1 Wednesday, 11 November 2009
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The witness takes the stand]
5 --- Upon commencing at 9.00 a.m.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Registrar, can you kindly call
7 the case, please.
8 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning, Your Honours. Good morning
9 everyone in and around the courtroom. This is case number IT-04-74-T,
10 the Prosecutor versus Prlic et al. Thank you, Your Honours.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, registrar.
12 Today is Wednesday, the 11th of November. I'd like to greet all
13 the people present in the courtroom, the accused, Defence counsel,
14 General Beneta, representatives of the OTP, as well as all the people
15 assisting us.
16 I believe Ms. Pinter would like to say something.
17 MS. PINTER: [Interpretation] Good morning, Your Honours. Good
18 morning to everyone in the courtroom.
19 Yesterday during the cross-examination by General Praljak a map
20 was presented, an original map that we were unable to have photocopied
21 yesterday. In the meantime we did so. It's on the board. I let the
22 Prosecutor compare the original with the copy, and I would now like to
23 ask for an IC number for the copy.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] No objections, Mr. Laws?
25 MR. LAWS
1 everyone else in and around the courtroom. No objection at all.
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Registrar, please.
3 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, Your Honour. The map shall be given
4 Exhibit IC1101. Thank you, Your Honours.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Laws, let me give you the
6 floor for the rest of your cross-examination.
7 MR. LAWS
8 WITNESS: IVAN BENETA [Resumed]
9 [Witness answered through interpreter]
10 Cross-examination by Mr. Laws: [Continued]
11 Q. And good morning to you, General. Can we pick up where we left
12 off yesterday, please, on the topic of the southern front and volunteers,
13 and would you turn in the Prosecution's binder to Exhibit P04295, please.
14 This is an order in respect of sending volunteers to the southern
15 front, and it's from the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Croatia
16 and we can see that it's signed by the defence minister, Mr. Susak, and
17 approved by General Bobetko. You can see that on the last page. We're
18 going to look at a bit of its contents in a moment. It's an order about
19 sending troops and MTS to the southern front. Can we just look first of
20 all at the final paragraph, paragraph 7, which tell us amongst other
21 things that involved in the coordination of this order is Brigadier Tole
22 the chief of the HVO staff, as he was in -- as he's referred to there.
23 Can you see that?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. So we can deduce from that that it's something in relation to the
1 HVO. And we'll look back now together at the body of the order. In
2 paragraph 1 we learn that it's to create a reinforced battalion out of
3 the volunteers from the 5th Guards Motorised Brigade, 1st Battalion,
4 going to be sent to the southern front. Can you see that?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. In paragraph 2 it says that the battalion of volunteers shall be
7 reinforced, and then it gives us the weaponry with which it's to be
8 reinforced: 120-millimetre mortar battery, a six-weapon system with an
9 anti-aircraft defence battery, a 76-millimetre gun battery which is a
10 six-weapon system, 128-millimetre RAK platoon. What's an RAK platoon?
11 A. RAK means two weapons, two artillery weapons, multiple-rocket
12 launchers, 128-millimetre calibre. Every launcher with 12 barrels, with
13 a crew of four men.
14 Q. Thank you. And we're getting three of those sent on this
15 deployment. Two tank platoons from the 5th Guards Motorised Brigade
16 armoured battalion with the entire crew, and at least three combat sets
17 of ammunition, and then it goes on to talk about the combat sets being
18 provided with the necessary MTS to go with them?
19 So it's not just that the volunteers are going to be allowed to
20 be deployed to the southern front, but they're going to be, on the face
21 of it, taking with them this weaponry; is that right?
22 A. According to this order, they should be carrying this weaponry
23 with them, but I want to emphasise it says here up to two tank platoons,
24 which is not really properly termed, but it all depends on the order.
25 From 0 to 2.
1 Q. Well, you might have some comments to make about the language,
2 but the sense of paragraph 2, I'm going to suggest to you, is that some
3 heavily armed soldiers are being deployed. Is that right or wrong?
4 A. It is true that this reads that in addition to the troops the
5 volunteers referred to in paragraph 1, weaponry is sent. I can't say
6 heavy weaponry. This is infantry weapons save for this phrase, "up to
7 two tank platoons," which is not infantry weapons. Obviously the author
8 of this order was unsure how many weapons will be able to be sent. The
9 rest of the weaponry can be handled by infantrymen, because this is
10 included in infantry skills.
11 Q. And the volunteers who have, on your evidence, asked to go to
12 fight in Bosnia and Herzegovina, they happened to be volunteers who will
13 be proficient in all of the skills necessary to operate this equipment
14 that they're taking with them, the multiple-rocket launchers, the
15 mortars, the anti-aircraft defence batteries, et cetera. That's right,
16 isn't it?
17 A. Yes. In a group of 200, 300 soldiers at that time, you would
18 find men who are infantrymen whose specialisations covered all these
19 skills apart from the tanks. That is not an infantry skill.
20 Q. No. But the tanks and the other weaponry are going with the
21 volunteers. Does that in any way change your evidence about the nature
22 of this engagement of volunteers?
23 A. I don't see any reason to question any of my previous evidence.
24 In paragraph 1, as in the paragraph about reinforcements, I don't see any
25 reason to change my previous evidence. Apart from this reference to
1 tanks, it says "up to two platoons," because the author obviously wasn't
2 unsure to what extent this order will be able to be implemented.
3 Q. It's one thing for a soldier to say, I want to go and fight in
5 Croatian Army to say, yes, that's all right, and please take with you
6 multiple-rocket launchers, mortars, tanks. That's not -- that's not
7 something that happens with a volunteer, is it? That's a deployment.
8 That's what I'm suggesting to you, General.
9 A. I can also confirm to you that we did not send volunteers
10 blindly, haphazardly in a danger. We equipped them properly so that they
11 have a chance of functioning there rather than sending them empty-handed,
12 without equipment, without weapons, without communications, somewhere
13 where they would be stranded.
14 Q. Would you please look now at paragraph 4 of this document. It's
15 over the page.
16 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I'm sorry, Mr. Laws.
17 Just a question of information, Mr. Beneta. A tank platoon
18 signifies how many vehicles, how many armoured vehicles per platoon?
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, a tank - T-55 is
20 mentioned here if I'm not mistaken - it will have a crew of four men.
21 Yes, I know they had T-55 tanks. Perhaps at that time even M-84 with a
22 crew of three. So a crew would be three to four men per artillery
23 weapon, and that would make 9 to 12 men in a tank platoon, plus
24 commanders, of course. That means 10 to 13. Or let me correct myself,
25 12, because the commander of a platoon is also a member of the crew. So
1 it would be 9 to 12 men.
2 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I had actually not asked the number of men but
3 the number of tanks, of armoured vehicles. I take it that it is three,
4 three tanks to one platoon.
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, three tanks per platoon.
6 JUDGE TRECHSEL: So six -- six tanks are dispatched.
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I don't know, Your Honour, how many
8 tanks were sent. I don't know anything about this order. I'm just
9 reading what it says, and it says, "up to two tank platoons." I read
10 this as, "send from 0 to 2 tank platoons."
11 JUDGE TRECHSEL: There is perhaps again a lack of precision in
12 the translation, because the "up to" I do not find in the English text.
13 Would you be so kind as to read the number 2 of the order, beginning with
14 "banju dragovoljaca."
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, you've noticed that
16 very well. It just says two in English. I'm reading the original
17 though. It reads:
18 "The battalion of volunteers shall be reinforced with a
19 120-millimetre mortar battery (six weapons), with an anti-aircraft
20 defence battery of 20 or 14.5 millimetres, one 76-millimetre ZIS gun
21 battery (six weapon systems), one multiple-rocket launcher platoon of
22 128-millimetres RAK (three weapons), up to two tank platoons from the
23 armoured battalion of the 5th Guards --"
24 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you, we have gotten to the right passage,
25 and I can absolutely follow that the translation is wrong and you were
1 right. So it would be up to -- mathematically up to six tanks, and you
2 were quite correct in your answer. Thank you.
3 Please, Mr. Laws.
4 MR. LAWS
5 Q. Over the page, please, General. Paragraph 4 and paragraph 5.
6 "The 5th Guard Motorised Brigade commander and the assistant
7 commander for political affairs shall be held responsible for the
8 political preparations, conversations with all the volunteers, necessary
9 explanations and motivation."
10 Can you see that?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. I'm going to suggest to you that that -- we saw a similar
13 passage yesterday. That is describing preparing people who are being
14 deployed. It's talking to them about motivation. It's talking to them
15 about political preparation and explaining matters to them. It's
16 deploying troops who need to be told why they're going there and what
17 they can say whilst they're there. That's the truth, isn't it?
18 A. I would not quite agree with you.
19 Q. You nearly agree with me?
20 A. In some aspects I agree, in others I don't, but I cannot give you
21 a ratio or a percentage or even indicate that I agree more than not.
22 Q. All right. We'll take that answer. Thank you. The following
23 paragraph just before we leave this document says that on its arrival in
24 the port of Ploce
25 command of the HVO staff as the reserve. Can you see that?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Because that's the southern front, isn't it?
3 A. The Ploce port, at any rate, is the southern front.
4 Q. The HVO are operating in the southern front, aren't they?
5 A. The southern front the Croatian Army is active, mainly in the
6 Croatian part of the territory of the southern front, partly in the
7 border belt on the side of Bosnia and Herzegovina. And here I see
8 written, at least in what we've analysed so far of the text, that this
9 group of volunteers, reinforced with some infantry weapons, maybe also
10 tanks, maybe not, should be arriving in Ploce where they have to stay in
11 reserve for intervening in an area of the southern front which is
12 located, as I read here, possibly in the area of responsibility of the
13 HVO, but they are still in the role of reserve.
14 Q. Thank you, General. Would you turn to the next document, please,
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] General Beneta, I'd like to get
17 back to paragraph 5 of this document. I was waiting for the Prosecutor
18 to finish before reviewing this paragraph with you again. Paragraph 5
19 states that these volunteers are all put under the commander of the HVO.
20 This is crystal clear. On reading this document, I realise that fairly
21 substantial reinforcements are provided since the tanks which were in
23 front since they will be transported on a car ferry. So it's a
24 large-scale operation which is being conducted here. Nobody can
25 challenge the fact that this is an important operation.
1 Now, in military terms, all these people are placed under the
2 command of the HVO. Yesterday when I put a question to you relating to
4 view the American forces were to be subordinated to the Kuwaiti forces.
5 I was going to follow up your answer with a question which I'm putting to
6 you now. Now, considering what is happening in Afghanistan at the
7 moment. NATO is in Afghanistan
8 situation. The US
9 of Mr. Karzai. Let's take the case of Iraq for instance. Also, are the
11 by saying no. So military situations can be very different from one
12 place to another.
13 With these examples, I would like to know this: In this
14 particular case we are talking about the southern front, and you have
15 mentioned the theory of the single battle-field. How is it that all
16 these units are being subordinated to the HVO? Why would the
17 Croatian Army not still be in command? Why are these units placed under
18 the command of the HVO. I find it difficult to understand this.
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I also said yesterday
20 that it's thankless and easy to be misinterpreted to compare troops of a
21 scale of the US
23 now, had anything similar in terms of forces, equipment, or power to
24 justify such a comparison.
25 Here again we see, indeed, that these forces of the
1 Croatian Army, established as a volunteer unit, are placed at the
2 disposal of the commander of the HVO. If you're asking me about the
3 reasons why, the reasons lie in the official position of the political
4 leadership of the Republic of Croatia
5 international community for Croatia
6 Bosnian war.
7 If we had the same situation today and if I were in a
8 decision-making position, I would go and protect the interests of Croatia
9 wherever they are jeopardised, hitting directly at the centre of the
10 threat. However, today in our current situation, our system is conceived
11 in such a way that enables us to make alliances with plentiful grounds in
12 the constitution, whereas at that time there were no such prerequisites.
13 If you're asking me whether these people down there needed
14 assistance and help, as a human being and as a military man I would
15 always say yes, and I say yes, and I can only echo the words of
16 General Praljak. We protected them the best way we could with everything
17 we could within the limitations we had. And I have to emphasise that the
18 role of the commander was one of the key roles, and I see that I'm
19 frequently asked yesterday and today to put myself in the shoes of
20 Mr. Kapular. I will say a few words about it here, with your leave,
21 although I've seen some of these documents during proofing and decided
22 that I had nothing to say about them. I never thought that I would be
23 asked to explain someone else's decisions and acts. However, if a unit
24 commander has friends there, family there, or any other ties to that area
25 and is in a position to encourage people to volunteer and go help defend
1 Bosnia and Herzegovina from aggression, then his unit will probably
2 produce more volunteers. However, if a commander thinks he has his hands
3 full on Croatian territory without going anywhere else, this position of
4 the commander will also influence people and less of them will volunteer.
5 Yesterday, I watched on television some sort of commemoration in
6 the United States attended also by the president. I heard what he said.
7 And if we go back to that document which reports on the protests of
8 parents and friends of the men in the 5th Brigade and the punishment of
9 those 26 men and the reasoning stated there, the language is practically
10 the same as that used by the president of the United States.
11 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I'm sorry for interrupting you, but you're going
12 a bit too far in this kind of explanation. It sounds like pleading for
13 the Defence. I think Mr. Laws should continue questioning.
14 MR. LAWS
15 The question was spending from Your Honour.
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] General Beneta, you are telling
17 us that these volunteers went to the southern front for reasons. They
18 had their own reasons. Very well. But as I was listening to you, I was
19 wondering the following: What about the -- a tank crew member who hails
20 from Slavonia
21 I don't know exactly how these crews were made up, but I assume that most
22 of the tank crew members hailing from Slavonia had a very distant
23 connection to this southern front. They were just executing an order.
24 They were asked to come and reinforce units who were already deployed on
25 the southern front and they obeyed. So you're telling us that they
1 volunteered to go. Maybe so.
2 We need to take a look at the breakdown of the tank crew members
3 to seeks exactly whether they had a connection with Bosnia-Herzegovina or
4 not, but I don't have all this at hand.
5 I'm going to hand the floor back to Mr. Laws, but in your answer
6 I wanted you to -- to explain why the HVO was in command, and you told us
7 that it was because they were volunteers and it was up to the HVO to
8 command them. At least that's what you gave us as an explanation.
9 Mr. Laws.
10 MR. LAWS
11 Q. The next document, please, General, is P06797. It's a document
12 that was added overnight, in fact. And if it assists, we have a spare
13 copy here.
14 MR. LAWS
16 Q. Ah, you have it. Thank you, General. This is a document from
17 the Welfare Administration Department of the Ministry of Defence of the
18 Republic of Croatia
19 order which is said to be "based on the fact that there have been
20 frequent remarks and complaints lately, related to correct and concrete
21 way... carrying out duty, I hereby issue the following order."
22 And if you look with me at the first paragraph of the order, I
23 think we'll find it says:
24 "1. To be very careful during filling out of death forms so
25 that in the case of a person killed in the territory of the Republic of
1 Bosnia and Herzegovina, one is supposed to fill in the southern
2 battle-field and not the exact place of death. The matter is that this
3 has been still happening, especially in the recent time ... some people
4 are mentioning the name of the place of death as, for example, Mostar,
5 Bugojno, or other places."
6 Do you see that paragraph, General?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. It's an order that when people die in Mostar or in Bugojno or in
9 other parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina, that mustn't be put on the death
10 certificate. Instead, "Southern front" must be put on the death
11 certificate. That's the effect of it, isn't it?
12 A. Correct.
13 Q. It's being concealed. The truth is being concealed by this
14 order, and I'm suggesting to you this: It's being concealed because its
15 politically sensitive that Croatian troops are dying in Mostar and
16 Bugojno and other places.
17 Do you agree that that's a sensible interpretation of this
19 A. Your Honours, this document is an example of the absurd situation
20 in which we were at the time.
21 Q. Well, could I interrupt you, because you told us a bit about the
22 absurdity. I'm asking you a simple question. Do you agree that it is a
23 sensible interpretation of this document, that the truth is being
24 concealed because it is politically sensitive? Do you agree that that's
25 a sensible interpretation of this document?
1 A. I completely disagree. And I can state my reasons if you're
2 willing to listen to me now. I'm sorry that you interrupted me five
3 minutes ago, because I wanted to establish the link between what was said
4 yesterday and Mr. Kapular, but I wasn't allowed to.
5 Q. Well, you were -- you were stopped by the Judges when you wanted
6 to talk about Mr. Kapular. Mr. Kapular is not involved in this document.
7 You've given evidence over the course of two days about the fact that
8 people were volunteering, and so being sent to the southern front because
9 they wanted to go there. This document may or may not help us, but I
10 want to take it in stages, and I've asked you whether you agree that the
11 truth is being concealed because it's politically sensitive. You say you
12 strongly disagree with that.
13 Don't tell us about Mr. Kapular. Tell us why you disagree with
15 A. Thank you for enabling me to say so now, and I would like to ask
16 the Trial Chamber to go back to the issue that I haven't had the chance
17 to deal with, haven't had the chance to exhaust.
18 This document, if we understand the situation completely,
19 absolutely cannot be connected to a political hiding of the fact that
20 Croatian soldiers are being sent to the front in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
21 This document is a consequence of a simultaneous establishment of a
22 state, the laws and regulations that we had at the time, and the
23 situation -- or, rather, reality which was not in line with that.
24 If at the time a written -- there was no written evidence that
25 the -- a soldier died in the southern front and exclusively in the
1 Republic of Croatia
2 was killed even as little as 500 metres across the border, the killed
3 man's family had no legal grounds for claiming a pension.
4 This was written exclusively for social reasons, to enable the
5 families to get what -- to get their due, because to us soldiers, it was
6 so absurd that if we say that somebody was killed in the outskirts of
7 Metkovic, on the Bosnian side of the border, then the family of that
8 killed soldier cannot get what they would otherwise have been entitled
9 to. So -- and if that man was the only one generating income for their
10 family, the family would be left without anything. So on a daily basis
11 we complained that this must not be done.
12 I, too, drafted documents that this must be taken care of in the
13 legislative way, but the -- they said that they didn't have time to do
14 that. And in order to get to grips with the situation, they replied,
15 "Well, then don't state that the man was killed across the border. Just
16 state that he was killed at the southern front." And from a military
17 point of view, the southern front was on both sides of the border.
18 Q. Mostar and Bugojno are both considerably more than 500 metres
19 across the border, are they not?
20 A. Yes. I believe that there were individuals who even went as far
21 as Bugojno as volunteers and remained Croatian soldiers. They retained
22 that status. But the Croatian state considered it necessary to provide
23 for his family if he got killed in Bosnia.
24 I, too, had one or two such cases, and I still paid out wages for
25 that killed soldier until the authorities resolved the situation. And I
1 called his father, who was in Bosnia
2 him to Croatia
3 although the son had already been killed.
4 This is an interpretation of documents from the positions of a
5 well-established state that has been functioning for hundreds of years.
6 I beg you, do try to put yourself in the situation in 19 -- back in 1991
7 when the state wasn't yet fully established.
8 Q. Well, this is 1993. During 1992 and 1993, whilst you were
9 deployed in the territory of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, you were
10 a HV soldier, and you were being paid by Croatia; is that right?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. And although Croatia
13 and could arrange the deployment of soldiers and weaponry as we saw in
14 the last document, you're saying that it simply couldn't arrange benefits
15 for those who died unless it said "Southern front" and not "Mostar." Is
16 that what you're saying?
17 A. Yes. Benefits could be paid out if the official document read
18 "Southern front." So if a soldier got killed in Croatian territory, then
19 benefits could be paid out.
20 This administration mentioned here, that also takes care of
21 burying people or bodies --
22 Q. We don't have very much time. We're not dealing with burying
23 people at this stage. You've given your answer.
24 Let's turn on to 4D00701.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Just a minute. The question
1 raised by Mr. Laws was essential. In his question, he put to you that
2 according to him, according to the Prosecution, for political reasons the
3 fact that Croatian troops were in Bosnia-Herzegovina was concealed,
4 notably when they were killed in Mostar or Bugojno. There's a logic
5 behind this point of view. But you are answering by saying that this was
6 not the case, that it was just an administrative problem, because the
7 administration of the Ministry of Defence, having noted that death
8 certificates mentioned Mostar or Bugojno did not want to trigger off the
9 procedure that should occur when a soldier dies on the battle-field.
10 According to you, the Croatian law says that you can only get
11 compensation if you died either on Croatian soil or on a Croatian front
12 but not abroad. And then right at the end of your answer you said that
13 this document came from the Ministry of Defence, from the welfare
14 department in charge of burials, and I do note that -- and I do note
15 welfare administration on this document.
16 The -- Mr. Laws did not show you -- did not show you all the
17 reasons behind this order, because in any military document, there is
18 always reasons.
19 In this document we see that there were remarks and complaints
20 that had been made and that this was the reason why this order was
21 actually issued. Now, here's my question: You're under oath, and you
22 are telling us that this document is just the -- is just an explanation
23 for administrative questions linked to the payment of compensation to
24 families, because this payment can only be done if the troop actually
25 died on Croatian soil or on the front, on the battlefront, but nowhere
1 else. Is that it?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, you have said the very
3 things that I wanted to say, and I apologise if I didn't phrase it as
4 well, because I was a bit upset, but you have summed it up perfectly. I
5 have nothing to add.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] This is your position. This is
7 what I'm saying. I'm not saying that the conclusions -- we'll draw the
8 same conclusion, but I tried to sum up your position. And I summed up
9 also the Prosecution's position. Of course, both are different.
10 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I would like to add a little question.
11 Mr. Beneta, are you able to tell us where we find the rule that no
12 compensation can be paid out if a soldier of the HV has been killed
13 somewhere else than on the territory of the Republic of Croatia
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I cannot give you the
15 exact reference such as the article, but I know that in the constitution
16 and other subordinate legislation mention is made of the Croatian Army
17 waging a defence war, and the -- the purpose of the war explicitly or
18 implicitly was the defence of the sovereignty and territorial integrity
19 of the Republic of Croatia
21 because in order to maintain law and order in Croatia by a parliamentary
22 decision, a series of legal acts was taken over from former Yugoslavia
23 I know when this was happening to me with people whose status had
24 been frozen and they had left for Bosnia and Herzegovina temporarily, if
25 they got killed the state didn't pay out to them what it should have, but
1 I continued to disburse their salaries, although the men had been killed.
2 But to my mind this was a lesser evil than leave their families without
3 an income.
4 JUDGE TRECHSEL: I would -- would be led to draw the conclusion
5 from your answer that dispatching Croatian soldiers to Bosnia
7 that a correct -- a correct thinking?
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, they were not sent
9 there. They were just enabled to go there, both individually and as a
10 unit. I said as much yesterday. But they were not made to go there.
11 They were not forced.
12 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
13 Mr. Laws.
14 JUDGE PRANDLER: Well, I -- I do not -- I cannot stop here,
15 because I really feel that the very question which was raised by
16 Judge Trechsel a few minutes ago, that is that the sending and
17 dispatching Croatian soldiers of the HV to Bosnia and Herzegovina
18 quote here, "would not be exactly in conformity with the constitution."
19 And really, I feel that it is a bit difficult to accept what you,
20 General Beneta, said, that they, that is the volunteers, "... they were
21 not sent there. They were just enabled to go there, both individually
22 and as a unit."
23 I really feel that after so many documents what we have seen, it
24 is a bit far-fetched to say that they were just enabled to go there. And
25 I stop here, but I would like to -- just to mention that I have a kind of
1 problem with that approach.
2 Thank you.
3 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I apologise for
4 rising now, but given the words of Judge Prandler, I need to point out
5 the following: If I have studied the adjudicated facts properly, it is
6 not an adjudicated fact that the Republic of Croatia
7 Bosnia and Herzegovina.
8 Secondly, considering the documents shown in this courtroom, the
9 OTP has not proven that Croatian Army units were sent to
10 Bosnia-Herzegovina in an organised manner. That remains to be proved
11 yet, and we will prove that these -- they were really volunteers.
12 I believe that this is a matter that deserves to be explained,
13 but if what we heard a minute ago is the position of the Trial Chamber,
14 then we need not introduce any more witnesses, but if we still have a
15 chance as a Defence to prove our case, then I believe that the position
16 of Judge Prandler should be explained, or otherwise should we take it
17 that this matter has already been adjudicated?
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Ms. Alaburic, no decision has
19 been made, and you know this very well. Just -- you can see this with
20 the numerous questions put by the Judges.
21 And secondly, Judge Prandler very justly put a question to the
22 witness, so let him answer. You're taking the floor, but what's
23 important for us is the answer of the witness. Judge Prandler gave us
24 his position. This is what this adversarial debate is all about, but you
25 keep cutting the witness off. He was about to answer. Now, he might
1 agree with Judge Prandler, or he might disagree, and he'll tell us why.
2 MR. KARNAVAS: Good morning, Mr. President --
3 JUDGE PRANDLER: Mr. Praljak, don't shout here when the President
4 of the Court is speaking.
5 MR. KARNAVAS: Mr. President and Your Honours --
6 THE ACCUSED PRALJAK: [Interpretation] Your Honours, you can
7 sentence me, but I'm not going to sit here like a log. You have
8 anticipated the decision of this Trial Chamber. You said you don't
9 believe. Well, it's your right not to believe, but I will not keep quiet
10 about this because there is no evidence that units of the Croatian Army
11 was -- were ever sent there. You can throw me out, you can punish me and
12 throw me into gaol again. This will either be a trial or I will protest.
13 I respect the Trial Chamber, but the Trial Chamber must also respect the
14 people sitting here.
15 JUDGE PRANDLER: I do not want to, actually, to throw you out,
16 and I have never suggested this kind of approach, number one.
17 Number two, I have never spoken about adjudicated facts, and do I
18 not know why Ms. Alaburic has take -- has mentioned this, and I only said
19 that it is a bit difficult to believe that all those people were only
20 allowed to go there, I mean to Herzegovina
21 not prejudged. Again, I didn't mention anything about the adjudicated
22 facts. It was taken and it was mentioned only by Ms. Alaburic and not by
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] General Praljak.
25 General Praljak, just a minute. General Praljak, there might have been a
1 translation mistake, and then of course you lost your cool immediately.
2 It probably comes from a translation mistake. It's not the first time.
3 I note that every time we have incidents in the courtroom it comes from
4 slight interpretation mistakes.
5 Judge Prandler is mentioning the issue of the constitution and
6 the dispatch of troops, and he's waiting for an answer from
7 General Beneta. Then Ms. Alaburic suddenly stands up and is giving us a
8 lecture on law. You can look at the transcript. She's talking about
9 adjudicated facts. Judge Prandler never mentioned adjudicated facts.
10 And in the translation you probably followed what Ms. Alaburic was saying
11 and you gave us a statement, whereas Judge Prandler never mentioned all
12 of this. He was first dealing with the question of Judge Trechsel who
13 addressed -- which addressed a constitutional issue that had been raised
14 by General Beneta about the compensation paid to killed soldiers. So
15 General Beneta is the first person to talk about all this.
16 Judge Trechsel tried to go into details, and Judge Prandler seconded that
17 question. There was never any mention of adjudicated facts where the
18 Chamber -- the Chamber would have admitted or not. Ms. Alaburic
19 mentioned all this, and then you followed the -- you listened to her.
20 So before getting all het up, please try and understand the
21 situation and understand who's saying what. I told Ms. Alaburic that it
22 would have been best if she had kept silent and she'd let the witness
23 answer the constitutional issue raised by Judge Prandler before taking
24 the floor. I believe that the way of the events unfolded here, you
25 were -- were not understood correctly by you and then you got all nervous
1 and all uptight for nothing.
2 THE ACCUSED PRALJAK: [Interpretation] The interpretation that I
3 got was, "I am not convinced," says Judge Prandler, although this
4 document says they went to Ploce, the Republic of Croatia
5 further. And you have seen that 500 witnesses responded when I called
6 them. We did not send all the volunteers to Bosnia and Herzegovina
7 of the 500 I chose ten to send to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Let's stick to
8 facts. The document says up to Ploce, nothing further.
9 MR. LAWS
10 Prosecution says, is wholly unacceptable. It started with this general
11 trying to shout the Trial Chamber down, and it has continued with him now
12 testifying from the dock, and both of those practices must stop straight
13 away, in our submission --
14 THE ACCUSED PRALJAK: [No interpretation]
15 MR. LAWS
16 own. It just has to stop because we are attempting to address these
17 issues in a civilised way. What's happening here is the very opposite of
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [No interpretation]
20 MR. STEWART: Well, Your Honour, I hope to continue in a
21 civilised way.
22 THE ACCUSED PRALJAK: [No interpretation]
23 MR. STEWART: Excuse me.
24 THE ACCUSED PRALJAK: [No interpretation]
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Praljak. Mr. Praljak, let
1 Mr. Stewart speak.
2 THE ACCUSED PRALJAK: [Interpretation] I don't want anybody to
3 teach me civilised manners.
4 MR. STEWART: I'm making no such attempt, Mr. Praljak.
5 Your Honour, just to observe this, that so far as Your Honour
6 sees that there was a question in what Judge Prandler said, I must
7 confess it seems to be rather heavily disguised that it was a question,
8 and it would be understandable that the witness did not see that there
9 was a question there. So that if a learned Judge is posing a question, I
10 entirely see that a question may often be implicit in something that the
11 Judge says, it's probably helpful if it's made very clear to the witness
12 that there is a question and what the question is because then he can
13 answer it.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] In fact, it was a question that
15 Judge Prandler was putting. This was not acknowledgement of a
16 constitutional issue. It was a question he was putting.
17 General, since you have followed all that has been said, let's
18 get back to the question that Judge Prandler was putting to you. How do
19 you answer his question. That is what has led to this time-wasting
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I would really
22 appreciate it if the question could be repeated to me, because at first I
23 did not understand it myself.
24 JUDGE PRANDLER: The question was related to your explanation
25 when you said -- I cannot now find now the text, it is not an exact
1 quotation, that the volunteers were allowed to go to Herzegovina
2 question was in a way implied question, I admit, and I accept what
3 actually Mr. Stewart said on that issue, but my question was in a way
4 what kind of proofs you may give us that they were only allowed to go
5 when we have seen a number of orders that they were sent to that place, I
6 mean to Herzegovina
7 is if you can cite examples and orders and all other kind of acts,
8 official acts, which said that, "Yes, we allow those people, this or that
9 unit, or those persons who volunteered to go." It is my question. Thank
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I'm giving evidence
12 here from my own personal experience. If you or the Defence or anyone
13 had thought that I should bring documents with me, I should have been
14 told so. If you want me to bring documents, I just need some time.
15 Right now I only have a pencil with me, and I have the experience that I
16 carry from that war, and I have answers to questions as to how I dealt
17 with problems, in which frameworks I had to act, and I am being asked
18 here to interpreter documents, and I am stating my opinion about them.
19 In all of them I see volunteers. I see orders related to the
20 issue. I see references to cases where the state had to deal with issues
21 related to the death of soldiers only 500 metres into Herzegovinian
22 territory, and I had to deal with all these things. And the logic
23 underlying this is more justified than the logic of sending troops to
25 obligations, we had to find a modality for sending their people who
1 volunteered, who wanted to go there.
2 Because of the workload I had in Croatia, I had to limit the
3 number of those people, and I can only assume that Mr. Kapular, and I'm
4 coming back to his documents because your question sublimates everything
5 that has been said so far, all my prior experience and career, the
6 experience on which I based my command and the experience of Mr. Kapular,
7 are two parallel lines that never meet. Mr. Kapular, I think, came from
9 he served honourably, he was given command of a brigade. I believe that
10 for him, it was quite normal to act in a soldierly fashion and say to the
11 men, "People, the situation there is very hard. Anyone who wants to go
12 will have my assistance." Back in Canada his neighbour fought in Iraq
13 in Kuwait
14 have been normal. That's why I am saying what I said about the reasons
15 for punishing those people where he said that it was a question of
16 professional conduct. I don't know what other things he enumerated, but
17 the US
18 brought his own life experience to that war. I believe our opinions
19 differed even on that issue.
20 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Okay, Mr. Laws.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] General Beneta, I shall follow
22 up on the two questions put by my colleagues. There was no reason for an
23 incident to occur. When a Judge from the Bench has a question, it's
24 important. Judge Mindua might have also put the question to you.
25 What we would like to know is this: Whether the constitution of
1 the Republic of Croatia
2 state. The answer is a yes or no answer. And whether -- or in the case
3 the constitution did not allow for that, did the constitution allow for
4 Croatian soldiers to volunteer outside the Croatian state, which seems to
5 be your case. This is what you told us.
6 These are very simple questions which should not lead to a
7 revolution. Could you answer my question, please.
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I cannot tell you now
9 exactly whether the constitution made it possible or not, and if it did,
10 which article especially, because some articles were amended, but I know
11 that there was no grounds in the constitution for paying out benefits to
12 a family who's father was killed outside the territory of the state, and
13 I know I had very difficult problems at that stage.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I thank you for your answer.
15 Mr. Laws.
16 MR. LAWS
17 Q. Before we look at the next document, General, can I just take you
18 back to the time when you were deployed in 1993 on Operation Jug. You've
19 told us that you were there for about a week prior to the operation and
20 for some little while after it. Before the operation, did you meet
21 Milivoj Petkovic?
22 A. No.
23 Q. All right. Well, we're going to come back to that.
24 Would you look, please, just finishing this topic, at 4D00701,
25 which is the last document in the binder. Very last one.
1 This is a document dated July the 24th, and it bears the
2 signature of Mr. Petkovic, and it's addressed to General Briquemont of
3 UNPROFOR, and we're not going to have time to look at the whole document,
4 but it's really on one topic. It's denying that there are HV troops in
6 right? And it's going to complete this topic of volunteers on the
7 southern front.
8 July 24th is nine days after Operation South; is that right?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Remind us which units of the Croatian Army had been deployed in
11 Operation South.
12 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Objection, Your Honour, to the use
13 of the word "remind," because the witness has never said that the
14 operation involved units of the Croatian Army.
15 MR. LAWS
16 Q. Did Operation South involve units of the Croatian Army?
17 MR. LAWS
18 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] May I just tell my learned friend
19 Mr. Laws the witness did not understand that the question is addressed to
20 him. We, coming from our parts, are quite used to people looking us in
21 the face.
22 MR. LAWS
23 Q. Did you --
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Prosecutor, you may put
25 your question again.
1 MR. LAWS
2 Q. Did Operation South involve units of the Croatian Army?
3 A. Operation South involved the 1st Brigade of the HVO, the 3rd
4 Brigade of the HVO, independent detachment Ludvig Pavlovic, and a group
5 of the 5th Guards Brigade, a group of volunteers.
6 Q. It was a very simple question. You've listed the HVO people and
7 finally said that there were some from the 5th Guards Brigade. They were
8 troops of the Republic of Croatia
9 the south in more detail later on, but just for the moment do you not
10 agree with me that the -- even if you were to call them a group of
11 volunteers, they were, as you were, troops from the Republic of Croatia
12 It's a simple yes to that, isn't it?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Thank you very much. Nine days later Mr. Petkovic is writing a
15 letter to General Briquemont in which he is denying in strong terms that
16 troops from the Republic of Croatia
17 Bosnia-Herzegovina and saying that some have returned to the -- to the
18 native homes and joined HVO units. That's halfway down page 2.
19 Finishing this topic of Croatian involvement in Bosnia and
21 A. Excuse me, but I did not say anything. I need time to read that
23 Q. By all means. It's quite a long letter. It's responding to
24 something that's been said by UNPROFOR, saying that there are Croatian
25 troops in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and General Petkovic is saying that that's
1 not right. You take your time to look at it. He's saying that there
2 aren't HV troops there, but there are some who have joined the HVO --
3 joined HVO units, I should say.
4 A. Your Honours, everything that is written in this passage on page
5 2 is described accurately, and I have no objection to that. I think it
6 actually corroborates all the evidence I've given here.
7 Q. Well, except for the evidence that you gave a moment ago that the
8 5th Guards Brigade was deployed in Operation South and that you,
9 yourself, were on the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina as an HV soldier.
10 That --
11 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, objection.
12 Objection to this question. The question misrepresents the fact. The
13 witness never said that the 5th Guards Brigade was involved in the
14 operation. The witness said that volunteers from that brigade were
16 MR. LAWS
17 Q. Well, you remained a member of the Croatian Army, didn't you?
18 You told us that yesterday. It was one of the very first questions I
19 asked you. You remained, throughout, a member of the Croatian Army, did
20 you not?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. And the members of the 5th Brigade, I don't accept for a moment
23 that they were volunteers, but the members of the 5th Brigade remained
24 members of the Croatian Army throughout, did they not?
25 A. After that operation a part of that group remained and another
1 part returned to the Croatian Army. I also returned to the
2 Croatian Army.
3 Q. When they were sent to fight in Operation South, they were
4 Croatian soldiers. That is simply the position, isn't it? Employed
5 by -- well, look. We're going to need to get to the bottom of this.
6 Ms. Alaburic can have the floor in just a moment, but really it's taking
7 a great deal of time. It's a simple question.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Ms. Alaburic, I don't
9 understand what you're doing. You intervene when the probative value of
10 your witness will be assessed by the Judges in line with the question,
11 the answers, and everyone's understanding of it. So wait for the witness
12 to answer.
13 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] No, Your Honours. I have an
14 objection to this question. Mr. Laws is systematically asking questions
15 that contain inaccurate facts. You will assess whether my objection is
16 valid or not.
17 In line 9 of this page, the current page, Mr. Laws says that
18 members of the 5th Guards Brigade were sent to fight in Operation South.
19 The witness did not say that. He said that these persons were
20 volunteers, not people who were sent.
21 MR. LAWS
22 Q. The people who were in Bosnia
23 there as volunteers or whether they got there because they were sent, the
24 members of the 5th Guards Brigade, during Operation Jug remained
25 employees of the Republic of Croatia
1 soldiers, didn't they?
2 A. Yes, but that status of theirs was frozen.
3 Q. They were -- we are going to look at Jug in more detail later on
4 today, but you agree with me, don't you, that they were -- the only way
5 you can describe them is as soldiers from the HV?
6 A. Yes, and during their service there they had some aspects of that
7 status, which was frozen at the time.
8 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Mr. Beneta, could you explain what you mean by
9 "frozen"? Does it mean, for instance, that the time served in Bosnia
11 instance, for purposes of promotion or similar matters?
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] They did not enjoy some of the
13 elements of their salary. We had several elements in the salary. One of
14 them was field mission allowance payable for service in the field. If it
15 was a short service, it did not affect the whole status. If it was a
16 longer service, then we had cases where the man remained in the rank, the
17 Croatian Army rank, of major, whereas he had served for a long time in
18 Bosnia-Herzegovina and there was given the rank of brigadier. I think we
19 have some people who are generals in Bosnia and Herzegovina, whereas in
20 the Croatian Army they have the rank of major still, or lieutenant. So
21 we have cases where people served for a longer spell in Bosnia and
23 I think I can name one such person, Mr. Obradovic, and another
24 person who remain in the area after the Operation South. He was serving
25 in the logistics. He served there for a longer time. He received the
1 rank of general there, but this rank is not recognised to him in the
2 Croatian Army.
3 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
4 Mr. Laws.
5 MR. LAWS
6 Q. Well, we're going to finish this topic now, and I'm going to
7 suggest to you that this letter from Mr. Petkovic is doing no more than
8 toeing the party line, putting forward the explanation that's going to be
9 put forward for years to come and which you're still putting forward now,
10 volunteers, not Croatian deployment, and it's not the truth, is it?
11 A. What you are saying in my view does not reflect the situation on
12 the ground. It's nothing that I can confirm. On the contrary, I reject
13 that assertion.
14 Q. Thank you. Let's turn to consider, briefly if we may, Stolac in
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I think it would be better to
17 address this after the break since it is nearly 10.30. We shall have a
18 20-minute break.
19 --- Recess taken at 10.28 a.m.
20 --- On resuming at 10.52 a.m.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Laws, you have the floor.
22 MR. LAWS
23 Q. We're going to look briefly at the situation in Stolac in 1992
24 and then into 1993.
25 When the Serbs first occupied Stolac in 1992, do you know if it
1 is right or wrong that most of the Croat population had left Stolac
2 shortly before the Serb arrival?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. That was -- that was your understanding.
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. And that the majority of the Muslim population had been left
7 behind in the town.
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Thank you. You told us a little bit about the liberation of the
10 town from the Serbs. Are you saying that you fought your way into Stolac
11 town and evicted the Serbs from their positions? Is that what happened
12 in June of 1992?
13 A. Yes. We evicted them from the positions that they had held
14 around Stolac and thus enabled Croats to return to Stolac.
15 Q. Yes. Well, that may be where the difference arises. There was
16 certainly skirmishing in positions around Stolac, were there not, on the
17 high ground?
18 A. I don't understand what you mean by "skirmishing."
19 Q. I mean, there was some engagement between the Serbian forces and
20 your combined forces in the hills around Stolac. That's what I mean by
22 A. What time -- to what time is the question referring?
23 Q. It's referring to the time immediately before the Serbs withdrew
24 from Stolac town. Is that right or wrong?
25 A. About ten days prior to that there was intensive combat activity
1 in the area of the Dubrava plateau, which in that action was liberated by
2 a group of soldiers, HVO soldiers, and HV soldiers.
3 Q. All right. Let's just deal with Stolac town itself. Is it right
4 that the Serbs left Stolac in an orderly convoy of over 70 vehicles?
5 A. I don't know how many vehicles there were. I can only state that
6 they were able to leave Stolac because we had attacked two sides out of
7 the three that they had been keeping. One side was protected by the
8 Bregava canyon, and they could leave by that way relatively safely,
9 although there was fighting only a kilometre away from that road, but
10 they couldn't be observed from anywhere, so I don't know now who left on
11 that road, with what kind of vehicles or how many. I can only confirm
12 that --
13 Q. They left Stolac not as a result of combat operations in the town
14 of Stolac. On that we're agreed, are we not?
15 A. From a military aspect it was impossible to fight in Stolac, and
16 there shouldn't have been fighting there because Stolac is in a
17 depression, and whoever holds the hills around it holds Stolac. You can
18 practically choose your target if you have a rifle, and you would be only
19 500 metres away from it, from the positions that they had kept around
21 Q. Did they, the Serbs, withdraw to the hills around Stolac, to a
22 new front line?
23 A. Yes. They set up a new front line near the town or village of
24 Do. They kept their positions on Mount Hrgud which is 900 metres above
25 Stolac, and they kept their position at Zegulja and further south.
1 Q. Thank you. And without being precise to the hundred metres, but
2 roughly the Serbs remained in those positions from that withdrawal, and
3 they remain there to this day. Is that also right?
4 A. That is right. We didn't even -- we hadn't even planned to
5 attack any further from Stolac.
6 Q. Well, no, that's right. There was no operation mounted to drive
7 them further back. They were still in the territory of the Republic of
9 A. Yes, they were.
10 Q. But your aim was to recover the town of Stolac; is that right?
11 A. Yes, and there were good reasons for that.
12 Q. Strategic reasons, no doubt.
13 A. No. Strategic reasons are at a far higher level. I'm talking
14 about reasons at the operational and tactical levels.
15 Q. Very well. Thank you. It was a predominantly Muslim town prior
16 to the war in 1992, 1993, was it not?
17 A. The majority of the population in the municipality of Stolac
18 to the war was Croatian. In the town itself, I believe that the Muslims
19 slightly outnumbered the Croats.
20 Q. Well, I think the evidence in this case is that the municipality
21 as a whole had 35 per cent Croats and 48 per cent Muslims, but there we
23 Stolac was also a part of the Banovina, wasn't it?
24 A. Which Banovina?
25 Q. Well, have a look, please, at document P05237, and we'll get the
1 answer. This is a -- in the middle of your bundle there. This is a
2 presidential transcript, 21st of September of 1993. We're going to look
3 at it in a different context a little bit later on, but it's the
4 president of Croatia
5 Herceg-Bosna. And if you'd look at page 7, please.
6 MR. LAWS
7 Q. You can see a paragraph eight lines down that begins with the
8 word "Stolac," "Stolac," full stop. Can you see that?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. As we can see from the text, President Tudjman speaking of
12 "I know the strategic importance of Stolac, both as the president
13 of Croatia
14 entire former Jablanicki Kotor and Konjic were included in the Croatian
15 Banovina in 1939. These are arguments I have upheld since the first
17 And then he goes on to talk about ethnic cleansing because it's
18 much later in time when he's speaking about this.
19 You, as you have said, never pushed on further from Stolac.
20 A. Correct. I never tried to go further from Stolac.
21 Q. The Serbs remained on their line and didn't launch an offensive
22 to recapture the town.
23 A. That is not correct. After I had given these positions to the
24 HVO and gone south, the Serbs launched a strong counter-attack but it was
25 unsuccessful. However, there were many casualties.
1 Q. Is it right that when you had taken control of the town from the
2 Serbs in 1992, one of the first thing that happened was Croatian symbols
3 and flags were put all over the town. Do you remember that happening in
4 the time immediately after the Croatian entry into Stolac -- I'm so
5 sorry, I should have said your entry, not the Croatian entry. You were a
6 combined force. Immediately after the liberation of Stolac, do you
7 recall Croatian symbols and flags being put up all over the town?
8 A. No. I cannot confirm that. I cannot confirm that anything
9 dramatic of that kind was done or that it was ordered. I don't remember
10 any such display.
11 Q. There's no suggestion that it was ordered. It's Witness DT, a 92
12 bis witness, who says that the first morning of your arrival in Stolac
13 Croat flags and symbols were put all over the town. You don't recall
15 A. No, I don't recall.
16 Q. Very well. Let's look together then, please, at a document that
17 you were shown, I think on Monday, possibly yesterday in the morning.
18 It's P00279. It's the third document in -- in my binder as well. Stay
19 in my binder. Third document from the front.
20 Now, this is a document which is dated the 26th of June of 1992,
21 and that is after the liberation of Stolac from the Serbs of which we
22 have just been speaking, is it not?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. And we can see in the third paragraph that Stolac is one of the
25 areas which is listed as being under almost the entire territory of the
1 Croatian municipalities being under the control of the Croats.
2 "Today we have under control almost all the entire territory of
3 the Croatian municipalities of Neum, Ravno, Stolac, Capljina, Ljubuski,
4 Citluk, Siroki Brijeg, and Mostar."
5 You told us that you attended an occasion when General Petkovic
6 made a speech, a rousing speech about problems and about their solutions.
7 Do you recall saying that?
8 A. Yes, I do.
9 Q. Are you saying that this is the same text as the speech that you
10 heard or a different text?
11 A. I cannot give a precise answer to that question. I know that
12 General Petkovic gave a speech and that he spoke about the problems with
13 the organisation of civilian life and the establishing of civilian life
14 in the liberated territories and that those were the same problems that I
15 had in the area of Stolac.
16 Q. Very well. Now, we looked at one or two of the examples of the
17 use of the term "Croatian" in this document, but I want to look at four
18 in all. The first we've already seen in the third paragraph down.
19 "Today we have under control almost the entire territory of the
20 Croatian municipalities," and then listing them in the way that we have
21 looked at.
22 Five lines down:
23 "The four main tasks in front us are:
24 "1. To put under control the remaining area of Croatian
1 And then 4:
2 "To establish Croatian rule over all municipalities."
3 I'll come back to that one in just a moment.
4 Five paragraphs down:
5 "Our intentions are," and then at the second bullet point: "To
6 prepare ourselves and through offensive activities liberate the remaining
7 Croatian territory."
8 You said in answer to a question from one of the Judges that you
9 didn't think that when Mr. Petkovic used the term "Croatian" he meant
10 Croatian as opposed to Croatian and Muslim. Is that how you understand
11 this document?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. How do you know what he meant, General? How do you know what he
14 meant when he wrote those words?
15 A. I know from practice, because after that, on the ground -- or,
16 rather, in the areas which Mr. Petkovic also mentions in this document,
17 in other words, after what is said here, I established authorities in the
18 town of Stolac on a parity level. If the Serbs had stayed, then their
19 representatives would also have been -- would also have been included in
20 a certain percentage, but they weren't there.
21 Q. You're absolutely right to say that you established a joint
22 structure in Stolac after its liberation in June of 1992. We're going to
23 deal with that separately, just taking it very, very briefly. Sadly,
24 you'd agree with me that didn't last more than a matter of some weeks,
25 did it? After you left, that fell apart very quickly, didn't it? We'll
1 look at that.
2 A. I cannot testify to the reasons of this dissolution, because
3 after my departure I went elsewhere to deal with other problems. But
4 what I can say here is that I did everything I did with the approval of
5 everybody involved in that process and that nobody has ever said anything
6 bad to me because of that, and neither was I ever condemned because of
7 that. On the contrary, I spoke about that briefly with Mr. Petkovic. I
8 asked him what I should do, and he gave me such suggestions, suggestions
9 as to what I should do, because he knew the situation in that area better
10 than I did.
11 Q. Now, I didn't ask you about the reasons why it fell apart. The
12 fact of the matter is that it did, and we'll look at that in just a
13 moment, I promise you, but the fact of the matter is that what you had
14 done by way of setting up joint institutions simply didn't survive, did
15 it? You know that as a simple fact, don't you?
16 A. Yes, I know that they didn't survive, but I don't know the
18 Q. Well, we'll look at that, as I say. But that doesn't help us,
19 does it, with this document? This is addressed to a general, gentleman
20 of the municipal leadership, and the commanders of the Croatian Defence
21 Council units. All right? And it goes on to talk about Croatian
22 municipalities, and under 4 it specifically says that one of the aims
23 is -- one of the tasks is to establish Croatian rule over all
25 The municipalities that are being discussed here are territories
1 within Bosnia-Herzegovina, aren't they?
2 A. Yes. But territories over which the authorities of
3 Alija Izetbegovic couldn't exert any real influence physically.
4 Q. Territories which were claimed as part of Herceg-Bosna. That's
5 what it comes down to, isn't it?
6 A. To me that was a territory from which the area of the Croatian
7 state was being attacked, and I was tasked with eliminating that threat.
8 Q. Well, that's not the topic that we're dealing with here with
9 respect to you, General. We're dealing with establishing Croatian rule
10 over all municipalities, and you gave evidence that in your view that
11 meant something different. We're looking at that.
12 These are territories claimed as Herceg-Bosna, and it's only in
13 that sense that they are Croatian territories at all, isn't it? The
14 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna.
15 A. I can testify here about requests for me as a commander to be
16 relieved from what today is called Simik [phoen], that is civilian
17 military co-operation, in that area. But these tasks could have been
18 executed only by, I believe, what was called then the Croatian Community
19 of Herceg-Bosna.
20 Q. Going back to your --
21 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] If we could delete the Kosovo
22 Albanians from line 18. The witness said that he supposed that the name
23 was the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna, Kosovo Albanians were never
25 MR. LAWS
1 Q. Let's go back to Stolac and your attempts to establish joint
2 institutions between the Croats and the Muslims. You told the Chamber
3 that there was a range of reactions from local Croats in respect of the
4 Muslims being allowed to join in the Crisis Staff. Most were in favour
5 and some were less favourable and some were strongly opposed to that.
6 Does that summarise your experience in Stolac post-June 1992 accurately?
7 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, could my learned
8 friend oblige me by referring to the exact page of the transcript.
9 MR. LAWS
10 it with me, but the witness will remember very well what he said about
12 Q. You remember, General, don't you, telling us that some -- most
13 were in favour of joint institutions, but some were strongly opposed to
14 Muslims being in the Crisis Staff? And you told us, do you remember,
15 that you sent two of them away because you weren't happy with their
17 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, now I really have an
18 objection, because the witness didn't say that. The witness didn't speak
19 about that. I object to this, and I insist that a page reference be
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Ms. Alaburic, the witness knows
22 exactly what he said. General Beneta can tell the Prosecutor, "You are
23 wrong. I never said this." It's more important to have General Beneta
24 say this than you. Unless we think that General Beneta is totally unable
25 to understand the questions put to him.
1 MR. LAWS
2 let's let the General answer for himself. It's a really small detail of
3 the evidence which he'll remember well, I suggest, and we don't need to
4 take up more time with it. I would be very grateful if I could just
6 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I have no problem
7 with that, and I don't doubt that General Beneta would be able to
8 reproduce accurately what he said, but since I in my redirect have to
9 give a page reference to the cross-examination, I think it would be fair
10 for my learned friend to give -- state page references in his
12 MR. LAWS
13 tools, and if it's really re-examination that's the issue here, it's
14 46603, line 25, and that I hope assists my learned friend.
15 MR. KARNAVAS: I would appreciate for the gentleman to stop
16 playing games. He knows the technique. This is what he has to do. It's
17 not a matter of us searching for it. He has to do it. He knows it.
18 He's been trained to do it, and we should just move on. And I think that
19 the bench should instruct him to do that in the future as we have been
20 instructed in the past.
21 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Mr. Karnavas, you are again insinuating improper
22 intentions like playing games. Please.
23 MR. KARNAVAS: No, I'm not insinuating anything.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Please refrain from that kind
25 of personal attacks. It's not a matter of playing games. I don't think
1 anyone here is playing games. It's a serious matter. Thank you for
2 taking note.
3 MR. STEWART: Excuse me.
4 MR. KARNAVAS: Let me finish. Let me respond to --
5 MR. STEWART: Sorry I thought you had --
6 MR. KARNAVAS: I can't get a mike. If I can get a mike --
7 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
8 MR. KARNAVAS: I'm not sitting down until -- okay. Here it is.
9 Well, first of all it is common courtesy. Second of all we need
10 to make the record. Third, it is a game when counsel knows that he has
11 to do it, he as at it his fingertips, and then after there's an objection
12 and we waste five minutes, then he cavalierly says, "Well, if we must
13 here it is." He could have done that in the first instance, and I can
14 assure you, Judge Trechsel, being in the courtroom as a trial lawyer this
15 is what normally has to be done by trial lawyers. They just can't say
16 some way in the record some place and then go look for it. That must be
17 done. This is the training that we all get in the adversarial system,
18 and we are in an adversarial system, and I will continue to insist that
19 on these occasions it's a mere of common courtesy so that we can all look
20 it up because sometimes mistakes are made.
21 MR. STEWART: I'm sorry, excuse me, Your Honour. I was only
22 going to ask - I wonder if Mr. Laws would help - I don't have and others
23 may not have the version with the full numbering. If I could either have
24 the -- the smaller page number or some sort of fairly uniquely phrase
25 will enable me to find it.
1 MR. LAWS
2 games in the slightest, and I didn't have the reference to hand, and I've
3 already apologised for that once. But this is with respect to those who
4 are raising the objections, really a highly technical matter. The
5 general is not misled. He knows the evidence I'm referring to.
6 Let's proceed. If I can ask him whether he can remember it, I'll
7 find the -- Ms. Winner sitting to my right will find the reference, I
8 have no doubt, within the next minute or two, long before redirect takes
9 place, and I hope that we can proceed in that way.
10 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I wish to say that
11 the page and line reference given by my learned friend 46603, line 25,
12 are about the return of refugees.
13 MR. LAWS
14 the next few minutes, I have no doubt at all we'll be able to help with
15 the redirect which must be possibly some hours away now.
16 Q. General, Beneta, is it right or is it wrong that when you formed
17 joint institutions some people locally were opposed to the inclusion of
18 Muslims? Is that right or wrong? Don't worry about what you said
19 yesterday or the day before. Is that fact right or wrong?
20 A. It is right.
21 Q. Thank you. And I hope that that's a sufficient basis for me to
22 proceed now. What I'm going to suggest to you is this: Those who were
23 opposed to it were the people who very soon after you left took control.
24 They were the ones who didn't want to share authority with the Muslims.
25 What do you say about that?
1 A. I think you misunderstood me. I said that I had spoken to the
2 soldiers who entered Stolac or taken it militarily, if that is more
3 acceptable to you. In that process that conversation was overheard by
4 400 mostly young people of Muslim ethnicity who felt attracted to the
5 idea of establishing two battalions instead of one to defend Stolac
7 Why did I speak to the people? Because I thought that the moment
8 was very sensitive. One group was attacking and had jeopardised their
9 lives to reclaim the town or the area where they were living, and others
10 were in places held by these forces of Republika Srpska. There were
11 indications that there might be some kind of vengeance under the
12 assumption that the Muslims had co-operated with the Serbs. That is why
13 devoted -- I devoted special attention to that.
14 Those who opposed that were two soldiers. I don't think that
15 they were significant personalities either by their education or
16 otherwise. They didn't enjoy any special authority. They were mere
17 soldiers, privates who didn't understand the situation well. They had
18 some personal reasons to be opposed. And even though I tried to persuade
19 them, they stuck to their positions. Others accepted my arguments. Most
20 of them, if they had been asked, without my having given my introductory
21 speech and presented my arguments, would probably have been opposed,
22 because that was the atmosphere at the time. But they accepted what I
23 had told them, and they understood that most probably a counter-attack
24 would be launched. They accepted that help, and then we started
25 organising them militarily, and I also took up measures to organise
1 civilian administration for life to return to normal.
2 Q. Right. Well, let's look at life in Stolac. In October of 1992
3 Andjelko Markovic became the president of the HVO, and if you look at
4 P01234, we'll see him issuing a decision in January. P01234.
5 Can you see that?
6 A. No. I need a bit of time.
7 Q. It's the -- possibly the fourth document in. One, two, three,
8 four. It's with a yellow sticker, I'm told. Just probably back from
9 where you are now. That looks like it.
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. 20th of January. It's the Croatian Defence Council who are, in
12 the person of Andjelko Markovic, President of the Croatian Defence
13 Council, issuing a decision on a curfew. All right?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. So it would seem the HVO exercising authority in the
16 municipality. Do you agree?
17 A. Your Honours, may I -- I really have no knowledge about this
18 document. I cannot testify to this period to which I'm directed. I
19 would really appreciate it if I could not be asked about documents I know
20 nothing about and events I did not participate in, and I have nothing to
21 say about them.
22 Q. I just want to follow through with Mr. Markovic, if I may. Would
23 you turn, please, in the binder to P05237. We looked at it a little
24 while ago in the context of Stolac being in the Banovina. This is
25 Mr. Markovic attending that very same meeting. And if you look with me,
1 please, at page 4. We can see a paragraph in which he is speaking and he
3 "Second, Stolac was twice defended as you once said, once from
4 the Muslims and from the Chetniks."
5 And then this:
6 "Today there is not a single Muslim in Stolac."
7 That's as of the 21st of September of 1993.
8 "We have populated Stolac with our refugees from Bosnia
9 Can you see that, General?
10 A. Your Honours, I really beg you not to place me in a situation
11 where I would have to confirm something I know absolutely nothing about.
12 I was not in the area at the time. I cannot testify about anything. I
13 don't see any reason to ask me about things I have no clue about.
14 Q. Well, if I could help you to this extent: One of the reasons
15 you've been asked to give evidence on behalf of the Defence is to talk
16 about attempts to set up joint institutions, and I'm exploring with you -
17 and that's the end of, I think, the exercise - what happened, because
18 otherwise we have the story just hanging in the air. "I did my best to
19 set up joint institutions." They fell apart and the hardliners took
20 control. That's the truth of it, isn't it? You must have heard about
21 that. You were back in Bosnia
22 You must have known what was going on.
23 A. I am really testifying to events that I was present to, events
24 that I initiated, I have already said all I have to say about them and
25 I'm prepared to continue to testify. Now, concerning events I was not
1 involved in, that I knew nothing about then and still know nothing, I
2 think I'm the wrong person to state any opinion whatsoever.
3 Q. Very well.
4 MR. LAWS
5 may I give everybody in the courtroom the reference that was requested,
6 that -- the passage starts at page 466 -- sorry, 46599 at line 19, and it
7 continues through 46600 to line 7. And in the draft I'm told it's page
9 Thank you. Very well.
10 Q. I said we've finished it. We very nearly have. I want to look
11 with you, please, at what was happening in the following April after you
12 left Stolac. P01913. And it's a gentleman who you, I think, know,
13 Nedeljko Obradovic. 01913.
14 Was this the Mr. Obradovic that you were referring to earlier,
15 Colonel Obradovic of the Knez Domagoj?
16 A. Your Honours, this is again a document about which I can state
17 nothing. I was not in that area of responsibility at the time, and I was
18 in no way involved in the developments in that area. I even knew nothing
19 about the developments in that area. I had too much to do in my area,
20 which was the hinterland of Slano.
21 Q. Could you just answer my question just -- just briefly. Was the
22 Obradovic that we see there the one that you knew? There are several.
23 Was this the one that you knew, the commander of the 1st Knez Domagoj?
24 A. There are a few men with the same name and surname, and that's
25 why I have to ask you to relieve me from answering this question about
1 events in which I was not involved in.
2 Q. My question conceded that there are several people called
3 Obradovic. I'm asking you whether you knew this one who was the
4 commander of the 1st HVO Knez Domagoj Brigade, and being fair about it,
5 General, you can answer that question yes or no, can't you?
6 A. Yes. I know that Nedeljko Obradovic was the commander of the
7 1st Brigade of the HVO.
8 Q. Did you know him? Did you know this man who has put his name to
9 this document? Was he a man that you knew? Yes or no?
10 A. I can't recognise the signature, and I don't know the man well
11 enough to identify his signature. I have to repeat, I know a man called
12 Nedeljko Obradovic who was commander of the 1st HVO Brigade.
13 Q. General, please. You're saying you know a man called Nedeljko
14 Obradovic who was the commander of the 1st HVO Knez Domagoj Brigade, but
15 you're not prepared to say it's the same person. I've asked you a number
16 of times. You know this man, don't you?
17 A. Yes, I know the commander of the 1st HVO Brigade who was -- who
18 was the commander of the command of the 1st HVO Brigade and his name was
19 Nedeljko Obradovic.
20 Q. Thank you. And by April 1993, according to this order, the time
21 of joint institutions has long passed, has it not?
22 A. I don't know that either. At that time I was somewhere else.
23 And please don't involve me into something that I cannot testify to.
24 Q. Very well. Well, we can see that it restricts the entry of BH --
25 BiH Army members into the area of responsibility unless there's written
1 clearance from the commander. Those who do are to be arrested and held
2 for 15 days and to be disarmed. When you came back to Bosnia
3 was the Knez Domagoj Brigade a unit with which you had any contact?
4 A. It was a brigade commanded by Nedeljko Obradovic at the time that
5 was to be involved in, in fact, one of the two main vehicles of the
6 operation. However, that commander sent a written report that he did not
7 have the required forces for the mission. Did he not come to the
8 command, and I suppose it was also a matter of personal differences.
9 Q. Very well. Thank you. Well, let's move on to 1993, the time
10 when you came to Bosnia
11 coming to fight the Serbs and only found out later that you were coming
12 to engage Muslim forces. Yes?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Would you look with me, please, at Exhibit P03112. This is a
15 document dated the 2nd of July of 1993. It's another presidential
16 transcript. We can see that those present include Mr. Susak and
17 General Bobetko. And we're going to pick it up at page 54. There's a
18 discussion at the top of that page about sanctions, and then five lines
19 down the conclusion that Tudjman has reached that "I think this threat is
20 even smaller today but we must be careful not to give them any direct
21 cause to serve as an excuse for their policy."
22 And then this:
23 "Clearly we must not do this. But at the same time we must take
24 steps to protect Croatian interests in the territorial sense too. And,
25 you two please, Minister Susak, General Bobetko, see about this and meet
1 with Herceg-Bosna leaders there, with General Praljak, Petkovic and
2 Ambassador Sancevic and their leaders there, with Boban and Prlic to
3 discuss exactly what should be done. But it goes without saying, do not
4 lead the operation in such a way as to make it a direct involvement. And
5 what I said earlier is very important in terms of, I don't know, of
6 trade, of payments, I don't know what, do not let the people there feel
7 left on their own but let's take care in this respect."
8 If you turn on two pages, please, you'll see that later on in the
9 conversation that day, it's our page 67, President Tudjman has something
10 to say about the southern Neretva front.
11 "Still on the southern Neretva front, it's important for us to
12 push back Muslim units, and if we do this, it will be a sign for the
13 Serbs not to move."
14 Can you see that?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. This is the 2nd of July, which is just short of two weeks away
17 from Operation South in which you were involved, is it not?
18 A. This is a -- this is 13 days before the operation.
19 Q. That's right.
20 A. And I wasn't there. I wasn't there at that meeting, but I wasn't
21 even in the area of the operation.
22 Q. Well, you were involved in the operation that took place two
23 weeks later, weren't you?
24 A. Yes, two weeks later.
25 Q. Thank you. And did you understand that General Bobetko was the
1 person in overall control of that operation, Operation Jug or South?
2 A. There was nothing during the time I was there that gave me basis
3 to conclude something like that.
4 Q. All right. But we'll look at a document in just a moment in
5 respect of that.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] General, very briefly. On page
7 67, I read what President Tudjman said. He mentions the southern front,
8 but I have the feeling that he is breaking down this operation in two
9 parts, A, the Muslim parts, and then he adds that this could be a sign
10 for the Serbs not to move, or a signal for the Serbs not to move.
11 In military terms, the operation against the Muslims, well, does
12 it have an impact on the Serbs as well by demonstrating their strengths
13 against the Muslims this would prevent the Serbs from moving. What do
14 you think about this? I'm just talking in military terms, of course.
15 A. Your Honours, the fear from the south part of Croatia being cut
16 off was extremely strong among the Croatian leadership at the time. The
17 easiest way -- because the greatest majority of roads and in the Neretva
18 River valley. In addition to that, the Ploce port was the only one with
19 sufficient capacity to support the entire hinterland. For that reason,
20 but also based on intelligence reports and because of that previously
21 mentioned S-2 plan, this thinking was justified for the State of Croatia,
22 in my only personal estimate, the enemy were the Serbs associated with
23 the Yugoslav People's Army, both from Serbia and Republika Srpska,
24 because it was they who, from the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina, were
25 threatening the Croatian territory, which is militarily practically
1 undefendable south of the Neretva River
2 across the border at least up to Popovo Polje. That's why there was a
3 little -- a lot of military concern about this invasion.
4 As the Muslim forces grew in strength, they also obviously wanted
5 to reach lines in the Neretva River
6 that I heard when I was in command reconnaissance indicated that. It was
7 a surprise to me.
8 I also heard of events north of Mostar that caused me a lot of
9 concern. I believe that the name is Bijelo Polje. And they pointed out
10 that the situation was very grave indeed. Croatian forces in Bosnia
12 and estimate based on the same premises concluded that this was a
13 possibility. And I participated in that operation defending approaches
14 to the Neretva River
15 once. And believe me when I say that I was not at all looking forward to
16 doing it again.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Laws.
18 MR. LAWS
19 Q. We saw that it was General Bobetko who was present at that
20 meeting with President Tudjman when there was discussion about doing
21 something to protect Croatian interests, and I'm going to take you now to
22 an interview which was held between the Office of the Prosecutor and
23 Brigadier Dzanko in July of 2003.
24 Now, Luka Dzanko was the gentleman to whom you reported. He's
25 the man who asked you whether you wanted to come to Bosnia; is that
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Will you turn, please, in the binder to the last-but-one
4 document, P11070. Right at the back, two documents in.
5 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] I apologise to my learned friend.
6 I just want my objection on the record. This is a new document not on
7 the 65 ter list, and I would appreciate it if my learned friend Mr. Laws,
8 in keeping with the decision of the Trial Chamber from last year, would
9 explain the reason for introducing this document, and also I hope the
10 Trial Chamber will rule on admissibility.
11 MR. LAWS
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] One moment. Let me recall that
13 the Trial Chamber has handed down guidelines and stated clearly that when
14 a document is not on the 65 ter list, the party using this document uses
15 it only to test the credibility of the witness. This has been stated
16 many a time. Every time this document comes up we are told the same
17 thing. What's the point ever issuing guidelines in that case?
18 Please proceed, Mr. Laws.
19 MR. LAWS
20 being litigated by way of IC lists which the Prosecution hope will bring
21 some clarity to that issue, but for the moment if I can continue with
23 Q. The meeting in the presidential palace was the 2nd or 3rd of
24 July, and I want to pick the story up now with General Bobetko calling
25 Brigadier Dzanko on the 5th of July. We're dealing with Operation Jug
1 and with its origins, and then we're going to look at happened in it, all
3 P11070. If you look with me --
4 MR. STEWART: Excuse me, Your Honour. When Mr. Laws says it's a
5 matter of currently being litigated, what is he saying? Is he saying
6 he's not going to comply with the guidelines or that he is complying with
7 the guidelines and then he's going to say how he's complying with the
8 guidelines? I'm just not clear. He brushed it aside very deftly, but it
9 was a bit of a brushing aside.
10 MR. LAWS
11 the floor and continue with this by the President who said that every
12 time this issue arises time is taken up with this, and I was invited to
13 continue and that's what I'm doing.
14 MR. STEWART: Well, I -- nevertheless, the "Please proceed
15 Mr. Laws" from Your Honour preceded Mr. Laws giving any answer at all in
16 relation to the objection, and Your Honour specifically referred to the
17 Trial Chamber's own guidelines without any answer having been given as to
18 how those guidelines are actually being complied with.
19 MR. LAWS
20 I'm using this document in one way at the moment, and if I seek its
21 submission by way of an IC list in due course, that's a matter the
22 Chamber will rule. But nothing prevents me from using this document.
23 MR. STEWART: No, I'm sorry, it's -- Mr. Laws could -- one
24 assumes he could easily simply say "I'm using it for this purpose or that
25 purpose in compliance with the guidelines." It's a single sentence. He
1 must know presumably. I'm sure he knows. Mr. Laws knows what he's
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Laws, Mr. Stewart always
4 intervenes to say something useful. He is asking you to tell him in line
5 with the guidelines that you are using this document to test the
6 credibility of the witness. That is all Mr. Stewart is asking you to do.
7 MR. LAWS
8 and precisely what their application involves, the Prosecution's
9 submission is that they do not require us at this stage to make
10 statements about the purpose with which the document is being used. I
11 can say straight away that this witness gives an account of this event
12 which differs from the account that this record of interview discloses.
13 So to that extent at this stage, I am addressing the credibility.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Laws, I don't agree with
15 you. We have a document that is not on the 65 ter list, that the Defence
16 quite rightly raises the issue. The Defence teams are right.
17 Second point. The guidelines of the Chamber clearly indicate
18 that in such a case the party using such a document uses it solely for
19 the purpose of testing the credibility of the witness. That's it. So in
20 line with the guidelines, you should say, "I wish to use this document to
21 check a number of points the witness has indicated which relate to his
22 own credibility." Maybe this document contradicts what he said a while
23 ago, what he stated yesterday. This is what Mr. Stewart would like to
24 know, and he's right. And you are trying to bypass the issue.
25 MR. LAWS
1 anything at all, and the guidance of the Appeals Chamber on this topic is
2 the subject of current litigation before the Chamber. The Appeals
3 Chamber have made it clear that the use of a document of this kind is not
4 limited to testing the credibility.
5 Can I leave it in this way: At the moment I'm going to explore
6 with this witness the issue of his credibility so far as the preparations
7 of Operation Jug goes. I reserve my right as to any other use that the
8 Prosecution may wish to make of it in due course, but I hope that assists
9 Mr. Stewart at the moment.
10 May I now proceed to use the document?
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] For the time being you are
12 testing the credibility of the witness, and I would like the legal
13 officer to pull out the decision handed down by the Appeals Chamber, who
14 seems to be stating -- which seems to be stating the contrary. So please
15 proceed on the credibility of the witness.
16 MR. LAWS
17 Q. Do you have the paragraph beginning -- 667, number 667: "On the
18 5th of July, 1993, I was called by General Janko Bobetko." Do you have
19 that line?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. "On the 5th of July knee I was called by General Janko Bobetko
22 who then was the head of the Main Staff of the Croatian Army. He told me
23 to come to the command post in Zadar and he gave me the oral order to go
24 to Neum in BiH. To be in Neum on the 7th of July, 1993, in the morning,
25 in the municipal building, and to wait for him on the same location on
1 the 8th of July. He said to me that I was entitled to take two officers
2 with me, based on my personal choice, to be my assistants in operational
3 duties. I chose Colonel Ivan Beneta and Colonel Davorin Radic." Can you
4 see that?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Do you agree with your brigadier so far that that's what he did
7 in choosing you and the captain who he names there?
8 A. That's the only thing that I can confirm of all this, that I was
9 asked by Mr. Dzanko to take part in this operation, and it's true that
10 this other colleague was there, Davorin Radic.
11 Q. And you have testified that Milivoj Petkovic was not someone you
12 had met prior to Operation Jug; is that right?
13 A. That is right. I hadn't seen Mr. Petkovic before the operation,
14 nor did I see him during or after it.
15 Q. Well, let's look at what Brigadier Dzanko says starting at line
16 683 about the meeting on the 8th of July in Neum.
17 "General Bobetko came. He held the meeting on which there were
18 present Milivoj Petkovic, HVO head of staff, General Martic, his deputy,
19 Stanko Martic from the HVO; and a Colonel called Pranjo [phoen] Pavicic.
20 General Bobetko's brought Pavicic from the Croatian Army school as the
21 expert for artillery. I was present, Beneta was, as well as Radic from
22 the Croatian Army. And the topic of that meeting was Operation Jug,
23 which I will give more details about later as a special issue."
24 Do you agree with me that the brigadier appears to be saying
25 there something very different to you; namely, that Mr. Petkovic was
1 present at a meeting in Neum to discuss Operation Jug?
2 A. I cannot confirm or provide an explanation because in spite of
3 what is stated here, I was not at that meeting. At the time, I probably
4 hadn't even left Zadar. I arrived on the 8th very late in the evening.
5 I only slept at Neum and on the next morning I continued to the command
7 Your Honours, I was familiarised with this document during the
8 proofing by counsel Ms. Alaburic. I found not only this inaccuracy but
9 more of them in the memory of Mr. Dzanko about the establishing of the
10 battalion at Stolac and some other situations that he sees very
11 differently from the way I see them and the way I remember them.
12 Q. Because it's your assertion that Petkovic is not involved in
13 Operation Jug, and you're not going to agree with the brigadier's
14 recollection as expressed in this document that you had a chance to see
15 the other day?
16 A. I believe that you misinterpreted my words. I have said several
17 times, and I'm going to repeat it again, I did not meet Mr. Petkovic or
18 Mr. Bobetko either before, during, or after Operation South. I don't
19 believe that I ever met Mr. Bobetko either.
20 Q. The taking of Blagaj was one of the key objectives of Operation
21 South, was it not?
22 A. The key objective of the reduced operation was to cut through the
23 area between Heliodrom and Gnojnice, the consequence of which would have
24 been that the forces to the south would be cut off and their status would
25 have been resolved in negotiations. We were -- we did not favour the
1 taking of such a wide area or an operation that would involve the taking
2 of Blagaj.
3 Q. You say that you didn't favour it. At what stage do you say you
4 learnt about the fact that South was an attack on Muslim forces, before
5 coming to Neum or after you arrived?
6 A. As far as I remember, that was something I learned at the command
7 reconnaissance mission which took place at the hill next to Krivodol, and
8 from there we had a good overview of the situation in the Mostar valley
9 from the winery or the Heliodrom if a -- that's -- if that's your
10 favourite, all the way to Buna or the airstrip.
11 Q. Yes. The question I asked you is did you learn about the fact
12 that South was an attack on Muslim forces before coming to Neum or after
13 you arrived?
14 A. I think I learned that not at Neum but only after I had left and
15 gone to the field in the area of Krivodol.
16 Q. General, I'm going to ask you that question again, and it may be
17 there's a problem with the translation. Did you learn that Operation
18 South was an attack on Muslim forces before arriving at Neum or after you
19 had arrived?
20 A. I learned about it after I had left Neum. In other words, not at
21 Neum but after spending the night there and leaving Neum. So I learned
22 these things not at Neum but at Krivodol. The objective of the operation
23 was something about which I heard in the field.
24 Q. So having chosen you as one of his two assistants, Dzanko held a
25 meeting in Neum which you didn't attend, and by that stage, with a week
1 to go before the operation, hadn't told you, his assistant, that it was
2 the Muslims, not the Serbs, who were the target. Is that really what you
3 are saying to us, General?
4 A. Before replying, I must correct you. I was not his deputy. I
5 was the third man down. That is, Chief of Staff. You said deputy.
6 Q. Thank you for the correction. I didn't call you deputy even
7 once. I said you were one of his assistants. It doesn't matter. The
8 question still stands. Could you please answer it.
9 A. No. I wasn't his assistant either. I was Chief of Staff, no
10 more, no less. And at Neum he didn't inform me what it was about. It
11 was only at Krivodol.
12 Q. Thank you. Let's move on to deal with the outcome of Operation
13 South, if we may. It was an attack that took place -- it was an attack
14 that took place on the 15th of July, which had been the subject, as you
15 call it, of some sabotage operations which held it up for a day or two;
16 is that right?
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] General Beneta, just a small
18 detail. Whilst Mr. Laws was putting questions to you, I was re-reading
19 the decision of the Chamber, as well as my dissident opinion --
20 THE INTERPRETER: My dissenting opinion, interpreter's
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] -- and I was also reading the
23 questions put by Mr. Scott to Luka Dzanko, and I note one thing:
24 Luka Dzanko seems to be saying that at this meeting in Neum held on July
25 8th, 1998 -- 1993, excuse me, you were present. Were you there? Yes or
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] From the interview held with
3 Mr. Dzanko -- or, rather, in that interview I saw some false statements
4 about my name and about that period, one of them being that I did not
5 come to Neum with him. And I couldn't have attended the meeting because
6 I arrived very late. And he sent me to the area of Krivodol in the
7 morning to find an adequate spot and that he would follow with the task.
8 I as Chief of Staff was tasked to establish a command post from
9 which the operation would be led, and that's what I did. I found other
10 inaccuracies, too, involving my name. I did not check when this
11 statement was taken, but it is obvious that it is partly incorrect as --
12 as far as it involves me.
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. I wanted to check
15 Mr. Laws.
16 MR. LAWS
17 Q. We were just going to deal with what you termed the sabotage
18 operations that delayed Operation South, and I want to take you back to a
19 document that you looked at yesterday with Ms. Alaburic in the morning.
20 It's in the other binder, and it's P10145.
21 A. 10445?
22 Q. 10145. It's in fact the last document in the binder if that
23 helps you.
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. You were taken to part of this statement about the attempts that
1 it specifies to conduct or to call sabotage operations. I want to start,
2 please, by looking at paragraph 23 where this gentleman describes special
3 HVO units coming to arrest him and his colleagues. Do you see that?
4 A. No, I haven't found it yet.
5 Q. Paragraph 23?
6 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] I just want to inform my learned
7 friend that the Croatian version doesn't have paragraph numbers. So if
8 you could refer to the page number.
9 MR. LAWS
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I think I'm close. Just tell me
11 the first words.
12 MR. LAWS
13 Q. It's page 4, and it's the second paragraph up on that page.
14 "Until the 30th of June, 1993, there were 130 soldiers ..." Can you see
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. And it describes that special HVO units came to address them, and
18 then if you skip the next paragraph, the arrest is described. It's over
19 the page for you on page 5.
20 "I was woken by a soldier aiming his weapon at my neck. The
21 whole unit was disarmed. We were made to get into a truck and brought to
22 Dretelj about 11.00 on 30th of June, 1993."
23 Do you see that?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. You were asked to comment on this. Were you aware of the order
1 that had been issued to detain Muslim members of the HVO and Muslim men
2 of military age? Were you aware of that order?
3 A. No.
4 Q. When you were fighting in Operation Jug, were you aware of any
5 orders as to the detention of men who you encountered? Muslim men.
6 A. I'm unclear about the period to which you're referring. Do you
7 mean the events mentioned here at which I was not present, or do you mean
8 the sabotage actions between the planned beginning of the operation and
9 the actual beginning of the operation, because the two -- there is no
10 connection between the two.
11 Q. My question, I don't think, could really relate to either of
12 those. It says when you were fighting in Operation Jug, when your men --
13 when the -- when the forces engaged in Operation Jug fought on the 15th
14 of July, were you aware of any orders as to the detention of the men whom
15 you encountered, Muslim men?
16 A. No.
17 Q. Thank you. You gave as your opinion the view that the commander
18 faced with this sort of situation as described in the statement P10145,
19 you gave us your opinion that it was justifiable to take the steps that
20 he took to protect his own troops and to protect the civilian population.
21 Do you remember saying that?
22 A. Yes. I believe that there was question from the Bench about the
23 way a commander should act to take care of civilians in operations
24 generally, and reducing the probability of casualties among civilians.
25 But I understood neither that question nor my reply to refer to any
1 concrete events.
2 Q. Very well. In this statement, if you turn, please, to page 8.
3 Can you see a paragraph in the middle of the page dealing with the 15th
4 of July, retrieving the body of this gentleman's cousin, Remza Ulakovic?
5 Can you see that?
6 Did I say a page number? I'm sorry, page 7, right in the middle.
7 Page 7, right in the middle.
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. And if we read on, we can see the reference to at least 50 people
10 being killed, trampled to death or dying through exhaustion. That's
11 three paragraphs down. And then reference to this gentleman's
12 grandmother, Fata Sabljic, who was 94 years old and who was also
13 expelled. She could only walk very slowly.
14 Do you agree with me that from a military point of view,
15 civilians of that kind present absolutely no threat to soldiers; is that
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. And so to expel them from their homes can't ever be justified,
19 can it?
20 A. I cannot agree. There are military situations in which
21 collecting people, gathering them in one place, is justified.
22 Q. But what's being described here is a woman of 94 who is being
23 expelled, who can only walk very slowly. She's not being collected for
24 her own safety. This is something which a military commander has no
25 business doing. It's no part of soldiering, is it, forcing people out of
1 their homes at that age. Is it?
2 A. I must go back to my reply of yesterday. Obviously I didn't
3 explain the situation well enough.
4 Your Honours, most houses, especially in villages on the Dubrava
5 plateau, and this is the area concerned here, so most of these houses are
6 one-storey houses. They only have a ground floor. They have roofs,
7 slanting roofs of brick tiles, and there is a ceiling that is made of
8 reed without any concrete.
9 When we come to a village in which civilians can only have such
10 kind of shelter, generally speaking it is easier to collect these people,
11 take them to a safe place, because you never know where a shell from a
12 mortar or a cannon can land. And the other supply routes are cut. The
13 people can't go even out to their yards to fetch water from their wells.
14 So it is more logical, and it's justified to take all these people to one
15 place and take care of them.
16 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Witness, could you explain the logic behind
17 taking away the Muslim but not Croat people?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I can see no mention of the taking
19 care of Croats in this statement. This is a statement given by a Muslim
20 witness which gives information about himself and other Muslims. I do
21 not read this to mean that nobody took care of the Croats. On the
22 contrary. I strongly doubt that the Croats remained in such houses
23 whereas the Muslims were forced out.
24 MR. LAWS
25 Q. But you've read this statement. It's about forcing people, not
1 just from their homes but expelling them to Blagaj. Look at the
2 paragraph immediately above the assessment that 50 people were killed,
3 trampled to death.
4 "At the beginning of the expulsions from Buna to Blagaj there
5 were casualties every day, but later on the HVO soldiers stopped firing
6 systematically on the exiled people."
7 It's nothing to do with taking care of people, collecting them,
8 looking after them. It's expelling them and shooting them, shooting at
9 them systematically. That's what this witness statement describes.
10 Can you confirm for us that a commander has no, no justification
11 for behaving in that way at any time?
12 A. Yes, it --
13 MR. KARNAVAS: Excuse me, sir. I would qualify that with
14 assuming the facts that are being described in this document are correct,
15 because that's what the witness is being asked to assume. When it comes
16 from the Prosecutor's mouth it's as if these are the facts, so assuming
17 the facts are correct, with that proviso I would say that the question
18 then is proper; otherwise, it assumes facts not in evidence and the
19 question is improper, and I would object to that question being asked.
20 MR. LAWS
21 Q. Assume the facts are true, that these HVO soldiers are expelling
22 civilians, including women of 94 and forcing them to walk to Blagaj and
23 then shooting at them. Assume that's true. No commander has any
24 business doing anything of that kind ever, do they?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Thank you.
2 MR. LAWS
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes. It's time for the break,
5 but you only have ten minutes left.
6 --- Recess taken at 12.32 p.m.
7 --- On resuming at 12.51 p.m.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The court is back in session.
9 One moment we have two IC numbers first.
10 THE REGISTRAR: Thank you, Your Honour. The Prosecution has
11 submitted their objections to documents tendered for admission by 4D and
12 3D through Witness Milan
13 Exhibit IC1102 and 1103 respectively. Thank you, Your Honours.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Laws, you have the floor.
15 MR. LAWS
16 Q. General, we'll just finish off with the remaining time the
17 questions that I have in respect of Operation South or Jug, please. Just
18 to recap, we saw the presidential transcript, which is the 2nd of July,
19 talking about what needed -- whatever needed to be done with
20 General Bobetko. I put to you the 8th of July meeting in respect of that
21 operation in Neum, and you've given us your evidence about that.
22 Can we just look, please, at one document in the Prosecution
23 binder, the smaller of the two binders, and it's P03128. And it's an
24 order from General Petkovic in agreement, so it says, with the head of
25 the Defence Department, Bruno Stojic, and I wonder if you'd look with me,
1 please, at the heading "Sector South," which is the fourth heading on the
2 document. For you it's the foot of page 2 and then going over the page
3 to page 3. In the English it's the second page of the document.
4 And the third sub-heading, sub-heading "Task." Can you see that?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. This involves General Petkovic discussing the taking of land in
7 the same area as the later Operation South was to take place. Do you
8 agree? You particularly mentioned the village of Gnojnice
9 about Blagaj. It's the area south of Mostar, is it not?
10 MS. TOMANOVIC: [Interpretation] Just a moment. I believe the
11 witness received a wrong interpretation. What he heard was Operation
12 Storm instead of Operation South. Just to avoid misunderstanding his
14 MR. LAWS
15 General Petkovic was involved in Operation Storm.
16 Q. The Operation South objectives were to take the area south of
17 Mostar, as you've told us. Specifically you made reference a moment ago
18 to the village named there of Gnojnice; is that right, General?
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] General.
20 THE ACCUSED PETKOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, there is a
21 technical error on behalf of the Prosecution. This is not about
22 Operation South. It is about Sector South. I would appreciate it if the
23 Prosecutor would read exactly what is written. There are three sectors
24 mentioned, north, centre, and south. There is no Operation South in this
25 document. This must be a slip of the tongue. He got carried away with
1 Operation South and then --
2 MR. LAWS
3 Operation South nor I hope am I carried away. I'm simply identifying the
4 objectives as expressed in this document, and General Petkovic will have
5 a full opportunity to testify about this in due course. But on the 2nd
6 of July, this document appears to specify certain objectives. What I'm
7 doing with the witness is clarifying that they overlap with and are very
8 similar to the expressed objectives of Operation South. Not that this is
9 South, but that this is aiming at, in particular, areas that were later
10 to be the target of South.
11 Q. And that's right, General, isn't it?
12 A. I cannot say anything about this document, because I can't see in
13 it anything I could testify to. I was not there at the time. I've never
14 seen this document before. I was not aware of its existence, and I can't
15 see anything here in my role as a witness.
16 Q. Forgive me. On Monday you testified about witness statements
17 taken under interrogation. You testified about the friendship agreement.
18 You've testified about a range of things of which you have absolutely no
19 presence at all. This is a question based on this document, and I'm
20 asking you to confirm what I suggest is the plain obvious truth, that the
21 objective set out in "Task" under 3 are the objectives, some of the
22 objectives of Operation South. Particularly, you mentioned Gnojnice
23 village, and we talked, you and I, about Blagaj village and clearing the
24 area south of Mostar. That's all. And you can comfortably do that if
25 you choose to do so, General, can you not?
1 A. I think you can find in the documentation from that area hundreds
2 of documents referring to these places, because every military document
3 describing the situation in the terrain refers to key points and features
4 on the ground. You can find reams of documents of this kind. You can't
5 use them to prove that this is linked to an operation or anyone's intent.
6 I'm not saying yes or no. I'm just saying I can't say anything
7 on the basis of this document.
8 Q. Could you not worry about what I'm trying to prove or what I'm
9 not trying to prove. I'm simply trying to establish the fact that on the
10 2nd of July, General Petkovic is expressing an intention in securing the
11 objectives which later were the express intention of Operation South
12 itself. I'm not saying it is Operation South. I'm asking you to confirm
13 that, and if you decline to do so, then that's a matter for you. We'll
14 move on. Can you help us with that?
15 A. I'm sorry to say on the basis of this document or this idea I
16 can't confirm or deny.
17 Q. Even though it has the place names that we've discussed, are you
18 actually trying to help us at this stage, General, or not?
19 A. Your Honours, I'm really trying to be helpful about things that I
20 was involved in, that I knew something about, but this is not the case
22 Q. All right. You've been brought to court partly to say that
23 General Petkovic was not involved in Operation South, and what I'm doing
24 is looking with you at whether he was expressing an interest in the
25 objectives, whether he was present at the meeting in Neum which you say
1 you were not present at when Operation South was discussed, and now I'm
2 going to look with you at a document that may have another connection to
3 this operation. Would you turn, please, to look at -- at document
5 And paragraph -- the paragraph that we need to look at, please,
6 is in the English at the foot of page 2, the paragraph beginning "Out of
7 700 men," and in the B/C/S it is a paragraph just to the right of the
8 lower hole punch, beginning "Out of 700 men from the battalion of the 5th
10 Do you see that paragraph? Can you see that paragraph, General?
11 A. I'm not sure. This one begins with "The 3rd Brigade numbers 750
13 Q. No. If you go down just another six lines, you'll see just the
14 right of the lower hole punch: "Out of 700 men from the battalion of the
15 HV 5th Guards Motorised Brigade --" got that one?
16 A. Yes, yes.
17 Q. There's a trap in this document because in English it says,
18 "During the attack on the 10th of July," you can see in the B/C/S that
19 it's the 15th of July, can you not?
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] One moment. Before you answer,
21 you have no time left, Mr. Laws. The witness will answer and that's when
22 we shall stop.
23 MR. LAWS
24 minutes left according to our calculation. May I just complete this
25 document and then draw it to a close? I'll be no more than another
1 minute or so, but I want to just get this clear. It's the end of
2 Operation South.
3 Q. 15th of July is in the document, is it not?
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I shall just turn to my
5 colleagues to see whether we will grant you an extra few meant.
6 [Trial Chamber confers]
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You have no time left. The
8 Trial Chamber generously grants you three extra minutes.
9 MR. LAWS
10 for that.
11 Q. 15th of July. What's being described in this letter is the
12 attack on the 15th of July in the area south of Mostar, its task being to
13 cut off the Muslim forces and take Gnojnice, a village you and I
14 discussed a just a moment ago. During very heavy fighting, the brigade
15 had 12 dead and 30 wounded, of whom three soldiers were seriously
16 injured. The infantry part was pulled out of combat and put up in a
17 hotel in Neum, et cetera.
18 Now, that's a report about the short-lived and unsuccessful
19 operation that was Operation South, isn't it?
20 A. I believe so.
21 Q. It couldn't possibly be anything else, could it? That's what it
23 A. I haven't read it through. I just read the passage you pointed
24 out. If you want to ask me about the whole document I'd have to read the
25 whole document.
1 Q. That's the only passage that we need and that, I think you agree,
2 relates to the short-lived unsuccessful Operation South.
3 This is a document which is being sent to the Ministry of Defence
4 of the Republic of Croatia
5 people, Milivoj Petkovic as the Chief of the Main Staff, and Luka Dzanko
6 the brigadier who was, as you have told us, in charge of the operation
7 from the Croatian side. All right?
8 A. Yes, judging by the signature.
9 Q. So just drawing the strands together, you've come here partly to
10 say that Petkovic was not responsible or involved in Operation Jug, and
11 here he is reporting on that day about what had happened in relation to
12 it. Do you agree with me?
13 A. From this I can also see that just as Mr. Dzanko, Mr. Petkovic
14 was angry about certain aspects of this situation. Mr. Dzanko, after we
15 finalised that day, I believe he went somewhere else that evening, he
16 told me the next day, this document had been drafted, that he had invited
17 General Petkovic to help him assess the situation, and in my recollection
18 General Petkovic was extremely angry about the whole situation, but for
19 more details you should ask someone else.
20 Q. Well, we hope to, but for what it's worth, that is the end of my
21 cross-examination. Thank you.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very briefly, before we give
23 the floor to the Petkovic Defence for redirect, I'd like to remain on
24 this document, and I ask you to look at the end of the document where
25 General Petkovic makes proposals. When he testifies, we shall, of course
1 review this document again, but I would like to put you this question. I
2 see that General Petkovic analyses the situation and explains that the
3 Chetniks, let's say the Serbs, and the Muslim forces are occupying a
4 strategic axis which is the road from Stenovac [phoen] to Drenovic, I'm
5 sorry we don't have a map, and the ultimate objective is the Neretva and
6 the Ploce harbour.
7 In this document General Petkovic puts the Serbs and the Muslims
8 on the same side, i.e., the enemy, and he specifies, as you can see in
9 this document, that the situation seems to call for, on the part of the
10 Croatian Army the taking of the Bregava River
11 area. And then in the second part of the document General Petkovic seems
12 to be writing that in order to liberate the Neretva valley, let's say the
13 Mostar-Jablanica area, that's what's written here, it would be necessary,
14 seemingly, for the forces of the HVO to be reinforced by professional
15 brigades of the Croatian Army. When I see this - and I listened very
16 carefully, as you can well imagine, to all the questions put by the
17 Prosecutor on Operation South - I have the feeling, which of course
18 merits further investigation, that on the side of the HVO and the
19 Croatian Army the positioning of the Serb forces was an issue, and this
20 is actually what is written in the document.
21 At the time you were there, during this Operation South was the
22 Serb issue the key issue or was it the Muslim issue which was the key
23 issue or were they both key issues?
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] In my view, Your Honour, the level
25 of threat was the same from the Serbian side, and a new threat seemed to
1 be emerging, namely that Muslims, too, might be looking to get to the
2 Neretva River
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So as far as you're concerned,
4 there are two threats.
5 Ms. Alaburic, normally speaking you had nine minutes left for
6 your redirect. Of course, if you go beyond that time, it will be taken
7 off your overall time, so you have the floor.
8 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, the Defence of
9 General Petkovic believes that we have gotten the Trial Chamber used to
10 using up all our time to the last minute and more, but this time we have
11 no redirect.
12 Thank you, Witness, for your answers. Thank you for coming to
13 The Hague
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] General, in light of the fact
15 that your testimony has just come to an end, I would like to thank you
16 for having come to testify at the request of the Defence counsel to help
17 us establish the truth. I wish you a safe journey home, and I shall ask
18 the usher to escort you out of the courtroom.
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you very much.
20 [The witness withdrew]
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Since we have a few minutes
22 left before adjourning, Ms. Alaburic, you have planned to bring a witness
23 for next week. Everything is running smoothly, is it?
24 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, from what I know now,
25 the witness is coming tomorrow. He will be ready to come into the
1 courtroom on Monday. He will be continuing with the subject of Stolac at
2 the beginning of the Muslim-Croat conflict, and we can expect to spend
3 four or five days in the courtroom with him.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You have planned to hear him
5 for three hours. Other Defence counsel have an hour and a half, and the
6 Prosecutor will have three hours. That is what has been scheduled. This
7 is what you have provided us with.
8 I shall ask the registrar to move into private session for a few
10 [Private session]
23 [Open session]
24 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, we're now back in open session.
25 Thank you.
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Stringer, do you have
2 anything to tell us?
3 MR. STRINGER: Yes. Excuse me. Yes. Thank you, Mr. President,
4 and greetings to Your Honours and to all.
5 We've got another down day tomorrow. We had two down days last
6 week. I think we've sat for a combined total of 24 days during September
7 and October. We're proceeding at a glacial pace, and it's become in the
8 view of the Prosecution grossly inefficient and a waste of the Court's
9 resources. May we invite the Petkovic team to have the following witness
10 on standby and in The Hague next week in the event that, as we did this
11 week, the three-hour witness for direct has actually concluded his
12 testimony in three days so that we're able to make full use of the
13 Court's time and resources and to proceed more expeditiously through the
14 Petkovic case. Thank you.
15 MS. ALABURIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, if you allow me to
16 say just this: If all the Defence teams had availed themselves of their
17 right to cross-examine, we would have entered the fourth day of
18 examination of this witness as we had planned.
19 When scheduling our witnesses, we also reckon with the Judges'
20 questions, and we did this on the basis of the duration of Judges'
21 questions in the past. We think it appropriate for Judges to have enough
22 time to examine our witnesses as well while we are all relatively
23 relaxed, without feeling under pressure while contemplating our
25 I believe that the next witness will take a longer time. There
1 will be many more controversial issues covered, and there will be many
2 more Judges' questions, we expect.
3 If you instruct me to reduce the expected time for each witness
4 and to reckon with a reduced time for the Judges' questions and if the
5 Court is prepared to pay for witnesses being here on standby, I will be
6 happy to obliged.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Stringer, let me give me --
8 my opinion on this also. I am very interested by all the trials that
9 occur here, and I note that the pace of Defence witnesses is always
10 different from the pace of Prosecution witnesses, and all trials
11 experience this. When it comes to the Defence case, things become more
12 complicated. Why is it? Well, because the Defence must contact the
13 witnesses, then convince them to come and testify. These are usually
14 witnesses that are high ranking in the administration, in the military,
15 or in politics. So everything is complicated for the Defence.
16 And I also note that up until now it's true that we've had some
17 down days, but I believe that the trial is still proceeding at a very
18 good pace. And just as Ms. Alaburic justly said, the witness could have
19 been -- could have continued to testify tomorrow. The other Defence
20 teams decided that they didn't want to cross-examine, but they could have
21 done so. And even during the Prosecution case, we had some Prosecution
22 witnesses that end up -- ended their testimony earlier than expected.
23 So I believe that we are running at a very good pace. We're
24 almost at three-fourths of the trial. We still have 20, 25 per cent of
25 total time to finish in time. We're not running late. The Trial Chamber
1 has taken into account the fact that a few -- that sometimes some accused
2 were not present in the courtroom, but fortunately their counsel were
3 representing them so we could continue whereas we might have decided for
4 a stay.
5 So I think that we are really trying to move forward. Everyone
6 is trying to move forward. The schedule that we have been provided with
7 is very good, and I believe that we should stick to it.
8 Mr. Stringer.
9 MR. STRINGER: Well, Mr. President, I've expressed what is the
10 Prosecution's submission on this. We're three and a half years into this
11 trial. I think that what has been the exception and the -- the
12 consequence or the circumstance to be avoided, whether it was during the
13 Prosecution case or the Prlic case or the Stojic case or the Praljak
14 case, was to not have these gaps in the trial becoming the rule, and it
15 appears to us that is -- that's really now what is becoming the accepted
16 or the customary practice during, admittedly, this early phase of the
17 Petkovic trial.
18 Obviously, every team and everybody recognising that there are
19 scheduling issues and time runs on. I think in terms of practice in the
20 other trials it's the witness who waits. In this case it seems to be
21 more so now than ever that it's the Judges and the parties, really, who
22 wait. We're all waiting now for the next few days until the next witness
23 is here ready to go, when, in fact, perhaps the witness should be the one
24 has a wait a little longer for the preceding witness to conclude his or
25 her testimony.
1 So we obviously acknowledge the views of the President, but
2 nonetheless, I think that I am expressing some valid concerns on the part
3 of the Prosecution. Thank you.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Stringer, we're today
5 November 11th. Courtroom I, no trial. Courtroom II, Stanisic was
6 sitting this morning and the afternoon there will be no sitting.
7 November 11th, Courtroom number III
8 afternoon. Check with the other Trial Chambers, the ones that are also
9 running trials. For them also it's difficult to have witnesses and so
10 on. I believe that the Prlic trial is the one where there's the less
11 down time, contrary to what you've just stated.
12 Let's put an end to this. We will resume next Monday, 2.15 p.m.
13 with the Defence witness called by the Petkovic team. Thank you.
14 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1.23 p.m.
15 to be reconvened on Monday, the 16th day
16 of November, 2009, at 2.15 p.m.