1 Thursday, 7 April 2005
2 [Open session]
3 --- Upon commencing at 9.05 a.m.
4 [The accused entered court]
5 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. Madame Registrar, good morning to you. Could
6 you call the case, please.
7 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning, Your Honours. Case number
8 IT-03-68-T, the Prosecutor versus Naser Oric.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, madam and good morning to you.
10 Mr. Oric, can you follow the proceedings in your own language?
11 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Good morning, Your Honour. Ladies
12 and gentlemen, I am indeed capable of following the proceedings in my own
14 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you. You may sit down. Appearances for the
16 MS. SELLERS: Good morning, Your Honours. I'm Patricia Sellers
17 for the Prosecution. Today we have co-counsel, Mr. Mr. Gramsci Di Fazio,
18 and also Ms. Joanne Richardson, our case manager, and Ms. Donnica
19 Henry-Frijlink. Good morning to the Defence.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, and good morning to you. Appearances
21 for Naser Oric.
22 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Good morning, Your Honours. I'm
23 Vasvija Vidovic. Together with Mr. John Jones, I represent the Defence
24 for Mr. Naser Oric. We have our legal assistant, Miss Adisa Mehic, and
25 our case manager, Mr. Geoff Roberts.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you and good morning to you and your team.
2 Any preliminaries? None.
3 MS. SELLERS: No, Your Honour. None from our side.
4 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, just a question. I'm
5 still in a position whereby standing up for a long time is a problem for
6 me, so if you would kindly allow me, I would like to be sitting down
7 during cross-examination.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: I wish those are all the problems that we have to
9 solve, Madam Vidovic. So let's bring in the witness, please. She has
10 already gone, yes.
11 Do you have an idea what time you expect to finish your in-chief?
12 MR. DI FAZIO: The best-laid plans. Yes, I hope to finish, as I
13 had agreed with Madam Vidovic, I did a careful minute by minute
14 calculation last night that brings me to about 11.30, I think.
15 JUDGE AGIUS: It must be quite boring, actually.
16 MR. DI FAZIO: I'll -- I worked out an order of priority. I will
17 do everything I can to try and finish it by about that time.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, I appreciate that more or less because this is
19 a witness who is definitely important for the Prosecution, but probably
20 more important for the Defence. So let's bring the witness in.
21 [The witness entered court]
22 JUDGE AGIUS: Good morning to you, Mr. Meholjic and welcome back.
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good morning.
24 JUDGE AGIUS: Is interpretation getting to you loud and clear?
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. Thank you, please make yourself comfortable.
2 Sit down.
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: We are going to proceed with your testimony but
5 before we do so, let's go into private session for a minute or so. I need
6 to explain something.
7 [Private session]
12 [Open session]
13 WITNESS: HAKIJA MEHOLJIC: [Resumed]
14 [Witness answered through interpreter]
15 Examined by Mr. Di Fazio: [Continued]
16 MR. DI FAZIO: Mr. Meholjic, yesterday we made good progress and
17 today we need to make even better progress, and I appreciated the way you
18 kept your answers reasonably brief and pertinent and I ask that you assist
19 me again today by doing that. And we will, I think if we do that, we will
20 meet the targets that we've set for ourselves.
21 Q. I want to ask you about a military action in March of 1993. I
22 don't think it is in dispute that in that time Serb forces attacked the
23 Srebrenica enclave and I understand that there were two Serb corps that
24 you dealt with, you personally. The Valjevo Corps and the Uzice corps; is
25 that correct?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Thank you. Could you very briefly have a look at Exhibit P518,
3 and using a marker pen that some kind person will supply to you.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: I had it here, but ...
5 MR. DI FAZIO:
6 Q. Now, just before you actually look at the map and mark it, I just
7 want you to tell me if this is correct. The Serb forces had been
8 attacking Srebrenica more intensely in the period of time leading up to
9 March of 1993? In the immediate period before March of 1993?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. In March of 1993, it appeared to you and to others in the
12 Srebrenica enclave, that the Serb forces might overrun the enclave? Is
13 that correct, or not?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. A meeting was called -- I'm not going to go into the details of
16 the meeting now -- but a meeting was called and you were -- found yourself
17 in the position -- and I will get back to this later -- but you found
18 yourself in the position of meeting the Serb forces that were advancing
19 from the south?
20 A. I couldn't meet with the Serb forces at the meeting.
21 Q. No. Sorry.
22 A. Had I been cooperating with them --
23 JUDGE AGIUS: I think -- just refer to the meeting, Mr. Di Fazio.
24 MR. DI FAZIO: Very well.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: And let him explain what happened, very briefly.
1 MR. DI FAZIO: Yes, okay.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: And what was the result or the consequence after
3 that, the events after that meeting.
4 MR. DI FAZIO: Yes, all right. Well, let's go to the meeting
5 itself. Madam Usher, if you would just leave the map there, I might not
6 actually need to refer to it.
7 JUDGE AGIUS: Don't take it as a criticism, Mr. Di Fazio. The
8 thing is I appreciate you were trying to condense it to save time, but --
9 MR. DI FAZIO: Yes, exactly.
10 JUDGE AGIUS: -- but it was counter productive.
11 MR. DI FAZIO: That's -- I -- I thank you Your Honour. I'm
12 grateful to you.
13 Q. Okay, the meeting. The Serb forces are poised to overrun the
14 enclave and was it the case there was consternation and worry amongst the
15 Muslim forces that were supposed to resist them?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Now was there a meeting held to discuss this very issue?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Did you attend the meeting?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Now, tell us about how many people were there? Was it a small or
22 large meeting?
23 A. It was a large meeting. Perhaps some 200 of us. I can't give you
24 the exact figure. I didn't count, in fact.
25 Q. Okay. Now, was Mr. Oric present? Was Zulfo Tursunovic present?
1 And other members of the Srebrenica armed forces?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. And what was the major topic of discussion?
4 A. The main topic of discussion was the situation after the
5 offensive, not after. But in the course of the Serb offensive and they
6 had reinforcements provided by the armed forces from Serbia, and the
7 situation that we found ourselves in -- if you allow me I would like to
8 elaborate a little bit.
9 The attack started from the direction of Skelani, across
10 Kraglijivoda to Zelani Jadar and we're talking about an area of about 10
11 kilometres long and fifteen kilometres wide. So this was an offensive
12 which pushed back the fighters that were there and the citizens as well.
13 So basically, I mean Srebrenica was full of people in this valley and they
14 all fled and we found ourselves in a situation which the armed forces did
15 not want to obey -- did not want to put up any resistance, so we discussed
16 that. And Naser listened to what the commanders had to say, what their --
17 their view of the situation was and -- would you like to ask a question?
18 Or do you want me to provide you with a brief summary? I can continue.
19 At that meeting --
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Just keep it as brief as possible. And tell us what
21 was concluded in that meeting, the conclusions reached, decisions taken.
22 Very shortly please, precisely.
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Briefly. At the meeting, the
24 assessment was that the people who were in charge of the upper area, the
25 area that fell were of the view that it was impossible to defend the area
1 and Naser said, well, okay. We are unable to defend the area. I think he
2 found it very difficult and psychologically speaking it was extremely
3 difficult for him. At that stage I said, "Well this is the end of it."
4 There was snow on the ground. I said the population will be massacred.
5 And Naser at that stage appointed me commander of the defence line
6 Pusmulici, Ljubisavici, Bukova Glava and he subordinated all the other
7 forces from the area up there. To me -- I mean, there was still
8 commanders of their units but I had the main responsibility for that area
9 and I accepted that.
10 Q. Fine, thank you. Now, you say he did this. Did he do this
11 publicly at the meeting?
12 A. Yes, publicly.
13 Q. Did you, in due course, take up your command position and go into
14 action and defend the enclave for a period of about 7 days along with the
15 forces that had been put at your disposal?
16 A. Yes. But it wasn't a command post. There was no command post
18 THE INTERPRETER: And could the witness please repeat because we
19 didn't hear the last word.
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] But, yes, I took over.
21 MR. DI FAZIO: Thank you, I understand what you mean.
22 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Madam Vidovic.
23 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, the witness said, they
24 said it was Pod Bokan [phoen], that's the part that interpreters did not
25 hear. Could the witness elaborate.
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, there was no command post.
2 You had to be on the front line and the front line was Bukve. There was
3 nothing else. We were on the front line. We had nothing to fall back on.
4 We had no tents. Nothing. It was -- it was out in the field. It was
5 under the trees, in the forest. Maybe I made myself clear now.
6 MR. DI FAZIO: Yes, okay. That's fine. I wasn't talking about an
7 actual physical command post. I was talking about your position as a
8 commander. That's the sort of position I was talking about, but don't
9 worry about that.
10 Q. On the 7th of April, did the Serb forces with draw following heavy
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Thank you. Now, I want to turn to another topic, but vaguely
14 related. You've given extensive evidence over the last two days of your
15 attending meetings for planning of military actions, and also you have
16 testified, yesterday, briefly, in passing, on the lack of uniforms and the
17 lack of good clothing that the soldiers, the fighters, the Muslim fighters
18 had. I think the effect of your evidence was that they were poorly
19 dressed. And that's not in controversy in this case.
20 The Muslim forces that did fight, how did they distinguish
21 themselves from one another and from the enemy, in those circumstances?
22 A. Well, we distinguished ourselves because we agreed that we would
23 place a piece of cloth, a band, an arm band. For this action it would be
24 yellow. For another one, red. And then green, or what have you. Let me
25 just make this clear. You would have a piece of cloth, a narrow strip of
1 cloth, and we would wear it as arm bands. We had no other distinctions.
2 Q. Thank you. And when would it be decided to wear these particular
3 ribbons or cloths, at the pre-planning sessions? Or at some other stage?
4 A. When we agreed we would go and then we would agree on the
5 markings, because we did not all know one another, so it was a distinctive
6 did sign of recognition. So when we made the agreement, okay, we'll go
7 tomorrow and then we all made our own home bands at home.
8 Q. And just on this topic, last question, did the colours vary from
9 action to action or were they always the same?
10 A. They varied.
11 Q. Thanks. I would now like you to turn your attention, please, to
12 communications. Do you know of a place called the PTT building?
13 JUDGE AGIUS: Where -- I suppose in Srebrenica you mean?
14 MR. DI FAZIO: In Srebrenica. Sorry, of course I meant
16 JUDGE AGIUS: I know what you were taking it for granted but for
17 the transcript and for the record it needs to be stated.
18 MR. DI FAZIO: Thank you, Your Honour.
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
20 MR. DI FAZIO:
21 Q. In 1992, were there any radio equipment facilities in that
23 A. There was some equipment which had been repaired and it was there.
24 Not straight away, not in the beginning but at a later stage.
25 Q. But in 1992?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Did you ever use the radio, just answer me yes or no, did you ever
3 actually use it?
4 A. Yes, once.
5 Q. And was that to contact your family?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Do you know who operated the radio in the PTT building? Who --
8 what operators they were? And their names, if you know them.
9 A. I know the names. One was called Naser. I don't know his family
10 name. And I know he works in Tuzla at the PTT at Tuzla, that's his job
11 now. And the other is Mevlo Suljagic, a cousin there. He's from Bratunac
12 as well, the municipality of Bratunac. But he was a professional postal
13 worker before the war, so he was familiar with the stuff, as far as I can
15 Q. And were they soldiers or fighters in the Srebrenica TO?
16 A. No. No, they were civilians. They never went anywhere.
17 Q. Was access to that -- the radio facilities, whenever it operated,
18 free, in the sense that anyone could go and use it? Or did one have to
19 obtain some sort of permission?
20 A. No. It wasn't free for everyone. Had everyone been using it as
21 they pleased, well, it was only natural for the staff and the municipality
22 and the Presidency set it up for the communication needs and, of course,
23 if there was an exceptional situation with the special approval people
24 could do that. And then at a later stage we had a second radio station
25 where citizens could also go and use it. It was at the centre of town,
1 near the town hall.
2 Q. Okay. But forgetting about the second one that you've mentioned,
3 sticking with the one in the PTT building you said access wasn't
4 automatic. You controlled access to the radio station, to the one in the
5 PTT building?
6 A. Well, the command and Naser.
7 Q. Thank you. And this second radio station that you mentioned, the
8 one that --
9 JUDGE AGIUS: One moment, please, because it seems that in this
10 context he has already mentioned another Naser and now he says the
11 commander, Naser. Perhaps we need to be specific. Which Naser are you
12 referring to now?
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Oric.
14 MR. DI FAZIO: Thank you.
15 MR. JONES: Sorry, I think he also said the command and Naser.
16 It's come out as the commander Naser.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: No, no. It's the command and Naser. That's what I
18 have in the transcript. If that is not correct please draw my attention
19 straight away because this --
20 MR. JONES: Yes, it was just in your question it came out that
22 JUDGE AGIUS: Oh, I see, yes, yes. All right. Thank you, Mr.
23 Jones. The system I would like to be in place when it comes to mistakes
24 in the transcripts. Small, minor mistakes that can be rectified after,
25 please don't stand up and mention them as we go along. Those can be
1 remedied without any problems. Mistakes which are of essence and need a
2 feedback from the witness in particular, then, yes, please do stand up
3 straight away and point them out to us without -- with the least delay
4 possible. All right. Thank you.
5 Yes, Mr. Di Fazio, sorry for the interruption.
6 MR. DI FAZIO: Thank you, Your Honour.
7 Q. The second radio station, was that a much freer radio station and
8 did the citizens have much less restricted or greater access to it? Was
9 it for --
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Was it mainly for the people of Srebrenica?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Fine. Thanks. Did you, in 1992 or 1993, ever see a Paket, Paket
14 radio system being used?
15 JUDGE AGIUS: We want to understand first and foremost what Paket
17 MR. DI FAZIO: Yes. Let me put it this way.
18 Q. Did you see any --
19 A. Are you referring to Motorola or something like that.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: This is precisely why I wanted you to explain first
21 what you mean by a Paket system.
22 MR. DI FAZIO: Yes.
23 Q. Did you ever see any radio system or become aware of any radio
24 system that had encryption or code -- or encryption devices built into it?
25 A. There was something that we called a Paket device, it had a screen
1 like a computer. There was a girl, and this is what we had.
2 Q. Okay. Now, that's the thing that I want to know about. When did
3 you become aware of that device operating? Was it in 1992, 1993?
4 A. I really don't know. There it was, but not from the beginning.
5 Naser would know better than me. I don't want to lie to you. I don't
6 know whether it was towards the end of combat activities, before
7 Srebrenica became an enclave or after that. I really don't know.
8 I know that later on we had it, because I used it to send some
9 messages, or reports to -- something like that.
10 Q. Yes. Well I don't want to push the matter any further than I can.
11 Can you answer this question: Could you say that it was in use and in
12 existence in Srebrenica before March of 1993, or are you in a position not
13 to be able to say that with any reliability?
14 A. I can't say with any degree of reliability.
15 Q. All right. Well, who controlled access to that system, whenever
16 it was in place?
17 A. The system belonged to the TO staff. And the person who was
18 working with it was Nadjet Hamidovic [phoen]. He was the first one. He
19 came from Tuzla. I suppose he may have brought it with him, but I can't
20 be sure of that. I don't know how this was brought and when. In any
21 case, this man was not in Srebrenica before. How he came and when, I
22 can't remember.
23 Q. Before I move on to a whole new topic can I briefly take you back
24 to the ribbons that you mentioned. I think you gestured during your
25 evidence that they wore ribbons, the soldiers wore ribbons on their arms.
1 Is that correct, or not?
2 A. It is correct. It was not prescribed whether this band should be
3 worn on the left or on the right hand. People wore it in different ways.
4 Q. Right. Did they ever wear it around their foreheads? Wear them
5 around their foreheads?
6 A. Yes. There were such things. There were people who did it on
8 Q. All right. Thank you.
9 A. But those people were a few and far between.
10 Q. I would like the witness to be shown Exhibit P84, please. And
11 it's available in Sanction, if Your Honours please.
12 MR. DI FAZIO: If Your Honours please, just so that we're all
13 clear. You will have the English version.
14 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes.
15 MR. DI FAZIO: This is a handwritten --
16 JUDGE AGIUS: We have both, actually.
17 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone for the Presiding Judge, please.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: We have both, Mr. Di Fazio, at least I'm speaking
19 for myself.
20 MR. DI FAZIO: Yes.
21 JUDGE AGIUS: But I think usually we get -- I have got the English
22 and the original.
23 MR. DI FAZIO: Fine. The B/C/S is a handwritten document.
24 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, yes, yes.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: And on each page it has the usual ERN number. Now
1 as you go through the English you will see at various points throughout
2 the page.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: It's all right. We know how it works. We have used
4 this document several times already.
5 MR. DI FAZIO: Thank you, okay. Now, if that can be placed with
6 the witness, Madam Usher.
7 Q. Now, Mr. Meholjic, prior to coming to The Hague, had you ever seen
8 this document before?
9 A. No.
10 Q. I want to take you to -- sorry, before I go any further. Do you
11 recognise the handwriting or is that unfamiliar to you? You can't say who
12 it is?
13 A. I don't recognise this handwriting. I'm not familiar with it. I
14 can't say anything about it.
15 Q. Now, you know -- you remember from proofing, Mr. Meholjic, that
16 there is a computer number on each page of that document. Sometimes it's
17 in one spot. Sometimes it's in another. And it's a long number. Just to
18 make things easy, what you have to look for is the last four numbers and
19 then you will be able to flip through until you find the relevant entry.
20 The first entry that I want to take you to is at 5045. 5045.
21 MR. DI FAZIO: Your Honours, that's page 4 to 6 on -- in the
22 English, page 4 to 6.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: What do you mean four to six.
24 MR. DI FAZIO: Pages four --
25 JUDGE AGIUS: Page 4 only? If or referring to 5045, it's only --
1 it schemes to me to be at least only on page 4 of the English version.
2 MR. DI FAZIO: This topic will cover pages 4 to 6.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: That's different.
4 MR. DI FAZIO: That's what I meant.
5 Q. Now, Mr. Meholjic -- sorry, if you go back to page 5045, at the
6 top you will see that whoever wrote this document is talking about places
7 such as Bjelovac and Fakovici. Then if you go to page 5046, you will see
8 that it is minutes of the 3rd of October. Sorry.
9 A. I don't have that. There's something wrong with this. I only
10 have two sentences, which don't mean anything to me.
11 JUDGE AGIUS: Madam Usher, can you look at the top of the page and
12 tell us what is the ERN number.
13 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, maybe I can be of
14 assistance. The Prosecutor has made a mistake in reading the number.
15 Look at the number. You have provided the witness with the wrong page
17 MR. DI FAZIO: All right. Well let's start again.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: Indeed, in 5045, if you look at the original, there
19 are four lines, two of which, at least on the photocopy, are illegible. I
20 mean, I can't understand what is written in any case. So when he says
21 that, on page -- yes, but what is probably happening is the following,
22 because 5045, the ERN number is in the middle of the page.
23 MR. DI FAZIO: I don't want to dwell too long on this, if
24 Your Honours please. I think I can speed it up by simply asking the
25 witness to skip then 5045 and go to 5046.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Usher, please check that he has 5046.
2 And that has, at the top, "minutes," that's October 1992. And a stamp at
3 the top right corner.
4 MR. DI FAZIO: Yes, yes. Thank you.
5 Q. Now, do you see that?
6 JUDGE AGIUS: Are you with us, Mr. Meholjic.
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, I found that.
8 MR. DI FAZIO:
9 Q. All right. Now, it's a lot easier for us because we have a typed
10 version and you've got that handwritten copy, but if you cast your eyes
11 down through the text, whoever wrote this appears to be talking about
12 the -- something involving Fakovici. Do you see that? If you cast your
13 eye down page 5056. All right?
14 Then if you turn over the page -- okay? Now, do you have page
15 5047, with the computer number 5047?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. All right. Now, the part that I just want to show you first is at
18 the top of 5047. Now, it starts off with boat crossings will be covered
19 by anti-aircraft machine-gun. Do you see that? That's right at the top
20 of the page, at the very top. Do you see that? Right, have you got it?
21 You're nodding your head.
22 A. Yes, yes.
23 Q. Then it goes on: "At the end of the operation destroy the ferry.
24 It would not be good for withdrawal if they stayed in their houses. There
25 must be a medical technician in this group. A doctor in Jagodina. Nadret
1 is to work out a schedule."
2 Now, do you know if Dr. Mujkanovic played any part in events that
3 occurred in Fakovici? I'm not trying to suggest that to you. I just want
4 you to tell us if from independently, from your own knowledge, can you
5 tell us if Dr. Mujkanovic played any role at all in Fakovici?
6 A. He did play a role. He was in the medical centre down there. He
7 was waiting for the wounded, to assist them. I don't know of any other
8 role that he may have had.
9 Q. Thank you. Now, if you go down, further down page 5047, and you
10 will come to point number 9. You see "communications"? Do you see that
11 it's actually should have a number written there. Number 9.
12 A. Nine.
13 Q. "Communications." It says "the military police must take mobile
14 radio transmitter and walkie-talkies. They have to be distributed." It
15 says "the command post is at the anti-aircraft machine-gun site and the
16 password was going to be Bosna Djihad." Do you see that?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. First of all, can you tell us if that was the password for
19 Fakovici, Bosna Djihad?
20 A. I can't say. I can't remember that detail.
21 Q. Fine, fine.
22 A. I remember the general picture. I remember generally what
24 Q. Fine. That's okay. Now, finally, on this section of this
25 document, look at the -- there is an entry for number of troops. Do you
1 see "armour, 45." "Zulfo, 60." "Sefik, 30." Someone else, 50. And then
2 there is the name "Hakija, 60." Now, I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm
3 wrong --
4 A. Yes, yes.
5 Q. -- but you have testified, haven't you, that -- you've already
6 testified that sixty people -- sixty men were what you provided for the
7 Fakovici action. Correct?
8 A. Yes. But I would like to provide a clarification. They asked me
9 how many men I could provide. I said I could provide 60. Nobody ordered
10 me to provide 60. I don't know how many troops other people pledged.
11 Q. That's fine. But in the pre-planning part of this, of matters
12 before the attack on Fakovici, you were offering, providing 60 men?
13 JUDGE AGIUS: While we are at this, Mr. Di Fazio, let's clarify
14 this. The 4th one, the one below Sefik, can you read that name? Whether
15 it is 50?
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Senahid, S-e-n-a-h-i-d, Senahid, 50.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: And the last one, after the one below Sakib?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] That's P-O-T. I suppose it stands
19 for Potocari. It can't be anything else as far as I know. There is no
20 name that would start with these three letters.
21 JUDGE AGIUS: Fine. Thank you.
22 MR. DI FAZIO: Thank you.
23 Q. I now want you to go just a little bit further through the
25 MR. DI FAZIO: Your Honours, the part that I am looking at now,
1 you will find at pages 7 through to 9 of the English translation.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, go ahead.
3 MR. DI FAZIO:
4 Q. The part that I want to show you, Mr. Meholjic, is -- starts with
5 computer number 5050. 5050. And it is apparently, on the face of this
6 document, the minutes of a meeting of the War Presidency on the 14th of
7 October, 1992. Do you see that, at the top of 5050?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Okay. And then underneath that is an agenda. It says:
10 "Organisation and functioning of the military and civilian authorities."
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Do you see the next sentence, "the meeting was called to order by
13 Osman Osmanovic. He said that we're faced with the problem problems in
14 the functioning of the system, the War Presidency, two staffs, civilian
15 protection." Do you see that?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Now, you weren't at this meeting, were you? You weren't present?
18 A. No, I wasn't.
19 Q. Okay. Discussion related to that topic continues through 5050 and
20 then turn the page to 5051. And there is, apparently on the face of this
21 document, further discussion related to that topic.
22 Midway through 5051 there is an entry that relates to Naser,
23 apparently, and "so far all the problems have been due to a lack of
24 organisation," "boils down to the need for everybody to do his bit." "You
25 can argue about power later." "Come to your senses." "Let's organise.
1 Dig in." And so on.
2 Then Osman says: Let's be more concrete. Let's put names in
3 each structure. Do you see that part?
4 A. It's very hard for me to read this. I can see the paper. Well,
5 you have read out some bits but it's very difficult for me to read.
6 Q. I understand.
7 A. But I can see that.
8 Q. I know, it's easier for us, hard for you. You've got the
9 handwritten version. But just bear with me. I will try and get you
10 through it as fast as I can.
11 Just look at those details. You've already touched upon this
12 topic, but just very briefly go through it again. Hajrudin Avdic, was he
13 indeed president of the War Presidency?
14 JUDGE AGIUS: I think you put that question to him.
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] That's what they called him. That's
16 how he was here referred to, president of the War Presidency. I don't
17 know whether he did the job, or not.
18 MR. JONES: There is one point which, I think if it is not
19 clarified, it may lead to confusion. My learned friend started by saying
20 this was minutes apparently of the War Presidency meeting. It is
21 clearly -- it is a joint meeting, War Presidency and staff.
22 JUDGE AGIUS: Definitely.
23 MR. JONES: I think I'm right. I think that does need to be
25 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you, Mr. Jones. The second thing is that
1 question was put to you yesterday and he gave you more or less the same
3 MR. DI FAZIO: Yes, I will move on.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: So where we can economise, let's economise.
5 MR. DI FAZIO: Thank you. Let's move on from this topic. Let's
6 go to 5052.
7 Q. Do you see that? Page 5052?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. All right. 5052 about midway down the page there is an entry
10 relating to, apparently, notes of some sort of conversation. And you seem
11 to be the topic. Naser: What we should do with Hakija's unit? They
12 refused to give snipers to Zulfo and to go to Fakovici. Do you see that
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Now look up from the document and have a think about events from
16 Fakovici. Did you or did you not -- and answer this question from your
17 own memory, not what the document says, but from your own memory, your own
18 knowledge -- did you, or did you refuse to provide snipers or rifles?
19 JUDGE AGIUS: Let's have him first confirm that the Hakija that is
20 mentioned there is himself and not someone else.
21 MR. DI FAZIO: Well ...
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I am the Hakija in question. There
23 was no one else by that name.
24 MR. DI FAZIO:
25 Q. Now, forget what the document says and tell us, from what your
1 mind tells you, your own memory tells you, did you provide -- did you not
2 provide snipers or rifles for the Fakovici action? Don't let the document
3 sway you. Just tell us what your memory tells you.
4 A. I don't remember us giving snipers. We did provide some weapons.
5 There was not enough weapons to go around, so I believe that we gave some
6 to Zulfo's men, I think. My deputy, Velid, was at this meeting.
7 Q. Okay. All right. Let's move on. Sorry. Sorry. Just while
8 we're there. Just keep going down the page. You see that there is an
9 entry next to the name of Naser, the operations staff should secure
10 coverage of Zalazje, Salatusa [phoen]. Were those towns close to or
11 involved in any way, as far as you're aware, of the -- in the military
12 action on Fakovici?
13 A. Just a moment. Could you please repeat the names of the places.
14 Either I have not heard you well, or you have mispronounced the names. In
15 any case I can't locate those names in the document.
16 Q. Very well. I'm not going to press that matter. Let's move to
17 somewhere else.
18 A. No, no. There is no need for that. If you said Zaluzje, this is
19 not a town or anything. It's just a village in the area of Bratunac
20 municipality, in an entirely opposite direction from Fakovici. And I
21 really don't see the point of mentioning this place. The distance between
22 the two may be as many as 20 kilometres. That's why I've asked you to
23 repeat the question. I'm not afraid of any of your questions. I will
24 answer anything, so ...
25 JUDGE AGIUS: One moment, Mr. Di Fazio. Look at six lines from
1 the bottom, please, of the page. That's where you find the names of the
2 two places. Six lines, exactly six lines from the bottom of the page.
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I don't see that. From the bottom
4 of the page, if you're talking about page 5052?
5 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. Correct. Six lines before the end, can you
6 bring the page here, Madam Usher, and I will show you the words. All
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Zaluzje, yes. But I don't know what
9 the word before means. The person who has translated the document for you
10 must have taken a long time to analyse the word. I believe that it says
11 the coverage of Zaluzje. What it means, I don't know.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. And one further thing, by way of
13 clarification more than anything else. The next line starts
14 with "Hakija." And then Hakija is supposed to say "Mirza's team," et
15 cetera. I got the impression that in the course of this meeting you were
16 not present and that you were represented by Velid. How come we see your
17 name there?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Maybe my name was mentioned.
19 Whenever somebody said Hakija, that meant my men, irrespective of who was
20 there. If somebody mentioned Zulfo, that referred to Zulfo's men.
21 Somebody mentioning Naser, referred to Naser's men. Not these people
22 personally, as individuals.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: I raise the issue because in the English text there
24 is a colon after "Hakija" which you don't find in the original. In the
25 original there is a comma behind "Hakija," so I just wanted to make this
1 clear, that the English text should not be read as to necessarily mean
2 that he was present and that the next words are attributed to him.
3 MR. DI FAZIO: Yes, yes.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: All right.
5 MR. DI FAZIO: Thank you, Your Honour.
6 JUDGE AGIUS: Otherwise it is not important, but I just wanted to
7 make sure of that.
8 Yes, Mr. Di Fazio.
9 MR. DI FAZIO:
10 Q. Now, the next part I want to take you to --
11 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes.
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] If I may be of assistance? I have
13 not read the entire thing. This probably doesn't have anything to do with
14 the action up there. Maybe this refers to the coverage -- and I remember
15 one part -- patrol was supposed to be sent there, to these Muslim villages
16 which are very close to Bratunac. There was nobody in charge of these
17 villages. There were no Serbs or Muslims there. So we were supposed to
18 organise patrols that would last for seven days and after that the
19 Bratunac unit would be set up and we would all allocate men for that unit
20 that would be sent down there to guard that area, the area there where
21 they hale from. If I have interpreted the whole thing well. This is a
22 preliminary action for something that would ensue, that would follow.
23 This meant that patrols would be sent down there and cover the area while
24 people spontaneously go there to harvest wheat or something.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. Yes, Mr. Di Fazio.
1 MR. DI FAZIO: Yes, thank you.
2 Q. Now, I would like you to go to the page -- the part of the
3 document with computer number 5056?
4 MR. DI FAZIO: If Your Honours please, you will see this at Page
6 Q. Now, this is, apparently, the minutes of a meeting of the
7 Srebrenica Armed Forces Operation Staff held 15 October, 1992. Do you see
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. And Mr. Osman starts off by saying: "We have to secure the
11 liberated" - liberated - "territory." And he talks about the priority
12 keeping the line towards Bratunac and the most critical situation is in
13 Zaluzje and Likari. And the area should be held by units from Srebrenica
14 and Solocusa. Do you see that?
15 A. Solocusa.
16 Q. Yes. That's okay I'm just taking you through it until we get to
17 the part of it. The next sentence the Zalazje area will be guarded by the
18 following units. Srebrenica, Hakija. A part of Akif's unit and Solocusa.
19 Now, can you shed any light on that entry? Did you ever contribute to,
20 men to the guarding of something in Zalazje around October 1992?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Thank you. If you move down into the next paragraph it
23 starts "since winter is approaching" do you see that? Right. Now it
24 continues, "A house in Zalazje is going to be arranged to house personnel.
25 The unit from Solocusa are going to have their meals at home. Hakija's
1 and Akit's" -- maybe Akif, I don't know, "but Hakija's units will move to
2 Zabarija [phoen]. Hakija will do the first shift. Solocusa, the second."
3 Do you see that entry?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Does that spark any memory? Can you shed any light on that?
6 A. That was what I had told you before. This is a free area, so to
7 say. Which was ethnically clear. And Akif's unit is being mentioned.
8 They continued to call it Atif even though he was no longer there. He had
9 been killed. But the unit is still being referred to as his unit. We
10 went down there to secure the front line or patrol the area around
11 Voljevica and Zaluzje because there were calls from citizens to the effect
12 that they wanted to go back to their homes. And after perhaps one shift
13 we gave as many people as we had from this area, from our respective
14 units. They stayed there for a while and then they were attacked by
15 Chetniks and they fell. And then they left and nothing happened. I don't
16 know if I've made myself clear.
17 Q. You have, that's fine. Thank you very much for that explanation.
18 Continue now in the document to --
19 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, one moment, Mr. Di Fazio.
20 JUDGE ESER: Just before we leave this page. Could you please ask
21 the witness with regard to number five. It speaks of "it is forbidden for
22 soldiers to move from one area to another." But the word in Serbo-Croat
23 is, does is say soldiers or fighters? And whether these people who are
24 addressed here had this band or apron or something around?
25 MR. DI FAZIO: Does Your Honour mean the people located in these
1 guard duties.
2 JUDGE ESER: When these speak of soldiers here, what is the
3 English? Is there an original word for it and whether these people had
4 some sort of marking.
5 MR. DI FAZIO: Yes, I will do that.
6 Q. You've been directed to the areas of interest by His Honour. Now,
7 first of all, look at entry number five. It is -- just read it out for
8 the transcript.
9 A. "It is forbidden for soldiers to move from one unit,
10 presumably" -- I can't see it because the photocopy is of poor quality.
11 Without the approval of the commanders.
12 Well, it happened at a certain period of time. The term soldier,
13 and the person taking notes and being in charge of the minutes, I did say
14 in the beginning that we were no professional soldiers, but we were using
15 these terms. So actually fighter would be more appropriate. A soldier is
16 in the barracks. There is structure of command and orders, et cetera.
17 But these people are fighters. So the way I see it, this is not the
18 appropriate term. It is not soldiers we are talking about, but fighters.
19 And at that stage some people started to choose what units they wanted to
20 go to and that's probably the reason why this entry is here. I mean, in
21 order to indicate to people that they couldn't move from one unit to
22 another without clearing it with the commander.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: And the other question: Would these fighters,
24 called soldiers in the text, wore the bands, the coloured bands or not?
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No. Those arm bands were only worn
1 in the course of action. Not all the time.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. Thank you.
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] We did not wear them every day.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. Mr. Di Fazio.
5 MR. DI FAZIO: Thank you.
6 Q. The next area that I want to take you to you will find bears
7 computer number 5060. If Your Honours please, 14 and mainly page 15 in
8 the English?
9 JUDGE AGIUS: All right.
10 MR. DI FAZIO:
11 Q. Now, if you go to 5060, 5060, you will see that this part of the
12 document apparently deals with a meeting on the 30th of October, 1992.
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. All right. That's just to establish the background. I don't need
16 to trouble you any more with 5060. Turn the page over to 5061. 5061. Do
17 you have that? Look at the top --
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. -- the very top of the page. The writing here may not be very
21 A. It isn't clear, in fact.
22 Q. I won't bother about that. Do you see Roman numeral II at the top
23 of the page?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Go a little bit further down, you get to Roman numeral III, do you
1 see that?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Again, it ostensibly appears to be some sort of record of
4 conversation. The people speaking, Osman someone called Nijaz, someone
5 called Ramiz, Zulfo, Hamid, and then Zulfo. Do you see that?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. And Zulfo starts: "There are few armed men in Srebrenica. Hakija
8 is stubborn and works in cooperation with Zepa and" - possibly the word
9 Konjevic Polje - "bypassing our command. He promised all sorts of things
10 and did something completely different. Why did he distribute pigs and
11 sugar to Serbian families. There is a guy in Puzmolici [phoen] or Meho."
12 Now, do you see that entry?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Okay. I'm interested in the pigs. What happened with respect to
15 pigs in 1992?
16 A. Well, my men were out in the field and there were some stray pigs.
17 And they chased those pigs and they said, what do we do with them? And I
18 said, you should kill them and slaughter them, I mean, and we have Serb
19 families living in towns and we could give them to the Serb families
20 living in Srebrenica. Because they were my fellow citizens and -- well,
21 now that I've already mentioned this, Naser and I agreed, and I must say
22 this, we did agree and afterwards, since many people from outside had come
23 to Srebrenica, we wanted to protect those Serbs. We had guards, we went
24 to visit them and we sat with them and we talked to them and they were
25 pleased to meet Naser as well, because they had not known him from
1 before -- I mean, they knew me because I was born in that town. So we
2 tried to protect them as much as we could. And this is the truth I'm
3 saying now.
4 Q. Fine.
5 A. Some people minded the fact that I gave that away. Okay, Zulfo
6 minded. I didn't know it was Zulfo's contribution to the discussion, but
7 I did hear that there was a discussion about what I did.
8 Q. All right. I'm interested in this issue of the pigs for various
9 reasons, but this little issue about what you had done with the pigs by
10 giving them to Serbian families, was that a matter of notoriety, well
11 known in Srebrenica? Or was it just a -- some episode?
12 A. Well, it was widely known. Yes, that was the talk of the town. I
13 was feeding the Serbs.
14 Q. What about sugar. Did you distribute the sugar to the Serbian
15 families or ...
16 A. Yes. There wasn't a whole lot of sugar. We had a little bit and
17 we gave it to them to put a bit of it into the water and get some
18 strength. I mean we were all starving. And the ones who were with us
19 were suffering most because it was very difficult for them to get food. I
20 mean, they could not go and look for food because there were irresponsible
21 individuals around and so we had to help them a little bit. It wasn't too
22 much sugar. I mean a kilo or two. There were not too many of them. Nine
23 families, that was next to nothing.
24 If you mean to say that sugar was coming in from somewhere, no.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, and perhaps the witness could tell us,
1 Mr. Di Fazio, where these pigs and the sugar were obtained from.
2 MR. DI FAZIO:
3 Q. The question is self-evident. Where did you get them?
4 A. Well, I had some sugar. I think everybody had a sack full or two
5 of sugar. That's what we kept for our own use. I had it in my own unit
6 because my army was at the barracks. We did not have uniforms, but we did
7 have order. And they had something to eat. I mean, everybody knows that.
8 And I gave it away out of my own kitchen.
9 And as to pigs, I mean it wasn't on the same day. Perhaps you are
10 confused by the fact that apparently there were actions or combat activity
11 somewhere, no. They were in the area of Jadran [phoen]. I believe that
12 if we go back to this date now, I think that this was before Podravanje.
13 So Podravanje is next to Jadro [phoen]. It's another location close to
14 Jader [phoen]. It is an industrial area, Jader, that we held and those
15 pigs crossed over. And they took the pigs and then they, you know,
16 gathered them and then they said, "What do we do?" And I said, "Well,
17 slaughter them and we can give them to the Serbs. We have enough Serbs
18 [sic]." We don't eat pork, but we gave it away to them, so that they
19 could survive. That's what it was about, if you're interested to know.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Then you would have more food for yourself left.
21 Yes, Mr. Di Fazio. Next question, please.
22 MR. DI FAZIO: Thank you. Go to entry number 5098 and if
23 Your Honours please, you will find this part of the evidence at pages 41
24 to 42 of the English. 5098.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes.
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] We need to go back.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Could you help the witness, please, 5098.
3 MR. DI FAZIO:
4 Q. All right. At the top of the page you can see that it relates
5 apparently to a meeting held on the 22nd of December, 1992. And it's the
6 analysis of an operation -- is part of the agenda.
7 Under number 1, it says "Naser opened the meeting." Hamo, Zujko
8 [phoen], Soson, and Hakija. "Hakija is especially commended for the
9 performance of his tasks. We liberated the mine but it would have been
10 better if we had not. It has been dispersed. We will especially command
11 Mido [phoen] through the Main Staff." Thinking back, do you know what
12 apparent -- what military operation this might be dealing with?
13 A. The Bjelovac operation, because it was at the same time. So I
14 said Bjelovac, et cetera, to Asasija [phoen]. We had no combat activity
15 because the Serbs had fled.
16 Q. There is an entry there, apparently belonging to Mr. Naser,
17 Mr. Oric. Well, someone called Naser. I'm sorry. It says that the mine
18 was liberated. Can you -- thinking back, and without reference to this
19 document, can you tell us what happened in relation to the mine at Sase.
20 A. I don't know what you mean. The mine, well two or three -- one or
21 two days later I got there with some of my men. Since one and the
22 aircraft gun was found there, as well as a VBR, as we call it, and you
23 probably use different terminology. Something that is normally placed on
24 the wings of aircraft and the Serbs had taken it and then used it as a
1 And I had two people working at the mine and they were a bit
2 familiar with this and we were looking for this stuff in order to repair
3 it. And we were looking for the missing pieces of these multiple rocket
4 launchers, and I don't know what happened. I don't know what was supposed
5 to have happened. Nothing. And I believe that a conclusion is, if I may
6 comment on this, if there's no other explanation for the fact that he said
7 it would have been better if we had not. I mean, there was so much
8 hunger, misery, and thirst, and I ran into a man who was carrying a kind
9 of bed and it was very far away from Srebrenica, 15 kilometres, and there
10 was snow, and I asked him, "What are you carrying there?" And he says:
11 "It might be expensive." It's a big thing, but instead of getting a
12 piece of bread, he took a bed. And I don't know what his association was,
13 perhaps some irresponsible people or some leadership or the Presidency who
14 were supposed to take over at a later stage. I really don't know.
15 MR. DI FAZIO: That's fine.
16 JUDGE AGIUS: I think I have to bring you to order. You're not
17 really answering the question that was put to you and you're telling us
18 stories which are very important but not an answer to the question that
19 was put to you. Could you repeat the question and please try to get the
20 witness to it, Mr. Di Fazio. I don't like stopping the witness myself.
21 MR. DI FAZIO: No, no, I appreciate that.
22 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone for Mr. Di Fazio.
23 MR. DI FAZIO: Sorry.
24 Q. What you said was actually interesting, but unfortunately time
25 constraints force us to keep you on a tight -- liberation of the mine.
1 What could that possibly mean?
2 A. I don't know.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: What was the situation of the mine before and after.
4 When someone says "we have liberated the mine," in the circumstances that
5 you lived at the time, what did you understand? Or what would you
6 understand "we have liberated the mine"? Did you actually liberate the
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No. We didn't actually, because
9 they fled themselves. They left themselves, because it is close to
10 Bjelovac and this is what I keep trying to say. It was when the framework
11 of the same action, there was no combat activity. They had gone because I
12 see no dead bodies or anything. There was nothing there.
13 JUDGE AGIUS: Fine. Yes, Mr. Di Fazio.
14 MR. DI FAZIO: Thank you. Okay.
15 Q. Now, continuing this. Turn over to 5099?
16 MR. DI FAZIO: Your Honours, you will find that on page 42.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: 42, yes. You have seven more minutes, Mr. Di Fazio.
18 MR. DI FAZIO: I'm hoping to finish this in that time.
19 Q. I will take you straight down, halfway through 5099 or halfway, or
20 perhaps halfway to two-thirds of the way. There is an entry there "Hakija
21 to keep the full barreled PAT for PVO. " Do you see that?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. What does that mean?
24 A. It means that I got this four-barreled weapon because we were
25 being shelled all the time. And I placed it outside the city of
1 Srebrenica in the town of Bojna, and that's where we were shooting at the
2 Chetnik planes from.
3 Q. Fine. And the weapon that you took and positioned just outside
4 Srebrenica, did it have four barrels?
5 A. Yes. It was a four-barreled anti aircraft gun, 20 millimeters.
6 Q. Thank you. And the acronym PAT, what does that mean. Can you
7 shed any light on that or not? If you don't, that's fine.
8 A. PAT, it's anti-aircraft gun.
9 Q. Okay, fine. What about PVO, can you tell us what that --
10 A. Anti aircraft defence.
11 Q. Thank you. Just go a little further down past that entry it is
12 talking about 24 December, Voljevica and Vijoca [phoen] to take something,
13 then it says next entry down, all vehicles taken in Sase will be
14 confiscated. Zulfo is proposing that the vehicles should not be
15 confiscated from soldiers. Soson is requesting one vehicle for his unit.
16 Are you aware of any vehicles being taken during or after the attack in
18 A. I do not know. All I know is that I brought machine which is used
19 in the construction industry for the loading of ore and sand, and it was
20 parked in front of Domavija. But there was no other use for it. So that
21 vehicle stayed there, parked in front of the hotel. Even after the fall
22 of Srebrenica it stayed there.
23 Q. Thank you. And one more entry now and I think that will complete
24 that before the break and we will complete this document. Go to page
25 5117, if Your Honours please, pages 55 to 56 of the English. It is about
1 quite a way through the document. 5117. All right. Take it from me that
2 the document is apparently referring to something -- a meeting held on the
3 18th of April 1993.
4 It says that Becir opened and chaired the meeting and you, it
5 would seem that you, from reading this document, that you were present and
6 you gave some sort of speech where you spoke about determining and
7 fortifying front lines. Okay. Do you see that that should be towards the
8 top of 5117?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Go to the bottom of --
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. -- The bottom of that page and you so there is an entry, "Hakija
13 M." Do you see that entry?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Now I don't want to get into the substance of what happened in
16 March or April. I just wanted to know whether this entry makes sense to
17 you, bearing in mind your memory of those events in March of 1993.
18 Apparently there's some speech or comment attributed to you and it says
19 this: Let us leave the analysis of the operation for some time. Let's do
20 concrete work. The Podravanje line goes as follows: Ljeskovik, Kutuzero
22 Now, is that entry correct? Did indeed the Podravanje line go
23 Ljeskovik, Kutuzero, Lipovac.
24 A. At that time, I said since we did not hold Podravanje, either us
25 or them, and that was a link to Zepa, I said that we should try, since
1 this was a meeting when combat activities stopped and when UNPROFOR
2 arrived and Srebrenica was declared as a protected enclave, a protected
3 area. And I suggested we gave up those lines and I don't remember Naser
4 being there, but there is a little bit -- something illogical about this,
5 because I think Naser had been wounded the day before. And as to Becir
6 chairing the meeting, first of all, I wouldn't have allowed him to do so,
7 what does he have to tell me? And then there was also something that was
8 not really like that, it is not really clear. We had Ramiz Becirevic at
9 the time who would inform us of what was going on down there and in what
10 way. We were supposed to relinquish the weapons, et cetera. We did not
11 want to lose any territory. We wanted to have a slightly bigger
12 territory. And UNPROFOR is coming and if we were to withdraw from
13 Podravanje and Ljeskovik we would have lost some area in the direction of
14 Zepa and we would be cut off.
15 MR. DI FAZIO: Okay, thanks for that. If Your Honours please --
16 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, we will have a 30 minute break today for the
17 time being and we will resume soon after. Thank you.
18 --- Recess taken at 10.30 a.m.
19 --- On resuming at 11.10 a.m.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: So let's proceed. Sorry for the delay, but that was
21 due to circumstances beyond our control, very diplomatically put. Yes,
22 Mr. Di Fazio.
23 MR. DI FAZIO: Thank you, Your Honours.
24 Q. Okay. I'm finished now with military actions and there are a few
25 miscellaneous topics I want to deal with. Firstly, can you tell the Trial
1 Chamber if in 1992, 1993 you aware of the presence of any black Mercedes
2 in Srebrenica?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Do you happen to know who owned or used the black Mercedes?
5 A. It was used by Naser and the owner was Hamina Ibrahim, whose last
6 name, I don't know. He was from Potocari.
7 Q. Okay. Do you know --
8 A. But it was only for a short period of time.
9 Q. All right. Do you know what period of time?
10 A. I don't know. I don't know whether it was a petrol car or a
11 diesel car. If it was a petrol car then it must have been for a short
12 period of time because there was no fuel to be had. That was at the very
13 beginning for a short period of time.
14 Q. All right. Thank you. Did you know a gentleman named Kemo.
15 Nicknamed Kemo, I should say.
16 A. Kemo is his name. I know him. He's from Pale.
17 Q. How far is Pale from Potocari?
18 A. Maybe three kilometres, but this is still the Potocari local
20 Q. Was he a -- during the war, 1992 and 1993, was he a fighter, a
21 Muslim fighter? Soldier? Whatever.
22 A. As far as I know, he was.
23 Q. Do you know which unit or formation or grouping or organisation of
24 soldiers or fighters he was in?
25 A. I don't know. If he belonged to anybody, he belonged to the
1 Potocari unit. And who his commander was, I don't know.
2 Q. And who was the commander of the Potocari unit, as far as you're
4 A. It changed. The battalion commander down there was -- and I don't
5 know when he was appointed and when this changed. I don't know how the
6 positions overlapped. I did not have the possibility to learn about any
7 of the appointments because nobody was duty-bound to inform me about that.
8 At the end of the war it was Mandja Mrki, whose real first name was
9 Ibrahim, if I am not mistaken. I'm not sure.
10 Q. Prior to the war had this fellow Kemo been a trouble maker in the
11 area, been in trouble with the police and being arrested and that sort of
13 A. Yes. I arrested him myself.
14 Q. Did you have any troubles in your dealing with him when you
15 arrested him?
16 A. No. I didn't have any problems. He did cause problems, but when
17 I appeared all the problems stopped. He was not as brave as one may have
19 Q. Did you -- sorry would Your Honours just bear with me. In 1992
20 was this man Kemo involved in some episode involving a severed head?
21 MR. JONES: I would prefer if my learned friend hadn't led in such
22 a blatant way on that matter.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes.
24 MR. JONES: In fact anything concerning Kemo, I would be grateful
25 if my learned friend would lead as little as possible.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: I think now that you have said it, Mr. Di Fazio will
2 regulate himself accordingly.
3 MR. DI FAZIO: Yes.
4 Q. Can you answer the question?
5 JUDGE AGIUS: Go ahead.
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I was listening to the Defence
7 counsel's objection and I don't know whether the question was -- were you
8 referring to something that Kemo may have done in 1992? Did I understand
9 your question well?
10 MR. DI FAZIO:
11 Q. Yes.
12 A. Yes, yes.
13 Q. All right. Did you -- what did you understand that episode to be?
14 A. People were talking about Kemo carrying a severed head, a head
15 belonging to a Serbian and people were outraged. I didn't see it myself.
16 I only heard about that. It was just rumours. And I don't even know
17 whether that was preceded by any action. I don't know what he did.
18 Whatever he did, only he knows what it was.
19 Q. Sure. I understand that. You didn't see anything to do with this
20 episode, that's clear, right?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. What I'm interested in is not the actual episode itself, but
23 whether it was a matter that was known in the town of Srebrenica. You
24 knew of it. Can you tell the Trial Chamber if --
25 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Jones.
1 MR. JONES: Yes. I don't think this witness should be asked what
2 other people knew. It's not a matter within his knowledge, unless other
3 people told him about it. But to be invited to give an opinion about the
4 general state of knowledge of in the town ask far too vague and
6 JUDGE AGIUS: I'm sure, Mr. Di Fazio knows that too and I am sure
7 that the question will be in a way that is permissible and can be
8 answered, otherwise it will not be allowed.
9 MR. DI FAZIO: Let me rephrase the question.
10 Q. How did you find out about the episode? Who told you, since you
11 didn't see it?
12 A. Well, people were talking. My men were talking about it, and they
13 told me about these rumours, according to which Kemo was carrying a
14 severed head. I don't know whether I've made myself clear.
15 Q. You have. Thank you. I will move to another topic. You've given
16 extensive evidence about military actions. In the course of these
17 actions, were Serbian prisoners of war ever seized by Muslim forces, to
18 your knowledge?
19 A. I know that when I was on the ground and when I returned to the
20 Domavija hotel late in the evening, my men informed me that -- if you can
21 just bear with me a moment. From the area of a village close to
22 Ratkovici, it's a Muslim village whose name escapes me at the moment, that
23 these people from this area brought two or three individuals and they
24 didn't want to hand them over. Down there -- when I say "down there," let
25 me make myself clear. I'm referring to Mrki Mandja, because he was the
1 one involved in some exchanges of dead bodies or living people. And this
2 happened on several occasions. I don't know whether it happened on two or
3 three occasions. I don't want to speculate. Instead of handing them
4 over, they brought them to the hotel and they put them in a room.
5 Q. Okay. Just -- that's -- you've got to the point that the issue
6 that I'm interested in. And I just want to organise it a bit.
7 First of all, about when did this episode happen? Was it in 1992?
8 Or 1993?
9 A. In 1992, before the attack on Fakovici.
10 Q. Okay. Thank you. Now, you say "people from this area brought two
11 or three individuals". Now, what people brought them? Who brought them
12 and where did they bring them?
13 A. The name of the village is Poznanovici and people from this
14 village, who had their Territorial Defence there or something to that
15 effect, they brought them over and they gave them to Amir Mehmedovic.
16 Those were Amir's relatives who brought these people, and Amir was rather
17 close to me in respect of the Command Staff, he was one of my men or close
18 to my men.
19 Q. And where did they bring these Serb POWs? Where, actually where?
20 To the Domavija? To somewhere else?
21 A. To the Domavija, yes.
22 Q. Okay.
23 Q. Now, you said that they brought them -- sorry, yes, you did say
24 already they brought them to the hotel. They put in a room. Now,
25 continue your story. What happened after that, they're all brought in.
1 A. When I arrived, my men informed me about that. One of my men, who
2 later on died or was killed, his name was Salko Hublic, also known as
3 Hegel [as interpreted], he ran up to me and he told me: There is Behadil
4 there. He intends to beat these people up there. Behadil was one of my
5 men. He was a member of my unit. I ran up to the room and I beat Behadil
6 in front of everybody and I asked them whether anybody else had touched
7 them before. They said "No." Then I said, "Don't lie to me. I need to
8 hear the truth."
9 I don't know their names, but one of them was a super in the
10 village [as interpreted], in Ratkovici. On the following day, I issued an
11 order for these people to be taken over to Mrki Mandja and to be handed
12 over to them. And this is what was done.
13 Q. Thank you. Now, what I want to know is this, if you can assist
14 us. Why did these men, who had these Serb POWs in their custody, bring
15 them to your men at the Domavija hotel? Why did that happen? Why were
16 they taken to your men?
17 A. They were neighbours. These people brought their neighbours over.
18 And they said: We are sorry for them, if we hand them over, they will be
19 beaten. They just assumed -- they said Mirza would beat them. And they
20 didn't want this to happen. And then I had this problem with Behadil on
21 top of everything. And the only thing I could do with Behadil is to send
22 him away. There were no institutions. I could not report him to anybody,
23 to punish him for what he had done. I just beat him up and that was it.
24 If these people are still alive, I'm sure that they can confirm
1 Q. Thanks. Now, you just said your people brought them over because
2 they were former neighbours and you felt sorry for them and you said:
3 "And they thought that if we hand them over, they will be beaten." Hand
4 them over to who? Whom?
5 A. To this guy, Mirza.
6 Q. Did Mirza have a nickname?
7 A. I don't know. He was the commander of the military police and
8 Mrki Mandja, as far as we knew, was involved in some sort of exchanges.
9 He was entrusted with that task by the staff or somebody. Somebody gave
10 him that task. And it was a well-known fact. Everybody knew that.
11 Q. So Mrki was a member of the -- is it your position that Mrki was a
12 member of the armed forces of Srebrenica?
13 A. Well, he was, to the same extent as all of us were. He was.
14 Q. And he was the fellow in charge of exchanges? Is that your
15 position? Or have I understood you correctly? Or not?
16 A. Well, his name always came up when people were talking about
17 exchanges. I suppose he was in charge. I never attended a meeting at
18 which somebody said that he would be in charge of that. However,
19 according to my information, it was him.
20 Q. All right. Now, you've testified earlier that you were made
21 police chief in, I think, April of 1993, police chief for the whole of
22 Srebrenica. Is that correct, or not?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Thereafter did you become a member of the War Presidency?
25 A. Yes, by virtue of my function or position.
1 Q. Did you attend meetings of the War Presidency from April 1993
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. About how often were meetings held?
5 A. It depended on the situation. Sometimes all of us would meet.
6 Sometimes the chief would call a number of people that he needed for a
7 certain thing. And there was a meeting every fortnight maybe or once a
8 month. Generally speaking it -- these meetings would take place two times
9 a month, but I can't be sure of that.
10 Q. Okay. Did Mr. Oric attend meetings when you were present?
11 A. Sometimes he was there and sometimes Ramiz was there in his place,
12 to substitute for him.
13 Q. Is that Ramiz Becirevic?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. And was -- apart from attending meetings, can you tell the Trial
16 Chamber if Mr. Oric was or was not a member of that War Presidency that
17 you've just been speaking of from that point, April 1993?
18 A. Yes, he was. We set up this Presidency pursuant to a decree. Not
19 pursuant to any elections. This decree was published in the official
20 gazette. The Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina had issued a decision on
21 who the members of the War Presidency would be. Namely, the commander,
22 the chief of the police station, the head of the municipal Assembly, the
23 secretary of the secretariat for national defence, also presidents of
24 various political parties. From the SDA there was the president. There
25 was also the president of the SDP. So this body differed from the body
1 that existed before.
2 MR. DI FAZIO: Can the witness be shown Exhibit P296, please.
3 It's on the Sanction thing. Just before it is handed to the witness, can
4 I have a look at the original of the B/C/S, please, the B/C/S version?
5 Thank you.
6 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. We would like to see it as well. You can put
7 it on the ELMO. Let ...
8 Yes. Precisely. I'm asking to see it because in the English
9 translation of it, at the bottom, there is "Chief," and then "Hakija
10 Meholjic." In the B/C/S version the last line there shows "JS, Nacelik,"
11 [as interpreted] and nothing else.
12 MR. DI FAZIO: Yes.
13 JUDGE AGIUS: So I wanted to verify that.
14 MR. DI FAZIO: Yes, yes. If Your Honours please, sometimes
15 documents are, in this institution, are later typed up and those
16 versions --
17 JUDGE AGIUS: My suspicion is that this is photocopying,
18 attributable to photocopying. That's what I think, because it's -- the
19 first line on the top is two further down compared with other pages. So I
20 think probably the last line has disappeared from -- but perhaps you can
21 dig up the original in your records.
22 MR. DI FAZIO: I will certainly look into the matter, and if there
23 is a better B/C/S version we will produce it.
24 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes.
25 MR. DI FAZIO:
1 Q. In any event, Mr. Meholjic, please have a look at that document.
2 Just acquaint yourself with it. The first question is, do you recognise
4 A. I do.
5 Q. And do you know who created this document?
6 A. I myself.
7 Q. Thank you. All right. Now there is just one or two points in the
8 document that I want to take you to. The document speaks for itself. It
9 is dated June 1995. And it is a -- appears to be a short report on the
10 situation in Srebrenica. And in the second paragraph of the document, you
11 take -- you refer to some history, saying that UNPROFOR entered Srebrenica
12 in April 1993. Civilian authorities organised. And then you say: "A
13 misdemeanour court, office of the public Prosecutor, lower court and
14 municipal prison were established." Now you're saying in this document,
15 as I read it anyway, happened after April 1993.
16 Can you tell us, if I'm indeed correct, how long after April 1993
17 those institutions were set up?
18 A. Well, I think the justice ministry should have all of that,
19 because we sent a request to the justice ministry in order for the judges
20 to be appointed, because the judges had fled. We had no judges. And for
21 the setting up of the prison unit, because previously the person for the
22 municipality of Srebrenica was in Tuzla. But we found ourselves in a
23 situation in which we were unable to send people to Tuzla and the justice
24 ministry appointed judges and the commander of that, let's say, prison
25 police, and they were separate. I didn't allow for them to be within the
1 structure of a regular police force, as a member of the Presidency. Apart
2 from that, we had no other contacts with them. And it was perhaps --
3 well, two months later, two, two-and-a-half months it took. But I think
4 you might be able to find the document pointing out the exact date
6 Q. Thank you.
7 MR. DI FAZIO: If Your Honours please, if I just might address you
8 briefly on the issue of the B/C/S version. Our case manager has very
9 helpfully solved the problem. There is an extra page ending in ERN number
10 2166, copies are being made of that now and we will have them for you
11 before the end of the session.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, Mr. Di Fazio. And I thank the case
13 manager too.
14 Q. Now, did these miss demeanour courts office of public Prosecutors
15 lower courts and municipal prison actually function and establish --
16 actually function following the establishment? In other words, did they
17 operate, deal with cases, deal with prosecutions, deal with imprisonments?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. From time to time did that involve members of the army, the
20 Bosnian army who were involved in criminal offences?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Was that for what you might call the more common criminal
23 offences, the usual range of criminal offences recognisable in most
24 countries, assaults, robberies, drunkenness, fighting, that sort of thing?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Go to the end of the paragraph, again the second paragraph, and
3 there is a sentence there that says this: "Whenever members of the BH
4 army were involved the court would immediately inform the military court
5 in Tuzla, which would then accept and extend the detention. The detainees
6 were kept in the municipal prison in Srebrenica. The court did not hold
7 trials, so there were no convicted persons."
8 Now, can you explain to the Trial Chamber what you meant when you
9 wrote that. Which court would inform the military court in Tuzla, how did
10 it do that?
11 A. Well, there is a mistranslation here because it says in this
12 text: Whenever it was about the members of the armed forces of the BH,
13 the judges were to inform. Not myself. But the judges were supposed to
14 relay that information.
15 Q. All right, fine. Fine. Okay.
16 A. Whenever the minister of the interior papers were signed, it was
17 not up to me any more, but the competent authorities.
18 Q. Well, do you have any knowledge, actual personal knowledge of
19 soldiers being involved in some criminal offence and the judges informing
20 the military court in Tuzla? Can you tell us if that, indeed, in fact,
21 actually happened? Not whether you did it, but whether in fact that
22 happened from time to time?
23 A. On the occasion of any enquiry or the gathering of information or
24 reporting somewhere, in the category entitled "general information," it
25 would be indicated whether the person in question was a member of the
1 armed forces, or a member of the police force, or a civilian. So we would
2 indicate that. Therefore, the public prosecutor who was appointed and he
3 was at Srebrenica and he would decide and assess the case and he would
4 decide whether it was necessary to refer it to the military Tribunal at
5 Tuzla, or not. I don't know if I've made myself clear.
6 Q. Thank you. You have. Can the witness be shown Exhibit P507.
7 MR. DI FAZIO: If Your Honours please, I don't know what the
8 controversy was but there was something wrong with the English translation
9 and we now have the correct, full, proper English translation to be.
10 JUDGE AGIUS: Of document 507?
11 MR. DI FAZIO: Of document 507 to be handed up. Can I ask that
12 this be substituted? I think this is clearly the better version. And I
13 don't think there is anything but cosmetic changes in it.
14 JUDGE AGIUS: Any objection on your side?
15 MR. JONES: No. I was trying to remember what the controversy
17 JUDGE AGIUS: I don't remember either.
18 MR. JONES: I don't know which witness it would have been --
19 JUDGE AGIUS: If it's something important I would have a note, but
20 I don't have a note.
21 MR. JONES: Something corrected is better than something
22 uncorrected, so no objections.
23 MR. DI FAZIO: Apparently it related to Mr. Bogilovic, but --
24 Tankic, I'm sorry, but I can't vouch for that and ...
25 JUDGE AGIUS: Anyway, so this will be the new P507/E, which will
1 replace the previous 507/E. All right.
2 MR. DI FAZIO: All right.
3 Q. Now, the first question that I need to ask you is, if you go back,
4 at the very back of the document, there is -- I think there is a signature
5 there. Is that your signature? And did you create this document?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. I'm going to lead you to certain parts of -- aspects of the
8 document because I'm sure that they're uncontroversial. First of all it
9 is clear the document is dated July, 28 July 1993. You can see that at
10 the top left-hand part of the page. Can you see that? The very first
12 A. It says the 28th here. The 28th of July, 1993.
13 Q. Yes. That's right. Yes. Now, there is a stamp there as well.
14 Do you see that?
15 A. Yes. Yes, I can see it.
16 Q. It's apparently the stamp of the District Military Prosecutor in
17 Tuzla. Do you see that? And it's dated the 22nd of August, 1993. Got
19 A. I see it, yes.
20 Q. All right. Now, I don't need to go through the whole text of the
21 case. The first question is, are you familiar with this case? Do you
22 remember it?
23 A. I do. Very well.
24 Q. The fellow who was charged was a young man called Emir Halilovic
25 and he was a cousin, I believe, of the -- of Mr. Halilovic who was in
1 charge of military police.
2 A. Mirza's, yes.
3 Q. And he -- tell me if this is correct: Did you investigate the
4 case or your offices investigate the case?
5 A. I'm always afraid that I might take up too much time. Yes, we did
6 try to investigate, to no avail, and I myself got involved directly and I
7 investigated this case.
8 Q. All right. That's just fine. That's exactly what I wanted to
9 know. Now, this fellow, Emir, did he become upset at the death of Mirzet
11 A. I have no idea. I didn't ask him.
12 Q. All right. Anyway, he killed these people, Slobodan Zekic [phoen]
13 and his mother, by hitting them with a pistol, correct?
14 A. Correct.
15 Q. These people were Serbs, weren't they?
16 A. Yes. But it happened in 1992.
17 Q. Yes, yes, okay. But that was Serbs? The victims?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. In your investigation of the case, was there anything to indicate
20 that they were killed for any other reason other than the fact that they
21 were Serbs? He got upset at what had happened to his cousin and killed
22 these people?
23 A. If I may try and assist you here. Look, when these two people,
24 the mother and the son, were killed, it was in 1992 when the chief of
25 police was Becir Bogilovic. His cousin, Mirza, had not died yet and he
1 carried out this killing and then another one. And then we discovered
2 that he was guilty of the other one. And so it was about both of them.
3 So first of all, we discovered in the course of our investigation we
4 discovered these things. He killed Stojan Krsmanovic on the 27th of July,
5 1993, when I became chief. And the reason why I indicated this first was
6 that I wanted to have a proper sequence of events. It had happened first.
7 And then I indicated the other thing.
8 If you read through the text, if, you read through this report,
9 you will see that he carried out two different points in time he
10 committed two murders. And the first one was prior to my time as chief
11 and the second one, in the course of my term of office. And then in the
12 course of our investigation we discovered that he was guilty of the
13 same crime in 1992 so we included it in the same criminal report.
14 Q. Fine, fine?
15 A. Is there anything else that is not clear? I don't know.
16 Q. No, no, that's good. Thanks very much. Thanks for helping out.
17 But all I want to get to is the motive of the crime. As far as you were
18 able to ascertain. First of all, it says, in your -- Your Honours will
19 find this at page 2. During the fighting for the defence of Srebrenica,
20 Mirzet Halilovic, also known as Mirza, and Emir Halilovic's cousin was
21 killed on the 16th of January 1993. You go back to the first page, and it
22 seems that on almost a month later, on the 10th of February, 1993, while
23 the fellow was drunk, he went to this house and there he killed the lady,
24 the old lady and her son, who were Serbs.
25 Now, all I want to know is, from your investigation, what you know
1 about the case, did this fellow, Halilovic, get upset at the death of his
2 cousin, get drunk and go around and kill these people because he they were
3 Serbs. Not because of any particular dealings or relationships that he
4 had with the two, the two Serbs? Is that your understanding, if it's not
5 tell me?
6 A. Look, I didn't know exactly what year it was in. All I said was
7 that at the time there was Halilovic be cheer who was the chief of the
8 police. It was the 10th of February. Now you've reminded me that, about
9 Mirza. Mirza had been killed before. He might have been upset by that.
10 I'm not a psychologist. I mean, I couldn't ask for a doctor's opinion at
11 the time as to what his motives could have been. But he did that. We had
12 irrefutable proof of him having done that and he perpetrated that crime
13 against citizens of Serb nationality.
14 Q. Thank you I won't pursue the matter any more. But one thing is
15 clear: You were able to investigate that matter, prepare this criminal
16 report and send the report off to the district military Prosecutor in
17 Tuzla. Correct?
18 A. The situation wasn't good. And this was an action which came out,
19 and there were pretets [phoen] from the citizens of Bosniak nationality
20 and they were -- we were all upset about it. And Naser and I discussed it
21 and we wrote a letter to the son of the victim together and through the
22 Red Cross we delivered the body and we said that we were very sorry about
23 it, because it was the father of a colleague of ours.
24 I mean, that person was drunk and he was lost in the woods and
25 then he entered Srebrenica. If we are talking about the second part. And
1 as to the first part, I mean through UNPROFOR we had to ask for a
2 helicopter because we had no other way. We had to ask for UNPROFOR to
3 take him from our premises because according to our legal provisions I had
4 the right to detain him for up to three days. And anything longer was not
5 possible at that time.
6 So I had to have him removed somewhere else and for the same
7 reason, in agreement with the UNPROFOR commander, we had the Canadian
8 soldiers there, so we agreed that they would take him to Tuzla by
9 helicopter, along with the criminal report and the documents that we
10 managed to put together. We had a camera and we filmed it because we
11 could not have any other photo documents. We had to adjust to the
13 JUDGE AGIUS: That's enough. Yes, next question, Mr. Di Fazio.
14 MR. DI FAZIO: Thanks for that.
15 Q. When did you discuss it with Naser? "Mr. Oric," I should say.
16 I'm sorry.
17 A. We discussed it when we discovered who he was and I remember, we
18 were together with the Red Cross, International Red Cross people. It
19 is -- remained etched in my memory. We were in front of the Dom Kulture.
20 I myself was writing the letter but we drafted it together.
21 Q. So he helped you out. He helped you get to the bottom of this
22 case? Facilitate the process of bringing this man --
23 A. No, no one. No. It was about the body being returned. Nobody
24 was an obstacle to that. We did have problems afterwards with certain
25 individuals from the area of Potocari who came and surrounded the police
1 station and asked UNPROFOR for help. And they sent some people who
2 surrounded the police station and we tried to make sure that these people
3 don't get him out of the prison.
4 Q. But as far as Mr. Oric was concerned, he helped you in whatever
5 way he could, to bring the --
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. -- bring this matter to a conclusion and get a -- bring the
8 matter to justice?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Mr. Meholjic thank you very much for answering my questions. If
11 Your Honours please, I have no further questions.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you so much, Mr. Di Fazio.
13 MR. DI FAZIO: I do, however, before I finally sit down, I do have
14 copies of -- four copies now of the -- we have one extra page which bears
15 the name of the witness. Thank you.
16 JUDGE AGIUS: That was exhibit number, P?
17 MR. DI FAZIO: That was --
18 THE REGISTRAR: 296.
19 MR. DI FAZIO: Yes, 296.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. Now we are going to start with your
21 cross-examination and that will be conducted, in the charge of
22 Madam Vidovic. The only difference that there is going to be is that
23 while Mr. Di Fazio was speaking in English and his questions were being
24 translated to you into Serbo-Croat, Madam Vidovic will be speaking in your
25 own language and therefore you will not be receiving interpretation.
1 There will be no need for interpretation.
2 From our experience here, that causes problems, because you will
3 not allow a sufficient time before you answer her question to make it
4 possible for the interpreters to translate to us in English what you --
5 what is being said in B/C/S. So I am going to make an appeal to both of
6 you, to you, Mr. Meholjic, and Madam Vidovic, to allow a short interval of
7 time between question and answer and between answer and question so that
8 the interpreters that are behind you have got sufficient time to translate
9 what is being said into English and into French. All right? And I count
10 on your cooperation. Otherwise, we will have -- we will encounter
11 problems. Madam Vidovic is already aware of this because you're not the
12 first one to come here and give evidence in Serbo-Croat. Yes,
13 Madam Vidovic he is all yours
14 Cross-examined by Madam Vidovic:
15 Q. Good morning, Mr. Meholjic. I have prepared quite a few questions
16 for you and I would like to kindly ask you that whenever possible and to
17 the extent possible, you try to answer my question with a simple yes or
18 no, especially the first part of my questions that have nothing to do with
20 In order to save time, obviously, that in case you're in agreement
21 with what I'm asking you.
22 Mr. Meholjic, you, in the course of your testimony, have mentioned
23 that you were a police officer, had been a police officer a long time
24 before the war, including the prewar period?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. You are familiar with the circumstances and events connected to
2 the preparations for war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, what I'm particularly
3 interested in is the area of Podravanje.
4 A. To a considerable extent this is well known.
5 Q. Preparations for the war at Podravanje were clearly visible
6 already in the course of 1989 in your area, isn't that so?
7 A. Perhaps. I can't be sure what you are hinting at, but --
8 Q. I'm going to clarify. You are aware, as a prewar police officer,
9 that the SDB from Serbia in August 1989 started a campaign aimed at
10 proving the purported fact that the Serbs were under threat in a part of
11 Bosnia and in the municipalities of Srebrenica and Bratunac in particular,
12 do you remember that?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. There were rumours that were launched, amongst them the alleged
15 report of the SDB of Serbia from August 1989 stating that Serbs were
16 leaving the area of Srebrenica and Bratunac under the pressure of Muslim
17 fundamentalists. Do you remember that?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. This report was checked. It was verified and the police station
20 in which you worked participated in that verification as well?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Several commissions were set up, one of them at the state level
23 and it was established that this report was false, that it was not true.
24 Am I right?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Would you agree with me if I said that the goal of all of these
2 rumours was to win over all of the Serbs to one side?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. The local media from the Birac region were connected with the
5 Serbian media and together they launched these rumours. Am I right in
6 thinking that?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. During the year 1991, along the borders of the Republic of
9 Bosnia-Hercegovina and Serbia, on the Serbian side, the weapons and
10 artillery pieces of different calibres were located, and their barrels
11 were directed towards Srebrenica. Are you aware of that?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. The activists of the SDS, the Serbian Democratic Party, were
14 closely cooperating with the JNA in this area. Are you aware of that?
15 A. Not only closely, but fully.
16 Q. Thank you for this clarification, Mr. Meholjic. They supplied
17 weapons from Serbia and located these weapons in Serbian villages; is that
19 A. Yes, it is.
20 Q. They also distributed these weapons amongst the Serbian population
21 of mixed villages?
22 A. They did bring weapons to three areas by the helicopters of the
24 Q. Thank you. I'm going to ask you about certain names within the
25 context of the Serbs in the area being armed. And before that, let me
1 just ask you to clarify something. You said that weapons were brought by
2 helicopters into three regions. Can you please state the names of these
4 A. Zalazje, Brezani, and Podravanje.
5 Q. Thank you very much.
6 JUDGE AGIUS: Madam Vidovic, perhaps it's the case of asking the
7 witness to confirm whether -- how he came -- how he came by this, to know
8 about this, whether he knows it first hand or whether he knows it
10 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Yes.
11 Q. Mr. Meholjic, you've heard the Presiding Judge. And let me put
12 the following question to you. You were a policeman in 1991. Am I right
13 in saying that such developments were within the scope of your
14 authorities, that you were privy to such information?
15 A. Yes. We even carried out the analysis of political and security
17 Q. So I would be right in saying that in the course of your -- the
18 performance of your duty, you came by this information?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. When it comes to arming the Serbian population, does the name
21 Slavko Jovanovic, does this name ring any bells, the person from Fakovici?
22 A. I heard of him. I never saw him.
23 Q. Is it true that you heard his name within the context of Serbs
24 being armed?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Does the name of Milan Suncin ring a bell within this same
3 A. I don't remember.
4 Q. Do you remember the name of Rasa Milosevic from Kravica?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Was he amongst the persons who organised the arming of Serbs in
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. It is true, Mr. Meholjic, that the Serbs in Podravanje were armed
10 before the war started?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. In the vicinity of Srebrenica and Bratunac, there were camps where
13 Serbian soldiers were trained long before the war. Is that correct?
14 A. I heard a lot about that. We verified that information. We
15 obtained some information, but I was never on the spot. I was never in
16 any of these places. But, it is a well known fact that they existed.
17 Q. One of these camps was in the area of Ratkovici, or to be more
18 precise in Vranesevic, the place is call Ruljevic, are you aware of that?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Muslims from Poznanovici, much before the war complained about
21 being harassed and disturbed by the shooting coming from this area, the
22 area of Ratkovici and Vranesevici are you aware of that?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. From the month of March 1992, the Serbian artillery was deployed
25 on all the strategic points around Srebrenica. Am I right?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Many units of the JNA which had been withdrawn from the Republic
3 of Croatia ended up in the area of Podrinje. Is that correct?
4 A. Yes, that is correct.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: I am so sorry to interrupt you. It shouldn't
6 happen. It's the second time that I hear you say Podrinje, and in the
7 transcript I read "Podravanje." And this is, if you look at line 13 on
8 the previous page, again it is repeated. So this is a matter that needs
9 to be attended to later. Okay. It's a mistake. Yes.
10 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. No,
11 Your Honour, and I thank you very much for drawing my attention to it. I
12 am talking Podrinje, which is a much broader area than the village of
13 Podravanje. Thank you very much.
14 Q. I said that many units of the JNA that had been withdrawn from
15 Croatia ended up in Podrinje?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. The armoured brigade of the JNA from Jastrebarsko, after having
18 withdrawn from the Republic of Croatia, moved all of its equipment from,
19 to Podrinje and its command post was in Paprace. Are you aware of that?
20 A. I don't know where they came from, but I know that they ended up
22 Q. So you were aware of the fact that this brigade had its command
23 post in Paprace, in central Podrinje?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Did you ever hear of its commander, Radoslav Tatic [phoen], a JNA
2 A. Yes, I did hear his name come up in conversations but I never got
3 to know him.
4 Q. Thank you very much.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: Is there a problem.
6 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Yes, the problem that can be
7 resolved, whether the witness -- please, witness, can you explain to the
8 witness what Podrinje is, just for the record.
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It is the area through which the
10 river Drina flows and all of the places in that valley, the common name of
11 that area is Podrinje and it encompasses all of these municipalities such
12 as Srebrenica, Bratunac, and other municipalities. It is a general term
13 for the Drina valley.
14 Q. Thank you very much?
15 JUDGE AGIUS: We have another witness who --
16 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you very much. This was just
17 for the record and thank you, Your Honours.
18 Q. The Serbian forces occupied the municipality of Zvornik, thus
19 cutting Srebrenica off from Tuzla. And this happened on the 8th of April,
20 1992. Is that correct?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. The line around Srebrenica continued when the armoured brigade
23 from Jastravaco [phoen] was deployed in the village of Lukic Polje near
24 Milici; are you aware of that?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. The villagers of Milici had their own military formation, is that
3 A. Not only in Milici. All of the villagers had their respective
4 military formations. Not just the villagers of Milici.
5 Q. I just wanted to ask you that. All of the Serbian villages around
6 Srebrenica and Bratunac as early as March 1992 had their own military
7 formations of the Territorial Defence, is that correct?
8 A. Yes, they did. And if I may add to that, at a meeting of the
9 police in Srebrenica when we discussed that, a certain number of Serbs,
10 whose name -- a certain a certain Serb whose name I can mention but maybe
11 the person doesn't want his name to be mentioned. He told us, and he
12 cried when he said that all the territorial -- Serbian defence units came
13 under the control of the JNA. His name was Milun Prendic [phoen].
14 Q. Thank you very much for this clarification. During the early days
15 of April 1992 Srebrenica was cut off from Han Pijesak, and so was Zepa.
16 Han Pijesak was to become the command centre of the Serbian army, is that
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. At that time the Serbs blew-up the facility called Kvarc which was
20 the -- one of the relays of the Bosnian television and by doing that they
21 placed the citizens of Srebrenica in media isolation?
22 A. Yes. This is correct. And let me add to that, that the repeaters
23 of the public security station of Srebrenica also existed on that relay
24 and when this was blown up, we were cut off from the rest of the world.
25 Q. Thank you very much. There was no cooperation of Serbian
1 policemen investigating such events. In other words, they basically
2 blocked such investigations?
3 A. Some did. Some did not. Some were in favour of the war. We held
4 meetings with them. We spoke to some others who were honest and came
5 under threat because they did not obey, as they didn't want this war.
6 They cried at our meetings, which were common meetings of Muslims and
7 Serbs. None of us wanted the war. But, some of our policemen worked for
8 their counter-intelligence. There were others who were honest and loyal.
9 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, let me just clarify
10 something with the witness.
11 Q. You said that some of them did not obey the SDS. This was
12 something that has been omitted from the record.
13 A. Yes. I said that some of them did not obey the SDS. And they
14 told us that at a meeting. The meeting of all of us who worked in the
16 Q. So the Serbian policemen who did not obey the SDS came under
17 threats, is that correct?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Thank you. The police station of Srebrenica, under those
20 conditions in April, could no longer work as a single unit and it was
21 transformed into seven smaller police stations: Srebrenica, Osac [phoen],
22 Skelani, Suceska, Sase, Brezani, and Potocari. Am I correct in saying
24 A. I don't know their numbers, but you are right. My superior
25 officer would know that, and it was the chief of police who decided on
1 that. I was not in the position to know the exact number.
2 Q. Thank you very much. As early as the 13th of April, 1992, there
3 were first casualties amongst the Muslims, Mehoric [phoen] From Potocari
4 and Osmanovic Saba Hudin from Gostojevo [phoen] were killed on the way to
5 their respective homes. Are you aware of that?
6 A. They were killed. They went up to Skelani. That's where they
7 were killed. And they were found somewhere near Kraglijivoda or Vitez. I
8 can't tell you anything more precise had I than that. There is a place
9 called Vitez near Kraglijivoda. I believe that that is where their bodies
10 were found.
11 Q. Thank you.
12 A. Their dead bodies were found there. The police went up there to
14 Q. Thank you very much. You've told us that on the 17th of April,
15 1992, the Serbian Democratic Party, headed by Deronjic and Zekic asked
16 people from Srebrenica to lay down their weapons. Is that correct?
17 A. Yes, it is, and this was done together with the JNA. But this
18 happened in Bratunac. The people from Bratunac were asked to do that.
19 JUDGE AGIUS: Sorry, one moment.
20 Q. What about the people from Srebrenica?
21 A. Maybe I was too fast. I apologise.
22 Q. I will clarify that with you. Witness, please, people from
23 Srebrenica were asked to come to Bratunac and in Bratunica [as
24 interpreted], the Muslims of Srebrenica were given this ultimatum to
25 surrender their weapons. Am I right in saying that?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. The president of the SDS of Bratunac, Miroslav Deronjic, gave an
3 ultimatum to the Muslim leadership and he told them: "Muslims in
4 Srebrenica have to surrender their weapons. It has been decided that this
5 part of Bosnia will become a Serbian Bosnia." You know that because the
6 participants in the meeting told you that immediately after the end of the
8 A. Yes. And I've already explained that.
9 Q. You said that you were not going to surrender your weapons. You
10 took to the woods and you invited anybody who wanted to join you to come
11 with you and that's how you took to the woods. It is correct that
12 Srebrenica came under attack on the following day, on the 18th of April,
13 1992. Is that correct?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. The Serbian forces entered Srebrenica. From then up to the 9th of
16 May 1992 many citizens of Srebrenica were either killed or went missing.
17 Am I right?
18 A. Yes. And some of them were burned alive in their houses.
19 Q. Many of those people who had not been killed were captured, and
20 they ended up in camps in the surrounding Serb villages and they were
21 subjected to torture there. Am I correct?
22 A. Yes. Some of them were killed and some of them were taken away.
23 Q. Thank you. You also told us that many houses in Srebrenica were
24 torched at that time, including your own. It was more than 80 houses at
1 A. I don't know the exact number, but you can find out and at any
2 rate, quite a few of them.
3 Q. There was looting of everything that could have been taken away?
4 Is that correct?
5 A. Correct.
6 Q. No gold was left at Srebrenica after the Serb units. Am I
8 A. Nothing was left behind the of. The people were asked to give
10 Q. If anyone were to claim that gold from Srebrenica was looted by
11 Naser Oric, it would not be correct, would it?
12 A. It would not be correct, but can we clarify something? At
13 Srebrenica we had a production plant, the 11th of March, and they
14 processed the Silver from Srebrenica. And I -- my -- and one person with
15 his men came afterwards. And then the other person sold it to me at Tuzla
16 afterwards. I mean, Naser has nothing to do with it. Desnica Radivojevic
17 had something to do with it.
18 Q. Thank you very much for clarifying that. Systematic and
19 destructive attacks followed against other Muslim villages around
20 Srebrenica in the direction of Bratunac? Am I correct?
21 A. It started. I don't know where all of these offences took place.
22 I was trying to save my life. But all sorts of things were happening and
23 at a later stage I found out about what was going on where, but at that
24 particular moment I only followed the events in Srebrenica itself.
25 Q. Thank you. Did you find out about horrible atrocities taking
1 place at the primary school Vuk Karadzic in Bratunac and in the area of
2 Bratunac against Muslims?
3 A. Yes. My grandmother was killed. She was 103 years old and she is
4 my mother's mother.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: One minute, Mr. Meholjic. - Madam Vidovic please try
6 to allow a small interval of time, a short interval of time between
7 question and answer, because you're jumping straight one on to the other
8 straight away. Sometimes not even allowing the question to finish or the
9 answer to finish. Yes, Madam Vidovic.
10 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation].
11 Q. Did you hear about the inhabitants of Glogova, Hranca, Voljevica,
12 Kauz [phoen] disappearing?
13 A. Yes. I heard about shooting as well at Glogova, around the
14 mosque. I heard about Voljevica because my mother was from Voljevica. I
15 also heard about what was going on at Bratunac because my next door
16 neighbours, Mirsa Begic, could not even get out of Srebrenica and they did
17 not have a gun or anything and were not allowed to. And then they were
18 stopped, took to school and then they were killed and tortured, et cetera.
19 And their eyes were being taken out.
20 Q. Thank you very much, Mr. Meholjic. Are you aware of the fact that
21 Muslims from Sikiric, Bjelovac, Abdulic, the area of Zanjevo were chased
22 away in the course of the first two months of 1992?
23 A. I do know about that. This is a Bratunac area. Srebrenica,
24 Skelani, up there. Everything. Wherever there was mixed population or
25 the villages were close. I mean the Serb and the Muslim villages, the
1 Muslims had to go.
2 Q. You mentioned Skelani. Isn't it correct that the Skelani area,
3 before the war, had an overwhelming majority of Muslim population; am I
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Likari was attacked from the direction of Bjelovac and Sase by the
7 end of 1992; is that correct?
8 A. According to what I heard from other people, yes. I was not at
9 Likari at that time but I did hear about it.
10 Q. Thank you very much.
11 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, perhaps this is a good
12 time for a break.
13 JUDGE AGIUS: Certainly, Madam Vidovic. We will have a 25-minute
14 break now. Thank you.
15 --- Recess taken at 12.28 p.m.
16 --- On resuming at 1.05 p.m.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. Let's proceed. Madam Vidovic.
18 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation]
19 Q. Mr. Meholjic, you're aware of the fact that by the beginning of
20 the war, the Muslims who fled to Serbia, Montenegro were sent back,
21 captured and killed, so according to orders from Miroslav Radic [phoen]
22 from Bratunac, a whole group of people on a bus coming back from Serbia
23 and Montenegro, including your brother, Malik Meholjic, were killed, is
24 that correct?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. So columns of refugees -- or rather this situation has caused
2 columns of refugees, thousands of them, at least 40.000 of them descended
3 upon Srebrenica in the summer of 1992, am I correct?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Is it not true that those people had nothing to live on, there was
6 no food, no medicines, no water, no electricity?
7 A. Not just for them. There was nothing for us who were at home
9 Q. Thank you, Mr. Meholjic. Is it not correct that only several
10 hundred pre-war inhabitants remained in Srebrenica and they, too, found
11 themselves in an extremely difficult situation with regard to food,
12 clothes, medicines, and everything else?
13 A. It's correct.
14 Q. Chaos reigned. People were exposed to daily shelling, snipers
15 during that period?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. The situation was similar in other Muslim villages surrounding
18 Srebrenica, Konjevic Polje, Cerska, they too were packed with refugees,
19 isn't that so?
20 A. According to my knowledge, yes.
21 Q. Now I would like to ask the clerk to show a document to the
22 witness. It is a document issued by the War Presidency of Srebrenica,
23 number 7/92 of the 21st of September 1992. Addressed to the Presidency of
24 the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Chief of Staff of the armed
25 forces and the public in general.
1 Mr. Meholjic, I'm going to quote to you a shorter part of that
2 document and I will ask you about your opinion. It says: "The situation
3 in the area of Srebrenica is still extremely difficult. From the Chetnik
4 stronghold Drogic [phoen] multi-barreled rocket launchers shelled Potocari
5 and Suceska. Fortunately, no one was killed or wounded, but there was a
6 great deal of material damage. In the area of Oset [phoen] and
7 Kraglijivoda there were tank attacks and Howitzer attacks from the hydro
8 electric power plant. Peratic [phoen] area, the hills of Tara [phoen] in
9 Serbia and the stronghold Jezero in the occupied territories. A convoy of
10 humanitarian aid, which three days ago reached Srebrenica, has not to this
11 day reached its destination or rather" --
12 THE INTERPRETER: Speaker corrects herself.
13 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] -- "set out three days ago and has
14 not arrived to its destination to this day. According to the news on the
15 radio of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the convoy was turned back at Bratunac
16 ten kilometres short of the final destination.
17 So from the door basically, from the door in, supposedly because
18 of mine fields, about 40.000 people living in this martyred area are
19 asking the representatives of UNPROFOR whether mine fields could have been
20 demined and whether it was absolutely necessary for this convoy to be
21 turned back."
22 Q. Mr. Meholjic, I'm going to ask you in connection with this, in
23 connection with this document, I mean, whether this document does, indeed,
24 reflect the situation in Srebrenica, non-stop shelling from the positions
25 in the surrounding Serb villages and the strongholds in Serbia proper?
1 A. I believe that it is rather understated, if we think in terms of
2 what the situation really was. Because we had air attacks from Ponikve
3 and of course you could not demine. I mean, the convoy was turned back at
4 Ljubolje [phoen], at the bridge. We saw it on TV afterwards and some
5 women and I know who they were. They stopped the convoy and they wouldn't
6 let them through. So there were no mine fields. They could have
7 travelled through. The representatives of the international community
8 travelled that road on a regular basis. There was no demining to be done.
9 Q. Thank you. You have just said that Srebrenica was shelled by
10 planes. Is it not correct that in the period from the beginning of the
11 war until demilitarisation, there were 37 such attacks?
12 A. Yes. And I myself, tried to shoot those planes and Naser said
13 "Well, why are you chasing them away from here then they go to Potocari
14 and they attack us."
15 Q. So it is indeed true that the convoys of humanitarian aid were
16 stopped because Serbs simply did not allow for them to go through?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. I would like for this document of the War Presidency to be
19 attributed a number.
20 THE REGISTRAR: It will be D242, Your Honour.
21 JUDGE AGIUS: 242?
22 THE REGISTRAR: Yes.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: So this document which is being tendered by the
24 Defence is being admitted and --
25 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: This document which is being tendered by the Defence
2 is being admitted and marked as document D242. Incidentally,
3 Mr. Di Fazio, I'm addressing you, understanding -- fully realising that
4 perhaps you can also tell me, I will have to consult the leader of -- lead
5 counsel on the team. Is the Prosecution in this case contesting that
6 there were -- that Srebrenica, at the relevant time and before, were under
7 constant attack? Or that there were these 35 or 36 or 37 aerial attacks
8 or? Because if it's not, it can save us a lot of time and a lot of
10 MR. DI FAZIO: No, no.
11 JUDGE AGIUS: If you want to -- I'm just asking a question. I'm
12 not expecting an answer now. So if you want to consult with Mr. Wubben
13 too, so that you can be give -- anyway it's up to you.
14 MR. DI FAZIO: No, I don't need to consult. There has never been
15 any contest, from the Prosecution's point of view, of the fact that
16 Srebrenica was surrounded by a hostile, aggressive enemy and that
17 conditions there were appalling. In fact, we've led evidence of that. We
18 don't shrink from that.
19 JUDGE AGIUS: So that basically means -- yes, Madam Vidovic let me
20 hear what you have to say.
21 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, if I may just reply.
22 As a matter of fact, it is about the Prosecution trying to prove all the
23 time that Serb villages had some kind of neighbourhood watch systems and
24 we are trying to show that the military action was justified and that's
25 why I'm asking witnesses about these facts. In the same way we've asked
1 for the acceptance of the Deronjic ruling and it was basically with regard
2 to the fact that the Deronjic ruling facts could be taken as established
3 and the Prosecution was against it, so it is important for me to point out
4 the military situation, characterising the area and the villages around
5 Srebrenica. The Prosecution is not actually against it, but he is trying
6 to prove something totally different.
7 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Go ahead, Ms. Vidovic.
8 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation]
9 Q. Mr. Meholjic, it is true, isn't it, that the Muslim villages in
10 that area, after the beginning of war, and up to the end of that year,
11 were separated from each other? They were not connected?
12 A. Some of them were connected. Some of them were not.
13 Q. Let me go one step after another. In Mocovici [phoen] and in
14 Poznanovici, there were refugees, is that correct? A lot of refugees?
15 A. Yes. From the neighbouring villages.
16 Q. Mocovici and Poznanovici, in the spring and early summer of 1992
17 were cut off from Srebrenica and isolated?
18 A. Yes, they were cut off by the village of Pribicevac.
19 Q. It is also true that at that time Pribicevac was a very strong
20 Serbian military stronghold?
21 A. Yes, and it was reinforced by the JNA. A JNA officer, captain
22 today, a Captain Todorovic [phoen], a very handsome man was there. He was
23 killed there. And his documents were found on the spot. He hailed from
25 Q. These villages were under constant attack from the surrounding
1 Serbian villages, I'm referring to the beginning of war, the summer and
2 spring ever 1992. Are you aware of what?
3 A. I saw with my own eyes. I saw that person. I know personally.
4 Q. The villagers of Norici [phoen], Besici, Stedra, Stedric, Pomol,
5 Djile, Johovaca [phoen], Gornja and Donja Virsenje [phoen] which were all
6 Muslim villages and they belonged to the municipality of Vlasenica during
7 the spring and early summer of 1992 these villagers were expelled and
8 arrived in the area of Suceska. Am I right in saying that?
9 A. Yes. I only heard stories. I didn't see it myself, because it is
10 closer to Suceska, which is in the opposite direction and they could see
11 it better than I could. I know that they were in that area of Konjevic
12 Polje for example is in the area of Suceska and Kusan [phoen].
13 Q. Do you know that they under constant of the Serbian units from the
14 area of Milici, including Rupovo Brdo, Podrinje and Hranca which were the
15 Serbian positions there?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Thousands sands upon thousands of people from Glogova, Hranca,
18 Suha, Borkovac, were trying to return to their villages to try and live
19 there throughout the entire year of 1992, is that correct?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Many of these people, during the year 1992, were killed in
22 ambushes as they were trying to return to their villages and get some
23 food, is that correct?
24 A. Yes, a lot of people were killed.
25 Q. They were also falling victim to mine fields, which could be found
1 everywhere on all the roads that could lead them to their villages,
2 including Korita, Potok, Polje; am I right?
3 A. Yes, you're right. I believe that we even had a record stating
4 that about 4900 people were killed in that area before the beginning of
5 1993. There are people who know exactly how many people were killed.
6 There was even official information.
7 Q. So they were killed in ambushes and in minefields?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. People who were expelled from Bjelovac, Sase, Voljevica, Abdulic,
10 were also trying to return throughout the war part of the year 1992; is
11 that correct?
12 A. And also a lot of them were killed in that attempt. They did the
13 spring sowing. During the war the Serbs did not take the opportunity to
14 get that food, so many people went during the winter and were killed. It
15 was snowing at the time.
16 Q. You said that a large number of refugees came to Srebrenica.
17 Srebrenica could not bear the pressure of so many refugees?
18 A. No, it couldn't. It is a small place, surrounded by hills. And
19 it was as if you were trying to pour one and a half litres of water into a
20 one-litre container. It is impossible.
21 Q. It is true, is it not, that the situation deteriorated by the day
22 during the late spring and summer of 1992 due to the constant shelling
23 from the reinforced Serbian positions around Srebrenica, am I right?
24 A. Yes. And Srebrenica was constantly shelled from the direction of
25 Nemici [phoen], we were shelled from the Republic of Serbia, from Sateri
1 [phoen], from elsewhere. They were shelling us from all over the place
2 with multiple rocket launchers.
3 Q. And now let me move on to another topic. Muslim units, the ones
4 that you have spoken about - if I may call them so - to a large extent
5 were cut off from each other. They were not in contact during the spring
6 and summer of 1992. When I say that, I'm referring to the units in the
7 villages that were a bit further from Srebrenica.
8 A. At the beginning, there were no units there. We didn't know who
9 was willing to put up resistance. There were no units. I just took to
10 the woods. I didn't know what would happen next, and I didn't -- we
11 didn't know whether there would be anybody else taking up rifles and
12 joining the defence. At the beginning there were no units. There were
13 just small units. One of them -- or groups. One of them with Naser. One
14 of them with me. These were not formations. They were not legal or
15 semi-legal. They were just tiny groups of people gathered around
17 Q. It is true, is it not, that every of these groups of people were
18 geared towards the defence of their own villages. They were very much
19 local oriented weren't they?
20 A. Yes. They were defending the area where they found themselves.
21 They were local units. Or local groups.
22 Q. You've told us also that the Territorial Defence of Srebrenica was
23 established and that Naser Oric was appointed its commander. The
24 Prosecutor has shown you his document, P73, a decision allegedly issued by
25 the Srebrenica TO in Bajramovici.
1 MS. VIDOVIC: Can I please ask the usher to present this document
2 to the witness again. The document is P73.
3 Q. Can you please look at this decision once again. This is a
4 decision issued on the 20th of May, 1992, allegedly in Bajramovici. You
5 confirmed that these people became members of the body which was set up in
6 Bajramovici. These people are from certain villages, Potocari, Suceska,
7 Bajramovici, Bojna, Ljiesa [phoen] and Srebrenica itself. You can see it
8 in the document can't you?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Let me put a few questions to you in this regard. You will agree
11 with me, won't you, that there were many other villages in the territory
12 of Srebrenica and Bratunac which had armed groups of people, but these
13 villages did not subscribe to the agreement in Bajramovici. Will you
14 agree with that?
15 A. I don't know what you mean when you say "subscribe." If somebody
16 invited them, they were supposed to give a reason why they were not
17 present. But I will agree that there were some armed groups of people
18 which were not represented by -- at this meeting, and were not encompassed
19 by what it says here.
20 Q. You will agree with me and you have also told us, but let's
21 clarify, that the Muslim villages, some of the Muslim villages were
22 isolated and there were -- there were Serbian forces among those villages.
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. You will also agree, then, that under such circumstances their
25 communication was very difficult.
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. I put it to you that many villagers in the Srebrenica and Bratunac
3 area did not know anything about the agreement that was achieved in
4 Bajramovici. Will you agree with that?
5 A. Yes. I didn't know myself.
6 Q. Thank you very much. You knew Fadila Turkovic [phoen] who was a
7 policeman before the war and a commander of the police station in
9 A. I first knew him as a driver and when the SDA came into power,
10 they appointed him commander.
11 Q. But you did know him?
12 A. Yes, I did. I knew him really well.
13 Q. It is true, isn't it, that he rallied around himself a large group
14 of refugees from Vlasenica who arms and who had arrived in the general
15 area of Suceska. Is that correct?
16 A. Yes, it is.
17 Q. This unit was never under the command of Zulfo Tursunovic, was it?
18 A. No, it wasn't, because he had to flee. Because he betrayed
19 Vlasenica and he had to flee to Zepa.
20 Q. Are you aware of the fact that this unit participated in the
21 fighting around Rupovo Brdo and Podravanje during 1992?
22 A. Please, I am not aware of who attacked Rupovo Brdo, that was very
23 far from me. And I did not have any contacts with anybody. Nobody
24 informed me about that. It is possible that you are right. I'm not
25 ruling out anything. I know that Fadil was killed there in the area of
1 Zepa, and as for his group, who was in charge of this group, who was its
2 leader, I really don't know.
3 Q. Do you have anything similar information about Podravanje?
4 A. I know that people from Zepa participated but they may have
5 participated as well. People from Zepa -- everybody now says if you ask
6 them where they hale from they will say they were from Srebrenica. I was
7 in Tuzla when a guy came to beg at my door. I asked him where he was
8 from, he said he was from Srebrenica. I said where from. He said, "I'm
9 not from Srebrenica, I'm from Zvornik." So when we're talking about this
10 event everybody says he was from Zepa. Whether he was from Zepa or not, I
11 wouldn't know.
12 Q. Right. Have I understood you correctly that units from Zepa,
13 possibly Turkovic's units participated in the battles around Podravanje?
14 A. It is possible. I did say in my statement that there were some
15 Zepa people, but they could have come in from some of the surrounding
16 villages as well.
17 Q. Thank you. Those units, so there were many other armed groups
18 which for a longer period of time, perhaps all the way up to
19 demilitarisation acted independently. Are you aware of anything like
21 A. No. I don't know how other people acted. For the simple
22 reason -- I mean I really want to tell the truth here, and nothing more
23 but the truth. Probably there was something like that, but I really don't
24 know what the line of command was for Logova [phoen] et cetera. I don't
25 know that. I know what I know. I know what I've told you here. And I
1 know about my participation. And I know I take full responsibility for
2 moral, material, and criminal responsibility for everything I did.
3 Q. Thank you. Mr. Meholjic, these units that we talked about,
4 generally speaking, offered resistance in the course of the summer -- no,
5 spring, summer, and autumn 1992, at least until the 14th of October. They
6 offered resistance, but they had a -- local commanders and they had a
7 local organisation as far as you know?
8 A. Can you clarify your question, because it is not clear to me.
9 Some of them did act and others didn't. I was one of those who acted as I
10 felt was right, and that's what I did. I have nothing to hide. As to
11 what other people did, I don't know. There was staff there, as it was.
12 They know who acted within it, who acted outside. I'm not somebody who
13 has full knowledge of all of these things.
14 JUDGE AGIUS: Madam Vidovic --
15 Q. Thank you.
16 JUDGE AGIUS: Madam Vidovic, if you look at the previous question,
17 and then your last question, this is the problem. Because to your
18 previous question, the witness had not agreed with what you were
19 suggesting. And you simply ignored the answer that he gave you and
20 assumed that he had agreed or put another question assuming that he was
21 agreeing with the position as submitted to him by you, which is not the
22 case. So he has never -- he told you straight "I don't know how other
23 people acted." He told you he didn't know, he can't give you information
24 about these other units. And then you ask him precisely what these other
25 units were supposed to have been doing.
1 So let's move, if you have a more concrete way of approaching this
2 particular matter, you please go ahead. If not, please go ahead with your
3 next question.
4 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, the essence of my
5 question to the witness was whether it was self-organised structure.
6 Nobody set up those groups, but they got organised themselves in the
7 beginning of the war. And for a certain period during the war. Whether
8 they got organised themselves, that was the essential of my question.
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. That was the case with me, and
10 that was a group that got together on their own initiative and then,
11 afterwards, everything else I've said.
12 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation].
13 Q. Thank you. Thank you Mr. Meholjic. As to the decision about the
14 setting up of the so-called, the Territorial Defence for Srebrenica Staff
15 or that body that was formed on the 20th of May, 1992, you will agree that
16 at Bajramovici the decision was made by an informal group of people, isn't
17 that right?
18 A. Yes. According to my assessment, yes.
19 Q. Thank you. According to the legal provisions that applied then of
20 the former Yugoslavia, that such a decision would have had to be made by a
21 social-political body, isn't that true?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Since the decision was made by an informal group of people, it was
24 not adhered to by all the armed groups and individuals, wasn't that so?
25 A. I know I didn't.
1 Q. And do you agree with me that that is probably one of the reasons
2 why you, inside Srebrenica, did not consider that decision to be binding
3 for you?
4 A. I thought that we had to do something, coordinate something. But
5 I was of the opinion that it had to be done in a different way. And I
6 thought that it was illegal, from my point of view. I think I've
7 mentioned it. I still don't know whether it was legal or not. But my
8 assessment at the time was that it was not legal.
9 Q. In other words, you did not consider that agreement at Bajramovici
10 as an -- as a State act and therefore you did not act in line with it.
11 A. No.
12 Q. In the course of your testimony, you mentioned that at Bajramovici
13 Naser Oric was appointed commander. You were of the opinion that it
14 wasn't a good solution, wasn't that right?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. In reply to the Prosecution's question as to whether
17 Mr. Tursonovic tried to convince you to accept Oric as commander, you
18 replied that -- actually, you said that he had told you in case it doesn't
19 go well, things could change. It is not a matter that I myself personally
20 refused, accepting Oric, it was a matter of the overall situation. It was
21 very difficult to do anything that was appropriate, considering the
22 situation and I was of the view that he was not capable of living up to
23 the task. And in connection with this I'm going to ask you a following
25 You believed that Oric was not up to the task because he was a
1 young man. He was only 25 years old, and had no military experience,
2 except doing his military service in the former JNA, and more specifically
3 he had no command experience. Is that correct?
4 A. Yes. Plus the situation was rather complex. And one needs some
5 life experience as well, and I was of the view that -- well, he as a
6 person was a different matter. But with regard to that job, I felt it was
7 too much of a burden for all of us and let alone one person.
8 Q. Zulfo Tursunovic told you at the time things might change. Naser
9 might be replaced later, if things don't go well. Do you agree that Naser
10 Oric did not impose himself and did not ask to be appointed commander?
11 A. According to my knowledge, he did not.
12 Q. Do you agree that Naser was elected or selected as the commander
13 because he was a young, charismatic and popular person?
14 A. I would rather tend to say people who were discussing the whole
15 issue, they were counting on the fact that he was a member of the special
16 forces with Milosevic and he had some training, because they were given
17 special training and that's why they felt he could do something. And I
18 think that was the reason, even though I was of the view that the
19 commander did not necessarily have to be a good fighter. But I felt that
20 he had to be able to draw on some life experience and have a different
21 view of life, because he was young, lively and -- well, that was my
23 MR. DI FAZIO: If Your Honours please, I don't have any objection
24 to the direction of this cross-examination and the matters that
25 Madam Vidovic is raising. I have no problem at all with that. However,
1 you should be made aware of the basis on which these answers are coming.
2 For example, Madam Vidovic asked the witness "Do you agree that Naser was
3 elected or selected as commander because he was young, and charismatic and
4 a popular person." Now, if that was something that is based on knowledge
5 of events at Bajramovici, bearing in mind that he wasn't there, then that
6 should be stipulated; or, whether it is something he knows about because
7 he later found out about, that should be stipulated as well. Otherwise
8 you end up with answers that you won't be able to evaluate later on, and I
9 suggest that the basis for his opinions and anything he may say about
10 events at Bajramovici should be made really clear to you.
11 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, I think you are 100 per cent right,
12 Mr. Di Fazio. And I think the witness has heard what you said and he will
13 make a statement accordingly.
14 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you. Thank you. Thank you,
15 Your Honour. But if I may respond to that very briefly. My learned
16 friend from the Prosecution put a number of questions yesterday about the
17 meeting in Bajramovici, including who was present, the citizens, the army.
18 All the although the witness wasn't at that meeting and that is why I've
19 been putting wasn't at that meeting and that is why I've been putting
20 questions about Bajramovici, in any case I am going to abide by your
21 suggestion, Your Honours, and I will move on.
22 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. I think this is very little time left to move
23 on, Madam Vidovic. Perhaps the witness -- did you understand what
24 Mr. Di Fazio said? In other words you have been making statements on,
25 such as that from your knowledge Mr. Oric never asked to be appointed
1 commander and, secondly, that you've given your own interpretation or
2 belief of why he was chosen. How do you come to these conclusions?
3 Because you were not there in Bajramovici? No?
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Zulfo told me all that when I met
5 with him in the Domavija hotel. He wanted to persuade me to accept Naser
6 as commander. I told him at that moment that I did not perceive Oric as a
7 person fit for a commander, due to his age, lack of experience. I believe
8 that that is what I said and you can find it on the record. I've already
9 said that. Zulfo conveyed to me what was discussed up there, just in
10 rough outlines. This person is no longer amongst us. You cannot confirm
11 this with him. Zulfo asked whether this person had to have a university
12 degree or not. This is what Zulfo told me.
13 Q. Thank you, Mr. Meholjic. I will end today's day with my next
14 question. Mr. Meholjic Mr. Oric was not appointed because of his
15 maturity, experience, military knowledge education, or any similar thing,
16 is that correct? As far as you know?
17 A. As far as I know he wasn't. He was appointed for the things that
18 I mentioned earlier on.
19 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: I think we will have to leave it at that for today.
21 We will reconvene tomorrow morning at 9.00.
22 Let's go into private session for one minute.
23 [Private session]
5 [Open session]
6 JUDGE AGIUS: We stand adjourned until tomorrow morning at 9.00
8 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1.46 p.m.,
9 to be reconvened on Friday, the 8th day of April,
10 2005, at 9.00 a.m.