18401 Thursday, 25th February, 1999
--- Upon commencing at 10.21 a.m.
JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated. First of all, I would like to have General Blaskic escorted into the courtroom, if you don't mind. When I bring my own case file, I know that I have it, you see? I had asked someone to bring my case file, and now I don't have it, if I could have someone get it, please.
(The witness entered court)
JUDGE JORDA: Good morning to the interpreters, to make sure that everybody can hear me. Thank you very much. Good morning to Prosecution and Defence counsel and, of course, to the accused, and I hope that the accused has rested over the past evening.
THE ACCUSED: Good morning, Mr. President. I have rested and I feel well. Thank you.
JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Registrar, the question of the problems we discussed yesterday, have they been resolved?
THE REGISTRAR: Yes, everything is resolved.
JUDGE JORDA: All right. Thank you very much. The fresh air question has been resolved, and we will now move to the testimony of the witness, who 18402 should always testify under the best conditions. I'm saying this for the public gallery. This is still the examination-in-chief of the accused but who is now being considered as a witness and, as I would also recall, is under oath.
Although I still don't have my notes, I think we can begin.
MR. NOBILO: Good morning, Mr. President, Your Honours.
JUDGE JORDA: I have everything in my head and have had it there for the last 22 months, but a few notes are always useful. Thank you very much. All right. We can begin now.
WITNESS: TIHOMIR BLASKIC (Resumed) Examined by Mr. Nobilo:
Q. Last night, as we were breaking off, we were talking about a very important meeting, one of the last ones you held, between the 3rd Corps and the Operative Zone which was held on the 26th of March, 1993 at 11.00 hours in Zenica. Could you please describe very briefly who attended, how the meeting went, and what conclusions were adopted at the end of it?
A. This was a meeting which was presided over by General Deer, the deputy commander for the European Monitoring Mission for the countries of the former 18403 Yugoslavia. The chief of the European Monitoring Mission, Mr. Thebault, was co-chairing this meeting. The army of Bosnia-Herzegovina was represented by Mr. Vehbija Karic, member of the main staff of the armed forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, commander of the 1st Corps, whose nickname was Italian, that is, the 1st Corps of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Q. Just for the record, was that perhaps Mustafa Hajrulahovic who has since deceased?
A. Yes. On behalf of the 2nd Corps of the BH army was Mr. Sadic; deputy commander of the 3rd Corps of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Dzemal Merdan; also attending -- the commander of the 3rd Corps was also expected to attend but he was late; then the president of the executive board of the HDZ party for Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mr. Mirsad Ceman, that is, he was the executive secretary of the party; the president of the district board of the SDA party for the Zenica region, Mr. Hodzic or Hadzic; president of the SDA for Zenica municipality, also representing the Bosniak Muslim civilian police, was Mr. Asim Fazlic, the chief of police; representing the Croatian population and Croatian people, it was a member of the War Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina who was also a member of the supreme command of the armed forces of 18404 Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mr. Franjo Boras; also the chief of staff of the Central Bosnia Operative Zone, Mr. Franjo Nakic; also the chief of the civilian police of the police administration in Travnik --
JUDGE JORDA: What's the names, please, because you began saying the names, and I would like you to say them to the end. So the chief of staff for Central Bosnia was Boras? Nakic? Nakic was your deputy, we agree with that?
A. Mr. President, Nakic was the chief of staff in the command where I was the commander.
JUDGE JORDA: You said the chief of staff; did you say that?
JUDGE JORDA: All right. Continue, please.
A. Also the chief of the civilian police of the Travnik police administration, Mr. Ivo Rezo; president of the HDZ for Zenica, Josip Pojavnik; and I believe that also attending was Mr. Dominik Sakic, vice-president of the municipal assembly in Zenica. The topic of the meeting was discussion and adoption of a joint report of the joint commission composed by Nakic and Merdan; however, the meeting took a slightly different turn, so that at the very beginning, General Deer, when greeting all the members 18405 attending, was saying that the results of this meeting would be sent to 17 countries of the European Union, and he gave his full support to the work of the joint commission.
In my discussion in this meeting, I said that the burning issue was the fact that the
Busovaca-Kiseljak road had been blocked for the last 61 days, despite all the agreements. I also said that a customs post was set up and that customs were collected from Croats from Zepce and Usora and that 30 per cent customs were being taken for the 3rd Corps of the Bosnian army.
In the meeting, I also said that the town of Vares was blocked from Kakanj by the command of the 309th Brigade of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina. I also mentioned that members of the 7th Muslim Brigade in Zenica paraded in the streets of the city every morning, creating fear among the Croat citizens of Zenica. I also pointed out the break-ins into apartments and forcible expulsion of Croats from their apartments, and the problem was that these expulsions were also accompanied by temporary eviction notices issued by the local civilian authorities. I also pointed out the problem stemming from the killings of three soldiers by the members of the 7th Muslim 18406 Brigade, and these three soldiers were members of the HVO.
The next issue I raised was the blockade of Kiseljak. All Croats from the Kiseljak municipality were unable to move outside of -- that means that no Croats could move outside of the Kiseljak municipality if they were not able to secure a permit allowing them to move freely, and these permits were issued by the Bosniak Muslim assembly in Bilalovac, and access to Bilalovac from Kiseljak was barred which was a big problem for Kiseljak.
Mr. Thebault pointed out that the units which had come from outside had not been withdrawn from the territories of the Kiseljak and Busovaca municipalities and that this task was not carried out.
Q. When you say the units had been brought from outside, Mr. Thebault, what was he referring to?
A. He was referring to the units which were stationed in the areas of the local communes at Kacuni and Bilalovac and had been brought there from Zenica and Visoko.
Q. And they were part of which side?
A. They were part of the BH army.
Q. On that occasion, did he also report on the joint report of the Busovaca team? 18407
A. Yes, he talked about this report and pointed out that there were instances of self-will among the local commanders.
Q. Was this on both sides?
A. Yes, the finding of the commission was that the local commanders of both sides engaged in acts of self-will. Mr. Thebault also gave special mention to Mr. Nakic and Dzemo for their efforts at implementing the joints orders on the ground.
Q. What did Thebault propose as further steps and further tasks of this joint commission or team for Busovaca?
A. Mr. Thebault proposed and requested implementation of all joint orders in full in respect of the deadlines which were specified in our joint orders. He also proposed an exchange of liaison officers between the two sides.
Q. At one point, Hadzihasanovic arrived at the meeting. He had been late. What was the reason for his tardiness and what had happened?
A. Sometime in the first half of the meeting, the commander of the 3rd Corps arrived. He apologised to those present and said that he had attended a session of the War Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo and that on his way back from Sarajevo via 18408 Kresevo and Kiseljak, he had been held in Kiseljak, detained by the commander in Kiseljak, detained at the barracks, and he thanked me for assistance because after he had been detained, he was enabled to immediately proceed to Zenica with his escort.
Q. How did he know that you had helped him?
A. When the commander of the 3rd Corps was detained by the Kiseljak HVO command, he said to the commander of the Kiseljak HVO that he was in a hurry to go to Zenica to a meeting with Blaskic, and he called me personally at the hotel in Zenica, I believe it was Hotel International in Zenica, and I intervened, asking that he be given an escort and that he immediately be allowed to proceed to Kakanj and Zenica.
Q. Did he say that the Muslims were still leaving Busovaca?
A. Yes. It was Merdan who pointed this out, that the tensions in Busovaca were still high and the Bosniak Muslims were leaving Busovaca in the direction of Zenica or in the direction of Fojnica.
Q. Let us try to summarise the rest of it. Representatives of the civilian police, Mr. Rezo and Mr. Fazlic, that is, the representatives of both the Croatian and the Bosniak Muslim police, also took part in the discussion. What did they talk about? 18409
A. One of the conclusions pointed out by Mr. Thebault was regulating the checkpoints, and Mr. Fazlic, who was chief of the civilian police from the Bosniak Muslim side, said that the existence of two MUPs was a reality: one MUP was a Bosniak Muslim MUP and the other one was the MUP of the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna, but that he was interested in a professional approach to the tasks, meaning the tasks of the civilian police, and a maximum level of cooperation of the civilian police of the Bosniak Muslim population and the civilian police of the Croatian population.
Ivo Rezo, chief of the police administration, replied to him, he was the chief of the civilian police of the Croatian people, and he said that only one MUP existed at the level of Bosnia and Herzegovina but that the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna only has one department of the Ministry of the Interior. Rezo pointed out that he had known Mr. Fazlic for a number of years, that they had worked together in the civilian police even before the conflict had broken out, and that he was hoping to be able to establish good cooperation and professionally carry out the tasks of the civilian police.
Rezo pointed out that in the eleven 18410 municipalities which the Travnik police administration was covering, the police force was the one belonging to the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna and that, unfortunately, the civilian police of the Ministry of the Interior of Bosnia and Herzegovina was not operating.
After this portion of the discussion was finished, a member of the supreme command of the armed forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr. Vehbija Karic, said that his basic task was organisation and establishment of the armed forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the free territory. He proposed the conclusions of this meeting: First, to establish checkpoints which would be manned by the civilian police of the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna and the MUP of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Further, to take all necessary steps in order to prevent self-will of individuals and local people in power, and hereby he particularly meant payments at checkpoints. He also said that the media should be used for a lowering of the tensions and calming of the overall situation. He also pointed out that the agreement signed by Mr. Izetbegovic and Mr. Boban was providing a good foundation for future cooperation.
Q. Thank you. Perhaps we could now move on. It 18411 was a major meeting with a lot of people attending, a lot of views were put forward, but let us move to the 29th of March, 1993, when you made a protest, and could we have document D261 handed out, please? We are not going to read the document but we are just going to say that on the 29th of March, 1993, as can be deduced from the document, that you, to Enver Hadzihasanovic, the commander of the 3rd Corps, sent a letter of protest in connection with the murder of two members of the military police in Cajdras on the 28th of March, 1993, and quite obviously this was done by members of the 7th Muslim Brigade. At the end of the letter of protest, you ask that the 3rd Corps urgently form a commission to establish the circumstances of that killing.
Do you confirm that you wrote this document?
Q. And that the event occurred as has been described in the document?
Q. Well, that was brief. Now let us move on to the 30th of March where you went to Herzegovina for a meeting with the head of the defence department, Bruno Stojic, and you were there until the 2nd of April --
JUDGE JORDA: Just one moment, Mr. Nobilo, 18412 please. I've got the document in front of me. I don't know if you're going to go back to it. It says in this document which is signed by the accused that the 7th Muslim Brigade must be taken apart. I would like to show the document to my colleagues. This is one of the conclusions; do we agree with that? General Blaskic, do we agree?
JUDGE JORDA: You've asked that the 7th Muslim Brigade be completely disbanded at the time of that incident.
MR. NOBILO: And the motives for this.
A. Your Honours, Mr. President, yes, I did call for the urgent dissolution of the brigade because I considered that it was one of the basic causes of dissent between the Croatian and Muslim people in the area of Central Bosnia which, through its conduct, upsets and sometimes makes cooperation impossible between the HVO and the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Q. General, tell us, what did Hadzihasanovic, the commander of the 3rd Corps, tell you about the 7th Muslim Brigade? What did he tell you about the 7th Muslim Brigade?
A. At a meeting that I will talk about later on, he said that the 7th Muslim Brigade was established on 18413 the basis of religion and --
Q. Just one moment, please.
JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me. Could you repeat that again? I was speaking with my colleague.
Q. The question was: What did the commander of the 3rd Corps, Enver Hadzihasanovic, tell you at one of the meetings that you had about the 7th Muslim Brigade?
A. He told me that the 7th Muslim Brigade had been formed on the basis of religion and that it had been made up of members from all countries throughout the world and that the members of the 7th Muslim Brigade were brothers by religion, regardless of the countries or territories they had come from. But he also confirmed that he distanced himself from the conduct and behaviour of the 7th Muslim Brigade.
Q. Did you understand, with relation to this brigade and some other units, such as the Mujahid, the Latif units and so on, and on the Bosniak side, that there were parallel systems of command and not exclusive unity of command, according to what Hadzihasanovic told you?
A. According to what Hadzihasanovic told me on the 7th of April, 1993, at a meeting held in Kakanj, I understood that there was a dual system of command on 18414 the side of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Q. With respect to whom?
A. With respect to, vis-à-vis, the units of the 7th Muslim Brigade and the El Mujahed detachment, the Abdul Latif detachment, members of the Black Swans, Crni Labud, and other special purposes units, and the Muslim brigade within the composition of the 4th Corps, the 4th Muslim Brigade.
JUDGE RODRIGUES: Mr. Nobilo, do you remember the name of the commander of the 7th Brigade?
A. Your Honours, at this particular moment, I'm afraid I can't remember.
MR. NOBILO: Perhaps I can help out.
Q. They changed, but was at one time Serif Patkovic the commander of the 7th Muslim Brigade in one period of time?
A. Yes, he did become commander of the 7th Muslim Brigade at one point, but when the 7th Muslim Brigade was formed it was someone else, I think I know his nickname but I'm not quite sure. I can't remember at this point.
JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you.
Q. Therefore, on the 30th of March, 1993, you went to Herzegovina for a meeting of the head of the 18415 defence department, Bruno Stojic, and other individuals, Petkovic and so on, and you returned sometime around the 2nd of April, 1993, you returned to Vitez.
Can you explain briefly why you went to Herzegovina and why you returned especially on the 2nd of April?
A. Well, I went because I had two questions to settle: One question was to inform of the meeting held in Zenica and I informed them of the conclusions of the meeting, the chief of the main staff and the defence department head, I informed them. Throughout this time, the time that we have been discussing, there was heavy fighting on the Travnik front, at the Usora front, at the Maglaj front, and the Olovo front, and --
Q. Who was the adversary? Who was the enemy?
A. Attacks were launched by the Serbs on these front lines, and I asked for reinforcement and assistance from the chief of the main staff and the head of the logistics department because, at a previous meeting on the 18th of March, I was informed by the commander of the brigades, the commanders of the brigades, that they had about 200 bullets per rifle, which was not sufficient to carry on combat operations.
Q. In the chronology of events, to save time, we 18416 did not focus on your activities on the front line and the Serb army. Can you tell me which fronts were active at the time and how far you were in charge of the fronts where the battles were taking place against the Serbs?
A. The Travnik front was active at the time and the breadth of the front was about 80 kilometres. Next, the Usora front, that is north of Tesanj, the front line north of Tesanj, then there was the Maglaj front, the Olovo front, and it was most critical there, by way of the information that I received, because the town of Olovo threatened to fall. Then there was Gorazde and there was provocative action but not a movement of forces in Busovaca between the HVO and the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina at that time.
Q. Olovo and Gorazde, you gave them materiel aid and assistance, and did you take an active part in the other sections of the front?
A. To the extent to which this was possible, I took part on the Travnik front, the Usora front, and across Zepce to the Maglaj front.
Q. On the 2nd of April, you returned to Central Bosnia. Could you tell us the reason why you chose precisely the 2nd of April to return?
A. On that particular day, I had a meeting with 18417 the head of the defence department, and he warned me that I should go back immediately because there was the possibility of a repeated blockade by the BH army on all the roads between Mostar and Vitez.
Q. In Central Bosnia, at your headquarters, you found yourself there once again on the 3rd of April, and you received information at 8.30 a.m. about the fighting with the BH army.
A. Yes. On that particular morning, I was informed that the 333rd Brigade of the BH army had raised its combat readiness, and that part of its forces had launched an attack from Kacuni towards Prosje on the defenders of the HVO.
Q. Two military policemen were killed on that day, two HVO policemen; is that true?
A. Yes, it is true. They were killed by the members of the BH army.
Q. On that day, you received information about the fighting in Konjic, the neighbouring territory in your Operative Zone. Who was fighting there?
A. The units of the 4th Corps of the BH army were fighting against the members of the HVO of Konjic.
Q. Were these conflicts that had begun in January and were now being revived?
A. Yes. The conflicts broke out in January, 18418 sometime around the 19th of January, and they were now reactivated. The front lines at Konjic were being reactivated.
Q. On that day, you had a meeting with the people from Zenica; Holman, Baresic, and Totic. Can you tell us in a few sentences what you discussed with Holman and what information you received from Baresic?
A. Well, one of the questions that I raised with the head of the defence department in Mostar was that I should be allowed to have HOS be permitted to move into the HVO but individually, and I told Holman that individuals with criminal records could not be within the composition of the HVO of Zenica, they could not be admitted, and that a transition would be possible only when he has written agreement from the commander of the 314th Brigade of the 3rd Corps of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina. I also told him that I had many problems with my own criminals, and I meant by that individuals who were within the composition of the HVO forces manifesting criminal behaviour.
Q. What about Baresic? What information did he bring you from Zenica?
A. Baresic was fairly worried. He was worried with the burgeoning of the 7th Muslim Brigade, the increase of tension, and he said that within a space of 18419 48 hours, the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, in his opinion, would, from Zenica, launch an attack on the HVO.
Q. You received information on that day about the requests made by civilians from Busovaca, a request to leave Busovaca. Did only the Muslims want to leave Busovaca or did the Croats want to leave Busovaca as well? What do you know about that?
A. Well, that was the first piece of information that I received from Busovaca with contents of that kind, and the request stated that 73 Croats and 69 Muslims, Bosniak Muslims, wished to leave Busovaca to go to third countries, and the Bosniak Muslims agreed to go to areas under the control of the BH army.
Q. On that day, you also engaged in some disciplinary measures, particularly with regard to the reconnaissance unit who were causing problems in Kaonik. Can you tell me, according to the reports, how many disciplinary measures were taken, and what happened to that reconnaissance unit?
A. In one week alone, 14 disciplinary measures were enacted, taken, and the reconnaissance unit of the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade had disciplinary measures taken against its soldiers.
Q. How many soldiers did that platoon number? 18420
A. The platoon had 20 soldiers. Some of them had been penalised a number of times and disciplinary measures taken against them.
Q. In Kiseljak, Croat refugees began to arrive. Where did they come from?
A. At the beginning of April, Croats began to arrive in Zenica from Konjic, from the Konjic municipality.
Q. What happened? Why had they come from there?
A. There was an attack by the BH army there, and they were expelled from the villages of Pozetva, Jasenik, and other Croatian villages in the Konjic municipality. It borders on the Fojnica municipality, this area.
Q. The beginning of April was also the beginning of the formation of the Vitez Brigade, and you received reports on how far this process was progressing. Can you tell us who sent you this report and something more about that?
A. I had a meeting, and the chief of staff, Franjo Nakic, informed me that the situation was worst with regard to the formation of the Vitez Brigade and in which nothing had practically been done, not even on paper. It hadn't been formed on paper yet.
Q. You received Schmidt on that day who wanted 18421 to go to the Kaonik prison. What happened with that and how did you solve that problem?
A. Mr. Schmidt came to me and asked that I issue written permission, a written permit, for him to visit the district military prison in Kaonik. I told him that it was not under my competence to issue visiting permits for the military district prison of Kaonik but that he should contact the president of the military district court, Mr. Zeljko Percinlic, who was the competent authority in permitting meetings of this kind.
Q. Do you remember to which organisation Mr. Schmidt belonged?
A. I think, but I'm not absolutely certain, that he belonged to the International Red Cross or the European Monitoring Mission, one or the other.
Q. On the 5th of April, you commanded the filling in of trenches. What was the purpose of this and the extent to which this was ordered?
A. I had daily talks with Mr. Nakic, and I issued an order to the commander of the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade to start filling in the trenches with the aim of stabilising relationships between the 333rd Brigade of the BH army and the HVO from Busovaca, so that their relations could progress. 18422
Q. Those trenches were dug in the Busovaca area, were they not, and they represented a sort of front line between the forces and the BH army; is that correct?
Q. On the same day, you had a meeting with Mr. Thebault. Can you tell us what he told you, what his positions were on that day?
A. It was a very brief meeting, but he laid special emphasis on the fact that tension was running fairly high in the region and that the source of this instability was the local commanders and that the local commanders presented a great danger to both sides. He probably had in mind the members of the BH army and the members of the HVO.
Q. On the following day, on the 6th of April, and also for several weeks, and we skipped over this, foreigners, foreign nationals, became a problem, foreign nationals who were detained by the police, and on that particular day, you had a discussion linked to how this problem could be solved. Could you tell us more about that, please? So a brief sketch of that problem because we didn't want to go into it day by day.
A. The problem was that in the Central Bosnia 18423 region, foreigners were there very often, foreigners who were equipped with terrorist devices and materiel. That means they had explosives, detonators, knives, and so on and so forth.
Q. Could you tell us where these foreigners came from for the purposes of the Trial Chamber? Most often, where were they from?
A. They mostly came from different Arab countries, and the military police and the civilian police were under the orders of the competent command to detain such foreign nationals, to take away the equipment that they had brought with them and to deport them from the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina. We had problems in Central Bosnia because deportations were not possible.
Q. Why is that?
A. The roads had been blocked by the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and it would have been impossible to travel in the direction -- to take them in the direction of Mostar and actually carry out these deportations.
Q. Is it true that at that time a number of Arabs were in the --
(Court reporter coughing)
JUDGE JORDA: Just a moment, please. I think 18424 our friends who are doing the court reporting -- are you okay now? Take care of what you have to take care of. Don't cry. No reason to cry here.
Can we resume? Was there a blank there or something? Take care of yourself.
Okay. We can go on. Thank you very much.
Q. Very well. So were there a number of detained Arab nationals or foreign nationals in Kaonik?
A. Yes, there were a number of foreign nationals, but on that day, the chief of police informed me that he had reached an agreement with representatives of the Red Cross to deport foreign nationals in cooperation with the Red Cross.
Q. Maybe it is not the most important thing, but you also issued an order for a letter of congratulation. What was that?
A. That was a letter of congratulation to all members of the BH army who were of Muslim religion on the occasion of their major holiday, Bajram.
Q. We had skipped this earlier, but you also received information from Vares. What was that information about?
A. I believe that this information also appeared in the local media in which the local Muslims distanced 18425 themselves from the incidents perpetrated by extremists in their own ranks.
Q. On that same day, 6 April, 1993, you established an operations plan for that month. Could you tell the Trial Chamber, what was your plan? What were you going to do in April of '93?
A. An earlier plan envisaged that I be absent at the end of April so I focused on the following tasks: First of all, monitoring the front lines; detailed plan of organisation for the Easter holidays; then further building of the command staff, which meant further training and strengthening of the discipline and internal order; an analysis of the causes of insubordination in different commands; then measures to increase influence with the military police and attempts to block the linking up of different criminal gangs; further strengthen the work within the command of the Operative Zone; training young men, who had never had any military training, to handle weapons; and further work on developing a proper way of military documents at a lower level; and further strengthening of control and command.
We had planned seminars and lectures for the lower command levels. I planned a control of the logistics department, especially the technical 18426 services, and we also wanted to create an inventory of all the equipment and materiel which we had available. We also wanted to establish a traffic service which still did not exist with the Operative Zone.
Q. The following day, 7 April, 1993, you held the last meeting with the representatives of the 3rd Corps in Kakanj. When I say "the last meeting," it was the last one before the breakout of the hostilities on the 16th of April.
Could you just tell me briefly who attended and what the results were of this meeting?
A. This meeting was also fairly long, it was chaired by Mr. Thebault, and the meeting was held in Kakanj. Those present included Enver, commander of the 3rd Corps; Dzemo; chief of the civilian police, Asim Fazlic; and representing the HVO was Franjo Nakic; chief of the Travnik police administration, that is, the civilian police, Ivo Rezo.
The agenda of the meeting was as follows: First of all, removal of all barricades from the roads, separation of the confronted sides, forces of the BH army and the HVO, withdrawal of forces which had been brought in from outside, filling-in of trenches, and return of the refugees.
In this meeting in Kakanj, Mr. Thebault 18427 pointed out two problems: the problem of checkpoints and the problem of filling-in of trenches.
Q. Did Enver Hadzihasanovic, commander of the 3rd Corps, talk about issues which you mentioned about 15 minutes ago?
A. Yes. In this meeting, at the very end of this meeting, he said that he was afraid that the 7th Muslim Brigade could commit certain acts which he could not support. After that, Mr. Dzemo Merdan mentioned that the reason for such acts, that is, the undesirable acts on the part of the 7th Muslim Brigade, could be the very issue of the detained Arabs, in other words, brothers in faith, of whom he said that they were members of the 7th Muslim Brigade. Ivo Rezo joined in the discussion at that point by saying that the police were in line with the laws of Bosnia-Herzegovina and were deporting all the foreign nationals with whom it found illegal equipment and who were without proper documents.
Following that, Enver again said that he believed that the 7th Muslim Brigade could commit certain acts from which he wanted to distance himself in advance.
I told him that the 7th Muslim Brigade was part of the -- sorry, 3rd Corps, and he added that that 18428 was correct but that this brigade was composed of foreign nationals who were brothers in faith and that he was not able to guarantee what their actions may be.
Q. The next day, you were in Travnik. This is on the 8th of April. There was a meeting with civilian authorities there.
Since this meeting is fairly important and it is a bit lengthy, I think it's a good time to take a break here.
JUDGE JORDA: We will take a 20-minute break. Let me remind you that we began at quarter after ten, so we will work -- I hope the interpreters won't have a problem with it, but I am making honest proposals to them -- will work so that we can respect the principle of three hours that we work -- we will work until a quarter of six.
--- Recess taken at 11.30 a.m.
--- On resuming at 12.02 p.m.
JUDGE JORDA: We can resume the hearing now. Please be seated.
Mr. Nobilo, we are going now to speak about the 8th of April; is that correct?
MR. NOBILO: That's right, Mr. President, the 8th of April is one that was mentioned very frequently in the course of this case. 18429
Q. In April, there was a regular meeting of the civilian organs of authority which you attended. What kind of meeting was this? How often did you attend meetings of the civilian organs of authority, and then tell us about the course of the meeting itself?
A. It was a meeting which was attended by the representatives of the Croatian people in the parliament of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, then there were the representatives of the HDZ for the Central Bosnia region, and the presidents of the Croatian Defence Council of the municipalities in Central Bosnia.
Q. When you say "presidents of the Croatian Defence Council," is that a military or civilian structure?
A. They are exclusively civilian representatives of power and authority. They had coordinating meetings, that is to say, the representatives of the civilian authorities would hold this kind of meeting approximately once to twice a month.
I was invited to attend the meeting to inform the gentlemen present of the topical military situation in Central Bosnia.
Q. Tell us, prior to that, did you have occasion to attend those meetings frequently, and when did you 18430 attend a meeting with the civilian organs of power and authority in this way the last time?
A. The last time I attended that kind of meeting was on the 22nd of September, 1992. The meeting was then held in Busovaca. I did not attend those meetings otherwise except when I was invited to do so. So if they invited me, I would respond; otherwise, I went on with my own military tasks and did not participate in their meetings.
Q. Thank you. So we are not going to recount the course of that meeting, but you received some information at around 3.00 p.m., pertaining to the situation in Konjic. Were you worried about that? What was it about?
A. Yes, I was extremely concerned because the military intelligence service had received a message that, in Konjic, combat activities were being carried on by the BH army and that Croatian villages were falling and that the refugees from them were moving towards Kiseljak and Fojnica in part and another part were going to the south.
Q. At about 6.00 p.m., you received a series of information on the disquieting situation in Travnik. What was actually going on in Travnik?
A. In the afternoon, a complete unit of the BH 18431 army was introduced there; it had between 300 to 500 soldiers, and they arrived at the barracks in Travnik. After that, the BH army opened fire on the Croat civilians who were busy decorating the town of Travnik because Easter was coming up.
Q. How were they decorating the town?
A. They were putting up some street lighting, that is to say, on the lampposts of the street lighting, they put up Croatian flags side by side with the Bosniak Muslim flags which had already been displayed and put up because there was the Islamic religious ceremony, Bajram.
Then shooting began from a BH army patrol in the town of Travnik proper. They shot at the building of the military district court in Travnik.
Q. The same day but later on, in the Travnik hospital, the sanatorium, the army of
Bosnia-Herzegovina entered there. Could you explain the strategic position of the hospital in Travnik and what this represented for the army?
A. For the army, this meant complete control of the town of Travnik in the military sense of the word, and it meant the stationing of their own forces behind the backs of the forces of the HVO who were engaged in defending the town of Travnik on sector number 2, which 18432 was Mescema Kraljevice. I can show you this on the model, if need be.
Q. It's not vital at present. We will come to that later on. Let's move on to the 9th of April, 1993, when you sent Enver Hadzihasanovic a letter of protest?
A. I sent a protest letter and expressed my surprise at the fact that the flags of the Croatian people were being burned in the town of Travnik and, although for a very short space of time, on the same lampposts, there had only been one flag, that is, the flag of the Bosniak Muslim people, which was put up to celebrate the Muslim religious feast of Bajram, and I expected that the commander of the 3rd Corps, Enver, would have a positive reaction to quieting tensions and preventing any further incidents and escalation in the town of Travnik.
Q. Despite that, at about noon, by the Sarena mosque, an incident broke out, and Ilija Nakic had problems there. What did Ilija Nakic inform of you and who was Ilija Nakic?
A. Ilija Nakic was the commander of the brigade that was being formed, the Frankopan Brigade, a fledgling brigade, and at about noon he conveyed information to me by which, in the course of the night 18433 of the 8th of April, at about 22.00 hours, the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, at the barricade set up at the Sarena mosque, at the entrance to the town of Travnik, had detained four brigade officers from the Travnik area and took them in for questioning, maltreated them, and only at the intervention from the Travnik Brigade, taken against the BH army, the officers were freed, only after that intervention.
Q. Almost at the same time you received disquieting information from Busovaca where the positions of the BH army were being conveyed to you and their plans after Konjic.
A. Yes. This information was received pertaining to Busovaca and Kiseljak, and they said the following, and I quote: "When we finish with Konjic and Gornji Vakuf from Busovaca and Kiseljak, not a single stone will be left standing in Busovaca and Kiseljak."
Q. Quite obviously this was a threat. According to your information, who issued this threat and who was this threat directed at, to make matters clearer?
A. The threat was stated by the members of the BH army, the threat was made by members of the BH army, and it was addressed to the HVO members and the Croatian people of the Busovaca and Kiseljak 18434 municipalities.
Q. At 12.45, once again information was received about a new incident. Who took part in that incident?
A. That day, Mr. Thebault moved along the Travnik communication line, he did not tell me whether he was going into Travnik or out of Travnik, but the incident took place at the place of Puticevo where Mr. Thebault was controlling the checkpoint set up there, was touring the checkpoint set up there. A drunken soldier from amongst the ranks of the HVO cocked his personal arm at Mr. Thebault and threatened him using bad language and asked him why Thebault was controlling the area, why was he spying on them, and so on and so forth.
I asked that an investigation be conducted with regard to this incident, and I was informed of the incident and of the measures that had been taken to deal with it.
Q. On that same day, at 1.00 p.m., in Travnik, there was an attempt on the life of an HVO officer --
JUDGE JORDA: What group were these soldiers from? I wasn't paying close enough attention.
A. Mr. President, the soldier was from within the ranks of the HVO.
JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. Please continue. 18435
Q. Another question, another incident, another attempt at killing at 3.00 p.m. in Travnik.
A. On that day, from Travnik, an officer of the command of the Travnik Brigade was in a vehicle, he was being driven and he was stopped at the barricade at the Sarena mosque or multi-coloured mosque; and when his documents were identified and scrutinised and when his car was searched, after his car had been searched, he continued his journey towards Vitez. There was a burst of fire from an automatic Kalashnikov rifle at him and his vehicle by members of the BH army; they shot at them.
Q. Was an agreement reached that day on the removal of the BH army from the sanatorium from which vantage point it controlled the town of Travnik?
A. Yes, an agreement had been reached because the army taken over the only hospital in the region, which was the hospital of Travnik.
Q. On that day, you had the weekend before you, it was Easter, and you went home to Brestovsko to the Kiseljak municipality. How did you go home?
A. I went home, I was transported from in front of the Vitez Hotel by two armoured vehicles belonging to BritBat of the UN and taken to Kiseljak. 18436
Q. In the course of the Easter holidays, you visited one of the commanders of the BH army. Can you tell us briefly what happened on that occasion?
A. My wife and I visited the Drinjak family. They were friends of ours.
Q. And what religion are they?
A. They are Muslim Bosniaks, but whenever there were any holidays, we would visit each other. I have known the family from the days that I spent in the former Yugoslav People's Army and we remained friends ever since, family friends.
Q. What function did Mr. Drinjak perform at that time? What was his position?
A. As far as I know, he was the commander of the brigade of the BH army within the composition of the 3rd Corps of the BH army.
Q. Do you know the emblem of the brigade or do you just know that he was commander?
A. At one point, that brigade was within the composition of the 3rd Corps, and it was afterwards that it became part of the 1st Corps.
Q. But it is all the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina?
A. Yes, it is, so I'm not quite sure which number that brigade had, the number of the brigade.
Q. After the holidays, on the 12th of April, 18437 1993, we come to a Monday, it was a Monday, and it was the last week before the war between the Muslims and Croats which occurred on the Thursday, it began on Thursday and flared up on Friday of that week. Tell us, where were you on Monday, the 12th of April, 1993?
A. Up until noon, I was in Kiseljak, or round about noon, and then I was transported once again by UNPROFOR vehicles from Kiseljak to Vitez, and from 1.00 p.m. onwards, or that afternoon at any rate, I was at the Vitez Hotel, and we were celebrating Easter. There was a reception at the Hotel Vitez to celebrate Easter.
Q. And Bajram, the Muslim holiday, which was several days earlier and which is the biggest Muslim festival, your representatives were present, were they not, and you presented them with a jeep, I think, and the Catholic holiday of Easter. Tell us, please, did any member of the BH army come to visit you for Easter?
A. No, but for Christmas in 1992-1993, for the Christmas of that year, the complete composition of the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, I have in mind all the commanders from the region, attended a Christmas cocktail.
Q. The absence of the usual courteous meetings and visits, was this a sign of some kind or did you not 18438 attach any particular attention to that at the time?
JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me. I have a question about what was said. This holiday that you were organising for Easter, who in the Bosnian army was coming and who wasn't coming? I didn't really understand. It seemed that the witness first said that they didn't come and then he said that they did come. Could you clarify this for us, please, General Blaskic?
Q. Yes, just briefly, for Easter, on the 12th of April, 1993, nobody, no representative of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina attended.
Tell us, General, did you invite representatives of the BH army to attend your celebrations?
Q. So it was an invitation to attend the Easter festivity, reception.
On the same day, there was a conflict in Travnik between the BH army and the HVO; is that correct? If so, could you tell the Court what you recall of that event?
A. A conflict broke out between a group of BH army members, that is to say, military policemen, who 18439 sometime late at night opened fire on the building in which the military police of the Croatian Defence Council was stationed. They opened fire using hand-held rocket launchers and automatic weapons, and I think that one policeman was seriously wounded and two women were injured as well who happened to be passing by that street at that particular time of the night.
Q. At the same time, there were mass arrests of Croatian intellectuals; is that true? Who arrested these Croatian intellectuals and where were they taken?
A. According to the information that I received, all Croatian intellectuals were arrested and taken to a facility called the Tvrdjava or fortress. This was in the town of Travnik.
Q. Who managed to free them and in what way?
A. They were freed by Mr. Filipovic who, at that time, was commander of the Travnik Brigade, through negotiations with Mr. Alagic, and they were released the following day, all of them.
Q. On the 12th of April, you received information that earlier, that is, at 23.00 hours, the positions of the HVO had been attacked by the BH army. Can you tell me where this was and what the result was of this attack?
A. The positions which had been attacked were 18440 manned by members of the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski, and this was in the area of Donje Polje. The attack was carried out by the BH army troops from Kacuni, and in the area of the village of Bare, the attack was carried out by troops from Rovna, Pezici, and Vranjska. The attack was repelled.
Q. On that day, you received information that the day earlier there was an incident in Vitez. What was that incident about?
A. This was a Sunday, and Croats in Vitez attended the holy mass in the church. Two officers from the Vitez Brigade command took the main road from the church to go back home going through Old Vitez. The BH army from Old Vitez took them prisoner, detained them for questioning, there was even some physical abuse involved, but after the Vitez Brigade commander intervened, those officers were released.
Q. That day, 12 April, 1993, Anto Valenta was evacuated from Travnik and arrived in Vitez. Can you tell the Trial Chamber, what was Anto Valenta's position and where did he move?
A. Anto Valenta was a coordinator in the government of the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna. For a period of time, but I'm not sure of this, I think he was also one of the vice-presidents of the Croatian 18441 Community of Herceg-Bosna for Central Bosnia. Due to a very uncertain security situation in Travnik, he left the Travnik office, moved to Vitez, and temporarily moved into the office of the chief of staff in Hotel Vitez, that is, into the chief of staff, Mr. Franjo Nakic's office.
Q. Was Anto Valenta ever your political advisor?
Q. Did you have such a position in the Operative Zone of Central Bosnia?
A. No, never.
Q. On that same day, there was another large convoy with a large amount of ammunition which arrived. Whose convoy was this?
A. It was a BH army convoy and it was destined to go to Srebrenica, and it was unloaded at Visoko at the headquarters of the BH army there.
Q. How do you know that it was headed for Visoko, how did you learn about this, and did this situation remind you of a previous situation?
A. An officer from Kiseljak told me this, and in Visoko, people who unloaded this convoy were ethnic Croats, and also the escort was properly provided by the HVO. So I had to inform the chief of the main staff, I always had to inform him of any convoy passing 18442 through whose security the HVO was also providing an escort.
Q. Did this convoy pass through without any obstruction, unimpeded?
Q. On that day, an additional review of the Vitez Brigade was conducted. What was the finding there?
A. This was a renewed control and review at the Vitez Brigade and it had to do with its organisation and establishment. The results, that is, the report of this control was practically identical with the previous review because we needed to start from scratch in the organisation of this brigade.
Q. Did you provide any assistance to help this brigade finally be established?
A. Yes. I assigned an officer who had been working on the issues of organisation at the Central Bosnia Operative Zone. I detached him from the command and sent him to the Vitez Brigade with the task of training the Vitez Brigade officers in the organisation of the Vitez Brigade.
Q. What officer was that?
A. This was Mr. Vjeko Buzuk, who was in charge of the organisation issues. 18443
Q. Let's move on to 13 April, 1993. There was a new incident in Zenica and there were some wounded people.
A. Yes. A member of HOS in Zenica threw a hand grenade, a defensive hand grenade, in the street, and six children were seriously injured with it.
Q. On that day, at 13.15 hours, reinforcement of the BH army arrived. Where and what type of information did you receive in that regard?
A. On that day, a large group of the BH army soldiers arrived in Vitez, that is, to Old Vitez, in Old Vitez, in motor vehicles and dismounted very close to the Workers' Hall building in Old Vitez.
Q. There were also problems in Kakanj. You received information that day that the command post was empty. What happened to that command post?
A. I had already mentioned that the Kakanj military police had been driven out of the town of Kakanj by the BH army, and on that day, the command post or headquarters was completely empty.
Q. What was the information which you later received? Why did it happen?
A. The information was that all members of the command staff resigned collectively from their posts in the Kakanj police force, and the reason mentioned was 18444 the fear of violence and pressure on the part of the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and also members of the Kakanj force were killed at Ravno Rostovo, they were killed by the Mujahedeen group.
Q. There is an incident at Zukica bridge. What happened there?
A. At Zukica bridge, which was a part of the zone of responsibility of the 306th Mountain Brigade of the BH army, the entire shift of soldiers was arrested. They were en route to the front lines against the army of the Republika Srpska.
Q. Whose soldiers were these?
A. The detained soldiers were HVO soldiers.
Q. There was an incident with flags in Vitez similar to the one in Travnik. What happened there?
A. In Vitez, there was no flag-burning as in Travnik by the BH army members, but fire was opened from automatic rifles by members of the BH army on Croatian flags which were hoisted in celebration of Easter holidays.
Q. You received information from the security service regarding the sabotage units?
A. Yes. This was information which was transmitted to me which said that, in the territory of Vitez municipality, sabotage groups were being 18445 established and that Ferid Kalco was heading one of these groups.
Q. Who was organising those sabotage units?
A. It was the BH army from Vitez.
Q. On that day, in addition to other incidents, there was a major incident, that is, the humanitarian aid convoy was looted. Who committed this act and what was the result?
A. This was part of this continuous activity of criminal groups. This was on the road between Puticevo and Nova Bila, a convoy of about 15 trucks went missing, and, in addition, there were 30 cars. The convoy was abducted and the goods disappeared.
Q. That same day, around 18.00 hours, you again had to deal with criminal activities in Central Bosnia. What was that about?
A. I requested to be given the follow-up on my order of the 18th in which I asked for the removal of criminal elements from the HVO units. I had already addressed the issue of crime, and I knew that by early April, only 32 criminal reports were filed.
JUDGE JORDA: The problem of the months that I'm faced with, I'm having a problem with these months. The order was on the 18th of March? I didn't really quite understand what was said there. The 18446 transcript doesn't help me on the subject.
JUDGE JORDA: Thank you.
Q. What does it mean, that 32 criminal reports were filed? Who had filed them and to whom?
A. They were filed by the civilian police to the district -- by the military and civilian police to the district military court for Central Bosnia.
Q. On that day, you also dealt with the moving into of Muslim homes in the municipality.
A. Yes. I asked the civilian authorities to provide me a report on this illegal moving into of apartments owned by Bosniak Muslims in the Vitez municipality, and I asked for ways to stop such activities.
Q. About 20.00 hours, Nakic gave you information about a meeting with civilian authorities. Who met with whom and why?
A. The representatives of the civilian authorities of Vitez; Croats and Muslims, met and the agreement was reached regarding the issue with flags in Vitez, and they tried to calm down this incident. I was also informed by Nakic that they managed to agree, to come to an agreement. 18447
Q. Who attended, representatives of which authorities?
A. Representatives of the HVO authorities and the authorities -- that is, civilian Muslim authorities.
Q. When you say "representatives of the HVO authorities," who are you referring to?
A. I am referring to the mayor of Vitez and president of the HDZ for Vitez municipality.
Q. Around 11.15, a bridge was blown up. What was that about?
A. It was Sarica bridge which was blown up, and, in a way, traffic was slowed down or brought under control -- this was in the Travnik municipality -- and the control there had the 306th Mountain Brigade of the BH army.
Q. At 19.10 hours, a mortar shell was fired. What did you learn later? What was the significance of this single shell firing?
A. Yes. This shell was fired at Puticevo in the immediate vicinity of the checkpoint which at that time was manned by the civilian police of the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna. At that moment, we considered it an incident but, in fact, later on it turned out that this was an initial preparation for 18448 mortar attack.
Q. Can you give us more details about this information?
A. According to the information which I received, the shell came from the direction of Han Bila, which meant that after the initial assessment of the point of impact of this shell, the coordinates would be produced which would then serve as a corrective, and as a basis for the future mortar shelling. This is a minimum preparation that is sometimes used for the preparation of a mortar attack.
Q. On the 14th of April, there was a celebration of the BH army in Old Vitez.
Q. Did you send anybody there?
A. Yes. On the 14th of April, at the celebrations in Stari Vitez, the commander of the brigade that was being formed in Vitez was sent, Mr. Mario Cerkez. In Zenica, on the 14th of April, to celebrate Army Day, Mr. Zivko Totic went and Mr. Vinko Baresic. Mr. Zivko Totic personally conveyed congratulation, my own congratulations, to the commander of the 3rd Corps. In the town of Kiseljak, Army Day celebrations were held on the 14th of April, and once again, the members of the Josip Ban Jelacic 18449 Brigade were present at that festivity.
Q. A present was donated --
A. Well, yes, in the desire for good cooperation, we presented the gift of a vehicle, heavy-duty vehicle, to the command of the municipal headquarters of the BH army, I think that was what it was called, from Kiseljak.
Q. On the 14th of April, you still dealt with the convoy that had been abducted carrying the humanitarian aid. What reports did you receive as to that issue?
A. Yes, that was one of my preoccupations, and I received initial reports according to which most of the vehicles that had been abducted were stationed in Nova Bila but that the goods taken from the humanitarian vehicles had already been distributed for the most part.
Q. On that same day, the 14th of April, there was an abduction, an abduction took place. Who took whom from where, and what did that mean for the overall situation?
A. I was informed of that kidnapping on the 14th of April, and it occurred in the afternoon hours or perhaps the evening of the 13th of April. It occurred in Novi Travnik where four officers were kidnapped from 18450 the command of the Novi Travnik Brigade, the Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade of Novi Travnik, during their return from touring the front line.
Q. The front line towards whom?
A. The front line facing the Republika Srpska army and the zone of responsibility of that.
Q. Were they HVO troops who controlled the front?
A. Yes, they were members of the Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade who held the front line at Kamenjas, Mravinac, and in that direction.
Q. Could you show us on the model to refresh our memories?
A. That is the position there (indicating).
Q. Did you receive any information as to where they had been taken and what their fate was?
A. Well, we received information that it was possible that the kidnappers were perhaps members of the Mujahedeen who had a camp at Ravno Rostovo, and via the members of the joint commission, Nakic and Dzemo, we asked that already on the 14th a commission, joint commission, be sent to investigate the area, including the Mujahedeen camp there, so as to gain more information as to the fate of those kidnapped officers. After the abduction had taken place, all that 18451 remained was a bashed-up vehicle, and we did not know whether the four individuals were alive or not.
Q. From Konjic, information arrived that same day. What information was that?
A. It were very disquieting, it was very worrying information for that area because Konjic itself was on the brink of a downfall, and the HVO in Konjic was in a total encirclement and had been beheaded, so to speak, whereas the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina in Konjic was in the final stages of taking control of the municipality.
Q. So who made this encirclement, who formed the encirclement?
A. This encirclement was formed by the members of the BH army, they held the encirclement, and the people who were encircled were the Croats.
Q. On the same day, in addition to the usual difficulties that you had with communications and links, you received disquieting information as to the packet link disturbances and the fall of the packet communication and link. Who caused that?
A. According to the information that I received, I heard that the communication line with the main headquarters had broken down ...
JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me, please. You can 18452 resume. Just go back a little bit.
Q. Yes. The breakdown of communications with the main command, was that just by chance or through interference of any kind? What are your recollections of the event?
A. Well, for the most part, from the beginning of April, we had very frequent interference in our communications by the BH army, but it is difficult to say whether this happened at that particular point because there was a breakdown in communications very often.
Q. Snipers became active in April. Can you explain this to us?
A. Snipers became active, the snipers of the BH army, in the part of the Travnik area which is called Kalibunar, and it was aimed against the windows of Croatian apartments. The victims were, for the most part, Croatian civilians in Travnik living at Kalibunar.
Q. In Busovaca, what about that? In Busovaca, there was a fresh incident linked to an ambulance?
A. At that time, we were forced to take severely injured people from Busovaca for therapy and treatment to Fojnica, we had to transport them to Fojnica, and we 18453 used ambulances for that purpose; and there was agreement on both sides, between the BH army and the HVO, that is to say, and when they returned from treatment, the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina in Kacuni abducted an ambulance. It detained the wounded and the medical personnel and subjected them to several hours of interrogation. The members of the staff, medical staff, were Croats and so was the injured individual.
Q. On that same day, the 14th of April, there was an attempted killing of a commander of the special purpose unit of the Vitezovi, Darko Kraljevic. Who tried to kill him and in what way?
A. This occurred, according to the information that reached me, on the road from Kruscica towards Zabrdje or, in other words, from Vitez via Kruscica towards Zabrdje. He was in his heavy-duty vehicle. He was stopped at a barricade. They opened fire on him and his escorts, that is to say, the members of the BH army opened fire on them. He succeeded in jumping out of the vehicle, and he was completely surrounded by members of the BH army.
After having received information about this, I called the commander of the UN in Vitez, but the officer on duty called me, the UN officer on duty in Vitez, and I asked for aid and assistance from the 18454 UNPROFOR forces to solve this serious incident. I asked the UN to reach that position in their armoured vehicles and to give assistance to Commander Kraljevic whose life was threatened.
Q. In the course of the night, did Darko Kraljevic succeed in escaping from that situation?
A. Yes, he did, because the members of UNPROFOR, with two light tanks, left for the place where he had been surrounded, and I insisted that the UN command should extend aid and assistance to him because if he were liquidated the situation in Vitez would quite certainly be completely out of anybody's control.
Q. On the same day, information reached you about the Mujahedeen in Stari Vitez.
A. Yes. I received information that, in Stari Vitez, Mujahedeen were being brought in and were being put up in facilities in Stari Vitez owned by Bosniak Muslims.
Q. The commander of the military police, the chief of military police, Stipo Babrka, arrested Merdan and Nakic, and Baggesen was also present. What do you know about that event, how did it end, and where did all this take place?
A. I was informed that all this occurred in the hotel, we referred to it as the new hotel in Novi 18455 Travnik, which is where the headquarters of the Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade of Novi Travnik was located. At about 23.00 hours in the evening, I was called by Franjo Nakic, and he informed me that all of them had been arrested by the commander, the chief of military police, and when I asked who had been arrested, Franjo told me that he himself had been arrested as well as Dzemo Merdan and the head of the European Monitoring Mission, Mr. Baggesen.
Q. What was the reason for this? Why had such prominent individuals been arrested?
A. The chief of military police was not satisfied with their investigation which they had been performing throughout the day on the 14th of April in an effort to find out what had happened to the kidnapped officers from the Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade command.
He told them, that is to say, Stipo, the chief of police, told them that he supposed that the Mujahedeen would liquidate the kidnapped officers.
Q. What was your reaction in response to this? Was this a normal situation?
A. This was a very serious situation because, first of all, we needed to calm down the chief of the military police who, at that time, was completely 18456 beside himself. I'm convinced that those present in the room where those who were arrested were could hear cursing and everything else that the chief of the military police said to me also.
I asked the commander to move to another room for fear that at a moment of extreme anger he could do something irrational and harm the arrested officers.
Q. Why didn't you just say, "Stipo Babrka, I am Commander Blaskic, commander of the Central Bosnia Operative Zone. Release these men. You have two or three minutes." Would you have done so in the JNA? Why didn't you do it in the HVO?
A. It was not possible to do so because I know that at least Dzemo Merdan would have been executed right there on the spot and perhaps the others too. I had never, throughout my career in the JNA, heard the number of abusive words directed at me by Commander Babrka in the presence of the gentlemen who were under arrest, and I could not order him this because he knew that I did not have authority to issue him such an order.
Q. So what did you do in this situation? Please explain.
A. I first managed to have Stipo move to another room and then talked to him for over an hour and 18457 eventually convinced him to release the arrested individuals. This finally happened around 01.00 hours on the morning of the 15th of April, 1993, in Novi Travnik. It took almost two hours, our discussion and back and forth.
MR. NOBILO: Could the witness please be shown Defence Exhibit 263?
Q. Very well. On the 14th of April, 1993, you issued an order to the 4th Battalion of the military police in Vitez to organise a search for the kidnapped officers of the headquarters of the Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade in Novi Travnik. I'm not going to read the entire order, but, first of all, is this the order that you issued to launch a search?
Q. This order is addressed to the commander of the 4th military police battalion in Vitez. Why could you issue such an order to this commander on the 14th of April, 1993?
A. This was the time when the military police had already been reorganised and when I was able to issue orders to the military police in the form of daily tasks, but no more than just daily military police duties.
Q. Would providing security for the HVO officers 18458 and search for the HVO officers fall within the area of daily tasks?
MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, I would now like to move to the 15th of April which is a very significant date, indeed, because it was on that date when the orders were issued which are in the indictment, so it would perhaps be good to address that in one try, one attempt.
JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo, are you saying you prefer that we stop right now? I think that's what you're saying.
MR. NOBILO: Yes, Your Honour, because what I'm about to start is one integral whole together with the events of the 16th of April in Ahmici, so I would prefer to do it as one whole.
JUDGE JORDA: Very well. We will resume at 2.45.
--- Luncheon recess taken at 1.08 p.m.
--- On resuming at 2.54 p.m.
JUDGE JORDA: We will now resume the hearing. Please be seated.
I would like to inform you of something, inform the parties. From now on, every Friday, having to do with the changes in the bench of Judges here and 18459 out of our desire to accelerate the trial, we'll begin at 9.00. I'm saying this for the interpreters as well. Of course, we'll have two breaks, but we're going to begin at 9.00 on Friday mornings and will work until 1.30 with two breaks which will let us gain another three-quarters of an hour which I think will be welcome in respect of our schedule.
I would also like to remind the Defence that at the end of tomorrow morning, if possible, before we leave for the week, we would ask for an evaluation of the testimony in progress, that is, of the accused, to let us know where we are and to allow us to think about how we're going to organise our work. Thank you very much.
Let me now turn to Mr. Nobilo and ask him to continue with the examination-in-chief.
MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President. As we said when we broke for lunch, we are moving to the 15th of April, 1993.
Q. General, let us try to reconstruct this day, make a reconstruction of it. How did that morning start? Who did you meet first and then what happened next?
A. It was usual for me to meet with my chief of staff in the morning, and I met with Mr. Franjo Nakic, 18460 my chief of staff, that morning. He informed me of the results of his meeting with Dzemo Merdan and activities of the joint commission of the previous day and previous evening.
He also mentioned that they had been released at 01.00 hours of the 15th of April, that is, when they were released from the custody of the military police in Travnik. Also the chief of staff told me that morning that he wasn't feeling well, and since he was diabetic, that his sugar levels were not right, that he was exhausted, and he requested to go home and spend the rest of the day resting. I agreed with his request, and very soon thereafter, I think sometime around 9.00, Nakic left. He left my office at around 8.30 and went home.
Q. In these morning hours, you also received information of an abduction and killing in Zenica.
A. Around 8.30, I had a regular morning briefing with the other assistants, and all of my associates were there, with the exception of Nakic. It could have been 8.40 by the time we started the meeting, and the duty officer entered my office and said, "Zivko Totic was abducted this morning as he was going to work and his escort was killed." I asked him whether he had any additional information -- 18461
JUDGE JORDA: Totic was who? I don't remember. What was his position?
A. Mr. President, Zivko Totic was commander of the Zenica HVO, that is, the HVO Zenica Brigade.
JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. Please continue.
A. He was the brigade commander. After that, I asked the duty officer to stay on the line with the Zenica Brigade headquarters and to find additional information relating to the abduction of Zivko Totic. This was a regular morning briefing, and I immediately requested of the commander of the military police and the assistant for security to designate the professionals from their staffs who would help with the investigation of this incident which took place in Zenica.
JUDGE JORDA: Try to go to the essential points, please. I know this may appear essential, but try really to go to the essentials of your defence. I'm sure that you did many things on the 15th of April but try to concentrate on the essential points; all right?
A. Very well, Mr. President.
JUDGE JORDA: If it is essential, then say so, that's not the issue, but it is true that in a day many things happen from 8.00 in the morning until 18462 midnight, especially in times of almost-war, so try to go to the most important things which will make the Judges' work easier, and we thank you for doing so. Please continue.
A. Thank you, Mr. President.
MR. NOBILO: That is correct, Mr. President, you will see from the next question.
Q. On the basis of the event in Zenica, that is, the abduction of the Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade in Zenica and a series of incidents which you experienced in the previous 48 hours, you decided to issue an order.
A. Not only on the basis of all the incidents which we had mentioned but also the information I received from the military intelligence service. So on the basis of all these events, I decided to issue an order, and I personally started drafting this document in the period between 9.00 and 10.00 in the morning, focusing primarily on this executive part of the order --
Q. Could we please show the witness Exhibit D267. This is an order issued by General Blaskic which will have very important consequences later.
MR. KEHOE: Mr. President, just one matter while counsel is collecting this particular exhibit, 18463 with regard to Mr. Nobilo's statement, he described in his question, if you take a look at the transcript, he's discussing the Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade, and I believe what he meant was the Jure Francetic Brigade. So just by way of clarifying the record, that should be the Jure Francetic Brigade in Zenica.
MR. NOBILO: That is correct. Apparently I misspoke. I had mentioned an abduction of four officers of the Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade and the abduction of the commander of the Jure Francetic Brigade in Zenica.
MR. KEHOE: I'm not finding any fault, just correcting the context, that the brigade in Zenica was the Jure Francetic Brigade. That's all.
JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Mr. Kehoe. Let me turn to the accused. It might seem that I'm contradicting myself since I asked you to go to the essentials, but when you speak about the meeting you had with Franjo Nakic in the morning, he was the one who had been kidnapped the evening before, was he not? Am I right or am I wrong? Wasn't he arrested the night before on the 14th of April with Merdan? No, I wasn't wrong then. Okay.
A. Mr. President, he was not abducted on the 15th of April. He was abducted on the 14th of April. 18464
JUDGE JORDA: I wanted to ask you that question without going into too many details. You spoke about the fact that he was a diabetic, but I was really surprised that you didn't speak about his kidnapping. It seems to me that if I were to be kidnapped today and released tomorrow, I would probably be talking about the time that I was kidnapped.
MR. HAYMAN: Mr. President, there must be a problem in what you're hearing because the witness said a moment ago he met with Nakic on the morning of the 15th, they talked about the events of the prior evening which is a reference to the kidnapping, and then, because of his health, he asked to go home. That was very clear in the English translation.
JUDGE JORDA: All right. It was the connection that didn't really come through in the French interpretation, and I'm not blaming the booth for it at all because this is all very complicated, but that's reassuring because if one is kidnapped on the 14th, obviously one would talk about the next day when one is released on the 15th, but I keep my main point, I go back to my point when I asked you to try to concentrate on the essentials; otherwise after awhile, we get lost because you do so many things, you're a captain in a war, you command things, you're busy 18465 restructuring things, you're busy with discipline and hierarchy, you're conducting a war, you're doing many, many things, and for a young colonel, that's a lot. So really try to concentrate on the most important points; all right?
A. Very well, Mr. President. Let me just mention that, in my response, I did mention that I had a discussion with Mr. Nakic about the kidnapping or abduction, and I'm not sure what interpretation you got.
JUDGE JORDA: I'm sorry for having interrupted you. I'm afraid I'm the one who caused us to lose some time, but I'm going to count on you, Mr. Nobilo, in order to make up for the time we've lost.
MR. NOBILO: Very well, Mr. President, but if you will just allow me to show that almost everything here is very important, one of the very important witnesses of the Prosecution accused the General that he had gotten rid of Nakic, who was leaning towards compromise, in order to be able to start the war. So this is why this is important, the whole thing about diabetes and blood sugar levels has some importance.
JUDGE JORDA: Let's continue. I'm sure that diabetes has its own significance. All right. Go 18466 ahead.
Q. So around 10.00 or somewhere between 9.00 or 10.00, you started drafting this order which we have in front of us. It is a long one. I don't even want to read it in its entirety, even though it is extremely significant, but I want to read certain parts. In the first part, you are describing a situation on the ground, which you already described to us, so I'm going to skip that part.
Next, you are anticipating the directions of the attack or the assault by the BH army, and I'm going to read the fourth point of the order which says: "One --"
Yes, on the first page, fourth paragraph: "One of their main tasks is the --"
THE INTERPRETER: Excuse me.
MR. HAYMAN: "One of their main assignments," middle of the paragraph.
THE INTERPRETER: Thank you. Thank you. Apologies from the booth.
Q. "One of their main assignments is, of course, liquidation of the Operative Zone Command and, considering their sabotage activities, its complete 18467 destruction, for which in the night of 14/15 April, 1993 they brought forces to the structures of the Firehouse in Vitez, the school in Kruscica, and the Nadioci and Ahmici villages in order to set up a blockade and to Gornja Rovna and Pezici in order to prevent aid, and 8 April, 1993 they brought the Krajisnici to Travnik for intervention activity," and then you are giving assignment to our forces, that is, the forces of the HVO.
THE INTERPRETER: Can we see the top of the page, please?
Q. "To prevent the politically extremist Muslim forces from carrying out their assignments and to be in a state of preparedness for intervention activities with concrete assignments.
"2.1. IV MILITARY POLICE BATTALION "The commander of the IV Battalion of the military police is directly responsible for the security of the forward command post in Vitez; he must carry out an assessment of the condition and strengthen the security in order to prevent surprises. The Busovaca-Vitez-Travnik road must be free for unimpeded traffic to all persons and military formations, and any placing of barricades on the part of MOS is to be 18468 prevented according to the rules for use of the military police force.
"In the event of an intense attack by the Muslim extremist forces from the direction of the villages Nadioci-Ahmici-Sivrino Selo-Pirici, inform me of it; and, if the fire is opened directly at you, return fire and neutralise the attackers. "Pay special attention to the security of command post and the commander.
"2.2. The special purpose battalion 'Vitezovi' will act on special assignment in the event of a breakthrough in the defence lines. Its assignment is to prevent enemy advancements, particularly in the direction of Stari Vitez" -- it's barely legible, but I think it says -- "in particular from the direction of Stari Vitez where the BH army military police, the civilian Muslim police, and anti-sabotage, a platoon of the BH army, are located, with the probable assignment to act against the high command of the Operative Zone. The essential assignment is to carry out a blockade of the above-mentioned forces and prevent them from attacking the command. Be in a state of preparedness for intervention activity according to the given assignments.
"2.ASSIGNMENT TO THE HVO BRIGADES: 18469 "Carry out the defence in your zone of
responsibility and prevent the extremist Muslim forces from openly cleansing the territory and from carrying out a genocide of the Croatian people and realisation of their goals. Be in a state of preparedness to carry out a decisive defence of the territory of the Croatian people. Pull out the forces only after the people have been evacuated and provided for, and upon my approval." Commander - Colonel Tihomir Blaskic.
Now, let me take you back to that morning between 9.00 and 10.00 when you started drafting this order. Did you have any contacts? Did you draft it in full? How did it go?
A. Your Honours, about 9.00, after the briefing, I started drafting this order, but I knew that at 10.00 that day, I had another meeting with Gianluca who was from the International Red Cross, so I was in a hurry trying to finish this draft, and in the first part, I wanted to define the assignments of our forces, the HVO forces. This is what is in heading 2.1.
As I was working on it, Mr. Darko Kraljevic arrived, who recounted what had happened to him the previous night, on 14 April, 1993, during the attempt on his life, that is, the attempt at liquidating him by the forces of the BH army. At that time, he already 18470 knew about the incident in Zenica, and he literally said, "Does this mean that there is a manhunt going on against us?" meaning the HVO officers.
After this conversation, I reiterated that it was clear to me that the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina had targeted the HVO commanders in Vitez, Travnik, Novi Travnik, and Zenica.
I continued drafting this order but did not finish this introductory part by 10.00 because Gianluca, with whom I had previously arranged a meeting from before, had arrived.
Q. Did you inform Darko Kraljevic of the order that you were drafting?
A. Well, it was in my handwriting on my table. He saw the order, and I told him that I was issuing this preparatory order because it was quite obvious that attacks were being carried on against the members of the HVO.
Q. Was there any mention of the use of the Vitezovi on the basis of that order?
A. Well, first of all, he expressed his gratitude to me for having become involved the day earlier, and he placed himself at my disposal and said that he was ready to work according to the assignments that he would receive from me as the commander of the 18471 Operative Zone.
After Gianluca arrived, or while he was in the process of arriving, I called the deputy chief of staff, Mr. Slavko Marin, to come, and I handed him the order, the draft order, believing that he would complete it with regard to the introductory part and then dispatch it to the units.
Q. Let us take a look at the order once again. You said that it was a preparatory order. What is the difference between a preparatory order and an executive order, combat order?
A. Well, the word itself says for itself what it means, that is to say, none of these assignments is carried out but all measures are undertaken within the composition of the HVO units so that they can be ready to act at the moment they receive an executive order, and in simplified terms, it means that they are placed on the ready: Be ready but don't undertake anything until the executive combat order arrives.
Q. Let us now take a look at point 2.1. You are ordering the 4th Battalion of the military police. The things that you are ordering the military police to undertake, how would you characterise them, these actions? Do they represent the combat use of the military police, or does it represent something else? 18472
A. It stipulates in precise detail the fact that the military police should ensure the security of the forward command post, that is to say, Hotel Vitez, and that the commander of the 4th Military Police Battalion is responsible for the choice of manpower to ensure the security of the forward command post and that he would have to assess the existing situation and strengthen security with the aim of preventing any surprises.
Q. What type of activities are these, without going into what this states, compared to military duties?
A. They are regular military police duties, the regular kind of assignment that is undertaken daily.
Q. The security for the command and headquarters and security and control of roads, does that fall within regular police tasks?
A. Yes, they are regular daily tasks assigned the police force.
Q. In comparison to the Vitezovi, what was the idea? What were they to do and under which conditions were they able to be included according to this order?
A. As far as the Vitezovi are concerned, they were to perform the blockade of the onslaught operations of the BH army from Stari Vitez in the direction of the Vitez Hotel, that is to say, the 18473 headquarters of the Operative Zone for Central Bosnia.
Q. The word "blockade," in the military sense, what does it mean?
A. It is a combat tactic operation, tactical operation, in which combat deployment is used to block movement or action by adversary forces, usually either shifts of guards are formed or patrols or defence groups which prevent any breakthrough.
Q. If we were to qualify blockades as defence and attack, what category would this belong to?
A. It is a defence operation, a defence type of combat operation or a defensive operation.
Q. Well, let us leave this order for the time being. We will be going back to it later on. Tell us, just briefly, what the topic was of the visit by the Red Cross representative on the 15th of April.
A. The main topic were the convoys and the abduction of the convoy, and another question was the question of the prisoners. The Red Cross representative brought up the problem of the abduction of the convoy and emphasised that it was not the first case and the first instance that this had happened but that it had become a practice.
Q. Did he ask you to intervene in any way? 18474
A. Yes, he did. He expressly asked that the goods that had been taken away and the vehicles be returned, and I tried to inform him about all the events that had taken place from the 8th of April to about the 15th of April, which means that I told him of the occurrences in Travnik and the things that had been going on in Novi Travnik, Vitez, Zenica, and emphasised that the situation had reached a peak and that it was very difficult to control the situation.
Q. After the end of the meeting, did you take any concrete steps in order to uncover the goods and the vehicles?
A. I gave orders and asked the military police to do what it could to uncover the missing vehicles from the convoy, taken from the convoy, and I ordered that all vehicles which the military police uncovered be parked in front of the headquarters of the Operative Zone for Central Bosnia in Vitez.
Q. Let us go back for a moment to the meeting with the International Red Cross representative. You mentioned the term "prisoners." What prisoners did you have in mind?
A. We discussed prisoners in the Operative Zone of north-west Herzegovina. I think there were some 20 detainees. The representative of the Red Cross asked 18475 me to take measures with Commander Cikulja to sort this out.
Q. But it was outside your zone of responsibility, was it not?
A. Yes, I told him that it was outside my zone of responsibility but that I shall endeavour to collect the necessary information for him.
Q. At about 11.00 or a little after 11.00, you had contacts with Holman from Zenica. What news was he bringing?
A. Holman called me and informed me about the kidnapping of Totic and confirmed that he was at the spot. After that, he told me that there was panic there and that the people in Zenica were in a high state of panic and disarray and fear, and that the town of Zenica had been blocked, that the army was in the streets, and that the police in Zenica were also in the streets.
Q. After that, you had contacts with the crime military police and the security service. What did you discuss at those meetings?
A. I talked to the security assistant and the deputy chief of military police, and I emphasised that it was necessary for all measures to be undertaken so that what had been taken away from the convoy be 18476 returned to it, the goods that had been taken, and that the request that Gianluca had made be respected and complied with.
Q. Did you know that the convoy would be looted and abducted? Did you have any information of this kind before it had actually happened?
A. No, I didn't know that the convoy had started out in that direction nor did I have any information that it would be looted.
Q. At 12.00, you had a meeting with the information officer. Can you tell us briefly about that meeting?
A. Yes. It was Mr. Marko Prskalo. He came to inform me that tensions were running exceptionally high and that the situation was very tense and that there was a great deal of concern, particularly with the Croats in Zenica. He suggested that it would be a good idea if an extraordinary press conference were to be held, and in that way, to speak before the public, address the public, and to send out information and to present the positions of the command of the Operative Zone with respect to the events of that morning that had taken place in Zenica.
Q. Did you accept that and did you hold the press conference? 18477
A. Yes, I did accept, and I held the press conference in Busovaca. It was around 1.00 p.m.
Q. After returning from the press conference in Busovaca, you wrote a new order. What prompted you to write that particular order? What was the motive in drafting the order?
A. For the first time, at the press conference in Busovaca, I saw what was, in fact, going on in Zenica, and I came to understand that this type of conduct on the part of the members of the BH army was a scenario to eliminate the commander, and that this represented pure terrorism. That is why I looked into the question of whether measures should be undertaken, and I decided to issue an order to stop all movement by HVO members. I discussed whether to do this or whether to issue assignments which would limit movement to daily movement along with increased security measures.
MR. NOBILO: Could the witness be shown Defence Exhibit D268 now, please?
Q. It is an order that you yourself issued and signed on the 15th of April, 1993, at 3.45 p.m. It is an order dated the 15th of April, the time is 15.45, and it is "Order to Take Action," that is the title, and it is sent to a number of brigades and the 4th Battalion of the military police. 18478 Tell us, General, is this a combat order, an executive order?
A. This is still an order for raising the combat readiness and still is not a combat order.
Q. Given the heading, "Order to Take Action," can action be taken in terms of anti-terrorist measures?
A. Yes, such action can be taken.
Q. Very well. I'm not going to read the whole order, but you describe the 7th Muslim Brigade and their methods of operation and you issue orders to the brigades to establish groups at a strength of 15 men whose task is to destroy the sabotage units and groups within the 7th Muslim Brigade and so on. Can we call this order an anti-terrorist order, that its goal was fighting terrorism?
A. This order was written following the press conference, and after I became satisfied that the activities which had been committed by the 7th Muslim Brigade, based on the information I had, did represent a classical case of terrorism, and this order still was directed against such terrorist activities.
Q. Could you please look at this order? Who drafted this? Who wrote it up? Who typed it, et cetera? 18479
A. I dictated it, it was taken down by Slavko Marin, and I signed it.
Q. Was this order drafted, typed up, signed, and sent off at the time shown here?
Q. After this document, you received information on shelling at Puticevo.
A. Yes, I received information that mortar shells were falling in the immediate vicinity of the checkpoint at Puticevo and that they were coming from the direction of the fortress, or Tvrdzava, in Travnik.
Q. After that, you have another meeting dealing with the abduction of that big convoy, the 15 trucks and 30 passenger vehicles with humanitarian aid. What were the conclusions of this meeting?
A. I had a meeting with the assistant for security because I was also interested whether anything had been done following that request for return of goods, and the conclusion was that the military police were not able to retrieve this equipment even though we knew at that time that the vehicles were parked on the side of the road between Han Bila and Nova Bila.
Q. Why was the military police not able to retrieve those vehicles?
A. One of the answers was that an armed group 18480 was much more powerful than the police forces available, and that in order for the military police to be able to carry out this, it would have to use force, and the armed group that was holding the convoy was much stronger.
The chief of staff, Mr. Nakic, happens to live very near Nova Bila, and he called me on the telephone and confirmed that the vehicles from this convoy were still in Nova Bila, but he told me, "I am afraid that force would mean nothing to these criminal groups."
Q. So what did you decide to do in order to solve this problem?
A. The assistant for security suggested that we invite members of the military police, that is, the commander of the military police to a meeting, also to invite the commander of the Vitezovi, a representative of this group, his name was Zuti, and a member of the Tvrtkovci unit, and to present to them the overall situation and problems that had arisen in connection with the taking of these goods and to ask for their assistance in retrieving them.
Q. Was this meeting organised and did they show up?
A. This meeting took place somewhere around 18481 17.00 hours, and they did show up at it.
Q. Now, let's, for a moment, disregard the agenda of the meeting, which was the return of the abducted goods, but how did the meeting actually proceed?
A. Yes. The main topic of the meeting was this abducted convoy; however, in the course of the meeting, the duty officer came in with information that the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina was moving from Zenica in the direction of Kuber.
Q. Could you please show Kuber and again point to the significance of Kuber within the Lasva Valley?
JUDGE JORDA: If you don't mind, if you'd first show it to us on the map and then on the model, because on the map we have a better view, and then you can indicate it on the model.
A. Of course, Mr. President. This is Zenica (indicating) and this is Kuber (indicating). In the course of the meeting which I was holding, I received information that the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina was on the move from the steelworks compounds, was passing by the HVO headquarters at Podbrezje and was moving in the direction of Kuber. This is the assessment which we received at the time, and on the model --
JUDGE JORDA: Okay. If you can show us 18482 Zenica, you're still referring to a city that we are familiar with.
A. That is correct, Mr. President. That is Zenica (indicating) and this is Kuber (indicating).
JUDGE JORDA: Okay. It's clear.
Q. Very well. So Kuber is a strategic point for the defence of the Lasva Valley; could we characterise it as such?
A. Yes. This is a strategic point in the defence of the Lasva Valley, and whoever has control of this feature can basically control the entire Lasva Valley. They could carry out attacks in the direction of either Vitez or Busovaca. This is the most important point in the Lasva Valley in relation to Zenica.
JUDGE JORDA: Thank you.
Q. So this information came that the BH army from Zenica was on the move in the direction of this absolutely pivotal strategic point in the Lasva Valley. Did this news cause you some concern?
A. Yes, of course, not the least because the duty officer came in and delivered it in a state of near panic, and he delivered it to everybody present so 18483 everybody overheard this, and the question immediately arose what to do and what position to take with respect to this action on the part of the BH army.
Q. So what was your reaction? Who did you task with following up on this?
A. At that point, I told the participants of the meeting that I had already issued two orders, one that morning and one in the afternoon, and that I expected that these orders would be followed, that is, complied with. I asked Slavko Marin to bring me those orders, and I saw then that the preparatory order which I had issued at 10.00 hours had still not been sent to the subordinate units.
Q. And the one from 15.00 hours --
JUDGE JORDA: Just a clarification. Slavko Marin was with our witness for a few days. This is the first time that the accused is mentioning Slavko Marin's name. Could you remind us? He went back to your headquarters at the beginning of April. I'm not sure. Could you recall that for us, please?
A. Mr. President, Slavko Marin arrived on 1 November, 1992 in the Central Bosnia Operative Zone Command.
JUDGE JORDA: You didn't speak about him very much. Up to this point, you haven't spoken about him 18484 very much, you spoke about Nakic, but you almost never have spoken about this person who came to testify here and who seems to have played an important role. That's why I'm asking the question, since I'm hearing you talk about him for the first time as regards the writing of these orders.
Would you like to intervene at this point, Mr. Nobilo, rapidly, of course, if you want to?
MR. NOBILO: He has mentioned him once.
Q. Why does Slavko Marin become important as of this day? Why does Slavko Marin merge as a significant figure as of the 15th of April?
A. Mr. President, Slavko Marin was not my immediate subordinate. I was not his direct boss. His direct boss was Franjo Nakic, and when the chief of staff, that is, Mr. Nakic, was absent, then Slavko Marin was directly subordinate to me because he was on duty as the chief of operations within the Central Bosnia Operative Zone.
JUDGE JORDA: Please continue.
Q. One more thing, General, on the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th of April, did Nakic manage to come back or was his duty carried out by Mr. Marin throughout these first days of the conflict? 18485
A. Nakic spent the entire period in his family home, he was blocked there -- I'm referring to the first days of the conflict -- he was blocked there, and he never managed to reach the command post, and Slavko Marin at that time was carrying out the duties, both his own, that is, as Nakic's deputy, and the one of the chief of staff.
Q. So on the 15th, was he your immediate associate at the headquarters?
A. Yes, because Franjo Nakic was not there.
Q. You said that the order of 10.00 of the 15th of April, 1993 remained in its hand-written form and had not been sent. For purposes of the record, it is document D267. What happened with the order that was D268, the order written on the 15th of April at 3.45 p.m.?
A. That order was not sent either.
Q. What happened next?
A. I took both these orders and I read them out orally to the commanders present at the meeting. After I had read out the provisions of the order, after I had read them out, we concluded the meeting. I decided after that to call the commander of the Vitez Brigade, who was at that time in his family house.
Q. Before we go on to the meeting with the 18486 commander of the Vitez Brigade, Mr. Cerkez, who was not present at the first meeting, what happened to those two orders, that is to say, the one written at 10.00 a.m. and the second one written at 3.45 p.m.? Were the orders dispatched, rewritten, typed out, or what?
A. At that particular time, I was not able to send the orders out to be typed, the 10.00 order, because the typist wasn't around, wasn't in her office, because according to her regular work shift, she was on duty until 3.00 p.m. So after that, the order, the order that came later, the 3.45 p.m. order was sent out because it had been typed, whereas the 10.00 order was returned to the general services office for the typist to type it out, and I read out the assignments from the two orders orally to the individuals present.
Q. After that meeting, you tried to establish contact with Cerkez, commander of the Vitez Brigade which was being formed at the time. Tell us what events followed.
A. I called Commander Cerkez, he reported to me, he phoned me, and I presented the tasks at hand. I informed him of the movement of the BH army forces from Zenica to Kuber, and I orally stated the assignments from the 10.00 order, and once again orally, I gave him an executive order. 18487
Q. What was the executive order given to the Vitez Brigade on the evening of the 15th of April, 1993? What did you order?
A. I ordered in the executive combat order to raise the level of readiness in order to perform a blockade, execute a blockade, from the Kruscica area and from Vranjska and Donja Veceriska.
Q. Why did you choose this particular area to block in the Vitez municipality by the Vitez Brigade? What guided you in selecting this particular place, this particular position?
A. I was principally guided by the fact that the previous assessment which I received from the military intelligence service indicated that the forces of the BH army would probably launch an attack from the direction of Kruscica and Vranjska, in part via Gradina, towards the explosives factory and, secondly, towards the village of Rijeka, Santici with the intention of joining up with the forces that, from Kuber, would most probably attack the main road.
Q. What did Cerkez answer and what happened next?
A. Cerkez told me, first of all, that he wanted a written order and that he wanted the written order so as to be able to inform his civilian representatives in 18488 the Vitez municipality of the order, and at the same time, that his headquarters was being formed, that it was under the process of formation, and that this would facilitate his tasks for him. He added -- in fact, he asked me, when he was to come to the meeting, whether to wear civilian clothes or whether to wear a uniform because on that particular day at 6.30 p.m., he was to attend a wedding, so he was stopped on his way with his wife to attend a wedding in Vitez.
Q. Was that his own wedding?
A. Yes. He was going to his own wedding. His own wedding had been scheduled for that day. Cerkez also told me that he had engaged a shift of soldiers on the front line towards the Serbs on the Strikanjci feature. They were soldiers from within the Vitezovi composition. This is the feature here (indicating). It is located in Novi Travnik. He also said that a new shift of soldiers should be prepared for the following day to replace the previous shift.
Q. Relatively late that night, the representatives of the civilian authorities came to see you. What was that about?
A. At about 22.30 hours representatives of the civilian authorities from Vitez arrived, Mr. Santic, Mr. Nikola Krizanovic, and I think Mr. Skopljak was 18489 there as well, and they informed me that it was their position that no combat activities should be undertaken in the Vitez municipality, all the more so as the explosives factory was not prepared and that there were 500 tonnes of explosives in the factory itself and other parts for the production of explosive devices, components, and also because there were about 100 tonnes of acid, and there could be a great catastrophe with 5 to 15 kilometres of destruction if some of the reservoirs containing the acid were to be hit. I told them that we did not wish nor had we planned any combat operations but that it was quite obvious that the BH army was moving and that we could not allow events to overtake us and to find us in our beds and not ready, so to speak. I also said that I expected combat operations to take place probably around the Kuber feature, which is relatively far off compared to the explosives factory.
Q. While you were contacting with Cerkez, did you at one point tell him to undertake measures to reinforce Kuber?
A. I told him to warn the defenders of Kuber and to tell them of all the information that we had collected, but we were still not in a position to reinforce this position from the Vitez Brigade nor did 18490 we do so, except to issue a warning by phone and to convey this information about the movement of troops.
Q. Does that mean that the HVO already had its positions up at Kuber?
A. Yes, the HVO did have its positions at Kuber, but the situation was just the same as it had been on the 13th and the 11th of April and many days previously.
Q. The members of what brigade held the positions at Kuber?
A. The members of the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade, members of the Vitez Brigade, and members from the Zenica Brigade.
Q. They had held these positions at Kuber continuously as of which month?
A. They had held these positions from the very beginning but not with the combat deployment of forces. At the beginning, it was a position against the air force and jointly manned, but from January and the first conflicts with the BH army, the positions were manned with a combat deployment.
MR. NOBILO: We propose a break here at this point.
JUDGE JORDA: Excellent proposal. We'll take a break. Twenty minutes. 18491
--- Recess taken at 4.04 p.m.
--- On resuming at 4.30 p.m.
JUDGE JORDA: We can now resume the hearing. Please be seated. Please proceed.
MR. NOBILO: Thank you.
Q. We left off at the evening of the 15th of April, after the representatives of the civilian authorities left after you had told him what emergency steps you had taken.
What further information did you receive late that day, somewhere between 23.00 and 24.00 hours?
A. About 23.00 hours, I was informed that combat operations were in progress at Kuber and that there was shelling from Preocica in the area of Poculica. I was also informed that at Kuber there were some HVO wounded in the course of the combat operations.
Q. After you received the information that this combat contact had taken place as early as the 15th of April, you issued another order, that is Exhibit number D269.
JUDGE JORDA: Is this the 16th of April now?
MR. NOBILO: Yes. This is the night between the 15th and 16th. It is one hour after midnight, so it is technically the 16th.
Q. I will read the order. It was addressed to 18492 the Vitez Brigade, that is, to Commander Cerkez, to his attention, and the special purpose unit Tvrtko. The heading is "Combat Command - order to prevent attack activity by the enemy (extremist Muslim forces) and blockade the broader territory of Kruscica, Vranjska, and Donji Veceriska."
Now, the body of the text I think everybody can read for themselves, but in military terms, why did you issue this kind of order? If necessary, you can also point on the model why it was necessary to carry out the blockade of specifically those villages.
A. Your Honours, in addition to the information about combat activities around Kuber and Poculica, I also received information from the military intelligence service about the regrouping of the BH army forces, that is, about movements and about activities on the communication lines, the radio communications.
The majority of the forces which had already been deployed, that is, 325th Brigade in Kruscica, which included some of the BH army forces which had been brought from outside and these were in the area of Kruscica, Vranjska; and as far as Donji Veceriska was concerned, Donji Veceriska needed to be blocked because this village was adjacent to the explosives factory. 18493
Q. Could you show us on the model where these villages were, and what was the military objective here? What were you trying to achieve with this? Maybe if you came around, and if you would just wait for our colleague from the Prosecution to join us?
A. As I stated, the village of Donji Veceriska is immediately next to the explosives factory. The edge of the village is adjacent to the compound, and it then goes on towards the villages of Divjak, Grbavica, and Han Bila. The communication line was controlled by the 306th Mountain Brigade by the very way in which it was deployed, and from there, they only needed to link up from Grbavica to Divjak in order to cut off the Lasva Valley.
Q. Could you put down your pointer so that we can see how the Lasva Valley would have been cut off? Thank you.
A. Next, Kruscica, Vranjska, and Rovna. There is only one hill here called Crveno Brdce or Red Hill. If the troops from Kruscica would take it, they would control the Vitez-Busovaca communication line, both the highway Vitez-Busovaca and the secondary road, and they would link up with the forces which had already been deployed at Sljibcica. This is this direction in which the Lasva River Valley would have been cut off. 18494
Q. This would have been the second line of cutting off?
A. Yes, and this is where the entire subsequent fighting is going to go on. The units in Rovna and Vranjska also could operate in the direction of Safradinove Kuce, or Safradin houses, and take control of the only bridge across the Lasva River, which was called Radak's bridge. So this is the second line --
Q. You mean the third line?
A. Yes. This is an alternate, so a third line of cutting off the Lasva Valley.
Q. Can we say that you expected the main thrust, the main attack, to come from the direction of Zenica, and that the main idea that you thought of was the linking up of the troops coming from the north and ones coming from the south?
A. The BH army had its main operational forces in that area, and subsequent events show that they never gave up that idea, in other words, to link up the forces from the north with the forces that were stationed to the south and cut off the Lasva Valley into two or three parts.
Q. If this was their main objective, what measures did you take in order to prevent this?
A. With this order issued at 01.30 hours, I 18495 ordered to block the forces in Kruscica, Vranjska, and Donji Veceriska and to prevent the attack of the Bosnia-Herzegovina army.
Q. The villages which you have just mentioned, are they all due south of the main road?
A. Yes, all these villages are due south of the main road.
Q. Let me read you point 3 of the order, and will you please interpret it on the model here? I read -- and you are addressing it to Cerkez and to the Tvrtko unit.
"In front of you are the forces of the IV Military Police Battalion, behind you are your forces, to the right of you are the forces of the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski unit, and to the left of you are the forces of the civilian police."
Could you please position those forces in this area on this model so that we know who is where? What does it mean, that the forces of the 4th Military Police Battalion are in front of you?
A. The forces of the 4th Military Police Battalion are securing the main Vitez-Travnik-Busovaca road by police patrolling and they are in front of the forces of the Vitez Brigade. The forces of the Vitez Brigade are blocking -- 18496
Q. Excuse me a moment, General. So that everybody can understand, what is "in front," what is "behind" is relative. If I look at Their Honours, they're in front of me but --
JUDGE JORDA: I would suggest that General Blaskic show it to us on the map. That way I think we can find our way. The two complement one another: The model allows us to see things in a more microscopic way; on the map, we have a broader view, a macroscopic view, showing the north and south. That helps me because that helps me to refer to other documents also. Could the witness show it to us on the map? It's south of the valley, is it not?
Q. If you will just say, how did you set up your orientation anyway?
A. Mr. President, I can do that, but in the military doctrine that I was trained in, the front was always where we expected an attack to come from. But let me move to the map and show you and try to make it more clear.
Q. Very well. Let us now attempt to follow this point by point. First it says, "In front of you are the forces of the IV Military Police Battalion." Can you tell me, how did you orient 18497 yourself? How did you define your position? What is in front for you, the person who is issuing the order?
A. In this case, it is north, in front of me.
Q. Why north?
A. Because I am expecting -- in this specific case, I'm expecting an attack coming from the north.
Q. When you are writing this order, you are orienting yourself according to where you think the main attack will come from. That is the crucial thing for you.
A. Yes. For me, Kuber and Zenica are in front of me. So the answer to your question is "Yes."
Q. Why, for Cerkez, the military police, which is on -- the main communication line is in front of him. Can you show on the map where the main road is, the highway, and where, in relation to that, is the Vitez Brigade supposed to be deployed so that this road is in front?
A. The Vitez Brigade is along the Lasva River toward Gradina, in this area which I'm pointing at (indicating).
Q. Is that below the road, that is, to the south of the road?
A. Yes, the Vitez Brigade is to the south of the road. 18498
Q. Can we say that from the position of the Vitez Brigade to whom you are writing this, both the military police and the BH army forces are in front of them?
Q. You are writing to the Vitez Brigade. "To the right," you're saying, "To the right of you is the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade." Could you point to that on the map?
A. Yes, that is what I wrote, and that would mean that it was to the -- that it was due east. That means this area here (indicating) is covered by the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade, of course taking into account the front lines, and here on the model you can see it even better, it's this line here (indicating). So that is due east of the combat deployment of the Vitez Brigade.
Q. So in this specific case, to the right and due east is identical?
A. Yes. In this specific case, it is.
Q. So if we look in the direction of the main road and Zenica, to the right is the position of the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade and the Busovaca municipality?
A. That is correct, and ever since the January 18499 conflict, these positions were established, and this is where the sides were facing off.
Q. In no order, you issue orders to the military police, but -- to the civilian police, but you say, to the left of you are the civilian police forces. In this combat situation, where is this?
A. That means that due west of Kruscica and Vranjska are forces of the Vitez police station. That would be to the left.
Q. To the left and due west. What would that signify in this specific case?
A. That would mean that these would be the positions of the Vitez civilian police forces.
Q. You mean the town of Vitez force?
A. Yes. They would be there with respect to the Vitez Brigade.
Q. So to the left and due west in this combat situation is identical?
A. Yes, in this particular situation, it would be.
MR. NOBILO: Your Honours, if this is clear, we can move on.
JUDGE JORDA: Yes, the indications are clear. Judge Rodrigues?
JUDGE RODRIGUES: General Blaskic, I have a 18500 question I would like to ask you. In order to have, under these conditions, a relationship or a proposed relationship between the model and the map, we have to turn the model 180 degrees; is that right?
A. Your Honour, that is correct.
JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you very much.
JUDGE JORDA: It was turned once or twice, Judge Rodrigues. We're not even sure quite how to turn it anymore, and that's why both of them are useful, that is, the map and the model.
Thank you, Judge Rodrigues. Once again, all my compliments because you are involving yourself in this case with agility and dexterity which is really extraordinary.
MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
Q. General, this order, D269, which I read out and was issued at 1.30 a.m., is it identical to the one you issued to Cerkez?
A. Yes, it is completely identical to the oral combat order that I issued to Cerkez at a meeting that I had with him at 6.30 p.m., or thereabouts.
Q. Let me begin the question in another way. According to what we have just seen, on the 15th of April, you issued, either in written form or orally, but, in essence, you issued three orders: one at 10.00 18501 a.m., one at 3.45 p.m., and at 1.30 a.m., that is to say, on the 16th already?
Q. Apart from these three orders, prior to the war with the Muslims in the Vitez municipality, did you issue any other orders?
Q. Did you then ever before or on the 16th of April or ever after issue an order which would order your subordinates to kill civilians, prisoners of war, to destroy civilian property, and to destroy religious premises?
A. No, I never issued an order of that kind.
Q. In your opinion, in any way possible but logical, if we were to interpret these three orders given in writing or orally, could one, from those orders, deduce what had happened in Ahmici on the 16th of April, 1993?
Q. We now move on to the 16th of April, 1993. Would you describe to the Trial Chamber what your first recollections are with regard to the beginning of that day, and that is one of the key days in the entire events encompassed in the indictment and these proceedings. 18502
A. Your Honours, sometime early in the morning at 5.00 or 5.05 a.m., perhaps around 5.00 a.m., I was awoken by noise, the noise of detonation, which echoed in the immediate vicinity of the Vitez Hotel, within the hotel itself. I got up and I heard knocking at my door, Slavko Marin was knocking at my door, who told me, "It seems that we have been attacked." I asked the duty officer to give me
information, and he told me, the officer on duty, that he did not have complete data yet but that he had undertaken additional security measures and had checked in the neighbouring units.
After that, Slavko Marin immediately asked whether it would be a good idea for him to go to the basement of the hotel and to prepare the basement of the hotel to take us in, to transfer us there.
Q. What was located in the basement of the hotel?
A. There was a discotheque in the basement and it was called the Discotheque 55 and it was open that night and it had been open until almost the early hours of the morning. I agreed with Marin's proposal, and he undertook measures forthwith and took as many assistants as there were available in the hotel and went to readjust the premises of the basement for us to 18503 go there, to be transferred to the hotel basement.
Q. Why did you go to the basement? What was the reason for the headquarters to be displaced and relocated in the basement?
A. The detonations in the hotel woke me up, and in the course of the time that followed, that is to say, after 5.00 a.m. up to about 6.30 or 7.00 a.m., there were very strong detonations, and you could hear the shattering of hotel glass and destruction in the hotel, and so the proposal made by Marin was exclusively for security reasons.
Q. Please continue. What happened next?
A. After a certain amount of time had elapsed, Marin told me that they had prepared the basement premises, and I arrived between 6.30 and 7.00 a.m. I managed, before my arrival, to inform the main staff that we had been attacked, that is to say, that I had heard detonations from all sides and that they were strongest at the hotel itself.
When I arrived in the basement, there were just a few candles lit and three tables that we had adjusted for our work on the premises and for our stay there, and I told one of the workers to take a notebook and to -- "Write down everything you hear and you see," that's what I said to him, "Write down everything you 18504 see and hear going on here in the basement of the hotel."
Q. Why did you do that? What was your motive in doing that?
A. I wanted to make a record, for that assistant to make a record of all the events that took place because there were very few of us, and at that moment, we did not have well-trained and equipped teams capable of making a professional military record of all the activities that were going on, all the orders and everything else that would go on in the headquarters at that time. I also wanted to leave a trace and a document recording all the events that took place in that chaotic period.
Q. Please continue. What other measures did you undertake in the morning straightaway in order to ensure the security of the population?
A. Before I had gone down into the basement, about 6.10 or 6.20 a.m., the general alert was sounded throughout the area of Vitez from sirens in the explosives factory. The sirens went off to sound the alarm and all the other sirens that were functioning. I asked that this be done by the communications centre, to sound the alarm.
After that, I sought out possibilities for 18505 establishing contact with the UN headquarters, and I was informed that the links and telephone communications had broken down. I told Slavko Marin to call the headquarters of the 3rd Corps in Zenica immediately and to do everything they could to establish links, telephone lines, between me and the commander of the 3rd Corps, and he sent out these calls from 8.00 a.m. onwards.
Q. Could you define and tell us who was at the headquarters in the morning when the conflicts had started? Could you give us their names and surnames, if possible?
A. In the headquarters that morning were Slavko Marin, Vidja Zbinski, Zvonko Vukovic, then there was Zoran Pilicic, Marko Prskalo, and Ljubomir Jurcic. There were about seven members of the staff on that particular morning. The others were blocked and were not able to come to work.
Q. Please continue. Did you, during the morning hours, succeed in getting information from the terrain as to the exact location of the conflict?
A. I received reports that a conflict had broken out at the Kuber position and in Poculica.
Q. Perhaps it would be a good idea if you approached the model and indicated these places on the 18506 model. Just give us enough time for everybody to approach the model so that we can see where it actually happened.
JUDGE JORDA: The army that was responsible, the army corps that was responsible for re-establishing the telephone line was which one? Does the witness hear me? Was it the Bosnia-Herzegovina army corps that re-established the telephone line? You tried to call the UN headquarters and you couldn't because you didn't have a telephone line, and according to what I heard, you were trying to get into contact with the 3rd Army Corps. Which army was that?
A. Mr. President, sometime in the morning, from 8.00 onwards, with the 3rd Corps of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina from Zenica, we tried to telephone them and contact them but the lines were not broken down with them, the telephone lines were still functioning, but the line going from the Hotel Vitez, which had been functioning until the 15th, to the command of the United Nations in Nova Bila, that line had broken down. That was the information I received by the workers in the communications department.
Q. What was your intention? Why did you order Slavko Marin to establish contact with the 3rd Corps? 18507 What was your objective in doing so?
A. My objective was to bring about a cessation of all combat operations and to establish a cease-fire, and I asked him to call the commander of the 3rd Corps so that he could talk to him personally and discuss that topic, that issue.
JUDGE JORDA: Thank you.
Q. Let us forget minutes and chronology for a moment. In the morning hours up until noon, the information that you received in any way, what did they tell you? Where were the units of the BH army and the HVO? Where had they collided? Where was the conflict? At the same time, would you explain to the Court on the model what these red pillars represent?
A. Well, these are the approximate positions of the combat operations on that particular morning, that is to say, on the 16th of April, at Kuber (indicating), this represents the Vrana Stijena position but it is also the Kuber Mountain range, then we have Poculica, Grbavica, Jardol, Krcevine, Nadioci and Ahmici, the village of Bare, and next we have Kruscica, Vranjska, Donja Veceriska, and the Gacice area (indicating).
Q. Was Stari Vitez included?
A. Yes, I'm pointing to Stari Vitez now. This 18508 is Stari Vitez (indicating), next in the area of Busovaca, Prosje, Donje Polje (indicating). The positions at Kuber were the positions of the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade. Here in the local households we have Kamenjace. That is the term that is generally known. It is not included on the map. It is either Mlakica Kuce or Kamenjace. That is what they're called.
Q. Approximately, you said that these were figurative approximations, just so that we could know the zones in which this happened, so this is not exactly precise. Tell us, at how many places did the conflicts in the municipality of Busovaca break out in the early morning hours of the 16th of April, 1993?
A. There were about 14 positions of combat operation. The ones that I have enumerated are the exact positions, but they are not exactly represented on the model because some of the villages are very close together, so it is impossible to see, to differentiate between the two, but the names of the places are quite correct, as we received them on the 16th of April, 1993.
Q. This was not in the municipality of Busovaca. This was in the Vitez municipality. There seems to have been an error. 18509
A. In the Vitez municipality was where all the positions were, except the position in the village of Bare and this part of Kuber, Vrana Stijena, and Donja Polje and Prosje, so these are positions of the Busovaca municipality and these are the positions of the Vitez municipality.
MR. NOBILO: Very well. I should like our technical service to provide us with a photograph, a still, of these positions which will be tendered as evidence tomorrow.
You may return to your place, General.
JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: General, would you say that a north/south line running through the Kuber feature roughly separated the Vitez municipality from the Busovaca municipality?
Q. We can say that half of Kuber was covered by the Busovaca Brigade and half of it the Vitez Brigade and that is where they had contact.
A. They always had contact at Kuber, but the very top of Kuber was held by the BH army, and we were on the slopes of Kuber but in contact.
Q. Very well. Let's move on. How did events develop during this first day of combat? 18510
A. We kept receiving mostly telephone calls, up until about 9.00 in the morning, from citizens in Vitez, and there were a number of complaints about the activities of snipers. A lot of people expressed concern and wanted to know what was going on in this chaotic situation. I asked of Marin to establish contact through the civilian police in Vitez and that the civilian police be more involved in disseminating information and providing the control in the area of the town of Vitez itself, in the centre of town.
Q. Somewhere around 8.30, you received a call from Franjo Boras, a member of the supreme command, who at that time was in Zenica.
A. Yes, at that time he was in Zenica, and he asked me and wanted to know what was going on. Zenica had already been blocked but he now must have also heard these explosions coming from Kuber and from the hinterlands of Zenica. I told him that we had been attacked earlier that morning, that we heard a number of explosions but that we still did not have control over the situation, that is, that we still did not have full control over the situation on the ground.
Q. Did you perhaps ask him to intervene in some way?
A. Yes. He was a member of the supreme command 18511 of the armed forces of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and I asked him to mediate, either with the 3rd Corps or with Sarajevo, so that the combat activities would stop.
Q. Sometime around 8.55, the Vitez Brigade, for the first time, asked for artillery support.
A. The Vitez Brigade sent a request for artillery support at 8.55; however, we were not able to provide this artillery support at that time.
MR. NOBILO: Can I have Exhibit number D299. I'm sorry. That is a mistake. This relates to the 17th of April. I will come to that tomorrow.
Q. Around 9.00 hours, you had telephone contact with Cerkez regarding the situation around the firehouse in Vitez.
A. Yes, that was in Old Vitez. Cerkez called me to tell me that, from the direction of Old Vitez, there was combat activity in the direction of Mlakica Kuce. I ordered Cerkez to block these approach lines and, in the case of an outright attack from Stari Vitez towards Mlakica Kuce, fire be returned.
Q. At 9.00, representatives of the UN arrived, they came to you. What did they want and what decision was taken then?
A. They initiated a meeting which was held later on the 16th, and they requested of me to appoint 18512 members who, on behalf of the Central Bosnia Operative Zone, would negotiate a cease-fire. So the objective was mediation in organising a meeting between the Operative Zone Command and the 3rd Corps Command.
Q. Who did you appoint as your representative in these negotiations?
A. I assigned Mr. Marko Prskalo because Mr. Franjo Nakic was not available. He was a deputy of Franjo Nakic in the joint commission of the 3rd Corps and the Operative Zone, and I also designated Mr. Zoran Pilicic.
Q. At that time, your military intelligence service told you about interferences.
A. Yes. We received information from the military intelligence service that our communications were being -- that there was eavesdropping, that is, of the communications between the commanders of the brigades and the command. That morning we had used regular civilian telephone lines and any other means available at the time to communicate amongst ourselves.
Q. Speaking of communications and telephones, in this discotheque, did you have any communication systems? The four or five staff members that were there, because two had left, what did you use?
A. Your Honours, in the discotheque, we only had 18513 two regular telephones.
Q. And that is all the communication systems you had?
A. Yes, this is all in terms of the communication systems we had available on the 16th and 17th, and later on, and I'm going to address that, we received instead of one a telephone/fax machine, and I will mention that. We replaced one of the regular phone sets with a phone/fax machine.
Q. At 9.00, the artillery again shelled the hotel, the post office, et cetera. Can you say, based on your overall experience, where were the positions of the BH army artillery which was shelling you at that time?
A. Yes, I can identify the positions, and this is the wider high ground or plateaux of Kuber and Preocica where a tank was stationed, and there were other positions where the mortars were placed, and at that time on that day, the hotel was hit, the post office, the municipal building, and private homes of the Mlakic family. We assumed that these mortar shells had come from Old Vitez. Some homes near the church in Vitez were hit. We also assumed that the shells had come from Stari or Old Vitez.
Q. At 9.05, Kordic called. Where was Kordic? 18514 What contact did you establish with him? What happened?
A. He called on the telephone from Busovaca. I do not know exactly where he was at that time but I assumed that he could have been calling from his family home or from the motel, I believe it was called Villa Tisovac which is the name of that building.
Q. How did the conversation proceed? What did he ask?
A. He asked to get proper information about the events, and I said that there was intense artillery shelling in progress. I told him which structures had been hit by that time, of which I had information. I also let him know that I still had reports but not full reports on the developments.
Q. At 9.10, Colonel Filipovic called.
A. Colonel Filipovic called from Travnik. He also wanted to know what the situation was, and I asked him to get in touch with General Alagic and to try to cooperate so that the main forces would not start advancing towards us from Travnik.
Q. At 9.15, the local parish priest called. What did he want?
A. He may have called a minute or two earlier. He asked for contact with the UN headquarters because 18515 the UNPROFOR tank had broken through the wall of the church yard and trained its gun at the church entrance. I wrote a letter about this incident to the UN commander, but later on I learned that the UN representatives responded to the reports that the Bosniak Muslims were kept inside the church as hostages, which was untrue.
Q. But you received this information later on, not when you responded to it.
A. Much later, some maybe ten days later.
Q. At 9.25, the artillery commander finally informed you that he was ready for action.
A. Yes. He said that he was ready for action upon request.
Q. Could you now tell me what the procedures were about the use of artillery on request?
A. If a commander needed artillery support, he would call the command, that is, specifically me, in the hotel, and would say to me that he is asking for artillery support in a certain position. After we identified the position on the map that had been identified by the commander, I personally would then transmit the order to the artillery battery, and the commander of the artillery battery, after reviewing the possibility of use of artillery fire on that position, 18516 he would come back to me and inform me whether it was or was not possible to carry out such a request, and then an order to open fire would follow from me. Militarily speaking, we did not have a plan of artillery fire, which slowed down the whole procedure.
Q. Could you explain why you did not have a plan of artillery fire, and how does that look?
A. We did not have a plan of artillery firing because we had not planned a conflict and we had not expected a conflict of such intensity.
Q. A conflict with whom?
A. With the 3rd Corps. Such a plan did not exist in any of the HVO brigades. Of course, any such plan would accelerate the procedure because had any commander asked for target 1, I would just pass on the information, "Open fire on target 1."
Q. Translated into layman's terms, does that mean that the enemy positions would be assigned in advance, identified in advance --
MR. KEHOE: Excuse me. With all due respect, I think it is probably best that the witness testify as to exactly what he means and how he means it.
JUDGE JORDA: Yes, I think Mr. Nobilo can ask the questions as he wishes. Mr. Nobilo is trying to 18517 put for us into non-military language what had happened to help us out. Mr. Nobilo has become a military strategist. He's very lucky. He knows that the Judges are not military strategists, and so he's retranslating or reinterpreting the witness's answers. Continue with your questions, please,
Q. So could you, in your own words, explain in as "unexpert" words as you can what that means?
A. Your Honours, it would mean that a man would be compiled with very detailed positions.
Q. Whose positions?
A. The enemy positions, and with certain coordinates for every target and with all the corrections relating to these targets. In layman's terms, that would mean speeding up the whole process of artillery fire several times.
Q. If there is no plan of artillery fire, does the artillery man first have to do all the calculations before he can proceed with the fire?
A. Yes. Not only that, but the officer who is asking for support and the commander of the artillery battery have to first send a person who will monitor, a forward man, and that further slows down the entire 18518 procedure.
Q. So the first shelling happened, finally. What were the first subsequent steps taken?
A. Yes. When this was done and when the commander of the artillery told me that the first firing had been executed, I called Commander Cerkez, commander of the Vitez Brigade, and asked him to send a person who would assess the hit and then to ask him to report to the artillery commander so that, if necessary, a correction would be achieved. We always had two such officers, one from the artillery battery itself and one from the command of the unit which was calling for support.
Q. At 9.50, Prskalo returned from the meeting with UNPROFOR. What news did he bring with him?
A. Marko Prskalo came and informed me that the meeting would be held at about 12.00 but that the representatives of the United Nations had asked him to clarify how the conflict started, to inform them in full where the shelling was coming from, from what positions, and Marko told me that he told them what he had experienced that morning and that that was that he was attacked by the BH army.
Q. At 9.55, the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina introduced fresh forces towards Vitez. From where did 18519 these come?
A. The fresh forces were brought in from the direction of Zenica and faced Kuber and Vjetrenice.
Q. At 10.00 a.m., you had, on the phone, Mile Bozic phoning from Kiseljak. He was the commander of the Ban Jelacic Brigade.
A. Yes. I had a talk with Mijo Bozic, and I asked him to be cautious in view of the combat operations and the events that had taken place in the Busovaca municipality.
He informed me that the positions at Kalica Hill and Lisova Hill, Svinjarevo and Gomionica, had already been taken over by the forces of the BH army.
Q. At 10.05, you ordered the artillery to start devising a plan for artillery fire which you did not have organised against the BH army?
A. Yes. I asked them not only to devise an artillery-firing plan but I also said that nobody could issue orders for artillery fire except myself, for the artillery to open fire except me, and that the commander of the artillery battalion should only execute my orders if I gave them, and I asked that they take into account the security zones because there was still no recognisable front line. There was still ...
Q. When you asked the artillery man to take into 18520 account the security zones, what does a security zone mean in military terms and in this particular case with the use of artillery?
A. That is to say, only those targets for which he is certain that, along with any deviation in fire-power, that there can be no serious damage, that he attacks only safe targets.
Q. Just one moment, please. You said that he was shooting at targets that he was certain that no damage could be done outside the range, but I suppose that you are shelling to create damage. Could you clarify this?
A. Well, if he is not certain in the possibility of executing the task, the exact task, and if he believes that he could miss the target, then that no such task be carried out. So it was up to him to tell me, "We cannot perform that task because inaccuracies could occur in hitting the target."
Q. Who were you protecting in this way? Who were you protecting when you talk about target precision and inaccuracy?
A. First of all, we were protecting the forces who were already out there on the terrain, and these were heavy artillery guns of a higher calibre, and what we wanted to do was to protect the positions of the 18521 individual villages in the environs and the civilian facilities in the environs.
Q. This is perhaps a good time for us to define what type of artillery was included in the artillery division in the battalion under your command and whether there was any kind of artillery under the command of the inferior units, brigades, infantry, and so on, all the special purpose units, subordinated?
A. Under my command in the artillery division, we had a howitzer, howitzer weapon, weaponry, we had the howitzer, 233-millimetre howitzer, at that time without ammunition, then there were two howitzers of 152 millimetres, and we had one 122-millimetre howitzer. We also had two mortars, 120 millimetres, and one multi-barrel grenade launcher, 128-millimetre rocket launcher with 32 barrels without projectiles. At the level of the brigades of the artillery weaponry, we had mortars, 122-millimetre ones, and mortars of 82 millimetres, but they were classified as small arms and not artillery pieces. There were also 60-millimetre mortars. Once again, these were considered small arms.
Of the anti-armour combat weapons, we had a gun, a 76-millimetre gun, it was called Zis, a domestic manufacturer and was named Zis. 18522
Q. So when you speak of your orders for artillery fire, then this refers to the howitzers and the mortars, two 120-millimetre mortars, but not the other smaller-calibre mortars; is that correct?
A. The 120-millimetre mortars which were within the composition of the brigades, because some of the brigades did have the 120-millimetre mortars. I commanded only the mixed artillery gun division.
Q. At 10.05, Filipovic phoned you once again from Travnik. Did he succeed in arranging anything there?
A. He informed me that he had not succeeded in making contact with Commander Alagic but that he was working on it, to establish contact, that is. I received information that, from Travnik, there was a regrouping of the members of the 17th Krajina Brigade.
Q. At 10.12, you had a talk with Baresic from the Zenica HVO Brigade. What information did he give you? It was a telephone conversation, I believe.
A. Yes, it was a telephone conversation, and he sent me information that there was a regrouping of troops in Zenica and troop movement on the part of the BH army.
Q. What did you order him?
A. I ordered on that occasion that he should 18523 monitor these troop movements and send us reports and information as to the direction they were heading; at the same time that he should be on the alert and check all the reports coming in from the Zenica region.
Q. At 10.15, Darko Kraljevic phoned. What did he have to report?
A. He informed me that there were three dead soldiers who had died at the time, and I received information from the brigade, the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade, that seven soldiers had been killed.
Q. When Darko Kraljevic, at 10.15, says that there were three dead soldiers, those were members of the Vitezovi, I suppose?
Q. At 10.17, you managed to establish contact with Petkovic and the main staff in Herzegovina.
A. Yes, I established contact with the chief of staff, main staff, and I informed him that the front lines had still not been stabilised and that we were trying to stop the onslaught of the BH army, the advance of the BH army.
Q. How did you have this link with the main staff?
A. We used an ordinary telephone. It was a telephone conversation. 18524
Q. You had another conversation with Dario Kordic at 10.30.
A. Yes, we had another conversation and exchanged information on the situation and events in the region.
Q. At 10.45, you tried to gain certain information from the Vitez Brigade. What did you ask them?
A. In fact, they asked for resources for an anti-armour struggle, and I saw whether we had resources of this kind to counteract attacks by armoured vehicles in our logistics space, and I told them that we didn't have devices of this kind in our logistics base at Stojkovici.
MR. NOBILO: Perhaps we can break?
JUDGE JORDA: You choose the break that you think would be the best, Mr. Nobilo. If you think that you still need a few moments, you can use them, but it's as you like.
MR. NOBILO: If you agree, Mr. President, I think that we could adjourn for the day. I see that our witness is rather tired as well. It has been taxing.
JUDGE JORDA: Yes. It must be a very tiring exercise. 18525 We will meet tomorrow, Friday, and on all Fridays, with our new composition of the Trial Chamber, we will begin at 9.00. The morning will be long, but I can assure the interpreters that we will take two breaks.
Court stands adjourned.
--- Whereupon proceedings adjourned at 5.45 p.m., to be reconvened on Friday,
the 26th day of February, 1999, at 9.00 a.m.