1 begin by asking its questions of you.
2 [Trial Chamber and Registrar confer]
3 JUDGE HALL: But before she does that, I would now invite the
4 Court Officer to have you take the solemn declaration.
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will
6 speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
7 WITNESS: ASIM BASIC
8 [Witness testified through interpreter]
9 [Witness testified via videolink]
10 Examination by Ms. Pidwell:
11 JUDGE HALL: Thank you, sir.
12 Yes, Ms. Pidwell.
13 MS. PIDWELL: Thank you, Your Honour.
14 Q. Good afternoon, Mr. Basic.
15 A. Good afternoon.
16 Q. Are you able to hear me and see me?
17 A. Yes, I can see and hear you well.
18 Q. I'm going to ask you a series of questions, and the questions
19 that I ask will be translated as I speak, so I ask you just to pause
20 between my questions and your answers so the interpreters can keep up
21 with us.
22 Mr. Basic, do you have a bundle of documents in front of you?
23 A. Yes, there are some.
24 Q. Well, if we just leave them in front of you for the moment, and
25 I'll be referring to them during the course of your testimony this
2 Firstly I'd just like to ask you some background questions, sir.
3 We've heard that you were born in the municipality of Gacko in
4 southern Bosnia and Herzegovina; is that right?
5 A. Yes, it is.
6 Q. And am I correct in saying that you lived there for your entire
7 life up until the war broke out in 1992?
8 A. I lived in Gacko and worked there and was born there until the
9 war broke out. I haven't been anywhere else.
10 Q. And the town that you lived in was the town of Basici, the town
11 of your birth; is that correct?
12 A. No, it is called Fazlagica Kula. It is made up of 13 villages
13 and they constitute a local community. My own village is called Basici.
14 Q. If my math is correct in 1991, would you have been 40 years old.
15 Does that sound right to you?
16 A. Well, yeah, I was born in 1951.
17 Q. And, sir, are you married?
18 A. On the 7th of February, 1951. Yes, I'm married. I've got a wife
19 and four kids.
20 Q. And do you still live in the municipality of Gacko?
21 A. No. When I was evicted from Gacko, I didn't return, because I
22 didn't dare. Now I'm in Sarajevo.
23 Q. Can you please tell the Tribunal the -- the municipalities that
24 surround the municipality of Gacko?
25 A. The municipality of Gacko is surrounded by the municipalities of
1 Nevesinje, on the north; a village on Trebinje on the south; then Foca on
2 one side ...
3 Q. And is the terrain of the municipality generally flat, or is it
5 A. The Gacko Polje, that is the Gacko field is flat but there are
6 mountains also.
7 Q. And before the war, would you agree with me that approximately
8 11.000 people lived in this municipality?
9 A. Yes, round about that number.
10 Q. And of those 11.000 people, approximately 35 per cent were from
11 your ethnic background, Bosniaks; is that correct?
12 A. Yes, if we take the entire municipality. But the town of Gacko
13 itself was predominantly Bosniak.
14 Q. That's right. Would you agree that the town of Gacko itself was
15 approximately 51 per cent Bosniak and 49 per cent predominantly Serb and
16 other ethnicities?
17 A. There were two or three Croats, and all the rest were Serbs, and
18 51 per cent were Bosniaks.
19 Q. Outside of the -- the town of Gacko, which areas in the
20 municipality did the Bosniaks predominantly live?
21 A. Kula Fazlagica was made up of 13 villages and they were all
22 Bosniaks and there was also Borac. These were inhabited by Bosniaks and
23 all the other villages were Serb villages.
24 Q. Thank you, sir. I'd ask if can you look at the documents that
25 are in the bundle in front of you and turn to tab -- the document behind
1 tab 1. It's 65 ter 10135.23. Sorry, 101735. 10137.23.
2 Do you have that map in front of you, sir?
3 A. Yes, I do.
4 MS. PIDWELL: Yes, Your Honours, it is one of the maps that's in
5 the binders.
6 JUDGE HARHOFF: [Microphone not activated]
7 MS. PIDWELL: Yes.
8 Q. Sir, do you agree that this is a -- a basic map of the
9 municipality of Gacko?
10 A. Yes, I agree, to a great extent.
11 Q. And that it has the -- on the map it has marked the Muslim towns
12 that you were referring to: Fazlagica Kula at the bottom, and Borac at
13 the top?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. And your town was one of the hamlets within Fazlagica Kula; is
16 that correct?
17 A. Yes. It there was a connection with another village in the
18 direction of Nevesinje.
19 Q. And besides those two villages that you've named, the other towns
20 that we see named on that map, were they predominantly Serb towns?
21 A. Well, yes. Avtovac was Serbian, Ravni also, Kokorina. And
22 Cemerno was also a Serb villages.
23 Q. We see also on that map, and you've just mentioned the town of
24 Avtovac, was there anything in particular that was based at that town?
25 A. Yes, yes.
1 Q. What was there?
2 A. There was a military barracks.
3 Q. And just to give us a little bit of perspective, how far is that
4 from the -- the main town of Gacko that we see there?
5 A. Two and a half or 3 kilometres, roughly.
6 Q. And to give us also a little bit of perspective, in your town,
7 how many households made up your town of Basici?
8 A. There were 70 houses in Basici, and there were three persons that
9 lived in each of these houses, three to four.
10 Q. There's also a thermal power plant in the municipality of Gacko.
11 Are you able to show us on the map before you -- approximately where that
13 Perhaps the court Registrar could assist you by providing a pen.
14 A. It should be here. Here, between Gacko and the place in the
16 MS. PIDWELL: I wonder if the court Registrar in Sarajevo could
17 assist the witness in marking the -- the map before him, please.
18 Q. If you could just place a number 1 where the thermal power plant
19 is, please.
20 A. [Marks]
21 MS. PIDWELL: Your Honours, I'm in your hands at this point
22 whether you want the witness to hold it up to the camera or that we could
23 simply tender it and the Registrar can bring it back. Thank you.
24 Could I please tender that document as an exhibit at this stage
1 JUDGE HALL: Admitted and marked.
2 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, that will be Exhibit Number P00914.
3 Thank you, Your Honours.
4 JUDGE HALL: Sorry, Ms. Pidwell, do you anticipate this witness
5 making any further markings on the copy of the map that he has?
6 MS. PIDWELL: No, I don't, Your Honour.
7 Q. And, finally, on these general background questions, sir, could
8 you briefly describe what the relations were like between Bosniaks and
9 Serbs in the municipality of Gacko before the war.
10 A. [No interpretation]
11 MS. PIDWELL: I don't -- I think we're having a problem. There
12 is no translation coming through, Your Honours.
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Before the war the relationships
14 were excellent until the moment some paramilitary formations came from
15 Serbia about a couple of months before the war. Before that, everything
16 was excellent, we socialised, we celebrated our religious holidays
17 together. It was good.
18 MS. PIDWELL:
19 Q. I wanted to ask you some questions about what happened after the
20 elections in 1990.
21 Do you recall who was appointed the president of the
23 A. Mitar Lazetic was appointed the president of the municipality.
24 Q. And from which political party was he from?
25 A. The SDS.
1 Q. And did you know him personally?
2 A. Yes. We worked together. He was one of the engineers in the
3 thermal electric plant.
4 Q. And do you know who -- do you recall who was appointed the chief
5 of the SJB in Gacko after the -- directly after the elections?
6 A. Elvedin Dzubur was the commander of the SJB and Tale Talovic was
7 the chief of the SUP, until the moment the SDS took over. After that, a
8 certain person was brought over from Foca and appointed commander of the
10 Q. Do you recall the name of the -- sorry. The -- after the
11 elections was the chief of the SJB appointed from the SDS or from the
12 SDA; do you recall that?
13 A. I believe that he was from the SDS. And before that, he was from
14 the SDA. After the elections the person from the SDA was the chief of
15 public security, and then the SDS came and forcefully removed that person
16 from office.
17 Q. Do you recall the name of the chief of public security from the
19 A. Tale Talovic. And the police commander was Elvedin Dzubur.
20 Q. And you've said that these positions were then taken over by the
21 SDS. Do you recall how that happened?
22 A. When the paramilitary formations arrived in Gacko, there was a
23 rebellion, and then they forcibly removed both the police commander and
24 the police chief.
25 Q. Do you know who was appointed in their place?
1 A. A certain name called Popovic was brought to that position and
2 the police commander was Vitomir Popic, a former police officer.
3 Q. I'm going ask you to repeat the name of the police commander
4 because I'm not sure it was caught by the interpreters.
5 Could you name the police commander?
6 A. The police commander was Vitomir Popovic, and the chief I don't
7 know what his first name was. I know that his family name was Popovic
8 and the other was Vitomir Popic. And I don't know Popovic's first name.
9 I only know that his family name was Popovic.
10 Q. The -- the police commander Popovic, did you know him personally?
11 A. I knew him -- I knew 99 per cent of the children in Gacko let
12 alone the police commander. Of course I knew him.
13 Q. And did you know Popic personally?
14 A. I knew Popic personally. And as for Popovic, I did not know him,
15 and I never saw him before.
16 Q. Sorry, sir, I just need to go back a little bit. These names are
17 a little bit confusing because they are so similar.
18 The -- there are two gentlemen who are the police chief and the
19 police commander of the SJB in Gacko. The one that you have said you
20 knew was -- just to clarify, was Popic. Is that correct?
21 A. Yes, Popic. And the other one was Popovic.
22 Q. And you have said that -- initially you said that Popovic, that
23 you knew Popovic, but can you confirm whether you knew [Microphone not
25 A. No, I didn't know Popovic; no, I didn't. What I am saying is
1 that I knew Popic. I didn't know Popovic. Popovic was brought to our
2 village from Foca.
3 Q. I'm going to ask you to look at a document, please. It's under
4 tab 10 in your binder, and it's 65 ter 2133.
5 A. Popovic ...
6 Q. Sir, do you have that page in front of you?
7 A. Yes, I do. I do, yes.
8 Q. Going through the names from the top, can you -- will you see
9 that under number one it says Vojin Popovic. Is that the name -- is that
10 the person that you were referring to that you did not --
11 A. Yes, yes, Vojin Popovic, yes.
12 Q. And underneath.
13 A. Vitomir Popic. That's the person whom I didn't know personally.
14 Vitomir Popic. I knew him. Because he used to work as a police officer
15 in Gacko.
16 Q. And going down the list, sir, are there any other names on that
17 list that you recognise as people that you know personally or knew
19 A. Mladen Vukovic, Milivoj Vukovic --
20 THE INTERPRETER: The witness is reading names.
21 MS. PIDWELL: Perhaps we could have the interpretation, please.
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I knew all those who are on the
23 list. I knew them by sight.
24 MS. PIDWELL:
25 Q. And after Popovic was appointed, did you ever encounter him in
1 the town of Gacko, in his role as the chief of police?
2 A. Well, yes, in passing. I happened to see him oftentimes.
3 MS. PIDWELL: I'd ask that this document be admitted and marked
4 at this juncture, please.
5 JUDGE HALL: Admitted and marked.
6 THE REGISTRAR: That would be Exhibit Number P00915. Thank you,
7 Your Honours.
8 JUDGE DELVOIE: I think -- Ms. Pidwell, I think we should clarify
9 something in the -- in the transcript.
10 At page 10, line 22 -- no, no, no. Because there is a confusion
11 about who the witness knows and who he doesn't know.
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I knew them all by sight. I knew
13 95 per cent of the children and everybody. I knew them all by sight.
14 JUDGE DELVOIE: Except Popovic. I can't -- I can't find -- I
15 can't find it in the transcript anymore. But at a certain moment he
16 says -- well, in the transcript he seems to say, Popic, I don't know him.
17 But the -- the Vitomir Popic was your question and not his answer.
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I knew Popic well.
19 JUDGE DELVOIE: Okay. Okay. So it's okay.
20 MS. PIDWELL: Would Your Honours like me to clarify that once
22 JUDGE DELVOIE: No, no. As long as it is clear in the transcript
23 and there is no doubt about it.
24 MS. PIDWELL:
25 Q. Sir, can you explain how it is that you say that you knew the
1 majority of the people in Gacko but you didn't know Popovic before his
3 A. Popovic had lived in Foca. I didn't know him. After the
4 elections, he was brought over from Foca to be what he was to be. He had
5 not lived in Gacko before.
6 JUDGE HARHOFF: [Microphone not activated] [Previous translation
7 continues] ...
8 MS. PIDWELL:
9 Q. Thank you, sir.
10 Sir, we've just talked about how the -- the SDS appointed these
11 two men into these positions. Are you able to -- do you know if there
12 were any other Bosniaks who were replaced by Serbs in the municipality of
13 Gacko during -- in the pre-war period?
14 A. They replaced Asim Faglagic [phoen], who was a doctor in the
15 hospital. Izet Skoplj [phoen] in the school, in the primary school, and
16 there you go.
17 Q. Do you recall the first time that -- when you saw armed forces
18 passing through Gacko?
19 A. I don't remember the date.
20 Q. That's all right. Can you describe what you saw and what you
22 A. I remember that I saw them passing and I -- and a relative of
23 mine were counting them. 350 tanks, and other vehicles went in the
24 direction of Mostar and further on towards Dubrovnik, and the rest
25 remained stationed on the hilltops around Gacko.
1 Q. And do you recall the general reaction of the Bosniaks in your
2 community to this?
3 A. Bosniaks considered them an occupation army; whereas, the Serbs
4 praised them and threw flowers on them.
5 Q. And can you describe if and how tensions between the two
6 ethnicities developed after this?
7 A. For a while, we continued working together without any problems,
8 until the moment some paramilitary formations came from Serbia. They
9 were billeted in the hotel and then the went around the Serb villages and
10 trained the Serb youth. And that's how it all started.
11 And then Armin Boskovic and Nermin Grebovic-- or rather Zoran
12 Grebovic were killed. And that's when tensions actually started.
13 Q. Where were they killed?
14 A. They were killed as they were driving potatoes to Sarajevo. On
15 the way back, they were killed in a place called Cember.
16 Q. If you can have a look once again, sir, at the map that you were
17 looking at before under tab 1, is the place that you described as Cember
18 on that map?
19 A. Yes, yes, Cember is here.
20 Q. And how far is that from the town of Gacko?
21 A. About 15 to 20 kilometres, between 15 and 20 kilometres. I don't
22 know exactly.
23 Q. And what, if anything, did the Bosniak community do after these
24 two men were killed?
25 A. There was a protest rally in the centre of Gacko. There were
1 Serbs who joined them as well and participated in that protest rally.
2 Q. And did the Serb authorities take any steps as a result of that
4 A. They promised but they didn't deliver. They knew who had killed
5 them, but they did not take any steps.
6 Q. I want to ask you some questions now, sir, about events which
7 took place in April and May of 1992.
8 Did -- did Bosniak or Muslim businesses continue to operate
9 during this time?
10 A. I did not understand you.
11 Q. I want to ask you some questions about events which took place
12 after -- or during and after April 1992. And, in particular, whether
13 Bosniak businesses continued to operate or if anything happened to them.
14 A. All the shops were torched or blown up, and people could not work
15 anymore. Everything was over.
16 Q. Did you continue going to work?
17 A. I personally continued going to work, but those who worked in
18 town, to be honest, well, they did not go, or stopped going regularly.
19 Q. And your place of work was --
20 JUDGE HALL: Sorry, is the witness having some difficulty?
21 I don't know if the Court Officer is responding to my question.
22 But I can't hear her.
23 MS. PIDWELL: I think she is but we can't hear her, sir.
24 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter believes that the witness asked
25 the Court Officer for a piece of paper and a pen to make notes.
1 THE REGISTRAR: [Via videolink] No, I apologise, Your Honours.
2 Can you hear me now?
3 JUDGE HALL: [Previous translation continues] ... if that with a
4 system in his testimony, we have no objection.
5 She seems to be saying that that's not what --
6 THE REGISTRAR: [Via videolink] Can -- can you hear me at all,
7 Your Honours? No.
8 [Trial Chamber and Registrar confer]
9 JUDGE HALL: It appears that there's a technical problem and
10 we're going to have to rise until this is resolved.
11 I don't know if it is possible to ...
12 [Trial Chamber and Registrar confer]
13 JUDGE HALL: Yes. I understand it should be resolved in five or
14 ten minutes.
15 --- Break taken at 3.10 p.m.
16 --- On resuming at 3.18 p.m.
17 [Trial Chamber and Registrar confer]
18 MS. PIDWELL:
19 Q. Are you able to hear me?
20 JUDGE HALL: Yes. Pardon me.
21 THE REGISTRAR: [Via videolink] We can hear you.
22 JUDGE HALL: Yes, please, please go ahead. Please go ahead.
23 THE REGISTRAR: [Via videolink] Your Honours, before we left
24 off -- addressing with regards to witness's request to look at a piece of
25 paper that he has in his pocket to remind his ...
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Only because I have some dates on
2 that piece of paper and they are relevant for my testimony. They will
3 help jog my memory about the dates, that piece of paper that I have. And
4 that's all.
5 [Trial Chamber confers]
6 JUDGE HARHOFF: [Microphone not activated]
7 JUDGE HALL: Do counsel have a view on this? My -- I would
8 have -- in terms of the practice and jurisprudence of the Tribunal,
9 the -- my own experience, of course, is that the -- a witness can -- if