1 Friday, 11 May 2007
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 9.04 a.m.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: So good morning, everybody, and welcome.
6 Mr. Registrar, could you call the case, please?
7 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning, Your Honours. This is case number
8 IT-05-88-T, The Prosecutor versus Vujadin Popovic et al.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, sir.
10 All the accused are here. I notice the absence of Mr. Haynes,
11 Mr. Josse and Ms. Condon. I take it that they are all working at the
12 office, preparing for other witnesses. Correct.
13 For the Prosecution, I notice Mr. McCloskey and Mr. Elderkin and
14 Mr. Vanderpuye. As usual, the column is in the way.
15 Yes, there was a leftover yesterday from -- in the wake of the
16 submission from Madame Fauveau.
17 Mr. McCloskey.
18 MR. McCLOSKEY: I believe Mr. Elderkin has one exhibit from his
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Yeah, okay, I understand that.
21 Yes, Mr. Elderkin, you can remain where you are if you have a
22 microphone nearby.
23 MR. ELDERKIN: Yes, Mr. President.
24 JUDGE AGIUS: Yesterday, we did not conclude the exhibit tendering
25 process because we had little time left, and we required that for
1 Ms. Fauveau's submission.
2 Go ahead, Mr. Elderkin.
3 MR. ELDERKIN: Good morning, Mr. President. Just the one exhibit,
4 which is the photograph that the witness marked. That was P2103 at page
5 212, and that's been numbered PIC107 with those annotations.
6 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you, Mr. Elderkin. Any objections? None. It
7 is so admitted.
8 The Defence barely cross-examined the witness, so I take it there
9 are no Defence exhibits. Okay.
10 So Mr. Elderkin, if you've got other work to do, you may leave.
11 Thank you.
12 Mr. McCloskey.
13 MR. McCLOSKEY: Yes, Mr. President.
14 As you know, from the time change I don't have perhaps the dates
15 and times and numbers that I might. I'm giving you a general
16 background --
17 JUDGE AGIUS: By the way, before you continue, we are sitting
18 pursuant to Rule 15 bis. The reason is today we shifted the sitting from
19 the afternoon to the morning, with the result that this sitting clashed
20 with the Haradinaj sitting, which is also in the morning, and Judge Stole,
21 we came to an agreement that he sits there and we proceed pursuant to 15
22 bis ourselves.
23 Yes, Mr. McCloskey.
24 MR. McCLOSKEY: I can give you an outline from my memory and
25 experience that will help, I think, respond in a general sense to
1 Ms. Fauveau's remarks.
2 In relation to the discovery and providing the Defence with
3 documents relating to demography, we have worked for several years now
4 with Ms. Radovanovic firstly with the Blagojevic case and secondly for
5 this case, where we have set her up on her own computer in our building
6 and gave her full access to all the material that our demographics people
7 used in their reports, and we've responded to their questions whenever
8 asked. And as far as I know, there are no questions or requests that went
9 unanswered. And so they have had full access to all that material.
10 And I have spoken to Mr. Zivanovic, and if he has material that he
11 mentioned yesterday that they didn't use, we will make every effort to get
12 that kind of material to them as well, though we have not been asked for
13 that before.
14 Specifically regarding the document that was brought up by -- I
15 think first by Mr. Zivanovic, as you recall, I asked --
16 JUDGE AGIUS: For the record, it's 1D312.
17 MR. McCLOSKEY: Thank you. I'd asked him where he'd gotten that.
18 I had not seen this document before. And as you recall, he told us he got
19 it from the RS Commission. We are looking in RS Commission records to see
20 if we have it, though we have made our RS Commission records available to
21 the Defence many, many months ago, and I believe if we had it, they would
22 have been given it. This is not a document that we've ever translated or
23 that I'm aware that anybody has set their eyes on. And it's a January 1994
24 document. The relevance, I think, was explained by the witness. It has
25 some relevance; it's an interesting document.
1 I do not think it's Rule 68. In fact, if anything, in my view,
2 it's inculpatory. It gives the numbers, and I can't tell and I don't
3 remember what was said yesterday, but it gives certain numbers of Muslims
4 that came into the enclave, and as you know, it's our case that that is
5 largely a result of the six strategic objectives, the directive force
6 saying move the Muslim people out and those people came into the enclave,
7 so I don't see how it is exculpatory, how it affects the credibility of
8 any evidence. I think it's interesting, I think it's relevant. Had I seen
9 it, I would have, we would have given it to the Defence.
10 In particular, it came -- the collection that Ms. Fauveau was
11 referring to, it came from a collection that we refer to as the
12 cobblestone collection, the other version of it, that is, which is an
13 unsigned, from what I gather, I've been able to see it on the computer,
14 it's an unsigned version of the same stamped version that Mr. Zivanovic
15 came up with. Now, and as we have told the Defence, we have had many
16 communications with them about the cobblestone collection. They have full
17 access to the cobblestone collection on EDS, EDS now with the updates that
18 the OTP, the ICTY have done, I'm told that it's actually a better search
19 engine than the Zy that the OTP has. But that collection, in particular,
20 was a collection that was obtained by SFOR forces, and I believe it was
21 1988, 1989, I don't remember exactly, but when they searched an illegal
22 weapons cache, they came up in the Zvornik area with a lot of documents as
24 The US Army scanned those documents and then returned the
25 originals. We have never seen the originals since, but the US Army gave
1 us their scanned versions. It took us months and months to make any sense
2 out of the electronic versions they gave us. It's still a collection
3 that's very difficult to search.
4 We have searched and searched and searched that collection, just
5 pounded it with Cyrillic search-readers and others mainly for 1995, mainly
6 for military-related documents, names, dates. Still, in the Blagojevic
7 case, we -- the Blagojevic team found a document by General Mladic which
8 has been used in this case in that collection that we had not been able to
9 find, because I believe they may have just printed -- had gone over the
10 documents individually. So the search engine is very bad in that, in
11 that it would not have been an area -- a January '94 one-off civilian
12 document that talks about estimates. Had I seen it, we would have kept
13 it, but it's not something we specifically searched for, nor were we asked
14 for, nor did we come across.
15 Now that we have it, we're happy to have it, and I'm happy to --
16 if they have any other clues and any other thing they want us to help them
17 search for, we will. We can now see the number on this document, and the
18 US Army put numbers on it so we can now look at those ranges of documents
19 that were scanned by the army at the same time to see if there's related
20 documents, and we'll do that, but that's -- that's the basic background on
21 the situation where we find ourselves with this particular document.
22 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, Mr. McCloskey.
23 Do you wish to comment back, Madame Fauveau or Ms. Nikolic?
24 Ms. Nikolic.
25 MS. NIKOLIC: [Interpretation] Well, Your Honours, I will limit
1 myself just to the part that concerns the work of Ms. Radovanovic.
2 Concerning the document, I suppose Ms. Fauveau will address the Chamber.
3 I can say that Ms. Radovanovic had access to the documents of the
4 Prosecution and worked with them for seven days, and we appreciate this
5 cooperation. However, concerning the documents that Mrs. Radovanovic will
6 use in her work, the Prosecution asked us to specify what we wanted to
7 decide whether they can give us access to those documents, so what we
8 found to be relevant in the expert report and what we thought could be
9 useful, we asked for. So there was no blanket access of our expert to the
10 Prosecution's material. But if she continues to have access to
11 Prosecution material, I suppose that our request will be expanded. And as
12 Mr. McCloskey said, I suppose that we will ask for more than we have at
13 this moment.
14 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you.
15 Madame Fauveau.
16 MS. FAUVEAU: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I'm rather astonished
17 by what I heard. First of all, of course, yes, we have access on the EDS
18 to the general collection which contains I don't know how many millions of
19 documents. We never received an index of documents that is in this
20 infamous cobblestone collection.
21 We can randomly find an interesting document or we can search for
22 one document by document, and I don't know how many years that would take
23 to the Defence team. I don't know how the Prosecutor can say that we have
24 a search engine that is better than the Prosecution's. We have the same
25 search engine, and we don't have the same resources as the Prosecutor.
1 On another level concerning exculpatory and inculpatory material
2 in that collection, I believe that this goes against this particular
3 accused in the particular period concerning particular events. In 1992,
4 there were people on all three sides who were expelled, so in our case,
5 for every inculpatory document there is an exculpatory document in the
7 In this warrant arrest [as interpreted] for Blagojevic, the number
8 of population in Srebrenica was mentioned just before the fall, and the
9 only mention there is of 40.000 persons, and that results partially from
10 the document that this Prosecutor had and that he never shared with the
11 Blagojevic Defence during the Blagojevic case. I would like the same
12 thing repeated in our case. That's why I would like the Prosecutor to
13 share with us all the documents in his possession, all the documents that
14 refer to the number of the population, and all the numbers related to
15 humanitarian issues in the Srebrenica case.
16 JUDGE AGIUS: I'm going to be very straightforward.
17 Are you asking for a remedy, apart from asking us to enjoin the
18 Prosecution to make further searches and disclose whatever they come
19 across, Madame Fauveau? Are you satisfied with that or are you asking for
20 the pound of flesh, in other words?
21 MS. FAUVEAU: [Interpretation] No, I am happy with this.
22 JUDGE AGIUS: Do you need to respond further, Mr. McCloskey?
23 May I just point out one thing in relation to this document. This
24 document, in my mind, presents two facets. The first is what you referred
25 to, namely, the classification of the three kinds of components of the
1 population in Srebrenica in January of 1994, those who were the ordinary
2 residents, and then a second classification and the third classification.
3 One was 9.000 something, the other one was 10.000 something, and the other
4 one was 16.000 something, a total of 37.000. But then there is another
5 facet to it which goes to the Rule 68 business, namely, that there was a
6 specific request by the person who sent that document to his superiors or
7 to the office in Sarajevo, not to disclose or not to make that document
8 available to foreign institutions, because with those foreign
9 institutions, their presentation was there were 45.000 persons living in
10 Srebrenica at the time, and this is January 1994.
11 So for whatever that -- so for whatever weight that might carry, I
12 think I will take advantage of what I have just said and proceed in line
13 with the request of Madame Fauveau and enjoin you to make terra ^ 9:20:47
14 searches into whatever collection you may have in relation to the
15 demography aspect of the case, and if there are any other documents that
16 you come across that you were not aware of and maybe have not been put at
17 the disposal of the Defence expert or the Defence teams, for that matter,
18 that you do so. I'm sure you will.
19 Yes, Mr. McCloskey.
20 MR. McCLOSKEY: Yes, absolutely, Mr. President, we're planning on
21 it and we will get right on it.
22 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay, thank you.
23 Yes, Madame Fauveau.
24 MS. FAUVEAU: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I would just make a
25 correction in the transcript. I think the Chamber understood me well.
1 It's page 7, line 10. I spoke of the -- not of the warrant arrest but of
2 the decision of the Appeals Chamber of the 9th of May.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: All right, thank you. I hadn't noticed that, but I
4 had heard you say it. Thank you.
5 So I think Mr. McCloskey will switch places with Mr. Vanderpuye,
6 or vice versa. Do you wish -- one moment, I'll let Mr. Vanderpuye address
8 Mr. Vanderpuye, to you wish to address the Chamber before the
9 witness comes in or not?
10 MR. VANDERPUYE: Indeed, I do, Mr. President.
11 JUDGE AGIUS: Go ahead.
12 MR. VANDERPUYE: There are two issues. Good morning, everybody,
13 and good morning to the Chamber.
14 The first issue is relative to the witness's status, and I would
15 ask if the Court would be inclined to give him a caution pursuant to
16 Rule 90(E), I believe it is.
17 The other issue is that during the course of proofing this
18 witness, he had asked or requested protective measures, and I had
19 forwarded an e-mail to the Defence basically outlining what had
20 transpired, in our view, as to it. The witness had indicated that he --
21 JUDGE AGIUS: Ultimately, I don't know what the decision will be.
22 MR. VANDERPUYE: Yes, we can --
23 JUDGE AGIUS: So if the decision will be to proceed without
24 protective measures. But what you are going to say now could -- I don't
25 know. I mean, so let's go into private session and discuss this in
1 private session. Then we hear the other side or we just hear you, I don't
2 know, and we'll take a decision.
3 [Private session]
11 Pages 11357-11363 redacted. Private session
14 [Open session]
15 JUDGE AGIUS: So good morning to you, Witness, and welcome once
16 more to this Tribunal. Before I hand you over to Mr. Vanderpuye for his
17 examination-in-chief, I wish to alert you to a right that you have under
18 our rules as it relates to the testimony that you are about to give.
19 You, according to the information that we have, lived part of the
20 events that are the subject matter of this case, and although I have no
21 idea what you are going to testify, it is my responsibility, as the
22 Presiding Judge, to draw your attention to the following: I don't know if
23 this will be the case, but you may be asked questions, either by the
24 Prosecution or by any of the Defence teams, and in your mind you conclude
25 that if you answer that question or those questions, you might be exposing
1 yourself to criminal proceedings - I don't know if that will be the case
2 or not, I don't know that it will be, but just in case you are asked such
3 questions - then you may object to answering those questions if they tend
4 to incriminate you.
5 Now, it is not an absolute right. In other words, the position
6 will be as follows: If you object, then we have to make an assessment.
7 When I say "we," it's the three Judges up here, and we will consider your
8 submission, we will consider other submissions, and we might decide to
9 grant you exemption from answering those questions. But we may decide not
10 to grant you exemption and to compel you to answer those questions. If we
11 do, I want to put your mind at rest, that whatever you say in reply to
12 those questions shall not be used as evidence against you in any
13 subsequent proceedings, unless these proceedings are about false
14 testimony, but I don't think we need to talk about that for the time
16 Is this clear?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: And has it been explained to you already before or
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I think that Mr. Prosecutor did say
21 something along those lines.
22 JUDGE AGIUS: So feel free, if there are any such questions, to
23 draw your attention if you wish to object.
24 So I suggest now we go into private session for the first part of
25 the direct, and then we can proceed in open session. Thank you.
1 [Private session]
16 [Open session]
17 THE REGISTRAR: We're in open session, Your Honours.
18 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you.
19 Q. Sir, when were you mobilised?
20 A. I participated in the war from the very start until the end. I
21 can't give you the exact date, but from the very beginning.
22 Q. And would that be in 1992?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. And when were you demobilised?
25 A. I think it was on the 6th of April, 2006 [sic].
1 Q. Following your mobilisation, can you tell -- well, tell us where
2 you were assigned.
3 A. Do you mean the wartime period?
4 Q. Yes.
5 A. My village, Pilica, had its own independent battalion until
6 mid-1994, from the very beginning until mid-1994. So in 1994, I think
7 that this battalion joined in with the neighbouring village of Lokanj, and
8 from that time on they formed a single battalion.
9 Q. Let me just clarify with you something that appears on the record,
10 and that's at page 22, line 10 for my colleagues. In answer to the
11 question when you were demobilised, the transcript reads: "That was the
12 6th of April, 2006." Is that correct or was that 1996?
13 A. Yes, I may have made a mistake. It was in 1996.
14 Q. All right. Until 1994, what position did you hold?
15 A. At the very beginning of the war, in the very first few days when
16 the war broke out, there was a meeting at a playground or a sports area,
17 and then I was assigned by the police and the military representatives
18 there to be the commander of a company, and I was the company commander
19 for a very brief period of time, maybe one month. Quite soon, I got into
20 conflict with the battalion command, and they dismissed me from that post.
21 And until November 1994, I think, I was just a rank-and-file soldier on
22 the front line.
23 Q. In 1994, with respect to your position, did your assignment or
24 tasks change?
25 A. Yes. I said before that these two villages merged into one
1 battalion, despite a certain tension that existed between those two
2 villages. There was a previous attempt -- there had been a previous
3 attempt to merge these two into one battalion, but it was unsuccessful. I
4 think it was in November 1994 that I was appointed assistant battalion
5 commander for intelligence and security. My rank was that of a private.
6 Q. In this position as assistant for intelligence and security, to
7 whom were you subordinated?
8 A. I was directly subordinated to the battalion commander and his
9 deputy. There was also an indirect chain through which we contacted with
10 the assistant brigade commander for intelligence and security. We
11 reported to him every 30th day of the month, and we received from him
12 guidelines and instructions, for instance, what to pay special attention
13 to in the following period and what to report about to the battalion
14 commander so that battalion commander can take appropriate measures. So I
15 was exclusively subordinated to the battalion commander and his deputy.
16 Q. In 1994, who was the battalion commander for the battalion you
17 were assigned to?
18 A. Maybe I should note that there were major staffing problems in
19 many battalions, including mine, and many battalion commanders and deputy
20 battalion commanders were soldiers, privates. My battalion commander was
21 Milan Stanojevic. I'm not sure if he had a rank. Perhaps he didn't, but
22 he was a brave, courageous soldier who was tested in the war, and he was
23 greatly respected within the battalion and even further afield. His
24 deputy was Momir Pelemis.
25 Q. And at the time in 1994, who was the assistant chief of security
1 for the brigade?
2 A. The assistant brigade commander for intelligence and security was
3 Mr. Drago Nikolic, who then had the rank of lieutenant, if I'm not
5 Q. And if you recall, who was the chief of security for the brigade?
6 A. I don't understand the question. There is no such post, chief of
7 security. There was only one security organ, and it was led by
8 Mr. Nikolic.
9 Q. Did you have contact with Mr. Nikolic in the performance of your
10 duties in 1994?
11 A. I've already said that. Every 30th day of the month, we had a
12 briefing at which we reported to him about the situation in our unit, and
13 I suppose he reported on to the brigade commander to enable the brigade
14 commander to take tangible steps in the form of orders to battalion
16 Q. And how would you describe your professional relationship with
17 Mr. Nikolic during that period of time?
18 A. Well, I don't know exactly what would be noteworthy there. We had
19 a decent relationship in terms of cooperation and the things we had to
20 agree on. We were in contact a couple of times a month to exchange
21 information. I really don't know what would be of interest there.
22 Q. Did you have any personal relationship with Mr. Nikolic during
23 that period of time?
24 A. No, we didn't know each other at all. We had official contacts
25 between brigade and battalion, and we talked of other things we needed to
2 Q. Let me just move on to July of 1995. Now, in July of 1995, did
3 you occupy the same position?
4 A. I did, until the end of the war.
5 Q. And where was your office situated?
6 A. The battalion command was located in a house in Manojlovici
8 Q. And how many individuals were assigned to the command or did the
9 command consist of?
10 A. Around ten; the commander, deputy commander, assistant commander
11 for intelligence and security, assistant battalion commander for morale
12 and information, a clerk for general affairs, two drivers, two messengers,
13 and perhaps two other men who are operations officers or something like
15 Q. Now, you've named a lot of people. Do you recall their names? And
16 if you do, can you give them?
17 A. Milan Stanojevic was battalion commander. His deputy was
18 Momir Pelemis. Assistant commander for intelligence and security was me.
19 Assistant commander for morale and information was Private Dragan Pantic.
20 The officer for general affairs was Private Rajko Babic. One of the
21 drivers was Milan Jovanovic. The other was Milenko Pantic, I believe.
22 The other two included Jovan Babic, who was the other Babic's assistant.
23 And there was Zoran Markovic. Those are the two that I called operations
24 officers. And maybe there were another two or three men.
25 JUDGE KWON: Mr. Vanderpuye, if I can get the age of the witness,
1 and if you ask the witness to describe what his task was as an assistant
2 battalion commander.
3 MR. VANDERPUYE: Yes, Your Honour. I guess -- could we go into
4 private session for just a moment?
5 JUDGE AGIUS: Let's go into private session.
6 [Private session]
13 [Open session]
14 MR. VANDERPUYE:
15 Q. Sir, with respect to your duties as assistant commander for
16 security in July 1995, can you tell us what it is that you did, what your
17 responsibilities were?
18 A. While I worked inspecting the front line, touring the front line
19 to size up the situation, and if I noticed any deficiencies and
20 shortcomings, I would immediately, on that same day, report to the
21 commander and his deputy so that they can take appropriate steps.
22 As for intelligence work, we did very little, almost nothing.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: One moment, Mr. Vanderpuye, because we have noticed
24 the witness getting a little bit fidgety with his headphones.
25 Are they comfortable? Do you wish our usher to adjust them for
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I feel like they're always falling
3 off my head. That's why I keep touching them. I hear well, but they are
4 not stable on my head.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: Let's see if that works better.
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I can hear fine.
7 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. Let's proceed, and we will see. If they are
8 not steady, then we will try to change them and get you another set.
9 MR. VANDERPUYE: All right. Thank you, Mr. President.
10 Q. You said, in terms of the security aspect -- the intelligence
11 aspect of your position, you did very little, but could you tell us what
12 it is you were supposed to do, what your responsibilities were?
13 A. When I say "intelligence work," that means collecting data,
14 collecting intelligence on the enemy around the front line. Since we did
15 not have an intervention unit that was equipped for something like that,
16 that is the reason why I said we did very little or next to nothing. The
17 point was to tour the forward defence lines, the front lines, size up the
18 situation and report to the commander.
19 Q. I'd like to draw your attention to 14th of July in 1995. Do you
20 remember that day?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. And were you working on that day?
23 A. I think I was at the battalion command.
24 Q. As best as you can recall, can you tell us, did anything unusual
25 happen that day?
1 A. I don't know what you mean.
2 Q. Okay. Do you remember what you were doing in the morning of the
4 A. Business as usual, like every day.
5 Q. Did you have contact with -- well, let me rephrase the question.
6 Was the battalion commander present at the command on that day?
7 A. All the staff of the command was there except, I believe, the
8 battalion commander. Maybe I should add that since I said earlier he was
9 an indisputable authority, somebody no one dared to talk back at, there
10 were quite a few problems in the operation of the battalion when he wasn't
11 there. In normal times, the command worked in two shifts, in other words,
12 it was divided into two groups. One was led by the commander, the other
13 by the deputy. I was in the same shift as the battalion commander. In
14 extraordinary situations like the period that we are going to discuss, the
15 entire command would gather.
16 Q. Do you know where the battalion commander was on the 14th of July?
17 A. I think that a few days earlier, together with a group of 20
18 soldiers, he had gone to the Srebrenica area.
19 Q. And at that time, who was in charge of the battalion?
20 A. In the battalion, it's only the commander and the deputy commander
21 who have authority to issue orders. All the soldiers that I mentioned so
22 far are on the same level as the soldiers on the frontline, except they
23 did not do guard duty but had other duties that I spoke about earlier; to
24 tour the defence lines and to report back to the commander about the
25 shortcomings they had noticed.
1 If you just give me one more minute, I can illustrate my case.
2 For a while in 1995, we were digging trenches along the defence
3 line. It was my job to make two trenches, together with two soldiers, and
4 we finished that very soon. That evening, I sent one of the soldiers home
5 to spend the night at home and come back to the front line the next day
6 because he had worked very hard, and when I went back to the battalion
7 command I said so to the commander. He immediately punished me by sending
8 me to spend the night in the trench until the soldier comes back, just to
9 show me who had the right to issue orders and make decisions and who
11 Q. Thank you for that. On the 14th, in particular, when the
12 battalion commander was, as you recall, in Srebrenica or in that area, who
13 was in charge of the battalion?
14 A. The deputy commander, nobody else.
15 Q. Did you have any contact with the deputy commander on the morning
16 of the 14th of July?
17 A. During those days, he was upstairs in the same office as the
18 battalion commander. The rest of us were on the ground floor of that
19 house. And I'm not sure, but in the morning he came downstairs and told
20 us he had talked to somebody at the brigade, and then he got more specific
21 about what was going to follow.
22 Q. Can you tell us, as best as you can recall, what it is that he
23 told you and the other men at the command?
24 A. He said he had talked to somebody at the brigade and that person
25 told him that a group of around 200 Muslim prisoners would be arriving and
1 they would be put up in the schoolhouse near Kula. They would just spend
2 the night there and be exchanged the next day somewhere. I believe a
3 telegram followed soon after, and perhaps an hour after the telegram I
4 spoke personally to Mr. Nikolic on the telephone.
5 Q. Before we get to your conversation --
6 JUDGE AGIUS: Just one moment. Can he explain -- be specific
7 which Nikolic he is referring to, please, for the record?
8 MR. VANDERPUYE: Yes, Mr. President.
9 Q. When you say "Mr. Nikolic," can you tell us who it is you're
10 talking about?
11 A. After the news given us by the deputy commander and after the
12 telegram received by the battalion command, perhaps an hour later I got a
13 telephone call from Mr. Drago Nikolic, and he told me something very
14 similar to what was written in the telegram. I believe he told me that it
15 would be a good idea, regardless of who the deputy commander appoints to
16 go down there, for me to be there as well to avoid any problems with the
17 surrounding citizenry, because it is an inhabited area and my house is
18 perhaps 100 metres from that school.
19 JUDGE AGIUS: Shall we redact this last sentence, please? All
20 right, leave it. Let's proceed.
21 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President.
22 Q. I want to get into the specifics of the conversation you had with
23 Drago Nikolic, but first I just want to ask you: In terms of your -- in
24 terms of what was related to you by the deputy battalion commander, did he
25 indicate to you when it was these prisoners were expected at the school?
1 A. I'm not sure, but on that day it was within a few hours.
2 Q. Was there any discussion about the number of individuals that
3 would be assigned to go to this school?
4 A. I think the number of 200 was mentioned.
5 Q. I perhaps did not phrase my question as accurately as I would have
6 hoped, but when I mean the number of individuals that would be assigned,
7 I'm talking about from the command.
8 A. I don't think anybody spoke about the number, because the
9 battalion was facing a very difficult situation indeed. Its soldiers were
10 scattered across four or five front lines. All the personnel was engaged.
11 There was nobody who was free, and there was no available personnel, so I
12 don't think a number was mentioned. It was just said that 10 or 15 people
13 should be around the school when they arrive, and our main task was to
14 avoid any disruption with the people who lived in the area, and that's
15 what I discussed with Mr. Nikolic.
16 Q. All right. With respect to your conversation with Mr. Nikolic,
17 can you -- do you recall specifically what he said? And? And if you do,
18 can you relate that to us, please?
19 A. I think I have already said that. It is really necessary for me
20 to repeat?
21 Q. Let me ask this question: In your previous answer to the
22 question, you indicated that part of your conversation with Mr. Nikolic
23 involved a consideration of the citizenry in the area. Can you recall
24 specifically what was said about that, what you were expected to do or
25 asked to do, if anything?
1 A. I'll try to summarise it in one sentence.
2 He told me that it would be a good idea, regardless of who is
3 appointed by deputy commander to go to the school, it would be a good idea
4 for me to be there to avoid any problems with citizenry around.
5 Q. Now, with respect to that conversation, did you take that to be an
7 A. No. Assistant commander for intelligence and security could not
8 give me any orders. I have already described our relations at the
10 Q. Would you have refused to go under the circumstances?
11 A. There was nothing to refuse, because I didn't receive any orders.
12 Q. Did you go to the school following that conversation?
13 A. Perhaps an hour or two after that conversation, we finally set out
14 to that school, to go to that school.
15 JUDGE AGIUS: Any time it's convenient for you, Mr. Vanderpuye,
16 we'll have the break.
17 MR. VANDERPUYE: I think now is perfect, thank you.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: So we'll have a 25-minute break starting from now.
19 --- Recess taken at 10.30 a.m.
20 --- On resuming at 10.58 a.m.
21 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. Let's proceed, Mr. Vanderpuye.
22 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President.
23 Q. Just at the break, sir, you indicated that you went to the school.
24 Now, before you actually left to go to the school, did you discuss this
25 conversation that you had with Drago Nikolic with the deputy commander of
1 your battalion?
2 A. It's possible that I did tell him about this conversation that I
3 had, but an hour before that we had received a telegram and he had already
4 talked to somebody in the brigade. But I do think that I told him that I
5 had this conversation with Drago.
6 Q. And you were among the -- were you among the people that were
7 assigned to go to the school?
8 A. As I've already told you, our battalion had quite a lot of
9 problems when the battalion commander was absent, and although there is no
10 such thing as "we agreed" in the military, there was quite a lot of
11 improvisation in our work. We often opted for makeshift solutions. So I
12 can't really tell you that the battalion commander dispatched us to go
13 there, but we just happened to receive this task and we, three or four of
14 us from the battalion command, agreed that we would go there. We were
15 actually quite taken aback by the task, but what I mean to say is even if
16 the deputy commander had not sent me to go there, I would have gone there
17 on my own initiative because my whole family was there.
18 Q. Just so we're clear for the record, were you asked to go to the
19 school by your deputy commander?
20 A. I will use the term "we agreed," the three or four of us, to go
22 Q. And was this discussed in the presence of the deputy commander?
23 A. Yes, definitely.
24 Q. And was your presence among these other individuals or other
25 people assigned to go to the school, was that influenced in any way by the
1 conversation that you had with Drago Nikolic?
2 A. No. You're trying to put it to me that Drago Nikolic had ordered
3 me to go to the school. All the written documents that I received from
4 Mr. Nikolic had, in the heading, something to the
5 effect: "Information", "notice", so in those documents he merely pointed
6 to certain issues that needed to be addressed. But all the documents
7 originating from the brigade commander to the battalion had, in the
8 heading or in the subject line, the words: "I order," or something to
9 that effect.
10 I'm really sorry that the commander was not there at the battalion
11 headquarters, because he was the kind of man who would be able not to
12 comply with the order from the brigade command. Had he been there and had
13 we received the order to go to the school, it is quite possible that we
14 would not have complied with this order.
15 Q. Okay. Who went to the school with you?
16 A. I think that I went there together with the general affairs clerk,
17 Rajko Babic, and the assistant commander for morale and information,
18 Dragan Pantic. I'm not sure whether or not a dozen or so soldiers went
19 out together with us or whether they came later. I can't really be quite
20 specific about that.
21 Q. Was there any arrangement to have other soldiers accompany you
22 before you left?
23 A. Before we left, I'm sure that no soldier had gone there.
24 Q. My question was whether any arrangement had been made at the
25 command before you left to have a number of soldiers go to the school.
1 A. As I've already explained, there were a lot of problems in the
2 battalion, and we were quite taken aback when we received this telegram.
3 The deputy commander himself didn't know what to do, but I think he
4 managed to put together a group of maybe 10 or 15 men. I don't know how
5 he did that. I think that they arrived at the school after the three of
6 us arrived.
7 Q. About what time was it that you left the command?
8 A. I can't give you a definite answer, but it may have been around
10 Q. About what time did you arrive at the school?
11 A. I'm not sure about the time frame. We may have headed out an hour
12 or two later, and it may have taken us about an hour to get to the school.
13 I don't know how we actually went there, but I cannot be specific about
14 the time frame at all.
15 Q. What did you do when you got to the school?
16 A. When we got to the school, there was nobody there. I went to see
17 my family to let them know that I had arrived, and I may have stayed there
18 for some 20 minutes. As I went back towards the school, a convoy of
19 vehicles had already been formed in front of the school.
20 Q. Tell us what you saw. What was this convoy?
21 A. There were maybe some ten vehicles, most of them buses, and there
22 may have been one or two trucks.
23 Q. And what did you see? Were there other soldiers, were there other
24 people there when you came out from your home?
25 A. Yes, there were some people there who had escorted those people. I
1 didn't know them. By that time, they had already unloaded some of the
2 prisoners and put them in the school gym. That was before I came.
3 Q. Well, when you arrived, what was the condition of the school? Was
4 it open, was it closed?
5 A. As I was on my way back from my house, the gym was already full of
7 Q. Okay. When you first arrived, I mean, at the school, what was the
8 condition of it?
9 A. I don't know what you mean when you say "the condition."
10 Q. Was it open or was it closed?
11 A. Well, we didn't even get close to the door of the school building
12 because we saw that there was nobody there, and then I just went on to my
13 house. I guess it was locked, but that's just my guess, nothing else.
14 Q. When you came out, you saw the people were being put into the
15 school. Do you have any idea how the school was opened for them?
16 A. I can't tell you who opened the school because I don't know
17 anything about that.
18 Q. Were any preparations made to receive these prisoners by you or
19 your men before they arrived?
20 A. I can't tell you anything about that. While I was at home, I
21 guess that Babic and Pantic remained there. But as to what they did, I
22 can't tell you anything about that because I was not there.
23 Q. Okay. About how many buses and trucks did you see?
24 A. Approximately a total of about ten.
25 Q. About how many of these men that you didn't recognise did you see?
1 A. Well, now you're asking me about details that I'm not sure I can
2 give you an accurate answer. At the time when I got there, on my way back
3 from the home, they had already pretty much filled the gym, and had it
4 been possible to put all of them inside the gym, they would have unloaded
5 all of them. And then we got into this conflict with them, and they
6 stopped unloading people. But each vehicle had three to four men as
7 escorts, so I can't give you an exact number of those people that I didn't
9 Q. What is the conflict that you had with these people?
10 A. Well, I don't know if you can properly call it a conflict. We
11 asked them, "What are you doing?" And there was an exchange of harsh
12 words, but regardless of what we said, they did what they wanted to do.
13 And had it been possible for them to unload all of the prisoners there,
14 I'm sure that they would have done so.
15 Q. Was this before or after the 10 or 15 people or men had been
16 arranged -- that had been arranged by the deputy commander to go to the
17 school arrived?
18 A. Yes, I think that they actually arrived at a later stage.
19 Q. Now, the 10 or 15 people that had been arranged by the commander,
20 from what battalion were they?
21 A. They were from the 1st Battalion of the Zvornik Brigade.
22 Q. What were they assigned to do once they arrived at the school?
23 A. Our main task was to protect the local population, as I've already
24 indicated. At no point in time were we able to exert any influence on the
25 events that had to do with the unloading and treatment of those prisoners.
1 Q. With respect to the protection of the local population, what did
2 those men do and what did you do?
3 A. Well, there was a panic in the houses in the vicinity. I think
4 that some families even took their family members to the Federal Republic
5 of Yugoslavia, and I think that some 15 people, women, children, actually
6 slept in my house in those days because they were afraid of what was
7 happening in the school. At first, the people didn't even believe that
8 something like that might happen, but when they saw what was going on,
9 there was quite a lot of confusion there.
10 Q. Did you do anything with respect to the local population before
11 the prisoners actually arrived? Did you have any contact with them?
12 A. I think that everything happened very fast, but the few people
13 that we spoke to didn't really believe what we said, and they had certain
14 reservations about what we said. They simply didn't believe what we told
16 Q. What did you tell them?
17 A. Well, more or less that a group of prisoners would arrive and that
18 they would spend the night there, that they would be there until the next
19 morning, and that they shouldn't walk around, they shouldn't go there and
20 watch, and so on. Things to that effect.
21 Q. That occurred before you went to your home?
22 A. Yes. I think that, in passing, we may have spoken to two or three
23 families. I'm not sure.
24 Q. When you say "we," who do you mean?
25 A. The three of us from the battalion command.
1 Q. With respect to the soldiers that later arrived, what did they do
2 with respect to this local population?
3 A. Well, they were positioned at two or three points around the gym,
4 and as to what their actual task was, it was to prevent any contact with
5 the locals. There were quite a few curious people there who perhaps could
6 even have gotten into the school building otherwise. There were many
7 people in the immediate vicinity who had lost their closest kin. So all
8 kinds of situations could have emerged. Those people may have been ready
9 to do something, something worse.
10 Q. Are you suggesting that the men were protecting the prisoners from
11 the local population?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Were the men also preventing the prisoners from escaping?
14 A. Well, it's a complex issue, in fact. The sole authority over
15 these people was exerted by the men who escorted them. They had the power
16 to take them out at any point and do whatever they wished with them. We
17 were there simply as silent observers.
18 Q. Were your men also preventing the prisoners from escaping?
19 A. The prisoners never tried to escape at all.
20 Q. Was that one of their tasks?
21 A. I wouldn't agree with you.
22 Q. You indicated that it's a complex situation. Tell us specifically
23 what those men were tasked with when they arrived at the school.
24 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Ms. Nikolic.
25 MS. NIKOLIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, well, this question has
1 been asked several times, and the witness has already answered it. We've
2 kept quiet until now, but it really makes no sense.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: Your objections are sustained. Move to your next
4 question, Mr. Vanderpuye.
5 MR. VANDERPUYE:
6 Q. Where were the men positioned around the school?
7 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Ms. Nikolic. One moment, Witness.
8 MS. NIKOLIC: [Interpretation] The same objection again. The
9 witness was asked this question and he answered by saying that there were
10 two or three points, and so the answer is somewhere on the previous page.
11 JUDGE AGIUS: The question is whether he is asking the witness to
12 identify the exact location of those three points. That far we can accept
13 the question. Beyond that, obviously, you would be right, Ms. Nikolic.
14 Or perhaps you can move straight to your next question, Mr. Vanderpuye.
15 Let's come to the substance.
16 MR. VANDERPUYE:
17 Q. Well, of the men -- well, what men were positioned around the
19 A. Well, there were no positions and nobody actually assigned those
20 people to certain places. When our men came from the battalion, they
21 stood around the school on their own initiative, and as I've already
22 noted, we were completely taken aback by the events.
23 Q. Now, your men stood around the school where?
24 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Ms. Nikolic.
25 MS. NIKOLIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, the witness has already
1 answered this question.
2 [Trial Chamber confers]
3 MR. VANDERPUYE: I can respond to that, if you would allow me, but
4 I don't think it would be appropriate to do it in the presence of the
6 JUDGE AGIUS: I'm of the opinion that you should move ahead,
7 Mr. Vanderpuye. I think we've covered this. And then if, in the course
8 of your next questions, it is important to refer the witness back to any
9 exact location as regards him or any of his colleagues, you can do that.
10 But let's move, please.
11 JUDGE KWON: Can I interrupt one second, Mr. Vanderpuye? I meant
12 to reserve this question until the last moment, but this is the third or
13 fourth time the witness said that they had been taken aback.
14 Witness, you said that you and others were taken aback when you
15 were informed that the prisoners were to be arriving at Pilica School. Can
16 I ask the reason why you were taken aback?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, Your Honour, the troops in our
18 battalion were mostly -- well, 99 per cent of them were just villagers,
19 and they held a line in front of our village and they had absolutely no
20 war experience, no combat experience. In the four years of war, none of
21 us had ever seen this enemy of ours in the flesh, and the thing that was
22 about to happen at the school was -- came as a great surprise to all of
24 JUDGE KWON: What do you mean by "the thing that was about to
25 happen at the school"? They were just prisoners, and as you indicate,
1 they never tried to escape. If they were detained or later exchanged,
2 what problem would there have been? My question is whether you were aware
3 at the moment they were to be executed.
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, absolutely, and we did not
5 become aware for quite a long time of what would happen. But their
6 arrival in our village was something that caused a great deal of concern
7 for us, us in the battalion, but this was an event that we had no
8 influence over, right from the start up until the very -- up until the
9 very end.
10 JUDGE KWON: Could you further elaborate why that was a concern to
11 your battalion?
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The situation in the battalion was
13 quite complex. The line was weak. There were just one or two men manning
14 the trenches. And on top of all those problems that we had, now we had
15 those prisoners to think about and to worry about, and the battalion
16 commander was not there.
17 JUDGE KWON: Thank you, Witness. Sorry for the interruption.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you, Judge Kwon.
19 Mr. Vanderpuye.
20 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you.
21 JUDGE AGIUS: And please remember our suggestion to move forward,
23 MR. VANDERPUYE: I was just going to follow up on some of the
25 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. You're free to do that.
1 MR. VANDERPUYE:
2 Q. What specifically were you worried about with respect to these
3 prisoners in the town?
4 JUDGE AGIUS: That is precisely the -- as I understand it, unless
5 I'm becoming deficient, that's the answer that -- the question that
6 Judge Kwon put and the witness answered. Correct me if I am not
7 understanding well, please I stand to be corrected.
8 MR. VANDERPUYE: I don't wish to correct you, Mr. President, but
9 the answer was: "It was a complex situation and that there were problems
10 and we had to think about them and worry about them." And that doesn't
11 answer the question, which is why I put it to the witness again.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: He's explained. The panic that was created amongst
13 the population, the lack of combat preparedness, preparation, on the part
14 of his group, the absence of the commander, and do I have to continue and
16 MR. VANDERPUYE: I'll just take it --
17 JUDGE AGIUS: Let's move. Okay, let's move.
18 MR. VANDERPUYE:
19 Q. Did you have any contact with these soldiers that you said you
20 didn't recognise during the time that you were at the school?
21 A. No.
22 Q. Did you ascertain who was commanding these soldiers?
23 A. No.
24 Q. Did you try to ascertain who was commanding these soldiers?
25 A. No.
1 Q. Why not?
2 A. They ruled the overall situation. I suppose they had contact with
3 their superior, and we were on the sideline all the time. Maybe we did
4 have superficial contact with them, but it was nothing that could
5 significantly influence the events.
6 Q. Did you ascertain from them what was to be done with these
8 A. I think from the very start --
9 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Ms. Nikolic.
10 MS. NIKOLIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, the witness was asked
11 whether he had contact with these soldiers. His answer was, "No." What
12 is the basis for this follow-up question?
13 JUDGE AGIUS: He also said that there may have been some contact.
14 He did not exclude it categorically. So I would rephrase your question
15 and put to the witness whether at least they asked these soldiers how long
16 these prisoners were going to be kept, how long the situation was going to
17 persist, what was going to happen. Perhaps you can direct your question
18 along those lines.
19 MR. VANDERPUYE: Okay. I just didn't want to lead the witness in
20 any way.
21 JUDGE AGIUS: Unless I hear an objection, you are being given the
22 go-ahead to lead in this direction.
23 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you very much, Mr. President.
24 Q. Did you find out from these prisoners -- from these soldiers how
25 long these prisoners were to stay at this school?
1 A. I think that from the very start, we found out, although I don't
2 know how, that they would just spend the night there, and the next morning
3 would be exchanged. How we got that information, I don't know, but
4 everybody who was there knew it. It's even possible that from the moment
5 we left the battalion command, we had that information, but I cannot be
6 sure about that.
7 Q. Did anybody from the command that you were with at this school
8 have contact with these soldiers that you didn't recognise?
9 A. I suppose there were individual contacts, one to one, but the
10 event proceeded according to the instructions of the people who came in
11 escort of these prisoners.
12 Q. Did they give you particular instructions?
13 A. No, they didn't need to contact with us at all.
14 Q. Can you describe what the condition of the school or the condition
15 of the prisoners were while you were at the school on the 14th of July?
16 A. I went into the school just once or twice over those two days.
17 Rajko Babic spent more time inside. Therefore, I cannot say much about
18 the condition of the prisoners. I just glanced inside the gym once or
19 twice from the doorway. A very unpleasant smell emanated from there, and
20 you couldn't bear to be in the doorway for more than a minute or two.
21 When the guard who was inside went out, they would shift and cover the
22 entire floor. And when the guard would come in to tell them something,
23 they would suddenly withdraw and only occupy one-third of the floor.
24 Q. The guard that you're speaking about, was that a member of your
25 battalion or was that someone else?
1 A. I'm speaking all the time about those men who came in their
3 Q. And when you went inside the school, did you do that under some
4 direction or instruction?
5 A. I only went in to see what the situation was like. There was no
6 one there who could give me any orders.
7 Q. Did you report what you observed to your deputy commander, or the
8 deputy commander of the battalion, to be more precise?
9 A. I think we spoke more than once over that period while they were
11 Q. What did you tell in relation to the condition of the prisoners
12 and the security situation?
13 A. I think we spoke for the first time on the 15th in the morning.
14 That is when we realised that those people were not leaving, as we had
15 been told earlier. I think that's when he called me and told me that he
16 had spoken with someone from the brigade command. He had requested that
17 those people be driven away from somewhere else, but this request was not
18 met with any understanding. That's when we agreed between us that I, too,
19 should go to the brigade command for the same purpose, to demand from
20 somebody that those people be driven somewhere else.
21 Q. Did you have any discussion with him concerning the objection that
22 you had that had taken place earlier on the 14th?
23 A. It's possible that we exchanged a couple of sentences concerning
24 what was going on around the school. But I repeat this. There were men
25 who were in control of that situation. We had no influence on that. Our
1 only desire was that those people be driven somewhere else as soon as
2 possible. That's why he approached the superior command with that
3 request, and that's why I was going there, for the same reason.
4 Q. Now, with respect to the prisoners that were not in the school,
5 can you tell us where they were kept?
6 A. Well, those five or so vehicles that had not been unloaded
7 remained standing outside the school, and I think they spent the night
8 there, the night of the 14th. On the morning of the 15th, and I'm not
9 sure about the time, I suppose that they had spoken to somebody in the
10 meantime. In any case, the vehicles turned around and left away from the
11 village. We didn't know where they were going.
12 Q. Do you know how those vehicles were secured, if at all, during
13 that night, the night of the 14th, into the 15th?
14 A. I think they were guarded by those people who were in escort.
15 Q. On the morning of the -- let me withdraw that. Where did you
16 spend the night, that is, the night of the 14th, into the 15th?
17 A. That night, maybe until midnight, I was with troops, and then
18 around midnight, perhaps, I went home to get some rest.
19 Q. Were you in contact with the other members of the command after
20 you left to go home?
21 A. Well, we said hello and goodbye to each other. It was a matter of
22 course that I was going to tell them that I was going home. Babic, Pantic
23 and I were not there all the time. We took turns, and each of us was
24 there only half of the time. But exactly how long our stints were, I
25 couldn't tell you.
1 Q. Perhaps it was a translation misunderstanding, but my question is:
2 After you went home, were you in contact with these other members of the
4 A. No.
5 Q. And when was it that you -- when was it that you resumed contact
6 with them on the 15th?
7 A. I don't know exactly when I arrived that morning. Maybe around
8 6.00. I'm not sure.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: Ms. Nikolic.
10 MS. NIKOLIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I would appreciate it
11 if my learned friend would specify which command he is asking about. The
12 battalion command or the brigade command?
13 MR. VANDERPUYE: That's well taken.
14 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. I'm sure Mr. Vanderpuye will oblige.
15 MR. VANDERPUYE: Yes.
16 Q. I mean the battalion command, the members who actually went with
17 you to the school. Those are the command members I'm talking about. I
18 think -- well, you tell me. Your answer, did you understand it when I put
19 it to you, the question?
20 A. Yes, I understood. I meant members of the battalion command.
21 Q. All right. Now, in around 6.00 in the morning, what was the
22 nature of that contact? Were you provided with any information?
23 A. Well, the next contact we had when I came back to the school,
24 maybe we exchanged a few words like were there any problems in the
25 meantime and such.
1 Q. Did you receive any information that there had been any problems?
2 A. No. They told me there had been no problems.
3 Q. Did you receive any information there had been any incidents?
4 A. No.
5 Q. And did you receive any information as to the condition of the
6 prisoners overnight?
7 A. I was only concerned and talked about our soldiers, not prisoners,
8 but we were able to note that the night had passed and we were waiting to
9 see what was going to happen from the morning of the 15th on.
10 Q. What happened next?
11 A. I think I've already mentioned that conversation between me and
12 the deputy, the deputy commander.
13 Q. And what did you do after that conversation?
14 A. After he told me he had spoken to someone himself, we agreed that
15 I was going to go to the brigade command myself, and I think it was about
16 10.00 or 11.00 that I left, together with a driver, Milan Jovanovic, for
17 the brigade command.
18 Q. Did you go straight to the brigade command?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. And where did you go once you reached the brigade command?
21 A. I went to see the commanding officer on duty.
22 Q. Can you tell us who that is?
23 A. I cannot tell you exactly who it was, but there were four or five
24 commanding officers from the brigade there talking about the chaotic
25 situation, and it was a laden atmosphere. They barely noticed me when I
1 came in.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Before we proceed any further, just two points that
3 need to be established. One is: He and the other members of his group
4 that went to Kula School, whether they were wearing uniforms, and,
5 secondly, whether they were carrying any weapons. Thank you.
6 MR. VANDERPUYE:
7 Q. I think you've understood the President's question. When you went
8 with the other members of the command to the school, were you armed?
9 A. I think that Pantic, Babic and I did not have weapons, while the
10 soldiers did have their weapons.
11 Q. And did they arrive there in uniform?
12 A. I cannot be sure. There was some men who didn't have a uniform at
13 all, and they manned the front lines in their regular clothes. So I
14 cannot emphatically claim that everybody was in uniform.
15 JUDGE AGIUS: Was he wearing a uniform?
16 MR. VANDERPUYE:
17 Q. Were you in uniform?
18 A. Yes, I was in uniform.
19 Q. And what about the other members of the command that were with
21 A. I think they were in uniform, too.
22 Q. And the individuals that you didn't -- or the people that you
23 didn't recognise there, the soldiers, were they in uniform?
24 A. Yes, I think they were in military uniform too.
25 Q. Can you describe the uniforms they were in?
1 A. I don't think I can be precise, and I don't want to speculate.
2 Q. When you went to the command, did you have a discussion with
3 anybody about the circumstances concerning the school?
4 A. Well, I had an informal discussion starting with those four or
5 five commanding officers, and I was trying to paint the situation in even
6 more dramatic terms that it actually was. I think I even said that two of
7 the prisoners had escaped. They first bought this story, but then I
8 admitted very soon that it wasn't actually true. I was simply taken aback
9 by the lack of concern they displayed about the problem I came to discuss
10 with them. I gave it a lot of thought, and I think it's not normal, when
11 somebody from a battalion command comes to see the brigade command, and
12 they are treated in that way. I told them immediately why I was there,
13 but they seemed totally preoccupied with the situation about capturing
14 some line or other. They were talking about the losses our side had
15 sustained. But I came away from all that with a conclusion that it was
16 possible that even this operation, I mean the school, was controlled from
17 a level much higher than that of the brigade even, and I came away with
18 that impression because my arrival and what I said to them barely
19 registered with them.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Ms. Nikolic.
21 MS. NIKOLIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, it's not an objection.
22 It's just a question of interpretation. It's page 52, line 5, where it
23 says "commanding officers," "five commanding officers." It has a
24 different connotation than what the witness said. The witness
25 said "officers from the command." Maybe it should be clarified with the
2 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's note, the word used by the witness
3 is "staresina", and that is, as we were told, translated by commanding
5 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank Ms. Nikolic and I also thank the interpreter
6 for letting us know the exact word, Serbian word, used by the witness.
7 As I recall, the witness earlier on referred to four or five duty
8 officers or officers on duty at the -- from the brigade at the command
9 building, so I think we need to know whether we are still referring to the
10 same persons, first of all, and which would be the best description to fit
11 the role that they had at the time. I think the witness himself can help
12 us here. I mean, these four or five or six persons that you tried to
13 convince, who were they exactly? I'm not asking you for the names because
14 you've already said that you don't know any names, but what was their
15 office at the time, what was their rank, or what were they doing there?
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Those were commanding officers from
17 the brigade, but what exactly each of their job was, I cannot say.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: Were they together or did you speak to them
19 separately, or how come that you met not just with one commanding officer
20 but with four or five at the same time?
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It's an office where the duty
22 officer usually sits, the duty officer for the brigade. But at that
23 moment inside that office, there were four or five commanding officers who
24 were discussing something, namely, the thing that I already mentioned.
25 JUDGE KWON: Witness, what you mean by "commanding officer," an
1 officer in the position of a commander? For example, company commander or
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Company level does not exist in the
4 brigade. It exists only in the battalion. So these officers were
5 employed in the brigade command, but what exactly each of them was
6 responsible for, I cannot say.
7 JUDGE KWON: Thank you.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: Back to you, Mr. Vanderpuye.
9 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President.
10 Q. Now, what specifically was the response that you received to your
12 A. I think I've already mentioned it. They seemed totally
13 uninterested in what I was saying, and that's why I drew the conclusions I
14 drew. But one of them, I think, asked me, "Are there any woods close to
15 where you are," something like that, like, "Why aren't you killing them
16 off?" I said that I and my men cannot kill a single person, and I think
17 one of them responded something like, "If you are not going to kill them,
18 then let them drown you all down at the village."
19 Q. And --
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Before we move, you're still not in a position to
21 tell us who this person was, this commanding officer who spoke to you in
22 this way?
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, I really don't remember who
24 those officers were. I think that one of the four or five may have been
25 Captain Jokic, but I'm not sure who was actually engaged in this
1 conversation that I spoke about.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you.
3 MR. VANDERPUYE:
4 Q. Now, specifically what did you request from these officers that
5 you spoke to?
6 A. The only request that I made was for them to drive them away from
7 the Kula School as soon as possible, and my impression was that they,
8 themselves, had no influence over the events.
9 Q. Did you ask any of these officers to convey your request to the
10 brigade commander?
11 A. I think that one of them left the office and came back quite soon,
12 and he said that Major Obrenovic -- whether he had actually seen him or
13 spoken to him, I don't know, but what he relayed to us was that there was
14 a total lack of interest in that problem.
15 JUDGE AGIUS: What you've just told us, in other words, one of
16 these commanding officers coming back to you mentioning Major Obrenovic,
17 possibly, and the rest, was this after or before that one of the
18 commanding officers had spoken to you about woods around Pilica and
19 killing of prisoners? Was it before or after?
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Try as I might, I cannot establish a
21 time-line of events.
22 JUDGE AGIUS: One further question. When you first arrived at the
23 post, there were these commanding officers in the room of the duty
24 officer. How could you establish that the four or five of them were all
25 commanding officers? Did they tell you so or did they have any insignia
1 that could explain this to you? How did you come to that conclusion?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, I know most of the officers in
3 the Zvornik Brigade, so I knew them by sight, I knew their faces, and that
4 is how I was able to tell that there was nobody from the outside there,
5 because I went to the brigade command quite often. I think that there was
6 a very small number of people there that I wasn't able to recognise by
7 sight. In other words, I knew what they looked like.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you.
9 MR. VANDERPUYE:
10 Q. This person that told you -- this officer that told you that you
11 should kill these prisoners, did he attribute that statement or remark to
12 anyone else?
13 A. I really can't speak about that with any degree of certainty. It
14 is possible that he may have invoked Major Obrenovic as an authority, but
15 I cannot be definite about it. So this was an informal conversation
16 between me and them.
17 Q. What did you do after that?
18 JUDGE KWON: Can I interrupt a minute here? I noted it. Page 55,
19 line 13 to 15, he said he stopped -- he said that Major Obrenovic did
20 something, but I didn't hear he said anything about Major Obrenovic.
21 Could you clarify with the witness further? So I wonder whether there is
22 a total lack of interest in that problem is a description of what
23 Major Obrenovic responded.
24 MR. VANDERPUYE: Right.
25 Q. You had indicated, in response to a question I asked about, what
1 specifically you requested from these officers. In your answer, you said
2 that the person came back and said that Major Obrenovic -- and then you
3 stopped, and then you indicated that that person relayed that there was a
4 total lack of interest in the problem. The question is: Is that -- was
5 the person relaying to you what Major Obrenovic was saying about the
7 A. This gentleman that went out came back after a brief period of
8 time, and he invoked his authority. Now, I don't know whether he saw him
9 or merely spoke to him. I can only speculate on that. But what he
10 relayed to me is that there was a complete lack of interest in the
11 problem, which was abnormal, it was unusual.
12 We have a situation as follows: I come to the brigade's command
13 and I ask these people to be taken away, and the least that they should
14 have told me was we would come in an hour or somebody would come in
15 an hour or two, a day or two. Based on the fact that nobody gave me any
16 response, I concluded, and that's my personal conclusion, that this
17 operation had been conducted from a level that was way higher than that of
18 a brigade.
19 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Ms. Nikolic.
20 MS. NIKOLIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, at page 57, my learned
21 colleague asked the witness -- I'm sorry, 56, line 15, I will now read in
22 English because I cannot translate: [In English] "This person that told
23 you, this officer that told you, that you should kill these prisoners."
24 [Interpretation] The witness never said that this officer had said
25 something to that effect, because if we look at lines 17 through 20 of
1 page 57 -- 54, we can see that what the witness said is completely
2 different from this suggestion.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay, point taken. The rest can become a
4 submission, but point taken, Ms. Nikolic. I think we can safely proceed.
5 MR. VANDERPUYE: I'm sorry, I'm just catching up with you. I want
6 to find it.
7 JUDGE AGIUS: Well, the witness had said, if you look at page 54,
8 line 19: "But one of them, I think, asked me, 'Are there any woods close
9 to where you are,' something like that, like, 'Why aren't you killing them
10 off?' I said that I and my men and I cannot kill a single person. And I
11 think one of them responded something like, 'If you are not going to kill
12 them, then let them drown you all down at the village."
13 It's Ms. Nikolic's position that this cannot be condensed in the
14 words that you used when you put one of the questions, one of the
15 subsequent questions to the witness, page 56, line 15 and 16: "This
16 person that told you -- that told you that you should kill these
17 prisoners, did he attribute that statement to him or anyone else."
18 This is basically -- there is disagreement between your way of
19 putting it and her way of understanding the words of the witness, this is
20 it. I'm obviously not commenting on it.
21 MR. VANDERPUYE: Okay.
22 JUDGE AGIUS: I think as I said before, it's time we proceed,
23 basically. We've taken the point made by Ms. Nikolic.
24 MR. VANDERPUYE:
25 Q. What did you do after you had this discussion at the brigade?
1 A. After that, I went back to the village, and I was a much more
2 worried man than I had been when I had left, because at that point in time
3 I suddenly began to realise the seriousness of the situation we were in.
4 As first, we had been told that these people would spend there
5 just one night and that they would be taken away the next morning. I went
6 to the brigade command and I got no answer there. And when I got to the
7 school, my men expected me to tell them what the results of my visits
8 were, and I think that there was no need for them to ask any questions.
9 All they had to do was look at me and they knew more or less what the
10 result was. I was angry, in a foul mood, and that meant that there was no
11 light at the end of this tunnel.
12 Q. Did you stop anywhere on the way back to the school?
13 A. Yes. Since in the meantime we had heard that there were some
14 prisoners in the Pilica culture hall, the dom, I went to the village
15 centre with the driver, and across the road from the culture hall, and
16 they may have spent there a minute or two. I merely wanted to have a look
17 at what was going on down there.
18 Q. What did you see?
19 A. All I was able to see was that there was security around this
20 area, and those were again men I didn't know. There was no need for me to
21 get any closer because there were no soldiers from our battalion there.
22 Q. Were these men in uniform?
23 A. I think that there were military uniforms and police uniforms too.
24 That's what I was able to see from a distance of maybe 50 or 60 metres.
25 Q. Were there vehicles, military vehicles, in the vicinity?
1 A. No, I don't think so, but I can't really be very specific about
2 this and give you too many details, because I spent a very short time
4 Q. Forgive me if you've already answered this, but how long did you
5 spend there?
6 A. Two or three minutes.
7 Q. And after that, you went to the school. Did you go directly?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. And did you communicate your observations of the dom to the deputy
10 commander of the battalion?
11 A. No.
12 Q. What did you do when you got back to the school?
13 A. Nothing specific. The second day was slowly coming to a close,
14 and we were beginning to realise that we would spend another night there
15 too. I probably spoke to the deputy commander and relayed to him the
16 results of my visits to the brigade.
17 Q. What, if anything, did the deputy commander do or say as a result
18 of what you told him?
19 A. All we could do was to express our concern about the future course
20 of events, and in one of the conversations I think that we agreed that we
21 have to rotate the 15 or so soldiers that were stationed there and replace
22 them by other soldiers. And I think that in the evening of the 15th, he
23 sent 15 soldiers, and the 15 soldiers who had been there at the school
24 went -- either they went home or they went to the lines. I can't be more
1 So the second night passed. I was again there perhaps until 2200
2 hours, and then I went home to rest until the morning.
3 Q. Now, with respect to the second night, you mean the night of the
4 15th, into the 16th; is that right?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. When you went home, were you in contact with other members of the
7 battalion command who had accompanied you there in the first instance?
8 A. I don't know what you mean when you say "contact."
9 Q. Were you in radio contact with them or telephone contact with them
10 once you left the school?
11 A. No, absolutely not.
12 Q. What about in contact with the deputy commander of the battalion;
13 were you in contact with him overnight?
14 A. Not during the night. I did have, I think, a Motorola with me,
15 and we spoke throughout the day maybe two or three times over that
16 Motorola. But when I got home for the night, I did not have any contact
17 either with the deputy commander or the people that had remained there at
18 the school.
19 Q. Between the time that you came back to the school from the dom and
20 the time you went home, how much time did you actually spend at the school
22 A. Well, it's difficult to say. I'd often leave during the day, so
23 perhaps I spent half of the time there and half of the time I was
24 somewhere else.
25 Q. During the time that you were there, did you become aware of any
1 problems relating to the prisoners?
2 A. Not. Usually when I got back, I talked to Babic or Pantic and I'd
3 ask them if there had been any problems, and they would tell me that there
4 had been no incidents.
5 Q. Is that your recollection of what you were told on the 15th and
7 A. I don't know -- I don't understand your question.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: Ms. Nikolic.
9 MS. NIKOLIC: [Interpretation] I think that the witness replied
10 quite clearly that this was the 16th or, rather, that it wasn't the 16th.
11 MR. VANDERPUYE: The confusion may be with respect to the
12 translation, because the answer says, "That's what they would tell me,"
13 and that suggests that he's talking about more than one instance. And
14 that's the reason why the question was put to him.
15 JUDGE AGIUS: I think it's the case of going ahead. You need to
16 repeat your question now, I think, because I want to make sure that it
17 goes clear, reaches the witness in a clear manner.
18 MR. VANDERPUYE: Okay. Thank you, Mr. President.
19 Q. My question is: Is your recollection of what you were told on the
20 15th by Babic or Pantic that there had been no incidents?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Do you have the same recollection with respect to what you were
23 told by Babic or Pantic on the morning of the 16th?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. During the time that you were at the school on the 15th, did you
1 yourself become aware of any incidents involving the prisoners?
2 A. Our main interest, what we wanted to do most of all, was to get
3 those prisoners out of there as soon as possible. As for the treatment
4 afforded those prisoners, this is something that was up to the people who
5 were escorting them, but I was not present when there were any incidents
6 on the parts that involved the soldiers who were escorting them, so they
7 did not mistreat or abuse in any way those prisoners. They treated them in
8 a -- like military men, but there were no problems.
9 Q. On the morning of the 16th, after you spoke with Babic or Pantic,
10 what happened?
11 A. Well, at around 8.00 or 9.00 in the morning, I was called by the
12 deputy commander, and he told me more or less the following: That
13 somebody from the brigade command had called him and that he had been told
14 that we should not worry, that people would finally come and take those
15 prisoners away from there. And we were greatly relieved to hear that, all
16 of us.
17 Q. Did he say where these prisoners were going to be taken?
18 A. No, absolutely not.
19 Q. Did he say when they were going to be removed?
20 A. I can't really say, but he may have said something about in two or
21 three hours, somebody would come in.
22 Q. And did he say how they were going to be removed?
23 A. No, absolutely not. He merely said that I should not worry, that
24 some people would come and take them away, and he did not go beyond that.
25 Q. Okay. What happened after that conversation?
1 A. Well, we waited for somebody to come to take those people away.
2 Q. And did somebody come?
3 A. Yes. I think at around 1200 hours, two officers came. I didn't
4 know them. That was the first and the last time I saw them. And then a
5 van came. There may have been about a dozen soldiers in that van. And
6 then an empty bus came.
7 MR. VANDERPUYE: With the Court's permission, I think this is a
8 good spot to break.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: We'll have a 25-minute break starting from now.
10 --- Recess taken at 12.30 p.m.
11 --- On resuming at 12.58 p.m.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Vanderpuye.
13 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President.
14 Q. Where we left off, you'd indicated that around 1200 hours on the
15 16th, two officers came. Before these officers arrived, did you see any
16 bodies in and around the area of the school, the road, in that vicinity?
17 A. No.
18 Q. Did you receive any reports about any bodies in the vicinity of
19 the school or that area?
20 A. No.
21 Q. Did you see any bodies on the 15th?
22 A. No.
23 Q. And what about the 14th?
24 A. No.
25 Q. And did you receive any reports about bodies on the 15th or the
2 A. No, really not.
3 Q. Now, when these officers arrived, tell us what happened.
4 A. I've already said. After they arrived, a van came carrying ten
5 soldiers or so, and the van was followed by an empty bus. They were
6 rather insolent and arrogant towards us, and they immediately started
7 loading and taking away the prisoners.
8 Q. When you say they were insolent and arrogant, can you just
9 describe for us what you saw them do, if anything?
10 A. I don't know exactly which word to use, but they were rather
11 hostile towards us from the 1st Battalion of the Zvornik Brigade. For
12 what reason, I don't know.
13 Q. The van that you saw, could you describe what colour it was?
14 A. No. No, really, those are details I can't speak about.
15 Q. And what, if anything, did you see these officers actually do?
16 A. I said that as soon as they arrived, the operation of loading and
17 taking away the prisoners started.
18 Q. Okay. Did you see them interacting with anybody?
19 A. I'm really not sure.
20 Q. Did you have any interaction with them, personally?
21 A. Not me, personally, but one of our soldiers told me that one of
22 them had asked after me. He wanted to know where I was. I wasn't there
23 at the moment. And I think that person said that I was going to the
24 brigade to complain. They didn't need to talk to anybody. They probably
25 had a very clear purpose, a clear objective.
1 Q. Did the soldier tell you which one of the two had asked after you?
2 A. No.
3 Q. Did you ask the soldier?
4 A. No. It didn't matter to me.
5 Q. Can you describe these two officers that you saw?
6 A. Yes. One of them was very tall, going bald, with striking
7 features. I think the other one was a bit shorter than the first,
8 dark-haired, but I remember the first one more clearly.
9 Q. Do you recall giving a description of these two officers
11 A. I don't understand what you're driving at.
12 Q. Do you recall having described these two officers on a prior
13 occasion before today?
14 A. It's possible that I described them in the same way I did now.
15 That was the only time I ever saw those people. To the best of my
16 recollection, that's what they looked like, but who they are, I really
17 cannot say with any certainty.
18 Q. My question is: Do you recall having given a description of them
19 on a prior occasion?
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Meek.
21 MR. MEEK: Mr. President, Your Honours, this has been asked and
22 answered. He just asked it and the witness said, "It's possible that I
23 did," so is he just going to keep asking this question repeatedly, because
24 he's answered it.
25 MR. VANDERPUYE: I would beg to differ with my colleague.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Vanderpuye.
2 MR. VANDERPUYE: I'm sorry for interrupting.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, yes, go ahead.
4 MR. VANDERPUYE: I beg to differ with my colleague. What was --
5 the witness said it's possible that he described them in the way he did
6 previously. My question is whether or not he recalls having described
7 them. That's a "yes" or "no" -- that's a "yes" or "no" question.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: The previous question was: "Do you recall having
9 described these two officers on a prior occasion before today?" Which is
10 exactly the same question which you're putting now. His answer
11 was: "It's possible I described them in the same way I did now. That was
12 the only time I ever saw these people. To the best of my recollection,
13 that's what they looked like, but who they are, I really cannot say with
14 any certainty."
15 Now, the question is: "Do you recall having given a description
16 of them on a prior occasion?" So the two are different. I mean, the
17 previous one was: "Do you recall having ever described on a previous
18 occasion," and now it refers directly to a possible description that he
19 may have given before.
20 One moment.
21 [Trial Chamber confers]
22 JUDGE AGIUS: Go straight to the point. You can try to refresh
23 the witness's memory, if you are in a position to do so, and then we'll
24 see what he has to say. But the two questions are, although they look the
25 same, they are actually somewhat different, and one follows the previous
2 Go ahead.
3 MR. VANDERPUYE: Okay. Thank you, Mr. President.
4 Q. Do you remember describing these individuals as one being quite
5 strongly built, quite bulky, with grey hair, and the other being quite
6 shorter, wearing a moustache, with a dark complexion? Do you recall
7 having given that description of these officers?
8 A. I am testifying here under oath, and I don't want to say anything
9 rash. I saw those men then for the first and the last time in my life. I
10 really don't know who they were. And this description that you included
11 in your question, I believe, is not in dispute. I think I have explained
12 what they both looked like, and that's all I can say. I am sure that they
13 were not commanding officers from the Zvornik Brigade, because as I said
14 before, I know most of the officers of the Zvornik Brigade.
15 Q. Is it accurate, therefore, that the shorter of the two had dark
16 hair and a moustache?
17 A. I've said he was dark-haired, dark-eyed. I said in my statement
18 that he had a moustache, but I am not absolutely certain about that. I
19 remember the first one well. You insist that he had a moustache. I know
20 that I said that in one of my statements.
21 Q. And with respect to the taller one, is it fair to say that you
22 previously described him as being quite strongly built, quite bulky, with
23 grey hair?
24 A. Yes, I would agree with that.
25 Q. Now, you've said several times that was the first and the last
1 time that you saw these officers?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Did you at any subsequent time see them either in photos or in the
5 A. Possibly, yes.
6 Q. And, first, do you recall when that was?
7 A. No.
8 Q. And who did you believe those officers to be, after having seen
9 photos in the press?
10 A. I really don't understand the gist of your question.
11 Q. Did you ever reach a conclusion as to who these officers were that
12 you -- who they were that you saw on the 16th of July?
13 A. Well, approximately, they bore some similarity to those men that I
15 Q. And who were those people that you saw in the press? What were
16 their names?
17 A. No, really, I wouldn't like to name anyone.
18 Q. Do you recall if you've previously named anyone?
19 A. Yes, possibly.
20 Q. Who did you name?
21 A. I named Beara and Popovic.
22 Q. And as far as what you observed on the 16th, were those officers
23 present at the time that the prisoners were taken out of the school?
24 A. Well, they were -- they bore some resemblance to those people, but
25 whether it was them, I can't be sure.
1 Q. Okay. Did you hear the -- the shorter of the two, did you hear
2 him being referred to by any name in particular?
3 A. Yes. I think one of his soldiers called him by a shortened
4 version of a name, "Pope," P-o-p-e.
5 Q. And are you certain that's what you heard?
6 A. Yes, I believe I heard.
7 Q. Now, was that individual present at the time that these prisoners
8 were removed from the school?
9 A. I cannot be precise about the sequence of events now. I said as
10 soon as they arrived, they started loading and driving the prisoners away.
11 Where each one of them was at any given moment, I really can't say.
12 Q. Did you observe the prisoners being removed from the school,
14 A. No. I was at a distance of perhaps 50 metres, and we all watched
15 what was going on.
16 Q. Okay. Am I given to understand that you never actually saw the
17 prisoners being removed from the school, by your answer?
18 A. No. All of us who were there saw them load the prisoners in and
19 drive them away, but what I cannot say is where everyone was positioned at
20 that moment. Certainly, I saw the bus being loaded and driving away. I
21 don't know what exactly you're insisting on.
22 Q. Were the prisoners -- were their hands bound, were they
23 blindfolded? Can you tell us what you saw?
24 A. I can't be sure about the hands, but as the bus was passing by us,
25 I believe I saw them blindfolded.
1 Q. And at the time that you observed the bus leave, did you have any
2 indication as to where it was going?
3 A. No. I'm sure that none of us present there knew at that moment
4 what was going to happen to those people. But when the second and the
5 third bus departed, you could hear at a distance some shots, and I suppose
6 we thought that one of the possibilities was that they were taking them
7 not very far away.
8 Q. As far as the prisoners on the bus, were they secured in some way?
9 A. The prisoners on the bus who were there on the 14th, at night,
10 left on the morning of the 15th. I don't know exactly what you're asking.
11 Q. I'm sorry, it's my fault. I'm talking about the prisoners on the
12 bus on the 16th that you observed from about 50 metres away. Were they
13 secured in some way by soldiers or some other unit?
14 A. Yes. I believe they were followed by those soldiers who had
15 guarded them at the school and who had come with them in the first place.
16 Q. You've indicated that they were taking them not very far away and
17 you heard shots, and what did you understand to be going on at that time?
18 A. Well, one of the possibilities was that we assumed that somewhere
19 not far away, an execution was being carried out, judging by the shots we
20 heard, but we were not sure.
21 Q. Can you say how many buses were involved in this operation?
22 A. I think one bus.
23 Q. And about how long did this operation continue, or last, I'm
25 A. Perhaps for about two hours.
1 Q. And during that -- during that period of time, were you in contact
2 with the deputy battalion commander?
3 A. No. I think the first time I saw him again was soon after that,
4 when we returned to the battalion command.
5 Q. And where were the soldiers from the 1st Battalion while this was
6 being carried out, generally? I'm not asking you specifically soldier by
8 A. Well, approximately, as I described the first time, somewhere
9 outside, and I was probably with them at that moment. That means that
10 they were not at all involved in the loading, escorting and execution of
11 these prisoners.
12 Q. All right. And you can -- you can safely account for all of the
13 soldiers that were at the school on the 16th?
14 A. Well, look, none of those people who came required anything of us.
15 They acted on their own instructions. I cannot be 100 per cent sure that
16 none of our soldiers boarded the bus at some point out of curiosity. To
17 the best of my knowledge, they didn't, but, how shall I put it, I can't be
18 100 per cent sure.
19 MR. VANDERPUYE: Okay. Just bear with me for one moment, please.
20 Q. Did any of the two officers that you saw accompany the bus out of
21 the school during the period of time this operation was going on?
22 A. I don't think so, but those are details that I cannot remember.
23 Q. And were you present when they left, if at all?
24 A. I was not present there all the time while they were driving the
25 prisoners away, but I believe that they were there until the end, and then
1 they left in one direction and we, people from my battalion and I, left in
2 the opposite direction.
3 Q. They left together, I take it.
4 A. Really, although I'm trying very hard, I cannot remember these
6 Q. All right. I have -- if you could just approximate for us, about
7 how many people were in the school or removed from the school and driven
9 A. Well, for the bus to get from the school to the place where the
10 execution was carried out, it took it about two hours to go there and
11 back, so there must have been about four or five buses, at the most,
12 judging by the length of the event.
13 Q. Now, when you say "four or five buses," do you mean four or five
14 trips or do you mean literally that there were four or five buses that
15 came on the 16th?
16 A. No, it was one bus, so a total of four or five bus-fulls of
17 prisoners were driven there.
18 MR. VANDERPUYE: All right. I have no further questions at this
19 time. Thank you.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: So thank you, Mr. Vanderpuye.
21 We've got 20 minutes before we adjourn. I have on my list almost
22 all the Defence teams wishing to cross-examine this witness except for the
23 Gvero Defence team.
24 Who wishes to go first? Mr. Zivanovic.
25 MR. ZIVANOVIC: Thank you, Your Honour.
1 Cross-examination by Mr. Zivanovic:
2 Q. [Interpretation] Good afternoon, sir.
3 Witness, the first time that you spoke about these events was in
4 2003, is that right? When you gave those interviews to the investigators?
5 A. Yes. I think I spoke to them twice. The first time was on the
6 5th and the second was on the 10th of March, 2003.
7 Q. As for the events that you testified about today, at that time
8 almost eight years had passed from those events, so my first question to
9 you is: How well were you able to recall those events at the time when
10 you gave those interviews?
11 A. Well, believe me, even today when I discuss those things with some
12 people, I have some doubts about the exact way those events occurred. A
13 long time has passed, and I can never agree to what other people say about
14 some events that were in the past. I always talk about these things the
15 way I recall them.
16 Q. Please tell me, you've had the opportunity, from the time of the
17 events until the time that you gave the interview, to hear a lot about
18 those events from media reports and from other people; is that correct?
19 A. Well, to tell you the truth, this event is not discussed all that
21 Q. Did you have an opportunity to read about it in the papers or to
22 follow the news coverage on TV, things like that?
23 A. Yes. Well, the Srebrenica events are always a hot topic, and
24 that's -- that is so even in Republika Srpska.
25 Q. You must have heard that judgements have been passed regarding
1 those events, and you probably were able to hear what was adjudicated,
2 what was stated in the judgements. I'm not trying to say that you read
3 the judgements themselves, but that you followed the reports in the media.
4 A. Well, I don't know what you mean.
5 Q. Well, quite specifically, there were a couple of Srebrenica trials
6 before this Tribunal, the Krstic trial, the Blagojevic and Jokic trial,
7 and there were some other trials that ended with the guilty plea,
8 Erdemovic, Obrenovic, Momir Nikolic and so on, and the media reported
9 quite extensively on all those events. Were you able to read anything
10 about it?
11 A. Yes, well, I read the papers quite regularly, and so I do have
12 some knowledge about those events, and I'm aware of the latest judgement
13 before another court.
14 Q. Thank you. Could you please tell me, did those reports or this
15 information in any way influence your thoughts or your efforts to remember
16 the events that you witnessed on the 16th of July in front of the Pilica
18 A. Well, I'm not -- I'm not sure what you're driving at.
19 Q. Well, one usually gathers information from different sources. You
20 hear something, you see something, and you hear something indirectly or
21 you read about it, and I think that after a while all this information
22 merges, and after a while one is no longer sure what one has actually seen
23 or heard or what one has only read about. There is an amalgam of all
24 those different reports after a while and you can't remember the exact
25 source of some knowledge that you have.
1 A. Well, you can.
2 Q. At the time -- I apologise. I think that there has been a
3 misinterpretation. I think that what the witness said is that there is
4 this possibility, and it appears that the interpreter's answer is
5 different from that.
6 JUDGE AGIUS: Let me put the question straight to him, because
7 basically this is what you're trying to elicit from the witness.
8 Mr. Zivanovic has referred you to your statements on the events in
9 Kula and way back in July of 1995. The question is: Have you recounted
10 these events based on your conviction of what you saw and lived during
11 those days or has your description of the events been influenced by what
12 you may have read or seen in the media following the Srebrenica cases
13 before this Tribunal? I've tried to condense Mr. Zivanovic's question as
14 best as I could.
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, for the most part, I gave my
16 answers on the basis of what I saw. And now as to the actual percentage
17 of the effects of the media reports that were to follow after those
18 events, I can't really be very specific about it. I can't tell you to
19 what extent this influenced me.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Has it influenced you to the extent of you having
21 given us information or stated -- made statements here that are not based
22 on your own knowledge of the events? In other words, are you basing
23 yourself or giving us facts which are not based on what you lived through
24 but based on what you heard in these cases, in which case you need to tell
25 us which.
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Go ahead, Mr. Zivanovic.
3 MR. ZIVANOVIC: [Interpretation] I will try to be more precise in
4 my questions.
5 Q. I am convinced that you did not consciously say -- state here that
6 you saw something, when in fact you didn't see something. I simply asked
7 you whether it is possible that what you heard or had seen on TV or heard
8 from some other sources somehow got merged with what you personally saw,
9 and in particular with what you were able to see for a very short period
10 of time.
11 A. I would very much like to be able to answer some more specific
13 Q. Well, let me be quite specific, then. You gave us a description
14 of a person that you said was an officer who showed up in front of the
15 Pilica school on the 16th of July, 1995, and on that occasion you said
16 that this was a man who was shorter than the other person. You said that
17 the person had dark hair. This is what you stated today. And you were
18 not sure whether this person had or did not have a moustache. When the
19 Prosecutor asked you whether, in your interview, you spoke about a
20 moustache, you said that you did. Now, what I want to know is the
21 following: How accurate is your recollection, in the first place, that
22 this person had or did not have a moustache?
23 A. I really don't know what to tell you. I'm now giving evidence 12
24 years after the event. This is an extremely long time period. What I
25 recall about the appearance of these people is what I told you. I cannot
1 add or take away anything. In my statement, I did state that this person
2 had a moustache, but I cannot be a million per cent sure. And I said that
3 I was more certain that I could better recall the appearance of the first
5 Q. Are we to understand this to mean that you are not sure that this
6 person had a moustache or not?
7 A. Well, you can phrase it any way you like.
8 Q. Well, I would like you to phrase it to give me an answer.
9 A. I gave you my answer. In my statement, the 2003 statement, I said
10 that he had a moustache, but now I cannot state with a million per cent
11 certainty that this was indeed so.
12 Q. There's one more thing that I'm interested in when we're dealing
13 with this topic. You also stated that you had seen pictures of some of
14 those people, and what I want to know is whether those pictures may have
15 affected your -- the image in your head that you had when you gave the
16 interview regarding the question of whether this person had or did not
17 have a moustache?
18 A. Well, that's possible.
19 Q. Thank you. I would now like to move on to a different question.
20 You said that the soldiers addressed one of these men as "Pope" --
21 JUDGE AGIUS: Before you move to this question, Witness, these
22 photos that you have mentioned before and to which Mr. Zivanovic has
23 referred you, where did you see them? Did you see them before you came
24 here to give -- before you were interrogated or interviewed by the Office
25 of the Prosecutor or did you see them while you were being interviewed by
1 the Office of the Prosecutor?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, it was before the interview with
3 the Prosecution. I don't know when this whole thing became so topical.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: And in the course of the interview with the Office
5 of the Prosecutor, were you shown photos?
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, no photos.
7 MR. ZIVANOVIC: [Interpretation]
8 Q. I would like to go on with my question. Would you agree with me
9 that this nickname Pop or Pope, that this in fact is a nickname in our
11 A. I don't know what it was.
12 Q. Well, it can also be a designation of a profession, because this
13 is the word used to address priests?
14 A. Well, yes, it can have a number of meanings.
15 Q. Thank you. You were a rank-and-file soldier?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. In 1995. Could you please tell me, when you wanted to address an
18 active-duty officer, for instance, a lieutenant-colonel, did you have to
19 address him as "Lieutenant-Colonel, sir"?
20 A. Well, not only lieutenant-colonels but even junior officers had to
21 be addressed in the usual way, dictated by the procedure.
22 Q. And you complied with the rules?
23 A. Yes, definitely.
24 Q. And what about the other soldiers? As far as you know, did they
25 also comply with those rules?
1 A. Well, we didn't have any lieutenant-colonels. I've already said
2 that apart from some of the officers in the brigade command, all the
3 others were just soldiers, privates, and they were there as battalion
4 commanders and so on.
5 Q. I merely use this rank, lieutenant-colonel, as an example, but I
6 merely wanted to ask you whether all the troops, privates, had to address
7 officers in the way that I just explained to you, in other words, using
8 the term "sir" and the rank.
9 A. Yes. As I already noted, even junior officers were treated with
10 respect and addressed in this manner.
11 Q. Let me just ask you this: If you, as a rank-and-file soldier, as
12 a private, talked to -- wanted to address another soldier, did you use the
13 informal way of addressing, in other words, names, nicknames?
14 A. Well, it would depend. In some cases, you would use a name, in
15 other cases you would use a nickname. It would depend on the actual
16 circumstances. It would depend on the person.
17 Q. At any rate, a private did not address a private using the
18 words "sir" or "private"?
19 A. No, never.
20 Q. But it was quite usual, in other words, to use the person's name?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Or a nickname?
23 A. Well, it would depend on the relationship they had.
24 MR. ZIVANOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: Two minutes left. It's up to you. If you are
1 embarking on a new -- and you can finish it in two minutes, go ahead. If
2 not, we'll adjourn.
3 MR. ZIVANOVIC: [Interpretation] Well, just one question, and then
4 we can continue the next day.
5 Q. When you hear a soldier, a private, use a nickname as a form of
6 address, if he says "Pope," would that indicate to you that this soldier
7 was addressing an assistant commander of the corps, an assistant corps
9 A. No, no, no way.
10 MR. ZIVANOVIC: [Interpretation] I think that this would be an
11 appropriate moment to stop. Thank you.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you, Mr. Zivanovic.
13 Witness, we need to stop here because our time is over. You will
14 return here on Monday morning at 9.00 p.m. [sic] to continue -- 9.00 a.m.
15 to continue and hopefully finish your testimony.
16 Between now and Monday, you are not to communicate with anyone or
17 let anyone try to discuss with you the substance of your testimony, that
18 is, the events that you are testifying upon. Is that clear?
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you.
21 Have a nice weekend, everybody.
22 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1:45 p.m.,
23 to be reconvened on Monday, the 14th day of May,
24 2007, at 9.00 a.m.