12917 Monday, 18 April 2011
[The accused entered court]
--- Upon commencing at 2.16 p.m.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Good afternoon to everybody in the courtroom. As you can see, we are only two Judges present today. Judge Nyambe is not in a position to attend court hearings this week so that the remaining Judges decided to sit pursuant to Rule 15 bis.
I think it is worth to note that we will hear today the 100th witness of the Prosecution. That is a remarkable progress. On the other hand, it shows that we have still quite a lot to do ahead, and we should speed up as much as possible. The Chamber's always interested in an expeditious but fair trial.
Is there anything to raise before the witness will be brought in? Mr. Gajic.
MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, concerning two documents used during cross-examination of Mr. Momir Nikolic, OTP witness, we selected a certain number of pages from Momir Nikolic's interview provided to the OTP under separate 65 ter numbers. They were uploaded in e-court as such, and we seek to tender them now. The relevant pages from document 65 ter 7274 are in 65 ter 1D730. And the relevant pages of 65 ter number 7280 are now a separate document in e-court under 65 ter number 1D731. The relevant portion of 65 ter document 1D211, which was used during cross-examination of Sir Rupert Smith, another OTP witness, is something that the Defence 12918 included in a separate document which is now 65 ter number 1D735. Concerning that document, we singled out around 20 pages in e-court which had been taken out of the previous document.
Defence would also like to ask the Chamber to have them admitted into evidence, 1D730, 1D731, and 1D735.
[Trial Chamber and registrar confer]
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Gajic, during the first break the registrar will liaise with you and check these different numbers. I just want to raise one matter. The pages -- the 20 pages you now indicated and have uploaded into e-court of the document tendered with Sir Rupert Smith is -- we have already the document D48 in evidence, which is also a part of that document. It could be preferable to attach these pages of this document you are referring to to this document D48, but I think again you should contact the registry during the first break and then we find the best way to avoid any problems and errors on numbering. Do you agree to that? Mr. Gajic.
MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Yes, Mr. President. We accept your suggestion, of course. A brief remark only: D48 does not include the pages included in 1D211. Of course, we absolutely accept your suggestion, because these are all parts of the same book, although it presents two different points of view.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: As D48 is also a Defence exhibit, it would be better to attach the new pages to that previous document so that everything you tendered would be in evidence. We leave it until after the break. 12919 The witness should be brought in, please.
[The witness entered court]
WITNESS: MILENKO TODOROVIC
[Witness answered through interpreter]
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Good afternoon, sir. Welcome to the courtroom. Would you please read aloud the affirmation on the card which is shown to you now.
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much. Please sit down and make yourself comfortable.
As you know, you will be now interrogated by the parties, first by the Prosecution. Mr. Vanderpuye has questions for you. Mr. Vanderpuye.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President, and good afternoon to you, Your Honours. Good afternoon to everyone.
Examination by Mr. Vanderpuye:
Q. And good afternoon to you, Mr. Todorovic. As I told you last week when we met, I do have a fair number of questions to put to you. I just want to remind you to try and speak a little bit more slowly than you would otherwise so that you and I can be understood by the interpreters for the benefit of all the parties, and if there's anything that I ask you during the course of this examination that's not clear to you, please let me know and I'll see if there's a way that I can phrase it in a manner that we can better understand one another. 12920
A. Very well.
THE INTERPRETER: Interpreters note: Could the witness please be asked to move closer to the microphone.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Sir, would you please move a little bit further to the microphone so the interpreters can listen to you better. Thank you very much.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President.
Q. Now, Mr. Todorovic, could you please state your full name for the record and spell your surname?
A. My name is Milenko Todorovic, T-o-d-o-r-o-v-i-c.
Q. And, Mr. Todorovic, what is your age, and where were you born?
A. I was born on the 27th of December, 1947, in the village of Gornja Krcina.
Q. I know that you have some concerns about testifying here today. Are you here today voluntarily, or are you here because you were otherwise required to be here?
A. I am in this courtroom for the first time. However, last year, in late January or early February, I was summoned to appear to the Tribunal office in Belgrade for an interview concerning my duties and tasks as the chief of the intelligence and security organ in the East Bosnia Corps. I was advised of my status if it became necessary for me to appear before this Tribunal and the procedure under the law as such.
Q. As you've mentioned the interview which occurred at the Belgrade 12921 field office, was that interview conducted on the 2nd and the 3rd of February, 2010, to your recollection?
A. Can I consult the transcript? I have the date there, but I think those are the dates, yes.
Q. All right. And to our knowledge, was that interview tape recorded?
A. As far as I remember, I was asked whether I accept for it to be recorded, and I did.
Q. Now, you've indicated that you have that statement there in your bag. Have you had an opportunity to read the transcript of -- rather, the interview, not the statement. Have you had an opportunity to read the transcript of the interview before coming here to testify today?
A. Yes, I have had an opportunity to read it. I received it around ten days ago by post.
Q. And when did you review it, about ten days ago or -- or some other time?
THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's correction: The witness received it by e-mail.
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] When I opened the attachment to the message, I read it and it took me about an hour or two.
Q. And you read the transcript of that interview in your own language; is that right?
Q. Having read the transcript, Mr. Todorovic, does it fairly and 12922 accurately reflect what you said during the course of the interviews on the 2nd and 3rd of February of 2010?
A. In principle it does, to the best of my recollection. It does reflect the interview conducted with me in Belgrade. I have no serious objections as to its contents.
Q. I take it then that you stand by what you said during the course of that interview.
A. Yes, I do.
Q. I just would like to get a bit of background information from you before I get into the substance of your testimony, and what I'd like to focus on first is a bit of your professional background. Are you currently working?
A. No. I am not employed. I am retired. I retired in -- I'm not sure. 2002 or 2003.
Q. And at that time, what did you retire from? What kind of work were you doing?
A. I retired from the army. I was in the same position that I performed until then, and I retired with the rank of colonel.
Q. And prior to joining the -- first of all, was -- did you retire from the Army of Republika Srpska?
A. Yes. My last position was chief of the security department of the 3rd Corps command of the VRS in Bijeljina. However, it was under the 30th Personnel Centre of the then VJ.
Q. Prior to joining the VRS, were you a member of the JNA?
A. Yes, I was. I was an active duty member of the JNA since the 12923 20th of July, 1966.
Q. Can you briefly just outline, if you would, or list the positions that you had during your career with the JNA before you joined the VRS.
A. In 1966, I completed the military high school, which was an NCO school. I specialised in artillery. After that, I was assigned to Slovenska Bistrica near Maribor in Slovenia. I -- while working in the JNA, I continued my education, and I received my first commissioned officer rank of 2nd lieutenant in 1971. After that, because of the needs of the service, I was transferred to the garrison in Ljubljana and then to Ribnica, which is also a small town nearby Ljubljana. My position was battery commander, following which I returned from Ribnica to Slovenska Bistrica, also as a battery commander. Next, in Slovenska Bistrica I was assigned to a staff position as a desk clerk for educational affairs in the command of the artillery regiment. In 1983, I was sent to the security school in Pancevo because such were the needs of the service, and I agreed to that transfer. I completed that school there, following which I returned and was assigned as the security organ in the garrison in Ptuj, P-t-u-j. From the garrison, I was sent to the garrison in Maribor, to the division command. There, too, I was in the security organ.
In 1985, I left the security service, which was not of my own volition, but I was appointed commander of the artillery regiment in Slovenska Bistrica. I remained in that position for three years, whereupon I met the conditions for further education in the General Staff school. 12924 In 1988, I handed over the duty of the regiment commander to go back to the security service. That was in 1988 when I returned to the security service.
A year later, 1989, I was sent to the General Staff school in Belgrade for further education, and I took general courses. I completed the school in 1991, in June. Having graduated from the General Staff school, I was assigned to a duty with the security administration of the General Staff of the VJ -- or, rather, of the Ministry of Defence. I remained there until my departure for the VRS in mid-November 1993.
Q. When you were assigned to the VRS in mid-November 1993, to what position -- what position did you take up there?
A. It was called a temporary assignment. I was sent to serve with the VRS and assigned to the position of chief of intelligence and security department of the command of the East Bosnian Corps, the headquarters of which were in Bijeljina.
Q. I see the transcript reads that you were assigned as the chief of the intelligence security department of the command of the East Bosnia Corps. Did you also serve the function or was it also your position that you were the assistant commander for the security and intelligence in that corps?
A. It is the same thing, basically. At certain commander levels, positions can be that of assistant commanders for intelligence and security, and at the same time the person in charge is also chief of the security and intelligence department or organ, and that term may vary depending on the level of command. In any case, it is in direct line of 12925 subordination to the unit commander.
Q. How did it come about that you were assigned to the East Bosnia Corps in 1993?
A. You mean in the technical sense or -- I'm not quite clear what you mean.
Q. Well, you indicated that prior to that you were serving in Belgrade; is that right?
Q. Okay. And so how is it that you -- not in a technical sense but in a factual sense, how is it you wound up at the East Bosnia Corps in the position that you held?
A. In the then JNA, the practice was for professional commissioned and non-commissioned officers who were born in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia were temporarily assigned to the units of the Army of Republika Srpska or the Army of the Serbian Krajina.
Q. And prior to your transfer to the East Bosnia Corps, did you discuss that with anyone?
A. I was told, just like my other colleagues were, that it would be an ethical, moral thing to respond to this call and that that is what we were trained for during our professional education and that we should take up the corresponding duty in those units. Specifically for this post, I had an interview or conversation with the then chief of the administration, of the security administration of the Army of Yugoslavia, General Dimitrijevic, and with General Tolimir, who asked me -- but, actually, they didn't ask me, because by their position they were 12926 superior to me, both Tolimir and General Dimitrijevic. I was of lower rank, but I was told that the cadre situation was unfavourable, that there were many vacancies in the intelligence and security organ of the East Bosnia Corps command and that if I were appointed to that post that would contribute to the personal and professional resolution of that particular issue. I accepted that, even though I did state that I had some medical difficulties myself, as well as in my family, but I still agreed to take up these duties.
Q. Did you have -- I'm sorry.
A. I would like to emphasise that during my service, particularly during the wartime years, a lot of understanding was shown for my personal and my family situation, and if it was every necessary for me or for my family, my wife, to go for medical check-ups, there were no problems. My wife was also suffering from some medical difficulties. All the more so because Bijeljina is not that far from Belgrade, some 130 kilometres away from Belgrade.
Q. In terms of your assignment to the East Bosnia Corps and the discussions you had, did you have those discussions in particular with General Tolimir?
A. Yes, briefly. He was with General Dimitrijevic, the chief of the Army of Yugoslavia's security and intelligence administration. Until then we didn't know each other personally. Later on I found out that General Tolimir served for a while in Macedonia, in Dalmatia, in Split, in Knin. I was serving my duties in a completely different part of the former Yugoslavia, so before then we didn't know each other personally. 12927 That's why the conversation was very short, because at that time, we didn't really have any topics that we needed to discuss at any length.
Q. I take it, then, that the conversation you had with General Tolimir at that time in 1993 was in person, that is, face-to-face. Is that right?
A. Yes, yes.
Q. And do you know how it is that he came to pick you in particular for the position at the East Bosnia Corps?
A. Well, I never asked him about it, but I assume that he could see the personnel files that were with the chief and that he could see there where I was born, also my professional qualifications for that particular duty and that on the basis of that they concluded that I was from that area and that I was the most suitable for that particular post.
Q. The East Bosnia Corps in particular, if you could just describe where it is situated -- or where it was situated, shall we say, when you got there in 1993.
A. The East Bosnia Corps command or the command as the organisational unit was located at the entrance to Bijeljina as you're coming from the Sremska-Raca direction. It's the north-eastern entrance to Bijeljina. Thus there were a few private houses that were requisitioned through the Ministry of Defence for the requirements of the army, and that's where the corps command was located.
Q. I'd just like to show you 65 ter 1454, please. If we could -- well, first, tell me if you recognise what you see here?
A. I see a geographical map of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and I recognise 12928 it as such. Geographically and territorially.
Q. Okay. I'd just like to blow up the portion where it's written "East Bosnia Corps." And you can see a flag that is where it's written underneath it "Bijeljina." Is that roughly, or can you confirm if that's roughly the area where the command would have been situated in that area?
MR. VANDERPUYE: Maybe we can blow it up a little bit more so the witness can see it more clearly.
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, that's it. If we had the city map, I could show you the houses and each street individually, but in view of the scale of this map, I think it is correctly shown, yes.
Q. Could you give us an approximation, if you know, of the distance it is between, say, Zvornik and Bijeljina?
A. I think it's about 53 or 54 kilometres. Between 50 and 55 kilometres, actually.
Q. Okay. All right. Thank you.
MR. VANDERPUYE: And I'm done with this exhibit for the moment. Then I would like to tender the map. I understand the map is not admitted yet in evidence.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: It will be received.
THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, 65 ter document 1454 shall be assigned Exhibit Number P2179. Thank you.
Q. Mr. Todorovic -- or would you prefer to be addressed as Colonel Todorovic? Let me know. 12929
A. Whatever you prefer. I was a colonel when I was working. Now I'm just a regular citizen, a retired person, but I have nothing against you using that rank. I still have the rank. I haven't lost it.
Q. All right. Colonel, when you arrived at the East Bosnia Corps in November 1993, I just want to get a very basic idea of what the structure or the organisation of the corps was like then, but who was the commanding officer, the commander of the corps, at that time?
A. The corps structure -- actually, I'll begin from the corps command, and I'll do it briefly. If you need any more details, I'll be happy to do it like that.
The corps commander, General Major Novica Simic was the commander of the corps. His deputy and the Chief of Staff at the same time was Colonel at the time and later General Budimir Gavric. His assistant, the East Bosnia Corps assistant for logistics, was Colonel Petar Stojanovic. The assistant for morale, religious, and so on and so forth, was Colonel Slobodan Jelacic. And the assistant or the chief of the intelligence and security section was retired Colonel Jovanovic. Actually, it's not Jovanovic. It's Petar Jakovljevic, Petar Jakovljevic, whom I took over from when I arrived. The chief of the security force -- of the intelligence and security organ, and at the same time the assistant commander for intelligence and security affairs.
Q. Can you tell us who was the commander for the military police battalion of the corps. That would be the 3rd Military Police Battalion.
A. The military police battalion commander of the East Bosnia Corps, which became the 3rd Corps or the 3rd Battalion of the military police 12930 after the war was at that time Captain Dragisa Vulin. Later he was a major, but I think now that he is a colonel and that he's also retired. So when I went there in 1993, the commander of the military police battalion was Captain Dragisa Vulin.
Q. And was Captain Vulin in that position in 1995, as well as General Simic and General Gavric?
A. Yes. They were there until the end, and until the time that I left from the East Bosnia Corps until 1997, because that's when I went back to the Army of Yugoslavia, in 1997, from the East Bosnia Corps.
Q. As the assistant commander for security and intelligence in the command from 1993 through the end of the war, who was your immediate superior within the security chain?
A. My immediate superior was the commander of the unit in whose composition we belonged. So my immediate superior was General Novica Simic. And this was the principle in the Army of Yugoslavia and the Army of Republika Srpska. However, there is a kind of difference between the organs of security and intelligence. There is a professional line of command and control. It's a professional line of command and direction. According to that professional line of directing, my immediate superior was General Tolimir.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Gajic.
MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I think on page 14, lines 17 to 20, are not translated in the best possible way. It's not quite what the witness said, so I would like to ask the Prosecutor to repeat his question. 12931
MR. VANDERPUYE: I have no problem. Thank you. I'll do that.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye.
Q. My question was: In the security chain, who was your immediate superior?
A. In my answer, I was a little broader, so first I emphasised that my general superior was the military commander, and then in the second part of my answer I answered your question. Along the security professional line, my immediate superior was General Tolimir.
Q. I'd like to take you to a different area, and --
JUDGE FLUEGGE: May I ask a question to this matter, which there is one thing I didn't understand very clearly. You said your position was assistant commander for intelligence and security, and at the same time as chief of the intelligence and security department or unit. Can you tell me what is the difference between the two positions?
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] There isn't really a difference between those two posts. Just as in the intelligence, security section whose chief I was, and at the same time on my work labour card under "Personal data," it states that at the same time I was assistant commander for intelligence and security. This means that I was doing the intelligence security organ's duties such as gathering and compilation of data, providing proposals, providing them to the commander for his review, and to my superior according to the security chain of command. I don't know if I was clear enough.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: The term "chief" refers to your position you held 12932 in the -- in this unit, and the term "assistant commander" referred to your relation to your superiors or how can I understand it?
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I'm trying to find an adequate way to explain.
The chief of the security and intelligence department is, at the same time - you could say this was a dual function - also the assistant commander for intelligence and security affairs.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Assistant to whom?
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] To the corps commander. To the corps commander or the commander in whose command you are. So if we're talking about the East Bosnia Corps command, I was the chief of the intelligence and security organ there and at the same assistant commander for intelligence and security affairs.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much. That clarifies the situation.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. If it's of any benefit to the Court, I plan to get into some of the more detailed functions of his position a little bit later on in the examination.
Q. I was intending to take you to a different area, in particular to July 1995. First, Colonel, do you recall about when it was that the Srebrenica enclave fell in July of 1995?
A. During the interview in Belgrade, I really couldn't remember the precise date. I know it was sometime in mid-June. However, now from the transcript and all of this I see and I accept that this was actually on 12933 the 11th of July or the 12th that this happened. It's been a while since then. Sixteen years almost since that time.
Q. I just want to clarify one thing that's in the record at page 16, line 23. You're recorded as having said, and it may be erroneous, but you're recorded as having said, "I know it was sometime in mid-June."
A. It's probably not correctly translated. I don't know. It was either my slip of the tongue when I was pronouncing the month then and now. Actually, I didn't think then, nor do I think now that it was June but that it was July.
Q. Thank you for that clarification, Colonel. Can you recall -- or can you explain how it is you came to learn of the fall of Srebrenica?
A. When we talked about that in Belgrade, I said then, and now I'm saying that as well, that I cannot really be precise as to whether I learned about it in the corps command or if I learned about it through the media. The time period since then has been considerable. I don't remember whether I had left and gone home and then three hours later I learned about it. The work hours were 24 hours a day. We even slept at our jobs. So I cannot really say whether I heard it at the command when it was already all over, or if I learned about it from the media, because they were broadcasting or announcing important information from the front.
Q. Around that time did you receive any tasks concerning prisoners?
A. Yes. I cannot really be specific about the date. I couldn't do it in Belgrade, I cannot do it now, as to whether that was on the same day in the evening or the following day or two days later, but in any 12934 case, it was after the fall of Srebrenica, I think, and I am 90 per cent sure that a telegram came from the Main Staff that the East Bosnia Corps command should be engaged and should prepare accommodation at the Batkovic collection centre for another 1.000 to 1.200 -- 1.100 or 1.200. So 1.000 to 1.200, as far as I can remember. Thus to prepare accommodation for new detainees who are going to be coming over the coming days.
I immediately informed the corps commander. He took further steps through his other assistants, through the logistics sector and others for these preparations to be actually carried out.
Q. Now, you've indicated here that you're 90 per cent sure that you received a telegram from the Main Staff at the East Bosnia Corps command. First, do you remember from whom that telegram came?
A. I did say that I am convinced 90 per cent that it was a telegram, and I said that because when we were talking in Belgrade, there was a dilemma as to whether I was informed by phone or whether this was in a personal contact between myself and General Tolimir about this particular assignment. So I attempted to go over everything, and I'm sure that it was not done in personal contact, and I said that I was 90 per cent sure that it was a telegram from the Main Staff which, according to my recollection, was signed by Tolimir.
Well, I could be mistaken, but probably this telegram exists somewhere in the archives.
Q. Do you have any doubt as you're testifying here today as to whether or not this task you were assigned came from General Tolimir? 12935
A. Well, you know, when you don't have any documents -- I don't even have any of my working notes, because when I left my post, I handed them in, and they have been destroyed. I don't have that telegram in front of me in order to be able to say, yes, I do recognise it. Then the memory after 16 years, you know how it is. It can be deceptive, and I wouldn't want to err on one side or the other and be decisive about it and say 1.000 per cent this or that and be wrong.
As far as my recollection serves me, it is what is said how it was without any intention.
Q. Do you remember what you said during the course of your interview in February 2010?
A. Well, the sense of it is what we're saying now, what I'm saying now. I don't remember every single word.
Q. Well, maybe if I read a little bit of it to you it will help refresh your recollection.
A. Yes, please do, and then we will.
Q. On page 37 of the transcript of your interview --
MR. VANDERPUYE: Just a moment and I'll get the proper identifying number for the Trial Chamber.
Mr. President, this is a document that doesn't have a 65 ter number, but insofar as I'm using it to refresh the witness's recollection, I'm not offering it into evidence at this point anyway. At page -- it is listed as a statement, obviously, on his list of statements as I've given that to the Trial Chamber. It's connected or attached to the list of exhibits. 12936
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Is it uploaded into e-court?
MR. VANDERPUYE: It appears it's on the Defence exhibit list, and it's 1D733.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Gajic.
MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I think that it would be a good thing to show the witness this document. It's in the e-court, and the number is 1D733, pursuant to 65 ter Rule.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much. Mr. Vanderpuye. We have it on the screen. In English the first page, I think, interview of the 2nd of February. Now we turn to the relevant pages.
MR. VANDERPUYE: We have page 37 in the English, and I don't have the reference for the B/C/S.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: The court usher is trying to find the relevant page.
MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I think the relevant page in the Serbian is 35.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you. Mr. Vanderpuye.
MR. VANDERPUYE: What we have in the English, Mr. President, about midway through the page, is a question that's put to the witness during the course of the interview, which is:
"Ok, are you certain or not certain that the information came from General Tolimir, whether it was in person or by telegram?" 12937 And the answer is:
"I am sure about that."
Q. Does that refresh your recollection as to whether the information you received concerning that task came from General Tolimir?
A. I can see the text before me, and I do not dispute that I said so at the time. What I said a moment ago, in my view, is not considerably different. In any case, I did underscore that before me I have neither my notebook nor the telegram so as to be able to say precisely whether it was in a telegram or in some other form, that message which arrived from Tolimir. In any case, I'm certain that I spoke with General Tolimir on the phone when we discussed when they would be coming. Then I was informed by him to drop the task and stop any further preparations, but I don't think we've gone that far yet. That's why I'm saying that I am 90 per cent sure, looking from this place, that it was by way of a telegram, and I believe I received it from the intelligence and security administration, and the chief of that administration was General Tolimir.
Q. Do you recall saying during the course of your interview that you could not exclude the possibility that you met face-to-face with General Tolimir in relation to this task?
A. We discussed that situation in Belgrade at length, but I arrived at the interview without knowing what the topics would be specifically. Therefore, I was unable to recollect many things off-the-cuff. It's been a long time ago, and now I have to say whether this happened this way or that.
I remember the gist of it, but I am uncertain about the details. 12938 So the gist of it, which is not in dispute, is that I am 90 per cent sure that I received a telegram rather than a phone call when I learned that we needed to set up accommodation for those 1.000 to 1.200 prisoners. And I believe it also arrived to my service through code, and if it arrived in such a way, it came from the intelligence and security administration, headed by General Tolimir. I received all important information through the professional line, and I was duty-bound to inform of all such information to General Simic, my corps commander. I was also supposed to pass on to him any tasks and instructions which came from the superior command.
Q. Tell us in detail, as best as you can recall it, what the task was that you were assigned in relation to the prisoners that you spoke about just after the fall of Srebrenica?
A. Do you mean my conversations with General Simic or General Tolimir?
Q. If you had a conversation with General Tolimir about the task that you were assigned when you were assigned it, I'd like to know what it was that you were told to do.
A. Concerning that task, which, as I say, I'm 90 per cent sure arrived by way of a telegram, I did not have a conversation with General Tolimir. I informed General Simic, the corps commander. I told him that a telegram had arrived. I showed it to him and told him that we should start our preparations and we did.
Q. What did the telegram say, Colonel?
A. It's difficult to say even approximately. I can't quote it, but 12939 it was something to the effect that for those 1.000 to 1.200 prisoners to be accommodated, who were members of the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina from Srebrenica, should be accommodated, and that accommodation provided by the corps command. It was also stated that they should be placed at Batkovic. That was the contents of the telegram, more or less.
Q. You indicated you relayed this to your commander; is that right?
Q. What did you tell your commander?
A. I showed him the telegram so he could read it. I placed it in his hands. I didn't make any particular comment.
Q. What did you do?
A. I didn't do anything. It was the commander who ordered the respective organs to carry out preparations. Personally, I had no other obligations regarding it.
Q. I didn't ask you about obligations. I asked you what did you do in relation to that task that was directed to you.
A. I received it to be relayed to the corps commander so that they could do it. I don't know why it arrived in the security department. It is possible that some other assistant commanders at the Main Staff were absent and then perhaps General Tolimir took it upon himself to do that.
Q. I appreciate that you're trying to be helpful, Colonel, but I asked you a very specific question, and I would appreciate it if you could give us a specific answer. I'm going to ask my question again. What did you do in relation to the task that came to you from General Tolimir? 12940
A. As I said, I'm not sure if we understood each other though, that I informed the commander by placing the telegram in his hands, and I have in mind the corps commander. Since the collection centre at Batkovic is directly subordinated to the corps commander, the corps commander issued specific orders to his other subordinates to implement what was requested of them in the telegram in order to make preparations to receive the prisoners and my job was finished. Practically speaking, I simply transmitted the telegram from the Main Staff, which was received by the security organ, to the corps commander for further action. I'm not holding anything back. I'm telling you everything about this.
Q. What preparations were required to be made to receive these prisoners, a thousand, 1.300 prisoners at the Batkovic camp?
A. The collection centre, or as it sometimes was referred to as the Batkovic camp, was in the environs of Bijeljina, close to the Batkovic village, so actually it was some 10 to 15 kilometres away from Bijeljina. It was part of an agricultural compound. There were a number of hangars there which were used for different purposes such as to store wheat, to store fertilisers, agricultural machinery and everything else that would be needed by a farm or an agricultural facility. Some of them were empty, and there had already been established a reception centre and that it could house several hundred people. In any case, this figure was now greater, which required the machinery and wheat to be taken out. Water pipes had to be put in place, outdoor toilets set up, as well as other preparations which were required to provide the basic conditions. 12941 However, none of that was under my competence. It was the corps command logistics branch which had to take upon themselves all those tasks issued by the corps commander. That is why I say that I had no further obligations towards the task.
Q. Did you go there to inspect the premises in relation to these preparations?
A. No, I did not, because there were numerous military and security problems continually along the lines, and myself and all of my security organs were constantly engaged performing corps tasks. Perhaps at a later point I believe I did go to see it, but not at that point in time.
Q. When did you go to see it?
A. Again, I'm uncertain about the date. Sometime later, perhaps a month later when a group of about 170 or 180 captured members of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina from the area of the Zvornik Brigade was brought to Batkovic.
Q. Did these thousand prisoners, 1.300 prisoners, ever arrive at the camp?
A. No, it never did. Can I offer a comment?
Q. Of course.
A. At that period of time, there were many members of East Bosnia Corps who were captured by the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and they were placed in a similar camp or holding centre in the area of Tuzla. Their relatives, parents, friends, when they learned through the media, and information also leaked from commands, that there were between 10- and 1.200 prisoners from the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina arriving at 12942 Batkovic, they basically besieged the commanders of the VRS units where their family members had served in inquiring why those people from Srebrenica were still not arriving. They wanted to have an immediate exchange for our soldiers in Tuzla.
At a certain moment, the situation became very serious. There was almost a mutiny of sorts, and the corps commander simply didn't know what to tell them. I happened to be with him at that moment, and he told me this: "Check with your boss," and he meant General Tolimir, "what is going on. When would those 10- to 1.200 captured Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina soldiers arrive?"
I picked up the phone, and I got hold of General Tolimir. I asked him when those announced prisoners were to arrive. He told me, "Drop all further preparations. We gave up on that idea." I didn't inquire any further. I simply relayed information to General Simic, the corps commander and then further events took place.
Q. Did he mention to you whether or not they were coming?
A. As I said - perhaps it was not interpreted well - General Tolimir told me, "Drop any further preparations. We are halting the task." In our parlance it meant there was going to be nothing that would come out of it.
Q. What did you do?
A. I returned from my office and told General Simic that things were not going to proceed, and General Simic was then even more uncertain what to do and what to tell the families of our VRS captured soldiers.
Q. Did you have any discussion with General Simic as to what -- what 12943 the next course of action was going to be for your corps?
A. Not at that moment. But the next day, or if it was in the morning, it was later that day, say some 5, 10, or 12 hours later, General Simic called me and he told me this: "I called Lieutenant-Colonel or Colonel Pandurevic, commander of the Zvornik Brigade, and he told me," that's what General Simic was telling me that Pandurevic told him, that there were still members of the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina that were trying to break through from Srebrenica to Tuzla, and that capturing them and transporting them to Batkovic was not a problem.
In addition to that information, General Simic ordered the following: He told me to organise through the military police battalion for a certain number of vehicles to be sent, as well as soldiers of the military police who were to take over and escort the captured members of the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina from the general area of Zvornik to the collection centre at Batkovic.
I implemented the order by calling the MP Battalion commander. I conveyed him the corps commander's order. I told him to send an officer with two or three vehicles, as well as a number of military policemen who were to provide security.
Q. How long after you received the task from the Main Staff was it that you -- how much time passed between the time you received it and the time that you called General Tolimir because the prisoners hadn't arrived?
A. It's a difficult question. Well, not the question but whatever 12944 answer I can give you. There must have been at least two to three days. Maybe more.
Q. Could it have been a day or two?
A. I don't think it was as short as only a day or two, because there wasn't -- there wouldn't be enough time for the parents to get all that information and have time enough to pressure the corps command, wanting to know why it wasn't coming about. Well -- but this is just me drawing -- try to draw a conclusion as to a possible time period. I lean towards the figure of two or three days from the moment when the telegram arrived and the instructions to stop preparations.
Q. When you called General Tolimir, can you tell us how it is you were able to identify that he was the person you were speaking to?
A. I knew it because we knew each other's voices. We met previously and had conversations. It wasn't in 1993 that I met him but a couple of years before that when we closely worked together.
Q. All right.
MR. VANDERPUYE: I think this is a good time for the break, Mr. President, if it's time for the break.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes, indeed, it is. We must have our first break now, and we will resume after half an hour, quarter past 4.00.
--- Recess taken at 3.45 p.m.
--- On resuming at 4.17 p.m.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye, before you get the floor, I would like to put a question to the witness.
Sir, you explained that you received the order from 12945 General Tolimir to prepare for accommodation of the prisoners of war and that you handed this telegram over to your commander. Can you help me: What was the reason why Mr. Tolimir contacted you and not the commander directly?
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It's difficult for me to say anything on that question. It's possible that somebody else from the Main Staff who was supposed to have done that and send that to the general part of the corps command was absent, and so he sent -- so that this was then sent by General Tolimir.
In principle, this is not my area of responsibility or part of my assignments in terms of this expert control and direction of the security organs.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Again, why did he call you and not the commander, or sent a telegram to you and not to the commander?
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I don't have a concrete answer. I can make an assumption that this would faster along that line of control and that the corps commander would be acquainted with it sooner so that time would not be lost because of the urgent nature of the preparations. This is what I assume, but ...
I never thought about anything that I received in the sense of why did I receive it.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Your assumption was that Mr. Tolimir stood in for somebody else, another assistant commander, or the commander himself, because they were absent. What did you mean by that?
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, that could have been one of 12946 the reasons why General Tolimir signed the telegram, if he signed it. I'm saying "if," because the usual practice with our telegrams -- or, rather, the rule was always to have the chief or the commander sign his full first and last name on the telegram. It can also be signed by a person standing in for them so that the actual, the true signatory can only be seen on the original document that is being archived. The copy that I would receive in the form of a telegram would not indicate the actual personal signature but only it would state, "Deputy -- assistant commander for intelligence and security affairs, General Tolimir." I don't know if he actually signed that himself or somebody else from his sector where he was the chief. I cannot see that from the telegram.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Once again, my question was quite different from what you provided me with.
You said perhaps Mr. Tolimir signed this document, this order, addressed to you because other commanders, assistant commanders, were absent. Is that what you are saying?
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, I did say that, because I'm saying this again now, that it's also possible that he did that because the others were somewhere absent, in the field or on some other assignment, and he happened to be at the Main Staff command post at that time, and as the most senior officer, then he signed that order -- or, rather, that the signature was made on his behalf.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: I think you are quite familiar with the responsibilities of the members of the Main Staff. To provide accommodation and prepare accommodation for prisoners of war, whose 12947 responsibility in the Main Staff was it to take the necessary steps?
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Generally, yes, I am familiar with the duties of certain sectors in the commands from the lowest to the top ones. However, I'm not sure as for the Main Staff in whose sector that would belong. It should be under the assistant for human resources sector and not the assistant for intelligence and security affairs.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Who in the Main Staff is responsible for the military police?
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The person responsible for the military police in the Main Staff and in the lower-ranking commands in the sense of expert direction and use is the chief -- or, rather, the assistant commander for intelligence and security affairs, and the military police is subordinated directly to the commander. That means that at my level and at the level of the Main Staff as well as at the level of lower commander institutions the chief or assistant commander for intelligence and security affairs proposes to his commander the most rational use of members of the military police, and the commander's word is the last. He decides whether he would accept the proposal in its entirety, some parts of it, or whether he would not accept it at all. Most often the proposal would be accepted, because the assumption is that his assistant is not somebody who's going to be telling children's tales but would provide professional suggestions.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: I take it from your answer that you have been responsible for the military police in your unit. Is that correct?
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] To a certain extent, yes. I was in 12948 charge or responsible in the sense that I was overseeing whether the military police unit was executing the ordered and set assignments, and if they were having certain difficulties or hardships, I was there to help them to resolve those problems. Of course, through other colleagues of mine at the corps command. For example, if they were lacking certain supplies, then I would ask the assistant commander for logistics to provide them with what they needed. For example, I would ask him on a priority basis to provide the military police battalion with --
JUDGE FLUEGGE: I have to interrupt you. This was a very lengthy answer. I wanted to focus on the chain of command.
Who could issue orders to the military police in your unit?
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The commander. Exclusively the commander.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Not you?
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I could if the commander authorised me to do so in certain situations because of an urgent matter, but such situations were rare.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you. Mr. Vanderpuye, please carry on.
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] May I just briefly -- may I just briefly -- for the purpose of clarity, could -- could not -- military police units are issued an order for different assignments. That order is signed by the corps commander. If a plan is made on how to engage forces for a long-term period, then that plan of engagement is drafted by me, but on the left-hand side of the heading of the plan there is a 12949 clause stating, "We authorise," and that is signed by the corps commander, which implies that that is his ultimate word in the chain of decision-making. The battalion or some other military police unit is a unit just like any other corps unit. It's subordinated to the corps commander.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you. Mr. Vanderpuye.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President.
Q. Just to follow up on that a little bit, Colonel, can you tell the Trial Chamber whether or not the military police battalion or elements of the corps military police battalion is responsible for securing the Batkovic prison camp?
A. Yes, they were. A part of the unit from the military police battalion was entrusted for security for the collection centre, or the camp as we refer to it sometimes.
Q. And who was in charge of the military police unit that secured the camp at Batkovic in 1995?
A. Let me just take some time to recollect that. The commander of that small military police platoon at that time I think was Lujic. Yes, Lujic. That is his surname. I can't remember his first name right now. And in that platoon of his or actually that segment of it that secured the Batkovic collection centre were about 20 members of the military police, mostly senior members, who in a way were "given the privilege" of being there because of their age and possible other health difficulties, thus avoiding placing them on some other more demanding assignments 12950 elsewhere that perhaps they were not physically up to.
Q. Who would be responsible for providing professional guidance, direction, or control to this military police battalion that was securing the Batkovic camp?
A. It's a part of the military police battalion. That provisionally formed platoon from the military police battalion was practically resubordinated to the warden of the collection centre. As for the professional line and the discipline it was under the control of the military police battalion Captain Major Dragisa Vulin. This platoon commander, Lujic, received his assignments and reported back on the state of security to the komandir, whatever his name was, of the collection centre.
Q. I'm afraid either there was a translation problem or maybe we've misunderstood one another. In terms of the professional supervision or control over elements of the military police battalion in your corps, was that among your responsibilities as assistant commander for security and intelligence? Maybe that makes it a bit clearer.
A. Yes. One of the assignments conditionally divided into three spheres, the intelligence sphere that I dealt with, the security sphere or the counter-intelligence sphere, and the military police activities. These three segments made up the activities of my sector.
Q. Up until you received this information from General Tolimir that some thousand or 1.200 or 1.300 prisoners would be arriving at the camp, how many military policemen were stationed at the camp securing it?
A. As for the military police during the preparations, a new 12951 contingent was not engaged. The material preparations had just begun, emptying of the hangar and other material preparations in order to be able to receive the prisoners. In the meantime, that activity was halted, and the new contingent, a strengthened contingent of military police from the battalion was never engaged.
Q. Well, how many were there when you got that -- when you were assigned that task? Approximately.
A. As I said before, this was a smaller military police platoon numbering 20 to 25 men that worked in shifts. So on a daily basis 10 of them were engaged while the other 10 to 15 were resting. So they worked in shifts to provide the security. The ones who were engaged on a daily basis had a room where they could sleep so that in essence, possibly -- actually, not possibly, perhaps, you could have two or three active ones. One would be at the reception, the others would be patrolling, and perhaps some others would be in guardhouses in case they were needed.
Q. From a professional or technical point of view as a security officer or the chief security officer at the corps, would a shift of ten military police be sufficient to secure a thousand to 1.300 prisoners?
A. Well, no, it wouldn't be sufficient to secure that many prisoners. It would perhaps be the case that the commander, upon my proposal to the corps commander, would receive the task to engage new manpower in order to be able to deal with a convoy and the reception of that number, but that actually never happened.
Q. And I take it that it didn't happen in this instance because there wasn't enough time for that to happen. Is that fair to say, 12952 Colonel?
A. It did not happen solely because further preparations were stopped for their reception. Had the preparations been underway, some other things would need to have been done. As I said, emptying the hangars, providing minimum living conditions, providing additional water taps, providing latrines, providing a place for meals. As I said, this was interrupted after a few days, and all the other activities then were actually never completed.
Q. With respect to your responsibilities as assistant commander for security and intelligence in the corps, did you have certain concerns or security concerns in relation to the operation of the Batkovic camp?
A. Of course. Just as in any other kind of organisational units or units subordinated to the corps, I had concerns. I mean, it was my duty and my responsibility to apply methods that were at my disposal as the chief of intelligence and security to acquire timely information and data about the status in the Batkovic collection centre in order to make sure that some secret preparations were not being made for escape, that there was no mistreatment or illegal activity going on.
If I were to find out that sort of thing, I would inform the commander and propose measures to him as how to deal with such matters. We never had any serious information about any kind of problem of that nature, however. All the members of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina who had spent a certain amount of time at the collection centre in Batkovic had satisfactory conditions, the situation permitting at the time, that would meet the minimum of their requirements. For example, 12953 food was provided from the same sources as food that went to the corps command. That means that we had -- I had the same lunch from the same cauldron that they had their lunch from. Sometimes some supplies would be late in arriving, but that didn't happen very often. This was in the immediate vicinity, so there was never any need for anything like that.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: I'm sorry, Mr. Vanderpuye. I have to put another question to the witness.
Sir, you told us all the things to be done before the arrival of the prisoners. This is understandable. What was done before the order came to interrupt these preparations? What had been completed in the meantime?
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I remember that a larger hangar had been emptied of the wheat that had been drying in that place. I remember that personnel very quickly gathered all the grain, placed it in sacks and transferred it somewhere else so that that location was emptied so that we could put pallets and mats there for people to sleep on. But the whole activity was suspended when just a small part of all the things that needed to be done was actually done.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Were the pallets and mattresses put into the hangar?
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No. No, they were not.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. As long as we're on this topic, could I have, please, in e-court 65 ter 1361. 2686, please. 12954
Q. Do you recognise what you see on the screen in front of you, Colonel?
A. I do. This is the farm at Batkovic where the collection centre was located.
Q. What I'd like you to do, if we can, is to mark this photograph so that we can identify the relevant parts of this facility for the Trial Chamber. You had just been discussing a hangar that had to be emptied where some agricultural products -- or agricultural items were held or stored. What I'd like you to do is to mark this photograph with a number 1 where that hangar is.
A. The hangar which was emptied where the wheat had been was this one, I believe. This 1 didn't come out that well, but that's the building.
Q. All right.
A. That's where the preparations were begun.
Q. Can you tell us where the prisoners -- first of all, were there prisoners at the facility at the time that the preparations began and, if so, about how many were there?
A. There were approximately between 20 and 30 of them.
Q. Can you indicate with a number 2 the building or the hangar in which those prisoners were held.
Q. Can you identify from this photograph where the reception area is that you refer to in your testimony.
A. Of the police, of the military police? 12955
Q. Yes. Yes.
A. This is the way in the compound. This was the gate and guardhouse.
Q. Can you mark that with a number 3 next to what you've just drawn.
Q. Can you tell us what are in the other buildings or what were in the other buildings in 1995 at the time you received this order to prepare to receive the thousand to 1.300 prisoners.
A. I didn't enter all the buildings, but I know that in this building, which lacked some walls, I think it only had a wall on the north-western side, and at the north-eastern side there was no wall. This is where the agricultural machinery was kept. It was a roofed building, though.
Q. Let's mark that, please, with number 4.
A. [Marks] The same, but in this building there were some spare parts for the machinery.
It was here. The small building housed their own gas station where they could fill the tanks of their agricultural machines.
Q. Please number those 5 and 6 respectively.
A. Five is the building where there were spare parts for the machines, and six, I believe, was the gas station for the needs of the farm.
Q. Can you tell us what the long hangar -- what that hangar housed, the one that's in the middle of the screen without a number?
A. It's another hangar with some of the walls missing, if this is 12956 the one you have in mind, the one where I placed the dot.
Q. Please number that 7.
Q. And can you tell us about --
A. It's an open area where there were all sorts of things, anything that might come in handy on such a military farm.
Q. Can you tell us about the building that's unmarked between 2 and 5 as you've marked them on this photograph.
A. Do you mean this one? I don't know exactly what was inside, but it was in poor condition, so there were no conditions for accommodation in it. The only one which had relatively decent preconditions to house people was the one I marked with 2, which had already been used for that purpose, and we started preparing the building number 1 for the new group.
Q. The building that you've just -- that you just described and placed a dot, could you number that building 8. This is the one you said you weren't sure of what was kept inside of it.
Q. And in terms of the buildings 1 and 2 that you've marked on this photograph, these were the buildings that were intended to house the prisoners that were supposed to be sent to the camp as per the order of General Tolimir; is that right?
A. Yes. On orders from the Main Staff.
Q. And up until that point, that is, up until you received that order, how many prisoners, roughly, at any given time were held at the 12957 Batkovic camp?
A. At the moment when the order arrived, there were between 20 and 30. They were members of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina from the Bihac region, from Western Bosnia. Unfortunately, the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina did not want to consider them for an exchange. They saw the end of the war there. They saw the closure of Batkovic without being exchanged. It was only after the ICRC intervened that they were sent on to third countries so that the entire collection centre could be shut down. There were no other people that -- there at the moment that were of interest.
In the building number 2, there could have been up to 400 people accommodated, because these were large facilities where you could line up people in at least four or five rows on makeshift beds that could be used for prisoners. The building number 2 was equipped in that sense. There were beds, blankets and the rest of things that were needed for their accommodation.
In previous periods there may have been 30, 40, or 50 people maximum. However, the turnover was rather fast, because there was also an interest on the other side to have such prisoner exchanges conducted quickly.
Q. Just so that -- and before I tender this document, but just so that we have an idea of the size of these buildings, are you able to estimate the size of any one of these buildings, 1, 2, 7? Can you tell us approximately how big it is, that is, how many metres it is, breadth and length? 12958 If you can't that's all right, too, but let us know one way or the other.
A. I don't want to just mention a figure and then have to backpedal later. That's not something I want to do. The important thing is that the building number 2 was already used for that purpose, and it could house, at least in my view, between 3- and 400 people. The building number 1 is approximately the same size or slightly bigger. There were newer buildings with good, sound walls and roof, while the rest was almost derelict. It was difficult to use it without some serious reconstruction.
Q. You mentioned a moment ago ICRC, and I wanted to ask you some questions about that in relation to the prisoners that were kept or detain at Batkovic prison. Could you tell us when prisoners are brought to the Batkovic prison, are they registered -- or were they registered at the time by the ICRC?
A. They were registered at Batkovic upon arrival. Simultaneously, a representative or the office of the ICRC in Bijeljina would be notified. They wanted to be there as quickly as possible, usually within hours, to take part in the registration process.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Mr. President, let me tender this exhibit before I forget.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: This aerial photograph with the markings will be received as an exhibit.
THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, 65 ter document 2686 marked by the witness in the court shall be assigned exhibit number P2180. 12959
Q. Tell us a little bit about how the ICRC is notified or receives information when a prisoner is brought to Batkovic.
A. The office of the ICRC that existed in Bijeljina was always in contact with the president of the POW exchange commission of the East Bosnia Corps.
Q. And who was that, for the record?
A. It was Major Ljubomir Mitrovic.
Q. Did the security organ at the corps have anything to do with or any contact with prisoners that were held at the Batkovic prison?
A. I didn't have much possibility or opportunity to make a clear distinction or separation of work for my associates between security and intelligence, because we were short of staff. Therefore, it frequently happened that people in charge of intelligence worked on counter-intelligence and my own staff worked on intelligence matters as well. Therefore, members of my security intelligence department also conducted interviews when POWs were received. Those were short interviews. They wanted to know what unit they belonged to, whether they were wounded, and their particulars, nothing more than that. At the end of such interviews, they would share with me such information they obtained through the interviews following the arrival of POWs at the collection centre.
Q. What would you do with the information that was brought back to you by your assistants who interviewed prisoners at the camp?
A. Depending on the nature of that information, because any type of 12960 information is used for future assessments, conclusions, and proposals, so it all depended on the type of information.
Q. Did you relay any of the information that you received to the superior security organ at the Main Staff level?
A. Yes, I did. Need I explain?
Q. Well, tell us what sort of information it was that you relayed up the security chain.
A. I was under an obligation to send daily reports on security and intelligence support in the corps. That report included three sets of intelligence matters or information. The first set contained intelligence information, that is to say, information about the enemy obtained in various ways, including gathering information from the newly arrived prisoners at the collection centre, for example. Let's say five members of the Tuzla brigade were received at the centre, out of which three were soldiers and one was a commissioned officer and another one was an NCO. I'm just making an example. The first item of the report included intelligence gathered through various methods, not only from the POWs but also from the front lines and through other means that characterized the work of the service. The second set included security issues that may have existed in the units of the East Bosnia Corps, if there were any. The third set included the work and engagement of MP units with all the specific characteristics, issues, if there were any. That was the format of the report. Of course, there's no need and I can't tell you specific information for the 1.000 days that I was 12961 there or so. Of course, I informed the corps commander of all that directly through daily briefings in the evening.
Q. All right.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Sorry, I have only one question. Sir, you mentioned the name of Major Ljubomir Mitrovic. To which unit did this major belong?
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] He didn't belong to any unit, but -- can I expand? It takes a bit of explanation.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Did he have a superior and, if so, who was it?
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, you see, it's a specific case in a way. He was directly under the corps commander or under the corps command, but he was an elderly man in poor health who before his appointment to that position was a security organ of the 1st Semberija Brigade.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: His direct superior was the corps commander; is that correct?
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. Let me add this: In 1993, when I was appointed to my position, there were certain problems with POW exchanges which had to do with the then president of the POW Exchange Commission. It was then that General Simic, the corps commander, tasked me to find a person appropriate to assume that position who would perform that task better.
Taking into consideration the opinion of my subordinates, we concluded that the best available person was Mr. Mitrovic. He used to be a teacher -- 12962
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much. I don't need the full record of this person. I just wanted to know who was his superior. I got the answer.
Mr. Vanderpuye, please carry on.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President.
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] He frequently came to my office to consult so as not to go wrong in certain situations. I had the feeling that he did so because he trusted me personally and because I was in a position that was of sufficient importance, and although my rank was junior to the corps commander's rank, he still came to consult with me frequently on certain matters.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Did you issue orders to him?
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President.
Q. In terms of the information that you relayed to the superior security organ or the organ at the Main Staff, it was the case that you relayed significant information that was conducted as a result of interviews that your personnel carried out at Batkovic. Is that fair?
Q. And in addition to your obligation to relay information up the chain, the security chain, you also received instructions to relay within your corps from the Main Staff as concerns the treatment of prisoners of war. Is that fair?
A. In principle, one could say so, although it is something that is 12963 regulated by army rules in general. However, occasionally there were situations when instruction was sent in order to draw attention to important issues so as to avoid omissions.
Q. Let me show you P1970. I think you've seen this document before.
Q. It's a Drina Corps document dated 15 April 1995. You see at the end of the document that it's signed by Vujadin Popovic. First of all, do you recognise the name Vujadin Popovic?
A. Yes, I do. My colleague at the same level in the Drina Corps, the same level of duties, the same level post.
Q. And in this document, it refers to the arrest and detention of POWs, and in the B/C/S, on the first page you can see the word "instrukcija," instruction. We can see that in the English on the second page. But on the first page there's an explanation given.
A. Yes, I do. I see it towards the bottom of the page, "instrukcija," instruction.
Q. And it says: "Based on the information we received, negligent behaviour has been noticed towards POWs from the moment they are captured to the moment they taken to the Batkovic collection centre or to another place for detention, as well as during the detention itself."
It goes on to provide other explanations for what is ultimately an instruction as to how to deal with military prisoners of war. So if we can go to the second page in the English. And if we can scroll a little bit to the left in the B/C/S so we can see the text. We 12964 can see under item number 1, hopefully -- I don't know if we can go a little bit --
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Item number 1 in B/C/S is on the screen, on the bottom of the page.
MR. VANDERPUYE: I just don't see number 1, and it looks like some of the letters are cut off on my screen, but ...
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes, it is to be seen on the left side.
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, yes. Underneath the "Instruction."
MR. VANDERPUYE: Okay. We are not able to scroll over so the witness can see?
JUDGE FLUEGGE: The court usher, should we check the Prosecutor's screen.
MR. VANDERPUYE: All right. Maybe it's just me.
Q. We can see under item number 1, it says: "All prisoners, members of the enemy army are to be handcuffed or their hands tied with anything available immediately after their capture."
It says: "They are to be searched. All items are to be seized apart from their clothing and footwear."
I think we have to go to the next page at some point in the B/C/S.
"And an official record is to be completed." Do you see that in the instruction, Colonel?
A. I do, I do. I see it. I'm already -- I've already moved on to 12965 the next page.
Q. All right. That's good. It also says that after the search, "... they are to be blindfolded at the place of detention prior to being led away in order to prevent them from observing anything." In the second paragraph and I won't go through the whole document but in the second paragraph it says that:
"The location where POWs are collected must be such --" I see General Tolimir has his hand up.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir.
THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: The microphone, please.
THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I would like to greet all those present. I would like to greet the witness. I would like a pleasant stay for the witness. I would like today's day to end according to God's will and not according to mine. And --
THE INTERPRETER: Could the accused please repeat his question.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, your comment or question was not interpreted and recorded. Please repeat that.
THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I would like the Prosecutor either to quote the contents or to avoid retelling them, because then we get the wrong interpretation, and then the witness will probably have the wrong question. Thank you.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. And I do appreciate the objection, but I am actually reading the text of the English 12966 translation, and perhaps that's the source of the confusion if it's being interpreted live, but that's the best I can do since I can't read it in B/C/S.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: And we followed your reading by comparing with the English version. Please continue.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President.
Q. In the middle of the second paragraph it reads: "The location where POWs are collected must be such that the prisoners are fully secured, as well as the people from the security organ, from the intelligence organ and the military police organ that engages in the interrogation and guards POWs."
First, I just wanted to clarify something with you in terms of this instruction. Is it accurate that the security organ engages in the interrogation of POWs as is certainly suggested in this second paragraph?
A. Can be engaged if needed or as needed. It's not something that happens always, but the security organ can be engaged.
Q. I want to take you over just to item number 6. That should be on the next page in English and --
A. I have it in front of me.
Q. Okay. And under item number 6 it says: "In compliance with the estimate of the responsible organ," and then in brackets, "(investigating judge of the military court, security organ, military police commander, military police patrol leader) the arrested person will be transported with his hands tied and with blindfold, or if necessary, with legs tied, especially if there is a 12967 danger of escape or if the person is being escorted along the front line through significant elements of the combat disposition; if he is being taken to a position in the unit's combat disposition; or if he is being taken to any significant position in the VRS unit's combat disposition." Do you see that there?
A. I do, yes, and I'm following it. I'm following the text.
Q. All right. Do you recall yourself having issued or passed on this very instruction within your corps?
A. Without thinking, I was obliged to pass it on to the subordinate security organs in order to remind them of responsibilities that are regulated anyway. I don't have the right to keep something received from a higher instance only for my own information. That is not the purpose of it.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir.
THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. I kindly ask for the heading to be shown to the witness so that we can see who sent the document. He thinks it was sent from the Main Staff, and if the Prosecutor were to ask him whether he passed it on when he received it, then we can see. I mean, did he receive this document at all? Thank you.
MR. VANDERPUYE: I have no problem with that. We can go to the first page of both documents. I mean both in the B/C/S and in the English.
Q. When we look at the heading -- or, rather, I'm sorry, the first paragraph, under "Arrest and detention of POWs," it reads that: 12968 "We received a telegram, strictly confidential number 18/20-145-1/94 dated 01.04.1994, from the VRS Security Administration." And then it says:
"The telegram outlines in detail the procedure during the detention or arrest of persons violating Rules and regulations. We submit to you the instructions to you in full. Inform military police units with the instruction and act upon the provisions listed." So I'll put this to you, Colonel? Did you yourself receive such an order and pass it on within the corps?
A. I assume that I did, because this is a document drafted by my colleague Vujadin Popovic. It was drafted on the basis of the telegram he received from the security administration of the Main Staff of the Army of Republika Srpska. If I also received it, then it would have been my duty to pass it on and to inform my associates within the department and inform the subordinate military police units and lower-ranking units. When instructions like this are received, they can be sent to all the relevant units, to everybody, or they can be sent only to those units where instances of negligence were observed.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Mr. President -- Mr. President, in light of the witness's answer, I have a document that I'd like to show him. It's 65 ter 7324. It's -- it's a document -- before you load it up --
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Can we, before you move to another document, see the last page -- or the bottom of this page in English so that we have a full picture of it.
Thank you. We see the last page with the signature of 12969 Vujadin Popovic.
Mr. Vanderpuye, please carry on.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. I was drawing the Court's attention to a document that is on my exhibit list. It was not part of the Prosecution's original 65 ter list, but in light of the witness's answer, I think it would be helpful for the Trial Chamber to see it. I -- I have communicated with Mr. Gajic with respect to some of the documents that are listed on the exhibit list which don't have original 65 ter numbers, so I would obviously ask the Court's leave to show this document. It's hard to show it to you to explain why it's relevant without showing it to the witness, but it is directly relevant to the questions that I've just put to him.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Is it included in the list of documents?
MR. VANDERPUYE: The exhibit list, it is, yes.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: And can you -- now I see, yes. It's 65 ter 7324. Yes. Please carry on with the leave of the Chamber.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. If I could show 65 ter 7324 in e-court, please. And we'll just look at the first part of it, and then what I'd like to do is to show that next to P1970, just so the Chamber can see it.
Q. Colonel Todorovic, this is a document as you can see headed -- it says "Eastern Bosnia Corps Command, Security Department." First, that would be your area, wouldn't it?
A. Yes. Yes.
Q. And you can see from this document that it concerns -- well, 12970 first it's dated 20 April 1995, which is five days after the instruction we just saw from the Drina Corps, which is dated 15 April 1995. It concerns --
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Yes, Mr. President.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Could we have a look at the last document again. I was not sure if this is the correct date.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Okay. I'm sorry. I apologise.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: I just want to see --
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, yes. I also noticed the date.
MR. VANDERPUYE: We can -- we can put it up side by side if that --
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Just a short look on the previous document.
MR. VANDERPUYE: It was P1970.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Can we have the English translation of P1970. Thank you very much. It was my mistake. I saw another date. It's fine. This -- the document from the Drina Corps command is dated 15th of April, 1995. Thank you.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Please carry on.
Q. In this document, that is the -- that's 65 ter 7324, we see here in the first paragraph a reference to:
"Negligent behaviour that has been noticed towards POWs from the moment they are captured to the moment they are taken to the Batkovic 12971 collection centre or to another place of detention, as well as during the detention itself."
Do you remember having seen this document before testifying here today?
A. You mean this moment?
Q. Yeah. Do you remember seeing it before you've seen it -- you're looking at it now?
A. Yes, I did. I saw it last week while preparing for my testimony.
Q. And was it I who showed you this document?
Q. Does this document contain the same instruction that we saw in the document issued by the Drina Corps chief of security on 15 April 1995 to the subordinate units of that command?
A. It does, yes, except that the introduction with me, my document, is somewhat shorter.
Q. And for you to have passed this information on, you would have had to have received it. That's pretty fair to say, isn't it?
A. Yes. Correct. That is why my answer a couple of minutes ago I said if I received an instruction or a similar document from my superior command or organ, that does not imply that I acquaint myself with the instruction but inform also my subordinate organs and all the parties in the corps and the corps units. This document is headed "To the 3rd Military Police Battalion," only. So from this you can see that on the original, you can see who signed it and to whom the document was sent. Let's say one brigade of the East Bosnian Corps received this via 12972 telegram. The battalion received it directly, because it was some 500 metres away. So it didn't have to be encrypted, but it was just put in an envelope and sent over by messenger, so that the commander of the 3rd Battalion received the original with a proper stamp and signature not via telegram, which is how the colleague from the other corps battalions received it. That is the only difference.
Q. Thank you. Mr. President, I'd like to tender this document.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Could we please see the last page in both versions.
Sir, do you recognise the signature on this page in B/C/S?
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. This is my signature.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you.
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] And underneath that there is a remark that is handwritten. Perhaps it's a bit hard to read, but it states "Acquainted with," or "informed." The company commander of the armoured transporter unit, Tomic, he was probably standing in for the commander at the time. So to me that is confirmation that the other side received the document on the basis of which they could further act.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye, this document will be received as an exhibit.
THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, the document 65 ter 7324 shall be assigned exhibit number P2181. Thank you, Your Honours.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you.
Q. Colonel, in relation to this instruction, we see that on your copy of it, that's just been admitted into evidence, it was directed to 12973 the military police battalion of the East Bosnia Corps. Is that right?
A. Yes, that is correct. That is the copy that you are showing, but I do have a comment. Since the battalion command was in the Bijeljina barracks, this document was sent to them directly for purposes of information by messenger. And here, where you can see in the marker written "3rd Battalion of the military police," and then there's a free line, that line is used to note down all the units that are subordinated to me or to the corps command. So other than the military police battalion, the documents were sent to the 1st, 3rd, 5th Brigades and all the other units but you cannot see that from this document. If you had my original document then at the bottom it would state all the addressees to whom the document was sent. But this particular document was only sent to the 3rd Battalion of the military police, but the line, the blank line below the 3rd Battalion would indicate that the document was also sent as a circular to all the other corps units --
A. -- to be acted upon.
Q. Okay. So this information, this instruction, emanated from the Main Staff security administration, as we can see in P01970. That's the version of the instruction that was passed on by your colleague, Vujadin Popovic in the Drina Corps. And the tasks to which these instructions relate, do -- do they involve the functions of the military police with respect to the treatment of prisoners of war?
A. I don't think I understood your question quite clearly.
Q. Do the tasks that are -- that derive from these instructions, do 12974 they have anything to do with the functions of the military police?
A. Yes, they do.
Q. And you're obliged by your superior in the Main Staff security administration to communicate these instructions to the military police with respect to the handling of prisoners of war; is that right?
A. Yes, and that is this document that we are looking at.
Q. Are you under a corresponding obligation to ensure that tasks over which you have professional control are implemented in accordance with these instructions?
A. Of course, as is the case with all orders and tasks issued. I mean, if their implementation is not controlled, then there is no point. Otherwise, we will not know if they were carried out, how they are carried out. After each assignment is completed there is control, correction, additions, and so on and so forth.
Q. When an instruction such as this one is issued and then passed on through the corps commands to the subordinate units, including the military police, is that done with the expectation that these instructions are -- are met and carried out?
A. Yes. It is my duty to try to explain one thing. An instruction, that's why I signed it and not the corps commander, does not have the force of an order. It implies the duty to act correctly, professionally, to instruct somebody, teach them, remind them of some duties that are regulated anyway. And for that reason, I signed the instruction and not the corps commander in the sense of instructing the subordinates, reminding them of certain -- actually, not certain but specific duties 12975 which are regulated by the rules on the use of military police and so on and so forth, because one of the assignments of military police units is to escort and provide security for prisoners of war, and while escorting and securing them, there are rules as to how this is supposed to be done in order to prevent their violations and negligence. Sometimes it's necessary to issue instructions to remind them of these duties and responsibilities. Sometimes even lectures are held in order to do this.
Q. The person who receives the instruction, are they duty-bound to follow it?
Q. Thank you.
MR. VANDERPUYE: I think now is a good time for the break, Mr. President.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes, indeed. We adjourn and resume quarter past 6.00.
--- Recess taken at 5.47 p.m.
--- On resuming at 6.18 p.m.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye, please carry on.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. If I could have 65 ter 4110 in e-court, please.
Q. Colonel, I want to show you a document that I hope will be responsive to some of the questions that were put to you by the Trial Chamber as concerns why you received the telegram, as you state, from General Tolimir concerning the prisoners from Srebrenica. This is a document as you can see it's headed -- it says "Command 12976 of the Drina Corps, Intelligence Department." It's dated 12 July 1995. And it's addressed to, among other units, your unit, your command, as well as to the intelligence and security departments and directed to the Pribicevac IKM, to General Krstic, and to Lieutenant-Colonel Popovic at the Bratunac IKM.
If I could just show you page 2 of this document in both the B/C/S and English. You see at the very top of the page it says: "Chief, Major-General Zdravko Tolimir."
Now, what I want to ask you in particular is do you have a recollection of having received this document? Let's start there. If you have a need to look at the substance of it, I can go over some of it with you if that will help you.
A. I briefly looked at the first page while it was still on the screen. However, I believe I should have received it based on its contents, although I can't recall when I received it.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir.
THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Could we please have page 1. The witness asked to see it, I believe.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes. There is page 1.
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, I can see it. This document must have been received.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: By you. Correct?
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] We can see from the document that it was sent to the adjacent corps, the Sarajevo-Romanija and the Eastern Bosnia Corps to the north and south for their information. 12977 As for the tasks, they mainly pertained to the command and units of the Drina Corps.
Q. All right. I just want to go over some of the substance of this document. The first thing is you can see it's dated the 12th of July, 1995. And then you can see that it's directed to the security organs, and about, let's say -- it says in the second paragraph: "On 12th July at 1945 hours, a radio network of elements of the 28th Muslim Division was activated ..."
And then it talks about elements of that division came across "our minefield in the sector of Ravni Buljim."
If you go to the fourth paragraph it reads that: "Those who communicated over the radio network were extremely frightened and yet undecided about the direction of breaking through the line of defence of the Zvornik Brigade and the 1st -- and the 1st Bratunac Light Infantry Brigade."
It says: "In addition to, it's not clear whether all elements of these units had been pulled out from the area of the former Muslim enclave of Srebrenica since they were discovered in the early morning hours after they had activated our minefield."
And what I want to focus your attention on in particular is that it says in the next paragraph:
"All electronic surveillance units of the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps, the East Bosnia Corps and the Drina Corps shall 12978 focus on surveillance and monitoring radio communications between these Muslim groups which operate on frequency 164 800."
First, from this document it appears that your corps had a surveillance unit capable of monitoring the area in which these individuals were fleeing from the enclave of Srebrenica. Is that -- is that true?
A. The following is true: The command of the East Bosnia Corps had a platoon for electronic surveillance or electronic reconnaissance, which means they used electronic devices to monitor radio networks. They obtained information through such surveillance. However, this doesn't mean that they were capable of seeing physically any of those members. You know how radio waves spread and how they can be intercepted. This task was received, and this was the frequency. It may have changed, but the operators in charge monitored all frequencies. We were under an obligation to inform if we obtained any information even absent this order. We always had to inform our superiors, as I have explained already.
Q. Well, there's two things about this document that I wanted to ask you about. The first is you can see what its subject matter concerns, and that is individuals that are fleeing the area of -- of Srebrenica, and that particular information, from this document it appears to have been communicated to the Eastern Bosnian Corps command and in particular to the security organs. Do you have a recollection of receiving this information on that date concerning these individuals?
A. I said in my answer previously that I must have received this 12979 information. There is no reason to doubt that. However, its contents primarily had to do with the units that were along the route the 28th Division members took en route to Tuzla. The part which I understood pertains to me is in this part where it says, "All electronic surveillance units of the SRK, IBK, and DK, shall focus on surveillance." The rest did not have anything to do with the East Bosnia Corps units, because we were at least some 50 kilometres away.
Q. If we can go to the second page of this document. And if you look at -- I think we have to go also to the B/C/S. If you look at the top of the page in B/C/S and the third paragraph in English, you can see here that General Tolimir states:
"Although it is very important to arrest as many members of the shattered Muslim units as possible, or liquidate them if they resist, it is equally important to note down the names of all men fit for military service who are being evacuated from the UNPROFOR base in Potocari." Insofar as this concerns individuals who have surrendered and may be arrested, it concerns, would it not, prisoners of war?
A. One could draw that conclusion, but neither then nor now can I remember my precise role and place in all that. I wasn't in Potocari, and I didn't have anything to do with that part of obligations. I can only draw conclusions based on the document itself. Anything else would be something that is not my direct experience.
Q. All right. But this is a document, as you said, that you should have received, even though you were 50 kilometres away, as the chief of security of the Eastern Bosnia Corps. Is that right? 12980
A. That is not in dispute.
Q. All right.
MR. VANDERPUYE: I'd like to -- I'd like to tender this document, Mr. President, if I could.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: It will be received. Mr. Gajic.
MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, the same document with the same ERN number is already in evidence as D64. It is literally the same.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much for this information.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. I'll happily accept that.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: I had a recollection that I saw this already. The registrar will check if that is the same document. Mr. Gajic, you are absolutely right. It is already in evidence.
Q. Let me just quickly show you -- well, before I show you this document, let me just ask you a question. The date of this document that I've just shown to you now, D64, I think it's referred to now, is 12 July. Is that about the time that you received the information from General Tolimir concerning the arrival of a thousand to 1.300 prisoners at Batkovic?
A. In Belgrade and during proofing a few days ago, I already said that it was in the course of the same few days. I don't know whether it was on the 11th or the 12th or the 13th. In any case it was in that 12981 short period.
Q. I think you said a little bit earlier on in the transcript that it was about two or three days after that that you called General Tolimir because the prisoners hadn't arrived. Do you remember that testimony?
A. Yes, I do. And I also explained why I called him.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Could I have 1D733, please, in e-court. And we'll need to go to page 40 in the English and page 38, I believe, in the B/C/S.
Q. In your interview on the 2nd of February, 2010, you were asked the following question, and I guess I'll read to put it in context from a little bit -- from probably line 6 or so where you were asked. "Ok, but you said also that it could be the following morning, the following day in the morning."
And that's referring to contacting General Tolimir. And you say: "I am really not able to give you an exact answer, not that I don't want to, it's just that I ..."
And you were put another question: "Ok, ok, now if I understood you correctly you said it was 24 hours later that you contacted him on the orders of Novica Simic to see what was going on when the prisoners would arrive?"
And your answer was: "Yes.
Question: "Do you remember that --" Or, rather: "You remember that?
"Maybe 24, maybe 48, but quite soon." 12982 I understand there is a disparity in the English and B/C/S, but the gist of it is essentially one or two days. Do you see that in your answer to the questions that were put to you during your interview?
A. There is some of what you are asking me about on this page, but I guess the rest spills over to the next page. On this page we have the beginning of preparations.
Q. On the page in front of you, you will see midway through it, it says, "Da li je 24 ili i vise ..."
A. Yes, yes. I see it.
Q. What does that say so that we're clear for the record. You can read it out.
A. It reads: "Very well. You said that 24 hours later you called on orders by Novica Simic to check what was going on." "Yes.
"And where the prisoners were. "Whether it was 24 or more, well, now, two days may have gone by, but shortly thereafter.
"So quite shortly thereafter? "Yes.
"So it is possible the next day at around the same time, 24 hours?
"More than 20." From the moment when the telegram arrived with instructions for preparations until the moment I learned that the preparations were to be stopped. I think it was more than 24 hours. Whether it was two days or 12983 three days, that I really can't say. It's difficult for me to say. It's difficult to be precise, to tell you it was at that particular time. You know what conditions we lived under at the time, and frequently we even lost track if it was morning or evening because we had a lot of work to do, and one cannot remember such details, at least not for a long time.
Q. Well, do you stand by what you said in your interview? We can all see it here, so do you stand by it is the question?
A. That's clear. There's no reason for me to change anything. From this interview or from the conversation with you a few days ago I told you that remember the gist of it but I can't recall details. I can't say, decidedly, it was at this hour and this minute. I understand these are big issues, but time takes its toll on my memory. It's difficult. It's not that I don't want to, but, really, I can't. I can't say with full responsibility that it was 24 hours later, 48 hours later. In any case, it was more than one day, because we had already started preparations following the order. The hangar with wheat was emptied, and it could not have been done in five to ten hours. First we had to notify the management of the farm, then they had to bring in the vehicles. So it must have taken at least a day for those things alone, following which we were advised to halt any further preparations. That is why I conclude that it was more than 24 hours. I'm not saying this because I'm certain it was 30 hours, though, or five days.
Q. All right, Colonel. Thank you. I want to take you to another area, if I could. I want to ask you a little bit about the Vanikov Mlin prison. Do you know what I'm talking about, first of all? 12984
Q. And can you tell the Chamber where that prison is.
A. That prison is in the town of Bijeljina itself, next to the gate to the military barracks. If you were going that way, to the right would be the barracks and to the left there is the former mill, which was abandoned, and the premises were used to place vehicles and equipment belonging to the military police, and among other things, military detention was in the same building.
Q. And what was the relationship of this prison to the East Bosnia Corps, if any?
A. The military detention unit was an organisational unit of the command of the East Bosnia Corps. It was part of the garrison command, to be more specific. There was the garrison commander who was subordinated to the corps commander. The garrison command dealt with different issues such as housing and health issues ending with the military detention unit. The garrison command was at the helm, and he was directly subordinated to the corps commander.
Q. Who was the garrison commander in 1995?
A. The garrison commander from 1994 until the end was Lieutenant-Colonel Petar Jovanovic. He died in the meantime.
Q. Did the prison have a warden?
A. Yes, there was a military prison warden. His name was Milan Savic.
Q. Now, you've said that the -- well, let me ask, rather. Was the prison subordinated to the corps commander? 12985
A. I've already said that. Through the garrison commander; it was part of the garrison command. The garrison command is subordinated to the garrison commander and its complete structure.
Q. And you said that it's a military detention unit. What kind of prisoners are held in this facility?
A. The facility held members of the Army of Republika Srpska exclusively due to different reasons, disciplinary violations and violations of military rules.
Q. The violations of military rules and disciplinary violations, are those matters within the competence of the security organ within the corps in any respect?
A. No. Disciplinary measures for violations are under the jurisdiction of the military commanders.
Q. And with respect to the security facilities or security personnel, rather, at this prison do you have -- or would you have had at the time any professional control as you would over, for example, the military police as the security organ in the corps?
A. The similar applies as for the collection centre in Batkovic. As part of military detention unit, there was a section of the military police which was providing security for the detention area, and my task and role was in overseeing the overall work of the members of the military police. If there was a need, I would also oversee the work of those members of the military police battalion who were providing security in the military detention unit.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir. 12986
THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Mr. President, could the witness not be asked about professional issues. I mean, by profession he's a military officer. Official duties is one thing. There's a difference between professional duties and official duties. I am just observing that the questions being put to the witness concern his professional position or attitude even though he himself never mentioned that.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: I think this witness is capable to answer the questions put to him by the Prosecutor, and he may distinguish between different terms, but you may deal with that during cross-examination, Mr. Tolimir.
Mr. Vanderpuye, please carry on.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. And if I did make the reference to professional control, I certainly meant it in the context of the specialist control, a professional subordination that the witness had been talking about in his testimony till now.
Q. You mentioned that the prison was used or that there were exclusively VRS personnel that were prisoners in this prison. Were there prisoners that were detained in this prison that were not VRS personnel?
A. Yes. As a matter of fact, sometimes at certain points in time they were being brought to the prison premises, to the offices of the military detention facility for informative talks and not to be, conditionally speaking, become the population of that prison. For example, if an interview was supposed to be conducted with somebody who was at the Batkovic collection centre, for example, then there was the option of ordering some of those people by first and last 12987 name to be brought to the warden of the military detention unit, to his office, so that one of the security organs, an investigative judge or another authorised person could speak with that person. After that they would be returned to Batkovic. So that was the only way in which from time to time members who were actually -- or persons who were not members of the VRS could happen to be in that building.
Q. Members -- or I should say persons who were not members of the VRS who were there as prisoners would be prisoners of war, wouldn't they?
A. Yes. There couldn't be anyone else.
Q. And if they were brought to the prison for what you've referred to as a -- informative talks, I just want to clarify what that is. Do you mean by that interrogation or an interview?
A. There was an interview conducted with them. Sometimes on the basis of that conversation, if there were elements there, perhaps an investigating judge would join in this interview, but perhaps if indications were there that it was necessary to conduct an interview based on initial information because one had received this certain or given information.
Q. When prisoners were brought there, as you said, from Batkovic, for example, to be interrogated, were these prisoners that had already been registered with the ICRC?
Q. And was it the case that prisoners who were brought to this prison -- POWs, I'm sorry, that were brought to this prison had been registered with the ICRC either before being brought there or upon being 12988 brought there?
A. They were registered when they entered the Batkovic collection centre. If needed, on the basis of initial information to broaden the interview, then subsequently, so that somebody didn't have to go to Batkovic, there were examples when the warden of the collection centre was called and he was told, "Send such and such a person escorted by the military police to Vanik's Mlin, Vanik's Mill for the purposes of an interview with him."
Q. What about prisoners that were brought there who didn't come to Batkovic? Were those prisoners registered with the ICRC at the time they arrived or beforehand? Can you tell us about that?
A. Well, this is a question that deals with possibilities to which I don't really have any concrete answers. I would like a more specific question, please.
Q. When a prisoner is registered with the ICRC, is that something that you as the chief of security would be informed about?
A. Lists were not in my -- under my authority. I was not supposed to receive complete lists. The president of the Commission for Exchange received complete list, and he would submit a report to the corps commander -- or, rather, he would match up the lists with representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross at their office in Bijeljina, and the Bijeljina office of the ICRC had unimpeded daily 24-hour access and entrance to the collection centre. So there was no need, nor was it possible for anybody to be concealed who was not registered and who was not in evidence. 12989 There's one detail, perhaps I didn't mention it, but for the purposes of clarity of all of this. Besides the ID card -- or the card for each prisoner of war, there was also a register book of all the prisoners of war. When the war was finished and when the collection centre was disbanded, I personally kept this register for some two years at least. I even took it with me out of the premises for fear that it would be lost unintentionally or deliberately, so then later on we would not have any material evidence that things were the way we said they were. And when in Banja Luka, the Government of Republika Srpska drafted records and lists of the total number of casualties and losses, then the register book was handed over to the commission in Banja Luka so that they could have it and compare that record with some of their own lists and records.
Q. Was it the case that there were prisoners brought to this prison, Vanikov Mlin prison, by the security administration of the Main Staff?
A. For a brief period. Perhaps for a day or two or three. After the fall of Srebrenica - and I really cannot tell you the exact dates of the beginning and the end, but in any case, it's the fall of Srebrenica - the team that was conducting the interviews - I think they were from the intelligence sector of the Main Staff - used Vanik mill facilities for these interviews since they're probably -- it's my assumption that they did not have any suitable premises at their disposal in the south, but the registering of these persons was not something that was part of my duties, and they were not obliged to inform me about that, nor did I express any kind of curiosity on that matter. 12990
MR. VANDERPUYE: Mr. President, I see that we're out of time, so this is a good place to stop.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes, indeed. Can you give us an indication about the remainder of your examination-in-chief?
MR. VANDERPUYE: I somehow knew you were going to ask me that. I think I've got three hours and 15 minutes in. I've estimated four, which I think might have been a little bit more conservative than I thought, but I don't think it'll be much more than four anyway, maybe four and a half hours, I hope to finish.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much. Mr. Gajic, we will come back to the discussion at the outset of our hearing today with the reception of number -- of documents and the numbering of them by tomorrow, I hope.
We have to adjourn for the day, and we'll resume tomorrow in the morning at 9.00 in Courtroom II.
--- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 7.02 p.m., to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 19th day
of April, 2011, at 9.00 a.m.