1 Thursday, 25 August 2005
2 [Open session]
3 --- Upon commencing at 9.05 a.m.
4 [The accused entered court]
5 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Madam Registrar, could you call the case,
7 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning, Your Honours. This is case number
8 IT-03-68-T, the Prosecutor versus Naser Oric.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, Madam, and good morning to you.
10 Mr. Oric can you follow the proceedings in your mother tongue?
11 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Good morning, Your Honours. Yes. I
12 can follow the proceedings in my mother tongue.
13 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you and good morning to you.
14 Appearances for the Prosecution?
15 MR. WUBBEN: Good morning, Your Honours and also good morning to
16 my learned friends of the Defence. My name is Jan Wubben, lead counsel
17 for the Prosecution. I'm here together with co-counsel, Mr. Gramsci di
18 Fazio, Ms. Joanne Richardson and our case manager, Ms. Donnica
20 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, Mr. Wubben and good morning to you and
21 your team. Appearances for Naser Oric?
22 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Good morning, Your Honours. Good
23 morning to my colleagues from the Prosecution. I am Vasvija Vidovic,
24 together with Mr. John Jones we are representing Mr. Naser Oric and we
25 have Ms. Jasmina Cosic, our legal assistant, and our CaseMap manager
1 Mr. Geoff Roberts.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. Good morning to you and your team.
3 Now, we have a problem. And we have to find a solution,
4 basically. For reasons beyond our control, today we will need to stop
5 before 1.00 to enable one of us to attend to a serious family problem. I
6 know that this could in the end mean we would not be able to finish with
7 this witness today. It should not be a problem because Judge Brydensholt
8 and myself are prepared to continue with this witness tomorrow, just the
9 two of us, and Judge Eser is -- agrees with this as well and this is what
10 I would suggest that we do, if we don't finish today. I mean obviously.
11 However, irrespective of whether we finish with this witness today or not,
12 Judge Eser will be back or should be back for Monday's sitting and having
13 discussed it a little bit with him and also with Judge Brydensholt, my
14 preference, and it is basically also our preference, is that we don't
15 start with the next witness in the absence of Judge Eser. I would rather
16 have Judge Eser here from the beginning of the next witness rather than
17 halfway through. So if we finish with Madam Hotic today, then tomorrow we
18 are not going to sit. If we don't finish with Madam Hotic today we will
19 sit, Judge Brydensholt and myself, tomorrow until we finish with Madam
20 Hotic. We won't start with the next witness tomorrow and we will start
21 with the next witness on Monday. This is the position.
22 Any comments?
23 MR. WUBBEN: No, Your Honour.
24 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] No, Your Honour.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: I'm sorry, this -- but believe me, there is no other
1 way we can handle the matter, and we are trying to handle it in the best
2 way possible. Yes, any preliminaries before we bring in the witness?
3 MR. WUBBEN: No, Your Honour.
4 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] No, Your Honour.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. Bring in Ms. Hotic. Does it cause you an
6 inconvenience? Because I see there was a little bit of discussion on --
7 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, what we are discussing
8 is that another witness is coming and we calculated the time so that we
9 would finish with these witnesses before the break on the 1st and 2nd so
10 now we are talking about how to resolve this and we will do our best to
11 find a solution. It's not a problem. But I think that the witness is
12 already on his way and it can happen that the witness stays here for a
13 couple of days longer than was planned, but this suits us and we will have
14 a couple of days longer for preparations and that's how we will resolve
16 JUDGE AGIUS: I appreciate that, Madam Vidovic, and you will find
17 the Trial Chamber very cooperative with you should you have -- should you
18 encounter problems obviously.
19 Same applies to you. I know this may disrupt your plans a little
20 bit to a lesser extent. I agree.
21 Yes, Madam Usher, please.
22 [The witness entered court]
23 WITNESS: KADA HOTIC [Resumed]
24 [Witness answered through interpreter]
25 JUDGE AGIUS: Good morning, Madam Hotic.
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good morning.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Welcome back. You will not need to repeat the
3 solemn declaration. It still applies once you have made it yesterday. We
4 will be proceeding with the examination-in-chief and then later on you
5 will be cross-examined by Mr. Di Fazio.
6 I forgot to tell you yesterday who we are, our names. I'm the
7 Presiding Judge in this trial and my name is Carmel Agius and I come from
8 Malta. Not the Malta which is near where you live but the island in the
9 Mediterranean. Judge Brydensholt is -- comes from the Kingdom of Denmark.
10 And Judge Professor Eser comes from Germany.
11 Yes, Mr. Jones.
12 MR. JONES: Thank you, Your Honour.
13 Examined by Mr. Jones [Continued]:
14 MR. JONES:
15 Q. Good morning, Ms. Hotic. I hope you're well rested.
16 A. Good morning, yes, thank you.
17 Q. I have some documents to show you this morning and we will start
18 immediately with one which is a new document so we have copies to be
19 distributed by the usher. Thank you. And this is for the record the ERN
20 number is 04350699. That's the first -- the first ERN number of the first
21 page and it's a document from the command of the first Zvornik Light
22 Infantry Brigade, report number 17 and it's dated either the 14th or the
23 17th of March 1993.
24 Now, Ms. Hotic, I'll ask you to take your time to review this
25 document and then I'm going to direct your attention to a couple of
1 sections. First it's right, isn't it, that I showed you this document
2 when you came to The Hague?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. All right. I'll direct your attention to first of all the first
5 paragraph of this document and it's starting from basically the third
6 sentence down. In English it says, "We occupied the
7 Lalici-Sandici-Kravica line and established contact with our left-hand
8 adjacent unit the Bratunac Brigade." We can -- just in passing we can see
9 Lalici, Sandici, and Kravica on the map, D714. I'm not going to go to the
10 map now. And then the fifth sentence, "The enemy has completely routed
11 Srpska, Kravica which has always been ours is again in our hands.
12 Successful operations of this kind by our brigade also give powerful
13 impetus to adjacent units." And then I'm moving down to the next session,
14 the heading of which is "unwelcome effects which mar the aforementioned
15 achievements." And just for the record I'm going to read the first two
16 sentences there, or three sentences. "Simultaneously with the successes
17 and advances of our units there have also been unwanted occurrences and a
18 stop must be put to them once and for all. Looting of anything found in
19 the seized territory is rampant, cattle, television sets, video recorders,
20 cassette players, different types of motor vehicles have been taken away.
21 In short anything from a needle to a tractor is being taken away. These
22 occurrences create a bad image of Serbian soldiers and onlookers get the
23 impression that the Serbs are not fighting for freedom and survival but
24 are rather looting hordes that take away and destroy everything in their
1 Now, my question for you in relation to this document is the
2 following: Firstly, when you were in Kravica on the 7th of January 1993,
3 did you see Muslim civilians removing television sets, video recorders and
4 other electrical items?
5 A. When I was in Kravica, people were taking food and perhaps if
6 somebody found any clothing they took that as well because that was
7 useful. There was a shortage of that, too. Other items, furniture and so
8 on, that was completely unnecessary. It was worthless, nobody was taking
9 that home. Even if they took something like that home, they had no
10 electricity to plug in these appliances. But as far as people are
11 concerned, if a person was hungry then it would be completely illogical
12 [Realtime transcript read in error "logical"] for them to start taking
13 anything else other than food. It didn't happen.
14 Q. One correction to the transcript. Did you say "completely
15 logical" or "completely illogical"?
16 A. Illogical.
17 Q. Now, you lived through the winter of 1993 in Srebrenica. Can you
18 tell us if there was much snow in that winter?
19 A. Yes. There was a lot of snow.
20 Q. And can you tell us roughly until when in 1993 there was snow,
21 January, February, March, April, how late did it last?
22 A. There was snow in April as well, and there was also a lot of
24 Q. Now, on the 7th of January 1993, did you see any houses in the
25 Kravica area missing their roofs and thereby exposing the insides of the
1 houses to the elements?
2 A. Where, in which settlement? Houses in Kravica or in Srebrenica?
3 Q. Kravica.
4 A. While I was in Kravica, all the houses were intact, and I --
5 afterwards I didn't stay there for a long time. I don't know how long
6 they stayed intact and whether they remained intact.
7 Q. Ask for an exhibit number for this document, please.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: This will become Defence Exhibit D717. 718? 718.
9 Thank you.
10 Do we have by any chance -- I'm asking both parties, do we have a
11 bird's eye view of -- photo of Kravica?
12 MR. JONES: I don't think for our part we've ever produced such a
14 JUDGE AGIUS: I don't recall having seen one.
15 MR. WUBBEN: Neither do I, Your Honour.
16 [Trial Chamber and legal officer confer]
17 [Trial Chamber confers]
18 JUDGE AGIUS: My apologies to you, Mr. Jones.
19 Can you describe Kravica to us? Is it a small village, a small
20 town? A hamlet? How big is it?
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Kravica is a village of maybe about
22 30 to 40 houses. I'm not quite sure. If there are any hamlets that are
23 part of the village, then they would be further up in the hills and I
24 never went there so I really don't know what they looked like. The houses
25 are scattered so there are gardens or fields between the houses. The
1 houses are quite big. They are just normal houses that people live in.
2 There are newer houses, older houses and so on.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: And are you aware of any particular communal
4 buildings like the municipal building, the SUP or the town hall or the
5 hospital or the school, if there is a hospital, I don't know, in this
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I don't think that Kravica had
8 anything like that. Perhaps it had the building where the local commune
9 was but this belonged to the Bratunac municipality.
10 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Jones.
11 Thank you, Madam Hotic.
12 MR. JONES:
13 Q. Now the next document, Ms. Hotic I'd ask you to look at is a
14 document of the 1st Bratunac light Infantry Brigade. With the assistance
15 of one of the ushers, thank you.
16 And it's dated 1st of April 1993, and the ERN number is 01319119.
17 Since this is a short document I'm going to read what it says.
18 It's an authorisation "issued to Zika Milovanovic, driver, approving the
19 transport of goods to the vulnerable fighters of the Kravica battalion
20 from Kravica to the Avdagina Njive of Daka's field sector and after the
21 commission has completed the allocation of goods the distribution of these
22 goods to fighters' families in Bratunac and its vicinity."
23 Now, firstly, Ms. Hotic, have you heard of Avdagina Njive? Do you
24 know of the locality?
25 A. I heard of Avdagina Njive but I'm not sure if this is from
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 Bratunac towards Zuti Most. I might make a mistake there. I don't know
2 the exact location of Avdagina Njive but I did hear of that place.
3 Q. I simply want to ask you this: Seeing this document, and this
4 authorisation from April 1993 approving the transport of goods from
5 Kravica, does that strike you as odd or is that consistent with what
6 you've told us and what you saw in Kravica, namely that houses remained
7 intact presumably with goods inside them?
8 A. Items, furniture, and appliances, that stayed because I'm sure
9 that nobody took that. I'm talking about Muslims when they went on
10 excursions to Kravica. Nobody took articles like that with them.
11 MR. DI FAZIO: If Your Honours please, unless there is something
12 that's missing in the English translation, I don't see anything that
13 identifies what these goods are.
14 MR. JONES: No. The point --
15 MR. DI FAZIO: Sorry.
16 MR. JONES: I simply referred to goods.
17 MR. DI FAZIO: Yes, yes, and that's all it says as far as I can
18 see in the English translation. What these goods are could be rounds of
19 cheers, tyres.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: They could be anything, I mean.
21 MR. DI FAZIO: Hammocks.
22 MR. JONES: Yes, the point is not in the nature of the goods. The
23 point is, as my question alluded to, that houses remained intact and
24 therefore the goods could be transported in April from Kravica. But I
25 think -- I think that point has been sufficiently addressed and I'd simply
1 ask for an exhibit number.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: That will be become Defence Exhibit D719.
3 MR. JONES: Thank you, Your Honour.
4 Q. The next document we have is from the 1st Bratunac Light Infantry
5 Brigade Command dated 22nd of July 1993 and the ERN number of the first
6 page is 04359425.
7 Firstly, Ms. Hotic, do you recall me showing this document to you
8 when you came to The Hague?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. It's a lengthy document and since you've seen it already I won't
11 ask you to read the whole of it again now. I direct your attention
12 firstly just to what's page 2 in English a list of names. Actually it
13 starts on the first page in the B/C/S. Are you familiar with any of the
14 names of the people listed there? In fact, if I may be permitted to lead
15 I don't think it's a crucial point. Stoja Savic, do you know Stoja Savic?
16 A. I know Stoja Savic, also by the nickname Tandara. That's what we
17 called her. She lived in the Rudarska building across the street from the
18 SUP. She had a very pretty daughter. Her husband died before the war. I
19 know Stoja Savic well. The other people here, I had heard of them but I'm
20 not sure whether I know any of them.
21 Q. Did you, during the war -- afterwards, did you see a broadcast
22 with Stoja Savic?
23 A. Yes. There was a television programme. I don't know exactly what
24 time this was. This was when the food convoy set out for Srebrenica.
25 Stoja came out wearing black on to the Bratunac road. She stood in front
1 of the convoy and she laid down in front of the convoy, cursing and
2 swearing, and using derogatory terms about Muslims, calling them balijas
3 because they had killed her only son and she was not allowing the food
4 convoy to enter Srebrenica. I note that Stoja never had a son. She only
5 had one daughter and the daughter's name was Lepa.
6 Q. Thank you. I'm now going to direct your attention to what's page
7 3 in the English and it's three paragraphs which actually starts at the
8 bottom of page 2 in B/C/S. You'll see, Ms. Hotic, where it's written,
9 [B/C/S spoken], that paragraph at the bottom. And I'll just for the
10 record read those paragraphs. "Families are systematically moving into
11 and returning to Fakovici. For this reason the Commission for Refugees
12 works in the field in Fakovici every Thursday attempting to get as many
13 families as possible to return to Fakovici. In Kravica preparations are
14 under way to renovate houses by collecting material. In the first stage
15 efforts being made to cover the buildings, to protect them from further
16 damage, and when the repairs to the electricity network currently under
17 way are completed, work will start to make these buildings habitable. It
18 is expected that 20 families will return to their homes in Kravica by the
20 And then it's the next paragraph in particular which I'm going to
21 ask you about. "When gathering construction materials several actions
22 were observed that are not in the interests of the community. Roofs were
23 removed from houses which could have been occupied, joinery and plumbing
24 were ripped up and floors were destroyed. Because of this we would appeal
25 to soldiers and the citizens of Kravica, Bjelovac, and Pobrdje to stop
1 this practice, and in cooperation with the commission take this material
2 from damaged houses that had been scheduled for demolition." Do you see,
3 follow that passage, Ms. Hotic?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. I just have a few questions. Firstly, perhaps an obvious point,
6 but this is a document of the 1st Bratunac light Infantry Brigade. It's
7 referring to citizens -- soldiers and citizens of Kravica, Bjelovac, and
8 Pobrdje. Would this be referring to Serbs or Muslims?
9 A. Of course they address the Serbs. The -- because the Muslims were
10 not there.
11 Q. In other words --
12 A. It applied only to Serbs. Their own people.
13 Q. So in other words this reference to roofs being removed, plumbing
14 being ripped up, and floors destroyed by soldiers and citizens of Kravica,
15 Bjelovac, and Pobrdje refers to Serbs?
16 A. Of course.
17 MR. JONES: I'd ask for an exhibit number for this document,
19 JUDGE AGIUS: So this document will become Defence Exhibit D720.
20 MR. JONES:
21 Q. Now after the action in Kravica, did the situation in Srebrenica
22 improve or get worse or remain the same? The situation in terms of food
23 and the refugee situation.
24 A. In terms of food, yes, but it did not last very long, and in terms
25 of refugees, the situation remained the same. There were too many people
1 and too little accommodation and everything else was lacking.
2 Q. I would ask if the witness could be shown D581, please.
3 And again, I'm just going to read a couple of sections. It's
4 dated 10th of January 1993. It's a report of the War Presidency of
5 Srebrenica. It says, "Aircraft again flew over and attacked the very
6 centre of the town of Srebrenica. There were two sorties, one at 1515
7 hours and the other at 1520 hours. One of the aircraft dropped its deadly
8 cargo. Two people were killed as a result and a few others were wounded.
9 The material damage is huge."
10 Now, pausing there, did you see in Srebrenica the damage caused to
11 buildings by Serb aircraft?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Would you agree with that description that the damage caused by
14 such aircraft was huge?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Now, going on to the second paragraph, "Yesterday and this morning
17 the enemy was ferociously shelling the entire area of Srebrenica. Over
18 200 shells of the biggest calibre hit the industrial zone in Potocari
19 alone. Three persons were slightly wounded, but the damage to the
20 industrial facilities is enormous." Again I'm concerned with the amount
21 of damage to property caused by these attacks.
22 Would you agree that the damage caused by Serb shelling could be
24 A. Of course it was enormous. Not a single house in Potocari was
25 spared. Houses were totally destroyed and the industrial area was totally
1 destroyed, the roofs were taken off, basically, and you could see
2 everything was ravaged, and I can only wonder how it was possible for
3 anyone to stay alive.
4 Q. Thank you. Then the third paragraph, "The aggressors opened fire
5 at Osat [phoen] and Kragljivoda from their well-known strongholds in
6 Serbia, the slopes of Mount Tara and the plateau of the Bajina Basta
7 hydroelectric plant." Now, yesterday in the reference in the transcript
8 was page 43 line 14, you referred to Tara as a stronghold. Is that the
9 same reference? Is that the same place you were referring to?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. And are you also familiar with any firing or shooting from the
12 area of Bajina Basta?
13 A. Across the Drina, whether it was from Bajina Basta or closer,
14 there were tanks there and other artillery weaponry.
15 Q. Now, finally, I would like the witness to be shown D571, please.
16 This is a document of the War Presidency of Srebrenica
17 municipality dated 11th of March 1993, and I'll give you a moment briefly
18 to review that document.
19 Now, in particular what I would like to direct you to is the
20 second paragraph where it refers to thousands of women, children and the
21 wounded arriving in Srebrenica from all sides. Do you recall that
22 occurring in mid-March, refugees arriving, and if so, do you know where
23 they were coming from?
24 A. Yes. I remember the refugees very clearly. The refugees in those
25 last villages, they too had to leave and come to Srebrenica, Osmace,
1 Biljega, Osat, Klatuvac [phoen], all those villages. It was only in
2 Suceska that was still held by Zulfo Tursan that they could stay because
3 it was still in Muslim hands and all the other villages, as of the river
4 of Drina and all the way to Srebrenica -- I mean they were so close, they
5 were a stone's throw from Srebrenica, and they were already occupied and
6 all the people were sent off to Srebrenica and quite a few people were
7 killed and wounded and there were all sorts of things there. And
8 Srebrenica was plagued by hunger any way and people had nowhere to go and
9 so it was a disastrous situation.
10 Q. In that situation, do you recall whether people were suffering
11 from fleas, lice, or scabies or similar ailments?
12 A. At that time, due to a lack of hygiene, many people having to
13 sleep and spend time together, at close quarters, of course, lice and
14 scabies appeared, and all that is very catching, and we did have problems
15 with that. There were fleas, too. There was nothing we could do about
16 the fleas. They jumped every which way. And there were other diseases as
17 well. It was horrific.
18 Q. So in March 1993, if you saw an emaciated, flea-bitten, tired
19 person seemingly unable to walk, was that anything out of the unusual?
20 Sorry, anything out of the usual?
21 A. That was our daily bread and butter, unfortunately. We all looked
22 like that. We were all emaciated and we were all weak, and were all the
23 same. And I used to say that we didn't even know whether we were men or
24 women. People lost all their characteristics, all their other features,
25 except for this unending quest for food and the fight for survival. And
1 at that time when we were subjected to horrific attacks from the enemy, we
2 were in such fear that we didn't even feel like eating. I remember that
3 some powdered milk was air lifted to us. And I was in Stari Grad and I
4 basically stepped over a sack of milk powder but I could not even make
5 myself take it because I expected to die any minute. And the news
6 trickled through that one of our people heard on his Motorola that
7 General Perisic from Serbia is ordering 13.000 soldiers to attack
8 Srebrenica and make sure that not a single baby in its cradle remains
9 alive. And it put such a fear into all of us that we could not even think
10 of eating.
11 Q. And did that situation have an effect on the mental health of the
12 population, the mental state, if you were able to notice?
13 A. Yes, yes.
14 Q. Would you say that there were more or less or the same number of
15 mentally unstable people in Srebrenica at that time, March 1993?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Sorry, my question was unclear. I meant --
18 A. Yes, there were quite a few people who acted and abnormally, as it
19 were. I never actually pondered whether it was due to the situation or
20 simply due to the fact that many people were packed together but you could
21 see people wandering the streets and they acted abnormally, total
22 abnormally, almost like lunatics. Out of control, they were talking
23 gibberish, that kind of thing.
24 MR. JONES: Would Your Honour give me a moment, please?
25 MR. JONES: Thank you, I have no further questions for you,
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 Ms. Hotic but there will be questions from the other side.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, Mr. Jones. Mr. Di Fazio, the break
3 will be in an hour's time at 10.45. There will be half an hour's break
4 and then we will sit again from 11.15 until 12.55.
5 MR. DI FAZIO: Thank you for that, if Your Honours please.
6 Cross-examined by Mr. Di Fazio:
7 MR. DI FAZIO:
8 Q. Madam Hotic, my name is Di Fazio. I am from the Prosecution. I
9 have some questions to ask you and, like Mr. Jones, I would appreciate it
10 if you would keep your answers as brief as possible. A simple yes or a no
11 will always suffice, and if I require further information, then I'll go
12 ahead and ask you. Do you understand that?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Just one or two matters that arose from your evidence this
15 morning. Just the very last point that -- one of the last points that was
16 raised by Mr. Jones regarding the lice and fleas and scabies that were a
17 problem and probably endemic in Srebrenica. Mr. Jones put a scenario to
18 you as to whether or not it was a common sight to see people covered in
19 those parasites who were, unable to walk. So not just covered in
20 parasites but unable to walk. Did you see that very commonly?
21 JUDGE AGIUS: It was also combined with the word emaciated.
22 MR. DI FAZIO:
23 Q. Yes, and emaciated.
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. So were the streets of Srebrenica covered with people lying in the
1 roads, unable to walk and covered in scabies and lice?
2 MR. JONES: I'm sorry, Your Honour, that's an unfair
3 characterisation of her answer to make it appear as if it was a ridiculous
4 answer. She was asked if she saw it commonly and she said "yes". That
5 doesn't mean the streets were littered with people who were unable to walk
6 and were covered in --
7 JUDGE AGIUS: That's true. Perhaps now why she's -- she has heard
8 the exchange between you and she can give us a clearer picture.
9 MR. DI FAZIO:
10 Q. So how often would you see it every day? How often?
11 A. I often came across women affected by scabies but it doesn't mean
12 that they were lying on the streets and totally unable to walk. They were
13 starved, they were exhausted, plus they were plagued by these scabies so
14 they had to scratch all the time. But it wasn't as if they were lying in
15 the streets.
16 Q. Yes. I understand that and thank you for that. Did you yourself
17 suffer from any of these problems? Or any members of your family, for
18 example, your husband or your sons?
19 A. The only problem I could not really fight off was the fleas but
20 since I was staying at my own flat and I did not really have to live in
21 close quarters with too many other people I could defend myself from
22 everything else. I did not have any scabies or lice but we did have fleas
23 as well because there was just nothing we could do about them.
24 Q. When you were suffering and your family members were suffering
25 from this infestation of fleas or these problems with fleas, were you able
1 to nonetheless try and carry on with your life and do the best you could
2 in the circumstances, go out and gather food, speak to people, walk
3 around, that sort of thing?
4 A. Yes of course. I had to walk. I had to work. No matter how
5 exhausted I was and how difficult it was but it was the only thing we
6 could do in order to survive.
7 Q. Thank you. You also mentioned recently in your evidence, just
8 moments ago, the use of a Motorola to inform you of Serb plans for some
9 dastardly act, some bad act. What I'm interested in is not the Serb plans
10 but who you heard this from and who had the Motorola.
11 A. I can't tell you exactly the name of the person that I heard it
12 from but the news spread like wild fire through Srebrenica, about this
13 general, some general called Perisic who was supposed to have issued such
14 orders. But Motorola could have belonged to some former police officer,
15 just the same as they had a couple of rifles. Those who used to be active
16 police officers on duty before.
17 Q. But you specifically connected the hearing this news with --
18 through a mechanism of a Motorola. Obviously it must have stuck in your
19 mind because otherwise you wouldn't have mentioned it. You would simply
20 have mentioned what you had heard. So what is significant about the
21 Motorola? How did you come to recall that particular detail, the use of
22 the Motorola to convey this information to you?
23 A. Had there not been for that Motorola nobody would have been able
24 to capture that information because if you had no device, you could do
1 Q. Okay. So you don't know who owned the Motorola and you don't know
2 precisely when this Motorola was used to gather this information that was
3 later told to the population?
4 A. If I may, I could perhaps clarify this a little bit. Motorola
5 might have been captured in some kind of action. But it did exist at the
6 time. I don't know exactly who had it.
7 Q. All right. One thing is absolutely clear. The Motorola was
8 linked to the dissemination of this news in Srebrenica. It was the
9 Motorola, that device, the radio device, that enabled the news to be heard
10 and then conveyed to the people of Srebrenica, correct?
11 A. As to whether this was a piece of news that was being spread on
12 purpose or whether it was just a leak like many others, I don't know,
13 because you could just not keep any secrets at that time. Everything came
14 out sooner or later.
15 Q. All right. Thank you very much.
16 Okay. Now, I'd like to turn to your evidence that you gave
17 yesterday and I'd just like to start off by asking you some questions
18 about the shelling that you've described and you've described it at length
19 throughout your evidence. You mentioned yesterday that there was
20 artillery in Pribicevac a nearby hamlet or village to Srebrenica. In the
21 course of your testimony you also mentioned mortars being located there?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. At Pribicevac and you told us all about that episode with the man,
24 Drago. Do you remember that?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. What I would like to be absolutely clear about is this: Are you
2 saying --
3 A. I remember that very clearly because that was my first contact
4 with war, with fear, the first event of that nature. I remember Drago
5 Andric from Pribicevac quite clearly. I spent a night in his house and I
6 heard from him that a mortar was set up at Trkalija [phoen] and then they
7 felt it was not the best solution and they were going to take it to
8 Vakluvski [phoen] and they wanted to pound the Green Berets in Srebrenica
9 from there.
10 Q. Thank you for all of that. I heard your evidence yesterday as
11 well and you clearly have a good memory of the matter.
12 Now, what I want to know is this: The episode that you described
13 with Drago involved just a mortar. Is that correct? Do I understand you
14 correctly? The episode when --
15 A. Yes, yes. It was a mortar at the time.
16 Q. Okay. Later you mentioned that there was artillery or it was
17 suggested to you and I think you agreed with that, that there was
18 artillery in Pribicevac. What I would like to know is this: Did you only
19 ever see a mortar or mortars in Pribicevac or did you also see heavier
20 guns, heavier artillery?
21 A. Later on, I didn't actually see but we were being fired at and
22 they were using heavier artillery from that area that we could see from
23 the marketplace at Srebrenica in the direction of Pribicevac. It was from
24 there that they were firing and using other artillery weapons and there
25 were some kind of PAM and PAT bullets, that's what they are called, and
1 they came as far as the Srebrenica market.
2 Q. So you could see through a cut in the trees, some sort of path or
3 cut in the trees in the hillsides. You could see that -- through that
4 clearing, so to speak, up to Pribicevac; is that correct? Do I understand
5 you correctly?
6 A. You don't need to see that clearly but you see a passage, a clear
7 passage through the woods. The wood was cleared in an area which was a
8 square area and from there you could hear the noise, the rumbling noise
9 when they fired their weapons, and then of course you could see the
10 explosions down in the town and then you could have a clear picture of
11 what had happened.
12 Q. Don't let us be in any doubt, Ms. -- Madam -- Mrs. Hotic. I
13 understand you perfectly. I understand what you're saying. What I'm
14 concerned about is this: Could you actually see the guns that were
15 firing? Could you see them with your own eyes?
16 A. With the naked eye, it is impossible to see a gun in its entirety
17 as such but when it is fired, you can see a kind of lightning and of
18 course you hear the explosion, but from that distance, it is impossible to
19 discern a gun.
20 Q. Right.
21 A. You could have seen a tank and sometimes you could see a
22 reflection in the sun, and normally when they were in action, they would
23 be brought forward and then when they finished their ammunition they would
24 withdraw a little bit, and that could have been seen easily from other
25 places as well.
1 Q. The fact of the matter is, isn't it, that emplacement of guns in a
2 place such as Pribicevac changed from time to time, the nature of the gun
3 that might be there in that location changed, it might be a tank or a
4 mortar or artillery, some days or weeks they might be there and other
5 times they might not, correct?
6 A. There was something every day.
7 Q. And you don't actually know if the guns, judging on the flashes of
8 light that you saw, were actually located in Pribicevac or some area away
9 from Pribicevac, would that be correct? All you can say is that it came
10 from the general direction of Pribicevac?
11 A. From Pribicevac, well, there was some kind of weaponry on the same
12 spot, whether it was guns or tanks, but it was always in the same wood
13 clearing that could be seen from Srebrenica. Always the same spot.
14 Q. What was in the same spot? Actual guns, metal structures that --
15 A. I don't know. Supposedly -- I suppose it must have been an
16 important position for them that they had prepared, and they always used
17 to fire from that position. It didn't have to be a mortar at all times.
18 They had mortars in the beginning and presumably they proved to be
19 inefficient or something, or they just got to reinforcements, but we were
20 being pounded by these other weapons that I've mentioned before.
21 Q. Mrs. Hotic, I'm not in the slightest trying to suggest to you that
22 you weren't -- were not, were not being bombed, okay? I'm not trying to
23 suggest that or get you to say that. My concern is only this: The
24 location of weaponry in Pribicevac was something that you couldn't
25 actually see, you don't actually know if the weaponry was located in
1 Pribicevac or somewhere nearby or somewhere perhaps further afield from
2 Pribicevac. All you can say is a that there was firing coming from that
3 direction and that's based on your sighting of flashes. That's my
5 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Jones.
6 MR. JONES: Well that question has already been put. Mr. Hotic
7 [sic] is basically -- is insisting on this submission, that the witness
8 couldn't see it. She's answered that she could see the clearing, she
9 could see the flashes on the clearing, so to simply keep insisting that --
10 that she couldn't see what shes told us she saw is not a question. It's
12 JUDGE AGIUS: She has -- I think the objection is a valid one. I
13 would suggest to you, Mr. Di Fazio, that you either move to a different
14 question or that, if you are -- you think that there is further
15 clarification that is required from the witness, you put a different
16 question from the one that you have put. Because to me she has actually
17 made it clear where she had doubts, she said she had doubts; where she was
18 clear enough, she said so.
19 MR. DI FAZIO: Yes.
20 Q. Was there firing from the direction of Pribicevac or this clearing
21 every day of 1992, from the time the war started, of course?
22 A. Yes. From the direction of Pribicevac.
23 Q. And you could see the flashes -- yes. And you could see the
24 flashes every time there was firing, every time --
25 A. If I was looking, if I was in a position to watch. Sometimes I
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 could just listen to the explosions. Because I was not in some kind of
2 position where I could observe what was going on because I had to seek
3 shelter as well, and it was not just from Pribicevac but from all the
4 other areas that we were being fired upon. For example, from Bratunac,
5 from Zvijezda, I was on my way to Potocari to get milk from people who had
6 milk, and I saw clearly when a gun fired and the shell landed right in
7 front of us and two girls were wounded. But that was on those occasions
8 where I was in a position to see things, when I was heading in the
9 direction of the place from where they were firing and at the right time
10 because I wasn't always there.
11 Q. Well, let's turn to another location of shelling. You say that
12 you went to Sase and that was in the autumn following its liberation,
13 autumn of 1992. Had you been there, to that -- to Sase, in that area,
14 prior to your going there, that is from April to the late autumn?
15 A. The first time that Sase was free, when the Serbs were no longer
16 there, I went there and I said yesterday that that was when I saw a lot of
17 shells, I saw a lot of cartridges of different sizes.
18 Q. Yes. We will get to those cartridges in just a moment, if you
19 don't mind, but I would just like to remind you of your evidence. You
20 were asked by Mr. Jones how you knew if the artillery was coming from Sase
21 into Srebrenica and you said because shells were landing from that
22 direction, and he asked you how do you know that. And you replied "on
23 the basis of my sense of orientation. I know where that is and we could
24 see the shells coming from that direction." Then you went on to
25 say, "Obviously because Serbs were holding those positions that was quite
1 clear, and it was clear that they were shelling us from Sase or from other
2 surrounding villages or locations where they could place their weapons."
3 So in the case of Sase you concluded that shelling was coming from
4 Sase on the basis of the fact that it seemed to be coming from the
5 direction of Sase and there were Serb positions there. That's it, isn't
7 A. Yes, of course, because there were no Muslims in those places and
8 there was nobody else who could shoot. It was the Serbs who were shooting
9 at us and the direction from which they were shooting was Sase, Zalazje
10 and some other nearby places. Later it turned out that this was actually
11 so. That's the conclusion that everybody came to, all the people that I
12 was with.
13 Q. That's right, but the conclusion is based on the general direction
14 from which the shells came and the fact that Serbs held those positions,
15 isn't it?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. In any event, you don't actually know if the shells were coming
18 from Sase or Lasovac or Bjelovac or some position over in -- across the
19 Drina in Serbia, do you, when you say that there was shelling from Sase.
20 It was just that shelling came from that general direction, from Serb
21 positions in that general direction, and that's what your conclusions are
22 based upon. That's all I'm suggesting to you.
23 A. If I may respond, sometimes shooting was heard or sounds were
24 heard when the shells were being fired, and that could not have come from
25 across the Drina because it was too far away. You could hear them -- the
1 sound as they were firing the shells.
2 Q. Would you agree with me that all you could say was that shelling
3 was coming from the Bosnian side of the Drina, from Serb held positions,
4 somewhere in the area of Sase? Would you agree with that? That's as far
5 as you can really say. That's as far as you can really go.
6 A. It's true that we were shelled from Sase and the reason is that --
7 I saw that for myself when I saw all of those piles of cartridges in Sase,
8 that they had fired at us. So when I said that, I saw later that it was
9 true, that they were firing at us from Sase and also from Zalazje.
10 Q. So there are three factors that make you think that shelling was
11 coming from Sase, the fact that it came, the shells came from that
12 direction, the fact that they were Serb-held positions there, and the fact
13 that months later you went there and saw shells. Those three things make
14 you conclude that there was shelling from Sase, correct?
15 A. I have no doubt about that. That is the truth.
16 Q. If I suggested to you that all you can really say is that shelling
17 occurred from the general direction of Sase, and that's really only -- the
18 only conclusion you can draw, would you agree with me?
19 A. No. That would not be the only conclusion. I specified that
20 later I could see for myself that there was no doubt that we were being
21 shelled from Sase, from various artillery weapons, and I could see that on
22 the basis of the shells that I saw, the cartridges that I saw there in
23 Sase when I was there.
24 Q. I understand. I understand. I'm not suggesting to you that --
25 I'm not suggesting to you, please don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting
1 to you that there was never any shelling from Sase. I'm not trying to get
2 you to say that. All I'm asking you is this: When you were in Srebrenica
3 and you're being bombed, and the shells are coming from that direction,
4 you don't actually know if the shells were being fired in Sase or some
5 other location four or five kilometres away or two kilometres away or
6 three kilometres away from Sase. That's what I'm asking you. Did you
7 understand? Now, if you insist that it was Sase, fine. But what I'm
8 putting to you is that you can't actually say that.
9 A. When we were exposed to the shelling from that direction, I need
10 not have known the exact place. But afterwards, when I went to those
11 places and whether I saw where we were being shelled from, that's when I
12 was convinced of that. That's the truth.
13 JUDGE AGIUS: So as I take it, her conclusion was strengthened
14 after she saw -- and I think we have --
15 MR. DI FAZIO: That's how I take it.
16 JUDGE AGIUS: But I want to make it even a little bit more clear.
17 Let's imagine, Madam Hotic, that we draw a line as the crow flies
18 from Srebrenica to Sase and beyond, and beyond it would be practically
19 Biljaca in the same direction and Bjelovac is in the same direction. If
20 you drew a line -- or Sikiric is in the same direction. If you drew a
21 line, a straight line, from Srebrenica which passes through Sase and goes
22 right to the Drina River, Sase is not visible with the naked eye from
23 Srebrenica, is it? You can't see Sase from Srebrenica.
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] That's correct. You cannot.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: So any -- any mortars or any missiles that are
1 arriving on Srebrenica from the direction of Sase could be fired from
2 before Sase, from Sase, and from beyond Sase, and you wouldn't be able to
3 know exactly whether -- where they are coming from except that they are
4 coming from that direction.
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
6 JUDGE AGIUS: Then of course you eventually went to Sase and you
7 saw all these cartridges, spent cartridges, and that reinforced your
8 conclusion that you had been bombed from Sase.
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
10 JUDGE AGIUS: I think we are clear. Let's pass to something
11 different now. Unless you want to labour it any further.
12 MR. DI FAZIO: Yes, I do there is just one matter.
13 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, go ahead.
14 MR. DI FAZIO:
15 Q. His Honour has taken you to the next topic you raised it yourself.
16 The shells, the casings that you found or saw in Sase. Where in Sase did
17 you see them?
18 A. I don't know how to answer that. It was out in the open at an
19 elevation. I don't know how to explain that exactly.
20 Q. Okay. I'm not -- I don't --
21 A. The cartridges were not only in one place. There were several
22 locations where there were piles of these casings, but that these piles
23 were close to one another. They were perhaps a few metres apart, and the
24 cartridges were of different sizes.
25 Q. Big ones, and small ones, big casings and small casings?
1 A. Yes.
2 MR. JONES: Actually, for the record, if we could have an
3 indication of what we estimate the largest of those gestures was.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: Is it necessary, Mr. Jones? Come on.
5 MR. JONES: It looked like a metre or so to me.
6 MR. DI FAZIO: They were big ones, great big casings.
7 JUDGE AGIUS: At my home in Malta, I have got Second World War
8 ones, I have a collection of them. They all vary in size. At the end of
9 the day, I mean, that's --
10 MR. DI FAZIO:
11 Q. And, of course, you don't actually know when those piles of
12 casings accumulated this those locations, do you? You just saw them
14 A. I don't know how they happened to be there.
15 Q. All right. Thank you. If we just move away from the -- from that
16 topic, I want to ask you something about the shelling of Srebrenica. The
17 shelling continued from May until at least April 1993. Would that be
19 A. Yes, yes.
20 Q. Following the demilitarisation of the Srebrenica enclave, and in
21 the period of time leading up to the tragedy of 1995, was there more
23 A. Yes. I think in May, perhaps I'm wrong about that but I know the
24 weather was warm. In front of the school, people were relaxed, there was
25 no shooting any more, the demilitarisation was in effect, there were no
1 more soldiers, there were no more fighters. The weapons were taken away,
2 confiscated. People were sitting around and they were playing some sports
3 games. There were teams. I don't know whether they were playing football
4 or handball at the playground in front of the school. Since the school
5 was full of refugees with as many as 40 or 50 people sleeping in those
6 rooms, even up to 100 people, but the atmosphere was relaxed and suddenly
7 in the middle of the day, two shells hit that crowd of people. There were
8 70 or 80 dead. Those that were wounded and taken to the hospital later,
9 90 much them died and there were 200 people wounded. I ran out after the
10 explosion. I was right there. And I thought, "My God is it possible that
11 a person could have so much blood?" There were bits of flesh in the fence
12 of the sports playground. There was pieces of brain matter all over the
13 place. People were just loading up those bodies to take them away. And I
14 know that there was information saying that there were 15 people killed,
15 and I felt very sorry about that when I heard that, and I wondered, "Why
16 did they state that number when they knew that many more people were
17 killed?" I saw a little girl, her -- she was maybe four years old. Her
18 body was completely ripped apart. Half of it was missing. I know that
19 she was wearing a plastic sandal on one of her feet. I know that the
20 explosion had shaken up a lot of people. The son of one of my neighbours
21 was -- he had lost consciousness. This is what happened. There was
22 another attack also.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: Let's hear because your question would cover both
24 attacks. This one you have just described in detail to us, you said it
25 occurred in May. Of which year? Because you didn't say.
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This was the first year of the
2 demilitarisation. It was in 1993. I think it happened right away when
3 the observers came, the Canadians were there. Please don't ask me about
4 the dates. I know approximately the time and I know the events but I
5 really don't remember the dates, even now I don't remember. I have to
6 think about what happened yesterday or the day before.
7 MR. DI FAZIO:
8 Q. Madam Hotic thank you for your explanations. Look, I'll just make
9 myself completely clear so that you understand. I'm not trying to get you
10 to avoid the terrible carnage that you witnessed but my question is this:
11 From demilitarisation until 1995, the events in 1995, was Srebrenica
12 shelled continuously or frequently or were these just isolated attacks?
13 No matter what the consequences were. Now, that's what I'm asking you
14 about. How often? How often did it happen between demilitarisation and
16 A. It wasn't frequent in the town itself. It happened in the
17 outskirts. There was some sporadic shelling. Sometimes there were mines,
18 people were injured by mines. But this mostly happened at the
19 elevations --
20 Q. All right.
21 A. -- where the UNPROFOR had their locations. I can also say that
22 about a month before the fall of Srebrenica, there was a fierce attack
23 from the hill behind the hospital, during the night. It was an artillery
24 attack, Zoljas were also used. That's when the apartment above me was
25 damaged by a Zolja projectile and even though people from UNPROFOR were
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 there at the time, nobody retaliated. Two people were killed at the time.
2 Q. Thank you. Now I want to ask you to contrast the period of time
3 between May of 1992, leading up to demilitarisation in 1993. Now, that
4 period of time, you say, don't you, that the situation was quite different
5 in respect of shelling? Then the shelling was far more frequent, far
6 heavier. Would you agree with that?
7 A. Yes. From the start of the war until the demilitarisation, the
8 shelling was intense.
9 Q. Thank you. Now, not only was it intense, but it was all sorts of
10 different types of shelling, wasn't it? That's what I think you've said.
11 You --
12 A. Of course. Of course. In the beginning, we were bombed by MiG
14 Q. All right. Thank you. You're getting to one of the matters I
15 wanted to ask you about, this air attack. You had MiGs bombing
16 Srebrenica. You had Howitzers pounding Srebrenica, didn't you?
17 A. Also multiple rocket launchers were constantly active. They could
18 fire 36 shells in bursts of nine.
19 Q. All right. And not only that but mortars as well?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. You'd agree that it was heavy, continuous bombing by all sorts of
22 different type of military ordnance or shells?
23 A. I would just ask you one thing, if you allow me. In that period,
24 I never put on pajamas in order to go to sleep, and I would never wake up
25 in the same place where I fell asleep. During the night I would always
1 have to go to a different place that was safer. I could not even be
2 relaxed for a couple of hours at a stretch.
3 Q. All right. Thank you. In fact, in your evidence yesterday, in
4 one of the answers to Mr. Jones's questions, you said, I think, that
5 either when demilitarisation occurred or shortly thereafter, Swedes, and
6 presumably part of some UN contingent, came in and repaired the buildings.
7 You remember that? You remember that testimony? In fact, your precise
8 words were, "they came in and fixed up the roofs and some of the holes,
9 but it -- I" --
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. I gather it wasn't very much of a repair job but something at
12 least happened, correct?
13 A. It was quite important. A house was unprotected without a roof.
14 But when you patched up the roof then you would have shelter. So people
15 did that. There were also a lot of timber houses in Jadar - I don't know
16 exactly the place - so a large number of people could be Ahmo dated there.
17 These are prefabricated houses. They were later used for Serb refugees
18 after the fall of Srebrenica. You could even see those houses today.
19 This really helped a lot in providing accommodation for the population.
20 Q. Sorry, just remind me, just tell me, is Jadar a suburb or area
21 close into Srebrenica?
22 A. You pass through Srebrenica in order to reach Jadar. It's about
23 ten or 15 kilometres away, perhaps more. I didn't ask, or I never
24 actually knew exactly how much.
25 Q. Just briefly turn to another topic now. You would I think agree
1 with me, wouldn't you, that in Srebrenica in 1992 and early 1993 and
2 probably thereafter just about every single commodity that you can think
3 ever was -- there was -- there were shortages and in addition, some
4 commodities were simply not available at all. Would you agree with that?
5 A. Yes, of course.
6 Q. You would agree, wouldn't you, that the infrastructure that
7 existed in Srebrenica was struggling to deal with the problems faced by
8 the population. For example, the hospital had troubles finding medicines,
9 if they could find medicines at all? You would agree with that, wouldn't
11 A. Yes, of course. We didn't have any at all. As for electricity
12 and water, even after the demilitarisation, we were still without
13 electricity and water. It's true that the people from UNPROFOR made it
14 possible to have water for bathing. It was a special healing water and it
15 made it possible for us to heal the scabies that we were suffering from.
16 So that was good for that. But it wasn't water that was good for washing
17 clothes or anything like that.
18 Q. And the normal civilian organs that you'd expect in a peace time
19 society, they were all having troubles functioning, if they functioned at
20 all. For example, the police?
21 A. I don't remember that police was formed at all during the war and
22 also during the demilitarisation period. I don't really remember that the
23 police existed at all.
24 Q. So I take it that there was no effective and functioning fire
25 brigade in Srebrenica?
1 A. UNPROFOR was there.
2 Q. Yes. I take it there was no functioning or effective fire brigade
3 functioning in Srebrenica, a fire brigade, correct?
4 A. Before the war, there was, but then it was only the UNPROFOR that
5 had the means to deal with that. They were everything to us at the time.
6 They were the authorities, the police, they performed all of these
7 functions. We were just ordinary people.
8 Q. At the time that the UNPROFOR people came in, at the time of
9 demilitarisation in early 1993, Srebrenica hadn't burnt down, had it? It
10 was damaged but it was damaged by bombs.
11 A. Srebrenica was burned. You can see the traces of that even today.
12 Never mind when the UNPROFOR came. Even to this day, you can see soot on
13 buildings from that time. Srebrenica hasn't changed much from that time.
14 There hasn't been much of repair work since then. There are still traces
15 of burning and bullet holes. People, it's true, have started to renovate
16 their houses a little bit.
17 Q. Yes. I have absolutely no doubt that in 1993, if you had walked
18 through the streets of Srebrenica, you would have seen a scene of
19 devastation. What you would have seen though is bomb damage, not burnt
20 out buildings, correct?
21 A. No. That's not true. Most of the buildings in Srebrenica were
22 damaged by torching. The bullet holes are not so difficult to fix, but
23 once a building has been torched, that's even more difficult. The roofs
24 are missing, walls and everything. And another thing, all the Muslim
25 houses, all the buildings, were burned 100 per cent, even the chicken
1 coops. Not one single house remained intact. The Serbs set them all on
2 fire. Wherever they came they would burn everything and they left nothing
3 behind them. This is something that I am stating with full responsibility
4 and many others can confirm that.
5 Q. In fact you'd seen torching, hadn't you, using your binoculars
6 from your position, or the binoculars of your friend?
7 A. Of course.
8 Q. And you'd seen Serbs, hadn't you, torching houses prior to their
9 abandoning or leaving Srebrenica, hadn't you?
10 A. Yes. I saw Srebrenica burning. After the demilitarisation, I
11 could go to the villages and I did go there because we went there to look
12 for fruit and other things. We returned to the Muslim villages to see
13 what the situation was, to pick fruit and so on. Not a single house was
14 standing there, or any other building, of course the same goes for
15 Srebrenica and I could see Srebrenica when it was burning.
16 Q. The last ten minutes or so I've been asking you about Srebrenica.
17 That's what I'm interested in. I know what you said about Serbs setting
18 fire to houses in May. I've heard your evidence and I know that you saw
19 it and you described how they set fire to the houses and the houses burnt
21 Now, apart from those houses, apart from those houses that were
22 deliberately subject to arson attack by Serbs, apart from them, I'm not
23 talking about them. Apart from them, in 1993, when the UN forces arrived
24 in Srebrenica, the overwhelming damage that the township of Srebrenica had
25 suffered was the result of bombing, not fire. Would you agree with that?
1 A. No. I don't agree. A lot of damage was caused during the
2 bombing, but most of the damage was caused by fire, because even if a
3 shell does hit a house, it doesn't knock it down completely. Glass would
4 shatter, there was no glass any more or windows, but this is something
5 that can be repaired. But once a building burns down, then it's very
7 Q. Yes. So --
8 A. I can add one more thing. Apartment houses were not burned,
9 probably because there was a mixed population, both Serbs and Muslims,
10 living there. I'm talking about apartment houses where you have more
11 apartments. But all the Muslim single-family houses or something like
12 that, they were all burned.
13 Q. I'm just not quite clear about your last answer. Are you
14 suggesting that the Serb shelling deliberately avoided apartment houses
15 because of the possibility of Serb families living there? I don't want to
16 put words in your mouth but is my understanding correct?
17 JUDGE AGIUS: She will explain it, Mr. Jones. If she doesn't then
18 obviously I will intervene. But for the time being, let her, let her.
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I am talking about setting buildings
20 on fire. I'm not talking about shelling. When you're shelling, you can
21 not pick and choose. When a plane is bombing, they just unload their
22 ammunition or shells. They hit wherever they fall. Even the church was
23 damaged, the Serbs probably didn't do that intentionally but when you want
24 to set something on fire then you know exactly what you want to burn.
25 Apartment houses were predominantly populated by Serbs. In my apartment
1 house, there were eight Muslim-inhabited apartments and 16 apartments
2 inhabited by Serbs. I don't know why but mostly the apartment houses had
3 more Serb tenants than Muslim tenants. These buildings were maybe damaged
4 by shelling but they were not set on fire.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: Let's -- I need clarification now at this point
6 because in answering your previous question -- Mr. Di Fazio, let me go to
7 the previous page. Yes. A couple of minutes ago, Madam Hotic, you
8 said, "I can add one more thing. Apartment houses were not burned.
9 Probably because there was a mixed population, both Serbs and Muslims,
10 living there. I'm talking about apartment houses, where you have more
11 apartments. But all --" this is what I'm going to ask you about. "But
12 all the Muslim single-family houses or something like that, they were all
13 burnt. They were all burnt."
14 So my question to you is this: At the moment of demilitarisation,
15 1993, how many or roughly what percentage of Muslim single-family houses
16 were still intact? Because you're saying all. I take it that you don't
17 mean exactly all from number 1 to number whatever. But were there any
18 left intact or not? At the time of the demilitarisation.
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I can tell you. The houses in the
20 border line areas, the end of the Crni Guber street, the last houses
21 there, were not torched because they were very close to the forest. And,
22 well, maybe a couple of other houses remained intact. I can't give you
23 the exact percentage. But several houses, several houses, remained
24 intact. And as to apartment buildings, Serbs were not living in those
25 buildings at that time because the Serbs left when the Serb population
1 left Srebrenica. So they were not inhabited.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Di Fazio?
3 MR. DI FAZIO:
4 Q. Just from that last question from His Honour, you said, in talking
5 about the percentage of houses in the -- in Srebrenica, that the last
6 houses in the borderline areas were not torched. Now, all this damage to
7 Muslim houses that you've been describing, is that the damage that you saw
8 taking place by Serb men on the ground in Srebrenica prior to the
9 withdrawal of Serb forces from that -- from Srebrenica?
10 A. It's not quite clear to me. I mean, the damage I witnessed, I
11 told you about.
12 Q. Yes. Okay. You told us about what you saw from through the
13 binoculars up on the hill. I've heard that. I've understood that. I
14 think everyone has. There is no problem with that. You're quite clear
15 about that. Now, were all the Muslim houses that you know of being
16 destroyed in Srebrenica, were they destroyed then, back in May, when you
17 were looking through your binoculars down on the town, is that when the
18 Muslim houses were deliberately torched, set fire to, and destroyed?
19 JUDGE AGIUS: We are talking of May 1992.
20 MR. DI FAZIO:
21 Q. Yes, sorry, May --
22 A. After that first torching, no houses were set on fire in
23 Srebrenica any more. They were damaged by shelling but they were no
24 longer being set on fire because they were under our control.
25 Q. Thank you.
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 MR. DI FAZIO: Would Your Honour just bear with me for a moment?
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Certainly.
3 [Prosecution counsel confer]
4 MR. DI FAZIO:
5 Q. Just while we are talking on this burning of houses, in the early
6 part of 1993, you've told us already about the Muslim houses, do you know
7 if they spared Serb houses, not apartment blocks but Serb houses? Did
8 they spare them when they were laying -- setting fire to the houses?
9 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. Judge -- very well, the point is being raised.
10 It's not in early part of 1993.
11 MR. DI FAZIO: Slip of the tongue and I'm grateful to Your Honour.
12 Q. Witness, I'll just repeat it because I misled you perhaps. I'm
13 talking about 1992, the same occasion when you were looking down through
14 your binoculars down on to the town, okay? Now, on that occasion when
15 houses were torched by these Serbs, the Muslim houses, did they also burn
16 Serb houses or did they presumably deliberately spare them?
17 A. Some Serb houses that I knew of remained intact. They were not
18 burnt down.
19 Q. Yes.
20 A. The house next to the church, and something else in the centre of
21 town, I know they -- those houses which were left standing.
22 Q. Thank you very much. Now I want to turn now from this issue of
23 shelling and damage to another topic, please. And that is the question of
24 clothing. You said yesterday that, in answer to a question from Mr.
25 Jones, that it was -- you couldn't really distinguish between men in
1 fighting units and civilians, and you gave the example of your own son who
2 I think had trainers and he didn't have military uniform. Do you recall
3 that evidence?
4 A. Yes. I said that my son used to wear a pair of jeans and a jacket
5 and some sneakers. Most of them were dressed in that way. Perhaps some
6 were slightly better dressed and others had torn clothes. It depended on
7 what their possibilities were. People who came over, they had the clothes
8 that they had on their backs when they had to run. So mostly civilians, I
9 mean civilian clothes. There were no uniforms whatsoever, nothing
11 Q. It's clear from your evidence that you went to Fakovici, Bjelovac
12 and Kravica. On those occasions, did you see any men -- by that I mean
13 Bosniaks, men on your side -- walking around with ribbons? Ribbons either
14 tied around their forehead or their arm or somehow attached to them?
15 A. I can't remember. Maybe I wasn't paying enough attention but I
16 just can't remember. I'm unable to tell you either yes or no. It just--
17 Q. Fair enough?
18 A. No.
19 Q. Okay. And what about Kravica? Apart -- I'm not asking about
20 ribbons now. Did you ever see any men in -- fighting men, wearing white
21 uniforms, white coverall, overall uniforms?
22 A. Yes. Next to the hill of Jaglici. Since the snow was white, you
23 could spot people walking like they were ants, you know. Against this
24 white background they looked like black ants, all of them, whether you
25 wore brown or grey clothes or blue or whatever, but there was this white
2 MS. VIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour there is one correction
3 for the transcript. The witness said "to tell you the truth," she didn't
4 just say "yes," as it seems to look in the transcript.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Thank you. Still we haven't got an
6 answer to the question. The question was: Did you see in Kravica, did
7 you see men wearing, I will use exactly the same words used by
8 Mr. Di Fazio, white uniforms?
9 MR. DI FAZIO: If Your Honour pleases, fighting men, I qualified
11 JUDGE AGIUS: Fighting men wearing white uniforms.
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, no.
13 MR. DI FAZIO: I think this is the time, if Your Honours please.
14 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. We will have a 30-minute break and we will
15 resume at 11.15. Thank you.
16 --- Recess taken at 10.45 a.m.
17 --- On resuming at 11.18 a.m.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Di Fazio. You may proceed.
19 MR. DI FAZIO: Thank you.
20 Q. All right. We were talking about uniforms. Now, you earlier
21 today and indeed yesterday you said that commodities were generally in
22 short supply. One of the most precious items that could be had, apart
23 from perhaps food and medicines or perhaps equally with food and
24 medicines, was a weapon. That was correct, wasn't it -- isn't it?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. As far as you were aware, the fighting units needed all the
2 weapons they could get to hold the Serb forces at bay, correct?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Yesterday, you testified that -- when you were talking about
5 Torbari and Hapsi, and in the context of Fakovici, that some of the people
6 who went into the villages, the civilians, had rifles. Do you recall that
8 A. I do remember.
9 Q. Are you aware of any pressure by those in charge of the fighting
10 units to try and commandeer, get ahold of these weapons from civilians it
11 would had them?
12 A. The fighters were volunteers. Whoever wanted to fight joined in
13 and for the most part people wanted to join in and join in the defence.
14 Whoever had a rifle was more desirable as a fighter. And in every action,
15 even, you know, people who were fighters occasionally were not fighters
16 all the time. At times they were fighting, at other times they were just
17 looking for food. It depended on needs and on their goodwill. Nobody
18 made them do anything or coerced them into joining the fighting.
19 Q. No one that you saw in Fakovici or Bjelovac or Kravica, who was
20 armed with a gun, was a civilian, were they? They were all members of
21 fighting units. Would you agree with that proposition?
22 A. I said not always, not in the course much every action. Sometimes
23 they were fighters and on other occasions they were not. If they didn't
24 want to be and if there was no need for everyone to become an active
25 fighter on that particular occasion.
1 Q. Let me approach it this way: Would you agree with the proposition
2 that anyone who was carrying a gun at any of these actions that you've
3 talked about must have been a fighter?
4 JUDGE AGIUS: Please make it clear that you're restricting it --
5 whether you're restricting it to Fakovici.
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] They did not have to be the
8 MR. DI FAZIO: Okay.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: Let's make it clear whether you're still referring
10 exclusively and only to Fakovici, Bjelovac, or Kravica, or whether you are
11 extending it to any other actions.
12 MR. DI FAZIO: Sure, thank you, Your Honour.
13 JUDGE AGIUS: Because I think we need to be clear on this.
14 MR. DI FAZIO: Thank you.
15 Q. The -- I'll repeat my question. And to be more precise, as
16 His Honour has suggested. Would you agree with the proposition that
17 anyone who was carrying a gun at Fakovici, Bjelovac or Kravica must have
18 been a member of a fighting unit, given the scarcity and the shortage of
19 weapons? Would you agree with that proposition?
20 A. It's not really clear to me. We seem to be talking about one and
21 the same thing for the third time, and I don't see --
22 Q. All right. Well, you gave lots of evidence yesterday. Mr. Jones
23 asked you many details about the people you call Torbari, okay, the
24 civilians who went into these places and you also have talked about
25 fighting men, men, for example, like your son who was a member of Hakija
1 Meholjic's unit. My proposition is a very simple one. What I'm saying is
2 this: Because of the guns, because of the scarcity of guns and the fact
3 that you're surrounded by hostile Serb forces, any man who had a gun must
4 have been a member of some fighting unit. Now, whether it was Hakija
5 Meholjic's unit or Zulfo Tursunovic's unit or someone associated with
6 Mr. Oric or whatever but they must have been a member of a fighting unit.
7 Do you agree with that conclusion? Is my thinking correct?
8 A. If I may, I would just like to explain this. I can't answer this
9 by yes or no, because if a person has a gun, that person may act as a
10 fighter in a given action but does not necessarily need to participate in
11 any action as a fighter, even though they may be carrying a gun.
12 Sometimes they may be going along just in order to look for food and they
13 may carrying their weapon -- they may be carrying their weapons just for
14 self defence and they did not have to relinquish those weapons even though
15 there was a shortage of weapons because there was no law or regulation in
16 force on the basis of which people could be forced to relinquish their
17 weapons or to become fighters just by virtue of the fact that they were
18 armed. It was all voluntary.
19 Q. All right. I'm not suggesting that the fighting men in the
20 fighting units were not volunteers. Did you actually see, with your own
21 eyes, at Kravica or Bjelovac or Fakovici, people you call torbari
22 gathering food and carrying a weapon?
23 A. Yes, I did see people carrying weapons and carrying food as well.
24 I didn't actually ask them whether they were participated in any fighting
25 or whether they just went along to get the food. There was no need for me
1 to know and to be honest, I wasn't even interested.
2 Q. I can understand that and you would have to agree with the
3 proposition, wouldn't you, that those people that you saw might have had a
4 dual role on that particular day, they might have been fighters having
5 finished their fighting and they might have been set about gathering food,
7 A. Both things could happen. They might have gone along only and
8 exclusively to get food or else they may have participated in fighting and
9 then went on to look for food afterwards. I didn't need to know but,
10 yeah, presumably that could have been the case.
11 Q. Thank you. Okay. Let's move to the topic of Fakovici itself.
12 Yesterday you said that you arrived at Fakovici at about noon, about
14 A. Yes, before noon.
15 Q. Before noon.
16 A. That's what I said, yes.
17 Q. The attack on Fakovici started about noon or in the middle of the
18 day. Would you agree with that?
19 A. The attack started earlier because there was shooting down there.
20 Q. Okay. So is it the case that you can -- you simply don't actually
21 know when the fighting actually started? All you can say is that at
22 around noon or midday when you arrived, fighting was already underway?
23 A. When I got there, fighting was underway, because I could not see
24 any people with guns around me. They were already in action. So fighting
25 was underway, there was shooting, and I waited for a while for the
1 fighting to abate, in order to enter the town. But then I said I could
2 not go in due to the firing of bullets from the opposite direction and,
4 Q. Okay. So you left Srebrenica to walk to Fakovici along with all
5 the other civilians, the people you called torbari, correct?
6 A. Other people used to call us like that but we didn't mind.
7 Q. That's quite a walk, isn't it, from Srebrenica to Fakovici?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Okay. How long does it take?
10 A. Several hours, but I never actually timed it.
11 Q. Look, I don't want to be pedantic but can you give us an
12 approximation, two or three or four hours? Have you got any idea?
13 A. Three hours roughly speaking because it's through the forests and
14 hills and it's not really a welcoming terrain.
15 Q. Okay. And would you agree with or do you have any reason to
16 dispute that the attack or the action, let's say - I'll use the word
17 action - action at Fakovici occurred on the 5th of October 1992?
18 A. Yes. If you have the exact dates I'll probably agree with you but
19 I can remember the dates myself. Or, if you have it from some other
21 Q. Fair enough. And you'd heard about this attack, you say, by word
22 of mouth and that you -- news of --
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. News of the attack essentially spread through the town, you say,
25 by virtue of the fact?
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. -- fighters told presumably their families. Is that what you're
3 saying? Is that how you came to know of the attack?
4 A. Yes. I never knew for sure how we came to know about it. There
5 was no public announcement or anything. It was an open secret, as it
6 were. It was supposed to be confidential but everybody knew.
7 Q. So what precisely did you hear on the grapevine? Did you hear
8 that the attack was fixed for two or three days' time? Did you prepare
9 for it?
10 A. Generally speaking, we would get to hear about it on the eve of
11 that day. We would normally be told there is going to be an action
12 somewhere tomorrow and then of course we would get ready to leave as well.
13 We just went without any consideration.
14 Q. All right. You had -- you had to plan for it, didn't you? You
15 had to get yourself ready, get your few meagre possessions that you had
16 for the trip, get yourself dressed as best you could and calculate when
17 you'd start walking and when you'd arrive at the place, correct?
18 A. Well, the preparations were not really so much. You would maybe
19 put on some heavier clothes, get a bag and that's it.
20 Q. But -- I appreciate that, but you had to make some sort of
21 planning for it, didn't you? You had to know, for example, when to arrive
22 at the scene of the action. That was important, wasn't it?
23 A. In the early morning, mostly. That was -- that was usually the
24 time to go, in the early morning. By the time you get there it would be
25 day already.
1 Q. Thank you, Madam Hotic, but that's not precisely my question.
2 What I'm interested in is not when you went but this: You had to know --
3 you had to know fairly clearly when to leave in order to time your arrival
4 at the scene of the action. You would agree with that, wouldn't you?
5 Wasn't that essential in the circumstances?
6 A. Yes. Mostly we knew that we had to leave as early as possible.
7 Some people would get there earlier. Some people would get there later.
8 I think at the time I was a bit late in getting into the village because
9 people before me actually went in before the shooting because of which I
10 was prevented from going in.
11 Q. And Fakovici is a perfect example of this, isn't it because if the
12 attack had been timed, for example, to be a nighttime attack or late dusk
13 attack, you wouldn't have had to set off at dawn, would you? You could
14 have set off perhaps later in the day. That would have made more sense,
15 wouldn't it? But in fact Fakovici the attack did occur around the middle
16 of the day and so you timed accordingly. You left early in the morning,
18 MR. JONES: The objection is there are so many questions there I'm
19 not sure which one the witness is supposed to answer. She may agree she
20 left earlier in the morning it would then seem to be she was agreeing she
21 timed her departure.
22 JUDGE AGIUS: Fair enough.
23 MR. DI FAZIO: I'll rephrase it.
24 JUDGE AGIUS: Fair enough. Yes, Mr. Di Fazio, please choose which
25 question you want the witness to answer first because it may dispose of
1 the others.
2 MR. DI FAZIO:
3 Q. Fakovici -- in order for you to leave at dawn or early in the
4 morning, really early in the morning, to get to the scene of the action,
5 you must have known approximately what time the action was going to occur.
6 A. All the actions were carried out early in the morning for the most
7 part. I didn't have to be there during the action. That was dangerous.
8 So I was always afraid and I would always get there later because many
9 people were wounded, many people were killed, those who would go in right
10 away. It was very dangerous to do that while the combat operations were
11 still going on. Perhaps I wouldn't find as much as the others and I would
12 leave with less but I would never go in amongst the first. I was always a
13 bit cautious in such cases. The action had to be completed. There should
14 be no longer any danger of shooting. There should be no fighting. And
15 then after that I would go in.
16 JUDGE AGIUS: This is precisely I mean because again I don't think
17 the witness has answered your question.
18 In order -- you have given a very clear explanation now but, to
19 me, this means that before you could decide or you would decide when to
20 leave Srebrenica to go to Fakovici, necessarily therefore you knew what
21 time roughly the attack would take place. Because you, as you explain it,
22 you were intent always in trying to avoid being there during the action
23 itself. So you had to know what time the action was going to take place
24 before you decided to leave Srebrenica. Is that correct?
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] More or less. Not the exact hour,
1 the exact time of attack. It often was the case that I would wait a
2 little bit farther away until the danger was over so that I could go in.
3 So that means that I could arrive before the action was completed but not
4 go in. It happened like that this time. I was picking plums, eating
5 plums, eating grapes, close to where I was supposed to be but I was not
6 exposed to so much danger. I cannot say that I always knew exact -- the
7 exact time but it was in the morning. Whether this was at 5.00 in the
8 morning, 4.00, 3.00, sometime after midnight, that's something that I
9 didn't need to know. I never knew the exact time. It was just morning.
10 JUDGE AGIUS: A further question and then I leave -- give you back
11 to Mr. Di Fazio. In these instances, the attack on Fakovici, on Bjelovac,
12 on any of the attacks where you went to collect food, would you know when
13 the fighters would leave? In other words, was it also common knowledge
14 amongst the people in Srebrenica, the fighters have left now at 3.00 in
15 the morning or the fighters have left now at 5.00 in the morning? Or
16 wouldn't you be aware of that?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I didn't know that. I never had the
18 opportunity to see the fighters leaving. I never saw that, no.
19 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay.
20 Mr. Di Fazio.
21 MR. DI FAZIO:
22 Q. You may not have seen the fighters leaving in preparation to
23 leaving to go off to their attack, but did you know what time they were
24 going to leave so that you and other civilians could time your arrival?
25 A. I didn't know what time the fighters would leave. I didn't see
1 that, and I couldn't always know something like that. Even when my son
2 was leaving the house, sometimes he would go to his friends' and he
3 wouldn't even say anything to me. He wouldn't say goodbye. This happened
5 Q. I really appreciate if you would give me a brief answer so we can
6 move on. Just give me an approximate number of the people you call
7 torbari who gathered at Fakovici. Are we talking hundreds, thousands?
8 What sort of numbers?
9 A. We are talking thousands.
10 Q. Okay. Now, for thousands of people to arrive at Fakovici early in
11 the morning on the 5th of October 1992, would have caused a catastrophe,
12 wouldn't it? Because they would have arrived there before the fighters
13 even got there. If the attack started around midday, you would agree with
14 that, the only possible consequence was a catastrophe, unarmed civilians
15 gathering at the site of an attack before it's even occurred. Now would
16 you agree with that?
17 A. No. It was a large area. People would spread out. They wouldn't
18 take just one path through the -- people would go through the fields,
19 through the forest. They would be spread over a wide area.
20 Q. I see. So they would approach not as a group? That's what you're
21 saying; is that right?
22 A. There were groups. They would arrive in groups. But it would not
23 be a group of 1.000 people.
24 Q. Okay.
25 A. It would be 200 or 300 people in a group, and they would approach
1 from all possible sides.
2 Q. But you would have to agree, wouldn't you, that even if they are
3 approaching, indeed because of the fact that they are approaching in
4 groups, civilians from all sides around Fakovici - this is the scenario
5 I'm asking you about, if they arrived in such a manner before the fighters
6 even got there - or even started their attack, the Serbs would have known
7 instantly what was going to happen. Now, you'd have to agree with that,
8 wouldn't you?
9 A. People who were coming in such numbers would not go into the town.
10 There were forests, different places to conceal oneself, to stay low. So
11 that you wouldn't be noticed. It was a large area and the configuration
12 of the terrain was such. Everyone was aware that they had to be quiet so
13 that they wouldn't be noticed.
14 Q. All right.
15 A. Regardless of how many of us there were. There were always more
16 of us than the people who were participating in the action, who were going
17 to take part in the combat. There were always many more of us.
18 Q. So did you receive instructions, I mean you and/or the other
19 people you call torbari. Did you receive instructions on how to make your
20 approach to the scene of an action? For example, to do what you just
21 said, lie in hiding?
22 A. We didn't receive instructions from anyone. Each person was aware
23 of that. They simply felt that they had to behave like that only a fool
24 wouldn't behave like that. Everybody was taking care of themselves. They
25 were taking precautions.
1 Q. Okay. Thanks. We have been looking at the scenarios for the
2 torbari preceding the attack. Let's look at the situation after an
3 attack. I think you've said -- testified that people would go into the
4 areas that had been subjected to an attack or an action, whatever the
5 correct word is, and keep on gathering food and so on. Do you remember
6 that? Do you recall that evidence?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. It was therefore important for the people you call torbari to try
9 and get into the place as quickly as possible following an action in order
10 to get as much food as they could secure and get out of the place as fast
11 as they could. You agree with that?
12 A. I agree. I agree that people, when they went in, I'm not speaking
13 specifically about Fakovici because I wasn't there, but in other places
14 where I was, people or large numbers of people would be grabbing things
15 from each other, taking things from each other's hands, in order to be
16 able to put that in their own bag. So sometimes people would be grabbing
17 the food and the food was collected quickly so that people could leave as
18 quickly as possible. It was also possible that these places could be
19 shelled, and the Serbs would often shell these places while people were
20 still inside.
21 Q. Okay. And that's even more compelling reason, isn't it, to
22 coordinate your actions with those of the fighters, isn't it, to avoid
23 precisely the scenario you just described?
24 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Jones?
25 MR. JONES: I object to this question. There have been a line of
1 them, where basically the witness is being asked for want of a better
2 word, to speculate. It might not be the best word to use in this
3 context. But in essence, Mr. Di Fazio isn't asking, Did you coordinate,
4 did you and others do X, Y and Z, it's wouldn't it this have been a good
5 idea wouldn't this have been necessary, wouldn't that have been necessary,
6 and my objection is on that basis that this witness can say whether they
7 did actually coordinate their actions and coordinate their watches, et
8 cetera, and I'm sure we will know what the answer to that would be whether
9 it's important whether it would be a good idea that's an entirely
10 different matter and I don't think that's even really admissible testimony
11 from this witness.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, I agree with you. Partially, however, because
13 at the same time it could then elicit a more reasoned explanation on the
14 part of the witness. In other words, depending on what she is answering
15 until now, if it's put to her that perhaps a more rational approach to the
16 whole exercise would have been to have someone -- I don't like -- wouldn't
17 like to say much, then she can I think explain if that was the case, or,
18 if it wasn't the case, why it wasn't the case, or why it couldn't be the
20 MR. JONES: Yes it's a question really of keeping the two
21 distinct, what they actually did and what would have been --
22 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, there I agree with you that's why I said I
23 partially agree with you. But the question itself is not irrelevant or
25 MR. JONES: I just should perhaps alert that I would then probably
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 have a fairly lengthy re-examination to establish --
2 JUDGE AGIUS: We are at your disposal, Mr. Jones, I mean, and Mr.
3 Di Fazio.
4 MR. JONES: Just as to exactly what did occur, right, thank you.
5 MR. DI FAZIO: Let me --
6 Q. Okay. Did you consider -- did you consider, you personally
7 consider, timing your arrival at the scenes of these actions to avoid
8 getting there too late and possibly avoid retaliatory counterattacks, Serb
9 attacks? Did that happen?
10 A. As far as the question is clear to me, it would always be
11 uncertain when I went. No one could coordinate these things. We are
12 talking about large numbers of people, and as I said, there was no open
13 talk about it. But it was still known. We went because we needed to get
14 food, and because of that, we might have interfered with the fighters
15 during the action because it was also necessary to pull out the wounded,
16 to take out the bodies, and so on. That was my answer.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: This is precisely why you're being asked these
18 questions, because in reality, you are now telling us that there were --
19 there was more to it than just going there following or not following the
20 fighters in order to be able to be there once the fighting was over to
21 collect, gather, as much food as possible. There was much more to it.
22 There was involved, as you rightly point out now, the question of not
23 interfering with the fighting, with the fighting plans and with the
24 fighting itself. Not to obstruct it.
25 I mean, so at this point in time, given that there were these
1 other considerations that were in play, irrespective of whether it's being
2 organised or coordinated or not, but where you put on notice, for example,
3 the population as such, was the population put on notice that if you are
4 going to proceed to do -- to the place where the action was going to take
5 place or has taken place, you should avoid interfering with the operation
6 itself? Or with the action itself? Or was everyone left to do what he or
7 she liked? I mean, as you explain it, I take it that you decided to go to
8 Fakovici not in agreement with others but at your own decision, and you
9 would leave your home at a given time, you decide yourself. And it's only
10 by chance that along the way you meet with these several hundreds or
11 thousands of other people going in the same direction. That's how you
12 have explained it to us so far. But was more to it than that? This is
13 what you're being asked to answer. And I think I've tried to explain
14 myself in a simple manner. Perhaps you can try to answer us in a simple
15 manner too.
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It's a very complicated question.
17 It's so convoluted. What I said was that there could not have been any
18 coordination between the fighters and the torbari people. If we torbari
19 didn't go, we would be left without food. If we were to listen to them
20 and not disrupt them, we would not get any food because they couldn't
21 bring back any food. Fighters, if they brought back any food they would
22 bring back food for their families. They couldn't bring back food for
23 everybody and what would the rest of us do. And they couldn't prevent us
24 from going because how would they explain to us why we should not try to
25 get any food? Simply it was a kind of implicit agreement. Everybody did
1 what they had to do. I mean, I can't give you another answer.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. --
3 MR. DI FAZIO:
4 Q. Well, I suggest to you that what in fact happened is there was a
5 degree of coordination between the fighting units and the torbari, that
6 there must have been some sort of communication between those two groups,
7 the people you call torbari and the fighting units, in order for you to be
8 able to, within reason, within reason, safely carry out your
9 food-gathering exercise. Do you agree with that proposition or not?
10 A. I can say this: It was never safe for us, and I was always aware
11 of the risk, and I took the risk. I couldn't ascribe that to anyone else.
12 There was no coordination. There could have been no coordination. First
13 of all, all of our fighters, our defence, was not united. Everybody waged
14 fights on their own terrain. Sometimes it was a joint action. Sometimes
15 it was on their own terrain. Sometimes it wasn't possible amongst
16 themselves to be coordinated, never mind in other cases. This all
17 happened spontaneously. It evolved from moment to moment.
18 Q. All right. Okay. When you actually got into the -- into the
19 houses and places that you went to in Fakovici and Bjelovac and Kravica,
20 you went into houses looking for food and so did the other people you call
21 torbari, right?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. All right. Now, if you came across boxes of ammunition or
24 grenades or helmets or submachine guns or Zoljas, were you expected to do
25 anything with that sort of material? I'm not suggesting this actually
1 happened to you but what I'm asking you about was, had you received any
2 instructions on what to do if you came across such valuable material?
3 A. I never received any instructions in case I came up with something
4 like that. I would always look for food in places where I assume that
5 food would be kept. So I don't have any such experiences. I didn't have
6 anything to do with weapons and I don't know what I would have done if
7 something like that happened. I never really thought about it.
8 Q. You said yesterday that wherever the Serbs were, there were --
9 words to this effect, I don't think I'm misquoting you, that there were
10 weapons' dumps, collections of ammunition and so on. Weaponry. Before
11 you went out to these places, did it ever occur to you that you, you,
12 Mrs. Hotic, in the course of your going through houses, might come across
13 something as valuable as a gun, machine-gun, or landmines, anything,
14 something like that? Did you ever give any thought to that?
15 A. No. I never gave it any thought. Obviously, all villages where
16 there were Serbs had weapons. They had weapons in their homes and in
17 warehouses. That was a generally known fact. It was common knowledge.
18 But presumably in the course of the action as the fighters went in before
19 us, they would have taken care of it. So I never had the opportunity to
20 come across any weapons when I went looking for food.
21 Q. You say "presumably in the course of the action the fighters went
22 in." Do you take you to mean that presumably the fighters went in and
23 scoured the houses for such material, weaponry?
24 A. Obviously it was something precious. We had no weapons and that
25 was the only way for us to get arms and to be able to defend ourselves.
1 It was a must. There was no choice. Basically.
2 Q. Did you in fact ever run into such dumps or caches or, if not
3 collections, even isolated weapons?
4 A. No. I just came across empty crates.
5 Q. All right.
6 A. And sometimes there were scattered in front of houses. It was
7 elsewhere, in other places. And I did mention that I went looking for
8 food 19 times, either after the military action or without any action,
9 just sneaking through the Serb territory, through the fields, trying to
10 pick some produce, up until the winter.
11 Q. Madam Hotic, I saw you holding your back. If you have any
12 problems, I won't be able to tell but if you do, please tell Their Honours
13 and alert them.
14 JUDGE AGIUS: Mrs. Hotic, do you want a break?
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No. I'm a bit cold because the air
16 conditioning is blowing cold air onto my back. But that's the only
17 problem. But it's okay.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: But I don't want any witness to feel uncomfortable.
19 So could we either lower the air conditioning a little bit? I don't think
20 we can switch off the ventilators.
21 MR. DI FAZIO:
22 Q. Anyway, do you feel able to continue?
23 A. It's no trouble. Don't worry, everything is fine.
24 JUDGE AGIUS: We can stop and you can have a coffee, if you want
25 to warm up, and in the meantime we try to adjust the climate control here.
1 Or the temperature.
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No worries. Everything is fine.
3 It's not a major issue.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: If you happen to have any other --
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] We can continue.
6 JUDGE AGIUS: If you happen to have any other clothing in here,
7 which you can -- would like to put on, we'll give you the opportunity to
8 do that. Do you have a coat or --
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No. It's fine. It's fine. I don't
10 have an overcoat or anything but, yeah, it was just a gesture I didn't
11 even think about. Don't worry.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: Any way, if you need assistance or if you need a
13 break --
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you anyway.
15 JUDGE AGIUS: -- please let us know.
16 Yes, Mr. Di Fazio.
17 MR. DI FAZIO:
18 Q. Yes. All right. So am I correct that if you had come across such
19 material, you wouldn't have known what to do? You wouldn't have had any
20 instructions or general directions on contacting, say, for example, the
21 commander of your son's unit or a local fighter who might be standing
22 around in the area and inform him or her -- him that you found this
23 military material?
24 A. These are just assumptions and conjectures, because even a
25 commander or some other leader would not have time to say anything. I
1 mean, had we come across anything like that, some men would probably get
2 their hands on that stuff earlier on and I wouldn't even have the
3 opportunity to touch it or go near it but it has never happened anyway.
4 Q. But you were alerted to the possibility of -- you were alerted to
5 the possibility of weapons -- not weapons so much, more ammunition, being
6 located in the Serb houses because according to you, one fighter, a
7 fighter, told you that it was dangerous to torch houses because of that
8 fact, because ammunition might be inside the houses. Do you recall that
10 A. Yes. But I wasn't given that warning myself individually.
11 Fighters might have talked about it amongst themselves and they must have
12 reached a conclusion that it was hazardous, which indeed it was.
13 Q. I thought you were a little more emphatic about it?
14 MR. JONES: I have the reference from yesterday and it was,
15 "sometimes I would hear the fighters say it was very dangerous to torch a
16 Serb house. " That's her evidence, not that she was specifically told --
17 JUDGE AGIUS: That's what I recall as well, actually. Thank you,
18 Mr. Jones. That's how I recall it.
19 MR. DI FAZIO:
20 Q. So it was mentioned on more than one occasion to you?
21 JUDGE AGIUS: It wasn't mentioned to her. I mean, that's not how
22 I read it.
23 MR. DI FAZIO: Sorry.
24 JUDGE AGIUS: This is overhearing fighters say so.
25 MR. DI FAZIO:
1 Q. Okay. So you overheard from fighters on a number of occasions
2 about that danger?
3 A. Yes. I heard it, overheard it from the fighters.
4 Q. Did the fighters ever give you any other tips on what to do, how
5 to handle going through houses, other than that one?
6 MR. JONES: Sorry, it's a mischaracterisation, again, a two-fold
7 mischaracterisation. Did give any other tips? Well, that wasn't a tip.
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No.
9 MR. DI FAZIO:
10 Q. Any other advice, advice?
11 MR. JONES: It was suggestions.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: But she has never said that the fighter --
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No.
14 JUDGE AGIUS: -- gave her any advice in the first place. It was by
15 chance or not I wouldn't know. But it so happened that she overheard
16 fighters saying something. Now, perhaps what you should ask is whether
17 you -- whether she overheard fighters or anyone else saying something else
18 related to what you would like to know but it doesn't seem to say that at
19 any stage she has said she was given advice what to do and what not to do.
20 MR. DI FAZIO: I appreciate that. I'll rephrase my question.
21 I'll rephrase my question.
22 Q. Did you ever overhear any other fighters making observations in
23 respect of torching of houses? I think that's fairly neutral.
24 A. No. No. I had never heard any talk about the torching of houses
25 except for the point I've already mentioned that it might be dangerous if
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 there was ammunition in those houses and that whilst we were in the area
2 it was dangerous to do that because it was simply impossible to tell
3 people to get out and get away because the people would stay there until
4 they've searched everything and then I don't know what happens next.
5 Every one, when they got the stuff they needed, as much as they could
6 carry, we would go back as soon as possible. That's all I know.
7 Q. In the time you were in Fakovici, Bjelovac or Kravica, did you
8 ever see any man apparently from a fighting unit or any member of the
9 group you call torbari deliberately setting fire to any structure, barn or
10 house or any other structure in those places?
11 A. I can state with a great deal of certainty that I have never, ever
12 seen anyone torching anything. I did mention that a haystack was on fire
13 at Kravica, but who set it on fire and how I don't know. That's all I can
14 say about torching.
15 Q. Mr. Hakija Meholjic expressed his views to you, to you personally,
16 regarding torching, didn't he, or burning of houses, and he said, "Don't
17 burn houses, we are going to need the houses. Where are the people going
18 to be put? The people will come, they will have a house," page 73 of the
19 transcript. "They will have a house, they will have a field, they can
20 work the land". This is something I "actually heard from him personally."
21 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Jones?
22 MR. JONES: Yes, again there is a distinction between something
23 which she overheard. This is something that I actually heard from him
24 personally. I heard about Hakija Meholjic, who had issued orders to his
25 fighters not to burn houses. I'm looking at that. And Mr. Di Fazio a
1 moment ago very specifically said, he said -- expressed his views to you
2 personally, didn't he? Again that's not a fair characterisation of what
3 she said. Again it's a question of overhearing rather than her being
4 specifically told something. It's an important distinction. Important
6 JUDGE AGIUS: Perhaps we can simplify this. I suppose you have
7 the extract from yesterday's --
8 MR. DI FAZIO: And there is not a single word in that about
10 JUDGE AGIUS: You read it out to the witness verbatim, please, as
11 it is in the transcript, even though it's not yet official and then you
12 put the question and we'll see what the position is.
13 MR. DI FAZIO: I'll also put Mr. Jones's question just so it's put
14 into context.
15 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay.
16 MR. DI FAZIO:
17 Q. Okay. Question from Mr. Jones: "Did you -- let me put it this
18 way: Did you ever hear a conversation, conversation, in which fighters
19 spoke out against burning, burning houses or a specific fighter?"
20 Answer, "I heard about Hakija Meholjic that he would issue orders
21 to his fighters not to burn houses. He said, 'Don't burn the houses, we
22 will need the houses. Where are we going to put all of these people?
23 They will come. They will have a house. They will have a field. They
24 could live there and work the land.' This is something that I actually
25 heard from him personally."
1 I think that's --
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Your question now.
3 MR. DI FAZIO: Thank you.
4 Q. Now, when and where did you hear Mr. Meholjic saying these things?
5 A. On one occasion in Stari Grad, he was talking to a group of his
6 fellow fighters and he gave that advice to them but he wasn't addressing
7 me, in fact. So that's with reference to what you've just read out. He
8 did not address myself. He was simply giving advice to his fighters
9 against the torching of houses in that way and he also explained that we
10 would need those houses in order to house the refugees and so on.
11 Q. Thank you. Now I understand how you heard it. Now, having
12 overheard this from him personally, can you give us a time, an approximate
13 time, you overheard it in Stari Grad. Can you tell us if it was in 1992
14 or 1993?
15 A. 1992.
16 Q. Okay. And can you tell us the context in which you heard it? Was
17 it at a meeting or a casual comment that you heard --
18 A. No. It was an aside. It was not during a meeting. They were
19 just having an informal conversation. I happened to be there and I
20 overheard it. I was in Stari Grad quite often.
21 Q. And the reason -- withdraw that.
22 I suggest to you that at the time that Mr. Hakija Meholjic made
23 the aside that you overheard personally, there had been a widespread
24 practice of the burning of Serb houses during the course of actions such
25 as Kravica, Bjelovac, and Fakovici, burning by the people you call torbari
1 and by the men in the fighting units.
2 A. I really and truly know nothing about that. I have never heard
3 anything about that.
4 Q. It must have stuck in your mind because if it was just an aside,
5 it's not likely that you would have recalled such a matter many, many
6 years later.
7 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Jones?
8 MR. JONES: The -- it must have stuck in your mind, it presumably
9 is that Hakija Meholjic made a comment, there's a danger that that's
10 suggesting that widespread burning must have stuck in her mind or --
11 JUDGE AGIUS: I take it as I understand it, at least the way I
12 heard Mr. Di Fazio myself. It's Mr. Meholjic's --
13 MR. JONES: Yes, perhaps the question is why she recalls it.
14 JUDGE AGIUS: Exactly. It could have been put in a simple way.
15 Why do you -- why has it stuck in your mind? Why do you still
16 remember it after so many years?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Probably because I valued his
18 opinion. I thought that this suggestion of his and this warning of sorts
19 was quite correct. And that's why it stuck in my mind.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: At the time you heard Mr. Meholjic say these things,
21 had you heard at least rumours about houses being burnt, Serb houses being
22 burnt, during attack by Muslim forces or units or fighters?
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Believe me, I never heard anything
24 about it but maybe it was just not mentioned but I really and truly never
25 heard any mention of that.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Yes, Mr. Di Fazio. She's back to you.
2 MR. DI FAZIO: Thank you.
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] May I add something? What I did
4 here, what was crucial was to neutralise the positions from which we were
5 being fired at and get our hands on some food and to get as many Muslim
6 villages back as possible in order for people to be able to go back to
7 their homes because Srebrenica was just too small for all of us. Yes. I
8 could hear those comments. Yes.
9 MR. DI FAZIO: Okay.
10 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Di Fazio. You've got more than half an
11 hour left. In fact, you have got 35 minutes.
12 MR. DI FAZIO: Yes. I'm --
13 JUDGE AGIUS: Don't worry if you don't finish today.
14 MR. DI FAZIO: I'm just informing for the Court and for Mr. Jones,
15 I'm just looking at my notes, I think I may finish in the time so --
16 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Okay.
17 MR. DI FAZIO: All right.
18 Q. You -- yesterday you said -- Mr. Jones had asked you questions
19 about the very fact of your going to these sites of actions and you said
20 that the fighters in Srebrenica were opposed -- were opposed to civilians
21 going to such locations.
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Do you remember that?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Okay. In fact, just again to avoid any misunderstandings, I'll
1 read out the testimony word for word. Mr. Jones asked you there question:
2 "And again, as far as you knew or were aware, were the fighters in
3 Srebrenica came that you and other civilians should go to Kravica or were
4 they opposed or were they indifferent? What was the position?"
5 And you said, "They were opposed. The fighters were opposed.
6 First of all, they were even opposed at the idea of launching an action
7 against Kravica but the people insisted, they kept begging them to do
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Might be a typing error. Then it goes on: "You said you have to
11 do something, you must do something, otherwise we'll all starve to death.
12 What is this fate that has befallen us? Nobody actually believed in a
13 good outcome but it was a must. We were forced to do it."
14 You recall that evidence?
15 A. Yes, yes.
16 Q. Did the people --
17 A. Yes. And that's correct.
18 Q. I want to understand that portion of evidence clearly and I'm
19 certainly not seeking to put words in your mouth but are you saying that
20 the idea of an action at Kravica was discussed by the people with the
21 fighters? Is -- am I correct in your understanding -- in my understanding
22 or not?
23 A. Yes. Because there couldn't have been any other contact, any
24 different contact. You wouldn't have been able to find out in any other
25 way. People were putting fighters under pressure. They were saying,
1 allow us to get to Kravica, make sure that we can get some food and for
2 days they would be put under pressure in order to launch this action to
3 enter Kravica in order to make it possible for us to get some food even
4 though we were all afraid that it would be very difficult that there were
5 would no doubt be victims. But it was a matter of life and death and
6 death was basically certain, death from starvation. It was horrific. It
7 was indescribable. And I don't think anyone would have decided to launch
8 this action against Kravica had it not been so horrible because we were
9 all afraid of that. We were certain that it was a real stronghold.
10 Q. Yes, yes. So I'm correct, then, am I, that the situation was so
11 bad it was in the middle of winter, people were starving, it was cold, and
12 all the other terrible conditions that applied, and so the people, by that
13 I gather you mean people in Srebrenica and in the safe -- Bosniaks living
14 in the area, encouraged, urged, the fighting units to attack Kravica to
15 secure food and ward off this starvation that was impending?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. How long did the discussions last or how long was the topic alive,
18 at least in the Srebrenica area?
19 A. Yes. I don't know exactly for how long it went on but this
20 period, this very difficult period, went on from the end of the year, the
21 end of December 1992 and the beginning of 1991 --
22 THE INTERPRETER: Says the speaker.
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] -- in the month of January. I don't
24 know the exact period but it was very long. And then we exhausted all the
25 supplies, babies were dying of hunger. We couldn't even come up with a
1 single spoonful of flour there was no sugar, no salt, no fats of any kind,
2 no spices. As I said, you couldn't even get a single spoonful of flour
3 and this whole mass of people was living there. I don't remember exactly
4 for how long it went on but the situation was certainly horrific.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Di Fazio, we have a little bit of a confusion
6 with the dates leer because reading the transcript it says, "this period,
7 this very difficult period went on from the end of the year, the ends of
8 December 1992, and the beginning of 1991." So I think we need -- when did
9 this --
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. Perhaps I misspoke. Sorry. I
11 meant 1993. If that's my mistake, I do apologise.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Di Fazio.
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] 1993.
14 MR. DI FAZIO:
15 Q. So on this particular occasion it couldn't have been a question of
16 you finding out about the attack on Kravica just shortly before. It was a
17 topic that was being discussed in the community. Am I right?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. All right. And was there any discussion on this occasion as to
20 how you torbari would behave on the day of the attack on Kravica? Was
21 there any discussion with the fighting units, any that you're aware of, at
23 A. I did not hear about anyone talking about how we should behave.
24 Perhaps somebody else knew. Perhaps such conversations took place
25 elsewhere but I myself did not talk to anyone about that. I found out
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 about the attack on that very day when the attack was launched because in
2 the early evening I went to Kravica and basically the attack took place in
3 the morning.
4 Q. All right. Were the commanders of the various fighting units
5 consulted or spoken to about a potential attack on Kravica? If you know.
6 If you don't know, that's fine.
7 A. I don't know. I never talked to anyone.
8 Q. Thank you.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: Perhaps she can tell us actually who took part in
10 these discussions between the members of the people of Srebrenica and the
11 fighters? Were there representatives -- because I would imagine there
12 were representatives from both sides. Are you aware of this? Would you
13 confirm it or not?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] You mean meetings being held or
15 something? No. Perhaps it was in smaller groups. I mean everybody knew
16 a fighter or two. Everybody had someone. I really don't know in what way
17 it was done but I do know that people were clamouring for that. I mean,
18 we just heard about it like we heard about everything else. I don't know
19 specifically of any meetings or any talks having been held. I really
20 don't have any knowledge about that.
21 MR. DI FAZIO: Would Your Honours just give me a moment, please?
22 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes.
23 [Prosecution counsel confer]
24 MR. DI FAZIO: I think I'll be able to wrap it up fairly quickly.
25 Q. Just one last topic I want to speak to you about, ask you
1 questions about. That's the actual -- perhaps two topics I want to spoke
2 to you about. You said when you went back to Bjelovac, on the second day
3 I think it was, that you went back to Bjelovac, that you were at a place
4 called Loznicka and that you went into a house and there you were
5 subjected to some sort of bombing. Do you recall that evidence?
6 A. I think that you either misspoke or that it was translated
7 wrongly. When the action in Bjelovac happened I happened to be in
8 Loznicka Rijeka at the time, not in Bjelovac. I went to Bjelovac the day
9 after the action.
10 Q. Right.
11 A. I don't know if you had that written down.
12 Q. Thank you for that.
13 A. There was shelling in the area of Fakovici as well. I talked
14 about that yesterday. And a shell struck a house where I was getting
15 food. I think you probably have that written down as well.
16 Q. Sorry, again would I ask Your Honours just to given me a moment's
17 indulgence just while I look at the transcript. All right.
18 So on the first day, could you actually see Bjelovac?
19 A. No. I could just hear the fighting going on over there, quite
20 intense fighting.
21 Q. And in fact, you didn't know your way around that area because you
22 hadn't been there before the war, correct?
23 A. Yes. I went with the other people, but I didn't know any of the
24 places myself. Before the war I would take the road through Skelani.
25 That was all. But before the war I didn't really know many of the
1 villages in the area.
2 Q. And when you -- on the second day when you went there, did you
3 actually go into the town of Bjelovac or the hamlet or the village, call
4 it what you will, of Bjelovac, or did you simply go to an area of houses
5 close to what you thought was Bjelovac?
6 A. It was in the area of Bjelovac. I was just in their fields. I
7 assumed that there was no more food in the houses because I had gone the
8 day after. So I went to the fields in the area of Bjelovac. At the time
9 there was firing at Kunjerac, it was the hill of Kunjerac close by, and as
10 I was collecting food, picking corn in a corn field, there was an airplane
11 in action at the same time. I think I mentioned that yesterday.
12 Q. May I show this witness this map and I'd like to seek to tender
13 it. It may be of help in the future as well. Perhaps if it can just be
14 put on the ELMO. I think this map is probably big enough, Madam Hotic,
15 for you to pretty quickly see the area that you're talking about. You see
16 Bjelovac there and Kunjerac?
17 A. Yes, Loznicka Rijeka.
18 Q. All right. Now, looking at that map --
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Looking at that map and seeing where Bjelovac is located and you
21 can see the road going straight through Bjelovac, okay?
22 A. Yes, yes, through Bjelovac, yes.
23 Q. Okay. Now, looking at that map --
24 A. I was here.
25 Q. Okay. Could I ask you, perhaps if I hand you a pen, to mark with
1 a cross the area that you think that you were in on the second day, the
2 second day, not the first day?
3 A. Near these crossroads. That's where the fields were. This
4 intersection leads towards Sase through Zaluzje and Voljavica. This way
5 it's Bjelovac, Sikirici, and the other places. So I was there at this
6 intersection in these fields near the Drina River. That's where I was
7 picking corn. The houses were mostly along the road.
8 Q. Okay?
9 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. Could you please draw a circle around the area
10 where you were saying you were on the day?
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Around here somewhere.
12 MR. DI FAZIO: I don't think the pen works.
13 Thank you, if Your Honours please, I seek to --
14 JUDGE AGIUS: And if you could --
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I spent the night here, somewhere in
16 one of the houses.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: Could you put your initials against or inside that
18 circle, please?
19 MR. DI FAZIO: I got a better pen here if the usher needs it. No?
20 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Shall we give it a number? An exhibit
21 number? I've lost count. This will be P?
22 THE REGISTRAR: This will be P565, Your Honour.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: 565?
24 THE REGISTRAR: Yes.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. P565. Thank you.
1 MR. DI FAZIO:
2 Q. And just to remind you of your evidence, yesterday you said in
3 answer to questions to Mr. Jones that you were in the area of Bjelovac and
4 he asked you if you saw houses in Bjelovac on that day and you said you
5 saw some white houses but you didn't go into any of them, and you didn't
6 notice any signs of burning. I take it that you meant you didn't see any
7 signs of burning on the white houses that you saw in Bjelovac.
8 A. Yes. The houses that I saw were white. I mean, I didn't notice
9 anything else. Had they been burning, they would have looked different.
10 Q. Kravica now. I will be brief. You got to Kravica towards the end
11 of the day, I think, and it was dusk, right?
12 A. In the spring, yes. Sorry, it was dusk yes.
13 Q. Yes. Well, it's -- it was January the 7th, 1993. Just assume it
14 was early January 1993, okay? You may not know the precise date but
15 assume it was early January 1993 it would have been pretty dark, pretty
16 early, wouldn't it, probably got dark, what, around 4.30, 5?
17 JUDGE AGIUS: No, it's later.
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Probably, but there was snow and the
19 visibility was good. It wasn't dark because everything was covered with
20 snow. So I think that provided some additional illumination.
21 MR. DI FAZIO:
22 Q. But you got there in -- I think your words were dusk. I think
23 that's the word that you used yesterday?
24 JUDGE AGIUS: Twilight --
25 MR. DI FAZIO:
1 Q. Twilight or dusk?
2 JUDGE AGIUS: -- was the word used.
3 MR. DI FAZIO:
4 Q. So that's correct, isn't it --
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. -- after walking quite some time in order to get to that location.
7 And in fact you had to make use of the burning haystack in order to see,
8 to help you on your way?
9 A. I didn't have to have the light from the haystack because when I
10 went to the house to get food, I could clearly see the house itself as
11 well as some outbuildings that were around. I could see clearly.
12 Q. Well, now, I think you must be wrong about that. Because
13 yesterday you said -- Mr. Jones asked you, "Did you see any objects which
14 had been on fire," and you said "Hay was on fire but it provided light for
15 us so we could see where we were going. That was the only thing that was
17 So the haystack did provide light for you, didn't it? That's what
18 you said yesterday so I assume that's still so.
19 A. Yes. But not the entire road. That part was lit well. I walked
20 fast. I didn't stay in that place. I didn't ask myself why the hay was
21 burning. I was just on my way to look for food. I passed by a couple of
22 houses. I got to a stream and then I came to a house. It seemed new. It
23 was looking very nice. But I didn't go into the house. Some women went
24 into that house. So it occurred to me just to go to these other
25 buildings, and I found some food there and I collected as much as I could.
1 Q. And then got out of the place as fast as you could, right?
2 A. Of course, I went up the hill, using the same road that had been
3 walked by all the other people. It was busy, people were going to
4 Kravica, returning from Kravica. Everybody was content though they were
5 all carrying food. There was food. We were very happy about that. It
6 was a pleasant surprise for us.
7 Q. So it must have become very quickly night by the time -- on -- by
8 the time -- when you arrived?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. So you wouldn't have had any good view of the houses in Fakovici,
11 would you? Because of the fact it was night time. Sorry, Kravica. My
12 apologies, Kravica.
13 A. When I went home, I didn't look back at Kravica. I just wanted to
14 leave and go up the hill, and I wanted to avoid the shells that were
15 coming from the hill.
16 MR. DI FAZIO: Madam Hotic, thank you for answering my questions.
17 If Your Honours please, that's all.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you.
19 Is there any re-examination Mr. Jones?
20 Re-examined by Mr. Jones:
21 MR. JONES: Yes, a few questions. I think I should be able to fit
22 in depends on whether Your Honours have any questions but I certainly can
23 finish by 1.00.
24 JUDGE AGIUS: I haven't enquired with I think Judge Brydensholt or
25 Judge Eser -- do you have any questions? No.
1 MR. JONES: Yes, I can probably be about ten minutes.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: You can basically take the entire ten minutes left
3 here, if we can send her home without having ...
4 MR. JONES: That would be ideal.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: It's up to you I will not stop you, of course.
6 MR. JONES: Thank you, Your Honour.
7 Q. Ms. Hotic I just have a few questions for you and if you could
8 answer them as concisely as possible then it will be easier to finish in
9 the allotted time.
10 Firstly, you were asked today about houses which were burnt in
11 Srebrenica in May 1992. Just so we are clear about what you mean by
12 Srebrenica, one might consider that Srebrenica starts at the boundary with
13 Potocari and goes right up to Crni Guber or we might consider Srebrenica
14 is just the town itself. When you were talking about burnt houses in
15 Srebrenica, what part of Srebrenica were you talking about?
16 A. Of course I was talking about the urban part of Srebrenica, and
17 that's from the gas station up to the top of the Crni Guber street and to
18 the top of Petrici and Stari Grad. That is the town of Srebrenica. When
19 I'm talking about the Srebrenica villages, then I mean the surrounding
21 Q. Thank you. Now today, and it's just -- for everyone's reference
22 it's page 47 line 18, when speaking about Fakovici, so I'm asking about
23 Fakovici now, you said, quote, or you referred to "firing of bullets from
24 the opposite direction." I just wonder if you can help us with what you
25 meant when you referred to the firing of bullets from the opposite
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 direction in Fakovici. From which direction?
2 A. I meant from which side I was going to enter Fakovici. It was
3 in -- the bullets were coming more from the left side to this part of the
4 road that we needed to cross. So that I and the group of people that I
5 was with did not manage to cross that part of the road because it was
6 exposed to fire. Perhaps it wasn't exposed to fire when some other people
7 were passing there. I don't know where the shooting was coming from.
8 There were bursts of fire, not shells. But you could hear the whizzing
9 sounds of the bullets as they were striking the surface of the road.
10 Q. Okay. Now, you were also asked today about the whole issue of
11 whether civilians going into actions were coordinating their departure
12 time to arrive when the action started. So I just have a few questions on
13 that subject. Firstly, did you - you personally - did you time your
14 arrival at an action at a precise hour, for example you knew that the
15 action would be at 9.30 a.m., and so you arranged to arrive there at 10.00
16 a.m., or you knew it would be at 11.00 a.m., and therefore you planned to
17 be there at 12.00? Was it anything like that precise?
18 A. No. I was never able to know how long I would need to get
19 somewhere. All I knew was that we had to leave early in the morning. I
20 would usually go with my friend Ismeta. I think I talked about that
21 yesterday and there were other people too.
22 Q. So it's not the case that you and thousands of others of you
23 synchronised your watches and planned to all arrive at the same time?
24 A. No.
25 Q. Did many people have watches in Srebrenica in 1992?
1 A. Yes, people did have watches. My husband had two, a pocket watch
2 and a wrist watch. My son had one. Most of the people had watches.
3 Q. Okay. I'll leave that. Now in Kravica you arrived after the
4 action. In Bjelovac you arrived when the action was still going on,
5 Fakovici when the action was still going on. Isn't it -- is it correct
6 that in fact civilians arrived at all different times during an action?
7 They arrived before the action, during the action, and after the action?
8 Is that true?
9 A. Yes, of course. Of course. When I left to go to Kravica, I was
10 already meeting people in Potocari coming back with a full load and they
11 were telling us that there were many things there.
12 Q. The people arrived before the action, is it right or is it not
13 correct that they could actually wait until the action began?
14 A. Of course. Nobody dared to enter a Serb area before.
15 Q. And did people ever actually arrive, even the night before an
16 action? Is that something you're aware of?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. And when you referred to going always in the morning, is it that
19 you were informed on different occasions that an action would be in the
20 morning or you based yourself on the assumption that actions would take
21 place in the morning?
22 A. Actions were usually carried out in the morning. This was common
23 knowledge. So it was like that.
24 Q. Now, you referred or you were referred to the fact of the danger
25 that civilians in actions would interfere with the fighters. Would you
1 agree that you were -- that you collectively, torbari, were a nuisance to
2 fighters if you were present during the fighting?
3 A. Yes. We were aware of that but we had to get food. We couldn't
4 expect the fighters to bring us food, and even if they did bring food they
5 would bring it for themselves. They were not loading the food on trucks.
6 They were carrying it on their backs.
7 Q. Notwithstanding that, civilians were present during the fighting
8 in all these actions; is that correct?
9 A. Yes. After the fighting, afterwards, they would go in.
10 Q. Are you saying that in fact --
11 A. It was the only way to survive. I think that this was
12 characteristics only -- characteristic only for this region during the
13 war. I don't think that it was like that in other places. Perhaps it was
14 but cut off from the main command, without command, without any experts,
15 without a proper army, condemned to death in advance. I think that
16 scientists should study how we fought in order to stay alive. I think
17 that probably this is something that will be examined. I'm sorry for
18 speaking a little bit more about this.
19 Q. Thank you. That's very helpful. It was also put to you that
20 there would need to be coordination between the torbari and fighters in
21 order for civilians to be safe during these actions. Was it actually safe
22 for civilians in any of these actions?
23 A. It was never safe. Each one of us was aware of that but we would
24 pray to God and walk along the road and hope for the best.
25 Q. Thank you. Just a couple more questions. For Kravica, you were
1 asked today about how people were put -- speaking to fighters about
2 attacking Kravica. Is this something which was discussed in a formal
3 setting to your knowledge, were there actually sort of meetings or a
4 congress or was this something that people on the streets -- just
5 discussing among themselves what needs to be done?
6 A. It was in the houses where people were staying, on the street,
7 there was no particular place such as an institution or something where
8 people were gathering together.
9 Q. All right.
10 A. In houses, in the street, wherever we were staying.
11 Q. All right. In relation to that I want to explore this use of the
12 word torbari. It may be a bit like one of those nouns like "the
13 proletariat" which refers to a lumpen mass rather than an actual entity.
14 Let me put it this way: Did you have a spokesman? Was there a spokesman
15 or a representative or a committee or a council of the torbari who would
16 speak with fighters?
17 A. No, no, there was nothing like that. We perhaps called each other
18 that. It was black humour. That's what it was.
19 Q. Would it describe anyone with a bag in an action?
20 A. Yes. You couldn't live without bags. I sewed countless bags from
21 cotton cloth or from parachute fabric. I made so many such bags in the
22 shape of a rucksack or other kinds.
23 Q. Just a couple more questions. You said that there was opposition
24 to attacking Kravica because it was considered so deadly and frightening.
25 Why, then, was a move to attack Kravica if it was such a deadly place,
1 Kravica as opposed to some other location?
2 A. I don't know. Everybody considered it to be a strong Serb or
3 Chetnik stronghold. Kravica was thought to be a dangerous place, even
4 before the war, in peacetime. People did not like to meet people from
5 Kravica. People from Kravica would often provoke quarrels in cafes and so
6 on. Kravica had a reputation for being a Serb or Chetnik stronghold.
7 Bratunac was close by and they were connected with Serbs, with Serbia,
8 they were well-armed. So it was important to us to get food. That was
9 the only reason why we went to Kravica. It was because of hunger, because
10 of food.
11 JUDGE AGIUS: We will continue until we finish. All right? Thank
13 MR. JONES:
14 Q. You mentioned how the action took place on Orthodox Christmas.
15 Did that have any bearing on the amount of food which was expected to be
17 MR. DI FAZIO: If Your Honours please, I don't see how these
18 issues arise out of the cross-examination.
19 JUDGE AGIUS: Not really.
20 MR. DI FAZIO: It's not hugely controversial but I just don't see
21 how it arises.
22 MR. JONES: That's fine. I don't need to insist on that question.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: Anyway, I think it's -- you are right, definitely,
24 Mr. Di Fazio. But on the other hand, it's a more or less harmless
1 MR. DI FAZIO: I know but --
2 MR. JONES: I can move on to another question which is a related
3 point on Kravica.
4 Q. It was put to you that you actually knew of the action beforehand
5 in Kravica because you, the torbari, or civilians, were putting pressure
6 for there to be an action in Kravica. When did you personally actually
7 learn that there was going to be an action in Kravica?
8 A. I found out on the morning of the attack, sometime in the morning.
9 And then I thought first of all, if I could go at all, because it was
10 dangerous. Nevertheless I decided to go and I went there with my friend
11 Ismeta, who was much braver than I, and I didn't make the wrong mistake --
12 I didn't make the wrong decision, because I did collect a lot of food.
13 But I found out about it that morning, because it was known that the
14 action was going to take place but not which day. Perhaps other people
15 found out about that before me. I don't know.
16 Q. All right. Just two final questions. And this is at page 74,
17 lines 3 to 4 of the transcript, and this is referring to Bjelovac. In
18 English, the translation was that you could here of hear the fighting
19 going on over there, quite intense fighting. I believe that in Bosnian
20 you might have said something more like the fighting was terrible. Could
21 you just in a word or two describe the intensity of the fighting in
22 Bjelovac as you could hear it when you were in Loznicka Rijeka?
23 A. Such terrible intensity of the fighting made me think that it
24 would be impossible for people to stay alive there. The earth was
25 shaking. When I managed to reach safer ground in the area of Brezovica,
1 we planned to sit down, Ismeta took out some cheese and peppers and she
2 told me to eat and I told her I couldn't. I was still shaking from the
3 fighting. It was really terrible. The artillery, the airplanes shooting
4 from firearms. I just thought that everything would be destroyed to the
5 ground, and that nobody would manage to survive over there. Some
6 civilians were killed there. I already talked about that horse here. It
7 was really terrible. It was the heaviest fighting that I had ever heard.
8 Q. Thank you. And finally, and sorry if I'm skipping around, but
9 going back to Kravica it was suggested to you essentially that because it
10 was winter and it was dusk, that you weren't able to see objects in
11 Kravica. Were you actually able to see houses, roads, hills, and physical
12 features when you were in Kravica?
13 A. Believe me, I recall the path, I recall the small creek, and the
14 houses. They were very clear. I said there was snow on the ground. It
15 wasn't such a dark night that you couldn't see anything. It was twilight.
16 It wasn't completely dark. I could see the houses were intact. I passed
17 from one house to the next. I even remember a place where meat was being
18 cured. I could even see people taking the smoked meat from that
19 smoke-house. I could see that it was a new house, there was a summer
20 kitchen there. I think that even the summer house had a roof on one side,
21 that there were two doors. In front I found a plastic rope to tie my
22 crate to. And I remember that this rope was blue. It was easy to see it
23 in the snow.
24 Q. All right. And then finally, I take it it's not controversial
25 that of course you can see flames, even when it's dark. You mentioned
1 seeing flames from haystack. Did you see any other flames that day?
2 A. I didn't see flames except at the entrance when I saw that hay. I
3 didn't see anything else burning. Nothing else was burning then, really.
4 People were all over the place and nothing was burning.
5 MR. JONES: Thank you. No further questions.
6 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. I don't have -- we don't have any
7 questions for you, Madam Hotic, which means that we have finished with
8 your testimony here. And that you will not need to come again tomorrow.
9 On behalf of Judge Eser, who for personal reasons had to leave,
10 Judge Brydensholt, and myself, but also on behalf of the Tribunal in
11 general I would like to thank you for having come over to give testimony
12 as a Defence witness in this case. Very soon you will leave this
13 courtroom and I can assure you that you will receive all the assistance
14 you require to facilitate your return back home at the earliest. On
15 behalf of everyone present here, may I wish you a safe journey back home.
16 Thank you.
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you, and thank you for making
18 it possible for me to come and to tell this part of the truth. What I
19 have told you here really is the truth. But if I were to tell you all of
20 my experiences, it would be a lot to talk about. Thank you.
21 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you.
22 [The witness withdrew]
23 JUDGE AGIUS: You can accompany the witness. So the position
24 is --
25 MR. JONES: I was going to mention something about witnesses.
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Let's first let the witness leave the courtroom.
2 Bye-bye, Madam.
3 Yes, Mr. Jones.
4 MR. JONES: Yes, it's just this: That since we are not sitting
5 tomorrow --
6 JUDGE AGIUS: If we need to sit we will sit at well.
7 MR. JONES: It's not -- it's really just to state the approach
8 which we are taking with our witnesses which is that we have one arriving
9 tomorrow who would be testifying next week. If we don't sit on tomorrow,
10 then if we have Monday and Tuesday for the first witness that's scheduled,
11 it's possible that the witness after that will be examined in chief and
12 maybe partly cross-examined on Wednesday but then of course she would be
13 in The Hague, I believe Thursday and Friday and into the next week. We
14 personally don't have a problem with that but we just wanted you to know
15 that that's how we will be approaching it so that -- that lest it be
16 suggested that we shouldn't have started with a witness on Wednesday when
17 it's clear that she might have to go over to the following week. That is
18 the approach we are adopting because we wouldn't want to lose Wednesday as
20 JUDGE AGIUS: The idea was to have the next witness testify
21 tomorrow and Monday.
22 MR. JONES: Current plan, if we were sitting tomorrow.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: Then the next one would sit on Tuesday and
25 MR. JONES: Yes.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Tuesday and Wednesday.
2 MR. JONES: Yes, sorry, precisely so, and if we lose a day there
3 is a possibility she'll go over the break.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: So witness number 2 will be testifying now Monday
5 and Tuesday, I would imagine. Witness number 5 will be testifying
6 Wednesday and Thursday.
7 MR. JONES: Yes, but we are not sitting on Thursday, I think.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: Why aren't we sitting on -- Thursday is the 1st of
9 September. Yeah, we are not sitting on the 1st of September, yeah.
10 MR. JONES: For what it's worth, our estimation of that witness is
11 that she's not going to be unduly distressed by or inconvenienced by
12 remaining here.
13 JUDGE AGIUS: What we could do is this. Let's do it this way:
14 That I haven't seen the summary of that particular witness so I'm not
15 really in a position to gauge whether I would prefer Judge Eser to be
16 present all the time so -- but we could tentatively work on this agenda.
17 I definitely would like Judge Eser to be here for the entire testimony of
18 the next witness. There shouldn't be a problem with the testimony of
19 number 5 if we decide and agree that on the 1st of September we sit, the
20 two of us. In other words, if I see that there is no potential prejudice,
21 then we could start with Judge Eser with us on Wednesday and then continue
22 to sit on Thursday without him.
23 MR. JONES: That's fine with us.
24 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. This is the problem. For the time
25 being, you will need to bear a little bit with us because we have a
1 problem in hand and there are very few options available.
2 MR. JONES: Certainly we are happy.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: I would suggest that we do it that way.
4 MR. JONES: That's perfectly fine with us.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: I'm pretty sure that I will convince Judge Eser to
6 go ahead, for us to go ahead without him. However, I have this caveat: I
7 want to see what that particular witness is going to testify about so
8 that -- because to be honest with you I'm prepared for the next one but
9 I'm not prepared for the other ones. I need to check that. All right?
10 And I will come back to you on Monday when Judge Eser will be back with us
11 in any case.
12 MR. JONES: Yes, and of course, I should say we sympathise with
13 the difficulties of Judge Eser.
14 JUDGE AGIUS: We are trying to ride the -- this as best as we
15 could but it could get, we could have problems. Let's put it like that.
16 We could have problems. So-- which were not anticipated unfortunately.
17 So we will adjourn until Monday.
18 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1.10 p.m.,
19 to be reconvened on Monday, the 29th day of August
20 2005, at 9.00 a.m.