1 Monday, 16 February 2009
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 2.14 p.m.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Registrar, can you kindly call
6 the case, please.
7 THE REGISTRAR: Good afternoon, Your Honours. Good afternoon,
8 everyone in and around the courtroom.
9 This is case number IT-04-74-T, the Prosecutor versus Prlic
10 et al.
11 Thank you, Your Honours.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you.
13 Today is Monday, the 16th of February, 2009. I'd like to greet
14 Mr. Stojic, Mr. Praljak, Mr. Pusic, as well as all the lawyers, counsel,
15 the OTP in its entirety, as well as all the people assisting us in this
17 I believe that the registrar has a few IC numbers to give us.
18 THE REGISTRAR: Thank you.
19 Some parties have submitted lists of documents to be tendered
20 through Witness Buljan Stijepo. The list submitted by 2D shall be given
21 Exhibit IC 921. The list submitted by 3D shall be given Exhibit IC 922,
22 the list submitted by 4D shall be given Exhibit IC 923, and the list
23 submitted by the Prosecution shall be given Exhibit IC 924.
24 Thank you, Your Honours.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Ms. Nozica, the Trial Chamber
1 is going to ask you to clarify the following: The Prosecutor filed a
2 motion regarding the witness of today, as well as the exhibits that will
3 be shown. The Prosecution claims all of this is tu quoque. Let me
4 remind you that as far as Witness Beese is concerned, pursuant the
5 jurisprudence of this Tribunal, the principle of tu quoque does not apply
6 to humanitarian law, insofar as the obligation under this law are
7 designed to protect fundamental human values and should be abided by, by
8 all the parties, notwithstanding the behaviour of all the other party or
10 The Trial Chamber had decided that considering, therefore, that
11 the evidence presented with the sole purpose of claiming tu quoque would
12 be irrelevant and should therefore not be admitted. But there was
13 another point of the decision that said considering that evidence
14 relating to the atrocities committed against the Croats in Bosnia
15 only be admitted if the latter would challenge one of the allegations
16 mentioned in the indictment.
17 Ms. Nozica, you have read the motion of the Prosecution. What do
18 you have to say to that?
19 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Good afternoon, Your Honours, and
20 everybody else in the courtroom.
21 Yes, I have seen the Prosecution motion, and I'd like to say at
22 the outset that the Defence of Bruno Stojic is not going to use the
23 tu quoque defence, but would like, through this witness, who was
24 otherwise in charge of providing information to the public, as well as to
25 the HVO internally, has certain direct knowledge about certain events
1 which took place in the material period in HZ-HB.
2 Now, in the courtroom we've had quite a lot of discussion on
3 documents and issues which show the suffering of the Croats and the
4 crimes committed against the Croats, and we considered -- or, rather, the
5 Defence considers that those events and those documents are important for
6 the general context in which the events occurred in Herceg-Bosna, and
7 therefore we consider that the objection made by the Prosecutor is
8 premature. And the list we provided of witnesses, and we have provided
9 it on time and quite a lot in advance, before we bring the witness in,
10 suddenly we're faced with this motion from the Prosecution, their
12 All that I can say in that regard is, as His Honour
13 Judge Antonetti just said, some of those -- that evidence need not be
14 relevant and therefore tendered and admitted into evidence. I would like
15 to present some of those documents, because as I say, I think they are
16 significant, in view of the information that this witness can provide us
17 with, and it is up to the Trial Chamber ultimately. If the Prosecution
18 objects, to decide whether they are indeed relevant and whether they will
19 be admitted into evidence or not. Because when we come to tender
20 exhibits and documents, it is always the Trial Chamber that makes the
21 final decision.
22 So that's what I can say in that regard at this point.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Ms. Nozica, to clarify things
24 even better: As far as Trusina is concerned, 2D 00815 and 2D 157, what
25 is it you wish to prove by putting questions to the witness about
2 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
3 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Your Honour, this witness
4 received -- well, I'm not going to say what my case is and what I wish to
5 prove, but I want to say that the witness had information and received
6 information, and then he can tell us which information he received about
7 that particular matter.
8 The event relevant to Trusina is very important. It took place
9 on the 16th of April, 1993, and so it is highly significant, also with
10 respect to all the other events that took place in April in the conflict
11 between the BH Army and the HVO.
12 Now, I don't wish to testify on the subject, nor to provide any
13 closing arguments, but I think that it will be very difficult for the
14 Trial Chamber to reach a conclusion as to what actually happened if it
15 makes it impossible for the Defence to focus on events which relate to
16 the activities of the BH Army, including the crimes that were committed
17 of the.
18 May I just finish and say that I wish to emphasise, and this will
19 be seen from this witness's testimony as well, that the month of April,
20 April 1993, is an exceptionally important month, both from the aspects of
21 the indictment and the aspects of the evidence and exhibits put forward
22 by the Defence and also by the Prosecutor.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Ms. Nozica, I might ask a
25 As far as the relevance of exhibits relating to Trusina are
1 concerned, in what way is it relevant to say that in that Croatian
2 village, on the 16th of April, 1993, Croats were slaughtered or
3 massacred? In what way is it relevant to the indictment?
4 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I consider this to be
5 exceptionally relevant with respect to the indictment, because I consider
6 that those events, and I said this a moment ago, are linked to all the
7 events that took place in the month of April, and I think it's very
8 relevant to throw light on the way in which the BH Army acted under the
9 circumstances, and especially the 4th Corps. We're dealing with the
10 activities of the 4th Corps, in actual fact, so that entire area is one
11 we have to look at.
12 And I remember full well something that Mr. Praljak said --
13 General Praljak said on one occasion, and I fully support him. You can't
14 extract events and place them in a vacuum. Events happened as was
15 presented by the Prosecutor, but they took place in a way in which the
16 Defence presented it, so it's up to the Court to show how far they
17 affected some future events. But I'd like to suggest to the Trial
18 Chamber, in view of some of the documents presented thus far in the
19 courtroom and are linked to the name of this particular witness, that the
20 Trial Chamber will precisely look at the events of the 15th, 16th, and
21 17th, and 18th of April, and only once it has done that, all the days
22 around the 16th of April, will it be able to weigh up the evidence and
23 create a picture for itself.
24 It's very difficult for me to say anything that would avoid me
25 testifying. However, I also do wish to stress that it is very difficult
1 to understand the events in Mostar, for example, if we're talking about
2 the events of the 9th of May onwards, and even the events of April, the
3 25th of April onwards, if we don't link that up to the events in
4 Jablanica, Konjic and Trusina, is precisely in that area. So it's
5 impossible to separate these events, to separate one segment of that
6 area, without looking at the whole area and what was happening in that
8 So, Your Honours, if that suffices, then I have finished. If
9 not, I shall be happy to provide additional information.
10 I'd just like to emphasise -- yes, Your Honour.
11 JUDGE PRANDLER: But if you didn't finish, please kindly do so.
12 And afterwards, I will speak.
13 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Just one more sentence, and it's
14 this: We did have an opportunity of seeing here a report by UNPROFOR and
15 the other international organisations which spoke about these events, and
16 those documents were admitted into evidence. They are in exhibits, and
17 they related to that.
18 Well, that's what I wanted to add. Thank you.
19 JUDGE PRANDLER: Thank you, Mr. President.
20 I, of course, fully agree with what our President has said and
21 also asked questions concerning the submission of the Prosecution and, of
22 course, the Defence position on certain documents. I would only like to
23 clarify one particular issue, and it is merely the very principle which
24 is called as shorthand "tu quoque," but as a matter of fact it has its
25 official name as a principle, and I quote, which is also contained in the
1 volume of the Customary International Law -- International Humanitarian
2 Law published by the ICRC and in the preparation of which I had some very
3 modest role, but my point is here that this issue, which is called, in
4 general, "tu quoque," is being submitted as - and I quote:
5 "The obligation to respect and ensure respect for international
6 humanitarian law does not depend on reciprocity."
7 And I would like to recall that principle, which again I say has
8 also a kind of number 140, and the authors of the book, the publication,
9 refer, among others, also to the work of the ICTY on that matter, and
10 also the decision of the International Court of Justice in the Namibia
11 case in 1971, and when they speak about the International Criminal
12 Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
13 mentioned by the Prosecution submission, and also the Matic case in 1996.
14 So my point is, what I would like to make, is this principle has
15 been generally adopted and also always mentioned as an obligation to
16 respect the rules of International Humanitarian Law, without referring to
17 any dependence on reciprocity, so it was my point. And I would like to
18 say that, of course, on individual cases the Chamber will deliberate and
19 then to make its own decision as it sees proper.
20 Thank you.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I would like to make the
22 following comment: I did not take part in the drafting of any such laws
23 as has Judge Prandler, but as far as I am concerned, tu quoque cannot be
24 supported to allege non-guilt, pursuant to 7.1 and 7.3, those two
25 Articles of the Statute, but can be presented to the opposing party to
1 enable Judges to understand the spirit in which one of the parties to the
2 conflict found itself when the latter party discovered that so many
3 people had been killed. This is the third bullet point of the decision
4 we handed down. This is what I wanted to say to make sure that all of
5 this is very clear. As far as I'm concerned, the Defence teams can put
6 the questions to the witness and say as follows: "How come there were
7 these massacres in Trusina? Since you were in charge of propaganda and
8 information, what was the state of mind of the soldiers, of the
9 international community?" Such questions can be asked, but this cannot
10 disprove the criminal guilt of anyone.
11 We are wasting time with this motion, because the Stojic Defence
12 team goes into long arguments and the Bench has to intervene. What a
13 waste of time.
14 But my colleague is about to say something.
15 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Sorry, Mr. Scott. I am quite aware you have
16 been waiting for the floor, but I have two questions to address to you
17 which you might then perhaps address in the same time.
18 The first question is: What is the relevance of your objection?
19 Is it something else than the will to avoid losing time?
20 And the second point is: To what extent does the Prosecution
21 contest the facts that the Defence wants to establish with regard to
22 these villages and the behaviour of ABiH?
23 Thank you.
24 MR. SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. President, and Judge Trechsel. All of
25 Your Honours, good afternoon to all of you. Good afternoon to counsel,
1 everyone in the courtroom.
2 If I could just have two minutes, Your Honour, to summarise our
3 position and respond to Judge Trechsel's questions.
4 It's unfortunate it's perceived that the motion is a waste of
5 time. Of course, the Prosecution doesn't file motions that it thinks are
6 wasting time. We've looked ahead, and not only with this witness but
7 with the upcoming -- some of the upcoming Stojic material, and it just --
8 it appears to us, and I emphasise the word "appears," it appears to us
9 that over the next weeks we may be spending potentially a lot of time on
10 things that the Prosecution considers involves tu quoque or very close to
11 tu quoque, and therefore we think it is entirely right and proper for the
12 Prosecution to raise its concerns.
13 We've all said -- everyone in this courtroom has said just
14 recently, this is a long trial. It will only be made that much longer by
15 taking the courtroom time to deal with irrelevant issues which are not
16 Defences and which only take time. The Chamber has ruled before that --
17 this proper scope and has specifically required in its previous ruling,
18 that before counsel can put a question or put a document to the witness
19 that touches on the tu quoque concept, that there must be an articulated
20 basis for doing so other than tu quoque itself. And that's the Chamber's
21 ruling. That's not the Prosecution's ruling; that's the ruling that the
22 Chamber has adopted, and it appeared to us appropriate to remind everyone
23 in the courtroom of that ruling on that point.
24 So, Your Honours, we will certainly listen to the Defence
25 questions and the answers, and we will also expect, of course, counsel to
1 abide by the Trial Chamber's rulings, that prior to putting any question
2 touching on this or using any exhibit, that they will articulate a
3 separate basis for doing so. So of course we'll expect that to happen.
4 To answer your questions, Judge Trechsel: As we've said many
5 times, I believe as I said in the opening statement some years ago, we --
6 the Prosecution has never disputed that there are -- there were crimes
7 and atrocities committed against Croat victims by Muslims. As you all
8 know by now, this Tribunal knows full well that there were perpetrators
9 on all sides, if you will, and victims on all sides, each of them to
10 be -- each of the perpetrators to be equally condemned, each of the
11 victims to be equally sympathised with. But the fact of the matter is
12 this is the case that we're in now, and the fact that the crimes were
13 committed on the other side, Your Honour, is not a Defence, and we do
14 think has the potential to take an awful lot of courtroom time for
15 dealing with things that are not relevant.
16 There is also, and I say this -- I'm trying to give as neutral a
17 word as possible. I'm not accusing the Defence of bad faith. Let me
18 make that very clear. What I'm about to say has nothing to do with bad
19 faith. But having said that, there is the potential for a lot of
20 courtroom misdirection and consumption of time on matters that are not
21 truly at issue or relevant, and therefore once again, Your Honours, it
22 appeared to us entirely appropriate to raise our concerns with the
23 Chamber and to bring perhaps back on the screen, if you will, of everyone
24 in the courtroom concerning these matters.
25 I think that states where we are, Your Honours, and we'll go
1 forward on that basis, and if the Prosecution believes that a particular
2 question and answer are not appropriate on this basis, then of course I
3 will rise to my feet.
4 Thank you.
5 [Trial Chamber confers]
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The Trial Chamber, after having
7 deliberated, has noted the motion filed by the Prosecution, the
8 explanations provided by Ms. Nozica, has also acknowledged the position
9 of the Prosecution, who has just said that he will listen carefully to
10 the questions that are put and may, if need be, intervene. The Trial
11 Chamber would like to remind Ms. Nozica that we did hand down a decision
12 and that we would like her, as regards this particular decision, to be
13 extremely careful and only put questions that are strictly necessary to
14 her case.
15 The Trial Chamber is unanimous in saying that tu quoque is part
16 of the jurisprudence of this Tribunal and is not a way of exonerating the
17 criminal responsibility of a perpetrator.
18 Ms. Nozica, you can show your documents, but make sure you focus
19 on your questions.
20 From what I understood, Mr. Karnavas wanted to say something. If
21 he would like to, I would like him to be short. Otherwise, we'll bring
22 the witness in.
23 MR. KARNAVAS: Good afternoon, Mr. President. Good afternoon,
24 Your Honours.
25 I did wish to make some oral submissions concerning my client,
1 especially given that I've been given instructions to do so at this point
2 in time.
3 As you know, Mr. Prlic -- Dr. Prlic is not here with us, although
4 he was in court throughout the entire Prosecution case and throughout the
5 entire part of his case. After long deliberations and consultation and
6 research that we've done, Dr. Prlic has come to the conclusion that at
7 this point in time, he wishes to waive his right to be present in court.
8 He understands that this is a -- this is not an unqualified right, that
9 he can in fact waive it, just as he waived his right to an expeditious
10 trial. He's waiving his right to be present.
11 And if I would -- if I could make reference to the Milosevic case
12 just very briefly. If you might remember, in that instance where
13 Mr. Milosevic wanted to represent himself, but was ill at some point in
14 time, the Appeals Chamber in fact has left the door open that even if,
15 for instance, an accused wishes to be present but is unable to be
16 present, the Trial Chamber can go forward nonetheless with the trial. In
17 other words, it would appear that the jurisprudence is going in the
18 direction where trials in absentia are, in fact, permissible in the -- at
19 this particular tribunal and in international criminal law, and I also
20 point out that that is exactly what is envisaged in Article 22 of the
21 Statute of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
22 As we all know, it was President Cassese -- Professor Cassese who
23 was going -- at least goes around saying he's going to be the next
24 president of that -- or the first president of that tribunal. He drafted
25 the Statute, and Article 22 of that Statute provides for trials in
1 absentia when the accused need not be present in court while the trial is
2 going on, provided, of course, certain conditions are met.
3 And that leads me to my next point, which I was specifically
4 given instructions to raise at this time. It is our -- it is Dr. Prlic's
5 intention to file a motion for provisional release for the remainder of
6 the trial. He does so on a number of grounds. We will be filing a
7 written motion, but nonetheless I was instructed to briefly, within two
8 or three minutes, outline the reasons for that.
9 One. As we all know, he still enjoys and will continue to enjoy
10 the presumption of innocence, and that is something that is steeped into
11 the Tribunal Statute, Article 21(3) as well, which is also based on, as
12 we all know, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
13 Now, the procedure at this particular Tribunal under Rule 65(a)
14 does not prohibit -- the way we read it, does not prohibit provisional
15 release during the trial, provided an accused waives his presence. In
16 fact, when it was -- when that particular Rule was amended back in July
17 2000, the notion that exceptional circumstances was a precondition for
18 provisional release was taken out of the Rule.
19 Also, if you -- as you all well know, the report of experts --
20 the report of the expert group that conducted a review at the ICTY into
21 seeing how it could become more efficient, both at the ICTY and ICTR,
22 also recommended that an accused be granted provisional release provided
23 that they are waiving their presence, and this would go into, at the
24 trial stage, if they met three criteria: they freely and knowingly
25 waived their right; the personal circumstances in favour for provisional
1 release. In this instance, we will be getting security guarantees from
3 participate in the trial in absentia, and of course we are willing to
4 remain in the course -- in the case and proceed, as we have, throughout
5 the course of these proceedings.
6 The trial is taking an unreasonably long period of time to be
7 completed, and that's the nature of this particular -- this particular
8 case, based on the indictment, and therefore based -- that is one other
9 reason why we believe that Dr. Prlic need not be in custody, because
10 custody, pre-trial, or trial custody is not a form of punishment, it's
11 not a form of punishment. And I might bring to the Trial Chamber's
12 attention, in the Blagojevic/Jokic case, prior to the trial
13 Judge Schomburg had even issued that Mr. Jokic be provisionally released
14 throughout the trial while in The Hague, and it was the Netherlands that
15 kicked up a fuss because part of their agreement with the ICTY and the UN
16 is that all accused, while in The Hague, will be residing at the UNDU
17 unless other circumstances are made -- other considerations are put in
18 place, such as the Blaskic case. As we all know he was put under house
19 arrest initially.
20 Finally, and we do take note of the fact, for instance, that in
21 the Appeals Chamber recently, in denying the provisional release of two
22 of the accused in this particular case, has indicated that one must
23 demonstrate sufficiently compelling humanitarian reasons, although I
24 would -- I dare say -- I dare say that the dissenting opinion in that
25 case is much more in line with the law, and that this notion that somehow
1 sufficiently compelling humanitarian reasons must exist is something that
2 does not exist in customary international law; it is something that is
3 simply, for lack of a better phrase, was made up by the Appeals Chamber.
4 And perhaps that may be the reason for provisional release during a
5 recess. We're saying in this instance this is not a recess.
6 Dr. Prlic, above and beyond all the reasons I've stated, wishes
7 to be provisionally released in order that he can participate more, not
8 less, in his defence, and it is our belief that he can participate more
9 if, for instance, he has access to a computer and to internet while the
10 proceedings are going on. He can communicate through counsel as we
11 normally do with our legal assistants and our case managers, who are only
12 situated a floor from here. He can provide just as much of assistance to
13 us. And as you may recall, he initially he had made a request to have a
14 computer present in court so he could type out his thoughts and his notes
15 and provide them to us, and it has been a monumental task for us to be
16 able to get his input into this case.
17 I know it doesn't sound like much to those sitting on the Bench
18 or to those who work for Chambers, but for counsel to have to go every
19 day to the UNDU to get a disc that has been downloaded and burned, and
20 get through with the paperwork, and we do this almost on a constant
21 day-to-day basis, and so for all of these reasons Dr. Prlic will be
22 filing a motion for provisional release for the remainder of the period.
23 And I just want to make it very, very clear to the Trial Chamber
24 Dr. Prlic remains profoundly engaged in this trial, he remains profoundly
25 in respect of this Trial Chamber, and wishes to continue to participate
1 in any form. It's just that he believes that: one, he need not be in
2 this courtroom at the time and he can participate more effectively out of
3 court; and, two, because of the length of the case, he feels it is better
4 for his physical and mental health if he is not incarcerated, as he is
5 now, and that he be allowed to participate in absentia while
6 provisionally released.
7 These were the submission that I was asked to make. I appreciate
8 the Court's time. I know we're under some tight time limitations, but
9 nonetheless I wanted to make sure the Trial Chamber understood that his
10 absence should not be taken in any form as disrespect to the members of
11 this Trial Chamber.
12 Thank you very much.
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Well, very well, thank you.
14 We are expecting the filing from the Prlic Defence counsel and
15 from the Prosecution as well, and then we shall decide.
16 Thank you very much, Mr. Karnavas, for having informing us that
17 President Cassese would preside over the Court for Lebanon. This is a
18 scoop. Thank you very much for this.
19 Now, we are going to show the witness in. Thank you.
20 [The witness entered court]
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Good afternoon, sir.
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good afternoon.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Could you please tell us your
24 name, first name, and date of birth.
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Veso Vegar. 11th of September,
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] What is your current
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I'm a journalist.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] In what newspaper do you work
6 as a journalist? I'm asking you questions from the English text, because
7 I cannot hear the French booth.
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I'm retired. I no longer work as a
9 journalist right now.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So you're retired. Now, did
11 you already come to court as a witness or do you come here for the first
12 time in court?
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This is my first time.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I would please ask you to read
15 the solemn declaration that the usher is going to show you.
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will
17 speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
18 WITNESS: VESO VEGAR
19 [The witness answered through interpreter]
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you very much. You may
21 be seated.
22 Some information for you, but I think that Ms. Nozica has
23 probably given you this information when she met with you before the
25 You are going to answer questions from Ms. Nozica, also on the
1 basis of the documents, most likely. Now, once this is done, the other
2 lawyers of the -- counsels of the other accused shall also ask you
3 questions during their cross-examination. Then the Prosecutor, sitting
4 to your right, will have the same amount of time as Ms. Nozica to ask you
5 questions during his cross-examination. The four Judges sitting before
6 you may also, if the case arises, ask you questions. Well, as a rule, we
7 ask you questions from the documents, because we see that there is a
8 document and some points of clarification must be brought, and so we ask
9 you questions about that in order to highlight the above-mentioned
11 Now, you are a witness in this court of justice. So you do not
12 belong to Ms. Nozica. You've taken the oath, which means that for the
13 next few days you shall have no contact with anybody, of course, except
14 with members of your family, but no contacts with the press, no contacts
15 with anyone, X, Y, Z, in order to explain how things are going here in
17 We shall take breaks every hour and a half, 20-minute breaks, but
18 if you feel tired or if there is a problem, please raise your right hand,
19 in which case we shall make a break for you to take a rest.
20 So this is what I wanted to say by way of introduction to make
21 sure that proceedings go smoothly. This is your first time here as a
22 witness, and you will realise that it is very tiring. You will answer
23 questions, and in the course of time the witness can get tired. But in
24 spite of that, I would like to ask you to be as precise and accurate as
25 you can, because the Judges will be able to draw conclusions on the basis
1 of your replies.
2 So this is, sir, what I wanted to tell you, and without further
3 adieu I would like to hand over the floor to Ms. Nozica.
4 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours.
5 Examination by Ms. Nozica:
6 Q. [Interpretation] I would like to greet you, Mr. Vegar. We are
7 going to broach certain questions concerning your CV, curriculum vitae.
8 I'd like to be as brief as possible, and you will assist me, of course,
9 in certain areas. I hope that leading questions will be tolerated so
10 that we can go through this phase as quickly as possible.
11 Mr. Vegar, you were born in the village of Vacerovici
12 Ljubuski municipality; am I right?
13 A. That is correct.
14 Q. I will briefly go through the details that you provided, until
15 the point that you were involved in HZ-HB. You graduated from Political
16 Science School
17 A. That's correct.
18 Q. Department of Journalism; is that correct?
19 A. That's correct.
20 Q. Your first job was in the public university at Ljubuski in 1983;
21 is that correct?
22 A. That's correct.
23 Q. From 1987 until 1989, you worked at a company in the town of
24 Ploce; is that correct?
25 A. That's correct.
1 Q. From 1989 to 1990, you were a journalist, weren't you,
2 correspondent for "Vecernji List," a Zagreb-based newspaper?
3 A. "Vecernji List" and then Radio Split and Radio Zagreb afterwards.
4 Q. If I understood you correctly, you at the same time were a
5 journalist -- a correspondent of Radio Split and Radio Zagreb; am I
7 A. Yes, you are.
8 Q. In September 1992, you were appointed as head of Information and
9 Administration -- information and propaganda --
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I thought that the lawyer would
11 ask you what was the nature of your work as a journalist, so we know that
12 you worked in -- you were a journalist in a newspaper, then in Radio
14 sports, or were you specialised in politics, in economics? What exactly
15 was your expertise, or were you a journalist working on general issues?
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I covered all issues; politics,
17 economy, and sometimes sports.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. So you were a
19 mainstream journalist, sort of?
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] That's correct.
21 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation]
22 Q. This is how correspondents work; is that correct?
23 A. That's right.
24 Q. We've come to September 1992. Could you please tell us what
25 happened in September 1992?
1 A. At that time, as we know, the war had broken out in
2 Bosnia-Herzegovina. I was appointed as head of the Administration for
3 Information and Propaganda in the Defence Department of the HZ-HB.
4 Q. Which sector?
5 A. The moral upbringing sector.
6 Q. Who was assistant head of the Defence Department for moral
7 upbringing sector?
8 A. Mr. Bozo Rajic.
9 Q. Did Bozo Rajic leave at the end of 1992?
10 A. At the end of 1992 or at the beginning of 1993, Bozo Rajic
11 assumed another post as minister of defence of the Croatian Republic
13 Q. Could you tell the Trial Chamber, please, who and when proposed
14 that you be appointed as assistant head for -- although this sector used
15 to be labelled "Moral Upbringing Sector" and later on was the Sector for
16 Information and Propaganda Activities, was it not, Mr. Vegar? But won't
17 we use the henceforth acronym IPD?
18 A. Yes, that's correct, and we can.
19 Q. Could you please tell us who proposed that you be appointed there
20 and when, to be appointed as assistant head for IPD?
21 A. Assistant head, Mr. Bruno Stojic.
22 Q. Can you recall when?
23 A. 31st of January, 1993.
24 Q. Can you tell the Trial Chamber when were you officially appointed
25 and by whom?
1 A. I was officially appointed by the HVO HZ-HB. I received the
2 decision in August 1993.
3 Q. Could you explain when you left that position?
4 A. I left it after the new composition of the Croatian Defence
5 Council was created, the end of -- but I remained there until the 30th of
6 June, 1994
7 Q. Did you gain employment again at Slobodna Dalmacija in Croatia
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Slobodna Dalmacija?
10 A. That's correct.
11 Q. Mr. Vegar, did you, at the beginning of 1997, you gain employment
12 in the Federal Defence Ministry of the Federation BiH at Sarajevo
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Which position did you fulfill and until when?
15 A. Assistant defence minister. I stayed there until the middle of
16 the following year, 1998.
17 Q. When did you go after that?
18 A. After that, I worked in the Republic of Croatia Embassy in
20 Q. Which post?
21 A. The first secretary in charge of culture.
22 Q. Until when did you remain there, and what was your next post?
23 A. I stayed there for two years, and after that I worked in the
24 Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina office.
25 Q. Was it 2000? Could you explain your position within the
1 Presidency office?
2 A. Yes, that was 2000 that I worked as an adviser to the Croatian
3 member of the Presidency, Mr. Jelavic [phoen].
4 Q. What was your purview?
5 A. Primarily culture and education.
6 Q. Did you, in April 2001, you establish your own company?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. You worked there until 2003; is that correct?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. In 2003, you went to another company, where you worked as a
12 A. That's correct.
13 Q. And you retired on the 27th of December, 2007; is that correct?
14 A. That's correct.
15 Q. Thank you. Given that you worked on tasks concerning information
16 and propaganda, it would be meaningful for me to ask you whether you have
17 ever been a member of the HDZ, Croatian Democratic Union, a party that
18 was predominantly peopled by Croats?
19 A. If you mean the BiH, then my answer is no.
20 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Fine.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, out of curiosity, I
22 heard very carefully the way in which you described your career, which is
23 extremely diversified and very interesting, and I realised that you were
24 first a secretary of the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia
25 Does that mean that you have two citizenships, that you're a Croat, which
1 would explain why you were a first secretary with the embassy, and are
2 you also a citizen of Bosnia-Herzegovina?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, I have dual citizenship of
4 both Croatia
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So you have two passports,
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. I am entitled to two
8 passports, but I own only the Croatian passport because it allows for
9 easier travel abroad.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well, thank you.
11 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Mr. Vegar, you were asked whether you were ever
12 a member of the HVO, and you did not answer by "yes" or "no," but you
13 said, "Of BiH, no." That leaves the possibility open that you were in
14 some other way a member of HVO. Could you -- or HZ. Could you please
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I said that I was not
17 a member of the political party HDZ, Croatian Democratic Union, but I was
18 a member of the HVO. I was first a soldier and an officer there.
19 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
20 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] The transcript refers to the HDZ.
21 This is the title of the political party, and this is how I understood
22 the witness's answer.
23 Q. But since there were questions raised in this courtroom about the
24 dual citizenship, both Croatian and BiH, I will ask you whether the
25 Croatian Constitution allows for dual citizenship.
1 A. That's correct.
2 Q. Is there a prescribed procedure for acquiring Croatian
4 A. Most probably so.
5 Q. Most probably, since you gained citizenship using that procedure;
6 is that correct?
7 A. That's correct.
8 Q. You said another interesting thing that should be explained to
9 the Trial Chamber. You say that, "I own just the Croatian passport
10 because it provides for easier travel." Could you explain to the Trial
11 Chamber the advantage of a Croatian passport over a Bosnian and
12 Herzegovinian passport at this point and in the period from 1997 onwards?
13 Do you need visas to visit certain countries of the Schengen Agreement?
14 A. No, this is the huge advantage of the Croatian passport. Had I
15 used the BH passport, I would have had to wait for days in queuing for
16 visas at embassies in Sarajevo
17 Q. So let us be precise. Citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina who have
18 solely Bosnia-Herzegovina citizenship must acquire visas for almost all
19 countries in Europe
20 A. For a majority of countries, except for Croatia and some other
22 Q. Thank you. Mr. Vegar, do you know whether a large number of
23 Bosniaks and Serbs -- or don't let me suggest that there is a larger
24 number, but do you know people who received Croatian passports using the
25 same procedure as you did; they have Croatian citizenship and Croatian
1 passports today?
2 A. I do know some people of other ethnic background who received a
3 Croatian passport before I did.
4 Q. Thank you. Let's go back to the September 1992 period. You said
5 that you were appointed as head of the IPD administration, in the moral
6 upbringing sector. You said that you were proposed for the post of
7 assistant head of the Defence Department on the 31st of January 1993
8 Please tell us, what were your tasks as head of the IPD administration in
9 the period from September 1993 -- correction, in September 1992 until
10 31st of January, 1993?
11 A. My primary task was to disseminate information, first collect
12 them from all available sources, to analyse such information, systematise
13 them and then disseminate them. There were two forms: Internal
14 information dissemination within military units and external
15 dissemination of information towards the public.
16 Q. Can you explain to the Court the way in which you gathered
17 information from your position as head of the IPD? Where did you get the
18 information from?
19 A. The information came in from the assistant for IPDs or, rather,
20 assistants, where they existed in the HVO structure, and also from the
21 Main Staff, and from the Defence Department as well.
22 Q. When you collected all the information, and you said that they
23 were used for internal information and for dissemination to the
24 information media, it emerges that on the 31st of January, 1993
25 information you've given us, you were put forward by Mr. Stojic to be the
1 assistant head of the Defence Department for Information and Propaganda.
2 Can you explain to the Trial Chamber how that sector was set up? What
3 did it comprise? What made up the sector, generally.
4 A. It was a sector within the frameworks of the Defence Department,
5 and it had three administrations: The administration for information and
6 propaganda; for military, psychology and social activities; and culture,
7 sport, and recreation, and a spiritual section too.
8 Q. After the 31st of January, 1993, and you said that you were
9 officially appointed in August to that post, immediately after the 31st
10 of January, 1993, did you in fact take over the work that an assistant
11 head of the Defence Department for IPD would be doing?
12 A. Yes. After Mr. Bozo Rajic left, I did take over that job, and I
13 also dealt with matters concerning the IPD, which was the department I
14 worked for up until then.
15 Q. So you continued your work in the field or, rather, in the
16 Department for Information and Propaganda, the IPD, and the dissemination
17 of that information and collecting information, first of all; is that
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. And you were the head of the entire sector, were you not?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Fine. Now, can you tell the Trial Chamber where the headquarters
23 of the IPD sector was, let's say from September 1992 onwards until
24 November 1993?
25 A. It was in the same building where the Main Staff was located and
1 where the Defence Department was, and all that in Mostar.
2 Q. Can you explain a little more fully, if you know what the
3 building was called? Do you know the name of the building, what it was
5 A. It was called the Tobacco Institute of Mostar or the Apro
7 Q. Are you talking about September 1992 now?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Fine. Now, how long did you remain in that building, and did you
10 remain in the building throughout, and can you tell us where the IPD
11 sector was located afterwards?
12 A. In the summer of 1993, because of the shelling from the enemy,
13 the Defence Department left the building because it was a prominent
14 building, and we went into another building into an office which was
15 safer and secure, but also in Mostar, because the previous building was
16 exposed to shelling.
17 Q. Did you stay in that building until the end of your work in the
18 IPD or did you move on somewhere else? Did you relocate again?
19 A. No, we didn't stay there the whole time. We relocated, and later
20 on I went to Posusje.
21 Q. Mr. Vegar, when did you go to Posusje or the office? We're
22 talking about the office, not only you personally; right?
23 A. Yes. Well, that was at the end of 1993.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Witness, at this juncture I
25 need to express my main concern, my main question.
1 The IPD, Information/Propaganda, you know, I find it hard to
2 grasp what it is that you were doing there. So maybe the Defence counsel
3 will go deeper into this field on the basis of the document, but at this
4 juncture I'm wondering whether you were some kind of a political
5 commissioner, or whether you were a person who was dealing with
6 information, or someone who was involved in propaganda as part of the
7 psychological war and a way whereby false information is disseminated in
8 order to put the enemy in a difficult situation. So I must confess I
9 don't know at all what it is you were doing. You know, in the Western
10 armies, this is not something that exists. There are people in the
11 military who are involved in information, but they are not involved in
12 propaganda. Propaganda is more in the hands of the secret services, you
13 see. So I'm at a loss here and I don't know what you were doing, but I'm
14 sure that Ms. Nozica, through her questions, will lead us to and know and
15 have a clearer picture on this.
16 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Yes, indeed, Your Honour, with your
17 permission, and that is the purpose of my examination, to gain a very
18 clear picture of what he did. So he'll be answering all your questions,
19 all of the questions you've just put to him, but I'd just like to ask
20 some technical questions to gain a broader picture, and then we'll go
21 from the broader to the narrow picture.
22 Q. If I understood you correctly, Witness, in mid-1993, right up
23 until the end of Mr. Bruno Stojic's stay in the Defence Department as the
24 head, you were dislocated, that is to say, you weren't in the same
25 building where the Defence Department was; is that right?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. All right. Now, tell me, Mr. Vegar, after that September 1992,
3 and looking at that entire period, how many people, roughly, were
4 employed in that IPD sector? And we saw that it had three
5 administrations, so how many people worked there?
6 A. Four or five.
7 Q. All right. Now tell me whether, in the HVO units, there were
8 individuals who were in charge of information and propaganda.
9 A. Yes. This is sector also had its people in the units and at the
10 level of the operative zones.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, I think there is a
13 THE ACCUSED PRALJAK: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honours.
14 It's like this: Could the witness answer this question. Is it
15 information and propaganda or information and psychological activities?
16 What was the name of that department or sector? And I'd like to have the
17 witness answer that, because something that is not quite right keeps
18 prevailing here.
19 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Yes. I'd like to thank Mr. Praljak
20 for that information, but the sector had a number of names, it was called
21 in different ways, so I'd like to have the witness explain what the
22 sector did.
23 Q. In some documents, it's mentioned as the Information and
24 Propaganda Department, some where it's the Political and Propaganda, then
25 we have Moral Guidance or Upbringing. So these terms are used in
1 different documents, referring to the same sector, so perhaps it would be
2 best if the witness told us what they did in that sector, because the
3 titles and headings were different and differed. But if the witness
4 wants to answer Mr. Praljak's question, he can go ahead, but I think that
5 he'll best answer that question if he tells us what they, in fact, did
7 A. Well, officially the sector was called the Sector for Moral
8 Guidance, but colloquially it was referred to as the IPD, Information and
9 Psychological Activity. That was also the title. Some people thought
10 that "IPD" was Information and Psychology, others thought it was "IP,"
11 information and Propaganda. But from the work itself, we could see that
12 the Administration for Military Psychology was in charge of psychological
14 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Can we correct the transcript,
15 because that was Mr. Vegar's answer on page 30, line 22, not
16 Mr. Ibrisimovic, as it says in the transcript, but I'm sure that will be
18 Q. Now, Mr. Vegar, let's move on. You started telling us about the
19 levels at which the HVO units had people working in IPD, so can you
20 repeat that for us once again, please?
21 A. Yes. Within the HVO structure and the operative zone, we were
22 supposed to have three working in IPD and also at the level of the
23 brigades and battalions, whereas some independent companies just had one,
24 one man working in IPD.
25 Q. Within the frameworks of your activities, and you explained to us
1 at the beginning that you mostly dealt with collecting information for
2 internal information purposes and also to disseminate information for the
3 public, now, would you please tell me, from 1992, September 1992, in
4 fact, onwards, how did you come by your information so that you could
5 disseminate that information to the public and disseminate information
6 internally? What was the source of your information?
7 A. In my sector, information came in from people working in the
8 sector, from all levels, as well as from the Main Staff, and of course
9 from the Defence Department itself and the other sectors there.
10 Q. You said "from people working in my sector at all levels." What
11 did you mean by that? Who were those workers of yours, employees, staff
12 from all levels?
13 A. All assistants for IPD at all levels.
14 Q. So they were assistants?
15 A. Assistants to the command of the operative zone, the brigade,
16 military assistants, and company assistants.
17 Q. Now, we're talking about information which was geared towards
18 writing reports or internal information, but did you get reports about
19 the situation, the morale of the units and men in the units, and some
20 extraordinary events? Did you receive information of that kind as well?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. And who provided you with that kind of information? How did you
23 come by that information about morale and any extraordinary events and so
24 on? How did that reach you?
25 A. Also through two channels; the IPD line and also from the command
1 structure of the Main Staff.
2 Q. Can you explain to the Trial Chamber now, please, what the other
3 two sectors did; that is to say, the Administration for Information and
4 Propaganda and Military Psychology? What did the Military Psychology
5 Administration do and the History Administration? Could you explain that
6 to us, please?
7 A. The Administration for Military Psychology and Personnel Needs,
8 as it was called, was an administration which lacked staff. We didn't
9 have the properly trained military psychologists, not enough of them.
10 But those who were working in that administration had the task of
11 providing services to the soldiers; to assess their level of morale, give
12 them psychological assistance and support, boost morale, test -- they
13 would test the soldiers, and see what morale was like generally.
14 Q. Could you explain to Their Honours briefly what the
15 Administration for History did, sport, culture and so on?
16 A. Yes. That administration was basically in charge of culture, and
17 within that administration we had a wartime theatre. We also did some
18 publishing work, we had projects in publishing, the area of publishing.
19 It organised sports events, sports/military events, competitions. It
20 amassed archive material and things like that.
21 Q. Very well. Now, let's go back to the information that you
22 collected and that you received from the chain that you told us about.
23 When it came to informing the public, how did you disseminate that
24 information to the public domain?
25 A. At the very beginning, we did that in writing, statements for the
1 public, daily bulletins, that kind of thing, but soon afterwards the
2 sector started to organise press conferences. And then we would have
3 meetings and discussions with journalists, and then press releases with
4 various comments, interviews and the like.
5 Q. All right, fine. Now, once you had collected information you
6 considered to be important, was there anybody in the Defence Department
7 or from the HZ-HB who would authorise what you could make public and what
8 you could not? And I'm talking about the time when you became the
9 assistant in the Defence Department de facto, because you said that you
10 started doing this earlier on, but de facto. Did anybody check the
11 materials and okay or ban any information?
12 A. Well, I would have consultation with the head. However, I took
13 over the responsibility of making that decision myself, deciding what to
14 let go and what to keep back, so that's what I did. And I'd like to tell
15 you that as many armies in the war have -- in wars have, the HVO didn't
16 have a censorship department, so I'm conscious of the fact that I took on
17 a great deal of responsibility in that area, but the situation was such
18 that consultations were impossible. It was almost impossible to hold
19 consultations of that nature, so I did the work myself and took on the
20 responsibility myself.
21 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] Ms. Nozica, I'm sorry, I have a
22 question, some clarification.
23 When I hear the witness's testimony, I am told he was the deputy
24 chief of the minister of defence, whereas in English I see "assistant to
25 the head of department." What was he exactly? Was he an assistant, was
1 he a deputy? Were there a lot of deputies and were there a lot of
2 assistants, and which of the two was he?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, I was the head of the
4 Department for Information and Propaganda, the IDP, from September 1992
5 until the 31st of January 1993, and then I was put forward as assistant
6 of the head of Defence.
7 JUDGE PRANDLER: I'm sorry, Judge Mindua. I believe there was a
8 mistake in the transcript, because at least the French translation said
9 that "Janvier 1995," but in English it is here "1993." So it is probably
10 a mistake, and it should be "1995." It is what he just mentioned, I
11 believe. Thank you.
12 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] No, Your Honour. The witness said,
13 "The 31st of January, 1993," as it says in the transcript. And as far as
14 his post is concerned, he said that as of the 31st of January, 1993
15 again, he was assistant to the head of the Defence Department for IPD,
16 and that has been repeated several times, "assistant to the head of the
17 Defence Department." That was his post as of the 31st of January, 1993
18 Well, the deputy was another man, and that was Mr. Slobodan Bozic, and we
19 heard him here in court in the capacity of a witness, so he was the
20 deputy, just to make that clear. And if that's clear, maybe we can move
21 on and not waste anymore time.
22 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] Thank you very much.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, could you clarify,
24 please, because Defence counsel has given us the answer. Could you
25 answer, please? Could you answer the question that was put to you by
1 Judge Mindua?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I think I've answered that
3 question. If need be, I will expound on it, I'll repeat it.
4 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation]
5 Q. You can repeat it, Mr. Vegar. Could you please repeat what you
6 were from September 1992, all your posts, until the end of 1993? That
7 period is what we're interested in.
8 A. From September 1992 until the 31st of January, 1993, I was head
9 of the Administration for Information/Propaganda in the moral upbringing
10 or moral guidance sector, until the 31st of January, 1993. On that date,
11 I was proposed or put forward by the -- Mr. Rajic [as interpreted] to be
12 assistant head of Defence Department for IPD, and I remained there in
13 that post while head of the Defence Department, Mr. Stojic, remained in
14 that post.
15 Q. Mr. Vegar, His Honour Mindua asked you a question. Let's clarify
16 it. How many assistants were there in the Defence Department and how
17 many deputies?
18 A. One deputy, Mr. Bozic, and there were several assistants;
19 security assistant or assistant head for security, assistant head for
20 personnel, assistant head for the moral upbringing sector, and assistant
21 head for health issues, as far as I can remember.
22 Q. Thank you very much. I will not insist on bringing up other
23 details. We will see from the documents how it looked like.
24 I would like to go back for a minute --
25 MR. SCOTT: I apologise for interruption, but it's only out of an
1 effort to assist.
2 Back on page 35, on line 24, I believe it was consistent with
3 Mr. Vegar's prior testimony that he was put forward for the new position
4 by Mr. Stojic, not Mr. Rajic, if that's correct, and if we can clarify
6 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Fine, thank you.
7 Q. We can continue with you disseminating information. You
8 recently -- in your last answer, you embarked on providing important
9 information --
10 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Ms. Nozica, the question that Mr. Scott posed
11 was heard by the witness and he nodded. It might be good if in the
12 transcript it would be shown that he had nodded, actually, or that he
13 said -- that he answered positively to that question. That's what I
14 perceived. I may be wrong.
15 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Your Honour, you are right. I
16 believe that this question was answered at least twice, but let us set
17 the record straight.
18 Q. Who were you proposed to become head of the Defence Department?
19 A. Head of the department, Mr. Bruno Stojic, put me forward.
20 Q. Who was occupying that position, assistant head for IPD, before
22 A. Mr. Bozo Rajic was there before me.
23 Q. Once again, when did you receive official appointment, and by
24 whom, to that post? Obviously, there has been some misunderstanding with
25 respect to that question.
1 A. Officially, I was appointed on the 27th of August, 1993, by the
2 Croatian Defence Council of the HZ-HB.
3 Q. But when did you perform those tasks de facto, those tasks of
4 assistant head to the Defence Department for IPD?
5 A. From the departure of Mr. Rajic from that position, and that was
6 on the 31st of January, 1993.
7 Q. I believe that there are no more misunderstandings about this.
8 Let's go back to what you just recently said.
9 You said that when it came to disseminating the information to
10 the public, you first would consult briefly and then -- for a brief
11 period, and after that brief period you alone determined which
12 information would be disseminated to the public; did I understand you
14 A. Yes, you did.
15 Q. You said that the HVO did not have a censorship department.
16 Could you please explain to the Trial Chamber what you meant by such a
18 A. Military organisations in wartime have usually a censorship
19 department. The HVO, however, did not have such a department.
20 Q. Fine. Could you please tell us, from September 1992 and onwards,
21 how often would press conferences be organised, that is, conferences for
22 the press?
23 A. Regular press conferences were scheduled for Tuesdays and
24 Fridays, but there were extraordinary conferences as needs arose, and
25 there were some -- such conferences.
1 Q. How often, from September 1992? Was there a period where they
2 were more frequent or less frequent? Could you give us an impression
3 about the frequency of those press conferences?
4 A. Regular press conferences were given by Mr. Bozo Rajic in the
5 autumn of 1992, at the beginning of 1993, when I had already been
6 proposed to take that position. When Mr. Rajic left the post, I took
7 over the task of organising and conducting those press conferences. The
8 regular ones were on Tuesdays and Fridays, but after the security
9 situation in Mostar deteriorated in May and June, those press conferences
10 grew less frequent.
11 Q. They grew less frequent. Could you tell us about the end of 1993
12 or the latter part of 1993, how frequent they would be during that
14 A. Very infrequently.
15 Q. When you would organise press conferences, would you invite some
16 guest speakers? Would other people come to attend those press
18 A. Yes. It was more frequent initially, because this was the only
19 forum to inform the public. Civil service did not do so, so such press
20 conferences would feature people who would be organising humanitarian
21 drive or campaign, or somebody who had published an interesting book, or
22 visitors from abroad and such-like.
23 Q. Mr. Vegar, were you a sort of spokesman? Who's, if so?
24 A. Yes, I was a spokesman for the Defence Department.
25 Q. Were there any other information departments in the HZ-HB, apart
1 from yours?
2 A. There was. There was the Information Department of the HVO, then
3 the information office of the president of the HZ-HB, and some operations
4 zones had their own information officers.
5 Q. The information office of the HVO HZ-HB, did it exist?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Would you issue press releases or statements for the press, on
8 behalf of the HVO HZ-HB, after the sessions or meetings?
9 A. Very rarely. When I would stand in for the person who usually
10 did that, but when he was absent.
11 Q. Let's be precise. Do you recall the name of the person who was
12 in charge of those tasks in the HVO HZ-HB?
13 A. Mr. Drago Maric.
14 Q. Would you issue statements to the press on behalf of the
15 Presidency of the HZ-HB?
16 A. No, I wouldn't.
17 Q. Didn't Mr. Boban ever visit your press conferences as a keynote
19 A. Not a single one that I organised.
20 Q. This set of questions concern the information that you
21 disseminated towards the journalists through press conferences. Would
22 such information concern the status of certain battlegrounds that would
23 precede your press conference?
24 A. Yes, the situation on the battle-field, maybe some extraordinary
25 events, casualties that were killed, the dead, et cetera.
1 Q. You say the killed and the dead, Mr. Vegar. When those press
2 conferences were conducted, you would, beforehand, prepare a report on
3 the information that you had received. Would journalists ask you
4 questions, and what were the issues covered by those questions? Could
5 you answer all those questions or not? Could you please explain to the
6 Trial Bench the practicalities?
7 A. Initially, I would state information that I considered relevant.
8 Then I was asked by journalists questions. I would answer everything
9 that I could, which fell within my scope of responsibility and which I
10 had some knowledge about.
11 Q. Presiding Judge Antonetti's question was very pertinent, whether
12 you were relaying information as a channel of communication, but I would
13 like you to explain the second question of Judge Antonetti's question.
14 Did you air any political assessment or judgements, and when
15 journalists would ask about politics, what were your answers, and on the
16 basis of which information did you explain your positions on certain
17 political developments?
18 A. Yes, I did answer such questions, among others, about political
19 events or developments, if they concerned the HVO. At that time, such
20 issues were peace conferences, peace negotiations of the parties to the
21 conflict, as they were called, both at the international level and the
22 negotiations and arrangements between local commanders, the armies in
23 conflict, et cetera. Everything that would be of interest of the
24 soldiers or troops or the public, I would disseminate such questions --
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Ms. Nozica, we will resume a
2 little later. It's time to have a break now. We'll have a 20-minute
4 --- Recess taken at 3.46 p.m.
5 --- On resuming at 4.10 p.m.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Ms. Nozica, you may proceed.
7 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours.
8 Q. Mr. Vegar, before the break you answered that you would discuss
9 political developments after negotiations, as you said, or -- involving
10 international organisations and negotiations between local commanders. I
11 would like to ask you a precise question. Would you air some political
12 stances about developments that had preceded or peace negotiations that
13 it preceded?
14 A. I did not have the right to do so, and it was not my duty to do
15 so either.
16 Q. Mr. Vegar, at those press conferences within your purview, did
17 you engage in propaganda, did you in any way disseminate propaganda or
18 inform the public by way of propaganda, or did you disseminate
19 information that you had collected in the way that you described?
20 A. I did not deal with propaganda. If the information had a
21 propaganda tinge, then that may have been so, but I did not deal with
22 propaganda. Nobody in my sector or department dealt with propaganda. We
23 were not equipped to do so.
24 Q. Let's go back to your sector. You explained how the IPD sector
25 was set up. You also said that assistant commanders for IPD existed in
1 military units. Please explain to us what was the relationship between
2 the sector and the assistants for IPD who were in military units, who
3 were in charge of IPD there?
4 A. The relationship was this: I had maintained professional
5 contacts with such people, and they were subordinated to me in terms of
6 the formal links, but they were subordinated to their commanders. There
7 were assistant commanders for IPD, and they were connected to their
8 superior commanders in that way.
9 Q. When you said that you were connected with them through
10 professional links, with those IPD assistants in military units, could
11 you explain to the Chamber what were the professional issues that you
12 dealt with? Did you organise meetings, seminars, training? What were
13 the practical tasks that materialised your links with them?
14 A. Whenever we could, we organised meetings, seminars, where we
15 would train and educate IPD operatives. We gave them suggestions, how
16 they were supposed to work from that point onwards. We did so to provide
17 them with more information and to create more cohesion among the members
18 of that sector.
19 Q. I did not understand what you said about cohesion of the members
20 of that sector. Are you talking about the sector or assistant commanders
21 for IPD at military unit level?
22 A. I'm talking about all IPD workers.
23 Q. Did you receive information -- you said that you would collect
24 information for certain press conferences from the Main Staff and the
25 information that was received by the Defence Department about the state
1 of affairs along the battle lines. Did people from the Main Staff
2 provide you with information how it functioned?
3 A. Some assistants from brigade level would report to me directly
4 about the situation on the battle-field, about the state -- situation in
5 their military units. The rule was for assistant commander for IPD of
6 operational zones would send to my sector a regular report.
7 Q. Tell me, please, this practice according to which individual IPD
8 assistants in brigades send information to you, was that the practice in
9 the entire area, or did some people send you reports more often than
10 others, some people might never said you any reports? Were there any
11 regulations as to how the people sending information to you should act?
12 A. Every assistant IPD must first -- was duty-bound to inform his
13 commander, first of all, and then the assistant for IPD at a higher level
14 than his own, and so the information went up the line to the sector.
15 Now, I have to say that some people didn't do their job properly, other
16 people did, and depending on the situation on the battle-ground or in the
17 area of responsibility, they would send out information and reports to
18 the sector and sometimes skip the operative zones.
19 Q. What I asked you was whether you can remember whether there were
20 any regulations whereby the people working in IPD in the units and the
21 operative zone were required to send their reports to the IPD sector in
22 the Defence Department, for instance.
23 A. As far as I remember, no, but I think that that was understood.
24 Q. Mr. Vegar, can you tell me, please, when it comes to an
25 assessment -- or, rather, to assess combat readiness through the morale
1 in the units, in your experience, what influenced morale, whether morale
2 was high or low? Was it the events on HZ-HB, events that had negative
3 repercussions on the HVO itself? Did they affect morale? Did you have
4 any knowledge about that and information about that? And if so, did you
5 take any steps to hold information -- informative meetings, or did you
6 perhaps look at the events that influenced the level of morale and so on?
7 A. Well, at that time most events influenced morale, because it was
8 a time of great frustration for the soldiers on the battle-front. There
9 was fatigue, numerous losses, so that all this affected the people, the
10 soldiers, and had an effect on morale, all the negative things that they
11 heard about, or that happened, or the rumours going around, or in
12 politics, or in any other area of life, for that matter. So we tried to
13 do our best to prevent morale falling off, and we used our Department for
14 Social Psychology to help us out.
15 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I'm sorry for interrupting, Ms. Nozica, but
16 sometime and place ago, on page 43, line 11, you asked a question;
17 namely, whether the witness, Mr. Vegar, whether you received information
18 from the General Staff, from the Main Staff, and I think you have not
19 answered this. You have only spoken then of information that came from
20 the brigades directly to you. Did you receive also information from the
21 Main Staff?
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour.
23 JUDGE TRECHSEL: And am I right to assume, from what you have
24 told us so far, that it would be an IPD person attached to the Main Staff
25 that would give you -- that would be in charge of informing you?
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] From the Main Staff, I received
2 information from the commander in the Main Staff. Now, while I was the
3 assistant head, we didn't have an assistant for IPD in the Main Staff at
4 that time.
5 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
6 Excuse me, Ms. Nozica.
7 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. We'll go
8 back to that question when we come to present documents.
9 Q. Now, I asked you about the negative influences on morale with
10 respect to events -- negative events, perhaps soldiers were taken
11 prisoner, the situation with the civilians on the overall HZ-HB area,
12 killings perhaps - I don't want to call them war crimes - but could that
13 have had an especially adverse effect on morale?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. All right. Mr. Vegar, I'd now like to ask you, once again
16 discussing the subject we're on, to go through some documents, and then
17 on the basis of those documents you'll be able to explain what you've
18 already told us. I think we'll be able to get through them fairly
19 quickly, and I'd like you to have binder 1.
20 Look at document P 1372 first, please, and it should be the first
21 document in your binder. P 1372 is the number. Have you found it?
23 Now, Mr. Vegar, is this a proposal for your appointment as
24 assistant head for IPD of the Defence Department, dated the 31st of
25 January, 1993?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. And it was sent to the Croatian Defence Council, the Croatian
3 Community of Herceg-Bosna, and it was signed by Mr. Bruno Stojic; right?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Fine. Now take a look at the next document, which is P 1374.
6 1374. And this, once again, is dated the 31st of January, 1993, signed
7 again by Mr. Bruno Stojic, and once again sent to the Croatian Defence
8 Council, the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna, and it is the proposal
9 to relieve of duty, Mr. Rajic, who until then was the assistant head of
10 the department; right?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Now take a look at the next document, which is 2D 00676. And as
13 you say, this is a document about the HVO HZ-HB; right?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. And it appoints you assistant head of the Department of Defence
16 of the Croatian Defence Council, right, and it is dated the 27th of
17 August, 1993; right? And in that same document, we have the fact that
18 Mr. Rajic is relieved of duty, with the same date; right?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Now take a look at the next document, and it is about the
21 establishment of your sector, document P 00586. And I'm going to ask you
22 to take a look at the Croatian version, on page 2, to see what this is
23 about. It is a decision on the basis for establishing the Defence
24 Department, and on the last page of this decision we see that it was put
25 forward by Mr. Mate Boban on the 15th of September, 1992. We've seen
1 this document quite a few times in this courtroom, and it regulates all
2 the sectors that come under the Defence Department, and I'm going to ask
3 you to take a look at paragraph 6 or section 6, where it says: "The
4 assistant head for moral guidance ..." Mr. Vegar, was that another
5 heading, another title that was used at the beginning as the name of your
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. All right. Fine: "... shall be responsible for the overall work
9 of moral guidance within the frameworks of the Croatian Defence
10 Department and in preparing the country for defence. To that end, he
11 shall have under him the following organisational units:"
12 And it goes on to say, number 1, Information and Propaganda
13 Administration, Military, Psychology and Personnel Needs Administration,
14 and, 3, History, Education, and Publishing Administration.
15 I'm now going to ask you to tell me, in September 1992, roughly
16 when you came to the department, who was the assistant head for moral
18 A. It was Mr. Bozo Rajic at that time.
19 Q. And who was the head of the Information and Propaganda
21 A. That was me.
22 Q. Who was the head of the other administration?
23 A. The Military Psychology and Personnel Needs Administration was
24 Mrs. Vera Cubela. She was the head.
25 Q. And under 3, the History, Education, and Publishing
1 Administration, who was there?
2 A. Mr. Jure Pasalic.
3 Q. Yes, Jure Pasalic. Thank you. Now, Mr. Vegar, if I understood
4 you correctly, after the 31st of January, you were still doing the job
5 oft his first administration, that is to say, the Information and
6 Propaganda Administration?
7 A. That's correct.
8 Q. Now let's look at the following document 2D 00 --
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, I'm looking at
10 paragraph 6, and I see that he talks about ethical conduct in the units,
11 which is an extremely important issue. Now, the ethical conduct, under
12 whose responsibility was it? I mean, we talk about it, but we don't know
13 who was in charge.
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] As far as I understand it,
15 Your Honour, as far as I understand it, Your Honour, as far as I
16 understand this paragraph, I think that everybody was responsible in the
17 army for moral guidance or moral instruction. And in this case the most
18 responsible was the assistant head, which meant Mr. Rajic at that time or
19 I, myself, several months later.
20 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Yes. Thank you, Your Honour, for
21 that question.
22 Q. Now, as this was called -- this whole sector was called the
23 Sector for Moral Guidance, does that imply, Mr. Vegar, that all three
24 administrations within the sector were in charge of moral guidance?
25 A. Yes, every administration had to contribute to boosting morale
1 and raising the cultural level and general educational level.
2 Q. All right. Now let's look at 2D 00567, the next document.
3 Mr. Vegar, this is a decision on the internal organisation of the Defence
4 Department, dated the 17th of October, 1992, and at the time you were in
5 this Sector for Moral Guidance, and it is signed by Mr. Mate Boban -- or,
6 rather, Bruno Stojic and Mr. Mate Boban -- in agreement with
7 Mr. Mate Boban, as it says on the last page. But let's look at D, the
8 Sector for Moral Guidance, and can you tell us -- well, it says the Moral
9 guidance sector, and then it lists the three administrations and the
10 heads of those three administrations, and then it goes on to say that
11 they are appointed by the head of the Defence Department at the proposal
12 from the assistant head for moral guidance.
13 And now take a look at the second paragraph, which says assistant
14 commanders for moral guidance, the operative zone of Southeastern
16 lists all the operative zones, in actual fact, so that I don't have to
17 read them all out. It says:
18 "Bruno Pusic, the assistant heads for moral guidance of special
19 purpose units, as well as assistant commander for moral guidance attached
20 to the brigades are appointed by the head of the Defence Department,
21 based on a proposal by the assistant head for moral guidance."
22 Now, can you tell the Trial Chamber what the procedure was
23 actually like, and whether before the establishment of the Defence
24 Department, did any units exist before that of the HVO, and whether in
25 practice this was acted upon, as is stated here?
1 A. Before the organisation of the Defence Department, there were a
2 number of Croatian HVO units, and certain persons were appointed to them
3 who were later to work in the IPD sector. Now, unfortunately I have to
4 say here that in practice, all these prerequisites were not respected;
5 that is to say, that the proposal came from the assistant, that is to
6 say, I, myself, and that the procedure, well, it wasn't fully respected.
7 Procedure wasn't fully respected, because as far as I can remember, I did
8 not proposal assistants for IPD.
9 Q. Can you remember in what way the assistants for IPD in all the
10 units were put forward? Now, Mr. Vegar, I have the impression that you
11 use the word "sector" when you use IPD assistants in units, you refer to
12 the sectors. Do you differentiate between sectors and assistant for IPD
13 in units?
14 A. Yes, we can differentiate between them if, under "sector" we mean
15 just three administrations within the Defence Department, but if we mean
16 everybody in the operative zones, brigades, right down to the battalions,
17 then I think that they also comprise that sector.
18 Q. Well, could you explain that to me? How does that work, in what
20 A. Well, in the professional sense, you mean? So if we look at the
21 vertical chain, they have to have a chain from top to bottom, and
22 companies, battalions, brigades, operative zones, down to the sector for
23 moral guidance.
24 Q. You're talking about information and the dissemination of
25 information; right?
1 A. Yes, sending out information, training, instruction, and so on.
2 Q. All right. Now, tell me, please, I asked you this question
3 earlier on, did you or do you know in what way assistants for IPDs in
4 units were proposed? Who put their names forward, who agreed, who
5 appointed them, and so on, assistant IPDs in the units that were
6 established after the establishment of the Defence Department?
7 A. Well, the practice was as follows: The commanders would propose
8 their assistants, and agreement to that was given by the Main Staff.
9 They would have to okay it, authorise it. And their appointment would be
10 made by the head of the Defence Department.
11 Q. I'd like now like to ask you, Mr. Vegar, to take a look at
12 document 2D 2012, and this is a salary list for November 1992, and you
13 signed it for Mr. Rajic. And here we have six individuals as being
14 employed in the IPD sector, as it says. So this is the payroll list.
15 Now, are these the people you referred to earlier on?
16 A. Yes, but we have Natasa Ostojic, who was the secretary, but the
17 others are all people that I've already mentioned.
18 Q. This is November 1992. What happened until November 1993? Was
19 there any change in the number of people, or some people left and other
20 came in?
21 A. There were changes, as I explained, earlier. Mr. Bozo Rajic left
22 the sector; Natasa as well, the secretary. Another person became
23 secretary, and also had a private who provided security.
24 Q. A private who provided security, if I understood you correctly?
25 A. Yes. He was -- he provided security, but also escorted
1 journalists and assisted them.
2 Q. Could we take a look at 2D 685, please. It is a schematic of the
3 moral guidance sector. Could you please explain to the Chamber -- and it
4 is a schematic in the 2D 567, in the decision on the organisation of the
5 Defence Department, and schematics are appendices to that decision.
6 Could you explain what this schematic denotes?
7 A. This is the moral guidance sector's breakdown. There were three
8 administrations: Information Administration; Military, Psychology and
9 Personnel Needs Administration; and History, Culture, Publishing, Sports,
10 et cetera, Administration. And we see here that operations zones, there
11 are commanders who have their assistants for those areas linked with the
12 three administrations within the sector. All brigades within the
13 operations zones have their own assistant commanders for those issues,
14 all battalions, and independent companies had only one person in charge
15 of that, and this entails all four operations zones. Some independent
16 units also had their IPD personnel.
17 Q. You explained what was the link between the assistants for IPD at
18 units with you. Can we say precisely that this relationship was -- or
19 boiled down to you receiving from them information concerning moral
20 guidance and that you maintained contacts with them?
21 A. My contacts with them was professional, in terms of providing
22 them assistance, in educating them, training them to perform their basic
23 tasks of the sector.
24 Q. You say your connections, but would it be the connection of the
25 head of other administrations?
1 A. Yes. Our idea was for all administration heads to have direct
2 contacts with their respective colleagues at the lower levels. So if
3 head of Administration for Military Psychology would maintain links with
4 assistant commander for Psychological -- Military Psychology at
5 operations zone level, brigade zone level, et cetera.
6 Q. Those assistant commanders at companies, battalions, brigades,
7 and operations zones, who were they subordinated to? What was the chain
8 of command?
9 A. To their corps commanders, first of all.
10 Q. Fine. Let's take a look at 2D 1446, please.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] May I ask a question.
12 I'm looking at this scheme, and I'm wondering the following, and
13 maybe you can answer this question about the IPD. There is the issue of
14 propaganda, looking at this chart, you know, related to a given issue
15 within an operating zone, whichever it was, if an event occurred there
16 and that triggered an action to be undertaken.
17 Now, were you in contact with the person who was in charge of the
18 operating area or with the assistant commander to this area to say, for
19 instance, and let me just give you a theoretical example, that UNPROFOR
20 in the region said this or that, that it was false, and that a press
21 release must be released immediately in order to contradict what was
22 said? Now, was that the way in which you operated or not?
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, first of all, I could
24 and I did contact IPD assistant, and of course such person would be in
25 connection with their commander and would be in a position to provide
1 objective information.
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] All right. But did you trigger
3 the event, politically speaking? Are you the person who was in charge of
4 communicating this, saying to the commander in the operating area, Well,
5 you need to focus on this or that event, versus another event? Were you
6 actually steering propaganda and training -- or information, I'm sorry?
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I could not order any command --
8 brigade commander or operational zone commander. I could ask assistants
9 for IPD to do something. Information would reach me through such persons
10 of their own initiative and sometimes I sought information and commanders
11 would -- IPD assistants would inform their commanders of everything that
12 they thought was interesting, and this is the chain that ended up with
13 the Main Staff.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well.
15 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation]
16 Q. Mr. Vegar, could you please take a look at the following
17 document, 2D [as interpreted], and it's a further explanation of what
18 Judge Antonetti asked you, so it's 2D 446 -- 2D 1446. Have you found it?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. This is a document signed by Mr. Bruno Stojic. There is an
21 appointment here into the Command of the 1st Herzegovinian Brigade of
22 persons that Mr. Stojic was authorised to appoint. It starts with
23 "deputy commander." Please take a look at items 22, 23, 24, 25. Could
24 you please explain who those persons were and what posts they occupied?
25 A. Assistant commander for IPD under 23, Mr. Nikola Raguz, personal
1 rank was captain.
2 Q. Could you please explain the position and whether these were the
3 tasks that you explained?
4 A. Yes, those were the tasks that we discussed, and this document
5 appoints him as assistant commander for IPD.
6 Q. Under 24?
7 A. The same, but he's a referent for IPD. It's a lower-level
9 Q. What about 25?
10 A. The 25 is psychology.
11 Q. We have an interesting situation that in the Command of the 1st
12 Herzegovinian Brigade we have a psychologist here. Could you please tell
13 the Chamber whether there were more psychologists in units and what was
14 the situation with the professionals who were supposed to work with HVO
16 A. We were short of psychologists. We only had four. We needed
17 many, many more. There were psychologists in that area, but many left
18 the area, went abroad.
19 Q. Mr. Vegar, you explained how the selection and appointment was
20 done, at whose initiative, with the agreement of who, and who did the
21 appointments. I think it's very important. Please, those persons
22 appointed as assistant commanders for IPD, who were they subordinated and
23 responsible to?
24 A. To their commanders.
25 Q. Thank you. Let's take a look at two documents depicting the
1 procedure for appointment. 2D 01450, please take a look at it. This is
2 a proposal of the Rama Brigade of the operation zone, sent to the head of
3 the Defence Department, and we have here listed all the positions that
4 had to be filled in that brigade. Could you please take a look at the
5 last page. Is this the assistant that you referred to, that there was a
6 proposal and that the Main Staff would okay such proposals? Is that it?
7 A. That's correct.
8 Q. Please take a look at the person under the ordinal number of 18.
9 That person is going to be interesting for us. It is a person supposed
10 to perform IPD activities?
11 A. Yes, assistant commander for IPD.
12 Q. And the name is?
13 A. Marko Dragic.
14 Q. Do you know that he was appointed, in fact?
15 A. Yes, he was.
16 Q. Then P 02945, the next document. Please take a look at item 18
17 or -- this is also an appointment signed by Mr. Stojic on the 25th of
18 June, on the basis of a prior proposal. Was that person under 18
20 A. Yes, he was.
21 Q. When you discussed, and you were asked by Judge Trechsel about
22 that, you explained how information was collated and compiled for your
23 press conferences that you would then disseminate.
24 Let's see 2D 1353. Have you found it?
25 A. Yes, I have.
1 Q. This is a Main Staff document dated the 21st of September, 1992
2 isn't that so? It's a report by the Main Staff a?
3 A. That's correct.
4 Q. This is a period where you started working at the Defence
6 A. That's correct.
7 Q. The last page, item 7, the last item in the document --
8 A. I've found it.
9 Q. As far as information dissemination is concerned that
10 disseminated in the public, the Main Staff would forward reports of the
11 subordinated commands to the IPD department so that it can prepare
12 information for the public. Mr. Vegar, would -- information that you
13 issued would follow this path, as it's stated here?
14 A. Yes, I did receive information from the Main Staff.
15 Q. And prepared such information to be disseminated to the public?
16 A. That's correct.
17 Q. Let's take a look at the next document, please, 2D 687. Have you
18 found it?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. This is another document by the Main Staff, an order 24th of
21 November 1992 is the date, and that order states that in the past period
22 from the beginning of the war, there were individuals from HVO that
23 issued statements to the media whereby they revealed military secrets or
24 in some other way diminished the reputation of a certain unit, the
25 Main Staff, or the HVO HZ-HB, so that this wouldn't continue in the
1 future, and then there were three paragraphs in this order. Would you
2 care to comment?
3 A. Yes. There were individuals who, out of ignorance or because of
4 malevolence, they issued statements to the public sometimes revealing
5 military secrets, shouldn't be too amazed because we are a voluntary
6 force -- volunteer force, and this is why the Main Staff issued such an
7 order, whereby everybody was prohibited from issuing statements to the
8 public. And the second, when journalists under item 2, with
9 authorisation to work, visit the operational zone headquarters or
10 formations, they must send to the komandant who is going to choose the
11 individual, who is going to follow them while they are within the zone of
12 responsibility, and it is best that somebody from the IPD sector does
13 this. And this was our standard operating procedure which was respected.
14 Later on, IPD personnel were in charge of receiving journalists.
15 And under item 3, press conferences are the responsibility of the
16 Defence Department, IPD sector, and all others within the zone's
17 headquarters and information can organise. Conferences are based "upon
18 my permission," as it states here, and this is how things happened
19 particularly in the operation zone of Central Bosnia, with which we did
20 not maintain communication because of the fact that they were encircled
21 by the enemy and they had to make due on their own.
22 Q. When you stated under item 2, you stated this was generally done
23 in this manner, when you say "IPD," would it be the IPD of your sector or
24 IPD personnel from the units?
25 A. IPD personnel from the units.
1 Q. Let's take a look at the next document, which is P 856. This is
2 another order of the chief of the Main Staff concerning tasks, under 1,
3 to commanders and assistants for information and propaganda. This is
4 still the 4th of December 1992. Could you please explain to the Chamber
5 what this is all about?
6 A. Because of instances of improper conduct, Mr. Petkovic, chief of
7 the Main Staff, issued this order whereby he tasks all commanders and
8 assistants for information and propaganda to work more with the men,
9 explain to them the possible tragic consequences of such conduct by
10 individuals or groups. This is a pre-Christmas period. People tend to
11 get more relaxed. More drink more alcoholic beverages, walk around
12 armed, which means that there is a possibility for events with tragic
13 consequences, and this is why the commander issued such a document.
14 Q. Thank you. The next document, P 2331, is in your binder. Please
15 take a look at it. This is a letter by Mr. Milivoj Petkovic, chief of
16 the Main
17 dated 12th of May, 1993, and it says here:
18 "Pursuant to the request from operation zone and brigade levels
19 in the HZ-HB for information on events in the HZ-HB," et cetera, and then
20 there's this order. Could you please explain what this is about?
21 A. This request means better engagement and better information
22 dissemination among military units on all events in the territory of the
23 HZ-HB. I understand this request to be a need that was perceived by
24 Mr. Petkovic for better information to be disseminated, and this is what
25 he requests from Mr. Stojic, head of the Defence Department, that he use
1 IPD channels to improve information dissemination.
2 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Pursuant to our instructions to
3 highlight problems with interpretation, I must highlight that in English,
4 this document was erroneously translated. This is a request, in
5 Croatian, but it has been translated as an order.
6 Thank you very much.
7 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Thank you very much. My learned
8 colleague is right. I see in the original that this is a request, rather
9 than an order. This translation, well, it's irrelevant. It's a P
10 document, so it's within the realm of the Prosecution. I'm sorry I did
11 not notice this before.
12 Q. Mr. Vegar, this would be internal information dissemination, if I
13 understood you correctly.
14 A. That's correct.
15 Q. Now let's look at the next document, which is 2D --
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, since I remember
17 things well, I can see that Mr. Petkovic's document is dated the 12th of
18 May, i.e., three days after those events that occurred in Mostar. If we
19 had enough time, we could show the video in which one can see soldiers
20 who had captured Muslim soldiers. Clearly, this was circulated in the
21 media. This operation was specifically targeted by the media. Had it
22 been authorised or not, I don't know.
23 As far as you are concerned, when a unit shows, on television,
24 how a military operation was conducted, does this mean that this can only
25 be shown with prior approval from the Department or not?
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Certainly, yes. But in this
2 specific case the service did not give the green light, and if it had
3 been able to, it would have prevented POWs from being shown on video.
4 You can't show POWs in the media.
5 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation]
6 Q. Mr. Vegar, Judge Antonetti asked you about a certain event, and
7 I'm going to ask you whether you had any authorisation or possibility --
8 well, if television stations that came in, did you have the authority to
9 give the go-ahead or not if they didn't contact you? Did you have any
11 A. Well, we could accredit them. That was the rule. They would
12 report to us and we would accredit them. But some television crews and
13 journalists came in with UNPROFOR, for example, others with humanitarian
14 organisations, and others were taken 'round by various people and went
15 about their business without our knowledge.
16 Q. Mr. Vegar, we're going to discuss a very interesting subject, the
17 accreditation given by you to journalists that went to Heliodrom, but I'm
18 asking you specifically with respect to the question just asked you by
19 Judge Antonetti. Did you -- were you in any way able to make a selection
20 or decide what they would show and tag, film or not? And if you gave
21 your authorisation, were you able to influence them and did you have any
22 influence on what they would show or not on the material they obtained?
23 A. I've already said that we didn't censor anything, nor did we have
24 the technical abilities of doing that, nor was that our intention, but at
25 the very beginning we could point out to them what the problem was and
1 reach an agreement, perhaps, with the journalists to see what they were
2 interested in and give them the possibility of seeing what they wanted to
3 see, talk to people, film what they wanted, fully conscious of the fact
4 that every time that material could be put to bad use. But we took on
5 this risk consciously and knew that somebody might make a montage of
6 something or depict the situation which did not correspond to reality.
7 Q. Now let's look at the next document, and I'm talking about the
8 way that information was disseminated to the public, so let's look at
9 2D 00367 now, please. This is an order --
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, your answer is an
11 interesting one. You said there was never any censorship. Is it because
12 you had decided to be totally transparent or because of lack of
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I think it was a decision that was
15 made at a far higher level than my level, because if the responsible had
16 decided to implement censorship, they would have found somebody other
17 than me, and they thought that nothing should be hidden. And proof of
18 that is that I issued over 2.000 permissions and authorisations to
19 foreign journalists.
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, as far as I remember,
21 since I don't have the video here today -- if we were working the way I
22 would wish to work, I would just press on a button and we would be able
23 to see the clip. A video was shot on Muslims who are taken to the
24 stadium in Mostar. This video, I believe, was circulated by the Spanish
25 media. The foreign press -- the foreign media was there at the time.
1 Did you know they were there at the time, that they were filming, or was
2 this something that was totally beyond your control?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I think that particular case passed
4 without my knowledge. I investigated the matter, and I received
5 information, which was never actually confirmed, that the footing was --
6 footage was made by some soldiers from UNPROFOR.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Did you know that UNPROFOR
8 soldiers had cameras and that they were filming everything they saw?
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, I assumed that they had
11 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
12 Q. Now, the next document, just briefly, and we're still on the
13 subject of the flow of information, it is 2D 637. Have you found it?
14 Yes, it's on e-court. We have here an order dated the 20th of September,
15 1993, when it's -- and it says:
16 "In order to inform the public objectively, I command all the
17 information for the media about the situation on the battle-field will be
18 exclusively approved by a public relations officer from the HVO main
20 My first question is whether such a person existed, whether such
21 a person was appointed to that kind of post? And, secondly, was
22 everybody in the HVO HZ-HB satisfied, were they all satisfied with the
23 way information was distributed, disseminated, how you received
24 information, how you put information out and so on? So was this an
25 example of an attempted intervention, or generally may we have your
2 A. I was conscious of the fact that not everybody was satisfied with
3 my work. Some people told me that; others, of course, did not. I cannot
4 say for sure -- well, I see the contents and know the contents of this
5 order, but I can't say -- well, up until this time, I can say that there
6 wasn't a man for IPD in the Main Staff. After this, possibly. So as I
7 can say -- as I say, there was a reconstruction of the Main Staff, a new
8 organisation set up, and soon afterwards the Defence Department underwent
9 change and a political administration was set up subsequently.
10 Q. What you're talking about now, is that the period after
11 Mr. Stojic ceased to be head of the Defence Department, when you're
12 talking about this political administration?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Now, this document -- well, Mr. Vegar, you should have received
15 this document, and did you?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Just one more detail to clear up. You said that you don't know
18 whether any IPD man existed in the Main Staff, and when you say that, you
19 use the term -- you equate that with spokesman. You seem to use it the
20 same way?
21 A. Yes, the IPD person is usually the spokesman.
22 Q. All right, thank you. Now we'll go through the next documents
23 fairly quickly.
24 Look at 2D 00656, the next document, which is a programme of
25 work, a work programme for moral guidance for 1992, and it contains the
1 dynamics of all that. It was compiled on the 19th of October, 1992
2 was signed by Mr. Bozo Rajic, and we have here certain appraisals made to
3 which -- it says the sector for moral guidance, or rather the IPD, is a
4 relatively recent date in comparison to some other functions and sectors
5 in the Department of Defence. And it says the awareness of the need to
6 establish this sector and of its complex functions has had difficulties
7 getting through and getting proper treatment.
8 Now, can you just briefly comment on that? Although this was
9 written by Mr. Rajic, I assume that you were in the sector at the time,
10 so can you comment on that first sentence, please?
11 A. Generally speaking in the HVO, as a volunteer organisation,
12 people were not trained and educated to take up the post of commanders
13 and so on, so they themselves were not able to comprehend the importance
14 of a service of this kind within the army, and some commanders put up
15 resistance to the service. And I think that Mr. Rajic had that in mind
16 when writing this.
17 Q. I'd like to draw your attention to the second paragraph of this
18 document, where it says:
19 "In order to create efficient and well-thought-out system in this
20 important area of work, it will be necessary to make maximum efforts and
21 invest knowledge and work in connecting fragmented and varying
22 information and propaganda structures and to establish the necessary
23 chain of vertical and horizontal links and introduce responsibility and
25 Now, what vertical and horizontal links does this refer to?
1 Because later, with this work programme and horizontal and vertical
2 links, well, they were mentioned subsequently, in subsequent documents,
3 so let's clear that up straight away.
4 A. I understand this in the following way: There were people in
5 IPD, but not at all positions, so all the planned positions had to be
6 replenished in the operative zones and so on, they had to be filled, and
7 firm links be established between them and among them, and
8 responsibility, too, and then between them and the commander, and
9 especially coordination -- well, to build up coordination -- where it
10 says "vertical links," that is at the level of a brigade, for example; I
11 mean, horizontal, at the level of a brigade or the same level. But when
12 we say "vertical," then down the professional chain. If we're dealing
13 with the military psychologists, then a higher-level military
14 psychologist, down to the Administration for Military Psychology, and the
15 same applies for all the other instances.
16 Q. Now, these links, were they supposed to exist with the sector of
17 the Defence Department?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. So these links were supposed to exist, as we said, horizontally
20 and vertically with the sector of the Defence Department for gathering
21 and sending out information?
22 A. Right.
23 Q. Now look at the next document, 2D 00677 is the number, and it is
24 a document which represents a report -- a work report following on from
25 the work programme. So if we look at paragraph 2 there and look at the
1 last sentence in that paragraph - that's the one I'd like to focus
2 on - the inward flow of information is very poor, most frequently
3 nonexistent, and the transmission and provision of information to
4 military units has been of local significance only. The norm has been
5 the absence of unity and obligation. Every locality has operated
6 autonomously and independently of a single goal.
7 Now, when I asked you whether there was the norm or obligation
8 for you to receive all information, is that what this paragraph
9 addresses? And what does it say when it says "exclusively local
10 importance"? Can you comment upon that?
11 A. Well, I didn't write this report, but I can comment, and these
12 would be my comments: It's clear that the service didn't function as
13 well as it could have because it had just been set up, just been in
14 existence for a few months, so logically there would be problems. And
15 when the local character is mentioned, then I think that means that
16 Mr. Rajic, who wrote this report, had in mind local links between
17 commanders and their assistance to the local environment, because we
18 should know that just before the establishment of the Defence Department
19 and the establishment of the HVO, there were municipal units and
20 municipal staffs that were superior to them.
21 Q. Now, when we come to reports, Mr. Vegar, while you worked in the
22 field, did you compile reports, send them out to the Defence Department,
23 and were those reports of yours parts of the HVO HZ-HB reports? And I'm
24 speaking about annual and six-monthly reports?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Now I'd like to look at the work for 1992. P 00128 is the
2 number, and I'd like to ask you to look at page 15 of that report. It is
3 15 in both the Croatian and English versions. Paragraph 3 on page 15,
4 which speaks about the work of the IPD, and the first paragraph addresses
5 what I asked you a moment ago, and that's why I said that it was a draft
6 report. Now, you've seen this report, so can you confirm that everything
7 that is contained in the report is roughly what happened in 1992, in the
8 three months that you were working in the IPD in 1992?
9 A. Yes, I can confirm that.
10 Q. Now let's look at the next document, P 04699, which is a report
11 on work for the period of June 1993; page 27 of the Croatian and page 18
12 of the English. And, Mr. Vegar, the same title appears here "Moral
13 Guidance" or "Moral Upbringing," so we have the use of the IPD sector and
14 the moral guidance sector, although that's the same sector, but you -- as
15 you yourself said, these were different names for the same thing, the
16 same sector.
17 Now, Mr. Vegar, look at page 28, please, which refers to meetings
18 with the IPD staff in the Military District of Western Herzegovina, and
19 then it mentions seminars, the History Administration, the results
20 achieved in sports, and so on. Now, tell me, were these meetings held
21 from September 1992 with individual workers in the different operative
22 zones in the different brigades?
23 A. Yes, there were meetings in the operative zones and also
24 individually in the brigades.
25 Q. These were professional meetings, as you said, where you would
1 issue instructions on how work was to be done, et cetera?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Specifically, I would like to know more, whether you conducted
4 education on the application of international law and how you, within the
5 framework of that sector at such meetings and seminars, how you conducted
6 such education.
7 A. Yes, this was one of our tasks. On several occasions, not once,
8 we organised meetings and seminars with the help of representatives of
9 the International Red Cross and with the help and on the basis of
10 materials that we received from the Ministry of Defence of the Republic
11 of Croatia
12 Q. Fine. Let's take a look at the last document in your binder.
13 That's P 7419. Let's take a look at it. It is a report for the second
14 six months of 1993. Please take a look at page 13, concerning the moral
15 guidance sector. I'll quote what I'm interested in. You say here that
16 the sector worked insensibly, particularly --
17 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Would you be so kind and give the page of the
18 English version also?
19 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Your Honours, this is my problem. I
20 will rectify that. I have only the Croatian version in front of me. But
21 the page starts with "The moral guidance sector," with those words.
22 JUDGE TRECHSEL: It is page 4, then, page 4.
23 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Thank you. My mistake.
24 Q. Mr. Vegar, the sentence starts:
25 "The sector was intensively working on information and propaganda
1 by way of numerous press conferences through talks with more than 2.000
2 foreign journalists. This is the number of press IDs that were issued by
3 the reception/guidance escort to the front-lines, and other locations
4 that are attractive for the media."
5 Please, let's analyse this. You answered about that as by His
6 Honour Antonetti, on the number of foreign journalists. What does this
7 mean, "the reception, guidance, direction and escort to the front-lines"?
8 Could we break this down a bit, how this went? Would they address you or
9 come to you? What did you do after such requests were lodged?
10 A. When I would receive a request by a media crew, I tried to
11 address it to the best of my abilities. Of course, journalists are
12 interested in what their editors and their public are interested in, and
13 there were requests to go to the front-line, to the forward positions.
14 They were interested in visiting hospitals, prisons, et cetera.
15 Q. If they wanted to go to the forward positions on the front-line,
16 how would you issue them with accreditations? Would you go with them?
17 Who would escort them? How was this done?
18 A. Of course, I had to be mindful of their security, and for that
19 reason, at least one soldier would escort them. He would take a route
20 which would not endanger their lives, but only to the spot where
21 journalists demanded, but not beyond that point, to avoid threat to life,
22 so that they could have footage and statements from people on the ground
23 and not just my statements.
24 Q. Who would be in charge of them at certain unit level?
25 A. Well, they would come to a military unit. IPD personnel were
1 supposed to meet them there and be there at their disposal.
2 Q. What kind of IPD, Mr. Vegar?
3 A. That unit's IPD personnel.
4 Q. Did you escort media to prisons in the territory of HZ-HB? Did
5 you issue accreditations to media crews and whether you escorted them
6 there? For instance, how many accreditations you issued in 1993?
7 A. I think that I handed out several to visit the military
8 investigation prison.
9 Q. Which military investigation prison?
10 A. The Mostar military investigation prison.
11 Q. Was that the Heliodrom locality prison?
12 A. That's correct.
13 Q. Could you recall in which period this took place?
14 A. That was July/August 1993.
15 Q. Mr. Vegar, would you escort them on occasion?
16 A. At least once, I escorted a team of journalists.
17 Q. Did you escort representatives of the International Red Cross
18 when they visited the Heliodrom military investigation prison?
19 A. That's correct. Yes, I did.
20 Q. When you visited the prison with journalists, who did you seek
21 approval from and what were the technical arrangements to visit the
22 Heliodrom prison?
23 A. I would seek approval from the commander of the prison, Stanko --
24 I can't remember the family name.
25 Q. Please try harder. Maybe it will come back to you later. You
1 contacted him. What did you say to him? I think this is an important
2 question, so please make your answer very precise. You called him?
3 A. Yes, I called him and told him that there is a team of
4 journalists who would like to visit the prison. If it was possible, we
5 could come. He said it was possible, and then I would write an approval
6 for the departure of those journalists towards the prison.
7 Q. Would it be the same procedure every time they asked that?
8 A. Every time they asked.
9 Q. On that one occasion that you escorted journalists to that
10 location, that was also in July/August 1993; is that correct?
11 A. That's correct.
12 Q. Who met you there, what did you see there, and what the
13 journalist did, who they talked to? Did they produce footage, take
15 A. We were met by the commander of the prison. He talked to the
16 journalists. They visited a room containing prisoners. They went to the
17 toilet, a kitchen. They visited -- well, a doctor met us in a room, and
18 a nurse, a male nurse. Journalists talked with prison ers. They taped
19 that conversation. There was a photojournalist, so she took pictures.
20 We were there maybe 45, 50 minutes in all.
21 Q. When you were there with representatives of the International Red
22 Cross, can you recall whether this was before the visit to -- with the
23 journalists or what was the sequence of those visits?
24 A. I visited the prison with the ICRC personnel first.
25 Q. Do you recall who requested that you escort them to the military
1 investigation prison?
2 A. I can't recall anybody calling me, but since I cooperated with
3 the International Red Cross, I asked the chief warden to approve a visit
4 and then we visited.
5 Q. How long did this visit with the ICRC take? Did you see the same
7 A. Yes. It lasted no longer than an hour.
8 Q. Mr. Vegar, during your two visits -- at least two visits to the
9 prison, did you see any women, children, being detained there?
10 A. No, I did not see any women or children, although I must admit
11 that in town later on, I heard that there were several women with
12 children in the loft. Maybe several days afterwards, I heard about that.
13 Q. I'm asking you about what you heard. Did you hear about the
14 reasons for them being there?
15 A. I heard that they were refugees, that they had nowhere else to
16 go, that some of them didn't want to leave the prison, and this is the
17 only information that I had.
18 Q. Did you hear such information from official persons, since you
19 are a person who received information through vertical and horizontal
20 channels, so did you hear this about women and children through official
22 A. No. It was unofficial.
23 Q. Did journalists request that -- to visit Dretelj and Gabela
24 prisons? Were there any requests? Did you know about those prisons?
25 Were you asked to issue approvals?
1 A. There were such requests, but I couldn't issue any approvals for
2 such prisons.
3 Q. Mr. Vegar, did you know who was in charge of those prisons, and
4 did you send journalists to those persons who were in those of those
6 A. I know that Mr. Tomo Sakota was in charge of those.
7 Q. Did you send the journalists to him? Did you know who appointed
8 Mr. Sakota to take charge of those prisons?
9 A. I knew that he was appointed by Mr. Mate Boban, and since I could
10 not satisfy such requests, I would send journalists to him. And if he
11 were to allow them, then that was it, but I couldn't do anything about
13 Q. We are revisiting the topics of your meetings, Mr. Vegar. We'll
14 have to speed up. Let's take a look at document 2D 665.
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, may I refer to the
16 last document. You may be able to answer or maybe not. It is my feeling
17 that this document P 70919 as -- comes from the Defence Department and is
18 about activities from July to December 1993, and now I see something
19 which is stated here, and I should like you to give me your opinion on
20 this if you have one, of course, if not, then just tell me that you
21 cannot answer. It says that the armed forces from the HR HB [as
22 interpreted] have become professional brigades through the abolition of
23 the professional brigades, and the most interesting comes afterwards.
24 The latter were not reporting to the Staff of the HV.
25 Now, can you explain this to me -- well, there's a mistake. I'm
1 saying once again to the interpreters in English to pay attention
2 carefully. I said "HVO." I did not say "HV." I hate to have to control
3 what I'm saying. You know, when I say something, I would like this to be
4 transcribed faithfully.
5 So, sir, about these professional units, have you heard from
6 them? Have you heard about them or not? If you have not heard about
7 them, then I will stop my questions there.
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I can't find that passage in the
9 text. I'm sorry.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] In the text, this is on the
11 first page, second paragraph. The first page starts for the period from
12 July to December, and this is the second paragraph.
13 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] If I can assist you, that's page 1.
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I've found it. But since this did
15 not concern directly my sector, I did not read this passage. I would
16 need some time to read this passage. And, anyway, I did not understand
17 the question fully.
18 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Your Honours, may I assist? You
19 expect a witness's answer. He states that he didn't read that part of
20 the text and he didn't understand fully the question.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Please, sir, you know, don't
22 look at the document. All I'm saying is that this document refers to
23 professional units which were not reporting to the headquarters of the
24 HVO. So what do you think about that? Do you know, don't you know?
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, I don't know of any such units.
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] All right, you don't. We'll
2 ask Mr. Praljak the question when he testifies, or to other witnesses,
3 military witnesses. All right.
4 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours.
5 Q. Mr. Vegar, please take the next binder, the new binder. The
6 first document is 2D 00655. Please take a look at it, please. This is a
7 report from working meetings at brigade level in the Operation
8 Zone South-East Herzegovina
9 guidance sector of the Defence Department, and the Operation Zone
10 South-East Herzegovina
11 document bears your signature, testifying that you attended those
12 meetings. At the beginning it's said that there was one meeting in 1993.
13 One was on the 6th of January, the 9th of January, the 11th of January,
14 and the 14th of January. Could you please tell the Trial Chamber who --
15 what was this meeting on the 14th of January with the 1st Mostar Brigade?
16 That's one that was part later of the 4th Corps?
17 A. Yes. Even after that date, we had joint meetings with them.
18 Q. Mr. Vegar, was -- were those meetings with IPD personnel of those
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. At such meetings, you discussed different problems and topics,
22 and this is a report from such a meeting; is that correct?
23 A. That's correct.
24 Q. Thank you. Let's go through some other reports.
25 Please take a look at the next document, 2D 00635. This is a
1 report on negotiations on the exchange of military and civilian prisoners
2 in the Konjic municipality. It's dated the 31st of May, 1993. It is
3 evident from this document that a commission was established by
4 Mr. Petkovic which was supposed to conduct an exchange of military and
5 civilian prisoners captured in the municipality of Konjic
6 agreement by Generals Petkovic and Halilovic, dated the 12th of May. It
7 is stated here who was in that commission, and a name Vera Cubela was
8 quoted here. She worked in your sector?
9 A. Yes. She was a psychologist in my sector.
10 Q. Was it important for the morale of your units -- it was important
11 not only to exchange prisoners of war but also to exchange the bodies of
12 killed soldiers and civilians; is it correct?
13 A. Yes, that's very important for any military organisation.
14 Q. Were you asked, at such meetings, why this was important? Did
15 you receive requests from units? Was it -- were you requested to explain
16 what happened, et cetera?
17 A. Yes. For every combatant, it was important to know whether
18 their -- when they were to be exchanged or freed.
19 Q. Would people ask about the fate of their beloved ones, members of
20 their families, of course, whether they were killed or wounded?
21 A. Yes, these were even more important questions.
22 Q. Mr. Vegar, could you tell us whether this exchange did take place
23 and what happened, pursuant to information that you must have received
24 from your colleague, Vera Cubela, who worked under you at that time?
25 A. Unfortunately, the agreement between Mr. Petkovic and Halilovic
1 was -- did not take place. Our group of officers went to the
2 municipality of Konjic, but the exchange of military and civilian
3 prisoners did not take place, and the people from the BiH Army were to
4 blame. They were not ready to fulfill the items of this agreement, the
5 agreement of two generals, one of whom was their superior officer. There
6 were two commissions that were supposed to work on resolving these
7 issues, but it was obviously a ploy to procrastinate, and those people
8 returned from Konjic with the task unfulfilled.
9 Q. I now want to show you some documents which directly relate to
10 what you were talking about, the information that you received directly
11 or through the media which relate to the situation in the field, on the
12 ground, and that was information that you received and that you used to
13 inform the public at large, and others that you used for internal
14 information. So in that respect, look at 2D 00682, and this is a piece
15 of information which came from Prozor, from the Operative Zone of
16 South-West Herzegovina, and it says the GH HVO Mostar, IPD department.
17 And you said that in the Main Staff, there was no IPD department, at
18 least not at that time, so tell us briefly whether you can remember why
19 this kind of information was supposed to go to the IPD, which means the
20 IPD sector and to you; right?
21 A. Yes, I think that motivation was as follows, the motivation of
22 the author of this piece of information, and that is that from the IPD,
23 somebody should help find a journalist, a television crew, to record the
24 events in Prozor and the release of BH POWs taken during the previous
25 conflicts, and the object being to reduce tension and as a
1 confidence-building measure. So the commander was of the opinion that if
2 this would be broadcast over television, it would boost confidence
3 between the two peoples living in the area.
4 Q. It says: "Calm intentions between the HVO and --"
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Ms. Nozica, we're going to take
6 a break now. It's 20 to. We're going to take a 20-minute break, and
7 we'll resume at 6.00.
8 --- Recess taken at 5.38 p.m.
9 --- On resuming at 6.01 p.m.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Ms. Nozica.
11 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours.
12 I have been told that I have roughly an hour left, which means
13 that we'll go on until the end of the day today and end there, if there
14 are no major interruptions.
15 Q. Mr. Vegar, I've been asked by the French interpreters that we
16 slow down, speak a little more slowly. So I'll do my best, and you do
17 your best, too, and especially to pause between my questions and your
19 And before we go on to the next document, I'd like to correct the
20 transcript. On page 68, line 5, a document is lacking there that I
21 showed the witness, and that was document P 00128. It was an HVO HZ-HB
22 report for 1992.
23 Now, Mr. Vegar, you told us the way in which things influenced
24 morale or, rather, news of deaths, woundings, and people having been
25 taken prisoner all influenced morale. Now I'd like to ask you to look at
1 the next document, which is 2D 00815, and tell me whether you've found
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. This is a report by the assistant command of the brigade for ID
5 [as interpreted], the Herceg Stjepan Brigade from Konjic, and it was sent
6 to the HVO, the Main Staff, the Command of the Operative Zone, Mr. Zebic,
7 and it addresses the situation in Trusina. Can you tell us, please,
8 whether you know or whether you received information about what happened.
9 And we see that this is the 16th and the 17th of April, the stamp
10 received by the Main Staff. Can you tell the Court whether you received
11 any information about what was going on in Trusina specifically at that
12 time, and could you tell me how that information influenced morale in the
14 MR. SCOTT: Excuse me, Your Honour. This goes to what we
15 addressed earlier today, and I think before counsel -- before the
16 question is answered, counsel should comply with the Chamber's ruling and
17 indicate why this particular evidence is elicited and how it relates to
18 something other than tu quoque.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes. Ms. Nozica.
20 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I think I acted upon
21 your instructions, because I asked the witness in advance, before I ever
22 showed him any document, what the -- how different situations influenced
23 morale, that is to say, information about HVO members being taken
24 prisoner, or killed, or possibly civilian casualties, fatalities. I
25 didn't say that they were war crimes or anything else. And the witness
1 answered that this did indeed have a considerable effect on morale among
2 the HVO soldiers.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Ms. Nozica, first and foremost,
4 you should ask the person in question whether he was aware of it, because
5 he may never have been aware of it. When I see that the document was
6 sent to the Main Staff of the HVO and to the commander of the operational
7 zone in the south-east, perhaps the witness was never made aware of this
8 document. Maybe this is of no interest whatsoever.
9 Mr. Scott.
10 MR. SCOTT: Well, in addition to that, Your Honour, to say that
11 it's relevant to showing how it affected morale doesn't answer the
12 question. How is that relevant to this case? How is the morale of these
13 soldiers relevant to any issue in the case? So that doesn't answer the
14 question. What is the purpose of this evidence as it relates to a
15 relevant issue in this case?
16 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Your Honour --
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Ms. Nozica, try and tell us
18 what the connection is with the indictment. If there is a connection,
19 then you can continue.
20 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Your Honour, in this document, in
21 the third line, it says:
22 "Some of our soldiers are in a serious psychological condition
23 because their families are imprisoned in that village."
24 Now, we have here someone who was in charge, among other things,
25 of morale, the morale of the soldiers, and therefore quite simply I
1 consider that he could tell us something about that. Now, whether he
2 knew of this document or of these events I consider to be very important
3 as an indicator of what was happening during that time in the area, and
4 I think it's impossible to answer the charges of a joint criminal
5 enterprise if we cannot address the events that influenced morale, and
6 the witness is best placed to answer that question.
7 Thank you.
8 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Ms. Nozica, I think that there is perhaps a
9 misunderstanding. The question was not whether and how this influenced
10 on the morale. The question was: What is the relevance of the morale of
11 HVO soldiers with regard to the indictment? And that is not quite
13 No, the question was really to Ms. Nozica. I don't know why you
14 often pop up and answer questions put to someone else.
15 MR. KARNAVAS: Because that's what lawyers do, Your Honour. When
16 they are trying to --
17 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Yeah, yeah, I know.
18 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, Mr. Karnavas, please.
19 MR. KARNAVAS: That's what lawyers do -- well, I mean, we seem to
20 be getting off the wrong foot. I'm entitled to make a record, and if I
21 do feel the need to make a point, I will make a point. And if you wish
22 to sanction me, then sanction me. Give me a hearing, and we can proceed.
23 Now, it does go to the issue of reverse ethnic cleansing. That's
24 why. And that's my contribution to the Bench. If we're here to get to
25 the truth and you're asking why, it does relate to reverse ethnic
2 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Well, I still think that when a Defence calls a
3 witness, it's for that Defence to say what it wants to establish with
4 that witness.
5 MR. KARNAVAS: Your Honour, I stood up. You could have easily
6 told me to sit down and shut up, as you did to one of our witnesses. You
7 could do that, have you that right. But I also have the right to make a
8 record and make a contribution, and in my opinion the joint criminal
9 enterprise affects everyone, everyone in this case, including my client,
10 and that's why I'm entitled to make the record.
11 This is an international tribunal, and these are the rules. I
12 play by the rules.
13 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I would like to hear Ms. Nozica.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Praljak, don't add to the
15 tension, please. Let Ms. Nozica answer the question.
16 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I fully agree with what
17 my learned friend Mr. Karnavas just said, and I would like to thank him
18 for that, and I said the broader context, without entering into the
19 specificities, which is certainly part of the joint criminal enterprise,
20 but the broader context is that this relates to the joint criminal
21 enterprise, and the morale of soldiers is a very important element, if we
22 look at everything that happened in HZ-HB. And, Judge Antonetti, you
23 yourself said we don't know if the witness saw this or knew anything
24 about this information, but I don't think we should consider these
25 matters in front of the witness. We can ask the witness whether he knows
1 about any of this, and then we can hear his answer to see whether these
2 events influenced the morale of the soldiers, and then it will be up to
3 the Trial Chamber to weigh up whether this is relevant or not.
4 Now, Your Honour Judge Trechsel, I could respond very precisely
5 and tell you what all these events in April relate to, April 1993,
6 including this particular event, because it testifies to certain action
7 undertaken by the BH Army which is exceptionally relevant, but I find
8 myself in a position whereby I would be testifying here. So I kindly ask
9 you to look at the documents. You will be able to weigh them up and
10 assess their probative value, but I think that it is very important
11 precisely because of the joint criminal enterprise and, as my colleague
12 said a moment ago, Mr. Karnavas, because of reverse ethnic cleansing,
13 what was happening to these people, precisely because of the indictment
14 which relates to Sovici, and I think that it is exceptionally important
15 for us to establish what was going on in this area, what the casualties
16 and fatalities were among the Croatian civilians from the BH Army, and
17 then, of course, members of the HVO as well.
18 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Well --
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, Mr. Scott.
20 MR. SCOTT: Thank you, Your Honour.
21 I quite respect my colleagues. The answer simply -- the question
22 simply hasn't been answered. The Chamber's ruling requires -- counsel
23 says she's afraid of testifying. The Chamber's ruling requires that she
24 articulate a basis, and if that requires her to say -- to give a basis,
25 then so be it. If we need to excuse the witness, you know, we can do
1 that. But there is simply -- with great respect to those in the
2 courtroom, there has still been no answer to the question. To say that a
3 reversed -- reverse ethnic cleansing doesn't make any obvious connection,
4 and to say that it relates to morale doesn't tell us how it relates to
5 the indictment. And I want to be very clear. I'm not trying to be
6 obstinate for obstinate's sake, but this is the point of this evidence,
7 and the reason we filed a motion was to put it before the Chamber,
8 because I don't think it's going to be the last time that it happens, and
9 that's where -- that's what this is about. And counsel has to articulate
10 a specific reason why this is relevant to something put in issue by the
11 indictment, and with great respect it hasn't been done yet.
12 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Well, as far as I'm concerned, as far as I'm
13 concerned, I see that it is your belief that this relates to joint
14 criminal enterprise, and I fear that, while the situation is a bit
15 ambivalent, to take now a negative decision as far as your request is
16 concerned would not be very safe, so I, for myself, declare myself
17 satisfied with your explanation, which does not mean that I am convinced
18 by it, in substance, but as far as this phase of the proceedings is
19 concerned, for me you could go along.
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [No interpretation]
21 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
22 Very precisely, I'd like the witness -- well, the witness is a
23 means -- a vehicle through which we're going to establish facts in
24 respect of the joint criminal enterprise, so let me ask him straight
1 Q. Mr. Vegar, did you know anything about these events, and did you
2 receive direct information about the events in Trusina, and otherwise in
3 this area during April, what kind of information did you receive, which
4 information did you receive? Just answer precise -- answer my question
5 precisely. And how did that affect the morale of the soldiers or,
6 rather, did it require you to establish certain matters, and did you ask
7 anybody to do that?
8 A. I am well aware of the events in Trusina.
9 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreters note that there is a lot of
10 noise and interference in the courtroom, and we're not able to hear the
11 speakers, so could the other microphones be switched off.
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] ... on the right banks of the
13 Neretva River
14 author of this piece of information states himself, that is where some
15 very ugly and tragic things took part -- took place. And we see that on
16 the 17th of April, to the best of my recollections -- on the 16th the
17 slaughter took place in the place called Trusina, so he just has
18 indications that the situation is very difficult there, serious, but he
19 didn't have any detailed information as to what had actually happened.
20 So in this piece of information, he is asking for the assistance of the
21 Red Cross and asking the Red Cross to come in.
22 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation]
23 Q. All right. Now, later on did you receive information about
24 the -- or through the IPD? Did you inform the public in HZ-HB that this
25 crime had been committed and who the fatalities were?
1 A. This piece of information did come in, and it was accessible to
2 the public. Later on, we learnt the names of the people who were killed
3 in the village.
4 Q. Now let us look at document 2D 00157, page 1 of that document.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, I would like to
6 address the issue of morale. I'm trying to understand what could have
7 happened in Hamici [phoen]. What date is Hamici, as far as you remember?
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I think on the 16th or 17th of
9 April, at the same time or slightly later.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] If it's later, any information
11 on Trusina could have had an impact on those people that may have
12 committed crimes in Hamici or not?
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I think that it could have, but
14 whether it did or not, I don't know, because I did not have such
15 information, neither did I have an assessment of the situation in Central
17 communication, for a long time, and I don't believe that these two events
18 were connected.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The document we have before us,
20 is this a document you were made aware of or not? Not this one, but the
21 previous document, the document about Trusina.
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, I was informed of it.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] How did you get to know about
24 it, since it had been sent to the Main Staff of the HVO? You were not
25 one of the recipients of this document. How did you get it?
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] As I already stated, Your Honour,
2 the Main Staff is probably the main source of information that I
3 received. Somebody from the Main Staff most probably gave it to me.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Gave it to you. Fine.
5 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Thank you. We can continue.
6 Q. The document 2D 00157, have you found it? It is signed by
7 Mr. Darinko Tadic, lists the names of people who perished in war crimes
8 against the Croats in the municipality of Konjic
9 information about those people being casualties?
10 A. I have some information dating before this date, but we found and
11 learned about the names and family names afterwards, not then.
12 Q. Please take a look at page 2. This is a list of villages in the
13 municipality of Konjic populated by Croats. Some were burnt down,
14 looted, and the Croats were expelled, it says here. Please take a look
15 at item 18.
16 JUDGE PRANDLER: I have had so far no intention to discuss this
17 matter again, and I also agreed to have a few questions concerning this
18 issue. On the other hand, I would like again to emphasise that the
19 argument which was raised by you, Ms. Nozica, and also by Mr. Karnavas,
20 that is, the adverse and the reverse -- I'm sorry, the reverse ethnic
21 cleansing, I do not think that it is really a solid and forceful argument
22 in this case. I tell you why.
23 That rule which I quoted at the beginning of this meeting,
24 Rule 140 of the General Rules of Customary International Humanitarian
25 Law, says, and I again repeat:
1 "The obligation to respect and ensure respect for International
2 Humanitarian Law does not depend on reciprocity," does not depend on
4 And here again it is my point that although we all know about
5 those very regretful and criminal acts, and we on all sides of this
6 whole, we do condemn them, at the same time somehow I do not understand
7 the relationship between the morale of the troops, if these criminal acts
8 have been committed here and there, and committed of course on the other
9 side, at least crimes which were originally committed in other, of
10 course, instances by other troops, so that's why I really feel that if
11 you are now to continue with this way of thinking, then again we are
12 going against the general rule of the Customary International Law, that
13 the obligation of respect of the rules do not -- does not depend on
14 reciprocity. And therefore, in my view, they cannot be overestimated,
15 even if, regretfully, we all admit that there were certain very important
16 breaches of International Humanitarian Law everywhere and originally by
18 Thank you.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Praljak.
20 THE ACCUSED PRALJAK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, in my
21 opinion, and this is why I'm asking to say a few words, this problem is
22 concerning the most important bit of the whole proceedings. Of course,
23 no crime can be justified by another crime, and of course no commander
24 should allow or issue an order to answer to a crime by a crime, but we're
25 dealing with psychology of people. We're talking about decompensating
1 persons, not morale. We talk about a number of decompensated people.
2 We're talking about the power to control non-structured units which are
3 in the grip of hatred. And a commander can be assessed or evaluated on
4 their powers to do something in May 1993 in Mostar. 115 people were
5 slaughtered on the left bank. All of them had relatives, and the number
6 of decompensated persons who are ready for revenge is something that a
7 commander or a civilian official is confronted with in that town, and to
8 manage such a crowd, within civil authority or state authority organs, is
9 what we're dealing with.
10 We are not justifying crime by crime. We're not talking about
11 Praljak issuing an order to answer by crime to a crime. But if we list
12 the crimes in Grabovica and elsewhere, then the number of decompensated
13 persons in a volunteer force -- armed force, the question for Praljak,
14 Stojic, or anybody is how to prevent. How can we prevent what happened
15 in Greece
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Witness, you have information
18 about propaganda and information. I'm going to address another issue.
19 I see that this is sent by Mr. Tadic to the ICRC, the Red Cross,
20 UN observers and UNPROFOR. This document gives a list of all those
21 communities in which Croats fell. This is my question, Witness: When
22 something happens like happened in Ahmici, the international community
23 was mobilised, whereas -- well, when it is informed about all of this,
24 was there such a mobilisation? And if nothing happened, can you give us
25 an explanation for this?
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, your question would
2 require broader analysis, an explanation.
3 It is true that the international community was informed of the
4 crimes that we see referred to in Mr. Tadic's document. I can frankly
5 relay the feelings of those people in Herzegovina and elsewhere, that
6 asked themselves the very same question that you are asking, why crimes
7 committed by one side is taken by the international community and
8 UNPROFOR in one way and a completely different radical vengeful way to
9 the crimes committed by the other side. I do not have an answer to your
10 question. I still do not have a definitive opinion or stance on this
11 issue, not only concerning the events in 1992/1993, but also the present
12 conduct of some international representatives in that area even today.
13 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation]
14 Q. Mr. Vegar, I would like to ask you to comment under item 18 of
15 this document in front of you. It says here:
16 "The Croats from the town of Konjic were either expelled or
17 detained in Celebic (about 300 persons in the camp)."
18 Mr. Vegar, we saw the minutes of that meeting on an exchange of
19 civilians and HVO members that were present and captured in that area
20 after these events. Do you recall -- can you confirm that this concerned
21 the persons referred to here?
22 A. Yes, I can confirm that.
23 Q. Under 19:
24 "The villages of Turija, Zabrdje and Zaslivlje, the fate of the
25 Croat residents of these villages is unknown. The village is now
1 populated by the Croat refugees from the town of Konjic."
2 Mr. Vegar, at time before this date in March or April, did you
3 have any information that Croats, members of HVO and civilians had been
4 expelled to those three villages?
5 A. Yes, I did have information. Quite a lot of Croats from Konjic
6 were expelled, and they stayed there for a long time, some even until the
7 very end of the war, because these three villages remained in their
9 Q. Mr. Vegar, there is a host of questions I'd like to ask you
10 about, very important questions. Pleases skip the next document, for
11 time's sake.
12 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Perhaps I'm doing what you would have liked to
13 do, Ms. Nozica. I find this document really important and relevant, and
14 my hesitations were not global.
15 Mr. Vegar, can you vouch or say that everything on this list,
16 number 1 to 23, is correct?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] With a high degree of being sure
18 that I can vouch, say that these information are correct, but whether
19 there were 300 or 290, 250, or 350 people detained at Celebici, this I
20 cannot say. I do believe that maybe the International Red Cross may have
21 such information even available today, but apart from the camp at
22 Celebici, in the town of Jablanica
23 places, there were many such camps.
24 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you. Can -- could you tell the Chamber
25 how you know, why you know, what the basis is of your knowledge? I
1 suppose you did not go to the area to verify. I wonder whether you got
2 direct informations from the people from those villages or whether this
3 is based on other kinds of reports that you had.
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] My knowledge of the time is based
5 on the report. Of course, physically I could not reach that area. I'm
6 not sure whether anybody from the HVO could do so. That area was off
7 limits for us. But all reports dating from after the war, the
8 associations of the detainees and imprisoned persons, their statements,
9 and I know many of them, such as Mr. Zelenika, who had suffered
10 atrocities at such camps, tell me that my initial information that I had
11 received had been correct.
12 JUDGE TRECHSEL: And where did the original information come
13 from? You said something "reports." Are they around somewhere, these
14 reports, I mean, other than this, which is probably also second-hand?
15 I'm not sure, but it looks like it.
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] There are books written about that.
17 Unfortunately, I don't have any of them here, listing the names of
18 persons who were detained in those camps. There are associations or NGOs
19 who care for such victims. There are monuments in -- to the fallen
20 people in those villages. I attended the funerals of some of those
21 victims who were buried in Herzegovina
22 because it was impossible; for instance, the father of my son's friend,
23 who was buried elsewhere because it was impossible to access his hometown
24 and cemetery, et cetera. The father of my friend's son and not the other
25 way around.
1 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I was only referring to the page -- the second
2 page, the list of villages, and is it correct if I interpret your answer
3 as saying that you base your affirmation that this actually happened
4 mainly on sources of which you had cognizance after the war?
5 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] If I may, Your Honours, if I can
6 assist, you asked that question and it was clearly misunderstood. You
7 asked the witness about those 23 villages from this list, whether he can
8 confirm for each of them. He continued discussing items 18 and 19, so
9 let's refresh the witness's memory on whether he had information or
10 confirmation that those events happened in all the villages listed on
11 page 2 of this document. Was that the gist of your question?
12 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Yes, thank you. And on what basis does he know?
13 On what basis do you know about the 23 villages? I had understood that
14 you said that you more or less knew.
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, that's what I said. The first
16 information that reached me, I could have doubted. However, later on the
17 written information, the [indiscernible], when I went to some of these
18 villages and so on, confirmed that first information was correct and that
19 in this area, indeed -- well, I can't say 100 per cent, but, anyway, that
20 the Croats were expelled, and many of them lost their lives too.
21 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you. Could you say us to which villages
22 you actually went?
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Celebici, Jablanica, Grabovica, the
24 whole of the Neretvica area, all of the villages over there, Trusina and
25 so on.
1 JUDGE TRECHSEL: And when did you go there?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] After the war.
3 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
4 Excuse me, Ms. Nozica.
5 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour, and I
6 apologise for my intervention. But I saw that your question was not
7 properly understood, so that's why I stepped in.
8 Q. I'd just like to ask you, Mr. Vegar, to look at another document
9 now, which is 2D 675. I'm skipping over some things because of the time
10 constraints, so just look at that document, please. It is a document
11 that reached the IDP. That's without a doubt, Mr. Dragic, who obviously,
12 according to this information, kept abreast of matters, and it speaks of
13 a crime. The document speaks for itself. But let us now just briefly --
14 or tell the Trial Chamber briefly why this request was put in, in the
15 first place. What does it refer to, because in the penultimate paragraph
16 there is mention of UNPROFOR and its conduct.
17 A. Yes. Mr. Dragic here points to unacceptable behaviour on the
18 part of UNPROFOR, because UNPROFOR did not want to carry out an
19 investigation into the killings of certain civilians in their homes, and
20 also the fact that individual civilians were putting on uniforms and
21 using UNPROFOR insignia in order to bring in weapons clandestinely and
22 look at the separation lines and so on. And so in this letter he is
23 suggesting that this matter be followed up because of UNPROFOR's conduct.
24 Q. Mr. Vegar, when it comes to UNPROFOR, do you know whether anybody
25 in the Defence Department was in charge of liaising with UNPROFOR? And
1 if you received information of this kind, would you forward it to that
2 liaison officer?
3 A. No, I was not able to forward this information to anyone.
4 Q. What was your answer?
5 A. Yes, I did forward this kind of information to the people who
6 were in charge of liaising with UNPROFOR.
7 Q. Now let's look at 2D 651. 651 next, please. Skip a few
8 documents. It is -- it says "Veso Vegar," and it is a public
9 announcement, Konjic, Konjic spokesman. Were there any spokesmen within
10 HVO municipalities?
11 A. Yes, and this man retained that function.
12 Q. Now, I'd just like to ask you to focus on the last two sentences
13 of this document. I'm going to read them out, because I consider them to
14 be very important. It says:
15 "Pursuant to the masters of a propaganda war, who have taken on
16 this human [indiscernible] have only shown the Croats what they can
17 expect in a state in which they are being expelled to and which, thank
18 God, never will exist. There will be a democratic, sovereign, united
19 Bosnia-Herzegovina that will be a true home to Croats and all other
20 peoples that live in it, and Croats do not fear to give their lives -- to
21 lay down their lives for it and take anything these extremists and
22 chauvinist, in this case the Muslims, do."
23 A. Muslim extremists, yes. I'm trying to follow.
24 Q. Now, Mr. Vegar, here we have a political standpoint from a
25 brigade as to why the HVO was fighting. Was this your position, and your
1 position as a spokesman of the HVO in the Defence Department?
2 A. Yes, that was the position that we propagated at our meetings
3 with the IPD people, and I agree with this observation.
4 Q. Now, let's skip over a document and look at 2D 668 now. This is
5 a press release from the information office of the 3rd Operations Zone,
6 Central Bosnia
7 it was addressed to you and others. Would you explain why this press
8 release was sent out and whether this was done in the -- on a regular
9 basis in this operative zone?
10 A. Yes, this was customary, and I've said why; because it was
11 isolated, this press release. And we can look at the contents, and from
12 them we can see that it provides an overview of the war activities going
13 on in the first part, and in the second part it provides some political
15 Q. Just a moment, please.
16 MR. SCOTT: Before we continue with this document, perhaps the
17 witness can provide some foundation. He's told us several times today
18 that there was no communication with Central Bosnia, and now he seems to
19 be saying that he received reports from Central Bosnia. So can we please
20 have some clarification or foundation for asking about this document?
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, ma'am. Could you please
22 clarify this with the witness?
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, I can clear that up.
24 There was very poor communication, so I was not able to take part
25 and create or have a meeting with the people, nor was I able to send them
1 information or direct them in any way. They had their independence when
2 it came to informing the public. I wasn't able to assist them or
3 influence them in that respect. So they, themselves, with the means at
4 their disposal, put out these releases, and these were special links that
5 were used for me to be able to come by this kind of report. They were
6 not accessible to me. They were accessible through the Main Staff
8 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please, Counsel. Microphone.
9 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation]
10 Q. Mr. Vegar, do we see that this information was sent to Radio
11 Television Bosnia
12 A. Yes, and all the other media in the area with which they
13 communicated, because they had telephone communications with Sarajevo
14 Zenica, but not with Mostar, which is where I was.
15 Q. Radio Television Bosnia
16 headquarters on the 12th of May, 1993?
17 A. In Sarajevo
18 Q. Now, this was a press release made public, and let's see what it
19 says on page 2 of the document, where Mr. Alija Izetbegovic is mentioned,
20 as well as Mr. Mate Boban. And now we have a sentence like this. It
22 "And while they're losing one town after another," and this
23 refers to the BH Army, in Eastern Bosnia, "while Zepa is falling, as well
24 as Gorazde, Srebrenica, so the bearded criers of Allahu Akbar are
25 slaughtering and massacring the Croats."
1 I know it's difficult for you to comment on who the bearded
2 criers of Allahu Akbar were, but if you remember who was called like
3 that, tell the court please.
4 A. I think that that referred to the foreign combatants in the BH
5 army ranks, and that's how they were referred to.
6 Q. It says: "... who were massacring or mutilating Croats." And
7 then it says:
8 "The Croats who armed them, the Croats through whose lands they
9 had delivered and still deliver food, they have delivered and still
10 deliver weapons."
11 So I'd like to point that out. And that was part of the press
12 release. After this press release, did you ever hear that anybody from
13 the BH Army denied these allegations contained in this press release?
14 A. Well, maybe they did, but I didn't hear of them.
15 Q. All right. Let's skip two documents and move on to what was your
16 job and to illustrate this with an example of your release -- press
18 Look at 2D 643 now, please. Mr. Vegar, this is a piece of
19 information which you signed, you placed your signature to it, and it
20 refers to a joint meeting of the Croatian Defence Council and the
21 BH Army, held on the 25th of March, 1993, in Konjic. So tell me,
22 briefly, what is this document? Is that the way in which you compiled
23 information, or just briefly what is this?
24 A. Yes, this document does relate to attempts made -- or a joint
25 attempt made by the HVO and BH Army, the high-ranking officials, to
1 resolve the problems in the areas of Konjic and Jablanica. And, as
2 usual, it ends with conclusions made; that is, the return of the units to
3 the situation prior to the conflict, the return of refugees, people going
4 back home, to exchange prisoners, release those captured, and so on.
5 Q. Mr. Vegar, when you compile a release of this kind, I'm not sure
6 whether you remember this specific one, but would you publish this at a
7 press conference, or what would you do?
8 A. I would send it to the media.
9 Q. Mr. Vegar, I've already asked you this, but take a look at
10 2D 0689, which is the next document. As I say, I've already asked you
11 whether you signed some statements which were those that emerged from the
12 HVO HZ-HB session, and your answer was affirmative, so was this a result
13 of such?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Now just take a look at the next document, which is related to
16 this previous one. It is 1D 1423, 2D 1423, and it is the minutes from a
17 session of the HVO HZ-HB dated the 17th of April, 1993, and explain to
18 the Court how, once you compiled this information when replacing your
19 colleague from the Information Department of HZ-HB, how did you compile
20 these pieces of information?
21 A. On the basis of minutes.
22 Q. The minutes of what?
23 A. Minutes from the sessions of the Croatian Defence Council.
24 Q. Did you just write them out or did you make your comments?
25 A. No, it wasn't my job to provide comments, so I didn't do that.
1 Q. So did you mostly copy out the conclusions from the minutes?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Okay. Now I'm going to show you another document, which is
4 P 09519, and this is a document which was taken from
5 "Slobodna Dalmacija." It is P 09519.
6 May we have it on e-court? Yes, it's correct in the transcript.
7 Have you found the document?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Now, Mr. Vegar, can you tell me, please -- well, you signed the
10 document; right? Now, tell me -- and we have in the translation that
11 this is a 4th of April document, 1993. Can you tell me specifically what
12 it's about?
13 A. It's a report from the Croatian Defence Council session that I
14 distributed to the media, and one of the papers receiving it was
15 "Slobodna Dalmacija," which published this.
16 Q. Now take a look at the next document, the minutes from the
17 session, which would be P 1798, which is the next document in your
18 binder. Mr. Vegar, is this everything that was published in the previous
19 document under your full name?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. With the exception of the last two paragraphs, and I'd like to
22 draw your attention to that, is that a tactical rendition of what was
23 discussed on the 3rd of April, 1993, at a session of the HVO HZ-HB?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Mr. Vegar, did you attend that meeting?
1 A. No. I did this on the basis of the minutes from the session.
2 Q. I'd like you to give me complete answers now, Mr. Vegar. You
3 worked on the basis of the minutes. What minutes?
4 A. The minutes from the meeting, from the session.
5 Q. Of the HVO HZ-HB; is that right?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. All right, fine. Now, we have seven minutes left, and I think we
8 can get through some more.
9 Look at a press release now which you compiled. It is document
10 2D 1317, which should be the next document in the binder. And tell Their
11 Honours what this is about, because "Slobodna Dalmacija" is mentioned
12 again, you signed it, so can you tell me what this is about?
13 A. This public announcement refutes a text in Slobodna -- that
14 appeared in "Slobodna Dalmacija" which claimed that two UNPROFOR APCs had
15 been abducted, because some incidents broke out, but we managed to learn
16 the full truth from an UNPROFOR representative, we believed them, but we
17 refuted the information we received.
18 Q. Now, it says here that sources close to the HVO said that members
19 of the BH Army, not far from Konjic, seized two APCs, and here you deny
20 that the statement came from the HVO or that this incident happened?
21 A. Well, journalists usually use the phrase "sources close to," but
22 in this case, even if they were close to, they were not reliable sources,
23 not truthful.
24 Q. And that's what you say in this public announcement?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Now, take a look at the next document, please. 2D 1309 is the
2 number, and it is another report of yours dated the 25th of September,
3 where -- about the massacre in Donja Grabovica. Now, did you receive
4 this information from the ground and then contained it in this report?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Look at the next page. The state is the same, and can you tell
7 us briefly what that's about? It says "the 25th of September, around 100
8 parents." You can read it on the screen if you can't find it in the
9 binder, and tell me what it's about.
10 A. It's about parents, wives, brothers, sisters of imprisoned
11 soldiers of the HVO protesting because their nearest and dearest were not
12 being released from custody, whereas on the other side prisoners --
13 Muslim prisoners were being released.
14 Q. Now look at the next page, which is the 24th of September, and it
15 says Croats who escaped from Jablanica. This speaks about Grabovica too.
16 Now, the that information you received, did you receive it directly or
17 did you have contacts with those refugees, or if not you, who did? Who
18 provided the information as to what happened before they escaped?
19 A. This is not from any official HVO sources, but unfortunately the
20 information proved to be correct.
21 Q. I think, Mr. Vegar, we have time for two more documents that are
22 mutually linked. P 3038 is one of them. Tell me when you've found it.
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. It's a document dated the 30th of June, and it is an announcement
25 signed by Mr. Stojic and Mr. Prlic about events that took place after the
1 30th of June. Do you know anything about that? Can you tell the Court
2 briefly if you do, and did you in any way take part in compiling this
4 A. I think I did take part in writing this document. The document
5 was a result -- was a reaction to the attacks on the 30th of June in
6 Mostar and north of Mostar, the settlements north of Mostar, Tihomir
7 Misic and so on, and Mr. Stojic and Mr. Prlic felt the need to compile a
8 joint statement, and that's how this document came into being. But in
9 this announcement, the measures that were undertaken are also listed.
10 Q. Mr. Vegar, as you understand it, and [indiscernible] reading
11 their own conclusions, does that smack of any negative propaganda or any
12 sort of hatred -- hate speech, regardless of the events of the 30th of
13 June, 1993?
14 A. No, I don't think they are there. I didn't find that there.
15 Q. Well, generally speaking in any of your statements, or
16 announcements, or whatever, did you ever convey something that would be a
17 condemnation of a whole people, or a hate speech, or anything like that?
18 A. Well, I took great care to avoid doing anything like that ever,
19 and I don't think I ever used "hate speech."
20 MS. NOZICA: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I see the time. I
21 still haven't completed my examination, but I should like to know how
22 much more time I have. Do you think that we should adjourn for the day
23 at this point?
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] All right. So to my
25 astonishment, I see that you have 45 minutes left. We've wasted a lot of
1 time in various objections, so you have three-quarters of an hour left
2 for tomorrow.
3 So we're going to adjourn tonight.
4 Mr. Witness will be at the hearing tomorrow, so you should be
5 back at 9.00 a.m.
6 shall have no contacts with anyone until tomorrow.
7 I'd like to wish everyone a nice evening.
8 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 7.00 p.m.
9 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 17th day of
10 February, 2009, at 9.00 a.m.