1 Monday, 8 April 2002
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 9.05 a.m.
5 JUDGE LIU: Call the case, please, Madam Registrar.
6 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning, Your Honours, this is case number
7 IT-98-34-T, the Prosecutor versus Naletilic and Martinovic.
8 JUDGE LIU: Well, we notice that Mr. Naletilic is absent. Yes,
9 Mr. Krsnik?
10 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour. Mr. Naletilic has
11 gone to a doctor for an examination. I believe it is the prison
12 authorities which decided it and I'm sorry that I heard about it today,
13 that is, how he was feeling because he does not wish to tell me about
14 this. He doesn't talk to me about the real state of his health.
15 Yesterday, I was talking with a gentleman and I heard that he can hardly
16 walk, that he has to be carried whenever there is slope, up the stairs,
17 and through the passages, so I don't know what the state of his heart,
18 what his heart condition is. He does not tell me about that because he
19 does not want to -- me to tell you about it because he doesn't want it to
20 interfere with our schedule. But I'm afraid, Your Honours, as I have said
21 a long time ago, that the outcome of it all could be very bad because if
22 he has -- does not have enough strength to go up the stairs, then we know
23 that, and he has four bypasses already and if he wants to survive, he was
24 told a long time ago, that he had to have yet another operation, and
25 pulmonary emphysema which is in a disastrous also state. But Your
1 Honours, I thought -- I've been thinking about it but he did not want me
2 to talk about it and therefore I shouldn't go against his wishes, but I
3 believe that this pace that we have adopted here is another source of
4 trouble. He never wanted to do anything, and of course he signed that we
5 could proceed with the hearings without him and we shall do it always, but
6 I -- this is all that I am at liberty to say now about the present state
7 of his health, thank you.
8 JUDGE LIU: Well, we all wish your client a speedy recovery and we
9 also understand that he waived his right to be present at this trial.
10 Thank you very much. Shall we bring in the witness, please?
11 And Mr. Scott, how long are you going to take this morning?
12 MR. SCOTT: Thank you, Your Honour. I was going to tell the
13 Chamber that. Once again over the weekend we have -- I have again cut my
14 outline again -- down, both in terms of the questions themselves and in
15 terms of the number of exhibits. My goal, and I do use the word
16 specifically "goal," would be that we hope to finish the cross-examination
17 by the end of the first session.
18 JUDGE LIU: Thank you very much.
19 [The witness entered court]
20 JUDGE LIU: Good morning, witness.
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good morning, Your Honours.
22 WITNESS: SLOBODAN PRALJAK [Resumed]
23 [Witness answered through interpreter]
24 JUDGE LIU: Mr. Scott, you may continue.
25 MR. SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. President.
1 Cross-examination by Mr. Scott: [Continued]
2 Q. Good morning, Mr. Praljak.
3 A. Good morning, Mr. Scott.
4 Q. Sir, as we start again today, after the weekend I have a couple of
5 procedural questions I would like to ask you, please. Since you began
6 testifying in this case last Tuesday, have you spoken with anyone about
7 your testimony? Anyone at all?
8 A. Except that the relatives called me and I told them how I felt and
9 how my mental state was, I did not talk with anyone else, journalists or
10 anybody else.
11 Q. And that includes, and not intending to offend anyone, that
12 includes Defence counsel or anyone associated with the Defence teams? You
13 have not spoken to anyone on their behalf; is that correct?
14 A. Yes, it is.
15 Q. And have you reviewed any documentation, of any documents in any
16 way come to your attention that you reviewed since you began testifying?
17 A. I took along a book which was published publicly. It has to do
18 with the war, because I wanted to remind myself of some events or rather
19 dates, because they necessarily fade with the passage of time.
20 Q. All right. Could I just ask you for the record the name of that
21 publication, the name of the book?
22 A. "The War in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina 1991-1998." Five,
24 Q. The author's name, please?
25 A. There is no author. These are articles from the press which have
1 been put together.
2 Q. All right. Thank you, sir. Sir, in connection with the time that
3 you served in various capacities in Bosnia-Herzegovina from about --
4 during the time approximately 1992 to 1993, you were familiar, were you
5 not, with the concept of the Croat Banovina?
6 A. The Hrvatska Banovina came into being before World War II, as part
7 of the territorial subdivision of the then Yugoslavia, that is pre-World
8 War II Yugoslavia, and from the earlier instruction in history that I had,
9 I knew about it.
10 Q. I'm going to ask for the usher's assistance for the witness to be
11 shown very briefly Exhibit P899, and you can use this one if it's easier,
12 Mr. Usher. Sorry it's not in that particular bundle but you can use this
13 one, please. Sir I'd like you to look at Exhibit P899 for a moment,
14 please, just to orient yourself. Can you tell the Chamber, please, does
15 that map depict an area that sometimes has been called the Croat Banovina?
16 A. Yes. Even though I'm not an expert in history, but I believe that
17 that is -- that roughly corresponds to the reality.
18 Q. All right. And just as one point of reference, I think my last
19 question on the map, is that that includes, if you will, an extension of
20 territory that goes up as far north from the south as Travnik. If you
21 will, there is a bulge that extends on the map as far north as Travnik.
22 Do you see that?
23 A. Yes, I can see that, sir.
24 Q. Thank you very much. Now, sir, in the course of the -- of the
25 war, the fighting in Bosnia-Herzegovina, there was discussion among the
1 Bosnian Croat side and perhaps also on the Croat side and by that I mean
2 the Republic of Croatia, about some aspirations or goals to once again
3 establish this Croat Banovina; correct?
4 A. Sir, this Banovina Hvratska does not include Istra which belonged
5 to Italy or Croatian islands, Cres, Rab, Losinj, and a large chunk of
6 Baranja so that in Croatia nobody would be happy with this because it
7 would mean ceding to Italy the whole of Istra and the number of islands
8 and then ceding Baranja to Serbia, and I think that in Croatia, nobody
9 expected nor talked
10 seriously about the possibility that such subdivision could be the result
11 of any form of political or military activity. However, in different
12 conversations, because there were conversations about everything, the word
13 Banovina would come up but not as a project.
14 Q. All right. Well, let me ask you, or just let me clarify, I didn't
15 mean to suggest to you that the area that -- some of the areas that you
16 mentioned, for instance, Istra would not be part of Croatia. Perhaps you
17 can point out to the Chamber on the map -- well, it's not on the ELMO, but
18 just so that everyone knows what you're talking about. Can you just point
19 out the area you just mentioned that is shown on this map as belonging to
20 Italy, but in reality is part of the present Croatia? Perhaps you can
21 just show the judges that.
22 A. This is today the territory of the Republic of Croatia and with
23 all these islands, the whole Istra belonged to Italy.
24 Q. All right, thank you.
25 A. And this part here, this area here did not belong to Croatia.
1 Q. All right. Sir. Apart from those areas, if I can direct your
2 attention very specifically to the area that we were talking about a
3 moment ago, the area, however, that extends if we find Mostar and just
4 roughly looking upward on the map to Travnik. Again that was part, at one
5 time, of -- considered the Croat Banovina; correct?
6 A. No. It was not considered as part of Banovina Hrvatska. Under
7 the then subdivision which was very short lived between the Serbian
8 politician Cvetkovic and the Croatian politician Macek, it was the
9 condition for the organisation of Yugoslavia but not Croatia as a state.
10 Q. All right. Again, I'm not suggesting it's part of the state. I
11 think we got into this language issue earlier perhaps with another
12 witness. But the map shows, without talking about the boundaries of the
13 Yugoslavian state, as you indicated a few moments ago, the map indicates
14 an area that's been referred to historically as the Croatian Banovina;
16 A. Historically it was called Banovina Hrvatska, Banovina Croatia for
17 a short time before World War II.
18 Q. All right, sir. Do you recall being interviewed by the BBC at one
19 point and indicating and stating that earlier in the war you decided or
20 you demanded that "Our military goal should be defined at the moment the
21 conflict broke out in Prozor or in Vakuf or in Travnik. We were
22 militarily strong enough to take a territory that could become a Banovina,
23 but we were not allowed to hit first."
24 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Krsnik?
25 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, my learned friend often
1 mentions quotations from some documents. I'd like to ask to see this BBC
2 story so that we can see what it is. Today I shall be showing you some --
3 we shall -- I will show you some other orders and documents which my
4 learned friend did not show correctly to the Defence, to the Chamber or to
5 the witness because he was in pursuit of an answer that would suit him but
6 then I'll do that when my turn comes. However, when quotations are
7 mentioned, I'd like the witness to be informed about the programme or the
8 text because after all it was many years ago and I believe it is not fair
9 on the witness. He can speak about things like that only if he's shown
10 the relevant document.
11 MR. SCOTT: Mr. President, in that very regard, I'll ask the
12 technical booth, please, to play the clip that's been marked as P903. And
13 the transcript has been -- should have been distributed about that. It's
14 a very short clip. Your Honours, do you have copies of the short
15 transcript? Has that been provided to you? The video booth, can you hold
16 on for a moment until we make sure that the transcript has been
18 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, does the Defence indeed
19 have to be informed about such a document a minute before the question is
21 JUDGE LIU: Well, I think that the Prosecution is distributing
22 this document and you'll get one copy of it.
23 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, perhaps we -- there is
24 a matter standing. I'm saying that the Defence is acquainted with the
25 tape and the translation a minute before the examination based on them
1 starts. That is all.
2 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Krsnik, I think the other day we have
3 already made a ruling that you have to show the transcript as well as the
4 tape in the morning, that is, before the cross-examination. I don't think
5 there is anything wrong with the Prosecution on his cross-examination.
6 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] If I remember correctly, Your
7 Honours, your ruling before the beginning of the cross-examination. This
8 cross-examination has been going on for three days, this is the third day
9 of the cross-examination. And the Prosecutor before the witness was sworn
10 in and it was then that you made the ruling, because the Defence otherwise
11 would have got this videotape and a text had it been to 1.00, now it is it
12 only happens that it is half past 9.00. I'm merely pointing at a possible
13 misuse of law. Your decision was before the witness is sworn in and
14 before the cross-examination, that the defence needs to be handed over all
15 the material. I really do not think it is very just for the Defence to
16 see this tape and the translation just before it is shown to the witness.
17 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Krsnik, as a principle, I quite agree with
18 you that all the materials used before the cross-examination should be
19 furnished to the other part party and to the Chamber. I think this is the
20 principle. However, there are some occasions that -- which was unexpected
21 during the cross-examination because nobody could prejudge the course of
22 the cross-examination, nobody could prejudge how the witness will answer
23 the question. So in exceptions, we allowed this kind of practice during
24 the cross-examination.
25 Mr. Scott, you may continue.
1 MR. SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. President. I think with that,
2 hopefully now everything is in place. Could the video booth please
3 play -- it's a very, very short clip in terms of the relevant part. If
4 the -- if that could be played, please?
5 [Videotape played]
6 THE INTERPRETER: [Voiceover] "At the time of the conflict in
7 Prozor or the conflict in Vakuf or the conflict in Travnik we were strong
8 enough militarily at the time to say take a territory that could become a
9 Banovina or some features of that. We were definitely strong enough, but
10 we did not have permission to strike first."
11 MR. SCOTT:
12 Q. Do you recall saying that, sir?
13 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Scott, I didn't find out that paragraph on
14 this transcript.
15 MR. SCOTT: My apology, Mr. President. Mr. President on the
16 transcript that's been marked as P903A it is approximately on the
17 bottom -- about two-thirds down the page or so and you'll see references
18 to Tudjman, Susak and then as you go down a couple of other additional
19 lines on the right side you'll see just to key into the words you'll see
20 the word "Travnik", you'll see the word "Banovina."
21 JUDGE LIU: Thank you very much.
22 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, could we please see the
23 whole tape and could you order the Prosecution to hand over to the Defence
24 the whole tape rather than just sentences taken out of the context? We
25 need to see the whole tape and we believe that the Chamber needs to see
1 the whole tape. Well the Defence will do it.
2 JUDGE LIU: Well, Witness, do you want to say something? Yes.
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I am quite ready to testify as to
4 the authenticity of the tape, the clarity of my words, because they prove
5 precisely that Croatia pursued no military goals, that it did not wish any
6 wars because it says, "If we were strong enough, had we wanted that war,
7 we could have had certain territories, but Croatia or the Croat Defence
8 Council did not want the war, did not start the war," and this tape will
9 show beyond any doubt I said this on the BBC programme, the disintegration
10 of Yugoslavia and I stand by my words. They are accurate, they are
11 precise, and they attest to my thesis.
12 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Scott, I believe that Mr. Krsnik's request
13 is legitimate. You have to furnish the transcript as well as the tape to
14 the Defence team, and the -- you may ask some questions concerning with
15 this tape, if there is still some necessary to establish the authenticity
16 of this tape. We may play it from the very beginning.
17 MR. SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. President. We will provide the full
18 interview to the Defence. I think in terms of authentication, the witness
19 has just very, very clearly said that these were his words and they are
20 accurate. And that's -- I think that aspect speaks -- I think the issue
21 is resolved.
22 Q. My only further question on that, sir, based on what you just said
23 and based on the transcript is, it says, "But we were not allowed to hit
24 first." Who decided or who made the decision, according to you, that you
25 were not allowed to hit first?
1 A. The decision, the decision about that we were not to strike first
2 was taken by the political leadership of the Croat Community
3 Herceg-Bosna. And even if it were to take such a decision, from the
4 information that I have, I can affirm positively that in that case, the
5 Croatian leadership would have stopped helping in that manner the Croat
6 people and the Muslim people in Bosnia-Herzegovina in that case.
7 Q. All right, sir, can I just before moving on and that's about to
8 conclude on this topic, but when you say the political leadership of the
9 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna at that time, can you just name for the
10 Chamber some individuals that you would have included in that leadership?
11 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours?
12 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Krsnik?
13 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Could we please, whenever names are
14 mentioned, may we go into private session? I will warn the Chamber after
15 this witness about certain events which require some very serious
16 proportions, however I do not wish to waste time and interrupt the
17 cross-examination about things that happened meanwhile in Croatia and
18 Bosnia-Herzegovina whenever our witnesses are concerned, so whenever names
19 are mention could we please go into private session? Thank you.
20 JUDGE LIU: Well, your request is quite legitimate, but on this
21 occasion, I have some hesitations on that because it's a common knowledge
22 of all those persons who are in the leadership at that time.
23 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] If we can go into private session and
24 then I will explain to Your Honours why I'm asking for that, may we?
25 JUDGE LIU: Yes, we will go into private session, please.
1 [Private session]
13 Page 9641 – redacted – private session
13 Page 9642 – redacted – private session
13 Page 9643 – redacted – private session
19 [Open session]
20 MR. SCOTT: I think we are back in public session.
21 JUDGE LIU: Yes.
22 MR. SCOTT: All right.
23 Q. Sir, it's correct, is it not, that you commanded the HVO forces,
24 the Bosnian Croat armed forces, in the fighting and conflict around Gornji
25 Vakuf in January, February, 1993?
1 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, very briefly, once
2 again, Your Honours, I must protest, because I think we're really way
3 beyond the scope of the indictment, challenging the credibility. We did
4 not -- when we cross-examined, we were not allowed to do that, even our
5 examination-in-chief. I think that this -- that this umbrella is simply
6 too broad for this so-called credibility. The credibility can be
7 challenged whilst staying within the scope of the indictment and then it
8 is no wonder that the examination can take a fortnight. Thank you.
9 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Scott?
10 MR. SCOTT: Mr. President, I have a very limited number of
11 questions on this. One relates directly to the Convicts Battalion. I
12 think it is again fair for the Chamber to hear about this witness's
13 involvement in a number of matters and how it touches on such issues that
14 have come up in his testimony so far. We have tried to get from the
15 witness - I'm going to slow down - as much information as possible about
16 the command structure related to this case, how Tuta fit in the case, or
17 into the HVO, how the Convicts Battalion fit into the HVO, and these
18 questions are related to that.
19 JUDGE LIU: Yes?
20 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, it can be asked
21 directly without Gornji Vakuf because the Convicts Battalion is not ever
22 mentioned as being in Gornji Vakuf, nor is January, 1991 in the
23 indictment. Nothing of this is in the indictment. Nor is January,
24 February, 1993 in the indictment. They are not in the indictment. So if
25 he wants to know about the military structure, then a direct question may
1 be asked, all about the Convicts Battalion and what its structure can be
2 asked directly, rather than going about events which are not -- with which
3 the accused is not being charged, and I'm sorry he was not charged with
5 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Krsnik, I believe that this issue is related
6 to the military structure of the HVO, which we'll see where the Convicts
7 Battalion will fit in. I will ask the Prosecution to limit his question
8 only concerning with the military structures in this aspect.
9 Mr. Scott, you may continue.
10 MR. SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. President.
11 Q. Sir, I'm laying the foundation to one or two specific questions to
12 you, but before I do that, I want to you advise the Chamber, if you can
13 and are willing to, you led the Bosnian Croat armed forces in the fighting
14 around Gornji Vakuf in January, February, 1993, correct?
15 A. In January, 1993, there was fighting around Gornji Vakuf, for
16 reasons that I have already indicated.
17 Q. And my question to you, sir - and I've indicated to the Chamber
18 that I would try to finish this morning as soon as possible - my question
19 to you is very specifically, and concerning that, you led the Bosnian
20 Croat armed forces, correct?
21 A. The armed forces of the Bosnian Croats only in an incident in
22 Gornji Vakuf in January, 1993, and only there, only those forces, smaller
23 forces, and for a very limited period of time, then, only in that action.
24 Q. All right. Well, I'm going to ask -- because I'm not exactly sure
25 of the parameters of that answer, sir.
1 MR. SCOTT: And to Mr. President, I'm going to ask the booth to
2 please now play Exhibit P902, which is another clip from the same BBC
3 interview and the transcripts of that interview have already been
4 distributed, I'm told. If the technical booth could please play the short
5 excerpt, which is P902? The prior one -- I think the prior tape was 903
6 and this one is 902.
7 [Videotape played]
8 THE INTERPRETER: [Voiceover] "We simply were not able to succeed
9 there for whom there were the Muslim fundamentalists appearing, for whom
10 the Allah and the Koran were sacred, the beginning and the end of the
11 world. All the rest were pagans. All the rest were in fact -- one could
12 already feel that they celebrated Turkey, the janizaries, the conquest,
13 and they were indulging in their dreams about how this all belongs to
14 them, how it is Vakuf and not Uskoplje, that is to say not
15 Croatian but Vakuf, in other words. We reached the point where we could
16 not take it any longer. I led the attack on Vakuf. We seized a
17 sufficiently large part of territory above Vakuf. That is to say we
18 defeated them completely militarily. Then we had to enter Vakuf and there
19 were very many refugees, women, children."
20 MR. SCOTT:
21 Q. Sir to make it very clear, then, you led the HVO attack on Gornji
22 Vakuf in January, 1993, as you told the BBC during that interview; is that
24 A. Sir, I led the attack to the confrontation lines which the Muslim
25 forces dug out behind the HVO forces, some 50 metres away from the town,
1 and the lines towards the Serbian territory were some 50 kilometres away
2 from the town. After one month of negotiations with -- in cooperation
3 with the international community, in an attempt for this type of lines to
4 be pushed in towards our back, we only attacked the lines and as was
5 mentioned in that BBC programme, in consultation with Mr. Boban --
6 Q. Sir, again, sir?
7 A. Your Honours, can I answer in full?
8 MR. SCOTT: Mr. President, again, I'm certainly in the Chamber's
9 hands. I think the answer was simply yes. He was in command of the HVO
10 forces and again we can continue on I'll be happy to, but given the
11 amounts of objections and everything else this morning so far, then Your
12 Honour I will not certainly not finish by the first break.
13 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Krsnik?
14 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] I have nothing against the Prosecutor
15 proceeding with this cross-examination that has been going on for three
16 days, expecting the answers he can receive, but I would like to indulge
17 Your Honours to allow the witness to explain the answer to the question
18 put to him by the Prosecutor. I think this is the witness's legitimate
19 right. Otherwise we will always have answers hanging in the air and I
20 don't think that this is the purpose of the cross-examination. The
21 purpose probably is for the Tribunal to get a specific and clear answer.
22 JUDGE LIU: Well, Witness, the Prosecution asked you a question
23 about whether you lead the attack on that place. I think the first
24 sentence of your answer has already answered this question. If you want
25 to make an explanation on your answer, please do it in a very concise
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] In a maximally succinct way, Your
3 Honours it was not the attack on Vakuf led which was stated in the
4 programme by the BBC with the very aim of avoiding civil victims or civil
5 casualties, because it is quite clear that at that time already, the HVO,
6 under my leadership in this section, as a civilised army, refused to
7 attack the town and we did not attack the town, we only attacked the
8 confrontation lines. In pure military sense, those lines which were
9 behind us, which were dug out with the purpose of attacking us at a
10 specific moment in time, and at that time, they were not oriented towards
11 the common enemy which was 15 kilometres away from the town. I'm proud
12 with this leadership of the war and in consultation with Mr. Boban, it was
13 decided that we will refrain from doing something which is no good.
14 MR. SCOTT:
15 Q. All right. Thank you, sir. I must put it to you the Prosecution
16 does not accept all the characterisation of the events but we are not in a
17 position to be able to extend this question and answer further at this
19 Now, sir, it's true, is it not, that the Convicts Battalion was
20 involved in the action in Gornji Vakuf and was one of the HVO units
21 coordinated in those actions; correct?
22 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Krsnik?
23 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, remind me, refresh my
24 memory, but perhaps I just do not understand anything any more. We say
25 one thing. The Prosecution goes on with its own. Let me compose myself.
1 Where does it say that the Convicts Battalion participated in the Gornji
2 Vakuf attacks? If the Prosecution is interested in the military structure
3 of the Convicts Battalion, then it can ask the question very clearly. Why
4 Gornji Vakuf in the first place?
5 JUDGE LIU: Well -- Mr. Krsnik, almost every question you make
6 some objections on it. Some of them are quite legitimate but some of
7 them, I don't believe, is necessary. You have to understand your witness
8 is very capable, very knowledgeable witness. He could deal with all those
9 issues by himself.
10 And Mr. Scott, as we told you a few minutes before, that we are
11 only interested in the military structure and where the Convicts Battalion
12 fit in. You may pursue it along this line.
13 MR. SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. President, I ask the record to reflect
14 that the in the morning session, so far, Mr. Krsnik has spoken more than I
15 have in terms of the time that I've been allocated. I want the record to
16 reflect that very clearly.
17 Q. Sir, I'm going to ask the usher to hand you what's been marked as
19 MR. SCOTT: Again if the English version could please be placed on
20 the ELMO to facilitate the courtroom proceedings?
21 Q. Sir, I'd like to you look at this document which is a report from
22 an assistant commander named Ivan Kraljevic dated the 18th of January,
23 1993. I'm going to direct your particular attention to about halfway down
24 the document, the text itself. If you can please find these words, and in
25 the English version it says: "It was reported that two members of the
1 Convicts Battalion were killed in the village of Uzricje" -- forgive my
2 pronunciation -- "today." Now, sir, does that refresh your memory that
3 the Convicts Battalion was involved in the actions in Gornji Vakuf in
4 January, 1993?
5 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Seric?
6 MR. SERIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I very often refrain
7 myself from raising my opposition, but I would like to know from the
8 Prosecutor what is the base for the raising of this question because this
9 question has nothing to do with the establishment of the military
10 structure. There is no base for either this document or the question.
11 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Seric, I think that the Prosecution want to
12 establish that Convicts Battalion was involved in that action and under
13 the command of the witness at that time. I'm not sure. We have to hear
14 the answer from this witness.
15 Witness, you may answer that question, please.
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Mr. Scott, could you precisely ask
17 me what I'm supposed to answer in -- within this context?
18 Q. Sir, I asked you several times now, but I'll say it again. Do you
19 recall, sir, is it true, that the Convicts Battalion was among the HVO
20 forces that you commanded in the actions around Gornji Vakuf in January,
22 A. I cannot answer this question exactly, but it is quite certain
23 that a unit from Siroki Brijeg was there. This unit at that time and this
24 is also mentioned in the BBC programme, where I said that I felt uneasy
25 since the Muslims and the enemy party do not have as many pieces of
1 artillery as we do have, and that a war of that sort is not a good war as
2 far as my ethic feelings are concerned. And Mr. Cikota was up there with
3 a small group of people, a smaller group of people. It was something at
4 the level -- nothing of the kind of a battalion was there. That group of
5 people had between 15 and a maximum of 20 members under the command of
6 Mario Hrkac also called Cikota, also known as Cikota.
7 Q. And, sir, they were acting as part of the coordinated HVO forces
8 at that time; correct?
9 A. That group of people at that time on that line followed my
10 command, my orders.
11 Q. All right. Sir, in moving forward I'm going to ask the usher's
12 assistance probably going to have to hand --
13 MR. SCOTT: Mr. President, when I re-sorted the documents, as you
14 may recall for Friday morning, to a smaller bundle, appears that one, I'm
15 sure it was my fault, was omitted and so I'm going to given to the usher
16 now with your permission, Exhibit 230.1, which should have been in the
17 original, thicker bundle, but if he can put the original -- the B/C/S
18 version to the witness and I'll put the English -- you can have my English
19 version although it's the only one I have as well. So I'll have to look
20 at the ELMO myself, I'm afraid.
21 Mr. President and for the Registry's benefit as well, it may be,
22 and I've not had a chance to look further, but it may be that this
23 document was previously marked as 235.1. I'm not saying it has to be
24 resolved this minute, but it may have been called 235.1 it's now 230.1.
25 Q. Sir, this is a report or an order coming from - I believe the next
1 page would show - Milivoj Petkovic. Let me stop there for one moment,
2 please. In January, 1993, was Milivoj Petkovic your superior, your
3 military superior, for these purposes?
4 A. Yes, Mr. Milivoj Petkovic at that time was my superior.
5 Q. And if I can ask to you look at item number 3. Do you recall you
6 wanting or someone, if it wasn't you, either you or someone else wanting
7 Colonel Siljeg to report urgently to Brada in Mostar and send a report on
8 the situation in Gornji Vakuf directly?
9 A. According to this text, it is demanded from Geneva where peace
10 negotiations were held, asked by Milivoj Petkovic and not by myself,
11 asking Colonel Siljeg to do so.
12 Q. Well, do you have any reason to disagree, sir, that the reference
13 to Mr. Siljeg reporting to Brada, which means beard, does it not, that's
14 the -- referring to you, isn't it?
15 A. There is no reason for me to say that in certain moments of time,
16 I had not been called Brada. It is likely that this reference is made to
18 Q. Thank you, sir. I want to go forward, please, to April of 1993.
19 Do you recall, sir, in early April, 1993, on approximately the 2nd of
20 April, 1993, participating in a meeting in Central Bosnia with Valentin
21 Coric, the Tihomir Blaskic, Dario Kordic and others about the current
22 situation in the HVO?
23 A. I cannot recall that, Mr. Prosecutor.
24 MR. SCOTT: All right. Can I have the usher's assistance, please
25 in placing before the witness P272.1?
1 Q. Sir, for the record -- I'll wait for those to be put on the ELMO.
2 Sir, for the record, I'm going to indicate to you and for the Chamber that
3 these are minutes of a meeting on the 2nd of April, 1993, in the Central
4 Bosnia Operative Zone. And as I direct your attention to particular parts
5 of the minutes, I think you will see references to statements attributed
6 to you and I will certainly give you a chance to look at those.
7 Directing your attention to the first -- after all the
8 introductory information, sir, on the English version, it's the part of
9 the page that starts the paragraph starting with the words, "General
10 Praljak." Do you see that it says, "General Praljak opened the meeting by
11 informing those present about the arrival of five or six commissioned
12 officers from Herzegovina. He briefly reported on the signing of the plan
13 and pointed out that UNPROFOR would be staying for another three months.
14 This declaration establishes the immutability of the borders of the
15 Republic of Croatia, no way to change them any more."
16 Now first of all, is this a reference when you say "the plan," is
17 this some plan that was then being discussed in connection with the peace
18 negotiations in Geneva?
19 A. With full respect, Mr. Scott, you can believe me that I would need
20 a lot more time after ten years to bring, to refresh from my memory a --
21 hundreds of meetings, thousands of meetings we had, neither to you nor to
22 the Tribunal would I want to give no answer. However, I must be sure
23 before answering any question of this sort. I cannot even find the text
24 where this is said.
25 Q. Well, let me see if I can assist you, sir, if I can. In the first
1 page of the B/C/S version which is a handwritten document, after the -- in
2 the bottom half of the page, the first handwritten B/C/S page, there is a
3 what we would call an asterisk. Do you see there the reference to your
4 name, Praljak?
5 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Krsnik?
6 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] I apologise, Your Honours. Perhaps
7 we should give the witness some ten minutes or the time during the first
8 break to read the document through because it is a document of five, six,
9 seven pages, and all handwritten.
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Mr. Scott, it is very difficult for
11 me to read this. I apologise, but --
12 MR. SCOTT: Mr. President, I'm in the Chamber's hands if the
13 Chamber wants to take a break early, I'm not opposed to the witness
14 reading it in full if that is what his wishes are, but of course it's up
15 to the Chamber.
16 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Scott, are there any documents that you want
17 the witness to read? You might furnish it to this witness altogether so
18 he could make the best time of the break.
19 MR. SCOTT: Let me look, Your Honour, if there is going to be any
20 substantial additional documents of any length. Mr. President, in the few
21 documents that I have remaining for exhibits, I don't think anything else
22 would require any sort of extensive review, with the possible exception of
23 this one.
24 JUDGE LIU: Yes. So we will resume at 20 to 11.00.
25 --- Recess taken at 10.08 a.m.
1 --- On resuming at 10.44 a.m.
2 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Scott.
3 MR. SCOTT:
4 Q. Mr. Praljak, have you had a chance to look at that document now?
5 A. Yes, I've had a look.
6 Q. Well, all right. Since you've now had an opportunity to look at
7 the document more fully, are you able to confirm that the Chamber, and of
8 course I don't expect you to have a photographic memory of this meeting
9 some years ago, but can you confirm to the Chamber that you recall
10 attending a meeting such as that in early April, 1993?
11 A. Yes. It is possible that I was at this meeting in April, 1993.
12 Q. And I think the last question that was pending, sir, before the
13 break, was there was a reference -- I read some of the language from the
14 first paragraph of the document to you and there was a reference, for
15 example, to a plan, the signing of the plan. Were you referring to the
16 plan coming out of or resulting from certain peace talks in Geneva around
17 that time?
18 A. Yes. This has to do with the implementation of the Vance-Owen
19 Plan, which was signed in Geneva and apart from some words which I did not
20 understand, and some of my -- some of the sociological objections that I
21 have, everything else agrees with the signed plan of the international
22 community and parties concerned. I only have one comment to make.
23 Q. All right.
24 A. I believe that on the first page, here a declaration is mentioned,
25 a declaration, and the immutability of borders. I do not think this has
1 to do -- this applies to the Republic of Croatia. I think it applies to
2 the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. I think that the person who wrote
3 this wrote it wrongly, the Republic of Croatia. The Republic of Croatia,
4 by virtue of its recognition, its earlier recognition by the Badinter
5 Commission, had its borders immutable.
6 Q. Sir, I don't want to spend a lot of time arguing about that,
7 frankly, except to say that admittedly I don't read your language, I
8 apologise, but in the handwritten version of the B/C/S document on the
9 bottom of that first page, it appears to be quite clearly written, the
10 "RH," not the RBIH, but RH. And doesn't that typically stand for the
11 Republic of Croatia, Republika Hrvatska?
12 A. Yes. Letters, yes, but no declaration -- there could be no
13 declaration in April 1993, about the unchangeability, the immutability of
14 borders of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. So I think this is a
15 mistake because it is completely illogical [as interpreted]. It -- the
16 declaration granted Bosnia and Herzegovina guaranteed borders and the text
17 refers to that later on.
18 Q. All right, sir. If I could ask you to turn over to the next
19 page. I'll try to ask you a few additional questions about this document
20 before continuing. I want to you find some language, please, discussing,
21 and just as a point of reference, perhaps you can find the sentence that
22 starts with the words, "The Serbs will be granted large concessions in
23 organising the state. And I believe that there, almost nothing will be
24 left of the state." When you say "almost nothing will be left of the
25 state," are you referring to what was then the Republic of
1 Bosnia-Herzegovina, that state, that after being divided up, there would
2 not be much left of it? Is that correct?
3 A. All I said was that according to the Vance-Owen Plan, the central
4 authorities in Bosnia-Herzegovina would be left with what had been signed
5 then. In my view, that didn't amount to much. But this has to do only
6 with an internationally signed plan.
7 Q. All right.
8 MR. SCOTT: Mr. Usher, if I can have your assistance, please,
9 since we are relying primarily on the ELMO for the English version,
10 perhaps you could assist me in following along the right portions of the
11 document. The part we are referring to now would appear in starting at
12 the top of the second page.
13 All right, sir, with that in mind and in light of your answer just
14 now, you then as you just did, stated at the time and have stated again
15 today the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna will remain, it will have its
16 own assembly, and the provincial government will rule the country, the
17 central government will have nothing. Is that correct?
18 A. And where the word "assembly" is or diet is mentioned, I cannot
19 find it anywhere. The government is mentioned but the parliament, the
20 assembly, the diet, are not mentioned anywhere.
21 Q. Well, all right. I appreciate that, sir. I'm not in a position
22 to argue about the B/C/S language with you. But was it your position and
23 was it recognised at the time that as a result of the plan, as you
24 understood it, not just yourself but Bosnian Croats, essentially the
25 central government in Sarajevo would cease to, as you say here, would have
1 nothing; correct?
2 A. It is correct, Mr. Scott, that under that document, and the
3 international plan, they would get what that international plan said. And
4 it is correct that in this international plan, the central government,
5 because the Serbs were given any concessions, that central government
6 would not be as strong as it is interpreted in the colloquial political
7 sense. The word "nothing" must be the word used at the meeting, but there
8 is no where any mention what is this nothing. So this is the
9 implementation of the international plan. It clearly emerges from the
10 text that we are happy that the plan had been adopted, and of course we
11 are happy because it puts an end to the war. And it is quite clear that
12 we want to implement it.
13 Q. I'm going to try very hard to finish your cross-examination in
14 this session. So I am going to ask you to help me in moving forward,
15 please. If I could have -- if you could continue on down the document for
16 some number of lines, and for the English version, Mr. Usher, if you could
17 put the next page, page what would be on the bottom, page 93, on the ELMO,
18 please? At the top part of that page, and I'll ask you, Mr. Praljak, if
19 you can find the language in your version, there are these words, "Talks
20 with the BH Army in Sarajevo about to begin. We shall ask for HVO
21 government in our provinces. Those who choose not to submit themselves to
22 that can leave our territories."
23 Now, sir, do you recall that around this very time, the 1st of
24 April 1993, that Mate Boban issued an ultimatum that the ABiH subordinate
25 itself to the HVO in provinces that were then being referred to as 3, 8
1 and 10, and if they didn't do that, that come the 15th of April, 1993, the
2 HVO would take matters into its own hands?
3 A. Mr. Scott, such an ultimatum was never issued. That part which
4 speaks about the reattachment of units of the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina
5 in the provinces which according to the Vance-Owen Plan were predominantly
6 Croat, at the same time clearly and unambiguously, speaks about the
7 reattachment of the Croat Defence Council to the command of the Army of
8 Bosnia-Herzegovina in the provinces which were under the predominant
9 Muslim --
10 Q. I'm going to suggest to you, because of the need to move forward,
11 I'm going to suggest to you and I put it to you that in fact there was
12 such a demand and that what you said in this meeting that we referred to a
13 few moments ago was exactly consistent with what Mr. Boban had said. Now,
14 that's correct, isn't it?
15 A. I don't understand your question, Mr. Scott. What would be
16 correct? And Mr. Scott, I will not expedite matters by distorting the
17 truth. I'm very sorry.
18 Q. I think the question has been put to you several times, sir, and
19 I'll move on. Can you please continue on with the document?
20 MR. SCOTT: And Mr. Usher can you please move to the next page?
21 Starting about a fourth of the way down the page.
22 Q. Sir, can you find these words, please?
23 MR. SCOTT: Not sure we are on the same -- if I could -- yes, if
24 it could be moved down a bit, if we could see a little bit more of the top
25 part of the page, please. Thank you very -- bit more, just a bit more
1 down, I think. There, thank you.
2 Q. Sir, if you could find this language it starts "but what will
3 happen if they ask us for other municipalities? Our policy helped to us
4 take everything we could. The negotiations, well, something must be
6 If you see that. In the interest of time, I'm going to skip a few
7 lines, it's there, everyone can see it. And then you come down to the end
8 of that paragraph and it says, "The homogenisation of our population
9 continues. We can only fence off what is ours and build there our own
10 space and our own state. It is all as clear as day."
11 Now, when you're referring to "the homogenisation of our
12 population," what did you mean, sir?
13 A. I meant facts, Mr. Scott. The homogenisation is not a project
14 with -- originating -- which originated either with Slobodan Praljak or
15 the Croat Defence Council. The homogenisation came into life as part of
16 the expulsion of the population of the Muslim and Croat ethnicity by the
17 Serbs and also it was due to the departure of some Croats from the
18 territories controlled by the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina and
19 unfortunately, has been going on and still goes on to this day in
20 Republika Srpska, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, there are de facto --
21 Q. No, sir. I'm going to stop you unless the Chamber instructs me
22 otherwise. I'm going to move on to the next question because you've given
23 your answer. Counsel can ask you other questions about this if he likes.
24 Sir, you said a moment ago this was simply stating a fact but did not
25 reflect your word was, I think, "project". Let me please direct your
1 attention further down the page in a statement that is attributed to you,
2 general, starting with this language: "Territorially". If you could move
3 this up a bit, Mr. Usher, please on the ELMO, just a bit? Thank you.
4 "Territorially speaking, we shall take that and wherever else there is
5 Croatianhood as written. What use is a territory where there are no
6 Croats? We need the territory in the borders that we inhabit." It was
7 the HVO project, was it not, sir, to take the territory where the
8 Croatianness was?
9 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Seric?
10 MR. SERIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, the image which the
11 Prosecutor is interpreting by phrasing this question was not and is not
12 all that simple or black and white. It cannot be answered yes or no. So
13 this question and earlier questions - I was patient - however, are
14 questions which are tricky questions because if the witness says yes, then
15 it will be a confirmation after number of statements that the Prosecutor
16 has made. And this question and other questions are actually cuckoos'
17 eggs. The Prosecutor is trying to trip up the witness and I believe the
18 Prosecutor should ask direct questions if he wants direct answers. Thank
20 MR. SCOTT: Mr. President.
21 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Scott?
22 MR. SCOTT: Leading questions by their nature suggest an answer
23 and they include a premise, and that is by the very nature of the question
24 and it is indeed the Prosecution's case and it is indeed what we are
25 suggesting to this witness that contrary to the answer he gave a few
1 moments ago, this document, and the part that I just fairly put to him,
2 it's right in front of him, there is nothing unfair about it, it suggests
3 to him that his own words indicated there was indeed a project to take as
4 much territory as they could for Croatia. I think the question is fair.
5 JUDGE LIU: Well, let's hear the witness. I understand it's a
6 difficult question to you, witness. You may give us an explanation on
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Mr. Prosecutor, Your Honours, this
9 question is not difficult for me. At that time, the Croats were reduced
10 and this is what this text says, to 11 per cent of the Bosnian and
11 Hercegovinian population and this text refers to the difficult situation,
12 to the predicament that we the Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina found
13 ourselves in. And all this text speaks about is the Vance-Owen Plan and
14 within that framework, territories are mentioned, territories which were
15 allotted by this plan. There was no, nor could be, no were we strong
16 enough, nor at the time when we militarily could, and that was clearly
17 said in the BBC's programme too, we did not want to conquer anything down
18 there. Quite the contrary.
19 MR. SCOTT:
20 Q. Sir, if that is correct, then why is it that on the 15th of April,
21 and the 16th of April, excuse me, 1993, up and down the Lasva Valley and
22 also in Herzegovina a series of HVO offences were launched to enforce the
23 HVO's interpretation of the Vance-Owen Plan?
24 A. Mr. Scott, you should indicate the time, the place, the map of
25 offensive actions, and I put it to you that you are interpreting it
1 contrary to the facts on the ground.
2 Q. Sir, I'll give you some very specific examples. The HVO attack on
3 Ahmici in which more than 100 civilians were killed on the 16th of April
4 1993, a factual situation that has been extensively addressed by this
5 institution and those facts have been found in two separates judgments of
6 this court. I point you to the attacks on Sovici Doljani on the 17th of
7 April, the very next day. I put those to you in response to your
8 question, sir, if it was all agreed and if it was in the Vance-Owen Plan
9 and there was nothing more to fight about, why did the HVO launch those
11 A. I have already stated that at the time when certain things were
12 happening, I was not in the territory, but I can give you my view since
13 you are inviting me to do that, Mr. Scott. Both as a Croat and as a
14 member of the HVO, I'm ashamed of what happened in Ahmici. I am not
15 familiar with the situation in Sovici as a whole and I believe it will be
16 established by the Honourable Court at the end of this case. I am
17 referring to the intentions to stop the war and I'm quite confident that
18 throughout the war, our intentions were to stop the conflict, at hundreds
19 of meetings, work in the field, but unfortunately, I do not think that we
20 are to blame that it failed. But even the Vance-Owen Plan was thwarted
21 because Mr. Alija Izetbegovic withdrew his signature from that plan and as
22 many times after that and before that.
23 Q. Sir?
24 A. The Croat Defence Council never withdrew --
25 Q. Go ahead and finish your sentence, sir, never withdrew from?
1 A. In all international talks that were conducted about the fate and
2 internal organisation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, in which the political and
3 military wings of the Croat Defence Council participated, and the
4 leadership of the Republic of Croatia, I do not know of any such plan of
5 the international community which we did not respect fully. When I say
6 we, I mean the HVO, and I can also add the Republic of Croatia.
7 Q. Sir, I'm going to -- we have to go forward, I'm sorry, and I can't
8 put any additional questions to you about this topic at this point because
9 we don't have enough time. I would like to direct your attention to the
10 Mostar region, and sir, you were in Mostar during the fighting there on
11 the 9th and 10th of May, 1993, were you not?
12 A. No, that is not correct.
13 Q. Where were you at that time?
14 A. I was probably in Croatia, sir.
15 MR. SCOTT: Can I ask the usher to please hand you what's been
16 marked as Exhibit 380.1?
17 Q. Sir, I'd like you to take a look at that document and so that you
18 can see it and so that it's clear, there are two -- what appear to be two
19 related documents here and two translations of the two documents, just so
20 there is no confusion about that. In the handwritten B/C/S version --
21 A. May I read it first, please.
22 Q. Yes, sir. I'm just trying to assist you so there is no confusion.
23 You can look at either of the two handwritten versions as you wish,
25 MR. SCOTT: Mr. Usher, perhaps you could put the English version
1 of the first page on the ELMO.
2 Q. Sir, didn't you send this response to a request from Colonel
3 Siljeg making reference and stating approximately the following, "For the
4 time being we are not able to send any soldiers for reinforcement. You
5 are well aware of the situation around Mostar." And were you in Mostar at
6 that time, weren't you?
7 A. Mr. Scott, this is not my signature. This is not my handwriting.
8 This is not my style. And this is not my manner. This is a forgery,
9 Mr. Scott.
10 Q. Well, before we leave that, then, and before I accept that, sir,
11 would you look -- the second handwritten document which will be reflected
12 on the second page of the English translation?
13 MR. SCOTT: Mr. Usher, if you could put the next page of that
15 Q. Sir, this document appears to have on it the markings that this
16 was an order being sent from Mostar on the 10th of May, 1993, to the
17 operative zone and to Colonel Siljeg. Now, if we can look --
18 A. Mr. Scott.
19 Q. Yes, sir?
20 A. Why should I sign two identical orders once as Slobodan Praljak
21 and the second time as Brada? These are forgeries, Mr. Scott. This is
22 not my handwriting.
23 Q. Sir, I'm not suggesting it's necessarily --
24 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Krsnik?
25 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, may I help Your
1 Honours? These are documents written by hand.
2 JUDGE LIU: No, no, no. We could judge what kind of document it
3 is. We just want to hear the witness is going to tell us.
4 MR. SCOTT:
5 Q. Sir, I'm not suggesting necessarily, we can, I suppose dwell on it
6 later if necessary, but I'm not suggesting you necessarily wrote them in
7 your own hand, sir, but I put to you that it would not be unusual, it is
8 not unusual for senior officials of any organisation to have orders issued
9 in their name or prepared for them. I'm not suggesting -- I assume you're
10 not telling us that every single document that you were ever involved in
11 as a senior official or officer that you personally handwrote every order
12 and handwrote every communication and did that yourself. You had aids who
13 assisted you, didn't you?
14 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Krsnik?
15 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, may we hear the origin
16 of this document? Because we do not know from where this is -- is it from
17 Zagreb archives? We have absolutely no information as to where this
18 document -- as for the provenance of this document.
19 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Scott, you may furnish this information to
21 MR. SCOTT: Yes, Your Honour. I believe it comes from the Zagreb
22 archive but I want to qualify that because I don't have it right in front
23 of me, Your Honour, but that's my memory as I stand here and I will
24 confirm it further.
25 Q. There is also, sir, I should also indicate, a third version which
1 is a typed, electronic -- which looks like, sir, one of the types of
2 electronic communications which you yourself have confirmed were the type
3 sent and which bears the fact and it has a stamp on it indicating that it
4 was in fact communicated. If you can look to the last document, the last
5 page of that document, admittedly the copy is poor, but can you see that,
6 please? Isn't that what a Paket communication looks like?
7 A. Mr. Scott, this copy is very bad and nothing can be seen from it,
8 but let me repeat that I signed my documents, that the signature cannot be
9 forged, neither in peace and particularly not at wartime, unless some
10 ulterior objectives are thus attempted to be achieved, and that what I
11 have in front of me is a pure forgery.
12 Q. All right, well, sir, putting the document to one side and it's
13 the last question I think I'll ask you about this, do you recall, sir,
14 whether you recall the document itself? Do you recall giving an order or
15 making a communication around the 10th of May, 1993, where you
16 communicated to Colonel Siljeg, in reference to the BH Army, quote, "Send
17 them the ultimatum yourselves. If they don't stop, you are free to act as
18 you see fit, pound them with artillery and whatever else you can think of,
19 flatten everything in sight." Now, do you remember giving that order?
20 A. No, sir. This is not my style, although for the sake of being
21 correct, as far as Your Honours are concerned, in a grave situation during
22 a war, particularly when territories are being lost, when you are
23 defending something, you utter words which beyond and outside that
24 situation, might sound unusual. But these are not my documents.
25 Q. Sir, but your answer just now you're telling this Chamber you
1 allow for the possibility that on that date, or around that time, you
2 would have given an order to the effect, "Flatten everything in sight"?
3 A. I did not say this, Mr. Scott. I only said that in a war, at the
4 time of any war, even that war, sometimes orally, in difficult moments,
5 words are spoken for the sake of being aware of what the truth looks like
6 in a war, but let me repeat it for the fifth time, this is not my style,
7 this is not my manner, this is not my handwriting. These documents are
9 Q. Well, sir, in terms of the words, you included then such words as,
10 for instance, "Kill all the civilians in Ahmici," those are the kind of
11 words that can be issued -- stated during a war; is that correct?
12 A. I refuse to answer this question, Mr. Scott.
13 Q. Sir, let me ask you this question. In the firing that took place
14 on the -- in East Mostar during the second half of July, 1993 and
15 continuing into August and thereafter, as the senior HVO commander,
16 overall commander, can you please tell this Chamber what steps if any did
17 you take, if any, to avoid firing on or hitting civilians or civilian
19 A. Mr. Scott, you must be aware of my stand. In Travnik, where I
20 was, in Gornji Vakuf, where I halted the actions, although in a war,
21 soldiers are not allowed to fire from houses in which civilians are
22 located because this is a violation of the customs of war and in this type
23 of situation, wherever I found myself in them, I did my best to do and to
24 try to avoid civilian casualties, even in situations where the enemy
25 defence lines were located in areas which were also areas populated by
1 civilian population.
2 JUDGE LIU: Well, Witness, the Prosecutor was asking you a very
3 specific question, the location is in Eastern Mostar, the time is second
4 half of July, 1993 and continuing into the August. It's a specific time
5 period, specific location. You may answer this question within this
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Never did I give this order, never
8 did I approve it, and for a good period of time, when I was the commander
9 of the HVO, I spent on the confrontation line around Rama and Gornji
10 Vakuf, believing that the Muslim offensive, Neretva '93, which was aiming
11 to the coast line, would be the most fierceful [as interpreted] in this
12 particular territory.
13 MR. SCOTT:
14 Q. Sir is it correct, then, that you will not answer either the
15 president's question or my question specifically with regard to East
16 Mostar, what orders did you give or steps did you take to ensure as much
17 as possible that civilians and civilian objects in East Mostar were mot
18 fired upon?
19 A. Neither in writing nor orally have I ever issued such an order,
20 nor have I made it known that anything like that is allowed.
21 Q. Well, sir, that's not exactly the answer to the question that I
22 put to you. Not whether it was allowed or not, what steps, what
23 affirmative steps did you take? Can you take us to some orders, tell us
24 some affirmative actions that you took as the senior HVO commander to
25 ensure against, as much as possible, that civilians and civilian objects
1 were not targeted by HVO forces in East Mostar? I put it to you, sir, as
2 a senior commanding officer, it is your responsibility under the laws of
3 war to take such actions. Now tell the Chamber what actions you took.
4 A. A commander, undertakes steps by giving orders. There are no
5 steps, Mr. Scott, which you think may have existed. A commander gives
6 orders. A commander gives instructions to his officers what they may do
7 and what they may not do, and I do not know what steps I could have made
8 beyond this.
9 Q. Sir, did you ever punishment -- punish, discipline, withdraw,
10 terminate a subordinate officer for not taking -- firing upon civilians in
11 East Mostar? Was there ever a time? Did you take one disciplinary action
12 against an HVO officer for firing into East Mostar?
13 A. But Mr. Scott, I put to you that we were not firing at civilians.
14 We were not firing at civilians. Just like the bombs from Eastern Mostar
15 to Western Mostar were not aiming at civilians. The confrontation, the
16 battle line, was in the town, the artillery was located inside the
17 civilian population. The mortars positions were inside the buildings.
18 What happened to us was that our soldiers also fired shots at UNPROFOR and
19 some UNPROFOR members were killed as a result. This resulted by giving an
20 apology to the UNPROFOR, by burying the soldier, and by making attempts to
21 avoid such situations in future. There have been dozens of such cases.
22 Q. Sir, do you recall -- do you recall a situation where HVO
23 artillery -- when Muslim civilians would gather, for instance, at water
24 trucks to take water home, the artillery fire was opened on those water
25 trucks while the civilians were gathered there collecting water? Do you
1 recall those situations?
2 A. No, Mr. Scott. I cannot either recall this type of situation,
3 nor could they have happened with my knowledge.
4 Q. All right, sir, I'm going to ask that you be shown, please,
5 Exhibit P584.1.
6 MR. SCOTT: Once again, if page -- Mr. Usher, if the fourth page
7 of that exhibit in the English could please be put on the ELMO showing the
8 second half of the -- second, the bottom half of page 4 in English on the
9 ELMO, please. Mr. President, I'll just tell the Chamber this is either
10 the last exhibit or next-to-last exhibit that I'll put to this witness.
11 Q. Sir, do you remember saying to a British battalion liaison officer
12 during the last week of August, 1993, and I refer you, if you can please
13 find the pages, in the English version if you can look to the end of that
14 paragraph comment, did you not tell the British officer -- sorry. At the
15 same interview Mr. Praljak stated that he would have taken Mostar had it
16 not been for the UN delivering aid to the Muslims? Did you say that?
17 A. No, sir. The humanitarian aid to Mostar, as you had an
18 opportunity to see that, contrary to the desires of the people who were
19 expelled and beaten, was delivered by General Praljak.
20 Q. Well, sir, I appreciate that fact and we saw you on the -- if it's
21 the same situation, if that's what you're telling us, we did see you on
22 the APC, the armoured personnel carrier. But, sir, you got on that
23 armoured personnel carrier, I submit to you, and I'm not questioning again
24 your personal courage for a moment in this regard, you got on that because
25 of tremendous pressure that came from the political leadership and the
1 Zagreb leadership because there had been such an outrage expressed at the
2 blockade of humanitarian aid. When Zagreb told you to let that
3 humanitarian convoy pass, that's when you took those steps; correct?
4 A. Sir, I took this step on the basis of my own initiative. At that
5 time, I was not authorised to disperse the population. I had to see to it
6 that the convoy had the necessary security and that the UN soldiers were
7 safe. And this happened. I let tens of convoys through, Mr. Scott.
8 Q. Sir, did you tell the British battalion officer in the last week
9 of August 1993, you would have taken Mostar if it had not been for the UN
10 delivering aid to the Muslims? Is that what you told him?
11 A. No, Mr. Scott. I think that this could certainly be a
12 misinterpretation. I did not say anything like that. I particularly did
13 not link the fact of the humanitarian convoys with the military situation,
14 and I do not think that the convoys would help or not, had some plans been
15 made, had some plans been made. And I repeat, that through all my efforts
16 and forces, even against the refugees' will and assuming personal
17 responsibility for personal reasons, I let the humanitarian aid convoys
19 Q. All right. Sir, before I leave this topic of Mostar, and turn to
20 the last exhibit and the last questions I'll put to you, I must -- I'm
21 required to put to you, I think, that in connection with your presence in
22 Mostar, at the beginning of the fighting there in May, I must put it to
23 you, sir, that a witness, a public witness, I believe I can -- let me just
24 confirm with Mr. Stringer. Just wanted to confirm that I didn't disclose
25 a name improperly. Excuse me. Sir, a Prosecution witness by the name of
12 Blank pages inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French
13 and English transcripts. Pages 9674 to 9683.
1 Falk Simang has testified to this Chamber that he saw you, together with
2 Tuta, on the morning of the -- when the attack started in Mostar in May of
3 1993. What's your response to that, please?
4 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Krsnik?
5 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, another
6 misinterpretation. The -- this was not said by Mr. Simang. Rastani were
7 confused with Mostar and to my question, Mr. Simang answered with me, I
8 did it so if evidence is being interpreted, could this be done correctly,
10 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Scott, is that the right characterisation of
11 the testimony of that witness.
12 MR. SCOTT: Yes, Your Honour. I'm referring to the transcript
13 pages 3817 to 3820 where the witness said:
14 Q. Did you see General Praljak in Mostar at that time?
15 A. Yes. One morning when we picked up our ribbons. That was
16 these ribbons to recognise we changed these ribbons every morning
17 and when we collected them, that was in a restaurant at Mostar.
18 It was there, when General Tuta and General Praljak and two more
19 people were there."
20 That's the question I put to him.
21 JUDGE LIU: Yes, you may proceed.
22 MR. SCOTT:
23 Q. Sir, I simply put it to you, because I think I should give you the
24 opportunity to respond to that again, that a Prosecution witness has
25 identified you as being in Mostar at the beginning of the attack. Now,
1 isn't that true?
2 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Krsnik?
3 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] No, no, no. I'm sorry, could we stop
4 the cross-examination and let's check the transcript? It was not the 9th
5 of May. It was not the 10th of May. We should know what we are talking
6 about. I insist on a correct cross-examination. What date, what month,
7 was quoted? Is it what I said? Is it the continuation of his testimony?
8 We can't just put it out of context.
9 MR. SCOTT: Mr. President, I was asking the question I thought to
10 give -- out of fairness to the witness to give him an opportunity to
11 respond to that proposition. I will simply to conclude this examination
12 I'll simply go on.
13 JUDGE LIU: Yes. But first of all, you have to tell us on what
14 date is that?
15 MR. SCOTT: The beginning, what Mr. Simang said, Your Honour, was,
16 it was the beginning of the attack on Mostar. That's what he said.
17 And that's in the transcript. That's in the portions that I referred
18 you to.
19 JUDGE LIU: Put your question in this way. Yes, Mr. Krsnik?
20 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Yes, but what attack? Which attack?
21 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Seric?
22 MR. SERIC: [Interpretation] Yes, Mr. President. Two dates are in
23 question. The 9th of May and the 17th of June, and there are other dates.
24 JUDGE LIU: Let's hear what the witness is going to tell us.
25 Witness, you may answer the question put forward by the Prosecution.
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I was not in Mostar at that time, in
2 May. I was there when we were defending ourselves in Rastani. This is my
4 MR. SCOTT:
5 Q. All right, sir. Sir, do you recall an instance --
6 MR. SCOTT: And Mr. President, this is my final set of questions
7 and I'll have one exhibit about this.
8 Q. Sir, do you recall a time in approximately the middle of June,
9 1993, where you personally had an encounter with the accused Mladen
10 Naletilic, Tuta, in connection with an incident, some trouble occurred
11 with Tuta's men in the town of Prozor where Tuta's men broke into some
12 Muslim apartments?
13 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, another
14 misinterpretation. Who ever mentioned Tuta's people and whoever mentioned
16 MR. SCOTT: Well, for instance, perhaps the witness would like to
17 see, Mr. Usher, Exhibit 469.1. Perhaps, Mr. Usher, once again, you could
18 please put the first copy of the English page on the ELMO.
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Mr. Scott, I can't read anything
20 here. This is illegible.
21 Your Honours, this cannot be read.
22 MR. SCOTT: Mr. President, I'm sorry, it's not my intention, of
23 course, at all to quarrel with the witness but if the Chamber -- I can
24 have the Chamber shown the B/C/S version, and while I agree that one would
25 prefer a better copy, I submit to you that it can be reasonably read, and
1 if need be -- Mr. President, since I can't read it any way, perhaps I can
2 show my -- have my version shown to the Chamber so you can see what I'm
3 talking about.
4 Mr. President, I submit to a native B/C/S reader -- it might be
5 difficult, especially -- more difficult for someone who didn't read the
6 language, but to a native B/C/S reader, that document can be read.
7 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Scott, we will proceed with this document
8 but you have to bear in mind that it's very difficult to read this
10 MR. SCOTT: I hear the Chamber, Your Honour.
11 Q. Sir, I put it to you -- do you recall -- this is a police -- this
12 is a report from the HVO military police in Prozor, titled, for the
13 record, "Report on offences against public law and order by Tuta's men in
14 Rama, Prozor municipality, which occurred on 17 and 18 June, 1993." And I
15 put it to you, sir, that you should indeed remember this incident because
16 didn't you personally have an altercation with Mr. Naletilic in connection
17 with these events?
18 A. Mr. Scott, believe me, this document can be read out, but cannot
19 be read quickly. Could I be given sometime, please, to read it through so
20 that I can be sure of my answers? Please. Have an understanding for my
21 desire not to answer by heart or to give you a wrong answer, and I simply
22 cannot read this document. It's almost illegible.
23 JUDGE LIU: Yes, you may have a few minutes to read it.
24 MR. SCOTT: Mr. President, while he's doing it, I say this only if
25 it will assist the Chamber. In the original, thicker binder of documents
1 which were provided to the Chamber at the beginning of the
2 cross-examination, if the Chamber were so inclined, you can probably find
3 this exhibit toward the very end of that binder, since I know we haven't
4 been able to look at all of those individually.
5 JUDGE LIU: Thank you very much.
6 MR. SCOTT: I'm told -- I was just told by Ms. Fleming that it
7 should be the sixth document from the back of the binder.
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I read it through.
9 MR. SCOTT:
10 Q. Do you now recall this incident -- these series of incidents, sir?
11 A. No, Mr. Scott. I can recall that subsequently I was informed
12 about the incidents and -- but frankly speaking, I do not know what it was
13 all about and what report of the military police was concerned. And in
14 this context, I cannot give you an answer that I would be able to defend.
15 MR. SCOTT: If I can have the usher's assistance please,
16 directing, in the English version, to the third page of the report,
18 Q. And Mr. Praljak, if you can please try to find, as best you can,
19 the paragraph -- try to -- it would appear to be on page numbered 2 on the
20 top. I'm referring -- the B/C/S version is numbered on the top. There is
21 the first sheet and then there is page 1 and page 2, and simply by
22 proximity, if you can look up on the page, a couple of paragraphs before
23 the indented -- there are some two paragraphs towards the bottom of that
24 page that have been indented, if you will. If you cast your eyes, please,
25 a couple of paragraphs above that, do you see the reference, it says,
1 "Later, through the invention of Mr. Praljak and Mr. Siljeg, the situation
2 calmed down. According to certain information, there were negative
3 activities in the Rama Brigade by Tuta's men but all of this fortunately
4 passed off without consequences."
5 Now, again, I ask you, does this assist your memory that you
6 personally did intervene in this situation or is the report -- is it your
7 position to this Chamber that the report is simply inaccurate in stating
9 A. Mr. Scott, I participated so many times in calming incidents down,
10 situations down, that I cannot, with 100 per cent certainty, say either
11 yes or no. This is a military police report which, except in terms of
12 operations, is not subordinate to the headquarters, to the Main Staff.
13 And in connection with this document, one should contact the military
14 police. The military police was parallel to the Main Staff, apart from
15 situations when they were located on the line and when they were given
16 operational orders.
17 Q. All right, sir. In light of your answer, I won't ask additional
18 questions about the document itself. But I'll ask you again, do you
19 recall, in connection with this particular set of incidents, a personal
20 altercation between you and Mr. Naletilic?
21 A. No, sir. I didn't have an altercation with Mr. Naletilic. I
22 would have surely remembered that. And how could I calm it down had I had
23 a personal altercation with him? If I calmed it down, then there was no
24 altercation with him. If I had an altercation with him, then I wouldn't
25 have been the right man to calm down the situation.
1 Q. And final question, sir, did you or anyone under -- subordinate
2 officer to you, did anyone in the HVO command structure take any
3 disciplinary action against Mr. Naletilic or his unit for this attack on
4 the military police?
5 A. Mr. Mladen Naletilic was not within the HVO structure, and the
6 Main Staff and Mr. Petkovic and I later on could not take, nor did we have
7 any reason to take, anything, any steps, against Mr. Mladen Naletilic.
8 Q. Sir, you've told us several times, I believe, in the last several
9 days that the Convicts Battalion was part of the HVO. Are you changing
10 your answer?
11 A. No, sir. But the Convicts Battalion, in the form in which I knew
12 about it, except for the first case I mentioned, and the Orlovac feature,
13 as its commander appeared Mr. Mario Hrkac and Mr. Andabak, and that is
14 also something that I repeated several times. Mr. Mladen Naletilic was
15 not a part of the military structure. Nor do I know him as a commander of
16 this unit in the military part.
17 Q. All right, sir. Just so the record is clear, then - I don't want
18 to sit down without this being clear - you're not disagreeing - you've not
19 changed your answer that the Convicts Battalion by whoever you say it was
20 commanded by, but you confirm again that the Convicts Battalion was part
21 of the HV -- military HVO, correct?
22 A. Correct, as for the structure of the HVO, which you showed me, and
23 I drew with a marker where the Convicts Battalion was, and I stand by it.
24 MR. SCOTT: Mr. Praljak, I thank you for your patience.
25 I have no further questions, Your Honour.
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. Scott.
2 JUDGE LIU: Any re-examination, Mr. Krsnik?
3 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour, because I believe
4 we have to clear up certain matters. It won't take too long
5 Re-examined by Mr. Krsnik:
6 Q. Distinguished Mr. Praljak, let me ask you about this minutes and
7 that is P -- this alleged meeting in Central Bosnia. Because I still --
8 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honour, this document, I still
9 do not know where it comes from, who it belongs to. We just received it
10 from our learned friends a few minutes ago. So a document which says,
11 that this is the war diary of Mr. Tihomir Blaskic, and I really don't know
12 where from this document, how did it crop up. It is a meeting in Central
13 Bosnia and it is P272.1?
14 Q. Could it interpretations or if you remember anything at all, or
15 the meeting was conducted that somebody took down your words as you spoke
16 or was it done later on?
17 A. Mr. Krsnik, I do not think that the minutes were taken right in
18 front of me.
19 Q. But did you sign it or did the participants sign the document to
20 authenticate it as is usually done?
21 A. No, we, I did not sign anything and of course, all sorts of
22 mistakes are possible. The text was not authenticated.
23 Q. Do you remember your words, and that is page 4 of the Croatian
24 version, second passage, "There will be extremism but realistically
25 speaking, they cannot get ..." I can't read that. Do you know anything
1 about that? Do you remember those words of that intervention that you
3 A. Well, yes, there is no doubt there were extremists in the
4 Bosnian-Hercegovinian war and I believe I am uttering a logical sentence
5 that the extremists will continue existing but, and we believe that after
6 the Vance-Owen Plan and after that we continued believing that, that we
7 believed that the extremists could not overpower those other forces that
8 were not extremists and that wanted both the end of the war and correctly
9 and justly organised Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
10 Q. Did you say here that the conflict between the Muslims and Croats
11 was the aim of KOS? Do you know what KOS is?
12 A. Yes. I know what KOS is. KOS is the counterintelligence service
13 of the Yugoslav People's Army and I know for certain that they exerted
14 themselves to provoke a war between Croats and Muslims so as to wash their
15 hands of the aggression in Bosnia and Herzegovina. And unfortunately,
16 they succeeded in doing so in part.
17 Q. Thank you, Mr. Praljak. Next question.
18 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Could the usher please help me?
19 P271, P27.1.
20 Q. My question is, did the Prosecutor ask you about the supposed,
21 alleged ultimatum issued by Mate Boban on the 2nd of April 1993, to the BH
22 Army and do you know anything about that?
23 A. Shall we wait for the document or do you want me to answer?
24 Q. You can start, begin your answer.
25 A. There were -- there was no ultimatum.
1 Q. PP, two Ps?
2 A. In Geneva it was agreed so as to prevent further escalation of the
3 conflict between Croats and Muslims and in line with any -- with every
4 military custom, that the units be re-attached to one another without
5 going into their number or their structure or their personnel affairs, so
6 as to avoid disorder and possible lack of -- mistrust of two armed forces.
7 And that is how every -- what every action of the United Nations looks
8 like, and within such action, even the Russian forces in Kosovo are
9 re-attached, placed under the subordination of the joint command while
10 preserving the full autonomy while they are on their own. And this order
11 says another thing, that along side with the reattachment joint staffs
12 will be set up which will, which will be commensurate to the size of the
13 forces which the HVO and the BH Army have on the front lines. But all
14 this was with a view to stopping the war and preventing possible new
15 clashes. That document is crystal clear and it expresses those wishes
16 that I have just told you about.
17 Q. Is this joint statement -- are you familiar with this joint
18 statement of Alija Izetbegovic and Mate Boban of the 2nd of April 1993?
19 A. Yes, I'm familiar with this statement. And I think that even I
20 participated in drawing it up.
21 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Excuse me, I'm being warned, Your
22 Honours, I'm referring to this document, PP271.
23 Q. Was this statement interpreted as an ultimatum?
24 A. Unfortunately, yes.
25 Q. Tell us, Mr. Praljak, did you ever?
1 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Exhibit P274.
2 MR. SCOTT: Mr. President, I don't anticipate, given the length of
3 this witness, having any further re-exam, but I do think in the interests
4 of that that it would be fair to put to the witness to make the record
5 clear that concerning this document the evidence in the case is that in
6 fact it was never signed by Mr. Izetbegovic and describe it as a joint
7 statement is not an accurate characterisation of the record.
8 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Krsnik, shall we stop here and during the
9 break, we will ask you to reorganise your documents order so that you
10 could show to the registry for them to have -- to be prepared for those
12 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I will take a very
13 short time. I'm organised. I have all documents here with me, and I
14 handed them over. And I will resume the examination after the break
15 especially view of what the Prosecutor said that Izetbegovic never signed
16 it and unfortunately has also made a statement in writing, but now you
17 will see the Prosecution's exhibit which speaks to the contrary. Thank
19 Sorry, I thought that we were having a break. I thought we were
20 about to have a break, and I thought I'd resume after it but it is up to
22 JUDGE LIU: Well, we'll have a break. We will rise until 12.30.
23 --- Break taken at 12.01 p.m.
24 --- On resuming at 12.30 p.m.
25 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, as we are waiting, my
1 colleagues are trying to talk me into -- well they are not really trying
2 to talk me into, but they want me to tell the Court -- perhaps this is not
3 the right time, but we are not feeling well because we are not allowed to
4 come out on to the terrace. We wanted to get some fresh air.
5 JUDGE DIARRA: [Interpretation] I'm afraid I'm not getting any
7 JUDGE LIU: Yes, I'm sorry.
8 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] I am sorry, I shall repeat, we are
9 all feeling slightly down. We wanted to come out on to the terrace, have
10 a cigarette, breathe some fresh air, but the security stopped us and said
11 that the Defence counsel were not allowed on to the terrace. Are we
12 second rate citizens? Why can't we go out? Why everybody else can? And
13 they told us to clarify -- to clear it up with you. I'm sorry, perhaps
14 this is not the time. Perhaps this is not a question that should be
15 addressed to you, but my colleagues agree here that we should talk to you
16 about this because we are really all feeling pretty poor. Pretty under
17 the weather.
18 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Krsnik, I think there should be no problem
19 for you to walk out on the terrace unless you don't have your robe on.
20 Anyway I will look into the matter and I'll ask the Registrar to tell us
21 what is the regulation from the security guard.
22 Yes, Mr. Krsnik, you may proceed with this witness.
23 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Thank you very much.
24 I'd now like to ask the usher document 295, P295. [In English]
25 Please, Mr. Usher, page number 6. Put on the ELMO, please.
1 Q. [Interpretation] Before I ask you that, let me ask you about the
2 date which is on the joint statement on that document. You have the
3 document there, if you don't remember. But never mind. Never mind. We
4 shall come to that later. The document clearly shows that it was signed
5 on the 2nd of April 1993. This is PP271. We do not have this document in
6 Croatian so that I will try to interpret it.
7 So the European Danish Delegation compiled a report in which they
8 copy the joint statement and say, "The agreement is dated the 2nd of April
9 1993, signed in Mostar, signed in Mostar, by Alija Izetbegovic and Mate
10 Boban." Do you know anything about this?
11 A. I am positive that such a statement was signed by Mr. Mate Boban
12 and Mr. Alija Izetbegovic.
13 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Please have document PP272 -- no,
14 P272. [In English] Put on the ELMO, please.
15 Q. [Interpretation] You see, Mr. Praljak, if you read this document,
16 of course, I do not know if you are familiar with it, because it's a
17 document of the 2nd of July, 1997 in which Mr. Alija Izetbegovic -- but I
18 mean you can read it yourself, item 1. So item one says, "I did not sign
19 the declaration in question, Izetbegovic Boban, and I was not in Mostar on
20 that day, the 2nd day of April 1993. I do not remember such a declaration
21 being put forward by any side and it is not in any of the documentation in
22 my possession, Alija Izetbegovic, Sarajevo, 22nd of July, 1997, attention,
23 Judge Claud Jorda."
24 A. I participated in the definition of the chief thesis of this
25 statement in Zagreb both with Mr. Boban and Mr. Izetbegovic and it was a
1 joint agreement. In item 4, envisages the establishment of a joint
2 command and I was also scheduled to join it.
3 Q. And did you become a member of the joint command?
4 A. Well, I was envisaged and an agreement had been reached about
5 that. However, it never came true because the Muslim side changed its
6 views so it never came true.
7 Q. Thank you. Mr. Praljak, you were asked about alleged incidents in
8 Tomislavgrad, in Livno, and I go back to the -- your answer during the
9 direct examination. Can you produce a better picture, a better insight,
10 by offering other examples? How did you or somebody else introduce
11 discipline? What did you do to se that the discipline does -- is enforced
12 and that the HVO is properly structured? Do you have any example?
13 A. Mr. Krsnik, I believe I spoke not about Livno but about Travnik,
14 and Capljina.
15 Q. But do you have some other example?
16 A. Oh, there are very many such examples, and believe me, that I
17 could spend days telling the Honourable Court and you and the Prosecution
18 about them. But then they simply cannot be abridged to a size that
19 would -- that is fit for this Court.
20 Q. But I'm referring only to the HVO, to the HVO structure, and your
21 role in it.
22 A. Believe me, it happened many times, in conflicts that happened
23 between the HVO and within the HVO, because there were such conflicts, and
24 between the HVO and the Muslim forces. On two occasions I personally
25 stopped clashes in Mostar by crossing to the east bank. I knew those guys
1 and I believe that at that time, many of them trusted me. However,
2 regrettably, for many reasons, the war took its own course and we were
3 increasingly impotent and I was impotent just as well but we have to
4 defend our own.
5 Q. Mr. Praljak, there is a question that I believe needs to be
6 clarified once and for all. I asked you if there were any ranks in the
7 HVO in 1992 and 1993. Do you remember your answer?
8 A. Ranks, army ranks, yes, even though they addressed us using ranks,
9 General Praljak, Colonel so, General so. Those ranks did not exist in the
10 HVO, the HVO was not -- did not have ranks until I believe 1994, and so
11 there were only commanding duties, a commander. There are two command
12 duties, commanding duties, a unit commander, for instance, a company
13 commander, a battalion commander, a brigade commander, and as regards
14 front lines, there is the commander of the operative zone and then with
15 within the operative zone there is the commander of a particular territory
16 of a particular front line, which is placed at his disposal and then there
17 are units which spend those 15 days or so, that is how long a shift
18 lasted, so they are then subordinated to such a commander.
19 Q. Tell us, how did those men, how did those individuals become
20 commanders, if you know? How could somebody become a commander in the HVO
21 at that time?
22 A. One became a commander, as often as, not by valour, if somebody
23 was brave. If somebody demonstrated initiative, a strong desire, then he
24 moved up in his career owing to such properties because in a situation
25 when the existence of a people is under threat, the military -- military
1 expertise, military knowledge which is acquired in academies in normal
2 states is made up for simply by the fact that at such a time, one must
3 know. And so one learns quickly and one masters certain military skill
4 very quickly.
5 Q. But who elects those people? Is it soldiers themselves who will
6 elect their commander by simply recognising such a person amongst
7 themselves, as somebody who is brave and who enjoys -- who commands
8 respect? I must tell you that authority can also be interpreted into
9 English as authority so when I say authority in Croatian, I mean somebody
10 who has strength, who commands respect. Or was he elected by somebody
11 else? And incidentally, you can also perhaps tell us how did Mostar come
12 about -- in Mostar, say, 1992, how did they come about? Who set them up?
13 How were they born? Will you explain the Honourable Court? Will you try
14 to paint the picture?
15 A. When I came to Mostar in April 1992, there were nine battalions of
16 the HVO, ex-- based exclusively on neighbourhoods, that is, areas, several
17 streets, or a locality, so neighbourhoods. And the same principle then
18 underlay the organisation of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina. With me from
19 a former front line in Croatia, from Sunja, seven volunteers arrived with
20 me. And I placed at Muslims' disposal, all of them, all seven of them so
21 that they would learn faster what to my mind one has to learn -- what one
22 had to learn because I knew that the war was arriving there from the Serb
23 side. It was already in full swing.
24 Q. And how were they armed? Was it friends from the neighbourhood,
25 friends from the street? You know, I can't lead you?
1 A. No, no, no, don't lead me, I'm trying to. When I say
2 neighbourhood, an area or a street, then it seems to me that within it,
3 all is clear. The most courageous in a particular neighbourhood would be
5 Q. Yes, of course it is clear to you, but I'm asking to you to tell
6 it, to explain it to the Court?
7 A. And the weapons arrived in all ways imaginable.
8 Q. And do you know if people bought themselves or smuggled them or
9 sold them individually, procured them individually in -- equally in Bosnia
10 and outside Bosnia, in Europe? Did people who worked in Europe bring
11 them? Will you tell us something about that?
12 A. Well, I can answer your question very peacefully. Now, weapons
13 were smuggled and brought in despite the embargo, which regardless the
14 fact that one respects and abides by the international community's
15 principles, was an unjust measure imposed upon a people that had been
16 attacked without at the same time preventing the aggressor from these
17 attacks. So either the aggressor had to be stopped or the attacked nation
18 had to be allowed to get weapons. Since both the Croats and the Muslims
19 had thousands of people who lived in Germany, in Sweden, in the
20 Netherlands, in France, literally people from all over the world, through
21 money, helped and were smuggling weapons in their passenger cars across
22 the border. Everybody who was willing to sell the weapons was welcome. To
23 my mind, the embargo became less stringent later on. Therefore we able to
24 purchase weapons from some countries, and the weapons were let through by
25 even some authorities, because it was considered wrong for the people to
1 be left without defences and to be killed without the right to defend
3 Q. Mr. Praljak, you have to answer my first question. Were the
4 commanders elected or chosen from among the soldiers or were they
5 appointed by somebody else?
6 A. If I answer that they were selected from among the people, the
7 strongest and the most courageous, then I answered sufficiently.
8 Q. Yes. I don't want to pursue. I just want to go on to an order
9 which the learned friend mentioned.
10 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I would like to offer
11 at this point another clarification. About a year ago, I think it was
12 about a year ago, I don't know exactly when, we brought in the 17 binders
13 and the filings included an order, Defence Exhibit number -- Exhibit
14 564.1. The document, Your Honours, it is an order dated August 12, 1993.
15 In the course of the cross-examination, Mr. Branica was focusing upon it
16 and you will note that on the first page, at the bottom, it says, "End of
17 document." Nothing follows. No seal. No signature. Nothing. During
18 the cross-examination, however, page 6 was attached to this very same
19 order, although it had been said before that nothing else was contained in
20 this document, and on this page 6, which had -- sorry, corrects himself,
21 the Defence Council, page 2 had been added, although in the course of the
22 cross-examination it was said that there was no second page. On this
23 second page, there is in print written, "Signature, Mr. Praljak," not
24 signed by Mr. Praljak. And this has nothing to do with the order that had
25 been issued by Mr. Praljak a year ago and Mr. Praljak contested it.
1 In this exhibit, 564.1, it says, at the end of the first page,
2 "End of document." Sorry, it is Exhibit 563, Exhibit 563, it says, "End
3 of document," no seal, no signature. We can put all these documents on to
4 the ELMO. In the course of the cross-examination, Exhibit P564 contains a
5 page for which it had been claimed by the learned friend that this is part
6 of the same order, although a year ago, he said that there was no second
7 page to this document.
8 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Scott, maybe you can give some information on
10 MR. SCOTT: No, Mr. President I can not give any response to any
11 of these matters in a vacuum at all. Are these questions for the
12 witness? Why are we doing this while the witness is sitting here unless
13 there is a question for the witness. I'll be happy to examine these
14 matters, but this doesn't sound like questions for me.
15 JUDGE LIU: Maybe we can come back to this issue while we are
16 admitting the documents.
17 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] I would like the usher to help me.
18 Exhibit 564.1, please. Could you bring it?
19 I apologise. Do you need any help? It's Exhibit 564.1 from the
20 binder with the title, "Praljak."
21 JUDGE CLARK: The only reason I was asking is that sometimes you
22 refer to a document 563 and then 564. There are two documents. Okay.
23 That clears it up.
24 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I tried to explain it.
25 I don't know if I've succeeded. So the document 563 had been submitted us
1 a year ago and now we are referring to document 564.1.
2 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
3 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation]
4 Q. Mr. Praljak, would you be kind enough to study this document
5 thoroughly once again? First question, Mr. Praljak, would you please
6 check page 2, paragraph 6 or 7? Is this usually a part of each command --
7 order, if you are familiar with that, or not?
8 A. No. It is not. This was not contained in each order.
9 Q. Fine. Thank you. Could you tell me now, is this your signature?
10 A. This is not my signature.
11 Q. Could anybody at any time sign on your behalf without your
13 A. Nobody during the war was allowed to sign an order in any form on
14 my behalf. A war is a very serious, very painful, and a very responsible
15 matter. Nothing like that is allowed. Everybody must sign their own
17 Q. Could you tell us whether you have ever had an assistant, an aide?
18 A. No. In the HVO, nor in the Croatian Army, did we have aides.
19 Q. Thank you, Mr. Praljak. And now let's proceed to the last order.
20 This is document P558.2.
21 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] While we are waiting let me put this
22 question to you.
23 Q. The order which the learned friend used trying to say that it was
24 an order for the alleged attack, is this an order part of the combat
25 readiness which was usually referred to or was this an order which was
1 specifically requested from you? I think it is the order of August the
3 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] The usher, would you help me,
4 please? [In English] Because of the time. We have English version and --
5 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Krsnik, this is what I mean by reorganising
6 your documents because it's very difficult to find those documents in
7 those binders so maybe during the break if you want to use any documents,
8 you had better provide with the Registrar a list of these documents so
9 they could have it prepared before we start.
10 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, we received these
11 documents today, that is, on Friday, from one binder, about Mr. Praljak,
12 which we had received a few days ago. I thought we had them on hand. I
13 apologise, but I'm just following the learned friend's work.
14 Q. Can you tell me whether this is a daily, regular order made in a
15 war to put the troops in the state of full combat readiness?
16 A. In any war, in any army, or armed forces, this type of orders are
17 issued almost every day or it is very rarely that whenever information has
18 been received about possible activity to be launched by the enemy, not to
19 prepare an order on the basis of the intelligence service information.
20 Q. Could you be more specific, from where was it -- the order sent
21 and what is the date?
22 A. The order was sent from the Main Staff, HVO Main Staff, on July
23 28th, 1993.
24 Q. And who were the addressees of the order?
25 A. The Operational Zone Southeast Herzegovina all brigades of the
1 Operational Zone Southeast Herzegovina and the Operational Zone North-west
2 Herzegovina. By the way, I did not sign this order. But in military
3 terms, it is a logical one, and it's quite all right.
4 Q. What was the length, to put it that way, of the battle line when
5 you arrived there and took over the command?
6 A. The HVO at that time had about 2.000 kilometres of front line,
7 with the Serbian army and with the Muslims living in all the enclaves, if
8 we add up all these front lines, they extended over more than 2.000
10 Q. The learned friend in his question mentioned that in Bosnia, the
11 HVO units attacked Mostar. Is this true, or do you have a counterclaim,
12 if it is not true?
13 A. The number of the Croats and the units of the HVO in central
14 Bosnia was such that in comparison with the number of Muslim units in the
15 Tuzla basin, in the Zenica basin, and in other towns, was such that it is
16 simply logically impossible to assume that somebody would be foolish
17 enough to attack an enemy which has ten-fold number or units, even though
18 this were a part of the political decision, as has often been alleged
19 here. All HVO brigades that were in Sarajevo -- in Stup, in Tuzla, Sol,
20 then in Zenica, by then had been disbanded by the BIH army, with more or
21 less casualties, but I still owe Their Honours and the learned friend, Mr.
22 Scott, an answer to the question, who were the casualties when the
23 incident had happened which we have seen in the videotape that you had
24 shown to Their Honours.
25 JUDGE LIU: Well, Witness, the Defence counsel asked you about
1 very specific question, that is the HVO units attacked Mostar.
2 Concentrate your answer on that particular location. I mean you have to
3 answer this question whether the HVO attacked Mostar or not. This is a
4 very specific question.
5 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I don't know what was
6 the translation, because I cannot follow the translation, the transcript.
7 But my question was whether it is true that the HVO started the attacks
8 following the learned friend's claim in Central Bosnia, but not just in
9 Mostar. I didn't limit myself to Mostar only. I don't know how this was
10 translated, but the witness certainly can answer your question, Your
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No. We were attacked, the HVO was
13 attacked. The enclaves which were there were shrinking. They were
14 exposed to ever-fiercer strikes, and at the expense of very severe combat,
15 they managed to survive, not all of them, not Vares, not Vojno, not
16 Bugojno, et cetera.
17 Q. Konjic, Jablanica, the Neretva valley, who attacked whom there, if
18 you have any knowledge of that? And what do you personally know, what
19 crimes were then perpetrated in the Croatian enclaves, if you have
20 knowledge of that?
21 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Scott?
22 MR. SCOTT: Mr. President, two objections, one is with all
23 respect, and allowing for my long cross-examination certainly, but with
24 all respect, I don't think the purpose of re-direct is to cover the same
25 ground that was covered on direct examination, number 1.
1 Secondly, to the extent that calls for an answer about involving
2 tu quoque, we again object as all ways.
3 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Krsnik, the purpose of re-examination is not
4 to give you another chance for your direct examination. I think in this
5 aspect, your question should concentrate on challenging or reputing any
6 cross-examination put forward by the Prosecution. Secondly, Mr. Krsnik,
7 we are not interested in who attacked whom during this conflict. We
8 understand that all sides did some terrible things to each other. That's
9 not the subject matter of this trial.
10 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Certainly, Your Honours. You know
11 that in the indictment, it is alleged that the HVO on the 16th of April,
12 attacked and the learned friend in cross-examination tried to confirm this
13 allegation, so I just wanted to have the witness confirm whether this is
14 true. When the Prosecutor asked about a crime which has nothing to do
15 with this indictment, my question was to the witness, whether the Defence
16 submission that the HVO did not attack, that the ABiH attacked all
17 territories inhabited by the Croatian Army, and I don't know from whom
18 they were defending them, under the disguise of defence. In fact, I am
19 continuing with the submissions made in the course of the
20 cross-examination by the learned friend today. I know that I speak fast
21 and I can't change, but when I mentioned the Croatian Army, what I had in
22 mind was the HVO. I apologise. I cannot concentrate at all time and
23 sometimes I fail to mention the HVO.
24 JUDGE LIU: Well --
25 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] When I say Croatian, sorry, Your
1 Honours, when I say the Croatian army, I would like to make it clear that
2 from this point onward, I am referring to the HVO.
3 JUDGE LIU: Well.
4 MR. SCOTT: Mr. President --
5 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Krsnik, we have heard a lot about the issue,
6 who attacked whom, and we know that terrible incidents happened during
7 that period. So you may skip that question.
8 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Certainly, Your Honours, I'll skip it
9 but unfortunately it seems to me neither the public opinion knows it nor
10 have they been charged by this Tribunal, but I will certainly skip that.
11 Q. This is my last question, Mr. Praljak. The situation in Mostar
12 when you were there, the Prosecutor put to you questions about the alleged
13 shellings. How frequently was, to your knowledge, Western Mostar shelled
14 and whether the targets were selected or were shellings from the eastern
15 to the western bank made by chance without any plan? Was this a typical
16 house-to-house combat situation?
17 A. A typical house-to-house combat. The front line is located inside
18 the town. It is my submission that both sides were firing equally at one
19 another. It is my submission that our side never wanted to target
20 civilians, but it is quite undisputed that this could have happened. And
21 it is my submission that on the right bank of the Neretva, in the part of
22 the town under HVO authority, there were at all times, at least 8.000
23 Muslims there.
24 Q. Final question: How often did the shelling happen by the ABiH of
25 Western Mostar and where did the bombs land?
1 A. Well, Mr. Krsnik, how frequently? That's difficult to answer.
2 But let me repeat, that I spent quite some time in Rama and Gornji Vakuf
3 but this was frequent. It was frequent, the town was shelled.
4 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. Praljak. Thank you
5 very much for your patience and thank you for coming. This is the end of
6 my re-direct.
7 JUDGE LIU: Thank you. Mr. Seric?
8 MR. SERIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours, only three
10 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Seric, generally speaking, if you did not
11 make the direct examination, you are not allowed to cross, to re-examine
12 this witness. But as you said at the very beginning to us, this witness
13 is your common witness, and Mr. Krsnik took the words from your mouth. I
14 mean he asked the questions you wanted to ask. So in this circumstances,
15 I will allow you to do your re-examination. Yes, you may proceed.
16 MR. SERIC: [Interpretation] Thank you very much, Mr. President.
17 Re-examined by Mr. Seric.
18 Q. Mr. Praljak, during the cross-examination the question of your
19 rank arose, of your rank in the Croatian Army, the Croat Defence Council
20 or today. When did your active duty -- when your active duty stops, are
21 you entitled to your rank nevertheless? And are you still addressed as
23 A. When the war ended, I retired. One can write in the public only a
24 retired general. And the use of all the other things, uniform, when one
25 says general, that is all regulated by the rules of the Ministry of
1 Defence of the Republic of Croatia.
2 Q. I will omit one question and shall move on to the next one. Do
3 you know that in the strategy and tactics of warfare, there are also
4 legitimate combats under urban conditions?
5 A. Yes, there are legitimate military actions in urban conditions,
6 and it is thought that under wartime conditions, civilians living in urban
7 centres, in the streets of which there is fighting, are, in the zone of
8 combat and therefore they are responsible for their own fate. Example:
9 When General McArthur in World War II was taking Manila, he proclaimed the
10 city an open city. The troops surrendered and the civilians are then
11 protected by the law of war, under those conditions. If the civilians are
12 in the same area and the same buildings are in the proximity of buildings
13 where the fighting is going on, then it is impossible to separate military
14 action from possible civilian victims.
15 Q. Thank you very much. I have no further questions.
16 JUDGE LIU: Judge Clark?
17 Questioned by the Court:
18 JUDGE CLARK: General Praljak, I have a few questions for you.
19 I'm going back to the early days of the independence of the Republic
20 Croatia and you told us about your background at university and then your
21 position as a director in the Croatian television making documentaries, I
22 think, you said, and films. And then you explained to us that any
23 right-thinking member of Croatian society would obviously rush to the
24 defence of their fatherland when it was being attacked and so you came to
25 be in the Croatian Army.
1 JUDGE DIARRA: [Interpretation] Judge Clark, I'm sorry.
2 JUDGE CLARK: I stand corrected. I'm just giving a brief synopsis
3 of some of what you said. And you explained then how although you had no
4 military training but you had done a lot of reading, you came to be a
5 highly positioned member of the Croatian Army.
6 Now, was the Croatian Army at that stage made up of a core of
7 people who had -- who had been used to responsibility like you but with no
8 military background but also a hard core of soldiers who had been properly
9 trained and who had come from the JNA?
10 A. I was not a television director. I worked in the theatre. I did
11 some documentaries. The majority of people, but we have to have the time
12 frame. In 1991, in 1991, the majority of people on the ground were
13 volunteers and the majority of them had not passed any officer training,
14 but when called upon by president Franjo Tudjman, then many Croats,
15 officers in the Yugoslav People's Army quit the Yugoslav People's Army.
16 General Tus, General Stipetic, General Agotic and they then took over all
17 the responsibilities, all the business dealing with the restructuring of
18 the army. They did more that kind of job than organising the defence
19 lines on the ground. So they were by and large in staffs, in headquarters
20 rather than on the ground. I went in my civilian clothes as a foot
21 soldier, fully aware, and I would like to repeat this once again, and no
22 matter how long it may take, because I wanted to live in freedom. And I'd
23 like to repeat another war, if only it would make me feel as a free man.
24 I had no dilemmas about that and I believe the same applies to a large
25 part of the Croat people.
1 JUDGE CLARK: I'm talking, Mr. Praljak, about the Croatian
2 Republic only and the difficulties with the Serbian aggression. We are
3 not talking about Bosnia and Hercegovina at this stage. Did you --
4 starting off as a foot soldier, I take it you very rapidly became a
5 general in Croatia. Did -- who appointed you as a general?
6 A. I've already said that I went to the area of Sisak and after three
7 months or so, together with a very well known director in the former
8 Yugoslavia, Mr. Medjumorec and a well-known actor, Sven Lastor, we were
9 invited to President Tudjman's and he asked us to accept ranks. Truth to
10 tell, I said "Well, I'd rather not have a rank." I said, "I'd rather only
11 keep the title of a commander of something." But Mr. President, at that
12 time, affirmed that the army had to have ranks, that it had to be
13 structured, more with every day, and that would be -- would we be so kind
14 as to assume such a responsibility? So there was no reason for to us say
15 no. And I honourably assumed my first rank and I still feel honourable
16 with this rank.
17 JUDGE CLARK: I have to say it was the faster rise than most
18 people are used to. Did you, Mr. Praljak, while you spent the little
19 time, the three months, obviously becoming acquainted with soldiering, did
20 you at any stage learn anything about the rules of war, the Geneva
21 Conventions, the conventions of war, or was this something that you knew
22 about from reading and as an educated man?
23 A. I already knew it all, Your Honour. I knew it all. And I never
24 missed in Sunja or later, I never allowed that anywhere in my vicinity or
25 in the area covered by my power that something happens that would run
1 contrary to all the rules of warfare.
2 JUDGE CLARK: You also explained to us, Mr. Praljak, a few days
3 ago, and I think I might even have asked you some questions at that stage
4 about how in the early days of the war, that with the best intentions of
5 the commander, like you, to prevent any atrocities, if you had no police
6 structure or no discipline with newly formed troops to prevent any
7 possible atrocities in 1992, I think you were talking about, an incident
8 outside Mostar, when you seized control of a Serb installation. Now, what
9 I want to ask you, Mr. Praljak, is did the army progress between 1992 and
10 1993, to a better formed, trained and disciplined army, in
11 Bosnia-Herzegovina? Now, we've moved stations.
12 A. In Croatia, the situation became much easier because there was a
13 part of the state which could function as a state. In Bosnia-Herzegovina,
14 the situation was much more difficult. Your Honours, to man 2.000
15 kilometre long front lines under normal wartime conditions would require 2
16 million men, 2 million soldiers, and we have 400.000 inhabitants. As
17 regards the structuring of the army of the HVO, we were successful as
18 between April until autumn, 1992, both in terms of structure, discipline
19 and various other terms, because there was still a forceful hope that the
20 war would be resolved quickly. International forces arrived and the
21 peoples who lived down there and especially among Croats, strongly
22 believed that the west would bring a fair peace to those lands. When I
23 say the west, I mean through their political and military intervention.
24 Regrettably towards the end of 1992, as I have already said, the Muslim
25 approach to the political organisation of Bosnia-Herzegovina changed, the
1 Vance-Owen Plan fell through and the success then began to decrease.
2 JUDGE CLARK: Mr. Praljak we are moving away from what I'm really
3 asking you. What I want to know is that by mid-1993, had the army of
4 Herceg-Bosna, the HVO, become used to the concept of military discipline
5 and the application of the rules of war?
6 A. Yes. The troops were acquainted with orders and decisions of the
7 government, I mean the decisions of the HVO government, and in that
8 respect, the facts are very clear, but in 1993, because of the major war
9 effort, the structure, the structuring was worse than in 1992.
10 JUDGE CLARK: So is what you're saying, Mr. Praljak, is that after
11 the conflicts became interCroat and Muslim, discipline broke down, that
12 enmity was such that the rules of war might have been forgotten?
13 A. Yes, Your Honour. The expelled -- the vast number of dead, a
14 disproportionately large number of dead for such a small population,
15 entailed all that -- I mean everybody who has watched any war knows what
16 kind of a chaos is created. I do not say that a crime can be justified by
17 another crime, but it is an undisputed fact that a crime produces a crime.
18 And that it is very, very difficult to stop. Unless one has a global
19 solution to the problem and unfortunately that was lacking until
20 Srebrenica and Dayton.
21 JUDGE CLARK: I want to move from that, then, Mr. Praljak, if I
22 may, to another aspect of the HVO. Do I understand you correctly that
23 this is an organisation that had a political wing and a military wing and
24 that whereas you were the Chief of Staff of the military wing, you
25 obviously were subservient to the political wing?
1 A. Yes, Your Honour. The first there was the Ministry of Defence,
2 and as the -- and Mr. Mate Boban was the commander above the Ministry of
4 JUDGE CLARK: Would you have been aware, Mr. Praljak, that
5 Mr. Boban went on a fairly regular basis to report on the conduct of the
6 war to Zagreb, to President Tudjman?
7 A. I was aware of that and I knew about that. I knew that not only
8 Mr. Boban but I with almost all the Muslim commanders, with Mr. Boban,
9 with Mr. Izetbegovic, believe me, there were dozens of meetings, and
10 always we would have to start the same story from the beginning, how to
11 stop, how to put an end, and unfortunately, it all depended on the
12 political solution, which was not being offered, that is the parties
13 remained on the opposed sides and of course the Serbs also wanted their
14 share in all this, and that is how it went on and on.
15 JUDGE CLARK: Mr. Praljak, I don't want to you misunderstand my
16 question. I was specifically referring to Mr. Boban and others from the
17 HVO government, the political wing of it, going regularly to Mr. Tudjman
18 to report on the conduct and progress of the war and not the
19 negotiations. Were you aware that this was happening? I'm not talking
20 about negotiations.
21 A. No, Madam, we did not submit reports on the progress of war
22 because after all one could hear it in the news, in all the news. There
23 were no military secrets there. But neither did the Muslim nor the Croat
24 part of Bosnia can do anything or do anything without going through the
25 Republic of Croatia, be it weapons or clothing or bread or flour or milk.
1 Nothing at all. So there were talks about how to do that, and that
2 happened from one day to the other, because in war, everything is
3 possible, but no military reports. Yes, there may have been
4 conversations about it, but nothing in the form of reports, Your Honour.
5 JUDGE CLARK: I'm going to ask you quite a lot of questions, on
6 another aspect but before we come to that, there was a question that was
7 put to you by Mr. Scott that interested me. Your answer interested me.
8 You were asked about the leadership of the KB on a number of occasions and
9 you said that after a particular event, where you shared command with
10 Mr. Naletilic, that as far as you were aware, Mr. Andabak was the leader
11 of the KB, the Convicts Battalion. When Mr. Scott pressed you at a later
12 stage about the fact that Mr. Naletilic was the leader of the Convicts
13 Battalion, and that has been the Prosecution case, you answered, and I
14 took a note of it, you said that in the form that you knew the Convicts
15 Battalion, the commander was Andabak. You didn't know of Mr. Naletilic
16 being the commander of this group in the military part. Now, two parts of
17 that response make me believe that you perceived the Convicts Battalion as
18 having a military aspect and a political aspect. And that's the answer --
19 that's how I interpreted your answer. Do you have any comment to make on
21 A. I'm answering with full confidence, Your Honour. This battalion
22 had absolutely no political say, no political influence, in any matter,
23 but Mr. Andabak, Mr. Mario Hrkac, Cikota, at whose funeral I attended
24 because he was a very valiant soldier appeared as commanders. And
25 Mr. Tuta only when I mentioned him not that he spoke there, he simply
1 commanded authority. He commanded respect. In 1992 May, place, Orlovac,
2 I described that exactly.
3 JUDGE CLARK: The reason that Mr. Scott I'm sure is putting these
4 questions and I'm putting the questions is that we have a wealth of
5 documents which indicate that the commander of the KB was Mr. Mladen
6 Naletilic, but you say in the form that you knew it, it was Mr. Andabak
7 who was the commander.
8 A. Madam, you must have read Churchill's statement that one lies so
9 much in wartime as much as in hunting and before the elections, you know
10 this war was replete with lies about events, about persons, about
11 meanings. Everybody wanted to be bigger, larger, more important. I am
12 saying what I think is the truth, and I stand by that.
13 JUDGE CLARK: I want to ask you, Mr. Praljak, about the system of
14 signing orders. I believe you told us that there were no two nights that
15 is you spent in the same bed during the period that you were Chief of
16 Staff in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Does that mean that you had no headquarters?
17 A. No. We did have our headquarters, Your Honour. During that
18 period of time, when I was the commander, the headquarters was in Citluk,
19 in Herzegovina, near Medjugorje, but at that time, the most intensive
20 Muslim offensive was about to start. And much more important was to be on
21 the ground, and one simply had to be on the ground because the units were
22 in a very difficult situation, completely exhausted, and the command, as
23 one thinks, one ought to comment in French or American army, that did not
24 exist. Mr. Tole stayed down there, around Mostar, in Citluk Mr. Petkovic
25 went to enclaves in central Bosnia, and I, I went to the area around Rama
1 and Gornji Vakuf and I spent much more time on the front line with
2 soldiers than in offices or in a good bed. That is a problem which will
3 arise -- I mean in the contents of notions when we speak about army
4 command, the general, battalion, very little of what one usually means by
5 these terms in normal armies existed over there. I had to be on the front
6 line daily. I had to run from one position to another, to boost the
7 morale and at long last, we managed to stop this very forceful, I repeat,
8 offensive of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, led by their commander.
9 JUDGE CLARK: So you spent most of your time around Rama and
10 Gornji Vakuf. So what happened when you had to issue an order? Did you
11 have a secretariat? Did you have somebody to type out? Did you have a
12 collection of note paper with you? How did you effect the distribution
13 and the bringing into existence of an order?
14 A. All three of us, Tole, Petkovic, myself, we all enjoyed the
15 autonomy of command. I do not know what general command could I have
16 signed then. There was nothing like it then. It was the fighting every
17 day, very hard, and orders usually referred to very narrow pieces of
18 territory, that is the front has been broken through, this or that, the
19 orders referred to smaller units, to smaller segments of the front line. I
20 do not think that it was possible to sign a single general order because
21 the situation varied from one area to another, except that we were always
22 defending ourselves, and such an order would have served no purpose
24 JUDGE CLARK: Mr. Praljak, you have denied the validity of a
25 number of orders and in fact, alleged that some of them are forgeries, so
1 what I want to know, and this is an important part of your evidence to
2 clarify for me and the Bench, is if you wanted to issue an order and you
3 were in Gornji Vakuf or another town near the front, how would you get it
4 typed up? And how would you distribute it?
5 A. I would have signed such an order because there would be its
6 original and then the Paket Communication would be used to be sent to
7 Central Bosnia or to Citluk or I'd take my car and go to Citluk and
8 sign it.
9 JUDGE CLARK: You still haven't explained to me, Mr. Praljak how
10 it would be typed up. Did you have a secretariat? Did you have a soldier
11 whose job it was to take care of documents and did he follow you?
12 A. No. I'd find always somebody, usually a female person, who knew
13 how to type and then it would be dictated to her. You know, there were
14 some ladies in our army too. They would either be with the medical
15 service or in the kitchen or typing and so I would dictate it to her, sign
16 it and then the Paket Communication was used to send to either General
17 Petkovic or to Zarko Tole.
18 JUDGE CLARK: Excuse me for two minutes, please.
19 [Trial Chamber confers]
20 JUDGE CLARK: The question I really I'm leading to or the series
21 of questions is that armies seem to be like civil servants. Is that --
22 and bureaucracy, a copy is kept of everything and there would be one filed
23 in headquarters, one sent to the various recipients and one sent for
24 archives. What was the system that you either introduced or inherited
25 with the HVO in relation to the retention and archiving of reports and
2 A. In the early days of the war, in Croatia and in Bosnian Croatia
3 and in the Croatian Army in which I was and in the HVO, this -- in the
4 early days, depended on how well the commander himself was organised. And
5 in the early days, very little was put down on paper, very few things were
6 filed. Later on, even in the Ministry of Defence, I invested effort, I
7 mean the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Croatia, I started working
8 towards collecting as much documentation as possible and then later on in
9 the HVO we endeavoured to record to file and to store. They were officers
10 made responsible for it in the headquarters, and then I do not know where
11 it ended up in the Ministry of Defence or rather the Department of Defence
12 of the HVO.
13 JUDGE CLARK: But was there a system that you knew of that
14 documents which were emanated from your particular office or any command
15 would be retained, filed and sent to the Ministry of Defence for
17 A. No, Your Honour. Believe me, I never tackled this problem. I
18 didn't consider it important, nor did I have time for it, for me at that
19 time, I was left with no energy or strength to even ask that question now
20 that I think back.
21 JUDGE CLARK: If, as Chief of Staff an order had to be made in an
22 area of the war which was a distance from you and we've heard from other
23 witnesses how travel was difficult, the terrain was difficult, the war was
24 fragmented and travelling wasn't easy. It was also very mountainous, we
25 believe. How would you be able to give an order when you had been told, I
1 take it, by telephone or otherwise, that something had happened in another
2 area and it required direction or an order from you? How would you issue
3 an order in those circumstances?
4 A. Well, by and large, under such circumstances, I would hear it over
5 the phone, or we'd have a conversation, and then I'd give some general
6 instructions, and they were always the same practically, "Defend it.
7 Don't give in, forcefully." You know, wartime words. We must -- and then
8 the commander of that unit would issue operative orders, where should,
9 which unit, but I repeat, Your Honour, more -- much more, 80 per cent of
10 what happened happened, both good and bad things, happened beyond and
11 outside any orders, so if there was a strong feeling that one wanted to
12 defend something, then no order could prevent or change the image. We
13 didn't have even the embryo of what is normally called a state
14 organisation, state apparatus, to have a decision implemented, let alone
15 prevent a violation, and that is why an individual played a major role,
16 his resoluteness, the determination, the respect, the will. It is
17 difficult to say that there were the embryos, the germ of organisation in
18 spite of the will to organise.
19 JUDGE CLARK: One final question for you, Mr. Praljak. You've had
20 a long day. Did you ever receive, as Chief of Staff, did you ever receive
21 reports from the military police about any of their concerns about what
22 was happening in the area? Or did you receive any reports from the
23 military police at all?
24 A. No, Madam. The military police did not submit reports to the Main
25 Staff of the Croat Defence Council. May I give a broader answer to this
1 question? In the beginning, while still in Croatia, when we talked if the
2 military police should be subordinated to the army, as is customary in
3 normal armies, then the problem arose that considering the very
4 underdeveloped structure it might happen that a commander could also
5 become a dictator, and thus rule the military police too, to make charges
6 and to impose his will. And it was then decided that it would be more
7 democratic even if perhaps less organisationally good, if in parallel with
8 the army a military police were set up, a military police that would not
9 be accountable to the Main Staff and the chief of the army, unless he
10 requested that the unit, because of the bad situation on the front line,
11 be sent to the front line. But he could not make any personnel changes,
12 call to account, or and the Main Staff couldn't -- and outside the
13 operative deployment, the Main Staff had nothing to do with it.
14 JUDGE CLARK: You didn't quite answer the question that I was
15 putting. Did you personally -- there was the question that Mr. Scott
16 posed to you about a particular incident but I'm just asking you, did you
17 ever receive reports in relation to what the military police were
18 reporting was happening on the ground, especially in Mostar?
19 A. I could have asked for a report to be submitted to me but I did
20 not receive them on a regular basis, nor were they obliged to send them to
21 me. I could just give them a ring to ask what was going on, what
22 happened, what I was hearing about, but not as a part of the structured
23 communication, but rather my private right to put a question to them.
24 JUDGE CLARK: Thank you, Mr. Praljak, I'm sure the other judges
25 have questions for you.
1 JUDGE LIU: Well, we could sit here a little bit longer.
2 Yes, Judge Diarra?
3 JUDGE DIARRA: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
4 Mr. Praljak, I should like to hear from you some explanations and
5 clarifications concerning your military situation, as a regular officer of
6 the HVO -- sorry, of the HV, of the Croatian Army, that is, to leave your
7 positions and to go to Bosnia as you have explained it to us, you needed a
8 clear, specific invitation. Were you put at their disposal to travel to
9 the area which your forces usually were not stationed at, or would you be
10 made available to do that, which would mean that your original forces
11 would be able to follow your activities, or would you simply be issued an
12 allowance to take a leave or would you just leave without any particular
14 A. Your Honour, well, we can imagine that there is Yugoslavia without
15 any citizenship, neither Croatian nor Bosnian and Hercegovinian, because
16 there is no such state. Through the attack on Croatia, in the Croatian
17 Army, we would have many troops who come from Bosnia-Herzegovina, who were
18 -- are both Croats and Muslims. Through the attack of the Serbian army
19 upon Bosnia-Herzegovina, towards the end of March, the then chief command
20 -- chief in command of the Croatian Army, General Tus, T-u-s, issued a
21 decree ordering that all those who might, tomorrow, become citizens of
22 Bosnia-Herzegovina - at that time it was not certain whose citizens they
23 are - can leave the Croatian Army to fight in the territory of the
24 then-unrecognised Bosnia-Herzegovina, and in the meantime, their families
25 would receive some payment for that, because if this had not been done,
1 had the families of those who went to fight were not taken care of, then
2 we would have been doing something very ugly. Throughout that period, it
3 was not known what is state sovereignty, whether through the establishment
4 of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia must dismiss those people from its ranks
5 who came from Bosnia-Herzegovina or give them citizenship or whatever.
6 This is the situation in which, on a voluntary basis, I myself, as well as
7 many others, for reasons that I have mentioned before, decided to go down
8 there, Your Honour.
9 JUDGE DIARRA: [Interpretation] Thank you. In April, 1992, at
10 Siroki Brijeg, in Citluk, in Capljina, people called you "commander." Did
11 you have any patches, any insignia as commander? Or perhaps some people
12 called you "general." I'd like to know what kind of insignia did you
13 wear? Were they the HV insignia or the HVO?
14 A. I am not sure that I have allowed myself -- well, it may have
15 happened, when I arrived there quickly, to have an HV insignia, but I
16 always had the HVO insignia, without any general's insignia. Well, they
17 could be there as well. You know, I didn't always have two uniforms, Your
18 Honour. So most frequently, there were no insignia on my uniform, the
19 uniform would just be provided for me. But the problem had always been
20 that since I'm very tall, it was very difficult to locate a uniform that I
21 could fit into. So I did not have the HV insignia, although it may be
22 that sometimes when I couldn't change, they were on, but not as an
23 official sign of HV but rather because of technical reasons, I wasn't able
24 to change into something else.
25 They called me "general" because that meant a high degree of
1 safety to the people. You know, in people -- in -- at a wartime, people
2 sometimes put additional feathers on, to be thus given more significance,
3 a sort of a metaphysics of humans' existence. This was necessary.
4 JUDGE DIARRA: [Interpretation] I'm not satisfied with this answer
5 but I will move on. You spoke about the liberation of hills around Mostar
6 in May, 1992, with Mr. Naletilic. Did Mr. Naletilic take part in this
7 liberation and in what capacity? And this was the liberation from whom,
8 from which force?
9 A. In the mountains above Mostar, at that time, there was the corps
10 commanded -- the corps of the JNA commanded by General Perisic, and the
11 Chetniks were also there. Mr. Naletilic -- I described it very exactly,
12 earlier, also, what was his participation and his role. He was standing
13 there with me, and together with him, we were following the evolution of
14 the action, which had been very precisely explained before, by Mr. Andabak
15 and I don't know who else.
16 JUDGE DIARRA: [Interpretation] Yes. But in what -- he was beside
17 you, but you told us he was not an HVO member. So what was his capacity?
18 Could anybody go with you to the front line and sit next to you and
19 participate in the liberation of a hill?
20 A. Your Honour, I was very precise in saying that he had certain
21 authority, and that in that sense, he would not -- could not be described
22 as a man on the street. I cannot answer more than that, apart from the
23 fact that he invited me there, that we talked, that the commander
24 explained to me the situation and the manner in which the action was
25 carried out, and that he personally, in a manner which I had described,
1 participated in this action.
2 JUDGE DIARRA: [Interpretation] Right. But with your education and
3 your familiarity with the laws of war, what could you do to protect Muslim
4 civilians from their expulsion? And I -- for instance, [redacted]
5 [redacted] who at that time, a high official of -- Croatian
6 official, who testified here under protection, said that he was helped by
7 Mate Boban. Were you kept abreast of the situation? What could you do to
8 help in such situations?
9 A. Your Honour, I did everything a human being can do. The HVO was
10 the military wing of the army of a people who were defending themselves
11 against a major aggression first launched by the Chetniks and then by the
12 Muslims. 99.99 per cent of my activities were aimed at defending the
13 defence lines. Like in civilian society, when criminal -- when somebody
14 is murdered in either New York or in Amsterdam, when something like that
15 happens, there are procedures, the procedure of finding, identifying and
16 punishing the perpetrator, and I don't think that the mayor of the Hague
17 can be asked on a daily basis what he or she had done in order to prevent
18 the crime that had taken place in his or her city on that very night.
19 JUDGE DIARRA: [Interpretation] Thank you. This was my last
21 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] Your Honours --
22 JUDGE LIU: Any questions out of Judges' questions? Yes,
23 Mr. Krsnik?
24 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] No. I don't have any questions. I
25 almost never have any questions after Your Honours. I merely wanted to
1 redact the transcript. The last name is mentioned and a witness could be
2 identified through it, so that is my only suggestion that a name be
3 stricken off. Thank you. I have no questions.
4 JUDGE LIU: Mr. Scott?
5 MR. SCOTT: No, Your Honour. No questions.
6 JUDGE LIU: I believe that that name will be redacted in the
8 Thank you, Witness, for coming to The Hague to help us. We
9 appreciate that very much. We have kept you for a long time here and we
10 all wish you a good trip back to your home town. The usher will show you
11 out of the room.
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you very much, Your Honours.
13 Thank you, Mr. Scott. Thank you, the Defence counsel. I hope that I was
14 not too much of a bother. Thank you very much once again.
15 [The witness withdrew]
16 JUDGE LIU: At this stage, are there any documents to tender?
17 Mr. Krsnik? We have received a list of the Defence exhibits tendered
18 through the witness dated the 3rd April, 2002. We just want to know
19 whether there is any new documents you want to add to this list.
20 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] I don't think this should be
21 necessary. I'll check it and I'll do it tomorrow morning. For the time
22 being, I have no new documents apart from the list you have already
24 JUDGE LIU: Thank you very much.
25 Mr. Scott, we also received your exhibits for the
2 MR. SCOTT: Yes, Your Honour.
3 JUDGE LIU: And I wonder whether those documents are all
4 the documents that you have the intention to tender.
5 MR. SCOTT: Your Honour, as you know, because we narrowed our
6 examination several times, all the exhibits were not used, and I was
7 trying to -- while I listened to Mr. Praljak in the last hour or so, I
8 tried to limit -- or excuse me, to list the ones that we used.
9 Unfortunately, I noticed when I came back from the last break I didn't
10 bring part of my materials with me, and I apologise. I can give the Court
11 a partial listing now, but I'm afraid to -- for the first day of my
12 examination on Thursday, I'll have to supplement that. But we actually
13 used, as I recall from my records, 587 -- and these will not be in
14 numerical order because they are in the same order they were in in the
15 binder --
16 THE INTERPRETER: Could you slow down, Mr. Scott, please?
17 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Scott, could I suggest that you submit new
18 lists tomorrow morning?
19 MR. SCOTT: That would be fine, Your Honour.
20 JUDGE LIU: So that we could know which documents have been
21 admitted and which are not?
22 MR. SCOTT: Yes, Your Honour. I agree that would be the better
24 JUDGE LIU: I'm sorry to say that at this stage we are not in a
25 position to admit all those documents, so we have to keep a correct
1 record of all those documents because of the translation issues. We have
2 asked the Registrar to look into this matter as soon as possible, to find
3 a way out for that, but at this moment, we could only have the list of
4 those documents that both parties want to tender.
5 Are there any issues? Yes, Mr. Krsnik?
6 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] I would just like -- I would like to
7 ask for this list of cross-examination exhibits to be also submitted to
8 the Defence so that we can check it.
9 JUDGE LIU: Yes.
10 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] By the Prosecutor.
11 JUDGE LIU: Yes, of course.
12 MR. KRSNIK: [Interpretation] And my colleague has just reminded me
13 that I should tell Your Honours that we had these documents translated --
14 put them in translation in November last year, and not in March of this
15 year. We had put them into the translation process at that time.
16 JUDGE LIU: We already asked the Registrar to look into this
18 Having said that, we will rise until tomorrow morning at 9.00.
19 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at
20 2.11 p.m., to be reconvened on Tuesday,
21 the 9th day of April, 2002, at 9.00 a.m.