1 Wednesday, 2 February 2011
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 9.03 a.m.
5 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Good morning to everybody. The witness should be
6 brought in, please.
7 [The witness entered court]
8 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Good morning. Please sit down.
9 Good morning again, sir. May I remind --
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good morning.
11 JUDGE FLUEGGE: May I remind you that the affirmation to tell the
12 truth still applies. And Mr. Tolimir is continuing his
14 Mr. Tolimir.
15 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. I wish
16 good morning to everyone and may there be peace in this house and may
17 God's will be done in this proceedings as well, and may the outcome be as
18 God wishes and not as I wish. And I would also like to ask the witness
19 to just pause after my question before answering, and I will do the same.
20 WITNESS: LAZAR RISTIC [Resumed]
21 [Witness answered through interpreter]
22 Cross-examination by Mr. Tolimir: [Continued]
23 Q. Yesterday, I asked you about some things that you were also asked
24 by the Prosecutor, and on page 64 of yesterday's transcript, line 20, the
25 following was said: You would issue an order to the military police to
1 bring in so and so.
2 Now I would like to ask you this: Were you -- did you have the
3 right to issue orders to the brigade military police?
4 A. I did not have that right. However, when -- where it concerned
5 men from my battalion, I would send an order in writing that those men
6 should be taken over or brought over; that was the rule. We would use
7 the radio and we would say, "Such and such should do this or that," and
8 that would then be relayed to the military police, and then they would
9 bring in those people according or pursuant to my orders, and then --
10 Q. Did you, according to the battalion plan, issue orders to the
11 military police of the superior unit?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Could you tell us for the transcript what the difference is
14 between an order and instructions, "Nalog" and "Naredjenje" in B/C/S?
15 A. Well, there is a big difference. The military police belonged to
16 the brigade and all I did was send instructions, nalog, for certain men
17 to be taken into custody or to be brought in. If they didn't, I could
18 not issue an order. I could only appeal or I could only complain to the
19 brigade chief if an instructions that I issued were not followed.
20 Q. Thank you. Did your platoon commanders and company commanders
21 first inform you who was missing and then, based on that, you would issue
22 your instructions to the competent authorities or competent superior who
23 could issue such orders?
24 A. Yes, that's how it transpired.
25 Q. When the issue is absence without leave, absence from combat,
1 because that's what we are talking about here, would the command then pay
2 special attention to such matters and I'm referring here to the brigade
3 commander all the way down to the platoon commander. Thank you.
4 A. Well, there was a procedure to be followed, and it went the same
5 way. On orders from the battalion commanders, that person, who is
6 absent, would be reported to the brigade command, it would be reported
7 that the person was absent without leave. However, this was done through
8 the battalion commander and the brigade commander. In other words, what
9 to do with such men who would just go without leave from the battalion or
10 from the brigade.
11 Q. Thank you. Well, let's not discuss specific issues so it is
12 sufficient just for these purposes to say that there was -- it was
13 necessary to have the instructions of the brigade -- of the battalion
14 commander, is that how it always transpired, it always had to go through
15 the battalion commander?
16 A. Yes, that's how it was always done and we were all of us were
17 subordinate to the battalion commander. He was the only person who could
18 actually punish a soldier by -- with a punishment of a seven-day
19 imprisonment and that was the only person that could mete out such
21 Q. Thank you.
22 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye?
23 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. It appears there may
24 be some confusion in the record because the previous answer on page 3,
25 line 7 and 8, referred to the brigade commander, and the authority of the
1 brigade commander. Then the following question related to the brigade
2 commander as well and then the answer responded to the battalion
3 commander. So I just wanted to be sure that we are all talking about the
4 same thing or what it is we are talking about, in terms of the
5 subordination as the witness has just mentioned to the battalion
6 commander or to the brigade commander. So I'd appreciate it if
7 General Tolimir could clarify that with the witness so that the record is
8 clear before the Chamber.
9 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye, on line 7 and 8 of page 3, the
10 witness is recorded to having said: "However, this was done through the
11 battalion commander and the brigade commander." He was referring to
13 MR. VANDERPUYE: Yes, you'll see Mr. President, page 3, line 16,
14 the witness says: "Yes, that's how it was always done and we were all of
15 us subordinate to the battalion commander," which wouldn't include the
16 brigade commander and the power to punish resided essentially in the
17 brigade commander, and that's something that I think that needs to be
18 clarified with the witness for the record.
19 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, would you please clarify this
20 problem with the witness with your next question?
21 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour, I would
22 like to thank Mr. Vanderpuye. I cannot really follow the transcript so I
23 will again ask the witness to tell us whether all the activities that
24 were going in the direction to the brigade, the security organ from the
25 battalion had to carry them out with the approval of the brigade
1 command -- battalion commander, no matter what issues were concerned.
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Now, here let's go again to page 62 of the transcript, line 2.
4 Mr. Vanderpuye asked you whether yesterday it was your duty first to
5 inform --
6 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, I have to interrupt you because I
7 don't know if you misspoke first or it was a problem of the
8 interpretation. Now we see that:
9 "The security organ from the battalion had to carry them out with
10 the approval of the brigade command -- battalion commander no matter what
11 issues were concerned."
12 These words of yours were recorded. That didn't help to bring
13 some clarity in the matter.
14 Could you please repeat in more detail what was the chain of
15 communication in this respect, sir? This is now a question for you,
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] May I respond?
18 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes, please.
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Within the battalion, and I'm
20 talking about what the Prosecutor was asking me, was what to do with the
21 men who were absent without leave under normal circumstances.
22 I explained then that we would send instructions to the military police,
23 sometimes we would use the radio, to bring in those men because the
24 military police was the only one which had the right to go and search for
25 the person, whether that person was at home or some place else. But the
1 battalion commander would have to be informed of all that. As for the
2 second part, that is not clear perhaps is that in the event that somebody
3 deserted from the battalion or just fled during combat, that then would
4 be an infraction that was of higher severity and, and in that case the
5 battalion commander would inform the brigade commander of such instances,
6 and that would then no longer be within the competence of the battalion
7 or the security organ within the battalion, but rather the battalion
8 commander would inform thereof the brigade commander and then they would
9 resolve that issue.
10 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much. I hope everybody has now a
11 clear picture. Mr. Tolimir, carry on, please.
12 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
13 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
14 Q. Mr. Ristic, tell us, please, as the security organ within the
15 battalion, did you ever have the right to have direct contacts, official
16 contacts, with the brigade commander? Thank you.
17 A. No. I didn't. However, I could resort to that in the event --
18 well, let me just give you an example. If it was necessary to complain
19 about poor work being done by the battalion commander or his deputy, then
20 I could directly inform the brigade -- the security officer, but -- of
21 the brigade but I could also inform the brigade commander but only in the
22 instances that had to do with poor work or incompetence within the
23 battalion. In other words, if the battalion was put in jeopardy, if the
24 front line was weakened through such incompetence. So I could only
25 inform the chief of security or the brigade chief in those instances
1 where there was a problem with battalion command.
2 Q. Thank you. Is that the same right that -- where every
3 superior -- every officer has the right to report his superior officer
4 for the poor work of his superior, direct superior?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Mr. Ristic, yesterday you were asked by the Prosecutor whether it
7 was your duty to inform your commander, the military police, or your
8 security organ, which was -- which had the priority? And whether the
9 military police then had to take action pursuant to your complaints or
10 your reports. In answer to the second question, you've already said what
11 it was but I will give you an opportunity to answer that question again.
12 But let me ask you this: Did you first inform your battalion commander
13 and only then go outside of your battalion to report that? Thank you.
14 A. Well, it was standard practice for men to frequently be absent
15 from the battalion or to come to the front line late, and we, of course,
16 never knew -- when I say we, I mean the men in the battalion, we never
17 knew when we would be attacked, so it was our duty to make sure that the
18 front line always had a sufficient number of men according to previous
19 plans, and according to how it was determined in advance. Now, when some
20 personnel were absent I would inform the battalion commander thereof, but
21 if the battalion commander wasn't there, then I could issue instructions
22 to the military police to bring in those men. I could not issue an order
23 to them but, based on those instructions, I could only send, usually by
24 radio, instructions and I would have to sign it so that they would know
25 who it was sent from, but in my absence it could be done by the battalion
1 commander or even his deputy.
2 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye?
3 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. I just want to make
4 sure that we are talking about the context of the witness's capacity as
5 an assistant commander for security and intelligence in the battalion as
6 distinguished from his capacity as the deputy battalion commander, in the
7 context of this question, because it wasn't framed in the question that
8 was put to the witness.
9 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you. Mr. Tolimir, as you know from
10 yesterday that the witness changed his post in March 1995. It is
11 important to know if your questions are referring to the period after
12 March 1995 or before March 1995. Please clarify that with the witness
14 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you.
15 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
16 Q. Yesterday, on page 62, line 2, Mr. Vanderpuye asked you if it was
17 your duty, if it had been your duty to first report to your commander in
18 other words, that was during the period of time when he had a commander.
19 He said or the military police or your security chief.
20 So having read the question that had been put to him then,
21 I understood the question to mean that he had a commander at the time, he
22 wasn't acting independently. But let's clarify since the witness is
23 being treated here as an individual who had power to do something, tell
24 us, Witness, how do you distinguish between an instruction and a warrant
25 for arrest? Because if there is a warrant for arrest, there is no
1 instruction, is there?
2 A. Well, when I would write an instruction in the battalion,
3 I couldn't take it to the brigade HQ which was some ten kilometres away,
4 and then we would have several instructions a day, so we would transmit
5 these instructions by radio and then these instructions would be in
6 written form taken to the military police who would be informed that such
7 and such a senior officer from the battalion issued these instructions
8 for those people to be brought in.
9 Q. Okay. Let's clarify this. What you transmitted by radio, was
10 that an instruction or was it a request for those people to be brought in
11 because there is a clear difference between the two?
12 A. Well, probably a request. I don't know how we called it but it
13 was, I think more likely to have been a request than an instruction.
14 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Again, was that -- the last answer, Witness, were
15 you referring to the period after March 1995 or before March 1995?
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] All of this referred to the period
17 up to March of 1995, when I was assistant commander for security and
19 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you. Mr. Tolimir, just a moment.
20 Judge Mindua has a question.
21 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] Yes, witness. I have a question
22 for clarification purposes. Before March 1995, you were assistant
23 battalion -- assistant commander for security and intelligence at
24 battalion level but within the Zvornik Brigade, is that it? Could you
25 tell me what were the specific duties of the assistant commander for
1 security and intelligence at battalion level in relation to the functions
2 of the company of a -- of the company -- of the military police company
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] As I said earlier on, my duty was
5 to monitor certain activities within the battalion and report anything
6 that I felt was necessary to be reported to the battalion commander.
7 Now, as for the military police company commander, his duty was to
8 accommodate the requests that we sent to him concerning our soldiers that
9 needed taking into custody. Other than that we didn't have any
10 obligations in either way. The duty of the military police was to locate
11 these people, to take them into custody, and that was what they needed to
12 do on their part.
13 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] Very well. Thank you very much.
14 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir.
15 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you.
16 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
17 Q. As you see, this seemingly insignificant question is very
18 important, both to Their Honours and the OTP and us. We also need to
19 hear from you what duties of a security organ were. I'll give you an
20 opportunity to do that.
21 Now, you referred to an obligation. Did the military police have
22 an obligation towards you, or not? Because these are different matters.
23 If he considers your request, for instance, to take soldiers into custody
24 an obligation on his part or whether he could prioritise his tasks as
25 this was only one among the duties he had to attend to.
1 A. When I was performing my duties, I wasn't trained sufficiently to
2 know exactly which of the roles carried which of these duties. I think
3 that the police had the obligation to meet these requests, but was also
4 able to not do it. The only thing we could have done, absent his
5 follow-up, was to report that particular military policeman to his
6 superiors in the brigade.
7 Q. Thank you. Please be very precise when referring to these
8 various orders. Are these instructions that you issued him or whatever
9 they are, is it something that he would be held accountable for to you or
10 to his superior officers?
11 A. Well, my answers are probably down to the fact that I am not
12 versed enough in these issues of orders, because I -- and requests,
13 because I simply didn't attend any military schools. I think I performed
14 to the best of my abilities at the time, but don't expect me to be able
15 to distinguish between requests and instructions and orders.
16 Q. Please don't apologise to me; you're simply a witness here. You
17 say he had to carry out that task. Did he have to fulfil this as a task
18 or was it a request?
19 A. Well, I know that he had his duties within the brigade. Now, it
20 was down to some other individuals who would assess what had to be done
21 and what didn't have to be done. If we failed to do something, we would
22 have been discharged.
23 Q. I'm merely asking you to use the terminology in no uncertain
24 terms. You said that you would give tasks to the brigade military
25 police. Were they really tasks, these that you were issuing?
1 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter notes the witness's microphone
2 is off.
3 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes. I stopped the witness because it's very
4 difficult again for the interpreters to catch what you are saying. You
5 are overlapping. You have to pause between question and answer and
6 question again. It was very difficult. Mr. Vanderpuye and then the
7 answer of the witness.
8 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. I see that we are
9 bogged down, as it were, in terms of specific military definitions or
10 definitions that General Tolimir wishes to use with the witness. The
11 witness has indicated on a number of occasions he's not specifically
12 versed in these kinds of qualifications, different definitions. It might
13 be helpful if General Tolimir put to the witness what General Tolimir's
14 understanding is of what an order is, a task is, an instruction is, so
15 that the witness can better understand what it is General Tolimir's
16 question concerns and can better explain what his specific activities
17 were in relation to those functions as an assistant commander for
18 security at the battalion level. It's just a suggestion. It's not an
19 objection. But I think it will make things go a little bit more smoothly
20 than they have been so far.
21 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I'm not sure that this proposal is very helpful
22 because Mr. Tolimir is not giving evidence but the witness is giving
23 evidence and we want to know what he knows about these matters, and
24 therefore I think the witness should answer the last -- try to answer the
25 last question, and Mr. Tolimir said, "You said that you would give tasks
1 to the brigade military police. Were they really task, these that you
2 were issuing?" I think it is a quite simple question and the witness is
3 in the position to try to answer this. Thank you.
4 I repeated the question of Mr. Tolimir. You already started your
5 answer but I interrupted you because of the overlapping speaking. Would
6 you please provide us with your answer?
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] We in the battalion could not issue
8 orders to the military police or their commander to carry out our tasks.
9 What we could do was to send requests from the battalion which had to do
10 directly with battalion members, and then on the basis of these requests
11 they would take the soldiers concerned into custody. So from the
12 battalion level to the brigade level, and that's what they could do.
13 They were entitled to do so because they had the military police force.
14 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you.
15 Mr. Tolimir.
16 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
17 Q. Thank you, Mr. Ristic. We will also accommodate what the OTP
18 needs. At the time when you were charged with security affairs within
19 the battalion, did you put in place procedures and measures issued by
20 your battalion command with a view to implementing security-related
21 measures as dictated by superior commands?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Can we now have D148 shown to the witness? D148. Page 66 in
24 Serbian and 38 in English. Thank you. You see item 122, we have it in
25 English as well which reads:
1 "The security organ is a specialised organ of the command which
2 organises and implements measures and procedures of counterintelligence
3 support. It also participates in recommending, organising and
4 implementing security and self-protection measures which concern," and
5 I emphasise this, "The command and other subjects of self protection."
6 So is it -- is this the basis from which your obligations toward
7 your command stemmed?
8 A. Well, yes. But whether I am -- I was a specialist organ or not
9 is a different matter. For the rest, these were our obligations within
10 the battalion, yes.
11 Q. Thank you. Can you tell us in addition to you, at a time when
12 you were assistant commander for security, was there anyone else who had
13 higher expertise and authority to deal with these matters?
14 A. There was nobody else except me within the battalion charged with
15 security and intelligence matters.
16 Q. Thank you. Let us look at page 65 in Serbian and 38 in English.
17 Yesterday, Mr. Vanderpuye asked you if you had also carried out -- if you
18 had carried out the activities concerning both security and intelligence,
19 and your answer was in the affirmative.
20 I will first read out the relevant portion and then put the
21 question. You can see there it says, "The intelligence organ. The
22 intelligence organ is responsible for and organises intelligence support
23 for combat actions, it continuously monitors and assesses the enemy and
24 reports the enemy's condition to everybody concerned in the command. It
25 suggests to the commander or Chief of Staff the procedure and resources
1 for intelligence support for the brigade."
2 JUDGE FLUEGGE: For the record, that was paragraph 118.
3 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
4 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
5 Q. Mr. Ristic, this is my question: Did you give proposals to the
6 commander or Chief of Staff for measures and activities, or did you have
7 the right to also issue orders to them?
8 A. I didn't have the right to issue orders. I had the right to give
9 my proposals to the commander. Any subsequent activities related to the
10 enemy, its advancement or regrouping, lay solely within the competence of
11 the battalion commander.
12 Q. Thank you, Mr. Ristic. In order not to have some matters left
13 unclarified, please answer this question: At a later date, as deputy
14 commander and at an even later date as an acting commander, did you have
15 the right to issue orders to anyone from a different organic unit and
16 your superior unit, i.e. the brigade?
17 A. I didn't have the right to issue orders to anyone. I was solely
18 tied to my battalion. Any unit which would be seconded to assist my
19 battalion, either at the level of a platoon or be it two platoons, would
20 be within my competence if within my area of responsibility.
21 Q. Thank you. On page 68, line 12 of yesterday's transcript,
22 Mr. Vanderpuye asked you if you, as assistant commander for intelligence
23 and security, had had the authority to report any crime committed within
24 your battalion. This is my question, if you recall this: Were you able
25 to make decisions independently as to what sort of an attitude you would
1 take toward a perpetrator of a crime within your battalion at a time when
2 you were assistant commander for security and intelligence? Thank you.
3 A. No. I think I already explained this. They were within the
4 exclusive jurisdiction of the battalion commander, not his deputy, and
5 not his assistant for security. He could only issue measure up to 7 days
6 of military detention for the perpetrators.
7 Q. Thank you. So now that we are talking about filing complaints,
8 I want to ask you, would you normally file a complaint about any negative
9 activity that you noticed within the battalion while you were at the
10 position of the acting commander and the deputy commander? I assume that
11 the Prosecutor asked you about this period. So my question is: Would
12 you get in touch with the brigade command when you would find that there
13 were certain negative activities at the location where you would send
14 your soldiers pursuant to the request of your superior?
15 A. I already explained everything. Are you talking about the 14th
16 of July?
17 Q. Yes.
18 A. I heard that from a soldier who was up on the line. I went to
19 the duty officer in the battalion to ask what was going on, they wouldn't
20 tell me anything. Later on, I managed to learn more through a certain
21 person, and when Mr. Trbic called me, I did what I did because the only
22 person at that moment who could order me something or who could give me
23 some instructions was at the moment Major Obrenovic, and I couldn't get
24 in touch with him because he was in the field.
25 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye?
1 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. Again I think we have
2 some issues with respect to the interpretation. Here, at page 16, line
3 18, I have it in the transcript, 17 and 18, the witness says, "I went to
4 the duty officer in the battalion to ask what was going on." I think
5 it's clear from the record, from the transcript, that, in fact, he went
6 to the duty -- he inquired with the duty office of the brigade, not the
7 battalion. I don't know whether or not that's what he said or misspoke
8 but this is I think a rather important issue because in relation to his
9 duties and functions it is important this to have a very clear record on
10 whether he's talking about the battalion or the superior command in the
11 brigade, and that's what I'm concerned about.
12 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Sir, can you help us? You are recorded to having
13 said, "I heard that from a soldier who was up on the line. I went to the
14 duty officer in the battalion to ask what was going on. They wouldn't
15 tell me anything."
16 Now, are you saying battalion or brigade?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I didn't go there. I just called
18 the duty officer in the brigade by phone. I couldn't go there. So
19 I called them. I called the duty officer in the brigade and I wanted him
20 to tell me what was going on in Orahovac.
21 JUDGE FLUEGGE: That clarifies the situation.
22 Mr. Tolimir, please carry on.
23 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
24 Q. Thank you. Mr. Ristic, the Prosecutor just emphasised how
25 important this is. So I would like you to be very precise and specific
1 in your answers. Don't say anything that could be understood in more
2 than one way. I'm going to repeat the question. You probably know why
3 he asked you. Did you report, did you file any complaint about any
4 negative things that you saw going on in the village, in which your
5 soldiers took part as tasked by the superior command? So I want a very
6 short answer. Did you report that to the brigade command and that would
7 be the duty officer in the brigade?
8 A. Yes, I did. And I answered -- and I received the answer, Just go
9 on, do your job, this is nothing to do with you.
10 Q. Did you later on, on your own initiative, withdraw your soldiers
11 because these tasks were inappropriate for soldiers to carry out?
12 A. Yes, I did.
13 Q. Thank you. Were you held responsible later on because you did
14 something on your own initiative and withdrew your soldiers preventing
15 them thereby to carry out the task that they had been assigned earlier?
16 A. I was not held responsible. Nobody asked me ever anything about
18 Q. Thank you. Can we now have 1D556, 1D556? Thank you.
19 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Before you continue, Mr. Tolimir, Judge Nyambe
20 has a question.
21 JUDGE NYAMBE: I just want to clarify a question from the
22 witness. Can you tell me when you were acting commander and for how
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I was acting commander from the 1st
25 of July until the 18th of July 1995.
1 JUDGE NYAMBE: Thank you.
2 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir.
3 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
4 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
5 Q. Mr. Ristic, here on the screen in front of you, you can see the
6 statement that you gave on the 18th of October 2005. The subject matter
7 of this statement is the same as the subject matter of your present
8 testimony. I would like to have now page 41 in Serbian and 31 in
9 English. So this is your interrogation by the investigators of The Hague
10 Tribunal in 2005. Thank you.
11 This has to do with your relations with your superiors. The
12 investigator asked you, that's the 10th line on the page, line 20 in
13 English, "Did you ever talk to Pandurevic about what happened at
15 And you said no.
16 "Did you ever talk to Trbic about it?"
17 You say, "Although I wanted to talk about it, none of them wanted
18 to discuss it or to analyse it."
19 "But did you ever ask Drago Nikolic about it?"
20 "Yes, I did."
21 "What did you say to Drago?"
22 And then you say, "I asked him what happened in Orahovac. And
23 I asked him about the prisoners. He told me that he was also caught by
24 that because he also believed that they would be taken to Batkovici and
25 he thought that they would be put up there just temporarily, and that's
1 why he allegedly picked the school in Orahovac which was close to the
2 line because he thought they would not stay there very long. That's what
3 he said."
4 So based on this, my question is as follows: Based on everything
5 that you saw, are you convinced that Nikolic really told you that and
6 that the Zvornik Brigade and your superiors were really surprised by the
7 fact that the prisoners were deployed inside their zone?
8 A. I know that Drago Nikolic said that to me. As far as other
9 members of the Zvornik Brigade are concerned, I don't know whether they
10 were taken by surprise or not, but I asked Drago Nikolic because, from
11 1992 to 1995, Muslim soldiers and civilians used to cross the area of
12 Crni Vrh and that part of Baljkovica moving towards Nezuk. We used to
13 have double guards there because we never knew when they were going to
14 pass. Bearing in mind that Orahovac is in a valley, and there is a
15 Muslim village, Krizevici, up towards Crni Vrh, a deserted Muslim
16 village, and since there was a possibility that those who passed over
17 Crni Vrh could see those assembled around the school is, so all this in
18 my opinion could have caused an attack on this village by the soldiers
19 from Srebrenica. So I spoke to Drago about this issue, why they came to
20 Orahovac, and when I asked him that, that's what he answered me.
21 Q. Thank you. Your answer was a bit longer than unusual, so the
22 essence of your answer to my question was actually lost. I'm now going
23 to repeat my question and I want you to answer succinctly. Was
24 Drago Nikolic surprised by the fact that the Muslim prisoners were
25 brought to the zone of responsibility of the Zvornik Brigade?
1 A. Well, according to what he told me, yes, he was surprised.
2 Q. Were you surprised by the deployment of Muslim prisoners into the
3 zone of responsibility of the Zvornik Brigade?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Your soldiers on the line, were they surprised and did they
6 protest about it?
7 A. They were surprised and they didn't like the fact that the
8 prisoners were brought to Orahovac, and generally in the area of Zvornik.
9 Q. Thank you. Considering that Drago thought that they would be
10 exchanged and that he put them close to the line because exchanges are
11 performed across lines, can you tell us, is there a possibility that
12 somebody after they had been brought into your zone changed the decision
13 about their exchange? Thank you.
14 A. Probably there was some change in the decision.
15 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye?
16 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. I see the question
17 has been answered but I would ask General Tolimir to refrain from asking
18 completely speculative questions. It doesn't seem that this is something
19 that is in the know of this witness, that's within his ken, to ask
20 whether there is the possibility that somebody might have changed plans
21 really doesn't advance any -- any probative interest in the case. The
22 answer is that there's always a possibility. There is a possibility of
23 many, many different things and so I think, despite the fact that the
24 witness has answered the question, I have made the objection just so the
25 Trial Chamber is aware.
1 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you. The question is answered, indeed.
2 Mr. Tolimir, please carry on.
3 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. Thank you,
4 Mr. Vanderpuye. This witness commanded the battalion during a period of
5 18 days, and he knew; he did not assume things.
6 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
7 Q. Did you know that your soldiers were protesting because of the
8 deployment of Muslims within Orahovac?
9 A. Yes, I did. That's how I found out that they came, because it
10 was a man from this particular village who protested. He was up at the
11 defence line as a member of the 2nd Company. His family lives in
12 Orahovac close to the school.
13 Q. Did you personally protest by means of telephone calls to the
14 brigade command when you found out about it?
15 A. I protested. If at the time I had the possibility to get in
16 touch with the Chief of Staff or the brigade commander, then I probably
17 would have protested about the fact that somebody brought them into this
18 area. And I explained why I would have made such a protest.
19 Q. Did Drago Nikolic tell you that he was surprised by the fact that
20 they were brought there and that he expected them to be exchanged?
21 A. Exactly what I said in my statement, that is exactly what he told
23 Q. Are these your assumptions or is this based on actual facts and
25 A. These are actual facts. We spoke about it, and I remember it.
1 Q. I asked you, as the commander of the battalion, were you also
2 able to see, based on some other events that took place at the same time
3 and based on what you learned as acting commander, is it possible that
4 somebody changed the decision about those prisoners, the decision that
5 they should be exchanged, after they arrived into your zone?
6 A. After my conversation with Drago Nikolic, there was probably some
7 sort of change, if all this is true.
8 Q. Thank you.
9 JUDGE FLUEGGE: May I interrupt you for a moment, Mr. Tolimir?
10 On page 22, lines 8 through 11, I need a clarification. Sir, you were
11 asked by Mr. Tolimir if you protested, and your answer was:
12 "I protested. If at that time I had the possibility to get in
13 touch with the Chief of Staff of the -- or the brigade commander, then
14 I probably would have protested about the fact."
15 Did you protest or would you have liked to protest but you
16 didn't? I don't understand that. What really, in fact, did you do at
17 that time?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I asked the duty officer what was
19 going on. Now, exactly what kind of answer I received from him and
20 whether exactly it was the duty officer or somebody else, I was not able
21 to judge. I already said that I asked to speak to the chief of the
22 brigade because I wanted to ask him what was going on. I received the
23 same response. I was told that he was in the zone of Kamenica and
24 Snagovo. So in this moment, I simply didn't have a way to protest or to
25 complain to anybody.
1 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I can take it that the first part of your
2 previous answer, "I protested," was not correct.
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, it can be interpreted as me
4 not protesting because I didn't know what was going on. I first asked
5 the duty officer at the operations room what was going on because
6 I didn't know what was being done. I didn't even know that they had
7 come, until I was told by the person I called, in order to ask them about
8 what was going on in Orahovac.
9 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Who was the chief of the brigade at that moment?
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Vinko Pandurevic was at the head of
11 the brigade, and the chief was Dragan Obrenovic.
12 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you. Mr. Tolimir, please carry on.
13 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour, and thank
14 you, Witness. My apologies for bringing you in -- putting you in this
15 spot, as it were, by my question -- by putting these questions to you.
16 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
17 Q. Let me ask you, the battalion commander, when you -- when you
18 called the duty officer, did you, as a battalion commander, have any
19 other option other than to call the operations office and the duty
20 officer at the brigade? Thank you.
21 A. Well, it was standard practice that any queries that we had, that
22 had to do with the brigade, we would have to put through the duty
23 officer. In spite of the fact that I was battalion commander it was not
24 standard practice for me to get in touch directly with the brigade
25 commander or the chief. We would always submit our requests or queries
1 through the duty officer and that's how we would request to get in touch
2 with them, either by phone or in person where they would come to see us
3 or we would go and see them.
4 Q. Thank you. Could you tell the Trial Chamber whether this
5 practice of the subordinates to communicate with their superiors via the
6 duty officer, was that the practice that was put in place by the brigade
7 command or by the subordinates?
8 A. Well, it was put in place by the brigade command. We were told
9 that that's what we should do and that's how we always did it.
10 Q. Thank you. Could you tell us whether this was done to prevent
11 people from calling all the time and actually interfering with the work
12 of the commander, that that's why they would have to go through the duty
14 A. Well, probably because of that, because the brigade command and
15 the chief of the command, they had other responsibilities that had to do
16 with other battalions, with the corps, other brigades, so that we
17 couldn't just interrupt them all the time, and a lot of information was
18 relayed to us through the duty officer and if there was an urgent matter
19 that needed to be resolved, we would ask the duty officer as to whether
20 we could contact, get in touch with either the brigade commander or the
22 Q. Thank you. Now, when at their request you sent ten of your
23 soldiers in order to stand guard at the school, did you do this because
24 it was necessary because you wanted to actually appease the concern that
25 the people from the village had?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. After this, did the protests and the revolt that you could see
3 from the conscripts who were within your battalion and who wanted to go
4 home, did it end after you've done this?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Thank you. In your interview that we saw before us, did you
7 explain to the investigators and the Prosecutors about the channel
8 through which you had to communicate with your superiors and how you put
9 questions about what was going on in Orahovac? Thank you.
10 A. Which superiors are you referring to?
11 Q. I'll be specific. Did the investigator ask you whether you had
12 ever discussed the circumstances and the events at the Orahovac school
13 with Obrenovic? Thank you.
14 A. After all of this ended, and after I was demobilised, Obrenovic
15 came to the village to see me.
16 Q. My apologies. Could you please just answer my question with a
17 "yes" or "no", and then tell us what you did?
18 A. Well, that's what I was trying to do.
19 Q. Well, we'll miss your answer.
20 A. Well, yes, I did discuss this with him. Do you want me now to
21 explain what it was that we talked about?
22 Q. Well, I'm not asking you about that but if you feel that you want
23 to, you can tell us. So you did have occasion to see him.
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Thank you. For the benefit of the Trial Chamber and the
1 Prosecutor, let me just say that this conversation that you had with
2 Obrenovic was something that was mentioned on pages 27 and 28 of your
3 statement, 1D557, where we can see that you didn't try to conceal
4 anything and that you said as much to -- during this interview with the
5 investigators. Is that so?
6 A. Well, could I just see it before me?
7 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Could we please pull up 1D557 in
8 e-court for the benefit of the witness? That's page 28. Here we have
9 the statement. We see it on the right-hand side. And that will be page
10 21 in English, and I thank Aleksandar for this. Paragraph 1. In
11 English, that's the last paragraph and in Serbian that's the first
12 paragraph on the page.
13 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I was told that there is -- that there are only
14 seven pages in English.
15 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you. I may have misspoken.
16 I should have asked for 1D556 and I said 1D557. Thank you, and my
17 apologies to e-court. Could we now please pull up page 28 in Serbian?
18 That's fine. It isn't? No, we don't see that exchange here.
19 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
20 Q. Witness, you could read on the page, and that's in the first
21 paragraph in Serbian and the last paragraph in English, where we can see
22 that you did talk about this issue, both with the Prosecutor and with
23 your superiors. Now, if you've read the paragraph, can I put the
24 question to you?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Thank you. In the course of this interview with the
2 investigator, were you asked by the Prosecutor about these events and did
3 he ask you about your conversation with Obrenovic about them?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Thank you. Did you tell the Prosecutor that you actually had
6 talked with Obrenovic about these events? Thank you.
7 A. Yes. This conversation was about something else, but I asked him
8 about the development -- the events in Baljkovica during combat and in
9 Orahovac and he told me on that occasion that he hadn't known anything
10 about what was going on in Orahovac.
11 Q. Thank you. Now I would like to move on to another statement of
12 yours about these events during the period when you were acting
13 commander, and if you have something to add, would you please do so now,
14 because I frequently interrupted you and actually abbreviated your
15 answers, as it were.
16 A. Well, no, that's all I had to say. You can go on with your
18 Q. Thank you. Could we now please pull in e-court the document that
19 I requested a little earlier, 1D557?
20 JUDGE FLUEGGE: In the meantime, I would like to put a question
21 to the witness to clarify one answer. On page 23 -- 20, line 23, you
22 were asked by Mr. Tolimir -- no, sorry, by Mr. Vanderpuye, "Your soldiers
23 on the line, were they surprised and did they protest about it?" -- no,
24 it's during cross-examination, of course, by Mr. Tolimir. Please switch
25 off your microphone for a moment. And you were asked by Mr. Tolimir:
1 "Your soldiers on the line, were they surprised, did they protest
2 about it."
3 And you said, "They were surprised and they didn't like the fact
4 that the prisoners were brought to Orahovac."
5 What happened with these soldiers? What did they do? Were they
6 discussing with you or what happened?
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] They were on the front line and
8 I was at the battalion command. They asked me what was going on in
9 Orahovac and why won't you tell us? I told them that I didn't know
10 anything about it, that I would check and let them know. They told me
11 then, "Let us know because we want to leave the front line. We want to
12 go to our village to defend our children and our wives." This posed a
13 big problem for me because they were in the central part of the area of
14 responsibility of my battalion, deployed in several trenches at a
15 critical point where there was a small river, a stream, rather, and
16 I realised, because I didn't know anything about any Muslim deployments
17 in front or on the other side of our area of responsibility, I knew that
18 I would have a major problem if they were to leave the front line and I
19 had no way of stopping them because the terrain around Baljkovica is very
20 remote and very difficult to negotiate, so that later on I sought answers
21 from others, I asked about this, and I asked others about what was going
22 on down there so that they actually remained on the front line, they did
23 not desert it. Now, what kind of conversation they may have had amongst
24 them, I don't know, because I wasn't there but they were probably
25 protesting and they were probably criticising everything because they
1 were afraid for their own families.
2 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you for that. Would you call that a
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, had I been there on the spot,
5 I probably would have known, judging by what they were saying, whether
6 this was a revolt or not, but there was a threat that they relayed to the
7 battalion that they would do this unless they were given true
8 information. Well, I don't know how better to describe this.
9 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much. Sorry for interrupting you,
10 Mr. Tolimir. Now the document you requested is on the screen. Please
12 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. You have
13 actually made our job easier because we were -- I was going to request
14 that document, page 3 of the document, paragraph 3, where the witness is
15 describing exactly what he's just told us now and this was documented on
16 the day when he provided his statement to the competent authorities about
17 the developments and the revolt of his soldiers because of prisoners of
18 war having been brought to their village. That's on page 4 in English,
19 lines 1 through 16.
20 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
21 Q. In line 14 you say the following and I quote:
22 "I reported to 2nd Infantry Company that I would keep them
23 informed and that they shouldn't leave the front line. And that I had
24 sent men to help with defending -- with the defence of the village. Half
25 of the men of the Intervention Platoon had remained in order to provide
1 support to the sector of the Baljkovac area." Now my question is this:
2 Are these your words? Did you say this while you were giving your
3 statement in 2003 in Banja Luka?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. What you say here, is that consistent with the events in that
6 sector when you sent a portion of the Intervention Platoon at the request
7 of Trbic?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. In combat, would any request from a combatant providing defences
10 on the line, would you have to respond to that in order for them not to
11 leave the line, the front line?
12 A. Well, I don't know whether you had to do that or not, but
13 however -- it was required, it was incumbent upon us to do that. We had
14 to help the people who were deployed on the front lines. That's what we
15 were there for. And I felt that it was my duty to help these men,
16 whatever the situation may be, because they were in the forward lines of
17 the front line.
18 Q. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President. I don't want to dwell on
19 this issue any longer because you provided an extensive answer. Can we
20 move to page 4 of this statement of yours in e-court? Paragraph 1. Line
21 2 through 10. Thank you. We can see it on our screens. I will read the
22 beginning of the sentence so you know where we are and I'm quoting:
23 "At around 1330 hours, Major Obrenovic came to the battalion
24 command." That's page 6 in English. "Major Obrenovic arrived, as did
25 Captain Milano Jolovic. A Praga arrived with a crew," et cetera. The
1 last two lines read, "The attack lasted all day and until the following
2 day, 1200 hours, when we left the command post and withdrew towards
4 Is what you are describing here related to the 15th and 16th of
5 July 1995?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Did you suffer from this attack from both the front line and the
8 rear on this day that you are describing here?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Who was it who attacked you from the front line?
11 A. The intervention units of the 2nd Corps of the BH Army.
12 Q. Thank you. Why did their attack ensue on this particular day, if
13 you know, and what was the objective of the attack?
14 A. Well, the most probable objective was to secure a corridor for
15 the passage of the Muslims from Srebrenica in the direction of Nezluk.
16 Later on, we saw that the intended corridor had been marked out. The
17 point of the attack was to remove us from the area, from the dugouts
18 there, in order for them to have safe passage.
19 Q. You said that the purpose of the attack was to make their way
20 through. Now, who was it who attacked and was their purpose to take up
21 positions there, to capture the area? Please be precise.
22 A. The objective was for them to take control of our trenches, to
23 disperse our soldiers or to defeat them, from the 1st and parts of the
24 2nd Company because that was where they had designated the prospective
25 corridor that was to be opened for the passage of the Muslims from
2 Q. Thank you. You used the term "passage." Did the Muslims pass
3 through your area of responsibility or were they fighting their way
4 through in order to seize the trenches that were the first line of our
6 A. The Muslims were fighting their way to where our command was with
7 a view to destroying our command post and going beyond or crossing our
8 defence line. They had the support of the intervention units of the
9 BH Army from the 2nd Corps, from the other end of the front line.
10 Q. Can you tell us, was there also a breach of your lines from the
11 rear, from the direction of Srebrenica toward Nezluk?
12 A. Yes. There was a breach of our line because we had some 20
13 wounded soldiers, a couple of fatalities. They set our command post on
14 fire. When we retreated and we were compelled to retreat at 12 -- around
15 1200 hours of the 16th, they advanced toward the command post, they set
16 fire to the Praga, the command post and the buildings that we used as our
17 living quarters. Thereupon our commander, in agreement with a commander
18 who was stationed at Nezuk, reached a cease-fire agreement enabling the
19 group of Muslims to pass through.
20 Q. You say here that there was an attack, that the command post and
21 the Praga were set alight and so on and so forth. But did they have any
22 casualties in this attempt to break through your forces and link up with
23 the Muslim units beyond your front -- your positions?
24 A. Well, I do suppose that they suffered some casualties as well
25 because this was difficult terrain, mountainous, shells were landing,
1 there was gunfire. I don't know how many casualties they had, either
2 wounded or dead, because they took them along. They took whatever
3 vehicles they could pick up along the way, in order to transport them
4 further on.
5 Q. Thank you. Since they transported these combat vehicles
6 including casualties, did they also take along any of the soldiers that
7 they may have taken prisoner from the command post that they had set on
9 A. After they had passed through, when our soldiers were gathering
10 the dead, I saw the dead bodies lined up in a meadow before they were
11 loaded on to TAMs. I was asked whether there were any of my men from my
12 battalion, what I was able to see were dead bodies only without the
13 presence of any weapons so I don't know what became of the weapons.
14 Q. Can you tell us -- you said when "our" men were gathering the
15 dead, who precisely was gathering them and the dead, they were members of
16 which units?
17 A. Let me just explain that the TAM was the property of the unit of
18 the Drina Wolves, in other words what I wanted to say was that the person
19 calling to me didn't know who the dead bodies were.
20 Q. [No interpretation]
21 THE INTERPRETER: Can Mr. Tolimir please repeat his question
22 because they are overlapping? Thank you.
23 THE WITNESS: [No interpretation]
24 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I have to stop you, I'm very sorry, the question
25 was not very well recorded and interpreted because of overlapping again.
1 Repeat the question, please. Then the answer. And then we must have our
2 first break.
3 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
4 Q. Can you tell us who was collecting dead bodies in the area of
5 responsibility of your battalion? Was it the Muslim or the Serb side?
6 And where were the dead bodies taken to?
7 A. After the Muslims passed?
8 Q. Which passage are you referring to?
9 A. No. What I meant was that the Muslims had passed through and we
10 were mopping up the area stretching between the location of our command
11 post and the front lines. So there was a unit of the Drina Wolves which
12 happened there because they had had their men fighting over there and
13 they were gathering along the way all the dead bodies that they could
14 find, and ultimately they placed them in a meadow before loading them on
15 to a TAM. At that point they asked me if any of the dead used to belong
16 to my battalion because they didn't know them. What they did next was
17 that they transported these bodies by the TAM to the Zvornik Brigade.
18 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, Mr. Tolimir, Mr. Tolimir. Sorry,
19 nothing could be heard by the interpreters, the interpretation didn't
20 stop yet. You started immediately again with your next question. Nobody
21 can hear that. And I indicated earlier we must have the first break now.
22 You should consider your next -- the course of your cross-examination
23 and, please, no overlapping.
24 We resume at 11.00.
25 --- Recess taken at 10.31 a.m.
1 --- On resuming at 11.02 a.m.
2 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes, Mr. Tolimir, please be aware of the need to
3 be very slow and to pause between question and answer. Carry on, please.
4 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, and I apologise to the
5 interpreters once more for the difficulties we had in the latter
7 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
8 Q. Witness, tell us: Following the breakthrough by the enemy which
9 breached your defence line, was it the Muslim army or the Serbian army
10 that collected dead bodies?
11 A. Well, the Muslims collected theirs and the Serbs collected their
13 Q. Thank you. Did you oversee the gathering of the casualties by
14 Serbian soldiers?
15 A. No. I wasn't able to see them do that.
16 Q. Thank you. Does this mean that the enemy soldiers gathered their
17 dead and took them along as they passed through your territory?
18 A. I believe so. It was when we -- during this activity, we would
19 receive word from our own soldiers of the casualties that we had and
20 wherever we went in the area of Baljkovica where the command post was
21 situated, and there about, we never came across a single Muslim casualty.
22 Q. And as you were searching the terrain for casualties, did you
23 find any Muslim victims in the area?
24 A. No.
25 Q. Now, geographically speaking, how far did the Muslim column
1 stretch that passed through your area of responsibility?
2 A. Do you mean which particular geographical area they traversed?
3 Q. I'd like to know where they were able to collect their dead. In
4 other words, when the truce came into force, where was the head and where
5 was the rear of the Muslim column?
6 A. They were moving from Potocani -- Potocari across Baljkovica
7 where our command post was, across Jeremica hill in the direction of
9 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye?
10 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. I think we have an
11 interpretation issue. The location that the witness identified is
12 Potocani with an N, not Potocari with an R.
13 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Is that correct, Mr. Ristic? You were talking
14 about Potocani? Correct?
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, Potocani near Baljkovica.
16 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you, Mr. Tolimir.
17 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you.
18 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
19 Q. Were you aware of any of the developments taking place at the
20 time outside of your area of responsibility and beyond your rear?
21 A. We knew the extent that we were told in the telegram radioed to
22 us by the Zvornik Brigade.
23 Q. Thank you. Please answer this question: At which geographical
24 point was the rear of the Muslim column at a point when they were allowed
25 passage through the corridor?
1 A. At my positions, which is the point where the 4th and the 6th
2 Battalions met, after we left Baljkovica and the command, from my vantage
3 point I was able to see Jeremica hill and a part of our command without
4 the rear. In other words I was able to see the house that we used as our
5 headquarters. So I couldn't see the length of the column but I did see
6 them as they were passing by in great numbers across the Jeremica hill.
7 I couldn't see the rest because the view was obstructed by the hill. So
8 I couldn't see the stretch beyond Jeremica hill all the way to Potocani.
9 Q. Thank you. In order for us to understand and for Their Honours
10 to understand, can you tell us what the length of the column was as you
11 saw it pass through the area of responsibility of your battalion and how
12 long did it take for them to traverse the area?
13 A. From my vantage point, I was able to assess its length at some
14 500 metres, so that was its approximate length. And the width was at
15 times up to 20 metres. Later on we were able to observe the track along
16 which they passed where the grass had been trodden upon. Now, how long
17 did it take them to move along, I don't know, perhaps an hour, perhaps
19 Q. Thank you. But if you could recall the time it took for them to
20 pass through would be -- because that would be important, 500 metres
21 could be travelled in ten minutes but could be travelled in more.
22 A. They were on foot, in a column, so they weren't very fast. It
23 took them maybe around one hour. And maybe I also wasn't present there
24 the whole time because I had to report to the brigade commander. He was
25 in the area of Delici. I was tasked to go across Crni Vrh and pass
1 through the positions of our 7th Battalion to reach the 3rd Company so
2 that after the Muslims had passed from Srebrenica we could then
3 re-establish the line as it was before.
4 Q. Thank you. Now, in order for us, the participants in these
5 proceedings, to understand the events that you're testifying about, you
6 should tell us who ordered you to stop fighting, to begin a truce, who
7 was it who allowed the Muslims to pass through your zone of
9 A. Major Obrenovic was with me. He was in command of that operation
10 in Baljkovica. He was ordered to do that, as I heard personally, by the
11 commander of the Zvornik Brigade, Vinko [Realtime transcript read in
12 error "Niko"] Pandurevic. He said that the column should be left to pass
13 through and that nobody should open fire until everybody passed. And we
14 obeyed this order.
15 JUDGE FLUEGGE: May I put a question for clarification? You
16 said, Mr. Ristic, on page 38, line 9 and 10, "It took them maybe around
17 one hour." What does that mean? One hour to get from where to where?
18 Could you please clarify that?
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] From Potocari to Nezuk. Because
20 from Potocari to the Jeremica hill, there is one to one and a half
21 kilometre, and then there is another 500 metres across the Jeremica hill,
22 then they had to go down towards a stream, towards Nezuk, and since it
23 was a large column, they couldn't really move very fast. Also, there
24 were some other people who were catching up with the column as they went,
25 so that's why the corridor was closed only the day after, in the
1 afternoon because not everybody was in Potocari. Some people would pass
2 later so we waited for them to pass through as well.
3 JUDGE FLUEGGE: You said you couldn't see the full length of the
4 column. From where to where did you have sight on the column? Which
5 part of this full passage from Potocari to Nezuk you could see?
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I was watching from our trenches at
7 Parlog and I was looking at the Jeremica hill and our line of defence.
8 Its length was about 500 metres. I have to apologise because this is
9 just my estimation. I think it was around 500 metres. So I observed the
10 column for a while. I was also resting there. So I spent some half an
11 hour to one hour there and all that time I was observing the column
12 passing by. And then I was called and tasked with another task. Had
13 they not called me I would probably stayed there and watched it until the
15 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much. Mr. Vanderpuye?
16 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. I'm on my feet only
17 for a couple of minor issues. One was with respect to the references in
18 page 39, I have it as line 6 through 12 to Potocari, again it's the same
19 issue, I think it should read Potocani with an N. And also on page 38,
20 line 23, the reference to Pandurevic should be Vinko definitively and not
21 Niko, N-i-k-o.
22 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much.
23 Mr. Tolimir, carry on, please.
24 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
25 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
1 Q. Can you give us the exact date and the exact time, if you know,
2 when the corridor was open to allow the Muslim column to pass and also
3 the exact date and the exact time when the corridor was closed? You said
4 that it took one day and one night. So can we have it more precise?
5 A. The corridor was opened on the 16th of July 1995, between 13 and
6 1400 hours. It was closed on the 17th of July in the afternoon. I'm not
7 able to give you more precise time. It was afternoon, it was summer, so
8 maybe it was even 1600 or 1700 hours.
9 Q. Thank you. Now, did they all pass through the zone of
10 responsibility of your battalion, your unit?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Did you receive any favour from the Muslims for the fact that you
13 opened this corridor or was it simply an intermission in combat
14 activities? Thank you.
15 A. I heard a conversation between Vinko Pandurevic and their
16 commander, Semso Muminovic. They talked through Captain Jolovic's
17 Motorola. And the counter-favour was that they would return all the
18 prisoners from our side that the Muslims in Srebrenica had. That's
19 exactly what happened. They caught one of our mortar men and they
20 returned him. So this Semso was I don't know exactly at what place but I
21 have to say that this person was returned the same day. He called us up,
22 told us that he had one captured soldier and that we should come and take
23 him over. That's what we did.
24 Q. Thank you. So was it the only counter-favour, they only released
25 this one person for all those people who went through your zone?
1 A. This is what I know. Now, whether there was something else,
2 whether something else was agreed, I don't know. The only thing that I
3 know that the one person who surrendered to our command on the 16th,
4 around 1700 hours, was from one of the detachments from Srebrenica, and
5 then when Major Obrenovic asked him, How many of you are there, he
6 replied in writing because he was unable to speak that there was 5.000
7 civilians and 2.000 men of military age.
8 Q. Thank you. Did your soldiers -- did your battalion determine how
9 many armed people passed through your zone during this movement of the
11 A. It was hard to determine that because they were hiding, this
12 column was trying not to be observed. The following day, in the zone of
13 Poljane when we had to re-establish the line, I was able to observe and
14 other people saw it too, that around our command, a large number of armed
15 Muslim soldiers passed. Now, I cannot say whether they were from
16 Srebrenica or whether they came from the 2nd Corps, having heard that the
17 passage had been opened, but there were many of them and they also passed
18 without being hindered towards Nezuk.
19 Q. In order for the participants in these proceedings to understand
20 that the Muslim army passed through your defence zone, and you were not
21 able to count them, are we to understand that they didn't go in single
22 file but in groups?
23 A. I told you a moment ago that later on we went to check their
24 traces. We even tried to measure what was the width of the footpath that
25 they used in their passage and it was about 20 metres.
1 Q. Thank you. So I understood that you said that the footpath was
2 20 metres wide but what was the width of the corridor, the corridor that
3 your soldiers were not allowed to enter? Thank you.
4 A. The width of the corridor was around one kilometre, because you
5 know there is one part from Rijeka Baljkovacka that we hadn't occupied
6 because it's a swamp and it's very close to the river,
7 Rijeka Baljkovacka. So we moved one company or two squads which were
8 there so if you take all this into account, I think that the width would
9 be around one kilometre.
10 Q. Was there any damage to any Serbian settlement caused by the
11 movement of the column across this axis?
12 A. No. The only Serbian area there is Baljkovica. It had been
13 destroyed earlier in 1992 so the only thing there was the defence line.
14 There wasn't a single Serbian village from Crni Vrh to Nezluk.
15 Q. Thank you. Were there any military conscripts or civilians from
16 the village of Baljkovica who lost their lives during the period that the
17 Muslim armed column was passing through your defence zone?
18 A. I cannot remember whether there was somebody from Baljkovica. I
19 know some people who were casualties in that area. So during their
20 passage and later, because there were some groups that were a bit late,
21 we lost about 20 people and though some were wounded, I think in total we
22 had about 40 people until the end of it, including military police as
23 well. People from Vukovi Sa Drine and the 7th Battalion which was on our
24 left side.
25 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Judge Nyambe has a question.
1 JUDGE NYAMBE: Thank you, Mr. President. I just wanted, if you
2 can explain for me, the difference -- in the context of your testimony,
3 the difference between - hang on - the footpath and the corridor. And
4 I ask this question in the context of what you said at page 42, line 8,
5 which is as follows:
6 "We even tried to measure what was the width of the footpath."
7 And then in line 13, you say, "The width of the corridor was
8 around one kilometre."
9 So what's the difference between the footpath and the corridor in
10 the context of that testimony? Thank you.
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] There is a difference. The
12 corridor is the zone of the 1st Company. The corridor itself had to be
13 wider so that our soldiers would not be close to the people in the
14 column. Otherwise there could be skirmishes and, you know, brawls and
15 other things. That is why we opened the corridor so wide so that those
16 who were passing through it could pass through it without hindrance.
17 JUDGE NYAMBE: All right. So where was the footpath, in the
18 middle of your corridor or on the side?
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It was first on the side, because
20 they were trying to hide behind the hill, and then later on, which axis
21 they took, I wouldn't know. Closer to our line they were relatively near
22 the river. I don't know whether some of them knew the territory or not,
23 but there were very, very few dugouts in that area, only one, so I assume
24 that near Poljane they tried to avoid our people. Then on the other
25 segment, the path was marked because we saw it later and they had their
1 own people who took them over and escorted them to Nezluk.
2 JUDGE NYAMBE: Thank you.
3 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir.
4 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
5 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
6 Q. Mr. Ristic, we are using different terms here, a corridor, a
7 passage, a footpath. So can you tell us could we say that until the
8 truce was in effect we can talk about the breakthrough, and after that we
9 can talk about the corridor within which there were footpaths used by
10 them to actually pass?
11 A. Well, we had to leave the command. Until that moment we can talk
12 about the breakthrough. We had to leave it because of the attack of the
13 Muslim forces from Srebrenica. So we withdrew involuntarily and that
14 part from the command up to our line, it's about 300 metres, that part
15 was later on opened as the corridor. And they managed to break through
16 all the way to the point 300 metres from our line.
17 Q. Thank you. Maybe my question was not precise. When the
18 Prosecutor asked you, he used certain terms, he said the Muslim column
19 passed and he even added that it passed with great casualties. Does that
20 point to the conclusion that we are confusing the breakthrough and the
21 open corridor? Up to the truce it was a breakthrough, and after the
22 truce, it was the corridor. Would you be willing to call it a corridor
23 before the truce?
24 A. They did not break through the defence lines, they just destroyed
25 the command and then Commander Pandurevic and Semso Muminovic on the
1 other side agreed that a corridor should be opened up. Now, whether
2 Pandurevic knew or did not know that the command had fallen and why that
3 was done in the way it was, I don't know anything about that.
4 Q. Thank you. Can you tell us, please, whether you know what the
5 overall losses in the area of responsibility of the Zvornik Brigade were
6 and whether they were higher than the losses in the combat and the
7 fighting of your units within a month or an annual period?
8 A. Well, I learned later on that there were some 40 or 42
9 fatalities, members of the Zvornik Brigade, that those were the losses.
10 Now, whether that was the biggest loss, I wouldn't really know. I don't
11 know what the situation was like in other theatres of war. But I know
12 for sure that our losses were 40 or 42 dead.
13 Q. Thank you. Please tell us how many dead did you have within your
14 battalion in the course of 1995, not including those who were killed
15 during the fighting to establish or open up the corridor? Thank you.
16 A. We didn't have losses. In the four years of fighting in that
17 area, this was the first and the biggest battle that we fought in this
18 area where I was deployed.
19 Q. Thank you. What about the other units that were defending
20 Republika Srpska and that were deployed in the same positions where you
21 were deployed? Did they have bigger losses in those four years of
22 fighting than on this one single day?
23 A. Well, I really don't know. I don't have that information. I
24 don't know what the brigade losses were. I wasn't privy to such
25 information, and I didn't inquire about it, and I don't know what
1 happened in other theatres of war, so I can't really give you a precise
3 Q. Thank you. I'm sorry, I wasn't accurate enough in my question.
4 I'm not asking you about the total brigade losses. I'm asking you about
5 the total losses on this portion of the front line where you were
6 defending yourself against the Muslim army. Were there any bigger losses
7 incurred or suffered by your brigade than on that one single day?
8 A. No. There wasn't -- there weren't any bigger losses, as far as
9 the Zvornik Brigade is concerned.
10 Q. Thank you. Please tell us, as battalion commander, were these
11 the most -- was this the most intense fighting in your area of
12 responsibility? In other words, when they were breaking through and
13 advancing and you were also being attacked from the rear?
14 A. This was the most intense fighting in the period that I was there
15 in the 4th Infantry Battalion.
16 Q. Thank you. Mr. Ristic, I thank you for your answers. And I have
17 no further questions for you. My cross-examination is complete.
18 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] And, Your Honour, I would like to
19 tell you too that I have no further questions for this witness and I wish
20 the witness a safe trip home and may God bless you. Your Honour, I would
21 also like to tender D -- 1D556 and 1D557 into evidence. Thank you.
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you, too.
23 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much. Both documents will be
24 received as exhibits.
25 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, this document shall be assigned
1 exhibit numbers D149 and D150 respectively. Thank you.
2 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you. Mr. Vanderpuye, do you have
4 MR. VANDERPUYE: Do I have some redirect examination,
5 Mr. President, thank you.
6 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you for this correction. I mixed the
8 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you. It wasn't intended.
9 Re-examination by Mr. Vanderpuye:
10 Q. I think I just want to start off where General Tolimir's just
11 ended briefly, Mr. Ristic.
12 You've indicated that you -- your battalion, the position of your
13 battalion was attacked from the rear and also attacked from the front and
14 you were asked about the objectives of the attack from the front, that is
15 from the units of the 2nd Corps of the ABiH. Were you able to
16 re-establish the position, the original positions, of the defence lines
17 following the opening of the corridor?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. So it wasn't the case that they were seized or those positions
20 were actually taken by the ABiH 2nd Corps during the course of the
22 A. They withdrew from our trenches on the 17th in the afternoon,
23 most probably around 5.00 p.m., and we reentered our trenches without any
24 opposition, and we had occasion then to get quite close to them because
25 they were waiting to withdraw and we to retake our trenches. We could
1 even talk to them. We exchanged a few words. But there was no exchange
2 of fire.
3 Q. All right. And you also indicated in response to a question by
4 General Tolimir that the concession that you received, that is, the VRS
5 received, in exchange for the opening of the corridor was the return of a
6 prisoner. Is that right?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. Do you know who the prisoner was?
9 A. He was a member of the mortar crew. His name was Mile Tesic.
10 I'm sure about his last name but I believe his first name is Mile also,
11 so Mile Tesic.
12 Q. And do you know whether or not the VRS or the members of your
13 battalion or your brigade at any point from the time that you first
14 became aware that there were prisoners in the school until the time that
15 your commander returned on the 18th, exchanged any prisoner within its
17 A. I'm not aware of any exchanges of prisoners other than in the
18 area of my -- in my area of responsibility involving Mile Tesic.
19 Q. You were asked a number of questions about the possibility of
20 exchange, that is of the prisoners that were brought to the Orahovac
21 school or in the general area of your battalion. I want to ask you a
22 couple of questions about that, if I may. Would it be the case that you,
23 functioning as the commander of the 4th Battalion, should have been aware
24 of any exchange that was to take place in the area of responsibility of
25 the 4th Battalion, in advance of the exchange itself?
1 A. Chief Obrenovic and commander Pandurevic called me on that
2 occasion to ask me whether I knew whether there were any prisoners or any
3 missing men, whether my soldiers had seen that anyone was taken away and
4 that we should report that to their -- to them so that they could tell
5 their commander, Muminovic, so that that person could be returned. I was
6 told on that occasion that Boro Stojic, one of our men who was actually
7 leading a horse carrying food, that he was -- had been wounded and taken
8 over. I conveyed that to the commander and they were told that there was
9 no such man in their captivity. However, a few hours later that man
10 reappeared but whether he had just pretended he was dead or laid low in
11 the meantime or whatever had transpired in the meantime, I don't know,
12 but he did appear. That's all I was asked about and that's what I knew
13 was happening in the area of responsibility of my battalion.
14 Q. Just so we are clear this was after the 14th of July 1995 that
15 you're talking about, isn't it?
16 A. Yes, when the corridor was opened.
17 Q. In respect of the prisoners that were brought to the school, the
18 Orahovac school, had they been brought there for exchange, that is
19 something that you as the acting battalion commander, as the deputy
20 battalion commander, should known about or should have been told about;
21 isn't that right?
22 A. I've already explained why they should have told me, but as for
23 any exchanges or bringing in prisoners to Orahovac, I -- they didn't have
24 to inform me of that because that was not within my area of
25 responsibility. The Orahovac school was, according to their plans, in
1 the event of an attack on the Zvornik Brigade, that school was supposed
2 to be the headquarters of the Zvornik Brigade, and in the event of a
3 major attack or an attack on the command post, that area was reserved for
4 their use and we from the battalion had nothing to do with the school
5 building or that part of Orahovac, other than that Orahovac soldiers were
6 members of my battalion.
7 Q. I appreciate your answer, Mr. Ristic. But my question is
8 fundamentally this: Had those prisoners been brought to the Orahovac
9 school for the purposes of being exchanged across your defence lines,
10 isn't this something that should have been told to you in advance of
11 bringing them there or at the very least shortly after their arrival
13 A. Had there been any talk of exchanges to take place in our
14 territory, I would have probably been informed and instructed as to how
15 to provide security and how to carry that out. However, I assume that it
16 hadn't been planned to occur in that -- through that area, through that
17 area of responsibility. There was mention of Batkovic or another area, I
18 don't know, but there was no talk about any exchanges of prisoners of war
19 through our territory where I was deployed.
20 Q. Let me ask you this: Doesn't the fact that you, as the battalion
21 deputy commander, in charge of the battalion during that period of time,
22 doesn't the fact that you weren't told about an exchange tell you
23 something about whether any exchange was actually intended for the
24 prisoners in your area of responsibility?
25 A. There was probably no intention to carry out exchanges in my area
1 of responsibility because in the previous years of the war, it had never
2 been done in that area. I don't know why not but it never occurred
3 there. It was usually on a major road on the way to Tuzla or in
4 Bijeljina, but in the area where I was it was difficult -- that would
5 have been difficult because the terrain was very difficult.
6 Q. So from a military point of view, it would have been an
7 unsuitable location to conduct an exchange in any event? Is that fair to
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. You mentioned Batkovic how far is Batkovic camp from, let's say,
11 the Orahovac school, the area of Zvornik?
12 A. I think that Bijeljina is about 50 kilometres away from Zvornik.
13 Q. And about how far would that be in terms of time, were you to
14 travel from Zvornik to Bijeljina by road?
15 A. Well, that would depend on how you were travelling, but if you
16 were to go by bus, it would probably take an hour. If you were to travel
17 by car, probably faster.
18 Q. And of your -- well, in your knowledge or in your experience, are
19 you aware of exchanges that were conducted from Batkovic , that is of
20 prisoners that were held there, during the war?
21 A. I had heard earlier that there were exchanges in Batkovic, that's
22 what I heard, and I knew that there were exchanges in that area,
23 exchanges of prisoners, and there were smaller groups exchanged also in
24 Memici on the Zvornik-Tuzla communication.
25 Q. With respect to the exchange of prisoners in Batkovic, first of
1 all do you know whether prisoners were registered when they were held in
2 Batkovic, just generally?
3 A. I don't know anything about that. I don't know how that is done.
4 I don't have any knowledge.
5 Q. So you don't know anything about the ICRC registering prisoners
6 brought up to Batkovic that were subsequently exchanged, at all, during
7 the course of the war?
8 A. I heard later on, maybe even at that time, that the ICRC was
9 involved in this but I wasn't present so I don't know if that's how it
10 actually was done.
11 Q. On the information that you had on the 14th of July 1995, is
12 there any reason, militarily speaking, why an exchange could not have
13 been conducted from Batkovic or through Batkovic of the prisoners that
14 you -- that you gained knowledge of were being held in your area of
15 responsibility and in the area of responsibility of the brigade
17 A. I don't remember that there was any other fighting going on at
18 the time in the area of responsibility of the Zvornik or Bijeljina
19 brigades. The only thing going on at the time was in Srebrenica, in the
20 area of the Drina Corps. Now, why that wasn't carried out in that way, I
21 don't know.
22 Q. I want to ask you a few other questions concerning these
23 prisoners. You were asked by General Tolimir -- I don't have the exact
24 transcript reference but I think everyone will recall it -- a question
25 about whether it was possible that the plans changed in relation to these
1 prisoners essentially from the possibility of their exchange to
2 ultimately what was their execution. You may remember that and
3 I objected to that question. What I want to ask you about is you've
4 indicated in your prior testimony and again today that -- that you are
5 familiar with what Major Obrenovic has said about these prisoners. Is
6 that true?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. And I think you indicated in your prior testimony, and you'll
9 correct me if I'm wrong, that you actually read the statement of facts
10 that he gave in relation to his plea concerning the events at issue in
11 this case. Is that true?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. All right. Just bear with me one second. I'd like to show you
14 65 ter 7023.
15 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir?
16 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
17 Your Honour, I did not use Obrenovic's statement during the
18 cross-examination. So it cannot be used as the basis for re-examination.
19 And the reason I didn't use it is that this witness gave his own direct
20 answers to the questions put by the investigator as to why he did not
21 agree with the statement of facts as Obrenovic set them out in his
22 statement. So I would -- I think that this statement cannot be used for
23 re-examination on that basis.
24 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye?
25 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. I think -- well, let
1 me just say, General Tolimir is fundamentally incorrect about the usage
2 of the document. He put to the witness in no uncertain terms that there
3 was the possibility that these prisoners that had been brought to the
4 area of Zvornik were destined to be exchanged, that there was that
5 possibility, and the fact that they ended up all executed could have been
6 the result of a change in the plan. This document is directly responsive
7 to that. It is directly responsive to this witness's understanding of
8 the events that occurred during that period of time, and directly -- it
9 directly related to that possibility, that is the potential for a plan to
10 have changed or not have changed, which is exactly the issue that was
11 raised on cross-examination. Moreover, the statement that
12 General Tolimir has introduced into evidence concerning this witness's
13 prior statements directly address this particular statement of fact.
14 JUDGE FLUEGGE: One moment, please.
15 [Trial Chamber confers]
16 JUDGE FLUEGGE: The Chamber -- Mr. Tolimir, the Chamber has
17 discussed the positions and would like to rule on this. But you want to
18 add something? Please do it.
19 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. The basis
20 for my question to the witness was his statement on page 41 in Serbian
21 and page 31 in English, which is document 1D556, lines on the pages that
22 I just mentioned, 26 through 30. And I even quoted him. That was the
23 basis for what Mr. Nikolic told the witness, Mr. Ristic. That was the
24 foundation for my question, and not any additional statement that the
25 Prosecutor, Mr. Vanderpuye, has mentioned here. And that is why
1 I submitted my complaint. Thank you. Objection.
2 JUDGE FLUEGGE: We understood your position, Mr. Tolimir.
3 However, it is a typical situation in re-examination that a certain part
4 of the testimony during cross-examination may be challenged by other
5 documents than used during cross-examination. You were asking the
6 witness about his impression of a possible change of the intention of his
7 superiors in relation to these prisoners. And now, Mr. Vanderpuye is
8 dwelling on that and is using another document which the Chamber doesn't
9 know at the moment but the Chamber is of the view that it should be used
10 to deal with this part of cross-examination Mr. Vanderpuye was
12 Mr. Vanderpuye, please carry on.
13 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. I think I had asked
14 for 65 ter 7023 in e-court. All right. First I just want to clarify
15 with you that you have in fact read this statement of fact of
16 Dragan Obrenovic. I can see it here in the transcript of your interview
17 from 18th October, I believe it was 2005. I only have the English
18 reference but it's page 16 and it's D149 now in evidence, page 16 in the
19 English, where you've indicated that you read Obrenovic's statement on
20 the internet. First let me just clarify. This is the statement that you
21 read, isn't it?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. And can you tell us -- well, your interview was back in 2005 so
24 clearly you read it before then; is that fair to say? Can you tell us
25 approximately when?
1 A. I don't know when exactly. It may have been in 2004 or early
2 2005 that I had an opportunity to read the statement on line.
3 Q. All right.
4 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir?
5 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. Can
6 Mr. Vanderpuye say why the statement was made and in what context, now
7 that he's already using it as part of his redirect? Thank you.
8 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye, carry on, please.
9 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. I think those issues
10 will become very clear to General Tolimir in the context of the face. It
11 says on its face that it was submitted in the context of a plea agreement
12 between Dragan Obrenovic and the Office of the Prosecutor. It's written
13 there on the document itself so I think that's pretty clear.
14 Q. What I want to do is I want to point out a couple of things about
15 the statement to the witness. You see in the first paragraph Obrenovic
16 states that he became aware of the Muslim prisoners coming up to the
17 Zvornik area on the evening of 13 July 1995. He says he receives a phone
18 call at about 1900 from Lieutenant Drago Nikolic, and that Nikolic called
19 from the brigade's forward command post and told him that he had just
20 been telephoned by Lieutenant-Colonel Popovic. Let me stop right there
21 and ask you, do you know who Lieutenant-Colonel Popovic is -- or was back
22 in July of 1995, what his position was?
23 A. If that is the Popovic from the corps, I heard that he was a
24 security organ of the corps. At a time when I was still within the
25 security department I heard of a Popovic working in the security
1 department of the corps, if that is one and the same person.
2 Q. All right. He goes on to say that Drago Nikolic, relayed to him,
3 that is Obrenovic, that Popovic told him that a number of Muslim
4 prisoners were to arrive in Zvornik from Bratunac and that Drago Nikolic
5 was to make preparations for their arrival. He says he understood that a
6 huge number of Muslim prisoners, meaning thousands of Muslim prisoners --
7 that this was the number of individuals that was supposed to come up
8 there. And he says he received earlier in the day information that
9 thousands had been captured down in the Konjevic Polje area. He goes on
10 to say Drago Nikolic said that he had to be relieved from the forward
11 command post to carry out this task and he told Obrenovic that Popovic
12 was going to send someone to brief him in person and give him additional
13 information. He then says that he asked why the prisoners were not being
14 transported further north to the prisoner of war camp at Batkovici and
15 Nikolic tells him that they were not going to send the prisoners to
16 Batkovici because the Red Cross knew about Batkovici, and said that the
17 orders were that the prisoners were to be brought to Zvornik to be shot.
18 He then goes on to say that he told Drago Nikolic that we,
19 meaning the brigade, would not -- could not accept responsibility for the
20 task that he had just informed him of without informing the command and
21 that Drago Nikolic told him that the command already knew and that the
22 order came from Mladic and everyone including Pandurevic was aware of the
24 Having read this, Mr. Ristic, before being asked by
25 General Tolimir about the possibility that these prisoners would have
1 been exchanged on the 14th, doesn't this tell you that the prisoners were
2 in Orahovac to be shot and not to be exchanged, in clear and certain
4 A. I can give you my opinion of it all. If they were supposed to be
5 shot, then they could have been shot in Konjevic Polje and Kamenica areas
6 where there were no civilians, there was no army, or defence line to man.
7 Why would someone bring these people into an inhabited area close to the
8 front line within the area of responsibility or close to the area of
9 responsibility of the 2nd Corps when they had intercepted conversations
10 indicating that columns would be moving along Snagovo, Crni Vrh,
11 Krizevacke Njive, Baljevica [phoen] to Nezuk? It seemed an odd decision
12 to make, to bring these people over with an intention to shoot them. I
13 believe that the intention was for these people to be exchanged.
14 Q. So you're telling this Trial Chamber --
15 A. That somebody changed the plan.
16 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter notes that's what the witness
18 Q. So you're telling this Trial Chamber that with an army facing
19 your front and thousands of people, including armed individuals coming
20 from behind you, in a mountainous area, in a potentially militarily
21 vulnerable area in the area of Zvornik would have been a better place to
22 conduct an exchange? Is that what you're saying?
23 A. I don't know what your understanding of what I said was but
24 I didn't talk about the exchange in reference to this area. What I said
25 was that my belief was that they were to spend a short while in the
1 school because they -- the intention was to have them subsequently
2 exchanged. But what I said was that it would have been impracticable to
3 carry out exchanges of so many people in this mountainous area, with poor
4 communications, and it would have been a dangerous thing to attempt to do
5 something like that there.
6 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir?
7 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. My
8 apologies. I didn't want to interrupt earlier on. I don't want to leave
9 an impression that I don't want to analyse these facts. However, I don't
10 think it is appropriate to have this person and his brothers in arms
11 accused of something in reference to a statement that was part of a plea
12 agreement. I don't think the witness should be further examined on this
13 point. He gave his opinion and that's an end to it. Thank you.
14 JUDGE FLUEGGE: The Chamber has ruled on that. Please carry on,
15 Mr. Vanderpuye.
16 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President.
17 Q. What you've just said about the prisoners being held at the
18 school to be later exchanged was something that Drago Nikolic told you
19 about when you spoke to him about these prisoners, isn't that right?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. And, in fact, I think you said in your 18th October statement
22 that you spoke to Drago Nikolic some ten to 20 days after the events in
23 Orahovac. Does that sound about right to you?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Now, my question is: Did you know, first, that prisoners were
1 brought to the Orahovac school beginning on the evening of the 13th of
2 July 1995?
3 A. I didn't know that.
4 Q. Did you know that an execution of thousands -- of at least a
5 thousand individuals, Muslims, had occurred at the Kravica warehouse on
6 the evening/afternoon, late afternoon, I would say, of 13 July 1995?
7 A. I didn't know.
8 Q. Were you aware that Momir Nikolic stated that he had information
9 from Lieutenant-Colonel Popovic, security chief of the Drina Corps, that
10 there was an intention to separate out men, military-aged men, and for
11 them to be executed; on the 12th of July he had that information? Were
12 you aware of that?
13 A. I wasn't aware of that. I was positioned in an area far away
14 from all these events, and as I said, my command and my battalion were
15 exclusively occupied with the defence effort. Nobody conveyed the
16 information to me. I didn't seek information. And I didn't know what
17 was happening in relation to Srebrenica after its fall. Everything that
18 I knew came from the telegram we received, which said that the attack on
19 Srebrenica commenced, that it fell on the 12th of July, and my battalion
20 and I had no further information because we were up there at that
22 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir?
23 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Mr. President, the witness is being
24 asked about the statements given by individuals who entered into
25 agreements with the OTP rather than about his personal knowledge of the
1 events of the 13th and the 14th in the areas where he and his unit were
2 deployed. Thank you.
3 JUDGE FLUEGGE: The witness was asked about one statement given
4 by one individual, indeed that's true.
5 Please carry on, Mr. Vanderpuye.
6 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President.
7 Q. Did you know, Witness -- did you know that on the 13th of July,
8 when those prisoners began moving up into your area, the Orahovac school,
9 that elements of the UN were still down in the area of Srebrenica,
10 Potocari, Bratunac, Konjevic Polje, and other international organisations
11 as well? Did you know that?
12 A. I didn't know that at the time, but later on, through various
13 stories, I heard of the Dutch Battalion, I was able to read about some
14 things, but at that time, on the 13th, 14th, and the 15th, I didn't have
15 information about the goings on in Srebrenica. I didn't know anything.
16 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye, now I think you are in danger to
17 leave the area of topics addressed during cross-examination.
18 MR. VANDERPUYE: In danger, perhaps, but I don't think I'm quite
19 there yet. I can explain why.
20 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I'm always very careful in formulating this but
21 I haven't heard anything about these facts on international troops
22 present there.
23 MR. VANDERPUYE: Maybe the witness should remove his headphones,
24 if I may, I can explain to the Trial Chamber exactly the nature and the
25 relevance of this area of examination.
1 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I have no doubt that all this is relevant for the
2 case but the problem is we are now in re-examination.
3 MR. VANDERPUYE: And to redirect, I can explain that as well.
4 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Ristic, could you please take your ear-phones
5 off for a moment? Mr. Vanderpuye wants to address something for the
6 Chamber. Mr. Vanderpuye?
7 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, the
8 reason why this area of examination is directly germane to the
9 cross-examination is precisely because what General Tolimir has suggested
10 through the cross-examination is that the prisoners were brought first to
11 the school and during some period of time while they were at the school,
12 some plan developed to execute them which was not in place at the time
13 that they were brought there. I've asked the witness a number of
14 questions about that, you're correct, and he's answered those questions.
15 He's suggested in answering to one of those questions that there was the
16 possibility that these prisoners could have been shot in the area of
17 Konjevic Polje which is precisely the area that I'm now discussing, the
18 area south of Zvornik, where they were originally, Bratunac,
19 Konjevic Polje, and so on, that there was the possibility that if an
20 execution was intended it could be carried out there. He's now said that
21 he has information that during that same period of time, that area, in
22 that area, I should say, there were international organisations, the UN
23 was still there, there was an area that was under observation of the
24 international community which is what I'm establishing at this point.
25 Which does not support the idea that if an execution were to have been
1 intended, it could have been carried out in the area that the witness has
2 suggested it might otherwise have been. That's the nature of the issue.
3 And that I think responds directly to General Tolimir's general question
4 whether or not there was a change of plan between the time that the
5 prisoners were sent to the area of Zvornik and the time that they were
6 ultimately executed.
7 JUDGE FLUEGGE: The Chamber will consider the situation.
8 [Trial Chamber confers]
9 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye, we considered your position,
10 including your explanation why you put this question to the witness.
11 I think the way you have put the -- this question is not appropriate
12 during re-examination. If you rephrase your question and refer exactly
13 to what the witness has answered earlier during the re-examination,
14 especially to this sentence, "If they were supposed to be shot then they
15 could have been slot in Konjevic Polje and Kamenica areas where there are
16 no civilians." If you relate your question to this area, then there is a
17 link to be seen by everybody, by the parties and even the witness. The
18 way you put the question was very surprising and I think you should
19 rephrase it to get a proper answer in the course of your re-examination.
20 Now I would like to ask the witness to take the ear-phones again.
21 Mr. Vanderpuye, I was referring to the answer of the witness,
22 page 58, lines 12 through 21, especially the first three or four lines.
23 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you very much, Mr. President. And I do
24 appreciate it. I didn't have the specific transcript reference in front
25 of me when I put the question but I think I can probably frame it a bit
2 Q. Mr. Ristic, when I asked you about the statement of facts of
3 Dragan Obrenovic, and in particular I asked you whether what you could
4 read from the first four paragraphs of the document makes it clear that
5 the prisoners that were brought to Orahovac were brought there to be
6 shot, you responded that -- you said:
7 "I can give you my opinion of it all. If they were supposed to
8 be shot they could have been shot in Konjevic Polje and Kamenica areas
9 where there were no civilians. There was no army or defence lines to
11 And what I'm asking you about now is, having said that, did you
12 know that in the areas where you said that they could have been shot,
13 that there were still elements of the UN, or other international
14 organisations, at that time? Did you know that?
15 A. No. I didn't know where these -- any of these parties were
16 located. I told you that this was my opinion but now I do see that there
17 is a problem there. But nevertheless, I still claim that they were not
18 supposed to be taken to the area of Orahovac.
19 Q. All right. I want to show you 65 ter 2579. Actually, let me
20 change that. Let me show you a different document instead. It's P00014
21 and what I want to show you is page 124 in the B/C/S and page 5 in the
22 English. Before I get to the point of my -- of this document, let me
23 just ask you a couple of questions.
24 You were asked on redirect in response to the direct examination,
25 about your knowledge of the executions that took place in Orahovac in
1 particular, I asked you some questions about the area in which an
2 exhumation was conducted that you became aware of subsequently. Do you
3 recall that?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. And are you aware that the executions in Orahovac were followed
6 by the burial, the creation of a mass grave and the burial of the
7 individuals that were executed?
8 A. Can you please repeat your question?
9 Q. Are you aware that the prisoners that were killed in Orahovac
10 were buried in a mass grave? That a grave was dug out and that they were
11 buried in it?
12 A. Yes. I did say that I saw it when it was dug up by members of
13 SFOR or IFOR, I don't know who was there at the time.
14 Q. What I'm showing you here is an entry in the duty officer logbook
15 of the Zvornik Brigade. You were asked some questions about the purpose
16 of the duty officer by General Tolimir, do you remember that?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. In particular, you indicated that the duty officer basically
19 fielded issues because the commander couldn't respond to every issue that
20 came to the brigade command. And that's a paraphrase but is that roughly
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. This is an entry in the duty officer's logbook for the
24 Zvornik Brigade from 13 July, it's the Prosecution's position that it is
25 a 13 July entry, for -- for the benefit of the Trial Chamber, we will
1 obviously introduce evidence to substantiate that. And in this
2 particular entry, I'll refer you to I think it's at the bottom of the
3 page, it indicates here, "Vukotic needs to call Aco and Aco" - you can
4 see there is an arrow, it says, it looks like "Dzafin Kamen needs to be
5 dispatched to the 4th Battalion." Do you see that entry? It's just
6 above the last paragraph of the page and the sentence begins with
7 "Vukotic." Do you see it?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Below that you see an entry that states, "Stevo Kostic to get in
10 contact with Aco" and then it says, "President of the municipality,
11 Mitrovic, called and asked that the flat bed trailer" - and then you can
12 see it says, "Beara" - Colonel Beara, crossed out - "be sent to Bratunac
13 to bring a bulldozer, 1.000, Colonel Beara passed on the message."
14 Do you see that?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. The use of a bulldozer during that period of time, it is the
17 position of the Prosecution, was for the purpose of carrying out burials.
18 Would this entry suggest to you that there was any plan to exchange the
19 prisoners that were brought to the school in Orahovac?
20 A. This isn't related to the plan. As far as this individual Aco is
21 concerned, I presume that he was a man from the military police who came
22 to help us by bringing along a number of his military policemen to
23 provide security for our mortars, because the individuals who had arrived
24 there earlier on had to leave for Snagovo on the 13th or the 14th. That
25 was the 3rd infantry platoon that was sent by Major Obrenovic, was
1 dispatched there because Krizevacke Njive is close to the feature Grujica
2 hill where our mortars were positioned. So there man Aco from the
3 military police if that's where he came from, came to help us out and
4 between the 14th and the 15th, or the 15th and the 16th, he was withdrawn
5 all the way to our command post and together we left Baljkovica on the
6 16th. He was even wounded.
7 Q. Do you know who Colonel Beara is?
8 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I was waiting for the end of the interpretation
9 and now Mr. Tolimir.
10 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. My
11 objection is as follows: This witness is now not being asked about his
12 personal observations. The questions are being asked of him about some
13 other people's writing in a book that he did not have, a book that he did
14 not write, the book that does not talk about his unit. Thank you. And
15 I would really like for this to stop in order to somehow impute some
16 responsibility to this witness.
17 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye, you were saying you are going to
18 substantiate the discussion about the duty -- of the duty officer, and
19 the relation to the commander.
20 MR. VANDERPUYE: Substantiate, yes, the authenticity and the
21 reliability of the book.
22 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Wait a moment, please, I have not finished. Now,
23 you are going into details of the entries.
24 MR. VANDERPUYE: I am.
25 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I am not sure if this is, during re-examination,
1 the right course of action.
2 MR. VANDERPUYE: The reason why I'm going into the entries,
3 Your Honour, is to the extent that there is a suggestion that there was
4 no plan in place to execute the prisoners that were brought to the
5 Zvornik area, given the witness's experience, both as a battalion
6 commander and as an assistant -- former assistant commander for security
7 and intelligence, and given the witness's understanding of what the role
8 of a duty operations officer is within the brigade, whether or not this
9 particular entry, and I'll get to it, relating to Colonel Beara, chief of
10 security of the Main Staff of the VRS as concerns the use of bulldozers
11 and flat bed trucks on 13 July 1995, in advance of the execution of the
12 prisoners on 14 July 1995, bears upon the likelihood that these prisoners
13 were to be exchanged on the 14th of July as suggested during the course
14 of the cross-examination. And I think he's in a position to say whether
15 or not, in his mind, it bears on that possibility.
16 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I was hoping that we can finish the examination
17 of this witness before the second break. I think this is not possible.
18 We must have the second break now, and Mr. Vanderpuye, can you give us an
19 estimation of the remaining time you need for re-examination?
20 MR. VANDERPUYE: I have one other document besides this to show
21 him and about four or five questions related to that. I think it
22 shouldn't take more than 15 minutes to do. I'm usually a little bit
23 overly optimistic but I think that's about fair.
24 JUDGE FLUEGGE: That is our impression from the
25 examination-in-chief already.
1 MR. VANDERPUYE: I'm sure.
2 JUDGE FLUEGGE: We must have our second break now and we will
3 resume at five minutes past 1.00.
4 --- Recess taken at 12.37 p.m.
5 --- On resuming at 1.05 p.m.
6 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, before the break, you indicated you
7 want to respond to the Prosecution. You have the floor.
8 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you. I think that now there
9 is no need for that because Mr. Vanderpuye indicated that he was about to
10 move on to another subject. What I wanted to say was that the questions
11 posed so far were the questions for examination-in-chief and not for
12 cross-examination. I simply wanted to ask him to move on to
13 cross-examination. Thank you.
14 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye, I think you are in re-examination
15 and Mr. Tolimir, in fact, was referring to re-examination.
16 You should continue but the Chamber is -- would appreciate if you
17 could put your questions in a way that we always see the nexus to the
18 questions put by Mr. Tolimir during cross-examination, as it was the case
19 earlier when we -- when you were dealing with UN troops and DutchBat
20 battalion, it is necessary for the Chamber, at least, but also for
21 Mr. Tolimir, to see there is a nexus to part of the cross-examination.
22 If you go ahead with the last 15 minutes, please bear that in mind,
23 especially if you use new documents not used during examination-in-chief
24 and cross-examination.
25 MR. VANDERPUYE: Yes, thank you, Mr. President. I think we had
1 a -- yes, we still do have the duty officer notebook on the screen.
2 Q. Mr. Ristic, I'd asked you in my last question to you regarding
3 this notebook was: Do you know who Colonel Beara is or at least was at
4 the time in July 1995, what his position is?
5 A. I did not know the members of the Main Staff. I did not know
6 their functions. But during the war, I heard of a Colonel Beara in the
7 Main Staff.
8 Q. Did you hear what his position was in the Main Staff?
9 A. I did not hear about him, I did not meet him, I did not see him
10 during the war, so I wasn't even interested in his function. I really
11 don't know what were the functions of people in the Main Staff. That was
12 far away from me. I didn't even know about the corps, let alone the Main
14 Q. All right. I want to show you one other document, it's 65 ter
15 2579. And while we are getting that up, I just want to ask you about
16 this entry in the duty officer logbook. You mentioned someone named Aco
17 as a military policeman. Do you remember talking about that just a
18 moment ago?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. And the individual named Stevo Kostic also in that entry in the
21 logbook, do you know who he is or what he -- what his position was back
22 in July of 1995?
23 A. He was in the military police. I think he was a clerk in the
24 military police. I don't know whether that was the exact name of his
25 function, but he handled papers and documents.
1 Q. Do you know whether either Aco or Stevo Kostic were either
2 directly or indirectly, shall we say, involved with the prisoners or with
3 the events that occurred in Orahovac?
4 A. I knew nothing about it.
5 Q. All right. Let's take a look at the document we have now on the
6 screen in front of us. This is a document entitled, "Instructions
7 concerning the work of," and the translation reads, "deputy battalion
8 commander for intelligence and security." You can tell me if it might be
9 a more accurate translation that it reads "assistant commander for
10 intelligence and security"?
11 A. Assistant battalion commander for intelligence and security work.
12 Q. That would be consistent with the position that you occupied
13 between 1993, March, and 1995, March; is that right?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. This particular document is attributable to Drago Coric do you
16 know who Drago Coric is?
17 A. I knew that person.
18 Q. What was his position when you knew him?
19 A. I think he was also for a while an assistant commander. I don't
20 know in which battalion but he was also assistant battalion commander for
21 security. I don't know which battalion. I think that we attended some
22 meetings in the brigade together and that that's how I know him.
23 Q. And when you say in a battalion, you mean a battalion within the
24 Zvornik Brigade or some other brigade?
25 A. Within the Zvornik Brigade.
1 Q. I want to ask you a couple of questions just about this document,
2 since General Tolimir put to you some questions concerning your duties
3 and functions as was contained in the brigade rules for security,
4 I think, is what he showed you. In particular, let me refer you to the
5 functions it says here as assistant -- as -- your intelligence functions.
6 You should see that under item number 1. If we go down the page a little
7 bit, you will see in an underlined section, it reads, that "He," meaning
8 the assistant commander for security and intelligence, "Shall carry out
9 the necessary interrogation of war prisoners and refugees and arrange for
10 their evacuation to a determined place." Do you see that there, among
11 several other functions?
12 A. I can see that.
13 Q. And is that consistent with your understanding of your functions
14 or your responsibilities while you were assistant commander for security
15 and intelligence in the 4th Battalion?
16 A. Yes. It does. However, when I was at this function, I had no
17 chance to interrogate anybody because there were no captured prisoners
18 while I was an assistant commander for intelligence and security work.
19 Q. All right. Immediately above that, you can see that it reads
21 "The assistant commander for security and intelligence shall
22 organise general use of intelligence data in the battalion and
23 immediately inform the battalion commander about all important data on
24 the enemy. He shall inform his superior and neighbouring intelligence
25 and security organs."
1 Is that also consistent with your understanding of your
2 responsibilities while you were serving within the security organ of --
3 at the battalion level?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. I'd like to refer you to item number 2, which is at the bottom of
6 the page in the English and I think at the top of the next page in the
7 B/C/S. And here, under this section, it talks about the functions in the
8 security capacity, and lists a number of tasks. Among them I'd like to
9 refer you to about the middle of the page and it reads as follows:
10 "He," meaning the assistant commander for security and
11 intelligence, "Shall undertake measures to detect and arrest perpetrators
12 of criminal acts in the areas of the responsibility of security organs of
13 the armed forces, as well as measures to uncover and secure evidence of
14 criminal acts or objects which may serve as evidence. And he shall
15 gather all information which may be useful for successfully conducting
16 criminal proceedings."
17 Do you see that?
18 A. Yes, I see that.
19 Q. And is that consistent with the understanding -- with your
20 understanding of your functions during the period of time that you were
21 assistant commander for security and intelligence in the 4th Battalion?
22 A. It is consistent.
23 Q. Is it fair to say, then, that a security officer would or should
24 be aware of information concerning the presence of prisoners of war or
25 prisoners and refugees and has a responsibility with respect to the
1 detection of crimes concerning those prisoners within the confines, in
2 your case, of the battalion, the area of responsibility of the battalion?
3 A. Well, that would hold if our command was in Orahovac and if all
4 this was in our zone of responsibility or in Baljkovica where we were
5 situated. However, since we were ten or more kilometres away from
6 Zvornik, across mountains, I assumed that somebody thought that we did
7 not know -- we did not need to know all this because all this was
8 probably organised at the level of the brigade and not the battalion.
9 Q. Would it be fair to say that your understanding of the
10 responsibilities of a security and intelligence officer within the
11 security and intelligence administrations or sectors would call for any
12 such officer, at the relevant unit level, brigade, battalion, corps, Main
13 Staff, to undertake the responsibilities that are set out in this
14 document, that is, involvement with prisoners, at least at the level of
15 interrogation, or evacuation, and that is, in terms of undertaking
16 measures to detect and arrest perpetrators of criminal acts in the area
17 of the relevant responsibility or the relevant area of responsibility?
18 Is that fair to say?
19 A. I think that I already described my role, what I was doing in my
20 battalion, that I described the role of the battalion commander and the
21 relationship between our battalion and the brigade. Maybe I should
22 inform the Chamber as well as General that in practice of both battalion
23 and the Zvornik Brigade, we did not have professionally educated officers
24 in the relevant fields of expertise. I, for instance, did not have these
25 instructions, nobody ever gave it to me. That's why I consider that we
1 could not observe such rules because our battalion, that wasn't an army
2 with barracks, with officers with morning lineup, with everything that is
3 prescribed by military rules. Those were just people from nearby
4 villages, people who had to go back home to tend their flocks and their
5 fields and in most cases they would arrive to the defence lines with
6 their own equipment and their own food. And then they would get their
7 tasks from the battalion commander or the company commander. This is how
8 we managed to do things during this war period. We simply relied on our
9 own knowledge. We really didn't work according to some rules and
10 regulations prescribed by somebody else.
11 Q. All right. You've indicated that Drago Coric was a member of the
12 Zvornik Brigade; isn't that right?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. And, in particular, that he was an assistant commander for
15 security and intelligence at the battalion level, right?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Now, I'm not sure if you can see it very clearly -- if we go to
18 the first page in the B/C/S of this document, but you can see his name at
19 the top of this particular document, written in Cyrillic; isn't that
21 A. I can see it.
22 Q. And so this is information that was within, let's say, the
23 knowledge of the security organ at the battalion level in the Zvornik
24 Brigade, right?
25 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Before you answer this question I would like to
1 ask the witness to read the name of this person very slowly into the
2 record because I think it's wrongly stated in the record. What is the
3 name of this man, Drago?
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Drago Cvoric.
5 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you. And Mr. Tolimir?
6 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. Since this
7 document doesn't have the official number, there is no author indicated
8 on it, and no signature, I think that it is improper to claim that this
9 witness should have acted in accordance with the contents of this
11 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye is putting the instructions posed
12 which the witness had during the relevant time and the witness answered
13 about his knowledge about the content of the description of his duties
14 but again I have the problem that the name of this man is not recorded
15 again. Please repeat the name very slowly again.
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] C with a diacritical sign V-O-R-I-C
17 with another diacritical sign. D-R-A-G-O.
18 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I'm sure it is taped and we can reconstruct it
19 later. Mr. Vanderpuye.
20 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President.
21 Q. I'm not sure if -- I did not get an answer to my last question
22 and my last question was that this information was within the knowledge
23 of the security organ at the battalion level. Is that fair to say, given
24 the document you have in front of you?
25 A. This is some sort of instruction for his work that he received
1 and I did not. I don't know whether he took this instruction out of some
2 book that the JNA members used to carry around.
3 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir?
4 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. The
5 witness answered. What I wanted to say is how can something like that
6 pertain to this witness? How can you say that he should have known about
7 it when he already stated that he never saw this document before, that he
8 never had this document before and that this Cvoric had no sort of
9 command relationship with him? Thank you.
10 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I didn't hear any question with this content you
11 are quoting.
12 Mr. Vanderpuye, please carry on but bear in mind now you have
13 reached 24 minutes of your 15.
14 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. Just bear with me for
15 one second.
16 Q. My last question, if we could go to the second page of the B/C/S,
17 please and also the second page of the English? In relation to the part
18 of this document which I read into the record previously where it says:
19 "The assistant commander for security intelligence shall
20 undertake measures to detect and arrest perpetrators of criminal acts in
21 the areas under the responsibility of the security organs of the armed
22 forces, as well as measures to uncover and secure evidence of criminal
23 acts or objects."
24 As concerns the role of an assistant commander of security and
25 intelligence at the battalion level, wouldn't this or does this entail
1 the use of the military police units available either at the brigade
2 level in your case or at any other unit level?
3 A. The military police belong to the brigade. They had their
4 instructions about how to perform their work. I already explained how we
5 worked with the military police. Now, what exactly they were doing
6 directly with the military police in the brigade, I don't know. I was
7 never in the brigade. I spent all my time in the 4th Infantry Battalion,
8 from the very beginning until the very end.
9 Q. All right.
10 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. That concludes my
11 redirect examination. I would like to offer into evidence this document,
12 65 ter 2579.
13 JUDGE FLUEGGE: It will be received.
14 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, this document shall be assigned
15 Exhibit number P1760. Thank you.
16 [Trial Chamber confers]
17 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Sir, you will be pleased to hear that this
18 concludes the examination. The Chamber would like to thank you also on
19 behalf of the parties that you were able to come here to The Hague again
20 and to provide us with your knowledge and expertise. Thank you very
21 much. And now you are free to return to your normal activities. Have a
22 safe journey back. Thank you.
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
24 [The witness withdrew]
25 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Now, officially welcome Mr. McCloskey.
1 MR. McCLOSKEY: Thank you, Mr. President.
2 JUDGE FLUEGGE: We have only ten minutes left. I think it's not
3 a good idea to start with the next witness because we have to discuss the
4 progress with the witnesses of this week. We see that there are still
5 scheduled three witnesses, two from the region and the witness Blaszczyk.
6 We have only one day of hearings left. What is your position?
7 MR. McCLOSKEY: First of all I was going to suggest what you just
8 suggested. And the two people from the region, well, the next one who is
9 immediately on my mind, who will be handled by Mr. Elderkin is a survivor
10 witness and will be very short from our perspective. And the next person
11 is a more controversial witness in many respects. You remember that's
12 the witness related to the recent motion. And Mr. Blaszczyk was frankly,
13 I don't want to call him a gap filler but he's always available, he's
14 back from knee surgery and ready to go, so we don't need to worry about
15 him. And I just had a couple of -- well, I could say housekeeping
16 matters just for a minute or to address you with before we go but we may
17 not be able to finish that final witness, given I think there seems --
18 there may be interest in that witness.
19 JUDGE FLUEGGE: The first witness tomorrow will be PW-016 in my
21 MR. McCLOSKEY: That's correct.
22 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I've heard that there are matters to discuss
23 about protective measures.
24 [Prosecution counsel confer]
25 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Please switch off your microphone.
1 MR. McCLOSKEY: It shouldn't be a problem. We just need to have
2 what he had in Krstic, which was pseudonym and face distortion but
3 apparently we didn't get all that in. We missed -- I think we missed
4 face distortion. We got pseudonym but we missed the face distortion in
5 Krstic so he's a -- it's important that he get what the laws allow him.
6 We've confirmed that that is what he needs and we agree with that and I'm
7 sorry we didn't remind everyone of what was happening in Krstic.
8 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Indeed, this is always unfortunate, this way of
9 receiving notice at the last minute. What is the position of the Defence
10 to the protective measures requested by the Prosecution? I see no
12 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] We don't know what Mr. McCloskey is
13 talking about.
14 MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, if we can just switch to
15 closed session for a moment?
16 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Private.
17 [Private session]
11 Page 9346 redacted. Private session.
24 [Open session]
25 THE REGISTRAR: We are back in open session, Your Honours.
1 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. McCloskey?
2 MR. McCLOSKEY: The recent testimony regarding the duty officer
3 notebook and the potential for 13 July entry and it reminded me that we
4 owe you the updated versions of the duty officer notebook, teacher's
5 edition, which is in evidence as P1459. You may recall you handed it
6 back to us so that we could correct a few pages that were wrong. So I
7 have the three for the Trial Chamber and the Court officer which, I don't
8 know the difference between court officer and legal officer, I'm sorry,
9 they are both the same in my view. But we can -- we just want to get
10 that to you before the break and I also, lastly, would like to say
11 something that I think the general will agree with me that may help the
12 Court. He has made a statement in one of his questions that the rules
13 that he put on the screen regarding the former JNA rules for the brigade
14 that they were in place at the time of the VRS, it's the Prosecution
15 position we largely agree with that so you know that we don't believe
16 this will be a hard fought issue. I think in most cases we are going to
17 agree that the official rules such as the one the general used for the
18 brigade, for the corps, were generally used by the VRS because they
19 didn't have many of their own rules. And so in that regard, I want to
20 narrow that issue for you so that that shouldn't be something you see us
21 hotly contesting, with perhaps the exception of every once in a while
22 like you saw in the battalion report sometimes they develop their rules,
23 the VRS develops their rules, based on those other rules. So just to
24 narrow those issues for you. I think we will be in agreement. I know
25 our expert has basically said what General Tolimir stated in his
2 So I just wanted to help narrow those issues because I know there
3 is a lot of issues out there. The date of the -- when the murder
4 operation was initiated, being one of them, of course, and that's why we
5 spent so much time there, thank you.
6 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Are there any other matters? If not, my last
7 comment would be I would, and the Chamber would be very happy if the time
8 frame indicated by both parties should be obeyed by and in order to keep
9 this trial as expeditious as possible and we observed several times that,
10 in particular, as I said earlier, the Prosecution had exceeded this time,
11 also with the last witness.
12 Thank you very much. We adjourn and we resume tomorrow morning
13 in this courtroom at 9.00.
14 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1.46 p.m.,
15 to be reconvened on Thursday, the 3rd day of
16 February 2011, at 9.00 a.m.