1 Thursday, 26 May 2005
2 [Open session]
3 --- Upon commencing at 2.21 p.m.
4 [The accused entered court]
5 JUDGE AGIUS: Good afternoon, Madam Registrar. Could you call the
6 case, please?
7 THE REGISTRAR: Good afternoon, Your Honours. This is the case
8 number IT-03-68-T, the Prosecutor versus Naser Oric.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, Madam and good afternoon to you.
10 Appearances -- sorry, Mr. Oric, before we proceed any further, I would
11 like to hear from your own mouth that you are receiving interpretation in
12 a language which you can understand.
13 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Good day, Your Honours, ladies and
14 gentlemen. I am receiving interpretation and I can fully follow the
15 proceedings in my own language.
16 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. I thank you. You may sit down and good
17 afternoon to you.
18 Appearances for the Prosecution?
19 MS. SELLERS: Good afternoon, Your Honours, I'm Patricia Sellers
20 for the Prosecution. With me today is co-counsel, Ms. Joanne Richardson,
21 and our case manager, Ms. Donnica Henry-Frijlink.
22 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you Madam Sellers, and good afternoon to you
23 and your team.
24 Appearances for Naser Oric.
25 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Good afternoon, Your Honours. My
1 name is Vasvija Vidovic and with Mr. John Jones I appear for Mr. Naser
2 Oric. With us are our legal assistant, Ms. Adisa Mehic, and our CaseMap
3 manager, Mr. Geoff Roberts.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, Madam and good afternoon to you and
5 your team.
6 Ms. Richardson, have you discussed with Madam Vidovic how time
7 she's prepared to allow you to take from her own time?
8 MS. RICHARDSON: Yes, good afternoon, Your Honours. In fact, the
9 Defence has agreed to allow me 15 minutes of their time which I
11 JUDGE AGIUS: That's very generous on their part. They are more
12 generous than I am. I would have allowed you six to seven minutes.
13 Yes, any preliminaries? None?
14 MS. RICHARDSON: No, Your Honour.
15 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Let's bring the witness in, please.
16 Yes, Madam Vidovic?
17 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, by your leave, today
18 during the cross-examination, I ask leave to sit because I still have
19 health problems.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. Madam Vidovic, you don't need to ask me each
21 time. Take it that you have my permission or otherwise you have our
22 permission to do that, to remain seated until you are in a position where
23 you can stand. It's up to you when the time comes for that. Just let us
24 know. Otherwise you don't need to ask us each time.
25 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
1 [The witness entered court]
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Good afternoon to you, Mr. Omerovic. Welcome back.
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: I take it that you are receiving interpretation, so
5 if there is a problem, let me know like you did yesterday. I suggest you
6 take your seat. You are still testifying under oath, which you don't need
7 to repeat today, and you are now going to be asked a few questions for the
8 next 15 minutes by Ms. Richardson and then she will be followed by Madam
9 Vidovic with her cross-examination.
10 WITNESS: MENSUD OMEROVIC [Resumed]
11 Examined by Ms. Richardson: [Continued]
12 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you, Your Honour.
13 Q. Good afternoon, Mr. Omerovic. Yesterday at the end of the Court
14 session, you advised the Trial Chamber that there were lawyers in
15 Srebrenica, excuse me, and I showed you a document with a list of lawyers.
16 I would ask you today, in addition to the list we saw which included Avdo
17 Majstorovic, could you tell us whether there was another lawyer in
18 Srebrenica that you know of?
19 A. Apart from the people on the list, there was no other lawyer who
20 had graduated from university in Srebrenica at that point in time. One
21 person from the list, Esad Nukic, was in Tuzla at that time because he had
22 duties assigned to him by the War Presidency of Srebrenica municipality,
23 or, rather, the Transitionary Municipal Council which had then been
24 established as the legislative organ.
25 Q. Prior to that, he had been in Srebrenica; is that correct?
1 A. Yes. He had been the secretary first of the War Presidency and
2 then of the Transitional Municipal Council.
3 Q. Thank you. Are you familiar with Amir Mehmedovic? I may not be
4 pronouncing it properly.
5 A. I'm not familiar with that name. I have never heard it.
6 Q. Perhaps if I show you the document with his name on it, you can
7 tell us if you're familiar.
8 MS. RICHARDSON: Your Honour, I'd like to have P539 shown to the
9 witness. It is on Sanction.
10 Q. If you look at the person who wrote this letter, the assistant to
11 the commander for legal affairs, Amir Mehmedovic, could you tell us if
12 you're familiar with there individual?
13 A. Amir Mehmedovic. You mispronounced it.
14 Q. I apologise.
15 A. I cannot remember what this person looked like. I might be able
16 to remember him better if I heard his nickname, but I'm sure that he had
17 not graduated from law school. I might have performed these duties, but
18 he was certainly not a lawyer who had graduated from university. He had
19 some other sort of education. I'm sure that I knew all the lawyers in
20 Srebrenica who had graduated as lawyers and I knew all their names and all
21 of them had been assigned to various duties and positions.
22 Q. Thank you.
23 Now I'd like to move on to another area.
24 Thank you, Madam Usher that's all I have with respect to that
1 You testified yesterday that you attended the War Presidency
2 meetings, in particular one on November 9th, 1992. Could you tell us if
3 you attended other meetings of the War Presidency as well?
4 A. Perhaps two others. I'm sure about one. There were two or three
5 meetings of the War Presidency altogether that I attended. One was when
6 we discussed the organisation of the court and the problem of the lower
7 court and the problems of public law and order, crime, murders and so on.
8 And there was another meeting a few months before the fall of Srebrenica.
9 This was perhaps in March 1995.
10 Q. Was Naser Oric present at any of those meetings?
11 A. He was present at the last of these meetings.
12 Q. During the time that you were in Srebrenica, how often in addition
13 to the meetings, did you come in contact with Naser Oric?
14 A. Very rarely.
15 Q. And did he live in the same vicinity as you did?
16 A. After the demilitarisation, he would sometimes frequent a flat,
17 visit a flat, which was in the building I resided in. There was some
18 young men living in that flat, and after the demilitarisation, he would
19 visit there. In 1992 and 1993, I saw him on one or two occasions entering
20 the building I resided in, in 1992 and 1993. And in 1994 he would come
21 more off.
22 Q. During the times you saw Naser Oric when you were in Srebrenica,
23 could you tell us what his appearance was? In other words, was he clean
24 shaven or did he wear a beard, any facial hair?
25 A. He had short hair. He always cut his hair short. And he had a
1 small beard, some growth on his chin, a long time has elapsed. It's hard
2 to remember. But I would like to add that in Srebrenica there was a
3 person who resembled Naser Oric physically. This was Hazim Omerovic from
4 the village of Voljavica near Bratunac who resided in Srebrenica all the
5 time, and he looked a lot like Naser Oric and he had a similar hairstyle
6 and people who didn't know Naser well might confuse the two.
7 Q. But you --
8 JUDGE AGIUS: One question, Ms. Richardson. One moment,
9 Ms. Richardson. You described Naser Oric for us. The question actually
10 related to the period that you would see him in Srebrenica, and I
11 understood that to be 1992, 1993, 1994. Was it always the same appearance
12 throughout these three years or did it change from time to time? For
13 example, did you ever see him with long hair?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] He never wore long hair in
15 Srebrenica, or at least I didn't see that he had longer hair.
16 JUDGE AGIUS: Did you ever see him clean shaven and not with a
17 small beard?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I probably did, but those are
19 details it's hard to recall after all those years.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. I appreciate that.
21 Yes, Ms. Richardson.
22 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you, Your Honour.
23 Q. You testified yesterday that you -- the Court contacted Tuzla by
24 means of communication system that was coded. You also testified about
25 couriers. Did yourself or anyone else in the court contact Tuzla by any
1 other means?
2 A. I had two contacts with Tuzla through a ham radio station. When
3 we had problems in extending detention for some persons who were listed as
4 members of the army and we could not extend their custody and the time had
5 come for their release, I tried to contact the president of the district
6 military court in Tuzla. From the president of the War Presidency in
7 Srebrenica, I received approval to use a ham radio station to talk to
8 Tuzla. This conversation was scheduled but instead of the president of
9 the district military court, Mr. Hajrudin Halilovic, who was a judge of
10 that court spoke to me. Until the war he had been the president of the
11 lower court in Srebrenica. I wanted to ask them to send us as soon as
12 possible either a decision on the extension of custody or the termination
13 of custody for the persons we were holding in detention because we had no
14 legal basis to keep them in detention any longer. But he told me we could
15 not discuss these matters over that communication -- method of
16 communication because it was easy to listen into.
17 Q. Let me stop you here, Mr. Omerovic. We only have but so much
18 time. Where was this ham radio station located?
19 A. One was located in the post office building in Srebrenica, and the
20 other was located behind the municipal building in a -- in a room that was
21 very shabby and small, and three ham radio operators changed shifts there,
22 and all the citizens who wanted to communicate with their families
23 elsewhere would come there and try to establish communication with their
25 Q. Thank you.
1 MS. RICHARDSON: Your Honour, at this time I would like the
2 photograph to be shown to the exhibit -- excuse me, to the witness, and
3 that is Exhibit 523 and it is on Sanction.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: Again if you have got more important questions I
5 would suggest you move to those rather than to stick with this,
6 Ms. Richardson.
7 MS. RICHARDSON: Your Honour, this would only take less than a
8 minute and I am keeping an eye on my 15 minutes.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. All right. A minute over 15 minutes is quite
10 a lot.
11 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you, Your Honour.
12 Q. Is this the type of radio that you used to contact Tuzla? If you
13 could just answer with a yes.
14 MR. JONES: Or no.
15 A. More or less it looked like this. It had these buttons and the
16 thing you hod to speak into. So it looked approximately like this. I
17 can't be sure it's identical but it did look like this, yes.
18 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you. I don't have any other questions with
19 respect to that document, thank you.
20 Q. Mr. Omerovic, did you in your capacity as the president of the
21 court during the time that were you in Srebrenica receive any reports of
22 war crimes such as destruction of property or maltreatment of prisoners or
23 any reports regarding the death of prisoners, from anyone including the
24 military police or Naser Oric?
25 A. No. I had absolutely no information of this kind.
1 Q. Did you receive any reports from the Prosecutor of this nature?
2 A. No.
3 MS. RICHARDSON: Your Honour, I just have one additional
4 photograph to be shown to the witness and that is from P419. ERN number
5 03617726, and this is on Sanction.
6 Q. And I really don't have any more time, Mr. Omerovic, so if you
7 could just tell us briefly if you recognise this picture and what is it?
8 What building is it?
9 A. This is the building of the police station in Srebrenica.
10 Q. Thank you. That's 03617726.
11 The next is 03617720.
12 A. This is the same building. It's the entrance.
13 Q. Thank you and then 03617716.
14 A. This is the municipal building of Vogosca municipality and next to
15 it is the building adjacent to it, actually. It's the building of the
16 lower court.
17 Q. Did you have an office in this building at any time during your
18 time in Srebrenica?
19 A. Yes. In 1993, we had first one office when I was on my own, and
20 then two. It was in this building upstairs because at that time, in the
21 billing of the Court, refugees were accommodated. So we had first one
22 office and then two, and these were in the municipal building upstairs.
23 Q. Thank you. The next photograph 03617714.
24 MR. JONES: I would just note that we have exceeded the 15 minute
1 MS. RICHARDSON: This is my last one, Your Honour.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: We have exceeded it by a few seconds.
3 MR. JONES: I wouldn't want my learned friend to trespass on our
4 good nature.
5 MS. RICHARDSON: This is my -- this is the last photograph,
6 Your Honour.
7 Q. Mr. Omerovic, you recognise this building?
8 A. Yes, there is the building of the lower court in Srebrenica.
9 Q. Were any other offices in this building -- were there any other
10 offices in this building?
11 A. On the ground floor, after the establishment of the municipal
12 prison, the prison was located on the ground floor. The court was
13 upstairs on the second floor and refugees were still accommodated on the
14 first floor, so we were on the second floor. Refugees were in between on
15 the first floor. And the prison was downstairs on the ground floor.
16 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you, Your Honour. I don't have any other
18 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you, Ms. Richardson.
19 Madam Vidovic.
20 Cross-examined by Ms. Vidovic:
21 Q. Good afternoon, Mr. Omerovic. I would like to put a number of
22 questions to you that can be answered very briefly, either with a "yes" if
23 you agree with what I put to you or with a "no" if you don't agree since
24 our time is limited.
25 Besides this, when I finish my question, please make a short pause
1 before you begin to answer for the sake of the interpreters. Thank you.
2 Mr. Omerovic, Bratunac municipality before the war had about
3 33.619 inhabitants?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. 21.535 Muslims lived there which amounted to 64.2 per cent, is
6 this correct?
7 A. Yes. This information is correct.
8 Q. Therefore, in 1992, there were almost twice as many Muslims in
9 Bratunac as there were Serbs?
10 A. Yes, precisely so.
11 Q. Regardless of this, or regardless of the fact that the Muslim
12 population was in the absolute majority in early 1992, within the scope of
13 the conception of dividing municipalities, the Serbian Democratic Party
14 joined these municipalities into the Birac autonomous region. I'm
15 referring to Bratunac and Srebrenica. Is this correct?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. In late 1991, and early 1992, the JNA located heavy weapons in
18 various localities in Ljubovija and pointed the barrels towards the Muslim
19 neighbourhoods in Bratunac, am I correct?
20 A. Yes, that's correct.
21 Q. The military training of local Serbs, starting in March 1992 in
22 the Bratunac area, was carried out publicly, am I correct?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. In the course of 1991 and 1992, the Serb nationalist propaganda
25 reached its peak?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. And what they said was that Serbs were under threat in Srebrenica
3 and that they would be safe only if they remained within a greater Serbia,
4 is this correct?
5 A. Yes. This appeared in the Belgrade newspapers, on television
6 shows, and so on.
7 Q. Thank you. In the town of Bratunac itself, slogans appeared such
8 as, "This is Serbia," "Move out Turks before you've been slaughtered."
9 Large knives were drawn in these graffiti, am I correct?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Therefore, contrary to the Serb propaganda, it was, in fact, the
12 Muslims who were in danger in that area?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Starting in March 1992, and onwards, it was their property that
15 was destroyed in Bratunac, wasn't it?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. There were numerous incidents in which Muslims were intimidated?
18 A. Yes. Starting in 1991, as of September, these incidents occurred.
19 Q. Thank you. In early April 1992, the Serbs in Bratunac and the
20 villages around Bratunac were armed, am I right?
21 A. Yes, absolutely.
22 Q. As soon -- as early as the 10th of April 1992, in the Bratunac
23 area, you saw people wearing camouflage uniforms with insignia saying
24 "SAO" armed with automatic weapons, is this correct?
25 A. Yes, it's correct. In the centre of Bratunac I saw people in
1 camouflage uniforms carrying -- wearing SAO insignia and these were people
2 who had a murky past.
3 Q. Thank you. This SAO insignia means Serbian autonomous region, am
4 I correct?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Men -- the men in uniform, which you have just described, were
7 local Serbs whom you knew?
8 A. Yes, I knew them.
9 Q. Among the Muslims, there was panic, wasn't there?
10 A. Yes, precisely so. They all fled the towns to the surrounding
11 Muslim villages where they hid.
12 Q. And that is why you yourself decided to leave Bratunac with your
13 family, isn't it?
14 A. Yes, precisely so. The moment I learned that the Serbs had set up
15 checkpoints at all exits from the town, which they were guarding with
16 weapons, I decided to leave while I still had the chance.
17 Q. Thank you. Many Muslims who remained in Bratunac were arrested
18 and there was mass murder of Muslims, am I right in saying that more than
19 2.000 Muslims in Bratunac were killed during the spring of 1992?
20 A. Yes, a large number of people were killed and there is information
21 to this effect, their names are known. Mass executions were carried out
22 and so on and so forth.
23 Q. Thank you. In the village of Bibici which you mentioned in your
24 testimony, you were stopped by armed soldiers and they were in camouflage
25 uniforms, were they not?
1 A. When on the 10th or 11th I left Srebrenica for the village of
2 Krusev Do, in the village of Bibici there was a patrol in camouflage
3 uniform standing in front of my car and they had balaclava helmets on
4 their heads, with slits for the eyes. One was wearing the uniform of a
5 reserve policeman, and two of them had these masks. I was with my wife
6 and child.
7 Q. My question was did they wear camouflage uniforms?
8 A. Yes. They did.
9 Q. Thank you. In the area of Podravanje you were stopped by the
10 local Serbs, were you not?
11 A. Yes, in two locations.
12 Q. They too did have uniforms and automatic weapons, did they not?
13 A. They had parade JNA uniforms or the so-called combat fatigues.
14 They had automatic weapons, they had Motorolas and they were in groups of
15 about a dozen.
16 Q. Thank you. In the village of Podravanje, they had two
17 checkpoints, did they not?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. In the Muslim villages surrounding Srebrenica and Bratunac, as of
20 April 1992, there was shortage of food and medication; is that correct?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. You saw that yourself in Krusev Do and Luka?
23 A. Yes, people were short of food.
24 Q. Thank you. The reason for that was because the movement of
25 Muslims even then was limited by the set up checkpoints set up by the
1 Serbs, as well as the armed forces that were deployed in various villages,
2 am I right?
3 A. Yes. One couldn't move too much and go and buy food.
4 Q. Thank you. As of late April, Serb forces started shelling Muslim
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Serb planes participated in those attacks as of June and July
8 1992, isn't that correct?
9 A. Yes, it is. They dropped bombs on Luka and Krusev Do where I
10 stayed with my wife and child and they dropped cassette bombs, cluster
11 bombs, and these villages were exclusively populated by civilians.
12 Q. Thank you. Cluster bombs are very destructive and in particular
13 against civilian population?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Local Serbs attacked and killed from ambush and they would kill
16 civilians, Muslims, entire families in June and July 1992 were killed in
17 that way in the area of Bratunac, am I correct?
18 A. Yes, absolutely. I can even describe some of the incidents, if
20 Q. Thank you. This was particularly pronounced in the area towards
21 Zajnovo [phoen] or Abdulici because there is the same village with two
22 names as well as Voljevica, Zaluzje [phoen] and towards Glogova but
23 elsewhere as well, am I right?
24 A. Yes, in all of the above.
25 Q. Krusev Do that you spoke about, as well as many other villages,
1 were completely isolated because in between them, there were Serbian army
2 strong holds; is that correct?
3 A. Exactly. They were completely surrounded without any sort of
4 communication with the outside world.
5 Q. That was the reason for the situation in Krusev Do. It was very
6 grave without food and medication, and you had to leave the place?
7 A. Yes. There was no food, medication, physicians, electricity,
9 Q. Upon your arrival to Srebrenica in mid-July 1992, you found a very
10 serious situation there?
11 A. Yes. It was a desperate one.
12 Q. Thank you. Prior to that period, there were Serbs there, the city
13 was devastated and there was no electricity, medication, or food there
15 A. Precisely so.
16 Q. Life was actually paralysed, blocked?
17 A. Completely.
18 Q. You personally had to ask for food from the people you knew in
19 order to survive?
20 A. Yes, but they didn't have much for themselves either.
21 Q. You risked your life going to the nearby Muslim villages to get
22 anything to eat for your family?
23 A. Yes. Even once I went as far down as to the area of Bratunac to
24 the village of Voljavica between the Chetnik positions during the night in
25 order to bring some food, but I wasn't successful.
1 Q. Thank you. It would happen on occasion that for days you had
2 nothing to eat; is that correct?
3 A. Yes, it is.
4 Q. Once Mr. Majstorovic said that you looked very poorly, you were in
5 a bad shape, and he gave you a bag of nuts, isn't that correct?
6 A. Yes, this is Mr. Majstorovic's brother, who was my colleague and
8 Q. For a while, you survived eating a nut a day; is that correct?
9 A. Yes. I would take that nut to my work, when I started working
10 with the court, and perhaps around 11 or noon, I would eat it and that was
12 Q. On one occasion, you saw some old women starving to death and you
13 gave one of them their nut, is that correct?
14 A. Yes. This was a Catholic woman, a Croat, who fled from Rogatica
15 to Zepa and from Zepa to Srebrenica because she had no place to stay in
16 Zepa, and she was there together with two other elderly women. She came
17 to the municipal building and the president of the War Presidency would on
18 occasion give them a coupon so that they could get a meal from the local
19 kitchen while there was food, and they were very exhausted. She was
20 shivering, she was close to 80. I took out that nut and gave it to her
21 and she ate it.
22 Q. So on that day, you had nothing to eat?
23 A. That's true.
24 Q. That was early fall 1992?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. People, elderly people, children, women, began dying from hunger
2 and diseases?
3 A. Yes. I believe those women that we talked about died from hunger
4 and because of the winter that was coming, because I never saw them
6 Q. Children, in particular, suffered from hunger. They went around
7 town on a daily basis going from one door to the next begging for food?
8 A. That is true. Every day between 10 to 15 children would knock on
9 one's door, asking for a piece of bread. They were pale, exhausted and in
10 very poor shape.
11 Q. Falls in eastern Bosnia are quite cold but winters are terrible?
12 A. Winters are very heavy with lots of snow, very cold.
13 Q. And the temperatures go as low as minus 30 degrees Centigrade?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Death was a daily occurrence, there was shelling, bombs dropping
16 from planes, and the situation was very terrible in Srebrenica in 1992?
17 A. Yes. We were bombed on a daily basis. The centre of Srebrenica
18 was attacked by planes every day and there was constant shelling,
19 particularly from multiple rocket launchers and they would simply drop
20 around 30 to 40 shells in the area of the town at once. It was terrible.
21 Q. So the town was in total chaos -- total state of chaos, some
22 people went wild?
23 A. Yes. Some people did go wild and some women as well.
24 Q. By the end of 1992, it looked like Srebrenica would fall?
25 A. Yes. There was no possibility to defend, no ammunition, no food,
1 no medication.
2 Q. It seemed that tens of thousands of people who were in Srebrenica
3 were facing death from hunger and cold?
4 A. Yes. This is how I saw it, that all of those people will die,
5 collectively, en masse.
6 Q. Terrible hunger, death, and siege had to be stopped, had it not?
7 A. We were looking desperately for a way out.
8 Q. People had to start or go into action to get some food in order to
9 feed their loved ones?
10 A. We could either die, starve to death, or we could get killed
11 trying to get food. Otherwise we would die any way so we had to go and
12 search for food.
13 Q. That's precisely what I wanted to ask you about, Mr. Omerovic.
14 You were there, you are a person who can assess a given situation. Had
15 those people not gone into actions in Serbian villages, thousands of
16 people would have died because of the siege?
17 A. There was no food in Srebrenica whatsoever. All of those people
18 would have died. We had nothing to use as food. There was no
19 humanitarian aid. We were absolutely under siege and no one was trying to
21 Q. The weaponry that was seized from the Serb villages meant that
22 their families were able to survive because the fight for the food and
23 survival could continue?
24 A. Yes.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Ms. Richardson?
1 MS. RICHARDSON: Your Honour, it's a bit of a delayed reaction but
2 I believe the witness is testifying to -- the people would have starved,
3 et cetera. Perhaps we can just be a little bit more specific about what
4 people, what areas he's referring to. Are we talking about Srebrenica,
5 the areas outside?
6 JUDGE AGIUS: I that took it he's talking about Srebrenica.
7 However if you --
8 MS. RICHARDSON: There's -- there has been other testimony about
9 different villages.
10 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes.
11 Mr. Omerovic, you've heard Ms. Richardson. If you can expand on
12 that, if you're talking only about Srebrenica because that's what you
13 know, then you stick to Srebrenica. If you are also familiar with the
14 situation as it obtained in nearby villages or in other areas, provided
15 you know this yourself, then you can of course amplify on what you've told
16 us already.
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The entire area of Srebrenica was
18 exposed to hunger because in all of the villages, there were lots of
19 refugees. So the villages plus the urban part of the settlement, all of
20 the people there were hungry. There was no food whatsoever. Perhaps
21 someone could harvest a bit but in each village there was a lot of
22 refugees, not only in the town, so everyone was hungry. And in the area
23 of Srebrenica, the soil is not very favourable to grow wheat and so on.
24 So there was no food.
25 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation]
1 Q. Thank you very much, Mr. Omerovic. So people had two options,
2 attack and take weapons and food or die; is that correct?
3 A. Precisely so. There was no other way out.
4 Q. Thank you. Even yourself, who were a judge at the time, were one
5 of those people because you were trying desperately to get food; is that
7 A. I had to take that step. I had my wife and my child who was four.
8 We had nothing to eat. I was forced to either die or get some food.
9 Q. Mr. Omerovic, it is correct, is it not, that the army did not
10 organise civilians including yourself to follow them into action?
11 A. Each person on their own went trying to get some food for
12 themselves and families. Entire families went, including women and
14 Q. So the armed forces did not organise you to join them in their
15 actions and operations?
16 A. No, absolutely no.
17 Q. You went to the area of Bjelovac, Loznica Rijeka, and Sase because
18 you found about the forthcoming action?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. The fact that there would be an attack was something that wasn't
21 possible to be kept secret because people who were armed, the combatants,
22 did not live in barracks, they lived with their families?
23 A. Precisely so. They lived with their wives and children. They
24 would stand guard so everyone knew when the next operation would be.
25 Q. They would talk about that in their houses and the word would get
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
2 A. Yes. Srebrenica is a small area, very small area, that was still
4 JUDGE AGIUS: One moment. Before you put the question.
5 MS. RICHARDSON: I do apologise. With respect to the witness just
6 gave an answer about "they." What's -- sorry, they lived with their wives
7 and children and the reference to "they," I would only ask that he be more
9 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] If I may respond, our colleagues
10 from the Prosecution can clarify this objection if their redirect. I did
11 previously mention combatants in my question and the witness understood me
12 perfectly. He meant combatants lived in their houses and not in the
13 barracks, and he understood me and I see no reason for the interruption.
14 JUDGE AGIUS: I agree with you. I agree entirely with you because
15 he uses the word "combatants" and that's taken to be fighters so that's
16 what the witness must have been referring to, so let's try to interrupt as
17 little as we can, please, and move ahead.
18 Yes, Ms. Vidovic. You were about to put another question, a new
19 question, to the witness. I'm sorry for the interruption, Ms. Vidovic.
20 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
21 JUDGE AGIUS: Your microphone, please.
22 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation]
23 Q. So combatants could not prevent thousands of starving civilians to
24 join them because those people sometimes were without food for days and
25 they couldn't stop them from joining them?
1 A. Absolutely so.
2 Q. The police could not have done that, nor anyone else, could they?
3 A. When there were operations to find food, everyone was trying to
4 get food. That was the only opportunity to get some.
5 Q. You went to the area of Bjelovac around the 14th or the 15th of
6 December 1992, as you stated yesterday. You also stated that you were
7 unable to enter those villages because the shelling started. In other
8 words, those villages of Loznica Rijeka Bjelovac, Loznica, and Sase were
9 shelled at that time; is that correct?
10 A. Yes. I got as far as the village of Podloznik. That was a Muslim
11 village that was in the free territory of Srebrenica.
12 Q. Mr. Omerovic --
13 A. I didn't reach the villages because the shells already began
14 landing and one could hear the planes shortly afterwards.
15 Q. Mr. Omerovic, could you help us out here? How far is Podloznik
16 from Bjelovac and Sase, and Loznica Rijeka, in your estimate?
17 A. It must be at least four to five kilometres.
18 Q. Thank you. The area was shelled by the Serbs, was it not?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. And still even though there was shelling, lots of civilians went
21 there, including women and children, and there were lines a few kilometres
23 A. It was a long, uninterrupted column of the elderly, women,
24 children who were as young as ten, and it was already December. It was
25 winter. There was no food, and everyone went down there, irrespective of
1 the shooting but I didn't dare.
2 Q. These were desperate people, ready to kill for food, ready to kill
3 each other poor food, weren't they?
4 A. Yes, yes, precisely so.
5 Q. When describing the situation in Srebrenica in late 1992, and
6 early 1993, in your previous testimony, I will quote paragraph 34 of your
7 statement, you remember that you signed this statement. I will quote
8 paragraph 34 and you said, "Every day it was said that Srebrenica was
9 going to fall. I did not address anybody about the lack of work in the
10 period from October 1992 to May 1993. It was on account of the terrible
11 humanitarian situation and that nothing was working in Srebrenica. The
12 surrounding villages were falling under Serb control one after the other.
13 The refugees had filled the whole of Srebrenica. The working of the court
14 was not a priority at that time. The town was dying and it was not
15 possible to pay attention to such things."
16 Mr. Omerovic, does what you said here reflect the real reasons for
17 the complete impossibility of the work of the court and the impossibility
18 of any kind of productive work at the time?
19 A. In that situation, nothing could function properly. No organs,
20 nothing, could function. The situation was desperate. It was disastrous.
21 Q. Thank you. Apart from the daily struggle to survive, people
22 weren't interested in anything else?
23 A. We were interested only in how to survive. Everything else was
25 Q. The authorities in Srebrenica were not functioning for this
1 reason, and not because someone in Srebrenica did not want the government
2 authorities to function properly, am I right?
3 A. Yes, you're quite right. Under such conditions, it's impossible
4 to secure the normal functioning of government bodies.
5 Q. Even so, the War Presidency tried to set up some kind of court?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Zulfo Tursunovic himself wanted that, didn't he?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. In your testimony yesterday, you described a person who you said
10 was the military police commander. In your previous statement, when you
11 mentioned the military police, I will quote paragraph 59 of your
12 statement, you said the following: "Its composition, level of equipment
13 necessary knowledge, education level of the staff, did not allow them to
14 run a procedure or to submit a report. I do not think they did anything
15 regarding public security. That job was done by the civilian police."
16 And in connection with this, I will ask you the following: In practice,
17 in Srebrenica at that time, it was thought that it was the job of the
18 civilian police to initiate proceedings against perpetrators of
19 misdemeanours and crimes or anything to do with public security; is this
21 A. Yes, absolutely.
22 Q. Yesterday you told us that the military police had no equipment,
23 that for the most part these people had no weapons?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Mr. Omerovic, weapons had to be at the front lines because of the
1 terrible pressure of the Serb forces throughout this time from the
2 beginning of the war in 1992 until the demilitarisation in 1993. Is this
4 A. Yes. In Srebrenica itself, you couldn't even recognise the police
5 because people had no uniforms, no weapons, and all the uniforms there
6 were kept at the front lines, and the people there changed shifts to
7 defend this area.
8 Q. I will now put some questions to you about demilitarisation.
9 After the demilitarisation, the army existed only formally in Srebrenica,
10 in the Srebrenica area, isn't that correct?
11 A. May I clarify this a little bit?
12 Q. Yes. Thank you.
13 A. Yesterday, one of Their Honours asked me about the competency of
14 the secretariat of defence in every municipality, including that of
15 Srebrenica. I don't know whether I explained this sufficiently, but this
16 municipal organ was there to recruit young people for their regular
17 military service, and after their regular military service was over, this
18 organ continued giving them their wartime assignments. In other words,
19 they kept lists of soldiers who could be called up if there was a war.
20 That was the job of the National Secretariat for Defence. And we had a
21 similar situation. All the surrounding villages had fallen except for
22 Potocari and Sutjeska, and only the centre of Srebrenica was left. All
23 the people who had been defending those villages found themselves in the
24 town of Srebrenica. The demilitarisation took place. Every one was now a
25 civilian. There were no soldiers to be seen. Everybody was equal.
1 However in this period after the demilitarisation, somebody again drew up
2 lists, establishing units. This was the job of the Secretariat for
3 National Defence, and I can assert with full responsibility that all these
4 men were civilians and that none of them were armed, that they were all
5 the same. In the court we had problems because of this. We had a
6 civilian before us and there was a list on which he was listed as a
7 soldier. In my view, this was simply a list to be used should there be an
8 attack on Srebrenica and for no other reason.
9 Q. So when I say that the army existed only in formal terms, am I
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. The army was not allowed to act in the demilitarised zone in any
13 way. That was illegal; is that correct?
14 A. Yes, absolutely.
15 Q. The soldiers of international organisations, primarily UNPROFOR,
16 followed and confiscated weapons and prevented any kind of military
17 activity; is that correct?
18 A. Yes, absolutely, all this time.
19 Q. Therefore, the civilian police was the only police authorised to
20 take measures against perpetrators of crimes?
21 A. Yes, precisely so. After the demilitarisation, real civilian
22 police was set up. I think that uniforms were made for them, they had
23 pistols, they had police insignia, and they really began to do their job
24 professionally. You could see that the situation had normalised and that
25 little by little, regular, normal organs were being established, such as
1 exist in any state.
2 Q. Thank you. And this certainly included the detection of crimes
3 and the discovery of their perpetrators?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. In the chaos that you have described, with the thousands of
6 refugees, of whom no records were kept, in the situation of all-prevailing
7 psychosis, you will agree with me that it was very difficult to get any
8 kind of information?
9 A. Yes, absolutely. It was very difficult for anybody to do any kind
10 of job, very difficult.
11 Q. Thank you. The revulsion people felt towards the Serbs, who
12 represented death to these refugees, was such that to get any kind of
13 information from these people about possible crimes perpetrated against
14 Serbs and their property was almost impossible, am I right?
15 A. Yes, certainly. Those would have been unsuccessful attempts. Had
16 anybody tried under those conditions to do that, they would not have
18 Q. You personally never received information that any crime had been
19 committed against Serbs or their property, apart from those that were
20 dealt with in the regular legal procedure and that's how we know about
21 them, am I correct?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. You have no reason to think that in Srebrenica any kind of crime
24 was committed by its fighters apart from the court cases that you saw?
25 A. I absolutely agree with you. We were completely surrounded,
1 condemned to death either by starvation or by being killed, and the people
2 of Srebrenica had to defend themselves.
3 Q. Thank you. Yesterday you were shown a criminal report against
4 Emir Halilovic. Do you recall that?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Today you were asked by the Prosecutor about criminal reports
7 again. As the president of the court or as a judge, you could not receive
8 criminal reports. It was the public prosecutor who received them?
9 A. Yes. The public security station or the police would submit these
10 reports directly to the public prosecutor.
11 Q. Thank you. A criminal report would reach you only provided the
12 public prosecutor moved you to begin a proceeding?
13 A. Yes, that's correct. That's what was provided for by the law.
14 Q. Thank you. Otherwise, you would never even learn there was a
15 criminal report unless you received a motion to begin an investigation?
16 A. Yes. Only after the public prosecutor submits a motion to start
17 an investigation, then the criminal report is attached to the motion.
18 Q. And the motion to initiate an investigation was submitted only if
19 there was sufficient evidence, prima facie evidence, received by the
21 A. Yes. It was up to the prosecutor make that assessment based on
22 the criminal report and the supporting materials.
23 Q. Thank you.
24 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Would the usher now please show the
25 witness Exhibit P505? We will look at only one page.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, your question, Madam Vidovic?
2 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation]
3 Q. Witness, would you please look at the page with the large number
4 03615757? Your Honour, those are pages 3 and 4 in the English version of
5 document P505. This is an addendum to the report of the 31st of October
6 1995, of the judge of the lower court, Azid [phoen] Akagic, of the 13th of
7 November 1995. Witness, have you found this page?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. In order to save time, I will tell you that this refers to the
10 investigation of a certain crime of murder and the manner of proceeding of
11 the prosecutor. Please look at there and I will quote to you the relevant
12 part which is just -- which is in the lower part of the document and
13 begins with the words, I will quote this part. "After instructions from
14 the Court in Tuzla, the lower court in Srebrenica, in all these cases,
15 declared itself not competent and handed on the cases to the district
16 military court in Tuzla. As of that time, the prosecutor's office of the
17 lower court in Tuzla only registered these cases mentioning that they were
18 to be forwarded to the court in Tuzla. As there were large numbers of
19 these cases, they could not be sent on to the court in Tuzla by computer,
20 especially the sketches and the supporting material, and there were no
21 prerequisites to start investigations. A convenient moment was awaited to
22 forward these cases to the public Prosecutor's office in Tuzla."
23 In connection with this, I will put a question to you. This
24 document shows, does it not, that the lower public prosecutor's office, in
25 cases where it was the district prosecutor's office of the military court
1 in Tuzla that had competence, they only registered these cases, noting
2 that they were to be forwarded to the prosecutor's office in Tuzla. In
3 other words, they only registered the criminal reports in question, is
4 this correct?
5 A. Yes. And this is confirmed by Mrs. Djulzira Akagic. She was only
6 registering these cases and awaiting a convenient moment or rather the
7 possibility of forwarding them on to Tuzla.
8 Q. Yes. Thank you. This document also shows that these cases could
9 not be delivered to Tuzla because of the supporting material which could
10 not be sent by computer?
11 A. Yes, that's correct.
12 Q. Mr. Omerovic, it's correct, is it not, that these cases never
13 reached you because it was the district military court in Tuzla that had
14 jurisdiction, not your court?
15 A. Yes, precisely so, and I don't even know what cases these are.
16 I'm not familiar with them.
17 Q. You will agree with me, then, that the prosecutor could receive
18 reports pertaining to certain crimes that you never heard of, is this
20 A. Yes. And this is also confirmed by this information from the
21 prosecutor. I agree absolutely.
22 Q. Thank you. You can put away this document. We don't need it any
24 Yesterday and today, when speaking about the military police, you
25 said that the equipment and training of the military police, regardless of
1 whom they were subordinate to, were not such that they were able to
2 collect evidence, check information, and submit criminal reports, is this
4 A. This is absolutely correct. There were no professional policemen
5 who had been trained as such and so on.
6 Q. Thank you. Before the demilitarisation, you said that nothing was
7 functioning properly there. The security organ was not functioning
8 properly, is this correct?
9 A. Can you please repeat your question? I wasn't concentrating.
10 Q. When speaking about the functioning or non-functioning of the
11 authorities in Srebrenica before the demilitarisation, you said that
12 nothing was working properly there. This included the security organ. Do
13 you -- are you -- do you know something about that?
14 A. I agree fully. The circumstances were such that nothing could
15 function properly.
16 Q. Thank you.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes.
18 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please. JUDGE AGIUS: Microphone,
19 please, and start again because the interpreters obviously didn't follow
21 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I wish to offer, or
22 rather ask a clarification from the witness because the record states that
23 nothing could function properly, but the witness was actually saying that
24 nothing could have functioned in general, as principle.
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. Under such circumstances,
1 nothing could have functioned.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay.
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] At all.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, Madam Vidovic, and Mr. Omerovic had
5 actually made this point earlier as well.
6 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation]
7 Q. Mr. Omerovic, I wanted to ask you something about military
8 commanders. You mentioned some yesterday. Local military commanders were
9 not educated, were they? These were mainly people chosen by farmers to
10 lead their armed groups and defend their villages; is that correct?
11 A. That was precisely the way of organising and electing commanders.
12 There were not educated or trained. They had no military expertise.
13 These were just regular people who lived in those villages, and amongst
14 themselves the people from the village would choose as commander.
15 Q. So you knew those people, with the exception of Nedzad Bektic and
16 Mr. Dzananovic, who did possess some prior training, others were not
17 people who had any sort of training or education?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Not only in the military sense of the word, but generally
20 speaking, these were people of very low education, am I correct?
21 A. Yes. For the most part, the commanders were exceptionally poorly
23 Q. Some of them literally were illiterate?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. I would kindly ask the usher to put a document before the witness,
1 and this is an excerpt from the law on criminal procedure.
2 This is a chapter headed "Criminal report, Article 1448."
3 Mr. Omerovic, you are probably familiar with this piece of
4 legislation. I would kindly ask you to look at it. I will quote para 1
5 and 3 of Article 148. Para 1 states the following, "It shall be the duty
6 of all state organs, organisations of associated labour and other self
7 managing organisations and communities to report any crimes that are
8 prosecuted ex officio, of which they were informed or of which they
9 learned by any other means." Para 3, "Submitting the report, state
10 organs, organisations of associated labour and other self-managing
11 organisations and communities shall cite any evidence known to them and
12 undertake measures to safeguard any evidence of the crime, any objects
13 with which or with the assistance of which the crime was committed, and
14 any other evidence.
15 Mr. Omerovic, it is correct, is it not, that this article of the
16 law on criminal procedure regulates the duties of all state organs, as
17 well as other organs, to report the criminal offences they have knowledge
18 of, and that they submit evidence that is known to them. In relation to
19 that, simply put, by law a criminal report could have been submitted by
20 any of the aforementioned organs but would you agree with me if I said
21 that in order to submit a criminal report, that that is a separate thing
22 from submitting a report and submitting the evidence corroborating the
24 A. That is correct. All of the aforementioned state organs mentioned
25 in Article 148 are duty bound to submit a criminal report but to secure
1 evidence and the rest that is mentioned is a different thing. Not all of
2 those organs can do such things.
3 Q. In other words, any of the organs could submit a report given they
4 knew of the offence, but in order for them to collect evidence, as
5 prescribed by law, that was something that could be done only by the
6 authorised or competent organs?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. And they needed the minimum equipment and personnel required, the
9 personnel should be trained adequately?
10 A. Yes. The people to do that should have some training in police
12 Q. The formation called the armed forces of Srebrenica prior to the
13 demilitarisation, such people were non-existent among theirs ranks?
14 A. I absolutely agree. And I stated that in my statement given to
15 the investigators.
16 Q. Thank you.
17 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, perhaps this would be a
18 good time for a break, unless it is too early, but I will now move on to
19 another topic.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: It's up to you. If it's more convenient for you to
21 stop here, we'll stop here. That's not going to make a difference. So
22 we'll have a 25 minute break starting from now. Basically we'll start
23 again at 4.00 exactly.
24 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, the latest document I
25 used, could we please assign it a number?
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Certainly, what's the next number, please?
2 THE REGISTRAR: D288, Your Honour.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: So this will become Defence Exhibit D288. Thank
5 --- Recess taken at 3.39 p.m.
6 --- On resuming at 4.09 p.m.
7 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Madam Vidovic.
8 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, could I please ask the
9 usher to put two documents before the witness? These are Prosecutor's
10 exhibits P48, P49, and I would want the witness to see them together and I
11 will, having used those documents, ask for a joint Defence number but for
12 the time being, these are P48 and 49.
13 Q. Document P48 is an alleged document from the headquarters of the
14 armed forces of Srebrenica from the security organ from the 31st of
15 January 1993, attention of Milisav Milovanovic, and P49 is a note in
16 handwriting, also addressed to Milisav Milovanovic. Witness, could you
17 please take a look at the typed document? First and foremost, could you
18 direct your attention to what it states in the upper-right corner? Take a
19 look at the date, that is the 31st of January 1993. Would you agree with
20 me that in the upper right corner, it states, "Court martial Srebrenica to
21 the commission for mediation with the enemy."? Then please take a look at
22 the last sentence of this alleged note. I quote, "He's a person of
23 interest to security but has been examined thoroughly. Therefore, and for
24 the proceedings, he's put at the disposal of the military high court to
25 render the final decision." And in relation to that I wanted to ask you
1 the following: In January and February 1993, and up until the
2 demilitarisation, there was only the misdemeanours court in Srebrenica,
3 and you testified about it, did it not?
4 A. Yes, that is correct. And this court was never set up.
5 Q. So it was discussed during a Presidency session but it was never
6 set up and it never became operational?
7 A. That is correct.
8 Q. Thank you. As far as you know, in Srebrenica, there was no such
9 thing as the commission for mediation with the enemy?
10 A. I am not familiar with the existence of such a commission.
11 Q. Thank you. Could you please look at the other document in
12 handwriting? Please take a look at the part of the document above the
13 stamp. It states, "The opinion and proposal to the higher military
14 court." And concerning that I wanted to ask you the following: There was
15 no higher military court this Srebrenica, was it?
16 A. No it was never set up in Srebrenica.
17 Q. Thank you. What did exist in Tuzla was the district military
19 A. Correct.
20 Q. Generally speaking, within the legal framework of the Republic of
21 Bosnia-Herzegovina, there never used to be a higher military court.
22 Concerning appeals against decisions of the district military court, that
23 was dealt by the Supreme Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina, am I correct?
24 A. You are, and yesterday we saw that in a document. There was an
25 accused who appealed against a decision on detention by the district
1 military court in Tuzla, and he appealed to the Supreme Court of
3 Q. Thank you. In relation to these documents, I have the last
4 question. You never saw these documents. You never received them as a
5 misdemeanour judge in January 1993 or at any other time?
6 A. I never saw these documents. For the first time I was shown the
7 typed-out document yesterday by the Prosecutor, but I did not know of its
8 existence previously.
9 Q. Thank you.
10 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, could we assign a
11 number to these documents that bear the number of P48 and P49? But I
12 would ask for a joint number, of Defence, unless you believe that could
13 cause problems.
14 JUDGE AGIUS: It's not a question of causing problems. I don't
15 see the utility for it. They exist there so you have made reference to
16 the two of them, 48, 49, and the transcript shows that you have made
17 reference to them sort of conjointly, even though I don't think that that
18 is the right word, so I don't -- if you want to produce them as Defence
19 exhibits together, I mean, get a photocopy of that and I will give them a
20 Defence number but I honestly don't see the need for that.
21 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours. It is not
22 necessary, then. We do have a copy. I appreciate your suggestion.
23 Q. I would now ask you something on a different topic. It is
24 correct, Mr. Omerovic, is it not, that the War Presidency of Srebrenica
25 asked for an advice from both Tuzla and Sarajevo in order to know what to
1 do in the given situation when they had no courts at their disposal?
2 A. Yes. In such a grave situation, we asked for an opinion of the
3 Ministry of Justice from Sarajevo, and I can offer further explanation.
4 The War Presidency of Srebrenica was not competent to appoint judges of
5 the basic court. It could only appoint judges to the misdemeanours court.
6 But as for the competencies of appointing judges of the lower court, they
7 had none. That's why we asked for an opinion of the Ministry of Justice
8 from Sarajevo and from Tuzla.
9 Q. Thank you. They also asked for help to establish those courts?
10 A. Yes, we did send such documents to Sarajevo.
11 Q. Thank you. Mr. Omerovic, it is fully certain, is it not, that
12 before the 25th of May 1993, in Srebrenica, no regulations reached the
13 town, at least the regulation that was put into force in 1992 and 1993,
14 that is the laws that were in force in Bosnia-Herzegovina until that
16 A. That is correct. And the documents that did arrive -- arrived
17 through the UN via helicopter flight with the draft of the Vance-Owen Plan
18 and some of the regulation also arrived then because we wanted to be
19 updated on the new legislation. We were completely cut off so we had no
20 idea what regulation should be implemented.
21 Q. Thank you. I would kindly ask the usher to put D209 before the
23 This is a document from the lower court in Srebrenica, number 2/93
24 of the 10th of December 1993. Mr. Omerovic, you saw this document
25 yesterday. It was shown to you by the Prosecutor. Could you please
1 briefly have a look and then I would ask the following: You told us that
2 the basic court, as well as the basic prosecutor's office in Srebrenica
3 was established in 1993?
4 A. That is correct.
5 Q. This document is actually a report that you put together as the
6 president of the court for the year of 1993?
7 A. That is correct. It was forwarded to the district court in Tuzla
8 to advise the president of the situation and our activities.
9 Q. Thank you. I would now quote the relevant part of paragraph 4
10 from the page bearing the ERN number 01840661. There you state, "We are
11 unable to put into -- to conduct expert analysis because there are no
12 people qualified in the territory under the competence of this Court.
13 Also, we cannot assign a Defence counsel to represent perpetrators in
14 cases where representation is required because there are no -- also we are
15 not able to provide --
16 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter apologises.
17 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] -- due to the non-functioning
18 transfer of payments and non-existence of a monetary unit, perpetrators of
19 misdemeanors are sentenced to prison or given reprimands. That is the
20 only way to protect law and in order because before we started operating
21 the situation was chaotic. We received official Gazettes for 1992 and
22 1993 only in November 1993 and they are in incomplete. Currently, we face
23 problems due to the lack of appropriate forms and paper that could be used
24 for typing. The Court building accommodates refugees and the judicial
25 archives have been destroyed."
1 In relation to that I wanted to ask the following: This document
2 is or represents the real situation in which you were supposed to
3 implement laws; is that correct?
4 A. Yes. I'm glad that these documents were found, because without
5 them, my testimony would not be as convincing.
6 Q. Thank you, Mr. Omerovic. Not only did you not have the required
7 experts for expert analyses, you did not even have appropriate forms or
8 paper for typing on?
9 A. That's correct. We even used old pieces of paper which had
10 already been used on one side, and then we used the other side, which was
11 blank. In 1994, in late 1994, the UN civilian police started providing us
12 with a packet of 500 sheets of paper from time to time, and that was when
13 we had the paper we required. Let me say that because of the lack of
14 regulations, in order to illustrate for the Court the difficulties and
15 problems we faced there, because we did not have the amendments to the
16 laws adopted by Bosnia and Herzegovina after the outbreak of the war, we
17 didn't know that some crimes had been abolished, such as illegal
18 appropriation of state-owned property, and we received about 500 criminal
19 reports for this crime which no longer existed. The police continued to
20 submit criminal reports to us.
21 I have tried to explain what it meant for us not to have the
22 required legislation at that point in time.
23 Q. Thank you. Your building was populated by refugees and your court
24 archives were completely destroyed, is this correct?
25 A. Yes. The refugees moved into the building because there was
1 absolutely no where for them to stay. They stayed in all the offices.
2 They occupied all the offices. They turned over the furniture and slept
3 on it. They used our paper, our documents, to burn in fires and to warm
4 themselves. And no one was able to prevent this. There was nothing we
5 could do.
6 Q. Everything you have described happened in late 1992 up until the
7 demilitarisation in 1993; is that correct?
8 A. Yes. This was in this period.
9 Q. The judges appointed to that court in mid-1993, together with you,
10 had no experience as judges. They were unable to consult even the
11 jurisprudence of that court, am I correct?
12 A. Yes, absolutely. We were obliged to appoint the lawyers that were
13 there because we didn't have any others so we didn't have anyone with
14 experience. Of the four judges, I had the most experience.
15 Q. Thank you. Mr. Omerovic, in this period, you did not have the
16 basic conditions for work; is that correct?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Everything you did was symbolic, wasn't it?
19 A. I agree.
20 Q. Trials could not take place?
21 A. We did not have the conditions to hold a trial, because even the
22 investigative proceedings were incomplete. Since we did not have the
23 possibility of expert analyses, we could not appoint Defence counsel, we
24 did not have the conditions for executing long-term prison sentences. We
25 only had a few cells. We didn't have a prison where people could serve
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 prison sentences of several years, longer sentences, for serious crimes
2 such as murder.
3 Q. Thank you. You can put away this exhibit.
4 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Could the witness now be shown
5 document P507? This is a Prosecution exhibit.
6 Q. Mr. Omerovic, you saw this document yesterday. This is a criminal
7 report against Emir Halilovic, number KU14/93, the 28th of July 1993.
8 Please look at the page bearing number 03648894, the part that refers to
9 the attachments, would you please clarify something? Please take a look
10 at what it says here, what is enclosed, and this -- there is a forensic
11 report here about an examination of a corpse. Have you found this?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. It's correct, is it not, that medical report on examining a body
14 is not the same thing as an autopsy in our part of the world, am I right?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. This was only an external examination of the body, am I right in
17 saying that?
18 A. Yes, precisely so. In Srebrenica, we could only externally
19 examine the body. We did not have the personnel who could do anything
20 else. Zdenko Trilaz [phoen] was the medical expert appointed to the court.
22 Q. Thank you for your clarification.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. Thank you, Madam Vidovic, and thank you,
24 Mr. Omerovic, for this explanation. Let's make this clear. I am
25 understanding perfectly well the distinction that you tried to -- to make,
1 so basically what you're referring to is that this would not be an autopsy
2 report or a post-mortem report but it would be what we would call a "levee
3 du corps," correct? In other words, when a body, a dead -- levee du
4 corps. Basically, what I mean is this, that as soon as a person arrives,
5 the body of a dead person has been found, apart from the usual
6 investigators, a doctor, a medical doctor, is called on the scene, and he
7 will look at the body and he will issue a certificate describing the body
8 and on that certificate he will also indicate whether there are external
9 signs of violence to start with and whether the body is dead and how long
10 that body has probably been dead and this sort of thing. This is what you
11 are understanding by what is written supposedly in the B/C/S text; am I
13 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Correct, correct.
14 JUDGE AGIUS: All right.
15 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Correct, Your Honour. This should
16 not be translated as autopsy. This is the reason I asked the witness
17 about it. In our language, an autopsy implies that the body was opened up
18 and that it was examined inside.
19 Q. Am I right, witness?
20 A. Yes, absolutely. An autopsy can determine whether there are
21 internal injuries and what was the exact cause of death.
22 JUDGE AGIUS: So when -- this is where I need the help of the
23 interpreters. I'm going to read the way I know what we have here in
24 B/C/S, and then please translate to me as I go along. [Interpretation]
25 Inspection of the forensic medical finding on an examination of the body
1 of Stojan Krsmanovic.
2 [In English] I think that's clear enough. It should never have
3 appeared as examination of autopsy report of the body of Stojan Krsmanovic
4 because levee du corps is completely -- something ...
5 Anyway, thank you, Madam Vidovic because one would require only
6 the presence of a doctor, who would not necessarily be a pathologist, but
7 for a postmortem you definitely need experienced pathologists, experienced
8 in conducting post-mortem reports. And the report of one is completely
9 different from the report of the other.
10 Yes, Mr. Omerovic, thank you also for explaining this to us.
11 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
12 Q. In connection with the case of Emir Halilovic, Witness, I will ask
13 you the following. The case of Emir Halilovic, who committed the triple
14 murder against citizens of Srebrenica of Serb ethnicity is a specific case
15 because before it was dealt with and before the suspect was arrested and
16 sent to Tuzla, help and assistance was given by UNPROFOR, am I right?
17 A. Yes, certainly. Without the assistance of UNPROFOR he could not
18 have been sent to Tuzla. He could have been arrested and detained in --
19 on the premises of the prison in the court in Srebrenica.
20 Q. Mr. Omerovic, I'll remind you of the first part of my question.
21 It's correct, if you know this of course, that when processing this case,
22 that is finding writing paper, cameras and so on, all this was provided by
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. In other cases, such help was not provided, am I right?
1 A. In all other cases, as far as the court is concerned, we had no
2 help from the UN, the UN civilian police in Srebrenica. Sometimes they
3 may have given such assistance to the public security station but I don't
4 know that. I'm not aware of it. I would just like to add that in early
5 1995, the UN civilian police started visiting the court and inquiring
6 about the cases we were dealing with and asking if we needed assistance,
7 and then who gave us typing paper and also made it possible for us to
8 interview a person who was a victim/witness and the murderer had been
9 arrested and he was in Tuzla, because he had run away from the Srebrenica
10 free zone, he was arrested in Tuzla, and then with the help of UNPROFOR we
11 went to the village where this girl who had been wounded lived and took a
12 statement from her. So those were the instances of assistance we
13 received. The moment we received such assistance, it was easier for us to
14 do our work.
15 Q. Thank you for this clarification. A special problem for you was
16 the problem of defenders, was it not -- of Defence counsel, was it not?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. In Srebrenica, you had no attorneys and none of the lawyers there
19 wanted to act as Defence counsel, is this correct?
20 A. Yes. We were all living in a very small area, two kilometres
21 long, and we saw each other every day. Those who were lawyers were afraid
22 for their lives. They did not want to act in cases of people who were
23 murderers and so on, and according to our law on criminal procedure, the
24 court must have a list of attorneys who can be appointed if the accused
25 does not have Defence counsel.
1 Q. Thank you. I will ask you the following about this. There was no
2 way you could take any measures against a lawyer who refused to act as
3 Defence counsel. There was no way you could punish him?
4 A. No, of course we couldn't.
5 Q. You delivered to Tuzla several pieces of information and several
6 letters drawing attention to this problem, didn't you?
7 A. Yes, that's correct. I felt that the job we were doing was a
8 highly responsible one, that it was regulated by law, and nothing should
9 be done in proceedings against an accused that was contrary to the law. I
10 tried to ensure legality to the best of my ability. I sent letters to the
11 Court in Tuzla and to the ministry in Sarajevo, drawing their attention to
12 our problems, the fact that we didn't have the legislation, that we didn't
13 have Defence counsel, and so on. And we could not complete a single trial
14 because of all these problems. And then we would have to do things again.
15 Q. Thank you.
16 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Would the usher now please show the
17 witness another document? This is an excerpt from the law on criminal
18 procedure, Article 67, prescribing the conditions for Defence counsel.
19 Q. Witness, while you are waiting for this document, to save time I
20 will quote. "If there are not enough attorneys at law in the seat of the
21 court, the president of the court shall, at the request of the accused
22 person or a person under paragraph 3 herein, permit the appointment of a
23 law graduate who is capable of providing the accused with help in his
24 defence." In this connection, I will ask you the following, Mr. Mr.
25 Omerovic: It's correct, is it not, that this law on criminal procedure
1 was adopted as republican law of Bosnia-Herzegovina?
2 A. Yes, by a decree law enacted by the Presidency of
3 Bosnia-Herzegovina, this became the law of the state of
5 Q. Thank you. So only a lawyer, a law graduate or, rather -- no,
6 only an attorney --
7 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's apology.
8 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation]
9 Q. Only an attorney at law could be a Defence counsel but if an
10 attorney at law wasn't available, it could be a law graduate. You never
11 received any information that this provision had been amended to say that
12 someone who was not a law graduate could act as Defence counsel?
13 A. No. We never received any such provision.
14 Q. And did you ever hear after this -- did you ever know that
15 somebody who was not a graduate -- a law graduate defend -- act as defence
16 council for anyone in legal proceedings?
17 A. I never heard of this. This seems abnormal to me because a person
18 who is not a law graduate, who doesn't have the expert knowledge or
19 qualifications, how can such a person provide legal assistance to an
21 Q. Thank you, Mr. Omerovic.
22 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Can this document be assigned a
24 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. This document will become Defence Exhibit
1 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation]
2 Q. Mr. Omerovic, you were unable to overcome the issue of the two
3 phases or two instances within the same proceedings provided a person in
4 detention in Srebrenica appealed against a decision because it had to be
5 forwarded to the court in Tuzla or to Sarajevo in case the Supreme Court
6 had to decide about the issue?
7 A. Yes, absolutely. We had to forward the complete file, together
8 with the appeal, and we had no such ability.
9 Q. Thank you. In addition to that, you had the problem of not
10 being -- not having subject-matter jurisdiction?
11 A. Yes. That is correct. And I demanded an explanation in order to
12 solve that problem in all of the reports.
13 Q. Thank you. Mrs. Akagic, who was the district Prosecutor tried to
14 bridge such gap by trying to define competence in her documents?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. At the beginning of 1994, by the Ministry of Justice decision, the
17 basic Prosecutor's office in Srebrenica received competences that usually
18 belonged to the Prosecutor's office of higher instance in Tuzla and the
19 basic court in Tuzla -- in Srebrenica never expanded its competence in
20 relation to the instances of higher military courts?
21 A. You are right, and there is a logical explanation. In order to
22 try against the most serious offences and where sentences include
23 significant number of imprisonment, the ministry decided that such
24 competences should not be left to the basic court in Srebrenica.
25 Q. The Prosecutor in Srebrenica was able to undertake certain
1 measures that fell within the competence of the district military
2 prosecutor's office, provided they reported the prosecutor in Tuzla?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. The transfer of competences from Tuzla to the basic court in
5 Srebrenica never happened, with the exception of the urgent measures that
6 had to be taken and that only happened on the 6th of February 1995?
7 A. That is correct. I was quite persistent and I kept demanding
8 that, and then we received a document from the president of the district
9 military court authorising us to deal with some of the issues that fell
10 under the competence of the court in Tuzla. Therefore, we could undertake
11 measures including urgent issues, for example, securing traces, exhibits,
12 and evidence.
13 Q. In relation to that, this did not include conducting
14 investigations for earlier offences but only those that happened at that
15 very time?
16 A. Yes. The urgent measures at the moment an offence happened, so
17 just the current situations or incidents.
18 Q. Upon the prosecutor's request, the basic court in Srebrenica did
19 conduct investigations that fell under the competence of the district
20 military court for the contemporaneous offences?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. And then it forwarded those cases to Tuzla?
23 A. Yes.
24 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, a clarification.
25 There is a part of my question missing in the transcript. I asked the
1 witness: "The few cases that you undertook investigations for and that
2 were forwarded to Tuzla, these were criminal offences that took place at
3 that time. This did not include some earlier offences, or offences from
4 earlier periods."
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I understood your question. We only
6 dealt with the offences that occurred at the time when the court was
7 formed, and during the time when a prosecutor would submit a request for
8 criminal investigation and would submit the report. And then we acted on
9 their request.
10 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation]
11 Q. Thank you. Practically speaking, neither the Prosecutor in
12 Srebrenica nor you who were employed with the Court could not legally deal
13 with the cases that fell under the competence of the district military
14 court in Tuzla?
15 A. That is correct and we were fully aware of that.
16 Q. Would you agree that the contributing factor was the slow process
17 on the decisions on custody and the forwarding of persons and the cases
18 that --
19 A. There were objective circumstances. The process was slow. We
20 were unable to forward the documents. We didn't know when the other side
21 would receive it, perhaps a couple of months later, and later on I was
22 even doubtful of whether they received them ever in Tuzla because we had
23 no communication.
24 Q. Thank you. Upon the proposal of the military prosecutor in Tuzla,
25 you would issue a decision on custody for the perpetrator of a particular
1 offence because otherwise you could not detain him?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. But you were not really competent to issue such a decision?
4 A. Yes, because it did not fall under the competences of our court.
5 Q. Then you used the packet radio to forward the material received
6 from Srebrenica to the district military court in Tuzla and then waited
7 for months for the decision of the district military court in Tuzla, and
8 by law you had to serve that decision within 48 hours on the accused?
9 A. Yes. For example, we had a case of triple homicide. Should we
10 release that person in a very limited area such as Srebrenica, any other
11 work done by the court would be senseless. We knew we had no competence
12 but we interpreted the provisions on criminal procedure rather openly and
13 liberally, and we did so in order to prevent further escalation of crime
14 in the area.
15 Q. Thank you. But when you issued decisions via this procedure, it
16 meant serious problems for you because the opinion was formed that the
17 court acted illegally and was trying to pass its own laws?
18 A. Precisely so. I wanted to clarify. When we began working as the
19 basic court and the prosecutor's office, our impression was that all
20 citizens of Srebrenica were civilians because the demilitarisation had
21 occurred before that, but once we would conduct an investigation and
22 decide on detention, a part of those people were returned to the lists of
23 soldiers, so then we had the issue of whether a particular person was a
24 civilian or a soldier. In essence, he was just a regular citizen but he
25 was on the list of soldiers and we were not competent to try, and that was
1 something that occurred a couple of months after we started working.
2 Q. You notified about that the district military court in Tuzla, and
3 you stressed that that was the impression not only with the population of
4 Srebrenica but with some people who held certain positions there?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Because it was illegal work, wasn't it?
7 A. I agree. Having in mind the laws that were in force in
8 Bosnia-Herzegovina at the time, we did act illegally, but from a different
9 standpoint, given the situation in a besieged city in which we had to deal
10 with the problems, this was something we had to do. For example, you have
11 a house burning and you are not a fireman but you do try to salvage what
12 you can.
13 Q. Therefore, you had best intentions in mind, including the
14 authorities in Srebrenica, but nonetheless, you were exposed to certain
15 pressure in order to release some of the detained?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. You reported this to the people that you thought were the command
18 of the 8th Operational Group?
19 A. Yes.
20 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] I would kindly ask the usher to put
21 a document before the witness. This is a document from the command of the
22 8th operations group dated the 22nd of February 1995, signed by Nedzad
23 Bektic. I would kindly ask the witness to take a look at the document.
24 The title is "Urgent Submission of Documents." I will quote the document.
25 It is rather short. It states the following: "In view of the fact that
1 the Srebrenica enclave is completely cut off from the rest of the free
2 territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina and that there is no military court in the
3 area," first of all, before I continue, would you agree that this document
4 was sent to the 2nd Corps of the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina in Tuzla.
5 A. Yes. It is quite clear.
6 Q. "Therefore, they demanded or requested that they urgently submit
7 decisions regarding the following cases, and the names follow. Since
8 there has been mounting pressure on the representatives of the lower court
9 in Srebrenica, particularly from the commander of the independent mountain
10 battalion, senior captain Ejub Golic who even made threats involving
11 physical violence and in view of the fact that the deadlines for detention
12 pursuant to the law on criminal procedure have expired, we once again
13 request urgent submission of the aforementioned decisions since the
14 persons in question are still in detention."
15 In relation to that, Mr. Omerovic, I wanted to ask the following:
16 This document shows, does it not, that the assistant commander for
17 security, as they called him, Mr. Nedzad Bektic from the 8th operational
18 group Srebrenica, reacted receiving received your warning, and informed
19 the 2nd Corps in Tuzla about the issue?
20 A. That is true. I spoke with Mr. Nedzad Bektic. We all knew each
21 other in Srebrenica because this was a very limited area.
22 Q. Thank you. Mr. Bektic therefore did know about the threats made
23 to Mr. Ejub Golic and he notified the 2nd Corps about that?
24 A. Yes, this is clear from the document.
25 Q. And you are familiar with that as well?
1 A. Yes.
2 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, could we assign a
3 number to this document.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, this will become Defence Exhibit D290. Thank
6 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation].
7 Q. Mr. Omerovic, you sent several letters such as the one from the
8 23rd of February 1995 that I showed you just a while ago, and you notified
9 the district military court in Tuzla that you will not take action in case
10 that is fall under the competence of that court in Tuzla because of the
11 reasons we mentioned?
12 A. That is correct. I told them that we will not take any action
13 because we found ourselves in a very poor situation, and I thought that I
14 could be even held criminally liable for abuse of power or illegal
15 implementation of laws once peace is back in the country.
16 Q. Thank you, Mr. Omerovic.
17 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] I would now ask the usher to show
18 the witness another document.
19 Q. This is a lower court in Srebrenica document, number SU 19/95
20 dated 1st April 1995. Witness, could you please take a look at the
21 document? I will quote the last paragraph on the first page as well as
22 the first paragraph on the second page. It states -- but before I begin,
23 this is a document signed or, rather, with your name at the end. Would
24 you agree with me, did you make this document?
25 A. Just a moment.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Usher, can we have the second page also on the ELMO,
2 please? All right.
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This is the first time I am seeing
4 this document since 1995. Some of the documents I did see with the
5 Prosecutor before that, but I needed to refresh my memory on this one.
6 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation].
7 Q. But would you agree with me that you created this document?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Thank you. I will now quote a part of the document. "We are
10 surprised that in the documents we received from your court [the rulings
11 ordering investigation, the ruling ordering detention, and the letter
12 rogatory] there is no mention of our rulings on detention [although they
13 have been forwarded to you]. Not even a negative context [if you believed
14 them to be contrary to the law]. Are we to understand that the district
15 military court in Tuzla has not received our rulings on detention [in
16 these particular cases], or does it mean that your court assumes that the
17 accused [in specific cases] remained in custody according to our rulings
18 for only three days, and that they were free at the time your court passed
19 a ruling on detention?
20 We now have a situation in which several individuals have been
21 detained for three or four months, having received from the competent
22 district military court only one ruling on detention [for 30 days]
23 according to which the detention period shall be reckoned from the moment
24 of arrest. Due to that, we must admit that the pressure being exerted on
25 this Court is justified. However, this Court has no basis in law to
1 either suspend or rule to extend detention. This has put us in a
2 difficult and unenviable position vis-a-vis these particular cases."
3 A brief question on this, Mr. Omerovic. The fact you listed and
4 the facts I quoted, are they correct?
5 A. Yes. I was trying to deal with the problems but given the
6 circumstances of the siege and the inability to communicate, nothing much
7 could be done. But these facts are true.
8 Q. Thank you.
9 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, could we please assign
10 a number to this document?
11 JUDGE AGIUS: So this document will become Defence Exhibit D291.
12 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] I would kindly ask the usher to put
13 D214 before the witness.
14 Q. This is a document issued by the district military court in Tuzla
15 and signed by the president of that court, Mr. Ismet Trumic. Please look
16 at the document. I will quote part of the document to you, starting with
17 the third sentence in the first paragraph: "It is evident that due to
18 objective and in good measure subjective missions by the participants in
19 the proceedings, the -- there is -- or, rather, your court and the
20 district military court and vice versa, there have been some serious
21 delays and our correspondence, decisions, and other documents are reaching
22 you with a one- or two-month delay. The situation is similar with a
23 delivery of your documents to us. This is one of the reasons why your
24 decisions on detentions and criminal reports are received with a delay of
25 as many as three months after the incident itself which means that this
1 period cannot legally be covered by the decision of this Court. In fact,
2 this court cannot adopt a single decision before it has formally received
3 a request to investigate or an indictment for a case. It is clear that
4 the matter of solving cases that concern persons in Srebrenica and that
5 come under the jurisdiction of the district military court cannot be
6 resolved satisfactorily despite the efforts by the lower court in
7 Srebrenica and the district military court in Tuzla."
8 First of all, in connection with this, I will ask you the
9 following, Mr. Omerovic. Do you agree that Mr. Trumic, Mr. Ismet Trumic,
10 the president of the district court, sent you this letter in Srebrenica?
11 A. Yes. I received this letter in Srebrenica.
12 Q. Thank you very much. This document confirms that the district
13 court in Tuzla neither wanted nor was able to issue any decision
14 retroactively covering your decisions on custody whereby people were kept
15 in detention in Srebrenica for months?
16 A. That's correct. The competent court can act only after it has
17 received a motion and the criminal report.
18 Q. Thank you. And therefore, you had to declare yourself not having
19 subject matter jurisdiction, and hand over such cases by packet
20 communications, am I correct?
21 A. Yes. At one point in time, this was the -- our salvation. We
22 could declare ourselves not competent, not having subject matter
23 competence, otherwise we would have been breaking the law.
24 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Would the usher now please show the
25 witness another document?
1 Q. Mr. Omerovic, please look at this document. This is a judgement
2 of the Supreme Court of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, number
3 402/02 of the 17th of April 2002.
4 Mr. Omerovic, I will read to you what it says. "The appeal filed
5 by the deputy cantonal Prosecutor in Tuzla is hereby rejected as unfounded
6 and the verdict of the cantonal court in Tuzla number K110/96 dated on
7 June 28th, 2002 is hereby confirmed." Underneath this it says
8 "justification or statement of reasons," and it is evident that the
9 verdict quoted of the cantonal court in Tuzla acquitted the accused of
10 having committed the crime of murder from Article 36, paragraph 1, of the
11 Criminal Code of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
12 Mr. Omerovic, Ferid Mehmedovic is one of the accused whose case in
13 1994 you forwarded from Srebrenica to the district military court in Tuzla
14 and this is the case which was shown to you in great detail yesterday by
15 the Prosecutor who went through a number of documents with you. Is this
16 that person?
17 A. Yes. This is the same person and the same case.
18 Q. Thank you. Now please look at page 3 of this document, paragraph
19 2, and I will quote the relevant parts to you. It can be seen -- the
20 relevant part of the decision of the Supreme Court of the Federation of
21 Bosnia-Herzegovina, it can be seen from the case file that "statements of
22 the defendant and witnesses in their preliminary proceedings before the
23 basic court in Srebrenica were submitted to the district court in Tuzla on
24 September the 13th 1994 by a teleprinter and that the questioned persons,
25 the investigative judge and the records-taker did not sign the statements.
1 It also arises from the file that original minutes from questioning of the
2 defendant and hearing of the witnesses in the investigation were not
3 found. The defendant Ferid Mehmedovic and witnesses Amir Hogic [phoen]
4 and Fadil Music who were requested at the main hearing, having been
5 presented -- having presented their statements arising from a telegram
6 sent from the basic court in Srebrenica to the district court in Tuzla
7 stated that they had been questioned at the basic court in Srebrenica but
8 that the statements they had given on that occasion were not identical to
9 the statements that were submitted by teleprinter and presented to them."
10 Mr. Omerovic, I will ask you the following about this. The
11 minutes of witness interviews, as well as statements by the accused, were
12 typed out and delivered by packet communications or by teleprinter to
13 Tuzla. This is correct, is it not?
14 A. Yes, precisely so. I can clarify. When interviewing a defendant
15 and witnesses, all the persons present, the investigating judge, the
16 witness, and the court clerk, sign the minutes, and they have to do this.
17 However, we were unable to forward the originals of these documents to
18 Tuzla. All we could do was retype the text, only such a retyped text
19 could be delivered.
20 Q. Thank you. And I will ask you the following about this: In order
21 to be used in court proceedings, they had to be signed by the judge, the
22 court clerk, the accused, or the witness, whoever was being interviewed,
23 and they had to bear the stamp of the court, am I right?
24 A. Yes, absolutely. Otherwise, they would have no legal validity as
25 evidence in the proceedings.
1 Q. Unsigned and unstamped, they could not be used at all in legal
3 A. I am surprised that the court dealing with this was able, on the
4 basis of such evidence and such minutes, to hand down a judgement, really.
5 Q. Mr. Omerovic, maybe I have not shown this to you but would you
6 please look at the first sentence? The Supreme Court of Bosnia and
7 Herzegovina acquitted the accused. Would you have a look and tell me if
8 you agree with what I've just said? Look at the first sentence of the
9 statement of reasons in this judgement. It says, "Pursuant to a judgement
10 of the cantonal court in Tuzla, pursuant to Article 345, item 3 of the law
11 on criminal proceedings, the cantonal court in Tuzla --
12 A. I see now. I see now. This is an appeal by the Prosecutor
13 because he was acquitted by the court of first instance. And this is
14 quite proper because in view of the kind of evidence that we had, this had
15 to happen.
16 Q. Thank you. And I will ask you the following. If the district
17 military prosecutor received such unsigned statements, he could not rely
18 on such statements as evidence, am I correct?
19 A. Yes, absolutely. The persons who worked on this communications
20 system, when they were retyping the text, they could make a mistake,
21 whether intentionally or not. They could fail to type out the entire
22 original text. We had no way of checking this. So these unsigned minutes
23 were not reliable.
24 Q. Thank you very much.
25 Mr. Omerovic, during your testimony yesterday, you were shown six
1 cases falling within the competence of the court in Tuzla which had been
2 forwarded to them by packet communication. If I tell you -- if I put it
3 to you that apart from the case of Ferid Mehmedovic which I have shown you
4 and which has been completed with an acquittal on appeal, no sentence has
5 been passed even after all these years, would you be surprised to hear
7 A. No. In view of the gravity of these crimes and the evidence
8 required, I think there is no way for the trial to be conducted properly
9 and for a sentence to be handed -- for a conviction to be handed down.
10 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Could these be given exhibit
11 numbers, please?
12 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. This will receive number -- Defence Exhibit
14 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation]
15 Q. Mr. Omerovic, I will ask you some more questions about this topic.
16 The district Prosecutor and the district military court in Tuzla
17 were aware that cases falling within their competence in the Srebrenica
18 area could not be dealt with, and that is why they asked the competent
19 state organs of Bosnia and Herzegovina to establish a department of the
20 military court in Srebrenica, am I right?
21 A. Yes, absolutely. They were aware of the problems and on their
22 part, they wanted to solve this problem by establishing a department of
23 the court in Srebrenica.
24 Q. Thank you.
25 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Would the usher now please show the
1 witness another document?
2 Q. This is a document of the transitional municipal mayor of
3 Srebrenica municipality, Mr. Fahrudin Salihovic and it's dated the 24th of
4 March, 1995. It is unsigned but would you please look at the document?
5 And it is addressed to the district military court in Tuzla. As the
6 document is not long, I will quote it in full. It says here, "the Tuzla
7 district military court, and the Tuzla district military prosecutor's
8 office in their letters numbers SU 20/95 of the 16th of January 1995, and
9 number A-11/95 of the 16th of January 1995, requested that we forward the
10 names of persons holing a degree in law so that they can be appointed to
11 the posts of judges and deputy military prosecutor in the Srebrenica
12 department of the military court and the prosecutor's office. Since we
13 received your letters, we have tried in every way to ensure these persons
14 and to find a way to get the Srebrenica department started.
15 Unfortunately, despite our efforts, we are unable to find adequately
16 qualified persons because there are none in the free territory of
17 Srebrenica municipality. We are aware of the situation and the need to
18 establish such a department in Srebrenica, but we cannot set it up for
20 "If you are willing to assist us in this matter, please help us in
21 any way you can. In our view, however, it would be best if our graduate
22 lawyers, who are in Tuzla, could be transferred to Srebrenica. We think
23 that this is the only possible solution at the moment."
24 Mr. Omerovic, in connection with this, I will ask you the
25 following: The correspondence about the establishment of a department of
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 the Tuzla district military court was carried on between the War
2 Presidency of Srebrenica and the Tuzla district military court. It fell
3 within their competence, and this can be seen here, can it not?
4 A. Yes. The transitional municipal council had already been set up
5 as the local parliament, and a transitional mayor had been elected as the
6 executive organ of this legislative organ. At the point in time when this
7 document was sent, it was compiled by the transitional mayor and addressed
8 to the district military court, and it concerned the establishment of a
9 department of the military court.
10 Q. Thank you for correcting me. I thought that it was actually the
11 transitional council that succeeded the War Presidency?
12 A. Precisely so.
13 Q. So the correspondence concerning the establishment of this court,
14 it was the civilian authorities that had the competence to engage in this
15 correspondence; is that correct?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Yesterday, and today, you told us that among the populations of
18 Srebrenica, Bratunac, and the surrounding villages that remained in
19 Srebrenica throughout the war, there were only a few lawyers, including
20 you. The only lawyer in the whole command of the 8th Operative Group was
21 Avdo Majstorovic, is that right?
22 A. Yes. He was assigned there in early 1995 perhaps.
23 Q. Early 935?
24 A. Well, I may be wrong but he was the only law graduate in the
1 Q. Thank you. Before that, Avdo Majstorovic was not in Srebrenica.
2 He was from Bratunac, wasn't he?
3 A. Avdo Majstorovic was from Bratunac municipality. That's where he
4 worked. And during the war, he lived in Konjevic Polje and that's where
5 he was on the free territory of Bratunac municipality.
6 Q. Thank you. And it was there that he performed some sort of duty
7 trying to organise a local government, as far as was possible?
8 A. Yes. He and another graduate lawyer from Bratunac, Dzemail
9 Becirevic. The two of them tried to organise something over there.
10 Q. Thank you. Dzemail Becirevic was in fact the president of the War
11 Presidency of Bratunac, are you aware of that?
12 A. Yes, I am. He performed the duty of president of the War
13 Presidency of Konjevic Polje.
14 Q. Thank you. I will now go back. I won't show the document in
15 order not to waste time, but you remember that today the Prosecutor showed
16 you a document signed by Amir Mehmedovic. Does the nickname Gera mean
17 anything to you?
18 A. Yes. I know who this is about. I know him by his nickname
19 because, as I said, when the Prosecutor asked me, I said I couldn't
20 remember him by his name but you could recall some people by their
21 nicknames. I know who this is.
22 Q. Do you agree that Amir Mehmedovic at the time was in his second
23 year of law school? That's where he was when the war broke out?
24 A. He was certainly not a graduate lawyer, because I knew all of them
25 personally. I didn't know he was the second year student of the law
1 school but I did know for certain that he did not graduate.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Madam Vidovic are you ready --
3 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: This document, the one that has been made use of
5 last, being a letter allegedly sent by Fahrudin Salihovic mayor of the
6 municipality of Srebrenica, it's being tendered, received, and marked as
7 Defence Exhibit D293.
8 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation]
9 Q. In relation to this document, I wanted to ask you the following:
10 It is correct, is it not, that the War Presidency of Srebrenica, at the
11 time, had a real problem. Avdo Majstorovic, Becirevic Dzemail, Esad
12 Nukic, these were the people that were a part of the transitional council
13 and the problem was to find the personnel, people adequate for the
15 A. That is correct. Yesterday I was shown a document by the
16 Prosecutor. I recognised it. That was a reply of the president of the
17 district military court to the transitional municipal prefect, and he said
18 that there were five lawyers in the area of Srebrenica. He listed the
19 five of them, and yesterday I mentioned that they were all tasked with
20 their functions. They occupied positions where there had to have been
21 lawyers, and had they left the positions in the court or in the other
22 bodies were -- would have been left empty.
23 Q. Their request for the transfer of Srebrenica lawyers to be
24 appointed to the department of the Prosecutor's office of the Court in
25 Tuzla was fully justified?
1 A. Yes. I agree we did not have sufficient number of people to cover
2 all of our needs. It suffices to say that within the police station there
3 was not a single lawyer, and in organisational terms there had to have
4 been at least two or three.
5 Q. A question on a different topic. It is correct, is it not, that
6 formally and legally speaking, Srebrenica was under the competence of the
7 prosecutor's office in Tuzla, as well as the district military court, but
8 only in that respect?
9 A. Yes. In real terms, it was not. We saw here that the court in
10 Tuzla and the prosecutor's office in Tuzla did not have real authority in
11 the territory of Srebrenica because of the situation.
12 Q. In essence, in Srebrenica, itself, there were no military organs
13 that would be capable to detect evidence and perpetrators of criminal
14 offences that fell under the competence of the district military court?
15 A. That's correct, neither such an organ nor an individual existed
16 there at the time.
17 Q. Mr. Omerovic, to clarify a detail, when you were speaking about
18 the police station and when you said that there were no lawyers, you had
19 in mind the station in Srebrenica?
20 A. Yes. The public security station in Srebrenica.
21 Q. Thank you. You are familiar with the fact that there was a decree
22 law during the war about district military courts and in relation to that
23 I wanted to ask the following: First of all, are you familiar with such a
24 decree law?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. That particular decree on district military courts is something
2 you did not receive at least until May 1993, if ever at all during the war
3 in Srebrenica?
4 A. That is correct. Not a single provision or regulation or a
5 decree, we did not receive any of that up there.
6 Q. Do you remember, did you ever receive such a decree during the
8 A. I cannot recall whether it was a part of the group of the
9 regulation which we received from Sarajevo when we received the collection
10 of laws put into force until that moment. But as I stated then, and as I
11 reported to the court in Tuzla, the collection was incomplete. So I
12 cannot say anything with any degree of certainty.
13 Q. But what you can say with certainty is that you did not receive
14 that decree until the demilitarisation?
15 A. That is certain. We did not receive any regulation until the
17 Q. Thank you. Until the demilitarisation of Srebrenica, there was no
18 investigating judge to whom an arrested person could be turned over, am I
20 A. Yes. There was no such a judicial organ.
21 Q. Nor an investigative judge?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Until that time, until the demilitarisation, it was not possible
24 to take a detained person to see the closest and competent prosecutor or
25 judge, which was -- who was in Tuzla?
1 A. There was no such a possibility.
2 Q. After the demilitarisation, practically speaking, neither the
3 military police nor military security or any military officer in
4 Srebrenica had no authority to conduct any investigative task, including
5 detaining or arresting anyone?
6 A. Yes. The only competence was that in possession of the public
7 security station in Srebrenica. That is the civilian police.
8 Q. And that's because Srebrenica was demilitarised?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Thank you.
11 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] I will kindly ask the usher to put
12 another document before the witness.
13 Q. This is an excerpt from the Official Gazette of the Republic of
14 Bosnia-Herzegovina, number 14/94. Could you please take a look at it?
15 There is a decision on the election of the War Presidencies of the
16 assemblies of the municipalities of Srebrenica, Kalinovik and Kupres of
17 the 22nd of June 1994.
18 You mentioned that you attended the sessions of the War
19 Presidency. Could you please take a look at the names listed, or, rather,
20 please take a look at the part referring to the municipality of
21 Srebrenica, under 1, it states, "The War Presidency of the municipal
22 assembly of Srebrenica, questioned and the names are Fahrudin Salihovic as
23 president of the Presidency; Hamdija Fejzic, president of the executive
24 committee of the municipality; Suljo Hasanovic, chief of the department of
25 the Ministry of Defence; Hakija Meholjic, as chief of the public security
1 station; Hajrudin Avdic as president of the SDA of the assemblymen's club,
2 and item 6, Murat Efendic.
3 Do you agree that the name of Naser Oric is not one of the names?
4 A. Absolutely so. This was the period of the demilitarisation.
5 Q. Thank you. So you believe the reason for that was the fact that
6 Srebrenica was demilitarised?
7 A. Yes. I just wanted to add something. The sixth name on the list,
8 that of Murat Efendic. That's a person who was not in Srebrenica but in
9 Sarajevo, so the five people on the list comprised the War Presidency and
10 the sixth member was in Srebrenica -- in Sarajevo.
11 Q. Thank you. So a military representative in Srebrenica could not
12 have been a member of the civilian body?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. He was invited to attend the sessions when there was a need for
15 that, the same as you were invited should the war president find it
16 necessary -- the War Presidency find it necessary?
17 A. I remember perhaps three occasions when we discussed security
18 issues, issues pertaining to public order, and the establishing of the
20 Q. Thank you.
21 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] I could kind kindly ask that this
22 excerpt from the Official Gazette be assigned a number.
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] My apologies. I just wanted to
24 direct your attention to something. On the same page, where there is the
25 mention of the War Presidency of Srebrenica municipality, there are two
1 lawyers that we mentioned previously, Sinanovic Resid, who was the second
2 of the Presidency, as well as Avdo Majstorovic who was the president of
3 the executive committee. Those two people that we mentioned earlier were
4 appointed to the War Presidency of the municipal assembly of Bratunac
5 municipality, and they were in Srebrenica, and these were their functions
6 at the time.
7 Q. Thank you for your clarification.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you, this document will become Defence Exhibit
10 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation].
11 Q. You mentioned some meetings and the prosecutor asked you about
12 some of the sessions that you attended, and you specifically mentioned two
13 sessions of the War Presidency during -- or rather when you gave your
14 statement to the investigators?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. When you were giving that statement, if need be, we can refresh
17 your memory but I believe you mentioned some of that today as well. You
18 said that on one occasion, Naser Oric, in May or June 1994, attended a
19 session of the War Presidency, and then he appeared again in April 1995
20 once. Do you remember that?
21 A. I do remember the occasion that occurred in 1995. He did attend
22 the meeting. That was immediately prior to him leaving the enclave, and
23 we had certain problems concerning the assault on the prison by Ejub Golic
24 when he was trying to release his friend from prison.
25 Q. I will ask questions of you about that.
1 A. That was the meeting when Naser Oric was definitely present, and I
2 believe there was another instance when we discussed the issues of law and
3 order, but it is rather difficult to remember after so many years.
4 Q. In any case, you remember well at least one such meeting where
5 issues of offences as well as detention of the members of the armed forces
6 of Bosnia-Herzegovina were discussed?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. As pertains to Mr. Naser Oric, his view at that time, as in any
9 other time, but you do remember that one situation, so I'm asking you only
10 about that, his view at the time was that he supported both the police and
11 the Court in their attempts to establish order in Srebrenica, am I right?
12 A. Absolutely so. Naser Oric never tried to intervene with the work
13 of the court. I can confirm that, and he even supported us asking that we
14 be persistent in the establishing law and order, and there are the
15 meetings of the sessions in 1995. When we had those significant problems
16 pertaining to law and order, he attended a session and he supported our
17 work, and offered his assistance.
18 Q. Thank you.
19 Mr. Omerovic, that was precisely the reason why Emir Halilovic, in
20 your presence, threatened to him to kill him. You saw Emir Halilovic
21 threatening Oric to kill him, am I correct?
22 A. Yes, that can be seen from the documents. That was on the day
23 when he saw two Serbs, a mother and a son, and the day when he injured
24 Adil Muhic. On that day he came in front of the building. I was in my
25 apartment and I heard someone shouting and cursing in front of the
1 building. I came out on to the balcony and I saw a young lad I didn't
2 know until then. He had a gun in his hand. He was waving it around and
3 he looked drunk and crazed, and he was shouting something along the lines
4 of Naser, come out, he cursed his mother and he was threatening to kill
5 him, and I just went into the building because he could incidentally shoot
6 and a stray bullet could hit the building, and tomorrow I found out that
7 he caused grave injury to Adil Muhic. He hit him with the handle of his
8 gun and he put the gun in his mouth. I even found out that he stopped
9 some other people and mistreated them the same way.
10 Q. Thank you.
11 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, since I'm about to
12 move to a larger document, perhaps this is a good time for a break.
13 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. How much more time do you have, roughly,
14 Ms. Vidovic?
15 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, 20 to 25 minutes at
16 the most.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: We'll have a break then. We'll have a break of 25
18 minutes starting from now, which means five past six.
19 --- Recess taken at 5.40 p.m.
20 --- On resuming at 6.09 p.m.
21 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. Madam Vidovic and Ms. Richardson in
22 particular, please listen to what I have to say.
23 Something urgent and important has arisen which requires my
24 presence elsewhere and which I cannot avoid. I mean, there is no way I
25 can avoid it. I have managed to prolong it until 6.35 which is 20 -- 25
1 minutes from now. If I could, I ask you to try and cut down as much as
2 you can and you eventually to limit your re-examination in a way to make
3 sure that I am out of this courtroom by 6.35, because I have to rush
4 elsewhere. It's not something over which I have control. I'm just needed
5 elsewhere. And these things happen.
6 Yes, Madam Vidovic.
7 MS. RICHARDSON: That's fine.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: We on our part --
9 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour. Thank you,
10 Your Honour.
11 Would the usher please show the witness another document, the last
12 document we shall show the witness this evening?
13 Q. This is a document of the transitional municipal council of
14 Srebrenica dated the 11th of March 1995. Witness, please look at the
15 document. As we are short of time, witness, would you right away look at
16 the third paragraph of the document? I will quote it to you. "After an
17 analysis of several hours, we have all unanimously concluded that the
18 political and security situation in the enclave is very difficult due to a
19 number of factors. And one of the factors leading to the deterioration of
20 the situation is the incidents caused by Ejub Ganic and in order to
21 overcome this situation, a number of conclusions have been made, including
22 the following. Full support was given to our commander of the 28th
23 division, Brigadier Naser Oric. A decision was adopted to arrest and
24 bring into custody at the municipal prison Nezir Merdzic and Sadik Begic,
25 which has already been done," and so on.
1 Mr. Omerovic, you attended this meeting where Mr. Oric was
2 present. It's correct, is it not, that on that occasion, Oric gave his
3 absolute support to the standpoint that Golic should be transferred to
4 Tuzla and there handed over to the relevant authorities. Is this correct?
5 A. Yes, this is correct.
6 Q. He was aware that he would thus be causing dissatisfaction and
7 division in a part of what remained as the armed forces and this was
8 discussed, was it not?
9 A. Yes. This was also discussed. The taking of Ejub Golic to Tuzla
10 was discussed because Naser had to do this personally.
11 Q. So Naser had to do it personally and that is why the decision was
12 made at this meeting that he, as the commander, should be given full
13 support, am I right?
14 A. Yes, you are.
15 Q. And finally, Golic, together with Oric, was transferred to Tuzla
16 by helicopter and there he was handed over to the corps and the
17 appropriate authorities, am I right?
18 A. Yes, he was transferred to Tuzla by helicopter so that he could be
19 tried there and proceedings initiated against him and so that he could be
20 handed over to the competent authorities.
21 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, may this document be
22 given an exhibit number?
23 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. This will become Defence Exhibit D295.
24 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation]
25 Q. Witness, I will put only a few more very brief questions to you.
1 Today you were asked by the Prosecutor about Naser Oric's physical
2 appearance. What you recall with certainty is that Naser Oric had a
4 A. Yes. Naser Oric had a beard.
5 Q. You cannot assert that you ever saw him clean-shaven. Did I
6 understand you correctly? Not at any time -- I apologise, I'm referring
7 only to the period of the war. So during the war period, from July 1992
8 until he left Srebrenica.
9 A. I cannot assert this with certainty. I think that in this latter
10 period before he left Srebrenica, he didn't always have a beard, but I
11 can't be 100 per cent sure. I really don't remember.
12 Q. In other words, you allow for this possibility that, in the latter
13 period, just before he left Srebrenica. But up to the demilitarisation in
14 1992 and 1993, do you remember ever seeing him without a beard?
15 A. No, I don't.
16 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours. I have cut
17 short my questions. I have no further questions. Thank you.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: We really appreciate that. And I knew I could count
19 on your cooperation before I entered the courtroom, and I anticipate now
20 that Ms. Richardson would not take advantage of the lot of time that
21 remains to her.
22 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you, Your Honour.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Ms. Richardson.
24 Re-examined by Ms. Richardson:
25 MS. RICHARDSON:
1 Q. Mr. Omerovic, you testified previously that you are from
2 Bratunac. You're not originally from Srebrenica, is that correct?
3 A. Yes. I was born in Srebrenica, but I lived my whole life in
4 Bratunac. My family moved to Bratunac when I was 40 days old and I lived
5 in Bratunac until the war broke out.
6 Q. You weren't familiar with all of the individuals in Srebrenica
7 when you returned in July of 1992 to 1993? You didn't know everyone?
8 A. No, I didn't.
9 Q. And with respect to the document that I showed you yesterday where
10 it listed military police and you indicated that you knew at least three
11 of them, you didn't know the others, correct?
12 A. No, I didn't know them. At least not by name. I couldn't
13 recognise the names of the others. I did know these three because later
14 on, they were members of the civilian police, and they often came to the
15 court to bring us criminal reports or bring in suspects. So later on,
16 they were civilian policemen and that's how I got to know them. I didn't
17 know them while they were in the military police.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Ms. Vidovic.
19 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I apologise for taking
20 up time but I don't see how this question follows from the
21 cross-examination. I did not deal with this at all.
22 JUDGE AGIUS: In fact, it doesn't follow and it's a question that
23 was asked or was relied to by the witness already.
24 MS. RICHARDSON: I'm trying to establish base on the
25 cross-examination of Madam Vidovic that -- in fact that there were no
1 professional policemen in Srebrenica at the time so that's --
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Go ahead.
3 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you.
4 Q. In addition to the three individuals, you stated that you knew
5 Dzanan Dzananovic and you worked with him; is that correct?
6 A. You mispronounced the last name.
7 Q. I apologise. If you're familiar with that individual could you
8 just tell us the name?
9 A. I cannot recall -- could you just jog my memory or read it again?
10 I don't --.
11 Q. I will try my best to pronounce it correctly. Dzanan Dzananovic.
12 He's the individual that's listed on P507 and he was involved in the
13 investigation, the criminal report for Emir Halilovic, and it's spelled,
14 perhaps this will help, D-Z-A-N-A-N, D-Z-A-N-A-N-O-V-I-C.
15 A. Dzananovic.
16 Q. Thank you. You're familiar with that individual?
17 A. Yes, I am, yes.
18 Q. And with his work as a police officer?
19 A. He worked quite correctly and professionally as a policeman while
20 he was in the civilian police. That's when I knew him, after the
21 demilitarisation. I did not know him before the demilitarisation so I
22 cannot say anything about his previous work. Later on, he was responsible
23 and professional worker.
24 Q. Thank you. Did you attend any of the military police meetings?
25 A. No.
1 Q. And yesterday I also showed you a page of that same document where
2 it was indicated that a theft had occurred. Were you involved in that
4 A. No. I think that what you showed me was an official note by a
5 military policeman saying that there had been a theft - this was in
6 1992 - and that the police had discovered the perpetrator. There were no
7 criminal proceedings against this person, nor was a criminal report later
8 filed with the court.
9 Q. And you're not aware during that period of time, or you were not
10 involved with any investigations by the military police, correct?
11 A. Yesterday was the first time I had seen that document. It was a
12 handwritten official note which somebody jotted down in 1992, probably
13 working in the military police. I had never seen it before.
14 Q. Thank you. Now with respect to the actions that you testified to,
15 you were not in the military, were you, Mr. Omerovic?
16 A. I -- at the outset, in the village, I had gone to, a village guard
17 was organised and then, together with all the other men, I stood guard.
18 Q. Let me stop you. I'm referring only to Srebrenica, nothing more.
19 Were you -- did you attend any meeting involving the planning of actions
20 in Srebrenica where the military was present? Or I should say members of
21 the military?
22 A. I did not attend any meeting where any actions were planned.
23 Q. And during the time that you testified that you went to look for
24 food, did any of the combatants prevent you from taking food or anything
25 else on that day?
1 A. I was in a long column of civilians. I set out on my own. Nobody
2 told me to go. I had no food for myself and my family, and I went on my
3 own initiative together with some other persons from the building in which
4 I resided.
5 Q. Mr. Omerovic, if you could --
6 JUDGE AGIUS: You're not answering the question.
7 MS. RICHARDSON: I'm trying to get Mr. Omerovic to answer the
9 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes.
10 MR. JONES: Your Honour this witness hasn't said that in the -- on
11 that occasion that he took any food. So the notion that he should have --
12 that someone should have prevented him from taking something which he
13 never took is an erroneous assumption.
14 JUDGE AGIUS: I understood that he took. That's what I
15 understood, that he went there because he had to, he had to feed his
17 MR. JONES: That was a separate occasion but he hasn't testified
18 that he actually took anything.
19 JUDGE AGIUS: That's what I figured out. Anyway, he can clarify
20 that. And please, the question is, the substance of the question is the
21 following: In this quest for food that you undertook joining the others,
22 were you ever stopped or impeded by the fighters, by the combatants, from
23 taking food? This is the question that you need to answer.
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I never even reached the place where
25 the food was. I turned back four or five kilometres before that place
1 because the bombing and shelling had started and I was afraid, in fear of
2 my life, so I went back. I didn't take anything.
3 MS. RICHARDSON: Thank you, I'll move on to the next question.
4 Q. You were asked on cross-examination and shown a document, P48,
5 where there was an indication of a summary court martial instituted in
6 Srebrenica. My question is respect to this court. Did you attend all of
7 the War Presidency meetings?
8 JUDGE AGIUS: He's already told us, he attended at most three.
9 MS. RICHARDSON: Well my follow-up question then to the witness --
10 maybe it's an obvious one and I won't ask it.
11 Q. Now, with respect to this same document, were you involved in any
12 issues related to Serb prisoners, any crimes committed against them?
13 JUDGE AGIUS: You asked this question earlier on today.
14 MS. RICHARDSON: Your Honour, it is a follow-up from the document
15 that was used.
16 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. What you asked him is whether he received any
17 reports, actually.
18 MS. RICHARDSON: So this question is whether he was involved in
19 any of the issues related to Serb prisoners.
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I have already explained this as
21 best I could in my testimony so far. At that session of the War
22 Presidency to which I was invited for the establishment of a military
23 court martial, this decision was not even made. It was someone's
24 erroneous interpretation. This was an extended session. No such decision
25 had been prepared and, looking at the minutes, it is certain that no
1 decision was made to establish a military court martial. It was never
2 established, it never operated.
3 MS. RICHARDSON:
4 Q. Mr. Omerovic, I'm not referring to the meeting you attended. I
5 think you testified about that sufficiently. But my question to you is:
6 Did you attend other meetings?
7 A. Well, I explained all the meetings I attended.
8 Q. And --
9 JUDGE AGIUS: Finish -- he's answered your question.
10 MS. RICHARDSON: Your Honour, I'll move on to the next question.
11 I don't believe the witness answered about whether or not he was involved
12 in any issues related to the Serb prisoners.
13 JUDGE AGIUS: I think he told us already that he has answered that
14 question. And he said what he had -- all that he had to say.
15 MS. RICHARDSON: That's fine, Your Honour.
16 Q. You testified as well about an incident involving Emir Halilovic
17 where he was threatening Naser Oric. If you could just answer request a
18 yes or no because I am out of time. Could you tell me if you're aware if
19 Naser Oric was in the building at the time that this occurred?
20 A. I think at that point in time, Naser was in the building, in his
21 flat, but I didn't see him from the balcony.
22 Q. Did you see him go into the building?
23 A. I didn't see him.
24 Q. That's that's -- that was high question, thank you.
25 MS. RICHARDSON: Your Honour, I don't have any more questions.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay, thank you.
2 We don't have any further questions for you, Mr. Omerovic.
3 I wish to thank you, first of all, Madam Vidovic and
4 Ms. Richardson for being practical and enabling us to finish now.
5 Basically this means that you are free to go back to your country. On
6 behalf of my two colleagues, Judge Brydensholt and Judge Eser, I should
7 like to thank you, sir, for coming over and giving testimony in this case.
8 You'll receive all the assistance that's necessary to facilitate your
9 journey back home and on behalf of everyone present here I should like to
10 wish you a safe journey back home.
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I am glad if I have managed to
12 explain the situation to you and the way we worked, and if I have been of
13 assistance in your difficult decision. Thank you.
14 JUDGE AGIUS: I can assure you up been. Thank you.
15 Tomorrow we will have the next witness starting at 2.15, I think
16 in this same courtroom, and then there is going to be a meeting which you
17 are aware of on Tuesday during the second break in my Chamber, all right?
18 MR. JONES: Yes. I understand the Prosecution had an
20 MS. SELLERS: I thank you Defence counsel, not for reminding me.
21 I didn't know whether to pre-empt the five minutes or else -- since we
22 have informed the Defence counsel that the Prosecution will not be calling
23 the witness Sanarac that's scheduled next week for the first and the
24 second. I did want to make the Trial Chamber aware that we've already
25 conveyed the information to Defence counsel.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. I prefer to concentrate on this tomorrow
2 because now I have switched over --
3 MS. SELLERS: That's what I was thinking.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: -- switched over to the other matter that I have to
5 attend to and I wouldn't like to switch back to this now. We'll deal with
6 it tomorrow. Thank you.
7 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 6.31 p.m., to
8 be reconvened on Friday, the 27th day of May, 2005,
9 at 2.15 p.m.