 high school -- sorry, during the high school age. All the time we've
18 been together.
19 Q. I notice that your last name is Bala, as is his. Are you related
20 to each other?
21 A. We live in the same neighbourhood. We are neighbours.
22 Q. And if you could tell us, how big a village do you live it? How
23 big is Korretice?
24 A. Korretice is large. It has about 4 or 500 houses. I can't tell
25 you how large it is in terms of the area.
1 Q. Now, since you've known Haradin Bala all your life, could you
2 tell me, are you taller than he is, shorter than he is, if you know?
3 A. I am taller than Haradin.
4 Q. And do you by any chance know about how tall you are?
5 A. I am 1 metre, 75 or 80 centimetres tall.
6 Q. And by any chance, do you know what colour his eyes are?
7 A. Usually these are things which we don't look at, but I think they
8 are light blue or green.
9 Q. Okay. During the time that you've known Haradin Bala, do you
10 know whether or not he ever worked?
11 A. Yes. He has worked in the 1980s in a construction company in
12 Drenoc, former Gllogovc. He was a painter.
13 Q. Could you tell us, if you know, how long he worked as a painter?
14 A. He worked there for as long as that enterprise existed, and then
15 it went bankrupt and all the workers were fired; he suffered the same
17 Q. After the business he worked for went bankrupt, do you know what
18 he did next for a job?
19 A. I think he was a good worker, a capable person in that profession
20 and he was much sought after. He didn't have a regular job, but he had
21 plenty of work, one day, two days, maybe a week, but he didn't have a
22 regular job.
23 Q. To your knowledge, directing your attention to the 1990s, was he
24 working during that period of time?
25 A. In the 1990s, Haradin did the same job but he didn't have a lot
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 of work because -- he couldn't work much because he was ill, that's why.
2 Q. You say that he couldn't work much because he was ill. Is there
3 a specific date or time when you recall him becoming ill?
4 A. I think it was in 1993. I don't remember the exact date. It
5 must have been the end of July and the beginning -- the end of June and
6 the beginning of July. I took him in my own car to a clinic, first aid
7 clinic, in Prishtine because there was a police checkpoint at Komorane, a
8 Serb police checkpoint, and we were forced to go to Prishtine. We were
9 afraid to go to Drenoc where there was another clinic because of that
11 Q. When you say you took him in our own car to Prishtine, why did
12 you take him in your car to a clinic? Was there something that had
13 happened? Was there a reason for that?
14 A. The reason for that was that the health state institutions didn't
15 pay much attention to such grievances at that time. So we -- the
16 citizens or the villagers had to take care of themselves.
17 Q. Was there something -- some reason that he needed to be taken
18 care of? Was something going on with him at that point in time that
19 required you to take him in a car to Pristina?
20 A. I felt it my obligation -- in fact, not only for Haradin but for
21 all my co-villagers. This was something that we used to do at that time
22 quite often because if I myself were in the same situation, I was sure
23 that Haradin would do the same for me.
24 Q. What situation was Haradin in at that time that you took him to
1 A. I was returning from work where I was working in agriculture. It
2 was about 4.00 and I heard a voice coming from Haradin's yard. I went to
3 see what was happening. He was having a great pain in his chest and I
4 told him, Let's go to the doctor. But he didn't want to go to the
5 doctor. So we insisted on his going to the doctor, to the clinic.
6 Q. I take it you were successful in getting him to the doctor.
7 A. I said that we convinced him to go and see a doctor.
8 Q. Did you learn whether or not the -- him complaining about a pain
9 in his chest meant anything?
10 A. In the clinic in Lipjan, in Prishtine, they gave him the first
11 aid. But the doctor said he should be taken to the hospital, to the ward
12 that deals with internal diseases. I don't know much of medicine but
13 then the doctor later on told us that he had sort of infarction.
14 Q. You said that he had a sort of infarction. Is that a heart
15 attack that you're referring to or some other kind of heart condition?
16 A. The nurse told us this and then it was proven afterwards that he
17 was suffering from infarction because immediately they put him to some
18 equipment there. I don't know what they are, some heart equipment.
19 Q. Do you remember how long he stayed in the hospital that time?
20 A. I told you earlier that I cannot remember some details, but I
21 think he must have stayed about 15 days more or less.
22 Q. After he came back from the hospital, do you recall whether he
23 continued to work as a painter or not?
24 A. No, but I do remember that he didn't work but that he asked for
25 assistance in the Albanian state, that is he went there for further
2 Q. When you say that he didn't work but he asked for further
3 assistance, do you personally have any knowledge about he -- how he was
4 able to support his family at that time?
5 A. I may tell you that he had a very difficult life. It was with
6 difficulty that he survived.
7 Q. On a side note, did you know his father?
8 A. Yes, pretty well.
9 Q. What did his father do?
10 A. His father received a small pension, but they are many brothers
11 and Haradin had his own house, but his father used to sing folk songs.
12 He was a singer.
13 Q. I want to direct your attention to 1998, and specifically
14 sometime around the month of May. Did you have occasion to see Haradin
15 at that time in the village of Korretice?
16 A. I frequently met him until May every day I would say, until May
17 of 1998.
18 Q. Did there come a time in May when you no longer saw him in
20 A. After the Likoshan event, our village, too, was engaged in
21 self-organisation. We started to keep guard of the village at night
22 until May. And even though Haradin was ill he too wanted to join in that
23 organisation. And we watched -- we stayed on guard together. We just
24 kept vigil. We didn't have any weapons.
25 Q. Did Haradin remain in the village of Korretice throughout the
1 month of May?
2 A. After the Lapusnik battle, that is after the 9th of May,
3 Haradin's brothers told me that he had joined the KLA.
4 Q. After Haradin Bala left, after the battle of Lapusnik on the 9th
5 of May, when did you see him again?
6 A. In -- on the 10th of August of 1998 I went to Germany with my
7 family. And after the 9th of May, I remember I have seen him after I
8 returned from Germany in November of 1999. I didn't see them at other
10 Q. Thank you very much. You may wait there.
11 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Guy-Smith.
12 Mr. Mansfield.
13 MR. MANSFIELD: No questions. Thank you.
14 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Topolski.
15 MR. TOPOLSKI: Nor I. Thank you.
16 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Nicholls.
17 MR. NICHOLLS: Thank you, Your Honours.
18 Cross-examined by Mr. Nicholls:
19 Q. So you've known Haradin Bala since childhood as a neighbour?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. And as a friend of your family's?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Could you tell me the names of his four brothers who also took
24 part in the war?
25 A. Yes, I can do that. Apart from Haradin, it was Fatmir, Fadil,
1 Bahtir, and the youngest, Besim.
2 Q. Do you know, if you can tell me, approximately when these four
3 men were born or how old they are now, whichever is easier for you.
4 A. No problem. I can tell you approximately what their ages. I
5 don't know their birth dates, however I'll do my best. Bahtir is 69
6 born; Fadil, 77; Fatmir, 72; and Besim, at the most born in 1979, around
7 these years [as interpreted].
8 Q. Thank you. And I believe that Haradin Bala had two nephews who
9 also fought or took part in the war. Can you tell me their names and
10 about when they were born.
11 A. Which nephews are you referring to? Because he has many nephews.
12 I know their names, but his nephews might be Kadri and Ali who joined the
13 ranks. But as I said, Haradin has many nephews.
14 Q. Well, I'm talking about the two, if you know, who joined the
15 ranks of the KLA. And if it was Kadri and Ali, could you tell me when
16 they were born?
17 A. Uh-huh, just a moment. I need to clarify things here because we
18 call nephews the children of our sisters or of the sisters of our
19 parents. And here you refer to his brother's son. In this case, it's
20 Agron and Jeton.
21 Q. And when were they born, please?
22 A. Agron could have been born in 1970, 1972, same generation as
23 Fatmir; while Jeton around 1972 -- 1977, correction.
24 Q. And who is their father, Agron and Jeton?
25 A. Haradin's oldest brother.
1 Q. And what's his name?
2 A. Hamdi.
3 Q. Thank you. Now, you've talked a little bit about how you helped
4 Haradin Bala. You took him to the doctor in 1993 and you've also loaned
5 him money for medical treatment at one stage, didn't you?
6 A. That's correct.
7 Q. You said you took Haradin Bala to the doctor in your car. Did
8 Haradin Bala have a car in the 1990s?
9 A. Haradin didn't have a car.
10 Q. Did he have a Lada in 1998 or use of a Lada in 1998?
11 A. His younger brothers used some cars, but Haradin did not have a
12 personal car. I'm not sure whether he had one, but as I said his
13 brothers used cars.
14 Q. You talked about Haradin Bala painting houses, working in the
15 building trade, and then being dismissed. That happened to lots of
16 people at this time, didn't they? Many Albanian men were dismissed from
17 their jobs.
18 A. Yes, that's true. Haradin remained without a job, and it is true
19 that he didn't have a job afterwards.
20 Q. And my point is that that was true of many men, whether they were
21 ill or not, had to work part-time jobs to survive?
22 A. The occupying system in Kosova was a social system. And to tell
23 you the truth, just a small number of Albanians could get employed within
24 this system. Even those who were employed in 1974 with the fall of the
25 constitution, the amendments, many Albanians lost their jobs and those
1 who got jobs actually, as I said, were small in number.
2 Q. Right. And after 1993, Haradin Bala did what he could to help
3 his family, didn't he, although he wasn't working regularly?
4 A. That is correct. And there's another truth, too. We citizens
5 helped them, relatives, nephews, uncles. Haradin was not in a situation
6 to work.
7 Q. Now, Haradin Bala was one of the people in Korretice who
8 organised a village defence guard in March of 1998. Correct?
9 A. Haradin was, but he was not part of the organising the defence.
10 Other villagers were part of the organisation. I can mention Sherif
11 Hoxha, Zymer Shabani, Mehmet Xharahi and some others.
12 Q. Right. But he was part of that original village defence guard?
13 A. As I said earlier, and I will repeat it, we were just observing
14 in the village. Our village comprises several neighbourhoods. We stood
15 guard duty in Bala neighbourhood. With him, I was in the same shift. We
16 would observe for two hours together, just in case anything happened, so
17 that we would be awake and not asleep as events in Prekaz and Likoshan
19 Q. And Haradin's older brother, Hamdi, did he join the KLA in 1998?
20 A. No, he didn't join. He lives in Switzerland and he was in
21 Switzerland for that time.
22 Q. For the entire war?
23 A. For the entire war he was in Switzerland.
24 Q. And Haradin Bala in May, as we've heard, took up his rifle to go
25 to Lapusnik when there was fighting there. I just want to be clear. Is
1 that something you just heard about or did you see him leaving to go to
3 A. As I said earlier, and I will repeat it, during the first battle
4 at Lapusnik, Haradin informed me and said to me he was going to see what
5 were the news there after the battle ended. I later on did not see
6 Haradin but I was informed by his brothers that he joined the KLA ranks.
7 Q. Thank you.
8 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Guy-Smith.
9 MR. GUY-SMITH:
10 Q. Thank you, Mr. Bala.
11 MR. GUY-SMITH: No further questions.
12 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Bala. You're now able to leave the
13 court and return to your home. The officer will show you out.
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you, and I greet you.
15 [The witness withdrew]
16 JUDGE PARKER: The next witness, Mr. Guy-Smith.
17 MR. GUY-SMITH: The next witness will be Dr. Fitim Selimi.
18 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
19 MR. GUY-SMITH: Excuse me, the next witness will be Fitim Selimi,
20 and Mr. Harvey will be examining him. We're trying to give you a bit of
22 [The witness entered court]
23 JUDGE PARKER: Good afternoon, Doctor. Would you please read
24 aloud the affirmation on the card that is given to you now.
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
2 JUDGE PARKER: Please sit down.
3 Mr. Harvey.
4 WITNESS: FITIM SELIMI
5 [Witness answered through interpreter]
6 Examined by Mr. Harvey:
7 Q. Good afternoon, Dr. Selimi.
8 A. Good afternoon.
9 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreters cannot here the witness.
10 MR. HARVEY:
11 Q. Can you state --
12 A. Fitim Selimi.
13 Q. If you could move a little bit closer. The interpreters are
14 having a little bit of difficulty hearing you speaking. Okay. Thanks
15 very much.
16 And you're a doctor of medicine?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Do you have a particular medical specialty?
19 A. Yes, I do.
20 Q. And what is that?
21 A. A thorax surgeon.
22 Q. Sorry, I'm just waiting for it to come up on the screen in front
23 of me.
24 And where did you study to obtain your medical qualifications?
25 A. I studied at the Pristina University Faculty of Medicine.
1 Q. And in which year did you qualify?
2 A. I completed my studies in 1993.
3 Q. When did you first begin at the university?
4 A. I began in 1980.
5 Q. Between 1980 and 1993, were your studies interrupted?
6 A. Yes, they were interrupted.
7 Q. And what caused that interruption?
8 A. My studies were interrupted due to the fact that there was a
9 situation which was for all other Albanians as well, and I was imprisoned
10 as well.
11 Q. For what offence were you sent to prison?
12 A. I was imprisoned on the basis of charges fabricated by the
13 Serbian regime, which was collaboration in ruining the sovereignty of the
14 Serbian state.
15 Q. Thank you. We have an approximate translation here, but I think
16 we can work with that. Do you know what articles of the constitution
17 you're alleged to have violated or what articles of the Penal Code?
18 A. We were working only for the freedom of our people. We didn't
19 violate any articles. We were accused under Article 136 of the Yugoslav
21 Q. And were you accused of any acts of violence at all?
22 A. No. We articulated our just demands as a people.
23 Q. And when did you get out of prison?
24 A. I got out of prison after two years, that is in 1988.
25 Q. Were you required to do military service?
1 A. You mean in the Yugoslav army?
2 Q. Yes, I do.
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. And when did you do your military service?
5 A. They forced me to do my military service in Karlovce by the end
6 of September, 1988.
7 Q. Is that in Croatia?
8 A. Yes, in Croatia -- 1988, correction, was the year of the military
10 Q. So you came out of prison in 1988. You went into the JNA. While
11 you were in the JNA, did you -- were you required to use your medical
12 skills in any way?
13 A. In conformity with my profession, I was profoundly discriminated
14 there. But after four months, reason prevailed, probably, and I was
15 engaged to work in the military clinic.
16 Q. When you came -- when did you come out of the military, which
17 month, if you remember?
18 A. After one year. It was September 1989.
19 Q. And did you return to the University of Pristina at that point?
20 A. I returned to my hometown.
21 Q. Was there a particular reason why you didn't go back to the
22 University of Pristina?
23 A. I wanted to go back to studies and I used to read a lot at home,
24 but at that time the university was closed down and all the cadres were
25 dismissed from work and so we had to take a pause.
1 Q. So you had to pursue your studies from home?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. During that period, were you politically active again?
4 A. Yes, yes, I was active.
5 Q. In which organisation or organisations?
6 A. In the beginning of the 1990s, I was involved in the political
7 organisation of the LDK.
8 Q. When did you pick up your studies again?
9 A. I picked up my studies again by the end of 1991.
10 Q. And you've told us that you graduated in 1993. That's correct,
11 is it?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. At that point, of course, you were qualified. Now, were you
14 permitted by the Serbian authorities to practice medicine in a public
15 hospital or any hospital or clinic under Serb control?
16 A. Yes. I was qualified. I was graduated in a school where
17 professors, well-known professors, taught. Now the situation changed.
18 Those professors, those cadres were working outside the institution.
19 They were conducting an independent activity in terms of education.
20 Q. And what did that mean in terms of your employability?
21 A. In terms of our employability, it meant that our diplomas were
22 not valid in Kosova.
23 Q. So where did you go to work?
24 A. We practiced our professions wherever we could, in our hometowns,
25 in various humanitarian institutions, and so on.
1 Q. And your hometown was where?
2 A. My hometown is Banulle, a village in the vicinity of Lipjan, a
3 small town, not far from Pristina.
4 Q. And did you operate a clinic or any form of medical practice from
5 your home in Banulle?
6 A. Yes. At various points of time I was active. I may say that I
7 was operating all the time from my home, caring for people who needed
8 medical help.
9 Q. You also mentioned that you could operate -- work with various
10 humanitarian institutions. Did you work -- did you work for any
11 humanitarian organisation?
12 A. Yes, yes. I worked for a time for Mother Teresa; it was a
13 charity organisation. And then for a time I was the director of the
14 International Red Cross branch in Lipjan.
15 Q. For how long did you work for the Mother Teresa organisation?
16 A. For two or three years in a row.
17 Q. So does that start in 1993 or when?
18 A. From the beginning of 1993 until 1997 with -- on and off I have
19 worked in these institutions.
20 Q. And when you were directing the Red Cross, was that the same
21 period of time?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Did you work with or give assistance to any international human
24 rights organisations during this period?
25 A. The situation where -- we were in was such that the only way to
1 give vent to our aspirations was through international institutions like
2 the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and others like that.
3 Q. Were there any local what you might call home-grown human rights
4 organisations in Kosovo at that time?
5 A. Yes, there were local organisations which tried to voice the
6 injustices committed against the Albanian population in Kosova during
7 that time, such as the Council for the Protection of Human Rights and
8 Freedoms, which I founded first and then directed for a period of time.
9 Q. Approximately when were you involved in the founding and
10 direction of that organisation?
11 A. The founding of that council was done in 1993, at the -- by the
12 end of 1993 with the initiate of Ademi Demaqi.
13 Q. Now, so far we've been talking largely the period from 1993 to
14 1997. Did a change come about in -- towards the end of 1997/beginning of
16 A. Yes. The situation in Kosova was deteriorating. For most of the
17 population, that was an unacceptable situation. People started to think
18 differently. The political entities that were formed and leading the
19 life of the people were losing their authority because of the passive
20 policy they were pursuing which led to the violation of the rights of the
21 Albanians. This led to many people fleeing Kosova. This was about --
22 the number was about 30 per cent of the most active and vital part of the
24 Q. Now, the Tribunal of course has heard a lot about the massacres
25 that occurred in March in 1998 in Drenica. Did those massacres have any
1 impact on your work and what you did with your life from that point
3 A. Certainly they did. We had to be or were those who had to take
4 the lead and articulate the demands of the people, trying to help, to
5 relieve the situation which was very grave for all of us.
6 Q. When you say "we," who do you mean by "we"?
7 A. I mean the Albanian people of Kosova.
8 Q. When you say "we had to take the lead," who took the lead?
9 A. I mean especially those people who had education, who were
10 trained for such days.
11 Q. This period -- let's talk of the period March through May of
12 1998, for example. What was the functioning of normal society in the
13 area in which you were living and working? In other words, to make the
14 question a bit clearer, perhaps: Were schools functioning normally?
15 Were people -- were people -- the elderly receiving pensions and state
16 payments? Were medical facilities functioning normally, or was it
18 A. Normality was beyond the question, not only during that period
19 but beginning from 1989 onwards. The educational institutions were not
20 functioning. The factories and the plants were not functioning. Neither
21 was health service. That the situation reached the worst point.
22 Q. How did people get food, clothing, medical supplies during this
23 period? Again, I'm talking now of March to May of 1998.
24 A. During that period the situation was very grave, especially for
25 people living in the zones involved in the conflicts. The only way to
1 survive for them was to get supplies from other parts of Kosova, thanks
2 to the self-organisation of the people in these areas.
3 Q. When -- when you mentioned that you were in Lipjan, is that one
4 of the areas that you are talking about as a zone involved in conflict?
5 A. The territory of Lipjan was an area where following the incessant
6 attacks in Drenica, a large number of people had left as refugees, in
7 Kroimire, Shale, Bajice, Fushtice villages. There were 1.400 people who
8 had come from other areas as a result of being suppressed and persecuted
10 Q. So you had an influx of refugees from Drenica?
11 A. Yes. There was a flux -- a large flux of refugees. Therefore,
12 we had to merge all the political efforts to set up a non-political body
13 that would operate to resolve the numerous problems facing us.
14 Q. And were you involved in setting up that body?
15 A. Yes, yes, I was. I was leading the health sector within the
16 emergency council; that was the structure -- a structure to deal with
17 emergency situations.
18 Q. Now, I can't help noticing that you've taken out a document of
19 some sort. Is that a document to which you need to refer for the
20 purposes of your testimony?
21 A. I have a document here which mentions the number of people who
22 were dismissed, who were maltreated in the police, and other such things.
23 If you think I might -- it's relevant for me to use it, I might submit
24 it. During this time, over 700.000 Albanians were maltreated by the
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 Q. [Previous translation continues]... that.
2 For the time being, I'm not -- since I don't know what the
3 document is, I don't particularly ask to see it. It may be that the
4 Prosecution may wish to look at it. But if you just put the documents on
5 one side for a moment, I -- let me just ask you this: You said that that
6 document, whatever it is, refers to numbers of people who have been
7 maltreated by the police.
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Were you involved in collect -- in treating people who had been
10 maltreated by the police or in collecting evidence from them at any
12 A. Yes, I was. During that time, we wanted to help all those people
13 who were maltreated in various ways. The Council for Human Rights and
14 Freedoms in Lipjan submitted to various bodies, international bodies and
15 organisation, a file with names and photos of the people who were
16 mistreated and maltreated. I was involved personally in that regard.
17 Q. I see. Well, I'm not seeking to put that before the Tribunal at
18 this stage, but that is work -- that's part of the work you were doing
19 with your humanitarian organisational work?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. And during what period of time were you collecting that evidence
22 of people's abuses?
23 A. They -- the evidence dates from 1981 onwards, including the
25 Q. I think you were telling us about the work that -- an
1 organisation that was created to deal with the refugees who came flooding
2 into the Lipjan municipality. Did that organisation have a name?
3 A. Yes. It wasn't exclusively created to treat refugee problems.
4 It was an organisation that was established due to the existing
5 circumstances which would be as an organisation in a situation to provide
6 assistance for refugees, soldiers, and all those who would be in motion
7 for the freedom. This was an emergency council which became functionable
8 by offering assistance not only to the civilian population but also to
9 the KLA army which had begun to have a more active role.
10 Q. When was this emergency council set up, if you remember?
11 A. It was set up in mid-March 1998.
12 Q. Was it set up by the KLA?
13 A. No, it was set up by the people. It included representatives of
14 different political bodies who, in a way, merged together. There were
15 members from the LDK, representatives of a finance council of the
16 municipality, of education council of the municipality, members of
17 parliamentary parties, and all other political and non-political bodies
18 that were active in Kosova at that time.
19 Q. And what did you personally do on behalf of the emergency
21 A. Having in mind the escalation of the situation, I specifically
22 dealt with collecting the material, equipment, and medicaments. Within
23 the framework of this emergency council, I worked in the health
25 Q. So when you speak of material and equipment, are you speaking of
1 health material and equipment or any other kind of health -- any other
2 kinds of equipment?
3 A. I mainly or exclusively speak of equipment and supplies, medical
4 equipment and supplies, that would be necessary for the treatment of the
5 population and the army at that time.
6 Q. Did there come a time when you yourself were invited to join the
8 A. Yes. I couldn't wait to join the KLA ranks, and this resulted in
9 an invitation that was given to me by my cousin, Shukri Buja, the son of
10 my uncle. He wanted to meet me. And on this meeting, he offered me the
11 possibility to get involved directly and help and provide assistance for
12 the KLA.
13 Q. Did Shukri Buja tell you what kinds of help and assistance the
14 KLA needed from you?
15 A. This perhaps needs a clarification.
16 Q. Please.
17 A. Bearing in mind the fact that the institutions had functioned in
18 a way until that time and as of then they had lost connections with their
19 base, the civilian population living in the zones where the KLA had
20 emerged did not have any help or assistance, including medical help.
21 Therefore, Shukri's initiative was for me to go there and, in a way, work
22 and engage myself in providing medical care for that population there.
23 Q. And where was -- where are we talking about?
24 A. We're talking about the zone covering some villages starting from
25 the village of Pjetershtice, Kroimire, Shale, Bajice, Klecke, and other
2 Q. And -- so what did you do, having joined the KLA at Shukri's
3 request and agreed to provide assistance? What did you do?
4 A. From that moment, I took care of everything that we had at our
5 disposal, material, supplies, equipments, to place those in zones where
6 there was a number, a significant number of KLA members, and put them in
7 the service of the population and the KLA.
8 Q. Were there medical facilities already established that you were
9 able to use or did you have to set them up afresh?
10 A. The existing institutions that -- until that time were
11 administered by the Serbian regime, as was the Shale outpatient clinic,
12 they were abandoned. And someone had to take over the administration of
13 these institutions. We were based in Shale, at Shale outpatient clinic.
14 From there we provided medical assistance to those who needed it.
15 Q. What you refer to as an outpatient clinic, or what at least has
16 been translated as an outpatient clinic, you use the word "ambulans," I
17 believe, in Albanian. Are we talking about something that is
18 sophisticated or what?
19 A. No. We are talking of improvisation that were imposed on us at
20 that time.
21 Q. From the -- oh, I don't think you've given us the date on which
22 you joined the KLA.
23 A. The date was 5th of May, 1998, and from this time onwards until
24 mid-June, maybe 10th or 15th of June, I was mainly working in
25 semi-illegality. During this period I moved from Shale to Lipjan and my
1 house. And in mid-June and onwards, I settled within the KLA ranks,
2 where I remained until the end of the war.
3 Q. So during -- dealing with the period 5th of May through 10th or
4 15th of June, as you were moving around, what were you doing? Were you
5 moving people? Were you moving medical supplies? What -- where were you
6 going, what were you doing?
7 A. During this time, we mainly collected and transported sanitary
8 equipment from another zone. In a way, it was a freedom of movement. So
9 from one zone to the zone of Drenica e Eperme, concretely in Shale.
10 Q. Drenica e Eperme, that means upper Drenica. Is that right?
11 A. I referred to those few Drenica villages that belonged to Lipjan
12 municipality, Kroimire, Shale, and Pjetershtice, which actually belongs
13 to Shtime municipality.
14 Q. Was Lapusnik one of the villages that you were responsible for
15 assisting in any way?
16 A. We did not have the possibility to do that. I was mainly
17 involved in Shale of Drenica.
18 Q. In Shale, you said you had your clinic there. Was -- well, just
19 dealing with this whole area of upper Drenica, was any -- was the KLA in
20 total control of that area? Were the Serbs in control of that area? Was
21 anyone in control of that area at that time? We're talking now really
22 May through July of 1998.
23 A. If it is clear to me what you mean by "controlled by," I can say
24 that the zone was controlled by the population that was there. The KLA
25 consisted of a small number of soldiers. On the other hand, the Serb
1 forces were controlling it from a distance, shelling it every day from
2 their positions such as Goles and other positions.
3 Q. So again, during this period of May through July, how safe was it
4 to travel around by car during that period in this region of upper
6 A. It wasn't safe to travel by car. The movements of citizens
7 mainly occurred at night.
8 Q. When you became more or less full time in Shale, if you had to
9 travel to some other location, let's say Nekovce, how would you travel?
10 A. Nekovce is not very far from Shale. Many had the opportunity
11 even to go there on foot but also by other vehicles such as tractors and
12 so on.
13 Q. What sort of road, path, track was there that you yourself would
14 use during that period?
15 A. The road from Shale to Nekovce is not an asphalt road, a muddy
16 one and full of other obstacles.
17 Q. What about the the road from Shale to Luzhnice?
18 A. I didn't go to Luznica at that time but it was also a very
19 difficult path, resembling other paths in that region.
20 When we talk about roads, at that time citizens were mobilised to
21 construct those roads because the movement in main roads was restricted.
22 People had to use mountain roads in order to be able to fulfil their
23 needs for food and clothes.
24 Q. I'm going to come now to Haradin Bala. Have you ever met Haradin
1 A. Which period are you referring to?
2 Q. At any time in your life have you ever met Haradin Bala?
3 A. I first met Haradin Bala during the time that I stayed in Shale.
4 In other words, the period from mid-June to the end of July. I met him
5 several times during this period.
6 Q. What happened at the end of July?
7 A. At the end of July, the situation was very difficult. The Serb
8 forces had undertaken an offensive against a large number of villages and
9 buildings in that area.
10 Q. And so what happened to your clinic in Shale at the end of July?
11 A. The clinic in Shale, due to the penetration of Serbian forces in
12 that area, was burned, as were other houses in Shale village. So we were
13 forced to leave the clinic and continue with our activity in the
14 mountains, that is to provide medical help wherever it was needed.
15 Q. Do you recall approximately the date on which you left the clinic
16 in Shale?
17 A. The date when I left the clinic in Shale is easy to remember
18 because of the developments. On this very date, several positions manned
19 by KLA soldiers fell as well. It was the 25th or 26th of July.
20 Q. And let's just deal with the week leading up to that, the week
21 leading up to and ending with the 25th and 26th of July. Where -- do you
22 recall now where you were during that week?
23 A. During that week, I was in Shale.
24 Q. Did you leave Shale for any reason, as far as you recall, that
1 A. I don't remember, but I don't think so because we had a very
2 large number of patients who needed medical care. The number of doctors
3 was very small; it was only me and two other colleagues. Some of them
4 were engaged in Kroimire, in Pjetershtice. Therefore, during this period
5 I was pretty much linked to Shale.
6 Q. When you left the clinic, did you leave normally or did you leave
7 in a hurry?
8 A. It was recommended by soldiers, colleagues from the KLA, that the
9 population left the buildings because several KLA positions had fallen
10 and there was a possibility for the worst to happen. So the message was
11 for us to leave the buildings and to flee to the mountains where a number
12 of soldiers would later position as well in order to defend the
13 population in those areas.
14 Q. And when you say "necessary for us to leave," is that every
15 living person in Shale or just you in the clinic or what?
16 A. This goes for the entire population, because at that time these
17 buildings were being targeted from distance. The Serb forces were
18 shelling these buildings and therefore the population was forced to take
19 up to the mountains in order to shelter themselves.
20 Q. I don't know if you can describe for us what that was like at the
21 time, but did people just get up, pack their suitcases, and walk in an
22 orderly fashion, or what did they do?
23 A. During that period, I may tell you that we were the last to leave
24 because we had many injured to take care of because of the shelling. The
25 number of injured people was great. They were put on the trailers. It
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 happened that the shells fell on the trailers of the tractors, and many
2 were wounded, including children and women. So there was total chaos and
3 panic. The citizens were running with children, women trying to get with
4 them from their homes various items like flour or other food supplies
5 which they needed for their life -- for living in the mountains.
6 Q. In those circumstances, were you able to take all of your medical
7 supplies with you?
8 A. Not -- yes, but not all of them. Since you are asking me, I
9 remember very well that I left behind a microscope and it was destroyed
10 precisely in the place where we were taking care of the patients.
11 Q. Were you able to take with you any medical records that you had
12 been keeping of your treatment of patients in that clinic while you were
13 in Shale?
14 A. No. Maybe some notes we could take with us, but the main
15 records, medical records - and we did have plenty of them - we didn't
16 manage to get them with us. I left behind a number of books. There was
17 a book on surgery, infectious surgery and other books. I left them all
19 Q. Now, you have mentioned that you treated -- or you saw Haradin
20 Bala in Shale between the middle of June and the end of July.
21 Approximately how many times do you recall seeing him during that period?
22 A. The number of visits that Mr. Bala had in our clinic was large
23 because he had frequent complaints with his health. Maybe he came about
24 ten times during that period or even more.
25 Q. And was that spread out throughout the period of mid-June to the
1 end of July or was it a concentrated number of visits during a shorter
2 part of that period, if you understand my question?
3 A. I have the impression that the number of visits was spread out
4 from the mid-June until the time when the panic broke out, as I told you
5 earlier. I don't remember the exact dates when he came for a visit, but
6 I know that he came often during all that period.
7 Q. So if we're talking of from mid-June through until the 25th or
8 26th of June, we're talking of a period of something like six or seven
9 weeks. That's not really a leading question; it's just a simple fact.
10 So you're saying about ten times over that period of time?
11 MR. HARVEY: I don't think it's a leading question.
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
13 MR. HARVEY:
14 Q. Sorry, did I answer my own leading question? I probably did. In
15 that case, I'll move on.
16 A. Yes, that was it.
17 Q. You told the Tribunal that you remember Haradin Bala. After
18 treating him those up to ten times, when did you next see him and in what
20 A. Hadn't I seen Haradin Bala on television when this process
21 started, I don't know when I would see him. That was the first time
22 after that period when I saw him on television.
23 Q. What was your reaction when you saw him on television?
24 A. I didn't have any particular reaction. I just recalled the
25 patient [realtime transcript read in error: "passion"] who for me was a
1 special one, because it was very rarely or not at all for me at that time
2 to see KLA soldiers come and ask for my assistance on reasons of their
4 Q. You say "on reasons of their health," other than injury caused by
5 being in the war, you mean reasons of bad health. Is that what you're
7 A. Yes. Usually the soldiers of the KLA in most cases when they
8 came to ask for assistance, they wanted to be treated for wounds,
9 injuries they inflicted on them during military exercises, that is during
10 combats with the Serb forces.
11 MR. HARVEY: Your Honours, I'm about to pass to the specific
12 complaints for which the Dr. Selimi treated Mr. Bala, so this might be a
13 convenient moment to break if it's convenient to the Court.
14 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Harvey. We will resume at 10
15 minutes to 6.00.
16 MR. NICHOLLS: Sorry.
17 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Nicholls.
18 MR. NICHOLLS: Correction to the transcript I think. Line 19 it
19 says he recalled the passion -- person or patient I think it was.
20 MR. HARVEY: Yes.
21 MR. GUY-SMITH: We note the passion, but I --
22 JUDGE PARKER: I made the correction automatically, but I'm glad
23 to be corrected.
24 Doctor, we have to have a break now for the tapes to change. We
25 will resume at 10 minutes to 6.00.
1 --- Recess taken at 5.30 p.m.
2 --- On resuming at 5.53 p.m.
3 JUDGE PARKER: Yes, Mr. Harvey.
4 MR. HARVEY: Thank you.
5 Q. Doctor, when Haradin Bala came to your clinic in June and July of
6 1998, what medical complaints was he suffering?
7 A. Haradin, as I said, had a peculiar health problem. He complained
8 of pain in his chest. He felt weak and tired. It was a general weak
10 Q. Had you conducted an examination of him on those occasions?
11 A. Yes. The medical visit consisted of hearing with a stethoscope
12 his heartbeats. We didn't have better equipment to diagnose his health
13 condition, other than hearing his pulse and his beats. At the same time
14 I used to take notes for his medical history, take notes of his problems,
15 whether they were recent or earlier ones. At the same time, I found out
16 that he was taking medicaments for that problem.
17 Q. Do you recall as you sit here today whether when he gave you his
18 medical history he told you of any long-standing problems?
19 A. Yes. He told me that he had long-standing problems and that when
20 he felt these attacks, he used some medicaments which he showed me. He
21 had the medicine with him which he used now and again when he had the
23 Q. What was that medicine?
24 A. He had nitroglycerine tablets that he used when he had pain in
25 his chest.
1 Q. What are nitroglycerine tablets generally used for in the medical
3 A. As a doctor, apart from the clinical symptoms and Mr. Bala's
4 complaints, the explanations he gave me about his medical history, seeing
5 nitroglycerine tablets I realised that he felt pains of the -- related to
6 angina pectoris, which consist of the narrowing of the veins which do not
7 allow the heart muscle to function properly and this results [as
8 interpreted] to other problems.
9 Q. What effect does nitroglycerine have on constricted veins?
10 A. Usually the symptoms that I noted in this patient, in this case
11 Mr. Bala, show that his blood vessels had constricted. And usually the
12 symptoms last up to ten minutes after which the patient either feels
13 better or -- after ten minutes or if he uses nitroglycerine he will feel
14 better earlier because the nitroglycerine extends the blood vessels that
15 are constricted. Usually the blood vessels are constricted up to 50 to
16 80 per cent of their capacity and the nitroglycerine expands them.
17 Q. And in conducting a physical examination of him, were there any
18 other physical conditions that you noticed about him?
19 A. He was always weak, I mean in terms of his general condition. He
20 could hardly move, could hardly breathe. He has a sort of dyspnoea or a
21 difficult breathing that usually results from that condition. All these
22 symptoms led to insufficiency of the heart muscles. The angina leads to
23 insufficiency. I wasn't in a position at that time with the few
24 appliances and equipment at that time to determine the level of his
1 Q. During that period of June to July of 1998, did you treat any
2 other KLA soldiers for heart conditions?
3 A. No, no. As I said earlier, usually the soldiers came to me for
4 injuries and wounds, but not for heart diseases. I didn't have any other
5 patient suffering from heart disease.
6 Q. Again, that word is "patient." Thank you.
7 The fact that he was a serving soldier at that time, did you make
8 any recommendations regarding the duties that it was appropriate for him
9 to perform?
10 A. In such cases, when soldiers were incapable of performing their
11 daily activities, we used to give recommendations. I'm not sure whether
12 I gave him oral or written recommendations in this case. I remember that
13 I recommended that Mr. Bala be involved in slight physical exercises
14 which would save him overexertion because I had, in view of his health
15 condition, I thought that maybe he should leave the army altogether
16 because of that condition.
17 Q. Do you recall in June and July how warm the weather was at that
18 time of year in 1998?
19 A. Usually July in our area is a very hot period. It is the peak of
20 hot weather. The temperature, I cannot give you the exact temperature in
21 grades, but usually it reaches up to 30, 35 Celsius.
22 Q. And do you remember whether that was the case, in fact, in that
23 summer as opposed to in general?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Are you familiar with the terrain of the Berisa Mountains?
1 A. Yes, yes, I do.
2 Q. You of course -- I think you told us you sought refuge there with
3 the many hundreds, if not thousands, of other refugees from the area that
4 you were in?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. How would you describe that terrain from the point of view of
7 which ease a person could walk over that ground?
8 A. In general, the terrain is a rugged terrain with hills, with some
9 sharp peaks, with paths -- narrow paths and tracks which are very hard to
10 go through. It was very difficult for me until I could find my way about
11 that area because it is very difficult terrain.
12 Q. You found it difficult for yourself?
13 A. Yes, certainly.
14 Q. How would you describe your state of health in the summer of
16 A. I was in very good condition.
17 Q. For somebody in Mr. Bala's condition, bearing in mind his health,
18 that terrain, and that heat, what is your view of the likely impact on
19 him, medically speaking, of having to take, let us say, a walk of some 2,
20 3, 4 kilometres through the mountains?
21 A. Such a health condition as that of Mr. Bala implies that in such
22 circumstances the patient had to avoid extreme temperature, overexertion,
23 especially of the type that was required there. The condition, the
24 terrain would make his condition worse. This is why I recommended to him
25 to go for treatment to some specialised institution and maybe even to
1 leave, as I said, to be released from the army.
2 Q. Thank you. Would you remain there please, Doctor, there will be
3 some more questions for you.
4 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Mansfield.
5 MR. MANSFIELD: Yes, thank you. No questions.
6 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Topolski.
7 MR. TOPOLSKI: No, thank you.
8 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Nicholls.
9 Cross-examined by Mr. Nicholls:
10 Q. Good afternoon Doctor, or good evening. Could you tell me first
11 of all how often you met with Mr. Bala's Defence team in this case - this
12 is just some preliminary questions - prior to your testifying today.
13 A. With Mr. Bala's Defence team I met twice prior to my testifying
15 Q. And was that in Kosovo?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. And did you also meet with them when you arrived here in The
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that but you
21 discussed -- they told you about the way things would go in court, where
22 you would sit, and about the way -- the questions that would be asked and
23 what you would testify to?
24 A. No. I once said before the lawyers, I repeated my statement that
25 I gave them earlier.
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 Q. All right. So you gave a statement in Kosovo and then you went
2 over that statement here in The Hague?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. To make sure that your answers about Mr. Bala and what you've
5 testified to here today were complete?
6 A. Yes, correct.
7 Q. And as accurate as you could be according to your memory?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Now, you joined the KLA 5th of May, 1998, in Lipjan, and that was
10 through Shukri Buja, your relative? You need to answer verbally. You're
11 shaking your head.
12 A. Yes, correct.
13 Q. And were you in contact at that time with Ram Buja as well?
14 A. No. At that time I wasn't in contact with Ram Buja.
15 Q. Did you -- and that's Shukri Buja's brother?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Who is also a relative of yours?
18 A. Yes. They are brothers and, as I said, they are the sons of my
20 Q. Were you in contact with Ram Buja in June and July of 1998? Did
21 you talk to him at all?
22 A. I think I didn't contact Ram Buja. I did contact Shukri. As for
23 Ram, I contacted him later on, after September.
24 Q. Where did you -- how did you contact Shukri Buja in June and July
25 1998? Where did you talk to him?
1 A. I met Shukri in May. The first meeting occurred in May and after
2 that I met him every now and then in Shale. He had other duties as well
3 and therefore I could only see him from time to time at the outpatient
4 clinic in Shale.
5 Q. And when you joined the KLA, it was on an invitation, I think is
6 the way it was put, from Shukri Buja. Correct?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. Did you invite anybody to join the KLA or propose to anybody that
9 they also ought to join as a solution to Kosovo's problems?
10 A. During this time, of course I asked for assistance from other
11 people to help me in collecting supplies and to bring me everything that
12 had to do with logistics, to help me carry out my duties in my sector.
13 Q. Okay. So if I understand as part of that, to carry those duties
14 and accomplish those tasks, you would ask others to join you and to join
15 the KLA?
16 A. Either to join the KLA or help the KLA, based on their
18 Q. You talked about your background and how there was difficulty in
19 medical school for you studying because of the persecution from the Serb
20 regime. I think you need to speak up just a little bit, please.
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. And while you were studying at that time when you finished I
23 think you said in 1993, something like that, you were studying for
24 general medicine. Is that right?
25 A. Yes, that's correct.
1 Q. So you learned your specialty that you now work in after the war?
2 You trained for this -- your specialty in thoracic surgery?
3 A. Yes, I specialised -- I began with my specialisation after the
4 war and I completed it two years ago.
5 Q. Thank you.
6 And at the time in Shale in your clinic, you've described that as
7 an improvised clinic or hospital.
8 A. Yes, that's how it was.
9 Q. Nothing like where you work now in Pristina.
10 A. Not at all.
11 Q. At that clinic, did you have any computerised tools and equipment
12 to help you with diagnosis?
13 A. No, except for manual equipment like stethoscope and the
14 equipment for measuring the blood pressure.
15 Q. Right. That's what I mean is you couldn't perform
16 electrocardiograms, things like that?
17 A. No, not at all.
18 Q. And you couldn't -- I may mispronounce these even in English.
19 You couldn't perform coronary angiography or arteriography, where the --
20 you understand me. That was impossible?
21 A. Right. It wasn't possible.
22 Q. And you couldn't do any computerised exercise stress test to
23 measure the functioning of the heart?
24 A. No.
25 Q. So if I understood you correctly then, when Mr. Bala -- when Mr.
1 Bala visited you, what name did you know him by, by his pseudonym or by
2 his -- by Haradin Bala?
3 A. Well, when he introduced himself, I think in our notes we
4 recorded persons with their names and last names. I'm sure that he
5 introduced himself with his full name.
6 Q. And my understanding then is when he came in you would listen to
7 his heart with a stethoscope and perhaps take his blood pressure. Right?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. And he had nitroglycerine pills and you used the medication he
10 had to work back to what the problem must be?
11 A. Yes. He informed me that in such situations he took the
12 nitroglycerine pill.
13 Q. Right. And he wasn't able to provide you with a stack of medical
14 records and x-rays, was he, for you to review?
15 A. This situation occurred many times. During all these visits, I
16 created a full impression about Mr. Bala and I recommended him that he
17 should do all the examinations in proper institutions regarding this
18 health issue. Everything that I determined as a doctor was based on what
19 he told me and based on his history, medical history.
20 Q. Well, my question is: Did you have a full written medical
21 history to refer to when you first met him or did you just rely on what
22 he told you his medical history was?
23 A. I mainly relied on what he told me and on what my possibilities
24 were at that time in order to make that opinion.
25 Q. And you said you referred to him, if possible, to go to
1 better-equipped places, hospitals, where they would be able to provide
2 him with better tests and perhaps other medication because you couldn't
3 do that?
4 A. Yes, that's correct.
5 Q. It sounds to me from your testimony like every visit from Mr.
6 Bala was pretty close to identical. You would see him, he would complain
7 about some pain, you would observe him, and then send him on his way; you
8 couldn't really help him, could you?
9 A. He was convinced to remain in the KLA ranks. At times, I offered
10 him pills that he lacked. On some occasions, he came to collect
11 nitroglycerine pills which he later used.
12 Q. And despite any of your recommendations, he was determined to
13 remain in the KLA?
14 A. I did not find out about his determination from his statement,
15 but I saw it in the fact that he did not seek for help anywhere else.
16 Q. Have you followed this trial since it began in the press back
17 home or on television or the Internet?
18 A. Yes, from time to time but not on regular basis, only when I can
19 follow it.
20 Q. Can you tell us where a Gajrak hospital was near Malisevo
21 somewhere. Are you aware of a hospital with that name or another clinic?
22 A. Yes. It existed during the war in municipality of Malisheve,
23 however I didn't go there. I know that a colleague of mine, a doctor, a
24 urologist Agim Hazrolli was his name. He worked there.
25 Q. Were you aware in 1998 when Haradin Bala came to visit you that
1 he was a smoker?
2 A. I don't remember whether he was a smoker or not, but I
3 recommended that he should not smoke.
4 Q. Because for somebody with a heart condition who is a smoker, the
5 single most effective thing they can do on their own is to stop smoking
6 to improve their health. Correct?
7 A. It's one of the measures that should be undertaken. I don't
8 remember discussing the smoking issue. But however, we discussed all the
9 measures that he had to undertake in order to improve his condition.
10 Q. Right. But if you had a patient now, not Haradin Bala, visit
11 you, somebody with a serious heart condition and they smoked two packs a
12 day and told you that they had no intention of quitting, you would think
13 that that person wasn't very concerned about their health, wouldn't you?
14 A. I have many patients to whom I recommend not to smoke. My father
15 died two months ago. He was in a very difficult health and insisted on
16 smoking a cigarette. I didn't try to convince him not to do that. I
17 allowed him to smoke because he was living his last hours. It's very
18 difficult to convince patients.
19 Q. That doesn't completely answer my question. If you have a
20 patient who's a heavy smoker with a heart problem, if that person refuses
21 to even try to stop smoking, you would consider them non-compliant with
22 your medical recommendations. Right?
23 A. No, that's not what I think.
24 Q. Somebody who has no intention of stopping smoking when they've
25 been told by their doctor that they ought to and they've got a heart
1 problem, that person is -- you don't consider that somebody who is not
2 complying with their doctor's recommendations?
3 A. I see this person as a person who is not complying with doctor's
4 recommendations, but not as a person who doesn't look after his health.
5 Q. Okay. But that's somebody who's ignoring a known risk to their
6 health by continuing to smoke.
7 A. It could be so and many of our patients have a passion for
9 Q. The reason I asked you earlier about how often you met with the
10 Defence and what told you them is that they provide us with a summary of
11 what you are going to testify to, which is based on their meetings with
12 you. The summary we've received states that when Haradin Bala visited
13 your clinic, it was approximately once every week during the time that
14 you saw him.
15 A. Approximately. I don't know how many times exactly, but
17 Q. Well, Mr. Harvey pointed out that it was about a seven-week
18 period. Now, do you think you saw him seven times, ten times, or you
19 don't remember?
20 A. I don't remember exactly whether it was seven, eight, or ten
21 times, but I remember it was frequently. Every week he came once or even
22 more times.
23 Q. Now, during -- let me ask you now about the 18th of July, 1998.
24 I don't suppose you do, but do you remember where you were, what you were
25 doing on that date?
1 A. Which date?
2 Q. The 18th of July, 1998.
3 A. I don't remember, but considering the fact that I was in Shale
4 most of the time, I must have been in Shale on this day because I didn't
5 leave Shale during this period.
6 Q. Do you remember meeting a man named Ismail Berbatovci on or about
7 that date?
8 A. No.
9 Q. You remember that name, don't you?
10 A. Yes, I do remember the name.
11 Q. Do you know who he is?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. He was a journalist?
14 A. Yes, he was.
15 Q. Now, you don't recall meeting him at all when he came to Blinaje
16 to try to interview Ram Buja on that date, 18th of July?
17 A. No. I wasn't in Blinaje during this time.
18 Q. You don't remember talking to him at all about coming back to
19 complete the interview on a later date because Ram wasn't there?
20 A. No.
21 Q. Well, you know that on the 23rd of July, Ismail went -- had an
22 appointment and went to meet Ram Buja. Do you remember that?
23 A. No, I don't remember.
24 Q. Well, you know that on about that date he disappeared and has
25 never been seen again by his wife and children while he was on the way to
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 interview Ram Buja?
2 A. No. I don't know about this case that you're mentioning.
3 Q. You don't know about it at all? You don't know that he
4 disappeared in July?
5 A. Let me explain, if possible. When the war ended, I heard that
6 Ismail Berbatovci was on the list of missing persons, that is to say of
7 persons who never returned back to their homes.
8 Q. You don't remember talking -- sending a message to his family on
9 the 24th of July saying that he was being held by the KLA for questioning
10 but he'd be released soon? Think hard.
11 A. Never, never.
12 Q. Did you ever meet his wife?
13 A. No.
14 Q. You never met her and told her he was taken by the KLA but there
15 was nothing you could do?
16 A. I never spoke with her about this issue.
17 Q. Well, you know he's on the list of missing persons. You also
18 know he's never come off that list; he's still missing, isn't he?
19 A. Well, I haven't seen him, considering the fact that he was an
20 activist before the war as well and we carried out some activities
21 together. But after the war, I didn't see him.
22 Q. And you don't know that he was one of the people taken by the KLA
23 in July 1998 who's never been seen again?
24 A. No, I don't know about him.
25 Q. Was your pseudonym "Doctor" at this time? Did you have a
2 A. Excuse me?
3 Q. Did you have a KLA pseudonym at this time?
4 A. No, I didn't have a pseudonym, but people usually referred to me
5 as a doctor, not as a pseudonym but as my profession.
6 Q. Well, based on your contacts with the KLA at that time with
7 Shukri Buja and the other people you were working with, you know, don't
8 you, in July 1998 the KLA was kidnapping and holding people prisoner?
9 A. I never knew about such activities.
10 MR. NICHOLLS: Nothing further.
11 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Harvey.
12 Re-examined by Mr. Harvey:
13 Q. Just this, Doctor: You've just been asked a series of questions
14 concerning violations, effectively, of the Geneva Conventions. Were you
15 familiar with the Geneva Conventions?
16 A. I have read these conventions, especially the convention on war
17 prisoners, the convention on the conduct towards civilians dating --
18 dating to 1949 and approved in 1950. I have known these conventions as a
19 member and a director of the International Red Cross.
20 Q. And did there come a time when you provided any specific
21 recommendations or regulations to be adopted by the KLA in respect of the
22 Geneva Conventions?
23 A. Yes. Not specifically linked with the Geneva Convention or some
24 particular convention, but in relation to the health activity in the
25 ranks of the KLA. I did that by December and I prepared rules in
1 December 1998, which I submitted for approval to the General Staff then.
2 Q. Finally, you were asked about the physical examinations that you
3 conducted of Haradin Bala. Were there any other physical manifestations
4 of the face or any other part of the anatomy that confirmed your concern
5 that he was genuinely suffering from a serious heart condition, any other
6 matters that you haven't mentioned to far?
7 MR. NICHOLLS: Well, Your Honour, they're almost done, but I
8 don't think that's something that's proper. That's something you think
9 would have been brought out on the direct.
10 JUDGE PARKER: Carry on, Mr. Harvey.
11 MR. HARVEY: I'm sorry, Your Honour, I was distracted for a
12 second. I can carry on? With the microphone on. I should do this more
14 Q. Yes, Doctor, were there any other physical manifestations?
15 A. I remember from the frequent visits of Mr. Bala that based on all
16 the symptoms, physical and clinical symptoms, I noted that he was
17 suffering from some serious health condition. He showed manifestations
18 because I didn't have other possibilities to confirm his symptoms, other
19 than what I could with the means I had at my disposal. His lips were
20 bluish. His general condition was such that he suffered from a heart
22 Q. What do bluish lips indicate?
23 A. The bluish lips are an indication of a phase where due to the
24 constriction of the coronaries, the patient is going towards heart
25 insufficiency. That is, the heart cannot supply with oxygenated blood,
1 the periferic [as interpreted] nerves. This shows that he was at the
2 initial phase of heart insufficiency. All the symptoms that I mentioned
3 suggested to me this. This is why I told him to ask for more specialised
5 MR. HARVEY: [Previous translation continues]...
6 JUDGE PARKER: Doctor, thank you very much. That concludes the
7 questions that are to be asked of you, so you may now return to your home
8 and practice. Thank you for your assistance.
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
10 [The witness withdrew]
11 JUDGE PARKER: Your next witness, Mr. Guy-Smith.
12 MR. GUY-SMITH: If we might ask for the Chamber's indulgence. We
13 have another witness who is on standby, but apparently is not in the
15 JUDGE PARKER: You think tomorrow at 2.15?
16 MR. GUY-SMITH: I think tomorrow at 2.15 and we will have more
17 than enough witnesses to fill the day. We have -- one witness apparently
18 did not get on a plane but they will be here in due course, so we will be
19 able to fill out the day.
20 [Trial Chamber and registrar confer]
21 MR. GUY-SMITH: So I would suggest --
22 JUDGE PARKER: We are told a third witness has arrived.
23 MR. GUY-SMITH: Perfect. Well, then I would -- I would be more
24 than happy to use the time.
25 JUDGE PARKER: That's Mr. Bylykbashi, is it?
1 MR. GUY-SMITH: That would be Skender Bylykbashi, yes.
2 [The witness entered court]
3 JUDGE PARKER: Good afternoon, sir. Would you please read aloud
4 the affirmation on the card that is given to you now.
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will
6 speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
7 JUDGE PARKER: Please sit down.
8 Mr. Guy-Smith.
9 WITNESS: SKENDER BYLYKBASHI
10 [Witness answered through interpreter]
11 Examined by Mr. Guy-Smith:
12 Q. Good evening.
13 A. Good evening.
14 Q. Where do you presently live, sir?
15 A. I live in Bajice village, in Lipjan municipality.
16 Q. And how long have you lived there?
17 A. I have lived there for about 20 years.
18 Q. Are you presently employed?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. What do you do for a job, sir?
21 A. I work at the post office, responsible for legal affairs.
22 Q. When you say that you're responsible for legal affairs, what kind
23 of legal affairs are you responsible for, sir?
24 A. Related mostly to ownership. That is, I deal with complaints
25 related to properties of the post office.
1 Q. Are you a lawyer?
2 A. Yes, I am a lawyer. I have graduated for law.
3 Q. And when you say that you "have graduated for law," are you an
4 individual who practices in a courtroom such as this or are your efforts
5 in another area?
6 A. I am a lawyer by profession. I am a general lawyer or jurist. I
7 deal with legal representation up to a certain level in the courts.
8 Q. I want to ask you if you know Haradin Bala.
9 A. Yes, I know him well.
10 Q. And when did you first meet him?
11 A. I first met him sometime in the middle of June or July. I am not
12 certain about the day, in the year 1998.
13 Q. At the time that you met him in the middle of June or July in
14 1998, where were you?
15 A. I was in Bajice village, now as called Bajice.
16 Q. And how did you meet him? How did that come about, if you could
17 tell us.
18 A. At that time I was active in the organisation of the village
19 because of the very difficult situation prevailing and Haradin had
20 brought flour for his family.
21 Q. When you say "Haradin had brought flour for his family," what
22 family had Haradin brought flour for?
23 A. His narrow family, that is the family of the brother of his wife,
24 who lives in the same village as me.
25 Q. And when you met him you said that there was some -- it was "a
1 difficult situation." At that point in time, were you a part of any
2 fighting group or organisation?
3 A. Not yet, but I was active in the organisation of the guards'
4 shifts because we villagers organised ourselves. We wanted to observe
5 the movements of the Serb military and police forces.
6 Q. Were you a member of the KLA during that period of time in June
7 and July 1998?
8 A. No, because I didn't have a weapon, but I had already expressed
9 my desire to become a member. But I was waiting for a weapon.
10 Q. Did there come a time when you did, in fact, become a member of
11 the KLA?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. When was that, sir?
14 A. That was during the day of the beginning of the great offensive
15 against the Lapusnik gorge on the 26th of July, 1998.
16 Q. Before the offensive of July 26th, 1998, can you tell us, if you
17 recall, about how many times you saw Haradin Bala in your village?
18 A. I may have seen him four or five times; I cannot be sure because
19 I know I have seen him later as well.
20 Q. When you say you saw him later as well, when would that have
22 A. I have seen him after the offensive when we started to
23 re-organise ourselves and ever since we were almost together because we
24 served in the same point.
25 Q. Before the offensive of July 26th when you saw him, did you have
1 an opportunity to take stock of how he looked in any fashion?
2 A. Yes. I could take stock of how he looked because I was, myself,
3 surprised at the way he was holding his weapon. He looked older than the
4 other members or the other people who wanted to become members.
5 Q. When you say you were surprised, why were you surprised?
6 A. Because he seemed rather pale, tired, he had shadows under his
7 eyes. He had a pallid look, he seemed to have bad health.
8 Q. Did you ever have any conversation with him concerning his health
9 at all?
10 A. I don't remember whether it was the first or the second time that
11 I met him, but I know when he brought the flour I wanted to know where he
12 got the flour from and I asked him, Where did you get it, the flour, how
13 could you bring it here? He told me that he was working in Luzhnice, he
14 was staying in Luzhnice serving in the storage there.
15 Q. Why were you --
16 A. The warehouse there.
17 Q. Why were you interested in flour, sir?
18 A. Because at that time it was not easy for us to find food supplies
19 because our territory was surrounded by enemy forces and our movements
20 were very limited. That's why I was eager to know about anything which
21 was unusual in those circumstances.
22 Q. Now, during that period of time - and once again I'm referring to
23 the period in June and July when you saw him in Bajice - could you tell
24 us when you did see him for how long a period of time you saw him? Did
25 you see him for a quick minute, spend time with him, days, hours,
1 minutes, or even seconds?
2 A. Now, I think our conversation -- our meeting lasted as long as
3 the conversation I referred to about last. I cannot tell you how many
4 minutes it lasted.
5 Q. Apart from the conversation that you had with him, did you have a
6 chance to see him in the village itself during the period of time after
7 you spoke with him or before you spoke with him?
8 A. I think I told you to my recollection I have seen him four or
9 five times, but during the other times we had talked with each other
10 less. That was a time we spoke more, that I mentioned, but I've seen him
11 on other occasions, too.
12 Q. And on the other occasions when you saw him, I take it those were
13 times when you did not speak with him but you saw him in your village.
14 Is that a fair statement?
15 A. Yes, that's fair.
16 Q. Thank you. Please wait there.
17 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Mansfield.
18 MR. MANSFIELD: No questions, thank you.
19 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Topolski?
20 MR. TOPOLSKI: No.
21 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Whiting.
22 Cross-examined by Mr. Whiting:
23 Q. Mr. Bylykbashi, I hope I've pronounced your name correctly, my
24 name is Alex Whiting; I'm one of the Prosecutors in this case. You
25 testified that you served with Haradin Bala at the same point after the
1 26th of July, 1998.
2 A. That's correct.
3 Q. Where was that?
4 A. In the beginning it was at Bajice gorge.
5 Q. How long were you serving at Bajice gorge?
6 A. To my recollection, I served for two or three weeks.
7 Q. And Haradin Bala was there during those two or three weeks?
8 A. Yes, he was with us.
9 Q. Where did you go after those two or three weeks?
10 A. After those two or three weeks, we went down to the village. It
11 was a very difficult situation after the offensive. And for two or three
12 weeks, as I remember, we didn't expose ourselves. We stayed at two or
13 three different positions and the co-villagers brought us food.
14 Q. When you say you went down to the village, is that the village of
16 A. Yes, the village of Bajince.
17 Q. And just to be clear, I think you addressed this, but just to be
18 clear, it's now known as Bajince but during the war it was known as
20 A. Bajice it was during war and now it's Baiz, B-a-i-z.
21 Q. So during the war it was Bajice or Bajince?
22 A. I didn't show any particular interest in that. We called it
23 Bajice, some others might have called it Bajince. With us the problem is
24 that in the village we call it as we call it, the municipalities called
25 it as they thought was the correct way to call it, and the occupier had
1 his own purpose in calling it.
2 Q. I understand. Now, when you went down to the village for two or
3 three weeks, was -- and you said you stayed in different positions -- two
4 or three different positions, was Haradin Bala still with you?
5 A. He was there throughout that time. I wasn't alone. In the
6 beginning we were 12 or 13 as far as I remember. We stayed in small
7 groups. Sometimes we stayed all together and sometimes we spread in to
8 groups of four, five, or six.
9 Q. And at the end of that period of two or three weeks, where did
10 you go?
11 A. Inside the village. We concentrated in village houses.
12 Q. Is this still the village of Bajice?
13 A. Yes. I'm always referring to Bajince, as far as this period is
15 Q. Did there come a time when you left Bajice?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. When was that?
18 A. Sometime after the new year. We spent the New Year's Eve in
19 Bajince and then the entire group went to Zabel i Ulet or correction
20 Zabel i Nalte.
21 Q. Did Haradin Bala stay with you that entire time in in Bajince
22 until you left new year's -- after New Year's Eve?
23 A. Yes, he stayed with us through the entire time. He was with us
24 even after the New Year's Eve in Zabel.
25 Q. Where is Zabel?
1 A. Zabel is a small place south of Komorane village, correction,
2 east of Komorane village.
3 Q. Approximately how far east?
4 A. I believe 2 kilometres far east, not further.
5 Q. What were you doing in Zabel? Were you still with the KLA?
6 A. Yes. I was a soldier.
7 Q. And what were your duties?
8 A. In the beginning, meaning right after the new year, I in fact was
9 the leader of the group that was there.
10 Q. What were Haradin Bala's duties?
11 A. Haradin Bala's task was to observe from a guestroom with
12 binoculars the movement of the enemy because there was the main road
13 Peja-Prishtine, and his task was to observe the movements of the enemy
14 and to see how many vehicles were moving in both directions.
15 MR. WHITING: Your Honour, perhaps that would be a convenient
17 JUDGE PARKER: We must adjourn now because of the time, and we
18 will continue tomorrow at 2.15. If you could return then. Thank you.
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
20 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 6.59 p.m.,
21 to be reconvened on Wednesday, the 8th day of
22 June, 2005, at 2.15 p.m.