1 Monday, 16 April 2007
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The witness entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 9.05 a.m.
6 JUDGE AGIUS: Good morning, everybody, and welcome back after the
7 short recess. Mr. Registrar, could you call the case, please.
8 THE REGISTRAR: Thank you. Good morning, Your Honours. This is
9 case number IT-05-88-T, the Prosecutor versus Vujadin Popovic et al.
10 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. All the accused are here. From the
11 Defence teams I notice the absence of Mr. Lazarevic, and then the absence
12 of Mr. Sarapa, unless he is hidden behind the column. Prosecution is
13 Mr. McCloskey and Mr. Vanderpuye. Yes. The witness is already in the
14 courtroom, so I will address him straight away.
15 WITNESS: LAZAR RISTIC
16 [Witness answered through interpreter]
17 JUDGE AGIUS: Good morning to you, sir.
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good morning.
19 JUDGE AGIUS: On behalf of the Trial Chamber, my colleagues, and
20 also on behalf of the Tribunal I want to welcome you. You're about to
21 start giving evidence. Before you do so, you're required to make a solemn
22 declaration that you will be testifying the truth. The text is going to
23 be handed to you. It's equivalent to a note. It's an undertaking.
24 Please read it out aloud and that will be your undertaking with us.
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
1 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, sir. Please make yourself comfortable.
3 You're going to be asked questions first by Mr. Vanderpuye, I
4 understand, who I'm sure you have already met, and he will then be
5 followed by the various Defence teams on cross-examination.
6 Mr. Vanderpuye.
7 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. Good morning,
8 Your Honours. Good morning, Counsel.
9 Examination by Mr. Vanderpuye:
10 Q. Good morning, Mr. Ristic. I'm just going to ask you first to
11 state your name for the record, spell your last name if you could.
12 A. Lazar Ristic.
13 Q. Okay. Now, before I start examining you, I'm just going to point
14 out a couple of things. One is to try and keep your voice up so that the
15 interpreters can hear you, and also to allow a short pause between the
16 question and answer so that there is time for the translations to occur so
17 that we can all understand and follow what you say.
18 First I want to ask you, have you had an opportunity to review
19 certain statements that you've made concerning the events of July 1995?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Okay. Now, with respect to those statements, did you review a
22 statement that's dated 8th April 2004?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. And did you review a statement that's dated 23rd of August, 2003?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. And did you review a transcript of an interview that was conducted
2 with the Office of the Prosecutor in October of 2005?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Okay. And aside from certain facts that you may wish to explain
5 or further elaborate upon in your testimony, are you satisfied that with
6 regard to what you actually said that those statements are -- are
8 A. Everything is correct.
9 Q. Now, I'm just going to ask you a few questions by way of
10 background preliminarily. Can you tell us what your current employment is
11 and how long you've been engaged in that occupation?
12 A. I work on maintaining electrical equipment in a factory in Birac.
13 I've been working there for 28 years.
14 Q. Now, can you tell us when it was -- well, first of all, can you
15 tell us when it was that you were first mobilised to the army of Republika
16 Srpska, the VRS?
17 A. First we organised ourselves on our own with the assistance of the
18 Crisis Staff from Zvornik. We organised village guards in various
19 villages starting in April -- and then starting in April 1992, I got
20 involved in the war activities.
21 Q. And can you tell us when it was that you were demobilised?
22 A. June of 1996.
23 Q. And at the time that you were demobilised, can you tell us what
24 your rank was?
25 A. At the time when I was demobilised I was second lieutenant, and I
1 was promoted to that rank in January of 1996.
2 Q. Okay. I just want to go briefly through the various positions
3 that you had while you were active in the VRS, and I wondered if you can
4 tell us what responsibilities and positions you held during your tenure.
5 A. From the 1st of June, 1992, I started as a platoon commander in my
6 town, and then in 1993, in March, I transferred to the battalion command
7 as assistant commander for security. I remained in that post for two
8 years, following which I became assistant commander of the battalion for
9 the 4th Infantry Battalion within the Zvornik Brigade.
10 Q. In your capacity as the assistant commander for security, did you
11 have the opportunity to work with Milorad Trbic?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. And can you tell us in what -- in what way that occurred? What
14 was your relationship professionally with Mr. Trbic?
15 A. Security organ of the battalion had certain tasks in relation to
16 the security service of the brigade. We followed enemy forces which were
17 facing the front part of our defence. In addition to that, we also dealt
18 with the discipline within the unit, took into custody soldiers who
19 deserted or created trouble. So Trbic would occasionally come to the
20 brigade, or he would substitute for the commander, but we didn't come
21 across each other frequently. It was rather rare that we cooperated. We
22 cooperated more with the security chief. We mostly cooperated with him,
23 and if he was absent then with his deputy.
24 Q. Okay. And with respect to Mr. Trbic, can you tell us what his
25 position was at the time, at this time that we're talking about now?
1 A. At the time when he was in the brigade he was deputy or assistant
2 chief for security in the Zvornik Brigade. Either deputy or assistant,
3 something like that.
4 Q. Okay. Now, did you have an opportunity to work with or have
5 contact with Drago Nikolic?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. And this is still in your capacity as an assistant commander for
8 security in the 4th Battalion. Could you tell us what capacity -- in what
9 capacity you had contact with Mr. Nikolic and what your professional
10 relationship was?
11 A. Whenever there was a problem related to that type of work we asked
12 for assistance in the brigade. We turned to the chief of security
13 himself. There were meetings scheduled by him where we discussed problems
14 in various battalions, which is to say that security officers from all
15 battalions would attend those meetings.
16 Q. And the position that was occupied by Mr. Nikolic at that time was
17 what, just so we're clear for the record.
18 A. Chief of security of the Zvornik Brigade.
19 Q. Now, you -- did you have a -- a personal relationship, I would
20 say, with either Mr. Trbic or Mr. Nikolic during that period of time while
21 you were the assistant commander for security?
22 A. It was nothing special, not a special relationship or anything of
23 that sort. We cooperated fairly, and there was no particular
24 relationship. It's just that I worked more with Mr. Nikolic than with
25 Mr. Trbic. I knew Trbic very little because for a long time he was deputy
1 commander in an another battalion and I don't know when exactly he came to
2 the brigade, but he stayed there only shortly while I was with the
3 security organ.
4 Q. Well, I guess what I mean by the question is whether or not you
5 had any opportunity to see them socially, that is, outside of a
6 professional capacity.
7 A. We had no time for socialising. I had a very good relationship
8 with all officers within the brigade, so I treated them all equally.
9 Q. Okay. Now, I think you indicated that at some point you were
10 appointed deputy commander of the 4th Infantry Battalion; is that correct?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Okay. And -- and when was that?
13 A. I can't remember the exact date, but I think it was in March or
14 early April of 1995. At around that time.
15 Q. All right. Now, was that the position that you held in July 1995?
16 A. Yes. Until the 1st of July, 1995. And then on the 1st of July,
17 battalion commander went for training in Banja Luka, where he remained
18 until the 18th of July, at which time he returned in the afternoon on the
19 18th of July. While he was absent, I acted as battalion commander and
20 deputy commander simultaneously, which is to say that nobody was appointed
21 to his position.
22 Q. Now, just so that you can orient us to the scope of your command,
23 the purview of your command, could you tell us how the 4th Infantry
24 Battalion is organised, how it was organised in July of 1995?
25 A. Our area of responsibility of the front end went from Parlog to
1 Pandurica. The battalion command or headquarters was stationed in Rebici,
2 in Baljkovica near the front end of the defence lines. This is also the
3 place where our logistics company was stationed as well as Intervention
4 Platoon, which is to say that everything was in Baljkovica. The task of
5 the battalion was to hold the lines of the front end of defence and to
6 maintain control together with neighbouring battalions, and to cooperate
7 with the brigade which was in Karakaj. That was it.
8 Q. Okay, and can you tell us approximately how many men comprised
9 this battalion?
10 A. I don't have the exact figures, but I think that there were about
11 450 or maybe more soldiers in the battalion.
12 Q. And did the battalion consist of several infantry companies within
14 A. Yes. It had three infantry companies at the defence line. It had
15 an anti-armoured platoon which was known under that name but was similar
16 to an infantry unit. It had 25 people in it.
17 In addition to this, we also had a logistics company, a mortar
18 platoon, an intervention platoon, and the battalion command or
20 Q. And as a deputy commander of this battalion, can you tell us what
21 you were specifically in charge of?
22 A. While the battalion commander was there.
23 Q. While the battalion commander was there, yes.
24 A. Deputy commander of the battalion, when the commander is present,
25 had certain tasks when touring the lines, which was performed on a daily
1 basis. Deputy commander also substituted for the commander when the
2 commander was absent, when the commander was on leave or attended some
4 Q. When the commander was absent was it the responsibility of the
5 deputy commander to assume all of his responsibilities?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. And can you tell us what the responsibilities, therefore, as a
8 commander of a battalion are or would have been at that time?
9 A. Everything that concerns the area of responsibility, the work of
10 the battalion, was something that the battalion commander was responsible
11 for in a way. The entire organisation went through the battalion
12 commander, who was assisted by other members of the battalion.
13 Q. Now, as an acting deputy commander, can you tell us who you were
14 reportable to? Who did you report to?
15 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Bourgon.
16 MR. BOURGON: Thank you, Mr. President. I don't think he ever
17 said acting deputy commander, just for the sake of clarification.
18 MR. VANDERPUYE: He's correct, I misspoke. I'll withdraw it and
19 rephrase it.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, Mr. Bourgon, and you too,
21 Mr. Vanderpuye.
22 MR. VANDERPUYE:
23 Q. As an acting commander -- all right. Let me rephrase the question
25 As a deputy commander when you are assuming the responsibilities
1 of the commander, can you tell us who you were reported -- reportable to?
2 Who do you report to in that capacity?
3 A. To the brigade command. When the battalion commander is absent,
4 the deputy commander takes over his responsibilities, is responsible and
5 receives orders from the brigade command.
6 Q. And during the period that you were responsible for the command of
7 the battalion between the 1st of July, 1995, and the 18th of July, 1995,
8 did you report to the brigade command and receive orders from the brigade
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. And to whom in particular were you responsible?
12 A. To the brigade commander, who also stood in for the brigade
13 commander who was absent in Srebrenica.
14 Q. Okay. And who was that person?
15 A. Major Obrenovic.
16 Q. Is he the individual that stood in for the brigade commander?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. And the brigade commander was whom? The absent brigade commander
19 was whom?
20 A. Lieutenant Colonel Pandurevic.
21 Q. Now, in July when you were standing in for the commander of the
22 battalion, did you receive certain information regarding an operation in
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Okay. Can you tell us what information you received and from whom
1 you received it?
2 A. There was a meeting held at the brigade headquarters. I think it
3 was on the 1st of July. The brigade commander explained at the meeting
4 the work that was to take place in the coming period. He said that he was
5 going to Srebrenica with a certain number of troops and that we were to
6 remain and that Major Obrenovic would be in charge and that we needed to
7 take care of battalions and everything else related to that in normal
8 activities as it was until that time.
9 Q. And in relation to that endeavour, did you assign any men to
10 participate in that operation?
11 A. I did not assign anyone. It's the commander who said that my
12 intervention platoon would be going with them to that area, to Srebrenica,
13 and that they needed to be ready on the 4th of July, and their assembly
14 point would be Konjevic Polje. So they should be ready on the 4th of
15 July, and ready at the assembly point in Konjevic Polje to be ready to go
16 to Srebrenica. And that's what I did. I sent them first home for a
17 couple of days to get ready, and then they went off on that assignment.
18 Q. And were you apprised of what the purpose of that intervention
19 unit was to be, what they were going to be used for specifically?
20 A. I didn't know how that would be done. All I knew was that they
21 were going with him, and I needed no further explanation because they were
22 going to accompany the brigade commander.
23 JUDGE KWON: Mr. Vanderpuye, can I be clear. The brigade
24 commander who presided the meeting of 1st of July, was it Mr. Pandurevic?
25 MR. VANDERPUYE: I think I'll put that to the witness.
1 JUDGE KWON: Thank you.
2 MR. VANDERPUYE:
3 Q. I think you've heard the Judge's question. Perhaps you could --
4 okay. I think you've answered it, but I don't see a translation on the
6 JUDGE AGIUS: In other words, you have to repeat your answer.
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] At that 1st July meeting at the
8 brigade it was Mr. Pandurevic who chaired, the brigade commander.
9 JUDGE KWON: Thank you.
10 MR. VANDERPUYE:
11 Q. Did you receive any further information at a later point with
12 respect to the men that had been assigned -- well, not assigned, I should
13 say that went with the brigade commander?
14 A. We received information through a cable by our signalsman, through
15 radio signals, that on the 6th of July the attack on Srebrenica had begun.
16 We also received a telegram saying that Srebrenica was taken on the 17th
17 of July, and that's all the information we received at the battalion from
18 the area of operations.
19 Q. I see in the record here that you received a telegram saying that
20 Srebrenica was taken on the 17th of July. Is that your recollection or is
21 that a mistranslation?
22 A. I think it was a misinterpretation; I said the 11th of July.
23 Q. All right. If I could just refer you to the 12th of July, 1995.
24 Now, on that day did you have the opportunity to assign an intervention
25 squad to the area of Tisova Kova [sic]?
1 A. On the 12th of July I received a telegram from the brigade
2 instructing me to form a platoon out of companies that were deployed on
3 the front end of the defence line and send them in the evening to
4 Tisova Kosa, and that's what I did. I communicated to company commanders
5 to send me six, seven soldiers each depending on how many they could
6 afford and that these men should report to the brigade command. I
7 explained it was an order from the brigade command geared at preventing a
8 rear attack on our defence line because the assumption was that certain
9 forces from Srebrenica could get through and jeopardise our line of
10 defence. When these people arrived, around 20 of them, there were
11 ordinary people from companies. For the sake of security I sent our man
12 from the command, one signalsman, to be with them. That man was slightly
13 more capable than the rest of them, and he was named leader to keep a line
14 of communication during that assignment.
15 Q. And could you just tell us approximately how many men you sent
16 into that area?
17 A. Around 20, plus that man from the battalion command and the
18 signalsman. And the signalsman had a RUP 12 device.
19 Q. And it was your understanding at the time you sent these men into
20 that area that they were sent there because the area was in fact
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Did you receive any information from the brigade command later on
24 that evening, that is, the evening of the 12th of July, regarding the
25 movement of the Muslims coming out of Srebrenica?
1 A. Sometime after 2100 hours the operations officer on duty called us
2 to tell us the large number of members of the Muslim army from Srebrenica,
3 along with civilians, had set out towards Crni Vrh. They could not
4 intercept them, and they could not divert them. I mean, members of the
5 brigade led by Major Obrenovic. We received a dispatch from the brigade
6 that they would be moving through -- through fields towards Nezuk.
7 Q. Okay. And what was the position of the brigade in response to
8 this advance by the Muslim members of the army and civilians from
10 A. Nobody told us much about that except for that telegram that
11 arrived from the brigade telling us about the route of their movement.
12 Nobody gave us any other information.
13 Q. Did you have a planned response to that information within your
15 A. Since in that period we did not have a brigade commander and the
16 chief of staff was busy with that interception, we up at the battalion did
17 not have occasion to discuss these events. Instead, we had to organise
18 our defence ourselves, as well as the work of the battalion as best we saw
20 Q. Okay. Now, in the translation here I see that you have a
21 reference to the chief of staff and also that he was busy with an
22 interception. I just wondered if we could just clarify that so that it's
23 clear on the record.
24 When you say the chief of staff, whom are you referring to?
25 A. Major Obrenovic.
1 Q. And when you say that he was busy with that interception, can you
2 just describe what it is you mean by that?
3 A. I think I called the duty operations officer, because in the
4 presence of the commander and the chief of staff the battalions first
5 talked to the duty operations officer, and if we needed to speak to the
6 chief of staff or the commander of the brigade, we first requested all
7 information from the duty operations officer, and therefore on that
8 occasion since I assumed that could be dangerous for my battalion as well,
9 I asked to speak to the chief of staff and I was told that he was in the
10 area of Snagovo and that he was not available. So after that I didn't
11 even ask to communicate with him any more.
12 Q. And, sir, when you say "interception" do you mean that that was
13 some kind of military operation with respect to confronting the -- the
14 Muslims coming out of Srebrenica, the column?
15 A. I don't know how he was going about it, but I know that he was not
17 Q. All right. Let me draw your attention to the 13th of July if I
18 could. Now, you've indicated previously that the 4th Battalion had a
19 mortar platoon. Is that right?
20 A. A mortar platoon.
21 Q. Yes, a platoon.
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Okay. And did you receive any information with regard to that
24 platoon from the brigade command on the 13th of July?
25 A. On the 13th of July, I was informed from the brigade that a
1 platoon was coming to my aid, a platoon from the 3rd infantry battalion to
2 the Motovo intersection and Grujici location. They were supposed to help
3 out with the security support provided to the mortar platoon. When the
4 commander of the mortar platoon notified me they had arrived, I told them
5 to come to see me personally. I gave them code-names for communications.
6 And together with the commander of the mortar platoon I deployed them at
7 the location above Krizevacke Nijve, divided into three groups, and they
8 had received their assignment, namely to prepare for defence by means of
9 making fortifications and shelters in case there should be combat.
10 Q. Now, can you tell us approximately how many men were assigned --
11 well, were sent to that area?
12 A. I didn't count them, but I think there were no more than 25.
13 Twenty to 25.
14 Q. And were they sent to you because the battalion was unable or
15 incapable at that time of protecting the mortar platoon through its own
16 devices, its own men?
17 A. It's not I who requested them. It was an assessment of the people
18 from the brigade that I could use them. Maybe I could have a protected my
19 mortar platoon with my own platoon, the one that had been busy making
20 ambushes at Tisova Kosa. But instead I was just informed that men had
21 arrived to assist us.
22 Q. And when those men arrived, I think you indicated they were from
23 the 3rd Infantry Battalion; is that right?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. And when they arrived did they then fall under your command as the
1 persons standing in for the commander of the 4th Battalion?
2 A. Yes. As soon as they came to see me, when I gave them code-names
3 so that they should be part of our radio network system, they were under
4 my direct command from that point on. And on that day I deployed them.
5 And if they had stayed, they would be within my jurisdiction and under my
6 command because they were within my zone of responsibility, manning
7 mortars that belonged to my platoon.
8 Q. Now, let me draw your attention to the 14th of July, if I could.
9 Do you remember the events of that day?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. And on that day did you have the occasion to send an intervention
12 battalion to the Snagovo area?
13 A. That morning, following orders from Major Obrenovic, I sent a
14 platoon from the 3rd Infantry Battalion to the area of Snagovo to report
15 to Major Obrenovic.
16 Q. Do you recall how you received that order from Major Obrenovic?
17 A. I can't remember after all this time through what kind of
18 communications and how, but I know for sure that the order came from
19 Major Obrenovic.
20 Q. Is it possible that you could have had a conversation with the
21 major the morning of the 14th?
22 A. I can't recall that kind of detail, because we had dedicated
23 signalsmen who were on duty at the battalion, and we just received
24 telegrams from them, or calls, and I can't remember whether it was through
25 the RUP 12 device or otherwise, because it's the signalsmen who were in
1 charge of that.
2 Q. Can I ask you generally did you have occasion to speak to or
3 communicate, I should say, with Major Obrenovic at any other time on the
4 14th of July?
5 A. I did not. Not that I remember. In fact, I don't think that we
6 had any contact at all until the afternoon of the 15th when he came to the
7 battalion command personally. If there had been any talks, that could
8 have been only in the form of orders being passed through signalsmen.
9 Q. Now, with respect to your recollection of this order to assign
10 these men to the Snagovo area, was there anything else, according to your
11 recollection, that was discussed or information that was exchanged?
12 A. With Major Obrenovic?
13 Q. Yes, with Major Obrenovic.
14 A. I don't remember we talked that day.
15 Q. Are you aware whether or not Major Obrenovic had any communication
16 or his signalsman had any communication with a signalsman who was assigned
17 to you or was with you?
18 A. I read his statement, and I think he was trying to defend himself
19 by shifting the buck to someone else. I don't remember that he talked to
20 me, although I do remember all conversations. Maybe not in all details.
21 But if he had talked to my signalsman while I was away in Orahovac, I
22 believe that upon my return, my signalsman would have told me if
23 Major Obrenovic had called. But since that didn't happen, I don't believe
24 that he had in fact called. So I don't think that he actually talked to
25 me on that day the way he put it.
1 Q. Okay. Now, do you recall actually having inquired with your
2 signalsman about any communications that may have occurred in your
4 A. There was no need for me to inquire, because whatever they
5 received, whatever information they received, they would pass it on to the
6 commander or whoever was in charge in the commander's absence. So there
7 must have been nothing to report to me, because I don't believe he would
8 have forgotten or omitted to let me know. And in fact, if I had talked to
9 Major Obrenovic on the 14th, I would have had quite a few questions for
10 him. But I don't remember we talked, especially since Major Obrenovic
11 claimed that he didn't know anything about those events, although he later
12 admitted that he did. And why would he have inquired with me, who knew
13 nothing about all that?
14 Q. Well, having read his statement, were you aware that he made a
15 reference to the term "Zoljani"?
16 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Bourgon.
17 MR. BOURGON: Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, I believe
18 that we're going way beyond the scope of what is supposed to be obtained
19 as evidence in chief from this witness. This witness, we have a summary,
20 he is supposed to testify about Orahovac. Now, in my cross-examination I
21 do plan on getting into those areas, but I don't think it's the time now
22 to ask questions about a statement that the witness might have read. The
23 witness is here to testify as to what he knows, what he saw, and what he
24 heard at that time, and not to testify as to what he heard, although I
25 will in my cross-examination get into those areas. Thank you,
1 Mr. President.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, Mr. Bourgon. On the other hand, we
3 still don't know what the question is going to be. So let's hear what --
4 hear the question first and then we'll -- we'll decide whether you have a
5 point or not.
6 Yes, could you repeat or finalise your question, Mr. Vanderpuye.
7 MR. VANDERPUYE: Okay.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: So far you've just referred the witness to the
9 Obrenovic statement which according to you he makes reference to the
10 term "Zoljani."
11 MR. VANDERPUYE: That's my question in total.
12 Q. Are you aware of that, is my question?
13 A. The term "Zoljani" is familiar.
14 Q. Just so that the record is clear, could you tell the Court what
15 that term refers to?
16 A. Maybe it would be a good idea if you could read out to me that
17 statement of his so that I could clarify. There are other ones except
19 JUDGE AGIUS: Definitely we would stand in the way. Just restrict
20 yourself, as you have already done, to putting to the witness the meaning
21 of the term "Zoljani." And either you know what it means or you don't
22 know what it means. You don't need to refer to anybody's statement in
23 order to explain what Zoljani means. If you don't know what it means tell
24 us you don't know. Say so.
25 MR. VANDERPUYE:
1 Q. All right. Are you in a position to answer the President's
2 question? Do you know what the term means?
3 A. Zoljani was an intervention platoon of our 4th Battalion.
4 Q. And can you tell us where the intervention platoon was based?
5 A. While we were at Baljkovica that platoon was based in a house near
6 the command. When we were in Kitovnice they were again close to the
7 command. When the command was at the beginning in Orahovac, they were
8 once again close to the command.
9 Q. Now, are you aware of whether or not Major Obrenovic made any
10 statement relating to information that you had about Orahovac on the 14th
11 of July?
12 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Bourgon.
13 MR. BOURGON: Mr. President, the witness is here to testify about
14 what he heard, what he saw when he was on the ground in July 1995. Not a
15 to what he knows whether there was a statement made or not. That's not
16 what he's here for.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: Just one moment. I'll consult with my colleagues,
19 [Trial Chamber confers]
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. Objection sustained, Mr. Bourgon.
21 MR. VANDERPUYE:
22 Q. Well, let me ask you this: You indicated that you had read
23 Major Obrenovic's statement; is that right?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. And you indicated that your assessment of it was that maybe he was
1 trying to shift the blame; is that fair?
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Bourgon.
3 MR. BOURGON: Same objection, Mr. President. That's not why the
4 witness is here. The witness is here to testify about what he saw, what
5 he heard in Orahovac, and I ask that my colleague be stopped from asking
6 those questions.
7 JUDGE AGIUS: One moment. I need to -- do you wish to respond to
8 that, Mr. Vanderpuye?
9 MR. VANDERPUYE: I do wish to respond to it, yes.
10 JUDGE AGIUS: It's a little bit different from the previous
11 question, but still there is a point that has been made by Mr. Bourgon
12 that needs to be decided.
13 MR. VANDERPUYE: Okay. If I may respond.
14 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, please.
15 MR. VANDERPUYE: Well, there are two issues that are at play.
16 First of all, it has to do with the witness's -- could I have the witness
17 remove his headphones, because I think it would be inappropriate to make
18 this argument in front of him.
19 JUDGE AGIUS: But -- one moment. Ask him to put the --
20 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, Your Honour, please.
21 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. Sorry about that. Ask him to put the
22 headphones on again.
23 Mr. Ristic, do you understand English?
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. You can now remove your headphones.
1 Yes, Mr. Vanderpuye.
2 MR. VANDERPUYE: There are two points that I wish to raise. One
3 is that we anticipate fully that the Defence intends to explore certain
4 differences in the information that will be or has been related by
5 Major Obrenovic as concerns the knowledge of this witness concerning the
6 events of Orahovac on the 14th. I think Mr. Bourgon has alluded to that
7 in his prior objection. Therefore, I think it is a relevant point to
8 explore with the witness.
9 The second reason that it's important is that to the extent that
10 the witness perceives that statement as having been an attempt by a
11 witness to be called by the Prosecution to shift the blame from himself or
12 from someone else to this witness, it influences this witness's testimony
13 and to that extent it is directly relevant to his credibility and the way
14 to which his testimony or -- or the weight attributed to his testimony by
15 the finder of fact. So I think on both grounds the -- the question is
16 appropriately put, and the answer is both probative and material to this
17 witness's testimony.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. Yes, Mr. Bourgon.
19 MR. BOURGON: Mr. President, in reply to my colleague's arguments,
20 the fact that some issue is likely to be raised during cross-examination
21 doesn't make an issue relevant for examination-in-chief. The fact that
22 the witness -- my colleague says that this might have an impact on the
23 credibility of the witness, credibility during examination-in-chief is
24 something for the Trial Chamber to examine and to assess, and credibility
25 is something for the Defence, if the Defence wishes, to take or at least
1 to challenge the credibility of the witness, then we can raise some
2 issues. It's not for the Prosecution at this stage to raise issue, to
3 challenge the credibility of his witness.
4 Once again I recall that this witness was called to testify on
5 precise issues. Those issues will arise soon. We have been given a
6 summary, a Rule 65 ter summary. So far, we have not complained even
7 though everything that has been said so far, none of it, is in the Rule 65
8 ter summary. Normally we would have objected to that because he's not
9 supposed to go beyond the Rule 65 ter summary but we didn't complain
10 because this witness is here and he's talking about things that he saw on
11 the ground, that he perceived on the ground, that he heard on the ground.
12 Now, for my colleague to get into his feeling concerning a statement of
13 somebody else, that's not proper during examination-in-chief.
14 So for all these reasons I simply ask that my colleague be stopped
15 from asking these questions and we limit ourselves to the knowledge of the
16 witness, what he had heard and what he saw in July of 1995, and whatever
17 his relationship was with Major Obrenovic or with anybody else at that
18 time, then that is correct, but for the rest he should be stopped. Thank
19 you, Mr. President.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: I notice that you seem to indicate that in your
21 opinion the -- to indicate that according to you the Prosecution at this
22 stage is trying to challenge -- this is how it appears in the
23 transcript: "It is not for the Prosecution at this stage to raise issue
24 to challenge the credibility of his witness." I understood Mr. Vanderpuye
25 to be doing exactly the opposite. I understood him to be making reference
1 to statements by Obrenovic, putting them to the witness, particularly in
2 the areas where Obrenovic supposedly tries to shift the responsibility
3 from him onto the witness so that, through this series of questions and
4 answers, the Prosecution will seek, rather, to uphold the credibility of
5 the witness, rather, not challenge it. This is how I understand it. I
6 mean --
7 MR. BOURGON: Mr. President, my reply was directed at what my
8 colleague said at page 22, at lines 15 to 18, and may I cite from my
9 colleague: "The second reason that it's important is that to the extent
10 that the witness perceives the statement as having been an attempt by a
11 witness to be called by the Prosecution to shift the blame from himself or
12 from someone else to this witness, it influences this witness's testimony
13 and to that extent it is directly relevant to his credibility."
14 That's not what we're trying to get during examination-in-chief.
15 During examination-in-chief, we're trying to get what the witness knows
16 and what he has -- what he has heard and what he has seen when he was in
17 July of 1995 with -- in his capacity as commander of the 4th Battalion.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. Final -- thank you, Mr. Bourgon. Final
19 remarks from you very briefly, Mr. Vanderpuye, please.
20 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. Very briefly, I think
21 my colleague's arguments while maybe well-intended is not well-guided. I
22 think it is entirely up to the trier of fact to have the opportunity to
23 put in context the testimony of a witness who is before it, whose
24 credibility and the weight to which it will attach certain things is
25 critical. And I don't think that the Prosecution should be put in a
1 position of putting an automaton on the stand and pressing a button and
2 playback, rather to present to the Trial Chamber a complete picture of the
3 witness so that the Trial Chamber can make a well-founded assessment as to
4 the weight to attach to this witness's testimony, and indeed in this case
5 to the extent that involves a future Prosecution witness the weight to
6 attach that witness's testimony as well. So it's entirely relevant to the
7 proceedings, it is entirely relevant to the matter at issue which is the
8 subject matter of the 65 ter summary.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: Right. The whole point as I see it now I will
10 confer with my colleagues.
11 Yes, Mr. Meek.
12 MR. MEEK: Yes, Mr. President, Your Honours. First off, we would
13 join Mr. Bourgon's argument, but secondly I'm a little confused. Is the
19 (redacted) One of them is got to be not speaking the
20 truth from what I hear coming from the Prosecution.
21 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay, thank you. Let me confer --
22 MR. HAYNES: Mr. Meek has just posed the question that I think is
23 essential to this debate. I think Mr. Vanderpuye needs to address the
24 question: Is he attacking the credibility of his own witness now or is he
25 seeking to bolster it?
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. Thank you. Usually we allow -- when there
2 are more than one counsel -- is there any objection on the Defence side to
3 give the floor to Mr. McCloskey?
4 MR. HAYNES: Yes.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. You have to remain silent, Mr. McCloskey.
6 Perhaps while -- while we are conferring you may confer with
7 Mr. Vanderpuye.
8 [Trial Chamber confers]
9 JUDGE AGIUS: So we've come to -- one moment, because I was
10 marking something here, and I forgot what it was now.
11 We have decided as follows: We uphold the objection by
12 Mr. Bourgon -- or from Mr. Bourgon, and we direct you as follows: That
13 you put to the witness questions which will elicit his version of events,
14 events that others may be testifying upon but reference only to the events
15 and not to possible evidence by other people. That's number one. And
16 secondly, of course, your rights to put further questions on redirect, if
17 that's the case, are being saved. So that's the position.
18 He needs -- he understood me. Okay. Thank you for being patient
19 with us, Witness. Thank you.
20 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. What I had wanted to
21 say just before you decided this issue, and I don't think it's an issue
22 that concerns -- is that the Prosecution's position is that we feel that
23 it would be appropriate for the Court just to be aware that there are at
24 times differences in the testimony of witnesses and that's the reason why
25 it was raised.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: But I mean, we are familiar to the same kind -- we
2 are familiar to the same kind of procedure. I know -- practically all of
4 MR. VANDERPUYE: Very well.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: If the credibility of this witness is attacked on
6 cross-examination, you have every opportunity to put further questions on
7 redirect to counter -- counteract that.
8 MR. VANDERPUYE: Okay. That's no problem there. All right.
9 Okay. Thank you for bearing with me.
10 Q. Thank you, Witness. You remember the events of the 14th of July,
11 1995, you'd indicated previously; is that right?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. And did you at some point during that day become aware of certain
14 things going on in Orahovac?
15 A. On the 14th of July, the afternoon, a soldier from the 2nd Company
16 of my battalion came looking for me. He was originally from Orahovac. He
17 asked me what was going on in Orahovac, that I didn't want to talk to them
18 about what was going on. They had heard from a soldier who went to
19 Orahovac via Potocari [as interpreted]. He went to the upper portion of
20 Orahovac, and he saw there a large number of people assembled by the
21 school in Orahovac.
22 The soldier who came looking for me, the one who was from the
23 2nd Company, told me, "We want to abandon our positions and go and defend
24 our wives and children." I told him that I would verify what was going
25 on, that I was unaware of anything, and that I would get back to them, and
1 that's what I did.
2 Q. Do you recall the --
3 JUDGE AGIUS: One moment. Mr. Bourgon.
4 MR. BOURGON: Mr. President, I'm sorry to interrupt but this time
5 I wait until the witness finished his answer. I believe he said Potocani
6 and not Potocari. It makes a difference, Potocani is close to the area of
7 Baljkovica, and I think we can clarify with the witness he said Potocani
8 and not Potocari. Thank you, Mr. President.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. Mr. Ristic, you have heard what Mr. Bourgon
10 has just stated, that you had mentioned Potocani and not Potocari?
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] There is a village near Baljkovica,
12 a Muslim village, that was destroyed, and it's called either Potocari or
13 Potocani. You can see it on the map. I'm not sure if it's an R or an N.
14 JUDGE AGIUS: So but -- but let's make this clear. Previously in
15 answering Mr. Vanderpuye's question you said, "On the 14th of July, the
16 afternoon, a soldier from the 2nd Company of my battalion came looking for
17 me. He was originally from Orahovac. He asked me what was going on in
18 Orahovac, that I didn't want to talk to them about what was going on.
19 They had heard from a soldier who went to Orahovac via," or via Potocari
20 or Potocani. This is the small -- whatever the name is, this is the small
21 Muslim village that had been destroyed. Is this what you're referring to?
22 Or were you referring to Potocari, the town that you referred to earlier
23 on in your --
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I was referring to the village near
25 Baljkovica, a small village that was destroyed, and it's called Potocani
1 if the other place is called Potocari.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. Go ahead, Mr. Vanderpuye. I think it's clear
3 enough now.
4 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President.
5 Q. I think I was about to ask you what the name of the soldier was
6 who sought you on the 14th. Do you recall his name?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. Okay. Can you tell us what it is, please?
9 A. He called me on the phone from the positions. He didn't come
10 looking for me personally. He called me on the phone from his trench
11 where his company was.
12 Q. Okay. And do you recall his name?
13 A. Yes. Jovo Vidovic.
14 Q. And you indicated that you would look into this matter; is that
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. And can you just tell us what you did in order to look into this
19 A. The first thing I did was to call the duty service in the brigade.
20 I asked them what was going on in Orahovac. They told me, "Just do your
21 work. This is no business of yours."
22 Q. Do you recall who he spoke to at the duty service, as you've
24 A. I didn't recognise the voice. I asked for Major Obrenovic, and he
25 told me that he was in Snagovo sector. I didn't recognise the voice, and
1 I don't think that I spoke to that person any longer.
2 Q. And when you say "duty service," and perhaps it's a translation
3 issue, are you referring to it a duty officer or duty operations officer?
4 A. The duty service within the brigade had a duty operations officer
5 and an assistant. They were located near all of the offices of the
6 operations service and near the commander. So it is possible that one of
7 those people answered the phone and that the duty officer had gone out, or
8 perhaps that was the deputy of the duty officer. I didn't really care who
9 answered the phone, because I called the brigade command. And it couldn't
10 have been just anybody from the street sitting in the office of the duty
11 service. It could have been only one of the officers working there.
12 Q. Do you know who was assigned as the duty operations officer at
13 that time or the duty officer that day?
14 A. I know that that evening Major Jokic, who was the duty officer,
15 called me. He inquired about the situation in the battalion and told me
16 that large columns of Muslims from Srebrenica were on their way towards
17 Baljkovica, that we should take care. I know that Jokic called me that
18 evening. I knew his voice. But on that day it wasn't him, definitely not
19 him. I knew him because he's from the same town as I am, and he
20 frequently called to inquire about the situation precisely because of
22 Q. Okay. So you -- okay. Now, I think you indicated that you asked
23 for Major Obrenovic. Is that right?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Were you able to find out where he was?
1 A. The duty officer conveyed to me that he was in the Snagovo sector
2 and that he was busy intercepting those columns. I understood that he
3 wasn't available, and I stopped asking to speak to him. And the reason I
4 called in was to inquire about what was going on. Then I told my people
5 that I would check what was going on, that they should not leave their
6 positions. And I called a civilian from Orahovac who worked in a shop to
7 inquire with her whether she knew what was going on by the school in
8 Orahovac. She told me that prisoners had been brought to the school and
9 that one of our soldiers from our battalion who was from Orahovac, that
10 the prisoners grabbed a rifle from him and that the security men managed
11 to get the situation under control and avoid any incidents.
12 Following that, Major -- or, rather, Captain Trbic called me
13 saying that -- asking, rather, to send him a dozen people to assist with
14 the -- with providing security at the school because the prisoners were
15 about to break out from the school. I did as he asked. I called the
16 people on the positions, telling them that some prisoners had arrived
17 there and that I had sent a dozen people or so to assist with the security
18 around the school so as to avoid the prisoners from breaking out and
19 dispersing throughout the village.
20 MR. VANDERPUYE: I think this is a good point to stop.
21 JUDGE AGIUS: So we will have a 25-minute break starting from now.
22 Thank you.
23 --- Recess taken at 10.30 a.m.
24 --- On resuming at 11.00 a.m.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Vanderpuye, you may proceed.
1 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President.
2 Q. Good afternoon again, Mr. Ristic. You'd indicated that you'd made
3 a phone call to an individual who told you about prisoners being brought
4 to the school. Just so the record is clear, could you tell us who that
5 person is?
6 A. Mara Matic.
7 Q. You also indicated that she mentioned something about one of the
8 prisoners or prisoners having grabbed a rifle from a soldier from your
9 battalion. Can you tell us who that soldier was, if you know?
10 A. Gojko Simic.
11 Q. Now, can you tell us what Mr. Simic's position was in your
13 A. Mr. Simic had been the commander of the Orahovac Company for a
14 long time before he was replaced at his own request due to some personal
15 problems he had, and from that time on he was a regular soldier in the 2nd
16 Company of the 4th Battalion.
17 Q. Now, were you aware that Mr. Simic was in the vicinity of the
18 school on the 14th of July? Were you aware that he was there prior to
20 A. No, I was not. The first time I heard about it was from that
21 woman. She told me that he was there, but he had been absent from the 1st
22 to the 15th of July because he needed to see his son off to the army. And
23 along with him another eight members of the 4th Battalion were absent for
24 the same reason.
25 Q. Now, the other eight members of the 4th Battalion, do you know
1 whether or not any of those members were in and around the area of the
2 school in Orahovac on the 14th of July?
3 A. I don't know that any of them were there.
4 Q. Do you know if someone by the name of Risto Trifkovic, first, was
5 in your battalion, and, second, if he was in the area of Orahovac on the
6 14th of July?
7 A. I don't know where he was, but I think he was supposed to be with
8 the battalion. It all depends on what his deployment was. I don't know
9 where Trifkovic was.
10 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Bourgon.
11 MR. BOURGON: Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, I just
12 note that the Prosecution is asking questions according to a name, Risto
13 Trifkovic; first time we hear this name. Whether in all the statements
14 that were provided by this witness or the Rule 65 ter summaries or
15 anything in the indictment or anything in the pre-trial brief, first time
16 we hear this name. If the Prosecution has information concerning this
17 individual it would be nice if it could be disclosed to the Defence
18 counsel before a question is asked of a witness. Thank you,
19 Mr. President.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Your comments, Mr. Vanderpuye.
21 MR. VANDERPUYE: I would like to defer to my colleague,
22 Mr. McCloskey, to answer this question with the Court's permission.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: This is different.
24 Mr. McCloskey.
25 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you.
1 MR. McCLOSKEY: And out of an abundance of caution, it's probably
2 best that the witness take his headphones off.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay.
4 Witness. Mr. Ristic. Mr. Ristic.
5 Yes, Mr. McCloskey.
6 MR. McCLOSKEY: We -- we have -- you may recall the testimony of
7 an Orahovac survivor who spoke of recognising the voice of Gojko Simic.
8 It's a long time ago, but -- and you may recall the evidence where that
9 survivor had heard the -- Gojko Simic referring to someone as Risto and
10 someone as Vojo. So all we're doing here is bringing out that there are
11 people with that first name in his battalion, and I will endeavour to see
12 if there -- we do have some statements from these folks, at least one of
13 them, that we should have provided the Defence. We will make sure that we
14 have or, if we haven't, we will do it at the break. And -- but this is
15 just merely to determine that the identity of -- to remind us that there
16 were these two first names that were mentioned to show that there were
17 people with those first names in that battalion. That's all that this is
18 for, but we will provide statements because they do -- I don't think
19 they -- they may not agree with the survivor of being there. I don't
20 recall exactly, but we'll check and make sure we give that to the Defence.
21 JUDGE AGIUS: But if I understood Mr. Bourgon well, it's the
22 combination of the name and surname that he's referring to, not just the
23 existence of a Risto, but also this Risto being Risto Trifkovic.
24 MR. McCLOSKEY: Yes, but we, of course, didn't want to just ask
25 the witness if -- there was this person by the name of a first -- just the
1 first name, so we gave the full name just so it was -- made more sense,
2 and so the statement that the Defence has makes more sense.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: But I don't think this question arises off-the-cuff.
4 Was the name of Risto Trifkovic put to the witness when he was being
5 proofed already, or -- no. I see Mr. Vanderpuye denying that. Yes.
6 MR. VANDERPUYE: Indeed I was shaking my head. No, the name
7 wasn't put to the witness previously.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. Mr. Bourgon, do you wish to add anything? At
9 this stage I don't think it's case but --
10 MR. BOURGON: I just think they should tell us in advance if
11 they're going to try to do something with the witness. This we're taken
12 by surprise once again, and we don't feel it's appropriate.
13 JUDGE AGIUS: But I assume even the witness is being taken by
15 MR. McCLOSKEY: Your Honour, we can't choreograph every detail and
16 this -- these, Risto and Vojo, have been part of the history of this case
17 for many years, as has the Orahovac Company roster. So this is not a
18 mystery and this is -- there's nothing new here.
19 JUDGE AGIUS: The understanding is, if you have dug up fresh
20 information that points to a certain Risto Trifkovic, then you will pass
21 on the information to the Defence teams.
22 MR. McCLOSKEY: Yes, and we should have done that if we haven't,
23 and I agree with Mr. Bourgon on that and I will double-check.
24 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you, Mr. McCloskey.
25 And Mr. Vanderpuye, do you -- yeah, but anyway, the question has
1 been put and he has answered it already, so I don't know what -- whether
2 you -- if it's the case of proceeding with another question on this or
3 whether to proceed with some other question.
4 MR. VANDERPUYE: As you can imagine, I have a question relating to
5 the Vojo part of the Risto --
6 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay.
7 MR. VANDERPUYE: -- so I would ask if the witness could put his
8 headphones back on. Okay. All right. Thank you.
9 Q. Do you have somebody by the name of Vojo Matic in your battalion?
10 A. I think he was there.
11 Q. You think he was there. Where?
12 A. In the battalion.
13 Q. Okay. And do you know if he was in the area in and around
14 Orahovac on the 14th of July?
15 A. I had no knowledge about the whereabouts of that man.
16 Q. Now, with respect to Gojko Simic, did you ever have an opportunity
17 to discuss with him his whereabouts on the 14th at a later time?
18 A. Gojko Simic got killed near the battalion command on the 15th or
19 the 16th. At any rate, he'd got killed. So I had no occasion to talk to
20 him. I would have probably discussed those matters with him, but as I
21 said, he was killed.
22 Q. All right. Now, I think you had, before the break, indicated that
23 you had received a call from Milorad Trbic. Is that right?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. And could you just tell us the circumstances surrounding that call
1 and what was discussed?
2 A. He only requested assistance in the form of ten men, and he said
3 the prisoners were about to break out from the schoolhouse. I didn't ask
4 him anything else, and he didn't tell me anything else. My understanding
5 was that there were prisoners in the schoolhouse and that the place needed
6 security, and without knowing exactly how many there were or what the
7 problem was, I sent some men there, some men that had been busy in
8 ambushes during the night and were at the command during the day.
9 The order had come from the command, and I must have been the
10 first, the closest person around, so he requested that assistance from me.
11 Q. And did he convey to you that the order had come from the command
12 during that -- during that telephone conversation?
13 A. He didn't tell me anything except what I've just described, and I
14 didn't ask him anything else.
15 Q. Okay. So as far as you're concerned, was this a direct order from
16 Mr. Trbic?
17 A. It didn't sound like an order. It was a request for assistance.
18 He didn't issue me an order. He told me to send him 10 men to help out
19 with the prisoners who were about to break out from the school.
20 I sent my men and called up those people there, telling them that
21 I would keep in touch and tell them what's going on, and that I had sent
22 10 men for assistance.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Vanderpuye.
24 After you received this communication or after you received this
25 request from Mr. Trbic, were you free to say no to him and not make
1 available any of your men? Could you do that?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I didn't know what was going to be
3 done, and I didn't ask. I only assumed that some prisoners had been
4 brought and that security was needed. Maybe I could have done otherwise,
5 but I sent those men in order to secure that front end of the line which
6 was much more important to me.
7 If he had told me that my men were needed for executions, I would
8 probably have done differently. But in actual fact, he told me that they
9 were needed to provide security, because those men were taken out from
10 trenches where they were defending the defence line to help out with
11 another activity related to ambushes, and they were also able to help with
12 security, to secure those people.
13 MR. VANDERPUYE:
14 Q. Could you just tell us of the 10 men that you sent there, where
15 were they taken from, because you've indicated that they were in some
16 trenches and also -- or engaged in activity related to ambushes. What
17 area were they drawn from?
18 A. They were taken from companies that were deployed on the front end
19 of the defence line. They were taken out from trenches.
20 Q. I see in relation to the Judge's question about whether or not you
21 had a choice, just so that we're clear on this, was the answer to that yes
22 or no? And that's with respect to the men that you were asked to send.
23 A. It's not that I had a choice, but in practice we helped each other
24 out in all kinds of situations. If somebody was under attack and was
25 short of men and we had enough to lend some, we would do so. But that
1 particular situation was happening for the first time. I didn't actually
2 know what was going on. He told me he needed men for security service,
3 and I sent some men to report to Captain Trbic. I wasn't thinking at that
4 moment about -- there was just that call. I wasn't thinking about any
5 choices. Everything would have been different if he had told me that some
6 executions were involved, but he just told me they were needed for
7 security duty.
8 Q. Now, with respect to the men that you withdrew from the line to
9 send to Captain Trbic, did you have a plan in place to replace these men
10 or were there other men available from other locations to fill those
11 vacated positions?
12 A. Through communications I sent a message to company commanders that
13 an order had arrived saying that a platoon should be formed because there
14 was no intervention platoon. We had some surplus of personnel. In some
15 trenches there were four or five men, and if on some other end people were
16 sick or absent, they would be shifted. If we needed to raise the level of
17 readiness or alertness, we would put in a new trench where needed. And as
18 we sent assistance to others, others would send personnel to us when we
19 needed it, when our own men were on sick leave or absent for other
20 reasons. And those people could always return to the defence line anyway
21 because they were close to the command.
22 Q. In fact, at the time that you sent these 10 men to Captain Trbic,
23 was that after the men from the 3rd Infantry had been dispatched to the
24 area of Snagovo? These were the men that were securing your mortar
25 platoon. Isn't that right?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Okay. So is it -- is it the case that you'd assign these 10 men
3 to Captain Trbic without anybody to secure your mortar platoon in the
4 afternoon of the 14th?
5 A. Activities unfolded in such a way that our mortar platoon was not
6 in danger on the 14th. If they had been in jeopardy, probably they would
7 have been given some assistance, but the way it was, not knowing how
8 things were developing at various locations, I did what I did. And later
9 on in the evening of the 14th, I was making a new plan, feeling that there
10 might be some danger, because I had already received information that they
11 had crossed Crni Vrh. So I was going to boost the security of our defence
12 line against members of the army coming from Srebrenica and other BH army
14 Q. All right. Did you at any point share this concern with
15 Captain Trbic when he made the request for these 10 men, or you didn't
16 share that with him at all?
17 A. I didn't talk to him at all. I probably would have talked to him
18 if I had found him in Orahovac when I was there, but I saw that he was
19 leaving that place, going off somewhere on a truck. I had nobody else
20 there to ask any questions, but I could see what was going on. My men
21 were gathered on the pitch outside that gym, and they were so scared that
22 all they could ask was whether I would let them go home, because before
23 that I had suggested they return to the battalion, and they wanted instead
24 to go home and report back at the battalion at 8.00 a.m. the next morning.
25 I realised that could create a wave of panic at the battalion, so I let
1 them go home and told them they needed to return to the battalion to get
2 involved again in our activities to boost security of the defence line we
3 were keeping.
4 Q. Let me just ask you this since you've indicated that you actually
5 went to Orahovac and -- could you just share with the Court how it is that
6 you came to be there and why it is that you went? But first let me ask
7 you, why is it you went to Orahovac?
8 A. I got a telephone call from one of those 10 soldiers. I can't
9 remember which one, but I think I assigned one of them to be the leader of
10 that group because that was the common practice when a group of men were
11 absenting themselves. They had to keep in touch. He told me they were
12 asking us to execute some people. What shall we do? I said, "Don't do
13 anything. I'm coming."
14 I came to Orahovac with a driver, and they all gathered around me.
15 That's how the conversation went as far as that issue is concerned.
16 Q. Can you just tell us about how long after you had sent these men
17 down to Orahovac that you received this call?
18 A. It's difficult for me to remember after all this time. Certainly
19 some time had elapsed, but I can't tell you exactly. A certain time
20 elapsed from when they called me. I really can't be precise.
21 Q. That's all right. Can you -- can you tell us about what time of
22 day it was that you got this call around -- and how long after, say, you
23 sent the men down after you received the call?
24 A. All that was going on in the afternoon of the 14th. I can guess
25 now, but I really can't give you a precise answer, because I didn't keep
1 my eye on the clock. All that was going on on the 14th in the afternoon.
2 Q. In response to the call that you got, I think you said that you
3 told them that -- "Don't do anything. I'm coming." Did you inquire as to
4 who was ordering them to participate in these executions?
5 A. I did not inquire about anything. If Captain Trbic had been there
6 I would have probably inquired of him and talked to him, but since he
7 wasn't there, I couldn't find any of the other officers that I would like
8 to speak to. And I was both irritated and angry over Trbic's absence,
9 because he had asked assistance from me and then took off himself. So as
10 things were, I tried to return to my own base in Baljkovica where my
11 battalion was deployed and get it over with.
12 Q. Well, just before we get there, let me ask you, did you -- perhaps
13 my question wasn't clear, but during the course of the conversation that
14 you had with your men about being ordered to participate in the
15 executions, did you ask them anything at all about the circumstances of
16 that order?
17 A. I didn't ask them anything really. They were regular soldiers. I
18 wasn't aware that they knew any of those officers anyway, and I made no
19 inquiries. I just did what I told you I did.
20 Q. Is there any particular reason why you didn't ask anything?
21 A. Most likely the events themselves, because if somebody wants you
22 to give them people for one task and when you went there and you see that
23 it actually involves another task, something quite different, then upon
24 realising this I wanted to pull out my people so that they wouldn't
25 participate in it, because we had our regular task to hold the defence
1 lines and not to deal with those issues. This is why I did not even
2 inquire about those events, because that wasn't part of my job.
3 Q. Okay. Now, could you describe for us -- well, you've indicated
4 first that you went to Orahovac with a driver. Could you just tell us
5 who -- what his name is, please?
6 A. The driver within the Medical Corps, Lazar Matic.
7 Q. And can you tell us what vehicle you took in order to reach
8 Orahovac from your location?
9 A. It was a car that belonged to the battalion Medical Corps, a Lada
11 Q. And how long did it take you from the time you left until the time
12 you -- left the battalion until the time you arrived in Orahovac?
13 A. Ten to 15 minutes. About 15 minutes, maybe even more. It depends
14 on how you drive.
15 Q. Did you leave word with anybody at the time that you left as to
16 where you would be and how you could be reached?
17 A. Most likely I spoke only to signalsman, and if somebody was
18 present in the headquarters I might have said to one of the members of the
19 command that I was on my way to Orahovac and would stay there only
21 Q. If I could just refer you to the time that you arrived at
22 Orahovac. Could you just tell us as particularly as you can what you
23 first observed when you entered that area?
24 A. When I came near the school building I saw a lot of people there.
25 There were security men there, people with rifles, and then there were
1 also civilians just watching it. Then there were cars parked between the
2 road leading to Kitovnice and Zvornik. So between the main road and the
3 playground there were a lot of cars parked. There were soldiers,
4 civilians, a mix and match type of gathering without any sense or
5 organisation. It was mostly people simply observing what was going on
6 rather than doing anything.
7 Q. And did you at some point arrive at the school itself?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. And you indicated earlier that you saw Captain Trbic in a truck or
10 getting into a truck. Could you just describe for us where that -- where
11 you saw him first?
12 A. When I reached the edge of the playground along the road leading
13 to Zvornik and some hundred metres later on that road I saw Trbic and two
14 military policemen getting on a truck, which was a cross between a truck
15 and Tamic, but it was a civilian vehicle. And I saw the vehicle depart in
16 that direction towards Zvornik.
17 Q. Now, the two military policemen that you say you saw, do you
18 happen to know who they are?
19 A. I think that they were lawyers in the military police.
20 Goran Bogdanovic and Cedo Jovic.
21 Q. What happened after -- let me ask you this first, I'm sorry: When
22 you made this observation were you in your vehicle or outside of your
24 A. We stopped there. Now, whether I was still in the vehicle or had
25 gone out earlier, I don't know. I was out of the vehicle and the driver
1 had gone to park the car. I know that I saw it. Now, whether I saw it
2 while I was still in the car or once I got out of the car, I don't know.
3 Q. After you made this observation, what's the next thing that you
5 A. I started towards the playground. When those people saw me, they
6 approached the area around the gym, or I don't know whether they had been
7 there already earlier. But at any rate, they were there. They assembled.
8 I told them to line up. They lined up in a line, and we started a
9 conversation. They wanted to go home. They looked scared, and I let them
11 Q. Just so that the record is clear, can you tell us who these people
12 are that you're talking about just now that looked scared, that came
13 towards you in the area of the playground?
14 A. It's very hard to remember who those people were because the
15 battalion numbered 450 men. They were gone for two days only, and on the
16 third day they came back to their trenches. It's very hard to remember
17 the names, especially given the passage of time. I can't remember the
18 names of those people.
19 Q. Okay. But these are the men that you sent you're talking about;
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. And did you inquire of these men who was in charge or who was in
23 command in this area at the time that you were there?
24 A. I talked to them. However, since I saw that there was the
25 military police commander there, then Trbic, and that there were other
1 people from the military police there, too, I most likely looked for
2 Drago Nikolic there. However, since he wasn't there or I didn't find him,
3 there was no need for me to look for anybody else or to remain there
4 longer. Since I had let those people go, I returned to the battalion.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Vanderpuye, I don't recall if he specified the
6 approximate time when he arrived to the school.
7 MR. VANDERPUYE: I think that's a reasonable concern. I'll put it
8 to him.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. Thank you.
10 MR. VANDERPUYE:
11 Q. Could you tell us, if you can recall, approximately what -- around
12 what time you arrived at the -- at the school?
13 A. I can't remember the exact time, but it was most likely late in
14 the afternoon. I could give you an approximate time, but I don't know if
15 it's accurate because I didn't look at my watch to see what time it was.
16 I can't be fully precise, but I can give you an approximate time. It
17 could have been 4.00 p.m., 5.00 p.m., maybe 3.00 p.m. I can't remember
18 because I didn't look at my watch.
19 Q. Okay. Now, you indicated that you most likely looked for
20 Drago Nikolic there. I think that's what you said. And when you say
21 you -- you most likely looked for him, what do you recall having done in
22 order to find him, if anything at all?
23 A. I didn't do anything, nor was I supposed to do anything. I needed
24 somebody to complain to them, because they had asked for people to help
25 with the security. Maybe they even invented the story themselves because
1 they simply wanted to go home. Though things happened, you know. People
2 fabricated stories because they wanted to leave their positions and go
3 home. However, I failed to find him and I didn't find anybody else. I
4 don't know what else to tell you. I didn't find anyone else. I didn't
5 look for anybody else, I didn't need anyone else because I wasn't in
6 charge, nor was I doing what I was supposed to be doing.
7 Q. Do you recall if anybody had mentioned to you whether or not
8 Mr. Nikolic was there or had been there?
9 A. I can't remember that accurately because there was a lot of noise,
10 a lot of commotion there. It was a long time ago.
11 There are only two possibilities. Based on the fact that I saw
12 people from the brigade security there, it means I was either looking for
13 him, or perhaps one of them told me that, but I can't say whether they did
14 and, if they did, whether it was accurate.
15 Q. All right. If I read back to your -- read back your prior
16 statement to you, do you think that would help you -- help you recall
17 whether or not somebody had mentioned to you that Mr. Nikolic had been
18 there? Would that help you in any way?
19 A. I know what I stated last time in my statement, and I don't think
20 it would be of assistance to me. I've been thinking about it for a long
21 period of time, and I really can't remember the circumstances under which
22 I was looking for him. I simply can't remember that at all.
23 Q. Well, since you remember what you stated, would you share that
24 with the Court?
25 A. I said that it was possible that one of those people said --
1 JUDGE AGIUS: One moment. One moment. Yes, Mr. Bourgon.
2 MR. BOURGON: Thank you, Mr. President. My colleague is making
3 reference to a statement. At the beginning he started and he said that
4 the witness had three opportunities to meet people. I'd like to know
5 which statement my colleague is referring to, because the witness has to
6 know what statement. Is it the first one that he gave, the second one, or
7 is it the interview with the Prosecution when he was worked upon to say
8 something else? Thank you, Mr. President.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: Fair enough, because I think the witness himself
10 knows exactly which statement is being referred to, but the Defence have a
11 right to know exactly which one.
12 MR. VANDERPUYE: I do agree with the Court's analysis. However, I
13 think that -- I'm not actually referring the witness to a statement. The
14 witness has indicated that he remembers independently of any reference
15 that I've made to a statement that he made, and I'm simply asking him to
16 share with us what that statement is.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: Which statement are you referring to?
18 MR. VANDERPUYE: I couldn't know until he answers the question.
19 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. So, Witness -- yes, Mr. Bourgon.
20 MR. BOURGON: Mr. President, my colleague is not saying exactly.
21 He said, and I look at page 47, lines 22 to 23rd, and he said: "Well,
22 since you remember what you stated, would you share that with the Court?"
23 I'm saying, stated when and how, so that the witness knows what my
24 colleague is talking about. Thank you, Mr. President.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: There is also a point in what Mr. Vanderpuye said,
1 that maybe there has been more than one instance when the witness referred
2 to what he was just about starting to relate to us. So let's hear what he
3 has to say first, and then I think we can specify to -- specify which
4 statement or one or more he's referring -- he himself is referring to.
5 So, Witness, let me read out to you six lines from the transcript.
6 You had said: "I know what I stated last time in my statement, and I
7 don't think it would be of assistance to me. I've been thinking about it
8 for a long period of time, and I really can't remember the circumstances
9 under which I was looking for him. I simply can't remember that at all."
10 And then Mr. Vanderpuye suggested that since you remember what you
11 stated, perhaps you could share that with us. And before you were
12 interrupted, you just started telling us, and according to the transcript
13 you said: "I said that it was possible that one of those people said ..."
14 Will you continue from there, please?
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This information would be complete
16 had I seen Mr. Nikolic there. However, since I didn't see him, and I
17 don't know why I was looking for him - that's how it happened - after all
18 this time has passed I couldn't say whether it was because the members of
19 the brigade military police were there or whether one of those people
20 present said that Drago was there. I can't say which way it was. If I
21 knew the man who told me that I would have been able to prove this. But
22 the essence of what I'm saying, if you allow me to give an explanation is
23 this: When I gave that first statement to the Zvornik MUP about the
24 events, I was told this was a statement for a commission established by
25 the government of the Republika Srpska because Major Obrenovic had
1 mentioned me in his statement. So I gave that first statement.
2 My second statement was given to the security organs from
3 Bijeljina, and in it I said that I would clarify to the commission of the
4 government of Republika Srpska, which had been established to investigate
5 the events in Srebrenica, that I was going to clarify to them some details
6 from my Zvornik statement, and this is why that statement is not perhaps
7 fully precise for the purposes of this court.
8 This statement given in Banja Luka, I don't know where it was, was
9 suppose to be expanded in order to clarify all these details.
10 As for the events in Orahovac, whatever I said was true, and I
11 can't deviate from what I said.
12 MR. VANDERPUYE:
13 Q. Okay. Thank you for that. You indicated that there were some
14 people from the military police that you saw. Can you tell us who it is
15 that you saw?
16 A. I saw commander of the military police company walking on the
17 road. I saw a member of the military police, Nada Stevanovic [as
18 interpreted]. I knew her. She was carrying water in a bucket. And then
19 there was some other policemen there. I didn't try to remember them. I
20 saw that they acted as security there.
21 Q. Now, did you see any other officers from where -- well, from where
22 you were?
23 A. As I stood in the middle of the playground with my people, I saw
24 by the road a car, a civilian car. I think it was a Lada. I also saw a
25 young man with one or two stripes, either second lieutenant or lieutenant,
1 with two soldiers opening a trunk and taking out an 84-millimetre
2 machine-gun. That's what I saw as I stood there.
3 Later on, I didn't really pay attention. I didn't look to see
4 where they went and what they did. I simply saw this by chance as I stood
5 there and observed what was going on around the playground, nothing else.
6 JUDGE KWON: Mr. Vanderpuye, can I have the last name of that
7 lady, Nada? The transcript says Stevanovic, but it may be different.
8 MR. VANDERPUYE: Yes. I believe it is Stevanovic.
9 JUDGE KWON: Ask --
10 MR. VANDERPUYE: Stojanovic.
11 JUDGE KWON: Yes. Mr. Ristic, could you tell me the last name of
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I think it's Stojanovic.
14 JUDGE KWON: The transcript said Stevanovic. Thank you.
15 MR. VANDERPUYE: Okay. Thank you, Judge. Thank you.
16 Q. Okay. Can I just ask you if you could tell us what the name of
17 the military police commander that you saw around, what his name was?
18 A. Military police company commander Miomir Jasikovac.
19 Q. And at the time what you observed Commander Jasikovac, can you
20 tell us what he was doing?
21 A. Walking on the road.
22 Q. And where was he?
23 A. At the end of the playground next to the road going from Zvornik
24 to Kitovnice, by the school.
25 Q. Did you at any time during the period of time that you were at the
1 school converse with Mr. Jasikovac?
2 A. No.
3 Q. And the individual you saw you indicated had two stripes. Did you
4 recognise that individual as a member of your brigade?
5 A. I think that he was on the side -- or, rather, I think that he was
6 from outside. I knew people from the brigade. He definitely was not from
7 the Zvornik Brigade. He was from elsewhere, but I don't know anything
8 else about him.
9 Q. Is he the same individual that you saw handling this machine-gun?
10 A. He didn't have it. He simply stood by the car while the two
11 soldiers were getting it out. Why they were getting it out, I have no
13 Q. Did you see any vehicles in and around the -- the school?
14 A. In that area between the Zvornik-Kitovnice road and the playground
15 there were about a dozen cars parked, among them a van. I think that
16 mostly those were civilian cars. I didn't pay particular attention to
17 them, but I think they were mostly civilian.
18 Q. Did you see any military vehicles in the vicinity of the school,
19 that is, close to the school itself?
20 A. No.
21 Q. Did you see any trucks as aside from cars, for example?
22 A. I saw a green Tamic, two tonne or so. It was parked behind my
23 back, in the middle of the gym going into reverse, and it had a tarpaulin
24 cover on it.
25 Q. Were you able to determine whether there was anybody inside, other
1 than I guess the driver, but anybody in the back part of the truck at the
2 time that you observed it?
3 A. I didn't pay attention. I saw it arrive, and I saw it go into
4 reverse and park while I was standing there.
5 Q. And were you able to see where it had come from, what -- from
6 which direction or location?
7 A. I think it arrived from the direction of Kitovnice, on that road,
8 but that's questionable, even though most likely that's how it was because
9 I was able to see as I stood there. I was facing the road. I think it
10 arrived empty from that direction. It parked there. And I didn't ask
11 about anything, why or where.
12 Q. Did you -- did you gain any information as to where it was that
13 these prisoners were being held, or did you see them out and about at the
14 time that you arrived at the school?
15 A. I didn't see them move about, but when I finished with my men I
16 went to look for my driver and the car to go back to the battalion. I
17 started following Nada to see to whom she was carrying the water, and I
18 saw her carrying the water towards the school. There was another door
19 between the school and the gym, and I saw that there were prisoners
20 inside. I simply looked inside and went back.
21 Q. Do you have any information as to whether or not the truck was
22 used for the purposes of loading these prisoners?
23 A. Probably. I didn't put any questions, but probably so. I could
24 have supposed what was being done, because when I approached -- when one
25 approached, one could see what was going on. So I didn't inquire. I
1 didn't investigate anything. I simply saw this and went back.
2 Q. Well, when you say one could see what was going on, could you just
3 describe it maybe briefly what it is that you saw?
4 A. On my way back to the battalion I saw at that fork off near the
5 fountain that there were some people parked there, some security people.
6 And outside the school itself it was very noisy. Clamour outside, clamour
7 inside. That's all I could see, but I didn't look for anything in
8 particular. I wasn't interested. I didn't see any details. That's what
9 I could see on my way.
10 Q. On your way were you able to see if there were any soldiers away
11 from the school in or around the main road?
12 A. I can't recall all the details, but there were some walking on the
13 road. Some were standing. I can't tell you precisely who was where.
14 Q. Did you see any soldiers off the main road and away from the
16 A. As far as I was able to see, there were some soldiers standing off
17 the road near that fountain as we were passing through on our way to
19 Q. And can you tell us from what you observed of these soldiers what,
20 if anything, they were doing?
21 A. I suppose they were there as security detail, or maybe they came
22 to watch. I think they were security, but I wasn't really there in order
23 to know who was in charge of what.
24 Q. At the time that you -- you've indicated that you at some point
25 sent your men home; is that right?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Now, having done that, did you notify the battalion that you had
3 taken that action?
4 A. When I came to the battalion I convened all the members of the
5 command and told them that there was a danger looming over our battalion.
6 I told them what was going on down there. I told them that I let some men
7 go home, that they would be coming back the next day, and I agreed with
8 the other members of my command that that evening we should transport the
9 vehicles, ammunition, et cetera, to the area of Parlici [phon]. We agreed
10 that a group of our guards would go to an elevation called Remic hill
11 overlooking the command, and from that vantage point they would observe
12 and look out for that group if it comes into view moving towards the
13 command. If it should be a smaller group, we would engage them in combat,
14 and if they should be a larger group, we would retreat to the front end of
15 our defence line and open the way for them simply to save the lives of our
16 battalion if we are unable to fight them. And that's what the plan was
17 until the next day, the 15th, when Major Obrenovic came to the battalion.
18 Q. Now, at the time that you withdrew your men from the school, did
19 you notify anybody at the school that you were withdrawing them from the
20 security detail?
21 A. I did not tell anyone anything, because I didn't see any of the
22 officers. I did what I did. Why, I really don't know.
23 If Trbic had been there, it would have been different. I would
24 have talked to him. But as it was, I knew there was no brigade commander,
25 no chief of staff, no one else I could complain to, and I thought I was
1 acting in the best interests of my men.
2 Q. Did you at any time -- while you were still at the school, did you
3 at any time seek to contact the brigade as distinguished from the
5 A. No. I told you already what I did. I didn't look for anyone, and
6 I didn't find anyone. I simply didn't want to get involved, and that's
7 why I acted the way I did, because my job was in the battalion, not there.
8 Q. You indicated earlier in your testimony that you were somewhat
9 upset with Captain Trbic. Could you tell us why that was the case? And
10 that is on the 14th when you went down to the school.
11 A. I think I answered that question, too, when I told you that that
12 man had asked me for assistance while going off himself. And I felt
13 cheated. I was angry because of that, because asking someone else for
14 assistance while running away yourself is something that I think was
15 really wrong.
16 Q. Following these events did you have an opportunity to speak to
17 Captain Trbic about this particular circumstance that you were upset
19 A. I had no opportunity to talk to him because after those events,
20 after the 14th, there were two days of fighting in which we had great
21 losses. We had lost a lot of men. The command base was set on fire. We
22 needed to rebuild the command, and I simply had no occasion to talk to
23 him. But apart from that, I don't think anyone was very eager to discuss
24 it anyway.
25 I continued with my own activities because it was not my job to
1 investigate or inquire. My job was in the battalion.
2 Q. Did you have an opportunity to speak to your commander when he
3 returned about the -- about the events of the 14th?
4 A. Yes. I told him everything that had happened in his absence. And
5 when he returned, we continued our activities related to the establishment
6 of the command of the 4th Battalion. First they were under tents, and
7 later on we placed our command into a prefab building and continued our
8 activities within the battalion.
9 Q. Okay. Did you have an opportunity to discuss this with the
10 brigade commander, Lieutenant Colonel Pandurevic at the time?
11 A. I talked to the brigade commander on the 15th of July, in the
12 afternoon, late afternoon, when he called me up. I was having some
13 problems with my mortar platoon when Commander Pandurevic called me up and
14 told me not to worry, he was there. He was just trying to encourage me
15 because he knew that I had no combat experience, that my commander was
16 absent, that I was practically on my own. And I felt better to hear that
17 he was back, and when he told me that he had sent one platoon from the 7th
18 Battalion to reinforce our line of defence.
19 Q. Did you discuss with Lieutenant Colonel Pandurevic the
20 circumstances of the 14th involving what occurred at Orahovac at any time
21 following the 14th or on the 14th?
22 A. No.
23 Q. Okay. Did you discuss the circumstances surrounding the events of
24 the 14th with Drago Nikolic at any time following the 14th or on the 14th?
25 A. Not on the 14th and not later. But after a while, although I
1 can't tell you precisely when, on one occasion I asked him why those
2 detainees had been brought to Orahovac, to the school building, because it
3 was dangerous, dangerous for the defence line and dangerous for the
4 village and our entire battalion up there, because it was obvious in that
5 column broke through there would go through Krizevacke Njive and
6 Baljkovica. And he said he had been told just to place them in the
7 schoolhouse pending an exchange in Batkovici. I didn't ask him anything
8 about other circumstances, and he didn't volunteer any information
10 Q. Well, did he explain to you how it is that these prisoners came to
11 be in that school building?
12 A. I did not inquire about the details, and he didn't volunteer any
13 details. In fact, I wasn't really interested. I just told him and
14 Obrenovic the same thing: Why on earth were they brought to Orahovac?
15 It's dangerous.
16 Q. Now, with respect to your conversation with Obrenovic, did you
17 receive a response to that question?
18 A. His response was that he didn't know anything about those events,
19 and I believed him when he said that it was all done along some security
20 chain of command, not through the Main Staff. Later on, though, he
21 admitted he had some knowledge about that, those activities, but at that
22 time he said he didn't.
23 MR. VANDERPUYE: I'm sorry, just bear with me for one second.
24 [Prosecution counsel confer]
25 MR. VANDERPUYE:
1 Q. Now, you indicated I think it was on the 15th that you spoke with
2 Lieutenant Colonel Pandurevic. First of all, is that right?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. And at the time that you spoke to the Lieutenant Colonel, do you
5 know where Major Obrenovic was?
6 A. He was with me at the command.
7 Q. And do you recall when it is that he returned from the field to
8 the command?
9 A. Major Obrenovic, you mean?
10 Q. Yes.
11 A. He came to the command of the 4th Battalion between 1300 and 1400
12 hours on the 15th of July.
13 Q. Okay. And did you have occasion to have a conversation with him
14 regarding the events concerning the 14th at that time?
15 A. I couldn't talk to him, because before his arrival we were engaged
16 in combat. There was an attack on the front end on our defence line that
17 lasted that whole day. The attack start at 4.30 a.m. We had great
18 losses, a lot of men killed and wounded. And when he came to the
19 battalion, he didn't ask he me what the situation was like. He just asked
20 me to provide him with one man. He was taking with him the intervention
21 platoon of the 2nd Infantry Battalion, and they needed one man from me to
22 take them to a point of about 2 to 300 metres above Potocani. And then
23 another two platoons came from the Bratunac Brigade, he told me, and he
24 wanted another man from me to take them to that area overlooking the
25 command. And I understood that he was there to help with the defence of
1 the battalion. In the meantime, the Praga arrived. The commander of the
2 Drina Wolves detachment came with Major Obrenovic, and all the later
3 developments concentrate on the defence of the command post all the way
4 until the 16th at noon. So we really had our hands full and a lot of
5 problems, and I don't remember discussing those events. I don't think we
6 even had time to discuss those events.
7 Q. Did you at any point between the 14th and, say, the 16th discuss
8 with Major Obrenovic the assignment of the individuals he'd requested of
9 you on the -- I believe it was on the 14th.
10 A. We didn't discuss that at all. Everything was focussed on the
11 defence of the command, and there was no talk and no need to talk about
12 anything else, because we were really in grave danger.
13 Q. Okay. Well, thank you very much, Mr. Ristic. I don't have any
14 further questions.
15 JUDGE AGIUS: One moment. He hasn't told us how long he was at
16 the school. In other words, how much time elapsed between his arrival and
17 his departure from the school area.
18 MR. VANDERPUYE: I will put that to him. Thank you,
19 Mr. President.
20 Q. Mr. Ristic, can you tell it us about how long it was that you were
21 in the school from the time you arrived until the time that you departed?
22 A. My visit at that part of Orahovac lasted all of about 10 minutes.
23 Q. Just so that we're clear, could you tell us how long you were
24 actually away from the command about, from the time that you left until
25 the time that you returned?
1 A. It's very difficult to say that precisely. Maybe it took 15
2 minutes by car. I stayed there for about 10 minutes. Then the time it
3 took me to get back. All in all less than an hour.
4 Q. Thank you. I don't have any further questions at this time.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. I have you, Mr. Bourgon and you,
6 Mr. Haynes both requesting two and a half hours for cross-examination.
7 Have you come to an agreement amongst yourselves as to who is going first?
8 MR. BOURGON: Your Honour, I think it would be the right moment to
9 take the break at this stage in order to have a full session and also to
10 reorganise because we had been informed that the examination-in-chief
11 would be no more than one hour and now we need to reorganise in terms of
12 who will go first and how we're going to work with this witness. Thank
13 you, Mr. President.
14 JUDGE AGIUS: You will find the cooperation of the Trial Chamber
15 there. And again, I mean it was anticipated to -- the
16 examination-in-chief was anticipated to last an hour and a half. It has
17 almost lasted three hours. So I'm not chastising you, Mr. Vanderpuye, but
19 So we'll have a 25-minute break now, and then Mr. Bourgon or
20 Mr. Haynes will commence the first cross-examination. Thank you.
21 --- Recess taken at 12.22 p.m.
22 --- On resuming at 12.53 p.m.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: I see it's Mr. Bourgon. Mr. Bourgon, please go
25 MR. BOURGON: Thank you, Mr. President.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: I think we better tell the witness who you are.
2 Mr. Bourgon is appearing for Nikolic here, Drago Nikolic.
3 Cross-examination by Mr. Bourgon:
4 Q. Good morning, Mr. Ristic. Following the examination-in-chief
5 which was conducted by my colleague, I have less questions than
6 anticipated to ask you, so I'll move straight to my first topic, and that
7 first topic refers to the actions which you took upon receiving the orders
8 from Major Obrenovic on the 12th of July to put together an intervention
9 platoon to go to Tisova Kosa. Do you recall testifying to that effect?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. This platoon was put together, from my understanding of your
12 testimony, was put together from soldiers that were picked from your three
13 infantry companies that belonged to the 4th Battalion; is that correct?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. And as you mention, you detached someone from your command who had
16 more experience to accompany this platoon to Tisova Kosa?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Now, we move to the 14th of July in the morning, and you said that
19 on that day you received information that the intervention platoon from
20 the 3rd Battalion had arrived to provide security for your mortar platoon;
21 is that correct?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. And this platoon which had arrived, do you know who gave the
24 orders or how were you informed that this platoon had arrived?
25 A. They informed me from the brigade command that the platoon of the
1 3rd Infantry Battalion was coming to assist the mortar platoon and that
2 they were it at the Motovo juncture. And then I went straight there and
3 got into contact with the commander of that platoon. We distributed code
4 signals to be part of the same radio network. I told him to deploy above
5 Krizevacke Njive in the direction of Grujici where our mortars were
7 Q. And if I recall from your testimony, you said that on the morning
8 of the 14th of July, you received orders from Major Obrenovic to send this
9 same platoon to the area of Snagovo; is that correct?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. And would I be right in saying that you did not get those
12 instructions personally on the radio, but those were communicated to you
13 by your signalman?
14 A. The practice was that something like a telegram would be sent
15 towards us. The signalsman from the brigade would pass it on to our
16 signalsman who would enter it into a logbook, whether it was an order or
17 just an information, and that was the practice we followed.
18 Q. Thank you, Mr. Ristic. Now, just for clarification, when you say
19 you received a telegram, can you confirm for the benefit of the Chamber
20 you don't actually receive a piece of paper but actually the signalman
21 receives verbal instructions that he writes down and then passes those to
22 you, and this is what we mean by receiving a telegram. Is that correct?
23 A. Yes. It was communicated by radio, not by courier, or it would be
24 passed on in direct conversation between somebody from the brigade command
25 and somebody from the battalion command. Orders and information could be
1 passed that way, too, if it concerned our battalion, of course.
2 Q. And again for the sake of clarification, when we say "battalion
3 command," just so that everybody understands, because I know it's a term
4 that can be confusing, because sometimes other armies use the
5 term "headquarters." So when you say "command," you're actually talking
6 about the headquarters of your battalion; is that correct?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. And within the command of the 4th Battalion there was no machine
9 which would allow you to receive something in writing from the brigade
10 command; is that correct?
11 A. There was no machine. Only a courier could bring some written
12 order from the brigade to our battalion.
13 Q. Now, I move to when you received that order from Major Obrenovic
14 on the 14th in the morning, my understanding is that at that point you
15 have no knowledge whatsoever of anything happening in Orahovac; is that
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Now I move to the time where you get this phone call from Trbic
19 asking you to send some men, and my first question is: When, first of
20 all, the men that you sent to Orahovac, they were taken from that
21 intervention platoon that you had sent earlier to Tisova Kosa; is that
23 A. It was not an intervention platoon. It was a regular platoon made
24 up of men from companies, because the intervention platoon was introduced
25 in the schematic of the brigade. It was the Zolja platoon. This one was
1 sort of improvised from, made up of men from various companies to perform
2 that function.
3 Q. Now, I ask you this question, Mr. Ristic, just to clarify,
4 because -- and I make reference here to page 39 of the transcript, lines
5 10 to 13, and also lines 14 to 17, just to confirm that those men that you
6 sent to Orahovac, they were first taken away from the trenches to form
7 that temporary platoon, and then they were taken, so they were already
8 away from the trenches, and you took them to send them to Orahovac and
9 that's why they were available. Is that correct?
10 Can you answer, because I don't ...
11 A. It's common knowledge that they did that during the night, and
12 during the day they were near the battalion command, available. They made
13 ambushes only during the night. And that went on for only two nights.
14 Later on the order came from the brigade command to pull them out from the
15 Tisova Kosa area because there was a shortage of men. A large column of
16 people was coming.
17 Q. Now, the man that -- one of your soldier called you to inform you
18 or to ask you what was going on in Orahovac, and according to your
19 testimony he said that they were ready to leave the trenches to go and
20 defend their families in Orahovac.
21 Now, would I be correct in saying that because you did not want
22 them to leave the trenches because it was important to you that they would
23 stay on the line, that that is why you sent those men to Orahovac at the
24 request of Trbic?
25 A. When those people -- if those people left the line and went to
1 Orahovac great problems would have been caused, and the situation would
2 have been much worse, for the battalion included, because six trenches on
3 the defence line mean a lot. The troops of the 2nd Corps were waiting for
4 their opportunity when the line would be broken so that these people could
5 go through, and if they had done that, they would have been putting the
6 battalion at great risk. That's why I decided to send those men over
7 there so that the men from the trenches wouldn't leave. I knew that the
8 person I was talking to was volatile, and he was perfectly prepared to do
9 what he was threatening to do.
10 Q. Now, I'm not going to ask you any questions about what you saw in
11 Orahovac. I'm going to move straight to the fact that when you returned
12 to your command that night, and would I be right in saying that from that
13 point on, now we're talking the 14th in the evening until the 15th, that
14 your focus was on preparing your battalion because the column was coming
15 your way? Is that correct?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. And would I be right in saying that on the night of the 15th you
18 were actually attacked at 4.30 in the a.m.? That was the first time you
19 were attacked by the column; is that correct?
20 A. It's not the column that had attacked us. We were attacked by
21 units of the 2nd Corps of the BH army at the point where our battalion
22 linked with the 6th Battalion at around 4.30 of the morning of the 15th.
23 I went straight there. I saw the attack with my own eyes and stayed there
24 until it was all over.
25 Q. Now, I just have one question. I said I would not ask any
1 questions about -- about Orahovac school, but I do have one question and
2 that relates to Gojko Simic. Could you say -- would I be right in saying
3 that Gojko Simic, he was at that time not on service from the
4 4th Battalion, because as you said you had been sent because his son was
5 going -- was sent -- was being sent off for military duty. Now, I just
6 ask you to confirm that this is the case, but that he was not the only one
7 in that position; is that correct?
8 A. That's correct. Nine men from the battalion were absent because
9 they were seeing their sons off to the army. Their sons were recruits
10 doing their military duty for the first time, and such leave is normally
11 agreed with the command of the brigade, and they were absent. Around
12 10.00 or 11.00 in the morning of the 14th recruits gathered in front of
13 the barracks at Karakaj, and then they are bussed to their various places
14 where they are to serve their military service, and they are usually seen
15 off by their family. So during those days Gojko Simic was busy doing
16 that, and he was not present at the battalion those 15 days.
17 Q. Now, two quick questions concerning this practice. Can you
18 confirm that this was a regular practice to send the people on leave for
19 the sake of attending their son's send-off to the army?
20 A. Yes, that was the practice, and nobody was ever denied leave for
21 that reason.
22 Q. And in this case when those nine men, including Gojko Simic, were
23 sent for that purpose, that was done with the knowledge of your commander
24 who left on 1 July from the command of the 4th Battalion; is that correct?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. I move now to the 15th in the afternoon. You mentioned that
2 Major Obrenovic arrived at your location, and I'd like you to confirm that
3 this was sometime in the early afternoon of the 15th of July.
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Now, I take it that between the order you receive on the morning
6 of the 14th of July and the time that Major Obrenovic arrives at the
7 4th Battalion command on the 15th in the afternoon, that you did not get
8 any information from him during that period; is that correct?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. And as you testified along with my colleague, during the time that
11 he spent with you -- well, first let's start by the period that he was
12 with you. That is from the 15th in the afternoon to the 16th in the
13 afternoon when you withdraw from the battalion command. Is that the
14 period that he was with you?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. As you mentioned to my colleague, during this period you did not
17 discuss with him the events that you had witnessed in Orahovac; is that
19 A. I don't remember. I don't think so. I don't think we had time.
20 Q. I now move to a few questions I have concerning Major Obrenovic.
21 Now, Major Obrenovic, of course, as you mention he was the man that was
22 leading the operations or leading the combat activities in those days that
23 is at least from the 12th until at least the 15th of July; is that
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Now, you are aware that Major Obrenovic was charged before this
2 Tribunal in relation to the events which took place in Zvornik area after
3 the fall of Srebrenica?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. And you're also aware that he pleaded guilty and that he's now
6 serving a prison sentence in relation to these events; is that correct?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. You mention in your testimony that you read his statement. Would
9 I be correct that this is the statement of fact that you saw on the
10 internet following his guilty plea?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. And would I be correct in saying that you were very surprised to
13 read in that statement that he was involved in the Orahovac events,
14 because he told you when he met with you that he knew nothing about it?
15 Is that correct?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Now, that conversation when Major Obrenovic told you that he knew
18 nothing about Orahovac, you answered that question from my colleague, but
19 would I be correct that this happened somewhere in the year 2000 during
20 the period before his arrest?
21 A. I don't know exactly which year it was, but this was before he
22 went to any questionings about the events.
23 Q. And would I be right in saying that at that moment Major Obrenovic
24 was preparing his defence and he asked you to come to his office to
25 discuss these events; is that correct?
1 A. He called me and told me -- I heard from him that some of those
2 who survived recognised Gojko Simic, and he asked me, too, where
3 Gojko Simic was. So we talked a bit about Gojko Simic. I told him that
4 Gojko Simic was absent because he was seeing his son to the army.
5 Q. Now, in his statement of facts, the one that you read on the
6 internet, and that is dated on the 20th of May, 2003, Obrenovic stated
7 that he contacted you on 14 July and that you informed him on the radio,
8 using coded language, that there were problems with the people who had
9 been brought to Orahovac. My question is: Do you recall speaking to
10 Obrenovic about the events in Orahovac on the 14th of July?
11 A. I don't remember that conversation. I think we didn't talk,
12 because had we talked I probably would have remembered. We definitely
13 didn't talk. As to how he stated that and why, I don't know.
14 Q. For the sake of the transcript, I was quoting from page 3 of the
15 statement of facts of -- provided by Dragan Obrenovic on the 20th of May,
17 My next question, Mr. Ristic, is during your first interview at
18 the public security station in Zvornik, now, this one took place on the
19 26th of August, 2003, and you -- there was a question posed to you by my
20 colleague, you stated the following, and I quote -- that is on page 6 of
21 this statement: "As regards Dragan Obrenovic claim that he talked to me
22 on the radio using code about the events in Orahovac, I can say that
23 this --" sorry "-- I can say that is not true. That is, we had no contact
25 Do you stand by this statement which you provided to the security
1 station in Zvornik on the 26th of August, 2003?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Now, in his statement of facts, Obrenovic further stated, and I
4 quote from pages 5 and 6, he stated first that he discussed with you --
5 now, I'm not quoting. He -- now, I quote from the statement, page 5 and
6 6. Obrenovic said: "I discussed military matters with Ristic and about
7 an hour to an hour and a half later I reminded him about the conversation
8 that we had on the 14th of July about the prisoners from Srebrenica."
9 Am I right in saying that this conversation never took place? The
10 one on the 14th of July.
11 A. I don't remember any conversation with Mr. Obrenovic about the
12 events in Orahovac. I think that he gave a statement initially, maybe
13 that is the case here, when he wanted to defend himself, on which occasion
14 he said that he knew nothing with about it, and he said that he allegedly
15 talked to me and that he heard from me. However, later on he admitted
16 that he had known about the events, and this has nothing to do with me
17 because I really don't remember anything about that.
18 Q. I will now read you, Mr. Ristic, portions of the judgement which
19 was rendered by the Trial Chamber in the Blagojevic and Jokic case on 17
20 January 2005 and ask you some questions arising from what was mentioned in
21 the judgement then.
22 JUDGE AGIUS: One moment, Mr. Bourgon.
23 Yes, Mr. Vanderpuye.
24 MR. VANDERPUYE: I object to this line of questioning. I just --
25 I don't see what the relevance of it. If my learned friend wants to put a
1 question to the witness with respect to a fact that might be contained in
2 the judgement, that is a separate thing than reading the judgement to the
3 witness and asking him to comment on it.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Bourgon.
5 MR. BOURGON: Yes, Your Honour. There is a statement of facts the
6 Trial Chamber took from the evidence it heard and draw conclusions about
7 this witness who was not heard in that trial. So I want to ask him
8 whether what is mentioned in the judgement he did or he did not do.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: One moment. Yes. I see you still standing.
10 MR. VANDERPUYE: I am, Mr. President. The simple -- the simple
11 matter is that if there is particular conduct of which the witness has
12 been -- which has been attributed to the witness, then my learned friend
13 can simply ask the question. It doesn't need to be predicated on the
14 finding of a court or the judgement of a Trial Chamber.
15 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you.
16 [Trial Chamber confers]
17 JUDGE AGIUS: Our decision, Mr. Bourgon, is please avoid to make
18 specific reference to any of the judgements that you had in mind and put
19 to the witness the facts that you would like him to give us information
21 MR. BOURGON: Thank you, Mr. President.
22 Q. Witness, I will withdraw that question and move on to a next
23 question. I come back to your first interview of the public security
24 station in Zvornik on 26 August 2003, where you stated the following -- I
25 quote from page 6 of your statement where you said: "When he came to the
1 battalion on the 15th of July, that is Major Obrenovic, we did not talk
2 about Orahovac, that is about the prisoners from Srebrenica." Do you
3 stick by this statement today?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. I refer now to the statement of facts provided by Obrenovic, on
6 page 6. Obrenovic stated the following: During this alleged conversation
7 on the 15th of July at the command of the 4th Battalion, Obrenovic said
8 you told him that when you lined up your men at the school in Orahovac
9 Drago Nikolic requested your men to stay and if they did they would all be
10 issued with new uniforms by Milosevic.
11 Did you ever say this to Obrenovic?
12 A. No. I did not see Drago Nikolic when I came there, and I could
13 not have stated what he said I did.
14 Q. During your first interview at the public security station in
15 Zvornik, the one on 26 August 2003, you stated the following: "It is not
16 true that I was stopped by Drago Nikolic when I was lining up my men in
17 order to take them away since Drago Nikolic was not there at all while I
18 lined up the men."
19 Do you stick with this statement today?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Now, in the statement of facts provided by Obrenovic, Obrenovic
22 stated, and I quote -- this is from page 6 of the statement of facts by
23 Obrenovic: "I learned later from Ristic that a certain Gojko Simic from
24 the 4th Battalion had been on leave at that time, but because he was from
25 Orahovac he went there voluntarily and joined the guards at the gymnasium
1 before the arrival of the 4th Battalion reinforcements. Ristic said that
2 Drago Nikolic had been asking for volunteers, and Gojko had volunteered to
3 take part in the execution of prisoners."
4 Did you ever mention this to Obrenovic?
5 A. I didn't. I don't know how it was. All I know is that
6 Gojko Simic was absent. Now, as to he joined the guards, how he joined
7 them, I don't know about that because I didn't see it. I think that
8 Mr. Obrenovic, as he was making the preparations, talked to a lot of
9 people about the events, and then he put the picture together in a way. I
10 could not have talked about Drago since he wasn't there. I could not have
11 talked about the participation of Gojko Simic because I didn't see that.
12 I'm only talking about things that I saw.
13 Now, assumptions, yes, everybody can make assumptions this way or
14 that way, and it was probably his judgement to volunteer this. If he came
15 there, he may have been irritated because his rival had been snatched with
16 him and he was the company commander. Now, as to where he was and what he
17 saw, I don't know. I didn't look into this. If this man were alive today
18 then one could ask him, but since he got killed, I never inquired about
19 these details afterwards.
20 Q. So you never -- that is speculation, and you never mentioned that
21 to Obrenovic; is that correct?
22 A. Correct. There was some talk about Gojko Simic, but I didn't put
23 it in those terms. Perhaps he heard this from somebody else. I didn't
24 tell him that.
25 Q. And am I correct in saying that you never told Major Obrenovic
1 that Drago Nikolic had been asking for volunteers for the executions?
2 A. I didn't say that. How would I know that when I didn't
3 participate in it and I wasn't there? Who did it and how they did it is
4 something that I can't talk about because I didn't see it. What I saw is
5 what I told you.
6 Q. Now, I'd like to come back on the fact that Obrenovic did call you
7 to come and see him in his office, and he also called you on the phone to
8 discuss these events; is that correct?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. And that on that moment he told you that he knew nothing about the
11 events in Orahovac and you believed him.
12 A. He told me before. I think so. It's difficult for me to know all
13 the details now. But when I came to talk to him about Gojko Simic, I was
14 still convinced and I thought that he knew nothing about it because that's
15 what he told me.
16 Q. Now, in the -- regarding the -- Dragan Obrenovic, he testified in
17 the trial of Blagojevic and Jokic, and when he testified before that Trial
18 Chamber under oath, he said the following: "I learned from Lazar Ristic,
19 that Gojko Simic a member of the 4th Battalion of the Zvornik Brigade had
20 joined the first group of who were guarding the school and had later
21 volunteered to participate in the killings."
22 My understanding is that you never said this to Dragan Obrenovic;
23 is that correct?
24 A. I didn't say this. I didn't know what Gojko Simic did. I don't
25 know who was the source of information. I don't know anything about this.
1 All I know is what I saw when I came and during the brief period of time
2 that I was there.
3 Q. Now, when he testified before the Trial Chamber under oath, Dragan
4 Obrenovic said that he was told by you, Lazar Ristic, that Drago Nikolic
5 participated in the killings in Orahovac. Did you ever see this to
6 Dragan Obrenovic?
7 A. No.
8 Q. Did anyone ever inform you or did you obtain any information from
9 any source that Drago Nikolic participated in the killings in Orahovac?
10 A. I did not hear any stories nor did I look into what Drago Nikolic
11 did, or other individuals. I'm stating only facts here, what I saw and
12 events in which I participated. As for the stories about who was where, I
13 know nothing about that.
14 Q. My last question concerning Dragan Obrenovic is the following: We
15 have information which was provided to us by the Prosecution concerning an
16 individual called Milan Maric, who said that before Dragan Obrenovic was
17 arrested and transferred to The Hague he was actively preparing his
18 defence, and he contacted a number of persons, members of the Zvornik
19 Brigade, including, amongst other, Ostoja Stanisic and you. Can you
20 confirm this information?
21 A. Yes. I talked to him and the conversation concerned only
22 Gojko Simic.
23 Q. My next question refers to your knowledge, your personal knowledge
24 of Drago Nikolic. In response to a question which was asked of you by the
25 Prosecution, you stated that you were the assistant commander for security
1 of the 4th Battalion for a period of approximately two years. So I take
2 it that you had the opportunity to work with Drago Nikolic, who was the
3 chief of security. What can you say about the qualities and the
4 competencies of Drago Nikolic as an officer and as the chief of security
5 of the Zvornik Brigade?
6 A. I met Drago Nikolic for the first time in March of 1993. At that
7 time, at the proposal of the commander of the 4th Battalion, I was
8 nominated to the post of assistant commander for security, as a result of
9 which I went to the headquarters, at which time I had a brief meeting with
10 Drago Nikolic who was chief of security within the Zvornik Brigade. The
11 conversation centred around the fact that I was not familiar with security
12 issues, that I never attended even any training or anything of the sort
13 about the work conducted by officers, and I told him that he would need to
14 instruct me and that I would follow his instructions.
15 Later on when we worked together and when we had meetings, his
16 assistance to me strictly concerned the work of security organs in the
17 battalions. His instructions were very specific, and I never had any
18 problems with him. I think that my attitude, my decent attitude towards
19 work and the post that I held was such that I abided by the rules and I
20 was among the best in the battalion. Many people in the brigade and in
21 the battalion were aware of this.
22 Now, about his instructions and advice to me, what he told me was
23 that we needed to monitor enemy positions, that we needed to have contact
24 with our people on defence lines, that we had to tour our lines, that we
25 had to identify individuals who deserted the positions and had destructive
1 behaviour. So this is what we dealt with with the people who abandoned
2 positions and deserted, and we wanted to deal with them so that others
3 wouldn't suffer. And that's the kind of advice that he gave me. It was
4 about the security issues in the battalion and the brigade.
5 Q. Now, it's my understanding, Mr. Ristic, that you now know what
6 happened in Orahovac about the killings of prisoners. My question is:
7 Could you tell the Trial Chamber whether in your opinion Drago Nikolic is
8 the kind of person who could be involved and/or organise such atrocious
10 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Vanderpuye.
11 MR. VANDERPUYE: I object on the grounds of relevance, and
12 secondly, I don't think that my learned friend has laid a sufficient
13 foundation for the question to be based. He hasn't established the nature
14 and the extent of the relationship between the witness and the accused.
15 JUDGE AGIUS: I think the witness needs to remove his headphones
16 for a short while.
17 Mr. Bourgon.
18 MR. BOURGON: Mr. President, this is straightforward character
19 evidence question. I'm trying to get character evidence from the witness.
20 He's worked with him for two years. He knows him. He can say what he
21 believes and the Trial Chamber can draw the conclusion from his answers.
22 JUDGE AGIUS: All right.
23 [Trial Chamber confers]
24 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. We are going to allow the question,
25 Mr. Bourgon, with the understanding that I'm sure you appreciate that out
1 of every hundred persons that commit homicide, murder, if you were to put
2 the question would you have expected this person to commit -- there would
3 be very, very few who would be classified as persons who are prone to
4 commit murder. "Yes, I would have expected him to commit murder." So do
5 consider the probative value attached to your question, and you're free to
6 rephrase it if you wish to.
7 One moment, because we have to tell the witness to put on his
8 headphone again.
9 It's up to you. I mean ...
10 Do you want me to repeat --
11 MR. BOURGON: I will rephrase the question, Mr. President.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: I think it's better.
13 MR. BOURGON:
14 Q. Mr. Ristic, can you assist the Trial Chamber regarding
15 Drago Nikolic and tell us according to what you saw from him what his
16 attitude was towards Muslims?
17 A. You mean during the entire war?
18 Q. Yes.
19 A. I did not have occasion to talk to him about that issue. Simply,
20 our conversations were of a military nature. I never talked to him about
21 Muslims or some other issues, so I can't really give you a specific answer
22 about his attitude. I never heard from him or from anybody down there at
23 the headquarters that there was any hate, that they talked about any hate,
24 hatred. We simply spoke about military issues, military regulations, and
25 that's what we discussed.
1 Q. I just have one more question and then I will have some --
2 something to say to the Trial Chamber, but do you -- would I be right in
3 saying that -- I come back now because I forgot one question. On the
4 night of the 13th of July when you were in your battalion command, it is
5 my understanding that you received a phone call from Drago Nikolic who was
6 then at the IKM. Can you confirm and explain what this conversation was
8 A. On the 13th I noticed in the battalion headquarters, in the sector
9 of Srpski Nezuk where the houses were destroyed, and above those houses
10 there was a hill on which I noticed a large white flag. I saw it, but I
11 didn't know what it was. Towards the evening, as it was getting dark
12 Drago Nikolic called me from the IKM, from the forward command post. I
13 didn't know who was on duty that night. He called me from the IKM and
14 asked me whether I saw fire by the mosque in the Muslim Nezuk. I told
15 him -- or, rather, I went out to see this fire, and our conversation
16 centred around the fact that, yes, I did see it, but I didn't know what it
17 was it. It was only later that I found out that this had to do with the
18 columns moving towards Srebrenica.
19 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. We have to stop with the witness's testimony
20 here today.
21 Witness, we will continue tomorrow. Between now and until you
22 finish your testimony, you are not to contact anyone or allow anyone to
23 contact you to discuss the subject matter of your testimony. Is that
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Bourgon.
2 He can be escorted.
3 Very briefly because --
4 MR. BOURGON: I have to miss the beginning of tomorrow's session,
5 and I asked my colleagues of the Prosecution whether I could interrupt my
6 cross-examination and resume him. Maybe it will not be necessary
7 depending on what the others ask, but the Prosecution has agreed. So my
8 colleague would do his cross-examination. I would come back after for a
9 short while.
10 JUDGE AGIUS: No problem with that.
11 MR. BOURGON: Thank you, Mr. President.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: No problem. All right. We stand adjourned until
13 tomorrow morning at 9.00. Thank you.
14 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1.47 p.m.
15 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 17th day
16 of April, 2007, at 9.00 a.m.